Test Fest Adelaide

Friday the 11th the Victoria Theatre transformed into a pop-up cinema for Adelaide’s new film festival, Test-Fest. 2019 is the first year of this festival which allows filmmakers to come and receive feedback on their works-in-progress. 

The Victoria Theatre is a mixture between a haunted Gothic setting and a dystopian hideout. Cold concrete floors were decorated with small tables and chairs, with wooden bleachers and wooden seats off to the side. Roof scaffolding lay open to the elements. Dim lights hanging from a single cord. 

Free food. Music. A pop up bar. Film. All the ingredients for a good night. 

People milled about, drinking, talking, watching. Children ran around the open space, flopping down on beanbags becoming distracted by short films playing on two large flat screen televisions in the corner of the theatre.

All of these shorts have been entered in film festivals and showcase the talent Australia has on offer. Test-Fest provided the opportunity for the average Adelaidean to see what’s been created over the past couple of years. Everything from animation about a nine-year-old girl who enters the world of sumo wrestling, a claymation adaptation of Frankenstein, and an examination of lost love with the recurring motif of rock, paper, scissors.    

Sitting in a beanbag as gracefully as one can sit on a beanbag, I watched Australian short after short, marvelling at the sheer talent and creativity we have. Now I can say I have officially cried in three movies: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Les Miserables and The Sandpit, by Matt Pearson, a seven-minute film about a girl finding rocks in a sandpit. 

On the main screen films which are still being workshopped were played. They were broken up by twenty- minute intervals to allow the audience the opportunity to give feedback through a short answer survey. Volunteers in high-vis vests walked around handing out clipboards and pens. As someone who is well versed in literary metaphors and techniques, visual and filmic techniques are a challenge for me to wrap my head around. Although this didn’t matter when getting feedback. Directors guided their viewers with the questions surrounding what they were most concerned about asking about everything from ‘was the music distracting’ to ‘what do you think about my main character?’

It was like an extended focus group, a chance for attendees to voice their views and for filmmakers to test their work. A safe space to show friends and family what they have been working on.

Test-Fest gave burgeoning filmmakers a chance to hear from their audiences, with the aim of “demystifying the filmmaking process” before the final product is revealed. It’s peering back to the curtain and having a peek into the inner workings of an artist’s mind, seeing the role of the director and their filmmaking process, to witness the work that goes into the creation of film. 

The suburban Gothic film, Carrie is Great by Bryce Kraehenbuehl, Alex Salkicevic and Lauren Koopowitz and the Cormac McCarthy-esque, and On The Road to Old Man’s Town by Andrew Ilicic are definitely some new Australian projects that are worth keeping an eye out for. 

Attending Test-Fest opened my eyes to the amount of local, South Australian talent there is, and allowed attendees to have an opportunity to give opinions and gain an insight into the often confusing and mystifying filmmaking process. It was definitely a night to remember and a showcase of our best talent.

 


For more information on Test Fest and to keep up with any future events check out their website or follow them via Facebook.

Review by Georgina Banfield

Header image: Test Fest Adelaide

Kingdom of Heaven (Director’s Cut) (2005)

Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven is set in the twelfth century and follows the story of Balian (played by Orlando Bloom), loosely based on Balian of Ibelin, a crusader nobleman who lived from approximately 1143 to 1193 CE.

In the film, Balian leaves his job as a blacksmith in France in 1184 CE and goes to help the Kingdom of Jerusalem (a crusader state created in 1099 CE after the First Crusade) defend itself against Saladin, the Ayyubid Muslim Sultan.

If you haven’t seen the film before, you may think that it beats you around the head with religion, but it doesn’t. There are other elements of it that make it interesting and compelling. These include family, friendship, and politics. I think Kingdom of Heaven has a strong Game of Thrones vibe to it.

The film premiered in May 2005 and was met with mixed reviews. But director Ridley Scott disliked the theatrical cut. Before the film’s release, studio executives ordered him to cut the film down by forty-five minutes, which inevitably streamlined its narrative and placed a spotlight on Balian. Neither of these were what Scott had intended.

A few months after theatrical version was released, a director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven was released. There’s more of a focus on all the characters, not just Balian. The narrative is also more complex and has deeper meanings to it, like the bond between a mother’s love for her children, as displayed by Princess Sibylla’s (Eva Green) love for her son.

Many people agree that the director’s cut is far better than the original theatrical version. Reviewer James Berardinelli even says that “there’s no reason for anyone to watch the […] theatrical edition” since the director’s cut has been made available. I agree with Berardinelli. The director’s cut should be version of Kingdom of Heaven that people watch.

