Saturday, 5 December 2015

New Website: A Revenge Story

Over the past few days I have been tearing down webpages, transferring domains, trawling through templates, scribbling CSS (very carefully – I ain't no master coder) and basically just destroying my website so that it can be reborn. The primary goal being, to use a bunch of webdesign jargon: a more dynamic, customisable and content-rich experience.

So it is now that I say good night and good luck to my old Blogger page:

And good morning and good luck to this new website you're looking at right now.

This new site is still pretty bare, possibly a bit too white, and lacking some pizzazz, but over time it should come to feel more "lived in". Already I'm feeling pretty good about it. It's clean and simple and allows me to present of a lot of my work.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Impress Me: Episode 2

This week I was lucky enough to rope good guys Josh and Drew into being contestants on the second episode of my experimental new game show podcast, Impress Me! It's a show filled with challenges that they couldn't have possibly been prepared for, but under the circumstances I think they both did an excellent job! Only one contestant can ever truly impress me though, and you'll have to listen to the episode to discover who that was.

One of the segments in this episode involved Josh and Drew drawing some sketches. Here are those drawings:

Drew's "coward lion"
Josh's "melancholy earwitness"

Monday, 9 November 2015

The Primary Instinct (Review)

As a long-time fan of prolific podcaster David Chen, I was rather excited to watch his debut film carefully titled The Primary Instinct. The movie is essentially a filmic adaptation of Chen's successful The Tobolowsky Files podcast, in which actor Stephen Tobolowsky shares stories from his life with lightning sharp insights into the human experience. The Primary Instinct doesn't take this premise much further, and is essentially a concert film. Stephen Tobolowsky tells poignant stories as he would on the podcast, but the difference here is that we get to see him do it. The question, therefore, is does this simple visual addition to the format warrant the huge jump from podcast to film? That's question I will answer in the next paragraph because this one's reached a decent length.

Yes. I do think that The Primary Instinct is a success. Stephen Tobolowsky is an actor through and through, so he can't help but be an interesting visual presence. In this film we get to see him prance about the stage as he imitates characters, and crumple to his knees breathlessly with the hilarious crux of a story. The most powerful visual is found when Stephen is in the middle of recalling events from long ago, and he grows still, and through close-ups we can see Stephen's eyes visualising what he describes. The content Stephen shares in both this film and his podcast is incredibly personal. But what makes his works transcend simple storytelling is that at the centre of these tales he always discovers great truths that we can all relate to. I can't believe how much Stephen has managed to do this over the past few years - he harvests his own life for so many incredible stories. I used to think, "surely he'll run out soon? There'll be nothing left to tell?" But now I think that will never happen. A life is filled with enough stories for a lifetime.

Funny, charming, heartbreaking... The Primary Instinct is a simple story-telling concert film in construction, but is filled to the brim with fascinating pontifications. I'd recommend The Tobolowsky Files podcast and The Primary Instinct film to anyone without thinking. I can't wait to see what Chen and Tobolowsky produce next.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Top 5 Retired MMO Launchers/Patchers

Please be advised that most of this listicle is based on memory and opinion rather than research and fact.

Some used sounds, some had moving graphics. Some displayed the latest patch notes, some allowed you to login, or pre-download a future patch. But whatever they were like, they all kept your game updated. If you've played any MMO, you've spent a long time looking at them. Therefore its easy to feel pretty nostalgic about some of these launcher windows. And there are a bunch that have been changed over the years, or are connected to a game that's been discontinued. And with Star Wars: The Old Republic recently completely redesigning its launcher, I was prompted to make this little list of a few launchers I remember the most fondly over the years.

5. World of WarCraft

First on my list comes the original launcher for the biggest MMO around. It had a cool themed aesthetic, updated with each expansion to the game. As you can see I've included a picture of the Wrath of the Lich King launcher. It also came equipped with patch pre-loading. It was a cool, basic launcher.

