August 2006

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Food Marketing

If I buy the "Women's 40 Plus" Breakfast Cereal in the morning, does that do something to me?

I often wonder the same thing with those vitamin B tablets. If you have a "Vitamin B for Men" when you get up in the morning, do you feel all full of beans in a manly way?

The Women's 40 Plus is yummy, by the way. I recommend it. However, if I start attending those ball-balance classes and worrying about whether to go grey naturally, I'll move on.

I do find myself increasingly keen on Lateline, and certain special reports on Compass. But I'm sure that's not the cereal. Do you think?

Love

Okay, want to seriously turn your head inside out?

Check out this radio piece about romantic love as a construct of capitalism. This is seriously interesting radio, whatever you think of it. It took the guy who produced it three years to make. It took me about the length of time it takes to clean a particularly messy bedroom, to listen to it. But in my Radio National geekiness, I loved (whatever that means) listening to it.

Also, I would like to thank the internet for ruining the perfectly good thing I originally wrote here. Bastard.

Women reading & criminal possibilities

Girls, here's an interesting reason why we rock: we read more.

Also, another reason why The Age (Melbourne's broadsheet newspaper) is simply hilarious to read in the mornings: in an article about Steve Vizard possibly perjuring himself, the reader is confronted with the alarming prospect that, and I quote,

"The possibility of a perjury charge carries a maximum 15-year jail sentence."

The possibility of a charge now carries a sentence! This is huge news. One can only imagine how onerous a conviction based on the actuality of a charge might be. The legal precedent established here is mind boggling. It could almost be argued that the possibility of a charge in relation to a breach of society's regulations exists in all of us. Certainly this is what the Catholics believe. And Dostoevsky.

I intend to stay indoors and live on canned goods until this matter is cleared up by the authorities. I advise you to do the same.

Books and other winnings

Last week, on the way back from Manly beach to the ferry if you don't mind darling, I spotted a bookshop. I can sense bookshops, just like birds with which way South is.

Anyway. So the bookshop is called Desire Books and it has that warm orange glow that brings you across from the other side of the street to "just have a look". In the window, there was this display. There was a sign on the window that said, NAME THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THESE BOOKS AND WIN ONE OF THEM.

Now, let me say that when Tim recently held a trivia night, I couldn't answer the question about what "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" was the first sentence of. For someone who majored in English, that's not terribly impressive. So when I smugly told Stewart in Manly that I definitely knew what it was that linked the books in the display, I made him promise not to make me go in and say it to the guy in the bookshop.

So Stewart went in and said it to the guy in the bookshop. And - after some discussion regarding the expression of the answer and the terms of reference of the sign on the front window - it was deemed, graciously, to be correct. So then Stew, who had pretended to have thought of the answer himself, had to select a book from the collection.

So now I'm reading Anais Ninn.

And anyway the guy in the bookshop said he'd been doing the "Guess the connection" display in the front window for years. He said it was IMPOSSIBLE to think of new displays. I immediately thought of three or four very (I thought) witty and clever ones he never would have thought of, all of which he had done several variations of. So if you think of any, let me know. I'm making a list. And if you're in Manly, go there. It's a second-hand bookshop with first editions and gorgeous old hard back copies of books they don't really want to sell. It also has a table you can sit at, with copies of The Believer on it and tea cup stains in the wood.

Another reason to love Melbourne: yesterday I purchased two torsos made of plastic (one lovely lady and one hunk of man with a vineleaf covering his bits) for seven bucks fifty each. My next few costume parties just got a hell of a lot easier. Also, I got a single bed head with a light in it (dunno, but I'm sure it will be useful) for $2, a sun hat with half a (strange) sentence on it (fifty cents), a massive big bunch of fake daisies in a basket (free, sort of forced on me), an instamatic camera with film in it that had been taking photos of people's feet all day (fifty cents), and all because the ladies at the garage sale down the road had imbibed a significant quantity of wine. "Are you sure you don't want an orange doily and a small, dusty religious figure?" they asked as I left.

Also, went to the Writers' Festival, which was fun because it was opening and there were books and also many fabulous people (ie my friends).

Yay for the purple sky.

Writing

Sometimes I think it would be good to be able to write about reality. About my own life and the things that happen to me and to the people around me.

Then I read things like this.

Things like this make me think that maybe writing about other people, or having other people writing about you, is not the most constructive excersise. Especially if the people being written about are dead, and so can't write back.

Meanwhile, I'd be quite pleased if I could write about anything at the rate I'm going today.

Melbourne

Things I like about Melbourne (having rather enjoyed myself outside of Melbourne and having briefly wondered today why I returned at all):

1. The fact that it was freezing and foggy all day but tonight you could wear a T shirt in the street.

2. The open contempt held by almost everyone for the "public" transport system.

3. There's always a festival.

4. The people in the Foodworks shop in Nicholson Street (previously Foodies), who have gorgeous accents, in which they pronounce things like "no worries" and "yeah, right", giving the lazy, surly confidence of the phrases a sharp, happy, politeness. Also, they laugh at my jokes.

5. No matter what time of day or night it is, people are sitting in cafes. A few years ago, when I first quit full-time work, I was astonished at how busy Brunswick Street was on a Monday. I developed a theory that fifty percent of Melbournians are freelance, unemployed, or the idle rich. I am currently two of these things, so I'd know. Pass me the caviar, Jeeves.

I loved my holiday, with the adventures and the hedonism and the lack of responsibility and the sun and the free time stretching away ahead of me. Melbourne is cold and I've spent all my money. It's good to be home.

Home Again

I'm back in Melbourne today after being more or less stolen and forced to have a week long holiday, very much contrary to my original intentions.

Stew's instructions for packing were: you'll need to wear very warm clothes but take your bathers because it will be hot.

For a control freak like me, that's about as infuriating as packing instructions get.

Anyway, so in the past week I've been to the top of Mount Wellington in Tasmania (wear warm clothes), Manly beach (take your bathers), the Sydney (Art) Biennale (take your black skivvy) and Newcastle (take a camera).

And the answer is yes, I am definitely pretentious enough to tell everyone that I went to the Sydney Writers' Festival, the Melbourne Film Festival, the Sydney Biennale and the Melbourne Writers' Festival, all in a row. I suspect there was a craft festival somewhere in Tasmania or a cheese forum in Newcastle that I can take credit for as well. I really am culturally enriched, if a little pasty around the gills.

The biennale was a bit hit and miss actually. "Zones of Contact" not really the most inspiring theme, however ambitious. Having said that, some of it was excellent. The curator's tour, though, which we had planned our whole day around, was cancelled due to the fact that "he decided it wasn't worth coming". Inspiring words.

By the way, I've cheated on Crime and Punishment. I just couldn't cope with it anymore. Instead, I read the following while on my mystery birthday holiday:

- The History Boys, by Alan Bennett, one of my favourite playwrights.

- An Article in The New Yorker about Wikipedia (it's fascinating and it's here for any fellow nerds who might be interested)

- The start of The Sea, by John Banville.

Excellent holiday. Only one verdict really. Stew's hired.

Wrap up

So now I've turned umpty-nine. It's a good age. I've got this upcoming week off, and I will be watching little or no films, to make up for the following:

Bawke (one of the more interesting short films of the festival)

My Country My Country (about Iraqi elections)

4.30 (Singaporean, painfully long)

Passabe (story of an East Timorese man owning up to his part in the 1999 massacre, as part of the truth and reconcilliation process. Not the best docco but subject matter of course very interesting)

Global Haywire (Bruce Petty animated documentary that he calls a "dialogue" - flashes of brilliance including comments from the brilliant Robert Fisk, who should be briefing the White House).

Deliver Us From Evil (best documentary I saw in the festival, which had many good doccos. This one was about the Catholic Church. Not being religious, I didn't think it would get to me as much as it did. It was devastating. Brilliantly researched and made a real case showing that the abuse of kids has been part of the structure of the religious order for centuries).

Offside (funny Iranian film about women trying to watch a soccer match)

Em 4 Jay (Australian film about two junkies in love)

Heart, Beating in the Dark (remake of old Japanese film. Go the Japanese with their presumption that the audience is cleverer than they are).

Mind Game (Japanese anime. Completely insane).

... This means that I have seen, I think, forty-seven films in the last eighteen days.

Also, what it means, is that I am now on holiday for a week. I have no idea where I'm going, if indeed I am going anywhere, because Stewart has decided to "surprise" me with a "plan". Given that the word "Stewart" has never before been deliberately and un-ironically paired with the word "plan", and given also that the word "surprise" should be kept well away from the word "Lorin", I am anxious to find out how my future is going to pan out. I do know one thing. I don't think I will be seeing 47 films in the next eighteen days. If I can at all help it.

The World Goes On

While you watch four films in a row, the world goes on around you.

When you go to your first film, it is daylight and conservative MPs are crossing the floor in Parliament over the Migration Bill. When you come out, having seen a slow Iranian film, an animated Richard Linklater film, a nature film, and (accidentally, wrong cinema) an Australian film about kids in a small town... there are cabs all up and down the streets of Melbourne and the city rings with the voices of angry cab drivers on the steps of Parliament.

After eight hours of movies, the Migration Bill has passed. A man has been charged with the death of the taxi driver he (allegedly) threw from his cab. And you've turned another year older.

It's all a bit much to take in, really.

By the way, as well as the above, I'm adding to my list of films seen so far: Detour de France (about cycling but actually about Aussie blokes being disgraceful), Music in Exile (supposed to be about New Orleans musicians post-Hurricane-Katrina, but just a bit too full of white people telling about their pain for my liking), Tough Enough (German gangsters) and You're Gonna Miss Me. This last one was a corker. Docco similar to Capturing The Friedmans in many ways only with broader subject-matter and made by a first-time director.

Double-click, download...

Massive week for Standing There Productions. Deadlines, Film Festivals, weekend film shoots and yes, as you may have read in all the important newspapers, it’s my birthday on Friday.

Rita, Stew and Robin (who all worked on I Could Be Anybody ) shot a film on the weekend while I did a fair bit of writing and a fair bit of swearing at my computer. August is always stupidly busy, but who would have known that the annual festa that happens on August eleventh would be thrown into doubt…

I think I might celebrate my birthday some time in September. Meanwhile:

MIFF update

On Saturday I saw:
Iraq in Fragments, which was described as a poetic documentary about Iraq in three parts. It certainly was poetic, wonderfully shot. It was astonishing really, but I think I probably got more out of In The Shadow of The Palms . Iraq in Fragments was still shattering, which it would be hard not to be if you were a documentary about Iraq.

I then saw Hunt Angels , which was about the Australian film industry (in other words it was a snuff film) (shoosh no it wasn't).

Sunday:
Linda Linda Linda, which was Japanese. So far the Japanese are winning the "best country" category (aided by the fact that I have only seen two Japanese films so far and they were two of the best I've seen). This one took a while to grow on me but I can still sing you the main chorus of the song sung by the band all throughout the film. Also, it made me want to go to high school in Japan. How much FUN were those kids HAVING exactly!?!??! I remember high school being fun and all, but there wasn't a daytime festa and a fluid sense of time and a pancake baking session during lunch time and stuff. Massively robbed.

Then saw the hideous (in a good way?) Longing , which had a fairly high walk-out rate, many of them women. Interesting in that it was a film about infidelity on the part of a man who can't communicate in a relationship with two women, in a film directed by a woman. (And the only reason Claire and I didn't walk out was that we were engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the screen, each other, and anyone else we thought might benefit. Sorry about that).

Then, Lunacy. The title pretty much sums it up. Check out the photo on the website. It's an Eastern European horror film where the director appears at the start of the film to tell us it's not art, and then disappears to make way for an insane asylum and a whole lot of raw chops having meat-sex.

Monday: In Between Days (about a Korean girl living in America. Gentle and real but the highlight for me was the sound - the snow crunching, the breathing, the wind). Mutual Appreciation was great for any writer to see because the dialogue and the characters were so unbearably true. Cringe-makingly true.
Then The Willow Tree, about a blind Iranian man who suddenly sees again. Reminded me of an article I read by Oliver Saks once, in The New Yorker, which was about how people deal with blindness (do they still "see" in their mind's eye or do they drop the idea of vision completely and learn the world in another way. Also very interesting on how depressing it often is for people to regain site after years of blindness). The article is here.

