Tuesday Timeshift #15: District 9

district9_3Can’t be bothered reading an entire review? Check out my Haiku Film Review. Otherwise keep reading!

If you’ve somehow managed to miss all the advertising, the internet chatter, the general hype-i-ness that is District 9 let me take you back.

A couple of years ago, South African ad director Neill Blomkamp made a little short film called Alive in Joburg.  It traversed the globe quickly, thanks to that handy little distribution channel you and I know as YouTube, because it was clearly high quality (and had a decent budget) but mostly because it’s an intriguing idea.

How would we treat refugee aliens marooned on our planet?  According to Neill, not all that nicely.

Peter Jackson – yes, that Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) – thought that might make for an interesting feature film.  Ch-ching!  It sure does.

Uber-real, tense, graphic, sad, interesting… how many more adjectives can I use?  Just be glad I haven’t started in on the superlatives yet.  It’s a film that defies it’s sci-fi label because the fact that they are aliens is somewhat irrelevant.  It could be any disenfranchised refugee group.  Setting the movie in Johannesburg, while natural due to the films origins, is poignant because it is a city which today still struggles with significant race issues.

It’s got the requisite extremely effective CGI and the appropriately chest thumping explosions, don’t get me wrong.  But just don’t write District 9 off as a sci-fi movie or a boy movie or whatever cliche’s you want to to apply.  It will surprise and entertain but it also has a very serious point.  Not just on the grand scale of mass refugees but it can be boiled down to more local, more immediate circumstances.  When you treat those weak than you like animals or criminals they may well rise to meet your expectations.  This is a lesson that we’ve seen time and again in our refugee detention centres that we don’t seem to really learn.

Or you can ignore all that and just see an entertaining film.  Either way, go see it!

Opens everywhere this Thursday.

Is Gael the hottest of the latinos?

Matt has been away for 6 days now.  The house is so quiet.  I haven’t really had a spare millisecond all week so haven’t had a chance to miss him yet.  Technology goes a long way I guess.  With the wonders of skype and SMS we’re still offering up to each other that running narration of our day…

Sometimes I wonder though. If we’re constantly getting real time updates of what’s happening, what are we supposed to talk about when he gets back? And, are we giving each other the opportunity to be missed?  Then I wonder, am I over-analysing this and who really gives a shit?

Supposed to be going to see Rudo Y Cursi tonight – a movie starring Gael Garcia Bernal.  And who doesn’t want to see a movie with he of the hotness, latino style?

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But I’ve already seen one film in the past few weeks where Gael was sufficiently hot (Limits of Control by Jim Jarmusch – snooze fest).  Besides, another movie about 2 poor blokes trying to make a living playing soccer (although, at least these ones will be hot – as opposed to those buddhist chaps in The Cup – and men – as opposed to say Bend it Like Beckham).  Bah!  I think I’d rather stay at home, alone and do nothing. Maybe I can visit Gael in my head without bothering about the film (*snigger*)?  Perhaps give myself a little time to remember to miss my husband.

I wonder if mum is doing the same?  Matt and Dad are skiing together – it’s “man week” at the Burgess family ski lodge at Perisher.  So I’m not the only one home alone.
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I had lunch with mum on Sunday, seeing as we both had all this free time on our hands, and she told me that they have been somewhat at loggerheads of late.  Marriage counselling etc.  It’s funny how even as a grown adult, with a marriage of my own (of more than 5 minutes), it still gives me a little ugghh in the guts to hear my mum talk about that stuff.  I KNOW that marriage is up and down and all over the place. I KNOW that sometimes you really drive each other nuts. But they’re my parents.  Don’t think I’ll ever stop being their kid.  Don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling a bit sick when they are having a hard time.

Perhaps over the years, the source has shifted though.  You see, I’m too much like my mum and Matt is somewhat like my dad.  I suspect there’s a little bit of fear that if they can’t work it out, then we won’t either.  I know we’re not the same people and we make our own choices etc but still.  Besides, noone is even suggesting they won’t work it out. That’s just my gurgling guts.  Nobody ever said fear is rational!

Tuesday Timeshift #11: Winged Creatures

Winged Creatures is an ensemble film by Australian director Rowan Woods (Little Fish, The Boys) that charts the interaction between a group of strangers in the aftermath of a shooting in an LA diner. It’s a film that initially threw me, till I saw the light brothers and sisters!

