danza de la mente

an exploration of Latin America through food, film, music and literature

Amores_Perros_posterAmores Perros (Love is a Bitch) is a Mexican film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu who also directed  21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful, Birdman…

Amores Perros was his first full-featured film. It is also the first film in González Iñárritu’s “Trilogy of Death”. (21 Grams and Babel are the other two films of the trilogy.) As in 21 Grams and Babel, there are several completely different stories that are all interconnected. In this case, they are connected by a car accident in Mexico City.

The film says at the beginning that no animals were harmed in the making of the film which is nice to know because the film begins with horrific dog fights and gruesomely mangled dogs. The film is meant to be an allegory for life in Mexico City. There is a lot of violence, domestic abuse, disloyalty within families, and extreme social inequity.

The first story, Octavio y Susana, is about a teenager (played by Gael García Bernal) living in the slums of Mexico City. His dog runs out of the house and is intentionally attacked by a prize-fighting dog. But rather than being destroyed as the owners of the prize-fighting dog expect, the stray dog destroys their dog. When the teen, Octavio, learns of his dog’s triumph, he and a friend begin fighting the dog. Octavio is in love with his brother’s girlfriend (Susana) and wants to run away with her so gives her the money he wins. Octavio and his dog are in the crash the story centers upon.

The second story, Daniel y Valeria, is about a model who is very seriously injured in the accident. She has been having an affair with Daniel who has promised to leave his wife. He buys Valeria a luxury apartment that is very nice but has a hole in the floorboard that needs to be fixed. Valeria’s dog falls into the hole while chasing a ball and goes missing for several days. They do sometimes think they hear her under the floor. Valeria is very distraught about her dog.

The third story, Chivo y Maru, is about a professional hitman (Chivo) who appeared as a dirty, homeless-looking guy  in the first story with a bunch of dogs. He drags Octavio’s dog from the car after the wreck and brings it back to his home which is really more like an abandoned warehouse. Chivo had once been a school teacher but became involved in a guerrilla movement he thought, at the time, was more important than his family. He abandoned his daughter, Maru, when she was very young. He now regrets the decision and wants to reconnect with her. One day, he leaves all the dogs alone and returns to find that Octavio’s dog has killed all of his other dogs. At first he wants to kill the dog, but then realizes the dog doesn’t know any better and that Chivo is really no different from the dog.

In them film, there is domestic violence, violence against animals and gun violence. There is also disloyalty including the disloyalty of brother against brother. And there is extreme inequality. This is the stuff of life in Mexico City. In some ways the poor are better off than the wealthy because they base their worth on their ability to survive rather than on their possessions, which ultimately makes them better survivors.

Amores Perros was Alejandro González Iñárritu first full-featured film. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000. It is also Gael García Bernal’s first full-feature film appearance. Bernal won the Ariel Award for Best Actor, the Silver Hugo Award for Best Actor, and the Premio ACE for Best Actor.

“Zapata se Queda” is my second stab at trying to learn a song in Spanish. This song was so much more difficult to figure out than “Será Que No Me Amas” because it has much more depth and symbolism. Ironically, I found it easier to learn the Spanish words for it than “Será Que No Me Amas”, perhaps because I like it better and was willing to listen to it more frequently.

I still have no idea how to put columns side by side so once again, it’s a mess! It looks OK on my browser so hopefully it is legible on yours.

“Zapata se Queda” is from Lila Down’s album, Pecados y milagros (Sins and miracles) which was released in 2011. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Latino Album Chart and #52 on the Billboard 200. It is a collaboration with Totó la Momposina from Colombia and Celso Piña, an accomplished accordion player from Mexico.

Downs wrote “Zapata se Queda” after having recurrent dreams that the ghost of Emiliano Zapata was present in her home. Zapata was a peasant who fought alongside Pancho Villa. He was a leading figure in the Mexican revolutionary, the main leader of the famous peasant revolution in Morelos, and the inspiration of the agrarian movement called Zapitismo. He remains a much beloved figure throughout Mexico.

Emiliano_Zapata-Libreria_del_Congreso

“I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” Emiliano Zapata

The whispering at the beginning is a reciting of the Lord’s prayer.

Zapata se Queda

Son las tres de la mañana,
Dicen que pena un santito
Bajito yo oigo que dice:
“Camínale despacito, ay mamá
Camínale despacito”.

Mi sueño me dice no vaya,
Mis piernas me dicen tantito,
Y cuando ya me doy cuenta, caramba,
Me muevo poco a poquito ay mamá,
Me muevo poco a poquito.

