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Archive for November, 2008

Warning  - cannot charge device!

Warning - cannot charge device!

Not happy Jan.

Got my early birthday present a few weeks ago, a Bose

SoundDock, which happily cranks out tunes and charges the iPod Touch 1G. Only been waiting for about three years, ever since Natalie Bassingthwaighte (who was still in Neighbours and just starting with Rogue Traders) raved about how she took hers everywhere.

Then, last week had the good fortune (thank you Network Ten!) to get the iPod Touch 2G with the nice silver trim, slightly lighter form factor (maybe that’s an illusion) and best of all, the built-in speaker.

Husband immediately pounced on the 2G but after he purchased some skins and covers that were designed for the 1G, was convinced to do an exchange.

So imagine my horror tonight when I docked the 2G and got the warning message that the device was incompatible with the Sounddock and won’t charge. Argh! Should we ever have an all night party (haha) looks like we will be using the 1G to pump out the tunes or going back to the iPod video.

This of course now explains why the Bose SoundDock was suddenly on sale for $349, which is $100 less than usual. There was small print saying not all iPods may be compatible but my husband is pretty sure he asked and was told the iPod Touch would work.

So, music lovers, if you want an iPod Touch 2G and a Bose SoundDock that charges it, make sure to buy SoundDock 2 or apparently the portable version (both in the $449 price range).

I will either have to swap back to the 1G or get used to charging on USB overnight before a big day of music. Incidentally the 2G apparently doesn’t work on the Belkin charger in husband’s car, either, he just assumed it was old and faulty (the charger, though, same could be said of the car!)

There is lots of information here: Apple iPod Touch 2G incompatibility thread

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Hearts aflutter

It was a bittersweet day Tuesday when the willy wagtail babies born and raised in our backyard about 2-3 weeks ago decided it was time to leave the nest.

Proud Parent of three, alas, one baby now MIA

Proud Parent of three, alas, one baby now MIA

The nest was constructed on a piece of disused exercise equipment just under the eaves. The adult birds are excellent parents, very protective and spending hours on end catching bugs for the babies to eat.

Sadly, we seem to be down to just two baby birds. Each night since leaving the nest they have been sitting on our roof or our neighbour’s gutter but for at least 24 hours we have not seen the third baby.  We have seen two today on the pool fence, the roof and in the patio area but no third.. :-

Photo gallery at Flickr.

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An occasional series of musings.

1. One should always return phone calls within 48 hours of receiving them unless in hospital, in another state/country or incapacitated. Ditto for emails.

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Death Race. Dead stupid.

Here’s another review from last week. Possibly the worst film I have seen this year. I wish I had seen a few more 4 star films of late!

Jason Statham just seems to keep playing the same old parts. It’s amazing how many people (including Richard Wilkins, I heard him on Today!) call him Jason Stratham or Jason Stretham. Google if you don’t believe me.

Death Race (MA)

Jason Statham, IanMcShane, Joan Allen

Directed by Paul WS Anderson

1.5 stars

 

 

Some women might find an evening with the buff and tattooed Jason Statham an appealing prospect but having seen the trailer for Death Race, I was looking forward to seeing his latest film about as much as doing my tax.

If you have seen the trailer, there’s little more to be said. But for those who haven’t, the story goes something like this.

It’s the year 2012, the US economy is a mess, unemployment is high and prisons are under private control and at maximum capacity.

Former steel worker and race car driver Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is framed for the murder of his wife and sent to the worst prison of all, Terminal Island.

Ice queen warden Hennessy (Joan Allen) tells Ames he doesn’t belong there and offers him the chance to walk free.

The catch – he has to drive in the death race. This internet streamed event has become a ratings hit and cash cow for Hennessey but ratings have slumped since the death of their favoutie driver Frankenstein.

Fans believe Frank – so severely disfigured he wears a heinous mask – has been in the infirmary for six months and Hennessy wants Ames to don Frank’s mask so he can “return” to the track.

Any prisoner to win five rounds gets to walk free and Frank already has four wins on the board. All that stands between Ames and freedom is, well, quite a lot actually including an assortment of badasses that make the cast of Prison Break look like pushovers, nasty guards and an arsenal of killer cars and weapons.

Ames might not be the sharpest tool in the shed but he soon realises his freedom is not going to come as easily as winning one race. There’s so little plot to reveal any more would blow the lot.

