Friday, January 17, 2014



Written and Directed by Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson.
Story: Left emotionally vulnerable when his wife leaves him, writer Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) develops an emotional attachment to his operating system, Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.
Famous for films such as Adaptation and Where The Wild Things Are, “Her” is the first completely original offering from Spike Jonze where he has both written and directed. As such, we have to enter the theater with the distinct impression that this film is going to be one thing: different.
The concept of the film is beautifully original, and hopes to serve as a warning to us all about our reliance on technology. With a very basic plot, Jonze is able to take us through a head spin of action and consequence as Theodore falls more and more in love with his computer operating system. Phoenix is predictably enjoyable, and Johansson does well to demonstrate that acting is not purely physical, but can be done extremely well with just a voice, however, there is a lot missing from this film.... 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Going For Gold: The Race To The Academy Awards

Oscar nominations were released today and the internet is in a flurry. Some are excited and relieved that their favourite stars or films were nominated for their performances this year. Others were shocked and upset that their chosen performer did not receive the Academy stamp of approval.

So let us take a look at what we have in store this year. I decided to do a breakdown of the top five categories in the ceremony. Each post will have a breakdown of every nominee in each of these categories. These opinions are mine, and I encourage everyone to add their own.

Remember, the 86th Annual Academy Awards airs on March 2nd, and we will be in good hands with Ellen DeGeneres once again at the helm.


American Hustle: David O Russell's second offering in as many years stampeded through the Golden Globes, scooping up three awards, including Best Motion Picture: Musical Or Comedy. While the performances by the ensemble cast have been praised by most, the film was at times referred to as all pizzaz and no substance. The costumes, music and pouting seem to be enough to carry this movie into the nominations, but can a few good performances push it to the top? Given responses by the Globes, and Critics Choice, this could be a very hot pick,

The Wolf Of Wall Street: Martin Scorcese's fun and flirtatious adaptation of Jordan Belfort's true to life book received huge criticism for 'glamourising'  and 'glorifying' the world of investment fraud. Indeed, the film did lack the distinct feeling of remorse presented in the novel. However, this three hour parade demonstrates not just humour and drama (a powerhouse combination), but it startles the audience into enjoying the reality of the entire story. Having said that, and given DiCaprio's strained history with the Academy, this film will either kill or be killed this year.

Captain Phillips: Here we have another film based on a true story, therefore we can assume that the reality of it resonated with it's viewers. Famously snubbed by the Oscars for this year, Tom Hanks offered a notable performance which takes us back to his 'Cast Away' days. He is overshadowed however by newcomers, most specifically Barkhad Abdi as the deranged Somalian pirate Muse. Abdi received a nod from the academy. However, with a lack of nomination in the Best Director category, it seems unlikely that this will take the prize.

Dallas Buyers Club: Well, didn't this gem just get a nod all around? Nominated in acting categories, as well as Best Director, Film Editing, Screenplay, and Hairstyling. A pretty incredible scoop. The film itself plays upon an incredibly serious topic, and one which should have a pretty solid social impact. In watching it, we can almost feel that the subject matter, AIDS, is a metaphor for the diseases that are eating us all: drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, cancer.. you name it. Ticking all the boxes, this could truly be a dark horse.

Gravity: Alfonso Cuaron's latest offering is less science fiction (as the plot would suggest) and more a story of pure survival. Cuaron took out Best Director at the Golden Globes and deservedly so: everything from the cinematography, to the music, and even the performance given by Sandra Bullock (who carried the entire film as almost a lone actor, not an easy task) was primed to perfection. Gravity will certainly sweep contenders under the rug in the technical categories, but could the Academy have a science fiction drama take out Best Film? 

Her: While this film has a good message, and serves as perhaps a warning to us all of our reliance on technology, it's quirky nature really does some damage in terms of the Academy and their voting structure. This is a film that you either love or hate. It should win for Best Original Song, but was unfortunately passed up in the cinematography category which is one of the film's main strengths. 

Nebraska: 'The Artist' famously took out the Oscar for Best Picture when it delighted audiences with the very fact that they could, in this day and age, still enjoy a black and white film. The film certainly has enough nominations in the acting category to justify a win, and Director Alexander Payne even got the nod, but the true let down here is the lack of technical celebration. There is no back end to the film, and without broad support it does lag behind.

