Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hiking (and Sight-Seeing)

I thought I had a dull Saturday ahead of me, with nothing else to do but a thesis to write; but this is when I can count on my friends! They'd never let me stay home writing a Master's thesis, pfff, God no! Instead, my drinking buddy and high-school friend D. dropped by and invited me to go hiking in Morro da Urca. Well, since it's next to my house, I thought "why the heck not?". My neighborhood, Urca, is just one of the most absolutely gorgeous places ever - certainly the most gorgeous in this city, by a clear mile, and where Sugar Loaf is located. So I dressed accordingly - and as an afterthought, I took my semi-professional camera. I hadn't gone hiking in quite a while, and D. told me that during that time, the Sugar Loaf stations had undergone renovation, so there'd be plenty of new things for me to take pictures of. Boy was he right!
Also, something I hadn't anticipated: the sun today was exactly as it's been the entire summer. Simply outrageous. By the time we got to the top, I was literally melting. But it was totally worth it! 
On the way up, we stumbled across this little buddy! Nothing surprising, though, tamarins are quite common around here - but it's always nice to see them around, they're just so darn cute!
Now: to go to Sugar Loaf, one can choose to a) climb (very popular among the most adventurous ones), b) take the cable cars (not one, two) or c) hike half-way, and then either climb or take the second cable car. So there are two cable cars stations along the way, and this is the first one,  that takes you to the second, highest mountain. Following the path next to the station, we got to this observatory, and what a view!
This is one of the beaches in Urca, with one of the military bases (the big building on the left); it's one of the most popular spots around here - the beach, not the military base! I took zillions of pictures at the observatory, including this one of D., pretending to be pensive (he's really not).
Next, we got to the renewed part of Sugar Loaf, where there are two models of the old cable cars and a heliport. And the whole place is like a lovely square, very family-friendly. A lot of children happy to be there, taking pictures with the statues of the "funny men" (actually, the guys who implanted the whole cable car system - not that the children care, and frankly, nor do I). A lot of nice benches all over, and I took the opportunity to look pensive on one of them.
  There's even this old cable car, from the 70's, with the story of the whole system written in Portuguese, English and Spanish. Quite instructive. 


Also, there's a new mini-theatre, that constantly shows a movie about the cable cars. I was watching it, rather amused, and it took me a little while to realise I was watching it in two languages: in Portuguese, but with subtitles in English. It completely weirded me out!... But a nice move on their part, the subtitles thing. Among many other things, the movie showed President J. Kennedy visiting Sugar Loaf; there was also the story of an American girl who intended to commit suicide; she came here only for that - but upon arrival, she thought the whole thing was so beautiful that she gave up. Really? She changed her mind that easily?! Well, good for her, I guess! Life's too short to spend a single moment thinking about "getting rid of it all". But I was truly impressed: Sugar Loaf is epiphany-giving, who'da thunk it?! 
I took a couple of pictures of the movie, hope it wasn't forbidden!

(To be continued...)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Emptying II

I wrote a while ago this post about feeling empty. And by "a while ago", I mean Septemeber... much longer ago than it actually feels. Well, fair enough I guess, when you have a depressing month like that, you just wanna erase it from your memory.
On the original post I mentioned that we humans are supposed to be feeling beings, we're not meant to feel void or hollow, sensation I simply can't stand.
I'd thought lately that something significant was going to happen. Turns out it won't. Then, I thought I was gonna be upset about it. Turns out I won't - I'm pretty much indifferent. Which is good, on the one hand, since it means not getting hurt. On the other, however, it's a horrible feeling. I'd much rather hate or feel hurt by something or someone than being indifferent to its happening/existence.
Indifference = void.
On a completely distinct side of my life: I've always known exactly what I was gonna do for a living. I still do, what I chose to do is the best option for me; it's simple Math, really: some of my earliest, greatest passions + stuff I'm actually good at + the pathetic recognition my sad little ego longs for + an actual income, approved by society = a perfectly good, honest living!
And yet... now that I'm getting closer to it, now that I gotta put all my energy into it... the prospect of it just leaves me completely lukewarm. And my desires stray at random.
I thought that perhaps my passions had changed, but they haven't as far as I can see.. Perhaps I... don't want a perfectly good, honest living?... I should consider turning to the wrong side of the law! Gotta live on the edge, that's what I always say!
It's just that my sad little ego doesn't long for that recognition anymore... which , hey, is awesome! Talk about growth. But now what? We should always reach out for Greatness, and not settle for anything less. But what do you do when your own concepts of Greatness change dramatically? (What a bad timing for growth!)
Maybe my brother is right after all. I should just be content with f***, eating and sleeping... The problem with his theory is that it completely goes against mine: we gotta feel things. Otherwise, there's no point in f***, eating and sleeping! ("f***"? I'm much more of a prude than I thought... Grams is gonna be so proud!)
Where's the fire, the joy, the pain, the tears? I want them all! Even if it's just to hurt again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I'm home. She's sleeping, and he's at the computer, everything as usual. I'm at home with them. Surreal, and yet so real.
Now we're at the grocery store. And as the grown-ups talk, I realize I'm 6. Since I'm bored, I leave them there, talking, and go play by myself outside, with a random stick I find. I can see the street, with its cobblestones, no cars coming, it's probably Sunday. All the neighborhood is quiet. Yup, definitely Sunday, the day people go to church and have lunch at their grandparents'. I look around, at all those houses so deeply rooted in my memories.
Inevitably, I look at V. and N.'s house, the dearest one - but the colors of it are funny. When I was 6, the house was beige with green windows. Since what I see is a white house with light-grey windows, I realize I'm 24 all over again. I'm a 24 year-old sitting on one of the steps of an empty grocery store, where there's no one waiting for me.
And all of a sudden, I see F. coming. He looks at me out of the corner of his eye, and enters the store. I  realize that, were we 6, he'd come and talk to me, but since we're 24, he's not gonna do it, because of his brother O.
I devote my attention to the stick again, there's nothing else to do.
He comes out, hands full of plastic bags. It's Christmas, after all, I knew that. He stops, and looks at me that way again, but this time with a tiny little smile on his lips, and a huge one in his eyes, the way he always does when he means "kidding!". Without a word, he stretches his arm, offering me one of the bags. I take it, and we walk to the car. And as he opens his door, he looks at me, waiting for me to enter as well. 
I'm happy: he's gonna take me to his house, O. wants to see me again, he isn't mad at me or anything. I laugh, and tell him I can't go in that dress I'm wearing, my pink and yellow dress with flowers. It's cute, but I wanna be prettier than that.
I run back home, down to my salmon-colored house with white gates, while realizing I'm 12. She's there, laughing at something, and he's making lemonade. Highly unlikely, unless she's sick - which is very likely. And then I see the turkey, it's ginormous, much more than the three of us need for Christmas Eve. I joke about it, he laughs and jokes too. I run up the green staircase, up to my bedroom, and I see the door, with the pink stick with my name on it.
The telephone rings, right next to me, and door, stairs and turkey instantly vanish. I wake up, confused, but by the time I get there, there's no one on the other side of the line.
I crawl back to bed, but it's gone. Somethings, I guess, are not easy to get back.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Paying the Piper

It's high summer over here; and when you live in Rio de Janeiro, that's just an euphemism for unbelievably, hellishly hot. And so it'll be for the next, I don't know, 5 months (fall is a luxury that only temperate areas can afford... alas, I live in the tropics). And as it usually happens, the weather keeps on taking turns between devilishly sunny and sudden unwelcome rains. Well: I had to go places yesterday, under a Sahara sun - and so I did, dressed accordingly. However, as there are no coincidences, only Inevitability, I was caught unawares by a downpour. My shorts and flip-flops did not stand a chance.

The result: I've got a cold now, and a fever. Oh well, bound to happen.

But you know what? When I got off the bus yesterday night, heading home, with nothing that resembled an umbrella, I did not hurry. On the contrary: I walked slowly, enjoying every single drop of rain. The cold of each of them, their noise, the way they glimmered against the light from the street lamps, the smell. There are few things better than that.

When you go out, you've got two choices: you can either always take a coat and an umbrella with you, or you can just not worry about carrying so much stuff with you, so much fear of being caught off-guard by something. Imagine what life would be like if I carried rainwear on me everyday, wherever I went, out of sheer worry about the unexpected!

So yeah, I've got a cold now, I'm pretty much down with a fever, having soup (that I made myself: getting sick while living alone sucks big time), drinking lots of fluids and being forced to stay in bed all day long. But it paid off. Had I taken an umbrella with me, I wouldn't have gotten sick, granted - but I wouldn't have had a great walk in the rain. Sometimes, you've just gotta pay the piper. It's totally worth it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Movie Listing (2005)

A turning point, that year. Things changed in the most unexpected way - or at least, I decided to change them. And thank the gods for that! But changing is never an easy process... That aside, helluva of a year for movies! I try not to talk too much about too many movies, but the selection for this post was a hard one.

