Thursday, 31 May 2007

Braff State - GG

Tragically there is no Soccerroos v Uruguay on free-to-air this weekend but Pene Cruz does star in an Italian drama, Don’t Move (Wed 10P) in SBS’ cult movie spot.
GG pick of the week is Garden State (Sun 7 1030P) which was written, directed and stars Zach Braff (TV’s Scrubs). Braff’s character is addicted to drugs, moves home to live with his wealthy father and teams up with Natalie Portman (“sweet-crazy-sexy”). A brutally honest take on modern America ? Peter Travers describes it as “a hilarious and heartfelt ode to twenty-something angst.” RT likes it at 87%.
And in a revisit of 80’s culture, memories and highlights, Moonlighting (Cybill Shepherd and a brand new Bruce Willis) is on every day at 11A (channel 7) with the pilot ep. tomorrow (Friday).

Eastern Rovers Round 4 - versus Hallam

Goodridge has been named on the bench for the Rovers round 4 match versus Hallam. Another “must win” game for the club if they hope to entertain finals action. The Rovers and their opponents are both 2-1 so far this year with Hallam 4th on the ladder and the Rovers, 5th.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Somersault - GG

Somersault (Sat SBS 930P) is the debut feature of Australian Cate Shortland and is likewise the debut for Abbie Cornish (subsequently made Candy with Heath Ledger), opposite Sam Worthington. The top of a very thin list at the AFI awards a couple of years ago, thankfully we can look back and see 2004 as an aberration (with respect to the number and quality of Australian films).
Cornish plays 16 year old Heide who is running away from her Canberra home and ends up in Jindabyne (which could end up disastrously were she dovetailed into another film) and in bed with Joe (Worthington). She is “caught between adolescence and adulthood … Heidi is old enough to be aware of her sexuality, but unaware of how it influences others – she needs intimacy but doesn’t know when it’s inappropriate.”
Somersault divided critics at the time however I think it should be viewed; 1) to watch and support Australian films and 2) to be better able to make up our own minds about its merits.
You might also be tempted by Hilary Swank’s first Best Actress Oscar win Boys Don’t Cry (Fri 7 midnight) or a 2001, Johnnie To (Election), Hong Kong action flick Fulltime Killer (Sat SBS 1A) starring Andy Lau (Internal Affairs [the original “The Departed”]).

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Eastern Rovers Round 3 Match Report

A few bumps, a few spoils, a few tackles. That was the sum total of my impact against Murrumbeena on Sunday. Yes there were a small handful of other disposals but nothing noteworthy. My direct opponent (the forward pocket) doubles as a human pot plant during the week. He was reluctant to move forward to the ball and wanted to hide as deep in the pocket as he could go. As a result he didn’t touch the ball all day (a victory for me ?) and managed to drag me out of the play often. A most unsatisfying afternoon.
I played a little over 2 quarters of football with the rest of the time watching on the bench (those “team” things; the “one-percenters”) – also unsatifying !
The Rovers are now 2 wins (and 1 loss) for the year with a 69 (9.15) to 49 (7.7) win. The team’s form was most ordinary in the first half and were Murrumbeena a more skilful outfit they would have led. As it transpired the scores were locked at half time through a couple of late Eastern goals. The third quarter however was comprehensive team football from the Rovers. Everyone played on their man, not allowing the opposition any time or space to move forward (they scored one behind for the quarter) and everyone in our team played in front – suddenly all of the free kicks going the other way were coming our way. The umpires aren’t so fickle after all!
Eastern should have led by more but for the fact they struggle to kick goals from set shots. Still, a win is a win and the coach is happy … until training next Wednesday that is.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Russian Ark - GG

