By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie and Zoe with assistance from Rio
12 February 2014
I´m writing to you the second day of this month, seventy six years to the day after San Lorenzo hammered Portugal´s national team by 10-4 during the 1947 famous Iberian tour, with five goals by the great Rinaldo Martino and a "hat-trick" from René Pontoni, and a day after CASLA´s victory against Danubio under the leadership of Edgardo Bauza in the last pre-season match, winning the Río de la Plata
Cup that confronts Argentine and Uruguayan champions. Yesterday Juan Antonio Pizzi´s Valencia also won against Tata Martino´s Barcelona, the "ches
" [tr. note nickname of the people from Valencia] playing with the passion of the best teams from Boedo. Before, now and always - the history of the spectacular and aggressive game of the Ciclón is great. The truth is that San Lorenzo has been a little lucky in the pre-season; they haven't achieved a constant level of collective play, but often luck is earned and deserved, as has been the case for CASLA this summer. The team is looking good for the beginning of the new tournament next Friday against Olimpo, and for the Copa Libertadores
I'm sending you something nice that I read a couple of months ago about the legendary Champion Cuervo of 1947 and his famous 1947 tour that totally changed the way the tactical part of soccer in Spain and Portugal was looked at - and which still continues having repercussions to this day:
Speaking of Spanish soccer, Luis Aragonés died yesterday, player and emblematic manager of Atlético de Madrid and head coach that brought them to the 2008 European Cup and set in motion the extraordinary stage that the Roja [tr.note: nickname for Spain´s national team] continues to experience. Los Colchoneros [tr. note: Atlético de Madrid] are playing against Real Sociedad in the Vicente Calderón stadium while I'm writing you, and if they win, they'll take the top spot from Barcelona in the championship. At the moment, they're winning 1-0 thanks to a nicely played goal by David Villa with an assist from Diego Costa. They honored Aragonés before the game and the Atleti supporters kept chanting the name of the legendary coach every two minutes. I'm sure that a tradition is going to be established of remembering the number of his shirt in the 8th minute of every home match from now on, like Bernabeu [tr. note: Real Madrid stadium] does for Juanito in the 7th minute. Although I'm a Real Madrid supporter, it must be said that today's tribute to Luis Aragonés was very emotional.
Diego Costa just made a great goal. 2-0 for Atlético de Madrid. Costa is a very strong player physically, with clever dribbling. He's going to be a powerful weapon for Spain at the World Cup. Los Colchoneros have the top spot. They finally won 4-0 with the third goal from Miranda and the last one from the newly returned Diego Ribas, a reinforcement that Cholo Simeone began to ask for a year and a half ago. A great day at the Calderón [tr. note: Atlético de Madrid stadium].
Let's see if Real Madrid can win in the Basque Country [tr. note: area in the north of Spain] tonight. I'm sure that it's going to be a complicated challenge for Madrid to play Athletic de Bilbao in the San Mamés, where the Leones are enjoying a very positive winning streak and an impressive group of supporters.
I just heard on the radio that the very good actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has died of an overdose. Another great one that's gone.
Dear Viggo: Here we're under an intense week of rain that seems to be the purgatory of a change of months. January left, February arrived. There are more cars in the street. Humidity continues being the order of the day and now a plague of mosquitoes is devastating the city. In two weeks, I'm leaving with the family for Isla Negra in Chile; maybe I'll write you from there. Guada and Anita are still in the countryside and I'm writing a novella totally randomly, without stopping. I watched the CASLA matches and the truth is that I like how the team is playing. It seems to me that Bauza is keeping his eye on eliminating as much as he can the imbalance in the defence that is our weakest part. Later, from the half on, we had almost two players per position and two of them, very good ones. I like Cavallaro; I think that he could grow a lot. I'm going to watch the match against Olimpo this Friday at home.
Juan Ignacio Cavallaro.
