Sunday, February 8, 2015

2015 Oscar Nominated Film Review

So.. I know I am in the middle of telling of my trip to Salvador but since the Oscars are right around the corner this post is time sensitive so I will sneak it in here.  Hope you enjoy. Comment and let me now your thoughts.
OK.. I have officially finished watching all of the 2015 Oscar nominated movies. I must say that this is the first year that when the nominations were publicized I had not seen any of the movies. Before I spoil my review I will get right to it.
BOYHOOD.. The story of a boy growing up.  Just an ordinary boy with with a mom who attracts dead beat men and his sister.  It never got deeper then that and I never quite got a purpose for the movie.  I did find it interesting how the kid grew up in the movie almost as if they had been filming it for years but I did not even find the acting believable and .  I have no idea why this was nominated.

BIRDMAN. This was the first movie of the group I watch and again I have no idea how it got nominated.  Although the acting was good I actually never got into the movie, stopping it to go to sleep and reluctantly finishing it the next day.   I found it to be depressing and was not impressed with the story.  I don’t see a purpose to the film and I am left wondering if I missed something but I will not go back and put myself through it again to see if I did.

THE IMITATION GAME.. The third movie in the list I watched and after the first two I began wondering if something was wrong with me.  This movie was a little better as it was a good story and one worth telling.  However,  once again nothing about the knocked my socks off. I think the relationships in the movie were shallow and underdeveloped.  At times I found it slow and I just wanted it to end.. I never got into the movie 100%.

SELMA ..Finally,  I had heard some good things about this film and was excited to watch it as the first three I had not heard of prior to their nomination.  Maybe that is what was wrong?  Of course a good story about Dr Martin Luther King should be told over and over again.  But half way through I realized that I was not impressed with the acting and once again the story line did not grab my attention.  I guess in the end I compare it to 12 years a slave and for me it was so inferior to that movie.. again.. isn’t there anything else out there with some wow.
AMERICAN SNIPER. Of course only those who do not watch tv and have no internet have not heard of this film.  With so much posturing going on, I was anxious to see what it was all about.  In the end the movie was good, very patriotic I guess if you believe war is justified. Not making a comment on my commitment to that issue. I did not think it dove in deep enough to explore the moral struggle the sniper went through. The story toggled between his family and deployments and never really made me understand who he was.  I felt like it needed to tell more but I would also not be willing to sit through more. Again, another movie that I just did not see why it got an Oscar nod for best picture.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL..quirky and I expected it to be funny from the trailers I had seen.  The only suggestion I have about not really loving this move is that maybe I was not in the right mood.  I thought it was supposed to be funny and only a couple of time did I catch myself laughing out loud but I had done that in some of the previous movies.  I had a hard time following and maybe it was a little to a.d.d. for me.  The story was predictable and nothing real earth shattering.  

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING ,, again .. nice story.. I felt the main actor did a great job portraying Steven Hawking but again.. something was missing for me. Nothing about the story of the film wowed me.  It spent some time developing the relationship between his wife and his caretaker but then that just felt like it dropped into nothing.  Again,  maybe I have different expectations this year than previous years but the so many movies from previous years so outshine this one.  

WHIPLASH ..believable story.. again maybe I am just over all the story movies in the group when I saw this one as it was the last one I watched. I found it slow in spots and never really got involved in the story. I ended up turning it off late one night because I was tired and watched the rest the next day.  Previous years I would have never done with the other Oscar nominated films as I seemed to get involved and then would not have been able to sleep wondering what was going to happen next.  

In the end I am not sure it was worth my time to do my Oscar run this year.  I was not impressed with the movies the academy has put forward as contenders.   This past year there were movies like Big Eyes, Gone Girl, Into the Woods, The Hobbit, Hunger Games.. heck even Maze Runner had a better developed story then some of these films and they all kept my attention better.  Honestly,  I felt the movies I just listed  were more entertaining, better stories, and better movies than any of the films nominated.  I guess I am not a member of the academy for some reason.  
Comment and let me know what you think.. Did you see any of the movies?  Have a different perspective that I missed?  Have another movie you would have picked for a nomination?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Eco Tourism Part 1

