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30 July 2006 @ 09:25 pm
MIFF update  
Well, the countdown is on until I am sane again and/or have time to myself. I'm getting through record amounts of work, and I'm three films into my Melbourne International Film Festival. This is a brief rundown of the films I've seen so far for anyone who's interested.

This film had a great premise but the execution was clumsy. Women are banned from sports stadiums in Iran, but some women do attend soccer matches by dressing as men. The film followed the stories of several girls who were caught breaking in to the Iran-Bahrain qualifier for the World Cup. The movie was introduced by the director, who explained that the idea for the story came about when his soccer-mad 11-year-old daughter wormed her way into a stadium after being refused entry with him. It was both confronting and fascinating to see quite how emotional the issue was to the Iranian characters--particularly the men. My favourite scene involved one of the soldiers escorting a girl to the (male-only) toilets and employing all sorts of farcical devices to avoid anyone identifying her as a woman and uncovering the transgression. But the absurdity of the entire thing is mind-blowing. The way the women acted more or less successfully as men was also interesting, and I liked the idea it raised that even in such a heavily policed segregated society, transgressions will occur.

As far as I was concerned, this was worth every cent, though the movie itself wasn't spectacular. Essentially it was a character study, a vehicle for Gyllenhaal to show off her acting prowess--fine by me, but it didn't transcend it's purpose in any way. The supporting cast were solid but nothing special. However, I could watch Maggie in just about anything. In this movie she played a young woman just out on parole after having been busting stealing to get money for drugs. Newly 'clean', she longs to reconnect with her daughter and struggles with the harsh reality of returning to a 'normal' life (in fact she lives in an artificial world run by support services and heavily policed). Maggie, as expected, made the character of Sherry very accessible and sympathetic, even in her failures. The heart of the story lay in the damaged and fragile connection between Sherry and her daughter, and Maggie brought to life all the tangled emotions bound up in it (frustration, pathos, anxiety, heartbreak). Also, purple jeans (Saint Etienne song, anyone?!). My favourite scene was Sherry's gorgeously awkward and heart-on-sleeve rendition of 'Eternal Flame', sung to her daughter at the family dinner table.

An inconvenient truth
Everyone knows the subject of this documentary, yes? Essentially it follows Al Gore as he presents his slideshow on global warming. Before and after his campaign for the US presidency, Gore has been travelling from city to city across the world to try and persuade people of the severity of global warming. There was very little that I didn't already know, but it's riveting viewing, and quite terrifying. The doco could be criticised for being US-centric, but that's kind of the point--the US is the world's leading contributor of greenhouse gases. At times it dwelt on Gore's personal life a little too much for my taste. I also wish he'd expended longer on telling people what they could actually do to change things (two minutes at the end, and some rolling advice in the credits wasn't enough if you ask me), but these are very minor complaints about what should be essential viewing for all world citizens. Gore conveys the science very clearly, so I'd recommend this for anyone who is confused about what's really going on when people discuss climate change, freak weather, global warming, etc. The entire cinema whimpered and groaned when it got to the discussion of the Kyoto Protocol and Australia had it's one and only mention in the doco--as the only other industrialised nation not to sign. Our Shame. I really hope this documentary raises discussion of this issue. It certainly motivated me to prioritise these concerns and to raise discussion of these matters with friends and family.

In other news, the Israel-Lebanon war is alternately breaking my heart and enraging me. It's getting to the point where I can barely watch the news. I'm sure my cries of frustration are not appreciated by my boy! Today I watched the Lebanese protest in Melbourne with a feeling of complete impotence. It makes me wish for a swifter-moving, more interventionist UN. There doesn't seem to be even a flicker of hope for a ceasefire any time soon.

That's all I got for now. But as I say, I can see a flicker at the end of the tunnel of busy-ness--not this week, but next week perhaps ...
Current Location: sofa of comfiness
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Becky: flowergiggleloop on July 30th, 2006 01:07 pm (UTC)
I want to see Inconvenient Truth SO badly, it's out here now, but I can't get anyone to go with me. My friends suck. :) I guess I'll have to go by myself before it's gone. Of course every time I mention global warming to anyone other than my husband, people just kinda shrug or roll their eyes. *sigh*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ericabop_radar on July 31st, 2006 02:51 am (UTC)
It's definitely worth seeing, and I know it can be hard to get people interested in docos, but this is not a really dry doco--it's well-paced, well-edited and accessible. But yes, global warming does make people yawn. It's made me yawn in the past! I feel terrible about that now. Definitely go by yourself if all else fails! At least then you can quote statistics at them to make them feel guilty. ;-)
Nora Norwich: Kara seriousnorwich36 on July 30th, 2006 01:30 pm (UTC)
Just like you, I was a little surprised that "An Inconvenient Truth" didn't have more suggestions for what people could *do* in it. On the other hand, no matter what Gore says, it is clearly an extended election ad for the 2008 presidential campaign (which is one reason for the US-centricity), and I think it was a very effective one. I've *never* seen Gore so affable or charismatic, and considering that his stiffness was one of the things against him in 2000, that's a good thing. (I expect that's also why there was a lot about his own life, but honestly I liked those parts--otherwise it would have been all powerpoint, and that would have gotten a little boring.)

THe other films sound very interesting.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois coffeebop_radar on July 31st, 2006 02:56 am (UTC)
*nods* Yes, he definitely wasn't stiff at all. To be honest, from a distance it makes it seem that his supposed 'stiffness' in the 2000 election was complete spin. But that's only because this is the longest amount of footage I've ever seen of him. I guess if I'd seen screeds of stiff campaigning, I'd be more surprised by the change in him. He comes across as extremely charismatic--and it's not easy to be charismatic while presenting PowerPoints!!

What you can actually DO about things is something I'm really interested in. The number of times I've walked out of talks or movies thinking 'right! this is a really important issue! I'm going to do something' and ended up doing nothing because I had no idea where to start really bothers me. Here in Australia especially perhaps, the left wingers spend a lot of time identifying problems and very little time actually taking actions to stop them. Of course the solution is for me to stop waiting for someone else to tell me what to do, and just do it myself... I'm working on that one! ;-)
nehellania on July 31st, 2006 04:12 am (UTC)
I hear you on the whole Israel vs. Lebanon thing. I've had to cut myself off from the news a few times in the past week or so, just because it started getting to me. It's gotten to the point where I end up rambling at anyone (including poor Bex) about how angry the whole thing makes me and why both sides are wrong in this case.

The UN is fairly impotent, imo. It's incredibly frustrating that this international body of nations have the power to do nothing but make decrees that they have no way or inclination to support with actual *action*

..Okay. Enough of my rambling.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on July 31st, 2006 06:28 am (UTC)
Mmph, yes. I am worrying that I will have to ban myself from the news--I don't like doing that, but it does happen every so often when I can't take the stupidity of the world any more. I agree there's blame on both sides, but the complete imbalance of the consequences is making it hard for me to sympathise with Israel--37 Lebanese children in one strike! That's just heartbreaking! Their 'anyone in Southern Lebanon is Hezbollah as far as we're concerned' approach lost them the last drop of my sympathy at a state level, though I still feel for the Israeli civilians losing relatives to the conflict.

The impotence of the UN is, yes, very frustrating. I don't understand why people are afraid of a more powerful UN, but it seems that the world still has intensely ingrained nationalism that is hard to shake. On the other hand, the people who ask 'why do we even have the UN?' frustrate me too. I don't think most ordinary people have much understanding of the UN. For example, we were never taught about it in school. O.O