Sexy vs Dorky

I was going to say that I finally got around to seeing “Eagle Vs Shark“, but it’s only been out for two weeks, so I’m not really slow off the mark. It just seems that everyone who’s cool has already seen it, either at the film festival or by being first in line for general release.

I didn’t see it with a large audience, so many of the opportunities for big laughs were lost or reduced to a smattering of chuckles, but I still found it really funny. But what I got out of it more was the film’s heart.

Before I saw it, I’d heard rumours of a Napoleon Dynamite-esque style, and I knew that the main characters were in the their early 30s, so I wondered how that was going to work. My biggest fear was that main characters, Jarrod and Lily, would come across as a couple of retarded adult-children, and the film would be marred by that.

But even though they were both really dorky and nerdy and awkward and embarrassing and geeky, it still worked and still felt real (as much as real can feel in such a film).

And this is my theory why.

In films, while it’s expected that teenagers will be nervous and awkward when they’ve met someone new and are falling in love, adults don’t get to act the same way. Adults in films are meant to be all cool and sexy. Adults are meant to rip each other’s clothes off and have hot sex straight off. They’re not meant to agonise over hand-holding or have firty but awkward conversations about video games first.

But I don’t think much changes with boyfriend/girlfriend stuff, no matter how much older you get. Falling in love is still awesome, and being dumped still sucks. Your heart doesn’t become numb to such emotions just cos you’re not a crazy teenager any more.

Maybe it’s because we tend to be teenagers when we’re first on the receiving end of these emotions that we think of them as teenage emotions – and for some of us who pair up early and happily, they never show up again. But those of us who have experienced a romantic ending or a beginning will have felt that teenageness showing up again.

So while the courtship of Jarrod and Lily is a bit of an exaggeration, it still manages to capture the craziness involved in that for anyone.

And that’s why, in a funny little way, “Eagle Vs Shark” rang truer for me than any Hollywood romantic comedy has ever managed to.

Or maybe I’m just a dork.

In the back row

Every now and then I have to work a Sunday and so I get the preceding Friday off. I like to use the time to go out and do stuff that would normally be busy on a weekend.

I was considering going to the Food Show, but I think I’m over that. Senior citizens and cheese cubes and packet-mix pasta sauce samples have limited entertainment value.

So instead I strolled in to Newmarket and saw “Starter For 10” at the Rialto. I was kinda bored while I waited for the film to start, so I texted live updates of the trailers, etc, to Twitter.

2.17pm It’s my Sunday Friday so I’m enjoying the pleasures of a near empty cinema.

2.18pm I would like to point out that the movie has not started yet. I an not a rude film texter.

2.20pm Eagle vs Shark trailer – makes me want that crazy love. Unf!

2.25pm Black Snake Moan looks dirty and filthy and awesome.

4.07pm Movie review: Starter For Ten. Funny, sweet, heartbreaking, uplifting and with a choice ’80s soundtrack. What being a student is actually like more than most movies manage.

4.57pm Foodtown on a Friday afternoon is tolerable when one has the Mint Chicks on one’s iPod.

I’m going to paint a 10

There’s a post over at Boing Boing that’s turned into a bit of a roll call of clips on Sesame Street that scared today’s grown-ups back when they were little kids in the ’70s and ’80s.

This reminded me of the Sesame Street clip that scared me: the Painting Man, aka the Mad Painter and the Number Painter.

He went around New York City painting numbers from 2 to 11 on things or – hilariously – people. What scared me was his beard, his staring eyes and that he never spoke, except in voice over. Mum had to come and turn the TV off whenever the Painting Man was on.

So sought him out on YouTube and faced my childhood nemesis. Watching the clips, I realised he was the actor who played the faux Guffman in “Waiting For Guffman“, and that the clips often featured Stockard Channing as a lady who gets numbers painted on or about her.

And then there’s my favourite part – the Robert Dennis’ jazzy tack-hammer piano music that accompanies each clip. (My favourite version is on number 4)

The Painting Man no longer scared me (which is just as well, cos my mum is currently on holiday on a tropical island and not available to make the bad man go away).

