Movie Review: Viva Riva! [Pas de “Spoilers”]

Capture d’ecran de film poster. (IMPAwards)

“Où est Riva?” (Where is Riva?)

a.k.a.

An Oil Thief Flames Out in Kinshasa

With comparisons to 2007’s Cidade de Deus and reviews describing the film as a “Congolese noir”, Riva succeeds in making the latter description fitting, while the former hope remains to be seen.

Djo Munga’s film opens at a fast-paced in media res, which is also a favorite first act of American film noir pictures and their overseas cousins (ex. the Jean Gabin-starring Le jour se leve memorably opens with the trapped criminal shoutin’ and rantin’ from his barricaded room). And within the picture’s first 20 minutes, all of the typical film noir signature archetypes stroll onto the screen as this chase story unfolds.

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Movie Review: Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito) [“Spoiler Free” As Usual]

Sleeping With the Enemy

a.k.a

How the Hunter Gets Captured by the Prey

(A Tribute to the Les Marvelettes)

In short, Skin, an adaptation of a French novel, is strictly for the fans, the Almodóvarists, as the five walkouts and three comebacks that I counted at an E Street Cinema showing attested. (I consider myself an Almodóvarist, by the way.)

More than anything else, the picture marks the twenty-two year reunion of the outrageous director with Antonio Banderas, his “acteur fétiche” (roughly translated as “idol actor”). The cinematic synergy that the late French director Claude Chabrol shared with Isabelle Huppert is the same magic that happens when Banderas and Almodóvar work together. (Both Banderas and Huppert made six films with their country’s acclaimed auteurs).

VEINS-GLORIOUS: Banderas hovers over “Vera” (Elena Anaya); capture d’écran de film poster. (IMDB)

Like Banderas’ previous collaborations, he plays his calling card – the “lovestruck madman” – to the tilt. In this case, lines such as “I didn’t know your skin was so soft” sound less like a come-on than a creepy, cannibalistic observation.

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L’Affaire DSK a.k.a. An Obligatory Francophone Post

The “Washington Exile” Returning to France to Become President?

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Stefano Phoenix Stefano DiMera The Days of Our Lives TDOL

ANOTHER PHOENIX?: DSK might have more in common with Stefano DiMera than his looks.

Le Parisien article reports that 49 percent of a thousand French voters polled by Harris Interactive want Dominique Strauss-Kahn to return to French politics; forty-five percent do not.

When pollsters focused on specifically on the French left, les Socialistes and les MoDems, they overwhelming – 62. 5 percent to be exact – wanted existing candidates on the left (upcoming post) to postpone their primary until DSK is ready to finally toss his hat into la course presidentielle.

Less than thirty-six percent of leftist voters said “no” to the left candidates waiting for la retour de la Phénix.

Another poll by Le Nouvel Observateur is not as favorable. Sixty-three percent of 860 French voters told pollsters that they don’t think that he will be the Socialist Party’s candidate. The women polled were “les plus hostiles“, the most opposed, to his possible candidacy.

Free Man in ParisDetrompez-vous! (Think Again!)

The coverage of l’affaire DSK has been nothing short of a courtroom melodrama on the scale of Witness for the Prosecution, and not the average soap opera as one French journalist suggested.

Journalist Tristan Banan, one of the two women before Nafissatou Diallo has decided to file a lawsuit against DSK to prove that she’s not a “menteuse“, a liar. The second woman, Piroska Nagy was a IMF co-worker who felt forced into their affair while the two were both married.

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In Case You Missed It: Alicia Keys Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Debut, Streams Live Concert Online

Alicia Keys giving an air hug to audience in Beacon Theatre and around the world.

Last week, A. Keyz shared the tenth anniversary release of Song in A Minor. To commemorate the occasion, Keys allowed AOL to stream a concert from New York’s Beacon Theatre. You can STILL watch the show online courtesy of the Huffington Post (AOL’s most recent purchase). Needless to say, A. Keyz proved why music lovers have been “Fallin” in love with her since 2001.

Alicia Keys Song in A Minor Beacon Theatre

Tickling the ivories, with the “15-hour candle” burning in the background.

Alicia Keys Beacon Theatre Songs in A Minor A. Keyz

FEELIN’ IT!: Like an old Jay-Z joint (Click the image above to see what I mean).

Alicia Keys Beacon Theatre Hocus Pocus A. Keyz Songs in A Minor

PUT A SMILE ON OUR FACE : “Just give me that smile…I can’t live without it.” 

Summer Reading: Four Headlines Stories That Caught My Eye

1. CRIME DOWN, MEDIA CRIME COVERAGE STILL HIGH?:

A recent Brookings Institute report reconfirms a little-known fact: Crime is going down in the U.S. in both the ‘burbs and major cities and has been decreasing for a while.