And so to the stunts. This is one of the only action films I can recall ending with the bold disclaimer that all stunts were performed under controlled conditions by professional stuntmen and should not be replicated.

Surely even the dimmest hoon would realise it’s not going to be an easy feat to get hold of armoured cars that look like modified tanks and have been fitted with napalm, machine guns and flame throwers?

This loose remake of the 1975 film Death Race 2000 really is horrible. Paul Bartel’s film started Sylvester Stallone, among others, in a cross country race where competitors scored points for killing pedestrians.  Here the violence quota has been upped so high there’s little room for humour.

At the start of the film we get a glimpse of the decent family man that former bad boy Ames has been striving to become but his wife’s murder is a poor excuse for the non-stop carnage that follows.

Still, what more should I have expected from director Paul WS Anderson, whose credits include Alien vs Predator and the video game to film translations of Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat?

Just like the gratuitous violence of many video games, participants in the death race are crushed, smashed, splattered and blown away in graphic detail.

Dialogue and plot take a back seat to the industrial sets and souped up killer cars that blast their way through their bleak surroundings.

To add eye candy and reduce credibility even further, every driver gets a scantily clad female navigator from the nearby women’s prison. The only driver who gets a male navigator is Ames’ main opponent Machine Gun Joe, who is apparently gay, a fact that has no bearing on anything else in the film.

Ian McShane of Deadwood adds a sliver of humanity among the mayhem as Ames’ head mechanic Coach but how he got caught up in this mess is anyone’s guess.

 

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Stop wearing deodorant, eat raw garlic, don’t bathe….

Just joking. Here’s a review of a film I actually liked! Much better than Simon Pegg’s last offering, Run Fatboy Run. Though nothing has yet topped Shaun of the Dead, IMHO.

This appeared in The West Australian last month.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (M)

Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges

Directed by Robert Weide

3 stars

 

Magazines, newspapers and websites have a seemingly insatiable appetite for celebrity gossip and scandal, so following every move of the rich and famous has become an increasingly lucrative fulltime occupation for many writers and paparazzi.

Yet many entertainment writers struggle with the constant dichotomy of needing to be enough a part of the in-crowd to get the scoops but far enough out of it to do their job.

British celebrity writer Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) thinks he has found Shangri-la the night of the Apollo Awards when his companion, the dazzling but dim Sophie Maes (a sultry and pouty Megan Fox), wins best actress for her portrayal of Mother Theresa.

Sophie had previously promised Sidney she would sleep with him if she won the award. But just as it looks like Sidney is about to get everything he has ever desired, he gets a wake up call and sabotages himself.

How Sidney gets to this defining point in his personal and professional lives forms the basis of this film based on the memoir of former Vanity Fair writer Toby Young.

The inherent problem with a film like this is the average punter will probably regard it as an off-kilter romantic comedy about a journalist who seems a bit of a tosser. In fact, the romantic comedy angle was created to give a series of funny disconnected events from Toby’s life a spine.

Like his cinematic alter-ego, Toby left London with the aim of taking New York by storm but managed to get fired from Vanity Fair after alienating all the people he was supposed to write about.

In London, Sidney runs a satirical no-budget magazine called Post Modern Review from his flat above a kebab shop. Banned from the celebrity functions he loves to skewer, Sidney resorts to posing as a waiter to get into A-list gatherings.

Somehow his spirited writing catches the eye of one time rebel Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges), now editor-in-chief of Sharps magazine and soon Sidney is living above a kebab shop in the Big Apple trying desperately to get published.

Problem is, Sidney discovers that the Sharps brand of celebrity journalism is more about being sycophantic than satirical. 

He quickly gets everyone offside, from slimy, well-connected senior editor Lawrence Maddox (Danny Huston) to publicity queen Eleanor Johnson (Gillian Anderson), who can’t understand why Sidney won’t accept her offer to interview a hotshot film director in exchange for editorial approval.

In Simon Pegg’s capable hands Sidney isn’t nearly as dislikeable as I was expecting and is apparently much tamer than the real Toby. He’s more of a bumbling fish out of water, wearing crude shirts, socks with sandals and confusing korma with karma.

He speaks his mind, thinks Con Air is the best film ever made and simply can’t stand all the fawning that goes on to land a celebrity scoop. In fact Sidney just about pukes when Eleanor tells him landing an interview with one of her stars equates to them “offering you some of their starlight to sell your magazine.”