Watching the Painting Man clips now makes me yearn for New York City and hangin’ out on a street corner with some Puerto Rican guy called Ricky (or whatever ever it is that people do in New York – I should go there and find out).

Bonus! While I was searching through YouTube, I found a clip from 1973 of Stevie Wonder riotously singing “Superstition” on Sesame Street, and James Earl Jones counting to 10 – an acting tour de force.

Unhand those sexy items

The Auckland final of the 48Hours film competition was on Thursday, and it was a brilliant evening.

Fractured Radius didn’t make it into the finals this year, but that doesn’t matter cos that’s not what we’re there for, man. So was just able to enjoy a selection of 12 of the best films from Auckland teams.

The winner, Camp Fear by Mukpuddy, was a really well done animation about two monsters at a camp. When they accepted their award, one of the Mukpuddy dudes gave a shout out to James, Faith and me for the reviews we’d done on the 48Hours forums. This was such a nice feeling – all that sleep deprivation, Civic numb-bum and having to sit through the less than awesome films in the heats was worth it.

But if you want to see Fractured Radius’ film “The Big Job”, here ’tis. I get blown up in it, which was a rather freaky experienced to endure on set, if you know what I mean.

I also highly recommend Gun Man by team Bald Faced Cheek. They have a similar sense of humour as fRad, and this year paid special tribute to fRad by using our catchphrase, “shit my balls”. I especially recommend this film if, like me, you are hot 4 Yorkshire accents.

I like 48Hours, and being able to spend a few months a year embracing my film geekness.

Too many films

I spent my evenings last week at the Civic theatre with James and Faith watching all 177 films in the heats of the 48Hour film competition.

We took one heat each per evening where we paid attention and furiously scribbled notes in the dark, which we attempted to decipher and next day and guide us to writing concise and insightful reviews for the masses.

The competition requires that each team is given a character name and trait (Jerry Reed, a hypochondriac), a prop (rope) and a line of dialogue (“What do you call that”) that must be used in the film. It’s interesting how many teams uses those to build their entire film around.

This might not seem like much, but after you’ve seen a dozen films where Jerry Reed is a perpetually sniffling, pill-popping sickie who thinks he has “the Aids”, you start to switch off. And it’s the ones who make Jerry a minor character and do something more original with their main character that really stand out.

As for my team’s film, well, it wasn’t our best effort. We didn’t take our own advice and filled it with too many in-jokes that most audience members didn’t get (and probably were annoyed that they didn’t get), and the film’s ending was really insubstantial, which is another way to annoy viewers. But having said that, the stuff in the middle got a good reaction, particularly Jimmy Can’t-Face’s urgent message. (Coming soon to YouTube!)

What I like best about the 48Hours heats is seeing how teams grow from year to year. Case in point, teen team Halcyon Entertainment, who in 2005 gave us the worst film ever, the notorious Graduate Massacre. But they came back last year with a competent musical, Next, Please, but this year they surprised us all with a sweet, tender story of a boy who befriends his hospital wardmate, a girl with cancer.

And of course there is the opportunity to see films that would never normally get a screening in the mighty Civic. A puppet penis who’s going to be “sick” on his owner? Two teens dressed up as senile veterans? A group of teens trapped in a shipping container who spend the whole time swearing? It’s all there.

It’s a great way to spend a week.

A big job

It’s that time of year again. The time where I spend a perfectly good weekend running around making a short film with the Fractured Radius team for the 48Hours film competition.

Director/producer/editor/all-round awesome dude Dylan made a timeline of what we did, claiming “everyone sleeps” on Saturday night. This is a slight lie. I only got about four hours sleep that night, which made Saturday a challenge. But I guess that’s why one of the competition’s sponsors is an energy drink.

