Short Circuit (1986) Film Review

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Ah, the 1980s. What a ridiculous time you were for movies. It’s not the concept of this one that makes me groan, but the execution.

There is an army facility that is showing off their new toy – weaponised robots. Then a freak thunderstorm appears and one of the robots – Number 5 – spontaneously develops intelligence and escapes. It takes a little while before anyone realises, then the robots creators Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenberg, with all his wide-eyed naivety) and Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens in the tradition of having white actors play somewhat offensive non-white caricatures) need to get to him before Skroeder (G.W. Bailey playing the same character I’ve seen him play in pretty much everything from the 80s) blows him up. Meanwhile Number 5 has stumbled onto the property of Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy in all her sweetness) a woman with an evil ex and an obsession with helping animals.

All that is good and leads to mostly fun times. What I found very odd was the amount of swearing – yes, it was mostly just ‘shit’ or variations on that, but I remember the eighties, and saying the s-bomb was a pretty big deal – especially in movies. Apparently, this film may have actually been marketed to adults – that makes me wonder – what was going on with films in the eighties that this was not a kids film? (Loved it, by the way)

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There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say by Paula Poundstone – Book Review

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Over recent years, I’ve come to know Paula Poundstone as one of the regular guests on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, the NPR panel show that I enjoy listening to on podcast. She’s fabulous, just so funny, and I get so excited when I hear she is on the show –  I know there is going to be at least one good rant.

This book tells a lot about her life, yet doesn’t really tell much at all. There was a legal incident some years ago that, due to the court procedures or something, she can’t talk about, but everyone kind of knows about (but I don’t) and that is a bit awful. But the rest – well, it’s like a biography where it is hard to tell truth from joke. Structurally, it’s a bit all over the shop – each chapter follows a famous figure (like Joan of Arc) and tells Poundstone’s story related to that. Only, it’s not really, or it kind of is but… It’s messy. What I found was that if I threw myself into it and got into the way she talks, I could unwind the different stories that were intwined. I think that it is interesting, but I think don’t get the book, get the audiobook. I think it is her tone that will make it work best.

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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) Film Review

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There’s a geeky boy, Flint (Bill Hader) whose mother is no longer around, and his father (James Caan) doesn’t get it at all. Then he invents a machine that causes rain to turn into whatever food he programs. Weird. Then the weather reporter, Sam (Anna Faris)who has a whole opposite-Ugly Ducking thing going on, gets everyone around the world fired up. But things go bad.

So, yup I totally got on my kids’ film high horse about this one. Science is bad, but then it becomes good because now everyone can eat all the terribly unhealthy food possible (yet only one of them becomes overweight) regardless of the waste. Oh, but then then science is bad again because there is some problem and then it’s over. And the girl who has to act like a bimbo to get on television and is far to scared to reveal that she is smart, yet can only truly impress the geeky guy by no longer dressing pretty. See, he likes her personality and smartness, so why does she need to change for her? Argh! Girls just can’t get it right, can we? We can’t be ourselves unless we are smart, and if we chose to pretty ourselves up, well, we must only be doing that for someone else. Hang on, but when Sam then de-prettifies, or ups her geek factor, it is done to impress the guy? Not because she feels more comfortable like this? And am I taking this too far? Of course I am. Let’s look at the other female characters in the film. Oh wait. There aren’t any.

 

 

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Paddington (2014) Film Review

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So, Paddington (voiced by Ben Wishaw) ends up in London, gets adopted by Henry Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and his family, but the evil Millicent (Nicole Kidman) wants to get him and so adventures take place.

Many kids in the UK and Australia grew up with Paddington – a bear from deepest Peru who came to London and was adopted by a family. Possibly, you could even say most kids know of him. I’d heard of him, but I didn’t know the story, and had very little interest in watching this film despite being told repeatedly that it was amazing. And it was a really good kids film with a great cast, a fair bit of humour and a lot of niceness. Enjoy with some kids – that’s the best way!

Paddington was nominated for BAFTAs for Best British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.

 

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The Proposition (2005) Film Review

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Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) is a British man living in the middle of the hot, harsh outback with his wife, Martha (Emily Watson). He has captured two notorious outlaws, the ‘simple’ Mike Burns (Richard Wilson) and his brother, Charlie (Guy Pearce). Stanley makes a deal with Charlie for him to find his even more wicked brother, Arther (Danny Huston) and bring him in, or else he and Mike will hang for the rape and murder of the Hopkins family. Charlie accepts the deal, leaving Mike in jail, but it is not a smooth process on either end, and has many tragic consequences.

It is a very hard film; beautiful but harsh scenery, an amazing and torturous soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and strong, painful performances, most notably from Ray Winstone. There is no hope for anyone. This country will destroy them, whether it the indigenous culture destroyed and seeking some kind of vengeance, the legacy of white settlement made up of criminals or

the harshness of the land itself, there is no hope. I wouldn’t recommend this film if you are feeling a bit down. It’s tough, but wonderful.

 

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The Goonies (1985) Film Review

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It’s small town USA in the mid-eighties. A couple of brothers, asthma-sufferer Mikey (Sean Astin) and muscle-bound Brand (Josh Brolin) are coming to terms with the fact that they are about to be torn away from their friends unless they can come up with a whole heap of money. Then Mikey finds a treasure map, and him and his mates set out on the journey of a lifetime. There’s Chunk (Jeff Cohen), an overweight kid with a huge heart, Mouth (Corey Feldman) the smartarse of the group and Data (Jonathan Ke Quan), the inventor who sometimes manages to get his inventions to work. Brand ends up accidentally joining them, as do Brand’s crush, Andy (Kerri Green) and her mate Stef (Martha Plimpton). Then they come across a family of bad guys and… watch out!

Oh, I was so fearful of watching this… what if it didn’t hold up? What if I ended up *gulp* hating the Goonies? Fear not. It was as fabulous as I remember. Yes, slightly over-written, and overly sentimental, but great. I watched it at a free outdoor screening in a park and it was just ace. A warm enough night, a whole heap of people revisiting their childhood, and a whole heap of kids discovering the Goonies for the first time.

And for an extra-special blast of the past, go check out Cyndi Lauper’s  “The Goonies R Good Enough” clip – it’s all Goonies – and 80s wrestlers!

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Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? (2013) Film Review

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Michel Gondry was fascinated with Noam Chomsky and his philosophies. So, he sat down a few times and talked to him, and then created animations to help explain what was being said. It was hypnotising and interesting and I was just captivated, although I found it a bit long. I would like to watch it again, perhaps in a couple of sittings, but I feel like it might set in a bit more.

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