Grandma

She sat there in her leather chair,

Watching the glowing television.

It was a soap opera of course, that had caught her attention, I wonder who was sleeping with who this week. I could never know as it was in Portuguese, so I had no hope.

As she sat and watched in her hunched position of comfort I began to notice her rhythm.

A cough here, a laugh there and every so often she would mutter something in Portuguese about these people. I don’t know the words but I can tell from the intonation that it was something along the lines of “Oh my god!” or “What a silly girl” or when she was feeling extra adventurous “That is absolutely ridiculous how insane for that to happen these silly people” but then again I’m only guessing.

It was simple for her, this was it. Cook for this long in a day, sort these things out and when I’m tired come here and catch up on the ridiculous plots of Portuguese soap opera.

And when she was done with it she would stand, painfully as her hips almost audibly creaked and body attempted motion. It was fascinating to watch her build her movement one step at a time.

First the aching stance of upright positioning.

Second the first step towards the TV, the most painful and laboured step.

By the Third step she was one her way, like a speeding bullet with no hope of slowing down other than being sunk back into the black reclining chair.

The Grandmother lived a simple life, a good life; the lady and her chair.

 

Legion – Ramblings about a TV Show

Legion, created Noah Hawley, is a comic book show that is in no way a comic book show. It’s based on characters created under the Marvel brand but it doesn’t feel like anything I’ve ever seen from Marvel Television or read at Marvel comics (I haven’t read the Legion comics they could be exactly the same as the show, I honestly have no idea at all I only know what I know and I don’t know that). It follows a schizophrenic, David Heller, discovering he has superpowers and that’s pretty much all I want to tell you, or rather it’s all I can tell you because having not watched it 5 times I still don’t fully understand what happened.

Part of the genius of the show is that it’s told from David’s perspective which gives the writers, directors, actors and show runners a really awesome template to basically do whatever they want. Because David has schizophrenia and all these insane things are happening to him the creators have the freedom to play with form. Specifically in editing and visual style. There are parts in each episode of Legion where it goes from normal TV aspect ratio to Widescreen format (essentially it goes from taking up the whole screen to having little black bars run across the top and the bottom). It’s simple, but incredible effective. It makes each episode feel like a short film that’s sporadic and insane (like David), but it also makes the show feel bigger than it is. It feels like it has a hundred million dollar budget rather than what I’m sure is a much much smaller budget. It bring the show to life, and makes you think of it less as TV and much more cinematically. It feels like a huge operation that intrigues you.

Now, let me get to the editing in this show, which is freaking insanely good. It has these insane match cuts that just blow my mind. The show feels so tightly crafted and honed, so specific and singular is the vision of the creators that every frame becomes a painting. There are shots (specifically when David freaks out and a pantry explodes around him) that look like they could legitimately be art.

An amazing thing about this show, and I feel like this shouldn’t be amazing but oh well it’s the age we live in, is that it forced you to put your phone down. Not just because it’s one of the most confusing shows you’ll ever watch and you won’t have any idea what’s happening if you take 3 seconds of your time to look briefly at your blank Facebook feed that hasn’t changed since the last time you looked at it. But because it is so incredibly well done, you are completely engaged.

Also the acting in this show is phenomenal, Dan Stevens plays David and is incredibly believable. He has incredible nuance and plays crazy so well I’m convinced Stevens’ is slightly schizophrenic. Jemaine Clement surprised me by popping up in this show and being completely different, but still as charming,  to anything I’ve ever seen him in. He’s charming and aloof and chews up the scenery every time he’s on screen. Aubrey Plaza plays pretty much the complete opposite to anything I’ve ever seen her in, she’s stunning.

Basically this show is insane and fascinating and like a mystery show wrapped up in a psychological thriller baked in a superhero show. It’s so bizarre and I still don’t fully understand what happened but it’s some of the best TV I’ve ever seen. 

A Vivid Night

You’ve done it. You’ve finally done it. You’v let go of it. You’ve released those chains holding your arms back. Found the key to the manacles wrapped around your ankles that lead to the ball that stops you from moving.

You’ve picked up the shattered pieces of your heart. You’ve found some glue and you’ve done your best. Your heart is healed, glued back together with the help of friends, and family and love and even a little bit of rage.

Tears have fallen, words have been said you have emerged, whole again.

Now you walk through the city that has been lit seemingly; just for you.  A symbolic gesture of the stronger, brighter, happier you. As you wander round the centre pieces of the festival and watch the children play, the light sparking and bouncing around you. You feel you are lifted in the lights and being taken to a magical wonderland of joy and life.

Energy pulses through the once dark city. You feel complete looking at this city that exhausts you. You feel you have said all you need to say and you are…

Free.

A weekend in a train

This weekend I spent 16 hours out of 48 trapped in a steel tube that moved me almost 1200km over the whole time period of the weekend. It was, at times boring and at times beautiful. I filled the time with scripts from friends, books from real writers and Game of Thrones. It was, all in all, worth it in the end though.

Travelling on a train can be, or rather is, paradoxically exhausting. You sit in a seat and don’t do anything for 8 hours and yet somehow once you get off and start moving again your body fails to obey you properly and all it’s searching for is the warm embrace of the flannelette sheets that hug your bed. It is one of the strangest things I find about travelling on a train. The exhaustion.

So the question becomes, what was I doing spending my weekend on a train? Why go to Armidale for one fleeting glimmer of a night only to return less than a day later. And the answer is simpler than one might think. There was no great bombastic reason for it. There was no extraordinary event that required I pack my things and get going. No tragedy that requested my tears. There was a friend, who wanted me to see him before he goes off on a big adventure, so I came.

It wasn’t actually as simple as that. This friend, let’s call him Ben asked me if I could come. I said I was poor and he didn’t hesitate for a second before offering to pay. We argued and he eventually won and two weeks later I was on the train coming to say goodbye.

Ben is one of the sweetest kindest people you will ever meet. He has an exterior that seems arrogant and it can be hard for some people to see past that at times but underneath it, not even very far down is the sweetest man. He couldn’t resist showing me his extraordinary kindness one last time before he left.

Instead of me giving him as gift for his travels he gave me a gift. The gift of coming home. The gift of seeing my Dad a day after his birthday. The gift of seeing my Mum. The gift of having my sister tell me alllll about her teen drama. The gift of seeing my other close friends.

Those close friends, Randall and Kyle, were even a gift from Ben a long time ago. Ben was the reason I moved to Waldorf, he was the reason I met Randall and Kyle and Maisie. Ben was the reason I felt okay going back to my other high school. If I look back at the last 6 years I owe a great deal to Ben. I owe him friendships and relationships and love and experiences and hugs and tears.

Yesterday he gave me the gift of being able to surprise people. He gave me the gift of love. I was exhausted when I arrived in Armidale and somehow seeing Ben, Kyle and Randall gave me energy and permitted me to stay up far past my bed time.

It feels unjust of me to offer these words as my gift to Ben. It is a poor gift in comparison. He gave me the ability to see all my loved ones whom I miss so dearly, and all I can give is some poorly constructed sentences and flattering stories.

But this one is for you Ben. For all you have done. Europe should count itself lucky to have you in it’s borders. They don’t know the kind of person they’re getting, but lucky we’ll get you back. I’ll see you soon friend, and hopefully I’ll give you an extraordinary gift someday soon.

A man and his guitar – For Dad

This Friday, it’s my Dad’s birthday. The 16th of June. The Gemini’s month. He is turning 56. Which means he is a whole lot closer to 60 than I’m sure even he would like to admit. I have never really celebrated Dad’s birthday. Or rather he has never really wanted to celebrate his own birthday. He’s not man for celebration. Not of his birthday at least. It always struck me that he didn’t really care. A birthday was just another day, it just so happened to be the day that marked him one year older, and dad isn’t bothered by age so I suppose it never struck him to make a big deal out of getting older.

He has aged well I would say. I remember very clearly noticing the greys beginning to filter into his hair. Turning his black thick mess of hair into a salt and pepper fiesta. He has always reminded me of George Clooney. His hair that is (not sure on the acting talent, I have hope that it’s somewhere buried deep down inside him).

So, I haven’t ever really celebrated dad’s birthday, I vaguely remember doing something like a dinner for his 50th (the big one) and I know that at one birthday or another I’ve bought him a book or two. So, this year I have decided to change that previous course of action.

This year (instead of spending money and actually getting something for dad, that’s be a silly idea wouldn’t it?) this year I will do something I don’t remember doing for dad.

This year…

I will write.

What do I want to say about my father? He his above all a fiercely intelligent man. He is clever and determined and if you ask him to fix something that’s wrong with your television and he has no idea what he’s doing he will spend 5 hours figuring out how to fix what’s wrong and refuse to leave your house (this is wholly true and has happened more than once).

Dad is a reader (or book hoarder take your pick). He loves to read. He is barbaric and warlike with his reading. If he is interested in a book he will lock himself away in his room and the blades in his eyes will cut the book to pieces in a day or two. I remember very clearly dad coming home from an early morning release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he said something along the lines of I’ll be in my room, if you need me knock. He then promptly locked himself in his room to emerge at the end of the day having finished the book. He tore through it like Ghengis Khan’s armies tore through China.

He reads a lot, I really cannot paint a picture for you of how much the man reads because it is so very much. He reads essentially everywhere he goes and he reads when he should be doing other things. His passion for reading and ideas and books (most of all books) is something he has imbued me with.

And for that I am ever so glad.

Dad’s fascination with the world and the ideas that people have about the world is something I am so happy to have been taught and one day I will inherit our library, or like there of (too small to be a real library to large a collection to not be a library).

Dad is also constantly starting and never finishing books. I would estimate we have about 2000 books, roughly, and Dad has probably started all of them but finished about 10.

Dad’s an entertainer, by trade (he was or is a musician) but he also entertains people. And he loves it. He loves to make people laugh and tell them stories and hold their attention. He enjoys making people smile and teaching them something they didn’t know. He loves picking a little nugget out of the conversation he’s having and if he knows something about it trust Dad to expand and explore that with the other person. He has told me multiple times he regrets never being an actor so I guess he’s lucky I like acting and he can basically act through me (it’s a parents job to live through their child I’m told).

It is important to note also that Dad isn ow an expert on relationships and I’m sure when my sister and I a re ready he will give us copious amounts of notes on how to have good relationships which I’m sure will come invert handy.

The last thing I want to say about Dad is that he is an extraordinary musician. He will tell you he can’t read music and he can’t keep time, which I’m sure if he was performing in National Orchestra would be very important. Luckily Dad does not perform in an Orchestra, he performs by himself. A man and a guitar. I’ve shown a few people Dad’s songs and they have all been astounded. I think in the past two months he has made 3 or 4 people cry with his song about his family.

Dad can perform fantastic renditions of just about any song he’s interested in. He covers songs with talent and reinvents them at the same time. Dad doesn’t seem music as this one set way of doing things. Dad sees music as this thing that can be constantly reshaped and changed and played differently a million times. Which is probably why he loves jazz.

But Dad wrote his own songs too and they are, unquestionably, some of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. They are honest and true and they are art. Neil Gaiman said in one of his essays (which I’m in love with) that the moment you feel like you’re walking through the street naked that’s the moment you’re really doing something that matters (I may be paraphrasing quiet a lot but you get the point). That’s what Dad does with his songs. He walks through the streets naked, baring his life, his pain and his happiness for the world to see.

Dad is a learner.

He is a teacher.

He is wise.

He is silly.

He is fun.

He is the most wonderful nurturing loving person you’ll meet.

He loves books and he learns from them.

He will never be done learning about the world.

He is my Dad.

The View from the Cheap seats – A review.

I have just finished Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats, (I use the term finished very loosely here because I may have skipped a whole middle part because I didn’t really understand who or what he was talking about and although I really did want to enjoy it I found myself not invested in Introductions and Contradictions and so skipped ahead, sorry Neil, one day I will go back and read ALL of it).

It is a book full of all the nonfiction Neil Gaiman has written (I don’t actually know if it has ALL of his nonfiction but it has all of the ones someone deemed worthy to put in a book so I can only assume they’re the best). It is a book that on the front cover has this: ‘IF this book came to you in a despairing night, by morning you would believe in dreams, and hope and humanity again’ (Caitlan Moran). That one line, and an exquisite cover, are the things that made me buy this book. When I had no business of buying a new book because I had 10 other books at home that I should have been reading. I bought it because I was in despair. I was sad about a lot of things and I opened The View from the Cheap Seats and I found that Moran was right, I was already believing in dreams and hope and humanity again. So I bought it.

