Thursday, 22 August 2013

We're the Millers


A drug dealer finds himself in debt to his supplier and is coerced to deliver a quantity of marijuana across the Mexican border with the USA. He creates a false family to disguise his smuggling activity.

There is the germ of an idea here which could have led to something very funny and inoffensive despite the topic but instead 'We're the Millers' is yet another in the ongoing series of gross behaviour comedies. Furthermore some aspects of the set up are quite illogical. In a situation where you expect the characters would be trying not to draw attention to themselves this film has them driving around in a mobile home as big and lavish as the Queen Mary.

Subtlety is not a quality in evidence here. Pretty low brow but it does provide a few laughs.

★★

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Elysium


In the 22nd Century Earth is a polluted and overpopulated lawless disaster. The wealthy have long since abandoned the planet to live on an artificial satellite where life is paradise and any health problems are instantly cured by modern technology. The satellite is called Elysium and it can be seen from Earth floating in the murky atmosphere.

Matt Damon, dying from a fatal dose of radiation in a workplace accident, strikes a deal to hijack a craft  en route to the satellite where he might be able to save himself.

This is all high tech and very noisy action.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

(Sydney Theatre Company)
Staged by the Sydney Theatre Company, Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead depicts two minor characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet trying to make sense of the action that is occurring in the Bard's play whilst they are off stage.

Stoppard's play and its clever dialogue are a level above my intellectual capacities especially with my limited knowledge of Hamlet. Nonetheless I enjoyed many portions of R&G and appreciated the fine performances of the cast. Toby Schmitz as Guildenstern was in his element handling the linguistic pyrotechnics with ease but it was Tim Minchin as Rosencrantz who impressed me the most.

★★★1/3

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Lunch

at a nearby food court.........

Chicken, vegetables, egg noodles, clear soup
other diners

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Heat


A traditional cops as buddies film with the twist that the two cops are female. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy are the odd couple in The Heat, a film which may use a very familiar template but is above average for the genre.

Bullock and McCarthy are quite convincing as the opposites that eventually attract.....platonically, of course. They are in search of a Mr Big in the drug trade and naturally they face and overcome all manner of impediments along the way.

I can see a sequel coming.

★★★1/3

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Now You See Me


Four magicians are brought together in mysterious circumstances and they stage a series of daring and high profile 'performance' robberies. The police are searching for evidence of their direct responsibility for the robberies but the magicians seem always to be one step ahead of the chase.

Now You See Me is a flashy movie befitting its show business type topic and the occasional insight into the magician's secrets is interesting but the overall implausibility of the plot left me with an empty feeling.

★★★

Monday, 12 August 2013

More City to Surf 2013

Some more snaps from this year's event. The aerial shots were taken from my balcony. Click photos to enlarge.

New York on the run
Venice Beach and dreadlocks
Talent in the Blue Category
Black and blue
The pack of the Blue Category
Passing through Edgecliff
Passing through Double Bay
Approaching Bellevue Hill

Sunday, 11 August 2013

City to Surf 2013

The 43rd (I think) running of the City to Surf occurred this morning. The first race in 1971 attracted 2,000 competitors - entrants might be a better word - and this year's event drew 85,000 entrants. The course of about 14 kilometres runs from Hyde Park in the city to Bondi Beach. It passes through Edgecliff, where I live, which provides the first of several steep hills.

The entrants start at staggered times according to their entry category. The elite entrants take just over 40 minutes to complete the course. The social entrants and casual walkers take many hours. Streets surrounding the course are closed for around six hours. Here are snaps from this morning taken down the road from my home. Click on individual photos to enlarge.

Leading runners in the Elite Category
Runners in the pack of the Red Category
One Spiderman, of many
More talent in the Red Category
Make Your Body Sing downhill to Double Bay
The Blue Category
A runner stops to greet his family
Home loans on the run

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Stand clear of the doors Gladys.......

......because Channel 10 is gunning for you. Well, maybe not the Minister personally but Channel 10 in Sydney seems to have an obsession with Sydney Rail - I think that is the current name - at the moment. Barely a day goes by without an exclusive report about some issue with the rail service and it's never a flattering report. We've had fare evasion, fares generally, the cleanliness of the service, delays, delays in delivery of new stock, new uniforms, safety...and on and on it goes.


Last night's exclusive was the new timetable due later this year - I think - which will slash or streamline services, depending on your interpretation, by cutting stops at certain stations.


Now this report was neither news nor exclusive as I have heard/read of these plans twice before in the previous six months or so, nevertheless the information was delivered with that breathless highhandedness beloved of some media types.

Each time and so again last night, Our Gladys replied with words to the effect that the new timetable is a work in progress and it will deliver 'better this' and 'improved that' and blah, blah, blah.

