August 2007

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In Sickness And In Wealth

Yesterday, I was struck? Became stricken? Was struckerated? Let me try that again: I have been struck down with a cold/flu/hideous head cold type of arrangement. About three years ago, I used to get sick all the time. Back in those days, being sick was depressing. It was oppressive and personal - largely because it was ongoing and I was supposed to be getting work done.

Nowadays, (providing I'm not too sick) it's kind of an enforced break. I'm the only person I disappoint (tonight I am missing the wonderful Shane Koyczan at the Malthouse) and I'm costing MYSELF money, rather than other people, so I don't feel quite so guilty or resentful, and I don't feel obliged to do... well... anything.

As a result, check out my achievements over the past two days:

1. Finished reading a novel that has been driving me completely insane (We Need To Talk About Kevin). I'm one of those people who watches a thriller where everyone is cruel and vile and it gets to the end and I say to the person sitting next to me, "So WHAT? What the hell am I supposed to do with that?" This is a little bit how I feel when I read a book about people who can't communicate and who end up being vile to each other for no reason with violent consequences. It was interesting that it was a woman writing about not liking her son who turned out to be involved in a school massacre but it seemed contrived to me, and deliberately directionless. Anyway. That's what I thought. So I finished it. And then I went outside.

2. Went for a walk to the park and lay about on the grass with the sun on my sick face.

3. Looked at everyone else in the park, lying on the grass, and wondered who they all were. Where did they come from? Are they all sick, too? Are they chucking sickies and they're not really sick? Are they internet people or shift workers or consultants? One of them, as I stumbled dumbly past, called the other one "a bit slack", so possibly the herald sun should get down there, pronto.

4. Started a book of short stories by Miranda July. Oh Miranda, you're so clever.

*Adds to list of literary crushes*

5. Dawdled on facebook. Check this out (thanks to Josh):

... makes me think I fall a little too heavily on the "got language and opposable thumbs" side and a little too scantily on the "got short term memory" side. What was I saying etc etc.

6. And half cleaned my bedroom. Some days when I'm WELL don't go as productively as these two. Yay for the flu. Now, bugger off please flu. I can't afford this.

What do you do?

Explaining to somebody at a party what it is exactly that you do is hard for anyone, I expect, apart from possibly:

The Queen ("Oh yes, and what does that involve?")

A dentist ("What particular area of dentistry, exactly?")

The Prime Minister ("Excuse me, I just remembered my car is double parked, could you hold my drink?")

A teacher ("Some of you people are volunteering to stay in after three thirty")

or

Possibly, Nelson Mandela ("Care to dance?").

If you're not doing one of these jobs, chances are you have to answer questions like, "What kind of doctor? Oh, really? Could you look at my hives?"

As a writer who also directs and has a small production company but works part time in a legal organisation and who has a law degree but is not a lawyer, it tends to get a bit tedious half way through about Act II of my explanation. I therefore dumb it down, which does me no favours and involves a fair bit of fudging and the waving of hands through sections I would rather not explain, making it seem as though I am a writer who operates a seedy drug ring on my days off.

I met one or two of my personal heroes on the weekend, including Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, who are everything I dreamed they would be, and also they are human beings made out of cells and so on, which came as somewhat of a surprise. In my head, they were an institution. They were a blockbuster fiction. They were a way of life.

I came across several other peeps on the weekend to whom I was required by social necessity to explain myself, and I found that my common problem (I'm a writer... er, and a director... well, theatre mostly but also...) is a problem shared by many people.

I actually heard someone describe their profession as "Part time motivational speaker. The rest of the time I just look for work", which made me feel a little less conflicted. Part time motivation, part time lack of motivation. Depressing or hilarious? Tis a fine line.

In other news, global warming apocolyptic meltdown notwithstanding, today is a gorgeous day in Melbourne for the riding of brand new bikes purchased at www.unibicycles.com.au - as I'm sure you'll all agree. If things get a little eerie at about 8pm on your ride home, though, don't worry. Apparently the sun and the earth and moon are in perfect alignment. Or something extraordinary and humbling that I am sure to forget about while we have a standing there productions meeting inside a brightly lit vegie bar.

Solipsistic? Exactly.

new fangled technology

I tell you who might be embarrassed right now?

The cops who interviewed Dr Haneef. The transcript of their interview of him was released to the public yesterday, and it wasn't exactly damning of anyone - more of a boring night in the cop shop by the looks of things.

So the cops won't be embarrassed because of how they treated him (they followed all the rules and had breaks so he could pray and eat and rest - hell, they even joked around a little bit at one particularly hilarious point when Haneef's lawyer had a coughing fit) but they might be a bit embarrassed because they spent probably eighty percent of the interview trying to work out:

- What's this Islam thing then, eh?

- Can you spell that for me?

- Here's a piece of paper. Can you write that down?

- Am I saying that right? I'm not, am I?

- And that's in India, is it?

... and, my favourite series of questions:

- Yahoo groups. What's that? That's an internet thing is it, the Yahoo groups? And what do you need in order to use that? You send photos and messages? It's a message group, is that right? It's a chat room?

... You're just desperate for one of their kids to come in and go, "Dad, gawd, you're so embarrassing. It's not THE yahoo groups, and it's not something you SEND photos through, it's... Never mind. Shove over. Let me ask the questions."

And then, last night, Kevin Andrews gets on the telly and says that this Dr Haneef character was talking to people in a computer room, by which he means chat room, and that the things he said in the chat room are things we're not allowed to know about. Ever.

Do the authorities not have computers? Is there anyone under thirty anywhere who can help these people? They're not exactly going to crack the crime syndicates if they don't know what a Yahoo Group is, are they.

Otherwise, though, props to the cops for following protocol and being nice to the doctor. It's more than most people have managed.

Writing

So the thing about writing is that you have to believe you're good at it. You have to believe that your particular take on this particular topic is interesting to other people. You have to imagine your audience, which means you have to imagine you have an audience.

In the months since our last show with an actual audience (hurrah! they DO exist!) it has been back to the drawing board (or, to be more precise, the yellowing laptop) and the imagining of an audience there is no proof of.

Sometimes, I just want something concrete to do. Something I tick on a list. Something I can give myself an A for. Sometimes I wish I was good at maths. Correct, says the red pen. Ten out of ten. Or even four out of ten. Even a fail. A bit of an objective marker, against which words and ideas can be rated out of ten.

Sometimes... and I know there are some of you who will be narrowing their eyes at me sternly when I say this... sometimes I wish I worked in the corporate world and received performance reviews. At least that way I could resent the powers that be for misjudging my dedication or for accusing me of lackluster sales figures or something...

But I AM the powers that be. Which is a terrible indictment on the process, just quietly.

I wonder if writers are more often than not control freaks. I am. I'm a control freak in the rest of my life. I have to drive the car. I have to read the program in the foyer before I see a theatre show. I have to win the Nintendo Wii tennis game, or else I will force the person I am playing into rematch after rematch until we've all missed dinner and I'm sweating and panting and saying "Just this one more time".

Even in the activities that I love that have nothing to do with writing or with winning, I find lack of control the most frustrating impediment - as if the world is conspiring against my perfecting of the perfect frisbee throw, my telling of the entertaining story, or my cycling home into the perfect sunset without getting a red light and having to waddle on my bike over to the pedestrian button and press it lots of times in order to convince the red light that there are lots of people waiting to cross.

This is a sad psychological state of affairs. Even sadder when you think about the fact that, as a control freak, this is one system you cannot reform. Because if we DID rate writing out of ten, and if there WAS a way we could determine the value of writing on a sliding scale, then we would be doing what so many people (erhem) find objectionable about literary prizes and arts grants - we would be pretending that subjective judgement is objective, or that popularity is success, or that it isn't...

