Saturday, December 21, 2013

Samantha Jade Performs Carols in Sydney

 

The 2012 winner of Australia’s X-Factor, Samantha Jade, joined Dami Im at Sydney’s Carols in the Domain.

Enjoy her performance of O Holy Night.

Dami Im Performs at Carols in Sydney

 

Australian X-Factor Winner Dami Im performed two carols at the Woolworth Carols in the Domain, Sydney.

Enjoy Away in the Manger and Silent Night.

The Best and Worst Movies of 2013

 

2013 was an interesting year for films.  The merger between independent and commercial movie-making was stronger than ever. Even Hollywood seemed happy to hire directors known for more progressive works.  This led to a higher than normal quality count from Tinsletown. There were the usual duds as any cinematic year produces with some of the more expensive block-busters becoming huge flops.  Overall there were many films to entertain and engage this year with better crafted stories and performances making for a varied mix on silver screens.

Read on to find out which 2013 films struck it lucky and which ones managed a black mark against their names...

THE BEST

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10.  The Way, Way Back

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9.  Prisoners

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8.  Flight

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7.  American Hustle

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6.  Behind the Candelabra

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5.  Warm Bodies

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4.  The Place Beyond the Pines

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3.  Gravity

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2.  August: Osage County

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1.  Elysium

What I said then: “It isn’t often a really good science fiction film comes along with ‘Elysium’ being one.  Thoughtful, exciting and captivating, it wouldn’t surprise if this made to any genre fan’s ‘all-time favourite’ lists”.

What I say now:  An engaging and tense mix of social commentary and action, ‘Elysium’ hit all the right notes.  It also proved how an independent sensibility can succeed in the world of commercially –driven movies.  Hopefully future films will follow its example by further providing intelligent escapism and ongoing thrills.

Honourable mentions:  Iron Man 3, The Hunt, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Dead Man Down, Blue Jasmine, Lovelace, Rush, 2Guns, Captain Phillips, Blancaneives, Thor: The Dark World, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lone Survivor, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

THE WORST

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10. This is the End

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9.  The World’s End

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8.  Pain and Gain

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7.  R.I.P.D.

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6.  A Good Day to Die Hard

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5.  The Internship

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4.  The Butler

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3.  After Earth

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2.  The Counselor

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1.  Movie 43

What I said then: “Those easily offended by foul language and nudity should avoid ‘Movie 43’ like the plague.  It has a constant stream of them with its aim in shocking audiences with a farrago of outrageous crudity a complete success.”

What I say now: Swiftly labelled one of the worst films of all time, it’s difficult to disagree.  A wretched combination of low-brow and gross-out humour, it’s one of those films where you demand it give you the time wasted on seeing its visions of undue ghastliness. 

Dishonourable mentions:  Safe Haven, Paranoia, Diana, Hitchcock, The Sweeney, Now You See Me, Kick-Ass 2, The Mortal Instruments, Jack the Giant Slayer, Olympus Has Fallen, The Call, Carrie.

That’s it for another movie-going year.  Everyone enjoy a safe and happy Christmas and may 2014 be even luckier than the year about to go. Until next time – thanks for reading!

 Patrick


All Movie Reviews by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie list? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Reviews are an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

Patrick will return on 2014 … so be in the look out for more entertaining and sometimes provocative reviews.

Movie Review ... The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

 

 

hobbit-desolation-of-smaug-posterJ.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson have made comfortable bedfellows.  Author and director of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy respectively, their talents have been hugely influential.  After nearly a decades’ absence, the series returned last year with the first instalment of ‘The Hobbit’. The prequel to the hit franchise, it garnered new fans.  ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ continues to show Jackson’s creative story-telling skills with a truly epic production steeped in Tolkien’s wondrous universe.

Continuing on his quest to help free a kingdom from the wicked clutches of Smaug the Dragon, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) feels uneasy.  Rocked by events which have made his journey difficult, he wonders if it is all worth it.  Wise wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) ensures him a smoother ride will transpire with the help of dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage).  None can know what happens when they enter the forest of Mirkwood.  Old friends and new enemies surface challenging the heroes in unimaginable ways.

Faster paced with better characterisation, the second chapter of ‘The Hobbit’ enchants.  It’s a truly immersive world and one Peter Jackson clearly enjoys.  His vision in capturing every element of Tolkien’s universe results in spectacular imagery and amazingly rendered action sequences.  Unlike its predecessor, it allows time to discover more about the heroes and their various aims.  They don’t always agree which provides most of the fun with the performances complimenting the film’s high quality.

Matching the finely tuned action is the magnificent scenery.  No amount of CGI could make New Zealand’s terrain look any better with the landscape providing a great version of Middle-Earth.  That isn’t to denigrate the special effects as they are suitably dazzling.  The mix of drama, humour and thrills blend seamlessly by managing to rise above the visuals.  Whilst less complex than ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Hobbit’s’ simple tale has some depth enabling audience engagement.

Despite having another long run-time, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ is consistently enjoyable.  Never wasting a moment, fans of Tolkien and Jackson should be pleased their reputations remain intact with the film showing more evidence of their creative skills.

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Movie Review Rating out of 10:  8

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

Official HomePage click HERE

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BOOK: ART & DESIGN

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Movie Review ... Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

 

anchorman-2-the-legend-continues-movie-still-1A Hollywood rule is never allowing too much time between a film and its sequel.  Two or three years seem to be the recent gap of choice for a follow-up to appear.  Fans of the first  ‘Anchorman’ movie have had to wait nearly a decade for its second chapter.  Finally surfacing after surviving Tinsletown’s infamous ‘Hollywood Hell’ scripting process, it is worth the patience.  It adds new flavour to its tale of a group of idiotic TV broadcasters.  It’s characters are more than a perfect fit in this send-up of idiot box-enhanced celebrities.

Becoming legends in their own dreams during the 1970’s, the Channel 4 news team face a new era.  As the 1980’s dawn they strive to find new horizons.  Led by Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and assisted by Brick (Steve Carell), Brian (Paul Rudd) and Champ (David Koechner), the team accept a new challenge.  When asked to join a fledging 24 hour news channel, their ambitions and egos become inflated.  If the ‘70’s was their nirvana, the greedy ‘80’s become their playground as they battle for news supremacy.

‘Anchorman 2’ is a ridiculously silly romp sure to please Will Ferrell fans.  Whilst he has his detractors, he clearly enjoys returning to one of his famous roles.  Although prone to self-indulgence and never knowing when to stop a joke, ‘Anchorman 2’ makes much of his talents.  It’s still a team effort with his co-stars matching him for stylised wit.  This elevates it from others as it mostly avoids easy crudity by providing genuine satire.

This humorous edge is effectively maintained by Adam McKay’s direction.  Occasionally it goes completely overboard although these unexpected moments prevent ‘Anchorman 2’ from becoming boring.  These very politically-incorrect characters are ones seen in some walks of life with each having their own distinct personalities.  How they gleefully skewer celebrity culture and dumb down the news is disturbingly similar to what constitutes journalism in today’s world.

Not to be taken seriously ‘Anchorman 2’ is outrageous nonsense.  The quota of laughs is high for which any comedy aims.  A third entry wouldn’t be unwelcome although hopefully it won’t take quite as long to appear as did this very absurd sequel.

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Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

Official HomePage click HERE

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A Walt Disney Moment

 

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Trivia Bits 21 December

 

  • Easter Island or Rapa Nui is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean and is South Amerifamous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people.
  • The name of the panda in the Kung Fu Panda movies is Po.
  • The Atlantic paper mussel, which lives along the Atlantic coast of North America, from Maryland to Florida, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico, from Texas to Mexico, has been found growing at densities of over 3000 per square metre (11 sq ft).
  • French Guiana has a coastline on the north Atlantic coast of South America.
  • The only person to have won a BAFTA Award for his work in black and white, Colour, HD and 3D is English broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
  • American Samoa is located in the South Pacific Ocean with capital city, Apia, and Faleolo International Airport situated on the island of Upolu.
  • Jack Nicholson won the Best Actor Award for the 1990 romantic comedy movie As Good As It Gets. Jack’s co-star Helen Hunt won the Best Actress Award for her role as a single mother with an asthmatic son.
  • Portia Simpson-Miller became the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth realm of Jamaica in 2012.
  • The Booker Prize 1981 winning novel Midnight’s Children was authored by Salman Rushdie.
  • In 2012, London’s Big Ben was renamed The Elizabeth Tower during Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee year.
  • The world’s first feature movie The Story of the Kelly Gang screened in Melbourne in 1906.
  • The most common cause of the disease osteomalacia is the deficiency in vitamin D.
  • Seven emirates constitute the United Arab Emirates - each is governed by a hereditary emir, who chooses one of their members to be the president of the federation. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain.
  • The three leaders of the 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales were Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth and is officially credited as the first successful European crossing.
  • There are four statues of Lions at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square London which built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Quotables 21 December

