Friday, February 27, 2009


Lars And The Real Girl (2007)
Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner & Patricia Clarkson.
Written by Nancy Oliver.
Directed by Craig Gillespie.

Lars (Gosling) is a 27 year-old man living in the garage of his deceased parents’ house, now occupied by his older brother Gus (Schneider) and his pregnant wife Karin (Mortimer). He is a social misfit who feels pain when touched, shunning the company of everyone around him, including a sweet young woman named Margo (Garner) who constantly attempts to win his affection. When Lars introduces his new 'friend' - a life-size “anatomically correct” sex doll - to Gus and Karin, they assume he has lost his marbles. In steps the local doctor-cum-psychologist (Clarkson) who convinces everyone to play along with Lars’ delusion, confident it is nothing more than a phase. The word ‘quirky’, when applied to film, is an easy way of dressing up pretension – but its use is totally justified when describing Lars And The Real Girl. Featuring a memorably idiosyncratic performance from Gosling, this original little film is superbly written and consistently amusing and poignant. In what could have been reduced to smut is thankfully genuine, and manages to avoid any inclination to the low brow.

Taken (2008)
Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley & Nicholas Girard.
Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen.
Directed by Pierre Morel.

Bryan (Neeson) is a former intelligence operative whose teenage daughter is kidnapped in Paris and sold into sex slavery. Utilising the skills and contacts he acquired during his time in espionage, Big Bry proceeds to tear the French city apart in search of his daughter. Although it takes time to get moving, this taut thriller manages a pace in the second half that puts most films of this nature to shame, leading to a bloody finale. Co-written and produced by Luc Besson, the man behind such films as The Fifth Element and Leon, Taken is still a formulaic ride – slick and entertaining, yet almost instantly forgettable. Liam Neeson rarely gives a poor performance, and his towering frame is used to excellent effect in this film. He seems right at home delivering blows to the trachea, torturing a guy called Marko and wielding pistols like John McClane – racking up a bodycount of at least fifty by films’ end.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)
Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, John Cleese & Kathy Bates.
Written by David Scarpa.
Directed by Scott Derrickson.

A giant sphere arrives in Central Park from outer space and a strange being exits, accompanied by a huge robotic guardian. Wounded and in military custody, the being takes human form and manages to escape with the help of scientist Dr Helen Benson (Connelly). When it is revealed that the purpose of the visitation is to save Planet Earth from its’ human inhabitants (ie; wipe us out), the good doctor Benson must convince the destructor to change his intergalactic mind. This rotten remake of the 1951 film of the same name appears to be stuck in some curious time warp. Its sensibilities are laughably outdated, re-imagining the original films’ discourse without becoming contemporary. It seems hardly worth the effort and it’s tough to imagine how these actors were drawn into this mess. Featuring some downright horrendous dialogue and some plot developments that teetered on the ridiculous (such as, how did the military whip together that capsule they enclosed around the robot so fast and then, transport it to an underground location?), this clunker should have been titled The Day The Audience Fell Asleep.


(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and posts weekly film reviews on this blog.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Atlantis and the Giant Serpent

Two ridiculous stories appeared on the internet last week. The first involved supposed photographic evidence of a giant serpent making its way down a river in Borneo. For some time, locals in the region of the Baleh River had dispersed stories of a shape-shifting serpent existing beneath the surface of the water. Named ‘Nabau’, it was a terrifying snake one hundred feet long, bearing a dragon’s head with seven nostrils! The photograph, supposedly taken by a disaster team monitoring flood regions, caused much panic among the local villagers.

The photograph below appeared on the Mail Online website – special mention must be paid to the individual who thought it necessary to insert a large red circle around the creature in question. Thanks for that – I doubt myself and countless others would have been able to discern the serpent without it! The photograph is obviously a fake – even someone without a background in graphics could reach that conclusion.

The second story revolved around the supposed discovery of Atlantis buried under the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of northwest Africa. Keen observers on Google Earth reported the ‘amazing’ discovery of what seemed to be an ancient grid of a city – the location of which was identified by many excited amateur and professional archaeologists as one of the possible locations of Atlantis, citing descriptions from Greek philosopher Plato amongst others. But what they failed to address was Plato’s vivid description of the mythical city, described in writings as being circular and residing beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar).

According to legend, Atlantis was a wonder of the ancient world, carved from the rock of the land in a formation of concentric circles. The size of the city was comparable to the scale of modern-day London. Access to the different levels of the city could only be achieved by traversing a waterway that spiralled inwards to the residences of the ruling elite. This prevented any successful invasion of the city as the circular formation and high walls leading up from the river surface provided an insurmountable defence. This description is a long way from the rectangular grid depicted in the Google Earth images.

In their book, When The Sky Fell: In Search of Atlantis, authors Rand and Rose Flem-Ath present a strong argument that Atlantis is in fact buried beneath the ice of Antarctica – the geographical features of lesser Antarctica being a possible match to the few descriptions of Atlantis in ancient writings. Needless to say, there was some disappointment expressed when Google Earth finally revealed that the supposed ‘grid’ of the ‘underwater city’ was merely an artefact of sonar imaging used to create the underwater maps.

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Decoy’s Completely Biased Non-Definitive Guide To Music

Spice Girls - Spice (1996)

Though I’d say my favourite Spice Girls songs are “Spice Up Your Life” and “Too Much”, which are both on their second album Spiceworld (1997), you can’t go past their first album Spice for a non-stop pop-fest. (NB: By the time I’ve finished writing this - having listened to both again - I think I like Spiceworld more). In July 1996, with the single “Wannabe”, the girls hit the scene like Godzilla (if Godzilla was a massively marketed corporate girl-group in platform boots and Union Jack miniskirt). They were like Beatlemania & the Sex Pistols & the Village People all rolled into one, transcending the mere music to become pop icons. They were easy to hate, but hard not to like - they were designed to be loveable. You had five characters to choose a fave from (Scary). And the music was fun. R&B grooves (“Last Time Lover” and “Something Kinda Funny”); revamped disco (“Who Do You Think You Are?”); and the gals even sang a ballad for Mum (“Mama”). So I can admit it now: ‘Hi, my name is Decoy, and I’m a Spice Girls fan’. They were a hipflask in the pocket of many reformed pop-oholics, and I now stand by it as a perfect example of 90s pop; catchy upbeat melodies with clean breezy harmonies. I dig the trading-off of lines between the girls - (in descending order of vocal ability) Sporty’s signature soar; Baby’s icing-sugar lilt, Scary’s punchy faux-reggae-rap, Ginger’s cheeky Monroe thing, and Posh couldn’t really sing, but was still an important part of the group strut. Who cares if the Spice Girls were a transparent construct of the corporate music industry and the tabloid media? Girl Power was quite endearing and sweet looking back now. And I already feel nostalgic for that time, the late 90s, pre-Paris Hilton, when a 56k modem was still faster than a 28k modem, when things seemed somehow more innocent. Which is revisionist thinking, I know. But this is one of my favourite soundtracks for those happily self-delusional occasions. On those nights, I crave simplicity, I just really really really wanna zig-a-zig ahh…

Bat For Lashes - Fur and Gold (2006)

I guess if you get invited to open for Radiohead on part of their Rainbows tour, you must be doing something right. Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes received this honour. And you can kinda see why, because one thing that struck me when I first heard this album, was upon hearing the 2nd track “Trophy” (an hypnotic raga that works its magic with a pagan paced chant: ‘Heaven is a feeling I get in your arms…’), I thought: ‘Hmm, sounds like In Rainbows.’ Now don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t. I mean, if Radiohead were a one woman band called Bat For Lashes and had been listening to a lot of Kate Bush and Bjork and Cat Power, and released their debut in 2006 titled Fur and Gold, then it may’ve sounded something like this. With me? Both have employed those little egg-shaker maracas to cool effect. Both try to do inventive stripped back things in regards to instrumentation (especially percussion). Both use lyrics to paint suggestive images that are as meaningful or as meaningless as you wanna make them. Both use atmospheric silence to dim the moody spaces between the core instruments. Both seem old school and contemporary at the same time. And both are beautifully understated. The vocal melodies in “Trophy” when she hits the line: ‘Creatures of love feed…’, or the ‘When you love someone but the thrill is gone’ chorus in “What’s a Girl to Do?” are like torches in a dark forest - you feel safer with them around. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself walking around your home humming strange mantras like: ‘Tahiti we don’t got no name…’ and ‘There is no turning back…’ and ‘She really loves him, Prescilla’. Whatever the case, like In Rainbows, as soon as this album finished - as if trying to isolate the allusive addictive ingredient - I was compelled to play it again. And again. And again. And again.

(Plus the video for “What’s a Girl to Do?” was one of the coolest/spookiest post-Donnie Darko videos I’ve seen in years…dig it.)

Watch the video here at the GritHouse.

Kiss - Music from 'The Elder' (1981)

Even amongst hardcore Kiss fans, this is an oddball. It’s considered a strange sidestep on their Hard-Glam-Rock/Heavy-Metal timeline. Having previously worked with producer Bob Ezrin on their Destroyer album (1976), and perhaps after seeing the success he’d had with Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979), Kiss enlisted his services again for a full-blown concept alb, with the whole swords and castles and fantasy bit. It bombed. But me and my D&D role-playing buddies loved it. Along with Pink Floyd, Queen, Yes, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson, it became part of the soundtrack stable for game nights. The title and cover were all we needed to see, really. Coz it was an album that sounded like its cover: A mock gateway into in the cavernous imagination of four NYC cock-rockers (in capes and make-up) trying to go Tolkien. Which - God bless’em - didn’t really work. And this was the reason most Kiss fans wrote it off. It tried to be a prog-rock concept album, but also wanted to be a rockin’ Kiss album. It was Kiss out of their depth, trying to work within a genre they weren’t really familiar with. But that was one of the album’s charms. There is an un-ironic innocence to it (kind of). You can tell they’re trying (kind of). Some of the lyrics are embarrassingly corny, like a teenager’s first attempt at fantasy storytelling, covering all the clichés of the genre. (That’s why it suited D&D so well.) The opening line of the album is: Like a blade of a sword I am forged in flame, fiery hot, which is actually one of the better ones. There’s “Odyssey” with: From a far off galaxy/ I hear you calling me/ We are on an odyssey/ Through the realms of time and space/ In that enchanted place/ You and I come face to face. (Sung like they’re spotlighted on a dry-iced stage with a skull in their hand.) And it just gets better with the chorus: Once upon not yet/ Long ago someday (See what they did there? - Clever wordplay). But like I said, I love it. “The Oath”, “Just A Boy”, “Odyssey”, “Dark Light”, “Under The Rose”, “A World Without Heroes”, they’re actually cool songs, and Bob Ezrin knew how to make things sound epic. So if you wanna rock out in your lounge room Tenacious D style, it doesn’t get much better than this.

By Decoy Spoon

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Perfect Profile...

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

After another busy week, I didn't get to make the blogging rounds all that much... however, I was sent some posts regarding Facebook and the latest trick that they tried to pull!

You probably have all read about it yourself, but for those who don't know what I'm refering to... well, Facebook changed their terms of service (TOS) without notifying any of it's existing users. This presented a number of issues that any user - or potential user - should and did question. The first of which, in order to change the terms, they are required to contact all existing users and notify them of the change. A user must then agree to the new TOS. They failed to do this.

The second and extremely alarming issue in my opinion, was that the new TOS gave ownership of all your uploaded information over to Facebook... FOREVER!! The original terms outlined that you could terminate your account and that the license would automatically expire - with an acknowledgement that the "Company may retain archived copies of your User Content." This section of the TOS was deleted.

The craziest part, once again in my opinion, was that they would have a license to "use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising". How is that right!? I know that to publish a photograph taken at an event for example, you need written permission from all citizens who are visible in the shot. Without that, you can not use the image. So, tell me Facebook, how could you assume to think that you have this right!? While I accept that anything I upload to the internet can turn up in other places, I could not accept that a corporation worth billions could use my image in this way!

The issue has since been resolved, firstly with the founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg making statements that it was all innocent and the TOS was only amended to protect them; followed by a return to the old TOS.

With that on my mind this week, I was considering changing my Facebook profile picture to one of my cats. Whist I was still reluctant to use an image I thought was "valuable" and give Facebook a chance to use it for their own gain, I was thinking of this one of Jonesy - which is my Camera Critter post for the week. With the old TOS now in place, I know the situation is a little different, but I'm still considering taking my image off my Facebook profile.

What do you think? Do you think this is the "perfect profile"? And are you on Facebook - if so, I'd love to hear what you use as your profile photo... your gorgeous mug? a cute critter?

Click on the image for a larger version.

For anyone interested in reading more about Facebook, here are some links to posts that I read:
1. Facebook's New Terms Of Service: "We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever." by By Chris Walters - Feb 15 2009
2. With friends like these ... by Tom Hodgkinson - Feb 29 2008.

The second post is a great article regarding the sociological experiment that is Facebook.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What’s the Stench in Dubai?

According to some reports, Dubai is fast becoming the new Switzerland for the world’s elite, following pressure from the EU for the European money haven to loosen its secrecy laws. There are no taxes in Dubai and free movement of funds have prompted many of the world’s wealthy to seek monetary refuge in the emirate. Built on petroleum and oil revenue, the most populated of the United Arab Emirates relies now on its real estate and financial services revenue to propel its economy. During the last decade or so, Dubai has seen an explosion of money injected into the construction of elaborate skyscrapers, hotels and even private islands. The Emir of Dubai even went as far as saying in a BBC interview that he does not want a middle class in the emirate, only monied elites. Human rights activists have pointed out that the Dubai boom has largely been built on the backs of a mostly foreign, exploited workforce.

Dubai has become one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions due to the travelogue promises of constant sunshine and glorious beaches. But the elites had better clean up their act or they’ll find themselves wallowing in an empty city. For a recent article appearing in The Australian (and then picked up elsewhere on the web) brought attention to the pollution problem from which Dubai now suffers. One of the most frequented destinations by Western tourists - Jumeirah Beach – is now home to a “noxious tide of toilet paper, raw sewage and chemical waste”. Jumeirah is lined with exclusive hotels, yet the ocean water has been described as a “muddy brown”, emitting an “unbearable stench”. Keith Mutch, manager of the Offshore Sailing Club, indicated that tests conducted by the Club showed excessive levels of E. coli in the water and he has subsequently been forced to cancel regattas.

The problem illustrates the lack of proper planning amid the capitalist ideal of grand and grander. Much effort has been poured into the concrete of Dubai’s lavish constructions with little concern for the infrastructure of the city and the living conditions of the foreign workforce. The source of the contamination was traced by Mutch to a storm drain discarding waste into the sea, which in turn lead to the al-Quoz industrial area housing, among other things, cement and paint factories. The drains were originally constructed to transport excess water during Dubai’s rainy season, but were now also being used as a dumping spot for the city’s sewage. For the mostly poor Asian truck drivers, paid by the truckload, a dumping of the city’s human waste in the storm drains was more lucrative than a long drive into the desert to the only sewage plant in the area, accompanied by long queues upon arrival.

The pollution problem in the waters off Jumeirah Beach is such that there is a lack of confidence by many that anything will be done to reverse it. This is one aspect of Dubai that could spell its doom, for all the beautiful buildings in the world will never be enough to overcome the bad taste left in tourists’ mouths after a leisurely dip in the ocean. The continued exploitation of the poor has perhaps finally come back to bite the perpetrators on the backside with a nice dose of gastroenteritis.

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

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Syriana (2005)
Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, George Clooney, Chris Cooper, Alexander Siddig, Amanda Peet, Mazhar Munir, Tim Blake Nelson & Christopher Plummer.
Written & Directed by Stephen Gaghan.

In the Middle East, two unemployed youths are drawn into a circle of Muslim extremists, while a energy analyst is sent to apply for a contract with Arab royalty and is met with tragedy. In the United States, a CIA operative becomes obsessed with finding a missile sold in an arms deal, and a morally corrupted attorney investigates the merger of two massive oil corporations. Gaghan, the Oscar-winning writer of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, has again chosen heavy material for his second film as director, this time concentrating on the global influence of Big Oil. Loosely based on former CIA officer Robert Baer’s memoir, this complex, serpentine tale of interconnected lives and events is a masterpiece of subtle storytelling, weaving its tapestry deliberately and gaining momentum at every turn. Accompanied by a haunting, minimalist score from Alexandre Desplat, Syriana is a rare bird in the fickle environment of Hollywood, demanding strict attention from its audience. Wright and Clooney (in an Oscar-winning role) are simply magnificent amid a cluster of excellent performances, and Gaghan demonstrates again that he is a writer of enormous talent.

Music & Lyrics (2007)
Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, Brad Garrett, Kristen Johnston and Campbell Scott.
Written & Directed by Mark Lawrence.

Alex Fletcher (Grant) is a former pop idol from the 1980s now reduced to singing for his middle-aged fans at embarrassing venues. When he is given the chance to resurrect his career by writing a hit song for a young Britney-style pop princess, he teams up with kooky Sophie (Barrymore), a former English Lit major who displays a natural talent for lyrics and melody. As the two proceed in their venture, love blossoms…of course. This insightful, honest comedy is highly entertaining and features the kind of genuine laughs that are conspicuously absent from most Hollywood comedies. Grant and Barrymore have chemistry to spare and are wonderful foils for each other, receiving solid support from TV actors Johnston and Garrett. OK, the more macho among us may consider this your typical “chick flick”, but this macho man was totally captivated by Music & Lyrics. The film never felt contrived and delivered some truly catchy tunes that had this reviewer singing the next day in the shower (much to the chagrin of my partner).

