AFI LAFF: You’re Killing Me Susana (starring Gael Garcia Bernal)

This movie ((a blend of comedy, romance, and drama) is part of AFI’s Latin American Film Festival (Silver Spring, MD); it is in Spanish and English w/ English subtitles. The star is ageless hottie (he’s 39 now- whoa) Gael Garcia Bernal (GGB). If you have Netflix, you can see him in Mozart of the Jungle (highly recommended by friends, both online and offline). 

After working on his soap opera, Eligio (GGB) comes home late to party at his apartment w/ some buddies. He discovers that his wife, Susana (Veronica Echegui), has left him w/o a word or note. Clueless as to why she left, he goes on a quest to find her, as he loves her deeply. Eligio travels from Mexico City to an university town in Iowa (actual shooting location: Canada) where Susana is attending a conference of international writers. Susana may have moved on (for good this time); she is no longer willing to accept Eligio’s behavior (incl. cheating w/ other women). She has become involved w/ a Polish poet who is silent, imposing, and very tall (esp. in comparison to Eligio). Eligio eventually changes his macho attitude and realizes that he can’t always get by on charm! 

It just doesn’t know what it is. The character arc is completely absent; it has an uneven tone; the laughs are cheap and spread too far between each other… It sort of glosses over the subjects which the movie promised to tackle in zero-effective way. The way this movie was marketed has nothing to do with the movie at all, and created expectations that, probably, ruined the whole experience for me (which is becoming a common problem with movies nowadays). 

-A female viewer from Mexico

The procedures of the TSA, being in a foreign land (incl. driving in a snowy blizzard), and the culture/people of rural America add bits of humor and danger to the story. However, it’s a (mostly) awkward movie. I learned that it was based on a novel when the credits rolled; maybe the filmmakers should’ve let the author have input. The rural folks w/ a love of guns and beer come off as hokey. There is an (obvious) scene where the cute blonde American (w/ a crush on Eligio) proves to be a bit of a stereotype, too. I wondered why Susana didn’t get many lines of dialogue; she should’ve had more to say/do. This is another example of a movie that can’t rely on just one actor (albeit a big name w/ a lot of talent) to carry the story! 

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MUST-SEE for ANY Shakespeare Fan: A Presentation by Author/Actor Ben Crystal

Breakdown of segments in this video:

0:00-5:00 – Introduction & Ben’s own challenges with studying, then performing, Shakespeare. 

5:00-10:00 – What exactly is iambic pentameter? (Ben shows us how it’s part of everyday life!) Discussion of sonnet form, poetry, and prose.

10:00-39:00 – Ben breaks down, in a fresh new way, 3 famous scenes from Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear (w/ the help of two actors from his theater company and his linguist father). Ben speaks in Shakespeare’re original pronunciation (OP)- it’s a mix of different accents from Elizabethan England (“a melting pot”). 

39:00- 58:00 – Ben talks about how Shakespeare “directs the actors” w/ his writing, his own eclectic accent, then reveals to us the original pronunciation (OP) from the Bard’s day- a mix of different accents from Elizabethan England (“a melting pot”). Ben looks at the (bawdy) humor in a scene from As You Like It and the almost-military cadence to one of the monologues in Richard III.

58:00 – 1:02:00 – Suggestions of how to teach Shakespeare in schools (incl. to young children).

1:03:00 – end – Q&A w/ the audience (as well as others watching ALL over the world).

Game of Thrones: Season 7 – Thoughts & Questions

SPOILERS: Don’t read this post if you haven’t seen, or don’t want to know, details from Season 7 of Game of Thrones.

My initial thought was that Arya and Sansa were plotting this eventuality all along, which is why they went along with Littlefinger’s scheme just long enough to put him in a position where they could kill him. But if that’s the case, why were there so many scenes featuring just the two sisters, scenes that Littlefinger couldn’t plausibly know about? And if going along with Littlefinger wasn’t an act, then the storytelling is even stranger, because Sansa and Arya spent a lot of time fighting about things that seemed largely out of character, as opposed to all of the things they really did have to fight about. Todd VanDerWorff (Vox)

Of course, while it was Arya who actually did the executing, and it was Bran who provided some key intel, the bulk of the credit for Littlefinger’s death can go to Sansa. She was the one smart enough to see through Littlefinger’s machinations, and also the only one with enough sparkle to make him crawl on the ground while weeping and begging for mercy. -Joanna Robinson (Vanity Fair)

MANY viewers polled (on Amazon) considered Sansa the MVP of the finale. She had such a crazy journey over the the oast 7 yrs, BUT survived to become Lady of Winterfell, and FINALLY defeat Littlefinger (YAY)! We get a rundown of the “chaos” that Lord Petyr Baelish caused over the years; w/o him, there would be no story. It was he who had Catelyn Stark’s younger sister, Lysa (crazy in love w/ him) poison her husband, Jon Arryn (Hand to King Robert Baratheon). Robert needed a man who knew, as well as someone he could trust, so he trekked North w/ most of his family.

