REVIEW: A MIRACLE IN SPANISH HARLEM

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Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you A Miracle In Spanish Harlem. Do be sure to catch this film; It’s like watching a poem.

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This is not an exclusively Hispanic story – it’s just a story that happens to people who just happen to be Latino. The story is timeless, crossing boundary and culture, its main language LOVE. And that is what translates. It is for this very reason that I could see MIRACLE being adapted for live performance, and being that all the world IS a stage, then you could take this piece anywhere, for anywhom.

Director Derek Partridge seems to have gifted his ensemble with a vision of his own; a pragmatic approach enabling some really real  performances. Five minutes in and already, I’ve identified with TITO. This is a guy whose eyes are as crucial as the script in telling us the story. As Luis Antonio Ramos draws us in with those peepers, so he lets us see his world through them.

This is a world whose genetic make-up began with an extract of Carlos Bermúdez, whose screenplay gave birth to a pretty awesome bunch of people. (I refuse to call them characters when they’re as real as this). It is this writer’s DNA that acts as a catalyst here, setting off a series of events that allow the production team and performers to deeply reach within themselves. And then, they decorate our screen from the inside, painting in wide, free brush-strokes with their own souls. Their palette? STORIES.

We see Tito’s Mom, (Priscilla Lopez) having a rant for his shamelessly blocking the love of God from his girls’ lives. And just how true is this performance? Well – for starters, Ms Lopez would appear to have studied my own (Irish Catholic) parents for inspiration. For the most part, she underplays – thus underpinning the very nature of a parent who thinks they know what’s best for their children. (And they’re usually right, damnit).

Back to those eyes. There’s stories behind them; we know this much already. As Tito’s single-parent status is established pretty early on, so it’s apparent there’s a lost love behind them. And we’re dying to find out more; we eventually do just that, through the heart of Mr Ramos, which he wears on Tito’s face. Ramos pours everything he has into the pressure-cooker of Tito, to be released in drip-feed motion as the vapour is released. The revelations of the depths of his soul are conveyed both with words, and without.

Gradually, we’re GRACED with EVA (Kate del Castillo) as she glides through the store, eventually meeting us face-to-face at the checkout. We immediately warm to her, so it’s unsurprising that Tito feels likewise. From the get-go, Eva’s established as a feisty lass, with just the right amount of charm and a healthy sprinkling of pluck – this is Miss America right here. She recognises a good ‘un, too, as she acclaims Ernie as “something-else” in exactly the right way. (Ernie – sensitively observed and displayed for our viewing pleasure by the super-talented Adrian Martinez – is a man whose presence tells us a lot about the others; this is great use of the sidekick narrative device).

Then there’s the kids -the gorgeous kids. Confidently performed by Fatima Ptacek and Brianna Gonzalez-Bonacci, Amanda and Samantha are two little girls hopeful for their Father’s future. They’re part of him, and they don’t let him forget it.

There’s a bit of ACTION, too, which I won’t spoil for you. The MAIN EVENT is something we as the audience aren’t privy to, but the resultant aftermath is displayed. Whether this was intentional or a result of budgetary constraints, it worked. If it was the latter, then Serendipity was at work.

It’s far from a perfect movie, but if truth be told, the minor flaws kind of added to its charm. I’d liked to have seen more realism –tighter direction might have been the key – when the girls met Daddy after the aforementioned occurrence. Apart from beautiful puppy-sad eyes, there wasn’t much difference between their reaction here and the more everyday scenes.

I could have done without the canine back-story and Eva’s au-pair revelation; we’d already endeared ourselves to her, so this felt like a sell-out. It kind of felt like an addendum, the white lie itself a deliberate flaw-of-sorts sellotaped on to Eva’s character. To have kept her as Miss 90210 would have only added weight to the love story – and would have actually been a nice Cinderella twist – she with the princely wealth and he, scrubbing the floors.

The Miracle itself was a bit of a MacGuffin – I’m talking the actual miracle here, not the miraculous finding yourself/finding love/finding happiness theme. I blame the REST of the movie for being so damned good that it sucked me in and made me want to forget the supernatural edge. It gave me PEOPLE to believe in, so I didn’t need a Power, a Glory, or a Holy Ghost. Is divine (or Tyronian) intervention the reason things turned out for our couple? I’m pretty sure that with the strength of our two lovers, supported by one heck of a loving family, things would’ve worked out anyway for sure.

So is it true what they say? That they don’t make them like that any more?

They just did.

Pass The Tissues rating (out of 5):

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Four Fifths of Breaking Bad

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I don’t know why I like it so much. It’s compelling stuff, granted. But to have your principal thisclose to sexually assaulting his wife, failing to help a dying girl, and engineering the lirio scenario? That’s a risky little game!

