Tag: Rome

Patricia: La Dolce Vita

Patricia is one of those songs that bears repeating. Recorded in 1958 by Perez Prado; it seems to embody “the sweet life“. I guess that’s why Fellini used it in his seminal film La Dolce Vita. (review coming soon). In the meantime, here it is in its entirety. Repeat often.


Ceiling Unlimited

La Sagrada Família

The unfinished majesty of Gaudi’s Cathedral in the heart of Barcelona is a hot bed of controversy. The construction continues long after the original plans were burned in 1938, during pro-Franco protests. Purists are horrified by the guess work while enthusiasts are thrilled with the progress. The exterior suffers from a form of multiple personality disorder while the interior feels unworldly. Light fills the space and the ceiling resembles a mad burst of crystal like  stars unfolding  ad infinitum onto themselves. Your neck will crane and your eyes will pop.

Libyan Sybil    The Sistine Chapel

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is unparalleled in the history of art. The frescoes executed by a man who was mostly known for his sculpture, enrapture all that step foot into their presence. Michelangelo’s genius can not be understated. He designed his own scaffold, painted above his head the whole time, compensated for the the distorted perspective of painting on a vaulted surface as seen from 80 feet away and in the process changed the history of painting. For all his genius; the female figure kind of eluded him.

Great Mosque of Cordoba

A building so beautiful; it is impossible to capture in a photograph. Within its endless red and white striped pillars lies a church: a cathedral wrapped within a Mosque. A definite must see.


The dome of this ancient Roman temple opens itself up to the sky. A single massive spotlight pours into the Pantheon, along with the rain when the weather turns. Raphael: the boy wonder of the Renaissance’s final resting place.

The Scrovegni Chapel

The ceiling of the Scrovegni Chapel could be considered Giotto‘s version of The Starry Night only painted nearly 600 years previously. The visits are timed so there isn’t a chance to linger but the impression it makes will last a lifetime.

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Review

Once there was a Hushpuppy and she lived with her daddy in the Bathtub.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is  part Magic realism,  part Neorealism, part folktale and totally astonishing. It tells the story of  a small southern Delta community  called the Bathtub as seen through the eyes of 6 year old Hushpuppy played by Quvenzhané Wallis. A violent storm has unleashed a primal force that threatens to uproot and lay waste to everything in its path, with its sights firmly planted on the Bathtub and its inhabitants. Hushpuppy’s father Wink played by Dwight Henry senses the  impending doom and tries desperately to prepare and teach his daughter about the splendor and cruelty of life.

First time director Ben Zeitlin shot the film over the course of 8 months on location in post-Katrina Louisiana using non actors.  He collaborated closely with the community to help shape the story and the characters. With the obvious  Katrina reference possibly overshadowing the plot, Zeitlin articulated to CBC radio that he ultimately wanted to tell an emotional story rather than a potentially political one.  Zeitlin (who is a native New Yorker) has been criticized for  a cultural appropriation approach to film making. I feel that when critics are on witch hunts they tend to scare up witches but while watching the  film I did not get the impression that the story was either disingenuous or exploitative. Beasts of the Southern Wild is about: the importance of home, what constitutes a life well lived and the resiliency of people rather than some set of finite circumstances.

As I was watching Beasts of the Southern Wild  I also couldn’t help but draw parallels to another film where a father navigates through a cruel world  to provide for his family. I kept thinking of the Italian Neorealist classic Bicycle Thieves ( or The Bicycle Thief as it is known in North America) by Vittorio De Sica. Neorealism was a film movement that originated in Italy in the late 1940’s that dealt with everyday stories – sometimes ripped directly from the headlines of the newspapers of the time. The low budget  films were usually shot on location using non actors. The film  Bicycle Thieves tells the story of a man’s struggles in post WWII Rome. A father gets a job plastering posters all over Rome. In order to fulfill his obligations, the job requires that he has a bicycle. With very little money to their name, the family is forced to sell the sheets from their beds to pay for the bicycle.  On his very first day, while his back is turned for a brief moment the bike is stolen. He turns just in time to watch a man ride off with his future. Devastated by this loss the father accompanied by his young son desperately searches to find the thief. The depiction of a father trying not to unravel in front of his child under dire  circumstances is not dissimilar to the story of Hushpuppy.

Quvenzhané Wallis’ portrayal of Hushpuppy is a wonder to behold. She conveys a child’s perspective of a broken world full of monsters ( giant tusked boars called Aurochs ) with subtly and fire.  If you have an opportunity to walk a mile in her rubber boots, you won’t regret it.


To Rome with Love

Ahh Roma.

Woody Allen has  spent  the past few years exploring the great cities of Europe: London, Barcelona, Paris  and now Rome. Each film functions as a visual love letter to the city it takes place in. It is intriguing to see these cultural centres reflected through Woody’s eyes.

Of all the cities in Europe, Rome would have to be my favourite. So much so, it is where I got married. Actually the wife and I eloped there. We flew to Italy, rented an apartment in the maze-like streets of Trastevere and got hitched. It was amazing, our wedding photos were in front of the Trevi Fountain and the Four Rivers Fountain in Piazza Novona . The day after our wedding, we were in the Sistine Chapel craning our necks towards the ceiling. Rome is simply magnificent; the history, the art and the food are all unbelievable. Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression that you can go straight from the airport to the chapel. The place that gave us indoor plumbing is also the home of bureaucratic red tape. If this kind of wedding adventure appeals to you, then a few months of getting the right paperwork in order is required. All in all I highly recommend the experience.

To Rome with Love is comprised of four separate stories that all take place in the sun bleached streets of the eternal city. The stories involve themes of fame, love and infidelity, a lot of infidelity.  The impressive cast  includes Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg and Roberto Benigni. The film also sees Woody Allen’s return to acting. Nobody plays Woody Allen like Woody Allen and it is his story I ultimately liked the best.

Woody had a surprise hit on his hands last year with Midnight in Paris. People who expect the same magic again may be a little disappointed.  Midnight in Paris utilizes it’s surroundings more effectively than To Rome with Love. Paris ultimately becomes an integral character in its own film, where Rome doesn’t make the leap beyond being just background, but oh what a background.

To Rome with Love isn’t Allen’s greatest achievement but there are definitively some laughs to be wrung from a man who once brought a moose to a costume party. (click the link you won’t be sorry)