Archive for the 'Movies' Category



28
Jan
09

My top 10 movies for 2008

A good mixture of movies during 2008 from gentle humour to dark comedy, from romance to action spectaculars. It wasn’t too difficult to narrow down to 10 but there were still some very good films that didn’t make it into my list.

10. Then She Found Me

I was taken to this as a birthday treat and I really didn’t know what to expect. I have always loved Helen Hunt and she doesn’t disappoint in a story of a mid-life crisis which is all about relationships and trust. Helen also directed. Special kudos to Colin Firth and Bette Midler.

9. Juno

This was such a cute comedy about teen pregnancy. Ellen Page and Michael Cera are delightful in their own ways and there is no preachiness.

8. The Dark Knight

Dark indeed. Everyone has been talking about Heath Ledger as the Joker and rightfully so. His is an excellent performance and really holds the film together. Christian Bale is a great Batman but he is relegated to second fiddle. Best to see on a big screen. It is a little long and gets a bit off track with the Two Face sub-plot but overall, a great addition to the Batman films.

7. I Am Legend

A remake of a remake but it works because it does something different with the last man on earth scenario. Will Smith shows that he can really act and really gets across the loneliness and despair of the character as well as his determination.

6. Burn After Reading

A very dark comedy with an excellent cast not normally known for comedy. Look out for George Clooney’s “special” chair and John Malkovich’s dark side. JK Simmons is hilarious in his short scenes.

5. In Bruges

Another dark comedy about assassins hiding out in Bruges. It does get a bit violent at times (I was good at knowing when to close my eyes) but very funny and oddly touching at times. A great cast and a special mention to Colin Farrell who I think is sometimes under-rated as an actor.

4. Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr is excellent as Tony Stark/Iron Man. The movie is a good blend of action and humour, as well as having some important messages.

3. Shelter

I saw this at a gay film festival  and just really, really liked it. A film about family, obligations and living your dreams. It’s just nice to see a gay movie with drama and humour but not over-the-top angst or doom and gloom. Oh, and I fell in love with Zach played by Trevor Wright. 😉

2. The Day The Earth Stood Still

The original 1951 movie is my favourite science fiction movie of all time so this remake with Keanu Reeves had big shoes to fill. They did a great job at updating the story but keeping the essence of the original. Kathy Bates is great even if you want to slap her character for most of the movie. And yes, they did Gort justice.

1. Lars And The Real Girl

I was taking a chance when I went to see this film. A story about a guy with a mental illness falling in love with a life size doll could have been so tacky but it really wasn’t. It was a beautiful, heart warming story with some lovely touches of humour. I loved how the community got behind and supported Lars and the ending was very satisfying. I left the cinema with a smile on my face.

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24
Jan
09

Mardi Gras Film Festival 2009

Queer Screen have announced the program for the 2009 Mardi Gras Film Festival. Click here for details.

I am still trying to decide what films to see. There are a few that stand out to me straight away, strangely all comedies. The descriptions are taken from the Queer Screen website and I searched YouTube for the trailers.

Patrik, Age 1.5

Sweden, 2008
A spirited romantic comedy about the ups and downs of adoption. Swedish gay couple Sven and Goran are happily married, and dream of adopting a child and moving to a perfect home in the suburbs. There is just one problem – an unfortunate typo at the adoption agency puts a comma in the wrong place and instead of a baby boy aged 1.5, they are sent a homophobic 15 year old street kid. Exceptionally well put together, this is a smart and very funny film.

Were The World Mine

USA, 2008
If Shakespeare had written a gay musical this would be its modern day remake. Timothy is the gay guy in an all-boys high school, taunted by the football team, yet mysteriously defended by the hunky class jock, Jonathan. He escapes the classroom into a musical fantasy world where lessons become chorus lines, and bullies become ballet dancers. When A Midsummer Night’s Dream is chosen as the school play, he easily lands the role of Puck, and with the help of his mischievous drama teacher, begins to truly embody the enchanted role. Discovering how to make Puck’s magic love potion, Timothy sets out to turn the whole town gay and Jonathan into his adoring boyfriend.

Fashion Victims

Germany, 2007
Unlike its bumbling characters, this quick-witted comedy of errors doesn’t put a foot wrong. Young Karsten’s plans for a summer in Spain come unhinged when his father, Wolfgang, a travelling ladies’ fashion salesmen, loses his licence and needs a driver. Karsten is mortified by this turn of events, until he crosses paths with the older, attractive Steven – summer suddenly looks more interesting. Unfortunately Karsten soon discovers that Steven is his Dad’s chief rival on the retail fashion scene. As Steven schemes to beat Wolfgang to each meeting at each boutique, how will Karsten keep his father from discovering he’s sleeping with the enemy?

