thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

This cute little Californian Mini Moke was supposed to be a military vehicle, but it just couldn’t do much off road work, as it didn’t have enough height, or that much power. So, the British Motor Company decided to make it a leisure vehicle. They were quite spot on there, as it became a phenomenon as a sort of Beach Buggy, especially in places with really nice weather like the Algarve, in Portugal), Australia, and the Caribbean. It was called Austin Mini Moke, Morris Mini Moke and Leyland Moke. It was manufactored in England, Australia and Portugal, and was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, author of the original Mini. 

Photos by @thatgreatescape. Follow on instagram! 

thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

That Great Escape spotted a seriously gorgeous BMW NeueKlasse, or NewClass, 2002. One of the most popular BMW ever made, this classic was designed by Bertram and Rennen, seen here with the touring internationale headlights. A very sucessful car in rallies and hillclimb, that also won the legendary Nurburgring 24H in 1970. The 1973 Turbo version of the 2002 was the first european turbocharged production car. 

Photos by @thatgreatescape. Follow on instagram! 

thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

Quite the rare little roadster: this italian cousin of the Toyota MR2 is called Fiat X1/9, seen here with the Bertone badge, who also produced this car between ‘82 and ‘89. Known for being terrific to drive, this Marcelo Gandini designed sportscars was quite popular in its 18 year run. With its sharp lines, the Fiat is very fit for awesome racing modifications.

Photos by @thatgreatescape. Follow on instagram! 

thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

"No electro, no metro, a little retro, ahhhh perfecto".

This short lived 1999 BMW Z8 pretty much sums up the retro tendencies followed by car makers at the turn of the millennium. The Mini hatch and and the NewBeetle were the bait, and BMW surely followed. Credits are due to BMW, as they were smart enough to call their revival model something else. The design and styling were inspired by the the classic BMW 507 roadster, whose author, Henrik Fisker, tried his hand creating his own brand of electric cars.

The 507 is now an extremly rare classic. Intended to be a great commercial success, it that ended up a tremendous flop. Only 252 were made. The Z8 was a success, though, and It seems to have aged well. It was featured in 007 - The World Is Not Enough, with Pierce Brosnan. The Z8 is a ravishing car, but it’s no Aston Martin. James Bond should always drive british cars, to say the least. 

Photos by @thatgreatescape. Follow on instagram! 

thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

American Hustle – Con hair

Joining Gravity in the race for critical darling of the year, American Hustle comes served to audiences everywhere with the “best film of the year” tag. But, despite the expectations, it’s a bland been there done that experience, quite unsatisfying. It’s like a meal at that Casino restaurant that serves oysters, even though there isn’t an ocean in sight. The decor is flashy, the waiters are impeccable, and there is entertainment while you eat. Maybe, you even feel a little underdressed, considering all the perceived glamour around you. But when the food comes, it’s merely a pale imitation of the real deal. American Hustle is like that. It uses all american favourites: the crime story, the american dream, the reinvention of self, the period piece, with all the accompanying clothes, hairstyles and music. And, of course, a great cast. On one hand, as a homage to the 70’s, it’s no Boogie Nights. It’s a caricatural and empty film, as opposed to the rich, dazzling, original and exuberant Paul Thomas Anderson masterpiece. On the other hand, it’s a misguided and uninspired formulaic crime film, stuck in a narrative and mise-en-scène filled with formalism. It’s has some gangster dressing, sure, even with some heist and caper on the side. All very poorly seasoned. And, on top of all this, it’s got that unbearable odor of made for winning Oscars sauce all over it.

The story follows the main characters of a real-life FBI operation called ABSCAM. The strange story seems like a movie within a movie, a true one, much like last years darling, Argo. The FBI catch a con-man (Bale), who cuts a deal with the arresting agent (Cooper) to catch other con-men by out conning them. There is so much scheming, even the characters are confused sometimes. They end up expanding their operation, entrapping several high profile politicians on corruption charges, by promising millions in investment from a fake Sheik from Abu Dhabi. David O.Russell, director and co-writer of the screenplay, tries to take advantage of the inherited comedic appeal of the true story. However, even the concept of a mexican guy disguised as a Sheik, used as pawn by the FBI to take advantage of either the naiveté or the greed of politicians, isn’t particularly funny. And this was the year of guilt free comedies about white collar crime – see The Wolf of Wall Street. Even blue collar crime got the black comedy treatment in Pain & Gain.  

