Thursday, 29 November 2007

Pledge - GG

Bad Santa (9 Sat 1030P) is the kind of irreverent and inappropriate send up of Christmas movies that should make it very funny indeed. Billy Bob Thornton plays the main man. This is preceded by Elf (9 Sat 830P) which is more of a child’s movie although the gangling and vacuous Will Ferrell makes the most of his oversized, fish-out-of-water, elf.
Sean Penn’s latest film in the cinemas, Into The Wild, is generating a lot of critical interest, and, not knowing much about his directorial style, will watch The Pledge (9 Sun 1030P) with interest. I expect there will be ‘intensity,’ something for which Penn himself is famous, and this may or may not be good thing !
Breaking News (SBS Mon 11P), is from my favourite Hong Kong action director, Johnny To (Election). This one has the police tracking down a gang of thieves, meanwhile dealing with its public credibility. Expect an above average action film from the HK-triad genre.
Don’t forget the AFI Awards (9 Thu 930P) and for those desperate for every nuance, the Euro 2008 Final Draw (sans England) is being telecast (SBS Sun 1040P).

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

3rd Annual GG Awards

Its Award season again and your chance to nominate entries to the 3rd Annual GG Awards !!

Please send via email (click here), your nominations in the following catergories :

2007 GG Movie Award

2007 GG TV Award

Simply put, anything that you have seen this year (whether a movie or a TV show) can be nominated. Nominations close next Friday 7th December whereupon a monkey will pick the winner out of a barrel.

disclaimer:no monkey or barrel will be hurt in the making of this statement.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Top 12 - 3,2,1

My Top 12 movies of the 2000s builds to an exciting climax.

#3 Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) Dir Q Tarantino (US)
Known for his rapid fire dialogue in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, writer/director Quentin Tarantino demonstrated his flair for style in Kill Bill Vol. 1. Originally conceived as one movie, the Weinsteins felt that for length reasons, it be split into two parts (and no doubt the lure of double box office takings). Ostensibly a revenge tale by the Bride (Uma Thurman) to kill Bill (David Carradine), her former lover and mentor, it was a vehicle for Tarantino to lovingly embellish the best of the Hong Kong martial arts films he enjoyed as a youth. While Vol. 2 is more traditional in its structure, including the Bride’s back story, it is in Vol. 1 that Tarantino can cut loose with his wild sword fights, excessive blood spurting from severed limbs, an energised soundtrack, including a live performance by The 5, 6, 7, 8’s and dynamic change ups in presentation, from colour to black & white, anime and silhouettes. Kill Bill Vol. 1 is an exercise in exhilarating style.

#2 Lord of the Rings – Return of the King (2003) Dir P Jackson (NZ/US)
It would seem that the best battle sequence in movie history was to last only one year. When Return of the King was released, one year after its prequel, The Two Towers, the best battle sequence was passed by the best battle sequence ever! The attack by the foul fiends of Mordor on the city of Gondor is compelling for its ability to reveal the large picture without losing sight of the individual stories we have invested so much time in. The heart of the film is Frodo and Sam who stagger up the steep incline of Mt Doom to destroy the One Ring in its fiery pits. It is their total devotion to each other, and indeed the selfless goodness of the allies in their fight to “save the world” that make this so much more than just a dumb, special effects laden action movie. And after travelling this epic journey over three films and 10 hours, the ending which runs for over 20 minutes, gives us sufficient time to say goodbye as our timeless heroes take the boat to the Grey Havens.

#1 Lord of the Rings – Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Dir P Jackson (NZ/US)
This is a road movie of sorts where our heroes commence a journey unawares of what lies ahead and what toll it will take. They meet fantastic beasts and pass through unimagined lands. The Fellowship is a collection of nine including humans, a wizard, an elf, a dwarf and hobbits. Their mission is to take the One Ring to Mordor and destroy it. Unlike the subsequent two films that necessarily take on a darker tone, the Fellowship is full of wonder, mystery and innocence. The friends are bound together by their mission with each dark turn of events binding their dependence and loyalty tighter.

MOvember - end of month

So, the MO had to go. Allergies mid-month put paid to a hairy lip as one less thing to aggravate and worry about. Never mind. We at least made it half way and upset the GLW (Good Lady Wife) immensely.
You are welcome to make a donation toward the issue of men's health, if you wish

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Ghost Dog and Galaxy - GG

Its almost too hard to go past Wombling Free (ABC 430A Wed night/Thu morning), the 1977 “live action” feature of the Wombles of Wimbledon (“...Common are we”) who “pick up the things that we find.” Too many nostalgia memories I’m afraid. I don’t pretend for a minute it would be any good !
Lame-o comedy Christmas with the Kranks (9 Mon 830P) seems to be the most recent offering to make it to free-to-air TV (could explain why its on a Monday night), with Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen. Slightly less lame-o, but still pretty lame, and not as good as its predecessor (Get Shorty), Be Cool (9 Fri 830P) with John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Vince Vaughan. I won’t be rushing.
One of the very few Jarmusch films not on the Teev last year was Ghost Dog : The Way of the Samurai (SBS Wed 1030P), starring Forest Whitaker. Will watch to round out my education. Expect a thoughtful movie that follows the journey of its characters. Don’t expect it to be about you, the viewer ! Jarmusch has been getting better the longer he is in the business. My personal fave of his is Dead Man (1995) and Ghost Dog followed in 1999.
The other highlight of the week is the A-League Club Challenge (10 Tue 830P) between Sydney FC and uber-celebrity David Beckham (oh, and his new football team, LA Galaxy) at Telstra Stadium in Sydney. Is the Becks playing SR ? No doubt he will be on Rove on Sunday, if he his in Australia.

Top 12 : 6, 5, 4

#6 Amelie (2001) Dir J-P Jeunet (France)
Released at the Toronto film festival, days before 9/11, this super-saturated, whimsical French romantic comedy took audiences away from the fear and drama of the real world and made it an international hit. Audrey Tatou stars as Amelie and her elfin looks gives her character the slightly mischievous and naïve traits needed to pull off the role. Unlucky in love, Amelie tries to play Cupid to those around her, and in the process finds the man of her dreams, a photo booth repair man. As with other Jean-Pierre Jeunet films (Delicatessan, City of Lost Children), he delights in the off beat and eccentric while delivering warm and funny stories.

#5 Shrek (2001) Dir A Adamson (US)
The giant green ogre, voiced by Mike Myers, is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the early computer animated features. As with the early Disney’s (Snow White, Pinocchio) this “new” medium was full of imagination and verve and the colour and humour promised something that a “real life” drama can’t deliver. Pixar are unlucky not to be included here as their golden run of Toy Story, Monster’s Inc. and Finding Nemo all presented through the mid 90s raised the bar on what to expect from “children’s” entertainment. But it was Dreamworks’ Shrek that married the elements of animated absurdity, “mum & dad jokes,” well rounded characterisations and a credible storyline, the best. Suffice to say they haven’t got close with Shrek II or III. The production values are first rate and Eddie Murphy (as the Donkey) and Cameron Diaz (as the Princess) give great supporting performances.
Japanese great, Hayao Miyazaki, likewise should mentioned for his artistry in continuing to produce hand drawn, animated features, the pinnacle of which was Spirited Away in 2001.

#4 Lost in Translation (2003) Dir S Coppola (US)
So what does Bill Murray’s Bob Harris whisper to Scarlet Johansson’s Charlotte ? If you think it matters then you have probably missed the point of the whole movie. So what is the point ? Bob is a fading film star, promoting whiskey in Tokyo for a vast sum of money, further isolating himself from his wife, back home in the US, and forgetting his son’s birthday. Charlotte has been married two years, has finished University and doesn’t know what to do with the rest of her life. Her husband is a celebrity photographer and is off on assignment in Japan. The setting of Japan is a convenient means to demonstrate their isolation. Neither character speaks or understands Japanese and so all of the other ‘noise’ in the picture is incomprehensible to us and them. Of course both characters would be equally lost were the film set in New York or Sydney, but those settings would have distracted us from the core of the movie. Bob and Charlotte strike up an unlikely friendship during their stay at the Tokyo Sheraton and this leads to the sharing of their lives where they feel that life is passing them by. Despite some of the more obvious set-ups for Murray to perform his “comedy,” such as the TV show appearance or the “Rat Pack” photo shoot, it is when Murray sings Roxy Music’s “More Than This” at a karaoke bar, does he deliver an awkward moment of self realisation.
Johansson plays her character with the right mix of maturity and playfulness. Writer and director Sophia Coppola won the equivalent of the Oscar’s encouragement award for Best Original Screenplay as the two characters contemplate the changes that lie ahead in their lives.
Bob’s whisper at the end of the film allows viewers to apply their own closure while the characters themselves step tentatively forward to address the next phase in their lives.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Florence Broadhurst - GG

Red Eye (7 Sun 830P) might be okay for a Hollywood thriller, directed by Wes Craven. Stars Cillian Murphy who seems to play his fair share of psychopaths (Jackson Rippner anyone?), and pretty well too. He has Rachel McAdams in his sights and by all accounts the last third has good tension but the first two-thirds are ordinary.
Over on SBS, Unfolding Florence : The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst (Sun 9P) is Gillian Armstrong’s biographical documentary on a larger than life character. The feature is a mix of animation, reconstruction and interview to explore the truth of “an enigmatic eccentric”. Through the 1920’s Broadhurst was a singer and dress maker and engaged in “creative self-description” to talk and act her way up through Sydney’s social circles to finally become a much sought after wallpaper designer later in life. Her mysterious and violent death in 1977 remains a mystery. A preview article from today’s GG here.
And in what seems a rare event these days, an Australian soccer game on SBS. An Olympic qualifier between Australia and Iraq (SBS Sat 1015P) from Gosford - good to know we're not getting it live. Olympic matchs are mostly U23 so will not be the full gamut of Socceroos.

MOvember - mid month

Well, not as impressive as some of my workmates with European heritage, and in truth, am struggling against my fellow Anglo compadres. However, I am what I am.
Despite MOvember being all about having a good old fashioned laugh at ourselves, money is also being raised for men's health : prostate cancer research etc.
You can donate on-line via our work team's link. (Don't be alarmed. I haven't had an identity crisis and changed my name. Michelle Sostaric is team captain!)

Top 12 : 9,8,7

A continuing countdown list of my top 12 favourites from the 2000s.

#9 Lady Vengeance (2005) Dir Park Chan-wook (Korea)
Originally reviewed post film festival in 2006, Chan-wook is one of a small band of Korean director’s keen to push the boundaries of mainstream Korean cinema by presenting stories and images that contrast in every way to the conservative, “soapy” staple that is the Korean mainstream. Lady Vengeance is Chan-wook’s third piece in his revenge trilogy that explores the personal impact of taking the law into one’s own hands. The story follows Lee Geum-ja on her release from prison after 13 years for the murder of a child she did not commit. Her hunt for the man responsible employs former prison-mates in the search and finally engages the parents of all of his victims. While not for the fainthearted, it parallels the conflict between contrition, retribution and redemption.

#8 Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (2002) Dir P Jackson (NZ/US)
The second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, New Zealand director Peter Jackson, employs his home country as a backdrop to the land of Middle Earth in a way that has changed the way that country is known forever. The Fellowship (established in the first movie) fractures during Two Towers and it is a testament to Jackson and his editors that they so effectively keep tabs on three disparate groups of characters and their three separate story lines.
By employing a dizzying array of computer special effects, model minatures and life size recreations of some sets, the climax to this film, the battle at Helm’s Deep, is like something that has never been seen in film before. Not content to have a hundred or a thousand or even ten thousand Orc soldiers, he creates a monster army of a hundred thousand or more, beating their breasts and charging the stone bastion of Rohan.

#7 Mulholland Dr. (2001) Dir D Lynch (US)
One of the most amusing ‘extras’ on the DVD is watching the Cannes film critics interview director David Lynch about this new release which had just been screened, and having absolutely no idea what the film was about and with Lynch giving absolutely nothing away.
If it is so incomprehensible, what makes it so good ? Part dream, part reality, part hallucination, part flashback, it is vital to know which part of the movie belongs in which “reality.” This is the first clue to unlocking the story. I won’t deny that an internet search was the lion’s share to understanding.
Naomi Watts plays Betty, a naïve country girl who comes to Los Angeles hoping for fame on the big screen. Her ambitions slowly fail and she finds herself drug addicted and making ends meet as a call girl. In her breakthrough role, Watts is a revelation as the fresh faced girl creating her own ‘Wizard of Oz’ storyline in her head while her waking reality becomes more and more desperate.

