The Broom Wagon continues his end of year awards with Alexandre Vinokourov taking home the Kim Jong-un Award for most promising politician.
The Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Mounted Donkey for best performance by a leading animal
Organisers of the Time Freight Express Mountain Bike Race chose to hold October's event in a South African wildlife park. They would have got away with it too, if it hadn't been for that leaping hartebeest.
Gongs celebrate the most surprising, bewildering and ridiculous movie moments.
As an antidote to the orgy of US and international film awards, the WTF Movie Awards have joined the Razzies as a means of mocking movies that represent Hollywood’s lesser achievements.
Launched in 2010 by Hollywood.com, the WTF awards celebrate the past year’s “most surprising, frustrating, bewildering, and ridiculous movie moments.”
The winners receive the Frank trophy, a 3m tall statuette inspired by the bunny-suit-clad apparition in Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko, rated by the website as arguably the greatest WTF movie of all time.
What was 2011 for you? Matt Hall wraps up the topics that the sometimes bizarre US media took most interest in.
In the U.S., news was dominated by Occupy Wall Street, Osama Bin Laden’s death, 9/11, attempted political assassinations, the Republican Party’s search for a Presidential candidate, the economy, and… pizza.
THE RISE OF OCCUPY
On September 17, around 100 people set up a camp in a concrete 'park' wedged between the former World Trade Center site and Wall Street in Downtown Manhattan. Why? Well, for a whole lot of reasons, it turned out. What became known as Occupy Wall Street morphed into a global protest mainly in opposition to perceptions of corporate greed and economic helplessness. Protestors may have had many scatter-gun issues, but at least they had them. Their cause was, ironically, promoted by often heavy-handed police tactics.
For some reason, Kung Pao chicken puts me in a US-sitcom state of mind. It seems like the kind of Chinese dish that is ordered by a sextet of New York pals in between jokes, or picked over by a quartet of Manhattan ladies while they ponder the state of their love lives. I’m sure it never featured on the menu in any of the suburban Chinese restaurants I ate in as a child.
Kung Pao chicken recipe
So I was thrilled when it made an appearance in our Dinner and a Movie – Chinese Legends feature. This was my chance to have my own sitcom moment. Cue the laugh track and let’s get cooking.
I don’t generally cook very much Asian food – the fact that I couldn’t locate my wok is testament to that fact. We’re so spoiled for choice where I live that it seems easier to head to one of the many local restaurants than cook it myself at home. However, that being said, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had most of the ingredients required already in the cupboard – the Szechuan peppercorns were kindly supplied by our food editor, Angela.
The first step was marinating the chicken – easily done and it gave me time to prep the rest of the ingredients and get the rice-cooker started. From there, it all came together pretty quickly. My lack of a wok meant that I had to use a large frying pan instead – oil spattered everywhere – and a new wok is now on my shopping list.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics Award for 'starting with a nice party then utterly failing to live up to expectations' is just one of the many gongs handed out by the Broom Wagon.
In January the grub known for the previous few months as the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Team Project nibbled a hole in its cocoon, pushed its way out and became the delicate and beautiful Team Leopard Trek. January's launch featured a man in a leotard inside a human hamster wheel, and it proved a neat analogy for the upcoming season – lots of spinning without achieving anything much. The team lasted nine months before merging with RadioShack in September. They leave behind Oliver Zaugg's win at the Giro di Lombardia and a lingering uncertainty about how to correctly pronounce 'leopard'.
Skil-Shimano signed Marcel Kittel In November last year to beef up their lead-out train. Those expectations soon changed as the German, aged 23, took a record 17 wins in his first year as a pro. The haul included four stages at the Tour de Pologne, one at the Vuelta a Espana and a sprint into Drysdale on the third leg of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. For comparison, Mark Cavendish, who is yet to race against Kittel, took 11 wins in his first year as a pro.
The Ryan Giggs and Imogen Thomas trophy for best kept secret
Days away from the New Year, Anthony Tan signs off 2011 with a few parting words.
Sometimes, words flow onto the page as easily as I pull on a garish jacket. Other times, I feel like I’m subjecting myself to a bizarre form of self-flagellation.
Still, nothing that I have done compares with the dedication of British-American author and journalist Christopher Hitchens, who died last Thursday and spent much of his precious remaining hours eking out a 3,000-word review of English writer G. K. Chesterton’s biography by Ian Ker.
