Monday, March 30, 2009

Mary and Max - A new feature length Australian claymation.

Last night I went along to a preview session of the new Australian claymation, "Mary and Max". There was also a Q & A with the director Adam Elliot and producer Melanie Coombs. I don't have the time and energy at the moment to write a synopsis or proper review of this film, but there is an excellent summary here.

You know, I must admit that I have a pre-existing bias towards stop-motion animation. I grew up on Gumby, Pingu, Trap-door and Plasmo and even as an adult I haven't ever tired of this medium. These days digital technology can seemingly create any effect you can imagine. If I asked to see a comet crash to earth and give birth to an alien brain exploding fireballs, it could be done these days with quite a high degree of realism. But I guarantee it would still pretty awesome and probably more entertaining if made with clay.

Anyway, coming back to "Mary and Max". Why is this movie special? Well firstly, the artistry of the characters and the set are so spot on, that you often totally forget that you are watching an animation. Then, when you momentarily remember that you are watching CLAY and that each and every second took HOURS of work, one feels overwhelmed with respect for the artistry behind it.

I also really liked the theme of this story. When you live alone and have very few friends, recieving a letter and a chocolate bar in the mail would mean so much to you. Max irons, laminates and sticks all of Mary's letters up on his wall, and right towards the end of this film, you really get a strong sense of how important Mary has been in his life. With the global financial crisis slowly washing over us like a slow-burn tsunami, this film is perfectly timed to remind us that at the end of the day, we remember our lives through the relationships that we've had and not the money that we spent.

I am a bit too tired and sleepy to really give this film it's proper due,... but yes, it is well worth watching. As an individual, it would only cost you $10-$15 to get along and support the Australian film industry by checking out this incredibly unique and engaging animation that has been 5 years in the making.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bean Vermicelli Salad & Shiitake Greens soup

Bean Vermicelli Salad & Shiitake Greens soup

This dinner took only about 30 minutes to make. The salad consists of: soaked and drained bean vermicelli, firm teriyaki-flavoured tofu, snow peas and a touch of oyster sauce. The soup consists of: cheap asian greens, soaked and chopped shiitake mushrooms, dashi (fish stock) and soy sauce.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Adventures in Japanese Drama

Today I will explain for you my recent explorations of Japanese dramas. There is a particular type of drama that I enjoy - must have some comedy and some romance, and even better, some sort of sci-fi or fantasy element. The acting must be believable and the characters, likeable. The episodes must be poppy and enjoyable but also engaging on some sort of intellectual level.

Absolute Boyfriend

The first jdrama that really caught my eye was Zettai Kareshi / Absolute Boyfriend. A Japanese A.I company develops what they call, "a love robot" which is provided to a young single office worker. Of course, all sorts of complications arise while she struggles to find a place in her life for the robot. Things get even more complicated when a real warm-blooded love interest arises between her and a co-worker. Spot the robot:

You can watch this whole series online here.

Kimi Wa Petto

Kimi Wa Petto is a story about a successful single female office-worker in her early thirties. She is pretty cold, rational and finds it hard to connect with other people. One day she comes home to find a 20 year old boy, huddled and bleeding in cardboard box outside her apartment. She takes him in, cleans him up, feeds him, and he becomes her pet. Complications arise when a real warm-blooded love interest arises between her and a co-worker (sound familiar!?). She must choose between taking on the challenges and revealing her vulnerabilities in a real relationship, or keeping "her pet". I didn't like this drama as much as Absolute Boyfriend because the girl in this show fails to realise the obvious. However it's still kinda light and enjoyable for at least the first half of the series.

You can watch this whole series online here.

Papa to Musume no Nanokakan

Papa to Musume no Nanokakan is a jdrama that I started watching last weekend. The main characters, 17 year old Koume and her 47 year old father, are not exactly close and have not spoken to each other for years. Fate intervenes, and after eating a magic peach, they are involved in a train accident where they body swap! All sorts of complications arise, as they struggle to cope with each other's lives (whilst in the girl's body, the father goes on dates with the girl's boyfriend), and the girl (in the father's body) has to go to work at the perfume company where her dad is managing a new project. I LOVE the genre of bodyswap, even more so when the method of swapping is patently ridiculous. This drama is more than just novelty though; the characters are sweetly believable and the plot explores the awkwardness and difference between a father and a teen daughter pretty well. It's also kinda bizarre and funny in a way that only a Japanese show can be... like, how the girl (in the father's body) is constantly having to ward of sexual advances from her mum! (That does sound sick, but it's something that is pretty funny in a Japanese comedy).

And yup, you can watch it all online here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Australia has waited long enough for this!

"Dear Friend,

To date, this Government has delayed the introduction of a paid parental leave scheme - waiting for the Productivity Commission to report, while making grand promises to mums and dads around Australia.

The Productivity Commission has now reported and the evidence is in: government-funded paid parental leave is good for babies, good for parents and good for the economy. And at $450 million a year, it's a sound investment.

We've just found out though that a decision on whether to include paid parental leave in this year's budget sits on a knife's edge.

Click below to sign the petition telling the Government this delivery is overdue - and we'll take it directly to Canberra next week as the Budget decisions are being made:

The Government's excuse for not introducing it - the global financial crisis - simply doesn't stand up. Paid parental leave has proven economic benefits. It will stimulate the economy, retain parents in the workforce, and safeguard the nation's future prosperity.

A government-funded parental leave scheme would mean those working in small businesses or in low-wage sectors will have access to something previously only the domain of those lucky enough to work for big corporations that have their own scheme.

Decisions are being made now about this year's Budget. This is our one opportunity to show the Government we aren't willing to wait any longer for paid parental leave:

There are only two developed countries that don't have paid maternity leave - Australia and the United States. There's no good reason to delay this scheme any longer - but without your support, the Government will sit on its hands and do nothing.

It's easy for a government to make grand promises like this - now it's up to us to make sure they deliver. Join our petition today and we will deliver it to Canberra next week.

Thanks for being a part of the solution,
The GetUp team

PS - We've designed a new series of bumper stickers to put on your car, pram or nappy to spread the message of this campaign. Click here to get your sticker".


GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you'd like to contribute to help fund GetUp's work, please donate now! If you have trouble with any links in this email, please go directly to To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here.

Authorised by Simon Sheikh, Level 5, 116 Kippax St, Surry Hills NSW 2010