Happy New Year 2022 to all of you…

Hi,

Another usual special post not related to the usual topics on my blog, this time made the day before the new year begins. To the people who see the blog I created back in March 2012 a very Feliz Ano Novo 2022 (Happy New Year 2022). Really hoping that next year will be better than this year

I couldn’t finish this post without posting the videoclip of this classic 1980 song by ABBA (eventhough the lyrics aren’t as positive):

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Merry Christmas 2021 to all of you…

Hi,

As always, a special post for Christmas Eve. To the people who see my blog I created back in March 2012 a very happy Feliz Natal 2021 (Merry Christmas 2021) and let there be joy and love for all of you and your beloved ones on this special day – especially when the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation is still ongoing

Thank you,

LAboy 456 (Rui Craveiro)

Luca (2021)

Hi,

In times of COVID-19, several movies that were initially scheduled to be released in cinemas had to be either be digitally released on a international scale only or, in some cases, did have a dual cinema + digital release option

The movie that I’ll give my opinion on belongs to the former mentioned release (eventhough the countries that don’t have the platform in question (Disney+) ended up or will end up having a theatre release for it sooner or later): “Luca”, made by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, directed by Enrico Casarosa and produced by Andrea Warren

For starters, you can read more about the movie in here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luca_(2021_film)

As for the opinion regarding the movie… which will be divided into sections (some spoilers ahead, so… be sure to read this only after you watch the movie):

STORY:

Pixar is usually known for their vastly dimensional stories with a lot of punch at times, but “Luca” comes off as being quite different as the story is actually simple – something that maybe would look quite strange for some people while seeing it for the same time

Eventhough not the deepest story you can usually find in a movie, it’s actually effective and endearing at the same time + the main theme of the movie (the friendship between three different kids (two sea monster boys and a human girl) is so well built and developed

A few minor issues I thought that should have been developed or made more clear included Alberto‘s back story (I know Luca is the main character and the focus should primarly go to him, but not much was told about Alberto‘s story until the day before the Portorosso Cup… and even so, I felt like there was much more that could have been done in that sense), Alberto‘s growing relationship with Massimo (Giulia‘s father) (there were some visibile hinting scenes during the second half of the movie, but nothing more than that) and the indefinite timeline of the movie (the director (Enrico Casarosa) himself stated the movie goes between the 1950’s and the 1960’s. After seeing the movie several times, I get the feeling it wanders more on the late 1960’s (Giulia‘s clothes, for example, don’t look much like they come from the 1950’s + during the end credits, you could spot Giulia and Luca watching what we think it’s the Apollo 11 moon landing from 1969 on TV) than the 1950’s (despite some references to it (for example, the movie posters throughout the city featuring several 1950’s movie classics). Then again, I also understand that it might have been an artistic choice so that the movie can be timeless)

Even today (and since the movie’s trailers came out), the people on social media have had their different interpretations on “Luca” (the director had stated the movie itself is only about friendship, although I’ve never seen him denying the people’s thoughts on social media posts either). And I must agree there’s another word one could add to the movie: ambiguity – in a good way

CHARACTERS:

One of the biggest assets of this movie is the small and yet diverse array of characters with different personalities. Some of them have their diverse motives throughout the story which end in personal growth (by the way, kudos to the voice cast for bringing them to life)

Some might not think so, but the main trio – whose names I already pointed out in the previous section and were also known in the story as the Underdogs – might be, for me, one of the best main cast group of main characters in recent years when it comes to animated movies:

  • Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), the timid and yet curious sea monster boy who has been longing to know what’s above the surface. Maybe the character that had the biggest growth, psychologically-wise – from the shy and frightened personality he had for the first half of the movie to the moment he gets to know more about the human world in Portorosso (giving him the will to do more for his life, like going to school) during most of the second half of the movie (in which he also showed a terrible flaw of his during one of the most tense scenes in the movie)… and then the climax before the movie’s final scene in which he finally musters all his courage to stand up for himself and his friends, as well show who he physicially is in a world where sea monsters would be viewed by humans as evil (and viceversa)
  • Alberto (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer), the confident and yet vulnerable sea monster boy who becomes Luca‘s first best friend. As I stated before, there were some issues that weren’t developed when it comes to this character… but his principal core of growth was, at least, there: up until meeting Luca, he was all alone for most of his life… and when he does finally have someone who he can talk and share things and thoughts with, he also might do that much to not lose that person’s interest in him… going as far as being jealous of Luca from the moment he becomes much closer to Giulia. By the climax of the movie, he finally becomes a really great character after revealing the reasons for his insecurities which will lead him to be more compreensive and understanding to those close to him in the end
  • Giulia (voiced by Emma Berman), the outgoing and yet adventurous human girl who befriends Luca and Alberto. The final key from the main group (of which the story wouldn’t have much of a continuity without), not only she shines on her own due to her strong and intelligent personality, but also shines due to her struggling backstory before meeting the boys in which she faces the strangeness from the people of Portorosso for being different from the rest, as well as the constant bullying from the movie’s villiain Ercole – reasons that motivate her to participate in the Portorosso Cup in order to prove that she’s more than just – going by her own words – “some weird kid who… doesn’t belong”. Her character growth in the story blossomed little by little as she got much closer to the two main characters, in especially with Luca with whom she shared similiar interests in life – even after she found out they were actually sea monsters (although she was actually scared at first when one of the main characters revealed itself as such)

From the secondary characters, I’d say Massimo (voiced by Marco Barricelli) gave the best impression from me – beneath the intimidating aura one could think he’d have, there’s actually a good hearted man who deeply cares for her daughter and her friends. And when it comes to comic relief, can anyone beat Machiavelli, Giulia and Massimo‘s cat? I pretty much doubt it… well, in this movie at least

ANIMATION:

Usually, I’m more a fan of traditional animation or hand-drawn + computer animation… although I’m not against CGI animation in any way, especially if the overall content for a animated movie (and I mean that for every possible animation style (of which I also include stopmotion animation (which I find strikingly good, by the way) gives me the special appeal I’d long for

This movie is one of those cases in which that special appeal exists for me: despite pretty minor errors, the sunny and colourful animation really captures the retro-vibe of the story with a highly detailed precision without being dated and extremely overbearing. In a way, I also got the Studio Ghilbi inspiration (that was pointed by the movie’s staff): it does feel as naturally compelling and smooth as any of the movies from the forementioned animation studio (by the way, have you noticed that the colour pattern of Alberto‘s clothes are pretty much similiar to Conan (from the 1978 anime “Future Boy Conan” which was directed by one of the founders of the studios in question (Hayao Miyazaki)’s clothes?)

I really loved the static traditional animation from the end credits scene, which made me wonder: the movie is visually stunning already. Had it been made the traditional or hand-drawn + computer way, would the movie be as stunning or even better?

MUSIC:

There’s not much of a criticism I’d have to say when it comes to the original music score by Dan Romer: it goes funny when it needs to be, insightful at the right moment and dramatic without going too overboard

The jewel of the crown, though, has to be the songs outside of Dan Romer‘s music score that were picked for the movie – especially the inclusion of the retro twist-pop track “Il gatto e la volpe”, written and sung by Edoardo Bennato for his 1977 album “Burattino senza fili” (used in the first half of the movie) and the italian version of “It’s a lonely town”, sung by Gene McDaniels and released in 1963 (“Città vuota”, sung by Mina and also released back in 1963 – used in the end credits)

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Overall, I really loved the movie – maybe the best CGI animated movie, as well as best Pixar movie I’ve seen since “Coco” (2017– and the cosy feeling that is transmitted through it. Totally reccomend it to any movie and animation fan, as well as the general audience

ONE MORE THING:

I’ve been seeing several sources concerning ideas for a sequel, either by the staff or by movie-goers/animation-goers + the fact Disney+ has sent a survey to its subscribers concerning the movie and asked if they would be willing to watch another movie involving the movie’s characters (which I would personally love that to happen)

For me, I would fuse the director (Enrico Casarosa) and one of the actors (Emma Berman)‘s ideas: having more focus on Giulia by having her trying to get their parents back together (regardless of the result), while not overshadowing Luca‘s life in Genoa and his closer bonding with Giulia and her family

I would go even further by having a trilogy of movies concerning “Luca” (just like “Star Wars” had with its first classic trilogy): we already have the first movie (“Luca”), then we could have that sequel titled “Luca II: Giulia” or just “Giulia”, etc… and then we’d go full circle with Alberto‘s life in Portorosso, as well as his growing fondness with Massimo (who’d later be officially adopted by him (eventhouh it kinda feels that way already by the end credits of “Luca”) and Giulia‘s mother) and Luca‘s family and of which I’d title it “Luca III: Alberto” or just “Alberto”, etc…

