Gatsby is coming!

8 07 2012

I found high-school English to be a scarring experience. I loved reading, I loved books – but I found the deconstruction of books, themes and stories to be soul-destroying, and story-destroying.

Luckily for me, The Great Gatsby was never one of the books on our reading list.

I love Gatsby. I love most of F Scott Fitzgerald’s work, but I particularly love Gatsby. So when I heard it was being made into a movie (again) I was somewhat nervous. Would they destroy it? Would they turn it into a pedestrian work, or a self-conscious “moral of the story” tale of modern morality? Would they try to update it?

Well, I have now seen the trailer and it looks fabulous. All the amazing new-world belle Époque, art deco – it’s all there. One brief trailer and I wished I was there – not just watching the movie, but in the story, in the era. Sigh


Warning: This posting may be damaging to your Johnny Depp fantasies

13 05 2012

For those of us who grew up in the 1980s, the idea of mixing Michael Bolton and Johnny Depp is bizarre.

Michael Bolton: King of mullets (thinning business on top and party halfway down his back). Yacht-rock aficionado (a softer version of stadium-rock, full of overly sentimental lyrics and video clips with wind blowing in the aforementioned-hair). Serial dater of highly decorative women like Nicolette Sheridan (I’m not sure how he achieved this, given afore-mentioned hair, but it was the 1980s.)

Johnny Depp: He is the cheekbones to die for. I vaguely recall dating someone purely on the basis of his Johnny-Depp-cheekbones. 21 Jump Street – the original TV series. And then going into the indi-cred Tim Burton Movies which largely relied on his pathos as a misunderstood freak in an overly-conservative society. And his cheekbones. And the association with Gonzo-journalism (aka drug-addled personal experience stream of consciousness hallucinogenic writing) through his friendship with Hunter S. Thompson.

So these two things would seem to be anathema of each other. However, the below video clip (kindly sent to me by Maggie Wood of Maggie’s Scribbles) shows that this not only works, but is hilarious. Full cred to Michael Bolton who clearly has a sense of humour about himself and his yacht-rock history, and an excellent working in of some of the other iconic movies and cultural references for “people of a certain age” right up to the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

What did we do before You-tube? Enjoy!

Is New Year’s Eve the most disappointing day (night) of the year?

30 12 2011

Is it just me?

Bah Humbug! to New Year’s Eve.

In our collective culture, New Year’s Eve is supposed to be the most exciting party of the year. A night of possibilities, when everyone is celebrating the old year and looking forward to the New Year! In my experience it is an over-hyped fairly ordinary evening where everyone has raised expectations, the streets are crowded with amateur drunks, and it ends with a bang and a fizz – the fireworks display. (I really don’t get the excitement of fireworks displays. A few pretty lights and a display that lasts for ten minutes or so. Sometimes they try to coordinate the lights to the music – but then the bangs aren’t in time. I’d rather watch two minutes of highlights on the news.)

Fireworks audience. photo credit Waldo Jaquith

Decades of movies also celebrate New Year’s Eve’s romantic possibilities – but luckily a few of them show us the down side. Here are a few of the more memorable appearances of New Year’s Eve in movies……to raise and dash your false expectations.

The Godfather II – Michael Corleone discovers his brother Fredo was the one who set him up and gives him the kiss of death. Gotta love a Family NYE party.

The Hucksudder Proxy – Tim Robbins has a New Year’s Eve to forget when he is fired as CEO, finds out his girlfriend is trying to expose him as a fraud, and a board-member was trying to have him committed to an insane asylum. (but it works out OK….) Gotta be up there with all-time BAD NYE.

When Harry met Sally – not the most memorable scene, but the most romantic scene. Heavy with false expectations.

Trading Places – the ummmm non-consentual scene between the man in the gorilla suit and the gorilla……we won’t go there.

About a boy – Hugh Grant meets the woman of his dreams at a New Year’s Eve party. And we know how that turned out. No mug-shots were involved this time.

Bridget Jones’ Diary – Bridget’s New Year’s resolution is to keep a diary. Seems do-able. And she seems to meet her goals. Tick! Mark Darcy. Tick tick!

Sunset Boulevard – faded movie star Norma Desmond attempts suicide when her toyboy gigolo leaves to attend a friends’ New Year’s Eve party. Seriously Norma, it was probably a pretty crap party. This is a serious over-reaction to being stood up.

The Poseidon Adventure – well, we all know what happened there, don’t we? It was a wash-out. (OK, I couldn’t resist the pun and I accept it probably isn’t original.)

Boogie Nights – New Year’s Party ends with a triple-homicide

Ocean’s 11 – the gang plans a robbery on New Year’s Eve by blowing up an electrical transmission tower at midnight and blacking out the city. No-one will notice a power blackout in the middle of the night on the one night of the year when the majority of the population is awake at midnight? Will they?

Forrest Gump – apparently there is a New Year’s scene (1971) which is pretty depressing but with the uplifting tail that this movie seems to have. I don’t know, I didn’t watch it. But I recognise that pretty much everyone else in the western world has seen (and apparently loves) this movie.

And now, the much-hyped New Year’s Eve (the movie). Can’t say I am racing to see this one – it seems to be a remake of Love Actually and Valentine’s Day – mix and match ensemble of big-name actors for multiple small parts, a handful of stories so surely one story will hit the mark with everyone who watches it, and make sure there are over-wrought tears and uplifting but unlikely happy endings.

So is it just me? or did I just get out of bed in a grumpy mood today.

Life in 3D

14 11 2011

photo credit: RCabanilla

Have you noticed, almost every movie comes out in a 3D version now? Particularly children’s movies. Which makes a family outing to the cinema even more expensive. And it’s not like the adults can have the normal version and the children can go 3D – if you are going to sit together then it is one or the other. And you know which one the children pick – the one with the novelty value, the one the advertising tells them is better, the 3D version.

Personally, I could care less. After the initial novelty of something appearing to leap from the screen aimed straight for your head, I barely notice the difference. Does it make my movie experience better? No. I have uncomfortable glasses perched on my nose and I don’t see any benefit in terms of picture or experience quality.

In fact I think the adverts make use of the 3D technology better than the movies. The other place where it really works is in theme parks. Somehow on those short rides where they show you a 5 or 10 minute film clip to go along with the experience – those movies are focussed on using the 3D technology. The other movies are focussed on telling the story, and occasionally they remember to use the 3D to get a gasp from the audience. It all seems a little superfluous, a little fake and pointless.

I do have friends who swear by it. I think they pick what they want to see based on the availability of 3D.

So is it just me? Is there something wrong with my eyesight / brain that is over-riding the amazing revolutionary mind-blowing technological experience of 3D? Or is it just another gimmick?

I don’t see us getting 3D TV any time soon.

Disaster movies (yawn)

14 11 2011

photo credit: andrewsrj

I am over disaster movies. Whether it be alien invasion, impending asteroid, severe climate change, tidal wave, earthquake, epidemic, zombies, plane crash, world taken over by machines – they are all the same. Often they are just remakes of previous disaster movies as well.

Unfortunately there are people in my houshold who have not suffered through three or four decades of this tired old plot. These people think the movies are new and exciting. Hence I am occasionally subjected to one of these little horrors.

Opening Scene: Introduction of family / young couple in love / idyllic town / business.

(Me = YAWN!)

Impending Doom Scene: Someone knows that a disaster is about to occur. No-one will listen to them as they become more and more desperate, trying to get their message out. (Hello, Harold Camping, purveyor of Rapture dates.) You are required at this point to suspend disbelief no matter how outrageous the plot device. The romantic subplot will have a silly misunderstanding here that alienates our two heroes – about something trivial, nothing serious that the audience might take sides in.

(Me = Dawning of horrific feeling of deja vu. Part of my brain is going to sleep in self-defense. How did I end up in front of this same movie again?)

Beginning of Disaster Scene: – the “disaster” begins. People react in horror and fear, desperately trying to run or hide. Our heroes are semi-prepared and also start to run and hide, but they are more logical and strategic than the panicked masses. There may be an evil person here who will try to hoard resources to save themselves at this point. This is different to what our heroes are doing. Don’t worry, a very special death has been reserved for the evil person towards the end of the movie. Insert alarmed scientist who shows a map of how the entire world is being affected by this disaster (makes the movie more relevant and therefore more saleable around the world).

(Me = PLEASE let it be over soon! Another part of my brain has petrified from boredom.)

photo credit: Abode of Chaos

Mid-Disaster: Complete chaos. Lots of panicky running around by unnamed masses who are probably computer generated. Random things occur, cars fly across the screen and crash onto crowds of apparently disposable people. While monster feet crash down, tidal rushes swamp cities, earthquake ravines open up in roadways swallowing buildings and cars, and running crowds are crushed by toppling buildings (for which we barely pause – no sympathy there for the masses), our individual heroes are seen doing heroic things to save each other (rarely do they save anyone else). About this time someone gets lost or communication is cut off and everyone presumes this means they are dead. This is the bit where the special effects guys get to show their stuff, and you know they had a great time with it. The writers on the other hand have resorted to the formulaic “Hold on, Timmy, I’m coming to save you! Just hold on!” (close up of little Timmy’s hands slowly letting go of whatever tenuous grip he has as he dangles over a canyon – his fingers slowly release their grip just as our hero grabs his wrist and pulls him to safety. Cue triumphant music.) Someone else gets rescued from peril by their estranged husband / coworker that they alway had a crush on, etc, which results in a touching scene where they are reconciled.

(Me = the special effects are interesting – what will they do with the Eiffel Tower and the Capital Building this time? – but the story line (complete with dramatic music score trying to manipulate your emotions) iS dull and predictable.)

photo credit: Abode of Chaos

Disaster Ending: Our heroes have miraculously all survived. The person/s whose communication got cut off and was presumed dead has also miraculously survived and we get to see when they meet up again and realise they are all alright. It is as if Lazarus has risen from the dead again! There may be a sunrise about here accompanied by some uplifting violins.

(Me = nauseated by the schmalzy fake emotions that these movies seem to sell, the fake happy endings – lets forget that millions have perished, the five people whose names we know have all survived!.

Alright – so now you know the plot, no matter what the disaster, can we send a message to Hollywood that these are BORING, FORMULAIC movies? I think what I find particularly objectionable about these movies is the prepackaged and processed “moral of the story” aspects. The evil person gets their comeuppance. Love triumphs. The good people survive (at least the ones we know – there is no comment on whether the masses that perish are representatives of some modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, or just cannon-fodder for our latter-day tale of simplistic morals.) Misunderstandings are resolved. At the end, a new day dawns and hope remains.

And my brain has crystallised in the course of an hour and a half.

photo credit: