Friday, June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain R.I.P.

'Maybe that's enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom...is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.' ~ Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Michael Bourdain was born June 25, 1956, the oldest son of Pierre Bourdain, who was an executive in the classical-music recording industry, and Gladys Bourdain, who was a long-time copy editor at The New York Times. He grew up outside New York City, in Leonia, N.J., and his parents exposed him to fine cuisine, taking him often to France, which is where he first became conscious of food. When he was in fourth grade, on a family vacation to France aboard the Queen Mary, he sat in the cabin-class dining room and ate a bowl of vichyssoise, a creamy mix of leek and potato. What surprised him was that the soup was cold.

'It was the first food I enjoyed and, more important, remembered enjoying,' he wrote in his memoir 'Kitchen Confidential'. He did not remember much else about the trip.'

Bourdain graduated from high school in 1973 and attended Vassar College, dropping out after two years, where he spent long nights drinking and smoking pot.

'I was — to be frank — a spoiled, miserable, narcissistic, self-destructing and thoughtless young lout.'

At Vassar, he met Nancy Putkoski (his first wife) before he left school for a chance at a culinary career. He spent a summer in Provincetown on Cape Cod with some friends. There, he started working as a dishwasher at a seafood restaurant and closely watched the cooks, men who dressed like pirates, with gold earrings and turquoise chokers.

'In the kitchen, they were like gods. I saw how the cooks and chefs behaved. They had sort of a swagger, got all the girls and drank everything in sight.' ~ Anthony Bourdain

The experience solidified his determination to make cooking his life's work. He then enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in 1975 and graduated in 1978, stepping away at times to work at restaurants in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. He started at the bottom in the kitchen hierarchy, with stops at the Rainbow Room, the W.P.A. restaurant on Spring Street and Gianni's at the South Street Seaport. In everything he did, Bourdain cultivated a renegade style and bad-boy persona. For decades, he worked 13-hour days as a line cook in restaurants in New York and the Northeast, until he reached the top in the 1990s, first becoming an executive chef at Sullivan's, the restaurant next to the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway, and then followed by Brasserie Les Halles in 1998, serving steak frites and onion soup in Lower Manhattan.
He had been an executive chef for eight years when he sent an unsolicited article to The New Yorker about the underbelly of the restaurant world and its deceptions. To his surprise, the magazine accepted it and ran it — catching the attention of book editors. It resulted in 'Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly', a memoir that elevated Bourdain to a celebrity chef and a new career on TV. He became an instant hero to a certain breed of professional cooks and restaurant-goers when 'Kitchen Confidential' hit the best-seller lists in 2000. He is largely credited for defining an era of line cooks as warriors, exposing a kitchen culture in which drugs, drinking and long, brutal hours on the line in professional kitchens were both a badge of honor and a curse. Bourdain was open in his writing about his past addictions to heroin and cocaine.

Before he joined CNN in 2012, he spent eight seasons as the globe-trotting host of 'No Reservations' on the Travel Channel, highlighting obscure cuisine and unknown restaurants. 'No Reservations' largely focused on food and Bourdain himself. But on 'Parts Unknown', he turned the lens around, delving into different countries around the world and the people who lived in them. He explored politics and history with locals, often over plates of food and drinks. One of my favorite episodes, I have many, when he appeared with President Barack Obama on an episode of 'Parts Unknown' in Vietnam in 2016. Over cold beers, grilled pork and noodles at a restaurant in Hanoi, they discussed Vietnamese-American relations, The President's final months in office and fatherhood. Among the ones I enjoyed more, with a certain insider feel, were the many he did in Montreal, especially with my friends from Joe Beef, David McMillan and Frederick Morin.

Bourdain was found in his hotel room at Le Chambard, a luxury hotel in Kaysersberg, a village in the Alsace region of eastern France, by long time friend Eric Ripert, himself a celebrity chef and restaurateur who appeared with Bourdain on several of his shows. Bourdain had traveled to Strasbourg in France, near the country's border with Germany, with a television production crew to record an upcoming episode of 'Parts Unknown' on CNN.

