I saw Thor (2011) a couple of weeks ago, but only now did I had the patience to write something about it... It wasn't because I disliked the movie... Much to the contrary... I though it was actually very good. Especially for the Marvel Universe that is often made of ups and downs when making the transition from comic books to a length feature!
Still, I don't want to rant about Thor so I will just stick to some of the main aspects that lead me to watch it and to appreciate it as well.
How unexpected that was! When he was announced as the go-to-guy in this film I was really surprised! I mean, seriously! A renewed actor and director, with a background mostly created in British theatre... That's pretty unusual to have such a background connected with a movie such as this.
Another thing that attracted me (as probably most of the audience) was the cast! For years, it seems like a standard formula for this genre to have a group of actors with different assents to contribute. From the unknown lead actor to the new hot prospect, going through the Oscar winner/nominated and the old school actor/actress. No wonder it works so well... it appeals to a whole wide different range of fans that eagerly wait for the blockbuster to come out!
Special note to Chris Hemsworth, who gives a good impression as the title character while the rest of the cast follow his lead, discretely but accurately. Obviously it has to do a lot with the storyline and how most of the narrative was arranged, keeping the events happening in such a fast pace, that would almost feel disappointed that they are not taking full advantage of a story with enormous potential. But anyway... Branagh compensates the viewers along the way...
We can say that Thor is action packed with a blend of humour and wit, crossing with other parallel Marvel heroes leading up to The Avengers coming up in 2012, something that looks to shape up as Captain America: The First Avenger is bound to be released very soon.
One final comment...
Although not being as popular as Spider-Man, X-Men or even Iron-Man, the God of Thunder watches his share of fans raise with the debut of his own movie.
On my way back home from a play that I went to see yesterday, I turned on my iPod to listen to an album that was new to me. It was called Gemini (2010) - a great album might I add - from a group called Wild Nothing.
Immediately after the first track ended, I was attacked by voices and melodies that ignited all my senses. These reminded me of summer, such was the way that I could almost smell the ocean, touch the sand or taste the salty sea… In a heartbeat I was taken back into my hometown Cascais during summer Holiday, enjoying one of the finest summer days ever… and all my friends were there! At the beach, at clubs, at music festivals! They were all there and I was there with them!
So… while experiencing all of this, I thought to myself that I should share this moment on the blog… so, before the song ended, I rushed with my hand to my pocket in order to pull out the iPod and see the title of the track playing…
Their debut album, Palace (2011), is a serious contender for my personal 10 top albums of the year list. I'm aware we still have a long way to go and there are plenty of albums to be listened to in my iPod, but still... Have enjoyed this project a lot recently... which is funny because I started hearing their single Five Trees and I must say, it didn't seem very appealing at the time, however, as time went by (and especially with my arrival to London) I’ve become increasingly addicted to that track, leading me to hear the whole album from another perspective.
It just reminds me of how music can be so subjective... a simple life experience can completely alter your view of a song or even a set of songs...
Anyway, I will leave you a few tracks for your appreciation...
After Finland demonstrated that they might not be available to assist Portugal in financial terms, a video was made under the name What the Finns need to know about Portugal!
It's intention was to appeal to Finland good will, reminding them that long ago, we also provided for them!
But more than "rubbing in their face" the fact that we also contributed to their stability, I think the most interesting thing about this video is the compilation of remarkable accomplishments and facts associated to this beautiful country that I'm so proud to be from!
It’s funny to see how comedians may have an impact in our lives... From plain, simple entertainment they can also reach an audience and turn their minds into deep and meaningful thoughts… Provoke a reflection so intense that can actually change someone’s life… or hell… someone else’s lives!
Some of those comedians, with their insightful and rebellious remarks, were often banished by "powers above", because they represented a threat to the standard ways of a society, not used to a whole lot of thinking on their own! And not so very often, someone like Bill Hicks would come up along and make his presence felt in a stage or TV screen, leading the audience to a possible intellectual riot.
Instead of making funny observations of other people’s routines or even his own, he would raise some very good questions… he would bring to our attention some very interesting points, making the listeners be aware of certain topics, some of which could be very controversial, but necessary to give it some reflection!
It’s a gift to presence such acts of defiance from entertainers like Hicks, who are everything but ordinary.
His mission, more than create an easy going atmosphere filled in with laughter, was to instigate over people’s concerns and fears, flipping them upside down and making it OK to think about it and especially to act upon it! In some ways, his role as a comedian became more of an activist! “Dick jokes” (as he would call it) would quickly transform into a comic routine made of satirical remarks, dark humour and social criticism… evoking themes like drugs, religion, capitalism or philosophy!
These sorts of comedians very easily gain my respect; however, I would think that, like in everything, you have to be good at what you do… George Carlin was very good, Richard Pryor was very good and also Bill Hicks was very good! Obviously, there are some others (old school and new school) that I appreciate a lot (and laugh non-stop). Comedians in the likes of Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Herman Jose (top comedian in Portugal), Ricky Gervais and the whole Monty Python crew (just to name a few)… But characters like Hicks or Carlin, they would just challenge everything! They had no limits or boundaries; there was no way of shutting them up! You would pay them to talk to you, which is something very well pointed out at the beginning of Bill Hicks documentary:
Who do you ever pay to talk? Maybe a preacher, maybe a lecturer, possibly a politician… but even those rarely! Comedians are the only ones you pay to hear them talk… “Talk to me, make me listen”.
And there we go! Exactly to what was intended when I started writing this post… To recommend those of you who though this was interesting enough, to take some of your time to get your hands on American: The Bills Hicks Story (2009)
This documentary explores Bill Hicks life, from his early years, to his rise to prominence in the comedy world, his growing addictions and his death. Through out this path, we hear from friends and family and we testify his genius on stage! Unquestionably a documentary worth seeing, about one of the biggest cultural references in the United States. A man that made his point of view standout, funny enough to make people burst into laugh, but serious enough to make people think and question their "surroundings"!
After last night’s dreadful match between Benfica and Braga, the Lisbon Giants say farewell to their last chance of winning top silverware this season! By losing this semi-final they just added a huge exclamation mark to the sentence “We just weren’t good enough this year!” And truth be told, they were a shadow of what fans expected after one of the best seasons in the Eagles recent history.
There’s no doubt they went through some tough opponents to get to the semi-final (in the likes of Stuttgart, PSG or PSV), so kudos for that, but it just seems they missed a golden opportunity considering that they are a much stronger side than Braga. Benfica’s pedigree speaks for itself, but nowadays that doesn’t seem to be taken into much consideration… especially if you think of the way Benfica has performing recently by conceding goals in their last 17 matches and by losing most of their crucial games. So if in one hand I’m baffled by the way the Reds have been under-performing, at the same time I can’t say I’m really that surprised. I’m just utterly disappointed! Maybe that’s the best way to describe how I feel after watching a squad coming up to Braga’s territory with a 2-1 lead, and just play without any heart or soul. Sure Aimar and Salvio were missed, but that can’t justify how a team that invests millions of Euros can’t win an opponent with a third of their budget.
Oh well… I think this is an example as good as any other of how the underdogs can prevail when they show “a larger than life” attitude, opposite to the “it’s in the bag” attitude. Maybe that wasn’t Benfica's attitude at all… maybe they just have a hard time dealing with the pressure of important fixtures! I’m still dwelling on that one…
But what can I say… It’s still a proud day for Portuguese football; as we see Porto and Braga go on to square off in Dublin for the Europa League title!
Porto, who has been simply outstanding this year, is considered to be the favorite as they face the Bracarenses, who have been quite impressive as well in this competition, by taking out clubs such as Arsenal, Celtic, Seville, Liverpool and now Benfica.
To be honest, can’t say that I’m excited about that final… not only because Benfica is out of it, but also because the outcome seems pretty predictable. I doubt that Vilas-Boas pupils will let this chance slip.
But as I was saying... It’s without a doubt a remarkable year of epic proportions for both Portuguese clubs!
Meanwhile, what more can be said about Benfica? What does the future hold to their manager, Jorge Jesus?
Personally, I think that the idea of sacking Jesus is preposterous for a lot of different reasons, but mostly because we were champions due to his arrival to the club.
If there is something the world of football frequently reminds us, it is that people have a very short memory! In Benfica’s case, most supporters tend to forget that Jesus was the one responsible for a season with only two defeats… responsible for the most offensive and attractive football in not only Benfica’s recent years but also the Portuguese League…
He developed players that went on signing for the biggest clubs in Europe for absurd amounts of money.
This year the club struggled with injuries (Ruben Amorim being the most flagrant case), the consequences of the World Cup and the departure of several key players (curiously enough, one for each part of the field – defense, midfield and offense). Sure he made a few bad calls, but so does every manager.
So, do excuse him if he went through one season without delivering the same results as his debut year. Obviously it’s one of those things… Anyone who manages a club like Benfica is bound to be under a lot of pressure and what we can see from past experiences is that the tendency is to sack those managers who go some time without reaching a degree of success, however, I think it’s time to start investing more in “long term projects”. That way we can obtain a more solid consistency and certainly it will become easier for the club to reach their goals.
I definitely would allow him to continue coaching Benfica next season!
For years a personal project of actor Mark Walhberg, The Fighter finally came out in 2010 after struggling with production details... everything from getting producers to director and cast.
After it was released, it didn't took long for the movie to gain critical acclaim from both critics and audience, much due to it's wonderful ensemble cast with Walhberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo giving their all on screen. These four stars working together under direction of David O. Russel, gave life to the epic true story of "Irish" Micky Ward, a tale (as most boxing stories), of a man considered to be an underdog, prevailing when odds stacked against him.
As I mentioned, the film has a talented cast, but Christian Bale is by far (according to my perspective) the main attractive reason for the viewer to tune in.
I've admired his career since American Psycho (2000), one of my favorites movies and definitely my favorite Bale role. He's been doing other stuff before that... even having an important role at a very young age, with Spielberg's Empire Of The Sun (1987), but that Patrick Bateman performance really gripped me and since then he's become one of my top 5 favorite actors. His ability to stay in character goes beyond everything you ever seen, putting himself in very unusual situations/conditions. His method acting skills are considered to be one of Hollywood's finest and that comes to show in roles such as Brad Anderson's The Machinist (2004) or Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn (2006).
It's no surprise for me that he won an Oscar for his portrayal of Dicky Eklund (Micky Wards half-brother).
But that's just nomination out of seven. Other nominations included renowned categories such as Best Director and Best Film, so basically we could all assume it's worth watching (even though not everyone is an Oscar fan)!
Came up to work, turned on my computer and turned on the television as usual... While waiting the computer to start, I got distracted by the first chords of what seemed to be You! Me! Dancing! by Los Campesinos. Took a closer looked at the television, only to realize that Los Campesinos were providing soundtrack for Budweiser's new commercial! Until the very end, I didn't know what the ad was promoting but I immediately empathized with it... mostly due to the track on the background but also because the footage suggested a lifestyle associated to "youth", "friends" and "good times". Enough for me to relate to and get this contagious feeling to go outside and (here comes the cheesy line) seize the day!
Anyway, its worth sharing... both the ad and tune!