Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The return to the interweb

I am back and in one piece, just in time to salvage the few shreds of sanity I lay claim to. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, we landed late on Sunday afternoon and since then I've been kept fairly busy, what with my dad insisting on monopolizing as much attention as he possibly can. Yesterday was dedicated to a drive down to Robertson and today we headed to the Hunter Valley for wine tasting shenanigans. I am now cured from any hidden desires I may have had for long periods of continuous sitting.

Regardless, it is safe to say I am fairly ecstatic to be home. As much as I love my family and want to see them, that country is not conducive to my will to live. By the time we reached the airport there, I was wound so tight I was snapping at everyone that so much as looked at me funny. Also, is that a way to run an airport? What is with this new nonsense of searching your hand luggage just before you board the plane, isn't that what I go through a security screening for? Because if it isn't, then please pray tell, what do I go through a security screening for? Stop wasting my time!

Jo'burg is in absolute desolate chaos, supposedly in preparation for the World Cup though I sincerely doubt they'll be done in time. They are working on every single major road, Empire road might as well be a dirt street in middle-of-nowhere-Africa, and 99% of the time traffic lights aren't working. Not that anyone pays attention to traffic lights when they are working, taxis favour driving on the wrong side of the road these days. The place is unrecognisable. Now I'd pretty much written off the country as a hell hole years ago, so I'm fairly ambivalent to what new level it's descended to, but I think it's really hard on my mum - having grown up there and all, and she's always had a very strong connection to the place. I also think it was incredibly hard for her to see how her parents have deteriorated in the two years since we've seen them, age being an inevitable bitch and all, so this really was not a fun trip. I tried to be there for her as much as I could but it was really hard for me, my patience frays quickly and I do not have the constitution to deal not only with the vast amount of people who go through my grandparent's home in one day (in general you find yourself making coffee for twelve people at a time) but also the overwhelming claustrophobia that comes with being cooped up and surrounded by people 24/7. There's no popping up to the shops by yourself, and sad to say, I've become accustomed to a certain standard of living that I simply cannot expect there and it's too depressing to even contemplate. How people live there, I do not know. Especially people who have lived overseas before, it completely baffles me.

Really the most interesting thing I have to report about the entire trip are the films I watched en route. The entertainment system was playing up in the way over so I only managed to get in three full films, Where the wild things are, An Education and The Hurt Locker. Now, WTWTA was everything I expected it to be, absolutely gorgeous and with a slow burning emotion that is absolutely captivating. A beautiful, beautiful film....that I took far too long to see. An Education stars everyone's favourite Who-lite actress, Carey Mulligan aka Sally Sparrow, and I have come to the conclusion that she is utterly brilliant. The film deals with a 16 year old school girl Jenny being swept up by charismatic older man David and how her life and ideals change as she becomes immersed in his seemingly sophisticated lifestyle. I loved this film. Jenny's thirst for knowledge and culture, and her wish to be more than what her life seems to be, is easily relatable. The entire thing just has such charm and grace that I found it easy to fall for it. Also, Dominic Cooper in a suit does not hurt. The Hurt Locker is not a film I would normally watch, but it was the only one working at the time and I was too happy to argue with the in-flight system. However, it is absolutely amazing, perhaps unsurprisingly considering it's up for a best picture Oscar. The intensity of this film...I don't even have the words for it. It follows a bomb disposal unit in Baghdad as Sergeant William James joins the unit with just a month left in their tour after their long-standing leader is killed. The unit of three is rounded out by Sergeant Sanbourne and Specialist Owen, each fighting their own issues and merely fueled by their desire to stay alive long enough to get home. The arrival of James throws their little dynamic for a complete loop as he has a completely different approach. This film has a stunning realism and the characters are so amazingly well-rounded. The thing that really clinched this for me though was the ending, I don't know why but when that all came together, it really hammered home the whole thing for me.

Now, I only managed two and a half films on the way back thanks to promptly passing out - we had a late, stressful night the evening before and it tired me out. First there was 9, the animated feature starring the voice of Elijah Wood as the title character (I must pause to say that I love that Crispin Glover even plays the nutter when in animated form - he's the voice of 6). The burlap rag-doll like creation 9 wakes up one day in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have been destroyed in their battle with machines. He stumbles upon others of his kind by chance and together they struggle to survive against the machines that seem hell-bent on their destruction, while 9 struggles with the seemingly never-ending questions of their existence. It's fairly disjointed but they're so adorable, I don't really care. It's funny, I'm much more wiling to let things slide in animation than I ever am in live-action. The other full film I watched was also an animation, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs. My main observation here is that the film is genius and has not received nearly enough credit for it. It is so much fun, with some genuinely great moments, and at one point I was trying very hard not to laugh out loud and disturb the other passengers in their throes of uncomfortable sleep. Your regular outsider, Flint Lockwood thinks he's a genius inventor destined for great things though most of his inventions end in disaster leaving his long suffering father at a loss. One of these experiments does leave him with his pet monkey Steve. A pet monkey! What more could one want? When Flint accidentally sends his latest experiment - a machine that turns water into food - into the atmosphere, the Mayor of Swallow Falls sees it as the perfect opportunity to bolster the island's flagging economy. Motivated by helping his town and finally earning their respect, as well as impressing visiting weather girl Sam Sparks, Flint is only too eager to help his town. However demand starts pushing the machine to its limit, and with the Mayor pressuring Flint to ignore it, disaster is inevitable. I really enjoyed this film, it's a gorgeous little thing and Flint is so adorkable, it's hard not to like him. I only got half way through Bright Star, a film about poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. I'll have to watch the whole thing properly at some point if I want to give any proper commentary, but what little I saw didn't look bad.

Anyway, I do so blather on. I've got Buffy Season 2 to watch - Spike has shown up, life is good.

Music: I don't know what to do with myself - The White Stripes
Mood: Tired

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