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Michael Kelly & Mekhi Phifer.
Written by James Gunn & Scott Frank.
Directed by Zack Snyder.

Ana (Polley) awakes one morning to a living hell. Her husband is trying to kill her after being bitten by their next door neighbour, and outside on the streets, civilisation is collapsing. This is all thanks to some unknown phenomenon that is turning people into ravenous zombies – but these ain’t your typical shuffling kind of zombie, these suckers can run! She eventually teams up with cop Kenneth (Rhames) and a bunch of other survivors who take refuge in a shopping mall. This electric horror film is a remake of the George A Romero classic of the same name from 1978. Yet, all the two films really share in common are their titles and major set-piece (the shopping mall). It lacks the social commentary of Romero’s film, but stands proudly alongside it as a definitive ‘re-imagining’. The film is redundant and obvious at times, and even crosses the line on one occasion, but for this genre, it delivers exactly what its intended audience craves – a decent story, a good pace and a bucketload of gore.


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

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New GritFX T-Shirts!!!

Well, it’s about time we had some new designs in our store. Below are our first batch for 2009, conceived and executed by the GritFX team consisting of myself (Manz), Dave & Max (with some input from Wadrick). Dave was his usually pedantic self when it came to approving designs, which may answer the question as to why it took so long for them to become available.

We are currently updating our online stores, so bear with us when shopping. We will soon be expanding our Zazzle range of available designs.

Hope you dig our new designs (and buy one!)…

Click on the image to load a larger version...
GritFX Cult Movie & Pop Culture Tees - NEW RELEASES

Sunday, February 15, 2009

No Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

Last week, the Orange County online news service - - posted an image of the end of a rainbow. This rarely-seen sight was captured by one Jason Erdkamp, a resident of Lake Forest, as he was driving in northeast Orange County in Southern California. Unfortunately for Mr Erdkamp, there was no pot of gold lying on the highway.

There was a flurry of activity on the website following the post, with many questioning the validity of the image. Photoshop was discussed, prompting science writer/editor Gary Robbins to gather some professional opinions. He consulted with noted photographers, a graphic designer and meteorologists who all agreed the photograph had not been manipulated.

One witty reader on the website made the comment that the lack of a pot of shiny gold meant that the photograph actually depicted the beginning of the rainbow. This, of course, is a convenient excuse for those treacherous leprechauns.

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


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sweet Valentine...

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

After a very busy week - I actually had to do real work this week! - I'm at a loose end for anything witty or interesting to say. Let's say I feel drained. It's Valentine's Day as I type this, and my plans are for a quiet night with Dave. I'm not a person who "celebrates" the Valentine holiday, but I'm not opposed to affection.

Neither are Jonesy and Ella!
These were taken the afternoon we brought them home from the cattery after a week away. The place was nice, but the sleeping arrangement meant they couldn't snuggle. A few hours after getting home, and there they were - cute huh?

I thought they were perfect for this weeks "Camera Critters" post, considering it's Valentines Day and all.

I took a few photos that afternoon, these two are my pick for "Camera Critters"...anyone who's watched the GritFX Mascots short film over at the GritHouse may have seen the first one before ;)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Decoy’s Completely Biased Non-Definitive Guide To Music

Marcy Playground - Marcy Playground (1997)

One band that got lost in the shifting sands of the post-grunge years was New York’s Marcy Playground. They were never gonna be a revolutionary band, but I think they were certainly victims of bad timing, and changing trends within the industry. This, their debut, produced the single “Sex and Candy” which became quite a big hit and propelled them into the spotlight for a while. But it soon faded. And they seemed to disappear from the radar. The thing is, this band wrote some really good songs. Their sound was undeniably Nirvana-influenced, especially songs like: “Poppies” and “Saint Joe on the School Bus”. But it was their other tracks where I feel they came into their own. Songs like: “Ancient Walls of Flowers”, “A Cloak of Elvenkind”, “One More Suicide” and “The Vampires of New York” that came to symbolise what I dug about Marcy Playground. Catchy laconic tunes with a weird obscure semi-acoustic bent. The lyrics have an ironic detachment that makes them kinda boring on paper, and you’d think kinda (not very funny) jokey to be sung, but what made it all work was the melody being sung, that carried these words was usually so instantly friendly - like old songs you knew at school or nursery rhymes - that the irony became (at its best moments) a kind of sweet and tender poignancy that came across sadly defeated and nostalgic rather than maudlin or navel-gazing or whatever. Really an underappreciated band and album…

