The Great Gatsby

I finally went and saw The Great Gatsby at the pictures last night and I am glad that I did.

First up, was it spectacular cinema?  What Baz Lurhmann film isn’t?

Look at it this way, when you have more special effects crew than cast, and enough to populate a small town, with Baz Lurhmann and the fabulous Catherine Martin at the helm, how can it be anything else?

But what of the story?

If I was irritated by Gatsby’s repetitive fondness for the phrase “old sport,”  bandied about like Kevin Rudd trying out Australianisms to suck up to voters at a barbeque, then at least Buchanan took him to task over his right to its utterance.  Fair suck of the sav, we get that it’s an idiologism of the 1920s, we see that it’s the 1920s, what more do you want?

As Nick Caraway says of Daisy and Tom Buchanan at the end, “They were careless people.”  Did I care about these characters?

Daisy had a heart, for sure, and Nick too.  It took me a while to warm to Jay Gatsby, and it wasn’t really until he revealed his love for lost love Daisy, and thus began unravelling in his pursuit of her, that I cared indeed for Gatsby himself.  By the end, who did I care most for?  Nick, and Gatsby himself.  I’m interested in anybody who chases and does all he or she can for love.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1343092/

 

Will I watch The Great Gatsby again?  Thinking about it.

Does seeing this latest cinematic reinterpretation make me want to read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original novel?

Definitely.

 

 

 

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Sunshine and All that Stuff

Sunshine and all that stuff.

You know, I think I am going to make this a category all of its special own.

Currently I am sitting in my cold bedroom, instead of the warm, sun-filled lounge room.  And eating cold rolled oats and linseeds.

Argh, it’s been a little chilly in Sydney of late.  Of late what?  Library books.  Oh don’t get me started, I’ll go nuts-a-loo writing all sorts of stream-of-consciousness and metaphor-raising floosziebiloolio stuff.  And making up words.

This is the sunshine blog.

This morning I stood in front of my kitchen window, like Rapunzel at her garret – er, tower bedroom, waiting for that slack-arsed prince to stop fucking his horse and rescue her.  What is it with princes on horseback?  Can’t they walk?  Geez.  Poor bloody horses.  A lardy-arsed prince AND a suit of armour, not to mention saddle and a belly full of primeval mediaeval oats.

Back to sunshine.  So, standing in front of my window, thinking about a telephone call I had to make about an opportunity that I believe is there, and slightly psyching myself up, and embracing the sun, curiously enough, at the base of my belly.  Exactly where a girl needs it when she wants to achieve something professionally.

A good blast of sun right in the base chakra, but around the front, because who the hell would turn their back on all that beautiful sunshine?

I’m going to deliberately finish – in the middle – by saying that the only reason Rapunzel knew her prince was coming is because she was facing OUT the window, sunshine of my miiiiind (some sixties pop song in my head I think, and if not, must be the seventies, must look up all sunshine songs).

Tricked you.  I didn’t finish in the middle.  See what happens when one edits oneself before the outpouring of minor creativity has concluded its merry swish through ones mind, behind the beads, the eyes, the Rapunzellian eyes of the soul?

So I was grateful for that sunshine.  And thanked the Sun.  And my ancestors.  And I felt good, and mission simplified, the right message coming through to me, as to WHY I should share in that opportunity.  Then I thought about lots of other stuff which was highly distracting, irrelevant, and slightly negative but constructively negative.  Then I got back into the sunshine state of mind.  No, not Queensland.  It’s not always about Queensland you know.

But you know, I already knew last night – or the wee whoooours of this morning – what my method for tackling the opportunity mission would be, et-sunny=-cetera.

I love the sun.  And right now, I am going to finish my rolled oats, and get ready for work.  Between the train and I is about three quarters of a kilometre of sunshine.  I shall embrace it through my sleeves, my stockings, my sunshiny spirit.

Love and Blessings (Sunny Blessings) to you, Sunshine, dear Sunshine.xxx

 

c. A Room of Heroine 2011.

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Kanye Bugger off West and Never Come Back?

To be honest, despite being a feminist, I don’t tend to read many feminist blogs, and I think that Naomi Wolf needs to take a ride in the real world.

