Monday, September 27, 2004

 

Movie Database 2004

Well as the brain and body start to get older, and begin to seize up and dry out like an old sponge, sometimes it just isn't possible to remember all those things you've seen, therefore it just becomes necessary to 'outsource'. So why not outsource all that business to my webserver, leaving all my existing brain cells free to cope with new, important stuff.

Anyway here is a list of all the movies I've seen this year in the cinema, there are quite a lot - some are brilliant, some are classics, some are complete trash and some are just painfully dreadful. You'll have to make your own minds up which is which - some are cult classics, some are 'date movies', some are completely insane. Look out for the annual Top Five in December.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

 

More Big Stuff On The Way

Funnily enough, on the same night that i was posting the previous photos of Big Stuff, there was a whole 60 minute doco on Aussie TV about big stuff around Australia - big prawns, big pineapples, big merinos (that's a ram), the big potato (looks like an oversize turd), the big clam, a big bull and an awesome giant trout. So I'm going to be on the lookout. Also an appeal for pix of big stuff, brought this reply from my friend Jill in Minneapolis:

"Why yes I do, as a matter of fact. I don't think any of them are digital, so I'll have to get 'em scanned. My collection includes a giant ball of twine, prairie dog, dinosaurs, paul bunyan and st. urho - the patron saint of finland known for chasing the grasshoppers off the land. I'll have to dig 'em out for you. I also have a shot of two buildings in new zealand, one shaped like a sheep, the other a sheepdog. You may have seen the magnet on my fridge.

I can't hardly wait!

Friday, September 17, 2004

 

Johnny Ramone 1948 - 2004

I've always loved The Ramones more than any other punk band, (except maybe The Clash), they stormed through the stagnant rock scene of the mid-seventies like a whirlwind of raw power and unbridled primitive energy. Right there at the centre of it all was Johnny Ramone with his piledriving guitar, if there was ever one guy who was such a huge influence on an entire scene - it was Johnny, it was like he defined the Punk Rock slogan - "Here's three chords, now form a band!" Almost single-handed he inspired thousands of snotty kids to pick up a guitar, and make music - and of course he had the greatest fringe in rock'n'roll ever.

1977 - 'Rocket To Russia' came out in the same week as my 18th birthday, we had the album playing on repeat all day, whilst drinking red wine, pogoing & slam-dancing around my seedy bedsit room in Southsea.

1981 - Only time I ever actually managed to see The Ramones, was at the Lyceum on the Strand in London, sold out, down the front screaming along "Gabba, Gabba, Hey!", slamming, leaping around. They were everything I knew they would be, no songs over 2 minutes, the 1,2,3,4 intros, Joey's unbelieveably uncontrived cool.
Then of course, one of the greatest teenage-delinquency comedies ever, 1979's "Rock'n'Roll High School", with the band and the delectable PJ Soles.

I actually got to meet Dee Dee once about ten years ago, when he was in London (recording at my friend Steve Mack's studio in Hackney) - unfortunately by this point the years of heroin abuse, had definitely left him a very damaged individual. Sometimes it's best if you keep a bit of distance from your heroes, to avoid being let down.

Now they're nearly all gone - Johnny died in Los Angeles on the 14th, after a five-year battle with prostate cancer at the age of 55, Joey back in 2001 from lymphatic cancer and Dee Dee a couple of years later from a suspected drug overdose. Just leaving, from the original line-up, drummer Tommy Ramone. All of which makes me feel really sad, when you think that these guys who provided such a huge part of the soundtrack to my teenage years & early twenties, have all passed away without even making it into their mid-fifties. However let's hope that all the great songs that they left us will live on - and whenever the music scene starts to get a bit stale, then some snotty teenage punk, will get to hear Johnny's guitar for the first time, and think "Fuck it, lets form a band!"
Johnny Ramone
Website: www.ramones.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

 

A Very Big Chair

All contributions are welcome in the Big Stuff extravaganza, and here's a very fine photo from Katie H, it's her Granny at her hometown of Thomasville, North Carolina. Here they have a very big chair, 18ft high by 10ft wide, sitting on a 12ft pedestal, when it was built in 1948 it was the biggest chair in the world, a symbol befitting a town that liked to call itself 'the furniture & hosiery capital of the world'. This world record has since been usurped many times, however US President LBJ did once sit in this very chair.


 

August / September Movies (so far)

Bit of a slow month, entertainment wise - so might as well spend some of it sitting in the dark:

I ROBOT, 2004 [US] ***
Hmm, well if you've read my previous blog on product placement within this movie, you'll realise that we didn't really get off on the right foot to begin with. Actually this is being touted as an "intelligent sci-fi blockbuster" in the media, and when it's not trying to sell you Converse, Fed Ex and Audi, it does a pretty good job and the SFX are fairly impressive. However it's no Soylent Green or Bladerunner and has as much to do with Issac Asimov's 'Three laws of Robotics" as I have to do with gourmet cooking. Will Smith could play his part in his sleep, but it's a passable 'wet-Tuesday night' kind of movie.

