Sunday, December 30, 2012

NFL: 2012, What A Season!

Since I started to follow the NFL games "religiously" on Sundays eight years ago, 2012 season to me is without question the most exciting.

The Year of the Rookie QBs!
First, the 2012 class of rookie quarterbacks is simply amazing; starting with the number one pick in this year's draft: Andrew Luck. He broke Cam Newton's single season passing record by a rookie QB and brought back life and excitement into a Colts' organization that finished NFL's last in 2011, and got his team into the playoff on his first season! What I also find great about this young talent is his calm and humility in his interviews. I expect (and hope) he will continue to improve his game and give us many years of great football.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (2012)
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (2012)
At the same level of talent is Robert Griffin III (RG III) of the Washington Redskins. He definitely deserves his team trades to get the number 2 pick in the 2012 Draft. Showing great talent that may get the Redskins to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and definitely a return to competitiveness for a franchise who was last in the NFC East for years.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (2012)
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (2012)
Another rookie quarterback who surprised many fans and experts is Russell Wilson of Seattle Seahawks. He was able to get his team, under the leadership of head coach Pete Carroll, into the playoffs, and even threatening the 49ers dominance of the NFC West. 2012 was truly the year of the Rookie Quarterback!
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (2012)
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (2012)
The Year of the Comeback!
After being absent from the football fields for the whole 2011 season due to neck surgery, Peyton Manning performance was the talk of everyone in football at the beginning of the season, especially after he was released from Indianapolis (who picked Andrew Luck as the new QB) to join John Elway's team in Denver.

Well, I'm neutral about the Broncos, but I am definitely an unconditional fan of Manning's talent, so I watched all his games this season, and Peyton did not disappoint one bit. His play calling, the way he lifted an offence in constant progress through out the season, and clinching the AFC West title three weeks before the end of the regular season.

I'm a Packers fan, but I have to admit, I really wish Peyton could get another Superbowl ring this year, both for an amazing season back from a major surgery, but also for his amazing talent and career.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (2012)
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (2012)

The Year Records Fall!
Two other amazing performances that made this NFL 2012 season so great, is Calvin Johnson breaking Jerry Rice's 1995 single season receiving yards record with a mark of 1,892. "Megatron" Johnson shines in a very average Detroit team, you can only guess what he could in a more competitive team!
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (2012)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (2012)
On the day I'm writing this (Dec. 30th), it's week 17 and last of the regular season, Adrian Peterson is 208 yards away from breaking Erick Dickerson's single season rushing yards record, with a shot of taking his team to the playoffs. This achievement comes a year after a major ACL injury. His talent and perseverance might even get him MVP of 2012 regular season, and it won't be a steal.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (2012)
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (2012)
Looking forward to the playoff!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

In Paris until end of January...

I arrived two weeks ago to The City of Lights, Paris, for holidays with the family and some time off. It's always great to visit here enjoying the great architecture and the arrogance of Parisians! I know, I can be mean sometimes. Joking aside, the is quite a strange country, there are so many great things and so many strange behaviors too. Here is an example:

Last week I went  to the top of Arc de Triomphe, as I paid the €9.50 ticket at the ground level, I discovered to my surprise that cameras were allowed, but not tripods! Even stranger, at the top of the monument, there are two security employees watching people and preventing anyone from using a tripod! That means two salaries paid for preventing people from using a tripod at a national monument, visited every year by over 1 million people! What an efficient use of taxpayers money.

I did ask why this restriction of tripods, and I got the following stupid answer "To prevent potential terrorists from doing reconnaissance". Seriously? A terrorist would need a tripod to do reconnaissance? There are Google Maps, Google Street View, millions of pictures on the web of that location, not to mention that visitors (and potential terrorists!?) still have the right to use their cameras, yet a tripod is the critical element here? Oh well, France and its stupidity.

Well, if you're wondering why I needed a tripod so badly, it's simply because I wanted to snapshot a 180° panorama, which I managed to do without a tripod, but it wasn't simple. Here are the pictures:

Paris view from Arc de Triomphe (Facing East)
Paris view from Arc de Triomphe (Facing East)
Paris view from Arc de Triomphe (Facing West)
Paris view from Arc de Triomphe (Facing West)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Artist, "Singin' In The Rrain" similarities and 2012 Oscars

The Artist (2011)
Opinion ★★★★
On this day of Academy Awards ceremony, as most movie goers, I have my favorites for the best picture award, and as you probably guessed by the title of this post, The Artist is one of my favorites, along with Hugo, by Martin Scorsese. It seems that 2012 Acadamy Awards may end up being the year of movies paying tribute to the art of filmmaking. You would understand what I mean if you watch both these two movies.

But for now, I will focus on The Artist, a great silent movie made in 2011. Yes, a completely silent movie, and I was very curious how director/writer Michel Hazanavicius will pull this one and be successful. Well, I believe it was a combination of clear love for the golden era of Hollywood of early 20th century that he shares through out the whole movie, with a very captive story line, light at times, dramatic at times, amazing score to compensate for the lack voices, great photography, and most important a very talented Jean Dujardin, for whom I'm very happy, as he is now recognized for his talent, after being snubbed many years by French cinema elite for playing in comedies. Bravo Jean! I wish him well for tonight's Oscars ceremony.
Jean Dujardin & Bénérice Bejo in The Artist (2011)
As a cinephile, I can only hope that the risk taken by the artists, producers involved in The Artist is rewarded with few Oscars tonight.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)
The second part of my post is related to an interesting feeling I had watching The Artist, one of déjà-vu at moments, and it's only when I got home that I realized it was because of the similarities with the 1952 classic 'Singin' in the the Rain' with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor.

Indeed, both movies stories take place at the time of transition from silent movies, to talking pictures (aka Talkies). In fact some scenes are very close, almost copycat, but I take them as a tribute, not

Similarities between 'The Artist' and 'Singin' in the Rain'
  • Both are about an actor, and Hollywoord in general, transitioning from silent movies to talkies
  • At the beginning of 'The Artist', there is a scene where George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) is taking applause from his public after a screening of his last successful movie, and he prevents his female co-star Constance from being on stage, preferring to play tricks with his co-star dog. In the 1952 classic, Gene Kelly's character Don Lockwood does the same with his co-star Lina Lamont (played by Jean Hagen) – See screenshot from Singin' in the Rain below
  • The complaints backstage of Constance to the director/producer character, played by John Goodman, similar to what Lamont does with producer in Singin' in the Air
  • The love story between the established actor Valentin and the wannabe actress Peppy Miller (played by Bénérice Bejo) character of the new actress, similar to the one between Lookwood and Kathy Selden (played by Debbie Reynolds). Even the look of Kathy and Peppy are similar   – See screenshots below
  • In both movies, the solution to the transition of the main character career from silent to talkies goes through the musicals – See screenshot from Singin' in the Rain below
  • I couldn't help but noticing a visual similarity of including African tribe in the jungle as one of Valentin's movies, and in Singin' in the Rain, a quick scene (see screenshot below), similar theme is included.

Differences between 'The Artist' and 'Singin' in the Rain'
You might think The Artist is a copycat, well clearly it is not. First 'The Artist' is a silent movie, 'Singin' in the Rain' was a full featured with sound film. Second, except for the end where music is the solution for Valentin, the movie is not a musical, unlike the 1952 classic. The 2011 film is a drama with some comedy scenes, the 1952 movie is a classic musical comedy.

Well, I hope you will have the chance to watch and enjoy both these two great movies in theatre or at home.

The Artist (2011), 100 min, La petite reine
Singin' in the Rain (1952), 103 min, MGM

Gene Kelly (Lockwood) & Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont) in Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Jean Dujardin (Valentin) & Missi Pyle (Constance) in The Artist (2011)
Gene Kelly & Debbie Reynolds (Kathy Selden) in Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Bérénice Bejo (Peppy Miller) & Malcolm McDowell in The Artist (2011)

Donald O'Conner (Cosmo Brown), Debbie Reynolds & Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Monday, January 2, 2012

So much for America's Team!

NY Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz runs 70 yards for a touchdown against Dallas Cowboys (Barton Silverman/The New York Times)
I get fed up by the self proclaimed nickname the Dallas Cowboys gave themselves being America's Team. Since when Texas became the whole United States? Anyway, I'm glad they are missing the playoffs for the second season in a row! New York Giants showed tonight great football. I personally didn't care, I'm not a Giants fan, but as long as they did beat Dallas, I was all for them tonight.

Final score: Giants 31, Cowboys 14 

New York Giants Logo
Dallas Cowboys Logo
With this victory the Giants clinch the NFC East division title and a spot in the playoffs. They seem to peak at the right time with consecutive wins over the New York Jets on week 16 and this dramatic finale of the NFC East playoff spot. The first opponent to the Giants will be the Atlanta Falcons @ Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. The rest of the playoff teams of the 2011 season can be found on NFL website. It should be fun!