Friday, September 5, 2003

Two nights in Canberra: Jazz at Hippo, and seeing “28 days later …”

Canberra’s nightlife gets better and better each time I’m back in town. A new tradition among some of my friends seems to be going to live jazz Wednesdays at the Hippo lounge bar upstairs in Garema Place.

Hippo features a lot of that fashionable burnt-red décor, mirrors, small chandeliers and fuzzy wallpaper. It felt a little like the Gin Palace, a little like the Lounge Downstairs in Melbourne. It also had a thoroughly adequate cocktail list. Getting a Toblerone for $10, or $8 before 8pm is almost reason enough in itself to move back to Canberra.

The jazz was good, the audience talkative but polite. The crowd seemed fairly mixed between students and professionals, jazz buffs and people looking for a good night out on a weekday. (Worst fashion statement of the night, though - woman in white shirt and matching white cloth cap. Fashion hats, indoors, at night? Ick.)

It was good to see some old friends, even if one arrived dressed exactly like me (black shoes, blue jeans, red shirt, black leather jacket). But then she and I have had a running joke for some time that we are each one half of the perfect gay man.

Last night was far more typical of my time in Canberra: custom-brewed beer and fried potato products at the Wig & Pen pub and micro-brewery. Good training for drinking from pint glasses in a dark-wood and plaster atmosphere. Afterwards I went with the boys to see “28 days later …”.

The protagonist waking up alone in hospital in an eerily quiet London was reminiscent of “Day of the Triffids”. Otherwise it was a fairly intelligent zombie film, with the “infected” being genuinely scary and grotesque (particularly in their movements and vocal effects), even if the red-eye contact lenses were a bit silly.

However, you could still far too often say: “No you idiot, don’t wander off on your own into a dark abandoned building!” Still, the characterisation was better than in most horror (British understatement is always good), and the film played with sensations of suspense and relief well. Some of the visual effects thrown into the road-trip sequence were pretty random, but the digital video production didn’t irritate me anywhere near as much as “hand held” films like “Blair Witch Project”.

Still, you wouldn’t lose anything by waiting for the DVD.

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