Like all films, the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven isn’t perfect. Despite having more depth and scope than the theatrical version, it can be slow at times.

The cinematography and the film’s overall production design is spectacular. Kingdom of Heaven was filmed entirely on location in Morroco and Spain. The landscapes that feature in the film mirror that of France and Jerusalem (the primary settings of the film) and seem to not have aged at all since the twelfth century. The props and costumes appear authentic, almost as if they were plucked right from the twelfth century. All this completes the ‘feel’ of the film.

Despite this, Kingdom of Heaven’s flaws hold it down. I want to like it, but it didn’t quite hit the mark in the end. But the director’s cut is still superior to the theatrical version.

I give Kingdom of Heaven three out of five.


Words by Callum J. Jones

 

References

Balian of Ibelin – A Biography, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CnJDfdLayA&gt;.

Kingdom of Jerusalem, <https://historica.fandom.com/wiki/Kingdom_of_Jerusalem&gt;.

Kingdom of Heaven (Director’s Cut) (United States/United Kingdom/Spain/Germany, 2005), <http://www.reelviews.net/reelviews/kingdom-of-heaven-director-s-cut&gt;.

 

 

Worldline Corporations

I take a seat at Worldline Corporations in Bas3ment Studios at City Cross. I am advised that I will be tested for my eligibility to work with the time travelling firm. I am assigned an era, a job, and told what to expect.

In contrast to other Fringe shows I have been to this year, Worldline Corporations is the strangest one yet. It takes you on a time travelling journey but is completely digital. There is no one performing here, it’s all what you see on the screen.

This show delves into your subconsciousness and fears, focusing on loss of reality and fear of the unknown. Conveyed words onscreen, the simulation causes you to question your choice in travelling through time.

I discovered at the end of the show that this was all part of the experience. I don’t wish to spoil the show, but the finale is definitely a conversation starter. I will say that, if I wanted to, I qualify to join Worldline Corporations.

The aesthetics of this show had a very eighties look and feel to them. Everything from the computer on screen to the voices used had me seeing this performance as being inspired by eighties computer tech and time travel. Even though it appeared dated by today’s standards, I really enjoyed this as it complemented the story and gave it a unique style.

The show runs for about 20 minutes, the shortest show I’ve seen this year. Sometimes length isn’t the most important factor in a show but this one is well worth the experience.

Worldwide Corporations was an enjoyable and thought-provoking experience. I found its storytelling methods futuristic and innovative, all the while striking at my subconscious mind. While their run has finished, this is a unique and well-designed experience. Check out their website below for information about future shows.

https://www.worldlinecorp.com/

 


Words by Cameron Lowe

Four Stars.

Love/Hate Actually

Over the past week Tandanya Theatre, a mere two-minute walk from our beloved Garden of Unearthly Delights, has been host to some engaging pieces of Fringe pie. One of these pieces is Love/Hate Actually: a unique mix of theatre and comedy written and performed by Amy Currie and Natalie Bochenski. The crux of it? Simply, a discussion about whether we love or hate one of the most iconic films of our time, Love Actually. This is not a complex performance proposal, nor was it performed on an extragenetic set; however, it is a genius idea.
The subject matter alone welcomes a wide demographic. Alongside regular Fringe supporters, citizens of Adelaide who may not be avid theatre goers will find Love/Hate Actually a welcoming way into the venues and excitement of the Adelaide Fringe. As Love Actually is such an anchor in our film and specifically rom-com culture, there are very few people that this show will exclude: whether you like the film or not, you will find this night to be a hoot.
Our enthusiastic performers use a slide show with pictures, charts and videos to break down Love Actually for us. The minimalist set, with just a Santa hat or two on stage if anything ,enabled our performers as the witty, charming and highly relevant humour was enough to fill the space alongside their physical and bold deliveries. Amy and Natalie are intensely invested in their performances, undoubtedly committed and offer an infectious energy. Keeping us on our toes, the show consisted of a range of entertaining skits. There were quirky characters, cheeky send ups and Amy decked out as a Love Actually religious icon – rather clever as this film for many has come to define Christmas, in some ways replacing the original nativity story. From the audiences’ perspective, their performances make it very easy for us to drop our critical guards and be taken along on this highly enjoyable ride. There was genuine laughter from the audience all the way through the hour-long performance, which I believe says it all.
This was, at points, an interactive piece of theatre. Now, don’t go getting anxious. The idea of audience participation often makes us edgy as many attempts to involve us are awkward and uncomfortable. I have to say that Amy and Natalie’s facilitation of audience participation was highly successful, and extremely funny. We were asked to distinguish between Art and Porn and to undertake a fast-paced recap of appropriate office etiquette, yet this was all supported and well-written. Amy and Natalie appeared to have extensive experience behind them and a fantastic onstage and off-stage relationship, making their request for audience involvement all the more non-threatening.
This show will make both cynics and lovers of everyone, and its conclusion (with a sneaky musical number) will leave you feeling rather jolly. I encourage anyone and everyone who is seeking a hearty and warming chuckle to nab some tickets over the next three nights. There is a lot to love about this show, and really nothing to hate.
Hats off to Amy and Natalie for putting together such an engaging and passion filled piece of work! They throw their hearts into it, so go willing to throw yours (literally).

