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DIDGE - The View From Down Under

An Aussie’s ridgy-didge view of world affairs and popular culture.

Friday, January 28, 2005

These people are true American heroes. I wish I was there to protest the world’s most vile terrorist, but there was plenty of people there anyway. I captured these heartening images from the television.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Poll: Bush has made the world more dangerous

Global poll slams Bush leadership
"More than half of people surveyed in a BBC World Service poll say the re-election of US President George W Bush has made the world more dangerous. Only three countries - India, Poland and the Philippines - out of 21 polled believed the world was now safer. The survey found that 47% of the 21,953 people questioned now see US influence in the world as largely negative, and view Americans negatively as well. On average across all countries, 58% of people - and 16 out of 21 countries polled - said they believed Mr Bush's re-election to the White House made the world more dangerous."

If only 59 million Americans thought like the rest of the world. Sigh...

The Adventures of Condi Rice

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Eye Rack Springs

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Channel Seven’s new Station ID’s are, to be polite, absolutely disgusting. How disgusting you ask? Just imagine a balding, hairy man having sex with a midget dressed up as a television set. Ok, well the sex with TV is only implied, but when dealing with people having intercourse with inanimate objects, well the implication is enough to send your dinner heaving out of your stomach.

First, for the uninitiated, Station IDs are used by television channels to give each network an identity. In Australia Channel Nine usually has its on air celebrities dancing about like fools to last summers party anthem (it took the mainstream a whole year to catch up), or their simple fly through the Nine logo in different funky colours. Or take Channel Ten’s button-pressing madness. Even hark back to the ABC’s black and white landmark as various people tried and always failed to trace the ABC logo with their finger. Or dare I mention the greatest five minutes in television ever crafted as a little girl rode about the world on her tricycle, informing us that indeed our world is an amazing place (thank you, SBS). Yes, Station IDs define the network perfectly.

It’s no secret Seven has had a pretty dismal run since losing the AFL broadcast rights, with the past two years being particularly bad. And with each New Year the Seven publicists tell us this year is their year. After a spate of horrible Christmas Station IDs (Seven “celebrities” (like that irritating twerp from Deal or No Deal) butchering Christmas songs) we came to their new motto: GOTTALOVEIT. These Station IDs feature several people cavorting with a dwarf dressed as a television with the Seven logo on it. It’s meant to get people excited about Seven’s coming attractions but it repulses me every single time I see it.

The worst offender features said balding hairy guy in a series of vignettes while on, um, a date with the, um, television set. They ride horses along the beach, passionately embrace as waves lap at their bodies, and seductively devour grapes by a fire. Then, after all this we are tormented by a shot of a bed passionately convulsing. Our imaginations wander… oh my freakin’ god, he’s fucking the telly! But alas, the camera pans up and they are only jumping on the bed amidst a pillow fight. But the implication is enough to send viewers away in droves. (Though not like that many people watch Seven in the first place). These Station IDs rank as Seven’s worst, and I haven’t even mentioned the one with the rabbits bonking. Seven is Still the One to mess things up. Seriously.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Top 10 worst films of 2004

Here is my list of the worst films that were released in Australia in 2004.

#1 Man on Fire
Director: Tony Scott (Could someone please stick dynamite up Tony Scott’s arse and blow him up)

Denzel Washington plays the ridiculously named Creasy, a bodyguard hired to protect an American girl living in Mexico. When she is kidnapped he goes on a violent rampage to get her back. A disgusting lack of morals and techniques only seen in TV commercials made this piece of trash the worst of 2004.

#2 Dawn of the Dead
Director: Needs to die.

All I need to say is that the first five minutes probably ranks as the most disgustingly offensive material I have ever seen. See the original (it had brains along with the gore) and forget this absolute trash. Easily one of the most offensive films I have ever had the displeasure to see.

#3 The Polar Express
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Fascist American propaganda disguised as a kids movie. Oh, and the computer animation is awful. This hilarious quote is taken from chud.com: "It takes a special man to make an animated film about the corpses of people getting on a train to take a disjointed and creepy ride to the North Pole, only to discover that Santa's Workshop is really a giant industrial complex airlifted in from the Eastern Bloc and the elves are enslaved Hebrews. That man is Satan."

#4 The Terminal
Director: Steven Spielberg

Yes, it's a lousy pun, but The Terminal really was terminal. Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, from a fictional European country. This country has just witnessed a coup and so Navorski’s passport becomes invalid. Which is a problem, since he has just arrived in America. He is told he must stay in the airport and ends up spending several months living in the airport. This is actually based on a true story, however the real thing isn’t at all cutesy and sentimental as portrayed in this horrible film. I’ve never really liked Spielberg (his best in my opinion is Duel) but really, this is so substandard had not a major name made this it would have certainly ended their career. Tom Hank’s accent is appalling.

#5 Cat in the Hat
Director: Bo Welch

I really don’t want to think about this, it was truly painful to watch.

#6 Gothika
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz

This film is Swiss cheese: it is filled with holes. The plot is laughable, the acting worse. Somebody needs to tell Hollywood to stop making crappy films that think they’re smarter than they really are.

#7 Catwoman
Director: Pitof (How f**king pretentious!)

Utter catastrophe. All I need to say is that Berry plays a woman who is brought back from death by ally cats. And the. Editing was. Absolutely dire. Why can’t. A shot. Last longer. Than a. Few seconds? After Gothika and this I doubt Berry still has a career. What happened to that intelligent actress from Monster’s Ball?

#8 Taxi
Director: Didn’t want to waste my time looking it up.

Take an enjoyable French movie and remake it with American actors, steal all the best stunts and add a plot that makes fun of alcoholism. Fantastic! Thank you Hollywood.

#9 Haunted Mansion
Director: Who cares?

After this and Pluto Nash Eddie Murphy’s career is now officially over.

#10 New York Minute
Director: Couldn’t be bothered finding out.

I must confess I haven’t actually watched this, but it stars the Olson twins so it would be shit for sure.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Top 10 films that didn't come out in 2004

The worst list will have to wait until tomorrow. Today I present the best films I watched in 2004 but that were made earlier.

#1 Lilja 4-Ever (Lilya 4-Ever) [2002]
Director: Lukas Moodysson
After the excellent Together and now this masterpiece, Mr Moodysson is really making a name for himself. This heartbreaking film tells the story of sixteen-year-old Lilya, abandoned by her mother she is forced to live in a cold flat. In the search of a better life she takes up a job offer of a nice young man. Unfortunately he isn't as nice as he appears to be. This is a bleak, hard look at human trafficking, in particular the forced prostitution of young girls. While the film is extremely depressing it never tries to shock nor does it loose compassion for its characters. A must watch from an emerging Swedish talent.

#2 Y Tu Mamá También [2001]
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Two friends and an older woman set out on a road trip. At first I found the childish antics of the two teenagers off-putting, however by the end I was in tears. This is the greatest film ever made about youth and growing up. And the Mexican locations are just breathtaking.

#3 Baran [2001]
Director: Majid Majidi
A construction site in Iran employs illegal Afghan refugees, and a new worker, Rahmat, has just arrived. His father injured himself at the site and Rahmat is needed to support their large family. It's soon made clear that Rahmat can't handle heavy work, and is given Lateef's job - making the tea for the workers - and Lateef takes on the hard work. At first Lateef is resentful and acts out his anger towards Rahmat, until he discovers that Rahmat is actually a girl called Baran. Lateef is instantly smittin. This is a beautiful, understated film about young love.

#4 Rear Window [1954]
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Yes, I finally got around to watching one of Hitchcock's greatest films last year. The intriguing story, the interesting neighbours, the expansive set, the lovable Stella, the determined James Stewart and the ridiculously beautiful Grace Kelly. Pure movie heaven.

#5 Delbaran [2001]
Director: Abolfazl Jalili
If you don't believe films can have the power of poetry, then I implore you to watch this masterwork. Delbaran is a hypnotic journey of a community on the Iran/Afghanistan border through the eyes of a young Afghan refugee. Quite simply, it's a 96-minute poem.

#6 À la folie... pas du tout (He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not) [2002]
Director: Laetitia Colombani
At first it is a joyous romance, but halfway it takes a sinister turn. See Amélie's Audrey Tautou's as a character that is very un-Amélie. I loved it so much I watched it twice on the same day.

#7 Lost in Translation [2003]
Director: Sofia Coppola
Two lonely Americans stuck in the neon jungle of Tokyo find a connection. An American film that is understated and chock full of nuance, who would have imagined?

#8 Wa Dong Ren (The Rules of the Game) [2002]
Director: Ping Ho
An interconnecting murder/kidnap plot involving a host of characters. Extremely stylised with moments of drama and comedy, this Taiwanese film had me gripped.

#9 Adaptation [2002]
Director: Spike Jonze
From the team that made Being John Malkovich... need I say any more? I love Charlie Kaufman. And look, Nicolas Cage CAN act!

#10 Talaye Sorkh (Crimson Gold) [2003]
Director: Abbas Kiarostami

A bleak meditation on class in Iran. Kiarostami is one of the best directors around at the moment.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Top 10 films of 2004

Hope you had an enjoyable holiday period and welcomed in the New Year safely. Here are my favourite films of 2004. Please note that many were made in 2003 but were released in Australia in 2004. Tomorrow I’ll post the worst films of 2004.

#1 Vozvrashcheniye (The Return)
Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev
Two brothers are taken on a road trip from hell when their father, whom they've never known, returns home. An astonishing piece of cinema.

#2 21 Grams
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Mexican director Iñárritu's second feature-length film, after his masterpiece Amores Perros, is an emotional ride as we follow three characters that are connected to a car accident.

#3 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Director: Michel Gondry
French music video director extraordinaire Gondry has crafted a mind-bending film out of Charlie Kaufman's bizarre but human script. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet give terrific performances.

#4 Five Dedicated to Ozu (Five)
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
As one of Iran's greatest directors, Kiarostami has created an extremely poetic, meditative work of art. The premise is smiple: five sequences without plot (people walking along the beach, a piece of driftwood, a pond illuminated by the moon.) But the result is deeply profound.

#5 The Mother
Director: Roger Michell
The touching and absorbing depiction of an older woman beginning a relationship with a man considerably younger. Anne Reid is magnificent.

#6 House of Sand and Fog
Director: Vadim Perelman
Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley are terrific in this film about a woman evicted from her house, the new residents and their sad struggle.

#7 Monster
Director: Patty Jenkins
The true story of Aileen Wuornos, who was executed after killing six men. Charlize Theron puts in one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. Christina Ricci is also fantastic.

#8 My Life Without Me
Director: Isabel Coixet
A young woman told she hasn't got long to live writes a list of things to do before she goes. It sounds like fodder for an overly sentimental TV movie, but intelligent writing and beautiful performances made this film shine. See this before you die!

#9 Irreversible
Director: Gaspar Noé
A remarkable study of violence and our reactions to it after a woman is raped and her attacker is brutally murdered.

#10 Collateral
Director: Michael Mann

Engaging and stylish journey as hitman Tom Cruise takes hostage a cab driver for a night of murder. Pity the ending wasn't as good as the rest of the film.