Friday, 29 September 2006

100 Posts - Hooray !!

This is the 100th post to this blog site !

Hooray indeed.

In keeping with the commercial channels "best of" celebrations of the past 50 years of television (or 50 quality minutes of broadcasting in the past 50 years of television) here is a "100th post retrospective" for you to laugh, and cry, and smile, and remember. Take it away Bert ...

Let's go way back, to the timid post number 1.

Movie Reviews (in the post below)

TV Tasty Knows' first post
TTK loves the Daddos

RabelWatch has his ego stroked
Aussies Out
MrRabelWatch responds

MetalTheater throws his guitar into the ring

And the Rants
(the late) Ross Warneke
Channel 9 and the Commonwealth Games
Channel 9 and the Commonwealth Games II
Nicole is getting married
And so is Mr Metal Theater
Give SBS more money
50 years too long

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Colonel Sharpe - TV Tasty Knows

Much like the British soldiers shown serving in India, last Sunday’s airing of "Sharpe's Challenge" (Part 1) took TV Tasty Knows by surprise.
As a period drama, Sharpe's Challenge (a later one in the Sharpe series) has all the ingredients that make this rollicking adventure great fun : there is a hero we can barrack for, a steady plot, lots of action, tension filled moments, evil scheming, historical context, class actors who can fill the scope of the story telling (making some acting allowances for the striking female support cast), a striking female support cast, and importantly, following the characters through the ripping adventure.
Sharpe's Challenge was shot on location in India which adds greatly to the impact and lush viewing : stunning scenery, indoor backdrops, local people, local props, amazing architecture, etc. Just the thing that should be scheduled for a Sunday night. Bravo Colonel Sharpe, and all speed to you sir.

TV Tasty Knows Pick Of The Week
Won't be to everyone's taste, but Bro Town (Mon SBS 830P) is out of the box watching.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Kill Bill - GG

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Wed 7 930P) is the most recent Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs) which was (controversially) shot as one movie and then spliced in two and released six months apart. I say controversially because some believed that it was a cynical money making ploy to generate twice the revenues for a single film. Tarantino claimed that he could not chop the movie any shorter (than the two parts currently are) and was forced to make an artistic choice (by making two films). The criticisms continued once the two films were released with some critics claiming that the stories did not naturally fall into two parts etc etc. Overwhelmingly too, most, it seemed, preferred Vol. 2 which is a lot more conventional in how it unfolds than part 1, which I will get too shortly. I for one however simply revelled in Vol. 1 and endorse it again here.
Kill Bill tells the story of The Bride (Uma Thurman), a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, headed by the eponymous Bill (David Carradine) is “killed” on her wedding day by her now estranged Squad, along with all members of her bridal party, guests and clergy. Despite being bruised and bloodied, she is in a deep coma from which she does not wake for four years. When she does finally, she vows a bloody and ruthless revenge. She makes a list, with Bill last on the list, and Vol. 1 proceeds to tell the revenge of numbers 1 and 2 on the list : Lucy Liu, now leader of the Japanese underworld, and Vivica A Fox, a regular suburban mum.
Tarantino has made no secret of his love of old style Hong Kong gangster films and this homage moves from the cheesy music and off-centre title card at the films opening to the high powered kung-fu throughout. The violence in this film is bloody but deliberately over the top and must be viewed as comedy when copious amounts of blood spurt wildly from shoulder joints as any number of faceless baddies have their limbs severed by a samurai sword.
What sets this movie apart though is how it looks and how it sounds. The music is energetic and wild when it is called for and quiet and reflective to contrast. There is no doubt that music adds to the style of the film and its story telling. Listen to it loud is my suggestion. [I recall being alone in the house one night and at 3am watching Vol. 1 at full volume. It was awesome].
The look of the film too is beautiful with its bright and vibrant colours – think The Bride’s yellow track suit and the Pussy Wagon’s garish colours. My favourite scene however is virtually the last with the showdown between The Bride and Liu. The solitude of the Japanese garden, the snow gently falling, the trickle of the stream and the dropping of the bamboo water feature. This also assists in telling the story as The Bride and Liu meet each other as enemies and in their fight, learn respect for each other that neither had.
The other visual tricks that Tarantino dishes up for us is a sequence in anime, possibly to “tone down” the subject matter to get past the censors – I’ll let you decide if you think it is appropriate material for a mainstream film; the extended fight sequence with the Crazy 88 is broken up with viewing the fight in colour, black and white, in blue shadow; inter-titles to announce the new chapter; and so it goes on, all the while giving the film a sense of direction and manic energy.
Sonny Chiba gives a delightful cameo as a tea house proprietor.
Downsides include the fact that the fight scene with the Crazy 88 (don’t ask, just accept) goes on a little too long (I mean how many hewed limbs and athletic twists can you take, really?) and it is a pity in some ways that splitting the film in two meant a “cliffhanger” ending which compelled you to wait for Vol. 2 : a revelation that takes some of the suspense out of the sequel.
Overwhelmingly though I think it works and in my mind, a worthy successor to the very great potential that Tarantino showed in Reservoir Dogs.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

City of God - GG

There is only one real choice for movie watchers on this week’s TV :
City of God (Wed SBS 10P), Fernando Meirelles’ look into the heart of the Rio de Janeiro-ean slums. Children are as adults : “I smoke and snort, shoot and rob – I’m a man,” says one 10 year old, shortly before he his shot dead. It is a tough and ruthless place where drugs and crime are the only options. Divided into gangs, the stronger survive and move into each other’s territory. While it starts as a “what hope is there?” type of film set in the 60’s, it evolves into an even more fascinating battle between wills and weapons in the 80’s. Highly recommended.
You may also care for The Adventures of Robin Hood (Sat 9 1P – assuming it is actually shown that is), shot in bright and glorious Technicolour starring the cheeky, suave Errol Flynn and the dastardly Basil Rathbone.
Sadly, due notice is given that it is probable that no entry will be posted next week as your humble correspondent uses up the balance of his annual leave and escapes town with the fam. for a few days. Naturally all efforts will be made to post some items of interest if possible.
Now, LA Law – the Movie (Mon 7 midday) anyone ?

50 Years of Cringe - Rant

What is it with all the 50 years – Best Of shows? Channels 7 and 9 have been working the hardest to pump out these high profile, easy to manufacture shows, some on a weekly basis for most of this year and apart from being “easy,” “mindless” TV, who actually makes a point of sitting down to watch them ? Obviously a lot do and no doubt a strong part of their appeal is watching highlights of old shows that haven’t been aired for a long time. Mind you, given the number of Graham Kennedy/Bert Newton tribute type remixes of the past two or three years, there can’t be much of their highlight reels that haven’t been shown at least once.
What I thought summed up the history of Australian TV’s poor self-image over 50 years the most is Channel 7’s Star City Casino black tie do on Sunday night which includes Americans Will Ferrell and John C Reilly (along with the vomit inducing Kochie and Mel) as guest presenters of the 50 most whatever moments on (channel 7's) TV over 50 whatever years. I thought we got over that inferiority complex at the Sydney Olympics if not before ? What happened to their point of difference with channel 9 who regularly submit to personality and not to content on their Logie shows with American guest presenters ?
Why do I hate (commercial) TV ? The same reason I hate political spin out of Canberra. Dumbing down what is put to otherwise intelligent folks because that’s what some closed minded, conservative event organiser thinks would suit the main interest. Like all good democracies I have the right to not watch and turn off my TV. I intend to exercise that right !

Its Summer, Its Daddo, Its TV Tasty, And I'm In Love

In an exciting initiative, TV Tasty Knows visited the Daddo brothers as part of an in-depth follow-up interview for loyal GGblog-ees.
TV Tasty Knows can report that the boys are living together in the big family house, though as the lads have got married they have separate rooms these days. This is a good thing as the usual fights, horsing around, playing up, unbridled hilarity and squabbles were very much still in evidence, and on more than one occasion Mrs Daddo (Snr) had to separate the boys using the time honoured ear-holding technique (with the wooden spoon also threatened at one point).
After 3 hours of hanging out with the Daddos, TV Tasty Knows was sore from Chinese burns, one of Andrew's model planes was broken, everyone was still giggling from Cameron being sprung stealing choc-bits from the cupboard and no-one wanted to hear Lachie's pimple dramas.
The most interesting fact of the visit (aside from the old Dexter compatibility printouts the Daddos had run on many of their past girlfriends) was the fact that a TV studio had been set up in a converted bedroom, which included an amazing collection of location back drops. Apparently TV producers from the various channels often found it easier to just go to the Daddos house some weeks to film segments.
Thankfully the visit ended in good spirits with a game of backyard cricket - though Andrew insisted he did not snick a caught behind and though it was his cricket bat, a lot of ill feeling remained. Last seen though, Lachie and Andrew were ganging up on Cameron who had been hogging the X-box.
TV Tasty Knows had a great time with the Daddos, and suffice to say, so do viewers.
(GGBlog Note: TV Tasty has been invited back to the Daddos for a Monopoly and Squatter weekend.)