But this post by Melinda Tankard Reist in The Punch got my goat this morning.  And it’s not hard to see what got hers.    Kanye West presenting sexually objectifying, degrading and torturous depictions of women in his latest video clip, Monster: http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/counterpunch-women-arent-playthings-slaves-and-bitches/.

If she hasn’t already, I think Naomi Wolf will shit herself with feminist delight when she sees West’s clip: something to really get her critical teeth into.  And why not?

Frankly, I am so repulsed by the image, first, of a woman hanging dead in front of Kanye West seated on a throne, that I don’t want to watch the video clip.   I can’t stand graphic horror.  Maybe I should**, if I am to comment with the ‘authority’ of anything beyond secondhand information and the ensuing Reist blog post debate amongst her readers, some of whom mention the satirical perspective which West takes in his narrative.  Maybe I should, to discern for myself whether the video clip and lyrics really are a satirical commentary upon shallow women who use their wiles to garner the attention of rich men, such as West, and prostitute themselves for the connections with benefits.

However, if I wish to read about shallow women, I can stick my nose inside WHO Magazine any day of the week, or watch Keeping Up With the Kakas.

There is nothing wrong with West using satire to critique and challenge women who sell out such traditional values as not giving head jobs to music industry power knobs, and spilling their milkshake around the yard on missions of self-aggrandisement. If that was his intention.  But when he catches up with the women in his family, and they ask,  ‘What have you been working on lately?’ what is he going to say?  What is he going to say to every woman and girl whom he loves and respects, about a video clip which muddies a purportedly satirical message about women and self-respect, against visual footage of not only overt female sexual objectification, but women being tortured and decapitated?

Some might say that the joke is on the viewer.  Here is West using the merest smearing of ironic critique to get away with sexually and brutally objectifying women for his pleasure in a video clip.  One which could be seen by every woman and girl whom he loves and respects… as well as all of those whom he doesn’t.

Satis, I say.  Enough satire from you, West.   Perhaps in your next video clip, you  could even up the score by filming yourself  wearing lots of gold chains with money symbols, and having a wank in front of a mirror.  Or consider the recent rape  and beating of 60 Minutes journalist Lara Logan in Egypt’s Tahir Square, the online report of which brought tears to my eyes this morning, right before I read about a very muddy message about women, men, and self-respect.

**17/02/2011   Edited to Say:  Today I bit the bullet and watched the Monster. It did indeed ”cross tha line” (West). 

 

c. A Room of Heroine 2011.

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She moves in mysterious ways…

She moves in mysterious ways.

Best Blogs in Goddess Worship

Thank you.

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Femme/Feminine Essentials – An Abbreviated Lissssssst

Femme/Feminine Essentials:  what exactly are they?  And why do they matter?

I first heard of  ”feminine essentials” from a work colleague some years ago.  This terminology was a world away from ”women’s things,” the shy termininology I muttered at the blushing age of fifteen on a rural towns high school orchestra tour, to the elderly male bus driver who demanded to know my reason for wanting to get back onto the locked bus when everyone else was inside the hall tuning up.  Despite having a friend with me, I couldn’t bear to state the bleedin’ obvious.

Now I see that the term ‘feminine essentials’ has a broader application. 

As a member of the Femerati, with a doubtless biased opine-yon, I have decided to set sail (without help from real sailors) upon a M.O.G.I. (no, not a cat, rather a Mission of Great Importance) which explores the feminine-gendered kind.  Obviously it’s of some small concern that the ‘femme’ reference may go down a G.G.R. (Grossly Girly Route), so I’ve boiled it down:

To Discover: What Are the Top 100 Feminine Essentials?  And why.

Rules, Disclaimers, and Other Procrastivatory[sic] Bollux: the following is not an experiment in E.S. (Exact Science).  Probably because I don’t possess a white coat.  True, it has an objective (reverting to high school biology here, rather than the more dramatic GOAL which has been seconded by motivational types), and something of Methodology,  and it is possible that a conclusion or set of conclusions may be drawn from Evemadence[sic]… ooh, just notice a girly inscrimination[sic] there.

