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Showing posts from December, 2009

Happy New Year!

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I don't normally celebrate New Year's Eve - or rather, I keep it low key and relaxed. However, this year I may make an exception because I'm so glad that 2009, the worst year of my life, is OVER!

Wishing you and your loved ones a fantastic 2010, filled with exciting new opportunities, adventure and success.

The Best and Worst Films of 2009

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Every year around this time, give or take a few days, I compile my list of the best, worst, most memorable and most disappointing films to be released locally during the previous 365 days. Now obviously I don't get to see everything, and there are likely to be some important omissions from the list as a result of that. Still, I managed to squeeze in 35 cinema visits this year, and you can see the end of this post for the full list of films - with links to individual reviews.


For the record I consider myself to be a rather "ordinary" cinemagoer in that my tastes are pretty conventional and unpretentious. Although I've probably become more demanding in terms of my movie entertainment, I'm still more likely to be watching the latest much-hyped Hollywood blockbuster than seeking out an obscure festival circuit charmer.

But I digress...

2009 seemed to be an OK year at the movies. Not much more. There were very few faultless films for the entire world to fall in love with…

Paranormal Activity reviewed

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The degree to which you enjoyed 1999’s The Blair Witch Project will probably determine how much you appreciate current horror hit Paranormal Activity. You see, out of all the films in the past decade that have been shot in the hand-held video camera style, and pretended to be found real-life footage – including Cloverfield, REC and Quarantine – Paranormal Activity is most reminiscent of Blair Witch in terms of tone and pacing.

Shot for just $15 000, Paranormal Activity is an independent film that has gone on to become the most profitable film of all time. It’s also essentially a 2-man show, with unknown actors Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat turning in solid, appropriately credible performances as likeable young couple Katie and Micah.


Since childhood Katie has experienced intermittent hauntings, as an apparently sinister entity has followed her from home to home. Now that she’s moved in with her boyfriend the paranormal experiences – which take the form of flickering lights, inexpli…

Trailer Tuesday: The Hurt Locker

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Since July I've been hearing exceptionally good things about action war drama, The Hurt Locker. Now, finally watching the trailer, I can begin to understand why the film has been hyped to the (dangerous) extreme it has.

The Hurt Locker centres on the US military's elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad, who, in 2004, had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world: disarming an apparently endless series of roadside bombs in Baghdad, while battling insurgents and, more often enough, each other. Essentially an independent film, The Hurt Locker stars the underrated Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, along with the more recognisable faces of Ralph Fiennes, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly and Guy Pearce.


The Hurt Locker is written by Mark Boal, a journalist who was embedded with a special bomb unit in Iraq, and witnessed firsthand the immense stress these men live with as they attempt to protect lives and perform a job where there is zero margin for error. The film i…

Christmas time!

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Well, here we are 4 days from the end of 2009 (and just under 2 weeks from my birthday!), and I'm sure many of you who are in the office and haven't taken off this week are in a mental go-slow mode. I know that I am struggling to motivate myself to do my freelance work today.

Anyway, I hope you had a fantastic Christmas long weekend. I'm something of a "best of both worlds" person when it comes to Christmas weather and this year Durban didn't disappoint. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were cool and wet - ideal for embracing your English heritage and tucking into a big roast turkey with all the trimmings... and following it all up with a fat helping or two of trifle. (There's nothing like hot, humid weather for killing your appetite for rich food!)


Of course, if the ideal Christmas Day is cold, the perfect Boxing Day - or The Day of Goodwill, as it has become known in post-Apartheid South Africa - must be sunny and hot. Then it's all about lazing by th…

Merry freakin' Christmas!

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One final bit of fun for Christmas Eve - a festive Family Guy collage that I put together in Photoshop. Happy holidays!

Girlz 'N' Games #59: Have yourself a sparkly Christmas!

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Right, so here it is: the special Christmas 2009 Girlz 'N' Games comic. Really it's the sister strip to #58, seeing as they both are Twilight themed.

I decided for once to give the character of Dorian - a confirmed bachelor - a joyous Christmas, especially after the debacle of last year's festive celebrations, when his supposedly cunning gift idea backfired royally.

Dorian's happy ending this year did of course mean slapping on a thick layer of base and lipstick, but I guess the end justifies the means. Who would have ever thought that pasty wimpiness would be considered sexy? And I apologise right now to all the guys out there for posting the following image... Turn away, quickly!


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As usual, if you like my latest Girlz 'N' Games comic, please forward it on to your like-minded friends. You can also show your support by joining the Girlz 'N' Games Facebook fan group, which is open to all. The big advantage of joining is that you'l…

Pfangirl's Pfilmic Advent Calendar: Day 1

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And here we are: Christmas Eve at last. The preparations have been made and soon that jolly skeleton man will be placing carefully wrapped snakes, shrunken heads and snapping killer jack-in-the-boxes under your tree. Ho ho ho!

Wishing you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and happy holidays. See you on the flipside.

Avatar reviewed

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It’s been 12 years since director James Cameron wowed the world with Titanic, the most successful film of all time, as well as only 1 of 3 movies to ever win a jaw-dropping 11 Academy Awards (the others being Ben-Hur and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). Now Cameron is back and captivating audiences once more with an epic sci-fi fantasy adventure that is assured of (flawed) classic status.


Avatar is set in 2154 and centres on the alien moon of Pandora, where profit-hungry humans have initiated a military-backed mining operation to seize the planet’s rare mineral resources. The problem though is that Pandora is an exceptionally hostile world, and its native population, the Na’vi – giant, blue-skinned warriors and nature worshippers – are highly distrustful of the “Sky People.”

Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and her team of scientists have had some success interacting with the Na’vi through the control of genetically engineered, hybrid Na’vi-human bodies (Avatars), …

Pfangirl's Pfilmic Advent Calendar: Day 2

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The true meaning of Christmas. Just a little reminder.

Also, not a bad little movie.

Trailer Tuesday: Iron Man 2

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The three golden rules for producing a good sequel: 1) Make sure to keep, and enhance, the elements that the audience loved the first time around. 2) Dump what didn't quite work. And 3) Up the stakes for the hero.

Judging by the trailer for Iron Man 2, the filmmakers are sticking very closely to this winning formula. Set six months after the events of the first film, here we have Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) more of a cocky showman than ever before. And this is despite the fact that he's one of the few superheroes to "out" himself, and no longer hide behind a secret identity.


Of course the problem with going public is that you put yourself and your loved ones in danger, and in Iron Man 2 Stark is faced with a number of new threats: not only does the US government want to seize his groundbreaking Iron Man suit, but there's also rival millionaire industrialist Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), sexy spy Natasha Romanovna/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and vengeful Ru…

Pfangirl's Pfilmic Advent Calendar: Day 3

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To anyone about to be flooded with annoying relatives, or forced to sleep on uncomfortable sleeper cots as your whole clan converges on one family member's way-too-small home, you have my condolences. Just remember to keep an eye out for squirrels, stay away from those black sheep cousins, don't overcook the turkey and whatever you do, don't rely on that Christmas bonus coming through!

The War of Art: Q&A with writer Steven Pressfield

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I first heard the name Steven Pressfield when a friend and I - both Ancient Greek history and mythology enthusiasts - were discussing the Battle of Thermopylae, where a small force of 300 Spartans, and a few thousand allies, valiantly held off a massive, supposedly million-strong, invading force of Persians.

Most people will probably be familiar with this slice of history thanks to the film 300, which was based on Frank Miller's graphic novel. 300, however, never pretended to be an accurate account of historical events. It is told through the filter of a storytelling character after all, who is trying to inspire the Greek soldiers at his campfire. As a result 300's Spartan heroes are thong-wearing models of machismo: handsome, muscled and utterly fearless (their only armor is helmet and shield). Meanwhile the Persian villains are queer, lecherous monstrosities. For a reader and filmgoer it's jolly good entertainment but hardly realistic.


For a "proper" fictionalise…

Pop culture accomplishments a week before Christmas

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1) To start with, it's not pop culture-related, but you know Christmas is almost here when the family gatherings ramp up in frequency and your stomach goes into serious training, given the vast quantities of good (frequently rich) food and drink it's subjected to. It was my father's birthday on Saturday so there was a test run for our tummies a week before Christmas - with a spread of cold meats, bread and salads, followed by strawberry pavlova, fruit salad, ice cream and chocolate cake. My tried and tested "No Second Helpings" strategy seems to be the best way to survive the seasonal gluttony.


2) Speaking of Christmas this weekend I had to contend with 3 super grouchy female Scrooges, between the ages of 1 and 90. We were treated to snapping, death stares and full blown tantrums. I'm not saying we don't all have our bad moods, and women are prone to emotional swings, but jeez, ladies, take your "Bah! Humbug!" attitudes and PMS-pissyness somew…