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Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016 Top Ten: My Choices

Movies:
1- Spotlight
2- How to be Single
3- Allied
4- The Lady in the Van
5- Snowden
6- Inferno
7- Florence Foster Jenkins
8- The Revenant
9- The Danish Girl
10-Chocolat

TV:
1- The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
2- Rizzoli & Isles
3- The Big Bang Theory
4- Grey's Anatomy
5- Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
6- The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
7- Modern Family
8- Late Night with Seth Meyers
9- New Girl
10- House of Cards

Songs:
1- Cheap Thrills (Sia)
2- La Bicicleta (Carlos Vives Feat. Shakira)
3- The Greatest (Sia)
4- Work (Rihanna Feat. Drake)
5- Side To Side (Ariana Grande Feat. Nicki Minaj)
6- Duele El Corazon (Enrique Iglesias)
7- Send my love (Adele)
8- Entre as Estrelas (Jimmy P Feat. Diogo Piçarra)
9- Don't Wanna Know (Maroon 5 Feat. Kendrick Lamar)
10- I Hate U I Love U (Gnash Feat. Olivia OBrien)

Books:
1- Private Paris (James Patterson & Mark Sullivan)
2- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany)
3- The Murder House (James Patterson & David Ellis)
4- NYPD Red 3 (James Patterson & Marshall Karp)
5- Time of Death (Mark Billingham)
6- Moriarty (Anthony Horowitz)
7- The Santangelos (Jackie Collins)
8- Invisible (James Patterson & David Ellis)
9- Belle (Lesley Pearse)
10- The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (Richard Zimler)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Private Paris (James Patterson & Mark Sullivan)


When Jack Morgan stops by Private's Paris office, he envisions a quick 'hello' during an otherwise relaxing trip filled with fine food and sightseeing. But Jack is quickly pressed into duty after a call from one of his most important clients asking Private to track down his young granddaughter who is on the run from a brutal drug dealer.
As Jack scours the city, several members of Paris' cultural elite are found dead - murdered in a shocking, symbolic fashion - and the French police need Private's help.

Quote: "In my life I have encountered men and women whose dark stories were written in every line of twisted emotion that squirmed across their faces. But I had never seen a reaction that spoke novels before.
Disbelief. Defeat. Dread. Honor. Conviction. Anger."

Why this book speaks to me: It is a very exciting, on the edge of your seat book that you will not be able to put down. You never know what the next chapter will bring.
It is also very scary considering the way things are in the world today. Bombings in Paris, London, Brussels, to name a few. Even though this is fiction, it talks about recent events in Paris.
It really opens your eyes and makes you wonder.

Allied (Directed by Robert Zemeckis; Written by Steven Knight)



In 1942, an intelligence officer encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.




Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, August Diehl, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, Marion Bailey, Matthew Goode, Josh Dylan



My thoughts on this film: First of all, I cannot go on without saying that I never expected to see Brad Pitt speaking French. What a surprise!
Now, back to the film, I had high hopes because of Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. I definitely went into it prepared for a WWII movie, filled with action and special effects. And to be clear, it certainly does have action and special effects, but it goes beyond that.
The action scenes are well choreographed and fun to watch, as well as brutal but not overbearing. Marion and Brad are both convincing, proving to the audience that they are well-trained spies who do not hesitate to kill.
The movie also provided a very interesting look at what life was like back then. This was a time when people partied like the world would come to an end: drinks, drugs, sex, etc. But it was also a time when people watched planes get shot out of the sky.
The special effects are stunning. Many scenes are simply breathtaking.
The ending hit a chord that worked for me. It showed the lengths people go to in order to protect their family. I must say that it left the audience in tears.
Overall, it is a great, action movie, but do not forget to bring tissues for the ending.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Invisible (James Patterson & David Ellis)




It started eight months ago, when Emmy's sister was killed in a house fire. Her death was written off as an accident, but Emmy knows that she was murdered.
There have been dozens of 'accidental' fires across the US over the past year that are all too similar to be coincidental.
One of the worst serial killers of all time is being ignored. And it's up to her to stop him.




Quote: "Well, what's that saying? You can't have a rainbow without a storm, you can't have a diamond without friction? You're just going to make me better. Yes, that's right, that's the old Graham talking. Maybe I needed a new challenge. Maybe this can be chapter two of our story."

My thoughts on this book: What a refreshing change from some of the very disappointing reads that have been released recently under the James Patterson brand. This book is like going back to the early stories, which were a big success with their short punchy chapters and plenty of action. Again, this book is co-written so it is difficult to tell what input Patterson had exactly but nevertheless it ticks all the boxes.
A very entertaining read that I found difficult to put down due to the tension it produced.

Café Society (Woody Allen)



In the 1930s, a Bronx native moves to Hollywood and falls in love with a young woman who is seeing a married man.




Starring: Steve Carell, Sheryl Lee, Paul Schackman, Jeannie Berlin, Ken Stott, Richard Portnow, Jesse Eisenberg, Sari Lennick, Stephen Kunken, Corey Stoll, Kristen Stewart, Don Stark, Gregg Binkley, Anthony DiMaria, Parker Posey, Paul Schneider, Shae D'lyn, Lev Gorn, Steve Rosen, Douglas McGrath, David Pittu, Taylor Carr, Debra Lord Cooke, Blake Lively, Rob Ashkenas, Armen Garo, Sebastian Tillinger, Bettina Bilger, Tony Sirico

My thoughts on this film: An upbeat young man falls in love with a girl in 1930s Hollywood. This movie combines a perfect balance between cinematography and tone, and the acting brings to life the superb emotive dialogue that is the driving force for the narrative. The 1930s world built by Allen is fantastic as is the chemistry between the two leads, Eisenberg and Stewart. Supporting characters are effectively used to develop the story as they contend with real world issues and the existential questions that keep us awake at night. A round of applause, once again, for Woody Allen who has shown us that he is truly one of the greats of cinema. Bravo!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Murder House (James Patterson & David Ellis)

No. 7 Ocean Drive is a house with a horrific past.
It was the setting for a series of depraved killings in the small seaside town of Bridgehampton that have never been solved. Neglected, empty, and rumoured to be cursed, it is known as the Murder House, and locals keep their distance.
Detective Jenna Murphy is hoping to escape her troubled past and rehabilitate a career on the rocks. But when a Hollywood power broker and his mistress are found dead in the abandoned Murder House, Jenna becomes involved in a case that at first seems open and shut, but soon reveals more secrets than she could possibly imagine.

Quote: "I turned down several offers to get together, for dinner or drinks or an afternoon at the beach. I was resentful. I wanted to punish him. And now he's gone, and I'd do anything to have those weeks back. I'd tell him how much I love him, how he saved my life so many times, in so many different ways."

Why this book speaks to me: Right from the start, everything about this thriller intrigued me. The title, the cover, the summary... Every single thing. I was stumped until the very end. I thought for a tiny second I had it figured out but then double guessed myself and blew it off. It turns out that my prediction was right.
This book is definitely a page turner. I could not put it down. Every chapter had something new that added to the mystery.
Twists and turns and all types of exciting things make it that much enjoyable!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chocolat (Roschdy Zem)

This is the life story of Rafael Padilla, a former slave in Cuba, who unexpectedly became a star clown in the Paris of the Belle Epoque. Discovered in a small country circus in the North of France by George Footit, a British clown and acrobat, they formed a successful duo, 'Footit and Chocolat'. For two decades, and despite conflicts between the two artists, Footit as the authoritarian white clown and Chocolat as the Auguste Black drudge, filled crowds with enthusiasm. But nothing lasts forever and the glory of Chocolat, despite his high ambitions, started to decline until his premature death in 1917.

Starring: Omar Sy, James Thierrée, Clotilde Hesme, Olivier Gourmet, Frédéric Pierrot, Noémie Lvovsky, Héléna Soubeyrand

My thoughts on this film: Although the director and writers proclaimed their intention of re-introducing a once famous French artist who by the dawn of the 21st Century had slipped into obscurity for a contemporary audience, the issues of race, though certainly a factor of Chocolat's life, are addressed far more strongly than they most likely were back in the days. Of course, Chocolat's entire career was based around his otherness and influenced more by the ignorant cultural notions of white audiences than they were by reality, but that did not stop him from becoming one of the top theatrical artists of his day. And he was known to be proud of that achievement, even though much of his acts involved getting his arse kicked by a white clown.
But the blatant, painful melodrama of his life suggested by this movie is more of an attempt to remind modern audiences of the insanity and humiliation on which his career was based rather than on actually reported events. Not to mention Chocolat's private demons involving women, booze, drugs and gambling, which add further obstacles to his career beyond simply attempting to add diversity to his stage acts. Basically, by adding all these other troubles, the writers make it clear that Chocolat is an artist like any other, dealing with the same pitfalls of fame that other artists experienced.
The performances were the best part. Omar Sy may actually have hit a career high note on this one by delivering what is certainly an extremely convincing performance. He moves from merry clown entertaining women and children to broken, down-on-his-luck artist plagued by rampant racism seemingly effortlessly. Not to mention that he and his co-star James Thierrée are equally matched, with the latter playing a perfect counterpart as the stage obsessed but otherwise grumpy and serious clown Footit, a total opposite to the light-hearted Chocolat in many other respects beyond race. The duo makes for a strikingly different pair of personalities you could hardly imagine sharing the circus, though the ultimate break-up feels like an inevitable event from the get-go. The circumstances involving their separation were not as 'black and white' as this film suggests though. Again, the film feels the need for distorting the truth in order to underscore the malign racism of the era. That message is well received, but the historical character of Chocolat is not aided by hammering home the message so harshly. However, thanks to this movie, he is also not forgotten.
Overall, a 'must see'!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Accountant (Directed by Gavin O'Connor; Written by Bill Dubuque)

Christian Wolff is a maths expert with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world's most dangerous criminal organisations. With the Treasury Department's Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King, starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian unfolds the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.

Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, John Lithgow, Jean Smart, Alison Wright, Jason Davis, Seth Lee, Jake Presley

My thoughts on this film: It is one of those rare movies that build on the character layer upon layer, telling the story of a father upbringing his kid with autism and his determination to harness his son's true potential by forging him with martial arts.
Christian Wolff is exceptional with numbers and analytics, which combined with years of training martial arts, make him the one that truly swims among the sharks.
The bit that I loved the most - besides all the suspense - was the way they included a very well-known nursery rhyme into the story. Very witty indeed. Now, I am the one who cannot get it out of my head:
Solomon Grundy,
Born on Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday:
And that was the end
Of Solomon Grundy.

Also expect a big story on autism.
One could say that there is a bit for everyone.
Overall, it was not the best movie of the year, but very entertaining!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Harry Potter and the cursed child: parts one and two (J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne)



The eighth story. Nineteen years later...
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it is not much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.


Quote: "... there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe."


My thoughts on this book: To begin with, this is a play. Right away it is unlike what we have read so far. However, it is very readable because the dialogue is wonderful. It can be just as easily read like a book.
The plot leaves a little something to be desired. I must admit that I only got into it halfway through. This is not so much about the world and magic, but more about relationships.
It also feels older... The jokes are mostly about growing old and there is a lot of family drama between Harry and his son, Albus.
I found this book to be entertaining, but now would be the time to stop. It was a risky experiment and we should leave this world alone. I really do not want to read about old-age Harry, Ron, and Hermione rolling around in magical wheelchairs.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Santangelos (Jackie Collins)

A vicious hit. A vengeful enemy. A drug-addled Colombian club owner. A coke-addicted young actress. And the ever powerful Lucky has to handle them all. Then there is Max, her teenage daughter, the new 'It' girl in Europe's modelling world, and her son, Bobby, who is being set up for a murder that he did not commit. But Lucky can deal with all of it. Always strong and unpredictable, with her husband Lennie by her side, she lives up to the family motto: NEVER CROSS A SANTANGELO. But when Lucky opens an expensive note card edged in gold, printed with the single word 'Vengeance', she knows that she is in for the fight of her life...

Quote: "Plans were made to be broken. Things happened in mysterious ways. Always expect the unexpected."

Why this book speaks to me: A bitter-sweet read. Jackie Collins has always been one of my favourite authors, as she managed to mix everything I love: crime, thriller, and Hollywood glamour. So, it is sad to be doing my very last review of her very last book. But what a legacy to leave behind! And this is no exception!
She truly was the best in her genre. Thank you for all the joy you have given me, Jackie. I will miss your stories!

The Girl on the Train (Directed by: Tate Taylor; Based on the novel by Paula Hawkins)

The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel Watson's life post-divorce. Every day, she takes the train to New York, and every day the train passes by her old house. The house she lived in with her husband, who still lives there, with his new wife and baby. As she attempts to not focus on her pain, she starts watching a couple who live a few houses down - Megan and Scott Hipwell. She creates a wonderful dream life for them in her head, about how they are a perfect, happy family. And then one day, as the train passes, she sees something shocking, filling her with rage. The next day, she wakes up with a horrible hangover, various wounds and bruises, and no memory of the night before. She has only one feeling: something bad happened. Then come the TV reports: Megan Hipwell is missing. Rachel becomes invested in the case and tries to find out what happened to Megan, where she is, and what exactly was she up to that same night Megan went missing.

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramírez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Lisa Kudrow, Lana Young

My thoughts on this film: I have never read the book, but I must say that I found the movie bitterly disappointing.
It was devoid of any imagination, life or characters worth caring for.
Looking worse for wear and giving her all, Emily Blunt tries desperately to elevate the film around her in her portrayal of hard drinking and divorced Rachel - who is our film's focus -, but despite her commitment and dedication, Rachel is not an overly appealing character and remains hard to watch for most of the film.
So uninspired and boring, I will say that you can afford to miss this one train!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Inferno (Directed by Ron Howard; Based on the novel by Dan Brown)


When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.


