January 1st 2007

Some closure

During 2006 I saw 65 different movies at the theatre, excluding festivals. 2005 was an interesting year in which my favourite three movies included a Hollywood film (which would then go to win the Oscar for best movie of the year — perhaps the first time a favourite of mine ever won), a French film and even a Portuguese film. The same thing didn't happen in 2006 though. There were many good American movies, but the European production I got a chance to see here was disappointing when compared to previous years. Here are the three movies I enjoyed the most in 2006:

Me and You and Everyone We Know, by Miranda July. It's such a rich film it's hard to describe in few words, but had me taken by the second minute, in a scene in which the kids are doing ASCII art in front of their computer. In its skeleton, is a simple boy-meets-girl story, but rendered in an delightfully artistic way. Exhibit A in the case to prove narrative and Art in film aren't — and can't — be mutually exclusive.

Children of Men, by Alfonso Cuáron. I believe it'll be seen as the Blade Runner of the next twenty years. Once you get past the somewhat silly main premise you'll see it's just a pretext for one of the most nightmarishly believeable visions of the future ever shot on film. Because it's about now.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, by Tommy-Lee Jones. In contrast with the other two, here's a straight simple story about a cowboy's quest to bury his friend. But done so very right, touching at times, outrageously funny at others.

Other great movies of 2006 include:

- Match Point, by Woody Allen;
- Munich, by Steven Spielberg;
- Breakfast on Pluto, by Neil Jordan;
- The Departed, by Martin Scorsese;
- Inside Man, by Spike Lee;
- Volver, by Pedro Almodóvar,

So as you can tell, it has been a good year for big-name directors (Spielberg, if you recall what I said last year, once again proves his carreer is one sinewave alternating between genius and utter shit), with an exception of note I'll write further down. But it was also a very good year for some people who are bound to also join the Pantheon of Directing Niceness:

- Good Night, and Good Luck, by George Clooney;
- Marie Antoinette, by Sofia Coppola;
- The Secret Life of Words, by Isabel Coixet;
- Babel, by Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Therefore it seems 2006 is the year of Mexico Triumphant. Don't forget that The Three Burials... is also written by Guillermo Arriaga, Babel's screenwriter. Interesting that the two Spanish movies I did see during the year got both my personal five-star rating.

What about the worst? Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Da Vinci Code, Unknown, Dejá Vú, and The Black Dahlia were the year's canned turds. Let's not forget, these are movies actually worse than X-Men III. I never expect anything good from the likes of Brett Ratner or Ron Howard, but Brian de Palma is 2006 equivalent of Terry Gilliam in 2005.

An aside, I saw Catwoman the other day on television. I couldn't take my eyes off how bad it is. The editing is perhaps the worst I ever seen in a movie.···

December 31st 2006

December 30th 2006

Sweet yogurt and some cheese

The 10 Best Short Films of 2006 according to Cinematical. The article features video links, so I guess I'll have a nice evening ahead.···

The Best Blogs of 2006 that you're not reading, according to fimoculous.com. I'm actually reading some of these for quite a while, but an interesting list neverthless.···

The World's Longest Diary was obsessively kept by American Robert Shields who wrote 35 million words in 20 years, even recording his pulse and blood pressure several times a day. I think there's a movie in this...···

Mandolux features some beautiful multi-monitor desktop backgrounds.···

In an attempt to clear the streets and the environment of plastic bags, the Japanese Ministry of Environment has published instructions on the various ways to fold the furoshiki, the traditional blanket that when folded can be used to carry objects just like a bag. So simple I feel stupid for using plastic bags.···

Hans van der Meer photographs amateur football fields all over Europe.···

Color photos of 1930s North America. Somehow we always think of the timespan from the 1850s to the 1950s in black and white, and it's amazing to see something unexpected. Reminds me of the Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record — unbelieveable photos of Imperial Russia in the early 1900s —, and the whole lot here.···

