terça-feira, fevereiro 28, 2012

The Help (2011)


After watching The Help (2011), I felt compelled to writing a small post (knowing myself, I know it will not be the case)... The reasons? They are good and bad - this last word may being a bit too harsh... so lets just say "less positive".

Even with no prior knowledge, it was obvious this feature was based on a book.

Too many characters, all of them with their own background, each with their own detailed characteristics, providing different ingredients to the viewers on the other side.

Both author and director did their best to juggle with the audience's emotions shifting between displays of love, humor and tenderness, going all the way to mischief and dreadful villainy, sorrow and grief...

If sometimes this does have the right effect on people, on other occasions it can be forced or just very cheesy... Sometimes it was how the movie felt. Just ordinary, with little interest!

But most of the time, it lingered between good and great, much to the efforts of an ensemble cast, lead by Viola Davis, again with a brilliant showcase of her skills. You also had other great contributions from names such as Jessica Chastain and even the legendary Sissy Spacek, who I recently saw shinning in Get Low (2009).

But with the "goods" and "greats", one thing is for sure... it's not outstanding! The praise around the movie feels exaggerated and the don't get me started on Octavia Spencer, who just won an Oscar for her secondary role. I'll admit, the competition wasn't the best, but still... Winning an Oscar? Didn't felt like she done enough!
Even though they were in different categories (this case being something more like "Heavyweight vs. Lightweight") Octavia Spencer is miles away from the same class that Miss Davis displayed on screen.

On the other hand, I've enjoyed quite a lot seeing Bryce Dallas Howard! She delivered what she was probably asked. A obnoxious woman, easy to dislike. But her success had a big influence from the script!It all looks much simpler on screen when the characters in the book are well written. I guess Bryce as a lot to thank to Kathryn Stockett.

Meanwhile, I couldn't help myself to draw comparisons with Spielberg's movie The Color Purple (1985). Although far from being the same story, they have some themes in common and both were based in a novel. This comparison came only as a guidance to separate a good movie from a great one, being The Help far from the same level that Spielberg handover with his 1985 drama.

So, what's my final verdict?

The Help is a good movie, one that I can see/understand why the Academy would go for... but my standards are high and also quite different from the Hollywood's judging panel, so to put it quite simple, I don't share the same view as some of the critics. I wasn't baffled, but I would say to any people they should see it. It's still a beautiful film, with a very human story and a moving performance from Ms. Davis, that makes it even more worth it!

domingo, fevereiro 26, 2012

Delta Spirit - Delta Spirit (2012)



I sincerely recommend this album! 

Project number three for Delta Spirit and still looking great!

If you follow my blog and don't know them by now... Boy you're missin' out!









sexta-feira, fevereiro 24, 2012

The Artist (2011)


Without extending myself too much, because it seems like there's not much left to be said, let me just stress how important it is to watch The Artist (2011) in a proper cinema room, in order to take full advantage of the magnificent experience that is watching this mute film.

Almost like a time machine, the audience travels to a past age through the vision and lens of French director Michel Hazanavicius, aided by a cast lead by a magnificent Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. 
Few minutes after the movie started, I was surprised - even considering  I was aware of its success - with its ability to compete against modern day movies. I could see why it was so good, but I'll be honest... Half way through, I wondered why all the fuss about the silent feature. I mean, it's great and all, but to that extent where everyone was just raving about it?! Why? Because it was shot in "black & white" and it was mute? Because the concept was fresh and at the same time risky, while still being able to "pull it off"? Sure... Credit should be given, but it was my belief that it was a good film without being outrageously superb like most critics reviewed it.
That line of though went at least prior to the last twenty minutes of the movie, where from then on until the end I was engaged in every single scene with fascination and wonder, completely absorbed into the action that was taking place. Everything seemed just perfect... from the directing, to editing, to actors performance and soundtrack. However, if having to pick an outstanding element, it would be Jean Dujardin. 
I was completely blown away by the way he took such a hard role and made it brilliant. I still think that Fassbender should be up there with the French actor fighting for the Oscar, having no other being good enough to match them (Clooney, Pitt, Oldman.. The rest still to be seen). Anyway, if he wins it, good for him! He deserves it! As for other categories nominated... all of them deserving of recognition!

The Artist is that good!!

Those are my two cents about the movie... Go watch it while you can!

quarta-feira, fevereiro 22, 2012

Benfica 2012




Há muito que estou para escrever um texto sobre este Benfica... chamemos-lhe 2012!

