Señor Bardem.

I am so impressed with Javier Bardem these days I thought I'd write a post about him. I think in a world where Brad Pitt is considered the ultimate dream-man with his once-so-pretty face and in a world where teenagers are in love with 15-20 year old boys whose face is more feminine than many women's, it is time for European men to show how we do it. Because here, men are more popular than boys and it's the best that way.
When it comes to ideal actors, I think it's not only the talent that matters, it's also the charisma, the humour, the intelligence. With all his shyness, deep voice and irony, se
ñor Bardem makes the list.

The first Bardem movie I've seen was probably Before night falls (I admit, the reason I decided to watch it was because it also stars Johnny Depp) where he impersonated Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, learning Cuban Spanish and English with a Cuban accent (by the way, have you noticed that his English accent is way more perfect than, for example, Antonio Banderas's, or in general, most of those people's whose mother tongue is Spanish/Italian? But, it might be because his ex is an English teacher. Here's what he had to say about her back when they were together: "I'm in love with my English teacher. We have man of our lessons in bed") and losing 30 pounds (nearly 14kg).
Then, four years later he made pretty sure that I remember his name forever: in Mar adentro his performance was exceptional (his character was 55 year-old so he had to got some help from make-up artists to make his 35 year-old face younger) - so touching, so thought-provoking. No wonder the film received an Oscar for Best foreign language film. If you watch only one Spanish movie, watch this one, it is one of the best.
His most recent roles in Goya's ghosts and No country for old men helped him get even more noticed out of Europe and nowadays he's a star. And he deserves it so much... He has maganaged to remain a very nice man, down-to-earth, shy, who takes his mother with him to the Oscars and who said after Al Pacino called him to say he loved one of his performances: "I don't believe in God, I believe in Al Pacino."
He is the man you could listen to for hours because he always has something to say, something that's different from others's opinion. When they asked him if making a movie was a challenge for him, he said all the actors make complaint about how hard it is to play a role, both physically and psychically but "give me a break. It's just a movie."

Look at that wide, honest smile. His not-so-usual face, great movie choices and entertaining interviews suggest not only his star is not stagnating, it is rising so fast hopefully it won't stop until it reaches the very top.

P.S. Do not miss him in Love in the time of cholera - in my country it came out a while ago, in your country it might be about to be released on DVD, anyways - watch it! :)


Oscars, what else.

I love the Oscars so much I've been staying up all night to watch it for years (the show begins at aroun 2:00 am here in Hungary). I couldn't say why I am happy to give up sleep once (okay, with the Golden Globes, twice) a year, I think the answer complicated - to see my favourite stars in all their glory, to hear the host fool around (by the way, kudos to Jon Stewart for the show, it was hilarious and wonderful, just like for the first time) and last but definitely not least, to see great artists accept that well-deserved and wanted golden statue.
This year, I am happy to say that I'm satisfied with the results.
I crossed all my fingers for Spanish darling Javier Bardem whom I have admired since Mar adentro (not to mention Before night falls that had earned him his first nomination) and I can't wait to see him in Woody Allen's next project. It was touching to see him win, it was obvious how much it meant for him and if you watch him in No country for old men (I recommend you to watch it, excellent movie) you know he deserved it probably more than anyone. It is rare for me to say a character is really frightening but his most of the time speechless serial killer role was uncanny.

Then there were the Coen brothers who were lucky enough to win three Oscars for the aforementioned No country for old men. Their movies are always thought-provoking masterpieces (think The man who wasn't there or Fargo) and No country... is not an exception.
Though my heart is bleeding for Johnny Depp (he really, really should win an Oscar!), my only comfort is that he reportedly hates to speak in front of an audience and that Daniel Day-Lewis deserved it as well. I have to say, he is too good in almost everything, too bad I don't get to see him in more movies (but In the name of the father is unsurpassable).

As for the ladies, I was delighted to witness Marion Cotillard's triumph for La vie en rose. She was a fantastic Édith Piaf and she's so nice and shy it is basically impossible not to like her.

