For what it is worth, I wish to say that David Stratton is an old fuddy-duddy and the movie Cirque du Freak The Vampire's Assistant is a very solid piece of young adult entertainment that is eminently worthy of having sequels.
I will add the disclaimers that I haven't read the source books, so I don't know how true to them the movie remains, and that the term "vampanese" should have been taken out and shot well before they considered including it in the movie.
Just returned from watching The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. Well, after the obligatory post-movie caffeine infusion. Where I discovered that I was probably the only person who actually followed the storyline (and these were not unintelligent people). Then I realised that, yes Veronica, I am much more widely read on theology, gnostic philosophy, and mythic symbology than the average wombat. An excellent film, with (as you can expect) strong visual imagery and excellent cinematography. But if you can't follow the storyline(s) [there were a couple of important ones], well at least you can, by popular acclaim, still go "look at the pretties!"
Oh, and I misremembered the name of the author of the text. It was James P Carse, and the text was Finite and Infinite Games. If you read that, one of the storylines makes a whole lot more sense. (Of course, one must remember that it is also, and primarily, an entertainment.)
On a side note, my favourite type of furry gets a film with him in the starring role: Fantastic Mr Fox (with George Clooney voicing Mr Fox). [Although that being said, I do love the Badger's reply to "what skills do we bring to this group?" Very much a badger after my own heart.]
Inglourious Basterds is quite an excellent film. Well worth seeing. Very ably carried by Christoph Waltz. It managed to cheer me up after Saturday.*
For the squeamish amongst you, there is a bit of gratuitous violence and gore, but what else would you expect from a Tarantino film.
[* I got very annoyed at someone at the Spiral gig, almost to the stage of deciding not to go to any more of them if this sort of thing was going to continue to happen. Then again, they didn't really have to push me that far to reach this decision, and I really doubt anyone would miss me; all I seem to be getting is complaints these days. <sigh>]
Having (intentionally*) not read the books, I suspect that the scriptwriter of The Half-Blood Prince was scared of throwing the baby out with the bathwater when adapting the book. It was a rather disconnected set of vignettes. Hopefully the book will be better.
* Since it's one of the few genre adaptations where I hadn't read the books beforehand (and the first movie definitely showed promise in both plot and historical accuracy), I decided to avoid reading the books (or spoilers) and experience the films first, as an experiment.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is one of my favourite plays. The film, staring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman (or was that Gary Oldman and Tim Roth <grin>) as the titular characters, wasn't too bad either. So that means I definitely have to grab a copy of this when it comes out on DVD.
Thanks to the inestimable drjon for the heads up.
It appears John Woo has sensibly given up on Hollywood (I don't know whether it was prejudice against them or just that their views on what made a good movie where so alien to the American movie executives), and returned to Hong Kong. The result of his return is Red Cliff, the first part of which is now available on DVD.
Here is a teaser:
|I don't know if any Adelaide cinema would even contemplate showing it, unfortunately. Especially as it is only the first half of a two part epic movie (which explains why it ends so abruptly). You can see some of the trailers for Red Cliff 2 here.|
I miss HK cinema. They know how to entertain people.
Quite enjoyed Appleseed Ex-Machina. Then again, we saw the Japanese (subtitled) version, rather than the dubbed English version, which is always an improvement when watching anime. Well worth catching whilst the Anime Festival is on at the Palace-Nova. Then again I've also been a long time fan of Masamune Shirow and his works. Now I'm just miffed that there is no readily available image of Yoshino (the CEO of Poseidon Industries) to convert into a convenient icon, and I'll have to wait until September to do a screen capture. I'm in
Meanwhile Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog has fixed it's problem with non-US viewers (who apparently got fairly irate that they couldn't watch it because of IP filtering software), only to encounter the problem of overload from too many people wanting to see it at once. Can't win on the roundabouts and can't win on the swings. So it's off to the slides for me. I'm told it's good by several
And Sanguine have finally released a
Or alternatively: Go Speed Racer Go!
I quite liked the film, but it's definitely film that will polarise the audience. Either you accept the underlying anime premise and relax and enjoy the movie (in which case it flows a lot faster than you expect), or struggle to catagourise it by thinking it is something that it isn't (and end up leaving in disgust).
