Monday, April 25, 2005


Last evening I watched "Carandiru," the film by Hector Babenco. I had long loved "Pixote," his early film about Brazilian street children and their criminal but touching lives. In "Carandiru" the characters, criminals too, inhabit the most notorious prison (now destroyed) in Sao Paolo. An idealistic and committed doctor starts working in the prison, and gets to know the prisoners and their stories. But beneath the violent and ominous surface, each prisoner shows a very human side. But to me, it rang false, somehow. The stories were too sweet. These men were murderers and violent criminals, every one of them. And while they are human, they all somehow projected some kind of innocence that rang false in light of their crimes. Their stories were too sentimental, and while I am sure that was meant to contrast with the dark danger of a brutal prison world, it did not convince me. When the horrific riot took place at the end of the film, and so many were killed, it was visually terrifying, but I did not feel the human tragedy of it. It was too sensational, too slick, too sentimental. It lacked the simplicity and honesty of "Pixote," in which the story was more troubling because there was no gooey sentiment, and the realism was more convincing.

Or maybe I was not convinced by this film because I feel disillusioned with things in general. Last evening I wrote a post concerning my feelings about composing and the relevance (or lack of it) of my work. I posted it, then read it, felt disgust, and deleted it. I don't even believe my own words. So I just look for a way to pass the time. I have not been able to paint lately. I obsess over my physical ailments: my eyes, my arthritic knees. I would sleep all day if I could. Today I don't teach, because school is closed for Passover. I will try to work on the cello piece but I am feeling disengaged from it. I think that the only things that are making me feel like life is worthwhile are my relationships--Y, friends, my dysfunctional family--and that today I will spend my time pampering the cats, walking Mabel, and later, swimming.

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