Midweek Music Moment: Alone in Kyoto

This stunner ‘Alone in Kyoto’ from French duo Air actually stopped me in my tracks last week.

Originally from their 2004 album ‘Talkie Walkie’, the song was also featured on the 2003 ‘Lost in Translation’ movie soundtrack.

 

 

Although Air had been collaborating with various artists throughout the 1990s, I discovered them when they released their first album ‘Moon Safari’ in 1998.

The first single off it ‘Sexy Boy’ became a huge hit and catapulted them to international acclaim. It’s just as good today as it was then!

 

 

Although they haven’t produced a new studio album since 2007, their latest album ‘Twentyears’ in 2016 was a 3-disc compilation of their previous works as well as their mixes of other artists works.

 

Air was formed in by Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin, they continue to tour and create compilation albums as well as solo works.

 

Also known for a longtime collaboration with movie maker, Sofia Coppola, they composed ‘The Virgin Suicides’ movie score in 1999, and this track ‘Playground Love’ is one of their best. (You’ll also note a very young (and hairy) Josh Hartnett!)

 

 

Movie review: San Andreas

‘San Andreas’ is a 2015 disaster film that centres on a devastating earthquake to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

And as far as disaster films go, this one’s a crowd pleaser with it’s big budget, non-stop action, and reasonably credible CGI scenes of mass destruction.

 

Aliens, fire, king kong, earthquake, dinosaurs, tsunami: if it’s a disaster film in San Francisco – you know ‘the bridge’ is going to get it.

 

The best part of the movie is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who features as good guy, helicopter dude – and puts in a solid performance despite the severely limited script.

 

Carla Gugino plays the ex-not-ex-wife (she seems confused on that one) and proves to have some action movie grit.

 

Paul Giamatti plays the Jeff-Goldblum-I-saw-it-coming seismologist with conviction and just the right dose of panic.

 

Alexandra Dadarrio plays their tough, survivalist daughter who teams up with British tourist, Hugo Johnstone-Burt (Aussie actually), to traverse some of the on-the-ground havoc – as well as some of the sappiest scenes of the film.

 

The highest moneymaker of Warner Bros in 2015, this is a fun piece of predictable movie drivel to enjoy at the end of a long day.

Available on Netflix and you can check out the official trailer here:

 

Philosophy Vlog: Habits

Some thoughts on habits and how making a small change can have far-reaching benefits!

 

Movie Review: Source Code

‘Source Code’ is a 2011 science fiction mystery thriller.

Although the time-travel science doesn’t add up (and to it’s credit – doesn’t even try to), the story is nonetheless engaging as Colter Stevens (in an excellent performance from Jake Gyllenhaal) relives the same 8 minutes over and over trying to produce a different outcome.

 

The viewer travels the film’s journey through Colter’s eyes – with the same confusion and disorientation as the mystery unwinds.

 

In a Groundhog Day-like role, Michelle Monaghan plays the innocent participant to Colter’s growing awareness.

 

Vera Farmiga is Colter’s only contact with information and answers. She’s almost robotic-like in her efficiency, but softens as her relationship with Colter develops.

 

Directed by Duncan Jones (Director of one of my Top 5 science fiction movies of all time, ‘Moon’), this is another thoughtful science fiction with a dark twist.

 

Not only famous for his films, Duncan Jones is also the son of David and Angie Bowie.

 

I highly recommend for those who enjoy a science-fiction movie that’s big on plot with some complex concepts that are not spelled out.

Available on Netflix and check out the official trailer here:

 

Philosophy Friday: Dirty Chocolate

You vote with your dollars: why grabbing that chocolate bar at the supermarket probably isn’t what you thought it was!

 

Midweek Music Moment: Joe Cocker

One of the most beautiful ballads to come out of the 1960s, ‘Something’ was written by George Harrison and released on The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ album.

 

Released in 1969, ‘Abbey Road’ was the 11th studio album for The Beatles: it was also the last album in which all 4 Beatles participated.

 

A huge hit, the song has been recorded by over 150 artists including Elvis Presley, Shirley Bassey, Frank Sinatra, Eric Clapton, James Brown and Neil Diamond (to name just a few).

Although Harrison’s favourite version was James Brown’s, mine is Joe Cocker’s.

One of the greatest soul singers to come out of the UK, today’s Midweek Music Moment is Joe Cocker’s 1969 ‘Something’.

