5 of the Best Al Pacino Movies You Could Watch

Al Pacino is one of the biggest celebrity Hollywood has seen. The Italian American actor was born in 1940. As early as 1972, he displayed highly acclaimed acting skills in The Godfather. Pacino is an established user of method acting – a set of techniques that help the actor immerse in the character by appealing to the most similar personal experiences. This approach fits Pacino best when he plays characters revolving around breaking the law, be it mob member or policemen.

The secret might lie in Al Pacino’s personal history, a rich reservoir of life experience with similarities to some characters he portrays. During his early years in Bronx he was considered a troublemaker at school, started smoking and drinking at age 9, as well as trying marijuana at 13. Luckily for us, although he left school at 17, he took low-paying jobs to finance his acting courses. Until his career took of in the late 1960s, he has had his share of life experiences. Here are 5 of the best Al Pacino movies to watch!

5. Scarface (1983)

Brian De Palma’s Scarface is one of the best examples of mob films, a genre of productions focused around organized crime, but with a taste of film noir. While some critics have been enthusiastic about Scarface, other, like Martin Scorsese, praised it. Moreover, as time passed, the film turned into a cultural icon. The 1983 Al Pacino hit movie is inspired by a 1932 movie focusing on Al Capone’s career. Both of them were surrounded by accusations of excessive violence and other bourgeois complaints.

However, Brian de Palma uses violence as a means of showing character development, not just for the sake of it. That was the context surrounding mob life. While the mob of Al Capone’s era provided alcohol, Tony Montana provided cocaine, basically filling the same function. Scarface is an important Al Pacino film, because it puts his 1970s experience with Godfather to the best use.

Al Pacino Scarface4. The Insider

Al Pacino’s grandest 1990’s portrayal. The film is a masterpiece, as director Michael Mann brilliantly places Pacino in the role of Lowell Bergman, the “60 Minutes” producer who struggles to get the message of a tobacco industry wistleblower out in the world. The Insider is a highly praised movie. Although Al Pacino did not take the Oscar for it, it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, so check it out!

Al Pacino The Insider

3. Serpico

This time Pacino is the good and honest cop who won’t accept the money in a highly corrupt system. Here he is the good guy concerned with the ethics of the civil servants, but also he portrays a realistic image of all the turmoil and resistance a cop can experience within this system and even near-death wounding experiences that would make all his corrupt colleagues happy. Pacino’s character, Carlito, would have you weep in shame over your daily little unethical choices.

Al Pacino Serpico

2. The Godfather II

A great deal of controversy surrounds the cinema fans’ greatest questions: which one is better, The Godfather I or II? The debate may never be settled, as taking a final decision is awfully difficult. Godfather II, one of the best Al Pacino movies, received 11 Oscar nominations and won in six categories. The fact is that Pacino’s performance in the second part of the trilogy is his best, leaving many puzzled by the Academy’s decision to award the best actor title to someone else. However, Robert de Niro won an Oscar for his portrayal of the young Vito Corleone.

Al Pacino The Godfather II

1. The Godfather I

This is one of the best movies in history, not only from the fans’ point of view, but from the critics’ side as well. In 1971, Al Pacino had his first lead role in “The Panic in the Needle Park”, but his performance in The Godfather turned him into a star. Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece soon became one of the most influential in the gangster film genre. If you haven’t watched the best Al Pacino movies, better start with this one!

MBDGODF EC003

5 Famous Street Artists in 2014

Street artists become famous when their work manages to capture some of the most acute societal tensions. The street is used as a message board composed out of various urban infrastructural elements. Some street artists aim for the widest direct audience when they choose the placement of their art pieces. Others prefer to position their projects on specific sites that are not easily accessible, relying on the Internet for the wider public. Most street artists, however, worked in both types of areas during their careers.

The fascination with street art stems from the artistic inspiration the artists display when choosing ingenious combinations of materials. They make surprising connections between various components of the public realm clear while skillfully adapting their technique to new material. Check out these 5 famous street artists in 2014!

1. Borondo

Borondo is a young Spanish artist born in 1989. His technique is a novel adaptation to the old art street problem, dealing with the police. Scratching painted windows hardly qualifies as a crime. His work is inspired by the latest harsh economic crisis.

