Attention Grammar Police!

If you should find offenses to the English language in any of my articles please leave a comment and let me know so that I can obliterate it forever! Thanks!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

O'Sarracino - The Day My Taste Buds Stood Still

I found myself in a snazzy little restaurant the other night that I feel I need to shout to you all about – O’Sarracino on Mt Eden Road, Auckland.

In Star Trek one has to step onto a transporter to be teleported from one place to another; but on Eden Terrace to go to authentic Italy all one need do is step through the doors of this fine establishment!

The walls are decorated with the autographed serviettes of previous patrons, swearing their culinary pleasure and everlasting allegiance... one customer impressed enough to include her number! It seems the dance of the dinner plate left an impression on more than a few hearts before my own entered the building...

Our starters saw our party of five sharing the Antipasto del Saracino; a mixed platter of casatiello, Naples style vegetable and seafood. I hogged the seafood. I scoffed down the marinated baby octopus and tender squid like it was chocolate, it appears cephalopods have a similar affect on my brain’s endorphin reflex.

The waitresses kept a respectful distance while we picked at the entre plate; they must have known that by the time we were finished the finger trays, we would change our intended order. If they did, they were right. I had eaten enough of our 8 legged friends to go for the King Prawns and Snapper for my main. I was like a shark swimming in a cloud of delicious blood by the time my real meal landed on the table...

The King prawns on my rectangular platter like plate were as big as my feet and as thick as my big toe; but don’t let me lose you in the analogy, it was like eating royalty, and after one taste I threw myself into devouring the entire kingdom!

Some would think it a draw back that the Prawns came fully clothed, complete with vacant crispy eyes and insectoid legs, but I find there is something rewarding about tearing the limbs from the thing you are about to eat with a fork. I imagine its how a hunter must feel at the end of a long hunt as he eats his prey. I also enjoyed the challenge of stripping the super shrimps of their shells; it’s rather like having a Rubrics’ Cube to play with while you eat, the reward for success being truly delectable!

The snapper that kept the royal family company, bathed in cherry tomato sauce and speckled with capers and olive... mama mia... Normally fish makes the contents of my stomach panic and seek an emergency evacuation, but this snapper’s life was certainly not wasted on my taste buds, and I am greatful for the day it was yanked out of its natural habitat and gave up its life so that I could write about how good it was to eat!

Unfortunately I’m kicking myself for not remembering the name of the wine. If you could see me right now I really am kicking myself, I have bruises to prove it. But seriously it was like a sweet but welcome punch in the face. Upon splashing the tongue the appeal was charming as it kicks you with warmth and pleasant bitterness before filing itself away in the quiver of your liver. I loved it.

Desert - Passionfruit sorbet. Refreshing without that creamy mucusy “I’m about to burst” feeling ice-cream leaves you with after a humongous meal. If passion fruit seeds really did sprout in your stomach and lead to an early death by leaves in the veins – I still would have enjoyed it!

While we dined and forgot every meal we had ever eaten before that night, it was easy to notice that the building must have once upon a time been a church with arched doors to the manager’s office and lavatory, perhaps the food was blessed. I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if it were so!

I give this “ristorante” a 9 out of 10 for a stunning feast and another 9 for providing us with class while maintaining a family friendly atmosphere – we had our 7 week old daughter with us and the worst glance we received from the staff was a welcome smile as most of the waitresses had that “oh she’s so cute, I want one” glaze in their eyes!

I’m certainly eating there again... regrettably I’m not a cow and only have one stomach, so I’m emptying it now and preparing for next time....

To see the Menu for this yum factory visit their site

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Phantasm - A Review

In recent years I’ve gone off the Horror genre. On one hand it’s a spiritual thing, as a Christian I have a natural disposition against most horror films. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like a “Thou shalt not watch Horror movies” thing... its more like a feeling in my gut when something doesn’t feel quite correct. Movies like the Exorcist or Hell Raiser with their occult themes seem fun on the outside but vex my spirit as if there is something else in the room tormenting me while I watch. It’s hard to explain to someone who has never been exposed to the idea that in Christ you are a new creation but that’s it in a nut shell really.

On the other hand I’m sick of the same old recipe, especially in slasher movies, that goes like this:

*Young couple or group alone camping or baby sitting.

*Nudity or sex scene in the first 20 minutes to seduce male audience.

*Everyone gets massacred, especially the naked people, bar one survivor.

*Introduce next couple or group who are somehow smarter than the first group because they survive long enough to justify the next 70 minutes of fake blood and rubbish.

* Just as everyone thinks bad guy/thing is dead, bring him/it back for one more “fright”

* Leave massive opening for lame sequel with equally lame cast.

The truth is that the best and most terrifying horror flicks came out of the 70’s and 80’s when the monsters were so paper mache and terrifyingly fake that you had to rely on the actors actually acting to carry the scene; and if they failed at pulling it off, at least you could laugh at how bad it was. These days the proliferation of CGI, showing too much of the thing or whatever it is that’s supposed to be scary, using young hot teenage pin ups as the cast and the same old formula has ruined the franchise. So much so that now there is a disturbing trend in horror films to go well beyond the pale in films like Hostel or the remake of Halloween which incorporate gratuitous sexual escapades before (or sometimes during) the carnage; because nothing else seems to shock audiences anymore!

But having said that, I still enjoy various horror atrocities, especially Zombie flicks and have realized the more stupid a Horror movie is, the less evil.

And Phantasm was stupidly stupid.

Most of the actors were ugly, and given that modern day movie makers don’t understand the value of putting normal looking folk in their movies, this means a lot. By ugly I mean the main kid, Michael, reminded me of that kid from Malcolm in the Middle, except with lots of denim and a hair cut like the early Farra Fawcett’s. His older bro Jody feared no better with his boofy locks and finally, just for some balance, they run around with their bald chum, rockstar wanna be, Reggie who drives an ice cream truck for a living...

But before I complain about what an intellectual taunt this haunt was I suppose I should tell you what I think it was about. Jodie returns to his hometown for the funeral of a mutual friend of his and Reggies. We are introduced to the large white funeral home located on the cemetery where strange things are goin down. Namely the undertaker, a mysterious fellow simply known as The Tall Man, is stealing bodies from the grave yard and resurrecting them as bizarre midget minions. Michael seems to be the only one with any clue of fishiness until one night, during a scooby doo style investigation he is chased by a silver blade swinging ball through the long white corridors. Then in a desperate bid to escape he cuts off the fingers of The Tall Man after jamming them in the cellar door. He takes one of the fingers home to show his bro, where it mutates into a furry gremlin like thing, which he and Jody just barely manage to stuff down the insinkerator before it can do any damage. So now there’s nothing to it but to get some guns, go to the funeral home and take them all down. Makes a lot of sense.

Apart from bad cuts between scenes that leave you disoriented and wondering if maybe you missed something this film was more funny than scary. Especially considering the Tall Man’s slave army looked more like Jawas and seemed to suggest R2D2 was hiding round the corner, even more so when The Tall Man turns out to be an alien whose motive for being here doesn’t go much further than making a Jawa army from stiffs. Why not just let him take them, after all it is appointed unto man once to die... (Hebrews 9:27)

The story unfortunately breaks one of the golden rules of story telling, and that is never, under any circumstances, end a tale with “... and I woke up and discovered, it was all just a dream.” In fact I wondered if it was all just a dream myself after falling asleep several time over the three nights it took me to watch it on Youtube... and on that note, don’t try to watch it on You tube, there was a whole ten minutes of the film missing which didn’t seem to matter anyway because the editing was that dire, but then again who knows, maybe R2D2 did made his cameo in that ten minutes while the Tall Man explained that it was all because of a bad relationship with his mother that he started the whole grave robbing thing in the first place. Then they can all probably hug and live happily ever after in that other dimension where Jawas run free and bald men in ice cream trucks become rock stars. After such a nauseating and confusing beginning the movie could have gone almost anywhere so I wouldn’t be surprised.

So on a scale of 1 to 10, Total twaddle being 10, I would give this movie an 8 and for a quick way to end a sleepless night I would give it another 8, recommending that you view this before even considering a sleeping pill.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Little Miss Sunshine - A Review

On one hand this was a bright and refreshing movie. On the other, it was disturbing and had a cringe factor of 9.5 out of 10! If awkwardness had a liquid state then you would be soaking in it before the credits begin to roll... the annoying thing is, I can’t tell you why, not without spoiling the end for you entirely...

