Showing posts from August, 2009

Weekend recap

Again, it wasn't too busy a weekend. When I wasn't indulging in my usual pop culture obsessions, I was working on the next Girlz 'N' Games comic (I was working on it till 12:30 last night in fact *yawn*), trying out some culinary experimentation with surprising success - homemade crumbed Wiener Schnitzel on Saturday evening and cheese soufflé on Sunday - and discovering, via a horribly mistimed midday trip to Makro, that apparently a lot of South Africans have adopted a "Fuck the recession" attitude. The crowds, the queues, the spending were overwhelming. I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Anyway, in terms of entertainment, the big screen and the little box won out this weekend.

My movie priority of the week was of course the South African set action-sci-fi-satire District 9. My full review will be appearing online soon, but I can say briefly that the film is a helluva lot of fun and well worth the praise it's been receiving. Ignore the morons ho…

Movies today, SA!

Only 2 films open in South Africa today, and no doubt that limited number is to give maximum exposure to this weekend's biggie, District 9.

I profiled District 9 as part of my blog's Trailer Tuesday feature but basically what you need to know is that this action sci-fi film is produced by Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson, comes from a South African writer-director (Neill Blomkamp), and was filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa with a South African cast and crew. Oh, and the film made back its entire $30 million production budget, and more, when it debuted in the #1 spot at the US box office. So, needless to say, locals are very, very excited about District 9 - success brings interest and adoration after all.

Anyway, in terms of plot, District 9 focuses on the problems caused when a group of insectoid-looking aliens are stranded on earth, and find themselves living in a squatter camp on the outskirts of Joburg while the world's leaders decide what to do with them.

The film…

Death of an 80s legend

In 2009, the Year of Celebrity Death, the passing of 59 year old John Hughes earlier this month barely made a blip of the radar. Then again, Hughes wasn't much of a celebrity. He wasn't much of a filmmaker anymore either, given that he had essentially retired and retreated from the public eye 15 years ago, back in 1994. However, if it hadn't been for this writer-director-producer, life - or, rather, pop culture - would have been very different for teenagers and children of the 1980s and early 1990s. Consider for a moment just a few of the memorable films that sprang from the mind of this copywriter-turned-comedic-filmmaker:

Given that I was only born in 1982 I didn't really encounter or appreciate Hughes' teen-centred work when it was originally released. In my teens however I thoroughly enjoyed Hughes' Brat Pack work. It was tradition at our high school to watch The Breakfast Club at some point as part of our Life Guidance classes. And the more I think about it…

Antichrist reviewed

There’s no doubt about it – Antichrist is sure to be one of the most divisive movies of 2009, a love-it-or-hate-it experience you’ll be thinking about long after leaving the cinema.

Antichrist, from celebrated Danish director Lars von Trier, is an arty film with a very high shock factor. Audience stamina is tested even during the opening sequence, when a dreamy, slo-mo sex scene between the film’s two stars (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) is interrupted within 30 seconds by a close-up penetration shot normally reserved for hardcore pornography. Immediately the audience is keyed to the fact that they will continually be ripped from their comfort zone and taken to some very dark, very graphic places.

The plot for Antichrist is straightforward. After the tragic loss of their son, an unnamed husband (Dafoe) and wife (Gainsbough) have to contend with their sorrow and guilt. Concerned by the heavily drugged state of his wife, the therapist husband convinces her to disregard her psychi…

Trailer Tuesday: Avatar

It's been 12 years since Titanic but James Cameron is FINALLY back with his directorial follow-up to the most successful film of all time. Anticipation levels are stratospherically high, but fortunately Avatar takes Cameron back to a genre he excels at: Action Sci-fi Adventure. Don't forget, he gave us the highly influential combo of Aliens, The Abyss and Terminators 1 and 2.

