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Welcome to my blog!

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My ratings:
❤️ = Loved it
ūüėź = It's okay
ūüėĚ = Hated it

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Directed by Peter Jackson; Based on the novel written by J.R.R. Tolkien)

After the Dragon leaves the castle, the people of lake town see a threat coming, the orcs, dwarves, elves and people prepare for war. Bilbo sees Thorin going mad and tries to help everyone.

Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Dean O'Gorman, Aidan Turner, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Ian Holm, Stephen Fry, John Bell

My thoughts on this film: I loved all the 'Lord of the Rings' books and movies, but not so much 'The Hobbit'. It started on a high note, but maybe because I did not pay much attention to the first books/movies, I felt there was a lot of unnecessary fighting, and there were even points where my attention just drifted away.
I loved the scenario and the film was, overall, well done, Peter Jackson-style, but I am just not a big fan of the story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Top Ten: My Choices

1- Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu?
2- Pride
3- The Hundred-Foot Journey
4- The Other Woman
5- Magic in the Moonlight
6- The Grand Budapest Hotel
7- Interstellar
8- Maps to the Stars
9- The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
10- Frank

1- The Tonight Show
2- Late Night
3- The Colbert Report
4- The Big Bang Theory
5- Grey's Anatomy
6- Derek
7- Franklin & Bash
8- Community
9- House of Cards
10- Cougar Town

1- Balada do Desajeitado (D.A.M.A.)
2- Am I Wrong (NICO & VINZ)
3- Happy (Pharrell Williams)
4- Bailando (Enrique Iglesias & Mickael Carreira)
5- I see Fire (Ed Sheeran)
6- All About That Bass (Meghan Trainor)
7- She Knows Me (Bryan Adams)
8- Animals (Maroon 5)
9- √Č Melhor N√£o Duvidar (B4 BIG NELO & C4 PEDRO)
10- N√£o me Toca (Anselmo Ralph)

1- NYPD Red 2 (James Patterson & Marshall Karp)
2- Trouble Has A New Name (Adite Banerjie)
3- Toda a Mafalda (Quino)
4- Black Roses (Jane Thynne)
5- Doctor Sleep (Stephen King)
6- Confessions of a Wild Child (Jackie Collins)
7- The Cuckoo's Calling (Robert Galbraith)
8- Touch & Go (Lisa Gardner)
9- Inferno (Dan Brown)
10- Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (Helen Fielding)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Maps to the Stars (Directed by David Cronenberg; Written by Bruce Wagner)

The Weiss family is the archetypical Hollywood dynasty: father Stafford is an analyst and coach, who has made a fortune with his self-help manuals; mother Christina mostly looks after the career of their son Benjie, a child star. One of Stafford's clients, Havana, is an actress who dreams of shooting a remake of the movie that made her mother a star in the 60s. Clarice is dead now and visions of her come to haunt Havana at night... Adding to the toxic mix, Benjie has just come off a rehab programme he joined when he was 9, and his sister, Agatha, has recently been released from a sanatorium where she was treated for pyromania.

Starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Evan Bird, Olivia Williams, Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gadon

My thoughts on this film: It takes a look into modern-day wealthy Hollywood life, which is filled with rotten characters, and some really uncomfortable subject matters; hence mixing a perfect cocktail of both dark satire and horror. The film constantly switches focus between the multiple leads, with Julianne Moore stealing the show in the finest performance I have ever seen of her as a morally backward ageing star with a heap of baggage and multiple mental health issues. This film is quite heavy and it really requires the fullest attention to properly take in and appreciate everything there is on offer as the plot cleverly zig-zags between the interlocking characters. Overall, I felt it was worth watching.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Interstellar (Christopher Nolan)

In the near future, Earth will be devastated by drought and famine causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen its lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history has ever gone as they embark on an interstellar voyage into the unknown.

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow, Timothée Chalamet, David Oyelowo, Bill Irwin, Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, Michael Caine, David Gyasi, Casey Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Topher Grace, Matt Damon, Brooke Smith

My thoughts on this film: First of all, this is incredibly beautiful to watch. The atmosphere around it is just stunning!
And so is the cast. To begin with, Matthew McConaughey is not only part of the movie... He is the movie. He is capable of making us feel so many different emotions all along the story, as a father and as a human being. Anne Hathaway is also very convincing, and I have never been a big fan of her until now. And then there is... Matt Damon. I will not say much about his role in the film as not to spoil the ending, but one word can be used... Unexpected (in a good way).
And finally, the scenario/story. I can only say that, more than a sci-fi movie, this is a story about humanity. And do not forget it!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Virados do Avesso (Directed by: Edgar Pêra; Written by: Henrique Cardoso Dias, Roberto Pereira, Frederico Pombares)

Jo√£o is a famous writer going through a crisis regarding his creativity. His affectionate life is also experiencing times of doubt. A very unusual event had Jo√£o wake up one day without realising that the person lying next to him is the one he intends to spend the rest of his life with. Jo√£o decides to step away, become a free person, and most of all, an all-time bachelor. The person who will gain from all this is Isabel, Jo√£o's rival writer. Isabel takes advantage of a single slip-up and steps all over Jo√£o in order to take first place. Will Jo√£o be able to get his inspiration back and finish the long-awaited book? What if the only way to finish it is with the help of his family and the love he left behind?

Starring: Diogo Morgado, Jorge Corrula, Marina Albuquerque, Nuno Melo, Rui Unas, José Wallenstein, Nicolau Breyner, Anselmo Ralph, Bárbara Guimarães

My thoughts on this film: In my humble opinion, this is more of a tragedy than a comedy.
The first thing that entered my mind when I began watching this movie was:'Is it a final project for a film course?'
It really felt like something made by amateurs, and I am not including the actors in this. They did the best they could with a bad product. I mean, you have the crème de la crème in acting, and what do you do? Something out of the ordinary in a very bad way, which starts by turning our beloved international Jesus into a 'figurine of a gaylord'. Something that makes you wonder how much of a homophobic could this director be. I am all for making fun of everything but there have to be boundaries, and this was not even funny!
Overall, I am not really sure what to make of it, but definitely not good!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Trouble has a New Name (Adite Banerjie)

Recently-single model Rayna Dutt does not feel like flying to her friend’s Indian wedding. But she does – and when a mix-up with room allocations forces her to share a luxury villa on Emerald Isle with the gorgeous owner of the hotel – Neel Arora – and best man at the wedding, things begin to look up. Until Rayna’s ex turns up with a new girl on his arm!
Hitting the panic button, Rayna searches for a solution.
A seemingly fake engagement instantly turns into an attraction, but when scandal comes calling, Rayna soon finds herself in more trouble than she can handle...

Quote: "Her hands revelled in the feel of the hard planes of his chest. She liked that his toned body was all lean muscle without the perfection of six-pack abs. She's always found the appearance of steroid-pumped muscles too synthetic - the male equivalent of fake boobs."

My thoughts on this book: This is my first Adite novel, so I did not know what to expect.
The first thing that came to mind was 'well, a lovey-dovey romance is not really my cup of tea'; however, even a romance can have breathtaking moments and Adite surely knows how to use them.
The depiction of the places, particularly Emerald Isle, makes you want to pack your bags and head there. What a magical location for a holiday let alone a wedding!
Storywise, the conflicts between Rayna and Neel are what kept me glued to the pages in a 'will they, won't they' fashion. It is the kind of love that probably has everyone rooting for them, particularly after Rayna's recent break-up and Neel's past, but I must also admit that I wish there were less novels with happy endings, although I do not intend to give away the story.
Last but not least, the author's writing is the best part of the whole book, in my opinion. Having grown up in England, I tend to try to mix between English and American novels, and I am usually pretty fast in differentiating the styles and finding my comfort zone within. Adite's style is among my favourites, since not only does she come close to the usual English style but her depiction of all the surroundings and people is simply amazing! If the story does not go your way, her writing will make sure you find your place among the fascinating and lively guests.
Overall, this is a good read to take when travelling or even to the beach. It will have you fantasising in no time!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)

Lou Bloom is a driven young man desperate for work, who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the dangerous realm of nightcrawling - where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into money-making machines. Aided by Nina, a veteran of TV news, Lou blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Paxton, Kevin Rahm, Ann Cusack, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed

My thoughts on this film: Jake Gyllenhaal plays sociopath Louis Bloom who is down on his luck and looking for a job, something suited for his 'talents'. He stops at the scene of an accident and sees a van and a cameraman filming. Louis begins to question the man on everything he does, scavenging for little bits of information because Louis has now found his new career and knows that just doing the job is not enough, he has to know it inside out to get ahead, and to hell with whoever gets in his way...
Louis Bloom is a robotic caricature of a human being, but unfortunately a lot of people in the business are similar to the man depicted here, or maybe even worse. There is, obviously, something missing upstairs with Louis Bloom, you just have to hear him speak and see the way he dresses, as well as his mannerisms and actions. Yet there are a lot of people in this business who, although they look 'normal', are similar to Bloom. They do not care who they step on. Jake Gyllenhaal's portrait of the emotionless Bloom is definitely worthy of an Oscar.
Overall, this is a nauseating, yet fun, thriller that you will be thinking about for quite a while!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Monty Python Live (Mostly)

The Pythons redo their old sketches in their last show ever.

Starring: John Cleese, Carol Cleveland, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin

Why I loved this show: As a huge fan of Monty Python, I was actually very disappointed not to have been there in person. It was an opportunity to see their very best work included in a single show and there were times when I even felt a little emotional, in spite of being part of a younger generation of fans. And after such hilarious performances, the cherry on top was served at the very ending with an encore of 'Always look on the bright side of life', or as I like to call it, my life's anthem! Overall, as brilliant as it was I really hope it was not their very last performance and that someday my dream to see them live may come true. You never know!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Pride (Directed by Matthew Warchus; Written by Stephen Beresford)

In 1984, 20-year-old closet gay Joe hesitantly arrives in London from Bromley for his first Gay Pride march and is taken under the collective wing of a group of gay men and Lesbian Steph, who meet at flamboyant Jonathan and his Welsh partner Gethin's Soho bookshop. Not only are gays being threatened by Thatcher but the miners are on strike in response to her pit closures, and Northern Irish activist Mark Ashton believes gays and miners should show solidarity. As a result, they find themselves in the Welsh village of Onllwyn, in the Dulais valley, and through their sincere fund raising, as well as Jonathan's nifty disco moves, they persuade most of the community to be on the same side.

Starring: Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay, Andrew Scott, Faye Marsay, Dominic West, Paddy Considine, Jessica Gunning, Rhodri Meilir, Imelda Staunton, Sophie Evans, Bill Nighy, Jack Baggs, Russell Tovey

Why I loved this film: 'Pride' delivers a moving story about pride, friendship and solidarity. When I was not laughing at the incredible performances from the top cast, I was crying at the emotional and moving story that runs through the film. This could so easily have slipped into a tragic or an over-politically charged story, but it was, instead, beautifully written and balanced. The clear messages come through hand-in-hand with humour, all in the right places. Such a wonderful work and a credit to the British Film Industry!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Aimer, boire et chanter (Directed by Alain Resnais; Written by Alan Ayckbourn, Laurent Herbiet, Alain Resnais, and Jean-Marie Besset)

In the midst of rehearsals for a new play, amateur dramatics proponents Colin and Kathryn receive the shattering news that their friend George is fatally ill and only has a few months to live.

Starring: Sabine Az√©ma, Hippolyte Girardot, Caroline Sihol, Michel Vuillermoz, Sandrine Kiberlain, Andr√© Dussollier, Alba Ga√Įa Kraghede Bellugi

My thoughts on this film: In this movie by late Alain Resnais, the scenarios are totally fake, and so are the landscapes, giving it the burlesque feel of the play itself. The humour tends towards the British kind filled with analogies and second meanings.
The acting is superb, and so is the story, although the same scenarios over and over again tend to make your mind wander... I must confess I was struggling to pay attention by the second half of the movie.
However, there is so much you learn from this regarding life and its true meanings from a director who has just left us. Maybe a final goodbye? Some words of comfort? To quote the movie, 'it's always those full of life that leave us while the dull ones remain behind'!

Gone Girl (Directed by David Fincher; Written by Gillian Flynn)

On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne reports that his wife, Amy, has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick's portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behaviour have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, David Clennon, Lisa Banes, Emily Ratajkowski, Casey Wilson

My thoughts on this film: The first half of the movie is a fairly standard 'did he or didn't he' mystery thriller. Then, about an hour in, the perspective shifts entirely and suddenly you realise that you are watching something totally unexpected.
Despite the abrupt shift, I still think that Gone Girl holds together extremely well. Ben Affleck's Nick manages to inspire sympathy without ever being truly likeable while Rosamund Pike's Amy is brilliant and terrifying at the same time.
My two complaints would be over the length: There were certainly a few moments when I wished that the movie would hurry up and get to the point just a little more quickly. And although I am not a prude, there were too many unnecessary explicit sex contents in my view. However, I must say that this film is unlike any that I have ever seen before. I would recommend it to all (with a warning that the adult rating is well earned) but especially those with a dark sense of humour.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Frank (Directed by: Leonard Abrahamson; Written by: Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan)

Jon, a young wannabe musician, discovers that he has bitten off more than he could chew after joining an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank.