This is the movie that reminds most of us why we don’t entertain family gatherings all too often. It is the story of a dysfunctional, dissatisfied, distracted group of self absorbed individuals who are all unfortunately related. Greg Kinnear plays the Dad, a loser who just can’t admit it. In fact he is so big a loser that he has over compensated by developing a 9 step program to be a winner in life. He’s like Tony Robbins only he’s nothing like Tony Robbins at all. He spends half the movie hanging on the hinge of a book deal that never eventuates. Then there’s Tony Collette’s character, the mother, who is just trying to keep it together, doesn’t believe much in the 9 steps, unless by 9 steps you mean the procedures for serving take aways for dinner every night. Their son Dwayne, played by Paul Dano, is a Fredrich Nietzsche obsessed teenager who has taken a vow of silence until he fulfils his dream of becoming a pilot, Grand dad, Alan Arkin, who takes drugs because “At your age you’re crazy to take that (beep) but at my age you’re crazy not to!” Steve Carell lands on the scene as the uncle fresh out of the psychiatric ward for trying to kill himself and amidst this familial anarchy of people with the same blood boiling with hatred for one another there is Olive, performed by Abigail Breslin, a wonderful oddly shaped little ray of sunshine in the darkness abounding around her. She has a tummy shaped like a speed bump and glasses thick enough, and big enough, to build a fish tank out of.

As the family sit down to dinner on a Friday night, and remind each other of their loathing for life and one another over a nourishing meal of fried chicken we discover that Olive has made it through to the finals of the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant. The only problem is its on Sunday and not wanting to break the heart of this strange-to-look-at little girl the whole family are dragged into a road trip down the highway to hell with each other’s company as the flames and various devices of torment.

The film makers go to great lengths to make this family as dysfunctional as possible but with the ray of light that Olive casts on the garden of her family, seeds of hope begin to sprout through the manure of their personal dreads. During their travels each person faces a crisis, whether big or small, and they somehow manage to overcome as a family. Someone even dies and they still manage to pack him up in the boot and stop at nothing to get to the beauty pageant because “It’s what he would have wanted.”

Once at the beauty pageant we see Olive against the other entries of “normal” girls from “normal” families and we are confronted by the abnormality of it all. I don’t know much about child pageants but after seeing this film and the other contestants, who resembled happy faced, white toothed genetic mishaps, I have concluded that it is something I will keep my own daughter well away from! What we may have thought of as a normal well adjusted family in the beginning of the movie is twisted into something horrifically worrisome compared to this sweet little girl whose greatest personal success in the story is discovering that Miss California still eats ice cream.

I’m reminded of the words Jesus spoke to the Pharisees that a “... house divided against itself can not stand” (Luke 11:17). And this house stands to fall, at least until they get over themselves and start working together to see Olive’s dream come true. It’s an interesting parable of how in any group as long as the individual’s are just out for themselves and behave selfishly then that group can not function properly or civilly; but as soon as they zip up their selfish genes peace descends upon the family like a tidal wave of functionality and bliss.

Regrettably this is a hard movie to write about in the sense that if I even hint at what happens at the end then the whole house of cards will succumb to a catastrophe of blow torch proportions, but I can say this... in my years of experience sitting on my butt with my eyes wide open and my brain more or less switched off, I have come to learn that it is the end of a film that will either make it or destroy it, and this little gem has an ending that is unparalleled in a long history of endings – that let me tell you. It qualifies the entire movie and though disconcerting it redeems the entire family along with the 98 minutes of couch hugging you will need to endure it.

The language is not for the faint eared among you, the “F” word abounds and the initial hatred that spills from the families discontent lips can be depressing. There is also some moral ambiguity relating to themes of sexuality and who exactly goes to Heaven when they die, but if you can ignore all that then you’re in for a good ride...

I give this film an 8 out of 10 for offering something fresh to modern cinema!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mad Money - A Review

The last Diane Keaton movie I saw was The Woman. It was like having my teeth pulled without an anaesthetic and by a butcher instead of a dentist. As I found myself settling down for an evening in front of the cable movie network with the in-laws to watch this film I was holding onto my teeth. But thankfully I was able to let go of them and eat my fish and chips without fear of the third worst thing after child birth – a bad chick flick.

This was far from it. A good script despite the excruciating cast. Actually Katie Holmes isn’t so bad, I’ve liked every film I’ve ever seen her in from Go to Pieces of April... its just the stigma of Dawson pulling one arm and Tom pulling the other throughout her career that makes me instantly go “Oh no, not Katie Holms...” But I mustn’t tar her before I feather her. I was after all devastated that she was replaced in Bat Man Dark Knight by that Gyllenhaal girl... Then there’s Queen Latifa... for a moment there I thought of her as the Woopie Goldberg for the Next Generation but she’s not bad either. Ted Dansen appears to have gone a bit Steve Martinish in this piece but he suited his role. Finally the only bad thing about Dian Keaton I could think of while I played with my wife’s hair (thus securing my place on the couch) was “Is she Michael Keaton’s wife?” – to which the answer was “No.”

This was not a film that made it to the New Zealand cinemas, or if it did it slipped silently past me as I slept in the projection booth. It left me wondering why head aches like Fast and the Furious 4, Stomp the Yard or Epic Movie make it to the masses while a well written film like this gets a slot on Sky Television where only those who can afford the movie package can afford to see it. Its either a conspiracy to dumb down the masses with movies written for teenagers or its the marketing people who sit in their sunny air conditioned offices, who haven’t got a clue what movie goers really want to see, who decide that people are too dumb to enjoy a good plot in this day and age... which is stupid because most of us have adapted to advanced technologies like ipods and Transformer toys... oh wait, most of those don’t even transform anymore... so I guess they really do think we’re stupid...

Anyway... Dianne K lady plays Bridget, a Wife who finds herself looking for a job after her husband is downsized. After searching and failing she finally goes to the only place she can, all the way down to a cleaning position in the Federal Reserve Bank. She gets to wear big green rubber gloves and touch gross things. But worse is the amount of cash she witnesses on a daily bases being chewed up and trashed in a system so air tight that no one has ever dreamed of rescuing the innocent cash from its untimely demise of mulching. That is until Bridget master minds a brilliant scheme to get the cash safely to her home and hidden in her underwear draw, among other places. All she needs is a lock from a hardware store and to enlist a ditzy head phone wearing girl, Katie, and a tough single mom who would do anything for her kids – Latifa the Queen of whatever, you go girlfriend... The women succeed in smuggling over $30,000 worth of doomed cash without the slightest possibility of being caught, and just when the wisest among us would quit such a scheme Diane AKA Bridget becomes a Mad Woman intent on dragging her friends, her husband, a Latifa smitten Security Guard and the ditzy girls ditzier boyfriend further into fake millionaire-hood . Things are going great until they start spending their unexplained income and before you know it the Banking Police are after them and the film hurtles toward the twisted end where it began in the first place.

I will admit that although this was a comedy I found myself laughing at all the bits I wasn’t supposed to. The funniest being when she hid rolls of cash in her grundy draw and I said, “Ew gross, I could never do that, not after so many people have handled them...” To which my witty brother in law said, “What, your underwear?” So I guess you could say it was an interactive film. But the thing that got me more than the jokes I didn’t laugh at was the fact it was a clever tale... so clever infact that I forgot it was a feminist Girls can do Anything flick, which includes robbing a bank and shopping in a hardware store for plumbing supplies, which I had to remind myself was TV magic at its best. But apart from that I don't think a man could drown in even an inch of the themes this movie preached...

So out of 10, I give this film a 5 for entertainment...

But an 8 out of ten for allowing me to hold down my greasy dinner.

Friday, July 24, 2009

This Week in 2009...

Time for my weekly update on stuff and nonsense... and oh darn it its nearly 3 a.m!

I’ll make this quick...

This week I seriously stuffed up at work. It was horrible. I cost the company mega dollars worth of complimentary passes all because I left a teeny weenie little button pushed in on one of the projectors. I’ll spare you the details, but it meant over 160 people missed out on Harry Potter last Sunday night. I’ve been sweating over it since because it was such a stupid thing to do, but I guess I had been up until 4 in the a.m. the previous morning juggling a grizzle guts known as my baby girl who has been playing a game of “Hey mom and dad, I know you’re tired but I’m bored and haven’t learnt how to entertain myself yet so you’re going to have to do it....” and “Sleep? What’s sleep?”

