Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Uncle Boonmee

Tim Burton called it "a beautiful strange dream." Critics have hailed it as mysterious, whimsical, magic, wondrous. It won the Palm D'Or in Cannes. Yet, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is completely befuddling.

But also mesmerizing. For a westerner, the pace of the Thai film can seem deliberately slow with its long, naturalistic shots of animals, waterfalls, forests and caves, which makes the movie seem like an extended daydream. If you're looking for meaning, though, this dream is specially hard to decipher.

Taking turns between weird and creepy, this fable-like tale has a talking fish, people that return from the dead and a monk dislocated in time. But the scariest of if all? Ghost monkeys with shining red eyes in the forest...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Only in Brazil

Two iguanas were found by the Brazilian post office when a worker was scanning a box for express delivery. The reptiles were wrapped up in paper and immobilized by tape.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dzi Croquettes

The Brazilian Film Festival of Toronto ended on a high note: the screening of phenomenal documentary Dzi Croquettes.

The Croquettes were a troupe of 13 actors and dancers who put on shows in Rio in the 70s and in their unforgettable performances, embodied a sexual and behavioral revolution taking place in Brazil at the time, all in the middle of a military dictatorship.

The movie is filled with priceless footage of these amazing people who aimed to be neither men nor women, while playing both. Their avant-guarde performances left a deep impression on artists who came after them, both in Brazil and abroad. Liza Minelli was so enthralled that she hung out with them when in Brazil and later she gave them their big break in Paris, when the press was ignoring them until she invited all her friends to go see their show.

Most amazingly, Josephine Baker also fell in love with them and asked that after she died, she wanted their show to take her spot at the Théâtre Bobino. Not too long after that, La Baker died on stage and her wish was honored.

Unfortunately, the Dzi Croquettes' influence and legacy is not well-known in Brazil outside the artistic demi-monde. Hopefully this documentary will change that and reinstate these pioneers in the Brazilian culture constellation where they belong.

My new favorite image

A panoramic view of Dundas Square in Toronto, by Sam Javanrouh.

Horse Meat Disco

The guys from Horse Meat Disco, the London disco party, were in Toronto Friday night with their blend of bear disco house. They just released their new mix album and, just like their live set, it’s full of classics and underground hidden gems.

These guys take their disco seriously and don’t mess around. But how to go wrong with a set containing “I Feel Love,” “Deeper and Deeper,” Funkytown” and (one of my all-time favorites) “Use It Up And Wear It Out.”

Miss Margot opened for them with a solid-gold disco set and flawless makeup. She plays Monday nights at Sweaty Betty’s.

My new favorite image

"Maurizio Cattelan's 'middle finger' arrived today in Milan's Piazza Affari, in front of the Italian stock exchange building. The public monument was donated to Milan but immediately refused by the city's administrators. It will be on view for only 10 days."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Only in Brazil

An 18-year-old died electrocuted after leaning on a traffic post on the street. The police didn’t help him after he collapsed and he died while waiting for a doctor at the emergency room.


The 4th Brazilian Film Festival of Toronto kicked off last night with the biopic of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. The movie was directed by Fábio Barreto (who was in a coma earlier this year due to a car accident and had his skull's left side stored in his ribs) and is based on a book that follows Lula's trajectory from 1945 to 1980. It is one of the most expensive Brazilian movies ever made.

Even though newcomer Rui Ricardo Dias is excellent as Lula through the ages (minus the lisp), the movie really belongs to Gloria Pires, who does a great job as Lula’s beloved mother, Dona Lindu.

Little Lula (Felipe Falanga) and mother.

Despite it’s abrupt ending, the movie is captivating. At its heart, it's a story about the universally beloved underdog, a man from the people who, against enormous odds, becomes president of a nation. The movie doesn’t smack as much of propaganda as it does of historic officialism. It’s a little too didactic and does portray Lula as a flawless and charismatic hero.

Ironically, Lula, The Son Of Brazil was also chosen yesterday to be Brazil’s representative for the Oscars in 2011 and the choice has been criticized as being blatantly political. The selection is made, after all, by the Ministry of Culture...

