A Brazilian Summer (in Hong Kong)

10 06 2017

More MPB from Mallu Magalhaes (above), Barbara Eugenia and Silva featuring the beautiful voice of old favourite Fernanda Takai.

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You’re no good

21 05 2017

One of the big names of young Brazilian music, Mallu Magalhães, is back with a lovely, summery and surprisingly traditional-sounding bossa nova number, Você Não Presta (You’re no good). The song also prompted me to go back to one of my old favourites of hers, Velha e Louca, below:





Summer beat

10 05 2017

Miss that tacky Latin pop.





Cultural centre: Bangkok to Sao Paulo

6 05 2017

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Thailand’s Creative and Design Centre (TCDC ), whose exhibitions I have really enjoyed in the past, has reopened in a much larger new premises by the river along the Charoen Krung. It is now housed in a building attached to the brutal 1930s old General Post Office. The centre will spearhead a cultural rennaissance of one of Bangkok’s oldest neighbourhoods, already home to galleries Speedy Mama and Soy Sauce factory and some interesting street art, and to be joined later this month by a massive new warehouse cultural development spearheaded by architect Duangrit Bunnag. He successfully helmed the Jam Factory project on the other side of the river.

In Sao Paulo meanwhile, the Japan House opened this weekend, part of a next generation push by the Japanese government to expand its “soft power” around the globe. Brazil’s centre was the first to open, highlighting the strong links created by generations of Japanese immigration to Brazil and more lately, Brazilian immigration to Japan. The cultural centre opened with an installation by artist Azuma Makoto who sent 30 cyclists through the city to pass out flowers to “spread beauty” and mark the centre’s opening.





Summer songs

1 05 2017

 

Spring has well and truly broken with a Summer on its way. On the way home from work I hear birds playing and fighting in the trees, darting out of shrubs flying after each other in hot pursuit, while magpie chicks in dowdy foliage scratch in the grass. In the morning I am woken by a symphony of bird calls, and the long-missing night heron is back in the Wong Chuk Hang canal.

On the streets of Mong Kok this long weekend, pecs were bared in tank tops and people ambled amid the pungent smell of stinky tofu in bared legs and arms, sweating and happy in the sun.

And what better soundtrack to all of this than samba? Rapper Criolo has released a new samba record, available to download for free in its entirety at his website, the sound of a new Summer.





Modern loneliness

25 04 2017

 

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I saw two films at the International Film Festival which, by coincidence, both explored the theme of loneliness. Oliver Assayas’s “Personal Shopper” stars my new fave Kristen Stewart, as a searcher, a psychic, looking for something more than the unwanted life she has found herself in at the periphery of the fame machine, as a Paris celebrity’s personal shopper. Its a strange, meandering little film, full of moments of stillness but also little revelations, not the least of which is Stewart’s great central performance or her effortless normcore lesbo-chic styling. I saw it on a rainy day, the last day of my holidays, at Kowloon’s eighties-tastic Cultural Centre with the director himself in attendance.

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A few days later, the Monday night of my return to work to be precise – I journeyed out to Kowloon Tong, to see “Corpo Electrico” – the Body Electric. It is the first film from Marcelo Caetano, who previously worked on Neon Bull, and that film’s tone is evident again here: an almost plotless (and some might find, pointless) slice-of-life drama, but filled with beautifully observed scenes of every day life, almost like an anthropological documentary, and human warmth. We watch the handsome main character Elias as he daydreams at work, drinks with friends, smokes and does his laundry. Elias, played beautifully by Kelner Macêdo, works as a pattern maker in a Sao Paulo garment factory, passing his time with semi-flings with friends and ex-boyfriends.  At the time, I was charmed but slightly bored by his life, but now the day after I find the film lingering in my thoughts for its loving and very real portrayal of gay life in the early twenties : its intense and flirty friendships,  camaraderie and cliquishness, non-career job boredom and hedonistic weekends, all floating under an unformed and seemingly ominous future.





Tropical tastes

18 04 2017

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