I invite you to think outside social stereotypes.  So please avoid the following, unless you can offer a particularly feminist reading upon your selection:

  1. Shopping
  2. Cosmetic surgery (for purely vain concerns of perfectly fine-looking persons)
  3. Other socio-gendered crap

This experiment is not for the fainthearted, the lazy, or the J.I.I.T.R.T.R.G.B. (Just in It To Read The Good Bits).  Au contraire, I offer you, the reader, the marvellous opportunity to contribute your own wild and fabulous examples of evidence which I will publish after a very long time into the future. 

And when the list of Feminine Essentials Reaches 100.

Thus, to begin with, a suggestion of my own, which one hopes you shall find charming and entrancing.

FEMMESENTIALS  – An Abbreviated Lisssssst

1. Firm Foundation Garments: what a Berlei-ooody load of gender-political bollocks.  Did Boadicea wear a brassiere?  Whilst cooking upon a brazier?  In brazen times of old…

The greatest women in history were very often triumphant with the firm foundations of strength of character, bbbbraaaaains, and spunk.  That’s Australian for good looking, and for guts.  Boadicea had better things to do than hitch her herself into an iron cage before hoisting herself upon her trusty steed.  Did Boadicea’s horse wear a bra?  No. And I’m sure that Napoleon’s didn’t bother either.

What say you are feminine essentials?  And why?

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Leave Nigella Lawson Alone!

I usually don’t mind reading Sarah Le Marquand’s columns in the Snaily Telegraph.  She usually writes with intelligence and some decency.

But today she takes the cake with her patronising and pompous faux-feminist attitude to the way Nigella Lawson has chosen thus far to deal with the very public breakdown of her marriage to Charles Saatchi, the man who assaulted her recently at a restaurant.

Le Marquand demands of Nigella:

But she cannot stay quiet forever. Having found herself in the centre of a highly publicised matter, she owes it to herself – and to the countless women in similar situations now watching her closely – to speak up and denounce violence and bullying.

Daily Telegraph 11/07/2013

There is no singular perfect human response to trauma. 

Le Marquand’s smug,  insensitive,  patronising, and ignorant suggestion that Nigella get a wriggle on denouncing Saatchi publicly, and become the posh anti-domestic violence poster girl before she turns into a 50-something Rihanna, chooses underhanded and passive aggressive feminism at close to its worst. 

At no point in her article does Le Farquwittand[sic] open her heart to the possibility that Nigella’s refusal (thus far) to publicly denounce Saatchi or to make any comment about intimate partner violence in general, is anything beyond the mark of a very public figurehead maintaining the clichéd stiff upper lip in the face of public humiliation.

As one who was many years ago on the inside of a relationship marked literally by domestic violence, the last thing a person in Nigella and her family’s (yes, Le F. you didn’t think about the rest of the family did you?) situation need is judgmental outsiders casting cut-throat black and white aspersions their way during a shitty time of transition.

Le Marquand’s eager article reads as black and white about one thing:  Charles Saatchi is not the only pig at the fair.

This is a time less for heartlessness, than healing, and kindness.

c. Aroomofheroine 2013.

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Hollywood Movie Data Machine Puts Bums On Seat

It had to happen.  Somebody who loves numbers invents a machine that can calculate exactly what ingredients determine a film’s success at the box office.

Hollywood executives secretly love this, because they can use it to make more money.

Screenwriters are not so keen, because they have been making replica  calculations on the backs of envelopes for years.  They have made trigonometry and other fancy maths words out of equations such as Tools to Sell Out With – I mean, Commerce: Art, and Commercial Paradigms: Indie Tropes.  NB.  It is always good to use words such as ‘paradigms’ and ‘tropes’ to stop words such as ‘story’ and phrases such as ‘a bloody good story’ getting in the way of sounding fancy pants/like a cinematic fancy pants (CFP).

Hm, what role does imaginative storytelling play?  Will writers have to wear aluminium foil around their heads to stop the Hollywood statistics machine messing with their imaginations?

