Thursday, 11 June 2015

film review: Jurassic World

DINOSAURS, everybody.

The real spoiler here is that there is no universe in which I was not going to like this movie. I'm well aware that I'm not alone in this love: last night as I floated between dinner and drinks, all the people I ran into (all good ones, yay) expressed envy at my plan to see Jurassic World ASAP, which was 10am today. They were jealous. I was Not Sorry.

There's a race to write this review as I've just started downloading Jurassic Park and I want to finish writing before the download is done, which gives me about 15 minutes.

First let's talk about the font. It was vintage Jurassic Park circa 1993 with a modern twist. Streamlined. Silver instead of red. Classic, "rebooting a franchise" silver. I smelled money. I was ok with it.

Secondly: The preamble to disaster. I love the part where they set the scene. They were all "we've learned from the mistakes of ninety three, this is state of the art glass, cement and helicopters. We have holograms, bitches. We will not be falling into the traps those idiots from before failed to consider. We got this. Look: we built a bigger fence". And I was all "shut up and let's skip to where the dinosaur escapes".

Third: Chris motherfuckin Pratt. The raptor-whisperer. I don't want to spoil everything in this dramatic cinematic thriller masterpiece, but in the trailer you will note that there's a badass scene where he's riding a motorbike and the raptors are running with him, not after him - that's all I'll say. I've only really seen him in comedic roles and his action acting is fine, my only note is that I'd have liked more jokes.  To be completely fair about it, there probably wasn't time. His forearms made up for the lack of jokes. I'm ok with this objectification because muscular forearms are a practical thing when it comes to kicking ass and taking names, and ultimately what is really attractive about Chris (first name basis, yep) is how he just helps people and cares about animals. And that's an attractive quality for all humans to have. Solved.

And also: Bryce Dallas Howard (playing Claire Dearing, who is Park Operations Manager, I'd like to quietly point out she had one job...) Does All The Things in Heels. Much conversation to be had here - me and my fellow female movie-goer companion friend Kate took a quick poll in the interests of science and research and fairness, and ultimately agreed that running away from reptiles that were originally extinct literally millions years ago and have been reanimated with rather shakily-explained DNA might be made unnecessarily complicated by high-heeled shoes. So silly. But also, you know, aspirational. Women need goals.

Another thing: I love how many things get broken. I love it. Break all the hospitality infrastructure! Ruin all the sculptures! All that metal that holds the buildings together somehow? Wreck it all! This movie must be seen on a big screen at least once. Just for the destruction and the dinosaur chases on a large scale. Don't deny it - do it.

Something else, a significant point I think: It's hard to re-do a beloved franchise. I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the formative experience that was Jurassic Park. It was the first movie I saw on a big screen. My grandma, who took us all, must have wanted us to have the worst nightmares...What a  meanie. While I probably wasn't as scared this time around (raptors in the kitchen, anybody? I was 8 years old when I saw that shit. Nobody comes back from that without metal cupboard-based trust issues) I still got that exhilaration I associate with that first movie-going experience. I'm certain that most of the people I know have a Jurassic Park story, in fact, I've heard a few great ones already. I am happy to recommend this movie to all you people with your fond memories.

An extra thing: Indominus Rex, amiright? You'll know it when you see it. Might name my firstborn Indominus.

The final point: They actually learned nothing. 'They' is the people running the park now (who frequently reference Jurassic Park circa 1993, so it's not like they've had it wiped from their minds). There was a 'what not to do' and they thought they knew better. The dinosaurs obviously had other ideas. I'd like to get worked up about this, but the honest fact of the matter is that I'm glad they fucked up (I don't think this is a spoiler because if you care at all about Jurassic World you will have watched all the trailers for it like I have, and you know a dinosaur ruins some things. Don't be mad) - the huge mistake they made was a great movie-making opportunity. I can't blame them for it. I ate that shit right up. I'll probably see it again and give them even more of my money.

5ive stars. It was 4.5, but then there was this picture of Chris Pratt. His waistcoat has so many pockets and is so practical, he earned the film the extra half-star.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

film review: Entourage

10 minutes into the Entourage movie it's clear I've made a terrible mistake.

