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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Palin on my mind

I'm sorry. I'm not sure I have the will power to leave this one alone. The emergence of Sarah Palin as the possible future President of the United States continues to engender an acute sense of disbelief in me.

Matt Damon agrees:

So does the New York Times:

"Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness." (full article here)

While many people might find comfort in that fact that they feel like Sarah Palin is "one of them", for the exact same reason, I am terrified.

Monday, September 15, 2008

MOVIE: Waltz with Bashir

I saw this superb movie yesterday. Spurred by the story of a recurring nightmare told to him by one of his close friends Ari goes in search of the source of one of his recurring images from his time as a 19 year old in the Israeli army during the war in Lebanon in 1982.

He seeks out friends who were also in Lebanon at that time, each of whom has their own particular nightmare to share. Fighting his own selective memory and feelings of guilt, Ari pieces the stories of his friends together with his own memories in order to journey to the source of his trauma, the witnessing of the aftermath of the massacre of Palistinean refugees at Sabra and Shatila.

The film merges documentary with animation as the audio of Ari's real-life interviews with his friends are spliced together and then animated in order to make the film. The animation allows the director creative license in illustrating the various accounts of the former Israeli solders' experiences and to some extent softens the grim reality of the content of their memories. Perhaps most effective of all however is the unexpected and paralyzing switch to real archive footage to remind the viewer of the fact that, despite the seductively comforting hues of the animater's brush, the story being described actually took place in a much more frightening reality.

I found myself reminded of the writings of Hannah Arendt on the Haulocaust. She writes of how the Nazi regime managed to rip the theoretical concepts of Heaven and Hell from the almost comforting realms of fantasy and render them in reality by creating Hell on Earth. The film is a potent reminder of the almost banal nature of the reality of a genocide when compared with the fear that the word itself can engender. When we think of genocide we think of a society out of control, which in its disorder has lost all sense of humanity. However, this film is a strong reminder that genocides tend to be highly-organised, specifically intended and carried out and often overseen by extra-ordinary people.

I know very little about the existence or attitude of the Israeli national conscience concerning the 1982 war in Lebanon. However, as I watched this film, I felt like I was witnessing the voicing of an important chapter, perhaps an as yet relatively unheard voice, in Israel's national identity.

The music is amazingly evocative and beautifully utilised.

Check out the trailer below.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

MOVIE: The Visitor

I went and saw this movie with Lauren on the weekend and was pleasantly entertained. If there's a criticism of the film it's that it maybe tries to cover too many topics in one film. You have the emotionally damaged (verging on autistic) professor who is unlocked by the strangest of friends, two illegal immigrants, who he discovers are staying in his abandoned New York apartment. Then the film takes a right hand turn as it delves into the injustice of US immigration policy, before doing a u-turn and getting back on the road to Hollywood with Professor Broken-Soul daring to find love after years without his wife. It's like watching Dead Poets' Society and Good Will Hunting and Rabbit Proof Fence and "any film where a guy gets over his wife's death by falling in love again with an exotic woman" all rolled into one... sort of.

Having said that, there are some nice moments which make you ask yourself some pretty harrowing questions. For anyone who has ever had a run in with the bureaucracy, there is a great scene at the end where our hero is asked to "step away from the window" by a unsympathetic immigration official. I found myself inscensed by the apathy of the officer as well as his cowardice in hiding behind the fact that he was "just following the rules". (Is it obvious I'm having issues with a certain French embassy?)

But it was enjoyable. Better than Batman. : )

Music is great.

All in all, treat it as a movie and not a Phd and you won't be disappointed.

To watch the trailer, click here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Oh no! We're still in Kansas Toto

Sarah Palin, John McCain's recent choice of "running-mate" ( Being a running-mate sounds like so much fun doesn't it? J: Let's go running, mate. S: Where to? J: To the Presidency. S: But John, there's no real road to the presidency. J: Don't worry running mate. Where we're going, we don't need roads!) just gave a speech defending herself and attacking Barrack Obama.

Some of my favourite quotes where:

"This is a man who can give an entire speech about the war's that America is fighting and never use the word 'victory' except when he's talking about his own campaign!"

"Victory is finally in sight in Iraq, and he wants to forfeit!"

I wouldn't have thought that even Bush would describe what is happening in Iraq as being 'victorious'.

And then there was this little doozy.

"Alqaeida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on america and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights."

This is the potential future president of the western world.

And just as a passing note, what is it with the Americans' pantomime cheering at these conventions? It's like the candidates can sneeze and everyone would cheer. I'd like to see one of the candidates sincerely try to say something only to have the crowd mindlessly cheer him on.

OBAMA: People. I'm sad. (Cheer) No really, this is all pretty crazy. I'm not coping very well. (Cheer) Don't you sometimes just wake up and go "why bother?"(Cheer) Guys, I'm serious (Cheer) God... I'm just so lonely. (Cheer) Don't you people ever think for yourselves? (Cheer) ... Sometimes I wish I could go collect the morning paper in nothing but my favourite pair of rubber underpants. (Pause... Spontaneous Cheer!)

If you think I'm exaggerating, click on the image above and have a listen.