Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

Archive for the ‘2 Stars’ Category

The paper will be blue

Posted by redkoireviews on 01/07/2007

The Paper will be BlueSorry for the delay, but “The paper will be blue” was another film that my partner and I saw at this years film festival. This film is set in Bucharest on the the night dictator Ceausescu lost power. It follows a small unit of soldiers in their armoured vehicle as they meander around the city, unsure what to do and unwilling to be drawn into anything that might look like trouble. Given there is a revolution going on, the film has a oddly slow pace. Several of the characters are totally unflapped by what is going on around them.

One of the younger members of the unit defects, almost as a spur of the moment decision, and wanders into the throng of those civilians taking control of the TV station. The blurry lines between soldier, defector and civilian make for comic situations as Costi tumbles along and his unit try to track him down.  The film has it’s moment, but there wasn’t enough to really suck you in. Compared to Control, this was a dud. But that’s because Control was awesome.

My Rating: 2 Stars

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The Tao of Pooh

Posted by redkoireviews on 21/06/2007

I was searching for holiday reading material and discovered The “Tao of Pooh” on the shelves, owned by my partner. It’s a laymans introduction to Taoism, using Pooh bear from the Winnie the Pooh series of children’s books as the western example of what Taoism is all about.

It’s easy to read, and did give me a sense of what this philosophy is all about, but the tone is very anti-intellectual at times, which just annoyed me and put distance between me and the subject. On the upside, the idea that being too busy with detail, facts and figures can distract you from the bigger picture did resonate me. Perhaps that’s a contradictory reaction but that’s just what happened.

I won’t bother trying to explain Taoism itself – wikpedia does a better job than I would, or indeed the ‘Tao of Pooh’

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

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The Gates of Egpyt

Posted by redkoireviews on 18/02/2007

The Gates of EgpytMy partner and I saw “The Gates of Egypt” performed by Company B last night. You realise just how deeply the wars in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq have angered people when you take a look at the number of plays that draw on them. This one revolves around normal Aussie grandmother Clarice, who has been left feeling at odds with her world after the death of her husband. Against the better judgement of her daughters, she takes a trip alone to Egypt, where she confronts the hate brewed by various wars in the middle east, and faces up to years of apathy about it in her own life and in those around her.

The play has a lot to say about our ability to distance oursleves from what is done in our name on the battlefront. There’s a sense of powerlessness, of life unfolding in predictable ways that you might regret later. Rather than being 100% political commentary on war, it draws you into the life, loves and regrets of a woman and her family. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 2 Stars, Theatre | 3 Comments »

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Posted by redkoireviews on 17/08/2006

Wyrd Sisters bookcoverI’ve given up on reading all the Guards series of discworld novels, but am still enjoying re-reading lot’s of other books by Terry Pratchett. Wyrd Sisters is a kind of Parody of Macbeth. King Verence of Lancre is killed by his cousin Duke Felmet. Verenece’s son (Tomjon) is given to Lancre’s three witches, who send him off with a troupe of theatre performers to keep him out of harms way. Everyone hates Duke Felmet and so the witches take destiny into their own hands and re-arrange things to speed up the progress of the Tomjon to the throne.

The plot is not one of Terry’s best, but that’s made up for by the witches themselves. Their personalities are larger than life, very funny, and at times rather dark.

If, like me, your life is a just a bit to real, Wyrd Sister will help you escape for a little while.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

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“Paint your Dragon” By Tom Holt

Posted by redkoireviews on 30/07/2006

Paint your Dragon bookcoverMy Partner loves Tom Holt, and suggested this one would be a good one to start with. Tom Holt writes comic fantasy novels. They have a bit of a Pratchett leaning to them. This one is based on the legend of St George and the Dragon. In it, the classic ‘Good Vs Evil’ fight is back for a second round, except this time it gets very difficult to tell whose on which side.

Maybe I’m biased because I read most of it while I had a cold, but it just didn’t do it for me. The writing style tries to make over-the-top metaphors funny, and that just gets a bit boring after a while. None of the characters have a lot of depth or appeal. Although there is the whole ‘what’s good and what’s bad and what’s right’ theme going on behind the slapstick, it doen’t really carry the plot much further.

Having said all that, when my partner introduced me to Terry Pratchett, I didn’t like that much either. Perhaps they are both an acquired taste. Fellow wordpresser captainmaybe has also done a review you can read here.