Gladys may be right but she better watch out or she'll find herself trapped on a runaway train by a persistent television Channel which remains firmly on the tracks to shock and scandal land.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Persona

(Belvoir St Theatre)

The current presentation by Belvoir Street Theatre, 'Persona', is a stage adaptation of an Ingmar Bergman film (of the same name) from 1966. The essence of the plot is that a nurse is caring for an actress who has stopped speaking.

It is an unusual piece in that only one of the four characters who appear on stage has any dialogue of consequence, in fact she speaks almost all of the dialogue with two of the others remaining mute or almost completely mute. In typical Scandinavian style there are long silences and little specific action.

Having never seen the film I cannot comment on how closely or otherwise this adaptation follows it. The acting is excellent and the play appears open to many interpretations. I changed my mind several times as to what the play is about.

As seems to be the case with majority of Belvoir Street productions nowadays, this play contains nudity.

★★★1/2

Thursday, 8 August 2013

'What's In A Name' (Le Prenom)


Based on a play which we are told was a hit in France, 'What's in a Name' has a gathering of family members and a family friend for dinner when one of them shocks the others with his announcement of the name he intends for his soon-to-be-born son. Heated argument over the name leads to a further meltdown which tests each relationship in the group.

This is a very amusing piece. The stage origins of the movie are evident with most of the film set in the one room but the static setting does not diminish the verbal action which is often a delight.

The extensive opening credits contain the conceit of displaying only the given names of those credited whilst the closing credits fill in the family names and add childhood photos.

An unexpected pleasure.

★★★1/2

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Way, Way Back


The family extended summer holiday seems to be a peculiarly 'American' activity at least in the world of movies. I remember seeing films of the ilk of 'The Way, Way Back' as a teenager and adolescent. They had a particular resonance with me. I would associate with the lead character, usually a lonely misfit, a fish out of water, who would undergo a rite of passage whilst on the extended holiday and who would come out of it confident, popular and with the unstated expectation that life would be rosy from then onwards.

As a lonely, 'different' child I viewed these films as though in a dream pretending they were about me and that my life would be the better for that ninety minutes spent in dreamland.

In 'The Way, Way Beyond' a sad 14 year old (Liam James) is spending the summer holiday with his divorced mother (Toni Collette), her obnoxious boyfriend (Steve Carell), the boyfriend's daughter and an assortment of other dysfunctional and/or kooky individuals (Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell amongst them).

Watching this very nicely acted and observed drama about relationships and the search for love and attention I was once again the 14 years' old misfit - spooky given that I am fifty years older and supposedly wiser than the film's young 'hero'.

Memories of my own childhood aside, I liked this film a lot.

★★★★

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Behind the Candelabra


I'm not sure that many people under thirty have heard of Liberace let alone know anything about him and I imagine that many younger people seeing 'Behind the Candelabra' assume the whole thing, characters and all, is a scarcely believable fiction at least until the end credits when factual information about the entertainer is displayed.

Certainly Liberace was a character larger than life and his relationship with the much younger Scott Thorson a matter of celebrity gossip.

This apparently made-for-television movie in the USA is receiving a cinema release in Australia. It translates well to the big screen and excellent performances by Michael Douglas as 'Lee', Matt Damon as Scott and Rob Lowe as the bizarre Plastic Surgeon all contribute to a surprisingly entertaining film.

The story is based on Thorson's book about the pair and therefore its accuracy as an account of their relationship may be questionable but superficially, at least, it comes across as being fair.

The movie does not shy away from the gay relationship the pair presumably enjoyed and several scenes although in reality not graphic may still be a little too frank for some. That was the case for my bridge partner who - being a little too genteel to consider the prospect of consenting males enjoying 'congress' - told me she thought the movie contained 'too much information'.

★★★★

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Oh no; s/he done it..........


I usually enjoy ABC (Australia) television's Friday night crime shows; most of them British imports.

The current offering Broadchurch is no exception. Slow moving it might be but in true Agatha Christie fashion there are multiple suspicious characters and half way through the series even those with apparently satisfactory alibis wrenched from them like wisdom teeth remain suspect.

My friend Mt, hundreds of kilometres away from me up north in Ballina, emailed after last night's half way mark episode to express frustration that she can't detect the offender, all her earlier choices having apparently been placed in the clear. Jokingly, and in a throwaway line, Mt suggested a minor character to date as the unlikeliest of killers. By coincidence the same thought had occurred to me last night.

WARNING ALERT, VAGUE SPOILER FOLLOWS

I should have left that coincidence alone but stupidly I looked up the program - and said character - in Wikipedia only to find that our jokingly imagined unlikely killer is, shock/horror, the one. What I don't know yet is, why.

Sometimes, surfing the internet is the greatest crime.