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The Lives of Others

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Came home from work today and watched a film of such power that I’m not even going to attempt a “review” of it, though I have to say something. Das Leben der Anderen, or The Lives of Others swept the German Lola awards; it got the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in the USA this year; and it is, for me, unforgettable. There are reviews everywhere already, like this brief but rather ecstatic one from a London critic, or this slick and shiny one from The New Yorker. But the film is a work of great intelligence, sensitivity, and power, much larger and quieter and more intelligent than its reviews. In the “Making of the Film” feature, there is a bit that made me gasp out loud. [read on]


Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Rode a bus three hours north, through vineyards and pine forests to Porto. (Yes, Pam, I have a camera. I´m not taking hundreds of pictures, but I am taking a few.) I spent the day staggering around in Porto, which is vertical, so I´m either going up or down with every step. People walk faster here than in Lisbon or anywhere else I´ve been in this country. I had a bowl of the famous “Caldo Verde,” a creamy soup made with some kind of greens that are piquant, not bitter like most of our greens. It´s like eating mouthfuls of springtime. A street musician was playing wonderful music on his accordion. Businessmen in Porto wear their suit jackets over their shoulders without putting their arms in the sleeves (how do they hold them on?) and carry thin briefcases under one of their arms. Their shoes are highly polished and slightly pointy. Women come in every imaginable variety: rich and fashionable, poor and begging, tattooed, pierced, in black mourning, in short shorts and bra-tops, in khaki shorts and polo shirts, all jumbled together. My tiny fourth-floor walkup room in a Pensao (toilet in the hall, shower down on the third floor) has a single bed, a window onto a maze of tiled roofs, and a slanted floor, so when I am in there (so far only for about half an hour), I don´t know if I´m dizzy or if it´s the floor, or both. I´m dazzled, dazed, a bit sore of foot, surrounded by gorgeous tile decoration in the most unlikely places, laundry billowing above cobbled streets, the bustle and hurry of a CITY, and best of all I met a woman whose work may change my life. Seth said I would be blown away by Porto, and I am. [read on]