4. Star Wars: Galaxies

SWG's launcher was the most feature & information rich of any MMO I've seen. Unfortunately I can't actually find an image of the real launcher, so this screenshot of the SWG EMU launcher will have to suffice. (If you do have a shot of the original SWG launcher, please let me know!) To my fallable memory I believe SWG's launcher displayed server status, server selection, patch notes, and even allowed you to adjust in-game settings before you hit Play.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Bridge of Spies (Review)

Steven Spielberg is a dependably good film director. Obviously. The worst thing I can say about his filmography is that a large portion of it feels light on ambitious creativity. I would say that his films tell stories in a less stylistic, less subjective fashion than most modern storytellers (though of course, a film can never truly be objective). Perhaps I only feel this because Spielberg's style has become the definite Hollywood archetype in my mind; the most movie-like of all American movies. The vanilla formula of film.

This is not to say that Spielberg's films, and Bridge of Spies, lack style. On the contrary, Spielberg's latest feature is gorgeous. The cinematography (by Janusz Kaminski) ranges from great to excellent. The way some scenes use light and position the characters in frame really brings the drama alive.
And there's plenty of drama to bring alive. Bridge of Spies tells a sprawling cold war story, but most importantly keeps it personal, grounded and unpredictable. The main characters really get a chance to live and change over the course of the film. It's even surprisingly funny, for a film such as it is. Though they're given writing credits on the film, it's difficult to say specifically what areas of the screenplay can be attributed to the Coen brothers.

Tom Hanks is easy to get behind as the morally steadfast lead, but Mark Rylance is the standout cast member. His Russian spy is a delicately portrayed and memorable character upon whose shoulders the film's plot safely rests. Oh and Jesse Plemons is there of course, because he's in like every movie now.
I hadn't heard anyone rave about this film before seeing it, so I went in tentatively. But I had no need to worry. Bridge of Spies is a very well put together cold war thriller. It's a Spielberg film through and through, and therefore won't be blowing any minds, but it will tell you a powerful story in a beautiful way, and that's good cinema.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

A Bad Case of Loving Who #5

My Doctor Who recap show continues. I was very glad to find myself loving the latest installment, "The Girl Who Died".

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Insanity Project

I'm ecstatic to have finally completed a film I've been dragging through production for a fair few months now. The Insanity Project is a long short thriller set and shot in Darwin, featuring all the local talent I could get my hands on during the busy month of July. It's a strange creation, but aren't they all?

Monday, 5 October 2015

A Bad Case of Loving Who: Episode 3

In which we dive into the latest Doctor Who two-parter, and muse about who's probably dead, not dead or kinda dead. This show is weird.

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Martian (Review)

I really hate having such a predictable, worn-out opinion, but I think The Martian novel by Andy Weir is far superior to The Martian film directed by Ridley Scott. There's no doubt that reading the book before seeing the film negatively impacted my views on the adaptation. Compared to the thrilling dense logic of Andy Weir's against-all-odds narrative, the film feels like a bit of a melodramatic, overly-sentimental mess.

But it isn't bad. I don't think Ridley Scott ever makes bad movies. But he does make movies that feel like they could have been sharper, and The Martian is one of them. So although the movie gets a lot of aspects right, and delivers some exciting set-pieces, I think it butchers what makes this story great.

The story obviously centres around the lead character, Mark Watney. I find Matt Damon to be a great Mark Watney. Unfortunately so much of the character's ingenuity that made him a great protagonist is missing from the film. This comes as a side effect of how many subplots are removed from the film's narrative. Basically, a lot more stuff goes wrong in the book, thereby making Mark Watney a more impressive Mars survivor. A major message of the story is how powerful science is, how much humans can achieve when they put their mind to it, how cool this is, but by simplifying Watney's challenges the film makes this a less powerful theme. Surviving Mars is depicted as a much easier feat in the movie. By leaving scientific details unexplained but highlighting Watney's somewhat rebellious nature, the movie makes Watney seem more reckless than ingenious.

Then there's just the filmic dramatisation of it all. I fell in love with the novel because of how real it feels, with logical situations and not-necessarily likeable people. It's probably my own fault for having so many expectations, but I was disappointed that the film lost this factor by over-emphasizing emotional beats. It just doesn't feel real anymore. Most offputting is the way the film depicts communication between characters in different parts of space. In the book this is no problem, it's all typed. Unfortunately the only thing the film does to make this screen-worthy is to have the characters say out loud what they are typing. That looks stupid. Here, let me try. I'm doing it right now. I am sitting in my room saying these words aloud. I feel like an idiot.

