American Tragedy

On a day that shocks the world, and every politician, public figure and celebrity is mourning with the families and friends of the little children killed in Sandy Hook Connecticut, your favourite ditz and mine, has bigger things on her mind.

superficial materialistic unconcerned celebrity

While most of the mainstream and social media worlds were engaged in expressing shock and sympathy for the families effected by this horrible tragedy, Dita von Ditz felt it important to share with the world that she was going to be late to her perfume launch because her cat sat on her frock.

perfume launch celebrity perfume nude burlesque dancer

It’s not a good thing, being up close and personal with the people we used to enjoy or admire.  Even Nathan Fillion, who I always thought was just so damn cool, suffers for being able to have direct contact with the public without his press people standing by to call ‘no more questions today thanks’.

I guess if they were rocket scientists they wouldn’t be acting/stripping now would they?

Top Five Worst Movies Ever

This week, I saw what must be without a doubt the worst movie I have ever had the misfortune to sit through in my entire adult life.   No wait, I watched Breaking The Waves many years ago, so that would make this the second worst movie I have ever seen.  Ummm, hang on a minute, there was that Idiocracy shit so that makes this the third worst movie I’ve actually made it through (Sin City and the second Matrix film don’t count because I fell asleep at the cinema).

I went to see … entirely unwarranted drumroll… The Man With The Iron Fists.  Why you might ask?  Well, that’s a good question, and one I have absolutely no good answer for.  Shits and giggles I guess.  And ultimately this cinematic drivel gave me what I paid for – it totally gave me the shits and very few giggles.

film poster film soundtrack image

First the things I liked about it (because well, that will be sooo much quicker)

The Pink Blossom whorehouse was very tastefully decorated for a Chinese brothel with lush interior and visually stunning cherry blossom trees everywhere, and tack-o-rama themed ‘customer service suites’.

pink blossom brothel whorehouse

Lucy Lui who played the Madam of the Pink Blossom – she was cunning and manipulative, whilst initially maintaining an air of control and artlessness.  She had a fabulous wardrobe, some very cool fight scenes and she died with dignity and aplomb (wouldn’t normally mention who karks it but this is the sort of film where you can safely assume 80% of the cast is going to get dead – It was one of those ‘Tarrantino Presents’ films after all even though he had nothing to do with making the film from what I understand).

Lucy Liu pink blossom whorehouse brothel cherry set design

Ummm… The weather in those parts seemed lovely for that time of year and the Emperor had nice clothes.  Yep that’s abut it.

emperor new clothes nice palace

Everything else about this ridiculous film was complete utter crap and probably very expensive complete utter crap.

The plot was non-existent… steal the gold, kill the bad guys.

silver lion thugs street fight steal gold

The narrative (and I’m reluctant to use the term) was rushed and half arsed, a ten dollar story shoved into a two dollar book.

gold lion son vengeance spiked armour armor

Every single one of the characters were two dimensional, lacking in any personality with which the audience could identify with.  Even Russell Crowe couldn’t do anything inspiring with his character Jack Knife (titter, titter, oh so witty) not even with the added eye candy of a bevy of whores and a score of bad habits.  :S

russell crowe brothel prostitutes pink blossom

And the lead character, the so called Man with the Iron Fists (aka ‘the Blacksmith’ played by director RZA) I’ve heard described as so laid back he’s downright narcoleptic which seems entirely apt! Mind you he did have some ‘fuck off!’ amazing powers of recuperation!

heal remarkably well

The fight scenes were thick and fast and yet also in slo-mo so you didn’t miss the really groovy unrealistic special effects bits… but the marital arts fan boy sitting in the row in front of me was derisively laughing his arse off so that’s rather telling.

bronze man liquid metal man henchman

Even the bloody/gory element that you really expect in this sort of movie somehow missed the mark and I don’t think I really cringed even once.  It was just so highly theatrical and it was like, fake, fake, fake, fake.

blood spray gore gory martial arts scene fight

All up it was licking all the flavour off a corn chip then giving it to someone else… all flash and no substance.


What did you expect, an exploding pen?

