terça-feira, 29 de maio de 2012

'Marigold Hotel' defies the naysayers

'Marigold Hotel' defies the naysayers

By Nicolaus Mills, Special to NN
May 29, 2012 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
"Hotel Marigold" actors Bill Nighy, from left, Ronald Pickup, producer Graham Broadbent, director John Madden, actors Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Diana Hardcastle, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson and Celia Imrie at the premiere of their film in London.
  • Despite patronizing critics, "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is surprise hit movie of the year
  • Nicolaus Mills: Movie's popularity shows audiences do care about older people's lives
  • Mills: English literature often points up failures of British society by contrasting life abroad
  • "Marigold Hotel" reveals the compassion in India that was lacking in life in England
Editor's note: Nicolaus Mills is professor of American Studies at Sarah Lawrence College and author of Winning the Peace: The Marshall Plan and America's Coming of Age as a Superpower.
(CNN) -- With ticket sales closing in on $100 million, the surprise hit of the year is "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," a film about seven English retirees who travel to India to take up residence at the rundown Marigold Hotel, which, according to its misleading brochures, will provide them with inexpensive comfort in their remaining years.
But what makes "Marigold Hotel," which is directed by John Madden of "Shakespeare in Love" fame, far more interesting than its box-office success is how it has defied the patronizing reviews of critics --including those of The Times of India and The Telegraph in England -- who have categorized it as little more than entertainment for people in their 50s starring actors in their 70s.
Indeed, how patronizing the critics have been is reflected in the fact that review after review, starting with "Marigold Hotel" stars, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench (both of whom are 77), has made a point of dwelling on the ages of the ensemble cast.
The popularity of "Marigold Hotel" tells us that unlike the critics, today's audiences don't find the struggles of the old and middle-aged less worthy of their attention than those of the young. But the charm of the film isn't confined to its depiction of the elderly trying to make the most of the rest of their lives.
Nicolaus Mills
Nicolaus Mills
At the heart of "Marigold Hotel" lies a compassion that contrasts starkly with the coldness the film's retirees experienced in the England they left behind. The youthful manager of the Marigold Hotel, played with comic brilliance by Dev Patel (the lead in "Slumdog Millionaire"), may have misled his retirees about the quality of his hotel, but he has underplayed his own decency and enthusiasm.
There is a long tradition in English literature of pointing up the failures of British society by contrasting life at home with life abroad. E. M. Forester's 1908 novel, "A Room with a View," which in 1985 was successfully adapted for the screen, provided a searing critique of the stuffiness of Edwardian life by allowing its young heroine to find romance in Italy. "Marigold Hotel," which is based on Deborah Moggach's 2004 novel, "These Foolish Things," follows this same tradition, as it captures the English fascination with warm climates.
In this case, however, the Forester novel with which "Marigold Hotel" has the most in common is his 1924 masterpiece, "Passage to India." In Forester's story it is the Indians, over whom the British then ruled, who show the greatest capacity for love and friendship.
In "Marigold Hotel," the English retirees find a gentleness in the city of Jaipur that was not present in their homeland. In contrast to the British of the 19th century, the retirees of "Marigold Hotel" are not out to extract fortunes from their new land. They are instead out to preserve dwindling incomes and make peace with their past.
Not all of them succeed, but enough of them do to suggest modern India, even with its traffic jams and elephants and camels in the streets, is a land of opportunity:
Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith), a housekeeper who after years of service was fired from her job by the family she worked for, finds that in India she can get the hip replacement surgery she needs without waiting and, despite herself, she slowly loses the racial bigotry she brought with her.
Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench), a widow whose husband has died, saddling her with debt that forces her to sell her home, gets employment helping out at an Indian call center and in the process frees herself from the condescending pity of her children.
Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson), a gay High Court judge, who left India full of shame when he brought his young Indian lover into disgrace, finds that he is welcomed back as an old friend.
Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy), who has fled to India with his quarrelsome wife Jean (Penelope Wilton) because their daughter lost most of their savings in a failed start-up, realizes that he is better off when his wife leaves him and returns to England.
The randy Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) and the even randier Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) learn that in India age is not the barrier it was in England to the sexual adventure they are seeking.
Can these happy endings last? "Marigold Hotel" never provides a final answer just as it rarely allows tragedy to creep in.
But the "Marigold Hotel" does not need to offer they-lived-happily-ever-after reassurance to succeed. It is enough that, thanks to their change in scenery, the film's central characters have refused to resign themselves to ending their lives in quiet despair.
What in 1947 on the eve of independence India's first prime minister, Jawaharial Nehru, called his nation's "Tryst with Destiny" has become for the retirees of the "Marigold Hotel" a tryst with old age as a result of their new country and its people.

