Five movies to save in a nuclear explosion

Grease, the 1978 classic, is a story of romance, music, intrigue, rebellion and comedy in the fifties. It’s all about fast cars, blue suits, gelled back hair and leather jackets. Good girl Sandy and Danny fall in love during the Summer but unexpectedly end up at the same high school. Stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John propelled the movie into a franchise that the modern world still appreciates today. My favourite. I can’t live without it. It’s electrifying.


If you haven’t seen Back to The Future, you haven’t quite lived yet. Michael J Fox’s awkward, loveable character Marty McFly is sent to 1955 from 1985 where he meets his folks. Marty accidentally attracts his young mother’s interest and he has to write the wrongs with the help of the quirky Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). It’s a fight for his own existence. It’s a grapple with the flux capacitor and the lightning strike. It’s 80’s retro galore and comedic genius.

Take a bunch of high school students:a mix of jock, beauty, misfit, nerd and anti-social emo kid and put them in detention. It’s a story of emotions, anger, romance, confusion and everything a teenager goes through. They discover everything about each other – what makes them different, what makes them the same. This coming-of-age film is a classic John Hughes creation with the 80’s folk that enhanced that era of film: Molly Ringwald and Emilio Estevez. They meet once, they get high, they change each other’s lives.

Forest Gump bears his life story and Tom Hanks’ performance is inspiring and quirky, bringing to life a character who witnesses the 20th century’s most influential events while his true love Jenny eludes him at different stages of his life. From war to hippies, life on sea, meeting John Lennon and the president, running around the country and letting loose on Watergate, Forest’s story is a magical creation that never fades. Mama always said life’s like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get. Mama says that stupid is as stupid does…

Fight Club

Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. A guy (the narrator and unnnamed: the “everyman”) who works in an office is bored of his everyday existence and forms a fight club with a soap maker Tyler (Pitt). Embroiled in a relationship with Marla, Tyler and Norton’s character form an unlikely bond. The fight clubs turn wild, popular and the institution becomes increasingly anti-corporate. Tyler disappears, reappears, is a part of the narrator. It’s dark, twisty and dramatic. I can’t say anything else: as they say, first rule of fight club is not to talk about it.


Remember The Titans is a feel-good epic. It’s based on a true story of a newly-appointed African American football coach and his high school team in their first season as a racially integrated group. It’s full of racial prejudice issues, romance, friendship, hope and moments that will make you cry your heart out. There’s a lot of sports films I admire but this ismy favourite. In a society that encourages racial segregation, the team’s togetherness and friendship inspires a community to change their ways and mindsets. Apart from the match-play, mud and tackles, its a story of hope and building morals.

 

Another five to follow soon

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The Hunger Games thrills

While we all cringe at Kristen Stewart’s expressionless face and the twinkle of Robert Pattinson’s chest, there’s a new-fangled craze which is worth more praise than the vampire-werewolf saga. I just finished the praised ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy and appreciate the various themes put forward by author Suzanne Collins. While Stephanie Meyer concentrated on romance and irrefutable love, Collins put forward characters that dabble in love, a female lead that is filled with independence and a setting that questions politics, policy and class.

While I adore the Twilight series, the comparisons to The Hunger Games is a little misleading. I think the fact that the trilogy put forward three main characters immersed in a love-triangle gives the craze a liking to Twilight’s multi-million dollar sell power. The Hunger Games story is a significant look into what our future can hold. It seems a little less fantastical than demons, vampires and people turning into dogs.

The low-down

The story is told from 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen who lives in a post-apocalyptic world called Panem. The Capitol, a dominating metropolis, controls the twelve districts of the nation and annually holds the flashy, televised Hunger Games: one boy and one girl from each district of Panem is chosen to compete in a nation-wide battle to the death where there will be one winner.

Collins conceived the concept from watching reality TV as well as the US Iraqi invasion and the model slowly blurred into the futuristic perception of government dominance and public intrigue. Collins also considered Katniss’ character on a basis of a modern Theseus: a soldier, a hero, a reformer. The authentic mindset of Katniss and her confusing emotions over her suitors Peeta and Gale is less fantastical, understandable and gives her characters range and a three-dimensional quality.

The first book (Hunger Games) is followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay, based on the inclusive themes. Collins exclusively deals with poverty and oppression as well as self-preservation. Collins’ presentation of a ‘big brother’ fold (The Capitol) is a little too realistic to fight away, attesting to modern day brawls for power, money and dominance.

