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Michael Haneke has done it again.

When The White Ribbon won the big prize at Cannes in 2009 it was long overdue for the German born Austrian director – Haneke has perhaps the most formidable back catalogue of any living director, stretching all the way into the late eighties; now, in 2012 it appears the French film festival is overly enamoured with the serious grump.

Last week Haneke won with Amour. Again he appears to be playing with film media (Hidden was full of it), but now the subject matter seems to be less political, and more familial. I am excited about the future Australian release.

Check it out….

 

 

Green Flash, a Californian brewery in the States, have some excellent beers in their line-up. Earlier this year I had their double stout; the verdict was more than wonderful.

Their Palate Wrecker, an imperial IPA, is a 9.5% monster. And it is truly an American Beauty. The Hunchback of Notre Dame meets the fairytale Beast. It sure has big hop flavours, but the balance with the sweetness is all there. Further, it isn’t your average melted down molasses concoction like other imperials. If you see him in the shop tell him I said hi.

 

 

A recent influx of tasty Rogue delights into Queensland has brought me upon the cusp of emotional breakdown.

Rogue is a brewer in Portland, Oregon, and their brews are highly rated by many many beer lovers. I was skeptical.

But the Hazelnut Brown Nectar has converted me – here is a perfectly balanced beast. Most brown ales are dull wallflowers, but this brew is far more sophisticated – an ideal union of sweet and bitter. Nectar of the gods!

I don’t know when i’ll meet you again, but you made me very happy for a short time. And for that I thank you.

 

 

This was in high circulation a while back.

For anyone whose seen a Herzog film or read Where’s Wally this is one of the great youtube moments.

Werner is your classic, serious Germanic filmmaker, full of pretensions. Wally a frivolous, beanie wearing twit.

This video always makes me happy for some inexpicable reason. It is cultural mash-up at its finest.

 

 

OutKast really found an audience with some super groovy rhythms and nagging melodies early on in the noughties. “Ms Jackson” and “Hey Ya!” were both huge hits which followed an almost faultless formula.

However, to discover their earlier work on the albums ATLiens (1996) and Aquemini (1998) is an absolute revelation. Here in the late nineties they succeeded in mixing, seamlessly, classic hip hop sounds with ever so smooth soul and R&B harmonies. It is an intoxicating and persuasive brew.

Aquemini is their masterpiece. Song after song (interspersed with silly soundbites of dialogue) manages to do the impossible – make seemingly frivolous party music rich in substance, yet never stifling. Enjoy one of the great tracks here:

 

 

David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia is the epitome of big picture film-making. It is ninety percent spectacle. The story is set during the first world war – the English middle eastern campaign against the Turks – where one man is sought as a heroic posterboy for the morale of the allied nations. Enter the eccentric and brilliant T. E. Lawrence. He is thoroughly unhinged; the perfect man to trek across nameless deserts in order to obtain an alliance with the Arabs. And we as the audience journey alongside him, every movement, every passing flourish. The film has the ability to throw the viewer into a narcoleptic state with such an immensity of barren, evocative desert to experience. Yet once one gets a hold on the disquieting isolation and aggressive climate, it might be difficult not to get swept up in the process.

Up until the late fifties, David Lean had been making quaint and beautiful British films – Brief Encounter, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist – all stories which mined a rich vein of human interest and drama. Then, in 1957, he began a new phase in his directing career with Bridge on the River Kwai. It was the overlong grand epic (Alec Guiness’ performance makes it worth the investment). But the best was still yet to come.

Lawrence of Arabia has a plethora of cinematic delights. Lean creates some moments of true poetry (see below). Yet, maybe largely owing to Peter O’Toole’s fine work, we are never totally removed from the troubled genius within T. E. Lawrence. Here is a man who does not want to be who he truly is; this pale skinned Englishman sincerely desires an Arabian soul. O’Toole makes us feel Lawrence’s dysphoria – it is a powerful performance.

Nevertheless, there are parts of Lawrence which don’t quite work. Some scenes are missing a core, others feel disconnected from the prevailing narrative or emotional tone. But despite these weakness, Lawrence stills rides victorious.

Lawrence in many ways sowed the seeds of several branches of film-making which bloomed at the box office in the proceeding twenty years. The visionary images of Kubrick’s 2001 had their genesis here. Meanwhile, Spielberg’s blockbusters were obviously enamoured with the scope (and budget) on display here. It is a double-sided influence; some of it bad, some of it good. And David Lean would never better it.

 

 

The trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s follow-up to his brilliantly unsettling (and occasionally hilarious) There will be Blood, was released yesterday and my heart is beating at ridiculous rates.

It’s called The Master, it comes out in October this year, and it looks positively intriguing. Check it out: