The Aussie Affair – A Review

A group in my class produced a wonderful short little documentary on the experiences and lives of a few international students, here in Melbourne. Please have a look below!

Perhaps my favorite part of this video was its visual production quality. It was a joy on the eyes to watch – at no point was a scene lit poorly, and great care was taken into the cinematography. I mention this, not to be condescending, but because I was so impressed, I could not believe this was done by amateurs for a university project! The only parts that gave it away were some aspects of editing during the interviews, where words or sounds were clipped too early. There were also some jarring edits when it came to the B-Roll ground footage, but the beautiful cinematography made up for it.

In terms of content, I was very impressed with the selection of interviewees. I enjoyed that we got to hear the story from someone from a completely different language and cultural background, and someone from a very similar background, with whom we locals wouldn’t normally notice any differences. I was pleasantly rewarded with little anecdotes about navigating the accent, or the search for the best replica of a good home-cooked meal (spoiler alert: it doesn’t exist), or the fact that Melbourne cigarettes cost almost as much as a car in Indonesia! (But not really.)

(I suppose, though, if I had to be absolutely nit-picky, Yuri strange and unsolicited interpretation of an African American accent was a touch awkward. The thing is, Iย know Yuri, so I wasn’t even confused!)

I think that the video touched on the issues that aย universityย  student faces very well – it’s not about a migrant family, or someone on exchange; it’s about youthful international students living here. The issues that they faced were akin to issues all youths face when in a new environment: isolation, loneliness, the cultural shock…the JET-LAG. The video focused on these aspects, rather than more mature issues like “job hunting” or “house buying”. It was refreshing to see that the problems we locals face are reflected in our international counterparts.

I use “we locals” and “them internationals” very, very casually, because the most well constructed part of the video was that it did not segregate based on the passport that the person holds. It was more about the differences in cultural habits, rather than the fact that they are from another country, or that things here are so different. At no point, watching the video, was I made to feel that these characters didn’t feel like they could proudly call themselves Australians if they were so inclined. This is an aesthetic that many, many projects that tackle the issue of nationality seem to never be able to grasp.

Great work, guys!

Alex.

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Keep it in the family

Today Mela and I went to see Crazy, Stupid Love together. It was the first time we went to see a movie together in the cinemas.

The movie was fantastic – and what else would you expect from Steve Carell? In an interview, he said that Ryan Gosling stole the show, but I think Carell still kept it his own. His comedic timing and facial expressions were still as on point as always. Julianne Moore kept up her end of the deal, portraying the infidel but regretting wife opposite Carell, mirroring his amazing skills. I have to say, though, spouse-wise, the chemistry between Fey and Carell in Date Night was much better.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s storyline was brought in almost as an afterthought – or so it appears at the start. But a twist in the plot – nothing Sixth Sense, don’t worry – saw that it was still brought together in a neat little bundle. Still, I feel that the structure could have inserted Stone and Gosling’s storyline a lot sooner, but as it were, it wouldn’t have made sense to do so.

It was a sweet movie, with the obligatory heartstring tugging declaration of love. The difference to the usual rom-com is that the main declaration was done indirectly over the phone in a manner more fitting for a couple who’s been married for 25 years. Nonetheless, the second declaration was done in front of a huge crowd with the cheesy “I should have fought for you” idea – I suppose there has to be a cliche moment somewhere.

In all, it was a very enjoyable film where the subplots were all brought together in one big climax. I would highly recommend seeing it, although perhaps not on the Xtremescreen – it costs too much.

Alex.

I can see your heart…

Today I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1, obviously), so I will warn you, I WILL be talking about the movie in here, so don’t read on if you don’t want spoilers.

Seriously.

To start with, I was already aware of the scene where we see Hermione wipe her parents’ memories. The thing was, I felt that it was going to be really heart-wrenching when I first saw a few screen caps of the scene, but they placed the scene really early on the in the movie, and it wasn’t as filled out as I thought it would be. It was still pretty sad though, and for people who didn’t know about the scene, it would have been a pretty heart-string-tugging start to the movie.

The wedding scene was cut really short – Harry wasn’t in disguise, and Viktor Krum wasn’t there at all – but I supposed that had to be done for timing purposes. Also, because it was a movie, it wasn’t logically possible to show the entire piece that Doge wrote on Dumbledore, so if you hadn’t read the book, you’d have to assume half the things written about Dumbledore – and you didn’t know about the baby sister at all. Aberforth was mentioned once, very briefly.

