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All 273 Posts in the Category: Movies

30
Oct 11
Sun

Margin Call

Margin Call is actually a really good movie – one of the best I’ve seen this year, actually. It’s a tough ask to make an entertaining movie about something as removed as a bank’s risk management department without deviating off into motorcycle chases or fist-fights, but this movie has done that. Filled with several Oscar winners and other A-list actors (Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto and more), Margin Call is carried mostly by the engaging dialog and the way its actors pull it off. It details less than 48 hours in an investment bank which has figured out that its exposure to securities it holds on its book are about to put it out of business – unless it can dump all of them off onto unsuspecting buyers. From what I can tell, it presents a realistic, believable view of things, and I found it tough to sympathize with the executives who got the axe when they appear devastated and still walk off with enormous severance packages that would tide most middle-class families over for years. Unfortunately, Margin Call only seems to be playing on limited screens – I saw it at the Aquarius in Palo Alto, but it wasn’t at the big chains.

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12
Oct 11
Wed

Margin Call

Margin Call is a movie about the a day in the life of a bank which resembles Lehman Bros. It looks subdued, but interesting… and it has a surprisingly large A-list cast:

Here’s the NY Times review of it.

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7
Oct 10
Thu

Waiting for Superman

Saw a screening of Waiting for Superman tonight. It’s a well constructed documentary which looks at the state of the American public primary and secondary education system. Some of the revelations in the movie are startling. The biggest one is that high school teachers gain tenure after two years of teaching. That’s right – what it takes university academics years and years to attain, high school teachers get in only a couple of years. That assures them a job for life and the rationale behind this isn’t entirely clear (for university professors, the theory is that it allows them freedom of expression and freedom to pursue whatever interests them, free from the risk of being fired for political reasons). This means that even the worst of teachers can hang around – some are shown to read newspapers while their students shoot craps in the back of the classroom. This bottom 5-10% of teachers has a disproportionate and devastating effect on the overall quality of education American kids are receiving.

Public school teachers are also paid lock-step: the bad teachers get paid the same as the good teachers and union contracts prevent them from being paid otherwise. Interestingly, the teachers’ union emerged as the villain here – under the guise of “promoting harmony” among teachers for the sake of the children – they steadfastly and stubbornly stick to the status quo. Their argument is ultimately unconvincing, because they’re all talk and no results. Clearly, when things are declining or not getting better, you need to change what you’re doing. Yet, the intensity of vested interests prevents this change from happening. The documentary makes a great observation – the focus has shifted from the children to the adults, no matter the rhetoric being overlaid by the union.

This problem is of course seemingly endemic in American politics. Intense partisanship means opposing parties seem to always fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo. Call me cynical, but even when things aren’t working, a party opposing a proposal will do their best to stymie the other side. Not because the other side’s views are worse, or even because they think the other side’s view are worse… but simply because they are the other side. It’s the ideology of extremism – of black and white, all or nothing, with us or against us.

The movie closes with a lottery, where underprivileged but endearing kids try to get into better public schools via a lottery. The odds are stacked heavily against them, and most walk away empty handed. Why should getting a decent education be a lottery? See also this review in the New Yorker, which raises some thoughtful counterpoints.

I went with a friend who had a unique educational background himself – he arrived in America without knowing English. On the first day he lost his wallet, containing all his cash and ID cards. He overstayed his tourist visa. Working a full time job, he somehow put himself through community college, worked his way up through an associate degree, and then a bachelor’s at a state university. His job also had to support his brother and mother, who were staying with him in a small one bedroom apartment. He ended up with a full scholarship at Stanford where he’s working towards a PhD today. Each week, he spends half a day teaching at schools in the area – he’s taught in the affluent Palo Alto High School (“Paly”), as well as Charter schools, and “tougher” schools in East Palo Alto and San Jose. We had a long conversation afterwards in which he painted a vivid picture contrasting the vast differences in schools which are only miles apart.

The bonus part about the screening was that it was arranged by John & Ann Doerr, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg, who were all in attendance. It was an interesting crowd. Zuckerberg gave a little introduction, opening up with the line: “I’m not recommending people to go to the movies much these days, but…”

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4
Oct 10
Mon

Some questions arising from The Social Network

In The Social Network, Eduardo Saverin, Facebook’s slighted CFO gets his shareholdings diluted from about 35% all the way down to 0.03%, while the other shareholders maintain their holdings in proportion. I have a reasonable understanding about how VC investment works, but I didn’t understand how this was possible. Others have wondered the same thing.

In reality (if you believe what was reported by Gawker), Saverin appears to have been regarded by Zuckerberg to have been holding up the progress of the business. To reduce the influence on company affairs that came with a shareholding as substantial as Saverin’s, Zuckerberg incorporated a Delaware Corporation (as happened in the movie), which then acquired the outgoing Florida LLC. Saverin was simply given less shares in the new corporation. Litigation and Trial writes that if this was the case, it was a “blatant violation of fiduciary duty and a blatant act of minority shareholder oppression”. The problem can be kind of solved by a shareholder ratification of the action, but are we really to believe that Saverin would have just signed off on something like that? (It seems like he really did make $300k betting on futures, so he surely would’ve been able to get legal advice on the deal.)

Anyway, post-settlement, Saverin owns about 5% of the company, making him a billionaire.

Litigation and Trial also writes an interesting article about why Zuckerberg won’t sue for defamation.

And moving off the legal issues, Jezebel questions the unflattering portrayal of women in the movie.

Random trivia: apparently, where I sit at work now is about 5 metres away from where Zuckerberg used to sit (a couple years ago when Facebook was still in downtown PA).

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The Social Network

This movie was much better than I thought it would be when it was first announced. Much of it is written with liberal doses of poetic license, but the dialog is sharp, snappy, humorous, and often cuttingly witty. And some things are still based on fact. Go see it.

And who else tried looking for his LiveJournal page?

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28
Jul 10
Wed

GQ Interviews Bill Murray

GQ has an interview with Bill Murray in their August 2010 issue.

Bill Murray famously does not give interviews—he’s sat down for exactly four prolonged media encounters in the past ten years—and when he does, it’s never clear what you’re going to get. You just have to pray he’s in a good mood.

This is interview number five, then.

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31
Mar 10
Wed

Best of Arnie’s quotes

This is GOLD. It’s a compilation of 160 of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best quotes – everything from Terminator, Total Recall, and Conan, to Pumping Iron and him introducing “Abatar”.

 
When I was backpacking with Doz several years ago, somehow we got to talking about Total Recall and then started reciting some of the more memorable lines from it. It became a running joke between us – one of those silly things that cracked us up for some inexplicable reason. We went around Eastern Europe randomly repeating the line See you at the party, Richter! to each other and laughing uncontrollably. Then, at the end of the Europe leg, when we were staying in an apartment in Greece, we found out that the local TV station was going to screen Total Recall that night. We couldn’t believe the coincidence, and stayed in to watch it. Total Recall has never been as hilarious as it was that night. Anyway after that the practice kind of spread so that when we got back to Australia, a couple more of our friends started to drop random Arnie lines into conversation as well.

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16
Mar 10
Tue

Brand placement in Avatar

As Avatar’s worldwide gross continues to climb beyond $2.5 billion, hundreds of millions of people will have spotted the only two brands that feature in that movie: the U.S.M.C., and Stanford.

People have wondered if Stanford paid for that placement, but it turns out that not only did Stanford not pay for it, no one even asked it for permission before featuring Sigourney Weaver’s character’s avatar’s logo-adorned cardinal-colored tank top in the film.

Lapin has received a fair number of calls about Avatar since the movie’s release. “People have asked if we paid for the reference,” she says. “There are universities that do that, but we do not; we don’t even provide the shirts. We send them to the Bookstore.”

That’d be right. They stick a big “S” on something and suddenly the $10 hoodie you can buy from Walmart is $50 in the bookstore. Of course, Stanford is quick to say that if it had been asked, “it absolutely would have been something we would have approved.” Naturally. The estimated value of free publicity is nothing to sneeze at:

The value of being seen in a box-office hit of such magnitude “is obviously massive,” says Jeff Greenfield, editor of the online newsletter Product Placement News. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation (figuring a total of 30 seconds of movie exposure, times the likely total box office, DVD and broadcast TV impressions, times the typical cost of a 30-second U.S. TV advertisement per thousand views) has him estimating, very conservatively, that the Cardinal shirt represents around $3 million in advertising value to the school.

The real reason for the Farm’s appearance in the film is because Sigourney Weaver is a Stanford alumna and it was her idea.

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4
Feb 10
Thu

Pirating statistics for Oscar-nominated films

Continuing the day’s cinematograph film theme, Waxy.org has an article, Pirating the 2010 Oscars, which shows statistics (and graphs) about the speed at which pirates have pirated Oscar-nominated films over the last few years.

Since 2003, I’ve tracked the online distribution of Oscar screeners, and every year, the piracy scene manages to release nearly every film by nomination day. Last year, all but three films were leaked in DVD quality by nomination day.

Incredibly, the tide may be turning. Fewer Oscar screeners leaked online this year — only 14 out of 34 nominated films, the lowest percentage ever. And they’re taking twice as long to leak — a median 21 days after theatrical release, up from 11 days the previous year.

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1
Feb 10
Mon

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Earlier tonight, I watched Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. There are a lot of old, classic movies I haven’t seen because, I must confess, I usually find older films boring and slow-paced. (I can hear my dad scoffing at this from 10,000km away.) This movie happily turned out to not be one of them.

The 1967 film is probably the first to tackle interracial marriage, after it was effectively legalized in the same year by a Supreme Court judgment. Sydney Poitier plays a 38-year old man who meets a 23-year old woman in Hawaii. Poitier is an extremely well-credentialed medical doctor, but of course he’s black and she’s white. Ten days later they decide they want to get married and fly into San Francisco to sound out her parents about the idea. Even though her parents are wealthy liberals who are outspoken proponents of racial equality, the first meeting obviously does not go down well.

The rest of the film is very entertaining and I was surprised to find that the dialog wasn’t naive at all, but quite engaging and believable. (And for some reason I didn’t think people were allowed to cuss someone out and call them a bitch in movies back in the 60s, but it refreshingly turns out that they were.) Although times have obviously moved on since then, the film still maintains its relevance. I can see this sort of situation occurring reasonably regularly in today’s world. However, lest you think I imply that no progress has been made, the outcome of the movie might have been but a fairy tale back in the 60s, it no longer is today.

The other thing is that the film is set in SF, and I really enjoyed seeing the backdrop of the Bay and the SF streets throughout the movie. The look and feel of the city hasn’t changed all that much actually, although it seems that they had some cool diners back then where waitresses would come out and serve you in the car park when you honked your horn.

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19
May 08
Mon

21 and the Monty Hall problem

After initially appearing in Wired, the tale of the MIT Blackjack Club finally makes it to the big screen. It’s a decent watch, but nothing fantastic. Ironically, Mezrich probably would have made more money from his book and selling the rights to make the movie from it than the club members made pulling their long hours at the tables.

There is a scene from the movie where the character played by Kevin Spacey poses a question to our protagonist. It goes like this. You are on a game show. Before you are three closed doors. Behind one of them is a car, and behind the other two are goats. If you open the right door, you win what’s behind it (obviously, you want the car). The host, who knows what’s behind each door, gives you an opportunity to pick a door. After picking your door, the host does not open it, but instead opens another door – one which the host knows does not have the car. So now there are only two closed doors. The host then gives you a choice: you can stick with your original door, or you can switch to the other door. What do you do?

If you haven’t seen the problem before, pause here and have a think.

In the movie, our protagonist flips off an answer worthy of a 4.0 GPA mathematical whiz and opts to switch doors, saying that doing so will effectively double his chances of winning the car.

This is extremely counter-intuitive, but it is correct. The urge is of course to say, it doesn’t matter – you now have a 50/50 shot at the car since there are two doors. This would be true if the two occasions on which you get to pick doors are independent, but they’re not.

This problem is called the Monty Hall problem, after a game show host by that name. I’m not going to explain why it is the way it is (I find it easiest to explain to someone by drawing a probability tree, but Wikipedia explains it for you in several different ways). However, it is something which is conceptually difficult to explain someone purely orally.

I tried doing it with my flatmate (who is studying a double engineering degree) without much headway… so I tried simulating the game show. 10 runs later, he had only “won” the car 3 times, but he was unconvinced and said the sample size was too low. He remained unconvinced until I wrote a quick computer program to run through 10,000 samples (the car was won 3,331 times).

One way I like to explain it to remove the conceptual roadblock (ie, “It’s 50/50 because it’s an independent event!”) is that if it’s 50/50, then it shouldn’t matter that you choose not to switch doors when given the chance. So, if you stick with your original choice, you should have a 50/50 shot at winning. But, when you make that first choice you only have a 33% chance of winning. So why, if you stick with your first choice, would your chances of winning suddenly increase to 50% just because a door is removed? Well, the answer is, it doesn’t. Your chances of winning stay at 33%.

Here’s a variation. Say you have 4 doors. You get to pick one. After you do so, the game show host reveals one door which does not have the car and then gives you the choice to stay with your original door, or swap to one of the two other closed doors. What do you do?

Answer (highlight to reveal – sorry RSS readers): It will still increase your chances to swap. Not as much as in the 3-door scenario, but still enough to make a difference. If you stay with your first pick, you have a 1 in 4 chance of winning (25%). If you swap to one of the other doors (at random), I calculate your odds of winning improving to 3 in 8 (37.5%).

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6
May 07
Sun

A season for part 3s

Spiderman 3, Pirates 3, Ocean’s 13, Bourne Ultimatum, Rush Hour 3, Shrek 3… crazy movie season ahead. And Die Hard, but that’s a part 4.

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30
Mar 07
Fri

I guess that’s a recommendation for 300?

Earlier in the week…

11:39:29 PM [JED]_dReL: THIS IS SPARTA!!!
11:39:35 PM Stu: you seen it yet? it’s not out in australia
11:39:41 PM [JED]_dReL: fuck its SO GOOD man
11:39:47 PM [JED]_dReL: fuck its like having multi orgasms
11:39:51 PM Stu: hahaha
11:39:55 PM [JED]_dReL: the KILLER one liners in that show
11:40:04 PM [JED]_dReL: if we had both seen it alredi
11:40:15 PM [JED]_dReL: we would be spouting those lines in the apartment left rite centre
11:40:20 PM Stu: hahahah
11:40:25 PM Stu: the cinemas are so damn slow here
11:40:29 PM [JED]_dReL: yeah man
11:40:33 PM [JED]_dReL: its been out for 3 weeks [in Malaysia]

29
Jul 06
Sat

Damn

I got a little side-tracked while watching and now I’ve reached the end of my tether, fatigue wise. Time to hand it back to Stuart. Gnite!

Yojimbo 3

Hmm- the movie is actually a bit different from a Fistfull of Dollars, at least as I remember it- I guess it only follows it roughly after the beginning.

One funny scene was a fight between the two rival clans that never really got started. They just cowered at each other. Far cry from most battle scenes, and more realistic!

Yojimbo 2

It’s eerie how closely Yojimbo is followed by its famed pretender, Fistfull of Dollars. He makes his grand entrance as a force to be reckoned with in the same way, there’s the same joke with the cooper (coffin-maker) … great movie so far.

It’s in black and white, but don’t let that put you off.

Yojimbo

Nearly everyone should know the Yojimbo story, even if they haven’t seen the original film. It’s about a Samurai who walks into a town that’s being fought over by two rival clans. The Samurai kicks ass, takes names, and makes a lot of cash in the process.

If you haven’t seen Yojimbo (and I haven’t, until now) then you might have seen the Clint Eastwood classic “Fistfull of Dollars”- which is a virtual copy of the Yojimbo story, instead replace Samurai with Cowboy, katana with six shooters.

You might also have seen the not-so-classic (but still, in my opinion, entertaining) “Last Man Standing”- which is the most modern take- with Bruce Willis in the protagonist role in prohibition-era America. Not katanas or six shooters- but a pair of impossibly loud Colt M1911A1s, and the odd Thompson sub-machine gun.

You might also have played “Fallout”- where the scenario is repeated once more in a post-apocalyptic future role playing game in one particular quest line. Replace katanas, six shooters, and Colt M1911A1s with futuristic guns, lots of Mad Max style clothes, and a great damn game. Throw in Richard Dean Anderson (aka MacGuyver, aka Colonel Jack O’Neill from Stargate) doing a voice over.

But I digress. On to the movie!

Lost Boys End

Ok- that was pretty awesome. Good twist at the end, in my opinion. A really off-centre movie, sometimes serious, sometimes funny, sometimes gory, always interesting. Now then … time for Yojimbo.

Lost Boys 7

I have real trouble trying to pin this movie down. A pretty violent, bloody orgy of slaughter by the vampire nest when they attack revelers on the beach (earning the movie’s M 15+ Rating, I think)- followed by the comical antics of the two Coreys (early teens, easily) incompetently trying to save the “lost” brother and his love interest from the vampires. Complete with water pistols shooting holy water + garlic. Bizarre.

Lost Boys 6

This is one of those “kill the head vampire” type stories- or is it? The movie’s quite good at making me speculate- Corey Haim is going from a comic book when he states that if they can kill the head vampire, his brother and the other “half-vampires” will return to normal. Normally, I’d say this was a straightforward case of them somehow killing Kiefer Sutherland and then finding out in a “surprise” twist that he wasn’t the head vampire at all. But the movie keeps you guessing- another funny scene where the two Coreys tried all sorts of antics on a character to tell if he was a vampire- like the implausible “burn them with water” trick (whoever heard of that one before? Isn’t it holy water?). Leaving the possibility open that there’s no head vampire at all. Hmm. Wonder how this pans out.

Lost Boys 5

Oh yeah- definitely a movie with a sense of humor. The kid’s brother gets discovered as a vampire in such a matter of fact way, it’s almost as if he’s been caught smoking weed! “You’re a creature of the night! My own brother a ^%&-sucking vampire! Wait till Mom finds out!” Hilarious stuff.

Doz

Lost Boys 4

As is typical with Vampire movies- it seems the brother of Corey Haim (played by I don’t know Who) is made a vampire by being seduced by a woman- or, more accurately, chasing her along with Kiefer Sutherland and his gang to their lair. Why is that always the way? Is it the latent sexual undertones of the whole vampire mythos? Maybe it’s tied up with the whole “you know, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be a vampire” thing …

Doz

PS: Ok, now that’s disturbing. Corey Haim’s character has a picture of a half-naked Rob Lowe on his closet door. I’m scared.

Lost Boys 3

Wow- do you remember those Simpsons episodes where Bart is watching some non-descript horror movie and there’s always some scene of the couple sitting in the back seat of the car, the woman thinks she hears something, the guy says its nothing, then boom they get attacked by some monster? I always understood this to be a cliche- but I’d never actually seen the original article in an actual film. Until now- but I get the funny feeling that the scene in the Lost Boys was in much the same vein as the Simpsons take- poking fun. This movie has a sense of humour I think.

I still want to see a movie with a sincere version of that scene.

Lost Boys 2

There’s something very attractive about the old Vampire mythos, I think. This movie reminds me of a PC game I played last year- Vampire: The Masquerade, Bloodlines. You play a Vampire, obviously, and the story revolves around the machinations of the Vampire underworld, played out among the city nights. Normal people are so much … cattle, compared to you. Why is that so attractive? Maybe people like the thought of being a predator. Or maybe it’s just me.

(For those who have no idea about the Lost Boys, yes, it’s a vampire movie)

Doz

The Lost Boys

It’s funny the little things that can make you want to watch a movie. Take “The Lost Boys”, a 1987 film directed by Joel Schumacher (“history’s greatest villain” as far as Batman fans are concerned).

I first heard about it when watching “Resevoir Dogs”. Tim Roth is telling a story and part of that story is how he’s trying to watch the Lost Boys. That’s it. Really. I saw Resevoir Dogs the other day, and my memory was jogged. So I’m at the store and what do I see but a copy of the Lost Boys for $12.98. Yoink, mine, thank you. Kiefer Sutherland of “24″ fame is in it- so far (only a few minutes in) he looks like an awesome character- cool, in that un-cool, 1980s sort of way. Woah- even Keanu Reeves’ sidekick from the Bill & Ted movies is in this! And looking at the credits- it’s one of those 80s movies with “the two Coreys”- Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. This is retro night. I think I’m going to enjoy this movie.

Oh, and for the record, Lost Boys doesn’t have that annoying “don’t steal movies” video. I just thought I’d mention it as a gripe. Moving right along.

Doz

DVDs

Hi, Doz here-

Did you ever find it frustrating how some DVDs insist on showing you that patronizing “don’t steal movies” video with the mediocre rock music and the oh so contemporary editing- even though you’ve bought the damnable thing? Just who thought up this brilliant plan? Either the guy bought the DVD and is feeling insulted at being given this groovy rock sermon when he just wants to watch the movie, or the guy pirated the movie and … what? He’s going to be assaulted by waves of guilt and never pirate another film again? Optimistic, aren’t they?

Rant off.

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23
Jul 06
Sun

Movies

It’s been a good year for movies. I guess I’m not the most discerning movie-goer, but the blockbusters have generally been positive.

Pirates 2
Loved it. I didn’t know that number 2 was part of a two-parter so I’m a little miffed I’m going to have to wait for whenever the third part comes out to get a full story out of it. And that soundtrack kicks ass.

Superman Returns
Pretty good effort I thought. The plot never really felt like it climaxed for me (which is odd for a superhero movie), but it still managed to keep me interested through its longer-than-usual running time.

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2
Jul 06
Sun

Tokyo Drift

You know, the third installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise is surprisingly… entertaining. And the cameo at the end is entertainingly surprising.

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24
Jun 06
Sat

Click

Two thumbs up for the excellent new Adam Sandler flick.

28
May 06
Sun

X-Men 3

Thumbs up from me. Beaut special effects. Everyone is amazed at the CGI which shaves years off Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen’s faces in the flashback at the start of the movie. You might be offended if you’re a comic book purist.

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24
May 06
Wed

The Da Vinci Code

Don’t see what the fuss is about. It’s an ok movie. If you’ve read the book, the movie is skippable.

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MI3

Mission: Impossible 3 was pretty good, I’d recommend it.

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20
Jan 06
Fri

Airplane movies

Once again Singapore Airlines’ flights have been the nicest to fly on… on the Rome-Singapore flight last week I plodded through Transporter 2, Fantastic Four, Lord of War and The Constant Gardener.

Transporter 2 was fun. Fantastic Four was definitely missable.

I really, really liked Lord of War, definitely recommend watching it when it gets released in the cinemas. It takes a very interesting look into the world of arms-trading, told in an easy-to-watch style which at the same time pulls no punches. The Constant Gardener had a different tone to Lord of War – slower, more serious – but sort of felt the same in that they both delve into the issue that is Africa (an issue that has been quite prominent over the last year), specifically its problems with war and poverty. I’d also recommend this movie.

18
May 05
Wed

Star Wars

IT TOTALLY ROCKED!!! Easily the best of the prequel trilogy. Fantastic cinema atmosphere as always. Maybe more after some sleep. If you haven’t seen it, what the are you waiting for?

It’s like a Greek tragedy… so that’s what it took to get me to appreciate that format… and what those english high school classes were good for.

14
May 05
Sat

MPAA shuts down several BitTorrent sites – to what end?

As the US television season winds down (out of my weekly viewing list, Enterprise and Amazing Race have finished, and Smallville is almost over as well), the MPAA has sued several BitTorrent sites. They went offline overnight, which left many people bewildered – wondering where the sites went – and annoyed – wondering where they were going to get their final episodes of whatever serial they were watching. BTEfnet.net was among the most prominent of these.

Mysteriously, the trading of BT files was halted on the #bt irc channel on EFNet, with 3000+ silenced people lurking on the channel wondering what the hell happened. Technically, the BTEfnet website is just a monitor of the #bt channel. Whenever a new show is released on #bt, a program scrapes the torrent file off it and then posts it automatically to the web. So, it is the IRC channel that drives the website, and there is no reason why if the MPAA serves a notice on the web site, it should affect the IRC channel (since it is not centralised, like the website is). It appears that it was just a precautionary measure because within a few hours, #bt was trading again and continues to trade. So if you’re looking for your TV torrents, hop on IRC.

Also, the latest version of Azureus has introduced distributed tracking – which removes another bit of BitTorrent which requires centralisation (centralisation is the bane of P2P when it comes to zealous copyright agencies suing everyone).

Interestingly, Sweden appears to have rather lax copyright laws, and The Pirate Bay is a BT site which has been violating US copyright laws and ignoring cease & desist letters with impunity.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The movie was a great adaptation of the book. I guess knowing that Douglas Adams had a hand in writing the screenplay helps make any deviation from the novel more palatable. Where it deviated from the plot, the overall character of the storytelling shone through. I felt it was also a little more upbeat than the BBC television series which aired years and year ago.

28
Nov 04
Sun

National Treasure

Cool movie. Everyone loves a good treasure hunt with a good dose of history and conspiracies thrown in for good measure. I guess I was in the right mindset for it because I just finished reading The Da Vinci Code. Justin also linked this which I thought was interesting.

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12
Oct 04
Tue

Before Sunset

Finally got around to seeing Before Sunset, the sequel to Before Sunrise. The basic premise is that in Before Sunrise, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets with a Parisienne girl, Celine (Julie Delpy) on a transcontinental European train and, on a whim, spend a day together in Vienna. Without swapping any contact details at all, they both agree to meet back at a train station in six months, and then the film ends. Before Sunset is set nine years afterwards (it was also filmed nine years afterwards), and Jesse is in Paris – promoting a fiction book based on his tryst nine years ago, no less – when he meets up with Celine. This time, instead of 24 hours, they have about eighty minutes before Jesse has to be at the airport to catch his plane flight back to America.

At heart it’s a romance movie, but it’s one that perhaps needs an acquired taste. Essentially, the movie is 80 minutes of pure dialogue as Jesse and Celine take a stroll and a chat through Paris. The dialogue is a joy to listen to. Essentially it’s nothing special – it’s the sort of conversation that any two reasonably privileged westerners who are close friends would have. But Hawke and Delpy have an onscreen chemistry. Their conversation (Which they had a hand in scripting) flows, complete with umms and ahhs, pauses and silences. The topics covered are varied. Sometimes the transition between topics is smooth, sometimes abrupt. While sometimes the dialog feels a little too eloquent to be off-the-cuff, for the most part, it simply feels like a real conversation and not a movie conversation. Near the start of the movie, Jesse asks an everyday question along the lines of, “So what have you done in the past few years? What do you do now?” The reply is a genuine response – she gives a mundane description of her job, her studies and so on. Not every exchange is “magical” which I found appealingly realistic.

Also intriguing is observing how the characters have changed in the past nine years; just the little things. They both now smoke, Celine has changed her opinion on reincarnation, we learn about their different worldviews and so on. Of course, it’s the romance part of them that’s the most interesting. About halfway into the movie, we hear what we’ve been curious about all along: are they still single? No. Jesse is married and Celine has a boyfriend, and we suddenly find ourselves in a very Lost In Translation-type scenario.

The movie has an even more ambiguous ending than its prequel, but I did not find this lack of resolution a problem. For those that need closure, like my flatmate, who felt the lack of an ending was “stupid”, the film will no doubt make you feel dissatisfied. For me, I loved this movie. Watching it feels like catching up with a couple friends you haven’t seen for years, over coffee, except you don’t get to talk (and in this aspect, you’re basically an eavesdropper). If you think about it, listening in to strangers’ private conversations for long periods is something you just don’t do in everyday life. It’d get boring, not to mention a little perverse, after a while, but Hawke and Delpy aren’t really strangers to the audience, and they work so well together that the conversation is really entertaining to listen to. Highly recommended.

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13
Sep 04
Mon

Dodgeball

Ben Stiller, zany, stupid, pretty darn funny. It’s interesting to note that Christine Taylor (playing Kate Veatch, the object of White Goodman’s much unwanted advances) is Stiller’s wife in real life. Must’ve been fun. Lots of cameos in this movie too, including, Chuck Norris as Himself.

The Bourne Supremacy

If you liked the first one, you’ll like the second. I liked the first one. Ergo…

28
Aug 04
Sat

Hellboy and Before Sunrise/Sunset

Hellboy’s fun to watch. That’s all I have to say about it, really.

Also saw Before Sunrise (on VHS!), which I thought was a pretty decent flick. It stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who meet on a train in Europe and end up spending a day together in Vienna, before parting ways. It’s a romantic, mostly dialogue driven film that flows very naturally. I’m now quite interested to see the sequel, Before Sunset, that’s currently out. It’s set nine years after the Vienna meeting and is also being released with Hawke and Delpy nine years older in real life.

24
Jul 04
Sat

I, Robot

As much of a sci-fi fan as I am, I must confess that I have not read any of Asimov’s novels. A non-fiction work, a few short stories, but I’ve never read the classic Foundation series, nor I, Robot.

When you take the work of a venerable science fiction writer, turn it into a Hollywood movie, and cast Will Smith as its lead, you’re bound to go in with low expectations. As such, I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually quite a good movie, even though I assume it’s probably nothing like the novel on which it is based.

The movie is set 30 years in the future. I really liked how the sets are a blend of futuristic technology and gadgets, while still showing the streets are not exactly paved with gold, with lots of retro touches included (in the 2030s, retro means the 2000s). Nonetheless, it’s a very pretty picture, filled with biometrics, LCDs and voice-controlled computers.

I’ve read that Asimov spent a lot of time dealing with how humans might interact with robots. He never pushed the “robots take over the world” scenario, feeling it was too clichéd, but instead looked at how his famous Three Laws of Robotics might ensure a beneficial existence with robots. Of course, Hollywood has to be more exciting than that, and ths movie does allude to Asimov’s “Zeroth” law (as in 0th) in what happens towards the end of the film. You won’t want to know what the Zeroth law is if you don’t want spoilers.

The plot is fairly predictable and the themes familiar if you’re a sci-fi buff. Nonetheless, Will Smith keeps things entertaining. (Incidentally, James Cromwell, who plays Dr Lanning in the film, has had a good run. He’s invented the warp drive, and now he’s invented robots that dream.) It’s a fun watch, if you don’t try and nit-pick it to pieces.

For me, a future with NS-5 type robots is definitely more than thirty years away. We have automated vacuum cleaners, dancing robots and robot pets. The Robocup competition, currently played with Aibos, has the long-term objective of creating a team of human-sized robots that will be able to compete with a World Cup winning side within around 50 years. For a robotic butler however, things are more than a few years or even decades off.

It’s always dangerous to predict what will happen with technology. History has repeatedly shown people get things wrong. For example, you might say that if you told a person fifty years ago that people could affordably travel across the globe in under a day, they would think you’re crazy. Or if you told a person twenty years ago, all the information in the world was virtually available at everyone’s finger tips via something improbably called “Google” (I mean, how non-futuristic does that name sound?), they would have laughed.

Still, it seems a lot of the super-technologies we can concieve of today don’t look achievable within our lifetime. I would place robots with artificial intelligence in the same category as a world government and planetary colonisation. It’s more complex than something like holography or commercial space travel (which are decidely attainable), but not as exotic as transporter technology (dealing with visible amounts of physical matter) or faster-than-light travel which I would bet significant amounts of money won’t be achieved in our lifetime.

The thing is, as rapidly as modern technology is progressing, each additional step of technology corresponds with an exponential increase in scientific complexity. Theoretical science is quite advanced, but applied sciences, which are constrained by physical processes, lag quite far behind.

Something like near-perfect voice recognition, which has been worked on for decades, would constitute for me a major technological breakthrough. AI is several orders of magnitude harder than that. As such, many of the improvements over the last few years since the Internet became mainstream are more evolutionary than revolutionary. For example, wireless technology permits all sorts of applications. Yet, wireless communications are just protocols and radio waves, nothing revolutionary. It’s the major technological breakthroughs that are the exciting ones and apart from the possibility of commercial space travel in the near future, there aren’t many I can think of on the horizon.

I really wish I could take a peek 20 years into the future. But who knows? I may look back on these journal entries after that amount of time and be forced to recant these words. I sure hope so.

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17
Jul 04
Sat

Dawn of the Dead

Something like 28 Days Later, but somehow not as stressful to watch. Nothing like an urban zombie flick, with Ving Rhames in it, no less. Maddox has a much better review of it :).

16
Jul 04
Fri

Fahrenheit 9/11

Caught an advance screening of it at Cinema Paris. As Doz pointed out to me after the movie, Moore is an excellent propagandist. That only makes the doco all the more compelling. If you’re a fence-sitter who’s not sure why Bush is disliked or hated throughout the world, see the movie. It’ll be an eye-opener for you. See it, read of both the praises and the condemnations its received, and then make up your own mind.

The movie moves through a lot of different points. It uses suggestion a lot, rarely resorting to a direct accusation (never does Moore gloat that WMDs have not been found yet — he just sort of assumes the audience has worked that bit out). The connection drawn between the Bush and Saudi Arabian families smack of conspiracy theorist linkages, but at least the evidence he presents and assertions he makes are all sourced and verified (you’d have to make sure that was the case if you’re going to attack the Government). The style seems a touch more restrained than Bowling for Columbine, but is still expertly crafted and powerfully moving.

This movie received applause at its conclusion. That, in Australian cinemas whose audiences are generally quite restrained, is reserved only for the most popular movies. Very highly recommended.

15
Jul 04
Thu

King Arthur

King Arthur was crap. Action was bland, dialogue was stunted and I ended up not giving a damn about what happened to the characters who were never made endearing. A very, very poor version of Braveheart (which played on the freedom theme a hundred times more effectively).

Shrek 2

Short, but funny! Recommended and pretty much up to the same standard as the first instalment.

5
Jul 04
Mon

Spiderman 2

I really liked Spidey 2. Action was excellent, as was the CGI (if a little “stop-motion” at times). Lots of slow scenes teasing out the main comic themes such as the famous power/responsibility line and that infuriating romantic theme of “MJ can’t hook up with Spidey because it might hurt her”. Probably infuriating because I’ve been watching Smallville and seeing Superman in the exact same quandary, but for three long and painful seasons.

21
Jun 04
Mon

Fahrenheit 9/11 under the microscope again

While factual inaccuracies and unfair play may have undermined the full impact of Bowling for Columbine, the New York Times reports that Fahrenheit 9/11 has been properly vetted and verified.

Mr. Moore usually revels in his role as the target of conservative attacks, and his delight in playing the mischievous, little-guy bomb-thrower has brought him fame, wealth and the devotion of fans more interested in rhetorical force than precision. But with “Fahrenheit” he has taken on his biggest and best-defended target yet, and his production staff says that on his orders they have taken no chances in checking and double-checking the film, knowing Bush supporters would pounce on factual mistakes.

Mr. Moore is readying for a conservative counterattack, saying he has created a political-style “war room” to offer an instant response to any assault on the film’s credibility. He has retained Chris Lehane, a Democratic Party strategist known as a master of the black art of “oppo,” or opposition research, used to discredit detractors. He also hired outside fact-checkers, led by a former general counsel of The New Yorker and a veteran member of that magazine’s legendary fact-checking team, to vet the film. And he is threatening to go one step further, saying he has consulted with lawyers who can bring defamation suits against anyone who maligns the film or damages his reputation.

It is, however, still a partisan criticism of Bush’s time in government. However, Moore is an advocate, not a judge. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is based on solid, truthful evidence.

That said, Mr. Moore’s fact-checkers do not view the film as straight reportage. “This is an Op-Ed piece, it’s not a news report,” said Dev Chatillon, the former general counsel for The New Yorker. “This is not The New York Times, it’s not a network news report. The facts have to be right, yes, but this is an individual’s view of current events. And I’m a very firm believer that it is within everybody’s right to examine the actions of their government.”

Looking very forward to seeing this movie.

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29
May 04
Sat

The Day After Tomorrow

I love global disaster flicks and what-if scenarios. This is a good disaster flick. The computer graphics are gorgeous and the action is enough to keep the interest levels up. Nothing like seeing twisters ravage LA, or a tsunami decimate NYC.

Its most frequent criticism is that it is sorely lacking scientific accuracy, but you’d have to be in a real bad mood to rubbish the film completely because of this. Sure, climate change takes years to happen, but that wouldn’t make for a very exciting movie, would it? (Anyway, like any decent scientific-movie-with-a-message, it spawns a lot of magazine articles and web posts from people scrambling to point out the inaccuracies and thus people learn the “truth” anyway.)

From what I understand, it surprised me to discover that technically, we currently are in an ice age. An ice age is a long-term period where there is a decrease in the overall global temperature. Within an ice age, however, there are periods (called glacial periods) where sharper temperature fluctuations cause glaciation – where the polar caps expand over the continental landmasses, like in the movie. We’re in an interglacial period now. The Wikipedia has more info if you’re interested.

16
May 04
Sun

Troy

I notice all the “reviews” of this movie on chicks’ blogs are singularly minded. Of course, I have no wish nor intent on pausing to consider the attractiveness of Brad Pitt in a skirt (although damn, those armies were the most masculine display of men in skirts that I’ve seen since Braveheart – I didn’t even realise the fact until a fair way into the movie).

The battle scenes were fantastic, and the face-off between Archilles and Hector was very good to watch. Troy’s a pretty good movie if you decide to jettison any notion that it was meant to be based on Homer’s classic work of literature. It was a pretty big bastardisation of the Iliad.

Paris should have died. He did die in the book. But for some reason, Orlando Bloom lives. That was annoying.

9
May 04
Sun

Van Helsing

I really really liked Van Helsing. Great fun. The scenery was excellent, the music score was different but cool, the action was always there and Kate Beckinsale was in it.

1
May 04
Sat

Gothika

I made a commitment never to watch anymore horror or shock thriller flicks. I think that paying money so that I can sit for two hours in stress and fear, followed by not being able to sleep due to a hyperactive imagination and a suddenly enhanced sense of hearing, is something horribly wrong in principle. It’s worse in summer when you’re left with the predicament between sweating it out under the covers, or leaving your body parts exposed in the open to cool, but very much vulnerable to monsters.

Unfortunately my will is weak. I succumbed to peer pressure and went to see Gothika. It’s pretty funny when something shocking happens and you see absolutely everyone in front of you in the cinema jolt. Except that the humour in the moment is lost because your heart has momentarily stopped and you’re busy trying to peel it off the ceiling. Gothika is filled with more things that shock than disturb. The disturbing scenes are the things that stick around in your mind. Like that bizarre jerky walking motion the ghost has. Or seeing someone in the rear view mirror who shouldn’t be there. Joyce had to drive home alone at about 2am. I bet you she had the radio on full blast.

The movie sucked, by the way.

24
Apr 04
Sat

Kill Bill: Vol 2

Well if you’ve seen the first half of the movie, you have to see the second half. There have been complaints by certain individuals with limited attention spans that the movie was boring, but I found it very good.

29
Mar 04
Mon

Paycheck

I loved it. Sure there are plot holes (hey, it’s a movie that screws around with time), but it was tight enough to be fairly convincing. It seems to cover slightly different ground to Minority Report which was also based on a Phillip K Dick story. The pre-crime predictions in Minority Report were a once off prediction and were changeable once you became aware of them. On the other hand, Jennings in Paycheck was not aware of his “preset future” at all, having had his memory wiped. Therefore, it was a case of where the crystal ball machine predicted his future (I don’t think that’s a spoiler, you get told that in the trailer) with 100% pinpoint accuracy, regardless of what he did. But otherwise, the two movies had really similar feels.

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Army of Darkness

One of those cult classic movies that various people have been recommending me for ages. Definitely a fun watch. It’s sort of like a horror movie which has swapped out all the horror for humour, if that makes any sense. This is my BOOMSTICK!

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5
Mar 04
Fri

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

You want me to kill de cook? Pretty entertaining, especially if you liked Desparado.

3
Mar 04
Wed

Monster

Yep, Charlize Theron deserved that Oscar. She’s virtually unrecognisable in her role playing a serial killer/prostitute/lesbian, and it’s not just the makeup and prosthetics. Which is what makes it all so convincing. Thanks for the lend of the DVD Jess.

25
Feb 04
Wed

The Passion of The Christ

A movie like The Passion was always going to come under intense media scrutiny and criticism. The film has garnered support from leaders of various denominations (even aside from the commendation claimed to have been uttered by the Pope that turned out to be a fabrication) and, interestingly, also a Rabbi or two. Nonetheless, the main two criticisms have been that the movie is anti-Semitic, and that the movie focuses so much on gore and Jesus’ physical suffering, that it is so far removed from any of the tolerance, love or forgiveness that director Mel Gibson claimed to seek in the film.

Virtually all the people I’ve spoken to do not see the movie as being anti-Semitic. At the very least, no one emerged from the cinema with a cold hatred for the Jews who “killed God”, and anyone who did probably had that feeling going in to the cinema in the first place. The concern arises over the depiction of Caiaphas (and the rest of the Sanhedrin) as a cold, deceitful, heartless instigator of the pain inflicted upon Christ. However, this is no different from any other movie with a sadistic antagonist. Just because Tavington in The Patriot had a penchant for more “brutal” methods of quashing the American revolution, didn’t mean all English were likewise cruel. On the contrary, there are numerous scenes where Jews were portrayed in kinder lights, such as Simon, the cross-bearer.

In any case, on a religious level, without Caiaphas’ actions, the prophecies never would have been fulfilled. The fulfillment of the prophecies was only necessary because man was sinful and nothing else could erase that. If you want to be picky, the Jews may have ordered Jesus’ death, but can anyone really think that Jesus, the Son of God, would have let himself be abused, let alone crucified, if it was not God’s will? (Mat 26:53; cf Mat 26:39) To come away with animosity towards the Jews of today for the acts shown in this movie is just not logical.

But you also can’t really blame the Jews for voicing such concerns, as inaccurate as they may be. Compared to the conflicted and reluctant character of Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas is definitely not portrayed in a positive fashion. I imagine it’s also touchy because Judaism has always denied Jesus as being the Messiah. In other words, Caiaphas’ disbelief that Jesus was the Son of God extends to the present for Jews today. Of course, this belief is entirely different from the motivation of Caiaphas wanting Jesus crucified in order to secure his position at the head of the Sadducees.

Another issue arises with Gibson inserting some scenes that are not mentioned in the Bible, but are part of Catholic tradition. For instance, when Jesus collapses when carrying the cross, a woman scuttles over to him, wipes his face with a cloth that later retains an imprint of Jesus’ face, and tries to offer him a drink. That woman is supposed to be St Veronica, who is not found in any of the Gospels. It is known that Gibson supplemented his Bible readings with the writings of two nuns,
Catherine Emmerich and Mary of Agreda. Such scenes are obviously not canonical, and to some it taints the Gospel (perhaps with reference to Rev 22:18). It is true that the movie might have been a little more interdenominational had Gibson left out these scenes. However, the movie is not a substitute for the written gospel. It is a dramatical re-enactment, and you’d expect that the Christians in the audience would be aware that what they are seeing is just like any other film based on a true story – not 100% accurate, nor claiming to be. It’s not a documentary, it’s not a Gospel substitute. It’s a movie.

More strongly, some believe the movie to be heretical in itself, violating the commandment about idolatry (Exo 20:4) by even attempting to depict Jesus. But again, the movie is not creating a figure of Jesus to be worshipped. No one’s going to be worshiping Jesus thinking he looks like Jim Caviezel (although it seems to me that any dark-haired caucasian with a beard like that will automatically look like a movie-Jesus). The movie isn’t trying to create an idol. It is merely an aid to understanding the Gospels.

That said, and away from any theological concerns, the movie does a wonderful job as a period piece. It was filmed in Italy, with dialogue in Aramaic and Latin and subtitles. Some people dislike subtitles, but to be honest, there’s not a whole lot of dialogue, and the majority of dialogue is taken straight from the Book anyway. It’s certainly refreshing not having to hear the actors speaking stilted lines in American-accented English.

One of the most contentious aspects of the film is that it is quite intensely graphic. For most of us, it will be the most gory movie we have ever seen. Not because it features the most people dying, or the most blood spilt, or the most gruesome methods of death, but because it’s essentially a two hour long torture session. That’s never been done before. The movie turns a single sentence, “He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15) into a thirty minute spectacle of Jesus getting his skin flayed off, inch by inch, by two burly Romans who are doubled over with exhaustion by the end of it all. There’ve been reports of people leaving the cinema – not so much because they were offended by the gore, but because they couldn’t stomach it.

Admittedly, the violence is overly emphasised (it’s hard to believe a man could endure that much suffering without passing out at least once), but it’s not gratuitous. Whether confronting (some would say punishing) the audience with so much of it was warranted is a matter of personal opinion.

I think it was warranted for a couple reasons. It is shows, in a very raw way, what Jesus went through. It’s certainly not the image any of us had of the scourging in Sunday school. To me, however, the real power in it is that, from a Christian perspective, we know that what Jesus really, really feared when he was praying in Gethsemane was not the physical agony he was about to endure, but the imminent spiritual separation from God (Luke 22:42-44). (It is interesting that Gibson replaced the angel in verse 43 with a leering Satan.) That spiritual separation scared him more than the crucifixion is telling indeed. There will be a lot of Christians saying afterwards, “look, you can see what the Lord had to go through to save us all”, but what he really had to go through is absent from the screen. We will never know what he really had to go through to save us – you can’t depict that sort of anguish on screen. So in place of that, Gibson has substituted it with something we all (Christian or not) can identify with – physical suffering. And that, I suppose, is the justification for upping the level of gore. For non-believers without an understanding of Christianity, the violence is something I imagine that would arouse curiousity.

Interestingly, the film only received an MA rating, which means it is accessible to all ages. As Ebert has noted, it either means that the ratings board will not award an R for violence alone, or that its subject-matter played a part in getting it downgraded to an MA.

One thing I would have liked to see is more about the resurrection, to round out the 2 hours of suffering we had to watch. Regardless, I do highly recommend this film. I’m not sure what atheists or agnostics who are set in their ways will get out of it, but it is a quite competent piece of cinema.

23
Feb 04
Mon

Tropfest

Huge amount of people in the Domain this year for Tropfest – 105,000 apparently. We rocked up about half an hour before the starting time and had a lot of trouble finding seating. The quality of entries this year was even better than last year’s. I pretty much agreed with the choice of winners.

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18
Feb 04
Wed

One Perfect Day

Didn’t have the typical feel of an Aussie movie, which was a good change. Music track was great to listen to (or would have been had the stupid cinema speaker system not cut out every two minutes). Not too bad a flick, it was more than I thought it’d be.

9
Feb 04
Mon

21 Grams

This movie is pretty disjointed and disorientating at the start. It not only skips between different groups of people who initially appear to have nothing to do with one another, but it also skips backwards and forwards through time. Luckily for us, things begin to gel towards the end. It’s a fairly enjoyable watch if you like movies done in a style reminiscent of Memento.

22
Jan 04
Thu

The Last Samurai

I’m currently ploughing through Feist and Wurts’ Empire Trilogy, which is a damn good read. The Empire Trilogy is set on Kelewan, a society largely based on Japanese culture, central to which is the concept of honour. One of its major themes is how Kelewan struggles to come to grips with social progression and crumbling tradition, brought on by interplanetary influences. The Last Samurai is a really nice period piece, set in the late 19th century, where international influences and scheming bureaucrats who lack any honour at all have all but swept away the old Samurai order. The movie evoked deep respect for the passing of the old ways, but also sadly acknowledged that the modern age makes such change necessary. Recommended.

9
Dec 03
Tue
5
Dec 03
Fri

Master and Commander

Good, simple movie with a bit of everything you’d expect from old style naval movies. The ocean storm and battle scenes are excellent and really capture the scale of things. Apparently Big “I don’t want any of your fucking salmon!” Russ was a bit of a prick on the set though, but what else is new?

5
Nov 03
Wed

Matrix: Revolutions

Caught the midnight session. Needs a rewatch. I need some time to think. Special effects were fantastic. Plot was disappointing, although I’m too tired to think fully about it now. More later.

25
Oct 03
Sat

Intolerable Cruelty

Well… this film had its moments. I think Shan and I were the only two people in the cinema cracking up at the lawyer in-jokes (which weren’t all that funny, come to think of it).

17
Oct 03
Fri

Kill Bill

Two thumbs up!

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19
Sep 03
Fri

Bad Boys 2

Quite entertaining! Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are like, 10 years older, but it really doesn’t show.

Finding Nemo

Another excellent Pixar film. Highly recommended.

11
Sep 03
Thu

American Wedding

Finally saw it. The movie was in its final week of screening at Fox Hoyts and was relegated to the Director’s Lounge or whatever they call it. It’s a small, cosy cinema. Movie was great, a rare occasion where the third instalment manages to keep up with the standard of the first two. The “special dinner” scene with the parents was a classic. And where Stiffler indulges in a touch of coprophagy. And… yeah, plenty of “memorable” moments in this movie.

8
Sep 03
Mon

DIY Home Videos

Tips on making home movies, from the SMH: “‘When you’re shooting movies of your family they won’t want to watch pictures of themselves looking ugly,’ says Collins. ‘In other words, if they look like shit don’t just keep shoving a camera in their face.’”

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5
Sep 03
Fri

28 Days Later

I hate horror movies, or suspense movies, or whatever you want to call them. You know the ones I mean. Some people like them, but for me personally, they’re stressful to watch, and I don’t believe that you should pay good money to sit there to be stressed for the greater part of two hours. That’s what uni exams are for. I’m not sure if its the fear that those movies put into you of what is happening on the screen, or just the fear of jolting at a sudden shock, and then feeling embarrassed because everyone saw you convulse in your seat. But despite my traditional boycott of these movies, I went and watched 28 Days Later because I heard it was good. It was a pretty good film. Most suspense films these days aren’t really scary as opposed to shocking. It’s easy to shock, you just play some funky music, fade it out, then at the relevant moment, show something gory on the screen and cue a damn loud noise. It’s the noise that does it. There aren’t that many sudden shocks in this film, and the fear is all in the chasing, and the shambling, rasping sounds of the Infected as they draw nearer. I found it fairly intense, although there are some times I which I could reach out and slap the director in the head, because he’s put in scenes where he knows are purely there to scare you (such as walking into a dark place for no good reason). Nonetheless it’s a good zombie flick.

Stay to the end of the credits. They have an alternate ending to show. It’s not so much alternate ending as it is a “what if?” scene, and it leaves you to fill in the gaps. Great fun to hypotheticise over. And also to think what you would do were you in your city and faced with the same situation. I’d find a boat, load it up with lots of water or carbonated drinks, canned food, moor a few kilometres off shore, and sit it out for two months, if that’s possible.

25
Aug 03
Mon

Matrix 3 Trailer

The new Matrix Revolutions trailer is out, but it’s pretty much the same as the one you would have seen if you stayed behind after the credits of Reloaded.

15
Aug 03
Fri

The Italian Job

Really fun movie! The Napster jokes are hilarious and it even has a cameo of Shawn Fanning in it.

Tears of the Sun

This was an impressive film. You can always approach a film like this with a cynical eye, or you can go with the flow and become immersed in it. If you do the latter, this film is very powerful. If you do the latter, the effect is lost, but the movie’s core sentiments are still true at heart. Possible spoilers ahead, but it’s not the plot you’re watching this movie for, it’s the themes. I rarely lapse into idealistic rambling, but I don’t think lapsing into idealistic moods occasionally is a bad thing at all.

The film dives straight into it. A military team led by Bruce Willis is sent in to extract “foreign nationals” (ie: Americans) from an African country that has plunged into another brutal civil war/rebel uprising. It’s telling that it could be virtually any African nation, but this one happens to be Nigeria (and what ironic timing, given Nigeria’s current involvement in Liberia). The team’s primary object is to get a doctor, played by Monica Belucci, to safety. When she refuses to leave without taking a bundle of Nigerian refugees along with her, an apparently straightforward assignment quickly turns perilous as Willis’ conscious elects for the moral high road. Unfortunately the moral high road is extremely long and deadly.

Far too often we hear about ethnic cleansing and African warlords massacring civilian men, women and children. It may appear in the news for a few days. Soon, however, it is forgotten. If a similar event happened in Western society, just a single case of systematic ethnic cleansing and mutilation, the news would not leave the front pages for weeks. This is simply true because we do not regard genocide as something particularly unexpected in impoverished nations. Something like that happening on home soil, however, is unthinkable. That’s unfortunately the harsh reality of the world, and hearing about it through the news is such a sterile way of hearing what are truly “crimes against humanity”. However, regardless of how expected, or unexpected such atrocities are, they are universally held as atrocities, and it is perhaps saddening that they do not get as much attention as they warrant.

One of the strongest scenes for me was when the cavalry gets called in and two US jets firebomb a horde of murderous rebels. It wasn’t because of the pyrotechnics, or the bodies flying up in the air, or the feeling of “you fuckers got what you deserve”. After seeing a band of ethnic cleansing rebels raze a village, rape the women, kill the men and children, we realise the huge power imbalance between those with small arms and those without. The way the vulnerability of the innocent are “exploited” as they are exterminated is terrifying. Then we see a similar power imbalance as the jets fire their rockets and in one fell swoop kill a few hundred soldiers. The first world and the third world are two extraordinarily different places. The former wields an enormous amount of power, and it is scary to think about what could happen, or does happen, if used irresponsibly.

Let’s not kid anyone. This movie is not enough to galvanise very many people into doing anything about it. It’s still too remote, too distant. Hopefully, what the movie does is make people think about it, to imagine what it would be like to live in a world that is otherwise unimaginable. That would already be a good start.

Highly recommended.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Walked into this movie blind because Identity had sold out just as we got to the counter, no thanks to the couple in front who couldn’t decide what movie they wanted to see. It’s a lesser known flick with an A-list cast (Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, George Clooney and Julia Roberts), basically a biography about Chuck Barris. Too lazy to write a review, so read what others had to say. I’m in general agreement.

Malibu’s Most Wanted

This is one of those movies you watch on TV because you have nothing else to do, and when it finishes you wonder if your two hours would have been better spent doing nothing at all. It has a bit of charm, I’ll admit, but it grates after a while.

18
Jul 03
Fri

Terminator 3

I think that most people went into this film with low expectations, especially after seeing the trailer. I mean, no one really conceived that the plot would be anything but contrived. It wasn’t. T3 was a really good film. It’s not predictable, it’s enjoyable, it never drags. Go see it.

13
Jul 03
Sun

Matrix Prediction

Probably the best prediction of the final Matrix instalment I’ve read yet. It contains a twist of the magnitude you’d expect. Of course, it could be wrong. {src: Fuzzy}

8
Jul 03
Tue

Charlie’s Angels 2

Feeling zany? It’s watchable. Feeling sane? Go see something else.

The Two Towers Extended Edition

The extended edition of TTT is slated for release on 18th November. It will have a little bit more than 40 minutes of extra footage, along with all the other bells, whistles and statuettes.

12
Jun 03
Thu

Movie Parodies

Speaking of Stifler… Sean William Scott makes an appearance in the MTV Movie award’s parody of Reloaded: Download (24MB).

Also, there’s Yoda’s MTV awards acceptance speech for Best Fight: Download (22MB).

Bulletproof Monk

I really like Stifler. Classify this one under, “stupid, but strangely likeable” :)

2 Fast 2 Furious

What can I say? Mindless, but entertaining, entertainment. If you like cars, I suppose it’s worth it. As expected, the carpark at Fox was filled with the sound of tyres screeching after that movie.

Old School

I really liked it actually. Different enough from the glut of comedy flicks going around lately to have some really genuine side-splitting laughing moments.

30
May 03
Fri

Neo’s Door

Doc sent me in a screen cap of Neo’s door in Zion:

Neo's Door in Matrix Reloaded

He also remarks: I have a screen cap of that door plate attached. (Not sure why the door looks like flesh…) I don’t know Braille, however a cursory look at the actual plate makes me think that the smaller stuff is indecipherable if it is Braille and the larger dots may be an L, S and I? http://www.brailleauthority.org/alpha.html.

Thanks Doc! Intriguing, but maybe not so interesting after all?

25
May 03
Sun

What the Merovingian Said in the Matrix

“Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d’enculé de ta mère.”

Babelfish says: Name of god of whore of bloody hell of filth of jerk of asshole of your mother. Of course, as we all learnt in Year 7 French, “merde” is not “filth” but “shit”.

20
May 03
Tue

Matrix Reloaded Review

The opinions from people coming out from Reloaded have been quite polarised. There are some people who love it, there are some people who think it’s a steaming load of dung. The primary gripe seems to be the slow pace of the movie during dialogue and the non-exciting lacklustre action scenes. The plot has been criticised as straight-forward and unimaginative. All valid criticisms, depending on what you got out of the movie. Also, if you haven’t seen the movie, there’s a trailer for Matrix: Revolutions after the credits.

Back in English classes in high school, we were always taught to analyse prose by splitting up the material into four attributes: plot, characters, themes and style. For me, the latter two aspects made the movie worth watching. I really enjoyed the action scenes – the Matrix has defined its own style of action, an amalgam of bullet time, Asian-influenced martial arts, sweeping camera angles and visual pyrotechnics all while wearing a trenchcoat. The problem is, it seems, that people have become desensitised to special effects. CGI is now at the point where anything the mind can conceive can be transferred onto the big screen. Because, if you ask the question – what could Reloaded have done better with regards to its action scenes – and the answer is quite honestly, not much. 100 replica actors on screen, actors trained in Kung Fu and the use of an array of mediaeval weaponry, wire acrobatics, guns, a car chase scene with a motorbike, explosions, it goes on and on. So. What more is there? Where to from here?

Of course, action doesn’t leave much to be discussed after a movie besides the obligatory, “Wow, did you see when X happened?! Unreal!” Which is why I think the Wachowski brothers (who are apparently very well read) decided to intersperse the explosions with a series of interminable and confusing conversations that critics have dismissed as a superficial discussion of philosophy, watered down for plebs. I think that is being too dismissive. Half the film was chatter about an array of philosophically-grounded words, thrown up seemingly randomly in the air, causing the audience to instantly tune out. However, I think the unorthodoxy of such cerebral dialog in a guaranteed blockbuster points to an intention by the Wachowski brothers to not produce another mindless action flick, and to try and stimulate the audience into discussing movie themes, in addition to movie plots. In my opinion, the Wachowskis have done a brilliant job with the philosophy. If you’re not interested, that’s cool – not everyone wants to have to think on a Friday night out – and you can stop reading here. Otherwise, it’s time for my analysis. I may or may not be reading too much into this movie, but discussions about a movie don’t have to be restricted to just the movie. I have seen the movie twice. Beware – Spoilers Ahead!

Whilst the philosophical theme in the first Matrix was all about what is reality, the themes in Reloaded were a lot less clear. Many terms were thrown up: control, choice, reason, purpose, destiny and so on. Let’s look at each of the conversations in turn (comments always welcome of course!) and stimulate “the only muscle that counts”.

Neo and the Councilor: Brief discussion of “what is control”? It’s not as clear cut as you would think. Control is sometimes an illusion, whereas interdependence may be often closer to reality.

Neo and the Oracle: This one is juicy. When Neo takes the candy, he accuses the Oracle that she already knows what he’s going to do, an accusation she accepts. Neo retorts, what choice does he have, if she already knows what he’s going to do. She replies that he has already made the choice, and that he’s not there to find out about his future choices, but to find out the reason behind making those future choices. Neo is confused. Neo reasons that if all his choices are already made (pre-determined), then why can’t he see into the future himself? The Oracle again replies that it is because he lacks an understanding of the reasons, that he cannot see into the future.

An interesting idea is developed here. It looks at the concept of destiny/fate and then decrees that choice is irrelevant. The idea is that it is the reasons and motivations that ultimately govern the choice you are going to make. In order to see the future (ie: the choice you are going to make), you have to understand the reasons behind the choice. That is, Neo can’t see the future because he doesn’t understand the reasons. The choice is “already made”, or more accurately, the choice is irrelevant and illusory. It’s a subtle but significant distinction.

Let’s analogise. You buy a magazine at a newagency and walk up to the counter. At this point let’s say you have two “choices”, whether to pay for it, or nick off without paying for it. We would be able to predict what you would do, given your motives. If you were an ordinary person, you’d pay for the magazine – you don’t really have a choice in the matter. Whereas, if you were a kleptomaniac, you’d nick off because the reason for that is that you have an uncontrollable psychological disorder. Hence, if we understand the motives behind a person walking up to the counter, we can predict what choice he is going to make when he comes to make it. In this way we can plan ahead in life by projecting scenarios and making hypothetical decisions based on our internal reasoning. Know the reasons, know the choice.

What use is this though? Predicting reasons is often as difficult as predicting choice. To this, we turn to the Merovingian.

Neo and the Merovingian: The Merovingian rattles off a spiel about causality and how it governs absolutely everything (chain of causality). There is no effect without cause.

Slotting this back into the “choice” ideas above, we can see that choice is no longer a “cause”, for the effects flowing from the choice are not actually initiated by that choice. They are initiated by the reasoning behind the choice. In effect, reason becomes the cause, and choice an effect of reason (and all the subsequent consequences flowing from that).

That still doesn’t really help poor Neo understand why understanding reason is the key, as opposed to understanding choice.

Neo and Agent Smith: Agent Smith gets freed, turns into a virus, and before he attacks Neo, he states that “purpose” is the only thing that matters. Purpose drives, binds, defines and so on.

How can we understand reason then? Following the reasoning of Agent Smith, we are who we are. Purpose drives us in life, and it is our purpose that defines our motivations and reasoning process and thus our choices. The Keymaker also stated this – when he dies he said “it was meant to be” because he was who he was. In the movie, many characters have purposes, whether they are conscious of it or not. Neo, for example, is The One, and his very being determines his life path. So, purpose defines reasons which define choices.

So from this bit of philosophical trickery, we can reason that fate and destiny is entirely pre-determined by who we are. We don’t really have a “choice” over what we do, it is determined by our purpose – something inherently ingrained into our being. I say trickery, because it doesn’t really prove anything. Whether fate or destiny is predetermined or not is really quite irrelevant. The distinction is debated because people like to feel in control (compare with Neo’s comments about fate and “being in control” in the first Matrix). People don’t like the idea that their path is laid out, their choices already made for them. However, all the ideas above dispense with the very concept of “choice”. Choice is illusory, therefore, fate is predetermined.

(Also compare with the first Matrix movie where Rhineheart (Neo’s boss) says to Neo, “The time has come to make a choice, Mr. Anderson. Either you choose to be at your desk on time from this day forth, or you choose to find yourself another job.” Does Neo really have a choice in that matter?)

Neo and The Architect: Less about philosophy, more about plot. This guy’s speech sounded like a textbook with all its big words and gratuitous use of “ergo” instead of “therefore”. Basically he said that the Matrix is a computer simulation that has undergone several versions. The first version failed, despite the Architect creating a “perfect world”. The second version failed, despite the Architect creating a world defined by misery and suffering. He couldn’t figure out why humans kept rejecting the simulation, but the Oracle did. She discovered that human minds rejected a simulation in which they didn’t have choice – even if that choice was merely at a subconscious level, or even merely illusory. The current version of the Matrix therefore gave a measure of “free will” to its inhabitants. However, this only worked on 99% of people. The 1% of people rejecting the simulation (presumably due to them discovering they really didn’t have “choice”) went to Zion. Once this errant population builds to a critical mass (quarter million humans), the machines start to get worried and reset the Matrix (something which has happened five times in the past). Neo is supposedly the “reset button”, whose actions will bring one of these cycles to an end. If he refuses to do so, the Matrix will crash as humans mass reject the simulation, or something like that.

Neo is given a “choice”, which is influenced by his inbuilt affinity for mankind (but especially Trinity), which makes his actions predictable. However, we don’t know how much of what the Architect is saying is bullshit, or who to trust, or whether the “real world” is not just another simulation, or why Neo suddenly has super powers in the “real world”. We’ll find out in six months I guess.

OTHER NOTES
- Niobe: Mythological queen of Thebes who had her 14 children killed when she contested Diana.
- Persephone: Wife of Hades. Returns to Earth every year and brings about Spring. Implies renewal – symbolising a new cycle of the Matrix?
- Merovingian: The Merovingians were a dynasty of Frankish kings (5-8th Century).
- Seraph: The first in the order of angels. The Asian dude who protects the Oracle.
- See also this page.
- A “keymaker” or “key generator” in the computer world is a program that is used to bypass security features on software (eg: disabling shareware nag screens or usage time limits)
- Trinity’s hack into the power plant’s Unix server is as legit as you’ll find in the movies. See this Register article.
- Backdoors, same as in computers
- Lots of religious references: Offerings to Neo (and how one woman says to him something about “Jacob on the Moses”), addressing the masses of Zion, etc
- A lot of people think it’s stupid how Neo restarted Trinity’s heart. But it sorta fits in well. In the first movie, he comes back from the dead. In Reloaded, he resurrects someone else. Now what does that sound like?
- Morpheus’ faith in the prophecy under adversity is interesting. What happens when faith is confronted by something incontrovertible that shatters is? Do the truly faithful keep on believing? Can something that shatters faith be incontrovertible?
- There’s a tribute to Brandon Lee and Gloria Foster. When Agent Smith is walking towards Neo after the Oracle meeting, he walks through a flock of crows which fly towards the camera, just like Brandon Lee in The Crow. Incidentally, Brandon Lee died before filming of The Crow finished (accidentally shot). Similarly, the actress who played the Oracle, Gloria Foster, died before the Matrix: Revolutions completed filming.
- When the Nebuchadnezzar goes down, Morpheus says “I have dreamed a dream. But now that dream is gone from me.” Compare with Daniel 2:3 (King James Bible), “I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.”
- There are a lot of black people in Zion (they dance better?). There are quite a lot of Asians in the movie too.

Update: This page is linked in the comments, but it’s very good, so I’ll repeat it here — http://www.corporatemofo.com/stories/051803matrix.htm. It excellently and astutely links mythology and religion with the movie and has some great insights.

QUESTIONS
- What does the plaque on Neo’s Zion apartment say? It looks like it’s in braille.
- What exactly does the Merovingian say when he swears?
- Surely there are many more tributes to other movies in Reloaded. What are they?
- Ditto for foreshadowing statements and external references.

18
May 03
Sun

Matrix 2

Matrix 2. Is great. Orgasmic cake. (Proper geeky analysis of the movie to come when I have more time.)

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10
May 03
Sat

Matrix Reloaded

This week! Can’t wait! They showed the first one tonight, caught some of it and now I’m all hyped up again. Here’s some Matrix symbolism trivia.

30
Apr 03
Wed

X-Men 2

Haven’t seen a movie in a while, but this one was a good one. Better than the first, and they’ve introduced even more characters.

21
Mar 03
Fri

Daredevil

Pretty good action movie! Just as a sidenote, I always marvel (pun unintended) at how, although comics often regarded as a pulp fiction medium associated with juveniles, there is an opinionated social commentary underlying some of them that is easy to overlook. (There are a lot of forms of media that suffer from this type of generalisation, actually.) Of course you should just sit back and enjoy the damn movie instead of picking it apart like some high school assignment, but it’s something to bear in mind.

9
Feb 03
Sun

Chicago

As a musical, Chicago is perhaps not as memorable as other more famous musicals in both plot and songs. As a movie, the choreography and cinematography make this film rollicking fun. Creative camera work keep the visuals interesting, mixing music and narrative nicely. This exchange I heard after the movie sums it up well (and almost word for word the same as what I said to Soph):

Guy: “What’d you think?”
Girl: “I thought it was a really really good movie!! You?”
Guy: “Yeah um… It was alright.”

The Quiet American

Competent film in the years before the Vietnam war, when French colonialists were trying to deal with the communist problem in the north. Better than Trek.

27
Jan 03
Mon

8 Mile

Eminem can act. Well, not that he has do very much to get into character. Instead of a rich white rapper, he plays a … poor white rapper. But hey – I’ve seen worse when it comes to singers trying to act. Not a bad film, a little bit of an insight into the rap underculture, although I have no idea if it’s accurate or not. But if people can rattle off rap rhymes off the top of their head like that, that’s really amazing. They are no Donne’s rhyming couplets, but they are still pretty damn sharp.

16
Jan 03
Thu

Bowling for Columbine

If you see no other movie this year, make it this one. Honestly, this movie-length documentary is nothing short of exceptional. It is not quite a mainstream movie (and very unfortunately so – the movie was screening in Cinema Paris at Fox Studios), perhaps seeming a little strange, directed by a fringe wacko. I can assure you that Michael Moore is anything but a wacko, but one of the many things this film reveals is just who the real wackos in the world are. Really brilliant stuff. Unequivocally highly recommended. Bowling for Columbine website, check out the trailer.

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27
Dec 02
Fri

The Two Towers

I saw a midnight filming of TTT on the 21st in Singapore (it screens there a week earlier than in Sydney). It’s incredible, and a portent of the things we will witness in Return of the King. I have virtually no gripes about the movie. Admitedly, it deviates from the book somewhat in what it focuses on, but that’s what we want to see in a good fantasy flick, isn’t it? Widespread battle and warfare, arrows and swords (though not as many arrows as in Hero!). No magic from Gandalf, interestingly enough, despite what we see in the PS2 game. The so-called Eowyn-Aragorn-Arwen love triangle only has a brief feature, to the extent that there isn’t one. I think Eowyn knows she doesn’t have a chance. I guess she’ll “just” have to be content with the King of Rohan, eh?