Well this is a downer. The film isn't bad though. I think it just stood little chance against the book it drew from, especially when it decided to simplify and dumb-down rather than adapt and explore the narrative. What should have been a taut, nail-biting outer-space The Truman Show is instead a mess of half explained science fiction wrapped in a sentimental sheet of tattered NASA canvas.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

A Bad Case of Loving Who: Episode 2

So far, Doctor Who Season 9 is actually pretty great. Chris and I are understandably shocked and chuffed. We had expected to spend most of our new Doctor Who podcast being disappointed, but colour us excited!

Here's our recap of The Witch's Familiar:

Thursday, 24 September 2015

It does indeed Take(s) Two 2 Tango

It was an honour to be sound recordist, 1st assistant director and a side character in Nathaniel Kelly's latest film, It Takes Two To Tango. It's a wacky comedy and feel-good high school lark, mockumentary style. At nearly 40 minutes in length and created with less than a shoestring, this was a stellar effort by Kelly and all the lovely people who dedicated some of their time to the project.

And the movie is now up on YouTube for all to consume. There's also a snazzy webpage all about the film over here!

Monday, 21 September 2015

New Podcast Materialising

Yes, I have started a few podcasts within the past few weeks. Now I just have to make sure they don't all die after one episode!

This latest one is a Doctor Who discussion podcast, which I've just started to coincide with the 9th Season of the show premiering. Doctor Who is a show that I love tremendously and often hate vehemently, and therefore it should be a good topic for some weekly TV conversation!

Here's our Episode #1.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Everest (Review)

When you trek into a film called Everest, which is based on true events and stars of slew of well-known actors, you have a pretty good idea what to expect. Probably an expansive drama or tragedy, portraying people at the peak of human endeavor, pushing themselves to the edge. That, Everest delivers. But we've seen that before. I feel the need to demand a little more out of this movie.

Starting with the positive, the cast is pretty amazing. I'm a big fan of Jason Clarke, and he's a great lead, surrounded by about a dozen other excellent actors. No trouble in this camp, they all deliver fine performances - though I'd argue they weren't given a lot to perform.

The story progresses slowly and predictably for the first half, without a lot of conflict or drama. But in the second half, when things start to go poorly for our climbers, the chain reaction of unfortunate events is effective. I'll tell ya, I didn't want to climb a mountain before seeing this film, but now I'm very put off.
Could someone tell Gyllenhaal the mountain's a little higher on the green screen  than that?
I think that in order to be an emotionally effective film, Everest should have focused on fewer characters and streamlined dramatic stakes. Basically, tighter storytelling. There are several key sections in the film where I did find myself engrossed by a moment of tension, or elation, but it never lasted or hit me as hard as it should have. The film is juggling too much, there's no room to breathe, and we're out of oxygen tanks.

But of course, this is a true story being told. Director Baltasar Kormákur likely juggles so much because he simply wants to portray this entire scenario with honesty. Unfortunately I just don't think it makes excellent drama.
Altogether now, woooaaahh!
The cinematography is of course excellent. Each section of the mountain is captured beautifully. There's also great sound design to match. When storms hit, you are sonically buffeted by wind and snow. Which is particularly striking when contrasted with a clever cut between an Everest storm and a quiet home in Australia. Throw in Dario Marianelli's beautiful - if forgettable - score, and you've got a lot of great filmmaking to enjoy.
Assuming this was shot after Nightcrawler and Southpaw, Gyllenhaal must be hurtin'!
In the end, I wanted this film to explore is the why. Why do these characters want to put themselves through this crippling challenge? Why climb Mount Everest? The film certainly acknowledges these questions, nods at them, flirts with them, but ultimately never brings anything satisfying to that discussion. The script simply doesn't try to say anything much interesting. Sure, the story successfully extracted some emotion from me, but it never investigated the meaning behind what happened, or told me why I should care.

Everest is the movie you expect it to be, but nothing more, and that left me somewhat disappointed. Good, but not great.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The Gift (Review)

How can you pursue a "fresh start" when you're the same person you always were?

If you haven't seen it, I'm going to say here - at the top - that I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and think it's a particularly excellent experience if you go into it knowing very littleabout the plot and characters. So I advise that you only read on if you have either seen The Gift, or you don't care about me trying to care about you right now.