I think once in these exchanges, I wrote you, after seeing The Master, that Philip Seymour Hoffman seemed like a very great actor to me. What's strange is that the Argentine press remembers him for the film he did about Truman Capote in which, to my taste, he mimicked the writer a lot. It's that kind of role that so many of the Oscar jurors like. Mimicry. Or the over-acting that Daniel Day Lewis usually does or, for example, DiCaprio in that last one from Scorsese. Hoffman's role in The Master is simply great. How to act without having to represent reality in a sterile way? Artaud was wondering about something like that in the Theatre of Cruelty and Hoffman did it. On the other hand, mimicry is no guarantee of anything. When the entomologists opened the stomach of anteaters, they discovered that they had eaten as many insects that practiced mimicry in order not to be discovered as those that didn't. Conclusion? Mimicry is not worth it. Vladimir Nabokov, taking this into account, said that nature is only mimicked out of aesthetic desire.
Nabokov hunting butterflies.
You didn't answer me about whether you're going to be in Spain in April, so we can see each other if I go, Cuervo.
P.S. A co-worker is telling me now that Mauro Matos, the All Boys nine, just went to CASLA. All Boys is going to go to B, which makes me sad because my best friend, Alejandro Lingenti, is from that club.
Good morning, Cuervo
It´s six in the morning in Madrid. I just finished reading you. Here it´s also raining, but cold, threatening to turn into snow. I wanted to look at some things on the laptop before the children woke up.
© Viggo Mortensen.
I'd seen the news about Matos on the Mundoazulgrana site. It seems to be a smart reinforcement. Of course I like that we have won all the pre-season matches, but what I like best is the easy way Bauza has of working as a coach. Like Pizzi, he doesn´t seek media attention. Cholo Simeone´s current profile with Atlético de Madrid is similar; silence and work are the rule. By the way, the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals between Atleti and Real Madrid will be played tonight in the Bernabeu. Right now, and for quite a while, Cholo´s team is playing much better, with less stage fright.
For example, Madrid's last match against Athletic de Bilbao at San Mamés, which ended 1-1, was one more example of the strategy patented by Mourinho and the long Italian tradition, playing to win with very little scoring, playing not to lose by cheating and kicking if necessary. You know how sick this sort of anti-soccer makes me. The team was winning one to 0 in that pitch that´s a pain in the ass for any visitor, and Ancelotti pulled them back. Instead, Cholo´s guys, in their match against Real Sociedad, warmed up their engines and threw themselves into the attack as much as possible throughout the match, with the strikers always ready to defend when it was necessary, as they have been doing throughout the whole tournament. Real Madrid, in spite of having the most expensive team and the most complete bench in the League, doesn´t play a thing. The good thing about Ancelotti is that he´s not a bitter narcissist like Mourinho, but his style of soccer is not showy and, in my opinion, he doesn´t make the most of the talent he has at his disposal. Sometimes, of course, the "Catenaccio" brings good results despite how ugly it usually is to see. The day before yesterday Mourinho himself was able to win against Pellegrini´s Manchester City 1-0 with that tactic. Another thing that bothered me about Madrid in Bilbao was to see that Cristiano Ronaldo seems to have transmitted to Benzema this habit of stopping play to wait for the referee to whistle a foul on his opponent. The Frenchman is a great player but, for example, in a move in the opponent's area, when he had the ball on his own against two somewhat destabilizing rivals, he stopped playing because one of them scratched his lip. They didn´t blow the whistle and the defence cleared the ball out of the box. Run, and later look at your hurting little mouth! You have to end the move, as players like Messi, David Villa, Tévez, Higuaín, Piatti, Romagnoli and others do. When you watch a rugby match, like the France against England one that was played last Saturday in Paris, or see almost any boxer in the ring, you realise you have to go on at all costs. If the referee calls a foul, tough luck, but you can´t stop playing, like a little girl.
I was in Paris to make some corrections to the sound for the French film that we shot in Morocco, Loin des hommes, (Far from Men). The film is turning out beautifully. I think you and Lisandro are going to like it. It deals with an inner and outer journey in tough landscapes, like the story that you and Lisandro invented. It seems to me that the director, David Oelhoffen, is getting a beautiful adaptation of the Albert Camus story. Camus was a complete stoic and this film has a lot of that spirit, that of Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Looking at my shooting notes before recording in Paris, I paid attention to his quotes related to endurance (what I'm referring to, among other things, when I say that the theatrics and snivelling of some soccer players bothers me) that I'd written down in my notebook.