My favorite movies of 2005:
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: directed by George Lucas, starring Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Lee. Being a Star Wars fan had been quite the shame for the previous years, with the advent of Episode I - The Phantom Menace and Episode II - Attack of the Clones. I'm not even gonna talk about Jar Jar Binks, apparently the most hated Star Wars character of all times. And what is there to say about Padmé and Anakin's extremely farfetched romance?... (btw: had I been Padmé, I'd have felt like a pedophile...). However, Lucas makes it up with this third movie. Still not up to the standard he created with the original trilogy, mind, but damn close to it nevertheless. I totally bought that McGregor's Kenobi would, 20 years later, be Alec Guiness's Kenobi; the bond between master and apprentice was truly believable, making way for the tragedy of Anakin's getting caught in Palpatine's web. That the special effects were mind-blowing goes without saying. Now: the only thing that didn't quite work for me was Anakin's turning to the Dark Side - too quick, if you ask me. Anyway: the story was led in such a way that it allowed the original trilogy to pick it up right where it ended, just as it should be, with no loose ends, methinks. Nice job.

Kingdom of Heaven: directed by Ridley Scott, starring Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons and Edward Norton. Just like Gladiator, it does not fall short of greatness; and one true great thing about this movie is its lack of manicheism. Good and bad are slightly less simple here - Sibylla eventually reproaches Balian, saying someday he'll regret not having done a small evil for a greater good. Well, will he really? There's no right answer, and so the film goes on dwelling on such matters. Eva Green is, as always, stunning, and Orlando Bloom does a fine job as Baliam; and nothing could've given more nobility to king Baldwin than Norton's voice. Irons and Neeson only add up to it, they're awesome in everything they do. And to Ghassan Massoud's Saladin: bravo. The battle scenes are fantastic, and the ambiance is right on the spot. No, it's not historically accurate, but who cares? Entertaining from beginning to end, and it might make you wanna leave the simple dull smithy in a quest for something bigger than yourself, something worth fighting for. Not the best movie of the year, for sure, but one of my personal favorites - I actually know most of it by heart...

Batman Begins: directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale, Katie Holmes, Michael Cane, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy. Well, FINALLY! About time someone made a decent Batman movie! All the previous movies are endurable at best. I love Tim Burton, but c'mon, he's never read a Batman comic in his life! And neither Michael Keaton nor Val Kilmer correspond to my idea of Bruce Wayne/Batman. (I'm ignoring George Clooney in this category, as should you all). Thank you, Mr. Nolan, thank you! Batman's origins, his training, his connection to Ra's Al Ghul, how he came up with his symbol and name - it's all there! And it all falls right into place! This is how it's done. And all of that laureled by amazing performances! Christian Bale is amazing as both Bruce and the The Bat. Murphy is a truly scary scarecrow, and as for Neeson, Cane, Oldman and Freeman, pff. Needless to say they're more than perfect. The expectations for such actors are sky-high, and they exceeded them. Mrs. Cruise was bound to be the weakest link here, but a harmless one; her acting was way better than I'd expected, and the role didn't demand much in that movie. The rare moments of humor were perfect, dry as anything. There was much rejoice in the geek comunity when the movie came out, I'll tell u that! And in the end, when Gordon tells Batman about a new criminal, showing him the Joker card, I had shivers down my spine, and thought "pleeeeease let there be a Nolan movie with the Joker!!!!". I knew something great would come out of it, and boy was I right!

Lord of War: directed by Andrew Niccol, starring Nicholas Cage, Bridget Moynahan, Jared Leto and Ethan Hawke. Fabulous movie, story-telling at its best. Cage plays the gunrunner wonderfully, actually making us sympathize, even if it's just a little, with Yuri Orlov; Jared Leto is a great surprise as his brother, who's also Yuri's counterpart, who enventually realizes what they've both become; and Hawke is just so very good here as the idealist Jack Valentine. The narration (done by Cage's character) is subtly detached from what it's telling, and the dry humor is just superb: "Back then, I didn't sell to Osama Bin Laden. Not because of moral reasons, but because he was always bouncing checks." Haha! Other rationalizations, however, are chilling, such as the echoing "Evail prevails". Brilliant, one of the very best movies that year.

Pride and Prejudice: directed by Jow Wright, starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Rosamund Pike, Donald Sutherland and Judi Dench. I simply worship Jane Austen (though admitting she basically wrote the same story over and over again. But that's not the point) and I'm also real fussy when it comes to adaptations. But this one... talk about being beautifully done. Keira Knightley is downright perfect for Elizabeth Bennet, even if a little bit prettier than readers learn to imagine her to be; the vulgar and irritating mother is played to perfection, just as the even more annoying younger sisters; and Mr. Darcy... Mr. Darcy is just dashing! He's perfect, from appearance to attitude, and it looked as though he couldn't take a wrong step even if he wanted to. The photography and musical score were simply ridiculolus, outrageously perfect. Albeit being a difficult task, that of adapting this adored novel into a 2-hour movie, it was rightly done, leaving no important scenes behind. A movie to be seen over and over again.

Others worthy of notice that year:
Sin City, Elizabeth Town, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Just Like Heaven, Rent, Fantastic Four, The Chronicles of Narnia, Oliver Twist, Madagascar, Match Point, King Kong, Walk The Line, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Constantine, Capote, Good night, and Good Luck, Corpse Bride, March of the Penguins, Brokeback Mountain, Thank You for Smoking, The Zodiac.
(Phew! Quite the list...)

Movies I regret having watched in 2005:
The Matador: really Pierce? Like... really? If u were gonna play the role of a matador, might've as well stuck with James Bond! A much better choice would've that been!

The Skeleton Key: childish. And Kate should take part in better stuff.

Cheaper by the Dozen 2: I could live with the first one. Far from being the funniest thing I've ever seen, but I can deal with it. But one was more than enough! And Tom Welling's acting is just pitiable... a shame, his being so handsome and all... oh well... and: Hillary Duff? Pff... those two side by side AGAIN is much more than I can bear...

The Pacifier: ok Vin Diesel, you ARE the new Arnold, no need to try that hard...

The Producers: I'm a fan of silliness. I'm a fan of musicals. But this... hated it, hated it, hated it - I usually deny having watched it. Seriously. I go like: "The Producers? No... never watched it" - while in my head I try to push back all the horrible moments I had in front of the screen...

Monday, January 11, 2010


Hey there baby!

Sorry it took me longer than usual to answer your letter, but everything was a mess around here! Pops had to spend a couple of days at the hospital - and of course, my mother just went bonkers. He's fine, nothing too serious - when you're 95, anything could be it, you know? Also, I got two more shifts at the garage, so I had to reorganize my entire day... but that's okay, cus it means more money. Guess I'll be able to see you sooner than we expected! I could drop by on your birthday, what say you? I already got you a present, think you're gona like it - your first clue: you saw it at the mall, but couldn't buy it.
How's your family, and school? How did you do on those finals? I remember you were freaking out, but if I know you, I'll bet you did better than anyone else there! That's what you always do. I told Melissa about the things your rommie said, and wow, did she get mad! Said she was gonna go all the way down to Connecticut and "kick her sorry ass"! You know my sister, she gets like that...
Thought of you so much the other day. I was by the lake on the 4th of July, and we were all watching the fireworks, as usual. You know, the fireworks were gorgeous this year, old Burgess really outdid himself this time! You, more than anyone else, would've loved them. I missed you. Also: I was at the diner last week, and there was this girl, she had her back to me, and her hair was just like yours. I frozed there for a second, and I almost ran to her! Till I realized, of course, she didn't have her pinky. Yeah. Then I got to see her face - she was nothing like you. And I missed you again. You don't give me much peace of mind, do you?
Sometimes I think I should've gone with you - I don't care how. But then I think of Pops, mom would have to take care of him all by herself. She already works so much, you know... but one day I'll have my own garage, and I'll pay the bills by myself, without anybody's help. We'll have it good! Until then, I can't wait till you gradutate. One year more, and you'll be here again, think of that! Your parents are gonna flip, of course, but there's nothing they can do. If only they didn't care so much... I know shitloads of people (like your roomate) who just don't buy this long-distance relationship thing, but that's fine. I just laugh along - I know none of them have what we have. (Jake says that when I talk like that, I sound like a girl. But he's a jerk. That's what best friends are for, I guess, to laugh at us when we're taking ourselves too seriously.)
Gotta go now, time to put Pops to bed. You just be good, keep doing your thing, and don't you miss me too much, alright? I'll be there for your birthday - I'll walk to you if need be! And should you feel lonely, just listen to our song. My world's simply not what it used to be - and you're entirely to blame for that.
Love you.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Movie Listing (2004)

Second year of college, excellent year. New boyfriend, I was back to karate, and my academic career was taking off - I was finally going the places I wanted to at University. Thing is: my boyfriend at that time only wanted to see the wrong movies... So I didn't see any of the movies here at the cinema, had to rent them all later... well, with one petty exception, which will be explained.

My favorite movies of 2004:
Finding Neverlad: directed by Marc Forster, starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. Wonderful and magical. Depp is, as usual, astounding as J. M. Barrie, and Winslet only shows once again the outstanding actress she is. The kids are amazing! I just wanted to hug'em all... The entries into Barrie's imagination are simply a privilege. It's one of my favorite movies ever (Yes, I have many of them... What can I do? It's so difficult to narrow down some lists...), and it should've totally won the Oscar for best picture (though, being completely honest, I haven't seen Million Dollar Baby, the winner that year, nor The Aviator, Ray and Sideways, the other nominees...)

Closer: directed by Mike Nichols, starring Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. SUCH a slap on the face. Awesome. I love all of these actors - but the girls really stood out on this one. Not an easy job, though, cus these guys are phenomenal (and TALK about charming...). But Natalie Portman, who's ususally the embodiment of adorable, was so gorgeous here! And her eyes said it all, you could see her hurting throughout the entire story. As for Julia Roberts... this, for me, has gotta be one of  the roles she played best. Why? She didn't flash us with her million-dollar smile; not even once - not the way she usually does. Her trademark was just not there. And she acted her ass off without it! She wasn't the pretty woman Vivian Ward, the horrible best friend Julianne Potter, the actress Anna Scott, nor the runaway bride Maggie Carpenter, who are all basically the same person. She was Anna, a photographer and an entirely different woman. Bravo. As for the story itself, the epitome of cynicism. Different from everything else - a great different.

Before Sunset: directed by Richard Linklater, starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Wow, there's nothing left to say except "thank you". Thank you Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy (the writers) for this movie! Before Sunrise is not a movie that demands a sequel, quite the opposite, in fact. The reason for that is that sequels couldn't suck any little bit more, with rare exceptions. (Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and The Godfather 2, for example. Movies meant to be a trilogy, such as The Lord of the Rings, do not count, they're not sequels). So I got a little disappointed they'd made one. But OMG!!!! That was brilliant, are you kidding me? And actually, I'll daresay it's better than the first one. The dialogs ran more smoothly, they seemed more confortable in their own skin, and Delpy is just so much more interesting here! Both of them, really. And when Jesse sees Celine there, right there at the bookstore, the excitement in his eyes! If I'd been that girl, I would've been all "be-still-my-beating-heart" on the inside! Jeez, I had the butterflies when I saw him looking at her like that, like he'd just hit the jackpot... it's not often u get that damned second chance we all long for... Her song too, it hit it out of the park... As for the ending, perfect. Thank you very much!

50 First Dates: directed by Peter Segal, starring Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Sean Astin and Rob Schneider. "Awwwww!!!" That was what I just couldn't stop thinking half-way through the movie, till the very end. The cutest romantic comedy ever!!! And then it becomes just so unberably sad... oh God... I'm not a big fan of Adam Sandler, not my cup of tea, but he was great here! And I absolutely adore Barrymore, she's the cutest, and a great actress, for that matter. What about the walruses and the penguin???? Made me wish I lived in Alaska or something... (I've been wishing that every freaking day since the summer started... Beware ye: the summer in Rio de Janeiro is ruthless!). Besides, the idea of you making your partner fall in love with you all over again every single day... isn't that what any relationship should be all about?... Great great soundtrack, by the way.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: directed by Michel Gondry, starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Elijah Wood - with a very small appearance of Kirsten Dunst. I'm sorry. I fell head-over-hills in love with that movie - but never had the guts to watch it again. It was just so, so painful... I remember their acting being out of this world, just as the whole concept. But my memory, which is great 99% of the time, is completely wrapped around the pain I felt watching this movie, erasing almost everything else. So I can't actually talk about it the way it deserves.

Others worthy of notice that year:
Crash: very good - but Babel was so much better... if there'd been less stories... less is always more.

What I regret having watched in 2004:
A Cinderella Story: hehe, my "petty exception", mentioned at the beginning of this post. The only movie worth mentioning I saw at the cinema that year. My then-boyfriend had taken me to the movies to watch I don't know what movie, I think I completely erased it from my mind... well, I hated it, whatever it was. So to punish him, the next time we went to the movies I insisted on this one. A Cinderella Story. Well, to punish him, and because I think Chad Michael Murray is incredibly handsome and charming. But I admit it was going too far... Hilary Duff? AND Jennifer Coolidge? No one should be forced to go through that... indeed, very petty of me. The whole thing was lamentable, from beginning to end. I'm just not sorry I got to see hot Chad on the big screen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Quoting Favorites III (or: on Bukowski)

