Sunday, December 31, 2006

Wo-is-me, YouTube has taken a turn for the worst! More on this in the New Year.

That actually sounded kind of cool ("More on this in the New Year", not the destruction of YouTube).


Saturday, December 30, 2006

I in no way attempt to be a clone-copy of the blog New Lines From A Floating Life with this post, however, I must borrow a fairly common theme from the author or said blog for a moment or two. That topic being poetry. Now, in my search, during my ENGL2605 Reading Poetry course last semester, I happened upon poetry that stuck with me through the fifteen weeks, and even now still occupies my mind every now and then.

The author isn't probably considered the greatest of all time, in fact, he probably isn't even someone you'd put into the short list. Rudyard Kipling does, however, show off something all together interesting and insightful in his collection of poems called Epitaphs of the War 1914 - 18. Now there is twenty-three poems in this collection and, as you most likely could tell from the title, it's a collection of epitaphs. But it's not just from Johnny, Billy and Smithy Soldier's funerals, but it's what Kipling writes in regards to the multitude of people that had a role in the war, were affected by it etc.

I give you the link to a page that has the collection of the poems to read at your own time, but I would like to bring attention to the following two:

Batteries out of Ammunition
If any mourn us in the workshop, say
We died because the shift kept holiday.

Common Form
If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.

I could bore you with details about contrast, form etc. etc., but frankly, knowing that I was prone to falling asleep during some lectures, I fear that falling asleep at your computer could prove to be slightly dangerous. Suffice to say that I find the first one humourous, the second one poignant, and both a good example of fine poetry.

Of course, they are no Paradise Lost. And Kipling is no Milton.

And, a side note (that has nothing to do what-so-ever about poetry), if you don't know who General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff is, in this picture, and proclaim to be trying to change the world (or some crap like that) then you are an utter fool and an imbecile.



Refer to this as the edit to my '2006 appears to be the end of a lot of things' post:

- Saddam Hussein is strung high and tight on American-made gallows. Good riddance to the ... well, you probably have your own choice words for the guy.


Monday, December 25, 2006

And as the day nearly draws to an end (and your hope that I would show some compassion for you all) I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy holidays and the best for the time at hand.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

In case you are blind (in which case I am wondering how you're reading this at all) I would like to alert you to the changes that have gone on around here. I have been using the Beta version of Blogger for a while, but through fear of losing the changes I had made to the HTML of my non-Beta site, I tried to change things as little as possible.

However, I've finally done the full upgrade and think that it looks quite good now. The features (to plug the product for a moment) far surpass the old version and I expect I'll employ them quite often. Already you can see that I have a list of my Top Ten movies (so that, in the future, when I post about my favourite movies, it doesn't look like I'm poaching your topic Ninglun) and I think it could come in handy if I were to do my 2006 Top Ten before the year is out.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

The past few years have really been landmark years for television. They were the waves that brought in the 'next generation' of television shows. As shows like Seinfeld, Frasier, Friends, The Sopranos, Everybody Loves Raymond all come to an end, shows to replace the popular void they leave came into debut, especially in 2004 and 2005, for example, The O.C., Boston Legal, Lost, Desperate Housewives, The Apprentice, House, Arrested Development among more.

2006 however wasn't a year of debuts that concreted a show into the framework of popular culture. Sure My Name is Earl, Jericho, Commander in Chief and Prison Break made their mark, really, only these four created any major impact on television this year, and further, on Prison Break was the break out success and lock of them all. This is a stark contrast to the debuts of shows between '03 ad '05, mostly mentioned above, where there were many locks and resounding, debuting shows.

