Monthly Archives: October 2008

Movie Review: WALL•E

Mood: Woo Hoo!

I now know why my parents only ever took my sisters and me to one movie at the cinemas when we were growing up, and why after my mum braved the expedition a second time (on her own), we never went again.

Here are a few things I discovered when J and I took M to see WALL•E a few weeks ago.

1. It’s bloody expensive to take the whole family to the movies. Not only do you have to pay for the movie tickets, you also need to have enough snacks to last the duration of the movie in order to keep the kids happy. And snacks cost a fortune.

2. Kids will only sit still for a short period of time. When they feel they’re done with sitting still, they will wriggle like they have ants in their pants.

3. There is only so much water you can feed a child before she needs to go to the bathroom. And when she needs to go, she needs to go.

It’s just as well that M is so darn gorgeous and I love her to bits. Little Miss was actually very well behaved on the day, considering some of the stories her Daddy had told me of their previous movie expeditions. It may have had something to do us letting her have as much sugary coloured popcorn as she could eat, or me letting her climb all over me during the movie, but the fact that we stayed to the end of the movie was a huge achievement. Well, I stayed to the end – Daddy had to take M to the bathroom in the last 5 minutes of the movie. Let’s just say Daddy was not the most favourite person in the eyes of the young family he climbed over twice.

The synopsis of the movie appears below.

What if mankind had to leave Earth, and somebody forgot to turn the last robot off?

Academy Award-winning writer-director Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo") and the inventive storytellers and technical geniuses at Pixar Animation Studios ("The Incredibles", "Cars", "Ratatouille") transport moviegoers to a galaxy not so very far away for a new computer-animated cosmic comedy about a determined robot named WALL•E.

After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, WALL•E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) discovers a new purpose in life (besides collecting knick-knacks) when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. EVE comes to realise that WALL•E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to the planet’s future, and races back to space to report her findings to the humans (who have been eagerly awaiting word that it is safe to return home). Meanwhile, WALL•E chases EVE across the galaxy and sets into motion one of the most exciting and imaginative comedy adventures ever brought to the big screen.

Joining WALL•E on his fantastic journey across a universe of never-before-imagined visions of the future, is a hilarious cast of characters including a pet cockroach, and a heroic team of malfunctioning misfit robots.

Filled with surprises, action, humor and heart, WALL•E was written and directed by Andrew Stanton, produced by Jim Morris, co-produced by Lindsey Collins and features original and innovative sound design by Academy Award winner Ben Burtt ("Star Wars", "Indiana Jones", "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial").

After so much hype, I’m really glad that the movie lived up to my expectations. It was a very cute movie – child friendly, but also adult friendly. The animations were so well done. There was enough on screen to keep everyone entertained – even those big people, like J, who saw the movie twice in 2 weeks. You felt WALL•E’s loneliness just as if he was human. You smiled at the blossoming relationship between WALL•E and EVE. It was genuinely heart-wrenching when EVE’s programming shut her down for retrieval and WALL•E is trying everything under the sun to interact with EVE again.

The triumph over trials and tribulations was well done. And as one would expect with a Pixar feature, there would be a happy ending – but the movie did keep you guessing till the end. For a second there, the movie could have ended without the happy ending – or at least a different ending, but then, the warm and fuzzies come through in the end.

And the movie made you think a little about the impact we have on our environment. The not-so-subtle message of “Recycle or Bust” is very prevalent. It may be too little too late for some of the older audience in the theatre, but if the message can be passed on to the little ones, they may think twice about what they should do with the packaging that comes with everything these days.

Rating:

Continuing with the Six Degrees game, I was surprised and amused I was able to discover direct links! There are 3 direct links between The Bank Job and WALL•E.

1. Saffron Burrows was in One Night Stand (1997) with John Ratzenberger.
2. Saffron Burrows was in Nevada (1997) with Kathy Najimy.
3. David Suchet was in The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) with John Ratzenberger.

And Bacon numbers:

Ben Burtt (WALL•E) has a Bacon number of 2.
* Ben Burtt was in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) with Natalie Portman.
* Natalie Portman was in New York, I Love You (2008) with Kevin Bacon.

Elissa Knight (EVE) has a Bacon number of 2.
* Elissa Knight was in Cars (2006) with John Goodman (I).
* John Goodman (I) was in Death Sentence (2007) with Kevin Bacon.

Jeff Garlin has a Bacon number of 2.
* Jeff Garlin was in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) with Steve Eastin.
* Steve Eastin was in Rails & Ties (2007) with Kevin Bacon.

Fred Willard has a Bacon number of 2.
* Fred Willard was in The Year That Trembled (2002) with Marin Hinkle.
* Marin Hinkle was in Rails & Ties (2007) with Kevin Bacon.

John Ratzenberger has a Bacon number of 2.
* John Ratzenberger was in Cars (2006) with John Goodman (I).
* John Goodman (I) was in Death Sentence (2007) with Kevin Bacon.

Kathy Najimy has a Bacon number of 2.
* Kathy Najimy was in Bam Bam and Celeste (2005) with John Cho.
* John Cho was in The Air I Breathe (2007) with Kevin Bacon.

Sigourney Weaver (Axiom‘s computer) has a Bacon number of 2.
* Sigourney Weaver was in The TV Set (2006) with Kathryn Joosten.
* Kathryn Joosten was in Rails & Ties (2007) with Kevin Bacon.

We saw Journey to the Centre of the Earth (in 3D) after WALL•E, so that will be my next review. Stay tuned!

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Dilbert Does It Again!

Mood: Quietly Giggly

Yesterday’s Dilbert hit just a little too close to home – for both me and J!

Cold & Frosty October Days

Mood: So Cold!

What is going on with the weather in Sydney?

After a brief glimpse of beautiful warm weather over the past couple of weeks, Sydney has frozen over in the last couple of days with an unexpected cold snap.

We started October with a couple of scorchers (for October) – that first week scored a record high of nearly 35°C before the temperate evened out to the high teens / low twenties. It had been mostly sunny too – a real treat for everyone as we head into summer.

The weekend was absolutely gorgeous – a top of nearly 27°C on Sunday with brilliant sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. Saturday was just as nice – a little milder but gorgeous beach weather. But all the glorious weather came to a grinding halt yesterday.

Monday was decidedly cooler – although the temperature was in the low 20s, the air felt like it was at least 10°C cooler. The temperature kept dropping on Tuesday. Yesterday morning, we woke to a time warp and wondered where summer went – the morning air felt icy and there was a good reason why – single digit, and all day, the temperature struggled to get to the mid-teens. So cold was yesterday that Sydney recorded snow in the outer suburb of Katoomba. Yes, snow in October.

Last night was freezing. I wore my fleecy jumper to bed. I almost piled on 2 extra blankets in the end too and had to sleep with the doors closed. It got down to 7°C overnight.

It hasn’t been that much better today. We have been struggling to get to 15°C all day, but thankfully without yesterday’s biting wind. On the downside, there has been more rain.

Getting home tonight is going to be fun – not!

Bring back the warm weather!!! Fingers crossed Sunday will be a lovely day – I would hate to work at an outdoor event if it’s pelting down!

Life As A Part-Time Stepmother

Mood: Just Is

Life as a non-parenting stepmother is a lot harder than I imagined.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with J and Miss M. I am enjoying the role of occasional step-mum – being with Miss M is making me very clucky. And I do love her to bits. But fact remains that I am still only an occasional step-mum. And as a non-parent, I don’t really have any parenting rights.

I have a lot of opinions about Miss M and how the divorce is impacting on Miss M. Fortunately for Miss M, J and JX have been mature about the demise of their marriage, and both have Miss M’s best interests at heart. They do take their parental obligations very seriously and they try to present a united co-parenting front – I just wish they were stricter about the rules behind that united co-parenting front.

For the past month, Miss M has been staying overnight with J on Saturdays every weekend. This came off the back of Miss M asking JX if she could see Daddy more often. J of course agreed immediately, and as a result, I have been invited to spend time with them both every weekend (if nothing else but to give J a bit of a breather).

Miss M has mostly been well behaved. She has had the occasional tantrum while I’ve been there, but if J reasoned with her, she usually settled down after a short time. Drop-offs were slightly better too – she would cry for a little while, but not kicking and screaming as much, which was good for everyone. It was always exhausting for everyone involved if Miss M kicks and screams, from Miss M to J and JX, to me, with a flow on effect to JX’s parents and grandmother when she finally gets Miss M inside the house.

So, for a month, things looked like they were getting better. Until the weekend before last.

We had planned to go out to the city for lunch and other activities on the Sunday. By the time J and Miss M arrived at my door, J was already looking exhausted. Miss M had been playing up on the Saturday, and J was hoping she would be a good girl for the rest of the weekend. J and I were introducing Miss M to the culinary delight that is Yum Cha, and we had asked Miss M to try everything that was put in front of her. Miss M didn’t have to like everything nor eat every bite, but at least be good and try everything.

