Monday, September 25, 2006

UNITED 93 - riveting

Directed by Paul Greengrass
September 11, 2001. Four planes were hijacked. Three of them reached their target. This is the story of the fourth.

I have just seen UNITED 93. Frankly I have no words to describe it. It's not even something that one can crit in deapth, because the happenings that unfolded in the film actually happened.

Right from the beginning of the film, I felt on edge. It's like I was waiting for something to happen, but you just never know when the terrorists were going to strike. I loved the reality of the film - everything was so natural-looking ....from the people's appearances to their mundane conversations. I especially appreciated the passenger's reactions to the attack on board.

There were no 'heroes' so to speak. They were all completely normal and responded to the situation like any average person would (this is, of course only my opinion). In short, I think Greengrass has done a superb job with this film.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


A few weeks ago my friend, Asmita applied mehndi on for me. Since I have been so busy over the last few weeks, I wasn't able to upload and post them. But look at how pretty it was!

Mistress of Spices - a disappointment

I've just come back from watching The Mistress of Spices. It stars Bollywood actress, Aishwarya Rai and the dreamy Dylan McDermott and is based on the novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni of the same name.

The story revolves around Tilo - a young woman who has a vast knowledge of the world of spices. She has a unique ability to look into people's past and future and with her special powers, she is able to help those who approach her with problems.

In order for her remedies to work, Tilo must obey three rules:
  1. She must only use the spice to help others.
  2. She must not touch another person.
  3. She must never leave her store.
There is hardly any surprise when her temptation, in the form of Doug, enters Tilo's store after being hurt in a minor accident outside her store. As he visits the store on a regular basis, Tilo wonders if there is more to her life than merely helping others. She begins to fall in love with Doug, and because of this, the spices punish her - by making all the people Tilo has helped, suffer. So she has to choose between her calling in life - spices, or Doug.

The director, Paul Mayeda Berges is married to Gurinder Chadha - one of my favourite filmmakers. She brought us films like Bend it like Bekham and Bride and Prejudice - also an Aishwarya-starrer, and will soon be presenting us with the film version of the popular TV series, Dallas. I was a bit disappointed by Mistress of Spices. I have the novel which the film is based on, sitting at home waiting to be read, so I can't really comment on whether the filmmakers did justice to the original story.

I have never been much of an Aishwarya fan. No doubt, the lady has beauty and although she was dress in plain sari's throughout the film, she remained beautiful - especially towards the end when she wore the red sari trying to seduce Doug. However, I found her to be weak in emotions throughout the film. Her facial expressions hardly indicated that she was a lonely Indian woman stuck between her traditional beliefs and 'forbidden' passions.

Other area's which confused me was each time we heard a noise outside Tilo's store. Was it a gun fire? Was it a car backfiring? And what about Doug's flashback to his childhood? I may have drifted away for a few seconds, but I lost the plot when his mother took him to what I assume was a Mexican family. Then one of Tilo's loyal customers - Harun and the girl who lives next door. Why didn't we see a relationship develop between the two? We assume that they will be married, as Tilo gives Harun something which she says he must put on her on their wedding night. But as I've said - we don't see a relationship between the two. All I took from it was that they were neighbours.

Anumpam Kher, who appeared in Chadha's previous films like Bend it like Bekham and Bride and Prejudice was, I think, with Shaheen Khan - who played the mother of gangster-turned Jagjit. Khan and Kher played Parminder Nagra's parents in Bend it like Bekham and also had a role in one of Chadha's earlier films, Bhaji on the Beach - as did Zohra Segal, who played Tilo's mentor. I was surprised to see Padma Laxmi playing Kher's granddaughter in the film, and thought she was a bit weak for her part.

Many people may disagree with me, but it seems as though Berges made the film entirely about Aishwarya. No doubt, she is the central character, but it appears as though she is there just for her flawless beauty. The script had so much potential, and it's a pity that the essence of the story fell through the cracks.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the cinematography. I suppose being a TV student, I appreciated the stunning, colourful shots of the various spices. Besides that, I think the filming was straight forward and nothing to write home about.

In short, I was looking forward to watching the film, and I'm disappointed that I was let down.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


My 6min documentary and 24min group documentary that I have been working on for the past few months is complete and online!

  • To watch my 6min individual documentary, click *here*
    Then click on "I will not go quietly - High Res"

  • To watch our 24mingroup documentary, click *here*
    and click on "Searching for Existence - Low Res"
Please feel free to leave comments at the bottom of both pages :)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Back "home"

After spending a week at home, I am back on campus for the final term of my degree. It's a scary thought, but... I'm ready to kick ass!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

ATTENTION: History Buffs

If anyone knows about any of the following, please let me know... I will appreciate any help on any of these topics.

I have to 1) Say what it's about 2) Elaborate on it / put it in context 3) How it fits in to the world crisis as we know it today. I have about ten lines to write about under the given headings.

Here are the topics:

  • The age of Homo sapiens relative to the age of the earth
  • Concepts of time of pre-agricultural humans compared to ours
  • The clock
  • The nation state
  • Imperialism
  • Factories and railways
  • Three phases of industrial capitalism
  • The growth imperative of capitalsim
  • Mass education
  • The electrical revolution
  • The Harber-Bosch process
  • Barbed wire
  • Osip Mandelstam and the Stalin poem
  • The Yezhovschina
  • Uranium and Lise Meitner
  • The Gernam euthanasia programme and Auschwitz
  • "It is my judgement in these things that when you do something that is technically sweet you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it only after you have had your technical success" - Robert Oppenheimer
  • Edward Teller and Mike
  • The Golden Age
  • The contraceptive pill and the liberation of women

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Crime - I'm tired of making excuses...

I like to think that I am a positive person. I try my best to find the positive side in any situation. Coming from a semi-political family, I have been raised as a Proudly South African citizen. Being in the Journalism field, I have seen and experienced terrible atrocities in South Africa. But still, the fact that we live in such a beautiful country of natural beauty makes me feel that things aren’t really that bad.

I get very irritated when I hear people complaining about South Africa. Even though our newspapers bleed with headlines of rape, robbery and murder, I still find solace in the fact that we are a country of rich cultures and diversity.

However, my spirit has been dampened by something that happened to me last month. While walking in town around midday with two friends, my purse was stolen out of my handbag by a 15-year old boy. Someone who witnessed this approached me and told me about this. I became frantic and begged this young man to run after the boy. By the time I caught up with the group of teens, my money was already being distributed.

A nearby security guard caught the child who had taken the purse from my bag, but his friend ran away with it. I don’t remember ever being that angry before. As the guard held this 15-year old by his arm, I grabbed the money from his hands (about R180) and yelled at him, demanding him to find his friends who ran away with my purse.

When the police arrived, a case was opened and the juvenile was taken away. I really don’t care about the money that was taken. But I have had to deal with unnecessary admin of canceling and getting new cards. Besides that, I am so frustrated that this happened. I have been told that street children steal out of desperation. But still – it’s the principle of it. How dare he steal?

After this incident I have become paranoid as I walk down the street. I hate being like this – clutching onto my bag if I as much as see someone suspicious walking towards me.

The way I see it is like this – there are so many things already killing us in the world – Cancer, AIDS, tsunamis, forest fires…even floods! I think it’s ridiculous that we have to fear another human being. But, sadly that it the reality of the world.

I have been hearing far too many disheartening stories over the past few weeks. It’s one thing reading about it in the newspaper or watching it on the news, but when crime is committed to people close to you, it’s an entirely different situation. I have family members who have had guns pointed to their heads; they’ve been woken from their sleep and tortured in their bedrooms. This isn’t right. No country is exempt from crime, but we also can’t avoid the fact that we live in one of the most dangerous county’s in the world. When foreigners hear of South Africa, they think one of two things: 1) Wildlife and 2) Crime. Many people will argue that because of our brutal history, people are still healing from deep wounds that will take a long time to heal.

But I am tired of making excuses for the crime in this country. I refuse to live my life in fear. Why should innocent people suffer? If anyone should suffer, it should be the criminals…but we all know that isn’t the case.

As I write this, I don’t wish to solve any world crisis whatsoever. All I am saying is that South Africa needs to beef up its punishment laws. It is ridiculous that criminals are arrested and sometimes within a few hours, they’re released back into society. And so the cycle begins again.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

I am still alive (and kicking)

Hello everyone! So Tuesday is over...which means, the week is progressing nicely. I'm going home on Saturday (shrills of joy).

I am so pleased that our 24minute group documentary is complete. I am very proud of our team for producing Searching for Existence.

Just briefly, the story is about Second Creek - a rubbish dump in East London which a community of people actually survive on. They literally eat off society's waste (we have footage of this) and they compete with pigs and dogs trying to get food. It was emotional filming these people. At times I felt guilty shoving a camera in their face. But had we not done that, the severity of the situation would not be taken seriously by viewers.

The dumpsite is being moved 60km out of the city, and part of our documentary deals with the (supposed) plans that local government have for this community.

Here are just a few pics of Second Creek for you to get a vague idea of the place I've been talking about.

Saturday, September 2, 2006


Can technology PLEASE just be on my side for a few more hours?!

My laptop is as slow as a snail these days. If I click on something, I have to wait for half a minute before the damn menu gives me options to choose from....and I have been wrecking my brain looking for just the right music to go with my documentary. I never want to have to go through this again - what a bloody pain!

I have finally settled on something - it's a piano piece. It's not wonderful, but at this point I actually just don't care. For all I care, I am willing to put down "Twinkle twinkle little star" while my subject talks about receiving an honourary doctorate.

I'm pulling an all nighter tonight... I'm editing from 8pm right through to Sunday at 4am.

The only thing keeping me sane is knowing I'll be home next week this time.

Friday, September 1, 2006

The countdown begins

It's the first day of Spring here in South Africa. It's such a lovely day in G'town today...the sun is out, the birds are singing...and I woke up thinking, "Shit - it's Friday!" That means we are down to counting the hours till our documentaries are due.

To understand the extent of our insanity at ungodly hours spent in the Journ department, here is my dear friend, Jason on the brink of losing it .

I just can't take it anymore


Sir, could you speak up, please?

Shit, these headphones arn't working

Yep, Jason has lost it now!

Confusing my body

It's 1am and I'm having tea! A few hours ago I had Red Bull. I'm not a big fan of Red Bull, but I needed something to give me "wings". I have four essays due for next week and the hours are closing in on me slowly, but surely...

A few weeks ago, I was normal - I'd wake up in the morning and sleep at night. But because of the crazy hours we have been working, my body has gone into the mode of sleeping when the sun is out and I seem to be wide awake and willing to working when the moon is out. My body is completely sleeping and eating patterns have totally changed!

Crazy! I was never like this, and I hope this pattern breaks as soon as the work load subsides. Which, by the way - will be OVER next week this time. To say I cannot wait is an understatement! I can't wait to go mum's home food, go to the hairdresser and feel like a human again!

Having said that, my tea break is over and my essay awaits me...

P.S. Our 24 min documentary, "Searching for Existence" is complete!

I am still working on my individual documentary - due on Tuesday. I am pulling an all-nighter on Saturday/Sunday... I am going to need much more than Red Bull to give me wings! I'm still trying to find decent bedding music to go with my doccie...much harder than I thought!