64. Movies, Holidays, Mothers, Motos (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Buenos Aires translated means "Good Airs". Which is kind of ironic for me since I've had constant breathing problems since I've been here. I had asthma as a kid but not for years since, until I came here. I don't know why, the city's not too polluted (apart from the bus exhausts), maybe it's the humidity or something. As soon as I leave BA I'm fine again, but whenever I'm here I'm on the asthma drugs every day.
Summer holiday vacations here are very systematic. It seems that 2 weeks vacation a year is universal, and everyone takes their turn around January and February. So on Jan 1 bus stations, airports, and roads are packed as about a quarter of the population leaves the city for their vacations. Everything gets busy again (roads, airports, buses etc) as they all return sun-tanned and chilled out on Jan 15, when another quarter leaves. Feb 1 the same. Feb 15 the same.
BA City Council has done a good job keeping those of us stuck in the city entertained, with a bunch of free concerts, shows, and movies for summer '06. Near where I'm living they've erected an open air cinema and every weekend they've been screening free Argentine movies, most of which I've seen and enjoyed. And happily, I can understand most of the dialogue as they don't have English subtitles. Argentina has a thriving film scene, at least once a week I'll see trucks, crew etc filming a scene in the streets.
Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens) is still my favourite Argentine movie. I first saw this on DVD in Sydney. The story of a couple of con-artists.
Whisky Romeo Zulú is the autobiographical(!) true-story movie about an Argentine pilot who becaume a whistle-blower regarding airline safety in Argentina. The title refers to the callsign of a plane that crashed on takeoff in Buenos Aires in '99. What makes it remarkable is it's autobiographical - the pilot himself write, directed and acted in the film.
Iluminados por el Fuego (Illuminated by the fire) is an Argentine war-movie regarding the Falklands War, which Argentina lost to Britain in the early 80s. For a war movie it lacked grit and I didn't really like it.
La dignidad de los nadies (The dignity of the nobodys) is a great documentary showing that poverty still exists in Argentina.
El aura is from the same director and protagonist as Nueve Reinas so I had high expectations, it was OK but I didn't really like the ending.
Tiempo de Valientes (Time of the Brave?) is a great cop-buddy movie which I enjoyed.
I should also mention Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries), the story of Che Guevara's ride through South America before he became a revolutionary. I read the book a few years ago when I was into motorbikes and saw the pick in the cinema in NZ in January 05. I got to see it again on a bus ride here. As a movie I thought it a bit boring, but I enjoyed it for the scenery as I'd been to many of the places he goes to.
Another free event was a concert put on by Vicentico, lead singer of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, one of my favourite Argentine bands. Media reports said 50,000 turned up.
Another crime in the spotlight here is "the killing of Ariel" in Southern Brazil. South Brazil is a popular summer destination and in some towns as much as 90% of the tourists are Argentine. One night a group of young Argentine guys had a brawl and a bystander was killed - Ariel, another Argentine. Now, the killing of a young guy in a brawl isn't uncommon either but what's interesting is that 2 of the suspects are supposedly from a powerful family, which sadly could mean they're likely to get away with it. However, the media have been all over the story to make sure the suspects don't buy or bribe their way out of justice.
Meanwhile most of the country are happy about reporting of Foot and Mouth disease in some cattle in the north of the country, as it means Argentine Beef is being blacklisted by other countries. So why are they happy? Because it should mean lower beef prices for domestic consumers in the supermarkets! Kinda funny, something that would kill the NZ economy is a cause for celebration here.
One thing I finally got around to doing the other week was head down to Plaza de Mayo on a Thursday afternoon to see the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo do their weekly protest. It was lucky I went as the protest I saw was their 1500th and last, as the Mothers feel that the current government is no longer indifferent to the fate of the Dirty War missing.
El Chapulin Colorado (The Red Grasshopper). I felt like I'd hit the Latin American culture jackpot as I'd finally come across the inspiration for the Bumblebee Man on the Simpsons. As silly as it sounds, the Bumblebee Man is about the only time I'd hear Spanish being spoken on TV back home.