We met up with Sarah, Ralph, Emily, Penny, Anna and Ian at Marigold. Sunday Yum Chas with this group was always fun, and today was no exception. Considering Miss M had met Emily only, she was surprisingly terrific with everyone else at the table – friendly and smiley, and well behaved throughout most of lunch. Miss M ate a lot of food – she loved her noodles and discovered the joys of scallop dumplings (my favs too). Impressively, Miss M showed everyone near-perfect behaviour for nearly 90 minutes!

The afternoon was spent wandering around Darling Harbour (where Miss M played for a while) and Paddy’s Markets. Before long, it was time to head home, and J and I were both grateful for a near perfect day with Miss M. I was being dropped home because, until further notice, I have been asked to not accompany J at the drop-offs because JX’s dad thinks my presence is "inappropriate". (Hear this, old man – piss off, and mind your own business.)

As we got to my front door, Miss M started her whimpering. She wanted extra cuddles and kisses and wouldn’t let me go. After some time, I asked her to be good for Daddy for the rest of the day, to which she seemed to understand and agree.

I heard from J the following day that the drop-off was the worst one yet.

After they left me, J and Miss M went to Ikea and had some dinner, as instructed by JX who needed more time to do whatever it was that she needed to do. For the next couple of hours, J and Miss M had a lovely time, and the whole way back to her house, Miss M seemed to understand and agree to being a good girl at handover with minimal fuss.

But all that changed when they pulled up at the front door.

Miss M grabbed hold of the rollbar in J’s car and started kicking and screaming as soon as J turned off the car engine. After a small struggle, J wrestled Miss M out of the car and the carry-on got worse. Miss M was kicking and pinching and clawing and punching and crying, all the while screaming hurtful things like "I hate Mummy" and "I don’t want to live with Mummy". For the next 15 minutes, J and JX tried to calm Miss M down before JX took her inside the house, but to no avail. In the end, J had to drive away and left JX to deal with the screaming child.

Ten minutes down the road, J received a phone call from JX, saying Miss M was refusing to calm down and JX needed back up. So J spent the next 20 minutes trying to calm down the little one over the phone. Nothing. Miss M kept screaming and crying throughout the conversation. In the end, a time-out was called and eventually, Miss M calmed down.

When J told me this, I kind of jumped straight to solution mode. Although reluctant to tell him the straight blunt ugly truth – that I suspect Miss M deliberately threw tantrums to get her way, that Miss M should have been sent to a time-out straight away on that particular afternoon, that J and JX sometimes lacked a united approach when it came to disciplining their child, etc, I tentatively told him what I thought.

I felt that J and JX need to set a strict routine re: frequency of Miss M’s visits, and pick up times and drop-off times, as well as the routine on the afternoons leading up to the drop-off. Miss M needs a routine so she can predict every weekend what will happen, so that there will be less tears and fuss at the end of the day and everyone is happy. Chopping and changing the frequency of Miss M’s visits was not good for her. Giving in to Miss M’s demands to call Daddy at 6am to hurry him out bed and into his car so her visit could start sooner was quite possibly an unwise move. And random drop-off times are bad – very bad.

In my own way, as gently as I could, I told J that they all should commit to a pattern for Miss M’s visits. Decide on the pattern and stick to it. For example, sleepovers every fortnight, day visits on alternate weekends, pick up at 8am sharp, drop-off at 5pm sharp. In the hours leading up to drop-off, set a routine – eat lunch at noon, play for a while, and then take Miss M home. If JX wanted Miss M to be fed before drop-off, then fine – dinner at 5pm, drop-off at 6pm. No deviations. Make it happen every week, not this random system where J feeds Miss M once in a while before dropping her home. And no, JX, there will be no more of this "I need a bit of extra time so can you drop her off later" business – forgive me for being bitchy, but when she doesn’t work and has had all frigging week to get things done, asking for more time past 5pm on a Sunday afternoon is beyond ridiculous.

J and I have tried to work through this the best way we know how – by talking. But I often feel I have no right to interfere, and I don’t particularly want to come across as a Know-It-All – because what could be thrown back in my face is "You’re not a parent, and she’s not your child, so butt out."

Last weekend was a little bit better, but only a little bit. After the awful way things ended the previous weekend, it was decided that J would take Miss M every Sunday for the next 4 weeks. I was against this as I didn’t feel a month was long enough for the pattern to grow on Miss M – as was evidenced by the previous set of 4 weeks. But can I say that? Anyway, so J had Miss M for the day, and they went to the Crows Nest Fair, and then to Ikea, and then home. There were a couple of tantrums during the day, but they worked throug
h the tantrums and Miss M did not become the all-fighting all-screaming nightmare at drop-off time.