I never had a lot of trouble coming up with color schemes for my designs as somehow I always managed to hit the colors that work for me intuitively, but for those who just aren't very good at it or those that unlike me do worry about nailing the right colors precisely, here's Adobe Kuler, a color scheme generation tool in Flash that allows you to create color schemes in very precise ways. For more information, get a crash course in color theory.···

December 23rd 2006

Ultraviolet plasma

Merry Christmas / Holiday of your choice. May the chocolate be sweet, the wine good, and the company better. ···

I love 'Greatest Ever' lists, don't I? But you can't disagree with a 50 Greatest Animated Cartoons Ever list that includes links to online videos of each. Whassup, Doc?···

Also for Photoshop, the beta of Filter Forge, a node-based filter creator. Haven't tried it out yet but does look interesting, and again I wonder how people took so long to produce such a thing.···

Speaking of 'poshop', the beta version of Adobe Photoshop CS3 is out, and at last here's a version with some real advancements (I dare say, the biggest leap forward since Photoshop 6.0). Little tweaks to the interface make it a lot more practical (in the fashion of Premiere Pro 2 or After Effects 7, with their smart windows and tabs), but mainly because of the ability to use 'smart layers' — non-destructive layers in which effects are kept editable — a feature that has been in video and effects software for ever. Now there's no reason to keep with the baroque habit of applying effects to photos using After Effects.

Also from Adobe, but on a different note, beta 2 of the Soundbooth audio editor is also out, I haven't tried it out yet but I hope it makes up for the sorry, sorry mistake of releasing beta 1 when the software felt more alpha than alpha.···

An amazing photo juxtaposition of airplanes taking off. Reminds me a flock of pigeons taking flight. Very good 'poshop'.···

Unbelieveable motorway intersections. There are motorway accesses more incomprehesible than the inner workings of quarks.···

December 10th 2006

November 20th 2006

Turbo intercooler

Everyone is linking the same video — Amateur by Lasse Gjertsen — and deservingly so. No better example of editing making the performance. Better seen than explained.···

Onliness, an open source record. And the music is quite good, actually.···

Dominio Público is Brazil's government-funded database of public domain content, à lá Archive.org. It seems to be under the threat of closure due to poor demand, so go get your (really) free portuguese language books, videos and images while you can. It's a pain for a Portuguese to admit, but Brazil seems way ahead in this kind of things, and it'd be a major step back if the site closes. Compare with the portuguese governmental practice of demanding a large sum of money for things such as maps or single pages of tax-funded census data. Not to mention the fact that for a long time you had to pay a large subscription fee to read the Republic Diary (where every new law, bill, regulation etc is published) on the internet.···

It seems my Fotologue.jp post spawned a little craze: Here are Ricardo and Sara's, and Carlos'. By the way, my fotologue keeps growing.···

November 19th 2006

November 8th 2006

Take my card

Über-cool Japanese photo sharing website Fotologue has been translated to English and free memberships are now open to the rest of the world. I have, of course, taken the opportunity, since these galleries look far better than anything else I've seen so far. So, here's A Land of Shapes.···

October 29th 2006

Hong Kong Garden

Hippopotamouse: steampunk surrealism, mad Photoshop skills.···

The Suspicious Looking Device. This is why I actually love conceptual art. Do they make these in black?···

25 best free fonts. Free fonts are usually rubbish compared to the lovely crafted typefaces you need a license to use. These are not — they're definitely usable and tasty.···

Q. Why are Penguin books so popular for decades?
A. Not only are they cheap, they are collectibles. Will portuguese editors ever learn?···

1000 words of advice for design teachers. I'm happy I'm already following some of these tips intuitively.···

Film-related remainered links:
Film History, decade by decade.
Wired's list of the ten best movies that entered public domain, meaning, yours for the taking and the remixing, plus instructions on how to get them.
Matching video to audio in Sony Vegas.
From average-looking female model to magazine cover bombshell — a timelapse journey through advanced cosmetics and Photoshop.
A talentless actor auditions for Mr. Kubrick.
Ten common lies told by clients to naive freelancers.···