Archive for July, 2012

Munich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Paris – Statues

 

 

 

 

 


Paris – Landmarks

 

 


Another…remake

It has gotten to the point where walking through a mainstream movie theatre entrance mimics more a museum than a house of contemporary pop culture.

That’s not necessarily true, I suppose. I’ll explain my frustration.

I’m talking about the placards that adorn the walkways leading into movie theatres at present/over the past few years. It seems  big-budget movie producers and writers aren’t even trying to mask their attempts to separate you from your hard-earned with semi-original ideas, they’ll happily re-package the same old stinking pile of shit and sell it back to you – not in the guise of something greater, but often as simply a stinking pile of shit – with Johnny Depp or that guy who was nuts in Tropic Thunder whose name escapes me, attached.

Recently, I ventured to the pictures to see a film – I can’t remember which, honestly I cannot remember the last half decent film that I’ve seen at a mainstream theatre. Walking towards our cinema, I observed the following flashbacks of movies:

Madagascar 3

Prometheus (this may’ve actually been the movie I saw)

Men in Black 3

Snow White and the Huntsman

Ice Age 73

The Dark Knight Rises

Step Up Revolution

The Bourne Legacy

Expendables 2

There were flashbacks further into the future also:

Silent Hill: Revelations

Paranormal Activity 4

The Twilight Saga: Does anyone really care anymore?

Total Recall

I don’t even think this was all of them – and that’s not even considering the recent barrage of history thrown my way:

Ghost Rider 2 (seriously?)

Wrath of the Titans (you’re about to get a punch in the head)

American Pie Reunion

Mission Impossible (Scientology Revenge)

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Sherlock Holmes 2

It’s beyond a joke. Not only are some of these remakes or sequels rubbish – many of them are sequels of movies that were rubbish to begin with.

A lack of creative flair underscores many of them, but that’s not even what bothers me particularly. What bothers me is the mass-produced, mass-marketed, mass-advertised aura that each repackaged, digitally remastered terror brings with it that is inflicted on audiences seemingly indifferent or unintelligent. They’re clearly not even trying anymore. Some of these ideas are sequels, prequels or remakes of an idea that didn’t even begin within the movie industry.

I’m not against sequels. Shit, I loved Aliens, but surely there comes a time when the consumer gives these guys the middle finger and decides to spend some seminal time in front of the big screen. Be that in the midst of a thought-provoking film or a relevant insight into modern life – whatever it may be, original ideas will spark a reaction. Mediocre films and bland pop films have their place within the industry, sure, but they should not take up such a large percentage of the gross takings and offerings.

I’d think it logical to put a cap on the amount of re-hashed garbage that is thrown at peoples’ faces each year and a minimum on the amount of unique, original ideas penned by many brilliant screenwriters to appear in mainstream theatres.

Film is a powerful medium, but I feel it is handicapped by the public’s reliance on the need to feel comfortable at all times. This need for comfort encourages these movie producers to play the percentages – it is safer monetarily to offer up a film version of Desperate Housewives than it is to back the writings of an independent writer.

My suggestion: head down to a local movie theatre that shows independent films once in a while. Whilst not all of the offerings will be of a high standard, I have usually found that I walk away from such movies with an opinion, interesting conversation to begin with a friend, a spark, something!


Paris


Saqqara



Luxor


Cairo


Aswan Region – Upper Egypt

 


Take This Waltz / The movie that ruined my life

It was the kind of artistic bullshit designed to make you love the onscreen couple. Flirty encounters, ridiculous games that only the two star-crossed lovers could enjoy, relationship-specific in-jokes designed to make the audience believe that this faux-romance between two otherwise strangers was the one thing most movie-goers crave, true love, filled the screen for the better part of 45 minutes. None of this was unique. I’d seen it before. We all have. Usually, it’s inane rubbish between two lead characters who I had seen fall in love time and time again with a variety of opposite characters. I felt I was immune to the flirtatious devices of inanimate couples who maintain the status quo of the “chick flick” genre. It’s different however,

WHEN IT’S A MOVIE ABOUT YOURSELF! *

Now, I say that with a slight (entire) degree of exaggeration but this movie has nonetheless shaken me (and the wife) to the core. The bullshit, flirty, ridiculous games etc were, by and large, the same antics we engage in to entertain ourselves. From the in-bed games of blocking each other’s eyes with the inner most sections of our mouths, to pissing the other off whilst in the midst of a telephone conversation with whatever means available, this film has stolen our relationship!

I eat chicken. I eat a lot of chicken. The film’s protagonist fucking eats chicken consistently – so much so, he is creating a cookbook for chicken-specific recipes. The prick was more me than me. They speak utter gibberish and understand it word for word. He is a gigantic goof ball who looks to make a joke out of everything – I’m a freakin’ Primary School teacher. I received a qualification for making a laugh out of the building blocks of life!

We sat in awe, humour, shock and horror as we watched our Canadian doppelgängers own the screen enlarged before us for two hours of our date-night-Wednesday. Torn between the desire to demand royalties upon the film’s conclusion and discover what happened with relationship between the protagonist and the (I can only assume) smelly neighbour, we decided to stay.

Shit got ridiculous when we looked into the overly dramatic, audio-visual mirror mimicking our relationship for the thousandth time when the wife turned to me and whispered (screamed) in jest/terror to me that “this movie is raping us.”

“We should leave” I jostled, unsure of the stature of my reply.

We stayed – probably because of the $18 entry fee, but also because when you’ve decided to view someone’s artistic endeavour, I suppose you should stay, out of respect and such things.

The result was an interesting film that dealt with its themes in a mature, particular (if sometimes cliche) fashion.

I’m not one for longwinded reviews, but I’ll say this.

In this film I found a sounding board for my long-held view on love and relationship.

There is no one person in the world for you to love. There is no “one true love.” It doesn’t exist. It is childish and unrealistic to think so.

I do choose to believe, however, that whilst there is not one true love in the world, there are people that we could not be happier being with. I look at my wife and I know, with everything that I am, that there is not a soul on Earth that I could be happier with.

Too many people try to fill their life with someone they love. Relationships will be fun in the beginning. Exciting, full of passion, unpredictable, bold, crazy, stupid, fun. These are fleeting moments. They are not how the human physche operates on a long-term basis. We must be content with who we are, what we are about, what we hope to achieve and experience. A partner to share these experiences is wonderful, but will not enable us to achieve “happiness.” Indeed, the belief that a partner can prove such emotions probably leads so many to stray from their partner. It is a never-ending pursuit, one to feel consistently giddy and excited.

The heroine of the film believes she has discovered this love in a hobo across the street. I’m not to say that she doesn’t end up happy with him, but she definitely will be no happier than she would have been if she had have stayed with her husband. I say this because she had not corrected the very flaw in her that led her to stray in the first place – she feels that another person will propel her to a positive outlook on life, better life experiences.

As her alcoholic sister-in-law propels at the end of the film, “life has a gap in it, it just does.”

We should not seek to fill gaps in our life with people to occupy our time, especially in lieu of ones we love. We must strive, instead, to love who we are and be content with ourselves. To seek to fill the gap with others is a meaningless pursuit that will only result in heartbreak – for ourselves and for others.

“The new gets old” – as our youth ages, relationships with those we love will age. They become more experienced and less unpredictable.

This is not true for love, only the symptoms of love. Butterflies in the tummy are a symptom of young love, their loss does not reflect the loss of love – only the reality that the love that once resided in the stomach now resides in the heart.

If only they didn’t steal our relationship to complete the film! Have you ever have your life stolen by the silver screen?


The Local

Every man (I choose to assume) loves the Local.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the geographically closest establishment to be his Local. The Local is where you feel that you are comfortably at home drinking down an icy ale in a much grander building than your own. Rather than the actuality of the event (in all likelihood you’re actually sitting in a dreary room with a pool table, ciggy machine, a specials board that hasn’t been updated since 1997 and a smattering of senile men spilling beer over the front of themselves as they ogle the bargirl and regale their mates about the time they played for Spotswood and kicked two – you’d like to think you’re not doing the same, but the same stained shirt you always wear [to the Local] begs to differ).

You’re quietly proud of your local. When you visit classy places (places not adjoined to Pokies) you may poke fun at pubs like your local – to fit in – but you’re always mindful to say to yourself “I didn’t mean that, if only I was at the local, then I could fart and play pool and not pay $9.50 for a pint from somewhere I can’t pronounce” – or something along those lines.

