Tuesday, March 31, 2009
A History of Violence
The graphic novel - V - The Cronenberg film
The graphic novel featuring: Lots of violent, vaguely disturbing imagery
The film starring: Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, William Hurt, An inexplicably-naked-for-a-second Maria Bello
The Gist: Average Joe Small Town (no, that’s not a new reality show on ABC, that’s Farmer Wants a Wife or something) has some gun-crazy lunatics come into his diner and threaten to kill up the place. He responds by going all Jason Bourne on them and putting bullets in their faces. This plays out pretty much the same way in both the film and the graphic novel but from that point on they choose their own paths. Which one you like better will depend on a number of factors because…
And then what happens?: The graphic novel is all about pulpy, creative violence while the film has it’s own agenda. Possibly about modern gender relations, or family values or something. In that regard there are some real problems with it. They set up the wife character as being pretty together and ballsy for most of it, but then have her turn all bla and weak once things go really wrong. And then there’s the completely gratuitous full frontal nude shot. She comes out of the bathroom without her robe fully closed and then walks away. The end. What’s that all about? I think the extended Naked Viggo Mortensen Plus Knife scene in Eastern Promises was Cronenberg’s way of redressing the balance somewhat. Meanwhile the wife character in the graphic novel is unflappable and even gets a good surprise kill in. They give that to the son in the movie version. Hey women, Hollywood called, it says you’re useless. Now take off your clothes.
Read it for: The ending is quite gasp-intensive. I watched the film to see if they could possibly have the nerve to really go for it but alas twas not to be.
See it for: The part where the son finally snaps and slaps up the school bully. Vicarious thrills for anyone who ever met an asshole.
Level of Crazy: 10 for the novel, 7 for the film. Both worth a look, though you might not want to read it on a crowded train like I did...
Sunday, March 29, 2009
by David B.
Featuring: Some real nice drawings. Plus some extra sadness to taste.
The Gist: The autobiographical story of a young boy growing up in a small French town, having the usual rites-of-passage stuff: fighting with other kids in the neighbourhood, tormenting his little sister and shadowing his older brother Jean-Christophe and copying what he does. Then Jean-Christophe suddenly develops epilepsy and the story shows the way the condition envelopes the family like a demon and follows their futile attempts to fight it off for him even though he’s already given up. A laugh riot.
And then what happens?: Since you’re so used to getting the “I’m gonna beat this thing” triumph-against-all-odds side of the debilitating disease story, it’s interesting to see the other side once in a while. Every member of the family is trying harder than he is to figure out Jean-Christophe’s condition which makes it that bit more poignant. Also it hits on lots of other things like the fact that fads and conmen will always come along claiming to have a mystical, fix-all cure for everything and desperate people will pin their hopes on it. Enthusiasts of macrobiotic diets in particular get a good beating in this. I’m looking at you Madonna.
See it for: Epilepsy is represented as this reptilian creature that twists and turns Jean-Christophe during his seizures and begins to mould itself into his bones. Not subtle then, but definitely effective.
Level of Crazy: 9. Interesting! Heartbreaking! And so on.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008)
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day
Weird: How much Neil Patrick Harris looks like an ironed version of Gordon Ramsay.
The Gist: In which Joss Whedon channels his fevered preoccupations with musicals, heroes and villains, Nathan Fillion and general kooky shenanigans into a sing-along blog. Except you can’t sing along because you’ve never heard the songs before. And once you’ve watched it all you won’t remember any of them. Oh and Neil Patrick Harris is in it. Which is nice.
And then what happens?: I’ll admit it right now, I don’t really get this. It’s cute and funny and I was entertained but I have no idea why it exists. And why is it a blog? Does the blog element add anything to it? Not so much, it seems more like an aborted and/or extremely condensed TV series. With songs. And Neil Patrick Harris. Which is nice.
See it for: Neil Patrick Harris. Haven’t you read anything? Also Bad Horse, the super-villain of the piece. He’s an evil horse. He doesn’t do much but that the concept is thrown out there is enough.
Level of Crazy: 7. Maybe 10, I don’t know, I’m still confused. We fear change.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Russell Brand: Scandalous
Melbourne, 21st March 2009
Starring: Russell Brand durr, Australian sluts
The Gist: Russell Brand’s live stand-up show where he waxes lyrical about that whole Jonathan Ross thing. You know that thing where England WENT INSANE and BECAME AMERICA. It was almost like the conservatives of England had gotten tired of the US hogging all the “we’re crazy and hypocritical” glory, what their crucifixion of Janet Jackson’s nipple and whatnot, and decided they’d show them how mass hysteria is really done.
