Monday, September 28, 2009

That's Right! GritFX have officially moved...


On September 6th, GritFX T-Shirts, with the help of GritFX buddy Wayne John from Wayne John - Musings of an over-worked programmer, migrated all our blog posts to our new domain.

For those new to the magazine, you can read music and film reviews and other articles by GritFX writers Decoy Spoon, Wadrick Jones and Max Drake (with additional posts by yours truly).

Drop by the GritFX Magazine today!

Please note: the comments area on this blog have been locked... but every post can be found on the Magazine... where you can comment as much as you desire ;)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We’re Moving…

To all our regular readers who may have been wondering why we haven’t posted anything in a few weeks – we are in the process of moving to Wordpress.

Moving sucks, but the process has been smooth so far thanks to the invaluable help and assistance from GritFX buddy Wayne John from Wayne John - Musings of an over-worked programmer.

The new look GritFX Magazine will feature all of our regular writers and contributors (Decoy, Wadrick, Max and Manz), and will be launched at the end of August/beginning of September.

We will post on this blog in a few weeks when the GritFX Magazine is live on the net, and we hope to see all of you there.

The GritHouse Presents…

After months of anticipation, Will (aka Wadrick) has finally (!!!) uploaded The Rookie (Part 2) to The GritHouse – the GritFX YouTube Channel.

The Rookie (Part 2) has been plagued by production setbacks, and some volatile cast members throwing their plastic weight around. However, despite these problems, the concluding film was (in my humble opinion) worth the wait.

You can view the film at The GritHouse, or for those too lazy to visit the channel, below is an embedded file. If you haven’t seen The Rookie (Part 1) or can’t recall what happened (because it’s been so darn long between drinks, Will), visit The GritHouse.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Alaskan Blob

As reported last week by the Anchorage Daily News, a twelve-mile long blob of organic material was discovered floating in the icy Arctic waters off the north coast of Alaska. What was initially thought to be an oil slick is in fact some unknown biological substance or marine organism, thick and gooey and emitting a strong smell.

Gordon Brower, from the North Slope Borough’s Planning and Community Services Department, assembled a team and was joined by the Coast Guard to investigate the substance. He stated that nothing like it had ever been seen in the area before. Brower said the material was “pitch black” when it came into contact with ice, discolouring the ice and clinging to it. Brower and his investigative team also saw jellyfish entangled in the mystery goo and the carcass of a dead goose was handed in to the borough’s wildlife department, with bones and feathers being all that remained of the animal.

But before anyone begins to freak out and think some kind of flesh-eating alien lifeform is floating towards a beach near you, samples of the Alaskan blob have been sent to Anchorage for testing, with results expected this week. If no further information is forthcoming, perhaps we can assume that the substance is indeed a major concern - so much so that the authorities believe information dissemination would create widespread panic…as the alien blob drifts across the globe devouring all in its path…an insidious invasion by a faceless usurper…

…the blob was last seen, moving with the current, north past Barrow.

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

(Source: Anchorage Daily News – “Huge blob of Arctic goo floats past Slope communities” by Don Hunter)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Portrait of a Lady

Camera Critters
"Portrait of a Lady" is this week's "Camera Critters" post. If you want to participate, click on the image above.

We all have plans for the future and one of mine is to create a galley of portraits of all the cats I've loved and adored. With that in mind, I take any opportunity my cats present me with, waiting for the right moment to capture the perfect "portrait" - which, let's face it, can take a while with cats that constantly roll and yawn!

This week Ella decided she'd pose for me - giving me the opportunity to snap a handful of shots, the following two included. My dilemma now is to pick one of these two to be framed - something that's proving to be a hard task!

What are your thoughts? Can you decide which "Portrait of a Lady" you'd enlarge and frame as part of a gallery of kitty portraits?

To view thumbnails of all of my Camera Critter posts, visit the GritFX website.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The Fly (1986)
Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz.
Written by Charles Edward Pogue & David Cronenberg.
Directed by David Cronenberg.

Teleportation. It’s what scientist Seth Brundle (Goldblum) believes will change the course of mankind. And he’s probably right. But before he can unleash the technology onto the world - being unsatisfied with teleporting inanimate objects - he decides to zap himself through his teleportation “pods” in his funky downtown warehouse and inadvertently traps a common house fly inside during the process. Having recombined his molecular structure with that of the fly, he begins a slow metamorphosis into a hideous hybrid – all to the horror of a young writer (Davis) who has been detailing the experiments. At times a black comedy, it is doubtful that an actor other than Jeff Goldblum could have inhabited the character of “Brundlefly” so completely and elevated The Fly to the heights at which it resides (though he is given excellent support from the memorably sleazy John Getz). Director David Cronenberg’s claustrophobic updating of the 1958 film of the same name features the kind of raw, tactile gore that 80s horror was all about, creating an unnerving experience. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Robocop (1987)
Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox, Miguel Ferrer & Dan O’Herlihy.
Written by Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner.
Directed by Paul Verhoeven.

In Detroit in the not too distant future (which, in 1987, would mean about now), things suck. The city is overflowing with crime and corruption, but Omni Consumer Products believe they have the answer to cleaning up the streets. His name is Robocop, a former police officer named Murphy who was viciously gunned down by some nasty thugs, pronounced dead and then reassembled as a robotic crime-fighting force. But there’s a bit of Murphy left inside the organic and metallic frame of this lumbering protector, and that remnant of his former life wants to deal out some bloody justice to the bastards who slew him. In the beginning, the studios apparently (and understandably) baulked at giving the green light to a project called Robocop. But to their surprise, the film was a hit. Combining a sardonic wit with some bad-ass 80s violence, Robocop managed to overcome its seemingly inane title and produce the kind of adolescent fun that many teenage boys and young men crave. Full of colourful performances and a genuine self-assessing humour, Robocop epitomises all that is worthy about escapist entertainment. And I’d buy that for a dollar!

The Shining (1980)
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd & Scatman Crothers.
Written & Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick.

The Overlook Hotel is no place to spend a winter. Jack Torrance (Nicholson) is unfortunately not aware of the imposing doom of the isolated resort, and accepts a job as winter caretaker believing the solitude will help him finish that novel he’s been meaning to write. Accompanying Jack is his wife Wendy (Duvall) and their young son Danny (Lloyd) who exhibits a psychic ability known as “shining”. As the ghostly inhabitants of the hotel begin to reveal themselves to Danny and his father, it becomes clear that Jack is required as a permanent resident of the hotel - the entry pass being the murder of his wife and son. Stanley Kubrick’s film cannot hold a candle to the Stephen King novel on which it is based yet it exists as a separate entity in its own right. Ignoring entire tracts of the novel, Kubrick instead focussed on imagery and his typical theme of dehumanisation. Garnering a fanatical cult status and featuring one of the most incredible locations ever put to film, The Shining is often ambiguous and confusing, but at the same time, a visual treat whose imagery has never been equalled.


If you want to watch any trailers/scenes from films reviewed by Wadrick, visit the GritHouse – the GritFX YouTube Channel – and check out Wadrick's Playlist.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Decoy’s Completely Biased Non-Definitive Guide To Music

The Cure - Disintegration (1989)

This is still hands-down my favourite Cure album. I say ‘still’ because back in my high school days, The Cure were a big fave band for me and my mates. We dug their whole catalogue, but it was great timing that we should witness the release of Disintegration, because after their (partial) dissolution in the wake of Pornography (1982), Robert Smith directed the music toward a more pop-orientated sound, with the hit singles “Lets Go to Bed”, “The Walk” and “The Lovecats”. They reunited with the commercially acclaimed albums The Head on the Door (1985) and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987), which saw further success pop-wise, but Disintegration seemed to be the album we were waiting for. From the gentle opening crash of “Plainsong” the blue/green layers float down and blanket you with sonic sedatives. Ahh…s’just like coming home. Robert Smith’s whispered vocals begin their mournful litany: “I think it’s dark and it looks like rain, you said/ And the wind is blowing like it’s the end of the world, you said/ And it’s so cold, like the cold if you were dead/ And then you smiled for a second”…and those words were like poetry for morose (self absorbed) teenagers, like myself. And even though the lyrics are a bit over-marinated in gothic gloom, they fit the melody and the atmosphere like a glove. He couldn’t sing anything else. Plus I actually think Robert Smith has quite a talent for lyrics. There are some great lines on this album. Another example is the title track, with the lines: “Now that I know that I’m breaking to pieces/ I’ll pull out my heart and I’ll feed it to anyone/ Crying for sympathy/ Crocodiles cry for the love of the crowd and three cheers from everyone”. Not too subtle perhaps, but hey, this album is one long sad dirge (it’s The Cure, we know that going in). Even somewhat brighter songs like “Lovesong” or “Pictures of You” can’t fully step from the alienated (Floyd-flavoured) shade cast by the other songs. But it’s just another reason to love this album - it’s such a cohesive work, sonically and thematically. The spacey keyboards, the flanged guitars, Simon Gallup’s bass-line anchors; they all meld into one thick lava-flow of sound. Maybe the members of The Cure were going through some dark times personally, but they managed to conjure the finest gothic-prog concept album of the modern era.

