Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fight For Your Right - Revisited (or, every hilarious celebrity ever)

I know this is a few days old, but GODDAMN, you need to watch it if you haven't already.

Seriously, it's hilarious. Superb. And it's got everyone in it, ever.
The credits list the actors involved, and I actually went back to play the ol' "Spot Steve Buscemi" game (amongst a couple of others).

Oh, and here's the new album being streamed at Madison Square Garden.

I Finally Watched Saw I.


The first goddamn film came out in 2004. Remember 2004? It was a long time ago. It was 2004, and Saw was released and everyone was like, "HAVE YOU SEEN SAW?"
My high school media cohort especially, couldn't get enough of the film. Our classroom was filled with all manner of hyperbole fapping, all manner of "It's sooooooo innovative, it's so INVENTIVE, it's just, a different class of horror film guys." You couldn't escape it, and probably rightly so. James Wan and Leigh Whannell had (from all accounts) created something startlingly simple and original in a year of film seemingly dominated by sequels.

Since then, there have been six sequels. SIX of them. Saw is a franchise now. With every new year comes a new calender, and a new Saw film. A new sequel topping the last film's topper, like some sort of grimy warehouse rusting metal jigsaw Blake Edwards. I wonder if the average Saw fan enjoys the films of Blake Edwards? I don't know. Maybe? I'd wager probably not (although feel free to prove me wrong, Blake Edwards-loving torture-porn enthusiasts).

Look, that assertion most likely makes me sound like a snob. And while I know that I'm prone to bursts of snobbery at times (sorry), I promise that as far as snobs go, I can be pretty low-brow. As it happens, until a couple of nights ago I had only seen Saw sequels number three, four, five, six and seven. Know why? It's because every year, without fail, my best friends would want to see the latest Saw film. That, in turn, was what my best friends and I did. We watched a shit-tonne of horror films.

The campy shit ones. The well-made, tightly-wound thrillers. Everything from every damn Friday the 13th films to The Exorcist. The Haunting to Wolf Creek to House of a Thousand Corpses to The Shining. In the right setting, and while in the right mood, there are a very small number of things I enjoy more than scaring the absolute snot out of myself. If I'm cowering under a pillow in genuine fright or screeching with laughter, it matters little. There's something ridiculously enjoyable about yelling at the stupid characters onscreen, making high-pitched yelps of mostly-laughter at the sight of that much blood, or the fright that you know is about to occur leaping out of the darkness with a knife or rusty axe or wrench.

That's why I've seen all of the Saw sequels. That's the five SHIT sequels, not the original film nor the adequate (apparently) first sequel. In fact, I saw the latest, SAW 3D on the goddamn opening weekend. On the way to each of those sequel screenings, I'd complain loudly, demanding to know why we had to see something we knew was going to be terrible. Deep down however, I knew I was going to get some sort of enjoyment out of it.


As to why I never got around to watching the first one though... I'm not entirely sure. I remember back in the days when "the ending of Saw!" was yet to be common knowledge, someone spilled the beans on the twist. Oh. I thought. The dead guy's alive the entire time? Cool, bro. I later told TG that someone had ruined the ending for me, and he was utterly horrified.
"How could they tell you?! That's SO SHIT DUDE! Now ... now you'll never have that moment of surprise! GOD. THEY'VE RUINED IT!"

It didn't matter that much to me. I knew what happened. Didn't really need to see it anymore. No rush. I'd see it when I felt like it. Then, given my status as a growing sixteen-year-old movie snob, I decided films like Mean Streets and Barry Lyndon were to be further up the "To Watch" list. Soz, Saw. So I watched all the sequels and never got around to the one that started it.

Then, the other night, it was on TV. Well, shit son!
"Are you ready for this?" I asked George, my bear.
"Shit son, hell yes!" He replied.

So we watched Saw.

It was actually really good.

In fact, it was really enjoyable.

In fact, the way that I found it enjoyable wasn't in a "OH SHIT, LOOK AT ALL THE BLOOD! THAT TRAP IS INSANE!!!" kind of way. It was in the kind of way that means I wasn't changing the channel, I didn't go to check my Facebook, and I was awake until rather late even when I had to go to work the next day. I wanted to see what happened to Dr Gordon, even though someone had told me in 2004.

I'd heard everyone tell me the following countless times, of course. It's something entirely different however, to see it for yourself.  James Wan and Leigh Whannell's (Fun fact: They're RMIT Media graduates, just like yours truly) original Saw feature-length film (seeing as I haven't seen the short) is so unlike the torture-porn extravaganzas that came afterwards, I was kind of amazed. I mean, this isn't to say that Saw is One of the Best Films Ever (it's not), but it is really very good.

Watching Saw I found myself thinking not of the absurdly and overly complicated traps, not of the horrid and increasingly gory ways in which the characters (if you can call them that) were meeting their ends. I wasn't distracted by that at all. I was marveling at how simple it was. Less is more. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Too many blood spurt cooks spoil the movie broth. Why is that so hard for people to grasp, and to appreciate?

"How did the sequels start getting so shit??"

Two guys wake up in a room, with a dead body already there. They're chained up, they're given the rules to the "game" they suddenly find themselves in. Why are they there? What do they need to do to survive? How far will they go to survive? Isn't that Prince Westley?

What struck me the most, was the severe lack of gore and limbs and over the top torturous violence we see. Ponder, for a second, one of the traps in the latest, Saw VII. Sir Chester of Bennington (he of Linkin Park fame) is stuck in a car. The car hovers above his girlfriend's face. His friend is tied to the wall, in the car's trajectory. There's another person in the room, but I can't remember where. Chester has a few minutes to RIP HIMSELF FROM THE CAR SEAT (thus ripping the skin off his back), otherwise his girlfriend gets a tyre to the face and his two pals get fucked on by the car. I don't really think I'm giving too much away if I say they all die. At any rate, we as the audience get to see everything that happens to them. The face getting smooshed, Chester's skin getting ripped off, his friend getting a car to the tummy. It's unpleasant as fuck, I'll tell you that much.

Of course, at times it does reach a point that's so over the top, that one can't help but stop taking any of it seriously, and just laugh. That point does occasionally get reached. But is that point's existence (in a film that isn't a piss-take by design), and the franchise's eagerness to top the last film's worst trap indicative of a rather sad trend in horror films? Certainly I think that's a topic worthy of discussion at length on its own. Just quickly though, I do think that TORTURE PORN is robbing the horror genre of a certain amount of class. And by class, I mean quality storytelling.

Not just how gory and disgusting and vomit-inducing a film can be, but a reliance on true suspense, interesting characters and a sense of doom/dread/horror in the story. Sure, a bit of splatter and gore is good on occasion. In fact, didn't I just say I love a bit of stupid gore? I definitely do. Perhaps what I mean is that I all to often hear people measuring a horror film's worth and success on how gory it is. If it's not gory, and if it's a little bit more slow-paced, it's "BORING AND REALLY GAY". That is what I think is a shame. A film is not good because it's gory. Neither is a film good because it's slow and serious. So like I said, I'm up for a bit of gore, but I don't want two hours of limbs being ripped out of sockets and cars being dropped on faces and then have someone tell me it was "an amazing horror film". If I actually want to get scared scared, I'll sooner watch The Exorcist.

Anyway. Back to Saw. What I'm getting at (in a ranty, roundabout way) is that the first Saw film doesn't rely on over the top traps (OMG WHEN SHE GETS TOO LOUD THE DRILLS GET CLOSER TO HER FACE AND HAS LESS TIME TO RIP THE KEY OUT FROM INSIDE HER STOMACH) and excessive amounts of gore and blood to incite fear and suspense. The two men are stuck in one room, rather than an obstacle course of traps. We don't even see Cary Elwes cut off his foot. We see a couple of other traps, but we don't see faces being snapped open or eyes being drilled. And I believe the film's a classier one for that. Sure, pretty much everyone dies by the end, but I give a shit when the film's last act is happening before me and everything and everyone is getting so utterly pooed.