King Robert convinced his oldest/closest friend, Ned Stark, to move to King’s Landing and take over the role of Hand. (Robert had loved Ned’s long-dead sister, Lyanna, BUT that’s another part of the tale.) To sweeten the job offer, Robert betrothed his son/heir, Joffrey, to Ned’s eldest daughter, Sansa (who had dreamed of living in the big city and being married to a handsome prince). In time, Ned discovered that Joffrey (and all Robert’s supposed children w/ his wife, Cersei Lannister) were fathered by her twin brother, Jaime. The common people of realm thought that their king was killed by a boar during a hunt; he was actually poisoned by his cupbearer, Lancel, a young cousin/lover to Cersei. The plot to kill Robert was Cersei’s plan (and Littlefinger was allied w/ her); they had never loved (or even liked) each other. After Ned (kind/honorable/artless) revealed what he knew re: Prince Joffrey’s illegitimacy to (clever/power-hungry/ruthless) Cersei, it ALL went downhill for the Stark clan! 

This obsessive analysis of every line of dialogue and scene scene was possible because the series established and followed a distinct set of rules that kept the chaos in check. 

The patterned logic made it possible to hypothesize outcomes, for any viewer to wax poetically on Twitter about the theoretical fate of their favorite characters. It made a close reading worth it… 

…Season 7 shed these rules in order to sprint towards the story’s conclusion. And in doing so it became a very different series, one that has left the old Game of Thrones in the dust. -Kelly Lawler (USA Today)

“We” (English majors) analyze nearly everything (things we read, listen to, and see in media). That’s why GoT is such a treat; I haven’t been a “superfan” of any other show before (though I have followed MANY TV series in the past). There is SO much going on w/ the action, costumes, sets/locations, music, and (most importantly, IMO) characters and dialogue! This series has some of the MOST complicated characters and quotable lines we’ve encountered in recent years on TV. No wonder we get disappointed when the show doesn’t live up to its potential!  

Let’s not mince words: The Loot Train Battle was a masterpiece. Director Matt Shakman’s first Thrones episode [“The Spoils of War”] featured one of the single greatest battle sequences in the show’s entire history… The pacing and choreography involved in the imaginative battle, not to mention the sheer sight of dragon fire scorching the soil of the Seven Kingdoms, launch this episode into elite status. -Josh Wigler (The Hollywood Reporter)

There were some great moments in S7; the best action scenes happened in E4 (check out the behind-the-scenes segment from HBO, if you haven’t done so yet). This was the first time that Jaime (commander of the Lannister forces) saw a dragon- whoa! He lived (thanks Bronn) to tell Cersei, BUT she didn’t realize the gravity of their situation (until the finale).  As Jaime was riding away from the city, Winter (snow) came to King’s Landing for the first time in the series. 

QUESTIONS: (I hope these get addressed in Season 8!)

  • Why was Tyrion creeping around outside Dany’s cabin on the boat? 
    • I think he feels that these two rulers hooking up  (or “personal alliance” as Peter Segal called it) before the end of the war is a bad idea. 
    • Some YouTube reviewers think that Tyrion MAY have betrayed Dany, so is feeling guilty about it (a la Jorah w/ the poisoned wine murder plot). 
    • I don’t think this is the case, BUT wanted to share this theory also: Most likely, Tyrion goofed up and secretly fell in love with his queen. Game of Thrones has pretty much set this scenario up as an inevitability. Tyrion pretty much told her as much, right before they shipped out from Meereen: “He wasn’t the first to love you,” he said, referring to Daario, “and he won’t be the last.” -Vinnie Mancuso (Collider)
    • Will the fact that Jon—not Daenerys—is technically the rightful heir to the Targaryen throne put a damper on their burgeoning romance? -Joanna Robinson (Vanity Fair)
  • Is Tormund alive? If so, then will he ever be able to win over Brienne (hmmm). 
  • Is Beric alive? (He’s on his 7th life, having been killed and revived 6 times, as The Hound explains in E6.) I just LOVE this actor’s voice, and he has that cool flaming sword. Maybe Melisandre can revive him? 
  • Is Cersei actually pregnant? This has turned out to be one of the MOST discussed issue by fans online! Some even think that the baby could be Euron’s (after all, he is still loyal to Cersei).
  • What’s next for Jaime? Finally, he has escaped Cersei’s power (YAY)! I’m sure he will ally himself w/ Dany, BUT it may take him some time. Will he reconnect w/ Brienne? They has great chemistry together.
  • Will Theon be able to rescue Yaara from Euron?
  • What’s next for Euron? Related issue: Can The Golden Company (sellswords) stand up to Dany’s army?
  • Who will end up on the Iron Throne?
    • One could assume someone has to end the series on The Iron Throne, but there’s an equal possibility there won’t even be an Iron Throne. Or any people left alive, for that matter. -Vinnie Mancuso (Collider)