Dum, di, dum, dum. Dum, dum di, dum di dum dum…

motorcycle istanbul james bond daniel craig

Any movie that opens with a motorcycle chase across the roof tops of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is okay with me.  Went to see Skyfall (again… yep went back for a second viewing) last night and was struck by the gorgeous locations all over again.  I mean we know Bond is going to beat the shit out of the bad guys, blow things up, screw the beautiful women, destroy another Aston Martin and shoot stuff up with that pedestrian little Walther he insists on carrying… but kudos to his travel agent over the years!  Istanbul, Venice, Thailand, Jamaica, Iceland etc,.  So many fabulous locations.

macau lanterns boat to casino daniel craig

shanghai boats lantern entrance

Do you and your friends do that thing at the cinema where you find yourself saying to your companions “I’ve been there!” when some exotic locale pops up on the screen?  Myself and BigSal have been apparently insufferable doing this after a few trips through Europe over the years. And Mr K insists on dropping a “I’ve been there” every time a film or TV show is set in New York or Washington now… which is just about every second fucking thing committed to film!  Just realized that must be a really boring game for New Yorkers, with every other film set in New York and all.  I swear aliens will land on the Earth (long after we’ve destroyed it, thanks to climate change denial, of course), find our film archives and think there were only three noteworthy cities on the entire planet – New York, Washington and Los Angeles.  How sad is that?  But anyway I digress…

skyfall film poster daniel craig james bond

I have to say, I think Daniel Craig may well be my favourite Bond ever.  He’s moved from being this impeccably dressed Cold War spy who rarely gets a bruise and orders his pretentious watered down martinis, to something a lot less Inspector Gadget and a bit more Jason Bourne.  He gets shot, bleeds occasionally, falls down, makes mistakes and oh my gawd, even gets dirt on his tux when thrown into a pit with a komodo dragon.

Sam Mendes is an awesome director and his American Beauty style is quite evident in Skyfall… one particular visually dramatic fight scene has Sam Mendes’ name written all over it.  Bond and one of his current nemesis’ henchmen were beating the shit out of each other, but I was just mesmerised by the unusual light show on display in the background.

skyfall jellyfish fight scene

I wasn’t much fussed on Javier Bardem as Silva, The Bad Guy.  Which is really odd considering that he is usually makes a quintessential bad guy… probably something to do with the dreadful peroxide blonde hair do they gave him and the strangely out of place sexual overtures that he made towards Bond during an interrogative scene which sees Bond’s usually unflappable demeanour seem to slip slightly.  :)

skyfall daniel craig javier bardem silva gay

I also love the new Q.  He’s perfect for the job in the new millennia. Seemingly highly educated, tech savvy, ridiculously young and with that slightly socially inept, dry internet sense of humour we’ve all come to love and loathe from the geeks in our lives, He is played by Ben Wishaw and there’s a nice interplay between Q and Bond as the young whippersnapper vs the cold war dinosaur.

The other thing I love about the Bond movies are the Bond women… M, of course is the inimitable Judi Dench, Moneypenny is a bit forgettable in my book and then there’s the ones whose names we barely learn but who Bond beds quicker than you can say ‘who’s your Daddy?’.  Always absolutely stunningly beautiful women with their air of danger and/or vulnerability about them.  Bérénice-Marlohe is Sévérine, Silva’s long kept mistress/prisoner whose tragic history finds Bond’s soft sport and tugs at the heartstrings of the ruggedly handsome old spy in this film.

Skyfall-Bérénice-Marlohe3 opi nailpolish

All up, Skyfall is a great Bond film and I enjoyed it more second time round… I think the Bond franchise is getting better and better.

My only question is – what colour is her nail polish?  :)


EDIT: After THIRD viewing…  Warning: Small Spoilers!

Let me make this clear, I took the Moderately Sized Child to go see this today, not because I thought it was such a great film, not because I wanted to see it for a third time, not because I felt it was something he had to see… but rather because it’s 35 degrees out and our air con is on the fritz and it’s TightArse Tuesday so tickets cost us only $5 each to go get out of the heat in the middle of the day.  But now I have seen it for the third time I have a few more questions than just a vague curiosity about Severine’s nailpolish! 

How does ‘M’ use Bond’s Walther (the only handgun they had) at the Skyfall manor when it is supposed to be ‘imprinted’ with Bond’s own palm print?  

Speaking of the Walther, why does Q insist on giving him such a stupid little gun when he’s up against guys with TEC-9 semi-auto machine guns with up to 50-72 rounds in the mag?

And speaking of Q, who is supposed to be the best, up and coming bright young thing that MI6 has to offer – what the fuck was he thinking when he plugged Silva’s computer into their ‘secure’ system?  

And lastly, how come every time there was a long sweeping landscape shot across the Scottish moors, I kept expecting to see Kate Bush in a horrific red dress, with a bad perm, doing a bizarre late 70s interpretative dance to ‘Wuthering Heights’?

“People accept the kind of love they think they deserve.”

Went to the movies yesterday with ThatChick (from That Blog That Chick Wrote) to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  I have to admit to having no idea what the movie was about before grabbing my frozen coke and finding our seats.  Instead of being Ms Organizer, for a change I was just going along for the ride.  I was vaguely expecting another American teen ‘coming of age’ flick, and wasn’t disappointed, but it was also much more.

adapted from book stephen chbosky

While most films about teen angst in American high schools tend to fall back on the cliches of typical overly melodramatic teen angst brought on by what appears to be a never ending popularity contest, Perks brings some new depth to some very familiar themes.  The film was well cast with Charlie (played by some kid named .. hang on a sec while I look this up… Logan Lerman) and his love interest played by Hermione Granger, err I mean Sam (aka Emma Watson).  There was also a fantastic character in the unusually-comfortable-with-my-sexuality token gay guy Patrick (Ezra Miller) who was flamboyant and often dragged the others out of their shell, and along for the ride with his joie de vivre (who reminded me a LOT of Kev, aka Darkman to many of us).

flamboyant homosexual high school drama jock boyfriend

Unlike most teen flicks, nothing is as simple as it seems on the surface and each of our happy trio have their own demons, ranging from a jock in-the-closet boyfriend, bereavement and guilt over loved ones lost to accidents and suicide, as well as the not fully acknowledge but latent theme of child sexual abuse.

As a group of misfits goes though, to me these guys don’t seem as ‘misfitty’ as they should.  For one, Sam is far too pretty not to be one of the cool kids (Emma Watson is all grown up so you guys can stop feeling like such dirty perverts now), Charlie is far too smart to be picked on by the other smartypants in his advanced literature class, and Patrick is far too charismatic to be socially ostracized – especially given his anti-authoritarian antics which delight his fellow classmates.

all grown up dirty perverts okay nowOverall this is not your typical coming of age teen drama and while it has many lighthearted moments it’s not a comedy either.  These teens display a level of maturity far and beyond what one is accustomed to expecting from Hollywood’s typical high school kids and the issues they are dealing with are also hopefully not de rigeur for your average teen.

It’s very emotionally engaging, nostalgic and funny, yet contains several scenes of profound sadness which communicated some heavy duty disheartening realisations for the audience… Seeing this film made me want to go and read the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘ by Stephen Chbosky… which in itself is quite the recommendation (Incidentally the book was banned from a number of high school libraries in the US by groups citing promotion of homosexuality, drug use and sexual behaviour… Sigh. Uptight sepos).

movie adaptation emma watson banned books

Go see it if you feel like indulging in some nostalgic melancholia for a few hours, I actually really enjoyed the film and I had an inexplicable desire to go and make mix tapes for the people I love which stayed with me for several hours!  :)

PS:  If you want a proper informed opinion of the film go here (link to follow) – she actually knows about cinema and stuff  :)

John Cleese – Still Brilliant.

I just love the internet.. It’s the accessibility of the intellectual meanderings of someone such as John Cleese totally make up for accessibility of the banal deliberatings offered by those such as Dita von Teese!   :)



The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Libya and have, therefore, raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorised from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French Government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

— John Cleese – British writer, actor and tall person

A final thought -“ Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC”.

Remembering Back to 1942

As a spur of the moment desperate attempt to get out of the heat last week, I invited my Mum to see a movie with me called ‘Back in 1942’.when she asked me what it was about my response was a somewhat vague “It’s a subtitled Chinese film about people fleeing their homes due to conditions of extreme famine while the Japanese were attacking the Chinese provinces in WWII.   It’s likely to be really long and depressing and full of human suffering, but at least it will get us out of this heat for a few hours.”  Well, with a sales pitch like that, how could she refuse?

