Last Friday was the last day of a conference I was attending in Miami Beach. As I walked to the lobby of the hotel with my luggage one of the bell boys asked if I wanted a taxi. I said, "Yes." and he told me it would be coming soon. Less than a minute later I notice a familiar face entering the lobby. I was Horatio Sanz from Saturday Night Live. He walked out front with a friend of his. About that time the bell boy tells me that my cab has arrived. I walk out and it is pulling into the driveway. As I head towards it Horatio Sanz and his friend see it and head towards it as well. Unencumbered by luggage they beat me to it by ten feet. I yell out, "Horatio Sanz is stealing my taxi!" and he looks over at me smiles, waves and hops into it. I then waited for the next taxi.
That night I came home and was speaking with my landlords. We live in the third floor of their house so we see them all the time. I noticed the book "Code" by Lawrence Lessig on the bookshelf. The woman is a lawyer so I ask her what she thinks of Lessig. Her husband replies and says, "We like him a lot, how do you know him?" I thought this was a strange answer and explain that he is a bit of a geek celebrity and that I probably pay more attention to him than I otherwise would because he is at Stanford now. He replies that his wife performed "Larry's" marriage ceremony and that they often run into lawyers that have heard of him but never anyone who knew of him as a celebrity. His wife then explains that they are good friends and he comes by the house several times a year. Next time he comes by they are going to introduce me.
Cidade de Deus
Finally, I went and saw "City of God" last night. I have wanted to go for a long time since I have an above normal level of interest in Brazil. The plan was to go with two other guys, one of which is a film student. Unfortunately he canceled during the day. So the two of us that remained went to a local Brazilian restuarant for dinner and then headed to the movie. When we got there it was exceptionally crowed for an "art film" on a Wednesday night. It turned out that the co-director was there and some group from Harvard was hosting her. The movie itself was amazing. I have never seen such natural acting. The kids were especially impressive. I kept wondering where they had gotten these kids. The camera work was impressive as well, giving the favelas a bit of a dizzy feeling which struck me as true to life, having spent some time in the favelas. The movie was very violent, with a pretty huge body count, which seems true to life. I personally knew someone who was killed by the police in Brazil about two years ago. While I was living there I also saw the police shooting at a fleeing suspect and a man running off after killing his father with a butter knife over who got to eat the last of the beans. So the violence in the film is struck me as very real and not overdone. Afterwards Katia Lund, the co-director, opened it up for questions. It turns out that there was an acting project in Rio that involved about 2,000 kids from the favelas. They worked with them for two years on improvisation and acting without telling them that they were going to film a movie. Then towards the end they started giving them specific situations from the film to act out without telling them why. Then they went on location in the favelas to film. They had to ask the police to not enter the favela when they were filming in order for the people working on the movie to be safe. The film is amazing. Too bad my film school friend missed it.