Starring: Felicity Jones, Tom Hanks, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Foster, Ana Ularu, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy

My thoughts on this film: Reading the book beforehand is a positive here and you will want to go and see it, but expect a radically altered story. If you have not read the book, prepare to be confused, but it can still be an entertaining ride.
The largest positive part of this movie is Tom Hanks. Hank's role here is a slight departure from the previous films due to the circumstances that are made apparent from the very beginning - which I will not spoil for you -, and yet he was excellent again as Robert Langdon. Omar Sy was also a nice surprise as I had only seen him in French films.
Aside from these two, the story was muddled, but chase-movie action and constant changes of beautiful scenery made it an entertaining ride.
In my opinion, this film departs radically from the source material. That said, reading the book is an advantage and might be a compelling reason to go and see the movie. Knowing the book-story means you will know what is going on, even through elements that were not in the book and/or were poorly presented (i.e. the skin rash).
One thing to note, Dan Brown's message was pretty much lost and I wonder if that was intentional? Even the ending, which in the book was used to punctuate Dan Brown's obvious point, is radically changed in the movie. So while the basic story is similar, what you actually take away is very different from the book.
Overall, it is still enjoyable to see.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Snowden (Oliver Stone)


The NSA's illegal surveillance techniques were leaked to the public by one of the agency's employees, Edward Snowden, in the form of thousands of classified documents distributed to the press. Based on the books - The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding, and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.

Starring: Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage, Shailene Woodley, Tom Wilkinson, Joely Richardson

Why I loved this film: First of all, I have to give praises to Joseph Gordon-Levitt who I think went above and beyond in not only capturing Edward Snowden's mannerism and the way he speaks, but Gordon-Levitt's performance in this film is so calculating and precise!
Shailene Woodley also gives her most mature performance yet, because this film is more than just about the whole surveillance controversy, it is also about how that negatively affects Snowden and Mills' relationship, which I think is fairly handled as both aspects do not take away or diminish each other's importance in the process.
Overall, I think that Snowden is a riveting film that keeps you engaged and more importantly gets you thinking, which I believe to be the goal of Oliver Stone. Does the film lean one way in that it paints Edward Snowden as a hero? I think so, but not in a way that intentionally judges those who at the end still think of him as a traitor.
Most of all, it has left me with questions and more curious about the truthfulness of the whole situation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby (Directed by: Sharon Maguire; Written by: Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson)


Bridget's focus on single life and her career is interrupted when she finds herself pregnant; however, there is one slight hitch... she can only be fifty percent sure of the identity of the baby's father.

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Sally Phillips, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Shirley Henderson, Ben Willbond, Colin Firth, William Joseph Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Ed Sheeran, Jessica Hynes, Emma Thompson, Celia Imrie

Why I loved this film: It was consistently funny and also moving from start to finish. The audience in the cinema were laughing throughout.
The plot is well known (from the title and movie poster if nothing else) but essentially Bridget Jones still has two guys fighting over her, only this time Patrick Dempsey takes over for Hugh Grant.
It has a very strong cast, Emma Thompson in particular is a wonderful addition as Bridget's obstetrician, and the scenes at the TV station are very amusing.
I cannot understand why so many people are trashing this film as I found it to be very entertaining and enjoyable. Of course, you have to see the first Bridget Jones films in order to understand it, or at least have read the books, but I can tell you that it is worth the experience and does not feel like any other sequel.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins (Directed by Stephen Frears; Written by Nicholas Martin)


Florence Foster Jenkins always wanted to be a concert pianist and play Carnegie Hall. An injury in her youth deterred that dream. So she sets out to sing her way to Carnegie Hall knowing the only way to get there would be 'Practice Practice Practice'. Her husband supports her venture and the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins playing Carnegie Hall becomes a truly historic event.


Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend


Why I loved this film: The trailers would lead you to believe that it is a hilarious comedy about an old crazy woman who dreams of being a singer despite being tone-deaf. There are elements of that, of course, but there so is much more to it.
Do not get me wrong, there are a fair few funny moments, especially the first time we hear Jenkins screeching wildly, while we watch McMoon desperately trying to contain his laughter. This success is partially due to Nicholas Martin's organic and genuine screenplay, but mostly down to great casting. Simon Helberg is fantastic as the competent and camp young pianist, and Hugh Grant gives his best performance in years as Jenkins' devoted husband. But the movie belongs to Meryl Streep, who once again proves that nothing is beyond her. Each word she smoothly speaks, or screams, feels like her own as she embodies 'the world's worst singer'.
Technically, this movie is also impressive. The 1940s mis-en-scene is brilliant, from the outrageous outfits to the elegant decor and old-fashioned automobiles that inhabit wartime New York. The cinematography and editing keep the film moving (physically and emotionally), but Stephen Frears is the true genius, taking a story which could have been boring and turning it into something so amazing!
Frears has taken a sad, gentle, tender story and made it surprisingly feel-good, fun and enjoyable without shying away from the melancholy.

Time of Death (Mark Billingham)

Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up. But this is a place where dangerous truths lie buried. When family man Stephen Bates is arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates' wife - an old school friend of Helen's - who is living under siege and convinced of her husband's innocence. As a decomposing body is found, the police believe they have their murderer, but one man believes otherwise. With a girl still missing, Thorne sets himself on a collision course with local police, townsfolk... and a merciless killer.

Quote: "Well, I think you can describe what he's done as evil... but I think the people that do this stuff are just greedy or twisted or sick in the head. Not sure 'evil' is the right word. Not sure it does us any favours. If it helps, I don't really believe people are naturally good either."

Why this book speaks to me: It is always a pleasure to read another crime episode from the magical and elegant handwriting style of Mark Billingham. This is English crime at its best, well researched, intelligent, informative, with strong characters who aptly display their strengths and weaknesses for all to see. There are no quick solutions here but a story that unfolds like the petals of a rose about to reveal one shocking truth.
I love the relaxed and unpretentious style of Billingham and how he expertly portrays Thorne as a loner with very few friends apart from the somewhat colourful police pathologist Phil Hendricks. It was good to see that Hendricks once again became a central pivot as the story evolved, and his unconventional appearance and lifestyle acted in sharp contrast to the conservative Thorne.
Here, there are secrets to be revealed and a relationship tested to the extreme in a great example of modern British crime fiction. I highly recommend it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Canção de Lisboa (Pedro Varela)

This is a remake of the 1933 film with the same name, which starred António Silva, Vasco Santana, and Beatriz Costa.
Vasco Leitão, a Medical student in Lisbon, has been partying while counting on an allowance sent by his aunts who live up north and believe that he is a top student. However, Vasco is more of a party animal and ladies man. His eyes are particularly set on Alice, who in the remake is the daughter of the future prime minister (while in the original version, she was the daughter of a tailor). After Vasco has failed the final exam yet again, his aunts decide to pay him a visit...


