Sunday, January 25, 2004

We Live a Lie

Sometimes I ask people I know if they purchased a music CD in the lastfew months. They usually say yes. Then I ask if they consider themselvesto be essentially good, kind people. The answer is usually yes. Then Iask if they know that the money they spent on a CD could have been spentsaving the life of one of the 19,000 people who die EVERY DAY from malnutrition? The answer is usually silence or a sheepish no.

I've always considered humans to be greedy, shelfish and cruel. Peoplewill of deny this of course.. but how can they, when most people knowthat the money they spend on ice cream can be used to save a life of achild? "oh but the money is all lost in administration costs" they almost always say.. isn't even 10% of the money getting to it's intendedgoal better than nothing? Isn't even one life being saved worth it?

Anyways, I just saw some frightning figures from the World WatchState of the World 2004 summary. The annual spending on luxary items world widewould be more than adequate to provide food & water, sanitation, basic mediation and educationto the entire world.

Ignorance of the situation is one thing (though not an excuse). But peoplewho know the reality and pretend they care just piss me off. Admit that youdon't care, or do something about it, but just don't live a lie.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Film Directors

I recently ran across this article in The Guardian about "the best directors in the world". I automatically flinch whenpeople throw about the words "the best.. taking a closer look at the top however, I noticed that myfaviourite director had topped the list. Yup, none other than David Lynch.

It's a pretty unusual day when I agree with anyone else on things like this, but maybe these critics(it was The Guardian's critics who chose the 40) had something right.. or maybe Lynch is so far aheadthat there really wasn't a choice. Either way, I certainly agree that Lynch ha both redefined and invigoratedfilm as an artistic medium. In days of 5 second attention spans and 0.5 second jump-cuts it's nice to havesomething with substance (see my rant on Idol below).

Going back to the list, there were a couple of people left out that I thought should be there.. PeterJackson for one. I think that The Lord of the Rings trilogy will stand the test of time and become one ofthe milestones of cinema. Also, one of my favourite directors, Peter Greenaway didn't get a mention, though he might be a bit too quirky for this list. If so, what happenedto Tim Burton?

Anyways, quite a few of my faviourite directors made it onto the list: David Fincher, Lars von Trier, Michael Moore, Spike Jonez, Alexander Payne, Tarantino, David Cronenberg, Terrence Malik, Martin Scorsese and of course David Lynch. There are quite a few international directors, from Iran, Japan, Taiwan etc. Interesting list.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

A Life Less Ordinary

I was flipping through the channels on TV late last night when I same across ascene with Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz. It seemed to be some hostage scene, soI thought "what the hell" and decided to watch it.

Much to my surprise, this movie I've heard of but knew nothing about was rightdown my alley. I'm a pretty big fan of McGregor and the Trainspottingalumni Boyle and Hodge, so I'm not sure why I didn't bother with the film. Maybebecause it was billed as a "romantic comedy"?

If A Life Less Ordinary isa romatic comedy, then it's my kind of romantic comedy. It's exciting, funny (coz usually romcoms aren't), sweet and has just the right kind of insanity toappeal to me.

Having a look around the net, it seems to have got quite a critical thrashing.Except for my favourite critic Stephanie Zacharek (just see the Buffy stuff she wrotefor Salon and NY Times).She seems to haveseen it pretty much the same as me. Well, except for the bit where she comparesit to the French New Wave.. coz I don't know jack about that.. She says :

"A Life Less Ordinary" is a quintessentially American romance -- a movie with lots of action, gunplay, general mayhem and plenty of wide-open spaces, but also with an intimacy between its two central characters (a boy and a girl, naturally) that seems to infuse, like perfume, the very air they breathe. These are lovers who are willing to take a bullet for each other: You can't get much harder than that.

I think people are looking for something that's a bit more Meg Ryan territory, whenthey should be looking more to Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting. Either way, this wasa fun little movie.

Monday, January 5, 2004

Australian Idol

I've been holding back on this for a while, mostly because I seemed to bethe only one who isn't insanely caught up in this soap opera. Until I read an article in The Drum Media by Steve Anderson. I quote:

The amateur talent contest that was Australian Idol is sad proof that the not too discerning public will watch and listen to whatever they are dished up. To sell it to the masses simply requiers saturation exposure. It's no accident that the advertising budgets of Hollywood blockbustersare triple that of the production costs.

