The Beginning 2016 - Impermanence
By Viggo Mortensen and Fabián Casas - translated by Ollie and Zoe
Hello, Cuervo, we are already in Reñaca, Chile. I'm a Kerouac who committed the fatal error of reproducing himself. We go in the car, the four of us plus thousands of bags. We drove 12 hours to Mendoza, crossing the mountain range - an impressive beauty - and stayed in Santiago for three days because a new book of mine came out there and I went to collect it. We've left the holidays behind and now we are going along the Chilean roads toward the south, to Valdivia, to cross back to Argentina and stay in La Angostura. I have half of the Dinesen novel I wrote almost finished and ready to be delivered to the publisher. Where are you? Before leaving, I was with Lammens. We hugged each other and cried together, full of emotion over the return to Boedo.
P.S. Look at the photo my Spanish agent sent me:
That photo's great! Is that the name of the store or is there a town named Boedo? In Spain, there's a town named Almagro, where they do classical theatre every summer. Works of Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Tirso de Molina, etc. Some companies from other countries present their versions of these works to complement those of the Spanish companies. This past July, for example, Tim Robbins' company from the US (The Actor's Gang), two Argentinian groups, and others from Chile, Mexico, the Republic of Korea and Greece. It's a beautiful spot. There's also quite a large garden center in Madrid that's called Casla. We talked about that in another column. But Boedo? I'm going to look into that! I hope you continue your journey along the mountain range with no problems. You're already almost back in Argentina then. One of the Christmas presents I received last week was a little book called Sobre el deporte [About Sports] that brings together the writings of the iconoclastic film director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, about soccer, boxing, cycling and the Olympic games. There's a very short interview that he does with the players on his beloved team, Bologna F.C., about the sexual inhibitions, or lack of them, that those young soccer players might have, finding a way of relating his suggestive questions to their way of playing soccer or their feeling on the pitch. The interview is a small part of the documentary, Comizi d'amore, filmed in 1963.
The players don't seem very inhibited when it comes to talking about sex or practicing it. I guess the questions weren't that difficult and they allowed these soccer players to act like conquering ladykillers. The two exceptions were Negri and Bulgarelli. The former says that at the time of playing, the subject of love or sex isn't important, that he doesn't think about those things. Bulgarelli, who seems to be more or less an intellectual type, says that the catechism makes everyone feel a certain amount of repression. I don't know if the players knew Pasolini's films or anything about the sexual predilections of the legendary director. In other pieces from this book, he compares Italian literature with the sports journalism of that country in an interesting way. What's clear is that he was a passionate Bologna supporter and loved playing soccer. The cover of the book has a lovely photo of Pasolini in a friendly game. And he's wearing the BFC colours, which are the same as ours.
In an article that was published in 1972, he speaks of the general differences between European soccer and that of South America. There he says that what happened in Mexico (the 1970 World Cup) is that "the aestheticizing Italian prose lost to Brazilian poetry." That sounds simple, but he explains quite clearly, even with schematic illustrations, what those differences mean for him. What happened in the following World Cup, the one played in Germany in 1974, was that the Dutch combined the two things that Pasolini describes - the collective play starting from the back with the individual soccer of touch and attack. The total soccer of Clockwork Orange coached by Rinus Michels, of whom we have spoken so much in this column.
The Clockwork Orange classic "Eleven"
Now I've found out that there are two places in Spain that include the name Boedo - the town of Boedo de Castrejón and the district Boedo-Ojeda. Maybe the store in the old photo that you sent me is found in one of those places? Or is it from our Buenos Aires Boedo? I suppose that if your agent in Spain sent you the photo, it was because it came from over here.
Speaking of Spain, in this country there are olive trees that are a thousand years old and continue producing fruit. Since they don't seem to have any protection for their historic value, there are those who buy them, dig them up and transport them whole to foreign places. Many of these ancient trees die on the journey to Asia, Europe or the Americas and those that arrive have much less hope of living than they would have had, if they hadn't been pulled out of their native soil. Today I read this detailed and somewhat discouraging article in that regard:
A Spanish olive tree more than two thousand years …
Another interesting - and somewhat cheerful - thing that I read in the pages of Mundo Azulgrana
(Azulgrana World) about the scheduling of the next Argentine tournament:
I'm writing to you with Julián seated on my legs, touching everything. We're already in La Angostura after crossing Chile from north to south and stopping a few days in Valdivia. Now we're going to stay here for ten days, which is good because I haven't been in any place for more than three consecutive days and the whole time with the damned and beautiful family who give me beautiful moments and moments in which I want to kill them all. Did you see the scene from Reservoir Dogs
in which all of the gangsters point and shoot at the same time and all of them fall down dead?
Shootout in Reservoir Dogs
Well, that happens sometimes when we all quarrel among ourselves, including baby Julián. But I drove on rubble along the mountain range and I found a book I had been looking for for a long time by Gichin Funakoshi, the karate master who succeeded in unifying the karate chops, and I bought it and couldn't stop reading it with profound excitement. It was in a bookshop next door to the house that they lent us in Santiago de Chile. When I return, I can't wait to resume the karate I left a whole year ago. Traveling, I think, is a form of living impermanence: you are here, and at times you are there, and later somewhere else. As Funakoshi says, in this world nothing dies; everything returns to essential elements - unless man's vanity stops the process!
