Archive for the ‘film’ Category

Visual literacy and censorship

September 19, 2011

Spot the obscenity!

This image from the poster for the play Tender napalm recently caused controversy here in Perth and was banned by the Public Transport Authority:

Tender Napalm poster imageI find this poster for the film Friends with benefits is far more obscene (take a look at their fingers!):

Friends with Benefits poster

but didn’t appear to attract controversy.  I saw it recently at Darling Harbour in Sydney, (can anyone confirm if it was used in Perth?  I assume so as it’s the poster on Sony Pictures Australia’s site.)

Is it just me or is there something out of kilter in the way we define obscenity?  Or are the censorious not visually literate?

(And just in case you are wondering, I wouldn’t call for the banning of either poster)

Oranges and Sunshine – Charity and Ghosts

June 17, 2011

Empty Cradles / Margaret HumphreysAround about 1994 I was browsing in New Edition bookshop in Fremantle and picked up a copy of Margaret Humphreys‘ book Empty Cradles.  I glanced at the beginning, began reading and was hooked.  I bought the book, took it home and read it straight through.  Now that compelling, horrifying, compasionate book has made it to the screen as the equally compelling, horrifying, compassionate film Oranges and Sunshine.

This is the story of the foundation of the Child Migrants Trust.  Of how, in 1986, Nottingham Social worker Margaret Humphreys’ work with adoptees led her to two women who’s lives had been devastated by forced child migration.  At first skeptical that Britain could’ve sent children across the world without parents or foster families, Margaret (Emily Watson), with the support of her husband Merv (Richard Dillane) works to find the women’s families.  To help them she visits Australia and makes the discovery that child migration affected more than just a handful of  children.  Her work snowballs as more and more “orphans” (as they were called, though many had parents living) come forward for assistance.  David Wenham and Hugo Weaving play Len and Jack, two of these damaged men, men who were promised the “Oranges and Sunshine” of the title, but for whom the reality was hardship and abuse.  Margaret and Merv’s lives are taken over  by the the quest to find the now grown children’s families before it is too late.Oranges and Sunshine

Directed by Jim Loach (son of Ken Loach) Oranges and Sunshine is a brilliant recreation of the mood of the book, the acting is understated, with Watson, Wenham and Weaving conveying worlds of emotion in the tiniest gesture.  My only quibble is that as a West Australian I had some trouble accepting Adelaide and South Australia as stand-ins for Perth and Western Australia (I had the same problem with Shine) but it’s not a criticism of this brilliant and moving film.

Margaret’s work for Child Migrants was recognised in Australia in 1993 when she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, and in Britain this year (2011) when she received a CBE.  The West Australian Government apologised to Child Migrants for their treatment in 1998, the Australian Government in 2009, and the British Government in 2010.

Go and see Oranges and Sunshine – no Australian or Briton should miss it.

I’ll leave you with another moving tribute to Child Migrants, Charity and Ghosts by the Stillsons.

Catching up on local culture

June 9, 2011

A surprising number of films have been made in WA, and I’m rather ashamed to say I’ve seen very few of them. Some I’ve only seen a few scenes from, whilst channel surfing on late night TV.
Now I’m getting the chance to catch up, with the State Library of WA’s contribution to the City of Perth’s Winter Arts Festival:WA films @ the State Library

It starts tonight with Nickel Queen

and continues with the windsurfing film Windrider (nostalgia! I used to windsurf in the 80s), Under the lighthouse dancing and concludes with Lucky Miles

Lots to look forwards to!

20110609-092824.jpg
Me (in pink), windsurfing in the 80s!

Fable vs doco

January 21, 2009

Occasionally corny dialogue and outlandish co-incidences emphasise [the film’s] fable qualities.  Audiences expecting documentary-style realism do themselves a disservice.

The Weekend Australian January 17-18 Inquirer p. 17

Hmm, now which film could they be talking about? If you read my earlier post you might just think this is about Australia – but no, it’s Danny Boyle’s fabulous (in every sense of the word) film Slumdog MillionaireEvidently there’s some criticism in India of the negative/stereotypical portrayal of that country in this film.   Ah… prophets are always without honour in their own countries.  (And yes, I do know that Danny Boyle isn’t Indian, but in many ways Slumdog is an Indian film!)

Australia

January 12, 2009
Sun Pictures - Broome

Sun Pictures – Broome,
originally uploaded by Figgles1.

Last week I went with some family members to see Baz Luhrman’s epic Australia. The film’s been getting some pretty bad press here, but we thought we’d better go ‘cos we like Baz – Moulin Rouge is the only film I’ve seen three times in a cinema and I went from not being not too sure about it to loving it.  Aside from the usual tall poppy syndrome, it appears that Australia has failed to please those who want a quick hit – it’s a film you need to savour on its own terms.  My brother-in-law (who’s not famous for cultural analysis) came out of the cinema saying “do you think you’d see more things in it if you saw it again?”

Perhaps it’s worth looking at Baz Luhrmann as a quintessentially post-modern director:

postmodernists suggest that truth is no longer verifiable, and that new art forms are best created by freely mixing previous styles and themes.

http://filmplus.org/thr/dic4.html

If you look at Australia through this lens then it all makes sense – the use of pastiche (e.g. sweeping patriotic WWII pictures that I used to watch as a child as midday matinees on TV on summer days when it was too hot to go outside);  Jedda (the drover’s dog) – check the plot to the 1955 film Jedda and you’ll find a young Aboriginal child torn between cultures… ; the motif of Oz (Aus=Oz in Australian slang, there’s a thesis worth of history on this one!) the variations on Waltzing Matilda and other songs on the soundtrack on it goes…

Lots more quotes and references – I need to see the film again!  Should this be what a movie is about, a sort of giant puzzle?  Yes there is a lot to puzzle out but I think the film is bigger than that and should be seen and enjoyed and thought about.

Some other thoughts…

The other enjoyment is the scenery – filmed in the Kimberley and Bowen (Qld) between us we’d been to most locations.  You can’t visit the top end without bringing a part of the country back in your soul and anyone who has been there can’t fail to be moved by the grandeur recreated on screen (even if the King George River gorge was moved next door to the Bungle Bungles!)

Not historically accurate? Well, you may as well criticize Moulin Rouge for not accurately depicting the conditions of courtesans in Paris, we’re dealing with Baz, not Ken Loach!

Nicole Kidman?  I’d love to see her forehead move, these words kept coming to mind…

Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null, Dead perfection; no more. — Tennyson.

(And this post isn’t the place to discuss how I know most of my Shakespeare and Tennyson from reading Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers!)

And finallly…

How about this juxtaposition of pre film ads (play them together for best effect)!

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