'Anthony was a dear friend, and an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many. I wish him peace. My love and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones.' ~ Eric Ripert

'I could not think of a better way to say goodbye.' ~ © Frank Borsellino

© From Where I Sit™
www.fromwhereisit.co
writer/blogger/bon vivant

* photo by Alex Welsh @ The New York Times '2015 in New York City

* via The New York Times


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Courtyard in Cattolica

'Sitting under the candlenut tree in the courtyard is pleasant in the afternoon. Laced in shadows, frangipani & coral hibiscus ward away the memory of recent evil. The sisters go about their duties, Sister Martinique tends her vegetables, and the cats enact their feline comedies and tragedies.' ~ David Mitchell

* Cattolica Eraclea is a commune/municipality in the Province of Agrigento in the Italian region of Sicily, located about 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Palermo and about 20 kilometres (12 mi) northwest of Agrigento... in close proximity to Platani river valley.
The town was founded in medieval times. It received the name 'Eraclea' in 1874, associating it to the ancient site of Heraclea Minoa nearby. The economy is based on agriculture, including production of vine, olives, fruit, almonds, cereals and wheat.

± Namaste ±
© Frank Borsellino™
© From Where I Sit™
writer/blogger/bon vivant

Friday, May 25, 2018

'Hemingway & Gellhorn' (2012)

'The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.' ~ Ernest Hemingway

'Hemingway & Gellhorn' is a study in the art of machismo... just as much from a woman as from a man. This film dramatizes the volatile coming together and falling apart of the famous novelist and his third wife. Martha Gellhorn, a renowned war correspondent and the only one of his brides who was also a fiction writer. The film is a big-name affair, with Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman in the leads. Philip Kaufman ('Rising Sun' (1993), directing a screenplay by Barbara Turner ('Pollock' (2000), 'Georgia' (1995), and Jerry Stahl ('Bad Boys II' (2003), executive produced by James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), and based on Martha Gellhorn's memoirs. At the outset of this explosive new film an aged but still feisty Gellhorn recalls how she was more interested in chasing battle action around the world than in pleasing her man in the boudoir.

She adds, 'There are wars, and then there are wars!'

Especially when one is involved with the ever-mercurial Ernest Hemingway, as Gellhorn was to learn over her intense romance and subsequent four-year marriage to the man. Really hard to say what was more life-threatening for Gellhorn: the Spanish Civil War or grappling with the demons of Papa Hemingway.

To be sure, it's practically impossible to re-create with complete accuracy an actual person, and biopics are typically deformed by the need to cover a lot of ground in short order, as one crisis follows quickly upon another, characters can seem both abnormally intense and insufficiently motivated. Kidman benefits from Gellhorn's relative obscurity in creating her, of course; the original person matters less. And yet given the unknowability of even as public a figure as Hemingway, there are as many plausible ways to play him as to play Hamlet, but Clive Owen delivers a stellar performance... down to the extra pounds he packed on, apparent in all those sex scenes. One doesn't need to feel that, yes, it was really like this only that it might have been. From the moment the young writer Martha, 28, sidles up to the celebrated Ernest, a decade older and covered in marlin blood, at a Key West bar -- Sloppy Joe's.

'Friend or foe?' asks Hemingway. 'Or faux friend. You never know', answers Gellhorn.... you might recall Lauren Bacall teaching Humphrey Bogart to whistle in 'To Have and Have Not' (1944).

And they're off, from Florida to the Spanish Civil War to Cuba and China and D-day, as competitors and collaborators. They meet other famous faces (the starry supporting cast includes David Strathairn as a rather too pathetic John Dos Passos and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, as documentary filmmaker Joris Ivens, Molly Parker as Hemingway's second bride, Pauline, Parker Posey as Hemingway's fourth wife, Mary, Joan Chen as Madame Chiang and Robert Duvall as an unhinged Soviet general); enact passages from future memoirs and biographies reconfigured for dramatic effect; dodge bullets and down cocktails.

'You're more of a man than most men I've met,' he says admiringly, as he fails to drink her under the table.

Kaufman, who also directed the erotic period pieces 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' (1988) and 'Henry & June' (1990), puts a lot of energy into sex scenes that make Gellhorn seem like a goddess of the literary world. In a particular scene, one of my favorites, they're going at it while bombs rain down on their Madrid hotel, covering their naked bodies in plaster dust.The other scene I truly appreciated was in Cuba at the Copacabana in the dressing room. They sauntered in while the ladies were dancing … he practically dragged her, while both very intoxicated, until they found a spot hidden behind costumes and other paraphernalia. He turned her around and raised her dress … just as she was swaying to his thrusts a group of Cancan girls stormed in to change. He placed his hand over her mouth and continued pressing on… and they pulsated together in a harmonious rhythm. Kidman had this look of utter ecstasy. Delicious!
Integrating the actors' 'Zelig' style into old newsreel footage, sliding from color into monochrome and back again. Sometimes, you don't notice the trick at all, but even when you do, it can be sort of charming: It gives the film a kind of picture-book quality not out of step with its self-dramatizing subjects.

