Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Project Censored

At the end of each year, the Project Censored website lists their selections for the years’ top 25 censored news stories. These stories received no mention in the mainstream media or were presented by the networks with limited and often misleading information. Details of these newsworthy items could be found on the internet, but in that way, not particularly accessible to the majority of the world’s population who receive their news from mainstream media outlets.

You can view the full list of censored stories at:

Below are three that I found most pertinent and alarming.

El Salvador’s Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror
In July 2007, community leaders and residents who were demonstrating the privatization of El Salvador’s water supply and distribution systems, were arrested by Salvadoran police and held in custody for almost a month. Fourteen people were charged as “terrorists” under El Salvador’s anti-terrorism laws, modelled on the USA Patriot Act. As Project Censored points out, criminalization of political expression and social protest presents a serious danger to the peace and human rights of Salvadorans that were secured after a twelve-year civil war.

Members of El Salvador’s water workers union (SETA) state that privatization of the country’s water would have the same devastating effect on the population as when the telecommunications and electricity sectors came under private ownership. Many workers were fired and forced to reapply for the same positions at lower pay and without benefits. But it seems that the ability to protest such actions of government will not be tolerated under US-backed Salvadoran authority. Salvadorans insist that fighting for water is a right, not a crime - but the quest for global domination by corporation is extending at a rapid rate that only spells doom for those caught in the middle.

Worldwide Slavery
Project Censored reports that twenty-seven million slaves exist in the world today – more than at any time in human history. Globalization, poverty and greed facilitate the growth of slavery and it is not simply confined to the Third World. According to the US Department of Justice, 17,500 new victims are trafficked across American borders every year, with about 800,000 trafficked across international borders. Slavery now rivals drug trafficking and illegal arms trading as the most lucrative criminal enterprise on the planet.

‘Bonded labor’ continues to be the most common form of this insidious racket. An individual can fall under the control of a wealthy person by simply accepting a loan. In impoverished circumstances, it is not that difficult to understand how easy this can happen. When the wealthy patron continues to increase interest and add inflated expenses to the original loan, an individual can remain servile their entire life – sometimes passing the debt onto family members. Despite the efforts of non-governmental abolitionists in liberating slaves, the mainstream media has tip-toed around this problem for some time, seemingly unable to accept that (yes, I’ll say it again) there are more slaves on the planet than at any time in human history.

Japan Questions 9/11 and the Global War on Terror
In the Japanese Parliament in January 2008, during a live television broadcast, Parliament member Yukihisa Fujita openly questioned the validity of the War on Terror and insisted that an investigation into the catalyst – 9/11 – be conducted by Japanese authorities. Even though twenty-four Japanese citizens were killed on 9/11, Fujita made the comment that no mandated criminal investigation had been carried out by the Japanese government.
The Parliament was meeting to debate Japan’s renewed ‘anti-terror laws’, which would result in a commitment of logistical support for coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Fujita felt it was timely and appropriate to discuss the ‘suspicious information’ being uncovered by independent journalists on the internet. Fujita presented slides to demonstrate these arguments and detailed such events of that infamous day including the lack of evidence of a plane crash at the Pentagon, the odd collapse of WTC7 and the preceding day’s insider trading – all details well known to “9/11 Truth” researchers. Incidentally, it was reported by Project Censored last year that the FBI had “no hard evidence linking Osama Bin Laden to 9/11”. This would be hard to accept for most Americans constantly fed statements by the mainstream media for the last seven years that told the contrary.

Author Ed Haas contacted the FBI to ask why Bin Laden’s connection to 9/11 was not mentioned in his profile on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. Haas was promptly told that there was no evidence that could be presented to a grand jury that would convict Bin Laden of the crime! Haas posed the question as to the authenticity of the Bin Laden “confession tape”, released to the public on December 13th 2001. If the tape were authentic, it would provide enough evidence for a conviction. However, the FBI doesn’t seem to think that this is the case, throwing serious doubt on the tape itself, those who presented it as ‘evidence’ and the ethics of the seemingly corrupt mainstream media who continuously flogged the tape on air as proof and justification for the invasion of Afghanistan to “flush out Bin Laden”.

by Max Drake
(Freelance writer and artist for GritFX.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
Ruben Blades, Richard Bradford, Sonia Braga, Julie Carmen, Melanie Griffith, John Heard, Daniel Stern, Chick Vennera & Christopher Walken.
Written by John Nichols & David Ward.
Directed by Robert Redford.

