31 Mar 2013



Just to clarify for those who think I am currently dancing to opera on 78 speed after snorting the first white powder I found, my film review was published on Stuff.co.nz. 

Now I know this is stuff, and not Empire, but I'll take it for now. here is the article:


And anyone that feels like commenting on stuff to say how awesome I am,  is free to do so. 

I sincerely thank you again.

26 Mar 2013


 Dear readers, and fans(yes both of you),  I would like to ask you all a favour.
Stuff.co.nz is offering a chance for somebody to review movies for them.  Here is the link:


Well I thought I would throw my hat into the ring. I mean why not? It could mean the start of an exciting new career?

There is no reason not to try. He who dares wins, or at least he who wins can celebrate with a yummy wine.

But what the devil do I submit?

John was considerably more confused than when he saw how much money Clash of the Titans made.
Do I send in an older review, a newer post, or write a review especially for stuff? I am confounded by choice.

To help me please tell me your favourite review? Or suggest a movie I could review, old or new, good or bad. I would really appreciate the assist.

Here is a picture of a baby monkey to emotionally black mail you into helping me

Thanking you in advance.

25 Mar 2013

Wedding Blog II

So despite the teasing of some of my friends, the wedding planning progresses well and fairly much an equal process.

No really.

Fine don't believe me. But it is true.

So my lady and I have been discussing various things; music, flowers, wine, how to pay for all this stuff, and of course the theme of the wedding.  While we are on the same page with everything, I decided to check out some of the most popular themes.

I went onto the great googily engine and looked up themes. Then I found a bunch of weirdoes and got entirely distracted. But it wasn't in vein, I  absolutely know what themes we are not having for our wedding
And here they are:

Rachel does love green, but we are looking for something more traditional and less, well stabby.

Hello Kitty, more like not on your life freaky furries

I have no bloody clue, but no.

Actually this is a maybe for me.

One of the more popular themes I found was the Zombie wedding theme. I suspect this is more of a honeymoon theme.

No,no,no,no,no,no a thousand times no

What could possess you to even consider this?

Lovely in white

Interesting, but the flowers simply don't work.
Yabba Dabba Noooooooo
Call me old fashioned, but I think only the bride should wear a blouse.

Obviously none of these pass the muster. This is one of the most important days of your life, and we are not going to have anything cheesy or trite. 

I have a good friend who had  a medieval wedding, and the photographs look great and it was perfect for them. While we won't being having anything like these themes, seeing all these crazy, medicated, and yes happy people re-enforces that the day will be of our making, something that represents both us, and our life together.

Although I haven't ruled out the pirate one just yet

24 Mar 2013

Oz the great and Powerful

I have and will continue to complain about the studios production choices. Remakes and sequels purely to cash in on previous box office successes, or the perception of a solid financial return.  Of course it has always been that way, and it always will. But I an still going to complain.

However a prequel is interesting, and a strangely under utilised option for a studio.  But is this any better.

Lets find out?


Oz (James Franco) is a magician in a travelling carnival in Kansas. He has dreams of grandeur, a talent for deception, and a love of the ladies. When he 'loves' one lady too many, Oz has to make a quick get away in a hot air balloon. Things go decidedly worse for Oz when his hot air balloon gets swept up in a tornado. Praying for his life Oz begs for a second chance, and is granted one when his balloon lands in a strange new land. There he meets the beautiful Theodora (Mila Kunis)who tells him of a prophecy, a prophecy of a wizard who will come and and save the land and will be king. Theodora believes that Oz is the wizard, as he shares the name of this strange new land. As King he will rule over the land of Oz and revel in its vast riches. Finally he has found the grandeur he has been seeking. All he has to do now is kill the wicked witch.

Let the flying monkey hijinx ensue.

The thing that struck me at once was that not only is Oz the great and powerful  a prequel to  The Wizard of Oz, but it is also a homage. The first part of the film set in Kansas is in black and white, and when the story moves to Oz it is in vivid colour. As in The Wizard of Oz, people from Oz's life in Kansas are represented in Oz.

