today was actually kinda fun. coming off not enough sleep (i.e. not wanting to get out of bed when he messaged me in the morning), i arranged to meet ryan and a few others from the yellowcard camp to go to the footy. i was kinda embarrassed that i was more tired than they were, having come off a twelve hour flight and all, but it didn’t matter. afterwards we wandered around the city for a while before deciding to get some dinner. i enjoyed myself, and we all had a pretty good chat and a few laughs before i left to go see rescue dawn at the regent with alice.

rescue-dawn.jpg

to be honest, i’m not sure what i thought of this. i mean, it was good. to be sure. but i hadn’t seen any werner herzog before, and while i had no idea what it would be like, i expected to be blown away somehow.

parts of it reminded me too much of apocalypse now, while other parts i had seen in the deer hunter. however, the poster does not lie: christian bale is amazing. his perfomance in this movie is phenomenal; his face is at times both brave yet scared, hopeful yet uncertain, cheeky yet serious. the landscape is not glorified or romanticised; rather, it is unforgiving and essentially uninhabitable. the film is a study of individual strength and resolve, thankfully shunning any and all patriotism or meditation on war until the bizarre final scenes. but in hindsight, i think they are meant to be campy and ridiculous; dieter is given a hero’s welcome when we, as viewers, know it to be entirely inappropriate. maybe it is actually meant to be little more than a thinly-veiled attack on the hollywood treatment of american involvement in its various wars; at one stage, bale’s character tries to deny being american because he thinks it would make his captors go easy on him.

overall, though, it was definitely a good film and definitely one worth seeing. while not an outright exhilarating adventure, it is surprisingly delicate and human. herzog is clearly a master of his craft, bale is the perfect choice and steve zahn as duane almost deserves an oscar nomination for best supporting actor. anyway, i should probably see the original documentary before i say too much and put my foot in it. if anybody else has any thoughts on this movie, i would love to hear them.

i need to get to bed if i’m going to recover for tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. being unemployed sucks, but so does not wanting to look for a new job. i’ve been buying books again, some harmless over-compensation for certain kinds of withdrawal i’ve been having, and i actually finished watching serial experiments lain, so i guess there’s some progress being made.

life on the screen

July 28, 2007

you people just don’t know how excited i am by this. but anyway, another hurried update, this one with arguably even less content than the last.

well the film festival is finally underway. so far i’ve only seen three films, but that will all change. and, as promised, here is the (still incomplete) list of stuff that i wanna see over the next two weeks:

  • sicko
  • lost in beijing
  • bug
  • the mourning forest
  • rescue dawn
  • severance
  • interview
  • a few days in september
  • hana
  • distance
  • the night of truth
  • vhs kahloucha
  • the home song stories
  • 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days
  • day watch
  • yo
  • the signal
  • time
  • breath
  • paprika
  • fido
  • joshua
  • black sheep
  • ils
  • savage grace
  • the man from london

paprika.jpg

looking at it in elongated list form like that, i’m having serious doubts about my resolve and ability to adhere to a timetable. but i’m sure with a few convenient reshufflings here and there, a few additions and subtractions, and maybe a few swindled freebies, i will end up seeing most of it. anyway it’s exciting.

opening night was sicko, evidently the new michael moore doco. i was really impressed. this, to me, is a much more universal and appealing project than fahrenheit 9/11 ever was – perhaps mostly because it doesn’t require a certain political bias or suspension of belief to digest. and there was much more of a human element this time, and less finger-pointing. just quietly, i seriously can’t understand people who don’t like michael moore. as i said ages ago, the fact that he’s biased is really a non sequitur and anybody who knows anything about the subjectivity of filmmaking (or writing) will not have a problem with his documentaries espousing “socialist” ideals. anyway, the point is he’s trying. he’s just an average joe with a passion for what he’s doing, and that is the most remarkable thing about him. maybe the typical american just hates on him because they feel an uncomfortable sense of shame for not being so politically minded or proactive?

anyway, sicko itself was great. i had no idea things were actually that bad in america, but you learn something every day! of course, there were a few cheap shots at the administration, but that’s why we go to see michael moore’s films. and there were more than a few serious lol’s to be had as well; more so than in his other movies. but the element of the film that i thought was handled the best were the case studies; they were portrayed with true tenderness and compassion, and i really felt like giving a few people a kick in the teeth for the sheer pain they had caused some of these great people. mission accomplished. whatever michael moore does in future, count me in.

