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Game of Empires – The Best TV Series of 2011

This was not an easy year for those who have not seen ’80s Italian Mafia series La Piovra. Even if we like it or not, the year’s most interesting moments in television were those related to the death of several major characters. We will not deliver you too many spoilers, but you will know what we are talking about when we tell you the name of the series: Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, and least but not last Two and A Half Men, the Charlie Sheen version. Almost all the shows killed important characters in the last episode of the season. The prize for originality goes to Fringe, for a true revelation: they didn’t simply killed one of the main characters, they completely deleted him from the history! If that’s not cool, than what is?
Without many warnings about what you can see in the shows, here are the trailers and some words about the best of them.
Game of Thrones – This is the equivalent of The Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter movies for television. The most surprising aspect is that we don’t notice a big difference in production values. If that’s not enough to make you interested, let us add some other details: they kill what appeared a major character by the end of this first season, they present a lot of sex scenes with actresses like Lena Headey (known from 300 and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) or Emilia Clarke, and they will have to do at least 7 season to show us the whole story from the books by George R.R. Martin, and the most impressive battles are yet to come.

Boardwalk Empire – When Martin Scorsese directs the first episode from a series created by a Sopranos alumni you know you’re in for a feast. And what a feast this is! Simply put, the best television show ever. Watching Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano and Mayer Lansky’s evolution is a dream come true. For all of those still fascinated with the bootleggers era, Prohibition, gambling, risky businesses, crime, mafia, and the history of immigration this is a must watch. Did I mentioned Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson? Well that’s just part of the show that’s every bit as impressive as Rome.

Breaking Bad – Considered to be the best TV show today. Well this is a position for series like Twin Peaks, The X Files, Sopranos, Lost, Prison Break. Need we say more?

Borgia – This is not the Showtime – Jeremy Irons version, but the Canal + version with unknown cast done by some of the producers of Rome. Probably the best European show of the last years. Too bad we have to watch two identical shows. It’s just the POV that is different between the two productions.

Fringe - Best season finale of the year. They simply erase a character from history.

The Big Bang Theory – Best geek comedy. This year Johnny Galecki gets the Golden Globe nomination he deserves.

Californication – Our favorite writer. We can’t write about him. You just have to watch it. Here is the trailer for the next season.

Modern Family - Ed O’Neill lives the life he just dreamed about when playing Al Bundy. Now he has the wife that’s 20 years younger and all the money he needs. Enough gags to get lots of awards.

Episodes - Matt LeBlanc’s first serious role after Joey from Friends and Joey Tribbiani. It is a short show, but one that will make you laugh a lot.

How I Met Your Mother – It’s like a soap, but addiction it’s hard to cure.

We also had to watch the last hours of some of our favorite shows, so R.I.P. Entourage.

December 18, 2011 Permalink

Comics and Spielberg [Best Movies of 2011]

This is the third article in the series about the best movies of 2011.
The time when Jack Kirby or Stan Lee were kings of the comics is gone, but their legacy will always be present on our screens. The reason is simple: as long as the studios will have the rights to their characters they will need to make movies otherwise they will loose their rights. This is why we will always have Batman or Hulk reboots.
Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby was given a new life with the help of Kenneth Branaugh, famous for the huge number of Shakespeare adaptation. The Norse god is the hero of the best comics adaptation of the year. The cast was almost perfect (Chris Hemsworth as Thors, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Natalie Portman as Thor’s love interest, and so on) and the 3D spectacular (not Hugo level, but still convincing). The 3D fights have been a delight. The only minus comes from the love story, but it’s hard to present everything in 2 hours and still be convincing. Choosing an almost unknown actor for this part was a trick that worked. We are eagerly waiting for The Avengers as Loki, Thor’s evil brother will be back on top form.

Jack Kirby’s other famous creation, Captain America shined only because of special effects and some veteran actors like Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones, while X-Men: First Class will be remembered primarily because it was one of the 4 Michael Fassbender movies that were launched this year.
The Adventures of TinTin: The Secret of The Unicorn is another 3D marvel. The Herge comics adapted by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are the first serious attempt at a 3D motion-capture done by 2 great directors/producers. The next movie in the series will likely be directed by Peter Jackson. Herge himself appointed Spielberg to adapt his series after The Raiders of The Lost Ark was compared to his books. He made no mistake, but of course given the different medium, Tintin is not exactly the one from the comic books. The adaptation is not a page to page translation like the French movies that feature another similar hero: Corto Maltese (I really want to see a Corto Maltese movie done by Spielberg, but this is unlikely to happen). No spoilers here! It’s best to see it as it is! Daniel Craig steals the movie.