Serás tu Zapata,
El que escucho aquí,
Con tu luz perpetua,
Que en tus ojos vi.

En mi mente se oye,
Que me dice así,
Que en mi mente se oye,
Que me dice así,

Por la sombra de la ceiba,
Se escuchó un disparo,
Y cayó un gallo negro,
Por la calle de milagros.

Si tú dices que me quieres,
con el todo a todo,
y te vas tú conmigo,
levantamos polvo.

Ay, ay, ay, ay,,
cuando sueño contigo,
Se dibuja el sereno,
por todo mi camino.

Ay, ay, ay, ay,
cuando sueño contigo,
no hay ni miedo ni duda,
sobre mi destino.

Interim:

E pa, mi señor del Rayo,
Pa Zapata (Goza, Gozala),
de sur al norte,
y del norte al sur…

Celso Piña y Totó la Momposina

Repeat from the beginning….

Ending

Aso no bailas no gozas
Si no gozas no comes,
Si no gozas no comes,
Ay Ay Ay Ay

Zapata Stay

It’s 3 in the morning,
They a little saint is wandering
Softly I hear it say;
Walk slowly, oh mama
Walk slowly

My sleepiness tells me not to go,
My legs tell me just a little
And when I realize it, Oh well!
I move little by little oh mama
I move little by little.

Is it you, Zapata,
The one that I hear here
With your perpetual light
That in your eyes I saw

In my mind you hear,
The yes it says to me
In my mind you hear,
The yes it says to me

In the shadow of the ceiba tree
A shot was heard
And a black rooster fell,
On the street of miracles.

If you say you love me,
With the whole and everything
And you go with me
We will lift up dust. (Kick up dust)

Oh, oh, oh, oh,
When I dream with you
The serenity is drawn
For my entire way.

Oh, oh, oh, oh,
When I dream with you
There is neither fear nor doubt,
About my destiny.

Interim:

And pa, my lord of the thunderbolt?
Father Zapata (joy, enjoy it?)
From South to North
And North to South…

Celso Piña and Totó la Momposina .

Repeats from the beginning….

Ending

You do not dance, you do not enjoy,
If you do not enjoy, you do not eat
If you do not enjoy, you do not eat
Oh oh oh oh


Here is my feeble attempt, with my extremely limited Spanish, to make sense of it stanza by stanza:

Son las tres de la mañana,
Dicen que pena un santito
Bajito yo oigo que dice:
“Camínale despacito, ay mamá
Camínale despacito”.

3 o’clock in the morning is said to be the “witching” hour (or the devil’s hour) when the spirits are active on earth. In her sleep, she hears  the voice of a spirit that tells her to remain on her feet and walk, however slowly.

Mi sueño me dice no vaya,
Mis piernas me dicen tantito,
Y cuando ya me doy cuenta, caramba,
Me muevo poco a poquito ay mamá,
Me muevo poco a poquito.

Something is telling her to get up and go, but she’s in a dream state of immobility and her legs are not responding. But then she realizes it’s no use. She begins to move little by little.

Serás tu Zapata,
El que escucho aquí,
Con tu luz perpetua,
Que en tus ojos vi.

She realizes that it is Zapata’s voice she hears. The one with an eternal light in his eyes. (Or she chooses Zapata to be the one she hears.)

En mi mente se oye,
Que me dice así,
Que en mi mente se oye,
Que me dice así,

I wasn’t entirely sure how this should be translated. I think what Downs is saying is that in that moment, she and Zapata are one. In her mind, she hears the “yes” that he said. She’s in a dream state so things are just kind of happening. There is a “yes” coming from within her.  She’s not consciously saying “yes”, but the “yes” is somehow there.

Por la sombra de la ceiba,
Se escuchó un disparo,
Y cayó un gallo negro, rooster fell,
Por la calle de Milagros.

La ceiba is a type of tropical tree that had mythological importance in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The Mayan culture believed it was an axis mundi with its roots connecting the living world with the underworld.

Milagros: I’m not sure what is meant by this. (Spanish prepositions still totally confuse me!) “Por la calle” could be “on the street”; “through the street”; or “down the street”. Most of the lyrics show “Milagros” with a capital M but a few show it as lower case m. If it is lower case, then it would be “the street of miracles”. I went with “on the street of miracles” because of the use of a black rooster.