Nite Jewel - Good Evening (2009)

Nite Jewel is the alias of L.A.-based multimedia artist Ramona Gonzalez, who has been making music with various indie outfits before going solo. (I say solo, but you’ll note that most photos or footage of Nite Jewel reveal the band to be a two-piece). This album of (I assume) homemade electro-pop is on high-rotation at my house, and every time it finishes I just can’t seem to find anything to follow it. So it’s on repeat. (Be thankful you don’t live with me, I’d drive you nuts). And as I hear the opening track “Bottom Rung” take-off, I know I’ve made the right decision. The vocals are treated as such that I can’t make out a single line on the album, and that’s one of the things I love about it. I love that her voice becomes an instrument, and you just love melodies rather than lines. In turn, you give it any sort of narrative, or context. So the songs mean what you want them to mean. (As is the case with all music, I guess. The response being a subjective thing, in the end. But what I mean to say is: Nite Jewel [like other avant instrumental music] somehow manages to be more intimate as a result of its non-verbal twist). This album is couched in that lo-fi, home-recorded vibe, and the intentional fuzziness lends it a subterranean quality that seems to revel in the atmospheric murk. But it doesn’t push you away, it draws you in. There are great ‘songs’ here, like: “Artificial Intelligence” and “What Did He Say”, but I love it as an album - as a group work. It’s dreamy, it’s sludgy, it’s ambient. It’s warm, it’s playful, it’s inviting. But at the same time it’s kinda dark and gloomy too. (Imagine Pocahaunted if they went pop). Like other current neo-dance bands (particularly those on New York’s Italians Do It Better label) like: Glass Candy, Mirage and Chromatics - the music of Nite Jewel seems cosy and well paced. (It sounds truly retro and modern at the same time). It’s danceable, but you don’t have to go busting any moves. Rather, take your time, there’s no need to feel self-conscious, dance slow, just sway, or spin, dance stupid if you want to, this atmosphere is friendly. Some(most)times you don’t dance at all…just sit, have a drink and a chat.

Rodriguez - Cold Fact (1970)

Back in 1995, I ended up at a friend’s house in Sydney, late at night, with a bunch of people sitting around taking turns playing tunes for each other. At one point someone put this on and I was transfixed. ‘Who is this?!’ I asked. I was told his name was Rodriguez and this is his only album, and that he was one of the forgotten troubadours of the late-60s. They said he’d done time in prison, that he’d even written this album while serving time, yada yada yada. He was over-flowing with the romantic myth of a tortured artist. Anyway, I loved the album, and I tracked it down soon after. Most of the stories were wrong as it turns out. Except the part about being one of the forgotten artists of the late-60s. Jesus ‘Sixto’ Rodriguez was born in Detroit, he recorded two albums Cold Fact (1970) and Coming from Reality (1971) and they went largely unnoticed in the U.S. But he gained popularity abroad, namely in South Africa and here in Australia. In those countries he remains an underground legend, still performing shows now and again. (He even toured Australia as the support for Midnight Oil in the early 80s) And it’s something us Aussies should feel kinda proud of. Coz this guy is great. Great songs with great melodies and memorable lyrics delivered by one of the most distinct voices of folk-rock genre. I’ve turned a few people on to him over the years, and invariably they respond to it instantly. It’s full of 60s references, but somehow not really dated. “Sugar Man” opens the album with overt nods to the hippie drug culture, ‘Silver magic ships you carry/ Jumpers, coke, sweet mary jane’. But (like early Dylan) Rodriguez is essentially a moralist. In “Crucify your Mind”, he sings: ‘Was it a huntsman or a player/ That made you pay the cost/ That now assumes relaxed positions/ And prostitutes your loss?/ Were you tortured by your own thirst/ In those pleasures that you seek/ That made you Tom the curious/ That makes you James the weak?’ It’s one of those mythic 60s/70s albums, its amazing (criminal, really) it isn’t more celebrated and renowned. It should be regarded alongside Bringing it All Back Home, and Bridge Over Troubled Water and Tea for the Tillerman and Crosby, Stills & Nash’s first album. That’s a cold fact.

By Decoy Spoon

If you want to hear/see any of the music reviewed by Decoy, visit the GritHouse – the GritFX YouTube Channel – and check out Decoy’s Playlist of music videos.

Happy Huskie

Camera Critters
"Happy Huskie" is this week's "Camera Critters" post. If you want to participate, click on the image above.

It's hard to believe that it's been over a month since my last camera critter post! After a very busy month, I now have some time to blog again... and that makes me smile like this happy Huskie :)

To view thumbnails of all of my Camera Critter posts, visit the GritFX website.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Irony in Advertising

The Consumerist website offers articles related to “consumer culture”, and last week the site featured a selection of amusing ironic adverts from bygone eras. Top 10 Ironic Ads From History was compiled by Carrie McLaren and Jason Torchinsky, who are co-editors of Ad Nauseum: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture.

As mentioned in the article, old cigarette ads are a dime a dozen, but they also happen to be personal favourites of mine – like the one below. According to the ad, “three leading research organizations” surveyed men and women in “every branch of medicine”, asking what brand of cigarette they puffed on. “The brand named most was Camel!”

Because, you see, back in those days, there was a thing called the “T-Zone” – “T” for “Throat” and “T” for “Taste”. “See how your taste responds to the rich, full flavor of Camel’s costlier tobaccos,” boasts the advert. Ahh, I see…cheap tobaccos give you cancer.

….I always preferred Marlboros anyway.

You can view all the crazy old ads in the Consumerist article here:

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

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Milk (2008)
Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Alison Pill & Victor Garber.
Written by Dustin Lance Black.
Directed by Gus Van Sant.

As a disillusioned forty year-old, Harvey Milk (Penn) meets the love of his life Scott (Franco) in a New York subway and the two head for San Francisco. Settling on Castro Street in Eureka Valley and somewhat transforming his working-class neighbourhood, Milk soon decides to run for a position on the city council, hoping to bring to light the discrimination at the time of homosexuals across the country. Following the turbulent years of Harvey Milk’s life in San Francisco until his assassination by resentful conservative councilman Dan White (Brolin) in 1984, Milk is a wonderful film full of pathos and humour. Penn is truly extraordinary as the flamboyant yet gracious title character (“Penn-sational!” to quote my buddy Faystar from the ISeeFilms blog), given excellent support from the entire cast blessed with an Oscar-winning script by Dustin Lance Black. With compassion and flair, director Gus Van Sant has fashioned the best film of his career since his breakthrough masterpiece Drugstore Cowboy, utilising his singular style to full effect.

Right At Your Door (2006)
Mary McCormack, Rory Cochrane, Scott Noyd Jr, Max Kasch.
Written & Directed by Chris Gorak.

A dirty bomb explodes one morning in downtown Los Angeles. Listening to the unfolding events on the radio is a frantic Brad (Cochrane), whose wife Lexi (McCormack) set off to work sometime earlier headed for the now blast area. With martial law imposed and electricity and communications down, Brad begins to seal his house with the help of a stranger seeking refuge, as the toxic cloud of ash begins to move into the suburbs. When Lexi appears hours later, sick and screaming to be let inside her own home, Brad is faced with the unconscionable decision to quarantine his wife outside, and wait for help from the authorities which eventually does not seem forthcoming. Lauded at the Sundance Film Festival a few years back, this well-made and acted low-budget film is still lacking the qualities that could have made it great. It never achieves the tension that it would obviously like from a story laden with such possibilities, and retires into a rhythm that borders on stiff. Even with a taut and unexpected final act, Right At Your Door ultimately remains a disappointingly lacklustre experience.

1408 (2007)
John Cusack, Samuel L Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub.
Written by Matt Greenburg, Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski.
Directed by Mikael Hafstrom.

