The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

December 31, 2011 at 3:59 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I went to see Tintin the other day. The Tintin graphic novels were one of the first comics I read, and I was curious to see how Tintin would translate to the big screen. Given the choice, I saw the 2D version; because to me comics/cartoons are a 2D thing.

The film is probably one massive piece of computer generated imagery – either from scratch, or a partial ‘degrading’ of real world imagery. In some sequences, the actors arms and bodies can be seen.

I found the nearly-real – ‘degraded’ – visual affect irritating. I prefer real world imagery (even if it is all computer generated) or a pure cartoon style.

The two characters I liked the most were: Snowy (Tintin’s dog) and Sakharine (the baddy). Snowy is the most intelligent and sensible character – but no one listens to him because he is a dog and chases cats. Sakharine steals the show from Tintin and Captain Haddock, through having a richer story and better lines – or maybe due to Daniel Craig’s voice performance.

Not surprisingly the film had a Indiana Jones feel to it – Steven Spielberg was the director. The film reserves the slapstick humor from the books – but in a way that I found corny.

The film clearly combines elements from: The Secret of the the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. Curiously Bianca Castafiore, who does not appear in either book, appears in the film as a plot device to shatter bullet proof glass.

The pirate fighting scenes are the best.


The YES Men (2003)

December 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Posted in DVD Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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I never did understand friends’ thumbnail accounts of what a couple of anti-global trade activists were up to; it was always “they turn up and pretend to speak on behalf of the establishment and get thrown out.”

But I finally got to see the documentary/film The Yes Men on DVD the other night.

It’s all about Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum campaign against the against the WTO (World Trade Organisation). Rather than taking to the streets or blogging, they speak on behave of the WTO ! As the documentary explains, Mike-and-Andy were give control of the domain, which they turned into a parody of the WTO site. As they say: “On the Internet no one can tell if you are a dog”, and organisations/conferences started to invite representatives from (thinking they were inviting an arm of the WTO) to speak.

The documentary/film follows Mike-and-Andy as they impersonate trade experts/strategists from the WTO at a number of conferences. We see Mike-and-Andy’s increasingly unsubtle send up of WTO policy – culminating in a ridiculous gold unitard.

The documentary is definitely sympathetic with Mike-and-Andy’s position. But regardless of your position, the documentary and Mike-and-Andy what do is pretty funny. Mike-and-Andy take stand-up satirical comedy to another level – without the laughter (track). Most of the venues where the guys speak are populated by analysts/accountants/academics/diplomats for whom english is a second-language – so something might be lost in translation. The latter might also explain why the audience never reacts to the ridiculous propositions Mike-and-Andy espouse.

If you like political satire this DVD is for you.

Jig (2011)

December 5, 2011 at 9:35 am | Posted in Dance Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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I missed this at the International Film Festival, and so was keen to catch it when it came on regular release at the Paramount theatre.

Jig, as its name suggests, is about Irish Dancing. It follows a number of contestants as they prepare for the 2010 world championships in 2010. Sue Bourne has done a good job of showing the human side of and the hard work put by dancers. The support and sacrifice of the dancers’ families is also revealed : the mother who works extra to support his son; the mother who has mortgaged her house twice to finance one more year; and the family who moved from California to study with one of best instructors in the world.

The dresses the girls wear are so expensive that one mother went into business making them to cut down on costs.

Joe Bitter’s family moved from sunny California to Birmingham, so Joe could take classes with John Carey – eight times world champion.

Also at John’s school is 10 year old John Whitehurst – who comes from a family of soccer playing boys. It is his mum who works extra hours to pay for the lessons and competitions. It is his dad who sums up the quirky image of Irish Dancing: “it was like a Shirley Temple convention” of their first competition.

Irish dancing is shown as a global activity: New York, Birmingham, Derry, London, Moscow, and Rotterdam. There is the team of dancers with high hopes from Moscow; and the trans-atlantic (friendly) rivalry between two 10 year old girls: Brogan McCay and Julia O’Rourke.

The dancing itself is superb. This style of dance does not use the hands, so many of the bio-mechanical techniques available in other dance styles is not available; dancers must somehow maintain control during turns and jumps with only their legs. This combined with a very turned out foot position and fast percussive moves must be very stressful physically.

Good little documentary. The story is told through the dancers’ perspective – speaking frankly and with a quiet charm.


December 2, 2011 at 8:20 am | Posted in Musical Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the Whitireia’s production of the Tony Award winning musical Nine, the other night. The show is an opportunity to show case the it’s graduating musical theatre and commercial dance students. The show had excellent production values and clever use of lighting, back production, and props.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

I was surprised at how sophisticated it was; for some reason I expecting something a bit lighter and humorous. Instead, it was dramatic: as it explored the facets of the main character – Guido Contini. Nine is a semi-biographical portrayal Federico Fellini’s – the famous Italian film director – life. At times it was almost operatic.

The whole show revolves around the Guido character and Nick Purdie carried the show well – displaying on stage maturity that belied his relatively young age. Guido is under a lot of pressure, as his personal life falls apart, and his reputation is assaulted by a series of ‘flops’. He takes refuge at a seaside spa to get away from it all, but on ends up running head on into his problems: his mistress Carla ends up leaving him; his decease mother (played by Caitlin Barrie comes to him in visions; he needs a film plot; and his muse deserts him too.

The seductive ‘telephone’ scene featuring Carla was ably handled by Bridget Connor as she sang and draped herself over the stage and Guido. The emotional duet between Guido and Claudia (played by Bethany Gould) was wonderful – there was a real sense of connection between the “director” and his favourite actress (and muse). In the end only his wife (played by Emma Walker) comes back to him.

In between all the singing are – true to the show’s Broadway roots – dance sequences. At times there was a Bollywood feel to it.

At the end of the show, I felt a bit exhausted from Guido’s emotional journey through his life and the encounters with his women. But Whitireia was ready with a happy fix. The night ended with a little upbeat dance piece Be Italian!. The transition into the dance was a bit of uneven and I think the transition could be smoothed by changing the choreography slightly and introducing the dance piece as one of Guido’s films.

Well done everyone.

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