Uruguyuan Schoolchildren React to Winning Goal During World Cup

This is fantastic. Uruguay’s Jose Maria Gimenez scores the game-winning goal against Egypt on a header in the 90th minute and this room full of Uruguayan schoolchildren erupts in glee. They will remember this day their entire lives.

This type of moment will play out over and over again over the next few days and weeks, which is why I love the World Cup.

(Access to these kind of obscure videos is a redeeming feature of Twitter and the Internet.)

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(Not So) Short Review of Chungking Express

chungking express

Like I suppose a lot of people did, I performed a few Google searches in the aftermath of Anthony Bourdain’s passing* in what started as a retrospective attempt to find clues that he may have left of his despair, but then quickly turned into a time of revisiting old stories and clips about his life over the past couple of decades.

(* – I promise this will be the last post about the topic.)

Knowing that he was a big movie buff, I decided to google “Bourdain Top Ten Movies” which led me to this page …

https://www.criterion.com/current/top-10-lists/152-anthony-bourdain-s-top-10

… a 2011 list of his top 10 movies

  1. The Friends of Eddie Coyle
  2. Eyes Without a Face
  3. The Battle of Algiers
  4. Chungking Express
  5. Kiss Me Deadly
  6. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
  7. Withnail and I
  8. Army of Shadows
  9. House of Games
  10. Sullivan’s Travels

I have to admit that before last weekend I hadn’t seen any of these movies but I figure I can take his word for it that they are worth seeing. And so, as a small way of paying homage to his legacy – and a chance to see some good movies – I have decided to watch as many of them as I can over the next few weeks and offer my thoughts. And with that, I’ll start with the one that I watched on Sunday – Chungking Express.

Let me just start by saying that, if you are the type of person who likes a good story with well-developed characters, then Chungking Express is not the movie for you. The movie is only an hour and 43 minutes long and instead of one story, the director (Wong Kar-Wai) included two. The result is two underdeveloped story arcs and a group of characters with no back story – they are simply introduced to the viewer during a brief episode (two, actually) of their lives and when those episodes are over, so is the movie.

That’s not to say you won’t enjoy the characters. They are quirky and fascinating to watch as they deal in their unique way with loneliness and disappointment, hope and hopelessness, and infatuation and longing. A thought that crossed my mind is that people from the Western hemisphere might find their approach to problems a bit odd. I don’t know – you tell me after you watch the movie. As for me, since I lived in Asia for 17 years, I did not find them out of the ordinary.

(I know that there are some who will read this who will want to know what the movie’s about … because I’m lazy I’m just going to copy and paste a description from the movie’s Wikipedia page):

“The film consists of two stories told in sequence, each about a lovesick Hong Kong policeman mulling over his relationship with a woman. The first story stars Takeshi Kaneshiro as a cop obsessed with his breakup with a woman named May, and his encounter with a mysterious drug smuggler (Brigitte Lin). The second stars Tony Leung as a police officer roused from his gloom over the loss of his flight attendant girlfriend (Valerie Chow) by the attentions of a quirky snack bar worker (Faye Wong).”

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chungking_Express)

But none of that matters, because Chungking Express wasn’t meant to be enjoyed for its story. Its brilliance is in its camerawork. Its visuals. Its motion, colors, and location. Concerning his filming style, the movie’s cinematographer, Christopher Doyle (who coincidentally shot the final episode of Parts Unknown in Hong Kong just days before Bordain’s death), said,

What I’m trying to do is make the camera-work lyrical rather than fragmentary. It’s a dance between the camera and the actors.

And without a doubt he succeeds.

To be honest, it took me about fifteen minutes before I began to appreciate the subtleties of the camera work (I am a person who likes a good story, after all). But then I started noticing how the camera was in a constant state of motion, zooming in and out and darting about as it set up the actor’s next line or movement or even thought. It’s at times frenetic and at others subtle. You can get a sense of it in this video made from clips of the movie:

There were two other things that I enjoyed about Chungking Express on a personal level. The first was its portrayal of Hong Kong. Typically, when one thinks of Hong Kong, they picture skyscrapers and Kowloon Bay. Wong takes the viewer to ground level – to the grimy, pulsating, in-your-face action on the street. The life of the city.

