Friday, 27 March 2009

Review: Fantastic Four

Last night I happened to watch Fantastic Four. This isn't a proper review except to say that the movie has a lot in common with The Incredibles and X-men and both the latter movies are better.

A quick summary is: Five people go into outer space, they are affected by a space storm, they are given magical powers. The backer of the project is the villain, the other four are the heroes. The powers they get are:

1. A body like rubber, he can bend, stretch, etc and is impervious to great heat
2. A big hulk of a rock man, he doesn't have much feeling in some parts of his body and he's strong heavy and huge
3. A guy who can turn to fire and fly around
4. A woman who can turn invisible and project force fields
His body is extra-strengthened with metal and he can generate electrical power - he can throw bolts of lightning - kinda

Anyhow, it was a middling movie. I find myself wondering about it later, as a whole lot was left unanswered, not that all questions are left answered in films usually anyhow, especially fantasy hero films. But there was too much here.

1. Why is it that the movie glorified saving a suicidal man's life, when the result was causing a huge carcrash on a bridge, endangering the lives of tens of people and with all that fire going on, probably killed a few people?
2. Why didn't the people look that amazed at the discovery that they had become superheroes after returning from space?
3. Why did they then want to reverse the process of, say, the ability to become invisible and put up a force field at will when it didn't seem to interfere with her daily life otherwise?
4. Why didn't anyone smack that little Human Torch annoying teenager in the gob? He was such a pain in the ass?
5. No one explained how the space storm did what it did ... or why Ben wasn't able to trn his powers on and off but everyone else could.
6. Why did Ben's wife just shriek and run away when she first saw him, but then later she came out specifically when he had become a hero, among the wreckage, on TV, just to drop her wedding ring off? She didn't want to talk, why bother?
7. Why did the Invisible Woman fall for the wimp?

Too many questions, too much unanswered. I really just don't get it.

A Gay Question

I don't know much about gay culture.

So if anyone could give me answers to a question that's been troubling me for some time, I'd be extremely grateful.

In gay romantic films, does the lead character usually have an obligatory hetero female confidante who is extremely good looking and charming but presents no sexual entanglement problem because he's, well, gay, and she gives him sound measured advice about his gay problems when he's emotionally overstrung and consoles him and lets him sleep over when his lover is being unreasonable and she happens to be a good dancer and great to go shopping with too?

I didn't notice one in "Brokeback Mountain" but that may have been the exception to the rule.


1. Why do ladies who advertise gym equipment and work-out never look hot and sweaty and have mussed up hair like I did just now after doing 2 sit-ups?
2. How come they look so ecstatic about draping themselvs over a huge big inflatable ball? In fact, why have not more outraged Christian and morals groups come out and protested against these obviously sexually suggestive phallic photographs of women in latex with grins of pleasure draping themselves over huge inflatable balls?
3. Why is it so ultra-cool to pay over a thousand dollars for a machine that encourages you to run for ages and get nowhere?

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Review: You've Got Mail

I'm sorry, I wasn't a huge fan. I found this in Mr Coffee's collection, one that he's seen some time ago, and decided to watch it by myself because I had a big feeling that he may prefer me to watch romcoms by myself so I didn't choose them for nightly-together-viewing-pleasure (we're trying to work our way through both our collections, his is way larger than mine. The deal is that we watch every DVD, unless we've both seen it separately*, and sometimes even then if it's really cool or we've forgotten it) . Besides, I got a tentative agreement that he would watch "Gone With the Wind" with me so long as I didn't subject him to "Little Women" and I think he's doing all he can to stay away from "The Sound of Music" despite his professed love of musicals (I don't know how a musical buff can have never seen "The Sound of Music") so I thought I'd cut him a little slack and get a Ryan-Hanks romcom out of the way in his absence.

Anyhow, back to "You've Got Mail".

I just really didn't get it. I suppose the point was there was Tom Hanks, there was Meg Ryan, there was a conflict but then they figured out that when they really found out what they were like they liked each other? Hmmm.

I guess Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan don't do it for me so much anyhow, Meg Ryan was really good in "When Hary met Sally" but I don't keep falling for her as my romantic icon over and over.

Then I read comments from some people saying that Meg's character must be a masochist if she would fall in love with a guy who tore up her business. Well, it meant as much to her as she acted as if it did, yes, I think it seemed a bit weird that she was so easily able to put it aside.

What did annoy me, though, were some of the inconsistencies in the character - as some people said, Meg Ryan's character goes on about crap big business forcing small businesses out and then she buys her coffee at Starbucks, she shops at a big supermarket, she seemed to have no problem using any big-name products and supporting them.

It was never actually pointed out in the movie what was so bad about Tom Hanks' character - except of course that Meg Ryan didn't like him. He was a capitalist in a capitalist country. He opened a bookstore. He gave discounts and other people liked it. Meg Ryan's shop might have had a bit more warmth but people went for the discounts.

Meg Ryan didn't seem able to convince people that she offered them something better or that there was great value in keeping her store alive.

I was utterly bewildered by this one and couldn't really feel for them or care whether they got together - though of course you knew that they would.

*There are two exceptions to this - we're not rewatching The Blair Witch Project or LadyHawke. Basically because I've been told LadyHawke is not worth my time and The Blair Witch Project has such shaky camera tecchnique it makes you sick watching it.

Review: Little Women

Being unemployed means several things. It means being able to sit around all day in your pyjamas if you like. It also means watching a few DVDs you said to yourself you'd watch but haven't yet.

One of those was, for me, the version of "Little Women" starring Winona Ryder.

I watched it today and I was ... well, a little disappointed. I loved the book; I've read it a zillion times over and I guess the worst bit about it was that my FAVOURITE BITS were cut.
For those who don't have a thorough acquaintance with the book by Louisa M. Alcott, it is divided into two parts which are often published separately, but sometimes together under the title "Little Women". The first is called "Little Women, the second is called "Good Wives". The movie encompasses both, but doesn't delve into the activities of the other sequels "Jo's Boys" or "Little Men".

I don't think this was a bad decision at all. Except that, since the first half concentrates on the activities of one year in the March family and then the second book gives the "what happened next to the girls - careers, marriage, etc", I felt some of it was rushed and a lot of the characters weren't given time to develop properly.

Some relationships and motives aren't even explained very well. there are some scenes and anecdotes that are cut for obvious reasons or "merged". But some of the most fun ones are to - and while they aren't absolutely necessary to getting us to the endpoint, they do give us insight to the motives and character development so we can care about them.

For instance:

It makes perfect sense to cut the chapter where Marmee teaches Meg and Jo a lesson that all play and no work doesn't pay - because the chapter in the book basically describes how they get on each other's nerves and make mistakes through lazing about all day. Probably a less exciting scene on film.

But scenes like Amy's tea party gone wrong and Laurie's picnic would have been rather amusing. I also thought they could have made more of when Jo published her first piece of writing. The "Castles in the Air" piece might have been a bit of"all talk, no action" but it did reveal a bit about the girls and the dialogue could easily have been transposed into the attic or picnic scene.

And I would have loved to see John Brooke actually propose to Meg.

The making of Amy's will was "testament" somewhat to her character development, but it was completely cut - no wonder there were so many complaints about the movie that Amy never deserved Laurie and Jo should have married him, because there was never any opportunity given for:

a) Jo and Laurie to quarrel
b) Laurie to show that he was not very serious and he cared for art and had ways that were similar to Amy
c) Amy to be reformed, and to grow up properly


That is what I will say bout it. I also would have liked a bit more shown of the sweet relationship between Mr Laurence and Beth.

Far too much of this story seemed to leave the relationships and the personalities of the girls who make the book so special by the wayside, and in the end you ought to be caring about all of them - especially Jo, but all of them.

In general though, the actors did a good job and the scenery is really beautiful. I just kept adding in to the script as I went along, in my head.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Out again - for the Record!

Well I'm another "casualty" of the Recession - I've been told not to come in to work next week boo hoo.

My work was officially as a casual worker since end September/beginning October last year anyhow, but I had been working so regularly, well I felt pretty permanent (don't get so comfortable Maria, that's the motto!).

And now I've been swept out in the Court cleansing, little frock coat and all. Though it's possible they may ask me back for a week here and there if they need a casual to fill in a gap or if "someone blows off their head suddenly" as someone nicely put it.

Apparently I'm supposed to be praying for combustion of craniums in order to get work around here.

It's a pity because I liked coming in to work here, I actually liked this job. The frock coat could be cumbersome at times but wasn't bad for pretending you were a wizard in. I often wondered whether instead of carrying all those Law Books around I should just consult a Harry Potter book and say a spell instead.

Anyhow, that means next week is a very good week for concentrated navel-gazing and procrastinating. I've noted it in my diary.

P.S. I think this might be the longest stint of paid employment I've done at the one place - it's a record and it's not even six months' worth yet!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

It's a McNugget HamBurglary!

In Florida a woman dialed 911 because McDonalds ran out of chicken McNuggets.

Or so run the news articles.

No, that's not exactly true. She rang emergency because McDonalds wouldn't give her her Nuggets after she paid for them - and in some ways, that could be construed as a burglary. A Hamburglary. However, she got in trouble all the same for abusing the 911 system.