It’s like being really good at Mario Kart – the Local means the world to you but it wont help you get a job and it won’t please your wife much when you end up there 4 times a week after work. She’s not jealous of the venue, she’ll just be fuming at the time you spent there and that you managed to allow more money for the Barry machine than the bar tab (a lot) – particularly as you haven’t taken her out for a while.

The Local is a bloke’s haven. My Local is in North Fitzroy and I don’t get there much but I still say to myself, while I’m downing Espresso Martinis at some inner city joint, that I miss you and I’d love to play pool once more. The Lord Newry Hotel – my Mario Kart.


Our view of the past

We view the past as though we are peering through a fractured glass window,

We see images. Settings. Colours. But we cannot touch it. Cannot taste it, embrace it. We cannot live it.

As an artist may see the contemporary world, we view history with a brush, painting each stroke with imagination and desire.

Our creation is influenced, in part, by our intellect – our knowledge. Overall, it is shaped by our intrigue.

Intellect teaches us that the past was not always the dreamy place our heart would like to believe. Our inner artist looks through fractured glass and sees peace, beauty, hope.

It is a projection of what we know our world could be today – what it should be.

We attempt to connect with that which we never knew in the hope, the need, for it to have been something better than we have experienced. For if it was, ever better may our lives be should it come again.


Fair Marriage

In the 2010 Australian Election, the incumbent government won the two-party preferred vote 50.12% to the Coalition’s 49.88%. The Labor party received 30, 527 more votes than their rivals. Out of 12, 403, 363 counted votes, the margin was smaller than population of Bathurst, Lismore or Warnambool. Indeed, it was only achieved by 107 more than the total number of attendees at today’s little-hyped Western Bulldogs – Fremantle match.

Currently, 42% of Australians approve of Julia Gillard as Australia’s choice Prime Minister. Somehow, 46% believe Tony Abbott to be worthy of leading the country forward.

Earlier in the year, I was lucky enough to marry the person of my dreams.

It was a delightful occasion which was the celebration of our 6 and a half years together and an excited beginning to the rest of our lives together. It was also a civil ceremony, at a winery. Neither my wife, nor myself, are religious. There was no priest, no religious reference. It was an outward expression of the love we share for each other and our desire to join our lives together formally in the eyes and minds of those closest to us (and later, even with people we’ve never met).

We were lucky enough to involve ourselves in the traditional symbol of union. Our wedding took place without the burden of a dowry, the lure of joining two families through a matched marriage or the pressures of a shotgun marriage. These, traditionally, have been at the centre of the need to marry. Instead, our union was forged by the love we had shared for years and, at our wedding, we were able to share in the event with our closest friends and family. We were lucky to have the money to create such an event. Lucky to have the freedom to marry where we chose. Lucky that the rain stayed away.

In the end, however, we were lucky to be of opposing sexes.

In this country, such love can only be celebrated in this way if they are of differing genders.

No doubt, this stems from our nation’s Christian heritage. To the best of my readings, Christian opposition to same-sex marriage relates to obscure passages of the Bible that need to be taken out of context to fit the argument. Regardless, my opposition to the lack of fairness in the current Marriage Act is not even a religious one.

In this day and age, the views of one religious group should not control the lives of the citizens of the nation. Regarding marriage, this is especially pertinent as the Marriage Act of Australia is overseen by the Government of Australia – not the Church of England or Rome.

It is within the government’s responsibility to represent the views of their constituents. Currently, this does not happen. In 2004, an amendment to the Act meant that the line “marriage means the union of a man and a woman” was inserted into each wedding ceremony. Thus same-sex couples were denied the right to marry the one they love.

New York, on July 24 2011 (the day same-sex marriage was legalised), saw hundreds of gay and lesbian couples marry – some of whom had waited for years to be given the right. There were uplifting stories tinged with the undercurrent of discomfort. No – not discomfort that these people could finally enact their dreams, but discomfort that a government can deny such a fundamental right to their citizens for so long (at all).

Our government treats many minorities as second class citizens. The denial of this basic right is the most blatant, open example of this.