I’m not quite sure what the use of black rooster signifies, however. Roosters were sacrificed in Mayan cultures to ask the gods for major requests. They are thought by many cultures to be protective and to dispel the evil spirits of the night by their song at dawn. They were often displayed on buttons and chains worn by Mexican Charros and Mariachis. A black rooster, in specific, was a symbol of evil like the black cat in medieval times but I don’t think it has that significance in Mexico. Maybe it’s a symbol for virility?

Maybe the stanza has something to do with ambiguity? I feel like we deal with something similar here, in the U.S.. None of us like all the violence that goes with guns, but at the same time, we aren’t willing to give them up. Like us, the Mexicans are stuck somewhere between heaven and hell (under the shade of the ceiba tree). The destruction of the rooster is a destruction of the sacrifices of the ancestors. That it is the death of a black rooster on miracle street might signify the lack of hope and faith people have in the situation getting better.

Si tú dices que me quieres,
con el todo a todo,
y te vas tú conmigo,
levantamos polvo.

The idiom, “Kick up Dust”, refers to disturbing any area where the dust has settled.

If you say you love me, and are willing to sacrifice everything to go with me, then we will go together to disturb the current complacency that has been created by that lack of faith, hope and vision.

Ay, ay, ay, ay,
cuando sueño contigo,
De dibuja el sereno,
por todo mi camino.

In her dream state, when she is one with Zapata, she feels a great calm in knowing what she needs to do.

Ay, ay, ay, ay,
cuando sueño contigo,
no hay ni miedo ni duda,
sobre mi destino.

When she shares the dreams of Zapata, she has no fears or doubts about what she’s meant to do.


 

I have no idea if I have anything right about the interim stuff or the phrases at the end.

I still have so much to learn!

My feeling is that the message is spiritual: if you follow (allow for?) your destiny, life is enjoyable, no matter how difficult or controversial. Likewise, if you don’t enjoy life, you will never discover your destiny.

MV5BYjA1ZTRlNGYtYmI5MS00NjEzLTkyNGYtNjNkNDAzOTg4OGNjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTA0MjU0Ng@@._V1_La Sagrada Familia, (The Sacred Family) is a Chilean film directed by Sebastián Lelio. While this is probably my favorite of the 3 Chilean films I’ve seen so far, I didn’t particularly like it. Lelio also directed A Fantastic Woman which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film this year and he also received a lot of acclaim for Gloria. I haven’t seen either, yet, but both are on my list of films to watch.

Apparently, La Sagrada Familia was filmed in 3 days and didn’t have a script. It tackles several subjects that the heavily Catholic Chilean society still considered taboo in 2005: homosexuality, drugs, sexual experimentation…

The story centers around a wealthy family that lives on a cliff over the ocean. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous! The son has come home to visit his parents for Easter and his new girlfriend is planning to join them for the Easter Weekend.

The girlfriend is a “free spirit”, although not really. She uses drugs and enjoys experimenting sexually, however her “freedom” is really just a cover for her fear of being hurt.

My primary problem with the film was that I didn’t like any of the characters so really didn’t care about their issues. The situation with the father and the girlfriend just seemed way too out there. I get a girlfriend taking advantage of a worldly man, and a man who is disillusioned with his marriage having an affair with a younger woman. But I don’t get a father, no matter how self-centered, having an affair with his son’s girlfriend while the son is out for a walk and likely to return at any moment. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

The cinematography was beautiful and the acting was excellent, but it’s definitely not a film I’d want to see again.

Infancia_ClandestinaInfancia Clandestine (Clandestine Childhood) is another movie about the Dirty War in Argentina. I liked La Historia Oficial much better, but this provided another interesting perspective.

It’s about two parents who are guerrilla soldiers. They have been living in Cuba because it is too dangerous for them to be in Argentina. They change their identities and in 1979, they return to organize an offensive against the military dictatorship in Argentina.

The story is told from the perspective of their junior high aged son, Juan, who has also had to change his identity. Life gets confusing when Juan’s teacher and classmates sing happy birthday to him in class. It’s not his actual birthday but the date on his fake identity. He panics and invites everyone to a birthday party at his home where his parents are stockpiling weapons.

I saw the movie last week and I suppose it has stuck with me because it still bothers me that the parents insisted on dragging the son into their military efforts. I don’t understand why they didn’t leave him with the grandmother, who clearly loved him. The grandmother didn’t understand, either. It just seemed so selfish on the part of the parents. Of course, maybe we were meant to be upset by that? The film doesn’t outwardly criticize the parents, however.

