Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Movie Review

(This is the first movie review of mine that'll be published in Inpress magazine. Three hundred words isn't exactly a lot to work with, but hopefuly I've conveyed the film's general vibe.)

(Sneak Preview Entertainment)
"Mr. Bright, every man, all of us, wants a mother again; someone who'll give us everything and expect nothing in return no matter how badly we act. But a hundred thousand dollars, a hundred million dollars, no amount of money will ever take us back to that world. It's a huge gate that closes behind childhood and never reopens."

Maxwell Bright (Patrick Warburton - remember 'Putty' from Seinfeld?) has a big problem. Actually, he has several problems, but in order to avoid giving away some important drama from the film we'll stick to the central issue. Maxwell Bright is a rampant misogynist. Completely incapable of feeling empathy for women, Max lives in a state of perpetual angst, waiting for the next affront to come from "bull-dyke feminist pigs".

Not surprisingly Mr. Bright lives a life devoid of feminine relationships. Boozing and playing poker with his buddies, Max is descending into a state of sub-human squalor. It is on the back of his latest relationship implosion that Max decides to purchase a more compliant, Asian "mail order" bride.

Unfortunately - or rather, fortunately - for Max there is more to come from his purchase than he is bargaining on. Maxwell's story truly begins when Mai Lei (Marie Matiko), Max's bought bride, arrives at his door. Instead of serving Max's chauvinistic aspirations Mai Lei ends up becoming a metaphoric mirror, held up to reflect his ignorance and selfishness. And when Max's very mortality comes into question it is with the help of Mai Lei that we begin to see the civilization of Maxwell Bright.

Books, covers, judgment - I know I read a fable once that involved a saying along those lines. It is a saying I should have remembered when I picked up this movie for, ignoring the laborious cover art and quotations, The Civilization of Maxwell Bright has a tightly constructed narrative and compelling, believable, at times even confronting, performances by the lead actors. It's a bit B-Grade production meets art house narrative, but it is well worth the watch.

Extra features: Nada

-Bud Rose

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A fact's a fact

The time has come
To say fair's fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share
The time has come
A fact's a fact
It belongs to them
Let's give it back

How can we dance when our earth is turning
How do we sleep while our beds are burning
How can we dance when our earth is turning
How do we sleep while our beds are burning

In light of the current revelations (revelations which, I suspect strongly, every sentient human in Australia has an awareness of, at least on the periphery of their consciousness) detailing the horrific plight of our first Australians, I think it is important to step back from all the policy wonkery and come to an understanding of one simple thing. You can talk of law and order, you can discuss money and programs, you can convene endless committees and think tanks, but unless you change what's in the hearts of a great many Australians you'll never achieve much of anything.

The magical stories of the dreamtime, our first Australians' wealth of bush lore, and their amazing works of art - all that stuff is fascinating and should be embraced with the same vigor that, say, the New Zealanders embrace the Maori culture. When Australians travel world wide they should feel proud that Aboriginal culture is their culture - it should be a point of honor. We should look history in the eye and admit, honestly, that we've very nearly decimated the first custodians of this country.

Until our first Australians occupy a special place in our national consciousness there will be no policy, financial expenditure, or ideology that can help them. Embracing aboriginal folk will not be an easy process. There will be a lot of painful reflection required on all sides. But with an economy that is booming, and with our recent budget offering generous tax cuts for a large chunk of people, surely we can't accept indigenous infant mortality at rates three times higher than that of the Anglo population, or adult mortality that regularly occurs twenty years earlier than the national mean.

John Howard says that he doesn't want to embrace a "black armband view of history." When John Howard refused to say sorry he became a black armband on our history. Our first Australians are at the root of our culture, and their ancestors sit at the dawn of our nation's bloody history whether we like it or not.

Update: Reader Anthony recommends an article from The Australian that puts the issue into perspective.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I'm humbled

Once upon a time there was a little girl. This little girl was like any other, only this little girl's father was a monster. This despicable waste of atoms engaged in all sorts of lovely activities - he knocked all the girl's teeth out, broke her ribs, and forced her to live in constant terror.

Today that little girl, grown into a woman, will head to that monster's dementia ward; she'll comfort him, clean him, tell him everything will be okay.

It's funny really, I don't believe in god or angels, but that said I'm forced to admit this - on a Sunday morning my mother seems rather like one of those angels sent from a heaven that I don't believe in.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Congratulations and welcome... the influx of readers (from such places as Shipley, England, and Tallinn, Estonia) that have arrived at my blog by searching the word "panties."