quarta-feira, 16 de maio de 2012

27 anos...Sou Feliz !!

E cheguei aos 27 anos... Sou Feliz!! Tenho das coisas mais especiais que é possível ter na vida: verdadeiros amigos, pessoas extraordinárias em meu redor, profissionalmente faço o que amo e tantas outras coisas boas que me preenchem e me proporcionam felicidade pura! E tudo o que quero alcançar e ainda não tenho continuarei avidamente a lutar para que aconteça...

sábado, 12 de maio de 2012

Cultural mix gives Philippines art edge

By Dean Irvine, CNN
May 10, 2012 -- Updated 0205 GMT (1005 HKT)
Louie Cordero has been conjuring up canvasses and sculptures in his Manila studio for over ten years.
Louie Cordero has been conjuring up canvasses and sculptures in his Manila studio for over ten years.
Room with a skewed view

  • Manila-based artists finding their feet on the international stage
  • Louie Cordero's visceral paintings and sculptures full of Philippine culture
  • Unique mix of cultures and history creates diverse group of artists, says Cordero
  • International art collectors more open to Philippine art, says head of Hong Kong Art Fair
Manila (CNN) -- After paying five homeless people outside his studio in Manila to help chew 700 pieces of bubble gum, Louie Cordero began to wonder what he had undertaken in the name of art.
"Well, it certainly took longer than I imagined it would, and they thought it would, too" he recalls.
After two days of aching jaws, the potent mix of gum, spittle and resin went to create one of Cordero's larger-than-life sculptures; a bright green figure that is part tribal warrior, part horror flick monster, but all Cordero's imagination.
It is now starting to turn brown as the sugar in the gum oxidizes, but Cordero is still turning his wild machinations of surreal, twisted biomorphic figures into sculptures and paintings, and is one of a group of contemporary artists from the Philippines turning heads with a vibrancy and unique Filipino vision.
If you're dealing with religion, people, priests and politicians will condemn you if you touch on that sensibility. You can do it, but it can become a circus.
Louie Cordero, artist
Awash with tubes of bright acrylic paint, Cordero's studio in the Cubao area of Manila has been his main base for around 10 years and is situated just a few minutes away from the stadium where Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier had their "Thriller in Manila" bout in 1975.
Working on two new pieces for this month's Hong Kong International Art Fair while sipping industrial strength coffee, Cordero admits that while his attitude to his work hasn't really altered in a decade, local artists are seemingly starting to punch above their weight.
"Things have changed a lot in terms of financial gain and artistic gain. For new artists, they have a thing about doing it in the international scene or being represented. Now it's a career that has to be strategized," he says.
"In Manila there used to be more artist run galleries. Now big galleries are here and looking for the new artist that wants to sell for big money. Every week now there's like three openings, before it used to be one show per month."
It's a long way from the 34-year-old's life when he graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts.
Back then he couldn't afford paint so spent days drawing comic strips (one of which has gained a cult following in the Philippines and Japan) or taking illustration jobs to pay the bills. Joining with friends and contemporaries he also ran artist spaces for impromptu exhibitions. Since then he's moved on to feature in joint exhibitions in Hong Kong and prominent solo shows including one in New York in 2010.
Inspired by an explosive mix of comic art, pop culture and gore-fest films, Cordero also retains a strong Filipino flavor in his art, drawing on everything from jeepney art, turbulent politics and the almost inescapable impact of religion in Philippine society.
"We've been occupied and colonized by American and Spanish so most of the artists here contemplate on that concept or hang-ups from it, especially the Catholic influence that we get from school age upwards," he says.
Playing with religious imagery can still cause huge controversy in the Philippines. Last year a collage by artist Mideo Cruz at the Cultural Center of the Philippines depicted Jesus with a wooden penis glued to his face. It was condemned by church groups and even attracted the ire of former first lady Imelda Marcos. The resulting furor led to the exhibition being closed.
