Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Unemployed boring person seeks movie therapy

Hey There!

Highlights/lowlights from last couple of weeks:

  1. Quite a few big movie reviews to catch up on – see below.
  2. My brand spanking new heart rate monitor finally arrived. A Chilli red Polar F11 - http://www.polarusa.com/products/fseries/f11.asp?cat=consumer. It rocks! Over the lasts 1.5 weeks since getting it, I have exercised off at least 4791 calories. That includes 12kms of running, 12kms more than I’ve run for the rest of the year! Awesome!
  3. Baby Shower for Katherine! (See photo) Not long to go now!
  4. Stu has finally popped the big question, and Karen & Stu are blissfully engaged – see their blog (http://vamanos2006.blogspot.com/ ). Yay!
  5. Found a most bodacious breakfast blog for places around Melbourne: www.thebreakfastblog.blogspot.com (or see link in side bar -->)
  6. My very handsome dancing buddy has gone far away for 6 weeks :~ (

Apologies for the lack of exciting blog content, but I keep forgetting to both take my camera places and use it, and not all that much happening right now. Will make a much bigger effort for the next blog entry!

Love g




<>The Mother-to-be-of-honour, Katherine
<>Oh No, not another present!!!

Random coastal photo on a random drive to Mt Eliza :)




Take the Lead: 2.75/5

Cast: Antonio Banderas (Mr Melanie Griffiths, Zorro, Desperado)

In a Nutshell: Routine teacher-makes-good-with-problem-students movie. Nothing new here, but takes advantage of the latest craze of ballroom dancing.

Synopsis: Based on the true story of Pierre Duclaine, tells of how a ballroom teacher takes a group of no-hoper students for detention and tries to inspire and teach them the lessons of life.

It’s ok, probably not as inspirational as it could be. We’ve seen it all before… try To Sir with Love, Dead Poet’s Society, Mr Holland’s Opus, Dangerous Minds, The Mighty Ducks (Hey! - That movie rocked!). A lot of resulting corn. Perhaps more should have been made of the dancing (for better dancing movies, refer to Strictly Ballroom or Centre Stage). Having said all that, it was still enjoyable.

X-Men: The Last Stand: 3.5/5

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Hally Berry, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden (all of them were in the previous X-men instalments), Kelsey Grammar (Frasier), Vinnie Jones (Lock Stock).

In a Nutshell: Entertaining piece of escapism if you can indulge in a little suspension of disbelief at some of the holes in the plot. Good enough, but not quite as tight as the first two.

Synopsis: Humans have discovered a way to “cure” mutants of their affliction. The X-Men must pick sides in the fight between Magneto’s growing army and the ignorant humans.

Being the “last” instalment (Really?? Truly?), the writers have gone to town. The characters are a bit like the yo-yo fad – in one minute, gone the next. Some old characters disappear – the best thing about the 2nd movie – Night Crawler (Alan Cumming) is nowhere to be seen (I heard he didn’t want to do the movie) and new characters appear from nowhere – the blue man, ie. Beast, debuts as Secretary of Mutant Affairs on the President’s cabinet – surely such an important figure should have rated a mention before? His character doesn’t add all that much and he just reminds me of Teenwolf. It feels like there is too much chopping and changing, and a general lack of a cohesive vision in the storytelling, perhaps this is due to the loss of the director Brian Singer to Superman. The budget seems to have gone to effects rather than the story - Why is there suddenly a mutant rating system? How is it that Wolverine can suddenly regenerate immediately? How does Juggernaut still manage to smash things without momentum? How the hell does a man infinitely produce penis sized thorns which are good for wounding enemies? Etc. Etc. Having said that, it was a fun movie, the last half hour was probably the best bit witg an unexpected solution and some genuine humour thrown in. Vinnie Jones is classic as Juggernaut. Stay for the end of the credits.