Yet in spite of his wild chauvinistic ways, something about the freethinking and alluring Gellhorn charms him. Hemingway is smitten, for a spell, until Gellhorn proves to be a tad too independent and not so subservient. Then Papa gets angry, and you won't much like Papa when he's angry. He gets really blitzed... ornery and self-centred. Papa is no one's notion of politically correct. But it isn't just self-aggrandizing bravado when he declares himself to be the greatest wordsmith in America. It’s hard to take that away from him. The returns in their relationship eventually diminish: The student outlives her need for the teacher, who derides her as 'Little Miss Human Interest'. It turns out that he's the conventional one who needs a base and a gang; she's the footloose free spirit who wants to be where the action is.

Kidman's Gellhorn and Owen's Hemingway, as well as the others, are mostly on fire, and under fire. And when not dodging gunshots during the Spanish Civil War and the Japanese invasion of China,
Gellhorn and Hemingway are mostly engaged in personal combat – physically and mentally. But the two have something in common: a romanticized idealism. They are rebels with a cause, eager to quash fast-rising fascism, be it in Franco's Spain or Hitler's Germany. Hemingway prevails upon Gellhorn to chuck objectivity in her dispatches for Collier's Weekly.

They are also fearless, bordering on foolhardy. What else to make of their desire for some nookie while their hotel is being blitzkrieged by Franco's bombers... Or Hemingway's challenge to play Russian roulette with an equally unravelled and real Russian General (Robert Duvall). The two are also world-class tipplers. But even Gellhorn marvels how Hemingway could put away bottles of scotch, absinthe and wine at night and still take his post at the typewriter the following morning.

'Writing is like Mass. God gets mad when you miss it,' explains Hemingway, whose second bride convinced him to convert to Catholicism.

While the film focuses on the passion between Hemingway and Gellhorn, it also addresses prevailing patronizing attitudes toward women with ambition back in the late 1930s and early 1940s, which is when the film is set. Despite finding religion as well as adventure, causes, acclaim and women, Hemingway, a senior Gellhorn contends in retrospect, was rarely at peace with himself... 'He tortured no one so much as he is tortured himself.' Such was the price Papa Hemingway was willing to pay for his place in the writers' pantheon. As is abundantly made clear here.

The movie, which has concentrated more on her journey than his, gives her a kind of payback: It
jumps from their final breakup, in 1945, to a diminished Hemingway's suicide some 16 years later.
Gellhorn exits on two feet, as the older woman who has remembered this tale, grabbing her backpack
and heading out the door onto her next adventure.


© Frank Borsellino™
* From Where I Sit!
www.fromwhereisit.co
May 25, 2018

* Nicole Kidman & Clive Owen - 'Hemingway & Gellhorn' (2012) @ Copacabana, Cuba

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Movie Review - 'Out of Sight' (1998)

'Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.' ~ André Malraux

Once again I revisited an old favorite, 'Out Of Sight' (1998), not least because it stands as the most definitive example of Elmore Leonard on-screen. It has a terrific script by 'Get Shorty' (1995) writer Scott Frank. It also has a cameo from Michael Keaton, as a special task force agent, searching for escapees. In a setting that encompasses both of Leonard's traditional stomping grounds - Florida and Detroit. There is a cast of unforgettable characters double-crossing each other in a cracking plot of sex, violence and whip-smart dialogue (all directed with a career-reviving zeal by Steven Soderbergh). A deceptively tricky timeline masterfully reassembled by veteran editor Anne V. Coates (she recently passed away), whose credits include 'Lawrence Of Arabia', (1962) 'Chaplin' (1992) and 'In the Line of Fire' (1993) lays it out; bank robber Jack Foley (George Clooney), in the part that set the stage for the decade and more of great work to come, as he bounced back from the disaster of 'Batman & Robin' (1997). He has busted out of jail, taking Federal Marshal Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez, in my opinion never again not even half as good as she is here) hostage in her trunk. The reason for his outbreak is he's got a final caper in mind; pinching diamonds from toupeed white-collar criminal Richard Ripley (Albert Brooks), but former prison mate Snoop (Don Cheadle) has designs on the same score as well.