We can not say anything about War Hero yet, since we haven’t seen it (will be launched by Christmas), but the trailer looks great. It’s definitely one of the best movies of the year. Might even steal the cinematography prize from Hugo, even tough it’s unlikely.

Since we mentioned Spielberg you should also see another movie he produced: Super 8. Maybe J.J. Abrams ruined the ending by doing it an E.T. homage, but the movie is still easily one of the top 20 movies done this year. No spoilers on this one, as it really is best to see it when you don’t know what happens.

I know apparently you don’t see any connection between the movies that we mentioned except for the fact that some of them are based on comics, and the other ones have something to do with Spielberg, but Spielberg and comics always wanted to bring to light the best of us. And both try to speak to all audiences, from 5 to 500 years.

December 7, 2011 Permalink

We’ll Always Have Paris, City of Lights [Best Movies of 2011]

This is the second article in the series about the best movies of 2011.
We are not talking about Casablanca here, but about two special movies which definitely explain cinematographer’s fascination for the City of Lights. The quality of light was one of the reasons why Hollywood became the top spot in this industry. Anyone who read a book about the beginnings of this city knows that. It wasn’t about the gold rush, but about the quality of light. And what other city in the world could give us magnificent light at any given hour if not Paris? The fact that Woody Allen’s career was rebooted in the moment he escaped from New York (remember Match Point) is the main reason why the comedian started to travel around the globe for his next movies. Midnight in Paris is not just another Woody Allen movie set in another foreign city, but probably his best movie since Match Point, if not ever, because what he achieves here is more than a declaration of love for this city, his culture and being an expat in the ’20s in the City of Lights. It is quite possibly his best looking movie and contains what I call A Poetry of Light, the reason why movies have always been successful. Because what else are movies if not a poetry of light? Or a poetry of dark (for the horror movies or thrillers)? The dynamic shadows, the lights, the different angles from which you see the buildings, the movements, and many many other small ingredients like these that help recreate specific scenes and help you walk through that magic spaces are the ones that transform this movie into our grandmother’s cake, the best cake we ever tasted. It’s not Owen Wilson or Rachel McAdams that are worth watching in this movie, but the city itself and those shadows and lights that play over it. Midnight in Paris should at least take the prize for Cinematography if not for the Best Picture.

Now if we wouldn’t have had the other big movie set in Paris, I would have said that Midnight in Paris was the best yet, but a 3D movie coming from Scorsese can not go unnoticed. So here it is: Hugo. Like Allen, Scorsese needs no introduction. We have all seen at least The Departed and GoodFellas, if not Raging Bull or Mean Streets. When he decided to make Hugo, he didn’t do it to play with 3D, but to pay an homage to one of the first great director this art ever had (George Melies) and also because he is deeply involved in the restoration of old movies. He pushes the art further than ever before and gives us quite possibly the first 3D masterpiece. It’s bittersweet knowing that it took precisely 58 years for this to happen (believe it or not, the first 3D movie appeared in 1953!), but in the end it had to happen. If you liked movies like Harry Potter or The Bicenntenial Man, than this movie is definitely for you. Based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick (yes! the nephew of that great producer), the movie tells the story of an orphan who discovers cinema and Melies automata and movies (we don’t want to spoil anything :) – this is simply a movie you have to see, if for nothing else than at least for the fact that is the first who truly succeeds into adding that third dimension to cinema). I would say Best Picture, but there are still contenders like War Horse that haven’t been launched.

While it’s not connected with Paris, The Artist is a silent movie (yes! silent movie!) done by a French director (Michel Hazanavicius) with a French star (Jean Dujardin). It’s not about Paris, but it is also about the lost art of black and white silent movie making where everything had to be transmitted through images because the titles might have been annoying. It was received very well in Cannes and it already has Oscar buzz. In fact because of this, we can almost assume this will be the year in which the Academy will offer the Best Picture Award as an homage to the grandmasters of the past.

