diumenge, 29 de setembre de 2013

[Peripècies austríaques] 15. Aniversari i eleccions

Ja fa dos anys que sóc a Salzburg. Què ràpid que passa el temps i quantes peripècies austríaques que he viscut durant aquest temps (encara que no ho hagi publicat al blog)!

Avui també he afegit "anar a votar" a la llista de coses austríaques que ja he fet. Alerta, que anar a votar no és una cosa exclusivament austríaca ni tampoc no vull dir que la meva veu democràtica s'hagi manifestat per fi al país alpí (més que res perquè no tinc dret a participar activament de les eleccions austríaques com a estrangera, és clar, i sóc d'aquella mena de persones que encara creu que votar canviarà alguna cosa). 

A les darreres eleccions generals espanyoles i autonòmiques catalanes hi vaig votar per correu. És un procés digne d'un thriller hitchcockià, els tràmits burrocràtics semblen ideats pel mateix Haneke, la ineficiència de la diplomàcia espanyola a l'estranger perfectament podrien haver estat manllevats d'un quadre de Dalí. No, no exagero. Ja vau veure en una entrada anterior on cau el consolat honorari espanyol de Salzburg, ja us en podeu fer una idea. En tots dos casos, després de plorar molt a la gentussa de l'ambaixada de Viena i de patir molt perquè, casualitats de la vida, les paperetes no arribaven mai (de fet, per les generals em van arribar el dia que s'acabava el termini... quines coses), vaig pagar religiosament els 3,55€ que costa enviar una carta certificada. Uns diners, per cert, que se suposa que et tornen i que encara espero, tot i que no tan glamourosament com la Sara Montiel (i els meu sistema immunològic se n'alegra, les coses com són).

També he viscut dues eleccions austríaques: les "autonòmiques" salzburgueses i les "generals" al parlament austríac. A veure si tenia raó en Clow Reed quan deia que la casualitat no existeix. Les "autonòmiques" (que, sincerament, no vaig seguir gaire perquè va coincidir amb el final de curs de l'escola i jo estava per altres coses), van ser molt semblants a l'hòstia que es va fotre el PSC a les autonòmiques catalanes del 2010 i els va prendre el relleu CiU. A Salzburg, els socialistes (SPÖ) van perdre una part important dels vots a causa d'un cas de corrupció molt bèstia en què van desaparèixer 340 milions d'euros de diners públics i, per això, els salzburguesos van votar els negres (ÖVP). Res, calderilla. Riu-te'n tu del Millet i del Bárcenas... 

Avui s'han celebrat les "generals" i també s'ha donat un cas similar: els socialistes i els negres han perdut una part significativa de l'electorat, que s'ha decantat pels blaus, el FPÖ, que ve a ser una cosa així com el PP combinat amb Plataforma per Catalunya (hi ha qui els titlla directament de nazis, i que ho digui un poble que vigila molt amb l'ús indiscriminat d'aquesta paraula és, si més no, significatiu).

Així i tot, sembla que SPÖ i ÖVP repetiran la coalició amb la qual han governat durant aquests darrers cinc anys, la qual cosa aparentment no té gaire contents els austríacs i hi ha por que la manca de canvi generarà protestes i un vot de càstig a les properes "generals", que es transformaria en un ascens del FPÖ, de la mateixa manera que han adquirit bastanta força partits de tendències neoliberals que prometen la creació de llocs de treball i la industrialització d'Àustria (pel poc que he entès a través dels diaris). És que no han après res del sud d'Europa?

Per Facebook veig joves (ex-alumnes meus de Hallein, bàsicament) que proclamen la necessitat de fotre el camp. No sé cap a on, però en l'auge del FPÖ hi veuen un futur més aviat negre. Està clar que the grass is always greener on the other side, perquè, personalment, em sembla que, com a mínim, aquí la política es té per una cosa seriosa, no com a casa nostra. I, parlant de gespa, em temo que també he de discrepar: segur que és més verda a Àustria que a Espanya. Si més no, els verds austríacs també han aconseguit un parell d'escons més.


dijous, 19 de setembre de 2013

Express reviews (3)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


Benjamin Button is born with a rare condition: he ages in reverse, so he is born as an old man and will die as a little baby. This is the story of his life and his love for Daisy.

This was one of those thousands of pendant films on my list and I got the DVD as a Christmas present last year but I didn't watch it until this summer. I liked it but it was sooo long! Half an hour less of footage would have worked just as well. Brad Pitt looks a bit creepy as the older Benjamin, but the story was likable. I'd like to read the short story written by Fitzgerald that the movie took inspiration from.


