Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Posts Tagged ‘magic realism

Steampunk Shootout!

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Written by Titirangi Storyteller

07/11/2013 at 11:18 am

Nymphs in the moonlight ever after

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The dance goes on
forever and ever
in the moonlight
in the garden
in the hearts
of the dancers
even after
the moonlight
and the garden
and the hearts
of the dancers
have faded away
forever and ever


Written by Titirangi Storyteller

21/06/2012 at 11:18 pm

Cartagena Again

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02/10/2010 at 10:59 pm

Posted in Writing

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Once Upon a Time in Mexico – revisited

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I have a secret love for action flicks – and there are those in my collection I can watch over and over and never ever get bored.

It hit me about half an hour into Once Upon a Time in Mexico that this might be the perfect date flick – as long as you’ve got the stomach for heaps of cartoon violence. For chicks, you’ve got Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, Enrique Iglesias, Ruben Blades and bad boys Mickey Rourke and Willem Dafoe. For the blokes there’s non-stop action, shootouts, hi-jinks and some very memorable cameos from the incomparable Salma Hayek. And, there’s also one hell of story.

This, the third film in his Mariachi trilogy, is clearly director Robert Rodriguez’ baby. The first, El Mariachi, came in 1992, made on a budget of US$7,000. The second, Desperado, followed three years later, also written, produced, directed, scored, and ‘chopped’ by the director of the Spy Kids series. Though it is the third of the trilogy, the film stands on its own: fans may want to go back and uncover the earlier story, it’s not necessary to understanding this film. Come to think of it, Hayak’s character dies in Desperado but she’s back and hotter than ever here. So seeing the first two is strictly optional. They are out on DVD as a 2-disc set – should you go looking.

Sands contemplating the perfect puerco pibil

A Hollywood outsider by choice, Rodriguez works from an elaborate home studio in Austin, Texas, putting his films together with more can-do creativity than professional glitz. He shot Once Upon a Time in Mexico himself, in Mexico with a high-definition video camera.

A meltingly handsome Antonio Banderas plays El Mariachi, a gunslinger-guitar hero: a living legend – part man, part spirit. Then there’s Johnny Depp as Sands, a casually corrupt CIA agent with a penchant for disguise and chef-murdering, who recruits El Mariachi to foil a coup planned by the fascist General Marquez (Gerardo Vigil) with the help of drug lord Barillo (Willem Dafoe at his most sinister.) Where Banderas is all smouldering passion, Depp is indifferent. It’s a shame we don’t get more of Salma Hayek, but what we do get is unforgettable – the hottest woman on the planet.

Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi

Rodriguez takes full advantage of the small video camera, diving into the middle of the action. Careening at a dizzying pace; he becomes the camera, looking everywhere at once. And when he gets his footage to the chopping block he ups the ante, so the film is a Tasmanian Devil of a dervish, and you have the distinct sense that anything can happen. Yes, it is violent, but odd as it may seem, there is a joyful playfulness to it – blood that looks like raspberry sauce and the odd sense that Yosemite Sam might turn up any second, six-guns blasting. There is so much humour and plain silliness in the script and in Depp’s character (who actually asks a recruit, “Are you a Mexi-can or a Mexi-can’t?”), Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a tasty piece of eye candy. Highly recommended.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

18/05/2010 at 10:06 pm

Pan’s Labyrinth

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untitledIt’s 1944, five years after the end of  Spanish Civil. The close of WWII in Europe is at hand.

Ten year old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her heavily pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) travel to a remote fascist outpost in the Spanish forest, where they will join her new husband, Capitán Vidal (Sergi López). A ruthless man, he is charged with dispensing the last of the rebels. Despite the risks to her health, he has insisted she give birth to his son where he is.

