Category Archive for 'TV, Movies, and Music – Reviews'

Toronto International Film Festival Review – Part Three

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

MM,

Here’s a review of Jackie Chan’s new movie. It is definitely something different to see if you’ve gotten used to his roles from Rush Hour.

Sen-Hua (The Myth) is directed and co-written by Stanley Tong and stars Jackie Chan (who along with being stunt choreographer also had his film company, JCE Movies Ltd., produce it).

In a movie Stanley Tong co-wrote with Jackie in mind, this is Jackie Chan Hollywood failed to take advantage of and Jackie Chan everyone outside of China has never seen. If you couldn’t see this movie during the Film Festival, you should be hoping it is released this year so you don’t miss out.

The movie is a mix of the Indiana Jones-type adventure with the traditional Chinese historical action flick. Jackie Chan has a dual role in this movie – he plays the present-day archeologist, Jack, and the historic General Meng Yi who falls in love with Emperor Qin’s Korean concubine, Ok-Soo (both of whom Meng Yi has sworn to protect). In present-day, Jack has been having dreams of being the General and is not quite sure what his dreams mean. Then, by some twist of fate, his long-time friend, a scientist named William, leads him on a quest for a magical stone which causes things and people to levitate. It is on this quest that Jack sees a perfectly preserved painting of the woman of his dreams (the Korean concubine, Ok-Soo) and (unintentionally) obtains the legendary sword of General Meng Yi. When Jack is tested with the sword (he has an unexplicable bond with it, or not so unexplicable if you believe in reincarnation), he realizes that William’s quest and his dreams are tied together somehow. Jack’s dreams are clues to the past and to the answer to some of China’s greatest mysteries – immortality, Emperor Qin, and the Heavenly Palace! Of course, Jack and William are not the only ones who know about his dreams and their quest – no Jackie Chan film would be complete without the ultimate villain. As always, our hero has to defeat the villain(s) and still manage to fulfill his quest. Along the way, we also find out what happened to Jack’s dream woman and Meng Yi’s love, Ok-Soo.

Stanley Tong co-wrote Sen-Hua (The Myth) with Li Hai Shu and Wang Hui-ling of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame, which explains the epic familiarity of the story and the vast landscape scenery. However, the mood of the movie is markedly different from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, likely due to the comic relief provided in the present-day scenes. Jackie Chan’s brilliant humour and famous slapstick comedy is effectively used to lighten the underlying seriousness and tragedy of the story taking place in the past. Whatever tragedy has occured to General Meng Yi in the past is now mitigated by the relative peace Jack has in the present.

Reviews for Sen-Hua (The Myth) are so far mixed, in spite of the long standing ovation received during the Gala and World Premiere at the Film Festival. (I, unfortunately, did not see the Gala showing, but the regular screening at the Festival.) Overall, I thought the movie was exciting and fun to watch while at times being appropriately dramatic. The ending surprised even me.

As for Jackie Chan’s performance, Hollywood thought he couldn’t be taken seriously as an actor (see my next post above), he was just an action star to give roles that no serious actor would take. He may have just proven Hollywood wrong with this movie. He plays well as the loyal General Meng Yi who would sacrifice everything for his honour and his love. Finally, Jackie Chan gets to play a role he’s always wanted to play.

Fun movie facts:

1. Jackie Chan sings (in Cantonese) the love song featured in the movie.
2. Stanley Tong and Jackie Chan waited eight years to do another movie together.

Sources:

http://www.jackiechan.com/latestnews/newsupdate.htm

http://www.canada.com/national/features/tiff/
story.html?id=e7a907d0-6843-4d52-a7bd-8adb5ddee521

http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/guide/story/0,4136,94783,00.html?

http://www.empiremovies.com/tiff2005.php?id=5513

http://www.monkeypeaches.com/themyth.html

http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=21284

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Toronto International Film Festival Review – Part Two

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

MM,

Here’s some more movie reviews – a new way to experience silent films and a strange way to tell a love story.

