sexta-feira, janeiro 27, 2012

K'S Choice

Going through my old files I came across a folder holding some "ancient" mp3. Among those tracks I found a folder with loads of K'S Choice songs, something that lead me to become very nostalgic as I reminisced some of my teenage years back in Portugal.
I remember watching the video for Everything For Free loads of times and after that, I'm not an addict, a track that curiously enough preceded the other track that introduced me to the band.

Over the years I became fan of the Belgium group, having dedicated a big portion of a certain year (one that I can't remember) to their albums. Although not listening to them as much like in the past, it was really cool to go over some of the tracks that followed me while growing up!









quarta-feira, janeiro 25, 2012

Road To The Oscars: The Nominations


This could potentially be one of my biggest rants in the blog, so I will do my best to keep it at a decent length and not abuse on the readers patience.


After watching the list of nominees for the 2012 Oscar ceremony, I almost collapsed after a major struggle to avoid an outburst of rage. I don't even know where to start... So many people left out and so many favored in order to have their name among Hollywood's cream of the crop.

The selection proved that the Academy has a very poor criterion, one that is badly applied.

Moneyball (2011) and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), although both being good films, are highly overrated!

The baseball themed movie feels like you've seen it many times before. No big surprises and no big elements that make the movie completely worth it. To have actors nominated just baffles me! It's not like having an average movie and then have a lead actor/actress just nailing a brilliant performance. That is not the case with Moneyball. We've seen a better Brad Pitt and even though we can't say the same for Jonah Hill - who was surprisingly good - it's still not enough to gain a nomination. I could easily pick someone else to take that spot... but the one that comes up to mind in a flash is Albert Brooks for his secondary role in the movie Drive (2011). In fact, the Nicolas Winding Refn movie failed to get nominations in some of the big categories as it should have. This was a big surprise in my opinion. At least it should  get some recognition in directing, best movie and best supporting actor, but all failed to happen.

Loads more fell short into the Academy's choices...

Shame (2011) was cut of any nominations when it was almost mandatory that (at least) Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender should have a bigger role. Especially the last one! I mean... going back to Brad Pitt... How does he keep his spot when going against a performance like Fassbender's? The Irish actor did enough to win that little golden statue and I assume most people who saw Shame will agree with me on this one. Its a tough act to follow (Fassbender's I mean), leaving me even more impatient to see The Descendants (2011), just to clear off my mind ether George Clooney justifies all the praise.

In the "Best Lead Actress" category, it shocks me not to see Tilda Swinton for her role in We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011). I must admit that not having seen most of the actresses awarded with a nomination, it's hard to make a clear and justifiable judgment, however, I wouldn't hesitate to exchange Rooney Mara for Swinton. Honestly, I think that nomination alone - regardless of the existent opposition - just seems wrong from the beginning. Noomi Rapace, who portrayed Lisbath Salander's role in the Swedish version of Stieg Larsson's novels, is way better than Mara, in every single way... but even though her role was acclaimed by audiences and critics worldwide, it was still not good enough to grab a nomination! So why now? What has Mara done better then Rapace that earns her that nomination?
Beat's me!

And what about 50/50 (2011)? I predicted both a nomination for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Best Original Screenplay, but neither of them followed through. I can live with the first (mostly due to the competition), but Will Reiser deserved something to be on his way...

Proceeding...

Senna (2010), the documentary made by Asif Kapadia, was mysteriously left out. This was made aware when lists with potential candidates where being made, so there is no point complaining about it like I was surprised by its absence. I just couldn't write this without sort of a "side note" just stating "How the hell could they do this?".

For the Animated and Foreign categories, there is no love for The Adventures of Tintin (2011) and La Piel Que Habito - The Skin That I Live In (2011) respectively.

Regarding the first, it just seems silly to me not considering such a wonderful production like Tintin among some pretty average animated movies. I mean... Being almost visually perfect (the best I've seen yet) only takes you so far... I can agree to that! But even thought it's not an instant classic like some of Pixar's recent features, it is still more than good enough to be among the nominees.

In the "Best Foreign Language Film of the Year" category, we have definitely, one of the biggest surprises/injustices.
How is La Piel Que Habito not in the list? I remember some people going mad over Volver back in 2006. A good movie, but not more than that... opposite to Almodovar's last project. Fresh, risky and so well conducted, it just made the Academy look like it was acting a bit prude this year... not letting some of the most daring, dark and twisted assembled works get the credit they deserve!

On the other hand there were a few nice surprises...

