Caffeinated Clint – 27/04/07

Wake-Up Calls; Spidey; Must-See Movies; Freddy’s Dead



Its not widely reported where the winners go after they exit the stage having collected their Oscar, but Halle Berry’s just let the cat out of bag: they enter a berry field where they proceed to pick as many raspberries as they possibly can in the shortest amount of time. Berry has done so well with her unripe pickings of late – “Catwoman”; “X-Men 3”; “Gothika” – that it looks like she won’t have to walk up those Oscars stairs again! Proof that she’s gotten comfortable in the world of the impending razzie, Berry’s now headlining “Perfect Stranger” a “didn’t Andrew Stevens star in this in the late 80s’ adult thriller that teams her (or rather re-teams her, since they shared a couple of scenes in “The Last Boy Scout” all those years ago) with bald charmer, Bruce Willis.
The kind of film Sharon Stone would’ve been offered off the back of “Basic Instinct” in the early 90s – in fact, I think she did it. It was called “Sliver” – “Stranger” is one of these sexual thrillers that’s supposed to let off steam with every real change. Problem is, it doesn’t. Ya see, as Stone will attest to, if you’re going to do a film like this… you have to go the whole hog. You have to show bonking, boobs and bouncing. It’s not enough that you show a pair of fine legs and a bit of cleavage – especially when you haven’t got a lot else to work with. Don’t you all agree?

Caffeinated Clint on…. The Wake-up Call and The Ultimatum

It’s funny how a little thing like a near-death wake-up call, combined with the concerns of a devoted wife, can totally have you reassessing your life – even if those changes are volunteered.

Life’s got really nuts lately – a lot of unfortunate events at play too, which I won’t bore you with – so much so that time management is something I know only as, well, words. At the end of the work day, I may feel like I’ve got a heap done – but there’s still a heap more on the desk to do; so much so that I feel like I’m drowning in tardy ‘must do’ that’s. But that’s something a lot of us working stiffs have to deal with. I know.

Thing is, I’d normally take the work home and spend most of the night working my way through it… but as of last week, my wife has decided to ban computers (yes, computers!) from the house… so I no longer have home access to emails, documents, work files… nothing after hours.

The wife wants to : get me into the habit of not working at home NOW, before my child arrives.

It’s her way of trying to get me into a pattern where I put ‘family first’ and ‘work second’.

She’s right. And I know everyone probably agrees with her. But my god… it’s cut quite a few hours off my working day.

Why the ‘You’re no longer working till 4am every morning!’ rule?

Fatherhood.

Come July, any kind of schedule I do get into is going to go out the window, as I’m skyrocketed into the alien terrain of parenthood. Apparently most guys take leave after their wives have a baby, because the husband’s end up just as exhausted too – having to get up every few hours with their wives/baby throughout the night and tending to bubs needs, along with the doting mother, every other free minute (At least that’s what we were told at baby class this week) – but I’m going to be hard-pressed getting any time off from work.

If I’m lucky, my work’s going to allow me a couple of hours to kiss my new child on the top of the head…. Before I have to run back to the office, sit in my swivel chair and start working my way through paperwork again…. At least, that’s MY plan (nup, can’t see my wife letting me go anywhere either)… and as everyone’s telling me, it’s a plan that’s going to go down the drain because ‘fatherhood is a full-time job, too’.

So… I want your suggestions, how does a guy who has so much on, and is struggling with what’s on his plate at the moment, cope with such a major life change? Is there anyway to plot your time out? I think the most important thing for me is learning that as of July, work takes a backseat to my family – particularly my child… so I’m trying to work that out now, before it’s, well, forced on me.

So remembering that in a couple of months it’s 1) Family First 2) Work/Career second… I did some searches on the net for solutions. Here’s a good one… a lot of people might find this useful.

Time management: Tips to reduce stress and improve productivity
Effective time management is a primary means to a less stressful life. These practices can help you reduce your stress and reclaim your personal life.

Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the number of projects you have at work or the depth of these projects? Do you feel the day flies by without your devoting the necessary attention to each assignment because other tasks keep landing on your desk, or because you can’t get it all organized?
You probably know that effective time management will help you get more done each day. It has important health benefits, too. By managing your time more wisely, you can minimize stress and improve your quality of life.
But how do you get back on track when organizational skills don’t come naturally? To get started, choose one of these tips, try it for two to four weeks and see if it helps. If it does, consider adding another one. If not, try a different one.
• Plan each day. Planning your day can help you feel more in control of you life. Write a to-do list, putting the most important tasks at the top. Keep a schedule of your daily activities to minimize conflicts and last-minute rushes.
• Prioritize your tasks. Like many people, you may be spending the majority of your time on a small percentage of your tasks. Prioritizing will ensure you spend your time and energy on those that are truly important to you.
• Say no to nonessential tasks. Consider your goals and schedule before agreeing to take on additional work.
• Delegate. Take a look at your to-do list and consider what you can eliminate or pass on to someone else.
• Take the time you need to do a quality job. Doing work right the first time may take more time upfront, but errors usually result in time spent making corrections, which takes more time overall.
• Break large, time-consuming tasks into smaller tasks. Work on them a few minutes at a time until you get them all done.
• Practice the 10-minute rule. Work on a dreaded task for 10 minutes each day. Once you get started, you may find you can finish it.
• Evaluate how you’re spending your time. Keep a diary of everything you do for three days to determine how you’re spending your time. Look for time that can be used more wisely. For example, could you take a bus or train to work and use the commute to catch up on reading? If so, you could free up some time to exercise or spend with family or friends.
• Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Improved focus and concentration will help improve your efficiency so that you can complete your work in less time.
• Take a time management course. If your employer offers continuing education, take a time management class. If your workplace doesn’t have one, find out if a local community college, university or community education program does.
• Take a break when needed. Too much stress can derail your attempts at getting organized. When you need a break, take one. Take a walk. Do some quick stretches at your workstation. Take a day of vacation.

I know ONE THING: I don’t wanna be one of those fuckin’ career-trippin’ parents that never sees their kids. My little one has to come first, as does my wife, and if that means lessening the work hours and/or commitments, then so be it. Now all I got to do is keep REMINDING MYSELF of that rule.

That’s today’s deep thought of the day….

Caffeinated Clint on….What HE wants to SEE.

An email came in about five mins ago asking, Clint, What are YOU actually keen to see this year? (besides “Grindhouse”) – Alex
Could save it for Mailbag… but thought I might as well run that here. There’s not a lot of films I’m really- as in ‘I’d sleep with Lily Tomlin to make it happen’ – aching to see this year, but there is a couple. The main two on the list were “Grindhouse” (which, we all know by now, won’t be – if at all – released in Australia until long after it hits DVD in the states) and “Spider-Man 3” – which I was quite disappointed in – but there’s a few others on the list that I’d gladly watch on a 35mm projector beamed up across a tent, if I had to.

“Fanboys” – Hearing very mixed things (the re-shoots probably aren’t a good sign, I guess) but the die-hard “Star Wars” fan in me, and the lover of all things smart-arsey and infested with pop culture, is still creamin’ to see this thing. Kristen Bell is in Leia’s Slave Bikini in it – can it be that bad??

“Live Free or Die Hard” – OK, Bruce Willis isn’t bald in it. He’s also not wearing his wife beater. It’s also directed by the guy who made this mind-numbingly bad “Underworld” movies. Yet still, I hold out hope that this will deliver…. If even in that “Die Hard 2 : Die Harder” sense.

“Mr. Brooks” – I get the feeling Kevin Costner’s starting to make some smart decisions again (catch “Upside of Anger” if you don’t believe me). This one’s supposed to be quite good… with some early reviewers tagging it one of the best thrillers in years. Hope the hype is spot-on.

“Knocked Up” – This looks great. I hope it is. I hope Katy Heigl’s assets aren’t the only two good things in the movie. The trailers are wonderful… but we all know how they can mislead.

“Ocean’s Thirteen” – You know this will deliver. One of the best casts around – and now with Al Pacino! I truly believe the “Ocean’s” movies are some of the best value-for-money movies around!

“The Bourne Ultimatum” – Matt Damon is sensational as Jason Bourne; it’s his signature role. The first two “Bourne” films rocked more than Tommy and Pamela’s bed on their wedding night… and from all reports, “Ultimatum” is going to break the springs too.

You’ll notice that there’s not a lot on my ‘must see’ list – and it’s because most of the upcoming films just aren’t that appealing. I mean, – “Resident Evil 3”? “AvP 2”? “Harry Potter 100”? “Saw IV”? (fuck me), “Fantastic Four 2” (yeah, whatever)?, “Vacancy”?, “The Invasion”? (reshot about a hundred times); “Daddy Day Camp”?! (where’s the fuckin’ noose!!!?). Give me Strawberry over Vanilla any day.

Caffeinated Clint on….”Spider-Man 3”.

He’s Black. He’s Bad.
She’ll Crack. Be Sad.

And there, in rushed poem form, is the plot for what could be the biggest film of the year. Most movies that you can sum up in a couple of lines – or limerick – tend to suck like a suction cap. In the case of the latest cinematic ‘day in the life of Peter Parker’ journal, it may encompass a short outline on paper, but its mostly immense in value.

The “Spider-Man” movies are like your favourite nightclub – you never mind paying the admission price because you’re always guaranteed a good time, whether or not the night is full of surprises or not. And “Spider-Man 3” is no exception; it’s a one-night stand with the hottest thing in town… and that little black number? Wow.

This time, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) has a lot more problems to deal with besides keeping his secret identity, well, secret. There’s revenge-seeking Harry Osborne (James Franco); a guy made of Sand (Thomas Haden Church) on his case, and a cocky new photographer (Topher Grace) that wants to dethrone him as the Bugle’s best picture man. To make matters worse, a black spacely organism has made its way into the Spider-Man suit and transformed Peter into something vastly different (think Clark Kent on ‘Red’ Kryptonite), which as good as puts the nail in the coffin of his failing relationship with Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst).

Despite the fact that there’s been five-hundred other comic book movies (that’s an exaggeration; not far off the mark though) since the release of 2001’s “Spider-Man”, Director Sam Raimi’s early entry in the superhero genre still remains a high point for film-fans and comic-fans alike. Its solid storytelling; awesome special effects and divine performances were just three super elements of a film where each seemingly just came together.

“Spider-Man 2”, released in 2004, was just as superb – if not better. It ramped up the action; tortured the characters a little more and gave us some of the best looking popcorn cinema since the Gremlins pushed that old bitch out the window of her house on the Warner back lot.

Is third time the charm with “Spider-Man 3”?

Unfortunately, no, it isn’t. Not to say it’s a bad film, it’s not, in fact it’s a very good film – just one that suffers from the curse of the ‘3’s. It happened with “Batman Forever”; “The Godfather III”; “Return of the Jedi”, “Terminator 3”, as well. All good films that sadly just couldn’t live up to their awesome predecessors – they were the light or diet versions of their super fathers. I think we’ve begun to expect so much from the “Spider-Man” movies that when one isn’t quite as good as the other it stands out like a wart on an ear lobe.

There’s a recurring joke in the movie about the front door of Peter Parker’s rundown flat: it works, but it’s in dire need of an oil and grease and it could really do with some trimming (on the sides) to make it close better. The same can be applied to the movie. The script needed a good oil and grease – it just seems quite dumb and laughably obvious when compared to the creative and masterful work of the original film – and the film could really have benefited from a good trimming… say, cutting all those dull bits out that occupy the film’s lost middle.

There’s a great film in here somewhere, it’s just bogged down by too much mediocrity – as a consequence, you don’t feel so much for the characters as you did in the first two movies. That wonderful combination of ‘story’ and ‘stunts’ that we’ve grown to love about these movies is now, pretty much, just ‘stunts’.

The blame may lie on the producers – who demanded Raimi inject characters and themes into the film that he didn’t necessarily want to. As a consequence, the director was forced to work with too many sub-plots; too many villains (including one he didn’t like) and too many stories calling for each of their own resolution. At the end of the day, it seems there’s been too much to do… and Raimi just ended up shoving it “all in”… putting the producers’ “wish list” above the wants and needs of an audience. (And as a result of jamming everything in, nobody besides the lead characters – for instance, Gwen Stacey and Eddie Brock – gets much of a chance to shine).

The villains are good, albeit like the movie a bit underwhelming, with Venom (the character that most old-school fans are annoyed about being included in the film the most) probably the most entertaining. The inclusion of the spacely organism gives Maguire some of his best moments in the movie – and some of the funniest moments of the whole series!

What saves “Spider-Man 3” from becoming well, “Superman III”, is the fact that it’s still a solid film that packs a punch when it comes to turn on the spectacle. The action sequences and special effects are as eye-popping as ever; the actors are as good as ever (Maguire and Dunst, especially); and the storyline is as fun as it is predicable.

When Spandau Ballet sang ‘Gold!’… they weren’t referring to “Spider-Man 3”, but it set such high standards for itself that it was going to have its work cut out for it if it were ever going to get anything but a silver ribbon.

(One thing’s for sure,, this will probably be the last of the ‘good’ “Spider-Man” movies. Despite the fact that the studio has also guaranteed a 4,5 and 6 are on the way, the actors and original director still seem a little hesitant in returning. I don’t think they’ll be back. I’d say, expect a whole new cast, a new director and possibly, Dylan Baker (whose character in the past two movies STILL hasn’t turned into his alter-ego) will get a chance to play ‘The Lizard’.)



