Monday, September 24, 2007

Deathproof (but not critic proof)

Well, I attended the screening of QT's new movie (Deathproof), expecting fun, frolics and mayhem. What I got was a bunch of sycophantic people dying to tell QT how brilliant they thought he was, and loath to question any of his 'wise' decisions. I enjoyed the Q & A, don't get me wrong, and I was as enthusiastic as the next person about having QT sat with us watching his latest movie.


I was not happy with the amount of questions that began with the phrases "loved the movie", or "love your work". The questions themselves were also moronic - one woman actually had the STUPIDITY to ask 'was all the quick edits and mistakes deliberate, and were you going for a kind of 'grindhouse' look with the movie'. What a fucking idiot!

Sorry for the bad language - it's my first time to curse in the blog, but seriously! Come on!!

I got to ask a question - stuttering somewhat, but basically I asked if we were likely to see the Grindhouse double-feature with Rodriquez's 'Planet Terror' in cinemas, or was he not gonna bother and just wait for DVD. He avoided answering that question - oh he talked alright, but he never really answered. Ah well.

So, here's my review for Film Ireland - my last for the website (my last printed review is in this issue, and is for the fantastic Irish flick 'Kings')......


Coming to our screens as a single movie, as opposed to a ‘Grindhouse’ double feature with Rodriquez’ Planet Terror, Deathproof packs little of its directors legendary punch. Thanks to small turnouts in the US, we on this side of the Atlantic have to suffer through additional chat and superfluous lap dancing instead of a thrilling double whammy of old-style movie making.

The sting of Deathproof lacking its partner in ‘Grindhouse’ crime is that the movie was never meant to be a serious movie, per se. It should have been an homage, along with Planet Terror, to those badly-done, violent movies of old – keeping tongue firmly in cheek at the bad editing, and revelling in the blood-splattering gore. Instead, Tarantino has stretched his own movie to feature length with badly written dialogue and redundant exposition. Without any of the quotability of Tarantino’s other films, it veers haphazardly from insipid conversations to all out action. The all-too-infrequent adrenaline rushing car chases are fine pieces of moviemaking, but the preamble of mindless chat over-softens the punch.

Seeing Deathproof at the premiere after being riled by the director into a state of high-excitement will differ somewhat from the standard experience. Unfortunately for the general movie-going populace, having Quentin Tarantino run up and down the aisle shouting is what lifted Deathproof from mediocre to entertaining. Without his infectious glee, it is a sub-standard piece of fluff. Self-indulgent to the point of boredom, it comes across more as a vanity project than as any kind of experiment in filmmaking.

Some parts are unashamedly entertaining, and the final car chase, in particular, blows recent CGI attempts out of the water. The stuntwoman-come-actress, Zoë Bell, plays a stormer in the tricks department, but the movie smacks suspiciously of being written purely to give Zoë a chance to show her talents. Exciting though her scenes are, it cannot really make up for the many uninteresting preludes.

Kurt Russell makes good B-movie cheesy impact as the grizzled Stuntman Mike, getting his kicks from road-rage – and the car chases really are fantastically thrilling. Despite these small oases of fun, the unusual ‘Grindhouse’ double-feature element is what really sold the movie to audiences this side of the pond. The overriding disappointment is, of course, that the directors didn’t fight harder for the ‘Grindhouse’ format to stay intact.

Deathproof lacks that edge we’ve come to expect from Tarantino – and all the ‘quirky’ edits and flashes of black and white in the world can’t make up for what is, essentially, a quick fix of a movie. Fun enough to watch, but it won’t leave a lasting flavour.

Inconsistent to the last, one cannot help but wonder how much better it would have been to see the actual ‘Grindhouse’ experience – with Deathproof and Planet Terror filling a bill together. Alone, it stands, a disappointing piece of a filmmaking from a man we know could do better.

Friday, September 14, 2007

From role models to morons

Pictured above is my Mam. Over the past two years she's had to deal with a hystorectomy, during which the doctors discovered advanced Ovarian cancer. She had chemotherapy for months, which drained her energy and made her ill, and was finally given a small 'all-clear' - not an eternal one, but a break in the illness. She changed her whole lifestyle - food, exercise, lifestyle choices - according to research she did on healing cancer. She has worked hard to overcome the disease in a pro-active way. This summer, she suffered a setback. Barely two years after the first occurance of cancer, she was told that it had come back. A recurrance at this stage is not good news. But my Mam battled it, as she battles everything, and though she has to have radium treatment for a few weeks, they are confident that she will again go into remission - and hopefully stay in remission for another couple of years.

My Mam also failed her Leaving Certificate, in her past. When I was young, she worked three jobs to keep us going - waitressing, office work, cleaning...whatever she and my Dad could do to keep four kids up and running. Over those tough years she kept up her reading and writing - the joys of these hobbies hadn't been killed with the terrible school system of her time, and her love of learning kept her going. She wrote short stories - many of which were published in magazines, and one of which she won a Cecil Day Lewis short story prize for. She became interested in returning to her education for her own fulfillment. Open University offered the flexibility of distance learning - meaning she could continue to work full-time, as she needed to. Over the course of six years (rather than working straight through, she took breaks) she studied and gained her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History. During that time she worked as a secretary in a secondary school in Naas. Last year, despite coping with cancer, she enrolled and was accepted into the Higher Dimploma in Education course in Maynooth University. It was a hard year, but she got through. This summer, barely a week after getting her fantastic results on the H-Dip, she got the bad news on her cancer.

But this week, she attended her graduation ceremony, and I was lucky enough to be there with her. In the next few weeks she will not only continue her battle with the disease, but begin work as a secondary school teacher in the very school she began her time as a secretary in.

THIS is a role model.


Over the years, stupid celebrities come and go. But for the past while it seems that the media actively celebrates stupidity. Pushes girls and women into the spotlight who lack the intelligence, cop-on or self-respect to act with decency, decorum or any class of humility.

We have watched Brittany yanked back into the limelight this week, only to be vilified and downtrodden again. Do we take joy in this? But even worse than the contemptable behaviour of big-wigs and music execs pushing obviously unstable and exploited females into the glare of media, is the increasingly moronic behaviour of so called 'smart' girls in popular culture. Take, for instance, Avril Lavigne. Now, I don't like her music. I think it's trite, boring and mind-numbingly unintelligent. BUT, that doesn't matter - I don't need to like her music. But what I do care about is her comments in public. Apparently, some girls look up to her - and it's a sad state of affairs when young girls not only sing along to her mindless lyrics, but listen to her comments in magazine interviews.

Here are the Ten Commandments of Avril Lavigne, as given to 'Q' magazine ( recently.

Selling 24 million albums hasn't really affected me, but it has changed things. I can't walk into a room full of people any more without everybody turning their heads, and I can only eat in certain restaurants where I know I won't get hassled. But that's OK. I was born to do this, and so I've learned how to cope.

Someone like Kelly Clarkson is beautiful and has a pretty voice, but with me you get a much stronger image. I'm tough, I have a look that girls want to copy, and I sound a particular way. It's good if you're not easily ignored. And I'm not.

I was 17 when my first album (Let Go, 2002) came out, and all of a sudden I had to spend my days doing interviews. Listen, when you are 17 you don't know how to hold a conversation with an adult, and you pretty much don’t want to. But I learned to channel that annoyance into my music.

When I go to a party, I am the party! I'm the girl doing shots, jumping on tables, screaming and getting wasted. Am I advocating drugs? No! When I say get wasted, that doesn't mean go crazy. Drink in moderation. Be responsible, yeah?

I am a very giving person. When the hurricane thing happened (in New Orleans, August 2005) I went to my closet, filled six boxes of stuff and said to my assistant, "take it to Katrina!" I also like to give stuff to people who are my "workers", especially if they don't make much money.

It's important to be thankful, even if you're poor. I mean, come on, we all have clean water — well, ok, not people in the developing world. It's important to remember where we came from and just how lucky we are to be here.

I'm not particularly religious, but I am spiritual. What kind? Feng shui, mostly, and energy. I'm good at picking up people's energy, like I'm receptive or something.

I got married last year (to Deryck Whibley of Sum 41) simply because I was lucky enough to find the right guy. Did I tame him (Whibley once confessed to a fondness for mushrooms and ecstasy)? Hey, we were both party animals once, so we've tamed each other.

I want to get into movies next, a lead role in a super cool indie flick. I've been looking at scripts for the past two years now and most of them have been shit, but I know I could be real good at it. I have an agent now, and everything.

People love me and people hate me, but I'm comfortable in my own skin and that's what counts. And anyway, if you do hate me, you're the loser, not me."

This is NOT a role model.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Last full month in Ireland (for a while)

Feels weird – knowing that this is the last full month I’ll spend in Ireland until summer of next year. You forget how much you actually LOVE your country and your life until you think you might have to leave it…

Some of the things I’m gonna miss the most when I’m away:

1. My family (especially the beautiful nieces & nephews)
2. My new puppy (pictured above)
3. Friends
4. Toast and Ray’s boiled eggs for brekkie
5. Cereal at 9 at night while watching crappy telly
6. Lying on a couch watching telly
7. Trips to the cinema
8. Walking around the Wicklow Hills (although the Andes might be a nice replacement)
9. Reading in the sunshine
10. Sitting in front of the fire watching DVD’s
11. The toll bridge (just kidding)

Luckily, the ‘thing’ I would miss the most is actually coming with me – Alan!

Electric Picnic was brilliant! I didn’t get to see absolutely everyone I had planned on seeing, but the main ones were fantastic. Beastie Boys rocked the Kasbo, and the Chemical Brothers did their usual fandango. The main joy was having a quieter camsite this year, mwah mwah...

Bjork was my stand-out ladeee, of course, and I’m bloody delighted to have seen her! I'm glad not to have to face into another day of port-a-loos, though...those things are NASTY.
Here’s Kelly ruining a perfectly good romantic photo at Bjork...he's just jealous (of me, I'd say - look at my gorgeous boyfriend, for God's sake!!)