tokyo drift

We do actually intend to do something besides eat this week.
So far I’ve had a couple of naps, eaten way too much, sat on the couch and ‘watched’ The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, a film which, strangely, has caught my interest.
I am fascinated by the way each of these films seems to be using the same story line, but with different male protagonists, and a host of equally interchangeable booby girls of indeterminate ethnic origins. I’d like to say that my interest was caught by these sorts of things. But I was actually fascinated by the cars and the driving – the way these were ‘superlight’ cars with ‘powerful engines’. Basically, the ‘Tokyo drift’ involves taking corners really quickly in these light cars. You kind of ‘drift’ around the corners. Especially if you’re in a parking lot or driving down Mt Fuji (I think it was meant to be Mt Fuji – I wasn’t really paying much attention, and it seemed the obvious choice). There was a series of scenes very much like the ‘learning to dance’ bits of Footloose. And of course, a car-makeover.
In addition, there were a number of thinly veiled ‘American = best’ bits, including the necessity of fitting out an American Metal car with a full-on Japanese engine for the Big Race sequence, the protagonist making friends with an African American kid at school, lots of full on Japanese teen fashionistas buying ‘American’ sports shoes, a kind of narrative reworking of the term ‘gai jin’ by the protagonist and so on.
I think I want to see what

aeon flux

I was a fan of the original television series.
The strange, angular characters and odd storylines really appealed. Not to mention the female protagonist. I liked the way she was ‘sexualised’ but not in a conventionally sugary way.

But I also liked the film version.
Watching the extras on the DVD now, there are some interesting things working in terms of body shapes and aesthetics of movement. It’s a very white, European aesthetic at work – lots of pointed toes and extended legs and arms.
But you can’t help but think about issues of gender and body and sexuality when you’re watching an ‘action’ film, whether we’re talking about female or male actors and characters. I was recently seriously annoyed by a comment from a peer about these sorts of female characters – that they were, simply, sexualised eye candy for computer game playing adolescent boys. Because for me, these type of female characters (from Lara Croft to all the Milla Jovovich characters) are exciting and interesting and far more than just eye candy.
I think that my main criticism of that comment is that it suggests that male action characters are somehow not sexualised (because, obviously, the female body is always the object of desire, the male is always the subject). And that a woman being physically active or violent or acrobat is somehow inherently sexual or sensual because she is a woman. And that this somehow mediates the affect of her violence.

Sure, there are some fairly heavily sexualised images in the representation of female action figures.

But then, there are a range of ways of sexualising women and associating them with sexualised symbols.
Whether they’re ‘feminine’


or ‘masculine’

or really ‘masculine’.

But I do think, despite these things, that when the protagonist is a woman, and when she is a powerful character, the phrase ‘sexualised violence’ is too simple. Surely, Charlize is one seriously sexualised body flipping and fighting her way through that film. But the fact that she is a character I feel comfortable imagining myself to be (in a classicly psychoanalitic moment) suggests that there must be some sort of feminist pleasure to be found in these sorts of characters. And that there must be more to them than simply a little hawt body action for teenage boys to scope.
As even my undergrads have well and truly gathered, audiences are active. We make active use of the images on the screen. And so I can make Aeon the type of female character who doesn’t make me uncomfortable.
Aeon herself is an interesting characer, as a result of her original placement as an animated character in an MTV text who died quite regularly.

If you’ve ever seen the original animation, you’d know that Aeon (and her co-characters) aren’t entirely comfortable.

They don’t fit nicely into archetypal ‘objects’ and ‘subjects’. The program was difficult to watch. The characters were difficult to live with.

I know that there are problems with the film. I know that it didn’t bring with it all the subversive and interesting aspects of the animation. But I think that for someone like me, who has seen the animation, the film cannot help but echo the animation – the two are inextricably linked. Intertextual. Cross-polination (to use an image from Aeon Flux the film).
Charlize herself carries interesting echoes of sexuality and the body and speculative fiction.
And Aeon Flux is far less disturbing than silly films like Ultraviolet, though no where near as interesting as Razor Blade Smile.

animal encounters

Last night riding home from die Spiegeltent (where I am currently doing a few DJing gigs – Nov 4th and 18th and Dec 2nd if you want to catch up – it’s a glorious venue, there’s a cheesy dance class (which every one loves – especially the kids) and there are cheesy performances (which you can’t help but enjoy) and cheesy jokes (and I don’t care if it’s only me who adores them) and some fricking AWESOME DJed music – all for $10. Though it’s $10 for a beer(!!!!) )
… yeah, so on the ride home, we saw ten cats. I kid you not – ten cats. I usually see three (often the same ones, though not always), but last night we saw four ordinary cats and then six feral cats down near the railway line. I don’t know who thinks feeding feral cats is a good idea: if you do, you’re ON CRACK. The Squeeze got off his bike and tried to chase one to give it a squeeze. He stopped when I warned him that he’d have to sleep in the shed if he caught one.
I don’t much care for cats. I certainly don’t like to see them out on the street, looking for things to kill.
We have also seen a lovely small corgi tied up outside our local shops a couple of times lately. Last time it was outside the Safeway, yesterday it was outside Nino and Joes. I think I’m in love. I suggested The Squeeze squash it into his backpack and then make a quick getaway, but the owner overheard and didn’t look too impressed.
That is one fine corgi – it is gentle and sweet and has lovely fur and huge ears. Unfortunately, generations of inbreeding have left it with stunted feet.
Tomorrow is dentist appointment #3. The second one wasn’t so bad (just two small fillings), but tomorrow is the follow up on the surprise root canal. I am a bit scared, as it seems that side of my jaw is more sensitive than the other. I have promised myself another trip to the cinema (we went to see Children of God tonight at the Nova) and I think I’ll let myself see anything I want, even if it’s Little Miss Sunshine which The Squeeze wants to see as well. Either that or that dullish biodoco* about that architect bloke. I like films about buildings. Really, I’d prefer a chick flick, but they’re all out of them at the cinema. And I doubt they’d have it at the Kino, which is across the road from the dentist. Nor the Nova, which is my second choice.
So I guess I’ll just have to settle for some insane spontaneous CD purchasing instead.
*Sounds like something I’d buy at Nino and Joe’s, huh? Nope. But I did buy a lovely rolled turky roast this weekend. I love turkey, and this was some great action. Stuffed with something sweet with nuts (shh, don’t tell The Squeeze – he hates nuts but didn’t realise). Took two bloody hours to cook, but man, was that some tasty giant fowl.
Note to self: turkeys aren’t big on the swimming.