In fact, 2006, as was mentioned by Tim in a comment to the post below, was a year where many a show was mismanaged:

  • Arrested Development, after being marketed in the most horrendous and haphazard way, was finally canceled, but not after having to stay awake to past midnight to catch the final episodes. Here is more on my views of Arrested Development;
  • Commander in Chief's time slot was moved more times than President Allen had to face a national threat (and that happened in all eighteen episodes!), then it disappeared, then returned at 11:30p.m. six months after fans thought it dead and buried. I wrote about this problem here earlier on in November;
  • In Australia, The Office (U.S.), a ratings hit in its home country and a 'spin-off' from a phenomenon in Britain, was hidden in the wee hours of the night on Channel Ten without a single advertisement (and when I say wee hours, I mean 11:30 if everything was running to schedule. Of course, it never ran to schedule);
  • The latest season of The Apprentice docked at Sundays, 11 p.m. (and wouldn't you know it, in researching for this article I find that The Apprentice has moved to midnight Tuesday and Wednesday! It's likely to be because it's the two-hour season final, but seriously, I wouldn't have known otherwise because, again, mismanagement);
  • Survivor, after being billed as 'live' from America, hot off the satelite, went from 8:30 to 9:30 to 10:30 over a series of fortnights;
  • If you didn't watch the relatively good show in Criminal Minds to the 9:30p.m.-10:00p.m. portion of the show, you would have missed the regular ad of "Boston Legal can now be seen at 10:30, Monday nights". This ad would feature in every Monday episode of Criminal Minds, and not one promotional ad for Boston Legal during prime time! Even after it was shown at Prime Time during the first season!;
  • Scrubs, the undeniably great and hilarious medical comedy went from 9:30p.m. billing originally to 10:30p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays to midnight some Tuesdays and most Thursdays;
  • The Sopranos, the final season which finally Channel Nine got around to bloody showing, is purportedly on at 11:00p.m. Monday nights. Of course, this is a free-to-air station we are talking about, so airing generally began closer to midnight;
  • I mentioned Criminal Minds earlier. This was a ratings hit here in Australia and Channel Seven decided to, well, instead of prolonging its run, shorten it by showing two episodes a week. While I wasn't displeased to watch it so often, it was another example of horrible programming by Seven once more;
  • Jericho, a debuting show, and an interesting one at that (though it wained towards the end) disappeared quite a few times for reasons I am still to comprehend;
If that doesn't prove a year of disgrace for advertising, schedule management and care for viewers (not even just the loyal viewers) than I don't know what could. Except maybe cancelling every show that would go up against, say, a sporting event. Wait! That's happened twice! Any shows that were up against The Soccer World Cup and The Ashes all got put on the hold shelf so that they didn't lose their precious ratings. And for us who, well, didn't want to watch The World Cup all that much and would much rather watch the shows that we had been for the year leading up, we were forced to watch it all because there was nothing else on.

Now, for all that crap that went on, there were some (though not all that many) smart decisions made by stations:
  • 24 is a tiring series that only die-hard fans watch from start to end because it can get tedious, long and early episodes easily forgotten. Seven actually made the decision to start showing two episodes per night. While this was a stupid move with Criminal Minds, which each episode is effectively independent of the previous and the next, for a show like 24, it was a very smart, brave, and ultimately successful move as you need the episodes as close together because they rely so heavily on the back-story;
  • Seven (proving to be the smartest of the stupid) didn't, and haven't, mess around with their guarantees' time slot all that much (Lost, Desperate Housewives, Prison Break, The Amazing Race, My Name is Earl);
  • There wasn't an abundance of repeats of what we had just watched. In previous years stations tended to repeat the entire season that you had just watched, which would kill the uniqueness and anticipation of the upcoming season. This year, however:
    • Lost was repeated for insomniacs (midnight on Seven every day of the week);
    • Desperate Housewives repeated for the, well, desperate housewife (midday everyday before the end of school term, showing two per day);
    • Prison Break not at all;
    • The O.C. not at all;
    • House later down the track (only within the past month and a half, and at a slot (7:30p.m. Wednesday instead of the usual 8:30p.m.) where really it's only on because there's nothing else to put in and it filled the gap between the final of one show and the debut of another, so it wasn't on for all that long).
  • Debuting shows were hyped quite well:
    • Jericho for months before it actually showed, creating strong ratings for the starting episodes;
    • My Name is Earl was hyped just as long with entries from his list, and a pretty good synopsis of what the list is for, all before the first show aired;
    • Prison Break, without question, was the most eagerly anticipated series debut of the year, and was mainly helped by the campaign-like promotion of the series;
    • Commander in Chief was, for a while, after the ad campaign, the talk of the town in my circle, and across the political pond, as questions about the show sprung up from the ad campaign. Really the popularity of the show, before its debut, was caused by word-of-mouth and the fact that two Hollywood heavyweights (Geena Davis and Donald Sutherland) were part-and-parcel of the show.
  • Returning shows were also hyped quite well:
    • Lost and Desperate Housewives both ended on cliffhangers of sorts (especially Lost and the hatch), and only teaser ads were needed to get the same strong ratings as the first season;
    • The O.C. returned shortly after the Season Three final with the hook that we were seeing Season Four the same time as it was airing in the U.S.. It was the first time this idea had been used for this show, and long overdue - we were generally months behind for The O.C.;
    • Survivor was the same. We always get it the same time as America because the surprise is killed, and ultimately the ratings, if it gets out from America that so-and-so wins. However, the fact that it was at the same time was also made a selling point;
Finally, the quality of the shows I watched was a varied basket. While The O.C.'s Season Three was the worst yet, and likely lost viewers, Season Four, so far, compares (though doesn't surpass) the with Season One (perhaps a post on this is required, however, if you're a fan and have watched both, you'll understand without needing explanation). This is also the first year that a two new seasons have coincided. So when I say it was probably a more positive year for the quality of The O.C., that's only because Season Four is kick-ass and Season Three had its high-points. My problems with Season Three were written about early on in the life of this blog here.