Girl Talk - Feed the Animals (2008)

Gregg Gillis…a mild-mannered Pennsylvanian biomedical engineer by day…and by night, as the moon rises and the lunatics come out to play, he tears the lab-coat off (quite literally, sometimes) as he morphs into his dance-crazed mash-up DJ alter-ego: Girl Talk. A 21st century superhero, armed with his trusty laptop and FM radio, mashing together all manner of songs and samples and beats into a juicy form of dance pop. The songs he uses as source material for his digital alchemy are so disparate (eg: Jay-Z, Toni Basil, Rod Stewart and Aphex Twin – within one song) that it’s a true feat of sonic collage to combine such wildcard elements into a highly listenable context. And it’s these skills as an arranger that stands out after repeated listens. Even though upon a first taste one is seemingly bombarded with countless pop references, the restraint exercised allows the listener to identify the samples and enjoy the fresh juxtapositions (or if you’re slow, like me, at least get a sense of them - and it’ll come to you later, probably while you’re brushing your teeth, getting ready for bed). The tendency for some would be to push it to further extremes into Breakcore territory. Which is still interesting, but stops being as much fun for me. (Plus, who can dance to breakcore?) And that’s what this music is, above all else - Fun. With each release, he has always pushed more samples into each song, clocking up something on the order of thousands of pieces of song. He has continually tested the limits of the form without losing the playfulness. Perhaps one day we’ll see the logical extension of his ideas, and he’ll release a one song album that contains a snippet of every song ever recorded! His Mash’em Opus. Now there’s a challenge…do it, Mr. Talk…I’m there dude.

(I should probably point out that despite my love of music, I can’t dance to save my life. My free & easy use of words concerning dancing are simply meant for you…if you are so inclined to shake it. And I hear you saying: ‘Hey, Decoy, that’s classic, me too, I can’t dance either -’…well, let me just stop you right there - nah, friend, you can dance…okay?...compared to me, you can dance…trust me…)

Jaco Pastorius - Jaco Pastorius (1976)

One of the saddest stories in 70s/80s Jazz, is the untimely death of Jaco Pastorius at the age of 35. The man could play electric bass like no other. And he made some great recordings with other 70s jazz hounds like Pat Metheny and Paul Bley. I first heard him on Joni Mitchell’s jazz-laced Hejira (1976), where he played on four tracks. But that same year saw the release of this, his first official solo effort. Here, with songs like, “Come On, Come Over”, “Continuum” and “Okonkole Y Trompa” he finally got to show the world he could back up his lofty claim: “I am the greatest bass player in the world.” Upon meeting this cocky cat, Joe Zawinul (the acclaimed jazz keyboardist who played with Miles Davis during Miles’ groundbreaking electric period, and who went on to form Weather Report) thought he was full of shit, and himself. But Joe went home and listened to Jaco’s demo tapes and subsequently recruited him for Weather Report’s next album, Black Market (1976). Jaco would stay with them for five more albums as a full-fledged member of the band, before releasing his second solo album Word of Mouth (1981). His playing was very influential not only in the world of Jazz, but you can trace his sound and style through funk’s evolution and even the alternate-grooves of Primus and Red Hot Chili Peppers. He had an effortlessly smooth style, and his dexterity is really something to behold. Shifting from rhythm-section to lead and back again, he could be at once a blur of notes and then a big bulbous drone throbbing behind the scenes. Even if you’re not a fan of jazz or funk or whatever else you’d call his music, he probably remains an influence on something you’d like, such was the impact of this outrageously talented (and unfortunately tragic) musician/composer.

By Decoy Spoon

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


The Bear (1988)
Tcheky Karyo, Jack Wallace, Andre Lacombe, Bart the Kodiac Bear, Youk the Bear Cub.
Written by Gerard Brach.
Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud.

A bear cub is made an orphan after its mother is killed. Setting off into the wilderness, the young bear befriends a huge, wounded male that is being tracked by hunters. And that’s basically the story extent of this riveting, wonderfully shot film set in British Columbia at the end of the 19th century. It was once a popular phrase in Hollywood to “never work with children or animals”, yet any complications that may have arisen on The Bear are never evident. The film is seamlessly executed, combining the most astounding animal ‘acting’ ever seen on screen with absolutely first class cinematography from Philippe Rousselot. The human characters have little dialogue, and necessarily take a backseat to the animals – they could even be considered underwritten and at times suffer from some poor dubbing. But this is never a consideration once the viewer is captured by the spell of this truly timeless film that should not be thought of as a ‘childrens movie’. And I guarantee it’s the only film in which you’ll ever see a bear tripped out on mushrooms. A personal favourite.

Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)
Paul Newman, Dwight Schultz, John Cusack, John C. McGinley, Laura Dern and Bonnie Bedelia.
Written by Roland Joffe & Bruce Robinson.
Directed by Roland Joffe.

Roland Joffe is not a filmmaker I particularly admire. Whilst his career has been peppered with excellent films such as The Killing Fields and The Mission, his style often creates a dull visual experience, only lifted by the work of his cast. Fat Man and Little Boy is no exception, at times lacking the motion that elevates a drama and saves it from being (for want of a better word) “stagey”. Fat Man tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Schultz) and the team assembled by General Groves (Newman) to devise and construct the atomic bomb. Dealing with the inherent crisis of conscience, the brilliant team overcome obstacles aplenty in their road to creating a heinous device that would hopefully (and naively) bring an end to the idea of war. It is an interesting and compelling story, brought to life by an excellent cast, led by the great Paul Newman and ably supported by Schultz and Cusack. The film fails in many respects, but those unfamiliar with the Manhattan Project will find much worth in Fat Man and Little Boy – others may be discouraged by its distinctly Hollywood telling.

Scarface (1983)
Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, Harris Yulin and F. Murray Abraham.
Written by Oliver Stone.
Directed by Brian De Palma.

Tony Montana (Pacino) arrives in Miami as part of the Mariel Boatlift, when Castro opened the gates of Mariel Harbor and let over 100,000 Cubans immigrate to the USA. Like many, he is a criminal, and soon ingratiates himself into the underworld of Florida, eventually flourishing through bloodshed to be the king of cocaine. Despite a grandiose performance from Pacino, this turgid mess is unrelentingly oppressive from the get-go. Sleazy and brutal, Scarface is one of the overrated director De Palma’s lowest moments. The absolutely seedy underbelly of Miami is brought to the screen in vivid detail by the production department, but it seems that screenwriter Stone couldn’t edit his own material or even know when the hell to quit. The film itself has been glorified into a cult phenomenon on no solid basis aside from its graphic violence and nihilism – transforming the character of Tony Montana into an iconic figure. I don’t think that was the point…


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

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Worst Bushfire in Australian History

Following some enquiries from my international friends, I thought I should write a brief post on the current bushfire crisis here in Australia. Living in the state of New South Wales, north of Sydney, I am way clear of the epicentre which is some 800 kilometres away in the southern state of Victoria (and just over the northern border with NSW) – although a fire did break out yesterday at a place called Peats Ridge, an area only 15 kilometres away from where I live. Luckily, it was a small blaze and quickly contained.

But this is the reality of summer in Australia. I cannot remember a year when we did not have a bushfire. Of course, none in recent memory come close to the current devastation in Victoria that, at last count, had claimed 126 lives – the worst loss of life from bushfires in Australia’s short history. But I have experienced in past years the blanket of smoke from fires here in NSW that inevitably cloud the skies, turning the sun a bright red. And once again, the issue has also been raised as to whether the majority of the fires resulted from arson – an act that our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd stated was akin to “mass murder”. For once, he is right about that.

Horror stories have begun to emerge of towns in our southern state being obliterated in a matter of minutes by a firestorm exacerbated by hot, dry temperatures (47 degrees Celsius at some locations) and strong winds. Many lost their lives trying to flee in their cars, becoming trapped on roads with nowhere to go. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and indeed everything they own. And let’s not forget the hundreds of volunteer fire-fighters who risk their lives to battle the blazes, and the countless other community volunteers giving their time to people in need.

For more on the Victorian fires, visit and view the multitude video footage of this horrendous event.

Images by Google

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Drop and Run...

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

Over the last couple of weeks I've been using entrecard to discover blogs that fall under my categories of interest. Coincidentally, I found Camera Critters through using ecard!

