Do you know that funny video out there on the Internet, where two guys play kung-fu style ping pong making impossible movements and acrobatics while badly-hidden black-clothed counter figures support them, similar to Hong-Kong martial arts B movies from the 70s? It must have been an inspiring source for this totally exhilarating movie.
A former ping-pong player spent his life as a loser after failing the world championship at the final match and having his army-veteran father killed by the triads. But now, CIA recruited him to go hunt the triad’s boss, who is passionate about ping-pong, and he is determinate to get back his and his father’s honor.
To help him, CIA will have him attend lessons on a Chinese kung-fu style school, where he gets to know the true art of ping-pong, as well as a fascinating she-teacher.
This is a crazy movie and it helped me a lot on a boring 9-hour flight between the US and Italy. Not a masterpiece as Shaolin Soccer, but truly fun. And by the way, the Italian dubbing is even more fun.
I see there are lots of negative critics of this movie, they say it’s not worth an 8 euro ticket, but you know what? On a long distance flight I find this much more enjoyable than serious movies.
Balls of fury
USA 2007, by Robert Ben Garant, Comedy
While trying to invent a cure for cancer, a researcher inadvertently releases a virus that mutates humans in a sort of zombies attacking furiously everything they can. Manhattan is the epidemic epicenter and therefore is evacuated and quarantined, but the virus eventually spreads everywhere.
There is only one survivor: Doctor Levine (Will Smith), who is mysteriously immune to the virus and therefore convinced to have in his blood the seed for a vaccine. For three years he kept on researching a cure, hiding at night in hist apartment in Washington Square and trying to live a “normal” life in daylight. He’s alone tough, alone and saddened by the lost of his wife and daughter. His dog Samantha is the only companion in his endeavor.
I was in Manhattan when I watched this movie. First thing I was impressed by how realistically they rendered the city in a deserted condition. I could recognize several places and on wondered how they could remove all the crowds who usually walk there, how they could grow grass in the asphalt of the avenues and sand on top of the cars, how they could make it so still. Further, it’s hard doing a movie with basically only one actor and almost no conversation. Will Smith here did a very good job. We can clearly see what he thinks, even when he’s silent. Third, the plot (from a sci-fi book wrote in 1954) is fascinating. It’s not just action and special effects: there’s also convincing drama and the “a-ha” effect on seed how it would be like.
I read at the last minute they decided for a totally different ending because the original one was bad. Unfortunately, the one they used as a replacement is equally disappointing to me.
I am legend
USA 2007, by Francis Lawrence, Drama/Sci-fi/Horror
Few days ago I’ve been at the Madison Square Garden, arguably the world’s most famous arena. New yorkers simply call it The Garden, as if it were the only garden out there, or worse, as if it were a garden at all! Well, actually it’s not even on Madison Square. Thanks to wikipedia I discovered the current name is just a legacy from the original arena, that one century ago used to be located in a garden at Madison Square. Anyhow entering the arena is impressive: you feel like getting into a temple, a place where people go to worship their idols. Oh wait, that’s exactly what they do there!
The show on stage was a basketball match in the College Hoops league, between St. John’s and Pittsburgh. I went with Carla, a friend from New York. She likes college basketball and taught me all I had to know and something more, e.g. that college teams usually have the name of an animal (Pittsburgh Panthers) but St. John’s is an exception (they call themselves the Red Storm). We took the obligatory beer (that they served us with a built-in pretzel) and brought it in.
Before the match started an actual singer sung the national anthem, everybody standing, hats off. Pitts were much stronger and they easily blew out St. John’s 81-57, but it’s been fun anyway. The home team had cheerleaders, dancers and a fanfare band and shot t-shirts to the public during time-outs. Much fun!
Too bad I’m already back to Italy.
parking lots are stackable and cars take elevators to save space, or when walking down the street you frequently see nail salons with (mostly) women lined up just behind the the storefront, their nails being taken care of. So here I am, back in this crazy place again. First thing I did after hitting the hotel was entering the nearest Starbucks and have a chocolate chip cookie and a “solo”. I felt like a junkie.
This time I’m staying in West Chelsea, just two subway stops from the office and none the less a totally different place. The hotel has been derived from a 19th century building, part of the General Theological Seminary. In fact breakfast is served in the refectory. Believe me, I can see the Empire State building from the window and still I feel far from that in space-time. It’s not a mainstream place and you need to walk three blocks and two avenues to get to the subway (blue line) but rooms have just been renovated and have all comforts for a very reasonable price. I discovered I’m close to the gay district (which is bad), but I’m also close to cool areas like Meatpacking and at least I have a decent room (last time I stayed at the crappy Pennsylvania hotel).
This season New York is freezing cold. Wind can make you cry if you walk against it.
Cooking is hard stuff. There are recipes out there that would take advantage of project management methods. Take for example Cappelletti in brodo, a soup you can have in Emilia Romagna. To make it you have to prepare a broth with beef, chicken, pork sausage and vegetables, than save the broth for later and grind the meat together with parmigiano cheese, some grated bread and a little nutmeg until you have a uniform compound. Then, you make a mixture with flour and eggs, stirring until you get a compact and dry but still soft yellow bowl of dough. Then you make it flat with a rolling pin and cut it in squares 4-5cm wide. Then you put a small take of meat compound in each square, bend it and close it with a clever usage of your fingers, in the typical cappelletti shape. Then you make it rest for 8 hours, to make it dry and solid. Finally, you cook it in the original broth. Since recipes like this can easily keep you busy for a couple days, you should better get organized…