Getting onto the screen

The movie adaption has filled fan appetites with a $155 million on its premiere night – more than the first Twilight movie gained. In a few days of its release this year, the movie grabbed $214.3 million in revenue worldwide. Katniss is played by the very lovely Jenniffer Lawrence and the male characters Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) give film-goers a taste of romance and intrigue.


Katniss’ strength and rebel status is inspiring. Her starting a revolution is a story to be told. In a world today subjugated by rich somethings who tell you what to wear, what to eat, what to make. In a more ultramodern take, Collins’ play on government reform and repression gives readers and fans a question to clasp: is this an exaggerated future for us? In a world today where reality TV dominates and sells, it is easy to turn into a commercial robot chewing up what society tells us to do. From the ever-popular ‘Survivor’ TV show and the US’ reign over world politics, it’s effortless to visualize a world that makes citizens victims for entertainment.

Could this be a future? So far, governments already control the media, land, food supplies, what we eat, what we watch. The Capitol’s adorned faces, fashion and technological superiority is already a given in first-world cities. Even now, what you look like overrides ethics and morals.

In short, the trilogy is a must-read. It’s exciting, fast-paced and keeps you guessing to the outcome – you will never guess it right.

Zipping up Zuma

All art requires courage
To stir, to irritate, to go against the grain
isn’t that what art is all about?

Oh mighty spear, zip it up will you?
Stay rigid in times of struggle; I warrant esteem
A shuffle of the spectacles, a clear giggle, a sex scandal
I’m in power!
I can’t bear the paint
What is this hanging?
It’s private, I’m private, we’re private
I am a stallion but zip it up
While I manage up the fraud, the crimes, my friends in high places
who eat caviar while you eat…
What do you eat?
They have guns, have drivers, have a pocket-full of Visa

Respect me, I say
Overlook
The rape
The nepotism
The deception
Swindling
Abide in the concave of our democracy
So the police can reign

You are
Terrorists
Racists
Oh, my people

It is my Zulu spear, blunt, unfocused
deadly to the hearts of freedom
1.85m
Surely, it should be bigger. My spear
No, hide it
So I can hide
Oh don’t judge me my people
it’s not sanctioned
Shout my name
because I am your leader
remember that freedom means you can’t offend me
Don’t hurt my feelings
I’ll hurt your sovereignty
What’s a parody?
What is justice
Stop dicking around
Please zip me up
while I zip you down

Remembering The Disco Giants

There is no other genre that makes one want to bust one on the dance floor, strut your stuff and twist your hips like you’re propelled into a Seventies movie. Travolta-esque, bellbottoms and afro-stylin’ – there’s nothing more fun like disco. Whether its humming along at a wedding or birthday party, the classics never die. We remember the giants…

Robin Gibb


Tight white disco pants, long shampooed hair and the high-pitched disco funk. The Bee Gees highlighted the best of the disco era, and are no doubt one of the most successful vocal groups in rock n’ roll history. Singer and co-founder of the group, Robin Gibb, sadly passed away to colon cancer at the age of 62.

Gibb co-wrote favourites like “Stayin’ Alive’ and “Night Fever’, and the group’s off-beat pop hits sold over 200 million albums worldwide. Known for his song-writing, Gibb’s influence on music (especially British pop music) was immense and many define Gibb’s contribution as second-best to Lennon and co. in defining British culture. The group was indicted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame and have too many hit singles to count. Gibb, usually known for his trademark blue spectacles, is a great loss to music. His talent and tunes brought about a swing in the hips and a need to disco on the dance floor like a young John Travolta. Following a lot of 70’s music, the era can never be encapsulated without The Bee Gees and their catchy lyrics and disco ballads. Gibb was definitely a white guy whose voice could gather deft soul.

Donna Summer



In line with the disco era, another great loss is the passing of ‘Queen of Disco’ Donna Summer who propelled the 70’s with her flashy dance hits and soul lyrics. Donna’s booming voice coincided with her glitter and funk, her platforms and glossy hair. Donna’s music was thick with sex, revolution, fashion and drugs. Donna died last week at the age of 63 to complications with cancer. Her music was disco and her influence was immeasurable as she remained a cult favourite for decades after her spike on the charts, often playing with a little rock.

Donna’s greatest like “Hot Stuff’ and “She works hard for her money” propelled her to legendary status and gave her audience a mix of range and genre. As The Bee Gees epitomized the Seventies funk, Donna established herself with the electricity and glamour of the dance floor.