Sam Raimi of the former Spiderman trilogy directs, and the movies stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weis, Michelle Williams, and Zach Braff. The cast are an esemble of good actors and there are no disappointments. Mila Kunis seems a bit weak, but this could be playing opposite Weis and Franco, or maybe it is a reflection of her range. But she certainly wasn't bad.

I saw the film in 3d, and it really wasn't the better for it. If you have the option just see it in 2D and save your money.

As a prequel, and a story and of course as a film it was a success. Hopefully more and more films like this be made, and less  Clash of the Titans, but I doubt it.

The story was good, the acting was good and we enjoyed it as a family.

6.5 flying Monkeys from me

19 Mar 2013

I give it a year

I wanted to propose to my partner at the Roxy, but I had to have a ruse to get her there. part of that ruse was this movie.  And as you will see it was a, well, an interesting choice.


Nat (the very hot Rose Byrne) and Josh (Rafe Spall) have gotten married after six months.  And no one thinks it will last 12 months. Things get more complicated when Nat has to work with a rich new client, Guy (Simon Baker), and decides to flirt with him to help win his account for her firm. But the more she flirts with Guy the more she becomes attracted to him.

Ensue romantic hijinxs.

The film is pretty much standard fare as far as British romantic comedies go. There are few surprises, and it is certainly not as good as Death at a Funeral. There are a few good laughs, but this is more of a romance than a comedy for me.

The cast perform well, Stephen Merchant and Simon Baker playing familar roles.  Jason Flemyng and Minnie Driver were the stand out performers for me.

The story tried to be a little conventional, and while I would say it succedeed I wasn't overly impressed.

It wasn't bad, it wasn't great, and the best bits may have been in the trailer. This is not a richard Curtis film, but if you like those sorts of movies you will probbaly enjoy this.

Five monkeys from me.

17 Mar 2013

A new post

In this blog I try to write film and book reviews that hopefully you enjoy, and also hopefully give you a sense of whether you would enjoy those films or not. I love films,and stories and books.  They teach us, and entertain us and on occasion transport us all over the world to have conversations with scientists, artists, philosophers, generals and ocaasionally talking bears.

But while films are a major part of my life, that life recently changed.

On the tenth of March 2013 I proposed to my darling girl at the Roxy cinema in Wellington. Caroline who works at the Roxy offered me a bottle of Champagne after my girl accepted my proposal.  I suggested that to be on the safe side she have a bottle of vodka prepped as well, just in case.
Battling baddies was not the scary bit of the proposal

Luckily she said yes, and we had the champagne. And then several glasses of wine to calm our nerves.

In three days we will have been together for three years and in May will will start living together. The decision to propose to her wasn't taken lightly, but it was definitely the right one.

I planned and schemed for the big day, and of course there were several hiccups. I almost didn't get the ring, people were late, Pygmy attacks, but in the end it all went to plan.

The only thing I didn't plan for was what happened next. 

You see for those of you that don't know many women have been planning their wedding day since they were five. Now while that may seem like a misogynist thing to say, or at the very least a cliche, like most cliches it is also true. Case in point, there is a lovely woman at work, lets call her Rocket. Rocket is independent, intelligent, and highly educated. She has absolutely no intention of getting married to her partner. But she tells me that she her entire wedding day mapped out in her mind.
While I was pretending to be a starship Captain, some where there was a little girl plotting
My proposal to my girl has triggered an unstoppable series of events, wheels and biological mechanisms that may in fact  go back to the foundation of our very race.

I am getting married.

This may seem an odd thing to say, but I was completely unprepared for the this concept.

Don't get me wrong I am excited, but the full reality is quite daunting. There are wedding shows, wedding magazines, lists, mores lists, lists about the lists we need.

My girl is a focused, excited and determined bride to be, and while this is so exciting I may have to buy 30 new pairs of boxers, but I wouldn't go on this journey with anyone else.

I have decided to blog my experiences as the husband to be. I am sure there are a thousand blogs about brides, but this is a blog from the husbands point of view. 

I am still going to write about everything I normally do, but I will also give regular updates on our whirligig journey into wedding madness.
Wish me luck!

