Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy weekend!

Good Day Dear Readers!

Hope this sees you all well and with a swell consititution!

It's the weekend again. Lovely.

This week in Darwin it was only a four day week because monday was a public holiday - May Day. Equivalent of Labour Day I think. Love it.

Work is going pretty well. I'm really enjoy the people, and while the work is sometimes a bit on the boring side, it's generally not too bad. Two Friday mornings ago, I got up at some ridiculous hour (Gideon's normal waking time) and went to a breakfast function for Office Professionals, and won a pamper package as one of the door prizes... woohoo!

It's definitely dry season here now. I don't think it has rained since Geordie and Sophie left, and that was about 4-5 weeks ago. It's amazing. It is like a switch has been flicked somewhere. The bonus of that is that the temperature feels about 5 degrees lower, even if it isn't, because it is just not as humid. What that also means is that the tourist season has started to pick up. It's amazing, there are tourists everywhere, and it's really obvious who are the tourists and who are the locals. The huge backpacks give it away for a start. The coming of dry season also means that there are more things to do around Darwin. The deck-chair cinema has started up, which is supposed to be a great thing to do. The Mindil Beach market is another.

Two Thursday's ago, Gideon and I headed down to Mindil Beach for the first market of the year. I had heard so many things about the great variety of food, and was fully expecting to sample the exemplary laksa I had heard about. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed. There were lots of food stalls, but apart from a very small handful of authentic looking stalls, the food was not that different from the deepfried bain marie stuff that you get in food courts in shopping malls. The craft stalls were also not wholly exciting either. Still, it seems to be a good place for locals and tourists to hang out. In fact, it seems that all the 15 year olds in Darwin were there, hanging out in cliques, smoking their cigarettes. Probably the best part of the night were the opening night fireworks. We went down to the beach to check them out, and sat ourselves down near the ropes keeping the public away from the lighting of the fireworks. Perhaps we were sitting a touch too close. It was actually hard to watch the explosions to begin with because they were so bright from being too close! Considering the size of Darwin, I was pretty impressed with the length and quality of the display. A good end to the night.

Some of the stalls at the Mindil Beach Markets.

Opening night fireworks

Now on to some tv talk...

Here's an indicator of how small Darwin is. The other night I was watching TV when the Channel 7 evening news update came on. There was the normal summary of national news events for the day, and then it finished by announcing that try-outs for the State Under 14's Girls Basketball team would be on this Saturday. Hmmm..

Dancing with the Stars finally finished two tuesdays ago (to make way for It Takes Two). I was wrapped to see that Kate & Jean-Paul were the winners. They were an awesome couple. Kate was just quite intoxicating to watch. Although I did think that the final show was a bit of an anticlimax.

Makes me miss dancing in Melbourne. I used to do private salsa lessons with JP before I went away overseas, and a number of weeks ago, when Kate & JP did the Argentinian Tango, they mentioned that their routine was choreographed by Christian Drogo who I've often done the tango and salsa classes of at Viva Dance in Fitzroy. I'm sure there would be many people in the Melbourne dance scene who have done the same.

A couple of Thursdays ago we headed to the Darwin Entertainment Centre to see the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow. Nice to have a small piece of Melbourne come and visit. :) Harley Breen was the MC, and he did pretty good job. While his very blokey humour is not to my taste, his piece on owning an old Holden was excellent.

The first act was Tommy Dassalo. At only 20 years of age, there were flashes of something very good, but most of the time he didn't quite execute the jokes to get the huge laughs. References to Big Brother were probably a little lost on the Darwin audience. Perhaps in a few years time after some more experience, he could be one to watch for.

The second act was Sam Simmons. I had actually seen him last year after hearing rave reviews. One word to describe him. Weird. Unfortunately that sort of humour is very hit or miss. Some of his jokes were brilliant, but mostly he was a bit awkward to watch. Many "What the?" moments to be had. Like Noel Fielding (Autoboosh), there will be some who will love him, and some who just won't get it.

Terry Psiakis was the third act. I am always a bit wary of female comedians. But I must say, she wasn't bad. Her jokes were very down the earth, about daily living and relationships, so she was easy to identify with and it was easier to find the humour in her spiel, as opposed to someone like Sam Simmons. I did wonder whether her jokes about the bogans living in Watsonia tranlated to the Darwin crowd that tends to have a healthy bogan element to it.

The last act was by far and away the best. The only international act, Russell Howard (UK) was brilliant and had me in stitches from start to finish. With a Ross Nobleness about him (and you know how much I love Ross), he was high octane energy with an off the cuff manner that made it feel like he was improvising, even though he probably wasn't. If you haven't seen him, and if he comes out to Australia again next year, I highly recommend getting yourself a seat!




Spider-Man 3: 2.75/7

Cast: Tobey Maguire (Cider House Rules), Kirsten Dunst (Virgin Suicides), James Franco (Tristan & Isolade), Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), Topher Grace (Win a date with Tad Hamilton), Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village)

In a Nutshell: Character development nowhere near the calibre of the previous Spidey movies, but the action was top notch.

Brief Synopsis: Peter Parker continues to struggle with balancing his private life with his Superhero alterego. This time, rather than a lack of confidence, he seems to have an excess. Meanwhile, the Sandman, Venom and Green Goblin II add some complication.

This instalment shows just how fine the line between a brilliant movie and an only ordinary movie can be. The first Spider-man movie was exciting.. an action movie that managed to balance special affects, acrobatics and emotional turmoil to set the bar for future superhero movies at a very high level. Suprisingly the sequel was even better. Better effects, more character development. Unfortunately the third movie has a lot to live up to, and just doesn't cut it. Was it the script, the actors, the direction or 3rd part fatigue? I am not sure, but the character development feels forced and is almost laughable. There also seems to be a lack of cohesiveness to the movie and the interaction between the players. For the first time I found Tobey Maguire to be slightly annoying rather than endearing, Dunst has never been quite right as MJ, Franco's acting has also always been a little suspect, and Church, Grace and Howard are all wasted with either minimal parts or sappy/unconvincing evil dude motivation. On the upside, I loved the creation of Venom and wished Grace's pre-Venom character could have been more convincing. The action sequences are mostly great too. The chase scene between Spider-man and Green goblin II is as good as you can get.

Sunshine: 3.25/5

Cast: Cillian Murphy (28 days later), Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Rose Byrne (Attack of the clones), Chris Evans (Fantastic Four)

In a Nutshell: Great build-up and atmosphere, ordinary resolution.

Brief Synopsis: Follows the crew on a spaceship on their way to revive a dying sun and save the Earth.

Danny Boyle does sometimes brilliant (eg. Trainspotting) and usually high quality movies (28 days later, The Beach, Millions)... A Life Less Ordinary, probably the only loser. Sunshine is no exception. More in the vein of 28 days later, there is a great sense of horror, urgency and doom with a sliver of hope on the horizon. The cast is well selected, and surprisingly it is Chris Evans who is the stand out (he is wasting his time as the Human Torch I and II). So how do you make a save-the-planet-from-a-catastrophic-end-movie without making another Armageddon? Boyle definitely doesn't fall into Armageddon or Independence Day schmaltz, but he doesn't quite pull off clean conclusion, and it almost falls into the non-sensical category. Still, it is good quality suspense/horror/scifi.



Alien & Aliens:

I have just made my way through the Alien franchise. Not bad, however I think I might be a little disappointed, I was expecting a little more. I'm not going to score them, because I don't think I can give an objective score. I think the movies would have been cutting edge in their time, but now they seem a little on the dated side. Then, after having seen 5 in a row, I think I am Aliened out (Yes, I even watched Alien vs Predator, which I actually enjoyed despite the average acting and many non-explainables, it was actually very enjoyable). Plus, after having seen something like Sunshine recently which is in a similar genre - well, it's in space - it is a little unfair to do a comparison. Sorry.

Confetti: 2.5/5

Three couples participate in a magazine competition to see who can have the best, most original wedding. Potentially excellent premise, pity about the execution. It's filmed with a sort of documentary feel, and a lot of the characters are horrid, so it is a bit hard to watch (for those P&P fans, Mrs Bennett is in this one, but very different). Ending was nice though, had the obligatory wedding weep.

Russian Dolls: 3.25/5

Sequel to The Spanish Apartment. Xavier is a little older, but still having girl troubles, why can't he find "the one", why can't he get over his ex (Audrey Tatou) and why does a supermodel want to sleep with him? I think I like this more than its predecessor, but it was a long time since I watched it. Very good late 20's characters piece, provided you don't find Romain Duris annoying. Some quirky editing thrown in for good measure.

Underworld Evolution: 3.25/5

Suprisingly good, given how critially bashed it was. However, I am a bit of a slut when it comes to vampire movies. Sequel to Underworld - rather than continuing on with the fight between the vampires and the lycan (werewolves), it is more about stopping Marcus, the father of all vampires, from releasing his eternally inprisoned twin brother (the father of all werewolves), who would surely mean the demise of man kind should he be free. Bit of fun action with some cool morphing effects, and Kate Beckinsale in skintight PVC with guns.