On paper they have the best team of the tournament, hands down! No argue possible.
But that alone is not enough. You need to be able to prove it on the pitch. Spain can easily testify to that, as they were considered to be one of the favorites for the podium, but were eliminated by -what we would call - average teams.
Nonetheless, Brazil has been able to show a bit of their "Samba flair" by winning their first two matches in great style. Neymar is obviously on the spotlight and as expected, he is dealing well with the pressures of being one of the finest footballers on the planet - and probably the best of the tournament - and a leader for his country. But like I said, in paper they have a great team... with names that reach out to the likes of Oscar, Hulk, Marcelo... and of course Alexandre Pato.
I recently spoke to him in London (check out the scenery in this venue called "The Cube") and he told me about his expectations for London 2012 and Brazil's quest for gold, a medal that is still to be conquered by the 5-time World Cup Champions.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was announced as the final instalment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, after putting a lot of thought whether he would do it or not. In the end, he cave in... Not to popular demand, but to his - and his brother Jonathan's - idea of a perfect ending to one of the biggest blockbuster sagas in recent years.
The Dark Knight (2008) was a tough gig to follow up, thus the hesitation in prolonging the series, but let me assure you... this movie will not be a disappointment.
(Tim Burton's Batman - 1989)
I have to say, even thought I'm highly impressed with the more recent versions I still reside as a big fan of Tim Burton's portrayal of the Dark Knight... in every single aspect. The 1989 Batman had a great opening sequence (not really relevant, but something I loved), Danny Elfman's main theme and the overall soundtrack was sublime, the way how Gotham city was stylized and put into life was incredibly creative, Burton's whole direction was amazing, in fact, I goes as far as saying that this project literally could not have had a better director. And the cast...
(Joker - Jack Nicholson | Batman - Michael Keaton)
With all due respect to Heath Leadger's magnificent performance, I have to say I much rather see Mr. Jack Nicholson as The Joker, even conceding the fact that their approaches are quite different from one another. I'm a bigger fan of Nicholson's mannerisms and his dark humour (the movie has such great lines). For some this can be very subjective. Some can argue the characters are based in different takes from the comic books, but when it comes down to picking one, I don't hesitate at all.
The same goes to Michael Keaton's Batman, who takes the first spot in the podium over the likes of Christian Bale, Val Kilmer or George Clooney. A lot of you might not even know this, but Michael Keaton's casting was highly criticized because of his comedic background, including Burton's other feature Beetle Juice (1988). Critics and audience felt like Keaton wouldn't provide a serious and dark element, much needed for the "Caped Crusader", but soon enough they were proven wrong and Keaton was praised by many.
Having said this, even with such "competition" - which in fact shouldn't be considered that way since they only increase Batman's popularity - Nolan's take is quite modern/contemporary, having crossed the fictional border into a more human and realistic territory... and all with such quality. Every now and then comes a trilogy which all three movies are regarded in the same level. This is one of those rare examples...
So what to say about The Dark Knight Rises?
It doesn't center as much on the "Bats" but around every other character around him and his precious city of Gotham. Bruce Wayne is definitely in focus, having to face an adversary like never before (even thought Joker is the most popular, Bane was by far his biggest challenge in the comic books) and Anne Hathaway is unbelievably convincing as Cat-Woman. I had my doubts about her, but was converted into a believer. She is fierceful, sexy, witty and knows how to lay some smackdown.
I strongly feel that Nolan could easily continue his work with the DC Comics hero with the same high consistency the previous ones had, but can't really judge him on his decision. We can only thank him for delivering an epic finale that will resonate for ages. I'm pretty sure these features will go down in cinema history. Be sure to watch it - and if you have access to an IMAX theatre, watch it there. It's worth the extra money.
First of all, let me start by apologizing for this long absence, but I was away on holiday back to my dear home in Cascais, Portugal.
I'm aware this was the longest break I took from the blog, but in my defense, work has been limiting my writing time - and social as well - therefore, it was clear for me that I needed a break. And yes, I know this is not something crucial making it useless my action of justification, however, just wanted to let the readers know that I'm not becoming sloppy.
Having said that... let's "get down to business"...
Another year, another Optimus Alive... and even though more than a week as passed by and the topic isn't as fresh, I could not contain myself. This is something I needed to write about, while sharing a few stills and videos of my own.
- I must warn you, the videos are small bits and pieces and not the entire tracks -
As always, the people responsible for this festival brought to the audience a line-up that can only be described as: superb. And this is not only according to my standards, but to the thousands of attendants who came all across Europe to see some of their favourite bands, be it a revival or just to get a taste of the trendiest sounds across the music sphere.