Crazy, Stupid Love


Cal and Emily Weaver are going to get a divorce because she cheated on him with a work collegue. Knowing that he has hit the bottom, he tries to get dates with other women and for such purpose he gets the help of Jacob, a professional womanizer. 

Will you look at that, a romantic comedy that is both romantic and a comedy! Despite the Holywood happy ending with morality on the side, I enjoyed this and I didn't feel that my intelligence was being insulted. It's not the best movie ever, but it's worth a watch if you're looking for a rom-com that even your boyfriend will watch. Oh, and Ryan Gosling is topless in it, too *wink-wink*.


Despicable me 2

 
Bottom... haha, hoho!

After adopting Margo, Edith, and Agnes, Gru is officialy retired from the villain business, but he gets a job offer from the AVL (Anti Villain League) to help them catch a really powerful bad guy. 

They say second parts are always worse than the original, although I don't think this applies to this film, except maybe if you think there are too many slapstick scenes with the minions, and that the whole love story is a bit forced. Other than that, both children and adults will enjoy this movie.


The Notebook
 


In the summer of 1940, Allie and Noah fell in love, but she was a lady and he was just a poor boy. Still, and in spite of all the obstacles that overcame, that didn't stop them from loving each other for the rest of their lives.

No. Just no. This is not the most romantic film ever. This is a trainwreck of a romance. I don't like how Noah forces himself into Allie's life, I didn't like Allie's personality, I didn't buy the Romeo and Juliet relationship nor Allie's mother's reactions, I felt sorry for James Marsden's character. And I especially dislike how this is sold to viewers as the most romantic thing ever. It is still a better love story than Twilight, sure, but not much better. 

I did like one thing, though, and I though that was the only kind of romantic part in the whole movie: the older couple and how the husband never loses faith that his wife will remember who he is. But this first encounter with him is enough Nicholas Sparks for me for the rest of my life. Not even watching this when I was on a very bad period saves this thing (I have a sneaking suspicion that watching such movies under such conditions only make me more skeptical).

dimarts, 17 de setembre de 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - #4 Favorite Covers


This might be one of the most difficult TTT entries ever because there are so many beautiful covers out there... Please note that the fact that I like the cover does not automatically mean that I like(d) the book.


#1 The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss

I love covers that use black and another main color for contrast (which makes me a very easy prey for the editorial market). If this cover doesn't make you want to buy and devour this book, probably nothing else will. And believe me, this is one of those cases when you can judge a book by its cover.





 

 #2 The Hunger Games trilogy - Suzanne Collins


More specifically, I like the second edition. The black background with a detail in one main color. These covers and the movie trailer for the first movie were the reasons that I decided to buy the books in the end, although a friend of mine had recommended them a couple of times before. If you made me pick only one cover, I'd go with Mockingjay.



#3 The Inspector Mascarell series - Jordi Sierra i Fabra


I like covers that use old pictures in black-and-white or sepia if they are tastefully used. Although they have little relation to the actual plot of the novels, I think they are nice. My favorite is the one for Cinc dies d'octubre (the third book), although the one for Dos dies de maig feels more appropriate for a detective novel.


#4 Matched - Ally Condie


This is a similar case to the The Hunger Games, only that in this case the background is white. The little green ball with the girl inside in the circle and the texture of the cover were the main reason why I bought the book. It catches your eye and I like the fact that's it's minimalistic and still attractive.







#5 Atonement - Ian McEwan

I'm kind of cheating here (as usual) because this is part of a collection that Vintage Books edited on their 21st anniversary. I'm putting Atonement in the list because it's the one I have, but actually it's the whole collection that I like (special mention to Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle). The picture is not especially good, but I like the monochromatic scheme of the covers.





 #6 Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman - Haruki Murakami

I have the Catalan version, but I prefer the English one by Vintage Books because it's minimalistic and it has a clear Oriental design that I find appropriate to the book.










#7  Die Frau des Zeitreisenden - Audrey Niffenegger

This time, the German edition by Fischer Taschenbücher. It is a pocket edition that actually fits in your pocket and has a very thin paper, so it's perfect to carry around. If you don't like it, you can rip off the round red sticker with the title and name of the author so that the cover looks more like a personal diary. The pattern reminds me slightly of kimono fabric.






#8 Run - Ann Patchett

There is another edition of this book with another cover. I think the one that I have is the British one, which is the one that I'm posting here, although I'm not quite sure. I prefer this one because it looks calmer and bares more relation to the plot than the other one.