The Da Vinci Code: 3.5/5

Cast: Tom Hanks (Castaway, Forrest Gump), Audrey Tatou (Amelie), Sir Ian McKellen (What big budget movie is he not in?), Alfred Molina (Frida, Spiderman 2), Jean Reno (French Kiss, Ronin), Paul Bettany (Wimbledon, A Beautiful Mind)

In a Nutshell: Doesn’t live up to the hype, but entertaining thriller none the less.

Synopsis: Famous symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptographer Sophie Neveu investigate the strange murder of Louvre curator Jacques Sauniere.

As with most adaptations, don’t go and see this if the book is still fresh in your mind, because the book is much better, even if the critics didn’t like it. I also found myself expecting even more plot twists than there were because I was confusing the Da Vinci Code with Angels and Demons. With such wealth of talent – Ron Howard usually does a superb job, and what a stellar cast (some of my favourites) – you wonder why it was a let down. Was the starting material weak to begin with or was there just too much hype? Hanks and Tatou are ok, but don’t exactly make their characters jump of the page. Molina is unusally disappointing, perhaps he had too little air time. Bettany is not as intimidating as I remember Silas being. Reno doesn’t really do that much. Only McKellen really makes something of his character. Your average murder mystery really.

MI:3: 3.5/5

Cast: Tom Cruise (Mr Scientologist), Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Billy Cruddup (Almost Famous), Laurence Fishburne (Matrix), Jonathan Rhys Myers (Bend it like Beckam, Matchpoint)

In a Nutshell: Way better than the second, but nothing particularly new and exciting to make it better than the first.

Synopsis: After a stint in retirement and a foray into romance and engagement, Ethan Hunt is called back to service. However, after messing with the wrong bad guy, he finds himself forced to undergo a new mission impossible in order to save his true love. Awwwwww.

I have to admit to missing the first 15-20mins, but I figured I probably didn’t miss much. Very enjoyable action movie, not completely dumb, but also nothing particularly original about it (Seems to be the theme of this month’s movies). Would have liked to have seen more screen time for PSH and Cruddup, they were somewhat wasted. The highlight of the movie may well have been sitting in the lush beanbags at the Halfpipe at the new Melbourne Central cinemas. You should try it if you haven’t already!




Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dance & Charm School: 2.5/5

Cast: Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Trainspotting), Marissa Tomei (famed for accidentally winning an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny), Mark Wahlberg (Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch!), John Goodman (Rosanne), Mary Steenbergen (Parenthood)

In a Nutshell: Offbeat humour with intermittent flashbacks that keep the movie rolling. The characters are not as loveable as they should be, and this keeps you at arms length from the movie.

Synopsis: Man, who is depressed after losing his wife, has a chance meeting with a dying man, leading him to a dance school that may well change his life.

Not a bad movie. Slightly quirky and optimistic. I like the way the flashbacks are worked in. The dance scenes are a little strange, but fun. Robert Carlyle is vaguely endearing... but for some reason overall the movie is missing a spark of some sort. The acting doesn’t seem all that heartfelt.

Mysterious Skin: 3.5/5

Cast: Joseph Goron-Levitt (3rd Rock from the Sun, 10 Things I hate about you), Brady Corbett (Thirteen), Elizabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas)

In a Nutshell: Extremely brave and powerful movie making, dealing with the serious and taboo issue of paedophilia. Well made and acted, but hard to watch in parts, as it should be.

Synopsis: Two teens, one is missing chunks of his memory and is convinced he was abducted by aliens; the other is living destructively and selling his body. Gradually they remember how this came to be and the connection they have.

Extremely brave movie making. Equally brave acting. Very powerful, sad and disturbing. Found it a little difficult to feel as sympathetic towards the main characters as I would have liked, as they become such outcasts and strange characters, but I guess that is the point.

Stay: 2/5

Cast: Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, SW Eps 1-3), Ryan Gosling (The Notebook), Naomi Watts (King Kong, Mulholland Drive)

In a Nutshell: Arty thriller movie that doesn’t quite work

Synopsis: A psychiatrist (McGregor) treating a disturbed patient (Gosling) who is planning to commit suicide starts to question his own sanity.

The movie is awkward and clinical. It was so exciting that I’ve already forgotten what happened. Oh yeah… uh…probably better that I did forget. Not a particularly watchable movie, gets some points for some effort at being a bit stylised.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

BITS & PIECES – a much needed catchup

Apologies for such a long gap between entries. After 4 weeks of intense box office work, I now find myself unemployed again. At least I’ll have more time to update my blog! Here are some photos and reviews which are long overdue – sorry, the festival is over, but enjoy the reviews anyway.

love g

Belated pictures from bowling – Geordie’s birthday

Thanks to Geord for the photos!

We love you!

Rob goes in for the kill.

Geoff - in deep concentration.
Be one with the boule Geoffrey.

Paul - he's the man!
Anyone who can bowl two shots in a row that touch the jack is a FREAK!

Gluten Free Freak gets stuck into the Gluten Free Food
Sonia - nice going - two glasses at once! Impressive.

When you are close to knocking out your woman with the amount of smoke coming off your birthday cake, it's a sign you are getting old!!!



Demetri Martin - Dr Earnest Parrot presents (22/4/2006)

Demetri, Demetri – oh how I love thee. Demetri did two shows this year. This is his story show. He tells us of how his psychiatrist Dr Earnest Parrot diagnoses him with a ‘Brain Nook’ and goes on to explain what events triggered this phenomenon and what is in the ‘Brain Nook’. Demetri ended up winning this year’s Barry award this show. An extremely well prepared show with plenty of slides and music, and yet it never seems contrived. Such a delightful and personal gig, he sucks you in and makes you want to hug him. Awwhhhhh....

(For those unfamilar with his work, check out the poem "Dammit I'm Mad" on his website, www.demetrimartin.com, under the Other Things tab - it is way cool!)

Danny Bhoy (29/4/2006)

Danny Bhoy sold out about 22 shows at the Atheneum theatre, breaking the record for the most tickets sold at a MICF (Ross Noble held the record for his effort last year). Having seen him a few years ago, I wondered what the fuss was about. After seeing the show, my questioned were answered. Not only is he a good looking charming young man with an accent, but he is pretty funny too. His delivery has improved out of sight, and while you know parts of his show are well scripted, it is hard to tell which bits are and which bits aren’t.

Demetri Martin – These are other jokes (3/5/2006)

This was Demetri’s other show, the stand up one. A little disappointing. While some parts of it were very funny – eg. Demetri’s research presented in a series of bar charts (what can I say, deep down I’m still partly actuarial), it felt like much of the show was Demetri trying out new jokes for his next “real” show. Possibly the highlights of the show were when he was adlibbing and interacting with the audience, if but briefly. In particular, there was the woman sitting behind us who seriously had a laugh like Woody Woodpecker.

Sam Simmons – Tales from the Erotic Cat (7/5/2006)

Sam Simmons was one of the quiet achievers of the festival. Not a big name, but got himself a Barry Award nomination and sold out shows. F@#$ this was a weird show. Laughs were borne more out of the ridiculousness of what this strange man was spouting on stage. Still not sure whether I should have been laughing or crying for this man whose best friend is a Ficus plant.



American Dreamz: 2.5/5

Disappointing. Having seen Mandy Moore in Saved! I thought this would be a similar sort of intelligent satirical conversation. Perhaps that was where the writers started with it, but that is not what happened on screen. Did they dumb it down for the average movie goer or was it beyond my intelligence? I don’t know, but I would like to thing the former. J It feels like they just take the joke too far. Most of the characters are one dimensional with the expections of Mandy Moore who perhaps managers an extra half a character and Dennis Quaid who has successfully managed to create a character with no dimensions. Only Sam Golzari as Omer manages to be somewhat human.