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Archive for August, 2013

MUSCLEBOUND – Pain & Gain movie review

pain-and-gain

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

PLACE: Dendy, Cinema

PIC: Pain and Gain

PEEPS: A congregation of six.

A feature that is longer than usual equates to fewer ads: don’t copy movies, buy the DVD of Warm Bodies, eat and drink healthy things, wear lots of jewellery and join the Navy.  Not all at the same time, necessarily.  It also meant fewer previews: RED2 and the 2013 version of Anchorman.  Both appear to have been successful the first time around but there is no law that says there must always be a sequel or a prequel.

There’s unlikely to be a sequel to Pain and Gain, in part because a number of characters are… ummm… dead, and a plausible plot would require a major leap from the “true story” shtick.

Or, just maybe, zombies.

The plot is said to be a true story, a fact which the viewer is reminded about on a few occasions.  Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a gym instructor who is empowered with the success message from Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong) and becomes unsatisfied with the limited version of the “American Dream” that he lives.  He partners up with born-again Christian/cokefiend Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and mainstream-if-manic Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie). This intrepid trio have blurry vision and the collective intelligence of pondlife.

They kidnap the comfortably rich and ever-so-slightly dodgy Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) and force him to sign over his assets to them.  While their standard of living improves, the plan quickly goes awry, notwithstanding the blundering of the local Miami police. As with many dreamers and visionaries, our heroes eventually wake up, by which time they are in a layer of squelchy stuff so deep and so malodorous that their futures are somewhat confined.

rebel-wilson-and-anthony-mackie-star-in-new-pain-gain-

There are things one could dislike deeply about this movie, principally the casual and humorous depiction of excruciating violence (at least some of which presumably happened, given that this is a true story) and the failure to push the socio-politico-cultural point about a society that limits options for many while asserting that those who cannot participate fail through their own actions.  But there is enough to balance those problems.  The three leads have obviously buffed to the max for their roles, and that is something that will please a segment of the audience.

The social point is identified, even if it is not pressed.  There is a small Oz moment (even if it is Rebel Wilson*) and a well-balanced performance from Ed Harris as a private detective.  There are some genuinely funny moments as the leads discover that their values are not especially well considered.

And, in the grey days of late Canberra winter, there’s Florida to look at.  It’s not the worst movie this year, but it could have been better.

 

Three flat whites. Light soy.  No sugar or sweetener.

 

FPB

 

 

* – playing a loudmouthed and unintelligent woman, so not a big stretch from her usual roles.

Interview with Jess Harris, Co-creator of ABC’s Twentysomething

Estelle Pigot throws the curly questions at Jess Harris, one of the creators of ABC2’s popular series twentysomething (DVDs in stores now!) which is now in its 2nd series.

Two Flat Whites also has 5 twentysomething Season 1 DVDs signed by both Jess and Josh available for our readers to win. Details are on our Facebook page.

Twenty_Something_S2_R-113872-9_3D[2] 

Where did the initial idea of Twentysomething spring from?

 JH: Josh [Schmidt, co-creator] and I were in the thick of our twenties. We found constant humour in the ups and downs of the life we were living. One minute you had not a care in the world, the next you were freaking out how to pay rent, hating your job and wondering if we would ever have any sense of creative fulfillment. We felt out of control of our own future, so we decide to take matters into our own hands and create a comedy about the life we were living.

 

What do you think your 20’s should be all about? Do your characters Josh and Jess have the right idea?

JH: I think your 20s is a time of exploration and freedom. Jess and Josh are making the most of being young; they are enjoying an era where you can be selfish and a little reckless. But there is also the burning desire to make your mark, to find your passion and purpose.

 

As actors, you might know something personally about odd-jobs and casual employment….

JH: We have done every sort of casual employment you can think of, from waiting tables, ripping tickets at cinemas, retail, babysitting, cleaners you name it. Even though, at the time, they weren’t the dream job, I look back on them all with fondness.