Then last night I saw Shooting Dogs, which is about Rwanda and was made in collaboration with survivors of the events the story is based on. I found myself being annoyed by the performances of the two central white men in it, whose "acting" seemed a bit out of place in a real (and horrible) story.

Prairie Home Companion, the screenplay of which was written by Garrison Keillor (hurrah). Very funny, and also good to see from a writer's perspective because of the Robert Altman "dialogue running across itself" thing. Also, check out the cast list. Yikes. Next was The Host, which I adored despite the fact that it had a huge monster in it that terrorised the public. Usually, I hate that crap. This one was Korean. Right up there with the Japanese, the Koreans. Completely hilarious and dangerously out of genre. Yay.

I am completely exhausted. Standing There Productions is taking next week OFF. Right off. No films, no meetings, no nothing. We won't know what to do with ourselves.

Messy

After days of doing nothing but writing to a deadline, I have decided what I would like for my birthday.

A maid.

United 93

I wanted to read about the film I saw last night, "United 93" (the first film about the September 11 attacks) and I found this , which just raises so many questions I don't know where to begin.

The film was brilliantly done in many ways although don't see it before a long flight, be my advice. I left my wallet in the cinema so Standing There Productions then lost two script hours to me sitting around waiting for the guy in Row C to stop sitting on my wallet like maybe he enjoyed it. Weirdo.

Anyway it's the third and my birthday is on the eleventh so you guys still have heaps of time to make me a prize. Lastly, a special thanks to the guys out the back of my house who made it so much more challenging for me to write to a deadline, by sawing and grinding with the loudest machines in Melbourne all afternoon for the last two days in a row. You guys are awesome.

The Best and the Worst

Last night and tonight featured the best and the worst two films I have so far seen at MIFF, and this afternoon also delivered the worst and the best letter I have ever had the pleasure of receiving from Telstra.

Telstra, for those of you who haven't been listening, is allegedly a telecommunications company. See here for my previous mystifying dealings with Telstra this year. Now, should Telstra ever choose to entirely fund a Standing There Productions feature film, I am sure I will find it in my heart to forgive them. But I will never forget this journey:

1. Over six months ago: closed my account with Telstra
2. Since then, keep receiving bills from Telstra for 67 cents every month
3. Bills have "DO NOT PAY UNTIL NEXT BILL" written next to the 67 cents
4. Then, the next month, receive exact same bill as above
5. This happens for months
6. Call Telstra, express doubts regarding efficiency of system
7. Assured by Telstra communications expert that this problem has now been solved
8. Today, receive two page bill for $0.00
9. Written next to this "total" are the words "PAYMENT IS NOT REQUIRED".
10. There is a little graph comparing my bill totals to this time last year - handy!

... If you wrote Animal Farm or 1984 or whatever in contemporary times, I reckon Telstra would have to rate a mention.

Movies:
Most bizarre film EVER (requires sitting patiently and attempting to understand Japanese humour) is Funky Forest: First Contact . I'm certainly not running around telling everyone to go and see it, because you could love it, or you could hate it. I loved it. It was genuinely insane but it still worked on a narrative level. The dialogue was great. The images were brilliant. The ideas were whacked. The official site is here (takes a year and a half to load and lots of it is in Japanese, but who cares).

And the worst film so far? Gabrielle. French film. Tortured discussion by two tortured French people about their tortured relationship. For two hours. One of those ones where you sit there thinking "LEAVE HIM! KILL HIM! SOMETHING!". Also, almost the entire thing was out of focus. So glad I invited my friend Claire for a fun night out to the movies.

Have also seen over last two nights:
Guernsey - I've seen films like this a thousand times but it was well done.
Slumming - excellent performance in a really good film by a guy who has a genuinely fluid face. It is as though his face melts between horror, pain, joy, and mental instability, all at the one time. (Kind of like my face during Gabrielle ). Good to see a film that isn't a comedy but has the guts to be funny, too. Really liked this one.

In other news - one project deadline down, two to go. Such a good feeling to get your homework in on time.