Gay teens are 14 times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers. Around 1/3 gay teenagers will attempt suicide at some stage of their growth. Government has a responsibility to protect these youths, to help cultivate a society that accepts and loves rather than discriminates and divides. The denial of the right to marriage is a symbolic act that say to certain members in our society that they should not be allowed to engage in the same rights as others. A fundamental flaw in our current political climate.

Before, I said that government’s have a responsibility to represent the views of their constituents.

Only 50.12% of people voted for this current government. Only 42% believe they should hold their post.

60% of all Australian support same-sex marriage. 60.

More people in Australia believe that same-sex couples should have the right to marry than think the government should hold its position. Even 53% of Christians are open to same-sex marriage.

The time has well and truly come.

There’s no need to allow “gay” marriage. Simply “marriage” will do.


The perverse joy of the anti-hero

Morality is a funny part of social conscience and conscious.

We know what is expected of us in most situations we find ourselves in. We have expectations for others should act in varying situations. Likewise, we have a pretty clear idea of how to treat those who go beyond the realms of expected social behaviour. Usually, if transgression is deemed great enough, our reactions go as far as repulsion and exclusion of the violator.

Certain guidelines I refer to are the obvious – people treating others with care and kindness, using manners and demonstrating respect. If someone is unpleasant, unfriendly or unkind, it is not difficult to see that there will be no ongoing relationship with that person. They are shunned, avoided and even, at times, ridiculed. (The final situation is ironic given that our rules for social discipline apparently does not relate to demonstrating for respect for others when they are not around)

This probably mind-numbingly obvious.

What intrigues me is when our opinion of others changes based on their behaviour in the private sphere of life.

Unfaithfulness is probably the common theme in this aspect.

When we were younger, we perhaps had an understanding that we knew how we would treat someone we knew to have been unfaithful. That we would recognise that they were a person of weak character and severe ties.

I think this is reflected by characterization in many forms of basic literature. Many characters are depicted as two-dimensional plot devices – you are either confronted with the affable hero or the devilish villain. Snow White was beautiful and innocent. The Queen was evil. We knew what side we were on – we knew what we had to do. We know, in most films, your Jennifer Anniston/Amy Adams is your good girl and your smug, smarmy guy opposite will either become a love interest when his perfect character is revealed, or rather reveal himself to be the villain when he flashes his wallet at her and feels this entitles him to flash his bits as well.

These characters are safe. We can remain guarded in our own private setting (as we often read or view from home) and judge those who do not have the same scruples as ourselves (or we’d at least like to think).

The anti-hero does not afford us this luxury. It is for this reason that I am intrigued by them.

With this character, we are often confronted with a person uncomfortably familiar with the types of people we already know. They may not be overly pleasant, but they are able to maintain social relationships. They may not always say the right thing, but they say enough things to maintain realism. We come to forgive these flaws in the same way we forgive the quirks of our friends or loved-ones. These characters are granted a free pass that we would not afford people we choose to not associate with because they are rounded, believable characters and, moreover, we don’t have a choice.

Our view of their private world gives an insight into the character that we would not have in our normal interactions.

If someone I did not care for was to cheat on their partner, it would be my first response to nod knowingly to myself in my judgement and reaffirm the lack of connection we already had. If it were say, a relative or close friend who transgressed, it suddenly becomes a far more complicated issue – one that forces you to reflect on not only your relationship, but your own character.

Don Draper of Mad Men is one such character. As a viewer, we are drawn to his brooding ways and often brilliant mind. He is intelligent and lives a life we would love to live. Successful, rich, possessor of a gorgeous home, children and wife. He is also unfaithful and ruthless. We have no choice but to follow him as we are simply viewers of the show, peering into the world created by others for us to see. I have no doubt about my feelings for the act of cheating – yet in this setting I can see him return home drunkenly to his wife. Leave for work in the morning, sleep with some random encountee during the day before returning to deal with the unpleasantness of other characters. Often, as we are faced with his infidelity, we end up barracking for his freedom to do what he wants because that’s what we believe he wants. Despite the fundamental character flaw, our judgement of him is clouded by his being the main character, the one we follow and are intrigued by. We are left to question; do we even like him?

I mention him because I’ve spent the last week watching Mad Men. It is, however, a form of characterisation I’ve always been enthralled with.