Anyway, you don’t need to know anymore than the fact that you should: 1. Read the book (you’re really missing out otherwise as the movie doesn’t explain everything that’s going on – trust me on that), and; 2. Watch the movie. This movie deserves multiple viewings, which will be undertaken on return to Sydney. The Singaporean cinemas are pretty shit (we were at Lido).

26
Dec 02
Thu

One Hour Photo

Caught this film on the plane on the way to Singapore. Interesting, very interesting. It’s not really the film it seems like from the trailers (ie: a psycho stalker film).

15
Dec 02
Sun

Die Another Day

As the 20th Bond film, I thought Die Another Day was ok. It just felt a little disjoint, and with 007 being on the backfoot in a way I’m not used to. Otherwise, it’s got everything else you’d expect, including the return of that wonderful Aston Martin. Go watch it, it’s James Bond!

11
Dec 02
Wed

Parts of Star Wars

Parts of Star Wars: “Our ultimate goal for this site is to develop an in depth database of the original parts used in the construction of the props from the entirety of the Star Wars saga.” Quite comprehensive and somewhat interesting.

8
Dec 02
Sun

Changing Lanes

I liked this movie. It doesn’t seem to have been overly publicised, but its the tale of two New York men from different ends of the social spectrum, unescapably spiralling down and down – Shakespearean tragedy style – in what is an incredibly crap day for them both. One is an alcoholic black man (Samuel L. Jackson), desparately trying to prevent his ex-wife from moving interstate so he can still see the kids, who are in the custody of her. The other is a high-flying 29 year old lawyer (Ben Affleck) who has just been made a partner in a Wall Street firm. They cross paths and through a series of rash decisions, continually blinded by retaliatory anger, turn each other’s days to shit.

The film gives us a large dollop of cynicism tinged with an optimistic ending. I particularly loved the scenes where Affleck is interviewing the law students, and what was said during the interviews. For high-flying careers – what motivation truly drives people, and can the idealistic survive the world with their ideals intact? Or does “walking the edge” really necessitate a corruption of them, that a little bit of harm is ok, as long as it is counterbalanced by good? Highly recommended.

30
Nov 02
Sat

The Guru

Going into this movie, I was expecting a pretty trashy comedy, but to my surprise it was actually quite decent. Those Indians sure know how to take the piss out of themselves! Yep, Bollywood is all singing and dancing ;)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Not bad. I was watching this movie with Dorian, and having recently attended his 21st, can fully understand the Big Greek Family gathering phenomenon… but not as much as he related to a jingoistic Greek father :). A sound comedy, but nothing that threatened me with suffocation from laughter.

13
Nov 02
Wed

K-19: The Widowmaker

Although somewhat slow moving at times, this movie is based on real life events, and this fact helps to maintain interest. It’s quite a fascinating look, showing the heroics of a Russian crew in a justifiably positive light, in a time when the west said Communism was Bad. As a sidenote, K-19 continued in service after being towed back to port and repaired. However, it was subsequently nicknamed “Hiroshima” after it collided with a US vessel in 1969, had a fire and nuclear torpedo accident in 1972, and a reactor accident following that.

The Transporter

Switch your mind off, sit back, and enjoy this movie as it drops you straight into a well done car chase. This movie is your classic suspend-your-disbelief-for-two-hours flick. Guns, girls, cars, fighting… it’s all there. If you’re looking for something deep and meaningful, this isn’t your movie.

28
Oct 02
Mon

The Nugget

I saw The Nugget a couple weeks ago. It’s a typical Aussie flick, with the same wry, grainy humour unique to the Aussie Way familiar from The Castle and The Dish (and with a similarly creative movie title). Unfortunately, while it is amusing, it’s let down by a lacklustre plot and no genuine piss-your-pants-laughing moments. It’s the flavour of humour that us Aussies run into each day, constantly taking the piss out of each other. So, a valid substitute for this movie is to spend a couple hours drinking with mates, cos the laughs you’ll get from both experiences will be from the same type of humour. One of the weaker Aussie flicks, or perhaps the formula is starting to wear thin?

13
Oct 02
Sun

Road to Perdition

Road to Perdition is a slow moving movie, but it is a good one. Set in the 1930s in the underworld of the Irish Mafia, Tom Hanks puts in another very competent performance as father of a boy who witnesses a mafia killing. Good movie if you’re in the right mood.

2
Oct 02
Wed

The Bourne Identity

Fairly decent. Kept my interest up throughout the film. I loved the shots through all the European cities (the cast must’ve had a ball!), most of which I’d visited a couple years ago. When Bourne is surveying the bridge for Conklin in Paris from atop a building, I think that building’s the Samaritaine department store?

23
Sep 02
Mon

Austin Powers 3: Goldmember

It’s rare that you find a sequel, let alone a third movie in a series, that’s decent these days. In this respect, Goldmember is doing well. Recommended, the jokes aren’t all old and tired, and even though you’ve probably seen the “MOLE!!” scene in the trailers many times, it’s amazing in that it’ll make you crack up laughing when you see it again in the actual movie.

3
Sep 02
Tue

The Sum of All Fears

Someone sets off a nuke in Baltimore and the world goes to the brink of nuclear war. It’s a charged political thriller. Not bad. The scenes where the carrier gets taken out, and when the nuke goes off look pretty cool too.

18
Aug 02
Sun

About A Boy

Not a typical romantic comedy, but a typical Hugh Grant English romantic comedy. Except that it’s not really about romance either. Pretty witty and charming. Btw, “no man is an island” is part of John Donne’s meditations – the famous “For whom the bell tolls” passage. I bet you a lot of people came out thinking it really was Bon Jovi’s line :)

Signs

Another M. Night Shyamalan movie. I liked it. It’s like Independence Day, but from the perspective of a widower’s family in the American country (and probably the only redneck American family without a gun). There’s a sense of detachment and distance from the action of the world stage, away from the blazing Vulcan cannons of Will Smith’s jet and the amazing virus of Jeff Goldblum. It took me a while to realise that the aliens have come. That they really have come, because we only find this out from the news footage on the tv and radio, and Mel Gibson insists that the family be Amish for half of the movie. Yet despite this detachment, when the aliens land on the doorstep of these country folk, the suspense and action is every bit as gripping as the explosions in ID – you gotta admit ID was fun, albeit ludicrous. It’s a different perspective of aliens invading. Perhaps not the first of its kind, but of its kind there are few. Shyamalan’s trademark seems to be (apart from his fascination with the alien or the supernatural) playing cameos in his films.

12
Aug 02
Mon

LOTR

The DVD for Fellowship of the Ring was released recently. However, a four-disc “Platinum” set will be released in November/December this year. I’ll wait for that one… And also, an oldie, but a goodie – the diaries of the fellowship.

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14
Jul 02
Sun

Bend It Like Beckham

With the prodigious amount of movies Bollywood releases, you’d expect Indians to be fairly good at directing movies. Bend It is a simple tale, wonderfully constructed and quite hilarious. It’s about cultures conflicting as a English-born Indian girl in her A-levels year attempts to join a soccer team, much to the dismay of her mother who is more interested in educating her in chapati-making than kicking a ball around. Incidentally, this movie probably could have been used for the Crossing Boundaries topic area as well (see post below). See it with a curry friend who understands Hindi, for best effect (just like seeing The Wog Boy with a Greek).

10
Jul 02
Wed

Men In Black 2

About the same as the first one, entertaining stuff.

4
Jul 02
Thu

Minority Report

Movies like Minority Report have all sorts of symbolism in it. Obviously the names given to the three pre-cogs (Agatha, Arthur and Dash) had some significance, but I didn’t give it much thought at the time. On the bus today though, I had a bit of a think and I came up with Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dashielle Hammett – three crime fiction writers from three different eras. And when I got home I checked and most of the Net seems to be in agreement, so that was cool. Good trivia :) But it’s appropriate, because MR is more a crime movie set in the future, than sci-fi movie about crime.

MR’s pretty cool. Any movie that screws around with time is going to get burnt, so expect there to be plot holes and suspend disbelief. The technology in that movie is not that far fetched for the most part, the human-computer interface that makes Tom look like he’s conducting an orchestra (we’ve got these today), newspapers that change (electronic ink, wireless connection), biometrics (ethically, society will not accept this anytime soon!), etc. Of course some things are too far fetched, like the spiders, those genetically engineered plants, plugging into the brain on a whim and so on. Recommended.

28
Jun 02
Fri

Metropolis

Metropolis is an anime flick currently playing at Dendy Martin Place. I am not a huge follower of anime, but I’ve seen enough of it to be familiar with the Japanese style. To Western eyes, it’s strange. A mishmash of styles, both Western and Eastern reverberate throughout the film, from architecture to music. The portrayal of the futuristic city of Metropolis is offset by the Art Deco buildings crouched under the towering techno Ziggurat. Ziggurat is, of course, the ancient Akkadian term for for a tower, of which the Tower of Babylon was one. Probably the strangest moment in the movie, but something so disctinctly Japanese was during the apocalyptical climax – a gigantic explosion is replaced, cut out instead by Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You”. There’s actually a lot of jazz in that movie, intermixed with more traditional sounding anime music. Was an enjoyable movie, but it’s a surreal world those tormented Japanese minds (could they be anything else?) concoct. Tormented, and a lot of issues with self-identity. Perhaps this reflects on national identity as well. When developing countries develop, they tend to Westernised. However, arguably Japan is more modernised in the technological sense than any other country in the world, yet its culture has still stood strong (from my armchair amateur’s point of view). You get Japanese youth walking around with crazy hairstyles and girls trying to look white, but these same people bow and appear subservient in the Japanese way. I dunno, this is all speculation on my part, could be totally off the track. But yeah, the movie was a good change from the blockbusters.

27
Jun 02
Thu

Charlotte Gray

If you like wartime flicks, this is probably for you. Solid movie, but nothing for me that stood out.

19
Jun 02
Wed

The Mothman Prophecies

This movie just didn’t do it for me. It’s more suited to be one of those discovery channel documentaries than a Hollywood movie. That’s the risk you take, I suppose, when you use a real-world unsolved mystery as a plot vehicle. I can’t recommend it.

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18
Jun 02
Tue

Spiderman

Yep, go see it. Great casting, great camerawork, great adaptation. If you read the comic books, all the better.

19
May 02
Sun

Star Wars AOTC

I actually have a lot more to say on AOTC, but I thought I’d better wait until a few more people had seen it first. I, uh, went and saw it three times (but I only had to pay for it once :), partially because I wanted to see the film again, and partially because I wanted to observe the people seeing the film. If you want a glut of blogging reviews on AOTC, go here. But more will come later…

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15
May 02
Wed

Star Wars Episode 2

Simply awesome. Go see it. Go Yoda! :)

14
May 02
Tue

Star Wars

Watching the Star Wars premiere tonight, midnight session. Should be spectacular. I hope so… at least the vibes coming back from elsewhere has been good.

12
May 02
Sun

John Q

OK, so maybe Denzel Washington wasn’t the right choice for the Oscars, but there’s no denying he’s a talented actor. This movie is realistic (relatively speaking, compared to other Hollywood films), involving and intelligent. It’s a little derivative and formulaic, but I didn’t really care – I just let myself get sucked right into the thick of it. The only real thing I can criticise this movie for is for casting an overly negative light on doctors as being money hungry. Insurance companies, perhaps. However, doctors have one of the toughest jobs in society today, and they aren’t paid that well, in light of what they do (and add to this the cost of litigation and the insurance premiums they pay to prevent this). It is interesting that Australia is currently going through a medical insurance crisis, but on the other side of the fence.

Oh yeah, and John Q is guaranteed to make your girlfriend cry :). Recommended.

Collateral Damage

Disappointing. It’s got Arnie, but it’s still not good value for your ticket money.

We Were Soldiers

Very atmospheric, very poignant film which mixed up ground zero action with the slower, ponderous scenes quite effectively. The only thing is that the context of battles is jumbled – you see the titles flash up like “The River Bed” and “The Knoll”, without any idea of how the troops are moving and thus without a true appreciation of how the commanding officer strategises (a short overhead shot of the battlefield would’ve done the trick). A few cuts above Mel Gibson’s last big budget war flick, The Patriot. Recommended.

The Scorpion King

Mindless action flick with some surprisingly amusing one-liners thrown up by that horse thief guy. Hey, what do you expect from a film who’s protagonist’s name is The Rock?

The Time Machine

Pretty decent adaptation of the novel, up until Jeremy Irons appears on stage as the mind-reading force-using Morlock. The CGI time-lapse scenes were absolutely gorgeous. Once again, however, setting a date merely 30 years in the future as when mankind has the ability to fracture the moon is a little near by! Movie writers have a habit of casting future dates too close to the present.

7
Apr 02
Sun

Queen of the Damned

Should’ve picked Black Knight instead.

2
Apr 02
Tue

The Royal Tenenbaums

So we’re standing at Hoyts City looking up at the session time board. “Uh, I’ve seen most of everything here. And I’m not seeing that one. And I refuse to see that movie. Which leaves… um, I haven’t heard of any of what’s left.” Which basically left us with The Royal Tenenbaums. My friend was like, “What’s a Tenenbaum?” “I think it’s a surname…” “This better not be crap.”

The movie has a fairly big name cast, but it’s not exactly mainstream. It’s a quirky movie, a refreshing change from the stuff I’ve been watching lately. Probably only funny to those with a certain sense of humour. In a nutshell, it’s about a separated grandfather with the unlikely name of Royal (Gene Hackman), who fakes stomach cancer in order to win back his family. Heheh, I liked it.

1
Apr 02
Mon

Not Another Teen Movie

Not too bad. Some funny bits, nothing particularly brilliant about it though. Better than Scary Movie 2. How long until we see the next spoof-of-a-spoof-of-a-spoof “Not Another Not Another Teen Movie” though?

Ice Age

Cute and clever. Not as good as Shrek or Monsters Inc, but not a waste of money either.

10
Mar 02
Sun

Ali

This movie is long, drawn out, and you really need some inkling about Afro-american history in the 60s and 70s. Which I didn’t have. But I learnt some stuff from it. (Of course, the problem with this is that I have no idea what is historically accurate and what is not.) If you’re one of the majority of people that have no idea why Ali is revered such, other than the vague notion that he’s a “really good boxer”, this movie tells you why. If you come looking for action though, as the trailers make it out to be, this movie is not for you.

5
Mar 02
Tue

A Beautiful Mind

Yes, go and watch it. The way it portrays schizophrenia is very well done, and of course the life of a chemically unbalanced genius is always intriguing.

31
Jan 02
Thu

Riding in Cars with Boys (Open Air)

Went to the Open Air cinema last night at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Beautiful atmosphere with the opera house, coathanger, and lights of North Sydney forming a picturesque backdrop amidst a temperate Summer evening. The rain held off, luckily, and it was an enjoyable movie. The screen was huge, suspended over the water, and the sound system sounded pretty damn good for a non-enclosed space. At $17.60, it wasn’t priced too badly. The movie was better than I expected. (Hey, with Drew Barrymore could you blame me for going in with reservations?)

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27
Jan 02
Sun

Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back

Filled with in-jokes, you’ll probably want to watch at least one of Kevin Smith’s earlier movies (Clerks, Mall Rats, Chasing Amy, Dogma) before this one. Funny shit with a ton of cameos, including Mark Hamill as Cockknocker.

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17
Jan 02
Thu

The One

Well… a bit of mindless, fun entertainment.

19
Dec 01
Wed

Movies

Thirteen Ghosts was ok, but only because it didn’t take itself seriously.

Xiao Wu is a late night SBS flick (Shaf, I can’t believe I stayed up to watch it…) The film is gritty, some scenes seem to waste time, the production is amateur, the actors are non-professional and the story makes you do a lot of your own legwork to figure out what the director is getting at. Nonetheless, there is a certain charm to non-professionally produced films as the audience is always willing to give much more leeway in judgement. A quirky film to Western eyes, but it does work. The culture of a backwater town in a Northern province of China is quite foreign, but the messages are conveyed successfully. For example, there were certain scenes I wasn’t sure about – whether were intended to be humourous by the director or not, but due to a lack of contextual cues, I could only suspect that they were. This review does a good job of examining the movie.

People complain a lot about SBS movies (which screens predominantly foreign and art flicks) being weird. A lot of the time this is true – the movies are plain weird. All the other times, the films are only weird because they are made by foreigners living in a different culture, having a different perspective on life, familiar with different filming techniques, and ultimately portraying things differently to the way we are used to.

LOTR

So… Fellowship of the Rings is out in America. What did you yanks think of it? (It has a boxing day release in Australia.)

11
Dec 01
Tue

The Score

Skip it. That De Niro and Norton consented to being in a movie with such an awful plot is amazing.

9
Dec 01
Sun

American Pie 2

Virtually as good as the first one, which is unusual for a sequel. Go see, you’ll um… piss yourself… laughing. :)

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2
Dec 01
Sun

LOTR

If any movie deserves to whip Harry Potter, it should be LOTR. But unfortunately without all the revenue from young kids behind it, that most likely won’t happen. Still, reports about the movie are incredibly glowing. This is probably the only film this year that I’ve eagerly awaited, and I’m sure it will be as epic as is anticipated.

I’d have to agree with u LOTR has been the only real film I have been dying to watch since I heard they were making it last Christmas. But I think it won’t be as big because it would appeal to the older viewers than the 5-13 y/o that made most of the fans for HP.
- Botmaster

18
Nov 01
Sun

Looking for Alibrandi

Gee I wish Looking for Alibrandi was our English text for the HSC. I finally saw the movie on Foxtel tonight. High school never got that “exciting” for us, but everything depicted in that movie is something any Sydney high school student could relate to (especially Eastern suburbs private girls schools!). The locations the film are shot at are instantly recognisable to Sydneysiders. Being an Aussie production, it is typically frank in its delivery. No twenty-something year old Hollywood actors portraying 17/18 year old school kids. No schmaltz.

The movie itself is bristling with relatable themes – personal and cultural identity, relationships, school politics, you name it… The gf tells me I should read the novel (as usual, the novel is better than the movie), and I guess I should get around to doing that soon. Regardless, this movie is recommended.

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16
Nov 01
Fri

Training Day

Going into Training Day not knowing what to expect, I wasn’t sure which direction the movie was headed until halfway in. It’s an interesting look at cops and corruption, and there’s some excellent acting by Denzel Washington in it, acting out a type of character I’ve never seen him do before.

2
Nov 01
Fri

Zoolander

Comedy about dumb people can be really stupid (like the awful Dumb and Dumber). Anyhow, we handed in a 17,000 word group assignment today and decided to head into the city and catch a movie that would require zero brain activity. Which is funny, because the movie’s tagline is, “3% Body Fat. 1% Brain Activity.” Zoolander isn’t a bad flick. It’s one of those “you have to be in the mood” movies, and some of the gags are fairly decent. A nice touch is the truckload of cameos thrown into the movie.

26
Oct 01
Fri

The Man Who Sued God

You can’t really go wrong with an Australian movie at the cinemas. Aussie movies are all similar in style – wry humour, very character driven with an engaging storyline. More natural and unpolished than the stuff Hollywood churns out. Nothing too spectacular, but far from boring. A good choice when all the bigger movies have been watched. Billy Connoly plays a fisherman ex-lawyer who sues the church in an attempt to get at the insurance companies. The story is not as wacky as the title implies!

24
Oct 01
Wed

Kiss of the Dragon

Nothing like a pure action flick after a long day at work to destress. By the end, any semblance of a storyline has disintegrated, but that’s not what you’re there for. You’re there to watch Jet Li kick a lot of ass. Recommended.

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19
Oct 01
Fri

Scary Movie 2

It was ok. Not as good as the first, it almost seemed like they ran out of jokes to tell. Now I don’t mind a slew of crude jokes, but some of them just weren’t funny – too many jokes fell flat on their face. However, it was all balanced out by some side-splitting moments. Gratuitous? This movie certainly was.

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10
Aug 01
Fri

Planet of the Apes

Decent flick I guess. I haven’t seen the original, so I don’t know if it’s a good modernisation of a classic sci-fi movie or not! However, if you like sci-fi, this movie is not bad. Caught it at the Burwood Greater Union yesterday and we fortuitously spotted Nikki Webster (the girl who sang in the Olympics’ opening ceremony) there too – must’ve been doing a publicity shoot or something. Apparently she’s meant to be 15 or so, but she’s tiny and looks a lot younger…

1
Jul 01
Sun

Swordfish

Travolta finally ends his string of bad films. This is easily an “I will be getting the DVD of this when it comes out” movie. Ok, so they are throwing computer jargon around every-which-way and Hugh Jackman cracks 512-bit encryption in under 24 hours, but hey, chill out and just enjoy the movie ok?

26
Jun 01
Tue

Shrek

Cartoon for adults. Hillarious, irreverent, and witty! Anyhow, the main Bad Guy’s name is Lord Farquaad. The first time they said that I cracked up laughing, but no one else seemed to get the joke. So they’re saying Farquaad-this and Farquaad-that all through the movie and it’s still flying over peoples’ heads. (Don’t get it? Say it slowly. Farq. Quad. Don’t make me spell it out for you.)

2
May 01
Wed

Antitrust

Yep, definitely a geek’s film. Many people haven’t really heard of “open source” and most of them don’t understand the arguments for both sides. Nonetheless, it’s a bit of fun, and it opens up realistically with a good argument for the corporates (and closed source), while the open source side of the argument looks ultra-left wing :). Of course, it is a Hollywood movie and things start to get unrealistic from then on. Pringle-munching soft-drink-slurping IT “professionals” aside, I thought it was interesting to note that Nurv (obviously representing Microsoft) uses Unix. It’s a hacker movie, so they had to make it look hackerish and use a command line operating system. Even if the “evil fascist empire of MS” is all about GUIs and the CLI is more associated with open-sourced Linux. One more thing – if you look closely, Synapse is written in Java code… also notice that Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun, appears in the credits. Hmmm…

27
Apr 01
Fri

Memento

A good film that makes you think afterwards. It’s about a man who has lost the ability to create new memories after being hit a little too hard in the head. The head knock was given by the same criminal who raped and murdered his wife, and its been his goal to track down the killer and obtain vengeance. Won’t say too much more, but as you can see, the idea of a man who can’t remember things raises a lot of possibilities!

Interestingly, there are a few intentional contradictions in the film. Guy Pearce makes a little speech about “facts” being the only way to find things out and that memory is unreliable. Yet, during the whole movie he is relying on his long-term memory. The hunt for facts is all good, but if you don’t have a solid foundation to ground them on, it’s not going to work. This is pretty much shown at the end of the film. Then there is his assessment that he is pretty good at judging people. Of course, his skill fails him time and again throughout the movie.

9
Apr 01
Mon

Dude, Where’s My Car?

If you want to give your brain a break, see this movie. You really have to be in the right mood – drunk, goofy, or both – to enjoy it though.

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31
Mar 01
Sat

The Exorcist: Director’s Cut

Yeah entertaining I guess. Haven’t seen the original.

One of the pre-show trailers was for Antitrust. It was released in the States in January, but this is the first I’ve heard of it. Looks interesting (an IT buff’s film?) but I’m sure Hollywood’s glamourisation of the IT world will lead many geeks to condemn the show for its implausibilities and inaccuracies. Even with that in mind, I still reckon it’s a film I would enjoy and I intend to see it.

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1
Dec 00
Fri

Unbreakable

1 MNS MNS (1)&O: David Dunn, (1)&O: Mr Glass ….. 10.50

If you understand that notation, chances are, you will definately enjoy Unbreakable. Simply put, it is the equivalent of a comic book superhero “origin” story – how a superhero arises. I liked it, although many haven’t. Interesting filming angles, Shyamalan (who cameos as the drug dealer at the stadium) isn’t afraid to move the camera around. Probably not a movie for everyone, but keep in mind that there probably will be a sequel made.

[BTW, the notation above is that found in Wizard's comics price guide. 1 refers to it being the first issue. MNS/MNS usually refers to the comic's writer and artist (in this case, writer and director), (1) specifies "first appearance" and O stands for "origin". $10.50 is the movie ticket price :) I used to collect comics a few years back in high school, but that stopped when I ran out of money...]

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D&D: The Movie

Dungeons and Dragon Movie.

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24
Nov 00
Fri
17
Nov 00
Fri

The Cell

Wacked out (along the lines of Event Horizon and House on Haunted Hill but not as shocking). This film’s plot is actually understandable. A vaguely intriguing movie. See it if there’s nothing else on offer.

What Lies Beneath

Long, drawn out, and not terribly interesting. Save your money and see something else.

11
Nov 00
Sat

The Ninth Gate

A fairly slow, quiet and long movie very much like the archaic, dusty books the plot revolves around. The movie turned out to be quite intriguing and kept my interest levels up, with an ending that resolves just enough for us to be satisfied, while leaving the rest to imagination. Watch this film only if you’re in the same mood it is, otherwise you could find it too slow. (Review)

3
Nov 00
Fri

The Dish

Now this is a good flick you should definitely go and watch. Pretty good stuff for an Aussie production! (For Americans, I don’t know if it’s being released there though…)

28
Oct 00
Sat

Shaft

C’mon, you can’t tell me you didn’t enjoy this film… :)

14
Oct 00
Sat

The Emperor and The Assassin

Went to Dendy’s down at the Quay last night to catch this Chinese film. It was a highly engrossing historical film about the unification of the Chinese kingdoms by the (later) Qin dynasty around 221 b.c. More intriguing than usual as it is about Chinese history, and I am, of course, of Chinese descent but know very little about its history, cultural roots and heritage. Made for a welcome change from the usual Hollywood flick at Hoyts. A highly recommended watch.

What I also find interesting is that the film earned in Australia, an MA (15+ restricted) rating. In Singapore, known for its tight censorship laws, it got a PG (parental guidance) rating. It’s not hard to see why that would have been the case, given the (Asian) cultural aspects expressed in the film.

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Reindeer Games

Not a bad film if you’re after a bit of light entertainment. Throws in a triple twist to imitate originality.

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Gossip

Interesting film. Girls, gossip is evil. :)

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2
Sep 00
Sat

Scary Movie

Side-splittingly funny. It’s a must see :) They spoofed quite a large number of movies in it. Only Galaxy Quest has made me laugh harder this year. Another one for the DVD collection.

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26
Aug 00
Sat

Hollow Man

Incredible special effects, but in typical Hollywood fashion, not much else.

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Shanghai Noon

After being mentally scarred by the last English Jackie Chan movie I watched (Mr Nice Guy) I was slightly hesitant about seeing this one. It turned out to be okay. Corny, but entertaining nonetheless.

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14
Aug 00
Mon

American Psycho

Rated R for sex, not violence (in case you were afraid it was going to be too gory). That said, I still don’t really understand what the movie was about. I think it was something about the stress of a yuppy lifestyle causing non-cathartic psychotic delusions. I shit you not.

Hmm… just as an idle thought… last week’s movie, Chopper, could be alternatively titled Australian Psycho.

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5
Aug 00
Sat

Chopper

An Australian movie about an Australian criminal psycho. It’s freaky and funny, in a dark way. Don’t think it will make it out to the US.

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31
Jul 00
Mon

Next Friday

Hahahhaa. This film is funny as.

22
Jul 00
Sat

The Patriot

A good movie certainly worth watching, but not a classic. It lacked something because it just wasn’t as engaging or involving as either Braveheart or Gladiator, to which The Patriot is often compared to. Perhaps it was the predictability of some scenes, or awkwardness of scenes such as when Gibson is running with the flag.

16
Jul 00
Sun

X-Men

Saw this last Friday. Sure, no comic book ported to movie is going to be perfect, but this movie is definitely good. Watch it, and don’t be too nit-picky. The special effects and casting really do do it justice.

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Keeping the Faith

Just your regular light hearted romantic drama/comedy. Pretty enjoyable.

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12
Jul 00
Wed

The Skulls

With X-Men coming out tomorrow and The Patriot next week, there’s nothing much new in the cinemas. So we went to see The Skulls. Not that bad. Rather interesting actually. Watch it if there’s nothing else on and you’re itching to see a movie.

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6
Jul 00
Thu

Me, Myself & Irene

Just to fill in the time. Had some good bits :).

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4
Jul 00
Tue

Gone In 60 Seconds at Fox Hoyts

It was reading G’s enticing post on Shimmer Like A Girl that did it. Yesterday, we went to a La Premiere session of Gone In 60 Seconds at Hoyts Fox Studios. “La Premiere, the premier level in cinema entertainment, is the ultimate indulgence at an affordable price. Ticket holders can relax in an exclusive lounge with complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks and popcorn.” Of course, the affordable price means that people still piss all over the floor in those “exclusive lounge” toilets. Nonetheless, it was so different, and extravagant from the ordinary experience that I virtually felt guilty for going there in the first place.

There’s unlimited popcorn and drinks (fill up a few cups to take into the cinema!). The seats are about the best movie-seeing chairs I’ve sat in. The slouch-inducing bottom of the chair actually is sloped backwards meaning you can’t even sit up straight without effort. I could see myself falling asleep in them. There’s also plenty of legroom. As for the seating location, it was up at the back – not too far from the screen, though. We got a centre seat and as a result got great sound. The ticket on a Tuesday is cheaper, at around $18 (it was $16 pre-GST). If you ever get a chance, try it out. You’ll like it, I guarantee.

Gone In 60 Seconds was a fun movie. Mmm… those cars! (Unfortunately we never get to see those more exotic cars going at ridiculous speeds) Mmm… Angelina Jolie (unfortunately we don’t get to see much of her, either). There’s a relatively low level of action for most of the movie, with the main action scene appearing at the end. It doesn’t, however, get boring any place. Go see this movie for the cars, if nothing else.

13
Jun 00
Tue

Cinema Release Dates

No… they can’t be serious… Titan AE seems like it will not be in Australia till the 26th of December. Half a year after the US?! They’re showing trailers in the cinema for it now! Shanghai Noon comes out August 10? Hell… some of these Aussie film release dates are crazy.

10
Jun 00
Sat

Bats

Don’t waste your money. This movie sucks. Ridiculous.

Mission: Impossible 2

Action, entertainment, they are both there. A bit quiet sometimes (action could’ve been a bit more sustained in some places). The only gripe I really have is about the stereotypical Aussie they threw in who says “mate” every second word. The groan from the crowd was audible when that guy first appeared. Nice shots of Sydney harbour :)

30
May 00
Tue

Movieline

I’ve always wondered why no one uses Movieline to prebook tickets (so no standing in queues at the cinema… just rock up to the ATM and grab the tickets). So I called 13-FILM today and found out why. There’s a “booking fee” of $1.50 per-ticket. I’d rather wait in line, thank you very much.

14
May 00
Sun

Silly Me

As Johnathan and Charlie pointed out, Romeo Must Die is not directed by Joel Silver, it’s produced by him. RMD was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, and The Matrix by the Wachowski bros.

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13
May 00
Sat

Romeo Must Die

Gang movies involving Asian actors speaking English invariably end up, at best, as B-Grade movies (don’t even remind me of the shocking movie that was Mr Nice Guy). I can say that Romeo Must Die was an exception. When the director’s name (Joel Silver) flashed up in the opening credits, I was thinking, “gee he sounds familiar.” Indeed, he directed The Matrix and the influence from that movie comes through very strongly in the fight scenes. One thing though – remember Shlonglor’s comments about a lack of wide angle shots? That’s quite true. Small gripe, though. Watch this if you want to see a nice action flick on a Friday night and don’t mind hip-hop music :)

7
May 00
Sun

Gladiator

Entrancing battle scenes, stunningly realistic depictions of the ancient Roman empire (especially the streets of Rome and the German landscape) and credible performances from Russell Crowe and crew. There’s a few reasons why this movie made over $1 million in Australia over its opening weekend. See it on the big screen – it does the opening battle justice.

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3
May 00
Wed

Joy

George Lucas has finally bowed to fan pressure, regained his senses, and is going to release Star Wars on DVD! It won’t be out this year, however, but it will come out :). Discovered via Techno Weenie.

23
Apr 00
Sun

Mission To Mars

I wonder if there wasn’t some message in this to NASA and co. to stop screwing about and do something. Just about every human, sci-fi fan or not, has a certain fascination with space. I’m sure you’ve thought at length at one stage or another about this “final frontier”. Whilst some people have branded Mission To Mars as being too simplistic, I reckon it was quite effective in what it did. A sort of attempt to rekindle out imagination and interest in spacefaring. Public interest has always been there for this sort of thing, but I’m guessing no where as strong as, say, when Man set foot on the moon. The realistic special effects touched on such fascinating things as weightlessness, the vacuum and coldness of space, micrometeors and of course, artificial gravity caused by rotation. The date the film was set in was 2020, which I believe is realistic. The barrier as to when Man gets to Mars is certainly not technological, but economical and political.

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16
Apr 00
Sun

Galaxy Quest

When an Aussie cinema audience gives a rare round of applause at the end of (and throughout!) a movie, you know it’s a winner. This movie is an absolute classic! One of the best parodies since Spaceballs, it’s been a long time since I laughed so much and so hard at a movie. Galaxy Quest is a send up of Trek and the Trek culture. It’s chock full of Trekkie in-jokes, but that doesn’t reduce its enjoyability to non sci-fi fans. The movie is cleverly written and sustains the laughter right through. Even though it’s a parody movie, which are notorious for B Grade special effects, they’ve not spared any expense with the special effects and they look wonderful. This film is perfect for a night when you want something to make you laugh your ass off :). Just watch it – you’ll love it. Something to get on DVD.

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10
Apr 00
Mon

Magnolia

I’ve come to the conclusion that Magnolia is a semi-optimistic existentialist film. Only because that’s what I’m doing in one of my subjects at uni right now. (But hey, it’s true – Magnolia is quite existentialistic.)

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9
Apr 00
Sun

Magnolia

Although I couldn’t quite put a finger on what the points of this movie were, it managed to maintain my attention for the full three hours it ran for. Not an easy task. If there was a point to it all, it was incredibly elusive. Every time you think they are getting somewhere, they snatch the “somewhere” away and start again. True, it got annoying, but I still found some of the things in it interesting. Quite a cerebral movie, good for a quiet night out. And since I can’t offer a review of it because I still haven’t worked out for sure what it was about, just go to IMDB for a review. It’s a review I would agree with.

One thing I noticed. Both this movie and The Beach have both had narrators making some comment along the lines of “it’s something you always see in the movies” (and of course, we are fully conscious that we are watching a movie).

7
Apr 00
Fri

The Beach

I still don’t like DeCrapio. But, the film was good. Vaguely Lord of the Flies in that Paradise is not as clear cut as complete freedom, a warm and supposedly tight-knit community, a beautiful beach, and an unlimited supply of dope.

25
Mar 00
Sat

Scream 3

I haven’t seen 1 or 2, so I think I didn’t understand all of what happened. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable movie :) One that makes fun of itself and the horror genre (“head! head! head! head!” “what?” “aim for the head!”), and features a cameo appearance by the “prophets” in Dogma (you know who I’m talking about ;).