Philomena: This is the token film with heart in this year's nominations. Poignant, witty, and exceptionally British, Philomena has received rave reviews and Judi Dench has been recognised as one of the most stellar performances of the year. Again adapted from a novel (the adaptation has received a nomination for screenwriting) the story is one that will tug on the heart and mind of anyone who watches it. The sole representative for British films, though, it perhaps lacks the glamour or relationship to the Academy to go all the way.

12 Years A Slave: This film resonates in it's dark social significance. While the film is difficult to watch, it tests the audience's emotion and leaves many feeling truly disturbed. Let's not forget that it's sweep of nominations in multiple categories places it as a worthy contender. Many did not watch this film due to it's graphic and at times almost unwatchable content, however with the absence of similar films like 'Mandela' and 'The Butler', this could leave room for 12 Years A Slave to snatch the top prize.

It Should Be… '
The Wolf Of Wall Street'

It Will Be… '12 Years A Slave'

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NEXT WEEK: Best Supporting Actress

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Friday, November 29, 2013

I Forgot How To Child...

Sometimes I catch myself thinking that I have grown up too fast.

Since I was fifteen, I have been occupied full time. From 15-17 I was in high school and working in a local supermarket. From 17-19 I was in University as a full time law student, and I also worked in the supermarket and the local pub 7 days a week. From here, I moved to the UK and was a door-to-door salesperson for 13 months working 75 hour weeks. I skipped from this into recruitment, to media sales, to Australia, to Canada... never really breaking this stream of constant employment.

I went on vacation to New York when I was 20. I holidayed in Australia when I was 22. Neither of these lasted more than ten days. Any other travel has been done on the weekends.

I catch myself thinking, from time to time, that I never really let myself be young. I never had a casual job or part time employment which wasn't accompanied by a full time occupation. I've never really been unemployed for longer than a few weeks (mainly by choice). Some would say I'm lucky, but as the close of another year approaches I have to sit back and wonder: when over-working is a necessity in your life, is it really very lucky at all?

Living in a student city like I do, and have done in the past, I am surrounded by University Students who fill their time with the following: One or two classes a week; 4-15 hours of work a week; and approx. 148 hours of professional drinking, sleeping, and netflix-watching. Many students do not even need to work at all.

Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to insinuate that students do not work hard. There are many who do. I am merely stating that in the world of student loans, scholarships, and over generous parents, it is increasingly difficult to actually spot a student who behaves like anything other than a 'student'. When does their week become a 50 hour work week? When do they learn to clean? And where the heck does all their money come from when they are a student?!?

I never took that time to be a student. I was in class or studying or working most of the time. Sometimes I managed to find time to sleep.

And you know what? I am jealous of that me because they still have more time than I do now.

Nowadays, I get really uneasy when someone asks me to go out and do something, because I have to think of an excuse other than "I'm tired". My muscles ache and I'm a little bit fat because I don't manage to make the time to go to the gym. Further to this, I have a bad back and have to pretty much schedule a stress-related illness once every month or so.

I am 23 years old. I work 50 hours a week, pay my bills early, and enjoy cleaning my house. I am really excited about Christmas, not because it's Christmas, but because I get close to two weeks off work. My New Years Resolution is to group up my annual leave into one nice long stretch so that I can catch up on 12 months of sleep deprivation.

Did I grow up too quickly? And when is it my turn to be irresponsible, blase, and relaxed?! If I took time off work now, I would never be able to get another job without facing mountains of questions about how and why I have been unemployed for longer than a few weeks. However, all I really want to do is get addicted to a video game and play it for a week straight; or binge watch an old TV show; or learn how to cook or speak another language... Sadly, I think I missed my chance. 

Oh well... only 40-something years to retirement...

- RH

I bitch about this and other things on my TWITTER

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Is It Just Me?

People who know me will also know that I have done a lot of travelling, I have lived in the UK, Australia, and Canada, and within England alone I had the pleasure of calling five different cities home. I have also worked a multitude of different jobs, all within highly social industries. This means that I am fortunate enough to have friends all over the globe.

Despite the fact that I could pretty much go anywhere and I'd be guaranteed to know somebody, I really really like doing things by myself. I will go to the cinema; restaurants; and even travelling absolutely bare balled alone. It gives me time to think, time to write, and time to plan my next adventure (because you know there will be one).

I have always noticed, though, that there is particular stigma against people who are going it alone (particularly young people). Last night I went into a restaurant and asked for a table for dinner. The waitress looked at me and asked "is it just you?" in an all too questioning manner. I got the impression that what she wanted to say was, 'where is your husband? Boyfriend? Best friend? Mother…?' She soon noticed her instinctual tone, though, and she almost winced and smiled at me. I gave her a reassuring look. "Yes. It's just me." 

A quick google search gives me 3.9 million hits on the term: "A Guide To Dining Alone".  Because heaven forbid if we do it wrong… Some of my favourite advice I found was "Ask for the cheque before you finish eating, that way you do not have to sit alone for too long". 
Why not just go to McDonalds if you're after fast food? That way, you don't even have to get out of the car, and nobody will actually know that those 24 McNuggets and 3 Cheeseburgers are all for you, YOU SAD CAT.

Back in the restaurant (which thankfully is far from my imagination) the waitress seated me, and the table next to me was occupied by a couple who looked to be in their early thirties, both dressed nicely as if they were on a date. Both of them were concentrating wistfully on their cell phones, and did not speak a word to each other. Years ago, this would have been considered the height of rudeness, but now I was the one being judged for dining solo?

Is being comfortable in your own company the new taboo?

And so what happens if, by my own choice or circumstance, I do not have a significant other in my life to dine with: am I supposed to sit at home and order a pizza while I watch 'He's Just Not That Into You' on repeat?

I mean, sure, there are times when I catch myself thinking, 'It would be great if there was someone here with me, because I'd really like to order a lobster dinner but I don't actually know how to eat it'. And it definitely would be handy to have someone in the passenger seat of the car to say: 'Rachel, you're on the wrong side of the road..' or, 'Honey! Eyes front and centre!', but this surely shouldn't define me as a person.

Yet, to these servers I am apparently the girl who dines alone. There is nothing else to me.

By the way, I have to share more advice from these 'Dining Alone Guides'. Obviously, one should always take work papers or a book with them, because it is just the worst thing in the world if you are to sit there without something to occupy your hands (It is not enough anymore to be occupied by your own thoughts and reflections on your day). Also, it is suggested that we do just order takeaway or have a sandwich in the park because then we can avoid the whole 'being alone' fiasco and we won't alarm other diners. 

Maybe one day I will go out to a lobster dinner with someone who actually knows how to eat the beast (and I will rip it to shreds) , and perhaps I will take a trip with someone who gets endless pleasure out of the fact that I keep confusing the driver and passenger sides of the car…

Until then, I'm pretty happy. Not only do I have amazing friends, but I am also not riddled with the self doubt that stops me from going out alone. I don't have to share these memories if I don't want to: I can keep them all to myself.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Yes, I've checked. 'Shit-tonne' is actually a standardized unit of measurement now. Thanks, Gen-Y. 
For real, though. It isn't even simply the fact that moving costs a lot of money (which it does), but it is that you don't even really know how to look after yourself in a new city. If, heaven forbid, you move to a different country, you will pretty much have to learn how to shop all over again. You will buy the wrong things, shop in the wrong places, and genuinely just waste money for at least a month or two until you learn the vital 'International Skimping' technique. Also, you will probably overspend on things like electric, cable, and everything else until you meet people who can teach you the basics.

This is so inevitable I can't even (...)
Here's the thing: We have all done it before. We have all invested time in the unreturned messages; the non existent phone calls; and the people who play a disappearing act for weeks on end (or until they like something that you post on some form of social media). And this isn't just guys. I think girls do it, too. 
But we have all sat around waiting for that person to get bored and text us for a 'hang out', even though we know that as soon as the hangout session is over, we will go back to feeling a little like a used bag of shit.
So why are we going to do this all over again after moving away? It's simple. This feeling (the chase) is so familiar and so concrete: it's almost like you will reach for the only steady thing there is. You will reach for that unreliable (yet gorgeous) person because there is a strange comfort in it. It's almost like they are your way of creating a link to this new place, and even though you deserve better, everything is so rocky that you will settle for it as it is. Don't worry: this too shall pass.

You will wonder if you did the right thing, for the right reasons.. and you will wonder where this decision will land you in the next five; ten; even twenty years. Is this going to change the way you view the world? Is this going to change every plan and idea you ever had for who you would be? Is this going to be the making of you?
Most likely, it will do all of those things.
No matter how many times you retrace the thought process that got you to where you are, you will realize that you made this decision for a reason, and that certainly can never be the wrong thing to do. I have always been a firm believer that anytime you are uncomfortable, you are growing into a better and stronger person.
Moving away will MAKE YOU.

So here is a little something about me.
At my parent's home in the Australian countryside, there is a large fence around the entire property. Our dog is like Houdini (or she likes to think she is), so we have to keep this huge metal gate closed at all times. Whenever you leave or arrive, you have to get out of the car, open the gate, get back in, drive through the gate, then close it again. Annoying, huh? And when it's a car full of people, someone always has to volunteer to be the person that gets out of the car and "gets the gate". 
This is the craziest thing.
Since moving away, I really miss that part of my day at 7.30pm when I would get home from work. In the winter it would already be dark, and I would climb out of my car, clutch foot aching from the two hour drive, and I would push the gate open and look at the house. Hot steam would be coming out of the chimney. The lights would be reflecting a dim hue out onto the front yard. And I knew there was a hot meal waiting for me inside, prepared by either one of my parents who would greet me: always eager to find out about my day.
That one moment of stopping the hustle and bustle of everyday life to open the gate, is one of the things I miss the most. And when you move away, it will most likely be something equally as random that sticks in your head as a moment of clarity.

What is a social insurance number?
What kind of insurance would I need to go to the dentist?
How do I file my P45?
How many superannuation, renumeration, and pension funds are in my name?

These are all questions that I have asked in the previous few years. Point is, a lot of these questions will be common knowledge to a resident of the country you have moved to. If you turned to a Canadian and said (as I have), "what is a social insurance number?" they will probably look at you like you're from another planet: not because they are mean, but because to them, your homeland IS another planet and they cannot believe you wouldn't have a social insurance system. You probably do, but it is called something different, be it National Insurance, or a Tax File Number (TFN). 
People will tell you how to do things, and assume that you will know the process behind it, even if this is something that is totally foreign to you. Just a few days ago, I was asked for proof of tenant insurance and I was shocked. What was this? And why did I need it? I had never heard of it in my life. Similarly, post dated cheques are something that I had never come across until moving to Canada. And what happened to Universal Healthcare?
Call me stupid all you want: I already feel like a bit of an idiot anyway. 
But its OK. I am learning.
Also, I can flip you off in six different languages.

SO, here's five.
But there are SO MANY MORE things, just waiting for you.

Hop to it.


By the way, don't forget to follow me on Twitter, HERE

Monday, July 8, 2013

To Men Of Past and Present..


All the things that you did for me were really nice. The fact that they were rehearsed and revised actions that had been undertaken time and time again is no longer of any relevance. At that moment, they were for me, and I wish I hadn't been so mad about it.
You taught me a lot about what it means to love somebody, and believe in them even if they are slightly ridiculous. You taught me that loving somebody isn't a choice. It happens, and just as it happens, it can go away again.

Damien. I am not sure if you still hate me for the way everything happened, or if you just can't look me in the eye anymore. The things that I did were all for good reason, and I think that you understand that now. I still don't like that you never gave yourself a voice. Thank you for giving me one.

Matthew. You have the nicest face. It isn't that it is stunning, it's that your eyes and your smile made me want to do things I would never even do. And I have done those things, because I wanted to do them with you. I wanted to be the person that could tell you, show you, and teach you everything. I wanted to know you. But I'm not sure you wanted to know me in the same way. I always wondered where you disappeared to. I never told you how I felt though, because I was too scared you would reject me. I was just too scared to lose what I didn't want in order to reach for what I needed. Perhaps I let us both down.

Luke. Maybe I was what you said I was. But the hardest part about being your friend is that you were never the same to me. I actually think I would have died if it wasn't for your consistent, fierce support which genuinely made me believe that barriers can be broken down and people can feel true and genuine love, without being *in love*. Sometimes I hate that you have moved past everything, but then I remember that I am the one who ran.

David. I always thought I would miss you when I went away. I never did. I only ever missed your best friend. I am sorry. 

Marcus. I think we went through something together that neither of us will really understand. There was nothing that ever happened, in any sense, however, I felt changed by you and I'm fairly sure you are the same. It is such a shame to me that when I think of you now, those thoughts are filled with contempt and exhaustion. It makes me think that everyone else must have given up on figuring you out, too.

*Names have been changed in this piece to protect myself, and only myself. Think one of these is about you? Ask me. This may or may not be a piece of fiction

- RH