Mike Enslin (Cusack) is a jaded writer of haunted house guides who receives a mysterious postcard warning him not to stay in the infamous room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel, New York. After being told that the room is perpetually “unavailable”, he enlists the help of his publisher and their attorney and arrangements are made for his stay. Upon arrival, Mike is taken aside by the hotel manager (Jackson) who warns him of the supernatural history of the room (no guest comes out alive!) and implores him to reverse his decision. Thinking the entire scenario is an elaborate ruse Mike soon learns a whole new meaning for the term “late checkout”. Based on a Stephen King short story (always the best choices for the author’s screen adaptations), this well-mounted film benefits from a reliably strong performance from Cusack and some genuine scares. Production design and direction are solid, however, the film loses momentum once it has established its modus operandi and somewhat limps along to its conclusion. Like a hotel room with a great bed but a weak shower, the flaws of 1408 still cannot diminish its enjoyment. Worthwhile.


If you want to watch any trailers/scenes from films reviewed by Wadrick, visit the GritHouse – the GritFX YouTube Channel – and check out Wadrick's Playlist.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Bliss Point

In a new book entitled The End of Overeating, David Kessler - former head of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - suggests that food manufacturers and their scientists devise combinations of sugar, fat and salt to make their products irresistible. Kessler believes that the blame for the rampant increase of obesity and those with weight problems cannot be squared solely at the consumer. Rather, he suggests snacks, cereals and ready-made meals are created by food manufacturers with a specific goal in mind – to act on the reward centres of the brain, triggering the so-called “bliss point” and leaving the unwitting consumer hungry for more.

Kessler was best known for his attacks on the tobacco industry while at the FDA and in an article for The Times Online (UK) by science editor Jonathan Leake, he said that he believed the food industry manipulated their products in the manner that tobacco companies did/do to make their cigarettes more addictive. And while this may not be a new concept to many familiar with the pitfalls of processed foods, that an esteemed member of a former governing body has come forth with such a statement is important. Kessler makes a strong point that society has been shaped so that there is a food outlet on almost every street corner, allowing easy accessibility to unhealthy, “bliss-triggering” products whilst on the other hand organic, healthy foods increase in price and become less available.

By mixing precise combinations of sugar, fat and salt and texture, Kessler believes manufacturers create “hyper-palatable” foods to “stimulate feelings of pleasure”. He lists Heinz tomato ketchup and Starbucks’ Frappucinos as among the thousands of modern foods engineered to trigger the brain’s pleasure centres. Kessler ran the FDA from 1990 to 1997, and is now professor of paediatrics, epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California. He says that most people have a “bliss point” where an individual receives the greatest pleasure from sugar, fat or salt.

“As more sugar is added, food becomes more pleasurable until we reach the bliss point, after which it becomes too sweet and the pleasure drops off, “ Kessler told The Times. The same applies with fat and salt. According to Kessler, the optimum point stimulates a person’s appetite instead of suppressing it. By combining certain quantities of sugar etcetera, the ‘bliss point’ can be consistently stimulated resulting in constant craving.

In 2001, the National Audit Office in Britain released a report stating that 20% of adults were obese – a number that has been estimated at 25% today (no doubt a conservative figure). In 2007, the government’s Foresight report said that modern foods “with their increased palatability and ability to heighten sensory stimulation (emphasis added), drive us to reward ourselves with more food.” Following the 2001 report by the Audit Office, England’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson was so alarmed that he labelled the situation a “health time bomb”. Of course, given all of the above information, proper nutritional education is also of the utmost importance in a motorised society conditioned to believe that there is little time for one to cook or prepare a healthy meal or snack.

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

(Source: The Times Online (UK) – Junk food triggers our ‘bliss point’ by Jonathan Leake)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Misty Mountain Morning....

It's been a long time inbetween photo collection posts for me - it's actually been a while since I did a post of any kind!

Therefore, this morning I decided to rug up and venture out into the country cold and capture some shots of the morning mist. I hope you all enjoy them as much as I enjoyed my morning....

Click on the images to view larger files

by Manz
(To view my other Photo Collections, visit the GritFX website.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crossed Lines

If you’ve ever been disconnected from a phone call made to India, perhaps the photos below will illustrate why. Then again, it’s a wonder those pesky Indian telemarketers can actually get a connection to your home thousands of miles away. These photos, which appeared recently on, clearly display the shabby state of communications in some parts of the world’s second-most populous country.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Zodiac (2007)
Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch & Dermot Mulroney.
Written by James Vanderbilt.
Directed by David Fincher.

