Mistress America and the Freedom of Being

mistress america

Tracy just started a writing program at Barnard in NYC, however, her life is not what she had dreamed about. The literary club rejected her work, her only friend found himself a jealous girlfriend and being an introvert she dares not join the college party scene on her own. Suddenly, the idea of calling her soon-to-be stepsister Brooke she has never met doesn’t seem such a bad idea.
Brooke, a 30 year-old Times Square resident, turns out to be everything Tracy would dream of being: crazily fun, confident and enchantingly unpredictable. Together they start a fresh and honest friendship while Brooke becomes Tracy’s muse for her new writing piece, Mistress America.

As Michael Mohan perfectly describes in The Talkhouse, “The drama is rarely manufactured from plot, but usually stems from the characters going through some kind of real transition. And somehow he always manages to do this hilariously without ever betraying the characters or dramatic situations.

It’s true that Baumbach’s movies have a great deal of comedy and you usually find yourself smiling during most of the movie. But Mistress America is seriously hilarious, the whole scene at Dylan and Mamie-Claire’s house (Brooke’s ex-fiancé and ex-best friend respectively) with fast-paced dialogues, perfectly timed puns and twisted plots is simply perfect with absolutely no time for boredom. I remember wishing Woody Allen‘s last movie, Irrational Man, had been anywhere close to this. It’s, as some critics have described, a modern screwball comedy up to the best Capra.

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Narco Cultura- Barcelona In-Edit Festival

narco-cultura-in-edit-barcelona

I’ve lost count of how many festivals are based in Barcelona, almost every week there’s a chance of discovering a new artist or movement you hadn’t heard about.

Beefeater In – Edit is one of my favourites. Celebrating 11 years showing a selection of muisc documentaries, from the most internationally acclaimed to some portraying the local scene, this year it’s brought an especially sensitive film “Narco Cultura“.

From Israeli photo-reporter Schaul Schwarz and Spanish sound technician Juan Bertrán, who spent three years filming in Mexico and United States, Narco Cultura shows two opposite realities surrounding narco-trafficking in Mexico.

On one side we follow Richi Soto, working for the CSI of Juárez, dealing with violent murders every single day in one of the most dangerous cities of the world. The film spares no images when showing the victims and circumstances of the murders, so sensitive viewers should be alert. It is heart breaking to see desperate mothers crying for their lost children in what seems a never-ending absurd massacre. Richi confesses how he’s been tempted to quit, especially after some of his colleagues are murdered, but that he feels he’s gotta do his job.

On the other side of the border we follow Édgar Quintero lead singer of the BuKnas de Culiacán performing narcorridos, songs glorifying the deeds of Mexican drug lords. Getting more and more popular in Mexico and United States, Édgar sees no harm in singing about violence and murder. It’s his job and it’s better than what he was doing in his younger years when he ended in prison. Narco Cultura, portrays how multitudes chant together Quintero’s songs and teenagers confess they wouldn’t mind dating a narco as they’re successful and rich.

In cities where there are no jobs, being a drug lord seems to promise a better life a new form of American dream.

Make sure you don’t miss Narco Cultura, although harsh it’s an unmissable documentary to understand the reality of Mexico, will it ever change?

“Cinema a la Fresca” in Barcelona

 montjuic barcelona cinema
One of the main attractions in Barcelona consists in visiting the Montjuïc mountain. Home of the Olympic stadium and swimming pool as well as the Miro Foundation, Montjuïc is a must see for any Barcelona visitor.

Every year an outdoor cinema season (Cinema a la Fresca ) is organised at Montjuïc Castle at the top of the mountain. Showing a selection of all time classics and recently acclaimed films, there’s always a chance one of the movies might be in your to do’s list.

Or maybe you have already seen the movie and you just want to enjoy the experience of a picnic in a great surroundings, with some live music and a short film screening before the actual movie starts.