In the beautiful country surrounding Milagro, New Mexico, developers plan to build a resort that will have disastrous consequences for the locals. When a poor bean farmer (Vennera) decides to use the developments’ water supply to irrigate his beanfield, he stirs up a whirlwind of strife that eventually involves the entire town. This whimsical tale has a cast of many talented performers - from Blades as the humdrum town sheriff, to Walken as the company man who attempts to subvert the efforts of the townspeople trying to put a stop to the capitalist plans of big business. Often fanciful, this morally uplifting film is deftly handled by director Redford and buoyed along by a wonderful score by Dave Grusin. Taken from co-screenwriter John Nichol’s novel, this is one of those movies that somewhat slipped through the 80’s cracks - however it still remains one of the decades’ best films.

The Ninth Configuration (1980)
Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Moses Gunn & Robert Loggia.
Written & Directed by William Peter Blatty.

At an old castle used by the US military as an asylum, the inmates are greeted by the arrival of the new head psychiatrist, Colonel Kane (Keach). He proceeds to indulge their whims and many begin to suspect that he is nuttier than they are. But that’s only the beginning of this ‘metaphysical nightmare’, often referred to as the true sequel to The Exorcist. Rarely seen, this incredible film features some of the most brilliant dialogue ever written – an endless barrage of psychological theories pertaining to the existence of good and evil and their place in humanity. Adapted from Blatty’s own novel Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane (the film’s title at one point – see poster above) this classic film features wild performances from all involved, a crazy barroom brawl and a denouement that will knock your socks off. The Ninth Configuration is a must-see for anyone who loves writing and the art of filmmaking, especially those who think they have seen or heard it all.

Embedded File of a Ninth Configuration scene:

The Gate (1987)
Stephen Dorff, Louis Tripp & Christa Denton.
Written by Michael Nankin.
Directed by Tibor Takacs.

Perpetual nobody Stephen Dorff was once close to becoming the next hot thing in Hollywood. Some poor career choices left that option wanting, and he soon disappeared into the B-Grade netherworld. Before all that even happened, he was your typical 80’s teenager opening the gates of hell in his backyard in The Gate, a dodgy addition to the myriad horror films churned out by the studios in the wake of such successes like A Nightmare On Elm Street. According to esteemed critic Leonard Maltin, The Gate came close to topping that Hoffman/Beatty disaster Ishtar in its opening weekend, which gives you an idea of how crap both films were. Cheesy effects and cheesy acting, coupled with a good helping of mozzarella writing made The Gate yet another piece of horror trash that has been relegated to the annuls of film oblivion.


(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)

Update on the Latest GritFX Competition Winner...

On the 1st of December, Jim - aka "The Movie Whore" was pulled from our 'Barrel of Grit' and became the latest GritFX winner! Jim has since selected his prize and has sent us a photo to share with you all.

Jim chose the "Little Alex" design.

Check out "The Movie Whore" Blog today... there's a recent post on William Shatner "The Shatman".


Our Next Competition...
"Guess the number of Jelly Beans in the Jar"

Details on how to enter will be posted early January 2009. Until then, if you haven't become a member of the GritBlog – go do so now! (only GritBLOG community members and GritFX Facebook Page fans can enter the GritFX competitions.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sydney Architecture - a selection of urban photographs...

After my last post of photos, I promised the next collection would be images of Sydney.

When I was a student, I had to evaluate a few of Sydney's most famous buildings and I thought that I had loads of pics I could choose from. As it turns out, I had cut up a lot of these pictures, as seen in the above banner! The collection is therefore only a small one, and as the images have been scanned from old photographic prints (these date before Digital cameras), there is quite a bit of dust on them.

Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House was conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who in 2003 received the Pritzker Prize, architecture's highest honour. The Opera House was formally opened by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, on 20 October 1973.

The project was built in three stages - starting with the podium on 5th December 1958 - making the Opera House a 14 year build. In 1966, Utzon was forced to resign leaving the last stage of the project (the Interior) in the hands of Peter Hall, and in my opinion his absence during this stage is noticable! I must not have been alone for in the late 1990s, the Sydney Opera House Trust began to communicate with Utzon in an attempt to effect a reconciliation, and they succeeded. In 2004, the first interior space rebuilt to an Utzon design was opened, and renamed "The Utzon Room". In April 2007, he proposed a major reconstruction of the Opera Theatre. Utzon died on 29 November 2008.