The aggregation of boardgames continues, with the likely candidates being Power Grid, Ticket to Ride (Europe), In The Year of the Dragon, and Shadows Over Camelot in this round. I would have gotten Galaxy Trucker or Twilight Struggle, but since neither copes with 5 players I doubt I'll get to play them if I do. Considered expanding Arkham Horror (and still might), but probably won't get a lot of play out of it either (although it would impressive when fully set up). Might also get Give Me The Brain for the non-gamer crowd, although Family Business is probably also a valid alternative.
I was seriously tempted by Agricola,the new German game of being peasant farmers attempting to become prosperous peasant farmers, but this will probably need to wait for the next round of aquisitions (which means someone else from our gaming group will probably snaffle it ahead of me; pity, looks fun).
Meanwhile we have just completed a number of games of Imperial, the pre-WWI game of arms profiteering. Quite a good game with an apparent similarity to the classic Diplomacy game, although this is misleading, since identifying with any specific country is a recipe for disaster. Too many players focused on creating economically viable countries, when the real secret in the game is to steal as much of the country's treasury as much as possible. Also, being in control of the United Kingdom apparently rots your brain.
Still thinking of virtual table-top roleplaying (although in this case it's more probably going to be roll-playing VT and all). Really tempted to convert some old dungeon crawls, and seriously looking at using the old The Fantasy Trip rule set to do so, or at least modifications of it. However this will probably just add another circular tuit to my already impressively-long tuit shopping list. Thinking of getting some more indie stuff, but I'm cunningly going to wait until all the physical items are in stock at the same time, especially since it doesn't seem likely it will get played. Have I mentioned how much I hate the added expense of shipping? Especially since no one seems to offer "tramp steamer" rates any more. <sigh>
The list is out for the 2008 Alliance Francaise French Film Festival. Of note is the near-future SF Chrysalis [5pm Saturday 29th (which means I might be able to also attend the Spiral Dance gig if I want to)] and the ribald comedy Moliere [2pm Sunday 30th]. People may find other stuff of interest. Those of you less privileged (that is, not living in Adelaide), should not rely on the above times. That is all.
And there is nothing suitable for URGA, either.
... because life would have no meaning after she left.
I just saw The Golden Compass, the first installment of the movie trilogy of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Very nicely done. The major change from Northern Lights (the first book of the trilogy), being in recasting the enquiry into Dust to be more of a scientific enquiry than a theological enquiry, and elevating the actions of the Magisterium (who will probably fully replace "The Authority" as the "villian" of the third book). They handled the animation of the daemons and armoured bears very well. The costuming and scenes were excellent, especially the Tartar soldiers. Dakota Blue Richards was quite good as Lyra, although the best actor by far was Sam Elliot who stole every scene he was in as the american aerialist Lee Scorseby. And Eva Green was perfectly enchanting as the witch Serifina Pekkala. <sigh>
Well worth seeing, and almost complete in and of itself, it will serve as a good introduction to what follows. But as far as I was concerned it had the bears and the witches, which was what I'd been looking forward to since the movie was first announced.
The new Beowulf movie (in 3D) does a good job merging what is essentially two seperate stories (Beowulf vs Grendel and Beowulf vs the Dragon) into a single cohesive whole through the mechanism of the third major monster in the tale (The Sea Hag, or Grendel's mother). However in doing so it adds something new to the subtext of the tale which was definitely was not in the original. As to what this new message was supposed to be was never really made clear, perhaps beyond an essential encouragement to practice safe sex.
As a movie itself I felt it was marred by two things.
Firstly they overused the 3D card by taking the opportunity every chance they had to assault the audience with sharp pointy things. This both dilutes the impact of when such things could be used to good effect, and would probably make the 2D version of the movie quite uninspiring. But I suppose that eventually the directors will get used to the new technology and just use it to tell the story and not be the story. In this sense the ad for the new Journey to the Centre of the Earth looks more encouraging (although substituting a father and his kids for a prepared scientific expedition is of dubious reality).