 


Words by Michelle Wakim

 

Love/Hate Actually is playing at Tandanya February 22-24. Tickets available here.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody is first and foremost a film about art. Themes of race, sexuality, and marginalisation are threaded throughout, but they do not define this flick. Instead, this film encourages us to revel in the brilliance of Queen and the everlasting impact of their music; in doing so, we also realise the spectacular nature of the one and only Freddie Mercury. This bio-pic begins at Queen’s conception, and carries us to their climax: Live Aid at Wembley Stadium, 1985.
The exploration of Queen’s timeline is fantastic, eccentric, and meaningful in this 2-hour masterpiece: the closeness within the band, and their shared love of music, was held at the centre, making it known that some of the greatest music in recent history was born from true passion. Mercury’s extraordinary character was captured in its entirety as Rami Malek gives a performance to end all performances – Freddie, teeth and all, was seen in every quiver while singing, and in every expression of tender emotion. If you are familiar with the entire Queen clan, performances from Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello as Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, respectively, are equally as accurate. Even to one who is unfamiliar, all four performers deliver embodiments that are endearing and highly entertaining.
The narrative arc works through the creation of Queen’s iconic tunes, as each hit uncovers unique meanings and diverse impacts on audiences. The jaw-dropping performances from the cast, alongside marvellous cinematography, combined with an epic recreation of the on-screen set, takes audience members to another time and place, allowing us to forget that we are simply sitting in a little cinema in Adelaide. After each song was performed, I had to actively stop myself from cheering in the cinema.
I think one of the most remarkable aspects of this film is that it was curated with significant input from two of Mercury’s closest friends – two of the remaining members of Queen – Brian May and Roger Taylor. May and Taylor embarked on this project in order to conserve Mercury’s privacy and honour his memory in a way that would have pleased the lead singer. As you will see, Mercury wanted nothing more than to produce masterpiece after masterpiece with those dearest to him, and to leave a legacy which encompassed his identity as a performer and an artist. May and Taylor ensured this film celebrates Mercury. Bohemian Rhapsody does not expose more of Mercury’s dirty laundry, but gives context to the scandals and drama that the world has already got its hands on. Our satisfaction with this level of privacy did not seem to be a point of consideration during production: an approach that should be applauded, or at the very least, respected. In this day and age there appears to be a general understanding that we are entitled to every detail, humiliation and love affair in the lives of celebrities, as if we own them. This sense of entitlement has been encouraged by information leaks and the fact that ‘drama’ sells. But in truth, folks, we are not this way entitled. Bohemian Rhapsody shows us this, puts us in our place, and asks us to admire the talent and wonder in the work that Queen sent our way, not froth over the issues that they prefer to keep to themselves.
The final thing I have to say about this film is that if you don’t enjoy it, you will at least respect it. It tells the story of a band of outcasts who produced work of such excellence they left behind a legacy far bigger than themselves. Bohemian Rhapsody focuses of an individual who broke conventions on a scale that we may never see again. For generations Queen’s music has been adored and is still sprinkled throughout our culture today, 30 years on: every time someone sings “We are the champions” after their team wins a game in primary school, every “Bohemian Rhapsody” sing along at parties, every reference to “Another one bites the dust” when talking about CPR. Without Queen, art and our general experiences would be increasingly different today.
Bottom line, go see this Queen sized extravaganza.

 


Words by Michelle Wakim.

Love, Simon

Greg Berlanti’s film Love, Simon is a heart-warming, coming-of-age tale that teaches us three important lessons: self-acceptance, general acceptance and that when you talk to someone nice online, they aren’t always a Catfish.