The second is that the movie was released in 1994 – only a year before I arrived in South Korea for the very first time – and it brought back a lot of memories. Special impressions and wonderment that I had of Asia as a much more naive man. This movie was a big hit in Korea and when I heard California Dreaming playing over and over (and over) in the movie, I remembered the time when I heard it virtually everywhere I went in Seoul for the first couple of years I was there.

Ah, yes … mid-90s Asia. A time when Asian cinema was establishing its reputation on a global scale; and the course of my life made its most consequential turn …

… but I digress.

I give Chungking Express a 4 out of 5. I subscribed to FilmStruck to watch it, but if you want to see it for free you can find it in two parts at DailyMotion.

Enjoy!

The Lessons of Anthony Bourdain

I was a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain. I wrote on my Facebook page that to me he represented an amalgam of the personalities and characters of people I met while living and traveling abroad. I have always had a nomadic spirit, and when I watched episodes of No Reservations it stoked an already burning desire to explore new places, peoples, and cultures. I suppose I saw my approach to the world as similar to his, though on a much, much smaller scale. I frequently related to the scenes where he dined and drank and laughed and philosophized and drank some more, always in a new locale. It was as though we were existing in parallel universes (mine not nearly as cool as his, of course).

So it hit me pretty hard when I learned of his death; doubly so when I heard that it was by suicide, as I too went through a deep, dark period of uncontrollable depression a few years ago and I saw up close how threatening it can be.

No one will ever really know what exactly was going through his head in the moment he made that severe, irreversible decision to end his life, but on some level I think I can imagine what he felt. Because he was a man who possessed such passion and curiosity about the world, it’s hard to understand why he would opt to remove himself from it; but on the other hand, such intense passion and curiosity bring with them high expectations, and when depression takes over the mind it becomes increasingly difficult to have those expectations met – no matter how exotic the next day suggests itself to be. Finally, I suppose, one reaches a place where you are convinced those expectations will never again be met and, that being the case, what’s the point of carrying on?

I’ll miss Anthony Bourdain; especially with the state the world is in today. I’ve heard more than a few people say that. Now more than ever we really could have used his inspiration and his example. But what’re ya gonna do?

Actually, I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do – I’m going to do what I think he probably wanted us all to do. I’m going to read more, learn more, watch more movies about the human existence, take more culinary risks, travel more, move more, delve more deeply into the stories of other cultures, look more closely into the eyes of those people in faraway places we hear about in the news. Strive to understand more. Celebrate more what we share in common.

Live in the moment. Appreciate our shared existence.

Strawberries and Nutella

IMG_20180603_210054_499

Sometimes the simplest desserts are the best.

I prepared this for Maia, but then tasted one myself. I don’t know why, but for the first time in ages I truly savored the sweet flavors of strawberry and chocolate blended together. I mean, really contemplated the flavors as I took a bite. It was as though I was tasting them for the first time. What a pleasant experience.

Still my little girl

Just when I start to worry that Maia is moving a little too rapidly towards independence, she goes and makes something like this.

Seaworld San Diego

Here are some highlights from Day One of our vacation to Southern California. First stop was Seaworld. We flew out of Spokane, Washington early in the morning to San Diego, arrived at about 10 am, picked up our rental car, and drove straight to the park. We were fortunate to have beautiful weather. After a full day spent at the park we drove up I-5 to Carlsbad, California where we spent the night before visiting Legoland the next day.

Best parts of Seaworld – the shows

  • Shamu show (glad we could see it before it ends)
  • Pets Rule (Maia’s favorite show)
  • Sea Lion’s Live show

Unfortunately, those were the only three shows we could see as we arrived around noon. They were great though. Very entertaining.

Worst part of Seaworld (“worst” being a relative term – it was still fun)

  • The rides. They were good fun, but the amusement park part of Seaworld came across to me a little worn/dated.

Brazil? Or Buttzil?

Maia and I just finished watching an Anthony Bourdain episode shot at a coastal area of Brazil. Lots of beaches and … other stuff. Afterwards Maia declared, “They should call it Buttzil.”

Yes. Yes they should.