Beaut TV is in the square eyes of the remote beholder. But Gilligan’s Isla? It’s bigger than that. It’s unsurpassed, Shakespearean devastation for the screen.

What started as visual methadone for a Dexter addiction has since stolen my every gram of potential sleep. We’re talking five episodes injected at any given sitting. Why watch just one teenth of a season per night?

Perfectly imperfect…..and oh! the hypnosis of narcosis. This is a poetic expedition explaining why the high is worth the risk. And, ultimately, why people bring meth labs to airports.

It’s ART of the highest order. There’s more POV shots than you can open a fridge to (my particular favourite being the delightfully dusty Vac-cam).

And then there’s the sheer ProtAGONY! There’s the Jesse of murders past haunting the Jesse of murders present, and the dawning that there’s ALWAYS someone bigger than you. Especially when you parade around most of the day in your tightie (Walter) Whities.

I’m broken in, good. Please send season 5 my way. That is all.

Ralph.

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Ralph Fiennes owes me one, BIG TIME. He made me reach for the STOP button with Shakespeare!!!! And THAT is almost unforgivable.

I say almost, because he did spoil me with his sublime, passionate bastard of a Heathcliff and his Luciferous Amon Goeth, not to mention his dreamy realisation of the Constant Husband, gardening away until he reached the truth. But CoriolANUS sucked.

This review is one-fourth the size it should be, because I only viewed a quarter of the movie. Which wasn’t moving in the slightest.

It didn’t draw me in – even the POWER of William’s Words couldn’t save this attempt to turn Ancient Rome into the Hurt Locker. And contrary to popular belief, EVERY Brit-flick does NOT have to contain a Redgrave. Be TOLD!

I bid Fiennes to wash his face, keep his teeth clean, and consider some atonement in the form of self-flagellation. That oughta do it.

(As I finish this rantlet, I can hear Ralph – somewhere in the distance with shame etched on his face: Like a dull actor now, I have forgot my part, and I am out, even to a full disgrace.)

Exit- screen right

The Dead Zone

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To my Darling The Dead Zone.
It’s been 30-odd years and we’re still going strong.  Biannual dalliances have kept us perennial, and with every date you deliver something new, to someone who is:
Not scared – she knows him.
Each time you visit, you promise me a cold time in the old town tonight. And you ALWAYS play that game with me: Castle Rock, Paperback, Dodd’s Scissors…..

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With an apparent budget of tens of dollars, I can easily forgive your one flaw: the worst movie death ever (Johnny’s mom), instead relishing one of the finest (her son).

You iconified Walken, and via Sheen, you gave us the Dark Side of Jed Bartlett (You KNEW!!).
Herbert Lom achingly reveals Weizak’s past – a devastating telephone-exposition that his young self just wasn’t meant to be; and so, we learn how second-Sam was born.
Even your melancholy score is in absolute simpatico with my heartbeat, every note reflecting seat-edgedness, teasing out a symphonic range of emotion via a three-part harmony (The Murders, The Spells, and The Prez).
Your clued up crew were in on it, and it shows-from the aural delight of the crunching gazebo snow to the Johnny-lookin’-spooky uplighting.
You’ve been a real sport to me. You just fucking (castle) ROCK and I shall never let you go.
Nevermore…Nevermore…Nevermore.
Let’s send Mediocrity to hell.
Lin.
X

THE NHS? SHOCKING.

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Ma: The Doctors were useless. Yer Dad’s alright now though. But d’ya know what? (Shudders)… I was SO disgusted…THAT hospital.. Sheesh..It’s gone to the dogs…Me: (Bracing for a Ma-ism) Go on…

Ma: They don’t do the envelope corners any more when they make the beds.

#SomeoneCallThePolice
#ThisIsWhat’sWrongWithSociety

SAY IT AGAIN

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War, huh? What is it good for? A bit of ethnic cleansing here and there, pretty little lab experiments in this petri(fied) dish of a planet? World “leaders” getting their cocks out to compare size? Yeah. It’s good for all those things. War, huh? What is it bad for? Absolutely everythin’.

EIGHTLEGGER

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That moment in between asleep and awake…..when the sheet tickles your leg and your tired, pathetic subconscious decides that two and two equal five and that it must be a spider. That moment when you shoot out of bed, heart racing, as if said imaginary spider spans eighteen feet and is holding a stabby weapon in one “hand” and a shooty one in another. All this whilst he waves at you, menacingly, glaring with his far-too-many eyes. THAT is what happens when a sheet dares to tickle your leg. And THEN, standing at the light switch that you right-hooked to ON, you scratch your thigh because, damnit, it feels like there’s something ON IT. There is. The remains of a little tiny eight-legger who chose to crawl under you for some warmth and perhaps protect you from flies. And then you feel exceptionally guilty and decide to take on the day like some superhero – Arachnoman, maybe…or Rachnobabe, vowing to save at least one of the little critters from a squishy demise.