#9 Eighty Days Yellow - Vina Jackson

I know, I know, I said that I wasn't a big fan of this novel nor this genre (although I honestly thought it would be worse). While the cover goes along the lines of every other cover of every other recent erotic novel, at least this one is done tastefully (in my opinion, of course) and kind of says without words what you will find inside.







#10 A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini

If you haven't noticed the pattern by now, I like minimalist covers with a main dominant color. The cover is only one of the many things that I liked about this book. If you still haven't, go read it now.










Honorable Mentions
Here is a selection of covers that I thought of and almost made it into the list for many different reasons, although you can see the pattern (minimalistic covers, one dominant color) still kind of applies. The are many more covers that I'm sure I didn't think of. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section!







diumenge, 15 de setembre de 2013

Express reviews (2)

More movies! This time, it's films I watched either on DVD or on TV.

The Lovely Bones
 

Susie Salmon is murdered by her neighbour. He hides her body, so it is unclear whether she ran away from home or something worse happened to her. Her soul stays in a sort of onirical limbo because her family, especially her father, have not accepted the fact that she could be dead, and from there she narrates how their lives have changed after her disappearance.

Although Peter Jackson's rendering of limbo is very colorful and magical and contrasts with a real world that looks a bit more gray, if you're not paying attention to the details or you don't know what the story is about beforehand, the whole show-don't-tell can be a bit confusing. Actually, I have the feeling that the whole limbo part is explained better in the book this movie is based on (I guess I'll have to read it if I want to compare). However, the movie works as a dramatic thriller.


The Dictator

 
General Aladeen, dictator of Wadiya, travels to New York to speak in the UN headquarters as his country's development of nuclear weapons would eventually lead to war. He gets kidnapped and is forced to live as a regular citizen while trying to avoid that his brother takes control over his country and allowing democracy.

As insulting as this movie is to all sorts of communities all over the world, at least all the people that act in the film are actors and no-one is actually trolled like in Sacha Baron Cohen's previous mockumentaries (and it's very obvious this time that everything is scripted). It could have been a lot worse.


Did you hear about the Morgans?


Meryl and Paul Morgan are about to get a divorce when they witness a murder and they are put in the witness protection program, which sends them from New York to a small town in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming. 

I knew this movie was going to be bad when I saw the trailer in the theater back in 2009 (I mean, look at the cast and look at that poster), but they aired it on TV this past summer and I had nothing better to do than torture myself with this thing. How did this get green-lighted? Who thought the script was funny? Whatever did Brits do to the writers to have Hugh Grant speak such bad puns and hitlines? Can Sarah Jessica Parker stop being Carrie Bradshaw in post-Sex and the City movies? There you have it, a waste of two hours of my life.


Ted


Ted is a teddy bear that comes to life when John, his owner, makes a wish that they will be friends forever. Ted and John grow up together, the teddy bear becoming a sort of celebrity on his own, and he becomes unable to accept that John might want to add his fiancee to the equation, which means that Ted needs to learn to live appart from John.

I watched this film with Andi and we expected something funny, along the lines of a longer episode of Family Guy or something like that. We couldn't finish it because less than an hour into the movie we were bored and disappointed. I guess that says it all.

dimarts, 10 de setembre de 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - #3 Most Intimidating Books

Here is my third entry of the Top Ten Tuesday. Last week I was unable to upload it because of work. As usual, the books appear in no particular order.


#1 Don Quijote de la Mancha - Miguel de Cervantes. I had to read this for school, I read some pages, and I gave up. Still, I think it's one of those books you have to read at least once in your life. And it's not like I can blame it on the number of pages.

#2 The Decameron - Bocaccio. Another big literature classic that is giving me suggestive looks right now from the shelves, but that I'm a bit afraid of diving into.

#3 Inferno - Dante. Again, one of those books you have to read and that is referenced again and again, but is quite intimidating.

#4 One Thousand and One Nights. I actually started to read this a loooong time ago but never got to the end. I especifically lust for the 3-volume Catalan translation by Dolors Cinca.

#5 Anna Karenina - Lev Tolstoi. Do you notice the pattern already? Only because I really, really wanted to read the book before seeing the movie, I managed to get through the more than 800 pages that take us to Russia in a time when things were different.

#6 The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follet. Everybody talked about this book during my last year at high school and because of that I automatically decided I didn't want to read it because best-seller normally equals overrated (which is the case with this book) and I didn't want to be disappointed (which I could say I was). Then I got it as a present, my dad read the 1000+ pages-long novel in a couple of days (a literal couple of days) so it kind of made me want to see if it was really worth the hype.

