sábado, abril 30, 2011

Two of my favorite short films

Long time ago, when I opened my Facebook account, one of my first actions on the social network was to upload two videos that I really enjoyed.

I remember clearly one friend of mine dropping a suggestion into my inbox saying that it was definitely my “cup of tea”! He was right!

YouTube was promoting a new segment called YouTube Screening Room where they had created sort of virtual exhibition theatre where they would display short films.

Our Times is Up (2006) written and directed by Rob Pearlstein, had some familiar faces in which Kevin Pollock's stand out, not only because of his Hollywood fame, but mostly because he assumed the role of the lead character.


After seeing that one, (was highly impressed afterwards due to its sensitive nature and simplicity on passing through a valuable message) I kept browsing through some of the other videos...

Eventually I made acquaintance with Are You The Favourite Person of Anybody? (2005), directed by Miguel Arteta, starring John C. Reilly. Also, very simple but efficient in terms of executing good film based on such a genuine and interesting theme.


Those two short-films rapidly built up the urge to share them online and since Facebook was brand new to my eyes, I didn’t know how to share those videos. So basically I went through the whole process of obtaining the videos from YouTube into my desktop and then uploading them into my personal videos on my profile.

As you can imagine, this took me ages to do… but it was completely worth is! This was what? Two years, three years ago tops… and so… even though I’m sharing for the second time, they will make their debut in this personal space of mine.

terça-feira, abril 26, 2011

The Kids Are Alright (2010)



Much can be said about The Kids Are Alright (2010)!

It’s a remarkably well-crafted dramedy that offers powerful and deep insight to the founded roots of marriage and family. It also approaches us to talk about love, understanding, doubt and forgiveness. 

Without getting into much details of the movie’s plot, I can only say that it’s a no shocker that it got so much attention during the last Sundance Festival, Golden Globes and Oscars ceremonies. It is just absolutely amazing! And credit is due to Lisa Cholodenko (the director and screenwriter), to Stuart Blumberg (Lisa's other half in writing the film) the story and fantastic dialogues (which can be evaluated as a breath of fresh air), but I believe that most of its success has to be attributed to the wonderful performances of Annette Bening and Julianne Moore! I can’t even find the right words to describe how good  both are on screen. They have absolutely added a believable and moving chemistry, giving the audience a genuine and human feature. Throughout the dilemmas, problems and more dramatic scenes, The Kids Are Alright also manages to deliver gentle smiles, happy tears or even bursts of laughter. It completely makes the viewers get involved and have mood swings. Also, let’s not forget Mark Ruffalo, who seems to gain more respect and admiration from my part. Here we can see him in various circumstances nearly matching up with the leading actresses, gaining him an Oscar nomination for his role. Both kids (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) complete this nicely executed casting that was more than well spotted. It was just perfect I would say!

It’s without a doubt a movie worth seeing… A memorable indie production!



segunda-feira, abril 25, 2011

Little Thor

Remember when that VW commercial came out? You know... the Star Wars spoof? The ad better known as The Force? Well... Marvel decided to come up with a "Thor Version" of that same commercial... It's basically a spoof of a spoof (confusing?).

Good campaign to promote upcoming Thor (2011) movie and quite funny actually... Check it out!



domingo, abril 24, 2011

sábado, abril 23, 2011

Stillwater

After recently watching Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (2000), I came across the band Stillwater... a name that I was slightly familiar with! Convinced that the band portrayed in the movie was the same I (barely) knew, while doing some research to write this post I discovered that is wasn't. Basically Stillwater in the movie is a fictional band, leaving me very confused about why would they use the same name.


Anyway, there weren't legal issues since the director had previously asked the original band authorization to use their name in Almost Famous.

This led me to get any albums that I could find and luckily I was able to find a Best Of compilation.

So basically, during these last two days I've been poring my hears with those tracks. In a few Just simply amazing!

Their sound combines bits and pieces of other artists from the 70's... the mixing of sequencer-sounding keyboards and guitars brings to memory Boston, Lynyrd Skynyrd comes alive after some of their guitar solos and Peter Frampton is evoked with the use of the "talk box".

