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Thursday, 30 May 2013

"The Fall" Creepiest show on TV at the moment Episodes 1-5 review

I am knocked out by "The Fall".
Gillian Anderson (confession: I have never been a big fan) is fantastic as the cold and complex detective. I was gobsmacked when she tells the handsome copper, "I'm at the Hilton, the room number is 203". I am sure Agent Scully would not have been so forward with Mulder!
The gliding camera through the serial killer's home, shot from the ceiling, was astounding. Very Brian De Palma or was it like that shot in the brothel in "Taxi Driver"? Anyway, it was cool.
Jamie Dornan is compelling. The creepy part is how he is living a 'normal' family life. The scene with the psychologist taking notes by sketching his patient was disturbing.
Episode 2 was harrowing. Lots of juxtapositions - the baby in Intensive Care/the father mourning for his baby - his daughter in the morgue; the killer washing his daughter's hair after washing the strangled solicitor. Some good plot twists - the smarmy solicitor being a friend of the latest victim, the final scene where the detective is gunned down in front of his son. Believable situations - the parent-teacher interview, the mother in the maternity ward. The scene with the police emergency operator was a gem. This is clever, but creepy television drama.
Just watched last episode, was sort of disappointed. Bit of a cliff hanger. Is there another series in this? Or does the viewer have to fill in the gaps (when the witness regains consciousness and ID's the bastard, will the creep stay in Scotland?).
Brilliant TV though. Gillian Anderson is now officially a hot TV property (a juicy cameo in "Hannibal", now this superbly written part).
More please.

"Da Vinci's Demons" Series 1, Episode 7 "The Hierophant" review, spoilers

God, I'm thick, just realising each episode title refers to a tarot card.
This is the penultimate episode in Series 1. We know Series 2 is going ahead so next week's episode shouldn't have too many revelations and disclosures. So much happened in this one, though. Leo's scuba dives into the Vatican, arising from the pope's misty bath waters like Martin Sheen in "Apocalypse Now". That snake-in-the-grass Pazzi poisoning one of his co-conspirators in front of his fellow villains. Remember James Bond villain, Blofeld? He used to top one of his underlings in Spectre HQ, as a warning to the rest. You know: "Kill Bond!" Enter piranha..... (gulp)"Yes No.1!"
Sorry, I'm rambling.
We discover why Lucrezia is a spy for Rome. Dad is the papal prisoner who played the board game with Riario in Episode 3. I wanted more time in the secret archives under the Vatican. Loved the papal elevator.
Didn't expect loyal Giulino (Tom Bateman) to be written out in the last scene. At least he had a good time with Vanessa the Underdresser.

Cannon Group Films, Golan-Globus Productions: Dodgy movies from the eighties

A trip to the video library in the 1980's meant shelves and shelves of Golan-Globus fodder. The output ranged from the arty farty like "Runaway Train" (Jon Voight) and "Company of Wolves" (both 1985), to the respectable - Meryl Streep's "Evil Angels"/"A Cry in the Dark" (1988) to the downright awful -  Bo Derek's "Bolero" (1984).
Mostly it was B action/exploitation movies: Chuck Norris dross, "Missing in Action" (1984), "The Delta Force" (1986) or youth-oriented break dancing movies like "Breakin'" and the sequel "Electric Boogaloo" (1984).
There were a few bigger budget efforts like "King Solomon's Mines" (1985), the Tobe Hooper's fascinating but nutty "Lifeforce", Tobe's remake of "Invaders From Mars" (1986) and the guilty pleasure that is "Superman IV, The Quest For Peace" (1987). By the end of the eighties the wheels were starting to come off the Cannon cart, sliding into bankruptcy by the 1990's.
You had to admire the chutzpah of these two Jewish cousins, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Kings of the Video Library bargain bin.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

"Oz, The Great and Powerful" Why did critics savage it?

Expectations. It can kill a movie. Sam Raimi had a big job ahead of him. Big boots to fill.The 1939 film is everybody's treasured film.
Remember the very arty but dark/drab "Return to Oz" from the 1980's? Probably not.
I watched this film with small expectations, probably because of the negative reviews. I was pleasantly surprised, as was my wife and very cynical 19 year old daughter. Okay the CGI was over the top, the colour very "Willy Wonka'"but it's a fantasy film. It was perhaps 20 minutes too long, but I had fun.
The black and white sideshow prologue was delightful, spotting the cast members in later pivotal roles. When the screen stretched to full size and went to glorious Technicolour...  come on .... it's the movies....enjoy.
 The China Girl and her smashed town -  quite poignant. James Franco was a big surprise, a very engaging shyster.
Lots of clever links to the original film/book. Sam Raimi put Bruce Campbell (his original "Evil Dead" hero) in a cameo as a Winkie guard. Lots on Raimi relatives in bit parts.
It was great to see Meg (Mila Kunis) from "Family Guy" kick some butt as the Wicked Witch of the West. Danny Elfman's music is always a joy.
Come on guys, it wasn't that bad!

Random Bali Travel Tips - taxis, body surfing, visas and being a cheap bastard

  • Sit as close to the front of the plane as possible. This means you are first off, avoiding long queues at the Visa On Arrival counter. Having US$25 (per person) on you will make life easier too.
  • If staying in Kuta, cheapest place for drinking water and tonic water (for the all important Duty Free vodka/gin and tonics watching the sunset) is Matahari Supermarket - Kuta Square.
  • Use metered taxis for the trip to the airport.
  • Every time I go to Bali I get a swimmer's ear (ear ache), whether it's in the surf or hotel pool. Pack a wad of Blu-tack and use as ear plugs. Works a treat. I have lost proper ear plugs in the rough surf.
  • Wear reef shoes when in the surf, water can get murky and there can be surprises (e.g. broken glass, old nappies/diapers from the beach). Don't be put off, the waves are worth it! Great for body surfing. 
  • Kuta/Legian, best time for body surfing is before the flags go up (often red) and the surfers and surfing schools arrive. Before 8:00 a.m. Before 7:00 ideally, only the locals are on the beach. Classic views of volcanoes to the north, before smoke from local burn offs/cloud arrives.
  • Don't pay hotel prices for Balinese Massage. One hour, full body in air conditioned comfort in numerous salons along Poppies Lane 1 or Poppies Lane 2 around 50, 000 rupiah ($5 Australian). Set price. Keep underwear on, don't expect 'a happy ending'. The girls ask you whether you want hard or soft massage. It's much better than beach massages where you have to negotiate a price, put up with sand in the oil, the heat and miscellaneous visiting vendors flogging beer, tee shirts or hair braiding.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Oooo, cut it out .....The glut of forensic pathology based TV shows

Channel surf any night of the week.... I'm pretty sure you are going to come up with a corpse on a slab sooner or later. Grand guignol television is tres popular. We obviously can't get enough of scalpels being inserted into dead flesh. From "Hannibal" to "Da Vinci's Demons", from 1880's "Ripper Street" to 1940's "Murder on the Homefront", the gorier the better. Even the Australians have combined historical drama with gore: the excellent "Doctor Blake Mysteries". A particularly nasty crushed body featured in the latest "Whitechapel".
The Brits do graphic, as well as gritty. "Silent Witness" has been laying them in aisles morgue since 1996. That's a lot of autopsies.
As Kenny Everett would lisp, "All in the best possible taste!".

Is British TV Crime Drama Better than U.S. TV Crime Drama?