Let's hope it was Hillary's panties you were looking for...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hillary's Panties

It is extremely telling that the American MSM is more interested in sniffing Hillary's panties than they are in listening to her policy prescriptions. Now I'm not necessarily a fan of the idea of Hillary as president, and this is mainly because a lot of the things that she advocates don't match up with my leftist principles. This doesn't mean, however, that she should be judged on the strength of her sex life with Bill.

Think about it. Bill Clinton was under constant attack because he placed the presidential penis in an intern's mouth, and yet George Bush has received no scrutiny for his role in the butchering of pre-war Iraq intelligence handling. It seems to me that conservative Americans are more worried about what people are doing in the private confines of their bedrooms than they are about issues such as war and sustainability.

As a slightly related afterthought, just think about censorship in cinema - violent action films are almost always given a pass (say an 'M' rating), whilst sex in films is censored back to the reel. My fundamentalist sister is more than happy for her children to watch violent movies or play violent videogames, however the very mention of sex has her reaching for the off button. I'd suggest if people were
having more sex and engaging in less violence then the world would be a better place. But, hey, maybe I've got it all backwards.

Update: The Bush administration is continuing its efforts to ban birth control:

"The last two appointees to head the FDA were closely involved in decisions to overrule the agency's medical reviewers and block the "morning-after" birth control pill from being sold without a prescription, according to court transcripts to be released today."

Let's work through this simply - fundamentalists want to ban abortion and they also want to ban contraception. Their agenda, simply put, is to destroy consequence-free sex. I'm not sure why these people hate sex so much, 'cause I've always found it quite enjoyable.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Patently Pathetic Points (or, Awkwardly Awful Alliteration)

Pathetic point form notes because, well, I've given up any hope of ever being a big-time, uber-serious political blogger of note. Nah, I never really had those aspirations, or at least they were fleeting; sort of like the way you dream of being that muscle-bound action hero when you're a young kid.

So, feel the sharp tip of my points:

  • I went away to Phillip Island with some friends over the weekend. While we were up there I came third in our quarterly minigolf championship. Third place is about where I fit into the world.
  • I've been very sick lately. Whatever it is that is wrong with me I'm having trouble shaking it. I wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat, and I find I'm very tired during the day.
  • I've shaved off the beard - all of my male friends liked it, and all of my female friends despised it. I guess it shows which way I'm hedging my bets, huh?
  • I've been offered some work reviewing movies for a street magazine called Inpress. Pretty cool hey? The magazine will send me DVDs and I'll send them back three hundred words. It's a pity that, despite being a massive movie fan, I can't write for shit.
  • Speaking of films, on Monday I saw L'Enfer (that's French for hell apparently). I'm on a French film bent at the moment. I'd describe French films as frustratingly beautiful - a wanky term that would probably describe one or two of my past relationships.
  • I'd like to write a post about heteronormativity. I had a frustrating discussion with some of my friends while I was away, and it's got me to thinking about how people in my position that don't plan to get married or have children are subtly pressured by the clucky masses to toe the (human production) line.
  • Jedmunds likes Oasis. I think they're okay but by no means do they ascend beyond mediocre. If you trawl through the comments on his post mine are under 'J'.
  • I haven't had a cigarette in 14 weeks. Somebody want to share a joint with me?
  • Do you suppose this may have been the most boring, and hideously insipid blog post in the history of the blogosphere?

I'm not sure why this isn't a point form note as well. I guess because it's a conclusion. There is a campy, b&w horror film on SBS at the moment, and I'm going to settle in for some spookiness.

Goodnight xox

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cartoon Crosses in its Eyes

It's funny the reaction I get when someone asks me my starsign at a party. I tell them I'm a Scorpio, and they go, "Ooh, ooh okay" in a tone that you'd expect to hear if you told your best friend you have testicular cancer. I don't believe in starsigns. I'm certainly not the nasty, stinging creature depicted by the scorpion. In fact there are lots of things that people who judge me by my starsign will never know. They'll never know that I can't have a shower without removing the daddy longlegs from it so that they won't be drowned. They'll never know that I don't bait my hook when I go fishing with my old man.

However I did discover yesterday that maybe there is a bit of the scorpion in me. Standing at Flinders Street Station waiting for a train, I found myself wondering why the guy on the platform across from me was throwing all his chips onto the tracks in front of us. The answer soon came when an arriving train ran over the seagull that was eating the chips off the track. The guy grinned triumphantly to his friend; they both had a chuckle about it. I doubt they had any idea how close they came to receiving a sting they'd remember for a long time.

I looked at the broken little body on the tracks, observing the feathers shifting gently in the afternoon breeze. I wondered to myself if maybe that tiny bird was a metaphor for something much bigger. Sighing, I made my way home.

