Monthly Archives: December 2008

Kevin Smith is My Hero.

I few days ago the lovely Chris Bright took apart Kevin Smith’s latest film, Zack and Miri make a Porno. I really enjoyed the film, so i felt the need to defend it. Zack and Miri is great fun. I hate writing, more of a talking man, so fuck it, thats all you’re getting til the podcast comes out. What make Kevin Smith my hero though is his openness, and his ability to engage with his fans. He runs a forum, which these days is not too groundbreaking for tv shows, but is still pretty rare for big time film makers. Rather than just use the forum to drive traffic and hock shit, the guy actually joins the conversations. He posts Lolcats in the lolcats thread, defends Macs in the Mac vs PC thread, and is generally just another user of the site. More importantly, in the recent Zack and Miri threads he hasnt been delete posts that say the film was crap, or the marketing was terrible, he’s responded to them. But it’s his podcasts that really are fantastic. In episode 68 of Smodcast, Kevin Smith and his producer Scott Moiser sit down and try and work out why Zack and Miri made far less money than it should have. Its a frank and heartbreakingly funny discussion, something so rare in an industry of bullshit press releases. They never really get to the answer, but they didn’t really need to. The Halloween release date ensured the target demographic for the film were out all weekend getting shit-faced, the word “Porno” did the rest. Its a damn shame, because this is probably one of Kevin’s best films. When the film finally gets released in bloody February here, i urge everyone to see it at the cinema, and give Kevin the kind of opening weekend box office he deserved. I will, and I’ve already seen the film 3 times. Oh, and the guy is even on twitter:

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Kevin & Seth Make A Poor, No-good Movie

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Since his directorial debut in 1994 with Clerks, Smith has been ranked among the likes of Quentin Tarantino and the Coens as having provided some of the most quotable dialogue in movie history.His fondness for comics, contraband, pornography and pointless observational humour catapulted him to cult-status among geeks and stoners everywhere.His 1995 follow-up Mallrats confirmed his reputation, and remains one of my favourite comedy movies of all-time.For the man who gave birth to a new breed of anti-hero in Jay and Silent Bob, discovered Jason Lee and even made Ben Affleck funny, it seemed that Kevin Smith could do no wrong.Unfortunately, as with all good things in Hollywood, this shortly came to an end and Kevin Smith movies became progressively worse and worse.Smith’s first attempt at modern romance in Chasing Amy showed potential, his return to form with Dogma was appreciated but not as highly regarded and while Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back was a commercial success, in comparison to his earlier work, it sucked massive balls.I will completely ignore the fact that Jersey Girl and Clerks 2 were ever released – I hate them so much.When news broke of Zack and Miri Make A Porno, I couldn’t help but be a little excited at Smith’s apparent return to what he does best – frequent course language, nudity and dick jokes.The premise sounded promising and with the addition of funny-man Seth Rogen and the adorable Elizabeth Banks, I was ready to bank on a sure thing.So when a friend called me on the weekend to go and watch a copy he’d downloaded, I quickly dropped what I was doing, grabbed a six-pack from the fridge and trundled over.And while I was very impressed by such a high-quality download, I’m afraid to report that the movie itself was a steaming pile of shit.I’m sure that you can grasp some idea of the plot from the title. It tells the story of housemates and life-long friends Zack and Miriam, who after attending their ten-year high school reunion are left with the horrible feeling that they have never amounted to much in life.As their financial situation goes from bad to worse, the two conclude that the only way to settle their debts and make something of themselves is to film a porno.It seems Rogen has finally reached the inevitable point of overplaying and underselling his ‘lazy stoner with a quick wit and heart of gold,’ and looks to be following in the footsteps of director Smith as a one-trick pony. (See also Will Ferrell and Guy Ritchie)With his recent blockbuster success and growing fan-base, it seems that Rogen has been given the green light to improvise and elaborate as much as possible, and while this tactic paid off in the company of the talented Paul Rudd, by himself Rogen struggles to provide the same kind of wit and resorts to simply raising his voice and yelling a lot. (See also Will Ferrell)Elizabeth Banks is enjoyable as Miri, Zack’s attractive but completely platonic best friend. After memorable appearances in 40 Year Old Virgin and Scrubs, Banks has established herself as one of the few comedic leading ladies, capable of holding their own in such a male-driven genre.It is Justin Long who steals the show as gay porn-star Brandon Saint Randy, star of such adult films as Glen And Garry Suck Ross’ Meaty Cock And Drop Their Hairy Nuts In His Eager Mouth and You’d Better Shut Your Mouth Or I’m Gonna Fuck It.His cameo alongside Superman ReturnsBrandon Routh is one of the funniest moments this year and the only real indication that Kevin Smith is still capable of delivering comedy gold.Unfortunately, this tiny glimpse of hope is short-lived; and during the entire last half of the film, Smith completely disregards the need for intelligent humour or even a structured narrative, opting for a woeful romantic sub-plot between the title characters.To be honest, I find it hard to judge Zak and Miri as a standard Kevin Smith film, when realistically; this is nothing more than a poor Judd Apatow knock-off.Smith blatantly attempts to replicate Apatow’s basic comedy formula – recruiting Apatow regulars in Rogan and Banks to lead an Apatow supporting cast including Justin Long, Craig Robinson and Gerry Bednob, in a traditional Apatow blend of gross-out comedy and heart-felt characters.Having tainted the success of his original masterpiece with Clerks 2 and losing a majority of fans with Jersey Girl, Zak and Miri is the third and final strike for Kevin Smith.While Banks and Long emerge unscathed, demonstrating strong comedic potential, it is Rogen who has suffered most with his first major flop. With an apparently much darker performance in Jody Hill’s upcoming comedy Observe and Report, hopefully Rogen can avoid becoming the typecast actor we’re all expecting him to be.All in all, Zak and Miri is not worth the price of a movie ticket, and as the Weinstein’s have decided to push back the Australian release to late February, I suggest finding a copy from alternate sources.2.5 stars

ABC iView Coming To a Decent ISP Near You!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been really enjoying The ABC’s iView service. I had completely forgotten about the service after it launched, but The Howard Years reminded me it existed, and that it was unmetered on iiNet, my ISP. Since (re)discovering the service, I’ve probably watched about 20 hrs of Aunty’s content.