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Scoot McNairy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, François Civil, Carla Azar, Michael Fassbender

My thoughts on this film: Despite the title, Frank is not about the titular character as it is about Jon's journey. Jon is an aspiring struggling musician who stumbles upon an opportunity to play with the band 'Soronprfbs' led by Frank. They invite him along and Jon, thinking that it is just a weekend gig, later finds out that they are making a new album. Jon tries to find his place in the band as he uploads their videos onto Youtube, posts pictures on Twitter, and writes about the band online thus creating a viral campaign for them.
I had seen Domhnall Gleeson in last year's About Time and he is turning out to be quite an actor!
Michael Fassbender delivers a great performance even though we only hear his voice for most of the time. But even with these limits he still creates a compelling character, and what a voice!
In the end, Jon finds out that you do not need to have an abusive childhood or mental illness to be a great artist - musician in this case. You just need to write songs from your heart. And do not try to be somebody that you are not.
Overall, I loved it, particularly the ending!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (written by: Daniel Taplitz & Assi Dayan; directed by: Phil Alden Robinson)

Some people have bad days. Henry Altmann has one every day. Always unhappy and angry at the world including everyone in it, Henry sits impatiently at the doctor's office when he is finally seen by Dr. Sharon Gill. Sharon, who is enduring her own bad day, reveals that Henry has a brain aneurysm. This news makes Henry even angrier, yelling at Sharon he demands to know how much time he has left. Faced with Henry's anger and insults, Sharon abruptly tells him he has only 90 minutes. Shocked and reeling by this news, Henry storms out of the office leaving Sharon stunned by what she has just done in a lapse of judgement. As Sharon goes on a city-wide search, Henry struggles with his diagnosis, determined to make amends with everyone he has hurt in his life.

Starring: Robin Williams, Mila Kunis, Peter Dinklage, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, James Earl Jones, Richard Kind, Jerry Adler

Why I loved this film: 'The angriest man in Brooklyn' stars Robin Williams as a dying man, given 90 minutes to live, running around acting like a crazy nut, trying, with varying degrees of success, to make amends for some of life's big mistakes. In the wake of Robin Williams' suicide, the film takes on a life and meaning that no one involved could have imagined. There is an attached melancholy to proceedings as we watch Williams, playing Henry Altmann, indulge in the type of profanity, over the top, angry insults that we will remember him for, all with the certain knowledge that Henry's actions, like Williams' performance, are amongst the last things this man will do.
At the end of the film, Henry's loved ones are left, as we are, in a state of mourning, when all we can do is pay tribute, share memories, and remember with laughter a life that ended far sooner and more abruptly than we had time to process. A life that touched us in a way that no other can compare. 'The Angriest Man in Brooklyn' unwittingly captures what all of us were feeling on August 11th, 2014. And for that reason, if no other, it needs to be watched.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Os gatos não têm vertigens (António-Pedro Vasconcelos)

Rosa, the 73-year-old widow of Joaquim, meets Jó, a poor boy from a dysfunctional family. After Jó's dad kicks him out, the boy finds shelter on Rosa's rooftop. When she finds out, Rosa decides to take him in, and their friendship grows into something strong and real that is misunderstood by everyone around them.

Starring: Maria do Céu Guerra, João Jesus, Fernanda Serrano, Ricardo Carriço, Nicolau Breyner, Tiago Delfino, Joana Barradas, Miguel Santiago, Eva Barros, António-Pedro Vasconcelos

My thoughts on this film: When I saw the trailer, I assumed that something very funny was going to come along. Well, was I wrong!
The story does have a moral duty to it about everyone being equal and deserving a second chance. However, that is all I got from this movie. Everything else was not as funny as I expected and really left me wondering whether I had gotten my money's worth. Maybe I should have lowered my expectations, then I would have left the cinema satisfied.
This is not a bad film; just not as interesting as they are making it out to be!

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Cuckoo's Calling (J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith)

When a troubled model falls to her death from a Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts and calls in private detective Cormoran Strike to investigate.
Strike is a war veteran - wounded both physically and psychologically - and his private life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model's world, the darker things become and the closer he gets to terrible danger...

Quote: "He had never been able to understand the assumption of intimacy fans felt with those they had never met."

My thoughts on this book: The Cuckoo's Calling was actually recommended to me by a friend with the description that it was 'nothing like the Harry Potter books'. Boy, she was right!
It is an o.k. book, I guess, a private eye with a silly name solves a murder mystery, and there is a long exposition at the end of the how and why. The characters are quite well drawn, and the writing is competent, but I felt that the story dragged on for too long. I was a bit sick and tired after a while and could not wait to finish the book.
I know there is a second Cormoran Strike novel out but I will not be reading it.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight (Woody Allen)

Stanley is a magician who has dedicated his life to revealing fraudulent spiritualists. He plans to quickly uncover the truth behind celebrated scheming spiritualist Sophie. However, the more time he spends with her, the more he starts thinking that she might actually be able to communicate with the other world, but even worse, he might be falling in love with her.

Starring: Colin Firth, Simon McBurney, Catherine McCormack, Eileen Atkins, Hamish Linklater, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver

Why I loved this film: I have been gradually becoming a fan of Woody Allen over the years and I must say this is yet another masterpiece by one of the greatest American directors.
Like the master magician here played so brilliantly by Colin Firth, Allen manages to use illusion to keep you guessing the outcome. But like an artist, he is also as enthralled as we are, as lost in the journey, as anxious about the question of life's purpose. Once again, Woody Allen proves that he is both right and wrong in his cynical outlook on life, that rationality and irrationality can coexist perfectly, that one cannot judge or evaluate the other fairly as neither has a framework to understand the other, within this absurd, emotional, light yet great work of cinematic art.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

R.I.P. Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers has died at 81. On August 28th, the 'Fashion Police' host was in New York City having surgery when she suffered cardiac arrest. She was rushed to the hospital, where she arrived unconscious and doctors kept her sedated. On September 2nd, Rivers was placed on life support and finally passed away today.
The world just got a little less funny!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey (Directed by: Lasse Hallström; Written by: Steven Knight and Richard C. Morais)

The family of talented cook, Hassan Kadam, has a life filled with both culinary delights and profound loss. Drifting through Europe after fleeing political violence in India that killed the family restaurant business and their mother, the Kadams arrive in France. Once there, a chance accident and the kindness of a young woman, Marguerite, in the village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val inspires Papa Kadam to set up an Indian restaurant. Unfortunately, this puts the Kadams in direct competition with the snobbish Madame Mallory's acclaimed haute cuisine establishment across the street where Marguerite also works as a sous-chef. The resulting rivalry eventually escalates with such personal intensity that it ends up going too far. In response, there is a bridging of sides initiated by Hassan, Marguerite and Madame Mallory herself, both professional and personal, that encourages an understanding which will change both sides forever.

Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe, Dillon Mitra, Aria Pandya

My thoughts on this film: This is a standard story of a clash between two cultures, French and Indian cooking in this case, but rather than just playing it out as that, we see the young Indian chef take an interest in French haute cuisine and experiment with how he can mix one with the other. The head of the French restaurant, played by Helen Mirren, does not just fall in love with Indian cuisine, but she grows to appreciate what it can add to classical French cuisine.
She also has certain important values that make her a more interesting character. She does not hesitate to try to ruin the opening of the rival Indian restaurant; But when that restaurant is attacked by racists with cries of 'France for the French', she fires the person she believes to have been involved in this and publicly washes away the graffiti sprayed at the entrance to the Indian restaurant.
All the acting is good to first class.
The only thing I would have changed would be the ending. I was a bit lost after Kadam went away... and then came back...
You have to see it for yourselves!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

R.I.P. Richard Attenborough

British film director and actor Richard Attenborough has died at the age of 90, his son has confirmed. I have to say that his latest role which stayed in my mind was John Hammond in Jurassic Park. Attenborough was also a talented director and producer, winning the best director Oscar for his 1982 film Gandhi, which also won best picture.
He had suffered poor health in recent years, being confined to a wheelchair following a stroke in 2008.
May you Rest In Peace!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

R.I.P. Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall has passed away at the age of 89. She suffered a stroke at her longtime home in Dakota.
Bacall was mostly known for her 11-year marriage to Humphrey Bogart, with whom she made her best remembered films: To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

I still cannot believe that one of my all-time idols has passed away, at 63. Some people seem - and should be - immortal. Many may remember Robin Williams for more recent movies like Dead Poets' Society, Good Morning Vietnam or Mrs. Doubtfire, but my first recollection of this funny man goes back to re-runs of Mork and Mindy that I used to watch as a kid. Ever since then I have stayed up to watch his countless Late Night interviews. I could not get enough of his much-too-energetic humour. Mr. Williams was my 'source' every time I needed a laugh. I know those shows, films, and interviews remain eternal but it will not be the same thing. Today I feel completely heartbroken. R.I.P.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu? (Philippe de Chauveron & Guy Laurent)

The Verneuils are Catholic. They are also a well-off and educated couple. Everything would be grand had three of their daughters not married men of different religions. So, the day their fourth girl tells them that she is going to marry a Catholic they are on cloud number nine...

Starring: Christian Clavier, Chantal Lauby, Ary Abittan, Medi Sadoun, Frédéric Chau, Noom Diawara, Frédérique Bel, Julia Piaton, Emilie Caen, Elodie Fontan, Pascal N'Zonzi, Salimata Kamate, Tatiana Rojo

Why I loved this film: This movie manages to makes us laugh at such subjects as the pre-judgment of people, whatever the race. Although the story has a happy ending, you will be amused all the way through. It is basically about a couple that has to cope with three older daughters marrying a Muslim, a Jew, and a Chinese, while the youngest makes plans to marry a black guy. This last marriage is too much for the parents, who had hoped for a 'white, Catholic' son-in-law.
It is, overall, a laugh-out-loud kind of movie!

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Sex Tape (Directed by Jake Kasdan; Written by Kate Angelo, Jason Segel, and Nicholas Stoller)

When Jay and Annie first got together, their romantic connection was intense - but ten years and two kids later, the flame of their love needs a spark. To kick things up a notch, they decide to make a sex tape of themselves. It seems like a great idea... until they discover that their most private video is no longer private. With their reputations on the line, they know they are just one click away from being laid bare to the world... but as their race to reclaim their video leads to a night they will never forget, they find that their video will expose even more than they bargained for.

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, Nancy Lenehan, Giselle Eisenberg, Harrison Holzer, Sebastian Hedges Thomas, Jack Black

My thoughts on this film: I saw many low ratings on this movie, however, I did not take the plot as a copy of the real world but rather a comedy about a couple who made a sex tape and unwillingly shared it with others. It had everyone in the room laughing and I believe that was the point. The only thing I did not care for was the unnecessary nudity (Cameron and Jason running around naked). Otherwise it was fine and a good laugh!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Third Person (Paul Haggis)

Three interlocking love stories involving three couples in three cities: Rome, Paris, and New York.

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maria Bello, Mila Kunis, Kim Basinger, Adrien Brody, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Loan Chabanol, Moran Atias

Why I loved this film: When I went to see this movie I had not heard much about it so I did not know what to expect.
To begin with, the atmospheric feel of the film is top notch. Whether it is the chic, extravagant life-style in Paris, the beautiful and not-so beautiful side of Rome or the busy streets in New York, every city is portrayed in a beautiful way.
The acting is amazing and I could not expect less from this cast! I also got to see a side of Mila Kunis that you do not usually see in her movies and it really surprised me.
Of course, with different intertwining stories, people will argue which one is the best of the bundle. However, I believe each story to be as important with plot twists that I did not see coming. Although, in my opinion, the story starring Adrien Brody was the funniest and it had actually the whole audience laughing out loud, which I did not expect from a drama.
Overall, it had a great cast, good writing and a fine balance between drama, romance and humour.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Words and Pictures (writer: Gerald Di Pego; director: Fred Schepisi)

A flamboyant English teacher and a new art teacher collide. A high-spirited courtship begins and she finds herself enjoying the battle. Another battle they begin has the students trying to prove which is more powerful: words or pictures.