Anyway. Isn't the winter sun lovely?

Sitting in it and drinking a coffee the size of a bluetongue lizard. Now that's something I can give myself ten out of ten for.

PS Check out these news stories and tell me there isn't something richly bizarre about humankind: Slapstick Driver Hits The Gas and this, which is proof that comedians will do anything for a laugh. As if we needed more proof of that.

Language

When asked to comment on the otherwise unremarkable story about Kevin Rudd having attended a strip club, Peter Beattie, the Premiere of Queensland, said that he thought it might even good for the Opposition Leader's ratings because it "proves he's got blood in his veins".

This reminded me of something.

It reminded me of the stereotyping we learned about when we studied rape cases in criminal law. The "red-blooded male" who was just doing what came naturally. It took hundreds of years (and we're still squinting if we think we're there) before the common law realised that "red blooded" blokes acting in a boys-will-be-boys kind of comraderie is not a biological fact that need not be deconstructed or examined. The relative self-control of each gender when it comes to any form of human behaviour has not so far been proven a biologically determined trait. Or at least, not so far as the courts now see it.

Of course, Kevin Rudd merely went to a sleazy bar. Apart from using tax payers' time to go on a bender and engage in some not-exactly-feminist entertainment, he didn't transgress anyone's individual freedom or commit any crime. Men and women go to sleazy bars all the time and nobody gives a crap, but the idea that he somehow gave in to his natural macho yearning because he has "blood in his veins" is a bit dangerous. Or, maybe the language itself is dangerous, because I've heard it before and it's assuming a few things I don't think can be substantiated.

By the way, it looks like Beattie was right. Brendan Nelson's gone "ME TOO! I went to a strip club too!" Doesn't make much of a case for the clientelle in these bars does it. Full of politicians. Gross.

Writing Technology

I read in the newspaper this morning that parents and teachers are concerned about broadband internet being available in classrooms because it might prove detrimental to learning.

You reckon?

Here are the top ten things that distract me from getting any writing done. Ever. In order:

1. The internet generally. So pregnant with possibilities. So educational. So easy to write off as "research" or "inspiration".

2. Email. Combined with The Guilt of not writing is The Secondary Guilt of not getting back to amusing friends you do not deserve in the first place on account of points 1 - 10.

3. Facebook. So boring, so uninspiring, and yet so constantly in need of being checked just in case someone has set their status to "____ is pregnant" or similar.

4. Text messages and social life - or, more recently, deterrence of social life. The preventing of a social life in order that I may proceed further as an antisocial writer locked in a hermitage, all of which is proved redundant on account of numbers 1 - 10.

5. Bills, rent, going shopping, getting haircuts (once a year if being particularly diligent) - all of which I do with a great deal of resentment because I am not writing. Which I don't do much anyway, as you can see from points 1 - 10.

6. Cleaning and organising things because deadlines are pending. EG cleaning computer keyboards with toothbrushes or organising books according to Dewey Decimal Classification system. (I'm just kidding, obviously. My books are alphabetised into sections. You borrow one and you may need to fill out a form.)

7. Writing here on this very site - see those extra long entries recently? I was supposed to be doing something on those days. I was supposed to be really cracking the back of my work on those days. Those days were days that had been carefully put aside for the creating of new and exciting Standing There Productions projects. Yup. Sure did have a lot to do on those days.

8. Youtube. Particularly Japanese gameshows. Also political speeches. See "research", above.

9. Doing paid work, getting excercise, doing anything really that can fit neatly on the "virtuous" side of the ledger rather than the "YOU ARE BETRAYING YOURSELF" side of the ledger.

10. Watching DVDs and films. See reference to "research", above.

So yes, look, if I were a student I'd be arguing for broadband in the classroom, but for crying out loud, they already watch The Simpsons on their iPods when they're supposed to be learning about fractions. For the sake of the children, ban the internet!

