What I Did On My Vacation, Episode I

I apologise to those who expected a review of Ian Gillan’s 1986 compilation album; the title is in reference to how I spent most of November. Thanks again to my mate Marius for letting me take over his hammock so I could listen to cockatoos and lorikeets making an awful racket in the mango tree next door all day long.

After sunset, however, an onslaught of bloodthirsty mozzies made the hammock less than ideal. Not to worry: Netflix to the rescue. Also, thanks to Etihad for providing some of the movies below as in-flight entertainment. Speaking of Etihad, I wouldn’t really recommend their Abu Dhabi to Brisbane flight, not that there was anything wrong with the flight per se, it’s just that 14 hours is a fair bit longer than I would prefer to spend on a plane in one sitting.

Zoolander

(2001, dir. Ben Stiller)

There's more to live than just being really, really ridiculously good-looking. I think.

There’s more to life than just being really, really ridiculously good looking. Or so they say.

2oolander aka Zoolander 2 is about to be inflicted upon us, so it was time to revisit the “classic” first installment. A New Hope this is not – but for lovers of slapstick, there’s an abundance of comedic moments that still hold their own after repeated viewings. Apparently there are those who didn’t find Zoolander that funny, and that’s OK – if that’s you, just keep watching those Merchant Ivory movies.

Monty Python: The Meaning of Live

(2014, dir. Roger Graef & James Rogan)

The Pythons have their game face on.

An endearing, at times almost heartbreaking – it’s painfully obvious that Terry Jones has dementia – look at what went on behind the scenes for Monty Python’s last stand. The Pythons have no qualms about coming out with the real reason for the shows (money, what else), and that’s just fine by me.

Critics and fans alike have tried to dissect the allure of the Pythons for decades, and here it is once again laid out in front of us: a hodgepodge of vastly different personalities and talents combined with hard work (and of course they try to play it down) and a splash of incredible luck in timing. There will never be another Monty Python.

Despicable Me & Minions

(2010, dir. Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud; 2015, dir. Kyle Balda & Pierre Coffin)

The Cheetos are alive! Run to the hills!

The Cheetos are alive! Run to the hills!

OK, I get it – it’s all about the merchandising, especially with Christmas coming and all that jazz. I can’t help it though, these yellow critters are quite cute and funny – I’d love to say “in spite of” but I guess I’ll have to admit to “largely thanks to” their Chipmunk-like yabbering.

The first installment (Despicable Me) has the edge here, seeing as Minions is pretty much based on the same story as The Penguins of Madagascar. Which came first, the chicken (penguin) or the egg (Minion)?

Gravity

(2013, dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

Gravity

My God, it’s full of stars! Well, at least two of them.

CGI is definitely not like pizza – when it’s bad, it can be really bad. Gravity, however, showcases what can be done with computers with a little (OK, a lot of) effort. Too bad the story comes second; I get the need for dramatic twists and turns, but quite a few – if not most – of the plot points ask a bit much of the viewer in terms of suspension of disbelief. Still, infinitely more enjoyable on all levels than Avatar.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

(2010, dir. Oliver Stone)

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

What a wasted opportunity. One of the most iconic silver screen villains of all time, Gordon Gekko, is reduced to a cardboard cut-out of a father trying to reconcile with his estranged daughter, while his son-in-law can’t decide whether he’s in it for the money or some pie-in-the-sky green energy MacGuffin.

It’s as if everyone is phoning it in, not the least director Oliver Stone, who should know better. They even screwed up Gekko’s reunion with Bud Fox, which was such an anticlimax that I guess I’d better stop here before I get a brain aneurysm out of sheer frustration.

To be continued…

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