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Monday, February 28, 2011

The 83rd Annual Academy Awards

Hosted by Anne Hathaway and James Franco

The Oscar goes to...

Achievement in Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland (Robert Stromberg and Karen O'Hara)

Achievement in Cinematography: Inception (Wally Pfister)

Actress in a Supporting Role: Melissa Leo (The Fighter)

Animated Short Film: The Lost Thing

Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 3

Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)

Original Screenplay: The King's Speech (David Seidler)

Foreign Language Film: In a Better World (Denmark)

Actor in a Supporting Role: Christian Bale (The Fighter)

Original Score: The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)

Achievement in Sound Mixing: Inception (Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick)

Achievement in Sound Editing: Inception (Richard King)

Achievement in Makeup: The Wolfman (Rick Baker and Dave Elsey)

Achievement in Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland (Colleen Atwood)

Documentary, Short Subject: Strangers No More

Live Action Short Film: God of Love

Documentary Feature: Inside Job

Achievement in Visual Effects: Inception (Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb and Paul Franklin)

Achievement in Film Editing: The Social Network (Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter)

Original Song: We Belong Together, by Randy Newman (Toy Story 3)

Achievement in Directing: Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)

Actress in a Leading Role: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth (The King's Speech)

Motion Picture: The King's Speech

And the show comes to an end with "Somewhere over the Rainbow" sung by the PS22 Chorus, from Staten Island (NY) and the presence of all the winners on stage. The Oscars will be back next year!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

'Allo 'Allo (British sitcom created by David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd)

René Artois is a café owner in the Nazi-occupied French town of Nouvion. German Colonel Von Strohm is on good terms with René but exploits the café to hide a stolen painting - the Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies by Van Klomp - he plans to sell after the war in order to retire. Unfortunately Hitler also wants the painting and has sent Gestapo agent Otto Flick to find it, but the Germans are not René's only problem.
The French Resistance, led by Michelle, force him to aid their persistent attempts to return two bumbling British airmen to England and all the time René must keep his long-running affairs with two waitresses secret from the wife or risk losing his cherished café.

Starring: Gorden Kaye, Carmen Silvera, Vicki Michelle, Kirsten Cooke, Jack Haig, Richard Gibson, Kim Hartman, Richard Marner, Guy Siner, Rose Hill, Arthur Bostrom, Francesca Gonshaw, Sam Kelly, Hilary Minster, John Louis Mansi, Sue Hodge, Gavin Richards

Why the love for this sitcom: What makes it so different from other TV shows of the 80´s is the innovative portrayal of languages used, with French characters speaking English in a French accent, whilst the English had an upper class beat. Therefore, the poor French of Englishman Crabtree could be depicted by his serial mispronunciations, such as his famous greeting: "Good Moaning".
Other catchphrases include Michelle's famous "Listen very carefully, I shall say zis only once" and René's "You stupid woman", everytime he spoke to his wife.
This show also mocked certain stereotypes, in particular the sex-obsessed French and the posh British nitwits, while dealing with the serious subject of World War II.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Deception Point (Dan Brown)

At the National Reconnaissance Office, in Washington, Intelligence analyst Rachel Sexton is summoned by the President of the United States to verify a discovery which NASA claims will change the future of the planet itself.
In Milne Ice Shelf, the Arctic Circle, teams work frantically to unearth an astonishingly rare object buried deep in the ice. But, accompanied by charismatic academic Michael Tolland, Rachel soon uncovers the unthinkable: evidence of scientific trickery. They soon find out this is not a discovery that anyone wants to hear.
Fleeing for their lives in an environment as desolate as it is lethal, their only hope for survival is to find out who is behind this huge scheme. And the truth, they will learn, is the most shocking deception of all...

Quote: "In Washington it was not at all uncommon for a White House employee, fearing his President was about to be busted from office, to offer quiet favors to the apparent successor in hopes of securing power or another position after the changeover."

Why this book speaks to me: Dan Brown is at it again. This time the much acclaimed author brings together the deception behind American elections - the scandals and lies - and NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, claiming a lot of money has been spent on trying to discover living creatures in other planets, which has never been accomplished, instead of taking actions that would mean a whole lot more for the American people. He also gives us insights on all those UFO sightings in the United States and lets us know of a few military secrets.
Although I enjoyed a few other Dan Brown novels more, such as "The Digital Fortress" and "The DaVinci Code" - mainly because "Deception Point" included a lot of scientific reasoning that took me longer to understand - I found this book hard to put down as well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The 53rd Grammys

The show kicked off with a tribute to Aretha Franklin, as sung by Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Florence Welch and Yolanda Adams.

Best Pop Duo or Group: Hey, Soul Sister (Train)
Note: I must say that I believe the award was for the group and not the song, but this is how it was announced.

Lady Gaga gave an amazing performance of "Born this way". She emerged out of an egg wearing a hat, jacket and skirt combination that brought an 80's look.

After such a performance, the softness of Country Singer, Miranda Lambert, followed with "The house that built me".

Then off we were again with one of my very own favourite songs, "Uprising", sung by English Rock Band Muse. What a great performance, they totally rocked!

New Hip-Hop sensations, Bruno Mars, B.O.B and Janelle MonĂĄe followed with an all-star group performance.

Best Female Country Vocal Performance: The House that built me (Miranda Lambert)

Heartthrob Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son) took the stage by storm, with the help of pal Usher.

Best Rock Album: The Resistance (Muse)

Best POP Vocal Album: The Fame Monster (Lady Gaga)

This was followed by David Letterman, live from his studio, with a Top 10 List: Surprises at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers and special guest, Bob Dylan, gave an outstanding performance with guys playing banjos and the cello rocking to Folk songs, building up to a great rendition of "Maggie's Farm". This just proves that Rock and Folk go together... In the Grammys!

Lady Antebellum performed a medley that ended with their number one song "Need you now".

Best Country Album: Need you now (Lady Antebellum)

Cee Lo Green followed, with the Muppets as his back up band and special guest singer, Gwyneth Paltrow, for a performance that left me totally speechless. Gwyneth is a better singer than I would have thought and I have to state this as one of the best, if not the actual best moment of the Grammys so far.

Katy Perry was next with a fairy-tale start, showing videoclips of her wedding to Russell Brand as she sat singing on a swing, but just as you were getting into an "Awwwww" mood she bounced into "Teenage Dream", complete with a Valentine's Day theme and many hearts to follow on the monitors.

Norah Jones, John Mayer and Keith Urban sang "Jolene", in honour of Dolly Parton, before presenting the following Grammy.

Song of the Year: Need you now (Lady Antebellum)

"Love the way you lie" joined Rihanna and Eminem onstage in a great performance with a Devil-like setting. "I need a Doctor" was then a good excuse to bring on Dr. Dre, leading to both bad-ass rappers trading rhymes.

Best New Artist: Esperanza Spalding

Matthew Morrison, from "Glee", introduced Recording Academy President / CEO, Neil Portnow and they both described, with the help of a back-up band, the accomplishments and future projects of the Recording Academy, going on to honour those who passed away last year.

Then music came on and... On came Mr. Mick Jagger paying tribute to the dearly departed Solomon Burke, which led to a standing ovation from the entire crowd at Staples Center, in Los Angeles.

Barbara Streisand sang "Evergreen" and was also given a standing ovation.

Best Rap Album: Recovery (Eminem)

Rihanna and Drake gave an outstanding, and sexy, performance of their new song "What's my Name?"

Record of the Year: Need you now (Lady Antebellum)

Then Arcade Fire rocked the place with a lot of noise, multiple drummers, a hard-ass violinist... And several people doing bike tricks... Just impossible to keep up with so much light and movement onstage!

Album of the Year: The Suburbs (Arcade Fire)

And the show finally came to an end with the Album of the Year winners rocking the crowd to yet another hit.

That's all Folks!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 BAFTA Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts)

Presented by Mr. Jonathan Ross!

Academy Fellowship: Sir Christopher Lee

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: Harry Potter

Best Film: The King's Speech

Outstanding British Film: The King's Speech

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: Chris Morris (Four Lions)

Best Director: David Fincher (The Social Network)

Original Screenplay: The King's Speech

Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network

Film not in the English Language: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Animated Film: Toy Story 3

Leading Actor: Colin Firth (The King's Speech)

Leading Actress: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)

Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech)

Original Music: Alexandre Desplat (The King's Speech)

Cinematography: Roger Deakins (True Grit)

Editing: Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter (The Social Network)

Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias and Douglas A. Mowat

Costume Design: Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland)

Sound: Richard King, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A Rizzo and Ed Novick (Inception)

Special Visual Effects: Chris Corbould, Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb (Inception)

Makeup and Hair: Valli O'Reilly and Paul Gooch (Alice in Wonderland)

Short Animation: The Eagleman Stag

Short Film: Until the river runs red

Orange Wednesday's Rising Star Award: Tom Hardy (Inception)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Proposal (Pete Chiarelli)

In this film, directed by Anne Fletcher, Margaret Tate is the executive editor in chief of a book publishing company. Her subordinates dislike her for being pushy and cold. After learning she is about to be deported to Canada because of an expired visa, Margaret convinces her assistant, Andrew Paxton, to marry her.
The couple travels to Sitka, Alaska, Andrew's home town, to meet his family. During this trip, Margaret notices that nearly every shop in town carries the name Paxton. She then realises that Andrew is an "Alaskan Kennedy".
At the wedding ceremony, after many incidents, Margaret confesses the sham marriage to the entire assemblage. Afterwards, due to the help of grandma Annie, Andrew's parents realise he really loves Margaret. Therefore, he goes back to New York and confesses his love in front of the entire office staff. The couple then become engaged, but for real this time.

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Betty White, Denis O'Hare, Malin Akerman, Oscar Nuñez

Why I loved this film: I am a huge fan of Sandra Bullock and Betty White (since the Golden Girls), so it is wonderful to see them both in the same film, besides the entire cast is fabulous. Such a remarkable story will keep you laughing every step of the way... With the usual lovey, dovey, happy ending, that makes you go "awwwww"!
A great laugh for the entire family!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)

Jane Eyre is an orphan and endures a harsh life, first in the home of her wicked aunt and then later in a cruel charity school. Her position as a governess takes her to the house of the enigmatic Mr. Rochester: a house full of secrets!

A dramatic revelation forces Jane to flee as she refuses to become Mr. Rochester's mistress. In a densely-plotted and exciting novel, Jane emerges as a powerful heroine strong enough to remain true to her own principles, whilst eventually reaching a happy resolution.

Quote: "You are good to those who are good to you. It is all I ever desire to be. If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should - so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again."

Why this book speaks to me: I see a lot of myself in Jane Eyre, not so much the fact that she is an orphan, but her strength... As much as she wants to die and end everything, she remains an optimist, fighting hard for what she believes in, loving the people who are good to her, and finally after trying to run away from the man she loves because he lied to her, she eventually realises that she cannot stop loving him and returns to the man of her dreams, for better or worse, getting her eventual happy ending.
I have exactly the same reactions she has on a daily basis, I just have not had my happy ending yet, but this story gives me reason to believe that it will happen, eventually, when I least expect it to.
Besides, Charlotte Brontë describes the beautiful Yorkshire Moors very vividly, where the author actually resided, which I visited last year and cannot get out of my mind. It has to be the most beautiful place I have ever been, in the typical English countryside.