Hear for yourself... these tracks will blow your mind!





quinta-feira, abril 21, 2011

Juventude Sonica

Lastest single of their album Casa Ocupada (2010) from rising Portuguese band:



Juventude Sonica is portuguese for "Sonic Youth". Coencidence?

domingo, abril 17, 2011

Jesus Fever



While browsing the pitchfork website, I came across Kurt Vile... a name that until then was anonymous in my musical world. Due to it's outstanding reviews I decided to get his latest album Smoke Ring for My Halo (2011).



Although I like his entire studio project, there is clearly one track that stands out, being that track (obviously) Jesus Fever. During these last couple of days I've began my day by the sound of this uplifting tune... which really leaves me in an excellent mood! It kinda reminds me of those ending moments on TV Shows where a voice over pops out and just narrates a life lesson...

Regardless of what this track makes you feel or think, I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!


I pack my suitcase with myself 
but I'm already gone...

sexta-feira, abril 15, 2011

I Dream of Dublin



After knowing that Benfica had won the first-leg of the Europa League quarter-finals against PSV by 4-1, I became almost certain that we would go on through the next stage, even though I was warned by some to be cautious as a lot could change at the Philips Stadium. By reminding myself of the 4 goals, I became reassured of the idea that the Dutch side would have a long way to go if they wanted to knock the Lisbon Giants out of the competition.


That reassurance briefly disappeared when last night I saw PSV score 2 goals in 25 minutes and leave the Eagles very close to a meltdown...Well, at least we would assume that could happen, since it wouldn't be a first time for the Portuguese side. However, being an optimistic supporter as I am, I calmed myself down and realized we still had more than enough time to get ourselves together and make a comeback. And so it happened...

Luisao scored right before the end of the first half in an acrobatic fashion and later on during the second half, Cardozo ended PSV hopes (if they had any left) by converting a penalty shot.

Benfica was indeed confirmed at the semi-final, to face another Portuguese team... S.C. Braga!

The Bracarenses made history by securing a nil tie against the Ukrainians FC Dynamo Kyiv, thus making way to go up against Benfica as they fight for the final spot in Dublin.

On the other side of the Europa League table we have Porto, absolutely dominant this season. They have been outstanding both on a domestic and international level, confirming that status by already winning the championship with five games left to play, plus crushing the Russians by an aggregate of 10-2. Andre Villas-Boas pupils continue showing all of Europe reasons to be feared in next year’s Champions League.



Most of the pundits claim that this year we will have a all Portuguese final, with Porto and Benfica being the top candidates to take the trophy back home. It will certainly be a year to remember... 3 Portuguese teams at the semi-finals (that alone is history in the making), 15th final in a European competition...

From a Benfica perspective, it ends the 17 year long waiting to make it into a semi-final as well... So I would say we are making some good progress... and that semi-final looks good since we have a stronger side. But in football you never know... You can guess all you want, you can play with statistics, you can match up both starting eleven's and see who has the biggest names, the most players in shape etc... But still...
 It's impossible to predict the unpredictable...

But I'm allowed to dream...

Right?!

quinta-feira, abril 14, 2011

Brothers (2009)



Brothers (2009) directed by acclaimed Irishman Jim Sheridan, is a movie best described as a war drama/thriller with Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal in the leading roles.
It is based upon Susanne Bier’s Danish film Brødre (2004)… better yet… it’s more accurate to say it’s a remake other than saying it was largely inspired by the Danish version.

There’s no need for me to give an overall view of the plot, since the trailer is quite self explanatory, however, I will tell you this…

During most part of the movie, the action presents itself in a very solid, but somewhat, dull way… meaning that although you can’t really point your finger at horrific moments, the fact is that it’s far from making a strong impact! This is until Tobey Maguire decides to shake things up a bit and turn his acting levels up a few notches. He then turns his character into something completely different from what he introduced early on and just assumes command with his gripping performance. I mean, those last 20 to 25 minutes are super intense, with the former Spidey exceeding himself in great fashion, as I never watched him before! Portman and Gyllenhaal try to keep up, but their just not up for the task, mostly because the storyline provides better moments for the main character to shine… but even so! He’s just in the zone! For a few (long) moments, I tried looking for some part of Maguire in his eyes, but he just wasn’t there! Someone else took over and left Tobey “out there in the woods”.

