Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I wish I saw that coming

It's always the way.

You get out of work after a day of wrangling telecommunications engineers, a day when you've had a blinding headache only just kept at bay with disprin. It's the day when you've had yet another round of "Death by PowerPoint" and you're just happy to be outside strolling home on a nippy but bright Autumn day.

It's the day when you feel like you're a retriever with your head out of the window the moment you step out of work - as nothing is happier than a retriever with it's head out of the car window as it travels down the road, the wind flapping its ears.

It was the night where I sneaked in a macaron, just to make  the evening a little better - and it sort of helped with the headache and gave a small rush of energy for the walk home.

I made my way across Spring Street and walked next to Treasury Gardens enjoying the cool air on my face.

Just lovely.

And there in front of me coming out of one of the government buildings. There he was. Security tow.

I was within feet of our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.


I've rehearsed this moment in my head thousands of times.

What do you do when this person you hold with the same esteem as you do a paedophilic rapist, an animal abuser or a herd of Essendon supporters?

The things that I've wanted to say include:

"I rue the day you were born."
"Crawl back under your rock, Luddite."
"Hey, Prime Minister for the Infrastructure - telecommunications are important infrastructure too!"
"Piss of back to England you fascist, elitist wanker."
"Don't touch the royals - not a good look."
"Seriously, Minister for Women? Show us your tits and your last mammogram results."
"Get a new f*&^ing tie. That blue one is getting very old."
"Why is the NBN now the MBM (Malcolm's Bloody Mess)?"
"Are you and Margie really separated?"
"You should be in prison for how you bullied Julia Gillard!"
"When are you going to do a Harry Holt and drown?"

Okay, these are the just publishable things I've wanted to yell out.

Anybody who's been around me when he comes on the telly knows that I'm very apt at pointing two fingers at him and yelling, "Bang". (Used to do that to John Howard too.. little good it did.) He gets told to go away in a very loud voice too - the neighbours have had words about me screaming at the telly.

My computer is sort of immune to Tony Abbott as I've installed an add on called "Stop Tony Meow" that changes any picture of him into that of a kitten.  (See if you want a copy for yourself).

So. I'm within spitting distance of our Prime Minister and his goons.

What do I do?

Not much.

It was all a bit surreal. This guy with a comb over, blue tie, who looked bloody miserable, walking like Popeye next to some government buildings is walking towards you. He's shorter than you think. He really does walk like Popeye - reminds me of an old manager of mine who used to work the submarines.

It takes a few seconds to get me out of my Retriever with it's head out of the window happiness and work out that this person who I really wish would just go away and get out of my news bandwidth.

Me, I just kept walking, though I gave him my best death stare.

Thing is, he looked miserable enough already.

And I really wasn't in the mood to get manhandled by goons or arrested. Besides, I've got to get to dream group.

It must be complete crap being a politician. Okay, we all know that Abbott has skin thicker than a week old custard tart. We know he's a Luddite, a neo-conservative, climate change denying buffoon with no dress sense, etiquette, manners or social conscience.

How horrible it must be.

I'm glad I kept my composure, stayed silent and got to get the withering look in  - the same look you give dog shit when you find it on your shoe.

Thing is, no matter how completely horrible a person I find the Mephistopheles** Cardboard Cut out Prime Minister, the good, kind, compassionate person in me does not have it in me to make somebody's day even worse.

I walked past and started to kick myself.

I've had my opportunity!

Seriously though, as much as I loathe this man and some of the things his government are doing, hatred is not the answer.

I pity him. I pity him and his party's lack of vision, lack of compassion, lack of reason and lack of hope.

Personally, I think being pitied is far, far worse than being hated.

Hate is just destructive. No point in it.

Pity weakens the agressor. It also allows for change.

**Mephistopheles - sold his soul to the devil. Look it up.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We need to talk more about death

Not sure what it is, but I've spent a lot of this week pondering mortality.

It started with me picking up John Green's excellent novel "The Fault in our Stars". I binge read most of it last night after work. It's an amazing work and I can't recommend it enough. For a book about two terminally ill teenagers it's incredibly funny... and sad... and wise... and real... just do it. 

On top of this, my friend Flora called. She's supposed to be coming down to Melbourne in June for a visit and a play. She then says that she's not booking tickets to travel just yet as her husband's father has been diagnosed with cancer and her grandmother might die. 

I will get to this one shortly.