Boystown

Spain, 2008
Gay men have a reputation world-over for moving into run-down areas and transforming them into real estate paradise, and Madrid’s Chueca district is their latest target. The only problem is, Chueca is populated by little old ladies who refuse to sell up and move on. Mysterious and sexy real estate agent Victor takes matters into his own hands, systematically killing off the grannies and instating queer couples in their place. When adorable bear couple Rey and Leo inherit their neighbour’s flat, they unwittingly move Rey’s mum into the neighbourhood and right in the firing line. Equal parts hysterical, thrilling and sexy, this murder romp should not be missed.

29
Jul
08

It’s a crazy world…

The news that, in the USA, the film The Dark Knight received the same rating of PG-13 as Mamma Mia! raises a lot of disturbing issues.

There is something seriously wrong in the world when The Dark Knight is considered at the same level as Mamma Mia! I have seen The Dark Knight and yes, it’s a brilliant film but at the same time, I did find it quite unsettling at times. It is definitely not suitable for children and it concerned me that when I saw it, there were some parents there with their kids. It’s even more disturbing that much of the marketing for the film is aimed squarely at children – toys, happy meals at fast food outlets and just the other day I saw a junior version of the novelisation in the shops.

What are we teaching the kids of today? That violence is OK? The violence in The Dark Knight is not cartoon violence where a kid can easily tell the difference between fantasy and reality

What is so morally wrong with Mamma Mia? Oh that’s right, Donna slept with three different men in a short period of time. She was, gasp, a single mother. Who was that idiot Vice President who attacked the TV show Murphy Brown for glorifying single parenting? He’d have a heart attack watching Mamma Mia!

I think the issue can be highlighted by the craziness around the Janet Jackson nipple debacle. The absolute outrage and religious condemnation over something that you couldn’t even see clearly. Then on the other hand, another high school shooting barely raises a ripple. Yes, there is concern but where is the outrage and why isn’t anyone trying to solve the problem?

Of course, the gun lobbyists try to tell you that there wouldn’t be problems with high school shootings if all the students had guns. Huh? The problems would be much bigger as schools become battlegrounds.

There are so many things wrong with society today and things aren’t getting better. One of the things I loved about the original series of Star Trek when I was a kid wasn’t just about the future technology but it was showing a future where people were more equal and could get along with each other. Sadly, I just don’t see that happening in my lifetime.

The biggest problem by far is organised religion. It amazes me that so many people cling on to this outdated concept and use it to justify all kinds of atrocities against others. The Bible is not the word of God but someone’s limited and conservative interpretation from the middle ages. It sickened me that Sydney recently had to grind to a halt and spend millions and millions of taxpayer dollars for World Youth Day and the visit of the Pope. The Pope and others like him put on a public face of preaching love, understanding and a better world but in reality, they are preaching hatred, intolerance, guilt and fear.

I’ve been thinking for quite a while now about faith and spirituality and I can’t help but feel what an amazing world this would be if people just had faith in themselves. A kind of inner spirituality. If people could just unlock their own potential and learn to live with others then WOW. Put aside petty issues about ego, one-upmanship and owning the latest iPhone. Focus on what’s important. It may just be a pipe dream but if people could just start moving towards that even in small ways, this could be an amazing world to live in.

05
Jul
08

When All Is Said And Done: The ABBA Reunion

Agnetha and Frida at the Swedish Mamma Mia! premiere

Agnetha and Frida at the Swedish Mamma Mia! premiere

I’m exhausted. I was awake at 4am this morning (Sydney time) and the emails were starting to flood in about the Stockholm premiere of the new Mamma Mia! movie. We had managed to get the inside information ahead of time that all four members of ABBA were going to attend and, unlike previous times, would actually pose for photographs together. So I started surfing the net getting the photos and watching the videos.

It was better than we could have expected. You could pick up that there was a great atmosphere at the cinema. Mariatorget is usually a fairly quiet square on Södermalm, just south of Stockholm. Summer evenings are leisurely as the locals play bowls and walk their dogs. But not last night. The square was packed with journalists, ABBA fans and movie star spotters. An army band was playing an ABBA medley as bombastic as army bands tend to be.