This went on for nearly two weeks. You get to that point where your dream world begins to merge with your reality, where you’re so tired you wish you were the one wearing the nappies!

At last, after receiving three stabbingly awful vaccinations she seems to be sleeping soundly throughout most of the night now, so here I am at 2.20 a.m. writing this rubbish... Vaccinations are horrible things. Its bad enough knowing you’re allowing a total stranger to stab your flesh and blood in the leg with vials containing the actual disease you’re trying to prevent but the cries of pain, bewilderment and share terror coming from your bundle of otherwise joy is gut wrenching, and by gut wrenching I mean having an adjustable spanner thrust into your intestines and twisted around eleven times. Harder when you’re a dad with no food dispensers attached and the only thing you’re good for is bringing up a few burps...

So apart from putting my livelihood on the line and torturing my child the next most interesting thing that happened to me this week was something that didn’t happen to me at all, but rather to my dog who tragically lost his house when a gust of wind picked up his kennel in the middle of the night and sent it who knows where! I’ve looked all over our yard and it is seriously totally gone. I have images of it soaring down the road and sideswiping a cyclist as it went or saying hello to a pedestrian with a sudden thump to the head. So if you find in your tree a light brownish dome that sort of looks like a tent for an Umpa Lumpa, just pop me an email and I’ll come get it, not that my dog really cares, he hated the thing anyway.

So in weeks like these you find yourself needing a good laugh and I got just what I needed when my brother in law sent me this. You can always count on an Aussie to point out the obvious. Let’s hope some of our terrorist foes don’t take this ad too seriously because if they did they would discover that most of it is true...

Finally if you’re still trying to figure out who or what I am exactly then welcome to my world! But thanks to all who have visited my site in recent weeks! This is basically an archive for my thoughts that no longer fit inside my head. You will have noticed that I express some pretty solid Christian views in most of my articles, that’s because I am a Christian with a biblical viewpoint and well, you know what they say, stick to what you know!

Mostly this site is going to be film reviews because I’m a projectionist and on average see about 2 films a week... the only way I can justify such a meaningless pass time is by writing about it. At least then I can pretend I’m getting something out of it... oh yeah, apart from the fact I’m paid to do it...

If you like this stuff then by all means tell all your friends about this place or about my facebook which has more than enough room for a few more friends. That’s where I put my updates if you’re interested...

And now I’m really starting to nod off....

So before I go here is a link to something really stupid. I was doing one of those egotistical manoeuvres when you type your own name into google and I found my review for Transformers 2 on someone else’s blog site! Only they had totally changed the words around so much that I couldn’t understand myself more than usual. In fact if you’re like me and have never tripped on anything stronger than nicotine gum then try reading this, I imagine this is what the hard stuff feels like...

Hopelessly ripped off Transformers review!

Does anyone have any questions?


UP - A Review

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” - Ecclesiastes 9:10

In Toy Story Pixar taught us that when our backs are turned every toy comes to life. Every kid wants this to be true! I remember many times as a 10 year old quickly turning around to see if I could catch my GI Joes in the act of acting! In Cars, Pixar succeeded in making me, a guy unusual among men in his total lack of enthusiasm for the automobile, actually enjoy 90 mins of talking vehicles (even though it drove me nuts that they had no opposing digits, therefore I couldn’t figure out how they ever managed to build any of the towns they lived in, let alone the roads!) In The Incredibles we got a dose of reality; that if there really were super heroes then no one would appreciate them and also the idea that most heroes are just normal people who approve Insurance Claims for lovely old ladies. Then there was Wall-E, an enormously beautiful film which succeeded to turn a rusty Johnny Five like tin can into something honestly embraceable before you realized that no one had said much of anything during the first two thirds of the movie, it was a visual breakfast lunch and tea of delights...

...I’m just pulling a few random titles from the top of my head, forgetting to mention A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo, Toy Story Two and the list goes on! To date Pixar hasn’t failed to impress me with animations that I can only describe as family friendly, mostly inoffensive and pleasantly free of Hippie Green tones in their colourful (and unambiguous) morality behind every feature. In fact the only film of theirs I didn’t enjoy was Finding Nemo, and that was because it had Australians in it (just kidding), it was just a little boring and once I got severely car sick after eating fish and chips when I was a kid so anything with fish in it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Anyway, I’m rambling a bit too much here, but within reason. I want to stand with the Fiddler on the Roof and dance to a tune of “I love this movie!” Seriously. My experience with most Pixar films takes me back to when I was a teenager and I would be in a Mall, or School or the beach and I would see a pretty girl and then I couldn’t think of much else until a week later when I “fell in love” all over again with someone completely different. Without the hormonal overtones, that’s almost how I feel about Pixar Movies. Last year I would have told you that Wall-E was the most beautiful movie of its kind that I had ever seen, but after seeing Up my reaction has become “Wall-E who?”

Up is the story of Karl Fredrichson, at first a shy young boy who dreams of following in the footsteps of his Hero – the famous explorer Charles Muntz. Childhood games of make believe lead Karl to an abandoned and dilapidated building which has become the “club house” of Elle, an eccentric girl who loves to explore every bit as much as he does, and she talks a lot more than he does to. After the children’s instant attachment comes a montage of the next 60 or so years as they grow up, get married, buy the “club house” and spend the rest of their lives dreaming of the day they can just take off to Paradise Falls in South America (its just like America, only its South) but as the penny jar fills to fund their trip life throws its mishaps their way and their adventure moves further and further away from becoming a reality until Mr Fredrichson becomes a lonely old widower in a house that the rest of the world wishes wasn’t there. Evil developers have turned the surrounding neighbourhood into concrete and steel and in an effort to save his letter box Karl fends off a construction worker with his walking stick, drawing blood, leading to a court order for Mr Fredrichson to move into a retirement village. ..

Even though it sounds soapy so far I still managed to shed a tear or two, but my mate who was with me was as bored as a kid riding to Disney Land on the back of a snail. But then the magic happens. As the Rest home workers come to drag him away he releases hundreds of Helium filled balloons which lift his house from its foundations and carry him on the journey he’s longed for his whole life. But there’s a catch. Russel, a young Wilderness Explorer seeking his “assisting the elderly” badge, has hitched a ride on Mr Fredrichson’s balcony and the unlikely pair find themselves in an imaginative adventure that goes beyond what most of us dream after cheese and chocolate before going to sleep at night.

Karl lands his home on top of a canyon on the wrong side of paradise falls and makes it his mission to drag the floating home to the correct side even if it kills him. Along the way Karl and Russel meet a giant bird, a ton of talking dogs, the not so decrepit Charles Muntz and a whole lot of trouble!

I don’t want to spoil it. I only spoil the movies I don’t like, but important to this story is the back plot of Charles Muntz younger self leaving the civilized world in his Zepplin to capture the giant bird of Paradise falls, after scientists discredited his find of the birds remains he swears to never return until he has captured one alive...

The themes are just superb. This movie is about not taking your life for granted. We have two old guys at opposite extremes but both in danger of losing the same thing – the appreciation of what an adventure their lives have already been. Karl’s whole life flitters past him while he dreams of going south and he finds himself full of regret for not having adventured much past his own neighbourhood but he forgot the wonderful life and adventure he had with Elle before she passed away. On the other hand Muntz wastes his entire life pursuing a fantasy, a bird, never again to enjoy the company of people or the pleasantly mundane. In a memorable moment between Fredrichson and Russel the boy tells of a time long ago when he and his dad would sit on the curb eating ice-cream counting red and blue cars as they drive past. “I loved that curb,” he says, “I know it sounds boring, but I think the boring things are the things you remember the most.” Therein is the gentle reminder to all ages in the audience, make every minute count!

There is also the obvious theme of the way we treat our elderly. When the orderlies come to take Fredrichson away he tricks them by saying he wants to go inside to say one last good bye to his life long home. As soon as the door shuts one orderly says to the other “I bet he’s going to the bathroom for the 80th time today.” We see the absurdity of how our society condescends the aged, overlooking their lifetime of experience and relegating them to the status of children while juxtaposing this attitude with Russel, a real child, forced to accept the adult world of a Dad who is too busy for him and who lives with a woman who isn’t the boys mother, a boy who has worked tirelessly to get every Wilderness Explorer badge for the applause of an invisible father...