#7 Eighty Days Yellow - Vina Jackson. Now, intimidating might not be the right word there, but you should understand it as my fear of disappointment. This is what happened with this book: I was afraid that I was downloading the bazillionth, badly-written rip-off of Fifty Shades of Grey (not that FSOG is the perfect candidate for a Literature Nobel Prize, mind you). And I was positively surprised.

#8 Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami. Your first time with Murakami is a very special thing, because it's a kind of literature that Western readers might not be used to. At least, I wasn't. I went for the "easy" choice but I did during the whole Murakami craze. Fear of disappointment strikes back. I'm sure there's a cure for that.

#9 Notre Dame de Paris - Victor Hugo. This one only intimidates me because, out of pure greed, I bought the French pocket edition for 4,60€ (when are Spanish publishers going to learn?). I've read Victor Hugo before, but not in the original version, and my French is very rusty. But 4,60€ for such a thick book was an offer I couldn't resist.

#10 The Godfather - Mario Puzzo. Speaking of offers that I can't refuse, here is one book that I was not so keen on reading because of its movie adaptation. This is one of those very rare cases in which the movie is as good as the book.

divendres, 6 de setembre de 2013

I went to the movies (Express reviews)

As usual, going to the movies requires not only free time, but also money. Therefore, I don't go to the cinema as often as I'd like to, especially because I don't want to be disappointed by the films and regret having paid so much money. Anyway, this is what I've seen so far:


The Hobbit. An Unexpected Journey


Bilbo Baggings goes on a journey with thirteen dwarves and Gandalf himself to help them recover their rightful kingdom from a dragon. During this journey, he will also become the owner of the one ring to rule them all, unaware of what he holds in his hands.

This was the first movie I saw in the theater this year. I must say that I have not read the book (basically because I was scared of Tolkien's writing because of the whole LOTR trilogy), so I have no idea if dividing the book into three parts was that necessary (everybody that I asked said it wasn't) or if it's a good adaptation (apparently, they added up film time with other aspects of Tolkien's books and "mythology"). Be as it may, I liked the movie, both visually and on the narrative level, although I think it's 30 minutes too long.


No


Chile, 1988. A plebiscite is going to take place in order for Chileans to decide if they want Pinochet to stay in power (the "yes" option) or if they want democracy instead (the "no" option). The political parties for "no" hire a publicity team, lead by René Saavedra, in order to reach as most people as possible and convince them to vote for "no".

Normally, if I'm going to watch movies based on historical facts, I need to do some more research before, so that I can actually enjoy the movie. However, in this occasion I did the research afterwards because I felt the need to learn more and do some compare-and-contrasting with what actually happened, although it was pretty well explained in the film and it introduced me to a part of recent history that I wasn't that familiar with. No was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2013 Oscars and I can see why. It's the kind of movie that I would show in an advanced Spanish class focused on culture and politics.


Monsters University


Before working at Monsters Inc., Mike and Sully went to university. They weren't even friends, but chance brought them together and taught them that they needed to learn about teamwork.

It's not that I didn't like Monsters Inc. when it first came out, but it didn't leave much of an impression. So, by comparison, I liked the prequel better in spite of the message it's trying to get across. Then again, this is a movie for kids, so it's a good lesson for them to learn. Also, the side characters were funny. You'll have fun watching it, especially if you are going/have been to university.


The Great Gatsby (2013)


Nick Carraway tells us about his friendship with Jay Gatsby, a bootlegger who made a fortune during Prohibition Era to impress the love of his life, Daisy.

I considered giving this one a full review because it's so wrong in many ways but still enjoyable. Similarly to Moulin Rouge, by the same director, the visuals are great, but it feels as though you had stepped into a 2 hour-long music video. I'm fine with the fact that they're dancing to Jay-Z's hip-hop instead of jazz from the 1920's, although I would have prefered the latter. Most of the actors were fine in their roles, except Tobey Maguire: I didn't buy his rendition of Nick Carraway. I left the cinema with mixed feelings: while I liked the movie in the visual department, narration-wise I thought it was poor and could have been handled otherwise.


Now You See Me 


Four magicians are summoned by a the secret society The Eye. One year later, they have become great stars and in one of their shows, they robb a bank live as part of a trick. An FBI investigation begins as the money actually disappered and, although the magicians somehow give the money to the audience instead of keeping it to themselves, they intend on doing two more acts.   

Give me more bluckbusters like this one, please! Although you know how things are going to turn out for them since minute 1, I have to admit that I was surprised because I kept expeting for one specific twist to happen and the actual twist caught me off guard (I must say, mine was a lot more original). Visually, it's very astonishing, but it has several plotholes that kept nagging at the back of my head for a couple of days after seeing the movie. If you watch it, leave expectations at home.


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