Since 1993, violent crimes have been in a much-welcomed free-fall. As crime researchers write in the Atlantic, the reason(s) explaining this drop are currently mere speculation.

Yet, the sensational coverage on Headline “News” and local six o’clock broadcasts remains the same, making communities (more) leery of their own neighbors. And preventing people from realizing the downward trend that has existed for more than a decade.

To TV stations, crime stories are the drama they need pull in viewers and ratings, and, not least of all, advertisers.  Crime stories are what they actively seek to catch on film as it unfolds. A case-in-point: the Casey Anthony trial coverage.

 From Nancy Grace (Why does she still have TV showExhibit A) to strangers in the street, the “guilt” of an un-convicted “Tot Mom” accused of killing her child is already decided in many minds. The whole media circus proves to me that tragic Peyton Place scandals should stay local and not  be broadcasted to a national audience.  When national broadcasters “pick up” their local affiliate stories, they cheapen sensitive, emotional stories and frame them as soap operas with daily updates, which viewers can tune into to catch the latest “episode.”

And I can’t flip channels fast enough to avoid catching a glimpse of polls asking viewers to decide a defendant’s guilt. I thought that’s what a judge and jury was for…

 There is never enough coverage of convicted white-collar criminals like Raj Rajaratnam. The media never misses a perp walk though. But cases with national impact deserve more than one-day coverage.

Rajaratnam was convicted in one of the largest insider-trader cases in U.S. history. His conviction in May, lacked the drama of Anthony’s, but the impact affects me more.

When the “financial wizards of the Darks Arts” act up, you’re guaranteed there’s a ripple effect that WILL affect everyone. Stock markets and their investors are an emotionally unstable, high-maintenance pair: They will react to every outcome; from a slap on the wrist to being sentenced in  a jail cell beside Bernie Madoff. Their reaction may cause downturns or upshots that send the economy (and every American) on an emotional roller-coaster.

As the financial crisis shows, the doings of financial wizards deserves more scrutiny than the messy relationship of a Orlando family.

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Father’s Day Post: Songs for My Father: Six Songs for Father’s Day to Celebrate or Shame Your Pops)


During today’s This Week, Robin Roberts had a special sit-down chat with President Barack Obama about this special day.

The president has been outspoken about his absentee father, and even an 11-year-old puts him on the hot spot asking, off-camera, “Do you miss your father on Father’s Day?” Obama’s response (according Roberts): ‘No, I do not.’

As Roberts and This Week‘s host, Christiane Amanpour, pointed out, his interview focused more on lessons he continues to learn as a father himself, and not as the son of an neglectful one. President Obama briefly lamented the approaching “storm” of the teen years of his daughters Sasha and Malia.  He said he was thankful that he has the Secret Service people as deterrence to keep away knuckleheads.

Yet, President Obama did have some kind words for his father who inspired some of his favorite pastimes: playing b-ball and listening to jazz. He said a one-day visit with his father helped him develop his love for both.

The jazz bit inspired this blog post, since I can’t even play H.O.R.S.E anymore without embarrassing myself.

Honor Thy Father

“Song for My Father” – Horace Silver/Dee Dee Bridgewater  DDB: Love & Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver

Dee Dee Bridgewater’s live version of “Song for My Father”:

“Father” is a jaunty, bossa-nova-tinged classic that defined the career of hard-bop pianist Silver. This song and the album of the same name celebrated the Cape Verdean heritage of his father. Dee Dee Bridgewater took a swing at it with tribute album to Silver, Love & Peace, singing the best father praising lyrics I’ve ever heard.

“Color Him Father” – The Winstons

This D.C. soul’s group 1969 single rivals The Intruders I’ll Always Love My Mama” with its “charm” (i.e. bearable sappy-ness).  Runner’s up as my favorite Father’s Day song.

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Top 18 Highest Paid Employees at HU & HUH a.k.a. “My First Infographic”

During the 2010 academic year, before the PCAR process began in October 2009, top administrators received pay rises approved by the finance committee of the Board of Trustees.

When Sidney A. Ribeau became president in 2008, his gross pay was $239, 704 with a base salary of 207, 498.  Last year’s gross salary: $608, 049. The new salary figure of more than $700 thousand becomes complete after tacking on nontaxable benefits of $100 thousand dollars, including a  $95,000 house paid by the university (as a traditional custom).

While current university president’s wages soared, his predecessor’s plunged.  H.P Swygert, president emeritus who currently teaches at the law school, received $2, 300,880 in the 2008 to 2009 academic year, as reported in the Hilltop previously. A lion-share of the million dollar compensation was the disbursement of deferred payment –$1, 730, 363, to be exact – from a plan Swygert started in 1999.

Eleven of the top 18 highest paid employees at the university, including the hospital, are administrators with offices in the Mordecai Johnson Administration Building – or in the case of several had offices in the administration building. Continue reading