Oscar Nominations - Lou's thoughts

| Posted by Lou | The time is 11.08am here in Invercargill NZ |

Well this year I've actually seen a fairly good whack of the Oscar Films, which in some ways is bad as it makes me feel more peeved at the snubs and the dumb nominations. Therefore rather than being just my choices, this is going to contain a lot of moaning about the filter through which the Academy is viewing the year in cinema.

Apologies that it's not Bel going first - she would have made it all nicely laid out with bullets and videos and stuff. I can't be arsed.

With apologies to the many technical practitioners I have deleted for the ease of reading my unformatted lists...

Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
James Franco in “127 Hours”

This is the biggest no-brainer of all time. Colin Firth is going to win. He deserves to win. (In fact, I thought he deserved to win last year too after I saw A Single Man.) In second place I would put James Franco, who was absolutely magnificent in 127 Hours.

What I'm peeved at is the snub of my third place getter, Ryan Gosling. He was fantastic in Blue Valentine, and is one of the few Hollywood stars who uses his charm and good looks to..... make small indie films by first-time filmmakers. This has been recognised before with his nomination for Half Nelson, but I really genuinely thought this one deserved a nod too (as Michelle Williams has gotten for it in the lady category).

So has anyone seen Biutiful? Has anyone heard of Biutiful? I'm not saying nominations should only go to films we have heard of, but with Javier having a previous Best Actor nomination for a little foreign-language film (hold the phone - I thought Javier had been (rightfully) nominated for the (heart-wrenching) film The Sea Inside, but it seems it was actually Before Night Falls (in 2001, when Russ won for Gladiator)... which I've never heard of, to be honest) and having picked up an Oscar two years ago for Best Supporting Actor in No Country For Old Men, perhaps he could get a rest? It smacks a little bit of favouritism.

Though incidentally, the BAFTAS have made the exact same choices in this category so perhaps I should shutthefuckup and stop being such a Ryan Lover?

Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”

This is a tough one - but I think Christian Bale will get it (for a film I can't bring myself to go see as it looks like one I'd roll my eyes through).

I just can't understand Mark Ruffalo's nomination. I like Mark Ruffalo, but actually thought his performance in this film (which I will moan about more later) was a bit shit.

Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Nicole Kidman?? Are you kidding??

I'm going for Natalie Portman and really hope she gets it as I fear they'll do their Hollywood mates thing and give it to Annette Bening undeservedly for a shite film.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

This is a tough category - I'm sort of torn between thinking they'll give another to an actor from The Fighter, and thinking that Helena was amazing as "The Queen Mum - the early years", and thinking that it'd be cool to have a youngster win it out of nowhere (Hailee Steinfeld).

But as I have only seen one of these films I'm going to have to go for it and hope that after years and years and years of being in everybody consciousness as an Interesting Actor, Helena gets something to put on the mantlepiece to show for it. Plus surely the Americans would love to have the headline potential of "The King and Queen of the Oscars" etc?

Animated Feature Film

“How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
“The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
“Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

One would think Toy Story 3 considering it has a Best Picture nomination. In fact, isn't this a bit silly as a category cross-over?

Art Direction

"Alice in Wonderland"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1"
"The King's Speech"
"True Grit"

Um... golly... I actually really loved the Production Design of The King's Speech, but I'm going to go for True Grit (unseen as of the time of writing) as I think it should get something, and it looked awesome in the preview.

You would think any awards for Harry Potter will wait until Part 2 has been unleashed on the world.


“Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
“Inception” Wally Pfister
“The King's Speech” Danny Cohen
“The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
“True Grit” Roger Deakins

Sight unseen, I'm going for Black Swan on this one.

Costume Design

“Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
“I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
“The King's Speech” Jenny Beavan
“The Tempest” Sandy Powell
“True Grit” Mary Zophres

Is The Tempest out? I wanted to see that... Um, well, perhaps Alice? No idea really...


“Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
“The Fighter” David O. Russell
“The King's Speech” Tom Hooper
“The Social Network” David Fincher
“True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Where is Christopher Nolan?! Come on people, Inception was universally loved and acclaimed... Surely these people can look beyond the timing of film releases?? And how long is it since we had a blockbuster that was clever and well-made and so loved by all types of people?? Sheesh.

I fear that Fincher might get it even though The Social Network seems to have only been loved by a handful of critics and not by the people who it supposedly defines, but I'm going to put my money (and hope) on Hooper. If I can't have Nolan.

Hooper turned a film about speech therapy into an entertaining laugh-out-loud, cry-into-your-sleeve kind of film that people look forward to seeing (it is the first film in years I have rushed out to see on the opening day), so actually I think he deserves it. (Though not quite as much as Nolan does.)

Documentary (Feature)

“Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
“Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
“Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
“Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
“Waste Land” Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

No idea whatsoever so in order to score some points with Bel I'm picking Banksy :) Plus Hollywood is so insecure they'll surely want to look cool by going for him? And create a little false intrigue as to who will collect it? (Well, obviously the primary filmmaker dude will, but you know...)

Documentary (Short Subject)

“Killing in the Name” Nominees to be determined
“Poster Girl” Nominees to be determined
“Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
“Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
“The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Sharp eyes might figure out why I have randomly selected this one.

Film Editing

“Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum
“The Fighter” Pamela Martin
“The King's Speech” Tariq Anwar
“127 Hours” Jon Harris
“The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Oooooh tough one! Actually I would have gone for Inception, but again it has been snubbed. I'm going to do a bit of a left-fielder and go for 127 Hours as I thought the editing was one of the primary ingredients making it an entertaining and horrific film.