round up

I have about 45 minutes before I have to leave for apppointment #2 with the dentist, and I’m surprisingly unscared. I slept like a baby, weighted down by a million blankets because we’ve gone from 30-odd degrees during the day to having to wear fleecy pajamas at night in the space of 24 hours. Ah, Melbourne. But if I continue to write about it, I’m sure I’ll start getting scared.
I spent a very productive weekend, after a week of incredibly poor teaching on my part. Having the surprise root canal on Monday made for interesting lecturing on Tuesday, what with my numb lips and tongue and post traumatic stress syndrome. Tutoring Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was equally ordinary, though Wednesday was spectacularly bad. Thursday was ok, and by Friday I was back to being tired and an ordinary teacher. A run in with a particularly difficult student did not help (thank you for those public, in-class accusations of incompetency. And enjoy your future marks*).
This week, though, I did ride into the university, using a combination of bike (15minutes on a terrifying road to Northcote station), train (10 minutes in blessed airconditioning), 20minutes riding the terrifying streets of Reservoir (say ‘res-ev-or’ not ‘res-ev-oir’) and then a delicious 5 minutes swoop downhill through the uni. I tried riding back that way, but was frightened by the traffic (dang, those suburban types are completely un-bike-aware. And terrifying).
I also tried riding through the university to the next train line over, to Macleod station, which was a very lovely ride. Except for the bit where I got lost about 5 times and had to ask for directions at least 3 times. But even that wasn’t so bad – it was a lovely day, I love my bike, and I was having a lovely time in our quite lovely campus (which is very bushy and has lots of wild life, including some bulllying magpies). But I got to zoom down a very very steep hill, through very lovely tree-ey suburban streets (they have GIANT eucalypts out there). And then I caught the train in to the city. It was zone 2, but I dealt with that.
So, riding to work: great fun. But good for sweat-making, which isn’t so cool when you forget to bring a change of clothes and have to squash into an overcrowded tutorial room with a bunch of fairly prissy teenagers (unlike dancers, who really don’t mind about sweat at all).
It’s also a nice option because I’ve discovered that catching the Macleod line train to Westgarth rocks, because the Westgarth cinema (here is a link to the site, but because it uses frames you’ll have to click away til you find the Westgarth, but you can read about it on wikipedia as well) has reopened. Admittedly, now owned by a megacinema group (oh, how I miss the insane amount of independent cinemas in Brisvegas), but still quite stunningly beautiful inside and out. So I will be dropping in there to see fillums quite regularly I think (especially as it’s about a 15/20 minute bike ride from our house (about the same on the bus), where you ride along the Merri Creek bike path, which winds along the Merri Creek**. Could there be a more perfect way to spend an afternoon?
On a like note, we saw A Prairie Home Companion last week at the Kino, and we LOVED IT. It’s just like the Muppets, but with bluegrass/country music. Same sight gags, though.
MLX6 planning continues, and I finally had a chance to get all caught up and up to date with my responsibilities this weekend (I do long for a whole 2 days in a row where I can just sit about and do nothing, or do things like ride to the Westgarth for a fillum). It is looking scarily huge, with a crazy amount of internationals and interstaters booked in. I hope our venues are big enough.
Brian has continued with another podcast (Fat Lotta Radio, fyi), to which you can subscribe by popping this url: into your itunes or podcast reader. This is the sort of thing that makes MLX so much fun.
…ok, I have to ping ding, chicken wings – got some stuff to do. Think of me at about 11am, will you?
*That was a joke. I have of course handed over this student’s marking to course coordinator.
**Which locals think is great, but if you are from one of those lovely cities with lots of stunning parks and greenery (eg the Brisvegas river-side rides), this will look kind of lame. But you know, when you live in concrete-land, you don’t sniff at a bit of green.

Cars and Over The Hedge

I’ve recently seen Over the Hedge and Cars (did I mention my nieces are 11 and 7?). So I have things to report. But not right now. I’m a bit tired.
But you might want to go have a look here to read the Over the Hedge comic (from which the film was developed).
Super Size Me convinced me never to eat McDeath or other scary junk food ever again. OTH did a similar job. While it was a refreshingly child-centred film, the Message was decidedly anti-junk food and anti-television/sloth… not to mention anti-suburban development. It’s not a pixar-type multimodal/polyvocal text. OTH is a children’s film. But it was ideologically heavy in a very hippy-friendly way (well, perhaps without the ‘violence’).
Cars, on the other hand, was uncomfortable viewing for me. Very ‘go-cars!’, ‘drive one – now!’, ‘use fossil fuels – today!’. It didn’t sit well with me, and is my least favourite pixar effort to date. It looked great (but they all do, right?), but I just had this odd discomfort with the whole car/petrol/nostalgia thing. I’m not sure I want to revisit the 50s, where people drove just for the pleasure of driving (rather than getting places). Though I do dig neon.
It might have been my cold talking, but I also found it really really loud.