The Gift depicts the slow and fascinating disruption of a married couple when they start to receive visits from an old friend. Now, that synopsis actually makes the film sound rather dull to me. But actually, the film is so laser focused on the three lead characters, on peeling away their layers, that the drama quickly becomes far more fascinating. From the opening scene it's all about learning who these characters are and, before long, relearning. Very little actually occurs during the film to change them, but as a viewer, discovering more about their pasts twists your affections in shocking ways. A powerful theme of the film is the question of whether a person can change, as an adult, from who they were as a child.

Like any superb thriller, The Gift plays on the audience's expectations. The film builds slowly, planting small seeds, aware that they will grow and multiply in the thinking viewer's mind. It reminded me of last year's Gone Girl in this way. Between every scene I felt the desire to turn to those around me to ask, "What do you think about [character] now?"

Perhaps it is thanks to the simple and relatable hook of the film (a visit from the past) that I found the audience to be pulled in very quickly. We wanted to know more about these characters, and before long the film made us regret it (in a good way).

Almost as an experiment to test audience engagement, the middle section of the film includes a series of jump scares (some of which pop, some sizzle out, and some are red herrings). In my screening, we were all hooked. Every time the cinematography forecast a potential jump scare the whole cinema tensed up. Then when the film relieved the tension, laughs, gasps and sighs echoed from every seat. This isn't a horror film, and we weren't a horror audience, so we didn't want to be scared, and that's why it was so effective.

I could see absolutely no flaws in Jason Bateman's performance. It's a similar character and performance to his great role in Disconnect, although The Gift goes much deeper. The audience is shown many more sides of his character than is comfortable. Like many actors known for their comedy, I have always preferred Bateman in dramatic texts.

Rebecca Hall plays a complex role with a wealth of honesty. For the most part, her character is the closest we've got to an audience surrogate. Therefore it is extremely satisfying that she is portrayed with so much intelligence and agency. Many similar characters in other films are ignorant of danger or poorly perceive the events around them, but Hall's character does everything I would have done in her situation - and that's fantastic to watch. The frustrating horror in which the victims never call the police, this is not.

And this point goes across the board. There are half a dozen side characters who appear throughout the film who all seem like such realistic, living characters - even with very minimal screen time. Characters on screen are not often this perceptive of each other, this intricate. Well written, well directed.

Speaking of... how Joel Edgerton wrote and directed this film while giving his incredible, subtly aggressive performance is difficult to comprehend. His became one of the scariest performances I've seen in a while, without even a creepy smile. And it's frightening because it feels so true, and so tragic.

The haunting soundtrack is simple and very effective. Composer Danny Bensi knows how to creep into the back of your mind and disturb you. The score keeps close to a delicate, ponderous little theme for the most part, except when sonic madness is required, which - judging by my tense muscles at the end of the film - was delivered effectively.

The overarching messages of the film are bold, challenging, devastating, but most importantly - important. These are ideas worth spreading (oops hi TED). And tying it all up in a puffy red bow, The Gift is a thrilling character drama which will haunt me forever. TouchĂ©, Edgerton, I'll see you in Black Mass.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Making My Friends Impress Me For Fun

Despite a slew of dreadful technical issues (including poor performance from both Skype and Google Hangouts - possibly due to the peccable Australian internet), I've just published the first episode of a new game show style podcast! It's a wacky idea that starts very basic in this first episode, but that I hope to build on in the future! Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Sci-Fi Podcast Continues

I just finished the second episode of my fictional futuristic podcast. This episode features some ideas about taking control of sleep, and dreams.

This podcast episode marks the first time I've used Adobe Audition to edit, and I think you'll be able to notice the little uptick in sound quality!

Monday, 31 August 2015

A Star Wars: The Old Republic Comedy Video

I'm always keen to experiment with videos that are a bit unlike any I've ever made before, and this one certainly applies. It's all modern, hip and trendy because I play a game in it and you see me on webcam and stuff, but it's also a completely fake spoof.

Also it features Star Wars: The Old Republic which is actually for real one of my favourite games. Not necessarily because it's good, but it's an MMO and it's Star Wars and that's my perfect equation.

Have a watch:

Remember that you can subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to encourage me to go further into weird video madness. Anything could happen.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Utopia S02E02 Shovels Ready (Recap)

This weeks recap is going to be quick and basic. Just reliving a few of the best moments from Utopia's latest episode!

Like the time Tony became an expert on interior air-current measuring.

Or when the HR lady couldn't have been more condescending.

The gloriously inconsequential waiting room mix up.

The ironic iconography of our "Nation Builders" dressing up like umm... "real" builders.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Utopia S02E01 A Fresh Start (Recap)

The second series of Utopia (Australia's, not America's or Britain's) premiered on ABC last night in the best way it could: a head-tiltingly understated web of 2015-relevant pessimistic satire. Everything you need to know is in that sentence, but I'll write some more about this enjoyable episode of Working Dog Productions' latest comedy anyway.

Like any tightly written half hour comedy, Utopia's second premiere is a cascading tumble of ironic chaos. And to make this fall even more spectacular, our dysfunctional team of characters have changed while they've been off air. Actually... really just Tony has changed. Actually, scratch that... Tony hasn't changed, he's just accidentally become an optimist and he requires this episode to get beaten back into place. So uh... no, no one has changed. Sorry. But really, how could these people every change? They're stuck in an infinite loop of faux-work, a perpetual cycle of institutional meaninglessness which reinforces their current state.

Over the break Tony has treated himself to a Fitbit (official sponsor?) and is taking good care of himself; eating well, riding in to work. Well, that lasts about 10 on-screen minutes, before the inescapably petty stresses of office life gives him muffins (the cake, not the disease). Poor Tony finds himself more out of the loop than ever. From his out-of-date ID card to the fact he's on an email server no one else is connected to, does he even work at the NBA anymore? Did he ever? Technically, does anyone? It's getting existential in here.

I do have to point out that Scott seemed to be trying to help Tony come up with a unique string for a password, which in my experience has never been necessary in real life. You're allowed to have the same password as other people. But that's okay, I can accept that either (1) Scott was messing with Tony, (2) Scott did not know what he was doing, or (3) the show takes place in a different reality that contains establishments which are even more pedantic and infuriating than those in our own.

Nat was certainly and accidentally graced with the temporary illusion of actually getting stuff done when repairing one pool made its way into Jim's mind where it translates into a multi-billion dollar government initiative. Who knows what that means, but Jim likes it, the PM likes it, and its going ahead. Looks like this little plot might continue in the next episode(s).

Finally I'll call out the OH&S subplot, which was predictably delightful just by being so true.

There's more Frontline lodged in my heart than any other Working Dog Productions umm, production, but Utopia is certainly burrowing its own little home (in the pulmonary artery if you must know). The first series was consistently good, if a little bit unexciting. The same can be said of the second series so far, but I'm hoping the show will take some creative risks in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Nation Building Authority get done (or not) over the next 7 episodes!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Review)

A fun film which is stuffed full of indie tropes, including the makes-fun-of-indie-film-tropes trope. I had a great time until the third act in which the film ditches its humour (its most unique feature) in favour of an emotional ending which was good but felt fairy stereotypical and unoriginal. The first two thirds of the narrative had a quirky and unpredictable edge, whereas the resolution looked eerily like something I've seen in a lot of other movies. Big ups to the proficient-beyond-their-years cast and the determined-to-entertain cinematography. This is a film that benefits (and in my case, benefited) from a loud, emotionally invested live audience.

Him, Earl and yes, the Dying Girl too, were a charming trio to spend several hours with, but - although they certainly tried - they didn't quite change my life. The film is however finding great success around the world thus far, so I look forward to seeing some of these actors and filmmakers around the cinema more often in the near future.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Review)

One could say that Guy Ritchie's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is all style, no substance. It's a statement I've heard several times already from critics and audiences, and though personally I enjoyed the film enormously, it's a sentiment I don't disagree with.

Henry Cavill appears to be totally relaxed in his debonair role of American spy Solo, alongside the also cool (unless insulted) Russian spy Illya played by Armie Hammer. Alicia Vikander completes the leading trio as a German spy called Gaby. There isn't a lot for Elizabeth Debicki to do as the villain of the film, but she seems to have fun as the elegant antagonist. Pretty much everyone is putting on an accent in this film, which I think just adds to the whole crazy, brazen production.

