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.