My Rating: 2 Stars

Posted in 2 Stars, Books, Reviews | 1 Comment »

Jarhead (The Movie)

Posted by redkoireviews on 08/07/2006

Jarhead Jarhead is an unusual war movie about an unusual war: Desert Storm & the Gulf War. It’s based on the book by Marine Anthony Swofford about his experiences in Saudi Arabia & Kuwait.

The movie follows ‘Swoff’ and his fellow soldiers through the deserts, but mostly follows them through the boredom and directionless of a war fought primarily through air power, at a distance. This makes the rare encounters with death all the more horrific than in other war films. Think ‘Apocolpse now’ meets ‘Waiting for Godo’, except not as good as either of them.
It’s an interesting insight into modern wars and soldiers, but lacked a grand narrative, a message, anything to give it some real punch. Good but certainly not un-missable. As usual, check out the reviews at rotten tomatoes for a second opinion.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Posted in 2 Stars, Movies, Reviews | 1 Comment »

Workingman’s Death

Posted by redkoireviews on 12/06/2006

Workingman's DeathWorkingman’s death brings the audience into the lives of working people from five of the most brutal working worlds.

Ukrainian coal miners working in an illegal mine not more than a foot high. Indonesian men hauling over 100kg of sulphur up the sides of a hellish mountain. Nigerians whose daily chore is the bloody slaughter thousands of goats. A Pakistani beech where the steel hulks of freighter ships go to be slaughtered and recycled. Chinese steel workers who can see the signs of progress in a move away from sheer physical work and onto more ‘know how’. See the Film Festival synopsis for more detail.
The scenes certainly make you appreciate the life of luxury we live in Australia. The abattoir scenes are not for the faint hearted. So grizzly where the scenes, my nose smelt the snuff of nauseating abattoirs I’ve visited in the past. Smell triggered purely by sight – that’s weird.

Although visually gripping, we never really get to know any of the people. That makes the film a lot less compelling than it could have been. Another director might have used some stats, or some contrasting images from the western world to score some political points, but not this one. Being a political animal, I feel the power of these peoples stories was not fully brought home to the audience. For alternative views, see those on Rotten Tomatoes

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Posted in 2 Stars, Movies, Reviews | 1 Comment »

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

Posted by redkoireviews on 08/06/2006

Guards GuardsGuards! Guards! is the very first in the long line of books involving the City Watch of Ahnk Morpork. Commander of the Watch is the drunkard Vimes, accompanies only by Nobby and Sergeant Colon until dwarf raised ‘Carrot’ arrives.

This motley crew sober up enough to wrangle with the a new problem for the city of Ahnk Morpork – an oversized dragon – and a familiar problem – someone trying to overthrow the cities ruler.

I can’t say it’s my most favourite Pratchett – the characters just don’t seem to have as much depth to them. Vimes himself becomes a far more interesting character in later books. While the plot has some nice class politics weaved in, it’s not nearly as interesting as the plot from Thud!

Having said all that, it’s funny and entertaining. It sets the scene for the development of some of Pratchetts best characters.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Posted in 2 Stars, Books, Reviews | 2 Comments »

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

Posted by redkoireviews on 28/01/2006

Harry Potter PosterI’m a fan of the Harry Potter books, and the previous movies have been pretty good, but this movie was a let down. It’s a good example of what happens when you create an abridged version of a book as a movie. The downsizing of the plot creates loose ends, and makes Voldemorts return seem a bit out of the blue.
As for the new Dumbledore: he’s a cardboard cutout compared to the previous actors. The kids are ok but not as able to rely on cuteness to replace acting ability. Someone decided playing up the romance would be a good idea, even inventing a more romantic roll for Longbottom. Oh, and I expected the Voldemort scenes to be much scarier. One for the DVD player on a rainy day. If you want more detail, see the wikipedia entry.
My Rating: 2 Stars

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Symphony in the Domain

Posted by redkoireviews on 21/01/2006

GershwinThis years Symphony in the Domain has focused on the work of George Gershwin. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra where excellent, as was conductor and pianst Wayne Marshall.
The melodies derived from musicals where a bit of a rush for my liking – better to keep the whole songs in tact.
Sharing the perfromance with 70,000 other people makes this more of a social event and less of a musical one. Conversations, smoking and being half a kilometre from the musicans are all pretty standard for this kind of outdoor event, but they do detract from the event. Like reading an abridged Shakespere, accesible but not as good as the original.
Oh, the 1812 overture was played again with a few lame fireworks and bangs, as is (apparently) the tradition. Yawn.
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

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