Probably.
Throw me any good U.S. show and I'll put up a better U.K. offering (or original). The  U.K. shows I am prattling on about are all free-to-air television (as opposed to HBO and other U.S. cable networks).
Those C.S.I. <insert interesting U.S. city here> series are running out of puff.
You get more bang for your buck with British crime shows, particularly featuring psychos. Take a recent episode of BBC's "Silent Witness" (it started a decade before C.S.I Crapola started). You had a serial killer that made Joe Carroll from "The Following" look like Mr Rogers. All in two (1 hour each) episodes.
Take ITV's "Broadchurch" for superb character development. "Wire in the Blood" for tormented, gifted profilers, long before Will Graham in "Hannibal". "Waking the Dead" also blitzes its U.S. counterparts.
Then you have three more ingredients to add more texture - the British class system, historical locations and eccentric (nutbags?) characters. Take "Midsommer Murders" (please, some wags would say).
Take the Brit's heritage of murder whodunits - Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K.Chesterton, Ruth Rendell). The Brits do 'gritty' as well as graphic. Take old episodes of "The Bill" - even minor characters were so well cast, the acting so polished. I remember the high quality of 1960's shows like "Z Cars" and "Softly, Softly".

Don't get me wrong, there are a few standout U.S. stars of the genre: I'm sure you can think of others...like "The Sopranos" and "The Wire" (both cable, though).
"Hannibal" is remarkably brave and multi-layered for free-to-air television. "Dexter" (HBO) was groundbreaking, hope the last season goes out with a bang.
Then to add confusion, we have U.K./U.S. co-productions like the delightful "Ripper Street".

Friday, 24 May 2013

"Hannibal" NBC TV Series Episode 9, "Tros Normand" review, spoilers

Best murder tableau yet.
The towering body part totem pole on the wintry beach confirms what a visually arresting show this is. God, it looks cold on that beach.
A great episode. Abigail (Kacey Rohl) is back. We find out she used to procure girls for dad so he wouldn't have the desire to kill her. Obnoxious tabloid parasite Freddie Lounds is sniffing around again. Invited, with her new bestie Abigail, to Lecter's dinner party. She is a vegetarian - wouldn't ya know it?
Hannibal takes advantage of a vulnerable Will - Will to keep stum about the Nick Boyle arrangement with the doctor and Abigail.
What a great question psychologist Dr Bloom asks Will, "Do you feel unstable?" He vigorously nods.
Great to see stalwart Lance Henriksen (remember Bishop, the loyal android in "Aliens") as the cold psycho sitting back complacently in his Naugahyde armchair. But Will has the last laugh.

Interesting side note: Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen became good friends while "King Arthur" (2004) according to Bryan Fuller in an interview for "Time Out". Fuller wanted to capitalise on that link when he cast these two.

"Wake in Fright" 1971 An Australian classic movie few have seen.

I first saw this film as a teenager in 1971. I remember the kangaroo shooting scene was quite confronting. Lots of men behaving badly. This is a film, once seen, will never be forgotten. It is rarely on television.
Called "Outback" in the U.S, it was adapted from the kickass Kenneth Cook novel, "Wake in Fright" (1961).
This movie is about the ugly side of Australia. Mateship gone feral. Think Crocodile Dundee meets "Wolf Creek". Set in Broken Hill, but don't expect the Broken Hill of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". A horrific "fish out of water" story about a young English school teacher stuck in a country town.
The Australian film industry (thanks to government subsidies) was going through a  rebirth in the early 1970's. Strange that two of the seminal films of the era (both about inland Australia) were directed by foreigners. This film was directed by Canadian, Ted Kotcheff (his biggest movie was "Rambo, First Blood"). In the same year you had the cult movie "Walkabout" by Englishman, Nicholas Roeg ("Don't Look Now", "The Man Who Fell To Earth").

Bear in mind about 85% of Australians live around the coast in urban areas. The outback is a strange and unwelcoming place. Some fear it. This makes "Wake in Fright" all the more powerful.
"Wake in Fright" stars newcomer Gary Bond, horror/villain actor Donald Pleasence (he is stunning in this), Jack Thompson (at the start of his career) and ocker icon Chips Rafferty (his final, and finest movie).
In 2009 it was digitally remastered. The original editor was used. Original reels were found rusting in a U.S. store room. The Australian National Film and Sound Archives are custodians of this masterpiece.
Watch the entire restored film on You Tube. 
A gift from Australia.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Remember Abbott and Costello?