Standin' round.
The film features some rollicking fun set pieces, often making use of (surprisingly) dark humour. Ritchie makes great perspective choices, several times having violence or action sequences take place at a distance or in the background, juxtaposed with the cool, carefree confidence that is the default mindset of the leads.The film overall is very funny, and the audience in my theatre were won over by the charming characters by around halfway through the first scene. It helps that the leading men and their heated relationship is quickly communicated and easy for the viewer to understand; their dynamic something that the audience can latch on to from the beginning of the film.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s period setting is a slightly heightened reality. Actions and events that are just a little bit impossible take place throughout the film, and it can be a challenge to keep the audience suspending their disbelief. Ritchie never lets the film get too grounded, however. Almost constantly there are subtle reminders of the film's supernormal tilt, the best example being a scene in which a character spins a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling, and it continues to spin at the same momentum for the rest of the scene.

Surfin' round.
Style oozes out into every area of this production. Scenes are edited together in a non-linear fashion, whereby we see the barebones of a conversation then flashback (often multiple times) to fill in the details that were originally withheld. This makes the twisting narrative both easier to follow than it would otherwise be, and keeps the audience engaged and on their toes.

Daniel Pemberton's score is the perfect combination of cool and quirky. It's rare to see a film score blended so effectively with the visuals, but The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s split-frame, picture-in-picture action montages are a consistent treat across all the senses. It's also enhanced by fantastic song choices, which are often diegetic. For example "Cry to Me" by Solomon Burke, which is played during a intoxicatingly cute dance scene.

Loungin' round.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s run time flew by. It's two hours well spent with likable characters being perfectly charming. I personally wanted to see our heroes start to get along a bit more at some point in the film, and work together as an efficient team, but alas they remained an (albeit entertaining) dysfunctional trio of bickering. Hopefully in the (likely) sequel we'll see some new dynamics from team U.N.C.L.E.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

New Podcast: Stories from the Future

Trials of the Trimillenium is my new fictional podcast, featuring sci-fi stories told in the style of This American Life. I just finished the first episode, about a robot with a bad sense of humour. I do pretty much all the voices in this one, but just like with my other fictional podcast, I plan to do that less in future.

Have a listen here:

The date is November 3, 3024. Dr Deckar has created a robot. Her life will never be the same again.

This episode comes with special thanks to Saurav Kundu and Jarrah Fowler.

The music in this podcast is licensed under Creative Commons. Find Lee Rosevere at and Kevin MacLeod at

Far from the Madding Crowd (Review)

Drawn in by the familiar names (Thomas Vinterberg, Carey Mulligan, Craig Armstrong, Michael Sheen) I approached this 2015 adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd with a degree of enthusiasm. This was my first encounter with the text, which started as a novel by Thomas Hardy and has been adapted for the cinema several times in the past.

Unfortunately the film certainly felt to me like an adaptation. Characters made decisions that had me shaking my head, which would have been perfectly fine if I had been privy to more of their motivations and thought processes. The narrative, as I understand it, is largely about choice, and it seemed strange to me that the viewer is kept at a distance during these turning points. Often this distancing effect comes because of a montage, of great deals of time passing in the story. Perhaps a necessary evil of the novel-to-screen translation? I find the result to be a film which depicts a great story, but does not successfully plant the viewer within it.

What are you guys thinkin' about, hmm?
The cast are brilliant. Carey Mulligan is a brilliant lead, Matthias Schoenaerts gives a very subtle performance, Michael Sheen is the perfect tragic man, and Tom Sturridge plays his part well - assuming his part is to be despised.

The most confidently successful aspect of this film is its cinematography. Cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen shoots the country like a fantastical place, delivering constantly stunning images of hills and sunsets and magical woods. The soldier's red uniform as set against earthy green landscapes is particularly striking throughout the film, no doubt an intended thematic contrast.

The most beautiful woods.
Mostly gentle but soaring in all the right places, Crag Armstrong's score plays an enormous role in building this world. It features a throat-tightening string melody reminiscent of James Newton Howard's The Village, two parts beauty one part tragedy. Armstrong also uses flutes and harps for soft beats and piano ostinatos to underline the bolder sections. Music plays an important role in heightening the narrative, best demonstrated in the beautiful scene when Mulligan and Sheen sing "Let No Man Steal Your Thyme" - my favourite part of the film.

Sheen gets to wear this beard while being depressed and singing songs.
The result is a beautiful film with characters I didn't connect to intimately. And since the narrative hangs on these characters, their choices and their relationships, feeling somewhat distant from them is unfortunate. It may not be a masterpiece like Vinterberg's previous film, The Hunt, but Far from the Madding Crowd is nonetheless a very enjoyable period drama.

Friday, 7 August 2015

The Insanity Project Trailer

A week ago I shared the poster, and now here's the trailer for the long short film I'm making.

It was shot in Darwin over several weeks. Of course its all thanks to many busy people who went through all kinds of discomfort for no reward apart from the possibility it may turn out alright. Cheers, people.

Here's the trailer.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (Review)

The facet of the Mission Impossible franchise that keeps me fascinated with each installment is its crystal clear contract with audiences. When you sit down in front of any Mission Impossible film, you know almost precisely what kind of experience you are about to have. Which is not to say that you know what you are going to see, or that the direction of the plot will be predictable. On the contrary, Mission Impossible's suspenseful, set-piece-focused, constantly twisting formula is as riveting as it is consistent. It feels like a TV series on the big screen, with all the production values of the latter but what keeps bringing you back is the characters and themes that feel like a show. (Of course, this makes sense, because the film franchise spawned from a TV series.)

When you open a film with Tom Cruise literally hanging on to a plane as it takes off, maintaining interest for another two hours sounds like a tall order. Luckily, Christopher McQuarrie - the latest in the exciting lineup of Mission Impossible directors - is canny enough to know he doesn't have to go bigger. The set pieces that follow are engaging in their intensity, their complexity and their breathlessness, and thankfully never try to do something "larger" than the opening sequence - which would surely have made this blockbuster crumble.

Overall, Rogue Nation feels like a smaller film than MI:4 Ghost Protocol. But this shrinking of scale is well managed, and MI:5 feels just as thrilling in its stakes. In place of scaling skyscrapers (for example), Rogue Nation has stronger emotional threads, mostly thanks to the subplot led by Rebecca Ferguson (the first Mission Impossible heroin I thought really worked), and a couple of charged interactions between Cruise and Simon Pegg. It's all very Bond-y, as well, obviously because of the London setting but also because Sean Harris' rather classical spy villain, Solomon Lane, is a great and mysterious opponent for Ethan Hunt.

Mission Impossible works because it is, figuratively and otherwise, grounded. Grounded perhaps not in reality but in a reality. Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt may perform the impossible, but it's always a challenge for him. He's no fearless superhero, which would make the whole thing rather bland.

Michael Giacchino, who scored the last two installments of the series brilliantly, is not present for Rogue Nation. But whatever tears I may have been crying over his departure are long forgotten under the flood of joyful tears when I heard Joe Kraemer's effort. It's an extremely classy soundtrack, which plays with opera, always drives a rhythm, and knows the power it has in the Mission Impossible theme - without overusing it. It's definitely going to be in my top scores of 2015. Kraemer, you have my attention. And good luck topping this spy action in Spectre, Thomas Newman!

Rogue Nation is another fantastic installment in one the best action franchises around.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Insanity Cometh

For the past several weeks I've been shooting a no-budget half-hour thriller film in Darwin. It's called The Insanity Project, and it's certainly driven me fairly insane. Here's the first image from it!

Final shoot is tomorrow. Then, we edit. Which could take a while with this one...

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

How To Be Funny Please Sir?

Made this last year. It's a short documentary that does not want to be. It's about comedians. It was screened at the St Kilda Film Festival, which was fun. Now it's here on the internet. I actually interview celebrities in it, seriously.

Monday, 22 June 2015

I Sell Things Now

Fake things.

This is a 30 second commercial I made with Drew Collins (lovely fellow, check out his website) for an invented product - Hannigan's Mouthguard. Drew did all the visual effects which are amazing because he's a REAL LIFE REGULAR MODERN DAY WIZARD.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Cue Awards 2014

This year I joined the fantastic team at Tracksounds again for the Cue Awards - a recognition of our favourite film, TV and video game scores from the past year. Most agree that 2014 was an abnormally excellent year for soundtracks, which made this year's Cue Awards more hotly contested and ergo a lot of fun.