Starring: César Mourão, Luana Martau, Miguel Guilherme, Marcus Majella, Maria Vieira, São José Lapa, Carla Vasconcelos, Ruy de Carvalho

My thoughts on this film: It is definitely not Oscar material, but that is not all. This movie lacks all its important characteristics that made it so great in the 30s.
There are no scenes which we will be remembering in 40 years time.
You do not get to see a charismatic Vasco Santana or Beatriz Costa.
You take an old-time movie and add new technology, new music, and an 'almost' new story, and you get something horrendous, which I regret having gone to see.
I love those actors, but they should have named the film something else because the only thing similar to the original is the exam part where Vasco finally gets a right answer. And the names were also kept. But everything else is just a totally different story, which I did not find at all funny.
Vasco Leitão is played by César Mourão as we know him. Whether you like it or not, its his kind of humour. This is good in the comedy bits but not the love scenes, as they become less believable.
Luana Martau plays sweet Alice... well, she was only sweet in the second half of the movie as she spends the first half threatening to break Vasco's head in.
Unlike the hilarious António Silva, Miguel Guilherme plays Alice's father, who actually likes Vasco Leitão and tries to help him throughout the film. Where is the fun of the chase?
The music is also entirely new... and quite dull.
I will not be seeing this film again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

PORTUGAL: EURO 2016 CHAMPIONS


On July 10th, 2016, History was made.


Thank you champions!


Pictures taken at Jardim da Estrela, Lisbon, while our champions paraded the cup around the city.

Our Kind of Traitor (Directed by: Susanna White; Based on the novel by John le Carré)

When Peter and his girlfriend, Gail, cross paths with the charismatic Dima on their Moroccan holiday, the forceful Russian is quick to challenge Peter to a friendly game of tennis. But this innocuous contest is not all it seems - Dima is a long-time servant of the Russian mafia, whose new boss, 'The Prince', wants him and his family dead. His only hope is to ask the unsuspecting Peter to broker him sanctuary with the British intelligence services in return for exposing a vein of corruption that runs right to the heart of the City of London. Soon they find themselves on a tortuous journey through Paris to a safe house in the Swiss Alps and - with the might of the Russian mafia closing in - they begin to realise this particular match has the highest stakes of all.

Starring: Stellan Skarsgård, Mariya Fomina, Dolya Gavanski, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris, Alec Utgoff, Marek Oravec

My thoughts on this film: I came into this movie without many expectations, as I had not read the book.
Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgård star as a British professor and a Russian mobster respectively, and both give great performances, especially Skarsgård, who plays a bad guy who you cannot help but like.
I really enjoyed the cinematography, and the story is nothing you have not seen before, but I found myself really captured by the great acting and interesting dialogue.
The only disappointment for me was the ending, but I will not spoil it for you. Go and see it!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence (Roland Emmerich)



Two decades after the first Independence Day invasion, Earth is faced with a new extra-Solar threat. But will mankind's new space defences be enough?


Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, Nicolas Wright, Joey King


My thoughts on this film: To tell you the truth, I do not remember much of the first one, only that I saw it on TV later on.
But, seriously, no wonder Will Smith never returned. That just shows how bad this movie really is.
How stupid do the script writers think the viewing audience is?
Great first ten minutes or so, then we are expected to leave all logic behind...
The film made no sense whatsoever.
The sphere can set up a planet to teach all other civilisations how to defend against the bad aliens, since their planet was wiped out by said aliens, but even the lower intelligence earthlings, using replicated, imitated weapons ripped from the bad aliens can shoot it down over the moon... great teachers they will be...
The Queen can survive a fusion bomb blast but her shield falls under minor weapon fires.
And having all her fighters surround her... I guess to offer her protection... but they just keep flying round and round like an amusement park ride when the two rogue fighters decide to attack her FOR A VERY LONG TIME!
A former president's daughter who no longer flies can just commandeer a fighter in order to fly alongside her father, who could not walk properly in the beginning of the film but can still fly a new age jet.
It was overall stupid, and I lost myself after the first ten minutes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Maggie's Plan (Rebecca Miller)

Maggie 's plan to have a baby on her own is derailed when she falls in love with John, a married man, destroying his volatile marriage to the brilliant and impossible Georgette. But one daughter and three years later, Maggie is out of love and in a quandary: what do you do when you suspect your man and his ex-wife are actually perfect for each other?

Starring: Julianne Moore, Ethan Hawke, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Greta Gerwig, Wallace Shawn, Mina Sundwall, Jackson Frazer

My thoughts on this film: Maggie's Plan is only technically a Greta Gerwig movie as she is the star of the film, and it displays her style of comedy. Maggie's plan is to have a baby using the sperm of a maths genius turned pickle-maker and raise it all on her own. As they do in life, plans change when she falls in love with a College Professor, played by Ethan Hawke, and he leaves his troubled marriage for her. Deep into the commitment her feelings for him change and rather than end the relationship, she comes up with another plan to get him back together with his ex-wife, played beautifully by the always amazing Julianne Moore.
It is a complex plan to a a complex situation, which is perfect for someone like Gerwig, and this is what makes the movie interesting to watch. I did giggle a few times but the comedy was overall too quiet for me, even with Saturday Night Live Bill Hader and the spectacular Maya Rudolph as supporting characters, who could have easily turned this up a notch.
I did not laugh that hard, but the overall punch line makes Maggie's Plan a good one.

Now you see me 2 (Directed by: Jon M. Chu; Written by: Ed Solomon, Peter Chiarelli, Boaz Yakin, and Edward Ricourt)


One year after outwitting the FBI and winning the public's adulation with their Robin Hood-style magic spectacles, the Four Horsemen resurface for a comeback performance in hopes of exposing the unethical practices of a tech magnate. The man behind their vanishing act is none other than Walter Mabry, a tech prodigy who threatens the Horsemen into pulling off their most impossible heist yet. Their only hope is to perform one last unprecedented stunt to clear their names and reveal the mastermind behind it all.

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

My thoughts on this film: I enjoyed the first 'Now You See Me' because I was wowed by the mystery and suspense of it all. The sequel, however, does not provide me with the same experience.
This time round, the film spends a lot of time introducing the new characters and setting up the picture. Then, there is a constant stream of trickery, which is unrealistic and unlikely. The plot becomes so far fetched and random, events happening so conveniently that it stops being believable, which is the key that made the first film great. There are some good scenes in here, but most of the time I am left wondering when will it end. Unfortunately, I cannot see the wow factor in 'Now You See Me 2'.

Friday, June 03, 2016

The Nice Guys (Shane Black)



A mismatched pair of private eyes investigate the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles.




Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Yaya DaCosta, Beau Knapp, Lois Smith, Murielle Telio, Daisy Tahan, Kim Basinger, Jack Kilmer

Why I loved this film: It is a lot of fun to watch. The two leads are ace, both giving near-career best performances. Angourie Rice is also excellent as Gosling's teenage daughter. Bad guys Matt Bomer, Keith David, and Beau Knapp are also memorable as the bad guys. The film is very funny with Crowe and Gosling bouncing off each other nicely. It is not the kind of action film I am used to, but worth seeing for the comedy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Money Monster (Directed by Jodie Foster; Written by Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, and Jim Kouf)

Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor who has lost everything forcefully takes over their studio. During a tense standoff broadcast to millions on live TV, Lee and Patty must work furiously against the clock to unravel the mystery behind a conspiracy at the heart of today's fast-paced, high-tech global markets.

Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Denham, Lenny Venito, Chris Bauer, Emily Meade, Condola Rashad

My thoughts on this film: It turns out that Gates has presented a recent investment as a sure thing, and Kyle believed him. When that company lost $800 million overnight, Kyle's loss was his $60,000 nest egg. Kyle represents the work-class folks who are simply fed up with the lies and manipulation for which the media and Wall Street conspire on a regular basis.
Jodie Foster seems at home with a straight-forward hostage-for-admission story. Created for a mass audience, with snippets of Clooney and Roberts humour that will satisfy their fans.
As with so many things these days, the hostage ordeal plays out on TV and captures the limited attention span of average folks (the film even references the OJ Simpson event). Of course, this film is not an instigator, but rather an exhibitor – a mirror of the times. Once the spectacle ends, everyone returns to their normal activities.
There was one 'glitch' though. It could have had a little more suspense, as after a while, you could already figure out the ending.
Still fun to watch!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R.I.P. Prince

The iconic artist formerly known as Prince has passed away at the age of 57.
This shocking tragedy was revealed almost one week after the singer left fans very concerned about his health by making an emergency landing in Illinois.
The cause of death remains unclear.

'I never meant to cause you any sorrow;
I never meant to cause you any pain;
I only wanted one time to see you laughing;
I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain.'

It is the end of an era. It is the end of music as we know it.
Nevertheless, your songs will live forever in our hearts. RIP.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

R.I.P. Doris Roberts

Doris Roberts, better known for being the meddling mother next door on 'Everybody Loves Raymond', has passed away at the age of 90.
Roberts died Sunday night, in her sleep, of natural causes.
It is hard to write about someone who you mostly recognise from one show, but Doris will always be Marie Barone to me, and it feels like Marie has died with her.
As Patricia Heaton wrote, it is 'Truly the end of an era.'
When asked why the audience seemed to identify with her, Roberts once replied: 'I'm not a bull artist. I tell it like it is. I'm not some celebrity thinking that I'm greater than anybody else. I'm one of the people. And they know that. It's wonderful when they say to me, "Thank you for the humour you've brought us all these years". I am a lucky son of a gun. I get paid for it.'
Well, Doris, I also want to thank you for all the laughs. I will never forget you, and, wherever you are, be sure to keep them laughing.
R.I.P.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (Richard Zimler)

The year is 1506, and the streets of Lisbon are seething with fear and suspicion when Abraham Zarco is found dead, a naked girl at his side. Abraham was a renowned kabbalist, a practitioner of the arcane mysteries of Jewish mysticism at a time when the Jews of Portugal have been forced to convert to Christianity. Berekiah, a talented young manuscript illuminator, investigates his beloved uncle's murder during a massacre of Jewish residents, and discovers in the kabbalah clues that lead him into the labyrinth of secrets that will ultimately reveal the extraordinary meaning of this nearly forgotten crime against humanity.

Quote: "The key to my interpretation of his actions resides in the kabbalistic definition of evil - good which has departed from its rightful place."

My thoughts on this book: I praise this book for its historical detail, although it imposes a lot of modern sensibilities on the past.
It proposes itself as a translation of a period manuscript, but it captures nothing of the writing style of the era.
The thing that confused me the most out of the story was finding out, at the end, that the main character has a gay sidekick - which I would not have minded but for the fact that the other characters seem to find this completely unremarkable. Being gay (a modern construction) in the early 1500s, in one of the most Catholic countries in the universe, appears to be perfectly normal in the book. At the end, his gay friend even has a long-term committed relationship and adopts two kids, and nobody bats an eyelash.
The characters were also very confusing. The author did not seem to want to waste any time on them. You had a brief introduction and off to the next one with no time to feel anything for either of them.
Except for the historical part, which is very well detailed, this is not my cup of tea.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Belle (Lesley Pearse)

Fifteen-year-old Belle, although raised in a London brothel, is an innocent. But when she witnesses one of the girls being brutally strangled by a client, she is cast into a cruel, heartless world.
Snatched from the streets and sold into prostitution, she is made a courtesan in New Orleans. At the mercy of desperate men who crave her beauty and will do anything to keep her, Belle's dream of home, family, and freedom appear futile.
Are Belle's courage and spirit strong enough to help her escape?
What will await her at the end of the long, dangerous journey home?


Quote: "Sometimes she felt so alone that she cried herself to sleep. The silence pressed in on her and made her feel threatened. There had been a couple of thunderstorms at night too, such heavy rain that it drummed on the tin roof, and such loud thunderclaps that she shook with fear. She got into the habit of going out for long walks, each time going further and further to delay going home, and making herself really tired so she could sleep when she got back."

My thoughts on this book: 'Belle' has the potential to be much more. The subject matter is interesting and uncommon, but Belle as the main character ruins it for me. Belle's mother, Annie, mentioned that young girls forced into prostitution rarely, if ever, get over the mental and emotional trauma. However, Belle does not seem to have changed one bit.
In terms of Lesley Pearse's writing - although I have not read any of her other novels -, it lacks spice and subtlety. It seems rather bland for such an exciting subject matter. To be honest, I think that the setting of New Orleans was the best among all the places in the novel.
The ending was a huge disappointment as, like I said in the beginning, Belle quickly forgot about her past and led a normal 'happy ever after' life.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Lady in the Van (Directed by Nicholas Hytner; Written by Alan Bennett)

A man forms an unexpected bond with a transient woman living in her van that is parked in his driveway.

Starring: Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Alex Jennings, Deborah Findlay, Roger Allam, Richard Griffiths, Dominic Cooper

Why I loved this film: Billed as 'a mostly true story', this is actually more like a commentary on how we treat those less fortunate and how we use others for our own gain - with a little humour added by the 'always amazing' Dame Maggie Smith.
Alan Bennett is a British playwright. He is also at the core of this story – every bit as much as Ms. Shepherd, the lady in the van. While living in upper crust Camden Town, Mr. Bennett offered to let Ms. Shepherd park her van in his driveway for a few weeks until she could make other arrangements. This van was also her home, and the years (as they are apt to do) came and went until this arrangement had lasted 15 years (1974-1989).
You might assume that Ms. Shepherd was an extremely appreciative 'squatter', but she was, in fact, quite a difficult woman. Maggie Smith brings a humanity to the role that she had previously owned on stage and on the radio. Throughout the film, we assemble bits and pieces of Ms. Shepherd's background: an educated French-speaking musician and former ambulance driver. She is also carrying a burden of guilt from a past tragic accident that keeps her going to confession on a consistent basis.
In this film, there are two Mr. Bennetts – the one doing the writing, and the one doing the living. These two Bennetts are a virtual married couple, continuously arguing over Ms. Shepherd. The living Bennett claims to be so full of British timidity that he could not possibly confront the woman junking up his driveway. The writer Bennett takes the high road and claims he would rather write spy stories than focus his pen on the odorous, obnoxious, transient living in his front yard. Of course, now that we have a play and a movie, it is difficult to avoid viewing Mr. Bennett's actions as anything less than inspiration for his writing.
Filmed at the same house where the van was parked for so many years, the film is a reminder to us that we should exercise tolerance and charity in dealing with the poor. Even Bennett's grudgingly-offered assistance is a step above what would typically be expected. While we could feel a wide spectrum of emotions for the two main parties here, it is Ms. Shepherd's character that says 'I didn't choose. I was chosen'.
However, I must say that, as usual, Maggie Smith lights up the scenes. Few are as effective at frightening young kids or putting the elite in their place.
After watching the movie, I actually looked up Ms. Shepherd's story, and I must say, today she would not have been as lucky.
This is definitely a 'must see'. If not for the moral, then for the laughs.

Monday, March 14, 2016

R.I.P. Nicolau Breyner

Morreu o ator e realizador, Nicolau Breyner. Tinha 75 anos.
Nicolau Breyner foi encontrado já sem vida, na sua casa.
O que dizer deste icon português que tantas memórias nos deixou e que parecia imortal.
João Nicolau de Melo Breyner Lopes nasceu em Serpa, a 30 de julho de 1940. Tornou-se conhecido do grande público pelo seu trabalho como ator, mas também assumiu funções de realizador, produtor e, até, de apresentador.
Para além do "Senhor feliz e senhor contente" com Herman José, lembro-me de um dos seus últimos trabalhos, com o magnífico Jeremy Irons: "Night Train to Lisbon".
Nicolau Breyner era muito mais do que um ator ou realizador. Ele era um ídolo, um modelo a seguir, e um exemplo do que é ser feliz, ou, como ele dizia, "mais vale estar sempre alegre do que estar sempre triste".
O teatro e o cinema português ficaram muito mais pobres!
Até sempre Nicolau Breyner! Até sempre Senhor Feliz!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ride (Helen Hunt)



A mother travels cross-country to California to be with her son after he decides to drop out of school and become a surfer.



Starring: Helen Hunt, Brenton Thwaites, Richard Kind, Robert Knepper, Leonor Varela, David Zayas, Luke Wilson, Callum Keith Rennie, Elizabeth Jayne

My thoughts on this film: This is a down to earth movie about real life. It tackles with the quite odd relationship between a mother and her son. As a know-it-all person that likes to be on top of things, she follows her son to California and spies on him as he is trying to find himself and experience new things. Her ridiculous behaviour is really funny, and so are her interactions with the chauffeur she has hired to drive her around.
This is the story of a person who seems to be in complete control of her life, but then she is swept away by changes; so she must learn to trust others and embrace the unexpected. The film is both funny and sad, and very beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the surfing scenes.
This is not the best Helen Hunt movie, but it is very entertaining!

Monday, March 07, 2016

Hail, Caesar! (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen)

We follow the life of Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer for Capitol Pictures in the 1950s, who cleans up and solves problems for big names and stars in the industry, until studio star Baird Whitlock disappears...

Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Alison Pill, Jack Huston, Agyness Deyn

My thoughts on this film: I guess, after all the publicity surrounding this movie, I went in expecting a lot more.
The main story was good, and there was so much they could have done with it, but it felt like they did not care much for the final result. They just wanted to get it over and done with.
The overall result was a strung together series of little set pieces that did not hang together as a whole.
Even the cast - made up of the best actors and actresses in the business - seemed tired and not doing their best.
I have seen worse, but, as I wrote at the beginning, I was expecting a lot more from the Coen brothers!

Monday, February 29, 2016

NYPD Red 3 (James Patterson and Marshall Karp)


Hunter Alden Jr. has it all: a beautiful wife, a brilliant son, and billions in the bank. But when his son goes missing and he discovers the severed head of his chauffeur, it becomes clear that he is in danger of losing it all.
The kidnapper knows a horrific secret that could change the world. A secret worth killing for. A secret worth dying for.
New York's best detectives, Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald, are on the case. But by getting closer to the truth, Zach and Kylie are edging even closer to the firing line...


Quote: "Detective, do you have any idea how many calls I juggle a day? So, no, I don't think it's particularly strange if some wacky old broad calls to thank me for sending an imaginary cop to arrest a couple of imaginary terrorists.
On the other hand, two NYPD Red detectives investigating said imaginary crime - now that is pretty goddamn bizarre."

Why this book speaks to me: I liked it more than the first two NYPD!
It kept me up for many hours. Very entertaining with many plots and twists throughout the story, so it never became boring.
I must say that I am enjoying this series much more than the Private series.
Hopefully, I will find the 4th book in the shops soon.
Totally worth my time!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The 88th Academy Awards

Hosted by Chris Rock

BEST PICTURE: Spotlight

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: Brie Larson (Room)

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Inside Out

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)

COSTUME DESIGN: Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road)

DIRECTING: Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant)

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE): Amy

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT): Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness)

FILM EDITING: Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road)

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Son of Saul (Hungary)

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: Mad Max: Fury Road

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE): Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG): Writing's on the Wall (Spectre)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mad Max: Fury Road

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED): Bear Story

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION): Stutterer

SOUND EDITING: Mad Max: Fury Road

SOUND MIXING: Mad Max: Fury Road

VISUAL EFFECTS: Ex Machina

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY): The Big Short

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY): Spotlight

That's all folks!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Trumbo (Directed by: Jay Roach; Written by: John McNamara and Bruce Cook)



In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood's top screenwriter until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs. This film recounts how Dalton used words and wit to win two Academy Awards and expose the absurdity and injustice under the blacklist, which entangled everyone from gossip columnist Hedda Hopper to John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Otto Preminger.