Last, but not least – one of the movie’s trailers:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

Happy New Year 2021 to all of you…

Hi,

Another usual special post not related to the usual topics on my blog, this time made the day before the new year begins. To the people who see the blog I created back in March 2012 a very Feliz Ano Novo 2021 (Happy New Year 2021). Really hoping that next year will be better than what we had this year… which is simply a year to forget

I couldn’t finish this post without posting the videoclip of this classic 1980 song by ABBA (eventhough the lyrics aren’t as positive. Well, considering the year we had (2020), maybe some of the verses might actually blend well):

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

jESC 2020: My opinion about the show

Hi,

 

It’s been quite a while since the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020 has ended, so now it’s time to review this year’s edition (a year that is almost ending). Only 12 countries participated in the 2020 edition of the contest (the lowest number of participants in a jESC edition since 2013. For almost all of the countries who withdrew this year, their reason was purely due to the COVID-19 situation, some of which hoping to come back once everything is back to normal (or in some kind of normality at least). Armenia, who was in the list of countries for this year’s edition, later withdrew due to the recent NagornoKarabakh conflict (let’s hope they don’t withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 either, despite being in the list of participating countries for next year’s edition) held in WarsawPoland at TVP Studios on Sunday, 29th November 2020

And it all started with a little taste of Poland‘s locations and the opening act done by last year’s winning act, Viki Gabor, who in turn sung her winning jESC 2019 entry “Superhero”. The usual jESC tradition (the “parade of nations” à la Olympic Games) was done in a effective way – all the participants presented themselves in their own langauges:

Then, the presenters of the evening came (Ida Nowakowska (dancer and TV-presenter who had co-hosted the previous year’s edition), Małgorzata Tomaszewska (TV-presenter) and Rafał Brzozowski (singer and TV-presenter). Throughout the show, let’s say that Ida stood out once again due to her charismatic personality when presenting such a show. The other presenters… well, they did their job, but became quite forgettable

After that, the parade of songs started (most of the participating countries opted to record their performance in their own countries due to COVID-19. Only 4 countries (including the host country) recorded their performances in the TVP Studios in Warsaw):

01: GERMANYSusan – Stronger with you

The only positive note in the relatively small list of participating countries, Germany finally did make their debut in Junior Eurovision Song Contest after being on fence about it for several years (they were actually close in making it back in the first two years of the contest with no avail)

And they did it this year with the mid-tempo pop ballad “Stronger with you”, sung by Susan and made by Levent Geiger (a finalist in one of the latest editions of KiKa‘s music contest “Dein Song”)

I thought it was a really good song with nice lyrics about finding strength in life and Susan‘s performance was pretty nice as well. I’d guess the problem was that the song wasn’t strong enough as the competition was a bit strong for it to stand out. The fact that she sung first didn’t help its cause either

By the way, I have some pleading words for the german broadcasters (NDR and KiKa), but I’ll leave them at the end of my opinion concerning jESC 2020

02: KAZAKHSTANKarakat Bashanova – Forever

After their great result last year, all the hopes of the country were all pinned on Karakat Bashanova and “Forever”, a power ballad dedicated to her late father with lyrics by Yeleusiz Ardak and Abulkhair Adam and music by Khamit Shangaliyev

Really good ballad with a pretty strong performance from Karakat‘s part – in fact, the latter was the singer’s biggest asset: a lot of emotions were conveyed while performing it (she even shed a tear during the performance). Also liked the performance’s staging

03: THE NETHERLANDSUNITY – Best friends

After getting back on track in terms of results, they picked another dance-pop song this year. This time, it was performed by UNITY, the only group in this year’s jESC edition, and it was called “Best friends” (the title pretty much resumes the entry’s lyrics: a song about friendship), a song made by Robert Dorn

A highly uplifting catchy song with a really good vibe and a good performance from the girls’ part (which was quite an improvement from their National Final performance (in which one of the girls wasn’t present as she got COVID-19 during the NF week + the overall package had lacked something in order to do well)

04: SERBIAPetar Aničić – Heartbeat

After getting a top-10 last year with a power mid-tempo entry, the country itself picked a ballad about a love relationship waiting to happen: “Heartbeat”, sung by Petar Aničić and made by himself together with three other writers and composers who already have a good résumé when it comes to ESC and jESC: Leontina Pat and Charlie Mason with the lyrics (the latter wrote the lyrics for Austria‘s ESC 2014 winning entry (“Rise like a pheonix”, sung by Conchita Wurst) and Vladimir Graić with the music (he also won ESC back in 2007 as the composer of Serbia‘s entry “Molitiva”, sung by Marija Šerifović)

Nice ballad with good lyrics and a competent performance from Petar‘s part. The problem is that it wasn’t either strong or competitive enough to do relatively well at all

05: BELARUSArina Pehtereva – Aliens

After two disapointing results with catchy songs, they went for a slow entry about the environment: “Aliens”, sung by Arina Pehtereva and made by Daniil Zabela, with Arina collaborating on the lyrics

Really good atmospherical entry with a good set of serious lyrics and a pretty good overall performance. The use of two children to illustrate the entry’s mood was quite… a choice (it gets quite spooky at some point during the perfomance)

P.S.: During jESC 2020 week, this was one of the three songs the fans in general claimed they did playback as opposed of being live. The European Broadcasting Union has denied those claims for those songs (which has put those claims to an end… although fans still believe there was some playback in there)

06: POLANDAla Tracz – I’ll be standing

After becoming the first country in jESC to win twice in a row, the stakes were way up high with “I’ll be standing”, a catchy empowering pop-rock entry sung by Ala Tracz and made by husband-wife team Andrzej Gromala (aka. Gromee, who represented the country in ESC 2018 with) and Sara Chmiel Gromala

In studio, the song sounds really good (although not as powerful as the country’s previous jESC efforts since their 2016 comeback) and had some nice arrangements. The performance was quite a let down, though – not because of Ala‘s vocals (which were really good), but mostly due to the staging (which was too confusing for such a song, destroying their chances of getting a better score)

07: GEORGIASandra Gadelia – You are not alone

After getting their worst result ever in jESC last year, they resorted back to the composer who gave them their 3 victories in the contest (2008, 2011 and 2016 respectively) – the one and only, Giorgi “Giga” Kukhianidze (who, apart from 2007, 2018 and 2019, composed every single entry from Georgia in jESC)

The pop ballad with a Disney-like melody ending about facing one’s troubles without ever looking back, “You are not alone”, was sung by Sandra Gadelia and also had lyrics written by Temo Sajaia

The song itself is good (although I’m not fan of the ending itself). On the other hand, vocals were really good and the staging was quite nice. The only problem for me, though, is that there were better songs and several stand-out performances, which makes me forget this one quite a bit…

08: MALTAChanel Monseigneur – Chasing sunsets

Despite their last place last year, the country in question continued with their mid-tempo pop ballad formula, although done in a cuter way

And that’s true with “Chasing sunsets”, a song in which Chanel Monseigneur gives out a message in which we should chase our dreams in any possible way. The lyrics were written by Emil Calleja Bayliss, while the music was made by Aleandro Spiteri Monseigneur (Chanel‘s older brother), Peter Borg and Joe Roscoe

For me, it’s a nice cutesy song… but there have been much better songs in that department throughout jESC‘s history (meaning that it lacks something for me). Still, Chanel defended it the best she could

09: RUSSIASofia Feskova – My new day

Together with Georgia, Russia also got their worst placing in jESC to date last year. This year, they pinned all their hopes with “My new day”, a ballad about believing in miracles on a brand new day sung by Sofia Feskova and made by herself, together with Anna Petryasheva and Vitaly Tomin

Like Malta, it’s also a nice cute entry… and it pretty much lacks some oomph in order to be much stronger than what it is. The singer still did a pretty good performance, though + the LED‘s were pretty good

P.S.: During jESC 2020 week, this was the second of the three songs the fans in general claimed they did playback as opposed of being live. The European Broadcasting Union has denied those claims for those songs (which has put those claims to an end… although fans still believe there was some playback in there)

10: SPAINSoleá – Palante

After a triumphant return that gave the country a 3rd place (maintaining, therefore, their impressive jESC record) last year, it was up to Soleá to continue their good momentum in jESC with “Palante”, a contemporary latin-pop entry with a bit of flamenco vibe in some parts about fighting the odds in troubled times (for example, COVID-19) made César G. Ross, Hajar Sbihi (aka, ASHA) and Bruno Valverde

The song’s arranged melody might be quite simple, but it’s nothing short of effective. And the lyrics might be quite easy, but it really appeals to you in somehow. In another words: a great entry

When it comes to the performance, the staging and the choreography were quite good (some fans thought it was too dark and not really fast-paced enough, but I didn’t think of it as a problem). Soleá could have been a bit better in vocal terms, but she still did a pretty good job

11: UKRAINEOleksandr Balabanov – Vidkrivay (Open up)

Even after hitting bottom-5 last year, the country in question is still maintaing their alternative pop sound for the third time in a row

This time, however, they went for a mid-tempo entry in which you need to open up to the world in order to pursue anything titled “Vidkrivay (Open up)”, sung by Oleksandr Balabanov and made by himself, together with Mykhailo Klymenko

Maybe the song that grew on me the most: from almost bottom-3 to almost top-6. The melody is quite interesting

The performance itself was pretty good as well: the singer performed it really well and the visuals were good and blended well with the song’s mood

12: FRANCEValentina – J’imagine

Since their return back in 2018, France has been on a roll when it comes to jESC: their 2018 entry (Angelina, “Jamais sans toi”) had given them their best result yet in the contest (2nd) and their 2019 entry (Carla, “Bim bam toi”), despite only getting 5th, became a big domestic hit

This year, the songwriting team behind the previous year’s entry, Barbara Pravi (who, by the way, is going to compete in the French ESC NF 2021 with a song of her own: “Voilà”) and Igit, made  the junior-friendly pop entry titled “J’imagine”, a song with a strong message of hope and fun sung by Valentina

Now here’s a cute entry that does have the spark the other cute entries from this year’s edition didn’t really have + really good arrangements and lyrics

When I first saw the excerpt of the performance during rehearsals, I thought it was actually promising and that it would stand out. After seeing it in full… well, it did stand out from the rest. Everything was on point: from the bubbly staging to the effective choreography, from the outstanding visuals to Valentina‘s vocal performance

P.S.: During jESC 2020 week, this was the third (and last) of the three songs the fans in general claimed they did playback as opposed of being live. The European Broadcasting Union has denied those claims for those songs (which has put those claims to an end… although fans still believe there was some playback in there)

During the time the online voting lines were opened for the second time (the first one being the first phase of the online voting that between Friday evening and Sunday early afternoon), we had the pleasure of having a few interval acts:

– The previous two winner of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, Roksana Węgiel and Viki Gabor (Poland), together with Duncan Laurence (Eurovision Song Contest 2019’s winning act from The Netherlands) singing the song in which the latter won the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 with (“Arcade”) in a augmented reality way

– The 12 participating countries‘ artists singing the song especially made for the event, “Move the world” – also done in augmented reality

Alicja, who was supposed to represent Poland at the cancelled 2020 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, who sung the song that she would have sung in this year’s edition – “Empires” (without even stating if Alicja will remain as their act for the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. I mean, the way she was presented sounded like TVP might not give her a second chance at all. But we’ll see what happens):

After that, the time came for the most anticipated moment of a song contest by EBU: the voting. Like last year, there was some sort of agreement between the jury and the online voting (at least three countries repeated their placings from last year)

After all the 12 countries’ jury voting + the online voting results were revealed, France were crowned the winners of the jESC 2020 edition with the junior-friendly pop entry “J’imagine”, sung by Valentina – the first one since 2015 to win both votings in separate as well

Overall, the results were actually quite satisfiying as most of my top-5 was on the actual top-5, altough in different positions. Just thought Germany didn’t actually deserved to be last this year. And I was indeed surprised by the fact Poland didn’t do much better than expected, eventhough I said during the country’s jESC NF that I didn’t see it as a potential winner (I still maintained that thought, altough I almost swallowed those thoughts several times when seeing the fans’ predictions on the results)

Here’s the winning artist’s reaction once she knew she won this year’s edition:

Just before the end of my opinion on this year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest edition… I really wish things will be much better in 2021 (whose edition will be held somewhere in France) and that the countries that withdrew from the 2020 edition may return for 2021 – so that we can have a decent number of participating countries (my interest in this year’s jESC edition had quite diminished because of that fact (I felt a big amount of frustration and I blame that on COVID-19)… and I still fear things might not be as normal, which would lead us to a new dark era for jESC (the contest had a dark one before then: between 2008 and 2013)

And one more thing: please, NDR and KiKa (Germany), don’t withdraw from the Junior Eurovision Song Contest just because you had a bad result – with a good competitive entry, you can do really well

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)