Nanook of the North (with live musical accompaniment featuring Inuit throat singing)

Nanook of the North is considered in the film industry the movie that created the documentary genre. The inspiration for making the movie came when the director, Robert J. Flaherty, was on an expedition in the Hudson Bay area. The director was there to prospect the land for development. While there he encountered the Inuit. Over the years, he became fascinated by them and their culture. Realizing that the Inuit way of life was at risk of dying out (with the approach of industrial development to that area), Flaherty decided to document the Inuit way of life.

Flaherty encountered some issues with making the documentary as some Inuit traditions were already dying out, such as the walrus hunt. The solution to this was to cast Inuits who were paid to portray a family. The main character (of course!) is Nanook and the movie tells the “age-old story of man versus the fearsome power of nature.” (See Film Festival description at the link above) In the documentary, we see a family travelling by a kayak (built for one!), the building of an igloo, kayaking through ice floes, ice fishing (real ice fishing! no cabin), Nanook biting a phonograph (hey, there’s a person inside that little box!), a tug-of-war with a seal (which was already dead), and a little boy learning how to shoot with a bow and arrow. This is definitely a way of life that isn’t common anymore. While watching the movie, I have to wonder to myself, “Could I live that way?”

Nanook of the North is a silent movie made in 1922 and it was selected for the Film Festival this year as the silent film presentation accompanied by live music. The movie itself is fascinating for its historical depictions of Inuit life, but the experience of the film was greatly enhanced by the live music. The Inuit throat singers were superb in their performance, capturing the essence of what was portrayed in the various segments of the movie. The score for the movie was composed by Gabriel Thibaudeau and was performed by a nine-piece ensemble. The ensemble consisted, along with the throat singers, clarinet and flute players, which happen to be my two favourite wood-wind instruments. (I played clarinet for five years in high school and flute for a year, the flute being my minor instrument.) I’ve always loved the airy, ethereal sound of the flute and the clarinet. Having had some experience with the clarinet and the flute, I have to say that the performance was excellent.

This is the first time I have gone to see live accompaniment with a movie at the Film Festival and I have to say it is worth experiencing, especially since the tickets for the movie and live performance are the same price as the regular tickets at the Film Festival. Hopefully, next year’s silent film selection will be as interesting as this year’s.

Drawing Restraint 9

Drawing Restraint 9 is the ninth installment of Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint project, a project he’s worked on since 1987. The project is based on the idea that resistance builds muscle tissue making muscles bigger and stronger through hypertrophy. Barney has applied this simple idea from physiology to the realm of creative expression. Simply put, would applying resistance to methods of creative expression produce better (bigger and stronger) art? In Drawing Restraint 1 and 2, Barney ran up an incline strapped to an elastic band, all the while attempting to draw. In the movie, Drawing Restraint 9, Barney has elaborated further on his idea using a variety of “restraints”, such as a mold containing liquid vaseline and the ceremonial process he has to go through in anticipation of waiting to be with his one love (portrayed by his wife and music artist, Bjork).

The movie is described on the Drawing Restraint site as “an abstract fairy tale carried by striking visuals and music (much like opera), which draws its inspiration from Japanese cultural tradition, the history of petroleum-based energy, and the evolution of the whale.” Ultimately, the movie is a love story which culminates in a major transformation of the two main characters (Barney and Bjork). Considering this all takes place on a whaling ship, one should be able to guess what transformation takes place.

There is a little dialogue in this 2 hour-15 minute movie (the only dialogue occurs during the tea ceremony, which was for me one of the more interesting parts of the movie – the other being the traditional Shinto grooming and dressing up in traditional Shinto wedding attire) which makes it a treat for the audience to have Bjork compose the soundtrack for the film. However the soundtrack matched the long and drawn out scenes of the movie so well that it didn’t make watching the movie any less of an endurance test of trying to stay awake. At the point where my eyes were starting to close, it dawned on me that maybe this was another “restraint” being used in the movie – the audience restraining itself from falling asleep because the movie is extremely long and drawn out (somehow this made it a little easier to stay awake). This is perhaps my biggest displeasure with the movie. A story was told and an idea was presented in 2 hours and 15 minutes that could have been told and presented in much less time. It probably might have been less time consuming to get the soundtrack and listen to that instead. If you’re a Bjork fan, the soundtrack is probably more enjoyable than the whole movie.

Realizing that the idea for this movie came out of the idea of “restraining oneself”, the idea behind the Drawing Restraint project seems to have taken backseat to the love story. I left the theatre not quite sure what the movie had to do with “Drawing Restraint”.

More information and reviews:

http://unit.bjork.com/specials/dr9/

http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/blog/2005/09/drawing-restraint-9.php

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Sunekosuri – a Japanese Spirit

Monday, September 19th, 2005

MM,

Okay, I really thought the sunekosuri was cute in The Great Yokai War, so I had to do a Google search for it. There is not much information about this interesting Japanese spirit creature, but I did manage to find some pictures. Apparently, sunekosuris do exist in Japan or are thought to exist.

Sunekosuri
Source: http://homepage2.nifty.com/neon/youkai/sunekosuri.jpg

Sunekosuri01
Source: http://www.timeup.ne.jp/ggg/bronze/sunekosuri.html

Sunekosuri02
Source: http://www.ne.jp/asahi/zoo/affe/tabi/2002kyusyu/0429/youkai/nakama/
sunekosuri.jpg

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Toronto International Film Festival Review – Part One

Monday, September 19th, 2005

MM,

The Film Festival has now come and gone and I finally have some time to review the movies I saw.

First was the Korean movie, Hyung-sa (The Duelist) directed by Lee Myung-se. The movie is superficially a tale of two detectives who are assigned to investigate a case involving counterfeit money. Underneath the pretense of trying to solve the case, the major story revolves around the female detective, Namsoon, and a mysterious stranger who is somehow connected to the case and to whom Namsoon is unexplicably drawn.

The movie is filmed excellently and in such a way that the viewer is meant to lose track of the story and the case. The movie is described in the Film Festival guide as “A lavish dance of images swaying to the steady beat of an action romance… ” (See above link to the movie.) The two main characters, Namsoon and the mysterious stranger (best referred to as “the Duelist” – yes, the name of the movie), are completely fascinating as is their interaction with each other. Namsoon is loud, forceful, agressive and an excellent “tough cop”, the opposite of everything a young women should be in long-ago Korea and the Duelist is extremely graceful yet solidly strong in his often silent appearances. It is perhaps these opposite personalities that make each encounter between these two characters so intriguing – not to mention the frustration Namsoon feels at the elusiveness of the Duelist.

Throughout all this we are constantly brought back to the reality of the case that Namsoon is investigating and eventually the final conflict and climax of the movie is reached. However, there is still one more twist to the story. Against all the odds, Namsoon and the Duelist share one more encounter together. This time it is a remarkable sparring/dance scene outside in the falling snow under a moonlit sky. The scene is so wonderfully shot, that the only words to come to my mind was “This is what love should feel like…” – playfully sparring all the while expressing passion and love for each other. Then soon enough the scene is finished and we are once again brought back to reality, still not sure what happened to the Duelist. A movie worth watching again and again, especially for the last sparring/dance scene.

Yôkai Daisensô (The Great Yokai War) directed by Takashi Miike brings to the big screen the spirits of Japanese mythology and folklore. It is the stuff of Japanese children’s nightmares.

The main character of the story is Tadashi, a young boy who during a local village festival is picked to be the Kirin Rider of Japanese myth. As the Kirin Rider, Tadashi is supposed to reclaim a legendary sword from the Great Goblin to be found in a local mountain. School lets out for vacation time and out of curiousity, Tadashi heads into the mountains but is frightened away and heads home on a passing bus. On the bus trip, Tadashi meets who is to become the equivalent of Lewis Carroll’s white rabbit, a small cat-like spirit creature (a Yokai) Tadashi finds out is called Sunekosuri. Eventually, Tadashi is led back into the mountains again and becomes involved in the Great Yokai War, a battle against the evil wizard, Kato.

Miike has so far already established himself a cult following for his movies and that alone assures the success of this movie. This was however my first Miike film and even a few days later, I still wasn’t sure what to make of his movie. It has been called by some “Japan’s answer to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings“, though I it didn’t quite have the quest element. It was probably much closer to Harry Potter, though Tadashi flew with a sword and not a broom. Other parallels can be made with Alice in Wonderland. As mentioned, Sunekosuri was like the white rabbit, though admittedly much cuter with its little cat-like squeak noises and teddy bear-like movements (not to mention that for a tiny little thing it was quite courageous). In addition, the plethora of different characters (Yokai) that Tadashi meets on his adventure seem to match (even outdo) the characters in Carroll’s story. There’s just so many of them.

Overall, I think the movie was enjoyable. It was definitely amusing (I still can’t forget Sunekosuri!), but the story was not remarkable. Perhaps the only remarkable thing is that the story is told in a different setting and in a different culture. Perhaps though that is a good thing, it shows us the commonalities we have with other cultures. Every one seems to have fairy tales for children to grow up on.

If you like fairy tales and children’s fantasy stories, I guess this is the movie for you. If not, at the very least, you’ll get a few good laughs if you have some time to watch it.

Some more reviews of this movie can be found at:

http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/003089.html

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/features/film2005/ff20050831a3.htm

I’ll be back later with some more movie reviews.

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Toronto International Film Festival – my movie picks this year

Sunday, September 4th, 2005

MM,

After about a day and a half of deliberating, I finally decided on the 5 movies I’m going to see this year (with input from Nathan though as he’s going with me to all the movies).

Before I get to that list though, here is the full list of movies I wanted to see out of the 335 movies at the Festival.

The Myth (Jackie Chan’s new flick; a Gala this year)
Drawing Restraint 9 (part of the Drawing Restraint Project, see http://www.kanazawa21.jp/barney/e/ for more information)
Duelist
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The Great Yokai War
Lie With Me
3 Times
Everlasting Regret
Seven Swords

Nanook of the North (will be an interesting experience; movie is a silent film but accompanied by live Inuit Throat Singers)
Eve and the Fire Horse (I have a feeling the child actors are what makes this movie work; it is directed by Julia Kwan, a Chinese Canadian director, and the movie is her first feature film having only done short films previously)
Sunflower (probably a marvelously filmed drama; the time period of the movie should be interesting alone)
October 17, 1961 (about the Algerian War of Independence)
Shanghai Dreams (apparently did extremely well at the Cannes this year; the movie is produced by Jackie Chan’s production company)
Dreaming of Space
Viva Cuba
Mother of Mine
The President’s Last Bang
(a controversial Korean film about the assassination of the Korean President in 1979)
Dreaming Lhasa
Dam Street
7 Virgins
(reminds me of Boyz in the Hood which starred Cuba Gooding Jr., except this features Spanish teens)
The Masseur
Water
(this movie is the opening Gala this year; I have to see the other two films, Fire and Earth, first)
Wallace and Grommit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (okay, I heard lots about these two characters and am curious to see them on screen; another Gala movie)
Revolver (if you like actor Jason Statham or director Guy Ritchie, you’ll probably want to see it; also a Gala movie)

There were a few documentaries I thought might be interesting to watch:

The Giant Buddhas (a documentary surrounding the destroyed giant Buddha statues)
Into Great Silence (a documentary on Carthusian monastery life)
Short Cuts Programme 5: Genre Redux (9 short films that “reinvent genre designations”)
Wavelengths Programme 4 (features the short films Aerial, Half-moon for Margaret,
and India; it seems to be filmed as sort of an enlightenment view of the world around us)

There are always movies at the film festival that are sure to be released soon. That was the case with some of the movies above and seeing as I can wait for some of these, I decided to not waste an expensive Film Festival ticket on them. These were Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride is being released September 23, not too long after the closing of the Film Festival and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is said to be released in October. Revolver is likely to be released but there is no date yet. Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit will be released in October as well.

Now, for the final list.

The Myth (as it’s a Gala, we’re hoping to get tickets to the second showing)
Duelist
Drawing Restraint 9
The Great Yokai War
Nanook of the North

The Myth is slated to be released in China soon after the Film Festival, but there is as yet no North American release date. For that reason and because I can’t wait to see this new Jackie Chan flick, I decided I wanted to see it at the Festival (plus there’s a rumour Jackie Chan is coming to Toronto, so maybe he’ll show up at both screenings, who knows).

There were many good movies on the list above that I still want to see, so I’m hoping they do really well at the Festival anyway and maybe I’ll get to see them later. I’d really like to see Eve and the Fire Horse and Sunflower, so here’s hoping they wow the audience. There were also some movies I sort of wanted to see but weren’t sure about that I have not mentioned.

Anyway, those were my selections. Anyone interested in the Film Festival should definitely check some of the movies out.

I’m still waiting to pick up my movie tickets. Then I’ll know for sure what movies I’m seeing.

(For movie descriptions and more information, please go to the Toronto International Film Festival website. You can order single tickets online starting September 7.)

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Film Festival Time Again

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Well, it’s time again. Soon, the streets of Toronto will be buzzing about the latest films at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Each year I try to go. Last year, I only had time to see two movies – a documentary and a martial arts film (Kung Fu Hustle starred and directed by Stephen Chow). This year, Nathan and I bought 10 coupons in advance so we get to pick 5 movies to see and get advance tickets. I still have to pick my movies though. Somehow, Nathan and I will decide on which 5 to see. So far, I know we’re going to see Jackie Chan’s new flick, The Myth, which is a move away from his usual slapstick comedic martial arts. That’s not to say that he won’t be doing some serious fighting, I’m sure we’re still going to see some amazing Jackie Chan moves.

Aside from Jackie Chan’s new movie, I still have to determine what other movies might be interesting. I need to go through the Programme Book and read through the film descriptions. As I’m not quite as fast a reader as Nathan, this will probably take me some time so I don’t expect to have picked my first draft of movies until later this afternoon or later tonight.

For those who have yet to experience the Film Festival, below is a review I wrote on the documentary I saw last year at the Festival – perhaps it might inspire people to check out the Festival this year (and the documentary, if it’s available). The movie was called Scared Sacred and was directed by Velcrow Ripper. I originally posted this review on a previous message board I started and wanted to post it here. The message I discuss in the review is extremely relevent to this website and in many ways has helped push me to get the website up.

September 16, 2004 8:01 p.m.

Scared Sacred by Velcrow Ripper

“Breathe in suffering, breathe out compassion”

The above is a Buddhist philosophical concept, but in the documentary
Scared Sacred by Velcrow Ripper, it becomes a survival technique.

Each year, I go to the Toronto International Film Festival to
experience something different than what is normally dished out from
Hollywood. This year, I was quite amazed by the documentary, Scared
Sacred. Perhaps it is because it falls in line with a view I’ve held
the past few years and each year that view grows stronger. The movie
sparks inside me the sense of urgency that the world is in danger, it
is suffering, and long in need of healing. Ripper seems to feel as I
do that the time is now for US to make changes in the world, to take a
stand and say what needs to be said.

The documentary is a summary of the travels of the director, Velcrow
Ripper, in an attempt to find and encapsulate some sense of hope, if
it exists, for the world. Ripper does what not many individuals would
dare do – he visits various sites of disasters. In the darkest
shadow, perhaps we may find some sense of hope, a gleam in the
darkness shining out for us to reach for, something to hold onto that
says that perhaps there is an end to all the cruelty and suffering of
this world.

This sense of hope appears to Ripper and to the audience in various
forms – from a doctor in Bhopal, India setting up a medical practice
for survivors of the Union Carbide disaster; a musician in Afghanistan
finally having the freedom to play again; an Afghani woman exiled in
Pakistan fighting for women’s freedom, a young woman dressed as an
angel in New York City, and finally an Israeli father, who vows NOT to
seek revenge for the slaying of his 14-year-old daughter.

