March 23rd 2007

March 22nd 2007

March 13th 2007

March 12th 2007

March 8th 2007

March 4th 2007

Exotic film

I haven't seen many films during this year's Fantasporto, but still got the good luck of watching two which would become award-winning. Here are some short reviews:

Hana — Hirokazu Koreeda (Japan)
The samurai flick as a dramatic comedy, Hana depicts life in a village in early 18th century Japan, in which a somewhat coward young samurai struggles to overcome procrastination and proceeds with his revenge against his father's murderer. There seems to be plenty of attention to detail in the movie, and there are some funny moments, but overall it's perhaps too long and a tad boring.

The Secret Life of Happy People - Stéphane Lapointe (Canada)
Quite close to the American indie formula — a seemingly happy family with quite a lot of nasty secrets — features some fine comedic situations and all in all it's a simple story of a father stealing his son's girlfriend. However, the last third was somewhat annoying, featuring a somewhat embarassing climax and a half-baked happy ending.

The Bothersome Man - Jens Lien (Norway)
Jacques Tati (it has touches of Playtime) meets the IKEA catalog, with a touch of surreal morbid humour. We follow a man struggling to adapt to life in a strange dystopian city in which everyone is nice to you, TV only shows home improvement and furniture advertising, and suicide is impossible. There are obvious nods at Charlie Kaufman-esque surrealism there, and the blend makes this the best film I've watched in the festival. It won a Special Mention of the Jury, so it seems others agreed.

Isabella - Pang Ho-Cheung (China)
I'm a sucker for Wong Kar-Wai-esque stories about bent policemen with soft spots, and Isabella fits the description. The movie got me quite curious about the former Portuguese colony of Macau, such a strange hybrid it looks (and then there's this character always talking about the evils of Portuguese food). Macau is definitely a place to visit someday. As for the movie, it's quite good (as imitations go that is, but still short of Kar-Wai's work), and possibly a deserving winner of the festival's Orient Express competition. As for the leading lady Isabella Leong (the festival's Best Actress), I have to disagree with the jury, I found her acting little over average.

The Red Cockatoo — Dominik Graf (Germany)
A piece of East German no(t)stalgia set in the early 60s, just before the building of the Berlin Wall, is essentially a love triangle story set in a conflict background in which sex, drugs and rock & roll battle against the Stasi and East German regime in its early days (it's interesting to compare it with very excelent — and which I believe a solid Foreign Film Oscar winner — The Lifes of Others, which depicts the GDR in the 80s). Red Cockatoo has genuinely good moments, but overall I found it too uneven and its character development somewhat spineless.···

February 25th 2007

Glitz and glamour

Not exactly like the Oscars' night but... the Porto International Film Festival has officially started last Friday. I still haven't got the chance (and the will) to see some movies, but will go on a binge later today as I intend to watch two or three films in a row. However, as the Rivoli Theatre sits on the way from the subway to my office I do pass there every day, and it never fails to impress me how people seem to dress up (increasingly better each year) to go watch some flicks. It seems more and more people have the kind of wet dream in which some hot producer or director will pick them up based on the good looking clothes, expensive haircut, or that horribly obvious t-shirt with the sillouette of a film camera. Look: it just won't happen. Movies do require real people to get made, and real people wear faded jeans and have dandruff. Production companies sort out through thousands of resumés to assemble production teams, actors have to appear in casting sessions. Love at first sight doesn't fit the system.

Enjoy the pictures, then go work on your own. Which is something that happens outside festivals, and comes with bad quick shaves.···

A map of worldwide emergencies, in realtime.···

Things other people accomplished when they were your age. Lifehacker suggests looking for inspiration, I just find it a depressing reminder.···

'Fuck-you-money', twenty-five really extreme examples of.···

The visual effects of Children of Men. Even with computer aid, it's still amazing how Alfonso Cuarón pulled off two of the most complex sequence-shots in film history. Hitchcock (which during the 40s obsessed with long takes) would be green with envy.···

January 25th 2007

That's quite a mess

Proceeding with the good housekeeping I promised myself to look into in January, here's — finally — an update to the Land of Shapes, my design & photography portfolio. The site itself may be the exact opposite of webdesign correctness this century, containing all major offenses imaginable (a pop-up window, frames, iframes, table layouts, etecetera), but I like this design so much I once again will stick with it, and I can't be convinced to waste my time replacing tables with divs since in the end, as the site proved to be working in every browser I tested it, nobody cares. It's meant to be experienced by people, not digested by Google, after all.···

Chris Jordan's Running the Numbers, where statistics, photography and Photoshop collide with spectacular (and a bit overwhelming) results. Kottke ···