I'd like to be a bit philosophical about this, or to perhaps have gone to see this movie for some lofty purpose - feminist analysis, #notallmen etc, but it's not true. I went because it was on at 11:15am and that seemed suitable, and I like to keep in touch with the people and their blockbusters. But wow. Honestly, I am generous in my above indication that it took me 10 minutes to dislike.

(Sorry for fans of Entourage, I mean, why are you reading my blog, but sure, sorry. Promise I won't spoiler it for ya - there's so many unpredictable twists and turns and what kind of monster would I be? etc.) 

I concede that I have watched some Entourage in my time. Perhaps most of the first season even. It had a bit of celebrity drop-in novelty and actually didn't seem to take itself too seriously. A bit of self-referential whatever and things. Watchable. Plus I always had a thing for Adam Grenier after that fucking fantastic teen classic, Drive Me Crazy. Now that is a good time. I recommend it to you all. Some of you may hate it and me, and be inspired to write your own reviews. While it is not my job to inspire such creativity I suppose this is a burden I must bear, and you are welcome.

I digress. Firstly, I find it difficult to deal with tv shows becoming movies for the basic fact of my being used to them on a small screen and 22 minutes long and now they're on a big screen and they go forever and they've done things to the opening credits to make them sort of the same but different (I'm also looking at you, Sex and The City). This complaint may be a personal flaw in me and my failure to think big, so I caution you to take it with a grain of salt.

Because (I'm guessing... I'll do that a bit in this review as I have no desire to fact-check my assumptions when it comes to Entourage specifically) it's been a while since there's been Entourage on tv, all the characters get to walk on to the movie like they're guest stars entering set on a sitcom, expecting applause from the studio audience - like when Brad Pitt was on Friends, or other such examples. There's this pause when they walk into a scene that makes me want to yell out "we don't care" - but I couldn't fairly speak for the other 2 people in the cinema, plus I didn't even care enough to vocalise it. The cast all looked older though, which is what lead me to assume time had passed. Yep, I'm basically Sherlock.

One or two points to make with something of a feminist bent: the women in this movie were really really only there to be fucked. Even the ones the 5 main male characters of the show were in love with: there to be fucked. Many of the women who appeared didn't get to speak, which was probably to their advantage as the speaking women were just being all bitchy by demanding things and trying to make fairly valid points about how the 5 main male characters were being complete dicks. Bitches, amiright? It already bores me that this is Entourage's 'thing', because nah. Not good enough. 

Cast: white, wealthy, male. Millions of dollars, nice cars, pool parties, boats. Nobody learned any kind of lesson of any kind. Nobody portrayed any sort of reality or insight into life that made me feel any differently about anything.

There. Done with that.

Random unexpected highlight: the "where are they now" situation where Haley Joel Osment (the kid from The Sixth Sense) pops up as a Texan billionaire's son. He grew a beard! He has a funny Texas accent! I wonder if he still sees dead people! While googling Haley just now to check how you spell his last name (ok, so I am doing a little fact checking) I found a lot of internet commentary about child movie stars who grow up to be funny-looking. Not that it matters, but they're not wrong. He's destined to play funny-looking folk for a good long while yet, and more power to him for it. We need more funny-looking role models.

There's sex and drugs, but not regularly enough for it to be any more than mildly titillating - speaking of which, just so many boobs. If you like boobs, go just for the boobs. As mentioned earlier, most of the boobs don't even talk, which makes things easier. There's a bit where someone sneaks some drugs into someone's water bottle and nothing crazy even happens, there's just some sex (and more boobs). Seriously, bunches of boobs. Comes with a warning though - if you like a bit of plot with your boobs you are in the wrong place.

The soundtrack is mainly hiphop which I believe goes nicely with all the weed we need to remember they smoke from watching the tv show - you wouldn't know it in the movie. I just want to sit them down and be like "listen, kids - decide about if you're really going to get into drugs or not. Stop hovering in the middle ground. You're wasting your time and mine". Yes, it has come to this - I wish there was more drug use. The craziest thing that happened was probably the Haley Joel Osment appearance, and it's not enough. Where were the tigers? The wacky aunt? The dead people?