Of course I can't ignore fashion... My favourites were Marion Cotillard and Vanessa Paradis - she is always so beautiful at the Oscars (and other events) she outshines many of the A-list stars.

Finally, Mr. Jon Stewart himself, because I love him so much I couldn't stop myself from posting a picture of him...


One Hundred Strokes of the Brush Before Bed

There are many typical teenager books on the market but frankly speaking, they are more childish than teenager. (Not that teens aren't childish in a way). There are the scandal books everyone wants to read. And then there is Melissa Panarello, aka Melissa P., author of One Hundred Strokes of the Brush Before Bed, that is a teenager scandal novel. This is the book that is closer to 15-18 year-old girls than, for example Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries. Naive? Yes, of course. Authentic? It was based upon her diary, it is about her sexual life. Erotic? Oh well, it's somewhere between erotic and pornographic but is thought-provoking and surprising. She speaks about penetration the way other writers would say 'and then, I woke up and went to the bathroom...' - naturally, easily, without shame.
And why should she be ashamed of anything?

I recommend it to everyone who wants to know what is in the head of a naive, looking-for-love teenage girl who happens to experience sex with numerous men - and one woman. No taboos, no shyness, she is as honest as people are with their diaries, yet sometimes sad and everyone of us will find something in her that reminds us to ourselves.
There is also a film, Melissa P. but it is not backed by the author because it's not accurately related to her novel. Because of this, I think it's better to read the book - films can hardly give back the thoughts, especially not with this piece where they have a huge part in the esssence of the story.
(Original title: 100 colpi di spazzola prima di andare a dormire)


Misunderstood movies.

There is a latin proverb: De gustibus non est disputandum. It means something like 'we can't discuss taste'. When it comes to art we can not convince anyone of how good or not good a piece of art is but it is not true that we can not discuss them. Of course we can. The question is: what for? Answer nr. 1: because it's good sharing and exchanging thoughts with others. Answer nr. 2: because this way we discover further thought in ourselves.
But there are some movies that are completely misunderstood and hated by many people, even critics. And since we can discuss taste, I will share with you the reasons why I loved these misunderstood movies.
1. The Village

M. Night Shyamalan's movie with Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody and Sigourney Weaver (and I could go on). I have always loved Shyamalan's movies (most of them - Lady in the water was terrible), think 6th sense and Signs (so funny). I think the reason why most people dislike The Village (and maybe even Signs) is that it is not what they expected - they thought they would see a horror or a thriller and what they get is not like that at all. I think The Village is ironic and utopic and this is what's wonderful about it - I have not seen any utopic movies for ages and even if the ones I've seen were poor in humour. But The Village is funny - Adrien Brody is perfect as the village idiot. But after all, in what role is not he perfect? And Joaqin's faces... God, I love him. Remember when Ivy's sister confesses she loves him? Look at his face, you'll laugh out hard. But towards the end, it is thought wakening and saddening. So basically, this is why I love The Village - it makes me laugh, then it makes me think. And M. Night's cameo is perfectly shot!

2. Surviving Picasso

You might know I am a Picasso fanatic. And though I love Anthony Hopkins, he is uncannily talented, I was reluctant to watch Surviving Picasso because I've heard it was bad and I loved The Adventures of Picasso so much I thought it was impossible to make a better movie than that. But finally, my love for Picasso and the fact that The Adventures... is a comedy and this is not made me watch it, despite all the harsh reviews. You know what happened? I adored it. It was authentic (Hopkins's moves, gestures, so Picasso!), interesting and marvellous. It's not a perfect movie, I admit but I was so impressed that after it ended I felt like I could watch it again. Most of the critics say it is a bad movie because it concentrates on Picasso the lover and not on Picasso the artist. But the title says it all - Surviving Picasso; it's about his women, especially Francoise Gilot (pictured above). I recommend it to everyone, especially to those who are interested in artist biopics, even if this one is about relationships and not work. But there are some (I think two) scenes when Picasso is painting and it's nice to see it, it's interestingly interpreted but a bit short. But if you want to see him work, watch Clouzot's The Mystery of Picasso when the 'original' Pablo Picasso is filmed while painting his world-famous Guernica...


