My latest streak of film viewing has made me come back to write for the blog. I don't promise to be consistent, but to at least drop a few suggestions here and there.
I start with the following:
Directed and written by Rick Famuyiwa, produced by Pharrell Williams, Sean 'Diddy' Combs & Forest Whitaker and starring wonderful young ensemble featuring Shameik Moore (!!!), Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Zoe Kravitz, A$AP Rocky, among many others.
And don't get me started on the soundtrack... Kicks off with Naughty by Nature... is heavy on A Tribe Called Quest... and gets it going with Public Enemy, NAS and Gil Scott-Heron.
Some time ago, I posted about the role that The O.C. played on the expansion of indie music for the masses. Most of us never heard about Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Shins and Bright Eyes… Bloc Party and The Killers were gaining traction and even some of the cult classics like Sex Pistols and The Ramones got their place on the show’s spotlight.
Despite having a sense of gratitude towards the Californian soap opera, I am now “morning” the end of show - maybe more musically relevant to generations before “The O.C”: David Letterman’s.
For the few of you who don’t know who Dave Letterman is, my advice is for you to look him up on YouTube and get acquainted with his magnificent work.
Talented writer, great communicator and incredible comedic skills have made Mr. Letterman one of the most prominent forces in the history of TV.
So why am I putting “The O.C” and David Letterman in the same post?
Because way before Seth Cohen and Marissa Cooper were engaging in their musical taste, Letterman was already getting on his stage a mix of artists that went from some of the most popular names at the time, to the unknown bands who would end up achieving greatness.
From R.E.M.’s first television act on his show, to Arcade Fire break out followed by the likes of The Strokes and Letterman’s favorite band Foo Fighters, we have seen an outrageously good list of musical artists… most of which we can thank him for introducing to the general public and therefore making it possible for a lot of bands being in our iPods.
So, as a way of paying homage to the legendary TV host and his colossal influence on music, I am leaving you this small article written by The Independent, which contains their selection of the Top 18 musical performances ever to grace us on David Letterman's show!
This Oscar nominated Argentinean film is one of the best funny things I've seen in recent times. I had no idea whatsoever of what to expect and maybe that's for the best... so I will avoid any sort of details. I will say however that, rather than being your typical movie, this is actually a mix of short movies with a couple of themes in common, all of which told with a very (very!) dark humor.
Maybe it's not your kind of thing, but I had a blast.
Magic In The Moonlight
Woody Allen's latest feature presents itself with a good cast and although it does provide good moments, it is far from being among his best work. By all means watch it, but I honestly don't think it will make worth your time.
Seen it before, but with my Mom in town, just had to see it again. One of the best movies I've ever seen. Incredibly well directed, great acting and amazing soundtrack. Should be on everyone's "To see" list.
This is Jason Bateman's directorial debut... and it's a great one. Sharp on the tongue, beautifully shot and with various moments that will make you chuckle, this is a great unexpected surprise as I had no idea of what was coming.
While We're Young
Noah Baumbach is back with another of his indie movies that a lot of people out there are bound to relate with. He's reunited with Ben Stiller after their previous collaboration in Greenberg, while also adding the talent of the incredible Naomi Watts, followed by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried.
Not entirely sure how this movie will go down in comparison with Baumbach's previous film Frances Ha(2012), but i can tell you right now that this an OK movie with good moments... but felt like it was never great. Maybe my expectations were too high... I remember seeing the trailer and thinking to myself that this would be incredible!
Having said that, you wouldn't certainly waste your time if you were to see this though...
As per usual, here's my "Best of" the year that has passed...
Unfortunately I won't compile a list of "Best albums" since I wasn't able to listen to that many throughout 2014. Can't really justify why... I guess I ended up getting my hands on older albums - which obviously wouldn't serve the purpose of this list.
In regards to the film list, there are going to be a lot of great absences, some of which I haven't seen yet (Birdman, St. Vincent, Selma, Still Alice...). Nonetheless, I can honestly say that this year has been really strong.
The latter needs a second watching. I found it tremendously overcomplicated and very silly at times, but there is a lot in it that can (and should) make this film a classic. Maybe I'll change my mind about it...
