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‘En El Séptimo Día,’ In Plain Sight

What follows is a transcript of a talk I gave about En el Séptimo Día for the Westchester Film Club, where I often deliver lectures on new independent and foreign film releases.

This may sound odd, but I am very grateful to have watched this film with you fine people. As a critic I embrace any film that does its job well, regardless of the genre. But I admit I most embrace films that shed greater light on the human condition. En el Séptimo Día achieves this and then some by providing a window into the everyday challenges of an immigrant existence that is too often ignored in cinema.

It is, as David may have told you, the first feature in 15 years from much-revered Brooklyn independent director Jim McKay. A few weeks ago when we were discussing the biopic Mary Shelly, I said that a gifted and empathic person could tell any story regardless of race, gender or any other identity marker. This is very true of McKay, who made his mark with two no-budget movies, Girls Town (1996) and Our Song (2000), which both depicted female high-school students of color. It’s safe to say McKay’s approach to filmmaking is classic neorealism, which I consider to be the opposite of reality TV. By this I mean that that through careful research, scripting, and casting he labors to achieve an accurate glimpse of woefully underrepresented subcultures. Continue Reading →

Not Even Eloise Could Sell This Story

I woke in this garbage mood, like GARBAGE–this, despite the fact that I have extraordinarily loving friends, and (you may as well know) a lovely beau and (you already know) a lovely cat and a lovely home and a lovely neighborhood and even a lovely car. This, despite the fact that I working on a book I’ve wanted to write my whole life, despite the fact that I have an amazing space within walking distance in which to write it, despite the fact that I live next door to the friendliest most delicious most endearing coffee shop, despite the weather being about as perfect as New York weather gets, despite the fact that I am healthy and strong and dammit very much alive. I woke up feeling this way because (in increasing order) our country is truly in its end-days, exemplifying every theory Marx ever espoused about late-stage capitalism and also, not unrelatedly, because I am worried about cash and also, I am sorry to say, because my favorite Meg jumpsuit disappeared, and it was that rare garment that was both obscenely comfortable and sexy as hell and therefore irreplacable and of course magic. This is a Capricorn for you–eyes on the prize but always obsessed SIMPLY OBSESSED with her things. Sheeeit.

Ferry Therapy. Fairie Therapy

The way I recovered my day when my heart was so broken was I leaned into the good weather and let it lead me where I needed to go. Which included city parks and four (count’em four) ferries for the price of one and dancing on the top deck with Argentinians and Swedes I befriended when the weather grew choppy, everyone clutching each other, somebody ducking below deck and emerging with tequila and o my the laughter so that somehow my quick trip from 34th to North Williamsburg ended up being a slow boat to Queens and Roosevelt Island and Gracie Mansion (irony of ironies) and the Bronx and then back, back, back, to Wall Street and Dumbo, the city drifting by in a reverie of freshly cut grass and building back-bones of steel and glass, and by the time I pitched back to Williamsburg shores, I had my grin back, if a tad manic. Then coffee under a tree with a longlost pal and long legs in bright sunlight and more tequila and ceviche with young(ish) people I dig and the whole time my cell phone

Carlos y Doris, de Argentina

hovering at 1 percent battery charge so I’d have it in a pinch but couldn’t really use it. Magic, really.

When people you love die, when you miss other people by a mile, you must embrace your city and your life with all the gusto you can summon. Be grateful for what still thrives.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy