PREDATORS…

…is actually 2/3 of a really good monster movie, much to my surprise: genuinely creepy, and with a good build-up of suspense, not to mention a movie-stealing performance of much fun by Laurence Fishburne, and a performance from Topher Grace that suggests he’s finally ready to hold a big-screen audience. I went along with my ever-eager Teen Twosome, expecting to be there only because I was having a night out with my boys, and found myself actually having a whale of a time.

Yes, it’s a pity it runs out of ideas and resorts to big lashings of dumb to get the job done, but until it does, it’s better than all bar the original movie in the franchise. Not that that’s saying much, but, still, get it out when it hits the DVD stores and pair it with Arnie’s Big Boy Gunfest first version for a fun boy’s night in.

A CONGREGATION OF CANTLETS

1. I’m sick, Connor is sick, we go to the doctor’s for a checkup. It’s sniffles and running noses all round, so it’s bound to be just a cold, but Connor’s got a chesty cough and I need the sick note for work, so we find our nearest medical centre and make an appointment.

This is our first visit to a doctor in Mandurah, so Connor receives The Talk before we go. Once there we’re called up; enter the doctor’s room, and the doctor, who is the kind that keeps a big plastic tub of his jelly beans on his desk, turns to Connor first. After the usual “What’s your name? And how old are you?” pleasantries, and assurances that no needles will be utilized (Connor’s current doctor fear); he asks Connor what’s wrong with him.

“I have Spine Flu!” is my son’s cheery reply.

He earns three jelly beans for that one.

2. I’ve written the beginning of the novel. I’ve written the end. I’ve written 80 000 words of the middle. It’s just the remaining 20 000 words of holes that I’m having trouble with. Between work, overtime, the house, my family and my own natural inclinations I just can’t get it together to make a concerted effort at finishing it off. It’s enough to prove that I’ll never be successfully serious (or vice versa) as a novelist. I’d be less worried if I was any good at my job. Meanwhile, those whose career arcs roughly parallel my own sail into book deals with Orbit, Harper Collins and the like…

3. My third period of mentorship for the AHWA is drawing to a close, and third time is likely to be the last. Much as I enjoy it, I’m unsatisfied by my efforts this time round—disruptions have been plentiful, and I don’t feel like I’ve given my mentees value for money. I do what I can, but am beginning to think that what I can do isn’t enough any more. It’s time to take stock of what I want to do, and what I need to do, and put one before the other.

4. I’d be able to get medication if I could translate all this ennui into full-blown depression, but it seems like too much hard work.

5. Every time I think I should just chuck it all in and become a professional poker player I go online and some bugger beats me with something like a 7-3 off suit.

6. We finally get around to watching the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. It’s enjoyable, for the most part, although I’m of the opinion that it starts fantastically well and then gets more and more ordinary as it progresses. Late that night, Lyn and I lie in bed together and dissect the movie, and I’m struck by an experience I’ve not had to such an extent since Independence Day—that of thoroughly enjoying a movie whilst watching it but then discussing it afterwards to the point of considering it a failure. It’s a strange experience, to persuade oneself of an opposing viewpoint after the direct experience. We are agreed, however, that Keanu Reeves has found his niche over the last decade or so. As Lyn said, after the Matrix movies, Constantine, and the terminally tedious A Scanner Darkly, she can’t think of another actor as suited to effectively playing characters so utterly removed from even the most basic of human emotions.

7. No such trouble earlier in the day, when we watched Igor with the kids—that one stayed ordinary all the way through…

8. If Captain Beefheart, Captain Sensible, and the Captain from Captain & Tennille were all on the same ship, how would they decide who got to steer?

HOW TO LOSE FANS AND IRRITATE MOVIE GOERS

So Lyn and I got out to see a flick today. And because we’re Simon Pegg fans, not to mention Jeff Bridges fans, the choice was obvious.

My word, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is a disappointing movie. There came a point, somewhere towards the inevitable turning-the-plot-for-home moment, when I actually thought “God, I remember when Simon Pegg was funny.” I know this movie is based on a biography. I know that what I was watching was, by and large, supposed to be based on real events. But gawd all bloody mighty, did it have to be so obvious? So thuddingly unoriginal? When I know the outcome of each scene, each character arc, each subplot, before the setup of each damn thing even gets underway…… and it was billed as a comedy, it was promoted as a comedy, it said ‘funny’ on the posters…. It isn’t. It just really, really isn’t.

Simon Pegg and Jeff Bridges are both excellent actors, but watching this movie, you wouldn’t know it. Okay, so Bridges paid his rent in Iron Man. I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare. And okay, Pegg did a director mate a favour and plodded his way through the utterly second rate Run, Fatboy Run. But what’s their excuse for this one? Add Kirsten Dunst, who extends her ouvre as an actress of no special interest whatsoever, and the whole thing felt like what my mother used to call a Tuesday Movie– Tuesday afternoons, half-price for pensioners, beats being at home but not by much.

In all honesty, I got more laughs from the trailer for Four Holidays, And that’s a Vince Vaughan movie……

JUST DIE, ALREADY

Some months ago, when it came out on DVD, we rented and watched Rocky Balboa. Whilst it’ll never be regarded as great cinema, it was at least a fitting end to the franchise, emphasising the ‘little tailor’ aspect of Balboa’s character and making allowances for time, age, and a certain amount of nostalgia, not only in Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky, but in the central message that, whilst age may weary a man, it can give him the wisdom to accept that the battles most worth winning are those closest to the heart. Amidst the formula there was warmth, and dignity, and even a little grace. Not great cinema, no, but as the credits rolled, there was no small satisfaction in the journey’s end.

Tonight, we watched John Rambo, the latest and last of the Rambo series of movies.

John Rambo is shit.

BEOWULF VS A TALKING BEAR

Beowulf 3D– Violent, clunky, beautifully animated, and glorious. Sure, there are weaknesses in script and execution: the scenes of people on horseback were clumsy, and what the hell was with a naked Dark Ages daemoness wearing high heels? But overall, this was supercharged, involving, and very human, and felt more epic than any movie I’ve seen since the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The best dragon in movie history was simply an added bonus.

The Golden Compass– What a fucking yawn. As if basing a large part of the film around Nicole Kidman, easily the coldest and most uninvolving actress of the modern generation, wasn’t bad enough, the rest of the film is so badly paced and woodenly acted that I stopped caring before the adventure had even begun. With a lead actress so bad she should have played the lead in a Harry Potter movie, and an ending so cynically paving the way for a sequel, I left the cinema not knowing whether to be thankful it was over or furious that I’d been so brazenly mugged. The bears, at least, were cool.

The verdict: Beowulf rips the bear’s front arm off and rams it right up its ass with two minutes to go in the second round. Winner by knockout.