‘The Tsugua Diaries’: A pandemic-era masterpiece

 Admittedly, I found myself a watcher of pandemic escapism shows and movies, the most prominent example being “Emily in Paris.” Watching “The Tsuagua Diaries” illustrated just how a director can draw inspiration from something so unprecedented — the pandemic — and use it to create a masterpiece.

The movie beautifully explores Portuguese culture. The cinematography gives us a peek into the luscious landscape of the Portuguese countryside, from gorgeous garden scenery to consistent shots of over-ripe fruit. The soundscape was rich with 70s hits and the vibrant and musical Portuguese tongue. I found myself peeking into a culture that I hadn’t seen before for an hour and 42 minutes. Watching films outside of one’s culture allows us to see past the stereotypes that have been given to them.

The film simultaneously provides insight into Portuguese culture and rejects the format of standard American box-office movies. Our films follow a predictable formula, created by executives who cater to our interests. As a result, American cinematography is less than stellar in most cases. The quality of the film suffers.

“The Tsugua Diaries” showed that there are still movie-makers that focus on capturing a story rather than curating it to a mass market. This film is a breath of fresh air in contrast to what we are seeing in the mass market. They created a universe of a movie inside a movie that showed the reality of endemic era filming. The premise was Carloto (Carloto Cotta) decides to go surfing and unintentionally puts the production at risk.

It leads to the decision to construct a house for butterflies. The construction of the butterfly house is how the tensions between characters to come through. The behavior of Carloto is criticized throughout the movie arguably because of the choice he made.

One of the highlights of this on-screen dynamic is surprisingly humorous. Carloto is the flirting in the garden when his co-worker rudely interrupts him and calls him out for wearing socks. The two debate over the clear value of the socks with Carloto writing them off as not a big deal. This is hardly one of the first moments to come to mind when I think about humorous moments. The masterful use of little quips that almost fly over your head is something exceptionally well-done in this movie.

The last scene also provides an exceptional flashback to when they arrived on set and the discussion of the COVID protocols. The supervisor is wearing an N-95 mask and face shield but is wearing an outfit that looks like a garbage collector uniform. He gets into a heated argument over organizing breakfast for the crew. Someone failed to request the milk he wanted for breakfast. He questions everyone else and says that no one answered the email required for the order. It is revealed that everyone else responded except him. This scene deals with the realities of pandemic-era struggles but does so in a light-hearted way.

The highlight of the film was the fact that the characters went by their real names. The fact that the actors weren’t playing characters heightens the sense of realism and connection between the audience and the actors. The behind-the-scenes moments also added a layer of authenticity.

The spirit of Maureen Fazendeiro, writer of “The Tsugua Diaries,” was clearly shown in the film. We saw the inner workings of film production rather than the unreal depictions that are the norm in modern cinema. “The Tsugua Diaries” instills a feeling of love and admiration for the films that lean into real culture.       

Title: “The Tsugua Diaries”

Starring: Crista Alfaiate, Carloto Cotta, Joao Nunes Monteiro  

Directors: Maureen Fazendeiro, Miguel Gomes 

If you like: “La Strada”

Shamrocks: 5 out of 5

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In memory of Queen Elizabeth II

Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Downton Abbey, Queen Elizabeth II: all of them filled the walls of my Irish-Italian household. What was it that made Queen Elizabeth so important to us? What made her the one who led me to be named Rose Elizabeth Androwich and my younger sister to almost be named Elizabeth instead of Emily?

Queen Elizabeth was the person who inspired her country of England and stood as a figure of stability for 70 years.  Her father was King George V’s second son and became King when his brother abdicated the title to marry an American divorcee. It was then that Queen Elizabeth II became the next in line for the throne. On the Buckingham Palace balcony, she greeted them with her royal wave. During World War II, she was the one who delivered a public address.

Queen Elizabeth II showed a commitment to her country throughout her life even as her family life changed drastically overnight. Her life changed forever when her father passed away in his sleep at the age of 56. Queen Elizabeth II was with her husband Philip, who was formerly the Prince of Greece before he relinquished his title.

It was then that Princess Elizabeth became the woman we know today as Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch. Her address to the nation showed how she wanted to be a person that the people of England trusted in. As a monarch of 70 years, her importance to England makes her loss even more difficult.

After her death, England entered a mourning period that would last ten days. Elizabeth II’s reign relates to American politics due to the considerable amount of presidents she met. From Truman to Biden, she met with 13 successive Presidents. When she met Truman, she was still Princess Elizabeth, as she was crowned Queen a few months later.

Queen Elizabeth, even after having met with several politicians, never shared her own political stances aside from two comments interpreted to be about Brexit. This stance is in accordance with the rule that royals must be apolitical. Queen Elizabeth encouraged civility and respect in the first speech. In the second speech, she reaffirmed the idea of respecting someone who is different from you.

Queen Elizabeth was more than just a figure of stability. She was involved in hundreds of British charities and helped raise 1.4 billion pounds. She was the patron of 510 charities including Cancer Research UK and the British Red Cross. The Queen promoted a culture of supporting charities with time and money.

