Tuesday, 22 April 2014


I have vague memories of watching Pocahontas at the cinemas with my sisters, but beyond Colors of the Wind (which I sang under duress as part of a school choir), nothing stuck particularly in my mind. So I was excited to view this film anew with new eyes as part of The Film Experience's fabulous Hit Me With Your Best Shot series. Unfortunately, I found the film just as unspectacular. I found the film traded in obvious tropes without being particularly entertaining, and none of the characters were very complex or interesting.

The score and cinematography sure was lush and beautiful though. Colors of the Wind remains as wonderful as ever, and there were no shortage of frameable shots. For me though, the best shots are those loaded with extra meaning beyond beauty, imagery within the image, and in this regard there was a clear winner for me: 

This is one of the least busy and textured images in the film, but it is also one that captures what the film gets the most right: Pocahontas' determination and will. Her most valuable skill is not her beauty, curiosity or ability to pick up a foreign language in 2 days. Rather, it is her desire to run and forge her own path that powers her. And in this shot, in this moment, she is only running but not merely running - she's becoming a force of nature in her own right, her shadow self as strong and fast as an eagle. Her steely determination to put herself to do what she thinks is right and to stand up for her love is as dangerous and powerful as any of the weapons the men around her wield, and her pacifism leads to peace between the two cultures (as the film leads us to believe). It's the most powerful she's ever been in the film.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Less Impact Men.

It's been a big week for the environment, with Earth Hour last weekend, the International Panel on Climate Change releasing its latest report and policy summary, and the International Court of Justice ruling in Australia's favour and ordering that the Japanese Government cease its scientific whaling scheme because it breached the International Convention for the Regulation on Whaling by not being carried out for a scientific purpose (summary here). I've been recently writing ICJ case summaries for the online resource A38, and in particular environmental cases like the Case concerning pulp mills on River Uruguay and the Case concerning the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros Project. To me, the ICJ has always been reluctant to make major findings against countries, so this is the first time in the environmental context that it has so emphatically declared and ordered injunctions against a country. It's so invigorating to see such outcomes!*

Given this, I thought I'd begin doing my own bit for the environment, starting with publishing this post on No Impact Man, the documentary I watched recently at the Social Change Film Festival. This documentary follows one year in the life Colin Beavan and his young family as they try to lead a carbon neutral life in New York City. Each month they alter something out of their lives to reduce their carbon pollution - transportation, food, electricity, cleaning products.

Like Money & Life, the other documentary I watched at the festival, it was pretty inspiring seeing Colin (and especially his hesitant wife, Michelle) challenge themselves and adapt to a better way of living. They persevered in the spirit of 'let's just give it a go', and if certain things did not work out (like replacing their fridge with a naturally cooling, sand-lined pot), then they could go back. Unsurprisingly, despite some resistance from his wife at first, she enjoyed so many of the changes over the year that what started as an experiment became a lasting way of life.

Can't Stop The Music

This is my second contribution to the Film Experience's excellent Hit Me With Your Best Shot series, and from the highs of eternal sunshine, we sink to the dark and sweaty strobe lights of the discotheque that is Can't Stop The Music.

Growing up in Australia in the 1990's, my first encounter with this film came on New Years Day, since one of our television stations broadcasts the film as a post NYE celebration tradition.  So in the wee hours of the next morning (which is really noon on New Years Day), high on fireworks and optimism, I was quite receptive to the film's excesses. And, like the bulges contained within the shorts on display, my sexuality was burgeoning in time with the music. Who was I to resist short shorts?