Check out my Strummer review

29 September, 2007

I submitted my Joe Strummer movie review to The Scene website – and they published it here.

Pretty cool, hey?


Go Storm!

28 September, 2007
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Your correspondent offers coach Craig Bellamy some welcome advice

Wakes and I spent a very enjoyable afternoon watching the Melbourne Storm beat Parramatta in the NRL Preliminary Final last week.

The before-the-game speakers included league legends Andrew Johns and Gordon Tallis.

Johns received a warm and extended welcome from the large gathering; we thought the unspoken vibe was one of support for him and his recent revelations of a long-standing problem with drugs of addiction. Both guys spoke really well. Tallis off the field is not much different to Tallis on the field – you wouldn’t want to argue with him!

Kevin Sheedy was also there as a guest, holding court on his table with multiple passers-by and droppers-in as usual. He walked in part way through Tallis’ speech and received a loud ovation. As soon as Tallis finished his stint he headed over to pay his respects.

The game was a cracker – a hard-fought game with several flashes of individual brilliance from both sides. Happily, the best team won, and our boys are now off to Siddeney for the Grand Final on Sunday.

Wakes and I are heading up for the game – will report back next week on how the NRL Grand Final lines up with the AFL’s own One Day in September.

GO STORM!


All Australian vs Brownlow

27 September, 2007

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Congratulations to Jimmy Bartel on his Brownlow Medal win. He’s a great player and seems like a pretty likeable bloke as well.

There has been plenty of press this week on whether the Brownlow has turned into a de facto midfielders award.

Ben Doolan* over at Bombertalk went to the trouble of cross-referencing this year’s All Australian team with the number of Brownlow votes they received.

B: Scarlett (3 votes), Glass (2 votes), Milburn (0 votes)
HB: McLeod (15 votes), Egan (1 vote), C.Brown (2 votes)
C: K. Cornes (13 votes), Bartel (29 votes), C. Cornes (12 votes)
HF: S. Johnson (10 votes), J. Brown (17 votes), B. Harvey (22 votes)
F: B Johnson (14 votes), Pavlich (15 votes), Mooney (1 votes)

R: Cox (3 votes), Kerr (22 votes), Ablett (20 votes)

Bench: Corey (12 votes), Fletcher (2 votes), Lade (8 votes), Ling (1 vote)

High pollers who missed AA – Dane Swan 20 votes, Simon Black 22 votes, Sam Mitchell 21 votes, Adam Goodes 20 votes

McLeod is pretty much a midfielder anyway; apart from him the backline (including Fletcher on the bench) hardly troubled the scorers. Same for Big Cox in the ruck.

As per my All Australian post last week, my biggest gripe was with Mooney and S Johnson getting into the side. How good does Mooney’s 1 vote look against the other AA forwards, and against other mobile big men who missed out Goodes 20 votes, Reiwoldt 14 votes, and Lucas 11 votes?

I gave Mooney my sharpest scrutiny last week (usually reserved for following David Hille around and pointing out his general crappiness), and I just can’t see how anyone rates him. Apart from a small golden patch, Johnson wasn’t much better.

Anyway, good luck to the Cats this week – I would hate to have to watch Tredrea and the Cornes boys spanking on after the match.

* Not the Ben Doolan but named in his honour.


Movie Review – Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten

22 September, 2007

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I have to confess I was eagerly awaiting the release of this bio on The Clash frontman Joe Strummer. Even though ‘London Calling’ is one of my top five ‘Desert Island Discs’, I knew surprisingly little about the life and times of the enigmatic Strummer.

I wasn’t disappointed – in a word, the film is brilliant.

Director Julien Temple has made skilful use of a variety of material, including archival cradle-to-grave footage, photographs, movie excerpts, and reflective interviews with the key players in Strummer’s life, to create a fascinating and compelling film.

The early scenes cover Strummer’s childhood and private school upbringing – quite ironic given the man’s future penchant for rocking the establishment (not to mention The Kasbah) – before moving on to his days as an art school dropout and layabout London squatter. The squat sequences are quite powerful, as is the footage depicting the growing social agitation in London immediately prior to the emergence of the punk movement.

The energy levels pick up with Strummer’s transformation to musician, first with squat band The 101s, and then more famously with punk legends, The Clash. Some of the featured early Clash tunes are excruciating, however as the film progresses, the music improves noticeably. As well as covering many Clash classics, the soundtrack features some of Strummer’s favourite musical influences, along with commentaries on these taken from his popular BBC World Service program, London Calling.

Temple captures perfectly the frenetic energy that accompanied the punk movement, showcasing some amazing crowd scenes in dingy London nightclubs. These are in stark contrast to shots of the band several years later playing packed out stadium shows in America, separated from the crowd by large barriers and acting like the prima donna rock stars they once scorned.

The sudden and inevitable demise of the band follows soon after, with the last portion of the movie tracing Strummer’s subsequent battles with depression, and his mildly successful attempts to reinvent himself, including one incredible foray into the world of techno.

Temple’s portrayal of Strummer is reverential but objective; he is shown to be not only a flawed genius, brilliant lyricist, outspoken social critic and loving father, but also self-serving, ruthless, and not particularly loyal to friends or band members. Still Strummer comes across as a likeable and personable person, particularly in his later life.

The reflective interviews with Strummer’s family and friends, conducted at urban bonfires around the world, were particularly enjoyable and insightful, however it was not always apparent who the speakers were or what part they played in Strummer’s life. Some subtle captions would have been useful in putting their recollections into context.

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten is a must-see movie for fans of The Clash, and well worth the admission price for non-fans as well.

Rating: 4 stars


Who said guys can’t multi-skill?

20 September, 2007

At 6.30 this morning I saw a guy power-walking along Quinn Grove while eating from a bowl of cereal.

I couldn’t tell whether he was also attending to his morning ablutions at the same time…


Movie Review – Cinderella Man

19 September, 2007

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Cinderella Man is an inspirational film based on the life of 1930s heavyweight boxing champion Jim Braddock.

A title contender in pre-depression America, Braddock’s career slowly fades away due to injury and a run of bad luck. Eventually his boxing license is revoked after a broken hand causes him to put in a particularly poor contest.

The depression has long since eaten up the Braddock family’s life savings, and Jim is forced to line up daily on the wharves in the off-chance some casual work will be available. After a few hard years living on the poverty line, Braddock is thrown a lifeline, and is offered a chance to fight at Madison Square Garden as a last-minute fill in.

Proving that real life is much stranger than anything Hollywood can offer, Braddock beats the odds to win bouts against several highly-ranked fighters, earning a shot at the Heavyweight title against feared champion Max Baer.

Russell Crowe is convincing as Jim Braddock, relishing the physicality of the role and the chance to play a conventional though understated hero. Paul Giamatti is well cast as Braddock’s manager Joe Gould, a brash New Yorker with a big mouth and a genuine concern for his fighter, and Craig Bierko is great as champion Max Baer, a flashy combination of Ali, Apollo Creed and Hulk Hogan. Initially I thought the vain, trash talking Baer was a bit over-the-top for the period, but a viewing of some original fight footage on the DVD shows that Baer would have been right at home in today’s WWF.

Director Ron Howard focuses much of the action on Braddock’s family life, and in many ways the film plays more like a love story than a sports movie. Renee Zellweger plays Braddock’s wife, Mae adequately but personally I found her and fake Noo Joy-sey accent pretty annoying.

The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed and realistic, and if you are not a scholar of boxing history, the climactic title fight will have you on the edge of your seat, wondering if Jim can achieve his goal.

My rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


AFL All Australian Team Awards

18 September, 2007

All Australian Team 2007

I was fortunate enough to snaffle an invitation to the AFL All Australian Team awards night last night. Sort of like the Brownlow Medal night without the glamour and glitz. (Apart from Ling and Whitnall, both looking like Men’s Health cover models as usual)
The highlight of the night for me was shaking Jonathon Brown’s hand:

“Good Luck, Jono”

“Thanks Mate”

I also had a quick chat with my former under 9s team mate, and likely 2007 premiership coach Bomber Thompson. I was busting to ask him whether the rumours about him coming back to Bomberland next year are true, but something told me he wouldn’t tell me even if they were. Plus I was worried he might have said to himself earlier in the night “If one more bloke asks me what I’m doing next year, I’ll smash him!” The other thing I didn’t ask Bomber about was the time he hit me in the head with a bouncer in under 14s cricket. I still have the lump. (Next to the one Dave Cate gave me many years later.)

I wasn’t that impressed with the All Australian team, mainly the fact that Geelong had 9 of the 22 players in the side. The Bombers lost one game in 2001 and only had four AAs that year. Go figure. Maybe Billy Brownless picked the side. Fair dinkum, only a Geelong supporter could have Mooney in the team in front of Buddy Franklin, Reiwoldt or Richo. And Steve Johnson? Missed 6 games, goes missing for quarters at a time. Give me a break. Still, the pressure will be on the Cats now, imagine having almost half of the best players in the league and not winning the flag. Especially if Collingwood (0 AAs) beat them this Friday. Now that would make me laugh.

Some more observations:

  • Big Cox is definitely a big unit
  • Whitnall is even frecklier in real life than on TV
  • The bright TV lights bounced off Ling’s red face and lit him up like a beetroot. He looked like one of the leads from Beauty and the Beast. You guess which one.
  • I am a coward. I finally had my chance to give Chad Cornes a spray at close quarters but he was bigger than I thought, so I walked on by. Very similar to the famous Tony Modra walk-on-by incident of 1993.
  • Ditto Campbell Brown, except he is a short-arse and I have no excuse for my silence, apart from the fact that Mad Mal Brown is his dad.
  • Clinton Grybas has a massive bald spot and is definitely working on a subtle comb-over.
  • By the end of the night, I’d had enough of the crap selections. Here is a video of me showing my displeasure at the team

Enjoy.