The credits rolled and I looked at the time and I groaned, knowing I'd be akin to a zombie at work in a mere few hours. But I also was quite pleased. Pleased because I'd finally watched Saw. And also because I felt as if I'd watched a really solid, really interesting and really entertaining film. Job well done. Of course, I then spent a while wondering how on earth Whannell and Wan had let the sequels become so utterly bad, but that isn't the point.

Point is, you should go re-watch Saw. You'll probably dig it, and get kind of nostalgic as well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Mountain

This is beautiful. You should watch it.

By Terje Sorgjerd, of El Teide, the highest mountain in Spain.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Few Things Worth Watching.

Firstly, Barbariön. I finally got around to seeing this amazing seven-piece metal outfit last month at annual Espy Rock the Bay festival-day-thing. It was hot, I'd been traveling around to various locations around Melbourne all day. I was completely exhausted, wrecked only a couple of hours into the day. I was somewhat doubtful as to whether I'd survive until Barbariön, who were headlining. It's testament to how excitedly all of the guys spoke about the band then, that I didn't bail. 

And shit, son. They didn't let me down. Srsbro. You'd be wise to check out their costumed, pyrotechnic'd, choreographed guitar move filled live show. I was in boot-stomping hysterics. It was pretty goddamn great, they well and truly lived up to all the hyperbole-ridden hype Dave and others had built.

Anyway, Barbariön held the launch for this video for "My Rock" at The Tote on the weekend, which I unfortunately couldn't attend because I was serving fat people chocolate until late, like some sort of chump. The video is pretty great. In fact, it's more than pretty great. It's fucking great.

I've seen this trailer posted up on my Facebook news feed a couple of times. I watched it this morning. I guess this is one instance when I can actually thank my Facebook news feed for something other than inane "I'm so borrreeed" or "rocking it babe!" status updates from acquaintances I'd like to delete but am too polite.

Anyway, Sleeping Beauty is "PRESENTED BY JANE CAMPION" (thanks, trailer), and directed by Julia Leigh. It stars Emily Browning, thankfully now out of her Sucker Punch garb. It looks fascinating, and definitely gorgeous. It tells the story of a university student who becomes a "Sleeping Beauty" in which old men get off in various ways that require her absolute submission. Understandably, she becomes increasingly anxious to know what happens to her while she's asleep.

This one seems somewhat appropriate given the inclusion of Barbariön at this post's opening. You know, kid racing away on a bike, dudd parents, rock comes to the rescue, all to a metal soundtrack. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Hesher, a malnourished, pot-smoking metal head who lives in a van until he meets TJ, a sad kid. Also, Natalie Portman. Would it be wrong to say that I find Mr Gordon-Levitt even more attractive in this trailer than in Inception, dashingly be-suited? Sozol.

I can't wait to see this. Srsbro.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Soroh Jossico Porkor.

It's been a fairly busy week. Many shows to see, many reviews to write. Also, in between that I've been attempting to earn some money and organise a trip to South America.

I'm going to do some shameless self-promotion right now. Sozlol. Would you like to read a review of Dave Thornton? Well, you can! One that I wrote! Also, here's one of Kitty Flanagan! And Ava Vidal! Wow, guys! So much for you to read!

Actually, it's been a fairly interesting experience. After picking up my tickets to Dave Thornton, with Brian in tow, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd be reviewing someone I know personally. Well, no shit. Let it never be said that I'm not quick off the mark, guys. I saw him on the steps of the Town Hall and was about to bound over to say hi. Then I realised what that conversation would have been like.

"HEY DAVE! I haven't seen you since Edinburgh! How's things? I'm seeing your show tonight! And I'm reviewing it! How funny is that? Speaking of funny, you better be!"

Yeah. Awkward. So I didn't. Luckily, his show actually was really funny, so it was all okay.

