September Short Reviews of Everything Except Books

Tropic Thunder. (Last month’s, but I missed including it). One of those movies I can’t enjoy for a few reasons, but much of which I enjoyed. Most of that enjoyment centred around Robert Downey Jr – I love seeing actors playing “serious” characters mocking themselves (Extras has redeemed a few in my eyes), and it cracked me up watching him overdo the facial tics and movements I had noticed over several watchings of Iron Man.

Not Quite Hollywood. Well. The first fifth was sex scenes from ’70s movies and I didn’t actually look at the screen much. I am glad I stayed though, because the rest was brilliant, one of those generous, outrageous documentaries rich with clips and anecdotes and glimpses of pulp Australian movies I would really like to see (especially The Howling III: The Marsupials heheh), and “Quentin Tarantino: Fan” waxing lyrical over them. I can’t recommend the documentary, thanks to the first part, but I wouldn’t mind having a movie night based on some of the contents.

In Bruge. My sister said the language in this one didn’t count because of the accents. And it was a beautiful, bizarre, hilarious little movie – like Lock, Stock etc, but pretty.

Son of Rambow. A lovely, funny movie about two primary school boys, one raised strictly and without television (Plymouth Brethren) and one a delinquent who decide to film a sequel to Rambo. It was full of adventure, strange French exchange students and flying guide dogs, and felt in some respects like remembered children’s novels, but never like a children’s movie. It was set in the ’80s, too, and the best scene takes place in the senior common-room: it is shot just like all those parties to which previously uncool kids get invited and initiated into drugs and alcohol and tattoos, except the drugs were popping gum and scented erasers and the tattoos were temporary, and the dancing was to Michael Jackson. I would watch the movie again anyway, but also for this scene.

Picasso and His Collection. I went to see this on its last day, and am glad I did. I am less of a Picasso fan than an appreciator, but seeing influences and cross-references and sketches and exchanges between dozens of artists was fabulous. My favourite was the Bakst costume sketch (top left):

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The Mummy 3. One good thing: Michelle Yeoh. Awesome, awesome fighting clothes. I want to have greying hair and take on zombie hordes and wear green silk culottes. The rest was dreadful. Oh, except the Yetis. They were unexpectedly kind of cool.

Wall-E. Really, really frustrating movie because I keep wanting to quote it and can’t. There was barely any dialogue! But intelligent (if occasionally problematic) and sweet and lovingly detailed: my favourite feature of Pixar films are the tiny surprises, Wall-E’s collections, the details of mechanisation, the beauty in small and ugly things.

Tattersalls Landscape Art Exhibition. This is on annually in the foyer of our  building and RachelT came over to spend a lunch hour wandering around with me, critiquing and admiring and getting lost in paintings and speculating what we would buy if we had a spare $10k, and what sort of architecture you would need to carry them off.

Holly Throsby Concert. Here are Deb and I – I was not quite as awake as I may seem in this picture. I do not have the constitution for concerts, and it was very nice that Holly Throsby told everyone to sit back down on the floor once she finally got on stage, so we could stay on our sofa and watch and I could try to stay awake by only closing one eye at a time, because it was very enjoyable and I like her music and it was a good concert.

April Short Movie Reviews – this time with footnotes

Horton Hears a Who – Not good. It was full of pop-culture allusions and while I really, really like heavily allusive works (from Pratchett to T. S. Eliot to Brothers Grimm), these were so pointless it felt as if the movie existed to enhance the allusions and not the other way around (also, it didn’t enhance them and did more disservice to the things alluded to – alludees? – than it did to Horton). Except for the Emo-Who, which still cracks me up. It was ugly and ungainly (especially the kangaroo who freaked me out) and pretty much ignored anyone potentially interesting (the kids, Morton, the Mayor’s 99 daughters). Oh yes, and only boys can save the world. Things I liked: Morton, the character design of JoJo, the bits Shaun Tan did. Something I found written in my notebook later: Was Men In Black a reworking of Horton Hears a Who? Think it over.*

Supanova – First time. Had fun. Jewel Stait was interesting and amusing, Michael Winslow was very funny and had a polished performance with amazing vocal sound effects. Some great costumes (heavy on the anime repeats, but the less-replicated steampunk pieces were very cool, as was the individual in Star Wars camouflage hiding in the bushes). I might dress up next year but most fun was drawing the other attendees.

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Spiderwick (twice) – Not perfect, but not bad. I liked the flawed characters, the actors, and Mallory, the overbearing, strong-minded, sword-wielding older sister was pretty cool. Unfortunately it did get a little too sentimental at times (out of keeping with the rest of the film) and was another victim of the inexplicable genre of wanton destruction of beautiful houses.

One Man Star Wars – Fun for the nostalgia** and to watch anyone do this. It was a bit pricey for what it was, but too long to have been a comedy club act, so I won’t complain. It is certainly worth seeing and I hope he tours One Man Lord of the Rings here.

The Other Boleyn Girl – Pretty, pretty dresses. Pretty scenes. Pretty light. Pretty much a tudor-inspired soap opera. And very, very heavy on the foreshadowing (oh please – is this the third chicken we have seen having its head chopped off in preparation for dinner while the King arrives, in case we didn’t get it the first time?)***. Still, Deb and I had gone on purpose to mock and we didn’t much, so it was better than we expected. Highlight: In the first scene in the King’s chambers Deb started singing “Love shack” and at the end of the credits that was the song which came over the cinema radio!

Matchbox 20 (with Thirsty Merc supporting) – My sister lent me her Matchbox 20 CDs a while ago and to my surprise I knew every song on them. In order. Turns out they were big when I was at boarding school and, along with Sarah McLachlan were part of my first exposure to popular music****. And since they have some memorable, iconic, singable songs and I knew the words (which usually makes concerts better) I enjoyed it very much. My favourite part was when they covered ‘Under the Milky Way Tonight’. Thirsty Merc opened and they were… oh, I like their sound and their hair, both of which is a bit old-rock, but most of their songs are just too sentimental. Also, we were near the front and drinks and finger food at the bar were included in our tickets and we drew pictures of each other, so it was a pretty good night all up. Thanks for the tickets, M&J, sorry you had to go on a cruise:)

The TruthBrisbane Arts Theatre’s annual play based on a Pratchett Novel. This year it was The Truth^. Otto Chriek stole the scene hands-down. Although so did Sacharissa and Otto (“Please! Not to breath like that!”) and Gaspode and Foul Ole Ron… and I fell for William^^ just a little bit. The theatre is small and the sets are basic (well, they were. Now the one set is quite elaborate). Yes there is a person dressed as a dog with a cigarette in his mouth and, at one point, a tutu. Yes, the opening music was ‘Good News Week’. And it rocked and was hilarious and caught the book brilliantly. Moveable type is now my new hero^^^, maybe even up there with the Rule of Law. I did wonder if they would cut Otto Chriek’s periodic evaporations (he is a vampire photographer with an unfortunate reaction to bright lights) but they changed it for the stage and his histrionics were effective and regularly startling. And Pratchett Does Allusions Well.

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*And while you do, check out these reviews for some interesting angles on the movie: Gender inequity in Whoville, and Horton hears a racist.

**Even if mine doesn’t go back that far. In year 11 I had a weekly “gifted and talented” class. The teacher asked me what I wanted to do and I said (1) use the internet and (2) “Watch Star Wars”, so she showed me how to use the computer in the library, and borrowed the original trilogy from the video store. I got to watch them back at the boarding house because it was, technically, homework :) Unfortunately, she borrowed the last two out of order.^^^^

***Confession: I had to ask Deb which number this queen was just to double-check her fate. I can’t remember the names, just the fates: “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”. It’s a bit like Dubček. I could never remember his name, so I used to walk around in year 12 saying “How much dub could a dubček ček ček if a dubček could ček dub,” and now that’s all I remember about him.

****Also Pauline Pantsdown. Oh, and Alannis Morissette, but that was a really, really bad first experience and took me a long time to get over.

^… shall make you fret.

^^William: “Hold on, hold on, there must be a law against killing lawyers.”
Goodmountain: “Are you sure?”
William: “There’re still some around, aren’t there?”

^^^There was a BBC documentary on this with Stephen Fry, one hour, all on You-tube, but it’s gone now. If you get the chance, watch it, if only for seeing how a wooden counterthread for a screw is carved by hand and Stephen Fry behaving like a complete fanboy over the reconstructed press (“a most satisfactory object”).

^^^^Han shot first.