The last thing I'll mention is a conversation I had with Jonella.

Lots of talking about death.

We should do more of it.

I'm forever grateful for being a part of a family that talks about and celebrates life and death very openly. Being a part of a family that has Gallipoli and Western Front veterans, doctors, nurses, midwives and clergy, the family have been on the forefront of the hatches, matches and dispatches that go on in everybody's lives for well over a century. Spending most of my formative years on a farm also helped. Life and death are there laid out for you to see daily.

Everybody dies. It's a part of life. If you can shrug this mortal coil with a bit of dignity, even better (we won't mention Uncle Bert who died on the loo) Death is sad, and awful and very final. But it is a part of life.

It's something that we as a society don't discuss often enough.

My parents, bless them, have had the talk with we three girls. Things are very clear for us. We know their wishes. If anything is to happen to them, unless they can be restored to a level of health where they will have a decent quality of life, we are to turn off any machines. If there are any viable organs, they may be taken for transplant. We are under no circumstances to allow them to linger on machines or live the lives of warm cabbage stew. 

This is written and signed in legally binding documents.

As as hard as it may be to turn off those machines if an when the time comes, my sisters and I know exactly where things stand - taking a hell of a lot of pressure off us. We've discussed it among ourselves - and we're all happy and accepting of their wishes.

How many people get the luxury of knowing what their folks want when they pass?

How do people know if they don't talk about it?

It was also quite refreshing to see the following article in The Age today: The High Cost of Holding On discusses how more and more elderly people are being kept alive in Intensive Care beds and how maybe we should look at how we treat the elderly. I'm not advocating an age limit to intensive care beds at all, but a rational look at the fact that if somebody will have no quality of life after treatment let them go.

Reminds me of a friend relating the story of her 95-year-old mother-in-law. The family were adamant that she should be treated, despite having been through years of dementia, despite her advanced years. 

They would not let her go. 

I remember sitting with this friend and saying to her gently,"Everybody has to die. Why not let her go?"

My friend couldn't quiet understand that this final dying process process can take days and sometimes weeks. The family were expecting modern medicine to keep her alive. But why?

It's only the lucky one who get off really quickly. The ones who fall asleep in their beds not to wake up, or nod off on the loo.

The leads me to Flora, postponing making travel plans. She feels if she books her tickets that she's 1) dishonoring her father-in-law and grandmother and 2) it may make her unavailable to go to either funeral.

Hmmm. My view on this - neither are dying or dead yet. If they are looking like passing, rearrange the trip. The trip is scheduled for two months away. Lots can happen in that time. Airline tickets can be moved if required. Life come first. If she has to move things, move them.

Unless the person is your partner or somebody you're very close to, life come first. Always. (Another thing instilled into me by the folks) There is no point planning around things you have absolutely no control over.

These are Flora's decisions. I can't say I understand her actions, but I accept them. Our views differ. It's the way it is.

The last thing I found interesting was a talk with Jonella, where somehow, we got talking about funerals - something that came out of Jonella finding out about an acquaintances passing on Facebook .

I mentioned to her that I had some pretty specific instructions about what was to happen to me. I also thought about people making things known on social media. When it's done sensitively, it can be a great way to get the message out. 

We're not a society that does death notices in the paper any more.

In some circumstances, especially after known long illnesses, social media can bring some comfort to the grieving.

"Your family talk about this?" she asked.
"Yes. I live interstate from my family. My family don't know my friends. There are people in England who I'd like to let know. Facebook is a reasonable way to let some people know. There are one or two I'd like to leave messages for however."

"Well if you're going to do that, you should get thinking about your will."
"Yes." I agreed.
"Well get thinking now. I'd like to be buried. It's a cultural thing. That's as far as I've got." she told me.

"I have thought about it. I want to be cremated. If there are any viable organs in me, take them. I wont need them.  My sister is aware that I don't want to linger on a ventilator - like my folks, if there is no chance of a quality of life, let me go. This has been discussed."

Also, I do not, under any circumstances, want to end up in the wall where my dad's ashes lie. If anything, split my ashes in four. Deposit some outside of Ely Cathedral, some on Elia Beach on Mykonos, some others outside the old synagogue looking over the river in Toledo Spain and the rest can be scattered on top of Sellicks Hill. I've always thought that would be a great place to get married or have your ashes scattered. Get to watch the weather and the waves."

