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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) Directed by Karel Reisz


Nick:
I was just about aware around the age of four, it's about as far back as my memory goes, of a lot of the things that appear in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. I mean that in a sense of the cars in this film could still be found on the streets of Britain in the early 70's, middle-aged men had quiffs, obviously the overriding influence of Elvis and Jimmy Dean on popular culture still reverberating. Those same middle-aged men were wearing the late 50's tailored suit style as opposed to the Hippy Look. Working in factories. Council houses. My father ticked all these boxes. He was an Italian version of Albert Finney's Arthur Seaton. Certainly that's how I remember him when I was four.

My father wasn't as angry as Seaton is in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Or maybe he was. Working class. Kitchen sink drama. It's this anger that still gives the picture its power. Forget Seaton's womanizing and boozing, that's his only way to crush the boredom and his injustice of being born the wrong side of the tracks. Seaton describes his parents as "They have a TV set and a packet of fags, but they're both dead from the neck up." Seaton's different: "I'm out for a good time - all the rest is propaganda!" or as Morrissey might say "Don't let the bastards grind you down!" Yes, pop culture has loved this film, even The Arctic Monkeys have got in on the act of taking their first album title from Seaton spewing"But if any knowing bastard says that's me I'll tell them I'm a dynamite dealer waiting to blow the factory to kingdom come. Whatever people say I am, that's what I'm not because they don't know a bloody thing about me! God knows what I am."

And that's why this is a landmark film and still resonates. We're all comfortable now, middle class, wanting anything we can get in our privileged lives. But the Arthur Seatons of this world still exist, waiting to tear down your dream-houses, pissing on your front door questioning your reason for living. Me? I'm with Seaton.

Astrid:
I had heard talk of the English kitchen sink drama, but never seen one until Saturday Night – Sunday Morning. If some Russians have managed to spy on the American way of suburban life á la 2000s, I feel like a spy entering the Northern English way of life of the 1960s.

This is the scruffy side of cinema, where glamor appears ridiculous and distant. The narrative and the camera are working towards creating 'reality'. Documenting the present in order to preserve the experience. It just so happens that in 2010 this 'reality' appears aesthetically more coherent and romantic than our own.

Arthur (Finney) is coarse and angry. Yet, he is endearing in his boyish manner. From the beginning of the film we gather that he is rebelling inside of his claustrophobic surroundings. He has an awareness of something bigger, newer and more free. However, during the course of the film his character becomes more and more tangled in the restricting conventions of his village.

Saturday Night – Sunday Morning offers excellent acting especially in the scenes between the main character and his older and married lover and then with his new young girlfriend. It is painful to see the married woman's loneliness as she considers abortion because she is expecting her lover's child. It is fun to witness the awkward exchanges between the beautiful new girlfriend and Arthur, as they develop a kind of love.

Will Arthur break away from the life ahead of him and move to a big city in the southern parts of England? The film doesn't tell. But in a way, many of the Arthurs of 'the real world' did.

Gang-style art theft: Caravaggio recovered from criminal group

Ukrainian and German police recovered a Caravaggio that had been stolen from a museum in Odessa in 2008. “The Taking of Christ” was found in the hands of a criminal group that deals with high value theft. Such reports reinforce our knowledge that organized criminal activity is involved with art crime. Authorities must aggressively uncover the relationships between criminal networks and art crime in order to combat this large, global problem that funds other crimes. Today's recovery by police is welcome news.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stretchy stuff

For about 8 months I have been faithfully working out with a personal trainer.  I like to say she comes to my house to beat me up once a week.  Seriously, this is the reason my abs are in pretty good shape today; they were getting a little doughy. 

Up until now I was wearing exercise gear which had really seen better days.  I was a YMCA member in the 1990s and sewed a bunch of tights/leotard combo outfits for my step class (stop laughing!).  Time for some new stuff.

In Montreal at PR Weekend one of our big draws was that Jeanne Binet and Émilie Fournier from Jalie Patterns were in attendance, and would do a sewing demonstration for us.  Jeanne set up her Pfaff Creative 4.0, and BabyLock serger and coverstitch machine and talked pretty much nonstop about what she was doing, with Émilie translating as she went.  She had prepared 6 garments and partially sewed them up to demonstrate the techniques and construction methods needed for each.  One is a new pattern (to come out before the end of September, we were told) for a dress with two bodice views.  This pattern will unveil a new technique for finishing and binding the edges (neckline and armscye) of a stretchy garment, without using elastic.  Jeanne gave us the preview, and it is a really wonderful technique that produces a stable and  professional-looking finish and, best of all, you do not need to fiddle with any elastic. 

The next day, Jeanne and Émilie took us to three of their favourite stores in Montreal for buying stretchy exercise/technical fabrics - Suzie Spandex, Stretch Text and Tonitex.  These are all located on St. Laurent Blvd, north of highway 40.  I had been to Tonitex before but would never have found the others which are located upstairs in a nondescript building.

You may be able to guess where I'm going with this.  Yes, I purchased some stretchy fabric.  In fact, I sort of went overboard...

But my first piece of fabric purchased in Montreal has been sewn up, along with a good chunk of fabric I probably bought 10 years ago.  To the right is the completed outfit. 

This is from three different Kwik Sew patterns which I have had for many years.  The top is from KS 1995, which is actually 20 years old (ca 1990 or as KS amusingly styles their copyright date, MCMLXXXX).  The unitard is rather fetching, no?

The shorts are from another 1990 beauty, KS 2005.  Gotta love the heavily shoulder-padded T-shirt (not) but the tights are classic - and super easy to make with only two seams).  

