Spanish Writer Eduardo Mendoza Wins The 2016 Cervantes Prize

The Cervantes Prize (El Premio de Literatura en Lengua Castellana Miguel de Cervantes), the highest Spanish speaking literary honour, has been awarded this year to Eduardo Mendoza, as announced today by the Spanish Education and Culture Minister Iñigo Méndez de Vigo. You can read more about Eduardo Mendoza in Wikipedia here.  You can find some entries about Eduardo Mendoza books at A Crime is Afoot. I highly recommend two of his books, his first book, La verdad sobre el caso Savolta (The Truth about the Savolta Case, 1975) and, probably his best known book, La ciudad de los prodigios (The City of Marvels, 1986), about the social and urban evolution of Barcelona between the Universal Expositions of 1888 and 1929.

Film Notes: The Distinguished Citizen (2016) [Original title: El ciudadano ilustre] directed by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn

AR – ES / 118 min / Color / Arco Libre, Televisión Abierta, Magna Cine, A Contracorriente Films Dir: Gaston Duprat & Mariano Cohn Pro: Fernando Sokolowicz  Scr: Andres Duprat Cine: Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat Mus: Toni M. Miri Cast: Oscar Martínez, Dady Brieva, Andrea Frigerio, Nora Navas, Manuel Vicente, Belén Chavanne, Gustavo Garzón, Julián Larquier, Emma Rivera Synopsis: Daniel Mantovani is an Argentine writer who has lived in Europe for over three decades, internationally recognized for having won the Nobel Prize for literature. His novels are characterized by telling about life in Salas, a small town in Argentina where he was born and which he has not visited since he was a young man with aspirations to be a writer. In the numerous correspondence he receives daily he gets a letter from the City of Salas inviting him to receive the town’s most prestigious recognition: the Distinguished Citizen medal. Surprisingly, and despite his important obligations and compromises, Daniel decides to accept the proposal and returns to his town for a few days. The trip will have multiple aspects for Daniel: it will be the triumphant return to the town that saw him grow up, a trip to the past where he will reunite with old friends, lovers and nostalgic scenery, but above all else it will be a trip to the very heart of his literature, to the source of his creations and inspirations. Once there, the author will confirm both the affinities that still unite him with Salas and the differences that will quickly transform him into a strange and perturbing element to the town’s life. The small-town warmth disappears at the same time that the controversies multiply, arriving at a place with no return that reveals two irreconcilable ways to view the world. (Source: Pressbook)  Release Dates:  4 September 2016 (Venice International Film Festival); 8 September 2016 (Argentina); 11 November 2016 (Spain)  Original title: El ciudadano ilustre IMDb Rating: 7.6. El ciudadano ilustre was selected to compete for the Golden Lion at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. At Venice Oscar Martínez won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor. It was selected as the Argentine entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Award.

Begoña and I went yesterday to see El ciudadano ilustre. We had heard some positive reviews about this film. It’s quite funny and I had good time. However it has seemed to me a bit  pretentious and not very well shot.

poster1_es_bigProduction Notes

The Distinguished Citizen exposes various debates which are alive in Argentina and the world. One of them is the rejection of the external view and critique that the protagonist represents, an author exiled to Europe for decades, to the nationalist defense of his fellow countrymen. The peaceful life, the exaltation of one’s own and the small-town point of view are an acceptable way of life in a small town, but for this big city author they represent the denial from a society to any idea of progress. A sort of open wound in Argentina’s pride is added to this conflict for being a country filled with important authors, but lacking a Nobel for literature, a topic which the film retakes by recognizing the protagonist as the winner of the award that was denied to Jorge Luis Borges.

Daniel Mantovani will embody, at the same time, the great satisfaction and pride for his home town of having an internationally recognized figure, and the rising denial that will reveal itself in the citizens, who at first are fascinated by his visit, as they get to know him more and more. Like it has happened with so many artists related to their home towns, the fascination will mutate into contempt as they begin to learn his ideas and positions and, above all else, when the contents of his novels begin to spread, novels which critically portray the small-town life in Salas, making it a reality that “no man is a prophet in his own land”.

About the directors

Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn are television and film directors and producers.

