June 29, 2011

Lima Rock City - Renzo Núñez Melgar (Reve)

Du poil sous les roses (2000)
Claudio Gallina

Obadia & Chervier's film confronts teenage sexuality through the analysis of contemporary society's demands. Every aspect of life demands now utter success; and sex has become yet another facet in which one must either triumph or perish. "Du poil sous les roses" focuses mainly in two characters: Roudoudou, a lightheaded and cheerful girl who is preoccupied with sexual matters that no one can answer plainly. School education is not fit to the inquiries of young minds; the expert's opinion (in this case her gynecologist) is too cold and detached from the actual sexual act. The other character is 15-years-old Romain, a seemingly reclusive boy whose only friend is the son of her mother's lesbian partner.

Our vision of sex has evolved and devolved throughout time. Sex has been interpreted from a healthy perspective of tolerance in Ancient Greece and in the first two centuries of the Roman Empire, to a more restricted or condemned approach in medieval times; it has even been a force that needed to be subjugated and canalized into the path of prosperity and production in the Victorian Age. Nonetheless, sex is today as complex as ever, perhaps even more complicated as this film suggests.

Jacques Lacan's followers have theorized that in contemporary society the individual has become the main and sole purpose of the being, whereas in past times a social group or even a shared idea would have been of paramount relevance. The individual, of course, must be defined negating the other. Thus, contemporary approach to sex consists in nullifying the otherness of the sexual partner. Sex is no longer an intimate or powerful moment, but rather the reification of the individual's Lacanian imperative of jouissance. The film provides more than enough arguments to uphold this analysis.

As philosopher Alan Badieu explains, we live in a society of symptom and simulacrum. Sex is a powerful act and as such is deemed dangerous, so the only way to get rid of it is through simulacrum. Certain forms of contemporary pornography nurture the simulacrum to the point it becomes more important than sex itself. In "Du Poil Sous les Roses", the viewer witnesses yet another form of simulacrum, although a saner one, in two scenes: during the first one Roudoudou overhears his brother having "sex phone" with her best friend. In the second one, Roudoudou catches Romain in the middle of a "sex call". Although in the movie the strength of the simulacrum lingers on so fiercely that sex is replaced and no real intercourse takes place (in fact sexual intercourse between the boy and the girl will become an excruciating moment they cannot surmount easily). The symptom symbolizes the discontents of civilization, and as such here the heterosexual normative works only to seclude Romain and his male friend from accepting motherly lesbianism or even homosexuality. As it can be seen in the mutual masturbation scene between the two boys, homosexuality is quickly dismissed as a valid option. What do the directors try to tell us with this? Perhaps that in a world saturated with information we no longer seek the truth, we just comfortably adapt ourselves to the simulacrum laid ahead in front of us. Even after all the stimulus teenagers currently get, their knowledge about sex still doesn't amount to much.

__________________________________________________________________
Cuadros en el taller de Reve

Cuando llegué alrededor de las ocho a la Sala de Arte de Viajes El Corte Inglés el lugar estaba repleto. Renzo Núñez Melgar Vega (Reve) había convocado una gran cantidad de visitantes, quizá algunos atraídos por sus maravillosos cuadros y otros por el concierto de Dirty Black Brain, el grupo de rock integrado por Asad López de Castilla y el mismo Renzo. Conocí a ambos artistas en Barranco, hace unos meses, sin saber que compartían un taller en el mismo distrito. Y entre charlas y copas de vino en diversas galerías de arte, terminamos haciéndonos amigos.

Cuadro de Reve en proceso
Ellos fueron uno de los primeros en leer el segundo volumen de THE GATHERING y en darme sus comentarios y opiniones sobre mis páginas. Al visitar su taller he sido testigo del trabajo continuo del artista. Efectivamente, durante los últimos meses Renzo estuvo pintando mañana, tarde y noche, literalmente casi sin respiro –desapareció, incluso, del circuito limeño de galerías– y se concentró en una sola meta: pintar los cuadros para Lima Rock City, la muestra que se inauguraba ayer martes.

A veces me he sentido un poco culpable al tocar la puerta del taller, sabiendo que interrumpía aunque fuese brevemente la labor artística. Pero ser testigo del proceso ha sido invalorable. Ahí he estado, en más de una ocasión, observando la paciencia y la dedicación de Renzo. Ahora, al ver todos los cuadros en un solo lugar siento algo más allá que el simple interés de un visitante anónimo.


Cuadro terminado (imagen tomada del catálogo de Reve)
Pero aunque no lo conociera, lo icónico de sus imágenes, la certera referencia al mundo del rock y de las estrellas famosas, la transculturación –gráfica, pictórica– de ese mundo que en sus cuadros aparece inserto en el centro de Lima o en las calles de Barranco serían suficientes para capturar mi atención. Y, sin duda, todos los que estuvieron anoche en la sala de arte miraflorina disfrutaron al máximo. Desde aquí, un aplauso.

Este martes también fue memorable por otro motivo. A las diez de la noche llegué a Dédalo, había tenido lugar la presentación del nuevo libro de Carlos Herrera. En el 2004, cuando tenía 19 años, fui por primera vez en la vida a Dédalo. Irónico que, a pesar de vivir en Barranco, ni siquiera había escuchado de ese espacio maravilloso hasta ser invitado por Germán Coronado, el editor general de Ediciones Peisa, a la presentación del libro de un autor que no conocía, en un lugar todavía desconocido, con gente que tampoco conocía. Recuerdo haber llegado a Dédalo hace siete años, con un poco de inseguridad al ver que todos allí me doblaban la edad y que excepto por Germán, no conocía a nadie. Pero, en esa primera visita, María Elena Fernández me vio y me saludó (se acordaba de mí del colegio y eso es un testimonio a su buena memoria), y desde ese entonces me ha seguido saludando durante ya siete años. No hay ningún centro cultural, ni galería ni espacio en Lima –y los conozco todos– que me haya acogido tanto como Dédalo. Hoy, es habitual quedarme conversando con María Elena y Eduardo Lores. Claro que las cosas han cambiado un poco, si bien antes, dominado por el pesimismo, me creía incapaz de protagonizar una presentación, hoy siento que publicar una novela ya no está en el lindero de la utopía (el u-topos, o sea, el no-lugar en griego). A regañadientes, he terminado siendo un poco más optimista de lo que hubiese imaginado. La novela que quiero, esa que anhelo, todavía no está terminada. Pero cuando esté, y se publique, la presentación será, por supuesto, en el extraordinario Dédalo de María Elena.

Y, para terminar, un dibujo mío (sacado de un cuaderno)

June 27, 2011

RUINS / Warren Ellis

Ruins # 2

Warren Ellis couldn’t be more generous as writer, after all, he shares with us hundreds of crazy, strong and original ideas page after page; movies like District 9 predate on some of them: As the Kree (a well-known alien race from Marvel’s cosmic sagas) spaceships are attacked by a nuclear strike and fall down to Earth, the government sets up a concentration camp for the Kree survivors (in District 9, aliens are also kept in an internment camp not unlike the one we could see in the pages of Ruins).

As Phil Seldon embarks upon a journey through the United States, he arrives just in time to hear Rick Jones (a morphine addict) story about a scientist bombarded by Gamma radiation. The result, evidently, has nothing to do with the Hulk.

Instead of achieving glory and recognition, Reed Richards and his crew find only a quick mutation and an instantaneous death as a consequence of the cosmic rays that grant them powers in the original Stan Lee & Jack Kirby story. And the situation with the mutants, already a minority “feared and hated” in the regular Marvel Universe, is even more gruesome here.

I don’t know if hardcore fans loved it or hated it back in the day. I picked up the collected edition in 2009. And I can only say this: to be a great writer means taking risks and pushing boundaries, and especially in an industry so concerned with continuity it is important to think outside the box. I would definitely recommend Ruins to anyone who feels slightly interested in experimentation. You won’t regret it.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Warren Ellis no podría ser más generoso como escritor al compartir cientos de ideas impactantes, originales y alocadas. Página tras páginas nos regala con conceptos que fácilmente podrían inspirar a cineastas; por ejemplo, los que vieron District 9 hace un par de años recordarán que se trataba de una población alienígena recluida en un campo de detención; aquí, son los Kree, una raza alienígena, los que han caído en la Tierra y han sido encerrados en un campo de concentración.

