segunda-feira, setembro 24, 2012

Cambridge Film Festival 2012 - 10 days, 9 films!

 Today was the last day of the Cambridge Film Festival 2012. Last year Mariana and I went to watch six films, this year we got a bit carried away and chose 10, but ended up only watching 9. It was really great and I'm already looking forward to next year's.

Here are my short reviews of what we have watched this time:
Spoilers alert: These might contain some spoilers!!
  •  Come as you are: A Belgian tragic-comedy about three guys with different limiting diseases that decide to go to Spain to a brothel that specialises in clients with handicaps. This was one of the best films that I watched in the Festival. The film manages to switch between funny to really dramatic scenes with an amazing flow. One of the things that I liked the most was the way they showed these three guys, without falling into a 'feel pity because they have a tough life' type of portrait. Obviously they have a tough life, with many challenges that we can only start to imagine, but they are people like everyone who is healthy. I strongly advise everyone to watch it.
  • Meet the Fokkens: This was the first documentary that we watched in this edition of the Festival. It tells the story of two twin sisters who have worked for over fifty years in Amsterdam's Red Light District. It was the documentary that I liked the least. I thought it was too shallow, focusing solely in the two sisters and their life as prostitutes, without diving into their perception of social changes in the fifty years that they've worked there, not even changes of mentality and/or law in regards to prostitution. It was somewhat entertaining, as it's quite an unusual story, but overall it was disappointing.
  • Camp 14: Total Control Zone: The second documentary that we watched tells the story of a North Korean who was born in a labour camp in North Korea, and who escaped from the camp and fled to South Korea. It is a very powerful documentary, depicting (through very nice animations) a terrifying reality. The rules of the camp (do anything against the rules and your punishment is to be shot), the daily life (prisoners eat the same stuff every day at every meal), the way prisoners are controlled and are formatted to think (the guy in the centre of the story tells one of the guards that his mother and his brother are planning to escape, which results in they being sentenced to death. Something that he does not regret at all), all of that makes you shiver. Some ex-guards of other labour camps are also interviewed for the documentary and that makes it even stronger. Even the conclusion made by the central "character" in the end is terrifying, but understandable in the context. He dreams of going back to North Korea, as he feels that life is too complicated and too full of problems in South Korea. It's really worth to see it, though the pace of the documentary is a bit slow at times.
  • The Intouchables:This French film was really nice to watch. It tells the story of a wealthy quadriplegic who is looking for live-in carer, and finds one in an unlikely person, a young and poor man from the ghettos. The film shows how their work relationship evolves into a really nice friendship. Totally worth watching... and to make it even nicer, it's based in a true story.
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi: This was definitely the best documentary that we watched in the Film Festival this year. Telling the story of Jiro a sushi chef and his restaurant. The only restaurant in the world that is located in an underground station, to be awarded three michelin stars, and with Jiro being the oldest chef (he was 85 at the time of shooting) still working in a three stars restaurant. The documentary guides us into Jiro's restaurant, Jiro's life, the art of preparing sushi and much more. It has so much depth and information, that it is really a must see. But be careful, 'cause when I left the cinema I was craving for sushi really badly! Oh and if you ever go to Tokyo don't forget to stop by Jiro's restaurant... just remember that you have to book it two months before.
  • Sleep Tight: Recommended by a friend of mine (PedroVB), this Spanish thriller proved to be one of the best films that we watched. Every time I watch a Spanish film I'm always struck with the quality of Spanish cinema. This film is not an exception. The story is really powerful and even scarier. A concierge who claims to not be able to feel any happiness, seems to live with only one goal in life, to make everyone feel as miserable as he is. The things he does to accomplish this are very disturbing, so much that at some point I thought that I would have trouble sleeping in the following days. Funny enough after the film ended I felt more like laughing at the evilness of the guy... I hope that there aren't people as sick as this guy, or at least that I never meet them. I do recommend it! Thanks Pedro!
  • Liberal Arts: When I watched the trailer of this film I thought that it was just going to be another romantic comedy. I was also curious to see how would Josh Radnor (who plays Ted Mosby in the tv series "How I met your mother") do in this film (that he not only acts in, but also directed and produced), would I be able to see more than Ted Mosby? Truth is that I was very surprised with the ending of the film and though sometimes Ted Mosby did come to my mind, there are some noticeable differences between him and Jesse Fisher, the character Josh plays in this film. In the end I think that I did enjoy the film, though as I was expecting a traditional romantic comedy, I was kind of disappointed... but I guess that's not the film's fault. I think it is worth watching.
  • A Trip to the Moon (and Le voyage extraordinaire): Everyone who has watched Martin Scorcese's 'Hugo', has heard of Georges Méliès and his film "Trip to the moon". This time at the Cambridge Film Festival they showed an original hand painted version which was believed to be completely lost, but that has been found in Spain 8 to 10 years ago, and which has now been restored. It was quite amazing to watch something that was filmed 110 years ago, when the cinema had just been born and was still giving its first steps. After the film they also showed the documentary 'Le voyage extraordinaire', which tells the story of Georges Méliès and the process of restoring his "Trip to the Moon". It was really nice to see the passion shown by the people that restored it. If you love cinema, you should definitely watch both of them!
And this is what I thought about the films that we watched. Hope you had the patience to read some of it... and if not, hope you still have the chance to watch some of them!