Their first pieces of work were in video art and experimental cinema. Many of these pieces were rewarded internationally, some of them are El hombre que murió dos veces (1991), Un día más en la tierra (1993), Circuito (1996), Venimos llenos de tierra (1998), Soy Francisco López (2000), Veinte Doce (2001), Hágalo usted mismo (2002), and others.

In television they created various original formats. Some of them are: Televisión Abierta (1999), the first reality show in the world –Predecessor of YouTube- which has had various versions worldwide; Cupido (2001), the hilarious blind date that topped audiences; El Gordo Liberosky (2002), a fiction in the form of microprogramming; Cuentos de Terror (2003), a TV show with the author Alberto Laiseco, which had its Italian version starring Giancarlo Giannini.

They founded and directed two television channels: Ciudad Abierta (2003), the public channel for the City of Buenos Aires, and Digo (2012), the public channel of the Buenos Aires Province, innovative proposals which expanded the reaches of the genre based on new television concepts.

They directed and produced the feature films Enciclopedia (1998), an experimental documentary film; Yo Presidente (2003), with interviews to presidents Alfonsín, Menem, Duhalde and Kirchner; El Artista (2006), about the complex and contradictory world of contemporary art; El hombre de al lado (2008), successful and prized film filmed in a house designed by Le Corbusier; Querida voy a comprar cigarillos y vuelvo (2011), from the fantasy genre based on a story by Alberto Laiseca; Civilización (2013), a documentary about the artist León Ferrari –only as producers-; Living Stars (2014), a film that retakes from a cinematographic point the concept of the program Televisión Abierta; and El Ciudadano Ilustre (2016), their most daring project and one which they have been working on for several years.

Source: Pressbook

The Hollywood Reporter: Venice Review

Film Notes: After the Storm (2016) [Original title: Umi yori mo Mada Fukaku] directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu

JP / 117 min / Color / AOI Promotion Inc. Dir: Kore-eda Hirokazu Pro: Kaoru Matsuzaki, Akihiko Yose, Hijiri Taguchi Scr: Kore-eda Hirokazu Cine: Yutaka Yamasaki Mus: Hanaregumi Cast: Hiroshi Abe, Kirin Kiki, Yôko Maki, Lily Franky, Isao Hashizume, Sôsuke Ikematsu,Satomi Kobayashi, Taiyô Yoshizawa Synopsis: Dwelling on his past glory as a prize-winning author, Ryota wastes the money he makes as a private detective on gambling and can barely pay child support. After the death of his father, his aging mother and beautiful ex-wife seem to be moving on with their lives. Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence and to find a lasting place in the life of his young son – until a stormy summer night offers them a chance to truly bond again. Release Dates:  18 May 2016 (Cannes Film Festival); 21 May 2016 (Japan); 11 November 2016 (Spain)  Original title: Umi yori mo Mada Fukaku Spanish title: Después de la tormenta IMDb Rating: 7.8. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

MV5BYWM2ZGNlZTQtNjA3MS00Y2JlLWE5Y2ItOWVmZGFlMTQ0NWIwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDgxMDU4NTU@._V1_Begoña and I had the opportunity to see yesterday After the Storm, the last film by Kore-eda Hirokazu. By this filmmaker, I had already seen before his film Still Walking (my previous post entry in Spanish is here).  Kore-eda Hirokazu presents another film that has reminded me very much to his previous one, both in its theme and by its slow pace. However, the end result is quite entertaining, the film is sustained by its good dialogues with some very funny sentences. In any case it’s worthwhile seeing it.

Award-winning and critically acclaimed director Kore-eda Hirokazu returns with a powerful story of family ties remade, drawing more deeply than ever on his personal memories and experience.

