Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the category “Movies”

Ten Movies that changed my life.

This is another one of those “pick ten” impossibilities. I’ve been watching movies constantly since I was four years old. I have over a thousand DVDs in my collection. But once you add the rider “changed your life” I think I can cut it down a bit. I still don’t think I’m going to be able to keep it to ten.

OK, here goes.

When Harry Met Sally / The Truth about Cats and Dogs / My Best Friend’s Wedding

I’ve always been a bit of a romantic. When Harry Met Sally was the first DVD I bought. I also had it on VHS and I can pretty much quote it from start to finish. I have a soft spot for Rob Reiner, Nora and Deiiah Ephron. They write brilliant characters.  The other two just caught me. I would watch them almost weekly. Watching them again, they were some pretty dysfunctional people, but maybe that’s what I identified with.

 

Casablanca / Breakfast at Tiffanys / The Philadelphia Story

Some of the classics. Casablanca came out of watching When Harry Met Sally. But these old movies have always been close to my heart.

 

Heathers / Hudson Hawk / True Romance

The movies to quote. I was ecstatic when Heathers was turned into a TV show. The first episode was incredibly referential and quite reverential as well. Everything was turned on its head but it kept that basic style of conversation and surrealism that made Heathers so cool.

Hudson Hawk just tickled me. I quoted Hudson Hawk constantly. I’m sure I drove everyone crazy.

True Romance was recommended to me by Bruce Carboon. He also got me going on a few different arthouse movies. But he would quote Christopher Walken all through our rehearsals for Pirates of Penzance. I thought he was amazing. So I had to watch True Romance. And watch it again. The movie outlasted  any contact I had with Bruce.

 

chasing amyChasing Amy

Kevin Smith is another one who knows characters. There are Smith-ish dialogue pieces in a number of my short stories. He was so cool and philosophical. For a twenty-something just getting into film. Looking back at the movies I still love them but I can start to see what Smith was trying to get out into the world as well. He had demons, that man.

thematrixThe Matrix

This was the first time I thought that a new Superman movie could be done and done properly. Apart from that, it was just a life changing movie that was let down by the sequels. Not to say the sequels weren’t great movies, just that they weren’t worthy of the movie that had come before them. What an amazing thing to come into the world, and all of the advanced it brought to cinema.

When Night was Falling / Naked Lunch

I got right into arthouse. Spent lots of time at the Valhalla being wanky and conceited about the discoveries I had made. Naked Lunch was an incredibly freaky movie that spoke to the confusion and turmoil that I was feeling at university, as this greater world was dumped on me and all of the choices I could make were laid out. I just chose everything and it came back and bit me on the ass. So movies like the Naked Lunch resonated nicely with a world that made no sense.

When Night was Falling was a gorgeous Canadian movie. All of my friends were gay or bi or experimenting and this film again fitted in nicely with those experiences. It works as a movie even when you’re not in a state of inner turmoil. Give it a look.

 

holy grailMonty Python and the Holy Grail / life of Brian / Meaning of Life.

I got into Python in Year 9 and have never looked back. They insinuate themselves into all areas of my life. They have influenced my reading habits, the philosophers I studied, my writing and film studies. Changed my life? Bloody oath!

 

BrainDead/Meet the Feebles

Peter Jackson before he decided to ruin the Hobbit for me. He was cool and edgy and disgusting and almost local. I used to wag school and watch movies with my friends at home. Now I’m a Media teacher. It all worked out ok.

 

color of nightColor of Night

Bruce Willis keeps popping up. He made some great choices. Apparently he’s a bit of a dick, but at the time, he was the coolest man on the planet. Color of Night was an incredible story, crafted to perfection with a twist I never saw coming. And no, I don’t want to hear if you saw it coming. Let me have my enjoyment of the movie.

220px-Arachnophobia_(film)_POSTERArachnophobia

Changed my life by giving me arachnophobia. It scared the crap out of me. It was rated PG. I didn’t sleep for a week after watching it. I was a paper boy and my job consisted of riding through spider webs to deliver newspapers. I’ve had night terrors ever since about  the bed being covered with spiders. This is not an ok movie. I haven’t seen it again since it came out.