He was known as the Zodiac – a psychopath who terrorised San Francisco with a spate of murders beginning in the late 1960s. He sent coded messages and taunting letters to police and to the Chronicle newspaper. And he was never caught. From the outset, the case attracted the attention of a young Chronicle cartoonist named Robert Graysmith, and he spent many obsessive years poring over case files eventually penning a best-selling book. Graysmith declared he had cracked the unsolved case, naming the man he believed responsible for the killings. Based on Graysmith’s book, David Finchers’ long and at times difficult film is nonetheless a visually beautiful piece of work. Detailing (and I mean detailing) the exhaustive investigation and the effect on those involved, Zodiac weaves a serpentine story with an astounding nuance. The cast, production design and direction are all first class, with Fincher providing perhaps his most stylistically impressive film to date. This is, however, an acquired taste, but one of those films that gets better with each subsequent viewing.

Sunshine (2007)
Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Cliff Curtis, Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong & Mark Strong.
Written by Alex Garland.
Directed by Danny Boyle.

Near-classic sci-fi about a small crew of astronauts charged with delivering a nuclear payload to our dying Sun. When they receive a radio transmission emanating from the idle craft of a failed earlier mission, their decision to investigate and what they discover threatens to sabotage mankind’s only chance of survival. Production details are one of the key elements of this film, providing a consistently believable (if fictional) account of life on a spacecraft. The first half of the film expertly introduces its characters and their environment, allowing the audience to identify and become emotionally involved. This is all thanks to the excellent script from Alex Garland and the dramatic skills of Sunshine’s talented cast. The visual effects are some of the most impressive ever created for a film since the advent of CGI, enhancing the story with subtle power in the deliberate manner of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Director Danny Boyle’s often creeping camera affords instant comparisons to Ridley Scott’s 70’s classic Alien, and I would be seriously in error to not also mention the terrific score by John Murphy & Underworld. In all, Sunshine is a work of art, existing in a genre that rarely offers such treats.

Michael Clayton (2007)
George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Merritt Weaver, Robert Prescott, Terry Serpico & Sydney Pollack.
Written & Directed by Tony Gilroy.

Arthur Edens (Wilkinson) is the leading defence attorney in a major civil suit being brought against United Northfield - a multinational agricultural corporation. When he suffers a breakdown (crisis of conscience) during a deposition, his New York law firm sends their fixer Michael Clayton (Clooney) to render damage control. When a memo surfaces that threatens to unravel the case, and not content with Clayton’s assurances regarding Arthur’s mental state, U-North’s sycophantic lead council Karen Crowder (Swinton) murderously decides to deal with the matter herself. Michael Clayton is a magnificent film – dark, smart and complex. This impressive directing debut from Tony Gilroy is a no-holds-barred examination of the corruption of the powerful juxtaposed with the indelible morality of the righteous. Clooney, Wilkinson and Swinton (she won an Oscar for her performance) are tremendous in meaty roles and are afforded excellent support from the entire cast. Slick, tense and written with clarity and a poison pen, Michael Clayton is one of the finest American dramas of this decade.


If you want to watch any trailers/scenes from films reviewed by Wadrick, visit the GritHouse – the GritFX YouTube Channel – and check out Wadrick's Playlist.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Phoenix & The Dust Devil

Wiltshire in England has long been home to some of the most amazing crop circle configurations ever seen. One way of thinking associates the formation of crop circles to electromagnetic energy – that being, waves of energy moving through the globe or along the Earth’s magnetic field, leaving patterns of its waveform on the planet’s surface. Wiltshire is considered by crop circle enthusiasts to be one such hot-spot of electromagnetic energy that exist all over the globe, leading to the frequent formations in the area. Either that, or the most skilled crop circle hoaxists happen to reside in the Wiltshire region.

A recent crop circle was discovered in a barley field in Yatesbury, depicting the mythical phoenix as it rises, reborn, from the ashes. The 400-foot design has had enthusiasts in a spin, sighting other recent formations that seemingly point toward an apocalyptic event due to occur on or around December 21, 2012 – coinciding with the end of the ancient Mayan calendar, a subject receiving much attention in recent years.

Meanwhile, in some parts of the United States, tornadoes are a way if life and during 2008, over 180 twisters ripped through the state of Kansas. Photographer Jim Reed has been capturing natural phenomena for over 15 years and the picture above appeared in this month’s issue of National Geographic. It shows what is known as a “landspout’ – a weak, short-lived and extremely photogenic tornado.

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

(Sources: The Telegraph, UK; National Geographic Society)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Whilst I don’t usually watch Fox News or put much stock in what its “journalists” have to say, an interesting story did appear on Fox8 regarding the memories and nightmares of a young boy named James Leininger. The 11-year-old had held a deep fascination with World War 2 aircraft since he was very young, seeming to show an intimate knowledge of certain planes. When he began to have nightmares and put disturbing wartime images on paper, his parents started to ask questions.

Eventually, as is shown in the video (see link below), his parents became convinced that their son was the reincarnation of a pilot (also named James) shot down by the Japanese. When they tracked down the pilot’s former comrades, the young boy identified them by name, even though they had never met. Subsequently, when James (the boy) was introduced to the sister of James (the pilot), he recognised her and called her by a name she had not been referred to since she was a child. Finally, Japanese filmmakers became involved, inviting the Leininger family to the Asian island to visit the site of the pilot’s death. It was an emotional experience for the boy.

It is an interesting tale, hailed by some as definitive proof of reincarnation. But to sour the story is the fact that the Leininger family have now transcribed the entire sequence of events into a book entitled Soul Survivor. So, to the cynical mind (or those unable to reconcile reincarnation with their beliefs), perhaps this was some elaborate marketing scheme to sell a work of complete fiction. You be the judge.

Watch the short video here:

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

Friday, June 12, 2009


Body Of Lies (2008)
Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Vince Colosimo, Golshifteh Farahani.
Written by William Monahan.
Directed by Ridley Scott.

In the Middle East, CIA operative Roger Ferris (DiCaprio) chases an Islamic extremist responsible for a spate of bombings. In the United States, an agency analyst named Ed Hoffman (Crowe) tracks Ferris’ movements on the ground through a network of communications systems, feeding information and distorting it on his own terms. When Ferris ingratiates himself into the Jordanian intelligence community by eliciting the help of the smarmy head honcho (the brooding Mark Strong), the lines of trust begin to blur. This exceptional film, based on a novel of the same name by David Ignatius, avoids any propagandist stance and features two excellent performances from its lead actors – possibly cementing Leonardo’s position as (arguably) the greatest actor of his generation. His career since the eternally overrated Titanic has been perpetually strong, choosing the kind of roles that have not only showcased his dramatic chops but have allowed the man to grow as an actor. Director Ridley Scott rarely takes a wrong step and again delivers with an intelligent, dramatic and suspenseful film. Highly recommended.

Valkyrie (2008)
Tom Cruise, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Izzard, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann & Terrence Stamp.
Written by Christopher McQuarrie & Nathan Alexander.
Directed by Bryan Singer.

As dissent towards the Fuhrer grows, a disillusioned Nazi colonel named Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise) is enlisted by a group of like-minded individuals to assassinate the German leader and bring an end to World War 2. Whilst plots are organised and foiled, von Stauffenberg realises that loyalties within the Third Reich are not what they seem. This often laughable film is based on true events, but despite some excellent production values, never succeeds to fully engage. Cruise has never been stiffer, and a talented cast are given roles that equate to not much more than clichés (particularly van Houten, who was excellent in the recent Black Book, but whose character here is nothing more than an afterthought). It’s all a little limp really, with a potentially dramatic and serious subject being reduced to the stuff of a poor comic book. Director Singer has again established himself (in my ever humble opinion) as one of the dullest filmmakers in the biz, rendering Valkyrie as unsuccessful as the assassination of Hitler himself.

Gran Torino (2008)
Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Christopher Carley, Ahney Her.
Written by Nick Schenk.
Directed by Clint Eastwood.

Walt Kowalski is a bitter veteran of the Korean War who, when his wife passes, is left to his own devices in the house they shared – all against the wishes and concerns of his family. Initially deriding the advent of Asian immigrants in his once idyllic American street, Walt is eventually won over by their culture and accepted into their community when he saves a young boy named Thao from the will of an Asian gang. Soon, a friendship begins to blossom between Thao and Walt, as the older man attempts to provide direction for the aimless youth – all the while staving off the advances of the boys’ hoodlum cousin. Gran Torino comes close to being singlehandedly sabotaged by its untalented Hmong supporting cast who, fortunately for us, are saved by Eastwood himself. Apparently the goal was to have those of authentic Hmong descent featured in the film, but by insisting on this realism, the filmmakers sacrificed the necessity of acting skill. Yet, despite this distraction, Gran Torino is still a solid film with a wholly satisfying ending and one of the most emotive end credit songs that I have heard in the last few years (co-written, incidentally, by Clint and Kyle Eastwood).


If you want to watch any trailers/scenes from films reviewed by Wadrick, visit the GritHouse – the GritFX YouTube Channel – and check out Wadrick's Playlist.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bird Life (Part 2)

Camera Critters
"Bird Life (Part 2)" is this week's "Camera Critters" post. If you want to participate, click on the image above.

As promised last week, here is Bird Life (Part 2).

To view thumbnails of all of my Camera Critter posts, visit the GritFX website.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tunguska, 1908

On June 30 1908, in a remote region of Siberia near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River, something exploded above the Earth levelling an estimated 80 million trees in a 2,000-kilometre radius. Over a hundred years has passed since the explosion, and a definitive answer as to what constituted the event has been elusive. The most common theory regarding the “Tunguska Event” concerns a burst of air caused by an exploding meteor, asteroid or comet at least 5 kilometres above the surface of the Earth – a theory determined by the available evidence. The energy from the event was estimated to be 1,000 times greater than that recorded from the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 - approximately 10-15 megatons. Eyewitnesses to the event were few, with most reporting the sound of the explosion and subsequent tremors. People hundreds of miles away reportedly were knocked to the ground by the force of the ‘impact’. Others saw the sky “split in two” as fire and a massive windstorm ripped across the surrounding area.

In 1921, Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik led the first recorded expedition to the Tunguska region to investigate the event. Having accepted from local reports that the incident was caused by the impact of a massive meteor, Kulik was surprised at what he found. For there was no impact crater, only a huge area of scorched trees with some in the epicentre that were still standing. Further away, trees were levelled away from the epicentre, lending credence to the theory that an explosion above the Earth had sent an air blast down and horizontally outward. Subsequent expeditions revealed mineral and metal deposits in greater prevalence in comparison to their natural occurrence in the area, meaning that something extraterrestrial had fallen to Earth.

Many theories have of course been expounded in relation to the Tunguska event. A hypothesis put forward in 1973 by two physicists at the University of Texas, made the claim that the event was caused by a small black hole passing through the Earth. However, for this theory to hold water (so to speak), an ‘exit point’ must be determined and discovered at an opposing position on the globe – somewhere in the middle of the North Atlantic. In 2007, scientists from the University of Bologna in Italy made the claim that a lake discovered in the Tunguska region – Lake Cheko - was a possible impact point of the event. Whilst agreeing that the explosion happened above the Earth’s surface, they maintain that a fragment of the meteor/asteroid/whatever did in fact hit the Earth and that the lake has formed over the last century. Certain investigations have lent support to the idea, and a one-metre piece of rock was apparently found at the bottom of the lake via magnetic readings.

A few weeks ago, Yuri Labvin, head of the Tunguska Spatial Phenomenon Foundation, released a statement saying that the explosion was caused by an alien craft intercepting an incoming meteorite or asteroid. Labvin explains that the alien craft destroyed the approaching object by crashing into it and in the process, saved mankind from a cataclysmic event. Labvin has said that pieces of quartz inscribed with ‘strange markings’ were found in the area, and are currently being examined by experts. According to Labvin, these quartz fragments are remnants of the alien craft. However, this crazy theory is subject to any of these supposed pieces of quartz being produced or at the very least, photographed and shown to a sceptical world.

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

For more information on Tunguska visit:

American Idol 2009 Tour T-Shirts

Shop for American Idol 2009 Tour T-Shirts!
American Idol has wound down for a large percentage of those who watched and enjoyed the show. However, for some fans, things are just starting to warm up as we draw closer to the 2009 Live American Idol tour - which kicks off on July 5th in Portland, OR.

With the concerts approaching, Idology T-Shirts have begun the process of adding some 2009 Tour T-Shirts to the shop. Idol Man has started the section off by adding some Tour T-Shirts for Kris Allen and Adam Lambert fans (with some for Danny Gokey & Allison Iraheta coming soon).

If you would like an Idology T-Shirts design that is not set-up with your concert date, please contact Idol Man ( with your request.