Planet of the Apes (1968)

Planet of the Apes
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
Written by Michael Wilson and Rod Serling based on the novel by Pierre Boulle
(number 356)

I never realised this movie was scripted by the guy who wrote/created the Twilight Zone. It all makes a great kind of sense now that I know that. I first watched these films when I was about eleven. Some summer around that time the holiday TV scheduling included all the original planet of the apes films and I watched as many of them as I could on Mum and Dad’s little portable TV.

Things which date this movie in the first five minutes: Smoking in space, beards growing during cryo sleep, the one woman astronaut dying before we even meet her. The design of the spaceship is beautiful though, very reminiscent of the design in 2001.

The cinematography is stunning. Especially at the start when they’re climbing around on the rock formations. I was curious about where this was all filmed and it turns out it’s around the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Makes me want to visit it even more.

The ape prosthetics are in some ways genius and in some very poor. The mouth flaps are often poorly articulated but there’s a lot of emotion in the eye region, especially on Zira. It’s quite beautiful to watch the changes in her expressions.

Questions: how did the apes get Latinate words? (ape child called Quintus) Why are there no other animals than apes, man and horses? Anna had never seen the film before and made the assertion that it’s a movie that’s really about cruelty to animals. It certainly makes sense to have that parallel with the newer films ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ is certainly about that. I wondered it it was also about racism, the treatment of others as lesser, as not covered by law. Possibly it’s just about an ape planet but where’s the fun in that. Speculative fiction exists to make us think deeper about things, doesn’t it?

Does it make me love the people? I really love Zira. She’s an ape not a human but she’s definitely people and about the most sympathetic character. I love Nova as well because she has such sweet expressions, but I find Taylor quite hard to sympathise with. Possibly because his dialogue is often so ham fisted? Or possibly his sixties swinger attitude towards women.

Bechdel test: Nova and Zira are the only named women characters.

Best line:

George Taylor: But one more thing – if anybody’s listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It’s purely personal. But seen from out here everything seems different. Time bends. Space is boundless. It squashes a man’s ego. I feel lonely. That’s about it. Tell me, though. Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbor’s children starving?

Iconic lines: Get your filthy hands off me you damn dirty ape!

You blew it up! Damn you all to hell!

State of Mind: It’s a highly entertaining film, lots of great moments and aside from a few things it generally holds up pretty well. The story taps in to some pretty primal fears humans have. Anna knew the ending from having watched Stargate Universe, which is somewhat hilarious to me. I enjoyed watching it again. Anna said she quite enjoyed it too, so two thumbs up and an A++ rating from us.

Watched movie count

Gallipoli (1981)

Gallipoli
Directed by Peter Weir
Written by Peter Weir and David Williamson
(number 317)

Familiar director’s name… Peter Weir. Oh right. Dead Poet’s Society, Truman Show, Witness. One of these directors who I like without realising that I like them. It’s with trepidation I started this movie up, because dear god, I learned about Gallipoli as a child. I know how badly this goes for the ANZACS. I had a great-grandfather at El Alamein. There’s just no way this is going to be an uplifting movie.

Damn this film. Having a half hour opening sequence with the boys just being so damn cute and Australian and full of hope, etc etc. Being excited about running races. Perfect for making me love them as people before the inevitable putting through Hell that will happen at the war. Then they’re in the army and just being cute, excited lads in Egypt and I can feel the doom getting closer and closer.

The format of the film reminds me of Full Metal Jacket, actually. The start with the innocence and the training, etc and then the travel to the place at war with a little fun, a little frivolity and then the harsh, stark reality of war and death.

Once they were at Gallipoli it still held off on the horror. In fact there were baby Mel Gibson butt shots and jokes and the contrast between the men who’d been there too long and the new arrivals. But once the fighting began in earnest you feel the dispair. The film doesn’t shy away from showing glimpses of what it means to know you’re about to die – men taking off their medals, wedding rings, writing letters to loved ones to leave behind. Hoping that somehow it’ll be transported back home.

Does it make me love the people? Hell yes. Archy first, so young and fresh faced and pretty. Then baby Mel Gibson, Frank. He’s brilliant in this movie, just brilliant. Playing a line between genuine and smarmy and rocking it. You do feel for the men as things get worse.

Bill Hunter (mandatory role in any Australian film) is likewise amazing as Major Barton, stuck in between a stupid decision from higher up and whether the young men in his care live or die.

Bechdel test: No, there’s a couple of women here and there but this is a movie about Australian lads and the trials they face.

Best line:

Jack: What are your legs?
Archy Hamilton: Springs. Steel springs.
Jack: What are they going to do?
Archy Hamilton: Hurl me down the track.
Jack: How fast can you run?
Archy Hamilton: As fast as a leopard.
Jack: How fast are you going to run?
Archy Hamilton: As fast as a leopard!
Jack: Then let’s see you do it!

Major Barton: I won’t ask my men to do what I won’t do myself.

State of Mind: Fuck war. Much as expected, from what I knew going in for Gallipoli, this wasn’t ever going to go well. I didn’t expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did though, it’s total genius. Beautifully made character stuff with no punches pulled about the idiocy of the maneuvers. Damn, though the early part of the film, the sequence of the race Archy does barefoot against a man on horseback. It’s really a lovely film. I may even watch it again, I’ll just maybe… stop it at a certain point.

Watched movie count

City of God (2002)


Directed by Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund
Written by Bráulio Mantovani based on the novel by Paulo Lins
(number 185)

I knew that this movie was violent, and that it started with a chicken chase? I didn’t realise it was so bright and fun and beautiful in amongst the violence. The music, the lighting, the colours and the joy with which the story is told is all intoxicating to watch. I wish I’d seen this back when it came out, at the film festival. Watching it was just like seeing some of my favourite festival movies, like when I used to take time off work and go during the day to whatever was on.

The chicken chase is brilliant, how did they keep the camera so close to the chicken? It’s impressive stuff.

This movie reminds me of Guy Richie, of Quenton Tarantino, but it’s so much slicker than that. It doesn’t feel like it’s trying as hard as Tarantino does, and the colours and the intensity of the lighting put it into a better league for cinematography. Tarantino’s shots are all carefully composed, these are also carefully composed, I’m sure but it feels effortless. Like a particularly pretty documentary.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah it does. For example I was worried about Benny exploiting Tiago but they were so freaking cute, Tiago facilitating Benny’s makeover, and they both looks so happy about it. The story is fast, chopping and changing main players pretty often but something about it gets you invested in the characters very fast. Everyone is portrayed so rawly human, so vulnerable and emotional.

The hardest to watch scene is the two kids from the runts being cornered by L’il Ze. Those two kids looked really, truly afraid. Unpleasant stuff. Later on the dead children, the fall out of the gang war is shown again and again but it’s never quite as shocking as watching those two boys cornered, crying for their lives.

I was thinking about trying to call out the actors but I found it hard to name one over another. It felt so much like a documentary that I think all the actors are astoundingly good. From the little kids to the old men, they’re all really in it. Having said this, I have no idea how close any of this story is to the truth, so… take my documentary comment with some salt.

Bechdel test: Two named women do talk, but it’s about sex with their husbands, so I don’t know if that’d count. Like, there’s a bit in the middle where they’re just talking about approach/sex tips but. I think one of them is named Bernece, but unsure of the other’s name. It’s immediately followed by the brutal murder of one of them so… in terms of women, this movie isn’t about that.

Best line:

Cabeleira: Jeez, Bernice, talking about love with you is pretty complicated, isn’t it?
Berenice: Love, you gotta be kidding. It’s just a game.
Cabeleira: But it’s just that this jerk here loves you.

State of Mind: I dunno. I got bored during this. I loved the pace, and the chopping and changing but after a while it became… too samey? too much chopping and changing and not enough consistency. I took a break most of the way through because I’d lost my ability to pay attention. Watching the end after the break was better. I don’t know that I’d watch this again though, the start was more fun to me than the film as a whole.

Watched movie count

Halloween mini quilts

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Some weekend day last year, I tracked down all my Halloween themed fabrics and just started cutting stuff up and sewing it together. I did a bit of fussy cutting to get some of the cutest characters featured. I found some checkerboard stuff to lift the fabrics some and as I was putting it together and loving it, I realised it wasn’t a quilt for me. It was a quilt for my dear, Halloween and Goth stuff loving friend Jack. Once I had it at a decent small lap quilt/large wall hanging sort of size I put it together with a backing of Goosebumps duvet cover from Trash Palace.

Once I’d put that together I figured I should make one for myself as well. Using some of the off cuts from the first one, and some new discounted Halloween fabric from Spotlight I made a smaller, darker and a little less fun one for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I still really like the second one, but it’s not quite as ‘wow!’ to me. It’s more sedate.

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At the time of writing this second one is still in the same state – just a quilt top. I had a busy end of year getting baby quilts and Christmas craft done so I haven’t got it put together yet.

Animal Kingdom (2010)

Animal Kingdom
Written and directed by David Michôd
(number 345)

I’m like, didn’t I already watch this film? But it was called Romper Stomper? I mean. How many gritty criminal underworld films have to be on this list? Does covering the nasty lives of violent people automatically make a movie worthy? Maybe it’s more American History X… but still. It feels at this point, like ground I’ve already covered.

That said, I do enjoy a well made Australian arthouse film. Noise is my favourite of all time, but the way they’re made: minimal background music, the tight handheld camera angles, the colour palette used. This is a pretty film, the way it’s made if not the subject matter.

Okay so my favourite character is killed to motivate the main character, I understand that. It’s sad, and it sucks, but when they used “I’m all out of love” to illustrate how sad it is I had to laugh. It’s such an over the top song, and I have to think they did it to be funny intentionally. Especially with the implications of the scene immediately after (possible rape attempt). This movie isn’t as gritty/dark as Romper Stomper, for which I am grateful. People are killed but it’s generally a bit removed from the pov, often happening off camera entirely or in the distance. Their is a lot of implied nastiness but not much shown.

Does it make me love the people? Uncle Baz gives the cops watching the house flowers, so I loved him right off. Yeah, the way they are with each other, joking and affectionate- the gang is loveable. Aside from Pope…

The main character is so blank though, which I think is intentional. His default expression was mostly what we got throughout the film and he had very little warmth to him. Ultimately it worked because as things came to a head you didn’t know which way he’d go.

Guy Pearce is one of my favourite actors so I was hanging out for him to turn up. When he did, he had an awful moustache and it’s honestly just the best.

Bechdel test: we have Janine and Nicole… but they pretty much just talk to the men, not each other. Janine talks to Helen (her neighbour) but it’s about a man on TV so I don’t think that counts either. Janine is a great character, seriously. She possibly passes some other kind of bad ass, plot driving woman character test, but overall the film is masculine focused and the Bechdel isn’t passed.

Best line:

Pope: That’s a bit of a gay shirt, are you gay?
Darren: Fuck off.
It’s a serious question, I’m comfortable with your lifestyle. I just want you to talk to me about it.

State of Mind: Like. Yeah, I sort of figured what would happen. It’s bleak stuff. The whole ethics vs family loyalty conundrum which as I mentioned previously has been covered in movies like Romper Stomper and American History X. My experience of those films let me understand the shape of this story and in fact predict the plot twists. Overall, I think this was a really good movie but not necessarily one I enjoyed or will seek out again.

Watched movie count

Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max
Directed by George Miller
Written by James McCausland and George Miller
(number 362)

It’s not often you see a movie which shows the early days of a societal breakdown leading into a dystopia. It’s fascinating in that way. But at the same time, it’s just kind of relentlessly brutal. So, maybe that’s why we don’t get so many movies about that.

I found the plot a little hard to follow. Like… there was a lot of nastiness, a lot of violence, but the characters or the motivations weren’t too clear to me. Apart from Max, we can generally follow Max’s motivations and perhaps that’s all that matters in terms of the film.

The really important things about this movie are that it was an Australian break out cult hit, and that it spawned a whole series, including the widely adored Mad Max Fury Road. I don’t particularly care for Fury Road, and I don’t particularly care for this either. I wonder if, again, this is a movie which is beloved by people who grew up with it? Fury Road didn’t inspire me, I couldn’t understand what the hype was about. I suspect these movies just aren’t meant for me. My favourite things about movies is exploration of characters. Character development,

Does it make me love the people? Nope.

Bechdel test: No, we only have one named female character: Jessie, and she is fridged.

Best line:

Fifi: They say people don’t believe in heroes anymore. Well damn them! You and me, Max, we’re gonna give them back their heroes!
Max: Ah, Fif. Do you really expect me to go for that crap?
Fifi: You gotta admit I sounded good there for a minute, huh?

State of Mind: I dunno. I don’t even have stuff I want to say about how I didn’t enjoy this. It feels like violence porn, which… okay. Maybe it was intentionally like that. Maybe? I just didn’t care. It was brutal for the sake of brutality, with no message or character depth. I feel like I’m missing the point of a bunch of these testosterone fueled ‘classics’.

Watched movie count

Hipster brickwall quilt

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I’d been stashing a group of fabrics for a while, with the vague idea of making some sort of hipster ish quilt. They’re mostly fabrics from spoonflower, some from Spotlight and a couple from patchwork shops. One sunny weekend morning I found this tutorial on pinterest and decided to try it out with the fabrics I’d already grouped together.

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This was a really fun quilt to piece, quick and easy with the large ‘bricks’ and it was fun trying to decide which ones to put on the ends and cut in half. I used a white on white island fabric from Vonnya’s in Raro for a wide border, and used navy blue on the binding to set the colours off. The backing was a delightfully soft drill sort of fabric from Spotlight.

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This quilt went to Anna’s sister and her fiance for Christmas and I’m happy to say they liked it.