With Sisco on his tail, can Jack keep his mind on the job? Or might he have found something more important? Frank and Soderbergh keep the narrative moving propulsively, but find plenty of time to stop and catch their breath with a cast of characters that might be Leonard's finest, including Dennis Farina, as Karen's dad, Steve Zahn's hapless Glenn Michaels, Ving Rhames' loyal Buddy Bragg, Catherine Keener's magician's assistant Adele, Luis Guzman's escaped con Chino, Isaiah Washington's sinister Kenneth, and even a one-scene wonder from Viola Davis. The director, relishing his second chance after having had a string of under-performing pictures, gives the film a New Wave pop, but there's a darkness and sadness here too that underlays the laugh-out-loud moments without undermining them. It's an incredible masterpiece, one of the best crime pictures of the last few decades, and to my mind, the finest Elmore Leonard adaptation I have seen, at par or maybe better than 'Get Shorty'.

Finally a film adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel that really captures the author's seedy South Floridian love of small-time hoods and big-time losers. Granted, 'Jackie Brown' (1997) mined similar territory some months back, but Soderbergh pares Leonard down to his essentials, playing around with the timeline à la Leonard, and just generally having a lighter, wackier time of it. It's gritty enough to stay true to the source material's comedy-of-despair ethos, yet solid enough to pack a punch, and in doing so it makes for one of the better heist movies in some time. Clooney, looking and acting way above par here, plays career thief Jack Foley, who in a lovingly realized opening scene finds himself in the Glades Correctional Institution after botching an endearingly simplistic bank robbery. Dismayed by the fact that he's not scheduled to see parole for three decades, he breaks out of prison and more trouble in the form of Deputy Federal Marshall Karen Sisco (Lopez), who just happened to be in the proverbial wrong place at the wrong time. With the help of partner Buddy Bragg (Rhames), Foley ditches Karen (but not before some serious brake-light rapport is established between the pair) and moves forward with his big plan to rob another ex-con -- insider trader Richard Ripley (Brooks) -- of a reported $5 million in uncut diamonds. When stoner car thief Glenn Michaels (Zahn, doing his best Jim Breuer impression brings him the inside scoop. Plans go awry (don't they always?) when hair-trigger Maurice ‘Snoopy’ Miller (Don Cheadle) cuts himself in on the action.

A host of terrific bit players round out Soderbergh's film: Catherine Keener turns up as Foley's ex-squeeze Adele, Isaiah Washington appears as Snoopy's psychotic brother Kenneth, an uncredited Michael Keaton reprises his ‘Jackie Brown’ role as FBI agent Ray Nicolette, another and also uncredited Samuel L. Jackson plays a fellow con in the film's closing scene. Although 'Out of Sight's whipsawing storyline feels off-putting at first, as the flashbacks-within-flashbacks begin drawing to a head, Soderbergh's obvious glee at playing with linear conventions shines through. It's also readily apparent that the actors are enjoying themselves immensely; more than anything else, 'Out of Sight' captures Leonard's sense of the indefatigable appeal of the downtrodden grifter. Clooney, with his cockeyed half-grin, sparks some real chemistry alongside the tempestuous Lopez, and Albert Brooks -- with his flagrantly shoddy hairpiece and all – is a sublime hoot. Soderbergh's film has a Sixties pop art feel to it, from the European-styled one-sheet poster on down to his frequent use of freeze-frames and snazzy edits. Hardly a serious caper film, 'Out of Sight' instead takes a lighter approach, effortlessly offering up as many unexpected chuckles as it does bullets.

