21 July 2009

Google Moon Landing

One of the first real subtle Google logos - I like it! Celebrating 40 years since the moon landing.

20 July 2009

The Limits of Control

Ok, I've been saving up things to post since the middle of July, but somehow there never was the time. I'm cheating and back-dating...

The 2009 New Zealand International Film Festival is almost over for another year. My effort of eleven films is, I think, the most I have managed at a film fest before. All the films we saw were great - not a dud among them.

But, the one that blew my mind (and this is strange, because its a film without a real plot) was 'The Limits of Control'. I *adored* this film. Reviews for it are hugely mixed - one reviewer actually says "watching paint dry is more exciting". So, why did this film appeal to me so much??

I got on the net and did some searching - I wanted to know more about the film, and what others thought of it.

Paste Magazine summaries nicely:
The central character in Jim Jarmusch's latest is technically called Lone Man, but his name might as well be Mysterious Badass. Like Forest Whittaker in Ghost Dog, the Lone Man is a disciplined outsider, practicing tai chi and refusing sex. "The universe has no center and no edges," an equally anonymous bossman named French tells him in French (the Creole translator named Creole comically refusing to translate), sending De Bankolé careening across Spain on an unspecified mission.

As the Badass—an existential agent, get it?—does his work, he has self-referential encounters with other anonymous figures: Nude (a very naked Paz De La Huerta), Blonde (Tilda Swinton), Mexican (Gael Garcîa Bernal), American (Bill Murray). Marbling the violent tension of Ghost Dog, possibly Jarmusch's best film, with the pretentious conversations of Coffee and Cigarettes, arguably his worst, The Limits of Control will satisfy a certain kind of film freak.

...It's that kind of film, existing more in dialogue with the eternal cinema (and greater culture) than the audience taking it in.

Which is to say, it’s also exquisite. Nearly every shot by Jarmusch and cinematographer Christopher Doyle is breathtaking. Every lobby the Badass passes through is distinct, each stairwell visually engaging. Likewise, Jarmusch's plot comes with a loaded elegance. Like the Lone Man himself, Jarmusch leaves no clues. One is expected to surrender to De Bankolé's righteousness, a stand-in for Jarmusch, trusting him to deliver resolution.

With a chiseled face as distinct as any of the rooms Jarmusch and Doyle have picked for him, De Bankolé's strong, quiet Lone Man isn't strong enough to bear the episodic non-plot. "Watch out for the guitar," he’s told, and is soon studying cubist six-strings in a Spanish museum (before John Hurt shows up to give him one of his own).

"Watch out for the girl," says someone else. "She's a criss-cross." And perhaps she is. Though naked, De La Huerta serves as the film's dressing, the trappings of convention. But Jarmusch's payoff is as austere and plain as his plot. At least the Badass gets his job done.


Dose.Ca had some nice insight into some of the references made in the film (but still only gave it 3.5 stars):
...Swinton is one of a number of famous faces who arrive, speak their piece (often asking, "Are you interested in . . . ?") and depart, sometimes leaving behind a coded slip of paper in a matchbox. Others through the revolving door include John Hurt, Gael Garcia Bernal and Hiam Abbass. Murray has a small part indeed, and his character's toupee an even smaller part. The credits do not even bother with names: Swinton is "Blonde," Hurt "Guitar," Murray "American" and so on.

Other names are dropped in rather than dropped out. The film's title, for instance, comes from a 1975 essay on mind control by William S. Burroughs. The movie opens with a quote from French poet Arthur Rimbaud's The Drunken Boat. And a prominent sign reading "La vida no vale nada" (life is worth nothing) turns out, upon Googling, to be a 1955 film starring Pedro Infante, and named after an earlier song. Like its characters, furtive men with instrument cases or inscrutable women in unnecessary rainwear, The Limits of Control contains wheels within wheels.

Swinton also references Hitchcock's Suspicion, which might be a clue for unlocking this film. Imagine if you took one of Hitch's classics and scrubbed it of all plot, so that only the mood of foreboding remained, untethered by anything so pedestrian as a storyline. (Jarmusch himself has said: "I always wanted to make . . . a film with suspense but no drama.")...

AV Club had this to say:
In Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits Of Control, Isaach De Bankolé travels quietly through Spain in a crisp blue-magenta suit; his endgame isn’t known until the final stop, but it’s safe enough to assume that he’s a professional of the criminal sort. Each person he meets along the way gives him only the information necessary to take his next step, and the audience doesn’t even get to share in those breadcrumbs, so it knows even less than De Bankolé. Point being, The Limits Of Control is about the journey, both through the varied landscape and architecture of Spain, and through the narrow inventory of Jarmusch’s thematic concerns, from the dislocation and culture clash of a stranger in a strange land to the dismantling of genre expectations. So why does it fail where other Jarmusch films have succeeded?

