Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blue Valentine is not an appropriate date movie.

Note: I wrote this a few days ago, then fell asleep halfway through, then went camping for NYE. Soz.

I just went to see Blue Valentine. It was truly amazing. So many types of amazing, in fact, I worry that in my somewhat tired and sleep-deprived state, I won't do the film the justice it deserves.

With regard to context, I had been on the verge of asking a particularly attractive and interesting boy that I've been hanging out with somewhat frequently if he would like to see it. With me.
Good thing I didn't.
It really isn't a date movie. By any stretch of the imagination. I mean, I may have gone to see this with a previous boyfriend of mine, but that's only because we were both film nerds of the massive variety and that's the sort of thing we'd watch at any time of day or night. Be that as it may, this particular boy is not Mitts. Nor is he a cinephile who (I assume, anyway) enjoys watching incredibly emotionally draining arthouse films on dates. Films that include, amongst other things, rather intense sex scenes, abortion, divorce, and many, many arguments.

So. It's a good thing I went with Brian. While our friendship often steps (read: stomps) over the line of decency, I can't say any time spent in the company of only each other could ever be seen as a "date". And let it be said right now, that after watching Blue Valentine, I am rather put off having A Relationship (at least for a little while).

The specs: directed by Derek Cianfrance, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. In a nutshell? We spend two hours watching a couple's marriage fall apart, while flashing back to the joyous moment that they met and fell madly in love.

This film is utterly, completely heartbreaking. That's the first thing I'll say about it. Watching a relationship break down can't really ever be described as enjoyable, and while I loved the film, it wasn't exactly easy viewing. The performances are brave, honest, and for the film's two hour running time I felt like a sneaky voyeur peeking into somewhere that I shouldn't really be peeking into. That though, is probably the sign of incredible performances from the two leads, and great direction from Cianfrance.

The film opens with Cindy (Williams) and Dean (Gosling) at home with their young daughter, Frankie. He paints houses, she's a nurse. He is never without a beer and cigarette in hand, she doesn't ever seem to smile. Their life seems terribly mundane, and it's obvious that the bright spark of young love faded long ago. The still-young but tired-looking couple can't have a conversation without fighting. Filmed in close ups (with a Red camera), with muted colours, it really is like eavesdropping on their private moments and observing something breaking in slow motion with painful detail.

Contrasting those scenes in wider, somewhat more vibrantly coloured shots (Super 16mm) is the courtship of Dean, who just took a job at a moving company, and Cindy, a college student with a douche-bag boyfriend. She wants to go to medical school and wonders how you know you're in love, he wants to fall in love with a girl completely and utterly, forever. They meet, and marry in a slightly whirlwind romance. Gosling is all confident, brash physicality, Williams is more reserved, enigmatic. They're a great pair onscreen, mesmerising for the two hours that they inhabit the screen.

You know? Brian and I left the cinema in somewhat stunned silence (first words uttered, "Shit, son!") and I admitted that I had cried. I was lying though. I didn't cry just the once. I cried two, three, four times.

I guess I mentioned earlier that the film is emotional, heartbreaking. I have to then add, that Blue Valentine doesn't punch the audience in the face with sentimentality or ham-fisted emotion. The film refuses to tell us perhaps just as much as it does choose to divulge. What happened in the six years in between beginning and the end of the relationship? Who's more to blame? Does it really matter?

Anyway. It was great. One of the best films of 2010, probably an Oscar contender, definitely one of my personal picks of the best of a year that had some pretty gosh-darn fucking good films in it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Reb, you don't have to abbreviate everything you say."

On the set of Star Wars: A New Hope. Superb, I think. 

To me, it's become habit to say "soz" instead of "sorry". 
Is this bad? Probably. For someone who values correct grammar and a good vocabulary, this horrible, horrible automatic "soz"ing and this propensity to litter most sentences with "like" is ... painful. 

I apologise. I am trying. 

Try as I might though, it's proving extremely difficult to completely rid my day-to-day vocabulary of "like".
"And I was like, whatever!"
"...then he was like, NAH!"

That's really not the point though. The point is, while I haven't been writing much on this blog due to Christmas and everything that it entails, I haven't been completely idle. Just mostly.

Head over to Cut Print Review to read my article, 10 Festive Films That Won't Make You Vomit

It's festive, it's movies.

From somewhere on Reddit. Sozlol, can't remember where.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Once Chance...

One Chance, by awkwardsilencegames.

This is superb. 

Let's say the world has seven days left, seven days until every living cell on Earth will die. What would you do? What if you were the scientist who accidentally created the virus that will kill everyone on the planet, including your loved ones? You'd only get one shot to get it right, to make those decisions. It's a stunningly simple premise, and an infuriating one at that. 
In One Chance, a simple, side-scrolling adventure by awkwardsilencegames, you really only get one chance. You've got six days, and every day goes by in the blink of an eye. Do you stay at home or go to work to continue to try to find a cure? Do you sleep with a co-worker? The world is ending after all. Or do you say, "Fuck it!" and spend the day with your daughter at the park? 

At the week's close, you might be dead, you might be alive. Did you make the right decision? You won't really know, because it's over. You don't get another shot. 

You don't even need to play the game to guess there's plenty of angered comments to peruse... but in the words of the brains behind it, "You bastards will have to pry this game out of my cold dead hands before I put a replay feature in."

One Chance is bleak, thoughtful, haunting. The music is superb, conjuring a mood that is not only ominous, but slightly urgent and certainly melancholy. 

All the reasons I've named above that intrigued me and made me love this game might drive some people away. It's not a fun game in the same way that oh, say, Robot Unicorn Attack (ha) is, but its merit lies elsewhere. Mostly in the story, the idea, the mood, as well as the fact that it makes you really wonder what would matter to you in the last six days of your life. 