Image Courtesy Wikipedia.org
I was watching an episode from Abbott and Costello's TV series (circa 1952). The one about the haunted house - moving candles, gorilla and secret panels. Corny but quite delightful. My 19 year old daughter was also in the room (multi-tasking with her laptop). She started laughing at the shtick with the gorilla and the revolving panel. She made some comment about seeing something similar on "Family Guy". Generation Y learns History, society and culture through "The Simpsons", "Futurama" and "Family Guy" references.

Bud and Lou were recreating their routines from burlesque days. They even entered and exited using curtains. There is something naive and wonderful about their routines. The impeccable timing, the innocent humour, the glances at the audience.
More please.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

"Bates Motel" Series 1 final, Episode 10 "Midnight" review

Let me say from the start, Vera Farmiga is amazing as Norma Bates. She is such an accomplished actress. So good in Clooney's "Up in the Air" (2009).
In this final episode, one minute it's screwball comedy delivery, then she is telling Norman about sibling incest and a violent father. The Bates family Christmas dinner must have been a laff riot.
Lots of great bits this week:
The target practice scene with Dylan and Norma was endearing. Midnight at the docks.... don't piss off Sheriff Romano! At screwy Miss Watson's place ... Norman becomes 'teacher's pet' - the pivotal scene when Norman hears mom (in his head) tell him, "You know what you have to do....." The die is cast. No turning back now. The cliffchanger, does Norman top his teacher?
A great end to Series 1, paving the way for more Bates twistedness/White Pine Bay corruption in Series 2.

I'm in.

Monday, 20 May 2013

"House of Cards" BBC 1990 vs "House of Cards" 2013 Netflix

Granted - Netflix's "House of Cards" is terrific television with Kevin Spacey commanding each scene. But check out the original "House of Cards"(1990), set in post Thatcher Britain. The BBC version comprised four episodes, each lasting 55 minutes. I think in Australia it was shown over two nights, 2 hours each night.

Ian Richardson (playing the Chief Whip of the Conservative Party) does his marvellous bit addressing the camera, outlining his machinations, just as Kevin Spacey has fun with the audience.

Michael Dobbs (later Baron Dobbs) was the Deputy Chairman of the Tory Party then Chief of Staff in the Thatcher Government. He wrote a trilogy, later adapted for television: "To Play the King" (1993) and "The Final Cut" (1995). Andrew Davies was on board in both "House of Cards" adaptations. Both versions chronicle F.U.'s rise to power, Francis Urquhart becoming Prime Minister in the final instalment of the BBC series as Francis Underwood is President in Season 3 (2015). Francis's wife has a more important role in the Netflix version (brilliantly played by Robin Wright).
Creator and head writer of the US series, Beau Willimon, has enriched and deepened "House of Cards", creating nearly 39 hours (3 seasons, each with 13 episodes) of engrossing television.

"The Revolution Will Be Televised" vs "The Chaser"

I was watching the TV BAFTA's last week and saw an award given to "The Revolution Will Be Televised". I then caught up with the show (Episode 1 of 6). This is prankster TV par excellence. In a word, smart TV.
Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein are the daredevils with microphones but with rapier sharp political and social commentary. This is hilarious stuff as well as having a powerful message.
My wife and I looked at each other and said, "The Chaser" (the Australian satire equivalent). Also a bit of the ambush style of Norman Gunston (Garry MacDonald) from the mid 1970's. Never could get into Ali G and Sacha Baron Cohen's antics.
The set up outside MI 6 was priceless. As was the Saint Tony Blair try on, the London Olympics tee-shirts and the clamping of embassy cars. There was not a flat spot in the first episode - everything worked - unlike some of The Chaser's material.
Prowse and Rubinstein are terrific, hope they have a big future.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

"Da Vinci's Demons" Series 1, Episode 6, "The Devil" review

Well, they pulled all the stops out tonight! Turkish baths/saunas, big dicks, gladiators, pissed off Popes, Vlad the Impaler (the third?), bone chandeliers and a game of Kerplunk with an Abyssinian dude in the middle. But it all made sense in the end - Leo's quest for the Book Of Leaves' secret. A shame to see my favourite villain, Riario (Blake Ritson), get thumped by the Pope. Hope he bears a grudge.
Looking forward to next week. Perhaps with less full frontal male nudity. Made me feel rather inferior.