O’Russell, not one to shy away from self-indulging (see I ♥ Huckabees), directs a well behaved and strangely safe pastiche of better films, emulating several Scorsese trademarks, like the slow motion/music compositions, the quick zoom in on the actor, and even some tracking shots. Russell goes all out on trying to seduce the audience, with extended narration that fills the narrative voids, the look at the famous actor with such a strange hairdo and over the top clothing moments, along with the Duke Ellington/Thelonious Monk/Tom Jones/Elton John soundtrack extravaganza. However, without much substance, unlike the aforementioned Boogie Nights, and without the straight up shot of pulp of Scorsese’s classics like Mean Streets, or Goodfellas, American Hustle feels as flat as American Gangster felt some years ago.

The performances, one of the films selling points, aren’t that exciting. Bale and Amy Adams are fine, but the extreme characterization is more parody than method, with the substance lost beneath a toupé, a perm, or the very low cut dresses. Jennifer Lawrence, on a path to Meryl Streep/Judi Dench territory (being nominated for Oscars for showing up on a film), is nominated for every single acting award this year for playing the same character – the neurotic hot mess – she did in last year’s Silver Linings Playbook, pretty much the persona she conveys on red carpet appearences and interviews.

The theme of reinvention is a staple of american cinema, framed within the narrative of the American Dream. Hustle is a lesser imitation of better films. Stick to the classics.

Rating 3 out of 10

American Hustle (2013) // Director: David O. Russell // Writer: David O. Russell, Eric Warren Singer // Cast: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence // Cinematographer: Linus Sandgren // Music: Danny Elfman

Review by Nuno Sá Montenegro

thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

Gravity - Lost in space

The Gravity buzz was inescapable this year. It’s on the “best films of the year” top ten in almost every magazine and publication you can think of, from Sight & Sound to Cahiers du Cinéma. They say it’s the best space film since 2001, they report that James Cameron said it’s the “best space movie ever done”, they predict it will blow away every other film in the Oscars. You get the point. It is unanimous.

That being said, considering it’s a 3D film, a disclaimer must be made: this review was written after the film was seen in a more conventional 2D format. One can assume that seeing it in IMAX 3D would heighten the awe the film tries very hard to inspire. Every very long take, every how did they film this moment, and so on, are designed to overwhelm the spectator. But, personally, those moments felt supremely contrived. And, the filmmakers are clearly too absorbed by the massive undertaking of shooting the complex special effects driven spectacle, to even notice the poor storyline, that feels awkward and gimmicky, much like a videogame, where the protagonist must go from A to B and push the right button to move forward. The dialogue is so cheesy and implausible, it becomes weirdly predictable after a couple of scenes. Who would have thought that astronauts who have been sharing a very tiny space station for, at least, some weeks, always talk like it’s the first time they have met?

The storyline is quite simple, and the central theme of the film is: don’t give up. Nothing wrong with the message itself, but it’s artistic approach is about as deep as a youtube motivational video. Critics, and others, constantly name dropped 2001: A Space Odyssey as the benchmark for comparison. But to mistake Gravity’s technical proneness, and very expensive production, with Kubrick’s art masterpiece is a bit blasphemous. Gravity is about the will to live of one person, survival instinct. 2001 deals with the very concept of existence, in a much richer and complex manner, never repeated in cinema ever since. 

As far as great space films go, it’s a shame many have forgotten how damn good Apollo 13 is, especially it’s accomplished visuals, directed by Ron Howard in 1995. And there is also Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009), a much more intricate story with similar themes, made at a fraction of the cost, and without all the Oscar campaigning galore. Gravity shows you the gravitational pull of a great perception mechanism. Hollywood itself. 

Rating 4 out of 10

Gravity (2013) // Director: Alfonso Cuarón // Writer: Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón // Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney // Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki // Music: Steven Price

Review by Nuno Sá Montenegro

thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

Don Jon - sins and misdemeanors

Don Jon is a romantic comedy about the different expectations of men and women in sex and love. There are, of course, many books, plays and films about this. The so-called romantic comedies. Shakespeare wrote a couple. His famous A Midsummer Night’s Dream was loosely adapted by Woody Allen, a couple of centuries later, who is also known for writing a few of his own. Before Allen (but after Bill Shakespeare, that is), so did Hawkes, Lubitsch, Sturges, and many others. Nowadays you may see in theatres an Apatow version, more about bromance than romance, and some shades of toilet humour in the mix. While usually formulaic, romantic comedies always seem to find an audience somewhere. That audience would be Scarlett Johansson’s character in Don Jon, Barbara Sugarman, a bubble-gum chewing half temptress, half pain-in-the-ass, and very high maintenance girlfriend. Her whip cracking/sex kitten attitude comes from the fact that society has always told her she’s a 10 out of 10, as Jon puts it “a dime”. And she happens to love romantic comedies, especially the sacrifices the leading man endures to please the leading lady, who is, almost always, the perfect woman. Scarlett is absolutely brilliant looking and feeling like a New Jersey self-entitled hot girl with an attitude. 

However, the center of the film is the titular character, played by actor turned writer/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Jon, the Don, is a gym-tan-laundry kind of guy, whose look and demeanor are basically lifted from The Situation, a colourful reality TV star in the controversial MTV show Jersey Shore, a ratings sensation back in 2009. He is methodical in life, from his spotless clean house, to his workouts, religious devotion and sexual rituals. Nothing about this is particularly notable as far as romantic comedies go, but the main attraction here is Jon’s brutally honest views about women, sex and porn (internet porn, that is). Condoms are terrible, women are not nasty enough, and nearly not as generous as he would like them to be. Basically, staring at a screen is more appealing the real thing, because there he is liberated from expectations. These views may all be wrong, or at least largely magnified and twisted by the aesthetics and ethos (and pathos, actually) of internet porn, a neverending goldmine for procrastinators, that may turn your regular horny person into a full blown addict. Along with the opposing moral judgments brought on by Barbara, unwilling to look beyond her romanticized view of her idealized Ken doll boyfriend, who she hopes to turn into a man with a career, all these issues are definitely worth the debate the film suggests, without being preachy or too morally compromised.

While no masterpiece, and quite uneven at times, it’s an excellent first turn for the veteran actor turned auteur, delivering a seriously sexy and smart film.

Rating 6,5 out of 10

Don Jon (2013) // Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt // Writer: Joseph Gordon-Levitt // Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza // Cinematographer: Thomas Kloss // Music: Nathan Johnson

Review by Nuno Sá Montenegro

thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 – Love hurts. Embrace it.

The latest film from Abdellatif Kechiche is nothing short of astonishing, and has been received with great praise, despite being somewhat marred by some controversy surrounding the atmosphere of the filming process, the director’s attitude towards the cast and crew, the actresses complaints, and the long and quite explicit sex scenes. The buzz around the film doesn’t ignore these tabloidish stories, but hopefully will help to make it talked about in decades to come, much like Last Tango in Paris.

Kechiche adapts, with extraordinary flair, this coming-of-age love story about two young women, originally published as a graphic novel by french author Julie Maroh. Named Blue Is the Warmest Colour in some markets, like the original material, the film wouldn’t be nearly as brilliant as it is if it wasn’t for the miraculous and very committed performances by the two leading actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. They were rightfully awarded, along with the director, the 2013 Palme d’ Or in Cannes, in an unprecedented and uncommon move. Keep in mind the jury was presided by none other than Steven Spielberg, a director whose work is, for a lack of a better word, sexless, peered with Ang Lee and Nicole Kidman, both veterans in making notorious erotic dramas.

Cinema is as much a director’s medium, as it is an actors arena. In this particular case, the film is Exarchopoulos, a young actress that gives the most naturalistic, unflinching, bold and unconventional performance you will see in a very long time. There is no method acting in Adèle, there is metamorphosis. The misplaced nature of her being, the desire, the ecstasy, the longing, the pain, all symptoms of the realization of the fatally flawed nature of love, especially first love, is a gift for the ages that should be immortalised in the pantheon of greatest performances in the history of cinema. 

