Friday, July 31, 2009

Awaydays, Loved Ones and Hurt Locker

After a quick mid week beer, I made my way up to the other end of town, to the Kino for my next MIFF movie. A sold out session, I found my way in and joined the male dominated audience for Awaydays.

Set in 1975 northern England, this film follows one lad's desire to get involved in the gang of misfit boys who travel to soccer match destinations...not for the match, but for the brawl with the opposition, usually carried out right there in the train station shortly after arrival.

Great punchy Brit soundtrack, this violent look into the soccer hooligan world was an uncomfortable and frank depiction. Reminded me of Fight Club, without the reasoning! I will never look at a stanley knife the same again!

Tonight, I have had a back to back movie sessions, with two amazing, hits to the chest, films. The Loved Ones was introduced to the sold out session by the young Tasmanian director, Sean Byrne, in it's world premier. Many of the cast were in the screening, and the crowd was excited to see this fresh new film.

Opening with a uncomfortable, awkward scene, I was worried about where this was going. Neither actor in the opening scene was convincing, and it was a shaky start...luckily the only one for the film, because the rest of the movie had the audience laughing, cheering, cringing and crying out in shocked horror!

The synopsis had not eluded to the horror in this little Aussie treasure, but the graphic scenario played out as the alternate version of the end of school dance for Brent is sadistic, chilling, and sickly funny. Having stakes driven into his feet, this boy finds himself at a little party of 4 away from the actual dance A movie that has you bracing yourself for the next blow, and amused at the twists. The graphic scenes of cannibalism and use of a hand drill, and also the compound fracture in the closing scenes are ones that will stay with me for weeks....

Walking from The Forum up the hill to Greater Union, spotting Rush being filmed on the way, and running into fellow MIFFers, Jenny and Mary between sessions, I grabbed my seat at my next film, The Hurt Locker.

A film about a specialist US Army bomb squad in Iraq, the story takes us through the banter and camaraderie of the lads, to the very real mission that this group does every hour, and every day. The first shock is delivered by the demise of a strange Guy Pearce cameo, bringing to reality the life and death situation.

The differences in approach to their mission, the impact of their everyday experience, the fear and the psychological effects, and even the reverse culture shock when returning home, is captured in this film. It had the full cinema laughing along with the lads, as boys are boys, and then reeling in shock at the harsh reality of the war going on in Iraq and the danger the soliders are in, everyday. The impossible situations, the tension and horror, the real, transcended from the screen. A movie to leave you with shell shock, and the lasting feeling of waste that is occuring over there, right now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sergio and Balibo

One of the only reasons to be out and about in this cold weather in our great city has arrived, and created much controversy this year. Jen and I have been working on our Melbourne International Film Festival schedules for a couple weeks now.

My first film was on Sunday afternoon, and being one of the few Jen and I are both seeing, and seeing at the same time, I met her in the cafe at ACMI, before we went upstairs to the cinema. Sergio is a documentary showing the amazing humanitarian work and death of Sergio Vieira de Mello. Brazilian born, Sergio studied his way to work for the UN. Working for the UNHCR in Mozambique through civil war, to negotiating with the Khmer Rouge to assist the displaced people to be able to return home and participate in the vote to return peace and order to Cambodia. The film then showed the work he did in East Timor, assisting in the establishment of independence by being the UN Transitional Administrator.

All this awe-inspiring work was mingled with reports, and footage, and personal accounts of the bombing on the UN Headquarters in Iraq, where Sergio was working as as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General. The bomb blast from a truck parked just under his office window as he conducted a meeting, took out the 3 floors of the building, trapping Sergio and Gil, who was in the same meeting, under the rubble.

Interspersing comment from world leaders like Tony Blair and Condolezza Rice, were interviews by the two US Army officers, working on trying to rescue both men. And Sergio's fiance, who worked with him, and was there in the building on that day in Iraq.

Flashes of a message from Osama Bin Laden, and an interview with the terrorist who took responsibility for the blast, linked the act of jihad against Sergio for his work in East Timor's independence from Indonesia.

Emotionally draining scenes and recounts, backed with inspiring footage of the work Sergio did, the movie celebrates this beautiful man, and his world changing life.

Last night, keeping with the theme, I met Jen again and we walked down to join the line at the Forum, for Balibo. Having the Producer, former Premier of Victoria, and family members of the Balibo Five introduce the film, the anticipation was palpable as the curtain drew. This film opened the Festival on the weekend, and is a film based on the book The Cover Up, telling the story of 6 Australian journalists killed in Timor-Leste as Indonesia invaded in 1975.

Starring Anthony LaPaglia as Roger East, Aussie journo who was convinced to search for the missing Balibo Five, by now President of free East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta. The Balibo Five were 5 very young, brave journalists trying to capture the atrocities happening in Timor-Leste, with hopes of having the world finally take notice.

The reconstruction of these 5 lads' quest for footage, their experiences around Balibo and surrounds, and their gruesome deaths is harrowing, and inspiring. Such an important story to tell of the history of East Timor, the world's ignorance to the plight for independence, and the plight of these six Aussies at work to get the story out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Xmas In July

On Friday night, work put on a dinner for Xmas in July. Drinks at the office began as I was still finishing up bits and pieces, before I finally made it into the tea room with the rest of the office. A traveller got me through the walk to Bank Place, and our table setting upstairs at The Mitre Tavern.

Despite the rowdy, blokey atmosphere downstairs, our room became rowdy in it's own right as the beer and wine flowed, and everyone let their hair down. Mingling around the tables, and getting into the full entree and main spread, the drinking soon took over the focus.

By the time we were done, and had exhausted the tab, downstairs was empty, and we all traipsed the streets along to Transport. I remember that there was vodka consumed here, but hazy recall here, as the crew kicked on. I have flash backs of running up the hill back to the office to grab some things with Joey, before heading home very late....

Yesterday morning confirmed that I don't need to see The Hangover, I live it regularly! A world of pain, I dragged myself through the shower and into the car to get into town for the match. Very messy trip to the MCG, oops! We found our seats and settled in for the Geelong v Hawthorn game, with expectations going any which way.

Such a great match, with our lads playing like hungry, hungry Hawks, and trying their hearts out. The end result, alas, was one of heartbreak, and a heart stopper during the last 5 minutes. Geelong by one point after the siren. Devastated! And yet, very very proud of our boys.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Clouds and Chinas

Last night as I was packing up at work, I decided to text Springer and see if she was up for a gig in Brunswick, as a last chance to save me going on my own. She was up for the challenge for a few mid week beers, and we decided to meet at the Evelyn.

As I arrived, I moved to the merch table to finally grab the Demo from The Good China, when Mit recognised me from this blog, and said hi! I had been meaning to introduce myself to her for abit now, since she commented on here, and also considering I have seen her at quite a few other gigs around the place. She wrote a little message in the CD, to Jessie in London, and then introduced me to Eliza from Oh Mercy. Look at me, mixing with these music types!

I settled in with a much needed beer, to take in the Hoshi In The Clouds set, which sounded very comfortable and familiar. I am assuming cos I have seen them a few times recently, but they are really growing on me.

Springer arrived, and we got stuck into the beers, and I got to introduce her to music of The Good China. Opening with a wild-haired Jag's 39 Black, the band were chatty and funny, with Adam having a mic for the first time within his set up at his drums. No More Maps, No More Roads was full of energy, Ryan and Mit's Maple Leaves cover was a highlight of the set, and the reworked Profit for Perversion. All Nothing, with a spattering of crowd participation for the percussion at the right times, is still a favourite of mine. Can't wait for the launch of the EP, guys!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Croft Institute

Friday night drinks this week dwindled as the young ones left the office on a bar hopping mission, and Jenny's crew had their end of financial year party...which left just MJ and I to depart from the office and find The Croft Institute.

The card, and reviews on the net suggested that if you were planning on trying to find this bar, you should tell someone you are going, and when you should be back! Walking down through Chinatown, passing alley after alley, we finally found the one with Croft mentioned on the sign - as an appendage from this alley. Walking down the narrow alley, turning the corner and walking past all the big industrial bins, and then past backdoors to restaurants of the area, we turn another corner and we are in the middle of the city block, in a little alley, with red lights overhead, little seats bringing us to the nondescript doorway of the bar.

Once inside, we were greeted with a dark space filled with science-y bits and bobs all about, glass cabinets of glass bottles and jars of things, and weird instruments. A couple of seating areas here and there, we grabbed a couple of beers and sat at the high school lab bench, which included the sink fixture. I think the drinks could have been served in beakers!

After reading all the reviews, we ventured upstairs for a peek before leaving, and whilst there were any other rooms open, the Dept of Hygiene was very interesting, complete with hospital tiles, stretcher and lights on extendable arms jutting from the cubicle walls.

Such a cool and different themed bar, hidden at the end of two very dodgy feeling and dark alleys in the middle of Melbourne.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hungry Kids Of Hungary

Dragging myself out into the cold night, in the middle of the first test coverage of the Ashes, Nicole and I headed across to The Tote in Collingwood to catch a band we have both been listening to in the last few weeks. Having seen that there were four bands on the bill, we actually arrived just after the start of the set we had come out for, seeing that one band was missing from the eventual line up.

The Hungry Kids Of Hungary was the band we had come to see, and we caught the new single Old Money, as we took our places in the dingy band room. Their catchy, indie pop energy, with harmonies by the lads, this is a band to watch, with news of them working on an album. Scattered Diamonds was a higlight, as well as Set It Right.

The night was actually The Boat People's headline gig. This little band of four talented lads really impressed. Telling us that they were working on their third album, and they two of them have just made the move from hometown Brisbane to Melbourne, I would say we will be seeing much more of them. Unsettle My Heart and Awkward Orchid Orchard were stand out for the just under an hour set. I have since downloaded their album, and will look out for them from now on.

As we left the pub, I spotted that the Aussies had declared in Cardiff, making the First Test very much game on! Coming home, wide awake and all set for a long and exciting night....the rain started in Wales, and didn't let up!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ragged & Ecstatic

Project drinks this week were at the Rooftop Bar. Pulling this one out made the starting crew for the destination quite low, given that the bar was on the roof of Curtain House, in the cold, windy Melbourne night.

Warmed up with drinks at work, Steve, DC, Sarah, and Jess come along with me the three blocks down to the bar, and jumped in the lift to the sixth floor. More stairs to come, we met Dan at the top, and made our way to the bar. Ordering a first round, the bartender ended up throwing a pot of Asahi over me....and then still proceeded to make me pay! Outrageous!

Our group soon took up a circle of deckchairs on the rooftop, with the lit Melbourne skyline all around us. With heaters on, and shelter if needed, this little spot in the middle of the city was a treat, astro turf and all.

Dan and I then drove out to Northcote Social Club, and met Nicole, for a gig. Arriving during the set of Hoshi In The Clouds, they still impressed, and are a band to watch.

Philadelphia Grand Jury were up next, and wowed the crowd with their indie rock, and full scale energy. With the strange and attention-catching voice over introducing their songs, these three guys were very good. Their Going To The Casino was a crowd favourite, with the set ending with microphones, guitars, and cymbals being unhooked and dismembered and passed out to the crowd. Bizarre and very funny.

The main reason we were there, however, was to see Yves Klein Blue, for the sold out album launch. Having Ragged & Ecstatic just released, these Brisbane lads played out their tracks full an energy and charisma. Both Make Up Your Mind, the single Getting Wise have stayed in my head since the gig, they also played my favourites from the album, Soldier and Summer Sheets.

The encore included a cover of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run for a birthday boy on stage, before they had the whole room singing and dancing to Polka. Such an exciting young band, with the animation of Michael on stage so engaging!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Recorded Music Salon

Having DC draw out the card this week, he was sure to attend Project drinks after work. He and I, and Dan made our way out after discovering no beer in the work fridge, down Collins Street on the tram.

Finding the Recorded Music Salon at the end of the stairs of a non-descript door, we fought to get to the bar to order our first round. Soon finding a table, we were joined by Jenny and her large crew for the evening. Having a wing woman on the job for the mingling goal of the evening, drinks and laughter soon got out of hand.

On to another destination, upon insistence by our wing girls, we made our way to the beer garden of Collins Quarter for a few more beverages. After being put off by the line at Spice Market, we found a table, some unsuspecting lads about, and more drinks at the Yak Bar.

Clearly a large night...tipped by the walk back to Jenny's office, and stumbling past one Bert Newton. Bald as a badger and larger than life, Bert was being accosted by fans, before being rushed by our wing woman. Not for the Project, just cos she was dying to meet him! Introducing herself, and me, she chatted to him briefly, before we discovered that we actually didn't know what show he was talking about, and let him get into his car. Hilarious!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Evelyn Gets The Good China Out

Nicole and I met at the Evelyn last night, for the first night of The Good China's July residency. Arriving just after doors opened, the crowd was treated to Ryan China on the decks.

First up for the night was Icicle Melts, and from standing near extended family of the band, we learnt that this was their first live gig. Starting off as an eclectic mix of musicians, with no lyrics, they showed promise. But as the set moved on, and attempts at vocalisations were made, it was uncomfortable, with pitch issues....and, well, it just seemed like they couldn't sing. Awkward.

Next up was Plastic Palace Alice, who restored the evening, with energy and fun, and array of instruments on stage.

Having not seen them play for some time, it was great to see The Good China fill the stage for their first show for this July run, with news that they have just completing recording an EP. Treating us to a reworked Perversion For Profit, we also got A Million Little Pieces in the set. So good.

Telling the crowd that they are aiming to play a new song with each residency show, this night's track was an energetic No More Maps, No More Roads. All Nothing was awesome, as usual, along with many other tracks we'll soon be listening to on their much anticipated EP!
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