Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Art - Pissarro Pissarro

I spent an hour at the NSW Art Gallery's Pissarro exhibition today. They had gathered quite a lot of his paintings. Only a few were really excellent, but still I was pleased that they were all his and they hadn't done that cheating thing where they show 5 pictures by the main artist then fill in the walls with other people's stuff. One particular picture of Paris made me wish I was back there.
I briefly strolled downstairs amongst the modern stuff. One room had a few hundred small red clay figures standing on the ground in a circle. They were figures of little people (maybe 10cm high). But they were pretty dodgy. They just looked like lumps to me. The artists could do with going back to Playing With Pottery 1 for a refresher course. Really, you'd think they could have given them cardigans and pipes and walking sticks and stuff, but no.
I so wanted to be godzilla and stomp through them. Of course I'd never do such a thing, but as I was walking towards them I noticed I wasn't the only person in the room, and when I looked at the art gallery guy sitting on a chair I suspect he noticed the bent-on-gleefull-destruction-gleam in my eye. I quickly departed.
There is a new little room in the northwest corner on the main floor. A very nice airy room for some of their Australia pictures. Unfortunately, that Australian Beach Scene picture is in there hiding round the corner. It deserves to be somewhere more prominent.
And why does the art gallery offer free Herald's to everyone? Can the Herald really afford to be giving papers away these days?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Film - Crying At The Cinematheque

Last weekend I went to a cinema to see a showing of Blonde Venus - the old flick where Marlene Dietrich starts one of her nightclub songs dressed as a gorilla, with Cary Grant in the audience. Marlene the gorilla has a chorus line of black dancers with big afros. She then does a gorilla-suit strip-tease, and dons a blonde afro wig to sing Hot Voodoo, one of her dodgier songs (singing it she sounds like a rather bad drag queen), but great entrance.
Before the main film, they also showed Jean Renoir's amusingly kooky silent short Charleston.
It was put on by this new thing called the 'Queensland Gallery of Modern Art Cinémathèque'.
They were showing a series of wild animal-themed flicks (King Kong, Island of Lost Souls, Creature from the Black Lagoon etc).
One of their future programs is a series of Andy Warhol films (including that one of the Empire State Building which goes on and on for 9 boring hours). And I say, why doesn't Sydney have a cinematheque at the moment! What are these bloody uncultured QLDers doing having one before us! I'm very annoyed. Sydney should get one, quick. But we should call it something else. Calling it a cinematheque would attract too many pimply art students wanting to talk about their latest video instalment projects (and there's enough of them around already!).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Edible Kangaroos

Bloody hell I hate the meat industry. People feel squeamish and uncomfortable about eating kangaroo meat, so the meat industry's answer is what? To call it something else!
This was from a recent story on the ABC: "A competition is under way to rename kangaroo meat to boost sales in restaurants and supermarkets. ... to make it more palatable for Australian and overseas consumers. The kangaroo industry is worth $200 million a year but believes there is great potential to increase the market. Competition organiser Mel Nathan says she wants entrants to take it seriously and try not to be silly. "As I tell people, they're not allowed to come up with names like cyril, skippy, yummy, or road-kill..."
The meat industry has always been about as keen as the american military on creating euphamisms to make people feel nice and o'kay about being implicated in someone else's death. If something doesn't SOUND bad, then we can all just pretend nothing bad's happening. Maybe we should do the same with toddler meat and side-ribs of little ole' grannies!
Seriously, I think it's touching that humans occasionally decide that some animals are just too likeable to eat. It doesn't happen very often, so why can't they leave it alone.
It's seems bloody obvious to me that kangaroo should be called kangaroo. If people feel guilty eating kangaroo, then don't eat it! But if they do change the name, I think cyril is a good one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Music - Bjork's Gling-Glo

It's funny how great cds can turn up in your life out of nowhere. I'd heard of Bjork's jazz cd Gling-Glo, but hadn't been prepared to pay the price for an imported copy of it. Last weekend I saw it in a second-hand shop and caught it for $14. After just a few songs I berated myself for not having paid the price to get it sooner. Being a fan of jazz and of Bjork (her Vespertine album is one of my all-time favourites), I should have known I'd like this, but I just couldn't imagine how it'd sound, and was worried it'd sound odd without being any good. Wrong little me.
A simple jazz trio backs Bjork (before she went international) through songs that swing ever so breezily on the air. Just two songs are in English - 'Can't Help Loving That Man', and 'Ruby Baby' (weird how female singers can sing standards originally written for male singers without changing the lyrics, but the reverse never happens), though one of the other songs sounds very much like Dean Martin's 'Sway'.
It's almost odd how good her voice sounds on these songs considering she doesn't have anything like a traditional jazz voice. I guess that would make her an original!
Often when pop singers do standards they get themselves a huge orchestral backing and a lush production style, thinking that'll impress everyone and make them sound like Frank Sinatra. Robbie Williams and Rod Stewart come to mind.
Singers who attack these songs front on, with the minimum of backing, are usually more worth our time. Cyndi Lauper did quite well at it last year on At Last. And back in 1990 Bjork was doing it beautifully. All praise to her mighty Bjorkness!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Those Mesmerising Floating Bunnies

Saw the charming new Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit film tonight, and was interested to see that 40 or 50 people in the audience sat all the way through the credits till the end, just watching the floating bunnies drift up and around the screen. A gently compelling visual experience, and rather clever.
15 years ago the trick was to add a short final scene at the end of the credits (Ferris Bueller did this memorably). And old Burt Reynolds comedies, Jackie Chan action flicks, and Pixar animations have all used out-takes to keep people watching.
I can recall a number of animated films where characters have popped in and out of the closing credits, but the floating bunnies were something else - definitely a newly pleasurable credits experience. Good one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Harold Bloom, Leopold Bloom, Bloomsbury & The Shaggy Guy

As I was rushing back to work after lunch today, with a book in my hand, I passed a raggedy homeless guy who asked me what I was reading. I said it was a 'book about books' and showed him the cover.
He read then said out loud the name of the author (Harold Bloom), then said 'ah yes Leopold Bloom', then 'Bloomsbury', then 'oh no not that' and happily waved me on my way.
I wouldn't be too surprised if the name Leopold Bloom rang nobody's bells in my office, but here was this shaggy guy whose eyes lit up at the name Bloom and was immediately struck with the name's literary associations.
How many ordinary people actually read James Joyce these days anyway??
Is this shaggy guy cool or what!
Hopefully I'll pass him again sometime so I can make a little donation to his reading fund.

Brokeback Mountain

So Brokeback Mountain has won a Golden Lion from Venice.
That's all very nice, but it's a shame it's not getting released in Australia till next January. Do we really need to wait so long? Can't Heath pull some strings to get it shown here sooner?
In the meantime, I'll just have to continue admiring the spiffy poster....

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Tim Burton - Keeping it in the family

After enjoying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I wanted to make a comment on a lovely fact about the director Tim Burton - he keeps employing his friends.

Firstly, he always gets Danny Elfman to write the music (and sometimes sing the songs too - in Nightmare Before Christmas and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
And he very frequently calls on Johnny Depp to dress up - in Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as soon to be doing one of the voices for Corpse Bride.

He keeps his partners employed...
His previous girlfriend was Lisa Marie, and she always had a small role in his films.
Now his main girl is Helena Bonham Carter, and he's keeping her busy (in Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Corpse Bride).

But it's not just a couple of people. He finds people he likes and sticks with them. I think it's highly admirable. And now I'm going to bore you with proof of what I say!
* Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice, and 2 Batman movies)
* Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, Mars Attacks!, and Big Fish)
* Jeffrey Jones (Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow)
* Jack Nicholson (Batman, and Mars Attacks!)
* Christopher Lee (Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Corpse Bride)
* Christopher Walken (Batman Returns, and Sleepy Hollow)
* Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands)
* Sarah Jessica Parker (Ed Wood, and Mars Attacks!)
* Albert Finney (Big Fish, and Corpse Bride)
* Catherine O'Hara (Beetlejuice, and The Nightmare Before Christmas)
* Paul Ruebens (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Batman Returns, and The Nightmare Before Christmas)
* Vincent Price (one of his early short films 'Vincent', and Edward Scissorhands)

This Tim Burton guy, he likes older 'kooky and endearing' male actors, and younger 'beautiful and slightly kooky' female actresses, and keeps calling them over to his house to make movies.
Most Hollywood directors move from project to project and it's a bit of a novelty for them to work with the same actor twice. But not out Tim!

Monday, July 11, 2005

2005 Sydney Film Festival - The Films

Two weeks ago the Sydney Film Festival finished up. I made it to 20 films, although it's more like 19 and a half, since I walked out on one. The roster of new feature films seemed a little lacklustre, but the documentaries were consistently good. And of course they showed some lovely old films. I've divided this review into three handy parts. 1 - New films 2 - Old films 3 - Crap films (yes, the rumours are true, I walked out on one!)
1. NEW FILMS: *** Me and You and Everyone We Know. A quirky little independent comedy-drama from the US, along the lines of last year's Sideways, though a little less funny perhaps. Lovely new filmmaking from a woman directing and starring in her first film. Quite worth seeing. As a side issue - why are goldfish so misused in movies? They only ever make two kinds of appearances: 1) as decorative swimmers in restaurant fish tanks, which will always be smashed to bits if it's an action film, or 2) as tragic creatures, who fall on the floor and can't breath after their bowl is over-turned, or get eaten by the cat, or who die after not getting fed by the house-sitter, or get flushed down the toilet by a small girl. Why does Hollywood continue with these tired clichés? We demand new roles for fish! *** Inside Deep Throat was an consistently good documentary about what was on the one hand just a tacky porn flick, but which also had a wonderfully interesting history. Pretty much everyone involved was interviewed - the director, the male star, cinema owners who showed the film (including one hilariously cute retired couple), folks who tried to get it banned, and all the usual american sexperts (Gore Vidal, Dr Ruth, Camille Paglia, Larry Flynt and more). Linda Lovelace is dead now, but we get to hear from people who new her, both before and after she was famous. The documentary had so many facets to it. Unfortunately I doubt even SBS could show it on tv, since it has some brief explicit snippets from the original film (which caused some slight coughing and shuffling noises from the audience I saw it with). I guess I was bound to enjoy a film that dealt with such juicy topics (sex, movies, politics, the mob, and censorship), but this doco was more smartly put together than any other I saw during the festival. Also, you get to learn lots of titbits: That after Harry Reams (the star from the old film) became famous, he was cast to play a supporting role in Grease - until Paramount Pictures got cold feet at the last minute; that Scream director Was Craven worked behind the scenes of porn flicks before moving on to the mainstream; and that the old disco hit More, More, More was sung by a porn actress! My goodness! *** 36 Quai Des Orfevres. Twisting and dark Parisian cop drama featuring Gerard Depardieu and Daniel Auteuil. This film kept going in different directions, focusing on a group of policemen who disagree on what compromises are appropriate to make to catch a group of dangerous criminals. *** Howl's Moving Castle. The new film from Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away). This tended to meander a bit, but had some fantastical images and ideas. I want to have a house like that - with a magical door that can open on 4 different streets! *** Oh, I just remembered a film called Duck Season. Very small film from Mexico with just 4 characters stuck in an apartment for a couple of hours. Lovely little film which hopefully will get released sometime. *** A State of Mind. Documentary showing the life of two families living in North Korea. Life's fairly simple, and not too bad if you don't expect too much, and are happy to love your leader. But then they've got to live with things like the radio station that is piped into one family's house every day. It's a government run station. They can't change the channel, and they can't turn it off. Big Brother is alive, and not just on Channel 10! *** Shake Hands With The Devil (on a UN soldier returning to Rwanda) and Enron: Smartest Guys In The Room (on the rotten ethics behind the company before it's demise) were grim experiences.
2. OLD FILMS: *** PEOPLE ON SUNDAY is a silent German film from 1930, which used non-actors in it's portrayal of an ordinary sunday, where folks go down to a lake. A little sad to see peaceful Berlin life before things went to shit. One scene I loved started with a couple having a minor domestic argument. To get some revenge the man 'accidentally' throws some of his shaving cream on a photo of a male movie star that's been pinned on their wall. The woman decides to get back at him by tearing up a photo of a glamorous actress (I think it might have been Greta Garbo). Soon they're excitedly tearing up each other's photos. Nice. *** THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT. Funny film. I discovered that Jayne Mansfield's physique is even more startling on the big screen. I don't think I've ever seen anyone else walk quite like that. *** Cade came along to see CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC with me, and admitted to really enjoying it. Most Aussies my age and over seem to have seen it. It's still a silly yet hugely fun experience, with more innuendo than a Carry On picture. The music is cheerfully fun, and everyone seems constantly happy and ready to burst into a musical number, even when wearing the tightest imaginable shorts. *** I saw my old favourite BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, and was overjoyed with the response of the audience. For most of the movie they laughed almost as much as I did, and at certain parts they actually laughed more (which is saying something considering I felt sore from over-laughing)! Astounding! It was one of the most wonderful experiences I've ever had in a cinema. Later on as people were leaving, you could still see the smiles on their cynical film festival-going faces and hear laughter coming from their weary film festival-going throats. A beautiful thing.
3. NOW IT'S TIME FOR ME TO MAKE ANGRY STATEMENTS ABOUT FILM-MAKER'S WHO LET ME DOWN: *** Saw one crap Australian short film (which shall remain nameless), directed by some young git who thought she was making a statement about young women taking up the torch of the previous generation who have sold out their feminist ideals. Kerry Armstrong was still very good (as usual), but the rest of the film was kind of insulting in it's stupidness. How can you not hate a story which spends the last few minutes explaining supposed 'twists' which were bleedingly obvious the whole way through. The director came on stage afterwards and said she hoped everyone liked it - I sternly refused to applaud and had a determinedly unhappy look on my face, plain for everyone to see! I hope the director noticed!*** They showed a short computer-animated film called Ryan. It won an oscar, and was based on interviews a guy did with an old animator who has now retired and begs on street corners. It was kind of interesting, and visually inventive. But after it was finished they showed a more traditional documentary which had fuller interviews with both the new and the older animators. This was so much more enlightening and heartfelt than the initial new-fangled short film, that it made it look redundant. So I suspect that the new invention, the 'documentary animated' short-film, will have about as long a life as the Australian version of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (or the US version of The Office for that matter).*** I WALKED OUT ON A FILM!!!!! This is an amazing thing. I've never ever done this before. To let you in on the full story, here's some of what I wrote on about it: This film was shown at this year's Sydney Film Festival as 'Half-Price'. I'm afraid I can't give a complete and proper review because I walked out on it after watching just over half of it. And I wasn't alone, as I noticed twenty or so other people leaving at the same time. I swear I heard the phrases "rats leaving a sinking ship" and "women and children first" in the foyer as people left. This is in fact the first time I've ever walked out on a movie, so that tells you something. I have no idea whether the film finds a way to justify itself in the end, but it had already used up all of my patience. I presume the director was trying to show us something about the lives of children when they're alone together by filming them up close, letting them do their own thing, and not including anything else that would intrude (such as a plot or dialogue). But from what I sat through, all that you're left with is the kind of boredom you'd get from watching someone else's particularly dull home movies of their kids. We're told very little about their lives, so we're left to watch their behaviour without any useful context. They listen to music, laugh, and go to the toilet. So what! Apart from the fact that the kids play together, we don't even get a feel for the bonds between them. This is really only bearable for a short while. By the 30-minute mark I was bored out of my skull. And when you're that bored, you start to question the point of watching scenes of kids sitting on the toilet, or hanging around the house naked while playing music. It's a lot like having someone show you pictures of their kids. If there's a couple of embarrassing photos in there - maybe of a kid naked in the bath - that's fine. But if it turns out that a whole heap of the photos are of a kid naked in the bath, then it becomes plain weird and uncomfortable, and you start wondering why the person showing them to you doesn't realise it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

2005 Archibald Prize

I think the Archibald prize exhibition at the NSW Art Gallery has closed by now.
I spent an hour there one recent afternoon.
Saw the winner, which nobody was paying any attention to. The two-headed Janus idea was a good one, but the execution was garbage. Firewood.
My personal favourite picture was Adam and Harvie (Krumpet) by David Ralph. I liked it's squareness for some reason, and the cheerful animated look Adam had. And the relationship between Harvie and his creator kept me wondering. Was Harvie creeping up on Adam to surprise him? Was he riding on Adam's back? Was Adam looking more startled or wary?
One picture that I didn't exactly like, but found interesting was of Gretel Killeen. I wasn't sure the picture was so good, and at first I didn't even think it looked too much like Gretel. It looked to harsh. But after looking at it some more it struck me that Gretel sometimes does actually have that harsh look to her.
* I really enjoyed many of the entries in the Australian Photographic Portrait Prize that hung in some nearby rooms. Some good ones of Libby Gore, Duncan Armstrong under water, a guy sitting below the mural of Martin Luther King in Newtown, and Bob Hawke (with skin tone darkened as if to exaggerate his exposure to harsh Australian sunlight).
The most gorgeous shot was of a young woman standing in a suburban backyard. I don't remember the name of her or the photographer, but it was impressively good. It was all fairly simple and straightforward, with just a few odd touches including mesh material wrapped around the woman's face. But she had a presence, and the strong colouring of the photo made the ordinary backyard (little more than some grass and a fence) look like something extraordinary. The blurb beside it mentioned that the photographer took a long time to set it all up (I believe it was over a number of weeks) and it showed. Top marks!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Live 8 Concerts

I have a bit of a problem with the 2 hours of footage that Channel 9 gave us from this weekend's Live 8 concerts.
Obviously the main problem with this kind of concert is that only some performers could get shown while many others were cut completely. Couldn't we have had at least 3 hours of it? Channel 9 would only have had to cut 1 extra hour out of it's schedule of garbage to do it. Should have been piss-easy.
Channel 9's disappointing choice was to go almost solely with the big-ticket golden oldies:- Elton, Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, U2, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Sting... I could count the number of songs that were less than 10 years old on 1 hand. One of the few recent songs was from Coldplay, but I suspect that was only so they could show shots of family members Gwyneth Paltrow and baby Apple bouncing along in the crowd.
The annoying thing is that there were plenty of younger acts performing at the actual concerts, but Channel 9 didn't care to let us see them. I would have loved to see some Travis, Joss Stone, The Killers, Dido, or Scissor Sisters. I presume Channel 9 was more interested in an older demographic, so younger music fans weren't considered worth catering to. Thanks heaps!
This also made the older performers seem older again. Rather than mature active musicians sharing a stage with newer artists, they tended to look like a nice bunch of semi-retirees having a comfortable reunion gig. And we could have done with more from the performers outside the main London gig - a bit of Shakira, Bjork, Pet Shop Boys and Duran Duran wouldn't have hurt.
But I am complaining too much now. The glass being more than half full - it still was very enjoyable viewing overall. The standard of music only fell a couple of times. The bland country song by Keith Urban, and the uncomfortable duet between Tina Arena and Craig David were obviously only included in the broadcast as the singers were originally from Australia. It's a little sad to think what other great performances we missed out on just to hear them. (I have since found out that Tina & Craig's duet was a last minute effort after another singer dropped out. So it was good to see Tina giving it a go, but it still didn't sound that hot).
So to wrap up, there were plenty of nice things to say about the concerts. But as for Channel 9, a rather ordinary effort indeed.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

2005 Sydney Film Festival - Opening Night

The 2005 Sydney Film Festival opened on Friday night. As I do every year, I rocked up at the State Theatre to pick up my season daytime pass and get my hands on the brochure showing all the lovely films that are going to be on. Always a special moment.
As a general rule, I don't attend the opening night film (the one time I went, the film was so useless I seriously considered walking out).
When you go to the State to get your ticket, you're confronted with the opening night preparations. So the red carpet was already out, and the searchlights already searching. Deni Hines and some stunningly skinny young actress were having their photos taken. Numerous people in black clothing were milling about.
And I had to ask myself - how many of these people were true Sydney Film Fest Fans?
Sure, they'll turn up at the glamour events, and the after party. But will they turn up to sit through Iranian films about small children who've lost their shoes? I doubt it!
I know that a glamourous opening night helps get the film festival in the papers. But I propose that they change opening night so that it becomes more suitable for the true film festival follower. Let them show a Bugs Bunny cartoon followed by an old Cary Grant movie, with tickets at $10. And offer tea and bickies in the foyer. Anyone wearing clothes that you wouldn't wear at home on the couch when watching a midnight movie should be banned from entering.

My script for Bette Davis' return to the screen.

Here's my plot for a new Bette Davis film (we'll have to resurrect her somehow), inspired by a friend's comment about Ms Schappelle Corby looking like Bette Davis when she was on the witness stand.
*** Our setting is somewhere unspecified in south-east asia. That really has no effect on the plot, but allows the film to have a more colourful atmosphere, which Bette Davis used to like. If you were in a film set in an exotic foreign land, you got to work with fancy sets and costumes, which also probably meant a bigger budget. Of course, we're filming in black and white.
See, she's been found unconscious, bruised, and battered at the scene of the crime, along with a mysterious man, with illegal drugs littered all over the place. She's been found there by the authorities and soon wakes up. Meanwhile, the man remains in a coma.
A handsome eurasian lawyer defends Bette and starts falling for her. Bette likes him well enough but says no, she can't return his affections, despite the fact that she's started to feel close to him. In a long and gruelling court case Bette defends herself against the crime, but in a surprise twist she confesses fully - that she was indeed the drug smuggler who was doing a deal with vicious drug-smuggling thugs - a deal that went horribly wrong!
She explains that the unconscious man was her lover. He was a reformed criminal.
An old associate of his had threatened his life, and demanded he do one last drug deal. He said no, as he'd found love with Bette. The associate threatened to kill him. He still said no, because Bette's love and respect was now more important to him than life itself. Bette found out and decided to do the deal herself to save her man from death!!!! All is commotion!
She reveals (through a number of flashbacks) that he was the first man who had truly shown her what love was, as her husband (oh yes, she was already married to another) was a scoundrel (even though he had seemed like an angel when they were first married). The unconscious man was only the second man she'd ever been with.
Bette is found guilty and given the death penalty. At this she almost faints, but manages to pull herself together - she's determined to not display any weakness before the court! She's prepared to meet her fate as bravely as she can.
Meanwhile, in a hospital in a town far away, the unconscious man awakens! His first action is to ask about Bette. When they tell him she's due to be executed this very hour he says no, no, how can that be? He was the one who had weakened and returned to his drug dealing ways, just to get some money together so he could give his beloved Bette the good life she used to have with her husband. They can't do this to her! Surely they could have seen that she was only trying to protect the life of her beloved when she'd confessed to the crime!
But no!
The gallows door is released and bye bye Bette!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Please come play for me.

After my last list, which was quite negative, I'd like to ask the following artists to come to Sydney for reasonably-priced concerts, in small theatres so I don't have to squint to see you, so I can see you before I die (which hopefully won't be anytime soon, so you've got a bit of time - just don't take too long). Some of you have already been here, but I didn't get to see you, which, I know, is my fault, not yours, but still it'd be nice if you did me a favour and came back again.
Pretty please.

Cake, Erykah Badu, Joss Stone, David Bowie, Jewel, Angie Stone, Macy Gray, Harry Connick Jr, Chris Isaak (you always come to Sydney but your concerts sell out too quickly - please, more concerts!), Aimee Mann, Bjork, and Yo La Tengo.

Sydney's really nice, you'll like it.
I can buy you lunch.

People who bug me and should go away.

Time for a list.

Of people I'll never meet in person but who still manage to piss me off.

Of course, we can start with Mr Howard and Mr Bush Jr. Who are turkeys.
And Tony Abbott. And Alan Jones and John Laws. And Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch (big raspberries to you!).
I would mention Fred Nile, but he seems to be a bit quiet these days.
Stinky Jennifer Lopez and Lisa Ho (for putting furs into their fashion parades).

So how about the so-called 'entertainment' industry?
Ooo yes, there's lots of annoying people there.
And not just my old enemy Richard Wilkins!
There's also Hilary Duff and Eddie Mcguire. Val Kilmer and Fiona Robson. Britney Spears (especially when she stuffs up covers of other people's songs). The guy who hosts Video Hits on weekend mornings (he should be stopped from trying to sing jazz ever again). People in Hollywood who trash world history with astoundingly stupid movies like Alexander and The Last Samurai. Fox tv for releasing the first 4 series of Futurama on dvd but not the final 5th series - they should pull their finger out! Leyton Hewitt and Bec Cartwright, who can't seem to keep their unremarkable love life out of our collective faces. And finally, the managers at Broadway Shopping Centre for allowing in all of those annoying people who walk up to you wanting to get you to sign up for stuff when all you want to do is go to the movies.
Oh yes, and Oprah Winfrey, whose fawning interviews with other celebrities are total puke.

In order to not be completely negative, Cate Blanchett is a god.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

R.E.M. in Sydney

Saw R.E.M. perform at the Entertainment Centre last Thursday night.
Well, should I talk about them, or me?
Firstly, me.
I did the right thing and bought the t-shirt. My seat sucked unfortunately. I was in the fourth last row, which was kind of the last row since the last 3 rows were empty. So Michael looked very small and the sound was muted, like I was listening to loud music being played by the neighbours. :-( Next time they're here I'll have to get in early and get a better seat dammit
Anyways, they were still good value.
Michael wore a pretty dark blue stripe painted across his face. They played long and hard, getting through lots of their songs. Indeed, I was impressed by their solid work ethic.
What can I definitely remember them playing? There was at least 1 old song and 1 new song I hadn't heard before. They played Electrolite; Animal; Losing My Religion; Leaving New York; Electron Blue; Imitation Of Life; I Wanted To Be Wrong; Man On The Moon; The Great Beyond and others. They also did a nice performance of Happy Birthday for one of their crew.
Two songs that worked really well live were Orange Crush (I can't remember it well enough to say if it sounded better than the original, but it was definitely very effectively played and I can say I enjoyed it more than the album version), and Everybody Hurts, which was beautiful and touching and had a good part of the audience joining in in the singing.
Am very pleased I finally got to see them live. Hopefully they'll return sometime and I can make sure I get a better seat!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"We'd like to talk to you about the Bible..."

It's my second day home with a cold, and nobody has come to talk to me :-(
It was different yesterday, when two young ladies knocked on the door and said they wanted to chat to me about the Bible. I declinded their offer, but liked the suggestion. It would really pick my day up today if two young ladies or gentlemen came around and offered to talk about Chuck Palahniuk's novels. That would be really great. Or even if they just wanted to talk about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Why is it that when strange people come to your house they only ever want to talk about the Bible or some little leaflet they've got with them? Don't they read anything else? If they'd ever read Candide - well there's a good conversation starter, surely. Maybe for once they could ask the householder if there's a book they'd like to talk about?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Oscar 2005

Even though The Oscars passed without too much fuss this year, I still feel the need to produce my annual round-up of the event.
* Firstly - the red carpet arrivals.
Didn't watch them.
I turned on the tv, and there was Richard Wilkins once again, throwing himself in the way of oncoming stars.
I had to turn him off.
The Horrible Wilkinsssss. I Hatesss Him (he even makes me start talking like Gollum).
* The actresses all looked perfectly elegant, though sexless. All very stylish and faultless.
Apart from Salma Hayek's enthusiastic chest, there was nothing exciting going on.
Even Drew Barrymore was dressed demurely. In fact, she was done up to look a lot like a widowed grandma, all neat hair and sombre black dress.
Obviously, being Drew, she was still a very hot widowed grandma.
Even Barbra Streisand dressed sensibly. It would have been a lot more fun if someone had've talked her into wearing something ridiculous from the 60's. That would have livened things up.
Amongst the men, Johnny Depp and Prince were good enough to wear blue. And Prince wore a lot of other stuff on his face. He seems to like cake make-up.
* The main awards went to likeable winners.
At last Cate Blanchett got a little gold man. Bitchin'. And she got to use the word 'cheesy' in her speech, which is a nicely non-american word.
The other winners were all fine. I liked seeing Morgan Freeman sitting in his seat grasping his man tightly.
I felt sorry for certain losers - Johnny Depp, Martin Scorcese and Imelda Staunton. They got nothing while Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood got seconds. Poor Johnny.
But wait a minute, I wasn't so sure about Jamie Foxx. What's with the almost breaking down in tears thing, trying so hard to get the words out while telling an overly sentimental story, choking on his words, his head in his hands, then looking up out of the corner of his eye to check how many seconds he has left, so he can finish up his speech perfectly? Reminded me a bit of Shirley Temple, who could call up theatrical tears instantaneously. I am quite sure he did the same thing at the Golden Globes. I guess if he's faking it doesn't matter, as his award was for acting, not honesty.
* The 5 nominated songs were unimpressive, especially the 3 dreary songs that Beyonce sang, which were utterly deadly. I like my Beyonce, but those songs stank. Thankfully none of them won!
* Mickey Rooney, or someone very much like him, is still alive! He was sitting behind many younger and taller folks (which was pretty much everyone). The woman next to him seemed to be helpfully pointing out stuff that was happening up on stage. Being so small and elderly, he probably just took her word for it, but he seemed happy to be there.
* Robin Williams made some amusing jokes about the recent fuss over Spongebob Squarepants' questionable sexuality. When he came on stage he ripped a piece of tape from his mouth. He did this because the jokes were originally part of a gospel song that he was going to perform as a preacher, with the orchestra's help. But the network said this would be too offensive and rude and vetoed it :-(
* For some of the smaller awards, they handed them out to the winners in their seats. Very lucky-door prize-ish. Hopefully they won't do it next year. I'd love to see them try getting away with that for the bigger awards. I don't think Jack Nicholson or Julia Roberts would appreciate getting their pressie in their seat and not having their big moment on stage.
* Overall, the whole thing was reasonably good, and the winners were mostly well chosen, but nothing at all exciting happened (oh, except for the Cate thing, which cheered me lots).
Nobody got booed, or streaked across the stage (yes, it happened once), or refused to accept their award, or got lost on their way to the stage.
Maybe next year.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Newtown dogs

A story of Doggy Art in Newtown beating Dodgy Art in Kings Cross.
I only just found out today that there is more than one new dog sculpture in Newtown.
There are 3!!! I'll have to go see them all asap. I 100% approve of them.
The main streets of Newtown have been sculpturally deficient until now, but no longer! And most importantly they've managed to come up with an idea that's immediately pleasing and cheerful and easy on the eye - very much unlike the poos-on-sticks fiasco over in Kings Cross.
The whole industrial-dogs-on-tuckerboxes thing was a great idea - so very Australian and so Newtown at the same time. It talks of the city and of suburban pleasures. Statuesque dogs linking King St with Gundagai.
The part below the doggy bit is meant to be for folks to stick posters up, but they look good the way they are, all shiny bright. So far nobody has been game to deface them with their intended use. Does that mean people like them? I hope so.
More dogs should be on plinths methinks.
Dogs up in the air, everywhere!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Movie - Alexander

I actually can't think of any movie-hair that has ever been worse than Colin Farrell's in this movie. Each wig managed to disgust and revolt in new ways. And his Irish accent was a joke. I noticed that even the kid playing young-Alexander spoke like an Irishman. What a laugh.
The whole thing was fairly stupid, but then again it was no more stupid than Troy.
I guess the thing with Troy was that the studios could market Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana and Brad Pitt acting macho and taking their shirts off a lot. Whereas Alexander had Colin and friends looking girly and hugging.
I'm not surprised the american critics labeled it a flop even before it was released. On the other hand, it was pretty brave for a big Hollywood film to even attempt some of things Alexander did. The male leads in Top Gun and Fast and the Furious never exchanged rings for one thing.
I did like Jared Leto lots and lots. All that eye make-up and jewellry and long hair and pouting looks. He was extremely pretty as a greek warrior/70's glam rocker. I'm not sure of the historical accuracy of his portrayal, but it was fun to watch.
I think the film was just too choppy. Alexandar's life didn't follow a nice simple line like Russell Crowe's character in Gladiator. It would take a very smart filmaker to make a movie about Alex that was historically correct as well as being involving and clear to follow.
Alexander's sexuality was handled strangely. I don't think Oliver Stone is good with this stuff (see Midnight Express). At least the film hinted at the kind of things that Troy chose to leave out (such wimps), but it ended up desexualising Alexander, which surely wasn't the point. He keeps getting approached by guys with lustful intentions, but he never seems to bother to do anything much about it. Obviously the film was meant to suggest that Alexander was highly sexual in every direction, but it ends up giving you the totally opposite impression - that he had homosexual feelings but for no known reason (indegestion?) couldn't do anything about them so went with women instead. He never shows much love for women, but his only sex scene is with a woman, not a man. Instead of being a sexual athlete he's just a wimp who never gets around to doing what he obviously wants to do.
There is so much innuendo leading nowhere much that it lets everyone down. If the film had've just come out with it, some folks would have been annoyed by it, but everyone else could have just got on with the rest of the movie.
And one last thing - everything everyone wore in this movie was so darn clean! I've never seen such spotlessly dressed people. Are we meant to think that the ancients put on a new tunic every time they got as much as a speck of dust on themselves? Why didn't someone think to throw some much-needed mud on Colin???

Sunday, January 09, 2005

2004 Movie Wrap-Up

2004 is over. So here I am with my End Of 2004 Movie Wrap-Up.
Escapist movies that were kind of dumb, but fun too
Troy ; The Day After Tomorrow; Dodgeball; I, Robot; Bad Santa; The Phantom of the Opera
Escapist movies that were fun and managed to be a little less dumb
Harry Potter 3; The Invincibles
Biggest piece of crap
The Terminal (there were probably worse films, but this had Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, and they should know better)
Best attempts at something different
Farenheit 9/11; Bad Santa; I Love Huckabees
Most appreciated reappearances from folks who seemed to have disappeared
Tippy Hedren getting the chance to use foul language on screen (I Love Huckabees)
Isabella Rossellini getting the chance to strut around with glass legs full of beer (The Saddest Music In The World)
Jodie Foster getting the chance to show off her french (A Very Long Engagement)
Best opportunities for a good cry
Big Fish; Farenheit 9/11
Least impressive singing
Kevin Kline (De-Lovely)
Gerard Butler (playing the lead in Phantom of the Opera)
Best nudity or near-nudity
Troy (in what was a slim year)
Most annoying product placement
Borders (The Terminal)
Worst performances (or miscasting if you're being kind)
Brad Pitt (Troy)
Gerard Butler (Phantom of the Opera)
Tom Hanks (The Terminal)
Memorable performances
Kevin Bacon (The Woodsman)
Geoffrey Rush and Charlize Theron (The Life & Death of Peter Sellers)
The 3 kids, all improving with age, in Harry Potter 3
Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Minnie Driver (Phantom of the Opera)
Best quote of the Year 2004
"We can't tell if he's in a coma or just very very sad." (The Saddest Music In The World)