The ultimate dance, the ultimate scene.

Though unfortunately I can not dance, I am considering taking a ballroom dance course. It would have many advantages - being more secure on weddings and other balls, for example - but the main reason is that tango is taught on these classes. I think the first time I fell for tango was when I saw it being danced in True Lies (yes, the Schwarzenegger movie). It was surprisingly seductive and wonderful, even if the dancers were - at least to me - anything but attractive (except for Tiw Carrere, of course). Oh, and I just loved that rose thing).
Here it is, thanks to our good friend, youtube:
True Lies tango scence
True Lies tango scene with Jamie Lee Curtis
And then, in Scent of a woman, where a beautiful girl and Al "never goes out of stlye" Pacino performed it, I knew I was lost for good. It was so beautiful and touching (remember, Pacino is blind in the movie) and sexy, so irresistible. Here's the clip (according to the story, he's dancing tango with the girl because she has always wanted to learn how to dance it but couldn't find anyone who could show her).
Scent of a woman tango scene
My mother says she can recall Antonio Banderas dancing tango too, but I doubt what she remembers is his tango in Take the lead, that leaves me unimpressed.

Since tango has many versions and can also be impromptu (as far as I know the one being danced in Scent of a woman is Argentine tango but I might be wrong, I am definitely not a dance expert), I do not know if the great and temperamental dance in The mask of Zorro (Banderas&Ζeta-Jones)is tango or not. However, since Antonio is the person most people imagine a typical Spanish man (i.e. good looking and passionate), I think he is perfect for tango (and I'm quite sure with his musical soul he had danced it in some other movies too)!

In a few words, tango is beautiful, erotic, passionate, seductive, timeless... - the ultimate dance. I can't wait to learn it. It might be difficult to dance it casually-passionately but it is worth it. I think if anyone knows only one dance, it should be tango - just imagine dancing it with a significant other... So perfect. And the music... isn't it divine?


A slice of Venice again.

First of all, sorry for the rare posts but the truth is, my classes make me extra busy nowadays and I don't have time to think of anything else. But hopefully, it will calm down soon.

Until then, here's a picture from Venice, taken of a gondola driver. Note the red details (even if the sunglasses are anything but perfect).

It is a well-known fact that Venetians are stylish and I usually add that even the beggars are stylish in a way (I still remember that impeccable elder gentleman who was more good-looking than many urban men)... And the gondola drivers are no exception, of course. Their uniform is kind of attractive, with all its Picasso-ish elements.

PS.: Sorry for the bad quality...


The poet. The language. The sadness.

My favourite poet is Endre Ady and I've been planning to post about him for a long time but have always decided no to because I couldn't find a proper translation to make you understand why he is so special, so brilliant, so outstanding.
The truth is, Hungarian language is beautiful and rich in words, expressions and because of this, it's practically impossible to translate Hungarian poems, especially when it comes to someone like Ady, who uses so many words and synonyms, symbols, etc.
He was The poet, the man everyone wanted to know. According to a famous writer who had the privilege of being his acquaintance, "everyone around him was sparkling for him, everyone around him wanted to be more beuatiful, more intelligent, more evil and more heady - everyone around him, even the most balanced created hysteria around them to get closer to him."
His poems are filled with pain, bitter love, death, sadness, religion (most of the time his religious references are references to Biblical persons, events and when he talks about God or Jesus, he does that without belonging to any churches) and audacity.
His life was adventurous, filled with Paris and women - he has lived a thousand lives until his death in 1919 (he was born in 1877).
His most famous relationship was with a woman called Léda - during their relationship (and Léda was married...) he had treated her like a goddess. Then when he decided to break up, he wrote the most despising love poem in Hungarian literature, Sweet Letter of Dismissal. The effect was so painful for the lady and even for him that later he wrote a nicer break up poem (its title is basically not translateable). This is just one anecdote from his life...


