sexta-feira, 27 de abril de 2012

Movies #22 & #23 - Watchment & Intouchables

I haven't written in the blog for a while, but in the last week I found two great reasons to write again. One is called Watchmen, the other one is called Intouchables. They couldn't be more different. Watchmen is from the US, it's a kind of a superhero movie, it's a drama mixed with sci-fi and it involves an incredible number of resources. Intouchables is a french movie, it's a comedy with sprinkles of drama and it must have been incredibly cheaper. About Watchmen, I must say I'm not a big fan of Super Heroes movies, but this one is obviously not of the typical kind. It completely grabs us by the strangeness of the story and keeps injecting interesting information and plot nods along the entire movie. The acting is great, and the dialogues are phenomenal. I always adore when fiction includes as much reality as possible, and this movie does that even though it appropriates it and changes it to serve the needs of the screenplay. The fighting sequences are irreprehensible and sometimes enriched with the most unexpected songs (see for example the opening scene with a matrix kind of fight sequence accompanied by Nat King Cole's Unforgetable. It is indeed... Definitely a must see, even if it requires a bit of concentration from the start to follow the story. At first, the story demanded so much of me that I felt I wasn't taking from the movie as much as I could. For that reason, and because the film was so good, the next morning the first thing I did was watch the movie again. I can't remember the last time I did that. Intouchables is obviously completely different but in that contrast lies its richness. It goes to show that all you need to make a wonderful and fun movie is put a couple of actors together, a good tbs of chemistry between the two non-gay male companions and funny dialogues. They make the movie and nothing else would be necessary. But on top of that they tell us a story about finding happiness in the most unexpected places. I've written much less about this movie than Watchmen, but that's just it: the best of Intouchables it's its simplicity. Enjoy!

terça-feira, 20 de março de 2012

Artist #6 - Feist

I knew Feist already for many years ago, but only a couple of songs. A few nights ago I went to her concert in Lisbon. Even though I didn’t know it very well, I hadn’t gone to a concert in a long time and this seemed like a good opportunity. I’ve listened to a couple more songs before the concert, but it was during and after the concert that I came to know more of this wonderful artist. She’s a Canadian singer that has acted both solo and within other projects, namely the indie band Broken Social Scene. The concert was amazing. Feist is a very nice, very warm and very passionate performer. She’s not one of those artists who gets on a stage performs the songs one after another without connecting to the audience and goes home. No, she really interacts with the public, tells you stories, teaches you dance moves, invites you to help in on the songs, brings people on to the stage. Besides, she has an amazing voice and is accompanied by a great band and especially great back-up vocals. I enjoyed all the songs and left the concert with a will to listen to more and more of this unique artist. It’s what I’ve been doing lately and will continue so in the future. Definitely, an artist to follow. I leave you with a song that provided one of the most energetic moments of the concert.

sexta-feira, 2 de março de 2012

Three years later

It's been more than three years since I've started this blog, which was the planned duration for this blog. The original goal of this blog was to document my experiences with four things I really enjoy. Specifically, I was hoping that at the end of the three years I had created a list of 30 amazing movies, 20 great new artists (new to me!), 10 captivating books and 10 unforgettable wines. Incredibly, the list of wines was the only to get to the goal. This has two explanations. On the one hand, I’ve been very interested in wine in the last couple of years. On the other hand, regarding the movies, I can estimate that I have seen at least 10 times the number of movies I’ve listed here. There was however a period when I saw a lots of good movies but I was too lazy to report it at the blog. What’s really shameful is how little I’ve read. I know I’ve read more than two books in three years (!!!) but none stuck in my mind and I did have a very low level of reading in the last year or two.
Now that I’ve finished these first three years, and that luckily I was able to get a renewal of my contract for another three years of post doc, I want to make it up for the lacunae in these lists:

1) Slumdog Millionaire
2) 2001 Space Odissey
3) Dr Strangelove
4) It's a wonderful life
5) JFK
6) In the Valley of Elah
7) In Bruges
8) The graduate
9) The Godfather
10) Inglorious Basterds
11) Garden State
12) The Hurt Locker
13) An education
14) Chinatown
15) El secreto de sus ojos
16) The social network
17) Black swan
18) Another year
19) On the waterfront
20) The tree of life
21) Super 8


1) The lady with the dragon tattoo
2) The Road


1) Tim Christensen
2) Elbow
3) Orquestra Imperial
4) Tom Caruana
5) Self


1) 3 Bagos Lavradores de Feitoria (Douro - White)
2) Cortes de Cima 2006 (Alentejo - Red)
3) Dolium (Alentejo - Red)
4) Callabriga 2007 (Douro - Red)
5) Passadouro Reserva 2004 (Douro - Red)
6) S de Soberanas (Terras do Sado – Red)
7) Malhadinha 2007 (Alentejo – Red)
8) Douro Conceito 2009 (Douro – White)
9) Paulo Laureano Premium 2008 (Alentejo – Red)
10) Casa Santa Vitória 2008 (Alentejo – Red)

domingo, 26 de fevereiro de 2012

Oscar bets results

It just finished!
It was a very traditional cerimony, with great writing and respect for pace.
There were no big surprises neither at the cerimony neither at the awards.
I was right in 9 of my 14 picks (64% accuracy rate).
And I was right on the big five. Differently from social psychology, the big five here mean: best screenplay, best actor, best actress, best director, best picture.

OSCARS 2012: My picks

Every year, I watch (or at least try to watch) the Oscars live.
For the second time, I’m in the Netherlands when they take place so I can’t watch it on TV. I’ll try online to see if I’m right about my bets.
See my bets below:

Best actress in a supporting role


Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

I only saw two of three of the actresses mentioned. Bérénice Bejo is in a leading role. So it’s a bit unfair to have nominated in this category. I absolutely loved her performance. In a silent movie expression is everything, and she has it all. And she dances wonderfully. It was also wonderful to see Jessica Chastain in the opposite pole from her performance in The tree of life. But it’s a bit of a goofy character and I would say that the academy is reluctant in awarding that.
Octavia Spencer only has a chance if the oscar for the actress in a leading role would go for Viola Davis. Not sure what will happen there.

My pick: Bérénice Bejo

Best actor in a supporting role


Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Not a lot of information here. I’ve seen two and a half performances. From what I saw, Christopher Plummer is the best. But I have only seen a bit of “Extremely loud...” where Max von Sydow appears.
I haven’t seen Kenneth Branagah nor Nick Nolte. Kenneth Branagah is always a safe choice. But Holywood loves a comeback so Nick Nolte might have a shot. On the other hand, he’s a bit anti-establishment and the academy is revengeful
Jonah Hill is great but there is a trail for the Oscar. This year he’ll only get the nod.

My pick: Kenneth Branagah

Best actress in a leading role


Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

I haven’t seen Glenn Close’s performance so I might be really off here. Form the ones I’ve seen, I would say it’s a good tie between Meryl and Viola. But it’s unfair for Meryl. First, she’s portraying someone so it’s always more difficult because we have a term for comparison. Viola Davis just has to be intense in whatever style she wants. Besides, the academy always puts the bar higher for Meryl. She has like 13 or 14 nominations and “only” two wins. To give the third oscar is something huge. It’s totally deserved but the academy is always expecting more from her.
But in any case...
My pick: Meryl Streep

Best actor in a leading role


Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Only saw three of them. Too bad i haven’t seen Gary Oldman. I want to. He’s one of my favorite actors (some other favorites by the way: Sean Penn, Daniel Day Lewis, Tim Roth...)
From what I saw, Jean Dujardin would be the fair choice. Clooney is really well in this one but two oscars given to such a good looking guy is too much. Brad Pitt is wonderful in general but not spectacularly here. And he also suffers from Clooney’s disease.

My pick: Jean Dujardin

Best director


Michel Hazavanicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

It would be really strange to give Martin Scorcese an Oscar for something so far from his style especially given that i can count at least three times when he should have been given an Oscar and didn’t get it.
I love Terrence Malick’s direction. But a lot of the good vibes coming from the tree of life comes from the cinematography and editing.
Michel Hazavanicius also has a shot. But it’s very hard to imagine how the academy is going to react to The artist.

My pick: Michel Hazavanicius

Best original Screenplay


The Artist
Margin Call
Midnight in Paris
A Separation

Don’t know enough here. The Artist doesn’t deserve it. And I haven’t seen the rest.
A Separation will win for best foreign movie so I wouldn’t bet on that one here.

My pick: Midnight in Paris

Best adapted screenplay


The Descendants
Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

My pick: Hugo

Best foreign language film


In Darkness
Monsieur Lazhar
A Separation

My pick: A separation

Best picture


War Horse
The Artist
The Descendants
The Tree of Life
Midnight in Paris
The Help
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I haven’t seen War Horse, Midnight in Paris and Hugo. Midnight in Paris doesn’t have a good shot.
From the 5,5 that I’ve saw, The artist is the best one. But, as I said, it’s really hard to know how the academy is going to react to The Artist. From the others, I would say The Help has the best chance. And it is indeed a great movie. A good mixture of comedy and drama as is common to see in Best Picture Oscar winners. But I’m putting all my eggs in the Artist basket.

My pick: The Artist

Art direction


The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

My pick: Hugo



The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

The tree of life was received with both great and awful reviews. But in one thing people agree. It’s a great cinematography.

My pick: The tree of life

Film editing


The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

My pick: Hugo

Visual effects


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I haven’t seen none. But I think the Rise of the Planet Apes has good chances here. But if Hugo doesn’t win any of the most important oscars it will win this one.

Make up


Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
The Iron Lady

My pick: the Iron Lady

quarta-feira, 2 de novembro de 2011

Artist #5: Self

Apparently this is not new. But it was thanks to a Weeds episode last night that finishes with this song that I got to know this band. Self is a band producing alternative pop rock music. Matt Mahaffey is basically the creator behind the whole thing. He's the writer, singer, producer, etc. He was already producing for hip hop artists while still in high school. He has a vast knowledge of music that allows him to produce songs combining many differnet styles, within the same song. Below it's just one wonderful illustration. Listen to it and notice how it varies so nicely. Lyrics however are repetitive!

quinta-feira, 15 de setembro de 2011

and that's it...

I knew she had a great voice but I was really surprised by this performance.