Sunday, December 31, 2006


Time to try this again I suppose.

Have a look over to the right there, I've put a Flickr badge, which links to photos.

It's a bit of a mess at the moment - it may or may not get more organised.

I'll try and:

(a) keep the photos up to date;

(b) let you know when more go on there.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Trip round

Oddly enough, people want to see more of the house. Soooo, here we go. There are lots of pictures; you can click on them to see bigger versions.

First, come down the street:

Then, walk towards the driveway, noting the tree-strewn front section:

Now stop to admire the "No Circulars" sign on the letterbox. Cherish this moment; the sign will soon be gone as we want circulars. How else will we know what to buy?

Peer shiftily up the driveway, noting the comparative lack of length and NO FUCKING MOWING STRIP:

Walk up the driveway, then turn left up the path just before the house itself. Watch those roses, they're killers (rippers of clothing, anyway):

Step yo' ass onto the spacious concrete . . . thing. Patio? Porch?

You see doors to your left and right. Open them both to let in the cold air:

Walk through the door on the left (the one with lots of glass), go to the back corner and have a look at the lounge. You will note that the pictures you tripped over on the way are not on the wall yet:

Glance up at the tasteful lamps:

Once you have recovered from this, have a look at the dining/kitchen through the big doorless doorway:

Step through the doorway, noting the gently searing light from the '80s-era halogens:

Have a closer look at the kitchen. Marvel at the way designers of old never let aesthetics get in the way of a good idea:

Turn around and holy shit, there's a pantry:

Turn back around 180 degrees and check out the all-gas stove:

Waste some time and gas looking at the pretty grill:

Turn back around (sorry) and check out the inside laundry to the left of the pantry. Hey look, it joins on to the bathroom, that's weird:

Oh no it doesn't - the toilet is in between:

[please post a caption for this in the Comments - the best one will go here]:

Behind you is the shower. Why yes, it is a three-speed with a bi-folding door:

Use the teleporter to go back to the porch thing, and go in the front door this time:

Walk in to the vestibule and look to your left at the . . . what is it?

Down the hallway, the first door on the left is a cupboard for storing gimps, punishing kids, etc. The second door goes to the bathroom.

The first door on the right is the spare room, crafted from finest yellow:

The door at the very end of the hall is the master bedroom. I'm the master, so that's where I sleep:

The last door on the left is Ella's room. She has a fantastic view out her window of . . .

. . . the garage. The doors are automatic, I haven't managed to smash one of them into the front of a car yet, but it can't be far off.

Wander towards the back of the garage and have a look at the inside:

Twist to your left and have a look at the little workshop at the back of the garage. At the end on the left there is a tiny little portable Korean dishwasher:

The garage has a side door, which I have neglected to photograph. Step out of it, turn right, and there's our pergola/archway:

Turn back around again and have another look at the house before you go:


Wednesday, June 21, 2006


You may note the new button I've put over there --> under the "Links" heading. If clicked, this will take you to a place where you can download the current version of Opera.

Opera 9 - Your Web, Your choice

Why should you do this? Well, there are millions of reasons, but here are just a few:
  • Tabbed browsing - this means that you can have a whole lot of web pages open, but just one browser window.
  • Mouse gestures - these allow you to do things like browse forward or back by right-clicking and moving your mouse. It takes about half an hour to become completely used to using these, then you'll wonder how you ever did without them.
  • Session saving - if you have several webpages open, but you need to shut down the computer (or it crashes), Opera remembers all the pages you had open when you fire it back up again.
  • Speed - in many browser speed tests, Opera generally beats the other browsers in terms of browsing speed.
  • Widgets - if you're not sure what these are, have a look here. Mac OS X+ users will be used to them already. Some are gimmicky, some are really useful.
  • Size - the Opera download is only 6.2MB, and that includes all the stuff listed above. Firefox is a bit smaller, but then you have to go and find and install a whole lot of extensions to make it do the same things Opera does by default.
So, if you're still stuck with Internet Explorer, give it a go, you might become a convert. Even if you've graduated to Firefox, Opera's still worth a look.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

This could be the start of something bag. Er, big.

After living in the same rented house for nearly eight years, we have finally saved up enough money to buy a house outright.

Alright, well, not exactly, we had to borrow some money, obviously.

Our new house is in Fairfield. I'm not insane enough to broadcast the address on the mad wide internet, but please email me if you want it.

