Thursday, February 16, 2012

Skate Pain


Hi gang.

I haven't forgotten you all. I just went back to work and moved house. This was the biggest move I've ever done. I haven't left the state or anything, but this is the furthest away I've lived from where I grew up, and I like it. I will miss living by the beach, and being super close to some of my family and friends, but living closer to the city, to my regular comic book store, and to work will vastly improve my state of mind I think.

I've seen a handful of films since I last posted, so if you enjoy reading my movie rants you have a chunk of those to look forward to.

Pictured is my hand after I destroyed in a skateboarding accident yesterday afternoon. Let me set the scene:

I am still in the process of adventuring the suburb and surrounding area of our new home. I had to go to the post office to pick up some coffee I had ordered, so rather than drive for 5 minutes I decided to take my skateboard and roll there. Getting home much earlier than I had been all of last year, I figured I should use at least some of that extra time to exercise, so skateboarding fit the bill.

On the way to the post office I encountered a fairly big hill. I walked up it and then rolled down. It was a fast roll, complete with skateboard wobbles, and I enjoyed every second. Thankfully the incline of the hill mellowed just before an intersection and I was able to stop easily.

I picked up my coffee, bought myself a drink and a newspaper, and then began the trek back home. As I walked up the hill I had just rolled down I debated whether or not I should roll back down the other side. It was this split second decision that would see me covered in bandages at work the next day.

As I rolled down the hill, the wind in my hair, I noticed that this side of the incline was not mellowing out before an intersection. I saw a mattress of soft, tall grass to my left, and thought perhaps I could slow myself down by rolling my board into it. Instead of the soft, gradual slow down that I had anticipated, the grass acted like a small brick wall, stopping my board suddenly. As I became airborne and lurched forward I could see the cement footpath speeding towards my vulnerable face. I stuck out my hands and they acted as breaks, along with my right shoulder, my right elbow and forearm, my side, and my right knee. I destroyed my new-ish shorts and a few layers of skin, but I came out of it with no broken bones. Also the coffee survived.

Walking home, blood and torn clothes visible to all, skateboard in hand, I felt like I was wearing a quirky Halloween costume, but I think the defeated look on my face was probably all too convincing for these wounds to be fake.

Now I'm sticky and I sting. If I am to attempt a massive downhill roll like that again I think some padding and protection is required. I am not a 12 year old any more.

Also, check this out.

jej

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Six months later . . . . another moofie rant

I'm starting to think maybe I should start a brand spanking new blog to give me motivation to update it more regularly. Maybe next year.


Anyway, I've been working hard as a high school teacher and enjoying it, and I have been devouring films, books, comics, and music as much as I ever have, so here is another blog about a bunch of films I saw.


TROLL HUNTER


A Norwegian film in the style of 'The Blair Witch Project' and 'Cloverfield', but with much more of a sense of humour. 'Troll Hunter' tells the story of some film making kids who follow a real life troll hunter and unearth the world of trolls. The troll designs are fantastic, the curiosity and interest of a fictional 'real world' story are still there but they are married perfectly with a lot of laugh out loud jokes and fun. This was fantastic.


VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL


I'm hooked on cult Japanese films at the moment and it's all because of this one. I picked it up cheap on DVD and since I've been hunting and buying more gory treasures like this one.


'Vampire girl vs Frankenstein girl' tells the story of a teenage vampire who turns a boy she likes into a vampire through her Valentine chocolate gift. This boy's jealous bitchy girlfriend wants revenge, which leads to her death. Fortunately her crazy school principle father dresses up in Kabuki clothing and creates a living corpse, bringing her daughter back to life with some fun and morbid additions.


This film feels like a Japanese version of a Troma movie, complete with odd unP.C. kind of racist jokes involving a group of Asian girls who wish they were African American and so wear black face and prosthetics to look black. The gore is plentiful, the action is fast paced, and I had a huge smile on my face for the entire length of the film.


ROBOGEISHA


The title says it all. A huge corporation trains a bunch of females to become geisha assassins, using men's lust against them. For a film about geisha's there is very little nudity or sex in this film, if any. It's all about the training, the battles, and the tech. The geisha's are given robotic weapon upgrades that get more and more ridiculous as the film progresses, including a razor blade that comes out of the mouth, a machine gun breast, and a body that transforms into a tank. This was another fun gore fest of crazy Japanese proportions.


MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD


One more Japanese gore fest and then I'll move on.


A sweet, teenage girl starts to get an itchy hand on her 16th birthday. Then she finds out that she is in fact a mutant and her hand changes into a grotesque blobby mess that turns people into bloody messes easily. She joins a team of mutant girls led by a man in Peking Opera-ish face makeup. They fight against a team of anti-mutant government soldiers who wear these crazy masks where the huge noses shoot bullets. This was another joyful viewing for me that I will easily sit through multiple times.


RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES


We have been treated to so many great big budget films this year! While films like 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' have retarded titles and equally moronic storylines, a film like 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' shows that a big budget crowd pleaser can also be a well paced story with some nice drama elements.


'Rise...' acts as a prequel to the original Heston starring 'Planet of the Apes' and it is a good one. The reason for a race of intelligent apes existing makes sense, James Franco plays a likable enough guy, and we also get treated to a fair whack of David Hewlett (McKay from Stargate: Atlantis). The effects look fantastic, with Andy Serkis lending his emotive Gollum facial skills to Caesar, the main character Ape.


I hope this film is the first of many Ape reinventions, because unlike Tim Burton's unforgivable remake of 'Planet of the Apes', 'Rise..' actually adds something to the original material and is put together extremely well. I dug this a bunch.


Well, that's all for now.


See you in another 6 months...... hopefully before then.


jej

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Moofies - A catch up rant on all the stuff that has been viewed by me since the dawn of 2011

So..... hi.


Being a teacher is incredibly time consuming so blogging has kind of stopped happening, again.


Rather than continue to put off writing a bunch of posts for movies I've seen I have decided to just write a bunch of short little blahs about said films in one post, so here goes.




TRUE GRIT


EXPECTATIONS: I haven't seen the original film or read the novel that True Grit is based on, but the Coen brothers are ridiculously trustworthy at making great films so this should be fantastic.


REALITY: This is fantastic; from start to finish a solid tale of loyalties in a vast and beautiful desert landscape. The performances are all solid, the soundtrack sets the tone perfectly, and this is yet another great Coen brothers film.


****1/2


127 HOURS


EXPECTATIONS: Danny Boyle proved that he could make interesting but poorly constructed films that everyone goes nuts over for some reason with Slumdog Millionaire. I assume this will be the same. James Franco is pretty great though, so maybe that will save this film.


REALITY: Franco tries his hardest and his performance is very believable, but Danny Boyle's insistence on using awful, tacky editing techniques (every time Franco takes a photo we hear a loud camera noise and a cheap and nasty looking photo wipe effect), and poorly executed inner turmoil dream sequences makes the whole thing fall into an icky heap. The film kept my interest for its entirety, which is an achievement considering it mostly involves a guy with his arm stuck under a rock, but it all plays out in an awful, film student fashion which is pretty crap really.


**




BURLESQUE

EXPECTATIONS: I enjoy watching pop stars tank on film (see: Cool As Ice, Glitter) and I hope to see it happen again.

REALITY: I was not ready to enjoy this as much as I did. Within the first couple of minutes Christina Aguilera starts singing and it was tough to not be impressed. She can belt it out in an old school way, restraining herself from diva-ing it up all over the place. Also she's smoking hot.

Aguilera leaves her dead end job to move to the city, looking for stardom. She walks into a burlesque club and her whole world changes. The song and dance numbers are all fantastic, and they take place on stage and not in some strange musical reality where people sing what they're saying. I know this isn't a big deal for some people but for me it makes the whole thing much more stomachable.

Cher looks like Skeletor, but thankfully only sings a couple of songs, and even through her awful surgical nightmare of a face, her performance as the fairy godmother type character is nice enough.

There is a little drama and a little conflict, but it's all minimal and fixable. The focus is on the tunes and the girls. I also loved how the one romantic interest in the film is a guy who wears eye-liner and is a total pushover. The focus is on Aguilera doing what she wants and being a strong, sexy woman. It was great to see a film where the romantic interest wasn't the focus and the female lead needs to sing on stage for herself and doesn't feel the need to live up to some guy's expectations.

The film also has a timeless quality to it. Some of the closing numbers are very much a product of 2011 pop music, but the costumes, setting and storyline aren't concreted in 2011 at all.

Anyway, I'm getting a little gushy and ranty and messy about all of this. The girls are sexy, the dancers can dance, the singers can sing, and the whole thing doesn't feel like sexist garbage. I was really into it.

***1/2


THE KING'S SPEECH


EXPECTATIONS: This cast is solid, so I expect a quaint film with a solid cast and I'd be surprised if this wasn't enjoyable.


REALITY: The King's Speech is a buddy film with the King as the lead. I won't go on about it too long because you've more than likely seen it or read about it a lot before now. Geoffrey Rush, the speech therapist from the working class, makes a connection with the King with a stutter and they become close friends. That's it. The performances are solid, the design of the film is very muted and gray, Helena Bonham-Carter is a great Queen, Guy Pearce is a great King's brother; it's kind of ridiculous how good this film is. The script, the cast, the set; all the pieces were put in place to make a solid film and it was solid. No surprises really.


****1/2

MORNING GLORY

EXPECTATIONS: I expect Rachel McAdams to be all pretty and charming, and I expect Harrison Ford to be old. This looks like a movie released in the 1980s and hopefully that's a plus.

REALITY: This was overly silly in places, but McAdams pulls it off. The focal relationship of the film is between McAdams and Ford in father/daughter type roles. It's cheesy and the use of slow motion running without irony should be outlawed, but I enjoyed this a lot.

***1/2


 HOW DO YOU KNOW


EXPECTATIONS: Kind of an odd cast to put together, but I think Paul Rudd has the potential to be good, so here goes.


REALITY: This is the worst. I thought that perhaps I would get a predictable but fun romantic comedy, but this film doesn't play by the rules at all. What we get is an overly convoluted plot with a bunch of unlikable characters that I don't care about. Reese Witherspoon is a total self obsessed bitch, neurotic but not in a fun way; Owen Wilson is a dick but it's not funny; Jack Nicholson looks like he's asleep; and then there's poor old Paul Rudd.


Paul Rudd has the potential to be the new "boring but funny every day guy" of Hollywood, but instead he gets cast in strange films like Dinner for Schmucks and this, where he gets little moments of nice guy that are shat all over by strange asshole moments.


How Do You Know = unwatchable.


*

THE RESIDENT


EXPECTATIONS: I expect to get creeped out. A creepy thriller with a good cast, this could be great.


REALITY: Meh. This is definitely worth a watch and there are moments of tension throughout, but maybe I've just seen this kind of thing too many times before. It's not badly made at all, and the performances are all decent (how great is it that Christopher Lee is still acting!) but by the end I kind of felt like I should be on the edge of my seat more than I was. If you don't watch many horror films then perhaps this will be the scare fest that it promises to be, but for me it was just a semi-interesting but well made average thriller.


***

 THE GREEN HORNET


EXPECTATIONS: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is still one of my all time favourite films, and everything Michel Gondry has done since has at least been aesthetically pleasing to me; his crafty, hand-made look is unlike any other film maker's working in Hollywood. Can he make a superhero film with Seth Rogen in it? I have no idea.


REALITY: This was kind of a mixed bag film. The drama of Rogen and his father is handled well, the action scenes are fantastic and shot in an interesting way, some of the 3D effects were quite cool and unlike what other 3D films have been doing, and some of the comedy is hilarious, but as a whole I think it's a film that needs some harsh editing to iron out the creases and change from a mixed bag into a solid whole.


The subplot where Rogen and his buddy Kato argue over the love of Cameron Diaz was just stupid and messy; the first Bloodnofsky scene where the villian is unsure of what his persona should be was funny, but then we saw almost the same exact scene another couple of times in mildly different scenarios and it lost all of its umph. I think the strengths of the film were the friendship between the Hornet and Kato and the action, so they should have been the focus, leaving behind all the bits that didn't work.


Apologies for yet another convoluted rant. In a nutshell, I'm saying this had the potential to be really great, but it wasn't.


***

TETSUO: THE BULLET MAN

EXPECTATIONS: Tsukamoto is like David Lynch crossed with Roger Corman crossed with the high over-dramatic style of anime and Japanese cinema. I love Shinya Tsukamoto as much as I love David Lynch, meaning I will watch this film with rose coloured glasses on and love it. This may make my review/rant of the film utterly pointless but I don't care.


REALITY: A third and fantastic addition to the Tetsuo films. Out of the three, Bullet Man actually has a bit more of a narrative structure. All the punk/industrial elements are still there, but now there is a bit more of an origin tale added to the mix.


Trent Reznor did the soundtrack for this film, and the pairing of Tsukamoto and Reznor is an obvious natural fit.


Just watch the damn thing and enjoy


*****


That's that. Will I post more regularly now, or will you get another long rant like this in 2 or 3 months? Only time will tell.


Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Moofies - Rabbit Hole (2010)


EXPECTATIONS: John Cameron Mitchell was the creator of one of my favourite musicals of all time, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a film about a punk rocker whose sex operation got botched. Mitchell followed that up with a film about a woman who couldn't get an orgasm, Shortbus. Will Rabbit Hole be a film about Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart having anal sex or something?

REALITY: This is not what I expected from Mitchell at all. The dramatic scenes in his previous two films have been very good, but there's also a lot of humour and sex. Rabbit Hole is almost devoid of both of these.

Kidman and Eckhart play Becca and Howie, a couple who are grieving the loss of their young son. It's very grim, but not overly so. Without giving too much away, there were some moments in this film that made me feel good about life. We see characters work through hard times, and not in a way that ends with sunshine and lollipops but in a realistic way.

Both Eckhart and Kidman are great performers (despite Kidman's crazy alien lip surgery. She would have been a totally hot older woman if she had stayed away from plastic surgery. Why would you ever do that to yourself?) and Rabbit Hole is chance for them both to work with material that I imagine would be difficult. It's also great to see that John Cameron Mitchell has mega talent in directing more than one kind of film.

***1/2

Moofies - Black Swan (2010


EXPECTATIONS: Darren Aronofsky is a sucker for ultra high drama, so much so that his films get a little too much for me at times. I loved Pi and Requiem for a Dream had a fantastic soundtrack and an interesting use of split screen, but The Fountain was just badly cast (not that the actors were bad, they just didn't fit in that film at all I think) and The Wrestler was extremely well cast and put together, but some scenes just felt like too much. I dig what Aronofsky does, but I think with a little more restraint I would completely love his stuff. ANYWAY, Natalie Portman is a class act so this could be great.


REALITY: Aronofsky's over the top mega drama is still present in Black Swan but I think the content of the story matches his style well and I never felt like I was being urged to cry or anything.


Portman plays Nina Sayers, a dancer in a troupe run by Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel). Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder, who seems to be in a lot lately which is awesome. I hope 2011 is the year of Winona. Reality Bites and Heathers were both awesome. Yes they were) was once the star of the company, but now she is past her prime according to Cassel, who is now looking for a new star for his next big production, Black Swan.


Portman's performance alone makes this worth seeing. She's begins as a very uptight character who, through the course of the film, becomes much more loose and animalistic; her story mirroring that of the character she is playing in the Black Swan performance. Portman pulls this off perfectly and I'm sure she'll need a new shelf for the huge number of awards that are headed her way for this film.


Portman doesn't carry the film by any means. She is surrounded by a solid cast, also including Mila 'Meg Griffin' Kunis and Barbara 'wind beneath my wings' Hershey.


I know pretty much nothing about ballet, but there is a lot of it here and it all looks real and amazing as far as I can tell. It's also great to see a film about ballet matched up with a psychological tale. I've never seen this combination before and the two genres (is ballet a genre?) work together very well.


I think Aronofsky's talents match these two genres perfectly. His use of editing and sweeping, quick camera shots match the musical beats of the film, and his more experimental film making elements are a perfect match for the psychological aspects of Nina's story.


Black Swan isn't some life changing experience, but it is an extremely well put together genre film with solid performances, especially from Natalie Portman.


****

So it's 2011...

Greetings dear reader.


It's been a long time since I've blogged about anything, and I was thinking it might be a good idea to change the name and address of my blog to something that pertains more specifically to its content. "Hello Internet" does not really bring "movie rants" to mind, but that is what you will find here. I have decided not to change my blog name and address, however, as I may lose the few readers that I already have, and I can't be arsed.


So it is now 2011 and I am finally employed as a high school English and Media teacher. I've been placed in a school that is literally as far away from where we live as it could possibly be, but I wasn't going to turn down what sounds like a great position, so I will very soon be one of those strange creatures that is awake at 5 in the morning in order to get to work on time. Lucky me. You know you're getting older when you decide to take a job that means you have to get up at 5 rather than not take the job and get up at a reasonable hour of the morning, like 9 or 10 (or realistically 7).


Despite completely changing my sleeping hours and kind of freaking out about actually beginning a job that I have no experience in (I've done plenty of prac, but I was always under the constraints and supervision of another teacher. Having my own classes will be completely different) I am excited about beginning the job that I spent four (technically 6) years at university training to do. And I will get paid for it.


Also, I'm going to see Wire next week. I can't believe they are coming to Perth. I haven't been this excited to see a band in a long time.


There we go. That was kind of 'hello internet'y wasn't it?


jej

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Moofies - 30 Days of Night - Dark Days (2010)


EXPECTATIONS: A budget sequel to a great horror comic book adaptation. This could be as much of a waste of time as Cruel Intentions 3.

REALITY: This is not all bad. I read the comic book when it was first released years ago and from what I remember this is pretty similar, at least in part. There are some decent gory moments and the make up is up to the standard set by the first film, but the problem is with the slow pacing. Slow, quiet films are fine when they're filled with great performances, but instead of building tension this film builds boredom. The vampy gore moments are pretty great, but all the silence inbetween is not very interesting.

Not bad, but not great.

**1/2

Moofies - Psycho Shark (2010)


EXPECTATIONS: The title and image above promise a lot. Can this film deliver the trashy fun fest that I'm looking for?


REALITY: Not really.


Psycho Shark revolves more around a kind of creepy killer story that I honestly didn't quite understand for lack of paying attention. There is an awful lot of the camera perving on giggling chesty Japanese girls in their bathers and not much else. The huge CGI shark moments are great but they probably fill up less than a minute of this boring snooze fest.


*

Moofies - Mega Pirahna (2010)


EXPECTATIONS: Yet another piece of junk with a DVD case that reads something like "watch if you enjoyed movie X, the movie we ripped off almost completely but with a miniscule budget and no talent".


REALITY: I think the people at The Asylum productions must spend a lot of time reading film magazines and trawling imdb, looking for what the next big film will be. They get some mobsters and/or entrepreneurs to throw a little money their way, hire a Z-grade over the hill celebrity and BAM! instant movie that's released alongside it's much better and much more expensive counterpart.


The Asylum is responsible for such atrocities/golden turds as The Terminators and Alien VS Hunter. This is not a joke.


The latest film to get the budget treatment is Pirahna 3D, which in itself was an homage to z-grade films in the first place. Mega Pirahna has a plot not worth mentioning, a muscled chisel jaw action star in Paul Logan, the star of many Asylum films, and a z-grade celeb in Tiffany. Remember Tiffany? Remember how hot and cool she was? Now she looks like someone's Mum and not in a good way. It's just embarrassing.


You remember those old screen savers where a series of cheap colourful 3D fish slowly covered the screen? Well that's what the piranha attacks look like in this film. There was some entertainment to be had in seeing the enormous piranha's jump out of the sea and make buildings blow up, but it's the sort of entertainment best enjoyed with friends and a lot of alcohol.


1/2 a star.

Moofies - Knight and Day (2010)


EXPECTATIONS: I expect to see a lot of the smuggly handsome Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz being sexy, and stuff exploding, and I'm fine with that.


REALITY: This was a surprisingly great action film. The set up is pretty ridiculous, but it's ridiculous in a Bond kind of way, rather than in a Killers kind of way. Cruise and Diaz bounce of each other really well, and the action doesn't stop for long at all, so there is little time to worry about how dumb the whole thing is because there are massive planes shooting down at our two heroes, or Cruise is too busy jumping on to the hood of a moving car.


There were zero surprises in the storyline but it was a huge surprise how entertaining this was.


***1/2

Moofies - Easy A (2010)


EXPECTATIONS: I'm a pretty huge sucker for some teen comedy angsty crap, but this looks like it might offer more than you're average date flick time killer. Also, Emma Stone was great in The House Bunny. She was pretty much the only great thing about it.


REALITY: If John Hughes was still alive and making teen movies they would probably look a lot like this. It seems that the film makers have taken the quirky 'being smart is cool' angle of Juno (which is a film that sucked so hard. Yes it did), the bitchy school humour of Mean Girls (which was fantastic) and mixed it all together with some Hughes-y emotional 'awww' stuff. They all mix together well to make a great film.


Stone plays Olive, a nice smart kid who is fairly invisible amongst her fellow students. One of her male friends is gay and being bullied because of it, so in order to get through high school with the least amount of negative attention Olive agrees to help him out. The two go to a party acting completely wasted, find a bedroom and make loud noises as if they are having sex. This works well for the gay kid, but Olive is now looked upon as a slut. She begins to perform this charitable act for others and things get out of hand.


Emma Stone is extremely easy to watch and funny. If she wasn't this movie would be a huge failure, because we are pretty much with her for the entire duration. The casting is fantastic, with Patricia Clarkson as her mother, Thomas Hayden Church as her cool sarcastic English teacher, and Lisa Kudrow as her guidance counselor.


On occasional there are moments that teeter on the edge of being too quirky and annoying, but I think the film manages to keep it on the edge of being likable and not taking it all too far.


This was solid.


****

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Moofies - Catfish (2010)

EXPECTATIONS: All I know is that this is a documentary that played at Cannes with an odd title and I'm curious.


REALITY: Ariel and Henry are two film makers who work in the same studio as Ariel's brother Nev, a photographer. Ariel and Henry start to film Nev when he begins an online relationship with a young girl, Abby, who has sent him a painting she has done of one of his photos. Through facebook and phone conversations Nev gets to know Abby's whole family and becomes close with the young painter's older sister.


This seemingly interesting and nice story turns out to be something completely unexpected. The fly on the wall style documentary captures the turn of events extremely well, and I think the subjects were handled appropriately and in a very caring way.


I can't say too much for fear of spoiling the film; that being said I will watch this again. It was fantastic.


*****

Moofies - Catfish (2010)

EXPECTATIONS: All I know is that this is a documentary that played at Cannes with an odd title and I'm curious.


REALITY: Ariel and Henry are two film makers who work in the same studio as Ariel's brother Nev, a photographer. Ariel and Henry start to film Nev when he begins an online relationship with a young girl, Abby, who has sent him a painting she has done of one of his photos. Through facebook and phone conversations Nev gets to know Abby's whole family and becomes close with the young painter's older sister.


This seemingly interesting and nice story turns out to be something completely unexpected. The fly on the wall style documentary captures the turn of events extremely well, and I think the subjects were handled appropriately and in a very caring way.


I can't say too much for fear of spoiling the film; that being said I will watch this again. It was fantastic.


*****