Starring: Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Valerie Tian, Navid Negahban, Bruce Davison, Amy Brenneman, Adam DiMarco, Josh Ssettuba, Janet Kidder, Christian Scheider

Why I loved this film: It is so great to have a movie you can actually watch without being bombarded by violence, sex and f-bombs. I loved it. Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche as artists each struggling with demons that have crippled (in Binoche's case, literally) their creative abilities, deliver wonderful performances, as does the entire cast. The script rolls along at just the right pace with a lot of cultural references such as the likes of Shakespeare, etc.
It was overall an inspirational movie worth seeing!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Fading Gigolo (John Turturro)

Fioravante decides to become a professional Don Juan as a way to make money and help his cash-strapped friend, Murray, who acts as his 'manager'.

Starring: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone, Sofía Vergara

My thoughts on this film: I have taken long to write about this movie because, even now, I am not sure how to feel about it.
To begin with, it is a little strange to see Woody Allen in a film that was not written by him, but on the other hand the Turturro/Allen duo works. It is probably the only part of the movie that actually works.
Vanessa Paradis is a good actress and has been proving so throughout her career but the story is just a strange one with an out-dated message: we all need love.
However, I was glad about the not-so-happy ending. I was a little sick and tired of the same old 'happy ever after'...
Overall, it is an entertaining movie, but that is all it is: entertaining.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Will Ferrell & Adam McKay)

Having left San Diego for New York City, Ron Burgundy is living the high life with his wife Veronica Corningstone and son Walter Burgundy. However, when the boss decides to promote Veronica to full time lead anchor and fire Ron, everything changes. Now heading back to San Diego, Ron is washed up and working part time at Sea World. However, his shot at redemption comes in the form of a man named Freddie Schapp - an executive producer at the Global News Network, the world's first 24-hour round the clock news channel. He hires Ron, who proceeds to reunite the news team of Champ, Brick, and Brian, and head back to New York City. While there, Ron and his news team are given the graveyard shift and a challenge. Ron comes up with a radical new idea to transform the news, which puts him at the top of the game once again.

Starring: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, Dylan Baker, Meagan Good, Judah Nelson, James Marsden, Greg Kinnear, Kristen Wiig, Fred Willard, Harrison Ford, Eliza Coupe, Sacha Baron Cohen, Marion Cotillard, Will Smith, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Carrey, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Amy Poehler, John C. Reilly, Vince Vaughn, Kanye West

My thoughts on this film: I liked the first movie a lot, however, as funny as the second one might have been, it was not as good. But then again that is the problem with sequels, it is always hard to live up to the first movie.
I also think they made Brick too retarded. His character was funnier in the original film.
Overall, this is a fun movie to watch, but the first one is a lot better!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Anchorman: The legend of Ron Burgundy (directed and written by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell)

In 1970s San Diego, journalism was a well respected profession and people actually cared about what they saw on TV. And the top rated anchorman in the city was Ron Burgundy. And his news team was equally as good as he was. Professional jock and former professional baseball player Champ Kind handled the sports, the curiously dim witted Brick Tamland handled the weather, and ladies' man Brian Fantana handled the on-field reporting. However, the TV station Burgundy works for has embraced diversity and hired a beautiful new female anchor named Veronica Corningstone. While Ron Burgundy and the rest of the news team enjoys fighting with competitors, drinking, and flirting with the ladies, Veronica quietly climbs her way to the top.

Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Kathryn Hahn, Fred Armisen, Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, Jack Black, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins, Jerry Stiller, Vince Vaughn

Why I loved this film: This is Will Ferrel up to his usual shenanigans. I laughed the entire way through the movie. However, do not expect a super plot or a twist, it is a simple comedy. But you are bound to laugh so hard that you will not be able to breathe. This movie also features the greatest comedy stars teaming up together to form a perfect icing on a pretty good cake!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Delivery Man (Ken Scott)

David Wozniak has always led a calm life: he delivers meat for the family business, and although he has a good heart, David is immature and unreliable with many debts. But when Wozniak finds out that he is the biological father of 533 children due to sperm donations made 20 years ago, everything changes... Delivery Man is a about the hardships of life and how we should seize opportunities in order to become better people.

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Dave Patten, Adam Chanler-Berat, Britt Robertson, Jack Reynor, Amos VanderPoel, Matthew Daddario

My thoughts on this film: This is not only about children searching for a father, but a father searching for the meaning of the term itself. It is particularly lovely to see David interact, silently, with his profoundly disabled son, and a guaranteed tearjerker.
David’s inability to grow up serves as a launching pad to asking some pretty fascinating questions about what it means to take responsibility not just for your own life, but for the lives of those you helped bring into this world. Of course, given that this is first and foremost a comedy, plenty of time is devoted to exploring the absurdity of the situation.
In the end, I took from this movie the fact that we should accept the people we care about, warts and all, and trust that they will always stand by us when we need them the most. For those who find themselves alone in this world, that defines 'family' just as much as sharing our genes with someone who, by choice or by fate, has fallen out of our lives.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Marriage Bargain (Jennifer Probst)

Loyalty, intelligence, and humour - a recipe for the perfect man - quite literally, as Alexa is making a potion to summon herself a knight in shining armour. Impulsive bookshop owner Alexa is willing to try anything in order to save her family home. But has she inadvertently summoned the devil?
Handsome billionaire Nicholas Ryan, brother of Alexa's best friend, and the man who once shattered Alexa's heart suddenly reappears in her life. When he learns of Alexa's troubles, he sees a way to help her whilst also helping himself...
In order to inherit his uncle's corporation, Nick must marry, and remain married for at least a year. This is his proposal to Alexa - marriage in name only, for one year, no entanglement and most importantly, no love... What could possibly go wrong?

Quote: "Nice try, but I'm not one of the Twinkies you're used to dating. Take it or leave it."

My thoughts on this book: Even though this story was predictable, the author's storytelling kept me thoroughly interested and made me excited to get back to Nick and Alexa every chance I got! That says a lot about how this book was written. The reader is never in doubt as to what is going on in his or her head, and I understood their fears, doubts and surging passion even more as the story continued. I was, however, disappointed by the ending since it felt rushed and a tad unrealistic!

Monday, May 19, 2014

NYPD Red 2 (James Patterson & Marshall Karp)

When the tortured body of a woman is found on a carousel in Central Park, the elite team at NYPD Red are put on the case. Someone has been hunting down suspects who have escaped conviction for brutal crimes, and this is victim number four.
The body has been scrubbed clean, just like the rest, destroying any shred of evidence. Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald are the best of the best, but whoever is committing these murders clearly knows how to avoid detection.
As public and political pressure mounts, Zach and Kylie find themselves in a deadly game with an opponent who is one step ahead of every move they make.

