My Daemon

For those who haven’t read it, Philip Pullman’s fantasy series His Dark Materials involves an alternate world, in which everyone has a “daemon” – an external, physical soul. The daemon takes the form of an animal – children’s daemon’s can change form at will, but they settle into a single form as the child grows up.

The official website for the upcoming film has a “meet your daemon” section, where you answer 20 personality questions, and you are told the name and form of your daemon. Mine is an ocelot called Lutheus. As an added feature of the site, for 12 days other people can provide feedback, which may make the daemon change before settling into a final form. If you want to provide feedback on my daemon, click the picture. (NB The 5 questions you get asked in the feedback form are not the same as any of the original questions – they are just based on the summary of characteristics the first questionnaire identified.)

30 April – Update
Lutheus has transformed twice – first into a raven, and now a lynx.

Films: 6; Plays: 2; Blog entries: 0

And the only excuse it the usual one – way too busy.

Sunshine at Hoyts, Broadway

I really enjoyed this film. It was as much about the psychological stresses as it was about the physical challenges: about making difficult decisions while under enormous pressures, and then dealing with the consequences.

The only thing I didn’t much like about it was that SPOILER FOLLOWS I would have preferred it if everything that went wrong had been the result of bad luck or bad judgement. Having deliberate sabotage turned the plot a bit too much into a straightforward get-the-bad-guy-save-the-world story. But although this was a detraction, it certainly didn’t spoil the film.

300 at Hoyts, Broadway

Lots of violence. Lots of shouting. Lots of muscles. Lots of visual effects (some of which were very striking). A bit more plot than I had expected. A lot more bling than I had expected. Not a lot of historical accuracy.

This was not a good film, but neither was it the video game that the trailer had made it look like.

Though perhaps the most interesting aspect of the experience was the fact that one of the pre-film ads was for female hygiene products. Looking around the audience, this film did not seem to have attracted the right demographic for that ad: I won’t say I was the only representative, but I was part of a very small minority.

The Season at the Sarsparilla (Patrick White ): Sydney Theatre Company at the Drama Theatre (Sydney Opera House)

I didn’t really enjoy this all that much, though that was more the circumstances than the production. We were in the third front row, which, at the Drama Theatre, means your eyes are about level with the actors’ feet – when you can see them around the tall person in front of you. And the woman next to me was wearing far too much scented powder. And most of the people sitting around us felt compelled to point out the bleeding obvious parts of the plot to their friends (normally about five minutes after the relevant point had become bleeding obvious).

So it was really hard to get into the play. One thing that did strike me, however, was the fact that when it was written it was contemporary, but this production very much emphasised the fact that it was “looking back” at how things used to be. I’m not sure whether it was trying to prompt nostalgia or a comfortable sense of modern superiority – or a combination of the two – but whichever it was, this was something that would clearly have been totally absent from original productions.

Hot Fuzz at Hoyts, Broadway

Heaps of fun. You really can’t go past a film that has a massive gun battle in the streets of Wells.

The Good German at Hoyts, Broadway

I wish I’d liked this film more than I did. It was visually great, George Clooney and Cate Blanchett looked absolutely perfect, it had lots of atmosphere, but overall it just didn’t quite work.

Troupers (Michael Cove): Sydney Theatre Company at the Wharf Theatre

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this play, but in the end I really enjoyed it. At the centre were really strong performances by Barry Otto, Blazey Best and Natasha Wanganeen, but it was also a quite moving picture of post-WWI Australia. Powerful and poignant, but also funny – a good night at the theatre.

The Good Shepherd at Hoyts, Broadway

This was an okay film, but I found it rather dull. As with any film that follows one character over a large number of years, it was more a series of snapshots of the life, rather than an overall development of relationships. So the political background story was okay, but I didn’t think it really worked as a character piece.

Pan’s Labyrinth at Hoyts, Broadway

This film was a real celebration of the grotesque, with some amazing visual imagery. It was rather more violent than I had expected – not just shoot-em-up violence (though there was quite a lot of that), but also the kind of slow, deliberate, measured violence that is much more confronting. In fact, there was one scene that I absolutely couldn’t watch: I looked over the top of my glasses, so it was all blurred and I couldn’t see it properly. But none of the violence was gratuitous – the point seemed to be to set the fantasy monsters against the human ones.

I liked the fact that you were never 100% told whether the fantasy stuff was real, or just the girl’s imagination. There was some evidence for either side of the argument. I believe the evidence for it being real outweighed that for it being imagination (and from something I’ve read, I gather the director thinks the same) but I like that it is something every individual audience member can decide for themselves.