Jurassic Park

Another one that was just awesome for cinema in general. It still holds up, but at the time, it was just spectacular. Movies changed completely. I got into CGI with this in the back of my mind.

 

Strictly Ballroom

I was working at the Kyabram Plaza cinema when this came out and I saw it twelve times and loved it eleven times and then got over it. My over it hasn’t lasted. I love it and like watching it on regular occasions. Again, Baz before he got too big for his boots.

rocky jorrorRocky Horror Picture Show

We used to act this out on stage. It was part of our subculture. It allowed us to explore our sexualities under the guise of having fun on stage. It was a musical and a movie! And it was Tim Curry. What’s not to like?

 

ferrisFerris Bueller’s Day off

I don’t think I know anyone my age who wouldn’t put this on their top ten list, although I’m sure they are out there. I saw it in Year 9 and watch it at least twice a year. Matthew Broderick was my hero and Mia Sara was my greatest crush.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure/Bogus Journey / Encino Man

More movies to quote. Stupid stoner buddy movies have always had a place in my movie collection. It’s interesting to see who went on to big things and who got left behind in comedy limbo.

 

Aliens

This one was another world changer. It had a larger scope than Alien, and I’m pretty sure I saw this one first, when I was in Year 9 or 10. And of course it has Captain Hollister in the extended version, which helps. Game over Man!

 

Jaws

I saw this in grade 5 or 6, and my brother and I hid behind the couch for this and American Werewolf in London, peeking over the edge to see what would happen next. I’m glad I saw it. I’m not so glad I saw it then. I got into a huge argument with my parents because they wouldn’t let me see Jaws 4 because I wasn’t sixteen yet.

starwarsStar Wars

Again, people my age had their worlds changed by this. I had hundreds of figurines and treated them all badly enough that I wouldn’t be able to sell them even if I still had them. It fired my imagination like nothing that came before it.

 

bambiBambi

The first movie I saw on the big screen, although I think I saw Superman II at the drive in before I saw this one. I remember the experience. It led to my love of movies in the cinema. Another one I haven’t seen in twenty years or so.

gremlinsGremlins

Watched this too young and stayed in a caravan that night with friends. Dad crept around the caravan scraping on the windows and scaring us half to death with little gremlin cackles. It scarred me. But I love it and it is a regular Christmas choice.

Akira / Lupin III / Cowboy Bebop

My foray into anime. I watched everything I could get from the Kyabram video store, which wasn’t much. It was part of the reason I was keen to go to Japan.

 

01_Fight_ClubFight Club

Story telling done well. There are few movies out there that really get  you. This and the Sixth Sense (and Color of Night) stand out as being “oh wow. Oh wow!”

Nightmare on Elm Street

I’ve seen every one of these movies a hundred times over. We used to have marathons in Year 11 and 12 watching all the ones that were out. Being a bad sleeper, I was fascinated with dreams and nightmares. You can find my dream journal entry further back here on Finding Damo.nightmare


Well there you go. There are hundreds more movies I could mention. There are probably many more that have had a far more significant impact on me. But these are my stream-of-consciousness ones and that is what Finding Damo has always been about. Not too deep, not too reflective.

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What in the multiverse?

the mighty avengers.The world has gone mad for comic books. I believe it’s because technology has finally reached the point where the super feats the heroes undertake no longer look fake. But we are inundated with Leagues and Avengers and Squads and vigilantes, mutants, inhumans, anti-heroes and all sorts of other costumed characters. We have comics and TV shows and movies and computer games. Even the Simpsons have gotten in on the act.

I have a couple of students at school who are massive fans of comic books. Every week we get new graphic novels, collections and standalone stories from Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Deadpool, Spider-man and the Green Lantern Corp.

It’s given me a good chance to catch up.

If my memory is correct, I read heaps of comics as a child. But I never really got into the collection aspect. And I don’t think I read the “right” type of comic.

Archie ComicsIn my younger days, I read lots of Archie, lots of Duck Tales and Darkwing Duck.