 

Are relationships a struggle during this decade of life? 

JH: Finding the perfect twentysomething partner in crime is such a huge part of your twenties, but it’s also a time you crave adventure and independence. My advice would be – enjoy the single life for as long as you can, it’s such a fleeting window of youth and freedom, run wild!

 

Was it a dream come true when you came across from Channel 31 to ABC?

JH: Definitely. It was the ultimate. ABC2 was the prefect next progression for the show.

 

What is Hamish Blake like to work with? 

JH: He’s the best. We have been friends with Hamish since high-school, so we are all so comfortable with each other. He brings such a sense of lightness to the set, he makes me laugh like not many others can, he is so sharp and funny, with such a massive heart. His character Billy brings out the sweet and vulnerable side in Jess, it’s the perfect balance to the show.

jess-and-josh

We have heard you hate the question, “What are you doing with yourselves?” but what are you up to next?

JH: You are right, we get anxious when we hear that question. We would love to stay twentysomething forever and live vicariously through Jess and Josh, I think a 3rd season would be amazing, to see them turn 30 would be the ultimate ending to an amazing chapter.

 

Follow twentysomething on Facebook  & go onto Two Flat White’s Facebook page to win one of 5 signed DVDs!

 

Local and Imported Brews

FILM REVIEW: THE WORLD’S END

 the_worlds_end

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

PLACE: 10:30 am, Hoyts Belconnen, Cinema 7

PIC: The World’s End

PEEPS: The Lovely Companion and I were about half the crowd.

 

The government electoral ad, but not the one for jobs, and the grating PillowTalk one with a bit of product placement*, plus a new one for someone building ecologically sound houses.  More previews than I can remember, including Now You See Me, We’re the Millers, Pain and Gain, Kick-Ass 2 and Runner, Runner (Ben Affleck runs a dodgy online poker site,  Justin Timberlake confronts him and there’s a non-virtual violence depicted).  The LC and I played the game of thunbs up and down, and I suspect she has better taste, or maybe an even lower tolerance for utter silliness than I do.

For the film was pretty silly, though well-made and with some structure.  Many years before, Gary King (Simon Pegg) and his four mates finished school and decided to do the Golden Mile, a pub crawl through their town of Newton Haven**.  They failed, as teenagers will when confronted by quantities of alcohol if they don’t start king-hitting passing pedestrians.  Years later, the friends (played by Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Nick Frost and Paddy Considine) are prevailed upon or deceived by Gary into trying to succeed as men where they had failed as boys.  It gives nothing away that the friends have moved on with their adult lives, with some success, while Gary remains beached as an eternally irresponsible teenager.  He is as embarrassing and irremovable as a drunkenly unwise tattoo with the name of the last woman one met misspelt or the Chinese characters for “No MSG on Request”****.   He acts like an idiot because it’s not been brought to his attention, through the layers of self-induced addling. that he shouldn’t, because what is merely silly in a boy is disgusting and tiresome in a man.

THEWORLDSEND

The town has changed, and not in a good way.  Some of the pubs are now, in effect, parts of chains of identical establishments and have lost the character they used to have.  At least a couple serve Foster’s****.  And the people are different, in a way which will not utterly surprise anyone who saw Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  Mayhem and special effects seem to be on a bigger scale than either of those films, but a pretty reliable supply of jokes and sight-gags, plus a couple of cameos (Pierce Brosnan, Bill Nighy) and a nice supporting role by Rosamund Pike***** keep the pace up and there’s even a drunkenly rational motive for continuing the pub crawl that is beyond any sober argument.  An untaken opportunity to reflect on what maturity is supposed to be (rather than not be) and a clever mining of the issue of whether sane and considered behaviour is a necessary condition for humanity******. 

No prizes for guessing the ending or its consequences. 

Three flat whites.  Local microbrewery chasers.

 

FPB

 

 

* – though it has occurred to me that the Ashton Kutcher piece called Jobs is likely to be an extensive commercial for Apple, and one we will pay to see.  I mean, we paid to see The Social Network, didn’t we?

** – actually somewhere bizarrely called Welwyn Garden City.  I mean, no-one calls Queanbeyan “Near Canberra Parasite City”, do they?  Well, not if they’re talking to people from Queanbeyan (aka Struggletown).

***  – we’ve all seen NRL players.

**** – don’t mind me, I just made a spitting noise.  Calling it Australian is like calling the old Eskimo Pie icecream a product of Alaska (though it’s branded with an inappropriate and obsolete name for a kind of native North American people).

***** – I won’t do “sigh” because the LC was there.

****** – it’s probably not – I’ve travelled on enough public transport where it’s been in short supply – but it might make things better if we could get around to it sometime.

The Art of Dollmaking: Dolls By Bourke

This interview first appeared on WATERMARX GRAPHICS‘ blog ( a blog dedicated to celebrating the craft of letterpress and paper design )dollsbybourke 

Recently we bought a beautiful, customised doll for our daughter from Dolls By Bourke. Not only is Bourke, the man behind this venture, a clever graphic designer in his own right (and one half of the dynamic duo, Kinski & Bourke who built this site) but his handcrafted creations are taking the design community by storm. It’s just another example of this renaissance of craftsmanship we are enjoying here in Australia. Just like letterpress, his work bears the mark of craft – it’s handmade not mass made – so each doll is unique and the product of time and care.

How did you begin making dolls?
I serendipitously found myself in an Eckersley’s shop one day. Being surrounded by crafty things got me in the creative spirit, and I’d wanted to cultivate an artistic hobby for some time that was not my job. So I bought some clay!

Do you model your dolls on real people or your imagination? 
Both. At first it was just my imagination, but then my nephew’s first birthday was coming up and I thought a doll fashioned in his likeness would make an excellent and special gift! Then people began asking me if they could commission me to make a doll version of their friend/baby etc. But I don’t want to limit myself to just traditional dolls. At the moment I’m working on a doll that has ‘died’ named Gina – she will be a complete skeleton and have her own casket – I am very much looking forward to experimenting with paints and textures to create the look and feel of decay. I have a lot of ideas brewing and it would be great to have an exhibition some time. I want to start sculpting birds and other animals, too.

How long does it take you to make one?
It depends. I’m a graphic designer by day, so the amount of time I can spend sculpting depends on my current workload. It takes a while for the clay to completely dry so a project can be on hold for several days or sometimes even weeks before I can do any more work on it. Once the sculpture is dry, the most arduous process of sanding begins – I like the dolls to have very smooth surfaces, so firstly I start with a course sandpaper and then move on to a fine grit sandpaper to get the smoothest result. My Dremel power tool often comes in handy for sanding and polishing. Painting doesn’t take too long. But making an outfit is pretty time consuming – lots of sewing and measuring. I had no experience with ‘couturiering’ so it’s been a learning curve. Short answer: about a month.

What is the history or tradition of doll making? 
In ancient times dolls were often used in magic rituals. Sometimes the doll would be given to children to play with afterwards, but oftentimes a doll would be considered too laden with supernatural powers to be given to a child. There have been a lot of South American child mummies unearthed, perfectly preserved, clutching their crudely made dolls – cute but also sad. Come to think of it, I’d like to make some ritualistic, tribal-type dolls. It’s this aspect of the history and traditions of doll making that interests me, rather than the idea of an old man or lady tinkering in her workshop while drinking Earl Grey.

What are some reasons to have a doll made by you?
It makes the perfect gift. My sculptures are completely handmade and one-of-a-kind, no copies and no moulds. You will have a unique treasure that nobody else owns. Use it as a paperweight or a conversation starter.

How can one order a customised doll?
Head on down to my website Dolls By Bourke and let me know what you have in mind. If your doll is going to be based on somebody living or dead, I will probably request some photos I can use as reference.

 

Courtesy of Watermarx Graphics www.watermarx.net

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