Phil Seldon viaja por los Estados Unidos y llega a tiempo para oír el relato de Rick Jones (un adicto a la morfina) sobre un científico bombardeado por la radiación gamma. El resultado, evidentemente, no tiene nada que ver con Hulk. En lugar de gloria y reconocimiento, Reed Richards y sus compañeros mutan y mueren instantáneamente al recibir los rayos cósmicos que en la clásica historia de Stan Lee & Jack Kirby les dan poderes. Y la situación con los mutantes "temidos y odiados" en el universo Marvel es mucho peor aquí.

No sé si a los fans les gustó o no esta serie en los 90s. Recién la leí en el 2009, en una reedición. Pero puedo decir lo siguiente: ser un gran escritor significa asumir riesgos e ir más allá de los límites, y hacerlo es especialmente valioso en una industria tan preocupada por la continuidad. Definitivamente recomiendo "Ruins" a cualquiera que tenga disposición a lo experimental. No lo lamentarán.


Fantastic Four
Spider-Man

June 25, 2011

RUINS - Warren Ellis


RUINS # 1


As comic book readers we easily agree upon some pre-established rules. We help the writer bend reality or modify it just enough so that we can accept that Spider-Man got his powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider, or that mutants have superhuman abilities because they happen to be the next step in evolution. And that’s fine. We have to accept all of it if we want to enjoy our favorite titles.



But what would happen if we don’t agree with those rules? What would happen if an irradiated, poisonous arachnid bites someone? Well, the outcome might not be as marvelous as we have come to expect. In “Ruins”, Warren Ellis does exactly that: he toys with the basic premises of the superhero genre and in doing so he comes up with a, shall we say, harsh outcome. Here the only law (Murphy’s law) is "everything that can go wrong will go wrong".


In this world, mysterious chemicals do not give Matt Murdock a radar sense, only a painful death. And just like people always ask in action movies “how come the hero never gets shot?”, well, here they get shot alright as can be seen in Punisher’s merciless death. Published in 1995 right after the huge success of Marvels, Phil Seldon continues to be the protagonist, except now he is more of a deuteraganist; he is not a man of agency but rather a passive witness that can barely hold things together. I would say the real protagonist is the world that Ellis creates in only a handful of pages, aided by the stunning visuals of Terese Nielsen, Cliff Nielsen & Chris Moeller.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Los lectores de cómics nos ponemos de acuerdo tácitamente sobre ciertas reglas preestablecidas. Ayudamos al escritor a modificar la realidad lo suficiente para que aceptemos que Spider-Man obtuvo sus poderes al ser mordido por una araña radioactiva, o que los mutantes tienen habilidades increíbles simplemente porque son el próximo paso en la evolución. Tenemos que aceptar todo esto si es que queremos disfrutar nuestros títulos favoritos.

¿Pero qué pasaría si no estamos de acuerdo con estas reglas? ¿Que podría suceder si una arala irradiada envenena a alguien? Bueno, el resultado no sería tan maravilloso como podríamos esperar. En "Ruins", Warren Ellis hace exactamente eso: juega con las premisas básicas del género de súper-héroes y acepta una única norma, la ley de Murphy "si hay posibilidad de que salga mal, saldrá mal".

Publicada en 1995 después del éxito de Marvels, Phil Seldon continúa siendo el protagonista, excepto que ahora es más un deuteragonista; no es un personaje activo sino un testigo pasivo que apenas puede darle algo de sentido a lo que observa. Diría que el verdadero protagonista es el mundo que Ellis crea en tan sólo un puñado de páginas, ayudado por la destreza visual de Terese Nielsen, Cliff Nielsen & Chris Moeller.

June 23, 2011

Mariella Agois / Giancarlo Vitor (Galería Lucía de la Puente)

The Cement Garden (1993)
Claudio Gallina

Andrew Birkin’s film has it all: intense characters, controversial situations and unusual concepts, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if we keep in mind that it’s based upon a novel by Ian McEwan. The protagonists are Jack, a 16 year-old boy and Julie, his sister, barely a couple of years older; then come the youngest sister and the youngest brother. The four of them live with their parents, in a somehow bleak house, completely isolated from other neighborhoods.

Jack spends most of his time avoiding his home duties, such as cleaning up his room, and instead devotes most of his hours in a secluded spot in which he hides a worn out adult magazine and toilet paper. His mother actually confronts him and tells him, following the pseudo-scientific approach from Victorian age (which Foucault so aptly analyzed in his History of sexuality), that his moodiness and messiness is a direct result of self-abuse, and that should he continue practicing that he would end up extenuating his body.

One afternoon, the father is pouring cement into the garden and asks Jack for help, but while the father keeps working on the garden, the young boy is in the bathroom masturbating enthusiastically, with precise visual transitions, the director manages to apprise the moment of Jack’s orgasm with the last breadth of the father, as he succumbs to a heart attack. Later on, Jack will tell to his sister “Besides... not my fault he died”, answering a question that no sibling had dared to ask up to that moment.

The absence of the father marks the downfall of the family. The mother is unable to step out of her room, depressed as she is, and order and discipline soon turns into chaos and disarray. It’s in this context that the constant taunting between Jack and Julie turns into something else. What at first begins as innocent flirtations soon brings up more tantalizing repartees. In one occasion, while Jack is on top of Julie, tickling her, she starts grabbing him in a very distinct manner and comes to an orgasm.

As the mother falls deeper into depression, the fear of being discovered is diluted and thus the incestuous fantasy acquires a firm grasp on reality. As Lacan analyzed in his Antigone seminar, the death drive moves the Greek heroine towards the desire invested exclusively around the body of her deceased brother. In “The Cement Garden”, the protagonists start cajoling themselves around this death drive that disappears and leaves only a very real desire and a very real erotic drive. “My brother is what he is” would say Antigone, and in a similar way Jack will tell her sister that if people love him then they will take him as he is.

In Ancient Greece the term “autadelphos” (autos: "same"; adelphos: "sisterly," related to delphus: "womb") would mean something irreplaceable. As Antigone says in Sophocles’ play, if she would lose her children she could always get pregnant again, if she would lose her husband she could always find another man, but if she loses her brother, who could possibly replace him? They are, after all, creatures that have shared the same womb and nothing can compare to that. In a similar fashion, the passion between Jack and Julie defies all social norms and regulations. They are irreplaceable for each other, and as the house starts falling apart, they start getting closer and closer.

The absence of the father also means the absence of the nom de pere, the ultimate authority that inscribes the subject into society, that commands his offspring to occupy the male or female position in the symbolic order. Without this authority, male and female positions are interchangeable whether ideologically or practically, as it’s made evident by the authority invested upon Julie, who has the full responsibility of being in charge of the house (a role that would be traditionally ascribed to a male), or by the youngest brother’s obsession in wearing wigs and skirts, not only dressing up as a girl but also sleeping on the bed with another boy his age, pretending to be Julie and Jack. When Jack intends to stop this peculiar practices, Julie has but one answer for him: “You think that being a girl is degrading but secretly you'd love to know what is it like, wouldn't you?”, and in a very tantalizing way places a most effeminate ribbon on his brother’s neck.

Crossing all boundaries, subverting the heterosexual normative and assuming incest as something that feels natural and real, Birkin’s film announces from the very beginning a dreadful end; perhaps it would be interesting to compare the novel’s ending with the one in the film, because after all, once all is said and done, as Lacan would phrase it “…is important to note that one only has to make a conceptual shift and move the night spent with the lady from the category of pleasure to that of jouissance, given that jouissance implies precisely the acceptance of death — and there’s no need of sublimation — for the example to be ruined”.

Claudio Gallina
__________________________________________________________________________

Ayer en la noche se inauguraron dos nuevas muestras en la Galería Lucía de la Puente. En las salas I y II, Mariella Agois presentó “SinSecuentes”, una serie de cuadros centrados en la línea, en el rectángulo y en otras figuras de ángulos rectos. Uno de los críticos de Art Motiv comentaba que encontraba cierta similitud con la propuesta de Jorge Cabieses en su muestra Concreto (que se presentó en enero de este año en la misma galería); no obstante, como comenté brevemente con el mismo Cabieses, el interés por lo geométrico puede estar en ambos artistas, pero la forma de resolver visualmente las inquietudes de cada uno es bastante distinta.