”Where the crisis strikes, you will notice many shops that are either closed or empty. If you scratch the window slightly you will suddenly be able to see the inside of the shop. I find that quite poetic, glass has something beautiful about it. Sometimes I like to do the opposite of that. I apply black paint on commercial spotlights and by scratching the paint off the spotlight, I allow light to pass through,” Borondo said.

Borondo2. Vulpes Vulpes

The Baltimore-based street artist has a passion for foxes. By awarding the fox with human attributes, Vulpes Vulpes sends messages both through legal murals, as well as through hidden from view placements in former Yougoslavia and Turkey, as Complex.com informs us. Again, the consequences of the economic recession are visible in pieces such as ‘Solidarity Forever’.

Vulpes Vulpes

3. M-City

The Polish street artist born in 1978 has a black and white signature style he uses to picture various urban processes. Some of his works portray stylized heavy industrial machines.  A recent work of one of the most famous street artists of 2014 is this impressive mural from an unknown Istanbul location. The UFO absorbing the police cars may be a message of the artist’s hope that forms of social control will be eradicated when an unknown future social force will be fully effective.

M-City

 

4. Axel Void

Axel void was born in 1986 in Miami, but lived in Spain from an early age. He returned to Miami, where he currently resides, after finishing his art studies at several Spanish universities. “Nada”, a piece completed several months ago sits on an abandoned train in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The southern state Oaxaca is one of the poorest from Mexico. Trains departing from the region often carry people who attempt to cross the border to find a better life in the U.S. The painting portrays a Mexican who was assaulted while attempting to reach the U.S. by ‘La Bestia’, a famous train connecting the Southern and the Northern parts of Mexico. Migration is a common process in poor areas and Axel Void managed to provide a powerful image by connecting the means of mobility with the pains caused by structural economic factors.

Axel Void

5. Case Ma’Claim and Pixel Pancho

The collaboration between Case Ma’Claim and Pixel Pancho provided this elaborate image of how technological advancement is integrated into human interaction. Pixel is an expert in robotic elements, while Case, one of the Ma’Calim crew members, focused his previous work around images of hands. Thus, the result was somehow predictable as a concept, but the result itself is mesmerizing. Case is already one of the famous street artists with over 15 years of experience, but this duo with Pixel in NYC is a new project.

Case Ma'Claim and Pixel Pancho

 

Selection inspired by the efforts of Complex.com

 

A Glimpse Into the Forbidden City

China is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia. While there are many fascinating sights to see, the Forbidden City remains one of the country’s most important landmarks in Beijing. The mere mention of the Ancient Forbidden City creates images of the unattainable. Actually, the city was off-limits to outsiders for a very long time. It was only in 1925 that the Gugon, as it is now called, opened to the public. Nowadays, everyone can experience the interesting history of the Ming Dynasty and revel in the deep secrets of China.

The Forbidden City,Beijing,China

Where is the Forbidden City? – In the historic Centre of Beijing

What is the Forbidden City? – It is the impressive Imperial Place constructed by the Ming dynasty which has served emperors and their households for over 500 years.

Zijin Cheng, the Forbidden City China, is currently listed by UNESCo as the largest collection of preserved wooden structures. It spans over 720.000 sqm and holds approximately 900 buildings and 9.999 rooms. The impressive architecture & furniture of the Forbidden City dates back to 1406, and re-tells the story of exactly 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties. According to Chinese culture, the construction required over one million workers (and 100.000 artisans).

The Forbidden City is an architectural master-piece with great cultural significance. It measures 961 meters from north to south, and 753 from East to West. It was designed as the cradle of ancient Chinese culture, within the city of Beijing. The monument is enclosed by a walled area called the Imperial City, and the Imperial City is also enclosed by the Inner City. Even if it ceased to be a political center, the China Forbidden City still plays an important role for society: it remains Beijing’s central axis that leads to the Tiananmen Square & Gate. There are also historical facts which support the theory that the other axis was aligned to the country’s secondary capital, Xanadu.

