Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Selected photos from 2005


My second post already! These photos have been sitting on my camera for months now... just thought I'd stick a few of the better ones here...

love g

Paul, Tania, Daniella & Frank @ Cancer Benefit at the Aquarium

Amy, Cheryl, Gayle, Katherine, Sonia, Renee @ Cooking School, Craigielea

The Tree House at Cooking School, Craigielea

Chris, Kathryn, Sus, Katherine, Andrew, Gayle & Amy at Cape Liptrap

The Lighthouse at Point Liptrap

Rob & his pub coffee in a camping mug @ Wye River

B1&B2 at Amanda & Stu's 30th Birthday

James Bond at Amanda & Stu's 30th Birthday

Frank, Kumaran, Rob, Geordie, Suzy, Renee, Paul, Gayle, Tidha, Tania, Sophie, Cath, Geoff
Christmas in November

Disco Tone

Daniella & me at the AXA Staff Christmas Party

Sticks & Stones @ Point Roadknight

Tania & Karen @ Point Roadknight Beach

Tania amongst the sticks @ Point Roadknight

Rocks at Point Roadknight

Geoff & Cath @ Point Roadknight

New Year's Eve @ Gilhaven, Point Roadknight

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Have a Happy Australia Day!

Welcome to my blog! I anticipate that eventually it will contain some thoughtful thoughts and hopefully some travelogs...

In anticipation of the 'sort of long weekend'... here are my personal thoughts on some movies... both at the cinema and from your local shop... Keep in mind, I have weird taste..I expect some abuse back!




Memoirs of a Geisha: 3/5

Cast: Zhang Ziyi (Hero, House of Flying Daggers), Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow never dies), Gong Li (2046, Raise the Red Lantern), Ken Watanabe (The last Samurai)

In a few words: Beautiful, but lacking the emotion it potentially could have

Synopsis: Sayuri remembers how she became one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha, despite her impoverished beginnings and the jealous Hatsumomo.

I had heard a lot about what the reviews had been saying… that the three Chinese women in the three main Japanese roles and their broken English detract from the movie and hinder their acting. But I have to disagree. Apart from a few occasions when it was difficult to understand the dialogue, once you got used to their accents and settled into the movie, it was enjoyable. Extremely well shot. Watanabe is excellent as he always is (and he is Japanese!), as is Gong Li, and the little girl who plays the young Chiyo is gorgeous, and a good match for Zhang Ziyi. That said, it didn’t quite draw me in as well as the book did, perhaps the characters and their relationships are not quite as strong and explosive as they should be and it ends up feeling a bit long.


Nanny McPhee: 3.5/5

Cast: Colin Firth (Bridget Jones, Pride & Prejudice (BBC)), Emma Thompson(Sense & Sensibility, Love Actually), Kelly McDonald (Trainspotting, Finding Neverland) , Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake)

In a few worlds: Just Gorgeous

Quick Synopsis: A widowed undertaker has 7 horrible children who have already frightened 17 nannies away. Then the very ugly Nanny McPhee arrives and teaches them a few lessons in how to behave.

That Emma Thompson is one smart lady, she wrote the screenplay, based on the story ‘Nurse Matilda’. Such a cute plot, and such a colourful and fun kids movie. The children in it are gorgeous and so are the adults. Imelda Staunton is delightful as the cook, and Emma Thompson plays Nanny McPhee both obviously and subtley as required. It is perfect for children, maybe not quite as satisfying for adults although a lot of fun and a very well told fairytale in general. _______________________________________________

The Producers: 3.5/5

Cast: Nathan Lane (Bird Cage), Matthew Broderick(Ferris Bueller's Day Off), Uma Thurman (Kill Bill 1&2), Wil Ferrell (Zoolander, Elf)

In a few words: Very fun and very camp.

Quick Synopsis: Musical about two stage producers who try to stage a flop after discovering they can make a lot of money that way.

Not quite a successful adaptation of a stage musical to movie as Chicago, but extremely enjoyable none the less. This feels like a stage musical on screen, the acting is way over top and every now and then the cast break out into a stage number. Once you get used to this though, in true Mel Brooks style, there are laughs at every turn. Having not seen the original screen non-musical version I cannot say whether this updated movie is any better or worse, however it is just as good, if not better than seeing the show live on stage… with the exception of Bert Newton who I enjoyed more than Wil Ferrell in the role of the crazy Hitler loving German.


The Family Stone: 3.75/5

Cast: Diane Keaton (First Wive's Club, The Godfather), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex & the City), Dermott Mulroney (My best friend's wedding, Copycat), Claire Danes (Romeo & Juliet), Luke Wilson (Old School, Royal Tenenbaums), Rachael McAdams (The notebook, Meangirls).

In a few words: Wonderful. Bring the tissues.

Quick Synopsis: Man brings home his uptight girlfriend to meet the family at Christmas. No matter how hard she tries, they hate her.

Funny and moving. Large ensemble cast, but each player has its place in the story. The end result if somewhat obvious and predictable, but it is how the story is told that keeps interest. Diane Keaton, as always, is brilliant. SJP is just Carrie in a movie, but maybe a little more vulnerable without her girlfriends! Having said that, she was perfect for the part. Claire Danes is surprisingly less in earnest than usual. And the rest of the supporting cast were all charming. Keep in mind though I will love anything that Luke Wilson is in!


Good Night, and Good luck: 3/5

Cast: David Strathairn (LA Confidential), George Clooney (ER, Ocean's 11&12), Robert Downey Jnr (Chaplin), Patricia Clarkson (The Pledge, pieces of April). Directed by George Clooney.

In a few words: Very well made historic commentary.

Quick Synopsis: Follows the story of how TV journalist Ed Murrow and his team exposed Senator McCarthy for exploiting the paranoia surrounding communism in the USA in the 1950’s.

This is the movie that could possibly upset the favourite, Brokeback Mountain, for the Best Movie Oscar in 2006. Having said that, it didn’t really do it for me. It is an extremely well made and clever movie and I didn’t fall asleep. However, I did not feel involved emotionally. More like a documentary, it examines the role of the media in politics. I wondered while watching it whether the movie would have been more significant to me had I lived through that era.


Rumour Has It: 2/5

Cast: Jennifer Aniston (Friends), Kevin Costner (Dances with wolves, Robin Hood), Shirley MacLaine (In her shoes, Sweet Charity), Mark Ruffalo (Eternal Sunshine..., We don't live here anymore), Mena Suvari (American Beauty)

In a few words: Average Chick Flick

Quick Synopsis: Woman who seems to have it all goes through an identity crisis and sleeps with the man who had previously slept with her mother and also her grandmother.

Last half hour was good – funny and poignant, but seemed to meander and take a not so interesting path to get to the point. Parts of it were hard to watch. Kevin Costner’s character is very vague and it’s hard to figure out why all these women would sleep with him! Shirley MacLaine was brilliant in a small role. Aniston was ok but not so different from the usual role she plays. Mark Ruffalo is good as always, but he should be playing meatier roles. ___________________________________

Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire 4.25/5

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman (Yay – love the Snape), Maggie Smith etc.

In a few words: Edge of the seat stuff. Excellent.

Quick Synopsis: A year older, the kids have hormones to deal with, and on top of that Harry has the Tri-wizard cup and the return of ‘He who must not be named’ to overcome. Absolutely loved this.

These movies just keep getting better, one senses the best is yet to come. Without a doubt the best HP movie so far. It’s much darker and more adult that the last few movies, not really for children below the age of 10. But the imagination that has gone into bringing this story of magic to lift is amazing. Watch for the international Quidditch match especially. The kids are also getting older and the touches of young teenage romance are gorgeous. Having read the book a long while ago, I had forgotten most of the story, and found myself on the edge of my seat… both times I watched this instalment!!


The chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: 3/5

Cast: Tilda Swinton (Constantine, The Beach), Liam Neeson (Love Actually, Phantom Menace) & the kids

In a few words: Wistful, magical and enjoyable. Return to childhood.

Quick Synopsis: Four orphans go to live in an old house and find a wardrobe that leads to a fantasy world where the evil White Queen has enforced eternal winter and the animals talk.

Having read the book so long ago, I am unable to say whether the movie is a faithful adaptation. However, following in the Harry Potter vein, I would hazard a guess and say it is probably close to word for word. While not in the league of the Rings trilogy, it enchanted me all the way back to my childhood! The children are all wonderful, in particular the eldest son is a bit of a hunk (or at least will be!!) and the youngest daughter is delightful. Tilda Swinton is the perfect snow queen. And the wonders of CGI bring Aslan to life such that you forget that Lions can’t actually talk. Special mention to Mr Tumnus the fawn – he’s a sweetheart! Don’t be expecting epic battle scenes and dramatic angst… this is a kids movie…so it’s all a bit easy in the end.



The Truth About Love: 0.25/5

Cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt (I know what you did last summer), Dougray Scott(Ever After, MI2), Jimi Mistry (The Guru)

In a few words: Don’t watch it!

Quick Synopsis: Woman receives a valentine from her husband’s best friend. Mistakenly thinking it is from her husband she returns the favour. The situation starts to get complicated when he agrees to meet with his “anonymous admirer”.