Queen Victoria Building
Architect George McRae designed the QVB in a Romanesque style to employ a great number of skilled craftsmen who were out of work due to a severe recession. The building was completed in 1898 and named the Queen Victoria Building after the monarch. In 1959, it was threatened with demolition due to steady deterioration, but was saved and restored by Ipoh Ltd at a cost of $86 million over the course of 3 years. Today the QVB is a popular shopping spot in the heart of the business district. This year, Ipoh began a $26 million refurbishment "to keep pace with other commercial buildings in the 21st century". Changes include glass signage, glazed balustrades, new escalators, and new colour schemes. These changes have been described by critics as "kitsch and threatening the heritage values of the historic building." I personally haven't been to the QVB this year, and I'm not sure I want to now!

"The dominant feature is the central dome, consisting of an interior glass dome and a copper-sheathed exterior, topped by a domed cupola." This photo shows the exterior of the dome.

Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre
The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre was officially opened in 1988 (to celebrate Australia's 1988 Bicentenary), with a new section of the centre added for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre is the largest and most technically advanced convention centre in Australia. Both exhibition and convention centre spaces can be configured to suit any type of usage in this fully integrated facility, and its all under the one roof.

Centrepoint Tower
Sydney Tower (also known as the AMP Tower, AMP Centrepoint Tower, Centrepoint Tower or just Centrepoint) is Sydney's tallest free-standing structure, standing 305 m (1,001 ft) above the Sydney CBD (Central Business District). Tower construction began in 1975, and was opened to the public in September 1981. The total cost of construction was AUD$36 million.

After aqisition by AMP, the tower was renamed "AMP Tower" and during the 2000 Sydney Olympics the tower was given a "face-lift" which included an AMP light sign and illuminated Olympic figures, a sight that a lot of locals labelled "vulgar"! After the Westfield Group took over ownership of Centrepoint in December 2001, the name was changed to Sydney Tower... but not before AMP exploited the famous tourist location for their own advertisment!!

"Sydney Tower is a towering testimonial to the work of architect Donald Crone whose vision it was to create this landmark "needle" in the sky." - About.com

1. Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia. Visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/
2. Pods - Forum, Conference, Expo. Visit: http://www.npods.net/VENUE/SydneyExhibitionCentre/tabid/219/Default.aspx
3. Sydney Morning Herald.
4. About.com - Australia/New Zealand Travel. Visit: http://goaustralia.about.com/cs/sydneysightscity1/a/sydneytower1.htm
5. Cox Architects. Visit: http://www.cox.com.au

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'Tis the Season to Sloth & Watch Movies

Happy Holidays everyone!

The latest GritFX monthly article "'Tis the Season to Sloth & Watch Movies" has now gone online. I usually post an overview and the link to the article, but this time I thought that considering it isn't too long, I would post the whole thing here. This way, interested blog readers don't need to leave our blog :) Enjoy...

'Tis the Season to Sloth & Watch Movies
By Wadrick Jones

In Australia, before the advent of Cable TV (we're talking the 80's and 90's), we experienced the so-called 'Non-ratings Period'. This referred to the time proceeding and following Christmas when network television effectively closed down, and reverted to shabby programming. It is still in existence today, yet unnoticed by those who now have Cable. The idea behind this 'non-ratings' stretch was that most people were doing things in December and January other than watching television - people were on holidays and their kids off school, hanging at the beach or catching the latest blockbuster at the air-conditioned local cinema. But in the hot Oz summer, sometimes slothing in front of the tube with a fan coursing humid air across your semi-naked body was the only sensible option...especially if you didn't live near a beach (or a cinema).

For those who were not fans of cricket or tennis (which often went long into the night [after being on all day!]) the viewing choices were slim. I don't know what it is like in other countries, but in Australia we have five network TV channels. Five. With cricket and tennis covering two channels, we were left with the crappy US sitcoms that were offered cheap to our networks for this 'non-ratings' time, re-runs of old movies and horrible home-grown programming. I still remember that horrendous summer in 1989 when I happened to be out in the sun one day during the worst possible burn time (between 11am and 2pm, or so I was told), gallivanting in my buddy's pool sans sunscreen lotion. When I awoke the next day, my shoulders were covered in bulbous puss pockets - second-degree burns, most likely. I spent weeks on the couch in pain, subjected to endless games of tennis like I was some two-bit Alex DeLarge at the end of A Clockwork Orange having my mind washed.

I never go out in the sun without sixteen layers of sunscreen these days. My pale, European flesh needs Kevlar-like protection - and may this be a lesson to all those pale-skinned Euros like myself who may be planning a trip Downunder. Do not display arrogance towards the Aussie sun - it'll bite you on the ass (or on the shoulders).

