Friday, December 31, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hope in Edmonton

An injured white German shepherd called Esperanza nurses her five pups plus an opportunistic cat.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

PSB xmas

Neil and Chris wish their fans a Merry Christmas with an exclusive track, the ballad "Night Song" (from the children's play My Dad's a Birdman, for which they wrote the songs too).
The Pet Shop Boys Christmas card, featuring their cosmic profiles, arrived along with the announcement of the first run of performances of "The Most Incredible Thing," the ballet/modern dance piece for which they composed the music. They talk about that and Chris' non-loyalty to Lady Gaga here.

Tron Legacy

Tron's sequel, brought to you 28 years after the original, hasn't improved much on the plot, but the visuals are dazzling enough to be worth the price of admission. The 3D adds a nice, sleek touch, and every crash is an explosion of plastic, light and ink splotches. The rest remain the same: people get sucked up into a video game where they have to fight the little people who live inside the digital world.

The soundtrack by Daft Punk is mildly disappointing in the lack of inventiveness we came to expect from the French robot duo. The idea seemed great: who better to craft the music for an electronic world than the guys making "the sound of the future"? But instead of pulsating electronic landscapes, we get average semi-orchestral pieces, which for the most part work for the screen, but leaves us pining for a proper Daft Punk album.

My new favorite image

Batman goes to Paris. Cover of Batman: Europa # 3, by Diego Latorre.

Still speaking of Batman and company, jewelry maker nOir released a jewelry collection inspired by DC Comics superheroines. Now you can get your own amazon gold bracelet or carry Gotham City in a ring. (?)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Only in Brazil (and in the Vatican)

While the Pope gets hunky guys to strip for him in the Vatican, Lula is called "the Santa Claus of the gays" by activists. He reaches the end of his administration with record approval ratings.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thor trailer

And speaking of Hulk, the Thor trailer came out. And it's looking like more of the same, despite Natalie Portman's presence. I hope Ken Branagh doesn't disappoint like Ang Lee did.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Green puppy

A green puppy was born close to São Paulo. The lab pup was exposed to biliverdin, a green substance in the placenta that dyed the little guy green. His owner named him Hulk.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gisele and The Green Team

Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen became a cartoon! The animated web series is sort of a mix between Jem and Captain Planet of the fashion world. When not walking the runway, Gisele and her girlfriends moonlight as eco-superheroines stopping logging in British Columbia and illicit arsenic dumping in Papua New Guinea. The animation is rudimetary and Gisele does not do her own voice, but the show's got a catchy theme song -- and her hair is animated separately.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My new favorite image

In Spain, a health campaign for World AIDS Day featured the image of a condom in the place of the Catholic host. The title of the campaign? "Behold the condom, which taketh away AIDS from this world."

Oscar Niemeyer and the architecture of samba

For his 103rd birthday, legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer decided to... write a samba! The "last Stalinist" has done samba-related projects before, like the Sambadrome.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky's latest may not have the punch of The Wrestler or Requiem For A Dream, but it has its own beauty and grace that will leave you breathless at every turn. With his schizophrenic camera, Aronofsky fills the screen with foreboding and sexual angst. Natalie Portman is everything one could wish for in the role and she looks amazing in a tutu. Her performance is fragile when it needs to be and visceral when paranoia starts to become reality for Nina, a ballerina under a lot of stress and with bad skin issues. The rest of the cast is also phenomenal, specially Barbara Hershey looking like Mickey Rourke.


Priscilla The Musical approaches the end of its run at the Princess of Wales Theatre. As soon as the production wraps up their trial-run in Toronto, the pink bus moves on to its Broadway debut in March 2011. From the original Australian cast, the only actor that remains in the North American cast is Tony Sheldon, in the role of Bernadette.
Despite some favorite parts from the movie being excised (no Abba poop or aboriginals in drag), the musical stays close enough to the film's story arc. But the focus here isn't exactly the plot; the show is really about the soundtrack, which gets some reinforcements from Madonna, Donna Summer and Cyndi Lauper. The songs from the movie are almost all there, with some regrettable omissions (Charlene's I've Never Been To Me and Patti Page's I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine, for instance). But boy, do we get a lot of I Will Survive...
Whenever an iconic or cult film becomes diluted in musical theatre, it's hard to continue taking it seriously. When the movie came out, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of The Desert meant a lot more than just another gay movie -- it was one of the pioneers that dealt with deep and complicated gay issues in a lighthearted way, quickly placing itself in the universal gay subconscious. The musical isn't nearly as powerful, but taken for what it is, it's fun for the whole family. The audience was mostly middle-aged ladies, some young straight couples, a few kids and even some gays.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My new favorite image

Very cool cartoons by Alex Noriega, a Spanish artist living in Mozambique. Find more pearls of wisdom at Stuff No-One Told Me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

War in Rio part 2

While Rio still burns after one week of televised civil war, the echoes of the struggles between the favelas and the rest of city reaches North America in two documentaries that go beyond just showing life in the favelas as a spectacle.

Remix-To-Rio is a documentary about a crew from Toronto's Remix Project -- a cultural and learning institute for at-risk youth in Toronto -- who go to Rio to help build a creative centre for the youth in a favela. What they see and live there changes them and the people around them, and creates a bond beyond language in a surprising way -- surprising, if you're not Brazilian. The video was produced with the financial support of the Government of Canada and is available for free viewing on the movie website.

Meanwhile, documentarist Lucy Walker just released Waste Land, her project with Brazilian superstar art photographer Vik Muniz. He decided to do an art project in the biggest landfill in the world, located in the outskirts of the city of Rio and what he found there, despite his expectations, was a colourful and strong cast of characters, real Brazilian folk who impart beauty to the trash. Issues of classism, art value, dignity and environmentalism come up and help make this one of the best documentaries of 2010.

Both movies are moving, thought-provoking and put in perspective how we, the privileged few, see and think about poverty and happiness.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My new favorite image

Scott Thompson is playing Beauty's guardian in the local production of Beauty and the Beast, The Savagely Silly Family Musical.

Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday

Yes, yes, Nicki Minaj. Again. The girl rapper seems to be everywhere at the same time these days, appearing on everybody's tracks including Mariah, Aguilera, P. Diddy and Rihanna. She's a little crazed and but she's also smart and she means business. This debut album keeps a firm foot on hip-hop but plays around with all kinds of genres, mash-ups and samples, with nods to Prince, Grace Jones, Simple Minds, Annie Lennox and even The Buggles. Minaj goes from singing like a Barbie doll to cussing like a sailor in the skip of a track. Despite ill-advised guest spots from Eminem and and some schmaltzy pseudo-ballads, the album is tight and Minaj's rhymes are off the hook. She's hot and hilarious. Check out her video for Check It Out:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

War in Rio

For the past 4 days Rio has been in the grip of fear and panic. Widespread criminal attacks all over the city have kept the population indoors and left a lot of burned cars and buses everywhere.
The police and the army are invading favelas ruled by drug lords and reclaiming them to the State. Tanks and heavily armed elite soldiers became a common sight and shootouts start without warning.
Rio promised a safe city for the World Cup and the Olympic Games. Looks like they have some messy, heavy-duty cleaning to do.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ultimate Pet Shop Boys DVD

The new Pet Shop Boys hits compilation may be a little redundant, but the real treat is in the DVD that accompanies the deluxe edition of Ultimate. The DVD features the Boys' various appearances on Top of the Pops, a music chart television show popular in Britain, and other BBC programmes. The little pocket shows that they created for television contain another visual layer of their career. Some of the shows recreate the imagery of the music videos; in others, we get rare glimpses of a Pet Shop Boys side that we outside of England have never seen (Neil wearing glasses onstage!) The videos go from vintage 80's glory, with Neil lipsynching to West End Girls and Chris looking youngish to the controversial political satire of I'm With Stupid. There is also some very odd stage sets and audience participation, an amazing appearance of Dusty Springfield in a mumu on stage in 1988, Chris' mysterious blond hair phase in Flamboyant, and Neil's hair going from curly locks to chrome dome. Through the ages, the Pet Shop Boys made looking bored on television an art form.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


