Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Robots - Chris Wedge & Carlos Saldanha

From the favourer: Reasons why Robots is great:

  • Lots of robots
  • Fun at the end when they're trying to get rid of the evil mother and her son.
  • Really exciting
  • Fender laughing then crying. SO SO SO FUNNY
  • Sweepers take you to the place that you shouldn't go to. The chop-shop. They will get you and turn you into upgrades: shiny metal that no robot should get because it's too much money. Upgrades look cool but I don't think they'd be cool. Robots are okay the way they are.
  • It's the best. Lots of actions and great stuff
  • They eat metal

  • In this very special edition of At the Movies, the role of David will be played by me. Margaret will be played by my three year old son, Luka. (Tim and I have agreed that he's more of a Margaret than a David anyway.)

    David: "Hello, and welcome to At The Movies."
    Margaret: "I want to watch the robot one."

    David: "Rodney Copperbottom is a robot with aspirations. Encouraged by his dish-washing father to follow his dreams and become a famous inventor, Rodney sets out to find Mr Bigweld, the famous head of Bigweld Industries, and convince him to take him on. But once in the city, Rodney discovers that Mr Bigweld isn't that easy to find, and that his company has been taken over by Phineas T. Ratchet, a ruthless businessman who is about to stop production of robot spare parts in favour of more profitable 'upgrades'. Any robots who complain about no longer being able to fix themselves are sent to the Chop Shop and shredded. But Rodney remembers Bigweld's motto: "See a need, fill a need", and starts to repair the older robots himself. Needless to say, Ratchet is not going to tolerate this sort of competition.

    The makers of Robots have obviously had a lot of fun creating the bright, lovingly detailed world where everything is mechanical. It's well-paced and not too long, and the stream of gags and catchy tunes should be a hit with the kids without making the parents cringe. The only annoying factor is the unaddressed sexism of the world Robots presents - the female robots are either Stepford Wives or sexbots, the male robots clueless breadwinners. And I don't think I'm being prudish when I say that the scene where the mens and womens toilets are represented by plug and socket symbols is a little crude. What did you think, Margaret?"

    Margaret: "I want some avacado toast."
    David: "What did you think of the movie?"
    Margaret: "I want some avacado toast."
    David: "What do you say?"
    Margaret: "Please."
    David: "All right. Shall I pause the dvd?"
    Margaret: *shakes head*

    David *makes toast*
    Margaret: "It's Mr Bigweld!"
    David: *looks over shoulder at tv* "Yeah, it is. What's happening here?"
    Margaret: *pause* "I don't know."
    David: *sits back down with avacado toast*

    David: "I find it interesting that corporate entities are increasingly being cast as the villains in modern childrens films, and that a clear message of 'make do and mend' is making a philosophical comeback."
    Margaret: "Hahaha, he farted with his bottom. And they're dancing! I like it when he pushed it over and it went WHOOSH up into the sky, and IT'S MR BIGWELD AGAIN!"

    David: "It's certainly not a lazy example of animated cinema, either. The creative effort that has gone into building this film is impressive, and the bright colour palette really accentuates the inventive detail."
    Margaret: *picks nose*
    David: "Don't pick your nose, Margaret, it'll bleed."
    Margaret: "I like the dancing."
    David: "Ah yes, I've heard the final sequence was laboriously mapped onto human lindy hop dancers to get the movements just right."

    Margaret: "In the bit before, he did a fart.Can we watch it again?"
    David: "Maybe later."

    David: "Three and a half stars from me."

    Poems in the wild #19

     Poem #19 (4 of spades) was released in my beloved Rowden White Library:

    Cranking food
    down my throat
    uncanny tender scraps
    unheimlich manoeuvres
    like a dance step
    make shapes
    nothing like a barbeque.
    Evenings are killing me
    jump off the endnote
    into choirs of lawyers
    The next stage of merely
    players is human
    two point zero.

    Sunday, July 22, 2012

    Poems in the wild #17 is re-released!

    The mysterious finder of poem #17 has re-released my poem and emailed me evidence:

    "Successfully re-released at a lovely little lounge cafe in Nundah. Fingers crossed someone will find it and give it a good home. The journey continues."