the signal was a bit more of a dark horse, but was actually pretty great. it’s shot in three thirds, each with it’s own writer/director. the first two parts, at least, were fantastic: the first featured some serious pathological mind-bending; the second, some crazy ‘shaun of the dead’-style humour; however i just felt that the third lost control a bit and resorted to too many of the traditional horror movie cliches. when i actually make the effort to see a horror film, i want to be scared. so in that sense, the final act was a bit of a let-down. but the ‘no fucking about’ approach to what is actually a pretty lame plot worked really well. i liked the fact that they didn’t even bother trying to explain what the signal was, or where it came from, or how to stop it. combined with some smart editing and convincing, rugged violence, it was really entertaining. who knows if it will ever get an audience, though.

i also sat through a danish documentary called the monastery, which was short of enthralling but still with a certain charm. i don’t know; maybe if the guy wasn’t so damn old and he could just talk a bit quicker then the movie could have been 20 minutes shorter and i wouldn’t have been getting restless halfway through. but it was a nice story, and definitely everything seemed out of another world to me: russian orthodox nuns, a delapidated castle in the countryside, the sheer incomprehensibility of one of the wackiest languages on earth…you get the idea.

wikpedia article of the day: dream interpretation. i know the current trends indicate that most sensible people think dreams are just “random synapses firing in the brain,” or a combination of that and the events that have been occupying our minds. but, how does that explain the recurring symbolism in dreams between different people – across cultures, throughout history? i mean, we’ve all had dreams where we’ve been falling. we’ve all had dreams where our teeth have been falling out. it scares me; not the dreams themselves, but the fact that we all see the same things. to me, there can only be two possible explainations for this. either it says something really profound about our unconscious mind (i.e. human nature), or it is proof of something approaching spirituality. and hell knows i don’t like having my beliefs challenged like that.

i would have liked to make this entry longer and with more stuff, but my main priority was EXCLUSIVE FILM FESTIVAL COVERAGE and now i am more or less out of time. hopefully there will be crazy blogging going on around here over the next couple of weeks though, including lots of candid photos, so don’t touch that dial.

the well runs dry

July 25, 2007

well, tonight is opening night at MIFF. the curtain-raiser this year is michael moore’s sicko, which has been getting pretty positive feedback from what i can gather. it should be good, and if i can catch a glimpse of geoffrey rush in the process, that will be a bonus.

after my initial scan through the list of films showing this year, i picked up a copy of the guide and did some more in-depth research. turns out there is actually a scary number of good movies showing, and i probably won’t have the time or money to see all the ones on my short list. maybe i’ll share some of them in the coming weeks. oh well, i’m excited.

myblueberrynights_cannes.jpg

for some reason, however, this one isn’t playing. i guess this isn’t a huge problem, because as i recall 2046 got a general release in cinemas here a few years ago, and this one is decidedly more ‘western.’ naturally, i’m skeptical. i’m still not convinced that jude law is anything to write home about, and norah jones’ sultry voice is barely powerful enough to carry a tune, let alone a scene. of course, natalie portman should do a decent enough job, but still i wonder: why? the thing about wong kar-wai’s films is that they have that hot, humid asian style. they are city films; this is a road movie. i just don’t get it. i’m not sure the whole aesthetic will translate. not to mention that english is not wong’s strong suit, and the chinese has an inherent meditative and reflective quality; see tony leung in ‘in the mood for love’ and ‘2046.’

speaking of city films, i watched recently a film that carries perhaps more critical hyperbole than any other: the bicycle thief. that’s not to say i didn’t enjoy it – rather, it’s not a movie you can really enjoy. i’m not the kind of person who can recognise ground-breaking cinema as i’m watching it, but there were at least a few moments in ‘the bicycle thief’ that stuck out in my mind: the scene at the restaurant, and that final scene that manages to build up some serious white-knuckle tension with very little action and even less dialogue. it succeeds in isolating the main character from the society he so depends on, and in an ultimately ironic finale, it is the overwhelming gravity of this society that he has lost all faith in that ultimately forgives him and offers him a second chance; an invaluable gift in the context of post-world war II depression.

cats.jpg

so, since i’m running out of time, here’s an annotated list of my ambitions for the coming months:

  • start a lounge act.
  • a hybrid table tennis tournament/acoustic gig/piss-up at my house.
  • get this website out of my head and onto the internet.
  • travel.
  • go back to uni (maybe i should be a video game designer?)
  • write write write.

i went to the great wall of china exhibition at the museum on sunday. it was the final day – for future reference, probably not the best day to go to any exhibition. there was a profound number of children there, and i must ask, what interest do they have in seeing a 2000 year-old bronze coin? or a clay teapot? maybe they were expecting some yhang zimou-style re-enactment of the last millenium’s worth of chinese history. but, alas, it was not to be. my favourite parts were without question the ancient scrolls and paintings: as if seeing the evolution of the english language isn’t interesting and disorienting enough, y’all should check out some of these eastern languages. wack, yo. oh, and of course, my miniature terracotta soldier, which is forever guarding passage to my room with the patience of the crocodile, and (if the need arises) the relentlessness of the fire ant.

soldier.jpg

i had way more to include in this entry, but maybe i’ll have to put that on hold for now. i have a date with destiny, you see. but just quickly: does anybody know of any australian online book stores? shipping charges from the likes of amazon are quite literally obscene, and really, who can be bothered going to borders more than like twice a week? besides, everybody likes getting packages in the mail, and when you’re not paying shelf-stacking taxes along with royalties and publishing costs, prices have nowhere to go but down. or maybe i’m just a dreamer.

i had a dream a few nights ago featuring presidential candidate barack obama (this post is gonna get millions of hits on account of me writing those two words). he was in town (somewhere in australia; i say ‘in town’ because, being a dream, i have no idea where i actually was) promoting literacy. i know, in australia. the place that needs it the most. anyway, it was weird. i asked him what his favourite john steinbeck novel was, and told him how i felt that it was up to him to unify america, and, before he left, asked him quite seriously if he didn’t think george bush was a bumbling maniac.

it’s a strange world we live in.

i think i would make an excellent sports journalist, for the following reasons:

  • i watch way too much sport.
  • i am coherent without being too smart for the average herald sun reader (admittedly not very smart).
  • i often commentate on the tennis, and the actual commentators will act as my echo.
  • i enjoy making hollow predictions, pointing the finger, name-calling and taking other such liberties.
  • i like having my opinions noticed by a wide audience.

there are a few things holding me back, though. first and foremost would be my hatred of mainstream media. this isn’t just because i’m a latecomer to the punk movement and i feel like i owe it to my immature, rebellious self to just hate on anything that wields genuine power over society; i actually have honest and valid disdain for nearly all forms of broadcasting. and, to quote noam chomsky, “sports play a societal role in engendering jingoist and chauvinist attitudes. they’re designed to organize a community to be committed to their gladiators.” obviously, this presents me with a dilemma. it’s not that i can’t admit that these semi-violent and aggresive games are presented in a way as to foster patriotism and an appreciation for miltary-style regimented combat; i just want to believe there is something more to it than that. i like seeing skills on show, and i do get swept up easily by crowds and atmosphere. maybe that’s the point? in my opinion, it’s probably better to watch a game of sport than to get behind the war in iraq, and my sports fandom doesn’t translate into fascism (most of the time).

at any rate:

vs.

good citizens, you decide.

today was alright, given how insanely tired i was. i got up early-ish to go to this miff volunteer information session thing, and it must be said, of all the compulsory information sessions i have been to, this one was the least formal, and the least informative. i did get a nice free t-shirt, however, and seven free tickets to the festival. this is actually kinda ungood, since as it stands there are only a few films that i know for sure that i want to see: time, the new kim ki-duk (apparently his thirteenth film); inland empire, the new david lynch (link to the wikipedia page because the official site seems to be down at the moment); and rescue dawn (werner herzog). not that i’m some herzog fan, i’m just all about christian bale.

after the miff thing, and some aimless rooting around my favourite city stores, i went to acmi to check out the best of the independent games festival that i’ve been meaning to see for ages. most of the games were pretty decent, if not a little childish, but everyday shooter is the coolest thing ever. think geometry wars, but to music!

if you don’t feel like waiting for the official release/paying for this game, you can get some kinda similar stuff for free here.

it’s no secret i’ve been on a video games bender recently. i forget who it was, but i was arguing with someone that playing a good video game (keyword being good) can be as rewarding and as valuable an experience as reading a book or watching a movie. on the one hand, many video games have narratives that are as strong – if not stronger – than most of those you will encounter at any given hoyts theatre; on the other hand, to assume the identity of characters within these narratives offers a uniquely hyper-cinematic experience in its own right. and that is to say nothing of the aesthetic of games themselves as opposed to film or television. don’t believe me? you obviously still haven’t played grim fandango, or the last express, or system shock, or either of the half life games.