Go play!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jaw Drop

In Soviet Russia, write ON pencil. 

I did the sitting-at-one's-computer equivalent of a double-take when I laid my eyes on pencil sculptures by Dalton Ghetti. As always, I was alerted to his existence and skill via Reddit, sent to this site. Some quick Googling followed being met with Russian, and thus, I've spent the past hour so looking at photos of tiny, tiny sculptures. The mind boggles at the steady hand, patience and amounts of sheer skill needed to complete just one of these mini works of undiluted awesome.

Go, go gadget jaw drop. Thanks Reddit, for sending me to Willard Wigan (sounds like a super hero to me ... ), the master of the microscopic sculpture. Apparently, he is only able to do some of his work between heartbeats. That to me, is something of downright Jedi proportions. Except, you know, it's real.

That's a girl on an eyelash, on the end of a needle. THE FUCK.
Wigan pictures from here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Let the Right One In

I've spent the past week or so pondering horror films. More specifically, that I find a great number of horror films released (for lack of a better term I guess) "nowadays" to be somewhat lacklustre. So last night I was rifling through my brother's DVDs and was intrigued to find he had a copy of Let the Right One In (or, Låt den rätte komma in). I hadn't ever gotten around to watching it or it's American remake, Let Me In, so I promptly sat down, quite ready to have the bejesus scared out of me. 

Not so, bro, it seems. 

Rather than the jumpy, terrifying vampire flick I was expecting, I found myself watching a gorgeous coming-of-age film. A captivating, beautiful one at that. Being that Eli, the mysterious girl that our bullied, lonely protagonist Oskar becomes involved with is a VAMPIRE, one has to expect a certain amount of darkness to the film. Well, there's plenty. Much of Let Me In takes place at night, in the gorgeous, snow-covered landscape of Sweden. The black night sky, the falling snow, the thoughtful meandering pace of the film made for a cinematic experience that was completely mesmerising. Let the Right One In is absolutely beautifully photographed. Every shot, every scene, is something to behold and be swept up in. Of course, it helps that the two young leads are superb also. While of course, given the subject matter and the fact that Eli does feast upon a number of locals throughout the film, Let the Right One In does have the ominous feeling that you'd expect. The kind that makes one expect tragedy to befall poor Oskar at any moment. However, rather than huddling under a pillow, I found myself enthralled and charmed. Winner.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Oh hai, summer.

So far, summer weather has shown itself to be akin to a moody fifteen-year old girls. Prone to wailing tears, doorslams and then bright sunny moods that suddenly revert back to sulking.

In fact, today I happily awoke to streams of sunlight bursting through my window. That isn't to say that the sound of rain pattering on the tin roof of my backyard abode isn't a lovely sound to wake up to, but I much prefer the warm ground under my toes over having to wade through ankle deep water to get into the house.

This really doesn't do any justice to how inconvenient and
surprisingly deep the water is outside my room.

However, as this is Melbourne after all, it's pouring with rain and Elvis the Dog is cowering on the couch at the sound of thunder. It appears I'll be stepping my hunt for an umbrella up a notch.

I have to admit, I'm a little envious of Mitch's lamentations about his pale Irish skin being burnt to a crisp over in Perth. In the time that I've spent writing this, the rain has stopped, the sun has come out, and then the rain has thus resumed (with the sun still out).

I suppose I have a love-hate relationship with summer. For all the endless complaining about sitting around covered in sweat and constantly feeling uncomfortable I'll be doing in about a month's time, all I feel like doing at the moment when a (half) day of sunshine occurs is smiling. It's amazing, how a sky of more blue than grey can lift the mood of pretty much everyone. People are cheerier, more polite, and certainly in Melbourne, are prone to disrobing at the first sign of sun. I guess that means these legs'll eventually have to see the light of day. I suppose I owe them that much. Without a trace of a joke, I can honestly say that I can count the number of times my legs have been out from under tights or jeans (in public of course, I lounge around in shorts all the time at home) in the past five months on two hands. Ridiculous, no? Time to hit the gym, and make my pale legs match the colour of my arms.

The few feeble days of proper sunshine in the past week or so have been seized upon however, and luckily for us, the weather gods smiled down on us throughout the entire day of our outdoor escapades. Brian, Fish, some pals from work and I trouped down to Chesterfield farm earlier this week to engage in some hayfever, picnicking, and delighted squealing at baby animals. There's just something about seeing cuter, smaller versions of already quite cute animals that brings forth the inner squealing girl in me. And everyone else, it seems. There were baby goats (who seemed intent on eating our clothing and bags), a baby cow, countless bunnies, baby pigs, baby chickens, and baby ducks. Hell, there was even a baby llama accompanied by his mother. A small posse of geese roamed the farm, honking at us, and an ugly turkey sat there, staring. We scampered around, our voices significantly more high pitched than they usually are. The presence of deer, donkeys, sheep, bunnies and especially the llamas even made me forget that I was sneezing every two minutes and I had been bitten on the face by a spider (I'm not even kidding).

Photos via Brian

To top it all off, there was definitely a delicious picnic involved. Everyone brought sandwiches, enough for everyone else to have a few, so as a result the sheer amount of food was akin what one would use to feed a Lord of the Rings sized army. Fish even made profiteroles. Those, combined with the fairy bread Carly brought, meant that I for one, felt like I should have been rolled back to the carpark. Certainly, that would have been preferable to walking. I still have sandwiches in my fridge, if anyone's interested.

Let you be a witness now as I vow to at, one point in my life, somewhere in the future, own a llama. It's testament to my overwhelming love of llamas that I am posting this picture up (again, courtesy of Brian) even when I look sickly (thanks hayfever and spider), sans make up, and my ridiculous excitement means I have about ten thousand chins. There is something very, very spectacular about llamas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Semi-Productivity and Gene Kelly on a Sunny Afternoon

I say "semi-productivity" for a reason.
My opinion of a  Productive Day is probably in direct contrast with that of the vast majority of people I know. Some people I know are able to cram an absurd amount of large tasks and errands into 24 hours, and still get enough sleep to function. I myself am occasionally in possession of this skill, but it seems that it gets more and more difficult a power to muster.

Today I got up "early" (9.30, y'all), gave Elvis (he's a dog) a bath, took him for a walk, did some washing, got my crap out of the living room, made a salad for tonight's dinner, and did some tidying up.  So in the early afternoon, I congratulated myself on a job well done on being a functioning twenty-something who Gets Shit Done on a day off. Popping the top off a cool beer, I sat down on the couch, put on some Kinks and settled down to read some Harry Potter.

Mid-sip, however, my inflated feeling of self-accomplishment suddenly left me. I cast my mind back to the days when I was able to fit two jobs, a social life, uni work and internship work into a single day without a second thought. It seemed as if as I grew older, the level of responsibility I am able to handle was diminishing. In fact, after a day of small tasks, I was giving myself a pat on the back. THIS IS WRONG! I thought, panicked. It's supposed to be THE OTHER WAY AROUND! In my panic, I took another swig of beer and pondered to myself. I was congratulating myself on a day well lived, and the day was barely half over. For shame. How did I once upon a time keep this up for weeks on end? I was puzzled, and frustrated with myself.

So, I'll write another blog entry before heading to the ol' cinematorium to watch Machete.

The other night, thanks to my off-kilter sleeping patterns, I found myself in front of the TV quite late at night, not feeling in the least bit tired. On this particular night I did the usual flick-through-channel routine, but stopped abruptly when on the screen I spied two names in the opening credits of an old-timey looking film. Those names were Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. The film was Anchors Aweigh, an MGM musical from way back when in 1945.

The first thing that struck me about Anchors Aweigh was how skinny Frank Sinatra was. I'm serious. He's really skinny. I guess that's because both Sinatra and Kelly look pretty damn young, what with the film's release being in 1945. Anchors Aweigh was the first of a series of buddy type films Sinatra and Kelly made. This, shamefully, is the first that I've seen of those films. The second thing that grabbed my attention was the fact that Sinatra's character, Clarence Doolittle, is shy, awkward, and unsure of how to act around "dames". Given the persona of Ol' Blue Eyes throughout his career, the sudden image of Sinatra onscreen acting so timidly was a surprise to me. His Clarence is all "gee, whiz!" and "that sure is swell!", while Kelly gets all the jaunty-hat bravado of the film. 

At any rate, Anchors Aweigh follows the antics of two Navy men on leave in Hollywood. Joseph Brady (Kelly) is on a mission to meet up with his gal Lola, while Clarence just wants Joe to show him the ways of the "sea wolf" (as Joe is known) so he can meet some of those aforementioned "dames". A spanner is thrown into their plans when they meet Aunt Susie (Kathryn Grayson) and her nephew Donald (a very young Dean Stockwell). Of course, Clarence promptly falls for Susie, and through attempts to get his pal a date with her, so does Joe.

Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Winnerduo.

Anchors Aweigh picked up the Oscar gong for Best Original Musical Score as well as being nominated for Best Picture and earning Gene Kelly a nomination for Best Actor. It's pretty easy to see why. Really is. After the initial puzzlement I felt upon seeing Sinatra acting so un-Sinatra like, I was positively swept up in the charm of the film, and especially of the leads. Sinatra and Kelly make a superb duo, both singing and both dancing, both obviously dripping with that on-screen presence that made them the huge stars that they were and still are. It might be surprising to some (myself included) that Sinatra could - and would - dance in this film. While obviously he doesn't leap as high or as gracefully as Kelly, it's a real joy to watch him keep up with Gene in the numbers they share. It's also worth remembering and noting that back in the glory days of Hollywood musicals, most dance numbers were filmed in quite long takes, a far cry from the quick-cut musical sequences of more recent years. So, with that in mind, seeing a clip like this one even more impressive given that Sinatra wasn't exactly a dancer prior to this film. Under the tutelage of perfectionist Kelly, it's not surprising that Ol' Blue Eyes mastered those moves. Kelly apparently had Sinatra rehearsing night and day for weeks before production started, and Sinatra claims he'd never worked that hard in his life. Indeed, he probably wasn't worked that hard by anyone afterwards either. 

Of course, while Sinatra spends much of the dance sequences glancing at his and Gene Kelly's feet, he obviously seems much more at home during his opportunities to croon. Supplied with a handful of superb ballads by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, Sinatra positively owns the screen. Particularly great is his rendition of "I Fall in Love Too Easily", which was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars. I guess it's worth re-remembering occasionally exactly how amazing a voice Frank Sinatra had.

What Anchors Aweigh is probably most well-known for however, is a ridiculously adorable and charming sequence in which Gene Kelly dances with Jerry Mouse (of Tom and Jerry). Wikipedia tells me that Mickey Mouse was originally going to be Kelly's co-star in the scene but thanks to Disney being a spoil-sport, Jerry stepped in at the last minute. In my opinion, he's probably a better choice. The Gene/Jerry dance number is impressive for a few reasons. Firstly, it really shows off how innovative Gene Kelly's choreography and creative vision was becoming at that stage of his career (remember, he'd go on to be a director as well as one of the best choreographers in Hollywood history). Secondly, Jerry Mouse is really well animated. Watch the clip twice. Once for Gene, then another for Jerry. Thirdly, it's a prime example of how amazing a dancer Kelly is. Note the fact that there's only a handful of cuts during the entire number. That's impressive. Lastly, this clip is full of pure, undiluted joy. Anchors Aweigh might be a film full of glorious Hollywood escapism, but this number even more so. I sat there with a huge grin plastered on my face, utterly entranced. This is the reason I love old musicals.

Curse "embedding disabled by request" ...
I think I've rambled enough. After Anchors Aweigh I went and re-watched Singin' in the Rain, so much was my newly rediscovered love of Gene Kelly and his Smile. Anchors is a lovely example of a great MGM musical, as well as Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in the earlier years of their respective careers. Go find it. It's pretty damn good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Remarkable Discovery

I just had my mind blown into a million pieces. Well, a thousand pieces might be a little more accurate. A million pieces would probably be warranted by something along the lines of Bob Dylan turning up at my doorstep. This though, is still pretty exciting.

Remember Jurassic Park? Of course you do. It's a goddamn classic film. It has velociraptors. It meant I was obsessed with dinosaurs for my primary school years. Right, so now please cast your minds back, past the T-Rex and the raptors. Back, to the two kids in the film.  Now, focus your mind on the boy.

That boy.
I can often be a little on the slow side when it comes to noticing these sorts of things. But I finally finished watching The Pacific (verdict: not quite as good as Band of Brothers). I also just watched The Social Network. It has now just clicked in my brain that "Jurassic Park Kid" has evolved like some sort of gorgeous Hollywood Pokemon into this:

Two incredibly improbable things have occurred in front of our eyes. Firstly, notice if you would, a former child star with a career that is still alive and kicking. Secondly, this fanta pants is one very fine piece of eye candy. Joseph Mazzello, I tip my hat to you. I tip my had emphatically. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010


So I cut off my hair
And rode straight away 
For the wild unknown country 
Where I could not go wrong

"REB. Do you WANT to look stupid??
As my dear petite mother raised her voice to a volume that seemed altogether out of proportion to her size, I held the phone away from my ear and smiled up at Daniel, more than slightly embarrassed. He continued to add more red gunk and foil to my hair, but seemed somewhat perturbed. 

It seemed, I would face some resistance when I got home. I thanked the hair gods that a typical trip to the hairdresser for me takes about three and a half hours. That was three and a half hours for Mum to calm down, and for me to formulate a reasonable and logical response to her anger. Them's the breaks it seems, when you choose a trip to Europe over moving out, and live in your parents' backyard. Then shave half your hair off.

At the risk of sounding somewhat cliched, I think there's something quite liberating and cathartic about cutting one's hair off. Not just a trim, mind you. I mean, taking the length of your hair and chopping it right off. Again, excuse any trace of something cliched and corny, but it's as if along with the locks of hair falling to the floor, so too does the weight of it, and any baggage that might be cramping your style.

Old hair.

At the beginning of this year, I cut my long hair into a short bob. It felt great. Drying my hair suddenly took considerably less time than the hour I would regularly have to spend battling it. It was easier to manage. But as well as that, I felt as if I'd turned a new leaf, that I was a somewhat new Reb to go along with the new look. It was sort of as if, university had finished, it was time to get it together... time for a new Reb world of newness.

I wonder if that's how Britney Spears felt when she shaved her head? I am not sure. I do know however, that getting back from overseas, realising it was ACTUALLY time to Get It Together, and having to deal with some unpleasantness of really quite epic proportions upon returning home, meant that I felt compelled to do something different with my hair, my entire look as it were. I feel that I might be over-dramatising what really is essentially just "a haircut", but I found it interesting to note to myself exactly how much I wanted to cut my hair off, to change it right up. Leave behind the Reb of the past few months and those experiences.

So. As I spoke to Steve and Daniel (Yes, there's two of them. I have learned the hard way that when it comes to hair, you get what you pay for) at Rokk Ebony I got more and more excited about the prospect of looking different ... and then Steve whipped out the clippers. He turned it on, and suddenly I heard the whirring, whizzing sound next to my ear. I actually let out a little yelp and my hands rushed to my face as the first clumps of hair fell to the floor. As he moved around my head, my terror-excitement turned into gleeful excitement. My hands then went to my head and felt the remnants of my thick Chilean hair. Awesome.

This really doesn't do any justice to the sheer amount
of  hair that was on the ground around me.

Three hours later, I emerged, with shaved underneath, short locks on top, and a newly resplendent red fringe, sans ratty re-growth. Both Daniel and Steve looked extremely pleased with their handiwork, and chuffed with my reaction. Which, needless to say, was one of complete, undiluted delight.

Derp derp. New hair.

It's fun to stroke.

Muy bien.

And what of my mother's reaction upon my arrival back home?
"Oh! Reb, that actually looks nice!"
Then I turned around and lifted up my hair.
"Oh god... shit. Reb. Your hair is gone!"
Mum then started speaking a hilarious mix of Spanish with a few English expletives, as she is wont to do when slightly riled up. My dad and I couldn't help but laugh at her reaction. She soon though, conceded that my new 'do looks rather good. She couldn't help but impart the following words of wisdom:

"Reb... please. Make sure you wear make up. Look pretty. Wear bows and ribbons, please. Otherwise you'll look ... tough."

Thanks, Mum.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Getting It Together

A while ago now, I occasionally contributed to a film website called Cut Print Review. Run by wunderkind Anders Wotzke, it's really quite rad. Unfortunately, a whole lot of working for the man got in the way and I stopped writing. Which is incredibly annoying. 


Now, in my efforts to Get It Together and again do something creative so I don't go completely crazy, I've begun writing again. Get ready for some filmic ramblings guys, I feel some epicness coming on! Watch that space.

EDIT: My account of attending a midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bizarre Things I Like #1

Country Music.
It's true. So often, when people are asked "what kind of music do you like?", they respond with "everything except rap and country!" ...  and you know what? I used to be the same.

Somewhere, at some point during the last three or four years however, something changed. I can't give you a solid date, or a point of epiphany. But somehow, I became a lover of both kinds; country AND western.

Know what? I lied. There probably was a catalyst. In around 2007 my obsessive personality finally moved on from Star Wars (it's true) to none other than the pre-fab four themselves, The Monkees. The TV show, the albums (from the third album onwards, they DID play their own instruments, so you can shut up thank you), the merchandise. I know for a fact that I'm still puzzled what exactly began my obsession with Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter but I do know that this bizarre love led me to banjoes and Dolly Parton and Ray Price. Exploring the careers of each Monkee after the hype died, I made a discovery. Firstly, that there's not much to find in the way of post-Monkee gold. Secondly, that the gold that there is to be found belongs to Michael Nesmith. After the death of the Monkees, Texas-born Mike released a great number of AMAZING country albums. I bought them, not knowing what to expect. Certainly, I did not expect my mind to be blown. I bought that string of albums because of my love of ol' wool-hat, and I loved them, in spite of my so called hatred of country.

The unlikely catalyst for my love of country.

To the non-believers, hear this. They're really fucking good albums. Michael Nesmith and the First National Band ... Michael Nesmith on his own, with Red Rhodes. They're REALLY good. So began my love of country.

I devoured everything I could. From Ray Price to Dillard and Clark. The Louvin Brothers, Patsy Cline, fucking Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton. The Statler Brothers, Ralph Stanley, Keith Whitley, The Carter Family, Earl Scruggs. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, and a lad that since has been named The Charming Man, my iTunes library became thoroughly hillbilly.

Ray Price. Hero, y'all.
So why on earth do I love country music so much?

Is it the gaudy nudie suits? Is it the redneck comments that go with each of the youtube videos I watch?


Gram Parsons, badass.

  • Those harmonies are .... amazing. There's something about those country harmonies that just makes a part of me go to a happy place. I can't describe what exactly it is, but it's definitely true.
  • That accent is pretty great, y'all. 
  • You know what? I have a feeling that a large portion of the reason I love country, western, bluegrass, hillbilly shit so much is to do with the subject matter of a great deal of the songs. I'm not a particularly religious person, nor am I a citizen of the American South but I know that during times of woes and hardship, there's something really quite reassuring about listening to The Carter Family singing about keeping on the sunny side, or Ralph Stanley singing "Angel Band". Simple beliefs and earnest singing. 
  • By that same token, country music just seems to capture broken-hearted woes absolutely precisely. Nothing like a bit of Ray Price to help you nurse a battered heart and ego. 
  • I need to put a disclaimer here. I don't particularly like modern country music. To me, it's all about those old-timey sounds and harmonies. There's something about that old timey sound that is really ... I don't know. Comforting. As well as plain ol' entertaining and lovely to my ears. 
  • Also, I really, really like banjos.

Feast your ears on this:
Firstly, Johnny Cash, the Carter Family, Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers performing "Keep on the Sunny Side"

Now, Ralph Stanley, Keith Whitley, and the Clinch Mountain Boys .... damn embed code disabled. I can't be bothered doing it the long way via the scenic route.

AAAAAAAND. Lastly. Ray Price, with "Heartaches by the Number"

It's hard going trying to find like-minded, country-loving twenty-somethings ... but goshdarnit, am I ever going to try.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Affleck Redemption

Does Ben Affleck want to be the next Clint Eastwood? Epic leading man turned serious director? Having won an Oscar for penning Good Will Hunting, he has points to his name. However, the Ben Affleck I know in my mind is one of annoyance that is somewhat difficult to ignore. For years now, Mr Affleck hasn't been much more to me than a big-chinned semi-dudd. We cross paths briefly and amusingly during my annual Michael Bay movie marathons, and he has a bit part in my love affair with Matt Damon.  Then, he became the lesser Affleck, the Affleck in the background, making room for the greater Affleck, Casey.

That is, until he directed Gone Baby Gone, starring his Greater Affleck younger brother. "Well done, Ben!", I thought. "The road to redemption is long and fraught with peril, but may the filmic gods smile down on you!" ... and you know what? Ol' Big Chin has made some considerable ground on that journey with his latest (sophomore, if you will) offering, the Boston-set crime thriller The Town.

It's been decided. I'm going to Boston. I need to hear this accent IRL.

Not only has Affleck directed and co-written this tightly wound, suspenseful winner of a film, but he also has cast himself in the role of brooding leading man. I tip my hat to that, most definitely. Well done Ben, indeed.

The titular "town" of the film is that of Charlestown, a suburb of Boston that the opening titles claim has produced more bank robbers and car jackers than any other place in the world. Or was it America? I can't remember. That claim to fame may or may not be true, but certainly the Charlestown that the film places us the audience in is that of a rough, loyal and well and truly Irish neighbourhood in which trouble with the law is a rite of passage.

Affleck stars as Doug MacRay, a seasoned bank robber and leader of a four-piece heist crew. This crew includes Jim Coughlin, portrayed superbly by Jeremy Renner, the closest thing Doug has to a brother. Blake Lively is Jim's trashy slut sister Krista, and Doug's ex-flame. (I'll say this now; Blake Lively is (in my opinion) the weakest link of The Town. And it's not because I find her mildly irritating in Gossip Girl. Her boobs are nice yes, but at times her accent sounded almost Russian. Ugh.)

Anyway. The boys hold up a bank at the film's opening, setting off the inevitable chain reaction of events that gives one that sinking feeling that says, "this ain't gonna end well."

Thanks to Jim's role as the renegade-wildcard-loose cannon of the ensemble, the boys take themselves a hostage during the initial bank robbery, the manager of said bank, Claire (Rebecca Hall). To make sure she hasn't seen anything, or said too much to the feds, Doug follows her. They soon - of course - begin a relationship that only serves to deepen that ominous, sinking feeling in one's stomach. Hot on the heels of Doug and co. is FBI agent Frawley, Mad Men's Jon Hamm. Rounding out the cast (and certainly worthy of mention) are Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper.

The Town is pretty dense. Never a dull moment, with the tension tightly wound almost constantly. The film is at its best during the action, with the bank robberies and car chases well-executed and pretty fooking exciting. I mean, they're nothing mind-blowingly amazing, but they really did have me on the edge of my seat. It's a little Michael Mann, it's pretty win.

Chiseled jawlines abound in The Town.

And surprisingly (for me at least), the romantic scenes and storylines were far from irritating or spew-worthy. This is mostly due to Rebecca Hall being completely charming (and having a fucking great smile), and Affleck's thankfully rather more understated performance than say ... Armageddon. Well done, Ben. Speaking of the acting in The Town, it's really rather fucking good (Blake Lively aside). Affleck as I just mentioned, gives one of the best performances he's managed in years. His Doug goes from aggressive to remorseful to redemptive over the course of the film, without hitting the audience over the head with the change. Pete Postlethwaite is superbly menacing as the neighbourhood head honcho, and lights up the screen during his short time on it. Jon Hamm is solid as the FBI agent. But to this nerd, the real cheers on the film deserves to go to Jeremy Renner. It's no secret that I've been somewhat in love with him ever since The Hurt Locker ... but his Jim Coughlin, to me, steals the show. He's aggressive, loyal, a loose cannon that keeps the audience tense, wondering what the hell he's going to do next.

I may have a couple of gripes with the last three minutes or so of the film, but shit son, I gotta tip my hat to Ben Affleck. To someone who has probably immediately written off any poster with his name on it as rubbish for the past ten years ago, he has risen a considerable amount in my filmic esteem. The Town is a literate, mature, admirable directorial effort, with a result that is thoroughly entertaining and really, really tense. Gone Baby Gone wasn't a fluke, and Mr Affleck is back on the road to tinsel town redemption.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Captain's Log

A night spent with my laptop, browsing Reddit, not sleeping. Oh Reddit, if you were a person we would be wed.

Cheap thrills, y'all!
Internet thrills.

Spent a small portion of this afternoon on the phone to Mitch, who is settling in over yonder in Perth. He told me of his exploits the night before, that he's looking for a place to live. I told him about Linc's gig. He's got a job at a rad prohibition-themed bar, I'm not nauseous every morning anymore. Wins all round! He was on the phone whilst driving, and so our conversation was peppered with shouted abuse at fellow drivers, as well as cackles of laughter as he swerved onto the footpath to attempt to run over Steno, his partner-in-crime.

Speaking to him brought not only the lulz, but a certain amount of sunshine and cheer that was lacking as the day wore on. While we were separated for a long time while he was in Ireland, then when I was all over and around Europe, it seems that now that he's in Perth, being apart from him is at it's most sucky.

New shoes, new beard.

 When I got back, I took a "wilderness sabbatical" to Geelong, to spend a couple of days with Mittens. Recharging, getting over jet-lag, watching a few films, sitting in the sun. Maybe doing a bit of sulking about being back, but that's okay. The shock of being back took far longer than I expected to adjust to. Wondering "what now?" and "...should I want a proper job?"

Luckily, hanging out in good old G-town while the boys got themselves prepared for the road trip to Perth made all back-home anxiety completely dissipate, at least for a couple of days. We spoke of potential scripts, of insane plans, of various conquests we each managed to notch up during our time apart. I also spent almost the entire time wearing a sleeping bag suit. Which is rad, I think, in anyone's book.

No McConnaughey-ing the night away, or Michael Bay marathons, at least for a while. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Flashback ... Dos.

So, last week I let y'all know that I'll be dedicating a small portion of my Friday day or night to re-remembering a song that may have been unfairly relegated to a forgotten, dusty, dingy corner of my memory and music collection. Call it an obsession with memory, but I'm getting a real kick out of it so far.

This week, I give you "Awaiting on You All" by George Harrison (otherwise known as my favourite Beatle).

To be honest, I didn't even notice the religious subject matter of this song until an almost embarrassing number of listens. I'm not a particularly religious person, and am not usually one to go out of my way to seek out Christian rock. Instead, I was drawn to the sheer joy of the music. There's really no denying George of that. It's an infectious song, nigh on impossible to resist. I adore all of George's "All Things Must Pass" record (required listening for any self-respecting fan of good music), but there really is something about "Awaiting On You All" that strikes a chord with me.

What does it make me think of? Driving back from a Christmas lunch with my family, of walking through my neighbourhood with Elvis my dog, on a sunny day and thankfully avoiding the sniffling and sneezing that usually comes with springtime.

The video I've included isn't of the album version, but rather a live performance by George from his Concert for Bangladesh (which is well worth checking out in itself). Because it's much more fun to watch George Harrison sing and play a guitar than watch an album cover.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trolling the High Seas

This guy is an absolute champion.

Troll of the seven seas, marry me please.

My hero.

In fact, that's my new aim. Next romantic conquest will be someone as rad as that. That's what love should be, someone to merrily troll with. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Torture Porn Does 3D

Films are released on Thursdays.
So, Thursday just gone marked the first day in Australian cinemas for The Social Network, Made in Dagenham and Red. What did I go see? No, not Helen Mirren shooting up bad guys, or Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg by way of Sorkin and Fincher.


I went to see Saw VII.

Right. Context. I didn't see the first two at the cinematorium. Rather, I paid to see numbers 3, 4 and 5 with my hard-earned dosh. I bypassed number Saw VI, after the sore disappointment (albeit, with splashes of morbid, disgusted laughter) of the previous three. VII though, has two things going for it. That is, apart from the massive amounts of gore, blood, blood-curdling screams and completely absurd "traps".

  • IT'S IN 3D!
Dr Gordon takes a hands-on approach to the traps.
Knowing that Cary Elwes was finally on board for one of these sequels and that this is supposedly (pfft...) the last of the Saw films led me to think that PERHAPS they'd put a little bit more effort into the story/script, and had lured Dr Gordon with the promise of something worthy of a return.

So, what DOES happen to my beloved Prince Westley/Robin Hood? To divulge that would be spoiling the twist that the Saw films always manage to throw into the end of the film. However, the "twist" in this newest installment is slightly more impressive than the last three or four sequels. You'd bloody hope so too.

The plot itself involves "the cop from the last one" and Jigsaw's milf-y widow, as well as a former victim of Jigsaw's, doing the motivational speaking circuit, telling his story. There's the usual race to find the warehouse/abandoned junkyard where the trap is being set, as well as the usual morbidly hilarious horror of seeing the traps in action. Seriously, can you imagine how much fun it'd be to be coming up with some of that shit? I don't know whether to be jealous of the fun, or repulsed by the minds that conjured them up.

The 3D is what you'd expect. THINGS FLYING AT YOUR FACE!! DUCK! HERE COMES A WRENCH! The usual jumps, only in 3D, and HURTLING AT THE SCREEN. I suppose 3D is somewhat validated, what with Avatar and the news that Martin Scorsese is shooting a film in 3D. Saw 3D holds no surprises, nor the mindblowing beauty of Avatar. That's what Saw's about though. Ridiculous fun.

I saw the film with two friends of mine. The three of us were the only people in the cinema, being mid-afternoon on a weekday. As such, we were able to scream and holler and laugh hysterically and yell out expletives in surprise to our heart's content. In fact, we did a certain amount of cheering during Dr Gordon's scenes. We yelled at the cop, we recoiled in horror with cries of "OOHHHH, SHIIIEEEET!"

Same as the context of my sitting through of Kanye's Runaway video, my viewing company weighed heavily on what I took from Saw VII. With Linc next to me yelling things like "HOLY crap, she is FIT!" whenever Jigsaw's widow was onscreen and "THEY'RE FUCKED!" during many a trap scene meant that my enduring memory of that afternoon is one of enjoyment. Not so much disgust, even though the traps were exactly the amount of gore and stomach churning horror that you'd want and expect.

Yes, it is better than the last four. It is. It's disgusting. It's stupid. It's got DR GORDON. It'll make you laugh at the same as recoiling in horror. It's also fun. God, how's that for a hit rate? One, two, then SEVEN as good installments of a franchise. Jesus.

Make sure you see it with some hilarious friends.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Twenty two years ago, I was born. I am a year older than I was a year ago, perhaps a little wiser, definitely much fatter.

Hoorah, it is my birthday!

"So, what does it mean to be twenty-two as opposed to twenty-one?" I hear you ask. "Any great revelations had? A sudden feeling of maturity never felt before? A grasp on the world and how you fit into it?"
Well, I'm glad you asked.

  • It means that I feel even more compelled to look for a "real job".  
  • As a result, it means I feel even more compelled to start saving up in earnest for a trip to South America next year.
  • It means I've looked back on the year that has passed since the last celebration of the anniversary of my birth and yes, I have learned quite a bit through the myriad mistakes and stumbles I've made.
  • It also means that if I am to recount the Epic Tale of "Adrian the 18-year-old", I will seem ever so creepy-old. Or a sexy cougar type. Yes. I think we'll go with that one.

Mature. Wise, like an owl.
To be honest, I actually forgot about my birthday until maybe a week ago, when my folks reminded me. I guess it was the excitement of being back on home soil, back with my friends, getting back in the swing of things. Speaking to a mate, Tim about it, he shrugged, "Easy to understand. Twenty two's not very exciting."

Having said that though, today's been quite nice. Woke up rather late, so the family had gone their ways by the time I emerged from my backyard lair. Luckily, a barrage of text and facebook messages soon brought the love. The morning was spent hanging out in the sunshine with Elvis and Neil Young, until heading off with Linc for most of the day. Off to Chadstone to spend some of my birthday winnings. Bought The Omen and Mad Men (season 3), had a rather nice coffee at Jones the Grocer. Spent much of the day shouting, hollering and generally making strange and annoying noises with Linc (as is the case when around the guys).

In fact, one of today's highlights (cheap thrills, y'all) was most definitely, without a doubt, a brief trip to the Apple Store. I had wanted to visit a pal, Clay, whom I hadn't seen since a while before my trip over yonder. However, while Clay and I chatted and caught up, Linc decided to busy himself on one of the shiny display Macs. Namely, by searching for a particular video. With the sound of Linc's cackling laughter behind me, and the sniggers of an Apple minion beside him, I turned around to be met with this:

Cheap thrills, y'all indeed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

34 Minutes with Kanye

I just spent the last thirty-four minutes with none other than Kanye West.

It's not exactly the way I usually plan on spending half-hours in the evening when I could be finishing those alterations on that dress I bought yesterday, or watching the Flinstones, or taking Elvis for a walk (that's my dog, not the living ghost of The King)... but you know. So, I was aware of Kanye's opus being in existence, but only vaguely. Remember, I've only just recently arrived back from a few months overseas and my pop culture know-how is somewhat lacking. I felt compelled to get myself back up to date. Also, I'll admit to being just plain old intrigued ... how the fucking what would Kanye fill one-third of a feature film?

HURRRR. I direct nao.

The answer?

Slow mo. (I'm not even kidding, if you sped up all the slow mo, it'd probably go for about ten minutes)

Now, the trailer itself is essentially just an exercise in a few vague, pretty, slow motion shots. Somewhat ominous, in my eyes.

In that case, the film itself ... God, after the frequent sniggering subsided, confusion set in. Confusion, and irritation. Those who think Kanye is a douche, will think no different of Runaway. Those who think he's a genius ... might like it. While I think the odd song of his is tolerable, occasionally catchy, I was basically dumbfounded by the sheer self-indulgence and ... dumb of it.

Right, so it's directed by Kanye, with music by Kanye and high art aspirations by Kanye. Interestingly, script writing congratulations are reserved for one by the amazing name of Hype Williams. So not all the blame should be squared at ol' Kanye. From the opening chorus of opera stylings to the end credits and all the well-shot prettiness in between (credit to Kyle Kibbe), there may be a lot of blame you want to aim.

A step by step account ... Kanye drives his shiny car through a pretty forest. Meteor hits it. SLOW MO EXPLOSIONS. From the wreckage (Like a phoenix! Cause phoenixes appear from fiery ashes! It's symbolic, yo!) appears bird-girl (otherwise known as Victoria's Secret model Selita Ebanks), in a feathered "costume" so revealing it may as well not be there. Impressive boobs are impressive. She wakes up at his place. Creepy, perhaps. She bonds with a bunny and a fluffy sheep in his yard. Perhaps he wants to eat her? Definitely creepy. He takes her to see a marching band and fireworks show, complete with GIANT INFLATABLE MICHAEL JACKSON HEAD. Creepmax. Symbolic? Kanye probably thinks so.

Slow mo explosion, Kanye rescues girl. Symbolism.

The largest portion of Runaway revolves around a giant dinner party Kanye throws for birdgirl, interrupted rudely and symbolically by ballerinas and Kanye playing single notes on the piano. Then standing on the piano. Then singing about douches.

Then. Then Kanye and Birdgirl exchange a horribly awkward DEEP CONVERSATION, then they kiss, then she wants to leave so he convinces her to stay for a while, with his dick. Cue slow motion explosions again.

I'll say right now, that I had the good fortune to watch Runaway online while a good friend of mine, Dave, watched it at the same time. As Kanye's opus played on youtube, we were on Messenger, providing capslocked commentary of the goings-on. Funny guy. Funny combination. I'll admit to being in stitches during much of the video... and I know for a fact that your smartass friend yelling through the internet things like, "SLOW MO BIRD ANGEL BITCH!" isn't conducive to taking something seriously. I suppose that if I'd watched Runaway in a different setting, perhaps a gallery with everyone in the audience looking nice and without Dave sniggering in the background, I would look at the symbolism (she flies!) and the slow mo (so much slo mo...) and try to take it seriously and give it a go. I suppose that's not quite fair on Kanye.

Similarly, I suppose if I'm trying to be nice, ol' Kanye deserves "a fair go, mate!" with all the heavy handed PHOENIX RISING FROM THE ASHES! PEOPLE HATE THINGS THAT ARE DIFFERENT! symbolism, recovering from the Kanye-Is-A-Douche of the "Taylor Swift Incident".

But then again, I just watched this interview ... he cites Kubrick, he says he wanted to create a film "that was like, all stills" and that he wants "females to connect to the different emotions". Eh... nah. Sorry. Kanye, I can't take your directorial debut seriously. It's pretty, but ... no. You're still a douche.


Monday, October 25, 2010

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

Behold, a new blog.

I've dabbled in blogging before, mostly at university. Seeing as it was a requirement to keep our blogs updated, relevant and pretty throughout the three years of our degree (Media, at RMIT), occasionally there was a chore-like feeling when one would sit down to do some good hard blogging. You know, "Come ON, I have ANOTHER self-assessment?? But I just WROTE a group assessment for that other class!" "What? ANOTHER post about the future of print media??" ... the usual.

I suppose whenever you're forced to do something, you get the lazies in a big way. As is always the case however, during the periods of the year when the assessments weren't coming in hard and fast (hurr...) and it wasn't required to be stressing about our blogs, I'd constantly be posting on it. Typical, no?

Anyway, fast forward one year, a few failed blog attempts and one epic journey to Europe and back, and I feel the time is nigh for a real attempt at blogging.


Cause I love writing. I write all the time, probably a bit too much (Postcards, illegible. Letters to friends back home? Excessively long). Also, considering it's coming up on a year since I've graduated, I feel it's also time for a concerted attempt to get back into the media swing of things. The occasional filming/editing job? Sure. But it's time for A REAL JOB. Or jobs. I suppose as well as film reviews and ramblings and general tomfoolery, this'll chronicle the journey and woes and occasional triumphs of a Recent Graduate that almost isn't allowed to put the "Recent" in that description.

Somewhat daunting, a first post. So many posts ahead of me. But from little things, big things grow. Baby steps!

Your humble narrator.