Lost's Season One was the stand-out from its debut, and while it wavered at times during Season Two, it finished up stronger than it opened, did what it does best (that being raising more questions by the end than providing answers) and is eagerly anticipated to return with Season Three. In the end, the quality of Season Two was up there with Season One, but the changing and modification of characters, against the grain of what they were initially established as, created a few low-points. But, then again, anyone who stood out the changes realised that these changes actually all worked out for the best by the end. Again, this is probably something that deserves a post of its own, or many, to cover each character's changes in depth.

took a gamble on racially-dividing the tribes. It paid off as it got free publicity (of course, not all good), saw huge ratings in the opening, then died off. As an avid Survivor fan, I've lasted this long, and it's only really just got good in the past few episodes. Prior to this, it was neither here nor there. So the quality, as a whole, puts it back in the pack and not a stand out, but with enough episodes to go, it could improve and turn out to be one of the better series.

The Amazing Race is the 'family' season. Well behind when compared to the series last shown in the United States, I suspect we are going to be shown every series (and have to endure them all, good or bad) to catch up. This one has its moments, but overall, it's not the best.

Commander in Chief, Boston Legal, Jericho, 24, Criminal Minds all had a roller-coaster ride in terms of quality. I've talked the quality of Boston Legal here (the fall in its quality) and here (the return to greatness) and Commander in Chief here, and as a whole, while all these programs get the overall rating of good (and great in the cases of Commander in Chief and Boston Legal) you could easily have asked me if I'd be happy to miss an episode (and really, by the end of Criminal Minds, I was so over-dosed with it that I couldn't be bothered picking up the remote to even put it on) and I'd have replied in the affirmative.

The Apprentice, and the beginning of this season, is documented here. Overall it's been a good seris, and certainly better than the last couple. Obviously, it's never going to be as good as the Season One or Two, but that's because its uniqueness has diminished. Though, with reported changes to the format (such as winners for the tasks living in a mansion for the next three days and the losers living in a tent-city) I suspect it will pick-up again.

I wrote a quick little reflection of The Office (U.S.) earlier on in July here. Nothing has changed: it's still, in Australia at least, the unsung American comedy that is still showing.

And what else can I possibly say about Arrested Development? I've given it glowing praise here, I can't say it's the greatest comedy any other way really.

So all in all was 2006 a successful year for television? Well, for pre-established fans: yes. The shows that people could have been fans of delivered, and while at times questionably, by the end of the year's Seasons, for the most part, it was easy to forget the bad and remember the good. In terms of programming, it was a God-awful year - stations need to get their act together for 2007 and settle shows into slots. Because no new blockbuster shows really came out, other than Prison Break, fans had to settle with what they have had for the past year or two (not that that was really a problem, it gave the audience less to think about (and that's why we watch most of the T.V. shows we watch)), so mass-migration of fans from one show to another wasn't on the cards. Think of this year like the Western Front in World War One - the trenches the shows, the fans the soldiers. No one was moving, everyone was sticking to their guns, and in the end, each side thought they were a winner for the most part because neither had given into the enemy. Will 2007 be the year to see the deadlock crack and new, massively popular, 'cultural icon' shows shake things up? Who knows. What we do, though, is that the bankable shows are headed into their second, third, fourth and fifth seasons, and the deeper they go, the harder they are to break fans away with new shows. It comes back to quality: if the quality of the show disappears, so do the fans.