Chinese film famine WWII drought starvation The film takes place in Henan province during one of China’s darkest episodes and worst human disasters of the 20th century.  The humanitarian crisis is caused by extended drought and then exacerbated by the subsequent war with Japan affecting the region and of course inevitable government corruption hampering the miniscule relief efforts as officials refuse to report or accept the sheer scale of the famine induced disaster.. Directed by Feng Xiaogang, he kind of smacks you around the head with a tonne of bricks and leaves you with no uncertain impression of just how desperate the refugees fleeing the famine are and the extents to which they will entertain to obtain grain for their families and themselves.  This movie packs plenty of dark and completely gut wrenching punches as it drives home a message of personal and collective human suffering on a scale that is absolutely unimaginable to most comfortable Westerners.

famine war drought starvation refugees Cinese WWII film starving refugees train Master Fan The narrative follows the stoical Master Fan (Zhang Guoli), a previously wealthy landowner in Yanjin county who loses everything he has, including his son, and joins the seemingly never ending stream of refugees trudging out of Henan Province in search of grain and food.  With him is his entire household, consisting of his ageing mother, his wife, his pregnant daughter in law, his beautiful teenage daughter and a stalwartly loyal family servant. While better stocked and equipped for the endeavour, Master Fan finds himself travelling the same road as the peasants who used to be his tenants and as starvation and treacherous conditions affect all travellers alike, and the class barriers and respectful manner he is accustomed to is rapidly stripped away and he eventually finds himself as destitute as the other fleeing citizens amid news that that the nationalist army is potentially going to retreat and abandon 30 million Chinese to the advancing Japanese armies.

Master Fan refugee WWII starvation

All around, people are starving. They’re eating donkeys; stealing grain, they’re selling their children to ‘factories’ (brothels) for grain and eating ground tree bark to stay alive. With desperation comes violence, and when an avaricious thief accidentally falls into a large cauldron of boiling water, the camera leaves the scene, but the implication is that the starving refugees won’t hesitate to eat him too.

Chinese film WWII refugees famine Japanese invasion Back to 1942 has a cast of thousands, trudging ever onwards through the barren wasteland of famine and locust ravaged China.  The constant stream of downtrodden, starving displaced and unwanted people – an unwanted drain on resources during the Governments’ wartime agenda – makes for a complicated drama with scenes of familial sacrifice, uncertainty, a foreboding sense of impending death for all and under the constant threat of air strikes from the Japanese as Chinese military commandeer carts and supplies and intermingle with the refugees.

marching refugees fleeing Japanese army

As depressing as this film sounds it is also a story of resilience and endurance of the human spirit.  No matter what was thrown at these refugees, many of them simply did not know how to give up and they persevered when there was no end in sight.  It depicts a horrific period of history where up to three million refugees are estimated to have died while fleeing the famine and the Japanese, but it is a morbidly fascinating story told with heartfelt emotion that solidly engages the audience.

There was so much to take in, so much human tragedy that I would probably see this film again in order to view it without the shock.  It’s one of those films that make you feel lucky to live where we live and live when we live.

If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.

Went to see Anna Karenina last night at the Palace Barrack theatre last night as part of the gala closing for the Brisbane International Film Festival (worst facility ever btw… only bathrooms in the place are down two levels from the actual cinemas?).  Anyway, it was directed by Joe Wright and starred Keira Knightley (I think they did that Pride and Prejudice where the Bennetts lived on a farm? and Atonement as well) on what I imagine was intended to be a huge elaborate adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina but somewhere along they way, their epic saga took a wrong turn and ended up in Baz Lurhman’s Moulin Rouge… or so it felt.

keira knightly joe wright epic tolstoy film adaptation

The movie is visually quite stunning with elaborate and unusually theatrical set designs; hence the Lurhmanesque feel. The costumes, whilst not being strictly period are both beautifully done and exquisitely detailed with luxurious jewels all bringing together the decadent heights of Russian aristocracy. The cast is excellent, full of fantastic British actors from the phenomenally famous to the frustratingly familiar, who put in some fabulous performances.