Nick Nolte was rewarded for his outstanding role in Warrior (2011). It would feel like one of the biggest injustices if he didn't made the list! It was in my belief this would be a duel between Nolte and Albert Brooks, but the Academy made sure that wasn't happening! Nevertheless, it's great seeing Nolte's work recognized. Hopefully, he will be back on track with this one!

Also as a surprise was Bridesmaids (2011)!
I simply loved that movie... and I thought others would as well, but curiously enough, the last conversations I've been having with people about the groundbreaking "chick flick" comedy, just brought to my attention other different reactions to what I expected!

A lot of people didn't enjoy as much as I imagined they would... thus making this nomination sound absolutely ridiculous. I can relate with that to certain extent, but i'll admit, it does feel good to see such a "silly" (term not used in a denorrogative way) comedy have that kind of feedback from an instituition that most of the times just neglects the comedy genre entirely (unless it has a pseudo intelectual/witty side to it).

Having said all this, even though we might have one or two nice surprises (beyond the obvious choices), there is just not way this compensates for the heavyweight absences in this year's Oscar nominations.

Mark my words: This will go down as one of the most controversial and incoherent lists of all time! Almost like they decided to give "hardcore quality" a break.


List of relevant articles/reviews written for the blog


terça-feira, janeiro 24, 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)


I never knew where I stood regarding remakes until I saw this one. Before my last time at a cinema, I was neither in favor or against it... Sometimes I would think to myself that certain projects were totally unnecessary, others I would be curious, while very few I would think they were worth it. This last scenario describes accurately my assumption regarding the American remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).

Based on a novel by Stieg Larsson, this would be the first of a trilogy, later adapted into three Swedish movies to which I saw every single one. The first I saw at my local cinema, while the other two I saw it at home.

I can honestly say I was really impressed with all three of them, but especially with the first! For it's plot, organized and interesting narrative... for it's intensive and thrilling twists and turns and also the wonderful cast! It would be fair as to say it wouldn't make any sense to watch a remake when I had so much fond memories of the original, however, being the remake a project in the helms of master David Fincher, it was very hard for me to resist. Plus, it would be a very good exercise to compare one with another, knowing they had very little time separating one from the other. I found this to be a big mistake... But I'll get to that later.

Comparing both first episodes of Larsson's trilogy, it is in my opinion that the Swedish is by far the best one. There isn't one single aspect that Fincher's take would have something to say better than the original. He adds nothing!

I suspected I would be disappointed after watching the introduction generic. It felt awkward... Can't quite really explain, but something felt wrong. Was it cheesy? Was it too much of twirls of an animated sequence? Was the soundtrack not suited? I don't know... But I was sure that my eyes didn't like what they were seeing!

After that, I began to take notice of all that it was different and drawing my conclusions to ether or not these were justified.
Even though the movie is all spoken in English, the story settings remain the same. This lead to Fincher (or the producers) deciding to have the actors to do an effort on making a Swedish accent. 

Although understandable, it just didn't work (for me at least).
I would rather move the action to somewhere in the States and change the characters names... But be it as it may, this was hardly the big issue around the movie..

There are a lot of plot changes, really big ones at that... Stuff that I can't mentioned to avoid giving away information... but trust me! Heavy stuff was either ignored or distorted!
If asked what was the biggest thing for me, to which I was more disappointed... I would have to say the casting, with special regard to the lead character, Lisbeth Salander.

Rooney Mara, who had worked previously with Fincher in The Social Network (2010), did a major effort to follow the steps of Noomi Rapace. Even with her performance being commendable, it was still just not at the same level as the Swedish actress, mostly because she presents a younger and more fragile image than Noomi, who on the other hand, shows herself more as a tougher woman.
Basically this point comes down to "Woman vs. Girl". That's not all of it, but it pretty much sums up one of the biggest differences you'll see when watching the new version and that just takes part of the interest. The viewers need Lisbeth Salander to be aggressive and fearless... capable of taking down anyone! And I'll be honest... I did not think of Mara as a model or anything like that. It was like she was completely anonymous and I was judging her performance without considering none of her background (therefore, no preconceived ideas before-hand).

I would say that most of you are better off watching the Swedish films if you can fight the language barrier and deal with the subtitles... because this American remake, to put it mildly, is is just a lighter and duller version.
I can only assume by seeing so many Swedish names in the list of producers that this movie was intended to promote their country and commerce through a wider recipient... You can tell that, for them, this is a golden opportunity.... Ikea, Nokia, SweAuto are just a few (Swedish) brands in a never-ending list of product placement.

