Tv blabs, movie blabs, book blabs. Lots of blab, but no flab.

Thursday, June 30

Fun With LIttle People

Who'd have thought that Artemis Fowl would be needed to save the Fairy People. Opal Koboi has escaped and is enacting revenge against those who foiled her previous plans for domination of the People.

In what appears to be the final in the Artemis Fowl series, Artemis and Butler are still under the effects of the mind-wipe when they come under attack from Opal. Holly Short has fleed the Haven under suspicion of murder and must try and save Artemis' life. Mulch Diggums is still in prison, but discovers a secret that he must get to Artemis. Everyone in the Haven is in danger and the only people who can save the day are criminals, suspected criminals and a human criminal genius mastermind.

Sounds like a Eion Colfer book!

Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception closely follows the events of The Eternity Code. We find Artemis and his bodyguard Butler out on a school trip and he's up to his old trick of thievery. Artemis seems a changing boy. One who is starting to truly evaluate the himself and the world around him. His loving parents are a major factor in his life now. He no longer needs to be his own family, purely relying on himself for everything now that his father is back and mother has regained her senses.

I quite like the new self-assessing Artemis. He's growing older; he's fourteen now, a time when we start to think about who we really are. This thread carries through the book and ultimately affects how it ends. Holly Short works best when under enormous pressure, and this is the worst situation she's ever been caught in the midst of. She is as witty as ever, even in stressful circumstances, and has a tough job convincing Artemis about the Fairy world and how his history is intermingled with hers.

The Opal Deception is a return to form for the Artemis series. It's fast, funny and full of action with characters that are relatable and entertaining. I'm sad that it appears to be the final chapter for now, but am glad it goes out with an adventure worthy of this criminal genius.

Get Probed

Tuesday July 5 sees the commencement of Taken on Australian TV. Nine have been running a 'coming soon' campaign for about a month now, and last week finally revealed when.

Taken is unlike any other mini-series I've seen. It's 10 two hour episodes, with each ep covering a few years in the characters lives. It begins in the 1940s and that's where the first ep, Beyond The Sky, brings us into the story.

Each Taken ep is directed by a different director much like a regular TV series than a typical mini-series, and the styles of each director really contrast the eras the show covers. The level of detail is quite amazing. Not just in costuming, props and set, but also the lighting and camera moves all enhanced the look and feel of each of the periods.

Throughout the series you'll also be able to play 'spot the Buffy/Angel' actor.

I admit that when watching the entire series on DVD over a two week period it did take me a couple of eps to warm up to the story. The first few eps are worth watching because there is so much information that you accumulate the really enhance the last half of the series. My brother only saw the last few eps of our marathon, and even though he enjoyed, he didn't have the connection with the characters that I'd built up over the other eps.

It's dramatic, fun, scary and pretty much everything else you could feel over it's twenty hour span. There's characters you'll like and one's that you just want to punch.

It's about aliens, but it is really about the effect it has on people.

Wednesday, June 29

A Jolly Old Waste Of Time

Yep. It was fun, but rather pointless. James Marsters and Anthony Stewart Head's interview on RoveLive was directionless as usual. Ok, so it was good to see those two together having a laugh and telling the odd story.

James didn't really appear to appreciate being asked about touring with his band. Surely the researchers should have been able to find out they split up a while ago, thus allowing Rove one less moment of looking stupid.

Tony told a couple of amusing stories about being on Little Britain, then got cut off mid-sentence by Rove who abruptly ended the interview.

Tuesday, June 28

I'm Not That Insane

I like it when I'm not the only one concerned about the disturbing lack of thought that goes into marketing a film. While wandering the aisles of Target last week I noticed the abundance of Batman Begins merchandise in the toy section. Everything from figurines to costumes. All aimed at the under 12s.

Batman Begins has an M rating here.

Now that is only an advisory rating; so parents may accompany younger children to see the film. What sort of mixed signal is the marketing sending to the potential audience? OFLC deem the film not suitable for children to see unsupervised, but produce toys that will encourage children to hound parents into submission.

And that was before I'd seen the film!

Don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and am seeing it again tomorrow (hopefully followed an accompanying post here). As for whether I agree with the several under-12s that were in the cinema during the session I attended, I don't think they should have seen it. Some of it was a little scary for me to look at!

