Matilda (Film 1996)

Matilda is a sweet and smart six year old with the worst of parents. Dany DeVito and Rhea Perlman ham it up to the max as her parents and are clearly having fun. Danny DeVito directs, and successfully keeps Raol Dahl’s dark humour. Children get tortured, thrown and abused in way only Dahl can do.

It’s a funny, sweet and very entertaining film (5/5)

Mara Elizabeth Wilson, (Matilda) now 28 has been in ‘Gilmore Girls’.

Embeth Davidtz, who plays Matilda’s teacher was in Mad Men (2009-2012).

Pam Ferris plays the Agatha Trunchbull, the tyrannical principal. She starred on television as Ma Larkin in The Darling Buds of May and Aunt Marge in ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’.

1990 Movies

Best films of the year 1990

Here, in the order I saw them are my films of the year.

ARIA
Best combination of music and film since Bruno Bozzello’s film
“Allegro Non Troppo”.

Abyss
Since Aliens 2 I have waited for the next James Cameron film.
Although not as good as Aliens 2, still one of the best this year. I
think that the film could have been just as good without the alien
involvement at the end. As for the ending, a real let down. However if it is re-released in it’s uncut form I will see it again. For me, this film shows Cameron as currently the best director at the suspense-action genre.

Earth Girls are easy
Best comedy (American). Even if it is directed by a pom (Julien Temple I think).

High Hopes
Best Comedy (British). At least I think I’m supposed to laugh at
the English class system being ripped into.

A Dry White Season
Best drama. A success in that it doesn’t give a rose-coloured end.
Sobering viewing.

Hunt for Red October
Best war film. Almost believable, suspense film.

Total Recall
Science Fiction film of the year. The boys at industrial light &
magic really pulled finger for the effects in this film. Probably cost
more to make than our national deficit.

Robocop 2 & Die Hard 2
Great cardboard cut-out characters fighting against all odds.
Die Hard wins the award for the most imaginative way to destroy an
aircraft. The end of Robocop has the best stop-motion animation work done since Linda Hamilton survived the metal monster in Terminator.

Dick Tracy
If I was pressed for a film of the year it would be this one. Much better than the over-rated Batman, the cinematography and design of this film is flawless. This film is a statement of the art of the film maker.

Turkey of the year :
Navy Seals
Nothing but a vehicle for Tom Cruise. The action scenes contain
zilch in the way of suspense. By the half way mark I was bored and
had already guessed the end.

And while I am on the subject, I can still not see what anyone saw
in “sex, lies and videotape”. This was the most boring american “art”
film I have ever seen. Very self indulgent, the characters appear to come out of a psychology text.

 

Deponia

Deponia (2012)
Rufus, ill-tempered and entirely too convinced of his own greatness, lives in the most remote sector of the garbage-covered planet Deponia. He dreams of a better life in the floating cities of wealth and beauty high above the planet surface. When a lovely young woman falls from these privileged spheres down into a neighboring trash heap, Rufus sees his chance to escort her back home. However, getting her there safe and sound will involve a wild chase across Deponia full of twists, turns and mystifying mix-ups…

Chaos on Deponia (2012)
Some time has passed since the last game, but Rufus is still attempting to escape the trash-filled Deponia to the skybound Elysium. The lovely Goal returns to the planet’s surface, and her damaged brain implant continues to spell trouble for itts inhabitants, this time in a literal split-personality kind of way that greatly impacts puzzle solutions and her relationship with Rufus as well.

Goodbly Deponia (2013)
Reaching Elysium and saving Deponia seem to be just within arm’s reach for Rufus and Goal. But Rufus’s innate talent for chaos and mayhem also seems to have reached a whole new level. And so, instead of his great triumph, a crippling setback awaits. For the first time, Rufus is ridden by self-doubt. Of course, he wouldn’t be Rufus if he let that get the best of him. To tackle this new heap of problems, however, one Rufus just isn’t enough…

 

Review:

The first game was OK, the main character, Rufus being a tolerable jerk. The great cartoon styled graphics and the other characters balanced the nature of Rufus. He seemed to be at least apparent of his own flaws.

In the second shorter game he had become repulsive and starting to get really annoying. However in the third game, he continues in the same vein, his unrelenting revolting attitude brings the tone of the game down from being a comedy, to borderline racist and offensive.

As adventure games, there is are faults in all of them. One solved puzzle does not lead naturally to a clue for the next. So when you finally stumble on the solution for a situation, there’s never a sense of progression, of having achieved – instead the game either bends the plot to have your success be a failure, or it just ticks a mystery box and then leaves you equally lost.

The game’s penultimate chapter – an absolutely enormous section – has you playing as three different characters, each in their own sprawling location, with an inventory that’s shared to ensure maximum confusion and dead-ends. Figuring out what to do next is a needle in a haystack, and so very often those needles are entirely nonsensical.  So many puzzles require you gather a bunch items without being given any clue why you’re after them .

It’s such a huge failure of adventure design.

If it wasn’t for the walk-through to get through the narrative, I would have abandoned the series after the first game.

 

Timeless

John Abercrombie
Timeless (1975)

This is one of the first artist’s I came across in the 1980’s during my ECM explorations. It was purchased in Christchurch’s ‘Radar Records’ in vinyl, probably the best record store in the city at the time.

