Australia

November 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Suzie's Movies

After viewing countless films on a regular basis, cinema fans come to recognize their favorite directors much the way casual movie goers recognize their favorite actors. For me, Clint Eastwood gives us gritty realism, Ron Howard will often show us how even a ‘usual Joe’ can live an exceptional life, Michael Moore will no doubt show us something we would rather not see (or know) and Baz Luhrman… well that usually means I’m coming away from the movie with a headache. Baz Luhrmann gave us “Moulin Rouge” with it’s beautifully color saturated scenes unfortunately edited by what I have often referred to as “a rabid hamster on crack”. He’s a lover of the millisecond edit cut and zips about his movie scenes as if he’s directing on a turbo-charged segway. So it was with reluctance that I sat down in the theater to view Australia. The lure of Hugh Jackman as a cowboy was just too much to resist.

“Australia” takes place in the time frame of World War II. The primary story-line is about a priggish English woman (Nicole Kidman) who comes to Australia to confront her suspected, philandering husband. In her mind, he’s simply not wrapping up business fast enough in arranging the sale of their down under ranch. She travels to the ranch in order to speed up the process only to find, after she arrives, that her husband has been murdered. Finding  herself with an undervalued cattle ranch, 2000 head of cattle and no one to help her drive them to the dock she wonders if coming to this strange, far away land was a mistake.  Enter Hugh Jackman as Drover the driver. Now, to be honest, at this point I got a bit distracted because Hugh Jackman takes his shirt off and all I remember in the way of dialogue was “blah blah blah, NO! NEVER! blah blah blah, Not if you were the last woman on earth! Blah blah blah, something something, Oh look! A kangaroo! Something something ” Then Jackman puts his shirt back on and the movie continues. (Hugh Jackman makes me feel like Homer Simpson eyeing a ham. And no, I have no shame in this regard.)

Our heroine soon finds herself in care of a young, Aboriginal orphan played by new comer Brandon Walters.( Note: Keep an eye out for this kid. He’s a great little actor and has the face of an angel.) She then gets thrown into the position of boss lady of the ranch, and the object of contention with a competing rancher. She withstands numerous trials including a cattle drive through a vast wasteland and  the bombing of Darwin, Australia by the Japanese. It’s a whole lot like “Gone With The Wind” except with Kidman and Jackman in the roles of Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable and substitute WWII for the Civil War. And, just like GWTW, Australia is epic in size and nature with multiple conclusions. They could in fact put out a 2H movie, a 2:20 movie or the as seen in theaters today 2:45 movie depending on where they choose to end the film.

So, do I recommend seeing Australia? Sure, why not? Even though it’s not a fantastic movie it’s a good movie to see on the big screen. It is a beautifully filmed, loving tribute Australia that will, no doubt, make its tourism industry explode. And, like I said earlier, it has Hugh Jackman… as a cowboy… he takes his shirt off. Why aren’t you in line for this yet?

Quantum of Solace

November 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Suzie's Movies

Some movies are judged by what we come away with after viewing them. With a Bond film I think most people go in with certain expectations of what they’ll see, what they experience and how they will be left feeling after all is said and done. You expect action, intrigue, some really cool gadgets, some beautiful women and some great cars. That’s the formula. Well, this Bond film has the same formula but it’s been tweaked a bit. Everything is still there but in different quantities making a bit of a different movie. 

In this Bond flick  our boy James is out for revenge; set on evening a score with those responsible for the death of his last love, Vesper. The trail leads him to  Dominic Greene, a corrupt businessman out to seize the natural resources of third world nations under the guise of a sham environmental group. Villain – wise Greene (played by Mathieu Amalric) was a bit on the anemic side. Not near ‘dastardly’ enough.  Not much offered plot-wise either. But what we don’t get in story-line or intrigue we get in action… lots of action. Action action and more action. In fact, there is so much in the way of car chases, fist fights and explosions that there’s little else. It’s like rushing through a buffet line to get to a cheap dessert  and it is somehow not satisfying. We never have a chance to know any of the characters so we really have no motivation to root for anyone (other than Bond). There’s no pleasure in Bond trouncing the bad guys because we never really see how bad the bad guys are until very late in the film. To detract even more from the film, director, Marc Forester, uses the ever-so-popular hand held camera shoots intended to put the viewer in the action and instead just succeeds in irritating the audience. Forester also uses parallel  sequencing in almost every fight scene (showing alternate action scenes of the same time sequence juxtaposed against each other). Once was a good idea; twice means he just ran out of other  artistic ideas. 