Silly Monkey

So I haven't been able to get onto the internet for a couple of days. In an effort to fix things I pulled plugs, pressed buttons, and danced around making strange caveman-like grunting sounds.

I kept getting a message saying "wireless receiver is turned off."

Today I noticed a button on my keyboard that says "Wireless."

It has taken me two days to figure this out.

Anyway, apologies for the absence, and you can expect a proper update this evening.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Horrible eggs

Their gooey yellow centers repulse me. Their fluffy white marshmallow surrounds can induce my gag reflex upon a single sighting. Eggs. Add sugar, milk, flour, and some butter and you've got a cake. Vary the ingredients slightly and you've got any number of different creations - pancakes, muffins, scones; an egg will take you a long way. Versatile eggs. Ubiquitous eggs. Horrible, loathsome eggs.

Most children have a particular food they dislike as they're growing up, for some it's brussel sprouts (I never had a problem with brussels, but hell, they sure do make your pee smell funny), for others spinach, and still others despise pumpkin. Me? Growing up I hated eggs. Thinking back to my childhood, the unholy balls of goo hadn't reached the terrible prominence that they occupy in my life today. I disliked them, but I could look at them on another's plate and not be put off the meal in front of me.

But that was all to change when Muriel entered my life. If you were to exhume Karen Carpenter's anorexic corpse and place it in a pair of ratty pink moccasins, you'd have an idea of what Muriel looked like. With Sunken cheeks, eyes so crinkled they made a 'craw' noise every time she cast a glance your way, and skin the dreary stucco of a fifties weatherboard house, Muriel was a wraith that still haunts my nightmares to this very day.

I can still see Muriel standing there, wearing a dressing gown at three in the afternoon, defiantly blowing a cigarette's pungent smoke straight into my nine year old eyes. I remember the movies that she'd put on, movies that someone my age shouldn't have been watching. And I remember her terrible children; they were older than me and intensely nasty. Who could blame them I guess. If she treated them with half as much contempt as she treated me then it's no surprise they ended up being bratty little shits.

You're probably wondering how all this ties into my dislike for eggs. Well, let me tell you. One time, during one of my delightful stays at Muriel's place she summoned us inside for lunch. I'm sure you can guess what she'd cooked. The eggs were done in the style that requires you to eat them from the shell; hardboiled I think it's called. I begged and pleaded, but Muriel was not one for clemency. I choked and gagged as she force-fed me. Yoke juice the color of a Fanta can ran down my chin. The terrible stench of egg assaulted my nostrils. I began to cry.

On that terrible day I developed the only phobia that I possess (I believe my fear of churches is quite rational as I seem to start sizzling and smoking every time I go near one). I'll dry-retch if I see an egg or smell one cooking. I can't eat foods which include obvious signs of egg - think quiche, meringue, or smoothies; and, if someone reminds me that there is egg in less obvious foods - think cake or pancake - then I'll be unable to eat those foods on the occasion that it's brought to my attention. I guess what I'm trying to say is that egg horrifies me, and yes, Muriel, that fucking harpy, horrified me too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

One of these days I'll tell the dark tale that lead me to eventually take up blogging. Maybe I'll make it a private post, so those that want to read it can let me know and I'll email it to them.

In other, brighter news, I received an A for my politics assignment. I keep getting surprised at the grades I've been getting as they have been at least 20% higher than I would have expected.

Hidden (Cache)


I'll start out this humble little film review by apologizing for the delay in submission. I said on Saturday that it'd be available "tomorrow", however I found myself succumbing to illness over the last couple of days, which put me behind at school and left me with no time to blog. I'd also like to warn folks in advance that at some stage in this post there may be spoilage of Hidden's narrative details. I'll do my best to avoid giving away too much of the plot, in particular the plot's conclusion, and I'll do this by taking only a cursory look at the storyline.

So, with no further delay allow me to present:

Hidden (Cache)

The first striking thing about Michael Haneke’s Hidden, something the viewer becomes aware of from the very first scene, is the effortless way that the director goes about creating multifaceted, multi-leveled, worlds within worlds. The film starts out looking upon the front of a very ordinary, if slightly swanky, inner-city French dwelling. People go about the daily business of normality. A lady exits the house, presumably starting out her working day. The status quo prevails. Or does it? Suddenly our view distorts, static runs across the scene, the action does a double take, and we realize that, through the eyes of the central characters, Georges and Anne Laurent (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche), we've been watching a recording which is now being viewed on a television. Such a beautiful deception of the viewer creates a complex problem from the outset - are we viewing the world through our own eyes, the eyes of the thus far anonymous cameraman, or, the eyes of the central characters currently watching themselves on tape?

