Sunday, 25 January 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The Power of Less - The art of limiting yourself to the essentials

Title: The Power of Less - the art of limiting yourself to the essentials
Author: Leo Babauta

UK release: 12 February

You may have heard that there is something called a credit crunch or a credit squeeze or a financial crisis or a recession or downturn or a you're-frigging-fricking-fired-now-get-down-the-dole-or-welfare-office-you-scum-sucking-feltch-monkey-because-your-boss-sure-as-hell-isn't-giving-up-that-bonus-just-because-you-worked-your-ass-off-to-get-the-company-into-profit crunch/squeeze/munch/vice-like grip/pucker-punch.

Well, what better way to wile away those myriad hours of not working than by reading a book on the Art – Yes, THE ART – of limiting yourself to the essentials.

Leo Babauta, a man whose name is as punchable as the cash-in nonsense he so obviously espouses, really knows about living on essentials because he is... well, he is... a what? A bird? A fish? A rhino? Clearly, he is some sort of invertebrate living solely on the bare bones basics.

In fact, what exactly are our essentials for that matter?

1. Air
2. Water
3. Food (The kind that doesn't poison you and isn't going to fight back. Much.)
4. Warmth
5. A sexual outlet (Inlet? Whatever, you know what I mean)

Which means the essentials boil down to being homeless, breathing, drinking from taps in supermarket toilets, making sure you hit McDonald's bins around closing time and buying a decent fucking sleeping bag while knocking one out when you feel the urge, which won't be too often as you'll be too weak.

All the while, Babauta won't be living on essentials as Babauta has the residuals from this book to keep him warm. And if the residuals don't keep him warm he'll just chuck another copy on his wood-burning stove.

Message to all writers trying to take advantage of vulnerable people by convincing them they don't know anything and then suckering them into handing over money so you can tell them they're idiots: If you want to help people, go to a butcher, have yourself cut into good size steaks and get yourself shipped to a truly impoverished nation, the kind of place where people treat essentials like water and hygeine as luxuries. And stop tripping over yourself to get hard-up people to shell out hard earned money for another book on how to save money WHEN THEY COULD BE SPENDING IT ON SOMETHING ACTUALLY ESSENTIAL, LIKE FOOD, YOU VACUOUS TURDS.

Shatner Scale: Star Trek Generations (The Death of Kirk)
Must read:

Image via Wikimedia Commons, by chamo estudio, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Oscar Guess List Part III: And the winner could possibly may be...

UK release date: 23 January 2009
Starring: Sean Penn
Director: Gus Van Sant

While the nominees haven't even been announced yet winners won't be known until 22 February 2009, we at The No Show are confident enough to pronounce one not-yet-nominated now officially nominated film as the winner on the Best Film award. Because we're just that confident.

Among the Front-Running Outsiders for an Oscar at this year's Academy Awards and Executive Valet Car Wash®, this is the one that will out-front-run the rest: Milk.

The reasons are simple:

1. According to every right wing conservative talk show host, Hollywood is run by the Pink Mafia. Milk, by definition, should be super gay friendly. Which means the Pink Mafia will vote for it, even if Anthony Hegarty thinks it's "like blackface to me … it’s a continuing Hollywood minstrel show, co-opting queer stories and perversely building up the careers of these heterosexual bastards with the plumage of effeminacies, that they can wear this plumage of effeminacies without having to really be accountable”. And despite MsMarmiteLover's view of Sean Penn as a "thin lipped miseryguts" (see comments on previous post).

2. Milk has a large cast [Ed's note: tee hee] with lots of roles for gay actors to play gay characters and wear clothes they might actually have worn in the 1970s instead of dressing up like ridiculous caricatures or Agent Smith out of The Matrix. [Ed's note: What? He's NOT gay? Really, are you sure?] The fact that the majority of the actors cast are probably not gay is neither here nor there: it's the thought that counts.

3. Milk will split the vote: The small percentage of the voting Academy that is not part of the Pink Mafia will be tripping over themselves to vote for either Kate Winslet's film or Kate Winslet's other film "Slumdog and its main rival, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", splitting the vote and leaving Milk to pick up the majority. [Ed's note: There's only one Winslet film in the running, but the theory remains strong - that quotes from and they know how these things are rigged play out]

4. Milk got nothing at the Golden Globes: a sure sign of imminent victory.

5. Most important: Sean Penn is a straight playing a gay. And as everyone in Hollywood knows, if a straight plays a gay then he's truly stretching himself (and possibly his anus - depends on how Method he is as an actor) [Ed's note: Yeah, not sure about that one... yep, checked with Legal, it has to go]. This automatically makes the film more of an Acting Event and not just uber-camp panto. Which it would have been had it starred Robin Williams, but what were the chances of that happening since the lead character is neither ridiculously earnest nor psychotic? [Ed's note: I really wish Williams would go back to the good old fashioned coke-fuelled days of crazy.] On the other hand, if Penn was a straight pretending to be a gay in the sad sad way that Adam Sandler played it in Larry and Harry Pretend to be Homosexuals for Comedic and Legal Reasons, the film wouldn't even qualify for consideration.

There is only one small flaw in this argument, Bald Oscar Statue Man. We at The No Show can exclusively reveal that Sean Penn might be gay himself, which puts his performance right out of the running and may kill the film's chances as well.

Here are the two tell-tale signs:

1. Sean Penn was married to Madonna.
2. Sean Penn is a liberal.

Both point conclusively to his samesexlovingness. Denied AGAIN Penn! FAIL.

Of course, many many people are under the impression that Milk tells the tale [Ed's note: tee hee hee] of Harvey Milk, who was San Francisco's first openly gay mayor - a bit like London's Boris Johnson (who can not be gay, simply because no self-respecting gay man would let himself look anything like that) - and who was also shot.

The fact is, Milk is all about Sean Penn trying desperately to earn the Oscar that was so cruelly denied to one when he brilliantly assayed the role of the retard [Ed's note: no wait that was right] retard in I Am Sam by sticking his tongue under his lower lip and saying "uurrrrgh" occasionally. It really doesn't matter whether or not it's a great film or Sean Penn's great or Gus Van Sant is great, Milk was originally meant to star Harvey Feirstein and Penn has spent his whole career screaming "Love me! Love me! I want an Oscar" then pretending he's all anti-establishment and edgy and tough. And even though this makes Penn look and sound like a cock knocking hypocrite, we have to respect the sheer chutzpah.

Even though we haven't seen Milk, we imagine this role has Penn acting right down to the ends of the follicles in every single be-gelled and bouffanted piece of his hair, a true Hair Acting performance that goes far beyond Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times or David Kleinfeld in Carlito's Way. And we think that'll be enough to push it over the edge. From behind. [Ed's note: Ok that's just about enough of that]

So go on, support Penn. Get Milk.

[Ed's note: Milk is directed by Gus Van Sant, who played bass in Skynard before the plane crash and guitar in the E-street Band after. His directorial career has mostly involved gay people or shooting - or, in the case of Good Will Hunting, both. Everyone thinks that film was made exclusively by Damon and Affleck - that they wrote it, starred in it, produced it, did all the crew stuff and made the merchandise but no, it was Van Sant. Sadly he was forced to remove the scene where Robin Williams screams into Matt Damon's face, 'How d'ya like them apples... on your chin?' in a funny Ethel Merman voice and the scene where Affleck shoots Damon screaming "Not so clever now, are you?" Both are on the Director's Cut DVD. Ok, on OUR copy.]

Shatner Scale: Kirk
Worth Seeing: Why the hell not? Might as well have something to talk about the day after the Academy Awards and Universal Ball-Bearing Exhibition®.

Footnote: If Milk does not appear on the list of nominees for Best Film when they're announced on Thursday (22 January), we will deny all knowledge of this post ever happening.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

The Guess List (Part II)

Picking up from the first Guess List, here are yet more possible contenders for the Best Picture Award at the 2009 Academy Awards Oscars Extravaganza and International Pig Roast®. And like every sequel, this one will take what was a good idea and drive it into the ground, with slightly less content and a lot more filler.


Director: Baz Luhrmann
UK release date: 26 December 2008
The moment Hugh Jackman was announced as host of the next Academy Awards ceremony, two possible and parallel universe opened up before us. In one, Australia takes every award possible except the Best Actor nod for Jackman. In the second, Australia gets nothing and Jackman isn't even nominated. And Nicole Kidman snaps in two when caught in a revolving door on her way into the event (later stitched back together with her lower half on backwards - no-one notices but it does make her thrice annual visit to the toilet a bit tricky from then on). Only time will tell if the second option comes true, but we're crossing every digit on this one. Plus a few strangers' fingers as well.

As for the film, we'll leave that to guest reviewer and our favourite Twitterer, @MsMarmitelover: "Australia one of worst films ever. Kidman, the baddies, all caricatures. Jokey 1st half, bizarre war-time 2nd half. Lots of tears, esp. Jackman."

Verdict: It will only win if the judging panel is made up exclusively of Nicole Kidman fans. By that, we mean Nicole Kidman and her inverted lower half. Even then, it's not a lock.

The Wrestler
Director: Darren Aronofsky
UK release date: 16 January 2009

Mickey Rourke explodes in a metaphor of his life writ large on the silver screen. By which we mean he plays a broken man who gets even more broked as he goes along, meeting with other broken folks who try to salvage their broken little lives through conciliatory sex and a bit of grifting. And then he learns a life lesson by having his face and other body parts smashed into a slick, sweaty wrestling ring canvas floor time and again.

All of this is instead of a more appropriate metaphor, that of Mickey Rourke playing the part of a hugely talented actor with an ego the size of Montana who spent too much time defending his title as a hugely talented actor with his fists and even more time trying to look a bit more like Ivana Trump through the art of cosmetic surgery (or is it Melanie Griffith? Can't be sure, really, until the swelling settles sometime in 2012) , only to crawl his way back to the big stage by playing the same mumbling mumblers he always seems to play (largely because he can't really open his mouth unassisted at this point in his career). Which is all too bad because that would have made a better film.

Verdict: Won't win Best Film. Might take Best Performance by an Overstuffed Comic Action Figure.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Director: Woody Allen
UK release date: 6 February 2009
It's Woody's latest return to non-form. Every year, Woody "The Woodsman" Allen (not to be confused with John Holmes) has another return to non-form but this time, he's really returned to non-form with a film few people have seen but everyone agrees is a return to non-form. This time non-Woody is played by Javier Bardem who is caught between a young woman (Mia Farrow Penelope Cruise Cruz) and an even younger woman (Soon-Yee-Previn Scarlett Johannsen).

This is another in Woody's European series where he takes beautiful famous young actors to various Old Country locations and lets them play out mediocre versions of his "older, better films". All of which were populated by older less beautiful and far more talented people.

Verdict: Oscar Schmoscar, it'd take a time machine for Woody to pick up diddly from the Academy.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Director: David Fincher
UK release date: 6 February 2009
Every so often, Brad Pitt has to kick back and get away from the Brady Bunch at home, so he decides to makes long, long, long movies. Angelina does the same. Trust us, it's amazing how six screaming kids and a ready supply of nannies can motivate you to get up and out the house to make as many films as possible.

This year, Brad and Angie (or Angelinad, as the tabloids know them) will be going head to head. In TCCOBB, Brad plays a man who ages backwards - a little like my cousin Derek who is 27 but has the brain of a three-year-old or my uncle Dave, who is dead. At last count, the film lasts 17.5 hours, but no-one's quite sure when it begins or ends because the ends are taped together.

Verdict: A strong outsider. Simply because, hey, we need to give working parents a break. And the film kept about 1,000 people in jobs, which is what the Oscars are really about: future job security.

Changeling and Gran Turino
Director: Clint Eastwood
UK release dates: 26 November 2008 and 20 February 2009 respectively
Two films, one squint. Clint does what Clint does best: directs films, squints and wears a t-shirt. Because if you can do all three at his age, that's pretty much all you should ever do. Otherwise you might find yourself sounding like a Conservative old fart with too much time on his hands.