Quote: "You suffer from what we in the profession call the grown-man-dumb-as-shit syndrome."

Why this book speaks to me: I was really surprised by how much more I liked this book than the first one. James Patterson has been one of my favourite writers for a very long time and I must admit that his recent novels have not been as good as his older ones. The second book in the NYPD Red series had a very surprising twist that really blew my mind and brought back hope that Mr. Patterson has not lost his touch after all!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Other Woman (directed by Nick Cassavetes; written by Melissa Stack)

After discovering her boyfriend is married, Carly Whitten tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he's been cheating on, she realises that they have much in common, and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend.
When yet another affair is discovered, all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on this cheating, lying, three-timing rat!

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj

Why I loved this film: This is a fantastic movie with a hilarious twist on what some might call a 'chick flick'. Although, personally, I would not consider it a chick flick as the plot is far from your typical romantic couple scenario.
Also, as a single girl in this current dating world of sharks, I have been in that situation where a guy is not at all what he seems - I just wish I had had the guts to do what these girls did, but I live in the real world -, so I do sympathise with the storyline.
Overall, I recommend this to anyone up for a good giggle and I can actually say that my money was well spent.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

R.I.P. Bob Hoskins

Bob Hoskins has died following pneumonia at the age of 71.
Hoskins, whose screen roles during his four-decade-long career spanned from gritty gangster films to animated hits like 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' retired from acting in 2012 after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of this amazing actor! He will surely be missed!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Revolução dos Cravos: 40 anos

Mais do que um feriado, celebramos 40 anos de liberdade! Estou grata porque hoje posso queixar-me, falar o que me vai na alma, dizer bem ou mal... Sem medo!
Estou grata porque posso fazer as minhas escolhas... Sem medo!
Estou eternamente grata a um grupo de militares que lutou por um futuro melhor para o meu país!
Não podemos esquecer a razão de hoje ser feriado, nem destruir aquilo que os Capitães de Abril conseguiram construir. Como diz a canção, "o povo é quem mais ordena!"
Viva o 25 de Abril, sempre!

"Terra da fraternidade,
Gr√Ęndola, vila morena,
Em cada rosto, igualdade,
O povo é quem mais ordena!"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Black Roses (Jane Thynne)

Clara Vine, a young, talented British actress, finds herself in Berlin and, unwittingly, in the midst of an uneasy circle of Nazi wives, including Magda Goebbels.
There she meets Leo Quinn, an undercover British intelligence agent, and is soon recruited to spy on her new acquaintances.
But when Magda Goebbels reveals to Clara a dramatic secret and entrusts her with an extraordinary mission, Clara feels threatened, compromised, and desperately caught between duty and love.

Quote: "It would be useful to know what those Nazi women thought. It could tell you a lot about the cohesiveness of the top brass. Behind every powerful man was a wife, after all, who heard things he would tell no other living soul. They may be Lady Macbeths, or Caesar's wives. They may urge caution, or goad their men on."

Why this book speaks to me: What is slightly unusual in this novel is that the action focuses on the wives of the Nazi leaders rather than the better known men themselves. The focus is on Magda Goebbels, who actually had a more complex background and personal history than I would ever have guessed. This story is based on extensive research into the Nazi wives' and girlfriends' real lives and in this case truth appears to be stranger than fiction.
The only disappointment was the ending, since I guess I expected more, but I have come to realise that there is a sequel, so I cannot call it an 'ending' after all.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

This recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune.

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson

My thoughts on this film: There is not much to the story but it is a quite amusing one - although not as amusing as one would have thought from watching the trailer. The visuals are also absolutely delightful. However, the best part, in my humble opinion, is that the film is loaded with great cameos and little roles giving it that extra flavour.

Friday, April 11, 2014

R.I.P. Sue Townsend

This really breaks my heart. When you love reading as much as I do you really need to give credit to some authors for getting you started. Adrian Mole was not the first book I ever read, but it is among the very first ones that had me hooked on literature. Besides Adrian Mole, Sue also wrote many other different, yet extremely funny, stories. So, it really breaks my heart to know that this amazing author will not be writing anymore.
Sue Townsend passed away last night. The 68-year-old writer suffered a stroke.
This is such a loss for British culture. May she rest in peace!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

R.I.P. José Wilker

Existem refer√™ncias que marcam a nossa inf√Ęncia/juventude. S√£o essas refer√™ncias que fazem de n√≥s aquilo que somos e, quando damos pela falta delas, apercebemo-nos que o mundo est√° a mudar, todos caminhamos para a velhice e nada mais ser√° o mesmo.
Eu cresci em Inglaterra, mas vinha passar todas as f√©rias a Portugal e, como tal, acompanhava as novelas que passavam por c√°. Uma dessas minhas refer√™ncias foi o Roque Santeiro, representado pelo excelente Jos√© Wilker. O impacto foi tal que ainda hoje se fala no Roque Santeiro, na Vi√ļva Porcina e no Sinhozinho Malta.
Jos√© Wilker deixou-nos hoje, aos 66 anos de idade (julga-se que ter√° sofrido um enfarte do mioc√°rdio) com um legado invej√°vel de novelas, pe√ßas de teatro e filmes. Entre as suas in√ļmeras contribui√ß√Ķes encontram-se: Gabriela, Roque Santeiro, Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos, etc. A √ļltima novela em que participou foi Amor √† Vida (2013). Ironia do destino, ou talvez n√£o, foi assim que se despediu da vida. No entanto, ficam as in√ļmeras refer√™ncias do que de melhor se fez em televis√£o.
R.I.P. José Wilker e até sempre!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Private Down Under (James Patterson & Michael White)

P.I. Craig Gisto - head of the latest branch of Private - is enjoying the glamorous launch party with his new team when their celebrations are interrupted by the bloodied arrival of a boy with his eyes gouged out.
The boy is the kidnapped son of one of Australia's richest men - but investigating his death is not their only pressing case. Rock star Micky Stevens is convinced that someone is trying to kill him, and believes that Private are the only ones who can help.
As if that was not enough, someone is murdering the wealthy wives of the Eastern suburbs, in the most brutal way imaginable. And if they do not catch the killer soon, the next victim could be someone close to Private.

Quote: "Then he turned back to the stage, hardly able to believe how the demure shy character he'd met at Private could transform himself into this massive personality, this rock god parading in front of them."

My thoughts on this book: I must confess that I read other reviews before writing my own as to make sure that I was on the right page.
I am not Australian but, as Brits would agree, having grown up in England, I grew up watching Australian soap operas (Neighbours and Home & Away were the two most popular when I was growing up). So, when I picked up this book I was curious about how Australia and Australians would be portrayed and came to the conclusion that they must be very similar to the USA (or not, had Mr. Patterson done his homework). Except for names used, there was no Australia in this book but yet another normal story for the Private series, which I am also beginning to get sick of. How I miss James Patterson's earlier and different work!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

R.I.P. Jo√£o Ribas

N√£o tem l√≥gica escrever em ingl√™s sobre algu√©m que fez tanto pelo Punk portugu√™s. Lembro-me do Jo√£o Ribas nos Censurados. Lembro-me das colabora√ß√Ķes com os Xutos & Pontap√©s. Lembro-me da voz rouca do Jo√£o Ribas. Sei que houve outros grupos, mas a minha prefer√™ncia sempre fugiu para os Censurados. Gostos!
O João Ribas morreu hoje devido a uma infecção respiratória. Estava internado no Hospital Santa Maria há 15 dias e não resistiu mais.
Portugal e o Mundo ficou mais pobre.
Obrigada pelas m√ļsicas intemporais, Jo√£o, e, onde quer que estejas, olha por n√≥s porque c√° em baixo jamais ser√°s esquecido!
Descansa em paz!
"H√° dias que tudo te parece errado;
Tempos de agonia;
Horas difíceis, horas infinitas;
Dias em que tudo que tu fazes parece errado;
N√£o te deixes ir abaixo, nem te feches num buraco;
Pensa que é só por hoje e melhores dias virão."

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Heat (Directed by Paul Feig; Written by Katie Dippold)

Neurotic FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn and outspoken Boston Police Officer Shannon Mullins could not be more different. But when they join forces to catch a ruthless drug-lord, they become what you would never expect them to be... sisters!

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Spoken Reasons, Tony Hale, Joey McIntyre, Michael Tucci, Jessica Chaffin, Ben Falcone

My thoughts on this film: Forget the plot, just go with the flow and have a laugh. The plot is not out-of-this-world, but it is hilarious. I was also surprised to see so many known faces in the same movie. It was good fun to watch!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Identity Thief (Directed by Seth Gordon; Written by Jerry Eeten & Craig Mazin)

Unlimited funds have enabled Diana to live the rich life in the suburbs of Orlando. However, there is a little hiccup to this dream life: Diana is using Sandy Patterson's stolen identity, an accountant trying to make it the other side of the United States. With only one week to catch this con artist before his world implodes, the real Sandy Patterson has to take extreme measures in order to clear his name.

Starring: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Robert Patrick, Eric Stonestreet

My thoughts on this film: The cast is really talented and I expected more from Melissa McCarthy; I guess I also raised the bar too high after loving 'Horrible Bosses', which also starred Jason Bateman.
This film has good intentions, but it does not seem to have an ultimate goal as its tone shifts quite frequently. There were plot points that could have been exploited, and others that could have been omitted in order to remedy this situation.
There were laughs in there, certainly, but there were also situations that confused me to the point where I did not know whether I was supposed to care about Diana or hate her, as well as other characters. It was just not straight to the point.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

August: Osage County (directed by John Wells; written by Tracy Letts)

This takes a look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch

Why I loved this film: I have never seen the play on which this film is based so in a way it was good to go to the cinema really knowing nothing more than 'people are saying this is good so maybe I should go see it'. The plot sees a deeply dysfunctional family of strong-willed women coming back together in the wake of a family tragedy. Resentment, past hurts, and bitterness are the underlying themes as the family sits around the dinner table. While watching it, I heard comments that it was a dull movie and people could not understand why it had been nominated for an Oscar. But if you look deep enough, this takes a very talented group of actresses, puts them together and gives them some really strong scenes to get their teeth into. And it is great to watch the cast go at it. Meryl Streep is great as usual and is utterly convincing as someone carrying so much pain that it has affected everything. Julia Roberts is just amazing here and I will not say she steals the show out of respect for Meryl Streep, but these two are the main reason why you should watch this movie.
August Osage County does move slowly and perhaps the story lacks real impact, but the strong individual scenes give plenty for the cast to work with, and they return the favor with a really strong ensemble feel that is engaging and convincingly laced with hurt and anger. There are also a few engaging turning points storywise, but I cannot say much there without giving it away.
Overall, it is worth seeing.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Touch & Go (Lisa Gardner)

Justin and Libby Denbe are living the dream. A beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter. A gorgeous Boston home. A great marriage. The perfect life. And now they are gone.
The scuff marks on the floor and a million pieces of taser confetti prove that the family was forcibly taken. But why?
Flawless fronts can guide secrets and with no witnesses, no ransom demands and no motive, the past must be unravelled piece by piece if they are to be found...

Quote: "Forget for an instant that the man has betrayed his own wife. He's also betrayed his only child. This is the guy you want to run away with?"

My thoughts on this book: Touch & Go is the second book I've read by author Lisa Gardner. It was an enjoyable read...but...there were times when it would just seem to go on and on without a particular direction! It dealt with the issues and problems of the characters for too long! In spite of that, I went along with the outrageous, suspense belief scenes, but seriously, even the story about Tess... Touch & Go just appears to be all over the place without a sense of direction.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Monuments Men (George Clooney)

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys - seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 - possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind's greatest achievements.

Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban

My thoughts on this film: I was expecting The Monuments Men to be much more entertaining than it is. There are seemingly continuous laughs coming from quick one liners and witty character interactions, which keeps the audience somewhat engaged; however, it seems like the first act eats up almost all of the movie. Secondly, this is more about the actors than the characters. If you are there to watch Bill Murray, John Goodman, Matt Damon, George Clooney, or even Jean Dujardin (who happens to be in every film made this year) then you are in for a treat, otherwise, it is not worth it (or maybe the bar was raised too high due to all the publicity).
It is not the worst movie made, but it is the most disappointing film of 2014 as of yet.

Monday, March 03, 2014

It's Oscar Time: 2014 Academy Awards

Hosted by Ellen DeGeneres

Best actor in a supporting role: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Note: Well-deserved!

