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Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part I

November 21, 2011 2 comments

There’s only one way to watch this latest Twilight movie, and that’s with Twilight fans. In my case, I went with my usual gang of Twi-mums. It’s like watching a film with surround sound and 3-D, as opposed to watching it at home with your cat. Okay, your cat wouldn’t sit through it, because that’s what  friends are for.

I should probably admit a few things up front:

1. I hate vampire stories. Friends take me to horror movies and vampire movies to laugh at my reactions.

2. Chief Twi-mum has insisted that my review be a positive one, or else.

3. Twi-mums are scarier than vampires.

If you really need to know what happened in this film, Bella finally marries Edward, goes on a honeymoon and has a baby, in that order. Watch the film to appreciate the prettiness of the wedding, especially the dress. If you don’t like fashion, you might fall into a coma in the first half of the film. Or, the second half, when they go on their honeymoon and Bella tries to decide whether she should or shouldn’t.

Bella showed a little more humanness in this film (ironically, given how it ends) but was still high on the annoying scale. Why? WELL… Far from being a good role model for young women (which is what the religious author Stephenie Meyer would’ve hoped for), she keeps modelling what not to do. Ignore the warning bells in your head, saying RUN FOR THE HILLS or MAYBE MY PARENTS WERE RIGHT. Ignore the bruises after your wedding night. HE SAID SORRY. Don’t be upset that the father of your baby calls it A THING, as in “We’ll get that thing out of you”. He’ll come around eventually. YOU GO GIRL. Not so much. It’s all so peculiar in its well-meaningness (as in, don’t do that before marriage and don’t abort under any circumstances, even when it’s a demon-baby that’s killing you) that I’m trying hard to forgive the unsafe and confused message of Love conquers all, because frankly, sometimes, it doesn’t. Spend time with battered women and you’ll come to that conclusion quickly.

The film itself was a lot slower than one would’ve thought. The dialogue was as laboured as expected, but good for emos being cool. Stop here if you don’t want to know the ending.

Sure, it came together (weirdly) in the end, with Jacob the werewolf imprinting himself on the baby with the peculiar superimposed eyes, thus protecting it from a certain death from the werewolf pack. And, after the most horrific C-section birthing scene (not horrific enough, so imagine it with a whole lot of fang-biting), Bella eventually heals all the dreadful birthing/biting wounds (including a broken spine, I believe) and comes back with red eyes. But of course, that’s where the movie ends because we can all wait a year to see what happens next. She might look at Edward. He might look back at her. She’ll be tempted to bite her own baby until she remembers that Edward told her that it loves her.

The birthing scene put me right off my movie-munchies. The Maltesers (thanks Donna) and Twisties came home (and that’s never happened). The only bit of light relief was when the vampire drove his bride away from the wedding reception in a Volvo. Volvo – for safety.

I’ll line up for the next instalment of the franchise because I rather fancy the Cullens’ house. Architecture fetish, as opposed to a fang-fetish.

Besides, love it or hate it, Twilight has changed the world. It’s now okay for women in their 40s to cheer Team Edward or Team Jacob, have a latte and go home to iron uniforms.

The Twi-faithful love this film. To them, it’s about eternal love, male bodies that ripple not wobble, and how being determinedly female can even bring a monster to heel. Or, maybe it’s about having a perfect wedding, being taken to an amazing honeymoon destination and living the happily-ever-after cool life in a modernist masterpiece in the forest.

Bridesmaids: movie review

July 3, 2011 4 comments

Funniest movie of the year?

Bridesmaids was a great movie; unexpectedly so. I was anticipating Hollywood same-same, but what I saw was a more mature (and simultaneously, immature) group of fantastic comedy actors blitz a script and win over a cinema full of women. I counted only seven men in the audience. The humour was face-splittingly good (although, I would issue a warning about course language and crunchy blankets… Don’t take your son with you to see it. Might be awkward.)

So, what do you do when your life is falling apart, romantic relationships seem hopeless and your best friend gets engaged and asks you to be maid of honour? What happens when you’re thrust onto a bridal party of people you don’t know, who seem alarmingly weird (the bride’s future sister-in-law), competitive in a sociopathic way (the bride’s other, newer bestie) and are otherwise wrongly-wired in a more harmless way? Well? Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper made for the funniest bridal party.

I, for one, have been on such a bridal party (although, they weren’t intentionally funny). I’d bonded to the best of my abilities with people I’d never otherwise come across in life, through strip shows and arguments over dresses, heels, hair and makeup. The movie allowed me to laugh about it, in retrospect. Call it therapy. Every girl should go through it. It’s character building.

Annie (Kirsten Wiig), is asked to be Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) maid of honour. Annie is stuck in a sex-with-no-strings-attached relationship and is privately devastated that her best friend is getting married. However, she does her best to be supportive. Unfortunately, everything she does goes horribly, horribly wrong. Some scenes are dry-wretchingly reminiscent of American Pie. Everything the new, other best friend does, trumps poor Annie’s thrifty and well-intentioned attempts.

Being Hollywood, there is a happy ending. Go see it with your best girls.

Categories: Life, Love, Movies, Review, Sex, Uncategorized

Review: “Tron Legacy”, movie

January 8, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s a typical quest story: reluctant hero (Sam) gets a message which sets him off on his journey, where he meets a wise old individual (Kevin) and mythical creature (Quorra) on the way to defeat the bad guy (Clu) and save the world. Somehow, along the way, hero wins and the lost warrior does something to redeem himself.

Disney’s “Tron Legacy” is a hard one to review insofar as I think it’ll be loved by some audiences and hated by others.

Likely Supporters:
Computer geeks (nothing wrong with that, embrace it)
People who loved the original movie back in ’82
Boys aged 8+
Popcorn crowd up to the age of 40.

Likely Naysayers:
Script-writers & novelists (who get pounded by editors to write better characters)
Arts students (who know about “the arc”)
People who like well-developed characters
People who don’t like fast motorbikes.

The movie was a visual feast and the imaged cyber universe, quite impressive, but the dialogue and character development was lame, almost an afterthought. The movie was fantastical in the way that “The Matrix” was, but without the obvious depth. To its credit, however, “Tron Legacy” didn’t take itself as seriously as “The Matrix”.

If you’re a parent, wondering whether it’s okay for your teenagers, well, I’d have to say yes, insofar as it was a clean film: no sex scenes, no horribly smutty stuff (other than female robots in skin-tight plastic suits and stilettos), no frightful messages. It was a boy meets girl cliche in the end, but who cares. Your kids might hassle you for an RSPCA rescue pet as well, because it’s made out to be really, like cool – to impress the chicks, particularly.

Disney overclocked its computers and came up with a movie that will impress the crowds who know what overclocking means, and quite possibly, lots who don’t.

Review: “Tangled”, the movie

January 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Disney’s kids’ flick, “Tangled” came out in Aussie cinemas yesterday.

It’s a gorgeous, hilarious re-imagined, Disney interpretation of the classic fairytale, “Rapunzel”. To its credit, the film isn’t called “Rapunzel” (unlike “Gulliver’s Travels” which were nothing of the sort).

Even Rotten Tomatos loves this movie.

I won’t give away the story, but will say that it’s worth taking the kids to. Everyone gets plenty of laughs and the Disney magic sparkles. The tunes were cute, the morals were intact and the pictures sure were pretty.

And, does it make the parentals hide behind Kleenex? Indeed, it does.

Thumbs up. Go see it.
(And, parents of little girls, be ready for the conversation about how long they’re going to grow their hair….)

LOL: Buffy v Edward Cullen

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

This week, I’m bringing the Friday funny forward a day, because you’ll want to watch this again tomorrow. This has been out for a while – apologies for not posting it sooner.

I’ll spare you the thesis, but the person who remixed this content is not only very, very funny, but also effective in showing up the dreadful messages in the Twilight franchise. Stalking is not cool. Having the personality of asparagus is also not cool. Comparing someone to heroin is … you get the idea. I’m sure Stephanie Meyer didn’t intend to include those messages, but they’re there. They don’t matter to people who are all grown-up and in good relationships, but they do matter a lot to more impressionable minds.

Review: Life As We Know It (Heigl movie)

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Yours Truly was recently treated to a birthday movie by the Ladies.

Admittedly, I enjoyed the movie, but couldn’t remember the name of it when asked. (Sign of age-related memory loss, or a movie in need of a more memorable title – I’m not sure.) All I could remember was that it was a movie with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel and that they were made guardians of their mutual best friends’ baby, Sophie. And Heigl and Duhamel are easy to look at. And the baby was a good actor. Or, was that the other way around? Never mind.

It was a good brain-in-the-bucket, romantic comedy. It pressed all the right buttons, building tension, making the audience laugh and cry, although there were one or two EWWW moments (like when they had sex in the deceaseds’ bed). I would’ve preferred if the script-writers had found another way of bringing the leads together, without killing off the baby’s parents, because it did put strain on the viewers and stretch the credibility of the characters and story, just a tinsy bit.

Holly Berenson (Heigl) and Eric Messer (Duhamel) are introduced to viewers as victims of a set-up date which goes wrong: they are polar opposites and hate each other at first sight. They keep crossing paths, being on their friends’ wedding party, then becoming godparents to Sophie. A car accident kills Sophie’s parents and leaves her in the care of Holly and Eric.

From there, the story follows the structure of a typical romantic comedy plot and follows the trajectory of two single, self-absorbed people who suddenly become parents. There are a lot of poo and spew incidents which give good laughs, especially (methinks) for those of us who’ve experienced something similar.

Poo jokes don’t get old when they make you recall your own special baby poo incidents. One of my own involved Dear Husband offering to be helpful (WARNING WARNING WILL ROBINSON) and taking our first child for a nappy change. For his comfort, he turned the change table around. With nappy off, he gave the gassy one a bit of help, gently pressing knees up towards abdomen, only to spray green poo all over the curtains. So helpful. So, maybe part of the enjoyment of this movie involved reliving one’s own parenting dramas. No Sleeping? Check. No eating? Check. Parents going mental? Check. Cue: empathetic laughing.

In the middle of the movie, I did wonder whether I was having deja vu or another senior’s moment, when I was sure I was back in the Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin movie, “It’s Complicated”. Similarly, it involved the leading lady being wooed in her own patisserie in the middle of the night, letting go and learning to be loved while doing some manic baking. Then, the leading lady has not one eligible man after her, but two. Then they get stoned. Marijuana must be back in vogue.

Were there similarities, or was I 'in the wrong cinema'?

Does it matter that it follows the rom-com formula and that it borrows substantially from “It’s Complicated”? Not really. “Life As We Know It” delivers the happily ever after and that’s what the viewers are expecting.

(With special thanks to: Antonella, Tina, Donna, Jen, Deb, Helen, Leanne, Suzie.)

Categories: Movies, Review, Writing

Reflections on the movie, “Charlie St Cloud”

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Reader Ant has asked me to post my thoughts about the movie, “Charlie St Cloud” (which she liked), but tied my hands somewhat by saying that “you have to be nice (because it’s my birthday).” So here goes.

SPOILER ALERT – don’t read this if you’re yet to see the film & you don’t want to laugh loudly during the sad or romantic bits. You might get elbowed in the ribs & spill your popcorn, which would be a waste.

In short, the main character, Charlie (Efron), is devastated by his younger brother’s untimely demise. Minutes before the car accident, the brothers had made a pact of sorts, to meet every day at sunset and practise catching ball in the woods, so that younger brother, Sam (Tahan) can grow up to play serious baseball. Both die in the accident, but Florio, the paramedic (Liotta) brings Charlie back from a flatline. Charlie indefinitely defers the college sailing scholarship to work at the graveyard so that he can keep his promise to his brother. Years later, Charlie encounters the paramedic, who himself is dying of cancer. The paramedic tells Charlie that he was brought back by God for a reason and that he had to find it – the second chance story. Helpfully, this coincides with a damsel-in-distress story with the introduction of sailor-girl, Tess (Crew), who gets herself lost and near-death at sea.

