Friday, July 27, 2012

London 2012

Can't wait. And can't wait to see what Danny Boyle prepared for us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Miguel Gonçalves Mendes and "The Meaning of Life"

Times are quarrelsome. Spain and Italy are the new summer acquisitions of Europe's nearly-bankrupt top 10. London tailors the last fabrics for the Games and sunks into a new banking scandal with Barclays. Austerity smothers the entire continent, unemployment plummets and the Euro coin is grasping unsteadily for borrowed oxygen. In Portugal, amidst grimmer waters, cultural policies meet no purpose, strategy or honorable agents and the subsidies for cinema are physical phenomenons that are either frozen by the Government or evaporate in thin air by the hands of (mostly, not totally) amateur filmmaking.

This is where Miguel Gonçalves Mendes comes in. After the successful José and Pilar, he is starting a new film, The Meaning of Life, launched in an online crowdfunding platform called I Want to Discover the Meaning of Life. Website, interviews and detailed information is available in Portuguese only but it promises to go international as soon as the infra-structures allow it. is not a general fundraising site like Indie GoGo or Kickstarter as it features personalized financing models based on case-studies like The Tunnel or Iron Sky: you can buy frames of the movie, get your face in a specific sequence of the movie, be an actual co-producer, etc.

The synopsis reads as "A young man finds out he has a disease which he may not survive and decides to travel around the world by car, crossing paths with seven archetypal characters and their views on life and its purpose. Those would be a writer, an actor, a filmmaker, a singer, a politician, an atheist and on top of it an astronaut.". The names were not revealed yet as conversations and contracts are still on the table.

More news as the project develops. International dynamics should be up soon.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Paul Thomas Anderson, the life-changer

"Paul Thomas Anderson and The Master have changed my life in such a deeply profound way forever that all I can really say is, thank you." (Megan Ellison, the 25-year-old billionaire who rescued The Master after its previous investors took off with cold feet).
If I was sentenced to be stranded in an island for the rest of my life with the right to bring a copy of a DVD, that impossible pick would probably fall upon The Lion King or There Will Be Blood. And such was my frame of mind when I first watched the trailer a few days ago. I'd been following the teasers, but this? Is it possible that the best film ever made will step off the throne merely five years later? By the hands of the same guy?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Ted" is funny as fuck

A furry sand-colored teddy bear that lilts "I love you" when you pat his back is your delicious hugger for a night of thunderstorms. Overused cliché for children's playfulness, innocence and cuteness, until Seth MacFarlane, emperor of an animated world and father of a new limbo of humor and satire, twists it, wrests it, perverts its morales, puts a joint on the corner of his mouth and grows it a ghost dick. A stoner brocom-romcom that grabs hold of the writers' droop for outrageous jokes and scandalous situations as we've watched for the last ten years since Family Guy, American Dad and now Cleveland Show. The dialog is sharp and the predicable plot points are executed with surprising novelty, becoming the best comedy of the year so far (more laughs than last year's Bridesmaids).

Ted ran after the unusually self-conscious marketing campaign Ted is Real. While in the first ten minutes of the movie the characters learn the toy has been Pinoccio'ized (news broadcasting helping to create a solid sense of credibility) and now acts like a human, he was constantly advertised as authentic in our real life - the messages of support for the Euro'12 or his holding the Rated-R cards in the promotion stands. A first-rate motion-capture animation and great character writing accomplish such corporealness. Ted was alive for me last night. Whalberg was too but I am sad that Mila Kunis was under-explored thus refraining her comic potential once again.

There's a figure, an iconic figure that I shall not reveal, tying the whole act together. Alongside a perpetuating night wish and an incorrigible recklessness, a childhood idol is a mark for nostalgia, friendship and coolness of the old times. That's what bonds fit Whalberg and Ted's world to later break it apart, making them go on a coming-of-middle-age journey to restore Mark and Mila's love relationship. Add it a thimbleful of disgusting antagonists to darken and heighten the stakes and you've got a third act.

 One of the most interesting things to grasp from the film is the import of the visual and specially narrative style from Seth's animated series (much more than the voices and the meta gags). Mocking everything and everyone, differs from The Dictator in that it focuses itself on pop culture (it makes 9/11 as pop culture as Susan Boyle, while Sasha shuffles it as political satire). But the action scenes, soaked in violence and exhaustion of beats, and some particular shots (like the dizzying travelings when they're stoned at the party) attain Seth MacFarlane's uniqueness as a filmmaker.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Moonrise Kingdom" is a rare bird

You might fall in love and still not be able to define a route for the streams of landscapes, colors and songs that blur your reality checker.