Just so we are clear... You can still get satisfied with Fincher's work.... It's not bad at all...on the contrary! But having in mind the source material and the first movie adaptation, this one feels so overrated - even more considering the reviews and iMDB score are so good, something that for me doesn't do justice at all!

sábado, janeiro 21, 2012

sexta-feira, janeiro 20, 2012

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest



If you are a regular reader and you pay close attention, then you probably saw this post coming, since I've made at least one reference about the documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011).

As the title properly indicates, it's about A Tribe Called Quest, one of the most influential musical groups of all time and a personal favorite of mine.
If at this point, you just frown as a reaction to what it seems like a bold statement, I can assure you it's not! They left a huge mark not only in the hip-hop (so what, so what's the...) scenario, but in music in general, hence this post stressing out how much everyone should watch this entertaining and highly educational documentary, directed and produced by actor Michael Rapaport, who, being a hard-core fan himself, decided to take the helms of this idea, paying a tribute and showing his love towards ATCQ.

The documentary portrays every single step of the way, from their upbringing and uprising into stardom... showing us along the way how Kamaal, Malik, Ali and Jarobi all came together in 1985 to do what they do best. Come up with the beats, the lyrics and melodies.. and just leave a trail of classic tracks and albums that still are appreciated as some of the best work ever to be done in the music business.

Their approach was fresh, innovative, immaculate and intelligent. While keeping the Afro-American essence, it still went the mile to "touch" other people regardless of their race, religion or creed. All of this, going against the stereotype to which Hip-Hop was (and still is) highly connected: "Gangsta Rap".

It is said: "All good things come to an end". Always thought that statement was outrageously ridiculous, but the matter of the fact is: Sometimes is true. This is a point to which this documentary enlightens the audience, as they explain to us the reasons that lead the group to separate in 1998 and show us they their most recent dismantlement while it was happening.
If you are a fan, it's almost like allowing yourself to get heartbroken... because you know what's heading your way... and try as you might to dodge it, there is nothing you can do about it!
So ... yeah... you face the facts and you acknowledge that there was little to be done. Phife and Q-Tip had their problems... and as a consequence it drove the band to dismantle... however... we can still feel grateful for that they have left us! Couldn't imagine myself pulling out of my iPod and not having that Q-Tip mellow voice, the high pitched Phife or kick-ass beats by Ali... and their range of collaborations?! C'mon! De La Soul, Jungle Brothers and Busta Rhymes (to name a few)...

I seriously recommend the documentary to those who enjoy good music and in particular hip-hop.

quarta-feira, janeiro 18, 2012

Shame (2011)


If only I had a pound for every time I wished I brought a notepad with me to the cinema...

It's so frustrating to have so many ideas, so many elements of comparison and details that you want need to write down, but you just can't! Sure you have your mobile phone, but between feeling bad about having the light on and trying to hit the right keys, you lose the rhythm and track of what's happening on screen.

After watching Shame (2011), Steve McQueen's second directional effort after the critically acclaimed Hunger (also with Michael Fassbender), I tried in the best of my ability to make mental notes and as I left the cinema, in complete awe and silence, I engaged a conversation with my friend not only to have a share of opinions, but also to keep "the material" fresh!

Too bad I couldn't keep it all together... especially in a case where I need to be extra careful with what I chose to write about. The reason is simple... Since I started writing in the blog, I always did an effort to be as generalist as I could and not give away any information that could be perceived as "spoilers". Matter of the fact is, regarding Shame, that can be very tricky, as I feel highly inclined into turning my guesses into firmed assumptions, and my firmed assumptions into certainties! I want not only to introduce the movie, but also talk about it... discuss it. Provoke you, the reader, into sharing your take on it. To lead you in to telling me what you think it's right or wrong.
I feel like I could go on and on about Shame, like I was writing a dissertation. It would be as close as I would get from writing one!

Never mind what the reviews say or some opinions that you have heard. Unless someone goes into exact detail, you can't ever be prepared for what's about to follow during that one hour and forty minutes of intense narrative. Like always, I can give away a few of the emotions the directing, cast or soundtrack have evoked on my part... but that only takes you so far!

From the get go, as we are introduced with the lead character, the sexual predator, Brandon and his daily routine, we see an extension of Patrick Bateman, a character created by Bret Easton Ellis that was made famous in the best seller (after adapted to a movie) called American Psycho. We sense there is some trouble in him... Some obsession(s) to which very soon you can point your finger at, only to realize afterwards we were just merely touching the surface!

