Great Christmas!

What a week. Monday, my first day back at work for the year, I was a solo boy, then in the evening mum ‘n’ dad showed up. Tuesday I went to the airport at 4:00 to fetch Naoko and Zen, and then Tuesday night we had a “Christmas dinner” of cordon bleu, then we opened up our gifts. Yay.

Wednesday I worked, but Thursday and Friday I took off. Spent some time chilling out – I was exhausted and really needed to chill out with my family, and also to catch up on my sleep – and I watched two great movies.

Saturday, after tidying up the place, I went downtown to band practice. We tried out yet another drummer, but he’s also not going to make the cut. The search goes on. I also went to the Esplanade to rent some DVDs, then headed off to Codomo Club to meet Naoko and Zen, we went home together. Stayed up late doing this and that. Sunday played catchball with Zen, went swimming, and caught up on things. Finally done my DVD reviews. And now here come a few more. But first – the Christmas pics!

All the loot under the tree

All the loot under the tree

Shiny happy Christmas people

Shiny happy Christmas people

Peter and Zen with their new t-shirts and Star Wars Legos

Peter and Zen with their new t-shirts and Star Wars Legos

DVD reviews:

MAMM

MAMM


McCabe and Mrs Miller – Starts of with an alternate version of Leonard Cohen’s “The Stranger Song” with more Spanish guitar in the opening credits, which show Warren Beatty entering town. Climbing the steeple at sunset. Scenes seem like M*A*S*H as the frontier folk mumble to each other. “Sisters of Mercy” plays as they build the bordello. Great bath scene. Mrs Miler is on opium. Lovable characterless frontiersmen fumble and mumble through life, some gamble, som die. Funeral. Rich black couple. Asian hooker, very sexy. Keith Carradine. Ice concert. Boys ‘n’ girls kept apart. Man with rifle taboo. “Clement Samuels” lawyer (Samuel Clemens was Mark Twain). Big bear jacket. Shareholder speech. “Until people stop dying for freedom, it ain’t gonna be free.” Gullible McCabe. Killers that come into town erudite and intelligent. Fake snow falling. Ridiculous daytime chase through town as McCabe kills his killers. “Jesus Christ, the church is on fire.” Crazy train tank. McCabe frozen to ice cube, what a way to go.

ADLHA

ADLHA


Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More – Trippy red house interior, irrascible son Tommy is always listening to Mott The Hoople. “Socorro sucks!” “Life is short.” “So are you.” “I will get a job, write your problems” speech. “I hardly recognise him with his mouth closed.” “So long, suckers,” by Jodie Foster. Wine clothes in bag. “You look like you’ve been enbalmed.” Marty put “shoot the dog” joke into the movie because Alfred Lutter, who played Tommy, wouldn’t shut up about the joke. Kris and Alfred were on film for the first time.

A wonderful film, directed with hardly any menace by Martin Scorsese, featuring the lovable Ellen Burstyn, whose unlovable husband dies suddenly, and she leaves town without a penny to start a new life with her 11-year-old son as a singer, a career she was developing when she met her macho husband. Alice seems to be attracted to dominant psychopaths, and she soon meets another in Harvey Keitel, who has another great role to play as a slacking worm/monster/bully/freak-o. Wow! Alice moves on once again and meets Kris Kristofferson, who we all just have to love. The movie ends here, although it tries half-heartedly to keep the drama alive. The characters are lovable in Mel’s diner, with the psychotic weirdo played by Laura Dern, and a hopeless bumbler, played by… I don’t know… with her Big Daddy, the motorcycle uncle.

Burstyn won the academy award for best actress in this film, but had a hard life with her schizophrenic husband. She also played Jared Leto’s mother in Requiem For A Dream.

MR

MR


Mystic River – A truly frightening film, I just didn’t know in what way. Of course, it’s really all about the moral ambiguity of Sean Penn, which we see in every single scene of the film (although we don’t know it at the time). Tim Robbins is fantastic as the mortally screwed-up Dave, who was kidnapped as a child by child molesters under the eyes of his two friends. As adults, their lives intersect over the murder of Penn’s daughter. Nothing is as it seems, and the unravelling of the story is fascinating. Unfortunately, there’s a superfluous sub-plot over Kevin Bacon’s estranged wife, who has escaped to New York to give birth anonymously to their child. While it seems superfluous, it may also serve to display that Bacon’s character, while he has his problems, got off the lightest of the three.

The film was made in Boston, so it has a “The Departed” feel to it somehow. I have been to Boston, but I didn’t get a feeling like this about the place. I should ask my friends from there how the fims rate.

TLKOS

TLKOS


The Last King of Scotland – “If we had monkeys in Scotland, we’d probably deep fry them.” Stupid and characterless Scotsman goes to Uganda, is charmed by Idi Amin, lives his life in a dream, and then gets rescued – he does nothing, and is only a burden on the people around him. Great lines, though – “Welcome to the president’s car.” “Me and Bobby McGee” sung by Ugandan singer, sounds great. “We are not a game, we are real. I think that your death will be the first real thing that has happened to you.” Beating in a duty-free shop before a fluke saving. But the story wasn’t real at all, nothing is real.

P

P


Popeye – Another Robert Altman film, this one is another strange departure from a man who has left no genre untouched (McCabe & Mrs Miller was a cowboy film from an unlikely western director, this is an unlikely comic book adaptation). Altman goes for surreality every chance he can get, and has a surreal Sweethaven set built for his grotesque characters. Robin Williams is unrecognizable as Popeye (his first starring role, actually, and he mumbles his way through it), but Shelley Duvall is having the time of her life in the part that she was born to play (someone as skinny as her could not be turned down as Olive Oyl – in fact, you’d think that Altman custom-made the film for her, considering how often he used her in his films). With the hero drifting into town in the opening scenes, the film is reminiscent of many of Altman’s most famous films (M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs Miller), but it is nowhere near as good. The while film is the colour of mud, and none of the characters are memorable. Bluto is a brute-o, but we’ve seen that before. The only memorable bit is Popeye at the end of the movie dancing on the water. But it’s okay – I’ve tolerated plenty of slow-moving stylistic films by well-known masters of the film arts.

O11

O11


Oceans 11 (1960) – The dream film with the coolest cats in the world at that time, occasionally singing a song, but for the most part just lookin’ cool and hangin’ out. There’s a great opening half, where the gang comes together and plans the heist, each coming in with his own background story. Sinatra is feuding with wife Angie Dickenson, and Richard Conte’s character has just gotten out of jail and only wants to spend time with his son (who’s been sent to military school by Conte’s estranged wife, and wants to call him “sir” – heartbreaking). Then Cesar Romero is an ex-con who wants to marry Peter Lawford’s mother, and who tries unsuccessfully to befriend Lawford. Great stuff, great dialogue, great drama, great suits! The heist goes down without a hitch, but then there are post-heist complications. It all pieces together perfectly, and by the end you really feel like you’ve seen a film. Plus there’s the iconic shot of all of Ocean’s eleven henchmen (by now there are ten, actually) walking past the Sands. Great!

H&M

H&M


Harold and Maude – A dark comedy about a young man obsessed with death and funeals (Harold, played by Bud Cort) and an elderly holocaust survivor free spirit who teaches him the meaning of life (and death). Harold is a phony, but Maude is the real thing, and she acts circles around him. Even her make-up is better, as Cort’s blanche is a bit obvious. At least his acting comes alive (no pun intended) at the end of the film. Great Cat Stevens songs throughout. Ruth Gordon, who was supposed to be 79 years old (she “turns” 80 in the film), was 75 at the time, But Cort was 23.

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