Meryl Streep was there on the red carpet when Frida and Agnetha suddenly appeared. There were screams as the three acted like old girl friends. There were hugs, kisses, lots of laughter and even an impromptu dance around on the red carpet. Then they headed inside, Frida making sure that Agnetha was OK by taking her hand. A touching moment.

Not long after, it was time for the balcony appearance with the ABBA members together with the movie cast. It looked like one of those royal appearances that the British royal family are so fond of doing, appearing before their subjects with lots of waves and smiles. Frida even danced again and Agnetha put her hand on her shoulder.

What has meant the most to me about this is that it has been Frida and Agnetha in the spotlight and getting the acknowledgment. I have really not felt comfortable with how, since the many ABBA revivals over the years, it’s been all about Björn and Benny. For me, ABBA was always mainly been about the women. To be fair, it was probably how the women wanted it but it still didn’t sit right with me. That was all changed last night. Up on the balcony, it was Frida and Agnetha in the centre, flanked by the actors. Björn and Benny were at either end of the balcony, out of the way and letting the women get the attention.

I don’t really know how I feel at this moment. I have been an ABBA fan since 1976 when I received the “Best of ABBA” LP for my 16th birthday. ABBA has been a major part of my life since I got involved in organised fandom. I have met many friends and even some lovers because of ABBA so there are a lot of good memories there but at the same time a lot of bad ones too including being the subject of possible legal action twice. Over the last couple of years, I have found myself drifting away from being an ABBA fan. I still like the music even if I don’t play it that much (I’m more likely to listen to the solo material). I have realised that the members of ABBA are not necessarily nice people although they are incredibly talented. It has also been a case of familiarity breeding contempt. The more of a fan one becomes, the more you want to know and get involved, the more you get to see the negative side. It just stopped being fun.

I’m not feeling any emotional extremes but I do feel pleased. I’m pleased that ABBA finally got off their high horses and agreed to appear together in public (the last time was 1986). I’m pleased that they are all having a great time and having fun. I’m pleased that they appear to be enjoying each other’s company.  I’m pleased that they all are looking good, especially Frida and Agnetha. I’m pleased that there are lots of great photos and video moments.

Benny recently said that he considered the Mamma Mia! movie the end of the ABBA franchise. It seems to have all come full circle and having all four members together one more time is a testament to their career, their fans and their legacy. I see it as their way of tying up the loose ends and finally saying that they are no longer a group but what a great group they were. ABBA never officially broke up although they haven’t recorded together since 1982. I see this reunion as a way of bringing closure to Frida, Agnetha, Björn and Benny themselves as well as their fans. I feel complete.

ABBA and the cast of Mamma Mia! The Movie

ABBA and the cast of Mamma Mia! The Movie

05
Jan
08

My Top Music and Movies in 2007

Top Singles:

1. Stockholm I Natt – Peter Jöback
2. Italy vs Helsinki – Laakso with Peter Jöback
3. The Living Tree – Shirley Bassey
4. On The Verge Of Something Wonderful – Darren Hayes
5. The Arrival – The Attic featuring Therese
6. Grace Kelly – Mika
7. Touched By Love – Eran James
8. Number One In Heaven – Nemesis Rising
9. Wanna – Jake Hook
10. Movies – Morten Harket

Top Albums:

1. Människor Som Du Och Jag – Peter Jöback
2. This Delicate Thing We’ve Made – Darren Hayes
3. X – Kylie Minogue
4. Songs Of Love & Loss – Tina Arena
5. Ten Songs About Love – Eran James
6. Life In Cartoon Motion – Mika
7. Life – Marcia Hines
8. Fabricator – BWO
9. Jag Måste Kyssa Dig – Nanne
10. A Finer Dawn – Sarah Dawn Finer

Top Reissues / Compilations:

1. The Complete BBC Sessions – Dusty Springfield
2. The Atco Sessions 1969-72 – Lulu
3. Shiver – Virna Lindt
4. Whatcha Gonna Do – Billie Davis
5. A Young Person’s Guide To Compact – Various Artists

Top Music DVDs:

1. Live At The BBC – Dusty Springfield
2. Cubism – Pet Shop Boys
3. Eat To The Beat DVD – Blondie
4. ABBA The Album DVD – ABBA

Top Concerts:

1. Peter Jöback, Stockholm
2. Nanne, Stockholm

Top Movies:

1. As It Is In Heaven
2. Clubland [aka “Introducing The Dwights” in USA]
3. Hairspray
4. Volver
5. Across The Universe
6. The History Boys
7. Dreamgirls
8. Spider-Man 3
9. Death At A Funeral
10. The Queen

16
Dec
07

Meme or not meme

I was over at my friend Andrew’s blog and he referred to doing a meme – you know one of those things that goes around the internet that asks you questions. They seem very popular at sites like MySpace and Facebook. My first reaction was wtf is a meme. I had never heard of the word before. Is it derived from the concept of me since today’s society does seem to be more about me, me, me? So I went to the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, and got the following definition.