The Forbidden City,Beijing,China

The Plan of the Forbidden City is divided between the Inner and Outer Courts. This means that you can visit any of the following places: The West & East Glorious Gates, the Gates of Divine Might, Hall of Literary Glory and Military Eminence, Hall of Mental Cultivation, Palace of Tranquil Longevity, Southern Tree Places, the Palace of Heavenly Purity (of Providence) and the Gate & Hall of Supreme Harmony. If you do not have time, or are not allowed to check all these locations you can also take virtual tours online. It is also advised that tourists take a look at the map and pictures of the Forbidden City before visiting it so that they have time to see everything. Another good idea would be to book hotels or an inn in Beijing, closer to the Forbidden City.

Most of the visiting time will be focused on the Forbidden’s City sequence of pavilions of beautiful courtyards. Literally every rock has a purpose in the entire ensemble of the garden, and every element of architecture has unique symbolism. One of the most breath-taking locations is in the Inner Palaces, where the Ming Emperors resided. The Hall of Mental Cultivation, a place where many rulers lived and held court, are now home to inumerable objects of great value from that age (household objects, jewelry, furnishings, furniture, etc.). Some have described this art as “Manchu Frumpy”, given the dearth of other authentic recreations, but it should clearly not be missed as it echoes the age of a forgotten era.

The Forbidden City,Beijing,China

Besides walking through the large courtyards, you can also enjoy a spectacular view of the Forbidden City from the north, atop of Coal Hill (Jingshan Park). This hill was made from the dirt excavated from the Forbidden City, and accoridng to Feng Shui, it keeps evil spirits away.

Interesting Facts: Very few musicians are allowed to hold concerts in the Forbidden City. Jean Michelle Jarre was one of them,

Forbidden City Visiting Hours: 8:30 am – 4:00 pm

 

9 Socialist Modernist Buildings that Look Straight Out of Science Fiction

1. Bank of Georgia, Tbilisi.

The Lego like building was finished in 1975. One of the architects, George Chakhava, was the client as well, as he was acting Deputy Minister of highway construction. It was a very convenient situation, as he was able to choose the exact location. As you can see, the structure seems to float. The architects employed the ‘Space City Method’ – using minimal building footprint to award as much of the land as possible back to the nature. Hippie indeed! The building is 18 floors tall and has a total surface of 13.500 square feet. Bank of Georgia decided to buy the building in 2007 and renovated it completely, ensuring that future generations will have the chance to admire one of the most striking socialist modernist buildings.

State Department for Traffic Tbilisi

2. House of Soviets, Kaliningrad.

Kaliningrad is an exclave of Russia, basically the closest piece of Russian land to Western Europe. Before 1946, the area and the seaport Kaliningrad belonged to East Prussia, part of the German state of Prussia. Until 1969, Konigsberg Castle, an old Teutonic structure lied where the ‘Buried Robot’ is placed. This picture right here portrays the House of Soviets, a construction erected by the soviets starting with 1970. Starting with, because it was never actually finished. There were a couple of construction problems. First, they realized that building upon the old castle structure was not feasible, thus cutting 7 floors down. Secondly, they ran out of funding in 1985.

House of Soviets, Kaliningrad

3. Slovak Radio Building, Bratislava

The inverted pyramid has been included in the list of 30 most ugliest buildings in the world. Some find it fascinating, though. The 80 meters high construction houses a large concert hall and the Slovak Radio since 1984, a year after it was completed.

Slovak Radio, Bratislava

4. Russia Cinema, Yerevan

The odd construction erected in 1974 houses two movie halls. It was turned into a market place recently.

Cinema Russia, Yerevan

5. State Circus, Bucharest.

The wavy roofed building was finished in 1961 and is now included in the list of protected monuments, rara avis for post-socialist countries. As usually was the cases for such buildings, it was aimed at providing culture for working class neighborhoods.

State Circus, Bucharest

6. Drujba Hotel, Yalta.

Drujba means friendship in Russia, a beautiful choice exhibited by the sheer simplicity and warmth awarded by its symmetry. The hotel was constructed in 1984 by Czechoslovak architects and has a capacity of 400 people. The panorama must be gorgeous.

drujba hotel yalta

 

7. Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex

Demirchyan Complex sits on a hill in northwestern Yerevan. The impressive building hosts four large rooms for concerts, sports, a foyer and diplomatic events. The first years were troublesome, as a fire forced the authorities to close it in 1985, less than two years since the opening. In 1987 it was reopen for the public. An Armenian running a business in Moscow decided to buy the building from the Government. After three years of intense and very costly ($42 million) renovation, the building was found in an excellent shape back in 2008. The Government decided to take it back in August 2014, because the owner’s debt increased.

hamalir, Yerevan

8. Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

When the construction of this building complex started in 1974, the plans must have seemed terribly impressive. Probably at the time of its completion, 1994, it gradually lost some of its grandeur. The golden metal accessories of the 23 stories high main building lit up at night and are knick-named ‘the golden brains’ by the Russians.

Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow

9. Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria

Buzludha is the name of the mountain peak where this alien spaceship rests. The Bulgarian Communist Party decided in 1981 to comemorate 100 years since the the first socialist movement was founded, which happened right in the area. Unfortunately, the Star Trek-like construction fell out of grace and is now in an advanced state of disrepair. Buzludzha is one of the most exquisite examples of futuristic architecture from a socialist country.

Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria

 

6 Impressive Central and Eastern European Castles

Central and Eastern European countries share only one historical commonalty, they have been socialist countries for many decades. However, their architectural heritage is quite diverse and the region houses some of the most impressive castles in the world. Each of these countries possesses impressive numbers of fortresses, castles and palaces, so picking just six of them is quite a burden. Nevertheless, here are six impressive Central and Eastern European castles.

1. Prague Castle – Czech Republic

Prague Castle

Prague Castle is listed as the largest ancient castle in the world by Guinness Book of Records, with an area of approximately 70.000 square meters. The first parts of the castle were erected in 870 AD. The castle is actually an ensemble of religious and administrative buildings. As a result, the architectural style is quite diverse and presents traces of influential trends from the last millennium. Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors used to reside there and now the castle houses the President of the Czech Republic.

2. Buda Castle – Hungary

Buda CastleThe impressive Hungarian castle located in Budapest is old as well. The first completed version is dated back to the year 1265. The hilly castle location allowed Hungarian kings and rulers to have the best gaze over their closest subjects from Pest, located just across the Danube. The present shape of the main building was given in the 19th century. The whole area surrounding the castle is classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site, as it contains well preserved medieval and baroque buildings.

3. Hunyad Castle – Romania

Hunyad Castle

The Gothic Renaissance castle is located roughly in the middle of Romania in the Southern Transylvanian city of Hunedoara. The region itself is filled with medieval castles, but the Hunyad Castle is one of the most impressive, even if Bran Castle is probably more famous. Vlad the Impaler, Bram Stoker’s inspiration for the Dracula myth, was held prisoner here for a while by Hungarian leaders. Hunyad Castle was built in 1446, while the last modifications were made in the 19th century. This castle is considered to be one of the most fairy-tale like Eastern European castles.

4. Malbork Castle – Poland

Malbork Castle

The 13th century castle is famous for a couple of reasons. Marlbork Castle is the largest brick building in Europe. Moreover, it is the largest castle in the world by surface area, taking all its adjacent buildings into account. The castle was completed in 1406 by Teutonic Knights, making it one of the most impressive Central and Eastern European Castles. The Teutonic Order who founded the castle called it Marienburg (Mary’s Castle) and the reason they chose this location was to exert influence over the newly conquered territory. What an impressive statement!

5. Bratislava Castle – Slovakia

Bratislava Castle

The second castle from this list neighboring the Danube is the pride of Slovakia. The castle site connects the Carpathians and the Alps so the region is inhabited for several thousand years. The earliest efforts to erect the castle date back to the 9th century. During the 11th and 12th centuries, a pre-Romanesque stone palace is mentioned to have been placed on the site. Maria Theresa was the last ruler to have the widest influence over Bratislave Castle, which was turned into a luxurious Rococo structure. A fire destroyed the castle in 1811, which was partially rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s.

6. Otocec Castle – Slovenia

Otocec Castle

Otocec castle is the only water castle from Slovenia. The 13th century building has a certain charm which helped it become a successful five stars hotel. Otocec Castle lies on an island on the Iazy Krka River. Historically, lords and noblemen inhabited it and the present day aspect was shaped during the Renaissance. The classical castle doesn’t need thorough description, as the picture accurately conveys the dreamy atmosphere only a water castle can possess.