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Movies I saw in 2014

Two Days One Night movie poster

Here’s a list of movies I saw at the cinema in 2014. It follows on from the list in 2013 and earlier. The films are listed in the chronological order that I saw them rather than ranked.

  • The Railway Man
  • Lone Survivor
  • The Wind Rises
  • Tracks
  • Her
  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Rover
  • Lucy
  • These Final Hours
  • Predestination
  • Interstellar
  • Two Days, One Night

I didn’t get to see as many movies as I would have liked during 2014. However, I hope that the quality makes up for the lack of quantity. I’ll also comment on a few of the movies I didn’t see and hopefully catch up with them on DVD in 2015.

Two films from this year stuck in my mind for their unique style — The Grand Budapest Hotel and Only Lovers Left Alive. They are testimony to their directors who have remained true to their vision. Two Days, One Night is another film that deserves the highest praise for the superb acting of Marion Cotillard and the direction of the Dardenne brothers.

It was a good year for Australian films, too. I saw The Railway Man, Tracks, The Rover, These Final Hours and Predestination. Tracks was a wonderful showcase for the acting talents of Mia Wasikowska, a rising star not just in Australia but internationally. While Predestination was a brilliant sci-fi thriller. There were a few more Australian films of note during 2014 that I didn’t get to see. These included The Babadook, Charlie’s Country and The Infinite Man. There are a few sci-fi films among these which brings me on to the next topic.

2014 bought quite a rich choice of sci-fi films. Her and Predestination stood out for me. I found Interstellar slightly disappointing, but mainly because I think it dodged the topic of climate change. I would have liked to have seen the cli-fi movie Snowpiercer but it only had a very limited release in Australia. I enjoyed Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson and partly set in Taipei. I missed out on seeing Under the Skin, another sci-fi film starring Johansson.

Movies seen in 2013

Following from the list in 2012 and previous years, here is a list of movies that I saw at the cinema in 2013. There were plenty of good movies released this year and I managed to see a good selection of them.

Get your facts rights

I had a letter published in the Midland Express today about the importance of being factually accurate when engaging in public debate. I wrote the letter partly in response to the continual nonsense about climate change that seems to always get published on the letters pages of many newspapers. It was also motivated by letters in the Express making claims about wind power and smart meters that are not supported by any scientific evidence.

The letter notes the recently announced policies of the Los Angeles Times and Sydney Morning Herald about publishing letters discussing climate change. I have tried to emphasize that this should not be seen as censorship but as an imperative for those who engage in public debate to get their facts right.

Letter published in Midland Express, 5 November 2013

Following the announcement that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize I tweeted the following message.

The tweet follows a similar theme to a blog post I wrote last year criticising the Nobel Committee for awarding the 2012 Peace Prize to the European Union (EU). I would like to discuss this a little further.

I think the Nobel Committee is too focused on recognising institutions and processes. This is evidenced in the award of the prize to the United Nations (UN), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and EU in recent years. The work of OPWC is undoubtedly important and banning chemical weapons is a laudable goal. However, those who work for the OPWC don’t face the kind of threats and persecution that many activists do.

There are many activists around the world who face very real threats to their life and liberty just for advocating for basic human rights. Malala Yousafzai was shot and almost died for advocating that girls should have the right to an education. Three women from Pussy Riot were imprisoned for expressing their political views. Ai Weiwei was persecuted by the Chinese government for his bold artistic work and social criticism.

The bravery of people like them needs to be recognised. Activists who face very direct threats to their personal safety can gain protection through the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. Furthermore it brings wider attention to their struggle and gives them a new level of legitimacy and access. I can think of no better example of this than the award of the prize to Bishop Belo and José Ramos-Horta in 1996. It brought a new degree of attention to the situation in Timor-Leste and only a few years later the nation was able to vote for its independence.

I sincerely hope that the when deciding who will win the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize the Nobel Committee will pay attention the work of little known, marginalised and persecuted activists. It is these activists who demonstrate the greatest bravery and courage in the pursuit of peace. It is these activists for whom the prize will make the biggest difference.

I wrote the following letter which was published in the Midland Express on 16 July 2013. The letter is addressed to Damian Drum MLC and concerns legislation to provide compensation for firefighters who contract cancer due to exposure to smoke and chemicals in their work. A Greens MP has introduced legislation to provide compensation to the parliament but it needs the support of the government to pass. More information can be found at http://fairgoforfirefighters.org.

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Movies seen in 2012

movie poster collage

Following on from the list in 2011 and for several years before that, here is a list of movies I saw at the cinema in 2012. Unfortunately the list is a lot shorter than it has been in previous years. I hope it will be longer in 2013.

I haven’t seen enough movies to make a best of 2012 list, but I’ll just comment on a few of them. I loved the 3D cinematography of Hugo. The three Australian films I saw this year—Wish You Were Here, The Sapphires and The Wedding Party—were all quality productions. I also thought the indie sc-fi flick, Safety Not Guaranteed, was awesome.

The European Union (EU) has won the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. A press release from the Nobel Committee cited the EU’s “[contribution] to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”

I can see why the Nobel Committee have judged the EU to have made a significant contribution to peace. Europe is one of a few regions in the world where democracy and human rights are of a consistently high standard.

However, the Nobel Committee have a habit of awarding the prize to large institutions and establishment figures. That is what I have a problem with.

I don’t think the work of the European Union will significantly change as a result of receiving the prize. It doesn’t need the prize money. The award won’t really change its level of power and influence either.

The Nobel Committee should consider how much the recipient would benefit from the prize. For some recipients the attention generated by the award has made a significant contribution to  their struggle.

When Bishop Carlos Belo and Xanana Gusmao received the award in 1996 many would have considered that independence for Timor-Leste was an unrealistic dream. Yet a few years later the people of Timor voted for their independence.

When His Holiness the Dalai Lama received the award in 1989 he was little known as was the struggle of the Tibetan people. Today the Dalai Lama is one of the world’s most well known religious leaders and the Tibetan cause has won worldwide support.

Liu Xiaobo still languishes in a prison cell since receiving the award in 2010. However, the prize has given him a level of recognition far greater than he would otherwise have had.

The Nobel Committee made a big mistake in awarding the prize to Barack Obama in 2009. Since becoming President of the United States, Obama has continued to support the US military in its so-called “war on terror” and done nothing to advance the cause of peace. Being elected to the White House holds an extraordinary amount of prestige and power. The Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t really add anything to that and it only discredits the award when that power is used for the opposite of peace.

Other recent recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, such as Kofi Annan and the United Nations (UN), and Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), haven’t sullied the award in the way that Obama has. However, the award hasn’t necessarily increased the effectiveness of their work.

I wish the Nobel Committee had considered how much giving the award to Sima Samar would have contributed to the struggles of women and Hazaras in Afghanistan.

I wish the work of Gene Sharp could gain more recognition. This theorist of nonviolent revolution works from a small office with limited resources, yet his ideas have inspired change around the world.

Perhaps it is time to stop paying so much attention to the Nobel Peace Prize. There are many other awards that recognise the efforts of those that struggle for human rights, democracy and justice. There are the Right Livelihood Awards, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” Sima Samar and Gene Sharp, both mentioned above, were recipients of the awards this year.

The Goldman Prize recognises the efforts of environmental activists. There are many other prizes that similarly recognise the work of grassroots activists. Recognition of these unknown champions of peace and justice will help them to achieve change.

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