Foreign Language Film

“Biutiful” Mexico
“Dogtooth” Greece
“In a Better World” Denmark
“Incendies” Canada
“Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria

I'm basing this purely on the Best Actor nom for Javier.


“Barney's Version” Adrien Morot
“The Way Back” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
“The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

I've seen one of these so I'm picking it! Even though I don't really remember there being much to the make-up...

Music (Original Score)

“How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
“Inception” Hans Zimmer
“The King's Speech” Alexandre Desplat
“127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
“The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

I think I need to give something to The Social Network, so randomly this is going to be it.

Music (Original Song)

“Coming Home” from “Country Strong”
“I See the Light” from “Tangled”
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours”
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3"

Gotta love a Disney song - let's just hope it's the PS22 choirdoing the singing!

Best Picture

“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“The King's Speech”
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3”
“True Grit”
“Winter's Bone"

I genuinely thought Inception was the Film of the Year. It was innovative, stunningly imagined, well acted, and had emotional punch alongside the massive workout for your cognitions. But it's not going to win. Which is a shame.

I hope - hope - it is The King's Speech because I really do not want The Social Network to take this title. It would just emphasise how up their own arses the Academy are and how much it is about the marketing. Do you know anyone who loved The Social Network? Who left the theatre saying "wow, that was really about us" ? No, you don't, because everyone kinda went: "Well, I guess it was fine - it was nicely shot and all... Justin Timberlake was quite good... um, yeah."

What the fuck is The Kids Are All Right doing here? It just a self-congratulation from the industry to the industry for being so gosh darned liberal as to have made a film about lesbian parenting. But heck we'll just ignore that the film isn't actually all that great, and that it shies away from depicting lesbian sex despite a keenness to portray heterosexual and gay-man sex in all its detail. High fives Annette and Julianne - you're straight but you played gay! But perhaps you could have, oh I don't know, gotten a bit more sexual with each other? You know that lesbians get it on, right?

Short Film (Animated)

“Day & Night” Teddy Newton
“The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
“Let's Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
“The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
“Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

I nearly had a heart-attack seeing "Day & Night" and thinking it was the Tom Cruise film being nominated for something, shudder.

I have no idea obviously so am going to go with... the one named after a cartoon film that I recently watched and liked.

Short Film (Live Action)

“The Confession” Tanel Toom
“The Crush” Michael Creagh
“God of Love” Luke Matheny
“Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
“Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite


Sound Editing

“Toy Story 3”
“Tron: Legacy”
“True Grit”

Inception has gotta fucken win something.

Sound Mixing

“The King's Speech”
“The Social Network”
“True Grit”

Well it is about sound and all?

Visual Effects

“Alice in Wonderland”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
“Iron Man 2”

Inception all the way.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

“127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
“The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
“Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
“True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Winter's Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

(I can't bring myself to delete writers' names.)

This is a tough one, but I'm going to say The Winter's Bone as it sounds like it was bloody good and I really don't want them to go with the obvious choice.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

“Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh
“The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
“Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
“The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
“The King's Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

Again, I think this should be Inception. I hope it's not The Kids Are All Right. I'm guessing The King's Speech.

I know it's Oscar Noms Day but...

| Posted by Bel | The time is 3.19pm here in Wellington NZ |

...but I have some urgent and troubling news I need to share.

[Yes, I started writing this yesterday and then got distracted and didn't post it, shut up.]

Besides, if you are truly dedicated to the awards season, you would have already checked the list on the official website and started a group email discussion AND SLASH OR organised for a dear friend to text you with updates on the announcement, if say, you were in Te Anau and unable to access a computer. For example!

So let's not talk now about how offensive it is that Christopher Nolan has been snubbed for a Best Director nomination or what joy you may feel that Sofia Coppola's film has been ignored, or whether Cher is a big baby for tweeting about how incomprehensible it is that her cinematic masterpiece Burlesque missed out on a Best Song nod.

Instead, let's focus on the fact that an Australian-born mother of two with an inclination towards hair straightening is WRECKING MY LIFE. (Not actually true.) Nicole Kidman is going to be playing Martha Gellhorn. Martha! Gellhorn! Yes, the very same woman I added to my Bona Fide Heroines List back in November year before last after reading her travel memoirs and reviewing them on here.

This article, which does Gellhorn the favour of presenting her as more than just 'the only woman who ever dared to ask Hemingway for a divorce', states that the production is an HBO TV movie, in the vein of the recent Grey Gardens, starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Apparently James Gandolfini is producing it, which makes me feel some warm fuzzies, until I remember that that must mean he has OK-ed the casting.

Even the choice of Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway has me scratching my head. At least he can act though - hopefully he'll be able to muster up some chemistry, in between knocking back the obligatory daiquiris.

It's all about the hair

| Posted by Lou | The time is9.30pm here in Invercargill NZ |

A reader emails -

Question: (feel free to blog the response)

Lou, how do you manage your hair? Mine is just getting to shoulder length and blowdrying it in the morning is already starting to grind my gears. I just saw a photo today on Twitter of a friend of mine (it was Steph! go check it out!) with UH MAY ZING looking newly cut short hair and am now feeling tempted to hack it all off again. What do you do with your hair? I wash mine every three days or so and that feels like a chore, having to brush it all out. Am I just lazy? Do you always wear it in the same style? Do you have fancy up-dos for going out? Please inspire me!
Yours, a regular reader and long time fan. (It's me, Bel.)

Thanks Reader.

(Might I say here: Steph's new hair does look UH MAY ZING.)

Well, I certainly have a lot of hair, and have engaged in a life-long struggle to get maximum results for minimum effort. Here is the full extent of my knowledge.

1. Washing

I wash my hair As Little As Possible (nowadays something like every 4 days, but I have gotten up to as much as every 6 days). I mean, who can be arsed? Plus my hair peaks on Day 3 and I don't want to lose that golden day to the drying effect that more frequent washing can have.

The key thing is to plan your hair styles around the hair washing cycle - namely, save your up-do for Day 4 when it's starting to get a bit minging and you need to hide it away, and if it works out fine, push it to - gasp - Day 5! This will give you better hair for the next cycle, guaranteed.

Here is an example of masking Old Hair that demonstrates the key principles - pulling it back off your face (taking emphasis away from hair quality, and keeping it from making your forehead feel gross), and maximising the fact that Old Hair generally sits quite nicely further down and thus the lengthy bits should be kept visible, such as by curling round your neck from a ponytail (if your hair is excessively long, like mine):

Maintaining a lengthy wash cycle does involve some planning ahead for me though - if the Big Thing is on Saturday, I make sure I am washing my hair Thursday or Friday, which means pushing or bringing forward the previous wash accordingly.

2. Brushing

I do not own a hair brush. I believe they are evil. If I brush my hair it ends up looking something like this:

This is not actually me, but it is scarily accurate

I believe many wavy- and curly-haired people feel the same.

I comb my hair after I have put conditioner in it. That is the only time anything is put through it. (This also makes sure conditioner is all through my hair, at which point I make myself wait several minutes, preferably with a shower cap on.)

This does mean that by Day 4 my hair is full of knots, so it does lessen the opportunity for romantic moments of having someone running their fingers through your hair. But oh, that's right, I'm single and no-one ever tries to so, um, yeah, not a problem for me.

3. Blow-drying

I was until recently Not A Friend of blow-drying. But my most recent haircut actually looked really good when blown dry, and as I was an unemployed bum for December and had a few Christmas parties I gave it a go and was really happy with the results.

I would not be able to do this on a workday morning though - it takes for-fucken-ever with my huge mop of long hair. But thankfully for me my hair looks better after it has been slept on (whether blown straight or straightened with straighteners), so it is something I could theoretically do at night. But it is still such a bugger for a lazy git like me I'm not sure I would do it all the time...

AND - and this is a bit BUT of an and - I found that it really dried my hair out. Like, disgustingly. I went and bought some heat protector spray to use in conjunction with it and it really hasn't helped. So I'm going to be saving the blow-drying for special occasions.

And it should be noted that my hair doesn't actually go straight - for example, this is a photo of me (drunk) on Day 3 of blown straight hair:

Versus a couple of days later on Day 2 of naturally dried hair:

The difference is purely that there's more frizz and a less controlled wave when not blown straight. Thus there isn't quite enough motivation to become a devotee of drying my hair to death and wasting so much time (that could otherwise be spent: sleeping, having a longer shower, watching tv... really important stuff like that).

4. Everyday Hair Management

So I've washed my hair very little, combed it not brushed it, let it naturally dry, and it's not Day 3 (aka The Golden Day). It's sort of biggish and a little bit frizzy and not really particularly Good Hair.

This is where we meet my new best friend - and you might be shocked that it has taken this long for me to meet my new best friend - the bobby-pin:

I fucken love these, and feel bad for not having previously appreciated them.

The best use is my Quick Fix (2 seconds and you're good) for all hair problems: I grab my front bits, tuck them round the back, and clip each side close enough togetherthat the ends of the bobby-pins cross. This keeps the clips in place for hours, pulls the annoying bits back to leave smoother beneath strands more visible, but isn't quite a half-up mini-pony-tail.

(For some reason I have a huge dislike of a half-up that uses a hair-tie - I'm happy to do it with clips (such as the ever-popular liquorice all-sorts clip Bel gave me), but just don't like hair being bunched on the back of your head in the way that a hair-tie does it.)

They're also useful for the serious business of Day 5, when you've really pushed your hair and don't know if you can get away with it and need a little extra oomph. This requires Bel's old fave back-combing (which for me is more back-fingering, with the bonus of sounding a bit saucy) to create a little bit of air to mask how disgustingly not-airy your hair is. I go for the back-finger twist clipped to the side with bobby-pin cross-over.

And that is literally the full extent of my Hair Thinking and Skillz.

For Really Special Occasions - like weddings - I will panic, try a couple of things, decide they're shit, and end up going for the Quick Fix.

Things To Do Today:

1. Not go to work at my old job because I quit.

2. Not go to work at my new job because I haven't started yet.

3. Say "QUITTERS RULE!" and punch the air vigorously.

4. Go to my hairdresser for a cut and colour. This is her Last Chance to satisfy me. Fingers crossed she's spent the break boning up on the difference between 'burgandy' and 'chocolate brown' because I'm not going through this again :

5. Sit in the car for six or seven hours as we drive up to Hamilton.

6. Be polite enough about the driver's pre-Big Day Out enthusiasm for Rammstein and its being played incessantly on the car stereo to convince him to stop in the discount outlet clothing heaven that is Otaki.