Kreacher’s warming up towards Harry wasn’t really shown at all, which I found a bit of a pity because I rather liked the Kreacher arc. Grimmauld’s place was altogether a very short sequence, put in only to let Harry know that the real locket is somewhere else, and to be a segue to the Ministry story. I was really disappointed, because I sort of liked the homely belonging that Grimmauld’s place actually provided, however short.

The Ministry scenes were changed quite a lot, in the sense that little details were taken out. When I read the book, the Ministry scenes were REALLY tense and scary, but translated to film, the whole sequence was actually funny – minus the parts after they were discovered, of course. While it was nice to be able to laugh a little, seeing as the rest of the movie is pretty dark, I thought that it was a pity they had to give up such a tense situation for comic relief. I suppose really what I wanted was Grimmauld’s place to be put in more, and make that amusing and funny, and then have a really tense Ministry sequence.

Speaking of funny and amusing, every-time there was a Ron/Hermione moment – and there were quite a lot of them – there was a group of girls behind me that ‘aww’d. It was kind of annoying.

The Ron/Hermione scenes themselves were not annoying. The one thing great about film is that you can actually see all the cutesy little things they do. In the diner, Ron tenderly wiped away a bit of blood on Hermione’s face, and later on in the tent, Hermione was teaching Ron the piano, and the expression on Ron’s face when he watches Hermione play was adorable. While Rowling wrote these in very well, it was even better to see it enacted.

Translation of words to screen isn’t easy – I mean, we’ve seen the Harry Potter movies flounder a bit in the previous movies, by literally putting stuff in the books onto the screen. There are a lot of things that writing just couldn’t bring out, and Rowling stayed away from them. So the small dance-scene between Harry and Hermione, even though it was awkward dancing and kind of out of place, I think worked really well. It’s a really sad and depressing mood that Ron left when he first stormed out, and everyone was feeling a bit sad at the time because Ron and Harry had a fight – I know I was really uneasy when Ron was angry at Harry in GoF – so having a giggle at Daniel’s atrocious dancing skills actually put a smile on both Hermione and the audience’s face.

One other Harry/Hermione moment that made my jaw drop was the make-out that they had in the vision the locket showed Ron. Noticeably naked (or at least semi naked, smoke covered the rest), Harry and Hermione was shown in a tight embrace and…really going at it. In the story, we all know that Harry and Hermione didn’t kiss, because it was just a vision. But in order to film it, Daniel and Emma actually had to…go at it. And they were GOING AT IT. The cinema was in a bit of a stunned silence, privileged usually to a sudden sex scene.

The one problem I had with film representations of a book is that sudden visions and flashbacks or whatever, those get really hard to see. The first time round, you’d have to look really carefully for the clues and pictures, so if you miss stuff, you’ll have to wait til you can see it again. It makes sense for the flashes to be hard to be seen, obviously, because they’re flashes, but it’s hard on the audience to take in everything suddenly.

And, of course, the Dobby death scene. I was very aware that the scene was written and filmed with the audience knowing that Dobby will die in mind. The way that it is executed completely brings to attention the very moment when Dobby will be killed – from the comic relief he brings when he shows up at the Malfoy Mansion, all the way up to the slow motion blade flying towards the group and Dobby Apparating out.

I won’t lie, I still cried when Dobby died – and even a bit before that. But I didn’t cry as hard when Harry buried Dobby as I did in the book – I think the emotional hit was more in the moment up to Dobby’s death than the burial for the film, which is fine and all, but I would have liked the film burial to be as hard-hitting as the book’s.

In fact, I think I first teared up when George got his ear blown off, and Lupin pushed Harry to the wall to make sure he was the real deal. The panic and desperation in Lupin’s actions, and the anger and vast sadness in Harry’s face was enough to really nail home how dangerous their mission was.

It was disappointing when the credits started rolling – I sort of wanted just a bit more for Part 1. I’d always thought that Harry getting all the information out of Ollivander and the goblin would be the end – sort of like a cliffhanger for what Harry will do next – will be the end of Part 1. I wonder how they’ll tie up Harry getting information as the beginning of a film? There is no way they’d do something as cheesy as “Previously, on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows…”

And, of course, as always, there are people who don’t have a clue what is going on. When the lights came on, a girl sitting in front of me said out loud, “that was alright, except I didn’t like Dobby. I was rather glad he died.” The moment she said that, a dozen people around her gave her a look and Dani and I hissed, “SHUUUUUUUUN.”

So, my last word? Go see it.

Alex.

P.S. Can’t wait ’til July 2011! More Ginny/Neville/Luna scenes. And more tears, of course, because after that there really isn’t any more of the adventures.