i also bought marie antoinette on dvd and the brush-off by shane maloney. so there you go.

surprisingly, the new yellowcard album has been rocking me to the core. i admit, anything that ryan mendez plays on will be like…music to my ears…or something…but seriously, this album shreds. check out the new songs on their myspace page. and hopefully i’ll have some more photos and anecdotes to share with you come august!

my moods have been anything but stable since my last entry. i’m so conflicted, and if there was one thing that i probably should be trying to gain from my current situation, it’s a stronger sense of self. but i’m learning to let go of the sedimentary romanticism of my youth. distractions work, but they are only temporary, and with that realisation comes a certain vertigo. absolutism is cowardly and near-sighted, and nothing makes you feel more human than having your values put to the test. but i like to think i’m reasonably compassionate, in spite of appearances. there is an infinite richness and pride to be gained from acts of forgiveness. and it’s definitely not the easy way out. maybe the people i know don’t seem to understand that just yet. or maybe they do, and i’m the one who’s been dragging behind for the past few years. i’m still working on it, and i have a long way to go yet. i don’t know where it will end up, but progress is progress, and my resolve is simply not to go backwards.

yeah so this entry wasn’t a fraction of the illuminating memoir i had hoped it would be. it’s scary that i feel i am able to write more passionately and clearly about a video game than i am about my own life. i enrolled in a creative writing course which begins on august 16th. maybe then i’ll be able to see things in that poetic way which has always been my dream. my argumentative power far outweighs my lyrical power, and the best ideas i have are always subversive and devious. i used to find this kind of blogging to be theraputic; now it feels stunted and (sometimes) even forced. maybe i’m still too young to see real beauty in things.

so long, friends.

between drinks

July 9, 2007

well now. i’m officially welcoming myself back to wordpress. whether this is a permanent thing or just some fleeting, ephemeral respite from months and months of accumulated boredom and frustration at my general lack of motivation and creative output, only time will tell. one thing is for sure though; there’s no way in hell i’m gonna start capitalising my words. i will never submit to your mind-control. pigs. capitals create a pecking order, a veritable food pyramid, a beauracracy out of strings of words which all essentially have the same value. and around here, that value invariably tends to zero.

lots of things, from the very great to the very small, have happened since our last meeting. and lord knows, to pour one’s heart out on an internet blog just isn’t the done thing. i mean, i’m not a square, man. and you never quite know who is going to be watching, as it were. i guess i can guarantee a few things though. i will whore this entry out to whoever is able and willing to click a link, and those people will be disappointed with what they find. there will also be a handful of people who simply stumble across this post, like a radio signal that has bounced miraculously off some distant piece of space junk and has taken thousands of years to find its way back to earth. there may even be others who come to pay their respects to the remains of blog posts past, and are shocked by this spectre of my former web-self. not that i ever had/have any kind of political, literary, or cosmological purpose when i hit that ‘new post’ button. sometimes i feel obligated to contribute something worthwhile to this common internet of ours. but more on that later. i think i’ve got something in the works.

i wrote up a crude timeline today, my vain attempt to ascribe some sort of game plan to my life in the upcoming months. it’s probably more of an economic projection than a solid set of resolutions, in the sense that the only thing it tells me for certain is that my net gain will be equal to precisely nothing. sadly, this is probably as constructive as i have been in a few weeks. yeah, life dealt me a bum hand, and i’m no high roller at the best of times. it’s unfair of me to assume that every time i feel like death warmed up, that i have some god-given right to subject everyone else to it also. but that’s the nature of my insecurities. i don’t feel like they are real or pathetic enough until everybody else knows about them. misery loves company, i guess. i like hearing people reassure me that i’m not just some carbon-negative waste of time, only so i can flat-out reject their attempts to console me. how incredibly cynical and twisted is that?

but consider yourselves lucky. arguably only one person has had to deal with the full force of my latest episodes. everyone else is either indisposed, conveniently out of reach (or in some cases, out of touch), or simply incapable of hearing me talk about, well, anything.

so here’s what we know for sure happened: i graduated uni, in equal-record time, with stunningly average marks. i lost two jobs. i got fit again. i turned 21 and had some kind of birthday party (two of them, in fact). i lost friends. and i forgot what the hell i’m supposed to be doing. but despite all this, and the back pain that haunts me every single time i sit down at this desk, i’m still feeling ok. it’s early days. we are the early days.