And I went home on the train and I couldn’t put it down.  I did have to put it down at some point to walk home but as soon as I got home I called my Dad (who is my confidant when it comes to extraordinary books) and I told him that he must read it. And then I hung up and had dinner and then retreated to my room to keep reading. And I read and read until I slept.

This book came to me at a seemingly perfect time, a formative time where I was shaping my own creativity and doing projects about who I am (which I am still not sure of). It was a book that in the first essay and two speeches convinced me that reading was good. Or rather it re-convinced me. I had always loved reading as a child, then I went to school and I still loved reading but I gave up almost all novels and traded them in for comic books and graphic novels. It was much easier to read comic books than novels at the time of the HSC, you could get invested quicker and I still got my fix of ideas and magic. (Graphic novels and comics are far more under-appreciated than they should be, but that’s not the point of this essay.)

And so, I finished High School and wanted to read novels again. REAL books, (although this in itself is a contradiction of what I actually think of comics) I guess books without pictures would be more correct. And so I read Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters and it was incredible, then I read his Small Gods (also incredible) and then I read Moving Pictures as I went into a film course (which seemed fitting as it is all about film). And once I finished my three Pratchett books that filled me with ideas, and wonder I found myself yearning for something of his calibre. Something that would make me think.

It seems now, in reflection, that Pratchett’s books paved the road to Gaiman. I find it curious though that the first Gaiman I read was not one of his fantasy that he is famous for, and was instead his collection of Non-fiction. I can’t tell you why I did it. It just seemed right.

So, what did I think of The View from the Cheap Seats? I think it is inspired. I think it has inspired me. I think that it is one of the best books I have ever read, and as soon as I put it down I felt the urge to grab a pencil pick it back up and read it all over again; marking and underlining all the things need to remember, all the things that I know will make me better at writing and creating and just overall smarter.

It is one of the first books I have ever read where I felt myself thinking. Really thinking about what he was saying, what he thought and as I read I found myself in a strange sort of Deja Vu. I found that Gaiman was saying all the things I believed deep down in my heart but had never been eloquent enough to say and he was saying it perfectly. As I read I would keep calling my friend and family and I would read them excerpts that stood out to me. That inspired me.

Reading The View from the Cheap Seats was like coming home. Home to a world where books make you smart and writing makes you smarter. I was introduced to ideas I hadn’t thought of before and people I hadn’t met yet (in my very short life). I found myself reading each speech, essay or introduction left with a sense of wondering afterwards. Wondering about what Gaiman raised, or said, or thought.

I remember reading the second speech and already I was planning the words that would become this review (of sorts). I knew that this book would be good enough to review. That after I finished it I would have a need to tell other people about it, to express my ideas about it in the way that Gaiman does. I thought of this review and words in the phrasing of Gaiman (or in the best imitation of him at leat) came out. And so, I sit here writing this, in my best impression of Gaiman’s writing. He has inspired me with this book and I hope that he inspires you when he picks it up. Inspired you to read and to write. To think, really, about the world we live in. To think about what’s important. To think about why fiction and stories matter. And I hope it inspires you, as Gaiman says, to make good art.

A lonely girl and a hospital

The girl cried out in the fluorescent lit, pristine, sickly green halls of the hospital. It was a silent cry. Wordless and contained. A cry for help. For love. For friends. For Mum and Dad.

Once the call came from her she found herself examining it. Wondering what had caused it. Where had this cry come from? She was alone, yes, but she was used to being alone. Why cry now?

She found that this annoyed her. She started getting frustrated at the notion that she needed someone to take care of he . She did not. She had always taken care of herself. She had got this far, with her determination. She was strong. She was powerful and she didn’t need them.

Alas, sitting in this place that was so sickly it felt like a cruel joke that people were supposed be healed there, the started thinking. Really thinking about all the people she needed.


Because we all need people. All of us.

She though about her Mum and her Dad and her new family of friends in Sydney. She found her heart got lighter. She saw them all in her minds eye coming to her side, holding her hand and telling her it would all be okay. A hundred voices speaking as one. Saying the pain will stop. That she will be okay. She felt their strength run into her rising her up. Making tears a mixture of pure melancholy and unbridled joy roll down her cheeks.

She felt the weight of their hands resting comfortably in hers. Felt the comforting squeeze of love clasp her heard. And she knew, she would be okay.

It would all be okay. She was loved.

Why I love film

Okay, okay, okay.

So, you’re wondering why cinema is important to me?

You’re wondering if I’m 100% committed to pursuing this crazy dream. And that’s fair, because it takes so much effort. Because this life, that we’re going for…it’s difficult. Unbelievably difficult. And if you’re not passionate then you’re pretty well fucked.

So, I know I don’t seem it. And I don’t know why that is. I think at school, back in Armidale, I was ALWAYS talking about films. But I was the only one talking about films. I was the only one, saying “look how amazing this shot in Birdman in” or “holy fuck the editing in Whiplash is incredible” and really no one listened. So when I moved to Sydney to be part of a collective that actually talked about films, maybe I decided I didn’t have to talk so much anymore. Because everyone else around me was talking, and they all seemed to know more, which was scary.

That’s probably why I don’t come off as a huge cinema nerd to all of you. I feel like you guys have got it covered and I know that I love it so I don’t have to talk about it all the time. Also I feel a tad daft because I don’t know half of the films.

But let me tell you about the first film I actually remember watching: The Lord of the Rings (cue eye roll from copious amounts of people). I think I watched LOTR at age 4. It seared something into my mind: imagination and scope. It told me that this was as good as it could get. Somehow somewhere you could create a world that you could escape to and kill Orcs and eat Elvish bread and walk around with no shoes on because your feet were like leather (something I did for the next 10 years). LOTR taught me about cinema even if it didn’t intend too. It made me obsessed. Almost every weekend I remember watching LOTR. Watching snippets of just action and then running across to the park to Direct my own version of the battle with the greatest camera imaginable: my mind. LOTR was my gateway drug into stories, imagination and cinema.

After LOTR I was constantly trying to write my own stories of hobbits, or create my own universe like Tolkien had done. It didn’t occur to me that I was doing things that a film maker would do, I was simply just playing in a park. Imagining the world in the camera of my minds eye, unknowingly cutting for emotion and impact with every flick of my head.

It wasn’t just LOTR. Batman Begins was the first time I saw something truly dark and scary, it was my introduction into Nolan who became the lamp that lead me to Directing as a profession. There was Studio Ghibli constantly stimulating my imagination and getting me to think and to try to draw and write new stories. Avatar Last Air Bender made me start my own book series that I never finished, I also created my own plans for a sequel television series that one day I will create.

I didn’t have anything to film with so I never knew I could. I just knew that I wanted to tell stories. That’s all I ever wanted to do. To make people smile, grip their seats and cry as I had. I wanted to affect them in some way. Make them think, and engage with their imagination.

It was only in the deep dark places of year 10 when Dad handed me an article about Christopher Nolan when I was feeling down that I realised someone had to be at the helm of the things I had loved growing up. I became obsessed with finding out what exactly a director did, who they were and how they did it. I would read books and watch interviews. I found every behind the scene feature I could and watch and rewatch, over and over until it had shaped in.

This moment was when my love of film began to truly take hold. It was now a conscious love, that’s the only difference. I was consciously coming to an already long ago decided conclusion: I love film. Here in the beginnings of this I found new muses to inspire me.

Wes Anderson and his unrelenting style and control brought me joy in the dark times. I remember very clearly coming home to my father watching The Grand Budapest Hotel. He asked me who does this remind you of? I looked at the film, it was new the very end, Zero was in the chapel about to escape. I looked at dad “It’s Fantastic Mr Fox” and as soon as I uttered those words I knew I was hooked. I went to the library and (thankfully) they had all every single one of his other films. I watched all of them in two weekends. He taught me that you should always embrace your eccentricities and really just believe in yourself. And I’m sure he’ll continue to inspire me forever.

Taika Waititi is a treasured find of mine. His off the cuff, dry humour never failed to make me laugh. What We Do In the Shadows will forever be one of my most quoted and beloved movies. But then going through Taika’s filmography I found that he could do more than just be funny. He could create something that hit you in your heart and then tore it out: Boy. A hauntingly beautiful, quirky masterpiece of a film that made me cry hysterically and then laugh with those same tears in my eyes. Hunt for the Wilderpeople was my secret favourite film of last year, and deserved far more praise in a dull opening.

Damien Chazelles Whiplash is I think the most perfectly timed and edited film I’ve ever seen. Alfonso Cuoran has become ever more relevant, Children of Men is one of, if not the best, film made this century.

Film is a collection of perfect moments, displayed in a perfect way. It’s life captured forever, for everyone to see and learn from. It’s incredibly enticing to be able to add to the collection of human life. Immortalising part of your soul. I think that’s why I love cinema. It allows you to put yourself out there, your fears and concerns and obsessions in a very honest and raw way. It’s also a social creative experience. Books are written in a room by yourself, music is written in a recording studio with only a few people, even acting is a very singular experience. Film making is the only creative industry that requires other people. It’s this giant cloud of minds working towards a singular goal. A perfect example for what humans can do when they put their minds together. And with other people is where I belong. I could never be a writer because I need human interaction and that’s why film interests me so much. You get to make something, that’s your baby but it’s raised by all these different influences. It’s incredibly flexible and profound and it can change lives. Because cinema is magic, it’s a trick. A trick that convinces someone for a second that life is better, that life can be better and it can be different. Film is the only medium that completely encapsulates peoples minds. On that silver screen we don’t just create images with words that tell important stories that need to be heard and connected to. We create worlds. Worlds for people to fall in love with, to be swept away by, to be inspired by. 

(Written with help from Bon Iver and Alexandre Desplat, you guys make rocking writing music)

The Man

The man with the freshly cut, hairspray controlled hair sat in his orange rocking chair. He surveyed the party. He held his extra dry relaxed in his hand, every so often taking a sip and quenching his thirst.

He talked to his friend sitting to his left writing this story. They laughed and smiled and enjoyed each other. Slowly becoming friends.

He then turned to the platinum purple haired girl, talked briefly about his blond friend then turned to stare at nothing, as he finished his drink and laid it to rest next to him, among the graveyard of other extra dry.

He picked up a fresh drink and asked his writer friend to open his newest delicacy. After the bottle was returned open and ready for drinking he went off to help the blond friend.

Off into the night. Helping. As he did, and does.

The City

There are days where the City can feel demanding.

Where it can encompass, and drown you. Where it fills everything in sight with people, and noise and brick buildings built high about you.  The City can override your senses and rob you of your smile.

The sight of people can make you groan in the City, they’re just another nuisance. Another obstacle that’s in your way.  All you want to do is catch a sight of nature, the serene blue above the brick.

The City feels like a ball of lead that’s somehow buried itself deep in your person. The lead poisons you with apathy, laziness, exhaustion. The City makes you have days that feel like eons, and movement feel like slow motion. These days you just want to collapse into your bed and never leave.

Then there’s days like today.

Days where it doesn’t seem so full. Days where some unseen conductor quiets the noise, with a quavering hand. Days where every corner you come around brings a sense of wonder as you discover or rediscover. Days where you find beauty that hadn’t been before.

These are the days where you step out of the City and into some strange mirrored world where all the craziness that tortures you seems to be happening outside of you. And you can enjoy it for it’s chaotic beauty.

There are the moments where you step into a place with your close friend. A wide open place, so rare in the City, that lets you take a breath and think about where you are, and marvel at the concrete creations. This opening serves as a seeing glass out into the City, letting you see it in a strange gorgeous reflection of what it once was.

These days are when you wander to all the places you’ve already been, but when you arrive you find something new. Something to enjoy. Something to share with the person you’re with.

So, there are days of pain and exhaustion. Days where you don’t think you can do it anymore. Days where you feel alone, isolated, shut out. Days where the weight of the City feels like it might cave your head in .

And there’s days where the City feels like its carrying you. Days where you know everything you’re doing is right. Days where you feel full, happy, loved. Days where the City finally changes from shades of grey and miserable to brighter richer shades of happiness.

Which day will today be?