The impact of Queen Elizabeth extends to her role in England, other countries and charities. There is also the cultural significance of her life. The television show “The Crown” follows the life of Queen Elizabeth II with some apparent dramatization.

Outside of the show, there is a discussion regarding Queen Elizabeth as a style icon. Most have reached the conclusion that she was a style icon through her use of bright colors. Additionally, she would wear one color every day from head to toe. She shows there is a connection between the royal family and style.

Take Johnnie Boden, an English designer who ships overseas to America and the owner of the place where I got a rugby dress with a British flag on the collar. The website mentions royal figures who have worn pieces from him. It is also overwhelmingly seen that clothes the royal family wears will almost instantly sell out. Queen Elizabeth reflects the everyday connections in the world.

The love for this woman is apparent in the public fascination with her life. Even the Welsh Corgis show how her life touched the world in a number of ways.

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‘Tell Me Lies’: A train wreck

On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the first three episodes of the new Hulu series “Tell Me Lies” was released. While the first episode begins in the present, the director takes us back to Lucy’s first year of college.

The director’s choice for bridging the past and present naturally presented spoilers. Even though these foreshadowing details somewhat piqued my interest, the decision to intentionally show the future unfolding didn’t fare well. Instead, it simply felt unnecessary. For instance, the tragic death of Lucy’s roommate Macy (Lily McInerny) lacked the shock value it deserved.

Episode one should’ve been stronger, but the following two episodes managed to create complex characters that were not only interesting to watch but you also found yourself despising them. Stephen (Jackson White) was a misleading image; he found himself in a dramatic love triangle with his ex-girlfriend Diana and Lucy. As the episodes proceed, we learn that Lucy wants more than a casual relationship while Diana is hesitant to take him back. In the end, Stephen effectively convinces them to stay with him. 

It is difficult to know how much what he says is true, and his friends fail to provide insight into his true intentions. Even though he may be a fascinating character, he is a toxic individual.

For example, one of the most difficult scenes to watch was when Stephen’s friend Wrigley (Spencer House) asks for help when studying for his economics exam. Evan (Branden Cook) apologizes profusely for not being able to help him while Stephen says he doesn’t have enough time. In many ways, I wish Wrigley’s storyline was highlighted. 

In the scene where Lucy writes a nonfiction piece for her fiction class, she feels personally attacked by their harsh criticisms of the main character. I found this scene to be funny because it made me question whether or not I should’ve sympathized, and it opened my eyes to the portrayal of Lucy as an emotionless character. She breaks up with her boyfriend the morning before leaving for college and all of her actions were not explained. There is no backstory, instead the director alludes to the difficulties with her mother. Her struggles should have been explored in a deeper way in order to enhance Lucy’s character arc. Her character is very unlikable.

Even as the series continues to progress I still couldn’t help but think that there should’ve been a different focus. However, despite being a train wreck, it is hard to stop watching.

“Tell Me Lies,” first three episodes

Starring: Grace Van Patten, Jackson White 

Favorite episode: Episode 3

If you like: “A Teacher”

Where To Watch: Hulu

Shamrocks: 3 out of 5


College Career Crossings Office provides students networking, career opportunities

The Saint Mary’s Career Crossings Office (CCO) will be holding a variety of events for all students to attend throughout the year. In addition, Career Crossings will also be holding events specifically designed for sophomores, juniors and seniors, respectively.

These different events cater to different needs in each class according to Angie Fitzpatrick, the assistant director of the CCO.  Sophomore Springboard will take place Aug. 31 6 p.m.- 7p.m, and both Junior Jumpstart and Senior Start-Up will occur Aug. 30 from 6 p.m.- 7 p.m.

The specific class events are “in person and actually showing them the tools they have at their fingertips, including their career app, which is where we go for everything, Handshake,” Fitzpatrick said.

CCO additionally gave students copies of the action plan at their first event of the year called “POP on Over to Career Crossings!”

Fitzpatrick said the CCO places an emphasis on important experiences that Saint Mary’s students have through learning. The CCO has been focused on expanding student access to essential workplace values in the past few years, Fitzpatrick highlighted.

“Communication is definitely first and foremost,” she said. “Learning about equity, inclusion… and we here at St. Mary’s, strongly promote that.”

Students have the chance to learn in a variety of different ways at CCO, Fitzpatrick said. One example are “Career Chats,” where students can go if they have a question on their resume or want to participate in a mock interview. Additionally, this year the CCO will also be hosting both in-person and virtual career fairs.

Students can also learn how to use Handshake where jobs and internships are posted. Handshake is a component of some events and one of many resources available to students. 

While most CCO events are tailored towards upperclassmen, the office also has plans to work with the first-years. First, the CCO will be partnering with associate director of student equity Christin Kloski. Additionally, the office will be speaking in first-year classes and doing events in residence halls, Fitzpatrick said.   

“We show them a lot of different things,” Fitzpatrick said. Including, “making sure your resume is up to date with every leadership involvement, clubs, if you [gained] new skills.”

Rose Androwich

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