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Well, good news everybody! According to The Australian, The ABC are experimenting with Hostworks to replace Akamai as their video streaming hosts. Apparently, because of the way the Akamai servers are set up, iiNet were the only ISP with technology smart enough to separate iView content from the shitload of other stuff on Akamai. Something about packet inspection and other nerd shit i don’t really understand. Anyhoo, the first ISP to step up and offer this easier to unmeter iView, is the thoroughly decent Internode, ISP to the nerds. If they can do it, then your ISP has no excuse. Apart from greed. Guess which ISP I’m think of now? EDIT: iPrimus have joined the party… Now if only iView would lay off the flash just a teeny bit…

Get Some Satisfaction

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While most kids grew up with Sesame Street and Gumby, I was raised by the likes of Mick Jagger, Van Morrison, Keith Moon and Eric Clapton. And while those kids sat in front of a television, I was usually in the lounge strumming AC/DC on a cardboard guitar, while my sister kicked drums behind me.As with all music buffs, my parents had the most influence on my current musical preferences. And while this cannot explain my fondness for hip-hop, when a friend asked if I preferred the Beatles or Rolling Stones, there was never any doubt – my mum loves the Stones and so do I.This opinion was set in stone after I hired Shine A Light, Martin Scorsese’s rockumentary that follows the Stones over two shows in New York during their  2006 “A Bigger Bang” tour.Shine A Light is categorically a concert film, straying from the typical documentary formula and leaving narrative at the door for a good show.Having used their music in no less than four of his films (the track Gimme Shelter alone features in Goodfellas, Casino and The Departed), Marty portrays the Stones through the eyes of a fan and his genuine excitement and admiration for their music and stage presence transfers to the screen.Historic footage and interviews document the band’s rise from humble beginnings. The contrast between the baby-faced Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and the drug-worn performers we see today is a true testament to how long these legends have been around.The pre-concert conversations between Jagger and Scorsese are fascinating, capturing two masters of their respective crafts, each trying to create the ultimate experience.And when the lights finally flood the stage and Keef swaggers out, strumming Jumpin’ Jack Flash, fans and critics alike will have no doubt that they are in for something big.Jagger emerges, prancing around the stage as a man in his twenties. His flamboyant gestures and sexual innuendos would be creepy for a man in his mid-sixties, if not for the iconic presence and menacing smirk.Richards defies belief, and while heavy drug and alcohol abuse have taken their toll on his looks, his ability with a guitar remains in tact. Richards is in it for the music. When he perfects a riff, a cheeky grin extends across his already lined face, which gives you the feeling you’ve just witnessed something special.At the ripe old age of 61, Ronnie Wood is the band’s youngest member. While easily holding his own on guitar, Wood enjoys entertaining the crowd, working the stage like a seal at the zoo.Charlie Watts looks completely lost most of the time. It is not until after each song, that he smiles to himself and winks to the camera with a sigh of relief, that you realise that he is just far too into the music to register what’s going on around him.Special guest Jack White holds his own against Jagger, lending his vocals and guitar to Lovin’ Cup. White is obviously a fan, and it is great to watch him hold back a childish grin as he plays next to his idols.Christina Aguilara’s incredible vocals on Live With Me make a powerful impression on the crowd and Jagger basically uses the three minutes she is on stage to touch her as much as possible.The show’s biggest highlight comes from legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy. Their rendition of Muddy Waters’ classic Champagne & Reefer is phenomenal. Richards and Guy bounce off one another as the crowd and the rest of the band’s ensemble watch in awe.The good thing about reviewing concert films is that instead of providing a plot summary, I can just give you the track listing; so here it is,Jumpin’ Jack FlashShatteredShe Was HotAll Down the LineLovin’ Cup (with Jack White)As Tears Go BySome GirlsJust My ImaginationFar Away EyesChampagne & Reefer (with Buddy Guy)Tumbling DiceYou Got the Silver (with Keith on vocals)Connection (with Keith on vocals, incomplete)Sympathy for the DevilLive With Me (with Christina Aguilera)Start Me UpBrown Sugar(I Can’t Get No) SatisfactionShine A Light (heard, not seen, during the end credits)It was disappointing that my favourite track Paint It Black didn’t make the final cut, but rest assure that it features as a bonus on the DVD.After 46 years, the Rolling Stones have surpassed generations of wannabe rock-stars and talentless boy-bands to become one of the greatest musical acts of all time and ultimately, Scorsese reveals how and why.For fans of the Stones, Shine A Light is essential viewing. For everyone else… well… I’m not sure why you would hire it, but if you weren’t a fan before, you probably will be.4/5 starsADDITIONAL VIEWINGU.S. Empire posted this great list of the top ten concert movies; you can check it out right here.Scorsese’s The Last Waltz made number two on the list, and I encourage everyone to check it out. The film follows The Band’s 1976 farewell concert and features guest performances from the likes of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood and Neil Young.