Along the way, some messages stay clear in my mind. First, is the
artist in Bosnia, who is still living in the same apartment as that
day when the bombs first fell, who says that it is her work, her art
that has helped her survive. It is in the mind, she states, where
freedom lies. Later, toward the end, the Israeli father of the slain
14-year-old states that he has a choice in how to react to his
daughter’s death. Does he go out and take revenge for her death as is
so common around him? Does this ease his pain? Or does he instead
find compassion and continue to say his story and tell of his pain and
therefore, hope that others will listen, not just hear, but listen and
understand? It’s obvious he has chosen the latter. The message here
is that ultimately true freedom is in our mind and in the choice of
how to respond and react to a disaster, a crisis, a personal tragedy.

In this world, for some it may seem there is no choice but to take
revenge, but yet there are some who still feel the freedom of making
the choice. Is there something that makes these individuals stand out
from those who feel there is no choice? Perhaps. Perhaps there is
something that makes a person naturally resilient to tragedy and
disaster. Perhaps only certain people are meant to carry the hope in
the world. Perhaps only certain people are meant to understand what
it means to truly feel compassion.

Ultimately, someone will ask why I would watch such a movie. Maybe
just like Ripper, I need to see if there is some hope in this world of
suffering and cruelty. In some way, I’m still uncertain. Perhaps the
only hope left is what is carried in my heart. But then again, Ripper
did make this movie. His documentary has an important message to say.
So I am not alone with this hope of mine.

I must commend Velcrow Ripper for this documentary – not just for
making it but for deciding to make it and visit those people and
places.

Hopefully, more people will see this documentary and hear the message.
As Ripper said during the Q&A after the screening, there is a sense
of urgency in the world. I agree, the urgency is there. But also,
more people are needed to respond to it. “…Breathe out compassion”
We need it to survive.

Hope you enjoyed the review. Got the message I hope.

Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

Season Finale time – part two (Star Trek: Enterprise and Without a Trace)

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

MM,

I have not been watching Enterprise for long, in fact, I only caught onto it this year with the season premiere, “Storm Front”. So, it doesn’t really phase me that Enterprise is cancelled. If anything I’m not surprised. Frankly, Enterprise just didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the Star Trek shows. Granted, some of the characters were somewhat interesting, but for the most part they didn’t make me want to watch more. Not like Data, Will Riker, Deanna Troi, Tom Paris, Harry Kim, and B’Lanna Torres. There wasn’t even anyone remotely Picard-like or Janeway-like. Now those two are what made TNG and Voyager work. Now, top off Enterprise with a cheesy theme song called “Faith of the Heart” written by Diane Warren (isn’t she getting old now?) and you’ve got the recipe for a TV show that’s guaranteed to die out fast. I’m a bit surprised it lasted 4 seasons with that theme song. Why didn’t they just keep the orchestra music? That is more appropriate for a sci-fi show.

Okay, so Enterprise is gone and no more Star Trek. Will we miss it? Probably. Might be good for us though. Make us starve for a bit and maybe the next series will be better. In the meantime, there’s Battlestar Galactica. Awesome theme song and overall style. Starbuck is kickass. Can’t wait for season two…

Now, a little bit about Without a Trace. I like this show, better than CSI (though I suppose I haven’t given CSI a fair chance), but why did they have to end the season with a cliffhanger with two of the main characters possibly about to die? I guess I have no choice but to watch the next season (not like I wasn’t going to). Okay, if anyone knows whether Martin and Danny make it out okay, post a comment on here. Thanks.

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
http://www.brigidsflame.com/

Season Finale time – part 1 (Survivor Palau)

Monday, May 16th, 2005

MM,

Okay, I admit it, I watch Survivor. Not necessarily a fan, so to speak, as I have missed certain seasons and lots of episodes of Survivor, even the much-talked about All-Stars season. But I managed to watch nearly all of Survivor Palau.

What impressed me the most on this season of Survivor was Stephenie LaGrossa. Now, the only other person who impressed me more than Stephenie was Ethan Zohn, who (if Survivor fans will recall) won Survivor Africa.