"You've really thought about this."

"Yep. Oh and music, no church music, not Andrea Bocelli, no mournful stuff. I'd really love for Green Day's "Good Riddance" to be played."

"You can't play Green Day at a funeral."

"Yes you can."

My point, I think, is that as a society, we really need to talk more about death. It's something that's going to happen to all of us some day. You may as well have a say about what you want.

And I still stand by my thought that this is a very appropriate song for a funeral.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Three Days, Three Films

The joy of Easter without immediate family. I get to use up all the stored up movie vouchers.

It's been a film a day over Easter.

Good Friday had me at the LEGO movie - which has been reviewed already. AWESOME!.

Saturday was the day that Blarney finally got her birthday movie. She chose "The Other Woman" a saccharine sweet rom-com chick-flick.

Sunday I went and saw "Divergent"

And today using the last of my movie vouchers, it was off to see "The Invisible Woman."

Thankfully, saved the best til last.

So, in a nutshell.

"The Other Woman" is one of those films where you can leave your brain at the door and sit back and ponder how something so lightweight can remain fixed on the screen. A film about infidelity, friendship and revenge.

The bloke who plays Jaime Lannister on "Game of Thrones" appears to have had a debt to pay in being in this film.

It's fairly floss - fluffy and fun but not particularly fulfilling.

On the good side, Cameron Diaz is aging gracefully - and hats off to her for that. The film is also really pretty to look at.

On the not so good side, Lesley Mann's voice is tuned into a nails-on-the-blackboard frequency and it's annoying from her first lines.

That's about all I have to say about this. It's a chick flight. Fun but that was about it.


Sunday had me off to see "Divergent."

I read the book in preparation and wasn't thrilled with the book. A poor cousin's Hunger Games. Thing is, I really enjoyed the film. They did a great job on it.

Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, Tris Prior has to choose a faction to be a part of on her sixteenth birthday. The Government tests all to see which faction they belong to - see Tris's problems start when she doesn't conform. She's divergent, a fact that she has to keep from everybody to remain safe.

This is one of the few films that I've enjoyed more than the book. Well paced, great action, interesting characters and great stunts.

Shailene Woodley does a great job as Tris. Theo James who plays her instructor and lover is drool worthy (yum).They do things in this film that you'd love to try, like zip lining from the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago.

My friend Georgie made her husband Tom vow to see every adolescent trilogy in their wedidng vows - I'm going to recommend this one to them.

I was pleasantly surprised by this film as I went in, not expecting much. It was a great divergence for a Sunday afternoon.

This afternoon, my last movie voucher was used to see "The Invisible Woman", a historical drama which centres around Charles Dickins and his secret lover Ellen "Nelly" Ternan. Ralph Fiennes stars in and directs this story of love and loss.

A 45-year-old Dickins, at the time a well known writer and actor falls head over heels for the 18-year old Nellie. The story follows their affair and how in these closeted times, their love played out.

The acting is wonderful - Felicity Jones is incandescent as Nelly , Fiennes joyous and brooding in equal measure as Dickens. I loved this film not only for the story, but the costumes and settings which a just wonderful to take in.

I was also completely taken with Joanna Scanlan who played Dickins' wife, Catherine. She's heartbreaking in her role as the unloved wife of one of the most famous men of the day. Her performance shook me to the core - her acting some of the bravest I've seen in a long time.

The only small downer in the film was the occasional use of the hand held camera. There was no need to be bounced around as you were in the scenes it was used (which was thankfully limited).

"The Invisible Woman" is English cinema at it's best. Ralph Fiennes, if he gets rid of the use of the hand held camera could very well be the next English director to watch. This is his second attempt at directing and he's made an excellent film.

This film is on limited release, but if you like historical dramas this may be your cup of tea and it's worth seeking  it out. I came away completely satisfied. Easily the most satisfying film I saw this weekend.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Let you in on two things.

First up, as a child, my very favourite toy was Lego. We had a box of it that sat behind the dining room door and Lego made up a lot of my free time into my early teens. I made houses and all sorts of things regularly over many years - but this was in the days when Lego came in six colours in bricks with two, four, six, eight and twelve dots on it. There was none of the technical stuff, no special sets - if you were really lucky, you got wheels to make a car. As I was leaving the realms of Lego into the joys of adolescensce, bras, boys and books, new Lego sets were coming out that had all sorts of strange other bricks.