Sadly that’s about as far as the film goes toward exploring the almost chicken and egg like (or some say parasitic) relationship between celebrities and media.

Despite a rocky start, fellow Sharps minion Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst) becomes Sidney’s only friend. An aspiring novelist and fellow out of towner, Alison eventually comes to understand there’s more Sidney than a case of chronic foot in mouth disease.

After one faux-pas to many, Clayton tells Sidney he’s on his last chance. But it takes a major jolt in his blossoming friendship with Alison for Sidney to abandon his principles and throw himself headlong on to the celebrity schmooze and scoop bandwagon.

Unfortunately director Robert Weide of TV’s Curb Your Enthusiasm takes too long getting to the point when Sidney’s priorities change, then just as rapidly applies the handbrake to bring the film to its slightly sappy halt.

The introduction of Sidney’s famous intellectual father and revelation about his mother’s early career also come late in the piece but help explain Sidney’s motivations and make the character more sympathetic.

Hilarious scenes punctuate the film, some slapstick, others more gross-out in nature but their placement often seems disconnected from the main plot.

Filmgoers will relish those comic moments while the minority who have experienced celebrity first hand may squirm at the home truths, cringe if Sidney’s experiences trigger old memories and sigh with relief that Perth is mostly Eleanor Johnson-free.

 

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Don’t look now, it’s Jack Bauer, oops I mean Kiefer Sutherland, taking on the forces of evil…that live inside mirrors.

Here’s my review from The West Australian today.

Mirrors (MA)

Kiefer Sutherland, Amy Smart, Paula Patton

Directed by Alexandre Aja

2 stars

You wouldn’t want to be a narcissist among the cast of Mirrors, a new horror thriller in which malevolent forces use the humble looking glass and other reflective surfaces to unleash evil.

Down on his luck former cop Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) takes a night job working security at the derelict Mayflower department store which was gutted by fire five years ago.

Carson, a former NYPD cop, lost his job after accidentally killing another officer, a fact revealed in a newspaper clipping among his boxes of possessions.

After the shooting Carson hit the bottle, became estranged from his wife Amy and their two children and started sleeping on his sister Angela’s couch.

A remake of the 2003 South Korean film Into the Mirror, there were times early in the film when I did have a genuine sense of fear, perhaps inspired by a nervous 10 minute stint where I was the only person in the  cinema (did that curtain just move?).

The dark atmosphere is suitably creepy and there are glaringly obvious hints in the clunking soundtrack whenever something bad is about to happen.

Dozens of charred mannequins and shop displays are in stark contrast to the magnificent gleaming mirrors, giving the first of several indicators something’s not quite right at the old Mayflower.

French director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) initially does a reasonable job of building the psychological tension and there are signs he has perhaps been schooled in the M Night Shyamalan school of storytelling (hint: supernatural overtones and a big twist).

But Aja starts to make a mess of it way earlier than the ending – probably around the time when one of the characters rips off her own jaw.

Grotesque and violent in the extreme, I watched the scene through eyes half-closed but my fear and squeamishness completely subsided once I realised just how ludicrous the plot had become.

Mirrors is at its scariest when the evil can’t really be seen or heard, with the audience and Ben’s family wondering if the bad things he is experiencing are hallucinations caused by the heavy medication he is taking to combat his drinking problem.

Once the evil follows Ben home and to his car, plausibility begins to wear thin.

In fact one of the scariest things about the film is not the mirrors but the imposing, haunting Academy of Sciences building in Bucharest which was used as the Mayflower. Commissioned by oppressive Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu and left unfinished following his death in 1989, one floor of the building was dressed to resemble a once opulent department store then burned and blackened.

Angela suggests Ben should simply quit and get a day job (why not just stop looking in the damn mirrors!) but the cop-within seems determined to crack the case of the Mayflower, which in a previous life was a hospital.

Even learning the fate of his predecessor doesn’t deter Ben, who by now is getting creepy messages in the mirrors and becoming more ostracised from his family instead of closer to them.

Golden Globe and Emmy winning Sutherland seems to be channelling his popular 24 character Jack Bauer, a conflicted but devoted family man who can be ruthless when required. Smart is underutilised and Paula Patton’s character Amy goes unconvincingly from being independent, protective and suspicious of Ben to needy and fearful.

Let’s hope audiences don’t get seven years of bad luck just by watching Mirrors.

 

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