Once … twice .. thrice more through the all-new renovated Stargate

(image via Stargare Wikia)
(image via Stargare Wikia)

 

It’s renovation time at the Stargate my friends!

But lest this conjures up images of Daniel Jackson, Colonel O’Neill and Apophis rolling up their sleeves and giving the Ancients-spawned wormhole-creating devices a good old sand back and re-paint, let me assure you that what is really afoot is a re-boot.

Yes indeed, the Stargate franchise has finally attracted the attention of the powers that be, and is being given another re-imagined lease on life, the kind that has seen Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and countless more creative cinema dynasties march boldly back into the zeitgeist.

It’s hardly a surprise in one way given original director Roland Emmerich, who will step back into the same role for the new trilogy along with longtime collaborator Dean Devlin who will produce, had this to say at the 2013 Hero Complex Film Festival:

“It doesn’t go to me unnoticed that most movies are sequels, the successful ones are all sequels or superhero movies. [Stargate is] such a beloved film and you could do it so much better now as such a bigger idea… I have really a great idea how to redo this and in this first part plan certain ideas and things which kind of point to number two and three. It would be a great trilogy.” (source: La Times)

But having a hankering to do something in Hollywood, and actually getting the greenlight, and yes money, to do it are two completely different things.

 

 

It now appears that Emmerich’s desire to re-visit Stargate, armed of course with dazzling advances in CGI and some exciting new ideas, and the studios willingness to hand over the cash has aligned perfectly and we can look forward to more galaxy-spanning mythos-laden adventures.

Quite whether this will involve any of the original cast or follow on from the already-existing Stargate canon is unclear.

Stargate, which follows the adventures of joint scientific/military expeditions into the heavens thanks to the discovery of an ancient device capable of spanning whole galaxies with a single stable wormhole, has spawned an entire universe of its own since the release of the original movie back in 1994, and while Star Trek and Star Wars have shown that a new riff on the existing theme doesn’t have to slavishly adhere to what has gone before, you’d like to think that some nod will be given to the hard work done by those who followed in Emmerich’s wake.

It would be a shame to just cast aside Stargate SG1

 

 

And Stargate Atlantis

 

 

And Stargate Universe

 

 

And yes even an animated series Stargate Infinity

 

 

But then if they do it right, it could give the franchise a whole new thrilling series of exciting and visually exciting new stories to tell and that can only be a good thing!

(source: Cnet and Hero Complex LA Times)

Weekend pop art: When books and nail art brilliantly and beautifully collide

Weekend pop art books on nails
(Book published by Dutton; nails via & (c) celinedoesnails.tumblr.com)

 

Ask anyone who reads a lot of books what they love about them and they’ll likely tell you it’s the immersive worlds you are subsumed into, the vivid characters, the sense of escape into someone else’s life, the joy/the sadness/the exhilaration of being someone else for a while, the exotic worlds you get to travel to … the list goes on and on and on.

An answer that you’re unlikely to get from most people is that it makes fantastically imaginative nail art.

But as these examples, and a whole heap more at Buzzfeed, make clear, there are people for whom that is very much the case, who love fashioning their favourite book into stunning nail art that is both beautiful and a public statement of their literary devotion.

The intricacy and colours of the artwork is impressive in every instance, and apart from being beautiful to admire, they no doubt inspire untold numbers of people  to go and check out books that otherwise might have passed them by.

It’s a win-win on every level and proof that you can bring the escapist richness of your reading experience back into the every day world with you.

Check out a whole host of other designs at Buzzfeed.

 

(image via and (c) workplaypolish.com)
(image via and (c) workplaypolish.com)

 

(Book published by Random House and nails via and (c) creativenaildesignbysue.com)
(Book published by Random House and nails via and (c) creativenaildesignbysue.com)

 

(image via & (c) Chalkboard Nails)
(image via & (c) Chalkboard Nails)

 

(Book published by Scholastic and image via Instagram)
(Book published by Scholastic and image via Instagram)

 

 

 

Movie review: My Sweet Pepper Land

(image via Impawards)
(image via Impawards)

 

It could be said, in what is admittedly a gross simplification, that the world is divided into two diametrically opposed groups – aspiring idealists who believe they can make a real difference to the world in which they live, and cynical pragmatists who see no hope for society’s redemption, and simply make the best of a bad situation.

Kurdish director Hiner Saleem brings these two polar opposites together to great effect in his new film My Sweet Pepperland, which deftly mixes the grim yet hopeful political realities of trying to forge a new society in northern Iraq in the aftermath of the war to topple Saddam Hussein, with age-old social proprieties, power struggles, and the odd Elvis tune or two.