There you have it. As I said, 2014 was really strong when it comes to movies...and there's plenty more that need to be watched. Feel free to comment on these picks and share your own.
I was fortunate enough to see a
pre-screening for the movie Whiplash (2014) last night and I have to say: I loved it! Absolutely loved it! I mean, what a ride!
As I anxiously tapped my hands in my legs and knees, trying to emulate some jazz
percussion that was still lingering in my head, I became more and more desperate to get home so I could write about the film. But the thing is… I wanted to
write more than just saying how good it was. I wanted to write about all the
feelings that had stirred up in my mind and in my heart during and after the
First and foremost, I must warn you. I’m a
massive Jazz lover! I was raised in a Jazz family and therefore, I can easily
be considered bias. That said, I sort of feel like I’m able to have a bigger
appreciation for what this movie is all about. And make no mistake… by saying
this, I’m not giving my take on how this movie depicts the jazz industry (in
this case education system). No. Far from it! In between various things I want
to say how I loved everything from a cinematic point of view, but also having
in mind the brilliant soundtrack made of great classical standards such as Duke
Ellington’s Caravan that just filled my heart and made me think: "I am really
grateful for having two parents who raised me under the best musical genre of
all time". There is nothing that can ever reach the level of quality, creativity
and wild genius which jazz possesses. And hey, I’m not a fanatic! Honest! I consider
myself quite the eclectic guy. In fact, I
listen to other musical genres, some of which probably even more than jazz…
but that doesn’t take it away from how much I appreciate each note written in a Jazz music sheet.
So, let us begin…
(... and five, six, seven, eight)
The name of this movie, Whiplash – taken
from a tune written by Hank Levy – can also be a reference to how Terence Fletcher
(played by J.K Simmons) scars his students. His methods are far too brutal,
bringing up to mind how Gunnery Sergeant
Hartman undermined his troops in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987). Fletcher,
the intimidating maestro, believes that in order to achieve greatness, people
need to be pushed beyond their limits, doing whatever it takes to get his
pupils to that an elite level. If you break on his watch, even if just for a
moment, he will show no patience, no love, no mercy.
We discover this by following Andrew Neiman, a
19-year-old drummer who seeks to be the next “Charlie Parker”, or in his case,
the new Buddy Rich. During the 106 minutes in which the story unfolds, we
witness a real endurance test being applied to the young boy, hoping that he
does not fall into despair and that he can overcome the tyranny of his orchestra
It is just brilliant to see the level
in which their relationship develop and massive praise must be given to the young
and talented Miles Teller - who I’ve became a fan since watching the
indie-production The Spectacular Now (2013) – and to J.K Simmons, who will undoubtedly
be up for an Oscar nomination, that can very well translate into a win. The
veteran actor is just superb.
Congratulatios are also in order to Damien Chazelle
(a jazz aficionado), the man behind the script and direction of this wonderful motion
Chazelle wrote an 85-page script, but then
adapted it to 15 pages in order to make Whiplash a short movie, so that he
could attract someone to invest. After debuting at the Sundance festival, he
was approached right away by several investors who financed the long version. Among
those same investors is Jason Reitman, the director behind movies such as Thank You For Smoking (2005), Juno (2007), Up In The Air (2009) and most recently
Men, Women & Children (2014).
The young Damien got going, working with some of
the crew involved in the original showpiece, including Mr. Simmons. The 59-year-old
veteran, who at the moment I’m watching on a weekly basis with his terrific
performance as Vernon Schillinger in the HBO cult classic series Oz (1997 - 2003), was a
smart decision that obviously paid off, as he is probably the best thing out of
the Jazz themed film. But rest assured, there is plenty more in Whiplash to make
it worthy of various accolades, even if it wasn’t nominated for a Golden Globe.
That could almost be a standalone post, but I'm learning with time that such discussion is almost not worth it. I believe people’s perception about
the Globes and the Oscars has been changing quite a lot through the years.
They’ve lost all sense of credibility and therefore, is not shock to see
terrific movies such as Whiplash being left out of nominations. Thankfully,
word of mouth (especially nowadays with social media) is enough to get these
names across the world and attract people to the movie theaters.