No wonder he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Sam Cahill.

In other words: He makes Brothers worth your while!

Oh and by the way… make sure to listen to Thomas Newman’s soundtrack and U2’s contribution as well.




quarta-feira, abril 13, 2011

Stone (2010)



Stone (2010) is a long-feature directed by John Curran, a man that a few years ago teamed up with Ed Norton and Naomi Watts to give us The Painted Veil in 2006.

There's not much I can say about this one, besides stating that when I finished watching, I had  mixed feelings...

The cast is just amazing... you get to see Edward Norton and Robert De Niro go at it once more, after they did together The Score (2001), but unfortunately, not always a name lives up to its reputation. De Niro is a good example of that, as we got to see movies over the last few years that were simply dreadful. I’m not saying that this is the case, but we when it comes to an actor such as "Bobby" De Niro, your expectations are always high... we are always waiting for that old school vintage De Niro... in the likes of Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Raging Bull or The Godfather! But well, I guess that since he has nothing to prove, he's more in for the money...
Edward Norton on the other hand, is excellent (the man simply can't do wrong), as he provides good performance as the title character "Stone". Oh… and let’s not forget Milla Jovovich who is actually quite suited for her roll as Stone's sex addict wife.

It’s strange… I’m handing out some compliments to the acting level, but somehow, even though I was pleased with all three main characters, I noticed that I didn't emphasize with none of that. I had no feelings for all three of them, what so ever... just wasn't able to get myself involved... So basically, it all comes down to saying that the movie is ok, with solid performances... but not much of an interesting story. Matter a fact, the trailer made the movie seem much more appealing than it actually is… and sort of gave me the impression that the story had much more potential. Anyway, its “watchable”, but you don’t miss out if you decide not to see it!




segunda-feira, abril 11, 2011

Toxic Air on Flights

Very interesting piece on quality of cabin air on flights... You will most definitely be surprised after watching this one.

Kudos to CNN's Ayesha Durgahee for her outstanding work!





sábado, abril 09, 2011

Life in Film - Live in London 07.04.11



Doesn't seem to make much sense to write about a gig that happened last Thursday... but I couldn't let this one slide since it was really an amazing experience for me in every way. For starters, the friends that came with me, although knowing very little of the band, were totally up for the challenge. They trusted me as I promised they wouldn't be disappointed... Plus the price of the ticket was ridiculously cheap... 7pounds seemed like pocket change for the evening that was provided!

The opening act, Ay Ducane, gave their all with music that matched country, rock and indie folk all together... In spite of being a good warm up, Life in Film (the main attraction) was definitely what kept me waiting anxiously! 

From the moment they stepped into the stage they played according to my (huge) expectations and maybe even surpassing them, giving me a couple of unexpected surprises.
The biggest one, without a shadow of a doubt, was when they announced Alleyway...

I know the acoustic version of that track, and that version alone... So basically when the first cords came in to play, all of the sudden, the guitars and drums stroke the audience showing little mercy for those who weren't in the mood for dancing. I was completely blown away! It was almost as if I didn't recognize Alleyway since the intensity and rhythm were completely different from the one I know...  From a mellow track to a transformed dancing tune, I felt like I was getting pumped up as I did my best to control myself so that I could capture properly that moment on film. 

The single instantly became more appealing and perhaps even guaranteeing the status of personal favourite in their repertoire, overcoming Sorry, probably considered their most strong track. Nonetheless, I want to share that amazing performance (Alleyway) that has consuming most of my time dedicated to hearing music when at home...

quinta-feira, abril 07, 2011

Life in Film - Gig at Old Street



I was back in Portugal (and obviously still writting in Portuguese) when I first mentioned Life in Film on my blog. At the time I never dreamt that I would be coming to London to work and that I would also have the chance to see this band live. I wrote about them, talked about them, even went to the radio and had the chance to "promote" them...
It's one of those things really... You just want everyone to know about them so you can share and experience the same feelings that their music provides!

