Sunday, August 23, 2009

Be Kind, Rewind

While the rest of you neo-gadget obsessed kids rush to cinemas to view the latest screenings in 3D, I have done the polar opposite by hitting up a factory seconds store in search of an oldschool VHS player.

Blu-ray? HD? 3D? No-D!

I found my trusty little GC480W for a mere 44bucks.

Not that I have anything against restored versions of the classics, but I'm a tad impatient to sit around and wait for them to be released. (I'd much rather sit around and watch them instead!)

Gone are the days where I find near forgotten treasures like The Red Shoes, Ivan The Terrible and Alphaville crammed inbetween the shelves of 791 at uni, collecting dust. The same goes with tempting Ebay listings and JB bargain finds only to discover they're of VHS format.

Sadly, many classic videos sit alone and forgotten in opshops and movie memorabilia stores. These little dudes desperately need a home so quick sticks!

Grab yourself a VHS player and immerse yourself in the nostalgic, albeit grainy, flicks of yesteryear!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Other Home, Sweet Home

As a kid, did you ever feel like escaping?

Well I did. For a whole five hours. I was six years old and had my rucksack packed with food and my piggy bank. I only got as far as the backyard before I pitched my tent out under the stars (And when I say "I", I mean of course, my father).

I tried to sleep but the moon cast scary shadows. Dogs in the distance howled and tree branches leered towards me, scraping the tent like fingers down a chalkboard. I'm not sure how quick I ran back into the house but I was pretty thankful I had a bed to hide under!

It’s fair to say that most people, at sometime in their lives, will feel like escaping the daily grind or play victim to fantasizing themselves in their own oasis.
It’s no different for Coraline Jones.

We find this grouchy, blue haired girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) stubbornly avoiding unpacking her belongings into the new (well, ancient) home that she has moved into, along with her parents who work obsessively, striving to start their own business. Consumed in their work, it has left them distanced from their only child, oblivious to Coraline’s dilemma of being homesick, and, sick of her home.

Having no friends, missing her old ones, being cooped up inside from the miserable rain and sitting down to her dad’s vegetable slop everynight is enough to make anyone want to get on their hands and knees and follow a tiny, trumpet playing mouse through a secret door into a glittering parallel universe!

On the “Other” side, Coraline ventures into a world that is a replica of her own – but better! The weather is beautiful, the garden is blossoming, her annoying crooked necked neighbour Wybie is a mute and then there’s crazy, old Mr. B, the acrobatic Russian with a disturbing festish for cheese, who has transformed his apartment into a magical circus complete with cotton candy cannons.

If it wasn’t for the overly-charming-but-not-quite-right Other Mother (voiced by Teri Hatcher), children would think Coraline had hit the jackpot and would also begin to plot their own escapes by eagerly tearing off the wallpaper to reveal secret doors, or just running full pelt at a brick wall (Just like Platform 9 ¾, but less Harry and more Muggle).

And like any fable of magical, mysterious adventures ('Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'Alice in Wonderland' spring to mind), all is a little bit dark and twisted under the wondrous exteriors. You see (ha, pun), the Other Mother just wants one teensy thing of Coraline’s; her eyes. She bargains with Coraline, promising to sew buttons in their place - a small favour to pay for gifts, daily banquets and endless love and attention. An eye for an eye (or button in this case).

Coraline has been described as too frightening for children and I can see why. As the Other Mother reveals her sinister, twisted side, desperate to own Coralines soul, she gradually transforms from a warm, sophisticated lady into a looming creature, piercing like a praying mantis with menacing teeth and razor sharp talons.

It’s here where the stop-motion animation is the films highest achievement and has been compared to Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. While his name does not appear in the credits, it is speculated that he helped design the characters and the ‘overall’ gothic look of the film. Still, nothing’s set in stone.

Icecubes floating in lemonade, swirling fog, facial expressions, steam from a frypan, shadows and swollen heart shaped flowers are finer details executed in a way that mirrors real life and will have you gasping in your seat.

The score used in this film was quite striking also. Instead of the extravagant, cheesy singing and dancing hoopla churned out for all standard childrens films, Coraline features music that is delicate, haunting and ‘other’ worldly. (See what I did there?)

But then, this is no standard children’s film!
Rating: 4/5


Friday, August 7, 2009

Weird Addiction #34

Aside from the obvious hypnotic powers radiating from newsagencies and paper stands, I have a disturbing habit of burning a hole in my wallet each time I enter a 10metre radius of these places.

Not exactly the most logical thing to do if you're a dollar concious uni student, but my inner geek gets such a rush from these splurges that it requires, nay, insists, that this happens more often then I'd like to admit to.

There's just nothing quite like the shiny, new issue of your favourite magazine(s?) hitting the stands, a hot celebrity or model adorning the covers and big, bold, juicy type demanding your attention. (I always grab them from the back of the pile - less fingers have flicked through those issues!)

So imagine my utmost excitement when I laid eyes on the fresh new issue of Empire, the portal to all things cinema, with a bright, blazin' crest welcoming the Heroes of 2010!

Not only do I get to catch up on the new releases, but I can also peek into what's currently being filmed, despite it still being a little hush-hush. Kicking off the new decade though, is a handful of exciting features from right here in the wonderful land of Oz!

Beautiful Kate, Cedar Boys and Hugo Weaving's Last Ride are all dark, moody and broody and have been received with high regard. Let’s not forget the highly anticipated Balbio either, starring incredible Aussie actor, Anthony LaPaglia!
I wish there were more, but this is a nice start indeed!

Anyway, enough plugging the mag. Just be sure to get yourselves to the cinema and give something back to the Australian film industry.

Now, I'm off to go plant some trees in return for my sweet hoard.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Hitchin' A Ride

What better way to kick off this brand spankin' new blog than to take a moment to acknowledge the very beginnings of the films we see - and just how they came about to have scheduled times!

The Master of Suspense, or Alfred Hitchcock as we common folk all better know him by, was a cinematic genius who's festively plump, rotund figure has become an internationally recognised icon with just a few simple strokes of a paintbrush.

Not bad, eh?

What's more, is this jump-cut ethusiast is the man responsible for insisting cinemas play their releases at certain hours.

You see, back in the old days, flicks were on a reel of continous play that were occasionally followed by news broadcasts, cartoons and advertisements.
That's right, my little movie monsters. You could've bought a ticket just to watch the local weather report and a Bugs Bunny cartoon on your way home from work.

These loops played non-stop and posed two obvious problems; People could come and go whenever they pleased, often missing the crucial openings of the movies they saw, and secondly, lets face it, it was just downright disrespectful to the director as the appointed storyteller, robbing them of their right to show their works the way it was meant to be seen.

So when Hitchcock released his widely acclaimed 'Psycho' in 1960, he demanded cinemas designate the screening to strict timeslots, refusing entry to a patron after the film had begun.

This film is infamous for its frightening twist revealed in its final scenes, one that Hitchcock famously defended, pleading "Don't give away the ending - it's the only one we have!"

Can you imagine if 'The Sixth Sense' was played on a loop where people could just watch the last 30minutes to get the general jist of what happens?

M. Night Shenanigans would've had a coronary.


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