While sitting around, waiting for stuff to happen, I started to make up (unnecessary) back stories for characters in the film, like this one:

A corrupt scientist was working for a criminal genius, contracted to clone the criminal genius’ favourite thug. Unfortunately the cloning process was a little impure, meaning that each clone had something slightly wrong with him. One had no hand, one had a permanently clenched fist, and one had something odd growing inside his mouth. Never mind – they could still all be put to work…

We had various industry pros working in post-production – a composer of the musical score (every main character had his or her own theme tune); a graphics guy; a pyrotechnician (but you’ve noted this refers to post-production and are perhaps pondering what a pyrotechnician would be doing in an edit suite – exactly); and a sound mixer.

While these dudes added truly professional-looking and -sounding touches, we kind of worried if the slickness of these effects would make the rest of the film look rubbish in comparison.

But in the end, the usual quality of Fractured Radius’ writing and act0ring skillz shone through. Uh, well, something like that.

I had heaps of fun. In previous years there has always been the thought in the back of my mind, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to win,” but this year I don’t really care all that much. While it would be nice to win, I don’t think winning would be as cool as the experience of making the film.

Interested parties can see Fractured Radius’ crime flick, “The Big Job”, on Tuesday May 29, 7.30 at the mighty Civic.

Meanwhile, here’s a photo of The Tree Guy in the scene where… Oh, if you want to know what happens, you’ll have to see the film.

The Tree Guy

Music is magic

After work today, I went downstairs and watched the Magic Numbers play. Their lovely three-part harmonies gave me goosebumps.

I ended up on telly for a little bit, in a fuzzy, background, out of focus sort of way.

Here is me and Romeo from the Magic Numbers on the telly:

(I was smirking because Romeo was talking about the song they were about to play, and I realised that it’s totally true what James said, that while the Magic Numbers have this image as cuddly, lovely hippies, their songs are rather quite dark.)

Here is me and the Magic Numbers and Sainso and other fans:

This is probably the most I’ve been on TV. The second most was my brief background appearance on Tonight in 2004 in an item about Idol Blog, and the third was an even briefer appearance in the audience at an Idol taping also that year.

Those were pretty rad experiences, but weren’t as rad as the Magic Numbers.

Laundry day

One laundry day, a few months ago, I was wearing the polarfleece with my employer’s logo on it. The lady at the Chinese laundry saw it and got rather excited.

She asked me if I was on television or… you know, the other sort of television job. I think I disappointed her when I revealed that I was not a glamorous TV star.

But since then, she’s sort of eager to talk with me about the telly.

Today she told me that she’d seen the John man at Mt Roskill interviewing Don Brash. The John man is taller and much more handsome in person than he is on the telly. I said that once I saw him at the supermarket pushing a trolley around.

She also said that about a year ago, she’d seen the lady who sits with John sometimes (the Carol), and that this lady was much slimmer and more beautiful than she looked on TV.

“Aye,” I said, in my head. “Television is a cruel mistress.”

Back

It turns out that all the snow I’d seen in the central North Island was actually, like, the result of a major snowfall, not just normal winter conditions. It looks like my trip back north was coincidentally timed in between two closures of Desert Road.

So I’m back in old Mt Eden. In my absence, my landlord managed to evict the noisy couple in the flat next door, so there’ll be no more booming TV or full-on cooking at 2am.

I’ve spent the weekend mostly sitting on the couch, watching DVDs. I’ve discovered the magical world of audio description, sort of like spoken subtitles for blind viewers so they don’t miss out in visual action. It sounds potentially lame, but the audio description track for “Kinky Boots” was poetry. Read by a lady with a sultry English accent, it succinctly summed up the important visual action with language that matched the playfulness of the film. In fact, it was more interesting than the film itself.

I can also report that the subtitles for “Sione’s Wedding” were disappointing. They claimed to be for deaf and hearing-impaired viewers, but they weren’t, as there was no music or sound effects subtitled, and both those had an important role to play in the humour and feeling of the film. Plus the subtitles themselves were poorly punctuated. It is good to see a New Zealand DVD with subtitles, but the standard should be higher.

Anyway, like The Monkey wrote in a recent entry, “It’s good to go away, but it’s also good to come home again.”