TV Tasty Knows Pick Of The Week
You are being told now right now you little punk-rap-$#%er, "The Sopranos" is back (Wed 9 1040P)
(Who wants out of the Mob? TV Tasty Knows....)

A Pretty Coterie of Coquettes and a Gaggle of Goodlooking Gigolos

God bless the cynic. All true of course.
Grey's Anatomy, like the majority of recent American dramas, features a pretty cast who do minimal acting, conveying character instead through hairstyles and fashion - they pout, they pose, they strut, they give good close-up.
The older players or "character actors" are usually relegated to the role of crusty mentors who, like CSI's Gil Grissom (William Petersen), drift in and out of the narrative spouting Zen-master cliches. Even the fabulous Mandy Patinkin is reduced to this sage-like buffoonery on Criminal Minds, leaving the exciting stuff to glamorous co-stars such as Thomas Gibson - or is that Patrick Dempsey again? They all look alike.

Thursday, 7 September 2006

Two TV Things

There is a lot of press space being given to Ricky Gervais and his latest comedy creation, Extras (Wed ABC 9P), at the moment. This is justified given the quality of the show in its own right and relative to most of the other stuff. One of the better articles was written by Peter Craven in The Age this week.
A “special” At The Movies (Tue ABC 10P) with Margaret (“I just loved it”) interviewing two of Australia’s finest directors of photography, Don McAlpine (The Chronicles of Narnia, Moulin Rouge) and Dion Beebe (Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago).

Ronin, far from heaven - GG

Far From Heaven (Fri 7 845P) is set in 1957 with Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid as the definitive modern Connecticut-American couple. The backdrops, the costumes, the manners, the expectations are true to the 1950s down to the minutest detail. At no time does the film or the film makers belie the fact that this film was made some 45 years later, in 2002. This allows us to fall into step with a 1950s mindset to address the issues of homosexuality and racism from new eyes. This attention to detail to recreate the mood as well as the look of a 1950s film is one of the film’s highlights.
To quote from Roger Ebert’s review : “Director Todd Haynes says he had three specific inspirations: Douglas Sirk's "All That Heaven Allows" (1955), which starred Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson in the story of a middle-aged widow and her handsome young gardener; Sirk's "Imitation of Life" (1959), with Lana Turner as a rich woman whose maid's daughter (Susan Kohner) passed for white, and Max Ophuls' "The Reckless Moment" (1949), about blackmail. In Sirk's films you often have the feeling that part of the plot is in code; that one kind of forbidden love stands for another.”
The forbidden love in this film is the gay love of the “perfect” business man and father, Dennis Quaid and the interracial attraction between Julianne Moore and their black gardener, Dennis Haysbert. For a film that has so much going for it, it is not surprising that an enormous number of reviewers liked this film a lot. GG’s Scott Murray has this to say though : “the film will be stunning for many and overly precious for others.” I’m sad to say that I fall into the latter category and found the film’s pacing to be to slow.
Ronin (Fri 7 noon) is an action film that has more going for it than just one set piece after another. Directed superbly by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate), the car chases through the winding streets of Paris are fantastic. The heart of the film however belongs to the mateship and mutual respect between Jean Reno (the master of the heart of gold with a gruff exterior) and Robert De Niro. Both hold to the honour code of the ronin, a Japanese expression referring to the code of behaviour of samurai warriors who have no master to serve.
Above average comedies, My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Fri 9 830P) and Analyze This (Fri 9 1030P).
Some Like It Hot (Sat 9 130P) is back in the program so good luck !
I have not been engaged to watch any of the 9/11 tributes / films / documentaries up until now. I’m not sure if its the prospect of documented misery that’s too close to home or whether I’m wary of “celebrating” an event that has no answers and will only end up as a flag waving exercise for America and its government. Having said that, the French documentary that was released 1 year after the event, 11’9”01 – September 11 (Mon SBS 1040P) is a compilation of 11 reflections from 11 acclaimed filmmakers (including Alejandro Inarritu, Ken Loach, Samira Makhmalbaf, Mira Nair) and I feel compelled to visit it this time around. Perhaps enough time has passed for me that I can view it a little more dispassionately ?
Being a fan of Korean drama, I will be tuning into If You Were Me (Tue SBS 1040P) which is a collection of short films from different Korean directors, including my favourite, Park Chan-wook.