I'm fairly sure that whatever the obstacle to be overcome is, they overcome it. I can't remember and I watched it about 4 hours ago. Pretty sure Mark Wahlberg can't remember either, and he was the producer and (huge spoiler alert, sorry) made a 5 line cameo appearance. Plus it's based in his life I think. I don't know. I don't know anymore.

I give it a quarter of a star. 

Day 5: Finally, a poem

sneaking out of Melbourne
just as i start to get blisters from my boots.
if there's a metaphor in that
i'm too hungover to know it.

Day 4: More breakfast.

Visiting Melbourne is equal parts friends, coffee, the Sticky Institute, trams and breakfast. When I manage to make two or more of these things overlap I feel like a successful human. I needed to feel a bit successful after the hungoverdom of Day 3. I did it by way of Dave, Kevin and Beth and Auction Rooms in North Melbourne. Every person I mention having breakfast in North Melbourne to always responds with “oh, Auction Rooms?”, like it’s a given. It’s how I know I’m on the right track. 

My favourite awkward aspect of my life that is a constant is ordering things in cafes and restaurants. I am hopeless at this. There are some key ways to be bad at being a customer, and here are my personal favourites:

  1. Have everyone turn up at different times, and get seated then ignored for reasons based on not explaining yourself clearly when you were seated. Curses to the attendee who turns up 10 minutes earlier than everyone else and needs the caffeine to be able to explain things about how she needs caffeine and what kind specifically she needs - see points 2 - 5. Classic catch-22, my friends.
  2. Mumble your order. Ensure this means that the person serving you has to ask you to repeat your order at least twice more. Make sure each repetition is a bit louder but still retains the quality of the original mumble. It’s important that both parties smile politely and helpfully at each other while you obliterate this exchange of information.
  3. Change your mind about what you want to order as the person taking your order gets to the table. Even better, change your mind as you open your mouth to order. Make sure your order comes out as a question due to your internalised shock at how you’ve slipped in an order game-changer at the last minute. “I’ll have a flat white on soy and the mushrooms?” you ask, effectively requiring that this person, who is not actually responsible for these sorts of decisions in your life, feels compelled to affirm your choice. 
  4. Cafe-specific: Lack awareness of all the different parts of your order the cafe staff need to know in order to create a coffee for you. Not only do you need to choose milk or no milk, you need to choose the type of milk, you need to specify espresso or filter, you need to choose the kind of beans based on the daily special or the house bean. You need to pick a size. This part actually stresses me out so much that I hadn’t tried a lot of things until I had friends working at my favourite local cafe to patiently recommend and suggest to me some alternatives to try. Bless ya, Paddy and Ellen.
  5. Forget they’re going to ask you how you’d like your eggs and stop listening or interacting with the person taking your order because you firmly believe you have sorted yourself out to have something at least vaguely edible coming your way. Completely tune out to the point where all the other people at your table are snapping their fingers in your face to bring you back to earth. Jerk to attention and then basically yell “Oh! Poached! Thanks!” at the poor person taking your order.
  6. Eye contact. Too little or too much, but make sure it’s the wrong amount. I like to go for too little when the person taking my order is so attractive that it’s clear they’re probably also an actor or an artist with a studio and a loft and maybe they write poetry and they’re just looking to meet someone special and they didn’t ever EXPECT to meet someone while they were working but life is crazy that way and when is too soon to ask for a number and do they like Thai food and… you know. So: no eye contact with the hotties, but laugh at their jokes whenever possible. Make too much eye contact with the friendly ones (it’s rare that hot ones are also friendly, but if they are, rule 1 still applies) to the point where it’s a staring competition and nobody actually wins anything. 
  7. Want more coffee and be weird about getting their attention to order more. In a perfect world, cafe staff notice as the final sip of coffee touches your lips and pop over to casually ask if you’d like another. As an aside, how many times in this scenario do they suggest coffee and you accept before they cut you off for being too caffeinated? Can you get cut off in a cafe? Must ask someone about this. In the real world, cafes are way too busy for that level of attention. I never want to be the dick who is like “um excuse me? We’d like more coffees?” (note, this is not really a question), but how to ask, how to ask… Engaging eye contact (tricky in consideration of the above point re: attractive staff) and hoping for the best is how I’ve approached this situation. Never not awkward, but I always mainly end up with more coffee, unless I surprise myself and order a mocha that will probably over-caffeinate and possibly kill me.
  8. Draw out the last coffee or bite of breakfast so long that the very busy cafe staff just give you the bill. 
  9. Split the bill - cards, cash, incorrect change - throw it all in there.
  10. Exit via the crowded entrance: hit everyone on the way out with your incredibly full handbag (why is it so full? what the fuck do you have in there?) and blissfully ignore the glares until you get outside and realise what you’ve done.