And there's a sports bra too, which is made from KS 1567 from 1986.  It's very Jane Fonda. 

I bought the patterned jersey in Montreal.  It seems to be a sort of cottony blend and only has moderate stretch.  The rest of the outfit is some lovely supplex nylon/lycra.  I love this stuff.  It feels soft, never fades, and wears like iron. 

I used Jeanne's new technique to bind the edges on the tank.  Here are some photos.

First, cut strips of a jersey fabric - you can use the same fabric or, as I'm doing, choose a coordinating jersey.  The strip needs to be about 90% of the length of the opening you are binding, and the width is a hair over three times the width of the serged seam.  I'm using a 4 thread safety stitch which is about 6.5mm wide (1/4") and my strip was 22mm (7/8") wide. The strip is cut along the lengthwise grain of the jersey.  This grain is more stable and the strip will curl along its length towards the right side. 

Sew the strip in a loop with a tiny seam.  Mark the quarter points on the loop and do the same on the edge you are binding.  Then serge the binding loop to the garment, letting the knife just skim the edges without cutting off any fabric (Jalie and KS both use narrow seam allowances).  Ensure that the binding will curl towards the seam (as shown to the left).  If you want the binding to be visible on the outside of the completed garment, sew it to the WRONG side of the fabric, as I have done.  If you sew to the right side, your binding will be inside.

Smooth the serged seam towards the binding.  Then flip the binding over the seam allowance - it should just cover the stitching.  The last step is to fold the entire thing along the seam line, and using your cover stitch machine, topstitch neatly.  I hope you can see how this works from the photo to the right.

This is a wonderful finishing technique for knits.  To the left is a close up of the completed top.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Serious Man (2009) Directed by Ethan & Joel Coen


Astrid:
A Serious Man was a very entertaining film for me to watch. I like movies with serious thoughts and events, but with humor in the delivery and perspective. I like a good narrative and I like to be left with unanswered questions. It is better to get questions from cinema than to get a load of clear-cut answers.

I also like to see ordinary life depicted, especially so when the ordinariness is strange or not so familiar to me. A film about a Jewish middle-aged family man is therefore a good choice with me. And I usually enjoy the Coen brothers (except for No Country For Old Men, which I thought was rubbish).

Up until I went to the USA as an exchange-student in 1999, I had practically no understanding of the vast cultural phenomenon that is the Jewish faith. Since then the diversity of religions, faiths, and spiritualities and their huge place in the every day lives of people has dawned on me more. Finland really is the la-la-land of Lutheran Christianity where it has been criminally easy to ignore religion all together and deny its effects on culture.

I am forever interested in asking the questions of what we are doing here and where we are headed in the universe. A Serious Man depicts a man greatly in need of answers to these questions but what do the rabbis of his little town have to say? Nothing helpful really.

The Coen brothers seem to be saying that the old days when stories and narratives told by our social leaders no longer satisfy us in the search for answers. Yet, isn't cinema just another one of those answering machines spewing narrative at us?

Nick:
It's terrible when you invest your emotional state and well being into something, even if it's important, and that something let's you down. Crushed, destroyed...no other words describe my abject disappointment. I keep asking myself every time if it's worth the involvement, so exhausted and drained I'm left feeling after each event. This terrible feeling has been bought on by Italy's exit from The World Cup. I don't take this lightly, it means so much. Well, I still have England to cheer for...

Still, there is something that connects the latest Coen brothers' picture and Italy's World Cup exit. There has been much talk of Italy being cheats, boring, negative and thank god they're going home and so on. Stereotypical observations on Italian football and culture. Of course The World Cup will be less interesting without them. The current Holland team, unlike Dutch teams of the past, really don't have any sexy football spark in their body. Dirk Kyt? The antithesis of sexy football (or football in general for that matter). Really, you'd have nightmares about the thought of Dirk going down on you, Cannavaro on the other hand...one can only dream!

So, back to A Serious Man, this film concerns a certain Jewish family in some mid-western town in 1967. It questions our notions of Jewishness to some degree. Leave your Jewish stereotypes at the door. Professor Larry Gopnik (the excellent Michael Stuhlbarg) over the course of the film, watches his life fall apart. Seeking some answers from his Jewish faith, Larry hits a brick wall where there should be wise perspectives on his problems. Things continue to deteriorate to the point of fatality. Or do they?

As the nudges to Krautrock littered The Big Lebowski and Simon & Garfunkel were knowingly referenced in Intolerable Cruelty, for A Serious Man, Jefferson Airplane are the musical touch stone. In this world, the Airplane hold all the answers to meaning. The mostly unknown cast excel here, a brave move from the Coens' not to rely on 'stars'. There are some stand-out trippy scenes, where the Coens' usual inventiveness come to the fore, but the strength of this film is in the storytelling. From the unrelated fable that starts the picture to the unfolding small town drama, the Coens have made their most personal film to date. One of the best new films I've seen in a long while, the Coen brothers haven't reached these heights since Barton Fink or Miller's Crossing all those years ago. So, in one word, A Serious Man is essential.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PatternReview Weekend in Montreal

Two days after and I'm still tired!  Meeting 50 or so other sewists, most of whom were strangers before the weekend, and spending two intense days with them was kind of overwhelming, in a very good way.  The organizing of it was somewhat tricky, but my part was nothing compared to the burden Anne-Marie (Mahler on PatternReview) took on so masterfully.  She should put this event on her resumé!  It all came off without a serious hitch, and judging from the comments afterwards, a good time was had by all. 

Deepika (owner of PR, for the uninitiated) has posted a very good account.  There are even some pictures of me in her post. 