En la sala de proyectos se presentaba “Itinerarios Nocturnos” de Giancarlo Vitor. A partir de fotografías (por ejemplo de la torre de Interbank o de una combi en movimiento), Vitor recrea la imagen en acrílico generando efectos que llaman la atención del espectador. Al haber sido profesor en Corriente Alterna, mi amigo David Rejas ya estaba familiarizado con su obra. Además de pasar un divertido rato conversando con David, también me encontré con Gabriela Ibáñez que estudió literatura conmigo en la PUCP. Por cierto, fue Gabriela quien me presentó a David hace un par de años, y ahora me encuentro más a menudo con él que con ella (de hecho, coincidimos este domingo a la hora de almuerzo en el Wa Lok de Miraflores).

Después de haber tomado varios vasos de Johnnie Walker Black Label, me encontré con José Arturo Lugón, artista y reyrrojino como yo. Nos quedamos conversando un rato y, para variar, le hablé sobre THE GATHERING. A lo largo de la noche saludé a Ramiro Llona, a Dare Dovidjenko, a Abel Bentín y a otros artistas.

El viernes de la semana pasada estuve en la inauguración de la muestra de Mavi Reyes en Bruno Gallery. Si no han ido, les recomiendo que vayan. Allí me encontré con Gabriel Alayza y con Renzo Núñez Melgar, con quien me quedé conversando hasta el final. Finalmente, incluyo dos cuadros del artista Claudio Gallina y un par de viñetas de la historia que estoy dibujando para el quinto volumen de THE GATHERING.

June 19, 2011

Light of thy Countenance

Poetry should always awake something in us. Reading a poem can cause many reactions, but indifference should never be one of them. Alan Moore’s Light of thy Countenance is not a comic book per se. After all, comic books (just like films) are narrative. Visual and sequential narrative but narrative nonetheless.

Light of thy Countenance is more akin to poetry than anything else. Originally written as a text about television it was “a freestyle beat poem, a damning essay and historical treatise all in one, condemning both the bland, commercial and hypocritical disgrace that has usurped the medium's potential, and the sheep who accept such dross without criticism”; years later Anthony Johnston in collaboration with Moore turned that into a comic script; and artist Felipe Massafera accepted the challenge of putting all these crazy ideas and notions into images of incomparable beauty.

Television is something we all take for granted. We never seem to think about what it actually means. Do we trust blindly on mass media? News networks and public share the same opinions about everything? Could we survive without TV ads, without publicity? How many hours do we spend each day, month or year watching TV? As the narrator of this graphic novel announces, had it been a god, Television would have amassed more devotion than any deity one could think of.

Obviously this isn’t a simple criticism on consumer’s behavior. After all, we watch TV (even Alan Moore does) but with different criteria. Whereas television is mind-numbing entertainment for some, for others it’s simply a fun and relaxing alternative to spend time. One thing should remain clear, though. Television deserves to be analyzed as a cultural manifestation.

When Socrates compared the polis with a sleeping horse, he assumed the role of a gadfly. He was ready to sting the horse, id est, to force people to wake up and think. And he lived in a city in which philosophy was one of the most preeminent occupations. We no longer live as he did in Ancient Greece. In a world in which philosophy is now devoid of all purpose, what can we expect of society? The horse was asleep in 400BC, today perhaps it is already rotting, beyond all salvation.

That is why I consider important that someone like Moore takes the time to rethink the basic aspects of television. Light of thy Countenance won’t please many readers, but it is something different and unique. And because of that it gets my undivided attention. Hopefully, it will get yours too.
_________________________________________________________

La poesía siempre debería despertar algo en nosotros. Los poemas no deberían dejar indiferente a ninguna persona. Light of thy Countenance de Alan Moore no es propiamente un comic book. El noveno arte (al igual que el séptimo arte) es narrativo. Secuencial o visual, es narrativa.

Light of thy Countenance se parece más a la poesía que a otro género. Originalmente fue escrito como un ensayo sobre la televisión en donde se condenaba la mentalidad comercial e hipócrita que había usurpado el potencial de este medio, y al público que aceptaba todo sin mayor criterio. Años después, Anthony Johnston colaboró con Moore para hacer un guión que Felipe Massafera se encargaría de ilustrar, aportando al proyecto imágenes de incomparable belleza.

La televisión es algo que nunca cuestionamos. ¿Confiamos ciegamente en los medios de comunicación? ¿Las cadenas de noticias y el público comparte siempre la misma opinión? ¿Podemos sobrevivir sin propagandas y sin publicidad en la TV? El narrador de esta novela gráfica anuncia que, si se tratara de un dios, la televisión habría contado con más devoción que cualquier otra deidad.

Obviamente esto no es una simple crítica al comportamiento del consumidor. Después de todo, miramos televisión (incluso Alan Moore), pero con criterios diferentes. Mientras para algunos se trata de entretenimiendo que adormece la mente, para otros es simplemente una manera de relajarse y pasar el tiempo.

Cuando Sócrates comparaba a la polis con un caballo dormido, él declaraba ser el tábano que picaría al caballo y lo haría despertar. Es decir, forzar a la gente a pensar. Y él vivió en una ciudad en donde la filosofía era una actividad preminente. Nuestra época es muy distinta. Estamos en un mundo en donde la filosofía no parece tener ningún propósito, no nos sorprendamos entonces de las limitaciones de nuestra sociedad.

Considero muy relevante que alguien como Moore se tome el tiempo de reflexionar sobre los aspectos básicos de la televisión. Light of thy Countenance desagradará a muchos lectores, pero es algo diferente y único. Y por eso merece mi tiempo, ojalá que también a ti te llame la atención.



June 17, 2011

Michiko Aoki en la Galería Yvonne Sanguineti

Don’t jinx it. Yes, I know how that is. But I was so sure this time that I kept on telling everybody about this new job. I was going to work for the German Agency for International Cooperation. They offered me a good position and the pay was great. I was already making plans. I could see myself in the next comic convention with my friends at Grah Haven, signing issues of The Gathering, drawing sketches. I had plans to travel, to buy original art, to do lots of things really. And suddenly it all came to a halt. I got the call this week, turns out due to some issues with the German offices my contract was no longer a go. And so I had to let go of my plans, at least for the time being. So yes, it’s been quite a discouraging week for me.

Anyway, as a curiosity I’m including a couple of frames from the story I drew for Cal Cleary (which will be released on The Gathering Vol. 5). Because he had asked for 9 panels in each page, and I also had to draw another story for volume 6 I knew time was of the essence. So I decided to recycle, so to speak, one of my old drawings. You can see that the original piece includes partial male and female nudity. Obviously I had to redraw it digitally so that it would fit Cleary’s theme. The new digitized version served as a template for two frames. The first one, on top, was horizontal and it needed some elements that Cleary had suggested in his script. So I penciled it again and then I inked it. Finally, I scanned the image and added a few gray tones plus the lettering. And I used all of my previous work to finish the second frame, the one on the bottom. Evidently, there are differences in the details, so what’s your favorite?
________________________________________________

El día miércoles estuve en la inauguración de la muestra de Michiko Aoki en la Galería Yvonne Sanguineti, me encontré con Marcos Palacios y nos quedamos conversando sobre las estilizadas esculturas en piedra de la artista. Con esta muestra se cumple un año de mi visita frecuente a esta galería barranquina. En efecto, desde junio del 2010 hasta junio del 2011, no me he perdido ni una sola de las muestras que se realizan mensualmente. Un brindis por ello.

El jueves fui a la muestra colectiva del trigésimo aniversario de E. Sachs, que se realizó en el Centro Cultural Juan Parra del Riego en Pedro de Osma, Barranco. Con una abundante cantidad de trabajos, tanto de los alumnos como de los maestros, sería difícil comentarlos uno por uno. Allí me encontré con Renzo Núñez Melgar Vega, que a fines de mes presenta su muestra en Miraflores.

