I finally got around to watching On the Beach (as I promised in March). It was a lot better than I expected it to be, the characters were compelling but I knew the story already and the conclusion of the film is depressing. I thought they over used the tune Waltzing Matilda. I was concerned about this back in March when I heard them use the tune in the NPR broadcast about radiation as a bogeyman throughout the history of film. I've always had a morbid interest in post-apocalyptic fiction, The Last Sunset computer game series that I wrote in high school was itself a post-apocalyptic story. I think such stories tell us more about how we see ourselves that it does about what the end of the world would actually look like. The US TV series Jericho and the UK series Survivors portray groups of people after their respective apocalypses hanging firmly on to their pre-apocalyptic values in a world where ethics and morals have been set aside by virtually everyone else. This conceit dispelled the suspension of disbelieve for me personally, but I still enjoyed aspects of both shows. The novel The Road (never saw the film) seemed more plausible to me, but it is still very much about maintaining morals. I don't think people would want to read a book or watch a film in which post-apocalyptic was treated more rigorously. On the Beach is different because everyone dies in the end, everyone in the world, and the story is more about how individuals and society deals with this inevitable fact. The radiation is coming from the north, and it hits Melbourne last. People do not run for the south and become refugees. They are stoic. I think this reflects the novel's author Nevil Shute's personal world view, more than reality.
They were doing a pop culture piece on NPR this evening on radiation as a bogeyman throughout the history of film. Presumably this was prompted by the perceived nuclear danger in Japan which has been dwarfed in terms of injuries and death by the earthquake and tsunami which precipitated it. I missed the beginning, so I may have missed my guess. The giant nuclear ants from Them! got a mention, a film I watched with my dad when I was little. The piece ended with On the Beach, a post-nuclear war disaster film starring Gregory Peck with a depressing ending based on the book by the same name by British-Australian author Nevil Shute. I feel like by now I should have seen this film, if not read the book, but I haven't. Anyway, they ended the piece with a mournful rendition of Waltzing Matilda that sounded like it must have come from the film, which annoyed me because I don't think our national song belongs in that film. I am going to add it to my netflix queue to confirm.
Today really felt like shorts weather. Yay for spring! I was in the parking lot down at Wyoming shops today of all places and I felt better than I have in months just because it was so warm. So awesome to feel so alive! I am excited about the approach of beach weather.
$5 got me a once-again-working tyre and for $60 I replaced the ink cartridge in the printer (well more like $30, but I also got a B&W one), which I think I already had a replacement for in a drawer somewhere. These things would be much easier to find if they were on the floor where I can see them.
Also excited because 30 Rock is back on iTunes. I am pretty sure it is on TV here somewhere, but I am also pretty sure it isn't on Aunty which means commercials which I hate. Why does everything have to be about selling stuff? It seems like they can't even sell me something without trying to sell me something else now a days. Like the other day I noticed someone had an iPhone so I asked how she liked it. She said it was wonderful, except for the phone part (it drops calls apparently). Remember when we used to get phones primarily for... well the phone component? Apple has done this really amazing job of making us focus on things that aren't really important. That would make Steve Jobs a wonderful President don't you think?
Brendan Fraser was awful in that Dragon Emperor movie. He was terrible in the first two but he managed to set a new low. The start of that movie so wanted to be Indy 4, which is weird because it was the least cool movie from the series (though still so much better than any of the Mummy movies).
Wanted was pretty bad too, but it was the Russian version which sort of made it interesting. All of the writing was pretty much in English except for the stuff that was important and you were supposed to read, which was in Russian. The audio was English though, so it must have come from a source that was subtitled, although said subtitles had unfortunately been stripped. Cyrillic on the bottom of the screen is the only thing that would have saved it. Seriously. Why do I watch terrible movies? Still, I can't complain for the price of admission on either count.
Re-watched Fight Club. I honestly don’t understand what I saw in that movie. It’s clever, and somewhat anarchic, but like Che it has more traction as a T-shirt than it does for its ideas. Ironically appropriate given the proclivities of Tyler Durden. The film reminds me of just about every frat boy I met at uni.
Re-watching Ghostbusters. The effects are cheesy, but ahh... makes me all nostalgic for New York. Good times. This remains one of my favourite films.
New TV is a good excuse to revisit my DVD library.
Also watched my second demo (e) for the first time on my new TV, and also for the first time with my new amp. Looks and sounds really good :) I decided to skip watching my first demo Final Intensity on account of it being tainted by Kari’s contribution to the project.
Playing through Super Mario Galaxy. I am less than 15 stars short of the final showdown, assuming there isn’t an encore, which there probably is. Running both the Wii and the Mac Mini through the TV has got me to thinking that if the Wiimote worked as a pointing device for the Mac Mini it would be really cool. I still think about interface design issues, even though I am destined to work on server side stuff it seems. It’s a pity that nothing works with anything else. Yay for capitalism and free markets.
Watched Oyster Farmer (imdb). I love this style of Australian filmmaking (Hollywood seems so tired to me sometimes). Had a similar feel in some respects to Lantana and Jindabyne. Oyster Farmer was set on the Hawskebury River, and featured local background colour including bell birds and trains of the Newcastle line which takes me up to Gosford.
On the commentary tracks of The Chaser, they are always talking about how people in Melbourne love it when they go to film there because they get to see places around where they live on TV. I think they must be right, because one of the things I like about the group is that they are almost always pulling stunts around Sydney in places that I recognize. At least part of the appeal to Australian films, for me, is seeing home through another person’s lens.
Tonight I finally got to see The Host (괴물), and enjoyed it a lot. I liked the playful mix of slapstick, horror, and politics.
I liked that it didn’t use the usual
Thinking about Babel, which as mentioned in the previous post I saw yesterday. I’m not giving anything away by saying that the story is divided into three largely unrelated stories. The connection between the stories is tenuous, but they drive each other. The central characters for two of the stories have been nominated for best supporting actress: Adriana Barraza for her character Amelia in Mexico, and Rinko Kikuchi for her character Chieko in Japan. I wonder how unusual it is for a picture to receive two nominations in the same category like that. Anyway, the nominations, and the award if it follows, would be well deserved for either. Kikuchi (26) delivers a particularly believable performance of a deaf teenager.
It makes me wonder though, why “supporting” and not “starring”? It seems mainly because they aren’t Brad Pitt or Cate Blanchet, who received top billing. Their performances were good, but not brilliant by any stretch of the imagination. It seems to me the Mexican and Japanese stories are just as important, and much more interesting than the Moroccan (American centric) story. Making the American and Australian actors the stars and the supporting actress nominations for the non-native English speakers reinforces the belligerent Ugly Americanism of Pitt’s character, who sees the world revolving around himself.
The calm after the storm.
I keep thinking that I am going to get organized and write one of those “real” updates that people so often talk about. (but seldom ever do).
Yes, I am one of those people.
Tonight I went to see Babel. It was a good film. I liked the way events in the movie were connected, but disjointed. It sort of reminded me of Photopia (among the more innovative “games” I have ever “played”).
May you live in interesting times.
I was looking this up and apparently it has nothing at all to do with the Chinese. It must have been one of those mistranslation things, or maybe just some western guy made it up. In the case of the former, then maybe they should have used a babel fish.
Tonight, I took the train into the city and saw Macbeth. It is a modernization, where the players are Melbourne gang members. It was the most innovative production of Macbeth I think I've ever seen. I have never, for example, seen Macbeth seduced quite so literally by the weird sisters. Good stuff, but bloody. If you like Shakespeare and you don't mind a little blood and guts, you'll be missing out if you don't see it.
Today I trekked into the city to get Jasper Fforde's latest book The Fourth Bear. If you like Douglas Adams, or Terry Pratchett, you might like Fforde. I first heard of him when he did an interview on NPR in which he read a passage from his then latest book, where Hamlet, prince of Denmark, is forced to decide what kind of coffee to get when he steps into a modern (198x) coffee shop and is bewildered by the insurmountable choices (Hamlet being well known for his indecisiveness). Maybe you had to be there.
I was pleased to learn than Fforde's next book will be a Thursday Next novel.
Tonight I went to see the Australian film Jindabyne. See it if you get the chance.
I also liked the actor they got to play the Superman. Not because he is a brilliant actor, but because he seams like a good wholesome guy, which is what Superman ought to be, even though he now only stands for truth and justice, but not the American way. He also looks a lot like Christopher Reeve, and I grew up thinking of him as Superman.
Now I am very tired and will be retiring to my warm bed. Thank you and good night.
Regarding The Fountain (by the same director): I know nothing about this film aside from what I just read about it on Wikipedia, but regardless, Hugh Jackman is a way better choice than Brad Pitt, because Jackman is Australian, and besides, I heard Brad Pitt smells.
Then, just now, Amanda was writing about "fiber-based silver contact prints" and I suddenly realized I hadn't printed anything myself for so long that I may have actually forgotten how. I haven't even talked to someone about photo geek stuff in forever. It would be nice to setup a dark room when I find a permanent place to live.
I saw my manager in the hall today and he's like, "uh.. hi... er." He was so uncomfortable, and I couldn't help but think what a moron my manager is. I wonder if he is uncomfortable because he is going to fire me, or something. Depending on the severance package I could be like "Please don't throw me in that briar patch!" Though I'm a little too nervous to expect something like that to work out.
I was looking at Petersen's Wikipedia entry and apparently he is to direct a feature film adaptation of Ender's Game. I'm not sure how I feel about that. The only Petersen movie that I have really liked was the classic Das Boot. None of his Hollywood blockbusters have impressed me much. His direction of John Malkovich's psychopath in In the Line of Fire seems mechanical and faux-psychopathic rather that genuinely creepy (and his direction of Harrison "Mr. President" Ford in Air Fore One is best remembered (by me at least) by him saying "Get Off My Plane" in the manner of Sparkplug Witwicky to his son: "When next we meet, we are enemies!").
On the other hand, the only Orson Scott Card book that I really liked was Ender's Game. The first set of sequels of that series which feature Ender are interesting, but nothing to write home about. The second series, which features his lieutenant Bean, has degenerated into poorly conceived and written war stories about young brat military commanders, and is made up of much pseudo-intellectual banalities. Maybe it is appropriate that someone who only directed one really good movie direct movie adaptation of the one good book written by a science fiction author.
 Dear secret service. Please note that I am talking about fictional assassin and presidents. Thank you.