Anyway, Avatar has been James Cameron's dream project for 14 or so years but he was forced to wait until special effects evolved to the point where he could use new technology to realise his vision. Avatar combines live-action with realistic computer-generated characters created through the use of motion capture technology. This approach of course isn't new - Peter Jackson used it for Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies, and Robert Zemeckis has been playing with his dead-eyed human-CGI hybrids in Beowulf, The Polar Express and, now, A Christmas Carol.

Cameron, however, spent the last decade spear…

Weekend reportback

Again it was an enjoyably chilled weekend, where pop culture played a part but didn't dominate. On Friday night I socialised with friends at a braai-and-boardgames evening that quickly devolved into a lazy DVD-watching session. On Saturday I was at the surprisingly one-sided rugby (Go Sharks!), enjoying the rare opportunity to sit in a corporate box and gorge myself on free food and drink. And on Sunday we headed down the KZN South Coast to spoil the bf's grandmother with some fresh sea air, sunshine and a big brunch for her birthday. Anyway, this is the pop culture I did consume this weekend.

This weekend we revisited 2 classic action films on DVD, Starship Troopers and True Lies, from directors Paul Verhoeven and James Cameron respectively.

Already 15 years old, True Lies still holds up as a fantastic action-comedy-adventure. Who can forget Arnie's tango, Jamie Lee's striptease and seminal action sequences such as the horse vs. motorcycle chase, and the Harrier r…

Movies today, SA!

Six new movies open in South Africa today. None, however, are District 9 (we still have another week to wait for SA's most internationally successful film), and I can honestly say that there is very little in this week's offering that appeals to me. The 2 biggies for the week are:

Year One - In this comedy Jack Black and Michael Cera go the Monty Python's Life of Brian route and play a couple of useless, wisecracking hunters who adventure through the ancient Middle East, meeting assorted biblical figures. I commented on the trailer a while back, and I honestly wasn't very impressed then. Year One seems like the same old shtick from everyone involved. Apparently the critics agree. Year One is just 16% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Ow!

Orphan - This horror-mystery centres on a grieving couple who adopt an oddball little girl with some very dark secrets. It looks like a B-grade effort and doesn't star anyone recognisable apart from Peter Sarsgaard, but I was very impressed …

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen reviewed

The best way to describe Transformers sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is that it’s a film designed solely for hormonal 12 year old boys with ADHD. It’s big, it’s dumb, it features long, lingering shots of pouty lipped sexpots and it makes very little sense.

What plot there is in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen centres on the continued battle between the human-allied Autobots and the evil Decepticons. Having had the bolts and screws kicked out of them on innumerable occasions the Decepticons have a plan to sway the fight in their favour – they want to resurrect their leader Megatron and bring a powerful ancient Transformer, the Fallen, back to Earth. To do that, the Decepticons need information possessed only by Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), the young human hero from the first film.

One of my major complaints about the first Transformers was that the film spent too much time focusing on the boring humans and didn’t bother to develop the Transformers as “real” characters w…

Girlz 'N' Games #50: He's just not that into you!

So here we are at the landmark Issue #50 of Girlz ‘N’ Games. Creating this strip gave me the opportunity to do 2 things:

1) Give a little more “screen time” to Dorian, Girlz ‘N’ Games third main character, behind Todd and Erin. Dorian was in fact named after Dorian Gray, the character in Oscar Wilde’s famous gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. GNG's Dorian is good looking, witty, the ladies love him but he suffers from a serious case of arrogant narcissism. The result is that he spends a lot of time bemoaning his singledom yet is largely blind to the affections that some very attractive, sometimes very loose, women have for him.

Although I didn’t draw it, I imagine the 5th panel of the comic above would be something like the final panel of strip #35, followed by Dorian rolling his eyes at the antics of yet another “crazy woman”.

2) Comment on Fat Princess, the (somewhat) controversial game available to download for the PS3 if you’re on the PlayStation Network – which, for thos…

Trailer Tuesday: Inglourious Basterds

The geeky Interwebs have been going wild for the curiously spelled Inglourious Basterds for so long, I feel like the film has been out for months. However, until watching this trailer I hadn't seen a single second of writer-director Quentin Tarantino's latest post-modern cinematic experiment - a tribute to Spaghetti Westerns using World War II iconography.