Then tonight's Mediawatch reveals "monstrous marketing Batman!", where, on one page of The Sun-Herald are cross-marketing advertisements with kids magazine, K-zone, for Batman prizes and on the opposite page the reviewer writes "Critic’s warning: Non stop fights and violence. Thanks to the edgy script... the result is obviously not for kids."

Am glad I'm not the only one concerned.

Enough With The False Drama

I can understand the media circus surrounding Douglas Woods' kidnapping in Iraq. It's a big deal. I'm sure it's something that's going to have an affect on the rest of his life. My issue with the whole thing is the lacklustre interview that Ten reportedly paid him nearly half a million dollars for. Such a big deal was made of the 'world exclusive' that you would expect some shocking details to be revealed.

As he said virtually nothing at any media event upon his arrival back in Australia, it wouldn't be a huge leap to believe it was too horrible to keep recollecting that time for every reporter who shoved a mic in his face. So in a poor attempt at sensationalist journalism Sandra Sulley sat face to face and basically asked questions that appear to have been submitted by primary school students.

As much as I hate to say it, at least 60 Minutes would have gotten down to the nitty-gritty and given him a good drilling, even if it was to prove how smart they are. Even though I can't stand Ray Martin or any of the regular 60 Minutes staff at least they can get an interviewee too speak.

Mediawatch tonight also pointed out that Woods' agents also have dibs on the interview if it is on-sold to international media. I hope he uses the money to rebuild his life, and seeing as though he actually lives in America it was nice of him to return to Australia for the pay check.

Click Click Click


The Slayer Library is now 10 000 hits old!

Rove Scores Buffy Double

If you'd not heard, Anthony Stewart Head and James Marsters will both be appearing on RoveLive tonight.

Sadly, I no longer have access to a TV tuner card, so won't be able to supply captures.

If you happen to be in Melbourne this weekend, you could also see them at the annual Buffy Downunder Convention. I'm not in Melb, thus won't be there. :-(

Sunday, June 26

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

I love the random discovery of an interesting show on TV. Having no idea what it's about, but being enthralled enough to stick around and find out. When I flicked past SBS a couple of Saturday's ago and came across what appeared to be a biopic.

Using a combination of archival footage, a 'present day' story line using an actor playing the central figure in his twilight years, and random people bursting into song and turning scenes into musical numbers. The interesting combination of these elements revealed an interesting insight into the life of Harold Arlen.

Now, I can nearly guarantee that name means little to you. I admit to having never heard it before, but his music stands as some of the most influential of the twentieth century. Stormy Weather: The Music of Harold Arlen featured the most famous of Arlen's tunes being performed by well known singers to surprisingly talented actors.

See if you recognise any of these titles:
  • Stormy Weather sung by the still amazing Debbie Harry.
  • I've Got the World on a String performed skilfully by Hawskley Workman.
  • Come Rain or Come Shine by the very surprisingly dulcet tones of Sandra Bernhard.
  • Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive performed in a hilarious asylum scene by Eric Mingus.
Sadly the songs I liked the least were performed by Rufus Wainwright (sorry Lisa): I Wonder What Became of Me and It's Only A Paper Moon. I just wanted him to open his mouth! It's something that annoys me. It's not a singing 'style' if no one can understand a single word your uttering. I love his version of Hallelujah, so I have no idea what he was thinking when recording these tunes.

And the most famous of Arlen's songs:

Over the Rainbow performed by the ancient Jimmy Scott is simply stunning and possibly most bitter-sweet interpretation I've heard.

The format of this film was a great way to be introduced into a life I had no idea existed and a talent under appreciated by today's music. I would certainly add the soundtrack for this film to my collection if I came across it.

Thursday, June 23


Is Tom Cruise looking to be the next Jack Nicholson?

Lets do some maths.

Tom is slightly less than double Katie's age.

Katie is exactly double Tom's daughter's age.

Tom's year of birth is the reverse of Katie's age.

Perhaps Too 'Un' And Not Enough 'Cut'

Big Brother. Everyone either loves it or loathes it. I felt during last year that it was starting to show signs of grasping at straws. The house mates were argumentative and some were downright rude, but most still had opinions and views and were actually able to form an argument. This year I was barely able to get through the second week before each and every one of them was irritating me enough to change the channel.

To quote Corinne Grant from last night's The Glass House, if I wanted to see bogans like that I'd go to a nightclub. That is exactly why the ratings are the worst they've been for the past five years. Having all singles in the house was an obvious ploy that was doomed to backfire really. By having people in the house who are in relationships, there's a conflict about them being faithful and also surviving the time away from the loved ones. There is more to gain from having people in relationships, than a bunch of horny singles.

Uncut this year has really pushed the limits of what's acceptable on TV. I've not been able to watch an entire episode, purely by choice. It has always been risqué, but mostly harmless. This year some of what I have seen has verged upon TV porn. I flicked past the end of one recent ep to have this blonde girl in a bath basically doing everything she could with her breasts to get a guys attention (who was doing his best to ignore her). I'm not going to go into the other 'controversial' incidents that have occurred. You can read this Daily Telegraph article about it, and why Big Brother Uncut has been pulled from air.

The other ludicrous thing about Uncut is they broadcast it live. What's the point? It's a compilation of tapes from the previous week, so who cares if Gretle is in the studio when it air, or a week before.

Overall I think this could be the death of BB. The new chief-executive of channel Ten needs to demand the show be overhauled to provide some semblance of entertainment, rather than the excruciating 39 hours of TV a week Ten is currently wasting.


Who do you think is worse off...

Tom Cruise who had a wittle bit o' water squirted on him as part of a practical joke on the red carpet, then threw a public tanty over it.

Leonardo DiCaprio who was rushed to hospital after a drunken woman attacked him with a beer bottle requiring him to get 12 stitches in his head.

Saturday, June 11

That Cell-Phone Guy

What is the common link between films like the American Pie series, Down to Earth, and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps? They are written, produced and or directed by Paul Weitz. Not really a collection of films to inspire me to see any of his new productions. Thankfully I didn't know this before I went to see In Good Company (btw the site has some great music).

In Good Company is about the unstable world of large corporations and the effect it can have on the people who work within them. The basic concept sounds like a movie I would normally sleep through, but the film turns out to be heartwarmingly watchable. Dennis Quaid plays Dan Foreman, a 51 year old sales executive, who's company has been bought out by a large multi-national, resulting in Dan being demoted and replaced by Topher Grace's Carter Duryea, a hot-shot new up-and-comer who is only half Dan's age.

Most of Dan's former staff are fired and his job is also on the line. Dan's home life is changing also. With two daughters, one of whom is about to move away for college, and the news of a baby on the way, job stability and security is something he needs to fight for.

Quaid plays a very down-to-Earth father and serious businessman. Far more grounded than the 'throw logic into the wind' character that trekked across frozen New York to save his son in The Day After Tomorrow. Weitz has made a good move by casting him against Topher Grace, who's comedic background could have been the demise of this film, actually convinces us that he's a total ass at the start of the film but leaves enough ground for the eventual, and expected, redemption.

What would a film about regular people be without the love story that causes more conflict. Scarlett Johansson plays Alex, Dan's eldest daughter who has just moved to the city to attend college. She meets Carter in the city and the two have the inevitable relationship. All I can say is that everything in In Good Company is handled with a light touch and a sense of grace.

It's not a ground breaking film, although it does deal with with many current issues. It's unlikely to go down in the annals of history as a story that changed the way we think. It is simply a well acted, finely directed film that Weitz should be proud of and that I would recommend to see.

If a film leaves me with a sense of hope, then what more can I ask.

Saturday, June 4

Road To Stardom

Picture a regional university producing a famous Shakespearian play starring local community actors and being performed in the historical Empire Theatre. A recipe for disaster perhaps. Well, as I know most of the people involved, The Show is a funny little show about people I went to uni with. Over 6 half-hour episodes The Show follows the 'behind the scenes' perspective of a large regional community production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Sadly, it wasn't actually a very good production of Midsummer but, by being there on opening night I managed to, unwittingly, end up in a few shots. So if you want to see my mug on national TV tune into the last couple of episodes of The Show. Sunday at 4:25pm on ABC.