After Zélia Duncan graced us with her presence in October, her former band Os Mutantes played in Toronto last night. Well, kind of. It wasn't really her band -- she was just lending her voice to the group -- and the band last night wasn't exactly "Os Mutantes;" from the original 3 mutants, only Sérgio Dias remains to carry the psychedelic flame.
Decked out in an Indian tunic, Dias seemed at ease and glad to be here. He spoke to the young crowd in flawless English and risked some French. The rest of the band is entirely new and the female voice which was once Rita Lee's, now belongs to Esmeria Bulgari (the other Mutante vocalist, Bia Mendes -- who used to sing backing vocals for Rita herself -- did not take part on this tour as she's expecting a baby.) Esmeria is good, but it must be hard to follow in the footsteps of Lee, Duncan and Mendes.
Despite the static staging, the band jams well together and the concert was well-balanced in terms of new and old material. Here's a rocky version of Beatle-esque Tecnicolor.
Fan favorites Bat Macumba, El Justiceiro and I Feel a Little Spaced Out (but no Baby) stood out against the new material which is highly uneven, despite being mostly co-written by the pope of all things weird, the brilliant Tom Zé. The album came out in 2009.
But all is forgotten at the sight of original mutant Sérgio Dias delivering one of his legendary guitar solos. The kids were all digging it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Luísa Maita - Lero-Lero

Luísa Maita is a singer-songwriter from São Paulo who's been getting lots of attention in the international press with the release of her album Lero-Lero outside of Brazil (she was in Toronto last week as part of her first North American tour.) Luísa became famous when she was featured singing in the promotional video for the Rio Olympics. She writes most of her music and her sound is a smooth samba/bossa-nova concoction ready-made for the international market. She is technically competent, but her music and voice sound a lot like what I've heard before from this new crop of female Brazilian singers, like Céu, Gisele de Santi and Clara Moreno. Hopefully her upcoming remix album for Lero-Lero will spice things up a bit.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The war of the Wonder Women

After Megan Fox dissed Wonder Woman, probably in a fit of sour grapes since she's not attached to the project anymore, no one less than original WW Lynda Carter came out in the amazon's defense.
"She just didn't really get it.
Like, who trashes Wonder Woman, right?
What is there to trash?"

Obviously, only Megan Fox's reputation and IQ.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Green Lantern teaser

Ryan Reynolds is looking pretty good as the emerald cop.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

127 Hours

Like Buried, 127 Hours puts a male protagonist stuck in one location where he needs to keep our attention for the full length of the feature. And James Franco does it as well as, if not better than Ryan Reynolds. The story here is pretty thin, albeit dramatic, but the real beauty of 127 Hours is how Danny Boyle put it all together.
The desert shots are beautiful and Boyle's energetic shooting style works like a video game, with every level bringing more excruciating agony -- the sequences are full of adrenaline and foreboding. Franco is even able to take some comedic turns in the face of tragedy thanks to some liberties taken with the state of mind of the real guy who went through it, Aron Ralston (seen here with Boyle and Franco.)
With an exciting visual style borrowing heavily from music videos and commercials vocabulary -- quick cuts, split screens, extreme close-ups -- Boyle redeems himself a little from the Slumdog sellout and remains in the company of directors who share with him a certain filmic aesthetic such as Aronofsky, Burton, Spike Jonze and Christopher Nolan, to a certain extent.

Friday, November 12, 2010

DC Comics online store

Something quite revolutionary happened yesterday when DC Comics started selling comics online for Ipads and Iphones.
The DC Comics Store's selection is still pretty limited, but the point is that it makes comics accessible to a whole new audience and catapults the medium into the new world of digital distribution. Exciting times in the Hall of Justice!

Only in Brazil

An 18-year-old was arrested for kissing a 13-year-old boy in a movie theatre in São Paulo. They were on an internet date but the manager of the theatre decided to call the police for what he saw as a minor in peril. Even though the 13-year-old said he wasn't being forced to make out, the 18-year-old was still charged with "raping a vulnerable person."
On the other hand, students from a rural university in the state of Rio did a demonstration against homophobia after gay residents of a dorm were harassed by straight students who later claimed "gay panic defence."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Together video

The video, shot in Estonia by unknown director Peeter Rebane, features the Pet Shop Boys just for a couple seconds. The rest of it is weird in a very Pet Shop Boys kind of way. The strong eastern-bloc flavour matches Together's polka-like staggered beats, the same way Domino Dancing matches summer.

The Pet Shop Boys posing with the cast of their latest video for new single Together.

I wonder if from now on Neil and Chris will appear less and less on their videos. Of course, they have always liked to work with a younger generation.

My new favorite image

Chris Evans looking pretty super as Captain America.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My new favorite image

The Rio Comicon starts today. Poster illustrated by Milo Manara.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Remembrance Day

Rehearsing for the ceremony at Queen's Park.