And then what happens?: Brand does have a kind of Marmite quality and I’ve been known to flip flop between loving his antics and being totally irritated by him. On that note I’ll say that based on this he‘s clearly insanely talented. There aren’t too many comedians around at the moment who can throw so many creative, antiquated expressions into their cock jokes. Also the world kind of needs people like him who’ll do a section on the best death threats he’s received. And who’ll actually respond to said death threats with a homosexual advance. And we definitely need someone like him presenting the VMA awards where the people around him are clearly so far from reality that they still insist on thanking god (yes, that god, the one they believe created everything) for winning an award for Sexiest Under-age Female or whatever.
Funniest part: The excerpts from his aborted VMA script. He reveals that from the point at the beginning where he mocked George Bush he realised that he couldn’t possibly say any of the things he’d written and would have to improvise the rest of the live awards ceremony to a packed house of humourless Americans. Then he reads from the original script. Suffice to say, Britney would have cried. A lot.
Level of Crazy: 9. Less talk of bumming next time perhaps.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World (2007)
Starring: Playmobil men in tank tops
They’re happy and gay like you wouldn’t believe,
With lesbians, a baby they try to conceive,
Ouch, I just spilled some hot tea all over my sleeve.
And so on.
And then what happens?: Little toy people being mean and gay to eachother. I’m not sure if straight people are allowed to laugh at this, it’s kind of a grey area. It’s like whether white people have permission to laugh at that Ebonics Delta commercial. Everything is painfully accurate, and just about three degrees north of reality, so you and your gay friends will have a whale of a time, but if you find you’re the only straight person at the tea party then you might be conflicted. That being said maybe all the references to fisting and whatnot would fly over your head anyway and you can just appreciate the bitchery. Everyone loves that.
See it for: Dana the Lesbian. She’s everything you know you’ve met a dozen times before but can’t joke about cause she’s just too much of a stereotype. I haven’t seen the last series of The L Word yet, I’ve heard it’s insane so I’m hoping she turns up and punches Jenny Schecter in the face.
Level of Crazy: 6. I love this song!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Let the Right One In (2008)
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson
The Gist: Bullied boy (Hedebrant) meets girl (Leandersson). She happens to be a vampire. She’s moved in next door with some old guy, who I’ve decided is her brother, though it’s not made clear at all. Together they discover that vampirism is a metaphor for puberty and sex. Not much else happens, and whoever made this seems to realise everyone’s on to the whole vampires-equal-sex thing. They shoot it really nicely and throw a lot of interesting deaths at you so you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time. Even though you kind of have. Ooh look, more blood!
And then what happens?: The reason this is getting a lot of attention, apart from it being better than your average vampire film, is that it’s from Sweden. That means subtitles, and subtitles mean it’s important and you’ll look fancy if you have it in your DVD collection. But the best part about it being in Swedish is that it’s an inherently funny language. If I ever see it again it will be as part of a drinking game where everyone knocks something back when a character says “ja” or “nej”, or when over 75% of a given shot is comprised of snow.
See it for: The scene at the pool. The weeping boy with the Princess Diana hair. Ha.
Level of Crazy: 7. Vi ses snart slampa!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)
Starring: Daniel Johnston and his family, friends, bandmates and managers
The Gist: It’s a documentary about Daniel Johnston, a singer/songwriter you might never have heard of who gained a cult following in the late 1980s and hung out with people like Sonic Youth. His voice is odd and his songs are odder still, but you’ll want to track it all down after seeing this. He’s also majorly bipolar and has been in and out of mental institutions since the time he became halfway famous.
And then what happens?: An uplifting (sort of) and desperately sad story about the effects his condition has on the people around him. You get a rundown of the highs and lows of his bizarre career: how he joined a carnival and travelled with them to Austin, Texas where he started giving out handmade recordings of his first album Hi, How Are You?; how he scared a woman so much during one of his crazy phases that she jumped out of a two storey window to get away from him and shattered her ankles; how he had no ability to re-record his tapes so would perform Hi, How Are You? over and over again to make the tapes to hand out. Interesting guy to learn about then, and great music, but you’re kind of thankful that he’s far away from you.
See it for: The part where his father describes the night Daniel took the keys from the plane he was flying them in, forced himself into the driver’s seat and proceeded to fly them straight up and straight down over and over again. He managed to grab the keys in time to crash them into some trees and survive but he just disintegrates on camera when he talks about it.
Level of Crazy: 10. Well, he’s crazy, so it’s crazy.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Island Nation of Nauru (1968 - Present)
Featuring: Phosphate. Then no phosphate. And Germans.
The Gist: Officially known as the Republic of Nauru, but more widely known as the world’s smallest island nation and also the only republican state in the world without an official capital. And by widely known I mean known to me, the population itself (I assume) and this random girl I know who became the official UN representative of Nauru because they asked her to intern for them at the offices in New York. Upon arrival she realised she was the only person there who knew it was even a country.
And then what happens?: She sat in at international conferences as the only, and therefore most senior, Nauruan (Naurish?) representative. And met Obama. In terms of history it’s generally been swapped between the Germans, then the British, and then it was a bit of a hot potato when Japan took it over during Word War II. At that time it had the highest income per capita in the world. Now, not so much, and if anyone has heard of it here it’s because that’s where Australia detains asylum seekers when it doesn’t know what to do with them. Like those guys who floated here in the beer cooler. They’re probably there now.
Go there: Cause you might as well if you get the chance. Between December 2005 and September 2006 it was inaccessible when the only national airline stopped operating. Also Nauruans are statistically considered among the most obese people in the world. Go look. Point.
Level of Crazy: 9. “Tourism is not a major contributor to the economy”. Shocking.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron (2004)
by Daniel Clowes
Featuring: Twelve shades of crazy.
The Gist: Clay Loudermilk stumbles into a porn theatre where he’s shocked to see himself pop up in a hardcore S&M/potential snuff movie. He follows the huge line of guys queuing for the bathroom and goes into the wise Indian oracle’s toilet cubicle. He gives Loudermilk the address of the company that produced the film; he then borrows his friend’s car to drive out to the place. Oh, did I mention the friend has some kind of infection in his eyes so they had to be taken out and replaced by sea creatures for a few days? I always forget that part.
And then what happens?: Too much to mention. Clowes also wrote Ghost World and Art School Confidential so a cynical outlook on the world was to be expected, but in all honesty this is the most relentlessly weird and scary and creepy thing I’ve read or seen or had nightmares about for quite some time. If David Lynch, David Cronenberg and Guy Maddin all got together and had a Who’s Weirder? contest, this would beat all of them to death with it’s mutated flippers.
Read it for: The part where Tina the drunk mutant sea creature seduces Loudermilk.
Level of Crazy: 10. There’s about one shudder per page.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
This Dream I Had Last Night
Starring: Quentin Tarantino, A sofa, A billboard for Watchmen
The Gist: A group of people are watching a film where there’s a serial killer on the loose, and it’s this crazy girl with a machete who’s covered in blood and just kills everything. So you think she’d be easy to spot right? Wrong. This film is apparently Reservoir Dogs 2, but then it’s not anymore cause it’s real and she actually is going around killing everyone, including two kids like in When A Stranger Calls.
And then what happens?: I wake up on a sofa that’s been left on the side of a busy road, like the one I pass on my way to the library. The sofa is right in front of a giant graffiti-ed billboard for Watchmen which is part of a huge movement to graffiti every billboard in the world. I feel compelled to photograph it and show people. Then I remember the crazy machete woman, which is a total drag cause I found the billboard storyline more interesting. I go back in time somehow and the children are saved. Then the machete woman isn’t a woman anymore but a man with emo hair. Disappointing conclusion I think, even for a dream.
See it for: This is what happens when you can’t sleep for a few hours, spend the time sitting awake wondering the best route out of your house in the case of fire/machete-wielding intruders and then fall asleep.
Level of Crazy: 8. I’ve had better.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Fast Food Fast Women (2000)
Starring: Anna Thomson, Jamie Harris, Louise Lasser, Robert Modica
The Gist: Bella is an eccentric woman staring down the barrel of her 35th birthday. She works as a waitress where she’s nice to everyone, including the stuttering Polish prostitute who works the street outside the diner. She’s having sex with this disgusting guy who I remember from somewhere. Some crotchety old men eat at the diner and complain about life. With sexy results.