As I got older, my memories are of Moon Knight, Lobo and the Silver Surfer. I read the What If… comics, where the Watcher showed us what would happen if Peter Parker married Mary Jane, or didn’t marry Mary Jane.

turtlesI bought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – the Eastman and Laird graphic novels to start with, and then the cartoon adaptations once they ran out. I read Cerberus the Aardvark and Groo.

And then I moved onto Heavy Metal and National Lampoon. I read Cracked and Mad, which gave me a good round education on what was going on in movies without having seen a lot of them.

I read the odd Batman. I read quite a few Superman one offs. But I wasn’t around for any of the big things that happened in comics.

deadrobinIt’s weird, looking at it from the outside. I remember seeing the covers when Robin was killed by the Joker. That was huge. I mean HUGE. My comic reading friends were devastated. The issue in mint condition was worth a fortune.
deathofsupermanI remember when the front page of the newspaper told us that Superman had died. I saw the comic covers and I saw the hardcover book adaptation, but I didn’t read either of them.

I remember finding out that Peter Parker had stood up in front of the press and outed himself as Spider-man (or was it Spider-man outing himself as Peter Parker?). But I still haven’t read through that story. That was part of the first Civil War wasn’t it?

I missed Crisis on Infinite Earths, but by the time Flash and Arrow were on TV, I at least knew what that was all about. I didn’t realise it was so long ago.

I have a lot of catching up to do. But it’s worth it. It’s worth doing it now, with all of the stories collected into handy graphic novels, instead of subscribing to ten different comics just to get one story.

knightfallNow I’ve read Knightfall and I wish I’d read it before the movie came out.

I’ve read Dark Knight Returns and Year One and The Killing Joke and they are absolute masterpieces (but I get why there is such a controversy over the Killing Joke).

I read Red Son and I think I missed some of the references due to not having been in touch with comics for so long.

I read the Death of Superman and I have no idea who Lex Luthor is meant to be or why he was speaking in an Australian accent.

And then I started in on the new stuff.

flashpointI read Flashpoint, and loved it. I liked how they rebooted the universe, especially as I didn’t have decades of backstory stuck in my head. Most of what I know of Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman and The Flash comes from TV and movies (I still like the 80s Flash show and I’m glad so many of the cast came back for the new show).

And from Kevin Smith. He’s given me a much better appreciation for the DC universe, both from his podcasts, from references in his movies (which made me look stuff up) and from his Batman comics (write the third one, damn you!).

And I started catching up on the New 52. Most of that comes from the two boys in the library who regularly put forward suggestions for me to read next. So I was just getting into this rebooted universe…

rebirth-0b86eAnd then Rebirth happened.

I’m lost again. There are too many Flashes and too many linked story-lines and I have to buy seven series to make sense of the basic timeline. I have to let it go and wait for the good stuff to float to the top and get collected into omnibuses again.

While that happens, I still keep to my eclectic reading schedule. I might be over the madness of intertwining titles, but I still love comics.

walking deadI’m just behind the TV series in Walking Dead and loving it, although I don’t think they should be out for just anyone to borrow in the school library.

I love the adaptations and new stories in the Dresden Universe.

The comic book adaptation of The Stand is phenomenal and the prequels to the Gunslinger books are absolutely worth it.

I love stories written in comic form more than I like universes written into multiple series. Standalones like The Watchmen and…

samdman

Oh, God help me, I forgot about the Sandman.

I found out about the Sandman at university. My friend Shay was living with some really cool people, interested in things my Kyabram bumpkin self hadn’t even heard of. Sandman was part of that. Sandman was a gateway drug to the rest of Neil Gaiman, along with Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens. Those two things lifted me out of the staples of Stephen King and Tolkien and into a whole new realm of writing. Comics are cool. Anyway, back to the list.

Oh, and the continuation of the Buffyverse. Oh, just anything with Joss Whedon in it.

Speaking of which, I’ve almost completely ignored the Marvel universe.

deadpoolI suppose most of that is that the boys in the library don’t seem to care about Marvel beyond Marvel Zombies (which I hate) and Deadpool (which is great, but so full of multiverse backstory I can’t get right into it).

