June 14, 2010 at 1:08 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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The ski movie; not a remake of the soap opera!!

I went to see Warren Miller’s latest film – Friday night, 11 June – and the skiing and boarding was so good and extreme that I found it hard to relate what I do and what I was seeing! I so wish I could ski a quarter as good as these guys.

The theme of the film was very loosely based around family – generations of skiers and borders. This was the 60th Warren Millar film, and kind of appropriate to look at snow sport as a way of life that binds generations together. It gave the film editors the opportunity to fit in some old footage. There is no plot – but who cares: part travelogue and part documentary.

The laid-back narration by Jonny Mosley’s gave the film a relaxed can do attitude – first descents are the norm!

My best segment was the part when the guys visit the Altai mountains and spend time with a community that has kept alive the oldest form of skiing on the planet. The ‘Altaians’ go faster than our intrepid visitors – “turning just slows you down”, “too many burgers have made them girly-men”. The locals using wooden skis lined with horse hair to ‘skin’ up hill faster than our guys and bomb down faster, all without any goggles. Oh, just one ski pole – more like a quarter staff – used to pole along or as a rudder and brake when going down hill. Hard men indeed. The altar mountains breed a hardy people – lets not forget that they took part in the most feared road trip in history: the Mogol tour of Europe!

In a film crammed with amazing feats, I have to mention the helicopter pilots. Heli-skiing pilots must be a breed apart. They never really land on the top of the peak, or ridge line. Often there is not enough room to put down a helicopter; instead, they fly with the passenger side landing skid just touching the slope.

Go see the film if you can; otherwise just get on the snow and ski/board (safely) !


The Blind Side

June 14, 2010 at 1:04 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I went to see this movie the other day – 12 June 2010 – and was quite moved.

The Blind Side is about the way Michael Oher‘s life change when he was taken in by a wealthy family.

‘Taken in’ and ‘changed’ does not do justice to the way the Tuohy family involved themselves with Michael’s life; or the way it changed theirs.

Michael has huge list of disadvantages as a child, and it is a credit to him and the Tuohys that he overcame them. Michael is a young man with great dignity.

It is not a sports movie per se; but, if you like sport, it has American Football action. If you like a sentimental movie, then there is something for you. If you like a feel-good movie, then there is something for you.

Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about American Fooball – the film explains everything you need to know. The only thing they don’t explain is the America Grade Point Average system! Michael needs an average of 80% or more in his final year to get to a Division 1 university.

The core of the Tuohy family – Leigh Anne Tuohy – is played by Sandra Bullock; who won an Oscar for her performance. Michael is played by Quinton Aaron.

Worth seeing at the movie theatre for the big screen sports action.

Worth seeing – I enjoyed it.

Carmen – The ballet

June 10, 2010 at 1:37 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review | 1 Comment
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I went to the opening night of the Royal New Zealand Ballet‘s 2010 production of Carmen, at the St James Theatre in Wellington.Warning: plot revealed.

I grew up listening to Carmen; its seemed like whenever dad had a moment he would put on a vinyl record of Bizet‘s opera. Being in a foreign language, it was years later that I found out what all of the drama and emotion was about. I watched: Carmen Jones many years ago; a DVD with Julia Migenes and Plácido Domingo singing the lead roles some years ago; and Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man a few years ago. So I was curious to see how it would all turn out.

Setting: definitely not Spain! a little bit of Havana and sports-bar blended together.

Main roles: Carmen – Abigail Boyle; Jose – Christopher Hinton-Lewis; Michaela – Katie Hurst-Saxton; and Escamillo – Jaered Glavin. Abigail Boyle was wonderful as Carmen: dangerously attractive, confident, strong, and very much her own women. Katie Hurst-Saxton in a very unflattering frock and hair-do, was every inch the homely jilted fiance.

The Ballet was in three short Acts. The First Act was a little slow, but sets the foundation for the other two Acts: Michaela, Jose (a factory guard), and Carmen (a worker in the factory) are introduced. Michaela’s devotion to Jose is obvious; equally, Jose’s is not so clear.

In the Second Act, Jose’s ordered world is turned upside down. He is led by Carmen off the straight an narrow path that he seemed destined for – corporal of the guard, destined for higher things; marriage and children. Jose has a wonderful sequence with Carmen in the bar where she gradually creates a connection with him, that sees him forsake his duty in favour of spending time with Carmen. The Second Act ends with a great love scene between Jose and Carmen, when he is hiding in the latter’s digs – having accidentally killed the Chief of Police (Paul Mathews).

In the Third Act, Jose’s world falls apart completely: he burns his bridges with the unfortunate Michaela, and finds that he has lost Carmen to Escamillo – a rock star! The end is very tradgic – as always; maybe a modern feminist ending would see a slightly different result.

The re-mix of Escamillo (looking like Billy Idol) as a rock star (a modern day toreador) is an inspired adaption by Didy Veldman. All of the traditional toredor scenes are set to an electric rock rendition of the traditional music. Jaered Glavin’s hip swinging portrayl drew many warm responses from the crowd.

All-in-all quite good: really enjoyed the second and third acts.

I went on opening night and found that Pieter Symonds was not dancing; so that was a little disappointing. What was also disappointing were the seats: the sets have a definite house-right bias, and I ended up in seats that favoured a house-left bias. Consequently, I missed some of Carmen’s entrances in the First Act, and the (clever) video clip at the beginning of the Second Act – showing Carmen’s flight and subsequent re-capture.

Oh yes; or rather no; no pointe work, and no singing or vocals.

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