While I'm on the topic of movies, I like reading the Sunday newspapers - they're an excellent source of news horoscopes. Anyhow, I was astounded to the Sunday Terror's Flick of the Week is The Phantom Menace! Now there's something I didn't expect to see in my lifetime. This pithy piece of journalism starts off saying it might look a bit dated now compared to Avatar but it's still a great film. Still great?WHEN? AND when was this films outdated story telling with it's racial stereotypes, nonsensical plotting (metachlorines my ass!), plodding pace and borderline crappy CGI ever in date? How is this the flick of the week? (particularly in a week featuring Being John Malkovich and The Player?)
Surely, this is one of the seven signs of the apocalypse in revelations... I'm starting to feel like this guy...
So I'm off this work this week and decided to finally see Avatar. I was always planning to see it as unlike most people, I haven't seen Titanic and like most people, I am a fan of Terminator 1&2 and Aliens. So how'd Jim fair? As with everyone else, it was visually impressive although I was more taken with the little things like ash falling rather than the big action set pieces. I kind of fell in and out of unreality - sometimes getting engrossed into the film and forgetting it's one big digital effect only to be jolted out of it by something not quite right or something stupid that Sam Worthington said. I know the story has been analysed to death so I have nothing really to add except it was serviceable but hardly the non-stop headfuck that Aliens was on first view.
What has really been interesting me is all the discussion that Avatar is a game changer for the film industry. Now that Cameron has developed the technology to make this kind of film, any subsequent films of its ilk should be cheaper to make. Further, with the announcement that the next Harry Potter movie and Clash of the Titans will be released as 3d movies it seems that this will be more common. Technologically speaking, this has changed things but will these films work with out the bazillion dollar budget Avatar had? I mean is it far more groundbreaking that an untested director (Neill Blomkamp) made an infinitely more interesting Sci-Fi film (District 9) on a relatively small budget? Is it more interesting that plausibly the most enjoyable film experience I had this year (Fantastic Mr Fox) relied on stop-motion animation and a great story? I'm not sure a bigger budget or 3d technology would have made either of these film better.
I think the concern of Avatar is that it somehow justifies these $230million budgets because it's made a shitload of cash. I love movies but spending the nation GDP of Vanuatu on getting the CGI tears of an alien baby accurate seems somehow... excessive. I guess there will always be blockbusters (and I love them too) but I guess this might be my point, a film maker spending $200 million+ on a film isn't going to make anything particularly challenging so that it wouldn't alienate mainstream audiences. The last big budget film which really pushed some boundaries was Watchmen - sourced from a great graphic novel and not as bad as people made it out to be. But its box office failure no doubt stopped the film industry seriously considering the production of big budget films with anti-heroes and challenging plots. Or maybe Kickass will change that?
Anyhow, there's no central thesis here, I'm just talking. I just know James Cameron got $20 out of me for a film I think probably supports the more excessive trends in Hollywood. Then again, I did just enjoy my last three hours so maybe it's money well spent...
So I went to see Them Crooked Vultures last night and of course, it was awesome. The riffs were rifftastic, the rock action was premium grade and that distant roar of cicadas I hear at this very moment is me losing my hearing just a little bit.
As I don't get out to concerts that often anymore, I forgot for a minute, that rock music, the music I love, is bogan music. I think things were exacerbated by the fact it was Australia day so the audience was full of all these dickheads in their flags, with their southern cross tattoos getting really drunk and aggressive. They had flag tattoos on their foreheads like a sign saying 'punch me here' and instead of chucking their drink cups on the floor, they just threw them at people's heads. There was the one big sweaty dude in front of me doing the 'I have no awareness of the people around me and I'll hit you if you get in my way' dance. I thought the nervy guy in a Metallica shirt next to him was going to punch him but no such luck. So, great band but the audience, my people, bogans.
This was made all the more apparent as I went for a drink after the show in the pub closest to where the Dirty Three were playing. All the asymmetrical haircutted indie boys and the impossibly cute girls that love them were there. Pound for pound, a much better looking and cooler group of people.
Look, I like living in Australia, but I don't feel the need to hoist the southern cross like a swastika. And I don't feel embarrassed by the music I listen to but for the love of Pete, why don't you leave your militant austra-fascism at home for an evening you bogan wankers and just enjoy the music without hitting anyone. Thank you.