Let's see ... I hardly know what else to add.  I was very undisciplined in the fabric-purchasing department.  Must do penance ... where's my hair shirt?  I must have some suitable fabric to make one in my extensive stash.  Seriously, the biggest problems with my burgeoning stash are (a) shortage of storage space and (b) shortage of time to sew it up.  I'm not confessing the details, except to say that I will never again lack for great exercise wear (assuming it gets out of flat folds, that is).  And I did buy two lovely pieces of wool to coordinate with two dress-lengths, which was a goal of mine for the day. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

FBI Art Program Presentation in NYC

Theft, Fraud, and Forgery: Cultural Property Crime in the U.S. and the FBI Art Theft Program

When: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Where: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, New York 10019

Description:
Art crime is a multi-billion dollar endeavor that affects collectors, dealers, galleries, museums and artists world-wide. The FBI has investigated these crimes for many years, and five years ago established the Art Crime Team to develop a cadre of Special Agents trained specifically in art crime investigations. Although spectacular thefts from major museums capture the headlines, most art thefts in the U.S. are residential burglaries and art fraud is even more rampant. This talk will cover federal jurisdiction, elements of the U.S. criminal statutes, international treaties and conventions, as well as case studies of recent investigations. Basic strategies for protection of collections will also be covered.

Lecturer:
Bonnie Magness-Gardiner
Bonnie Magness-Gardiner is Manager of the Art Theft Program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Art Theft Program was established after the looting of the Baghdad Museum in 2004. Dr. Magness-Gardiner coordinates the work of 13 special agents assigned to various geographic regions, and manages the National Stolen Art File. She received her Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Arizona. After teaching archaeology for five years, she entered government service as program manager for the Archaeology Program at the National Endowment for the Humanities then became a program manager for the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress. For eight years she was the Senior Cultural Property Analyst for the Department of State, implementing the 1970 UNESCO Convention against illicit traffic in cultural property. She also served as the program manager for cultural heritage restoration projects in Iraq. She has been with the FBI since 2005.

Registration Fees:

VLA Member Attorney or Arts Professional: $200
Non-Member Attorney or Arts Professional: $250

Attendees must register before July 20th and be on the security list to attend. Seating is limited to 30 people. (There is an additional $25 fee if you register after July 15th.)

*3.0 CLE credits, 1 Professional Practice, 1 Skills and 1 Ethics (Approved for Non-Transitional and Transitional Attorneys)


To register and for more information, please see this registration form, or register via phone at 212.319.2787 x1. For more information please contact VLA's Kathleen Mallaney at 212.319.2787 x12, or via e-mail at kmallaney@vlany.org.

This event is organized and sponsored by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cocktail Dress - Part Two

PR Weekend Montreal is almost over (sniff) but I wake up early in the dorms so have a bit of time to write this post and illustrate the completed definitely-not-black dress I made for the cocktail party on Friday evening.

Without further ado... some details.

The silk organza/dupioni both frayed terribly.  To keep everything neat and tidy I first trimmed the seams to get rid of the developing fringe, then (as you have already seen) I hand-overcast the seam allowances to prevent further fraying.  Susan Khalje's on-line course at PR definitely came in handy.  It's not rocket science but it was nice to have her illustrated materials as confirmation that what I was doing was expert-approved.

Since I was into hand-sewing (so liberating to find out that Susan K, like me, cannot figure out how to use a thimble), I'll just mention that I also hand-felled the lining to the neckline and zip (see left, ignore the slightly wobbly understitching at the armscye edge).  Before that, I catch-stitched the (trimmed and overcast) seam allowance of the neck/collar to the underlining to keep them in place (at right).


The most complicated part of making this dress was figuring out how to line the bodice, which has an outer pleated layer and an inner darted layer.  This is one pattern where I paid close attention to the instructions which did guide me through, although I had my doubts at points that the illustrations were correct or that the dress would turn out as advertised.  It did.  If you choose to make this pattern, follow the instructions religiously.  Some photos:


At left, you can see the right side (overlap) lining. The left side (underlap) is folded down and out of the way. You can see that there is an opening in the lining seam on the right side. (being held down.) I'm going to hand-sew the lining of the overlap at the SA, place the underlap on top, then close the opening in the lining seam to finish it all.

At right, I have pinned the left front (underlap) to the princess seam at the right front. This hides the right side lining which was already tacked down in the same place. Next, I will hand sew the left front down where it's pinned.



The completed inside lining can be seen on the left. 

Other hand-sewn details included that the lining is attached with thread chains to the hem to prevent it from sliding out when I sit down, and I attached a snap at the inside of the collar at the back to keep the edges together. 







And finally, some views of the completed dress.  It did not win a prize for me at the contest - there was very stiff competition!



Hopefully, someone caught a snap or two of me at the event...

Not-necessarily-black-not-necessarily-a-dress Cocktail Outfit - Part One

I got all excited for our planned Cocktail Party at PR Weekend Montreal, because in real life I never go to dress-up cocktail parties - and then the Vogue patterns for summer were announced and I chose Vogue 1182, the Kay Unger dress with draped cross-over front and lovely wide collar.

The red version of this dress is obviously sewn in silk dupioni and I decided to baldly imitate Vogue.

I chose one of those fantastic iridescent dupionis where the warp and weft are different colours - in my case fuchsia warp is combined with a brilliant orange weft.  This photo just does not do justice to the richness of the fabric in person but it'll have to do.

But first to muslin the pattern.

Normally, I'm all for cutting Big 4 patterns, but in this case two of the pattern pieces (the side front and side back) were not nested in the usual way.  This made switching between sizes (which I have to do with 2 sizes difference between bust/waist and hip) impossible, so I started by tracing these pieces.  Grrr.

