Generation Coca-Cola

Want to a new rock tip? Listen to the music of Legião Urbana.

The new film Somos Tão Jovens (We Are So Young) tells the story of Renato Russo, famed singer  of Brazilian punk/rock band Legião Urbana. Russo's music chronicled the angst of bourgeois Brasilia right before the Brazilian dictatorship fell in the mid 80's. Russo sang about the upper middle class working for the feds, and wrote about conformity, consumerism, and silence.  He wrote songs like Tedio - Com Um T Bem Grande Pra Voce (Tedium - with a Big T for You).

The high-waisted jeans and the wide-framed boho glasses look like something out an American Apparel ad:

Here's the trailer:

Somos Tao Jovens is generally surprising. For starters, it's been the best-selling movie in Brazil this year, and its subject is a bisexual emo-hero who died, tragically, of AIDS. To top that, the Brazilian government is the film's top financier. Russo is a rock hero, the identity politics curiously notwithstanding. And that's because his music is so incredible. Russo's music has the lush, larger-than-life belts of Queen, Depeche Mode, Los Hombres G, or maybe even Jaguares. That late 80's love letter yell, with a very natively Brazilian, home-spun punk feel.

Check out the lyrics from one of his most famous songs, Generation Coca-Cola:

"Somos os filhos da revolução
We are the sons of the revolution
Somos burgueses sem religião
We are bourgeois without religion
Somos o futuro da nação
We are the future of the nation
Geração Coca-Cola
Generation Coca-Cola"

Great art transcends borders, and Renato's coca-cola generation is also ours. Certo? 


Dreamtime en la Casa de mi Padre

It’s the old adage: when something is horribly, almost absurdly wrong, do you respond by laughing, or crying? In the new movie Casa de mi Padre, the answer is a (mechanized, very fake-looking white jaguar toy) laughing.

Casa de mi Padre is Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna’s psycho-kitsch rant about Mexican drug war mania. Everything about the film is maniacal: the desperation of the comedy, the plastic gleam of the props, the exaggerated accents of the characters.

At points, the kitsch is overkill, and at other points, it’s magical: Will Farrell’s psychedelic spirit trip, led by said fake jaguar playing the role of a Mayan animal god, is crazy and commercial and expertly edited. It’s a yellow brick road down the mental hallway of a director duo gone (temporarily) mad: Aztec Somebodies walk over bloodied wedding cakes, a black-and-white clad Virgen Maria screams in sheer terror, bursting sound barriers and a bag of dried pinto beans.

This pipe dream about a good-hearted rancher who defeats the drug cartels, Gets the Girl, and wins over the American DEA shakes of the laughing, shivering excess of a kid on the wrong side of a sugar rush. It's the teary-eyed scene change switching 31,000 real deaths in Mexico for a fake bloody cowboy shootout. In the Disneyland deserts of Casa de mi Padre, all’s well that ends (mechanically).

Friends With Kids. And Problems.

Everybody has friends with kids. Everybody knows that having kids is complicated. But not everybody is brave enough to make a movie about it.

Writer/director Jennifer Westfeldt is. In her film Friends with Kids, she explores the increasingly common predicament of the late-thirties, unmarried, and aspirational woman who wants to have a child, but doesn't have a partner. (Hence the big Atlantic article All the Single Ladies.) Given that millenials are the most unmarried generation in all of American history, someone needs to address the scary but important topic of how people are going to about the business of family-making, unpartnered.

Friends with Kids does, but with a tense, scared approach. Although it is witty and engaging, Friends with Kids is unsettling. The plot preface is that the utter dysfunction of four out of the six main character's is due to "their kids," but it isn't due to their kids at all - it's due to who they are. They're spoiled and emotionally underdeveloped, and while the protagonist is high-minded, her constant anxiety affects her speech and even her facial expressions, making you feel sorry for her instead of rooting for her tough decision to raise a child by herself.

This unfortunately makes what was potentially a bold movie about alternative choices a story paralyzed by the terrors of yuppie-dom. The degree of neurosis at the heart of Friends with Kids makes Woody Allen look like Cary Grant, and Sarah Jessica Parker look like...Marilyn Monroe? There are, and will be, plenty of new American families with plenty of new, modern problems. ABC has an Emmy-winning show about just that subject. But on that show, and in real life, friends with kids don't look this uncomfortable - in fact, they look pretty happy, in spite of their problems.