I've just finished reading Hollywood. As a friend of mine well put it: we never forget our first Bukowski. Indeed.
People tend to put him and beatnicks Kerouac and Ginsberg in the same basket. Nu-uh. Good old Charlie's got nothing to do with them beats. Even though they're all marginalized, flipping the bird to society as a whole, Bukowski, he's a gang all by himself. Alcoholic, misanthropist, chauvinist, politically incorrect and an awesome writer, the dirty old man. Above all, he despised the human race, because he saw it for what it really is: a huge pathetic lot.
Humanity, you never had it from the beginning.
(Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, "Those Sons of Bitches")

The only ones he might have had sympathy for were the so-called low lives, the rejected children of America:
They buy my books - the defeated, the demented and the damned - and I am proud of it.
(in an interview to High Times

Once you feel the discomfort, once you fall, there's no way back up. You're defeated. You're damned. You know there's nowhere to go back to, because it's all the same and it's all a big blur. That's where your backbone, your moxie, swoops in:
Moxie means carrying on when everything feels terrible. It means carrying on when everything seems so terrible there is no use to go on, and you don't go to a god, you don't go to a church. You face the wall and just work it out alone.

You work it out alone, just trying to get to the other side of that bridge. And if you wanna get to the other side, if you wanna carry on, whatever you do, don't think. One simple, basic rule.
Not that everybody feels the need of it, of course.

from The Last Night Of The Earth Poems
by Bukowski

you may not believe it
but there are people
who go through life with
very little
friction of distress.
they dress well, sleep well.
they are contented with
their family
they are undisturbed
and often feel
very good.
and when they die
it is an easy death, usually in their

you may not believe
but such people do

but I am not one of
oh no, I am not one of them,
I am not even near
to being
one of
but they
are there

and I am

I envy and despise the aliens.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Movie Listing (2003)

Ipanema is a hell of a beach. Literally. It's hell, specially on weekends. God forbid I ever come back there on a Saturday...
2003, first year of college - and one of the best years of my life (so far). A great, great movie year as well:

My favorite movies of 2003:
 The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King: directed by Peter Jackson, starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen and co. The stakes now are unbelievably high - it's all or nothing now. Peter Jackson makes this movie larger than life, bringing battles and emotions to screen with artistry; all the actors are brilliant as well, specially Mortensen and Wood. (Many pple have complained that Frodo became annoying and whiny as the movies went on. Yeah, well, try to carry the destiny of the world in the form of a ring with will of its own, while all the forces of Evil are after your ass - let's see how you're gonna cope with that! Wood did an excellent job.) Also, all the kudos to Andy Serkis as Gollum, are you kidding me? Freaking perfect. As for the ending, hehe, I agree that the film keeps on ending and ending - and it takes a long time to actually end! But after all those huge battles and tense moments, I think we needed those lingering final minutes. AND, one of the best scenes ever, that always makes me burst into tears: Aragorn's coronation. He's walking deown the aisle (or whatever) and... he sees the hobbits. Since he's the King of Men, they start bowing to him. But Aragorn stops them, and visibly moved (Mortensen had it in his eyes!), he says: "My friends, you bow to no one." and bows to them - and so does the entire kingdom of Gondor. A river, every time. Jackson waited and waited - he wouldn't get any Oscar before the final movie, we all knew that. (yeah, LOR got make-up, costumes, original score... I'm talking the big ones: best movie, best actors, best  adapted screenplay... I'm talking breaking records). The final  chapter would take the awards for all three, or nothing at all. Like I said, the stakes were high: all or nothing. It got 11 Oscars - and deserved every single one of them. The only downside of this movie is that it makes you realize there won't be any other LOR movies...

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush. And as one fantastic trilogy ends, another begins. Ok, it wasn't meant to be a trilogy at first, but anyway. Well, what can I say? I'm a sucker for Johnny Depp, I love Bloom and Knightley, and Geoffrey Rush is simply great in every role he plays. He plays to perfection the typical pirate we imagine when we read pirate stories. And Depp is a freaking genius playing Jack Sparrow, period. The plot seems simple at first, but it doesn't take you very long to realize it isn't just the white bread "good boy joins forces with not-as-bad-as-he-seems-outlaw to rescue damsel in distress". No, no. It's basically "every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost"! Every character, even the holier-than-thou Will Turner (Bloom), has a hidden agenda, and none of them hesitate to stab a partner in the back to get what they want. They're downright pirates! Jaw-dropping movie, for sure.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: directed by Donald Petrie, starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. One of my fave chick flicks! Nothing too original to it, but it doesn't matter. We all know how romantic comedies end anyway. The leading characters are really charismatic, and the chemistry between Hudson and McConaughey is just right. It's full of cuter-than-ever moments, intertwined with LOL moments.You just keep rooting for them not to find out about each other's real agenda - but you know they will, cus it's a movie and all... The best parts are when Andie (Hudson) starts baby-talking to him, and acting all girlish-annoying! Naming his thing "Sophie"?? A killer.