raging ham

This week has seen The Squeeze fiddling with a very old Mac – a blue and white G3 – for Crinks. It’s frankenbox now as we’ve desperately scrounged memory to make it fast enough to run imovie. Thing is, it’s a piece of shit that’s not worth the plastic it’s made of, so it’s been kind of a struggle. But you know Macsluts – they can’t let go of Mac crap. Gotta hoard it. In evidence: one of the little rubbery stops/feet on my ibook has fallen out. I hadn’t noticed, but it’s worrying The Squeeze.
At any rate, Crinks was overjoyed with her new digital freedom and asked what The Squeeze would like in repayment.
As I explained to her:
[with husking voice]: “One day I’m gonna come to you with a difficult proposition. And you will remember this.”
Don Hamleoni can afford to be generous with the skills of others.
Tonight we went to see The Family Stone which I really enjoyed, mostly for the elder Wilson brother (I would marry those Wilson boys), but also because it provided me with some chick-slapstick. There’s nothing I like more than women falling down. Followed perhaps by serious pathos. I laughed a lot at Claire Danes falling down some bus steps. More than anyone else in the crowded cinema. The Squeeze takes inordinate delight in my laughing inappropriately in the cinema – it’s the naughty side of him. I blame my mother for my strange sense of humour. I can’t help it. Puns, black humour, slapstick. It’s the simple stuff I like.
I have continued our cinematic journey through Important Films We Haven’t Seen, this week themeing them ‘men movies’, in honour of the Squeeze, who’s been a bit poorly. The other week it was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which was great, and I caught part of Easy Rider on telly the other night, which I have fond memories of (“Have you got helmet?” “Yeah, i got a helmet”).
I think we should get China Town out next, and then Mean Streets and The Outsiders because I want to get to Rumble Fish which I adored as a teenager.
This week there was Hunt for Red October (nothing makes a sicky bub feel better than a submarine movie – he regularly rewatches Das Boat in the middle of the night to comfort him when he can’t sleep), followed by Godfather III, which did not please us as much as I or II, both of which we loved (though I wins by a nose).
Last night we watched Raging Bull. It took hours and hours, and we were a bit bored by the end. Sure, it’s great and all, but still…
In other news, I have of late been susceptible to bouts of furious rage, usually in response to meaningless acts or events. Asking me to find out which film I’d like to see was enough to cause a mighty shouting and raging last night. The day before it was the garage clothes line’s being canibalised for a party (in November). Yesterday it was not having the door answered when I demanded it.
The poor Squeeze is, for the most party, the hapless victim of this senseless fury. He is a walking definition of the word stoicism. If it weren’t for the ‘shut up!’ voice and the dance of derision, he’d no doubt have murdered me by now.
I blame it all on thesis-completion anxiety and an overwhelming paranoia about my extension application.
Though it may also perhaps have something to do with all these gangstah films we’ve been watching…

kind of snowy and cold and, well… no, I have no point.

I’ve been thinking about Russia a bit lately. The other day I saw a documentary about living in Moscow on SBS. Basically, the story was about ‘business stealing’ in Moscow. It seems that if you have a bunch of private security doods (ie private police force), you forge some proof of ownership documents (including those documenting the sale of a business), have a contact or two in the government, you can simply walk into a business with your private police force and take over. Then it belongs to you. If you sell it on, the person who buys it legally owns it, because they bought it in good faith. There are next to no legal options for the person whose business you’ve stolen. And if you want some land somebody’s house is on, you simply burn down the house. Because, under Russian law, if your house burns down, you no longer own the land.
There are some corruption issues in Russia atm.
Then we saw that Night Watch film. And I thought about the people in that documentary when I saw that film. I bet the ordinary Moscow citizens wish there was a watch for Russian businessmen and politicians.
And then I was thinking about the Russian lindy hoppers. Each year at Herrang there are a bunch of Russian lindy hoppers. They’re subsidised by the Herrang organisers because the Russians are so economically rooted. As a consequence, there are some seriously kick arse Russian lindy hoppers. I wonder about this… should Australian visitors to Herrang be sponsored as well, because they don’t have the money to travel to Herrang? I know that the Swingapore people offer scholarships to promising dancers each year – they have all their dance classes paid for, and have to do classes in all sorts of dance styles (not just lindy) at the studio, which does salsa, hip hop, etc as well as lindy.
And then there are a few Russian people living in my area – I hear them talking in Russian on the tram or bus every now and then.
On a slightly different tack, I knew a Polish woman about my age (or a bit older) when I was at unimelb. She told stories about compulsorary military training when she was at high school. It was like me having to learn to use a machine gun and a rocket launcher. She told this story as well (and I paraphrase):

