Monday, May 26, 2008


Awake stars Hayden Christensen as Clay Beresford, who played Anakin Skywalker in the last Star Wars trilogy and more recently in the mis-fired popcorn action movie Jumper. The good news is that his acting is getting better and he's starring in more diverse and interesting roles.

In his latest he plays a heart transplant patient that suffers from "anesthetic awareness". This is when the patient doesn't receive enough analgesic to prevent consciousness and is either awake or wakes up mid-surgery. What is interesting is that this happens to about 20-40,000 people every year in America and 40% feel the pain of the operation, 92% experience panic/anxiety and 70% experience lasting psychological symptoms.

Naturally, this being a film, there is more than just this horrible situation happening to the character in question and this takes place in and around the unfolding drama in a series of cut-scenes to other characters and flashbacks regarding the poor bedfellow.

Unfortunately not much can be said without spoiling the plot, suffice to say that it is a watchable drama/thriller worthy of renting and, more amazingly, shows that Jessica Alba can act, playing the role of Clay's love interest and it's hopefully a pivotal time for her to ditch big-budget action films for a more mature career. It also showcases a solid, if uninspiring Terrance Howard as Clay's surgeon which just about sums this film up.

A first-time writer/director role by Joby Harold indicates that whilst it might have been a better film if handed to someone else, it's a good start to a promising career.

I would give this film 6.3 countdowns from 10.

Official Site for Awake


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vantage Point

Director Pete Travis was working behind the camera solely in television before he shot the Paul Greengrass script that became Omagh about the IRA bombing that killed 28 people in Northern Ireland in 1998. The film won many awards and trajected Travis straight to the big time with his next film being Vantage Point.

The film is shot in continual retelling through the perspectives of different players and witnesses involved in the attempted assassination of the US president who is giving a public speech at a summit in Spain. The effect is akin to watching a jigsaw being put together by different people who have their own unique piece and of whom none are aware of what the complete process will reveal.

Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox play the role of bodyguards to the President very effectively and prove their worth in an action role. Forest Whitaker is a tourist who captures the events on his hand-held camera and is drawn into the drama which unfolds around him. Other notable roles are William Hurt as the president and Sigourney Weaver who plays a relatively minor role as a TV producer.

Travis rides a fine line between repetitiveness and anticipation as each new sequence based on the main characters reveals more of the plot and storyline of the said characters with the end section of the movie blending together to a frenetic finale.

Despite the setup and structure being handled well and taking a unique version on what is essentially a whodunnit thriller for the most part, I wasn't enamoured with the overall message and ending of the film.

Nevertheless, as an action-thriller it is certainly worth checking out and I look forward to Travis' next project to see what he does next.

I would give Vantage Point 6.9 eye witnesses out of 10


Monday, May 05, 2008

28th Birthday

It was going to be a different birthday this year being in New Zealand and not having old friends there for me but the friends we have made so far made it a night to remember.

We kicked things off at the Bodhi Tree, a Burmese restaurant on Columbo Street. I'd heard good things about it and was interested in trying out this style of food.

It is a small restaurant and it was full within a quarter hour after we arrived. They had a small but good selection of wine and they also do BYO which worked to our advantage as we brought along our choice of wines. The menu is broken down into seafood, vegetarian etc and there is a good selection on offer. They advised us to choose two dishes and share them along with rice but we preferred choosing our own dishes and there was barely enough room on the table for them. I ordered the dumplings and a squid dish and I was satisfied with both of them and jealous of Lou's beef which was deliciously tender. By the time we finished our courses, we still had plenty of wine left so we opted for some desserts and I had the mud cake which came with a singing waiter and a candle on top.

The weather on my birthday was not kind to us and our last section of walking to the restaurant was under our umbrellas as hailstones pounded the ground. As we left it was windy with heavy rain as we began our pub crawl with the Vic & Whale. It seems a decent, if uninspiring, sports bar and as a new option since moving here I went for a bourbon and coke as I didn't feel like a beer just yet and couldn't face any more wine.

Needless to say, we visited more pubs along the way including the Holy Grail where I reigned supreme on the pool table and set a new record on a machine that tested your ability to punch a boxing bag as hard as possible.

It was a great night although on the way home the rain increased in its verocity and angle and came at us horizontally and Lou and I arrived safely at the house soaked through from the waist down.

Full photos can be found here shortly.

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