Monthly Archives: December, 2012

Trailer for your Weekend: Pacific Rim

pacific rim

Guillermo Del Toro has not been seen behind the director’s chair too much since dropping out of The Hobbit (correct me if I’m wrong – I was too lazy to google this). But here comes Pacific Rim, his long gestating tale of robots taking on monsters.

Del Toro is one of the most beloved visionaries working in film today. I must admit I have not seen too many of his films. Pacific Rim looks pretty epic though with stunning visuals – that huge whale skeleton early on blew my mind a little bit. Aside from the terrible Independence Day style jingoism that I am not at all keen on, this has me relatively excited to check the film out. Those monsters running rampant should be incredible viewing. Here’s hoping there is some narrative originality to go with the visuals though.

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Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

Alright, before I can into this post proper, I have to admit that I am shamelessly stealing this idea from a blog I read a week or two ago. My intention was to give that person a big plug and shout out. But now, for the life of me, I can’t remember who’s blog it was I read the list on. So I’m really sorry whosoever idea I have stolen. Feel free to abuse me.

I thought that given Boxing Day is probably the biggest film release day of the year, it would be a good time to peer into the future at what the next 12 months will hold for cinemagoers. These are the 10 films that I am most looking forward to most next year (that have an Australian release date and a trailer I could find) in no particular order. This list will be different to most you see, because Australian release dates seem to be getting worse and worse. So whilst some of these films have been out for months elsewhere, I’m still really hanging out for them. Share your thoughts on your most anticipated films in the comments below.

Django Unchained

django

Sorta like a new Malick film, a new Tarantino film is something to be cherished. After conquering the war genre with his last effort Inglorious Basterds, cinema’s alpha nerd turns his attention to the movie world’s most iconic genre, that of the Western. This will no doubt be controversially violent and more than likely pretty awesome.

Life of Pi

Pi

This film was not really on my radar until I saw the trailer at the cinema. Now it is all up in my radar’s face. It looks a little sentimental, but more importantly it looks  truly mind-blowing visually. It may have substance, but I want to see this and have my mind blown by style.

Gangster Squad

gang squad

I almost disqualified this film on the basis of its utterly shit title. Disgraceful. But have you seen that cast? I love a good gangster flick and unfortunately they are relatively rare these days. But hopefully this can deliver on its (delayed) promise.

Flight

flight

I’ve heard mixed things about this film. But I am a big Denzel and an even bigger Zemeckis fan (I think he is one of the more underrated directors still working). This makes the list simply because of those two members of the  personnel behind it.

Anna Karenina

Anna

Much like Life of Pi, I was not really tracking this film until the trailer blew my mind in cinemas a couple months ago. Another that many of you lucky jerks have already seen, I am keen to see how this one goes down. Especially keen to see how Kick Ass himself does in a serious role.

Oz the Great and Powerful

oz

Blah, blah, blah, not on my radar, blah, til I saw the trailer, blah. Actually this pretty much mirrors my reasons for The LIfe of Pi. Looks like it has the potential to be visually stunning and am intrigued to see Mr Raimi’s take on this universe. James Franco is one of the couple of most interesting actors in the world too, so will be great to see what drew him to this.

World War Z

WWZ

Brad Pitt taking on the zombie hordes. I have not really gotten into this whole zombie renaissance that we have going on. But i have heard so many interesting things about the book from a huge variety of people that I am keen to see what the fuss is about.

Monsters University

MU

Wall-E is the best film Pixar have ever made. But Monsters Inc is my absolute favourite. I watch it at least once a year. And I know many are complaining about Pixar’s recent move to sequel territory. Usually I would be somewhat with you, but not in this case. I want to be drawn back into this world.

Star Trek into Darkness

trek 2 dark

I’m no Trekkie, but I quite liked the preceding film. And I adore Benedict Cumberbatch, I think he is so brilliant in Sherlock, so definitely keen to see him have a crack at a Trek villain.

