Showing posts from October, 2009

Movies today, SA!

Just 3 new films open in South Africa today, which is a good thing because I have yet to see either of my top 2 picks from last Friday - Inglourious Basterds and Gamer. Yup, I've been a slacker when it comes to movie-watching this week!

Anyway, seeing as tomorrow is Halloween, it's kind of inevitable that my Film of the Week is a creepy looking horror/sci-fi hybrid called Pandorum. You should know the drill by now: Two astronauts (Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster) wake from hyper-sleep to find themselves on an apparently deserted space ship with no memory of their mission or how they got there. As the 2 men explore the craft a terrifying truth becomes apparent and so begins their desperate quest for survival.

Right, so the big question is whether Pandorum is the next Event Horizon? Honestly, the film's chances aren't that bad, considering it comes from the same production team responsible for the "Resident Evil" film franchise, including Event Horizon's directo…

Interview with Anne Rice

Seeing as it's something of an unofficial Vampire Week on my blog in the lead up to Halloween, I thought you might be interested in this short Wall Street Journal interview with author Anne Rice.

Rice, of course, is the grande dame of 20th Century vampire fiction, injecting the genre with gothic opulence and gender bending eroticism long before Stephenie Meyer had Bella hanging out at the Cullens' mansion and making goo-goo eyes at Edward. The most famous of Rice's Vampire Chronicles is the first book in the series, Interview with the Vampire, which in turn was adapted into one of my favourite ever vampire movies, starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas and Christian Slater.

I must confess that although I loved her earlier work (I gave up on the series after The Tale of the Body Thief) I always thought Anne Rice was a bit of a loon. This seemed confirmed when she converted back to Christianity and Roman Catholicism in 1998, vowing to forever turn her…

By Toutatis! Happy 50th birthday Asterix and Obelix

Last year the month of October saw both Paddington Bear (on the 13th) and the Smurfs (on the 23rd) celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first ever print appearance. In a curious coincidence, October 2009 marks the 50th “birthday” of yet another set of beloved fictional characters – whose colourful antics have kept children, and adults, entertained for decades.

A happy birthday today then to those “indomitable Gauls,” Asterix and Obelix (and Dogmatix of course)!

Created by writer René Goscinny (who also worked on the Lucky Luke series) and artist Albert Uderzo, the Asterix comic books have been translated into well over a hundred languages and dialects, and have sold over 325 million copies worldwide in the last half century, making them one of France’s most successful ever literary exports.

For those of you who don’t know anything about them, small, shrewd Asterix and bulky, dim Obelix are best friends and unlikely ancient world heroes in the year 50BC. They live a small village in G…

Girlz 'N' Games comic #55: The WOWderful women of WarCraft

Yay for Blizzard! If they hadn't insisted that all players merge their existing World of WarCraft account with a new account by mid November - to enable future cross-faction, cross-server and cross-game chat with friends - this comic probably wouldn't have happened.

You see in November last year, to celebrate the 4th birthday of the super smash hit MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), Blizzard gifted all World of WarCraft (WOW) players with a special in-game pet - an adorable little polar bear cub.

And I admit that the Baby Blizzard Bear's high levels of cuteness tugged at my heartstrings... those same heartstrings that tighten up whenever I have to kill baby animals or their parents in the game.

So the thought came to me that the players who kept summoning their Baby Blizzard Bear to watch his endearing antics MUST be female in real life. This in turn meant that Blizzard had given WOW players a further birthday gift in addition to the pet - a sur…

Trailer Tuesday: Daybreakers

Vampires. Vampires are everywhere these days. If it isn't zombies it's vampires! Just the other day I walked past a massive Twilight display, complete with candles, goblets and red velvet, in an Exclusive Books window. Sitting in the cinema a few minutes later, I was subjected to back-to-back trailers for 2 vampire movies. I couldn't help thinking I should really have finished my epic vampire novel years ago - I would so be cashing in right now given the current craze for all things pasty, immortal and blood thirsty.

But I digress. I said I saw back-to-back trailers for 2 vampire movies. The first was for Twilight sequel New Moon. The second, however, was for a little known sci-fi horror thriller called Daybreakers.

Taking its cue more from the Blade films and I Am Legend, as opposed to Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer, Daybreakers centres on a (quite literally) dark future where, in 2017, vampires are the majority and human beings the minority. The latter, in fact, are hunted …

Just a sharp toothed reminder...