Let the charm that broke a hundred times again.
You are dismissed once more and for the very last
if you believed that I should always keep you
or that there was still need to be dismissed.
Stricken, a hundred times, I throw at you
the ample, lordly rope of my forgetting.
Now clad yourself against the greater cold,
now clad yourself because I pity us
for the great shame of the unequal strife,
for your humiliation and all else.
In a word, by now I pity only you.

How long and how in secret it has been like this.
To gild your fate how many times there sprang
from chating grace the lovely Leda psalms,
concocted and conveyed for sake of art for art.
I never did receive or take away.
I gently handed you the heresy
of kisses that in mind I kissed with others,
of love acts that in mind I loved with others;
and now I thank you for as many embraces,
I thank you for as many one-time Ledas
as any male may have the power to thank
when stepping over an old and worn-out kiss.

How long since I have tried to look for you
in sand dunes of the past and troubled present.'
On your future's slawish womanish path
how long ago I had dismissed you from my mind.
How long I searched for nothing
but to bequeath you something from myself
and my unique poetic, trumped-up charges
that in your orphaned love you might find solace
and claim you also were, not only he
who could not bear the weight alone
and hung some ornaments upon a woman.

From my proud breast which is insatiable and great
I wanted to behold a gentle fall
and not the small revenge of a forsaken female
who in her fury waits in ambush with some man,
and not the mocking ot your poor and little self,
for I had placed my Croesus mark on you
and gave you cause for faith that you belonged to me
and that your passing should take place unseen.
I presented you the largess of my embraces
that you would find a joy in them,
and you were nothing but a little question mark
until with my arrival you became fulfilled.

Will you flutter like a dessicated flower
from the leaves of a long tranquil prayer book
or will you flounce about and wear to rags
your purchased nimbus - this despotic, sombre yoke -
and my self-idolizing prayers
which stammer after all for some deserving woman?
I ask the destiny not to let you
presume to cross my starry fate.
Whatever swallows you, a flood or dross,
you live through me because I saw you, but long ago
you ceased to be because I ceased to see you.

(This Fugitive Life, 1912)
Tr: Anton N. Nyerges and me

And believe me, this translation is nothing compared to the original one. I am terribly sad and feeling dumb because it's not possible to show the world what a genious he was. If someone, anyone decides to learn Hungarian, this is the best reason - to understand poems. No matter how hard this language is to learn, it is worth it to read the masterpieces in all their glory.


Why I love opera.

I must confess, nowadays nothing impresses me much - I don't have anything new to write about so I thought I might share with you the reason I love opera so much.

First of all, I am sure you remember when Richard Gere says something like this in Pretty Woman: "the first time at Opera makes you decide whether you'll like it or not for the rest of your life" and well, it's quite true. I think many people who dislike opera don't appreciate it because whenever they think of it, they recall a woman singing something not understandable in an annoyingly high tone. But that's not what opera is about.

I have always loved opera because in my opinion it has all that's needed: the lyrics are beautiful (thankfully they're mostly Italian so I can understand them), the story is great, the vision is marvellous and the voices and the music is touching. Opera expresses emotions in at least five fields, all at once, what else could one ask for?
Maybe a good experience, right? I was lucky enough to have that in Venice. And that was the day when I officially became an admirer.
A gentleman was standing on the street, singing opera, escorted by music (sometimes his own but usually from a recorder but that did not reduce the wonder). He was not a beggar, as you can see in the picture, he had expensive equipment, he was just singing for fun, because he can sing and loves to sing. When he performed sad songs, I felt like I was about to cry myself and when he sang songs from opera buffa-s (comical operas), the whole street was filled with energy, his and the performance's energy. He was also talking between two songs and since my cousin and I were sitting quite close to him, he looked at us (we were smiling) and said: "nothing's more beautiful than a woman smiling than a woman smiling with all her heart" (the translation is poor, it sounded more beautifully in Italian).

It was an exceptional experience that turned my love to adoration.
I believe even if those who dislike opera should at least respect it and the singers for the talent of interpreting passion, love, tragedy, hate, jealousy and other basic human emotions in a special and incomparable way.
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