The story runs thus: The woman paid for her chicken McNuggets, McDonalds then ran out of Nuggets, but refused to give her her money back, saying all sales were final. They attempted to give her a different product (apparently worth more) but the woman didn't want it, and called 911 instead.

Now, if you look at the Daily Tele's reporting of the story, the blog has plenty of comments going on about how the woman's an idiot, or at least that's how the blog was going the last time I checked (maybe public opinion has swayed by now).

No doubt the action was pretty extreme, and not exactly what a 911 line is there for.

However, while there may be much hooting and derision in the direction of the woman - let's not forget Maccas in here - I'd be pretty annoyed if any vendor took my money, did not hand over the goods I paid for and then did not offer a refund as a possible solution. You advertise the goods as available? And they aren't? Then advise me they are out of stock before I hand over my cash so I can make an informed decision about whether I hand over the cash (best) or at the very least, refund it when you've figured it out.

It doesn't matter that maccas offered a 'larger portion of different food at the same price' - just say you don't want that particular food? If you go into a store to buy butter and they don't have any, is it ok for them to keep your money and foist on you dog food or baby's nappies or shaving cream with the justification "this has a higher retail price"? It's just a bit silly. It could be an option, but it shouldn't be the only option.

Maccas is a big powerful corporation known for getting its way and in all this kerfuffle this one point shouldn't be swept under the carpet - by not giving the woman her money, they were playing unfair.

I don't think calling 911 was appropriate: What I would like to see would be someone say "NO I WANT MY REFUND OR MY NUGGETS!"

and then refuse to move out of the queue until someone gave one or the other to her.

Every so often she could bellow she wanted to see the manager.

She could take up a whole register. She could also stand there telling customers, "Hi, by the way I wouldn't order Nuggets if I were you. Those people over there will keep your money and your meal will take forever. that's what I'm waiting here for - my Nuggets! What is it - two hours and no Nuggets? Gosh, I think you're very lucky there with such a speedy cheeseburger there sir, much better service than what I'm getting with my Nuggets! I wonder if it's because the chickens aren't laying the golden nuggets any more or ... what? chips so fast? Mmmmm ... wow, nothing compared to my NUGGETS! ...."

Calling a TV station would be kinda cool. She might gather a crowd if she could manage a monologue for a while and Maccas hadn't caved in.

Indeed - I don't think it was appropriate to call 911; on the other hand, I don't think it's appropriate for us to buckle to the bullying of retailers, especially large billion-dollar international corporations.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Sign up for Direct Debit so we can take Nothing from your Bank Account!

Readers of OJS know that I think Three (the mobile company) is a bit cracked. Potty, like.

I also had a bit of trouble with them previously. I had a contract with them and was paying by direct debit; they attempted to charge me for the same amount twice as well as charge me a late fee I didn't owe them. So I stopped paying by direct debit - just so they couldn't take money from my bank account automatically each month and then pretend they hadn't done it, and then take over a month and a lot of calls at my expense for them to fix their mistake. (That's what I hate about phone providers - they make a mistake and when their incompetence takes you about fifty calls to pursue their mistake, they bill you all over again. It shouldn't even cost you one call.)

Anyhow, I am now on with Telstra. I don't know whether it will be a smarter plan choice but the mobile itself is cooler so that's a plus.

When I switched to Telstra, I was told all i had to do was switch my phone number over to Telstra. Three would issue me a final bill as they would "see" that I was no longer with them.

I did that, and I got a 'last' bill from Three which I paid and I'm no longer with Three.

Then for some reason I got another bill from Three ...

It has written on it that my bill is $0.

And I haven't made any calls.

They WROTE to me to tell me that?

Not only that, I received the whole standard bill, with a lovely little place in it saying "Amount owing for this month $0.00" and a big notice underneath saying "would you like to sign up for Direct Debit? Make your bill easier!"

I have a feeling I could make that bill a lot easier by plain ignoring it, but hey, I'm just a layperson.

There's a Case for Every Case

I've seen the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

And I read the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

And I can see there's the Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy by Diane Stanley.

So ...

now I want to know how many different kinds of "cases" there are.

What variety do they come in: Can I get Amazing Cases, Difficult cases, Interesting Cases, Gee Whiz bang Cases, Righteous Cases?

Competition: What really good "case" book or movie would you want to see?

Naturally, cases come in all varieties: there are murder cases, rape cases, the upper and lower cases, stair cases and brief cases. Some are heavy and some are light. Some are better constructed than others, and some are open & shut cases whereas some you need a virtual - or real - sledgehammer to crack.

What case would YOUR case be?