There are several related answers to that question, the first being the existence of Jarmusch’s brilliant Dead Man, a conceptually similar film that revises the Western instead of deconstructing crime fiction. In both cases, Jarmusch’s denial of two-fisted storytelling makes an outlaw’s journey turn relentlessly inward, and the film evolves into a philosophical reverie across an unfamiliar and often wondrous place. The crucial difference between the two is that Depp’s character is immediately engaging and accessible, one in a long tradition of Jarmuschian fish-out-of-water heroes dating back to John Lurie in Stranger Than Paradise. De Bankolé plays it much too close to the vest.

...The film manages a handful of transcendent moments, like a startlingly dramatic flamenco dance and a vibrant scan of the countryside through a train window, courtesy of the great cinematographer Christopher Doyle. But too much of The Limits Of Control feels canned and airless, so stifled by Jarmusch’s obsessions that it loses all sense of surprise.

Metacritic combines reviews with the ranges being:
Los Angeles Times (Betsy Sharkey): A little like guided meditation with suggestions floated, waiting, left untethered. It's up to you to distill meaning -- which will leave some convinced the director is merely self-indulgent, and others deeply satisfied.

Philadelphia Inquirer (Steven Rea): Almost absurdly quiet and observant, The Limits of Control is about the space between the action, the steps along the way.

Rolling Stone (Peter Travers): Even the great ones hit snags. With The Limits of Control, Jim Jarmsuch gets tangled up in his own deadpan.

Portland Oregonian (Shawn Levy): It's exactly the film Jarmusch wanted to make, but it's also smug, excruciating, borderline pointless. You could call it a deliberate effort to invert the conventions of the thriller; you could also call it, more rightly, a self-deluded disaster.

USA Today (Claudia Puig): It might be that Jarmusch (Broken Flowers) is experimenting with creating a pastiche of dreamlike sequences that audiences can interpret as they wish. Or it may be merely pretension and hubris that fuels such a stylized and insubstantial story.

New York Post (Lou Lumenick): This is one of those movies that's too cool to have a plot.

Wall Street Journal (Joe Morgenstern): Jim Jarmusch's Dada meander, shot by Christopher Doyle, is empty and excruciating -- that's really all you need to know.


I loved it, others hated it, make up your own mind!
The Limits of Control [ imdb ] [ wiki ]
Starring: Isaach De Bankole, Alex Descas, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Gael Garcia Bernal, Bill Murray
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch

19 July 2009

Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monters

From the publisher of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes a new tale of romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities. As our story opens, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon. Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels? This masterful portrait of Regency England blends Jane Austen’s biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting. It’s survival of the fittest—and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!


Have to admit I liked the P & P & Z cover better than this one:



But it gets better! I had NO idea there are *previews* for these books! I kid you not. Have you ever heard of (or seen) a preview for a book before?!

16 July 2009

Gigs - 1 outta 2...

... aint bad. I wish I could go to both, but beggars can't be choosers!

1. White Lies - August 1st (YAY - I have my ticket)
THE STUDIO K RD SATURDAY 1 AUGUST 2009 (Read all about it here)

Secret Sounds and Solid Entertainment are delighted to announce that WHITE LIES will play for the first time in New Zealand at The Studio, Auckland, Saturday August 1st. It’s the right band, at the right time, a truly tantalizing prospect. (An all ages and licensed event.) “maybe, just maybe, on this occasion the reason why the spotlight is shining so brightly on this West London trio is simply down to the quality of their songs, because make no mistake, if To Lose My Life is anything to go by, White Lies have an armoury of them in abundance.” – Drowned In Sound “Epic British Indie reborn!” – Mojo

Harking back to the sonic strains of Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen and Interpol, WHITE LIES have an uncanny knack for penning unforgettable hooklines and insatiable choruses… by the bucketload!

“For all its glum pronouncements of murder, mortality and loss, it’s an ecstatic listen, ponderous party music.” – NME Album Review


2. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks (Don't think I'll be going)
THE STUDIO K RD FRIDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 2009 (Read the release here)

From the day nigh two decades ago when the first scratchy sounds of Pavement floated in the ether above Stockton California, the music of Stephen Malkmus has been the gift that keeps on keepin' on. With their fractured songs, unexpected blasts of feedback, laconic vocals, cryptic literate lyrics, and defiant low-fidelity, Pavement were one of the most influential and distinctive bands to emerge from the American underground in the '90s. After splitting the band in 2000, Malkmus has continued on his merry way, recording four ‘solo’ LPs of occasionally whimsical, often psychedelically poptastic brilliance. His latest, Real Emotional Trash is his second credited to his backing band The Jicks.

Last here for two sold out shows in 2001, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks are joined at the Studio show by The Verlaines – one of the great Dunedin bands to record for the Flying Nun label and whose classic “Death and The Maiden” Malkmus himself covered for the label’s 21st birthday comp Under The Influence. Graeme Downes has reunited The Verlaines for their eighth album, Corporate Moronic, out this month.

11 July 2009

Australia & a stormy night

Yesterday the weather was beautiful. The sun helped to take some of the bite out of the cool winter air. Today was a whooole other story! Stormy and wet; grey and rainy all day.

That didn't stop an early morning movie (Transformers 2) and a quick nip around Queen Street, before hunkering down under a blanket with a few DVDs back at home. Watched: The Spirit (bit of a hoot; cheesy), and Australia.

I kinda wanted to see Australia when it was showing at the movies, then all the average reviews came out and I lowered its priority. I don't always believe what critics say (make your own mind up and all that), and maybe it's the mood I'm in, but I liked Australia. Epic and beautiful. I was pleasantly suprised when 'Such Great Heights' by Postal Service (and the great cover by Iron & Wine) was strummed on a banjo in the middle of the outback. The sweet tune of that song makes a couple of tiny appearances in the film.

Anywho, it's freezing! I'm going to rebundle-myself-up and watch Charlie Bartlett (which has been at the top of my DVD list for AGES).

10 July 2009

Thirty

Well, it's the 10th of July AGAIN. I swear it comes around faster every year.

I had a nice sleep-in this morning, followed an insane amount of lovely text messages :)

Rich, Caitlin, Jan and I had brunch at Cima (mmm pancakes). Caitlin and Jan got me a gorgeous Pandora charm for my bracelet (I now have 11 charms).

Next was some shopping (where I managed to save 10% on my Shiseido products, then get ripped off $10.00 - back to Farmers tomorrow...), and FILM FEST TICKET BUYING!!

I am so excited about the NZFF. The short (aka long) list is:
  1. Red Cliffs (2008 China; John Woo) - Epic tale of the Battle of Red Cliffs in Ancient China
  2. In The Loop (2009 UK; Armando Iannucci) - The US President and UK Prime Minister fancy a war
  3. Moon (2009 USA; Duncan Jones aka Zowie Bowie) - Sam Rockwell's character spends 3 years on the moon. Kevin Spacey voices GERTY, his computer
  4. Ponyo (2008 Japan; Hayao Miyazaki) - An animated adventure centered on a 5-year-old boy and his relationship with a goldfish princess who longs to become human (english dubbed voices include: Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Betty White, Lily Tomlin...)
  5. Thirst (2009 Korea; Chan-wook Park) - A failed medical experiment turns a man of faith into a vampire
  6. The Chaser (2008 Korea; Hong-jin Na) - A detective-turned-pimp races against time to save one of his girls, who has been kidnapped by a serial killer
  7. Wendy & Lucy (2008 USA; Kelly Reichardt) - On her way to Alaska for a job, Wendy stops in a small town, where Lucy, her dog goes missing
  8. Limits of Control (2009 USA, Spain, Japan; Jim Jarmusch) - The story of a mysterious loner, a stranger in the process of completing a criminal job
  9. Dead Snow (2009 Norway; Tommy Wirkola) - A ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students, as they find themselves confronted by an unimaginable menace: Nazi zombies!
  10. Antichrist (2009 Denmark Germany France Sweden Italy Poland; Lars Von Trier) - A grieving couple retreats to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse (I just read the wiki page for this and now am a little scared to be seeing this in a cinema, or for matter of fact, seeing this at all!!)
  11. Coraline 3D (2009 USA; Henry Selick) - An adventurous girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets (voices include: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, Ian McShane...)
If I can get to screenings (work dependant) I am also looking at Adventureland, and Drag Me To Hell. Still, 11 movies isn't too bad (don't even ask me how much that cost!!)

I'm looking forward to tonight: hanging out with friends, a yummy dinner, and watching Sunshine Cleaning.

Thanks for all the FB/text/email

Mxo

05 July 2009

WTF files

Some people just have too much time on their hands... the below was created using only those ANNOYING Windows XP sounds. I'm NOT filing this under music!

03 July 2009

Mister Lonely

Just saw a bizarre preview on the DVD I am about to watch. The preview itself wasn't weird - but the plot concept definitely is. Still, it made me look it up and I think it would be an interesting watch.
Anyway, Mister Lonely (2007), starring Sammantha Morton as Marilyn Monroe and Diego Luna as Michael Jackson (which, by the way, seeing the preview at this time was a strange coincidence!).
Plot? In Paris, a young American who works as a Michael Jackson lookalike meets Marilyn Monroe, who invites him to her commune in Scotland, where she lives with Charlie Chaplin and her daughter, Shirley Temple. Other roles in the film include: the Queen, the Pope, Little Red Riding Hood, Madonna, Abraham Lincoln, and The Three Stooges...

Symphonies

I'm in love with this new song (and clip) by Dan Black

Motivation: Ninji Style

Motivation

01 July 2009

NZFF 2009

My picks for 2009 NZFF:

NZ International Film Festival

11 Jul: Red cliffs
12 Jul: In The Loop
13 Jul: Moon
14 Jul: Ponyo; Thirst
16 Jul: The Chaser
18 Jul: Wendy & Lucy
19 Jul: The Limits of Control
20 Jul: Dead Snow
25 Jul: Antichrist
26 Jul: Coraline 3D