The second was the gratuitous nudity in the film, or rather, the double standard they applied, and how they applied it. Both the Sea Hag and Beowulf had exquisitely rendered full frontal nudity shots, however in the case of Beowulf, a ridiculously comic succession of objects "conveniently" prevented the audience from seeing anything. The sequence went on so long the audience laughed at the ridiculousness of it; while such things work in a comedy like The Simpson's Movie, it doesn't work in a serious movie. They would have done much better to show Beowulf's admittedly heroic tackle (to judge by the appreciative reactions of the women in the mead hall), and not make a point of it. Meanwhile, we get a very slow pan down the body of a highly textured Sea Hag as water slowly and sensually "ungrasps" her body. Very sophomoric, and just what you'd expect from bored male CGI programmers.
For those people who are interested they have finally released the theatrical release version of Night Watch, with the integrated subtitles, in Australia. For those who don't know, the subtitles on the theatrical release were very much a part of the film itself. The previous Australian release had a choice of either English dubbed, or Russian with captions for the hearing impaired. It's on the second disk of the Night Watch: Definitive Edition twin DVD pack.
Also, Tripod are putting on their Christms Show Smaller Than Jesus on the Gov on Wed 12th and Thu 13th of December at 7:30pm ($35, Venuetix). It shouldn't go that late for anyone overlly concerned about a work night. Anyone else interested in going? If so, which day suits you better?
And most RPGers should have fond memories of the new branding on the Tripod website. It's rather fun. I think I actually played that one, once.
Addenda: And did anyone else who watched the interview of Brendon Nelson on the 7:30 report think that the Senate is going to be rather obstructionalist until July.
The essential difference between myth and legend is the resonance of the story to those listening to the tale. If the audience can identify with the tale it gains the status of myth, otherwise it is simply a very old story. By this criteria Beowulf is a legend, as, Asatru aside, very few people can actually identify with the cultural matrix from which the story is drawn. This may account for the vast number of failures in attempts to portray the story in other media. Even changing the genre in which the story is set to science fiction or pulp western doesn't help with this (although it did partially work as a pseudo-chanbarra).
So we have a new portrayal out soon, albiet one that has been heavily reimagined and no longer paying heed to Norse traditions. I don't think I've even imagined a version of Beowulf which portrays Grendel's mother in such a light. Anyway, since very few people are cogniscant of the original tale, I thought I'd provide a capsule summary of the events in the original.
You may realise you're in trouble when the first thing you see is a heavily-bearded gentleman, bible in hand, emerging from the veritable jungle surrounding a deserted house, quoting scripture at you with a holy glint in his eyes. Either that, or you are watching Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter ... and you still may be in trouble.
Now this is a film that is almost impossible to explain. Is it a comedy? Obviously. Is it a vampire movie? Certainly. Is it a martial arts film? Of course. Is it a musical? Well, yes. It even has dance routines. Is it a lesbian awareness film? Probably. Is it a homage to the 70's blacksploitation films? Maybe. Does it include the arrival of a famous masked luchadore to be J.C.'s sidekick? A clown car of evil athiests? Beautiful vinyl-clad women riding motorbikes? Beautiful spandex-clad women doing dance routines? Not-so-beautiful transvestites rescueing our hero? A Star Wars scat featuring Hans Solo and Chewbacca? A bowl of talking cherry icecream? An evil doctor? Sexy vampires? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.
As you may have gathered this is a rather bad movie by any measure, but it is so bad it actually becomes watchable. Very much an amateur production by a group of Ottowans having lots of fun and shooting a vampire movie on the cheap (apparently it was shot on weekends over the course of two years).
As for plot, well the Church has discovered that someone is killing the lesbian community ("Fringe Festival in Danger"). Their only hope is to summon Our Lord to battle the horde of atheists, vampires, and their allies. In this he is aided by his new Apostle, Mary Magnum, and El Santos, the Saint of the Wrestling Ring. And so follows the Kung Fu havoc.
My only problem with this film is that in some of the action scenes the actors didn't quite hit their marks, and so you could see the secret of stunt-fighting (the camera does not allow a depth of field). That aside, I don't think they duplicated a single martial arts move in the entire movie (against a not inconsiderable horde of attackers). Admittedly the choice of weapons at times was rather strange (such as the evil doctor resorting to "kidney punches").