Mid way through the movie, I actually thought this was indeed American Psycho, and Michael Fassbender was Christian Bale playing the role of Bateman. 
It was almost like watching Mary Harron's take on the book, without the killing, the wit, the black humor or the pop-culture references. Obviously there's a lot more to it when it comes to comparing both films... But those were some of the immediate thoughts I had when thinking of the two of them. 
The thing with Shame is that it felt more real, and consequence of that "reality" just brought on to your face, it became more disturbing! You start thinking of stuff you can't honestly say you dedicated some of your time to assess and make conclusions. Not to say you actually have time to do a great reflection upon the subjects during the course of the movie. So much going on and everything so intense, provocative and a lot of the times dirty! I mean... there comes a time or two in which it is actually filthy! But... it couldn't be any other way and Steve McQueen knows it. He knows it too well. There's a very thin line between what is actually needed to be done artistically/aesthetically or what is done just for the sake of shocking the audience and leaving a mark. This can also be a very valid argue. If I feel like saying, a minute of two could be taken off... immediately my conscious strikes back by saying: NO! That might ruin the entire thing! So just leave it as it is and make the best out of it. I'm sure that's what McQueen wants. I'm sure he knows what he is doing... 
With exception of one particular scene (not to be revealed), I wouldn't change a thing of what he has done with this astonishing, yet disturbing, motion picture.

Going back on it, I lost my breath so many times... There were scenes in which I almost couldn't bear to look at the screen... but something kept me pulling rather than making me look away. I felt like I was in for the ride, no matter what and just surrendered myself for the entire session! Not that it was a sacrifice watching it. Not at all! But I won't lie and say it was a walk in the park... But if in the beginning I felt slightly teased, as it progressed I felt provoked and some times disgusted, for what I was seeing, but most of all for what I was thinking. I even went so far as relating this to another movie called Mysterious Skin (2004), directed by Greg Araki. This analogy probably came from the fact that Araki's work is also heavily graphic, dark and twisted. But just to outline one of the major differences, in Mysterious Skin, beyond all that chaos and misery I can actually find something beautiful and comforting, while in Shame I'm right where I started. I was left in the exact same position from when I began this trip, through Brandon's eyes! Outraged, sad and in utter despair, like I was sharing his curse, turned into shame!

This is a consequence of McQueen's superb vision and writing, but a lot must be said about Fassbender's tour de force, as he offers the viewer a candid and disturbingly intimate portrayal of a sex addict, being this just one of his (many) problems.

Carey Mulligan, doesn't let her get behind, as she also delivers a magnificent performance as Brandon's troubled sister. The love she nourishes for her brother is only overcome by her insecurity and "maybe" horrible past.
There is more to both the characters than meets the eye... even beneath the information that is given to the viewer, there is a lot more to those two damaged brothers!
Both the actors have made their recent role choices very wisely and they have been getting their hands in a lot of great projects... This particular one comes as probably being the best performance (from an individual standpoint) in some time!

Oh... and about the soundtrack?!
It's a mix of great classic themes, from Bach to John Coltrane, with Blondie and even a slow render of New York, New York, sang by Carey Mulligan. But it's the memorable score by the movie's composer, Harry Escott, that steals the show (musically speaking). One theme only was enough to bring powerful emotions and make some scenes look unforgettable.

So much more to be said... so much left to be written, but I must admit I'm feeling exhausted. The film was enough to drain me mentality, so be aware that this post was actually a struggle on both ends. Needed to recover from what I just saw in order to do some proper writing, but also needed to do it right away, otherwise would be taking the risk of compromising part of the essence that needed to be described.

In conclusion, I just want to make the following suggestion:

Make sure you see Shame in the cinema with someone that is close to you, so both can talk about it later and dissect every single aspect that has either impressed or repugnant you. But don't think of it as an exercise but as a way of "getting it out of your system". 

I assure you, you will want and need to do so...

segunda-feira, janeiro 16, 2012

Detachment - Trailer

I see movie trailers almost every day! Some look good, others look average... The bad ones I can almost avoid just by looking at them. 

Within this world of trailers, just a short compilation of images that are able to tell part of the story, some times you get a trailer that talks to you in a different manner... From time to time, you get something that moves you in such a way, you just know for sure something is special!

Obviously this isn't something for you to take for granted. I remember watching the Peaceful Warrior (2006) trailer a few years ago, and just being completely blown away. The movie ended up being a great disappointed...