On second thoughts, the dude with the anaconda-like schlong in the sauna ("like a baby's arm" once intoned Austin Powers - perhaps it was his dad, Nigel Powers)....well it was probably a prosthetic (like Mark Wahlberg had in the final scene of "Boogie Nights"). The well-endowed Da Vinci character had to hold on to it while he ran, so as not to injure himself or anyone else. This has gone far enough, end of post.

Friday, 17 May 2013

"Hannibal" NBC TV series Series1, Episode 8, "Fromage" review

Nothing cheesy about this episode. It is a pity NBC seems to have lost faith in the show. Such an inventive murder/performance this week - Tobias playing the corpse's vocal chords like a cello. That violin teacher/maker really put guts into his job! Sorry.
A shame we lose Franklin, he was an intriguing patient, geekily played by Dan Fogler. Will and Joe seem sceptical about the fight with Tobias in Lecter's office. Poor Will seems to be having a breakdown - hearing noises, ripping up masonry, chasing coyotes. At least he has the consolation of the lovely Dr Bloom's attentions.
Every episode features Hannibal's culinary skills, that dessert tonight looked fantastic! How come the normally meticulous Lecter was unshaven in a few scenes ... did Tobias get him rattled?
Fingers crossed NBC renews this classy show.

Why are movies so damn L-O-N-G these days?

Is it to sell more pop corn and crap?
It is rare for a Hollywood movie to be under 100 minutes, usually around 2 hours, even comedies. Take   Judd Apatow's "This is 40".This very slight movie went on for 134 minutes!!!
Hollywood movies in the 30's, 40's, 50's could tell a story in 100 minutes or less. "The Wizard of Oz" 101 minutes, "Casablanca" 102 minutes, "His Girl Friday" 92 minutes, "The Maltese Falcon" 100 minutes.
"Warm Bodies" (2013) is an example of economical film-making. We had a zombie apocalypse, a love story and post apocalyptic redemption and rebirth, all in 97 minutes (including 2 minutes of end credits).
Another example "Philomena" (2014), a beautifully told tale in 98 minutes.
More please.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

"Bates Motel" A and E Series 1 Episode 9 "Underwater" 2013 review

"Why do crazy people keep gravitating towards me?" cries Norma. The funniest line of the night. Her confrontation with Ra'uf and the rest of the stoners was hilarious. One told her to "Chill".
An irate Norma does a Ruth Buzzi/Artie Johnson "Laugh In" tribute (attacks the real estate guy with her hand bag). Seeking consolation, she beds down with Norman.
Norman bonds with his teacher, Miss Watson (with dress and make up like she stepped out of the early 1960's). Dylan and Bradley also do some bonding. Olivia Cooke plays a funny scene after Emma has scarfed a 'herbal' cupcake.
The old killer in the backseat routine is used in the final scene. Come on, Norma, always check before getting into your vehicle.
Next week's series finale should be a doozy.

"Vicious" ITV Episode 3 review Please Sirs!

Pl-lease Sirs! (apologies to the wonderful Esmonde/Larbey TV series)
I gave this stinker another go. I need not have bothered. The running jokes aren't worth running with - the geriatric pussy, slagging off Violet, the vain, hammy actor. Did Jacobi and McKellen sack their agents after viewing this debacle? Juvenile dialogue like "is that dog shit I smell or just you?" could have been written for a junior high school skit. The "Downton Abbey" bit part involving potatoes caused a smile, but that's it. A lame resolution to the episode too.
Only rarely do you see a glint in Sir Ian McKellen's eye or a bit of business from Sir Derk Jacobi - a glimmer of what might have been. This series features one dimensional characters and tired situations. I won't bother with it again.
"Quel dommage" as Mr Clary would say.

