sexta-feira, novembro 30, 2012

Argo (2012)

If you thought Gone Baby Gone (2007) was beginners luck and The Town (2010) was a fluke... there is no way you can ignore Ben Affleck's directorial skills after watching Argo (2012).

The Boston actor turned director is easily becoming a serious candidate to one of the best in his field of profession. Yes, he has made some dodgy movies in his career... maybe one too many, but you can't create misguided preconceived ideas based on the little you know - specially in an area that has nothing to do with his achievements behind the camera. I even go far as saying he is a great actor with great creative skills... Just go on iMDB and check his "resume" from 2006 onwards. Either great/likeable movies or great roles. Hollywoodland (2006) is just an example of how great is acting is.

But forget all that and focus on Argo, in my opinion one of 2012 finest.

You get warned from the get go that the film is based "in true events" and somehow I seemed to forget that half way through due to how unbelievable the storyline was and how things progressed. Never-mind the absurd idea... "so crazy that it just might work"... How they were able to put it in to action... it's just mind blowing.
You can take a series of conclusions and anticipate how the end will unfold, but that still doesn't help you to control your levels of anxiety. Argo beholds a killing suspense, with refreshing and superb moments of humor to lighten the mood. The reenact action of what went down back in looks amazing and according to critics it also looks accurate.
Finally, casting was spot on with a list of TV old school talent stepping in. Names that might not ring a bell, but their faces certainly will.

I advise you to watch it asap.

terça-feira, novembro 27, 2012

segunda-feira, novembro 26, 2012

Fanfarlo @ Union Chapel 22.11.12

 As any year, 2009 was populated with great tracks and artists coming up. Fanfarlo with their debut album Reservoir were one of them and Ghosts was by far one of my favorite tracks of that same year. It reminded me a bit of Arcade Fire with traces of folk... and by today its still one of the songs that I take most pleasure listening to.

Fast forward a few years later and in 2012 Rooms Filled With Light came out, having De.con.struc.tion as the single who would introduce their sophomore studio project to the audience. In fact, the song actually came out a year before the album, almost working like a teaser and that certainly did the trick. After hearing that track for the first time, my expectations went sky-high. De.con.struc.tion was - and still is - my top Fanfarlo song and one of 2012's best (or should I just label it as 2011?).

So, obviously, this would be a gig that I would not want to miss out and specially knowing it was on my doorstep. Their live performance took place just around the corner from where I live in Highbury & Islington. The venue is called Union Chapel and as you can guess from the name... its a very old chapel that occasionally throws in a musical show.

It's a magical place I tell you! I've been there before when I was still living in Portugal and came in to London with a group of friends - not even dreaming that one day I would have my life in the English capital. What lead me to go to that chapel back in the day were Au Revoir Simone (if you still haven't heard, please check it out). I remember being highly impressed and surprised that a place like that would be used as a venue. Maybe it was a London thing... I don't know. What I do know is that I was happy just for being part of that whole experience, which is quite different not only because of the environment but also the way the set-up is made. For instances, there are only seated places.

So, back to Fanfarlo...

They started around 9'ish and played for about 1h30m, going through both albums and also introducing some of their newest work, looking to get some feedback from the audience, which they did to certain extent, but for some reason, even though the venue was a lot more intimate - easy enough for the audience to establish an ongoing conversation with the band - people were very shy, despite Fanfarlo's best efforts to engage those present.

All and all it was great show, even baring in mind I was disappointed with the line-up, since it only provided 1 out of my top 3 songs (Ghosts and Shiny Things were left out) and even that one track - De.con.struc.tion didn't exactly reached the level I was expecting live - but still, great to listen to making it's way easy to the list of highlights.

quarta-feira, novembro 21, 2012

Das Leben der Anderen (2006)

No wonder The Lives of Others got the Oscar for best foreign movie in 2006. 

Compelling story about the goodness of mankind in dark times and among bad people

sexta-feira, novembro 16, 2012

The Wire (2002 - 2008)

I was completely oblivious to what The Wire was until I got to university. There, I found teachers who hailed the TV show as one of the best ever made, even though it had fairly modest exposure for something that was critically acclaimed. 
Fast forward a few years later, I’m out of "uni" and in the UK making my living. In my work place, a few more join hands with my former professors, often stating how great The Wire is. 
It became clear to me that I had no choice. I would have to see it and judge for myself.