Anyway, I've come across a number of posts written by ec users, describing the drop and run user - a browser (generous title for these folk) who only drop by long enough to leave you their card, and collect their ec credit! Entrecard has a 300 drops per day maximum placed on the system; my average number of drops (when I'm actively online) is 50 per day!!

Whilst thinking about the 'drop and run' blogger, my mind went to a little friend who I snapped a couple of photos of when on a winter holiday. After going to the effort to place something out there of interest and value to my potential friend, the response was lacklustre - a quick drop and run attitude! I guess that is the only way you can bank 300 drops in one 24hr session!!

Having said that, there must be something that compelled that blogger from dropping by in the first place - an interesting ec card for example - and anything that increases our ranks in the listings is a good thing in my book. If you're an ec dropper reading this, I invite you to leave a comment.... do you drop and run like this bird did?

This was my pick for "Camera Critters"...see how my little friend kept one eye on what I was up to ;)

DROP & RUN....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Se7en (1995)
Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, John C. McGinley, Richard Roundtree and Kevin Spacey.
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker.
Directed by David Fincher.

A maniac is murdering people in accordance with the seven deadly sins. Somerset (Freeman) is a jaded detective on the brink of retirement who is joined by Mills (Pitt), a rookie eager to “do some good”. The two form an uneasy alliance to track down the murderer – a sinister soul known only as John Doe (a marvellous Spacey). When I walked out of the cinema after seeing Fincher’s Se7en, I can recall being shrouded in a black cloud. What the hell had I just witnessed? In hindsight, it’s easy to understand the power of this film and its subsequent influence. From the skin-crawling effect of the opening credits (which have since become almost a pre-requisite for any film of similar nature) to the uncompromising finale, the film managed to elicit a graphically violent motif without ever having to reveal much at all. Se7en is one dour film, but this production design and the accompanying incessant rainfall gave the film a look that felt far more noir than any noir could. Aside from all of this, the film afforded director Fincher (a) the attention he so obviously deserved; and (b) respect for standing up to the studio execs who wished for a happy Hollywood ending to this unforgiving tale.

Face/Off (1997)
Nicholas Cage, John Travolta, Alessandro Nivola, Colm Feore, Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, Nick Cassavettes and Harve Presnell.
Written by Mike Werb & Michael Colleary.
Directed by John Woo.

An FBI agent named Sean Archer (Travolta) has his face surgically altered to be a dead ringer for a heinous terrorist named Castor Troy (Cage). The plan to infiltrate the terrorists’ gang of cronies goes swimmingly, until Troy decides to have his face altered as well, assuming the identity of Archer and threatening the lives of his family. This laughable film was a substantial hit, sucking in an audience drunk on the Pulp Fiction-inspired resurrection of Travolta. But they were soon sobering up to the fact that Travolta, like his previously faltered career, was grounding his new-found fame in this trash and others like Broken Arrow and Battlefield Earth. The ridiculous style of Asian golden boy John Woo was never more evident than in this unintentionally funny ‘action’ film. Woo’s unbearable penchant for slow-motion reduces the final reel of Face/Off to a truly horrendous ‘opera’ of gunfire (now referred to as “Gun-Fu”). It’s no wonder his career has been conspicuously minor since the mid-90s. Two years after his Academy Award-winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas, Face-Off also signified the initial decline in the quality of Cage’s work (the exception being Spike Jonze’s Adaptation in 2002). You’ll have more fun peeling your own face off than watching this crud.

GoodFellas (1990)
Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino.
Written by Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese.
Directed by Martin Scorsese.

Ever since he could remember, Henry Hill (Liotta) wanted to be a gangster. Based on true events, GoodFellas charts the rise of Hill from teenage courier for local mafia captains to his eventual downfall at the hands of the FBI. Accompanying Hill on his violent journey are his psychotic friend, Tommy (Pesci) and Hill’s somewhat mentor, Jimmy (DeNiro). One of Scorsese’s finest films, GoodFellas ripped into the new decade with a bold statement on lives of crime. Powerfully acted (Pesci won an Oscar for his role) and directed (by a filmmaker in his prime), the film resonates with a voyeur quality that has rarely been matched (and perhaps only superseded by Scorsese’s own Raging Bull). From it’s graphically violent opening to its almost iconic final frame, GoodFellas is akin to a kick in the guts (or a cap in the ass), reinventing itself as the story progresses through each sensational act. Employing all the tricks of the trade that he had been honing since Mean Streets, Scorsese’s GoodFellas still remains the yardstick for all subsequent films on organised crime. One of the decades’ best.


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