But I digress...

America's paying citizens enjoyed Cable long before it was offered to we in Australia. Watching American movies with scenes of people flipping through 100 channels made a lot of us in Oz salivate at the prospect of such variety and choice. My weeks-long tennis nightmare may have proven bearable if Cable television was on hand. So it was that video shops in this country operating during the mid-1980's and through the 1990's did a roaring trade over the Christmas period. I watched some of the best Christmas movies I have ever seen after sojourns to the video shop in summer time. Instead of the sickly-sweet feel-good films that were shown each and every year (like those animated Christmas tales which seemed to have nothing actually to do with Christmas except that most of them were set in a snowscape - an identifiable Christmas setting - and 'magical' fare such as Miracle on 34th Street) I loved those films that weren't actually about Christmas but had a Christmas setting. 'Non-Christmas Christmas Films', perhaps you could call them.

John McTiernan's Die Hard (1988) is the ultimate 'Non-Christmas Christmas' film. It's full of those things that you don't usually find in a Christmas film. Bad language, gunfire, terrorists, Agent Johnson and Agent Johnson. But it does have a happy ending. Reluctant hero John McClane (played by Bruce Willis) is estranged from his wife, but travels from New York to Los Angeles to be with her and the kids for the festive season. How nice. McClane is damn sure he ain't gonna let any terrorists spoil his Christmas reunion with the family, so he despatches them like Father Christmas himself would.

'Non-Christmas Christmas' films can also provide clear instruction on appropriate and unappropriate gifts. Just as Die Hard would teach us not to accept an invitation to Nakatomi Plaza for a Christmas Eve party, Joe Dante's Gremlins (1984) tells us that handing your son a Mogwai as a present is one dumb-ass idea. You can't trust a kid to take care of such a weird creature, especially one with the acting skills of Zach Galligan. If you tell a youngster (especially a teenager) to not do something, chances are that the kid will do it anyway - for the idea that it is forbidden is a temptation too strong. Also, kids are sloppy, and won't follow direction. They give the appearance of listening, but most times it's 'in one ear and out the other' (as my mother would say).

Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) lets us know of the dangers of accepting any kind of isolated job during the holiday period. Yeah, sure, the family is together, but someone should have told Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) that Santa doesn't stop by the Overlook Hotel. However, Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon (1987) is a superb treatise on getting the family out of town for the holidays. Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover) should have taken some quality time away from the office - I mean, everyone deserves a holiday, even cops. But they stick around town doing battle with some seriously bad dudes who seem intent on spoiling Christmas.

With the exception of The Shining, all the above films end on a happy note. If you're tired of watching It's A Wonderful Life every Christmas Eve, then I suggest you fill up on pudding and settle in to one of these movies. You'll feel the same sense of Christmas as you would with a traditional Christmas film, but you won't have to stomach the schmaltz on top of that pudding.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"Coastal Charm"... colour photography of some Aussie waterways.

It's been a while since my first post of photos, so I felt it was time for another collection of images.

With the holidays upon us, I am looking forward to spending some time by the many beaches/waterways that I love around here. Therefore, the second collection of images "Coastal Charm" is a selection of colour images taken by myself and Dave in NSW, Australia.

Click on the images to load larger versions...

What to see more photos?
The first collection "On the Road" is a selection of black & white images taken by myself and Dave on the road in NSW, Australia... Coastal + Country Roads. Check them out now.


StepBrothers (2008)
Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen & Adam Scott.
Written by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay.
Directed by Adam McKay.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but the only time I want to see a man’s ballsack in a film is in a porno. I don’t want to be subjected to that sight in a mainstream Hollywood film. Unfortunately, the low-brow comedies perpetuated by the likes of Seth Rogan and Judd Apatow have increasingly turned towards this brand of cheap humour, and it seems the masses love it. But it’s certainly beyond me – call me a prude, but I just don’t find this stuff funny. Being somewhat of a Will Ferrell fan (because of films such as Talladega Nights and Stranger Than Fiction), and witnessing the chemistry he and John C. Reilly displayed in Talladega Nights, StepBrothers came as one massive disappointment. The premise – two 40 year-old unemployed infants still living at home with their single parents, thrown together when the parents marry – seemed funny on paper. But sadly, the writing team of Ferrell, Reilly (story credit) and director Adam McKay have sunk to the bottom of the comedic barrel with this offering.

The X-Files: I Want To Believe (2008)
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, Mitch Pileggi & Billy Connolly.
Written by Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz.
Directed by Chris Carter.

Mulder and Scully are back, but one has to wonder – what in the hell for? This lame entry in the X-Files saga sees Fox Mulder (Duchovny) brought out of hiding by the FBI to help with the disappearance of a Bureau agent. Having much experience with the paranormal, Mulder is the obvious choice to investigate the claims of a supposed psychic (Connolly) who experiences visions of the abduction. Meanwhile, Dana Scully (Anderson) is torn between following Mulder on yet another quest and caring for a young boy with a rare illness in her position as doctor at a Catholic hospital. This could only be described as a fan film, yet it strangely gives fans (such as this reviewer) little of what they would expect. There are no aliens, UFO’s, strange phenomena or weird creatures – in fact, nothing particularly X-File-ish at all. The film plays out like a half-baked detective story, and seems oddly out-of-place with the entire saga. Disappointing for fans - others keep clear.

American Gangster (2007)
Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Josh Brolin, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Carla Gugino, Ruby Dee, Cuba Gooding Jr & Armand Assante.
Written by Steven Zaillian.
Directed by Ridley Scott.

Based on a true story, this slick crime saga follows the rise of Frank Lucas (Washington) from bodyguard to drug kingpin. On his tail is scrupulous cop Richie Roberts (Crowe) who, with a small band of like-minded detectives, sets out to bring Lucas down. Thrown into the mix is a crooked cop (Brolin) after a piece of the Lucas action, Richie’s estranged wife (Gugino) suing for divorce, and a smarmy Italian mafia honcho (a wonderful Assante). Ridley Scott is an accomplished director, having made some wonderful films in his career – hitting his stride recently with great films such as Black Hawk Down and Kingdom Of Heaven. And whilst his trademark slick, dark style is all over American Gangster, one can’t escape the feeling that this is tired ground. We’ve seen this kind of story before. The production design is flawless with its 1970’s garb and gritty street feel, and the writing and acting are superb – but Gangster unfortunately falls into the already overflowing crime film basket and may easily be forgotten with time.


(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dropa – Fact or Fiction?

In 1937, a Chinese archaeologist named Chi Pu Tei discovered strange cave burial sites in the Baian-Kara-Ula mountain range, located in the borderland between China and Tibet. The skeletons found were roughly 4 feet tall, and displayed heads which were considerably larger than their slender frames. In each of the 716 graves, Chi Pu Tei found a stone disk approximately a foot in diameter and almost an inch thick. Chi Pu Tei published his findings stating that the burial sites were made by mountain gorillas and that the disks were placed there by later cultures. Chi Pu Tei was rightfully ridiculed by the Chinese archaeological community for this absurd claim.

The caves themselves had the appearance of being ‘carved’ from the mountain, according to Chi Pu Tei. The walls were squared and glazed and were more akin to an underground system of interlinking tunnels. The disks, upon closer inspection, were inscribed with a strange, unknown writing. In 1962, Chinese scientist Professor Tsum Um Nui managed to partially decode the inscriptions, telling a wild tale of an alien spacecraft that had crashed to Earth. Many of the occupants were hunted and killed by local tribes because of their strange appearance, and with no means to re-build their craft, were stranded on our planet. Indeed, an old Chinese legend describes a race of small, yellow-skinned humanoids, with large heads and slender, frail bodies. Their supposed descendants live in the area of the Baian-Kara-Ula and are of very small stature, encompassing none of the features associated with the Chinese, Mongols or Tibetans.

In 1947, Dr Karyl Robin-Evans travelled through Tibet bound for the “mysterious land of the Dropa”. He met with the Dalai Lama and eventually found the tribe, who were indeed small in stature and of strange appearance. He conversed with a language teacher of the Dropa who told him the same story of an alien race being stranded on Earth. Apparently they had been here roughly 12,000 years ago on an exploration mission, and that another craft had crashed here around 1014AD. Robin-Evans took a photograph of the supposed Dropa leaders (see below) but this seems to be the ONLY photo of this race of people in existence.

Russian scientist W. Saitsew published a paper in 1968 which raised the interest of extraterrestrial visitors in our past. Much of the information published was from the work done by Professor Tsum Um Nui, but included information of the make-up of the stone disks, which had large metallic traces such as cobalt. When the disks were placed on an oscillator, they produced a vibratory hum that suggested the flow of energy. The centre hole in the disks was cut with such precision that it defied explanation, considering the disks were aged at around 12,000 years.

