As I was sitting by the window of a newly discovered café downtown where I can peacefully work from remotely, one early, quiet and misty autumn morning, the images from the beginning of Three Days of the Condor with Robert Redford, before he is thrown into a reality he didn’t believe was possible, came to my mind. I can easily transport myself. I don’t use virtual reality for that. I use films and books. Pedro Almodóvar was saying in his book that “to make a film is to improve life”. I use films to take the best part of life.
“Where do you find the time?,” one of my loyal readers was asking me when I posted the photo above on Instagram about my current reading situation. The answer came fast: I don’t watch tv. I spend almost zero time on social media. I prioritise. I organise myself. And I am a really fast reader. So it all adds up. But there’s another aspect of social media I also wanted to talk about. I don’t use it much and I only use it for my work and my website. Be that as it may, the stories I want to tell and write about are to be found on Classiq Journal. I write for a conscious audience, whose attention span I trust is of more than a few split seconds required to scroll down one’s Instagram feed. But my spending so little time on social media also means that I don’t get to share much other quality content than what I provide on my website, like for example, the latest podcast episode that I enjoyed, without transforming it into a full-length article. Or it may be the other way around. I sometimes talk about the latest film I have watched at the cinema on Instagram, but as I don’t write film reviews on my website (my film writing is about content that one hardly finds anywhere else, such as fashion in film or interviews with artists working in the field), some of my readers will miss out on, because most of my readers don’t follow me on the social networks.
That’s where the Culture Trip Newsletter comes in. A regular round-up, not weekly, maybe not even monthly but most likely seasonally, where I gather and recommend the latest talks, films, music, interviews, books and cultural news that have caught my attention and have myself experienced in one way or another (not just put on my to-do list).
Elise Loehnen interviews Esther Wojcicki for Goop Podcast. Esther is a journalist, the founder of the Media Arts programs at Palo Alto High School, California, and the author of the book How to Raise Successful People. I know, there are so many books about parenting (I have read none) and every parent can come with their own list of advice on the subject, but the way Wojcicki talks about raising well-adjusted, independent children has hit all the right notes with me (her opinions are so sound and come from such a friendly place – she is a mother of three and an educator and she has developed such a beautiful relationship with her children and students) and also made me aware of mistakes I myself somehow knew I was making but unwillingly make nonetheless in raising my son. I can’t wait to read her book.
Dolor y gloria. I try to avoid reading film reviews. For not being even slightly influenced in my own writing about a certain film, and because critics so many times seem to judge a film based more on certain algorithms that must be checked rather than on their own emotions. So what do I do when I really want to learn more about a film or another? I look for interviews with the actors, directors, screenwriters, composers, costume designers, etc. So my recommendation for Pain and Glory, Almodóvar’s incredibly intimate, enveloped in such a quiet and ravishing beauty and enlivened by Antonio Banderas’ exceptional, career-best performance, is this: listen to Terry Gross’ podcast with Antonio Banderas and this talk with Pedro Almodóvar himself (scroll down to the episode). That laundry washing scene by the river that the director is talking about keeps coming to my mind, especially that, even if I am from a different country and from a different generation than Pedro, there are many similitudes between our cultures (both Latin) and that sequence took me down the memory lane of my childhood and stirred up so many emotions.
Ad Astra. Brad Pitt in his most subtle, understated performance. I’ve never seen him in such a role and I wish I saw more of this minimalist acting on screen in general. The film itself is minimalist, a sci-fi that is not showy, but meditative and realistic. Why is it that this kind of performances are always overlooked to the benefit of physically and mentally challenging or over-the-top characters? I wonder if Brad will get any nomination for his role and how many Joaquin Phoenix will get for Joker.
Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars, by Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth. After attending a Q&A with Ethan Hawke during a film festival a couple of years ago, I have started to pay even more attention to his work in film and elsewhere. So when this book came my way, I was eager to embrace it. Not only did I love the format, a graphic novel, but the rich cultural journey itself.
For TIME magazine, Suyin Haynes talks to Jessica Lange about “Highway 61”, the actor-photographer’s new book of photographs taken along the historic scenic route that runs the length of the American Midwest connecting Minnesota with New Orleans. “The discipline of acting and the idea of being present has helped with the photography. The photography gives me a chance to be absolutely alone, and that’s been a wonderful kind of antidote to the confusion and the chaos of working on a movie or being in the theatre. One really informs the other,” Lange says in the interview. Highway 61 is out now.
Permanent Record, by Edward Snowden. I will soon write more about the book, but, for now, I am just so ravished by how we have let technology rule and ruin our lives that I have to take a step back to straighten out my thoughts after everything I’ve read. The discussion is endless, and complicated, and disturbing, and terrifying. And it is still very hard for me to accept that no one in this whole wide world is completely free anymore. And if you tell me that you don’t care about your privacy because you have nothing to hide, then you don’t value privacy or you don’t know the meaning of and the right to privacy, nor the meaning of and the right to freedom.