REVIEW: A MIRACLE IN SPANISH HARLEM

Standard

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

Image

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):

imagesimagesimagesimages

Four Fifths of Breaking Bad

Standard
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.

Standard
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

Standard
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…..

1

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.

Standard
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

Standard
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

Standard

 

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

Standard
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.

THE DANISH PLAY

Standard

The play’s the thing. And WHAT a piece of work is this play: how noble in structure, how infinite in interpretation. In form and moving, how express and admirable.

Our main guy, H, needs no intro, so I won’t give him one (keep it clean, folks). I’d refer to him as the titular character—but I frickin’ hate that wanky-ass phrase, so I’m not gonna. Anywho—he’s as Danish as bacon, his Dad (KING Hamlet—yup) has only gone and snuffed it, and his Pop’s brother Claudius has creepily snapped up H’s mother, Gertrude. Ew. Hence, King Claudius reigns, albeit rather sorta-incestuously-ish.

hamlettennant460

The Scene: swanky royal castle, Elsinore. Foreshadowing ante: upped to the max.

Some guard-dudes tell Hamlet’s buddy, Horatio, that they’ve seen King H’s ghost. This gets back to young Hammy m’lad, who resolves to see said apparition for himself. That night, the Ghost appears (nicely telegraphed, Shakey) and spookily informs Hamlet that Claudius was the geezer-wot-bumped him off, aurally. Ghostdad demands his son avenge his foul and most unnatural murder; H doesn’t need telling twice, and although he’s not altogether convinced, he goes with the flow, runs with it—feigning madness in the process (it’s Shakey, kids. Everyone’s either nutso or pretends to be).

Anxious about Ham’s increasing bonkersness, two of his chums go undercover to get the goss. Hammy cottons on pretty quickly that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are shifty little shits.

Polonius is Claudius’ counsellor-in-chief, and his daughter, Ophelia, is banging Hamlet. Probably. (She is a Nymph, in thy orisons, and he DOES love her, even more than forty-thousand brothers.) Shortly afterwards, Ophelia meets Hamlet in secret (her Dad and brother Laertes are none too happy about the dude) but tells her father about H’s crazy state. Polonius gives Claudius and Gertrude the heads-up, blaming H’s state on an ecstasy of love. At their next date, Hamlet kicks off at Ophelia, imagining all kinds of incestuous sluttery in his bonce, and insisting that she GET THEE TO A NUNNERY. Niiice.

Hamlet decides to stage a gig (play-within-a-play: Shakey 101) re-enacting his ol’ man’s murder, reckoning he can determine Claudius’ guilt by eyeballing his reaction. After seeing the Character-King murdered with poison in the ears (I told you —aurally), Claudius abruptly fucks off for a bit: PROOF! (It’ll never hold up in court, mate.)

Gertiebaby summons Hamlet to her boudoir (as y’do … bit icky, mind, but whatever). On his way, H passes Claudius praying his little arse off but lets him live, reckoning that death in prayer would send the twat to heaven rather than to the hell he so richly deserves. Hamlet and his Ma have a barney. Polonius, earwigging behind a tapestry, squeaks (or something like that) and Hamlet, believing it to be Claudius, gets a bit pissy and a tad stabby, killing said tapestry. And Polonius. Oops.

Ghostie comes back, nagging H to take Claudius out. Coz, yknow—he got it A BIT WRONG last time, the clumsy fucker. Gertie, blind and deaf to the spectre, is by now pretty certain her son has lost the proverbial plot. Ham hides Polonius’ DB; and Claudius, shitting himself, banishes Hamlet to save his own skin (but not before re-deploying his two spies).

Demented, Ophelia wanders around in bawdy banshee-mode. Claudius convinces Laertes that Hamlet is entirely to blame for all the death and all the crazy.

News arrives (as is often the case) that Hamlet’s badassery is still a threat, so Claudius concocts a fencing match between Laertes and Hamlet, with—GET THIS—poison-tipped rapiers (with a side order of equally bedrugged wine—gotta have a contingency plan).

Gertie reports that Ophelia has drowned. Two conveniently-placed gravediggers discuss her apparent suicide, all the while digging her imminent six-feet-underness. Hamlet arrives with Horatio and one of the gravediggers unearths the grinning skull of a jester. You all know the quote. Or you all THINK you know the quote.

Ophelia’s Laertes-led funeral procession approaches (they organised ‘em pretty quickly in those days). He and Hamlet have a bit of a go at each other but are swiftly told to knock it off.

Hamlet tells Horatio that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead (they have to be. They made a movie about it). He also details his escape, just so WE know Horatio knows …

With Fortinbras’ Norwegian army closing in, it’s Face/Off. It’s time for H and L to fence, grunting and sweating under their weary lives. Laertes pierces Hamlet with a poisoned blade but is fatally wounded by said weapon. Gertie accidentally drinks the poisoned wine (coz reasons) and rushes into the secret house (where she snuffs it). Just before he kicks the bucket, Laertes reveals Claudius’ dodgy death plot to Hamlet. Just before HIS expiry date (keep up, double-oh-seven), Hamlet manages to kill Claudius and names Fortinbras as his heir. Fortie orders Hamlet’s body be borne off in honour. Here’s the rub: (almost) everybody dies. Nobody wins*.

(*Except maybe Norway. It’s one-nil to Norway. Ish. Kinda. Not really. Maybe. I’m confused.)

Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives
must die; passing through nature to eternity.

^Except for Billy Bob Shakespeare, of course, who gets to live forever. Sigh.