PS. Thanks to Paul and Rits for their favourite MIFF lists. We must have gone to three separate film festivals. Can't wait to see the general releases when they come out. I see in the paper today that MIFF met its budget, which it won't reveal. That must be nice for them! I SPENT MINE! God, next year, let's remember to PACK SANDWICHES, guys.

Advice

Here's some advice: go outside and enjoy the sky.

Today is lovely.

Try riding your bike.

Woman Runs World

The ABC has run with "Woman Appointed to High Court" as their headline today.

Reminds me of Simpsonsesque headlines such as "Crazed Albino Monkey Appointed Speaker In Parliament".

Funny that they didn't run with "Government-Approved Political Conservative Appointed to High Court"... but then who am I to judge. I'm a woman.

End of MIFF, start of rest of life

I don't know if it's the novelty wearing off (this is my second year with a full festival pass) but this year's MIFF was ALMOST completely uninspiring.

What makes me say almost is the documentaries. Other than the documentaries and a few stand-out films (Teeth and Eagle Versus Shark which will get a release anyway) there was nothing but bleak, grim, and baffling.

Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that. So long as there's something to counter-balance it. (I have to be careful here because I suspect film funding in this country at least is dependent on the liberal use of the words "bleak" and "harrowing" in 100 word synopses).

But, as we can see from the most seriously bleak subject matters (for example War Tapes, a gruesome documentary about the Iraq war which actually had the audience laughing), there has to be a point to the bleak and harrowing, or else at least some degrees within it (some unharrowing non-bleak elbow room) in order for an audience to gain anything from the experience. Otherwise, one gets the impression that life is comprised of silent brooding individuals bursting with malcontent, wandering barren landscapes with bare limbs and a latent sexual yearning.

Just saying. It's a style. I find it boring. Bit of variety would be nice.

I hereby rate some of the films I saw according to the above rant:

4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days - bleak (about abortion), includes silent brooding and mild malcontent. A Bleakness rating of 8.5 (some hope for humanity hinted at through main character). My rating: 5 (points for actually telling a story and for the way it was shot, which made Stewart want to move to Budapest).

Zoo - bleak (about "animal lovers" if you get my bleak and harrowing drift), includes music that would drive the will to live out of most people, also contains dark and brooding re-enactment scenes. Actually a pretty ordinary documentary - badly put together.

Once - mildly bleak but thick layers of optimism through the ludicrously optimistic medium of song. Bleakness rating: 3 (everyone looked cold and poor and their lives were in ruins). My rating: 5 (would be more but the motion of the camera made me want to hurl on the person in front of me). Very pleased it ended the way it did, which was both bleak and also not bleak.

Also, don't Irish people sound gorgeous when they say the word "gorgeous"?

Lost in Bejing - holds the honour of being the only film I walked out of. Bleakity bleak bleak. Worse still: bleak without purpose. Also, any film that supposes rape is funny and we don't ever find out why (I got someone to tell me the ending) is in my opinion a shit film. Bleak rating 9 (but I feel this gives it too much street cred - it wasn't even TRYING to be bleak. It thought it was funny and endearing. Which made it accidentally bleak. Which is somehow worse). My rating: 0.5 (that's because there was a scene with the husband singing while he ate noodles which reminded me of someone I liked once).

Great World Of Sound - flat, depressing, predictable, infuriating. I heard someone trying to explain the point of it to someone else afterwards and their friend replied, "But so what?" So what indeed. It was about people who were conned, which is interesting if a) the con is interesting or b) it's an actual documentary (like Conman Confidential, which was excellent). Bleakness rating: 8.5 (low rating due to pointlessness of bleakness reducing bleakness impact). My rating: zero. Should have left for this one too, but thought the ending might be a zinger. Ha. Ha. Ha.