To The Wonder

wonder

It’s Terrence Malick, he’s all of a sudden sorta prolific. In my eyes he is close to the greatest artistic film director in history and I rush out and see every film he releases.

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Season’s Greetings

xmas bunny

Folks, whatever it is that you and yours celebrate at this time of year, I hope you spend it with those you love most and plenty of good beer and food. I’m off driving all over the Australian countryside for Christmas over the next week or so. I have a couple of posts scheduled, but things will be pretty quiet until the new year.

Thanks to everyone who has read, liked and commented on what I have written this year. From a pretty flat period where I did not write for the best part of a month due to a crappy previous blog platform, to the flurry of activity of the last couple of months, it has been a bit of  a ride. Look forward to getting to know all of you over the next year and hopefully a few new readers too. And most importantly talking endlessly about the movies we love (and hate).

I’ll leave you with the trailer for my favourite of all Christmas movies.

Peace

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Woodley Week: Bemusement Park

Here we go with the final entry of Woodley Week. Don’t forget that there are double entries for the competition up for grabs on this post, which is a review of the DVD being given away, Bemusement Park.

bem park

In my review of Woodley a couple of days ago, I repeated a couple of times how it illustrated the range of Frank Woodley as a performer, with its heartfelt edge. Well Bemusement Park is yet another example of his range, this time delivering a more ‘straight’ stand-up routine, full of observational jokes and the weaving in of hilarious tales from Woodley’s real life. The previous stand-up shows of Woodley’s that I had seen as a solo performer were not like this at all. They were long, ambitious one-man narratives. Here the construction is him standing and delivering jokes. And he is really quite good at it. That is not to say that every joke hits home with the audience in attendance. But the ones that fall flat provide some of the funniest moments, as Woodley is a fantastic improviser and riffs on these jokes that didn’t work. It is clear that he is still polishing the overall show, but he is open about this fact and shares the polishing of it with the audience.  For someone who has not done a whole lot of this style of comedy (at least to my knowledge) Woodley has wonderful comedic timing and pacing.

This is not to say that Woodley has abandoned his former silly self entirely. The set opens with probably its silliest moment as he attempts to extricate himself comically from a Cathy Freeman circa 2000 Olympics style running suit. It’s no spoiler to say that he gets a little stuck whilst doing so. It is also nice to see Woodley showing off his musical gifts once again too. Some years ago, Lano and Woodley did a tour entitled Sing Songs and released a CD of the same name. These hilarious songs showed the musical ability of them both and it is great to see Frank whip out the ukulele and guitar at various points throughout this show. He really does have a lovely voice and is a great crafter of sharply funny songs too. Overall, despite slowing a little over the second half, this performance probably got the most out and out belly laughs out of all the Woodley Week entries from me.

Bemusement Park is a great way to finish off Woodley Week, because it shows off even more of the man’s talents. The jokes are taut and well crafted, not just throwaway lines or observations. He is just such an over the top extrovert and brilliant comedian, and much of that is on show here. And where else would you get to see a man pretending to be a chimpanzee pretending to be a meerkat?

Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny

Want to win a copy of Frank Woodley’s new show Bemusement Park on DVD courtesy of Madman Entertainment? Then head here for the details.

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Trailer for your Weekend: To the Wonder

Malick poster

Taking a little break from Woodley Week for Friday’s usual trailer. Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time will know of my love for the films of Terrence Malick. Tree of Life was easily my number one film of 2011 and I consider it one of my top 5 favourite films ever.

To The Wonder, due next year, is the latest in Malick’s late career prolific period. Despite reception being mixed at the festival it premiered at this year (Venice from memory) there is no film I am more hanging out for next year. The trailer is quite Tree of Lifeey, but the film appears to be set in more modern times. It also appears to be zeroing in on a single film, that of love, rather than attempting to encompass life the universe and everything like Malick’s last effort. I just cannot wait to see this film. A new Malick film is something to be cherished and this film has me all giddy with anticipation.