"Never judge a book by it's cover", something that I always heard and I try to pass along. But every so often, especially in movies, the combination of certain attributes and facts enables you to take a risk or a wild guess if you may, and predict the outcome for a lot of projects. 

That's what happened with Detachment. As I saw various familiar faces on screen, being one of them Adrien Brody in sort of an essence that took me back to his performance in The Pianist (2002), I let myself be carried away by the intense drama, driven by the hands, of what I ended up finding out, of Tony Kaye, director of American History X (1998), one of my favorite movies!

Alongside with Mr. Brody, you have the likes of Marcia Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston, Tim Blake Nelson, Lucy Liu, Blythe Danner and James Caan.

More than enough reasons for me to make a gamble and say this will be one of the best things that 2012 has to offer... 

... I really do hope I'm right!

domingo, janeiro 15, 2012

If it's W.A it must be good

Upcoming movie directed by Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom looks promising! If the director alone is a good reason for the audience to wait in anticipation, then the cast just makes you be in the verge of a nervous meltdown! Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances Mcdormand, Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel combined with W.A is a guaranteed formula for success!

Be sure to catch it in May 2012


sexta-feira, janeiro 13, 2012

ENUI MAG - O Melhor Funeral de Todos os Tempos






O meu ultimo artigo sobre o lançamento do trailer para Shut Up and Play The Hits, aqui!

quinta-feira, janeiro 12, 2012

Shut Up and Play The Hits



While I was watching this video, I couldn't help myself not feeling a big chill down my spine!

It his without a doubt one of the most influential bands of my generation, one that unfortunately I wasn't able to see live! Maybe I took them for granted... I don't know. I just know it will be one of the biggest regrets of my life not taking the chance to see them when I had it.

Nevertheless, can't really complain. I was able to witness their beginning and end... and between that I listen and danced to a whole lotta great tracks!

Please continue to pay your respects, as we still morn the "death" of LCD Soundsystem...
Enjoy one of the most celebrated and anticipated funerals...

One that certainly will be remembered for ages...

... Live ...

... at Madison Square Garden, New York!



domingo, janeiro 08, 2012

Happiness


by: Jónsi & Alex (formerly known as "Riceboy Sleeps")

Taken from the album Dark Was The Night (2009)

It's really hard to put into words how this song makes me feel... On one hand it can be very sad and evoke a dark and twisted side, while on the other hand, it can serve as an inspirational track. An uplifting melody, strong enought to move you on to making great accomplisments... to go the extra mile and achieve extraordinary things. It has a lot of that "motivational side" I guess...

It would certainly be apart of any movie soundtrack I would make, thanks to it's ability to easily be integrated in any scene! It has a big cinematographic component, I say! Therefore, making its way through many other wonderful tracks on Dark Was The Night and standing as one of my favourites of the indie album!

terça-feira, janeiro 03, 2012

Twenty Questions



Beastie Boys giving it Brazil style... 
(Bossa Nova can never go wrong!)

domingo, janeiro 01, 2012

Best of 2011 - From my perspective


So, we have reached that time of the year... The time were people make lists with various different tops! 

Some make their top photos and videos... others their favourite moments on screen... while others do their top albums and movies! 

Since I'm a big cinema and music fan, it's only natural that I would focus on those two areas to compile my Top 10 of 2011. Therefore I will present you a list, based on my own personal taste...

Be aware that there are many films and albums that I hadn't had the opportunity to watch/listen... Due to lack of time, but also because certain candidates aren't still available in my region. So don't assume this list is my absolute final take on what was good during this past year. This list comes more as a recommendation of some sort, distinguishing the movies I enjoyed more watching, rather than saying "These are the best  ones. end of Discussion." You can either agree or agree to disagree... 

Nonetheless I hope you enjoy the list and if you haven't seen or listen some of my suggestions... give it a try and then let me know your thoughts!

TOP 10 MOVIES
(without a specific order, except for the first three)














1. Drive
2. Warrior
3. 50/50

* La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In) 
* Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation)
* Win, Win

* We Need to Talk About Kevin 
* Midnight in Paris
* X-Men: First Class
* Ides of March
* Bridesmaids


TOP 10 ALBUMS
(without a specific order, except for the first three)















1. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
2. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
3. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

* Bombay Bicycle Club - A Different Kind of Fix
* The Drums - Portamento
* Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Hysterical
* Wilco - Born Alone
* Metronomy - The English Riviera
* The Black Keys - El Camino
* Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo