Saturday, January 31, 2009
For those new to the GritBlog, you may not know about Jonesy. He is my eldest of 2 children, and was adopted approximately 5 years ago. I've heard many animal lovers express that "he chose us to be his family", and I have to agree with this sentiment. He was never in a shelter, rather he made friends with another cat that was living in our apartment building - his first steps to being socialised. The moment I saw him, I fell in love and wanted to make sure that he had a decent chance at life.
We got him "fixed"... bye, bye little gonads... and then attempted to find him a home. One plan was to leave him at my folks place while we were away on holidays over summer. This was done with a hope that he would bond with my folks and we would have succeeded in finding him a home. In retrospect, I think he was wise to that, as he would only come back to be fed. Cloaked in darkness, he would creep up to the deck for food (so I was told); that is until we (myself & Dave) arrived to pick him up!
You may be asking, "what does this have to do with this week's camera critters post?" Well, this week I wanted to share some "wild boy" images with you. There's a saying here in Australia "you can take the guy (or girl) out of the west, but you can't take the west out of the guy"... I feel that you could also say that "you can take the cat out of the wild, but you'll never remove the wild within him (or her)" - and these images are my proof.
With respect for all wildlife, I like to keep an eye on him when he's "playing" outside. In doing so, I'm now able to share these images.
This was my pick for "Camera Critters"....I like how you can see his intense stare through the movement of the greenery.
Another shot of him keeping a close eye on the surrounding activity...
And a final photo where you can see his full cheeky face - he had his eye on a bird here also...
The UFO research community has been buzzing after what appear to be two incredible sightings in the last few weeks. Among the myriad encounters that are reported nearly every day across the globe, these two events have prompted many to ask if we, the inhabitants of this planet, are on the verge of a major revelation regarding the UFO phenomenon. Yet there are others who yet again ask for substantial proof of these events (such as a clear photograph or video footage) other than the verbal testimony of eyewitnesses.
Just over a week ago, it was reported that a group of eight Chinese fire-fighters observed an object in Liu Pan Shui City for over an hour. The strange craft was filmed by one of the group and a still frame from the footage was released (see above). Similar craft have been observed in the past and described as “diamond UFO’s” – two rotating cones joined at the base and flashing a range of colours. Twenty minutes of footage was shown to staff at the Liu Pan Shui meteorological bureau. They were at a loss to explain the craft. The footage was then handed to government astronomical departments for further examination.
Many would consider the relegation of the footage to a government body as being the last time it would ever be seen. However, unlike their counterparts in the west, the Chinese media and government are more open to the possibility of alien visitation and regard the UFO phenomenon as fact, not fiction. Many in the UFO community are confident that the footage will soon be made available to the general public.
The other incident occurred in Saudi Arabia, and was reportedly witnessed by millions of people. On the evening of January 7th, a loud noise was heard in the sky and a bright object was observed, east of the capital Riyadh. Locals in the region said they heard an explosion and felt a tremor, indicating the object had crashed to Earth. Many stated it was nothing more than a satellite or meteor, yet others claiming to have seen meteors in the past, disagreed. It was reported that the object was a blue green colour and was discarding what seemed to be laser beams as it moved across the sky.
Again, the incident received no attention from the western media, but the usually conservative Saudi press has given the event much coverage. Many witnesses to the incident feared for their lives and began to pray – such was the magnitude of the sighting. The Saudi government has not released any information regarding the object or its supposed crash, but have reportedly sealed off the area where it was believed to have gone down. Many pictures have surfaced (such as the one below) but have done little to quiet the sceptics due to the camera focus problems that inevitably cloud the UFO issue.
by Max Drake
(Freelance writer and artist for GritFX.)