7. Not spend all my money at the hairdresser's and get some Minx shoes.

8. Participate in general car trip revelry:

8a: Text my brother "Pony poo $1 a bag!" when we go past the sign that says "Pony poo $1 a bag!".

8b: Shudder at the hideousness that is Levin whilst passing by.

8c: Scan all signage in Bulls to see if any witticisms have been added.

8d: Grumble about not being able to see the mountains probably, except on those days when the mountains are clearly visible and truly majestic and breath-taking.

8e: Cry out "Oooowhhhhhangooooo!" when whizzing past this tiny place that was only notable for its half decent cafe which is now closed.

8f: Note how it now takes even longer to reach Hamilton proper because the suburbs are bulging out from the city, like grease stains leaching out from a cheap meat patty left sitting too long on a paper towel.

9. Be excited and warm and fuzzy about meeting my nephew tomorrow!

Open letter to Baz Luhrmann:

| Posted by Bel | The time is 12.31pm here in Wellington NZ |

Dear Baz:

(I can call you 'Baz', right? I mean, um, I don't even know what to call you for long, so I'm gonna have to.)

I like you, Baz, I do. I have liked you for a long time. I saw your film Strictly Ballroom at the cinema when I was a wee girl of 10 years old and got told off immediately afterwards for attempting to flamenco dance in my bedroom, waking my younger brother up in the process.

When Romeo + Juliet was released, I was at a tender age. Nerdy enough to love the original text, teenagey enough to love the sexed-up modernisation. I bought the poster, I bought the CD soundtrack, I bought the other CD soundtrack. I put my hair in a deliberately nonchalant half-up style and wished more boys in my town wrote poetry in beautiful natural light on the beachfront (instead, they were more the menacing-cigarette-in-a-gas-station type).

In my first year of university, just as I was a public relations student realising that I was actually a film theory student, you unleashed Moulin Rouge. It was only 18 months since I had last been in Paris. You transported me back and you added a whirlwind of drama and glamour which included the most beautiful dress to bless the silver screen until that green frock in Atonement.

Then you made a film called Australia. I remember being aghast when I saw the trailer. I think I may've actually shuddered at that bit when Kidman's face, as smooth and luminescent as a traditionally iced wedding cake, peered down at the dark skinned child huddled in a hovel which managed to scream simultaneously "poverty!" and "fabulously decorated by the one and only Catherine Martin!".

I'd heard that you'd been working on operatic stage performances, Baz, a move which seemed both inspired and completely logical. I decided to ignore this cinematic misstep, much in the way we pretend that Guy Ritchie's Madonna film didn't happen, or how we must block out the fact that Elizabeth Moss is a grand ole crazy Scientologist and just focus on how wonderful and perfect she is as Peggy.

Last year there were rumours you had a new project on the boil. The Great Gatsby was going to be remade and you were the man to do it. I watched the film not so long ago and thought that its themes of the indolent upper classes and the slow rot of wealth were still timely - I could see Joseph Gordon Levitt making a great Nick Carraway (the narrator).

Next thing we heard, you'd cast our old friend Leo in the title role - a part made famous by Robert Redford, if not emblazoned in minds by the original F Scott Fitzgerald novel. Then the glorious news that it was to be Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan.

But now - I hesitate. Oh Baz. Just when it seemed that things were going so right, it all seems that things could go horribly, horribly wrong.

Baz, listen - honey.

Please don't do this.

Just don't.

Resist the urge.

I know how it is. You're away for the weekend, you're in Vegas, you're hanging out with Michael "Blow Shit Up" Mann and Oliver "Throw Money At It" Stone and you get a bit carried away. It happens!

You do things you wouldn't usually, you say things you don't mean. Nobody's going to hold you to it, sweetheart.

I always feel a bit woozy after wearing 3D glasses for a couple of hours. Was that it? Did you have to trial new fancy ones? Was James "More! More! MOOOOORE!" Cameron there? I can't imagine he'd be a good influence. Did something weird happen like that scene in The Hangover when Mike Tyson starts singing and you start thinking he's kind of funny and adorbs and forget he's actually a convicted rapist? Vegas is a crazy place, I hear.

Anyway, hopefully you're home now and have had a bit of time to think it through over a cool can of Fosters and have moved on from the whole folly.

If so, cheers! and good luck with the script and that whole shooting business. Let me know if you need any consultation on cloche hats (they're a personal fave).

If not, well.... *shakes fist*

Love, your fan,

Bel xxx

Farrell and Franco and Firth, oh my!

| Posted by Lou | The time is 6.26pm here in London UK |

A busy week's film going means a collection of three film reviews: The Way Back, 127 Hours and The King's Speech. The short version is that they were all fantastic.

The Way Back

Alright, I admit it - I put alliteration ahead of the actual main focus of this film, which is not actually Colin Farrell. Though he is in it, and he is very good, and in case you're wondering no I wouldn't say no (despite his dislikeable public persona) - I mean, have you seen In Bruges? The man can act, and he's sexy. Anyway...

The Way Back covers the epic journey of a group of men who attempt to escape from a Siberian gulag by travelling 4,000 miles on foot to India. (This is captioned at the very beginning of the film, in case you're currently screeching SPOILER.) The soul-sucking horror of the gulag is ably set up (well, it was already planted in my mind from high school history), and you pretty much don't care who they are or what they have done - you want them to get the fuck out of there.