I reckon there might be a few home truths in the statistics garnered by this wizz-bang new service, that writers, such as myself, should cop sweet.  Such as:  successful action films always have action scenes in them and/Bruce Willis.  Or, the older Bruce Willis gets, the more likely he is to take the piss out of his earlier action roles, which is endearing on the one hand, but raises questions about how fast he can run away from baddies on the other.  I refer particularly to Die Hard 96 which is due on cinema screens in thirty years time  (but don’t hold me to that being true or not because I just made it up).  Bruce will probably be close to 96 himself by then.

Lolly Bag Gift for Writer:  always include a dramatic action sequence in your action film, and if you can’t get that, write Bruce Willis taking the mickey out of his youthful action star persona.  He loves that kind of shit*.  Especially if you make him some young hottie’s dad and he gets to show him up in a wild action scene, such as in Die Hardest.

Never Mind Hollywood, What About the Real Down and Dirty statistics?

Speaking of Bruce, I have had a few thoughts.  Instead of writing my screenplay in which Bruce Willis gets to play a flute in a highly emotionally-charged but totally pointless scene that leads the story nowhere, and is thus illustrative fluff (hm, or maybe his character is playing the flute in the desert and when the sun shines off his silver flute, he is blinded, and this makes him go dizzy, and when he wakes up, he is confronted by wolves who threaten to turn him into wolf breakfast unless he plays Xmas carols), but will cut down on the musical composition budget because that’s one less musician to hire – I have just come back from a top secret investigation and discovered some surprising statistics that screenwriters should be aware of before they next put finger to keyboard or quill.

  1. Films about shy young men who turn into spiders always put loads of bums on seats and make bucket loads of moolah.
  2. The brand and quality of coffee on set is directly proportional to the proportion of cranky actors who carry on like plucked-arse parrots, get shickered in pubs on location, and end up on the front pages of trash mags just before their latest film premieres.
  3. Tom Cruise + any film about aeroplanes = always a safe bet.  Ditto for Tom Cruise rescuing maidens and them falling in love with him.
  4. If you write a film where Meryl Streep plays a paper sandwich bag in a hair shirt in the the pitch black of night where you cannot see her performing, this role is over 90% likely to result in a Best Actress Oscar nomination. And 0.003% likely to end in an actual win.  Still, you will have Meryl Streep in your film, and that, in my book, is heaps better than all the Oscars in China.
  5. Kids love films about animals, and films about kids saving the world from stupid adults.  Thus kids are 100% likely to pester their parents to spend silly amounts of money on taking them to the pictures to see these films, or annoy the crappola out of them until they buy the DVD.  So you should probably write one.
  6. French films are 99% likely to have French-speaking characters and 96.2% likely to look classy and glamorous, even in a working class setting.  Even if they talk pointless or banal crap in a scene, the subtitles always make French characters’ dialogue sound impressive and meaningful.  So if your dialogue is a shocker, just write it in French.
  7. American films often have shit character names, and kid characters with boring old man names.  I’m looking at you, Home Alone.
  8. Horror films are 100% horrible.
  9. Angelina Jolie is 100% unlikely to break into a sweat even if she has run for what looks like kilometres across a freeway.   See Salt if you don’t believe me.
  10. Australian actors are like ants:  everywhere and into everything.   Sometimes you can’t even tell that they are Australian.  Statistically they are 95% more likely to do a good Yank accent than the other way around.
  11. Quentin Tarantino is 99% likely to have never made a rom-com or a kids’ film.  
  12. Successful rom-coms ALWAYS have kissing in them.
  13. Films about Xmas always have a Xmas tree in them.
  14. Films about nuns are either miserable or romantic.  If they have songs in them they are 100% successful at the box office, and they won’t reach reach their peak again for close to sixty years.
  15. 100% of films set in space have aliens in them.

*Pure conjecture.

 

c. Kylie Lawrence 2013.

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A Leaf of Unexpected Abundance

A Leaf of Unexpected Abundance.

Posted in lovely, Sunshine and All That Stuff | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Loneliest Planet

What is the loneliest planet? 

This is a question which played by chance after watching writer/director Julia Loktev’s latest feature film, visually stunning The Loneliest Planet.