I'm surprised that I've seen so many of these films...
Anyone in Sydney today I sincerely recommend not going outside. I just went down the video store (about 3 minutes walk away) and a minute into the walk my eyes were watering, the insides of my nostrils were sweating and it felt like I was going to collapse. I've lived in hot weather but today with combination of heat and wind - it seems unrelentingly oppressive... (as of the time of writing it is 38.4 degrees).
(Update - stroke of 4pm, gale force cool winds blow the heat away - thank you unnamed deity!)
For one reason or another, I haven't been going to many gigs recently but I was positively giddy at seeing Neko Case last night. And it was almost the perfect evening. Rolled up and got the rock star park out the front of the venue. Got the tip off to arrive early and sauntered in to get front row seats (no seat allocation for some reason). Neko Case puts on an amazing performance and plays the perfect set (all my favourite songs!). Show finishes, a set list is secured (above) and then off for great Vietnamese. All brilliant!!!
But there was one low point of the set. I don't know if it was a function of the gig being part of the Sydney Festival or that it was in a concert hall but in between songs some woman yells out, "Can you turn your amplifiers off?" Lady, amplification allows us to hear the music so what the FUCK are you talking about? Maybe she expected an acoustic set or something but this did not go down well. I think Neko thought it was a statement on the quality of the music and she got well pissed off basically chiding the heckler for a while and looking angry for a few songs until she regained her composure.
I've been to a lot of shows and heard a lot of hecklers - the drunks, the abusive losers and the overzealous fans but that shit was just weird and just kind of dragged what was an amazing performance down for a little while. People?!... words escape me...
As you may have noticed, I like lists. I'm a popular culture nerd who likes to argue about music, movies and books and compile lists about the things I love and hate. For example, the greatest album list of the noughties challenge has been taken up by a large number of my friends. I imagine at some point, we're all going to meet, play music and argue until we're blue in the face about the relative merits of our respective tastes.
I was talking to my friend Stephen who said it would be a great idea to compile all these lists on a website somewhere. So I have done - here. I figure instead of populating my site with hundreds of lists about music and films, I'd do that on another site and invite anyone who is keen to contribute their lists as well. I think I'm going to do one a week but I started it with Stephen's comprehensive Top 100 of the Noughties.
So if you're interested, send me a list and I'll put it up and then argue passionately as to why you're wrong...
These are my favourite records of the last decade. It has been brought back to an infinitely more manageable top 50 from 100 but they're all winners in their own way (a lot of great albums grazed the 50 mark but this is as faithful to my listening loves and habits as I can get). I was surprised - two live albums; heaps of female artists; a lack of metal and rawwwwk!; too much folky strumming and a lot of guitar solos. It all means nothing and will probably change tomorrow but enjoy...
1. Songs for the Deaf – Queens of The Stone Age 2. Body of Song – Bob Mould 3. Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea - PJ Harvey 4. Bubblegum – Mark Lanegan 5. Rated R - Queens of the Stone Age 6. Time (Revelator) - Gillian Welch 7. Middle Cyclone – Neko Case 8. The Creek Drank The Cradle – Iron and Wine 9. Rock Action – Mogwai 10. The Greatest – Cat Power 11. White Pony - Deftones 12. One Beat - Sleater Kinney 13. Live - Built to Spill 14. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures 15. Alive 2007 – Daft Punk 16. Plans - Death Cab For Cutie 17. Travels with Myself and Another – Future of the Left 18. The Argument - Fugazi 19. Kid A - Radiohead 20. Our Endless Numbered Days – Iron and Wine 21. You Are Free - Cat Power 22. American III: Solitary Man - Johnny Cash 23. Finally We Are No One - Mum 23. () - Sigur Ros 24. All Hands On The Bad One - Sleater Kinney 25. Son Of Evil Reindeer - The Reindeer Section 26. In The Reins - Calexico/Iron & Wine 27. Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia – The Dandy Warhols 28. Seven Swans - Sufjan Stevens 29. With Teeth - Nine Inch Nails 30. Do Dallas – Mclusky 31. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Nick Cave & Warren Ellis 32. The Hawk Is Howling – Mogwai 33. In Search Of… - NERD 34. Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven – Godspeed You! Black Emperor 35. Gold - Ryan Adams 36. Saturnalia – The Gutter Twins 37. Everything All The Time - Band of Horses 38. Things We Lost In The Fire – Low 39. You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine – Death From Above 1979 40. In Rainbows - Radiohead 41. District Line - Bob Mould 42. Come On Feel The Illinoise! - Sufjan Stevens 43. There Is No Enemy – Built to Spill 44. Source Tags and Codes – Trail of Dead 45. It's Not Me, It's You - Lily Allen 46. This Island – Le Tigre 47. For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver 48. Two Suns - Bat For Lashes 49. Elephant - The White Stripes 50. Sunrise Projector – Tycho
Happy new year. My question is, when is it reasonable to demand your neighbours take down their stupid Christmas lights? This photo was taken ten minutes ago.
New year resolution/revolutions will not be entered into here but as usual it is the bunch of self improvement promises that everyone has. I also wanted to note that when visiting my parents, I passed the big prawn for probably the last time as it is due for demolition soon. My Dad asked me if I wanted to get out and take a photo. The obvious answer is no and here is a shot for prosperity as we drove by. The big off prawn, may you rest in many pieces.
I wanted to talk about my favourite Vietnamese restaurant. Feeling lazy, I went down there tonight for some food and I noticed two things. Normally, they play that kind of relentlessly cheery Asian pop that you only hear when you're on tour in SE Asia - the kind they play insistently on six hour bus trips at volumes that no ipod can disguise. ANYHOW, I have started to notice a trend in that whenever a non-Vietnamese person walks in, the Asian pop is quickly replaced by an album of western power ballads. It starts with Richard Marx and then quickly heads down to Mariah, Whitney and Celine territory. Not pretty. They also have a TV playing loudly to compete with the terrible music which I noticed wasn't on tonight. The beautiful host (and she is a lovely and wonderful host) saw me looking at the blank TV and promptly turned it on. I'm hoping they aren't playing this music specifically when they see me walking in but that would be paranoid, no? Thoughts, suggestions... Maybe, I'll just get take away next time.
Finally, I've been working on my list of top 100 albums of the 00s but it is more exhaustive and time consuming than I thought. However, being that I am in a list mode, while watching some videos on Max (God bless pay TV at my parent's house), I saw an old Madonna video that got me thinking about guilty pleasures. I kind of hate that term because I rarely feel guilty about liking pop songs but there are a whole bunch of songs with infectious choruses that I had passing affection for but which you will never find on my last.fm charts or on my ipod. So here are my list of the top (not so) guilty pleasure songs for each year of the 00's:
2000 Don't tell me - Madonna (Maddy embraces stutter cowboy chic - I'm conflicted as to whether any Madonna post 1990 is embarrassing or not)
2001Family Affair - Mary J Blige (Mary croons over red hot Dre production)
2002Hot in herre - Nelly (plausibly the most presumptuous song ever written)
2003Beautiful - Christina Aguilera (launching a thousand karaoke sail boats forever!)
2004My Happy Ending - Avril Lavinge (I know, I KNOW - she is THE worst but this song has a killer chorus. Weirdly, Bob Mould totally rips the vocal hook off on the song Beating Heart The Prize).
2005Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson (I STILL LISTEN TO THIS SONG! SHAME! This nudged out the Veronicas 4ever and Rhianna Pon the Replay - seriously)
2006Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol (I am so embarrassed for liking some songs by this band BUT particularly this one)
2007Say It Right - Nelly Furtado (Just a great song)
2008Don't Stop the Music - Rihanna (everyone's favourite robot in a pretty lean year - this is a consolation as I can't put in Shut Up and Drive because that was 2007)
2009I Do Not Hook Up - Kelly Clakson (I know, she basically remade Since U Been Gone but I'm still a sucker for this song).
So there you go, those are my dirty little secrets. Notice I didn't put any Beyonce or JT on the list - that's because they're awesome and Crazy in Love is probably one of my favourite songs ever... I feel dirty... I'm going to listen to some Slayer.