Original Concept and Screenplay

The conception of the idea for this film goes back to 2001. “After my father died, my mother started living by herself in a housing estate,” says Kore-eda Hirokazu. “When I went back home to see her during the New Year’s holiday, I thought that someday I’d like to shoot a story about this estate. The first thing that came to mind was a scene of walking through the complex of buildings with grass that had become very beautiful the morning after a typhoon. I had memories from when I was a child about picking up fallen tree branches on my way to school. I remember how beautiful the estate was after the storm.” From there, focusing on the events that occur on the night of a typhoon, the story of a family began to take shape. Kore-eda started writing the script in the summer of 2013. The following words were written on the first page: It’s not like everyone can become what they wanted to be. “I thought this was a story pertaining to such a motif,” he says. “So I made Ryota a man who works at a detective agency even though he wants to be a novelist. Not just at work, but at home too – where he is a son, a husband, a father, and a younger brother – he can’t do anything right.” The film’s protagonist desires success as a writer while working at a detective agency under the pretense of research. Although he married and fathered a child, he has destroyed his family through an inability to stop gambling. The life he leads both at and away from work is very different from that which he once imagined. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” And Ryota is not the only one… The same is true for the other characters we meet in the film. Kore-eda: “Burdened with a hopeless reality, and unable to give up on one’s dream – it is for this very reason that happiness remains unattainable. This is a story that takes an intimate look at the present of people of the way they really are.” All the characters experienced great difficulties in becoming the adults they wanted to be when they were kids. Even so, they continue to try and find a way to enjoy life, however different it might be from the future they dreamt of. “Incorporating the changes that occurred within me after my mother and father died, it’s the film that is most coloured by what I am,” says Kore-eda. “After I die, if I’m taken in front of God or the Judge of the Afterlife and asked: “What did you do down on earth?” I think I would first show them After the Storm. (Kore-eda Hirokazu)

Filming at the Housing Complex

Filming took place at the Asahigaoka Housing Complex in Kiyose, Tokyo, where director Kore-eda himself lived between the ages of 9 and 28. Residents who had known him would come to the set to see what was going on and to offer their congratulations for what felt like something of a triumphant return. “The housing estate itself wasn’t able to become what it wanted to be, either.” Kore-eda said this because this complex that was built all over Japan as multiple dwelling homes that everyone wanted at one time has issues with dilapidation and aging of its residents, encountering conditions different from what was initially imagined. Along with a sense  of nostalgia, Kore-eda shows us an overlapping of the seclusion of the housing estate with the sadness of characters who have been unable to become what they wanted to be. The portrayal of people living their daily lives is similar to Still Walking, but  a story set in a housing complex gives a more down-to-earth perspective. Kore-eda:  “In Still Walking, the parents’ home was a private clinic, the setting was affluent,  so perhaps there was some sort of link to Ozu. But as for the worldview this time around, the setting is a housing estate, and the character’s lifestyle is lower key, duller in color.  I get the feeling it somewhat resembles Naruse Mikio.”

Director / Writer / Editor: Kore-eda Hirokazu

Born 1962 in Tokyo, Japan. After graduating from Waseda University in 1987, Kore-eda joined TV Man Union where he directed several prize-winning documentary programs.  In 2014, he launched his production company Bun-Buku. In 1995, his directorial debut, Maborosi, based on the original novel by Miyamoto Teru, won the 52nd Venice International Film Festival’s Golden Osella. After Life (1998), distributed in over 30 countries, brought Kore-eda international acclaim. In 2001, Distance was selected in Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival, and the star of his fourth work Nobody Knows (2004), Yagira Yuya garnered much attention for becoming the youngest person ever to receive the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Actor Award. In 2006, Hana, a film centered on vengeance, became his first attempt at a period piece.  In 2008, he presented the family drama Still Walking, which reflected his own personal experiences, and received high praise from around the world. In 2009, Air Doll made its world premiere in Un Certain Regard at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and was widely-praised for marking a new frontier in its depiction of a sensual love fantasy. In 2011, I Wish won the Best Screenplay Award at the 59th San Sebastian International Film Festival. In 2012, he made his TV series directorial debut with Going Home. Like Father, Like Son (2013), winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, received the audience awards at San Sebastian, Vancouver, and Sao Paulo International Film Festivals and broke the box office records of his previous films in many territories.  In 2015, Our Little Sister premiered in Competition at  the Cannes Film Festival, and received five awards including Best Film and Best Director at Japan Academy Prize, as well as the Jury Prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival.. Kore-eda has also produced films for young Japanese directors. Kakuto, directed by Iseya Yusuke, premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2003. Wid Berries (2003) was written and directed by Nishikawa Miwa whose second feature Sway premiered in Director’s Fortnight at Cannes in 2006. Ending Note: Death of a Japanese Salesman (2011) by Sunada Mami moved audiences worldwide.

(Source: Cannes Festival Press Release)

Film review at The Hollywood Reporter

Review: Maigret at Picratt’s, 1951(Inspector Maigret #36) by Georges Simenon. Trans: William Hobson

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Penguin Classics, 2016. Format: Paperback edition. First published in French as Maigret au Picratt’s by Presses de la Cité, 1951.This translation first published in 2016 by William Hobson. ISBN: 978 0 241 24028 1. 192 pages.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707Synopsis: Arlette, a beautiful young dancer at Picratt’s in Montmartre reports to her local police station that she overheard two men at her club talking about planning to kill a countess. The police don’t think much of the claim—that is, until a few hours later when Arlette is found in her room, strangled to death. The police scramble to track down the men in question, but the next day the Countess von Farnheim, a drug addict living not far from Picratt’s, is found strangled. When Arlette’s own identity turns out to have been falsified, Inspector Maigret steps in and must dive into Paris’s seedy underbelly to discover the truth—before the killers can slip away.

Maigret au Picratt’s was originally published by Presses de la Cité in 1951, and was later translated into English by Cornelia Schaeffer as Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper and by Daphne Woodward as Maigret in Montmartre. This new translation by William Hobson has been published in 2016 within Penguin Books’ project of publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. The novel has been adapted several times for TV and film.

My take:  The synopsis, taken from the publicity page at Penguin Random House, needs little further explanation. As any casual or regular reader of this blog can easily find out, I’m a big fan of Georges Simenon and of Maigret series in particular, and this book is among his best. I particularly enjoyed Simenon’s hability to show the reader the hidden aspects of Paris nightlife, openly and without any charm or glamour. As I’ve read somewhere, Maigret explains the events in an imparcial manner, making no judgement of what he sees and tells. He is merely an observer of what is going on around, he draws his own conclusions  and he knows very well all the hidden aspects of the human condition.  He does not prejudge anything.

‘It was a little universe living, as it were, in complete ignocrance of the wider world. Everyone – Désiré, the two musicians, all the others – wento to bed when alarm clocks were going off in regular homes and spent most of their days asleep. And that’s how Areltte had lived, only really starting to wake up under the reddish glow of Picratt’s lights and coming into contact with virtually no one other than drunck men who has been picked up by the Grasshopper as they were leaving other clubs.’

A highly interesting feature in the story can be found when Maigret sets up his operational headquarters in Picratt’s, a seedy night club, from where he leads his team until the resolution to the case in the way which we are accustomed to in his stories. All in all, a fascinating reading, highly recommended.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the author: Georges Simenon was born in Liège on Feb. 13, 1903. An able pupil, he was determined to become a writer at the age of 11 and left school 4 years later. In 1919 he began working as a reporter for a Liège newspaper and after military service published his first novel under the pen name of Georges Sim. Between 1921 and 1934 he wrote nearly 200 novels, which he published under more than a dozen pseudonyms. Simenon moved to Paris in 1924, and in 1930 he began the famous Maigret series of detective novels, which he published under his own name. Through the dozens of novels in which he appears, as well as through many films and television adaptations of them, Inspector Maigret, of police headquarters in Paris, has become as well known as Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Maigret, a sensible and tolerant but not brilliant man with simple tastes, puzzles his way to the solution of his cases by patient thought and insight—all the while peacefully puffing his pipe. The added psychological dimension enriches the reader’s normal interest in learning the solution to the mystery. (Read more at

Maigret at Picratt’s has been reviewed at A Penguin a week.

Penguin Classics publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page

Geroges Simenon Website

Maigret au Picratt’s

Maigret of the Month: January, 2007

Tout Maigret

Maigret en el Picratt’s de Georges Simenon

Sinopsis: Arlette, una joven y bella bailarina del Picratt’s en Montmartre, denuncia en su comisaría local que escuchó a dos hombres en su club hablando sobre su plan para matar a una condesa. La policía no se toman muy en serio su denuncia, es decir, hasta unas horas más tarde, cuando Arlette es encontrada muerta en su habitación, estrangulada. La policía se apresura a localizar a los hombres en cuestión, pero al día siguiente la condesa von Farnheim, una drogadicta que vive no lejos de Picratt, aparece también estrangulada. Cuando la identidad de Arlette resulta ser falsa, el inspector Maigret entra en acción y debe sumergirse en el sórdido interior de París para descubrir la verdad, antes de que los asesinos puedan escapar.

