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Month: March 2018

Experience Wilderness of the Exotic Kind in Daintree Australia

Posted on March 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

Visit Daintree, north Queensland, where beach and rain forest merge in one spectacular location. Experience wilderness of the exotic kind viewing crocodiles, kangaroos, maybe a platypus. Broken into three parts, a portion is national park. Approach from Cairns, Port Douglas or Palm Cove, or stay right in the heart of this oldest rain forest in the world.

You can cross Daintree River by boarding a car ferry. Perhaps travel down it by boat with an experienced operator. Find some rock pools or rivers with safe waters for a swim and a splash thanks to some inside information from locals.

Boardwalks provide another way to see the forest while preserving the forest floor from damage. Some of these allow for self-guided touring. Others emanate from a discovery centre. Bring the kids so they can learn while on holiday. Here they will learn to understand the value of preserving a complex ecosystem; how all parts work together to pump life not just around in circles, but into the global environment. Their education could make a significant impact.

Their lessons involve touch screens and displays. Audio devices provide a further dimension to learning. Explore ancient trees, rare plant life and look out for over four hundred species of birds.

Daintree culture gains inspiration from its setting. Visit Dragonfly and Lora Villa Art Galleries for a view of how the sights and sounds manifest themselves creatively. Artists showcased are local to the area.

Join an Aboriginal guided tour in Mossman Gorge. This location takes up another of the three parts known as Daintree. During your time with them learn about medicinal plants, pre-European culture and ancient beliefs.

Your final portion of the regional trio is Cape Tribulation. Here, Captain Cook and crew ran into a coral reef on board the famous Endeavour while exploring from Britain. Instead of finding a huge Southern Continent as many in Britain had hoped, he mapped the antipodes. Today, do not expect to find the remnants of his ship, but by all means try your hand at fishing for native fish such as Barramundi and just imagine yourself standing in waters within view of where Cook and crew would have experienced damages. Bring your snorkeling or diving equipment for a closer look at aquatic wildlife.

Though cities, shopping and business continue their urban buzz less than two hours away, feel secluded at Daintree accommodations. Then again, rain forest noises could compete with the sounds of the city any day. Some hotels, motels and lodges attract backpackers and holiday makers on a budget. Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa is comprised of fifteen villas. These provide in-house videos, phones and tea or coffee making facilities so you can sit back with a hot drink to listen to calls in the wild. Bring the kids by all means. Julaymba Restaurant will fill your belly: sit out on the balcony terrace for an al fresco dinner. Make use of business facilities in this tropical paradise if you can keep your mind on work to a background of exotic bird calls. Spa services include aromatherapy, body wraps and more.

The Apartment

Posted on March 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

Whenever I’m asked to name my favourite film, I invariably find myself unable to give the innocent enquirer a straight answer. As somebody who has long prided himself on being a film buff, I have to admit that flunking a question which should, in all honesty, be an ice-breaking slam-dunk, is deeply unimpressive. In my defence, I have finally whittled the choice down to three!

The first contender is, perhaps, a rather too obvious one: Citizen Kane, (1941), boy wonder Orson Welles’ technical tour-de-force that reshaped the boundaries of Cinema and which reigned supreme as the film critics’ ultimate choice for half a century or more, until Hitchcock’s psychological potboiler Vertigo (1958) dethroned it in Sight and Sound’s definitive 2012 poll.

The second candidate is, perhaps, too sentimental. Each time Christmas rolls around, the heart begins to rule the head, and I end up drunkenly toasting Frank Capra’s festive masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life as being the greatest film of them all, bar none! (see the archive section for an extensive review).

The third pretender to the throne on the short list, edging out Powell and Pressburger’s star-crossed romance A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Stanley Kubrick’s mind-boggling meditation on mankind 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Giuseppe Tornatore’s nostalgic love-letter to the movies Cinema Paradiso (1988), is Billy Wilder’s Oscar-winning comedy-drama The Apartment (1960). Not as well known as some of the films mentioned above, for sure, but not a left-field choice either, being one of the few Best-Picture winners to have strengthened its reputation over time, featuring at No 80 in the latest American Film Institute’s (AFI) poll of the 100 Greatest American Movies.