Characters like Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City are characters you do not particularly like, they may not be who we would ourselves like to be, yet we still find ourselves sympathising with them.

When I was little, perhaps before I was born, my father cheated on my mother. They did not stay together and, my whole life, I’ve been faced with the dilemma between standing up for my beliefs and forming a relationship with him. It is further convoluted when you realise that standing up for ones beliefs is not as simple as it sounds. We ourselves are not perfect and we face this reality when presented with the desire to point out flaws in others.

It is here where these characters shine. They evoke an emotional response. Essentially, it doesn’t matter who they are or what they do. When they say the wrong thing, we think to ourselves what else could be said. When they behaviour terribly, we reflect on what it is in the human condition that allows to act in such a way and, moreover, how society can forgive such transgression.

Whilst we occasionally need to glory of a 2-D romp of bland characters, the presentation of a flawed character renders far greater opportunity for reflection and self understanding. Even if we don’t like what we are faced with.


Historical Fiction

I love historical fiction.

For one of a number of reasons it is my favourite medium

For starters – it makes me feel intelligent. Like an educational Desperate Housewives – I can engage in a gossipy medium that actually teaches me stuff. Yeah!

Two (2): It’s a good form of escapism. Fuck watching Modern Family or like, some other pretentious shit that pretends to understand our times, historical fiction is all like – “hey, I’m old, I dunno you and you dunno me, so let’s just go about it and see what happens.” For reals I’m not intimidated…I think. It’s a safe genre – everything it talks about has already happened. It’s not scary, like futuristic novels. It’s not paranoid or dangerous, like contemporary work. It’s old news, it’s already happened. Play on!

Three (III/IIV/IIIIIIIX/ETC): It’s essentially an extension of what we already think (or know, or think we know). As much as avid readers of the genre would protest, essentially this medium is an exaggeration of what we believe the past to have already…been. Basically, it’s an egotistical adventure in proving to the recorded word that you knew best (yes, I fucking KNEW that Caesar would die!) and even in the events that you didn’t quite knew, they still fit the norms. Costume/location/characters etc. Which leads into point 4 (or is still part of point 3, I’m not sure).

Four (kind of like 1). Historical fiction likes to prove the reader intelligent. This genre will relegate itself to suffocating the reader with detail that their imagination had created beforehand. The vast majority of these texts are fantastically written, but in reality cannot escape the paradox that they are, nonetheless, written by people who reside in the same time as the meagre reader who is subjected to the role as the Neanderthal consumer who should be amazed by every generic landscape created by the bored faux-historian. Often, the result is a bewildered reader left to muse to his/her friends that “it was like I was there” when they really wanted to say “It was a great story.” The language/dialogue/setting makes you feel you have gone back in time whilst you sit on your sofa scoffing ice magic from the bottle. The reality is that the writer is probably doing the same.

Essentially, we are the product of our time – we cannot change that and, well, we should certainly not try and change it. I would simply prefer a greater level of introspection when dealing with the matter of the past (regardless of the wank this would invoke). There is much to learn from the past – it will shape our future.


Never smile at the elderly

We stand. I look at her but she.. Well, I think she sees me?

God she looks glorious. Off grey cardigan, and pants, and scarf, and socks remind me of a period I never knew. A retrospectively dignified age where values were upheld, people were respected and woman were beaten for declaring independent views.

I respected her immediately. She didn’t quite seem to notice me. I looked left and right across the busy road. She seemed to vere forwards and backwards against the just road – bothered not so much by the busy traffic as by the touch pavement underneath.

If it would not be for her hatred of immigrants, I’d assume that her detest for modern life lay in the disconnect between modern human society.

Regardless of this (it was within a few seconds after all) I decided she was the effervescent, radiant figure of all that was good in the western world.

She looked at me.

I looked at her.

I smiled.

Slowly, we took our steps across the busy mid-suburban roads. We walked together in tune and I noticed she waned slightly to one side. The years weighed heavily upon her and I could see she was longing for the human interaction she had missed for so long.

As we met, mid-road, our eyes met.

I smiled at her – hello (my eyes said). Seconds from offering my ready to help hands –

“John?” (her mouth/and eyes gleamed).