© Frank Borsellino™
© From Where I Sit™
May 10, 2018

* George Clooney - 'Out of Sight' (1998)


Monday, April 30, 2018

Games

'Life is a series of games... The past is game over, you lost or you won. The future is the game your training for and the present is the game your playing.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

Run

'At times we run from what we need the most... It is then that we may find the great freedom in being bound by love.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* © Hackett London by John Balsom '2014

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Belonging

'Safe. Peaceful. Loved. Complete. Where I belong. Where I was always meant to be. I wrap my arms around you, and take you in. Our bodies become one, I don't know where you end and where I begin.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™


Friday, April 20, 2018

Sailing the World

'I believe that we must let our dreams take flight while being guided by our hearts.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

To Be Special

'There are people who consider themselves special. Others, silently are.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* Rodrigo Santoro by Baz Luhrmann @ Chanel Nº5 '200

The Battle

'Pride and love are fighting in my head. In a war without mercy, where death does not exist. All that exists is one woman.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* Kurt Russell


Friday, April 6, 2018

Hope must never be lost ...

'Hope must never be lost. For as dark as the road may seem... there always lies light at the end of it.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* Nicole Kidman

Monday, April 2, 2018

Movie Review - 'Begin Again' (2013)

'Headed to the top. The only question as I meet you on my way is if you're coming with me or not.' ~ Iveta Cherneva

A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter, new to Manhattan, turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents. John Carney's low budget romance musical 'Once' (2007) was a breakout hit that foregrounded the emotional complexities of its central lovers with delicate tunes. By contrast, 'Begin Again' (2013) — which originally featured the more revealing title 'Can a Song Save Your Life?' revolves around the exploitation of that very same feeling. The story centers on forlorn aspiring British songwriter Gretta (Keira Knightley 'Colette' (2018)), who's adrift in Manhattan after getting dumped by her philandering rock star boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine - Maroon 5), and being discovered by struggling music producer Dan (Mark Ruffalo 'Thor: Ragnarok' (2017). Eager for fresh talent, Dan pushes Gretta to sign with him and record an ambitious outdoors album across the city. She's initially reticent; songwriting is just something that she does. The film explores this tension with a blithe attitude that foregrounds several enjoyable melodies performed throughout the movie, but it also feels every bit as commercial as the world in its crosshairs.

Executive produced by Judd Apatow, Carney's movie revolves around a familiar set of character types that wouldn't seem out of place in a studio comedy like the ones associated with the Apatow brand. Yet it works significantly better than more mainstream productions thanks to the legitimacy its actors bring to the project. Knightley's sorrowful state plays nicely off Ruffalo's sputtering enthusiasm for show business. His character's own background would strain from contrived ingredients if it weren't endowed with the credibility he brings to it: The actor's relationship with his wife (Catherine Keener 'November Criminals' (2017) is on the rocks following an earlier affair, while his angst-riddled daughter (Hailee Steinfeld 'Pitch Perfect 3' (2017)) copes with her burgeoning womanhood under her parents' close watch. Meanwhile, Dan's longtime producing partner Saul (Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def) wants to kick him out of the venture since he's unwilling to embrace mainstream trends in the industry. The movie's title doesn't lie: Gretta's talent has the potential to give Dan's career meaning again — just as it can rescue her from her sorrows.

'Begin Again' explores this scenario with a light, inoffensive touch. The stakes are nicely established with Knightley's performance of a solemn tune about loneliness during an acoustic set forced on her by friend Steve (James Corden 'The Late Late Show'). Hesitant to share her work with the world, she has zero stage presence. But minutes later we witness the entire scene a second time around from Ruffalo's perspective: Drunk and frustrated with his flagging career, the character perks up when he hears the music and gazes at the performer with a giddy smile. Behind Knightley, the other instruments suddenly come to life on their own, as Dan imagines the potential for Gretta's music in the hands of a good producer and backup musicians. It's the only moment of genuine magical realism that endows the movie's musicality with an innovative edge. Dan's drive to sign Gretta based on this experience gives the premise a fairy tale quality that makes it easy to invest in his mission, since we're experiencing his client's potential along with him.
Following a cheeky cameo by CeeLo Green as the posh musician willing to finance Gretta's album, there's no doubt whether Dan can find the resources he needs to get back on track. After a while, the real star of 'Begin Again' is its original compositions. Performing on rooftops and alleyways while Dan happily watches from the sidelines — and at one point joins in. Gretta delivers a series of tracks with a genial presence that makes the case for her star potential. By foregounding the two main characters' investment in the scenario, Carney makes it relatable. When the story veers into whimsical territory — as when Gretta records a song on her ex-boyfriend's voicemail to announce her frustrations with him, or when she traipses around the city with Dan listening to jazz on his headphones — Carney shares a charming sense for music's cathartic power. A feeling I have experienced many times over. 'We need vision, not gimmicks', Dan professes to his business partner. 'Begin Again' struggles to confront that advice, but finds it on enough occasions to demonstrate its accuracy.