Starring: Bryan Cranston, Michael Stuhlbarg, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, David James Elliott, Toby Nichols, Madison Wolfe, James DuMont, Alan Tudyk, Louis C.K., Roger Bart, Peter Mackenzie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Meghan Wolfe, Mitchell Zakocs, Elle Fanning, John Goodman, Mattie Liptak, Becca Nicole Preston, Dean O'Gorman, Christian Berkel, Rick Kelly

My thoughts on this film: Much of Trumbo is comedic, and with intention, but the film also carries a certain amount of poignancy. Bryan Cranston is incredibly enjoyable to watch, and during the credits you get to see clips of the real Trumbo to compare. The portrayal is daringly realistic. Helen Mirren is a worthy antagonist, and very effectively displays the fear and anger that result from war - the need to justify pain through rigid ideology.
Other remarkable performances come from Diane Lane, as the quiet but strong Cleo Trumbo, the rock of her family; John Goodman is well cast as the comedic used car salesman of film, and Elle Fanning makes her mark as the rebellious daughter learning to be every bit of a force as her father.
Louis C. K. also came as a great surprise, since I am not used to seeing him in such serious roles.
As a whole, the film's laughs are well earned and its feelings are well felt.
It was successful in portraying a larger than life writer who decided to take on the world... and won.

Monday, February 15, 2016

How to be Single (Directed by: Christian Ditter; Written by: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, and Dana Fox)

There is a right way to be single, a wrong way to be single, and then... there is Alice. And Robin. And Lucy. And Meg. And Tom. And David.
New York City is full of lonely hearts seeking the right match, be it a love connection, a hook-up, or something in the middle. And somewhere between the teasing texts and one-night stands, what they all have in common is the need to learn how to be single in a world filled with ever-evolving definitions of love.

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Damon Wayans Jr., Anders Holm, Nicholas Braun, Jake Lacy, Jason Mantzoukas, Alison Brie

Why I loved this film: The first thing we see is a guy having a boner while talking to some girl across his apartment, which was not a good impression when added to Rebel Wilson partying like crazy.
But it really does have a turn of events.
The comedy was on point. It was not your normal retarded type.
I started out thinking I was going to see a stupid film about making out, but I left pretty satisfied.
This movie was just what I needed to lift my spirits, and it actually made me think about the whole relationship/being single situation, and how I should not worry about it.
Overall, I just loved the moral of the story and how every situation developed.
If you are in a relationship, this film really does depict the sad dating world of today.
I recommend it to all single girls!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Spotlight (Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer)

When the Boston Globe's tenacious 'Spotlight' team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston's religious, legal, and governmental establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.


Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d'Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Elena Wohl, Neal Huff


Why I loved this film: Here, you do not learn about the reporters' personal lives except for what you see incidentally as they work at home. There is no romantic sub-plot; there are no action scenes where a reporter punches a priest.
I have never seen a film in which I liked Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Live Schreiber more. There is no Hollywood in these performances. There are no sexy costumes or makeup, no grandstanding for the Academy. The actors are dressed in the usual work attire for news reporters. Much of the film takes place in a grubby shared office full of file folders or in cafes and working class neighbourhoods where informants are interviewed.
'Spotlight' mentions 'Good Germans' – people who kept their eyes closed to the disappearance of their Jewish neighbours. Just so, there were many 'Good Bostonians'. It is sickening to confront the many who were aware of priestly sex abuse and did nothing. Targeted kids were powerless and without allies. After they were abused, some became alcoholics, drug addicts, or committed suicide.
Boston is a small town, with a lot of Irish Catholics who do not want anyone rocking the boat.
The plot is so well-written that I was not bored for a single minute.
I think this story speaks for itself. I am a non-practising Catholic, like so many who grow up, due to corruption stories and phoney priests who try to preach their own fantasy world instead of showing a true and honest one where money will not be the key to achieving your own dreams and a brighter future.
These priests should not make you question the institution, for they are only people (of the worst kind, I must say), but all those who stood and still stand behind them for the sake of religion itself are enough to make you question everything.
I totally recommend this film, whatever your beliefs!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

R.I.P. Terry Wogan

Sir Terry Wogan has passed away today aged 77 following a short battle with cancer.
The much-loved radio host and television presenter, who celebrated 50 years in broadcasting this year, was a great part of my childhood.
I cannot imagine the world of radio and television, and even the Eurovision Song Contest, without the lovely voice and amazing character of Terry Wogan.
I even remember his singing, which was not as great, I must say! ;)
Sir, you will be dearly missed for everything that you have ever represented in Britain.
There will never be anyone like you!
Thank you for the joys, laughter, and professionalism that you have brought to our homes.
You really were, and will always be a 'genious'!
My deep condolences to his wife and children. R.I.P.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Revenant (Alejandro González Iñárritu)

Inspired by true events, The Revenant captures one man's epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald. Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption.

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Christopher Rosamond, Lukas Haas

Why I loved this film: It is enough to know that this was based on a true story, but how they film it makes it even more amazing!
Hugh Glass' determination to survive and find those who abandoned him provides one of the most harrowing stories ever put on screen. Covered in blood, sweat, and dirt, DiCaprio spends much of the movie not talking, keeping the focus on his actions. However, I must say that you rarely see something this intense on screen.
The movie and DiCaprio definitely deserved the Golden Globe and will deserve their Oscars.
In the meantime, you should see The Revenant. It is an experience like you cannot imagine, and it will keep you thinking about those events for quite a while.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Big Short (Adam McKay)



Four citizens of the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight.


Starring: Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Marisa Tomei, Adepero Oduye, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, Anthony Bourdain, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Karen Gillan, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez


Why I loved this film: The Big Short succeeds in turning such a demented and corrupt circus into something improbably hilarious. The power of comedy is its ability to let us see the whole story from a different point of view, and let us process it in ways we would not have been able to otherwise.
The plot includes so many facets and characters that it could easily have fallen into disarray, but Adam McKay makes every single character memorable and illuminates every piece of jargon that could be confusing from the outset. It is a huge accomplishment and a far more important one than might seem apparent. The things that were allowed to happen in the realms of business, finance, and banking are absolutely insane and unbelievable. It has to be funny because there is no other way of delivering this vast amount of information and complete failure of our entire society and make it all snap into place.
It is not enough to even ask for the truth any more, or answers, we need to question the entire system, a whole web of poisonous bonds that have tightly wound themselves around us. The work of the film itself is allowing us to project our thoughts, our fears, our anger, and our confusions into this whole puzzle, while being told the truth, so that we have a place to even begin towards understanding the entire mess.
Therefore, I believe that The Big Short is one of the most important films of our era and one of the best. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. It is one of those things you do not believe possible until you see it with your own eyes.
I totally recommend this film!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Danish Girl (Directed by: Tom Hooper; Written by: David Ebershoff and Lucinda Coxon)

A love story inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda's marriage and work evolve as they deal with Lili's journey as a transgender pioneer.