FIRE WALK WITH ME, David Lynch 1992 [US] ***
Not one of David Lynch's best, but pretty interesting all the same. Produced after the Twin Peaks series was completed, most of the film is prequel leading up until the start of the series, very much along the same lines as the book 'The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer'. However it starts with a very strange 30 minutes featuring David Bowie and Chris Issacs as FBI agents, and the great Harry Dean Stanton as a trailer park owner. Worthwhile if you're a die-hard Twin Peaks or David Lynch fan, otherwise approach with caution.

THE LIFE & DEATH OF PETER SELLERS, 2004 [UK] ***
Primarily went to see this because three v.good friends of mine, spent most of last year working on the visual effects, and Geoffrey Rush is always very good. Yes it is really good fun, and definitely worth a look - although it has been quite heavily knocked by the critics. It is a fairly bold attempt to get past the characters that Sellers used as his defence mechanism, and to get at the real man underneath - if there was one. Excellent reconstruction of Kubrick's 'Dr Strangelove', and also interesting how Rush's 'Sellers' flips in to the other characters in the movie. Now to go and find a rental copy of 'Being There'

I'M NOT SCARED, Gabriele Salvatores 2004 [IT] ****
Awesome Italian movie, which is both a 'rights of passage' movie and a Hitchcockian thriller. A 10 year old boy, playing in the fields of Southern Italy discovers another young boy, held captive in an underground cave on an abandoned farm. As the film moves along we discover that nobody in the boy's village is innocent, it seems that even his own parents are implicated in the crime. Cannot recommend this movie enough, beautiful photography, slowly building mood of tension and fear - brilliant.

ZATOICHI, Takeshi Kitano 2004 [JAP] *****
Another triumph from Japanese legend Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano, writer, director, actor, TV show host, comedian & artist. This time he goes back to the Samurai days - with the story of a blind massuer, who is also a master swordsman, coming to the defence of villagers threatened by two rival gangs of mobsters. Very hard to describe what this movie is exactly - there's plenty of martial arts & swordplay, but there is also slapstick comedy, sometimes in the same scene, pathos and even musical numbers. Farmers dig their fields to a percussion soundtrack, the film ends with all the surviving cast members joining together in a massive tap-dance routine. Awesome - just remember to pick your jaw up off the ground when you leave the cinema.

THE VILLAGE, M.Night Shylaman 2004 [USA] **
I don't know what it is with this guys movies, I always want them to be good - the ideas always look good on paper, but in reality they always let me down. Sixth Sense saw the end coming a mile away [seen to many Twilight Zones], Unbreakable just ludicrous, Signs creepy enough until the aliens turn up, and bloody Mel Gibson.

The Village has a fine cast - Joaquim Phoenix, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver, and starts off promisingly enough. Village is surrounded by woods into which citizens will not venture, as it is inhabited by mysterious & deadly creatures. Unfortunately about half way in, the whole story just begins to unravel and stop making sense, in a bad way - then it commits the worst sin of becoming boring and depressing. Have never seen so many people leaving the cinema with that "Why did I bother" expression on their faces. Be warned.

 

Mister Big Stuff

I know I might well have whet your appetite for extra large things, with the previous item - and I do actually have a pretty sizeable collection of photos of Big Stuff, so without further ado, here's some more:




Big Farmer, California, March 01Big Dingo, NSW, Jan 03
Big Bush Tucker Man, NSW, Jan 03


 

Aussie Icons #3

Big Banana
Coff's Harbour
NSW

In January of last year [03], Katie H and myself - took a roadtrip up the coast of NSW, north from Sydney - particularly on the look out for oversize fruit and vegetables. It was a trip on which we did actually encounter several interesting things - the giant "Bush Tucker Man" an oversize "Dingo" and a minature "Uluru", as well as the amazing "Rolling Stock Graveyard" in Dorrigo. However our Holy Grail was supposed to be the infamous Coff's Harbour Big Banana, imagine our disappointment though when we discovered that it really wasn't that big!

I don't know about you - but when I hear something, described as being big I think it should live up to the name - however the Big Banana, somehow just doesn't really cut the mustard! When walking through - you can actually touch the roof on the inside, which is just plain wrong. So this particular Big Banana, doesn't really live up too the hype, it's even eclipsed by New Zealand's Big Carrot, which has to be wrong. However it is revered as an Aussie Icon, and therefore earns it's place in this section - if you have news on other giant fruits & vegetables, please don't hesitate to let me know their locations.




Tuesday, September 07, 2004

 

DJ Set @ Jerome's Melbourne

Played a two hour set of funk, soul, reggae, latin and hip-hop at a bar in Melbourne, back on 25th August, which was good fun - Don't usually make notes on what I play, but as I hadn't done a set for a while, I decided to jot it down and share it here;


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