"Every day one has to conquer one's happiness."
"That which one calls a reason to live is at the same time an excellent reason to die."
"The greatness of an artist is measured by the temptations that he has overcome."
"The habit of despair is worse than the despair itself."
"Heroism is a small thing, happiness is more difficult."
"True generosity toward the future consists in giving everything to the present."
In March of 2000, while I was filming Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand, I had a free week and I went to New York to present an exhibit of photos and paintings. During the days that I was mounting the exhibit in Manhattan, I was lucky enough to see Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly in Sam Shepard's play, True West. It deals with two brothers, one (Austin) who is a writer and the other (Lee) who's a half lazy, dangerous guy who thinks that he can write as well as or better than his brother. Everything that makes creating hard for the professional writer comes easily to his brother. It's a very interesting relationship and a play full of anguish, love and humor. I saw it twice, because each night the actors switched roles. Like the brothers change "character" during the play, the writer becoming ever more rabid and the other [brother] more serene in his cunning, it was great to see the actors alternating in each performance. The two of them were great. They were equals in despair. If you haven't read it, I think you'd like that play a lot. It's a delightful crazy thing when it's played well.
They are going to take him away...
Hi, Viggo: Incredible, that play you saw with Hoffman where the two actors exchanged roles. And what a pair of actors those two [are], eh? Today dawned raining; actually it's been raining since last night. And as soon as I got up, I left my house, like Kwai Chang Caine walking on rice paper, in silence (Guada and Ana and Rita were sleeping) to go to a bar to have a coffee and a croissant for breakfast.
Kwai Chang and Po, the old blind master.
As soon as I opened the newspaper, I saw that article about Correa and I thought the same as you are telling me: they are going to take him away. It´s sad but that´s how it is. I hope to see him playing for a while longer in any case. Although he seems like a great player to me, I think he´s still a bit green. I´ll give you an example. When I saw Chancha Rinaldi playing during the relegation and subsequent championship conducted by Veira that we lost by one point, he already was a huge player. He had an imminence in his game that was always going to produce something explosive, lethal, destabilizing. I liked watching him play a lot; he was great. I think that today, Correa is a few rungs below that Rinaldi. It would be good if we get him to stay until he finds his balance. He already has a championship under his belt and that's experience. Now let's go for the Libertadores.
The first official San Lorenzo match in the new tournament is about to begin. Before trying to connect to it with my laptop, I just saw this incredible video of an English crow solving an impressive puzzle. Look how wonderful [it is], brother.
Ciclón is starting: Piatti, Mercier, Buffarini, Romagnoli, Correa, Alvarado, Ortigoza, Gentiletti, Mas, Torrico... How lovely to see them again and hear their names. And Biandi, who seems to have been assimilated well. I just noticed they are showing the match on TV, so I don't have to watch it on the laptop. It's almost two in the morning, and I have to get up early, but I don't want to miss this match. First quarter of an hour. Romagnoli is in good shape, has a lot of energy and keeps looking for connections with his teammates, the goal play. Villanueva confronts him, Cerutti kicks him, but Pipi goes ahead. Torrico solid. I'm liking the team in this first half, I think they are showing a little more aggressiveness and cohesion than Olimpo, although it annoys me not seeing them ending the attack moves. The two free kicks by Romagnoli were good ones and could have ended in goals, but no luck. I hope we don't waste a lot of opportunities to end up with a tie or worse, as happened to San Lorenzo in the last tournament. I must say Olimpo is playing quite enthusiastically, understandable since they are fighting not to go down to B. Nereo Champagne, trained in CASLA, is playing well in the net of the guys from Bahía Blanca. The first half is almost over. It seems to me that we are losing heart a bit. As usual, the two teams started out running like crazy but now the match has calmed down a little. Let´s see if during half time Bauza helps motivate his players to stay at the level of play worthy of a champion. He can help with tactics, but the passion has to come from those who are on the pitch. The first 45 minutes are over. I'm a bit worried. We should have scored the first goal by now. But I think we are going to pull out our credentials and resolve the match in the second half. I'm going to turn the laptop off and stretch out on the sofa. Enough of this nonsense.
