Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth - Review

Listening to: Long, Long Time Ago from Pan's Labyrinth soundtrack

Wow. It was so wonderful, I was blown away. Everything good you have read about it is true. After one viewing it's on my list of favourite movies.

In short, it's a fairytale for adults. The dark, gothic sensibility ranges from earthiness to brutality, visceral to brooding, making the scenes of sweetness, beauty and light even more brilliant and delightful. Visually rich, attentive to detail, scary, gruesome, emotive. You feel such empathy for Ofelia, the film's little girl heroine.

The fairytale magical realm, Ofelia's world, and the rest of the world are intertwined. You can't be sure which one is real or intruding on the other. Is all of this magic really happening or is it just in her head? Right up until the end you can't be 100% sure. After a while you figure, "that couldn't have happened otherwise so it must be real".

Definitely not to be confused with Jim Henson's film Labyrinth. It's absolutely nothing like it. The story is set during the civil war, 1944 in Fascist Spain. The MA rating is well justified, this is NOT a family film. There are several particularly gruesome scenes. Two of these made me wince and screw up my face though I kept on watching because I didn't want to miss anything. I won't say which ones but those who have seen it will probably guess. I could hear others in the audience making stifled sounds of alarm at the time.

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The Pale Man was terrifying - I felt scared for Ofelia. It wasn't just the creepy eyes in his hands, it was the pictures on the wall letting you know what he could/would do, the way he staggered about and ripped into ... things.

Pan himself was a bit creepy. You couldn't be completely sure if he was noble in his intentions. Traditionally fauns are ambiguous creatures. That certainly made him more interesting as a character. He made rattle noises like the alien from Predator and had a temper, yet his blue eyes were seemed to have such a kindness about them. How did they made him walk? Was he was a man in a costume with some animatronics or CGI? After revisiting the website it looks as if they have added extra features, and I have my answer.

Another creature of note is the giant toad. It was kind of cute in a way that only toads can be. The scene with it and Ofelia reminded me a bit of a scene from the NeverEnding Story. Atreyu the warrior child is in the Swamp of Sadness covered in mud and encounters the giant tortoise, Morla. I guess it was the mud soaked, brown haired, wide eyed child and cold blooded, moist critter splattering the kid in mucous-mud-goop that did it :P Don't take mention of this to mean I think it's derivative because it isn't. This film is nothing like anything else I have seen and I'm a connoisseur of fantasy and magic :)

I can't recommend it highly enough. Loved it.

Website of the Day
Pan's Labyrinth Official Website
Features multimedia and excerpts from Del Toro's sketchbook, character design sketches and behind the scenes make-up photos. You can also listen to the entire movie soundtrack as available on CD.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bad luck

Listening to: Love Action by The Human League

Does bad luck come in threes?
Any tips for stopping it from happening?
Do you believe in karma?
What did I do wrong?

Yesterday I bought a teapot to match my tea cups at 20% off at House in Melbourne Central and broke it in less than a minute of leaving the shop.

It was wrapped in one sheet of paper which under normal circumstances would probably be adequate. The shoes I was wearing wearing have from time to time clipped the ground when I've been walking along but they're not clown shoes and I haven't exactly stumbled in them :P Anyhoo. I walked out of the shop and went to take the first step on the stairs just outside but stumbled - perhaps on the bumps put there to aid the vision impaired, perhaps on my clown shoes. Naturally I put my hands in front of me to stop my fall . I was okay but the teapot hit the stone steps with a heart sinking tinkle. Back into the store I went, told them what happened. We unwrapped it to find the handle was beyond repair. I asked what they could do for me. I wasn't expecting a refund or even a replacement for free. That would be unreasonable. They took 30% off a replacement teapot and used some bubble wrap. [sigh]

Tonight M did the green thing and cycled down the shops to buy stuff for dinner. He used his new cable combination lock which he had just figured out. I suggested using my U-lock until he had it licked but he was insistent. 45 minutes later I get a call saying he can't the lock open! Safeway doesn't sell any kind of saw in its 'hardware' section. Fortunately I had packed a small kitchen saw when I moved over here. We were able to saw through in less than 15 minutes with no questions asked by passers by.

So let our bad luck be a lesson you dear reader:
Insist on well wrapped crockery.
Cable locks are pointless unless you're leaving your bike for a VERY short period. I recommend a U-lock. It's heavier but it does the job well.
$15, combination, cable locks from Big W are unreliable.
Keep a hack saw with a metal-cutting blade in the house.

I'm thinking of getting a fire blanket :(

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cocktail Recipe: The Meerkat

Listening to: Flute Concerto in D, Op. 27; I - Allegro moderato by Luigi Boccherini

I have developed a cocktail. Nothing fancy - it's a sexed up and sophisticated version of a vodka tonic. Tonic water has such a distinctive, strong flavour so it isn't used in many cocktails. You have the G&T and the V&T. This is my ode to tonic water which I think is delicious and worthy of being in more than a simple 2 part cocktail. I've added my own flourishes to make it special. It's so very refreshing on a hot day and because it's built rather than shaken, no fuss at all to make. Like all good inventions it was created out of necessity. We didn't have any lemonade!

Here's how to make The Meerkat.

The Meerkat
Build over ice in a tall glass:
1 measure* vodka;
half a measure of old fashioned lime cordial;
half a measure of lime juice.
Fill with tonic water.

Garnishes to try:
A slice or curl of lime.
A slice or curl of lemon.
An intact or lightly crushed (between your fingers not muddled), fresh mint leaf. Delicious!

*measure = 30ml

Website of the Day
I saw the figures at my local toy shop this morning.
Mega Bloks (ala Lego clone) does Pirates of the Carribean
OMG there's an animation of it on the website! [lol 'til my eyes water]

Friday, February 02, 2007

Nuke an instant artefact

Listening to : All is Full of Love by Bjork

Got dud CD burns or other CD/DVD material you don't want? Perhaps you want to jazz up your existing CD coasters. Or maybe you just want to do something slightly dangerous with an element of science/experimentation ala Myth Busters.

Nuke an instant artefact!

You will need a:
microwave oven
paper towel or a piece of paper

Put the paper/paper towel on the microwave oven carousel, and place CD on top on it, label down.
For 1500W ovens: nuke for 2 seconds
For 800W ovens: nuke for 5 seconds
Don't press your nose to the glass but watch as you nuke it for the exciting blue sparking and a small cracking noise as the tracks go pop!
Take care when removing the disk from the microwave as there will be a small amount of fumes. Give it a little rinse with cool water to remove loose label fragments.
Take a look at it. It should have gone from something new and shiny to something that looks instantly aged with interesting track patterns. Nifty or what? If you use a piece of glossy paper like I did, you will see the track patterns on it.

Thanks to Pandita for this one :) The lady is a fount of interesting things. She showed this trick to me with a demo Olivia Newton John Christmas CD at work. Mwahahaha!

Disclaimer: Lady Meerkat accepts no responsibility for damage to equipment or persons who try this experiment for themselves.

Irony @ Safeway

Listening to: Living in America by James Brown

My local Safeway* doesn't sell brake light bulbs.

*Interational readers: it's a supermarket.