And a bit of gentle digging yielded a bit more information for J. Turns out JX spends more time doing stuff she needs to get done at home than originally indicated, and doesn’t play with Miss M as much as originally indicated. According to J, JX is always banging on about how much housework she does during the week, and because she is so busy completing the housework, Miss M is left to her own devices a lot of the time. Apparently, JX is busy all day every day doing housework. Again, forgive me for what I’m about to say, but how much housework is generated by 4 adults and 1 child living in a 3-bedroom house?

So of course, when Miss M is with J, all attention is focussed on Miss M. They play, they do things together. Everything is all about Miss M. And I’m guilty by association. When I’m with Miss M, my entire attention is focussed on Miss M. Which does explain, to a degree, why she wants to stay with J.

In light of this recent piece of information, J and Miss M have reverted to the pattern that J originally wanted – fortnightly sleepovers, and day visits on alternate weekends. Day visits will now take place on Saturdays, so J can take Miss M to Kindy Gym (which Miss M seems to enjoy and wants to continue). And JX is making a conscious effort to play with Miss M more – so far, so good.

And in the meantime, I will try my very best to not lose it when I hear they’ve deviated from the pattern again. No, I might not be a parent, and she might not be my child, but damn it, J is my partner, and I have a right. Because what happens in his life affects me too.

Fingers crossed things will settle down soon. Not only does J’s little girl need a pattern and a strict routine, his big girl needs that too!

Movie Review: The Bank Job

Mood: Relaxed

This review is long overdue – considering we watched this movie in mid-August!

After a break in the Date Night pattern due to illness, J and I resumed our Tuesday night ritual on 19 August. Considering I wasn’t feeling very well that night, having already spent Monday and Tuesday at home in bed with my own bug (no thanks to being forced to stand in the freezing cold for 2 hours waiting for a sleepyhead forgetful golf pro to show up at the golf course for our 7am tee off), I was more than happy to do something that was relaxing.

The movie we settled on was The Bank Job, mainly because we both like Jason Statham and it looked like a bit of fun. And, at the time, it was the best film being shown. Synopsis below:

A car dealer with a dodgy past and new family, Terry has always avoided major-league scams. But, when Martine, a beautiful model from his old neighbourhood, offers him a lead on a foolproof bank hit on London’s Baker Street, Terry recognises the opportunity of a lifetime. Martine targets a roomful of safe deposit boxes worth millions in cash and jewellery. But, Terry and his crew don’t realize the boxes also contain a treasure trove of dirty secrets–secrets that will thrust them into a deadly web of corruption and illicit scandal that spans London’s criminal underworld, the highest echelons of the British government, and the Royal Family itself–the true story of a heist gone wrong, in all the right ways.

I thought the film was quite well executed. It was a fun romp and all the actors did a good job with their parts. I thought there would have been more car chases, explosions and running around on the parts of the bank robbers, but that wasn’t the case with this movie. The storyline was intelligent enough that it didn’t need blockbuster action sequences to pad it out. And I loved the juicy scandals – royals and members of parliament in sex scandals, militants holding the British government to ransom, police corruption, and MI5 tripping over themselves to cover up the mess. One would be forgiven for mistaking the movie for a documentary!

Jason Statham was broody in a good way. He is such a hunky man! Saffron Burrows was gorgeous on screen. Richard Lintern was calculating as the MI5 agent who forced Burrow’s Martine into recovering the scandalous material from the safe deposit boxes. And David Suchet’s Lew Vogel had just the right amount of titillating deviousness to spice up the film. All the supporting actors all gave spot on performances as well.

Rating:

Continuing with the Six Degrees game, there is 1 direct link from Wanted to The Bank Job:

1. James McAvoy was in Bright Young Things (2003) with Stephen Campbell Moore.

Jason Statham has a Bacon number of 2.
* Jason Statham was in Transporter II (2005) with Ernest Harden Jr.
* Ernest Harden Jr was in Rails & Ties (2007) with Kevin Bacon.

Saffron Burrows has a Bacon number of 2.
* Saffron Burrows was in Reign Over Me (2007) with Robert Harvey (I).
* Robert Harvey (I) was in Rails & Ties (2007) with Kevin Bacon.

Richard Lintern has a Bacon number of 2.
* Richard Lintern was in Syriana (2005) with Steven Hinkle.
* Steven Hinkle was in Loverboy (2005) with Kevin Bacon.

David Suchet has a Bacon number of 2.
* David Suchet was in The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) with George Belanger.
* George Belanger was in The Air I Breathe (2007) with Kevin Bacon.

We took another break from the movies after The Bank Job, but then managed to catch two flicks in the past two weeks. Next up: WALL•E.