Here is a picture of the outside:
Image hosted by
You can click on it to make it bigger if you like.

Here is a picture of the lounge:
Image hosted by
Please be aware when viewing the large picture that the carpet pattern may trigger seizures.

Comment as to whether you think we should stay with the current minimalist theme, or if we should fill it with all our crap.

Here is a picture of the kitchen:
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It is powered by gas. The water is powered by gas too. What a gas.

No, I'm not sure why the cupboards all look burnt around the edges.

Here is a picture of the back yard:
Image hosted by
That is possibly a child's ball in the middle there, or maybe a gigantic grapefruit. You tell me.

Other features include:
  • a two-door garage
  • a two-door toilet
  • a bathroom
  • one bedroom
  • another bedroom
  • a third bedroom
  • upcoming suburb according to the real estate bullshit
We look forward to lowering the tone of the neighbourhood in two weeks' time when we start carting all our junk over there.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Annoy, tiny blonde one. Annoy like the wind!

You seem to care a bit what I think
Hey, watch me!

So, have I raved at you yet about how great Veronica Mars is? I have? Well, here I go again:

Veronica Mars is great, you really should watch it. I only stumbled across it by accident - the first season was screened here on Friday nights. As a person with a small child, I am generally home on Friday nights, and on those occasions when I can still see through the veil of tears created by crying for my lost youth, I look for crap TV to watch.

There've been many memorable loads of crap that I've hurried home from the pub to watch. A couple of years ago, it was LAX, starring Heather Locklear as the bizarrely-named Harley Random, and the bizarrely-named Blair Underpants (OK, that's not his name) in what was presumably meant to be a comeback role, one billion years after LA Law.

Predictably enough, it wasn't renewed for a second season. I think Veronica Mars may have replaced it, or was possibly screened in the timeslot immediately before it.

I wasn't interested at first - I mean, a pretty blonde teenage amateur private investigator? Just doesn't sound that interesting. However, I'd made that mistake with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The intelligent few who watched it tried to convince me, but I wasn't swayed until the last couple of seasons. I kicked myself then, for having judged the book by its cover.

So I only missed about the first three episodes before taking the advice of various reputable internet sources and watching it. Since then, I've been hooked.

Veronica (the character and and the show itself) is a worthy successor to Buffy. Like the older programme, Veronica Mars make itself watchable largely because of the dialogue. It differs a little from Buffy in that the world Veronica inhabits is a little more believable, although due to the phenomenal wealth of some of the characters, it does sometimes take on a fantasy quality.

There are some pretty good plotlines too. The show uses the now standard device of a major, overarching plot, with shorter stories contained within each episode. I don't know where this mechanism was first used, but I first noticed it in the good old X Files (also another show enlivened by great wisecracking dialogue). Whoever did it first, I still find it a winning formula and am not sick of it just yet.

The actors are all spectacular too. Kristen Bell, as the title character, strikes just the right sarcastic tone, as well as providing the cliched-yet-useful detective voiceovers. She's a bit of an overachiever by the sounds, starring in both the stage and film-musical modern versions of the 1930s insanity that is Reefer Madness. Can't wait to see it.

Jason Dohring is another one to watch (and looking around the web, many many girls are watching him!) - if anything, he has better lines than Veronica does. I also note with interest that he's a Scientologist, so I'm sure we'll see more and more of him. At least until he jumps the couch . . .

There's a great supporting cast, including more bizarre names, like Percy Daggs III and Francis Capra. Best of all, though, is Enrico "you may remember me from such shows as Just Shoot Me and, er, Whoopi" Colantoni as Keith Mars, Veronica's PI and sometime town sherriff dad.

Anyway, they haven't screened the second series in NZ yet, so the old bittorrent has been doing sterling service.

There aren't many women on TV that I'd be happy to have as a role model for my daughter, but Veronica Mars definitely makes the grade.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

My Little Eye

I remember picking this one. It looked like an interesting idea - a horror movie based in a Big Brother-style house.

It was OK. The best thing was the use of a multitude of fixed cameras, just like in real Big Brother. This was done well, and gave the opportunity for shots and editing that just couldn't be got away with in normal film.

However, this effect was ruined a bit by the addition of normal film cameras as well. I think it might well have worked out better if they just stuck with the fixed cams, and edited the whole thing to look like a real reality show. Would've been more scary I reckon.


I can't remember why I picked this one out. It's great, though. I haven't read the book, although I intend to now.

Steve McQueen is brilliant as usual, although I wonder if he worried about being typecast into prison break movies? Probably not.

Not only is this a great story (based on truth, but no doubt embellished a bit), but the film is beautifully shot as well. Almost every frame seems like it could be printed up and hung on the wall as a piece of art, and the techniques used are striking in both their simplicity and their brilliance.

It's a bit of an epic, but absolutely well worth the effort.

Barton Fink

A rare miss from the Coen brothers. Boring, long-winded, and a little unintelligible.

Still, they had to do something wrong to contrast with all the brilliance I suppose.

The Wild One

A classic, deserving of comparison with the contemporary Rebel Without A Cause.

A bit melodramatic in places, but then that's how they did things in the fifties.


One of those films that's so legendary I just had to see it at some point in my life. It was absolutely huge (both in terms of box office and production costs) for its time, and looks it.

It's very long, for a start, and there are more extras than I remember seeing in any film apart from Metropolis. The story is another epic one, and as such it starts out a bit slowly. I didn't realise it's also the story of Jesus, but apparently that's one of the main points of the whole thing. Seemed like a bit of a sideline to the whole Ben-hur thing to me, though.

Another thing I didn't know was just how homoerotic the thing is - lots of semi-naked men looking longingly at each other, having long, lingering embraces. Watching the documentary, it seems this was intentional in at least one of the scenes. The initial reunion between Ben-hur and his childhood Roman friend was scripted as an actual lovers' quarrel. The unstated subtext was that they'd had some kind of relationship before the Roman went away, and the Roman wants to renew it now he's returned.

Ben-hur's spurning of him is the catalyst for pretty much all the following events in the movie. I'm not sure if this was commonly known when the film was contemporary, but it certainly makes things a bit more interesting!

Anyway, once things speed up a bit, this is quite an enjoyable, if simple film. The chariot race is renowned as one of the greatest movie action sequences ever, and justifiably so.

Batman Begins

Ah well it was a bit of a while ago that I saw this now. I've pretty much hated all the previous Batman movies, but this was heralded as something a bit different.

It is - for about half the movie. I really enjoyed all the Bruce Wayne backstory, but the other half of the film seemed to be pretty much the same old superhero ballax.

May well be remembered as one of the last few movies featuring Katie before she went a bit mad.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

When I first heard about this, I was very excited. Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, and the promise of something a lot closer to the book than the original movie was.

Then I saw a pre-release trailer, and I went right off the whole idea.

Now I've seen the movie, and while it was definitely better than the trailer indicated, it wasn't as good as I'd originally hoped for. Mr. Depp's Willy Wonka character seemed all wrong to me, and I didn't like the new Wonka backstory too much, didn't really seem necessary.

I'd also forgotten just how annoying Tim Burton's style can be, especially when it's combined with Danny Elfman's trademark intrusive and overbearing score.

Still and all, it wasn't too bad, but I'd have to say that I prefer the first movie.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ol' factory

I walked past a Pizza Hut the other night.

The smell emanating from that place seemed familiar, and at first I just thought it was because I've walked past that Pizza Hut a billion times before.

Partly it is that, but last night I realised that it's the same smell you get in some people's houses - particularly those who smoke inside.

As far as I can tell, there are only two possible reasons for this:

(1) People who smoke in their houses eat/cook lots of pizza;

(2) Pizza Hut put tobacco in their pizzas to get people addicted.

Other suggestions on the back of a postcard please.

Where's my fucking money, college boy?

Someone recommended The Rules of Attraction to me - that, combined with the appearance of The Largest Forehead in Hollywood, if not The World made it an eventual must-see.

Well, it's great. I did have a whole lot written out, witty and erudite as hell, but naturally Firefux crashed and I lost it all. Now, what was I saying?

This is based on a book by Bret Easton Ellis, the author of American Psycho, which turned out to be another great film. Wo, I've just realised that the central characters in both movies have the same surname. Hmmmm.

OK right yeah, back to the movie. Most people will have heard about the infamous chundering-on-the-semi-conscious-drunk-girl-while-having-sex-with-her scene, and yes, there are a number of similarly shocking images and ideas in this film. However, it's not defined by the shock value alone - the story and the way it's told are just damn good.

First off, the acting. Most of the characters are rich American college students, and virtually everyone strikes the right contradictory balance of arrogance and naivete so characteristic of them. A particular standout is the aforementioned James van der Beek. He has a pretty interesting character to work with, but could've done it so much worse than it turned out.

The reverse-time structure is something else that really could have turned out badly, but as it is done by something of a master of the technique, it works very well indeed.

The music is also brilliantly done - it's on a par with Donnie Darko in that respect. Some might say that merely choosing tracks (rather than writing music specifically for a film) is easy, but it's definitely a dark art. A good example is the suicide scene (I don't think I'm giving too much away there) - it could be said that Without You is an obvious and cliched choice. However, it fits brilliantly, and is made all the more haunting by an echo effect towards the end of the scene.

Incidentally, does anyone remember the NZ cheese ads that used that song? The tagline was, "You can't call it a day without cheese," they were around in the late 80s, and strangest of all, weren't for any particular brand of cheese, just cheese in general. Did we really need to be reminded to buy cheese?

That scene, along with a couple of others, uses the brilliantly simple technique of slowly tilting the camera, so the whole thing ends up on an angle. Maybe it's just me, but it seems to lend everything an other-worldly quality.

Anyway, rated this film really highly. It's not really much in the feel-good department (although there are a few laughs, particularly the scene-stealing "Dick" Jared), but it is beautifully made.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I never really liked the look of this film - loadsa talking, a lot of it apparently about wine. However, everyone in the universe has been going on about it since it came out, so I had to give it a look.

Sadly, it was pretty much as I expected. I've been trying really hard, but I just can't see how it really adds anything new to any of the genres it could be said to represent.

The buddy movie/odd couple thing has been done a billion times, and it's hard to see what's new here - introspective guy is brought out of his shell by outgoing mate, who in turn learns some lessons about maybe being a little less reckless - anybody ever see Dharma and Greg?

The romantic story also seems to be one I've seen infinite variations of. Not that this is a bad thing - there are some universal stories out there - but again, what was so particularly stand-out about the shy guy meets girl, can't get it together with her, then finally does, then fucks it up by being dishonest, then goes through a period of mourning, then sorts it out in time for the closing credits storyline?

As far as I can tell, the only new things this brought to either of those genres were (a) the use of split-screen (a la Woodstock), and (b) going on a lot about wine.

Too long and nowhere near as innovative or fresh as it's been made out.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Movie catch-up

Dirty Pretty Things

This stars the incomparable Audrey Tautou, in her first English-speaking role (albeit with a Turkish accent). Her co-star Chiwetel Eijiofor is equally brilliant, as is everyone in the movie.

The film has a great plot, slightly let down by the last few minutes. Overall though, a very very good piece of film-making.

American Splendor

This is the story of a really interesting, yet really ordinary guy (just like the rest of us). What makes it particuarly good is the way it's told. For a start, it's a true story about real people, who are all still alive. These real people are incorporated into the film, along with the actors who play them, and cartoon and animated sections. This could have ended up as a mess, but works very well indeed, giving the film a real documentary feel, and it's very appropriate to the subject.

It's not the same, but it reminds me a bit of Adaptation, in that it has approached story-telling in a new, innovative and interesting way, that is now going to be very difficult to emulate.

Pingu: A Very Special Wedding

I am a long-time Pingu fan, having discovered it when I was a student. Our whole flat would make sure they were home at 3 or 5 p.m. or whenever it was on.

I am now slightly older, but I thought my daughter (2.5) might like Pingu too. Turns out she loves it, as I still do.

If you've never seen any Pingu, make the effort, especially if you have kids of any age. Kicks the arse of any other kids' TV.

Bubba Ho-Tep

I'd wanted to see this for a while, as the premise is so bizarre - an elderly Elvis and JFK (a black man), residents of a nursing home, battle an evil centuries-old Egyptian mummy.

It didn't quite live up to my expectations, though. The whole thing seemed a bit low-budget (which it was), although the acting was pretty damn good. Bruce Campbell deserves his cult following - I must make an effort to see some of the Evil Dead films.

The Dinner Game (Le Diner de Cons)

This is just great. Not sure if it should be included amongst the great French films, but it is undeniably hilarious.

It is quite static, being set largely within one room, but the quality of acting and script makes this irrelevant. Beautiful French women, too.

Buena Vista Social Club

This was raved about all over the place when it first came out, and I (like many people) am in love with Cuba at the moment, so I was anticipating it quite highly.

Unfortunately, it didn't go over that well with me. The music was great, but Ry Cooder came across as a bit of a tosser - like he thought he was a bit of a hero for rediscovering these old guys. Well, it was a great discovery, but he just really seems like a bit of a wanker.

The way the film was shot was also odd - either stark handheld video, or beautiful, sweeping, smooth Steadicam shots. I found it hard to see what exactly Wim Wenders had to do with things, aside from bunging his name against it.

A bit of a disappointment, with a few bright spots.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Can't remember why I picked this one out, but I sure am glad I did. No, it's not the Ashton Kutcher version, but the 1967 original with Sidney Poitier. I'm sure the modern one's great(!), but this one is fantastic.

The subject matter (rich white girl brings older black fiancee home to surprise the parents) is far less controversial now than I imagine it was back then, but it still seems pretty relevant today. I think I expected some kind of farce where the white folks' stereotypes were challenged, but it really wasn't like that at all.

The white folks in question (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) have brought their daughter up to be open-minded, yet her choice of fiancee is still a great shock to them.

The way they deal with it seems very real, and like I said before, probably not that much different these days, in spite of supposedly better attitudes.

The Big Chill

Another one that's supposed to be so representative of a particular bunch of people at a particular time - I've heard it described as "an '80s American Graffiti" - not sure how true that is.

I loved this movie, though. It's a true ensemble cast - no one character is more important than any of the others. Watching the documentary on the DVD was fascinating, too - the actors spent so much time rehearsing, far more than actual filming - and who knew Kevin Costner was in the film? IMDb doesn't say anything about it, but Wikipedia knows.

Man on the Moon

I'm no fan of Taxi (before my time, guv), and godamnit I hate REM, but the raving about this movie was so high at the time, I just had to see it.

Glad I did. I wish Mr. Carrey did more stuff like this - he really is a good actor. Maybe he needs to do the crap to make his good stuff even better by comparison?

Anyway, the story is brilliant, and some of the little tricks used to tell it are brilliant. Need to recreate a sitcom as it was 20 or so years ago? Easy - just use the original actors, aged and everything. What's that you say? One of those actors already has a major role in the movie? Never mind, just pretend that he didn't exist in the sitcom.

Brilliant and warped stuff. It's probably been said before, but I think Andy Kaufman didn't die, he just became Charlie Kaufman.

Shaun of the Dead

I went to see this at the movies on the recommendation of a few people. I thought it was OK, but not brilliant.

After a second viewing, I like it a hell of a lot more. I've never been a fan of gore/splatter/zombie movies, so there are probably a whole raft of references I just don't get, but even so, this is both incredibly funny and very well crafted.

The DVD extras are pretty hilarious too, especially the Michael Caine/Sean Connery pisstake.

Trains and sheds

I recently bought one of these (in fact, this exact one):
The side of a shed
The front of a shed
via a well-known auction site. I had to travel to another city to collect it, and elected to do so by train, as it worked out cheaper than gas would've cost to get another car up there and back again.

Passenger trains in NZ are in a bit of a sad state, but my 2-hour, $24 journey was wonderful. It started in the late afternoon, so the combination of a low sun and weird tinting on the windows allowed me to pretend that I was in a foreign country.

I alternated that with pretending to be the camera in the Chemical Bros. Star Guitar video by Gondry.

I've been on trains in other cities before - cities unfamiliar to me - and I always judge the city by the view out the window. Consequently, I think of these places as kind of industrial wastelands. I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's only now that I've travelled through (part of) a city I know very well that I realise just how wrong I've been.

Of course there are no pretty parks or expensive neighbourhoods backing onto the railway line, and of course the noisy, dirty industrial areas are right next to it!

You know how if you watch all the credits for a movie, when you get to the last, static image, it looks like it's slowly moving? Go to the next paragraph if you don't know what I'm on about. If you do, well, when the train stops after you've been staring out the window at the moving scenery for ten minutes or more, you get the same effect. Everything outside seems to be slowly moving, in fact, I thought we really were moving until I checked properly.

Anyway, no matter what you think, I love my Volvo. It has heated front seats, wiper/washers on the headlights, and two rear-facing child seats that fold up out of the boot floor. It's already done sterling service carting loads of family about, and bringing home an inherited chest of drawers.

All for just the price of about a thousand flat whites. Cars are cheap here.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

80s Kids

It's not like me to contribute to a meme, but this truly is a masterwork:

Click me to go to Nilzopi's JCB song

It brings a nostalgic tear to the eye of those of us who grew up in the 80s, especially boys who grew up in England in the 80s.

I also wanted to have some record of having found it before everyone (in my country at least) gets completely sick of it!

Mind you, I'm an oldo (and something of an out-of-toucho), so maybe everyone's sick of it already. If that's the case, well at least it's not fucking Crazy Frog.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Fuck Yeah II

I'm not quite sure why I put National Treasure on the fatso list. I know I'd seen the trailer, so maybe I just did it for a laugh. Or maybe I'd seen and liked the last two films Mr. Cage appeared in, therefore thought this'd be worth it by association - who knows?

Whatever the reason, it turned up. You might expect (if you had seen the trailer or heard about it at all) it to be a jingoistic, cliched and overblown blockbuster action flick.

Instead, you'll find a cliched, jingoistic and overblown blockbuster action flick (see what I did? The words are in a slightly different order). The bonus comes in the the form of a Masonic treasure conspiracy, contrived plotlines, and the most intrusive score I've heard for a while.

There was one memorable scene where, in the middle of a whole lot of suspenseful action, the male and female leads flashed each other a quick romantic look (as so often happens). This would have been about 1.5 seconds, and the music actually changed from ACTION ACTION, to smooch smooch and back again, not at all smoothly.

I suppose a score like this does have some benefit though. If you were blind, you'd still know exactly what emotions to feel for every second of the running time, simply by following the music.

What else? Sean Bean [is that "Sheen Been", or "Shaun Bhaun"?] is absolutely masterful as the bad guy with all the cliche moves (just fucking shoot him, don't blabber on and give him time to work his way out of it!). The aforementioned blind people might have trouble with this one, as he's called Ian. It's been said elsewhere, but when the heroes are yelling, "Watch out, Ian's coming," to each other, it's hard to imagine them being too worried. [No offence to any Ians reading, no, wait, full offence, fuck you.]

Inexplicably, Christopher Plummer, Jon Voight and Harvey Keitel all have a go in this film. I can only guess that some sort of patriotic fervour had gripped them in the wake of 9/11 and so on.

I could go on and on about the plot's reliance on dumb luck and bullshit guesswork, but there's just too much in there to even get started.

To wrap it up, I absolutely loved this movie. It is a perfect example of classic film-making, the sort of thing I thought disappeared with Romancing the Stone and the Indiana Jones trilogy.

While all the above criticisms (and many more) apply, and it is chock full o' movieland cliches, it's still great. It's like something from a more innocent time, and it seems like you can't do that sort of thing these days - audiences are just too savvy and can see through the bullshit a lot more easily.

However, the brainless family action flick is still a valid category. Sure, there've been better examples than this one, but the quite phenomenal success it enjoyed at the box office (and the inevitable sequel) show that either:
  • the filmgoing public are credulous idiots
  • people still enjoy seeing old-fashioned entertainment, and suspending their disbelief for a while
I choose to believe the latter.

Shit happens when you party naked

Bad Santa really is great. It was different to what I'd expected, though.

I thought it was going to be a kind of inverse Christmas story, where no-one really learns anything or grows as a person, and the scrooge/loser doesn't have an epiphany of any kind.

Turns out this is a heartwarming Christmas tale, just like any of these. Hang on, you say - isn't the central character an alcoholic criminal masquerading as a santa? Isn't he rather short on redeeming features? And didn't I hear that this has the highest number of occurrences of the word "fuck" and its derivatives of any christmas movie ever?

Well, true these things may be, but it's still a classic christmas story. The fact that it's been told using more modern language and characters doesn't alter the main themes of "there's good in everyone", and the very christian "redemption is possible no matter what a wanker you've been."

To my surprise, there were some very touching moments in the film, and to my further surprise, I actually liked the cardiothermal nature of the plot, probably more than I would have enjoyed the more non-traditional deconstructionist theme I expected.

Billy Bob Thornton is excellent, although it would have been interesting to see how it came out with two of the other potential leads: Larry David and Bill "motherfuckin', ghostbustin'-ass" Murray. I can quite easily imagine someone like Larry in the role, but I find it more difficult to see Bill Murray as Willie.

The late John Ritter makes a relatively brief, but hilarious appearance - not someone I've ever rated highly before.

The best of all, though, is Lauren Graham as the girl with a Santa fetish. I've always loved the Gilmore Girls (no I'm not embarrassed to admit it) and their caffeine-fuelled superdialogue, but this was something a little bit different. It's always nice to see actors outside the roles you've typecast them in.

In short, I liked this very much, but not entirely for the reasons I thought I would. Looks like a touching, heartfelt, highly offensive and extremely funny film all in one is possible after all. Perhaps another case of everything the Brothers Coen touching turning to gold?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

¡Viva La Motocicleta!

Diarios de motocicleta, or The Motorcycle Diaries is one that I deliberately missed at the film fest. I like bikes (especially old ones), am relatively interested in South America in general, and would really like to know more about Cuba and the important people in that country's history.

I think I read a bad review, or it clashed with something else I wanted to see, so I didn't go. I kinda wish I had gone now, although I'm not really one of those that subscribes to the "a big screen is the only way to see movies" school of thought.

Anyway, this movie is absolutely great. I particularly like it for the scenery - it's a little bit like the makers were funded by their country's equivalent of the New Zealand Film Commission. You know what I mean - make sure your masterwork at least partly whores itself out as a tourist brochure and you'll get the money.

Having said that, I have no problem with seeing beautiful scenery, especially when it's actually quite integral to the film, as it is here. Plus, with old Bob Redford behind it, they may not have had very much trouble getting money!

The two main characters are brilliant - the young, earnest (pre-Che) Ernesto Guevara, and the older, more comical Alberto Granado, and the actors who played them are among the finest out there.

Gael García Bernal (who was also in Amores perros) in the words of someone I know: "I'm not a bender, but Gael Garcia Bernal is just beautiful, and a very good actor." I actually liked Rodrigo De la Serna better though. Possibly this was down to the characterisation, and the fact that this film was made knowing what would ultimately happen to Sr. Guevara.

I mean, the young Che was played, as I said before, very earnestly. I can see why this was done, and who knows, it may have really been how he was. Then again, he might have been a bit more of a larrikin, like most guys in their early 20s. Knowing who Ernesto Guevara became, it's difficult to imagine him being portrayed as anything other than serious and earnest.

Like I say, this could well have been exactly how he was, but to me, Alberto Granado seemed a slightly more realistic character. Not that Ernesto was unrealistic . . . o no, I'm tying myself up a bit here.

To (try and) sum up: this movie is a fascinating look at parts of South America in the 1950s, and at some of the formative years of a man that lots of people have T-shirts and posters of, but I bet many know very little about.

Watch this film, if for nothing more than pure aesthetics - who knows, you might get a little more out of it.

What do you call a man with a seagull on his head?


Cliff Richard sang "Summer Holiday", and I've just been on one of those. There's your tenuous link for the day.


We went to a place called Shelly Beach, just north of Coromandel. As we are spoiled by previous ownership of a campervan (and anyway, we have no big tent), we stayed in cabins. They are much easier to put up in the pissing-down rain, not that there was any.

Shelly Beach is aptly named, although it might also be called Very Shallow For Miles Beach, or perhaps It's A Long Way To The Water At Low Tide Beach. Neither of these are complaints, it's a great place, especially for small kids.

Much to the chagrin of my sister-in-law, I enforced the use of our old Primus camp stove to boil water for cups of tea, despite the availability of an electric jug about four metres away. Gotta at least pretend we're camping, right?

I found the Viking inflatable dinghy (wonder if it was made by these guys?) in its bag in our garage before we left, so after a quick inflation test, we took it to the beach with us. It gave sterling service, I got very sore arms from rowing it about the place, and the kids absolutely loved it.

This thing was bought for me (and presumably my brother) for christmas 1979.


I biked over to Coromandel a couple of times, the second time I also went up Driving Creek Road. This is just to the north of Coromandel Town, and runs across to the other side of the peninsula. It is a metal road (i.e. gravel) in the classic NZ style - buchs-clad, lots of sharp, cambered corners, and great stepth©. Biking up it was pretty slow, bottom gear all the way, no more than about 8 km/h.

A weird thing comes over me on roads like that, though. Even though it's bloody hard work, I'm constantly saying to myself, "I'll just go round that next corner, then I'll turn round and go back down." I didn't record it, but I must've gone at least a couple of km, and probably about 200m up before I finally turned around and went down again.

Going down a metal road on an old hardtail mountain bike isn't quite as much fun as I'd thought, especially when you're never sure if a car's coming around the next corner or not. Corrugations, annoying in a car, induce blinding blurriness on a bike.

We also visited the Driving Creek Railway, which I have gone on about at length before. Suffice to say it lived up to and even exceeded my expectations, and is highly recommended.

We twice visited the Driving Creek Cafe, just down the road. They are organic as an organ, and the only thing even vaguely close to meat was the baby goat weeding the garden. Pretty wicked nice food though, I even had a tempeh burger (in the process finding out what tempeh actually is).

The staff there all appear to be young hippies, and are all incredibly happy about everything. In this cold world, it's a little unnerving at first, but actually becomes rather infectious.

Pleasingly enough, they also had a good range of the Teatotal teas, which I vastly prefer to even an excellent coffee.

We came back home refreshed as hell, and I feel ready to attack the new year. I'll let you know if/when this uncharacteristic positivity wears off.

Short Reviews #1

Since I haven't added anything here for far too long, I will instead do a pile of short reviews of movies I've seen since Team America World Police.

Please also note that I had a DVD player which had a problem with minor scratches (the kind that most rental discs are covered in). This meant the majority of movies would have lengthy pauses somewhere during them, followed by the skipping of long and often important parts.

I have since bought a player that can handle the jandal, but I fear the old one may have coloured my opinions of some of the movies.

Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement)

I first saw this at my local boutique cinema, and, while they don't bring coffee to my seat at my house, I don't regret getting this out on DVD. Anyone who hasn't seen it should - no, must!

The commentary was very interesting too, although, as the director stated at the beginning, it reveals the huge amount of smoke, mirrors, blu-tak and string that go into making a movie. Taping a bunch of cats together springs to mind . . .

The Princess Bride

I was a little worried about this, as another 80s kids' fantasy movie wasn't anywhere near as good to watch as an adult in the 21st century. TPB never quite was a kids' movie though. It is still brilliant and hilarious. If you haven't seen it, do so. I find it quite inconceivable that you won't like it . . .

Don Juan de Marco

I remember at the time finding some parts of this movie annoying, and other parts excellent. Now (a month or so later), I can only remember the good bits - must've been quite good, then!

Cheech & Chong: Up In Smoke

Here's what I wrote about this for my fatso review:

"Only good for the dope-smoking jokes. There is very little plot to speak of, and what there is doesn't make much sense (although some of it is explained in the deleted scenes)."

Get Shorty

I really can't remember too much about this, but I know I liked it overall.

On a related note, please read something by Elmore Leonard (there's plenty to choose from!)

Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

I'm not sure whether I like this or AVLE better. I think the latter is a better all-round film, but Amelie has a greater sense of fun, and some of the detail is brilliant. Another one you must watch.

Shark Tale

Hard to know which wins the donkey prize between this and Robots. Both are pretty awful, but I think this is the overall loser, from loss of points due to:
Enough about that one.


Another 80s puppetry movie, and just nowhere near as good nowadays. I think maybe I was hypnotised by Jennifer Connelly and her superbrows, or perhaps I've just lost all my childhood innocence now.

Worth seeing for David Bowie's mind-bogglingly dodgy performances though. On a related note, see if you can find a copy of the video for Dancing in the street, Bowie's 1985 duet with Mick Jagger. It was for a good cause, but as someone else said, "man, they must've been really getting through the cocaine to even contemplate that."


Wow! This actually blew me away. I wasn't really that interested when it came out, just didn't seem like a subject I'd be that fascinated by. The Oscars it got seemed a bit like nails in the coffin really.

A colleague, whose movie taste doesn't coincide much with mine told me I had to see it, so to shut him up I put it on the fatso list. I was well wrong.

This is a brilliant biography - it doesn't seem to have anywhere near as much of the usual Hollywoodisation, which could have been there in spades, with several "overcoming adversity" angles. Jamie Foxxxxxxxxxxx absolutely deserves any accolades he gets for this role - I quite forgot that I was watching an actor for the majority of the running time. He really became Ray Charles.

Super Troopers

This is mentioned on The Internest in the same breath as Office Space, only it is about some State Troopers somewhere in middle America. It's a pretty fair comparison, although the old DVD player really had a hard time with this one.

What I did see was pretty good, but I'll have to watch it again without the smouldering rage brought on by constant pausing and skipping.


Alright, this has gone on long enough already.