Com Jorge Jesus no leme da equipa pela terceira época consecutiva, posso dizer que o treinador Português apresenta um saldo bastante positivo desde que assumiu o controlo técnico sob o plantel encarnado. Naturalmente, este resultado aparece como consequência do seu talento e métodos enquanto "manager", mas não só. O facto de ter sido implementada uma direcção estável e organizada, que muito tem trabalhado para providenciar as melhores condições tanto ao corpo técnico, como dirigentes e mesmo os adeptos, revela-se como elemento (ou conjunto de elementos) decisivo.
Pode-se dizer que o Benfica goza de uma "qualidade de vida" praticamente igualável ao seu estatuto enquanto grande Europeu!
É verdade que já passaram muitos anos desde a então denominada "época dourada" do Benfica... É também verdade que não somos o grande colosso do futebol que fomos em tempos... mas dentro da minha ingenuidade aliada ao optimismo tão tipicamente Benfiquista - sempre convencidos que fazemos frente a qualquer equipa do mundo e que todos os anos somos candidatos a ganhar a "Liga dos Campeões" - vejo cada vez mais razões para afirmar que estamos no trajecto certo para devolver essa grandeza sem termos que ouvir frases "cliché" como "ainda vivem no passado".

Os elementos estão lá... A equipa técnica mantém-se igual, direccão idem... a base da equipa mantém-se praticamente a mesma, embora sempre com alguns retoques. O ano passado infelizmente, os ajustes que foram feitos acabaram por não surtir efeito, dado o "peso" das ausências que tivemos de colmatar. A saída de Di Maria e Ramires - e mais tarde, David Luiz - foram golpes demasiado duros nas nossas aspirações, tendo nós perdido os melhores jogadores para cada área do campo (defesa, meio campo, ataque). Tendo o Porto mantido a sua estrutura praticamente intocável e já com maior experiência e rotina de jogo, é apenas natural que se tenham apresentado com toda a força, tendo sido Campeões com muito mérito.
Na minha opinião, o Benfica simplesmente não estava a sua altura e a classificação final, torna isso bem patente. Mas se olhar para a tabela classificativa não é suficiente para ilustrar as diferenças entre os dois Grandes de Portugal, basta olhar para a diferença nas exibições. O Benfica não tendo sido mau - acabou mesmo por fazer uma época de grande calibre - simplesmente não conseguiu ofuscar os Dragões, que estiveram perto de uma época perfeita. Há no entanto quem diga, que o Porto só acabou por assumir a liderança do campeonato, fruto de arbitragens de critérios "duvidosos"...
Eu prefiro não entrar por esse caminho... Não acredito que tenha sido por ai, mas não há maneira de tirar isso a limpo... como tal, basta-nos olhar para a frente e procurar fazer melhor.

Assim tem sido esta época! Os tais retoques de que já falei, revelaram-se cruciais na construção desta equipa 2012, com várias contratações a surgirem, todas com bastante qualidade e influência na equipa. De tal forma acertadas, que gozamos de um privilégio incrível ao podermos recorrer a um sistema de rotação, sem que o considerado "onze titular"  tenha grandes diferenças de rendimento. É evidente que - como todas as equipas - temos os chamados "elos mais fracos", mas nem por isso tão maus ao ponto de comprometer as aspirações dos "Diabos Vermelhos". Vejam o caso do Emerson, o nosso lateral esquerdo... O Brasileiro possivelmente poderá ser campeão pela segunda vez, num espaço de dois anos, em dois campeonatos diferentes. Tudo isto quase "sem saber ler nem escrever"! Olhando para um currículo destes, é fácil ser iludido e pensar que estamos perante um jogador refinado, feito maioritariamente de grandes qualidades...
Quem vê jogos do Benfica sabe perfeitamente que isso é mentira!

Emerson é, nesta altura, um jogador medíocre! Ao ponto de ter conduzido o Jesus a proferir palavras que basicamente revelavam a hipótese de o César Peixoto poder ser titular no Benfica... César Peixoto!!!! Mais do que um elogio ao agora atleta do Gil Vicente, considero um tremendo insulto ao ex-Lille. Lastimável para dizer o mínimo...

Além do Emerson, existe também o Jardel - central de pouca qualidade que facilmente preteria em prol do Miguel Vítor ou ate mesmo do Fábio Faria - e o Matic - médio defensivo, sem estofo para grandes jogos Europeus, que apenas se fazer valer pela sua estatura/porte físico.
Neste lote de três jogadores, encontro os elementos - diria eu - mais fracos. Nada mau para um plantel tão vasto como o do Benfica. Analisando de seguida, os os que permaneceram da época transata juntamente com as novas contratações, facilmente fico de sorriso na cara.

- Artur é de caras o melhor Guarda-Redes que tivemos desde o Alemão Robert Enke
- Garay tem vindo a demonstrar a razão pelo qual pertenceu aos quadros do Real Madrid, assumindo-se para já como um substituto (mais que) a altura de David Luiz
- Nolito é um desequilibrador nato, uma verdadeira "dor de cabeça" para a oposição
- Witsel é um jogador jovem de grande potencial, dotado de uma enorme capacidade técnica e de uma grande polivalência.
- Rodrigo, surge mais forte e confiante após um Mundial sub-20 de grande sucesso (a nível individual). Não é por nada que o Saviola neste momento se encontra sentado no banco de suplentes.
- Bruno César, para mim uma grande surpresa... O seu ar "bonacheirão" e o facto de ter sido remetido para o lote de suplentes no Corinthians, confesso que me deixaram bastante apreensivo, mas de facto o médio Brasileiro tem se mostrado como uma boa solução tanto para a ala esquerda como para o meio do terreno. A sua qualidade de passe e - principalmente - o seu remate forte assumem-se como os seus trunfos.

- Os restantes, como o Enzo ou o Yannick, prefiro não falar. Pouco conheço ou vi com a camisola encarnada!

Reflectindo sob a época de 2010 onde fomos campeões, constato que o plantel de hoje oferece outra variedade de soluções, sendo fácil para mim afirmar que temos uma equipa mais forte. Como tal,  a fasquia torna-se alta e as expectativas de uma dimensão abismal. A qualidade do futebol praticado alimenta o sonho e a vantagem sobre o Porto, que embora curta, oferece algum alento e optimismo, aliado ao facto de termos o clássico no Estádio da Luz. Não sendo esse jogo decisivo, não deixa de ter a sua importância. Jogos de alto risco, ainda para mais com os contornos que assume, torna tudo muito mais "dramático".

Estou confiante... e sei bem o que o Benfica tem feito por mim esta época! É mesmo por isso que fiz questão de escrever este post, na ressaca da nossa primeira derrota na Liga.
Sim, estou chateado... desiludido até... mas não com a equipa, apenas com o resultado. O jogo frente ao Vitória de Guimarães não passa uma borracha em cima de tudo o que já foi feito, e não me refiro apenas ao Campeonato Português, mas também Taça da Liga e Liga dos Campeões. Não se pode ter memoria curta, nem se pode baixar a cabeça... Muito menos agora!! Estamos tão perto de atingir determinados objectivos, e nós enquanto adeptos, sabemos bem o quão importante é o nosso apoio para a equipa! Haja algum bom senso e discernimento na forma como abordamos cada dia, cada jogo, cada lance...
Vivemos em comunhão, assente no mesmo desejo e ambição...

Nos só queremos o Benfica Campeão!
(rima não foi propositada)

segunda-feira, fevereiro 20, 2012

From the depths of Facebook

Here's an awesome story I came across in my Facebook news feed... It's worth the reading!



A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

sexta-feira, fevereiro 17, 2012

The Guard (2011)


Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, The Guard (2011) is an Irish black comedy starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. 

Taking the shape of an unconventional buddy cop movie, this film shows a few resemblances in style and narrative with both Hot Fuzz (2007) and In Bruges, being this last one curiously directed by John M. McDonagh brother, Martin. If that trivia information alone isn't enough, add the fact that Brendan Gleeson also starred in the Belgium centered comedy alongside Colin Farrell. 

Being a fan of all films mentioned above, you can pretty much assume that I had a lot of fun watching The Guard. It's smart, dark and witty! The script is by far the best element of the "whole package", being only nearly matched by Brendan Gleason, who delivers yet another great performance.
One of the best Irishman around, no doubt!
However, don't let these last statements misguide you! I'm saying that these elements are the best this comedy has to offer... but they are not the only good things! The directing is discretely adequate to the plot, giving a well paced action and the perfect timing to each line and "take" to go along... And although Gleeson takes the spotlight, it wouldn't be fair to the rest of this magnificent cast not to hand out compliments on their work. Don Cheadle adds the right elements for the leads relationship to have a powerful chemistry and Mark Strong again shows why he is so demanded these days! Liam Cunningham and Fionnula Flanagan complete my list of headlines, regarding the "on-screen talent".

No need for me to continue writing ...
Watch the trailer and hopefully you'll get a gist of what I'm talking about...

terça-feira, fevereiro 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's day

Over the years, Valentine's Day has lost its meaning, becoming increasingly known as a "commercial day".

The week building up to the 14th of February is a time where people are bombarded with advertising and campaigns, trying to make "lovers" obligated to do something special or simply be kind to their loved one, when it should come naturally in a regular basis, rather than just being a consequence of a big system built to make money out of people's needs and emotions. In fact, talking about needs, these are successfully created into the soon-to-be consumers minds... provoking a desire that probably wasn't there in the first place.  But what can you do? That's the whole point of advertising... But to think of the dimension a day like this has nowadays is just mind blowing!

