Foreign Film: The Beauty of the Unfamiliar

One month into the new year and Twenty Twelve is turning into a foreign film year for me. I already have seen In the ‘Land of Blood and Honey‘, ‘My Tehran for Sale’ and will see ‘A Separation’ later tonight.

The elegance of foreign film is in its inherent ability to transport us to an unfamiliar territory. The medium gently challenges us to think and dream in a different capacity. In doing so, the spirit of foreign film charms and inspires me to associate beauty with travel. Travel is a very good education. And educated minds are beautiful minds.

Cinema Paradiso is one of my favorite foreign films of all time (here’s a little snapshot):

Alfredo getting the reel ready and a captivated little Salvatore from ‘Cinema Paradiso’.

Experiencing this film led me to the discovery of the musical genius of Ennio Morricone. To get an idea of how cinematic music can uplift your soul, listen to this. Here is the theme from Cinema Paradiso, one of his classic compositions:

A life without art would be hollow. The art of the foreign film not only nourishes the human spirit with visual creative expression but it also develops the mind. When was the last time you watched a film where the characters did not speak in your native tongue? How did the story influence your outlook on life?

The “Falling Man” Ad: In Bad Taste or Creative Genius?

This is the poster promoting the fifth season of the popular American cable television series “Mad Men“:

Some call it a “teaser trailer.” Do you feel teased? Do you?

I used to watch the series religiously when it first debuted. It’s quite an intelligent commentary on the the social mores of 1960s America. Don Draper is the series protagonist. I thought he was quite dapper and the man about town until he got into trouble. (Just watch the series) Don works at an ad agency on Madison Avenue. I no longer own a TV and other interests have consumed me so I don’t watch Don on Madison Ave anymore, but I saw a mention of this poster in one of my news feeds tonight so I thought I’d give it some attention.

Artistically, I like it because it is different from a lot of other graphically saturated posters. It has a strong minimalist design. But the poster has been in the news lately because of its perceived message. Some have it called “offensive”, suggesting a visual reminder of 9/11. More specifically, reminiscent of The Falling Man photograph. Do you think the creator of the ad intentionally wanted to suggest such an association? After all, the networks are promoting the premier of a television series. The job of any advertiser is to ignite curiosity and interest. As in “I want to know more.” Do you think the maker(s) of this ad consciously created imagery suggestive of The Falling Man? If you knew they did, would you still be encouraged to tune in?

2012: The Art of Serendipity

There are no coincidences or accidents. Just serendipity. Serendipity is hard to define but I think you’ll know it when it happens. It’s when something pleasant or even magical happens to you when you least expect it. From the day I found a home in San Francisco to the very end of Twenty Eleven, I have been blessed by serendipitous events. I was led to my current residence by the kindness of a stranger in Huntington Park who has also become my neighbor, and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with absolutely no plans except a somewhat random decision to head to the Fillmore District near the Western Addition neighborhood. And after finding a parking spot in less than a couple of minutes (serendipitous parking karma on NYE!) and venturing not more than half of a block, we spotted a place that looked stylish and appropriate for the evening:

1300 on Fillmore

      ‘Happy New Year !’

The restaurant/lounge presented a good vibe and friendly staff. The atmosphere felt more like rat pack supper club or swanky jazz club, rather than the sleek San Francisco affair that one would envision with the trendy SOMA set.  After pleasant conversation with new friends and some dancing we rang in the new year with the proverbial champagne and sparkly disposable accessories. It was a good night. I would like to return to try out their dinner menu, or for drinks after a performance at Yoshi’s.

It was a beautiful celebration. Very serendipitous. How many times have you experienced that space in time when things just work for the best without trying? I look forward to many more moments of serendipity in 2012. Planning can be good but perhaps life can become more interesting when you stop figuring out the details. Try living differently in 2012. Stop being such a control freak.

San Francisco 2012 New Year Style

San Francisco 2012 New Year Style