A meme, as defined within memetic theory, constitutes a theoretical unit of cultural information, the building block of cultural evolution or diffusion that propagates from one mind to another analogously to the way in which a gene propagates from one organism to another as a unit of genetic information and of biological evolution.

Now, I consider myself a reasonably intelligent kind of guy but that definition confused the hell out of me. Despite numerous rereadings, I still have no idea what it means. Looking further into the article, I saw examples that include chain mails, internet hoaxes and urban legends. Ah, I’m on safer ground now. And in relation to Andrew’s blog, it’s one of those things that goes around the internet that asks you questions.

So, having hurt my brain with all of that, I thought I may as well have a go at the one on Andrew’s blog. I did correct the Americanised spellings.

Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper although I don’t do a good job of it. I’m not like Will on Will and Grace who has ribbons and all that crap. It’s usually done in a hurry with sticky tape everywhere.

Real tree or Artificial?
I don’t do this anymore and haven’t for years. When I did, it was always plastic. In fact, I probably still have it stashed away in the storage centre. And I wonder why I have a problem with clutter?!?

When do you put up the tree?
See previous answer – never.

When do you take the tree down?
Why does everyone have to share this tree fetish? See previous answer.

Do you like eggnog?
Never tried it.

Favourite gift received as a child?
Do you know, I really can’t remember. I did get my first bike for Christmas. Was it my favourite? I guess it must have been because it’s the only one I remember. I do remember that it was orange and blue.

Or did I get it for my birthday? Gawd, forget this question, it just shows what a dreadful memory I have.

Do you have a nativity scene?
Um, no.

Hardest person to buy for?
My friend, Graeme. He is so fussy.

Easiest person to buy for?
Like Andrew, I can say me. I already have got my own present this year. The DVD box set of the third series of Doctor Who.

Mail or email Christmas cards?
I prefer mail but I am so slack, it usually ends up being email. With just over a week to go before Christmas, it looks like it will be email again this year.

Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Can’t recall.

Favourite Christmas Movie?
That would be Gremlins hands down. Here’s the famous Attack of the Christmas Tree scene (I wish I could find the scene where the Gremlins are singing Christmas carols).

Before Gremlins, it was Santa Claus Conquers The Martians that Adelaide TV used to play every Christmas. Here is the 6.5 minute abridged version. Look out for the robot.

Favourite quote – “All this trouble over a fat, little man in a red suit” which probably sums up my attitude to Christmas. 🙂

When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I’ve only just started thinking about it and it’s only eight shopping days left!

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
No.

Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?
Food. If I had to pick one thing then alcohol-soaked trifle.

Clear lights or coloured on the tree?
If I had a tree then it would be coloured. I love lots of colour and movement.

Favourite Christmas song?
For some reason I have always loved Silent Night although it can be quite nauseating. My favourite version is by Peter Jöback and is in Swedish. Its Swedish title is Stilla Natt.

I have a soft spot for Jingle Bell Rock.

Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Usually travel back to Adelaide. We’ve been to Waikiki for Christmas which was very different. This year it’s back to Adelaide.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Rudolph, Blitzen, Prancer (he must be the gay one with that name), Sleepy, Grumpy, Bashful, Doc… Oh I give up.

Angel on the tree top or a star?
As already mentioned a number of times, no tree. But I guess I suppose an angel. There’s something poignant about an angel with a tree up his/her bum. 😉

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Morning unless it’s the present I got for myself.

Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Christmas and the crass commercialisation. As the quote above said, “All this trouble over a fat, little man in a red suit”

Favourite ornament theme or colour?
There’s something appealing about shiny balls. My favourite colour is green.

Favourite for Christmas dinner?
I’m not a foodie so I’m not particularly fussed.

What do you want for Christmas this year?
Peace and quiet but I doubt I’ll get it. Not really sure what I want. There are a few DVDs on my wish list but nothing I really have to have. How about a business class trip to Stockholm?




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