Personally, I hate Westerns but the Basterds trailer resurrects many fond memories of WWII action-adventures like The Dirty Dozen, Kelly's Heroes, The Great Escape and Where Eagles Dare. And these films belong to one of my all-time favourite genres, so naturally I'm keen for this new, no doubt "arty", addition to the genre.

Inglourious Basterds focuses on a maverick US military unit assembled by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) with the sole intention of making the Nazis suffer. These 8 Jewish-Americans infiltrate beyond enemy lines and set about performing their mission - which also involves collecting hundreds o…

Weekend pop culture consumption

After last week's long holiday weekend, where I just felt the need to be out there, doing things and generally being active, this weekend was pretty chilled. The most constructive thing I did was working on Girlz 'N' Games #50, due for online debut later this week.

Anyway, in terms of my pop culture consumption worth commenting on, I caught a few movies and played quite a bit of World of WarCraft. As I mentioned a few weeks back I decided to close my WOW account because after 2+ years of mostly solo play I was bored. I'd done everything I wanted to with my favourite character, Euridycce the undead warlock. However, since the bf has been back he's been on a WOW kick and I have someone to play with again. Or rather, we've been running around, questing with our lower level characters - my blood elf paladin Herkon (based on my sexually ambiguous D&D character), and his Tauren druid Merle. So although my account expires today, I may be reactivating it sooner rath…

Movies today, SA!

Well, the surge of midyear blockbusters is starting to slow. There are a few highly anticipated films still to reach us (Disney/Pixar's Up being a prime example) but most of the biggies have past. This weekend 4 new films hit South African cinemas.

My pick of the week is GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Like Transformers, GI Joe is based on a popular 80's cartoon series and toy range, and like Transformers (and its sequel) GI Joe seized the #1 spot at the US box office when it opened last weekend.

GI Joe is clearly intended to kick off a new action-fantasy film franchise. The movie centres on an elite fighting force that brings together assorted military specialists - all of whom have a curious fondness for figure-hugging body armour - to tackle the threat of the mysterious Cobra organisation.

I've been trying not to read too much about GI Joe, but critical response seems to be mixed, with the film sitting at 40% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Some have celebrated the film for its se…


Sorry for being AWOL and neglecting my blog duties for so long. Life has been rather distracting and draining as of late...

For those of you with an interest in my personal life, you'll probably remember a recent few posts (here and here) about my grandmother's stroke. Well, on Wednesday, 5 August at 10am, after a week and a half at home, my gran was finally admitted to the Entabeni Rehabilitation Unit. At 6am on Thursday, 6 August she dozed off and died while a nurse was checking her blood pressure.

An immediate call to our house by my grandmother's doctor informed us of what happened, and reconfirmed my theory that phone calls before 6:30am never deliver good news.

As I've mentioned on my blog before my grandmother was not one of those physically and emotionally distant see-you-only-on-Christmas-and-at-other-important-family-gatherings grandmothers. She had lived with us my entire life. Yet, curiously, I don't feel as sad as I think I should. If I sit and remember m…

Gaming time: Dragonfire & ICON 2009

Following on from my earlier post on ICON, South Africa’s biggest games and comics convention, this post focuses specifically on the gaming that I took part in. This excludes Magic: The Gathering, tabletop wargaming and the PC gaming tournament so I obviously can’t comment on those areas.

Before this though, let me take a moment to punt Dragonfire, South Africa's OLDEST and second biggest gaming convention, which is taking place in Cape Town this coming weekend (7-10 August). If you have any geeky tendencies and you happen to be in the picturesque Mother City over the next few days you are obligated to make an appearance at the Kramer Law Building on the University of Cape Town's Middle Campus, where the event is taking place (having been organised by the CLAWS society). Role playing, boardgames, LARPing, wargaming, fantasy card games, socials - it's all happening.

This year's Dragonfire theme is Middle East vs. Middle Earth and you can check out the Dragonfire events …