Friday, January 30, 2009
dEUS - Worse Case Scenario (1994)
Deus should have been HUGE. Three or four years before Radiohead achieved legendary status with OK Computer and came to define the (somewhat clunky) term Meta-Rock, Deus produced this, their debut album, which was already pointing the way forward. Post-punk, post-rock, post-grunge, art-rock, no one really knew what to call it, but it sure was good. The Belgian band had obviously absorbed the soft/loud Pixies thing; the viola drone of The Velvet Underground; the greasy gravelly personas of Tom Waits; the dark dramatics of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds; the subverted grooves of Faith No More; the orchestrated chaos of Sonic Youth; the atmospherics of prog; the literate leanings of REM; and the stadium-size anthems of U2. Some of these trace elements could be found, but this was all done without being derivative at all. Their sound was completely original. Deus sounded like no one except Deus. Lead singer/songwriter Tom Barman wrote some evocative surrealist lyrics about death, drugs, life and loss that were well suited to the albums varied textures. And the other members displayed a restraint and maturity (especially for a debut) that still sounds fresh - never over-doing anything - guitarist Rudy Trouvé and bassist Stef Kamil Carlens always adding the perfect touches to the proceedings. The songs were so well crafted, seeming like a band that had been around for a long time and had developed into this inventive style after years of experimentation. Through songs like “Suds & Soda”, “Worse Case Scenario”, “Let’s Get Lost”, “Hotellounge” and “Great American Nude” we get to witness the sheer diversity of this band. It’s no wonder these songs are still fan favourites; it’s a testament to this masterful (yet sadly underrated) album…and band, of course.
Pocahaunted - Island Diamonds (2008)
Set your delays and reverb dials to eleven folks, and get ready for this implosion of sound that’ll have you falling into yourself, blurring the boundaries of inner and outer as your descent takes the scenic route to the cosmos within. These two Californian girls have been hard at work producing music and releasing it via various indie/DIY labels and gigs, and they’re deservedly starting to gain more recognition for their output. The music is kinda hard to neatly categorise, and I guess a few knee-jerk references would/could be Down-Tempo meets Trance meets Ambient meets Dub meets Noise meets the rhythms of Tribal Ethnic World Music. The music slowly swirls and ebbs and seeps, while the vocals are filtered and fucked-with in a lovely messy manner that renders them just long strange chants that continue to echo throughout the distant saga of each song. They’re reinventing the Wall-of-Sound with a beautifully balanced mix of crowded sound and stark silence. Kinda like the yin-yang effect of slowly pouring milk into unstirred coffee, the ingredients of guitar and percussion become unidentifiable in the whole, and it’s a tasty checkered blend. The first song “Ashes Is White” perfectly illustrates this thing I’m (failing at) describing; sounding like the memory of a backyard Corroboree, where this strange sound is the only souvenir of your mystic experience. And it just rolls on with “Ghetto Ballet” and the rest of the album. Simultaneously, the music makes me think of ‘being outside’, yet it makes me feel like I’m ‘travelling inside my own body’. The kinda thing I imagine would go down a treat at Burning Man, with the right kind of cocktail in your blood-stream inducing some serious religious experiences. Godahaunted.
Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygène (1976)
Setting up his analog synthesisers and various effects generators throughout his kitchen, French electronic composer Jean Michel Jarre home-recorded this landmark album when—besides the slow growing popularity of German bands Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream—there really wasn’t much of a commercial market for electronic music. Little did he know it would go on to sell millions. It would go on to become a classic, and help define and influence the future genres of Electronica, Ambient, Techno, New Age, Trance, Drone etc. Way ahead of it’s time, yet also completely bound by the nascent technology, it remains a very cool listen today. It’s instantly recognisable to most Australians due to its use in Peter Weir’s memorable 1981 film Gallipoli. And even though the film is set in 1915 and follows the fate of two young friends amid the bloodshed of WWI, the thoroughly modern music (of the time) somehow suited the film perfectly, and became as recognisable as any image from the film. The film made great use of the pings! and pows! that pepper “Oxygène (Part II)”, and gave it a context that I’m sure Jarre could never have imagined. Suddenly the sounds became ricocheting bullets and the dull bass beat became the pounding hearts of the terrified young men in the trenches. Over the top of it all was the synth-strings shadowing everything with a spooky veil of breathy cyber-Adagio atmosphere. So whether it’s listening intently through the headphones or slapped on in the background, it’s well worth 40 minutes of your time.