“Um no…sorry”

Without a moment’s pause the lady bashed me on the head with her handbag and began to wail obscenities toward me. She absconded me for such incredulity and made no uncertain reference that this would not happen in her day.

“Fucking Pokies” she wailed into the afternoon sky.

I couldn’t speak – think, lest to reflect that it had been my fault to impose.


Time

We like to feel time is important,

Or rather, our standing within it is important.
Regardless, the human’s ability to construct a realm within which only the creator may dwell does little to satisfy the cravings of the effervescent title clock and only does greater to underscore the reality that we, all, are traveling towards an undeniable ending to which we have no dispute over – only some minuscule grasp upon the prelude, hoping to inadvertently affect the outcome.


Western introspection

I like to blame my lack of creativity (laziness) on outside factors. While I enjoy putting ink to paper – or in this case finger to glass screen – it is an art I seldom engage in.

It is an expression of thought that I would partake in more often if it weren’t for the lures of my surroundings. Invariably, writing leads me to think introspectively. I suppose, by its very nature, that is a natural occurrence. Yet, Angry Birds, Two and a Half Men and the football each (in their own way, time and place) lead me away from engaging with my active brain and instead into a mind-numbing abyss of Western life.

That’s not to say I don’t engage the foibles of Western life. If given the choice between a walk through the wilderness or a day on the couch it’d be the latter that would win – but I would still mope about the decision.

This blog serves as yet another vessel to impart blame on factors outside myself – so here I will unashamedly follow that path.

It seems important to actively engage with the world, with others – to improve oneself continually (through the vehicle of a book or a treadmill) yet I seem engrossed by the notion of plateauing. I will happily spend evenings with friends discussing movies I haven’t seen, books I never got through or films I’ve only heard about. Apparently, it is of no consequence to many whether you are a person of substance or hot air.

History is something I love. I delight in uncovering lost mysteries or characters – yet would go only so far as to read a Wikipedia page to learn about a civilization, never the library. I suppose I’m a product of my time (lazy). It is of greater consequence that I garner a general feel for a large amount of subject matter, to get me through a conversation with a stranger say, rather than know something as well as I should know myself. To learn, to grow.

Perhaps it’s a jaded view. We live in a time surrounded by easy answers. To cooking recipes, to mathematical quandaries, to the winner of 2010’s Masterchef, to the name of the Southern General in the American civil way. Yet, I’m not sure my mind has evolved to be able to grasp such information. That, whilst I enjoy learning and discovering things I had not previously known, I feel inundated by how much I do not know.

It’s the pop-culture, Gen-whatever view of the world which I feel detached from yet formed by. I feel I can not read a novel on existentialism when I could use that time to learn about the fall of the Berlin wall. Incidentally, I’m brought back to my childhood. To a time where a would know two shows were on at the same time and not knowing which to view. Torn between my love of watching the Simpsons and finishing that episode of Home and Away (I didn’t particularly care which I watched, and minutes later wouldn’t remember to switch channels anyway). I am seduced by knowing that something else is there, to be consumed, studied, viewed or indulged.

Essentially, whatever the subject matter may be, I feel the knowledge of these subjects doesn’t matter so much anymore. It is a habit. A habit of the time and the ease of the technological age. A habit unique in the history of human history to the peoples of the previous 20 years in the Western world.

There are places, within these spaces that people still go to reside in, however. I feel it is a way of people bringing normality into a universe that still makes little sense. Forums and Facebook are two sites that achieve this purpose in my opinion. While there are millions of sites on the web, there are only 12 in my favourites, 10 of them are sporting ones. Within these spaces, I can gravitate towards the creation of an identity and the withdrawal of information that I want – scores and stats mostly. In these spaces I don’t need to know everything, I am familiar with the domains, the content (how to explore it) and these occupy too much of my time (perhaps for that reason).

I am involuntarily, yet transfixedly, drawn to the need to know everything. Yet whatever we do, whatever we eat may kill us. Knowledge is power but knowledge lies beyond the grasp of those who have been raised in the technological age, those who believe all achievement lies within a google search, to those who care not for human engagement.

In the end – I think you’ve got to search for whatever answers you need, back yourself to be interested in what you think will enrich your life. Beyond that

I’m a mess.