All of my Marvel knowledge comes from the TV shows and movies, post about 1984.

I want to know what’s going on, but even reading collections like Age of Ultron still has me at a major disadvantage. I need to go back. I need some new library monitors with a Marvel fixation.

What series keep you up until late at night?

2015

Everybody has to write one of these, don’t they?

Let’s see. What happened in 2015? It might be just writing at this time of the year, but in my head, the year was categorised by stress. Which is weird, because in 2014 I:

  • wrote two plays,
  • performed in two productions,
  • published and launched my first novel,
  • completed a certificate III in Game Design,
  • holidayed in Halls Gap,
  • turned 40 and was painted into the TARDIS,
  • created a CGI opening for the school production which almost killed me,
  • saw my daughter perform at the Melbourne Arts Centre,
  • had our first cancer scare with our dog Amy and then
  • lost my grandfather to cancer (which doesn’t seem that long ago).

2015They were huge things, and very draining. And still, I finished this year completely shattered and I’m just getting out of it now, after a good few days down at Dromana soaking in the ocean (my calm down place). My 2015 list on the face of it is much longer. This year I:

  • Wrote a book starring my daughter as a werewolf
  • Saw They Might Be Giants (again)
  • Watched my lovely wife graduate from university
  • Ran the school radio show and podcast for a year
  • Spent a week in Sydney
  • Ramped up the school 3D printing program
  • Started learning to program in Python
  • Got my debating team into the finals
  • Had a number of articles published in educational journals
  • Had a reunion of the Five
  • Fixed the shower head
  • Ran the sound for Macbeth
  • Wrote half a dozen stories for a sequel to Dwarves in Space and found them mostly awful
  • Discovered Netflix and Stan and Presto
  • Had a Marvel Universe movie marathon
  • Went to a number of art galleries
  • Attended a few Guides functions
  • Started an educational blog
  • Read the Harper Lee sequel nobody thought would ever happen
  • Flew in a very old bi-plane
  • Finished my wedding video – three years on
  • Celebrated Grandma’s 90th

And that’s just the ones that come to mind going back through my photo gallery. Of those, they were all incredibly positive, life affirming and creative pursuits, which didn’t bring me down in the slightest. So why am I so mentally exhausted?

I think all that I can say is: don’t get involved in politics in the workplace. Just do your own job as well as you can and let what’s up top run itself.

I just wish I believed that was a good idea. Anyway, as always, I promise I will write more in 2016. And I have actual things in place to make that happen. AND I did actually write a lot in 2015 – just not on FindingDamo.

Bad Hobbit

This isn’t a movie review blog. I don’t want to make a habit of this. But I really feel the need to unburden myself after living in delighted expectation of “the movie event of the year” (as if there’s ever only one) and then having to sit through three hours of absolute tripe as my hopes died, torn apart by  my ravaging frustration at a talented director getting it OH SO WRONG!

bilbo_640x960But anyway.

I’ll start with the general stuff, and then anyone who doesn’t want spoilers can depart and come back after they’ve read the book or seen the movie or both. No, actually, if you haven’t read the book, leave now. Spoilers abound. For those that have, I’ll try and avoid spoiling the movie for the first bit.

Peter Jackson has proven that he’s a good director. Heavenly Creatures  was a marvellous movie that linked fantasy and reality in a feast of visual and imaginative delight. Dead/Alive  was gory and funny and very well written. And King Kong  . . .

Ah, there’s the problem. I think Tripod  said it best when they sang “Get to the f***ing monkey!”

But even so. He has a great concept of space and the epic. He knows how to elicit emotions from his actors and the audience. His pacing is always good (except maybe for King Kong) and there is no way that he should have been able to screw up The Hobbit.

Jackson’s Hobbit, how did I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

Bringing back the old cast

I think I read an interview with Jackson, where he was overjoyed at being able to work with “all the old gang” again, and I winced. And then we saw trailers of the movie with Galadriel, and I thought “well, ok, it’s a stretch, but it might have happened”. And the cast list included Elijah Wood and I decided that a little introduction at the start might be deemed necessary for the uneducated masses who didn’t know that the movies were also books and needed some linking. Which is what they did. And it was terrible, and boring, and didn’t add anything to the movie, but there you go. As I said, maybe the studio demanded it.

And once that bit was out of the way and the story started properly, I was quite happy with Gandalf and Bilbo and a stack of dwarves. And they sang the songs, and I relaxed, because I had hoped that the songs would be a big part of the movie. And if they changed a couple of story points, then that wasn’t too bad, but I was starting to be a little nervous.

Unable to put together a realistic backdrop

Let me back up a bit, because you know that that’s what I do.

When the old Bilbo (from LOTR) is sitting there writing his little book, and Frodo wandered in and made some twee comments, all I could think was “This looks fake!” I was wondering whether it was because we were watching the movie in 48 fps, in 3D. Everything looked like it was on a sound stage. The hobbit hole was too clean and incredibly fake. Frodo looked like he was lit badly and in front of a green-screen half of the time. Any time there was footage of people talking to each other, in caves or houses or on rocky outcrops, my mind was screaming “Made-for-tv movie! Made-for-tv movie!” And so, as my first confession: it could be that the combination of a high frame rate and 3D technology killed the movie for me. And if that’s so- no, there’s no excuse. Jackson chose to use these technologies and probably saw rushes and dailies and test screenings and all sorts of other footage. There is no way he could have watched this movie and thought “yeah, that looks real.” I was never really in the action. Never allowed to let myself believe I was in Middle Earth. And that killed the movie for me.

They were filming in New Zealand for Bob’s sake! A land full of rocky landings and lovely caves. Natural backdrops and fantasy settings. Why did everything look like it was made out of Styrofoam?

Turning a PG movie into an M movie

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been reading The Hobbit to my 8yo daughter. My niece has been reading it. They’ve both loved it from start to finish. I read it myself when I was in Grade 2. These kids should be able to go and see a movie based on a book written for children.

Every sequence that I found unacceptable for younger audiences was one pasted into the storyline by Jackson and had nothing to do with the book. Which leads me to:

Making shit up

Oh, I hate swearing in a blog, but I am so angry right now! Oh, and this is where I’ll probably make some comments on stuff that happened in the movie, so if you want to remain completely spoiler free, run away now.

At some point, it came out that Jackson was making the two movies into three, using “unreleased source material and indexes” and everybody sighed. I thought it would be tacked onto the end, maybe as part of the Battle of the Five Armies (seriously, if you haven’t even read the book, you don’t want to be here right now).

Firstly, there was a massive battle between the dwarves and the orcs – again, giving the movie context in the greater world of Middle Earth. It was bloody and violent and introduced a giant white orc.

Without saying too much more, I’ll say that that orc became the bane of my existence on and off for the next three hours.

What I didn’t know and didn’t care about was that Jackson has incorporated information and story from The Rise of the Dark (the story of Sauron) as well as the backstory of the dwarves. There’s also a lot of backstory for characters from LoTR, and a good chunk of White Council as well, for good measure.

And I get it. Jackson is trying to link The Hobbit to the LoTR trilogy, making a much greater world out of a lot of different source material.

But that isn’t The Hobbit. That story is light-hearted and small. A story of friendships and adventure. A children’s story with a wider appeal.

Changes in tone

Throughout the movie, the tone changes with no apparent reason. There is an amusing run through the goblin tunnels, completely at odds with the seriousness of the situation. There is a completely ridiculous scene involving the knees of a stone giant. There is an unscripted battle scene when the wargs and goblins have the party trapped up a tree. There is not nearly enough singing. The elves are way too serious. It doesn’t look like there will be any speaking eagles. . . I need to stop now.

Seriously, screw the backstory, screw the appendices and the rise of Sauron. Let me have The Hobbit. Let me have my childhood. Peter Jackson, get your grubby fingers out of Middle Earth.

PS I liked Tintin.

Another perspective:

http://io9.com/5968455/the-hobbit-is-a-lot-better-once-you-realize-its-a-war-movie

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