Started the first season and to my surprise it wasn’t exactly what I expected. Not the content per say, but my reaction to it. I didn’t feel like I was highly entertained or even eager enough to watch the next episodes. This lasted until the 5th or 6th episode of the first season where I found myself completely immersed in the plot and connected to the characters. Be it hero or villain, it’s easy to create some kind of bond with most of the people wondering on Baltimore’s streets.
That's one of the added values of the series. It doesn't revolve around one or two characters, although obviously a few might get highlighted by the audience... However, each person has their own view and favorites in the show. It is hard to be totally unanimous.

From then on, going from mid 1st season to the very end of season 5 – the series’ finale – you cannot be indifferent to what’s happening on screen… “Spot on” (The Wire fans will know the reference) casting, brilliant acting, smart scripts and above all else, a genuine realistic feel to it. David Simon and Ed Burns did a magnificent job with their creation, which is based on their experience as a journalist and police officer respectively. 
I highly recommend watching what is regarded as one of the best cult TV classic shows to ever be broadcasted.

terça-feira, novembro 13, 2012

Metronomy - Nights Out (2008)

For a lot of people, Metronomy only rose to prominence with their last album The English Riviera in 2011, however, before the acclaimed album came out, the English band already had two other projects under their belt:  Pip Paine (Pay The £5000 You Owe) in 2006 and Nights Out two years after their debut album.

Their first had too much of an electronic element for my taste... It wasn't really a record that I enjoyed listening to, but Nights Out is definetely a top notch work. And it gets better with time and with each live performance. That's how it worked with me...

I was fortunate enough to see Metronomy in 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was a solid gig, but not spectacular has I envisioned. It was clear to me that my opinion was highly affected by my seats, which even thought being very good (we had a box just for our group of friends), it was far from the action near the centre of the stage. There is were you feel the intensity and you loosen up. You sing, you dance and you feel the contagious environment around you. It's more of a fun party atmosphere, while at the same time you can be focused on the music.

That's what I came to feel a year later when I saw them again, this time at one of Portugal's finest Summer festivals: Optimus Alive.

They started playing at 3:00am on a Sunday (remember, most people had to work the next day). You would think that after 3 days of music and so late at night on a Sunday... it wouldn't be a full house. But against all odds, the place was tearing apart. The band engaged in a 2:30h gig leaving everyone in a state of ecstasy. And it was then and there that Nights Out took over a place in my heart. The beats and melodies from that night still resonate in my head til this day. It's so easy for me to travel back to that special event. I just grab my iPod and let it play... And it just so happens... I'm in that mood right now!

sábado, novembro 03, 2012

Skyfall (2012)

Ian Fleming's secret agent 007 comes to screen once more for the 23rd movie dedicated to the franchise. 

Shortly after being announced that Sam Mendes would take the helms of this project, the hype began to grow, something that is quite understandable. In all these years that I've been following James Bond's "career", not once do I remember having an Academy award winner direct one of his films.

Skyfall (2012) looked promising and if expectations were high, they gained epic proportions has time went by. The advertising campaign was amazing, with a special moment clinging on most people's mind. I'm talking about Daniel Craig's cameo as James Bond during the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics. Quite an original stunt I would say...

By this point we were close to its début... and when the time came for Skyfall to be revealed to a selected audience and critics, the results came in: It was said to be one of the finest Bond movies ever made.

I wasn't surprised. Since they've decided to reboot the series and give it a much darker and serious tone, 007 increased its quality much to credit of screenwriters and directors, but also Daniel Craig's performance, arguably the best MI6 agent since Sean Connery (I can't really decide which of them I like best).

Casino Royale (2006) based on Fleming's first Bond, took the character to early stages and from there we've seen the English spy grow and mature into the James Bond we all know. Quantum of Solace (2008) delivered a different pace and face to the agent, much to dislike of fans worldwide, however, it is my belief that people didn't take into account their new approach but also what happened in the previous film. Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (2008) are connected and same was expected - at least by me - for Skyfall. Rather than treating each film as a separate adventure (like they did with the old ones), there is a sense of continuity with the contemporary versions. Here in fact, the new and improved Bond films work as a prequel of sorts, taking the whole series to level one, but always maintaining part of the essence that made this "spy saga". We still get the gadgets and the action sequences - although with a more realistic touch - and the intro generic remains pretty vintage, including the theme songs, which seem to be - regardless of the time and age we are in - all in the same tone. Even in the narrative style adopted, they find ways to fit in tributes to the "oldies", example of such is the Austin Martin used in Skyfall... a clear reference to 1964's Goldfinger. More is to be said, but my point is not to hand out any spoilers. All I can say is that you will be very satisfied with what Mendes has done with the newest Bond, which by the way marks the 50th anniversary of the character.

Be sure to see it!

sexta-feira, novembro 02, 2012

Back Down South

Just in case you didn't know, they are coming to Portugal for next year's Optimus Alive.