Friday, September 25, 2009

My Favourite Films of ALL TIME! #7
The Witches [1990]
Directed by: Nicolas Roeg
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Rowan Atkinson

"You're in for a treat"

Lawd oh lawdy! Any kid who grew up in the 90's has most likely seen this film. It's one of those rare "too scary for kids" type of childrens movies that i love so much. These types of movies don't seem to pop up as much anymore, which is a shame.
I knew nothing of the book it was based on, and i saw it for the first time back in 1991 when it had JUST hit video and my teacher at the time rented it to show it to the class. It freaked me the fuck out, but i loved it.

The movie follows the story of a young boy named Luke, and his Grandmother. She tells him scary stories about her time as a little girl and the encounters she had with real life witches in the town she lived in. One day Luke's parents die in a car accident, and his Grandmother becomes his sole guardian. She takes him on a trip to England where they stay at a hotel, and during their stay, The Grand High Witch [played by Anjelica Huston] organizes a conference for all the other witches of England to attend.
Soon Luke finds himself learning that witches are in fact real like his Grandmother warned him, and it's up to him to stop The Grand High Witch from turning all the children in England into MICE!
Why mice?..........well, witches find children to be like vermin, mice are dirty little things, so they choose to turn them into rodents. Ha!

If there's one thing that sticks out like crazy from the moment you first start watching this movie, is that it's FULL of atmosphere. The story that's told in the beginning about the girl who goes missing and then appears as an imagine in her parents painting in their home is really creepy. As a kid, that freaked me out! and watching it as an adult, it still has a very haunting feel to it.
Another highlight is when Luke encounters his first witch as he's playing outside in a tree. The woman is creeptastic, like some sort of child kidnapping psychopath dressed in a nice outfit.
The witches meeting is also a scary mess. Not so much because it's spooky, but because the witches are so hideous removing their wigs and shoes. You could just picture one of them creeping up after you as you tried to hide. They're fucked.

The best thing about this movie is Anjelica Huston. It's such a great career moment for her. Every time i think of her, this is the first movie that pops up in my head [as well as Ever After]. She plays evil so well, she has the look, and she has a strong presence on screen. She looks like she's having a blast playing The Grand High Witch, and every time she's in a scene she steals the show. You can't take your eyes off her.

The movie is HUGELY underrated. You'll find more people who haven't heard of it, then those who have. Those who have however, all agree on one thing, that the movie is creepy!. I hope to see a nice DVD package for this one day, so far it's only had a bare bones release, and not even in every country.
Don't be turned off by the fact that it's a kids film. It has a great story, some genuinely eerie moments and Anjelica rips it up. It's definitely for everybody. In saying that though.........i'm not sure if i'd let a kid under 5 watch it, if it freaked me out at 6, i can only imagine what it'd do to someone even younger. If you're looking for something to scare your kids with to keep them away from strangers though, show them this, it'll work like magic, haha.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Whew Chald!Beyonce
I Am... Tour 2009
Acer Arena

First the opening acts....

Jessica Mauboy: Yay!!! Australia's new r&b Princess had the biggest moment of her career nabbing the chance to open up for a megastar like Beyonce. She was great on stage, very energetic and even threw in a song i didn't expect to hear [To The Floor]. The girl is screaming for her own show! i'm sure it'll happen in due time. JESSICA!!!!

Flo Rida: Unfortunately for Beyonce, the build up to her show was ruined by the this dull and randomly put together opener. The first thing that confused me was Flo's entrance....for the entire part of the first song i didn't even realize he was on stage. There were 2 guys rapping, dressed the same and wearing caps, i'm supposed to tell these mongs apart???? Anyway, eventually he revealed himself properly, and i can't say i was impressed, the guy looked boring on stage. Taking his shirt off didn't heighten much of the performance either since the guy is about as sexy as an old shoe. Another strange thing about his opener was how he organized his songs. He only sang a minute and a half of most of the tracks, and would then stop to talk to the "lovely ladies", or give away TOWELS! What was with the fucking towels? he just kept signing them and throwing them to everybody, haha! he even gave away a giant gold necklace, it was so fug, lmao.
Anyway, thankfully it came to an end soon after his uneventful entrance, and i was able to stop rolling my eyes.