Adapted from a short story by journalist and travel writer, Tom Bissell, Loktev draws out the tale almost in real-time of Nica and Alex, a young couple passionately in love with each other and on the brink of marriage.  Too soon, but not soon enough for the audience, they find themselves on the brink of betrayal, wrought by a single shocking event, which shatters everything they think they know about each other, and about themselves.

Nica, played by Hani Furstenberg a talented Israeli-American actor who could give Jessica Chastain a run for her money – partly ’cause she’s a ranga – and Alex, played by Gabriel Garcia Bernal, (The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) and Babel (2006)) are fit, seasoned backpackers, seeking experiences off the beaten track in rural Georgia, Russia.  I say seasoned, unlike their clothes, which never seem to get dirty or torn, no matter how many rocks they clamber over or grassy mountains they roll down.  But hey, John Wayne’s shining new trousers and red shirt at the start of The Searchers (1956) never truly belied the adventures of a U.S. Confederate soldier who has ridden rough for three years before arriving home to his family out in the Texas desert.

Alex and Nica’s Georgian local mountaineering guide, played by Bidzina Gujabidze, is at first a subtly shy though friendly older character, in counterpoint to the garrulous Nica, but as Nica discovers, behind the scarred exterior Dato is a thoughtful man hiding a tenderly complex story of loneliness which proves an elixir in the resolution.  Gujabidize, an accomplished mountaineer, rather than actor, offers an authentic, nuanced performance in his feature film début.

We are easily drawn into the minutiae of life on a trek in a foreign country:  a tourist’s eye-view of magnificent, rugged countryside, which both invigorates and blisters the traveller’s spirit and feet, from shattering rock-strewn hillside, to washing in flat waterways, and laughing over cheeky language games.  There are some unsettling moments for Nica and Alex: perhaps this land is not so friendly, but Dato ushers them through with care.  These hints of danger tease the viewer into thinking that they are watching a thriller.  The rising tedium  – I wanted to yank a chunk out of the story – leading to the crisis moment in Alex and Nica’s journey, contrasts with the slow-moving but rising tension in the climax scene, during which an inevitable careless betrayal elicits the aforementioned elixir.   Delaying the drama is an intriguing choice, but as a measure of character development, it works well.

After watching this film, I find the loneliest planet is not the isolated wilds of remote Georgia‘s Caucasus Mountains, but the human heart.

No bull:   If you love backpacking, or storytelling that gives you time to smell the roses, then it is worth a look. 

Newly released in Australian cinemas, The Loneliest Planet is clever, simple character-based storytelling.   Slow in parts, it is ultimately evocative, and provocative.

To watch The Loneliest Planet preview:

c. Kylie Lawrence 2013.

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SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED… But Laughs Are

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED… But Laughs Are.

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SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED… But Laughs Are

It’s a quirky title, but the storytelling team behind this endearing off-beat comedy,  Safety Not Guaranteed, take us on a ride into imaginative territory.

Determined to get the story behind a crazy time-traveller-companion-wanted advertisement, the misfit trio of sleazy Gen X magazine journalist, Jeff (Jake Johnson of A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)) and young interns, the depressed Darius (comedian Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation (TV) fame) and geeky innocent Arnaud (Karan Soni, Are You There, Chelsea? (2012), set out on an increasingly bizarre  trip into the perilous world of time traveller Kenneth.

Character-driven comedy with a twist I won’t spoil, the stand-out performance for me is Mark Duplass’s child-man Kenneth, a man for whom moving on is just too hard, and revisiting the past seems the only way to make sense of the present:  a theme that true romantics will appreciate.  Time travel is dangerous stuff, as Kenneth’s self-made action hero explains to Darius, but it can change your life.

A touch of over-plotting in the latter part of the second act slows the pace slightly, but overall I cannot fault writer Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow’s hilarious, heart-warming comedy for engaging storytelling.

No Bull:  Get your backside on a cinema seat now.

The only person laughing more than me was a mysterious stranger in the front row.

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED preview (I refuse to say trailer):


c.  A Room of Heroine 2012

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