Después me fui a Dédalo, y ahí me encontré con Sebastián Kouri, amigo del colegio; nos quedamos conversando un buen rato; también hablé con Augusto Rey que pasó por ahí de casualidad, desde la campaña al congreso nos hemos seguido viendo bastante a menudo y siempre de pura coincidencia, es muy curioso. A la hora de regresar a mi casa me encontré nuevamente con Renzo Núñez; la verdad es que estoy muy impaciente por ver su muestra, he visitado un par de veces el taller y he sido testigo del proceso artístico, desde los bocetos iniciales en el lienzo hasta los primeros colores. Ahora, a fines de mes, me toca ver todos los cuadros juntos.

A pesar de todo, esta ha sido una semana muy desalentadora para mí. Ya había hecho planes, entre ellos viajar a New York para formar parte de la mesa de Gray Haven en una futura convención de cómics. Ya me veía firmando autógrafos tal como lo han estado haciendo mis colegas de THE GATHERING, haciendo bocetos para los interesados, participando, en fin, de una verdadera fiesta del cómic. Pero, una vez más, me veo obligado a postergar todos mis planes. Tuve dos entrevistas de trabajo con la Cooperación Alemana en abril y en mayo, y ya habían confirmado que me contratarían en julio. Al final, la decisión de la sede en Alemania no fue favorable para mí, y así, de pronto, recibo la llamada esta semana con la mala noticia. Se trataba de un puesto ideal para mí, y la paga iba a ser extraordinaria. Adiós, entonces, a mis planes extraordinarios, al menos por el momento.

En fin, como curiosidad estoy adjuntando un par de de las viñetas de la historia que dibujé para Cal Cleary (que será publicada en el quinto ejemplar de THE GATHERING). En primer lugar está la figura original que presenta algo de desnudez femenina y masculina, obviamente, tuve que reestructurar la imagen digitalmente para adaptarme al guión de Cleary. Una vez lista la nueva versión digital, la usé de modelo para la viñeta superior añadiendo los elementos descritos por el guionista, proceso que constituye dos etapas: la primera a lápiz, desde luego, y la segunda a tinta. Finalmente, utilizando todos los pasos previos llego a la viñeta inferior. Así, de un solo dibujo obtengo dos viñetas y eso me permite ahorrar tiempo y avanzar con las otras. Este tipo de truquitos ha sido especialmente necesario para la historia en cuestión, que presenta nueve viñetas por página. Ahora, definitivamente pueden notar la diferencia de detalles entre la viñeta superior e inferior, ¿cuál les gusta más?


June 14, 2011

May comic books / Cómics de mayo

30 DAYS OF NIGHT #1 100 PENNY PRESS
A single dollar will get you the original tale of vampiric terror that started it all off! 30 Days of Night put IDW on the comics-publishing map and established Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith as creative forces to be reckoned with. Now, you can return to Barrow, or visit it for the first time, as the sun goes down on the remote Alaskan town… and then check out the next page for the latest bloody happenings in the 30 Days world!


BOYS #1 DYNAMITE ED (MR)

BOYS #25 (MR)
Garth Ennis (W) Darick Robertson (A) Covers: Darick Robertson (75%) Carlos Ezquerra (25%) Hughie - or perhaps that should be 'Bagpipe' - meets the original G-Men, and their mysterious benefactor John Godolkin. Secrets of the G-Mansion abound, including one that leaves our hero breathless. Frenchie and the Female begin surveillance as MM works the clues, and Butcher pursues answers from another source entirely. And in the background, unseen by either Boys or G-Men, shadowy forces prepare to make a move of their own... 'We Gotta Go Now', part three Also, the series of alternate covers counting down to issue #30 continues, this time featuring legendary Judge Dredd artist Carlos Ezquerra!


BOYS #33 (MR)
Writer: Garth Ennis Penciller/Inker: Carlos Ezquerra Covers: Darick Robertson With the rest of The Boys out of the picture, the surviving members of Payback find themselves at an advantage of four to one- unfortunately for them, the one is Butcher. As the carnage unfolds, Vought struggle with ongoing internal divisions, Hughie calls in reinforcements, and Annie finds herself up against the Seven's biggest guns- but an unexpected ally may yet save her honor...


BOYS #38 (MR)
The Female of the species is more deadly than the male, according to the poem - just how deadly is revealed in the secret origin of the Boys' most mysterious member. The dawn of nuclear warfare, rumours of mutant Japanese monsters from the ocean, a subscription to Marie Claire- all this and more in 'The Instant White Hot Wild'.


BOYS #45 (MR)
(W) Garth Ennis (A) Russ Braun (C) Darick Robertson Frenchie and the Female go undercover at BELIEVE, as the huge evangelist festival takes over New York City. The Homelander meets the mysterious Oh Father and his posse, Sidekick Twelve, while Hughie and Annie both struggle with the fallout from recent revelations. Butcher, meanwhile, makes a fateful decision of his own... MATURE THEMES


BOYS HEROGASM #4 (OF 6) (MR)
The first-ever Boys spin-off mini-series features the pairing of Ennis with Hitman artist John McCrea and covers by Boys artist and co-creator Darick Robertson! The fun and games go on hold as The Boys' true mission is revealed, and secrets are spilled regarding the worst day in recent American history. As Vought-American's true agenda is revealed, the corporation makes plans to take things to the next level- and the Homelander hints at a certain scheme of his own...


BOYS HEROGASM #5 (OF 6) (MR)
Welcome to The Supies, a night of glitz and glamour beyond any awards ceremony mere mortals could devise. Who will win Best New Team? Greatest Hero? Best Meat In the Sandwich? Exactly what is the Homelander hinting at in his acceptance speech? And in light of last issue's developments, how do Vought American's plans for the Presidency impact on the world of all things supe-ish? Find out in the penultimate episode of Herogasm.


BOYS HEROGASM #6 (OF 6) (MR)
The Boys are forced into action as a surprise development threatens to reveal their presence on Isla McFarlane. The Supes are leaving- but exactly what has happened to the Homelander, and what are his intentions now that Vought have set the scene for Vic the Veep's next great political leap forward? Sudden death and shocks galore, as Herogasm shudders to its gasping, spurting climax. Recommended for Mature Readers.


FCBD 2011 2000 AD

FCBD 2011 ELRIC BALANCE LOST

FCBD 2011 LOCKE & KEY FREE COMIC BOOK DAY EDITION   

FCBD 2011 OVERSTREET GUIDE TO COLLECTING COMICS

FCBD 2011 SUPER DINOSAUR      

HACK SLASH #4 (MR)
story TIM SEELEY, art by DANIEL LEISTER, cover B ERIK JONES  The first story arc comes to brutal, bloody end! Some will live, some will die, and some will be short a few pieces! Two slashers! A whole bunch of victims! And a new status quo for HACK/SLASH!


KIRBY GENESIS #0
(W) Kurt Busiek (A) Alex Ross, Jackson Herbert (C) Alex Ross The Kirby Event of the new millennium begins here, brought to you by the best-selling and award-winning creators of MARVELS! The Pioneer 10 space probe carried a message to the stars. Now an answer's on the way - but not one we expected! When it arrives, the lives of three ordinary people - and the entire world - will be changed forever. Featuring Captain Victory, Silver Star and more of Jack Kirby's greatest concepts, including characters never before seen in comics form! Kurt Busiek (Astro City) and Alex Ross (Kingdom Come) team up for their first full collaboration since 1994, with finished art (from Alex's layouts) by Jack Herbert (Black Terror). Don't miss this tantalizing prelude to KIRBY: GENESIS - a bold, explosive adventure debuting a universe of wild Kirby creations! This is the beginning. This is THE Genesis! This 32 page book will features a 12-page original story as well as tons of bonus materials!


MOON KNIGHT #1
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS Pencils & Cover by ALEX MALEEV Variant Cover by HUMBERTO RAMOS Variant Cover by BRYAN HITCH Variant Cover by TBA The wait is over! Moon Knight is here...like you ' ve never seen him before! And we mean NEVER! The Eisner award-winning team of Bendis and Maleev tear into the mythos of Moon Knight with the same verve and derring-do they brought to Daredevil. A MARVELOUS reinterpretation of one of the most enigmatic characters in Marvel history starts right here! 32 PGS./Parental Advisory


ROCKETEER #1 100 PENNY PRESS
Celebrate the launch of the all-new Rocketeer anthology with this value-priced look at the classic material by Dave Stevens, as fully remastered and recolored by Eisner-winner Laura Martin! This material would cost much more in the back-issue bin and not look half as nice!


ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #1 (OF 4)
The Rocketeer Flies Again! Dave Stevens unveiled the Rocketeer nearly 30 years ago to instant acclaim, and in all the years since that auspicious debut, respect for Dave's talent and his greatest creation have only continued to grow. Last year, IDW had the honor of releasing the complete Rocketeer saga in several editions, showcasing the work of this great artist as it was always meant to be seen-completely remastered, with nearly every page scanned directly from the originals and recolored by Dave's hand-picked colorist. Today we are able to celebrate Dave's talent once again, with an all-new Rocketeer anthology miniseries written and drawn by some of the finest creators in comics, and with the full cooperation of the Stevens family. The first star-studded issue of The Rocketeer features a gorgeous cover by Alex Ross, and terrific stories by John Cassaday, Mike Allred, Kurt Busiek, and Michael Kaluta, plus outstanding pin-ups by Mike Mignola and Jim Silke-all paying tribute to the continued legacy of Rocketeer and Dave Stevens!


SUPER DINOSAUR #2
Story ROBERT KIRKMAN, art & cover JASON HOWARD  ALL-NEW FROM ROBERT KIRKMAN & JASON HOWARD! At long last, Max Maximus makes his move!  Super Dinosaur and Derek Dynamo find themselves face to face with the most fearsome foe they've ever faced... and that's only if they don't freeze to death first!  This issue can't be missed, just like every issue of SUPER DINOSAUR!


SUPREME POWER MGC #1
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI Cover & pencils by GARY FRANK Presenting a brand-new vision of a world about to give birth to its first generation of superheroes! This new MAX ongoing series follows the origins of these new heroes - from their birth through adulthood, and examines how their lives and abilities change and shape the world around them. A hard edged, mature and deeply personal saga that pushes the limits of the comics form into new, uncharted territory. 32 PGS./PARENTAL ADVISORY


VAMPIRELLA SCARLET LEGION #1
(W) Joe Harris (A) José Málaga (C) J. Scott Campbell (50%), Sean Chen (25%), Billy Tucci (25%) But when an ancient prophecy of doom is uncovered and a new push to resurrect the foulest demons from the pit is revealed, it's clear Vampirella won't be able to take them on alone. Enter THE SCARLET LEGION, assembled to keep the dark things at bay and protect this world from the evils which lie beyond. The only question is, will they see Vampirella as friend... or foe?


WALKING DEAD #85 (MR)
story ROBERT KIRKMAN, art & cover CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN  Where do we go from here?


X-FORCE ANGELS AND DEMONS MGC #1
Written by CRAIG KYLE & CHRISTOPHER YOST Art and Cover by CLAYTON CRAIN 'ANGELS AND DEMONS' Part 1 (of 6) There are lines that the X-Men have sworn never to cross. But after the shocking events of 'Messiah Complex,' Cyclops realizes that some enemies need to be dealt with permanently... and the X-Men can never know about it. Enter WOLVERINE, WARPATH, X-23 and WOLFSBANE... X-FORCE.

___________________________________________________________________

30 DAYS OF NIGHT #1 100 PENNY PRESS
Comentario: Ahora todos pueden regresar a Barrow o estar allí por primera vez. El sol se oculta indefinidamente en este remoto pueblo de Alaska.


BOYS #1 DYNAMITE ED (MR)

BOYS #25 (MR) 
Comentario: HUGHIE conoce a los Hombres G, y a su misterioso benefactor. Pero los abundantes secretos de la Mansión G impresionan a HUGHIE.


BOYS #33 (MR) 
Comentario: Es el momento de la batalla decisiva ¿quiénes sobrevivirán?


BOYS #38 (MR) 
Comentario: Un viejo poema afirma que la hembra es más letal que el macho. ¿Pero qué tan cierta es esta frase en un contexto de monstruos japoneses?


BOYS #45 (MR) 
Comentario: Un gigantesco festival evangélico toma a New York por asalto.


BOYS HEROGASM #4 (OF 6) (MR)
Comentario: Los juegos y la diversión están en pausa hasta nuevo aviso.


BOYS HEROGASM #5 (OF 6) (MR)
Comentario: Es la glamorosa ceremonia de premiación. ¿Cuál es el mejor equipo? ¿Quién es el mejor héroe? ¿Quién ganará el premio más codiciado?


BOYS HEROGASM #6 (OF 6) (MR)
Comentario: Una sorprendente amenaza se cierne sobre la isa McFarlane.


FCBD 2011 2000 AD

FCBD 2011 ELRIC BALANCE LOST

FCBD 2011 LOCKE & KEY FREE COMIC BOOK DAY EDITION

FCBD 2011 OVERSTREET GUIDE TO COLLECTING COMICS

FCBD 2011 SUPER DINOSAUR

HACK SLASH #4 CVR B JONES (MR) 
Comentario: Algunos vivirán, otros morirán… y el resto será mutilado.


KIRBY GENESIS #0 
Comentario: Una cápsula especial exploratoria fue enviada al espacio. Ahora regresa con inesperadas respuestas. Las vidas de tres individuos ordinarios se verán afectadas y el mundo entero cambiará.


MOON KNIGHT #1  
Comentario: De las manos del equipo ganador del Eisner llega la reinterpretación de uno de los personajes más enigmáticos.



ROCKETEER #1 100 PENNY PRESS  
Comentario: Versión remasterizada del clásico de Dave Stevens.


ROCKETEER ADVENTURES #1 (OF 4) 
Comentario: Antología que reúne a grandes talentos del cómic.


SUPER DINOSAUR #2  
Comentario: Por fin Max hace su jugada. Llega el más letal enemigo de todos.


SUPREME POWER MGC #1  
Comentario: El mundo está preparado para el nacimiento de la primera generación de súper héroes. Desde su infancia hasta su adultez, estos seres con habilidades especiales darán nueva forma al mundo.


VAMPIRELLA SCARLET LEGION #1 
Comentario: Cuando una antigua profecía es descubierta y una maldición para convocar demonios es revelada... aparecerá la Legión Escarlata.


WALKING DEAD #85 (MR) 
Comentario: ¿En qué dirección podrán escapar?


X-FORCE ANGELS AND DEMONS MGC #1
Comentario: Hay límites que los mutantes han jurado no cruzar. Hasta que Cíclope se da cuenta que algunos enemigos deben ser neutralizados permanentemente. Y para ello alguien tendrá que hacer el trabajo sucio.


June 12, 2011

Claudio Gallina en Galería Enlace / Madam Tusan

A Single Man (2009)
It’s your last day. What would you do? For professor George Falconer the answer is easy: retrieving important documents, closing bank accounts, writing letters to his friends as well as his last will. With unflinching actions and melancholic gestures, Colin Firth creates a most enthralling character, imbued by the sheer emotion of loss and yet adjusted to the repressed feelings he considers necessary to suppress even in his last day. After losing his partner and lover, there is no deterrence in his decision: he will kill himself at the end of the day.

How then could he spend his last 24 hours? Many would have extravagant and unordinary ideas, but the truth is that George Falconer upholds his daily routine facing this day as any other. He wakes up, takes a shower, gets dressed, drives to university, teaches his last class and decides to join his old friend Charlie (amazingly interpreted by Julianne Moore) for supper. Tom Ford’s remarkable film takes Christopher Isherwood’s novel and turns it into a tour de force in which emotions and the human condition are on full display.

Everything seems different when you realize you are watching things for the last time. And so George finally lets go, acting and speaking to people in ways he had not even considered before. Through constant flashbacks, the viewer catches a few glances of the relationship George had with Jim. They had been together for 16 years and if not for a fatal accident they would still be together. Can life lose all meaning once we lost our loved ones? It certainly would seem like it; George finds himself not only disgruntled but also devoid of any hope. He dreads tomorrow. And why should he inflict himself with the torture of existing, day after day, if existence has proven to be so painful and dire?

Some answers can be found in Slavoj Zizek and Jacques Lacan theories; more specifically in the notions of real and symbolic death. Evidently, we will suffer a biological death in which our bodies will fail and eventually disintegrate, that’s what happens with Jim. This death occurs in the Real, and it entails the obliteration of our material selves. But we can also suffer a Symbolic death that has nothing to do with the annihilation of our actual bodies, but rather the destruction of our Symbolic universe and the extermination of our subject positions. Whenever people remember our names, remember our deeds and so on we continue to exist in the Symbolic even though we have died in the Real. Therefore, Jim is not truly dead as George remembers him constantly, but here evocation does not provide the necessary narrative of closure, the grieving process remains incomplete.

There is a fissure that separates the two deaths which can be filled either by manifestations of the monstrous or the beautiful. That is why the presence of Kenny, Nicholas Hoult’s character, is of supreme importance. He is not only the embodiment of beauty but he also provides the companionship George so urgently needs. Only through Kenny and the bonding they start developing will George experience an epiphany (“A few times in my life I've had moments of absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh”). A revelation in which he will understand why is it important to let go of the past, to put the pain away and to take a real risk: to accept life and keep on living.

___________________________________________________________________

El día miércoles asistí a la inauguración de “La proyección del deseo” del artista argentino Claudio Gallina en la Galería Enlace. Paralelamente también se inauguraba la nueva muestra de Nani Cárdenas (quien a principios de año expuso en Yvonne Sanguineti) y Kyle Huffman.

La pintura de Gallina es extraordinaria, exuda una energía juvenil y una mezcla entre candor y erotismo ad portas que no dejará indiferente a ningún espectador. Con pinceladas impecables e imágenes bien balanceadas, Gallina demuestra todo su talento en esta muestra. Del mismo modo, las instalaciones de Cárdenas son una evidencia de su creatividad y versatilidad como artista.

Como llegué tarde esta vez me quedé sin catálogo, pero igual me quedé conversando con Marcos Palacios. De todas maneras regreso la próxima semana para fotografiar todos los cuadros, algo tengo que hacer para sobrellevar la ausencia del catálogo.

Al día siguiente, jueves, se inauguraba la muestra Shanty Town de Rodrigo La Hoz en la nueva galería barranquina Sala 58. Como dibujante, admiro mucho los trabajos realizados a lápiz o con tinta china, en este caso, la exposición reúne diversos dibujos de La Hoz, que nos obligan a reflexionar sobre aquellas cosas que usualmente no ocupan nuestra atención, con un estilo muy particular, heredero quizá de algunos de los grandes maestros del underground norteamericano, La Hoz sabe impactar con sus imágenes.

En esta ocasión me encontré con muchos reyrrojinos como yo: José Arturo Lugón, Juan Diego Capurro, Alexis Paz Ferrand, entre otros. Aunque, claro, conversé mucho más con Juan Diego y Paz, ambos fans del cómic, y les comenté brevemente, o más bien torpemente a causa de los abundantes vasos de whisky que tomé durante la noche (no es mi culpa, les juro que hay un mozo recontra atento que prácticamente me persigue con la bandeja y siempre me pregunta si quiero otro whisky), mi labor en The Gathering. Fue muy simpático encontrarme con ellos, podría decir que este fue el mejor momento de la semana si no fuera por la divertidísima cena que tuvo lugar el día lunes en Madam Tusan. 

Fuimos solamente cinco pero pasamos una noche muy entretenida. Yo empecé con una “nalanjita”, un cóctel de pisco quebranta, aguaymanto y naranjita china, para pasar a los dim sum (algunos verdaderas innovaciones con insumos como el camote), y a los platos de fondo: pollo a lo Bruce Lee, chancho hecho en caja china, chi jau kay. Y terminé con un cheesecake de té verde, realmente sabroso, aunque también probé los wantancitos rellenos de chocolate y la copa de sychee (un granizado con níspero chino y espuma de pisco sour, realmente recomendable). El té y las galletas de la fortuna fueron cortesía de la casa. La atención fue muy buena, y la comida estuvo muy bien, aunque noté que los platos más tradicionales (el arroz chaufa, por ejemplo) eran quizá los menos logrados. Sin duda, lo recomendable es probar las especialidades de la casa. 



June 7, 2011

Films / Películas (2008)

It has become a bit of a tradition to ‘recap’ the films I’ve seen each year. So, in 2008 I had the opportunity to see (or see again): Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), I would have never imagined that it was possible to make a musical based on Jack the Ripper, but Tim Burton not only did it but he also knocked it out of the park. 30 Days of Night (2007), based on the comic book by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, was simply the best vampire movie I’ve seen in a long time; vampires have become so irrelevant in other productions but here they are, once again, the harbingers of horror that invade a town in Alaska in which there is no sunlight for a month.

I have an especial fondness for horror movies. Or stories with suspense and / or extraordinary events. I went to see The Happening (2008) afraid that it could be disappointing. People have criticized the final explanation behind the big threat, but it still has a scientific base just as good as any other explanation in sci-fi movies. Some scientists even defend the concept of Gaea, as a living planet; and there are writers that have built upon this theory. The original title was going to be either The Green Planet or The Green Effect, but regardless of that there was an undeniable ecologic approach. Even if the explanations offered in the movie are unconvincing, there is always the line someone says at the beginning “it is an act of nature that we may never fully understand”. Not everything in life can be explained, and it is nice to see a movie that accepts that. About the acting, I don't have complaints. Like other Shyamalan's movies, everything in it has a reason to be there. And yes, I approve the ending.

I love horror films but if I had to choose one particular subgenre it would the one that started with George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). Filmed in black and white, it tells the story of a group of survivors that take refuge in a country house and struggle desperately against hordes and hordes of living dead, just as scary as it was four decades ago, “Night of the Living Dead” remains a true classic. Romero has directed many zombie related films, but arguably the best one in the present decade would be Diary of the Dead (2007), a sharp analysis of our times: excess of information that ultimately confuses people, deceiving mass media, multiple interpretations of reality (is every opinion valid?, well, it would look like it on the Internet). With lots of suspense and gory deaths, it truly deserves all the praise it can get.

Of course, no listing would be complete without the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock: Psycho (1960) not only includes one of the most famous and memorable scenes in the history of cinema (the murder in the shower) but it also proves that a psychological thriller can be more terrifying than a traditional horror film. A true classic, Psycho makes it into my top 100 list, an honor that is only bestowed upon the best. Wind Chill (2007) is a remarkable horror film: two college students share the same car but they get trapped in a snowstorm, forced to remain in the car they soon start witnessing supernatural manifestations and once they realize their lives are at risk, they must decide how to survive; director Gregory Jacobs takes advantage of the settings and, with only two characters, captures completely the viewer’s attention.

When psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan wrote about being “between two deaths”, he probably never imagined that someone would make of the theory a most fascinating film: Den Osynlige (2002), directed by Joel Bergvall and Simon Sandquist, tells the story of a boy that is brutally attacked, as a consequence, he turns into a ghost that is not really a ghost, he is in-between worlds but he’s also summarizing the symbolic death and the real death. Fracture (2007) describes a perfect crime, but perhaps the greatest appeal here is Anthony Hopkin’s character, a wealthy sociopath, a genius, a man so full of hatred that simply mesmerizes the viewer.

No Country for Old Men (2007) comes from the minds of the Coen brothers, I haven’t read the novel that inspired the movie, but it seems to me like there were some plot holes and frankly I don’t know who to blame: the directors, the screenwriters or the novelist. Anyway, great acting and stunning visuals make this a worthy production. Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park (2007) shares some traits with Elephant, here the long sequences serve to get inside the mind of the protagonist, a boy that is very secluded into a world of his own, much like any teenager his age. A skating park becomes the scenario in which the protagonist tries to find his place in the world, but as he’s trying to define himself, he will face a life-changing moment when an older guy persuades him to accompany him. With a very subtle homoerotic subtext, Gus Van Sant once again proves that art and experimentation are filmic requirements.