9 Star Hotel - had the advantage of being a documentary, so at least it's a TRUE bleak situation. About Palestinians working illegally on Israeli housing construction. Bleakness rating: 7. Mine: 3.

Hot House - again at least it was a bleak documentary. About Hamas being operated from Israeli jails. Bleakness rating: 6. Mine: 4, just because listening to people talk about suicide bombing on behalf of future generations is something you don't come across too often in the western media.

Wrestling With Angels: Tony Kutchner. Documentary about a playwright. Bleakness rating: 0.5. My rating: 7 (documentary too long and not that brilliant but subject matter carried it).

Your Mommy Kills Animals. Documentary about animal welfare and animal rights groups with a terrorist twist. Bleakness rating: 1 (all questions were answered - all bleak and harrowing possibilities were explained and you knew what to do with them... where to go next, what needed addressing etc. Bleakness with direction.) My rating: 8.5

Beyond Our Ken - brilliant documentary. This is one of the hopes of the side this year. Bleakness rating: 1 (if only because stuff like that happens to people like Cornelia Rau, but it's not super bleak due to the fact that things like this documentary exist to present alternative viewpoints for people - such as several in the audience - who need to question kenja). Check it out, this will get a release. My rating: 10.

We Are Together - documentary about South African AIDS orphans singing. Kind of like Choir of Hard Knocks but South African and the orphanage burns to the ground while people die of HIV infections and Paul Simon pats people on the heads. Bleakness rating: I would say 5 but actually 2 because the uplifting elements and the clever construction of the docco mean it never feels flat or drifty. My rating 9.

Sicko - docco. Coming out in a minute (another problem with this year's film festival - what do you MEAN they were trying to get The Simpsons Movie as the opener??). Bleakness rating: 1 (outweighed by humour - thanks Mike). My rating 9.

The Boy On The Galloping Horse - bleak story about noncommunicative family bursting with unsaid long-buried discontent, headed nowhere, through beautiful scenery. Very surprised to see it didn't receive funding from any Australian film bodies, but I guess there were no lakes photographed and nobody glanced upwards towards a blistering sun at any point, so it probably missed out due to those oversights. And, you know, it's not Autralian. But then, neither is Spielberg and his projects get subsidised. Bleakness rating 10. Mine: 1.

Grace Is Gone - great film about a war widower (John Cusack). Bleakness rating 6. Mine: 9 (bleakness tempered by sensitive handling of subject matter, lovely performances, nonbleak ending).

Conman Confidential - documentary about conmen. Bleakness rating 1. Mine: 9.5.

The Hottest State - Ethan Hawke's film. Bleakness rating 1. Mine: 9. I was so glad to be watching a film that wasn't "harrowing" that my rating of this might be tempered by glee. Still, liked it. Shut up.

The Cats of Mirikitani - yay - documentary which addresses historical and cultural bleakness AND personal triumphs in a way that isn't remotely patronising or sentimental! Huzzah! Bleakness rating: 0. Mine: 10.

Interview - Steve Buchemi attempting to be Woody Allen. Bleakess rating: 1. Mine: 4.5.

Time - South Korean film about plastic surgery. Bleakness: 5 but add 1 for baffling WTF element. Me: 3.

How Is Your Fish Today? Baffling, bleak, scenery implying world failing to understand inner turmoil unexpressed by anyone. Bleakness: 8.5. Me: 1.

Yella. Oh shut up you bleak, baffling, pointless, meandering, beautiful, wafting thing. B: 10. M: 1.

There are about fifteen more but WHO CARES!

Now, back to our usual programming.

Deadlines! Huzzah!

Compare and Contrast.

It is very depressing to (in the midst of one of your more depressing bouts of writer's block) sit back in your chair at the State Library and think to yourself, "I can't concentrate with all that noise", only to wander down to the source of the commotion and read the sign that says "PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARDS SHORTLIST ANNOUNCEMENT".

Do you ever sometimes think the world is trying to tell you something?