And then what happens?: The thirty-something people date eachother but screw it all up somehow and end up sleeping with the sixty-something people. The sixty-something people also date and manage to screw things up then wind up in bed with the thirty-somethings. It’s not so much about the characters learning life lessons but the film itself saying in a non-cutesy, non-irritating, non-Something’s Gotta Give kind of way that people will always have sex and be confused about what it all means, no matter what age they are. And it doesn’t shy away from showing the older couples making out, which earns it major points.
See it for: Anna Thomson’s face. It confused me at the beginning of the film but now I’m totally fascinated by it. She’s also the woman I described as being like Angelina Jolie’s drag queen grandma in Water Drops On Burning Rocks. Surgery or just cartoon-ish features? Either way it’s my new favourite face and she’s got a great “meh” quality here that’s very endearing.
Level of Crazy: 7. If you only see one slightly odd inter-generational comedy this year, make it this.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Love The Beast/Eric Bana Q+A (2009)
Starring: Eric Bana, Jeremy Clarkson, Jay Leno, Dr. Phil, Some Car
The Gist: So Eric Bana just made a documentary all about himself. He says it’s about his car and friends and love for his family and bla-bla-bla but it’s The Eric Show. Which is surprisingly not bad. It’s cheesy and self-indulgent and the narration in the first five minutes will make you pine for Morgan Freeman making up stuff about penguins even though they’re cute enough already dammit, but he’s not the worst person to be around. He also seems to understand that some people might not find cars all that interesting so around the 45 minute mark, just as I reached motor sport threshold and my mind started to wander, he goes BAM and puts in a montage of car crashes. The only thing missing was wacky sound effects. Unfortunately he didn’t call ahead and tell the guy sitting next to me to have a wash cause he smelled like sweaty faeces but then nobody's perfect.
And then what happens?: He decides to do a crossover of The Eric Show with The Dr Phil Show for some reason. Those parts go something like this:
Dr Phil: If Eric Bana loves a car, and you take that car from him and hide it away under a blanket, what do you get? That’s right, a delicious turkey dinner. I’m not trying to scare you but picture for a minute an airplane turned upside-down, hurtling towards the earth. Now imagine Eric Bana’s car was the pilot but didn’t make it to work on time that day cause it was parked in a garage somewhere. What would happen? That’s right, Queen Latifah would have French toast for breakfast. Do you understand?
Eric Bana: I see.
See it for: No idea. I only went because Eric Bana was actually going to be there. Besides that I really don’t see why anyone would care.
Fine then, what was Eric Bana like in person?: Very pleasant. There was a Q+A thing where people in the crowd asked him questions each of which was a thinly-veiled version of “Hi Eric, loved the film, can I see your penis?”. I considered asking him what the hell Dr Phil was doing there but got distracted by his jawline. Also the smelly guy left just before the Q+A section, and the tickets were relatively expensive. You intrigue me, smelly man.
Level of Crazy: Maybe 5. But it’s ludicrous that this film exists at all.
Monday, March 2, 2009
No proper review today, going to the fancy Nova cinema across the road to hear Eric Bana explain why he made a documentary about some car. That's right, Chopper himself. Well, not the actual Mark 'Chopper' Read, he's in Tasmania somewhere writing children's books. One of them is called Hooky the Cripple: The Grim Tale of a Hunchback Who Triumphs (you can buy that here, my birthday's next month). Full report on the whole business tomorrow. Probably.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
1. It was Winslet’s turn. Well played, Gervais.
2. ‘Fingerf*cked by the Prime Minister’ is not the new Lily Allen song, but it probably should be.
3. Now that Milk won some stuff Gus Van Sant can get back to bringing the melancholy crazy with Abercrombie models right? That never gets old. And neither do the models.
4. I preferred when people being set on fire in Danny Boyle films was fun, like in 28 Days Later.
5. It doesn’t matter how annoying and penis-having your love interest is in a Japanese zombie rock ‘n’ roll horror classic, you just have to suck it up and fall for them.
6. If you talk about AIDs in a Canadian high school, you will most likely get HIV.
7. Bitchy old men in cravats don’t care how nice your lederhosen are if you haven’t scrubbed the floors properly.
8. Slumdog Millionaire is the leading cause of lengthy arguments here at The Hair Institute. I look forward to it going away now thank you.
9. Max the Sexual Mule is my new favourite movie animal.
10. There’s no problem so big that it can’t be solved with a good pick-axe to the face.