There have been some remarkable suggestions from Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum over the past few days.
It’s difficult to understand whether these are genuinely held views or political pandering to the extreme ends of the Republican Party in order to garner more nomination votes.
But, really, it doesn’t matter. A statement is a statement is a statement and there will come a time when the candidates (all of them) must be accountable for them.
That won’t necessarily be when the Republican Party decides who it wants to embody its party – its beliefs, policies, direction – but when the country (or at least the part of the country that votes) goes to the ballot box to decide between President Obama and an alternative.
The four Australian films in competition have more than nationality in common.
When individuals travel outside their home country, they represent not only themselves but all their countrymen, like it or not.
Are Americans really loud? Are the French really rude? Are Germans really efficient? Received wisdom and national stereotypes die hard.
With that in mind, the four short films in competition this year at the 34th Clermont-Ferrand festival have something in common: Not one of them would make a non-Australian viewer want to live in Australia.
The Melbourne-based filmmaker is on track to direct a TV bio of the early
years of the WikiLeaks founder and is masterminding a groundbreaking
Tim Winton project.
Moving seamlessly between film, TV and multimedia projects, writer-director-producer Robert Connolly starts shooting in April a telemovie centred on teenage computer hacker Julian Assange, followed by The Turning, an innovative feature based on a Tim Winton anthology.
He’s also executive producing and mentoring These Final Hours, an apocalyptic thriller that’s due to roll in August in Western Australia, with neophyte producer Liz Kearney and writer-director Zak Hilditch.
On top of all that, he’s developing several projects including a children’s movie entitled Paper Planes, about a boy’s passion for flight which leads him to compete in the world paper plane championships; a TV series, The Athletes, about two young Indigenous footballers which involves a number of emerging Indigenous writers and directors; and WarCo., a computer game in which users will film war correspondents.
It's about 5pm on a Wednesday. My colleagues and I are in the SBS newsroom, furiously working on our stories for the approaching bulletin; conflict in the Middle East, Greece's worsening financial crisis, why some diamonds are pink instead of white.
Good guess. That last one was mine.
Suddenly, a familiar buzz starts sweeping through the office. For some reason which wasn't yet clear, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd had decided to call a press conference at 1am in Washington.
"He's not, is he?" one of us excitedly asked. "Surely he's not going to challenge for the leadership?"
Colin Firth heads to Memphis, Olivier Assayas stays local, and Sullivan Stapleton goes Persian.
The story of the West Memphis 3 – a trio of Arkansas teenagers who were tried and convicted in 1994 for the brutal murder of three young boys and whose innocence became a cause celebre that culminated in their release last year – has already spawned numerous books, news media accounts and four feature documentaries. Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky followed their travails, which have taken in police coercion, a death penalty and issues with DNA evidence, to produce the trio of acclaimed Paradise Lost documentaries between 1996 and 2011, while West of Memphis, directed by Amy J. Berg and produced by Peter Jackson, premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Now that the story of Damien Echols, who was on death row, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin has reached a conclusion of sorts (in August last year, following new DNA evidence being produced, they entered pleas that maintained their innocence but conceded that the prosecution had had the evidence to convict and were sentenced to the 18 years time already served), a long in development feature film is moving towards production. Canadian director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Chloe) will take Devil’s Knot into production, which is based on a 2003 book about the investigation, trial and subsequent shift in public opinion.
Two leadings actors have been cast. Brit Colin Firth will play Ron Lax, a private investigator who was one of the trio’s original supporters and whose investigations eventually suggested that a stepfather, Terry Hobbs, of one the victims, Steven Branch, may have been involved. Reese Witherspoon, who needs to put This Means War firmly behind her, will portray Steven Branch’s grieving mother and Terry Hobbs’ wife, Pam Hobbs, who initially believed in the trio’s guilt but gradually became an advocate for their innocence.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Moved 32 pigs, some by trailer, some by walking them to their permanent homes. Some to the abattoir. Had another seven slips (piglets) born. Hand raked a new seven (of a potential 15!) winter garden beds. Went to the big Launceston food fair, Festivale, with the new caravan and sold free-range hot dogs and free-range pulled pork buns. Cooked a bit at home. Raided the garden a bit. Scoured the brambles for blackberries. Picked blueberries at a local organic farm. Worked the market on Sunday. A bit at the shop on Friday.
