A heart-warming and visually stunning documentary about a 13-year-old girl living with her nomadic family in Mongolia’s harsh Altai mountains, who becomes the first female eagle hunter to compete in the annual Golden Eagle Festival.
This enchanting, leisurely and good-natured documentary combines two of my favourite things in the world: cats and the city of Istanbul. Some places are dog countries, and some are cat countries; from my three visits to Turkey and Istanbul in particular, it definitely appeared a dominion of cats of all shapes and colours. Kedi captures the indolent grace and resilience of the city’s free-roaming felines, as well as the heartfelt and loving testimonies of the people who look after them.
A striking and mesmerising documentary with no conventional narrative, Baraka presents a collection of sights and sounds from around the globe – mountains, places of worship, cities, wilderness – as a sort of lush travelogue, set alternately to tribal beats and rather New Age-y soundtrack. The sights of the movie are not always beautiful, detouring at one point to the humanity’s darker places like the concentration camps and Cambodia’s killing fields, as well as sweatshops and overcrowded slums in South America and Asia. This is probably going to be the shortest film review I’ll ever do, because this movie is one to experience, rather than talk about. It’s an ambitious achievement that really leaves you in awe of the world’s sheer variety and splendour, and reminds me of the sadness I always feel at the thought of seeing only a tiny little sliver of the world in my lifetime. It’s a moving portrayal of faith and nature even if you’re an atheist like myself and find hippy-drippy sentiments maybe a tad cringey.
More images from the film:
Went to see a documentary about Iris Apfel, the flamboyant 93-year-old style icon and fashion collector from New York with an outrageously individual dress sense. I’ve seen her glorious over-the-top outfits in various publications, yet what comes through the most in this warmly made film is the personality of this singular woman: down-to-earth, blunt, sharp and quick-witted. The camera follows her around the various stores where she rummages for treasures, at fashion shows and museum exhibitions, and at home which she shares with her 100-year-old husband Carl – in a way the film is a very sweet love story. It also looks back at her career as an interior decorator (her clients included the White House, among others), and captures some of the process by which she assembles her creations: it is, Iris explains, all gut and instinct, putting things together which look like they’ve been created as one thing, rather than something that looks put together. She loves colour; black, she says dismissively, is not a style, it’s a uniform. Take that, black-loving Melbourne! I love black myself, but sometimes it’s outright depressing to walk into a store and see nothing but black, grey and navy.
Iris’ love of fashion and beautiful things and the sheer joy she takes in them was really inspiring to watch. She doesn’t sugarcoat over the tough aspects of the old age, the physical frailty and the periods of exhaustion that follow an activity, yet she’s determined to be in the world and do as much as she’s able to. If I make it into my 90s I can only hope to have the same spirit and love of life.
I was once involved with Scientology for a brief period in my early 20s. I knew absolutely nothing about it at the time, and ended up joining by chance: I got handed a flyer on the street about a free personality test, and decided to take it on a whim. My teens and early 20s weren’t always the happiest of times; I suffered from major social anxiety and inability to relate to my peers, which wasn’t helped by my family moving to Australia when I was 15. So I guess I was drawn by the promise that these people could help me out. I haven’t stuck there for long though. It’s not that I felt like something was off, the people were nice and genuine and the auditing exercises I did were often cathartic, but I’m just not a joiner at heart. There’s always a sceptical, detached part of me that stands apart with crossed arms and won’t melt and flow, and thinks that the promotional video I’ve just seen is really quite cheesy. My attitude was, ok I’ve had powerful experiences at your organisation which taught me valuable things about myself, but now, goodbye. No, really, bye. Which of course hasn’t stopped the Melbourne Scientology centre from bombarding my mailbox with spam for the next 15 years.