When I was in primary school, we had to go a long way to school each day. In winter, the snow was very heavy and it was hard to get there. We used to catch a bus that was old and didn’t run very well. One day the bus didn’t come because it had been blown up. So we couldn’t get to school on the bus any more – we had to walk. In the winter, we often couldn’t get to school at all

And this was a story by a young woman just like me, sitting in a conference room with a bunch of other pgrads who were going to be hosts at the open day. Can you believe that story?
I often think about how Poland wants to become part of the EU (I don’t know if they are yet – I haven’t checked). And about Turkey. The other night we saw a film on the ABC which starred Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald, which was an odd, quiet film about a shy, awkward English public servant who worked for the councellor of the exchequour (sp?) and met a girl in a coffee shop whom he invited to come with him on a business trip to Reykjavik in Iceland. Turns out it was the G8 meeting. And they were discussing extreme poverty. And this girl is so outspoken about poverty she’s asked to leave. It was an interesting film. Mostly about this man’s utter discomfort with human relationships, and with this girl’s obsession with children. It was called The Girl in the Cafe. We only saw it by accident, but it was interesting.
Iceland seems cold. I once saw a film called Cold Fever about a Japanese guy who has to travel to Iceland to do some rites in memoriam to his parents who died there. That film is quite lovely – sort of cold and still and eery.
Yeah, anyway, there’s no point to all these stories, really, I’m just kind of thinking about these cold, snowy countries and places I haven’t been. But have seen in films and on telly.

drama, soap opera, cereal

My obsession with Firefly continues. Maybe I’m understimulated – and that’s why I like it so much…
Last night we went to see Night Watch/Nochnoi Dozor, a Russian vampire/woo scary fillum. I didn’t mind it…sorry. I know I should have something more interesting to say, but David and Margerate said it all. I mean, I should be going nuts for this flick, what with it being a really interesting Russian contribution to Hollywood (there are 2 more to come and a big fat Hollywood budget for the last one at least, so I’ve heard), but … meh. It was ok, and there were bits I quite liked (it was interesting to see something like this set in Moscow), and there were some pretty interesting and unique approaches to cinematography/CGI/subtitles, but… Maybe the next one will blow my pants off. Thing is, being such a fan of vampire/supernatural/sc-fant/sci-fi stuff, my standards are quite high. Well, I’ll watch any old woo crap, but to be impressed, I need more.
It was certainly no Fireflly.
On other filmic fronts, Pride and Prejudice is out now, which I’m quite keen on seeing. I’m a bit of an Austen fan, and Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility pleased me immensely (that could just be the Ang Lee factor, though). I’m also a huge fan of lovely period costume and sets.
There’s actually a stack of lady-movies out at the moment: In Her Shoes (or whatever it’s called), Must Love Dogs etc etc etc. eeeeexxxceeellllent. Though of course, this sudden bounty happens just as I get back into the whole thesis thing. Dang.
Similarly, last night I saw a copy of The Truth About Cats and Dogs in a clearance bin at Kmart for only $11. I should have bought it.
Should I be ashamed of this passion for ladyfilms?
I mostly like them because they’re dialogue driven, so you can ‘watch’ them while you quilt/sew/crochet – it doesn’t really matter if you don’t watch the screen the whole time. Unlike action films where it’s all about watching the screen*. Interestingly, Firefly is about half and half: I could quilt while I watched it (as if!)…
Right now I’ve taken a break from Diana Wynn Jones (after a million zillion wonderful books) to read Alexander McCall Smith‘s book 44 Scotland Street which was originally written as a serialised novel in The Scotsman newspaper. Here’s a story about that. I quite like it – and I’m facinated by the idea of the format. How GREAT. How oldskool – I keep thinking about how the ‘soap opera’ or serialised drama format is as old as Dickens.
So it’s oldskool to love Firefly.
*I know I should have used the word ‘spectacle’ here, or made some reference to masculinity and scopophilia but really. That would would be wanky. And kind of dumb.