Verdict: The Academy will be so impressed that Clint hasn't died yet, they may give him Best Film for both and just hope he goes away for awhile.


Waltz with Bashir
Director: Ali Forman
UK release date: 21 November 2008
It's animated. Animated things don't win Best Film Oscars. Because if that happened, then what would all those huge complicated multi-layered, many actored EPICS do? They'd fade away, that's what. And from that moment on, every single actor in Hollywood would be perfecting their voiceovers and wearing sweats and baseball hats and not shaving anything anymore. Basically, all of Hollywood would look like Philip Seymour Hoffman. And The Academy won't stand for that, no sir, nuh uh.

Instead, they will continue to nominate the small indies and the worthy performances, but the Big Nod will go to the one that cost the most, hired the most people and generated bucketloads for the industry because THAT's the kind of film The Industry The Academy wants to keep on making.

Verdict: The director is Ali Forman. Which was a great fight. And remember Ali didn't win Best Film. Despite Will Smith, looking, sounding and acting nothing like Muhammed Ali. As for Waltz with Bashir, Wall.E will walk it.

The Road
Director: John Hillcoat
UK release date: No date announced yet
As the tagline says: In the most depressing time since The Great Depression comes the most depressing film this decade based on the most depressing book you'll ever read. If you want to see the abyss, to actually taste the full salty taste of hopelessness and really understand just what bleak means, then this is for you. We all love a good weep but we're not so sure about a wrist-slitting, bleach-drinking plunge into suicidal misery that only a good dose of smack can bring you out of. Definitely not The Full Monty sequel that Sony ordered.

Verdict: A maybe for Oscar-glory. And I can't wait to see Hugh Jackman's dance interpretation.

The Brothers Bloom
Director: Rian Johnson
UK release date: No date announced yet
It's like Grifters but by the bloke who made Brick. So you'll get loads of made-up words. And Rachel Weisz is in it. We can smell the Oscar. Trust us, this is the big outsider. Weisz, made-up words, Mark "Who? Oh THAT guy" Ruffalo. Watch this space. but don't bother with the film.

Verdict: If you have any money, this is the one. Seriously, we know stuff you don't. Have we ever steered you wrong before? Ok fair enough, we're totally lying.

So WHO will take the Biggest Oscar on the Biggest night of the Biggest Awards Show and Celebrity Ping-Pong Tournament
® of the Year?

Stay tuned for The No Show's pick...

[Ed's Note: Most of these images were found on the internets and some are copyright free while others are licensed under Creative Commons or GNU or they're promotional or whatever. Hope that's clear enough for everyone. Also, sorry for the rubbish caption sizes, I'm tired and it's late, so you'll just have to deal with it.]

Thursday, 1 January 2009

The Guess List

OK, so it's 2009 now and we're all supposed to have lists and so on, and since the NY Post Popwrap blog put forward Jarett Wieselman's "Best Movies To See This Fall" a couple of months ago AND the UK's illustrious and very shiny BBC has published its own feeble guess list of what might take the Best Film Oscar in 2009 AND the New York Magazine went and did the same damned thing, we figured it's just about time to drag our arses out of bed and start guessing whether any of these pseudo-possible-maybe Oscar contenders might be worth seeing in the first place.

And so, using the same lazy pithy, down and dirty, scattergun approach of these publishing titans, here is PART I of our guesswork (in order of UK release date):


Director: Stephen Daldry
UK release date: 2 January 2009

Post-war flashback drama. Stars Oscar-nominated Kate Winslet (statistically naked 48% of the time) and Oscar-nominated Ralph Fiennes (naked just 12% of the time). Based on an internationally best selling, Oprah Book Club sanctioned novel about sex and war crimes and sex. Director Daldry (rarely naked) has been nominated for two Oscars, won 27 other less impressive titles and received 22 nominations for awards that no-one can quite remember. They might as well have called the film "Give me your Oscar votes NOW, you stinking sons of bitches!". It should win. It must win. It won't win. Probably because Kate Winslet looks a bit silly as an older version of herself. Unless she's naked. Then she's fine.