Best costume design: The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee & Robin Mathews)

Best animated short film: Mr Hublot (Laurent Witz & Alexandre Espigares)

Best animated feature film: Frozen

Best visual effects: Gravity (Timothy Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk & Neil Corbould)

Best Live action short film: Helium (Anders Walter)

Best documentary short subject: The lady in number 6 (Malcolm Clarke & Carl Freed)

Best documentary feature: 20 feet from stardom (Morgan Neville)

Best foreign language film: The great beauty (Paolo Sorrentino - Italy)

Best sound mixing: Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead & Chris Munro)

Best sound editing: Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)

Best actress in a supporting role: Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Note: Best speech ever!

Best cinematography: Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Best film editing: Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón & Mark Sanger)

Best production design: The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin & Beverley Dunn)

Best original score: Gravity (Steven Price)

Best original song: 'Let it go' (Frozen)

Best adapted screenplay: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

Best original screenplay: Her (Spike Jonze)

Best director: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)

Best actress in a leading role: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)

Best actor in a leading role: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Note: Another well-deserved win!

Best Motion Picture: 12 Years a Slave

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club (Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack)

This film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée is set in Dallas 1985. Electrician and sometimes rodeo bull rider Ron Woodroof lives hard, which includes heavy smoking, drinking, drug use and casual sex. He is a stereotypical redneck: racist and homophobic. While in the hospital on a work-related injury, the doctors discover and inform him that he is HIV positive and that he will most-likely die within thirty days. Ron is initially angry and in denial that he would have a disease which only 'faggots' have, but upon reflection comes to the realisation that the diagnosis is probably true due to unprotected sex. He begins to read whatever research is available about the disease, which at this time seems to be most effectively treated by the drug AZT. AZT, however, is only in the clinical trial stage in the US. Incredulous that he, as a dying man, cannot pay for any drug which may save or at least extend his life, Woodroof goes searching for it by whatever means possible.

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts, Donna Duplantier, Deneen Tyler

My thoughts on this film: I must agree with other reviews that this is probably Matthew McConaughey's best performance. He definitely carries the movie.
The film deals with several themes - AIDS, terminal illness, government regulations, response to crisis, change of life issues, homosexuality, promiscuity, personal responsibility, and capitalism. After watching it, one should come away with a better understanding and appreciation of the issues raised.
However, I cannot say that the 'Dallas Buyers Club' was original or the best thing ever made. The actors made it what it is!
I do not believe this will win Best Picture but Matthew McConaughey deserves Best Actor and Jared Leto should win Best Actor in a Supporting Role!

Doctor Sleep (Stephen King)

In this sequel to 'The Shining', the now middle-aged Dan Torrance meets the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called the True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless - mostly old, with lots of polyester, and mostly married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, the True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel, where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town attending AA meetings that sustain him, and finds a job at a nursing home where his remnant shining power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. With the aid of a cat, he becomes 'Doctor Sleep'.
Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan's own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra's soul and survival in an epic war between good and evil.

Quote: "There was no horror in this thought when it reached Dan. Nor even an ounce of compassion. Only satisfaction. Abra Stone might look like an ordinary American girl, prettier than some and brighter than most, but when you got below the surface - and not that far below, either - there was a young Viking woman with a fierce and bloodthirsty soul. Dan thought it was a shame that she'd never had brothers and sisters. She would have protected them with her life."

Why this book speaks to me: I must say that I have never read 'The Shining' and I was actually beginning to go off Stephen King books because the ones I consider worth reading have already been turned into movies.
Having said this, 'Doctor Sleep' has brought all the ingredients I look for when reading a book: surprise, excitement, suspense, and a spoon full of breath-taking moments.
It started a little slow, catching up with Dan after all these years, but it did not take long to have me 'by the throat' wanting to know what happened next!
I will not say a lot more, since I do not wish to spoil it for anyone who has not read the book yet, but it was overall pretty good! Not five-star good, but quite close!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has been found dead in his Manhattan apartment after an apparent drug overdose. A friend of the actor found him with a needle in his arm, according to law enforcement sources.
The Hollywood star, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the 2005 film Capote, was 46 years old.
My condolences to his family and friends.

Saving Mr. Banks (Kelly Marcel & Sue Smith)

When Walt Disney's daughters begged him to make a movie of their favourite book, P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins (1964), he made them a promise - one that he did not realise would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a grumpy, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get trampled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney's plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the complicated author does not budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as the rights move further away from his grasp.

Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Annie Rose Buckley, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Kathy Baker, Rachel Griffiths

Why I loved this film: It tells the tale behind the making of Disney's beloved classic 'Mary Poppins', but it is so much more than just a typical making of a movie. It allows us to appreciate the trials and tribulations Disney had to go through to make his piece of art. However, it is also about P.L. Travers and why Mary Poppins holds such a special place in her heart.
Director John Lee Hancock does a great job of making this film something truly special. He balances witty humour with emotional depth, but does so without being too sappy or melodramatic.
The performances are top-notch. Tom Hanks makes a pretty good Disney, but the real standouts are Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell. They give strong dimensional performances that make us truly care for the characters. Colin Farrell really surprised me.
Overall, 'Saving Mr. Banks' is a truly great and beautifully told film. It is an example of why we go to the movies and what Disney stands for as an entertainment corporation. Definitely worth seeing!

Monday, January 27, 2014

American Hustle (Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell)

American Hustle tells the story of brilliant conman Irving Rosenfeld, who along with his equally cunning and seductive partner Sydney Prosser is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso. DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers that is as dangerous as it is enchanting. Carmine Polito - the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator - is caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving's unpredictable wife Rosalyn could be the one to pull the thread that brings their entire world crashing down.

Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Pe√Īa, Shea Whigham, Elisabeth R√∂hm, Robert De Niro

Why I loved this film: I would not call this 'the best movie of all times' but it is a great comedy to watch and great entertainment with a good enough plot and brilliant actors.
I would not compare this to 'The wolf of Wall Street' but it is good enough and worth being nominated.
I did not stop laughing from beginning to end and, believe it or not, they managed to get my attention throughout the entire movie, so something must have been done right!
I love seeing Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in all these different roles. A good actor has to be versatile and these two have proven that they are much more than people give them credit for.
I do not care much for Amy Adams, while Christian Bale was just unrecognisable! Once a good actor, always a good actor!
I was also surprised and loved Robert De Niro's cameo appearance, although it felt like 'Silver Linings Playbook' all over again.
Finally, I am not much of a fan of Louis C.K.'s stand-up comedy but I loved seeing him here. His scenes probably made me laugh the hardest!
Overall, this is a great film to watch, I recommend it, but do not expect to see the best movie ever made!