I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS KID

How glorious must it feel to gain national press coverage for stirring the foreign minister into accusing a seventeen year old of being a Labor Party hack... I know it's the kind of thing I used to dream of when I was at school.

Check it out.

A Canberra Times article opens with the delicious sentence: "In an astonishing outburst, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday accused a 17-year-old Canberra schoolboy of being a stooge for the Labor Party."

... but my favourite is the closer from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Alexander later made a point of shaking Mr Downer's hand and denied being affiliated with any political party. He said he thought the minister was being a "bit paranoid".

Apeeeheeee!

I reckon Alex is right on the money.

PS Why is this TV show not in regular prime time?

Coming from the direction of England

Check this out.

It might just be the pointless new layout of The Age online today but my God the news is odd. What with this article about a giant lego man coming "from the direction of England" and being "later placed behind a drinks stall" (huh?), a woman with the pencil in her brain (see below) and the fact that Geelong is apparently just like Baghdad, you would think there was nothing important to discuss.

Like, I dunno, this or this teensy little story here.

Giant Lego man. Got to love the dudes who thought they'd chuck that into the sea and see what happened.

Hey, let's make a short film about a woman who's married to a famous boxing coach and who gets massive headaches and nosebleeds and suddenly remembers she has a pencil wedged in her brain, the removal of which might render her blind. We could include the following line from our main character:

"I remember tripping over and the pencil I was holding seeming to disappear."

Or we could re-enact that scene. A four year old girl, a bit of a stumble, a missing pencil, fifty-five years of blinding headaches. Check it out. Sometimes I think my life ain't so bad after all.

In other film news, here are some reviews:

We Are Together - a documentary about a South African orphanage full of kids whose parents died of AIDS, where the kids just happen to sing soulful, confident, gorgeous African songs with these enormous grins on their faces, while dreadful stuff happens all around them - more AIDS deaths, the orphanage burning to the ground, and... last but not least... salvation comes in the form of Alicia Keys and Paul Simon solemnly patting kiddies' heads and proving once again that white men ain't got no rhythm. Still, they raised enough money to build another orphanage so at least they're using their best intentions for the best results. Great docco because it reminds viewers that Africans die of AIDS while we in the West have drugs. That was the one thing I was left wondering, though: did these families know how to prevent HIV?

And, one more for the "dreadful and shithouse" list: Great Wall Of Sound. I was actually angered by this film. It was so frustrating, so depressing but with such little purpose, and it led nowhere, said nothing, and taught me only that two hours is a long time.

This was okay - interesting because of the people in it and because of the whole concept of Palestinians building mansions for Israelis while they live in cardboard boxes (also includes a very interesting conversation about "their holocaust" versus "our holocaust") but otherwise a little too gentle and wafty and going nowhere we haven't been before.

Beyond Our Ken, on the other hand, was a brilliant example of a documentary that you don't think you "need" to see (because it's about an Australian "energy transferral" cult) but when you leave you feel like you've been exposed to a certain kind of behaviour that teaches you what humans are capable of - ie you've watched an actual megalomaniac psychopath in action. And his victims. Also, the filmmakers cannot have predicted the ending, but they did a brilliant job of leading us towards it. This one should get a release.

Hot House - another depressing film about the middle east, in this case a documentary about Hamas and how it's partly run out of the Israeli prison system. I was a bit sleepy during this film (it was at The Greater Bloody Union - a sleep chamber) but the film was interesting in parts - particularly the bit where an ex-newsreader mother of three kids talked about why she helped a suicide bomber blow up a restaurant full of Israeli kids, then went to work and did a news report on the massacre, knowing she might be put away for life and never see her kids again.

Also saw a documentary about Tony Kushner who wrote Angels in America. Made me wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life, but it was great to see. Not the best docco in the world (could have done without the endless music rehearal scenes in the middle) but a very inspiring glimpse at a playwright who can get away with writing a seven hour play. Also, I'd love to see his Maurice Sendak collaborations.