The School of Rock: directed by Richard Linklater, starring Jack Black and Joan Cusack. Hehe! No one could've been casted as Dewey Finn other than Jack Black! The best comedy to come out that year, for sure. And another mandatory for rock fans. The whole plot is, of course, unbelievable - but, as I've said before, if you wanna see sheer reality, stay home. Black's enthusiasm for what he's doing is alarmingly contagious, and the kids are great! Joan Cusack, obviously, delivers and delivers - and then some. The fact that the whole thing is always on the edge of disaster keeps you on edge with them! Top it off with some great rock lessons and references, and you've got yourself a treat.

Kill Bill: vol.1: directed by Quentin Tarantino, the Great, starring Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah and David Carradine. My first Tarantino movie ever. At first I was like "yeah, cool... rather gruesome and over the top though, isn't it?". But then it slowly sinked in: it was supposed to be gruesome and over the top. Then I found out that was his thing: gore. And as I re-watched it, it grew on me immensely: the smart hilarious dialogs, the ever-flowing fake blood, flying limbs and cheesy violence. The camera angles are awesome, just as the soundtrack (as usual in his movies). The use of B&W photography and Japanese animation only add up to what was already great. Besides, great homage to the Kung-Fu movies from the 70's! Thurman was, btw, brilliant! Tarantino's fascination for her is more than justifiable. Liu was a great surprise for me, she really outdid herself this time. That woman was fierce! And the end? Ha! Talk about cliffhanger! "One more thing, Sofie... is she aware her daughter is still alive?" Holy crap! Right there with "Luke, I'm your father"! Mind-blowing.

Love Actually: directed by Richard Curtis, starring Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, and soooo many others... not to mention our own Rodrigo Santoro. With actual lines and all! A Christmas must. Delicate, sensitive and beautiful. 8 story-lines that end up intertwined, depicting all kinds of love, and showing that love does crop up in the most unexpected places. If some of the stories have a romantic happy ending, a couple are bittersweet - as only love can be. And Hugh Grant, as Prime-Minister, dancing? LOL. The old rockstar Billy Mack (Nighy) and his manager (Gregor Fisher) are a pleasant surprise by the end, and Liam Neeson and his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) are undescribably touching... Gorgeous.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas: directed by Patrick Gilmore and Tim Johnson, starring Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer (voices). I was gonna talk about Finding Nemo and include this one in the "worthy of notice" list. But let's face it: everyone knows Finding Nemo is great and just adooooorable! Whereas I feel Sinbad was much too underrated. Sinbad is, make no mistake, the dream of every girl: handsome, charming, a smooth-talker, adventurous, and not worth a penny! His best friend Proteus (Joseph Fiennes) manages not to come off as a push-over but as a total dear, and Marina (Zeta-Jones) is, against all odds, charismatic (female protagonists are rarely charismatic, with few exceptions). Pfeiffer brings the right tone for the villainess Eris and is seductively dangerous, just as it should be. The story is very much enticing and the dialogs hilarious! I still can't get over some of Sinbad's lines: "Who's bad? Sinbad!"; "She couldn't see the bird? Everyone else saw it. It's as big as the freaking ship! Marina? Marina is looking the other way..."; to his quartermaster, bare-chested in the cold: "Put a shirt on before you poke someone's eye out!". You gotta love this movie!

Others worthy of notice that year:
The Last Samurai, Finding Nemo, Under the Tuscan Sun. Awesome, adorable, inspiring.

What I regret having watched in 2003:
 Intolerable Cruelty: I'm very sad two actors I love, Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney, were part of it. I really am. If they needed the money so much, they could've just gotten a loan or something. Hope I never get to see it again. 

Charlie's angels: Full Throttle: depressingly bad. Everything. The "funny scenes" were not funny, the "action scenes" were ridiculous, the acting was awful (well, poor actors, they gotta make do with what is given to them...), and the story was just... well, I was rendered speechless, as Sheldon (The Big Bang Theory, cus I'm a full-fledged nerd) would put it... 

American Pie 3: sooooooo uncalled for. 