Hitchens’ close friend and fellow author, Ian McEwan, remembers escorting him from his deathbed in a Texas hospital to a desk set up under a window. Doped on morphine, his pain was implacable and denied eating or drinking, he sucked on tiny shards of ice to keep himself alive that little bit longer. “We helped him and his pole with its feed-lines across the room, arranged pillows on his chair, adjusted the height of his laptop,” McEwan recalled to the Guardian newspaper.
The European Central Bank has lent around $650billion to Eurozone banks, but it seems the market didn’t like it.
I ask Rob Henderson from NAB why.
I also asked him for his take on the retail sector following Kathmandu’s profit downgrade and what he thinks about reports in today’s Daily Telegraph about “catastrophic” job losses in Australia next year.
Cate Shortland returns to feature films, as Harrison Ford tries to branch out.
The release of Somersault in 2004 announced a major new Australian film talent in the form of Cate Shortland. Emotionally vivid and connected to the Australian landscape in the same uneasy way as Bill Henson’s photography, the drama about a teenage girl’s flight from home and her sexual awakening launched Abbie Cornish and drew a roiling performance from Sam Worthington that his subsequent blockbusters have only hinted at. Shortland had matched Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career) and Andrew Dominik (Chopper), but there was just one problem: she didn’t follow it up.
The Silence, an intriguing television movie for the ABC in 2006, has long been Shortland’s only subsequent credit, but her next feature is finally underway for a 2012 release. Adapted from Rachel Seiffert’s Booker Prize-nominated novel, The Dark Room, Lore is the story of a 16-year-old girl, Lore (Saskia-Sophie Rosendahl), who in 1945 must escort her four younger siblings across the chaos of a just occupied Germany near the end of World War II following the arrest of her Nazi parents. The period drama’s German cast includes Kai-Peter Malina (Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon). Somersault, if you’re not familiar with it, screens on SBS One at 11.05pm on Wednesday 4 January.
Wanted: a dignified third act for Harrison Ford’s career. The 69-year-old actor, who will forever be associated with Han Solo and Indiana Jones (despite even Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), has not weathered the transition from Hollywood’s top leading man to veteran well. Crossing Over, Extraordinary Measures and Morning Glory all failed to show Ford in a good light, while Cowboys & Aliens was very busy and very slight. Two new parts, however, suggest he’s at least willing to try different genres.
In 42, Ford will play Branch Rickey, the determined sports executive who broke the colour barrier in American baseball when he signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The drama is written and directed by Brian Helgeland, who is very good at the former (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River) and not so good at the latter (A Knight’s Tale, The Sin Eater). In Ender’s Game, taken from the celebrated science-fiction novel by Orson Scott Card, Ford will play the commander of a futuristic training school where gifted children are prepared for the space battles against an alien race attacking Earth. It is the classic mentor’s role, but the students assembled by director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) include Asa Butterfield (Hugo) and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit).
Thanks to David Fincher, US studios are finally cottoning onto the idea that film franchises need not be the exclusive domain of Muggles and Twihards.
For better or worse, the franchise is the currentsine qua non of mainstream American filmmaking—at once thedefiningtrend, and the condition to which every studio executive aspires. When they work (Harry Potter, Twilight, Toy Story) they not only generate massive global box office, but penetrate the culture, becoming fully-fledged social phenomena. When they don't (anyone remember Wild Wild West? Or Ben Affleck as Daredevil?), there's an almost palpable sense of an opportunity lost, and more importantly, ofmoney not made. Picture crates of action-figures, gathering dust in a warehouse somewhere . . .
But the franchise is predicated upon a faulty premise: that to succeed, it must aim for, and attract, a PG-13 audience. It's a theoryakinto old-fashioned broadcasting: striving to reach the widest possible market, and taking care to exclude no one(at least in theory)who can afford a ticket.
In fact, given that there are few middle-aged men who'd care to shell out eighteen bucks to watch Bella blush and stammer at Edward (or Jacob — or Edward and Jacob) inBreaking Dawn —comparatively few men at all, in fact — this logic seems slightly suspect.
Australians are expected to spend $7.6billion around the country, in the final week of the Christmas sales.
That’s up slightly on the previous year.
But they’ll be hoping consumers continue to spend in the post-Christmas sales too.
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