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Archive for November, 2012

Stolen Words… Stolen Minutes of My Life – The Words, a review

The Words – Film Review

REVIEWED BY RESIDENT CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR

F.P. BLUCK

This is one I really wanted to see, and that I really wanted to be crunchingly good to the last mouthful. The usual weekday morning scatter of older folk, better dressed because this was, after all, Manuka. There were no choc tops.

The previews were about as much help as usual i.e. quite a lot. The Intouchables – rich but paralysed French bloke has his life turned around by a tough black carer and some of what one could call “the action” in The Words did, in fact, occur in France. Safety Not Guaranteed, an amusing-looking thing which seems to combine time travel and learning to be a writer. The Words had a bit of a time-ago thing and a disturbingly large amount of stuff about the Craft of Writing*.

Bradley Cooper plays Rory Jansen, a struggling young writer who is still parasiting off his old man for the rent while he tries manfully to produce the Great American Novel or somesuch in between hanging around New York like a ‘writer’. He describes himself at one inconsequential point as an angry young man which is sort of funny because anger would require a bit more acting. For heaven’s sake, his unbelievably tolerant girlfriend loves him because he is so serious all the time which probably says a fair bit about her and even more about Mr Cooper’s** dramatic stretch. He does, however, have intense eyes.

Without giving away more of the plot than the preview did, young Rory finds a beautifully crafted manuscript (so much better than his Great Work) in an old satchel and undertakes the heartbreaking task of putting it through the keyboard onto a screen. He becomes a literary superstar and is accosted by an angry*** old Jeremy Irons who claims to have written the thing. Uh-oh, Rory! Dennis Quaid ties it together nicely as a literary lion who has written about the thing****.

This could have had some cute tricks in it – but it didn’t. And that made it a little better than it was. Or it could have used its space and the minds of its audience to ask some really gristly questions about artistic ownership/borrowing/reflection/parody/tribute and maybe the possibility that we all steal from others every time we use a cliche or, indeed, use a word or a gesture we have learnt from another.

If it had jumped into the deeper water, it might have been a better movie.

*-the capitalisation is deliberate, sort of like the pace of the movie.
** – Breadley Cooper… Gary Cooper (famous for saying things like “yup, ma’am” with all the expression of something from Bunnings). Coincidence?
***– yes, he can do “angry”, and resignation and pathos and, pretty well, whatever is needed.
****– OMG! Quade/Quaid and Cooper. Cue the X-Files music and the weird green lights.

The Dandy Warhols Video Interview with Design Federation

Our wonderful, talented and irritatingly hipster friends over at Design Federation nabbed themselves an exclusive interview with The Dandy Warhols at Harvest Music & Arts Festival in Melbourne last week.

Just too cool for school. Congrats to them and yay for us!  They have let us share and share alike. Enjoy :)

Interview by Paris Thompson.

 

We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday – Crowne Plaza Recharge Deal

It’s road-trip season, kids! So back the cut lunch and beach-towels and squash in the back because Crowne Plaza thinks you’ve earned a good old-fashioned summer holiday. Their ‘Recharge’ promotion is on now and is giving you  up to 20% off the best available rate*.

Available for stays of two nights or more, the package includes complimentary full buffet breakfast for two, with stays starting from AU$132 per night.

A family wedding (of the traditional, wild descendants of Irish convicts kind) required a recent stay in Terrigal and thank heavens for the Crowne’s soft pillows to nurse our throbbing heads. Seaside views of the quaint and lovely kind… and you just need to see this breakfast to believe it.

Everything from traditional continental breakfasts to the (rarely available at other hotels) delicious healthy options, the spread had my companions’ eyes bulging out of their heads and required a number of returns to the buffet. There’s even a little coffee stand with a snaking line for your barista brewed fix, in case you’re missing your morning commute rituals. But don’t worry, you won’t feel like you’re still in town because as you wait, you will be gazing out the arched windows and through the pines to the sea, to the sea.

If you have overindulged at breakfast slim down in the sauna or sweat it off at the gym facilities which we took advantage of, hoping to purge the evils of a night of slurred speeches and far too many toasts to the happy couple.

Terrigal Crowne Plaza isn’t the only destination included in this deal.