Altought I don't know more than the 7 or 8 tracks available, Life in Film have become one of my priorities, gig wise... and today I get to seem them live at Old Street.

If you don't know the band, listen both tracks that I left on this previous post and Carla as well... I strongly recommend these guys! Oh, and if by any chance you're in London, I would advice you to drop in... The gig begins around 20h and is being held at a venue called "The Camp" right off Old Street station.



quarta-feira, abril 06, 2011

Looks interesting...

Directed by: Shawn Ku
Starring: Michael Sheen and Maria Bello



segunda-feira, abril 04, 2011

domingo, abril 03, 2011

The Strokes - Angles (2011)




The much anticipated Strokes album has been playing in my house and iPod for the last couple of weeks over and over again in order for me to construct a solid personal review, even if a short one. 

After First Impressions of Earth (2006) the American based group created huge expectations since it took more than 5 years for them to release their new studio project. Fans all over were hoping for a work of  great resonance... Have to say... it didn't quite reached it...

Angles (2011) didn't impressed that much after a first listening session, but after a few more tries it started to grow on me and became a 2011 personal favourite (so far), even though it doesn't sustain the same quality as previous works. However, I think it's pretty consistent, with some great (great) tracks! Under Cover of Darkness serves as an excellent visiting card, offering some high expectations to listeners ... 

With Two Kinds of Happiness and Taken by a Fool I complete my top 3 tracks of the whole album. Take a listen...




sábado, abril 02, 2011

Faster (2010)



Faster (2010) is a movie directed by George Tillman Jr., who you might know from such films as Men of Honour (2000) or Notorious (2009). Even though some of them had a certain degree of exposure, in my opinion, they failed to succeed to its cast or storyline expectations, therefore turning Tillman Jr. into a not so appreciated director. That’s basically what I though once I considered watching Faster… but a strong calling from a man called Dwayne Johnson, also known as “The Rock”, was enough reason for me to watch this action flick. You see… Dwayne Johnson is by far one of the most charismatic people in show business that I like to follow. 

Since his early rise as one of top stars of WWE, the wrestler turned into actor, has established himself as a "house hold name" in Hollywood and although he’s been labelled as an action star, the man has good acting skills. Better than most of his peers in the “action world”… but that’s something for me to share in another post… for now I’ll just stick with Faster.

It’s a very modern and violent noir-style, fast paced action "piece" that revolves around various themes such as hate, sorrow, forgiveness and especially, revenge through the "Driver's" (main character) eyes... 
Dwayne Johnson executes this performance in nice fashion, as he gives life to a very disturbed and troubled anti-hero, who seeks vengeance upon those who killed his brother. In this journey, we as an audience get to experience a different set of emotions as the "Driver" tries to settle the score!

Yes, as far as sheer quality goes, Faster does not excel, but provides for outstanding entertainment. The story line may have its used and battered ways, but it also has a lot of gripping twists and turns. In little more than an hour and half you deal with various characters, each with their own back-story references, that to some extend provide for more depth in the whole resolution of the movie. It is in my opinion, that Faster should have more than 98 minutes in order to improve some details and better work its sideline plots. Nonetheless it remains a good movie to be seen for action movie goers and "Rock" fans, has he demonstrates once again his qualities beyond the stereotyped masculine features. Also, you get to see a good supporting cast with Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Gugino and even a small cameo by Tom Berenger.

sexta-feira, abril 01, 2011

Cold War Kids - Mine is Yours (2011)



It's definitely Cold War Kid's most mainstream work yet... something that obviously isn’t synonymous of poor quality. Not at all! In fact, Mine is Yours (2011) goes very easy on the ears with a sound very similar in some ways with a more recent approach made by Kings of Leon. It's in my opinion a good way to make better use of Nathan Willett's smooth voice... Despite this, the album was very under appreciated by most crittics! I some ways I can agree... Can't really say it's a great album... Too many "ups and downs", but I see no reason not to advise people to give it a try since it could be listened to whenever and wherever!