In all aspects of the film's narrative there are complex questions being asked. The film within the film (the question of viewer perspective) is only one such question. In fact the levels of allegory and metaphor in Hidden are both so vast and at the same time so simple that any true movie fan will experience the heart-achingly breathless feeling associated with watching a once-in-a-lifetime production. More exposition is required to back up that bold assertion, I know, so let's take a look at the simple storyline, with a view to seeing the not-so-simple big picture.

Georges and Anne live a very comfortable married life in their rather well-protected abode. Georges does a televised lit review and Anne works for a prestigious publishing house. They both appear to be very competent, progressive, enlightened adults. Consider them members of the French intelligentsia. Georges and Anne begin to receive videotaped footage of their neat little life, delivered to their front door. As the deliveries begin to escalate to include crude drawings of a somewhat violent nature, we begin to see a corresponding corrosion of the comfortable assumptions of Georges' and Anne's existence. Georges starts to suspect that he knows who is sending him the tapes, and his quest to find out brings him face to face, as seen through a series of flashbacks, with the dark truth of his past. This is Hidden's surface storyline, and even on its own it is compelling, with a seamless Hitchcockian handling of tension that conjures forth the spirit of Rearview Mirror.

However, to leave Hidden with a surface explanation would be like fucking without that wonderful first kiss - you may have had fun, but you'll have missed the truly important, subtle, and downright beautiful part of the transaction. You see, Georges and Anne are far more than just Georges and Anne. They are also France. They are France's guilt; her short memory; her indifference; her desire to look elsewhere for the source of blame. As Georges twists and turns under the microscope - or, the camera, if you will - a terrible act of personal selfishness becomes a metaphor for a nation's dereliction of its moral responsibilities (note that some knowledge of France's Algerian imperial history will help the viewer be cognizant of this). All this occurs against a backdrop of cinematic disturbance (you'll understand what I'm talking about when you come upon these remarkable editing feats) so sharp, and so unexpected, that the viewer feels stung, as if slapped in the face by the director. It doesn't stop there however, and this is where the movie ascends to the lofty realm reserved for my favorite films. You see, by falling into the director's deliberate trap of looking for the guilty party with Georges we are shown something important about ourselves. When we look without instead of within, desperately searching for a boogeyman that doesn't remind us of ourselves quite so much as Georges and Anne do, the guilty party is revealed as being us.

Rating: Hidden is directed with the restraint of a master. Its actors acquit themselves with aplomb. And its storyline provides infinite avenues of possibility and contemplation. I haven't been as excited as this about a film in a long time. Hidden rates as four Quixotic windmills out of five.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Tomorrow, if I manage to find myself in less of a shambles than I'm in today, I'll submit a review of a most awesome and peculiar film that I watched Friday night -'Hidden'.

My mind has been blown and tomorrow I'll share.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Okay, somebody in America managed to find my site by typing my full name into google. Who in America would even know my real name?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sick (and so is the blog?)

I'm wracked with aches and drenched in sweat. I have a sore throat and headache, both so nasty they've merged and become one pulsing, flaming wave of evil. I probably should have got the free flu shot that was offered at work. Avoiding the Melbourne Breakbeat thingy on Friday night would have been smart as well - the end result of that venture was as predictable as a character death in a soapie with flagging ratings.

Disconnection comes strongest in a thumping, bouncing club full of people that are there to socialize and have fun. The irony used to amuse me, but now it's just a drag.

A point of concern has arisen. If I type my name into Google the link for this site comes up. Not an indirect link, not a referred link, but a straight-out, direct link. This is puzzling and worrisome: puzzling because there is no mention of my real name on this site, or in the personal details that I provided to open it; worrisome for very obvious reasons. It could be time for the blog to die and for a new one to be born elsewhere. But it's best not to make such decisions in the midst of a fever.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Iraqoholics anonymous

Are YOU an Iraqwaroholic? Having trouble quitting your destructive addiction? In denial? The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. The next step is to ensure you don't substitute one addiction for another. And, there are people who want to help.

More details on the consequences of Iraqaholism:

"BAGHDAD — More Iraqi civilians were killed in Baghdad during the first three months of this year than at any time since the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime — at least 3,800, many of them found hogtied and shot execution-style.

Others were strangled, electrocuted, stabbed, garroted or hanged. Some died in bombings. Many bore signs of torture such as bruises, drill holes, burn marks, gouged eyes or severed limbs."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Cold spit on their cheek; drool of a zombie?

