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The Wednesday Review – Young Einstein (1988)

July 24, 2012

The Wednesday Review – Young Einstein (1988)

 

When people think of iconic Australian movies they will probably come up with films such as The Castle, Crocodile Dundee, maybe even Mad Max. All provided a unique view of differing aspects of Australian culture and identity.

 

However none of these movies, in my opinion, are nearly as Australian as ‘Young Einstein’. Many of you having just read that title will suddenly remember this movie from their childhoods long ago, It is a forgotten movie, not even available on DVD here as far as I know. Perhaps like you it was a staple of my childhood, its silliness a perfect mix to entertain a child’s mind.

 

So how does the movie stack up again as an adult when the veneer of ridiculous ideas, close to stupid liberties and questionable merit is analysed? Well actually pretty damn well.

 

Young Einstein is Yahoo Serious’ crackpot movie about a Tasmanian born Albert Einstein who discovers his formula for energy by splitting beer atoms to create bubbles in beer. He also invents rock and roll and surfing. Its hard to describe the movie without a certain pretentiousness coming about. A series of very un-Australian things supposedly done by an Aussie now? Absurd!

 

Absurd is right, it is completely and utterly absurdity from start to finish and not for a minute does it take itself seriously. There are relativity few out and out jokes within the film, relying mostly on crazy scenarios, mannerisms and often a complete departure from reality for its laughs but its all well done. I do however believe that you have to be Australian to really enjoy the humour. It is no surprise that the film bombed overseas whilst making millions of dollars locally.

 

One of the greatest things about this movie is that the soundtrack is quite simply amazing. Consisting of a near all Australian listing and having some of the most iconic Australian songs of all time makes the soundtrack almost better then the movie.

 

Can I recommend Young Einstein? Yes, nostalgia holds up in this particularly instance and I found it just as enjoyable now as I did as a kid. I found it a lot smarter a movie then it might immediately appear. Reccomended.

 

Three and a half bubbles in beer out of five.

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A contested obsession

July 17, 2012

This wintery time of year is prime for the baying and decrying of foul weather by many Melbournians. People who you would think should know better by now then to point out the intolerability of our weather yet we will never learn. Complaining about the changing weather here seems to be a time honoured practice that I doubt anyone would be willing to give up should a mad scientist actually invent a villainous weather changing machine.

I myself have always enjoyed the winter and all its rugging up and bustling. Its also a great excuse for my ever white complexion. What I haven’t always enjoyed though was the months long epidemic that autumn and winter brought. Not the common cold though, i’m talking about the sport of the common man. Australian Rules Football.

A few years ago my opinion would have been simple. Not interested and damn it for taking precious time up on television when there is already so little worthy of viewing. Naturally it never stopped there and the proverbial water cooler talk subsequently was most dis interesting.  What a boring clash of men fighting over a ball. At the time I considered cricket to be a more exciting spectator sport. Such was my disgust for the game as it was.

Ill never know the exact reason, nor the exact moment that I suddenly began to take an interest in the sport. My best guess is that everyone I knew all barracked for the same team almost exclusively and I was slowly absorbed by the colossal force that is football. I would hesitate to call myself a huge fan but with my new practice of watching replays and reading discussions on the sport I am starting to worry.

Now I get to worry about the roller coaster that is supporting a team and all the excitement and heartbreak that is attached. No one to blame for that apart from myself for picking StKilda, or did it pick me?

So with all that effort involved, the time dedicated to watching the games and the worry about the next outcome the question of would I have changed my mind about gaining an interest in the first place? Would I change my mind?

Not in your life.

 


The Wednesday Review – Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (possibly in 3d)

February 15, 2012

The Wednesday Review – Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (possibly in 3d)

Liam Neeson – Qui-Gon Jinn

Ewan McGregor – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Natalie Portman – Queen Amidala / Padmé

Jake Lloyd – Anakin Skywalker

Ian McDiarmid – Senator Palpatine

Written and Directed by George Lucas

As many of you might unfortunately know, the scourge of “afterthought 3D” is hitting Star Wars with a splotchy and slow to realise impact. With the release of The Phantom Menace this year, with each episode being released annually after that I thought I would touch upon one of my most hates movie franchises. The Prequels.

It is of no surprise that many people revile the newer Star Wars movies for being effectively piled of poorly made garbage and I am also one of them. However with a new 3D treatment perhaps the movie is worth another look as surely there are some good aspects to it? Well, not really.

Unfortunately the basic issue with The Phantom Menace stems from its complete lack of characters and its rather vague and unthought through storyline. When I say it lacks characters I am more refering to the lack of proper fleshing out and characterisation of its heroes. Neither Qui-Gon nor Obi-Wan, our supposed heroes of this story, have any real discernible traits that define them and unfortunatly this does not give us a good edge into the storyline. Whereas in the original trilogy we always had fish out of water Luke Skywalker to follow around and become involved in the universe with. Whilst this kind of thing could have been happening with Obi-wan as the younger Jedi we never really get it and instead are left back on the ship for a good portion of the movie.

I wont make any paritucaly mention of the much hated Jar Jar Binks whose awfulness is so obvious that its really not worthy of proper mention. I will just say that his terrible and annoying character is a symptom of this movie rather then a direct cause to why it is bad.

Our story, about trade disputes between a planet we have never heard before and an organisation that really makes no sense when you think about it cannot be more irrelevant to Star Wars then it already is. We bounce between a crisis that is not shown at all to a story about a boy that we are told is really important who engages in a race of ridiculous nature before returning and solving the original crisis that is only kind of still there. Does this sound like an interesting premise, even on paper?

This review admitably is beating a dead horse as Episode 1 has been picked apart and ridiculed by many many reviewers who have put in far more effort in de constructing it then I have. So the 3D, is it worth it? Well like any post processed 3D the answer is naturally no. Even then the 3D effects are sparse and are probably utilised in less then half the movie when the special effects are at their highest usage. Still, with over $23million already made from this re-release it can’t be said that it was a bad idea from a financial perspective.

Would I recommend Episode 1 in 3D? Not in the slightest and would infact recommend against seeing it so as to not encourage more movie making of this terrible quality. Stay away.

Rated 1 midichloriran out of 50,000


The Wednesday Review – Hurtsville

February 8, 2012

The Wednesday Review – Hurtsville by Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders

Not having seen a decent movie this week I thought it was time to review an album that I have been listening to on a near daily basis for the past month. Hurtsville by Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders is the third album by Jack Ladder, a Sydney born musician, and the first as a collaborative effort with his new band the Dreamlanders.

 

The comparisons with Nick Cave seem to be a favourite with other reviewers and I can see why in a fashion but this also discredits Ladder at the same time. Considering the rather vast influence Cave has had on just about every modern Australian musician it seems unfair to compare Ladder with him simply because they both have deep baritone voices. Yes there are comparisons but lets not go too overboard shall we?

 

Jack Ladder’s previous albums suffered, if anything, from a much to wide breadth. Their large range of differing styles song to song was interesting but were not very captivating. Fortunately Hurtsville does not suffer from this and Ladder seems to have discovered a style of music that will hopefully see him well in the future as well.

 

The stand out song on this album is undoubtedly “Cold Feet” which has been given some radio play by TripleJ and other alternative radio stations but not nearly enough. It is a dark and moody song that is really pushed along by its almost melodramatic instrumentation. My second favourite is called “Dumb love” and is a great change of pace in the album with a far more upbeat and catchy riff to accompany it.

There are a few criticisms that I have of the album that, whilst relativity minor, stop it from getting top marks. The lyrical content is ridiculously all over the place in quality. Whilst some lyrics are extraordinarily clever and well written others are little more then puns or cliches that do not fit the rest of the lyrical tone. On top of this certain songs run a little too long and you’re almost inclined to reach for the skip button after the five or six minute mark which I never consider to be a good thing on any album.

 

It is really the entirety of Hurtsville that gives it strength. There are no bad songs on this album, simply ones that stand out, and all will maintain a listen on a complete run through. By no means a perfect album Hurtsville still manages to deliver a very solid and brooding sound that just simply works. Highly recommended.

 

Four Nick Cave comparisons out of Five.


Sniffing drugs just a’int for the dogs.

February 6, 2012

There are many things we watch in police shows that we take as gospel. Lie detectors, bullet analysis, sniffer dogs and the list goes on. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your circumstances, the actual effectiveness of many of these “methods” is arbitrary, subjective and generally rather poor.

 

Lets take sniffer dogs for instance. Their usefulness to police is unquestionable but unfortunately the actual realities aren’t so favourable. Last year on the ABC site Amy Simmons brought up results of sniffer dogs being terribly ineffective in the job they do. As high as four in five positive “sniffs” were revealed to have been false.

 

Well you ask, that’s still not a problem really is it? They still have a twenty percent chance of catching someone! Well tell that to those 80% who were potentially forcibly searched, detained and generally inconvenienced due to inaccurate readings. Its not fair, is a violation of what should be steadfast civil liberties and should not be tolerated.

 

I bring this up largely as a response to Greg Barn’s article outlying much of these ideas but particularly focusing on the usage of dogs in festivals to specifically combat the usage of party drugs. Why are we continuing such a “war on drugs” when only a handful of people are even being punished out of the many thousands who attend these festivals?

 

This country has a rather sorry love affair with slowly allowing our rights to be eroded because “it does not really effect me”. How much longer should we put up with allowing a woefully inadequate system to function when it has the power to arbitrarily search anyone effectively? Perhaps no longer.


The Wednesday Review – A few best men

February 1, 2012

The Wednesday Review – A few best men

Xavier Samuel as David Locking

Laura Brent as Mia Ramme

Olivia Newton-John as Barbra Ramme

Jonathan Biggins as Jim Ramme

Kris Marshall as Tom

Written by Dean Craig and directed by Stephan Elliott

The root of Australian comedies has always seemed to me to stem from familiarity. Our comedy heroes are generally the “battler” whose charm and wit comes from his or her surrounding that us as Australians are intimately familiar with. Even going so far back as Barry Mackensie you can see how the Aussie comedy icon is very much supposed to embody Australia.

The problem is that this is simply not marketable. Sure films like The Castle, Muriel’s Wedding and even the Wog Boy to name some contemporary ones have done well and are even critically and culturally acclaimed but overseas their marketability is rather low.

There of course is one Australian comedy that everyone knows and did remarkably well overseas and that is Crocodile Dundee. The thing about Dundee however is that the marjority of the film isnt even set in Australia. It is actually a fish out of water story and well, that works just about anywhere.

This is where A few best men come into it as at its heard, A few best men is not an Australian comedy despite being financed by Australian film and directed by Stephan Elliot of Pricilla fame. Written by Dean Craig the film is decidedly a British take on the ensemble friend comedy and with some Australian humour thrown in here and there. This is actually a rather smart move by the film makers as by effectively creating a British comedy in Australia they can capture both markets well.

The plot of the story consists of four friends making their way to the Blue Mountains for the wedding of David and naturally hijinks ensue involving a prize sheep, a drug dealer with parent issues and a politically obsessed father in law.

It would be unfair to say that A few best men is derivative as it is certainly a funny and well made movie. It is however fairly formulaic and predictable with scenes and ideas very much there only to set up a joke later in the movie that you can see a mile off.

Fortunately the ensemble cast are all very good with the stand out being Kris Marshall who you may remember from a slightly similar film called Death at a Funeral. Props must be given to Olivia Newton John who is actually quite funny in her role as a fed up political wife.

Overall A few best men is decently funny, if highly predictable, movie that is guaranteed to get you laughing. Being a film that is largely Australian in funding and production I would probably recommend it on that basis alone as promoting our film industry is important so you might as well do it in exchange for a laugh.

A few best men gets a solid three prize rams out of five for me. A perfectly good comedy but not one that you will be quoting for years to come.


The Wednesday Review – Star Wars: Uncut

January 25, 2012

The Wednesday Review – Star Wars: Uncut

Cast: You!

Directed by: Probably you as well.

 

Never underestimate the power of the internet.

 

For luminous memes it is, not this crude matter.

 

So what is with the warped Star Wars references you might ask? Well the reason is I have just finished watching Star Wars: A New Hope. Well I sort of did.

 

Actually I barely watched any of the original Star Wars, seeing only glimpses of it in the fan refilming Star Wars: Uncut. I should clarify that it is actually fans refilming as Star Wars: Uncut is a group collaborative project consisting of the original Star Wars cut up into 15second segments which anyone can then remake in any way they see fit.

 

The results are well, spectacular.

 

 

The quality, is to be admitted, rather all over the place depending on the submission. They range from amazing quality animation and clever re imaginings to rather average home productions. Fortunately at only 15 seconds long, each scene never outstays its welcome and instead makes you laugh uncontrollably.

 

Sometimes the internet produces something very special that brings out the best in people and combines that together into something amazing. Best of all we are here to experience if completely for free.

 

Because of the nature of this project rating it would be rather pointless. I will say that it is immensely enjoyable and I highly recommend you at least check out your favourite scenes. I guarantee at least a smile.

http://www.starwarsuncut.com/