 

real_happiness

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Vivien Leigh Moment

 

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Donna Vivino: Beautiful Dreamer (2013)

 

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Donna Vivino’s "Beautiful Dreamer" travels through personal history and musical eras. This recording features 13 songs that have resonated with Donna since childhood and embody her various interpretations of a “dream” – making her solo debut a thematically cohesive song-cycle, one that unfailingly captivates with its bountiful charms.

Donna is accompanied by a world-class jazz quartet led by her father Jerry Vivino – longtime member of Conan O'Brien's house band – and pianist/arranger Mitch Forman. She rises to this occasion and offers astonishing, unique takes on songs by Rodgers and Hart, George and Ira Gershwin, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Randy Newman, and other legendary writers.

Donna began her Broadway career at the tender age of eight as Young Cosette in Les Miserables and went on to grace the Broadway stage in musicals such as Wicked and Hairspray. On television, she’s appeared on HBO, ABC, CBS and in the acclaimed web series Submissions Only.

Trivia Bits 20 December

 

  • Austin Friars, an Augustinian friary in the City of London, was the only friary in London to have its own prison, but became the focus of a scandal when an imprisoned friar died in 1525.
  • American actor and martial artist Mark Dacascos is best known for his role in the TV series Iron Chef.
  • It was for the 1993 film Philadelphia that Tom Hanks won a Best Actor Oscar and was directed by Jonathan Demme and co-starred Denzel Washington.
  • In 2013, the Australian state of Queensland had a population of approximately 4.5 million.
  • Mare Imbrium, which is Latin for "Sea of Showers" or "Sea of Rains", is a vast lunar mare filling a basin on Earth's Moon being one of the larger craters in the Solar System, which was created when lava flooded the giant crater formed when a very large object hit the Moon long ago with age estimates ranging from 3 billion to 4.5 billion years.
  • Rallo Tubs is a character from the 2009 American adult animated sitcom TV series The Cleveland Show.
  • White Fox Terrier Snowy, or as known in France, Milou, is a fictional character in The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. With Snowy debuting in the first sequence of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, published in Le Petit Vingtième on 10 January 1929.
  • Originating in Java, Indonesia, Satay is a dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce and may consist of diced or sliced chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish, or tofu which are grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire, then served with various spicy seasonings.
  • A frugivore is a fruit eater of any type of herbivore or omnivore where fruit is a preferred food type.
  • The capital of the island nation of Samoa is Apia.
  • Brihat Jataka, one of the five principal texts written by Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer Varahamihira, is described as India's foremost astrological text and was written about 575 CE.
  • In Morocco (1930), Marlene Dietrich famously became the first leading lady to kiss another woman on screen. The scene added to the movie at Marlene’s suggestion, was considered extremely provocative at the time but nevertheless escaped the censor’s scissors!
  • Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in the South American country of Brazil.
  • Ian Fleming's 1953 novel Casino Royale is set at the beginning of Bond's career as Agent 007, just as he is earning his licence to kill and was the first Bond novel.
  • During a 1780s rebellion involving the holy city of Varanasi, Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, took shelter in the Chunar.

Quotables 20 December

 

accept_all_you_are

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Vincent Price Moment

 

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We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song (2007)

 

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We All Love Ella is a touching tribute to The First Lady Of Song. This album gives us a terrific fifteen classic Ella Fitzgerald ballads covered by some of the best artists currently in the business. Just one listen proves it!

The CD track set starts with a bouncy rendition of "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" by Natalie Cole. The bass works well and so do those horns and percussion! Natalie swings brightly on "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." Chaka Chan truly does prove her wide vocal range with a pretty awesome rendition of "Lullaby Of Birdland." The key changes between major and minor work well for "Lullaby Of Birdland." Chaka sings this passionately with all her heart and soul; her excellent diction bolsters her performance. Moreover, Queen Latifah turns in a rousing interpretation of "The Lady Is A Tramp." Queen Latifah never sounded better; and the arrangement for piano, horns, drums and percussion really shines!