 

Participating Crowne Plazas include:

New South Wales & ACT

  • Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach from AU$200
  • Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley from AU$190
  • Crowne Plaza Newcastle from AU$190
  • Crowne Plaza Norwest from AU$132
  • Crowne Plaza Terrigal from AU$180

Queensland

  • Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise from AU$159

South Australia

  • Crowne Plaza Adelaide from AU$160

Victoria

  • Crowne Plaza Melbourne from AU$190

West Australia

  • Crowne Plaza Perth from AU$179

Packages are bookable from 19 November, 2012 through to 27 February, 2013 for stays between 1 December, 2012 and 28 February, 2013. For more information on Crowne Plaza’s Recharge packages, or to make a booking visit –  www.crowneplaza.com/recharge.

* Packages are subject to availability. Terms and conditions and blackout dates apply. Minimum two-night stay.

Arbitrage – Film Review

Arrested Development: Possible Prequel  –   Arbitrage review

REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

 

And so to the 10 am session of Arbitrage.  Sparse attendance, despite this being public sector superannuation payday.  Lamented, with the ticket person the disappearance of Last Will before I was able to see it.  Not a young crowd, and definitely about half would have been there to check out the current state of Richard Gere.  I can safely report that he does a suit almost as well as Clooney but when looking harried and drawn, takes on an unnerving resemblance to Bryan Cranston*.

The previews – as ever – tell us much about what the chain (in this case Event) thinks about the movie and its audience.  The Words with Jeremy Irons needing rehydration where Bradley Cooper playing an expressionless guy**;  Skyfall, a James Bond starring Daniel Craig as a man with few signs of personality; a film with a very high shooting quotient; Argo which might be ok but for the sneaking feeling all the good lines have been used in the preview***;  The Intouchables is an endearing-looking French confection about a wealthy paralysed bloke and his way-tough carer. In other words, the previews suggested that (a) Arbitrage was unlikely to require a wide repertoire of expressions from Mr Gere and (b) the plot and script might be a bit intelligent.  We also had two ads for Foxtel.

The Geremeister plays Robert Miller, a lion of Wall Street, a sleek but ageing king of a jungle. He has survived for years and is a purveyor of confidence mostly in himself.  Susan Sarandon is his wife, limited to doing charitable things.  There is a possibly thick-headed son and a disconcertingly clever daughter.  He’s in well-dressed flunkie heaven with many young retainers and some old hanging on his oracular status.  The … ahem …. girlfriend with a cute French accent and an art gallery propped up by his “investment”.  All the signs of success are there but the throne is on hollow legs and the whole palace may be on quicksand.

The film deals with the period when additional excrement is added to the quicksand and the whole is transported by an air-conditioning medium into Gere’s immediate vicinity so that, for the first time, he may have to face the consequences of his actions****.

Solid performances from Gere, Sarandon, Britt Marling, Tim Roth (as a dogged NY cop this time) and Nate Parker.  A script that shows rather than tells and a plotline that recognises that what is screened has a before and an after.  Some recognisable traces – a bit of Bonfire of the Vanities here, a little Margin Call there, some Woody Allen-lite NY affection – but it’s a world most of us don’t know.

This is well worth time and effort.  It’s not perfect but it’s pretty good.

 

* – don’t pretend you don’t know.  Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad, plus a couple of strange roles in movies including the unlamented Total Recoil.

** – something he seems to do quite well.

*** – oh, and it’s got Bryan Cranston.

***** – yes, he can act.  Although his character operated as a projection of the information he was processing much of the time, rather than as a whole person.

****** – I’m not giving away more of the plot.

 

More The Merrier Share Their Hot Tips For Sydney Summer Dining

Christopher Dair and Zae Greenwood launched the very unique  More the Merrier website last year which allows users to plan an entire social event online.  Without having the hassle of juggling venues, the site gives you access to information on the best restaurants and activities which best suit groups of six or more people.

With suggestions that stretch from divorce parties to buck’s nights, dinner and ghost tours, botox brunches and beer masterclasses; More the Merrier is making expert socialites out of us all and Two Flat Whites chats to the innovators behind the site to find out what these merry events planners have in-store for a Sydney summer.

Q1:  How did you come up with the idea of MTM? 

It can be very stressful finding reliable group-friendly venues and experiences. Our aim was to create a platform that made organising great group occasions easy. With backgrounds in Events and the Entertainment industry, we were very familiar with the need to find unique group get-together options and the necessary information required when planning large get-togethers. We want MTM to be Sydney’s go to for group occasions.

Q2: What do you think about the Sydney scene for social dining compared to the rest of the world?

