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Archive for May, 2008

Escargot

Le Train Bleu

Paris

Oct 8, 2007. Ooh la la.

 

Why can’t I get the images to align the way I have chosen? Back to the FAQs.

 

ps this is the restaurant where Mr Bean had the langoustine and oyster incident in Mr Bean’s Holiday

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Notre Dame, Paris, 2007

Starting to upload and post some photos and details of last year’s grand vacances. Oh, the memories…One Powerball!

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My Superhero

My son hates dressing up and he earlier this year earned the nickname UndieMan for preferring undies and singlet to a costume. But we recently coaxed him into this Batman outfit for a friend’s fairy party. Yes, you read that correctly – it was fairies/princesses and pirates but our only options were fireman, Batman or ninja. We felt it safer to leave the nunchucks at home so Batman it was. Alas we couldn’t get him to stick with the cape and mask. Isn’t he the skinniest superhero ever?

 

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This film review first appeared in The West Australian Newspaper

Cactus

 

Rated M

Starring Travis McMahon, David Lyons, Bryan Brown

Directed by Jocelyn Yuen-Carrucan

2.5 stars

 

The tedium and isolation of driving thousands of kilometres through the Australian outback is hammered home almost a little too effectively in this low budget debut feature from writer-director Jasmine Yuen-Carrucan.

An hour in and two questions spring to mind: are we there yet or are we on the road to nowhere?

Cinematographer Florian Emmerich captures the vastness and desolation of this wide brown land but splendid landscapes do not compensate for the stilted interaction between the lead characters for much of their journey.

The film opens with a violent kidnapping in Sydney.  The city lights quickly fade into the distance as John Kelly (Travis McMahon) takes to the open road in his 1970s Ford Fairmont XA.

Dispensing with set-up, Yuen-Carrucan leaves the audience for much of the film unsure of where John’s going, who his bound and gagged passenger is or his motivation.

What we do glean is that John seems suspicious of Holden drivers and is probably a family man given the stuffed toy on the back seat and other subtle paraphernalia.

During a moment of inattention John veers in front of a police car but it seems it’s his “lucky” day.

Instead of writing John a ticket or worse still, popping the boot, grizzled country cop Rosco lets him off with a warning to not cause trouble on his patch. Rosco is feeling generous because tomorrow he’s giving up cigarettes for his wife’s birthday and will be in one hell of a bad mood.

Screen veteran Bryan Brown, who served as the film’s executive producer, has the small but pivotal role of Rosco.

The drive continues with the kidnap victim, a professional gambler called Eli (David Lyon’s from TV navy drama Sea Patrol) now in the back seat.

Eli has upset a few people with a bogus footy tipping competition but that’s not why he has been kidnapped. As the kilometres tick over, Eli slowly and provocatively chips away at John’s silence.

Eli’s sometimes dangerous line of questioning reveals how much John has been paid for the job. He hits a raw nerve when he asks if the cash-strapped man’s family has any idea that he is out committing such a brutal crime.

The slow-drip of information may have been part of the writer’s plan to build psychological tension but it limits the audience’s ability to bond with captor or victim when it comes to the crunch.

Suspense finally builds in a flurry after a road train driver (Shane Jacobsen) stumbles across Eli, locked in the car with The Wiggles’ Hot Potato on repeat as punishment.

The fateful encounter causes John’s supposedly straight forward plan to rapidly unravel, changing the dynamic between captor and captive.

It is at this point that the road movie/hostage thriller finally gets us to sit up and pay attention by hurling at us the concepts of good and bad luck, morality and justice.

Alas it feels like too little, too late.

 

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This review first appeared in The West Australian Newspaper

21

Rated M

Starring Kevin Spacey, Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth

Directed by Robert Luketic

3.5 stars

 

Movie makers love Las Vegas and Las Vegas loves the camera. The fountains of the Bellagio, the panoramic aerial shots of the casino strip, the neon lights, even the seedy underbelly have becomes staples of the cinema and more recently television.