Woody Allen is one of my most respected and admired directors: Scoop (2006), is a bitter-sweet film in which an afterlife manifestation accuses Lord Lyman of committing murder. As a consequence, Sid and Sondra (interpreted by Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson) will start investigating the noble man. There is also homicides in Cassandra’s Dream (2007), a film that shares some elements with “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and even “Match Point”. They say everyone (and everything) has a price and when two brothers (Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor) are offered a chance to receive an enormous amount of money, they think that’s the solution to all their problems… except that they must first kill a man.
 

Todd Field’s Little Children (2006) deals with that which is beneath the peaceful façade of American suburbs. Characters that are driven by their particular perversions must deal with life as it is. Highly recommendable. Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men (2006) gives us a future in which humans are no longer able to procreate, in world devoid of hope, life has lost all meaning; Cuarón manages to convey such desperation and raw emotion in this film that one feels immersed in the story since the first minute.

Cabeza de perro (2006) is the story of a boy that must come to terms with his neurological conditions, young actor Juan José Ballesta makes a most memorable performance, bringing tenderness and teenage awkwardness together. Dioses (2008) directed by Peruvian filmmaker Josué Méndez is a very interesting approach to social marginalization which finds in private beaches an ideal setting; especially enthralling is the incestuous relationship between Sergio Gjurinovic’s character and his sister. Paris Je t’aime (2006) is a compilation of short films directed by some of the best contemporary filmmakers: Isabel Coixet, Gus Van Sant, Walter Salles, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuarón, Wes Craven, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, etc.

Rian Johnson’s Brick (2005) gathers two very talented actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lukas Haas. A crime has been committed and a high-school student decides to investigate what happened, like cinema noir adapted to teenage dynamics, this film displays some of the most original ideas I’ve seen in a long time. It definitely deserves a spot on my top 100 films. Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (2007) is an extraordinary story that sums up ambition, the oil business and religious zealousness, not only Daniel Day Lewis gives a great performance but also Paul Dano (an actor who has worked in astonishing independent films such as Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E.). Art School Confidential (2006) deals with the value of art in today’s society, as it criticizes with humor what is deemed as art according to experts and galleries. David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises (2007) delves into the Russian mob and a particular crime. Raw violence and intense moments give special momentum to the film. Run Lola Run (1998), or Lola Rennt (original title), is a fast-paced adventure that presents several alternatives as the protagonist decides what course of action is the most appropriate.

The Night Listener (2006) focuses on a homosexual writer who becomes very interested in the manuscript of a teenage boy, they start talking on the phone frequently but as the man tries to get closer to the boy, his friends warn him to stay away. Running with Scissors (2006), based on the book by Augusten Burroughs, tells the life of a boy as he grows up, the rupture of his family after her mother declares she is a lesbian, and the peculiar machinations of a crazy shrink; heart-wrenching, powerful and controversial, Ryan Murphy’s film depicts the protagonist, a gay teenager, in a most unique and innovative manner. This film also makes it into my top 100. Sommersturm (2004), revolves around a gay teenager and his best friend, a heterosexual boy; when they travel to participate in a sports competition, their relationship starts to fall apart; and things get even worse when they find out one of the teams they’re competing against is formed entirely by gay boys.

I’ve been a fan of Christopher Nolan since Memento, and The Dark Knight (2008) was probably the best comic book related film I’ve seen. I don’t think it’s easy to translate well established characters such as Batman onto the big screen, but Nolan creates the definitive Dark Knight film. Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy 2: the Golden Army (2008) is much better than the first one, is so full of fantasy and epic moments that viewers will be in awe once they see it. Sky High (2005) is actually an “all-ages” movie, hardly the kind of production I pay attention to, but since young actor Michael Angarano has  starred in impressive independent productions (Dear Wendy, Snow Angels, Bondage, etc.) I decided to give it a go, and I really enjoyed it, it’s fun and charming. Iron Man (2008) was quite a surprise, faithful to the character’s personality, the movie takes a Marvel hero into new heights (and Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect Tony Stark). The Incredible Hulk (2008) was a good sequel (my favorite scene is the one that has Stan Lee reaching for a bottle in the fridge, pure gold).

Other good films: “Joyeux Noel” and “Flags of our Fathers”, two different but valid ways to understand war. “Idiocracy” a delightful comedy about idiots outnumbering smart people. “Hollywoodland”, “Dreamland” and “Kidulthood”, intense dramas. “The Matthew Shepard Story” (based on real life events); “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” takes a chapter of the revolution in Ireland. “The illusionist” magic and illusionism mixed together.

And more horror (and suspense) movies: The grudge 2, Wrong turn 2: dead end, Hostel 2, Vacancy, El orfanato, Believers, Deathwatch, Saw, Texas chainsaw massacre, The Texas chainsaw massacre: the beginning, Friday the 13th 7: the new blood, Slither, Return to the house in haunted hill, The reaping, 1408, Anatomie, Saw III, Going to pieces: the rise and fall of the slasher film.

Other movies: All the king’s men, Half light, November, Stories of lost souls, Aeon flux, The watcher, The slingshot, Dahmer, The number 23, Jumper, Eragon, Havoc 2: normal adolescent behavior, Steel city, American dreamz, Copying Beethoven, Breaking and entering, 10th and wolf, The dog problem, Edmond, Street kings, A scanner darkly, Stay alive, Dead calm, Eating out, Little fish, Barely legal, Woody Allen: a life in film, The house sitter, We own the night, The black dahlia, Delirious, Rendition road, Body of lies, Superbad, The day the Earth stood still, Elementarteilchen, La bande du drugstore, Sonnen alleen, Den brysommen mannen, A cause de un garcon, Lake Tahoe, Perro come perro, Saint Gaine. And the ones I found disappointing: La zona, Quantum of solace, X- Files 2: I want to believe.
_____________________________________________________________________


Ya es una tradición comentar las películas que he visto cada año. Ahora me concentraré en todo lo que vi (o volví a ver) en el 2008: Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), nunca hubiera imaginado que se podía hacer un musical sobre Jack el Destripador, pero Tim Burton lo hizo realmente bien. 30 Days of Night (2007), basado en el cómic de Steve Niles y Ben Templesmith, fue simplemente la mejor película sobre vampiros que he visto en mucho tiempo, una vez más, estos seres vuelven a ser los emisarios del horror al invadir un pueblo en Alaska en donde no hay luz solar durante un mes.

Lo sobrenatural, el suspenso y las películas de terror me apasionan. Cuando fui a ver The Happening (2008) no sabía qué esperar. El título original del film de Shyamalan iba a ser "El Planeta Verde" o "El Efecto Verde", demostrando una clara línea ecológica. Y aunque el desenlace de la película decepcione a muchos yo considero que es válido; tal como dice alguien en los primeros minutos "es un acto de la naturaleza que quizá nunca entendamos". Y es que no todo en la vida puede ser explicado. ¿Ya mencioné que soy un fan del terror?, bueno, si tuviese que elegir un subgénero en particular sería el que empezó con Night of the Living Dead (1968) de George A. Romero. Filmada en blanco y negro, narra las peripecias de un grupo de sobrevivientes que se refugian en una casa. Después de cuatro décadas, los muertos vivientes siguen más vigentes que nunca. Esto queda demostrado en Diary of the Dead (2007), un agudo análisis de nuestra época: exceso de información que en última instancia confunde a la gente, medios de comunicación deshonestos, múltiples interpretaciones de la realidad, etc. Si agregamos el suspenso y las muertes sangrientas, estamos frente a una película que no podemos dejar de lado.

Desde luego, ningún listado estaría completo sin el maestro del suspenso, Alfred Hitchcock: Psycho (1960) no sólo incluye una de las más famosas e inolvidables escenas de la historia del cine (el asesinato en la ducha) sino también demuestra que un thriller psicológico puede ser más aterrador que el terror tradicional. Un verdadero clásico que está en mi lista de las mejores 100 películas. Wind Chill (2007) es una impresionante película de terror: dos estudiantes universitarios comparten el mismo carro pero quedan atrapados en una tormenta de nieve, obligados a permanecer en el vehículo pronto empiezan a observar manifestaciones sobrenaturales... descubriendo así que sus vidas están en peligro. Gregory Jacobs, el director, aprovecha al máximo los espacios cubiertos de hielo, y con sólo dos personajes captura por completo la atención del espectador.

Cuando el psicoanalista Jacques Lacan escribió sobre el "entre dos muertes", probablemente nunca imaginó que alguien convertiría la teoría en una película: Den Osynlige (2002), dirigida por Joel Bergvall y Simon Sandquist, se centra en un chico brutalmente golpeado que yace entre el mundo de los vivos y los muertos, en consecuencia, deambula como un fantasma, pero no es un fantasma tradicional porque sigue estando atrapado entre la muerte real y la simbólica. Fracture (2007) describe el crimen perfecto, pero tal vez lo más atrayente sea el personaje interpretado por Anthony Hopkin, un adinerado sociópata, un genio, un sujeto tan lleno de odio que hipnotiza al espectador.

No Country for Old Men (2007), es de los hermanos Coen. No he leído la novela que es la base de la cinta, pero me parece que argumentalmente hay varios puntos flojos, no sé a quién culpar, a los directores, a los guionistas o al novelista. De todos modos, con un trabajo visual impecable y actuaciones de primera, vale la pena verla. Paranoid Park (2007) de Gus Van Sant comparte influencias con Elephant, aquí las secuencias largas sirven para entrar en la mente del protagonista, un muchacho aislado que vive en su propio mundo. La práctica del skate le sirve, como a cualquier adolescente, para definirse a sí mismo; no obstante, enfrentará un momento crucial en su vida cuando un hombre lo invita a pasar el rato con él. Con un muy sutil subtexto homoerótico, Gus Van Sant comprueba que el arte y la experimentación son requisitos indispensables.

Woody Allen es uno de los cineastas que más admiro y respeto. Scoop (2006) es una agridulce historia en la que una manifestación espectral acusa a Lord Lyman de varios asesinatos. En consecuencia, Sid y Sondra (interpretados por Woody Allen y Scarlett Johansson) empezarán a investigar al noble. También hay homicidios en Cassandra’s Dream (2007), producción que comparte elementos con “Crimes and Misdemeanors” e incluso “Match Point”. Se dice que todos tenemos un precio, y cuando  dos hermanos (Colin Farrell y Ewan McGregor) tienen la oportunidad de recibir una enorme suma de dinero, creen que han encontrado la solución a sus problemas... aunque a cambio deban asesinar a un hombre.

Little Children (2006) de Todd Field explora aquello que subyace a la pacífica fachada del suburbio americano. Los personajes están impulsados por sus perversiones particulares.  Children of Men (2006) de Alfonso Cuarón es la visión de un futuro en donde no hay nacimientos. Incapaces de procrear, la esperanza ha abandonado a la humanidad. Cuarón logra transmitir una desesperación y una emoción cruda que hacen que nos sumerjamos en la historia desde la primera escena.

Cabeza de perro (2006), es la historia de un chaval con una extraña condición neurológica, el joven actor Juan José Ballesta hace un trabajo formidable, mezclando ternura y torpeza adolescentes. Dioses (2008), del cineasta peruano Josué Méndez es un interesante enfoque sobre la marginalización, que tiene como escenario principal las playas privadas (playas como las de Asia, en donde estoy los fines de semana en verano); vale resaltar la relación incestuosa entre el personaje interpretado por Sergio Gjurinovic y su hermana. Paris Je t’aime (2006) es una selección de cortometrajes dirigidos por algunos de los mejores cineastas contemporáneos: Gus Van Sant, Isabel Coixet, Walter Salles, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuarón, Wes Craven, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, etc.


Brick (2005) de Rian Johnson reúne a dos talentosos actores: Joseph Gordon-Levitt y Lukas Haas. Un crimen ha sido cometido cerca de un colegio, y un estudiante de secundaria decide investigar lo ocurrido; el cine negro se adapta a las temáticas juveniles en este film que desarrolla algunas de las ideas más originales que he visto últimamente. Merece, sin duda, estar en mi lista de las 100 mejores películas. There Will Be Blood (2007) de Paul Thomas Anderson es una magistral historia que sintetiza la ambición, el negocio del petróleo y el fanatismo religioso; no sólo Daniel Day Lewis deslumbra con su actuación sino también Paul Dano (actor que ha incursionado en el cine independiente, por ejemplo en L.I.E. de Michael Cuesta). Art School Confidential (2006) critica con mucho humor el mundo del arte actual, ¿qué es arte?, ¿y por qué solamente los expertos y las galerías imparten las reglas? Eastern Promises (2007) de David Cronenberg recrea los actos de la mafia rusa; violencia cruda y momentos intensos refuerzan la película. Run Lola Run (1998) es una veloz aventura con múltiples desenlaces, cada decisión de la protagonista crea alternativas diferentes.

The Night Listener (2006) se enfoca en un escritor homosexual que al leer el manuscrito de un chico de 14 años empieza a comunicarse con él telefónicamente. Sin embargo, todos sus amigos le advierten del peligro que puede haber en una relación de esta naturaleza. Running with Scissors (2006), basada en el libro de Augusten Burroughs, repasa la vida de un chico, la ruptura del hogar cuando su madre se declara lesbiana y las maquinaciones de un psiquiatra lunático; el film de Ryan Murphy nos muestra al protagonista, un adolescente gay, de la forma más inolvidable y original. Va para el top 100. Sommersturm (2004) se centra en un adolescente gay y su mejor amigo, un chico heterosexual; cuando viajan para competir en un torneo de remo, su amistad se deteriora, y las cosas parecen empeorar cuando descubren que el equipo rival está conformado únicamente por jóvenes gay.

He sido fan de Christopher Nolan desde Memento, y considero que The Dark Knight (2008) es probablemente la mejor producción basada en un personaje establecido (como Batman). Hellboy 2: the Golden Army (2008) de Guillermo del Toro es mucho mejor que la primera, cargada de fantasía y momentos épicos Hellboy 2 lo tiene todo para impresionar al espectador. Sky High (2005) es en realidad una película para "todas las edades", es decir, no es algo a lo que usualmente prestaría atención, pero como el joven actor Michael Angarano había actuado en notables cintas independientes (Dear Wendy, Snow Angels, Bondage, etc.) decidí verla de todos modos, y realmente la disfruté, fue encantadora y divertida. Iron Man (2008) fue toda una sopresa, fiel a la personalidad de Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. elevó el nivel de las producciones de Marvel. The Incredible Hulk (2008) fue una buena secuela (mi escena favorita es la de Stan Lee, oro puro).

Otros films de interés: “Joyeux Noel” y “Flags of our Fathers”, dos diferentes pero válidos enfoques sobre la guerra. “Idiocracy” una deliciosa comedia sobre un mundo poblado por idiotas y en donde los inteligentes están casi en extinción. “Hollywoodland”, “Dreamland” y “Kidulthood”, dramas intensos. “The Matthew Shepard Story” (basada en hechos reales); “The Wind that Shakes the Barley”, un capítulo de la revolución en Irlanda. “The illusionist”, magia e ilusión.

Y, obviamente, más terror (y suspenso): The grudge 2, Wrong turn 2: dead end, Hostel 2, Vacancy, El orfanato, Believers, Deathwatch, Saw, Texas chainsaw massacre, The Texas chainsaw massacre: the beginning, Friday the 13th 7: the new blood, Slither, Return to the house in haunted hill, The reaping, 1408, Anatomie, Saw III, Going to pieces: the rise and fall of the slasher film.

Otras películas: All the king’s men, Half light, November, Stories of lost souls, Aeon flux, The watcher, The slingshot, Dahmer, The number 23, Jumper, Eragon, Havoc 2: normal adolescent behavior, Steel city, American dreamz, Copying Beethoven, Breaking and entering, 10th and wolf, The dog problem, Edmond, Street kings, A scanner darkly, Stay alive, Dead calm, Eating out, Little fish, Barely legal, Woody Allen: a life in film, The house sitter, We own the night, The black dahlia, Delirious, Rendition road, Body of lies, Superbad, The day the Earth stood still, Elementarteilchen, La bande du drugstore, Sonnen alleen, Den brysommen mannen, A cause de un garcon, Lake Tahoe, Perro come perro, Saint Gaine. Y las que me parecieron decepcionantes: La zona, Quantum of solace, X- Files 2: I want to believe.