State of Origin

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  I wouldn’t call myself a big league fan. I don’t usually watch fixtures on telly, let alone go to the games. Two years ago, I hopped to ANZ stadium to witness State of Origin in person. The rugby league … Continue reading

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Ant-Man and The Wasp reviewed

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  I saw Ant-Man 2 with Nick at Top Ryde. I first saw the original in 2015 with another friend. A story of family, love, and friendship, Ant-Man conveys these themes in a lighthearted and breezy manner. There are different … Continue reading

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Enemy of the State reviewed

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As I conversed with my pal, he told me, ‘So it’s like Enemy of the State?’ We both had a laugh. ‘I hadn’t seen that one yet’. ‘Might be twenty years since released, but you should.’ I finally saw and … Continue reading

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World Cup stories

The action starts at 10pm on TV. There is live streaming of course, and a whole lot of drama straight from host, Russia. Since blasting off a week ago, the 2018 FIFA World Cup has been the hottest ticket in a few towns. I watched as Australia lost their opener against France, bouncing back with a solid effort contra Denmark. As far as I know, World Cups have always been ‘the late show’. From South Africa in 2010 to Rio in 2014, the hardest part has been the unseemly scheduling.

 

In progress
Australia has one group match left, against 11th-ranked Peru. We have to get a win, as Denmark beat the latter, 1-0, and hope the Danes lose big against the Frenchmen. In our group, France has already progressed to the next round, with victories over us and Peru. The other spot in the sudden death knockout stages, is still up for grabs. Every four years, it seems that we are always drawn in the ‘group of death’. In this edition alone, we are bunched in Group C with three of the top twelve teams. In 2014, we had to contend with Spain, Chile, and the Dutch. We played like battlers, but couldn’t muster a win after three ties. The last time we won a match at the World Cup was way back in 2010, against Serbia. I remember my classmate saying we’ll definitely bounce back against Ghana after Germany walloped us 4-0, eight years ago. I stayed silent, but would’ve told him not to underestimate the opposition. Sure enough, we drew with them, 1-1. After conceding four goals against Germany, our fate was sealed; Ghana advanced to the next stage.

 

Kings and pawns
Some local writers have spoofed this so called misfortune. Since we are ranked 36th, any group will always be the group of death. The only time we would be favourites is if we played Syria or Iraq, and neither of those teams would qualify for the Cup. Maybe at the 2042 World Cup, we would still live to see our Socceroos get past the group stage. These are the pitfalls of being a mid ranked footballing squad: there will always be better teams on our radar. Being the lone contender out of Oceania, we have carried the hopes and dreams of the Pacific since ‘06. We are kings of Asia, but that hardly matters on the world stage. Our biggest weaknesses are our defence and lack of prolific goal scorers. We have given up too many goals in each of the past three instalments, and have not scored enough. We need an all-around player in the mould of a young Tim Cahill; Matthew Leckie can’t win on a one man attack.

 

 

Meanwhile…
Seeing the might of the enemy is easy. The French have been consistently mentioned as having an inside chance to lift the trophy. Apart from. their debacle against us, they look for real. The Danes have shown their class, and a lot has to go our way before we can overtake them for the second round. Brazil has bounced back after a 7-1 trashing in the semis last time out. Neymar is healthy, they are the highest ranked team left, and they have a chip on their shoulders. Meanwhile, reigning champion Germany has failed to advance, while Mexico are surprisingly through to the next round. Iceland has brought a tenth of their population to these games, and they are still alive. Meantime, Ronaldo scored a hat trick in their first match, while Messi and Argentina have struggled with subpar outings against Iceland and Croatia. We’ve also heard how Spain has fired their coach on the eve of the tourney. As we enter the business end of the meet, expect high drama, more goals, more yellow cards, and great fan support.

 

Shining stars
32 sides, 64 matches, 8 groups, 4 weeks of killer action, and one golden trophy. There are superstars, teams of stars, and just teams. All the big guns are raring to go; this is not your annual FA Cup, or Champions League. This is where legends are made, where heroics are forever etched on viewers’ memory. One costly mistake could be the difference between living another day, or going fishing. One timely kick, all that lies between living the dream and counting posts around. You might take in nineteen or ninety minutes, but know this: once you’re watching the World Cup, you’re a part of history.

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Incredibles 2 Reviewed

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This weekend has been full on. Yesterday Nick and I saw Incredibles at the cinema; the sequel was really impressive. Then we had dinner at a resto, where my friend tried something different. Upon heading back, I watched the Socceroos … Continue reading

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Ocean’s 8 reviewed

On Friday night, my friend and I saw this all-female production at the Burwood cinemas. Another friend told me about Ocean’s, but the trailer did not impress me. I forgot about it for a few weeks, until recently, when I just had to see it. I’ve been blogging lots, so running out of ideas is expected. Big names like Bullock, Blanchett, and Hathaway headline the cast. This is the fourth Ocean movie, after the successful trilogy starring Clooney, Pitt, and Damon.

 

Assembling the gang
In this sequel, Bullock (Clooney’s on-screen sister) is released after five years in prison. She is warned not to go back to her old ways, but this is exactly what she does upon returning. She reunites with her old partner, Cate Blanchett, and assembles the gang. Her eyes are set on the $150 million dollar Cartier necklace stored underground in New York’s Metropolitan Museum.  Actor Daphne Kluger (Hathaway) would wear said necklace at the Met Gala, the glitziest, most prestigious dinner of all. Her attempts to construct her crew dominate the first half. All hands had their role to play, but 9 Ball (Rihanna) is particularly notable, since her hacking skills are paramount to the task.

The lure of a share of the millions stolen draws them. To champion equality, Debbie Ocean offers an equal share of the prize for everyone. Another drawcard: would you want to be in on the heist of the century? Along the way there are doubts, minor setbacks, and the desire for revenge. There are lots of laughs, the girls loved it. One scene involved Daphne’s Designer, Rose Weil, having a minutes-long look at the necklace. She needed this to capture the look on her high-tech glasses. There are also some French and Chinese dialogues thrown in to add some spice. I don’t usually go for chick flicks but I don’t mind them every once in a while. Aside from promoting gender equality, the film also features its share of minorities.

 

 

Similarities
There are clear similarities to the prior films in the franchise. Obviously the big crew, the easy pace, the heist theme, and yes, the flashbacks near the end to anatomise the job. Who’s in and who’s not, are some things settled in the end. When I asked my friend after the movie, he told me that ‘It was okay.’ He particularly liked the cruisy story. ‘Some movies are hard to watch, but that was smooth.’ It is winter, cold and rainy, so having a nice, breezy watch was a welcome sight. The last one we saw, Avengers, was much more demanding with repeated back-and-forths across multiple storylines.

 

Passing the torch
There are a couple of scenes where Bullock visits her brother’s tomb. I can’t help but think of the passing of the torch. At one end, there’s the trio of films that was machismo at its finest. The top-flight thespians gathered while at the height of their fame. They also had a heavyweight director who made a career out of crime thrillers. This time, it’s their female counterparts who steal the show. Whether at the start or the end, she speaks to her brother as if he were there. With a larger turnout than anticipated, Friday’s session showed that this kind of setup would work. With gay rights and #timesup leading the charge, an all-female ensemble is swell, just as guys watching a chick flick is fair enough.

Since this instalment has its eyes on number one at the box office this weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull this off. With a stellar cast, a robust and easy story, and lots of fun, this one definitely exceeds expectations.

***(out of 4)

 

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Ang ‘Finals’

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This is not a post of the unfolding NBA Finals (Quick aside: Dubs in 5). There are enough articles, memes, forums, and blogs, not to mention TV analysts, dedicated to that juggernaut. Instead, I want to discuss one of the … Continue reading

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