It was Abercrombie’s debut album as leader, recorded in 1974 with Jan Hammer (keyboards) and Jack DeJohnette (drums). There is a bit of ‘conventional’ jazz guitar, but with Jan Hammer on early synthesizers it moves to a more European feel, closer to Schulze and the Berlin School of electronics.

The best track is the title track.

 

Flashman

Flash for Freedom (1971)
Flashman at the Charge (1973)
Flashman in the Great Game (1975)
Flashman and the Redskins (1982)
Flashman and the Dragon (1985)
Flashman and the Mountain of Light (1990)
Flashman on the March (2005)

The Flashman series illustrates the benefits and drawbacks of first person narration. Flashman is a fiction character, born as the bully in Tom Brown’s Schooldays he goes on to enter the military and travel the world having unlikely adventures from India to American and Afrrica. He is the unreliable narrator, full of himself, arrogant and unreliable but thanks to luck and others manages to get out of every problem he falls into.
The first few books are great, fast paced adventures that always get you wondering what will happen next. Then, around book four or five the internal monologues take over. Instead of plot advancement, they drag everything down. Explaining everything too much, going on for pages and just being generally boring.

Read the first three books.

Lexx 2.20

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Lexx 2.20 – End of the Universe (23 April 1999)

In a last-ditch bid to save the light universe from Mantrid’s drones, 790 discovers (way too late), that he can create self replicating drones of his own, to fight Mantrid. Kai and 790 hatch a cunning plan to distract Mantrid, long enough for him to make the mistake of moving too many drones around them, thus engulfing them all in a giant black hole, collapsing the light universe, and shooting the Lexx into the Dark Zone. Lyekka’s pod is damaged, and she demonstrates yet more inexplicable talents, transforming herself into a Lyekka drone, and pulling Mantrid from his interface. She is killed in the process, somehow lodging part of herself in Stan’s mind.

This is the very definition of ‘Deus ex Machina’ (god from the machine). The term means a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. 790 gets replicating power and Lyekka transforms. Apart from this rather contrived ending to season 2, it’s satisfying in the large battle scenes and resolution to the Mantrid story.
(4/5)

 

 

Lexx 2.18-19

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Lexx 2.18 – Brigadoom
As the crew of the Lexx desperately flee Mantrid’s army of robot drones, they encounter a strange, floating theater in space. Once they are inside, an elaborate musical production begins that recounts the history of Kai and his people, the Brunnen-G. Kai and Xev both find themselves taking part in the musical: Kai as himself when he was alive, Xev as Kai’s unnamed lover. At the episode’s end the musical’s message of proudly fighting even in the face of sure defeat convinces Stanley Tweedle to join his friends in battle against Mantrid. The inspiration for this episode is the musical Brigadoon, where a cursed town only appears one day every hundred years.

Not as bad as it sounds. The music is good, very Lloyd-Weber and more importantly the play convinces Stanley that they need to change their tactics. (4/5)

Lexx 2.19 – Brizon (16 April 1999)
In an attempt to fight the Mantrid drones, the crew seek assistance from anyone still alive in the rapidly shrinking universe and conveniently find Brizon, Mantrid’s teacher, mentor and predecessor in the role of Supreme Bio-Vizier. Brizon is little more than an engineered, animated corpse, who hijacks Xev’s liver, and tries to extort sex from her (hopefully using Stan’s penis). He continues his amusing rivalry with Mantrid. His plan to defeat Mantrid involves capturing a working drone arm and activating a code he had previously installed in Mantrid’s machine’s programming. Mantrid plays dead for a little while, and then announces that it was all his devious plan from the start.

In which a new villian is introduced, does some sleazy things and then exits.  (3/5)

 

Lexx 2.16-17

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Lexx 2.16 – The Web
The crew learn that the only way to escape Mantrid is to flee to the Dark Zone. The only remaining portal is at the exact centre of the universe, and Kai warns them that many bizarre and improbable things exist there. A sinister, alien creature captures the Lexx and possesses the ship’s hapless captain, Stanley Tweedle. The ship’s robot 790, attempts to alert the crew that something is wrong with Stan, but by now they’ve all gotten so used to 790 abusing Stan that nobody takes 790’s warnings about Stan seriously. The Web tells the story in a relatively straightforward manner, while The Net fills in the background material, explaining various plot threads and introducing others.

Lexx 2.17 – The Net
The Net fills in the background material, explaining various plot threads and introducing others from the previous episode, “The Web.” The two episodes are very similar and share a large number of scenes, possibly due to budget constraints.

These two episodes tell the same story with slight differences. The second is unnecessary. Not a bad story, but a bit too strung-out with a weak plot. (2/5)

36

36 (pronounced three-six) is the ambient / experimental project of Dennis Huddleston from the United Kingdom.

The music draws on the history of Brian Eno and Steve Roach to create soundscapes in the void between music and random noise.

Sometimes orchestral in nature, or more like electronic static, it’s always engaging and interesting at low or high volume.

A lot of the music on his  site is free.

Martha

Dr Who: The Story of Martha
by Dan Abnett (2010)

 

This novel only makes sense after seeing the end of the third season (2007) of the new Doctor Who. It fills in the tale of Martha’s year long wandering around the world telling people about the Doctor and his wonderful stories. The story brings you to the beginning of the episode the Last of the Time Lords.
The book is actually a series of short stories written in a collaboration and strung together to create a complete novel. Because of this, it’s not as good as a book wholly written by Dan Abnett, who is one of my favorite modern writers.

The best thing about the book is that it fills in the big question of what happens to Martha.