It is becoming more the case that collectors are willing to engage with artists from a wide variety of cultural and aesthetic backgrounds.
Magnus Renfrew, Hong Kong International Art Fair
Cordero admits to gleefully prodding the country's cultural soft spots when he was younger with a 2001 piece that mixed in Jesus and Ronald McDonald, but thinks Cruz was just unlucky.
"He was the center of the whole nation's tensions. When I started I was like that, now I'm not so scandalous with my work; it's more like you're young and full of angst, and you're very idealistic.
"If you're dealing with religion, it's very sad because people, priests and politicians will condemn you if you touch on that sensibility. You can do it, but it can become a circus.
"It's fine if you do it just for art people, but for the common people, still not that many go to art exhibition. You need that sensation for people to go."
If the public's tastes are not so Catholic in the Philippines, art collectors are starting to wake up to the breadth and diversity of work by contemporary Filipino artists. Last month a painting by Filipino artist Ronald Ventura entitled "Grayground" sold at Sotheby's in Hong Kong for $1.1 million, making it the first piece by a contemporary Southeast Asian artist to fetch more than $1 million.
"If Ventura's work is going for over $1million, and the likes of (established 19th century painter) Juan Luna couldn't meet its reserve price, there's something going on (in the art market)," says independent curator and Cordero's partner Isabel Ching.
Next door to Cordero's studio is a fabrication workshop run by Jeremy Guiab, where Cordero's latest projects - thrones made of fiberglass bones and twisted totem polls - are being made. A gold mine of curios and industrial oddities, it's also a hub for local artists, from those fresh out of art school to longer-serving artists like Romeo Lee.
"I've been around since the 1980s. Filipinos started in a struggle, now it's the new generation's chance, and they're smart," says Lee. "But for the old generation like me, I'll keep going, and I'm happy if someone now wants to pay more for my art."
With an increasing interest in the work of Cordero and his contemporaries like Nona Garcia and predecessors like Manuel Ocampo, has come a desire from collectors to know where they come from, says Magnus Renfrew, director of Hong Kong International Art Fair,
"It's relatively early days for the international profile of art from the Philippines," says Renfrew. "But it is becoming more and more the case that collectors are willing to engage with artists from a wide variety of cultural and aesthetic backgrounds."
Among the sparks of spot-welding and smell of resin in the workshop, Cordero is content to continue to mix things up in his own work regardless of the changing tastes of collectors or galleries.
"I don't know what I'm doing; it's the challenge. That's the reason I do art: to keep challenging myself and saying this is what I want to do."

Dean Irvine, Cultural mix gives Philippines art edge, in "Eye On" (excerpt), CNN Asia online, http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/09/world/asia/philippines-artist-louie-cordero/index.html?hpt=hp_c1#, 10th April 2012.

quarta-feira, 9 de maio de 2012

HOWARD CARTER (May 9th, 1874 - March 2nd 1939)



It may simply have been the luck of the draw, but no one has probably furthered the interests of Egyptology, and indeed the world's archaeological focus on Egypt more than Howard Carter. His discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun has inspired almost a century of Hollywood movies, books and media attention for this greatest of all living museums we call Egypt.

Howard Carter

While Howard Carter's find of the mostly intact tomb of a pharaoh may have been lucky, it was the result of a dedicated career in Egyptology and the culmination of consistent exploration.

Howard Carter was born on May 9th, 1874 in the small town of Kensington, London, England.  His father, an artist named Samuel John Carter who drew portraits (mostly of animals) for local landowners, trained Howard in the fundamentals of drawing and painting. He was Samuel Carter's youngest son. But Howard Carter developed an early interest in Egypt, so when he was 17 years old, under the influence of Lady Amherst, a family acquaintance, he set sail for Alexandria, Egypt.  It would be his first trip outside of England, and he hoped to work with the Egyptian Exploration Fund as a tracer.  Tracers copied drawings and inscriptions on paper for further study.