Capitán despises stepdaughter Ofelia, not least for her love of fairy tales. But deep in the woods, Ofelia has met a wondrous faun, who has given her three tasks to complete to prove her character. If she passes, she will be returned as a princess to her true home deep in the earth. Can she do it? Or will Capitán and the horrors of the real world devour her first?

pans_labyrinth_xl_04-film-aThis is one of those rare movies that pulls you into its heart so you share the suffering of each the characters. It is savagely brutal in the way classic fairy tales usually are, though this is balanced by the beauty of the otherworld.  (Note – this flick is much too violent for young viewers to handle! Don’t be misled by the little girl on the cover.)

pans-labyrinth-picsGuillermo Del Toro is a master of fantasy. In Blade II (2002) and Hellboy (2004) he brought comic book characters to life. Here he draws on his passionate love of classic fairy tales to create his own fantasy world, so delicately crafted the CGI special effects blend seamlessly and you are simply dazzled by all that unfolds.

pans-labyrinth-1The two-disc set is loaded with special features, including making of featurettes on set and costume design, cast and crew interviews, commentaries, storyboards and more. One of my favourite movies of all time.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

14/04/2010 at 8:12 am

String of Pearls

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This is the very first story I ever had published, back in the mid 90’s. I often ask folks what they think it is ‘really’ about…

pearls2It is in the square, in the middle of our town; with the white clapboard church our mothers dress up for on Sunday, donning long white gloves with tiny pearl buttons that close tightly around their wrists; with the church we spent Sundays gazing through narrow windows at the crisp wild day beyond; with the church we no longer belong in standing, towering behind us broad and tall and white, that I see it. The spot. Like a splotch of chocolate ice cream or a small splash of mud on my lover’s cheek. I reach forward, extending my thumb to rub it away. He recoils as though my finger were a white hot poker sent to burn him.

“Does it hurt?” I ask. “No. No, it doesn’t hurt.” He turns so I can’t see his face and runs across the green. I run after him, blades of grass catching between my toes as my feet race along, air slipping past my teeth, into my lungs, chasing until I hold him in my arms. We laugh and fall on the soft green blanket, kissing with wet tongues and curious fingers, whispering words only we understand. My lips find the spot, hard against their gentle pressure, unyielding as they tenderly probe the foreign texture, a foreign taste, strong and bitter, so my mouth becomes cold and numb. I say nothing.

In the night we sleep beneath the silver moon, its brightness illuminating his face with cold cold light. It has grown. The spot has spread across his cheek, small dark crystals reflecting the moonlight into my eyes. “It is bigger,” I whisper. “Does it hurt?”

“No,” he says turning away so his face is hidden. “No.” I sleep alone. He sleeps with the spot.

No more kisses. No more laughing. No more running in the grass. My mother says, “Daughter, come into the church,” as she buttons her gloves and powders her face. “Come.” But I run outside to dance in the sun, to feel its warmth on my back as I lean over the bridge and watch the ducks paddling beneath me, wishing he was here.

He is hiding. He is hiding, but sometimes he comes out to play with me for a little while. It has grown, cold and brown and hard, so I can’t see his face, only the spot I don’t want to see. I say, “It must hurt now.” He answers, “No,” and hides again. I find him in the dark, standing with his face toward the window, his silhouette cut like glass by the light of the moon, I see the shadow of his hands, his fingers gently stroking his cheeks, his lips, his eyelids, seeking a place the spot is not. “No, it doesn’t hurt,” he says without my asking. I know it does.

I stand alone in the square, facing the church, its whiteness, its tallness, its wideness, and look to see if there is a spot on it, or perhaps on the faces of the white gloved women, our mothers, as they climb the marble steps to enter the darkness they call light. Their faces are shielded by soft powders, shaded by white silk hats, so I can’t see, but I know. They have no spots.gloves4white

Only he has the spot that is no longer a spot, but a face, a new face I can’t see. “Lover, give me a spot,” I say, speaking low so my mother won’t hear.

“No,” he says. “No. It hurts.”

“I love you. I want a spot, too.”

He stands in the light and turns to me. I see his new face, hard, crusted. I am blinded by the light, which cannot penetrate that surface, which hates the sun and shoots it back into my eyes like arrows. He carefully unbuttons his old brown shirt and lets it fall on the grass, then his trousers. He stands naked in the light, dark against the white of the church, darker than its opened doorway. He has become the spot. It is all of him, a hard brown crystal surface with small holes so he can breathe and feed it. Small red rimmed holes.

I run across the square, up the steps of the church and enter the dark light. Opening my mother’s handbag, I take out her gloves, slip them over my fingers, drawing them up to my elbows. One by one I button the pearls securely into place.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

31/03/2010 at 7:38 am

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