Sea Shepherd in port in Wellington this weekend

Posted by Bel. The time is 9.53am here in Wellington, NZ.

Sea Shepherd information poster:

Poster text:

Sea Shepherd & Friends of Ocean Conservation

Friday 19th March: 12noon - 2pm Open Forum with Captain Paul Watson @ Parliament Grounds - grass area
5.30pm Powhiri for the Steve Irwin's arrival at Queen's Wharf

Saturday 20th March: 10am Ship Tours on the Steve Irwin at Queen's Wharf
11am - 1pm Talk by Captain Paul Watson @ Chicago Bar, Queen's Wharf

6-11pm Paul Bethune Charity Concert @ Sandwiches
  • Tiki Taane
  • Rhombus Sound System
  • Steel Burning
  • Riki Gooch & Sean Deans
  • & Special Guests
Tickets $25 per person or 5 for $100 / limited door sales $30
Buy tickets online here

More info on Facebook: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of New Zealand
Lisa @ 04 972 0240 / 027 286 8642
Marcus @ 021 144 9249

The Sea Shepherd made the front page in recent months when the Japanese whaling harpoon vessel (oh, I'm sorry, "research ship") rammed and destroyed the Ady Gil. Determined to stand between these hunters and the endangered whales who enjoy the supposedly protected habitat of the Antarctic, the lives of the crew was put in huge danger by this reckless attack.

New Zealander Simeon Houtman, Sea Shepherd camera operator, suffered broken ribs in the collision

New Zealand is in an awful situation at present, in which the views of the majority of the public are not being represented by our government. National has just voted to support the reinstatement of commercial whaling - siding themselves with Japan and other nations (Norway, Iceland) that hunt down the ocean's endangered species.

I refuse to believe that this reflects how the people of this country feel. Just as with National's moves to initiate mining in national parks and their reversal of election promises to not raise GST, we have a short-sighted political party blundering ahead with their own selfish agenda.

The Oscars results

Posted by Lou. The time is 10.48am here in London.

I am totally freaking stoked that:

The Hurt Locker so comprehensively cleaned up that nobody can say "it's because she's a woman" to Kathryn's deserved triumph; and

b) James Cameron's ego has been put back in check (or as Bel would say, the Academy have very much told him to SIT BACK DOWN).

But more importantly... how did we do?

Lou - 13/20

Probably one of my best efforts ever, thanks to the Ideal Scenario occurring for The Hurt Locker.

  • Best Picture - The Hurt Locker - HIGH FIVES
  • Best Director - Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker - HIGH FIVES WITH A JUMP AND A WOO AND A BIG HUG
  • Best Actor - Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart - though I knew Jeff would win, having now seen A Single Man I feel for Colin as he totally killed in that role
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds - the traditional "quirky" acting performance reward - and well-deserved
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Mo'Nique, Precious - it couldn't have not happened
  • Best Animated Feature Film - Up - I soooo want to see this!
  • Best Art Direction - Avatar - well deserved :) Mental note: YouTube this for Kiwi accent action
  • Best Documentary - The Cove - not sure I can bear to see this... but feel I should - which sounds like the perfect combination for a winning Best Doc
  • Best Film Editing - The Hurt Locker - totally well deserved for editing together the most tense film I have ever seen
  • Best Music (Score) - Up - I repeat: I soooo want to see this!
  • Best Music (Song) - Ryan Bingham, Crazy Heart - am going to watch this on a long-haul flight - may get teary over the song due to long-haul fragility
  • Best Visual Effects - Avatar - well deserved
  • Best Writing (Original Screenplay) - Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker - awesome - I love when young, heartfelt, passionate writers win this award
  • Best Actress - Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side (I said Meryl) - on one hand I think it's a bit of a farce, but on the other hand it's totally in-keeping with Oscar's history of awarding a person known for populist films an Oscar for going into "serious" territory. And on the other hand (I have three hands, apparently) it's not like there was a stand-out lead female performance this year.
  • Best Cinematography - Avatar (I said Inglourious Basterds) - a mostly-animated film winning this has confused my understanding of cinematography.
  • Best Costume Design - The Young Victoria (I said Bright Star) - I like that the woman acknowledged in receiving this that it's easier to win for period dramas
  • Best Foreign Language Film - Argentina's El Secreto de Sus Ojos (I said France's Un Prophete) - am genuinely surprised by A Prophet not winning this one and now eager to see the Argentinian film that toppled it
  • Best Sound Editing - The Hurt Locker (I said Avatar) - generally I get sound wrong as I don't really have an appreciation for or understand of "good sound"
  • Best Sound Mixing - The Hurt Locker (I said Inglourious Basterds) - ditto
  • Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) - Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious (I said Nick Hornby, An Education) - happy to get this one wrong :)

Last minute Oscar frenzy!!