 

In all seriousness, this film – particularly in our post-Plebiscite Australia which left many people in the LGBT community feeling alienated – is a necessary, affirmative antidote. The plot follows Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a closeted gay teenager who, after seeing an anonymous coming-out post on his high school’s gossip page, impulsively begins an e-mail correspondence with the writer who goes by “Blue”. However, their growing friendship (and Simon’s secret) are soon threatened after he leaves his e-mail open on a public computer and finds himself being blackmailed by fellow drama student Martin (Logan Miller) who wants to date his friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp). What follows are a set of hilarious, awkward and tense events as Simon struggles to keep his secret and act like Cupid with his friend’s love lives, all the while attempting to discover who Blue is.

 

The film (and for the record, the book) avoids the melodramatic tropes that are usually expected from the young adult genre. The anxieties of coming out, even while being sure that you’ll be accepted by your friends and family, are addressed alongside the strong message that only the person coming out has the right to determine when and how they do it. To allay your unspoken fears: no, this film does not go the pot-holed John Green route and suddenly have a character die with an unlit cigarette in their mouth – it has some heart-breaking moments but ultimately keeps a tone of warmth. No character is necessarily a “side” character – each possesses their own quiet complexities. His best friends Leah (portrayed by 13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford), Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) and Abby are very likeable and we find ourselves wanting a deeper glimpse into their lives and thoughts. Even Martin has a heart of gold and genuine adoration for Simon and his friends (if there was such a thing as wholesome blackmailing, he has found it). I must also mention Natasha Rothwell’s performance as the drama teacher Ms. Albright who is guaranteed to make you howl with laughter.

 

What separates it also establishes this film as a future classic is the underlying mystery: who the hell is Blue? You will be spending the entire film as Simon does: seeing a potential Blue in any male who interacts with him. It is hilariously akin to how we fantasise about crushes; usually over the most minimal interaction possible. This worker at the café smiled at me while handing me my change – so I guess he’s the love of my life then. We naturally become so invested in this mystery that every time Simon finds out a guy isn’t Blue, we feel the same spear of disappointment being thrust through our hearts. I know what you really want: to know if there is a great pay-off to this mystery? To which I will reply, rather pettily, that if I had to suffer with not knowing then so do you.

 

There are people who will disregard this as a “gay movie” but this is a film which anyone can relate to. The universal messages of self-acceptance, friendship and awareness that people are struggling with things you don’t know about are always relevant – and necessary. And even though this film does centre upon a young man accepting his sexuality; this is ultimately a film about friendship and love. It is an important film that a lot of young people will take comfort in who find themselves relating to Simon’s situation.

 

If a film can make an ice-hearted cynic like myself write such syrupy tripe like “friendship and love” – well then you best be sure it is a damn good movie.

 

Love,

Well at the very least: Tolerance,

Me

 


Words by Jordan Early.

 

Our Giddy Aunts: Queer Readings of Mentors in Children’s Fantasy Fiction

With the recent revelation that Dumbledore, our favourite gay wizard, won’t be all that gay in the next Fantastic Beasts movie, I think it’s fair to say that the tide has finally turned; J. K. Rowling’s table-scrap representation is no longer enough. Readers are no longer satisfied with post publication declarations that an unaddressed, unimportant character might have been Jewish or something. This is not effective or accurate representation.

The thing we should keep in mind, however, is that J. K. Rowling wasn’t brave or unique in codifying Dumbledore’s queerness. She was just tapping into an unconscious trope that has been in children’s fantasy fiction since the very beginning.

Explicit queerness in children’s fiction is relatively new. The conscious and unconscious link of homosexuality and sex is an old and tough link to break, and is even tougher to get past a gatekeeping adult public. Children are not in charge of what gets published; adults are. It is these gatekeepers that are as capable as being whipped into a panic – like the one that saw the demise of the Safe Schools program – that decide whether or not queer characters see any representation in children’s fiction. Forgetting, of course, that children’s fiction is all about characters just like the bullied queer kids of real life. Children’s fiction is all about the ‘other’.

Children’s fantasy is filled with ‘others’, like Ged from Earthsea, Morrigan Crow from the Nevermoor series, or the inescapable example Harry Potter. Then there are those who might be completely of the ‘normal’, but find themselves feeling like ‘others’ because they’re in an entirely new world, such as the queer icon Dorothy in Oz, the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve from The Chronicles of Narnia, and the Alice of Alice in Wonderland.

It’s not uncommon for children to feel this way about themselves – approximately 1 in 4 children reported being bullied at school in 2009. This is particularly key for children who may be struggling with sexuality or gender, feeling different for a reason poorly explored in the fiction around them.

Even without bullying, growing up is difficult, and the process of changing from child into adult is a metamorphosis that overwhelms even the best of us. It is here that books become a key in figuring ourselves out through sympathy and empathy, relating our feelings of ‘otherness’ with those on the page.

These ‘others’ find themselves in places and situations that are impossible to the uninitiated. They require guidance and teaching to understand their otherness. In real life we have our parents to fulfil these roles. But it’s usually the case in fiction that these characters that give guidance don’t have the familial attachment of ‘parent’. They are the tertiary adults, who fulfil the role of parent without the prejudice and judgement that entails.

Perhaps it’s just that writers have bad relationships with their parents, but rarely – if ever – does the most important guidance required to see these characters through to the end of the narrative come from parents. It might be because the characters are orphans, or the parents are absent – both of these tropes are mainstays of the genre. Fiction for children lends itself well to wise older characters, because children’s fiction is filled with outsiders needing guidance, yet it seems that when parents are present, children don’t go on adventures.

Who does this leave? Teachers. Old women. Grandparents. Distant relatives. In many cultures, they all fall under the same word. It may have fallen out of fashion now, but that categorisation applies in English too – in short, we’re talking about aunts and uncles, informal or otherwise.

What better word is there for the adults that assume the role of parent in the absence of parent? There are honorary aunts and uncles abound in the real world. Why not in imagined worlds?

The word ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’ does not denote responsibility per se, but it does open the possibility of care. An aunt or an uncle is usually a temporary presence, but with opinions and power the same as any parent. In real life, as in fiction, an orphaned child might find themselves with an aunt or uncle.

The concept of gay aunts and uncles is not a particular new or interesting idea. It is a prevailing theory as to why homosexuality hasn’t been bred out of any population. In fiction, their presence mirrors the real world. If queer people exist to support the lives of children, then more than a few of the children supported in fiction get a little help from their queer aunts and uncles.

Children’s fiction is – for obvious reasons – devoid of sex. The only evidence that anyone has sex in the sanitised world of children’s fiction is the children themselves. This is not to say that the world of children’s fiction is devoid of sexuality – adults may be partnered, children may (and often do) have love interests, and male/female pairings are often implied by proximity.

If there’s any more egregious display of enforced sexuality, it’s in old fashioned children’s fiction. It creates love interests by convenience and proximity by pairing the nearest boy (of similar age) to the nearest girl. It’s not just something applied to the children in children’s fiction, either, but adult framed love isn’t integral to children’s fiction. Indeed, love interests aren’t key to children’s fiction at all. Alice, for example, had no need for love interests.

However, in a world where characters have enforced romantic inclinations, what happens where there is an absence of romance? What happens when a character that could easily have a heterosexual partnering – and has a convenient and proximate heterosexual partner – has none? Why are perfectly loveable characters single?

This happens frequently in children’s fiction because it’s not necessary to explore adult feelings. But adults reading children’s fiction can’t help but wonder about the inner lives of characters. Who does Dumbledore love?

The absence of relationships is as questionable as the presence of them, because for a long time, representation of any queer characters – happy ones, anyway – was illegal.

The absence of relationships isn’t the only evidence, of possible queerness. The circumstantial evidence is as varied as it is flimsy, but it’s no less flimsy than a knowing glance between two Valkyries in 2017’s Thor Ragnarok. Queer people have been forced to see representation where there’s questionable evidence and word of God for decades. Who would have known that Mrs. Danvers was apparently a lesbian without this handy Wikipedia article?

Fiction is filled with flamboyant bachelor uncles, and interesting albeit reserved bachelorette aunts. Flamboyance and extravagance are stereotypes now, but in previous years they could be seen as cultural markers. Dumbledore was extravagant and weird. What is flamboyant if not a bird that catches fire? Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci and Howl, though both textually heterosexual, were both flamboyant and extravagant in an era when the term metrosexual was uninvented. In the Nevermoor series from Jessica Townsend, we have the extravagant flouter of rules, Jupiter North. These are, of course, male stereotypes. The female stereotypes are little murkier.

The maiden aunt trope is one based in reality, and one that is replicated in many children’s narratives. When healthcare for women started becoming a Thing, so was Incredibly Deadly War, leaving many women widowed or without husband. How many of these women were happy to do without we will never know, but their presence has endured in fiction, even outside of the realm of children’s fiction. The Austen novels are nothing without their maiden aunts.

Of course, many of these women – in real life at least – lead unpartnered lives as wholesome heterosexuals. But there are innumerable queer women who would have found this arrangement invigorating, either because they preferred the same sex or preferred no partnership whatsoever. The maiden aunt could be seen as a miserable character, or they could just as easily be fulfilled and happy without a man.

Outsiders in their own worlds, they provide an anchor for ‘others’. These flamboyant uncles or interesting aunts provide a glimpse into the future for characters that are otherwise incapable of imagining a future as an ‘other’.

In real life, the adults we see as children are the adults we believe we can become. The most normal of which are usually our parents, and possibly our grandparents. If our families are large, we might see a deviation from the parental norm through our extended relatives – our aunts and uncle, our cousins and niblings, adults that don’t need to exist in a nuclear family unit to be happy and healthy adults.

When J. K. Rowling revealed that Dumbledore was gay in 2007, there was a short silence and then burst of applause at Carnegie Hall. Applause for representation? Or an acknowledgement of something that has always been there?


Words by Mark Tripodi

Mark is a writer and comedian. He is a host on Radio Adelaide’s Pride and Prejudice and The Range. He also hosts The Piecast.

A Trip Down David Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’ (A New Year’s Suggestion)

Awarded the position of ‘Greatest film of the 21st Century’ by a team of 177 critics, it is impossible to deny the worth of Mulholland Drive. Even someone as critical of director David Lynch’s work as Roger Ebert acknowledged the great achievements of the film, stating his feeling that Lynch had been ‘working toward’ the film his entire career.

It follows Naomi Watts’ Betty Elms as she dives deeper into the glamorous world of Hollywood.  The life she leads has all the wonder and spectacle a bright-eyed aspiring actor could hope for as they start their career. Away from the sun-drenched land of dreams Betty finds Los Angeles to be, there are mysterious goings-on and dark and dodgy deals happening. When at last, these two worlds collide at Club Silencio, the result is devastating for Betty and her lover Rita.

At first promising a loving tribute to the golden age of Hollywood cinema, the creeping malevolence of certain aspects turns the film on its head. Even its name harkens back to Hollywood’s halcyon years, mirroring the title of the famed Sunset Boulevard, a film of the era from which Mulholland Drive borrows, both being significant and famed street of Los Angeles. Another tentative connection exists between the two films as Sunset Boulevard features a minor character called Gordon Cole, whose name Lynch appropriates for a character he himself plays in his famed television series, Twin Peaks.

The stunning success of this riddle-like film was never a certainty, however, as the film was initially produced as a pilot for a television series planned by David Lynch. The television executives rejected it, and so the open-ended nature of the film, whilst a staple of Lynch’s work, was not entirely planned. It also served to connect the film’s content to the reality of Lynch’s experiences as the power of creatives in Lynch’s Hollywood is surrendered to the moneymen and executives.

To help people in solving the film’s central quandary, or perhaps to further cloud the matter, Lynch released the film on home media with a series of ten clues. Whether anyone has truly solved the enigma is  perhaps impossible. The film is woven through with Lynch’s familiar dream logic and denies easy answers. It’s surely fitting that a film set in the city sometimes called the city of dreams, and deals so much in fantasy, is this much of a conundrum. Only here, in this film, the dreams of the city are not all aspirations but also nightmares and horrors lurking around the corners.


Words by Liam McNally.

Ethical Media Consumption: Is it Just a Question of Conscience?

 

It is likely that you have come into contact with media content involving some of the following people: Rolf Harris, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, Johnny Depp, or Harvey Weinstein. Even if you haven’t, you probably recognise their names. You might even realise why they’re in that list; all of them have been embroiled in sexual harassment or abuse accusations. Some of them have even been convicted of it. Since the tidal wave of voices speaking out against Harvey Weinstein and his subsequent disavowal from sections of Hollywood, there has been groundswell of kickbacks and new allegations from all sections of the media industry. It’s clear that the Hollywood machine is finally beginning to take a public stance against sexual harassment and abuse within the industry. There have been some questions about whether this is only due to the weight of the public eye, but it is an important step nonetheless.

Yet in the wake of these reveals of sexual harassment claims, where does that leave us? Can we still watch, buy, and engage with art and media featuring people who have been accused – or found guilty – of sexual harassment or abuse? Is it even morally right to do so? Criminal justice research indicates that the certainty of punishment following a criminal offence is what matters most when deterring crime. Following this train of logic, by allowing actors, comedians, or artists to be cast, headlined, or promoted after allegations come to light perpetuates a culture of no ramifications. This encourages the continued silence of victims because no consequences have been laid at the feet of the perpetrators. Allowing perpetrators of sexual harassment to appear in new works diminishes – even approves – of their crimes. If this is so, what can do we do about it? On a question of feasibility – forget about moral reasoning for a moment – it is easier to blacklist a solo producer of content. Louis CK and Rolf Harris, the nature of their crimes aside, can easily be avoided and their work shunned. But for actors and producers, more questions pop up.

A movie or a television show is ultimately a collaborative process – and one where not everyone involved has a say about who they must work with. Blacklisting works involving actors or producers who’ve been accused of assault consequently means sidelining the other actors on same project. Often, they happen to be emerging actors whose careers need the support of audiences the most and who can’t afford to turn projects down. This is where we enter a moral quandary as audiences. Do we support the emerging actor, and by association also support the Weinstiens, Allens, Depps and Spaceys of Hollywood? Or do we shun the perpetrators of harassment and abuse and sideline the emerging actor at the same time? The answers hinge on a question; does patronising productions associated with these aggressors condone their past actions and if it does, what do we do?

When responding to this question, we need to accept that as consumers of media we have the power to discourage a culture that creates safe spaces for abusers to hide, thrive, and be publicly lauded. To do this, hard decisions must made about the media we consume. Encouraging a culture where abuse allegations are taken seriously means hitting Hollywood in its pockets; boycotting movies and being loud about the reason that we’re not seeing the new Woody Allen production is because of his alleged – and murkily horrificchild-abusing past. Tweet that the reason we’re not seeing the new Fantastic Beasts movie is because they cast Johnny Depp, an actor who managed to avoid a court case about his alleged emotional and physical abuse towards his now ex-wife Amber Heard in 2016. In order to support an industry that doesn’t excuse sexual abusers, it appears that we need to blacklist these actors and producers. No matter how it plays out, we must be resigned to the inadvertent negative fallout against actors who had no choice in being cast alongside alleged perpetrators, and hope that this does not amount to more than the positive change that shunning these perpetrators will do.

Action begets action. Movement begets movement. Change starts with individuals making collective choices – and through the power of the people, Hollywood will have to change or die. Fortunately, there are good people out there using the power of their own fame and personal pull to input changes. Just see Brett Ratner being pulled from the Wonder Woman sequel through a collective decision from director Patty Jenkins and her team behind the Wonder Women movie. These are positive steps forward for the industry and for cultural attitudes towards abuse. But if positive change is monetarily motivated, what happens when our decision to watch or not watch a film has no monetary consideration?

If the DVD is already bought and in private possession, the question becomes one of ethics not logistics; can we still watch and enjoy their past works knowing that they’ve abused their positions of wealth and power? Should we watch it and boo whenever they come on screen, throwing popcorn and muting their lines? Should we not watch what they’ve starred in, shunning old favourite movies even at the expense of not re-watching the five other amazing actors who haven’t been accused or found guilty of abuse? There’s a line of reasoning here that asks if the DVD is already owned, does watching it hurt anyone? Well… no. No one profits, no one gets paid, and yet… it feels that continuing to watch the work of abusers and sexual harassers also supports them and their art.

If this is so, don’t watch it. This is a hard thing to do. There are movies I adore and have watched so many times that I know the lines off by heart. Yet watching them now, knowing what I do about the one actor in that otherwise faultless cast, the movie itself has been soured. It’s desecrated. Watching it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and maybe that’s a good thing. The other option is sitting there with that knowledge whilst I watch them, doing something akin to going, ‘Gee’ I know Rolf Harris was a paedophile who abused kids, but ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down Jack’ is a banger you can’t not listen to’. Hopefully that thought sits uncomfortably with you because it does with me.

Perhaps the key to ethically consuming art and media lies in deciding how much we want to support a culture within our arts industry where perpetrators of gendered abuse, violence, and harassment have no safe harbour. Once the revelations about an actor’s abuse or sexual misconduct becomes known, it appears that the only ethical thing to do is boycott their work and be collectively loud about why. To do otherwise is tantamount to approval of their actions. But when it comes to their old work, the ethically correct thing to do cannot be dictated by an online article, but worked out according to the demands of the individual moral compass. But at no time should we forget their history or what they’ve done. To do so diminishes the violence of their crimes.

Can art, no matter how good, truly mitigate the actions of a person who takes advantage of their power and privilege to abuse or harm? Perhaps it shouldn’t, even if we can separate the art from their artist. No statement involving, ‘they sexually abused someone’ should have a ‘but their work is amazing’ with a ‘and I support them’. Perhaps we can appreciate their art alone but, to do this ethically, it should be done with the understanding that they must not be lauded for it, given safe spaces, or let their past be forgotten until their victim says so. They might be a great actor or a fantastic artist, but there are better ones out there – both morally and artistically.

The takeaway from this is that collective movement starts from individual choices, and our individual choices about the media we consume has an effect, for good or for ill. It’s down to us, to you and to me, to decide what type of effect we want to have on the media industry.


Words by Taeghan Buggy

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Taeghan Buggy is a writer, a poet, and a performer. Her work tends towards emotional gut punches and dangerous words. Taeghan’s immersion within ‘Arts Culture’ includes the New Wave Audio Theatre project, Flinders’ Speakeasy Creative Readings, and Adelaide’s open-mic poetry scene.

You Only Kill for Love

Only Objects will thrill the living daylights out of you with their new single

 

Recently Tulpa Magazine sat down with Patrick Lang, vocalist of electronic band (and self-described genre-botherers) Only Objects to discuss the band’s newest single, ‘You Only Kill for Love’. If the title brings to mind Bond films, you’re very much on the money. Created to evoke–but not emulate–the unique Bond sound, this is a perfect balancing act, and one the song achieves with aplomb.

In order to find the essence of the Bond theme, Patrick went back and listened to every Bond song again. He points to the Sean Connery era songs as an influence, acknowledging the significance of ‘Goldfinger’ and, despite his low opinion of the film, ‘Diamonds are Forever’ (both Shirley Bassey songs).

1973’s ‘Live and Let Die’ is another song Patrick refers to as an influence, as are the more recent ‘GoldenEye’ (1995) and ‘Another Way to Die’ (2008). The influence of all these songs can be felt in ‘You Only Kill for Love’ without ever feeling as though the goal is to imitate them. It is more a child of these songs than a clone.

Somewhat disappointed with ‘Writing’s on the Wall’, the latest Bond theme which accompanied Spectre, Patrick was moved to write something that felt more like what Bond is about. In the case of the most recent film, a song he considers a more fitting choice in Radiohead’s ‘Spectre’ was available but ultimately turned down, and released separately.

Asked about the less effective songs throughout the decades of the Bond series, Patrick alights upon the Roger Moore era as being one not graced by many memorable instalments in Bond’s musical ouvre. The late seventies and early eighties were a time of change in the nature of music production and Patrick theorises that the desire to keep up with these changes had an adverse effect on the Bond songs produced in this time.

Every era of the Bond series has produced a song that captures the essence of a Bond theme well, says Patrick. The Connery era had the memorable ‘Goldfinger’, the Moore era ‘Nobody Does it Better’, and the Pierce Brosnan era ‘GoldenEye’. In many cases, it is the first song of a new Bond that offers the strongest song, says Patrick, but he does not consider this to be the case with the Daniel Craig iteration. ‘You Know My Name’, the song accompanying Casino Royale, is a song Patrick considers a very good song but not such a good fit for the Bond series.

The process of making a song feel appropriately Bond-esque is a fine balancing act. A song such as ‘You Know My Name’ can succeed on its own merits but not quite fit the style of the series. There is an elusive essence to attain in order to ensure the song is sufficiently fitting. To that end, how did Only Objects bring together a song that matched the expectations of such a song? Patrick explains that he brought ideas and a demo to the band and they collectively workshopped it with their medley of instruments, including drum, keytar, keyboard, and synthesiser. Together, they managed to find the balance to work the style through the song’s components and ensure the song was one that played well on its own.

Due to the length of the song, a radio cut was a tough chore as the song plays like a spy film in miniature. It rises to a crescendo before the built tension is released by way of a dubstep drop standing in for the explosive action sequence, leading finally to the denouement.  The shape and essential style of a spy film, most particularly a Bond film, is present in the song in a smaller format.

Come the recording, Only Objects sought to make it as big and dramatic as possible, giving themselves full licence to kill. The size and scope of the song is to be marvelled at, layered with a rich musical background as it is. The influence of the Bond series can be felt in it but it is never derivative of a song. To this listener, the influence of ‘Another Way to Die’ and ‘Live and Let Die’ are present, but not dominant, the balance is kept well and the musical heritage this song taps into can be found should you only look for it – and there’s plenty to be found in a song for which the world is not enough.


‘You Only Kill for Love’ is released on November 18 on most online music services.

https://www.facebook.com/onlyobjects


Words by Liam McNally.

With thanks to Patrick Lang.


Only Objects

Patrick Lang – Vocals, synths

Cam Walters – Keys, keytar, backing vocals

Christopher Jazzcat – Bass, backing vocals

Gerard Spalding – Drums, backing vocals