There are many many more ways to be an awkward customer in cafes and restaurants, but these should be enough to get you started if this is a course of action you’re interested in. 

There was more to this day: there was customer based awkwardness in Fitzroy and in Brunswick. I also nearly ‘bitch-please’d a person in a bar for not believing that I wanted Laphroig in my whisky drink. Sometimes it’s not me that’s the awkward one. Sometimes I know exactly what I want. 

A special bonus round of awkwardness at Auction Rooms: the girl at the counter looked familiar to me, so I said “oh, Hi!” in that bright and familiar way you do when you’ve forgotten someone’s name but are making up for it with smiles. She was bright and friendly back. I sat down, rifling through the mental catalogue of uni and work friends for her greater context in my life. I hadn’t had coffee yet. The rifling continued. I stared at her a little more to get the synapses firing. 

Halfway through greeting the friends that had just arrived, I realised I knew her from TV: a role in Josh Thomas’s “Please Like Me”. It’s a great show - you should check it out.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Day 3: Hungover on trams


Hungover on trams: second-guessing tram stops and getting off too early - power walking Errol St to make it to a breakfast where (thankfully) my breakfast companion turns out to also be hungover.

I try to make things work with long blacks, but it's the Bloody Mary on gin that gets it done, albeit temporarily. We both just can't even, and I'm warmed by the simple joy and companionship of a silly hungover friend. We laugh at our fucking hopelessness in that way you do when you wouldn't change any of your choices of the previous night. I drank 6 different things and at some incredible fried cheese. She (probably) kept drinking because there was a boy there. We're the same, and we're not sorry.

We wobble home after I gallantly finish her Bloody Mary (on vodka, mind you) to make up for where she failed. We moan while we drag ourselves home in a continuous zombie motion, moans punctuated with laughter at the plight of two 30 year old (almost; very nearly) women who cannot quite nail their shit down.

She goes upstairs to her bed and I lay face down on mine, fully clothed, for 15 minutes. I think about reasons to stay where I am, but the promise of the city (for me, glamorous and not a little fleeting) is too much. I put on mascara in the hope that fixes something about my face so not everyone will know about the choices I have recently made.

I have pink headphones to keep me company during the hours of city. I break up my wanderings with stops to my regular visits; the zine store below Flinders and Degraves where the tiny undergrad Arts students taking Asian Film and Cultural Studies courses let me interrupt and chat knowingly about racist lecturers. I pretend I am also 20 and filled with the idealism I remember from another life I had. 

Hangover persists. I try a cider; I chase it with a phone call from a friend. I buy magazines at Mag Nation and my correct change is the best flirting I can muster for the handsome hipster behind the counter. He compliments me on my something (I forget to listen in the panic of registering a compliment) and I smile-mumble my way out of the store to a cafe to mainline coffee. I try to go to a Bowie exhibit that doesn't start till late July. I find a few beautiful vintage dresses that I don't know how to get around trying on, so I just don't. I'll be regretting this decision even as I'm sitting on the plane flying out of the city.

I eat a burrito and there's so much capsicum in it that everything is ruined. The fact it's vegan makes me feel like I haven't completely failed at this day, but I'm not sure why. There's no fun making healthy choices when capsicum comes and fucks shit up.

I leave the city behind for friends and Japanese and wine and small boys who straighten out my hangover like no-one and nothing else has been able to all day. One of the tiny people squidges himself in next to me on a chair and I don't really read him a book, but we do look at the pictures in a backwards-to-forwards succession that works for both of us.

There's more to this night: there's high school friends and live music and scotch, there's tiredness and chatty cab drivers and finally there's bed. I survive the hangover day with minutes to spare and I lay in my bed put together in a dining room and I am so, so bone tired. I don't even have any dreams on this night.

That's how I got done with my hungover day.

Day 2: Rain & deep thoughts

I catch the train past kilometres of rainy beach. We turn inward toward the city, and suddenly I'm back into the return trip of a retail job I held onto for a year and a half after my undergraduate degree.

I soak up the graffitied back yards, thirsty for the colours and mess of it. I feel sad for the self that used to live in this, daily - mainly because she stopped romanticising the painted red bricks.

The dirty bits of the city are the parts I like the best - the parts where the weeds grow and the paint peels away. There's a part of me, of course, that loves the tidiness and perfection of the well-swept tourist friendly Fed Square- sanitised as fuck, culture alphabetised to be consumed at our leisure. I love that, in obedience.

But it's the parts we haven't cleaned up and tidied and polished, the forgotten piss-stained parts.

Day 1: Nostalgia reigns supreme

When you move out of the city, something must happen to your expectations. Everyone in the city is beautiful! I can’t stop looking at them; making eye contact and smiling at the woman with perfectly scuffed boots and woollen socks up to her knees; the young man with endlessly long legs encased in skinny jeans. Wishing I could sit and have coffee with a truly spectacular and symmetrical man with a black beard and peacoat to die for. Or kill for.

In the city, sense of possibility rolls over me in waves. I wake up much too early; a symptom of the regimented at-home life with the early morning gym routines and the constant go from when I open my eyes to when I close them again. I know why I do it, and what the end is; the means seem justifiable, but here and outside of my life I’m not going to pretend I don’t wonder.

I soak everything in, I eat it up in great big gulps like it’s going to disappear. I stay at a friend’s and am granted my own bedroom like a prize. I can pretend I live here this week. I wear my brown leather boots and skinny jeans that seem to be the uniform of Melbourne in winter. I carry a bag full of books to the Melbourne Uni library and busily type away on my new MacBook, glancing up to see that in fact, every other student madly typing in the place is also on a MacBook. I feel like we’re all part of something, and I suppose we are. They are all younger than me, and I am only 29.

I know I don’t go here, but I am pretending I go here, just till this assignment is finished, just till the end of the week. I want to go here again. I want to work here, and live here, and have the coffees with the handsome men. I can conveniently forget that when I did go here, when I lived here some 6 years ago, I barely ever had the sort of coffee, full of potential and electricity, that I am currently fantasising about. I was never single and carefree. This new Melbourne would be so different from the old Melbourne, and I’d have to renegotiate the whole deal before setting foot in it.

It’s hard to tell whether I prefer the anonymity of cityscape, or the “where everyone knows your name” of my home town. There’s a sparkly prize in the tiny town fame which is so easy to grasp, but my grey-sky self likes the fact she could disappear, if that’s what she wanted.

I romanticise the whole-fucking-lot of it. The red brick of the back streets of Parkville, terrace houses all lined up and falling apart in the way that only property worth actual millions of dollars can do. There are grassy verges and parks, the grey/blue cobblestone gutters for twisting your ankles on when you’re drunk and headed home. It’s never quiet, and me who loves quiet suddenly loves noise instead. Trams and construction work a few houses up - people and sirens and horns, a car driving past with the windows down and Beethoven’s something-or-other blaring out rudely like it thinks it’s hiphop.

This afternoon I get a little time with one of my favourite Melbourne women and her collection of awesome boys. I get banter and nonsense with an old friend that’s new again. I get to play trivia with people I do not know from countries I have not been to yet.

City, you are more than alright.