keira knightly olivia williams

For the most part the screenplay sticks to the story – but not enough to satisfy Tolstoy purists/traditionalists, and the truncation doesn’t appear to condense the story in a manner congruous with allowing the characters enough depth to engage people who’ve never read the book… so it actually gets (I’m reluctant to say this), a bit boring in parts, and you don’t really care what happens to most of the characters.

count vronksy high res costume design

Keira Knightley plays the angst ridden Anna, the 19th century Russian aristocrat who is married to Count Alexi Alexandrovich Karenin, a high ranking government minister (Jude Law) who in the book seems largely indifferent and even cold to his much younger wife Anna, and has ‘interesting’ ideas about love… but in this adaptation he is the model of a victim worthy of our sympathy.  Following the book, she finds herself in love with the soldier Count Vronsky and subsequently socially ostracized (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who looks familiar but I have no idea who he is).  Meanwhile, the Konstantin “Kostya” Dmitrievich Levin and Princess Ekaterina “Kitty” Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya affair is played out by Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander in a manner that seems almost wholly unconnected to the main story.

keira knightly joe wright costumes love seduction suicide

All the characters have upper class British accents to denote their aristocratic social status, which annoyed the hell out of me given French was the preferred language of the Russian aristocracy at the time… so if they didn’t want them sporting thick Russian accents and sounding like the peasants, why not try on the slightly more accurate French accents…. yeah nit picking I know.  But it does seem if someone, anyone, is supposed to be well born in a movie they MUST speak with a British accent whether it’s set in Chicago or ancient Rome!  Grrr. Hollywood.

ladies court set design costumes

I have no idea who wrote the adapted screenplay (Google it, if you care) but the entire production was extremely theatrical… and by that I don’t mean ‘over the top’, but rather, set in a theatre and as a play staged within a movie, with ‘behind the curtains’ type scenes that served for alleyways and backrooms which flicked back and forth between traditional movie sets and an operatic looking theatre?  It was quite bizarre and somewhat hard to comprehend what the hell they were attempting to communicate in using this unusual and awkward cinematic device that added nothing to the story and in many ways distracted and even detracted from it?  It made no sense to me right up to the very end.  It also has an interesting dichotomy in it’s visual aesthetic as it blends aristocratic luxury with a strange decrepitude – though for the live of me I can’t figure out why?  All I can come up with is it’s an allusion to the impending social reform that led to the demise of the Russian aristocracy.

keira knightley joe wright tolstoy jude law

At the end of the day though, Anna comes off looking ‘psycho hose beast’ jealous or manic-depressive or something, Karenin comes out like a kind hearted, misused victimised cuckolded husband, and Vronsky pulls up exasperated and a bit bobble-headed, shallow and ill explained.  Somehow the film completely fails to convey any real sexual tension or excitement. The depth of emotional turmoil and maternal angst experienced by Anna is pretty much absent, the social inequity, potential ruin for all involved that the book is packed to the gills with, is also likewise not adequately conveyed.

costume design seduction romance suicide suffering tolstoy

Such opportunity for truly epic cinematic drama and suffering – no one does suffering, real suffering… like the Russian industrialists. All gone to waste.  Now why water all that down?  Bit disappointing really.


Fish Out Of Water

After a bit of a late night I had great plans for Latin study alternated with doing as little as possible today in an effort to conserve what little remains of my sanity at the moment.  It’s heading into silly season and I don’t know why I thought I had a quiet weekend ahead of me, but that went out the window pretty quick.  C’est la vie.

Anyway, today for the first time I ended up at one of those strange cultural phenomena known as a comic conference or a popular culture festival, called Supanova (why they spell it like though, that is beyond me).  I was not expecting to be going, and was rather lukewarm on the concept to be honest… and I certainly wasn’t one of the many in the crowds who had obviously been looking forward to this event for months with great anticipation – sequins, fake blood, brightly coloured wigs and hot glue guns at the ready.  It took me a minute, but as we got near the venue; the penny dropped… aaah pop culture/comics books/fandom/geek fest = cosplay.

brisbane cute sexy outfitsI seriously had forgotten about the complete license to let your freak flag fly at these sorts of events and was initially a little taken aback at the wide and varied and excessively skimpy costumes on display.  If cookie monster hair and a Sailor Moon costume is what it takes to get you going… more power to you.  But I just somehow totally failed to make the connection before we got there for some reason… meh.