    I think this is rather ace.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    Poems in the wild #18

    Poem #18 (2 of spades) was released on the coat donation box in Lygon Court:

    Gather my thighs in a bunch
    sing the songs of hungry girls.
    Stalk clothing stores at lunch.
    If the hanger is wooden,
    I can 't buy the dress.
    If the mannequin is fatter
    I can afford anything.
    Plasticise habits into accents
    approaching diacritical status.
    They're admitted, warding off
    health professionals.
    If hospital was a boutique
    fluffy slippers would shoe the
    next top model. Tie-back gowns
    on the rack
    Two for the price of starving.

    In other news, poem #17 was captured in Queensland! The finder (a fellow librarian!) commented:

    "On arriving at work today at Indooroopilly library I spied a playing card near one of the work stations. Who knew what a delightful treat it would turn out to be. Someone must have found it and handed it in. I was thinking of putting it into a book but our patrons are so lovely that anything they find in a book they always hand back in to us. I'm going to re-release it into the wild. Any requests/suggestions as to where?"

    I like the idea of re-releasing! Perhaps a bookshop would be a good place?

    Poem #20 will travel to Perth with friends, poem #21 is being posted to Wales for release. What larks.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Annie Hall - Woody Allen

    From the favourer: "Annie Hall was Woody Allen's first attempt at adding dramatic heft to his trademark comic-intellectual schtick, and it remains one of his most popular films. I love its wonderful freewheeling style, which mixes Borscht-belt wisecracks, literary allusion, pointed satire, and absurdist humour with a genuine, gentle sweetness. Also, Diane Keaton is brilliant in the title role."

    For quite a long time, I was convinced I didn't like Woody Allen films (especially the ones that had Woody Allen in them). The few I watched  in my early 20s made me really anxious. Having first given up, and then later given some of his other films a go, it seems my initial opinion was influenced by an unerring skill for (unknowingly and randomly) picking films where Allen's neurotic acting manner had reached such critical mass that it took him almost the entire film to finish a sentence.

    So when the favourer nominated Annie Hall as his favourite film, I was...cautiously optimistic.  I won't lie, this optimism was in part influenced by the facts that I was really hungover from the dinner party the night before, my 3 year old son had just left to go to his dad's place, and the favourer suggested watching Annie Hall just before we went to buy fish n chips for dinner. But I don't think my brain was fried.

    Annie Hall charts Alvy Singer's post mortem of his failed relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) and several women before and in between. In a standup-style piece to camera at the very start of the film, Alvy quotes Groucho Marx's line "I would never want to belong to a club that would have someone like me for a member." This, he informs us, sums up his relationships with women.

    In the following "nervous romance", we're taken back through Alvy's relationships with several women, each of them somehow serving their purpose for different phases in Alvy's life. The film was initially intended to be a murder mystery, but later the murder-related scenes were cut out and the film re-created without them (though the leftover was to form the basis of Murder in Manhattan). Annie Hall, played by a wonderfully wide-mouthed, slacks-and-tie-wearing Diane Keaton, is the centrepiece of his neurotic relationships with women: why he lost her, why he tried to win her back, why he couldn't, and what that means for his life and the nature of relationships in general.

    Also, it's really, really funny.

    Diane Keaton is, to put it bluntly, fucking brilliant in this film. She's so irritating and gorgeous and gushing and endearing and awkward and it's hard to not just blindly accept her character as a real person. And really, she's the only point-for-point character match for Allen's anxious, dominating presence on-screen. She also has finally explained why my mother has exclaimed, for as long as I can remember, "Well, la-di-dah!" at various points throughout my life. Small mysteries: solved.