There was sounds to go around and please all sorts of people... From cult rock vanguard to new beats and rhymes, going on to the best club tunes... even a breed of Portuguese artists had their chance to bombard those around the stage with their explosive and dancy tunes. Examples that will fit into all these categories that I just mentioned are The Stone Roses, Santigold, Justice and Buraka Som Sistema. If these names alone don't seem to impress you, let me just add a few more to the mix: Radiohead, The Cure, Metronomy, Mumford & Sons... are just a few of a star cast that Lisbon hosted in this year's edition.
From a personal point of view, I feel as times goes by, that I don't have the same energy - consequence of a working routine that I've acquired during my stay in London - and yet my desire to come next year remains the same, such is the quality provided in every single aspect of this event. Logistically is one of the best "fests" I've ever been to, considering its dimension, the options/conditions they present and the amount of high quality gigs. And there were plenty of these lasts ones...
Mumford & Sons are likely to top my list as the best live performance. The British folk band made justice to their reputation as one of the best live acts in Europe by putting a mesmerizing show with such power and charisma that everyone - including those who knew nothing about the group - raved about. It was memorable in every way, from the track list, to the arrangements they made and energy they putted in to their music. And the crowd was ready to receive what was being given, which is always good.
Another of the highlights were Justice, who made everyone wiggle their arms in the air or - if the space allowed - put up their best dance moves with contemporary classics such as D.A.N.C.E and We Are Your Friends. Too bad the sound volume was so low. Justice needed their music to be boosted up, which would go great with the fantastic visual performance, trademark of the French duo.
Santigold are in the list, because they were completely fresh and unexpected, making them one of the biggest surprises/revelations of those three days. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, they were half way through Desperate Youth, one of the few singles that I know and by far my favourite. Like a calling, as soon as I felt the music resonate in the air, I made my way sprinting to the crowd so I could witness that epic song. The rest that followed completely justified their spot in my "best of".
Up next in the list are Metronomy and The Maccabees, who I had the chance to see live back in London. I have to say though... The Maccabees have so many great songs that gain from an audience who knows how to sing along... and this time people just seemed to not know the lyrics. This is not by any means any kind of criticism. Just stating something that I've witnessed before and that gave the gig a different dynamic. William Powers for instance, just makes the whole trip to the arena worth it. Regardless of this, it was still a great gig, surpassing the one I saw in the British capital.
Metronomy were probably the second best gig and the perfect ending for the festival. After three intense days (and as I said) I lacked the same energy to face another session of singing and dancing, however, Metronomy's effort took over the crowd and just pumped every single person in that area. A lot of credit has to be given to the audience who behaved in excellent manor by demonstrating their appreciation for their music. Keep in mind this was Sunday (a lot of people worked the next day) and that it was 3'Oclock in the morning when they took over the stage. Guess what... It was crowded! And people sang and danced like it was the first day, with all levels of stamina charged and ready to go.
I would also like to include in this list The Kills, Noah and the Whale and Radiohead, but I won't... for the following reasons:
Noah and The Whale should have played longer than an hour. Again, not criticizing... Having in mind their slot - meaning: their performance schedule - I was aware they would only play for that long, however, it would make such a difference... Even so, they were great. Having presented themselves in a very smart/tidy fashion, their folk came through in same style, unfolding what it seemed discreet to a musical outburst, which certainly made the folk group gain more fans.
The Kills were electrifying. Both members had such a chemistry that is hard for people not to react to it, but unfortunately, due to my lack of endurance that night and not being a kind of album that I play on my iPod in repeat, it was a bigger challenge to keep up with the same rhythm like those around me. But credit must be given to the "Rock N Roll duo" has they are likely to be one of these years crowd pleasers.
Finally Radiohead... The group lead by Thom Yorke made their comeback to Portugal after a 10 year absence - not from the music scene, but from the Country - and so, I felt like they should at least play one or two of the crowd favorites. If you think about it, that's a hard task. They have a long and successful career with plenty of remarkable albums full of hits, so.. to make a set-list capable of fitting to everybody's needs and wishes, is rather impossible, but Creep - a track that I'm not particularly fan of - should have made it into their selection. And what about Fake Plastic Trees, No Surprises or Karma Police? All of these milestones of their career...
Anyway, it was still one of the highlights, but from a personal standpoint, it left me with a bitter-sweet taste.
Overall, from a personal and musical perspective, these three days were hard to top. Saw many friends, attended amazing gigs and witnessed great atmosphere.
As the cover clearly indicates and from what you can state after watching this soundtrack lineup, most of it was composed and performed by Grizzly Bear, which pretty much justifies why the music arrangements for this film were so good!
I'll go straight to the point... I didn't like The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)!
It add absolutely nothing new to the old installment, regardless of the minor changes they made.
Sam Raimi's version of "Spidey", which cast Tobey Maguire in the leading role was not a perfect Spider-Man, but was at least in a very good level... until the third one came along and all his good work was in a word: flushed! It made Peter Parker look like an idiot and it gave people only ludicrous scenes to remember.
Nonetheless, despite the wrong turn that Raimi and his team gave to this franchise, it didn't justify to refresh the series by making a reboot. The studios and others involved, made it seem like there was no salvage to the previous one, but everyone knows they were just looking to make more money. Let's not forget that Spider-Man was one of the most profitable movies of all time... Do you see what I'm aiming at?
But although doing it for the wrong reasons, I couldn't deny I was looking forward to see it. And even if I had any mixed feelings, those quickly disappeared after the first reviews came out, while the iMDB score just kept improving. The feedback was so good, it gave me no choice but to watch it.
And why shouldn't I?
Marc Webb, the director, did a really good job on his debut with (500) Days of Summer (2009), the cast lead by Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone was top notch and the storyline seemed to add a few corrections to the original feature plus having a twists and turns that would spice things up a little bit.
Unfortunately, I knew minutes after the movie started that I wasn't going to enjoy it... Dialogues were boring, most of the humor either was dry and just really forced... Most of it seemed cheesy. Now and then something would come up to try and balance my level of satisfaction. How Peter Parker came to use his webs was an adjustment more faithful to the comic books and really enjoyed having Gwen Stacey - Peter's first crush - involved in the storyline, however, Uncle Ben's death, how he came to be bitten by the radioactive spider and the scenes leading up to that, how he came up with his costume idea among many other things, just felt wrong. Like this was a frustrated attempt of making this one so much different than the original. But guess what... even with those changes, it still felt the same, except with a worse villain - one for whom I felt no sympathy for what he could bring - and over the top acting. I really do like Andrew Garfield, but sometimes he would try to make things so overly dramatic, it just made me want to laugh.
Oh... and does Emma Stone playing a 17 year old girl, seem wrong to you? We have all seen before older actors portray younger characters, but even with her good performance, it feel like she didn't suit the role.
The only thing I would say was very (very) positive about this film were the action sequences, but keep in mind, this movie came out 10 years after Raimi's take on "your friendly neighborhood".
This movie may be called The Amazing Spider-Man, but in my modest opinion... it's far from being amazing!
Since its release in 2010, Blue Valentine has been growing through word of month and gaining a cult reputation that keeps increasing as times goes by.
I have been meaning to see it for a while now, especially after a few people raved about how good it is. Kind of strange, considering it was so low-profile... But now after watching it, I feel like it doesn't make any sense for this feature to have remained so "hidden" for such a long time, especially if you consider its leading cast, composed by two of Hollywood's brightest stars: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
Taking us through flashbacks that reveal different stages of each characters life and how their paths came to cross, Ryan and Michelle develop this amazing chemistry that later falls in to despise and contempt reveling how different they are from what they used to be. I guess that happens to all of us really... As we grow older we develop different ways of thinking, of reacting and feeling. For good or for worst, we are constantly changing, which leads me to think of that cliche phrase - of sorts - "People don't change". That's got to be one of the boldest and inaccurate statements of all time. But that's a whole different argument.
Both talents alone make the film worth it. They drag you into their personal dramas, leaving the audience to feel anxious and sometimes remorseful, while on other occasions taking a u-turn by making viewers to share the same love and happiness that the characters experience, such is the contagious way they portray it. You can even almost make their joy your own, which is remarkable! I mean, what a great thing to have from movies! In this artistic and even magical way, you get thrown so deep into the plot, that you feel like you are part of it. That's at least one of my favorite parts as a movie goer.
I have to say thought... this can be quite terrifying, depending on the intensity level to which you involved. Depending on what you experienced, you may be forced to revisit your past and look down on things that are better off making part of ancient times... Nonetheless, there's always good things to take out, if you have the right attitude.
Anyway... A lot of credit is due to the director Derek Cianfrance, who struggled to make this project happen mostly due to funding - or lack of it. The movie-maker waited a few years since the script was ready to go, until the actual filming took place, but the wait paid-off... at least that's my take on it, along with many other critics who came out expressing their admiration towards this piece of work.
But there's more to it than the actors, the script or direction...
Like always, when I'm truly impressed by a movie, its usually because all elements that come to play have made an impression and one of those elements that I give a great deal of importance is of course, the soundtrack.
Believe it or not, one of my favorite bands actually composed it and I wasn't able to spot it. I was highly into it and I said to myself: "first thing after this is over, I'll get my hands on the album". As soon as I started doing some research I came across the Brooklyn based band, Grizzly Bear, who were responsible by most of the tracks. But not only the indie rock band makes the music soar... Ryan Gosling - a musician himself - has one of the film's best moments when he plays the Ukulele singing "goofy" - as he puts it - for Michelle Williams's character. Terrific scene and great track. There's also room for a classic of which I am a great fan: You & Me by Penny & The Quarters.
There you have it... More than enough reasons to get the soundtrack.Combining all of which I've stated in this post, you can easily conclude that - at least from my perspective - this is a well worth 2 hours of your time to spend any day of the week.