Posted by Bel. The time is 11.45am here in Wellington, NZ.

Okay, people! Today's the day! If you, like poor ole Lou and me, are trapped somewhere with obscured seating (aka NO ACCESS TO A TELLY AT ALL) then kia kaha and let me know what live blog you have found as I plan on having several tabs open and giving my F5 button a good pummelling.

For a last dose of hype, here are some fun links I couldn't help but dive upon like Sarah Palin with a free goody bag:

How an Oscar Statuette is Made

A step-by-step insight to the process and some interesting (to me!!) facts. Did you know they weigh 8 and a half pounds? I don't know how to convert that to kilos, but it sounds like a lot!

The creation of the awards is not the only artwork going on in Los Angeles. British graff artist D*Face has made his mark, installing these 6 foot tall sculptures around the city with the inscription: Beauty Is Only Skin Deep.

Women & Hollywood has steadfastedly tracked the build up to the Academy Awards from the perspective of the achievements of female filmmakers. A fever pitch of excitement about Kathryn Bigelow's opportunity to break the 82 year all-male grasp on the Best Director Oscar culminates in a post with some talking points about just what this means...

And let's finish with pondering on whether or not James Cameron is a facist. This article from GOOD (a website I highly recommend) goes back to Susan Sontag's review of Nazi propagandist Leni Reifensthal’s late career photo essay, The Last of the Nuba and points out how it could very easily become a review of Cameron's Avatar, with its parallels in idealism of the primitive and presumed moral superiority.

Wow, and my main problems with the film had been to do with the fact that in the future boys still have dumb tribal art tattoos and that his wheelchair was an antique, with design apparently having not changed for over 200 years!

A Single Man and the Nowhere Boy

Posted by Lou. The time is 7.25pm here in London, UK.

The best adjective I can think of for A Single Man is distinguished. As you would expect from a fashion designer, Tom Ford has given us a beautiful (visually) piece of cinema. As you may not expect from a fashion designer turned first-time filmmaker, he has also given us a beautiful (emotionally) piece of cinema. This is one cross-over I hope marks a career change as it is an absolutely fantastic - and under-recognised (*coughUpInTheAircough*) - directorial debut.

Also fantastic is Colin Firth. Now, I know that you know that I love Colin Firth solely and wholeheartedly for giving us The Darcy, but please don't think this is praise rooted in a biased desire to love him in this. He is honestly better than I thought he could be. If he was George Clooney they would have already engraved his name on the Oscar a month ago. His performance is surprisingly perfect (apparently also a surprise to him based on his BAFTA acceptance speech where he confessed having almost pulled out thinking he couldn't do it), and stands out even beyond the wet shirt scene Darcy as being his career high.

Set in one day in 1962 Los Angeles, Colin [he lets me call him Colin (when we're in bed he let's me call him Darcy*)] plays an English Professor unable to come to terms with having lost his (male) partner to a car accident several months before. As he tries to navigate one last day of his numbing present his overriding sense of sentimentalism finds meaning to each and every interaction, be it with a neighbour, complete stranger, best friend, or student. It is a deep and touching story told with exquisite style and one I very much recommend you treat yourself to. (I'm saying little about it as it's both very character-driven (so there isn't much to say of plot), and it's so well-told visually that you just need to see it.)

There are two further things beyond the qualities of the film itself that that make it such a stand-out for me. When Brokeback Mountain blazed a trail just a few years ago, the hope was that soon a film could be a love story between gay men without it having to be A Thing - that the being gay wasn't the story itself. I feel like this is that film. It is specific to the fact that he is a gay man, but it is not about the fact that he is a gay man. Hurrah, and may many more follow. Secondly, from the perspective of being a heterosexual woman this film is notable for the fact that it is one of the few that capture the beauty of men, losing the heterosexual-male gaze that the majority of cinema is and has historically been shot from. Overall the film is made with close attention to aesthetics, but it is most notably cast upon the men on-screen - from Colin himself to an impossibly beautiful man you feel blessed to have cast eyes upon. Again: hurrah, and may many more follow.

*Disclaimer: Lou has never met Colin. (Though did come across his home address in the course of professional duties once. (But didn't write it down. (Honest.)))

PS: I didn't much mention the supporting cast, but have to say that I was absolutely stunned to discover that his student is played by the boy who was Marcus in About a Boy. Who'd've thunk!


Colin isn't the only man I love, and Tom Ford isn't the only cross-over artist making their directorial debut. Nowhere Boy is a film about my beloved John Lennon's troubled adolescence, made by high-profile British photographer/ conceptual artist Sam Taylor-Wood. And happily, I can add to the list of things in common that A Single Man isn't the only film that twists the traditional gaze of cinema... Aaron Johnson's eyelashes, soft skin and physicality are certainly gazed upon by the sensual lens of his (heterosexual female) Director*.