I defy you to watch Russian Ark (Tue SBS 1130P), enjoy it and understand it. Every single critic I have read LOVE this film. Yes, it was shot in one continuous 88 minute take through the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (formerly the Winter Palace), and yes, some of the images are memorable – the costumed ball and exit out into the snow of the last 20 minutes is majestic and elegant – but understanding ? enjoyment ? My wife, were she able to speak about it, would tell you she hasn’t got over the experience of sitting through this from four years ago. If you are a keen student of Russian history then you would glean more from the tableauxs presented (without context and without explanation) as director Alexandar Sokurov criss-crosses from one glorious and tragic highlight to another. Our ‘host’ is a ghost like Marquis who is so unlikeable that one wonders whether you would be better served without him. I am tempted to sit and watch again though. Less to try and ‘understand’ as I am no better informed about Russian history now than I was then, but because I’m tempted by the glimpses of beauty that Sokurov presents.
For slightly less cerebral fare however Pirates of the Caribbean : The Curse of the Black Pearl (Sat 7 830P) follows the first PotC with a likeable rogue in Johhny Depp and wooden eye candy in Orlando Bloom and ties in nicely the third sequel in cinemas shortly. Immediately preceding this is Shark Tale (Sat 7 630P) which is Dreamwork’s “underwater” animated feature (rival Pixar did okay with Finding Nemo by contrast). Full of pop culture references, its okay without being memorable.
Other credible options are Tom Tykwer/Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Heaven (Sun SBS 930P) with the always outstanding Cate Blanchett or Errol Morris’first ever documentary (1980) Gates of Heaven (Tue SBS 10P) which follows the fortunes of the proprietors of two pet cemeteries. It is one of the keenest documentaries on human behaviour yet. After you have seen it (and I recommend you do), read Roger Ebert’s review for a “value add.”
And Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) early bird festival passes went on sale yesterday. I am locked and loaded for 13 sessions with my ‘Mini Pass’. Individual screening tickets will be available closer to festival date (July).
AND not to forget that the FA Cup Final is on this Saturday night (SBS midnight) between Chelsea and Manchester United.

All The President's Men

All The President’s Men brought, in 1976, the already well known Watergate scandal that caused the downfall of the Nixon presidency to the big screen. With the news fresh in the public’s mind (the events themselves occurred in 1972) director Alan Pakula focussed on the story of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who exposed the government’s corruption.
And that is what is great about this film and what is wrong with it. All The President’s Men is a film about newspaper reporters who doggedly and defiantly go about their daily business. The dead end leads, the leg work, the small triumphs - with no guarantees that the trail will lead somewhere.
Based on Woodward and Bernstein’s own book, the film is very dialogue driven and a very compelling story. It is not however a very compelling film.
I was kept interested by the great performances of Redford and Hoffman who assumed the roles of regular, average-guy reporters (and not slick Hollywood A-list actors playing at reporting) and great support roles from their newspaper bosses Jason Robards (who won an Oscar), Martin Balsam and Jack Warden, who all “backed their boys” and ran with the story. Even the “boring” aspects of the story were kept tight by director Pakula who kept the pacing of the story even.
But neither was the film a typical Action film where our heroes slay the dragon and win the girl. This is a film where the newsroom looks like a newsroom and newspaper editors sound like newspaper editors. The same search and search and search techniques used by the investigative reporters does not play dynamically on screen. Considering though how a great (true) story could have been wrecked by artifice we can celebrate the verisimilitude of this on-screen story even though it does not quite add up to a satisfying movie watching experience.

Eastern Rovers - Round 3

Goodridge has been named in the back pocket for Eastern Rovers third round game against Murumbeena. The Rovers “home” game is being played at Heatherdale’s Purches Street oval from 2pm. Rovers coach Nick Uren described Sunday’s game as a “must win” for the club as it hopes to play finals this year. Rovers are 1-1 so far this season.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Fog of War - GG

Depending as to whether the Eurovision Song Contest (Sun SBS 730P) gets you toe-tapping or not will depend as to what you regard as “must see” of the week. Errol Morris’ most recent doc. The Fog of War (Tue SBS 10P) for mine, which expounds the reflections of former US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara regarding the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis and his failures in Vietnam.
In addition to that, Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s (Trainspotting, Sunshine) modern take on their Day of the Triffids zombie pic, 28 Days Later (Fri 7 12-midnight) is worthwhile. It chronicles a small band of survivors (including Cillian Murphy) against a desolate Britain, save for the soulless, virus infected (monkeys again as it happens), flesh-eating undead. The digital camera work enhances the mood of an isolated waste land that Britain has become. As it turns out, the enemy is not just those who have died. Should tie in nicely for the sequel due out in cinemas next week.
The women-folk love The Notebook (Fri 9 830P) and so you can make this your date movie for the week. There has not been a dry eye amongst any of the XX chromosomes who have watched it while us poor XY’s have to look appropriately sincere. Apparently I was in trouble for saying, “that movie could have finished twenty minutes sooner.”

Romper Stomper

It is not a hard stretch to watch Russell Crowe in Romper Stomper and see him playing Maximus in Gladiator. Both exhibit Crowe as a fine, masculine actor who can turn from fearless pugilist to protective guardian. They are also the reason he was thrust into the Hollywood A-list stratosphere.
Romper Stomper follows the violent, angry exploits of a gang of western Melbourne, Nazi skin-heads with plenty of well staged, kinetic brawls with the neighboring Vietnamese gangs. “Ron Hagen's camera work captures the delirium of carnage that drives out rational thought.” 1
Following a very Darwinian order of behaviour, Crowe plays Hando, the Alpha male of the pack and all others vie for position. Demonstrating that young men need to know who’s in charge and where they stand, often times a gang is the most attractive alternative when the traditional role models fail. These young men feel alienated and powerless in a changing world. They strike out against the “gooks” to give themselves identity and control.
Jacqueline McKenzie (as Gabe) is very cute in one of her early screen roles and Daniel Pollock as Davey shares screen time as a more reflective, sensitive group member. The rest of the boys are little more than a leering, unruly collective that act as a back-drop to a film that is a part Clockwork Orange, part American History X and psychologically at least owe much to Lord of the Flies.
The last third of the film does not capitalise on the powerful first hour as Hando, Davey and Gabe hit the road. I suppose the fissures exposed in the group earlier kind of come full circle and as Uncle Remus said to Brer Rabbit, “you can’t run away from trouble, there ain’t no place that far.”
Writer/director Geoffrey Wright has only done a small handful of films since this, the most recent was last year’s Macbeth which was not reviewed kindly.

1 Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Eastern Rovers - Round 2 match report

A lesson taught to the new Rovers on Sunday with a 28 point defeat at the hands of the Knox Lions.
Leading 5 goals to 3 at quarter time the Rovers never looked better with clean transfers of play up forward and plenty of fresh legs willing to run.
The second and third quarters however were not good football by the Rovers as the Lions ran hard, ran in numbers and moved the ball forward with plenty of loose men around the park.
The Rovers showed some pluck in the last quarter by kicking 3 unanswered goals to get within 5 points. This effort was short lived however as the Lions took control and kicked the last 4 goals to win 12.8.80 to 8.4.52.
The coach was not happy.
Goodridge however was quietly smug. He had run the boundary all day and his personal disposal count was healthy (a number of throw-ins and 3 out of bounds on the full decisions – all going Eastern’s way now that you mention it). At least until the next game, Goodridge knows that he was not a part of the losing side and can be part of the solution for the next game ! Now for the hard part : he has to deliver.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

GG is some kind of monster

While Collateral (Sun 10 830P*) is a good choice for a macho, modern day action film (starring Tom Cruise in a role that requires little emotion and genuinely seems to suit him, and Jamie Foxx, filmed by Aussie Dion Beebe on high def. digital), the “must see” for the week is rock doco, Metallica – Some Kind of Monster (Sat SBS 10P).
What started life as an album ‘making of’ promo., quickly became a gold mine for the filmmakers who ended up following the band around for over 12 months. The doco commences when bass player Jason Newsted quits the band and this precipitates meltdown amongst the remaining members. Lead singer James Hetfield leaves to attend rehab amidst recriminations regarding his commitment by drummer Lars Ulrich while guitarist Kirk Hammett sounds like the little brother, unable to influence the outcome and trying to keep his head below the parapet. High performance group therapist Phil Towle is brought in to facilitate healing between the group members and broker the future of this otherwise highly successful, highly rich heavy metal band. Ironically it is only when the band members unite to oust the Towle that the album is finished and on they go. The film is unusual for its honesty and inclusion of the filmmakers in obtaining the footage.
Bad Education (Wed SBS 10P) stars popular Mexican actor Gael Bernal and was the Pedro Almodovar feature prior to last year’s Volver. Expect competent story telling and real performances from its leads.

* 830P – yeah right ! 857P after Big Brother finishes more like.

On a side note, last night’s At the Movies with Margaret and David has led to a most distressing occurrence.
Ordinarily David offers a more cerebral, considered reflection on the films he has seen and yet retains a boyish enthusiasm for action films. It is no surprise then that Margaret’s gushing emotiveness is not one upon which I see eye to eye while agreeing with David most often.
The last two weeks however have seen Margaret and I come to one accord.
Last week it was Tideland : “I came out of this film and I thought Terry Gilliam has finally lost his marbles. I think the reason this film has taken so long to get here is because it’s unwatchable.”
Last night it was Spiderman : “Spider-Man is the most boring of the franchises possibly it’s got to do with the fact that I think [Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst] are two of the most uncharismatic leads in the business.”
And how’s this for a put down ? “And while I like Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette, in this series I really disliked her, and it strikes me that they [Dunst and Maguire] take the cake as far as the two thin, wobbly-lipped heroines of our time.”
Hear, hear! Oh no, what am I saying ?