Anyway… back to the film!
Chazelle is also a maestro on his own… showing
promising leadership “on stage”. His new masterpiece is beautifully shot and it
reveals great taste in various sequences / scenes that kept the rhythm fluid.
Through Fletcher, our emotions as a viewer are
constantly manipulated, like Andrew’s… It is by giving yourself to its
narrative and characters that you feel the moments of joy and pain, almost like
you are part of the story. I think the director accomplished that by leaving the
audience engaged with every single action.
Another great element here, which I have briefly
mentioned - is the soundtrack. It’s just the icing on the cake. I mean, what
would you expect? When you get to hear some of the greatest musicians, either play in the background or set the stage for a prominent scene, you
know what the results are going to be.
I really do hope that the music leaves a
mark on people, bringing them closer to Jazz. That each viewer gets home and learns
about Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and John Coltrane. Or listen
to more contemporary (but faithful to its principal) takes.
People often say: “Jazz is dying”. I do see
why people would say that… but I don’t really agree with Fletcher’s view on it. He believes the art
form is vanishing because of musicians who don’t push themselves enough… thus not
creating new “legends” that can continue carrying the legacy set by some of the greats.
It is my opinion that more and more people don’t really
get to hear the music that often. For one, it needs to be something that you
are brought into, as it can be hard for some to grasp. On the other hand, and
completely contradicting myself, it is also the music of the people, accessible
for all depending on how free your spirit is. The other issue with the decaying genre is how society has developed
with its musical taste and demands. Everything now needs to be pop influenced. A
lot of musicians claim to be jazz players, but in reality they are a shallow, soulless
product that used the great history and intellect behind “JAZZ” to sell their
work to a wider audience. Michael Buble and Jamie Cullum, of whom I’m a fan of,
can be seen as part of their group of people
But let me set you a better example in
which I will make clear reference to two festivals in Portugal: “Cool Jazz Fest”
and “Estoril Jazz”.
Estoril Jazz is the longest running jazz
festival in the country. It has attracted larges audiences to watch great
musicians such as Miles Davis, Keith Jarret, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet
Baker and so on… That same festival which was very popular during the 80’s and
90’s is now struggling. Why you ask? Because they are no longer providing the
sort of music that people demand. Because people are not interested in the old
school, vanguard Jazz. They want catchy tunes, stage dancers, cool videos… the kind of
thing that big pop names deliver.
Then you have "Cool Jazz Fest". I don't get why the fest is called like that. It
just feels awkward and silly when you call yourself a jazz festival,
but have no jazz names featured in your lineup and instead present Sting and
Seal… fantastic artists, but again, not jazz related.People don’t care though… They will easy pay
50 euros to attend that gig, but not spend 20 to watch a lesser known musician
at the "Estoril Jazz" festival or in Guimarães. They won’t even do a quick (and cheap)
trip to some of our finest Jazz clubs like Hot Club in Lisbon or Cascais Jazz
Because they are not simply into Jazz, despite their claims of going to a Jazz concert.
Apologies for the rant.
All and all, Whiplash is the sort of movie
that I would gladly watch it again in the near future. Not only because it’s
that good, but also because it would provide me with an excellent opportunity to make sure
others would watch it and get to know the art behind the cinema experience and
the music. It is a masterpiece that is neither rushing nor dragging.
Ano fortíssimo com grandes filmes na lista... Boyhood, Whiplash, Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma, Foxcatcher... no entanto... ha que mencionar o seguinte:
- Onde anda Gone Girl e Interstellar?
- The Imitation Game... bom sim senhor... merece lugar nas nomeações... mas qq um dos filmes em cima mencionados ficava-lhe com o lugar...
- The Theory of Everything - Parece a maior banhada dramatizada de sempre.
- A Most Violent Year e Inherent Vice... quase nada se viu... (porque?)
- Robert Duvall (The Judge) e Keira Knighley (The Imitation Game) nomeados. Achava que seria para a categoria de papel mais banal, mas aparentemente eles tao mesmo a falar a serio.