Beyonce: I've seen a few live shows this past year, and even though the shows have been GREAT and the acts have been VERY well know, there's just something different about seeing someone so other worldly famous like Beyonce.
She made a nice dramatic entrance, lights, smoke, a sexy silhouette, and then BANG! she kicked right into her first song quickly. It was Crazy In Love, the crowd was absolutely insane, stomping and screaming for her. She was hair flipping and hip shaking her ass off like crazy. If she pumped her crotch and threw her hair about anymore, i thought she was going to break a limb, it was great. She threw out a few more songs [including Freakum Dress, woo!] and her dancers finished off the first part of the show dancing and popping to Get Me Bodied.

She slowed it down after that with Smash Into You, and a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria. She was dressed in some sort of white wedding dress, and it looked so magical on stage. They toyed with a lot of lighting in the show. They kept trying to make her glow like some sort of Goddess on stage, it looked cool. Her voice was really powerful live, she sang the tracks beautifully. She finished off that section with one of my favourite moments of the night, Broken Hearted Girl. The performance itself was very straight forward, but i love the song and she sounded great.

Sasha Fierce makes her first appearance soon after this. There was a great video interlude featuring a robotic Beyonce and a cheetah. I heard Sweet Dreams was left off the set list for some of her shows and i was hoping mine wouldn't be one of them, sadly it was. It played during an interlude for a minute and that's all i heard from it. It's a shame, it's a big hit here atm and the crowd went crazy when it started playing. It didn't matter soon though because once DIVA kicked in, my brain melted a little. The bass line on that track has always been hot, but hearing it live was really awesome. She popped her pussy so hard in this part, it might be my favourite part of the show for me. To my surprise she also sang Radio, which i also liked.

Throughout the night, Beyonce did her trademark sweat soaked towel giveaways, haha! It was such a random thing to do, but the crowd go ape shit for it, so i can see why she does it. Sometimes she'd be singing so hard, that she'd snatch a towel from the crowd and furiously slam her face with it and then she'd throw it back to the fan and he'd get hit in the face with it, LMAO!!!!! it was fucking awesome. Bitch needs a towel!!!!!!

She had some really great video interludes being played between segments. My favourite was the one that appeared before Baby Boy. It featured Beyonce tossing a coin in an empty cave [i think that's where she was], and the coin landed on the side that featured Sasha's face. Then Sasha showed up taking the moment from poor B and walking off onto the stage. Loved it.
Soon after that Beyonce was floating over the crowd from some wires and preparing for a Destiny's Child medley, which she finished off with a few other solo songs like Check On It and Video Phone.

After this she slowed it down again to sing Listen from her movie Dreamgirls, and then she sang her own version of At Last to video footage of President Obama. Nice moment, the audience really loved it.

At this point the show had been going for a while and once the backdrop on the stage started playing a whole collection of YouTube clips of people dancing to Single Ladies, the crowd went fucking mental, and we knew we were about to see the big finale. The clips were hilarious, and once Beyonce came on stage, NO ONE was sitting down. EVERYONE was dancing or standing. At one point, Beyonce urged the women to "put cho hand in his face!" and all the women were flipping their hands all over, lmao! It was a true SISTA HOOD moment.

Once Single Ladies wrapped we knew she had an encore. After a short break she returned to a roaring audience for Halo. It was nicely done, but something a little unexpected happened. At one point earlier in the show, i noticed [on one of the big projection screens scanning the crowd] a little girl who looked like she had cancer. She didn't have a lot of hair, and she was right at the front of the stage. Beyonce stopped the song and made an announcement on stage about the girl, she asked the girl if she wanted to come up, and she did. The little girl introduced herself as Chelsea. She looked about....5 years old, and she had the sweetest face and voice. Beyonce then dedicated the rest of Halo to her. Beyonce was on her knees next to her, hugging her and singing, Chelsea was singing along, and when Beyonce started changing the words to "Chelsea, we can see your Halo", the girl started to cry, and so was EVERYONE in the audience. It was a really touching moment and the whole audience was just silent and in tears. I really had to hold myself back because i was getting really emotional. Chelseah seemed to love the dedication though and it was a beautiful way to end the show, even if it was slightly depressing.
After that, the show was done.

Beyonce was amazing live. She seemed really happy with the crowd reaction to the show. At one point, she started singing Irreplaceable, and she only got through about 30 seconds of it. The rest was sang PERFECTLY insync by the whole crowd, she looked SO impressed, haha. Nice moment.

She's a superstar.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Favourite Films of ALL TIME! #6Kill Bill Vol. 2 [2004]
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino.
Starring: Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine

"Revenge is a dish best served cold"

Ok, so technically Kill Bill was created to be ONE movie. Hopefully for the fans of this project, we will see the long awaited "Whole Bloody Affair" edition of the film on DVD, where the movie is edited back into it's one picture format. Until then, we need to get over this whole one movie bullshit and come to terms with the fact that it was released in 2 volumes! YES! 2 volumes! We also need to accept the fact that, both volumes are actually VERY different in tone AND style. So if anyone wants to bitch at me for only picking ONE of the volumes instead of both because it was actually "one movie", i'm telling you now, piss the fuck off! It's 2 volumes, and they're both different as fuck!

Now, let's get on with this.....

The overall storyline that goes across both volumes of Kill Bill is as follows: The Bride [Uma Thurman] was shot in the head on her wedding day. She was shot by her boss, Bill [David Carradine], who happens to be the head of a group of elite assassins, a group The Bride herself is a member of. The only problem with this killing is that Bill didn't shoot her quite good enough, so The Bride survives and lays in a coma for a few years. The Bride was also pregnant at the time of her attempted slaying..............oh, what a mess. Bill and the other assassins who were responsible for The Brides situation assume she'll never wake up from her sleep, but they're wrong!!!!!! One day, The Bride wakes the fuck up! and she remembers EVERYTHING, and she's fucking PISSED OFF! They killed her unborn baby, they killed her friends, and they took her life for 4 years as she lay bed ridden and plugged into a machine!
Over the course of 2 volumes, The Bride tracks down each member of the assassin crew who malled her down on her wedding day, and she takes them out, one, by one. She just doesn't shoot them, or strangle them either, no.............she cuts them the FUCK up with her Hitaro Hanzo ninja sword! And i'm talking about some SERIOUS body count fuckery here!What's the difference between the two volumes? Well, MOST of the flashy action happens in vol 1. It's slick, it's fast paced, it's Asian film inspired, and it features lots of outrageous violence. Vol 1 is fucking bad ass! and i love it just as much as Vol 2. But for me, the bulk of the story is what i loved in Vol 2, which is why it gets the head above vol 1 for my fav movie list.We really get to delve into The Brides history and relationship with her ex boss and ex lover, Bill. The fast paced feel of part 1 is dropped for a much quieter and slower moving story. We find out about how The Bride discovered her pregnancy, where she was trained to become an assassin, and who the remaining clan of killers are that she has set out to wreak revenge upon. Both volumes compliment each other in different ways. For me personally though, it's the story heavy second part that kept me more interested.

It took me a couple of viewings before i was able to sit and really enjoy Vol 2 for what it was. The difference between both volumes is pretty strong, and if you wanted mindless action and fun like you got in vol 1, you may be a little disappointed. But don't fret too much, because vol 2 certainly has it's handful of violent moments! The stand out being the show down between The Bride and the one eyed cunt Queen, Elle Driver [Daryl Hannah].
Action isn't what you watch vol 2 for. You watch it to see The Bride finally take back what was hers, and you also get to find out what the BIG secret in vol 2 is. Well, technically you found out that secret at the end of vol 1, but you see the effects of it in vol 2.
You also get to see the meeting between The Bride and Bill, which isn't about "fighting" at all. In fact, you get to see them slog it out with some tense conversation and big reveals! It's a great scene when they meet again for the first time. Another standout moment from the film is the flashback of The Bride training with Kung Fu master, Pai Mai. It's the only "Asian cinema" throwback in the film. Unlike vol 1, the rest of vol 2 is actually a lot more western movie themed.

Unless you're into really brain dead action, i doubt you'll be hard pressed to NOT get into vol 2 of Kill Bill. It may be slower and more script heavy, but it's so well written, which makes it easy to move on from vol 1 and enjoy what Quentin has to offer character wise with vol 2. There's so much meat to the story, and it's perfectly acted by everyone involved. Uma is fucking amazing in these movies!
Prepare for a bit of change after you see vol 1. Don't worry though, it's a change you'll welcome soon enough once you realize how badass the remainder of the story is. There's really no other way you can describe the movie other than calling it something like "badass". Both volumes are epic, and together it's one great long watch. Separately though, it's vol 2 that has the special magic for me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Favourite Films of ALL TIME! #5Dancer In The Dark [2000]
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Starring: Bjork, Catherine Deneuve

"You don't need eyes to see"

Well..............HOW exactly do i go about describing this movie? It's one of those few films i've mentioned before that has left an everlasting impression on me after only one viewing. I don't even KNOW if "impression" is the right word to use. It sounds like too soft of a about, INDENTED INTO MY FUCKING BRAIN FOR ALL FUCKING TIME!!!!!! [breathes]..........ok, ok........i'll calm down.........but seriously, this movie really fucked me side ways emotionally.
I remember when it first came out, the only thing i knew about it was that Bjork was nominated for an Academy Award [to my surprise and joy], and that Bjork turned up to the awards ceremony wearing a now infamous swan dress that came with a matching bird egg purse, haha! oh Bjork! you kooky kooky thing! I'm a Bjork fan, so the movie peaked my interest because she was in it.
Eventually it hit video stores and i picked it up one night. I hadn't read any reviews and i had NO idea what it was about. All i knew was that my older sister had seen it and she told me it left her practically traumatized by the end. She saw it during it's cinema run and she said the entire audience was in tears. Other than that, i knew of Bjork's award nomination and that the film was a critical hit.

So there i was, going into the film blindly.....

The movie starts off very pleasantly. We get introduced to Selma [Bjork], a young mother who has immigrated to America and is working to save money so she may get her son an operation that will stop him from going blind. Selma has this same disease, and for her it's too late, so she spends her days working and drifting off into imaginary musicals to keep herself happy and sane. Selma loves musicals you see............she skips about in her quirky song and dance routines, counting steps and making beats out of metallic clanking sounds and acting merry. It's all very sweet and loving, and it leaves you feeling all "awwww" at the situation. Her poor son.

Turns out life isn't SO sweet though. No, it REALLY isn't. Without giving too much away, we see Selma go from a struggling Mother trying to save her son, to a struggling Mother trying to save HERSELF for something she gets in trouble for. It takes an utterly HEARTBREAKING turn and it leaves you feeling sick and depressed! i'm serious!The movie starts off with Selma doing nothing but smiling and enjoying her fantasies. By the midway point though, the movie is a non stop downward spiral into misery and sadness. We see her shining face turn to loss and sorrow. She sings a song called 'Scatterheart' at one point, it's a song that's about her being DELUDED about the awful events that have just occurred. She sings along pretending the entire incident was make believe. By the end of the song though, reality kicks in again and she ends the song breaking down and realizing how deep she's gone. Watching that transition left me choking. You just feel SO much for this woman, you want to help her so much, but you just know nothing will fix the mess she's in.
I kept watching the film hoping Selma would get a chance to redeem herself and clear her name. Sadly though, it just doesn't get any better.

I was practically rocking back and forth during the final scene in this movie. It was an emotional roller coaster watching the events unfold in front of me. I knew why this movie was ripping the hearts out of people who were watching it world wide. The story completely grabs at your soul and just tears it apart into hundreds of pieces! By the time the credits rolled i really had to sit and absorb the whole thing.

I have only seen this movie 2 times in total. It's NOT the type of film you can watch over and over because it could lose it's impact a little. I like to remember this film as i first saw it, and when i one day watch it again, i'd like it to have been a while so i can absorb it all in again. The movie should be savored.

If you don't like Bjorks style of music, you may find the very few musical numbers a little uninteresting. BUT.........all of the songs flesh out the story, so lyrically you'll get a lot out of them. Aside from that, i can't find ANY other reason as to how anybody could watch this and not be moved in some way by it. Every person i have met you has seen it has always had a very powerful experience watching it. One guy in particular was so distraught by the end of it all, he couldn't even sit through the ending in all it's entirety.

Before i finish my write up on this film, i need to point out how INCREDIBLE Bjork is in this movie. It's a story that she has said was easy for her to relate to, having her own son in real life to reflect on for the part. It's the only serious acting role she's ever undertaken, and i'm not sure how she would do in any other role, but her belief in this one was SO real that it translates POWERFULLY on screen. As i mentioned before, she was nominated for countless awards [and won a few] for her role in this, even an Oscar. She said if she didn't win the award, she'd never act again, apparently the role took a lot out of her. Sadly, she didn't win, and she's stuck to her word, she's never done any acting since. A shame really.

The movie has a very indie feel to it, so i'm not sure if i'd recommend it to everyone. However, for anybody who can handle such a beautifully filmed movie with gut wrenching intensity, you'll be in for a treat. Just take a box of tissues with you when you watch it, you'll need it i assure you. Don't bring a gun though, you may feel inclined to USE IT on yourself by the time it's over. Ha!