Wilder, an Austrian Jew with an exotic hinterland that few could match, even in Hollywood! (journalist, screenwriter and male escort just for starters), had departed Vienna the day after the Reichstag fire and was desperately trying to out-run the Nazi tide that was threatening to engulf Europe (his Mother, Stepfather and Grandmother would all die at Auschwitz). Arriving in America in 1934, a penniless refugee who could barely speak a word of English, he promptly fell in love with his adopted country – not that you’d necessarily know it from watching his movies which, more often than not, cast a jaundiced eye over American mores. Slippery insurance salesmen with murder on their mind in Double Indemnity (1944), Hollywood gigolo’s latching on to yesterday’s stars in Sunset Boulevard (1950), cut-throat newspapermen craving their big break in Ace in the Hole (1951) and the faceless nebbish bringing up the rear in the corporate rat-race (The Apartment) 1960, all got the Wilder treatment, but good.

Wilder had honed his mastery of the screenwriting craft under the tutelage of legendary director Ernst Lubitsch (Wilder’s watchword was always ‘how would Lubitsch do it’), co-scripting Greta Garbo’s famous comedy Ninotchka (1939), with his screenwriting partner Charles Brackett. The film, to no-one’s surprise, was a runaway success and earned Wilder his long dreamed of crack at directing. Wilder hit his stride right away, a fact confirmed by his confident handling of the shocking film noir Double Indemnity, (notwithstanding, of course, his tortuous relationship with the novelist Raymond Chandler, drafted in by Paramount to replace a piqued Brackett).

The idea for the “dirty little fairy tale”, as one of Wilder’s detractors had labelled The Apartment on its release in 1960, had been kicking around in the back of Wilder’s busy mind since he’d first seen David Lean’s sensational wartime romance Brief Encounter in 1945. While a war-torn nation might have been moved to tears by the self-sacrifice of Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, Wilder found himself intrigued instead by the motives of the friend who had loaned Howard’s character his apartment for the adulterous rendezvous that threatened to destabilise the institution of marriage in an already traumatised Britain! At the time, though, Wilder couldn’t see a way to smuggle a film that revolved around casual, extra-marital sex past the all-powerful censors at the Hay’s Office.

Finally, though, the project came to fruition. Having just made the sensational Some Like It Hot (1959), the smash hit comedy of the year, and a film which would ultimately top the AFI’s 2000 poll of America’s Funniest Movies, Wilder was casting around for a fitting encore. The answer was right under Wilder’s nose – take Jack Lemmon, the rising star who had done so much through his playing of Jerry/Daphne to turn Some Like It Hot into an instant classic, and write a film specifically tailored to his unique and, still to this day, under-appreciated talent for capturing the character of the American everyman; Lemmon was able to step lightly off the silver screen and straight into our hearts, just as guilelessly as Jimmy Stewart had once done in his pre-war heyday. A story that had been too risqué for Wilder to film, just a decade or so before, might work in these more forgiving times, particularly with an actor as gifted as Lemmon playing the lead.

Lemmon plays C.C. “Bud” Baxter, a lowly and lonely insurance clerk (the occupant of desk no. 861 in an opening scene of chilling, corporate conformity which borrows heavily from King Vidor’s 1928 movie, The Crowd), who unwittingly stumbles into a tawdry arrangement with a clique of middle-aged, middle-management misanthropes at Consolidated Life. The deal is a dirty one, alright – Baxter makes available the use of his apartment, day or night, for his bosses to shack up with their latest squeeze, in return for them putting in a good word for him with the powers that be, personified later in the film by the insidious Personnel Director Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray).

Bud’s payoff, a series of unearned promotions (to the considerable bemusement of his co-workers who can’t quite work out the secret of his overnight success), and a once in a lifetime shot at palming the key to the executive washroom begins to lose its allure, though, as the wannabe big shot is reduced to sleeping in Central Park in the freezing rain while waiting for the assorted lovebirds to clear out of his apartment. Indeed, the scenes of Lemmon loitering around outside of his own home have a melancholy air that underscores Wilder’s inspirational decision to shoot the movie in black and white. His unappetizing lifestyle finally becomes something he can stomach no longer when he discovers that the elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine), a sullen slip of a girl that he’s been secretly carrying a torch for is none other than Sheldrake’s latest plaything.

While The Apartment takes steady aim at corporate capitalism and generally hits the bullseye (all-consuming consumerism, griping alienation etc.), the film is, at heart, a romantic-realist fairy tale; a story of how a grubby schnook (a fool) transforms himself into a mensch (a human being), by sacrificing his career for the girl that he loves. The likeable Lemmon was the perfect choice to humanise the insignificant Insurance Clerk and, importantly, he had the acting chops to blindside audiences who might well have been tempted to sit in moral judgement over him, and the movie itself, but who, ultimately, were happy to buy into the notion that the lead character had stumbled, rather than schemed, his way into a sordid arrangement that had pretty much made him into a pimp.