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is another movie adaptation of the story by  Tolstoy of love, devotion and duty in 19th century Russia. When i saw the shorts for this I knew that this film would be best viewed on the big screen. So my lady and I went to the Lighthouse Brooklyn to see it. They have good wine there.


Anna Karenina (Keira Knightly) is the beautiful wife of respected senior statesman Prince Karenin (Jude Law) in St Petersburg. Her Brother Stiva ( Matthew MacFadyen)  is a a Senior statesman in Moscow, and he is also a cheating on his wife Dolly (Kelly Macdonad) with the nanny. Anna travels to Moscow to see if she can salvage her brothers marriage, which she does so successfully by convincing Dolly that she should forgive Stiva.  She decides to stay in Moscow for a ball in honour of Dollys younger sister Kitty (Alicia Vikander) who hero worships the glamorous Anna.

Meanwhile Kostya Levin (Domhall Gleeson), a wealthy landowner from "the country" ( A can only assume that Tolstoy was a bit of a city boy) arrives in Moscow to resume his courtship of Kitty. Kostya asks his friend Stiva for advice and Stiva warns him that a slimy Cavalry officer, count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), is sniffing around Kitty. Kostya immediately travels to the woman he loves to propose, but Kitty refuses him, for the more dashing Vronsky.

At the ball everyone is expecting the pretty Vrosky to sweep Kitty of her feet, but instead he is infatuated with the older glamorous Anna. Anna is swept up by the young officers passion for her. Kitty is devastated and Anna realising that she has been dancing with Kittys sweet heart for most of Kittys ball, immediately leaves Moscow for home. There she finds that the effeminate spoiled officer has followed her to St Petersberg. There she desperately fought against his advances for about 24 seconds for embarking upon a very public affair.

Ensue infidelity.

I haven't read much Russian literature but Tolstoy reads to me like the Russian land he idolises, long, and arduous. But the film wasn't.

What I liked about it was the production. The scenes of St Petersburg, and Moscow are set in a theatre. Now this confused me at first as I thought the story was set in a theatre, but now the houses are the stage, the streets are back stage, or front of house. Shakespeares quote of life being a stage, driving the feel and look of this film. 

This appears to be a comment on Russian society at the time, more so when Levin leaves Moscow heartbroken and returns to the country. His scenes are shot in the Russian countryside. A reflection at his life is more 'real', than that of the socialites of St Petersburg and Moscow.  It was clever and the director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna) pulled it off with out seeming pretentious.

The cast is a great ensemble of European character actors, Jude Law was very good, but for me Matthew Macfadyen was great. His performance and the production made the whole thing for me.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson has certainly come a long way from  Kickass.

Keira Knightly I have found to be generally disliked by most people I talk to, not sure why. People just find her annoying. Well if that is the case she is type cast in this role. I struggled with this film because the main protagonists, if you can call them that were so self absorbed and horrible. The story is effectively a morality play. People who betray the ones who love them inevitably end up unhappy disliked and hopefully smashed under a train.  If only that was true in real life.

It is not a fun story, but if you want a new and very pretty take on this Tolstoy story then give it a whirl.

Five out of  Ten Russian Monkeys from me

3 Mar 2013


1980 was a seminal year; Alfred Hitchcock died, and John Lennon was gunned down. Ronald Regan took over from Carter and a new era in the cold war began, most of the world rejoiced at the majority black rule in Zimbabwe, once Rhodesia. That last one was a little premature for the people of Zimbabwe of any colour.

I was 7 and was obsessed with Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica. I fell in love with Blondie and Wendy James in my own quiet way, and thought Sting was the coolest man alive. And in Iran 52 Americans were being held hostage. I have no recollection of those events. I barely remember Jimmy Carter being the US president. I do remember images of the Shia militia firing RPGs on the TV, but I don't remember the Americans in Iran.

When I heard about Argo I was initially interested, but when I found out that New Zealand’s contribution to the rescue of the six "house guests" had been removed I was annoyed. I believe I have made explained this before, but allow me to do so again. Many people say to me "It's just a movie!" and while I am passionate about movies, and seriously believe that their capacity to convey ideas is just as powerful as poetry or books or music. So when movies portray historical events then they can influence perceptions to real events, and how they are portrayed adds or changes the story.

Of course any movie based on historic events is as much as an adaptation as a movie of a book. And even the most accurate portrayal will have artistic licence to make some changes to ensure that the narrative has a good pace to keep people engaged for the full 127 minutes, or whatever. But as long as the films narrative is true to the story, then we can all make allowances.

Some good non fictional examples of what I am talking about are The Kings Speech, and U-571. The former had several historical alterations; the presence of high ranking officials when there were not, and the relationship between the King and his therapist, (profanity in front of the king in the thirties?), But overall the films departures are minor, and do not significantly alter anything.

U-571 on the other hand is a complete fabrication. For those of you who do not know, it is the story of an American Submarine crew which captured the first enigma machine. This film not only alters history, but is a complete distortion of history. And unashamedly so. The films writer regrets his part in the film because of how the film detracts from the heroism of the real people involved, instead of celebrating it.

Ben Affleck the film’s director and star, has made several public statements about the depiction of New Zealand and the UK in the film. He has acknowledged he has depicted our involvement unfairly to create a sense of drama. Quote:

"I struggled with this long and hard, because it casts Britain and New Zealand in a way that is not totally fair. But I was setting up a situation where you needed to get a sense that these six people had nowhere else to go. It does not mean to diminish anyone."

But is Argo a mercenary historical travesty or merely artistic licence which unfortunately detracts from our history? And more importantly is it any bloody good?

A synopsis;

1979 and the Shah set up to rule Iran by the CIA has been overthrown, and fled to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Anger at the American involvement amongst the students of Tehran reaches boiling point when they invade the American consulate and take 52 personnel hostages. Six personnel however make it outside via the street access to the visa section.

They take refuge in the Canadian Embassy (not the British) and hide there. Eventually their position becomes untenable and the decision is made to infiltrate them. Several options are proposed; Bicycles to escape on, the escape under the assumed identities of agricultural advisors, or perhaps English language teachers seeking employment. A separate option is floated by CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), A Canadian film crew scouting for a Middle East location. The Bureau reluctantly agrees to this as the best worst plan they have.

Working with his friend John Chambers (John Goodman), a movie makeup artist who created Spock's ears, and worked on Planet of the Apes. Mendez meets Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin); a movie producer who helps them set up a phoney production company, and publically starts work on the production of Argo, a terrible Star Wars rip off. With sufficient publicity disseminated Mendez travels to Turkey and gets a visa to scout locations in Iran. Successful with the visa, Mendez has to convince the six house guests that his plan will work, and then has to make it work.

Ensue escape hijinx.

Argo success as a film comes from not trying to make another Bourne identity, but to highlight the ludicrousness of the circumstances as well as the drama. Bryan Cranston who plays Mendez's superior Jack O'Donnell does a great job in conveying both. Better known as the Dad in Malcolm in the Middle, Cranston is an excellent actor and an excellent foil for Afflecks understated performance. Goodman and Arkin performances while small are very memorable and highly enjoyable.

The production set in the 70's was almost as good as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as capturing the period. For me I feel that Affleck’s direction was far superior than his acting, not that his acting was poor. But Affleck played his part in the film, and while the leading actor, he let others like Arkin, Goodman and Cranston out shine him. I thought his direction was very good, and it is a shame he was snubbed in such a way by not even being nominated for best director in the oscars.  Especially after  Argo  won best film.

The film was very good, I am not sure if it was the best film of last year? I certainly enjoyed Skyfall, and Avengers more, but maybe in different ways. I hope that if people liked the movie they will look into it more and realise our part in these events, certainly Affleck has made public gestures about our involvement. And for that I am appeased. This is definitely not another U-571.

It is a good film, not sure if it is one to keep, and if you have not seen it you can wait for DVD. Is it the best picture of 2012? Certainly a good film across the board. But I will let you decide.

Seven monkeys from me.