Give me a chance now and I'll sit down with Lego and get absorbed by making something - anything - anytime. I love Lego.

Second tidbit of information. My least favourite word in the English language is "awesome". Hate it. One too many sessions with the guys from the Landmark Forum, I'm afraid.

This morning I went along to see "The LEGO Movie" with Blarney and her nearly four-year-old boys Chance and Lance. The ten a.m. crying session at the Sun Cinema at Yarraville is a delight. Lots of young families with kids. If the boys chose to misbehave, we were in good company.

Thankfully, this wasn't the case. Chance and Lance were on their best behaviour as the film rolled on.

This is not a kid's film. This is a very clever and very entertaining adult's film that kids can watch happily while the adults sit there giggling and snorting into their lattes.

The best way to describe it is it's "Alice in Wonderland" mixed with "The Matrix" with a good deal of modern conspiracy theory and a bit of a moral edge to it.

Blarney and I loved every minute of it. Chance sat there awestruck through the whole film (Chance will end up being an evil scientist one day). Lance wasn't so convinced (Lance has a bit of the rugby 5/8th about him).

Will Ferrell voices one of the main characters - Lord Business - or  President Business in his less evil guise. He's a bit like a mix of Tony Abbott, Tim Wilson and George Brandis all rolled into one - this person who wants the world to be just as he sees it and he will do everything to keep it that way.

Along comes Emmet, a  lowly, lonely construction worker who cannot do anything unless there are instructions. Emmet is the unwitting hero of this whole adventure who somehow becomes the champion of the film.

I won't go into details of the rather thin plot, needless to say, if you mix "The Incredibles" with "Alice in Wonderland" with "The Matrix" you'll get the gist of it.

As a Lego fiend the imagination that was used to come up with this film is incredible. Technically, this flm doesn't put a foot wrong - but it's more than the cinematography. I spent a good part of the film pondering how I could make some of the items on the screen.

The characters are great too, from the gormless Emmet to Wyldstyle, or Lucy as she's known to some, the plucky heroine. Morgan Freeman puts a voice to Vetruvius the wizard, complete with lollypop wand (I'm sure there was one of those in our Lego box. Batman and 1970's generic spaceman were cool too. Oh, and Unikitty - watch out for Unikitty.

What Blarney and I loved about this film was that beneath the pretty colours and the child friendly plot was a moral tale about corporate greed and conformity. As a community we're not encouraged to think outside the square, particularly in big corporate companies. Lego, as a toy, teaches you to use your imagination.

The Lego Movie is a scathing indictment on modern corporate greed and our conformist society.

But with pretty colours, great action and fun and of course, with Unikitty.

The only down side to the film is it's anthem.

"Everything is Awesome".

It's all over the place throughout the film - one of the worst and most insidious ear worms** I've had the misfortune to hear. And it knows it.

"Everthing is Awesome" sticks in your head worse than these songs all rolled into one.




I've put these clips in here just to get rid of the wretched tune from my head.

Highly, highly recommend The Lego Movie. Find the prerequisite child to take along or do what I do and profess to the person at the ticket booth that you're really just a tall twelve-year-old. This is going to be a classic, if it's not banned by our current LNP government for being subversive or for the fact that it's embedded ear worm will drive you nuts.

** Ear worm - from the German ohrwurm "An earworm is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing.[1] Phrases used to describe an earworm include musical imagery repetitioninvoluntary musical imagery, and stuck song syndrome."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Lunatics

Making my way across the city, I was on a mission. Clear my post office box, go and find an ice cream, then make my way to a footbridge.

Easy enough you would think.

The ice cream proved a bit more difficult than I thought. I’ve got my favourite flavours and unfortunately the Tramopline chain at Southbank doesn’t quite cut it, but it was okay. Settling on a Lamington and Violet Crumble scoops I was set. (Really could have done with a Jock’s Chocolate Chilli or Turkish Delight flavour, or maybe green tea or white chocolate and wasabi flavoured scoop – alas not to be)

It was twilight and the bridge was waiting for me.

I had to be on the bridge at 5.46 pm on the evening of 15 April 2014. Call it destiny or something. I needed to be near water and a crossing over point. This bridge was the perfect place.

Knowing I had book group after this auspicious event I was going to hang around for as long as possible.

So there I stood, on the bridge, ice cream in one hand, phone in the other with the Sky Map on the screen looking toward the horizon over the MCG.

Looking down the bridge, there were a few like me, phones in hand, staring into the distance.

“Hi, you’re here from the eclipse?” I asked the guy next to me.
We laughed at each other.
“I’ve come to see it too.” said somebody else nearby.
“Me too – I was here yesterday scoping out possies – this is the place to be. The moon rose right over the “G” last night.”

“Cool!” we chimed pretty much in unison.

So here I was, ice cream in hand with a group of randoms on a footbridge waiting for the eclipse.

As the sky was losing its light, Jonella turned up. She was on her way to book group across the river.

“What are you doing? She asked.

“Hanging out with these randoms waiting for the eclipse.” With that she was introduced to Robbie the IT nerd from Sydney, Joe the lawyer, Peter the business man from Chicago and a few others who I’d been talking to whilst staring out to the MCG.

“You always talk to random people.” she stated.

Only random people who were on the same mission as myself.

Jonella stayed on the bridge. Georgie turned up about five minutes later, joining the gathering crowd standing around facing the east.

Many passers-by asked what we were doing.

“Waiting for the full moon in total eclipse to come out from behind the MCG” was the standard answer. If I was asked I added in that it was right at the top of a cardinal cross between some pretty powerful planets. If they were really lucky I pointed out Mars and Jupiter, because I’m a nerd like that. Some moved on, but many stayed, 

Slowly it appeared. A pink glow just above the trees. At first so faint and then it began it's rose glow as the light faded into a constant deep blue.

The moon glowed pink, deepening as the minutes went by. My photo doesn't do it justice.

Completely and totally mesmerized, the group of randoms stood on the bridge, happily watching this rarity of nature.At one stage, the moon took on a three dimensional perspective. It was like you could reach up into the sky and pluck it down.

We heard about the randoms celestial sightings.

Robbie, the IT guy with the ponytail had been up in far north Queensland for the last total solar eclipse a couple of years ago. The businessman from Chicago told of watching the stars in the Nevada desert.

Me, I've been fortunate enough to see the Aurora Australis - just once, at home as a teenager. I still remember standing out on the back veranda watching the night sky light up.

I also remember watching a brilliant full moon setting over Mykonos Bay from the top of the hill. The moon lit up the bay, the fishing boats bobbing in the gentle breeze. 

Over the years I've seen Halley's comet, shooting stars and partial eclipses. I make a point of watching the night sky. My not so closet nerd loves learning about astronomy - and astrology for that matter. 

So last night, on the footbridge, with some friends and a group of randoms watching this very powerful, very beautiful phenomenon, I felt incredibly privileged. And incredibly lucky. Robbie the IT guy was down in Melbourne on business - if he was in Sydney he wouldn't have seen this event as it was raining up there.

As time went on the moon brightened and the white light began to show through at the edges. By 6.30, the moon's full power was shining through and Jonella, Georgie and I started talking about making our way to book group.

I would have happily stood there and watched until the eclipse was completely over.

We bid a warm goodbye to the lovely randoms on the bridge.

I look at last night as one of the more perfect evenings of my life. 

Okay, I'm a lunatic - somebody effected by the waxing and waning of the moon. I feel the power of the full moon. It can effect my moods - though I'm aware of this rather than succumbing to the edge that the full moon provides.I have many friends who feel the same - full moon, you feel a bit ratty, moody, empowered, on edge... whatever it does, the moon has you in its thrall. 

I'm also aware that the busiest nights in police stations and hospitals are those around the three nights when the moon is at it's fullest.

Last night I knew I had to watch this most special event - to pay homage to this inconstant constant in my life. I also needed to be on water at the time. The footbridge was the only place to be.

I am so very grateful that I had the opportunity to share it with good friends - and new friends as well. 

It's times like this I recognise that I am truly blessed.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Quirky Brilliance

I've just checked and it's not just me.

The movie rating website gives The Grand Budapest Hotel a 90% wonderful.

We're in agreement.

This is the best film I've seen this year, just surpassing "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" in greatness. Loved every quirky, strange, glorious, camp, rompy over the top minute of this Wes Anderson soon to be classic.

To preface this, I've started on a temporary job and at the base of the building is an arthouse cinema. I finished work at 4.45 and made it into the cinema as the trailers were starting, not that I needed a cinema fix, I just wanted to see this and have done since I saw the adverts for it a few months ago.

For those who don't know about Wes Anderson, he's the writer / director behind movies like "The Royal Tannenbaums" and "The Darjeeling Express". He's got a stable of actors with whom he likes to work - Owen Wilson, Bill Murray and Adrien Brody to name a few. His films are filled with a lot of pastiche, tableau scenes, over the top acting, dysfunctional families and the ensuing hilarity that all of these features bring.

This type if cinema isn't for everybody. The plot is pretty thin, the character tend to be stock and there is nothing remotely realistic about the film, which is why I loved to whole scenario.

The film centres around the life of the concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel back in the thirties. Told from the point of view of the owner of the hotel and one time Lobby Boy, Zero, we follow M. Gustave and the loyal Zero as they try to discover who murdered one of the hotel patrons.

For me, Ralph Fiennes stole the show as M. Gustave. When I think of Ralph Fiennes the two things that come to mind are the mile high club and Voldemort, but he's actually a great actor who normally does darker, heavier films. He blew me away in "The English Patient". He was allegedly fantastic in "Schindler's List."not that I've seen it (on my list, just need somebody to watch it with). In this film he looks like he's having a hoot, playing the over the top M.Gustave. M.Gustave is somebody we'd all love to be for a day. He's a cultured ratbag. I will not say anything more about it.

The cameos in this film a truly inspirational. Willem Dafoe as the creepy contract killer, the never dead Jeff Goldblum as the elderly victim's lawyer. Adrien Brody as the victim's son and a plethora of Wes Anderson's stable in small but integral roles.

Most of all the cinematography is just divine. Gloriously shot, it's rich in colour and form. The hotel, in it's current form and in it's former glory jump off the screen.

The film had me cheering, cursing, gasping and doing to odd spit take as it continued it's scurrilous ride around the mythical country of Zubrowka, which looks like a bit of mix between Poland and Transylvania.

Okay, it's a bit camp, a lot silly and completely unbelievable, but coming out of the cinema I called my mum and recommended it to her, more for the fact that it's light, fun and glorious to see.

It's out on limited release around Australia at the moment. Hunt it down and go enjoy yourself for a couple of hours.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Movie Review: Noah - "Smell the Fart" acting at its best

Australian's have a dreadful habit of claiming things that originate from New Zealand for our own. Pavlova, Split Enz, Phar Lap, Keith Urban, just to name a few.

I've long been of the opinion that Russell Crowe, another Kiwi born "Australian" is quite welcome to piss off back to Taupo or wherever the hell he came from when ever he likes. It's been long enough. He's had his time.

The movie "Noah" is an adequate reason for him to bugger off back to where he came from. If I was feeling even more mean spirited it's an adequate reason to revoke his permanent residency.

Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh.

I loved him in Brides of Christ some 25 years ago. He was very good in "Romper Stomper", "LA Confidential" and "A Beautiful Mind". He wasn't too bad in "Les Miserables" either, playing Javert, a cop hell bent on slapping Hugh Jackman's character in the clink. Still think the best part of that film was when dear Rusty jumped off the bridge near the end of the film.

For the rest of his films, Russell Crowe gets to play this tough guy with a marshmallow centre that gets to wield a sword or a gun and puff up his chest a lot, all the time getting to give withering looks at the camera from over his shoulder.

Yep, you got it, I'm not really a Russell Crowe fan.

Having a couple of discount movie vouchers up my sleeve, I grabbed my friend the Naughty Librarian and went along for a Friday afternoon showing. This wasn't a film I'd pay full price for. I'm glad I've seen it. I'm glad we didn't go see it 3D as I think we would have got seasick, but as films go it's a funny one - funny peculiar, not funny comedic.

There are bits of it I liked.

There are bits that had me wanting to stand up and scream "Cut the wank you pretentious snotbag!" and throw the hard popcorn bits at the bottom of the bucket at the screen.

The pretentious stuff is not Rusty's fault. That stuff I will lay in the hands of the director, Darren Aronofsky, director of both "Black Swan" and "The Fighter", the former of these films still has my jury out - a work of art or pretentious crap. I don't think I'll ever make up my mind on that.

On the good side of things, the film gives a completely different spin on the Noah story. The cinematography is brilliant and some of the concepts, like the building of the ark and the earth bound angels are excellent. The ark was great, seriously cool stuff going on there, as was the scenery which I believe was filmed partly in Iceland. Wonderful stuff to take in, a bit like the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy on spots.

The movie sort of sticks to the story in the Bible as I remember it from Sunday School. Noah good man, descendant of Methuselah has three sons. He and his family have to gather up all the innocent animals and save them from the flood.  They build the ark, it rains for forty days and nights, then they send out a dove who comes back with a branch and there's a rainbow and they start the world anew, but not after Noah gets an attack of the guilts, does a David Hasselhoff and gets messy drunk and his son, Ham, the sensitive one, sees him naked and he gets banished because of this.

I liked how they answered the question I've always had about the ark - like what did they do with all the manure? And how did you feed that many animals for over forty days and nights with the feed on board. That got answered and that was pretty good.

That's where my liking of the film stopped.

The acting was if the "smell the fart" variety for most of the characters. (See below for a proper description)

There were these photo montages that sort of worked in places.

The huge environmental bent I liked, but I wasn't so fond of the preachy tone the whole movie took.

And I know that they put Ray Winstone as Tubal Cain in for a bit of dramatic effect, but first of all, I don't remember Tubal Cain in the Noah story  - please forgive me if I'm wrong, but since when did Tubal Cain stow away on the ark? And really, two middle aged men knife fighting amongst the animals on the ark. Hmmmm, sorry, that one didn't wash.

"Noah" is a film that I'd normally avoid. Thinly veiled environmental allegory, well-known story, huge effects, slightly dodgy acting with holes the size of the one in the ozone layer when it comes to plot and substance. A bit like "Titanic" you know exactly what's going to happen - it was just a matter of how and when.

The Naughty Librarian and I walked away a little flummoxed. We agreed that we wouldn't pay full price to see it, though we were glad we got to witness the effects.

But that was about it.

And I'm still very much of the opinion that Russell Crowe should piss off back to Taupo or where ever it is he comes from. I'll hold no ill will if he chooses to do that in the near future. Maybe he can take Lleyton Hewitt with him when he goes.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cuban Fury

Despite the fact that I don't dance, or at least, I don't dance in public, I occasionally enjoy the odd dance movie and sometimes the odd dance show - though Dancing with the Stars has no appeal whatsoever.

I do however, love a good English film. What's not to love. Underdogs, banter, strange relationships with drinking too much alcohol as the norm, strange characters... the list of endearing qualities is nearly endless.

So when I saw Cuban Fury advertised it was quickly put on my must see list. Fat bloke Salsa dancing - how bad could it be?

Coming from the stable that brought the world "Sean of the Dead" one of the best zombie films ever made, along with "Run Fat Boy, Run", another film I can completely relate to, it goes along a fairly set path. Chubby fellow, attracted to girl well out of his league ("Like she's a butterfly and I'm a parsnip...") goes out of his way to get the girl. Combine this with the stock characters of the flaky sister and the douche canoe of the workmate, played with aplomb by Chris O'Dowd, and you have a good two hour diversion.

I have a bit of a connection to this film as in my twenties I shared a flat with a fellow who was a dancer. Dancers are another subset of humanity, just like left-handers, redheads and engineers. My flatmate would travel the length and breadth of London to go to his Ciroc meets. He'd practice, partnerless, in the lounge room in his socks. He was forever trying to get me to come along to these dance meets. As a non-dancer I had no desire to do this.

But I get the dancer mentality regardless. As a Shakespeare buff, people look at me the same way as they looked at my flatmate when he talked about dancing.

"The Parsnip" Nick Frost's character, Bruce, was a dancer in his teenage years who was mercilessly bullied before a major contest and never danced again. Bruce is a bit of a pitiful character, bullied about work by the work wanker, played with aplomb by Chris O'Dowd. Things heat up when the new boss, a woman, an attractive woman, comes into the engineering firm in which they work. The boss is also into Salsa dancing.

What follows is an hour a half of light entertainment. Perfect Friday night fodder. Underdog made good. The Parsnip subtly goes after the butterfly. The sleazy fellow gets his comeuppance. It's all there.

The highlights for me in this fun but formulaic film were NIck Frost's affable and slightly gormless Bruce and Ian McShane (Lovejoy, Deadwood) as his oily dance teacher, Ron Parfait. He's just magic.

This film I will place firmly in the group of movies that you can sit and enjoy without thinking too much. I'd take my mum to see it. She'd love it. Have to say, I really enjoyed it too.