P.S. The opening title music "Never Can Say Goodbye" is the Jimmy Somerville/The Communards version (I remember Jimmy from Bronski Beat). The music is probably the highlight of this meagre show.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The most overused question at the moment: "How's your day been?"

I am so sick to death of  hearing:
"So, how's your day been?"
This hackneyed icebreaker thought up by some marketing guru/psychologist to keep the punters relaxed or to fill 'dead air' is well past its use-by-date. Salespeople, telephone operators, checkout staff have been using it for a few years, now it has filtered down to anyone. It's just lazy claptrap. Less is more.
Here endth my grumpy rant.

"Da Vinci's Demons" Series 1, Episode 5 "The Tower" 2013 review


This week, a totally outlandish load of bollocks, but rollicking good fun. We had the Spanish Inquisition (“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”), Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain visiting the Medicis with party-boy Torquemada (as Mel Brook's said, "...ya can't talk 'im outta anything!"), a performance of “The Decameron” (Italy’s “Canterbury Tales” /Carry on Florence), Leo being bi-curious, a courtroom drama, a jail break (courtesy of Leo’s bats with bombs) and a spot of bestiality.

Leo’s Superglueing of the magistrate to Porky Pig – the act of having sex with a pig being shown to the city of Florence, reminded me of Charlie Brooker’s marvellous “Black Mirror” (Series 1, Episode 1) with the PM being forced to commit the same act in front of the population on live TV.
Leo’s dad finally shows some affection for his boy and again we get the intriguing flashback to Leo’s revelation in the watery cave. I liked Leo's discourse on Nature - Florence meaning flowering. The Batman-like projection of the man-on-pig action into the night sky, complementing the performance of “The Decameron” was delightful.
Inventive Scriptwriters – 10, Historians – nil.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

"Hannibal" NBC Series 1, Episode 7 "Sorbet" review

This episode was a real feast, beginning with an amazing scene showing a journey through the opera singer's vocal cords, Hannibal in the audience looking uncharacteristically emotional, symbolic red ribbons splashed across the stage. The singer was played by Broadway great, Ellen Greene ("Little Shop of Horrors"). For "The X-Files" tragics we had Gillian Anderson (looking more like Jerry Hall) as Lecter's quirky psychiatrist, Dr Du Maurier. Her comment to Hannibal that he was "wearing his person suit" was illuminating. At the same time we have Lecter analysing his Michael Jackson worshipping patient.

The subplot about the organ removal psycho was fascinating. Parallelling organ removal with USB cables??? Will does a particularly graphic mental crime reconstruction. Again we have the mystical deer, central in Will's thoughts.
Hannibal remarks to his socialite friends, "Who's hungry?" The dinner party this week featured pate, with a lots of preparation details.
Good job, Bryan Fuller/Jesse Alexander (script) and veteran director James Foley.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Hotel room confessions by A. Guest


Whenever my wife and I stay in a hotel, there are certain things we do:

  1. Rearrange the furniture if necessary. In the above photo we have moved the couch, rug, chair and coffee table because for some reason it was facing away from the view. We move everything back before we check out.
  2. Smell the room .... dead giveaway for dampness or poor air conditioning.
  3. Open the curtains - view of car park? close to tennis court noise? kids' pool noise?
  4. Check fridge temperature. Take out the mini bar items to make room for our booze/nibbles. Those tamper-proof minibars are a pain, but seem to be dying out.
  5. Check out the pillows - like foam/hate feather. Ring Housekeeping.
  6. Turn on television. Check picture quality, access to cable, remote control is functioning.
  7. Make ice if there is a freezer in fridge or find ice maker room.
  8. Ask how flexible checkout time is, the day before we leave.
  9. Tidy up, clear surfaces before the maids comes in, they have a shitty enough job as it is.
  10. Check hotel internet policy (download limit, complimentary wifi?).
  11. Don't wait to have a bitch session on trip advisor, complaining days later. Ring Guest Services or go to Reception if something is wrong, but say it nicely. No one likes a scene.