Their escape is through some absolutely stunning and utterly epic locations. If it weren't for the depths of human suffering being experienced by the characters in the foreground, this could be seen as one long travel advertisement for the Asian continent. Director Peter Weir and his team take these grand locations and create visceral and immediate scenes of hardship within them. I almost felt like the snow and ice was coming out of the screen to enshroud me, and was reaching for my water as they trek through the desert.

As for the characters, I didn't really feel like I was engaging with them as individuals (other than Farrell's delightfully psychotic Russian)... but then I suddenly found myself crying. I think the journey itself is so clear and so overtly motivated and it is all so big that I didn't really pause to think about them too much until they had already gotten under my skin. Or this can perhaps be attributed to the addition of Saoirse Ronan as a Polish girl who joins them, injecting a bit of warmth and spirit to their rag-tag bunch.

Definitely one to see at the cinema, but wrap up warmly and take a drink!

127 Hours

My initial reaction to this film can be summarised as: Holy Fuck.

**If you don't know the true life story this film is based on, stop reading now.**

The film is vibrant, entertaining, terrifying, funny, horrific, and ultimately very moving.

James Franco is perfectly cast as Aron Ralston, aka The Guy Who Cut His Own Arm Off. Within 2 minutes director Danny Boyle has set him up as a familiar type: the uber-extreme sports dude who goes out on his own to do crazy shit with little regard for his own safety. Likeable and genuine, but bat-shit crazy in pursuit of his own form of getting a life-affirming rush. As someone who has followed Franco's own bat-shit crazy career in the arts it was easy to see the appeal of this character to him.

I personally am totally and utterly mortified by the world of extreme sports, in a way where I actually felt sick from the minute Ralston jumps on his bicycle. Watching people sidle through cracks and jump off steep rock faces and fall into water just makes me cringe at the lack of safety of such situations. Yes, I'm a square. But the reasons for feeling like this are of course vindicated when Ralston finds himself wedged in an isolated crevasse with his arm as stuck as an arm can be.

As Boyle and Franco's imagining of Ralston's journey to the abyss unfolds it is hard not to feel totally emotionally involved in his plight. They focus on the little things that become Ralston's whole world: the quantity of water in his drink bottle, the attempts to use the tools at his disposal, the passing of each hour... Of course becoming emotionally involved when you know what is coming makes that nauseous feeling a little sharper... And when it comes, the moment is like a horror film - it is the first time I have ever wanted to cover my eyes and block my ears in a cinema...

In many ways Boyle's Trainspotting is a great comparison film for this - both take journeys into darkness and translate them to screen in a way that manages to entertain without shying away from the horror. If he hadn't already just picked up an Oscar (for Slumdog Millionaire) I'd be backing him for this effort.

And Franco. Franco. Oh man. He is just brilliant. Perfect. You know I love Darcy, but Franco is the one guy I would happily see rip that Oscar out of his grip. Truly an amazing performance. A normal guy, in extraordinary circumstances.

Definitely go see this. Even if you're squeamish - I am too and made it through okay. Just make sure you have a drink with you.

The King's Speech

I have been desperately looking forward to seeing this film since the instant it was released to the critic's eyes and everyone started saying "Firth" and "Oscar" in the same breath. Who would have thought that two years in a row Darcy would give us such notably magnificent film performances? I thought he could have (or even should have) won last year, and thus will be jumping for joy if he does it this time. But enough about my undying love for the all-time most iconic performance in a television period drama...

In-keeping with the visceral nature of the two aforementioned films, The King's Speech begins with one of those moments where you can't help but feel totally involved in what you are seeing. Firth's Bertie stands in front of a microphone to deliver his first speech to the people and... oh god it is so cringeful. Another moment for feeling slightly physically ill.

In a brilliant performance, Helena Bonham-Carter as The Queen Mother (or rather just Elizabeth, as she was back then) seeks help for her husband's stutter and we find ourselves in the office of Geoffrey Rush.

Now, I am definitely a fan of Rush. He is a brilliant actor, and does this very well... most of the time. But some of the time... he is just too over-the-top, too larger-than-life. Luckily Firth was giving the performance of his life (well, cinema performance of his life) as nothing less would be able to stand up to Rush.

Firth is wonderful. His Bertie is both vulnerable and strong; stiffly regal and desperately human. By the time his brother (surprisingly well cast as Guy Pearce) abdicates and Bertie is suddenly King George VI you are absolutely desperate for him to succeed.

The interpretation of the historical events of the time is quite interesting - Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson come in for particularly harsh treatment (I have no idea what they were really like), while Bertie and Elizabeth are retrospectively viewed through the filter of the wartime heroes they became for Britain. (Throughout the film I kept imagining Bonham-Carter's Elizabeth delivering the famous line: "The children won't go without me. I won't leave the King. And the King will never leave." The film stops well short of this, but it did highlight to me that she had captured the right spirit.)

I've probably made it sound rather droll, but actually it is a surprisingly entertaining film for something that is essentially about speech therapy. It is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, and also very moving. In fact, my only complaint (beyond Rush's tendency towards over-acting) is that I really couldn't take Timothy Spall seriously as Winston Churchill. Another to put on your list!

(For Pride and Prejudice fans there is even the bonus joy of seeing Mr Collins and Elizabeth in minor roles.)

Oh yeah, about that new job...

Posted by Bel. The time is 9.13pm here in Wellington.

I mentioned briefly in my last post that 2011 was going to mean a new job for me. In fact, I have three days left at my current workplace and then next week launch into the traumatising phase of being The New Kid. But hey, at least that's an improvement from job hunting, right?