Well, it's over. I'm writing to you after sleeping badly on the sofa. It´s a good thing I'm home alone today, because I'm tired and a bit depressed. The team was not that good on the attack in the second half either, but they seemed to approach the opponent's box more effectively. Piatti almost scored a big goal, the team started to play better collectively, moving the ball well, and it seemed they were going to score at any moment. Then two very silly defensive mistakes were made and suddenly the locals were winning 2-0. With the expulsion of Gentiletti, faith in a comeback typical of a great [team] seemed to vanish. I thought about the Spanish league match I had watched some hours before, between Barcelona's Espanyol and Granada. Although they played at a numeric disadvantage for more than an hour after the red card to Victor Álvarez 30 minutes into the match, they played as if they had twenty players, collectively showing an unstoppable passion the whole time. They controlled the game by an awesome physical effort and the conviction that "this match is mine." That's what San Lorenzo was missing, the "this match is mine" [mentality]. To get to that mental state as a group depends on the veterans, above all, and the coach. I know that the tournament is just beginning and they have to fine tune certain things, but the team has to raise the level quickly. We have the players to do that. I don't like the powerful kicks, no matter how good a shot Piatti and the others have. It seems to me that it's necessary to ensure that you have control of the ball on the ground all over the pitch before playing to surprise [your opponents] with long-range shots, because if not, the strikers get frustrated and everything quickly falls apart. And I don't know why Kanneman wasn't on the pitch. Except for Mercier, no one put more guts into defence than Kanneman in the last tournament. There are things to improve on at the back, that's for sure. I agree with the philosophy of Von Clausewitz, the nineteenth century German military man who said the "...swift and vigorous change to offense - the flashing sword of vengeance - is what constitutes the most brilliant episodes of defence," but first you have to mark the adversary well and know how to take the ball away consistently. Let's see if Bauza finds a way to ensure that happens.
Carl Von Clausewitz.
It's raining. I have to get ready to go to the Berlin Festival (close to where Von Clausewitz was born), where we're introducing the film that we made last year, The Two Faces of January, based on the Patricia Highsmith book. I hope to be able to overcome my awful mental state before landing in Germany. Hold on, Ciclón!
Hello, Cuervo: I don't know if you've arrived in Berlin yet. Last night I watched the opening game of the Libertadores with my old man. A bummer. I suffered through the Olimpo [game] alone and didn't drive myself crazy thinking about it much because I thought that it was the beginning of the cycle, a complicated pitch, that kind of stuff, but this one at the Libertadores against a mediocre Botafogo left me with a lot of doubts. Above all, hearing that Bauza had said that cup matches are won, points are added up and it's not so important how they are played. I don't agree with any of that. Notice that we came out with three Fives - Mercier, Ortigoza and Kalinski - to put pressure on the midfield and that didn't help at all. We knew that from the beginning. It never works to come out defending. You have to attack; if not, why are you playing? The end justifies the means? Never! At the end, with two goals down already, Bauza had to put in Romagnoli and try to attack but, as usually happens, it was already too late.
I agree with you; Kanneman has to play. They have to put in more attacking midfielders and try to have wines [ tr. note: tactics of right/left wingers no longer in use.] My old man, who is 86 years old, said to me, "And where are the wines? I didn't have the heart to explain to him that modern soccer decided to get rid of the playmaker, to eliminate the wines for some unknown capitalist reason. I'm leaving this Saturday for Grone Island in Chile. If I have a computer on hand, I'll write you from there, but I don't think I will. I hope that Bauza will be like the Einstein crow that you sent me. Saturday we play against Racing and next week again for the Cup. It's going to be an uphill battle, but I think we have the same players as last year and we have to have faith in them, right?
Last edited: 25 March 2014 20:18:54