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Body surfing and snorkelling in South Lombok, Indonesia (written by an old fart)

Surfers' beach, 7 min walk  from Novotel Lombok across a very rickety footbridge - think "Indiana Jones" - ice cold Bintang (large) A$3 from huts (left corner)
When the Novotel was built here in 1997 (about 3 km east of Kuta Beach) they picked the perfect spot. Azure waters, distant breakers, white sand, incredible rocky outcrops. From the hotel beach you can snorkel out to where the waves are breaking, then catch a few waves body surfing on your way back. Catching a wave, while multi-coloured coral flashes past your mask is quite an experience.
Minimum equipment: reef shoes (a must for low tide), snorkel and mask, tee-shirt/blockout (the sun can be a killer on your neck and shoulders). Those hand flipper thingies would be good also.

Next big thing: 20 minutes east from the Novotel is a beach called Tanjung Aan. Turquoise water, whitest sand stretching for 2 km or more. Forget Senggigi Beach in North Lombok! Now the new airport is finished in Praya, watch out for luxury resorts sprouting up in the coming years. At the moment there are just shacks and warung.

"Bates Motel" Season 1, Episode 8 "A Boy and his Dog", A and E , TV series, review, no spoilers

How appropriate for Mr Decody, Emma's taxidermist dad, to have a Hitchcock like English accent. Norman has a new hobby - taxidermy ... things are fitting in nicely now. What about when he exploded with his well-meaning teacher. Freddie Highmore plays the tortured Norman like a tightly wound spring  The strength of this series lies in the talent of two leads, Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore.

I liked Emma's (Olivia Cooke) high school toilet confrontation: Emma - 1, Mean Girls - 0.
Mr Abernathy also showed his true colours, went from quiet menace with Norma to popping a little surprise in her bed. Intrigued by sleazy Sheriff Romano's mention of the "big boss" to Norma (if my ears didn't deceive me). Isn't the actor a dead ringer for Anthony Perkins? Dylan, the prodigal son, is turning out to be Mr Nice Guy. Yes, I googled "trimmers".

Monday, 6 May 2013

The OTHER Kuta, Kuta Beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Novotel private pool villa, beachfront, quite reasonable price
Australians love Kuta (Bali). Kuta = hair braiding, tattoos on old Australians, Bintang tank tops, more tatts, "Kiss me Ketut" and "I f*ucked Rhonda" tee-shirts and more tatts on old leathery skin.

There is another Kuta, in Lombok (a 20 minute plane ride away, then 20 mins by taxi from the new Praya Airport, South Lombok). It is a good alternative to Senggigi Beach in the north. Clear skies, nice snorkelling, spectacular rocky outcrops and distant surf.
Middle class Russians have discovered Bali and Lombok. As have the Javanese from Jakarta.
Only a handful of Australians at the Novotel Lombok. Oh..... and no tatts.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

"Da Vinci's Demons" Episode 4 "The Magician" starz TV series review

Who would have made the link between a pomegranate and a cluster bomb? Lots going on in this episode. Grandpa Medici - "the magician", Lucrezia's machinations (stitching up Becchi and now Leonardo), Riario's funky spectacles, a nasty public execution scene called "The Wheel" (this was the Renaissance answer to reality TV), the Medici's wealth from alum (fascinating historical detail) and realising that younger bro Medici has integrity and a bit of nous.
Enjoyed the flashback about 14 year old Leo. Don't trust fellow artista Bottocelli. Leo arrested as a sodomite! Where does he find the time?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

