Thursday, October 25, 2012

Underage X Factor

This will be the most fascinating and mind blowing blog post you will ever read. Fans of the television show, The X Factor, are used to this kind of ridiculous hyperbole: the beautiful looking people pictured below, give us a healthy dose of it every week. Ronan Keating is the worst of the lot, or the best, depending on your point of 
view. I mean they are doing exactly what they are paid to do. Entertain us. I enjoy the X Factor but it's a love hate relationship.

There are a number of things about the show which disturb me, like pepper in my nostrils. One of them is Shiane Hawke. It's a good thing no one reads my blog because I could get into some trouble here.

This girl can sing. I'm not questioning her ability, although it will be a few years before she hits her peak and learns to control her God given talent. She's got a good voice. It doesn't particularly float my boat, but she can sing. My problem is she's 14 years old, and I cannot escape the feeling, every time I watch the show, that she is winning votes, and avoiding the harsh criticism of the mentors, because of her age. Nobody wants to see a 14 year old girl fall apart in front of their eyes. My daughter is 14 and she can sing too, but I wouldn't want her on television, and under such intense pressure and scrutiny. It just makes me feel uncomfortable. Even watching her sing sometimes makes me cringe. Adult songs loaded with deep 'life scars' issues being sung by a child who has no experience. I don't like it. If I could vote to kick her off, I would. For her own good.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Whatever it Takes

In the film, The Big Year, Owen Wilson plays a world champion, (of the United States), birdwatcher, or birder as these fanatics call themselves. His hobby has cost him three or four marriages and seriously threatens to derail another one in the film. Jack Black and Steve Martin also play birders who become friends on this mutual quest to break the record for most birds seen in one calendar year in North America.

The film explores the idea of sacrifice. How much do you lose when you pursue one goal with relentless passion? If you want to be the best, what does it cost? Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve your goal? Think before you much are you prepared to do, how far are you prepared to go to get what you want? How do you define success? What are your priorities?
As in life, the characters in the film face very difficult choices about what to do with their time and money, and how to balance competing demands.

Those few who reach the pinnacle of their chosen field of endeavour know the answers to these questions. They've already done it, lived it. Given up things, missed out on things, lost time, lost childhoods, lost relationships, and sometimes even lost themselves in their persistent and single minded hunger for success.

I have never wanted anything that badly. I have never burned sacrificial offerings on the altar of my dreams. I am a writer and I would love to escape the confines of obscurity, but I won't do whatever it takes. I have already put my family first on numerous occasions.  I have put my physical and mental health first. I have had other priorities. Perhaps I will never make it as a writer, never be successful because I am not prepared to do whatever it takes. Then again, maybe that means I am already successful.

I highly recommend the movie by the way. Funny, clever, thought provoking and heart warming. Romantic, in an unconventional way. Beautiful locations and if you like birds, it's a no brainer. I was worried the presence of so many stars might be masking a dud script, and I considered the fact that it was released straight to DVD. However, I liked it a lot.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Spoiling Trailers

Apparently, I have too much time on my hands because I've just spent half an hour watching movie trailers. I've had a very strong feeling for some time now that movie trailers are getting longer. I feel like when I watch a trailer, I am being shown the whole film very quickly. All the big explosions, all the major scenes, the chases, the arguments, the settings, the costume changes, and all the secrets revealed. What is left to see? At the end, I often think to my self...well I've seen that movie now. Is it just me, or are these trailers annoyingly over the top? And worse, in the sense of being longer than they used to be?

 To answer this most perplexing question, I watched the trailers of some of my favourite movies. Ben Hur is the greatest movie of all time. It was made in 1959 so if my theory is correct then the trailer should have been very short, and not have given too much of the film away. Fail. Four minutes! I know it's a 3 hour long movie but still...

Terminator 2 (1991) is unquestionably one of the greatest science fiction action movies ever made. The trailer is only 2 minutes long but still reveals too much of the film. Snippets of all the best bits. Well, I hear you say, isn't that what trailer is supposed to do? Whet your appetite for the main course? T2 had a teaser released before the trailer. The teaser ran for 1:21 and showed you nothing from the film. Brilliant! To me, that is what a trailer should be.

Parenthood (1989) likewise has a teaser which lasts 1:30. It shows you all the main characters, names the actors and has a scene of the family setting up for a photographic portrait which isn't in the movie. Perfect. 
Bruce Almighty(2003) too long, The Matrix (1999) too long, Speed (1994), Scarface (1983) and Die Hard (1988) all too long. I watched these trailers and after 30 seconds, I thought, "That'll do! Don't tell me anymore, don't spoil it. I'm hooked already. When does it open in cinemas? Please don't ruin it for me with a turbo charged condensed version."

Why are they called trailers anyway,when they are shown before the feature film and are actually advertising for the film. I reckon they should be called teasers and they should be short. If you can't sell your film to me in under a minute, preferably in 30 seconds, then your film must suck.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No RegretsNo Regrets by Ace Frehley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anomaly was the name of Ace Frehley's most recent studio release. The title of his autobiography, No Regrets, strikes me as very anomalous. It defies belief that someone who has lived the kind of life described in his book, regrets nothing.

This riveting and at times revolting account of the life of Ace Frehley, (and the birth and rise of one of the greatest bands of all time, KISS) is both entertaining and disturbing.This rock and roll memoir is a literary cliche. Sex, drugs and rock and roll are all here within the pages of No Regrets.

The "Spaceman" (Ace Frehley's character in KISS) seems to have spent most of his days on earth lost in space, and it appears to this reader that despite being a recovering alcoholic and sober for many years now, he is still lost.

Highly recommended, and not just for KISS fans.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chocolate Sauce and Flatpacks

I was going to rip into stingy transnational companies like McDonalds for being so mean with the chocolate sauce on their sundaes, and international sporting venues, like the State Sports Centre at Homebush for making my wife stand outside and finish her Boost juice before allowing her to enter - not to mention the fact that they force you to buy tickets on line and charge a service fee per ticket instead of per transaction - but I decided to go with a positive. Yesterday, on the same day that the aforementioned tragedies occurred, I had my first encounter with another internationally acclaimed company. IKEA.

The Swedish legends of homewares and flatpack furniture are new arrivals on the Australian scene. There are only five stores, and they are only on the east coast but like all new arrivals we have welcomed them with open arms. The nearest store is roughly an hour an half's drive from my place, and was, until yesterday, an undiscovered country.

We had some time to kill between competition and presentation at the NSW Gymnastics championships where my daughter was competing. We went to Rhodes shopping centre and via an inconspicuous shop front we were transported by an escalator into a wonderland. Wow! That's the best I can do. Seriously,we were only window shopping but the range of products, the low prices, the sheer innovation, the brilliant colours, the unique styles...blew us away. Admittedly, after an eternity of following the arrows around through the entire store we were physically exhausted and emotionally drained, but it was inspirational and we spent a bit of money too. Irresistible is a word that comes to mind when I think of some of those amazing products. 

I have heard the cliche about shopping being an experience but until yesterday, I had never experienced it. At the risk of sounding like a commercial for IKEA, I have to say, and you may have picked up on this already, we were super impressed and we will return to spend some more of our hard earned dollars. I saw my dream office there and as I soon as I finally get the book deal that I have been chasing, I will march back into IKEA, and make it mine.