Obligatory Vanuatu reference: We did go to a series of increasingly bad movies at Namawan Cafe’s free moonlight cinema, but I did not review those here (everyone agreed Total Recall was better the first time). Still, for being away for three weeks, I still managed to see a fair few shows. And if you do have any questions about Vanuatu, or things you want me to talk about, feel free to let me know!

The Painted Veil: Should have been called “Love in the time of Cholera”, and did a very good job of making me lose all sympathy for Norton’s character over the course of the movie. Good acting, nice touching on some issues of colonialism, gorgeous opening credits.

Sex and the City: Actually a very good movie-of-a-show. But I dislike the show.

Turner to Monet – exhibition at the National Gallery: Landscape art exhibition. I did not know Monet painted snowscapes. Forget the waterlillies – the snowscapes are where it’s happening!

Prince Caspian: Way better than TLtW&tW, and though not perfect, I really liked that they didn’t need to resort to flashbacks and that they showed the children having some difficulties with having been grown up and powerful and now being children again, and especially the effect on Susan. Caspian was great, although I kept wanting him to say “You killed my father, prepare to die”, but I think Edmund was the best character.

Hulk: Better than the last rendition, in that the Hulk fit a bit better into his world. Still problematic, especially the end (but the showdown scene in Superhero movies usually is) but I think those problems are in the nature of the story, and Norton does damaged well. I loved the beginning – science from scratch, first principles, making do, what I probably erroneously think of as a steampunk aesthetic (or at least what attracts me to steampunk, do-it-yourself, Antarctic exploration and self-sufficiency handbooks).

Meet Dave: Ow. Um – not the worst Eddie Murphy has made?

Red Tree – Australian Chamber Orchestra: The first half was Shostakovich’s “String Quartet No. 15” with images from Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, the second Yezerski and Tognetti’s “Red Tree” with Gondwana Voices and images from The Red Tree. The first half was alright. I wasn’t particularly stirred by the music and the images chosen were disjointed and statically presented. The second half, however, was brilliant – soaring voices, incredible close-ups of paint strokes and images so that I felt like falling into paintings and going home to read The Red Tree with a magnifying glass.

Dark Knight: I feel I was expected to like this more than I did. It was very good, and I can’t fault too many things (those I picked up on the first time bore out the second). Ledger and Oldman were both brilliant and I admired how the story kept rolling relentlessly forward. But the ethical dilemmas and mature philosophical questions occasionally tilted a little too far into angst for my taste. I’m more a fan of Commissioner Gordon (the true hero of Gotham) and of other characters who just get the job done.

Hancock: First half: brilliant riff on superhero genre. Second half: okay superhero movie.

Mamma Mia: My parents and Aimee and I saw this (my dad’s choice) and it was just fun. No, the story isn’t blindingly brilliant, no the singing isn’t mindboggling. But it’s all about roaming over Greek islands singing “Dancing Queen” and having a good and carefree time, and we did. My dad sang along. My mother and I cried. I found Shapely Prose’s review very lively and entertaining and it points out many of the reasons the movie does work (but I must include a language warning).

Scheherezade: A Middle Eastern cultural day as part of the festival of Brisbane. Small but colourful and with good food and Balkan dancing, and I sketched and Aimee danced and I sat on a carpet which was wet from the grass beneath and spent the rest of the day wearing my jacket around my waist instead of my arms which were cold.

X-Files – I want to believe: that this could have been a good movie. But it was a very B movie and unrelieved by almost everything that endeared me to the series, and even Skinner’s appearance didn’t help (much). Pretending it bears no relation to the show, it was an alright B movie, if you like groaning every time your predictions are correct.