Sydney has plenty of wonderful social dining option. While it may not have the history or variety that some other super cities like London or New York have, Sydney has the climate and views for exceptional al fresco dining experiences.

Q3: What would be your ultimate, dream group occasion?

The most important component of any group occasion is friends, and then it’s a venue or experience that is group-friendly to create memories that last forever.

We recently talked about a ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ experience that would have you enjoy a day out on a private fishing charter, then to finish you would pull into a harbour side restaurant where your catch of the day would be prepared by the chef for a seafood dinner like no other.

MTMs Hot Tips for Group Gatherings this Summer in Sydney

  • Shed the winter layers and get out into Sydney’s great outdoors – pop up picnic anyone?
  • Don’t let your group get stuck in the dreaded social rut of only attending parties and activities that are on your doorstep. You don’t become worldly by hanging around the same-old postcode.
  • Look for dining options that have the share factor; it’s a more social, relaxed approach to group dining
  • Get active and think of unique ways to get together with friends. It doesn’t need to be someone’s 30th to jump out of a plane or attend a dance class

A Different Road – LORE

 

REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

To the cavernous pit that is Cinema One.  The handful of us sitting there were like leaves blowing around with nowhere to go.  Meanwhile, substantial numbers had lined up for the Madagascar movie, the adults with dutiful looks.  For it was still school holidays in the ACT and the day was bleak.

Previews for The Words, which is definitely worth a look, with Bradley Cooper (the current go-to man for many things) and Dennis Quaid* appearing to do fine things.  And a French movie, not The Intouchables this time, about the struggle of a disregarded son to follow the winemaking footprints of his father.  Yawn, shrug (Gallically).

I was after darker fare and found it in Lore, (that’s pronounced Law-ray, by the way, an abbreviation of the fine German name Hannelore).  Before commenting briefly, it is prudent to observe that few would disagree that the Nazis were the most appalling people ever to walk the planet although a few have tried to emulate them.  Nothing should ever get in the way of that truth.

Anyhow, the less than magical Reich that was Nazi Germany is in collapse as the film opens.  The loyal Nazi family of an SS officer collect their belongings in a truck and head for the Black Forest, leaving Dad behind.  After a time of growing desperation, the mother** tells their teenage daughter, Lore, to take the other children to their grandmother’s house near Hamburg.  The two girls, two little boys and a baby set off on a long trip through a hell that is made even more punishing by the beautiful summer weather.  They are exploited and frightened, and receive kindness only from Thomas, a resourceful if callous young man who may or may not be Jewish.  His motive is unclear until the end.

See it for the snapshot of life and attitudes at a time and place when certainty was dissolving into grief and blame and everyone lied rather than admit the truth.  See it for the wonderful sense of place, from the shaded forests to the open farmlands and then to the mudflats of Schleswig-Holstein.  See it for performances that are more real than young actors should know how to offer.  And see it for the reflection it offers on how the Nazis worked, through deceit and degradation of anyone they opposed.

The film is a German/Australian production and probably cost less than the coconut water and white omelette budget for Total Recoil.

 

* – not Randy Quald or Quade Cooper, either of whom would have looked ridiculous.

** – who demonstrates some of the personality characteristics that made the Nazis so popular.

The 16th Japanese Film Festival – 14th to 25th Nov

The Japanese Film Festival (JFF) started in 1997 with three free film screenings by Festival Director Masafumi Konomi.

From humble beginnings, the JFF has grown exponentially over the past 15 years, enjoying positive success in all areas. Last year the festival celebrated its 15th year with an attendance of approximately 22,000 nation-wide, quickly taking place as one of the largest Japanese Film Festivals outside of Japan.

The JFF has had the pleasure of showing a variety of films over the past years from classics to newly released films that are currently screening in Japan.

The Japanese Film Festival is presented by the Japan Foundation, Sydney who manages and run the two flagship cities, Sydney and Melbourne. Other Australian cities with abridged programs are assisted with the help of the Embassy of Japan and the Consulate-General of Japan or respecting cities.

Make sure you check out the festival this year, it’s going to be one of the best. You can catch it in Sydney from the 14th Nov to 25th Nov & in Melbourne from 29th Nov to 9 Dec. See you there!

Win an IPad Clutch

Why So Serious?

…well that’s because b.sirius and Design Federation are giving you lucky devils the chance to win one of their new IPad clutch range (4 to give away!) which would make the perfect Christmas gift for that special someone (or for yourself).

To enter, simply click through to the Design Federation Site

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