A reminder for South African fans of vampire series True Blood that Season 2 begins on MNET tomorrow evening, Tuesday, 27 October, at 10pm. Sookie, Bill, Sam, Jason, Tara, Eric and co. will all be back for more bloodletting, sex, sleaze and the supernatural in the sultry Deep South.

I've been doing my damnedest not to spoil these 12 new episodes for myself, seeing as the show already finished its Season 2 run in the States well over a month ago. Now they're here, and I'm super excited. I love True Blood!

Weekend Pop Culture consumption

For once, Film Viewing didn't play too large a part in my weekend. Rather, I seemed to spend a lot of time being all domesticated-like, giving Nigella a run for her money, and getting in touch with my Greek heritage by making moussaka on Friday night and souvlaki and stuffed tomatoes for Sunday lunch, catering for 6 people. Phew.

While searching around for a good marinade for the souvlaki (AKA kebabs), I happened to look inside a local bestselling cookbook that dates all the way back to the 1980s, and is still widely available thanks to regular reprints. Thing is, Best South African Braai Recipes has never been updated, and the result is a few fantastic pics, like this one below, which perfectly capture a long gone era. I thought it was too classic a depiction of 80s white Afrikaans South Africa not to share. It made me smile nostalgically at least...

Books and comics
Anyway, Saturday proved to be my most productive day as I finished drawing and inking the next Girlz 'N' Game…

Movies opening today, SA!

Six new films open in South Africa today and these are my top 2 picks for the weekend and coming week:

1) Inglourious Basterds - Finally there's something at the cinema worth getting excited about! It's been a long wait (over 2 months) for locals but Quentin Tarantino's highly anticipated World War II action-adventure-drama is here. I've profiled the film before so I don't have much else to add other than it looks like a great deal of stylish fun - a more comedic, gory and intense take on WWII caper films like The Dirty Dozen (which I adore, for the record).

For those of you who don't know much about Inglourious Basterds, it centres on 2 completely separate groups out for Nazi blood on the night of an important film premiere in Paris. The top German leadership - including Hitler himself - will be present at the event. Keen to collect as many Nazi scalps as possible, American Lieutenant Aldo Raine and his top secret military unit, the Basterds, team up with German…

Calling all aspirant young South African creatives

An exciting, month-long, online interactive campaign has just kicked off, and with it the chance for young South Africans to pursue a dream career in creative media.

Milk My Mind is a vibrant, frequently updated video blog (vlog) set up by creative media school SAE Institute Cape Town to showcase amazing local talent in the areas of film making, animation and sound engineering. You can check out the posted clips, and, via the blog, Twitter or the Facebook fan page, make your own suggestions in terms of what you'd like to see.

Forming an important part of the campaign is a competition that gives site visitors the chance to win some very nice prizes. Simply by entering your details you could win time with industry experts, or walk away with one of three SAE bursaries, each valued at
R25 000. You choose what you want!

The Milk My Mind campaign is running for a full month, so you have until mid November to check out the talent on display, and enter the competition.

Established in 1976,…

Jennifer’s Body reviewed

Jennifer’s Body is a pleasant surprise. The film is certainly nothing special and for the large part is pretty predictable. However, as far as blending horror and comedy goes, this 2009 film accomplishes it far more successfully, and is therefore more accessible to casual moviegoers (i.e. non horror fans), than the goofy Drag Me to Hell earlier this year.

To be fair though, Jennifer’s Body is far stronger when viewed as a dark high school comedy than a conventional horror film – because it’s honestly not that scary or gory. Directed by Girlfight’s Karyn Kusama and scripted by Juno’s Academy Award winning Diablo Cody, Jennifer’s Body is highly girl-centric.

Frequently touching on issues of female friendship and the confidence problems plaguing teenage girls – whether popular or socially sidelined – the movie centres on lifelong BFFs (Best Friends Forever), Jennifer (Megan Fox), a sultry and slightly slutty cheerleader, and dorky Needy (Amanda Seyfried), who cares for Jennifer deeply but…

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane reviewed

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane is my first ever experience of Robert E. Howard, arguably one of the greatest writers of pulp fiction, and, more importantly, a seminal figure in the sword-and-sorcery fantasy subgenre.

And although Howard is also often considered alongside Tolkien in terms of defining epic or high fantasy in the 20th Century, his work is vastly different. There may be the same battle between good and evil set in a magic-saturated earlier age, and everyone may be painted in broad strokes – existing as types rather than credible, realistic figures – but Howard’s work is much darker, graphically violent and action-packed. There are no serene encounters or tempered discussions here; just combat and furious rages.

I’m actually glad that I started with the adventures of Solomon Kane as opposed to leaping straight into Howard’s more famous, and more frequently imitated, tales of Conan the Barbarian. Although Conan is regarded more as sword-and-sorcery than epic fantasy, the s…

Trailer Tuesday: A Christmas Carol

If you're one of those people who can't stand the sight of Christmas decorations appearing in malls around mid October, then I suggest you stop reading now. You see, I'm NOT one of those people (I've already bought 2 presents, ha!) and this week's featured trailer is about as Christmas-y as you can get.

A Christmas Carol, from Disney, is the upteenth film adaptation (the 3rd from Disney alone) of Charles Dickens' beloved story. A Christmas Carol centres on Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean-spirited miser in Victorian London, who is forced to reevaluate his "humbug" attitude and actions when he is visited on Christmas Eve by the miserable spirit of his long dead business partner, and 3 other ghosts.

This time the Scrooge story takes the form of a CGI-animated family film that utilises performance capture technology. This approach isn't surprising given that Robert Zemeckis is in the director's chair, and is responsible for screenwriting duties as well. O…

Marge goes large!

In case you've been experiencing some kind of media blackout these past few weeks, you might have missed the news that beloved cartoon mom Marge Simpson - of The Simpsons fame - is stripping down for the November edition of Playboy magazine (on American newsstands from 16 October). This will mark the first time that a cartoon character has made the cover and centrefold of the famous men's magazine.

Now of course this is all just a publicity stunt on the part of Playboy, whose sales, like most traditional print publications of late, have been slipping badly. I'd also argue that Marge's magazine appearance is intended to provide an attention boost for the Simpsons as well, seeing as the TV show is now in its twentieth year, and battling criticism that it's long lost its freshness.

Anyway, Marge's Playboy pics have just appeared online, and as expected, they're only mildly raunchy, and quite tasteful - as Playboy shoots tend to be when compared with those in oth…

You Rock! and other weekend pop culture

In terms of pop culture consumption these past few days, it was Gaming that dominated over Film Watching and Reading. This said, I did finish The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard this weekend. However, I enjoyed this collection of short stories, poems and unfinished fragments so much I think it deserves a full review (i.e. its own blog post) later this week.

Anyway, in terms of Film Watching this past week I was disappointed by 2 films I had always been intrigued about, and finally ended up catching on TV. Both were visual treats but something just felt "off" about them.

The Fountain, from Requiem For a Dream's Darren Aronofsky, is a trippy fantasy/sci-fi flick meets love story. In 3 related story arcs - involving an conquistador adventuring in South America, a contemporary medical researcher and a hairless Tai Chi-practicing astronaut who floats in a bubble - a man (Hugh Jackman) struggles to save his dying love (Rachel Weisz).

Frankly it's weird stuff…

Movies today, SA!

Five new films open in South Africa today, and my 2 personal picks of the weekend are as follows:

1) Jennifer's Body - I've blogged before about this horror comedy, starring Transformers' Megan Fox and Mamma Mia's Amanda Seyfried, and based on a smart-talking screenplay by Juno's Diablo Cody. Basically it's a good girl vs. bad girl tale, in which shy blonde heroine Needy (Seyfried) must stand up to her sultry brunette best friend Jennifer (Fox), who has recently been possessed by a demon and is now intent on devouring all the high school boys in their small town.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that like Drag Me to Hell, Jennifer's Body may not be everybody's cup of tea. The meshing of humour and horror has always been something of an acquired taste. So it doesn't surprise me at all to see Jennifer's Body sitting at a middling 42% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm still keen for the film though, and desperately hoping it injects some w…

My 80's Childhood Wouldn't Have Been the Same Without...

Welcome to a nostalgia-driven new blog feature that will hopefully become a regular part of this site. Basically, as the title suggests, in every installment I'll be looking at something/anything from the 1980s (and early 1990s) that played a major role in defining the childhood of us 80's kids.

First up is Witchcraft & Wizardry. Now before the fundamentalist Bible bashers throw up their arms in despair, and anyone else starts muttering "What the hell kind of childhood did she have?" I'm not talking about the performance of occult or pagan rituals. I'm talking about the degree to which magic or, more specifically, spell casting popped up in the pop culture I used to ravenously consume.

There's no doubt about it - old school fantasy was big in the 1980s, especially for kids, and it managed to permeate basically all cultural mediums. Why there was so much magic-themed entertainment around, I'm not quite sure. The world (especially the United States) …