In 1974, Austrian engineer Ernst Wegener was able to photograph two of the disks being displayed in the Banpo Museum in Xian. The museum curator could tell Wegener nothing of the disks, and when Hartwig Hausdorf visited the museum twenty years later, the disks had disappeared. Wegener’s photos are published all over the internet, but their quality is poor, having been taken with an old Polaroid camera. No inscriptions are visible, and while they are as they had been described in the past, the photos are hardly proof of anything.

For this is the problem with the story of the ‘Dropa Stones’ and the small skeletons supposedly found in the mountains of the Baian-Kara-Ula – the lack of proof. It is highly unlikely that Dr Karyl Robin-Evans trekked into Tibet and took only ONE photograph of this mysterious race of people supposedly descended from extra-terrestrials. There might be a logical reason for this, but it escapes this author. The other ‘facts’ of the case are suspect as well – for instance the reported transcription by Tsum Um Nui and the details regarding the properties of the disks. The complete lack of evidence to support a discovery of this magnitude lends credence to the idea that this is all an elaborate hoax. A number of photos have surfaced on the internet claiming to be the skeletal or mummified remains of the Dropa ‘aliens’, but most are proven fakes or from another location on the planet, passed off as ‘Dropa’. And where are the 716 stone disks supposedly discovered by Chi Pu Tei in 1937? Were subsequent expeditions undertaken to recover any disks or skeletal remains that were left behind? It’s a great story, but is it anything more than that…?

Of course, a discovery like this would invariably draw the attention of the world’s governments and it is quite possible that the entire discovery has been quashed. Perhaps the evidence is locked away deep underground in a top secret installation – deemed far too unsettling for the minds of the average person….

by Max Drake
(Freelance writer and artist for GritFX.)

Friday, December 5, 2008


Tropic Thunder (2008)
Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson & Nick Nolte.
Written by Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux & Etan Cohen.
Directed by Ben Stiller.

Any film that features Robert Downey Jr as a negro is worth the price of admission. In Tropic Thunder, Downey Jr plays a lauded Australian actor who undergoes a radical medical procedure to alter his skin pigment for his latest role. That role is a stereotyped US Marine sergeant on a location shoot for a Vietnam War epic. Joined by other prima donna actors including a Hollywood action hero with fading celebrity (Stiller) and a drug-addled star of ridiculous comedies (Black), they are thrown into the jungles for a taste of ‘real’ warfare by their fed-up director. This hilarious film is bound to offend some people – yet it is bad taste with taste (if that’s possible!). Filled with wonderful cameos, film references and hilarious faux trailers and adverts, this comedy goes where no comedy has gone before – straight into the heart of darkness. Get some!

The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006)
Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, Orla Fitzgerald & Liam Cunningham.
Written by Paul Laverty.
Directed by Ken Loach.

The films of Ken Loach are sometimes inflammatory, always intelligent and never compromised. With The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Loach takes us back to the early years of the Irish Republican Army, tracing the years of the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. As a young doctor (Murphy) prepares to leave to work in a London hospital, he witnesses the resistance and beating of a railway official and a conductor by the despicable British soldiers, the Black and Tans. Deciding to stay in Ireland, he joins his brothers’ arm of the IRA and soon becomes a leading figure in the movement. When the Anglo-Irish Treaty is announced, the IRA splits and former friends are soon on opposing sides. Loach tends to let his camera sit at a distance and allow his actors to have the full stage, a method that is used to great effect in this stark, beautifully photographed film. An emotional experience.

The Ruins (2008)
Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Shawn Ashmore, Laura Ramsey.
Written by Scott Smith.
Directed by Carter Smith.

Four friends vacationing in Mexico decide to make a day trip to an archaeological site in the jungle, accompanied by the brother of one of the archaeologists. As with any horror film, this proves to be a big mistake. When they arrive at the ancient Mayan temple and proceed to the top, they find the site curiously empty. Trying to leave, they discover the area has been circled by gun-toting locals who refuse to allow the kids to depart. But that is only the beginning of the nightmare. Nicely shot by Darius Khondji, this taut, often ghastly horror film was written by Scott Smith (A Simple Plan) from his own novel. Well-drawn characters, believable situations and some truly frightening moments combine to make The Ruins a cut-above the typical genre fare – not to mention a potent warning to tourists to stay in the hotel and not go traipsing through an unknown jungle.


(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)

Monday, December 1, 2008


Jim - aka "The Movie Whore" was pulled from our 'Barrel of Grit' and is the latest GritFX winner - congratulations Jim!

He won a FREE GritFX T-Shirt of his choosing... I hope to get a photo of him to share with you all!

Check out "The Movie Whore" Blog today...


Our Next Competition...
"Guess the number of Jelly Beans in the Jar"

Details on how to enter will be posted early January 2009. Until then, if you haven't become a member of the GritBlog – go do so now! (only GritBLOG community members and GritFX Facebook Page fans can enter the GritFX competitions.)



On behalf of the GritFX Team!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Convenient Truth

Former Presidential candidate Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in bringing to light the issue of ‘Global Warming’. Yet the hypocrisy of the award was not lost on some as Gore continued to travel to his speaking engagements in a private jet – a machine which, in one trip across the United States, burned more fuel than the average American family car would in an entire year.
Much criticism of the issue of ‘Global Warming’ has been expressed over the last few years since the release of Gore’s award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Many scientists in many fields have issued statements regarding the state of the planet, saying that any change in climate is due to naturally occurring phenomena and not from the actions of mankind. To suggest that man, in a relatively short time since the beginning of the industrial age, has screwed the planet to such an extent as to what is claimed by Gore and his supporters is sheer lunacy, some say. In the wide expanse of time since the planet was seemingly formed, man’s existence is the equivalent to a grain of sand on One Mile Beach. The planets’ climate shifts – it has always been so and there is nothing we can do about it.

Growing evidence seems to support the idea of naturally occurring climate change. Many of the graphs and illustrations used by Gore in An Inconvenient Truth were used in a way to support the thesis being presented. Yet alternate suggestions for these changes and even alternate data point towards the opposite. For example, the ‘frightening’ claim that the glaciers of the Himalayas – which provide one sixth of the water used by mankind – are vanishing and will have disappeared completely in 25 years seems entirely false. A British study, published by the American Meteorological Society in 2006, found that glaciers are only shrinking in the eastern Himalayas. West, in the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram, glaciers are “thickening and expanding”.

Many scientists argue that if temperatures are rising on one side of the planet, they are dropping on the other side. It is all relative. Botanist David Bellamy, writing in The Australian newspaper earlier this week, points out that 10,000 years ago Australia would have been under ice. Thank goodness for global warming, he says, or we all would not be here. Bellamy and others like him voicing dissent across the globe have been met with vicious hysteria. They are branded ‘paranoid conspiracy theorists’ even though their statements have nothing to do with ‘paranoia’ or ‘conspiracy’. These are learned people who should be heard, not censored for practicing free speech.

Lately, the term ‘Global Warming’ has been replaced by the term ‘Climate Change’. Is this a response to the growing evidence to support the fact that the idea of man-made ‘Global Warming’ is a bald-faced lie, perpetuated by a select group of people with a particular agenda? There is no denying that the planet is experiencing climate change, but given the knowledge that it is merely the earth doing its’ thing, why are governments across the world creating legislation (including taxation) to combat an issue which simply cannot be overcome? What is the proposed plan of action for a problem that doesn’t exist? Any move to reduce toxic emissions into the atmosphere is definitely a good thing, but not through the use of baseless fearmongering.

If the knowledge that climate change is not the cause of man, what is the possible agenda to ignore the evidence and create solutions for a non-existent problem? That is the question worth asking.

by Max Drake

(Sources: The Australian; The Telegraph (UK). Read the articles at:
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0%2C25197%2C24700827-7583%2C00.html and
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/11/23/do2310b.xml )

Sunday, November 23, 2008


The Dark Knight (2008)
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal & Morgan Freeman.
Written by Christopher Nolan & Jonathan Nolan.
Directed by Christopher Nolan.

With the release of director Nolan’s Batman Begins, audiences and Batman fans in general were salivating at the re-imagining of a very dark tale. With the sequel, Nolan returns with an equally dark film, yet this time, somewhat more oppressive and less enjoyable. As the Joker (Ledger) revels in a sadistic wave of violence, Batman (Bale) considers a Gotham free of his services. This hope comes from Harvey Dent (Eckhart), a fearless prosecutor who spits in the face of organized crime. Much was said of Ledger’s performance in this film, especially after his death, and his overblown theatrics serve the movie well. But at almost two and half hours, The Dark Knight begins to lose momentum and limps along in the final reel to an expected ending.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Michael Clarke Duncan, Amy Adams, Gary Cole & Sacha Baron Cohen.
Written by Adam McKay & Will Ferrell.
Directed by Adam McKay.