I look forward to next year's edition!

PS: On a completely unrelated note I've noticed that I tend to write less and less (oh the surprise:-o), and was wondering if it's just because I'm lazy or if it is because I'm lazy and I have to write in English... so I wanted to ask if there is any non Portuguese speaker reading my blog regularly... if not, I might just revert to writing in Portuguese. :) Please let me know! ;)

sábado, junho 16, 2012

Shopping for Shoes

I had just finished playing football, and didn't really feel like going home and back to the city centre... So I thought.. What the hell, I'll go straight to the shops! :)

quinta-feira, maio 17, 2012

Are you looking for a Job? We are hiring! # Application period now closed!

We at UNEP-WCMC are hiring for various positions, but I would like to share the adverts for Informatics positions. So if you want to work with us, the creators of Protected Planet and other cool applications take a look at the following vacancies:

- Ruby on Rails Developer
- Front-end Developer
- Geospatial Developer
- Product Manager

   - Just send in an application!
Not interested?
   - Share with your contacts anyway! =)
Any questions?
   - Feel free to use the comments box in this post!

Thank you for reading! :)

And if you wondering who are we, take a look at this presentation:

#Quick guide to the presentation:
- There are 7billion people in the world, there were 5billion in 1985, in 2020 there will be an estimated 5billion people with access to the internet. In the past 6 months we had 1million visits to our applications. This shows that there's a world of opportunities for us. And we as the Informatics Unit of UNEP-WCMC are here to embrace those opportunities and help the Centre (UNEP-WCMC) show its outputs to the world, with exciting new applications. We have a fantastic team of 8 people, and we are hiring! I think that's it. =)

segunda-feira, maio 07, 2012

Stacey Kent in Cambridge, UK

Yesterday I went to listen to Stacey Kent in the Cambridge Arts Theatre, with Mariana and some friends.
I didn't really know Stacey's music before buying the tickets and I knew very little before the concert. When we were buying the tickets Mariana told me that she sang Jazz and Bossa Nova and she showed me some songs, it seemed nice so I agreed to go.
Now, after the concert, I'm really happy that I did so.

It was a really nice evening with great music, sang in English, French and a song in Portuguese... that was dedicated to us! =)

During the show's intermission Stacey's husband (, producer, saxophonist, etc.) was selling some CDs and we went to ask about the prices. During that brief chat he asked us where we were from and we said Portugal. After that he started speaking in Portuguese and he said that Stacey would be very happy to speak with us after the show.
When we got back to the show she sang in Portuguese (a song named 'Corcovado') and noted that she knew that there were some portuguese speaking people in the room. It was really cool. =D

After the show we had the chance to speak with her (in Portuguese!) and she was really nice. She praised Portugal, the portuguese language and she even said that she'd love to live in Lisboa with her husband. It was a really interesting chat.

I had loved the concert, but after that I became a true fan! :) She said that she'd be doing four shows in Portugal in the near future (Lisboa, Castelo Branco, Leiria, and Torres Novas), so if you have the chance, go and listen! It's really worth it! And next year she'll probably come back to Cambridge and she said she'll sing a song in Portuguese named 'Comboio' (Train), that they are preparing with a Portuguese poet named António Ladeira, that was also their portuguese teacher.
That should be cool!


quarta-feira, janeiro 11, 2012

Me on the Radio (Antena 1 in PT)

A few weeks ago Fernando Pires, a friend of mine from my Faculty, asked me if I would be interested in participate in a small Radio Show called "Portuguese in the World" (Portugueses no Mundo). I said yes and he sent my contact details to the journalist. Last week the journalist contact me asking for some more information and after a short talk (3-5minutes) on the phone we scheduled it for the past Friday, 6th of January at 7h25 in the morning... Quite early, no, but the talk was going to be live so it had to be at the time of the show. It was a really nice experience and I'm happy that I did it. I was a bit nervous at first, but I think I didn't do too bad. =) The only "bad" thing was that this happened at 7h25 in the morning, so not many people that I know listened to it live, still there were a few people that were surprised to listen to my voice in the radio. And it was in Antena 1, a national Radio Station which has a market share of 5% (that's around 400k listeners :-o). If you didn't have the chance to listen to my participation you can do it through this link: =) (you might not understand anything if you don't understand Portuguese... =P) You can also check the show's webpage and the podcast, if you want to listen to other editions. =) Hope you enjoy it! =)