DO

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Today is tomorrow’s yesterday and yesterday’s tomorrow. Stop contemplating about thinking about procrastinating, and do whatever thing your IT may be. Get on it. Today may be your last, or someone else’s.

Why I Love Fucking

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There’s poetry and beauty to be found in the unlikeliest of places. Perhaps even at the precise moment you’re advised to get fucked or fuck off. I especially adore performances by afuckingmazing actors whose cussin’ is nothing short of endearing. Expletive infixation – it’s comfuckingpletely up my street.

All derivatives of His Esteemed Effness can be (parental advisory) music to the ears, but ONLY when used correctly. Whether or not you choose to use the hard G is up to you…. there’s a place for all in the kingdom of fuck. It’s character-building; quite literally.

When a writer has a person to create, it’s important to know how they FEEL and therefore how they SPEAK. In building those characters, something as simple as the inclusion or omission of the hard G can say SO much, and make for a solid foundation. When scribin’ a Scouser, or creating a Cockney, you need to FUCKIN’ LEAVE IT OUT. For the posh or pedantic, make the G as hard as you can. Emphasis by inflection is then up to your actor’s understanding of the invented individual they’re about to inhabit.

The greatest fucking characters? Well…..the BEAUTIFULLY observed Deb Morgan would have you fuck her twice on Sundays, or even sideways at times. You could shit a brick and fuck her with it, but not one single such utterance makes you respect her any less. These words are so beautifully written-and performed- that they are simply audible proof of a soul on display as Jennifer Carpenter sings the swearsome lyrics she’s given.

There’s Bruce Robinson’s fucking BEAUTIFUL ART. With such judicious swearing, giving LIFE to nothingness, breathing oxygen into the mundane. “Of COURSE he’s the FUCKING farmer” is the ONLY way Marwood could have expressed his sopping wet frustration to Withnail at this muddy juncture.

Chuck Palahniuk and Jim Uhls welcome you into their Fight Club, as long as you obey and welcome this rule: they KNOW their characters and will hurl them at your screen until YOU do too. They make Marla SING as she informs us that “My God. I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school.” Tyler Durden looks like you wanna look, fucks like you wanna fuck, and through this, we learn that he is “smart, capable, and most importantly…. free in all the ways that you are not”.

Martin McDonagh – what else can I say but FUCK ME; THAT MAN CAN WRITE. When you stay over with him In Bruges, he paints colourful mirth as Ken retracts that bit about Harry’s cunt fucking kids. But if ever swearing were appropriate, it’s here, as the perfect antithesis for that Christmas tree somewhere in London, with a bunch of presents underneath it that’ll never be opened.

McDonagh does it again a few years later with Seven Psychopaths, where he takes you on this JOURNEY via his screenplay-within-a-screenplay, and makes you wonder if you can change the title from Seven Psychopaths to The Seven Lesbians Who Are All Disabled And Have Overcome All Their Spazzy Shit And Are Really Nice to Everybody And Two of Them Are Black. I can’t analyse how he does it, I don’t WANNA. I just know that he does.

There’s the other side, too. Stephen Adly Guirgis takes on Judas Iscariot’s Last Days, via a courtroom full of street-talkers. It starts beautifully, before a single word, as a woman emerges from her past. It’s funny in parts, with some good Little Bits, but for the most part, the cussin’ just FEELS crowbarred in (Pretty much as I’ve deliberately done here, throughout this rant).

Saint Monica is a nag, whose ass gets results, but I’m just not sure whether she gets those results in spite of, or BECAUSE of her many mothafuckahs. It’s not just Saint Mon, there are others whose “street” language just doesn’t SCAN. I’m told (by very reliable sources) that this is one AMAZESOME play in the flesh. Perhaps those characters LEAP from the page onto a stage, but I was feeling so MEH by the end of it that I have no inclination to go and see it to find out. Maybe a nice in-the-round or fourth-wall setting would make all the difference. (I’d love to be proven the fuck wrong).

Where the FUCK does fuck come from in the first place? How did he evolve into this perfect tool for ANGER and PASSION? Fuck’s etymology isn’t certain; he has a plethora of apocryphal acronyms. He wasn’t derived from Fornication Under Consent of the King, nor did he come from Forced Unnatural Carnal Knowledge. All that is bollocks, stuff of (Urban) Legend. Fuck has his own Wiki page, (check it out) with some FAR more probable word-birthdom, from the Dutch fokken (to breed, to beget); dialectal Norwegian fukka (to copulate), and dialectal Swedish focka (to strike, to copulate).

However he was conceived, I love Fuck like he was one of my own, and will continue to do so until the day I fucking die. I just hope he NEVER fucking does.