Shame - documentary about a Pakistani gang rape enacted apparently "legally" on a woman to avenge another family's daughter's honour. Some of the key facts were hazy and the documentary was rambling and strangely put together, but it was an interesting demonstration of different kinds of power. The rape victim had no power and lived in constant fear, but when her story hit the Western press, she basically asked for electricity in her village and she got it. She asked for a school, she got it. Similar to the South Afrcian documentary above, the power of the West is a hideously double-edged sword.

One last thing. Check this out. Your Mommy Kills Animals - a documentary about something I studied at university, so I wasn't as surprised as some of the audience, but the new "terrorism" twist is interesting, particularly in the light of the new Federal police powers.

And that's enough for today. My Lord there are lot of films in the world - a lot of stories worth telling and a lot of stories best left untold. Also a lot of people standing in the foyer afterwards who must be wondering what's happened to my power of speech. It's official - three films in a row or more renders me rambling and confused. As you can tell.

Exaustimapated

Oh my God if I see one more film my head might explode.

There's a whole week left of the godforsaken festival, bless its cotton socks, I've loved almost every minute of it. HOWEVER:

Please no more sandwiches for dinner.
Please allow me to excercise my limbs in daylight hours.
Please no more cold home-made pasta in a tub eaten clandestinely under cover of darkness.
Please enough with the smell of popcorn.
Please never show me the friggin telstra ad again with the dog going for the walk.
Please just take all the seats out of Greater Union and let us sit on the floor. Heaps more comfortable and much less chance of accidentally sitting on the knee of the person next to you.
Please no more fun invitations to do exciting things from lovely friends which would involve actually going outside.
Please can we reschedule my birthday?

By the way, in case you're wondering what ELSE is going on, the films have been good/middling/excellent. I miss the Asian focus from last year, I realise, with the hilarious and gorgeous Japanese and Korean films. However, saw an Australian documentary about Kenja yesterday that was worth the Greater Union seats. Starting to think the docos are the highlight this year. Also liked Sicko, which was very Mike Moore but somehow he's now using that to his advantage. Plus, you know, he's no fool, and he's very good at what he does. Makes you want to move to France, too, which should piss off all the right people in America.

More updates on films as soon as I figure out what I've seen.

Deadlines Again

Another day another stinking deadline.

Deadlines make the film festival less fun because you spend the two hours of each film thinking, "This had better be worth me not writing that proposal for that thing that's due TOMORROW. COME ON, YOU STUPID FILM, SHOW YOUR TRUE COLOURS! Bah, piece of European psychological drama procrastinatorial CRAP!"

Anyway. Not that any of the films so far have been truly crap (with one or two exceptions, below). But, you know, the pressure is on in all sorts of ways.

I will write up on the other films I've seen so far but yesterday I saw The Hottest State, which I greatly enjoyed despite the odd dip into sentimentality - I think it was truly an interesting film (not least because of the casting choices - Ethan Hawke playing his own father, someone else playing his younger father, and someone else playing his young self, but also because of some of the writing, which was really lovely).

I saw a documentary about an American-born-Japanese homeless artist who was locked away by the American government during WWII for being an "alien" and who had his citizenship revoked. Here he is, sixty years later (aged 81) painting pictures in the streets of New York. Suddenly the planes hit the twin towers down the street and he's the only person left standing in the neighbourhood by night time. The filmmaker actually moves him into her house and gradually helps him sort his life out. The parables between his situation and the current fears that allow governments to lock people away and revoke their citizenship were not unnoticed but never preached. Hm. Yes, it rocked my socks. Just a really, really good documentary. It's called The Cats of Mirikitani, but it's not showing again in the festival, so google it and get the DVD.

Anyway shuttup I have work to do.

PS. Last night I sunk to the festival low: lamb souva for dinner in between films. Orange juice in case I get scurvy.