Friday, January 1, 2010

Movie Listing (2002)

Year of many transitions...things were taking a turn from crappy to better than expected. To the movies:

My favorite movies of 2002:
Chicago: directed by Rob Marshall, starring Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere and Queen Latifah. Followed brilliantly on Moulin Rouge!'s footsteps, and sustained the musical flag hoisted by its predecessor. (Wow, that's tacky!). Anyway, the acting is brilliant down to a T; Queen Latifah is always great, and is naturally poised; Renée is an outstanding actress, and she really surprised me in a musical, didn't think she'd pull it off; Richard Gere, if not a great actor (I mean, c'mon!), at least renders a great tapping number. But for me, there's no one like Catherine Zeta-Jones. She was born for the role, she can do it all! Awesome movie, totally deserved the oscar.

The Lord of the Ring - The Two Towers: directed by Peter Jackson, starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen and co. The first was awesome, this one was even better. Yes, some scenes were just to much too take (for example, Legolas using a shield to skateboard down the stairs while shooting the orcs non-stop...) - but c'mon! That's the spirit! If one wants to see reality, then one should stay home and watch the news. More battles, great action scenes and new characters, such as the annoying Eowyn and the cute underrated Faramir. Besides, it's full of comedy, specially between Legolas and Gimli. Priceless scene:
Gimli: "I cannot jump the distance, you'll have to toss me. [Pause] Don't tell the elf."
Aragorn: "Not a word." Ha!  

Spider-man: directed by Sam Raimi, starring Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco. I say Tobey is a great Peter Parker, with the right nerd vibe the role asks for! I don't like the Mary-Jane of the movie, and sustain the girl chosen for him - at least for the 1st movie - should've been his unforgettable sweetheart Gwen Stacy. BUT I really like Kirsten Dunst, and she does a good job with the character she was given. The plot's really good, and the build-up of Spider-Man was really well-done. As a fan of the comics, kudos to Sam Raimi for the direction and David Koepp for the adaptation. Movie adaptations from comics have really improved this decade, for which me and all the other geeks and nerds are thankful for!

Catch Me If You Can: directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. I thought I'd see some light-hearted police-thief movie. I didn't. But I had to give it up for Spielberg. What a great movie! Tom Hanks did his thing, which he's terrific at, no comments necessary. Christopher Walken too, he wowed me alright with that performance. Now: DiCaprio only confirmed what I had suspected when I saw The Man in the Iron Mask, many years before: he's a great actor. He plays a really charming and at the same time touching Frank Abagnale Jr. When he calls Hanratty cus he feels lonely, and has no one else to call on Christmas Eve... awww! Same thing goes for when he runs away from the police and tries to see his mother, my heart just broke into a thousand pieces. Hands down to DiCaprio-Spielberg combo!

Bowling For Columbine: directed by Michael Moore. "At the Cannes film festival, the movie received a standing ovation that lasted 13 minutes."( Why? Yes, Michael Moore can a be a freaking pain in the ass; yes, his movies are biased and deceptive; YES, he yacks and annoys you into being tired of his talk. Yes, he SHOULD tone it down. But let's give it to him: the guy's got some fair points. The U.S. IS a nation under the grip of fear; the media IS sensationalist and DOES frown upon the wrong people. Not only the U.S., mind, this is sheer human nature! It happens world wide. The interview with Marilyn Manson? Wow, that guy's got some serious thinking going on, and then some. Moore does edit his movie in deceptive ways, and plays us like violins - he excells at that. But he strikes a chord. 

Others worthy of notice that year:
Cidade de Deus (City of God), Ice age, Phone Booth

What I regret having watched in 2002: 
Moonlight Mile: BOOOOOOOOOORIIIIIIING!!!!!! Couldn't wait for it to be over - and I like my drama alright! The acting was really good, though.

The Sweetest Thing: talk about vulgar, jeez...the three actresses are capable of soooo much better... even Cameron Diaz.

Swimfan: cheap and stupid, not to mention cliché. Don't get me started on the bad acting.

Sweet Home Alabama: I was embarassed for Reese Witherspoon... the characters woke no sympathy in me - and I'm an easy target! And the whole story with the lightning... I was just sorry for everyone involved in the movie.

Blue Crush:
it was a joke, right? It's gotta be meant for mocking. 

Crossroads: the winner of the year, for sure! The Oscar for "Worst Screenplay In Freaking Movie History" , "Crappiest Leading Actress" (actress, pfff), "Crappiest Supporting Role", "The Most Harrowing Soundtrack" and "Shittiest Movie Ever". Besides, evidently, "Special Award: You Managed To Beat Glitter".