Super 8 on Saturday 18 June @ Event Cinemas, Sydney City / Bridesmaids on Saturday 25 June @ Event Cinemas, Sydney City

Super 8

I loved this movie!

It promised a return to feel good 1970s family movies with a 21st Century knowing postmodern edge and it didn’t fail to deliver. Media wunderkind, JJ Abrams of LOST and Alias fame, continues to show that spending his childhood in the 70s making Super 8 movies (much like his hero, and now collaborator, Steven Spielberg) was time well spent. His eye for detail, a great story, emotions that spring from genuine interaction between his characters (rather than being manipulated out of you like a mallet flattening steaks for a BBQ, which is all most Hollywood movies can manage these days), and a sense that even when awful danger threatens, that you are going to be safe. Oddly enough that last facet doesn’t take away from the rollercoaster ride of thrills that this movie delights in taking you on, but rather reinforces the sense that you can truly surrender to the events as they happen. Maybe it is like reading the end of the book, and thus being reassured that all will be well come what may, but I prefer to think of it as being safe in a sense of time and place, and knowing that no matter how dark the night, there is a morning coming and somehow it wil be bright and shiny. It harkens back to 1970s innocence, if such a thing ever existed (it did for this Baptist pastor’s son growing up in a loving church family), but updates it all beautifully at the same time without surrendering one ounce of charm or fun.


BRIDESMAIDS

I wanted to love this movie.

But I did not. I walked in, fatally as it turns out, expecting the movie to be every bit as funny as the hype, both commercial and from friends who had seen it, a not unrealistic expectation given that Kristen Wiig is one uber talented funny lady, as is the rest of the cast, but alas it wasn’t.

Oh, it had very funny, very silly moments that descended into the sort of hold-your-sides-laugh-out-loud farce that you get so seldom in movies these days, unless someone British is involved, and I don’t think I will ever forget watching Maya Rudolph’s character sitting in  the gutter evacuating her bowels (yeah it doesn’t sound funny like that!) with her wedding dress folded around her. Somehow the juvenile nature of the humour managed to transcend its puerile gross out base, and I laughed long and loud. But the farcical moments came and went, didn’t lead to ever more silly farcical moments, supplanting them instead with serious characters moments. .

Now there’s nothing wrong with injecting some serious elements into a comedy and it can often work well, rounding out the characters and adding some depth to very silly goings on. But in this instance, it merely resulted in a movie that didn’t really know what it was, or where it was going – was it a gross out comedy? A romantic comedy? A buddy chick flick? I don’t think the writers could decided, and it ended up resulting in a movie with a severe case of Multi Genre Disorder, which left me feeling quite unsatisfied. It’s a real pity since so much of the movie showed real promise and it could have been so much more.

As for everyone else. I have no idea what you were laughing at for so long….


My new favourite Coldplay songs!

I adore Coldplay!

I know some hip snobsters sneer at their mainstream-ness but being the sort of person that rejects snobbery in any and every form, and abhors people who elevate high art over low art – arbitary subjective delineations if ever there was some! – but I love their sense of melody, commitment to intelligent songs and the fact that they are genuinely nice guys committed to ethical and just causes….

……… and thank the musical gods, they have new songs – Major Minus, Cartoon Heart, Hurts Like Heaven, Princess of China and Us Against The World – and while they’re not officially released on an album till November/December this year, they are on YouTube in the form of clips shot at a German music festival recently. My favourites? Cartoon Heart and Major Minus so far but it’s early days yet and I am a sucker for Coldplay’s big emotional ballads.

Oh hell, let’s be honest, they’re all good, and you can’t help but love them! Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRDpd460RN0    (Cartoon Heart)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmuVxphsj20&feature=related  (Us Against the World)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79ojmqJFfR0   (Major Minus)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJCJe8hRFrM   (Princess of China)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koIt2SdGPeU  (Hurts Like Heaven)

Water For Elephants and X Men : First Class (movies) – Sunday 5 June, Sydney City, with my friend Jason

Two great movies but vastly different.

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS is a movie that surprised me completely. I had expected a love story, set in a Depression-era circus travelling across the United States, and while that is in part, largely what I saw, it was also a movie with great cruelty (both to animals and people), sociopathic behaviour (by the circus owner, August, who is emotionally very unstable, and the husband of Reese Witherspoon’s character, Marlena who rides first the horses and then the titular elephant in her act), and great sadness as some unexpectedly terrible things happen.

But overwhelmingly it is a visually lush, emotionally touching movie, that sticks to the premise, however unrealistic, that love will win out over all else. In the case of the characters of this movie, the ‘all else’ towers menacingly above their lives with everyone from Jacob (Robert Pattinson, who apart from being beautiful to look at, brings some impressive acting chops to the role) who loses his parents, his dreams, and any hope of the life he expected in quick succession, to Marlena, who lives with the mercurial and often quite cruel August, simply because he is a better alternative to the foster homes she grew up in where she felt like a nobody, to well almost all the performers and workers in the circus, all of whom love what they do, but always with a eyeon the underlying instability of August’s often despotic rule. But win out, against all these obstacles, it does, even managing to rescue the life of Jacob, who, many years later in his 90s, rejoins the circus to escape his blighted existence in a nursing home.

I loved it from start to finish. A wonderful movie that draws you in, and keeps you there.

From the 1930s, we jumped to the 1940s for this X Men prequel, which does a brilliant job of explaining how the mutants ended up forming into two adversarial camps. Rather than being just another shallow Hollywood blockbuster, more concerned with action and impressive CGI than substantial narrative and well-developed characters, this movie managed to be both  full-on action and tell us story suffused with grey and the ambiguities of life.

From the opening scenes where Erik Lensherr (later Magneto) watches his mother die at the hands of a sadistic concentration camp doctor, and embarks on a life dedicated to protecting who is, and those who follow him from the enemies all around him (real or imagined) at all costs, contrasted beautifully with the life of privilege and learning of the man eventually known as Professor X. The movie leaps from these formative years to the 1960s during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is re-imagined as a nifty piece of alternative history where the mutants sway the course of action, and examines how a hand picked group of mutants came to realise they were different, and how they handled it (some well, some, um, not so well). Yes it is a little bit too earnest at times, but it does a great job of establishing who is who, and why without resorting to too many action movie cliches, and leaving you feeling as if your mind was as engaged as the gee-whiz-look-at-that-explosion part of you.

Hey Dee Dee B!

Dee Dee Bridgewater in concert – Sydney Opera House – Saturday 28 May 2011

Wow! I am not an R & B or Jazz aficionado, and was only here because my R & B devoted Fahmi bought tickets to the concert for my gorgeous guy and I so we could go with him, and so my expectations weren’t high (even though she was singing songs by Billie Holiday, who I love: yes I don’t love R & B or jazz – don’t hate them either – but I adore the Ragtime/Big Band sound…go figure) but man what a dame! Her voice is awesomely good, she made Billie Holiday’s songs her own, had a kickass band, and was funny, down to earth and just plain good fun.

What a wonderful surprise! I must check out more of this fine woman’s work and so should you!