You can find the big Cue Awards episode of Tracksounds' Soundcast podcast over here. It's a pretty long show but well worth it, a fair few winning composers came on to accept their awards. I'm often struck by how humble composers come across. I suppose they're a rather underappreciated bunch in general, especially for the heavy lifting they do in the crafting of engaging entertainment.

These are good times for original score fans.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Can You Say Sketch Files?

Probably, it's relatively easy. But despite the question-posing headline I just (mis)used, I don't actually want you do say Sketch Files. I'd rather that you watched:

Thanks to everyone who helped me make this without knowing what it was. You're so gullible but in a good way.

A Double Dosage of Lipton (Without Lipton)

My absurd fictional radio show with the most indiscernible accents on the planet has several new episodes primed for consumption. So easy to have a listen, either on the embeds below, or over here on iTunes, or over here on Spreaker.

Who knows where the adventures will go from here? No, seriously, who knows? Anyone?

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Underappreciated Radio Saga Continues

Bill Lipton is back for some major serial developments in this brand new episode of Outside The Underappreciateds Studio.

Outside The Underappreciateds Studio will continue.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

How to be an Intolerable Teammate in Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard has smashed its way into the three-laned landscape of MOBAs with its new universe-blending brawler, Heroes of the Storm. It's a game of intense action that requires lightning fast skill. As an online-only multiplayer game in which, unless you have a lot of friends, you're going to be playing alongside many complete strangers, it quickly becomes clear that you can manipulate them as if they really exist or something. Here's just a few ways to annoy your PUG teammates and be an incredibly bothersome player.

1. Ping More

Seriously, you can not ping too much. An effective team should know what you are doing at every moment. Are you going top lane? Ping it. Are you gonna fight some mercenaries? Ping it. Are you worried someone is about to die? Ping it. Like the way a tree looks on the map? You know it, ping it!
And when I say ping, I don't mean ping (singular). I mean ping (plural). Never ever ping just once. Don't have enough faith in your team's observational skills for that. If you want to retreat, ping it at least eight times. Ping any less than that and it is very easy to miss and you might not have gained the complete and undivided attention of your allies.
So many things you can say - just one click away

2. Give Up

But stay in the match. Sometimes you know you're on a loser team (or team of losers, depending on how you like to think of it). This happens. Even though Heroes of the Storm is designed so that dramatic come-backs are always plausible, you can just know in your gut it's all over. Even if your team argues with you, you've gotta trust yourself. In these cases it is perfectly acceptible to give up and stand around your base. Don't leave the match though - you still deserve your XP!
Free dings taste better

3. Sit Around Until You AFK

Different situation: the game's going fine, but you've gotta go. Real life comes first of course, but if you've gotta leave - don't quit the game. Blizzard have implemented this system which makes AI take over your character when you leave, so make sure you sit your character some place relatively safe before you walk away from your computer, so your team knows you're there in spirit until you time out and get automatically kicked. Even though you're not there to see it, know that they will most certainly be praising your thoughtfulness in that chat. You're a legend.
Your soul may be twisted but the AI has no soul

4. Critique Your Allies

You are the Hero of the Storm. Say it. "I am the Hero of the Storm". That's right. You're a gamer, you know this $#!& backwards. If your team is having any issues, you've got to tell them why that is. If it looks like someone isn't playing their character the way you would yourself, point it out. You've got to isolate the exact fault, and make sure the perpetrator knows they are costing the team everything. This game is not for carebears. If you can't handle the intensity or understand the strategy then you should go play something that has a lower IQ requirement, like Life Is Strange. Tell them that. They'll beg for forgiveness thank you for your honesty.
You can even tell them off for picking a lame hero

5. Curse Your Enemies

For the #&!@*#%# @*!&#*$ #*@& @^!*@&# that they are. They're just overpowered glitch hackers, and every time you die you need to blame your killer. This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one; blaming the enemy in no way prevents you from also blaming your own team. It can be everyone else's fault.
The way the enemy does x is stupid and worth crying about
That's it for my tips, but remember: there's a whole world of irritating things you can do online. Be creative.

I look forward to tolerating you in the Nexus.