As we headed home afterwards, my movie-going compatriot asked me what I thought and I gave it a giant “meh”. That got us talking quick smart because he thought it was fabulous. Some of the characters (not all, to be fair) seems like such archetypes – the trailer trash waitress who’s a single mum and tries to shag everything in sight (Kate Beckinsale), the working class middle-aged man who feels a failure (Forest Whitacker) and the doctor who poisons his wife for no good reason (Guy Pearce) just made no sense to me. Nor did the creepy kid (Dakota Fanning).

Then my wise and wizened friend said something that stopped me in my tracks. The lights came on and suddenly, there was someone at home. To mix a metaphor or two. My perceptions as to what the characters were doing was so completely wrong. As a person who sees MANY films, I sat down in that comfy chair with my tank of popcorn and watery cola… and a bucket-load of preconceptions about what certain archetypes do and say and why they do and say these things. In doing so, I missed the subtlety… the gentle picking away at the scab of these supposed cliches and seeing the truth underneath.

With blinkers off, I can say I too am a convert. Winged Creatures is so layered and delicate. Nothing is dropped up in your lap ready for you to swallow down whole. It’s thoughtful and interesting and requires the viewer to set aside their own prejudices and see the individuals within. In hindsight, a marvellous film!

Oh, yeah. It looks real purdy too.

Jaybee Street

Happy 30th Birthday Jay!

Just a little clip we put together to celebrate Jannah’s 30th Birthday. Jannah is definitely a big kid, so what better way to do it than by taking a trip to Jaybee Street?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Jaybee Street on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

Alex. A Life. In Love.

a little movie i made for my sister to make her laugh when she was feeling homesick.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Alex. A life. In love. on Yahoo! Video“, posted with vodpod

Tuesday Timeshoft #10: Synecdoche NY

Ok first things first.  On route to said film, I spent 15 confusing and brain-confuzzling minutes looking up (a) how to pronounce it and (b) what it means.  Si-neck-dock-ee.  Sounds like Schnecktedy.  If that means anything to you.  And as to (b), well ok… it’s when you substitute a part of the thing to mean the whole of the thing eg saying 20 head instead of 20 cows or 10 souls instead of 10 people.  Alternately it’s when you substitute the thing with the material the thing is made of, for example saying “treading the boards” instead of “on stage”.  Like you cared!

Suffice to say, the name is as elaborate as the film.  It’s classic Charlie Kaufman, this time in his first directorial effort.  Surrealism abounds.  An unexplained burning home, a man who lives beneath the stairs, a fractured and re-spliced timeline, a play within a play within a movie, and a fake city built within a giant rotting glass factory.  

Phillip Seymour Hoffman is Caden Cotard, a mediocre director at a suburban (Schenctady) theatre rehashing classic plays.  His marriage, work and life in general are all faltering when he receives a large grant and begins putting together a play about real life.  Literally.  Caden’s actual life.  The problem with this concept being that it never ends.  The story continues to evolve, the tentacles keep expanding further and further and rehearsals never come to an end.  For around 40 years.  

I call it navel-gazing film-making or art as therapy.  I don’t mean to sound like I didn’t love the film – I really did. It is flawed however.  I kept sort of expecting Caden to “wake up and it was all a dream”. I also struggle with the assumption that there can only be one soulmate and everything else is destined for failure.  Those concerns aside, I enjoyed the process of seeing this film.  The more I think about it, that is.  And think about it… well, I can’t stop.  And I like that in a film, from time to time!  Although, it’s probably best not to see this film if you’re a feeling a little depressed or sad about your life because frankly, Synecdoche is NOT going to help!  For me, this film touched quite a few chords so I was able to connect to it quite well.   

Synecdoche is about expectation and apathy.  Fear.  Love. Disappointment. Parents and parenthood.  All the really big scary things in life.   It does get a little bogged down in all that.  Like I said, it’s not a perfect film but it is an interesting one, if only to get an insight into Kaufman’s tortured mind. We saw flashes of it in the much-lauded Adaptation but with Synecdoche, we leap blindly into the rabbit hole.

District 9 Alive in Joburg

Have a watch of the FABULOUS (I can’t rave enough) short film Alive in Joburg.
It’s been made into a feature film – awesome!

Love this idea – it’s like a reverse alien film where we are the destroyers not the aliens. Great idea! Love it!  Can’t wait to see it.