Despite these blunders, the movie still has some redeeming aspects. The Bond girls are beautiful, smart and sexy without being trampy. The cars are pretty OK (an Alpha Romero, an Astin Martin and an aged Peugeot) and there’s a great old motorcycle that looks like either a Bultaco or maybe a Sherco. There are no gadgets in this Bond film but there is a fantastic computer screen made even more marvelous because the technology for them is already on the market . Think iPhone with a four foot screen. Very cool. 

All this is not to say I didn’t have fun watching Quantum of Solace. I did. There were plenty of references to other Bond movies as well as a few nods to Alfred Hitchcock to keep you entertained. And for me, Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever. ( And I thought no one could be better than Sean Connery. ) So all the Bond elements are there, just the proportions were a bit off.  Still, after it was all over and I was on my way home, I found myself unwinding my little Toyota full out in every gear while mentally making plans on where I would put my awesome four foot computer table when I got it. (Who am I kidding?!) In the end Quantum of Solace was a pretty good Bond film, just not as tasty as Casino Royale.

The Changeling

November 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Suzie's Movies

Just in time for Halloween… every mother’s nightmare.

Once again Clint Eastwood takes us to another time and another place to experience another person’s agony. He does this so well. Think “Million Dollar Baby” or “Flags of Our Fathers”.

In Changling we experience the heartbreaking story of  Christine Collins as she searches for her abducted son. Taken from a series of true events known as the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, Mr. Eastwood chooses to tell the bizarre and cruel story surrounding the mother of one of the abducted children rather than focusing on the murderer or his actions. Christine’s ordeal is nightmarish enough in its own right.

Having a child taken away from you is in and of itself a tragedy. To compound Christine’s plight, after five long months of unsuccessfully searching for her son, the Los Angles Police Department stumbles upon an orphaned boy and tries to convince Christine it’s her lost son. While Christine struggles to convince the police department that they have returned an impostor, the police decide that it’s easier to paint Christine as a negligent mother that is trying to shirk her maternal responsibilities. To cover up their own ineptitude they have Christine committed to a mental hospital to shut her up and make the inconvenience go away. (Did I mention this was a true story?) Christine refuses to be silenced and with the help of a radio minister (played by John Malkovich) she is not only released from the hospital but assists in uncovering the ramped corruption in the Los Angles Police Department. The mystery of her son’s whereabouts remained.

There is little to find fault with in Changling. Clint Eastwood always manages to get passionate performances out of his actors and this is no exception. I did find Jeffrey Donovan’s awful Irish accent annoying. Lucky for us, sometimes he used it, sometimes it was forgotten altogether. The real brilliance of this movie is found in the details. Hundreds of tiny details that help make the atmosphere of the 1920s come alive. From an old box of cereal to Ms. Jolie’s period piece wardrobe, hardly a single item was overlooked. You are, for the most part, looking a living aspect of the 1920s. I do think that the scope of this incredibly bizarre event in history was so vast that in trying to trim it down to 140 minutes to make it marketable for theaters we are left with a somewhat choppy feeling movie. But I’ll give Mr. Eastwood a pass on that. He came through for many women when he brought to light the fortitude through  pain in one mother’s heart.

HSOC — Guacamole

November 3, 2008 by  
Filed under Commentary, HSOC

Guacamole

Guacamole

Hi! My name is Guacamole and now a 12 week old male neutered kitten. I was found as a tiny baby, not even weaned yet, in a sealed box with 15 other small kittens. Some were my brothers and sisters, some were from other families. It was cold and we were all hungry. Thankfully we were found and fed and taken in out of the cold. I was the smallest of the crew. My foster mom was afraid I might not even make it once when I stopped eating but I recovered quickly! Now we are all healthy and strong and have grown incredibly affectionate! We all love cuddling and giving kisses but know how to entertain ourselves when necessary too. As with all rescue kitties, it’s is now time for us to strike out and find our new forever homes. I’ll keep you smiling with my silly antics, and love on you when playtime is over. I know you won’t be sorry you chose me – I’ll be your best friend forever if you give me a chance. Call 502.222.7537 and ask to meet me – you’ll be glad you did. This pet is up to date with routine shots.

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