The story is well known: In late-50s Liverpool John is a rebellious teddy boy living with his mother's sister "Aunt Mimi" and his beloved uncle. After the sudden death of his uncle he regains close contact with his mother Julia, who introduces him to rock-n-roll. He starts a band, meets Paul, and... well, we'd love to say that the rest is history from there, but unfortunately tragedy interrupts first.

The heart of this story - surprisingly - is the relationship of two sisters. Kristin Scott Thomas is good as Aunt Mimi, but Anne-Marie Duff is spectacular as Julia. Her Julia is a seductive figure for John, fun and tactile and out-of-control, in total contrast to the prim and ordered and controlling Aunt Mimi who wrestles against her effect on John. The filmmaker is highly sympathetic to both, squarely positioning Julia as bi-polar, and Aunt Mimi as controlling by necessity. Instead of going down the tempting and all-too-easy road of giving us a misunderstood genius, she has seen behind him to the women in his life and provided a compelling story of their struggle to reconcile their relationships to him and each other.

And yet... I didn't love it. Even though I saw this film weeks ago and even though I love John and am absolutely interested in his early-life, I've sat down several times to write a review here of the film and found myself totally uninspired. A Single Man is its perfect companion in one more way then: it showed me the distinguishing x factor that Nowhere Boy lacks. It is a good film with some good performances, but without the excellence of A Single Man that might make it more memorable and more of a quintessential portrayal of The Boy That Became John Lennon.

*They are now engaged and pregnant - another nice skew of traditional filmmaker-actor gender relations!

From a distance ( la la laa)

Posted by Bel. The time is 3.25pm here Wellington, NZ.

I just came across this. Chances are it's like with Stuff White People Like and everyone else found out about it last year, but anyway.

NASA have some kind of photo gallery online called the Earth Observatory, with the snaps their astronauts have taken, or off satellites or something. (It's space. We're not supposed to understand.) It's not your average Facebook photo album, these photos are taken more than arm's length away - they are quite amazing and beautiful and have very good captions too.

Here is Wellington (remember Wellington, Lou??):

Click to view large

Or go through to the NASA webpage for all the info.

It says that it was taken with an 800mm lens, which from my somewhat limited knowledge, is quite massive. Bigger than those ones you see professional photographers using on the sidelines of sports games, although apparently they do get used some times in wildlife photography. (I am picking up a lot from Google Images right now. God bless the internet.)

Here's a photo taken last week after the earthquake in Chile - click through to the website for the details: Smoke Plumes over Concepcion, Chile, Following Large Earthquake

And in 2007, they captured this amazing shot of the bushfires in Victoria:

However, when it comes to outer space, this will be my final word on the matter:
 (From this website - yes! It's a tee shirt! Conspiracy theories in 100% cotton! Me likey.)

Film review: Up In The Air

Posted by Bel. The time is 4.15pm here in Wellington, NZ.

Up In The Air is an okay film. Your mum will probably like it. There's no sex in it (one bottom! ooh err! (not George's, calm down)) and quite a bit of the f-word, but not much more than on most telly shows that screen after 8.30pm these days.

It's fairly competently shot, with some pretty aerial photography and nice typography. (I'm not being flippant. Typography is important to me, very important. Lou can verify this.)

I've seen better use of airport architecture in, um, pretty much every other film featuring an airport, but I guess maybe they weren't too concerned with cinematography. E.g. Sam Mendes' Away We Go had a breath-taking shot of an airplane reflected and refracted on the exterior of an airport and Wayne's World has that fantastic scene where they lie talking on the car bonnet while the jet takes off above them. Oh yes. I went there. Just put Wayne's World up above this Best Picture nominated flick.

Because this film is really not that great. Thank You for Smoking was pretty good in terms of an American's stab at satire, although ultimately it left you with a hollow feeling; a slick movie about spin, that twisted your feelings but left you with nothing to grab on to. Juno was such a step up, with a solid emotional core and an actress the lead the film in a progressive arc - although still many people couldn't connect with the jargony dialogue, distancing them from the characters.

Up In The Air suffers a worse fate: characters that are not worth caring about, in a world seemingly populated with relevant issues, but actually buffered and drifting along.


Ryan Bingham* (George Clooney) travels around all over America all the time. His job is to go in to workplaces and fire people on behalf of their employers. This works out great for him, because he has Commitment Issues and doesn't like his family or women or anyone apparently - even though he is portrayed as being incredibly charming and, well, George Clooneyesque.