So, we wake up in Seabra, have breakfast at the little hotel,  and we are on the road by 8:00.  Down the same tree lines road with pot holes and oversize trucks to maneuver.  As we drive along we get our first views of Chapada Diamantina National Park which our destination Lencious sit on the edge of.  A beautiful park approximately 15,000 square miles in size filled with natural beauty just waiting to explore.. OK... time to learn... Chapada means "a region of steep cliffs" in Brazilian Portuguese and soon we begin to see these cliffs  with plateaus above as we drive down into the valleys. Unfortunately on our journey we did not encounter any Diamantina which refers to diamonds found here in the mid 19th century.  
Around 8:30 we stop at an abandoned gas station next to Pai Inácio Hill.  1150 meters above sea level this massive rock structure protrudes high above the  forest-covered valley.  Folklore says it is named for Inacio,  a slave who fell in love with a might colonel's wife.  When the colonel found out about this love,  he contracted hit men to dispose of Inacio and they ended up chasing him through the forest until he was trapped on top of this rock formation.  Instead of coming down and being killed,  Inacio decided to jump using his lovers umbrella to pass by the hit men.  People say he was seen running through the valley after his great leap but he never came back for his love.  Well,  on today's journey we do not see Inacio, but we do see a peace bus parked at the
abandoned gas station and its inhabitants walking around enjoying the day.  They are traveling through Brazil and invite us to take photos,  We ask them about hiking up the Pai Inacio Hill and they inform us we just missed the driveway leading to the path going to top.  After a few photos of the landscape with and without the bus.  We hop back into the car and retrace our journey the 1/3 mile to the dirt path with a local vendor setting up shop at the point where it connects with the asphalt.  We don't get far up the little dirt road and we come to a closed gate.  The sign states the path is closed until 9:00 which is actually just right around the corner.  Do we wait or do we head out.  I guess the view above is simply spectacular, but
when we ask the vendor about details,  he states that you never know when they will come to unlock the gates.. It could be 9 or it could be 11,  you just never know.  We decide there are other things to see so we move on passing the idle bus once again.  In hind site, I wish we would have waited around a while.  I have seen photos of the view from the top and I think the day would have been perfect for a climb.  It is however, one of those things that cannot be changed now and I have added it to my must do next time list for this area.     

We arrive in Lencois (with an accent under the c and above the o . Len-soys..) and lodging is our first venture of the day, but before I write about this I will learn a little about this city of approximately 10,000 residence.  Referred to as the gateway to the Chapada Diamantina because of its location it was once known as the Capital of Diamonds.  As you can guess, this region was settled after the discovery of diamonds in the area.  People flocked to this small mining town in search of fortune.  Once a wealthy area,  the economy was stagnant for many years as the diamond boom ended and the soil around was not very rich.  Fortunately over the last several years,  eco-tourism has brought this area alive again as many visitors from all over the world come to explore the amazing waterfalls,  long winding trails, deep canyons, crystal blue water pools and complex of limestone caves.  Well,  back to our journey.  It seems when we travel we do not make advanced reservations and end up sleeping where we can find room. In Lencois we travel up the cobblestone streets where it dead ends into the Hotel de Lencois  We stop to take a look and
although we think it is not in our budget we decide to ask anyway.  As we wait for assistance I have to admit that I am hopeful it is something we can manage.  A beautiful pool, courtyard and dining area seem to complete the hotel overlooking the town.  To our surprise we hear about a wonderful eco room (ceiling fan - no air conditioning) which would fit the budget, but before we are able to book, they needs to see if the current guest who is supposed to check out today will be staying additional time or not.  It may be a while so we take the opportunity to look at a couple more hotels and then venture back as we find nothing else to our liking.   Excited about the possible room we make our way back only to be disappointed as the current guest has decided to stay.  Back on our quest,  we travel back down to the main market area where we saw a guide post for tours early and decide to stop.  Luiz inquires about cost and ends up booking a guide for the day.   His name is Sergio and he will join us for the day. Although we are still searching for our hotel he squeezes into the car and informs us he knows a good hotel.  Down the bumpy streets we drive and soon we turn onto a narrow car lined street.  Ok, the hotel is not quite as nice as the one we had found but the price is good and we are anxious to get the rest of our day going so we unload our bags and set out for an adventure under the direction of Sergio...
Tour Guide Sergio
Peace bus - Brazil
Ants made of rocks.. Hotel of our dream!
Old City Hall - Lencois Bahia
Inside the dream hotel..