    I'm a big fan of breaking down the fourth wall, if it's done well, or at least surprisingly. It's why Haneke's Funny Games is one of my favourite films, even though it's a bit heavy-handed in what it wants to say. (I may be have been the first person to draw parallels between Funny Games and Annie Hall, for which I both apologise and wave cheerfully.) The gags in Annie Hall are right up my proverbial - from split scenes starring Alvy and Annie's past families (apparently filmed simultaneously in a studio with a dividing wall), to flashbacks in Alvy's classroom where child students speak about their future lives (watching an 8 year old state somberly: "I like leather" made me snort potato cakes out my nose) and the teacher argues with adult Alvy about his juvenile attention to female fellow students. In one of the most pleasing meta scenes, Alvy and an annoying amateur film critic step both out of a cinema queue and the scene to argue over the latter's loud filmic pontificating over Fellini and Marshall McLuhan, and Alvy brings McLuhan himself out to weigh in on the debate:

    I read a review recently that said the Balzac/Fellini/McLuhan references wouldn't have made the cut these days, as no modern watcher would get the references. This makes me a bit sad. While I got the first two, I had to look up the latter, and if anything it increased my enjoyment of the film. Why do we have to know everything in advance, or be catered to as the lowest common filmonenator?

    I will note one thing that confused me about this film. Where are the boobs? The women often have lovely bottoms, and prominent nipples, but boobs? NO BOOBS. Were boobs out of fashion in the late 70s?

    What I loved most about this film, which I think adds to the hilarity of the funny parts, is what the favourer has noted as the genuine sweetness of Annie Hall. As Alvy notes in his Groucho Marx quote at the start, this whole film is about how he can't accept what is right for him at the time that it happens. He rejects acceptance of happiness at each turn, and then chases it in the lost glory of lovely Annie. He can solve this, in his way, with a joke, but it's a bittersweet joke and a sweet-sweet memory. As his last narration says:

    'I realised what a terrific person she was, and...how much fun it was just knowing her; and I...I, thought of that old joke, y'know, the, this...this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, he doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and...but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because, uh, most of us...need the eggs."

    Woody Allen films still make me anxious, but films like Annie Hall highlight the contradictory and necessary nature of relationships in such a funny, inventive, and tender way.

    If you won't belong to the club that will have you, you'll have to be willing to keep to yourself. And speaking personally, I need the eggs.

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Poems in the wild #17

    Poem #17 (8 of hearts) was posted over to @kirsty_l in Queensland for her to release.

    She tweeted: #poemsinthewild #17 released at the bus timetable stand at Brisbane Council Library, Indooroopilly Branch:

    want the balloon on the ceiling
    round and green gone as high
    as it can go. String hangs straight
    down (and straight up).

    a bunch of grapes is a race
    I need more because my mouth
    is smaller, your mouth is big
    sometimes your lips go thin.

    balloons are floating fruit
    if we pop them there's juice
    all over the couch, sticky
    and your lips disappeared.

    we can share the grapes
    and balloons and the juice
    my mouth and your mouth
    pop them in, smiling.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Reading (and watching) your favourites...take two

    As some of you might remember, I originally started this blog as a reading project, to read the 2 favourite books of all my friends and family, and blog about them.

    This went along fine for a while, but my slow reading speed combined with life events like having a child, becoming badly entrenched in anorexia (again), and going through a marriage breakup somewhat de-railed the process. Who would have thought?

    Recently I've been feeling a lot better than I have in a long time (SSRIs and falling in love can work wonders, I tell you). So I'd like to try to start reading your favourites again, as well as doing the various other things I have on the go (like #poemsinthewild).

    I've had to re-jig the reading list, partly as some of the people on the old list I have lost contact with, and also because I've decided just to read your one most favourite book, but add in your most favourite film. With any luck the inclusion of cinema will balance out my slow reading speed, and general brain-creakiness when it comes to reviewing! Stranger things have happened, especially in the last 10 months.

    You can see the growing list of titles at the right of this blog.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Poems in the wild #16

    Poem #16 (7 of diamonds) was released in the Old Law Quad at the University of Melbourne. It ended up being a lyric:

    Mentaling the mentalist
    Spend a penny spend many
    Endless, less than friendless
    The brain it braineth every day
    paineth rain away from Spanish plains
    Entrees mains desserts
    talking hurts
    Fits and spurts of work and kids and
    rubbing together limited quids
    Firing brain cells
    moaning serotonin upswells
    Phoning in sick
    Phoning in nuts
    Phoning in somewhere
    No more cuts.

    Poem #17 has been posted to @kirsty_l for her to release!