This movie has some lovely moments and the cinematography is great. In all, I think it’ll appeal to teenagers and those looking for the second chance, live-every-moment moral. Zac Efron fans will be beside themselves when he takes his shirt off.

However, older viewers who might see past this (or not) may well be wondering:
(a) the girl’s deceased father mightn’t like what she’s doing in the cemetery with Charlie;
(b) whether it’s too much like cutting and pasting the kid from “Sixth Sense” and the gooey bits from “Ghost”, rolling it together and smoking it; and
(c) if your subconscious can go off by itself without your knowledge or consent and have intercourse with someone in a cemetery and form “a memory, not a dream” (Charlie), dating just got a whole lot more confusing.

To its credit, the movie raised issues of survivor guilt, grief and moving on in a way that is accessible to all viewers. I wouldn’t recommend the film to anyone who’s lost a loved one recently, or been in a major vehicle accident any time in the last few years, for fear of exacerbating post-traumatic stress disorder. I also wouldn’t recommend it for young teens (or tweens).

Will the film smudge your mascara? Depends. That’s the odd thing about this movie. I went with a large group of mothers – and by rights, we all should’ve been passing the Kleenex, but we weren’t – some were, most weren’t. Even I cry in kids movies (“Up” and “Toy Story 3”, most recently), but I was too busy trying to decide what it was that prevented me from suspending my disbelief in this story.

The relationship between Charlie and Rachel was flat until they rolled around in the cemetery – but wait, they didn’t – so he saved her anyway and they went back to being flat but sailing off into the sunset (promising) all because of a little poem by ee cummings about taking risks. Maybe it was some of the corny lines – like the one which should’ve been the most powerful, when Sam was moving from being in-between to moving on (to Heaven) but asked his still living brother whether he promises that they’ll “be brothers forever – you promise?” (because you broke your last promise about meeting me here at sunset and playing ball since you went out looking for that sailor-girl, so I had to think of a promise you could actually keep….)

But hey, if the film makes people Google ee cummings, take up sailing (safely), move on from grief, have a cleansing cry, then it’s okay by me. It pulls at the heartstrings, for some more than others and in all, will probably be loved by more people than reviewers will give it credit for – so go watch it and decide for yourself.

[And happy birthday, Ant!]

Catch your own TinkerBell – DIY fairy house

August 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Catch your own TinkerBell - DIY fairy house

Being Book Week in Australia and all, some of us have been obsessing about how to dress our kids for the school fancy dress parade. Some people, like The Auntie Who Thinks of Everything, go so far as to make props.

As I’m severely allergic to craft, and could only bring myself to make a swag (comprising stick with tea towel tied to the end of it) for one of my children’s props today (Miss Nine went as pretty-boy, Huckleberry Finn), I thought I’d share Auntie’s more inspired creation.

The lid flips open and the interior has been tastefully decorated in fully fledged fairy style. Awesome work,
Auntie!

If anyone has photos from Book Week or special crafty ideas they’d like featured on the blog, contact me through the comments box and I’ll see what I can do.

Happy fairy hunting, and good reading!

Categories: Art, Australia, Books, Movies, Parenthood

How to Survive Twilight: Eclipse

Here are my best tips for getting through the latest movie in the Twilight vampire saga.

1. Before booking tickets, bone up on the previous two films. The best way to do that is to watch these reviews.

2. Book Gold Class. Not only will this help the third movie catch up to the gross of the first two, but if you are of age, alcohol helps. Failing that, any kind of digestible distraction helps.
3. Go with the girls. This is a girls-only fantasy film. If a male accompanies you, he’ll be expecting a reward … and it won’t just be tickets to The Karate Kid or The A-team next time.
4. Take someone who has read the books. Not even they know what’s going on, but together, you’ll have fun trying to work it out.
5. Wear sneakers, runners, joggers or sandshoes. There is so much blurry vision of people sprinting, the only thing missing is the Nike or Adidas logo, so bring your own. In fact, all that running might motivate you to run home. Fast.
6. Decide whether you’re on Team Edward or Team Jacob before you go. Everyone else does, even if sappy emo-girl Bella takes 2 hours to make up her mind.
7. Beware: the scariest thing about the film is the cinema full of middle-aged women trying to decide if they’re on Team Edward or Team Jacob (remembering this is a teen movie).
8. Spoiler alert: all the ladies end up rooting for Edward, because let’s face it, what woman longs to be changed into (instead of from) a hairy werewolf (instead of an ageless, powerful, irresistible version of herself)?

Males who have been to the film universally comment as follows:
1. Where’s our eye-candy?
2. What sort of a jerk would be lead on by a girl like that?
3. As if.

Just remember, it’s a love story …

Categories: Books, Love, Movies

Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After & Marmeduke

Mini People were spoiled for choice with movies this holidays. All of these kids’ flicks were entertaining and were universally loved by the Mini People as well as their keepers.

In order of preference: Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After & Marmeduke. Why?

Toy Story 3 was the favourite. The story was great, the animations were as we’ve come to expect and there was no bagging out of stupid parents (other than “mom” accidentally throwing out the toys). Kids think their parents are stupid by the time they’re teenagers as a matter of natural progression – paying Hollywood to bring this process forward into the tween and early years is just an assault on parenting. This is why movies are a sometimes treat, to be enjoyed with a parent present, even if G rated. Toy Story 3 was good clean fun and it had useful messages about loyalty, care, friendship and anti-bullying. Admittedly, I was leaking from the eyes within minutes of this film starting. A word of caution however: this film’s marketing and tied in merchandising is very effective – hold onto your wallets.

Shrek Forever After was well put together, although the Mini People probably responded more warmly to the Marmeduke movie, simply because this edition of Shrek was darker than the previous movies. Children don’t really get why Fiona and Shrek were not as nice as they were in the earlier movies. Visually, the animations were fantastic and the story-line held together better than Marmeduke. Parents will get more out of Shrek than Marmeduke, as it’s cleverer and speaks to things that adults in relationships (particularly with kids) understand. For the kids, it’s just a revisiting of loved characters and easily digested humour. This is probably a good film to send dad to, with or without kids, to head off any impending mid-life crisis revolt against domesticity. While this does in a way, bag out dads, at least it’s a dad’s own journey toward contentment, rather than a movie which is narrated by a dog who’s cleverer than the owner. The simple moral of Shrek is to appreciate your family.

The Mini People loved Marmeduke as did die-hard dog-lovers who were able to ignore jarring plot issues, awkward character development and poor quality CGI. Marmeduke was a dog’s version of a high school teen angst movie. The parallel human plot was about the family’s growing disconnect because of the work-obsessed, clumsy, goofy father. There were plenty of nifty things for kids to learn from this film, like how to roll eyes every time one’s father speaks, how to write snide text messages about your family, how if your dad’s too busy to notice – sneak off to the skate park instead of soccer training and how talking to your dog instead of your parents somehow makes it all better (because of course, the dog fixes everything in the end). There was just a bit too much cheesiness in the rushed ending. Also, why does the cat need a Spanish accent like Puss in Boots? And why do all the dogs dance in the end like in Shrek and Garfield? Marmeduke, the movie, just felt like it had been pushed through production too fast and was roughly hacked together in the editing room. On a brighter note, the menace of merchandising wasn’t an issue and the Mini People thought the moral was to take better care of the family dog and to fight against bullying.

It’d be great if there were more stories about the resourcefulness of kids and less said about unhealthy family dynamics.
What’s that Skippy?
A bushfire? Where?
At the ranger station?
Let’s go, Skip!

The kids in the movies of my time were so clever, they even understood kangaroos. Enough with the eye-rolling, already!