Verdict: Always the bridesmaid.

Director: Ron Howard
UK release date: 9 January 2009

Ron "Richie 'Hot Balls' Cunningham" Howard likes make-up. He teamed up with Henry "Arthur 'The Fonz' Fonzerelli" Winkler in a pro-Obama Happy Days and Opie video pastiche thing that went out on the U Tubes before the election. Everyone looked 800 years old and nobody was fooled by Howard's 3.5cm-thick layer of make-up, much less Winkler's cucumber down the pants. (But Obama won anyway, so that's got to count for something.)

The fact that Ron Howard is behind the camera on Frost/Nixon - which is a film version of a play of a TV special of an article of a sketch on a napkin of some original interviews between former President Nixon and Sir Robert Frost - means that viewers can expect equally thick make-up and some tear-jerker moments thrown in for good measure. But no sex. I'm hoping. (God, now that I think about it, I can't stop thinking about it. Seriously. Even the title is like some emoticon from hell, Frost's pasty white body pressing down on Nixon's heaving hunchback... bleurg, I'm going to need a shower now. And a Tetanus shot.)

Verdict: As likely as Nixon coming back and retaking the Presidency in his inevitably decayed but no doubt strangely sweet smelling (like almonds?) Zombie form.

Director: Danny Boyle
UK release date: 9 January 2009

Danny Boyle directed Sunshine, Millions, 28 Days Later, Alien Love Triangle, The Beach, A Life Less Ordinary, Trainspotting and Shallow Grave. I'm doubting there'll be a toilet scene in Slumdog Millionaire [UPDATE: We have been reliably informed that the film DOES include a toilet diving scene, by the ever delightful @msMarmiteLover - see comments] full frontal from Keith Allen or Ewan McGregor. And those were the only Oscar-worthy moments in anything Boyle's done to date. Having said that, everyone likes this. So it might just come in second on the night. No: third. Definitely nearly maybe almost.

Verdict: Snowball's chance on a slightly chilly day in hell.

Director: John Patrick Shanley
UK release date: 6 February 2009

Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a perv. I still haven't recovered from the Happiness money shot (and that was a "a masterpiece of irony" according to IMDB reviewer drosse67 from Virginia). This time, PSH's playing a priest perv. Or accused of being a priest but turns out to be a perv. Or something. And Meryl Streep is in it as a nun apparently. (Streep as a nun - really? First Mamma Mia!, now this. What is wrong with Hollywood these days?)

Nope, I just don't quite get this one. The trailer makes it look like a comedy. Speed it up and add Yakety-Sax and it would be all over the internets. It looks like it was created with left-over wardrobe from McNight Shallamallabingbong's The Village, but without the whole "it-looks-really-old-but-the-Village-is-just-hidden-away-from-the-modern-world-like-the-Amish" thing. (Sorry, spoiler alert. Damn.)

Verdict: Prayer might help. Couldn't hurt, anyway.

Director: Thomas McCarthy

UK release date: 4 July 2008
I literlly know nothing about this at all. Not a damned thing. So here's my guess at what this film is about: someone comes to visit someone else. It's a surprise, unexpected. Maybe... someone from the other person's past? Or, no wait - an ALIEN. Yes, that's much better. An alien drops down from his spaceship to visit someone unexpectedly. A young boy. A young boy without a father figure in his life. He bonds with the little alien and together they discover much about each other's lives and, in so doing, discover much about themselves. Then his mom finds out, freaks out, throws a glass of water on the alien and it melts. Prompting an attack on the Earth by the alien mothership. Which is finally destroyed when two brave but foolhearty volunteers steal an alien attack ship, fly straight into the mothership and download a computer virus that doesn't do anything, but unbeknownst to our two heroes, they are both carriers of a real virus that is deadly to the aliens and kills them all off.

Verdict: If that's what The Visitor is about, it's totally going to win.

2009 Academy Award nominations are announced in Los Angeles on 22 January ahead of the ceremony itself on 22 February.

Stay tuned for PART II of our guesswork: COMING SOON.