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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Take Care

Uhhhh... hey?

Yeah, look this blog is kinda going under. I won't apologise for my absence though cause I've done that enough. I feel as though ya'll know my deal anyway so there’s really no need to explain.

Some things have happened in my life in the past few months that have been pretty rad:
  • Had a bit of work experience at 3AW Radio which was great and totally different to what I'm doing now. Just answered a few calls from listeners, transferred them through to the live studio and such. Got good feedback about it so here’s hoping something comes out of it (fingers crossed!)
  • Finished playing Grand Theft Auto V, The Witcher and The Witcher 2. Starting Just Cause 2 now which is basically GTA if it were a really dumb action movie (read: actually a lot of fun despite weird controls) though may start playing either Ni no kuni or Mass Effect instead (not that necessary for me to play Just Cause 2 since I’m so heavily into RPGs again).
  • Am now the owner of four Criterion Collection Blu-rays which is super cool (for those of you keeping count, I now own Secret Sunshine, Still Walking, Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love on Blu-ray... films made by three of my top Asian directors, methinks)
  • Discovered the magic of Lorde and am kicking myself for not getting into Lana Del Rey earlier (I just love female singers nowadays, sorry lads). 
  • Purchased a copy of Capcom vs. SNK 2, a hugely fun and perhaps even underrated fighting game on the Playstation 2 (aw yes, I am two generations behind). Now I need two new PS2 controllers (thanks eBay!) and a friend to play with (oh…). Pity the sticker from Dungeon Crawl had to go and do leave an ugly mark though.
  • Had a brush with fame at work after walking pass Eric Bana (he was with his son seeing a film).
  • Wrote and helped make a film for Melbourne’s 48 Hour Film Project! Film itself is not available online at the moment but I had a pretty good time making it in hindsight. At least I know I can write a short film within a couple of hours (it’s not going to be the best story but at least it’s an achievement!).
  • Picked up a rad book from the ACMI Store called, “Cinema Architecture” which showcases some of the best cinemas around the world and the architects behind them (read: movie nerd porn).
  • Also added even more new films to my ever-growing collection (which kinda needs to stop truthfully cause I ain't gonna have a place to hold 'em all soon!)
Other rad things that I got excited for:


  • Actual queen of Japan, Shiina Ringo, recently celebrated her 35th birthday/15th anniversary as a singer and has released a bunch of goodies for fans that I'll likely not be able to acquire due to Japan's inflated prices for its media (CDs/DVDs/Blu-rays and the like are incredibly expensive for some reason in Japan, idk).
  • Amanda Seyfried celebrating her birthday in Korea, whaaat? Spent it wining and dining with important Korean folks (this was during a charity event though, I believe) and was welcomed into the country at the airport by Korean fans who sang her a birthday song (good, very good job Korea - you make good movies and you're mega hospitable).
  • Speaking of Amanda Seyfried, she and the actual queen of Australia, Rose Byrne, both posed for a photo an event that saw me flail around my room like a scolded dog. I lead a fulfilling life (now I need these two + Elizabeth Olsen to take a picture together and then I can ascend into the ether).
  • Melbourne’s weather being cold and rainy and awesome. I love that the whole of spring and now early summer has been pretty cool with its weather. In fact, I do believe that this might be the coolest summer in Melbourne ever.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

So uhhhh, I saw a lot of films since the last blog post and will obviously condense my thoughts as much as possible (bite-sized reviews all the way) though the problem as I've just found is that I can't actually tag all of them (for some reason, I'm only allowed to tag with 200 characters which is silly).  I'll be splitting them across several posts though as some of the films I've watched can be segmented for your navigating pleasure. Overall though, I feel like as though I might be missing a couple of films in this list but regardless gonna be pretty lengthy so... 



THE ROCKET: One of my favourite films of the year – The Rocket is an inspiring and heartwarming film that, for me, is essentially this year’s Beasts of the Southern Wild. A lot of heart, a lot of imagination and a luscious film altogether, The Rocket is Australia’s number one bid for the Oscars (here’s hoping it shoots its way into the nominations cause its rightly deserved even if it isn’t “really” Australian).

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MOOD INDIGO: Michel Gondry’s new film, Mood Indigo, didn’t quite hit it well with me to be honest. Gondry’s style is all over the place and while it’s charming at first, begins to get irritating. The film is also a victim of the Weinstein cut job which meant that a certain portions of the film were cut, leaving the whole film feeling quite disjointed. Disappointing.

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SPECIAL ID: Audiences clamouring for the Donnie Yen who brought them SPL and Flash Point from ten years ago will not be disappointed with his new film, Special ID. Yen brings the fury as an undercover cop working alongside the Chinese authorities and though the action is brutal, it’s loosely held together by a story that’s so redundant that it almost lessen’s the blow felt from Yen’s action choreography. Video game enthusiasts might find much to enjoy from this film as well, due to its startling similarities to the underrated game, Sleeping Dogs.

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PRISONERS: A tautly paced thriller, Prisoners is a fantastic film that delivers great performances from the likes of Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and an unrecognizable Melissa Leo. With excellent cinematography work from acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins (who by the way has provided me with my favourite movie still of 2013), Prisoners is a masterclass in mystery, suspense and horror and a chilling study of man’s tolerance for evil. 

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GRAVITY: Certainly an impressive and astonishing technical feat, Gravity is an admirable effort by director Alfonso Cuaron though if I’m being honest, the struggle to survive in Buried felt way more threatening (weird how that works, huh?). That said, there’s a lot more going on in the film than just Sandra Bullock’s survival though I can’t imagine revisiting at home - I saw it in IMAX 3D which in my mind is the definitive version of Gravity

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MYSTERY ROAD: Not my favourite Australian film of the year (that distinction goes towards The Rocket and The Turning) but a worthwhile one undoubtedly. A wholly Aboriginal voice bleeds out all throughout Mystery Road and its neo-noir-cum-western story of an Aboriginal detective navigating the murky grounds of the Australian outback make Mystery Road a broodingly mature revelation in Aboriginal-Australian cinema.

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STORIES WE TELL: Filmmaker Sarah Polley crafts an incredible documentary in Stories We Tell, one that not only gives a great yet simple story but does so in a way where Polley essentially deconstructs the documentary format. By telling a story about her deceased mother, Polley demonstrates how untrustworthy memory can be and how it can be used to distort meaning. It’s a lovingly made film and fantastic in every sense of the word – sensitively told and thought-provoking.

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THOR: THE DARK WORLD: Though Thor: The Dark World isn’t without its inconsistencies, namely its arbitrary and bland characters (villainous and heroic) and less than enthralling story, I actually felt like I had a lot of fun with it. Thor: The Dark World, at the very least, is a huge step up from the first and is a much better film than Iron Man 3. The combination of fantasy and space work incredibly well which only builds a good case for Marvel to introduce Guardians of the Galaxy down the line. Biggest thing to come away from this is Tom Hiddleston who has become the unlikely poster boy for Marvel.


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FRUITVALE STATION: Without a doubt my favourite film of the year so far (and we’ve only got a few weeks left to go!), Fruitvale Station rendered me an emotional wreck during and after the film was over. Based on an unfortunate true story about the wrongful killing of a young man on New Year’s Eve, the film will no doubt go on to be something of a wild card this award season, with its considered direction from first-time director Ryan Coogler and star-making performance by Michael B. Jordan. Gripping, heart-breaking and tragic, Fruitvale Station is one of the year’s best without a doubt. 

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RUSH: Rush was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me as I had no intention to watch this movie at all. A fantastic sports film – perhaps one of the best ever made – Ron Howard ups the adrenalin in this hyper-kinetic sports-drama about one of F1 racing’s most storied rivalries. An immaculate period presentation and top-tier performances make Rush that rare breed of film that straddles the line between playful popcorn flick and almost arthouse affair.


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BLACKFISH: In spite of its obvious agenda, Blackfish is an eye-opening documentary that exposes America’s Seaworld amusement parks as a culpable suspect for the endangered lives of captive killer whales. It’s a fascinating topic to explore and one that’s extremely well-told within its short 88 minute running time – something that seems to be lost on a lot of filmmakers these days.
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SMUGGLER: Absolutely hated Smuggler which is a damn shame considering its stacked cast. Only good thing to come out of it were the characters of Viscera and Vertebrae, a pair of Chinese-speaking assassins causing havoc in Japan (had no idea Masanobu Ando could speak Mandarin). Find out why I hated Smuggler over at Japan Cinema.
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AS ONE: A fine sports-drama, As One tells the true-life story of Korea’s first unified Olympic table tennis team which was formed in the early '90s. Peppered with the expected amounts of romance, comedy and drama that one can assume a big name Korean movie like this would generate, As One is a great film with a very Korean story to tell. Absolutely recommended if you're a fan of good sports films and Korean films.


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DRUG WAR: My first Johnnie To film! Drug War is a pretty tight film overall that pushes the censorship restrictions of China. Being that this was To’s first Chinese feature (he’s more of a Hong Kong guy), it does well to show off things that censors normally frown upon. Largely fun and entertaining with some great set pieces though my preferred drug-related crime film would have to go to Protégé which starred Daniel Wu and Andy Lau (it’s a Hong Kong film though not a Mainland film).


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THE BOW: Kim Ki-duk is an artist in every sense of the word. The Bow is visual and aural poetry and it’s so hard for me to even say whether or not I “liked” it because his films are all visceral experiences. It's not up yet but look out for a wordier articulation of the film over at Modern Korean Cinema.

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15: Piss-poor acting and excruciating storytelling make 15 an uncomfortable watch for all the wrong reasons. Despite some well-intentioned ideas, Singaporean director Royston Tan’s unconventional visual style – a laughable attempt to recreate the energy in films like Chungking Express and Run Lola Run – and awfully plotted vignettes make for a less than engaging experience which is a shame considering its subject matter.   


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BEIJING BICYCLE: A classic in China, Beijing Bicycle might seem unassuming on the outside but really has so much character and depth. Telling the story of two boys chasing after the same bicycle, the film is social commentary at its finest. Beijing Bicycle is a dive into China’s lower class citizens and how China's communist ideals has punished them. Subtle yet powerful, if you’re an avid Chinese cinema-goer, this will no doubt have already been on your watch list. That said, I feel like if I were Chinese that this film would resonate much more.
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Still here? You crazy, dawg. But I'm glad you are because now I can share with you the song of the post.

This post's title refers the dreamy American band, Beach House, whose song Take Care was used in the American trailer for this year's Palme d'Or winning film, Blue Is The Warmest Color (which was recently selected to join the prestigious Criterion Collection!). Listen and love. 

(Fun fact: Kendrick Lamar sampled Beach House's song, Silver Soul, for his track, Money Trees. Was listening to Beach House's "Teen Dream" album and thought the rhythm and melody sounded way too familiar. Turned out my hunch was right!). 




End post.

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