Since the object of desire for New Yorkers seems to be Paris this year, we should mention that the best movie about New York is based on a Phillip K. Dick story and is called The Adjustment Bureau. We will not ruin you the pleasure to watch the best seduction scene of the year, and an unlikely but extremely good thriller.

So Paris is not just the City of Lights, but also the Muse for two of the most technical directors living today (I know you wouldn’t think about Allen this way, but the guy has done virtually tens of movies based on the same script – nevrotic Jew writer who lives in New York and has problems with women – until he diversified in the last ten years). Must be something with the light. It’s definitely the light. Can’t be something else. We are talking about real cinema here. And from the Lumiere brothers and Melies until today’s Allen or Scorsese, we can sincerely say that thanks to the cinema we’all always have Paris.

December 4, 2011 Permalink

Drive at the Movies [Best Movies of 2011]

This is the first in a series about the best movies of 2011.
This is not the best years at the movies, but even so it has his highlights. Obviously one of the trends worth exploring was driving. Unfortunately no 3D racing movie won our hearts and there was no Need for Speed movie yet, but that’s not a problem. The Fast and Furios franchise continues. As we remember it even delivered its best episode since the first and the first blockbuster of this summer (not that it was a great summer, but still). For a 10-year old franchise it’s quite an achievement. Many franchises die at their 2nd or 3rd trial. Not in this case. Which is nothing short of a surprise since the original was a sort of remake of the Keanu Reeves / Patrick Swayze vehicle: Point Break, by Kathryn Bigelow (the first woman to take a Best Director award). The addition of The Rock to a star crowded cast that already has Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Gal Gadot and others, transformed this into the next The Expendables (even more so if we have Michelle Rodriguez back and Jason Statham on board in the next movie), but unlike that movie it was loaded with lots of humor. It was maybe the best of the series because it moved from fast cars to heist movies, and we always adore the likes of Ocean’s Eleven and The Italian Job. Fast Five is definitely one of the best movies of 2011, and probably the only action movie that deserves to be on the list of the best movies.

If we included Fast Five on the list it was only for its action packed scenes. Another serious movie delivered the art. Drive, the Ryan Gosling / Carey Mulligan vehicle presented us with an almost Clint Eastwood Man with No Name character, that rarely speaks and drives like a mad man. It just happens that the look of the movie is somewhere between Stanley Kubrick and Michael Mann, which is enough to add it to this list. It reminds us of the L.A. from Collateral. The city is a silent character, just like the driver. And if we add some unfinished business with the mob and some scenes that pay an homage to the ’70s and the ’80s unfinished mafia business movies, we got ourselves with a recipe for something worth watching. You might not like it, but the visuals are between the best ones we have seen this year. We already mentioned Kubrick. That should be enough. Go see it! Gosling might get an Academy Award nomination for his part.

Cars 2 is not as funny as the first part, but it is a Pixar movie, so we will add it to this list since it is one of the best driving movies of the year. It also leads us to the next set of movies. Can you guess what they contain?

December 3, 2011 Permalink

How to become a Millionaire.

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A man walked into a bank in New York City one day and asked for the loan officer.

He told the loan officer that he was going to Philippines on business for two weeks and needed to borrow $5,000. The bank officer told him that the bank would need some form of security for the loan.

Then the man handed over the keys to a new Ferrari parked on the street in front of the bank. He produced the title and everything checked out The loan officer agreed to accept the car as collateral for the loan.The bank’s president and its officers all enjoyed a good laugh at the guy for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral against a $5,000 loan.

An employee of the bank then drove the Ferrari into the bank’s underground garage and parked it there.Two weeks later, the guy returned, repaid the $5,000 and the interest, which came to $15.41.

The loan officer said, “Sir, we are very happy to have had and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multi millionaire. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow “$5,000″.

The millionaire replied: “Where else in New York City can I park my car for $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return”

Well thats how the rich stay rich, they know a lot more about Money Management. All the millionaires I have met in my life were penny wise. Look after your cents and the Dollars will look after themselves.

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Before opting to pay online, one should have his or her credit report in black and white. Often the fact that your credit card is offering you home insurance or term life insurance remains unknown to the consumer, hence the numerous applications for various loans.

August 12, 2011 Permalink

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By the time there was no internet …

July 18, 2011 Permalink

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