His first assignment came at Bani Hassan, where he was tasked with recording and copying the scenes from the walls of the tombs of the princes of Middle Egypt.  It is said that he worked diligently throughout the day, and slept with the bats in the tombs at night.

It was under the direction of William Flinders Petrie that Carter grew into his own as an archaeologist.  Considered as one of the best field archaeologists of this time, Petrie really did not believe that Carter would ever become a good excavator. Yet Carter could have had no better teacher at this point in time. At el Amrna, Carter proved Petrie wrong by unearthing several important finds. During this training period, Carter also worked under Gaston Maspero, who would later become the Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service.

A watercolor painting by Howard Carter
A watercolor painting by Howard Carter

After being appointed as the Principle Artist of the Egyptian Exploration Fund's excavations at Deir el Bahari under the direction of Edouard Naville, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Carter was able to perfect his drawing skills and strengthen his excavation and restoration techniques.  His admirable efforts on the project led to his appointment by the Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, at age 25, as the first Inspector General of Monuments for Upper Egypt. This was obviously an important area of Egypt that included the ancient Thebes area.  He became responsible for supervising and controlling archaeology all along the Upper Nile Valley. It is interesting to note that during this time, he erected the first electric lights in the Valley of the Kings (in various tombs) and at the temples at Abu Simbel.

Regrettably, he was forced to resign from the Antiquities Service in 1905.  An incident occurred between Egyptian archaeology site guards atSaqqara and a few drunken French tourists. When the tourists became violent, Carter allowed the guards to defend themselves.  The tourists protested to various high officials including the Egyptian Consul General Lord Cromer.  Cromer called for Carter to make  formal apology, but Carter refused, and was relieved of his post and re-stationed to Tanta, a place with very little archaeological involvement.  Carter had very little choice but to leave the service.

Howard Carter

After his resignation from the Antiquities Service he spent the next four years as a watercolor painter and dealer in antiquities. However, seeking private funding for excavation work, Carter became the Supervisor of Excavations for the 5th Lord of Carnarvon (George Herbert). While World War I delayed Howard Carter's work,  by 1914, Lord Carnarvon owned one of the most valuable collections of Egyptian artifacts in private hands.  He would eventually discover six tombs in the Valley of the Kings on the West Bank at Luxor. But Carter had become somewhat obsessed with finding the tomb of a fairly unknown pharaoh named Tutankhamun, and year after year, searched in vain for this the pharaoh's lost tomb.

In fact, Lord Carnarvon was becoming frustrated with Carter's efforts, and by 1922, issued an ultimatum to the Egyptologist that this would be his last season of funding. Confident of his eventual success, on November 1, 1922, Carter began digging for his final season and three days later unearthed the staircase to Tutankhamun's tomb.  After excavating down to the plaster blocks of the tomb, at 4 PM on November 26, 1922, Howard Carter broke through and made one of the 20th century's most amazing discoveries.  It would take another ten years just to catalog the artifacts from this one tomb, which are currently in the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo, though they are scheduled to be moved in the near future.

Lord Carnarvon
Lord Carnarvon

During this time, Lord Carnarvon died in Cairo of pneumonia.  This sent the already sensational press into a frenzy.  Media hype about the mummy's curse set the media on fire, and much to Carters displeasure, he began receiving letters from spiritualists from around the world. Legend has it that by 1929, eleven of the people connected with the discovery of the tomb had died, including two of Lord Carnarvon's relatives, and Carter's personal secretary, Richard Bethell. This would spawn mummy movies through the end of the the twentieth century and beyond.

After his discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, Howard Carter retired from active field work. He began collecting Egyptian antiquities himself, and became moderately successful.  He could often be found at the Old Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor, mostly keeping to himself. He returned to Kensington, England in 1939, and died on March 2nd of that year at the age of 65.

In: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/carter.htm