Review: Lumumba

directed by Raoul Peck, 2002

“This film is not an ‘adaptation,’ it aims to be a true story. I want to extract the cinematic narrative from reality by remaining as true to the facts as possible,” so said Raoul Peck. Using archival images of official history (many of film’s pivotal scenes are moving recreations of famous still photographs and newsreel footage from Lumumba’s short political life and assassination), Peck crafted a documentary-style recreation and meditation for what might have been in the events surrounding Lumumba’s assasination.

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Read the full coverage from The Canberra Times.

From The Street Theatre leaflet:

Intriguing, dream-like, bawdy. The first woman walkes the paths of the garden alone… The garden is now a wasteland and the first man has returned to dust, his line departed. Yet in the midst of this, a spark glows. From it, the first woman fashions new life — to bring comfort, where now there is only suffering — a companion where now only death. But can the lives brought forth stand beside the first woman? all-mother combines rigging and harness technology with puppetry reminiscent of Company Skylark to take on Lilith myth and expand it into a feast of imagination.

all motherERTH is an internationally renowned Sydney-based company, specialising in large-scale performance works such as Gondwana, presented recently at the National Museum of Australia. Director Scott Wright, Designer Steve Howarth and Musician Phil Downing (also a member of rock band Faker) have combined with physical performer barb barnett (serious theatre) to make all-mother one of the most ectraordinary, visually spectacular theatrical experiences of the year and a great show by a member of The Street Theatre.

25-28 January and 31 January — 4 February at 8 pm, 29 January at 5pm.
The Street Theatre. Cnr Childers St and University Ave, Canberra City.
$15-$25, special rates for members and U27. For Bookings please call 6247 1223.

We packed up the props, wind generators, costumes, toolboxes, &c. into the van, headed to a local pub for the obligatory afters chit chat, and went back to Sydney at dawn. The usual comments are: great lightings, stage props and everything had a very fantabulous organic feeling, the sound was fantastic (go Phil!), challenging, confusing, funny Mr. Punch & Judy, great puppets, &c.

Review: Madness Explained by Richard Bentall


The book is divided into four parts. Part one deals with the history of psychology: it sketches the simplifying effect that Kraepelin’s classification had on the theory and practice of psychiatry and its growth, the triumph of APA, centred around Euro/American-centric ideas, that doesn’t sufficiently take into account cross-cultural differences, and how the production of DSM was greatly influenced by political and economic agendas (particularly DSM-III) as it strove to create a global standard in psychosis and to synchronise with WHO’s ICD, each subsequent DSM growing more fine-grained yet still failing to improve its kappa value. Continue reading “Review: Madness Explained by Richard Bentall”

Review: Yi Yi, and Shunji Iwai

Yi Yi (Taiwan/Japan, 2000)
directed by David Yang
George Wu wrote an elaborate review on Yi Yi at Senses of Cinema, so go and read his. (Michael Jackson from the gayer-than-gay pub downstairs is messing with my brain, sorry.) The movie is almost three-hour long, but there’s something about its lack of dramas and every day life contemplation (reminiscent of Ozu) that despite the long shots, make it a very engaging, accessible film. Recommended.

Shunji Iwai
All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001) is, IMNSHO, his best work. Swallowtail (1996) is less refined but interesting nevertheless, while Picnic (1996) lacks substance. Hana & Alice (2004) and Love Letter (1995) are sweet but pale in comparison to All About Lily Chou-Chou and Swallowtail. So yeah, those two are the ones I’d recommend most.

I’ve been stuck in a state of perpetual ennui lately, forcing myself to write these harf-arsed pieces just to fill this sad little blog up. Apologies if I owe you some  correspondence/replies/whatnot, worry not, I am well, just with nothing interesting to tell.

Review: Bus 174

Bus 174
Ônibus 174 (2002, Brazil)
José Padilha

Bus 174This has been oh-so-often compared to aforementioned City of God, but I like this much better. On June 12, 2000, Sandro di Nascimento hijacked a bus, and for four and a half hours it was broadcasted live all across the country. This incident would be known as Ônibus 174, the hijack never portrayed as anything but a prototypical psychopath with a plan gone wrong. Continue reading “Review: Bus 174”

Review: City of God

City of God
Cidade de Deus (2002, Brazil)
Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund

City of GodYou’ve heard the hype: the focus of the story is on ‘Cidade de Deus’ (‘City Of God’), a housing project constructed by the Brazilian government in the 1960s to isolate the poor from Rio de Janeiro’s city centre. It chronicles of the growth of gang warfare and the drug trade that grip the ‘favelas’ or slums of Rio de Janeiro.

Lots of actions that somewhat remind me of John Woo, you wish realities were that simple. I’d be lying if I say I didn’t enjoy it (at least more than I did Woo’s films), but it is uncomfortably unsettling to see all these one-dimensional gung-ho stints placed at the expense of underdeveloped, underplayed caricature of one of the world’s worst slums (I’m almost tempted to say exploitative). But I guess in “sleek” movies (whose main purpose is to, d-uh, entertain) dealing with these kinds of grim subjects one’s bound to find the drama/action to be trivialising the bigger issues. I’d say watch this as a company of Bus 174, instead of the other way around.

Buy the DVD at

Review: Motorcycle Diaries

Motorcylce Diaries
Diarios de Motocicleta (2004)
Walter Salles

Motorcycle DiariesAs a work of fiction, it was enjoyable. If the movie wasn’t based on such a popular figure whose face is on every T-shirts and posters, I’d have enjoyed it more and forget my usual nit-picking on the cult of Che and have less reason to feel such irritation about what it’s doing. (The usual problems with biographical films: hagiographic, too naively, glamourly romanticised, a charade on martyrdom all the while ignoring his savage sympathies and deeds, blah blah blah.) So to reiterate: it’s best treated purely as, well, a fiction not based on anyone. Forget who he’s supposed to represent, forget what this film is doing to those who wear his face without knowing what and who he was. Continue reading “Review: Motorcycle Diaries”

Review: A Son Called Gabriel

A few things have been hampering my ability to get words down out of the cranium. Before I forget, thanks to everyone who wished me a happy day of exiting (no, not exciting) the womb. I’ve tried my best to say my thanks to each one of you lovelies, but I think I’ve missed one (or twelve), my apologies. I received my first ever, wish-list present: the pages read and re-read, scribbled, dog-eared and lovingly snuggled to sleep. Dearest long-lost twin, thank you very muchly. I can’t put it into words that’d do it justice, perhaps after I’ve dusted the cobwebs and wisps of cotton from my head.

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