Reaching its 11th edition this year, I am quite ashamed to confess that this passed Monday was my first time at Cinema a la Fresca. There were several reasons that made me finally go. First, I found a meet up group that organized a meeting and it seemed the perfect place to meet foreigners and locals and share the experience. The second reason was that they were showing “Drive” which I really wanted to see.

open air cinema barcelona

So there I went with the group and we all enjoyed sharing food and life experiences ( What’s your name?-where are you from? -how long are you staying in Barcelona? – oh! you’re a local? -and so on…), and at 10 p.m. the show started.

The introduction of the movie with its magnetic soundtrack was promising and I almost understood all the Ryan Gosling frenzy among my girlfriends. Who’s that man with such self -control? Does he lead a double life?

cinema a la fresca barcelona

However, as the movie went on, I realized my questions would remain unanswered as the main point of the film was not to portray the secrets and complicated personality of a taciturn character. I didn’t find the plot specially clever or original either but, I must admit the music and shooting blend perfectly together.

In spite of my slight disappointment in the film, I really enjoyed the experience and highly recommend this summer outdoor recreation to anyone! Make sure to check the agenda!

 

 

Shugo Tokumaru live in Barcelona 2013

shugo-tokumaru-barcelona-may-2013

I discovered Shogu a couple of years ago via 8tracks, someone had included his cheerful and uplifting Lahaha in a mix and it  just blew my mind. One doesn’t need to understand the lyrics to get carried away by the sound produced by a myriad of  different instruments used, the pace of the rythm leading to a growing momentum and the sweet sound of his voice on top of it all.

So when I heard he was playing at sala [2] in Barcelona I knew it was gonna be a great Friday night.

The show started with a chipper Fanny Roz playing barefoot and inviting the audience to become part of the show. Born in France but signed up in Catalan label Bcore, she sang and played beautifully, telling different stories on every song.

fanny-roz-barcelona-2013

It was then the turn of Shugo Tokumaru and his 2 member band: a motivated drummer with a soothing smile radiating passion and happiness and an extremely talented girl who would play a dozen of instruments such as accordion, keyboard, xylophone, flute, woodblocks, chimes and even a puppet!

shugo tokumaru barcelona 2013

Shugo, who also performed barefoot, and his band played some of the new songs from In Focus such as Katachi or Decorate and previous hits such as Lahaha or Laminate. The connivance with the audience was obvious and when he grabbed an ukelele and started playing the first notes of Video Killed The Radio Stars it all became a sing-along ensemble.

I took a video of the show, even if the sound is not perfect, it will give you an idea of the positive energy and general state of happiness that could be felt during the show.

If you have the chance go see Shugo live!

MORE PICS FROM THE SHOW

Fresh Feeling in Barcelona – The Eels Concert

eels barcelona 2013

Last Saturday 27th April 2013, five guys dressed up in an Adidas tracksuit, dark sunglasses and mandatory beards performed a master class on how concerts should be. Lead by genious Mark Oliver Everett, aka Mr. E, the band from California landed in sala Barts with an energizing rocking mood, ready to overwhelm the audience with a series of fast tracks, some great classics, many of jokes mixed with signs of affection and commitment. But most of all that fresh, fresh feeling.

mister E barcelona Eels 2013

If you’ve heard a little bit about the band you’ll know that every tour is different and for the presentation of the latest album “Wonderful, Glorious“, maybe not the best but definitely a good one, Mr E and his musketeers chose to rock the house!

eels concert

 

You can check the set list here, but the most important thing about the show wasn’t which songs from their endless repertoire they played, but the energy they put in it. After reading “Things the grandchildren should know” I just don’t get how Mark Oliver Everett is able to transmit such powerful positive feelings when playing. I was left with a “Life is worth living” feeling.

mark oliver everett barcelona 2013

 Eels has been one of favourite bands since I discovered Beautiful Freaks back in the old days. Since then I have been mesmerized by Mr. E’s talent. Dreaming about this someone who is able to tell you “One day the world will be ready for you -And wonder how they didn’t see”. KEEP ON READING