Showing posts from February, 2010

Movies today, South Africa!

It's a big day at South African cinemas today, with something like 8 new movies making their debut.

These include Jozi, a frenetic local comedy about drug addiction and overcoming the humour-killing stresses of urban life in SA. Then there's acclaimed Aussie Aboriginal drama Samson and Delilah (100% Fresh), and 60's set drama A Single Man (85% Fresh), which has just landed Colin Firth an Oscar nomination.

If these last 2 films are too highbrow and unconventional for you, then there's also always the action movie From Paris With Love (35% Fresh), which presents the unusual onscreen pairing of John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, as well as Toy Story 2 (100% Fresh), re-releasing for a single week in 3D.

In terms of my personal picks for this weekend though, it looks like it's going to be a box office face-off between the following 2 films:

It's Complicated is easily the most well advertised of all the films released today. From Nancy Meyers, the writer-director o…

"Road to Jordan": Part 1 – Introduction to Egypt and Cairo

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I returned from my 3-week tour of Egypt and Jordan, and I think it’s about time I did some more comprehensive blogging about the experience – broken down into a few short-ish posts.

To begin with, it’s worth doing something of a basic introduction to Egypt from a tourist’s perspective. For starters, I would definitely only recommend visiting the country as part of a tour group because it makes getting around, and gaining entry to sites, so much easier. You see, Egypt, paranoid about the threat of terrorism to its precious tourist income, has overcompensated in terms of security. There are innumerable police blockades, military convoys and general petty officialdom – all of which can frustrate your free movement, at least around tourist areas.

More important than ease of moment, it helps to have a tour guide – ideally a trained Egyptologist – with you all the time because generally in Egypt exhibits and important sites come without information boards or …

An Education reviewed

An Education is a highly acclaimed British coming-of-age comedy-drama, written by Nick Hornby (based on a memoir by Lynn Barber) and directed by Lone Scherfig. The film is up for 3 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay and has been nominated for, and won innumerable more awards. In fact, just earlier this week, the film’s until now unknown star Carey Mulligan picked up the BAFTA (British Academy Film Award) for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film.

Needless to say then that An Education is teetering close to the brink of overhype. Fortunately though, the film is worthy of the accolades it has been receiving, particularly in regards to performances. While the storyline is ultimately predictable, it’s the excellent, likeable acting that gives An Education much of its charm.

An Education is set in the suburbs of London in 1961, and centres on overachieving teenager Jenny Mellor (Mulligan) – who seems to have spent her whole school…

Trailer Tuesday: The Book of Eli

The Apocalypse is, like, so hot right now! Forget celebrated video game Fallout 3. On the big screen in the last year alone cinema audiences have visited the bleak, not-too-distant future in Terminator Salvation, The Road and, now, The Book of Eli.

Denzel Washington is apparently channeling his inner Wesley Snipes for some blade-swinging, ass-kicking action in this action-drama about a grim loner (is there any other kind?) who wanders the sandblasted wastelands of America 31 years after a nuclear war destroyed civilisation as we know it. It turns out that unwilling warrior Eli is actually protecting something of immense value - a book that can redeem a society that has degraded into a collection of cowards, bandits and cannibal gangs.

If you've watched the trailer above you'll have a very good idea what this book is. If you haven't, it doesn't matter. All you need to know is that Carnegie (Gary Oldman), the self-appointed mayor of a dangerous, ramshackle town, learns t…

Pop culture consumption this weekend

The past few days were rather Pop Culture-lite in terms of my activities. I found myself working more on my personal projects - like my Egyptian holiday scrapbook - than embracing the lazy escapism offered by the entertainment industry. Plus, on Sunday I was in a bit of a funk, having been subjected to the dreaded question combo of "So what are your plans? How's the job hunt? Are you looking at going overseas?" These are all topics I am very sensitive about at the moment. But at least I didn't suppress my anger and anxiety this time, instead snapping "I'm scared alright? Is that what you wanted to hear?" It turns out that communicating your painful feelings does really work a treat, and ends interrogation then and there. Anyway...

On Saturday evening I hosted a little WatchmenUltimate Cut party, inviting friends over to watch the DVD, which extends the 162-minute theatrical cut of the film to 215 minutes. You see, the Ultimate Cut takes the Director&…

Durban Game Day cancelled

Earlier this week I did my bit to promote tabletop gaming and pen-and-paper role-playing in the coastal cities of South Africa. You see, both Durban and Cape Town were hosting "Learn to play" gaming events for anyone interested in taking up role-playing games.

