Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

September 29, 2010 at 8:39 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I never saw the prequel, but I though it might be interesting.

It certainly explains the causes of and the current global financial recession very well, and for this alone, it is worth seeing the film.

Gordon Gecko, played by Michael Douglas, is the inside trader from yesteryear, released from federal prison, in upstate New York. You are never sure if he is reformed or just trying to get back into the game. We find out at the end.

There is host of shady dealers and bankers.

Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan play the main characters. They are engaged; Winnie (Mulligan) is Gecko’s estranged daughter; and Jake (Labeouf) is her fiance. Jake is an investment banker. Winnie runs a not-for-profit news web site, and has a million dollar trust fund that her dad wants (back).

The move takes place at the tail end of the recession. Jake’s bank collapses, and as he tries to stay afloat and strike back at the bank that took down his, we see him discover his powers and the way the world really is. Winnie leave him.

In some respects this is a master-and-the-apprentice movie. Though at times it is not clear who is the master: Gordon or clearly sleazy Bretton James (played by Josh Brolin).

The end is a little unsatisfactory – Gecko reforms, and he gets back with Winnie, and she gets back with Jake.

The Expendables

September 29, 2010 at 8:11 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw the trailer I decided that this was a ‘must see’.

The ‘Expendables’ are a small team of mercenaries played by a dream team of action actors: Slyvester Stalone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger! In the end it was hard to give each ‘star’ enough time in only 113 minutes !!!!

Giselle ItiĆ© provides a hint of romance, plays the good icon. She offers up some good contrast to Eric Roberts – who plays the bad icon, and to David Zayas – who plays the paper-tiger icon.

The film is a series of very well choreographed fight scenes. These are interspersed with some character scenes where the guys show off their tender sides – Lundgren like you have never seen him! The best is the brief by-play between Stalone and Schwarzenegger.

In the end good triumphs over evil, or in this case the CIA – or is it a rogue CIA element.

I expected a little too much – the Seven Samuri are hard act to follow. But it is very watchable, particularly if you like any of the dream team. Warning: Willis and Schwarzenegger don’t have much air face time.

The Secret Lives of Dancers #4

September 29, 2010 at 12:26 am | Posted in TV Review | 1 Comment
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The Company travel to Dunedin – the opening city of their Triple Bill tour.

As usual it was mainly a human interest story – who is broken up with whom, more of the threads started in episode 3. Great stuff if you are interested.

I found the way the management staff of the Company deal with injuries much more interesting.

There is a reason why there are two – maybe three casts for any piece. That way, if someone in the first cast gets injured, someone can step in – very sensible succession planning. Abigail Boyle sprained her ankle in episode #2 and it is still healing. Yet, against the advise of the Company’s physio and doctor, she will perform. The only mitigation is that she will dance in one piece of the Triple Bill -not all three!

In the rehersals at the Regent Theatre, in Dunedin, the same male principle dancer is involved in two separate ballerinas getting head and other injuries. Though there was first aid, there did not seem to be any medical follow-up to check for concussion. Nor was there an investigation to see if the incidents were preventable in future. It seems to be the accepted that people occassionally get dropped or kneed in the head!

The show this week, centred around: Abigail Boyle, Jaered Glavin, Katie Hurst-Saxton and to a lessor extent Lucy Green.

WOW 2010

September 26, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Posted in Show Review | 1 Comment
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I went to the dress rehearsal of this year’s World Of Wearableart (WOW) Award Show, the other night and was blown away.

One long word sums up the show – ‘fantastic’; ‘wow’ is already used. Great music and dancing, and great pieces of wearable art.

This year the show was open by Te Radar; he warmed up the audience.

This year children’s section was very well integrated – good fit between the garments and its theme of books. A big fold out castle, inside a book, descends from the ceiling. There is a fun little dance by paper cut-out dolls at the end. A past winner – a pile of books – provided some continuity.

The UV – officially known as the Illuminated – section really carried me away. This year there were a number of colourful yet sublte garments – flock of leaves and kites.

The circus segment worked really well. There are miniature elephants – who do tricks!

Loved the ‘tron’ light suits.

Bizzare Bra worked really well with the tropical/Latin theme.

If you can get a ticket go to this.

The Secret Lives of Dancers #3

September 15, 2010 at 1:41 am | Posted in TV Review | 1 Comment
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Having watched episodes 1 and 2, made sure to be home to watch episode 3.

We are now into the second week of the 2010 Company year. We get: more gossip; Gary Harris giving sound bites – “thats the cast … get over it and get on with it!”; tears and joy with the cast lists; and dancers getting injured (Abigail Boyle and Pierre Doncq).

It is looking more and more like a reality TV show.

On the plus side, at least four of the dancers live in nice apartments – not the slightly grotty garrets sterotypes of old.

And it is not just about dancing – there are photo shoots for women’s magazines. Jaered Glavin is particularly pleased with his pictures! I wonder if the dancers get paid extra, or does their contract with the RNZB cover it?

Grand Torino

September 13, 2010 at 6:40 am | Posted in DVD Review | Leave a comment
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Having seen Harry Brown, which is sometime pitched as a ‘UK Grand Torino’, I got hold of Gran Torino on DVD.

A surprising watchable, subtle movie. Clint Eastwood has spent lifetime perfecting the tough-been-to-hell-and-back character; and he doesn’t disappoint. What is different is that when he was younger, he took you to hell too. In this role he doesn’t. Eastwood’s character – Walt Kowalski – despite being in his 70’s is still capable of a fierce turn; he is older, wiser, and still able to get the better a ‘young punks’. But Walt doesn’t dominate the film through a series of shootouts and fight scenes – Walt’s too old for that. It would not be believable.

Instead, we see Walt grow closer towards the Hmong refugees that live on his street. In the words of his old neighbour, He is “the last American” on the street. What neither realises – till perhaps the end – is that both of them live in a country that does not exist anymore. Walt’s America – where men were men of their word, and foreigners were non-white, where a man’s quiet actions spoke for him, where American industry was the best – probably never existed and certainly cease to exist after the Vietnam War. The Hmong refugees as also cast adrift – their country and way of life is gone forever, cast down by choosing the wrong ally in the wrong war.

At first Walt can’t stand his neighbour’s son, who he calls Toad – Thao – played by Bee Vang. First in a derogatory way, then as a label of affection. Thao is in danger of being swept up into the Hmong street gang that dominates the neighbourhood – maybe to keep out the other ethnically based gangs.

It is through Thao’s sister – Sue, played by Ahney Her – that Walt gets to know his neighbours – that and great Hmong cooking. Sue stands up to Walt, but still treats him with respect.

Eventually Walt takes Thoa under his wing and tries to teach him to be a man American style. Walt buys Thao his first tool belt so that he can get a job on a construction site – Walt vouches for him to the supervisor.

The final 20 minutes is of a brave man making peace with himself before going off to solve an intractible problem. It breaks Eastwood’s tradition method for solving problems – because it would ruin the movie. Eastwood instead chooses a different option.

If you saw Harry Brown you should see this film.

The Secret Lives of Dancers #1 & #2

September 10, 2010 at 1:49 am | Posted in TV Review | 1 Comment
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Having watched episode one of this last week, I managed to catch episode two this week. The half-hour-long episodes take you for behind the scenes look at the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Episode one was centred on the annual open auditions, and Gary Harris -the Artistic Director, who has the final say on who is in, and who is out. There are the usual interviews with the candidates before and after the day-long audition. The format is pretty standard for a behind the scene look at any enterprise that holds selections for a limited number of places – the candidates could have been models or circus artists or rugby players.

What I really wanted to know was how the candidates heard about the audition.

It is a bit brutal; as they say: Many are called, but few a chosen. Gary is quite blunt with his on air assessments of dancers – I hope the candidates signed waivers! This year ‘The Company’ accepts two: Lucy Green and Yang Liu. Lucy is from Australia and Yang is from China. It is pretty obvious that these two will be selected: Lucy is shown doing some killer fouetttes and Yang is shown doing some lovely leaps, while Gary can be heard say “what lovely lines”. Also, we are told that, Yang was hand picked by the chinese ballet system at an early age, trained at the Beijing ballet, and danced is a member of the National Ballet of China. I also could not resist looking up the company in the Carmen programme on my shelf!

Episode two is centred on the first day back from holidays – established Company members return and the new members turn up with some trepidation.

Greg Horsman, the ballet master, takes class and, he claims, works them real hard. Which I found a concern, if it was true. He and company management expect the dancers to be ready to work; yet they know that the members of the company have been resting and that the only way to be ready to train at the level he claims to be putting them through is if they did not have a rest (for their bodies to recover from last year), but found somewhere to train (hard) in the off-season! Professional sports teams would not do this – maybe professional sportman are harder to come by than professional ballet dancers!

Then it was some interviews with members of the company – Abigail Boyle and Lucy Balfour seem to get the most air time. There is some nice gossip.

We also reconnect with Lucy Green and Yang Liu; both of whom have relocated to Wellington. For Lucy it is her first time away from home (Melbourne). Yang, has come accompanied by her fiance – good man!

There is lots of human interest – direct interviews, gossip and filming of people walking around.

Salt

September 6, 2010 at 8:18 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I went to see Salt the other day.

There was an efficient introduction of the main characters, and then into it: someone is ‘outted’, a series of amazing chase and action scenes. Angelina Jolie plays a hard women – physically gifted, intelligent and mentally tough – oh so tough. Jolie’s character survives Korean prisons, living undercover, betrayal, and lots of physical punishment. There is the usual surprise finish.

Liev Schreiber fills out the cast – it all revolves around the two of them.

If you have never seen a women jump onto a moving truck; there is one chase you have to see. Oh, there is a very high body count.

A must see for Angelina fans.

The Expendables

September 6, 2010 at 8:05 am | Posted in Film Trailer Review | 1 Comment
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This is a film that I have to see – in the same way that I ‘have to’ see James Bond films, Star Trek films, and Seven Samuri Films.

It has: Slyvester Stalone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger! Like the dream team !! The contract negotiations must be worthy of an academy award !!! All those stars and only 113 minutes !!!!

It looks like a Seven Samuri / Guns of the Magnificant 7 re-work – there is even a guy who throws knives (Jet Li ?). A bunch of mercenaries who apparently agree to fight for free – for a good cause, and because the head guys asks.

A ‘must see’.

Inception

September 6, 2010 at 1:23 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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Spoiler: Plot details revealed !

I went to see Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the other day – I had a spare two hours.

The film is well made, with a complex plot. DiCaprio’s character litterally gets into people’s minds to steal secrets – as they dream. In the film, DiCaprio is hired to plant an idea – something that is suppose to be impossible. To do this DiCaprio and his team of dreamers will have to go deep into the target’s – Joseph Gordon-Levitt – mind.

The film is set in the target’s mind, inside a dream, inside a dream, inside a dream, … . It is all very complex. An additional complication is that the dreamers need to have physical control of the target’s body, to hook up instruments and inject a series of drugs.

Unfortunately, the end is telegraphed to the audience well before the end – does DiCaprio really get out of the target’s mind? or his own for that matter.

Oh the special effects – computer graphics – are very good.

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