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Woodley Week: Woodley

Woodley egg

Frank Woodley burst back onto Australian television screens sans Colin Lane this year with the simply titled Woodley. Obviously Frank had been doing his solo thing for a number of years on comedy festival stages, but this was a reintroduction to a broader free to air telly audience.

Viewers were confronted with something quite different to The Adventures of Lano and Woodley but also something very charming. Something that also showed of the range of Frank Woodley, proving he was more than a mere silly slapstick man. In Woodley, he shows off his straight acting chops as well as his comedy ones. Don’t get me wrong, there are still fantastic slapstick scenes (see Frank’s drunken escapades at a golf course), but there is also a tender relationship built up with his estranged daughter through the show. There is still a definite vein of hijinks running through it all, but this is more about Woodley as an outsider, desperately trying to fit into a world that he just does not quite fit into. And that is really interesting stuff.

Woodley, flanked by the two wonderful women who help to make this show such a charm.

Woodley, flanked by the two wonderful women who help to make this show such a charm.

Whilst there is no doubt that in some ways Frank misses the brilliance of former straight man Colin Lane, he surmounts this by delivering a show that is more grounded, true to life and definitely emotive. Woodley is able to develop emotional undercurrents over the course of the 8 show season, something his previous outings did not allow. He is assisted greatly in this regard by two stellar female supporting performances. Firstly Justine Clarke as Frank’s long suffering ex-wife who has a complicated relationship with her former man, whilst trying to continue on her life. And as Frank’s daughter Ollie, Alexandra Cashmere is spectacularly good and has a real screen presence for one so very young. Just as he did for most of The Adventures of Lano and Woodley the incredibly innovative and talented musician Mal Webb provides the soundtrack. I think Webb is a vastly underrated musician and he is having a lot of over the top fun with this soundtrack. Here is just a tiny taste of his other work:

Overall, whilst perhaps not reaching the side-splitting comedic heights of Frank’s earlier TV effort, this is an incredibly charming change of pace from the helter skelter vibe of The Adventures of Lano and Woodley. As a demonstration of Frank Woodley’s range and ability, both as writer and star, Woodley is definitely worth spending some time with.

Verdict: Stubby of Reschs

Want to win a copy of Frank Woodley’s new show Bemusement Park on DVD courtesy of Madman Entertainment? Then head here for the details.

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Woodley Week: Buster and Frank

Keaton

Ever since the first time I started watching Buster Keaton films, he has been connected with Frank Woodley in my mind. It’s not just the fact that they are both masters of physical slapstick. It is also the way they use facial expressions, especially stony ones, as a punch line.  They are both also excellent at constructing jokes over long periods of time. I am not saying that Woodley is the equal of Keaton who is one of the best few filmmakers of all time. But there are definite parallels to be drawn.

For this third entry in Woodley Week, I thought I would take a look at two of Buster’s short films, in memory of one of the greats who paved the way for so many who followed him, including Frank Woodley. Hope you guys enjoy these.

The Bell Boy

I thought I should include one of Buster’s films with Fatty Arbuckle, seeing as most of Frank Woodley’s career was spent in a comedic duo too. Plus I absolutely love Arbuckle, so much so that my beautiful pet bunny Arbie is named after him.

Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton on the set of The Bell Boy

Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton on the set of The Bell Boy

The Bell Boy (1918) sees Buster and Arbuckle working as bell boys at a hotel with “Third class service, first class prices.” Much of the deficiencies in the service levels can be attributed to our two heroes, as they spend most of the film chasing after a pretty woman rather than attending to any other guests. There is also a strange narrative aside with a bearded man in a top hat. Arbuckle, apparently a part time barber as well as a bell boy, takes him into the barbershop and ties him down. After that, he proceeds to craft his beard and hair into that of a succession of historical figures, most notably Abe Lincoln. As he shows off each creation, Arbuckle seemingly breaks the fourth wall too. It is all obscenely weird and makes no sense from a continuity point of view.

But, do not let this random sorta sub-plot put you off, because The Bell Boy is a truly hilarious short film. Despite being vastly different in proportions, Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle were an astoundingly in sync physical combo. They bound around the set in perfect harmony, like wonderful dancers or something. As well as their comedic excellence as a duo, this film features a fair bit of Buster doing is own thing onscreen by himself, a harbinger of things to come because within a few short years he would be out on his own making films sans his mentor Arbuckle. Right near the end of the film is a long set piece which caps the film off perfectly. It involves a bank robbery, a narrative turn that comes up quite suddenly. But it descends delightfully into the most wonderfully over the top brawl scene, almost like 1920s WWE, only more beautifully choreographed and intentionally hilarious. Arbuckle even takes out another dude with a chair shot.

This is a hilarious short from two masters. The part with the bearded dude is unfathomably weird, at least to me. But aside from that, this is a brilliant short comedy that you should definitely take the time to check out.

Verdict: Pint of Kilkenny

The Scarecrow

I basically chose The Scarecrow (1920) because it is a Keaton short I had not seen and I heard that it was Luke the Dog heavy. Whilst Luke belonged to Arbuckle, he obviously continued to star alongside with Keaton once they split.

It turned out to be a good choice indeed, because this is one of the best Buster Keaton shorts I have watched. In the film, Buster shares a house with a farmhand friend of his. For the first part of the film, this house delivers much of its charm. It is a one room house with some exceedingly clever inventions to save space. A turntable that doubles as a gas hotplate, a bookcase/fridge (I want one!) and a very innovative table setting. The scene as the boys sit down to eat their breakfast is the most wonderfully intricate and mechanical piece of comedy. Marvellous.

The legendary Luke the Dog

The legendary Luke the Dog

The second half of the film once again sees Buster and his offsider (this time played by Joe Roberts) vying for the affections of a young lady. Sybil Seely plays the woman in question, and gives a really good performance, conveying a lot in her role and having a (little) more to do than the average woman in one of these films. After having his heart broken, the film lets fly with the greatest man chasing dog sequence in film history. One of the best chase sequences in film history full stop. It sees Luke the Dog haring after Buster, including through windows, up a ladder and on top of a building. It is extended brilliance and shows off the choreography skills of Keaton and the charisma of his (well Arbuckle’s) four legged offsider. The scene is made even more hilarious due to Joe Roberts’ character calmly taking himself off to the drug store, stocking up, and awaiting the seemingly inevitable injury.

This time, at the end of a succession of wonderful moments, Buster gets the girl – he’s the star now. The film closes with a wedding scene like none you have ever seen before, perfectly capping off one of my favourite Buster Keaton films.

Verdict: Longneck of Melbourne Bitter

Want to win a copy of Frank Woodley’s new show Bemusement Park on DVD courtesy of Madman Entertainment? Then head here for the details.

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Woodley Week: The Adventures of Lano and Woodley Series 1

Whilst I had come across Lano and Woodley before, on the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala and other TV appearances, it was the duo’s own show The Adventures of Lano and Woodley that really sealed my love of them. My sister and I would sit down religiously every week to watch the first series of this show, hang out and laugh our arses off. This theme song was an ever-present sing-along in our house and still gets stuck in my head to this day:

The show, like many a wonderful TV comedy, is not really about anything. Rather, it sees Frank and Col bumbling their way through day to day life. From girl trouble, to flirtations with fame and psychotic video store employees, these day to day jaunts are rendered hilariously. The major strength of the show is the great rapport between stars Frank Woodley and Colin Lane. It is classic comedy stuff, Col is the straight man, Frank the really bloody silly physical comedian one who gets the huge laughs. Having said that though, the character of Col holds his own in terms of laughs. They bounce off each other so well – Woodley really is a wonderful physical comedian, the kind they do not make any more whilst Lane provides the perfect overbearing foil.