The film is based on the true story of the director, Benjamín Ávila. Ávila’s mother was affiliated with the Montoneros, an Argentine leftist urban guerrilla group active during the 1960s and 1970s.  His mother disappeared during a military attack.

Chinese_Take-AwayUn Cuento Chino (Chinese Take-Away) was the highest grossing non-US film in Argentina in 2011. I can understand why. It’s a lot of fun although I’m not entirely sure it’s a comedy. It was written and directed by Sebastian Borensztein and stars Ricardo Darín. (Darín shows up in a lot of Argentine films!)

The movie begins with an Asian couple in a boat. The man on the boat is just about to ask the woman to marry him when a cow falls on their boat and kills the woman. The film then shifts to Darín, who plays Roberto, a middle-aged hardware store owner in Buenos Aires.

Roberto’s behavior reflects that of someone with high functioning autism. He is not particularly friendly, counts every nail his suppliers send him and gets angry if even one is missing. He has to do things according to a very set schedule. He has a few friends willing to put up with his grouchy orderliness, but no wife or family. His father is no longer alive and he keeps a collection of small glass objects as a shrine to his mother who died when he was a baby.  He does everything alone, and feels the world around him is crazy. To prove it, he clips articles about absurd stories and pastes them into notebooks.

Roberto’s typical, grouchy, scheduled existence continues until he notices a Chinese man being thrown out of a taxi. The man doesn’t speak English and is obviously upset so Roberto offers to drive him where he needs to go. The person the Chinese man is looking for, however, no longer lives in Buenos Aires. At first, Roberto just wants to leave him on his own, but changes his mind and allows him to stay in his home. Even though Jun (the Chinese man) is probably the most non-intrusive person in existence, Roberto’s scheduled existence is completely upset by his presence.

After about a week, Roberto tries to explain to Jun that he has to leave and uses a Chinese Take-out Delivery man to communicate with him.  Meanwhile, Mari, a woman who is oddly interested in Roberto romantically comes back into his life which complicates things further. Neither man is “likable” but Mari amazingly likes both of them. She explores Buenos Aires with Jun and has quite a good time with him.

As Roberto learns more about Jun through Mari and the Chinese Takeout delivery guy, we discover more about Roberto. Turns out his grouchiness has a very disturbing source. His story, and that of his father’s, is one of the absurd stories in his notebook.

His father had moved from Italy to Argentina to get away from war. However, in 1982, Argentina, who was still under the same dictatorship that initiated the Dirty War, invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands which was a British territory.  The British government retaliated and the conflict lasted 74 days. It  ended with Argentina’s surrender of the territory.

The government sent Roberto and many other teenagers to fight against the military. During the conflict, they didn’t have food so they were extremely malnourished and thin. The Argentinian government tried to fatten them up before sending them home so it wouldn’t look bad to citizens. The event permanently scarred Roberto.  The absurdity of the situation is what turned him into such a grumpy adult.

But the most absurd story that Roberto has clipped and put in his notebook, the story that he just can’t understand? It’s the story of a couple on a boat who had a cow fall on them just as the man was proposing…

Yeah. I know The “I don’t care” jacket. It’s like a teenager who goes out and gets gauges or wears something ultra-provocative to get a rise out of the last few remaining people who have a modicum of control over their lives. If you can get a rise out of those you perceive control you, you become more popular amongst those with a similar perception.

You know the game. Don’t play it. Pick your battles. (If you’ve raised a teenager, you know exactly what I’m talking about!)

No hay banda! It’s all an illusion. Don’t allow them to distract you with their antics. It’s all staged. Focus on policy, not the intentionally provocative stuff.

Tomorrow – back to Latin American Films.

President Trump reversed the policy he made about separating and detaining the children of immigrants. He will now detain families together. That’s more humane, but still extremely problematic.

Paraphrasing Seth Meyers, we frequently respond to what is going on in the U.S. these days by saying “this isn’t who we are”. But it IS who we are right now. Maybe it isn’t who you are or I am personally, but it is who we are as citizens of this country. We all need to get out and vote in November!

For now, I have a Spanish test tomorrow that I think I am thoroughly prepared for, but I am going to continue studying, anyway.

In the meanwhile, here is a scene from my all-time favorite American movie, ever. (I saw it for at least the 10th time at the Austin Film Society last weekend.)  The scene is “Club Silencio” from Mulholland Dr. by David Lynch. It is the turning point of the film.

No hay banda! It’s all recorded. (It’s an illusion. Wake up!!)