So the March of the Weirdos was extremely entertaining (and this coming from someone with 15 years of background in medieval re-enactment… yes, I am fully cognisant of the hypocrisy/irony in the sentiment) mostly because I simply didn’t have the background knowledge to know what the fuck most of these people were supposed to be dressed up as?  I mean I go to an SCA event and I can pick someone who is doing 10thC Anglo Saxon from someone who is doing 15thC Spanish which are both clearly different from 14thC Burgundian or 12th Irish!  But most of the people at the showgrounds today just caused me to me constantly ask ‘What is/are he/she/it/them supposed to be dressed as?”  Absolutely no frame of reference whatsoever for most of them.  I recognised an orc, and saw some robots (but couldn’t tell you what flavour or franchise of robot they were supposed to be), and I saw two Links (thanks Small Child, wouldn’t have known that one without you) and more Batmans than you can poke a stick at.  But past those I was like ‘what’s she/he supposed to be?’ which turned out to be a bit of a pointless exercise anyway because the answers made me none the wiser anyway… I can’t pick a storm trooper from a mechwarrior (?) in a line up anyhow.  :S

graphic novels avengers compendium

We whipped around the pavilions, saw LOT of cutesy cutesy Japanese anime Hello Kitty type merchandise right next to someone selling huge movie related replica swords, knives and quasi-military paraphernalia (paintball, tactical gear, webbing, scopes and balaclavas??)  There was stalls selling comic books, chunky compendiums of graphic novels and serious collectors items alongside with someone selling home made gingham hairbows with little skull faces in them??  Err… a little something for everyone one I think?!?

supanova brisbane merchandiseI rapidly discovered that open ended questions gave me a marginal advantage in stopping me from looking like a complete noompty – so I spent most of the afternoon saying, ‘What is that for?’ or ‘What is that from?’ or just ‘what the hell is that thing?’… :S  Because apparently it’s better to appear ignorant than to get it wrong… as in “Cool, I’m going to buy Mr K this silly figurine from Star Trek that no one likes as a bit of a shit stir! :P” whilst holding up a thing called Jarjar Binks.  Yes, I admit it I don’t know anything about the Stars… Star Treks, Star Wars, Star Gates, whatever!  They’re all the bloody same to me – aliens, lasers and good guys and bad guys (yes, yes, please keep your indignation/incredulousness down to a dull roar… ta).

supanova shopping brisbane weird stuff

merchandise series fry leila nibbler I pottered around the place with an odd feeling that I could not remember the last time I felt so ‘out of place’ anywhere.  I am usually quite comfortable in my surroundings and never feel like I don’t belong or don’t understand the place or my purpose in being there. So it was a very unusual weirdness to feel a bit ‘What exactly am I doing here, and what is this whole thing about?’  Couldn’t remember the last time I felt like such a fish out of water.

Surrounded by confusing icons of pop culture, I did what any sensible woman armed with only a Platinum Visa for protection would do – I shopped!

jar jar binks super mario marty mcfly lego WoW cards I did buy the Jarjar Binks STAR WARS (yes, I was set straight on that one) figurine for Mr K, but I also found boxes of WoW cards and called him to see which ones were which, so I could buy him ‘the right’ box.  I also found a Lego stall and after much deliberation bought the Small Child some Avengers Lego – very cool.  Ummm… I also got a ‘not for tv’ Marty McFly rainbow coloured cap, a strange Mac&Cheese smelling car freshener for the Small Child to hang off his monitor which I thought he might find amusing, and a cute Super Mario belt that spins from a red to a green mushroom (you can’t have a ten year old son and NOT know who Super Mario is so I was safe there).  😀

All up it was a rather entertaining afternoon (an interesting cultural counterpoint to Saturday’s matinee session of Carmen by the Australian Opera Company)… but not sure it’s one I care to repeat.  Been there, done that, what’s next?  :)

