Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Dark Knight

I haven't heard so much hype about a movie in quite some time. The viral marketing began well over a year before the film was released and used a website to send thousands of eager fans across the country which revealed more websites, clues, puzzles and generated much intrigue.

Shortly after the theatrical trailer was released, one of the main stars, Heath Ledger who plays the Joker died which gave the film international attention and increased scrutiny regarding his 'final role'*. Those who have watched The Dark Knight, critics included, have heaped praise on both the film and Ledgers acting, many of which have called for a posthumous Oscar nomination win.

With the movie currently standing at #1 film of all time on the Internet Movie Database and an approval rating of 94 percent with the critics, it's safe to assume that the film is indeed extremely good.

And it is.

There hasn't been a deliciously dark and complete comic-book adaptation of a Marvel or DC action hero and only Sin City based on a Frank Miller graphic novel can stand shoulder to shoulder in this respect and is also a very good film in its own right.

What we have is a more rounded and in-depth look at how Bruce Wayne/Batman works, a great developing plot keeping you on your toes, solid dialogue and fantastic acting with, like everyone else highlighting this, Ledger providing an unfortgetable Joker. Indeed, Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month, formulating the character's posture, voice and kept a diary in which he recorded the Joker's thoughts and feelings to guide himself during his performance. That's method acting and it's paid off big time.

Aaron Eckhart has the face and the talent to play both Harvey Dent and Two-Face to a tee and supporting performances from Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman reprising their roles are also faultless.

In fact, as a whole, I have little in the way of bad things to say about The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan has made his second classic film with his second Batman movie (the other being the brilliant Memento). I'm not sure how it squeezed past the film board to get a PG-13 rating but I for one can't wait for the next installment.

I would give this film 9 lives of the Joker out of 10.

*It the 2009 release of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a Terry Gilliam film. Poor Terry, he has such terrible luck with his films.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Trans-Alpine Train Journey

It was an early start for us on Saturday as we woke at the ungodly hour of 7am, had a quick shower and bite to eat before a knock at the door summoned us out into the cold, damp darkness as we jumped into a taxi with Keith and Jenny and set off for the station.

As we picked up our tickets for the journey, found our seats and waited for the train to set off, the sun came out and showcased a fresh layering of snow in the distant hills.

The TranzAlpine train journey sets off from Christchurch and winds it way slowly to Greymouth, from one coast of the south island to the other. The trip is over 200 kilometres long and takes around five hours.

From our carriage the Canterbury Plains unfolded before us and disappeared behind us as we approached the Southern Alps resplendant in snow capped peaks.

Over viaducts hundreds of feet above the Waimakariri River and through 16 tunnels we climbed into the Alps through gorges and river valleys stopping along the way for photo opportunities and to pick up and drop off the occasional passenger.

We eventually descended through the rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth where we had just enough time to have lunch with Keith and Jenny before saying our goodbyes and making the return trip which was slightly magical as the sun faded and the impressive mountains dominated the skyline giving a certain splendour to the already imposing features of fading light on snow.

All photos here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Night With Beau Tyler

Last night we went to see Beau Tyler (aka Peter Feeney) on his recent tour in which he mocks the oft-advertised self-styled help gurus as he sets showcases his unique one hour 'Failure Focused Personal seminar'.

I'd never heard of Beau Tyler until recently when he appeared in a Tip Top Memphis Meltdown series of television commercials playing on a theme of a similar vein as motivator of personality championing 'man-sized' hokey-pokey ice-cream and not settling for anything less.

We arrived early, walking in on the man himself who was with his wife and child. He was extremely approachable and spoke briefly to us, told us to enjoy the show and disappeared into the backstage area.

Not long afterwards, his technical assistant (for want of a better word) took photographs of us appearing happy and sad which would later be used in the performance. Having already met the man and been guaranteed to have some part in the evenings show, I was eager to for the curtains to rise.

The initial enterance and energy of the first twenty minutes was solid and the audience, for the most part, played their part and went with the flow.

As with any performance with public interaction, a difficult participator can make or break the act and unfortunately, Beau chose someone that had little interest in playing along and brought the vibe down a notch. In deference to this, Beau didn't let any of this phase him and did the best he could with the man in question for the remainder of the segment.

As a concept and show, it was certainly unique and interesting. It highlighted the absurdity of profession, poked a lot of fun at it and made us all laugh along. However, with the success of the performance based on audience participation, it is here where the make or break of Beau's act must be judged and on this occasion it was a good show.

Beau Tyler Website

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A View To A Sill

So I thought I'd share some pictures of the view from my office as I think they'd be interesting for those not familar with the city or just interesting for the views themselves. Enjoy!

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