​An Australian Creative Director and Strategist fumbles through life in America. Live from New York.

An Australian Creative Director and Strategist fumbles through life New York City.

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Entertaining Myself (Part Seven)

It’s been a while between drinks for everyone’s favourite DonkeyFire review section, ‘Entertaining Myself’, and strictly speaking, this edition involved the entertainment of myself AND Tom ‘Big Cat’ Cusbert. And in a way, the word ‘entertainment’ in this instance is a bit of a misnomer: the film we watched was more like having your brain and nervous system frayed, then split open, then flayed. But in a good way.

The film in question was ‘Drive’, from director Nicolas Winding Refn and staring everyone’s favourite baby goose/butterscotch surprise, Ryan Gosling. Straight up, let me say this: I enjoyed this film immensely, and the more I reflect on it, the more I like it. It had so many elements that were perfect (in my humble, bloggy opinion): incredibly stylized, gorgeous cinematography (reminicent of Heat, which seemed to be a bit of an influence), excellent casting, perfect soundtrack, not to mention the pacing of the film.

But it was also quite possibly the most tense two hours of my entire life. Refn uses plot, sparse dialogue, long shots and a pulsating, synth driven score to tie the audience in knots: Tom and I were literally rolling around the couch and hugging our legs from the tension. And when the tension breaks, it usually involves MEGA, FUCK OFF VIOLENCE. Seriously, this could be the most violent film I’ve ever seen: think A History of Violence being raped by a muscle car on meth. That doesn’t make sense, but I’m sticking with it.

I really cannot recommend this film more highly. If you can stomach the hectic violence, then get your hands on it.

5 out of 5 crushed skulls.

Entertaining Myself (Part Six).

Sit back, oh avid reader of DonkeyFire, and enjoy part six in my neverending musings on film, and the ways in which it entertains me: that is, through my ocular and aural cavities, feeding stimuli to my neural cortex which I then interpret and reguritate onto this blog in the form of poorly written reviews.

On the back of a crappy day, I really needed a good film. And boy did I get one: Hanna, the Joe Wright thriller from 2011 (Ed. Note: I won’t put any spoilers in, as there is a good chance this hasn’t come out in Australia yet. Thank god for pirated DVDs).

Hanna is a young girl, not more than 16 years old, who has been trained her entire life to become the perfect assassin by her father, Erik (played by Eric Bana), a former assassin himself. The mission she has been training for is to find and kill the woman who killed her mother,  Erik’s former CIA case runner Marissa (Cate Blanchett). However, there is more to the story, because Hanna is more than just an assassin.

I cannot stress how much I like this film. The cinematography is very European, and reminded me of a cross between the original Let the Right One In, and the latter Bourne films: fast moving and beautiful, but never flashy or hard to watch. However, the lighting and soundscape (composed by The Chemical Brothers) are the real highlights of this film: Hanna’s hyperrealised senses are brought to life in incredible ways, and you’ll be rewatching scenes again and again (one scene in particular show consistes of a seven minute continuous shot that culminates in an incredible fight: worth the price of admission alone).

The main characters are very compelling, but what makes the film so perfect are the details: the smaller parts are perfectly cast, and wonderfully deep characterisation is matched to great performance. Bana is back to being a total badarse, Blanchett is malice driven and Saoirse Ronan is spectacular as the bewildered yet quick-to-extreme-violence Hanna.

I honestly cannot recommend this film enough: equal parts cinematic triumph and fuck of good action film. Six ballpoint-pen-executions out of a possible six.

Entertaining Myself (Part Five).

Once again we depart from the usual drivel of me writing about Beijing (and fondling statues), and instead turn to meek, poorly worded film reviews for a little section I call Entertaining Myself. And this week, ladies and gentleman, we have a barnburner – Peter Berg’s Friday Night Lights.

I first saw this film when it came out about a decade ago, and time has not hurt it one little bit – but it is interesting to catch up with the non-fiction Mojo Panthers of Odessa, Texas after becoming addicted to the fictitious Dillon Panthers from the TV series of the same name.

The film focuses on the true story of the 1988 Odessa Panthers, a high school American football team full of talented young men in a Texas town dangerously obsessed with the sport. We watch the pressure these high school kids face from a town that demands nothing but the best (a state championship): the coach who’s entire livelihood changes on a week-to-week basis, the crazed former champion who lives his (alcoholic, violent) life through his son (an at times underperforming Panther), and the super talented Bubbie Miles, whose overconfidence masks a deeper concern: by putting all your eggs in the sporting basket, what happens if you get broken?

I loved this film when I saw it the first time, and nothing has changed. The acting is excellent (although I like the coach in the TV series far more that Billy Bob Thornton); the cinematography is truly spectacular, perfectly complimented by the soundtrack from musical geniuses Explosions in the Sky (who feature prominently in the TV series as well). The Pulitzer Prize book by H.G. Bissinger is well worth a read, the TV show (though different) is equally entertaining and moving, and the whole thing just crackles with energy.

5 Snapped ACL Ligaments out of a possible 5.

Entertaining Myself (Part Four).

Continuing a favourite pastime here at DonkeyFire (for me, anyway), I bring you part four of Entertaining Myself, where I write a drivel-laden review of a film I’ve watched, and you lap it up like pop-culture Labradors, greedily feasting on my prose and opinions.

This time around, we have the Ricky Gervais comedy ‘The Invention of Lying’*, a thoroughly ‘meh’ inspiring comedy chock full of awkwardness, sub-par (possibly rushed?) scriptwriting, a mixture of bad and average performances and one of the most talented (and chronically underutilized) casts in recent memory.

The premise is cool: Gervais plays a bumbling but mostly likeable nobody (surprise, surprise) who lives in a world where lying has never been invented: everyone is honest all the time, about absolutely everything. As he slowly realises his life is going nowhere, he unintentionally invents lying (and then later, to a certain extent, religion), changing the course of his life forever. And to be honest, Gervais isn’t bad: in fact, one scene in particular was quite moving, showcasing his ability to hit some dramatic high notes.

I like Gervais, a lot: in fact, I think he’s a comic genius. However, his film falls flat for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are enormous plot holes: I get that no one lies, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs to verbalize their every thought (for example). Secondly, Gervais character is hard to sympathise with, what with him being a knowing fraud and all. Thirdly, the script doesn’t live up the premise: as I mentioned, an incredible cast (including Louis C.K. as his best friend, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Tina Fey and cameos by Edward Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman) can’t save a slow and ultimate dull film, and I feel this is the fault of a rushed and unpolished script.

But one thing really ruined this film for me, and I think it’s high time I addressed Hollywood on this point: JENNIFER GARNER IS FUCKING TERRIBLE. Seriously, she is unfunny, angular, oddly manish and completely unlikeable in every film I’ve ever seen her in. Please Jen (can I call you Jen?) stop raping celluloid and go back to being a tall, boring woman already. You’re married to Ben Affleck, so i’m sure…ahhh…you can rest on that laurel. YOU GOT AFFLECK. GOOOOOOOOOOOOD FOR YOU. Urgh. She really is terrible - she is the female Ashton Kutcher.

2.5 untalented actresses out of a possible 6.

*At some point, I will review a non-fiction film I like. I hope.

Entertaining Myself (Part Three).

Time to return to a DonkeyFire favourite - where I post reviews of films I’ve watched to keep myself entertained. Unfortunately, after two cracking documentaries, my run of excellent films has crashed mightily to a halt, like a train full of orphans colliding with a train full of kittens and petrol.

After watching the Chernobyl-abortion that was ‘No Strings Attached’, I can report on two things immediately: one, Natalie Portman is the best worst actress ever (or more specifically, the worst Best Actress ever), and two, I don’t think any actual adults took part in the writing of this film - instead, it was written by overly horny, dimwitted high school fucktards, who have never met a black person, a gay person, or more than one woman in their lives.

Synopsis (urgh, this film licks the bag): Ashton Kutcher (why did I watch this film?) and Natalie Portman are massively drawn to each other, but *record scratch!*, she hates commitment. So they just bang casually, and attempt to avoid falling for each other. I CAN’T STRESS HOW MUCH I DISLIKE THIS FILM.

Specific low lights in bullet point form:

  • Kutcher makes Portman a mixtape of period-inspired songs, and later in the film she cries when she hears ‘Bleeding Love’, which was on the tape.
  • All the characters are in the mid to late 20s, with difficult/mediocre jobs, yet they all live in wicked, pimping houses
  • All the peripheral characters are stereotypes: the gay guy is way too gay to function (thank you Mean Girls, a film that proves that ‘chick flicks’ can be completely awesome), Ludacris sets African American culture back 30 years by playing the most misogynistic, retarded black character on film, and Portman’s character’s friends prove that being a doctor doesn’t mean you can’t be dumb as fuck, and a huge waste of space
  • Finally, two of the characters become lesbians 2/3rds of the way through the film, and then Natalie Portman’s character attacks them in a drunken rage. NONE OF THIS IS EXPLAINED IN ANY WAY.

I recommend no one ever see this film, ever. All the copies of this film should be buried under Fukashima, or used to torture people.

No fingers in the eye, out of a possible 10.    

This film actively made me less attracted to Natalie Portman, which is even sadder than the fact that I actually watched this whole film.