Unfortunately I have to report that the Durban event, "Learn to Role-play Cthulhutech" has been canceled due to a scheduling conflict regarding the venue. You can of course still pitch up at Destiny in Windermere Centre on Saturday morning, but you're likely to be confronted by hordes of pimply Yu-Gi-Oh! players instead of some much more mature, definitely much more sophisticated *cough cough* role-players.

Capetonians, please note that your Dungeons & Dragons-themed Game Day event is definitely still happening tomorrow! That's Saturday, 20 February.

Movies today, South Africa!

There are over 7 new films opening in South Africa today, including the highly anticipated South African wildlife adventure White Lion, Crazy Heart, the 93% Fresh musical drama that just scored Jeff Bridges an Academy Award nomination, and even the original Toy Story (100% Fresh), re-releasing for a single week in 3D.

My picks for the weekend however are as follows - and curiously, all are adaptations of popular novels:

1) If the trailer is to be believed, then Dear John is a good old-fashioned Hollywood tearjerker with beautiful people and lots of gloss. Based on the Nicholas (A Walk to Remember, The Notebook) Sparks'novel, the film tells the story of a soldier, John (Channing Tatum), and a college student, Savannah (Amanda Seyfried), who meet during Spring Break and promptly fall in love. The couple refuses to let John's frequent deployments get in the way of their relationship and remain in close contact through continual letter writing until tragedy is triggered.

Dear John is…

Girlz 'N' Games webcomic #61: Welcome to the World of... Avatar!

And I'm back with a new Girlz 'N' Games comic! This gaming-film thematic hybrid of a strip will probably be more enjoyable for the World of WarCraft players out there, or at least anyone familiar with MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role-playing games).

If you don't fall into either category, well, I hope you still get a kick out of the Avatar visuals. It was certainly a challenge to create them - particularly the logo in Panel 1 (which was designed to look like a World of WarCraft loading screen out of interest) and the incredibly detailed flying beasties in Panel 4.

For anyone who really cannot identify the point of this comic - like the guys at console-centric gaming website apparently - it's really just visually reiterating a comment that I made towards the end of my Avatar film review. Basically, I think it's very easy to view Avatar as an unofficial World of WarCraft film. There are so many striking similarities between the film and the…

Valentine’s Day reviewed

Valentine’s Day, the all-star romantic comedy drama from Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall is actually a pleasant surprise. Sure the film is superficial, but for the most part it avoids the usual frenetic genre silliness to emerge as a viewing experience that is both sweet and harmless.

Set on Valentine’s Day in Los Angeles, Valentine’s Day looks at the interlinking romantic fortunes and misfortunes of around a dozen men and women over the course of 18 hours. The impressive, likable cast includes Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Jamie Foxx, Shirley MacLaine, Patrick Dempsey, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner and George Lopez, just to name a few of the recognisable faces in the film.

Now Valentine’s Day is obviously heavily indebted to British romance Love Actually, that other love-centric, holiday-set film with an all-star ensemble cast. Both films even feature an adorable little blonde boy who, deprived of a mother’s affection, …

Role-playing in the coastal cities this weekend

Never played Dungeons & Dragons but want to? Never role-playing game'd before but want to try it out? Want to meet new people or find a new game? Then come along and join in the fun.

Alright, I did steal that little intro blurb from the Facebook event page of the Role-playing Game Association of Cape Town (RPGA Cape Town), but I think they'll probably forgive me.

You see, people who live in the South African coastal cities of Cape Town and Durban, and secretly harbour a geeky interest in pen-and-paper role-playing games - but have never quite known how to get into the pastime - are in for a treat this weekend. This Saturday, 20 February, both cities hosting "Introduction to Role-playing" sessions. These sessions are completely FREE, and OPEN TO ALL. The only thing you need to bring is yourself, lots of enthusiasm and some concentration.

It's all about growing the local gaming community, y'all!

Event: Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons 4th Editio…

Trailer Tuesday: How To Train Your Dragon

I went to watch Avatar in 3D last week and one of the most enjoyable parts of the experience was all the trailers - which left the audience drooling by fully exploiting the 3D format. Now of course I'm most excited for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland in 3D (how desperately I wish we had 3D IMAX in South Africa!). However, I was also pleasantly surprised when I watched the trailer for How To Train Your Dragon for the first time.

How To Train Your Dragon is the latest CGI-animated film from DreamWorks Animation, and is loosely based on the children's book by Cressida Cowell. A fantasy comedy-adventure, How to Train Your Dragon is set in medieval Scandinavia and centres on a wimpy but smart-mouthed young viking, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) who doesn't fit in with his bloodthirsty, dragon-slaying clan. A chance encounter with a small black dragon, named Toothless, however changes Hiccup's life, as he learns that dragons aren't the winged pests and vicious monst…

Love is all around... a Valentine's weekend report back

The Valentine's Day weekend was a mix of busyness and relaxation for me. Pop culture consumption fortunately featured quite prominently in my plans. And for the record, I didn't do too badly this Valentine's Day: an email card from my online Valentine (he knows who he is! ;)), a text message greeting and even a balloon and chocolate... from, erm, Milky Lane.

When there are gaps in my schedule and I really don't feel like sitting at home, I always find myself drawn to my first love: movies. This weekend I caught 2 films at the cinema.

The first was The Road, the post-apocalyptic survival drama based on Cormac McCarthy' Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I loved the book so I naturally had high hopes for the film. Unfortunately though, it's a big disappointment. My review will appear on this blog soon, but in summary the film suffers from a serious case of "adaptionitus." It's an emotionally flat highlights package, redeemed only by some excellent perf…

A geeky Valentine's Day wish for you

I'd like to wish all my blog readers a very happy Valentine's Day. Whether you're in a relationship or not, I hope you treat this day as an opportunity to indulge in some self-appreciation, and do what gives you self-fulfillment and general enjoyment.

Please also be aware that should I see any nauseatingly mushy, pet term-saturated declarations of love for your significant other on Twitter, or as a Facebook status, I will be dispatching the "other" V below to educate you about the error of your ways. That is all. Now have a great day!

Movies released today, South Africa

It's a pretty good weekend at the movies with 3 high profile releases hitting South African cinemas today.

My personal pick for the week is Fantastic Mr Fox, a stop-motion animated film based on Roald Dahl's beloved children's book. Like the book, the film adaptation centres on a cocky fox (voiced by George Clooney) who seeks to outwit 3 repulsive farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, who are intent on killing Mr Fox and his family by digging them out of their subterranean den.

Now I admit I've definitely had my concerns about the Fantastic Mr Fox film adaptation. Honestly, I still do. Director Wes (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) Anderson can be too quirky for his own good sometimes, and I fear that his trademark eccentricity will smother the film's simple but highly enjoyable source material.

Then again, Roald Dahl's books were such an important part of my childhood that I'm naturally a purist when it comes to my expectations of adaptations based on his work. Why…

Spider-Man: The reboot

Ah, you gotta love Hollywood. When something is profitable for the studios, they go into mindless overkill mode, applying the same concept behind that successful something to as many projects as possible. Actually, forget Hollywood. The entire American hyper-consumerist economy seems, or seemed pre-Recession, to be powered by the same faulty mindset.

Anyway, "80's pop culture" and "reboots/reimaginings/remakes" remain the buzz words in the mainstream film industry these days. There have been dozens of announcements regarding the latter - with everything from RoboCop to Footloose, to Red Dawn to Rosemary's Baby set for new treatments on the big screen. However, the biggest, and probably most surprising reboot news as of late is that the Spider-Man movie franchise is receiving a new interpretation.

You see, although studio Columbia Pictures (under Sony) was always going to continue the film franchise based on Marvel Comics' most popular superhero, progress…

My "Around the World in 8 Figurines" workspace

So I haven't had a chance to blog in detail yet about my Egypt and Jordan vacation. That should be rectified soon...

Anyway, the reason for this lack of posting has been a shortage of time, due to the need to settle in, complete assorted life admin tasks and meet some work commitments. On that note, I must say I am still thoroughly enjoying a life free of rush hour routine and office imprisonment. But I digress.

One of the first and most important life admin tasks I had to complete as soon as I returned was to move back into my room after I was relocated in early January to accommodate my visiting grandfather. This moving process was a much needed opportunity to Spring, or, rather, Dog Days of Summer Clean my room and rearrange my personal space.

For those of you interested, my desk - my personal workspace where I spend most of my time - now looks like this:

Tres geeky, non?

I'm especially proud of the shelf above my desk, which has now be rearranged as a little tribute to my trave…