About the Blog..

My blog title, Ossessione, American Style, is taken from a movie by Count Luchino Visconti, who borrowed the plot of his astonishing debut film, Ossessione, from James M. Cain's novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Unfortunately, Visconti never paid for the rights and his film was not shown in the U.S. until many years after its release. The star of the movie, Massimo Girotti, would be People's "Sexiest Man Alive" many years running had the zine been around at the time. We first see him as a truck driver in a filthy sleeveless athletic undershirt, another of my obsessions: remember Paul Newman in an a-shirt (e.g. Hud or Cool Hand Luke)? Nowadays, they cheapen this garment who confuse it with something tank troops wore in World War I. The a-shirt is an undershirt, usually with thin bands over the shoulders; a tank top is a shirt without sleeves, akin to a "muscle shirt," only with wider bands over the shoulders. But, I digress....)

The purpose of this photo/comment column is to present a record of my obsessions. These are wide-ranging and diverse. This blog is not intended to be pornographic. The only pornography today is in politics.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gael Garcia Bernal

The first time I saw Gael Garcia was when I rented a DVD of the movie, Amores Peros, whose title was ineptly translated into English as "Love's a Bitch." In the manner of Pulp Fiction, Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu interweaves three stories dealing with canines into a film that took international cinema by storm.  With fellow filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, they pioneered a New Mexican Cinema with roots in Eisenstein, Bunuel, and Fernandez, among others, but with a fresh candid, stylish quality that announced to the world that Mexico was not about to be forgotten in foreign cinema. Octavio's seduction of his sister-in-law would lead directly to the wayward priest in Padre Amaro and the callow amoralist in Y Tu Mama Tambien, which ironically broke the bisexual taboo in Mexico but would be available on DVD in a bowdlerized rated edition, as well as the "Unrated."  The difference is important: the point of the movie hinges on our understanding of an epilogue in which Julio and Tenoch meet again in a VIP'S in Mexico City, and they cannot allow their eyes to meet. Once, drunk on tequila, and both trying to kiss the lovely Ana neath the fronds of a palapa on Bahia Cacaluca near Huatulco, these two macho males fumblingly kissed each other.  In Mexican cinema?!  Astonishly daring even for 2003.  And about time.  The rated version has no kiss, so the edginess of the old childhood friends in the American-style coffee shop has a dimension that cannot be understood without having seen the beso de putos.

Garcia started out in daytime TV, doing telenovelas, those curious all-Mexican (entirely foreign to foreigners) melodramas that really don't mimic the American version because almost all soap opera depend on family interactions, and if you marry into a Mexican family you find you have a slew of new brothers, sisters, &c., and then the stock characters are much, much different, usually including a shrewd criada buen criada who has more practical sense than the patron but shares it selectively to protect her place in the house, as well as that of her family, who are family now too.  This is definitely foreign to people in the States, who only think they are hiring a Guatemalan illegal to save money.  The photos of young Mr. Garcia are jewels, he was such a beautiful boy.  The older he gets, the less cute if you know what I mean.  But his stature as an actor is as good as Delon's if not better.  He has an expressive face that makes him equally at home in comedy (the bizarre, overly arty Science of Sleep) as with drama (the genuinely humanist Motorcycle Diaries, as with surreal psychodramas (the brilliant, tour de force Almodovar take on Catholic child molestation, Bad Education).  I think Garcia Bernal is a sturdy, dependable actor of considerable talent.  And part of it is his charm.

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