Vogue says this pattern is "average" difficulty.  The reason is that it has 4 different centre front pieces - the full length right front (overlap) with pleats, the half-length left front (underlap) with a dart running from the princess seam to bust point, the half-length upper CF lining with a dart running from the neckline down to the bust point, and the half-length lower CF lining.  To test the pattern, I used the lower CF lining piece plus the upper left front.

I cut a 10 from the waist up, transitioning to a 14 at the hip.  I found that the neckline was gappy, as shown to the right.  That would have been very bad!  On the plus side, the lower front fit reasonably well. 

In the back, it was quite sloppy above the waist with fabric pooling in the small of my back.  At the sides, I needed to fine-tune the hip curve. 

I pinned out approximately 2cm horizontally at the neck edge and collar, transitioning to nothing near the side seams.  This required alterations to both upper and under collar pieces, all 3 upper CF pieces and the side front.  The mechanics of this were similar to what I had to do on the little top and jacket I recently made. 

To the right is a picture of the front with my pinned changes.

To the left you can see the changes pinned in the back. 

Next up ... to unveil the dress.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

King of Comedy (1982) Directed by Martin Scorsese

Nick :
It's been a bit quiet here the last week. Various reasons, work, work, songwriting, not being home, but utmost, THE WORLD CUP! So,watching football has been, when home, the evening's entertainment.

Just before the kick off a week ago, we managed to find time to revisit Scorsese's King Of Comedy. Could this be Scorsese's ultimate moment (and De Niro's while we're at it)? Prior to the sublime Larry Sanders Show and more recently The Office, King Of Comedy captures on celluloid a certain embarrassment and uncomfortable feeling that you often feel for people who are a little sad, think they know everything and are actually mentally ill. Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) is often excruciatingly annoying in his self indulgent fantasizing. He's the  flip side to Travis Bickle, aggressive in his assertion that he deserves a break. They have similar career trajectories. This film is so dry in it's depiction of fan worship and lonely people.

It raised a few questions in my mind. Although famed for his gangster pictures, it's just possible that Scorsese is at his best when he does quirky. Think After Hours, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and the incredible New York, New York I also wonder why Sandra Bernhard hasn't had a serious acting career after her role here? However good De Niro and Bernhard are, the movie belongs to comic icon Jerry Lewis, whose on-screen Jerry Langford comes over as shallow, lost and disinterested with his lonely celebrity life. His kidnapping is probably a boredom shattering highlight. I wonder if Langford can play drums as well as Lewis?

Again, New York is the back drop to the film, street life evolving around the actors. There's even a blink and you'll miss it scene with The Clash. Embarrassing and cruel, yet very funny, I'd love to see Marty re-discover his quirk like this.

Astrid:
I have been the warm-up act to Sandra Bernhard's comedy show. Yes, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
For two nights (or was it three?). There we were misplaced the both of us more or less. I certainly did not know how to rise or lower or somehow to adjust to the situation: very privileged Americans sitting down at their round tables, eating their 100 dollar lobsters. Think of the sound of lobster cracking and clicking against forks and knifes. And there on the stage behind a very nice grand piano, me with no jokes to tell at all.

But Sandra was angry and she made the audience know that she was being funny and entertaining, yet at the same time she hated the people at their round tables. Blue and white table cloths and very dim lights. She was scary and unpredictable and never at a loss for words.

She was a star. She had made it. She was wearing a Prada dress and Manolo heels and she admitted to seeing the irony right there. But nevertheless she had come a long way from being the unknown young woman ranting and raging in The King Of Comedy. She had benefited from the fame machine and on some scale what happened to Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) at the end of the film happened to her.

Success. Fame. TV, film, book, magazine. I, on the other side of the world, may still be trying. And I definitely need to rant more and learn to tell jokes.

BTW: I take this film very personally.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Simplicity - that says it all

I've been madly getting ready for PR Weekend Montreal, which mostly involved sewing my cocktail dress.  I'm holding back on showing it to you until it's been seen in person by the 50 or so people who are to be in attendance.  It involved a lot - and I mean A LOT - of hand-sewing.  That has never been my strongest suit but I'm trying to get over my aversion to it, and to get better at it.  I tell you - hand-overcasting about a million miles of princess seams, and hand-felling several kilometres of lining edges, facings etc. is a lot of hand-sewing practice, and as they say, practice makes perfect (or in my case, it improves).  The inside of my dress is VERY tidy (and the outside isn't bad either).  You will see it soon.

In the meantime, have a  peek at my latest quick knit therapy, courtesy of Simplicity 2369

I have more than enough patterns, believe me, but this one looked like a dress that would be flattering, comfortable, and suitable for so many outings - sort of like wearing comfy pajamas to work. 

The resulting dress did not disappoint.  I combined the long length, cap sleeves and buckle rather than bow tie at the left side.

It went together quickly, was sewn entirely by machine, looks exactly as advertised on the pattern envelope, and is supremely easy to wear.  I made it from a cotton/lycra jersey knit picked up on the sale table recently at Fabricland.  I love the vaguely architectural print (see the domes?) and the colours.  The only faint quibble is that the cap sleeves are a little on the loose side, but again, this is very true to the pattern envelope photo. 

In this detail photo, you can see the front drape better, along with the black vintage buckle I used. 

I can't even complain about the assembly instructions.  Simplicity included a long skinny piece to finish the neck edge.  You fold it in half, sew at 1cm (3/8") to the neck, turn to the wrong side and topstitch.  It's the perfect length to snug the neck in so it is completely secure. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Godfather: Part II (1974) Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Nick:
I lost my broken reading glasses just as I was about to write this. A serious hunt has left me glasses empty. I actually ordered a new pair last week, but they are late. So, my lack of specs informs my view.

Sequels never live up to expectations. The Godfather was a special film. Part II hones and improves the formula. It looks better (which is some achievement considering the first film), it provides us valuable back story with the early life of Vito Corleone in 1920's New York. It also gives us the most sullen, stressed, lonely and unhappy anti-hero in modern cinema with the character of Michael Corleone. Pacino is a moody sod in this picture.

De Niro is dancing as the young Vito in sharp contrast. The family is the thing. You also realize watching The Godfather: Part II  that by dispensing with Robert Duvall from the disappointing Part III (due to not offering Duvall enough money to reprise the Tom Hagen role), Coppola removed any sense of moral perspective from the last film. My only criticism of this near perfect picture is not enough Diane Keaton. She brings the quirk.

My father was from Sicily, so I heard the dialect much of my young life. De Niro's Sicilian accent is marvelous. What method. The final shot of Michael is one of the greatest shots of any movie I've ever seen. Even more special.

Astrid:
Admitting that I like Godfather II makes me feel guilty – it's like pizza and smoking and tight abs. They contradict my vision of myself. At least, I can happily report I was a little bored by Michael (Al Pacino) with his permanent frown by then end of the film.

But I was never bored with Robert De Niro as the young Godfather. I loved Diane Keaton's absolute misery. I cannot get enough of the Italian and Sicilian spoken by the actors, the close-knit family, and the insane measures taken by men to protect it. In fact, it's not just the successful cinematic storytelling and the look of the film, I cannot get enough of the monstrous politics of the mafia.

Some idiot in me feels safe on the couch when there is a strong leader of the family giving orders to assassin, when sons follow fathers into his line of shady work just because the honor of the family goes above individual needs. The idea that as long as my pups are safely in the same boat, the outside world does not matter can quickly turn to mean: we have to kill the outside world to keep the pups safe. And then: we have to kill the bad pup on the boat to keep the family safe...And I am still snug on the sofa.

Emotions do not matter, individual needs do not have a place, women and children are simply commodities (unless they are sons). Yet, revenge is sweet and always personal.

International Business Opportunities

International remittance company for sale
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Assets include US$50,000 in Panama bank required by law to maintain the remittance license.
Investment requirement: US$150,000
More information about remittances in
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remittance
http://remittancesgateway.org/
http://blogs.worldbank.org/peoplemove/


1998 BVI ready-made shelf company
A 12-year old British Virgin Islands International Business Company with nominee directors and nominee shareholders is for sale. Price includes payment of reactivation fees.
A seasoned BVI company offers...
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Investment requirement: US$20,000
More information about BVI companies in http://www.bvifsc.vg/


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Placements available to high end, accredited investors supported by a combination of high yield and short term investments. These private placements yield substantially higher returns than
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These are unregistered, uninsured securities and are appropriate for sophisticated, accredited investors only who meet qualification standards and minimum net worth requirement. This Information is not an Offering or a Solicitation to Buy or Invest under any Securities Act.
Minimum Investment: $150,000 (USD) or equivalent, in any major currency.


Small Caribbean bank for sale
Ideal for acquisition, significant shareholding, joint venture by a family office or Trading Group wishing to monitor control of their funds or by another bank. The Bank itself is run by a small number of staff with good contacts built over a period of time.
Acquisition price for 100% of the Bank is $3.5 million.


Merchant Accounts for Credit Card Processing
Merchant Accounts by banks in Belize, Cyprus and Germany, offer Credit Card Merchant Processing to foreign companies. Companies should consider Electronic Commerce as an "added value" to its particular means of making business, since it will receive unlimited advantages from a market that opens the doors to a world with endless possibilities and, what is better, to potential customers.
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More information about merchant accounts in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchant_account

For further information about these opportunities, email serious inquiries to info@ uspanamatrade.org

The information listed was provided by the promoters of each investment opportunity. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained herein is correct, we accept no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for any errors or omissions. This material is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute investment or other professional advice. We accept no responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on this information and we make no warranty, express or implied, regarding the availability of any product or service in any country. This information should not form the basis of any decision as to a particular course of action; nor should it be relied on as investment advice.

The information contained herein is not intended for distribution to, or use by, any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation or which would result in requiring any registration requirement within such jurisdiction or country. It is the responsibility of such persons or entities to ascertain the terms of, and comply with, any local taxes, laws or regulations.


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My status


Art Law class in NYC

Thinking of starting a For-Profit Arts Business? Don't miss this class tomorrow!

Space is still available.

Forming Your For-Profit Arts Business

When: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 4 - 6 p.m.
Where: VLA, 1 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022 (Auditorium)

(There is an additional $10 late fee if you register day of the class. Please fax your registration form in by 2:00 PM on Thursday.)

This class provides valuable information about starting an arts-related business. Covered issues also include: For vs. Non-Profit incorporation, fiscal sponsorship, selecting and protecting business names; the legal and tax characteristics of LLCs an publication requirements, partnerships, and type C and S corporations; choice of jurisdiction; financing your business; employees and independent contracts; and insurance.

This class will be taught by Elena M. Paul, Esq., VLA's Executive Director.

To register and for more information, please see this registration form.
_____________________________________________________________________
Since 1969, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts has been the leading provider of pro bono legal services, mediation services, educational programs and publications, and advocacy to the arts community in New York. The first arts-related legal aid organization, VLA is the model for similar organizations around the world. For more information about Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, please see www.vlany.org.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Paper Moon (1973) Directed by Peter Bogdanovich

Astrid:
We watched Paper Moon with an 8-year-old whose initial scepticism was soon wiped out by the little girl in the film. She is just nine, her mother dies and she is left with nothing except her wits and a hustling man who turns up at the funeral and is lumbered with the child. They become a version of Bonnie and Clyde.

I realize now that I was actually concentrated on how the child would take the film rather than anything else. She went from thinking the girl was a boy to thinking she's very pretty as a girl. She admired the girl for smoking in bed (!) and for yelling at her companion in public. The undercurrent here is the question: is he her dad or not?

Paper Moon is rated suitable for 7 and above in Finland. Some of its content seems a little heavy-handed for small children, but then again, life's an adventure and Paper Moon certainly shows a good time to little people. During the movie there is heavy hinting that the girl's mother was a prostitute. The sexual availability of some women is central to the plot in other ways as well. There are no endearing little home-maker women in this piece. Then there is the dishonest way of making a living through conning people, the smoking in bed and the general shady side of life...

That's why the 8-year-old had tears in her eyes in the end, and so did her dad.

Nick:
Bogdanovich has had a recent revival. First came his cameo appearances in The Sopranos as Dr Elliott  Kupferberg. He then directed the excellent Tom Petty documentary Runnin' Down a Dream (2007). But Bogdanovich has really been in demand as a film historian. Countless DVDs have his commentary, many books have his introduction, he's the man to go to. Of course, this is how he started his career, interviewing and writing about cinema legends John Ford, Howard Hawks and Orson Welles, amongst others in the mid-60's. He was also along with Spielberg, Lucas, De Palma, Scorsese, Coppola and others one of the leading directors of the "New Hollywood" movement of the late 60's and early 70's.

Paper Moon follows the Oscar winning success of the Last Picture Show and the Hawksian What's Up, Doc? Its a depression era-comedy starring real life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. 10 year old Tatum wooed me as the kid (and the Oscar Academy) her performance is the thing. Ryan does OK as the Errol Flynn type on the take, and the father and daughter have great chemistry.  Lazlo Kovacs B and W cinematography is elegant yet crisp. The script is sharp and the homage to 30's and 40's Hollywood is nicely pulled off.

Bogdanovich manages to keep sentimentality to a limit, and this original conceit of a road movie is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Bogdanovich has had at times a controversial and very up and down career. He could always retort, "I was with the young Cybil Shepherd" His movie smarts inform his films, but don't let that put you off. This is a small, almost forgotten gem.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Is it true?

The Sewing Lawyer can really hardly credit it.

Silk dupioni; silk organza; hand overcast seams.  What is the world coming to??

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pale Rider (1985) Directed by Clint Eastwood


Nick :
Capitalist greed is probably at the heart of most evils we come across or face. Clint the Republican once again makes a movie about the little people and that struggle. At this stage in Clint's career, his only response to that greed is violence. Yes, more contradictions.

Pale Rider is the least talked about of Clint's post-Leone Westerns. This is the middle film that forms a loose trilogy along with High Plains Drifter and Unforgiven. As in the earlier High Plains Drifter, Clint plays a man with no name out for revenge. This time he's seemingly a man of God, which the prospector villagers he comes to represent refer to as Preacher. Preacher is one of the coldest characters Clint has played, displaying little emotion, just a cool head.  He single-handedly takes the fight to the mining company trying to destroy the prospectors.

An obvious score from Lennie Neihaus feels intrusive. Some poor performances from some of the villagers. Otherwise you can admire Bruce Surtees natural light and autumnal cinematography (how radical this must have seemed in the mid 80's), and the way Clint focuses on essential parts of his iconography. The close-ups of his face, bony fingers loading the guns, the coat. Clint always looks the coolest cowboy in town. Pale Rider also references Clint's own Western career, from the Leone Man With No Name, to The Outlaw Josey Wales, even Joe Kidd. But the nods to Ford and especially Stevens Shane at the end are obvious.

Although the spooky intensity of High Plains Drifter is not so much here, the mystery is cranked as high. As is the Gothic, religious imagery, especially when the Preacher has to face down the 7 Marshals. Apocalypse is a theme. Clint the lean biblical harbinger of death. After this violence it was left to William "Bill" Munny and Unforgiven's about face and the futility of the gun, a theme Clint has explored ever since. Pale Rider prints the legend, it's interesting, stands up, and is worth a look.

Astrid:
This is how you make compromises in relationships: you ask to watch a Woody Allen, and therefore you agree to go for a Western the next night. The funny thing is that I'm beginning to feel like a winner on both nights.

Seeing Pale Rider is much more pleasurable than watching Clint Eastwood in his more contemporary revenge scenarios (I know that Pale Rider is from the mid-1980s but it belongs to the original Clint genre). The aesthetic completeness of this film confirms that the Western is the genre Clint excels at; it is where he comes from and what creates the iconography. Here the revenge and the unavoidable rape threat towards a beautiful young woman/girl (themes which continue to haunt all Clint films) are somewhat justified for the development of the plot.

I think that Clint Eastwood is seen through the Western imagery, as this same nameless character in all other kinds of films he has made and that is why he appears so all-powerful to the devoted viewers. When he fails in Grand Torino for example, or in Bronco Billy, it is against his unkillable character of the Westerns that people see it is as great and daring positioning of himself. To admit to weakness is the ultimate turn-on, right?

Only the special ones ride on polka-dot horses: Clint and Pippi Longstocking. And both of them fight for justice and have incredible powers.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stardust Memories (1980) Directed by Woody Allen

Astrid:
The relationship between reality and fantasy or imagination is what Woody Allen has studied film after film. He has a problem with reality, and so have many others around him, because reality rarely matches the stylishness and magical aspect of movies.

I have a problem with reality. That's why I love Woody. In Stardust Memories he introduces memories, the act of remembering as an important aspect of the real vs. unreal. Remembering could be the watershed, the invisible line between the two.

The portrayal of Dory (Charlotte Rampling), how she fills the whole screen and the view from the camera every time Sandy (Woody Allen) drifts into a memory, is obviously an idealization of the past.
Other people remind Sandy that she was mentally ill and only fun to be around with two days out of a month, but for Sandy she represents a loss of meaning, beauty and love.

To dabble with questions of the real and unreal is probably an integral part of working as a creative artist. I seem to constantly write new songs which negotiate somewhere between the imagined and experience in a reality. These states borrow from each other and end up with something new. Possibly with new form or a new perspective.

Often I have understood that others see my living as unrealistic and out of touch because I play with imagination. Sometimes I myself find it difficult to justify songwriting as a profession because 'the real' routine world can drift so far apart.

But in Stardust Memories Sandy gets an incentive to continue making films as some extraterrestrials tell him: we like your films, especially the early funny ones! Oh yes, then there is the question of who is Sandy and how much he shares with Woody Allen? And what I am saying is: that is nearly impossibly to answer – it's the wrong question.

Nick:

A friend of mine has started a campaign to stop Mick Hucknall joining the re-formed Faces as a replacement for original singer Rod Stewart. Too right to. Hucknall is rubbish, Rod the Mod is a God. I only mention this (rather tentatively) as Allen's Stardust Memories is for me the movie that contains the most close -up shots of faces I can ever remember seeing in a film. And not just any old faces, this is a gallery of misfits, rogues, freaks and the stunning beauty of Charlotte Rampling.

Allen's picture is part homage to Fellini's Eight & A Half and part auto-biography. Although this picture lands nowhere near the midway point in Allen's career, I've always felt it was. It could just be that it's post-Keaton and pre-Farrow, which adds extra interest. Allen plays a movie director Sandy Bates, who visits a film festival in his honor. While at the festival, he ruminates on mortality, his past and current love life and the fact that he doesn't make funny films anymore.

Obviously Allen was reacting to recent criticism of his movies Interiors and Manhattan which were seen as not being as funny as his earlier films. As we know, Allen has kept the laughs coming (mostly) and Stardust Memories is a very funny picture. It's also his most personal. As a rumination on celebrity, mostly Allen's own, Stardust Memories is a far more successful take on the subject than his later, patchy Celebrity.

But what really distinguishes Stardust Memories is the look of the film.  Shot in black & white by the wonderful Gordon Willis, Stardust Memories is simply one of the best looking films I've ever seen. Yes the look is European (Truffaut, Fellini, Bergman) but Allen's cinema has never had such an array of interesting shots or dreamy, surreal sequences in one picture. This is Allen raging at the world and its inadequacies. It's also his most interesting film. Often overlooked, Stardust Memories is the most succinct place to find Allen's regular themes and outlooks. A funny, beautiful picture and probably my favorite Woody Allen film.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Hurt Locker (2008) Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

Astrid:
I have discovered tense and threatening films as a way of anti-stress treatment: if feeling stressed, watch something more stressful and your own worries seem smaller. Or do they?

Unlike many films about war, The Hurt Locker is not focused on telling the narrative from a perspective of opposite forces. The core of the story is the daily work and routines that one deactivation unit in Baghdad go through. The premise is interesting and aims at not making judgments or political claims. I think the film manages to steer clear of these until the very end, but then it does deflate some of its own goals.

While it is an interesting attempt as such to make a war film situated in such a current and devastating scenery as Iraq, the obliqueness of an American director is simultaneously dubious. But at least seeing the movie and also its status as the first Oscar winner for a woman director, forces me (and others) to reconsider and remember Iraq. It is so easy to forget here in Finland and that I am ashamed of.

Ultimately, I'm not sure if an action film like this will work as anything more than a two-hour break from reality for most people. Unlike me, not everybody gets so worried about war when they watch a movie without politics.

Nick
:
After all the fuss about ex-husband and wife dueling for Oscars earlier this year, Bigelow beat James Cameron. Many claimed it was great that the major Oscars went to the the intellectually superior The Hurt Locker and to a woman director for the first time in Oscar history. Agree on the director bit, but regarding the intelligence of this picture,  I just don't see the great depth here. I was expecting so much more. The Hurt Locker is shallow.

Bigelow is a great action picture director. From Vampire pic Near Dark, to woman cop on the beat Blue Steel, Point Break was the first film that really resonated with the public. There have been disasters too, like Strange DaysK-19The Hurt Locker hits the ground running. You are sucked into the most intense sequence after sequence following an elite bomb disposal squad in Iraq. This is the power of the film.

Jeremy Renner plays Sergeant James, who against his squad's wishes takes actions to the limit. The adrenalin rush of dismantling bombs is the thing that keeps James going. These are empty lives on the screen. At one point  Bigelow tries to give James some conscience, but this goes against the grain of the character and lacks credibility. The facade of realism the film tries to achieve is broken by some Hollywood plotting. One worrying aspect of this picture is the non-portrayal of Iraqi people. They are a silent witness or compliant terrorist but rarely human in The Hurt Locker.

I think we've been here before.  Apocalypse Now, The Thin Red Line, Platoon and so on have dealt more powerful yet balanced pictures of modern warfare. There is nothing groundbreaking going on here. After watching this picture I got the feeling I'd just watched a very long recruitment add for the US of A army. It matters not weather Bigelow is a woman or a man, The Hurt Locker borders on offensive.