It’s a glorious time of year for food. Okay, so the raspberries have finished, and the strawberries continue to be just a trickle. But zucchini from the vine, complete with flowers, ready to throw in a risotto? Beat that. Or new season apples, straight from the tree? Scarlet runner beans. Purple beans. Dutch cream potatoes. Pink eye potatoes. Yellow, purple, white and orange carrots. Beet leaves in a salad. The first of the tomatoes; this week the first black Russian tomato, in a salad with walnut oil. Purple sprouting broccoli. Corn as fresh as corn can come, too, though one was picked too pale and young.
The caravan’s first outing to Festivale came as a bit of a shock. It’s decked out with a full commercial kitchen – stainless steel all around. A gas stove and hot water unit. Three sinks. Two under-bench fridges. And a serving hatch that opens up on one side. Though I should’ve had things sorted a bit earlier.
Real coffee may be hard to find but Anthony Tan’s delighted to have touched down in Kuala Lumpur for his tenth Tour de Langkawi.
I know this is going to blow your minds – call it a revelation, if you like – but even though I was born in Australia, I do not hold Anglo-Saxon heritage.
(You can get up from the floor now and upright your chair.)
Yes, my parents are Chinese immigrants – Dad’s from Singapore, Mum is from China. When he was 17, my father came out to Oz on his Pat Malone with hardly a penny to his name, seeking a better life… I’m glad he found it (and my Mum).
So it turns out there’s a little more to America’s battle with contraception.
As reported here last week, there are some distractions from the real issues the country should be facing – the economy, war, that kind of stuff. Instead, we have uproar over how President Obama has found a way to mandate free contraception for women.
It turns out women’s health issues will continue to be unwillingly embraced by (usually male) politicians. Government increases its interest in getting involved in what happens in people’s bedrooms and then what happens outside those bedrooms when the things that go on in there don’t play out exactly as planned – literally.
Last week, the state of Virginia passed a law that called for “informed consent” for a woman seeking an abortion. Very good. But wait. The new law demands “every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging and be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image of her fetus prior to the abortion.”
Cormac McCarthy pens an original script, James Franco stays busy, and Emma Watson becomes beautiful for Guillermo del Toro.
For many years it appeared as if a leading generation of American novelists would never find a place, let alone be prominently translated, into the movies. There were bits and pieces that could be traced back to the writings of Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth and Cormac McCarthy, but their literary standing appeared to mean little. Of the four McCarthy appeared simultaneously the most likely and unlikely: he wrote what could be classed as westerns, but they placed monstrous horrors amidst beautifully rendered landscapes with solemnly burnished prose; no-one knew how to reduce the likes of 1985’s Blood Meridian to the point where they’d have a chance of at least being rated R.
After Billy Bob Thornton’s tepid and expensive adaptation of All the Pretty Horses, with Matt Damon and Penélope Cruz, appeared in 2000, McCarthy appeared divorced from the screen. But then a pair of truncated, compelling novels – 2005’s No Country For Old Men and 2006’s The Road – were released, and both made for fine films in the hands of the Coen Brothers and John Hillcoat respectively. What’s more, the former was highly profitable, and suddenly Cormac McCarthy was the Nicholas Sparks of murder and cannibalism.
McCarthy hasn’t published a novel since The Road, but he’s obviously paid attention to his profile among filmmakers. Six months ago, without warning, the 78-year-old presented his representative with an original screenplay he’d written, sparking instant attention. The Counselor bears some comparison to No Country, for it’s about a lawyer who decides to get involved in the narcotics trade and soon finds himself dangerously in over his head. Ridley Scott leapt to secure the material, and will direct it as soon as he’s finished with his Alien prequel, Prometheus. For the lead role he’s looking at one of the Prometheus cast, and the screen’s man of the moment: Michael Fassbender.
As the dust settles on the awards podium, Shane Danielsen offers an alternate view of Berlin Jury's findings.
That the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival should have gone, in the end, to two veterans—Italy’s Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, for their prison-set Shakespearian drama Caesar Must Die—should have surprised nobody. Wasn’t Mike Leigh, the president of the jury, himself a man of un certain age—and a filmmaker similarly obsessed with the friction between reality and artifice, with modes of performance and what actors (in this case, real-life Italian criminals) might bring from their own lives into their interpretation of a role?
[Full coverage of the Berlin Film Festival}
And yet it did surprise. At 76 minutes, the film felt slight. And the action—a group of cons performing ‘Julius Caesar’ behind the walls of their penitentiary—felt contrived whenever the versifying paused, and the inmates strained to locate parallels between Shakespeare’s text and their own experiences. Shot mostly in high-contrast B&W, and slipping between quotidian reality and theatrical ‘play’ in a way that recalled Peter Watkins’ magnificent La Commune (2000), it was an interesting experiment, but no more than that.
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