Where has all the quicksand gone?

movies old plots device
When I was a kid, quicksand was a popular device used on nearly every cheesy TV show I can remember to create tension and peril of some strange and exotic nature that was foreign to city dwellers the world over.  In fact, even now with a rudimentary grasp of geography and such, I still can’t tell you exactly how quicksand is created without Googling it but have these quasi-romantic notions of how dangerous it can be, how hard it is to detect and that you must not under any circumstances, struggle should you find yourself stuck in quicksand.  And as geographically rare as it may have been in the real world, there was a veritable plethora of it awaiting us on television and at the cinema. There was quicksand in the old Batman series (c.1966) that ran reruns ad nauseum (same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!) when I was a kid – an episode with the Riddler as the antagonist who had cleverly lured the caped crusaders, Batman and Robin to his lair where upon they found themselves drowning in a big birthday cake looking vat of quicksand.  From the same series, Batgirl too ended up in the quicksand once apparently as well.  The Phantom took his dunking in quicksand too at one stage back in ’55.  Dr Who has done the quicksand thing in approximately five early episodes but being a timelord alien thing I guess it’s not surprising where he ends up!

I actually remember at least one episode of Get Smart where Max and 99 were sinking in quicksand while the bad guys watched on and I have vague recollections of an episode of Gilligan’s Island where Gillian and the cute one,  Mary Anne, were sinking in a quicksand/mud slop at some point (along with four other Gilligan’s Island episodes as it happens!).  It turns out Fantasy Island had at least three quicksand episodes, but at least made some kinda sense given because they were on a random tropical island somewhere, film strip plot device ploy old showswhereas Buck Rogers and the 25th Century pulled out the quicksand thing twice and that silly show was is set in the goddamn future complete with robots, loads of aluminium and sliding doors!  Go figure!

The Six Million Dollar Man (djugga-djugga-djugga-djugga-djugga) managed to rescue some ditz from some quicksand on at least one occasion, and the Bionic Woman found herself sinking in quicksand but managed to heroically pull herself free of the stuff before tricking some prison guards into fall the same trap.  Charlie’s Angels used the old quicksand fall back a couple of times too apparently – oh what that must have done to Cheryl Ladd’s flicky hair! Hell, even Daisy Duke from the Dukes of Hazzards ended up in quicksand at some point!  (edit:  I was half right – turns up that the Dukes of Hazzard used the Great Quicksand Plot Device no fewer than four times!).

Soap operas were also fond of the quicksand ploy – Days of Our Lives (three times), General Hospital (four times) and One Life to Live (three times) all throwing it out there for public consumption with alarming regularity. Why it seems the pitched the quicksand story line almost as often as they pulled the amnesia card!  Quicksand even turns up in an episode of Flipper for crying out loud!  Flipper!

The quicksand was also a ‘thing’ regularly trolled out in cartoons back in the day like Captain Caveman, Darkwing Duck, Scooby Doo, The Flintstones and My Little Pony and Friends (I know right!).  The Simpsons were also guilty of being on the quicksand band wagon too, with a record six episodes all from 1989… what a great year for quicksand that must have been!   😀

And then there’s all the quicksand movies plot devices from around the same time. Back in the day, Flash Gordon, The Dark Crystal, Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark all had their heroes facing a brush with certain death by quicksand though I believe no harm came to any of the good guys on any occasion as the direct or indirect interactions with the hazardous stuff.

movie quicksand device plot point unlikely bogus

And of course my all time favourite cinematic use of the highly unlikely yet excessively popular quicksand movie device from the Master of the Absurd himself, Mr Mel Brooks, in Blazing Saddles where he has a couple of negro workers go off the end of a railroad track on a rail cart while singing the ‘Camptown Ladies’… absolutely comedy gold!

So, it seems quicksand was a HUGELY popular plot device right through from the 60s – early 90s… but now it seems to have sadly disappeared from Hollywood’s repertoire.  I’m wondering what happened to the quicksand?  Did audiences get too savvy to ‘buy it’?  Did people suddenly decide quicksand is really rare, man, so how can it be in the middle of Gotham fucking City?  Or maybe it became a victim of global warming or something and no longer seems relevant to today’s audiences….?