Frank Woodley and Colin Lane

Frank Woodley and Colin Lane

Rewatching the series, there are a couple of frustrations. Front and centre is the canned laughter – whoever came up with that invention has a lot to answer for. It achieves nothing, except frustration and distraction. Though there is a pretty good canned laughter joke in one of the episodes, perhaps playing off on this. While it has dated ever so slightly, this still has to be one of my favourite TV comedies ever. It is predominately slapstick, but the scripting is quite excellent with great delivery from both men. There are a couple of hilarious motifs or recurring jokes throughout the series, such as the two of them getting fired at the start of each episode, that just add so much flavour. One of the measures of great comedy is its ability to really make you laugh despite having seen it multiple times. Don’t worry about multiple, I’ve seen all the episodes in this first series countless times and it still got plenty of laughs out of me. All of the episodes in this first series have a whole lot to offer, with my favourites being Starquest and One Simple Task. Search them out if you can. Especially Starquest actually, which I think is just a simply brilliant piece of television.

I’m not going to lie, there may be a little nostalgia in my feelings about this show, but damn, this is my blog and I’ll be nostalgic if I want to. And the show still holds up excellently today, on occasions even brilliantly so. If you ever get the chance to catch this show, then I highly recommend you do. I love it.

Verdict: Longneck of Melbourne Bitter

Want to win a copy of Frank Woodley’s new show Bemusement Park on DVD courtesy of Madman Entertainment? Then head here for the details.

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Woodley Week: Intro and Competition details

The great Frank Woodley

The great Frank Woodley

Frank Woodley is a name that may be unfamilar to many of my readers, especiatlly those not reading from Australia. But for me, along with many other Australinas, Woodley along with straight man Colin Lane were a formative part of my life. As Lano and Woodley they were close to the most iconic stand up act in the country for a good decade or so, success which also led to two seasons of their own show as well as guest appearances on countless other television shows. They were always my favourite comedy act, managing to be simultaneously silly and very intellighent in what they did. I recall saving up my pocket money so my sister and I could go halves in their TV show on VHS (each video only had 2 episodes and cost $20 – TV on home video has come along way). I also recall that when my parents got their first answering maching, my sister and I took it upon ourselves to record an opus of a message for them. This Lano and Woodley inspired masterpiece ran for about 5 minutes, and concluded with my line “Kath, do I have time to do a poo?” After Colin Lane left the group in 2006, Frank Woodley (the silly one) continued down the comedy path with succesful (and somewhat different) standup routines and himself having a show run on ABC earlier this year, simply titled Woodley.

Why all this chat about my beloved Frank Woodley? Well becuase his latest show Bemusement Park has just been released on DVD. And thanks to Madman Entertainment, I have a copy to give away. Entry is open to anyone who reads the site, no matter where you live (if you take the time to read my site, I’m happy to send this little mmmbaby anywhere). Even better, the DVD plays in all regions, so no worries about compatability issues.

Ok, so how do you enter. Over the next week, I will be posting five ‘Woodley Week’ posts. To earn entries, just do any of the following (including on this post and double entries on Saturday’s review of Bemusement Park):

  • ‘Like’ the post on Facebook for one entry.
  • Comment on the post on Facebook for two entries.
  • Share the post on Facebook for two entries.
  • Retweet the post on Twitter for two entries.
  • Like the post on this site for one entry.
  • Comment on the post on this site for two entries.

Any questions, please let me know. Entries will be open til midnight on Christmas Day. For now here is a little Lano and Woodley for you to enjoy.

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Trailer for your Weekend: Oblivion

Oblivion

Coming hot on the heels of last week’s awesome sci-fi trailer comes this one for Oblivion. Taking the old Planet of the Apes conceit of showing today’s icons in their future dilapidated state seems to be the focus and it looks awesome. Well the beaten up old stuff looks cool. What does not look as good to me is the human side of things. Some pretty questionable dialogue and cringeworthy moments in this.

Hopefully it sticks to a real sci-fi centric approach though, because this looks as though it has the budget and visual punch to be something quite cool.

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