Thursday, 30 November 2006

Weekly GG

Movie highlights of the week,
one old : Tora! Tora! Tora! (Sun 7 220P), one of the best American (and Japanese) war movies about the bombing of Pearl Harbour; and,
one new : Road to Perdition (Sun 7 830P) with Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, directed by Sam “American Beauty” Mendes (RT 83%).

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

GG Editorial - Year in Review

On the eve of the second annual GG Awards, a few words from your Chairman, Mr GGBlog himself.
This year’s big GG news story was the move from e-newsletters to this online blog.
Once online, the rants continued for a time but eventually ran out of steam and you just can’t make a hot, piping cup of invective without steam ! Weekly GG highlights have continued as have the topical and localised football posts for Rabelwatch.
Your host has added a number of more detailed movie reviews throughout the year. While not true “reviews” as you might find elsewhere, they have quite deliberately been expressions of personal reactions to the film experience. There was also a comprehensive report back from MIFF in August and September.
Guest spots have been most welcome and they assisted in filling out the “TV” aspect, an area that I fall well short since I focus more on the movies. It is with a great deal of thanks to TV Tasty Knows and Metal Theater for their contributions over the year. Thanks also to the usually reticent Rabelwatch for his personal contribution earlier in the year. In this era of inclusiveness however it was a personal disappointment that long time subscribers Formal Neil and Uncle J could not be enticed to contribute a post too.
Nonetheless, all of your ongoing support and regular readership of this modern form of thought sharing is most appreciated. Feedback too, as always, is welcome.
And so, with the “real” AFI Awards next week, we at GG land can look forward to upstaging their regional shin-dig by hosting our 2ND ANNUAL GG AWARDS first. Who will win the coveted ‘GG TV AWARD 2006’ and ‘GG MOVIE AWARD 2006’ ? That, my dear friends, is entirely up to you. Come prepared to nominate a winner for both awards and we will draw this year’s winners quite literally out of a hat ! Nominations and winners will be posted online next week. Note to self : bring a hat.
Humbly yours, Editor in Chief, GGBlog

Metal Theater Monday Madness

"I should have learned to play the guitar. I should have learned to play them drums. Man, we would have had some fun." Mark Knopfler
Mr Metal Theater offers his views once again and he is most very welcome. - ed. GGBlog
It seems like Monday nights is the only reason for watching TV. First off we have SBS News at 630P. Not exciting, not interesting, not remotely funny, but at least you can find out what's going on in the world. Put up with this for half an hour (and resist the temptation to flick across to see Naomi in her last 10 minutes of fame) and you'll then be able to reward yourself with Futurama.

For some bizarre reason our network programming executives in all their glory decided to re-run (for about the fourth time) the first episode of Futurama last night. Either an exercise in pedantry or just a "suck on this" message to the viewers, it really doesn't matter because it's all still pretty funny.

Viewers of the Simpsons often don't like or appreciate Futurama as much. It took me a while to get into the idea, but thanks to my old housemate James, I fully appreciate it for what it is. The humour is a lot sillier than the Simpsons and often a lot better - and the plots are a zillion times more interesting and better thought out (yes, it's a real number, look it up). This makes the show a lot more well-rounded than later series of the Simpsons. Catch it while you can.

Newsflash - according to Cityseach, Channel Ten (in all their wisdom) have decided to go back to the Simpsons at 7P. Just what we need, another bunch of Simpsons re-runs! “You guys, you so clever.” Next thing we'll be seeing Seinfeld again. (Well not for the moment thanks to Michael Richard's comments at a recent stand-up gig.)

Now it's time for TV enjoyment of the week : Mythbusters. This show has been around for quite a while and is surprisingly the Discovery Channel's most successful show. The two hosts, Adam and Jamie, mesh together quite badly, having completely different personalities. That's fun to watch - but so is the show.

Because it's been going for so long they've quickly run out of myths to bust. But these guys know how extend the life of a TV show well; they've started investigating anything. Movie myths, physics myths, even dumb stories written in by viewers. They've now had to recruit a second "team" of presenters to help pad out the show. While these guys obviously know their stuff (Grant seems capable of building anything) - they seem to lack any personality. Kari fell into the role by default (she helped out the guys beforehand) and is ok, but Grant seems to be lacking any kind of presentation skills. Tory is about the same. Jamie and Adam have a unique skill in being able to make any myth tested be fascinating viewing - the other guys seem to suck the life out it. But that's a small point really. The show is still great.

Moving onto 830P you can enjoy some great rude humour from South Park. It never really lost it's edge and is still pretty funny. Last week was the 'Michael Jackson' episode - and while the writers couldn't have picked an easier target they deliberately played with viewers expectations and made a very funny episode. Worth a revisit if you used to enjoy the show.

And then following up from the rear is "Drawn Together". In what seems like a great premise (cartoon characters from different periods living together a-la big brother) - the show is a disappointment. Trying to "out crude" American Dad and Family Guy is a recipe that's never going to work - and this one falls flat on its face. While treating a taboo subject lightly can sometimes be a source of amusement (if done well and with care) - these guys take it to extremes. It doesn't quite work and is often painful watching. Don't bother.

And if you're feeling a bit night-owlish, you can stay up and watch Drew Carey's "Whose Line Is It Anyway?". Apart from the grammatically incorrect title there's not a lot wrong with this show. The improvisational standards are extremely high and often leave me thinking that perhaps Carey has slipped the actors a bit of advance warning over what some of the situations might be. But mostly the show seems completely un-scripted and childishly fun. Recommended.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Talk To Her - GG

Sorry, no real GG post this week either. Time is a little too tight. Spain's Pedro Almodovar's Talk To Her (Sat SBS 950P) is pick of the week.