The Fun Stuff

Critically-slammed Pics I like :

What : “Son in Law”
Released : 1993
Stars : Pauly Shore, Carla Gugino, Lane Smith
One critic said : “Alternately stupid and offensive.” – Desert News
Another critic said : “One of the better Pauly movies, not saying much!.”. – Zap2it.com
Clint says : “So damn stupid….it’s, well, actually entertaining”

What : “Rocky IV”
Released : 1985
Stars : Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shore, Dolph Lundgren
One critic said : “While this derivative and shallow sequel might weaken the credibility of the series, there’s no denying the satisfaction of watching a fight of such seemingly impossible odds.” – The BBC
Another critic said : “The crazed flag-waving would be a lot easier to take if it weren’t so clearly a commercial calculation meant to salvage what is otherwise a crass, careless, shamelessly padded film.” – Chicago Reader
Clint says : “The cheesiest, the most flashiest and the most commercial of the whole series – yet you can’t get enough of it!.”


The Movie Going-Experience
This next new feature is a bit where I recall some of my ‘cinema going experiences’ – i.e it may be a date-gone-wrong to “Weird Science” (actually happened); it may be falling asleep in “Super Mario Bros” (actually happened); or maybe the time two people decided to have sex in the back row behind me (actually happened, in a screening for Van Damme ‘classic’ “Double Impact” at the old Hoyts Midcity).

The Movie-Going Experience : “Freddy’s Dead : The Final Nightmare”
What : The [supposedly-then] final chapter of the “Elm Street” series.
When : On a weekday afternoon in Melbourne; first day of release.
Details : With about two-hundred school kids who had obviously decided to skip the afternoon’s classes to see the new ‘Freddy’ movie, I wore the [uncomfortable] paper 3-D Glasses with glee. Still remember sitting in the foyer at the old Hoyts Midcity watching trailers for “Boyz N’the Hood” and making sure I remember the title… so I could remember to go see it.
Movie any good? : About as good as the glasses.
Night any good? : It was day, and there was nothing special about it.


Forgotten actors I like
Who : Billy Zane
What did you like him/her in? : Everything he did – particularly “Dead Calm”; “Memphis Belle”; “Sniper”, “Titanic” and TVs “Twin Peaks” – before he crossed paths with Uwe Boll.
What’s so good about him/her? : A really good actor – but unfortunately one that’s management seemingly coaxed him into doing whatever he came his way; thus explaining his career dip in recent years.
Where the heck are they now? : Doing whatever Uwe Boll is working on.
Show me them in action : OK… here’s Lisa Zane’s famous brother…



5 Things that Shitted the Clint – This Week
1. Rumours that “Grindhouse” won’t be released “at all” in foreign territories now.
2. His workload.
3. Being slightly disappointed by “Spider-Man 3”.
4. People sending in about 50 competition entries for the same competition when it clearly states – on the competition page – that I only want one entry per family/household.
5. How slack most of our cable deals are downunder – when compared to those in the states.


3 movies Caffeinated Clint sat through [possibly again] this week :

1. Spider-Man 3 – There’s a recurring joke in the movie about the front door of Peter Parker’s rundown flat: it works, but it’s in dire need of an oil and grease and it could really do with some trimming (on the sides) to make it close better. The same can be applied to the movie. The script needed a good oil and grease – it just seems quite dumb and laughably obvious when compared to the creative and masterful work of the original film – and the film could really have benefited from a good trimming… say, cutting all those dull bits out that occupy the film’s lost middle.

2. Perfect Stranger – There’s enough here to hold your attention – Ribisi’s entertaining and multi-layered performance is good, and James Foley’s direction is pretty slick – but too much of the film has obviously been conceived on the fly (the terrible ‘all over the place’ ending is the big tip-off to that) when it really needed to be dexterously pieced together like superglue on a broken vase.

3. Casino Royale – There will star be a few purists who’ll challenge the casting of Craig and the series reboot – and it is fair enough; as I said, this is a radically different approach to the long running series and some may not appreciate the change (if even just the change in hair colour) – but by the time the film finishes, even most of that crowd will be swallowing their tongue.

And finally…

Words of Wisdom from Mrs Caffeinated Clint :

(A scientist who seems to be able to sum up the world – or a movie – in just a few words, whilst the rest of us feel a page review isn’t even sufficient).

“I actually didn’t mind it… there’s nothing like a bunch of big guys running around in their undies!” – Mrs Morris’s verdict of “300″