In my eyes, Stephenie should have won Survivor Palau as she was the true winner and star of this season. Not only was she physically strong, but she had the indomitable spirit of a true winner (by the way, “indomitable spirit” is a phrase we use in taekwondo in reference to a true champion). She did not give up. Of course, she got the short end of the stick by getting picked for the wrong tribe. No doubt if she was on the same tribe with Tom to begin with, she would have had a chance to make it to the end. But then again, would we have gotten to know Stephenie if she hadn’t outlasted the other members of her dwindling tribe? No, probably not. We would not have seen how in the face of extinction of her tribe, she kept her hopes up and managed to get to the merge. Of course, this is probably what did her in at Koror as she was seen as being so strong – stronger than some men (as Bobby Jon put it, “she can do anything a man can do” and even better at times, as she beat him in the individual challenge to build fire to become the last member of her tribe). By the time she got to merge with Koror, the time she could have spent bonding with Tom was passed and Tom ended up taking Katie to the final two instead (now, Katie didn’t deserve that spot, but hey then again, I think we’ve seen worse people sitting in final two).

Getting back to Stephenie, she spent one full night alone on this season of Survivor, something that has never been done before. That alone should give her special honours as Survivor champion. She was alone on a remote island and she dug in her heels and managed to take care of herself. Let’s recall some of the things Stephenie did after Bobby Jon had to leave the tribe. First, she had to come back and tend the fire, make sure it lasted all night. The next morning, she had to go get water and food. Food was a little tough getting as she tried fishing and going after clams and came back with nothing. Lastly, she tried gathering some coconuts by tossing a stick at the tree trying to knock them down. When that didn’t work, the girl looked up at the coconut and started climbing up the tree. Stephenie has indomitable spirit – she didn’t give up. Then she went out to get treemail not quite sure what to expect – for all she knew Jeff could have had her spending one more night alone, but lucky Stephenie she was told to go to Koror.

Watching Survivor, I’ve always considered what I would be doing there. Watching Stephenie, I could not escape being empathic with her. When she was tired of losing, I was tired of losing. I could put myself in her shoes. She worked hard, so would I. She went fishing and clamming, so would I. She went to gather coconuts, so would I. Finally, she climbed that tree. So would I. Now, some people may think, who wouldn’t climb the tree? I’ll just have to point to Katie. No, I can’t see Katie climbing that tree. And that brings me to my last point about Stephenie’s indomitable spirit. Knowing that it should have been her sitting in final two position, Stephenie did not hold any anger or grudge. She just wanted answers and the answers she got was satisfying enough. She knew she was voted off because she was a true champion (in her words, she had “too much heart”) and that was enough. She accepted not getting to final two gracefully.

Now, about the winner of Survivor Palau – Tom Westman. My respect for Stephenie aside, I do think Tom did deserve to win. He played the game well. Granted some people may have been a bit irked with him, but he did help out the tribe overall. I attribute Koror’s winning streak to Tom. Did anyone not see him picking up the pace in that water challenge to catch up and tag out Ulong and win immunity? Tom is the kind of person who sees people losing strength and energy and gives it to them because he knows it’s the team that wins – not just him. Granted winning tribal immunities helped him stay around longer, but that does not negate the fact that everyone on Koror got to stay a little longer in the game because of him. Tom overall is strong as was evident by him winning 7 individual immunity challenges. If anyone else, besides Stephenie, deserved to get to final two, it was Tom.

Okay, so there you have it – my comments on the final episode of Survivor Palau.

One last comment about the Survivor series overall – to be a contestant on Survivor, you have to be a U.S. citizen and currently live in the U.S. I’m Canadian and therefore cannot apply to be on Survivor, so I have to play the game vicariously through people like Stephenie. Is it not time they opened the game up to their friendly neighbours up north?

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
http://www.brigidsflame.com/

Some Duran Duran Facts

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

1. Duran Duran got the name from the sci-fi movie, Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda. The band would later produce the hit song, “Electric Barbarella”. (Hey cool… they like sci-fi too!)

2. In 1982, Princess Diana would declare Duran Duran her favourite band. The band was summoned to perform live before the Princess and the Queen. (If they were good enough for the Princess, they are good enough for me!)