When a young upstart (she's totes Gen Y! gross!) comes on board with a plan to do it all via video conference, the Cloonster is tres upset because he won't be able to avoid his Commitment Issues any more. But also there is a love interest on the scene. She says, "Imagine I am you but with a vagina". I would not think that would be a good pick up line, but it seem to do the trick.

There are lots of short inserts of people being made redundant. At first I thought, "Oh, wow, yes - America's slow slide into financial ruin, how pertinent" but then by the end of the film it just felt glib. It had been a movie about the elite, about those who care about luxury, about privilege. Gen Y quits her job - and there is no reaction to this being an incredibly precarious move in light of the awful economic conditions, because, no, this is not a film about the economic conditions, despite its half-hearted attempt to gesture in that direction

And to top it off, the film is a goddam 100 minute infomercial. The product placements are all so integral that we forget that the logos and the name dropping are all highly sort after, complexly negotiated and extremely expensive advertisements. We get just an embedded reference to how Hilton's something something preferred customer card is just tops, delivered by our friend George on that huge screen as we munch on another handful of popcorn.


I also felt the portrayal of the women in this film was pretty average-to-downright-shocking. The scene where they talk about their "perfect men" had me literally howling. Who writes this shit?? (Oh, that's right...)

This is not a Best Picture movie. If George Clooney wins Best Actor for this, I will throw myself down on the ground and hammer my fists and feet into the carpet like a hysterical wee toddler. His talent is wasted here. This is Ocean's 11 level acting for him.

And it is yet another demonstration of the bigoted, misogynistic, creaking and decrepit system that is Hollywood that both (both!) women in this film have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress, taking two of the five slots. You cannot tell me that the Academy scaled far and wide and could not find women performing better roles than these in the last year...

* Did anyone else find it weird that this character had the same name as Ryan Bingham the singer? I realise no one else had heard of him until Crazy Heart got nominated last month, but still... weird.


Oh look: Ryan Bingham himself finds it weird. But he got to hang out with George Clooney. And he made the rookie mistake of being drinking at the bar when they won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Awesome.

Less than a week til the Oscars...

Posted by Bel. The time is 3.42pm here in Wellington, NZ.

How excited are you? I am average-to-mediumly excited. Probably more excited than you, if we are doing this on a scale of normal-people-excitedlyness. But probably not as excited as Gabourey Sidibe, waiting to hear back if Justin Timberlake is free to be her date for the big night!

There has been lots of things going on as the Academy Awards approach. Apparently Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep were co-awarded Best Actress at the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics Choice awards, which resulted in this display of mutual joy:

Who is that in the background? It kinda looks like, um, Amy Poehler's husband. Will Arnett, is that his name? He is totally digging it, anyway.

Kathryn Bigelow continues to advance strongly upon that gleaming statuette engraved with 'Best Director'. She scooped up the BAFTA, being the first woman to do so, and whilst wearing a smokin' hot disco mini.


I would like to see James Cameron attempt any kind of acceptance speech in heels that high. Yowzers.

As well as the continued bickering and battling about whether or not this is a battle of the sexes/exes, there have been other controversies surrounding the 82nd Academy Awards.

Novelist Walter Kirn wrote the book Up In The Air, the film version of which, starring George Clooney, has been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, amongst other things. (Ohhh, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress x2, you know...) And yet this creative originator received a big ole snub, with no golden ticket to the Oscars ceremony.

Perhaps, as a writer myself, I'm a little biased. I've often wondered how it would feel to have material taken and crafted into something different by people who work in another media. But clearly this has gone on to be a huge success. And as the man himself said, "I want to be there in the same way you want to be at your high school graduation or your best friend’s birthday party." Awwhh! Poor dude.

Maybe the Cloonster could've taken along a cardboard cutout of him??

But, fear not, Kirn took to Twitter and his plaintive tweets finally wrangled him a ticket to the ceremony - as well as a bunch of extra publicity.

Some are already doing the red carpet rounds, and Livia Firth is documenting the awards season frenzy, as well as doing her best to keep it enviromentally sound.

Who's that you ask?

Oh, well, she is just the woman married to THIS GUY:
Haha - that was the internet equivalent of kicking Lou in the ovaries.

Livia Firth (or Mrs Colin Firth, as the mail that arrives at their gracious home might sometimes be addressed) is blogging for Vogue UK on her 'Green Carpet Challenge'.

It is a great insider's view to all the faffing about and trying on of frocks and so on that goes with these kind of events - but to see someone dedicated to thinking about sustainable products and ethical fashion at the same time is really refreshing.


She also comes across as quite funny and smart. (Sorry, Lou.) (I do think she should have gone with that greenish frock and not the yellow for the BAFTAs, if that helps.)