Unexpectedly channeling the spirit of old Clint Eastwood Westerns, where the lone idealistic hero often stood bravely and resolutely against the full force of the established, often corrupt order, Saleem brings the semi-ordered chaos of Iraqi Kurdistan to life in all its bizarre and yet engaging complexities.

Here, in a land where those who inherited the mantle of leadership are struggling to work out what form this brave new world of theirs should take – one without many of the apparatus that we take for granted such as a fully functioning judicial system or jail, leading to the darkly0humoured, farcically-botched hanging scene that ushers in the film – men like ex-resistance fighter and now policeman, Baran (Korkmaz Aslan) are doing to their best to give their idealistic principles flesh and blood reality.

 

With the bridge to the town bombed out by Turkey, seeking to limit the movement of Kurdish fighters in the area, Govend, clad in her evocative colbacco fur hat, is forced to accept a life on horseback from Baran, an act fraught with all manner of social implications which are later used against them both (image via SBS Australia)
With the bridge to the town bombed out by Turkey (seeking to limit the movement of Kurdish fighters in the area) Govend, clad in her evocative colbacco fur hat, is forced to accept a life on horseback from Baran, an act fraught with all manner of social implications which are later used against them both (image via SBS Australia)

 

So too is single school teacher Govend (Golshifteh Farahani, who has presence to burn) who journeys to Qamarian on the border with Turkey, the small two phone town that Baran, seeking a quieter life, has been posted to, in order to make sure that the next generation are educated and given as full a chance as possible to be a part of this new Kurdistan, whatever form it takes.

Alas, for all their idealism and good intentions, the town is not forgiving enough to let them simply get on with it, and they find themselves, both individually and later together as a slow burning friendship and then romance develops between them, facing off against the old order which takes the form of local warlord Aziz Aga (Tarik Akreyî) who has made quite a success of playing off every side in the conflict to his own benefit, and is used to getting his own way.

Needless to say, he does not take kindly to either Baran’s stubborn adherence to the rule of law and his willingness to back that up with force as needed, or Govend’s refusal to simply pack up and leave when Aziz Aga’s goons, led by Tajdin (Mir Murad Bedirxan), decree she is a “slut” and must go (the sleazy campaign to malign her is based on gossip and innuendo and nothing else).

The Mexican standoff which then develops, rendered with as much surreal humour as gritty realpolitik and brutal violence by Saleem, forms the dramatic backbone of My Sweet Pepperland, which presents a beguiling and beautiful Kurdistan – the cinematography by Pascal Auffray is simply stunning, giving the land both allure and menace all at once – as well as one riven by ugly, old historical realities.

 

The luminous, rugged beauty of Kurdistan, which promises a form of paradise on earth, comes hard up against a society that is torn awkwardly and then violently between the old and the new (image via Cranes Are Flying)
The luminous, rugged beauty of Kurdistan, which promises a form of paradise on earth, comes hard up against a society that is torn awkwardly and then violently between the old and the new; one which Baran and his skittish deputy Reber (Suat Usta) do their best to navigate (image via Cranes Are Flying)

 

Its this marriage of delightful farce – the scene where Govend’s over-protective horde of brothers won’t let their fiercely independent sister out of their sight is priceless, as are constant visual references to the gallery of former dead police chiefs, all victims of Aziz Aga’s brutal rule – and drama that makes the film, named after the rough-and ready bar that is the centre of town life, such a compelling viewing experience.

You are left in no doubt that a war still wages between the conservative old forces whose only concern is the maintenance of their stranglehold on power and the money and status it affords them – in Aziz Aga’s case from smuggling drugs and arms into Turkey and Iran, which earns him the ire of an all-female Kurdish resistance unit who are woefully under-used in the film’s only weak spot – and the new guard represented by the piercing resolute eyes of Baran and the gutsy tenacity of Govend.

There is no happy ending promised of course since these kinds of cultural and political battles rarely end in happily-ever-after moments, usually settling into simmering guerilla skirmishes that benefit no one, least of all the society in which they take place, but Baran and Govend are determined to what they can, for as long as they can, to bring about whatever change is possible.

The ambiguous ending reflects this agonising limbo between the idealistic new and the cynical old to perfection, acknowledging that while gains might be made, that there will be losses too.

For all its embracing of the harsh realities of life on the ground, My Sweet Pepperland impressively never loses its sense of humour, its hankering for visual slapstick of a sort, and even its whimsical sense of the surreality with Baran’s love of “Elvis, Johann Sebastien Bach and Mozart” providing a jaunty soundtrack to a movie that by rights should be weighed down by the largely intransigent nature of the society in which it takes place.

Thanks to Saleem’s well-judged eye for balancing the theatre of the absurd with an appreciation of the realpolitik and cultural conservatism that anchors most societies, My Sweet Pepperland emerges as an engagingly vivid representation of a society caught in transition, unsure of whether to move forward with the idealists or stick with the devil it knows.

 

 

The eyes have it: The Strain infecting a TV near you soon

(image via Hey U Guys)
(image via Hey U Guys)

 

SNAPSHOT
The Strain is a high concept thriller that tells the story of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll), the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself. (synopsis via Hey U Guys)

It looks like being afraid, very afraid, of teeny-tiny things we cannot see is the order of the day when it comes to TV thrillers.

Be it the nanites of NBC’s recently-cancelled apocalyptic drama Revolution, or the human re-engineering viruses of Helix or The Walking Dead, TV’s storytellers are finding much to fear in the invisible things we cannot see.

And now we have The Strain, an utterly original take on the vampire genre, from co-creators by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy) and crime novelist Chuck Hogan, which unnervingly bundles in tales of Dracula’s spawn with a viral outbreak that threatens to wipe out humanity in one fell blood-curdling swoop.

Based on a trilogy of graphic novels by del Toro and Hogan, you can forget the True Blood or Twilight riff on the vampiric undead as hipster-like arbiters of the cool and the avant garde who just happen to want to feed on you.

Instead these nightmarish creatures, controlled by someone called Sardu or the Master – there’s always a creepy puppeteer-like figure isn’t there? – are created by a worm-like parasite that burrows into the eyeball and begin a transformation process which leaves the hosts with a stinger that pops out of their throat at the slightest provocation, and a complexion that devolves into monstrously decayed over time.

In other words, the longer the worm or strigoi, which freakishly can exist outside the host for a period of time meaning you can become infected even with no vampires present, is in a host, the less and less human they become.

 

Sean Astin as Jim Kent, Mia Maestro as Nora Martinez, Cory Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather. (image via Spoiler TV (c) Michael Gibson/FX)
Sean Astin as Jim Kent, Mia Maestro as Nora Martinez, Cory Stoll as Ephraim Goodweather. (image via Spoiler TV (c) Michael Gibson/FX)

 

Completely creeped out and reaching for a blanket to hide behind yet?

It sounds like you should be, or at the very least reaching for a good hand disinfectant, and a clusterbomb full of some aggressively sterilising biological agent.

With Carlton Cuse (Lost) onboard as showrunner, FX’s willingness to push the boundaries on the shows it screens (think American Horror Story, Justified etc.) and del Toro’s track record in particular of being perfectly willing to scare the bejeezus out of audiences whenever possible, The Strain is going to be a white knuckle ride into some very scary storytelling indeed.

All of which could mean we won’t just be running from zombies, and nanites with atttitude but tiny little worms with a frightening agenda and a hideous idea of what makes up the “body beautiful”.

Just how freaked out you should be will be come readily apparent when the 13 episodes run of The Strain premieres on FX in July 2014.

(source: Screenrant)

 

 

Movie review: Chinese Puzzle (Casse-tête chinois)

(image via Coming Soon)
(image via Coming Soon)

 

For a movie that pivots, philosophically at least, around the fact that life is best lived in its moments of searing drama, a conceit dreamt up by the editor of Xavier (Romain Dupris), a successful novelist billed as the “next Proust”, Chinese Puzzle is largely a bubbly, whimsical New York-based slice of life that can’t help but warm the heart.

Now nearing 40, and divorced from his English wife Wendy (Kelly Reilly), life is not as carefree for the happy-go-lucky Xavier, a man who admits he has changed directions one too many times in life, resulting in a life that is a “f**king mess”, the chinese puzzle of the title.

Initially, as he reels from his divorce, and the moving of his ex-wife and much loved kids Tom (Pablo Mugnier-Jacob) and Mia (Margaux Mansart) to New York so Wendy can marry wealthy John (Peter Hermann), he is inclined to wonder if life hasn’t fallen down some irredeemable hole from which there is no digging out, and whether his editor is right after all, both about his life and his new book.

None of this sits uncomfortably with the broken-hearted but eternally optimistic Xavier, who takes off for a new life in New York almost overnight, joining his BFF Isabelle (Cécile De France), who is pregnant with his baby, and her Chinese-American girlfriend Ju (Sandrine Holt) in their loft, and doing his best to fashion a life that isn’t defined by what he is lost.

The third instalment in Cédric Klapisch’s trilogy – L’Auberge Espagnole (Spanish Apartment, 2002) and Russian Dolls (2005) saw the meeting and the settling down of Xavier’s extended clan of close friends which includes Martine (Audrey Tautou), his romantic interest from the first film – Chinese Puzzle is all about what happens when the gloss has worn off life and you have to deal with the tarnished tangle that remains.

 

Xavier thinks he has lost it all but bit by bit he claws back that which he lost and gains a whole lot more besides (image via official Chinese Puzzle site (c) Cohen Media Group)
Xavier thinks he has lost it all but bit by bit he claws back that which he lost and gains a whole lot more besides (image via official Chinese Puzzle site (c) Cohen Media Group)

 

While that may all sound a bit grim and intensely introspective, fitting in a way since Xavier is joined in key moments of anguish by philosophers Schopenhauer and Hegel who dispense wise-sounding but ultimately meaningless pieces of advice – Klapisch’s engagingly frothy and light film, which isn’t without its moments of requisite tension, concerns itself mostly with moving on rather than wallowing in existential misery.

In quick order, Xavier assumes a week on, week off custody arrangement for the kids with Wendy, gets an off-the-grid job as a bike messenger, moves into Ju’s unoccupied apartment in Chinatown, and marries the bubbly niece, Nancy (Li Jun Li) of a Chinese taxi driver, who he saves from a brutal bashing by an enraged deliveryman.

So far, so good.

It’s hardly ideal in one sense, since Xavier still feels as if he cobbling together a whole lot of Band-Aided solutions to a life that still feels worryingly impermanent and adrift, but he makes the most of it, taking New York to his heart, and growing steadily happier, much to his editor’s chagrin (he is after a tear-soaked dramatic new novel not a light happy tome).

 

Can you back to what you had in life and give it a new lease of meaning? Martine believes so and eventually convinces Xavier of this truth (image via official Chinese Puzzle site (c) Cohen Media Group)
Can you back to what you had in life and give it a new lease of meaning? Martine believes so and eventually convinces Xavier of this truth (image via official Chinese Puzzle site (c) Cohen Media Group)

 

It’s the arrival of Martine, first for a high level business meeting and then for a longer stay over summer, that starts to cement all these polyglot pieces into place.

As Xavier and Martine toy with the idea of whether you can truly go back to what you had, and make it work in the present – no prizes to anyone with even a passing familiarity with rom-com tropes whether they answer in the affirmative or not – and their lives begin to link inextricably with the zealously chaotic but fundamentally alive city around them (this is New York as the cradle of The American Dream), life begins to look a little less like the disaster that Xavier briefly assumed it was destined to be.

Unencumbered by a heavy-handed or meaningful narrative, Klapisch main goal with Chinese Puzzle is to explore what happens when all the endless optimism of youth is expended and life has taken more than its pound of flesh from you.

What do you do then? Give in to soulless misery, assuming the best is behind you? Or race off into the future once again, trusting that if following your heart has worked for you once, it will work again?

 

Back together again, Isabelle, Xavier, Wendy and Martine discover that the ties that bind aren't easy to loose and that you'd be mad if you tried (image via official Chinese Puzzle site (c) Cohen Media Group)
Back together again, Isabelle, Xavier, Wendy and Martine discover that the ties that bind aren’t easy to loose and that you’d be mad if you tried (image via official Chinese Puzzle site (c) Cohen Media Group)

 

Thankfully, the film doesn’t pretend that any of this is easy to bring about.

The costs to Xavier are both financial and existential at times as he deals with looming poverty, half-arsed lawyers and immigration officials trying to verify the validity of his Greencard marriage, not to mention being complicit in the covering up Isabelle’s affair with their daughter’s babysitter Isabelle (Flora Bonaventura) which results in a half-realised farcical scene towards the end of the movie when all parties converge on Xavier’s small, cramped apartment.

Burt ultimately, the message, much to the dislike of Xavier’s editor, is that rebirth is possible, that its still worth taking some chances no matter how worn down you might feel, and that the ties of family and friends are never really loosed, no matter how far you might venture from home.

 

 

 

Who doesn’t want to be part of The Grand Seduction?

(image via Indiewire)
(image via Indiewire)

 

SNAPSHOT
In “The Grand Seduction,” the only hope for the tiny outport of Tickle Head is a new Petrochemical plant, but in order to qualify for the bid they need to prove they have a resident doctor. When fate sends Dr. Paul Lewis (Kitsch) their way, unemployed fisherman Murray French (Gleeson) mobilizes the town to do everything they can to convince the fast living, jazz loving, cricket playing doctor that their sleepy harbour is a paradise tailor-made just for him. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

For all my widely and oft-repeated love of gritty indie fare and big blockbuster sci-fi, there is a significant place in my heart for movies that some might dismiss as twee or cute.

And frankly I care not.

For movies like The Grand Seduction, which looks like an entrancing and hilarious mix of The Full Monty‘s authentically working class humour and worldview, Men in Tall Trees/Eureka/Northern Exposure‘s quirky village life and even a smidge of This is Jinsy‘s delightfully surreal weirdness, are a balm for the soul, and a far more rewarding viewing experience than the cool kids will ever accede to.

There is for instance, a richness of humanity that percolates through movies like this.

Sure the inhabitants are awash in more idiosyncrasies and neuroses that you could poke a therapist’s pad at, and the innocent abroad, who for one reason or another has fallen into their benign clutches, there to be played with for ripe comic effect like a punchlined lamb to the slaughter, is soon in for a rude awakening.

But you know that all will end well, that the object of the villager’s stalking/charm offensive will be won over, that they will realise their life is infinitely better where they are than where they were, and that everyone will end up happily ever after.

And you know what? I am totally fine with that.

 

The townspeople of Tickle Head do everything in their power to convince the good doctor to stick around, including gathering intel from his phone conversations to people back home (image via vvcnetwork.ca)
The townspeople of Tickle Head do everything in their power to convince the good doctor to stick around, including gathering intel from his phone conversations to people back home (image via vvcnetwork.ca)

 

Another thing that I love about films like The Grand Seduction, if they’re done well and it looks like it is, thanks to Michael Drowse and Ken Scott, is that the writers have to craft their characters superbly well from the get go if we’re to truly identity with them and enjoy the hilarious antics that ensue at their hands.

Poorly drawn characters usually equals belaboured and even more contrived scenarios than are already the case and then all the charm in the world can’t save the film from sinking beneath the forced humour that results.

Maybe these kinds of films are a cinematic comfort food of sorts are some sneeringly allege but that doesn’t they’re not expertly written, beautifully directed stories that restore a little bit of faith in the often tattered reputation of humanity.

And besides, cinema should be just as much about escape as it is about heartfelt biopics or unfailing realistic dramas, both of which I also love, and it looks The Grand Seduction, is going to be a very fine escape indeed.

The Grand Seduction has just opened in USA with UK to follow on 29 August 2014. (No dates for Australia just yet.)

 

 

 

Zoom into superhero action with Big Hero 6

(image via Sci Fi Now)
(image via Sci Fi Now)

 

SNAPSHOT
Set in a fictional metropolis called San Fransokyo (a portmanteau of San Francisco and Tokyo), a young prodigy named Hiro Hamada and his self-created robot Baymax uncover a criminal plot and must join a team of inexperienced crime fighters,[8] including Wasabi-No-Ginger, Honey Lemon, GoGo Tomago, and Fred. (synopsis via Wikipedia)

The first trailer released for Disney’s Big Hero 6 is hands down the funniest, mirth-inducing, thigh-slappingly hilarious thing I have watched in some time.

Watching Hiro do his best to fit his newly designed futuristic outfit onto Baymax, the ill-at-ease, comically-awkward robot he has created, is all kinds of heartwarming sweetness, dorky enthusiasm and sheer, teeth-gritting tenacity.

And very, VERY funny.

In common with just about all of Marvel’s properties, I haven’t had much exposure to Big Hero 6 up to this point – I wasn’t much of a superhero nerd as a child save for mainly for Marvel’s rival DC’s properties like Batman, Superman, Aquaman and the Justice League – but it does look like it possesses, in stupendous measure, the gleeful sense of humour that percolates through some of its other creations like Guardians of the Galaxy and Iron Man.

And, not to take sides here, but that could be why I love the Marvel properties so much more than DC now.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the intensity and grittiness of Christopher Nolan’s Batman or the hand on his heart gee whiz goodness of Superman but there’s something about the impish streak running through all of Marvel’s films, and yes even their TV offerings Agents of SHIELD, that draws me in.

I think because it’s more realistic, if you can say that about alien god-like beings from another realm (Thor) or pumped-up musclemen who can leap from planes with just a shield and no parachute (Captain America), to have moments of levity in amongst all the intense dramatic action and Marvel recognises that and makes it work.

 

Hiro Hamada and his robot Baymax (image via Moviefone (c) Disney/Marvel)
Hiro Hamada and his robot Baymax (image via Moviefone (c) Disney/Marvel)

 

Of course, long before they acquired Marvel, Disney had a well-established penchant for imbuing their characters with  mischievous leanings with pretty much all of their movies having at least one character who provided comic relief, or  came armed intensity-leavening quips, or a propensity for goofy tension-reducing antics.

Think Olaf or Sven in Disney’s recent mega-hit Frozen,  Genie in Aladdin or Sebastian in The Little Mermaid, and or indeed, the original goofiest one of them all, Goofy himself.

Disney has a gift for throwing humour in where it’s most needed and using it well so it stands to reason that Big Hero 6 would be allowed to go with its natural comedic DNA, much like they’re allowing with Guardians of the Galaxy.

Laughs aside though, what makes Big Hero 6 truly appealing is the friendship between sweet, awkward Baymax and his creator Hiro, something that Chris Williams, one of the directors of the film along with Don Hall, told Yahoo Movies is very much front and centre as well:

“Hiro wants to take the healing, loving, guileless nurse robot and turn it into a mechanized warrior. That’s sort of the backbone of the film.”

So there you have it – a beguiling mix of superhero derring-do action, delightful humour and friendship that stands a very good chance of being yet another gigantic (if squishy, cuddly and sweet) box office hit for Disney.

Big Hero 6 opens in USA on 7 November 2014 and Australia on 26 December 2014.

 

 

And here’s the original blink and you’ll miss it teaser trailer …

 

Farewell to Warehouse 13: “Savage Seduction” (S5 E4 review)

Pete reunites briefly with lost love Dr Kelly Hernandez in the most unusual of circumstances (image via Warehouse 13 official site (c) syfy)
Pete reunites briefly with lost love Dr Kelly Hernandez in the most unusual (and yet for Warehouse 13 completely and utterly orthodox) of circumstances (image via Warehouse 13 official site (c) syfy)

 

This was a gleeful, hilarious, over the top hoot of an episode of epic proportions.

Epic I say!

And by so being, “Savage Seduction” was absolutely, perfectly a quintessential Warehouse 13 episode, an inspired choice as the series draws to a much-mourned close.

It all took place, naturally enough, deep in the heart of a telenovela (short run serial dramas with soap opera-like plots that are popular in Latin and North America among other places), in this case one called Seducción Salvaje, which is found still showing on the (now) unplugged TV of Pete’s (Eddie McClintock) lost love, and now married and heavily pregnant to someone else Dr. Kelly Hernandez’s (Paula Garcés) beloved Nana (Teresa Yenque).

Unnerved by the disconnected still-active TV, the still playing telenovela, which supposedly finished its run the night before, and her grandmother’s milk carton status – sensible girl; with that kind of nous you’d survive every horror movie going – Kelly calls in the only people she knows who may have any experience with possesses televisions, Pete and Myka (Joanne Kelly).

And race to her help they do, at least once Pete recovers from the fact that he didn’t father Kelly’s baby, something he only comes to realise when Myka points out he hasn’t seen his now married ex in two years or so, but as you might expect, things don’t quite go to plan (not that of course there is a plan yet, such is the way of artefacts).

 

This TV is not clean! (image via Warehouse 13 official site (c) syfy)
This TV is not clean! (image via Warehouse 13 official site (c) syfy)

 

Before you can say Doña Fausta Obregon, the matriarch of the squabbling wealthy clan on Seducción Salvaje, who is now mysteriously played by Kelly’s missing Nana, Kelly and Myka are sucked into the show, along with Nana’s pet cat, and with their memories wiped, find themselves playing warring members of the same household, unaware of who they actually are.

With a memorable cry of “This house is not clean!”, Pete summons Artie and together the intrepid twosome leapt after Kelly (now playing rich gal with an attitude Carmen) and Maribel (feisty maid with an attitude – OK everyone has attitude; it’s a telenovella after all!) but not before holding onto Harvey Korman’s cufflinks so they don’t lose their identities.

What ensues is classic Warehouse 13 – hilarious flamenco riffs and a hair-unsettling whoosh of wind whenever anyone changes between their character and their real identity, delicious over-acting which gives everyone a chance to give vent to their inner ham (Eddie McClintock, as you can imagine, has a ball with his part) and a plot so convoluted it takes a while to isolate the artefact and purple goo it.

It’s the pot-boiled narrative that gives the writers the opportunity to exercise the whole will they/won’t they, should they/shouldn’t they romantic dynamic between Pete and Myka with their telenovella characters finding themselves in a passionate embrace more than once.

I am still hoping against hope that the obvious, and yes, laziest outcome isn’t the one they settle on since not every male/female paring in a TV show has to end up in love happily ever after.

As I’ve said before Pete and Myka are more brother and sister than a romantic couple, and it would be a shame to see Warehouse 13‘s writers, who have got so much right over the years, and especially this season, get it so wrong in the show’s final episodes.

Still, whatever road they send Pete and Myka down, “Savage Seduction” gave them the chance to at least play act what love, true love might look like on those rare occasions when it comes a-callin’ to a Warehouse 13 agent.

 

It's time to let your inner frat boy out Jinksie ... assuming you have one of course (image via Warehouse 13 official site (c) syfy)
It’s time to let your inner frat boy out Jinksie … assuming you have one of course (image via Warehouse 13 official site (c) syfy)

 

Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) and Steve (Aaron Ashmore) on the other hand head off to college frat house to find an artefact that allows its members to be in two places at once.

While their studious side presents learned presentations or pours over books taking notes like their lives depend on it, their wild, crazy side is drinking up a storm and partying, usually, till they drop.

Tracking down this split personality artefact is essentially just a playful case of the week excursion for Claudia, who has been holed up in the Warehouse for days, obsessing over a way to free her sister once and for all from her coma, and Steve, who is more repressed and responsible than normal, glorying in the ability of a sat nav to get him places so easily and efficiently.

The fun begins when Steve encounters the artefact and ends up hewn into serious, conscientious Jinksie, and flamboyant “you go girrrrrl!” Jinksie goes to town partying with the hot young men of questionable sexuality in the frat house.

While nothing of any real consequence arises from this Freaky Friday-esque excursion into academia, apart from us seeing Claudia in complete obsessive mode (and why wouldn’t she be?; she wants to get her sister back), its clear that Scagliotti and Ashmore are having a lot of goofy fun.

 

Flamboyant gay Jinksie squares off with uber-serious gay Jinksie with Claudia having the time of the life watching them go at it (image via official Warehouse 13 site (c) syfy)
Flamboyant gay Jinksie squares off with uber-serious gay Jinksie with Claudia having the time of the life watching them go at it (image via official Warehouse 13 site (c) syfy)

 

And that is just as valid a reason for an episode as anything else really.

Savage Seduction is essentially a showcase for one of the defining attributes of Warehouse 13, which is its willingness to be completely, hilariously, over the artefact-created top goofy.

No pretensions to serious drama, no intense raison d’être, no great moral in the story – just good old-fashioned, character-driven fun.

A last chance if you like for the characters to engage in the silly banter and visual hijinks that have made Warehouse 13 such a joy to watch.

The key, of course, has been that all this silly, silly humour is rooted quite cleverly in such a very serious attention to detail characterisation.

They’re not just jokes or silly Keystone Cops visuals for the sake of it, transplanted rather awkwardly for yuk-yuks and guffaws in the middle of a plot; they come from the the interactions between the beautifully drawn characters we have come to know and love and that’s what makes the humour such a delight to take in.

And what will make its first-run disappearance from out screens such a tragedy (yep, we won’t be laughing then).

*But it’s not gone just yet! Here’s the trailer for the penultimate episode “Cangku Shisi” …

 

 

FUNx3: Sesame Street sunshine, horrifically fun takes on Frozen and Toy Story, Tarantino’s and LEGO’s Star Wars

It's Super Grover off to save the day! (image via and (c) Sesame Street Twitter feed)
It’s Super Grover off to save the day! (image via and (c) Sesame Street Twitter feed)

 

It’s always fun to play around with an established property, be it a song, film, TV show or book, or meme.

In fact, creatively re-interpreting someone else’s pop culture darling is a mainstay of the current entertainment landscape, with technology giving every would be Spielberg or Kanye the chance to show what they would have done with a particular song or movie if only they’d been given the chance.

Often these would be auteurs, DJs and literary greats go on to produce startlingly original works of their own but until that happens, re-imagining (to use a term that was in vogue a few years ago in movies at least) another’s output becomes a great calling card, especially if it’s as wonderfully done as some of the videos in this post.

Of course the Sesame Street clips are all wholly original because I adore them just as they are, but I couldn’t go past the brilliant re-interpretations of iconic movies like Frozen (which has become a juggernaut of epic proportions), Toy Story and Star Wars which are inspired works by some very clever people …

 

ZACHARY LEVI AND BERT

Quite frankly you’d have to pry my smartphone out of my hands with a crowbar so addicted to blogging and social media have I become.

But how can you argue with the likes of Zachary Levi, Bert and Grover when they urge you to leave your phones and iPads inside, and head outside into the sunshine where “every tree is trending” and “the birds tweet just to say:
 You should really take a walk on this lovely sunny day” ?

Honestly just disregard the urge to filter, or tweet or poke and head on out and enjoy the day!

Just finish reading this post first will you?

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

 

SUPER GROVER

And here’s a classic clip of Super Grover because … like I need a reason …

 

 

FROZEN HORROR

 

I know, I know, Frozen is all about true, deep filial love and the willingness to go and beyond to help someone you care about find a way out of an awful situation.

And that’s all very heart warming and Hallmark-like, and worthy of a song.

But just for one clip, I think you should “Let It Go” (I do not apologise for the use of the song title in this way; not even remotely) and consider whether “Do you want to build a snowman?” isn’t just a tad creepy.

OK, a LOT creepy …

(source: Movie Fone; kudos to Bobby Burns for this inspired take on Frozen)

 

 

TOY STORY HORROR

 

Woody and Buzz had their problems at the beginning sure and Toy Story did an admirable job of now shying away from darker issues like rejection and obsolescence and the fickleness of people when the shiny and new proves more attractive than the dependable and the much-loved but could you have taken all those elements and made a horror movie of it?

If you’re the insanely gifted Bobby Burns, yes, yes you could …

(source: Laughing Squid)

 

 

TARANTINO’S STAR WARS

 

Apologies if this is looking like the Bobby Burns show (actually I’m really not but it seemed impolite not to say something) but he’s so damn clever, managing to weave all manner of Tarantino’s calling cards into this impressive take on Star Wars as one of the master director’s blood-soaked, fun-fueled projects …

(source: Huffington Post)

 

 

LEGO STAR WARS

 

And last but very much not least, YouTube user dzine123 has released another in is epic LEGO re-tellings of the Star Wars saga – for Star Wars Day last year he released his take on the original movies; this year the prequels got his inspired creative loving – which explain the plot all three movies in each group in under 3 minutes.

It’s clever, it’s funny and both clips are an absolute joy to watch.

And, of course you’ll be totally up to speed for Episode 7 when it arrives in theatres late next year!

(source: Paste Magazine)

 

 

Yes, there is Magic in the Moonlight

Colin Firth and Emma Stone star in Magic in the Moonlight (image via emstonesdaily, via gwen-stone)
Colin Firth and Emma Stone star in Magic in the Moonlight (image via emstonesdaily, via gwen-stone)

 

SNAPSHOT
Magic in the Moonlight is a romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle. Personal and professional complications ensue. The film is set in the south of France in the 1920s against a backdrop of wealthy mansions, the Côte d’Azur, jazz joints and fashionable spots for the wealthy of the Jazz Age. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

A Woody Allen movie is always a cause of celebration.

A combination of top shelf actors, literate, witty and clever scripts, and the sense that you are stepping into magical world no matter what the scenario may be, they are movies to immerse yourself into in a way that few others offer.

I am relatively late convert to the prodigious film maker’s output, having only really discovered how wonderful his cinematic creations are via my partner who is an ardent lifelong fan of fierce standing, but my conversion has been swift and sure with films like Zelig, Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris ensuring I eagerly await each new release with the feverish delight of an eager, new disciple.

And Magic in the Moonlight, which stars Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, and Australia’s very own Jacki Weaver, looks like being a Woody Allen classic.

Set in France in the roaring 1920s when money seem endless and life was easy (if, of course, you had money to burn), it continues the director’s recent decade-long or so fascination with Europe, which saw him leave behind New York, the setting for almost every movie he’d ever made prior to about the mid-Noughties.

 

On the set of Woody Allen's new movie Magic in the Moonlight (image via Brits United blog)
On the set of Woody Allen’s new movie Magic in the Moonlight (image via Brits United blog)

 

A romantic comedy at heart, it examines what happens when affairs of the heart get entangled in an attempt by Stanley, a pseudo-Asian magician played by Colin Firth to uncover the supposed fakery of noted medium Sophia, played by Emma Stone.

Much frothier fare than last year’s utterly superb and very much award-worthy Blue Jasmine, which garnered Cate Blanchett a best Actress Oscar at this year’s awards, it looks like, as Variety noted, a quintessential Allen romcom.

And since it is a genre that Woody Allen excels at, infusing the films he makes of that ilk with likeable characters, witty banter and romantically quirky scenes, all of which by the way, are sorely lacking from many modern romcoms which lack the charm that the veteran director brings to his efforts, Magic in the Moonlight looks like being a film to look forward to.

Especially if you’re a reasonably newly converted like I am … or even, of course, even if you’re not.

Magic in the Moonlight opens in USA on 25 July 2014 and in Australia on 28 August.