© Frank Borsellino™
* From Where I Sit!
March 30, 2018

* Mark Ruffalo & Keira Knightley




Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Movie Review - 'Limitless' (2011)

'Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself. Believe in your abilities and
your infinite potential. Never let self-doubt hold you captive. You are worthy of all
that you dream of and hope for.' ~ Roy T. Bennett

'Limitless' is a clever, stylish little exercise in drug-fueled paranoia. This film
raises the question, 'If the apple from the tree of knowledge fell right into your lap,
would you take a bite? And then what would you do?' The apple in this case is an illicit
designer drug 'NZT'. Now, it isn't just another quick high, but instead, it makes a lie
of the old saying that we only use 20 percent of our brains and cranks that percentage
up to 100. Can you fathom that! The possibilities are endless in theory and also for
the purpose of this story.

A thirty-something writer Eddie Mora (Bradley Cooper 'Burnt' (2015), is divorced with
a terminal case of writer's block. Here is a guy who was just dumped by his most recent
girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish 'Perfect' (2018), because he's going nowhere at the speed
of light. By circumstance, our slacker finds himself in possession of a stash of the
wonder pill. Suddenly, Eddie -- seducing the worlds of writing, women and Wall Street --
has got massive amounts of game and brains, attracting the attention of both barons of
the boardroom like Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro 'The Wizard of Lies' (2017), bullies on
the street like Russian mobster Gennady (Andrew Howard 'The Brave' (2017), and some
mysterious third guy who keeps giving him the side-eye and chasing him around Manhattan.
And did someone mention side effects? Baby, this apple bites back. This is where Eddie
might be starting to realize that getting really smart really quickly may have been
a dumb thing after all?

Bradley Cooper is great and really plays up both sides of that coin, the intellect and
when the drug wears out, the pauper. I have been a big fan of his since the series 'Alias'
(2001-2006). I always enjoyed him because he stretches and doesn't just skate on his looks.
He tries to be diverse in his choice of roles such as 'Joy' and 'Burnt' (2015), 'American
Sniper' and 'Serena' (2014). In raunchy fare like 'The Hangover' (2009) and plodding rom-coms
('Wedding Crashers' (2005) – didn't you hate him? 'He's Just Not That Into You' (2009) –
again the cad and everyone loved him in 'Valentine's Day' (2010).

'Limitless' is based on the novel 'The Dark Fields' by Alan Glynn and is directed with
a nimble efficiency and sense of visual humor by Neil Burger ('Divergent' (2014). It is
at times reminiscent of the work of Danny Boyle ('T2 Trainspotting' (2017), it never takes
itself too seriously but still manages to be suspenseful and clever. Burger, Cooper and De
Niro opened up what was a much cluttered book and injected it with a jolt of cinematic
electricity. Smart move - smart movie.


© Frank Borsellino™
© From Where I Sit™
writer/blogger/bon vivant
March 27, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Movie Review - 'In Search of Fellini' (2017)

'You have to live spherically - in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm - and things will come your way.' ~ Federico Fellini

In the movie, Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson on the long-running animated television series, has made her first movie as a screenwriter and producer. 'In Search of Fellini' (2017) reimagines a whirlwind adventure Ms. Cartwright once had to try to meet Federico Fellini… and so with the help of her longtime collaborator and co-writer, Peter Kjenaas, and first-time director Taron Lexton, she creates a Felliniesque fantasy of her own.
In this coming-of-age adventure, Lucy (Ksenia Solo), is a sheltered, small-town girl from Ohio, who discovers the delightfully bizarre films of the legendary Italian filmmaker and sets off on a journey across Italy to find him, a charming drama about the love of movies and youthful passion, which she inherited from her mother (Maria Bello)'s idealistic view of romance and appreciation of feel-good movies. After her mother falls ill, Lucy finds solace at a festival of Fellini films and discovers movies with dark endings and sexual scenes that she had never seen before. She resolves to find the man of her cinematic dreams in Italy.
Lucy, whose wide-eyed naïveté is modeled after Giulietta Masina's character in 'La Strada' (1954), isn't the only reference to Fellini's movies. 'In Search of Fellini' is overflowing with characters, locations and visual cues to the director's classics, like 'Nights of Cabiria' (1957), 'La Dolce Vita' (1960) and '8 ½' (1963). Fans that refer to Fellini as Il Maestro may delight in these references, but several cues and cameos are followed by a scene or poster of the cited movie, so as not to exclude the rest of the audience.
Fellini used nostalgia to point out something about ourselves; Mr. Lexton uses it to remind us of Fellini's films. The movie can shift from effusive love letter to travel lust to sentimental moment, but it doesn't break the fantasy.

© Frank Borsellino™
© From Where I Sit™
March 25, 2018

* Paolo Bernardini & Ksenia Solo - 'In Search of Fellini' (2017)

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Underdog

'I have always sided with the underdog... the vanguard in search of a vision…his vision... his passion. The moment you realize that you can have everything you want in life. However, it takes timing, the right heart, the right actions, the right passion and a willingness to risk it all. If it is not yours it is because you really didn't want it.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* Nathan Filion & Morena Baccarin - 'Firefly' (2002-2003)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

'Genevieve' by Pininfarina

'This is your world, shape it or someone else will.' ~ Gary Lew

My first passion was driving... I could not wait to have my own car, not any car
but rather a vehicle that defined me. I believed that an automobile was an extension
of oneself, the key to being free, to exploring and discovering. The beginning of
any adventure was the moment you got behind the wheel and turned the key in the
ignition... and the machine came to life. As a preteen nothing compared to that
sensation.

As was customary, within my circle of peers, at eighteen, a boy is driven to
a business associate of the father, who owns an automobile dealership and is
allowed to choose his first car. Being that we just stepped-off of the seventies,
muscle cars were still in vogue, most notably Pontiacs and Camaros, more specifically
Trans-Ams and Z/28s. Having just seen the movie 'American Gigolo' (1980), I wanted
a European ragtop, not some hunk of steel, so diametric to my dad's wishes; I put
the word out among auto enthusiasts.

Late one summer evening I receive a call from one such enthusiast, who had a
connection with the sole, at that time, auto dealer in Montreal who dealt in Italian
automobiles 'Luciani Motors'. That same night, after-hours, like some cloak and
dagger mission, we arrive at the showroom. Following introductions we are lead to
an underground storage facility. As I adjusted my focus, in the back of this large
backdrop of concrete and steel, I see the most beautiful, exotic jewel, a black
Fiat Spider with a tan interior and ragtop. The same color as Julian in 'American
Gigolo'.

FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili di Torino) was founded in Turin, Northern
Italy, in the year 1899, at the dawn of the Italian industrialization. Now the
FIAT group is a financial and industrial conglomerate that initially manufactured
aircrafts.
In the year 1979, the FIAT 124 Spider came to be known as the Spyder 2000. The
1980 Spyder 2000 came equipped with a bigger and more powerful engine that provided
good acceleration. It had a wide rectangular mesh grille and a badge on the bonnet.
It was a classic, in the sense of Austin Healeys, TRs' and MGB Roadsters from
British Leyland of the late sixties. It had these incredible power bulges over
each wheel rim. The aerodynamic body of the vehicle was designed to minimize drag.

I was in Heaven, an instant bond between man and machine. I turned to Mr. Luciani
and said, "That's the one!"

My father was not a happy man and so he let it be known that it was my responsibility
financially, of course, I had to come up with the funds, but I didn't care, she was
worth it.

"I like you Frank so I'll arrange for the car loan to be approved. Just don't let
me down, young man," said Mr. Luciani once he heard our exchange.

Imagine what that felt like to an eighteen year old? Like, in 1492 when Christopher
Columbus first saw land in the horizon. Two days go by and I get a call from Mr.
Luciani's secretary,

"Mr.Borsellino, Mr. Luciani wanted to let you know your car is ready."

I must have jumped 3 feet in the air, all the while trying to maintain civil dialogue
with the lady on the other end.

"Come in to sign some papers and you can drive her home," she concluded.

Suffice to say... that night I got no sleep and the following day at work I was useless.
Right from work, without even showering, got a ride to the dealer and skipped up those
stairs to the office, signed some documents and got my first set of keys.

To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "Freedom at last! Freedom at last! Thank God
Almighty, Freedom at last!"

You were now allowed to go anywhere, anytime and with anyone, day or night, regardless.
I don't think I had ever or since felt such an invigorating sensation down to the depths
of my being. 'The world was my oyster'.