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The St. Louis Arch grounds are getting a facelift. The winner of the design competition to reinvent the area around the monument has been chosen: landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates. Their design is based on ecological urbanism concepts and envisions "a new range of more intimate experiences, based primarily in landscape."

Their plan includes a cobblestone plaza on the Mississippi riverfront, an amphitheater, a bird sanctuary and a lid over Instate 70, a long overdue development in the area. Completion for the project should coincide with the Arch's 50th anniversary in October 2015.

MVVA's wasn't the most exciting design, though. That was from the Behnisch Team, who had some quite futuristic ideas -- maybe a little too hard to implement.

MVVA is also the firm working on the redevelopment of the Lower Don Lands area in Toronto. The New York firm specializes in reconstructing urban landscapes, and their design for the Don River Park "will transform an abandoned post-industrial site into a dynamic, year-round, re-naturalized public park." Groundbreaking for the Don River Park happened on September 8. The park is expected to open in late 2011 or early 2012.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My new favorite image

Lady Bunny by Mario Testino for V Magazine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


And speaking of animation, here's some incredible "micro stop motion" directed by Sumo Science, sponsored by Wallace and Gromit's Aardman. All shot with a camera phone. (Thanks, Jeff!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Some really cool typographic animation for a cool song by Citizen Cope.

Graphic Images

Three current exhibits in Toronto display an interesting array of graphics going from the entertaining, to the ecological and the philosophical.

Plakat is an exhibit of Polish movie posters, a tradition going as far back as 1957, when Poland was part of the communist bloc and the imagery of the movies of the world got reinterpreted by Polish graphic artists.

The Lost Honor of Katerina Blum
The Birds
Hard Day's Night

Apocalypse Now

Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is premiering a series of aerial photographs he took of the BP oil spill. The images are as shocking as they are incredibly beautiful. Burtynsky seems to be on a quest to find transcendence in our ugly human landscapes.

Gilbert Garcin is an 81-year-old former lamp maker in Marseille who started his photography career in his 60s. His black-and-white photocollages seem simple (there are no Photoshop tricks here, folks -- Mr. G. is old school), but they carry a lot of emotional impact. He usually casts himself and his wife as subjects of his pictures.

Speaking of photocollage, here’s a cool one by local artist Jennifer Murphy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stereo Love

Every once in a while there comes a track that captures the zeitgeist and keeps spreading in the collective pop consciousness like an electronic pulse. Stereo Love – what a great name – is one of those songs. In 2009, Romanian musician Edward Maya released the track with vocals by Russian singer Vika Jigulina. The track exploded in Europe and reached top positions in the charts across the continent.

What really makes the track, of course, is the accordion part. That bit was taken from Bayatılar, an Azerbaijani song by Eldar Mansurov, who cried “plagiarism!” and ended listed as co-author of the international hit.

But this is not the end of this multi-cultural track's path. Stereo Love has just been released by Canadian singer Mia Martina in collaboration with Edward Maya. The Canadian version sounds slightly different from the original, but not by much… The video, shot in Toronto, makes the city look very cool. How did they do that?

(Here it goes, Ash.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

The results of this year's competition organized by the Royal Observatory of Greenwich brought some great images of the sky from differents parts of the planet.
This perfect ring in the sky is an annular eclipse. Photo by Dhruv Paranjpye, 14, from India.

Aurora borealis, seen outside Yellowknife in the Northern Territories by Canadian Dave Brosha.

The solstice full moon over the temple of Poseidon, south of Athens. By Anthony Aylomamitis, Greece.

This year's grand winner was this picture by American photographer Tom Lowe, a view of the Milky Way from the Sierra Nevada, framed by a bristlecone pine.

And a simple, total eclipse by Greek photographer Anthony Aylomamitis in Siberia.

Sweet Brazil

A new survey says Brazilians are 69% more likely to have sweets instead of fruit (or nothing) for dessert. Nine percent declared they eat dessert because "it's part of our culture." My sweet tooth has been explained.
According to the survey, the champions of Brazilian desserts are:
#1 - Flan (Pudim)
#2 - Dulce de leche (Doce de leite)
(Winner in Minas Gerais)
#3 - Pie (Torta)
Despite its image of being a country of beach bodies, almost half of Brazilians are overweight and almost 15% are obese.