I've never been one for reality television, but lately my disdain has become almost pathological. I find that if an advertisement comes up for, say, Big Brother, and I don't avert my gaze in time to avoid seeing it, I feel the urge to vomit. What a sad, pathetic little circus the human experiment has turned out to be. Granted the gift of reason, possibly the only creatures in this cold, infinite universe capable of staring at the heavens with awe; capable, indeed, of investigating those heavens and even, by extension, of discovering our origins in the star dust from whence we came; and, instead, look at what we choose. I'm no intellectual, nor an elite, however I think it's pretty obvious, even to a layman like me, that something has gone awfully wrong with our way of thinking.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pot to Kettle - 'You're Black'

Dick Cheney rebukes Russia for human rights abuses.

An Animated Discussion

Somewhere in the vicinity of four years ago a friend took me to a preview screening of an animated film called Cowboy Bebop. I can't remember why they had the tickets - I suspect it had something to do with them working for Madman Distribution. Going in I remember being extremely skeptical; however, coming out I was amazed and enthused. I realized at the time that I'd been missing out on a really interesting medium. The same friend that took me to see the feature film later managed to get me a free boxed set of the television series. If anything, the series is even better than the film. The characters are extremely well developed, the narrative is both tight and quirky at the same time, and the soundtrack, man, the soundtrack far surpasses anything we get to see in our traditional television series. In short, I'm totally hooked on Bebop.

I figured if Bebop was great I'd easily be able to find other series that are just as enjoyable. The problem I've encountered is that a quick glance over the shelves of the local JB HiFi reveals such a diverse range of animation that I'm unable to figure out what is worth buying. It seems like, as with all other forms of media, there is a lot of chafe and not very much wheat. Coupled with the vast range of animation is my very specific idea of what I want to watch. I'm not really interested in the shows that are aimed at children, or the ones that are packed full of magic, fantasy, or aliens. I like the ones that are set slightly in the future; but that future has to be relatively probable. I like plots involving government and corporate corruption. I picked up 'Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex', and, fortunately, that filled the bill nicely. It isn't as good as Bebop, but it's still quite entertaining.

So now I'm wondering where to go from here. I've finished Standalone Complex, and I'm hungry for more. I'm sure the net can provide the answers. But the websites are probably like the series - too many and of a quality so rocky and undulating that to hit on a good one will amount to potluck. Hmmm, some thought is required.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A major blow struck for Labor politics in Victoria

State Liberal leader Robert Doyle quits parliament.

Now that Bracks is no longer facing one of the most insipid politicians in Australian history Victorian Labor may have to work that little bit harder.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Mission Accomplished

Let's picture me landing a jet on the lawn of Latrobe University. Picture me springing from the jet, adorned in my finest flight gear. Picture, if you will, me declaring upon disembarking, "mission accomplished." Do you think if I did that tomorrow the University would allow me to finish my degree three years early?

"So glad to see you well
Overcome and completely silent now
With heaven's help
You cast your demons out
And not to pull your halo down
Around your neck and tug you off your cloud
But I'm more than just a little curious
How you're planning to go about
Making your amends to the dead"

Monday, May 01, 2006


Someone with the necessary minerals calls things as they really are. And, what's more, he said these things in front of the president and his whole entourage:

"Mrs. Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, Mr. President and first lady, my name is Stephen Colbert and it's my privilege tonight to celebrate our president. He's not so different, he and I. We get it. We're not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir? That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say I did look it up, and that's not true. That's [right?], but you looked it up in a book.

Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works. Every night on my show, the Colbert Report, I speak straight from the gut, OK? I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the "No Fact Zone." Fox News, I own the copyright on that term."

And then, some more:

"I haven't. I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he has stood on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world."

Then he addresses the media who were also in attendance:

"But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew."

Update: If you'd like to see the video footage of the above address click here.

Update 2: I just watched the full video myself - it bites much deeper than the few quotes that I've provided indicate. There are a lot of uncomfortable people in that room. It is just the way I like it.


"For someone who was never meant for this world, I must confess I'm suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving... maybe I'm going home."

Gattaca, in my opinion, was one of the best commercially oriented films of recent times (I guess by 'commercially oriented' I mean that I'm not comparing it with some of my favorite art-house - or whatever you want to call them - films). From its tight, compelling narrative, to its relatively restrained handling of the subject matter, Gattaca never ceases to grab me.

Sometimes, when Vincent, alias Jerome Morrow, is taking off on his mission to Titan I secretly wish that I could be on that flight as well. I wish that I was blasting away from this world with all its hatred and troubles. Heading towards the reassuring unknown from which we came.

Other times, when feeling less somber, I figure I'd settle for looking like Jude Law. A shallow, indulgent fantasy, I know, but looking like what must be one of the best looking men alive serves as a temporary consolation for not making it to the stars.