Looking back at 2017 — 11

Continuing the 2017 series with November.

What a delightful surprise! Delightful Chinese movie….

Just on spec I watched Under the Hawthorn Tree (2010) on SBS Viceland yesterday at noon. My TV guide gave no details, so I didn’t realise it was directed by the great Zhang Yimou. Summary, avoiding spoilers:

Set during the end of China’s Cultural Revolution in a small village in Yichang City, Hubei Province, China, this film is about a pure love that develops between a beautiful high school student, Zhang Jing Qiu and a handsome young prospector named Lao San. Jing Qiu is one of the “educated youth” sent to be “re-educated” through work in the countryside under a directive from Chairman Mao Zedong…

I found it totally delightful — and I shed a tear ot two! The lead actors were not only beautiful but very good in their roles.

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UNDERTHEHAWTHORNTREE
See also Hollywood Reporter:

The film’s promotion tagline is “the cleanest romance in history.” Indeed, Zhang’s touch is rarely so delicate in describing the pre-pubescent looking Jingqiu’s perplexity and embarrassment toward Sun’s advances, as well as her naivety (she thinks sharing a bed is enough to cause pregnancy). In fact, a deep sexual undercurrent rippling under their blushing complexions — when she frolics with him in the pond, wearing the red swimsuit he gave her, when he bandages her feet, or when they lie down together in the hospital bed (his hand goes straight to where it counts). That is what lends the film its beauty.

Zhou, who is a 17-year-old high school student plucked from thousands of teenage hopefuls, personifies the film — fresh as cut grass, untainted by professional training. She exudes serene calm even as the melodrama intensifies. The film unfolds mostly from a feminine perspective. As a result, Sun’s character is rendered at a remove, and he is too perfect to be more than a cipher.

Almost religious devotion to objects prevails, with a light bulb or a foot basin acquiring symbolic significance as love tokens. The meticulous evocation of period detail reflects the film’s elegiac attitude to ephemera. What it mourns most is not the transience of youth or of love, but the transience of happiness, especially when its harmless pursuit is systematically obstructed by collective ideology.

The male lead`s (Shawn Dou) biography is interesting.

Keep an eye out for SBS Viceland`s midday movies!

More from the same-sex marriage survey

There is a lot of interest in the details of the poll. While it is delicious that Tony Abbott proved so out of touch with his electorate that three out of four voted for YES, despite his vigorous Chicken Little-ing for NO, the truly remarkable thing — at first glance — is the very strong NO vote in Labor electorates in Western Sydney.

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Why was this so? Obviously there is a degree of social conservatism there that must give Labor pause. Matthew da Silva did a good post Who voted ‘No’? which features this summary:

who-voted-no-tablea

I have truncated that for readability: go to Matthew’s post for the full version. While there is a fairly obvious conclusion one could draw from this, compare Same-sex marriage: The multicultural communities that voted ‘yes’.

Western Sydney might have voted “no”, but multicultural Australia voted “yes”.

An analysis of electorates where more than 40 per cent of the population was born overseas shows they overwhelmingly backed same-sex marriage outside the Western Sydney ring.

From Moreton in Queensland through Reid in NSW to Gellibrand in Victoria, a clear majority of electorates with large Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and Arabic-speaking communities got behind the move to change the definition of marriage.

In the top 10 electorates in NSW and Victoria where the overseas-born population is 40 per cent or more outside of western Sydney and the two “no” voting Victorian electorates of Bruce and Calwell, nine recorded a yes vote above 60 per cent….

And see My conservative Vietnamese family from western Sydney voted ‘yes’ – stop blaming migrants.

When my dad sent me a text on Wednesday morning after the result of the marriage equality postal survey was announced, I laughed. And then I cried a little.

His message read as follows: “Congrats to you guys and myself: it’s a decisive win! Abbott, shit yourself bastard!”

It’s funny because there was a time, once, where I didn’t think I could really be myself with him. I couldn’t even be myself with me.

My parents are in their sixties. They grew up in conservative Vietnam, and raised me with those values. We have gay family members, but growing up, we either didn’t talk about it, or did only in whispers….

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Another delightful Chinese movie.

Thanks again to the mid-day movie on SBS Viceland. (See my previous post What a delightful surprise! Delightful Chinese movie….)

This time it was Apart Together (2010), set in Shanghai.

Liu returns to his native city Shanghai after 50 years spent in Taiwan. He has come to find the first love of his life, Qiao, who he left behind pregnant. In the meantime, Qiao has married and formed a family. But Liu is determined to get the family’s approval to take her away with him.

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I found it very moving. Though I have never been there, thanks to M I know something of Shanghai life and customs, and this movie hit the spot — very much so! Just for starters– the food culture, as seen in the still above!

This reviewer is clearly Chinese, judging from his/her English, but most importantly he/she  gets the movie right! Let’s just say I will watch it again if I get the chance. Beautifully done.

Maybe I am older, have experienced accidents, close to death and had a lot of regrets in life, so this movie gives me a lot of mixed feelings. I think a few episodes below are the most memorable:

Old Mr Lu said: “I will NOT live for several years, too much money means nothing! ” Mrs Yu’e said to Mr Yan Sheng when they farewell at the dock:” I don’t know when I’ll see you again since today’s farewell. ”

All these make me difficult to calm of mind and cry.

They three sat around dinner several times, all that matters to me.

They repeated references to the term “time”, in Shanghai as saying “Guang Jing”. Three of them live away from those happy times whey they were young, and finally got a short happy time at the end of life. The most beautiful scene, Mrs Yu’e sang a pop song of the old time which put back 50 years. Shanghai has been changed so fast, but the old time elegant and melody will stay in the memory forever.

Struggle Street on SBS — series 2

Be interesting to see how many watched it, seeing it was up against the ARIA Awards on 9! However uncomfortable it is to watch, I suspect we should all watch Struggle Street. Maybe it could replace the homily in every church in the land next Sunday! Maybe all those members of the House of Reps taking a break right now should be locked in a room and made to binge-watch!

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I posted on the first series back in 2015.

My overall reaction to last night’s two hour episode was, as I said at the beginning, frequently to be moved and even inspired by much of what I saw, uncomfortable as other segments were. There is no doubt that one consistent theme was the deleterious effect governments’ cost-cutting can have and is having. The other thing is that I know by simple observation a parallel series could have been made here in Wollongong and some of its suburbs.

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SOURCE

This new series is even more disturbing than the first. See Dramatic new video of tragic life in new Struggle Street suburb and Struggle Street is back, and it’s infuriating.

This six-part SBS documentary series is nothing short of a masterpiece, truly deserving of the “essential viewing” tag. An unflinching look at poverty in Australia, it will – it should – leave you angry. 

What a delightful surprise! Delightful Chinese movie….

Just on spec I watched Under the Hawthorn Tree (2010) on SBS Viceland yesterday at noon. My TV guide gave no details, so I didn’t realise it was directed by the great Zhang Yimou. Summary, avoiding spoilers:

Set during the end of China’s Cultural Revolution in a small village in Yichang City, Hubei Province, China, this film is about a pure love that develops between a beautiful high school student, Zhang Jing Qiu and a handsome young prospector named Lao San. Jing Qiu is one of the “educated youth” sent to be “re-educated” through work in the countryside under a directive from Chairman Mao Zedong…

I found it totally delightful — and I shed a tear ot two! The lead actors were not only beautiful but very good in their roles.

1112zhang01_G_20101111215640-e1334062848750

UNDERTHEHAWTHORNTREE
See also Hollywood Reporter:

The film’s promotion tagline is “the cleanest romance in history.” Indeed, Zhang’s touch is rarely so delicate in describing the pre-pubescent looking Jingqiu’s perplexity and embarrassment toward Sun’s advances, as well as her naivety (she thinks sharing a bed is enough to cause pregnancy). In fact, a deep sexual undercurrent rippling under their blushing complexions — when she frolics with him in the pond, wearing the red swimsuit he gave her, when he bandages her feet, or when they lie down together in the hospital bed (his hand goes straight to where it counts). That is what lends the film its beauty.

Zhou, who is a 17-year-old high school student plucked from thousands of teenage hopefuls, personifies the film — fresh as cut grass, untainted by professional training. She exudes serene calm even as the melodrama intensifies. The film unfolds mostly from a feminine perspective. As a result, Sun’s character is rendered at a remove, and he is too perfect to be more than a cipher.

Almost religious devotion to objects prevails, with a light bulb or a foot basin acquiring symbolic significance as love tokens. The meticulous evocation of period detail reflects the film’s elegiac attitude to ephemera. What it mourns most is not the transience of youth or of love, but the transience of happiness, especially when its harmless pursuit is systematically obstructed by collective ideology.

The male lead`s (Shawn Dou) biography is interesting.

Keep an eye out for SBS Viceland`s midday movies!

In which I am made to feel very old…

So the Same Sex Marriage Survey is in its last fortnight, with as of yesterday 75% of eligible responses received. The feeling is that YES has won, but you never know…

I was chuffed to see iconic Aussie songman John Williamson (“Hey True Blue!”) on Channel Nine this morning saying absolutely sensible things as he talked about his latest release. See ‘My whole life has been about loving Australia’.

But it’s not all looking back: It’s All About Love is a jaunty call for marriage equality, sung as a duet with the out-and-proud country siren Beccy Cole. It’s not a new thing for Williamson, who has toured extensively with the unashamedly gay fiddle player Pixie Jenkins since the early 80s, but it’s refreshing to hear a country song dedicated to a time “…when it’s not important what sex you are, or what sex you have”, as Williamson explains. “Or what colour you are, or where you’re from. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

On Monday #QandA dedicated itself to the marriage survey. They had the wonderful Magda  Szubanski, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, the excellent Father Frank Brennan, and NO campaigner Karina Okotel, a vice president of both the Federal and Victorian divisions of the Liberal Party, a champion Chicken Littler.  Now as the show neared its end came this question:

This question is for Karina. In your speech at the National Press Club last month, you cited a case in the UK where an orthodox Jewish school was threatened with closure because it didn’t teach kids about tolerance and respect. I was teased at school for being “faggy”. They said I was a little too expressive with my hands. I spoke with a bit of a lisp, I liked fashion magazines. I got teased much, much more for looking gay than being Asian. Can’t you see that by not raising awareness in class about gay people in society perpetuates the feeling of isolation that children have, like I did, in coming to terms with their sexuality?…

KARINA OKOTEL
That material is taught to children as young as 11 or 12, from Year 7.

TONY JONES
Our questioner is shaking his head, so I’d just like to get back to him.

ANHTAI ANHTUAN
I think you’re taking the Safe Schools program, there are fringes of that program which were inappropriate, definitely, but at the heart of that program, was about teaching about tolerance and respect. That there are people that aren’t heterosexual but they’re normal people, but yet we lose sight of that and that’s the problem here. I think by saying No, you’re saying Yes to being treated differently for something I can’t change.

See my posts on the much maligned Safe Schools program, especially Show some backbone, PM.

Now I am such a Marxist, eh! Why only a couple of days ago on this blog I was commending Robert Service’s Comrades: A World History of Communism (2007) to my readers! A Marxist I really am not, but I do embrace diversity as a core aspect of the human condition and commend any society or program that does the same. Hence on Twitter I wrote yesterday: “I totally support #safeschools.” I also retweeted: “RT @JoshThomas87: .@TurnbullMalcolm You’re turning out to be a real shit bloke.” Among others.

First, a really really good idea is to read the actual stuff that Safe Schools offers.

And I remember Anhtai from my teaching days at SBHS. Proud to see him handle himself so well on #QandA, but at the same time it really makes me feel old. The world now belongs to these boys I knew as teens — to me such a short time ago!

And then earlier on Monday who should pop up on The Drum but another one: Jack Manning Bancroft. What an impressive human being he is!

Finally, there is much heat at the moment concerning the internet activist outfit GetUp! I really suspect that GetUp’s cardinal sin is that it is effective. See my post on the Class of 1995.

There is much of interest to me in today’s Sun-Herald, not least a wonderful cartoon by Cathy Wilcox – not yet online. Going back a bit I was drawn to the article The class of 1995: HSC high achievers 20 years on, having taught the Class of 1995 at Sydney Boys High. One member, Jeremy Heimans, features in the article.

Having received a TER of 99.95, he studied Arts Law and then Honours in government at the University of Sydney. After studying at Harvard he has spent the past 10 years working as a political activist and entrepreneur. In 2005 he founded Get-up in Australia. Today he is chief executive and co-founder of the New York-based company Purpose.com. In 2014, he delivered one of the year’s top TED talks, which attracted more than a million views, and today he is working on a book on the topic of “new power”.

Heimans describes himself as “an activist from the age of 12”.

“I had this funny childhood where at age 12 I sounded like a 40-year-old,” Heimans jokes. “In many ways I’m doing a lot of the work I did as a kid, but with better tools.

“I had to try on a bunch of different suits for size – I tried on a lot of different roles in my teens and mid-20s.”

“I benefited from a great public school education and I’m very grateful for that,” said Heimans, who remembers his final school years as a period of robust debates, challenging ideas and honing his debating skills.

Finally but irrelevantly I am posting for posterity this  oh-so-evocative image of Donald Trump. I gather he hates it. I think I can understand that! It is just TOO revealing!

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