Also saw the second trailer for Mission Impossible 2. I must say again that it looks great (including a overhead shot of the opera house :).

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10
Mar 00
Fri

The 13th Warrior

This was like Braveheart, but not. I don’t know what gave me that feeling. 13th Warrior is ultimately a pointless movie. I never really connected with the characters (when the guy dies at the end, I didn’t even know he was that major a character) nor the plot – I couldn’t tell when the show was really climaxing. I couldn’t see the point that Antonio Banderas had to go along with the other 12 warriors. Maybe it was because the “Viking kingdom” they were trying to protect was a pissy little village (which may have been a kingdom, but I don’t know anything about Viking culture) instead of a kingdom in, let’s say, the medieval English sense. And what the hell are Zulus doing in the icy Northernlands? On the other hand, the movie had some really pictureresque scenery and, if accurate, gave a nice view into the Viking culture and lifestyle. However, a movie without good characterisation and a pointless plot is not really worth watching.

6
Mar 00
Mon

The Talented Mr Ripley

Paradoxical that we should fear him getting caught out, when he’s clearly in the wrong, and we should be wanting him to be caught. This movie is also sexually confused. My guess? Matt Damon played a bisexual character. An intriguingly woven crime film, albeit weird. Weird films seem to be in.

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28
Feb 00
Mon

Being John Malkovich

I must say this is one of the most original films I’ve seen yet. It’s a quirky movie (hmm I used that adjective on American Beauty too didn’t I?) based on the rather strange concept of people being John Malkovich. Literally. It’s pretty damn funny in certain parts as well. I’d recommend this film if you want to see something different, entertaining, and cerebral.

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25
Feb 00
Fri

American Beauty

A quirky movie that started off very strangely, compounded by the fact I went into this movie not knowing anything about it. I thought American Beauty was quite an exposing and probing movie, well written. It touches upon so many situations and emotions you can relate to. The types of which are nigh impossible to explain in words. All the director could do is attempt to portray them in such a way that the audience could connect with and relate to so as make them say, “Ah yes I know exactly what you’re trying to get at.” For example, I’m sure everyone at one stage or another has done something which has put them on a high (not the drug induced one! :). While Lester may have looked “pathetic” driving around singing to the radio after blackmailing his company, I could look past this and knew exactly how he was feeling. An interesting film with nice touches.

21
Feb 00
Mon

Dogma (once more)

Interesting that I didn’t seem to tread on anyone’s toes with that post on Dogma. All I got was one strange comment about it:

Mass genocide is one of the most physically exhausting task’s one could engage in….. next to soccer.

:)

grendel

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19
Feb 00
Sat

Dogma (again)

Ok maybe Dogma deserves a longer comment than, “funny shit”. It’s interesting the uproar this film caused with some Christians. I didn’t see the film as being anti-Christian, or offensive, either. For the record, I am Christian myself. One of the primary issues this film raised is how insitutionalised the Church and religion is. The film, after all, is called Dogma, and it does attack dogmatism amongst the religious – the unability to change views and beliefs, and the unwillingness to even re-evaluate things. The film cleverly put up some ideas that would be considered blasphemous (Alanis Morrisette as God? I think everyone would find that offensive :) which I reckon had the deliberate intention to provoke. The effect to some was immediate outcry against it. It provoked people alright – those, who due to belief and faith ingrained over decades of being Christian, condemned the film. These people aren’t necessarily bad people, it’s just the dogma coming through. As a corollary of this, the film attacks the idea of denominations (and not just Catholicism, which probably was singled out due to its long lineage and established traditions). I find the idea of so many splinters amongst a group of people who essentially have the same belief, troubling. The idea of denominations is a big turnoff for those who are thinking of become Christian. As a result of this, my idea is that you don’t have to belong to a denomination to be Christian. Faith is something you discover yourself – your interpretation of the Bible. You don’t have to believe everything your church leader preaches. Try figuring things out for yourself, and when you do, don’t impose those views upon others. I mean, the Protestants are a “faction” that broke away from the “mother church” of Catholicism because they had ideas that differed. That is, the original protestants had re-evaluated their faith instead of blindly prescribing to the Catholic one. They overcame dogma, in that respect. How things have changed.

Today, the idea of the Church ignoring the idea of a universe where Earth wasn’t at the centre is pretty ridiculous. How easy it is to look upon things in hindsight, yet be so blind (or at least inflexible) in looking at things right under our noses.

18
Feb 00
Fri

Dogma

“You mean, you’re part black?!” Funny shit :).

11
Feb 00
Fri

The House On Haunted Hill

Man, this movie is Fucked Up. The people that come up with this stuff are seriously twisted. House on Haunted Hill is basically The Haunting done correctly. It’s a shock movie, and shocking it is, especially when the theatre is shaking from the bass in time with your heart pounding. First movie I’ve seen with a scapel graphically slicing through a chest of a restrained, fully conscious person. That’s the opening scene. Probably the “best done” shock-horror movie I’ve seen, given the gratuitous nature of all of them. This movie is just as (if not more so), weird and graphic as Event Horizon. Anyway, if you’ve seen Stile’s site you should be fairly desensitised to it all. It’s “only” rated MA (I’d hate to see what warrants an R).

14
Jan 00
Fri

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo

Reasonably funny movie.

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12
Jan 00
Wed

End Of Days

Quite enjoyable, but not spectacular. One thing I did find interesting though, was an ad before the movie advertising a site called Hot Dockets. Seems like the perfect site for the miserly. You select your locality and they provide a list of dockets you can print out that entitle you to discounts at a variety of places. Exactly like the Shop-a-dockets you get at Coles and Woolies. And I don’t see any catch from the consumer’s viewpoint (asides from the enticement to buy something you otherwise wouldn’t have bought normally).

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17
Dec 99
Fri

The Bone Collector

Quite a good crime movie with an interesting twist. First time I’ve ever seen “remote-control forensics” :).

15
Dec 99
Wed

Movie Tickets

That $7 Greater Union movie ticket thing is still on (thanks to Fuzz yet again).

Blair Witch

Interesting concept. Not scary, not tense. If I was in the woods, like the actors, I’d be shitting myself, but that same tension and fear wasn’t passed to me. It’s like one of those experimental films you’d expect film school students to make. I guess I wasn’t totally disappointed though. Just because a movie has so much hype about it doesn’t mean it should be ripped to shreds because it didn’t live up to expectations. But the “upwards-nose-shot” where a torrent of mucas came tumbling out of Heather’s nose was one I could have done without.

6
Dec 99
Mon

Fight Club

Can someone explain to me what this movie was about? My feeble intellect couldn’t grasp all of the things film was trying to get at :). What I understood, though, I enjoyed.

5
Dec 99
Sun

30 Second Movie Reviews

The World is Not Enough, the new Bond flick was typical Bond… good entertainment, although this one was not the best of them. I think everyone reckons the person cast for ‘R’ (the new Q :) was as good as it gets.

Mickey Blue Eyes. I went into this film not knowing what it was about. Nice and enjoyable. Worth the ticket price though? Some absolutely hillarious scenes… “Ged oudda ere! Arhole…”

16
Nov 99
Tue

$7 Greater Union Tickets

Right here. Valid till end of November. Many thanks to Fuzz for that :)

1
Nov 99
Mon

DVD

My Matrix DVD came in from the States today :). Now I can watch and rewatch those “comic book” action scenes.

16
Oct 99
Sat

Sixth Sense

This was an interesting “horror” movie. To be more precise, it wasn’t a horror movie. It was a movie with horror/suspense elements. I was told that you understand it all after the movie. So there I am, watching, and until the last half hour, am happy I understand the majority of what’s going on. Then, there’s a particularly imaginative plot development that caught everyone by surprise. After the movie, conversation for it ensued. And it wasn’t just of the, “What’d you think?” “Oh, I thought it was good.” “Yeah me too. Let’s go eat.” variety either. I managed to tie up most of the weird stuff, except for a few things. Perhaps someone can explain these to me (Highlight. Don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen it):

• At the beginning, the mum walks back into the kitchen and all the drawers are open. I thought the kid had telekinetic powers, but that wasn’t the case. When Cole leaves, his hand leaves a condensation handprint. Does this mean the room was cold (signifying a ghost)?
• Cole gets injured by scratches. Where are they from?

Here’s what someone wrote on IMDB about it:

After hearing my friends talk about this film I knew I had to see it, and I did, but I wanted to see it by myself. This was not a good idea since I was the only one in the theatre which seated about 500 people. This movie terrified me, I had to get up and move to the back row so I knew nothing was behind me…. All in all a very good film, I just wish I could go back in my basement.

You’d have to pay me quite a bit to do that…

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2
Oct 99
Sat

Matrix 2

IGN tells of a (spoiler) movie scene of one of the action scenes from The Matrix 2.

Answering the question of what came first, the script or the effects, the W brothers are having Mannex work up some cool new super FX scene ideas before they write the script. That’s what we like about those boys, always thinking so we can just sit back and watch the movie.

Note I said spoiler, so don’t get all pissy at me if you don’t want it spoilt. Not a very big spoiler though.

30
Sep 99
Thu

The Haunting

Stay away from this movie. Neeson and Zeta-Jones it may have, but even that doesn’t save it. As the newspaper said, the most well acted line in the movie was when Neeson utters, “shit,” while dangling from a rickety spiral staircase.

25
Sep 99
Sat

Big Daddy

Better than any other of Adam Sandler’s movies I’ve seen. Less slapstick, but no less funny. Doesn’t seem to be anything better on at the cinemas right now. Wing Commander got released, but friends have been bagging the shit out of it. The SMH says that Wing Commander was “shot in Switzerland, but it should have been shot at dawn.” Sixth Sense should be coming soon.

19
Sep 99
Sun

“Pale Ale”

I’ll never look at a cup of beer in the same way again… Yeah American Pie was absolutely hillarious. Oh man I was laughing so hard through that movie…

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29
Aug 99
Sun

Movies!

Saw Go! and South Park (finally). I recommend Go – really funny in parts. It’s one of those films where they present various, loosely related “threads” (individually titled, too) and tie those threads together by the end (Pulp Fiction, Lock Stock, et al). Arlington Road is not your typical Hollywood movie. Perhaps this should be recommended to the more ardent supporters of conspiracy theories. You all know about South Park already.

I found out when Blair Witch is coming to Australia. Mid-December. Damn. :Þ

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8
Aug 99
Sun

Eyes Wide Shut

This movie was clearly an arty movie and I won’t pretend to understand it all. “Mainstream art” is what I’d call it. I sort of understood the sorts of issues it was bringing up, but I couldn’t get a grasp on exactly what. Very surreal movie that drifts along at its own pace (damn they talk so slow!). I guess I enjoyed the movie somewhat, but I’m a little too young, too inexperienced and too immature to truly appreciate this movie and the depth of issues it covered.

As a side note, I’ve never been asked to show ID for 18+ stuff. Not for entrance to casinos or clubs. Not for alcohol, and not for R movies. But I’ve been asked to show proof that I’m over 15. Go figure.

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23
Jul 99
Fri

Entrapment

Why do most people reckon this movie sucked? I thought it was all right. It’s not a full on action movie, so don’t go in expecting one. (Don’t you just love my one line “reviews”? :)

20
Jul 99
Tue

For the record

Saw that movie for the fifth time yesterday. It will be my last (in a cinema).

18
Jul 99
Sun

10 Things I Hate About You

Saw this a while back. I’d recommend it.

3
Jul 99
Sat

Guess…

Guess what movie I’m going to be seeing later today?

The Mummy

Why did some people think this movie sucked? I thought it was actually pretty good. One interesting thing (spoiler ahead)… you know how Imhothep (spelling?) plucked out that Yank’s eyeballs? Um – that Yank was blind as a bat. Imhothep got ultra-dodgy eyeballs… so how did he see? Then again, it’d look pretty damn stupid to see a mummy wearing glasses.

Trivia for Austin Powers 2 from IMDB

In the US, “shag” is far less offensive than in other English-speaking countries. Singapore briefly forced a title change to “The Spy Who Shioked Me.” (“Shioked” means “treated nicely.”). Aren’t you glad you live in a country which doesn’t censor so much (isn’t that right Senator Old-Fart-Harradine?).

29
Jun 99
Tue

Talk to the hand ’cause the face don’t wanna hear it

Saw Austin Powers today… nice $5 ticket at an independant cinema near the uni (= university = college for you yanks). Friggin cack that movie! “I’ll try and stand up!” <craaaaack!> “The bone is protruding through the skin!” Seeing The Mummy today. Spent way too much moola on movies this year.

16
Jun 99
Wed

Star Wars Fan Day

Kicks off in a couple days. If you haven’t heard about it, ye can read about it here. I really wonder how many people a net site can reach out to and if it’ll have any effect on ticket sales whatsoever. Also, got this amusing top ten list off the same site:

Top Ten Things To Do When Attending Fan Day ’99:

10) Recreate Battle of Endor by ambushing everyone waiting in line for “Trekkies”.
9) Find two ushers standing next to each other, and ask which one is the master, and which is the apprentice.
8) At the concession stand, attempt to buy popcorn using only the Old Jedi Mind Trick.
7) Wear a costume, then when you go to the window to buy tickets, take a long time to “decide what movie you’re going to see.”
6) When, talking you to theater staff, speak only, you do, as Yoda does.
5) Simulate 3-D effects by performing live recreation of final lightsaber duel… during the actual film.
4) Accept the fact that Sidious and Palpitine are the same person, for crying out loud!
3) Wonder why they didn’t cast a GOOD actor as the lead in a great science fiction epic… (Oh, sorry, that’s “The Matrix”)
2) Chant: She’s eighteen! She’s eighteen!! ;)
and the #1 thing to do when attending Star Wars Fan Day ’99: Read the opening scroll aloud!

13
Jun 99
Sun

Star Wars Stuff

CD Now is holding a CD sale of Star Wars CDs. All the good CDs conveniently on one page. I ordered some. Damn, international shipping is expensive.

I know you’re more interested in this site here, though. It features really, really, high res, high quality pics of Natalie Portman as Amidala/Padmé. High res meaning ~3000×2000 sizes. Very nice stuff. Nothing there that gives extra backing to Theseus’ theory on Simpleminded (post IDs 111 & 112) though. Then again I didn’t look too hard. Honest.

12
Jun 99
Sat

Star Wars

Seeing it a third time does not make me a freak. Really. Meanwhile I have been searching, in vain, for an original (40 inch) poster of TPM. Did I mention it had to be sanely priced?

Mr Nice Guy

This dethrones A Simple Plan as the worst movie I’ve seen this year. As good as Jackie Chan is with stunts, mixing him with rejected Australian actors attempting American accents is like the old adage of mixing a tonne of ice cream with a tonne of manure. You end up with two tonnes of manure. And I don’t find watching a two tonne turd very enjoyable.

4
Jun 99
Fri

The Phantom Menace

Saw it twice on Thursday and Friday. I don’t think anything more needs to be said other than, if you miss this film, you’ll end up regretting it a few years down the track. Yeah, so you can see it on video. You can also see it when the crowds dies down… but the atmosphere of a full-house, ultra-packed cinema is half the fun! The soundtrack sounds so much better when heard in context. Especially Duel of the Fates. I never realised this cos I’ve never heard a movie soundtrack before watching the movie. I’ll be looking at the Star Wars vs Titanic site in interest :) Screw the critics.

One more thing… apparently the film melted or the projector overheated in one of the premier screenings of TPM at one of the cinemas. The crowd left unrefunded, with half the movie unwatched. I pity the guy who had to go in and tell the crowd of the “technical difficulties”. It’s a wonder there wasn’t rioting.

2
Jun 99
Wed

Phantom Menace

Star Wars opens in Australia in ooooh… about 20 minutes. With a lot of freakish luck, I managed to get tickets from a friend five minutes ago for tomorrow :). Yeeeah.

29
May 99
Sat

The Matrix – Movie Script

Shish found me what must be a draft copy of the script for The Matrix. See here.

18
May 99
Tue

Milestones

• SW:TPM opens in the US real soon now (actually, should be happening around about now). Damn you Yanks. I gotta wait till June 3.
• Netanyahu defeated by Barak in Israeli election.

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14
May 99
Fri

Matrix

Yeah, well… I saw it again. Got me psyched for the computing assignment (not :). You really pick up a lot more stuff on second viewing. You know the part where Neo gets picked up under the bridge (after he gets “bugged” and before he gets “debugged”?)… I think I pass under that bridge everyday on the way to uni! Just outside Central station… looks like the same bridge, graffiti and all. I don’t think there are any other bridges like that in Sydney.

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25
Apr 99
Sun

The Matrix

Finally got around to seeing the Matrix, and yes it’s pretty damn awesome (surprise surprise, huh?). As long as you stay with the plot – if you didn’t, go watch it again – but for me eveything made sense. It was really interesting because I’ve been in many casual conversations about philosophical stuff and it’s the first time I’ve seen sci-fi-ish existentialism in a movie (no one exists in the created world, everything is part of a dream – or in the sci-fi version – you are living in a computer program, everything around is a set of code, and you can’t break out of this generated world). I reckon they mixed the action (check out the SFX!) with the philosophical stuff really well. I could talk for ages on it (but I won’t :). It’s the best movie I’ve seen this year.

(Of course, everyone has already got it tattooed into their heads that Star Wars will be the best movie this year. No one will admit it sucked even if they’re hung up by the balls. There’s prejudice for you.)