I crossed the lot and I saw her, she had been washed and was a shiny black beacon amidst
a sea of colour. Luciani had many cars in that lot but only my little diamond shone as
black as Egypt's night. The smile on my face was so pronounced it was going to slice my
cheek - through and through. I stopped to take a breath and allow the moment to encapsulate
me fully. This kind of excitement may be only a handful of momentous life-altering milestones
in the life of any young man or woman... your first car. I couldn't believe this was my car.

Mr. Luciani says to me, "Adesso ragazzo, fai attenzione. Unlike a hardtop... if you rollover
in a convertible you can be crushed."

As he began to show me the temperature cage, the lever that opens the bonnet, the hidden
key slot for the trunk, etc. I interrupt him and say, "I don't care; I'll eventually read
the manual and figure those things out."

"I understand, son."

"All I want to know is ­ how to put down the top?"

He went through the motions pointing to the lever to unhook the ragtop, while I'm settling
in comfortably. I turn the key ... and Freedom roared! The engine came to life and it was
like music to my ears. The purring sound of that little Italian 'macchina' was what the
hymning from Angels must sound like.

The first stop was one my oldest friends who lived across the river. Crossing that bridge,
with the wind in my hair, was intoxicating. Being on an open road was a profound freeing of
the spirit. Her dad is an avid car collector, mostly antiques though, but one look at that
little gem and he loved me for the following 25 years. Every time I went to pick her up,
he'd take it for a spin with his wife, like they were reliving their teenage years... while
my friend and I sat around the house waiting. Marie had the soul of an Italian, but was part
French-Canadian and so christened her 'Genevieve' and the name stuck for the next several years.


© Frank Borsellino™
© From Where I Sit™
writer/blogger/bon vivant
February 5, 2017

* '1980 Fiat 124 Sport Spider by Pininfarina


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

'Stranger in Heels' by © Frank Borsellino™

As I perused the bar I saw her sitting at an alcove, slightly above the fray. It was at my eye level, legs and heels. She was enveloped in a lovely Pashmina of such a beautifully, vibrant shade of pink, Picasso would have been envious. Just as I gazed upon those spectacular limbs, like some burlesque show, she stood up. Let me give you a visual, shoulder length dirty blonde hair in quasi-curls, the soft skin glowing from exuberance, and especially the long, soft limbs that went to Heaven and back.

The legs ended at a little black Versace cocktail dress with a ruffled, feathered crown right above the knees. The arch from her buttocks flowed, seamlessly, to her muscular calves, to the curvature of her limbs and finished at her sexy black pumps. Auguste Rodin would have loved to mould that into eternity.

Throughout the evening she kept twisting and turning. She had attitude, was a little aggressive, a little flirty and hopped like a bunny. Then a funny thing happened on my way to the men's room, I saw her on the cusp of the ladies' room. She looked like she had stepped off a fashion shoot and you could smell her fragrance from a distance, and it was exquisite. She was sobbing, very faintly, of which there is no sadder sight than a beautiful woman in tears.

Earlier that day, she had been to Holt Renfrew to pick up that beautiful dress she had on lay-away, for the better part of the summer. The store had it so long they were knocking off 10% just for tenacity. On this day she was feeling beautiful again, like she use to before her life started spiralling out of control.

She originally hailed from Belgium, by way of Paris, which guaranteed a free spirit, and had an enchanting accent, a little sprinkle, nothing heavy, which made all those bookers giddy. She had been discovered at a high school fashion show, and catapulted to fashion houses all over Paris. Because of her youth, a chaperon was required, and of course her mother jumped on that train. The mother relished the chance to hob-knob with the rich and famous.

The glitterati of the fashion world were a strong aphrodisiac for grounded individuals, but for her mother, it was destructive. Through the years the tumultuous relationship, to say the least, of the Mother-Daughter team had turned into something of a joke within the industry. In fact, it had become too hard for her agent to book any more runway shows or photo shoots. So… when she turned 25 and because she was an ingénue anymore had become something of a pariah.

That night, after her mother saw the beautiful new dress, demanded money, and when none was forthcoming, an exchange of malicious words ensued. She stormed out of that little five-story walk-up on Cathcart St., and regretted that fateful day, when asked by her agent / manager to choose between her mother and her career.