Seven has brought Cirque Du Soleil's: Fire Within back to our screens. Sunday morning at 11:30am.

Also look out for Enough Rope With Andrew Denton this Monday night as he's interviewing Steven Speilberg. Hopefully we'll get some more insight into his latest production, War of the Worlds.

Never Pass A Bargain

Whilst browsing the soundtracks section of Sanity today I came across the cast recording of Mel Brooks' The Producers. Surprised was I to turn it over and find that it had been marked as $4.99! There is a difference between impulse purchases and seizing the moment. I've heard the main tunes before and knew it sounds like a whole heap of fun. The whole CD is pure Brooks; the rhythm of the lyrics and the dialect are unique to his comedy and writing.

Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane have such distinct voices that I'd be interested to hear how other performers bring life to the roles.

I haven't seen the show yet. I hope to make it to Sydney in August to see Sydney Theatre Company's revival of the Australian musical Summer Rain, which a friend of mine is working on, and would love to make a weekend of it and see The Producers as well. With Reg Livermore, Tom Burlinson and good ol' Burt Newton it'd be a blast.

Thursday, June 2

A Ratio of Aspect

This is one of my long time teeth grinding topics. Ye olde TV versus the aspect ratio of the item being viewed. My point of view could be summed up in a sentence: everything should be screened in it's original format.

Today I picked up the first season of The O.C. on DVD on-special. How disappointed was I to discover that it's a butchered 'pan and scan - full screen' version. What can the manufacturers of these DVDs be thinking that when someone hands over cash for their product that we don't want to actually get the whole product!

Is it selfish of me to want to watch ALL of something. It made me think of other films and TV shows I've been suckered into buying only to find out 15% of the film is missing. I think the worst one was Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone. And then they had the hide to re-release it in wide-screen format bundled with the CD. Chances are anyone who was interested in buying the 'whole' movie would already have the CD, which meant handing over more cash for something I already had.

I can understand some people having allergic reactions at the terrifying sight of black bars on the top and bottom of their TV screens, but who goes the the movies and has a panic attack at the fact that it's so very wide.

"OMG! Make it thinner!"

I know I'm crossing wires by talking about films and TV shows, but they came to an agreement that 16:9 would be the standard wide-screen. Most movies are filmed in that ratio (big budget epics use full 2.35:1). So they're not that different. Kinda.

So, back to TV. Most prime-time dramas are filmed wide-screen, yet local commercial analogue networks rarely air anything in it's original format. There is the argument that they are going to force me to cross over to digital to enjoy this wide world of wonders, but I'll get to that another time. I have seen, on my normal analogue TV, shows aired in their wide-screen format. ER is one show that I've seen with the evil black bars, Star Trek Enterprise is another. Nine seems to have the couple of shows that are wide-screen, but neither Ten nor Seven seem to be able to keep the bars up.

Thank the stars for ABC and SBS. Both aren't afraid of the black bars. SBS even manages to air films in 2.35:1, which helps greatly with subtitle space.

So my question to the producers of DVD TV packs is: why do you not sell us the product we are looking for?

We would never be happy about buying a car only to find it has no doors, nor would we be accepting of a book that was missing three lines off each page.

Give me my whole viewing pleasure or simply don't bother trying!

Wednesday, June 1

Sniff Cough

It seems I am being punished. I was away for four days before and during last weekend, and what do I come back with? A burning throat, chest that's filling up with unspeakable fluids and a temperature that could fry eggs. Two days of nothing haven't stemmed the tide, and tonight I must face hoards of small children at work. Fun...

Another gem I brought back from my trip was the CD of the Broadway show Avenue Q. I'd heard of it but knew nothing about it. I found out that it won 3 Tony Awards in 2004 and is very popular. So much that it's started a run in Las Vegas. What's it about? A bunch of 'muppet'-esque puppets who live in a very cheap apartment block and what they get up to. It's not a show for kiddies even though it may appear that way on the surface. My closest analogy is that it's a cross between Sesame Street, Rent and South Park. The music is very catchy and very 'musical'. It's not at all politically correct, and strives to point out how rediculous some of the things we do today are. With songs lyrics like "It sucks to be me" and "The more you love someone, the more you want to kill them" it's bound to have you smiling.

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