But when you're twelve and experience that soft rush of innocent love projected over an uncommitted faraway future, you know exactly what is happening and which should be your next steps. You may not know how to behave at school the next day when you sit beside your sweetheart, but since last evening you've been tripping on your own world, taking all the chances, running out all the possibilities, descending the most fantasist paths (and so austere are the elements of real life like Suzy's little brothers). Of course you do want to marry him or her. Such a genuine unawareness.

Suddenly, one year goes by and you've grown up. Adolescence climbs onto your shoulders, pimples pop up, sex becomes a major issue, you may face your first existential doubts and you're already halfway out of the egg.

Moonrise Kingdom is a beautiful vintage portrait of those fugitive times right before childhood has vanished across our maturing body.

The color palette - beiges, browns, greens, yellows, some blues - the unbridled travelings in perfectionist framing, the theatricality of the arrangements (characters always facing us, like the Scout's table) are the utmost exacerbation of Wes Anderson's visual aesthetics. Sometimes it feels more like an animation than Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). Sam and Suzy's journey is an adventuresque escapade in a nameless magic-realistic land surrounded by seawater and visited by seaguls. If the meet-cute is a bizarre dreamy conversation between a scout boy and a bunch of girls masked like flamboyant birds, the climax is a clinging of hands taking on from Rapunzel to The Lion King, as the stormy dark night threatens to kill all the lovable souls of the movie.

When the two kids dive in the canal or when we see the binoculars' POV, it has got a fainting orange hue, just like an old summer photo. This is a fairytale, stories inside stories (all the bookishness, the vinyls, the theater, the flashback), a deliberately created unique place. A motion capture of the imaginarium of a child in love. That's why this is an isolated reminiscent but anachronistic place inhabited only by these people, whose dwellings are narrated like a BBC wild life documentary – the ultimate naturalness. It is obvious why it never cares to be a traditional coming-of-age: doesn't tackle sex (although there's that funny moment at the beach), drugs, school or even the familiar issues Anderson's adults end up dealing with (right here and in his previous films). Wes says this is what his twelve-year-old self imagined when in love. I did too. Our own egocentric bravery, the implacable antagonist that may or may not become our best friend in high school and the extraordinary solutions we can come up with among ordinariness (the tree house, the scissor, the thunder).

Although deadpan, these are characters with depth. Anything can happen in Moonrise island, and because Sam and Suzy are going to be in love forever (so they believe), they can marry each other. Hence the naivety I meant at first. That's what the beetle fishhook earrings stand for ("How are we going to take these?"). What grounds us to reality is the wisp of blood descending her neck, the melancholia of the adults and their fate as sad institutional enforcers - police officers, scout chiefs, lawyers, social security agents (strike of narrative genius by Anderson and Coppola). But in this imaginary world the children can escape all the way through (no authority, not even chief Harvey Keitel, will be able to refrain them). What's dark about it is that this is their last chance - like I said, one year from now they'll be giving their first steps into adulthood and starting to be sorry "for all that still hurts" (says Frances McDormand to Bill Murray) - we see the seeds of that suffering, as when Suzy takes a bath. Only Bruce Willis' character overcomes the mechanicness of his function and recreates the parental bond Wes Anderson is so fond of (well, Norton is surprisingly heroic at the end).

A first love as dumb as absolute and sincere: "What kind of bird are you?".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Epic new webseries gets first trailer: Seinfeld is back

Comedians in Cars Get Coffee, that's the title of Jerry Seinfeld's new webseries to be distributed by Sony. A while back I gave notice of some photos and promising huge collaborations - Ultimate Super-Team of Comedians is Epic.  I have subconsciously used the word epic twice but I do think this all means extraordinary events being traversed by a hero and to be praised in poetical exuberance.

Details have been kept under wraps but the teaser hints at a comedian guest per episode getting a ride and coffee in the company of Jerry Seinfeld's jokes. And by the way, get ready for some epic episodes: Michael Richards (Kramer in Seinfeld), Ricky Gervais, Larry David and Alec Baldwin.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Let the Games begin

Starting on July 27th. The greatest event on the planet. An extraordinary animated promo by BBC. Music by the British band Elbow.