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Emerald Fennell, Ben Whishaw, Pip Torrens, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jake Graf, Nicholas Woodeson, Philip Arditti, Miltos Yerolemou, Sebastian Koch, Sophie Kennedy Clark

My thoughts on this film: I found this movie to be very touching and delicate. It is delicate in the way that it treats difficult subjects, such as sexuality and the discovery of one's identity in a hostile period. The fact that it is a true story makes the whole thing even more interesting.
I do not think that the film is perfect, but I loved the acting, cinematography, and screenplay.
I only wish Eddie Redmayne could have been more believable as Lili, especially the first time that Lili appears in public. I really thought he was going to win an Oscar for this role from the trailer, but after watching the whole movie, I am not as certain.
I also do not think there is much need for all that nudity, especially when Lili and Gerda are in bed. That was not the core of the story, and it felt cheap, as if the whole point was to show Alicia's naked body. She is a good actress with her clothes on!
Finally, I am very interested in true stories, so I had done my research and felt that the most important parts of Lili's life had been left out of the story.
Lili did not undergo two surgeries but about four or five (this part should have been explained, it would have been more interesting and smart than the love story).
She did not die in the garden talking to Gerda, she died from complications in her last surgery.
Her last words to Gerda (in the film) were actually the last words to her sister (on the phone).
Overall, it was interesting but there was more they could have done with such an amazing story!

Monday, January 11, 2016

R.I.P. David Bowie

Rock legend David Bowie has passed away at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer.
I am speechless... I remember the first time this amazing actor / singer / composer came to my attention in the film Labyrinth. I was scared of him at the time, but as I grew up, that scary feeling turned into a crush, which later turned into respect for this amazing do-it-all guy!
It is hard to imagine the world without some people in it, and Mr. Bowie is certainly one of them. Maybe this is what immortality is all about...
It was only a few days ago that I was watching Jimmy Fallon talk about his new album and video clip. It still seems so unreal!
I guess the best way to honour an immortal man like David Bowie is to remember him always and to keep listening to his music.

Here is a clip of two immortal guys doing what they did best, and will continue on doing as two shiny stars:


See you again someday. Rock on!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The 73rd Golden Globe Awards

Hosted by Ricky Gervais

Supporting actress - motion picture: Kate Winslet (Jobs)

Supporting actress - TV series, limited series or TV movie: Maura Tierney (The Affair)

Actress - TV series - comedy or musical: Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)

TV series - comedy: Mozart in the Jungle

Limited series or TV movie: Wolf Hall

Actor - limited series or TV movie: Oscar Isaac (Show me a Hero)

Supporting Actor - TV series, limited series or TV movie: Christian Slater (Mr. Robot)

Original score - motion picture: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)

Actor - TV series, drama: John Hamm (Mad Men)

Actor - Motion Picture - Comedy: Matt Damon (The Martian)

Motion Picture - Animated: Inside Out

Supporting actor - Motion Picture: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Screenplay - Motion Picture: Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs)

Actor - TV series, comedy: Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle)

Motion Picture, foreign language: Son of Saul (Hungary)

Actress - Limited series or TV movie: Lady Gaga (American Horror Story)

Original song, Motion Picture: Writing's on the Wall (Spectre)

TV series - drama: Mr. Robot

Cecil B. DeMille: Denzel Washington

Director - Motion Picture: Alejandro G. Iñarritu (The Revenant)

Actress - TV series - drama: Taraji P. Henson

Actress - Motion Picture - drama: Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Motion Picture - musical or comedy: The Martian

Actress - Motion Picture - drama: Brie Larson (Room)

Actor - Motion Picture - drama: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Motion Picture - drama: The Revenant

That's all Folks!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Moriarty (Anthony Horowitz)

Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum, which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind.


Assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes' methods of investigation and deduction, Chase must hunt down this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

Quote: "How could I have forgotten that this descendant of one of America's most famous families had been sent to the court of King James? A seat had actually been reserved for Robert Lincoln at the Ford Theatre on the night his father had been assassinated and the sympathy that many people felt for him had been translated into enthusiastic support. It was said that Lincoln might himself run for president at the time of the next election."

Why this book speaks to me: A good crime novel needs to keep the reader guessing; it needs to keep them suspecting everyone and questioning their motives: scrutinising their characters. This has achieved it masterfully. Each new character that was introduced could have been a new link to the crime lord or a suspect. The plot was incredibly fast, even for a book of this genre. Two out of three chapters ended with a point that made me want to keep reading. Towards the end, it somehow becomes even faster and more intense.
Anthony Horowitz seems to enjoy surprising his readers: he did it in The House of Silk and managed to do it again. I was completely shocked by the ending. I did have the feeling that something was going to happen. Something had to happen considering the title of the book, but I never expected that!
It was indeed very clever and incredibly deceptive at the same time!
I highly recommend this to all Sherlock Holmes fans, even more than House of Silk, and I will continue to read Anthony Horowitz novels. He has my full support!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

2015 Top Ten: My Choices

Movies:
1- American Sniper
2- The Theory of Everything
3- Suffragette
4- Bridge of Spies
5- Furious 7
6- The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
7- La Famille Bélier
8- Mr. Holmes
9- Ted 2
10- Burnt

TV:
1- Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
2- The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
3- Late Night with Seth Meyers
4- The Big Bang Theory
5- Grey's Anatomy
6- Two and a Half Men
7- Parks and Recreation
8- Modern Family
9- The Good Wife
10- House of Cards

Songs:
1- Não Faço Questão (D.A.M.A. & Gabriel o Pensador)
2- El Perdón (Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias)
3- La Gozadera (Gente De Zona & Marc Anthony)
4- El Taxi (Pitbull)
5- Conqueror (Estelle & Jussie Smollet)
6- Classico (The Gift)
7- Growing Up (Macklemore Ryan Lewis & Ed Sheeran)
8- Locked Away (R. City & Adam Levine)
9- Cheerleader (OMI)
10- Dizer que não (Dengaz)

Books:
1- Le Papyrus de César (Jean-Yves Ferri & Didier Conrad)
2- Killing Monica (Candace Bushnell)
3- The Monogram Murders (Sophie Hannah)
4- This House is Haunted (John Boyne)
5- Daddy's Gone A Hunting (Mary Higgins Clark)
6- Mistress (James Patterson & David Ellis)
7- The Hive (Gill Hornby)
8- Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)
9- Mr. Mercedes (Stephen King)
10- The Silkworm (Robert Galbraith)

Lolo (Julie Delpy)

Violette - a 40-year-old workaholic with a career in the fashion industry - falls for a provincial computer geek, Jean-René, while on a spa retreat with her best friend.

Starring: Julie Delpy, Dany Boon, Vincent Lacoste, Karin Viard

My thoughts on this film: This kind of character-based comedy can fall flat on its face without the right actors to carry it. Fortunately, the casting is practically flawless down to the smallest parts. Julie Delpy can do neurotic as well as Diane Keaton, and Dany Boon is just the right partner.
The ending is also extremely clever as it draws the way to a possible sequel... maybe there will be a female Lolo?
Definitely a fun movie to watch!