The film, although receiving nine Oscar nominations, divided the critics with many regarding the movie as “smutty” or “immoral” and there were accusations of misogyny too that have re-surfaced once again in reviews of the revival of Neil Simon’s stage adaptation Promises, Promises (songs by Bacharach and David), currently in its second month at the Southwark Playhouse.

In the lead roles, the sublime Lemmon (has there been a better American actor?) is complemented wonderfully by Shirley MacLaine (underplaying to perfection as the downbeat Fran Kubelik), fashioning a deeply convincing on-screen chemistry, but the couple still lost out on Oscar night to Burt Lancaster and Elizabeth Taylor respectively. The ever-reliable Fred MacMurray, playing against type as the philandering Jeff Sheldrake, sadly didn’t rate so much as a nomination despite turning in a performance that marked him out as a genuine 18 carat bastard. Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s razor-sharp script did win an Oscar for best original screenplay, ensuring that the old trooper made movie history by becoming the first person to win producer, director and screenwriter Oscars for the same film. Cinemagoer’s, too, proved that Wilder’s timing was on the money as the film more than tripled its production costs.

The Apartment has plenty of competition when it comes to being named the best film of all time, not least from a clutch of other classic movies in the Wilder oeuvre. In typical Wilder fashion, the wisecracks keep coming thick and fast, but there is a lot more to recommend this film than its superior collection of running gags (though, admittedly, Doc Dreyfuss’s belief that he is living next door to the world’s biggest party animal is a doozy). In marked contrast to his customary cynicism, and neatly designed to go hand-in-hand with the film’s shrewd social commentary on life in nine-to-five America, Wilder conceived a fragile, though believable love story, albeit one that, on first viewing, barely seems to leave any imprint at all. And yet, with each passing year, the stilted romance between two of cinema’s more shop-soiled sweethearts has burgeoned into something altogether more substantive and enduring.

The Wilderness Lodge

Posted on March 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Villas is an expansive hotel and resort in the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando. Over 15 years of age, the resort debuted on May 28th, 1994. To keep with the Disney tradition, the Imagineers invested an unbelievable amount of time on the motif of the hotel. For the theme of the Wilderness Lodge, the Imagineers chose to evoke the Pacific Northwest.

The primary lobby, and also the rest of the resort, display wilderness and Native American components. Amazingly there is even a replica spring, from which water flows to the amazing pool area. Once you visit the pool area you will find additional replica outdoor features, including a geyser that blasts water up through the sky.

Disney World has a variety of types of accommodation, based on expense. Such levels are called “value,” the most affordable, “moderate” and ultimately “deluxe,” the most expensive. The Lodge is categorized as “deluxe,” although it isn’t as costly as many of its sister Disney “deluxe” hotels. The Wilderness Lodge is a Magic Kingdom hotel, although it isn’t on the Monorail line. Visitors can get to the Magic Kingdom easily by using complimentary water transportation.

Much like the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge offers an array of activities and events and can be though of as a theme park in and of itself. Guests can very easily consume several days participating in the activities the hotel offers without needing to leave the resort premises. The resort presents several dining options spanning the spectrum from quick service counters, to gourmet dining in the amazing restaurant, Artist Point.

Additionally the hotel offers Whispering Canyon Cafe, an establishment with its own unique charm. The waiters are very gregarious and belligerent and participate in many gags, frequently embarrassing the guests. The establishment may be tremendous fun for children who enjoy a rambunctious experience, but may be a tad bit scary for shy kids, or their adults for that matter.

As well as easy transport to the Magic Kingdom, guests can use the water transport to go to Fort Wilderness and Disney’s Contemporary Hotel. These direct boat routes are often extremely beneficial for taking advantage of the eating and many other shops and amenities of these destinations. Each of the given destinations are situated on Bay Lake, an engineered small lake that connects to the Seven Seas Lagoon, on which the Magic Kingdom rests.

The Wilderness Lodge also has a section for members of the Disney Vacation Club, Disney’s timeshare program. Similar to all DVC offerings, the Villas as they’re called offer quite a few of their own comforts offered solely to members of the plan. However, even if you aren’t a member of DVC, you may visit the Villas and inspect the features.

For those considering a Disney vacation, the Wilderness Lodge can offer guests a fairly inexpensive option to stay near the Magic Kingdom. The Magic Kingdom resorts are quite costly and the Wilderness Lodge usually is by far the most reasonably priced. Though guests give up access to the Monorail, they get the many on-site amenities and a very impressive view. For guests who like the Pacific Northwest, they may find themselves feeling that Disney’s Wilderness Lodge offers the ideal deal at any cost.