I hope the nice young man Guy Sebastian enjoys his few seconds in the sun. And as a devout Christian, I wonder whether he's come across the worshipping false idols part in The Bible? Maybe the suits at BMG would read it to him before he's strung out holding up convenience stores in about three years time. Camels and the eyes of the needle Guy. Get back to Church!

So why am I so against all this? Is it the mind numbing stupidity of it? No, people are free to watch what they want. Is it the fact that the audience are so painfully unaware of the puppet master's hand being stuck up their collective arses? Nope, since J. W. Howard got re-elected I'm not in the least surprised by the inability of the Australian public to know when they are being manipulated. The real reason I'm pissed offis because we're entering an age where we will have no cultural icons.

All these so called pop stars and idols and whatever are simply a passing fad. Marketed to the extreme, they burn brightly and quick. Does anyone seriously think that anyone will remember who Guy Sebastian is in 50 years time? Or Brittany Spears or what Aguilera person?

Where are the Elvis Presley's of this age? We have no Bob Dylan, no Rolling Stones and certainly no Beatles. Nothing to give to future generations as a real icon of popular culture of these times. The closest I can think of is Nirvana, and that is more for the Hendrix-like loss of Kobain, rather than for the musical revolution they pushed to the masses.

Real culture has been replaced by soulless, irrelevant marketing. Art has been reduced to it's lowest common denominator to be as digestable and as inoffensive to an audience of 7-35. Worst of all, people lap this up as if it was an endless supply of ambrosia. People have been reduced to mindless drones marching to the tune of the corporate Piper.

Once, we were citizens. Empowered by the values of Democracy to control our nation and our lives.

Then we were consumers. Empowered by the capitalist system to decide which corporations we would give our money to.

And now, we are pawns. Manipulated by the media into doing as they want, fooled into thinking that we actually have a choice. It is the worst prison of all - the one where the inmates do not know that they are prisoners.

Saturday, January 3, 2004

The Return of the King

Well, what can I say? This was simply the most exhilarating, amazing, magicalthing I've ever seen on film. Peter Jackson is King.

Being a long time Rings fan I had pretty high expectations of this movie (speciallyafter seeing the previous ones), but all my expectations were met. Well, maybe notALL, as that crucial bit about freeing The Shire was left out (for understandable reasons - see below).

The battles were amazing. The Rohirrim charging into the hordes of Mordor. Thecharge of the Oliphants. The amazing siege engines. The undead army. It was all therein brilliant detail. The characterisation and acting was great. Specially the Frodo / Gollum / Sam triangle. Aragorn was brilliant, As was Gandalf and Eowyn.

The other thing that I was amazed by was the sets, and how seamlessly the CGI andreal sets merged. Minas Tirith has to be the most amazingly detailed, beautifulCGI creation ever.

The only drawbacks I have heard from others is that it was too long and that theend dragged on a bit. Of course, I would have been more than happy to stay inMiddle Earth for a few more hours, but I understand their issue. Jackson must havebeen hard pressed to stay true to the books and to wrap up the film in a reasonabletime frame. He obviously had to leave out some bits (the Hobbits freeing the Shire)but I think what he left in was pretty good. The story definately needed closurein the form of Sam's family, and the Elves and Ring Bearers sailing away to thewest.

I fully expect to see Aragorn healing Merry and Eowyn, as well as the Hobitsfighting for the Shire in the special extended edition DVD. Even if it takesfive hours.

Needless to say, I'll be watching The Return of the King again.

Friday, January 2, 2004

New Year

So another year begins. The last one seemed to have just whizzed past. It's hard to imagine that the 2nd Iraq war started in March, which seems like yesterday. On the other hand, it seems like I started on mycapstone ages ago.. the mind plays tricks, I tells ya.

Had a reasonably quiet NYE, met up with a bunch of mates at Chunga's uncle's apartment in Gladesville. Sweet place. Listened to a lot of Chunga's retro music, tried to watch World Idol (and failed, thanks God!) and saw the fireworks.

Pictures of the fireworks are here.Some of the photos came out ok, but I need to get better at using the manualshutter settings coz some of the pictures are exposed for too long.

So, anyways.. another year starts. I find it hard to get all excited aboutit. It's all more of the same. The only thing I have to look forward to thisyear is the much anticipated Europe Trip of '04. And graduation, I guess.