Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jacob Reviews the New Zealand International Film Festival 2008

Kia ora film types,

I was asked about my reviews at work so I thought I should get the list together in case people were interested. I mean, hey, the festival may be finished but there’s always the cinematic run and DVD…

Be aware of typos and the like. This is mostly speedy late night work,


Reviews for
The Lumière Reader

Boy A English drama: a jailed child killer is released back into society as a young man. Will society accept him? Can he accept himself?
Homegrown (Programme 1) A selection of NZ short films from the past two years covering such themes as subverting cultural stereotyping, the evocation of memory and loss, survival and the loss of innocence, and breaking cultural and social isolation.
In Search of a Midnight Kiss Lo-fi indie romance set over a day on the not so sparkling streets of LA
To Each His own Cinema Over 36 three minute short films made by many of the world’s greatest living auteurs expressing their passion for experience of movie-going at the behest of the Cannes film festival panel.
Let the Right One In Haunting Swedish vampire thriller cum adolescent romance
Rubbings From a Live Man Florian Habicht’s docu-theatrical exposition of the life of flamboyant NZ thespian Warrick Broadhead
The Escapist and Timecrimes (double capsule review)Gritty, tightly constructed prison escape thriller and a trippy surrealist Spanish time travel headspin.
Dear Zachary Emotionally wrenching and unpredictable cinematic ‘letter’ to the son of the documentary’s dead subject, as well as a memorial from the director who was his childhood friend. Be ready to shed some tears…

Still in the queue to be posted:
- Frontier(s)Ultra-gorefest Gallic splatter horror replete with psychotic rural inbred neo-nazi family, and more torture and maiming than you could shake a stick at. Funnier than it is scary if you have a strong constitution.
- Waltz with BashirSublimely animated docu-drama of an Israeli filmmaker’s journey to find his lost memories of his life during Israel’s ill-fated war with Lebanon in the early 80s. Harrowing.

Reviews For

In Bruges Broadly appealing Irish crime dramedy in the vein of Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels. Clever dialogue, great unexpected plot twists and some truly reinvigorated performances by some recently tired looking A-Listers. Does trade on a lot of inappropriately un-PC jokes as has some graphically violent moments.
Somers Town Beautifully observed veritè story of an unlikely pair of wayward young lads in London (a teen from the Midlands and a Polish immigrant who lives with his father). Director Shane Meadows is adept at capturing the realities of the English working class and also the fleeting innocence & emotional instability of male adolescence. This is his most optimistic film to date.
Note by Note: the making of Steinway L1037 Documentary tracing the fascinating production process of a handmade Steinway concert grand, juxtaposing the worlds of those who make them and those who use them and finding connection in both music and the meditative beauty of age old process.
Donkey in Lahore An Australian filmmaker films several years of the trials and tribulations of his 28 year old friend who, after an 8 day trip to Pakistan to attend a puppeteer festival, proposes to a 17 year old Pakistani girl. Wistful romanticism is slowly crushed beneath looming weight of the bureaucratic process, cultural/age differences, and the simple reality that they do not actually know each other.
A Gentle Breeze in the Village A Japanese film that is not dark and disturbing! Director Yamashita Nobuhiro subverts the idealised romance of a popular schoolgirl manga by producing an acutely observed drama about a Tokyo boy moving to a small rural village and the effects that this has on the small group of children who live there. Some of the best cinematography in this year’s festival without overtaking the film – outstanding.
Silent Light Slow-burn existential musing about the nature of love played out in a Dutch/German Mennonite family in rural Mexico. Well shot and quite well constructed if a little over long and pretentious at times.
Standard Operating Procedure Errol Morris documentary about the notorious Abu Ghraib prison photos from the USA-Iraq war. Morris does not so much focus on the overarching war on terror but on the specific details of the photos – the context in which they were taken, what was going on outside the frames and the like. Very compelling viewing that does not exonerate the perpetrators but makes clear that they have been scapegoated by people up the chain of command. As one of the soldiers say, if the photos had never been taken – or gotten out into the wild – then they probably wouldn’t have been investigated by the army…shocker.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Formation Friday - Embracing Simplicity

On Friday of last week (the 4th of July), we had our 3rd Formation Friday event of the year - 'Embracing Simplicity'.

We looked at what it means for us as disciples of Christ to think about how we live out our lives in a way that is shaped by and mirrors the lifestyle of Jesus. In particular we considered the value of the discipline of 'simplicity' and the challenge inherent in many of the teachings of Jesus to radically alter our social and economic activities in response to his call to follow him.