Maigret em el Picratt fue publicado originalmente por Presses de la Cité en 1951 y ha sido adaptado varias veces al cine y a la televisión.

Mi opinión: La sinopsis, tomada de la página de publicidad de Penguin Random House, no necesita más explicación. Como cualquier lector esporádico o habitual de este blog puede averiguar fácilmente, soy un gran fan de Georges Simenon y de la serie Maigret en particular, y este libro está entre sus mejores. Disfruté especialmente de la habilidad de Simenon para mostrar al lector los aspectos ocultos de la vida nocturna de París, abiertamente y sin ningún encanto o glamour. Como ya he leído en algún lugar, Maigret explica los acontecimientos de una manera imparcial, sin hacer juicios sobre lo que ve y cuenta. Es simplemente un observador imparcial de lo que está sucediendo, saca sus propias conclusiones y conoce muy bien todos los aspectos ocultos de la condición humana. No prejuzga nada.

“Era un pequeño universo que vivía, por decirlo así, en completa ignorancia del mundo. Todos – Désiré, los dos músicos, todos los demás – se acostaban cuando las alarmas de los relojes se apagaban en las casas normales y pasaban la mayor parte de sus días durmiendo. Y así fue como Areltte había vivido, sólo empezando a despertarse realmente bajo el resplandor rojizo de las luces de Picratt y entrando en contacto prácticamente con nadie más que hombres borrachos que han sido recogidos por el Saltamontes cuando salían de otros clubes.”

Una característica muy interesante de la historia se puede encontrar cuando Maigret instala su cuartel general operativo en Picratt, un sórdido club nocturno, desde donde dirige a su equipo hasta la resolución del caso de la manera en que nos tiene acostumbrados en sus historias. Con todo, una lectura fascinante, muy recomendable.

Mi valoración: A+  (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon nació en Lieja el 13 de febrero de 1903. Un alumno capaz, estaba decidido a convertirse en escritor a la edad de 11 años y abandonó la escuela 4 años después. En 1919 comenzó a trabajar como reportero para un periódico de Lieja y después del servicio militar publicó su primera novela bajo el seudónimo de Georges Sim. Entre 1921 y 1934 escribió casi 200 novelas, que publicó bajo más de una docena de seudónimos. Simenon se trasladó a París en 1924, y en el 1930 comenzó la famosa serie de novelas policíacas de Maigret, que publicó bajo su propio nombre. A través de las decenas de novelas en las que aparece, así como a través de las muchas películas y adaptaciones de televisión de ellas, el inspector Maigret, de la jefatura de policía de París, se ha convertido en un personaje tan conocido como  Sherlock Holmes de Arthur Conan Doyle. Maigret, un hombre sensible y tolerante, pero no brillante, con gustos simples, consigue solucionar sus casos de forma desconcertante por medio de una reflexión y perspicacia paciente, echando pacíficas bocanadas a su pipa. La dimensión psicológica añadida enriquece el interés normal del lector en conocer la solución del misterio. (Mi traducción libre).

OT: Help Me Make It Through The Night

Help Me Make It Through The Night” is a country music ballad written and composed by Kris Kristofferson and released on his 1970 album Kristofferson . Kristofferson said that he got the inspiration for the song from an Esquire magazine interview with Frank Sinatra. When asked what he believed in, Frank replied, “Booze, broads, or a bible…whatever helps me make it through the night.” (Source: Wikipedia). It’s been recorded by several artists. Below you may find some of my favourite versions.

Take the ribbon from your hair,
Shake it loose and let it fall,
Layin’ soft upon my skin.
Like the shadows on the wall.
Come and lay down by my side
’till the early morning light
All I’m takin’ is your time.
Help me make it through the night.
I don’t care what’s right or wrong,
I don’t try to understand.
Let the devil take tomorrow.
Lord, tonight I need a friend.
Yesterday is dead and gone
And tomorrow’s out of sight.
And it’s sad to be alone.
Help me make it through the night.
I don’t care what’s right or wrong,
I don’t try to understand.
Let the devil take tomorrow.
Lord, tonight I need a friend.
Yesterday is dead and gone
And tomorrow’s out of sight.
Lord, it’s bad to be alone.
Help me make it through the night.


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