Wednesday, 3 April 2019

"The Name of the Rose" 2019 RAI TV mini series review

This is a totally satisfying adaption of Umberto Eco's 1980 masterwork. The 1986 film with Sean Connery was a mixed bag and a bit of a disappointment.
Even though this new version is a Italian/German production, the (mainly Italian) cast speak English.

John Turturro makes a perfect William of Baskerville, delivering the elegantly written lines with eloquence and grace. Damian Hardung (a 20 year old German actor, although he looks much younger) plays the friar's novice. This is definitely his 'break-out' role.
Rupert Everett (has he ever played such a sinister character?) portrays the Inquisitor, Bernardo Gui, the tortured, torturer.
The series is beautifully photographed, some of the interiors look like Renaissance masterpieces.
There are eight episodes, each episode being approximately 50 minutes.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

"Madame Sin" (1972) - From the Video Vault

Like campy spy thrillers? This one was made as Bond-mania was waning. Casting the grand dame was a fun idea. Robert Wagner was a popular leading man, having just finished "It Takes a Thief".

Sir Lew Grade was throwing buckets of cash into film and television in the 1970's. "Madame Sin" was intended to be a television series (each week - another fiendish plot??). At the end of this pilot, the Madame Sin (Bette Davis - on brand - chewing the scenery) is planning to steal the Russian Crown Jewels as she eyes off Windsor castle as a future HQ.

Scottish locations (Isle of Mull)
Brian Eatwell (Dr Phibes films) set decoration - a nod to Bond's Ken Adam (Madame Sin's lair is very "Dr No", it even has an underground aquarium).
Excellent  British supporting cast (plus Roy Kinnear has a funny cameo)

Annoying electronic soundtrack
Even though it is under 90 minutes, the pacing is slow.
The scene with a deaf Wagner trying to communicate the villain's plans is either embarrassing or comic.
Some scenes seem to have been trimmed.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Sofitel Melbourne on Collins - room renovations, at last

Finally, this 1980's five star hotel is getting major room renovations. Goodbye shower over the bath, faded, worn upholstery and dated television cabinets. Rooms facing north (not bay view rooms) seem to be the first to be getting the treatment. There have been 'soft' renovations over the years and the 50th (top floor suites) were renovated over 10 years ago. With St Regis and Shangri-La hotels coming to Melbourne soon, the renovations are crucial.

Prestige Suite

Friday, 22 March 2019

"Kingdom" 2019 Best series on Netflix at the moment?

Think an Oriental "Game of Thrones" meets "The Walking Dead".
With sumptuous production design, sweeping cinematography and suspenseful direction, this six part series is a winner. No wonder Season 2 is in the works. The show is adapted from the web-comic series "The Kingdom of the Gods".
The third episode's mass-zombie chase through the forest track was nail-bitingly good. The final episode in Season 1 was a mere 43 minutes, concluding with a cliff-hanger.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

"Love Death and Robots" mini reviews

  • Alternate Histories - top episode, naughty but nice
  • Ice Age - delightful tone, nod to "Night at the Museum"
  • Zima Blue - high concept, shades of "Silent Running" (Hi, Dewey)
  • The Secret War - mini epic movie
  • Three Robots - jokey, black, written by a dog-person?
  • The Witness - pervy Hitchcock goes to Hong Kong, high art
  • Lucky 13 - sentimental, but gets away with it, looks like a computer game
  • Helping Hand - nod to "Gravity", incredibly suspenseful
  • Suits - enjoyable hokum "Starship Troopers" meets "The Real McCoys"
  • When the yogurt took over - high culture?
  • Good Hunting - steampunk porn
  • Fish Night - visually stunning
  • Shape Shifters - predictable but still impressive
  • The Dump - not rubbish, satisfyingly silly
  • Blindspot - for Speed Racer/Transformer fans
  • Sucker of Souls - Indian Jones meets Van Helsing 
  • Sonnie's Edge - grisly, for 13 year old boys?
  • Beyond the Aquila Rift - gorgeous to behold, but not much substance, welcome to Netflix.
  • "Love Death and Robots" episodes - ranked from best to worst (1 -18)

    1. Alternate Histories
    2. Ice Age
    3. Zima Blue
    4. The Secret War
    5. Three Robots
    6. The Witness
    7. Lucky 13
    8. Helping Hand
    9. Suits
    10. When the yogurt took over
    11. Good Hunting
    12. Fish Night
    13. Shape Shifters
    14. The Dump
    15. Blindspot
    16. Sucker of Souls
    17. Sonnie's Edge
    18. Beyond the Aquila Rift

    Sunday, 24 February 2019

    The easiest way to tour Uluwatu Temple - Hiring a private driver

    1. Go early. By 10 a.m. the tour buses are starting to arrive. If you like crowds wait for kecak dance/sunset hordes.
    2. Drivers wait outside big hotels in Kuta and Nusa Dua. Bargain for a good price. We wanted three hours (100,000 rupiah per hour seemed fair - roughly one hour each way to get there and one hour to walk the cliffs and forest trails. The driver was happy with 300,000 rupiah. He waited in the car park until we returned. The van was comfortable and air conditioned.
    3. Travel time (Nusa Dua - Uluwatu) varies from 35-55 minutes depending on route taken and traffic.
    4. Clothing - even though the actual temple is out of bounds - you are provided with sarong and sash with your 30, 000 admission fee.
    5. Watch the monkeys. Keep your distance. They have been known to grab food, sunglasses, hats, shiny jewellery.
    6. A guide is unnecessary.

    Thursday, 21 February 2019

    Five things I hate about Bali...

    1. Dodgy street currency exchange. If the rate looks too good to be true... it is. Go to reputable money changers (e.g. PT Central Kuta, BMC) but avoid hotel exchange rates.

    2. Plastics in the surf - disposable diapers are the worst

    3. The taxi mafia/taxi counter prices at Ngurah Rai Airport
     Head outside the gates (5 minute walk) and grab a metered taxi (e.g. Blue Bird Group) or (if you are feeling cheeky and only have hand luggage), take the lift up to the Arrivals level and grab a taxi that's just dropped someone off.

    4. The proliferation of tattoo parlours.
    New trend - tattoo removal shops in Kuta/Legian.

    5. Roadside rubbish dumping.
    If there's a slope, chances are there's a mountain of trash down there.