Tarpins scratched

15 March, 2008

Unfortunately Tarpins was scratched yesterday morning and didn’t get to run at Moonee Valley last night.

Wakes and I were pretty disappointed: not only were we looking forward to seeing him run again, but were very excited about the chance to meet with Damien Oliver prior to the race. I had planned to take some ‘Ollie and us’ and ‘Ollie and Tarpins’ shots and get Damien to sign them for our Tarpins Wall of Glory – but it wasn’t to be.

Ollie hid his disappointment well by picking up another (last-minute) ride in our race – the other jockey unfortunately fell in the race before ours – and booting home the winner. The race was run perfectly to suit Tarpins’ preferred racing pattern, almost identical to how his two victories were run, so we were even more disappointed not to have him out there.

As they say in racing circles, ‘that’s racing’.

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Movie Review – Juno

1 February, 2008

juno4.jpg

Juno is a brilliantly made and highly entertaining film, and thoroughly deserves its 4 Oscar nominations.

Ellen Page is terrific as Juno McDuff, a fiesty 16 year-old who falls pregnant to the dorky Bleeker (Michael Cera). She decides to have the baby and put it up for adoption rather than take the seemingly easier abortion route taken by some of her high school peers.

Juno’s parents (played by JK Simmons and Allison Janney) are wonderfully idiosyncratic, and resignedly support Juno through her decision and subsequent search for a pair of appropriate adoptive parents for her child.

Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman play the adoptive parents-to-be, Vanessa and Mark, with warmth and sensitivity; Garner in particular is a revalation and her scene with Juno in a shopping mall is pure cinema magic. Go on, I dare you not to cry.

The script is quirky; at times humourous and at times touchingly sad.

Juno is a feel-good movie even though the underlying themes of teenage pregnancy and adult infertility are anything but the usual feel-good material. Some people will no doubt be critical of the shallow treatment given to the pro’s and con’s of Juno’s decision and the absence of any subsequent soul-searching on her behalf. Similarly, the lack of parental input into Juno’s life-defining decision is a little hard to swallow.

But there are plenty of movies out there exploring those type of themes in depth. Juno is what it is, and it does what it does brilliantly. And if the crowds of teenagers rustling their lolly wrappers in my ear throughout the movie are any indication, its target market thinks so too.

Bravo.


Movie Review: The Number 23

30 December, 2007

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Jim Carrey stars in this fairly ordinary psychological thriller, based on a real life conspiracy-theory school of thought that attributes a mystical power to the number 23.

Walter Sparrow (Carrey) is a run-of-the-mill dog catcher who slowly comes to believe that a novel he is reading was written about him. The main character in the novel, Fingerling, is obsessed with the number 23, and this obsession is picked up by Sparrow, who begins to see evidence of the number everywhere.

Not that it’s hard to do when you try: a street address of 599 translates to 5 + 9 + 9 = 23; the colour pink is made up of red and white, whose numerical descriptors add up to 92, which divided by 4 = 23; ohmygod, my own initials are BC, that’s 2 + 3 = 23 and I was born on the second of December, that’s 2 + 1 + 2 = 2 + 3 = 23. And when we added the five digits on the cat’s registration collar, what do you think they added to? That’s right, 23.

Director Joel Schumacher (Phone Booth, 8MM, Batman Forever) has a lot of fun adding in plenty of superfluous 23 sightings into the action; in fact I found ‘spotting the 23s’ the most engaging part of the film. Guess how many chapters on the DVD?

The action switches between the real life world of Walter Sparrow and his caring wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen), and the imaginary world of Sparrow’s novel-based alter ego, Fingerling. The film-makers incorporate some dark Sin City-style imagery into this fantasy world, and in a nice touch which exacerbates the sense of Sparrow’s obsession, Carrey and Madsen also play the highly stylised lead roles in Fingerling-world.

The premise of an enigmatic, magical number had some promise, but generally the plot was far-fetched and unconvincing. The actors do their part competently, the production team does theirs, but at the end of the day, if it looks like a dog and smells like a dog, in all probability it is a dog.

Famous Number 23s: Michael Jordan, David Beckham, Shane Warne, Mark Bolton…spooky.

2.3 stars


Movie Review – The Jammed

19 August, 2007

Jammed

The Jammed is an independent Australian film which deals with the confronting subject of the sex slave trade in Australia. Writer/director Dee McLachlan has based the screenplay on real life cases and court transcripts, adding an extra dimension of realism to the film.

Ashley (Veronica Sywak) is a young Melbournian office-worker who becomes inadvertently involved with a Chinese woman, Sunee (Amanda Ma) and her search for her missing daughter Rubi (Sun Park).

Rubi has been brought illegally to Australia by human traffickers, who force her into a life of prostitution and virtual slavery. The film follows the lives of Rubi and fellow sex workers Crystal (Emma Lung) and Vanya (Saskia Bermeister), as they are physically and mentally abused by sleazy illegal brothel owner Vic Glassman (Andrew S Gilbert) and his gang of henchman.

The plot moves along briskly but without any major twists or surprises, and the performances of the cast, particularly Sywak and Lung, are strong and believable. Generally the writing is strong – McLachlan says the script was virtually unchanged from her first draft – though I found some of the scenes in the immigration holding centre a little contrived and unbelievable.

The film was shot on location in Melbourne, and I enjoyed seeing familiar sights and streetscapes woven into the plot. Much of the action takes place in moving cars, which I found a bit grating after a while. The choice of locations is superb, conveying a dark and street-wise view of inner-suburban Melbourne, and adding to the gritty atmosphere of the film.

Incredibly McLachlan was unable to secure any funding for the movie, and could not even find a distributor, instead having to pay marketing costs and share profits in exchange for a limited two-week season at Cinema Nova. Critical reviews to date have been strong, and the session I attended was virtually fully sold out, which hopefully will translate into a wider release for the film.


Col Simpson

11 August, 2007


Col Simpson

A star from the episode where the Simpsons visit the Mardi Gras in Sydney . . .


Comedy toll continues to mount

30 May, 2007

Caddyshack My Top 5 Comedy Movie lines post has now grown to over forty entries.

Call in and take a look at the latest additions if you get a chance.

Imdb is a great resource to get the exact wording of any quotes you haven’t quite remembered verbatim.


Drinking Adventures in Japan

22 May, 2007

I found the Gaijin Tonic – Drinking Adventures in Japan blog yesterday, which I enjoyed immensely.

Check out these two great articles:

Why not to ask your friend to phone in sick for you

Bizarre bar names

I must say I also enjoyed these t-shirts!