Fitness update

Weigh-in week this week saw some improvement in muscle definition and weight gain and a little build up of fat (now that wasn't planned!). The weights lifted from 10 weeks ago have been increased by about 50% (so, if I was exercising a muscle group with 20kg, am now doing so with 30kg, 3x10 reps)
Aerobically have kept on target by achieveing 45 minute aerobic runs (abt 7.5km) plus those I-can't-believe-how-knackered-I-am-at-the-end Tan runs. Will now lift the intensity of these sessions by including anaerobic running to simulate some game requirements (variable pace running including 'bursting').

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


I was invited by our church youth group to share my testimony with them last Friday night. A testimony is a personal story of how you became a Christian and why it is important to you. Here is what I shared.

What are the life changing experiences of your life ?

Between the ages of 15 and 25, an awful lot can happen. These are all a part of my life and all of them could be considered life changing.
At 16 I discovered that I was really good at mathematics and I finished at the top of my class that year.
At 20 I met the girl of my dreams and three months before my 25th birthday, I married her.
At 21 I completed a University degree and got my first job working for an insurance company.
I bought my first car, a Datsun Bluebird station wagon.
These are all significant things that happened to me in the 10 years between 15 and 25.
The most life changing decision I made during this ten years however was not the most obvious on the outside. It is highly likely that nobody would have noticed very much, at least for a while. Certainly it wasn’t something that was embraced as a wonderful thing by my family.
When I was in high school I enjoyed going along to summer camps run by Scripture Union. I went to a number out at Coolamatong in Bairnsdale, on the farm. Apart from all the activities I enjoyed, there were a lot of discussions about who Jesus was, what he did, and why it was important to us. While I had been touched by the Spirit at these camps, I had never carried it on once I had come home again. In truth, I didn’t really want to know God, I certainly didn’t want to go to church and I resented the perception that becoming a Christian meant giving up on all the fun stuff in life.
Before I was 16, I was due to go on one of these camps, and said to myself, “If anything ‘spiritual’ happens, if I make a promise to Jesus, then I will make sure I carry it through.” Now you don’t make a statement like that without God taking you up on it.
On the first night, I was talking to a leader, and I became a Christian. I said to God, I’m sorry for ignoring you, please forgive me, I want to follow you.
This simple little prayer, to myself, at a camp, in the middle of the night, believe it or not, is the single most important life changing event of my life.
God doesn’t leave us standing still. I read my bible almost every night when I was at high school after that. I had Daily Bread bible reading notes which helped keep me on track, and exposed me to a wide selection of what the bible had to say.
It bothered me however that Christians were supposed to be different to non-Christians and as far as I could tell, I wasn’t that different to my school mates.
At 19, after VCE, I had a year off from study and travelled to England, to work at a children's outdoor camp for 6 months. There was a small group of leaders who drove to a nearby church each week. They were very charismatic gatherings with people yabbering in different tongues, the minister would prowl out the front, looking for new converts and so on. It was a different experience to the Anglican one I had up until then but it was fun too. One day, the pastor was doing his thing, and I had this overwhelming sense that I had to go out the front and fall on my knees. Now, we’re all a bit reluctant to be the first one and have everyone look at us. But I knew if I didn’t go to the front NOW, then God would drop me to my knees where I was. So out the front I went. The pastor, thrilled to pieces, came over and prayed something at the top of his voice for all to hear and went on exhorting and calling and so forth. One of my friends came down next to me and prayed quietly beside me and that was a lot more meaningful. What had happened however was an outporing of God’s Spirit. God connected in a very powerful way that changed me once and for all. From then on, within the core of me, I wanted to learn more about Jesus and be changed by Him. I am the Christian I am today because of that moment.
As a Christian I believe that one day, after I die, I will live with Jesus forever, in a world that is perfect. No hunger, no wars, none of the things that make living in this world so hard to bear. Becoming a Christian is the most important decision I made and the most important one facing you.

Friday, 9 November 2007

MOvember - Day2

"Getting started : two days into the month"
A half dozen idiots at work are MOvembering and I have joined their number. Yes we can be sponsored to raise funds for men's health. Will post a link with the next photo update.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Sin City / JSA - GG

Sin City (Fri 7 1130P) is Robert Rodriguez’ film adaptation of Frank Miller’s comic strip of the same name. All the acting was done in front of green screens and filled in by Rodriguez’ computers later on. The comic strips have been lovingly realised and the actors playing in them (Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen) closely matching their 2D counterparts. Sin City tells three of Miller’s stories which is set amongst a pulpy, film noir world of seedy underbellies and impossibly slender babes. It’s a comic strip after all. But beware, it has provoked wildly different reactions. Roger Ebert scored it 4/4 while our very own Adrian Martin 0/5. How can two very astute movie commentators react so differently? Certainly the heavy use of CGI in place of actual sets, extras, environment etc might be a turnoff. On the other hand, a good story with interesting characters makes for engaging storytelling. Compare this with another 100% CGI film, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and that looked fake and was boring, so computers are not the answer to everything.
If you’ve just visited the border between North and South Korea (just in case you have) then you will get a bit extra out of Joint Security Area (SBS Mon 12midnight), Park Chan-wook’s (Lady Vengeance) first feature. An interesting insight into the geography that divides the split country, it also provides an insight into the attitudes that separates the two Korea’s via an improbable friendship between opposing border guards.

Top 12 : 12, 11, 10

A top 12 of my personal favourites for the films made in the 2000s. Please add your own to the ones I forgot and vehemently disagree with any of my choices.

#12 21 Grams (2003) Dir A Inarritu (Mexico)
While it is true that anyone of half a dozen movies could have been squeezed into the number 12 spot, I have chosen 21 Grams for its brilliant performances (Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro) and powerful story. The film is not told in a linear fashion with the fragmented cuts of beginning and end deliberately disorientating that build with dread. It is a story of loss and grief and attempts at redemption from the very talented Mexican duo Inarritu (director) and Arriaga (writer) who have also produced Amores Perros and Babel.

9 Nov : I have just seen The Sea Inside (2004) after the compilation of my top 12, by another of the South-of-the-border-Spanish-speaking alumni, Alejandro Amenabar (Open Your Eyes, The Others). This would be a very worthy place-getter and for the sake of argument, will put it in here as equal twelfth.
It is based on the true story of Spaniard, Ramon Sampredo, a quadriplegic for 28 years, who wants to end his life because he believes his life is one without dignity. Javier Bardem plays Ramon and it is astonishing how much charm and charisma and humour he can extract when all he is allowed to do is move his head; his body is completely limp. Ramon is not bitter and has a small and dedicated band of friends who fight his legal battles and visit him. He is lovingly cared for by his sister in law as he shares her home with his brother, nephew and elderly father. Like all good movies, it is the loving relationships that give a story strength and depth and while the subject matter is difficult or confronting, this remains a positive and stirring film.

#11 The Passion of the Christ (2004) Dir M Gibson (US)
While I really liked Gibson’s Apocalypto from 2006, I respond to The Passion more. Firstly it is a brutal and up close account of Roman ‘justice’, the political machinations and trial of an innocent man, and a faithful retelling of a well known and revered story by Christians. Jim Cavaziel plays the Christ from his arrest in the quiet of the Garden of Gethsemane to his death by crucifixion. The film’s power is a credit to Gibson who connects real world faith with celluloid image and provides context and meaning as to what Jesus had to experience to fulfil his father’s purpose, that is, to reconcile mankind with Himself. You can read what I wrote last year.

#10 Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Dir Wes Anderson (US)
Wes Anderson has made a career of off-beat comedies starting with Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums but none ever quite worked for me until this one. Steve Zissou has Bill Murray front and centre as the hapless, middle aged, undersea explorer wondering what happened to his life, mourning the loss of his friend, Esteban, to a man eating shark and confronted by a young man, Ned (Owen Wilson) who may or may not be his son. The film works because the relationships amongst the characters are genuine and played straight while the laughs are almost always deadpan or occurring behind the main action. The supporting cast are uniformly excellent, each adding their own idiosyncrasy : Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, Cate Blanchett, Bud Cort and another half a dozen that you have never heard of that gives the film its magic.

Not the Official, offical Tan

An improvised Tan running track was measured out to the nearest 10 metres in the Outtrim valley and surrounding hillside over the weekend, in lieu of actually running around the Tan itself. A time of 16:45 was recorded which was acceptable. One more official Tan run left, next week, to set all new world records.