投資簽證新條例

投資簽證新條例
初到巴拿馬的人大多數都渴望取得永久居留, 漸
而入籍。 根據2008年第三條法令, 被喩為永久居民
的人是透過經濟和投資動機、特殊政策、人口統計
分佈和其他附屬類而入境巴拿馬, 及按國家採納之
特殊政策而有意願於本國安居置業的外國人。
在取得永久居留權之前必須先申請為期兩年的臨
時居留。臨時或永久居留都必須通過律師來申請。
根據簽證或許可證所擬定的條件, 申請書應包含以
下文件:
1. 經巴拿馬裔公証員鑑證過的護照影印本。
2. 附有批語或經鑑實過在原籍國家或居住
國家無犯罪紀錄之證明書, 又或者由申請
人之原籍國家駐巴拿馬大使館發出無犯
罪紀錄證明書. 此證明書需附加經公證過
的個人申誓表 (declaración jurada) 。
3. 由巴拿馬裔醫生核發之衛生證書, 證書必
須於遞交申請表前三個月有效。
4. 於國家財政局繳付$250元之移民費權利
申請, 另外須於國家移民事務局繳付$800
元作為遣返回國費用之保證金。
5. 個人申誓表 (declaración jurada), 可於
http://www.migracion.gob.pa 的網址內
下載。
移民事務局必須在六十天之內給予臨時居留或永
久居留申請者一個答覆。 如移民事務局發現申請人
所遞交之文件不全或有錯誤之處, 從通知的那一刻
算起, 給予申請人十五個工作日讓其補件和改正。從
2009年起, 若移民事務局於六十天的期限內未能給
申請人一個答覆, 將理解為申請人已通過審核。
資本投資者簽證類別
自本文截稿為止, 尚在修定最底投資金額法條。
根據法案, 將核發以下的永久居留簽証或經濟簽
証:
❖❖ 資本投資者許可證
❖❖ 個人財務許可證
❖❖ 領養老金者或退休者許可證
❖❖ 已退休之領年金者許可證
所謂投資者是那些應用外來個人資金投資的人
士, 除了被法律限制只有國民可從事之活動的例子
以外, 外來資金投資者可投資於生態、商業、工廠等
活動,或者投資於巴拿馬註冊之公司。 投資許可證
可於下列附屬類目取得:
❖❖ 以造林投資資格獲取許可證: 投資八萬元
於重新造林活動, 種植由國家環保局批核之森
林種類。
❖❖ 以開設大規模公司的資格獲取許可證: 投
資十六萬元只能獲許一個移民申請為自然人或
法人(每家公司只許有一個申請者), 如企圖違
法或侵法將導致被拒絕申請或者遣返回國之
後果。 同時必須遞交有關文件和收入或申請
者之外匯資金的銀行報表, 以及直接投資和必
須支付之最低社會資金來向移民局證明資金來
源。申請這種許可證的外國人必須是最低股份
投資顯示的唯一持有者。
公司可以是工廠或批發性質的又或者是
服務性質的, 只能是 “A”或工廠類別, 不是
“B” 零售業的就可。 同時必須達到以下要
求:
1. 至少雇用五個巴拿馬裔的全職員工, 薪水不
能底於法定數目. 書寫清楚每位職員的工作
崗位以及職責。
2. 按法申報繳納職員的社會保險金 (長生會)。
其他經濟動機簽證
❖❖ 以個人財政資格獲許可證: 這是為那些有
足夠的錢財來支付於巴拿馬停留時間之費用的
移民和其家人而核發。 為此, 必須證明有開至
少三年不動, 且有存額三十萬元的巴拿馬銀行
定存帳戶, 又或者證明有三十萬元的不動產, 也
可以證明前兩者加起來的總額有三十萬元。
❖❖ 以領養老金者或退休者資格獲許可證: 這
是為那些一個月最少可以領取一千元退休金的
退休人仕而核發。
❖❖ 以退休領息者(食利者)資格獲許可證:這是
為了那些入境巴拿馬而又已經從活躍生活退出
來的人士而核發。 該人士必須證明每月至少有
兩千元入息收入, 此收入的來源必須是因為在
巴拿馬國家銀行開了五年定期存款而獲得的純
粹月息。
特殊政治簽證
❖❖ 投資者也可通過於特殊法律保護地區之內
投資而獲取永久居留簽證。
❖❖ 於巴拿馬-太平洋特別經濟地區投資二十五
萬元開設公司的移民者可獲許可證。.
❖❖ 於出口加工區投資二十五萬元開設促銷廠或
工廠, 或者在其地區開設其他性質的公司之移
民可獲許可證。
❖❖ 投資客戶服務中心之移民可獲許可證。
❖❖ 投資十五萬於電影業之移民可獲許可證。
值得慎重強調的是有關的最底投資金額隨時
都有變動或上漲的可能性。
儘管這些簽證種類要求補充手續以及公司文
件必須遞交齊全, 然而這卻代表著一個更加安穩
的機會使新移民取得永久居留。
本文作者Álvaro Aguilar Alfú是中巴職業
協會會長及Lombardi Aguilar Group法律
事務所合夥人兼律師。 www.laglex.com
作者是 Alvaro Agular Alfu, 是Lombardi
Aguilar Group 法律事務所合夥人兼律
www.laglex.com

Alvaro Aguilar Alfú, Presidente de
la Asociación de Profesionales Chino
Panameño (APROCHIPA),
y abogado socio de la firma
Lombardi Aguilar Group
www.laglex.com

http://www.dbcstudio.com/pdf/oct-dic08web.pdf