3. The videos for “Save a Prayer”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, and “Lonely in Your Nightmare” were filmed in Sri Lanka. “Rio” was filmed in Antigua. Russell Mulcahy was the director. He directed at least the pilot of the sci-fi TV series, Jeremiah, which stars Luke Perry, of 90210 fame. (I’ve only seen one of the episodes of Jeremiah, Mulcahy’s influence isn’t hard to miss.)

4. Nick Rhodes produced the song “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo. (I liked this song too when it first came out. I have to say that Nick is a music genius and his name pops up in association with a few others.)

5. Linkin Park and Duran Duran have the same producer, Don Gilmore. He was one of the producers on Duran Duran’s new album and he also produced “Collision Course” featuring Jay-Z and Linkin Park. (Linkin Park is also a band I really like. The band mixes two different styles of music extremely well – and it doesn’t hurt that both singers are really good.)

6. Duran Duran appears on Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “Feed the World”. The songs were made as a charity relief effort for those starving in Ethiopia at the time. The artists involved with Band-Aid include Sting, U2, George Michael, Boy George, Bananarama and many others. Band-Aid would perform a live show called Live-Aid as an additional fundraiser. After this, Bob Geldof (formerly of Boomtown Rats) would be knighted for his humanitarian role as organizer of Band-Aid and Live-Aid. He is properly known as Sir Bob Geldof. (Sorry, I got side-tracked from Duran Duran, but thought it was important to point out this fact of music history).

7. Duran Duran’s song “A View to a Kill” is the only James Bond theme song to reach #1. (Since Simon couldn’t live his dream of starring as James Bond in the movies, I guess getting to make the theme song was the next best thing for him. Note the boyish smile on his face at the end of the video when the girl asks him, “Aren’t you…?” and he replies, “Bon, Simon LeBon”)

8. Grace Jones and Sting are featured on the Arcadia album. (Roger, Nick, and Simon were part of Arcadia while John and Andy got to work with Robert Palmer on Power Station and produced hits “Some Like it Hot” and “Get It On (Bang a Gong)”)

9. Duran Duran is the first band to upload a song for sale on the internet. The song was “Electric Barbarella”. (Duran Duran is a strong supporter of new technology. At the same time, they hate to see some of the old habits go away, like browsing through a music store listening to new tunes and chatting with the staff about new music. Source: MuchMoreMusic interview April 4, 2005.)

10. Nick Rhodes was a good friend with artist Andy Warhol. (Note the similar fashion sense!)

11. In 1998, Simon LeBon performed with the Smashing Pumpkins in London. (I liked the Smashing Pumpkins too once I realized who they were. I heard the song 1979 many times but didn’t know it was a Pumpkins song until my boyfriend at the time mentioned it, as he was a Pumpkins fan.)

12. On August 11, 1985, Simon LeBon’s yacht capsized off the English coast during a boat race. He was trapped for 40 minutes in an underwater air pocket until the Royal Navy rescued him. (One of my cats happens to be born on August 11. Also on August 11, 1995, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) experienced their first crash on the subway line. However, the TTC is still considered to be one of the safest public transit systems.)

13. In 2001, NASA plays Duran Duran’s song “Hold Back the Rain” for the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis hoping to ward off the rain so the shuttle can land. It worked and the crew landed safely at Cape Canaveral. (Duran Duran’s obsession with sci-fi seems to draw them to similar folks. Is it a coincidence that astronauts like Duran Duran?)

14. In 2004, again a Duran Duran song is used by NASA. This time during a Mars mission where NASA sends up a second Mars Exploration Rover called Opportunity. Opportunity is woken up each morning to the song, “Is There Something I should Know?” It was thought this would encourage the rover to find some more answers whether or not Mars ever had environments that sustained life. (Go Rover go!)

15. Duran Duran’s first singer was Stephen (“Tin Tin”) Duffy. However, they never produced anything with Duffy as he decided to pursue his musical interests elsewhere. Nick would later produce music with Duffy as the Devils. (I really liked Duffy’s song “Kiss Me”. However, I haven’t heard anything by The Devils.)

This list compiled by Cassandrah
Your local webmistress and Duranie
http://www.brigidsflame.com/