So in lieu of taking life for granted, old men who get demoted and children who have to grow up way too quickly I would like to share this story that I found on Wikipedia when I was looking up stuff on this film...

This June there was a 10 year old girl in Huntington Beach, California who was suffering from terminal vascular cancer. It seems her dying wish was to be able to see this movie but it was unlikely she would live long enough to see its release. Thanks to a family friend making a few calls, Pixar made a special effort to give her a DVD copy of the film which she watched with her mother. In truth she couldn’t see much of the film so her mom described it to her scene by scene. It’s reported the young girl died seven hours after...

So for practicing what they preached in this film, not taking life for granted, I give Pixar a 10 out of 10 for this effort.

And for entertainment a capital 8 because I never give out 10s!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Does Christianity Contribute to the Destruction of the Earth?

Although I keep telling myself that blogging is just something I do when I am bored I do find myself frequently checking my stats to see if I’ve had any visitors. A normal person would do this once a day but I’m not exactly normal and find that not checking my email for more than 2 hours at a time is tantamount to not using the bathroom, I start hopping about on one foot with crossed legs until I get the fix of having read an email or a comment from someone...

Well, I finally got my wish...

This one chap wrote to me several days ago and asked the following question:

I'm interested in your view on Christianity's role within the Western capitalist system. As the major religion in the most wasteful society the world has ever known, surely Christianity is playing a role in the destruction of the earth, God's wondrous creation, through its endorsement of this way of life?

I wrote back saying I would chew on it a while and as I chewed I realized quickly that I was biting down on something very unfamiliar, tasty and interesting but even so, I had no idea what I was eating! After all, I’m just a guy who watches movies for a living, who has failed University twice and only barely scraped through my last year of High School with a passing grade because I was trying to impress a girl!

Nevertheless, I will try to offer a few thoughts even though I’m concerned I might be a bit stretched to reach the right answer. It is my hope that some of my Christian counterparts reading this may be able to throw in a few comments of their own after reading? Hint hint!

I don’t really understand Capitalism beyond the fact that I live in a Western Culture where they say we are capitalists! In the Capitalist system, according to Wikipedia, “...most trade, industry and the means of production (capital) is privately controlled and operated for a profit[1][2][3] The means of production (also known as capital), are owned, operated, and traded for the purpose of generating profits for private owners”... I won’t swim deeper than that for fear of drowning! In any case I already see a problem as far as Christianity is concerned – there is too much room in this particular system for those individuals who control these enterprises for greed and corruption! However the system emerged, I imagine, in the Christian west, particularly in America in its early days when Sunday School was still the “in” thing, your average Joe knew the Ten Commandments and Amazing Grace was still charting in the top ten. I’m wondering if in a true Christian Society Capitalism would work because if the individuals running the show were true Christ Centered individuals then they would also remember Christ’s words – “Whatever you have done for one of the least of these, my brethren, you did for me...” (Matt 25 v 40) so the sense of social responsibility would overcome a tendency towards corruption... however this has not been the case because no matter how “Christian” someone is they are still human beings with crooked hearts.

I’m interested that my reader has suggested that Christianity has endorsed this way of life. I feel that I need to make a distinction here. Christians may have endorsed this system throughout its history but as far as Christianity itself is concerned it ain’t necessarily so!

First of all Christianity is NOT a religion and in case you thought I said it wasn’t a religion you were right – it isn’t. A faith? Yes. A system? Yes. A religion? No. Absolutely not. It is so fundamentally not a religion that it goes with the old saying of the Devil – the greatest thing he ever did was convince the world that he does not exist... the second greatest was fool the world into mistaking God’s plan of redemption as a “Major World Religion”.

There are books on this subject but in a nut shell Christianity is not a religion because it is the only belief system that says emphatically that Humans can not reach God, Utopia, Heaven or Paradise by themselves, that it took God himself coming down to Earth as a man to suffer on the cross and pay for our sins. Secondly it is the only so called “path” where its founder came back from the dead and said – “I told you so!” Religion is man attempting to reach God by being good and obeying man made rules. Christianity is actually reaching God by accepting we can not do so without Christ’s Sacrifice on the cross.

However through some church traditions and nominal believers we have many Christians who are very religious! I’m wary of those guys. At any point, if a person in the church or if an entire denomination starts proclaiming you have to wear a suit, or that jeans are bad, you must tithe ten percent, cut your hair, wash your face, clean behind your ears, have ten kids or whatever to be a Christian they are gravely mistaken and they have blocked the main artery to the heart of Christianity and that is the person of Jesus Christ.

Understanding that Real Biblical Christianity is wrapped up and intertwined with the Savior of the World, let’s have a look at what he did in his life time and see if he personally contributed to the destruction of God’s wonderful creation....

1. The Virgin birth – not being a direct descendant of Adam he did not come with the sinful or destructive nature which is common to the human race, ergo he was perfect. This would later be necessary for his being the perfect replacement for the human race when he became sin on the cross. Jesus added – he did not destroy.

2. His first real followers were tradies. He used normal people to do great things. He turned Peter, a simple smelly and passionate fisherman into a compassionate pillar of the Christian faith which has changed the lives of millions since those days. Jesus added – he did not destroy...

3. He had the power to turn five loaves and two fishes into enough food to feed more than five thousand people on two separate occasions. He did not use this power to make money for himself or his followers but gave it willingly and instructed his disciples to pass the remainder on to the poor. Jesus added – he did not destroy.

4. Christ’s sermon on the mount painted an incredible picture of the truth that it was not man’s actions that made him good or bad but it was his motives and the intents of his evil heart that made us inherently evil but concluded that if we obeyed his words it would be like standing on a rock, so no matter what life threw at you, one could still stand up. He points out that not listening to his words led to a foundationless life in quick sand – again Jesus added, he did not destroy.

5. Interestingly he exhorts his followers not to worry about their lives as God feeds his children the same way that he feeds his birds! He instructs his followers not to worry about tomorrow but to “seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you...” (Matt 6v33)... this does not sound like an endorsement for capitalism to me... interesting. Once more he added...

6. Jesus Christ controlled the elements when he calmed the storm on the lake causing his disciples to ask “What kind of man is this?” I will venture to say he is the sort of man who can and will control climate change! Jesus added!

7. Jesus heals the sick. He did not ask for their health insurance details. He did not force them into quarantine. He did not vaccinate, euthanize or amputate. He did not care if it was paralysis or leprosy or a shriveled hand or whatever, He did not ask them to full out forms – he healed them. An interesting point here is that in so doing he enabled potentially thousands of people to go on and live normal healthy lives. Think of the implication – those people went on to have children that otherwise might not have existed were they left to die from their ailments! Those children went on to have families of their own, those families built whole communities which throughout the centuries equated to millions of people who would not exist today had Christ not shown compassion to their ancestors. Jesus added.

8. He raised the dead.

9. He revealed much about the afterlife that was never previously understood.

10. He drove out demons, reveling much about the supernatural that was not previously understood!

11. He taught his disciples that to be great, to truly be the best, you must be a servant (doesn’t sound very capitalist to me...)

12. He condemned divorce and child abuse!

13. He prophesied the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, with the greatest detail, while simultaneously saying there would be a temple in the last days (go to youtube and type in third temple, its trippy.) In fact he revealed much about the “end of the age” which is becoming more apparent today, especially that in the last days many would turn away from the faith. (Matt 24)

14. Here’s a man with the power and Heavenly authority to call down twelve legions of angels and yet he let the mob arrest him and take him to a kangaroo court which led to his crucifixion. He gave himself up willingly – for us!

15. He came back from the dead.

And as the apostle John wrote, he did so many things that were they written down there would be no room for all the books that were written. (Paraphrased from John 21v25)

I write the above points to illustrate that although Christians make mistakes or find themselves supporting a corrupt economic system or government or whatever – the point is Jesus was none of these things. He was not a politician or a revolutionary. He was not an economist. He was not a capitalist or a communist – He was concerned only with the redemption of the Human race and eventually of God’s wonderful creation itself.

This is a key point. The Bible promises a time when The Messiah will return to this earth and rain for a thousand years. Then and only then will we have a perfect society because “He will send out his angels and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil”. So before you judge Christianity for the destruction of the earth please go back and reflect on Isaiah 11 vs 6 when:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling [a] together;
and a little child will lead them.

In other words, things are going to be pretty sweet. The way they were always meant to be.

The West is no longer Christian. Prayer has been removed from Schools. The Bible is no longer sworn on exclusively in courts. People laugh at the notion of God creating the earth in six days or deny the historical fact of Christ’s life death and resurrection. I don’t think we can really say that Christianity is to blame for today’s current state of affairs, politically or economically, individual Christians perhaps, but not Christ’s Christianity.

... but if you must then let me remind you of a bumper sticker I once saw and found myself chuckling at – it read “Jesus, save us from your followers”. I laughed because it was kind of true. The church is full of many many crazy nut cases, but for every one of them I could show you a person in a salvation army suit feeding homeless people, or a nurse in some African country who has given up her life and friends to serve others, or a Doctor who treats cataracts in Fiji – for free, or a Christian who gives money to his church each week so that that church can feed a poor family for another week, or a guy who used to be a member of the Klu Klux Klan but is now a preacher in a mostly black church, or a guy like me who suffered from clinical depression for six years before making a decision to serve Christ and has never sunk so low since... point is that many of us are born into societies that support an economic or political system that may or may not be the right one, but all of us are called not to be revolutionaries but rather to serve Christ as best as we can within that system – because at the end of my 2,356 word essay it all comes down to Christ. He is the rock that will “crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2 v 44,45)

Jesus is the one who can answer this question far better than I ever could – just by looking at his life and understanding that true Christ Centered Christianity has nothing to do with the religious attitudes or ideas of a bunch of people who call themselves Christians.

I have a great sense of concern regarding my lack of adequacy in answering this question, but I hope I was able to cast some light on even the smallest part of the question mark! I fear that I am much too stupidly oriented to discuss things like economics, politics and other advanced social concerns but I can promise you this, and a man smart enough to write such a question in the first place can find for himself, that the Bible is a complex book which details God’s plan for the redemption and restoration of all things, it is the Capital letter at the start of the answer and the full stop when all is said and done.

Finally for no reason other than its 4:30 in the morning and I happen to like this artist very much here is yet another Christian who I believe contributes a great deal to the renewal of this Earth through his music - thanks Shane!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Store Wars

Just for a bit of fun, and seeing as there was no reason to get up from my couch to do anything else at the time, I decided to do a search for Star Wars parodies on Youtube... you know, as you don't...

I came across this little Gem of a take-off which explores the star wars universe through the lens of a grocery store, in which Luke is a Cucumber, Yoda a pot of Yogurt and I couldn't quite figure out what Obi Wan Kanobi was meant to be...

Cleverly woven into the 5 minute mayhem is the obvious message of going organic... but don't let that stop you from enjoying this clever little film...


Stay tuned for more of my favourite Star Wars Parodies in the days to come...

Why do film makers have to pervert kids movies with swearing, sex and too much violence?

Well, the truth is they don’t have to. The problem is that such films are being made by people who either have no foundation to base their sense of morality on or by those who deliberately want to undermine the hold that Christianity has had on the West for centuries! (See my review on The Golden Compass).

The swearing, Sex and violence is one thing but worse are the subtle attacks on our children’s minds which come in the shape of small phrases supporting evolution, adult jokes of a sexually implicit nature that fly over the child’s head only to nestle itself somewhere at the back of their subconscious, misquoted bible verses that are twisted into humorous anecdotes, references against traditional norms are A.O.K and ideas about God or life after death that exclude Jesus Christ and suggest that God is an Oprah Winfreyesque push over who will cave in the end and let everyone into his perfect Heaven.

We don’t notice these so much because we have been duped by them ourselves. We get so caught up by the big things that are blatant and obvious but we happily soak up the poison that courses threw the veins of the modern arts – worldly anti-biblical thinking.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the writers, producers and what-nots who make these movies are just people either trying to make a quick buck or just want to entertain. Their not necessarily sitting there rubbing their greedy little hands together and saying “I’m going to brainwash the world, Mmmmmmwaaahahahahaha” – that in itself would make a great movie! But they are people none the less, and where there are people there is sin and where there are people in the industry who have never even touched a Bible, there is trouble.

The solution I believe is not to boycott the entire industry. However as a parent you do need to be able to discern what your child should and shouldn’t be watching. I think though a much stronger stance would be for parents to modal a good sound biblical knowledge at home, with the ability to sit down with their child after their viewing is done and discuss the themes and ideas in juxtaposition to the Bible. This would make your child ten times better biblically nourished than most grown ups today!

We could sit here and blame those big shot Hollywood types all we want, but at the end of the day the person who pollutes your babies mind more than anyone else is you if you can’t and don’t provide them with a love for scripture! We’re just as guilty as the “sinners” if we are prepared to leave their spiritual feeding time to once a week in a Sunday school class. Imagine what would happen to your body if your only meal was 2 hours on a Sunday. The human spirit is no different.

The second thing the Church as a whole should wake up to is the industry itself has a vacuum where the world needs Christians to step into. We send missionaries to Fiji, to India or deep into the jungle to preach the good old Good News but why aren’t we sending them into the film studios, the recording studios or the art galleries? We are in a sense when we produce Christian Rock for Radio Rhema and the occasional Jesus Movie that gets played on Good Friday on the old people’s channel but what about real Hollywood where Satan has his seat – we should go sit there ourselves and see how much damage we can do!

Few film Makers Like Australian Director Angus Benfield, Steven Baldwin, Mel Gibson (no outcries please) are out there on the front lines producing material that will subtly influence the world for Christ while Christ inside them influences the actors and industry people respectively. The world needs us to support these Christians who are doing for the kingdom an extremely difficult service by putting themselves on what is largely enemy territory. We should be buying their movies, we should be forwarding their websites to our friends and Pastors, if we are lucky enough to know them we should be encouraging them and propping them up against the myriad of temptations they face in a world ridden with drug abuse and facial tampering!

When we financially support films made by genuine Christians the marketers who control what scripts get a green light will start supporting better films full of the fibre morals are made of!

Finally if you are creative yourself I urge you to pray and study the word profusely so that it will naturally inject itself into your work. Get into the industry, start connect groups with like minded Christians so you are accountable, get your church backing you up with prayer and moral support.

This is a legitimate mission field so lets pick up our bible guns and boldly march onto it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Casting out Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

This is a tricky one to approach without raising a few eyebrows. No pun intended. I understand that many Christians have mixed feelings about this icon of the occult and fair enough, it is about witches and wizards after all. I have heard over the years a great deal said about J.K. Rowling and her motives for writing this story that makes the occult look cool - usually along the lines of “...the spells cast in the series are actual spells used by real witches” and that “the names of spiritual entities are the names of real demons...” I have to say already I am a little suspicious of any Christian who would claim to know anything about the actual names of individual demons or the actual incantations of magic spells – they would have to be reading material that goes far beyond your average Christian bookshelf.

So I’ve heard a lot of rumours that she wrote the series intentionally to undermine Christianity but if you visit her website she says nothing of her beliefs and a cursory glance at wikipedea suggests that she is a Christian who struggles with her personal beliefs. She said in an interview “I believe in God, not magic” and attends the Church of Scotland. But ok, so what, obviously going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to Starbucks turns you into a puddle of coffee.

My hunch though, and I think this is safe to assume, is that she sat down one day, started writing and Harry Potter is what came out and because of the occultic connotations of her chosen subject matter she has copped a great deal of flack for it. But rather than feverishly attacking her we should be praying for her, that now as she plans her next novel maybe she will be inspired to write about something else!

So before I get into the spiritual stuff lets talk about what the film is actually about. This is the sixth instalment of the Harry Potter series, based on the book obviously. However you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise because director David Yates has chopped it up into lots of little bits and put them together out of order, while throwing other bits away entirely!

Harry finds himself returning yet again to a very security conscious Hogwarts now that Voldemort has come back from the dead threw diabolical means. In order to meet his destiny and defeat his nasty foe Harry must walk the various memories of other Wizards, including Dumbledore’s, for clues. The new Potions teacher, Professor Slughorn’s memory has been tampered with and Harry must befriend this odd little man and win his trust in order to retrieve the real memory lurking inside his brain. Meanwhile Draco Malfoy has been given a task which involves assassinating Dumbledore and fiddling about with a magic cupboard which can transport the baddies into Hogwarts despite the rigorous security keeping them out. With a bit of luck Harry manages to retrieve the memory and learns that the young Voldemort had used Slughorn to obtain information on how to make a Horcrux, an object which contains a piece of ones soul for future use should that person die.

Already it sounds a bit dodgy. Chuck into the mix that all the characters, now past 16 have discovered a clever little thing called snogging. So there are love triangles tingling away throughout the entire movie, and it becomes a bit nauseating! In this respect the movie isn’t as subtle as the book. Another great flaw in the adaptation from book to film.

As a Christian I can’t really condone Harry Potter or sing its praises too loudly. It is after all my job to watch these movies so I have not supported the franchise financially and feel strong enough in my faith not to allow the content to do me any spiritual (or mental) harm. However I must say that if you, in any way, feel in your conscience that it is not right to watch any movie that features such things as witches and wizards then please do your conscience the honour of listening to it! I do not want my freedom to lead a brother or sister down the slippery slope of sin, so for your own sake stare clear of this movie if you think it will make you stumble. (Please refer to Romans 14 to further appreciate my position on this)

Just a few points with my imaginary pen before I press “save”... when thinking of this film review a few things struck me which I think are worth jotting down...

The eye is the devils domain. We learn this right at the beginning when the “women saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye she took some and ate it.” (Genesis 3:6) Therefore, I wouldn’t watch a raunchy flick because I know that it will likely lead me into sin. So if your right eye offends you, gouge it out and kick it down the street! A film that features witches and wizards is not going to entice me personally into seeing a clairvoyant or to hop naked around a pentagram, not in a million years. But, the sad truth is that I know of some nominal believers who get so worked up about their futures that, rather than trust in God’s promises, they will sneak a peak at what the gas giants of the heavens have to say about them in the astrology columns, or worse, they might go as far as consult a psycho... sorry, psychic... or secretly enjoy watching New Zealand’s Sensing Murder on the telly. If that’s you then stay well away from films like Harry Potter because they will just serve to entice what is already inherent in your flesh. ( And might I add, if you are that sort of Christian then get your act together and start taking the creator of the universe seriously when he says “Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” Isaiah 8:19)

The Devil is described as being more subtle than any other creature the Lord has made. He’s very clever. He’s been playing this game of stumbling believers for millennia... and I don’t think he’s getting rusty. It would be just like him to make a movie like Harry Potter and get Christians upset about it just enough so he can sneak something in through the back door, in movies like Shrek which promote transgenderism, Ice Age which supports evolution or Monsters vs Aliens which goes so far as to use the name of Christ as an innocent swear word in the first five minutes of the film! We let our kids watch them because they’re cute, but the truth is we are either so biblically illiterate or simply too lazy to see the majority of movies for the Devil’s pulpit they really are! (Please see my article on The Golden Compass and Ice Age 3 for more details)

What a fantastic opportunity movies provide us with to enhance our children’s understanding of scripture! How many parents sit through a film with their child and then at the end pull out the Bible for a juxtapositional Bible Study about the movies themes and ideas and how they measure up against scripture? That way you can turn a movie into a sort of mnemonic! Over time your child will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, having developed a critical mind and a discerning spirit.

We seem to set a dangerous double standard if we are prepared to slam a series like Harry Potter and yet wait in eager anticipation for the sequel for Twilight, which is about vampires no less, or can’t get the last episode of Brothers and Sisters out of our heads. To me this is an example of trying to keep the law and yet breaking it in one small area and therefore are guilty of breaking the whole thing!

So the question is will I be taking my child to see Harry Potter? No, because she is only six weeks old. But even if she was 6 years old or even 12 I still wouldn’t take her. Not unless I knew she was mentally and spiritually mature enough to take the good and reject the bad.

But having said that, this particular instalment is NOT for kids. Its dark, quite violent and has a lot of creepy things lurking about in it. When Rowling wrote the series after all, she wrote it for an aging audience, meaning the 10 year olds who read the first book would be the 16 year olds reading the sixth. It seems to evolve from being Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Nightmare on Elm Street as the series goes on... very heavy and very dark.

So for spiritual content I would give this film a big loud zero.

For entertainment, possibly a six.

And for successfully adapting a book to screen, sorry David, you get a two.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hannah Montana - A Review

This was an interesting experience. My expectations for this movie were running down the highway of bad eggs until I saw it... and to my great surprise I found myself enjoying it. I was flying down the thoroughfare of family fun, 90 miles in the opposite direction...

Maybe it’s a bit scary that a thirty year old man can admit such a thing, but I actually really liked it. As did my 8 year old niece who I caught singing along with Hannah every time the superstar burst into song.

Although I had never seen the TV series and had no idea what I was getting myself into I didn’t miss out on anything, the plot was simple but fun. Miley Ray Cirus (the daughter of the man who brought you Achy Breaky Heart and that very memorable mullet, Billy Ray) plays a 16 year old girl, also called Miley, who like some kind of super hero leads a double life where only a handful of people know that once she dons a blond wig and a pair of stilettos she suddenly becomes Hannah Montana - pop sensation and every teenage girls vicarious dream.

Unfortunately for Miley her alter ego is starting to take over her personality and the lovely Country Bumpkin she used to be is becoming more a Hollywood Pumpkin, evident in a fisty cuffs with Tyra Banks over a pair of shoes and turning up to her best friends birthday dressed as Hannah only to steal all the attention of the occasion for herself.

Her Dad makes a tough decision and while Miley thinks she is on her way to a Music Awards in New York he has the plane land in Tennessee for a two week Hannah Montana Detox. Miley has to relearn the sacred ways of country life and falls in love with her grandma’s farm boy along the way. Things get complicated when in an attempt to raise money to save her home town from an evil Mall Development word gets out that Miley “knows” Hannah Montana and she is forced to wear the wig once again for a benefit concert, ultimately leading to a good old fashioned “two places at once” scenario when Hannah needs to attend a banquet in her honor while Miley is meant to be on a date with her doting cowboy.

Add to the mix an English Reporter going through the town like a drug inspecting dog trying to sniff up her secret of double identityness...

I took the liberty of interviewing my niece afterwards.

Me: What did you like best about the film?

Niece: When she rode horses, the way she dressed and I liked her hat.

Me: What did you like about the main character?

Niece: She was as good actor.

Me: I noticed you sang along to the songs during the movie?

Niece: I sing to them everyday, the disc, its good for someone my age!

Me: What else can you tell me about the film?

Niece: Well, it was fantastic, and I really liked how they done it and stuff.

Me: What was it about?

Niece: Well, um, it was about Hannah Montana, and about how she had to decide whether she wanted to be Hannah or Miley and stuff.

Me: How long was the movie?

Niece: Long, it was too long, but I had no idea it was going to be long.

(Not exactly verbatim)

My Mother, who saw it with us also enjoyed the dancing and singing and my wife who didn’t see it commented “My favourite part was when I didn’t see it and went somewhere else. My least favourite part was not understanding the plot.”

So, already you can see there was something in it for everyone. Including those who didn’t see it.

But seriously, it reminded me of what I look for in a movie. When I sit down in front of a screen to throw away the next two hours of my life I want to be transported somewhere else, I want to be entertained and I want to be emotionally involved with the characters. So it doesn’t matter what kind of movie it is, whether its this pre adolescent dream of fame, wigs and make-up or an episode of my little pony and friends, if it brings a tear to my eye then the film has won my approval. And this one did bring a tear to my eye, and not the tears of “Get me outta here!” that I was expecting – but tears of understanding the teenage angst that Miley was experiencing during her ordeal and tears of joy that I will never have to be a 16 year old girl again.

I checked Wikipedia on our young heroine, following a hunch, to discover In an interview with USA Today, Cyrus was quoted as saying her faith is "the main thing" and is the reason why she works in Hollywood. When interviewed by Parade, she added that she attends church regularly with her family.

A couple of points before I fly off into the day and leave my pyjamas behind. There was no swearing in this film and the only “adult” concepts were those of a young girl falling in love so don’t be ready to cover any innocent eyes during this film, you can sit back and relax. And don’t forget to take my nieces advice, if you’re taking your kid, make sure they use the loo first!

I give this movie an 8 out of ten for pure family fun and another big 8 for a simple but fun filled plot!

Well done Disney!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaur - A Review

I took my niece to see this film in 3D earlier this week. It was fun and that’s about all it was.

This franchise has come a long way since the first movie which featured Manny the Mammoth, Sid the Sloth and Diago the Saber Tooth Tiger in their quest to reunite a human child with its “herd” and in the process the unlikely trio become a herd of their own kind. So already we see that this series is about multiculturalism!

Two movies later (and I confess, slap me on the hand, I am yet to see part two) we find Manny and his Mrs Mammoth expecting a baby. Diago is getting cold feet about becoming an “uncle” and Sid is feeling a bit pushed out of the “Herd” as the baby cometh.

The catalyst is clear when Sid discovers, in an ice cave, three great big eggs which he decides to adopt as his own and, you guessed it, the eggs are of the T-Rex variety which leads to a whole lot of trouble when the baby T’s tear apart Manny’s baby nursery, eating a few innocent prehistoric toddlers and regurgitating them along the way!

When Momma Rex comes to the surface in search of her sharp mouthed babies, Sid is dragged off into a Lost World under the ice and this time it’s Manny, Mrs Manny, Diago and two possums who go in search of Sid in a land where suddenly Manny isn’t the biggest thing in the world anymore!

This film is mostly a harmless bit of fun but a few words of warning…

Maybe it’s the conspiracy theorist in me but apart from the endorsement for multiculturalism there seems to be a recurring theme of accepting new “norms”… such as the idea that a Man can have a baby, which has been achieved in recent times by unorthodox means. When I first read that a medically transgendered individual had given birth to a child my gut response was “Ew, gross” because, lets face it, its not exactly normal. However this film subtly encourages the idea that its perfectly normal using scenes like one in which Sid is hugging the eggs and his shadow cast on the wall shows him patting a pregnant belly.

I would be nuts to suggest such a concept if this was isolated, but it isn’t! Films like Shrek the Third (and previous Shreks) are doing this sort of Social Engineering all the time, incorporating Men dressed as women and a Pinocchio who wears a thong. It pays to be aware that although these are great fun to watch, these movies are ever so subtly undermining your child’s perception of what is normal and acceptable.

There is also the Scrat the Saber Toothed Squirral sub-sub-plot which has underlined every Ice Age flick to date. A plot that generally has little to nothing to do with the main story but is clearly filler material! This time Scrat’s main focus is not only retrieving The Acorn but also keeping it from a new nemesis – a female squirrel! Don’t read the rest of this paragraph if you don’t want to know what happens next, but you probably figured out already that they fall in love and Scrat temporarily forgets about the acorn in pursuit of his new found romance until his new mate turns out to be the one who wears the pants in the relationship (or in this case a tail). He finds himself yearning for the days when it was just him and his precious Acorn, so as soon as he gets the chance he climbs out the window and leaves her… cute? Yes. Correct? No!! This also serves to undermine marriage, enforcing the idea that once you settle down, your wife becomes a nag and you become her slave – a common theme in an untold amount of films! This suggests the only way to find happiness in an unhappy relationship is to leave… what do you suppose this does to the children of divorcees, on a subconscious level, who are viewing these sorts of films?

There was one last thing that stuck out (and this time maybe I am being too sensitive) but as the party explore the Brave lost World below, they are guided by a one eyed weasel who, as he tells the story of how he narrowly escaped the clutches of the carnivore that took out his eye he knocked out one of the brutes teeth which he now brandishes proudly as a shiny enamel plated sword – justifying it with “Its like that old saying, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a butt, a butt for a… well, its just a saying, a stupid saying actually’” (non-verbatim by the way)- Citing Exodus 21:24. It just didn’t sit right with me because it is not a stupid saying… it is the corner stone of God’s justice system which he proclaimed to the Israelites and without which our modern courts are left with arbitrary standards by which to base our laws…

Too far?


I’m not saying "This film is of the Devil, don’t let your kids see it!” I grew up in the 80’s where everything was of the Devil and I could get possessed by playing with a Cabbage Patch Kid! But I am encouraging you, at the very least, to keep these things at the back of your mind so you can equip your children with some balance after you take them to see it… just don’t make the mistake I did and take your three year old niece to a 3D movie without first checking whether the glasses will fit her or no! The poor thing had to sit there holding them to her face for the entire 93 minutes!

So, just because it was no where near as good as the first movie, I give it a 5 out of ten for both entertainment and plot!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Today's Article of Note

I’ve had one of those nights. You know, the ones where you’re in a dungeon on one of those stretching rack thingies and someone is standing there with an iron rod glowing red and threatening to prod you with it every time you nearly get some sleep? No? Well my torturer was my 4 week old little girl. Got to love her but she just didn’t want to sleep at all and wanted the whole world to know about it!

So I crawl out of bed this morning, check the letter box like a zombie dragging his feet up the driveway looking for brains and then, discovering the computers been left on I check my emails and am still here half an hour later for some strange reason… but its been good for giving the rest of my body a chance to wake up as well…

In my inbox today was my daily newsletter from the Jewish World Review. I highly recommend this informative little mail out. Each day I get sent links to handy things like Ripley’s believe it or Not, cartoons, opinions but more importantly articles about how bad the world is, which is great.

Ok, so they’re not all that bad but today’s was of particular interest to me. This article by Kristin E. Holmes ( ) About Donna Kay Busch, a 47 year old mom in that once great country which is now known as the United States of Anarchy. Busch’s little boy of Kindergarten age took part in an exercise at his day care centre where the children were asked to do a sort of show and tell and share something about who they are to the rest of the class. Alternatively a parent could read an excerpt from the kid’s favorite book.

Little Busch chose a bible story. So after Busch Senior went to all the trouble of finding a passage of scripture she thought wouldn’t offend anyone she innocently tried to read to the class but was stopped by the kindergarten Principal…

Maybe it was just me but the idea that a Kindy has a Head Master kind of made me laugh… sounds like someone taking their job a bit too seriously. Anyway, the great and powerful Principal of Puny Land declared she couldn’t read from her son’s favorite book, the bible, because it desecrated the great prime directive of today’s wise world – The Separation of Church and State.

We really need to wake up a little here. Actually no, we need to wake up a lot. So kindergarten kids aren’t bringing guns to school yet but back in the days when the Bible was in school the teenagers they grew into weren’t killing each other, weren’t having babies at 12 (which has happened recently in the UK I think) weren’t filming their indecent little selves on their mobile telephones and texting them to their friends (which is also happening)!

I recently did a little trace of school shootings in America and discovered that the first High School Massacre in the land of Uncle Sam occurred within three years of removing the Bible from the School System!

The other thing we need to be aware of is the down right hypocrisy of this church and state nonsense. I’m talking about the fact that people get upset about any Christian or Jewish related paraphernalia appearing in School but completely turn a blind eye to all the New Age crud that gets shoved down our children’s throats like one of those plunger things you see someone stuffing down the barrel of a cannon! I remember as far back as the 80’s we had one teacher who forced us kiddies to do yoga, which has serious roots in Eastern mysticism and the occult and that’s just one small example.

Read for further proof of what I am saying here.

Finally the whole Church and State thing originally came about because the colonists in America had fled from religious tyranny in England to a land where they could practice their Christian Faith according to the Bible and not according to the State’s interpretation of the Bible. The idea was originally meant to protect an individual’s right to practice their religion without interference from the State. But now the pendulum has swung to the farthest inaccurate extreme and every man and his dog seem to think it means that the state needs to be protected from Christians! (See Ian Wishart’s Eve’s Bite for a more in-depth review of this)

Christian’s! The people who believe in loving their neighbor, doing to others what they would have them do to them, the sanctity of marriage and of the family. The only “religion” in the world whose founder actually came back to say “I told you so!” and “By the way, I’m coming back!”

Maybe I’ve taken this review of a simple article far too far but are we so blind that we can’t see that the once great West was great because it was Christian and banning a little boy’s mom from reading from the bible to a classroom is stripping those children of their rich cultural heritage?

Apparently we are.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Gran Torino - A Review

I could say that this was a nice movie about a lovely old man overcoming his Xenophobia and fear of Asian cooking but then I would be lying! This is in fact a raw film about a grumpy old sod whose hate for everybody doesn’t exclude his own family.
I have rarely seen a film jam packed with so many racial slurs and multiple cuss words and yet it leaves you thinking, Oh well, wasn’t that a lovely film? Except, it wasn’t!
Walt Kowalski is the hard nosed Korean War veteran who has watched his neighborhood go from an all American Brady bunch style street to a veritable china town. His own grown up kids are indifferent towards him and his grand kids are only interested in what they can get out of his eventual carking it.
His wife has beat him to the dirt pile and at the wake (funeral party) there is a classic scene with his grand daughter asking what his plans are for his couch because she could do with one in her dorm room!
Next door there lies another world, a Chinese Mong family of 3 women and one teenage boy called Tao who needs some serious manning up. After Tao’s (or Toad to Walt) failed attempt at stealing Walt’s Gran Torino to prove his manliness to his gangster cousins, it comes down to Walt to take this young lad under his wrinkled wings and teach him how to do macho things like dig holes and scrape paint off walls.
Meanwhile Walt learns that he has more in common with these “foreigners” than he does with his own depressing family and he finds himself slap bang in the middle of the road to redemption amidst a whole barrage of some of the best examples of political incorrectness I’ve heard for a long time.
Of course there’s more to it than a simple father and surrogate son relationship. The gangster cousins are out to cause more trouble but they have to get through Walt first.
This film has all the classic nuances of an old western, even if it is set next door. Other possible titles for Gran Torino could be Urban Cowboy, Grumpy Old Man or a Fist Full of Chicken Dumplings.
If this is truly Eastwood’s swan song, which I’ve heard it isn’t, then he truly does go out with a bang! But if you’re thrill in film going is in special effects, things blowing up for no reason and computer generated things that look completely fake then Gran Torino will disappoint at every turn. Even the sound quality is more stereo than surround… its strength is in the drama and Clint’s classic one liners. So in a star rating of 10 for excitement and spectacular eye gouging fun I would give the Torino a massive 4, simply because I could do my knitting and still not miss a stitch. But for good dramatic drama it’s probably worthy of a 6.

Just be prepared to cover your ears if you shock easily.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What do you do when an endangered animal eats endangered plants?

Many of the world’s greatest minds have not pondered this question, or at least not in the way that I am about to.

When confronted with this scenario I would have to say that I personally wouldn’t do anything. I don’t know any endangered species personally and wouldn’t know an endangered plant if I stood on one. If I did, I would find myself in the same state of complacency because I don’t feel I’m in a position to do much anyway due to my lack of finances and basic motivation.

On the other hand one would have to ask whether the endangered species was a socialist or a member of the New Zealand Labour Party, in which case I would again say let them eat to their hearts content because obviously as far as a species go, they’re not on my top ten list of animals I want to save… actually they’re on my top ten list of Animals I want to See Stranded on a Melting Iceberg.

But all of the above is irrelevant and completely stupid.

I don’t worry all too much about this sort of thing because frankly the second law of thermodynamics… or the law of entropy… or in laymen’s terms the law of everything going to the dogs is at work and when we are confronted with yet another creature passing into the past or a plant withering in the winds of history its nothing new under the sun. It’s been happening since the fall of the first man, and his lovely wife.

We live in a funny society where we tell ourselves that everything is evolving into more complex and vibrant thingamajigs but with the other half of our brain we hit the panic button when something comes along and says “I’m leaving this planet forever” and “oops, nothing is going to replace me when I’m gone. I just shake my head…

Biodiversity is a clever machine of weights and balances. I’m no science pro but I seem to know, thanks to years of Steve Irwin and the Odd trip to the zoo, that an ecosystem is a delicate thing where creatures and plants alike depend upon each other for their very survival. If one thing goes extinct the thing that needed it has to depend on something else for the thing it got. If it doesn’t get it then that thing dies and the thing that needed it goes along the same slippery route towards extinction and is remembered only in blogs and misinformed text books.

Has anyone outside of the world of Church ever noticed however, that if you press the rewind button on the situation that there must have been a time of perfect environment? Maybe I have jumped one step ahead of everyone here but imagine if the things that became extinct this year never became extinct and the things that were wiped out last year were still here and the things before that and the things before that…. Etc…

…surely you end up with a world of pure biodiversific perfection? I’ll leave you to ponder the ramifications of that prospect but I’ll give you a hint – it smells like Genesis to me! (But if you’re not satisfied these guys explain it much better than I do

The real reason why I simply don’t care enough to get all flustered and frazzled over the possibility that some diabolically rare sloth out there is right now eating the last of a plant that could probably cure toenail cancer is simply that as a Christian I am promised a time of restoration in the hopefully not too distant future when Jesus Christ will return and restore all things. That’s not to say that I am irresponsible with my plastics and odd socks but there’s no point in getting upset about it… we live in a fallen world (read Genesis Chapter 3 folks) and there’s only one way out.

I’m not afraid to say that His name is Jesus Christ, and if you don’t know him yet, then my friend, you are the endangered species and I sincerely hope you don’t eat your last plant before you discover that fact. (

Now that I have not in anyway answered the above question – does anyone else have anything they would like to ask?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tranformers 2 – A Review

I think the words of a dear friend of mine summed this film up nicely - "It was two and a half hours of jar Jar Binks" - and indeed it was.
If you can get past the dog humping antics of not just the films cameo Chihuahua, but also of a converted Decepticon who develops a crush for Sam Whitwickies girlfriend then you might stand a chance of enjoying this movie. Seriously there are a lot of adult concepts in this film and I pity the person who accidentally takes their children to see it expecting a good wholesome (and expensive) night out.
There is also a great deal of "low level" swearing and although the "F" word is substituted for the "fricken" variety, well the intention is there and doesn't leave much for the imagination. Oh yeah, did I mention the sexual over-currents? I still can't get over the Minicon getting nasty with the movies love interest, as if we needed to be reminded that that was the only reason Megan Fox is in this film - to stand there and look pretty and pretty much nothing else...
And then there is the violence.... there is one scene where Optimus rips a Decepticons face in half with his built in Hand Hooks, which when you think about it is a pretty neat trick but hello! I thought Transformers was for kids? The question I would put to Hasbro and Mr Bay is why are you turning a kids toy and cartoon into something over sexed and nasty? We get enough of that sort of rubbish by watching Oprah or Doctor Phil when we find ourselves trapped at home for day time trouble vision... (which has also become oversexed and nasty!)
But I digress... I actually enjoyed the film as far as simple good butt kicking entertainment goes BUT you really need the perception of time of a German Shepherd to take it all in... you know how dogs can't watch TV because they're eyes perceive 24 frames a second as actual snapshots appearing on the screen... well, that’s the ability you need to fully appreciate the CGI because the action is soooooooo fast, if you blink, you will miss it... and maybe its just my ancient ears but I did find the moving parts, the screeching of metal on metal and the rickety joints of some of the characters a tad over done because I couldn't hear what they were saying half of half the time...

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a projectionist.

I suppose I should mention what the film is actually about. Basically our Hero, Sam Whitwicky, from the first film, wants to go to college and have a normal life but as he packs his bags a piece of the All Spark falls out of his jumper (the jumper, also from the first movie) and when he looks at it something magical happens... the All Spark puts something in the kids brain - something that the Decepticons want so badly that they will stop at nothing to get it. Meanwhile the Autobots are getting their hands slapped by, yep, you guessed it, the Us government because the all powerful Obama (surprisingly) doesn't like them anymore... watch it carefully if you don't believe me on this point, Michael Bay doesn't paint the all saint president in a good light and that earns the movie an extra star in my book... oooooooh controversial....
I could go on but the plot is really basic, boy becomes fugitive, boy goes to Egypt where the great pyramid ends up being a great big shoot-at-the-sun-lazar-gun which creates energon for the hungry Decepticons... oh yeah Optimus dies too... but don't worry, I haven't ruined the film for you!
All up I give this film an 8 out of ten for excitement and mindless boredom busting but for content and culture I give it a great big American Salute and a resounding 4 out of the same scale.
So, Finally I will leave you with this one question that keeps bugging me... can anyone tell me why Michael Bay almost always has a scene with soldiers walking in slow motion? Why is that?