As part of our discussion we looked at 5 different ways which we could consider simplifying both our inner life and our outward practice:





Disposable vs. Non Disposable

Below you will find 5 posts which summarise the discussion on each area. The discussion was relatively organic so some of the ideas cross over or might seem like they belong better under one category than another - I've tried to just compile things as we discussed them rather than re-organise them too much.

The ideas we compiled on Friday are just the tip of the ice berg - I would love it if we could continue the discussion we began here by continuing to pool ideas and point one another in the direction of other helpful resources. If you weren't able to be there but would like to join the discussion then please feel free to do so.

Please use the comments option at the base of each post to add further ideas to the mix.


Questions to Consider:

What do I need to stop doing now?
What are the attitudes I see in myself that I want to 'cease' from?
What are the practices in my life which keep them rooted in my behaviour?
What disciplines of stopping do I need to employ in my life in order to help me become free?

Ideas explored:

Stop to eat
Take time to stop and enjoy eating with family/friends rather than rushing from one thing to the next.
Sit down, eat more slowly and engage in conversation with those you care about.
Eat around the dinner table not in front of the TV

Stop and make time to exercise

Stop and think before you spend
Questions to ask before making a purchase:
Do I really need it?
Do I need to upgrade or is what I already have sufficient?
Where did this product come from? (e.g. Is the cultivation or production of this item contributing to the oppression of other human beings? Is the cultivation or production of this item causing unnecessary/disproportionate harm to other animals, plants or eco systems? How far did this product travel to get to me? Are there other options that have less negative human/environmental impact?
Is this the best use of money I have?

If you don't already have budget - stop and make one!

Helpful websites:
The Fairtrade Association of Australia and NZ

Trade Aid NZ
Marketplacers International
Wise Money


Questions to consider:

In what ways do I need to slow down?
What inward disciplines of 'slow' do I need to cultivate?
What outer disciplines of 'slow' do I need to consider taking up?

Ideas Explored:

Slow Travel
Use the stairs instead of the lift
Don't just jump in the car - ask yourself; Am I in a hurry? Can I walk there? Can I use public transport to get there?

Slow Food
Buy locally made
Cook twice as much and freeze the extras to use at other times
Cook for a week or a month in one sitting and freeze to use at other times
Reorganising your time so that you can bake instead of buying pre-made items
Eat/consume food slowly not in a rush

Slow Time
How much of my 'free time' do I waste watching TV, or in other tasks which don't really slow me down/relax me?
How could I use this time differently?

Slow activities
Take time to engage in activities which defy acceleration (e.g knitting, painting, model building etc.)

Helpful Websites:

Carl Honore - 'In praise of Slow'


Questions to consider:

Can I grow it?
Can I make it?
Can I build it?
Can I fix it?

Ideas Explored:

Growing Things
Growing vegetables etc. when you have limited space options:
Potatoes can be grown in a garbage bag
Using pots on a deck/windowsill/balcony to grow herbs (e.g. basil, rosemary etc.) or smaller vegetables (e.g. tomatoes/chillies/capsicum etc.)

Making Things vs. Buying Premade
Baking vs. buying premade biscuits/cakes etc.
Making your own pasta sauces etc.
Preserving fruit/Jam etc.
Making/Sewing cloth nappies yourself
Making christmas presents

Learn new skills
Learn to sew/bake/cook etc.
Go to a course or ask a friend to teach you

Helpful Websites:

Fabrics and patterns to make your own cloth nappies:
Green beans; The Nappy Network

How to grow potatoes in a bag
The Advent Conspiracy
How to Preserve Fruit


Questions to consider:

Are their resources or skills I have that I can share with others?
Is there someone I know who can teach me something new? Or someone who can help me to complete a project?
Is there a resource I have (e.g. a vegetable or herb or fruit tree) in too greater abundance to use it all myself? How can I share my excess with others?
Is there a skill I have that I could teach someone else?

Ideas explored:

Get to know your neighbours
How can you share resources with the people living closest to you?
Are there ways that you can save money/power etc. by sharing your resources creatively?
(e.g. Meal swaps - take turns at cooking double the amount. This reduces power usage, saves money on food costs (economies of scale!), and saves you time by reducing the number of times a week you cook)

Communal Living

Fix me days

Swap it
Furniture swap
Clothing swaps

Borrow it
Sharing/borrowing maternity clothes
Hand me down clothes/borrowed shared clothes for young children
Is there something you have two of where you could lend the extra to someone else?
Make use of your public library!
Hire it
Hire a handbag
Cloth nappy hire kits - check it out before buying to test out what you want/need in order to avoid buying too much or the wrong thing
Hire options for items only needed for a short period (e.g. some baby related items only used for a few months like bassinets/carry cot attachments for prams

Share it
Sharing tools
Sharing DVDS
Sharing books

Helpful Websites:

The Nappy Network

Disposable vs. Non Disposable

Questions to consider:

Do I need to throw this away or can it be reused by me or someone else?
Is there a non-disposable option of this item?
Do I need to throw this away and get a new one or can it be fixed?
Is there a way that I can avoid excess packaging?
Can it be recycled?
Is there are a recyclable/non-disposable option?

Ideas Explored:

Reduce or eliminate packaging on grocery items
Buying from farmers markets
Buying fresh from fruit and vege stores and butchers
Bring bags or boxes with you to the supermarket/fruit and vege store/butcher etc.
Practice Saying: "Thanks, but I don't need a bag", as often as possible!

Bulk Buying
Buy goods in bulk from bulkbins in supermarkets or specialist bulk bin stores:
You can do this with lots of dried goods like pasta, flour, sugar etc. You can also do it with herbs and spices. Some specialist stores also sell things like cooking oil, laundry powders etc in bulk by the litre or kg and most bulk stores will let you take it away in your own container/packaging - so you can keep re-using the same container.
Bulk buying also tends to be cheaper than pre-packaged options - especially when buying from specialist suppliers or wholesalers who sell to the public.
Buying meat in bulk and then freezing in smaller portions

Making wise use of excess
Freezing excess of items in season in order to have all year round
This works well with: Beans, Chillies, Capsicums - all of which can be frozen whole directly after picking. They maintain colour and flavour if frozen in well sealed containers with as much air removed as possible.
Lemon juice, grated fresh ginger, garlic that has been diced/chopped/minced in food processor can be frozen in ice trays to create small frozen portions which can be defrosted and used as needed. Once frozen the cubes can be stored in bags or containers in the freezer.
Some leafy herbs (e.g. coriander, parsley) can be roughly chopped or frozen whole (Kaffir lime leaves, Curry Leaves) in bags or containers in the freezer.

Explore Non-disposable options
Use a handkerchief instead of tissues
Try cloth nappies instead of disposables

Helpful Websites:

Rubbish-Free Year
Freeset bags
Cloth Nappy Options: Snazzipants; Real Nappies; Ecobots; Bumbles; The Nappy Network

Monday, February 18, 2008

Day 6

I have just completed my first weekend of Lent 2008 and I was entirely unsuccesful in maintaining my Sabbath day.

I spent Friday afternoon/early evening working on the cessioncommunity Lent devotional journal and preparing for our leaders gathering on Saturday. The leaders gathering was great, and I did know it was coming up. I had intended to try and take some extra time out on Sunday morning and Monday morning. However, I didn't quite manage to do this.

I was reflecting on an exercise that we did together on Saturday and I've decided I might need to downsize my goal a bit -not because it's a bad one - it is still where I want to get to. But I seem to have developed some bad habits about carving out down time for myself, so I need to start unlearning these in order to be able to maintain my bigger goal.

So I am going to start making some 'dates' for myself which I will book into my diary like appointments. Jonathan has been telling me for some time that I should put imaginary appointments with people in my diary. I guess this isn't too dissimilar - just that I'm not actually imaginary.

Henri Nouwen suggests that we should diarise appointments with God for prayer and spiritual reflection so that we don't allow our relationship with God to become sidelined by other commitments. This is certainly part of the goal for me too. By being so busy I get little time to reflect on how the different threads of my life are working together, and where God is at work in me. I also find it means that I stop enjoying both my work and the simple pleasures of life and the world around me, as I am so caught up in the busyness of getting things done.

So, I will still keep working on the goal of keeping a sabbath day, but I am also going to schedule some appointments with God, or simply for time out also.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lent 2008

'first clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean'

One of the things we encourage our community to do at cession, is to consider making a 40 day goal over the Lent period that will aid you in working toward a bigger spiritual growth goal that you have set your self for the year.

This year, my Lent goal is to abstain from overwork.

In order to try and achieve this I have set myself a goal of taking Friday afternoon (from around 4pm) till Saturday Evening bedtime as a 'Sabbath' day. I used to be really great at doing this but in past year or so, my time off has become less and less frequent and often Saturday - my one day off - ends up becoming another work day.

I'm not sure how successful I will be. I am already painfully aware of how busy my schedule looks between now and Easter Sunday, and I am appalling at ensuring I make time for myself (and for Jacob!). But, I am going to try!

(For info on making goals for Lent go to the cessioncommunity website and you will find a Lent preparation pack)