Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

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,

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!

Spies: Just Like in the Movies

Russian spies are back in vogue, it seems. The question is, has anything changed?

Last week, Yours Truly was treated to the Brisbane preview of the gripping French spy thriller, “Farewell”. This week, it was almost as if life were imitating art, with the dramatic arrests of alleged Russian spies or sleeper agents, on American soil: Russian Spy Ring.

“Farewell” is an engaging and intelligent film, which is easy to watch and hard to forget. It even pokes fun at the French, which makes it laugh-out-loud funny in places (early in the film). The chilling realism of that era in Communist Russia, however, is deeply unsettling. Anyone who’s feeling apathetic about democracy should see the film.

The movie is based on fact (Google: “The Farewell Dossier”) and gives viewers an eye-opening understanding of the why and how of the Soviet Union’s rapid collapse at the end of the Cold War. For more detail, see Farewell Movie review. Please note that the scriptwriters took some liberties with the characterization of the hero (Vladimir Vetrov, who is Grigoriev in the movie), making him much nicer than he probably was.The film ignores that he likely stabbed his mistress to death (in the car scene) while intoxicated and that his imprisonment related to this rather than to the much nobler reason presented in the film. Still, as far as anyone can tell, before being imprisoned for murder, he did leak the information to the French and Americans, which in turn helped unhinge the Soviet Union. The reason the world had the opportunity to find out the truth or approximate truth about this point in history, may have a lot to do with the hero’s bragging in prison. After all, what’s success, when nobody else can admire you for it? But then, how can we ever know for sure when the lives of spies are built lie upon lie and oppressive regimes are lies grown large?

The agents who were arrested in America this week, had been embedded in communities and working towards a singular goal for about a decade – that the government admits to knowing of, anyway. In the context of having seen “Farewell” and read some of the historical background to the film, I’ll admit to feeling a tad nervous about this new turn of events. I’ll also confess to feeling some concern about the timing of the arrests. Was it a case of QUICK LOOK OVER THERE!? while the flailing Obama administration tries to look tough and pull itself together on other unpopular domestic disasters? After all, these agents were under observation for about a decade. Why the sudden rush to make it public (not that I’m suggesting America starts arresting people in cognito)? Maybe Obama needed a clear excuse to back away from the difficult relationship between the countries, which was compromising America’s moral authority as well as its geo-political supremacy. Handing olive branch after olive branch to a big bear is going to get you eaten, eventually, even if the big bear seems a thin shadow of its former self. On the back of Russia’s growing mineral wealth and strategic alliances, the Putin bear is bulking up again…

Politicians know there’s nothing like a well-timed, stage-managed crisis to get the public behind them. But how could I say such a thing? Of course, Mr Obama just had hamburgers with the Russian Premier this week. Maybe it was Obama’s sense of humour as well as his sense of timing, in offering his visitor what is known as a “Hell Dog” or “Hell Burger” (because of the chillies) only days before busting this spy ring in the open. Mr Obama, the Hell Burgers will go down a treat in the film adaptation of your presidency. I’ll buy popcorn for that one…

I guess the world can only hope that Mr Obama knows what he’s doing and that he’s getting better advice than Hillary did when she gave the Russians a box with a red button in it and a dodgy translation. “Reset” indeed. It’s certainly starting to feel cold again….