Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

If movies were soft drink, Stranger Than Fiction would be Diet Kaufman.

It has the imaginative plot, the touches of the surreal, the wry comedy of the Charlie Kaufman school of film-making, yet Marc Forster’s dramatically black comedy is missing that extra bit of punch.

The concept is genius – writer Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson, wearing no make-up) is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block in the matter of killing off her main character, not realising that said character is a real person – Harold Crick (Will Ferrell). And here’s the kicker – he can hear her narration in his head.

Yet the film is riddled with too many plot holes. How do we account for the events that Eiffel is not narrating? Why on earth would Maggie Gyllenhaal’s socially defiant baker fall for an IRS auditor that looks like Will Ferrell?

These, and other questions, are not answered in the quest for finding some sort of human truth that tugs at the heartstrings and makes us laugh. Yet neither of these are done in adequate measure.

That’s not to say it’s a bad film – it’s entertaining and has quite a number of brilliant moments; the acting is outstanding (Dustin Hoffman’s literary professor, especially, is wonderful) – but there’s just something missing. Something that could have moved this experience from the cautiously engaging into the truly rousing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hunky Westlife!

Congratulations to Westlife, who were voted #75 in The Sun's list of the Top 100 Hunks.

Only #75, you say? How can that be? Is one of those lovely boys bringing down the average?

I doubt it. In fact, I doubt the legitimacy of the poll in general.

When Gary Barlow and pals can come in at Number One (ahead of Johnny Depp (#3) and Jake Gyllanhaal (#5)!), you know something's wrong. Not that Take That don't have lovely harmonies, but I'd rather do Robbie Williams (#9) over his fat, wrinkly ex-bandmates.

Check out the full list here

(and yes, I know the photo is old, but isn't it dishy?)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Westlife: Live At Wembley

Westlife’s sixth tour was an exuberant, exhilarating presentation. Frenetic dance moves, amazing light shows, some very entertaining moments, and fantastic singing made it one of Westlife’s best concerts.

It’s too bad that the DVD doesn’t show any of this.

Starting remarkably downkey, the boys descended from the ceiling to open the show, delivering a stirring rendition of Flying Without Wings before storming into the uptempo stuff. But it’s hard to focus on this when the camera is switching between extra-extreme long shots and claustrophobic close-ups. And it continues this way the whole concert.

Rather than enjoy the great dance moves, we’re treated to shots that seem to focus on the pores on the boy’s noses than anything (especially disappointing during the medley). Rather than enjoy the expressions on the boys’ faces, we have to squint to see them, as the camera tracks its way along the very back of Wembley arena.

Apart from the camera work, the editing itself is distracting. Ours barely have time to focus before they have to focus on something new, the choppy effect more conducive to vertigo and motion sickness than enjoyment.

But that’s not to say the DVD doesn’t have some great points. The concert itself is fabulous, even if it’s butchered by the editing. All the boys are on top form, belting out the lyrics and shaking their booties like pros. If only the cameras would focus on Mark or Nicky for once – it seems to be Shane and Kian who get all the screen time. The song choices are outstanding (Pussycat Dolls’ Dontcha especially), their presentation dazzling (Titanic-inspired Queen Of My Heart is heartrendingly naff), and they throw in a few cheeky extras (a striptease; Shane’s handstand).

If you can get past the editing, it’s a delight. If you can’t… bring the sick bucket.

Extras: A short documentary chronicling the photo shoot for The Love Album, and Kian's parachute jump earlier in the year; You Raise Me Up and Amazing video clips; a 'jukebox' where you can reorganise the performances of the show into the order you'd like to see them.

NOTE: check out the photo work on the cover - those are taken by Mark's boyfriend, Kevin McDaid.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

For F*** Sakes...

McFly To Apologise To Westlife
12 January 2007

POP band McFly have been ordered to apologise to Westlife when they meet at the Childline Concert.

They ignited a feud with the Irish group last month by attacking them for releasing an album of cover versions.

Singer Danny Jones said: "We would never do what Westlife did.

"We want to be a real band like Oasis," But now the groups will come face to face at the Point in Dublin on January 28 in one of the biggest concerts of the year.

A show source revealed McFly's management have ordered them to say sorry to Westlife.

The insider added: "At the end of the day Westlife are one of the most successful pop bands of all time and they deserve some respect."

Westlife's Kian Egan said: "We respect everyone else in the music business. "You can't survive long in this game by getting into silly arguments with people."


Does anyone else think this is completely ridiculous?

McFly don't want to do covers!? What an affront!

It's like if Westlife said they didn't want to pursue a career in death metal... Slipknot would be devastated!

McFly should apologise. I mean, if they don't, Westlife might cry.

Another kitty litter liner from the tabloids.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

1944, rural Spain. Such is the backdrop for Guillermo del Toro’s Labyrinthian effort, a dark and twisted fantasy set beside a dark and twisted reality.

Both fantasy and reality tell the story of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a pre-teen sent to live on an army base with her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil) and new stepfather (Sergo López), the latter a brutal and unhinged army captain with a penchant for torture and impulsive murder.

Obsessed with fairytales, Ofelia creates fantasy in her own mind until she comes across a faun, Pan, (Doug Jones) in a dilapidated stone maze on the base grounds.

Though it may sound like earlier fantasy incarnations such as Wizard of Oz or the similarly titled Labyrinth, this is not a movie for children. The majority of the film focuses on conflict: between the army and the rebels, between the main characters (including Maribel Verdú’s stunning performance as sympathetic servant Mercedes), between fantasy and reality. The violence is unflinching, visceral to the point of disturbing, and the dark, overcast tones are almost as unsettling.

Then there’s the fantasy. The creatures are fantastical, certainly, but carry with them the sort of darkness one should always associate with the grimmest of fairytales. Disney this ain’t, more a reflection of a mind so consumed and surrounded by atrocity.

But even though the frames are painted with the darkest brush, it’s not all doom and gloom. In Ofelia, a sense of innocence is found. Reality is not black and white, rather a state of mind consumed by adulthood.
There are very few drawbacks. Some of the symbolism is inspired, the costume and set design are artistic masterpieces, yet retain their staunch realism. But though the reality aspect of the film is explored to the fullest and most effective, some of the fantasy sequences feel short and lack sufficient build-up (especially a scene involving a giant toad). This is a minor draback, however, and cannot diminish the impact of what is a brilliantly visual, emotional, and psychological journey.

And if you don’t like the symbolic stuff, there’s some pretty cool monsters.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Personal Announcement

I've set up my own slash site, where I'm hosting all my fics. All fics will still be posted at StoryLoife, but now there's an archive solely for my own fics.

It's not quite complete - there are still some fics I need to update. But most of them are there (the best ones, at least).

Check it out:

Friday, January 05, 2007

My Apologies...

...there was in fact some news from last week.

Westlife have the biggest-selling UK album of 2006, with The Love Album.

Let's all be proud of them. Awww...

Hi Folks!

Just got back from a week in Sydney, so I honestly don't know what the hell's going on with Westlife this week. There doesn't seem to be anything major happening, because I would have gotten a few hysterical emails by now.

Except for the one thing I did find out, now that I'm back:

Bloody Brian McFadden's been in Sydney all week. As have I. And I didn't know, so I had no opportunity to stalk and/or be vigilant. Oh well.

Apart from that, I've got nothing else to say, really. Sydney was good. I got five new DVDs, and I forgot to take many photos, so unless you want to see photos of elephants rooting, I wouldn't ask me about them.

Actually, elephants rooting is funny. Who wants to see?

And now I'm gonna go away, because this blog is at risk of turning into some lame-arse livejournal where dickheads talk about how much they like socks.

Bad, post. Bad.

Enjoy the elephants.