Archive for the 'Film' Category

MEDIA SATIRE

2010-03-12

I have to say that I have been ‘off’ satire for a while; it’s not that amusing after a while.  Things seem to have stagnated.  Or so I thought. Then along came some stuff from YouTube.com that brought it all back.  Superb stuff for you to enjoy.

I kick this off with a stab at both pop music and pop music TV programs with this gem from Fat Pie’s David Firth:

[Embedded video from you tube]


Next up is Movie Trailers, The Oscars, and formulaic Hollywood motion Pictures:

[Embedded video from you tube]

How good was THAT?

Adam Buxton has taken YouTube to heart; some of his best work is there.  Check out his Eurovision satire:

[Embedded video from you tube]

I cannot leave this without including his hilarious subtitled “Songs of Praise” skit.  This is almost genius!

[Embedded video from you tube]

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MEDIA SOFTWARE

2010-02-24

I get asked a lot about favourite free media software, so I thought I’d do a post article on the subject. At the very least, it records the here and now and might provide laughs in years to come.

To begin, let’s say you wanted to download albums, books, or movies on the peer-to-peer network.  There is a nice wee free (and open source) bit of software called uTorrent (micro torrent).

It is really easy to use, you fire up the program and then use the search panel, it opens your browser at a torrent site. You select the torrent you want, agree to use uTorrent to download the torrent, and it downloads your selections in the background, resuming if you break continuity or even switch off.

Sometimes torrent downloads are in a strange format.  There might be several files that comprise a RAR compression.  What you do here is find the actual *.rar file in amongst the list, and simply right click and select “extract here” if you have 7-zip installed.  The result is a single *.avi file.  You can now bin all the other files.

Now that you have an *.avi movie file, you might want to make a DVD disc that can be played on home and car DVD players.

This needs DVD Flick, and open source bit of free software that converts the file and burns the movie — with customisable menus.  I have used various other ones, some better, some worse, but they have now gone by the wayside by introducing charges. They were only free long enough to get you hooked.

Sometimes you just want to copy *.avi files as data files, either as a back up or with the intention to play on a laptop or some-such.  To quickly copy data files (and that means anything from *.avi files, and *.mp3 files to *.jpg and *.gif files), simply use the free and open source InfraRecorder software.

A great way to surf the web is to use Firefox’s tabbed browser. It is free and open source too.

You can customise this browser in all sorts of ways using the free plug-ins. A good plug in to get is Video download helper.

So now, when you are watching a video on something like YouTube, you can download the file.  The Download Helper can be configured to download and convert to a suitable format (the original YouTube format is *.flv).

On the other hand, you can just get a video player that can handle just about any format… VLC.

This can also make *.mp3 files from videos (separating off the audio from the movie), and even take snapshot stills of movies, or turn home movies taken with the camera turned on its side.  Seriously, it does AMAZING things, yet it is free and open source.

VLC is so much better than Window media player; it plays very odd formats and you can even slow down playback — which is great of learning guitar licks from youtube clips.

Hope this list helps someone out there! Enjoy!

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OSCAR LEVANT

2009-12-15

[Picture of Oscar Levant at Piano - An American in Paris]I have been a fan of Oscar since the late 1960s, and I find it sad and strange that he’s not better remembered.

He did the music for zillions of films, wrote tonnes of hit records, was a pal of Jolson and Gershwin and a star pupil of Shoenberg.

So many of my favourite “celebrities” (for want of a better term), are famed for quick wittedness on radio and TV — especially game shows and talk shows.

That is probably what made Levant so famous in his day.

Recent events with Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross made me recall Levant’s remarks about Marilyn Monroe that got his show taken off air — it was about her famous conversion to Judaism.  Levant wise-cracked, ‘Now that Marilyn Monroe is kosher, Arthur Miller can eat her!’.

He later said that he ‘hadn’t meant it “that way”‘! Sublime. His show eventually got axed for being too controversial.  This guy was cutting edge… back in the 50s and 60s.