(some images and episode info pulled from here)


Every year I get half as pretty and twice as drunk.

Wow.  Where to start?  I went to see Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows this evening and have to say… I was singularly disappointed.  I’ve been a bit of a fan since the way back when machine, so always look forward to seeing his new stuff come out.  But this one reminds me of Sleepy Hollow… it was much anticipated but just kinda failed to deliver.  Apparently it’s based on a TV show from the 60s that I’ve never seen, so maybe that explains my lack lustre response to the film, but even so, when did Tim Burton get so positively predictable?  :S

Barnabas Collins vampire

There was the awkward fish out of water (vampire out of time) pasty white, gaunt, sunken eyed protagonist, a fairly epic cast which he seems to put together for all his films and the same sense of absurdity stemming from taking everyday ‘norms’ and kicking them in the guts to see what sort of kinky, disgusting or disturbing recontextualization he can make of them.  It’s just soooo Tim Burton, it feels like the whole movie is an exercise in self aggrandizement and may as well be a homage to Tim Burton!   Which would be fine if that were the aim, but somehow it feels like there is so much ‘typical’ Tim Burton fare in here, that it feels like it’s all flash and no substance, just sort of … Burton for Burton’s sake.

Angelique Bouchard witch loverThere’s a story, but it’s not particularly compelling, there’s quasi-interesting characters, but they’re not particular engaging and there’s a bit of pith and wit about going on, but it seems to be to no particular purpose?!?  So what’s left?  Johnny Depp plays an 18th century new money American aristocrat who is turned into a vampire by his serving wench/lover (the very saucy Eva Green) who it turns out, hath no fury like a witch scorned when he informs her he could never love her. Basically she kills his fiance, turns him into a vampire (though how, isn’t really made clear) and then systematically sets about ruining his life – his family’s business empire and fucking up the lives of his descendants forever and ever, amen… as you do when you have a rich bastard boyfriend who decides he’s too good for you and that you’re never going to be the one he takes home to meet Mum and Dad…. oh wait, that’s right she killed them off too, for good measure.

Barnabas Collins vampire hypnotizing

There’s a lot I could say about what I thought was wrong with this movie but I won’t, as I think that most Tim Burton and Johnny Depp fans are going to front up to see it regardless of how wonky the reviews get.   Speaking of Wonky, Johnny Depp seems to play a cross between Edward Scissorhands and Willy Wonker in this thing…  no Jack Sparrowesqueness in sight though.  It’s like he’s got two main modes.  😛

johnny depp eva green michelle pfieffer

The other thing that was extremely disappointing is that working alongside the usually fabulous Johnny Depp is an absolute stellar cast – Eva Green as Angelique is a very sexy, determined witch/bitch but she’s kinda a caricature of what she should be; Helena Bonham Carter plays an alcoholic shrink whose character lacks both depth or consequence; Michelle Pfieffer plays a fading socialite who has no impact or presence; Jonny Lee Miller (whom I normally adore) plays a philandering dead beat Dad in a bit part, and some very 21st century petulant spoiled brat performances from the kid actors – Chloe Grace Moretz and Gulliver McGrath – in spite of the whole thing being set in the 1970s!

johnny depp barnabas collins eva green angelique bouchard

Also, even though there’s stereotypical Burton weirdness everywhere, I think the weirdometer just about busts the dial during a crazy arse sex scene between Barnabas Collins (Deep) and Angelique Bouchard (Green) which I admit left most of the audience staring at the screen, giggling awkwardly and all thinking ‘WTF’ by the time the post coital cigarettes were being lit.  :)   But other than a few decent one liners (‘best of’ below) and the expected quirky and off beat dialogue, a few typical OMG Burton moments, oh and some cool costumes and sets… there just wasn’t a lot of substance in this flashy pan of a film.

All from Barnabas Collins (of course Johnny Depp gets all the great dialogue!):

“Fifteen, and no husband? You must put those child-bearing hips to good use, lest your womb shrivel up and die.”

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry. However, it is with sincere regret that I must now kill all of you.”

“Here are my terms: Goest thou to hell, and swiftly please, and there may Azmodaeus himself suckle from your diseased teat!”