I don't think I'd encourage someone to see it, but if you appreciate good bad cinema, you might consider it. And in what other film could you hear Dr Praetorius say "We are running low on skin. Go harvest a few lesbians."
|I love Hollywood. They are currently claiming that 30 Days of Night is an original, never-done-before, vampire movie. Set in the arctic circle it features traditional vampires (more akin to zombies than the Dracula portrayal of elegance) feasting it up in the prolonged dark. But it strikes me as a rather poor copy of the Swedish movie Frostbite. But I bet that they don't have a vampire impaled by a garden gnome! It takes real class to do that.|
In other vampire news, Moonlight continues to be a cut-price Forever Knight (those who compare it to Angel often forget that Angel did pay homage to it's predeccessor in the vampire reformation movement). However while it continues to offer such treats as Sophia Myles in the shower, it shall probably keep my attention (I is a lad of simple pleasures really).
I have to admit there were bits I liked about Day Watch and bits that I didn't. Overall I was rather unsatisfied on leaving the cinema. Don't get me wrong, I liked the film and they managed to maintain much of the ambience of Night Watch. It's just there is a technique to telling a story that I really don't like, but since it involves a fundamental part of the resolution of the movie I shall write it in white in a white box so as not to spoil people.
I still think Zavulon (the King of Darkness) continues to be one of the coolest Dark Lords around until he loses his cool that is. He continues his manipulations par excellance from the first movie. I was absolutely jealous of his ability to tango (at his wedding with Alicia) great choreography. And I adore the fact that he and Gesser (the Lord of Light) keep ending up having "friendly" conversations with each other. If one is currently in a truce with one's opponent one might as well be civil about it. You constantly get the feeling that in the chess game between the Light and Dark Gesser is outmatched (which is true) and just relying on the fact that "Good always triumphs in the end." [While there was a hint of the traditional flaws of Evil in the conclusion of the "wedding subplot," it seemed to have little effect on the overall conflict.]
I suspect that a lot of this movie ended up on the cutting room floor in order to reduce its overall running time, leaving it rather disjointed in places. Then again, I admit that I was constantly being distracted by attempting to read the russian signs (which considering that I have to transliterate the cryllic alpabet into the greek alphabet and then into the latin alphabet means I definitely lack a certain fluency). But at least I am starting to remember a little bit of spoken russian. Then again there is some good (if slightly surreal) cinema coming out of russia these days (and if it is nor directly surreal it's usually a James Bond style action movie starring the russians, which is surreal in it's own way).
( spoilers within )
It will be interesting to see what happens in the third film, although a number of people who saw the film are lamenting with me the fact that the next film will be produced by Hollywood. Hopefully it won't lose the fundamental Russian character that suits the genre so well.
And maelorin will be happy to know that a song from his favourite Ukranian band (Verka Serdyuchka) was playing during the party scene.
I was going to write a comparison of The Seeker (movie) with The Dark Is Rising (book) for anthraxia but I'm afraid that I can't currently access the section of my library that supposedly houses "C" (not that that is any guarentee of it being there at the best of times whicxh is why I'm halfway through a r3einventory of my library always a sad affair as I determine how many books have been permanently "borrowed" by other people), to refresh my memory.
So, all I can say, is rather than a mystical confrontation between the powers of light an dark it was really the coming of age story of a 14 year old (american) kid. It had it's moments but the lead actor lacked the charisma and acting ability to convincingly pull off his role, especially when faced by the likes of Christopher Eccelston as The Rider and the guy from Deadwood as the butler. Although the portrayal of the Old Ones, both individually and as a whole, was very well done. [It immediately led me to mind of a well-balanced party of adventurers in a modern occult/horror rpg such as Call of Cthulhu or Esoterrorists.] In most places it was a triumph of special visual effects over substance that generally failed to have any depth or project any menace or hope. In other words it failed to capture an emotional resonance with the audience. Then again it is almost impossible to convey growth in character in under two hours. Also non-fandom audiences probably would have gotten lost, and american audiences probably didn't understand the Rider's northern accent.
Hopefully this gives you an idea if you want to see it or not (personally I have a massive bump of curiosity and so would watch it even if it was a complete train wreck, possibly especially if it is a train wreck, but then again, this is not a favoured book from my youth).