By Decoy Spoon
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt, Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones and Kevin Bacon.
Written by Peter Morgan.
Directed by Ron Howard.
Following on the heels of the much-maligned Cinderella Man and the tawdry ‘suspense’ of The Da Vinci Code, director Ron Howard has fashioned his most entertaining film in years. The improbable basis for such an exciting dramatic film are the 1977 interviews conducted by playboy British TV personality David Frost with the disgraced US President Richard Nixon. When attempts to sell the idea to a major US network fails, Frost decides to raise the money himself and sell the interviews later, a decision which keeps the project on a knife-edge. Unaccustomed to the intricacies of the interview process, Frost initially flounders and the last half of the film plays out like a boxing title fight, substituting words for fists. This drama of personality is wonderfully detailed by a stellar cast, led by two towering performances from Sheen and Langella, and supported by Rockwell and Platt (as two investigators hired by Frost to prepare the interview) and the ever reliable Bacon (as Nixon’s chief of staff Jack Brennan) to name a few. Written by Morgan (The Queen) from his play, Frost/Nixon is a rush of pure cinematic pleasure.
Funny Games (2007)
Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearhart.
Written & Directed by Michael Haneke.
When Hollywood decides to remake a foreign film, it is inevitably of pale comparison to the original. Films such as Wings of Desire (remade as City of Angels) and even the recent flood of Asian horror films remade in America force many to ask what the point is. The obvious answer is money, of course, and an aversion to sub-titles, and Funny Games is another addition in this long line of rehashed films for an ignorant audience. Director Haneke made the original film in Austria – in 1997 it was treated as a minor classic of independent cinema and in some ways, rightfully so - it was brash and unique, and definitely not for the squeamish. The film centres on a husband and wife and their young son who travel to a lakeside getaway. They are soon taken hostage by a pair of young ne’er-do-wells, dressed in a creepy ensemble of white tennis clothes and gloves. They proceed to terrorise the family (and you in the audience) with a series of nasty mind games. None of the actors can be faulted – Watts and Roth are tremendous in difficult roles, and Pitt and Corbet are truly astounding as the young perpetrators. But this is literally a carbon copy of the original film save for the fact that the dialogue is spoken English, so I feel as though I am reviewing the original anyway. So, I guess it depends on whether you wish to ‘read’ the film or not in your decision to watch this or seek out the original version.
Performance Capture by Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Angelina Jolie, Brendan Gleeson, Robin Wright Penn, Alison Lohman and Crispin Glover.
Written by Neil Gaiman & Roger Avary.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Beowulf is a hero who comes to Denmark to slay a monster. When he despatches the creature, he incurs the wrath of her sexy mother. The two create a pact which will eventually come back to bite the ‘Wulf on his ass. Director Zemeckis is a master of the cinematic medium, understanding the virtually limitless possibilities of this artform. An entertaining telling of the epic poem, this visually stunning film manages to also feel hollow at times, thanks largely to the decision to create this film on a computer. It’s tough to imagine why Zemeckis would chose to use this technology (apart from being bored and wishing to experiment), and I can’t help thinking that this a story that would have had much more power if it were filmed on location as a ‘live-action’ film, incorporating CGI. The film has momentum to spare, and at its best has many scenes that are rendered into a sort of surreal reality. Yet at its worst, it displays everything that is wrong with computer-animated films – an all-too obvious lack of realism that is in stark contrast to what this kind of animation attempts to achieve.
(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It's that time again for another collection of images.
Yesterday was Australia Day and I made the most of my day off, spending quite a chunk of it outside.
In doing so, I decided that the next collection should celebrate my natural environment. This collection, titled "Organics", are images that have been taken at various times while I was on holidays in NSW, Australia. (I can't take credit for all of these images, as I suspect that Dave took a few of them - but hey, I taught him everything he knows!)
Click on the images to load larger versions...
What to see more of my photos?
Visit "Manz's Photo Collections" overview page, where you can navigate to the collection that interests you the most.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
I took this image after the massive floods that we had during Australia's long weekend in June 2007. The lake edge is where I once rode my bike as a youngster. On an ordinary day, the shoreline would usually be approximately 50 feet past the tree line, and where you see the birds playing is where the bike track is.
The mood in the area was sombre and residents were shocked by what they saw. One small thing that broke that mood for me, was watching these birds have the time of their lives!
I took a few photos that afternoon, and this was my pick for "Camera Critters".... the break in the water surface is partly the reason for the selection.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Dire Straits - Communiqué (1979)
Though long considered by critics one of the daggiest groups of all time, Dire Straits produced a kind of post-Dylan soft-cock-rock that is still uniquely their own. (I suspect the tennis sweatbands had as much to do with that cynical designation, than just Mark Knopfler’s proclivity for solos). Despite the success of their first single, “Sultans of Swing”, I always felt they were more a mood band than a chart-storming hit machine. Almost prog-esque in some songs (“Telegraph Road”/”Private Investigations”), it’s not surprising they were embraced by the same audience as admirers of late 70s Pink Floyd. Sure, they made some overblown, over-extended guitar-driven songs that can seem over-indulgent and a few hours too long for most modern listeners. And I’m sure their audience was/is 99% white males. But they carved out a corner of the commercial music world for themselves with some great guitar work and top-notch production that was clean and smooth and hard to hate, completely. And I’m not afraid to admit that I still have a soft spot for the Knopf-meister and his bouncy white-sneaker brigade. And for my money, Communique is one of their best. Not as HUGE as Brothers In Arms or Love Over Gold, songs like “News”, “Where Do You Think You're Going?” and “Lady Writer” enable Communique to stand as a totem for the bands’ charm in a more subtle way. And I hold that “Once Upon A Time In The West” deserves some major reassessment as one of the great reggae infused rockers of all time. We can’t let The Police get all the white-reggae glory. Dig it.
Band Aid - Do They Know It’s Christmas? (1984)
Before Live 8, before Live Earth, and (more importantly,) before USA For Africa, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure came together to create Band Aid - an ensemble of popular UK musicians - to record the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to raise money for and awareness of the famine in Ethiopia. The song, penned by Geldof and Ure, is a classic slice of 80s pop, rich with the sonic stylings of the time and as catchy as, I dunno, the common cold. The single, and the accompanying video proved to be a massive success (staying at #1 for five weeks and selling more than 3 million copies in the UK alone) and was a who’s who of 80s pop royalty: Paul Young, Boy George, Bono, Sting, George Michael, Phil Collins, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Paul Weller, Bananarama, you name it. If they were pale, and they were popular, it was a good bet they were in the mix somewhere. The following year America jumped on the righteous bandwagon with USA for Africa and the song “We Are The World”, which I’m sure raised loads of cash for a good cause, and sported another star-studded cast including: Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Lionel Ritchie, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Cyndi Lauper and many others. But the song just wasn’t as good. It was 50 choruses too long for starters, and not half as 80s as the UK pioneer. “We Are The World” came off as heavy-handed and over-cooked, and it sounds more like USA for USA. (And poor old Springsteen would be parodied as the constipated crooner for the next ten years.) Anyway, start singing all you 80s kids…don’t pretend you don’t know the words.
Watch the video here:
and at 1:30 ask yourself: Who let in Bobcat Goldthwait???
USA for Africa - We Are The World
Amy Winehouse - Back To Black (2006)
Much has been said about this album, simply because it’s so damn good. Much has been said about Amy Winehouse too, simply because she’s so damn wild. But you need to put that stuff out of your head and dig this album for what it is, which is one of the best damn soul albums of the modern era, by one of the greatest damn soul singers (and songwriters) of the modern era. Anyone who can come up with lines like: “What kind of fuckery is this?” or “It’s got me addicted/Does more than any dick did” or “Love is a fate resigned/Over futile odds/And laughed at by the Gods/And now the final frame/Love is a losing game”, is a gritty gutter poet that should be celebrated alongside Bukowski in my book. But there are many reasons to love this album. Every song is a winner. It sweeps through the full spectrum of the bittersweet human condition and makes great art out of the paradoxical struggle. It’s sad, yet sweet. It’s tough, yet fragile. It’s dark, yet the vocal melodies are pure sunshine. By taking cues from the legendary jazz sirens like Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday; the Phil Spector girl groups like The Ronettes and The Crystals, then filtering it all through the modern genres of Trip-Hop and R&B and Reggae/Dub/Ska, Amy and her band (The Dap Kings, check out also Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings albums) have conjured up a super seductive fresh brand of post-post-modern old-school cool. So ignore the media’s headlines and gossip and callous dogging of this promising young artist, and get yourself addicted.
By Decoy Spoon
Monday, January 19, 2009
This is Natalie Dylan (a pseudonym). She is a 22 year-old college student who is auctioning her virginity online. That’s right folks – she is selling her hymen to the highest bidder. She sees this as a business opportunity – originally the idea was to pay for a masters degree in Women’s Affairs (yes, you heard right), but since the auction began in July last year, other doors have opened for this enterprising young whore (I mean, lady).
Ms Dylan first rose to infamy last September when she appeared on the misogynistic Howard Stern radio show in the US. So far, the auction has had over 10,000 responses, with bidding reaching US$3.8 million! An unidentified Australian businessman is the leading bidmeister. With that kind of money, who needs a college degree? With the offer to write a book and a possible movie deal in the works (please, nooooo!), Ms Dylan has not set an end date to her auction. Of course not – ya gotta milk it for all it’s worth.
Nat explained she is willing to undergo lie detector tests and gynaecological exams to prove that what she is selling is the real article. She says that she has been approached by all manner of weirdos and lonely guys – from men actually seeking a relationship (which is not on the table – it’s a strictly one-night affair) to others who are excessively graphic in their descriptions of what they would like to do to this young flower should they win the auction. Ms Dylan said the idea came to mind after her own sister paid for her degree by working for a time in a brothel.
Some might find this genius – but it sets a dangerous precedent. I mean, what is next on the horizon? Taboos are no longer taboo, sacred acts no longer sacred, and human dignity is being stripped to the bone without anyone even realising it. But, for fear it may leave me behind, I too am hopping on the ol’ gravy train. So you’ll excuse me while I go list my scrotum on Ebay.
by Max Drake
(Freelance writer and artist for GritFX.)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Above: Self Portrait of my reviewing "Two Year Walk".
Two Year Walk is a book of black & white photography by Deryke Cardenaz.
Whilst some people may feel that a great photograph must have the subject in focus and all elements lit to show every detail, Deryke understands the value of creating mood!! Two Year Walk, which is a collection of images from Deryke's environment (including his hometown in California), takes you to a place where you feel and live the culture without even leaving your home.
This is no typical tourist book! If you're looking for sunny California photos that you may see on postcards - then visit your local tourist outlet. If you want to see a world from the perspective of someone who stops to soak up the oddities that surround us, then Deryke's book is for you. His images are "... saturated with mood" - to quote Kim from the prologue - and I have to agree.
This book will reveal to you a whole new way of seeing this environment. You will be faced with a seedy alleyway that would be overlooked by most; abandoned night roads and a park that will make you feel isolated and alone; cropped and somewhat abstract images that when you really look at them make perfect sense; amazing textures, silhouettes, reflections and shadows; ominous storm clouds; the crazy humor of an artist; and movement... or a lack of it!
The layout of the book also has Deryke pairing up images with captions. This is a nice touch that he's added - giving the readers more of his personality and an insight into what he feels or thinks when he views the shot. "can you see me, jesus?" was perfect for the image in question. (you have to get the book to find out what it is - I can't give everything away!!).
As an Australian who has never had the opportunity to visit "Deryke Land", the book has bridged the gap between complete stranger and voyeur. If I was to fault the book, I would only say that it may give tourists a false confidence to approach the locals on the beach and ask to play their Djembe.
Two Year Walk is available to purchase online through Lulu.
Download version - $7.50
Paperback book - $20.00
Printed: 192 pages, 19.05 cm x 19.05 cm, perfect binding, black and white interior ink.
Most pet owners think very highly of their companions, and I'm not exempt. Do you place your pet up on a pedestal? It would seem that the attention our cats receive have gone to their heads, and they are now taking it upon themselves to sit upon that pedestal :)
I don't mind... where some people have statues in their gardens, we have the animated variety.
This was my pick.... Ella catching some zzzzzz's...
And I couldn't pass up the chance to share these...
Friday, January 16, 2009
I'm pleased to share the news that GritFX have been featured on the Elite Shirt Design blog. The GritFX team were very entertained by the review, which includes the humorous use of "Aussie talk". We were also "stoked" about what the review contained - check it out, there are also some questions that Dave answered on behalf of the team.
Click to go to the review/interview.
What is Elite Shirt Design?
To quote the creator, Shawn (aka Fuzzy), "Elite Shirt Design is a community for Print on Demand (POD) Designers. A place for all POD types (Spreadshirt, Cafepress, Zazzle, RedBubble, etc.) guys and gals to get together and shoot the proverbial ka-ka."
If you are a POD designer, I suggest you take a look.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I'm pleased to post that the "Guess the Number of Jelly Beans in the Jar" GritFX Competition is now open for submissions.
All details on how to enter, along with 4 perspectives of the jelly bean jar, can be found on the GritFX Website.
At the beginning of each week, I will do a post on the GritBlog with all the Blog members who have submitted their guess, with a link to their particular blogs.
Please note: Our competitions are only open to our GritBLOG community members and GritFX Facebook Page Fans - so if you haven't joined, go do so now :)
On the night of February 24th and 25th, 1942, several unidentified flying objects were spotted in the skies above southern California, prompting an artillery assault from the US armed forces. Many explanations were put forth regarding the event, both from civilians and the military, and the ‘Battle’ has gained much attention in the circles of Ufologists. For no object was hit by the barrage of artillery and many reported that objects simply disappeared after the event – clear indication to some that the objects seen on that night were nothing short of alien craft.
On the 24th, naval intelligence warned that an attack on US soil could be expected within hours. Around ten o’clock that night, the warning was lifted, but in the early hours of the 25th, radar picked up an unidentified ‘target’ approximately 120 miles west of Los Angeles. Anti-aircraft batteries were alerted and the unidentified craft was tracked to within a few miles of the coast where it subsequently vanished. Nearing 3am on February 25th, a coast artillery colonel spotted “about 25 planes at 12,000 feet” over Los Angeles. Four anti-aircraft batteries opened fire and the airspace above Los Angeles “erupted like a volcano”.
From here, reports of the incident vary widely. Great numbers of planes in the air were reportedly observed that night – anywhere from one to several hundred were seen, ranging in altitude and speed. The mysterious craft dropped no bombs and despite reports that four were shot down, no evidence of this was forthcoming. Hollywood residents perched themselves on rooftops and hills to watch the fiery parade of UFO’s and exploding shells. The only damage sustained to the city came from some shell fragments and car accidents, initiated by a military-enforced blackout. One citizen reportedly died of heart failure amidst the excitement – the first real taste of the drama of the Second World War for most Americans.
At a press conference on the 25th, Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox explained that the incident was a false alarm and there was no evidence supporting the presence of enemy planes. For it was not initially stated by anyone that the observed craft were alien in nature. The most common belief was that the craft were either commercial airlines or Japanese planes - the fact that no bombs were dropped signified a reconnaissance mission. The Army waited a day to issue any statements, interviewing witnesses to the event and eventually arriving at the aforementioned conclusions. After the war however, the Japanese insisted that no planes had been anywhere in the vicinity of Los Angeles on the night in question.
The actions of the military were put on trial in the media with reporters expressing concern at the lack of a satisfying response to the event. If no craft were actually present and it were a case of the jitters, the confidence in the actions of military personnel was extremely troubling. If the craft were indeed flying as low as 9,000 feet (as was reported by some), why were the aircraft batteries so ineffective? And moreover, why were no American planes sent to engage the objects even though they were put on alert? The question posed was what would the response have been if the incident were not a false alarm? Was this the kind of incompetence the public could expect?
These simple facts regarding the “Battle of Los Angeles” have been the source of much speculation from those researching the global UFO phenomenon. The vanishing objects, the lack of damage or downed craft and the supposed cover-up by the military have all lent credence in the eyes of the UFO community to the version of events relating to alien visitation. There is no denying that an event took place in the skies above Los Angeles in 1942, but its explanation could be as far from the aroused speculation as the distance covered by visiting alien life-forms.
by Max Drake
(Freelance writer and artist for GritFX.)
Monday, January 12, 2009
Burn After Reading (2008)
George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton & Brad Pitt.
Written & Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
For the last twenty-five years, the Coen Brothers have created some of the most unique films in American cinema history. From Blood Simple to No Country For Old Men, the Coens have consistently displayed highly individual techniques and superior writing. Burn After Reading is another addition to their long line of quality work with crazy performances from all involved. On the surface, not much happens in this short and sweet black comedy, but at it’s deepest it is a brilliant study of the power of perception. When the financial records of a former intelligence analyst fall into the hands of a pair of nitwits, they mistakenly assume the numbers and codes are of extreme national security importance. When their blackmail of the analyst goes awry, they decide to sell the ‘secrets’ to the Russians, setting off a string of events that involves multiple fools and horses. This is one of those films that depends on the viewer’s ability to conform to its’ style from the outset – those unaccustomed to the Brothers’ work may find themselves floundering in the material, just like the characters in the film itself.
Michael Stahl-David, TJ Miller, Jessica Lucas, Odette Yustman & Lizzy Caplan.
Written by Drew Goddard.
Directed by Matt Reeves.
I love a good ‘creature feature’, but the decent one’s are few and far between. In an update of the classic Godzilla-style monster rampage, Cloverfield is an original and entertaining take on the creature flick. Seen through the lens of the video camera of one of the characters, the film begins simply enough, introducing us to its cast via a farewell surprise party. Amid the drama of the party, an event occurs. Something is happening in Manhattan – and it is not entirely clear what the hell is going on. Until we catch sight of a massive creature tearing up the city that appears to be ejecting smaller creatures from it’s body into the streets. The military arrives, but soon find that their asses are gonna get kicked hard. From there, we follow the actions of a small group of characters attempting to flee the path of destruction. This is the best faux-documentary film since the granddaddy of this sub-genre The Blair Witch Project. Whilst the handheld camera technique may annoy some viewers, it is handled deftly, presenting an incredibly intense and believable (fictional) record of events.
The Strangers (2008)
Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis, Glenn Howerton.
Written & Directed by Bryan Bertino.
A young couple arrive at a remote country house in the middle of the night following a wedding reception. There is tension between them – he has proposed and she has rejected him. The tension escalates when it becomes apparent that there are some nefarious masked dudes outside stalking them. This moody, well-shot film was marketed as being based on a true story, but this is simply not the case, prompting one to ask if it’s a story that is worth telling. What purpose does a film such as this serve? It could hardly be described as entertainment and borders on voyeurism. For the recent surge in films of this nature (ie; Hostel) present a sadistic approach to what is considered ‘entertainment’. Unlike the similar Vacancy, The Strangers leaves a bad taste in the mouth due to the visceral representation of its cruelty and lack of morality.
(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I've just come across this blog site called Camera Critters, which asks bloggers to participate each week by posting an image of an animal/critter. Then... "Each week, on Sunday evening/night, a Camera-Critters capture from that week will be randomly selected to be featured in the sidebar of this blog until the next Sunday.
Seeing I have a few animal photos floating around, not to mention I think it's fun to be involved with other bloggers/blogs, I will try to post an image per week.
This is my first Camera Critter submission - hope you all like it.
Do you have a nosy neighbour? I have to admit that I love my isolation in the country!! When I lived in an apartment building, nosy neighbours were the bane of my existence!