No fim do dia, tudo isto e subjectivo... verdade seja dita, a reputação tanto dos Globos como dos Oscars não e a melhor e felizmente tenho-me vindo a aperceber disso com o tempo... ainda assim gosto de os criticar. Porque sim.
Since I saw Interstellar (2014) this past Saturday, the movie has
been lingering in my head.
I didn’t know what to make of it right away. I mean, I
acknowledged it was good from a technical standpoint, beautiful shots and soundtrack and amazing performances (specially from Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain) and that I had a great time watching it… but
couldn’t figure out if it was worth the outrageous score on iMDB and all
that incredible praise it’s been getting.
There were a few things about it that raised some uncertainty in my decision… mainly the big thing for me was that the movie tends to over complicate things that could easily
be a lot simpler - even Michael Caine said he was confused! Sure, it can appeal to the intellect and imagination but even so... you take the chance of losing the audience and on top of that you might be perceived
as pretentious or even silly at times. I’m not even sure if what I
wrote just now makes sense, but I hope that at least for those who have watched
it already, this can resonate in some shape or form.
Nonetheless, after I saw it with a group of friends, a
discussion followed as we were leaving the room. Things became clearer and
other ideas came up to mind. All of the sudden, it had become more enjoyable after we cleared the
air and talked about Nolan’s intentions as a director managing a complex, yet fascinating script.
Some can argue that
debate after a movie - in order to fully comprehend the plot - is a great thing, because it adds more to it… others might see it as a bad sign since
you should be able to get the plot on your own and if you didn’t, well… either
the director did a bad job or you might be seen as not very bright (there's always that someone who's afraid to admit that they didn't get it or didn't like it, when something is almost unanimously good).
Unfortunately, I’m more inclined to say I really didn’t
keep up when I should… I want to blame the director, but it’s hard for me to doubt Nolan’s abilities. He’s one of
the best directors out there without a single bad movie in his repertoire, which leads me to be quicker doubting myself than actually questioning Nolan’s
decisions. Despite poor audio mixing in the first few scenes, I'm pretty sure I didn't miss out on important parts of the dialog.
That said, and with days gone by since I last saw it and after much consideration I can now
stand my ground and say it’s a terrific movie. In fact, one of the best I’ve
seen this year. It still doesn’t top Gone Girl as my favorite of 2014 (check my post on the subject) and I think it certainly doesn't deserve the high ranking it holds at the moment on iMDB.
an amazing script, great directing and all around performances, Gone Girl just made a
bigger impression. Even though Interstellar is the kind of film that will live longer in history
and will be more appreciated as a cinematic experience within all its
majestic beauty and powerful details, this novel turned movie still remains the most
enjoyable film I’ve seen in 2014.
David Fincher is a master at messing with people’s
emotions. You find yourself getting into these psychological traps, where
things are not as they seem and you are constantly doing U-turns to your
opinions. I really found it to be more appealing and entertaining... but, as you know, these things are highly subjective.
In a nutshell, Interstellar is a timeless cinema work of art - which I recommend people watching it in a big screen. Gone Girl on the other hand is a movie that I urge people to watch it, knowing that it doesn't really require a mandatory trip to your local cinema since it doesn't hold up to the same sort of visual standards as Chris Nolan's latest feature.
One of the best things I’ve seen this year! Hands down!
I remember leaving the room and tweeting right away:
head is still spinning! I mean, what a ride!! By far one the best things I've
seen all year! My heart is still pacing”
It’s funny… 24 hours later I still feel the same way almost as the adrenaline is still being pumped into my body.
David Fincher, like he so often does, play with your head…
over and over again, until you don’t know who you are any more.
The key to its success (or part of it) is the script based
on Gillian Flynn novels, who actually ended up helping Fincher with the
Add fantastic performances by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike (as
well as the supporting cast with Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carry Coon,
Kim Dickens) and you have a masterpiece in your hands.
It's hard to give it a full-on review without entailing crucial moments. I for one, prefer to just state whether its worth it or not... and trust me… it will leave you on the edge of your seat. It
will flip you upside down more than once… it will build anxiety, anger, relieved with occasional laughter and some sense of rightness. But ultimately, it will linger
long after the credits roll. You will talk about it afterwards. Discuss it,
digest it and then talk some more.