"Dream A Little Dream Of Me" features Diana Krall and Hank Jones; although some may think that this interpretation runs a little too long I personally like it very much. Diana Krall and Hank Jones perform a marvelous version of "Dream A Little Dream Of Me." Listen also for a flawless performance of "(If You Can't Sing It) You'll Have To Swing It (a.k.a. Mr. Paganini)" by Natalie Cole and Chaka Khan.

Ledisi performs "Blues In The Night" with panache; and the big band style arrangement impresses me with its percussion and horns. Ella would be smiling! "Miss Otis Regrets" gets the royal treatment from Linda Ronstadt who sings this with excellent diction, sensitivity and style.

We get an excellent duet between Ella Fitzgerald herself and the great Stevie Wonder recorded live in concert; their electric chemistry is unmistakable. Together Ella and Stevie Wonder perform "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life." The crowd loves every minute of this duet; and Ella and Stevie never miss a beat! I predict that you will enjoy "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" very, very much.

Ella Fitzgerald, The First Lady Of Song, will never be forgotten; and this CD is a wonderful tribute to her and her legacy. We are all remarkably better off for Ella sharing her artistry with us; and I assure you that her CDs will be available for ages to come.

Track Listing:

01. Natalie Cole - A-Tisket, A-Tasket
02. Chaka Khan - Lullaby of Birdland
03. Queen Latifah - The Lady Is a Tramp
04. Diana Krall & Hank Jones - Dream a Little Dream of Me
05. Natalie Cole & Chaka Khan - (You'll Have to Swing It) Mr. Paganini
06. Dianne Reeves - Oh, Lady Be Good!
07. Lizz Wright - Reaching for the Moon
08. Ledisi - Blues in the Night
09. Linda Ronstadt - Miss Otis Regrets
10. Gladys Knight - Someone to Watch Over Me
11. Etta James - Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
12. k.d. lang - Angel Eyes
13. Michael Buble - Too Close for Comfort
14. Ella Fitzgerald & Stevie Wonder - You Are the Sunshine of My Life

Trivia Bits 19 December

 

  • The Flintstones premiered on US television on 30 September 1960.
  • The ruins of the city of Troy are now in the country of Turkey and are best known for being the setting of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epic Cycle and especially in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer.
  • Graeme “Shirley” Strachan was best known as the lead singer of the Australian 1970s rock group Skyhooks.
  • In the Ang Lee directed 2012 American-Indian-British movie The Life of Pi Meerkats were the animals on the carnivorous island.
  • Trafalgar Square is a public space and tourist attraction in central London, England, is home to Nelson's Column, iconic stone lions, the famous Fourth Plinth and a lot of pigeons and commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars over France which took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar, Spain.
  • Born in Dartford, Kent UK, on July 26, 1943 was The Rolling Stone’s front man Mick Jagger whose romantic escapades gained as much attention as his music.
  • Western Australia's Mt Augustus is the largest rock in the world, 8 kilometres long, 3 kilometres across and .377 kilometres high.
  • In para-alpine skiing, outrigger skis are an assistive device used by skiers with balance issues or amputations.
  • The 2013 novel Walking on Trampolines was written by Australia author/journalist Frances Whiting
  • The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is an award given by the United Kingdom and is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725.
  • American aviator Robert William Prescott, born 1913 in Fort Worth, Texas, founded the Flying Tiger Line, the first scheduled cargo airline in the United States being the National Skyway Freight Corporation established on June 25, 1945.
  • Dustin Hoffmann has won Oscars for Kramer vs Kamer and Rainman.
  • The fastest lap at the 2013 Italian Grand Prix was set by British driver Lewis Hamilton driving for the McLaren team with a time of 1.25.565.
  • Wouter De Becker is better known by the stage name of Gotye, a multi award winning Australian recording artist.
  • A Satyr Tragopan is a bird also known as the Crimson Horned Pheasant, is a pheasant found in the Himalayan reaches of India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.

Quotables 19 December

 

understand_life

Wednesday, December 18, 2013