Unfortunately, Ava Vidal wasn't so funny. So then I had to get over my niceness and write a bad review. Of course, I'd written bad reviews before. Only, typically they're of films. Which are far easier to criticise and lambast than a human person who was onstage before you, being very brave and telling jokes.

I got over it though.

Not up yet is a review of Josh Earl, who was unbelievably great. I urge you to see him. His show was super. It makes you laugh, then go "Aww."

I saw Jason Byrne last night. I remember I saw his show last year and TG remarked, "What, is that the Irish guy that yells at the audience for an hour?" ... well, yes. He is. But he does it so goddamn well!! I haven't laughed that hard for a long while. Like, gasping, tearful laughter. I kind of wonder if he'd be quite as funny sans Irish accent, but does that really matter when he's got audience members skipping rope and he's bounding around the stage, cackling? Not really, in my opinion.

A special mention has to go to Dave (not Thornton, but Doov) for very patiently reading through drafted paragraphs and constantly reassuring me, "That reads well" or "It's fine" or "(Y)" ... sozol.

In return, I present you with this:

(I  haven't used photoshop in ages, and this was very haphazard. Might do a better one later.)


Friday, April 1, 2011

Things, etc.

I'm not working tonight.
I'm not doing anything tonight.

The fact that I'm not doing anything tonight makes me very, very happy. I've got a date with a cup of tea. And by cup of tea, I don't mean "tea-bagging" or anything vaguely sexual or exciting (you dirty minded rapscallion), I mean "cup of tea".

I've increased my hours at the call center, so I'm now essentially working 9am till 10pm most days. Thus, it's become necessary for me to come up with new ways to break up my day. Besides gazing at Beard (who, incidentally, has shaved and therefore must be referred to as Moustache), I've begun jotting down the bizarre and dumb names I come across while interrupting dinners across Australia.

Last shift's highlights included:
  • Tuna
  • Leumth (pronounced "Lee")
  • Jaisyn (Jason)
  • And way too many vowels having been replaced by "Y" for me to handle.

Anyway. I wrote a review of Howl. You can read it if you'd like.

Expect a flurry of activity over the next couple of weeks. I'm attending a few preview screenings for various things, which I'll be rambling about as always on Cut Print Review.

Also, I'll be reviewing a bunch of shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for RHUM, a site that is pretty great. 

So that's fairly exciting.

In other news, here are somethings I've been enjoying. Please for you to enjoy also.

Ten Sexy Ladies by Joshua Allen

A cat that looks like Lenin.

This trailer. (please, for the love of all that is hilarious, click it).

In addition to those, I read with great interest a particular post at Being Blanche. Not only was it interesting to note that the author was in at least one of my classes at uni (small world, etc), but I completely concurred with pretty much everything that post about dating culture in Australia.

Believe it or not, I went on a date last weekend. Or at least, I think it was a date. Given that I spend so much time with guys, my concept of a date is somewhat skewed. Look, I'm pretty sure it was a date. We got a coffee, saw a movie, got another coffee, wandered around the city and had a nice time. Before embarking on said date though, I noted with some degree of surprise that it had actually been a long while since my last "first date". As it turns out, the actual number of times I've been "Asked Out on a Date" have been minimal (at best).

I mean, the last guy I was in a semi-functioning (sort-of) relationship with was a friend of mine, who I began shagging, then discovered I really quite liked. As in, like like guys, isn't that, like, exciting? "Did you go on any dates?" you ask. No. "Tell me more, tell me more!" you reply. Well, we went to the movies a few times, but that's because we'd have probably gone to the movies together anyway, regardless of being shag-pals or not. In fact, with every guy I've hung out with/gotten few drinks with/made out with/shagged over the past few years, it has been with a constant raging battle to see who can give less of a shit. Or, seem to give less of a shit. Anyway, it was refreshing to hear these thoughts from another female.

If you're wondering if there'll be a "second date" (whatever the hell that means), then yes. Probably. He likes Neil Young and looks a little bit maybe kind of like Arlo Guthrie.