March 22, 2012

Happy Hunger Games?

This afternoon I went to see The Hunger Games at the cinema for the first time after being a fan of the book trilogy for the last two years. Go here for my general thoughts on the trilogy.

I was quite excited for the movie but didn't have many high expectations. I didn't love it, but didn't hate it. As an adaption it was excellent as I felt nearly everything stuck the original plot, concept and characterisation of the novel, but as a movie it was just a bit... okay. It was good, but overall I would give the film a 3/5.

Here are some of my general thoughts:

The Good
  • The characterisation of Peeta was absolutely spot on. Exactly as I imagined him to be down to his build, mannerisms and voice.
  • I enjoyed the aspect of seeing the game makers in action. As the book is first person narration, we only see what Katniss does, so it was intriguing to see the behind the scenes aspect of the game.
  • The residents of the Capitol. Absolutely ludicrous as they should be.
  • I enjoyed the bond between Katniss and Cinna. Understated, gentle and supportive - her only real bond of friendship within the Capitol.
  • Gale carrying a screaming Prim at the reaping, one of the only times I was happy with the character of Gale in the movie. (The other was the beginning when he and Katniss were in the woods).
  • Cato and Rue. Perfect.

The Bad
  • The cut of Madge and the lack of true mockingjay pin back story was disappointing, but I understand it was necessary within the time frame of the movie.
  • They didn't put the berries in their mouth!
  • The fighting scenes were a bit lame. They weren't as PG as I expected, but they were a bit too 'shaky cam'.
  • The beginning (until they got into the arena) dragged. It was all important to the plot but I found myself getting fidgety.
  • Gale. Liam Hemsworth is far too pretty boy. And not the best actor.
  • The Cornucopia. It's not meant to look like a short angular skyscraper.
  • Towards the conclusion of the film after the arena, it would have been good to have some of the hospital scenes and some of her general disorientation. 

It kind of left me thinking that it is far better as a book than as a movie. It'd be interesting to hear thoughts of people who have not read the book as more people see the movie and see what opinions arise from it as just a movie, without being attached to the book. It was nearly as close to the book as I could have hoped, but overall cinematically it just lacked the gripping oomph that the book has. (Or maybe that's because there was no suspense for me as I knew what was coming). Definitely worth seeing, but for things like this I'd often see it twice at the cinema which I'm not dying to do. I'll probably see it again anyway though just to look at it without expectation. As an adaption it was great, as a movie it was good.

March 8, 2012

Kony 2012

Kony 2012 is a thirty minute documentary, made by Jason Russell of Invisible Children, that focuses on raising awareness about Joseph Kony, rebel leader of the violent Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and bringing him to justice.

Watch the video. 

Kony and the LRA are responsible for abducting children, sexually abusing them and using them for war in central African areas such as Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

The aim of the video is to make Kony famous, to ensure people know who he is and what he does, so that he can be stopped. It wants an awareness movement, so that in the year Twenty Twelve, twenty culture makers (various celebrities) and twelve policy makers (various congressmen and senators) learn about Kony and can then implement the change to ensure his arrest in 2012.

The video has had more of an effect than was ever anticipated. The link has gone viral over Facebook and Twitter and, at the time of writing, has been viewed more than 15 million times on YouTube.

People are unanimously showing their support for the Kony 2012 campaign.
And I have a problem with this.

None of us really know about Kony, or Invisible Children for that matter. The documentary is crafted in such a way that it makes you feel like you have to do something, it motivates you to stand, chanting against the injustice.

I have absolutely NOTHING against people supporting something they believe in.

The problem I have is that everyone is going crazy over this campaign and jumping on the bandwagon of support, after only being influenced by the video.

A video created by a charity or movement will always leave you wanting to help that particular organisation.

So before you support Kony 2012, Invisible Children or any charity or organisation, do some research. Don't just go in blind because of the emotion or because everyone else is.

Decide whether it is worth your time, money or talents. Ask questions. Find resources and statistics. But please, know what you're supporting. 

If then you are still in favour of supporting it, absolutely go for it.

I want to see Kony captured just as much as anyone else. I believe justice is important. These past few days since the video has been released have shown the power of the internet community in an incredible way. But I just think this is an issue greater and more complicated than one man.

Most of all, I think that charities and organisations should be supported and represented because people are 100% committed, passionate and dedicated towards every aspect of what that organisation represents, not just one video.

Invisible Children have given answers to a few of the tricky questions that have arose here.

February 29, 2012


Today I watched both The Vow and Suddenly 30. (No shame, guys). They had a particular thing in common, aside from obviously being chick flicks. They depict characters that for some reason or another find themselves at a point in their life where they attain no memory of part of their previous selves. They jumped part of their life and had to make sense of whom they now were.

Sometimes I really wish I knew who I’d be in ten years. Last week was one of those weeks when the present seems a little too hard. In those moments I found myself thinking that it would be nice to know where I’d be in ten years. To know whom I’m married to, what my job is, who my friends are. Not every single detail that occurs in my whole life, but just a simple knowledge of a few key things. Not to go back and change anything, but to give me a comfort that I’m hopefully going in the right direction. I feel that if I knew these things now it would take away a lot of the stress and the worry that those things may sometimes cause me.

While that sounds appealing in some regards, the other side of the spectrum is that knowing those things would take the fun out of life. Yes it may minimise worry now, but it would enable me to completely miss the joy of some of my future life experiences. If I can fast forward to my wedding and know whom I’m going to marry, that will ruin the whole experience of discovering them and falling in love. If I knew now the exact job I will have, it gives me no chance to be excited in the unknown and to learn to do what I love. If I already know exactly who my friends will be in ten years, it leaves nothing to chance and everything to plans.

Life is meant to be unknown. That’s why it’s called the future and not the past. Shit happens, but so does a hell of a lot of good stuff. And that’s the fun of it. I’m excited to live my life and to see what happens, day by day.

February 13, 2012

the fault in our stars

My signed copy

Have you ever read a book that was just so incredibly good that as soon as you finish reading it you hurry to tell everyone you know about it? And then tell complete strangers? And even then you wouldn't have anything against shouting it from the rooftops?

A perfect example of this is how I feel about Harry Potter. I am rather known to scoff and then argue with people who have not read it. And if they continue to disagree with me, I do not hesitate to yell.

I finished a book recently that was nothing like that. Not a 'rooftop' book at all. It was better.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a book I had been anticipating long before it's release on January 10th. I have read John's other books and followed his (and his brother Hank's) videos on their YouTube channel Vlogbrothers for quite some time. I did not know a lot about The Fault in Our Stars except for two things: John signed every single copy of the first printing (150,000) and it is about a girl named Hazel who has cancer.

When my copy finally arrived in the mail on January 25th I was so incredibly excited I may have engaged in some form of a happy dance. And it did not disappoint.

I am not going to disclose any detail from the plot because one of the things I loved about the book was that I was going in blind. I really had no idea what the story was about (except the one detail I mentioned above) and it was incredibly refreshing starting the story like that. Often I read books when all has already been wrecked for me so reading this indifferently made an excellent and somewhat organic reading experience. And that's how I want everyone else to feel while reading it.

What I will tell you is how the book made me feel. I mentioned that it was better than a rooftop book, and that is because it is a story that hugs close to the heart. It hit so intimately that it almost became sacrosanct. Almost like telling others about it would take away the affinity I felt with the story. It left me pondering it for a good three hours and then even after that I kept replaying scenes and moments in my head. There are so many themes and contexts that intertwine with the plot and characterisation in an incredibly clever way.

But despite feeling like this I want to share of The Fault in Our Stars because it is that damn excellent it deserves to be read. And others agree with me. TIME magazine called it "damn near genius", it has been on the New York Times bestseller list for four consecutive weeks in a row following it's release, the rights have been optioned for a movie adaption and it is currently selling more copies than Twilight.

Most of all, The Fault in Our Stars really inspired me as a writer. It made me want to sit there and begin my own book straight away. It is named after a quote of Shakespeare which says, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings." I find that incredibly fitting, as the novel contained so many quotes that just tickled me with their beauty, of which I will finish with one. But first, promise me you'll read it.

"My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations."

You can buy it here for $16 (with free shipping)!

January 31, 2012

dear future lauren

It has just hit me (again) that this year is my last year of school. January went so quickly, I know that the next 11 months will probably hurry by at a similar speed. The other day my friend Georgia and I were talking about where we think we'll be in ten years so I thought I would write myself a letter to the future me in ten years time, 27 and 3/4 year old Lauren.

Dear Future Lauren,

First of all, I hope you're not dead yet. That would be a bit morbid wouldn't it? So if you're not dead, well done! You made it. 

So saying you're still alive, I hope that your beliefs and your faith have only grown stronger in the last ten years. It's the most important thing now, and that better not have changed. And if it has - get it back.

I wonder what your job is. I'm hoping for a journalist or an editor or an author. Maybe all three. I know that as long as you're writing you're going to be okay. Do you love writing as much as you did ten years ago? Words never cease to astonish me. I can't even fathom how simple letters can transform thinking and create ideas and universes and stories. It can be so immensely frustrating when the words don't work, but boy when they do...

You better have written a book by now. Actually scrap that. You've written two novels and compiled two works of non-fiction, all of which are published. And you're writing your third book now. Which will also be published. To be honest, I hope you've written more than that already, but I don't want to be too na├»vely ambitious. Regardless of how many books there may be, in the next however many years of your life after you're reading this - you are going to write more. 

And not just books. You are writing blog posts and columns and opinion pieces. But however many words to your name, remember that they are not just from pen and ink

Please don't tell me your opinions have dwindled in any way. Being opinionated not only makes you more tenacious, but it can add a lot of fun to an otherwise boring situation. Promise me to always fight for what you think. That is one of the most important things. Never compromise your thoughts, opinions or beliefs. 

So marriage by now? I think yes. No kids yet though. They'll come soon. Your husband better be everything you wanted. Someone who loves God just as much (if not more) as you do, someone intelligent and bold and opinionated. Someone who is not afraid to stand up to you - which I know you need. Someone who makes life an adventure that is always worth exploring. Someone who inspires you. Someone tall and in your eyes, extremely good looking. And a bit of love wouldn't go astray either. 

Have you seen the world? By golly I hope so. Tasmania was a great place to grow up, but after Melbourne (or maybe Sydney) for uni, I hope you have gone to the places you wanted to go. Don't become stagnant in staying. Go to Berlin, Israel, Mexico, New York, India, live in London. And that's just the start. Travel and see the world. If you already have, I'm sure it was epic. Go and do it again. 

Out of everything I hope you're happy. And when you're not, that you're trusting you will be. Whatever crap comes your way, remember the only one who can truly fix whatever your feeling. Make sure you're doing what he wants you to. Read lots of books, go easy on yourself (I hope your better at that now that you've had ten years to work on it!), surround yourself with family and friends. And always do your best. 

Life is like a puzzle. Everyday you add a new piece. So you better be choosing to add good pieces. I don't want to be picking up the slack when I see you again in 2022.

Go on and make me proud.

Love, Lauren