TV Tasty Knows loves Richie

TV Tasty Knows has been scouring the halls and back rooms of TV land in the hope that there something more for transmission than the famine-like of offerings we have been getting. Alas, there is nothing much to report.
Of current interest, TV Tasty Knows recommends only the Sopranos and West Wing, and that is about it. The rest is just packing material akin to what one might get upon opening a cheap Taiwanese toaster, or the interesting but bizarre plastic hook things that keep socks together that you'll get from Aunty May this Christmas. See? Already you are more interested in the analogy than any TV programs.

TV Tasty Knows Pick of the Summer
One bright beacon does shine, and that dear GG blogees, is CRICKET. TV Tasty Knows will be watching (and listening) to the cricket all summer, tuning in to watch in accordance with the adage:
"Ashes to Ashes,
It's a must, a must."

The Poms need to be given a cricket lesson my friends, and following that, be ground into the dust and returned home, stripped of laurels too easily bestowed last year, by a country starved of sporting success. 5 tests, of 5 days each equals 25 days of slow cooking English oompa-pa goonery on a spit. Just the way we like it.

Finally, TV Tasty Knows wishes that all you TV punters enjoy yourselves at the Turf Bar.
(They have Kronenbourg 1664 and Hoegaarden on tap - TV Tasty Knows !)

Thursday, 16 November 2006

2AGGA - 2

By now all regular subscribers will have received their personalised invitations to the 2nd Annual Green Guide Awards. Please contact the moderator for further details if you need to. The date for the Awards ceremony is Friday 1st December 2006 from 5:30P.

Members of Thursday = Green Guide Day are asked to bring nominations to the Awards night for both the GG TV Award and the GG Movie Award.

Members are also aware of the compulsory nature for attendance at this emerald event.

Void - GG

Touching the Void (Sun 7 830P) is more than just the state of TV's summer programming schedule. In a week when there are a collection of fine movies, all of them have been screened (at least) once before. They are worth a look if you haven't seen them before : The Dish, Being John Malkovich, Harry Potter 1, Chicken Run, Ruthless People, Billy Elliot, Phone Booth.
Touching the Void (a first run on TV) is a real life dramatisation of two mountain climbers and best mates climbing the Siula Grande in Peru, being the first to make the summit and then, on descent, run into tragedy. One of them breaks his leg in a fall, ultimately is left on the cliff face to die while the other descends alone. The one left there manages to descend by himself also, amazingly, and this is the story of how he gets down. What should not be a surprise is how their friendship was affected.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Troy - GG

Troy (Fri 9 830P) much maligned by critics, historians and Greek literature experts alike, is an adaptation of Homer’s siege and battle of the said city by the Greeks, led by Agamemnon (Brian Cox). The political outrage was ignited by the love affair between Paris and Helen (Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger) and Helen’s subsequent defection / kidnapping by Paris. Despite what the girls say about his eye-candy value, Orlando Bloom can’t act.
The Greeks are confident because they have Achilles (Brad Pitt), the Michael Voss of the Greek army (if you will), part God, part man and the best fighter in the known universe. Ensuring that it is not all one sided, Troy is the home to Hector, Paris’ older brother, played by Eric Bana. Bana is as serious and gruff as he ever was as the gun toting, desert rat in Black Hawk Down.
So, why should you watch ? Brad Pitt of course : with his tanned muscles, blonde hair and “love me because I’m this good” swagger. The rest is fun, period-epic, action-set type stuff.
From a story telling point of view, I wonder if it would have added a layer of richness by including the gods in this version ? Homer’s tale of the battles between humans is only half the story. Each parry and thrust is mirrored and often as not a result of, the gods squabbling with one other and favouring their humans as pawns in a chess game. Troy manages to erase any reference to a god and the story becomes a little ‘same old’ as a result.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Kandahar and Nine Queens - GG

While Nicolas Cage gets a thorough working over on Friday night (why ?, why ?, why ?) as do inane comedies and action movies on all others, Tuesday on SBS offers a rare double that set them apart for the week.
Kandahar (1P) is directed by Iranian Mohsen Makhmalbaf and was made pre-9/11. Set in Afghanistan under Taliban rule (although mostly filmed in neighbouring Iran for obvious reasons) it documents the travel of an Afghani-born Canadian, Nafas, returning to her country of birth as she tries to reach her sister who has written and said that she will kill herself at the next solar eclipse.
Naturally the film does not reflect well on the Taliban and would not perhaps have been so interesting or relevant to Western audiences save for what occurred post 9/11. Told in the first person by Nafas who discreetly tape records her thoughts and conversations in English, she desperately travels across the arid landscape with anyone who will show her the way to the city of Kandahar. Firstly, wearing the full burqua covering, with a trader and his wives, later by a boy who claims he can step around the trouble spots.
The film conjures some beautiful yet surreal images, the most commented on being the artificial limbs parachuted down to an aid agency (nothing more than a tent in the desert) and one legged men hopping madly in a wild foot race to catch one of the prizes.
Beautiful but haunting.
The other, quite different in almost every way, Nine Queens (11P) is one of the best ‘con’ movies I have seen. This original is Argentinian and it was remade in America recently as Criminal, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and John C Reilly but naturally isn’t quite as good. If you enjoyed the Hustle TV shows on ABC then you will enjoy this even more. The story is about two con men getting hold of a sheet of rare stamps (the Nine Queens) and then extorting a collector for their exchange. Cleverly written, you do not realise who is playing whom until the very last scene. Good fun.