The place I've been working at has been absolutely wonderful and I've had the best manager I've ever worked with, hands down. So why am I moving on after 18 months? Well other than the fact that I am a fickle and flighty Gen Y-er, my main concern was that I was on a contract.

Maybe when you work in the corporate world you can be confident that there's always another pot of money somewhere to guarantee an extension, but in the not-for-profit sector, you're generally hanging on by the skin of your teeth. My career so far has been devoted to the arts and various charities, and after spending a big chunk of time redundant, making sure I had work lined up was top priority.

The role I'm going to is a permanent one (oh yes!) and cherry on top is that I'm going to be part of a team - you know, people working together! No more having to bounce ideas off the wall, I will have actual colleagues in the same field who understand the crazy jargon I'm forced to speak! Oh happy day!

I feel very fortunate to be moving on to something that seems to be such a good fit. Though you never know until you've gotten stuck right in there - so I'll keep you posted!!

Lou's 2010 in Review (ie just copying Bel)

| Posted by Lou | The time is 11.50pm here in London UK |

1 Are there any things that you did for the first time last year?

Um? I don't know... I got made redundant for the first time... but that's rather passive... Err... Oooh! I dyed my hair red for the first time! Something I'd wanted to do for a very long time. Oh, and I moved into a flat by myself for the first time! Also something I'd wanted to do for yonks.

2 Did you have any New Year's resolutions and did you act upon them?

Probably the same ones I always make, and no.

3 Did someone close to you give birth to a child?

Yes! One BFF's baby born in September, and another due on New Year's Eve but as yet not born!

4 Did someone close to you die?

No, nobody. Hurray!

5 Which countries did you travel to?

USA, France, New Zealand, Guernsey, Greece, USA again, Germany. Wanker, and carbon excreter.

6 What do you wish for in 2011 that you missed this year?

Job satisfaction.

7 Which days of 2010 will you remember?

Meeting my niece, us getting pissed-as in Wellies, nearly fainting up at the Parthenon, my 30th birthday, the last day of my job, Christmas Day. Can't remember any others now let alone in the future...

8 Your biggest success in 2010?

Achieving my aim of getting a big redundancy pay-out?? No, um, I think it would be... shit... Well I think professionally I did handle difficult situations very well. But won't necessarily look back on any of it as an "achievement". Maybe managing to throw a great party?!

9 And your worst failure?

On the flipside of the above, not sticking to my guns and being more firm with dealing with the unfair treatment of my work (ie doing more for less and letting them get away with it). But then again I did the best I could so perhaps it wasn't a failure. Maybe I'll look back on my biggest failure as using a month of paid unemployment to do little other than drink and sleep!

*My real biggest failure emerges later on*

10 Any injuries or diseases?

Another trip to the emergency eye hospital, but the small miscellaneous object stuck to my eyeball had done no real damage so it just sounds dramatic rather than actually being dramatic.

11 What's the best thing you bought in 2010?

An electric blanket! A saviour during the month of -5 to -10 degree nights!

12 Any people that deserve special praise this year?

I would give special praise to Michael Ball for being so gosh-darned genuine and lovely when I was launched upon him.

13 Anyone whose actions shocked and frustrated you?

Personally, I was pretty shocked by a so-called close friend turning out to be a psycho hose beast. Professionally, I was pretty much frustrated by everyone at my old company.

14 What did you spend most of your money on?

Definitely rent. Waterfront one bedroom bachelorette pads are not cheap... Also flights! During this calendar year I've paid for expensive sets of flights to Greece and Vegas, then jaw-droppingly expensive flights to New Zealand that I then had to change for a horrific extra amount.

15 What really pissed you off?

Everybody and everything!

Like Bel, politically I am fucked off at the governments here and back in Kiwiland for fucking up the people who most need help and furthering the divide between rich and poor; all under the banner of this recession which was caused by the people who are now better off for it...

Then work, of course. I couldn't even begin to explain all the elements pissing me off there - from the failure of management and HR to treat myself and my boss fairly, the failure of my boss to have my back, and the failure of many of my former colleagues (several of whom were so-called "work friends") to even bother turning up at my leaving drinks.

And the level of customer services in the UK... fuuuck. It really is absolutely shocking, and unhelpful, and total shite.

And personally... the aforementioned ex-friend, and another friend who continues to stagger me with their supreme uselessness. I genuinely think my ability to get pissed off about anything and everything is my most dominant and uncontrollable personality trait.

But seriously - the thing that has pissed me off most of all is myself - specifically my constant inability to motivate myself. I feel like I am one of the most unmotivated people ever right now. I think I have vastly underestimated how much the battle to get a job I loved in my (former) profession when I first moved here, and the failure to achieve that, has critically undermined my former enthusiasm, motivation, go-getting, and optimism. One of the aims of my upcoming trip is to try and regenerate and come back refreshed and like the old me.

16 What song will always remind you of 2010?

I don't think there is or could be just one.

17 In contrast to January 2010 you're now...

Sadder or happier?
Thicker or thinner?
Richer or poorer?

I think happier, because I'm out of my negative workplace situation.

Definitely thicker (am scared to try and put any of my jeans on).

And definitely richer! So much richer! *rolls in money*

18 What would you've liked to do more often?

Seized opportunities.

19 And less often?

Direct copy and paste from Bel's answer: Pointless fictional arguments in my head.

20 Did you fall in love in 2010?


21 How many one-night-stands?

As if I would post the answer to this on a public blog! Which means "more than none".

22 What was your favorite TV show?

Mad Men is The Best, and Miranda is not far behind.

23 Do you despise anything that you didn't mind before?

I don't actively despise anything I used to like, but contrarily to Bel I did stop drinking coffee in the last part of the year. (Though no doubt I will switch back on the minute I see a flat white on a menu...)

24 What was the best book you read?

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

25 What's the best music you discovered this year?

Me? Discover music? Bahahahahaha

26 What did you want and get?

I was literally showered with amazing shiny sparkly things for my birthday and redundancy. Crystal jewellery stands out as the most important, Oh, and The Best Clutch Ever (thanks Bel!).

27 What did you want but didn't get?

A new phone. Must resolve asap.

28 What are your favorite movies this year?
Untouchable Girls, The Hurt Locker, Inception, Rachel Getting Married, Blue Valentine, Boy, Trouble the Water... I can't remember what else I've seen! It's like the second half of 2010 is a blur (or I didn't go to anything).

29 What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?

30! And on the day I had a full body massage (with an hilarious incident involving a tiny paper g-string and my winter grooming, ahem) followed by cocktails and dinner at a new old-school steak place.

30 What would've made your year easier?

Hah! Like Bel I think honestly being less lazy and more pleasant... and having someone to reliably go on all holidays with (preferably someone who provides other services, ahem).

31 What would you call your style 2010?

Dresses with cinched in waists.

32 How did you manage to not lose your mind?

Compulsive inter-hemispherical emailing. And money.

33 Which artist did you admire the most?

Josh Groban, of course. Seeing him live I realised he is a staggeringly brilliant singer and musician. Meeting - okay, stalking - him made me realise that he actually might be one of the few genuine celebs in the world. But mostly I admire that he came back from an embarrassing early career of being naively cornered into a particular genre (known as "cringeful old lady music" (case in point: You Raise Me Up)), and has taken back control of his career and his music to take it in a much more exciting and, dare I say, innovative direction.

34 What political subjects caught your interest most?

Fucking Tory cunts! Riot students, riot!

35 Who did you miss?

I missed my niece after getting to meet her and see what she was like at 18 months and know I was missing a hugely active and changeable year.

36 Who's the best new person you met in 2010?

Taking out the aforementioned wonderful people I idolise and had the great pleasure of meeting, I can't think of one stand-out person. I did make some new friends - mostly through work - and they are people I like and who very much widen my friends circle by being different to people I already know, so that was cool. However unfortunately none of them are friends friends, if you know what I mean.

37 Quote a song that sums up your year 2010.

Off the top of my head I'm going to take an extract from Patti Smith's Horses that retrospectively means a lot to how I failed in 2010:

I didn't waste time, I just walked right up
and saw that up there -- there is a sea
the sea's the possibility
There is no land but the land
(up there is just a sea of possibilities)
There is no sea but the sea
(up there is a wall of possibilities)
There is no keeper but the key
(up there there are several walls of possibilities)
Except for one who seizes possibilities, one who seizes possibilities
Seize all possibilities

And conjoined to that is Liam Finn's Better to be lyric:

Better to be looking for an answer
Out in the sea than under your bed
I’ll probably just leave it to the morning
My energy is already spent

38 Are there any important lessons you learned 2010?

See above! Seriously! Apathy/ Fear of Change is bad for you!

And generally, I had the biggest reminder of them all that you should never love a company because it will never love you back - also known as the "you're the only one who actually cares" principle of self-empowerment.

2010 in review

| Posted by Bel | The time is 11.06am here in Wellington NZ |

1 Are there any things that you did for the first time last year?

I went back to a hairdresser and asked her to re-do my hair. I felt vomitous doing it, and could see she was mortified to be told I didn't like what she'd done, but it was worth it in the end.

2 Did you have any New Year's resolutions and did you act upon them?

Hmm. I do not know. Shall we say yes, and no?

3 Did someone close to you give birth to a child?

I have a nephew that I am yet to meet - we'll be catching up next weekend.

4 Did someone close to you die?

Unless you count Alexander McQueen, no.

5 Which countries did you travel to?

None. Boo.

6 What do you wish for in 2011 that you missed this year?

A remedy to #5 above.

7 Which days of 2010 will you remember?

Any day where I got a chance to lie on my bed undisturbed in the afternoon sun reading.

8 Your biggest success in 2010?

Probably professionally? I learnt a lot, kicked the ass of the projects I needed to, and then landed a new job.

9 And your worst failure?

 No doubt personally. I am regularly disappointed in myself and my ability to manage well my relationships with the people close to me.

10 Any injuries or diseases?

I briefly got pityriasis rosea which was freakin weird.

11 What's the best thing you bought in 2010?

  • Hot rollers
  • Smartphone
  • Boots from Country Road

12 Any people that deserve special praise this year?

I gave these ladies props back in September for their inspiration in my life. I should probably also give a shout-out to Wholly Bagel on Willis Street for their regular provision of a naked jalapeno cheddar bagel (sliced).

13 Anyone whose actions shocked and frustrated you?

Pretty much EVERYONE'S. I am easily scandalised.

14 What did you spend most of your money on?

Rent. And food has gotten more and more expensive as the year has gone on. And we'd just dropped a grand on fixing up shit on our car a month before it got nicked. (Sigh.)

15 What really pissed you off?

Mostly the way John Key and the National government have consistently fucked things up for average New Zealanders and yet so many people are acting like it's a huge favour to have him around.

16 What song will always remind you of 2010?

Maybe Empire State of Mind?

17 In contrast to January 2010 you're now...

Sadder or happier?
Thicker or thinner?
Richer or poorer?

I really think this has been a pretty even-keel year. Maybe that's because 2009 was so all over the place? I mean, sure, we moved house, but in 2009, we moved house twice. I worked the same job for the whole year in 2010, as opposed to 2009, which was the most insane year I have ever had professionally (and pray to God will ever have).

18 What would you've liked to do more often?

Take time off. I feel like I didn't get away much in 2010.

Sometimes staying put in Wellington was a much more attractive option (such as when Lou come over to visit and entertain me at Easter) but other times, I just wound up frustrated - like when we'd planned to go up to Hamilton and then wound up car-less.
19 And less often?

Pointless fictional arguments in my head.

20 Did you fall in love in 2010?


21 How many one-night-stands?

I now get to have double date sleep-overs and they're just as much fun, with zero chance of picking up an STI.

22 What was your favorite TV show?

Mad Men reigned supreme. But Community has been a recent discovery which goes to the top of the list.

23 Do you despise anything that you didn't mind before?

Umm. I can say something that is the opposite? I started drinking coffee again for the first time in five years. Dear beloved coffee. I only have it very occasional, but oh. OH. It is so good when I do.

24 What was the best book you read?

I will blog about The List and update on my reading, honest! HONEST!! (Quickly though: Philip Hoare's Leviathan and Jane Fonda's autobiography were both amazing.)

25 What's the best music you discovered this year?

  • Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Amanda Blank
  • The xx

26 What did you want and get?

Heaps of stuff. More than is decent.

27 What did you want but didn't get?

Laptop. Flat screen telly. BECAUSE MY FAMILY'S POOR, KENNY.

28 What are your favorite movies this year?
(In no particular order)
  • Sin Nombre
  • Black Swan
  • Inception
  • Harry Brown 
  • Shutter Island
  • Some Like It Hot (yes, of course I'd seen it before)
  • Singing In The Rain (as above)
  • The Philadephia Story (as above)
And hey? Guess which film sucked? Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lovely Bones! My review of it, which pointed out quite clearly how badly it sucked, is the most read article thing on this damn blog.

Many, many people have landed at the URL throughout 2010 after searching for "the lovely bones sucks" or "the lovely bones movie sucked" and even the singular, but stinging, "the lovely bones worse movie ever" and also, yes, "lovely bones is fucking boring". You won't find me disagreeing folks!

29 What did you do on your birthday and how old did you turn?

I turned 28 on the 29th in the middle of the year's dark cold months. I wore a leopard-print dress and got my hair did. (There are zero photos to prove this ever happened, sorry.) The night finished in the early hours dancing to The Gossip on the tiny floor space of our apartment with friends of friends I'd never met before.

30 What would've made your year easier?

Oh, it's so easy to say money, but probably being less lazy and more pleasant would have made things run a lot smoother, really.
31 What would you call your style 2010?

Jane Russell meets Little Edie.

32 How did you manage to not lose your mind?

And what evidence are you basing this on?

33 Which artist did you admire the most?

Audrey Kawasaki

34 What political subjects caught your interest most?

Abortion rights and anti-whaling.

35 Who did you miss?

Half my friends live overseas. Boo.

36 Who's the best new person you met in 2010?

I don't actually think I made any new friends this year just been. I went out for a girls' night with my husband's boss, but that almost feels like your mum setting you up on a blind date, you know??

37 Quote a song that sums up your year 2010.

To the bottom of the mineshaft
The list of things of I used to be is longer than the list of things I am
Ex-lover, ex-friend
Ex-communicated atheist, expatriate
Living in the heartland
Living on the small chance
Luck would save the last dance
For an underrated writer, overrated rapper
Undecided major on an unrelated matter
One day I'd like to say what all the tug-o'-war was for
More than slack rope, more than sun stroke
Than rum soaked in sad jokes at rap shows
Some folks know how slow that trap closes, proses, closest
Have ever been to feeling like I found it
I'm not a writer I just drink a lot about it
If diamonds are a girl's best friend
Then you can share a fine laugh and you can
Send me back to the bottom of the mineshaft

I've been here before and I know where it goes
It goes down

Snow falls fast and thin
Angels ash Virginia Slims
And if we've come a long way then I suspect it's sideways, further from our origin,
No closer to our destination
I'm bad with names, shit, I'm bad with faces
I'm bad with bills and little kids and well-lit places
I'm beginning to write like Anna Karenina, give me a minute, a mic
A little to like, get rid of the spite, a bit of the pride to fight
You tried, you're right fried (you're live on all lines)
You're tired, you're fired
You're inside of the lie
It's a brilliant design
It's like, "Just act surprised"
I lost some money on the weighted dice
I lost an octave to the Camel Lights
And when I lost you, I lost some good love and a hand to bite
I lost a friend to my wit and my pride
I'd rather sit while you drive

I've been here before and I know where it goes
It goes down

"Mineshaft" - Dessa

38 Are there any important lessons you learned 2010?

When making bellinis, add the pureed peaches after the bubbles.

I got this template of questions from Susie Bright's Journal (N entirely SFW, if you are in the sad circumstances of being at W right now)