What possessed me to watch this...I do not know.

Despite the reasonable cast – who could pass up the star of The Ghost Whisperer (according to Channel 7, watch it to find out why Australia loves it!?!?)?, the plot is so ridiculous and the characters so annoying, what’s to like?


Sky High: 3.5/5

Cast: Kurt Russell (Big Trouble in Little China, Tango & Cash), Kelly Preston (Jerry McGuire) & the kids

In a few words: Fun! Worth a watch.

Quick Synopsis: The son of the world’s most powerful superheroes starts super hero high school. The problem is he has not super powers.

I actually enjoyed this more than I was expecting to. A cross between The Incredibles and any self respecting teen flick (ref. Mean Girls, Clueless, Princess Diaries etc). What it has up on your normal teenage angst ridden story line is that the kids have super powers! Cool! …and just like puberty, there are some early bloomers, late bloomers and evil arch enemies of course! Look out for Linda Carter minus the cuffs and lasso as the principal.


Monster-In-Law: 2/5

Cast: Jane Fonda (Nine to Five, The China Syndrome), J.Lo (Out of Sight, Gigli), Michael Vartan (Alias)

In a few words: Funny, but too over the top and of little consequence.

Quick Synopsis: Woman’s mother-in-law to be is a monster. It was ok, but I found Jane Fonda’s character too ridiculous.


The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants: 3/5

Cast: Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls), America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves), Blake Lively

In a few words: Sweet & touching teenage chick flick.

Quick Synopsis: Four best friends find a pair of jeans that they can magically all fit into. About to spend the summer apart, they decide to take turns at wearing the pants for a week each to see what luck they might bring.

Some of it is very corny. But generally it is a good movie with some genuinely heart felt moments (ie. I cried a lot). Very much a teenage chick flick.


Red Eye: 2.1/5

Cast: Rachael McAdams (The Notebook, Meangirls), Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins)

In a few words: Suspenseful, but doesn’t quite make it.

Quick Synopsis: Woman sits next to a man on a plane who forces her to make a phone call that will lead to a murder otherwise he will have her father killed.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I found the general storyline of this movie a little hard to believe. The whole scenario on the plane seemed a little ludicrous. Rachael McAdams holds the movie up. Cillian Murphy is suitably creepy and scary, but I am a little sick of seeing him stereotype cast as the evil dude, he can do better.


Beauty Shop: 2/5

Cast: Queen Latifah (Chicago), Kevin Bacon (Footloose, The Woodsman), Alicia Silverstone (Clueless), Mena Suvari (American Beauty), Andie McDowell (Greencard).

In a few words: Not as bad as you would think

Quick Synopsis: Woman working in a hairdresser, sick of her unreasonable boss, quits and opens up her own shop.

A good indication that I have seen too many movies lately – I found myself in the video shop choosing between Beauty Shop and Bewitched. This movie wasn’t great, but wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Not much of a storyline but vaguely entertaining in some parts.


Little Fish: 3/5

Cast: Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, The Lord of the Rings), Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, The Piano), Noni Hazelhurst (Playschool!), Martin Henderson (The Ring, Bride & Prejudice), Dustin Nyguen (Viet guy on 21 Jump St!)

In a few words: Powerful acting, but on the boring side.

Quick Synopsis: Recovered heroin addict faces an uphill battle to overcome prejudices at the bank, friends still doing heroin and a brother and ex-boyfriend still dealing in drugs.

Such good acting and meaty characters…and yet I found it quite difficult to stay interested. Very possibly it was late at night and I had watched too many movies recently. Maybe because I could not identify with the characters. Or maybe because it was a bit like a biography where you follow someone’s life but in the end there will be no plot twist or grand climax because life just keeps on going... well, until you die!


Bewitched: 1/5

Cast: Wil Ferrell (Old School, The Legend of Ron Burgundy), Nicole Kidman (The Hours, Moulin Rouge), Shirley MacLaine (Guarding Tess, Steel Magnolias), Michael Caine (Alfie - the original, Batman Begins).

In a few words: It’s as bad as everyone says

Synopsis: Jack Wyatt looks for an unknown to play the witch in a new version of the TV show Bewitched. Little does he know that she really is a witch.

Yep, well, I was desperate. Surprisingly, the first half hour or so of the movie is ok. I really did try to give it a go to spite the critics, however it is all downhill from that point onwards. Nothing that follows is logical, and the characters are really stupid. Nicole Kidman seems lost in the part. Is it her, or is it the script? I don’t know. I know the movie is about make believe, but there is no realism or sense in this movie at all.