My favourite TV theme music/openings


  • "The Name of the Game" 1968-1971 Dave Grusin composer
  • "Search" 1972-1973 Dominic Frontierre
  • "The Wild,Wild West" 1965-1969 Richard Markowitz
  • "Hawaii Five-0" 1968-1980 Morton Stevens
  • "The Father Brown Mysteries" 1974 ITV Jack Parnell
  • "The Persuaders" 1971 ITV John Barry
  • "The Avengers" 1961-1969 ITV Laurie Johnson
  • "Banacek" 1972-1974 Billy Goldenberg music with George Peppard rowing up? down? the Charles River

Friday, 3 May 2013

"Vicious" ITV TV series Episode 1 review

What a waste of talent! Three of the greatest actors of the British stage - Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Derek Jacobi, Frances de la Tour, the creator of "Will & Grace" - it seemed like a winner. The script was juvenile. And the worst sin ....dull.
Only one mildly funny bit when the two old queens reared back like Dracula when the curtains were opened. That was it.  I've laughed more in old episodes of the 1970's "Father, Dear Father".
I wanted to like this. Didn't these two great thespians read the script? Jacobi was so wonderful in "Last Tango in Halifax" too.

"Hannibal" Series 1, Episode 6, "Entree", NBC TV show, review, few spoilers

This was an intricately structured episode, blending monochrome flashbacks with Jack and the very savvy trainee, Miriam. Eddie Izzard (last seen in as grandpa in Bryan Fuller's "Mockingbird Lane" pilot) has a juicy role as Dr Gideon, psychopath. We all know who the real Chesapeake Ripper is, don't we?
Interesting contrasting scenes: Jack's compassion, then Gideon's cruel mania. Isn't that Dr Chiltern a charmer - smarmy bastard. Hannibal has his number, though.
Are you enjoying Hannibal's weekly dinner parties? They are delicious fun. "Nice to have an old friend for dinner" is Lecter's fun pun of the night. And Lecter finally shows his true colours in the final few minutes. Main Course in a few weeks?
This show is a winner. Pity about the TV ratings.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

"Bates Motel" Episode 7 "The Man in Number 9" Series 1 TV show review

This show had a different pace from last week's episode. It focused on character development rather than action. Lots of interesting tidbits, though. Liked the spooky noises in the night at Norma's place. The stray dog and Norman were a great team. Also liked Norman's erotic bedroom fantasy with Bradley. Mr Abernathy (Jere Burns) is a great creepy addition to the mix.
I enjoyed the Hitchcock reference of the cheesy back projection in the car with Norma and Emma. Hope it was intentional rather than a question of budget. Both Norma and Nancy Drew (Emma) are obsessed with Norman. Who knew they would be a team?
The unrequited love scene at  Bradley's door and the dog-meets-speeding car scene cemented Norman's downward spiral into residency at Chateau Weirdo.
Next episode?
Dylan and Bradley hook up? Norman takes pooch to Emma as she has a taxidermy connection. Referencing "Psycho" 1960.
Mid series questions:
What's the story with the sheriff covering up for his deputy? What happened to Jiao? What sort of "sales" is creepy Mr Abernathy group-booking Bates Motel for?

"The Following" Series 1 final Episode 15 "The Final Chapter" review, spoilers

I was expecting everything to be tied up in with a neat little bow in the series finale. Joe is obviously set to return in Season 2 - dental records must be easy to fake - he has so many followers, one must have contacts in the dental records business. A spunky, long haired Emma (Valorie Curry) appeared in a Mobile diner in one of the final scenes. This kid is a real asset. Ryan's ex-girl friend provided a nice little surprise ending. Once again, everything is up in the air. Claire and Ryan are bleeding but not out.
Poor Parker was the scared cow - at least she made peace with her weird sect parents in her last minutes.
I get the impression this show is always going to always leave the viewer up in the air, when we want closure.
Oh well,  I still enjoyed series one. Hope Joe's writing skills improve in Series 2 - as Ryan said, "you were a great professor but ..." a crap writer. I think he dissed Poe, too!
As an ex-teacher, I've always liked the saying, "Those who can, DO; those who can't, TEACH."