Also quite poignant are the more subtle themes of the film. The affair depicted starts when Adèle is finishing high school, while Emma (Seydoux) is a Fine Arts student, who later becomes an artist, a painter. Adéle becomes a school teacher for young kids. Emma undercuts Adèle’s confidence, by frowning upon her career, pressuring her to become a writer. This serves as a inciting incident for the relationship troubles that come afterwards, but the director’s point of view seems to adhere to an idea that art is pointless if it isn’t changing someones life, if it sits in galleries, only talked about amongst the elite, rather focusing on the honesty and beauty of Adèle’s interactions with children. While not the fundamental point of the film, Kechiche spends enough time on it to make it relevant.

The film is tremendously well crafted by a director that has an unsurpassed eye for creating a tense, but appealing, cinéma verité like atmosphere in very delicate and truthful dramas, such as the also fabulous La graine et le mulet (The Secret of the Grain). His films command with unusual subtlety, offering a gravitational pull that exudes from a seemingly unchoreographed and spontaneous depiction of profoundly human stories, told at dinner tables, while people are eating, through genuine conversation, while his camera goes unnoticed. However, the mise-en-scène in Adéle is elevated by Exarchopoulos. And Kechiche knows this. The film is an ode to her.

Rating 9 out of 10

La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 (2013) // Director: Abdellatif Kechiche // Writer: Abdellatif Kechiche, Ghalia Lacroix, adapted from Le bleu est une couleur chaude, a graphic novel by french author Julie Maroh // Cast: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Léa Seydoux // Cinematographer: Sofian El Fani

Review by Nuno Sá Montenegro

thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

12 Years a Slave

Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a New York-state born free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, Steve McQueen, a Turner prize winning video artist turned film director, presents an extremely powerful firsthand account of the brutality and indignity of slavery. Some might describe the experience of watching as somewhat difficult. That, in many ways, is a testament to the vitality and significance of the film. It wouldn’t be honest if it wasn’t painful.

McQueen shows not only the brutality of the physical punishment, but a how slavery was foremost a form of psychological horror, encompassing a rare composition of absolutes, a repression system built upon hatred, the law, and of course, religious belief. Christianity, through the scriptures, is used by slave owners as a justification for the subjugation of black people. This self-righteous worldview is evoked by both a less cruel stripe of slave owners, but also by the more brutal ones. The film daringly depicts extremely complex relationships between master and slave, master and enforcer, enforcer and slave, and amongst the slaves themselves.

The performances in the film are nothing short of astounding. Chiwetel Ejiofor has a poise and dignity, a sort of Sidney Poitier-like presence, that is deeply touching. Newcomer Lupita Nyong’o is gut-wrenching. Fassbender, who has been in all three McQueen films, is completely terrifying, playing with a disturbed, twisted and revolting psychopath not as a character, but as a fact.

Quite certainly, the most important film of the year that deserves the perennial audience it will surely get. Experiencing it in a half-full commercial film theatre was a true testament to how compelling the film is - there was total silence. Viewers were not checking their phones, or eating popcorn. They were either crying, or trying not to.

A defining piece of cinema about one of the darkest chapters of recorded history.

Rating 10 out of 10

12 Years a Slave (2013) // Director: Steve McQueen // Writer: John Ridley, Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup // Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt // Cinematographer: Sean Bobbitt // Music: Hans Zimmer

Review by Nuno Sá Montenegro

thatgreatescapemagazine

thatgreatescapemagazine:

Spotted: a BMW Z1, one of the mere 8.000 ever produced.

This instant classic was designed by Harm Lagaayin in such an innovative way, it produced several patents, particularly the very distinct vertically retractable door mechanism. The body was made of plastic, and could be removed entirely from the chassis. It could be driven without it, much like the Pontiac Fiero. Small and lightweight, it featured a 2,5L,170 hp engine, which means it was quick and fun. A curious fact is that this car had no AC, due to a lack of space. Since It’s a convertible, it’s all right, as long as its summertime.

Photos by @thatgreatescape. Follow on instagram!