[Picture of Groucho Marx Al Jolson and Oscar Levant 1948]

He is incredibly well-quoted in tear-off calendars, here’s a wee selection of ones you might have heard and admired:

  • I have one thing to say about psychoanalysis: fuck Dr Freud.
  • Everyone in Hollywood is gay, except Gabby Hayes — and that’s because he is a transvestite.
  • Strip away the false tinsel from Hollywood, and you find the real tinsel inside.
  • So little time and so little to do…
  • What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left.
  • I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.
  • I used to call Audrey Hepburn a walking X-ray.
  • Happiness isn’t something you experience; it’s something you remember.
  • I’m going to memorize your name and throw my head away.
  • I envy people who drink — at least they know what to blame everything on.
  • A pun is the lowest form of humour — when you don’t think of it first.
  • Every time I look at you I get a fierce desire to be lonesome.
  • I have given up reading books; I find it takes my mind off myself.
  • Schizophrenia beats dining alone.
  • There are two sides to every question: my side and the wrong side.
  • Underneath this flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character.
    and my favourite:
  • A politician is a man who will double cross that bridge when he comes to it.

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WOODY ALLEN

2008-01-21

Woody Allen is a big hero of mine. Not because he was nerdy or geeky; I didn’t relate to that. Neither did I associate with nervousness, agitation, Jewishness or pretty much anything else.

The plain truth is that I love Woody Allen because he is so alien and so different from me. I laugh because he surprises me all the time.  Stories can go anywhere (and do).

He’s the nearest thing to a person worthy of envy.  It is impossible for me to think of him as a bad person or as having bad intentions. His single function seems to me to be to enrich our lives, to make things better for us, to entertain.

I think we all ought to live in a better world, the type of world Woody Allen seems to be in.  He proves that it is possible.  If only we could change the world to be more like that. That is something tangible to aim for.

It has to be the product of North America; that is where there is a culture of patronage, of philanthropy.

He is so versatile and creative and his work is so successful by most  metrics — but there are always detractors of his work and of his life.

I grew up with they guy. He’s always been there, ironically like Bogart was for his character in Play It Again Sam. I have his books, and I always went to his movies each year — and that brought about a new dimension.

“80 percent of success is showing up”

— That Woody Allen line has kept me going through surprisingly difficult times in my life.

But how marvellous to be given carte blanche — to make a movie every year for the rest of your life, starring whomsoever you want, about whatever you like!  A blank cheque.

I loved the fact that he kept his films 80 mins long, with the same crew and black-and-white credits and titles.

The thing is that you could see the legend emerging before your  very eyes — you knew as it was happening — that this man will be of legendary, Dickensian/ Shakespearian stature.

There has always been a strong sense of history being made with Mr Allen.

With is considerable output, he has been free to experiment — and not all things have been successful in terms of living up to the expectation or in terms of financial success at the box office.  But no matter.

Let Woody try it, make the mistakes and indulge himself on our behalf.

Ah the wonder!

Apart from that, I like the fact that he plays clarinet in a small Jazz club every Monday night.  He seems very centred in his life — in New York, in his work.  Much more sensible and grounded than his on-screen persona.

I reckon he’d be a good laugh on a day-to-day basis; that kind of quirky mind cannot be closed down.  I don’t think that his “serious” work shows that he’s grown up or become dry and sober and boring.  I just think he has to keep challenging himself — I mean to say come on; who could make a funny film every single year?

His early comedies are legendary, and his letters and articles brilliant. If you do not know him, do yourself a favour and check out this genius immediately!

embedded video:

Sadly, a lot of people I know think of Woody only in terms of him being a paedophile — which is pretty shocking.  I don’t know what is more shocking — that people think that or that the media can get away with that sort of thing.

Here’re that facts as I remember them — Woody Allen was married twice.  His first marriage was to a 16 year old when he was just 19.  They were both classically “too young”. Allen married again for a few years — and that marriage was finally wound-up in 1969.

He didn’t marry again — until Christmas Eve in Italy in 1997 when he married in Soon Yi, and they have been married ever since — that’s over a decade, and by far the longest relationship, and longest marriage Woody Allen has enjoyed.

The problem is his wife.  Soon Yi was adopted by Mia Farrow and André Previn, and raised as their child.  When Farrow and Previn split, she started a relationship with Woody Allen — and although the two never married, they had a son called Satchel and adopted two others.

Woody and Soon Yi fell in love and Woody split from Farrow.

Farrow was furious; and fair enough — she was spurned and scorned, this was her adopted daughter, her ex-lover and ex-boss.  He was father to one of her kids. She went to the courts for custody and she went to the media for backup.

Farrow got custody, but even though the courts threw out all the accusations, as a result of this bitterness and fuss, Woody Allen is often somehow thought-of as a paedophile, with the suggestion that he’d molested his own children, that he had abused his position as a father! Some people even think he married his stepdaughter, and that is such a shame!

I remember being furious at the press back then; it was very poorly reported, extremely unfair and biased.  But then I could see that it was somewhat “unsavoury” for a chap to take up with his lover’s adopted kid (whatever age and whatever the age difference), it may not be “nice”, but it wasn’t evil or illegal or abuse or anything like that.

However, as time has gone by, I have to say that they are a true couple – married for longer than usual in Hollywood, and that speaks for itself.  I don’t think Woody Allen takes marriage lightly — marrying the girl was a massive risk when you consider that Mia Farrow had all but ruined his reputation; with a costly divorce and no reputation, could he have recovered?  The only conclusion one can come to is that they really did just fall in love, and that they are a suitable and compatible couple.

A love that is strong enough to survive all that media hype, but also on a personal level as he’s lost his kid and she’s lost her adopted father André and mother Mia, and adopted siblings.

I personally learned a LOT from this tale — that it doesn’t matter what people think, that once you know your mind, stick to your guns.  Woody, to my knowledge, conducted himself with dignity throughout this long and drawn out saga, and I do not recall him slinging any mud back at Mia Farrow.

I don’t get a lot of modern life — Woody Allen’s situation is surely far from unique in this day and age.  I know of other odd arrangements, for example, take a woman who split from her man and taken the children. She then embarks on a relationship with another man.  If she then dies, is the new man responsible for these children? or does he hand them back to their original father(s)?

Hey, looks like material for a Woody Allen film… LOL!

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REVIEWS 2007

2007-12-31

Movie review — A Very Long Engagement: 2007/04/02/a-very-long-engagement/

Movie review — Heaven: 2007/03/26/heaven/

REVIEWS 2006

2006-12-31

Movie review — The Last Kiss: 2006/10/21/the-last-kiss/

REVIEWS 2005

2005-12-31

Movie review — The Libertine: 2005/11/30/the-libertine/

Movie review — Batman begins: 2005/11/27/batman-begins/

Movie review — De Battre mon Coeur s’est Arrete: 2005/11/06/de-battre-mon-coeur-sest-arrete/

Movie Review — Amelie: 2005/10/17/amelie/

REVIEWS 2004

2004-12-31

Opera review — Tosca: 2004/11/06/tosca/

Album review — Maroon 5: 2004/11/04/maroon-5/

Movie review — Shrek 2 2004/07/30/shrek-2/

Movie review — Coffee and Cigarettes: 2004/08/20/2323/

Live review: Abraham Laboriel (Edinburgh Festival): 2004/08/14/abe-labe-l/

Opera review — La Boheme: 2004/05/01/la-boheme/

Movie review — the Passion of The Christ: 2004/04/07/the-passion-of-the-christ/

Movie review — L’Ultimo Bacio: 2004/03/02/lultimo-bacio/

Movie review — School of Rock: 2004/02/29/school-of-rock/

Musical review — HMS Pinafore: 2004/02/15/hms-pinafore/

IRREVERSIBLE

2004-02-05

[Picture of Video cover of Irreversible]Irreversible is a French film with two prolonged scenes of physical violence (but no explosions or guns), it is a film about ethics — justification, retaliation, revenge, reacting to events.

If the story was told in the normal direction or timeline, it would not be the same nor would it be as effective; it is constantly asking YOU ‘what would you do if…’ and it makes you see a single event in different ways. Therefore, it is more about what YOU — the viewer — bring to the film than the simple enough story.

It is more about what YOU bring to witnessing an event than the event itself.

For example, you see the homosexual club and the violence — and you may think it is about homophobia. Later on you find out that they are acting in retaliation for a sexual assault, and that they were affected by strong drink and drugs — and powerful emotions (they couple had just argued, there was sexual tension in that one man was the boyfriend and the other was a visiting ex-boyfriend).

As the each piece of information is revealed — in reverse order, your views on what you have just seen have to alter.

You change your mind about the attack on the homosexual, you change your mind about the ex-boyfriend’s emotional involvement, and so on.

The film works on many levels too — it is called IRREVERSIBLE (despite being played in reverse). the reason it is not called REVERSIBLE is that each new piece of information switches the characters’ lives down a route – each of which is irreversible, life-changing, undo-able… and important.

The script seems as erratic as the camera movement at the beginning (to suit the panic and giddiness of the end-game), but as the film progresses, everything becomes steadier – throughout, though, every single word is carefully considered… even seemingly meaningless asides take on importance when the earlier scene is shown.

Basically, you are challenged to rethink the events shown – as you go, time and again. You may feel disgusted at the two main violent scenes, but you are forced to re-appraise these scenes continually, (they are of fundamental importance to the story which is why they are so prolonged) so what you felt at the time of first viewing is not what you feel at the end of the film – something which would have been impossible to do if the film was not played in the reverse-style format.

It is not for everyone, but it is actually worth watching this gruesome film as it really challenges you where you need challenged. Having said that, I FFWD’d through the violence (I don’t need to dwell to get the impact). People can be so ugly.  This film’s approach is refreshingly meaningful! Undo unto others…

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CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN

2001-06-09

Poor Mr de Berniers! Everyone’s got it wrong and missed the point completely! Can people be so superficial?

[Cover of Captain Corelli's Mandolin]This book seeks to investigate human nature, and mainly platonic forms of love: love for a place, a homeland, an ideal, a political ideal, for a daughter, for commonplace animals, for the enemy, homosexual love, love of fellow man, love for an object (a mandolin), love between fathers and daughters, adopted children, mothers and sons, love between enemies and between old men of differing beliefs in a Greek cafe.

Nothing lasts really – earthquakes and wars may come, what survives is like a tune passed on in the memory. All platonic, all unfulfilling, all unrequited – ungrabbable, fleeting and personal … like music … ephemeral, emotional, and then gone.

For me THAT’s what the novel’s about — and why the author chose Corelli and the mandolin to be included in the title. This is what strings together all the facets, and if this is not realised, then this book will appear a disjointed and clumsy collection of styles and tales.

  • The movie misses this completely, fails to communicate what the whole thing is actually about!

[VHS cover for Captain Corelli's Mandolin]It is so loosely based on the book, that it really ought to have been called something else! It’s not that the book was edited down for film, or even that the basic idea was changed, the facts and actual plot changed beyond recognition!

Mandras turns out to be a hero in the film! The Doctor survives the earthquake! Lemoni moves in with the Doctor and his daughter. The Captain sends an LP and then turns up for the Hollywood ending! The Homosexuality is omitted completely. The Germans are treated nicely in the film compared with the book.

-The plot has been changed such that the Italians join forces with the rebels (!) against the Germans – so justifying the execution which the Captain manages to survive!

There’s no priest, no restaurant, nothing is unrequited, the mandolin plays a minimal role, the music is not central.

Believe me, this movie is so unlike the book that they are can no more be compared than can a pear with a chair.

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