 

 

In 1969, Joe Cocker was 25 years old and his career was finally taking off after great success with his groundbreaking recording of the Beatles ‘A little help from my friends’.

1969 was a standout year for Cocker, as well as releasing his debut album (‘With a little help from my friends’) that same year, he was getting ready to perform at Woodstock and also release a second album (‘Joe Cocker!’) later that year.

Here’s his 1969 Woodstock performance of ‘With a little help from my friends’.

 

Movie Review: The Lost City of Z

‘The Lost City of Z’ is a 2016 adventure epic that follows one man’s lifelong quest to find a lost city in the Amazon.

It tells the true story of British soldier, Percy Fawcett (played with a stiff upperlip by Charlie Hunnam), who sets out in the early 1900s – 1920s to map and explore some of the wildest jungle on the planet.

 

The role of Percy Fawcett was originally slated for Brad Pitt, then Benedict Cumberbatch before finally resting with Hunnam. That’s Robert Pattinson on the left as his main surveyor, Henry Costin.

 

Sienna Miller is a stand out as Fawcett’s feisty, independent wife – who supports her husband to follow his dreams oftentimes at great cost to herself.

 

Written and Directed by James Gray (‘Little Odessa’, ‘We Own the Night’: but this is my first film of his), this stirring movie has underbelly themes of escaping your background and rising above overwhelming odds.

 

Directed with a steady, even-keeled approach, it takes a few minutes into the movie to become fully absorbed with what’s going on. But once I was in… I was hooked.

 

Visually superb, the super-lush cinematography (shot in 35mm) creates a magical, intoxicating environment – which has certainly further fuelled my longtime fascination with the Amazon.

With such powerful visuals, this is definitely a big screen film! (and still playing second run cinemas here in Calgary).

Check out the official trailer here:

 

Philosophy Vlog: Applying the 80/20 Rule

Understanding that most things in life are not distributed evenly and having realistic expectations!

 

Midweek Music Moment: Nils Frahm ‘Says’

Nils Frahm is a German pianist and composer known for his ambient combinations of classical and electronic music. (http://www.nilsfrahm.com)

 

Frahm’s work mixes a range of pianos (upright, grand), synthesisers (Moog, Roland) and drum machines – and he is known for his use of vintage equipment.

 

Although an avid collaborator, today’s Midweek Music Moment is this track, ‘Says’ from his 2013 solo album, ‘Spaces’.

It starts out gently and then slowly builds in intensity – so make sure you give it the whole 8 minutes to get the full effect.

 

 

If you would prefer something a little shorter and simpler (with stunning visuals), check out ‘Re’ from his 2012 album, ‘Screws’.

 

 

And lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his latest 2016 album, ‘Solo’.

The album was recorded on the M370, the world’s largest piano, built by the visionary piano maker David Klavins in 1987.

 

Movie Review: Pelé: Birth of a Legend

‘Pelé: Birth of a Legend’ is a 2016 biopic about the early days of Brazilian soccer legend, Edson Arantes de Nascimento (aka Pelé).

 

That's Pelé in the middle (looking great for 75) with the two young actors that play him during the film.

That’s Pelé in the middle (looking great for 75!) with the two young actors that play him during the film.

 

Although somewhat predictable with it’s rags to riches storyline, nonetheless this film is a feel good movie with an uplifting theme of finding your voice and embracing who you are.

Chronicling Pelé’s slum childhood through to his 17 year old World Cup fame of 1958, Pelé unknowingly enters a class war when he shows up on the soccer scene with his local ‘ginga’ style – the opposite of ‘playing like the Europeans’ which the Brazilian team was under great pressure to conform to.

 

Pelé's famous 'bicycle kick'!

Pelé reminds his downtrodden Brazilian teammates of the strength of their ‘ginga’ style and wows the world with his now famous ‘bicycle kick’. 

 

Although a little Hollywood-ised (I would have preferred english subtitles and more era-culturally-appropriate music), this is an interesting and heart-felt film for those who enjoy soccer, biographies or even a peek into Brazilian life in the 1950s.

 

The childhood experiences with his friends in the slums were some of my favourite scenes.

The childhood experiences with his friends in the slums were some of my favourite scenes.

 

Available on Netflix and you can check out the official trailer here: