Review of Birdman by Maritza Álvarez
"If you don't do something that does not terrify you,
why do it?"
-Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Prior to Alejandro G. Iñárritu's recent film Birdman, it had been too long since I watched a worthwhile film. También la lluvia or Even The Rain, directed by Spanish actress Iciar Bollain, was the last film that left me with a deep respect for storytelling on the silver screen. También la lluvia is about a Spanish film crew's attempt to shoot a historical period piece about the colonization of the Americas. Concurrently as the film is being shot, the indigenous population is organizing to protect their local water sources from neo-colonial government policies and corporate privatization. The film crew's producer and director are confronted with the challenging decision to either “do whatever it takes to get the shot” or to re-evaluate their principals as humans and do what they must to support the current indigenous uprising to protect the water. It's a highly charged political piece told with courageous directing and creative spirit. Right as my fix for film creativity was running low, here comes Birdman with a refreshing dose of cinema storytelling.
Review of Unbroken by Sandra C. Muñoz
I have always been intrigued by the subject of World War II, mainly because my father fought in the war when he was a part of the U.S. Army. My father's death when I was 10 years old deprived me of the opportunity to learn the details of his own personal battles during that time. He was a recovering alcoholic throughout the short time that I knew him and I suspect the demons resulting from his time in Germany were the root cause of his addiction. Even without this backstory, Unbroken is a magnificent story but, for me, Unbroken also connected me to my father. This is the story of Louis Zamperini who, to say the absolute least, lead the most remarkable of lives. From the streets of Torrance, California to the 1936 Berlin Olympics to the brutality of various prisoner of war camps in Japan in the 1940s, his life is a testament to sheer human perseverance, strength, and will. Just when I'm sure he (and I as a reader) imagined things could not possibly get worse, they always did. There were moments when I had to put the book aside because the severe adversity to which Zamperini was subjected was utterly overwhelming and I could not keep reading.
Laura Hillenbrand is an astounding storyteller. Her ability to weave necessary data and facts into these human stories is remarkable. In so doing, she provides historical context without ever muddling the intimacy and the humanity of the stories she has clearly thoroughly researched. This is the kind of book that never leaves you and that makes you feel that, in the face of all that is bad in this world, everything will be ok.