I can’t play cards to save my life but Australian director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde) succeeds in making Vegas look so darn appealing even I wanted to get on the next flight.

Alas this seductive allure comes at a price and that’s the sacrifice of character development.

The transformation of maths genius Ben Campbell (British actor Jim Sturgess) from straight-A student nervously stuffing wads of cash in his pants to confident Las Vegas party animal living it up in bars and strip clubs is lightning fast.
So fast that when the chips are down, it’s a little hard to empathise with Ben’s won it all then lost it predicament. Ben and his buddies are brainiacs and with or without money they are going places.

Ben is a math student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose potential is spotted and preyed upon by professor Micky Rosa (a predictably malevolent Kevin Spacey).

Studious Ben lives in a dorm room, works part time in a clothing store and spends his spare time working on a robot project with equally nerdy mates.

But Ben’s life changes the night he is summoned by Rosa to view his team’s unusual but profitable extra curricular activity; card counting to make a killing at blackjack.

Rosa’s gang spend weekends living it up in Las Vegas penthouse suites and running their card counting operation using disguises and a sophisticated series of code words and signals.

Sensible Ben has no interest in joining until he receives a persuasive visit from Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth, who get to look gorgeous and not a lot else), the hot chick he has long admired from afar. He figures he will give it a go but will quit as soon as he has the $300,000 he needs for medical school.

The film was inspired by Ben Mezrich’s best-selling novel Bringing Down the House, in which the lead character Kevin Lewis was based on the exploits of Asian American MIT student Jeff Ma.

What a pity the filmmakers weren’t brave enough to cast an Asian actor as the lead rather than relegating the Asian cast to stereotypical parts as high rollers and proprietors and patrons of a seedy gambling den.

Even the lead Asian character Choi (Aaron Yoo of Disturbia) seems to have been cast purely for comic value. That said it’s hard to think of any young Asian actor with a high enough profile to fit the bill.

Ben’s world comes crashing down like the proverbial house of cards when he breaks Rosa’s golden rule.  That’s also about where Luketic starts pushing his luck with the audience, making the film a good 20 minutes too long and throwing in a Hollywood revenge twist.

Although card counting is not illegal it is not exactly welcomed by Vegas casino bosses. Enter old school security expert Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne), who is not beyond dishing out a bit of biffo to end a suspicious winning streak.

He’s a man about to be made redundant by new surveillance technology but for now is the one thing that stands between Ben’s team operating unfettered.

I never did get my head around the count counting caper so guess I’ll continue working for a living, although it’s an entertaining notion that brain power not just luck or cheating could make you rich in Vegas.

 

 

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Getting there

Ok, the image has reappeared but the text is so small it can’t be read by anyone but ants. I’m working on it. I think I like this new theme, I was never keen on the old one’s green hues. Not sure why there seem to be so many text sizes and a mix of fonts.

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I’m Back

Hmm, long time between entries. I have even taken the web address off my signature, for fear of people seeing how few and far between the updates have been.

 

I just tried to change my header image and the whole thing has vanished; something to investigate tomorrow.

 

All that is about to change; I am going to write more often, and write in Word first.

 

I had been considering joining the 100 Words website and figured I’d be better served making more of an effort to write 100 words to publish myself!

 

I’ve also changed my attitude to this whole blogging thing. I think I’ll just write whatever takes my fancy and whatever pops into my head; within reason. After all, I don’t fancy defending myself on a defamation charge!

 

While I am still not actively promoting this blog’s existence, I do hope anyone stumbling upon this or visiting it intentionally are amused, inspired, perplexed but hopefully not peeved!

 

I’m also planning to upload more photos. Not having the Fuji Finepix 6500 for a whole month really took the fun out of taking photos. I’m also looking into upgrading from the Sony Ericsson k750i to a 3-5 megapixel camera, perhaps a Nokia. Still researching that one.

 

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