Hey, Cuervo, do you know the 1976 film Network? (in Argentina it´s called Poder que mata [Power that Kills] and in Spain Un mundo implacable [An Implacable World] - very bad versions of the title, in my opinion. It was written by the great screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet. The cast of actors, that includes Peter Finch, William Holden, Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway, is awesome. It's a film that, to this day, is still amazing, daring and eloquent in the way it points out the vacuity and cynicism of the media as much as the passivity and thoughtless conformism of the audience. I saw it again yesterday for the first time in twenty years, and thought, "Nothing has changed; the great majority of people still allow themselves to be indoctrinated, taking part in a sort of self-brainwashing, through TV and their gadgets." The streets of all the towns and cities of the world seem to be peopled by zombies who spend almost all the hours of their days looking at the little screens on their phones, increasingly removing themselves from the present, from the immediate environment they are passing through, deaf and blind to the unrepeatable details of their lives. Human beings are learning to inform themselves and communicate everything they see, think and feel at speeds that, until recently, were unthinkable, but it seems to me that increasingly we are less "here"; increasingly we participate less in our own lives. Network deals with that. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it.
Peter Finch in Network
There's a song called "All the Lonely People," from the band America, from the same time period as Network
, that brings to mind people that take risks, like the character of Peter Finch in the movie, to wonder, "Where am I really? What is happening here, right now? Who's in charge? Because I obey and what happens if I say, after understanding what my life and my body ask of me, that I'm not going to obey?" A song that, in spite of being a little insipid, speaks of the hope that gets us to start all over again, that makes us able to say "I'm here!" I'm sending you a video; I think it's from 1973:
America playing in England in 1973
No, I haven't seen the movie you told me about; I put it on my agenda to look for it and watch it. We just arrived yesterday from 25 days on the road through Chile and Argentina. It took us two long days in the car from the south, La Angostura, stopping in Santa Rosa de La Pampa and arriving in Buenos Aires at seven in the evening. It was an unforgettable trip that affirms the instability of families, like in that glorious film called Little Miss Sunshine.
Shot from Little Miss Sunshine, 2006
Family is that - something dysfunctional and essential. Now, Cuervo, I have a FedEx notice here that tells me that what you sent me is being held in the Ezeiza Customs office because it breaks some asinine textile law. I can't believe it. To retrieve it, I have to go to an office, whose location is unknown to me, where I perform some formality and then go to Ezeiza to pay $100 plus costs, if, that is, the package is still there. You and I have bad luck sending things. What does get to me great are your beautiful postcards. Here we're concerned because we lost the first Clásico of the year with Huracán, although my brother told me that in the first period we could have scored several goals. Did you see it? I was in a cabin in the woods without WiFi, television, nothing. Hugs, Cuervo.
Yes, I saw the second half. I don't know what we did in the first, but in the second, San Lorenzo played horribly. What a fuck-up that thing about the Ezeiza customs duty! Just leave it. They'll return it to me and I'll give it to you when I see you, as happened with the Christmas gifts last year. The "illegal" textile that I sent is a CASLA t-shirt from the 90's and a handmade bag with the San Lorenzo emblem. Is Ciclón illegal now in Argentina? It could be a Bostero or Quemero customs agent, right? Incredible.
Last night after bathing Julian, feeding him and getting him to sleep, I turned on the TV to see the summer match between CASLA and River. I liked how we played in the first period and in the second, they fell apart. I liked that Guede could test the boys, that he would make San Lorenzo play offense (he seems to be more on offense than Pizzi) but it's still, as they say, "student loves are like the flowers of a summer." [tr. note: It won't last.] We'll have to wait. When River scored the third goal against us, I turned off the TV and started reading Tarkovsky's diaries which are great. Have you read them? At night I dreamt about you. I think we were in Boedo talking about how we'd played a match and suddenly, with those folds that dreams have, I realized that it was the post-game after we'd won the second Libertadores. Great!!! You said, "Ortigoza crushed it!"
Lovely dream, brother. Let's hope it happens!
Tarkovsky wrote very well, as well as he directed his films. I'm familiar with his diaries and his books of photographs. I have a really good one with Polaroids linked to his shoots. The book of his that I like the most - and one of the best books I have about cinema - is called Sculpting in Time.
The other day I read in the local paper (I'm back in the Northeast U.S. to accompany my old man to several medical appointments and to take advantage of the time that remains for us to understand each other face to face) an incredible story about a guy in Norway who hears at dawn through his bedroom window that someone is stealing his car. He goes out in his underwear and throws himself on top of the car as it pulls out onto the snowy road. The thief continues driving like a madman and goes 90 km/hour for several kilometers along an icy road, until the owner breaks the back window with his knee and gets into the car throwing punches as if it were an action film. They finally crash into a barrier. The police arrive and arrest the thief. Blood and snow everywhere. The owner is a Viking superhero. Here's the news reported by the BBC:
Our companion of absurd journeys has won another prize. The jury of the sixth annual Cinema Tropical Awards, the only American awards celebrating Latin American cinema, nominated Jauja
as Best Latin American Film of the year. The ceremony was in New York. Congratulations, Lisandro!
Lisandro conquers in the USA
The complete list of winners:
Best Latin American Film of the Year – Jauja (Argentina)
Best Documentary Film - Invasión (Panamá)
Best First Film - Ixcanul Volcano (Guatemala)
Best U.S. Latino Film - Mala Mala
Best Director of a Feature Film - Pablo Larraín, for The Club (Chile)
Best Director of a Documentary Film - Betzabé García, for Kings of Nowhere (México)
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Last edited: 2 April 2016 09:09:58