I'm still on of those who present themselves as a bit naive! I believe that Valentine's day should be put into practice everyday, in a genuine and pure form, thus avoiding the clichés and almost forced demonstrations of "love".

Much more can be said, but would rather leave it at that...

Be it as it may, there are still people out there who make the best out of it, in a truly genuine fashion. To all those people I wish you a Happy Valentine's day!



My Funny Valentine
Sweet Comic Valentine
You Make Me Smile With My Heart
You're Looks Are Laughable,
Unphotographable
Yet You're My Favorite Work Of Art
Is Your FigureLess Than Greek
Is Your Mouth A Little Weak
When You Open It To Speak
Are You Smart
Don't Change A Hair For Me
Not If You Care For Me
Stay Little Valentine Stay
Each Day Is Valentine's Day

segunda-feira, fevereiro 13, 2012

Cœur de Pirate - Blonde (2011)



For me to talk about this album, I must first talk about the artist and how I came across her name.

Some time ago, in one of my Facebook wanders, I saw track entitled Comme Des Enfant (Le Matos Andy Carmichael Remix) by Coeur de Pirate. It was a remix, thus, the melody being electronic.

I was quite found of the song, even though I'm not a great fan of the genre.
Ended up posting the track in my blog (as showed in the link placed above), plus doing some research. Without going that deep, I found out she is of Canadian origin, who went by the name of Béatrice Martin and that she played the piano for a living. That's pretty much all I found out in my little investigation.

Eventually, I forgot all about her until very recently I came to an article regarding her latest album, launched in 2011, called Blonde. I decided to give it a chance this morning and I ended up being quite impressed with her second studio effort! Most of its success, according to my personal opinion, was due to the element of surprise being drastically big. Keep in mind that the only track I've ever heard was a remix, so basically, when confronted by the sweet and eloquent melodies, hand in hand with beautiful French lyrics - resonating almost like poetry - I couldn't help myself to surrender to the young Béatrice. In those 12 songs, written and composed by the "Pirate Heart" (English translation for Coeur de Pirate), you can't help but notice its pop vibe mixed with classical influences. Some songs go as far as having traces of Yann Tiersen. Not insinuating she drawn inspiration from the French composer, but some similarities are there. It's a good combo indeed and she is one to look after! I will soon proceed to hearing her debut album... Hope it is as good as this one!





domingo, fevereiro 12, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston


1963 - 2012

Can't say she was one of my favourites, but one of the great divas of my generation indeed.

Diamonds Made from Rain




The moment's come and gone
Every memory leaves a trace
All that I've come to know
In the lines upon my face

Every storm that I have turned
Each forgiveness I have earned
Every shame that's taught me grace
From you I have learned

No love is lost
No love is lost

That everything is shown to me
I let it wash over me
Like diamonds made of rain
You can find joy inside the pain

Everything that I've endured
For the wisdom of a pearl
I wouldn't change a thing
You can make diamonds from the rain

Every mile of this road
Every chord that's struck my soul
You are the melody
That will soothe me 'til I'm old

If the promises are kept
I'll waive all of my regrets
I can say I've overcome
With you, my heart is open

No love was lost
No love was lost

That everything is shown to me
I let it wash over me
Like diamonds made of rain
You can find joy inside the pain

Everything that I've endured
For the wisdom of a pearl
I wouldn't change a thing
You can make diamonds from the rain

quarta-feira, fevereiro 08, 2012

Strasbourg / St. Denis

by: Roy Hargrove Quintet


Apetece-me usar asneiras para descrever o quão bom isto é...

segunda-feira, fevereiro 06, 2012

domingo, fevereiro 05, 2012

Matthew Broderick's Day Off

Almost reaching the Super-bowl, I decided to make this post due to the connection it has with the large sports event.

As it turns out, Honda prepared a commercial that ended up being leaked to bigger audiences through the internet! It is sort of an homage to the classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off, directed by the iconic John Hughes.

The ad works almost like a sequel to the 1986 movie, showing the actor Matthew Broderick calling in sick to to skip work. It almost feels like a Deja Vu!

See for yourselves...

quarta-feira, fevereiro 01, 2012

Run Into Flowers


by: M83

When I heard this track for the first time, couldn't help myself wondering off through flashes of old memories, compiled almost in a music-video sequence, with M83 serving has soundtrack!
A few minutes later, I was picturing Run Into Flowers as a music intro for a hypothetical CNN special 2012 Olympics feature, with loads of slow-motion scenes...

This just to say... I think this atmospheric song is ideal for any soundtrack you wish to create. It suits almost every environment