17
Apr 99
Sat

Something on the Soapbox

About my comments on the rating of Cruel Intentions and Varsity Blues. Varsity Blues had the implications of oral sex, followed by a neck cracking. And drug use (or whatever that stuff was they were trying to inject into the leg). It managed to slip by with an M. That’s got me confused. If anything they both should be MA, or even both M.

16
Apr 99
Fri

Cruel Intentions & Varsity Blues

It’s a chick flick, but not a chick’s flick. Gettit? Contrary to prior impressions, this film actually did have a satisfactory plot to carry the visuals through :). This film was entertaining, no doubt about that. Not shocking at all, actually. Nothing reeeeally revealing. Somehow I expected a lot more stuff from an MA movie. Hey, Varsity Blues was M and it had that 2 minute “sex education” scene :). In my opinion, the ratings should have been switched for both films. Varsity Blues was also quite enjoyable. Stereotypical, yes (black guy, hero guy, fat guy, dumb guy, girls etc.). Good to watch when everything else has been seen. And I still don’t know the definition of “Varsity”.

6
Apr 99
Tue

Wag The Dog

I finally watched it over the weekend, and it bears an uncanny resemblance to the influx of events over the past year (and not just the Presidential scandal). Hillarious movie as well :).

27
Mar 99
Sat

Analyse This

This movie was downright hillarious. While some movies show all the good bits in the trailer, Analyse This has plenty of gags still in store. I was watching it with a friend who happens to be Greek, so we were both pissing ourselves when the “Oedipus/Freud/Motherfucking scene” came. Sounds weird? Well regardless, it’s damn funny. A must see.

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13
Mar 99
Sat

Star Wars at The Box Office

I just had a small debate with a friend over whether Star Wars would exceed Titanic in revenue at the box office. It will be interesting to see what happens. Titantic had heaps of girls rewatch the movie about ten times to perve at Leonardo. However, everyone knows Star Wars, and I reckon 99% of people will watch it all over the world. But how many people will rewatch it? There’s a large fanatical Star Wars following composed of many people that would gladly rewatch it over and over, but is this base larger or more fanatical than the Titanic zealots? My money, and hopes, are on Star Wars to kick Titanic’s ass in revenue. Think about it, multitudes of people have sat at home for the past few decades, quite contentedly watching reruns of a 20 year old movie. Now, in their lifetime, there’s something NEW! Whatever happens, George Lucas will be raking it in.

12
Mar 99
Fri

Trailer 2

Out now (in case you’ve been living in a cardboard box for the last few days). www.starwars.com

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8
Mar 99
Mon

Film Director Dies

Stanley Kubrick, who directed films such as Full Metal Jacket, The Shining and Clockwork Orange died. Link to CNN. I’m sure you’ll find other E/N sites with more info if you’re interested (as soon as America wakes up :). I’m not altogether familiar with his films, but I’ve seen a few of them.

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28
Feb 99
Sun

Bulworth

Nice movie :). Not what I expected – not some lame ass stereotypical shot at Clinton and his escapades.

21
Feb 99
Sun

Wing Commander Movie

I know you’re going for the trailer, but you still might want to know something about the movie that comes after it. Read about it, then download the 10 Meg trailer (Quicktime .mov).

A Simple Plan

This film was the most unexciting I’ve seen this year. It’s like a heavily watered down Very Bad Things, without the humour. Like Very Bad Things, the film commences with a crime of sorts – three men find $4.4 million and decide to keep/steal it. From then on, it’s all about consequences and how their lives fall apart. Basically (and I don’t think this’ll spoil anything) almost everyone dies. A slow moving film, probably deep and meaningful, but Very Bad Things said the same thing while being all that more fun to watch.

18
Feb 99
Thu

Ronin

I can’t say I’d recommend this film to anyone, but that’s probably because this film was not meant for uncultured Philistines like myself. I couldn’t follow half of this movie. I spent most of my time trying to make out words that weren’t clearly enunciated due to the variety of Russian, French, Yankee, and Irish accents used. An interesting movie nonetheless. Gritty.

14
Feb 99
Sun

Rounders / Shakespeare In Love

Saw both there films last week. Rounders is all about gambling and the people whose lives revolve around it. Shakespeare in Love turned out better than I thought. It’s quite a witty comedy. Hmm, I also realise the last three movies I’ve seen have nude scenes in them, but that shouldn’t influence you to go see them :).

6
Feb 99
Sat

Very Bad Things

I quite liked this film. It’s a really, really black comedy. Some people might think it’s sick, crass and feel offended that it even attempts to create a comedy out of its subject matter (it’s rated MA for a reason). Anyway, Very Bad Things details how a group of friends’ lives fall apart after they do a “very bad thing.” At the protagonist’s bachelor party (sex, drugs, and rock feature here), his friend is busy humping a prostitute in the bathroom when he accidentally kills her mid-fuck (she gets impaled – in more than one way). Instead of reporting the matter to the police, they bury her in the desert. The thing is they have to get her out of the hotel in suitcases. I’ll leave it up to your imagination to work out how they manage to get a dead person into normal sized suitcases.

The argument scenes in the movie are very reminiscent of episodes of psychotic behaviour in my life (they should be familiar to everyone). Those scenes and the acting in them are quite realistic. Who would you be if you were in that situation? Nonetheless don’t go into this movie looking for a slapstick comedy – it’s quite shocking in bits. To change it from a comedy to a serious drama-type movie, you would only need to change the soundtrack. Quite grizzly in bits, but you should be desensitised to that sort of stuff already.

30
Jan 99
Sat

Urban Legend

Not a bad horror flick. There were these bunch of girls behind us that would scream at every little thing, and that made us jump more than the movie. One thing regarding the end (you’ll understand if you see it)… dead bodies never float face up in water – they always float face down. Nice touch by the writers, whether it was intentional or unintentional.

6
Jan 99
Wed

The Seige

Wow this movie really makes you think about terrorism and the fragility of democracy in the western world. No more than 15 terrorists bring New York into martial law and chaos. Good movie. It’s not an action movie, so don’t go to this looking for some typical Bruce Willis action. One more thing… Bruce Willis as a General? Nah. Doesn’t work.

Star Trek : Insurrection

[Warning - Semi-spoiler.] I regret to say that this movie was pretty crappy. While I must admit when I heard the plot was about a “fountain of youth” I was sceptical. However, the plot did hold potential (the interesting twist where the Baku and Son’a turned out to be the same race, and parallels with world politics today). As usual, it was poorly executed (Frake’s fault?).

The story just appeared too “loose”. The “encounter” between Troi and Riker turned out to be merely an excuse to explain the removal of the beard. Compromises throughout – by the Admiral and defecting Son’a – served to continually destroy any hope of creating tension. The action was detached, suspenseless, and culminated in a fight (I don’t know if you can even call it that) between two geriatrics. Battle scenes were also pretty crappy – they did a good job with the trailer, but in the movie all the flaws were exposed. I think the Enterprise only fired its weapons like twice in the whole movie. Even when they are high-tailing it into the nebula-cloud thing, and are being fired upon, no one thinks to fire aft torpedoes or aft phasers. The humour wasn’t too bad, but appeared to be tacked on and unconnected.

Once again, another Star Trek has produced a completely unmemorable music score. Why don’t they integrate that type of music that they play with the trailer into the movie? Get the heart-pumping a bit more. Bit of a disappointment this one. I hope, if they release a Star Trek X, it’ll be a helluva lot better. All in all – I don’t regret seeing this movie. But that’s just because I’m a die-hard Trekkie :).

28
Nov 98
Sat

Saving Private Ryan

I watched this film for the second time. You pick up quite a few missed details when you see a movie for the second time. Anyway, this has replaced Starship Troopers as the best movie I’ve seen this year. I won’t say too much else about the movie, except that during the first half hour of the movie – you won’t speak, or even eat – it’s that graphic and gripping.

When you watch it for the second time, you also have a chance to observe the difference in reactions of the audience. The first time I saw it at Hoyts at Broadway where the theatre was half full, and the second time at Greater Union in Liverpool (that complex is just awesome) in a totally packed cinema. In an answer to clapping after movies (see the entry I made a few days back), this was the first movie I watched where people clapped afterwards (albeit it was a half-hearted attempt – soft, and didn’t last very long). It’s also interesting to note the bits where people either gasp, and where people laugh in each of the viewings. The number of people in the cinema (half-full or completely filled) makes a big differences in the atmosphere.

I don’t think anyone got the joke where they are talking about Edith Piaf’s song. They are talking about why she sounds so sad and one guy says something along the lines of, “She’s sad because she’s lost her lover, but everywhere she goes, she sees his face.” The reply comes from a soldier standing in front of a backdrop of a totally ruined French town, “Yeah,” he says gazing out at the city, “that’d do it.” Now do you get it? No? Ah forget it… it’s not that funny :).

25
Nov 98
Wed

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

They said it’s just like Pulp Fiction, and it is. It’s one of those movies where its really confusing at the beginning, but it ties up all the loose ends by the conclusion (well, sorta – you’ll see if you see the movie). Quite an enjoyable film – even its soundtrack is reminiscent of Pulp Fiction. I’d recommend it.

22
Nov 98
Sun

Star Wars

What I’m most interested in is how they are going to make a story out of the prequels. I mean, Return of the Jedi ended the trilogy with a triumphant whooping of the Empire’s ass, but how is this trilogy going to end, or progress? Well I guess now we’ll know how it felt back in the 70s/80s when they were waiting for Return of the Jedi to come out after the Empire Strikes Back. This will definitely test George Lucas’ ability to weave a movie that will rival the original trilogy in terms of continuity, but also finality. Uh… yeah.

Quick Update

The Australian release date for SW1 is apparently May 29, 1999, one week after the US release. Sit tight :).

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21
Nov 98
Sat

Star Wars

Episode 1 : The Phantom Menace (does anyone else think this sounds a little cheesy?) now has a trailer available for download at http://countingdown.com/mirrorlist.htm – there are three versions (and about 20 to 30 mirrors of each version). There’s the official version (apparently they released the official version with a low sound volume, so there’s a fixed version with louder sound, and there’s the bootleg version, where it seems someone taped it in-cinema, so you can see the cheers of the crowd etc.). Lately, they seemed to have removed those two versions and stuck up an ET version link. Another thing, have you ever watched a movie where everyone has clapped at its conclusion? I’ve never heard of it happening in Australia (except for when they took that shot of Sydney in ID4), but it’s seems to happen in the US often enough.

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17
Nov 98
Tue

Movies

Saw a couple movies in the past week. Here’s a few quick synopses :

A Perfect Murder – Pretty good plot (few flaws, but anyway) I enjoyed it… but it would’ve been better to borrow it on video rather than see at the cinema :)

Antz – Behind the cute animations this is a distinctly pro-Commie movie. It smacks of socialist ideals and also warns of the vileness of Fascism. Confused? Well it’s a story about Ants, who are roughly divided into Worker and Soldier class, all strictly controlled by the Queen and the General Ant. [Warning - semi-spoiler here] It turns out that the General (General Mandible, he’s called) Ant has a distaste for the Worker class (he thinks they are lazy and so on), and wants to create a new colony based on the much stronger, apparently “better”, Soldier class. So General Mandible sets out to exterminate the Jew… er… Worker Ants. Now all they needed was the cry of “Heil Mandible!” and the parallels would have been complete. They do promote individuality, though (something not fitting with socialism) but I reckon this was just socialist propaganda :) hehe. Enough cynicism – the movie was enjoyable and the animation just awesome. Vocal characterisation was extremely well done, with lotsa big names doing the voices! However, just watch the movie and you won’t even have to search for the politics in it – they will jump straight out at you at the bit where the Workers attempt to stage a revolution, only to be swayed by Mandible’s propaganda. Hmmm now Z (the protagonist ant, played by Woody Allen) reminds me of Trotsky (except that Z returns to the colony :).

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28
Sep 98
Mon

Films

Saw the Truman show last Saturday – very good film (that’s the brief synopsis). I also saw a teaser for Star Trek IX : Insurrection and I must say it looks good :)

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23
Aug 98
Sun

Armageddon

First weekend of release. Saw it last night. Review here.

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20
Aug 98
Thu

Clerks

Also watched Clerks over at my friend’s … it’s pretty funny. Now I know where all those words are coming from :).

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18
Aug 98
Tue

Seinfeld and Armageddon

Final episode of Seinfeld tomorrow. Armageddon will also be released tomorrow. WHAT TIMING!!! Just finish the trials, and I’ve already got stuff to watch.

31
Jul 98
Fri

Added movie

To the Upcoming stuff section (Private Ryan).

28
Jun 98
Sun

Shine

Watched it again – it’s a really good movie and I recommend you watch it.

20
Jun 98
Sat

Saw Deep Impact

Review is up… boy was that queue long. Actually it was funny – the session before us came out and this guy was talking, and our portion of the queue overheard two words, which we can only assume were directly related to the movie. “Everyone dies.” I look around, and everyone is like looking at everyone else, before our little section of the queue cracks up. I dunno why. Trailers that came with this movie were Saving Private Ryan, Sliding Doors… um I think there was one more but I can’t remember it.

13
Jun 98
Sat

Deep Impact

Next Weekend…

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7
Jun 98
Sun

Godzilla Seen

Fun but really it was a crappy movie. I’ll put the review up on the movies page after. Before the movie there was this stand advertising Armageddon, with an electronic timer counting down the time. 24 Days left it says. A poster for Species 2 also pictured a 3-image hologram thing. I wonder what happens to the stand when it finishes the countdown though? The trailers seen were X-Files (not a preview – a short clip), and The Truman Show (I really want to see that now).

Godzilla

Going to see a 9.10pm session tonight. From what I’ve heard it’s crap. Verdict will be delivered late tonight or tomorrow.

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17
May 98
Sun

Deep Impact

I just saw an ad on tv for Deep Impact which should be coming any time now (which reminds me that I have to check out the release date at http://www.imdb.com/). There’s a shot of a massive tidal wave knocking over buildings. It looked really good, but sorta fake… but then again the shot only lasted for a split second, so I won’t know until I actually see the film (which I will :). I’m also looking forward to Godzilla and Armageddon. Yeah, all the big special effects ones. And, of course, the new Star Trek movie coming out, although that’ll be way at the end of the year.

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17
Apr 98
Fri

Lost in Space

Saw the movie today. Pretty good “family type” movie that certainly had me entertained for a couple of hours. I don’t know anything about the old 60s tv series, but this movie brought the “Robinson Family” up-to-date, and made it look like they were really living in the future. Great special effects – especially at the beginning. Problem is the speaker system wasn’t working properly at the screen we saw LIS at… it was surround sound for a while, then it conked out for some reason… This movie plays with time, and any movie that plays with time (à la Star Trek: Generations) is going to have many plot holes, and it also makes it confusing. And there wasn’t any time to unravel along the way… you had to hope someone would give us an explanation of what was going on. And the themes and morals are there as well. Morals? I mean the exploration of, not the upholding of…

[Will Robinson pops his head over the ridge of ahill, with Dr Smith following behind]
Will
: Oh shit.
Dr Smith: Boys [or was it kids??] of your intellect should never swear… oh shit.

Swearing is common. A 10 year old kid swearing on the big screen is not common… but funny :). 3.5 to 4.

10
Apr 98
Fri

Can you believe some of the freaks in the world?

From the Sydney Morning Herald of 10th April…

Greater Union challenged the Hoyts record for seeing Titanic — 103 times by David Gerada, of Merrylands, as of Tuesday. At the 30-screen Greater Union in Adelaide, a woman customer, who doesn’t want to be named, has seen it 112 times as of Wednesday, and has the stubs to prove it. She wants to see it 150 times. Fancy hearing My Heart Will Go On 150 times! Titanic shows eight times daily at the cinemas.

What idiots. Why??? 112 times = $1120 on seeing one damn movie. I haven’t seen it myself — I just don’t agree how they’re making a love story out of a friggin disaster where 1,200 people died. $1 billion plus in profit. If I do go and see it it’ll be for the special fx and the nudy scene ;). Which reminds me of a speech at the Oratory which came second. My friend Phil came up with a 6 minute speech totally bagging out Titanic. What a cack. Bloody funny. ICQ him at 825530 and I’m sure he’ll be glad to talk about it!

7
Feb 98
Sat

More on Deep Impact

deepimp.jpg (13393 bytes)I just visited the site. It seems that the poster at the cinemas was american, so its release seems to be in the Australian Winter. Oh yeah, and that really cool picture of the asteroid is on there too. I ripped it off the page and stuck a resized one to the right :)

Deep Impact

Walking out of the cinema I saw an advert for “Deep Impact”. It was a mad poster showing an asteroid (as opposed to a meteor) crashing into the earth. It’s got me interested. I love sci-fi. To be released in Summer 98, but is it this month or December 98? Visit www.deep-impact.com.

Starship Troopers

I saw this film last night. Highly enjoyable, highly recommended. Please please please keep in mind that this film has been written to be more than a pure action “blow-up-anything-with-more-than-two-legs” movie. I’ve heard this movie being criticised for being less “philosophical” than the book, but also for not being a brilliant action film (although the special effects are awesome). However, I think the director (Verhoven — spelling?) has managed to balance the thematic and action aspects of the film quite well. After all, a film has 2 hours to work with, and a book can have as many pages as is needed. I mean, why would they make a movie with such a light-hearted atmosphere (the movie treats the alien threat less than seriously – in other words, there was no doom & gloom “we’re gonna die” stuff like in ID4, except for one part (the crazy general for those who’ve seen the film), but that was funny) and rate it MA? There are quite a few underlying themes the film. I’ll do a full review of it in the articles section later, but in the meantime, go see it! Best movie I’ve seen this year (of course, it’s only February :).



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