Here's to a new year of television!


Friday, December 22, 2006

So 2006 shapes up as the year of ends, and for the most part the end of things that we would rather continue, and things continuing that we would rather see end.

  • Shane Warne calls it quits on Australian international cricket, domestic cricket etc.;
  • Glen McGrath too announces he will retire;
  • Ian Thorpe retires from competition;
  • Michael Schumacher also retires. Competition in F1 racing resumes;
  • Andre Agassi calls it a day. Everyone is still wondering why he married Steffi Graf;
  • Thankfully Damien Martyn ends his cricketing career as well;
  • Arrested Development sadly comes to an end;
  • Commander in Chief, after a single season, is given the boot;
  • Republican majority in the Senate comes to an end after so many years of hellish rule when they lose the 2006 General Elections;
  • Donald Rumsfeld resigns from his post as Defense Secretary. We are all still waiting for Dick Cheney to invite him, and not just his career, hunting;
  • Ariel Sharon's tenure as Prime Minister comes to an end;
  • YouTube, as a unique, individual and non-corporate 'entity', ends upon being bought by Google;
  • John Bolton's short-lived position as American representative to the United Nations;
  • Steve Irwin, Peter Brock, Richard Carleton, Milton Friedman, Augusto Pinochet, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Slobodan Milošević all ended;
  • Silvio Berlusconi is ousted, by the voters, as Italian Prime Minister (though doesn't seem to get the hint and still wants back in);
  • Mark Foley's political career, well, effectively his life comes to an end. If it's not bad enough that he was a pedophile, but he was a gay Republican! It's not a good year for the G.O.P. is it?;
  • The end of the world (according the The Bible Code, which is of course as reputable a source of predictions for the future of the world as the horoscopes and tarot readers, and certainly not based on circumstantial and flimsy evidence whatsoever);
  • The last active battleships in the world, part of the United States' navy, is scratched;
  • God's grip on the U.S. House of Representatives comes to an end as a black muslim, Keith Ellison, is elected. Republican are encouraged to attend the KKK's Washington protests;
  • Bob Barker retires. He features in the next episode of The Price is Right as part of the end prize showcase;
  • Common sense came to an end as very few people were able to accurately report, read, pick up a paper or do any research on what Pope Benedict XVI really said about Islam in his lecture;
  • At common sense's funeral, a fitting reminder of how abused it was in its life and use in society was brought up as no one was able to see the true meaning behind John Kerry's comments of:
"Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.";
  • N.S.W. dominance of the N.R.L. comes to an end after 98 years with out one N.S.W. team makes the final;
  • Serbia and Montenegro files for divorce, thus ending the union of the countries;
  • The end of the Fox Footy Channel ... wait, you didn't notice that it was missing did you?;
  • Pluto's status as a a planet comes to an end as it is demoted to 'dwarf status'. The Union of 'Little People', calling for equal rights, is still fighting on its behalf;
  • The Israel/Lebanon conflict starts ... then ends ... then goes back to normal (that being unofficially started);
  • B.B.C.'s Top of the Pops comes to an end after 42 years of broadcast. Not since The Beatles
  • The Transatlantic Aircraft Terrorist Plot doesn't even get off the ground (no pun intended ... of course there was a pun intended! It took me ten minutes to think of it!);
  • Military commissions that are trying detainees at Guantanamo Bay should have come to an end after they are found illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court. But who's going to stop them?
have they shown a popular home-grown musician or group;
Next, a look at 2006's delivery of movies and television shows. What was good? What was good? What was even on? Luckily I was on the pulse (well, on the chair in front of the T.V. for all hours of the day and night) and can give you an unbiased and opinion-free summary of what happened. And if you believed that then you need help. Help I can provide for a low low fee ...


This is a generic holiday season greeting. It is in no way associated with, nor representing or to be represented by, any particular religion, significant religious day of worship, religious holiday, religious iconography or motifs whatsoever. By receiving and accepting this greeting the receiver hereby waves any legal precedence of litigation or monetary compensation for any physical or psychological anguish or trauma experienced from this greeting.

Furthermore, this greeting also extends the thanks, best wishes and luck for the next year of the writer which is also not related to any source of cultural offense to any that receive this.
Again, legal groundwork for any sort of court proceedings is waved.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I take a break from celebrations to say that this is quite a good and concise article about everything that has transpired, and what some of the fallout will be from, the Ashes Series.

Back to the party!


Friday, December 15, 2006

I had to read Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound for Extension English One, in Year 12, two years ago. We also had to "act" (in the sense that it was six of us sitting spread across a room for thirty, reading it out in whatever accents we could invent) it out so that we'd get a 'better understanding' (which is why I maintain Shakespeare shouldn't be part of the English high school curriculum, unless it is seen and the students are examined on that) of the play.

I didn't particularly hate it when I began, but, as per my usual school attitude, if I had to read it for school, it became a chore. However, by the end, Hound, I was involved with the text and quite enjoyed it. That's not to say I enjoyed reading a play, but I didn't hate it as I have others. Though this post isn't going to be anything about Hound, I do recommend it as something of a unique piece of work because it does things I've never seen in the crime fiction genre or in short plays.

So when I found out that Stoppard supposedly had an uncredited rewrite of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade dialogue, and may even be writing the script for the next Bond film, I was quite surprised. What shocked me even more is that he is near-on seventy years old! Which means if he did have something to do with Star Wars, he would have been sixty-seven years old. Which got me thinking: just how tried-and-tested are the formulas that are making films these days? If a sixty-seven year old playwright, specialising in send-ups and satire, is called in to help on the dialogue on a Sci-Fi prequel film written for a 2005 audience (and, specifically, aimed at the Star Wars fans and the teenager-30s demographics), is too much praise and accolade being given to the writers and the like and not quite enough to the people who are actually bringing the film to life?


What a crock. And the worst part is no one can do jack about it.

And even if an administration could, they wouldn't, because of the amount of power the Asian cricket-playing nations wield. What the ICC should remember is that the world's two best teams are playing now, outside of Asia, and pulling more money. Also, they should note that three mediocre teams and a hobo-team in Bangladesh shouldn't don't deserve the power they have.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

So what have I got up to today?



And this.

So the latter two are simply sites that let you compile online favourites list, but the first link is somewhat interesting for people with exessive amounts of free time or enjoy spreading themselves across the Internet. If anyone creates any lenses and wants to trade links or something, just drop me a line.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

This is the best article about the current Ashes Series yet and pretty much sums things up to the t.



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I finally get up a serious piece of writing. I finally decide I'm going to try and do more serious things. I even went so far as to try but lo and behold, I get this in the inbox:



We are pleased to inform you of the result of the just concluded annual final draws held on the (2nd July, 2006) by Coca-Cola in conjunction with the British American Tobacco Worldwide Promotion. Your email was among the 20 Lucky winners who won £850,000.00{Eight hundred and fifty thousand Great Britain Pounds} each in the THE COCA\COLA COMPANY 2006 PROMO.

However the results were released on 16th November, 2006 and your email was attached to ticket number (7PWYZ2006) and ballot number (BT:12052006/20) The online draws was conducted by a random selection of email addresses from an exclusive list of 29,031,643 E-mail addresses of individuals and corporate bodies picked by an advanced automated random computer search from the internet. However, no tickets were sold but all email addresses were assigned to different ticket numbers for representation and privacy. The selection process was carried out through random selection in our computerized email selection machine (TOPAZ) .This Lottery is approved by the British Gaming Board and also licensed by the The International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR).This lottery is the 3rd of its kind and we intend to sensitize the public.

Provide him with the information below:
1. NAME:
4. AGE:
5. SEX:
10. Ticket Number
11. Ballot Number

To begin the claim processing of your prize you are to contact the fiduciary agent as stated below:

Mr Thomas Lampard
22 Garden Close, Stamford,
Lincs,PE9 2YP,London
United Kingdom
You are to keep all information away from the general public especially your ticket number and ballot number. (This is important as any case of double claims will not be entertained). *Staff of Coca-Cola and the British American Tobacco Company are not to partake in this PROMOTION.
Accept our hearty congratulations once again!
Yours faithfully,

What a hum-dinger! It looks as though the scammers have relocated from Nigeria's Parliament House to, well, Stamford, London. Not exactly an upgrade, and the weather may make assimilation hard, but at least they are trying. And a real company, this is something new. In my previous endeavors, it was either a made-up country or a made-up relative of mine. But this time, obviously slapping on the name Coca-Cola is going to add to the creditability of the scam. Also, it might be noteworthy that there were actual Coca-Cola pictures attached to the top and bottom of the email - real classy.

I'm going to reply, oh yes, I certainly am. But it requires thought. Deep thought and planning. It's been so long since I've had replies from scammers that they are either wising up to the whole scamming of the scammer or I'm not convincing enough. That's why, I intend to get a reply this time by telling them how much I love their delicious and addictive product, how pleased I am that I have won and plead naïvity over my use of the Internet. I will throw so much bait in there, the whole sea will be jumping after the email too.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

In an attempt to distance myself as far as I can from the stereotypical Australian 'macho' guy, I plan to reveal a movie that is one of my top five favourites of all time that generally wouldn't appear on the 'macho' list. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this movie only appears on the list of well-viewed movie goers, on a more sophisticated favourites lineup and not all that commonly viewed because of this.


There, I said it. And it doesn't seem to make me feel as red-faced as I would have thought. Perhaps because I am so enamored with this film that I don't care if I am judged because I like it. Because I am. This movie I love. I saw only a sliver of it when they played it on S.B.S. earlier on this year or last (my memory fails me), and was so compelled to see the movie in its entirety that I purchased the D.V.D. off the cuff, not knowing anything about it other than it was in French and it had the gorgeous Audrey Tautou in it (which is a selling point of any of her films).

The film, putting on my reviewers pants for a moment, is so simple in its plot, themes and ideas that it caters to all viewers. Yes, this is primarily a romance drama, but the filming techniques, the plot and ways in which it is developed, extrapolated upon and revealed to the audience is so cunning, so smart, that it left I, a traditionalist Hollywood-technique man, who (prior to the discovery of the films Amelie and Donnie Darko) appreciated limited (and now, I see, primitive) lighting, framing, angles and movement techniques that are employed and repeated in traditional American films.

Amelie is not a traditional American film. For starters, as stated, it's French. Enough said? No? Ok, the romance doesn't rely on nudity. Now, look, this is a difficult topic, I know. On one hand, it's nudity; everyone's friend. On the other hand, it is my opinion that nudity generally detracts from a film's worth unless its is done so in an artistic and somewhat 'sensuous' way. A lot of Hollywood films have nudity that neither accentuates love plots, nor does it even play upon the idea of lust that is present in many Indy films that use it in this manor. Hollywood simply throws it in to get the viewers in to see *insert actress's name here*'s tits. And really, let's face it, if you're in the demographic they are targeting at, in a majority of times, you know about this, and may even be guilty of indulging in a mediocre movie just to see said nudity. Do I judge? For the sake of this post, I'm going to say no.

Ok, getting away from talking about movies that include nudity to either eventuate their plot or for no reason at all, Amelie is a film that employs none of this. It has the basic principles of a romantic plot, but is so intricate in it's playing out (which effectively establishes the same kind of intricate love that Amelie and Nino share with one another) that it's like burning the wick of a firework - you know that the wick is going to burn, and at the end, there is going to be an explosion (of released emotions in this case), but how many times you're going to have to re-light the wick, because something has put it out, is up in the air.

With this example in mind, as well as the exclusion of nudity, you may very well ask how are the massive amount of emotions, the quantity of love and the multiple journeys through the story all conveyed to the audience? The answer: a variety of very modern, up-to-date and effective story telling techniques (which, coming to the end of this post, may actually be seen as not so modern). Immediately the audience realises that this film is to be narrated, and, for the opening eight minutes or so, the only dialogue we hear is that of the narrator. After the eleventh minute though, a bridge is formed between the film and the omniscient narrator who gives us an abridged history of this connection. The bridge is, of course, Amelie. Strangely enough though, she begins to interact with the narrator, which break sdown the wall between the audience and the film's characters, and the narrator and the film's characters. Such is the first important role of the narrator: to connect the audience and the film in a relationship that isn't as commonly found in Hollywood, as the idea of using a narrator has slowly fallen out of fashion for some reason.

The second role for the narrator is to foreshadow events in the film and give the audience prior knowledge and information that the characters, in particular Amelie, have no real grasp of. However, this information turns out to be somewhat deceptive and, as a result, the audience comes to realise, at the point where the knowledge becomes relevant and known within the film, that they don't know as much as they thought they did, and begin to question what the narrator says from this point in, but, as a result of the audience questioning themselves, also rely upon him more. This creates another unique relationship in a film filled with them, and it is certainly not the last.

In fact, uniqueness is possibly the defining characteristic of Amelie. From production values, the the script, to the acting, to the themes and plots - the film is unique. If the film isn't employing less-common means, it is using the 'traditional' means in new methods and scenarios. And all this, of course, is emphasised by the fact us English-speaking viewers relying on subtitles. How is this so? Well, firstly, the variety of means we have in the film, and the way they are employed are (no pun intended) foreign to us. They are new, and they are a breath of fresh air (all of which is expanded upon later). Secondly, here is how I have come to view the situation of the acting: because we cannot understand the actor's dialogue, we aren't focusing on what the actors are saying, less, we are always looking at what they are doing instead. So we pick up on what we normally would expect to see, but, because we don't have to devote anything to listening to them, we can focus on the subtleties that the actors bring to their performance. And such are the subtleties of Audrey Tautou's acting abilities that it spears the film into the audience's mind and thoughts, and resides there long after the end.

I would say that Tautou carries this film on the back of her own abilities, however, there isn't much to carry in the end. All of her supporting cast holds their own. I expect it's unlikely that I will see any of them in subsequent films, however, I certainly wouldn't be adverse to watching a film of theirs, as my 'deviation' away from the 'subtitled' genre has been vanquished with this film. Does it mean I am now a compulsory viewer of the foreign films? Far from. I still prefer to watch movies that are in my native language (English, that is, not Australian), and I am hardly going to turn my back on true classics that Hollywood has produced and have found way onto my favourites list. But now I'm not so hesitant to watch a foreign film.

Which leads into my next point: because this is a foreign film, perhaps it is so resounding and so good because it takes a view of the movie-making process, the meaning of film and purpose of the celluloid that isn't common nor seen in the 'Hollywood-world' of movie-making. By bringing these new views to the 'Hollywood-world', it's not impossible that it acts as a breath of fresh air for the done-and-tried audiences. Additionally, it's likely that directors and producers from France (in this case) 'learn things' differently: the methods of production and the means of conveyance. They may 'see' things in a way that a disciple of Hollywood doesn't: whether it's simpler or more complex, that that have learned more or less (overall or in certain topics) - each of these things contribute to the difference.

It's this difference that, I feel, is one of the main contributing factors making Amelie truly fantastic. And the difference works with the techniques, works with the uniqueness, works with the relationships, it works with the influences that a foreign films brings to the screen to make this a modern classic. And because I hold it in such high regard as a great piece of film-making, I also feel that it is extremely neglected among audiences and critics. It does have a borderline basic plot, but it's simplicity is key in developing the simple topics that it deals with: unique relationships, basic love and and true, but modern, romance and courtship. But without the deep character development that is undertaken, very little of this would be achieved. While production values can be off-the-chart in terms of effectiveness, actually wanting to empathise, feel, relate, hate or despise a character in the ways the film wants you to falls squarely on the character development. Needless for me to say, the character development has enough depth for the audience to see these characters live their lives for the moment. If anything, the depth is so much that the minor characters, the ones who are there for single purposes rather than fulfilling a major role in the film, leave the audience with thoughts that they didn't have adequate screen time and were under-appreciated in their use and purpose. What was the last Hollywood blockbuster that left you with those sorts of thoughts? What was the last Hollywood film that you felt had supporting characters developed just as much as the main characters? You might be able to name some, but it would be an underwhelming number.

How the character development is perfected, and we return to him, is through the narrator. In the opening sequences we are let into private, almost intimate, details that, while they seem trivial and unimportant, actually explain a lot of the actions that the characters undertake. It also opens a window into the psychological and emotional state that the characters are living in at the moment of time we are visiting them. Further, after explaining and showing, it forms the relationship between the audience and the characters in such a simple and basic way. But the relationship isn't basic; it is somewhat complex, and certainly unique. The narrator's role of 'introducing' the characters to us, and beginning the relationships, is only developed further and made more concrete through the (strangely) traditional means that you would typically find in pre-80s Hollywood films. Does this film, thus, not only go against modern Hollywood conventions, but evoke long-forgotten traditions from the 'Golden Era' of Hollywood? Possibly, and it might be worth looking into, however I feel that rather than intentionally doing this, Jean-Pierre Jeunet (the director) has chosen the most effective, the most simple, and the most basic techniques of story telling to get his image and idea across, and combined with his native learnings, creates, again, a unique and original film.

So, if you're someone who is easily swayed by a wanna-be reviewer, then hopefully I've done enough of a job to make you go out and see this fine film. Then again, if you hate people who think they can review a film and pass it off as good, and want to try and see how wrong I truly am, here's the answer: go and see the film. Either way, it's a win-win situation: you get to see the film, and when you come back saying just how good Amelie really is, I win. And even if you don't like the premise of the film, or romantic plots and themes, at least you will have been exposed to a masterfully created technical film, and it would be hard to not appreciate, or even acknowledge, this. Although I do find it difficult to believe that someone could possibly find this movie bad at all.


Moon base from 2020? That's ... well, interesting to say the least. It's the stuff of Sci-Fi, sure, but so have a lot of things that have come to pass as of late. So should this idea be thrown onto the heap that includes eugenics, the Y2K bug and Atlantis or put on the desk alongside photos of Dolly the sheep, computers that fit in your hand and face transplants?

Well I, for one, hope they do try for something like this. I hear a lot of people going ape about these sorts of investments by governments while there are millions living in poverty, at home and abroad. But, here's the thing: money can only go so far in these situations. It requires, in some cases, physical presence to enforce advancement in some regions, otherwise known as military intervention. And on the domestic front, well, in a capitalist country, having the government plunge money into the economy can have detrimental effects. So with the surplus of money, why not just throw it to the moon. It's not like we could throw it much further.


And there goes Bolton. It's unlikely you're going to keep your job anyway when moderates from your own party don't even want you, much less when you're running in an opposition-majority Senate.


Monday, December 04, 2006

I said a while ago, before the leadership challenge was even a whisper, that I'd vote for a Labor Party if Kevin Rudd were at the helm. It was a safe bet: I liked Rudd, but I didn't see a prospect of him being leader too soon, after he shot down a leadership challenge last year and Howard was ahead in majority of the poles.

Well, waking up nice and early today to watch the cricket and get my hands on the first snippet of information about the caucus vote, I wondered if I'd still be voting for a Rudd Labor. I thought about whether the I.R. reforms were that important to me at the moment, my stance on environmental issues, on nuclear power, on stem-cell research, on our foreign policies and everything else that's going to be an issue come the next federal election. Would I swap (what I had usually thought) my traditionally preferred political party for their rival?

Well, while I support the increase in use of nuclear power, I also feel there should be more done with the environment. I.R. reforms I just have no opinion of, but I can see that there are holes that can be exploited, and I'm not keen on that. I'm an adamant supporter of stem-cell research. And, of course, our foreign policy has sucked as of late, leading to an increased threat of terrorist attacks, a multitude of options for the current government to exploit the fear of people, and irreconcilably tarnished our international image.

The only thing that pulls me back to the Liberals are their successful economic credentials Costello seems to have (though I have heard the argument that he inherited a healthy economy, and even a monkey could have done what he did, though I don't subscribe to it). But with all of the Labor positions up for grabs, and a possibility of Gillard taking the economic portfolio, I'm prepared to jump to the Labor side of things.

Come election time, I expect to hear the call 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. The only problem is, sure, Australia isn't broken per se, but it's starting to go on the blink (depending who you ask, of course). So do you let it go until it's broken or give things a shake-up and a new perspective?