Following on the heels of films such as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights presents Ferrell in all his whacked-out glory. The success of these comedies relies heavily on the characterisations of the performers, and watching these actors do their comedic thing is a true guilty pleasure for some, and a total turn-off for others. It’s all a matter of taste, I guess. In Talladega Nights, Ferrell plays a NASCAR champion humiliated on the track by a French Formula One ace (Cohen). When his career seems over, he is given some encouragement by his estranged, boozehound father (an hilarious Cole). Admittedly, the film has some decidedly flat moments, but overall, Ricky Bobby is utterly infectious.

Prom Night (2008)
Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Jonathan Schaech, Jessica Stroup.
Written by J.S. Cardone.
Directed by Nelson McCormick.

Here’s a good idea – let’s remake a film that was absolute crap the first time around and not do anything to improve it. In the 1980’s, audiences were treated to the original Prom Night and it’s rhyming sequel Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2, and then some years later, two more direct-to-video sequels. All four films typified what was wrong with the influx of cheap horror films in the 80’s particularly, and the remake typifies the kind of morally vacant and audience-contempt trash being released by the bucketload today. If you could distinguish a story from this mess, it would involve a group of murder-ripe teens at their high school prom being stalked by a crazed former teacher (played with wooden aplomb by Schaech). A good horror film will have the audience caring about and involved with the characters within the first five minutes, and this film fails miserably in that department thanks to some Amateur Hour writing. Oh yeah…and it’s important to make your horror movie scary too. Watch the rain instead.


(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)

Friday, November 14, 2008


Hancock (2008)
Will Smith, Charlize Theron & Jason Bateman.
Written by Vince Gilligan (& Vincent Ngo).
Directed by Peter Berg.

Hancock is a drunk who also happens to have extraordinary powers. His total disregard for public property means that every time he nabs the bad guys, he creates damage of some magnitude – which hasn’t helped his public image. When he is afforded direction and some decent publicity from Bateman, Hancock attempts to become the hero he was destined to be. The first half of this film is a clever alternate take on the superhero story, but when the film takes a dramatic tone shift in the second half, one is left wondering what the filmmakers’ intentions were. For what could have been an entertaining action comedy quickly becomes a messy hybrid that is ultimately disappointing.

Half Nelson (2006)
Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps & Anthony Mackie.
Written by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.
Directed by Ryan Fleck.

Ryan Gosling is one of the best young actors working today, consistently delivering excellent performances. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for Half Nelson, where he portrays a drug-addicted teacher in an inner city school. He is not a miscreant and it is apparent he cares for his charges, taking a particular interest in the plight of one young student (Epps). But when she discovers him in a stoned stupor inside the school locker room, it soon becomes clear that these two people need to help each other. This subtle film is shot in a candid documentary style and unfolds slowly, revealing a depth of character that is rarely seen in a Hollywood film, no matter how ‘independent’.

Iron Man (2008)
Robert Downey Jr, Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow & Jeff Bridges.
Written by John August.
Directed by Jon Favreau.

Downey Jr is absolutely perfect as Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist whose weapons have wreaked destruction across the globe. After delivering a weapons presentation to military personnel in Afghanistan, Stark is kidnapped by terrorists and coerced into building them a missile. Instead, he builds an iron suit with which he busts out of his cave prison in spectacular style. When he returns home with an altered mindset towards his work, he incurs the ire of business partner Bridges. This highly entertaining film, based on the Marvel comic, features great performances and some knockout CGI – for once used to enhance the story rather than destroy it. Kudos also go to actor/director Favreau for at last filming some action scenes that we can actually follow (take note Paul Greengrass and Mike Bay).


(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When you have nothing to say - let images do the talking...

It's been a very busy week for most of the GritFX team... and I can't believe that it's almost a week between posts!

Well... Wadrick chose not to work this week - that guy walks to his own beat... but will probably have more film reviews up tomorrow.

Max has been caugth up in the US election - which he chooses not to write about... even though I would consider some political pieces "weird stuff"! There's always something odd around - so I'm sure he'll be posting again soon.

As for me - not much to say other than I've been totally addicted to scanning in old images that date BDC (Before Digital Cameras) and sharing them on facebook.

This first collection "On the Road" is a selection of black & white images taken by myself and Dave on the road in NSW, Australia... Coastal + Country Roads.

Feeling displaced...

Where's Wadrick?

Abandoned train line...


Quiet country road... this is me...

Passenger seat perspective...

Lighting strikes!

Isolation is bliss...

Icy Cold!