 

How to become a reality star. Also, read a book sometimes.

My mom called me a Kardashian fan one day and I got upset. Her response was adequate, despite it distressing me to the point where I had to change the channel. I have been slowly grappled by reality TV and the absurdness that it promotes.

In my most simple defence, I watch because it’s stupid and fairly entertaining. It’s sort of like watching a car wreck and driving far too slowly to see the guts and goo.

I have often surrendered my soul to The Kardashians, The Bachelor and Jersey Shore; the characters, their beefed-up catch phrases and orchestra-set crying episodes and meltdowns. You can punch me now if you’d like…


Today, it’s all about being orange, getting a tattoo, making a sex tape that ‘somehow’ goes public and getting inebriated while crying into a shaky camera. The more you cause complete chaos, the more likely you’re going to get another season or spin-off. There’s also shotgun weddings, engagements, divorces and the knockouts (blood, guts and ambulance trips are necessary for ratings). Reality TV is increasingly scripted (see: background music from Dawson’s Creek or a soapie). It plays on spectacles with the ‘Ryan Seacrest voice’ in a promo bursting on about “The most surprising episode yet!”

 If you haven’t been on TV yet, you’re probably not cut out to be a reality star. Let’s be honest, you don’t need a brain cell and you probably don’t need any form of education or claim to fame. You might need the following, though:

1. Sex tape

From Paris Hilton’s awkward pout, Hilton-heir status and that small dog she carries around, the reality TV era was born. The formula is quite straightforward: have sex with a stranger who has a video camera. You don’t really need one. One day, you could buy a diamond-encrusted one and call it fluffy. Anyway, once the camera is set up make sure your entire face can be seen so the press can identify that it’s really, really you. It’s your break-out role so smile and be sure to say the following line to the stranger-sex-man: This is totally private, right? OMG what are we doing?
Back in 2007, Kim Kardashian was plastered over glossy magazines with her home-made sex video with singer Ray J they made four years earlier.

This is how it all begins: next up is the media buzz, the determined apology and new role as ‘person-who-can-put-the-sex-tape-behind-and-sell-a-fragrance’.

Speaking of…

2. Sell your smell

Actually every sort of celebrity has their own fragrance. So, if you’re going to make a name for yourself you have to follow in the smelly foot steps of David Beckham, JLo, Britney Spears, Beyonce and Paris Hilton. (Did you know that Sarah Jessica Parker had a fragrance? Bet it smells like horse manure). So what should it smell like? Obsession with fame? Depressing romantic dreams? Douchebag?

Point is, it can smell like anything. It can smell like laundry baskets and McDonald’s dustbins. The real point you have to hit home is marketing it. Make sure you come up with a flashy bottle with lots of glitter and a label that tells your fans how much work you put into this. If things work out, your mom and pet hamster can also brand off spin-off fragrances. Remember, you also get to strut around in naked with the bottle once it’s launched – how fun!

3. Catch phrases

There’s a monopoly of corny, adrenalin catch phrases in The Jersey Shore; so much so that I repeated it a few times and decided to choke myself next time I utter it. But, if you want to make sure your cheesy grin or shocked, orange face sits with viewers for a very long time, make sure to say a catchy phrase as much as possible (even when it doesn’t make sense in context). In many a TV show, we get familiar with the lines and play it out in real life. Like “You’re fired!” (don’t do this too often in the office) or “The tribe has spoken”.

 

Some reality TV catch- phrases include

”Oh yeaaaaaaah!” – Pauly D, Jersey Shore

“It’s a Situation.” – Mike ‘The Situation’, Jersey Shore

”Please pack your knives and go.” – Top Chef

”Will you accept this rose?” – The Bachelor

“Evidently fear is not a factor for you.” – Fear Factor

”That’s hot” – Paris Hilton

Mine would be: “Ginger love!”

4.  Snip snip snip

If you’re ugly, you’re not going to get far, friend. If you have a big nose, make it smaller, stupid! If your boobs aren’t big enough then no one will watch. If you’re a reality show contestant, be sure to have the shortest dress. Sometimes, you can forget to wear underwear to show off your new bum cheeks. Make sure you are perfectly assembled. If not, think about it. You definitely need a fake forehead to make it in life so make sure you have botox needles for touch-ups before your episode’s pinnacle.

If need be, practice your crying and laughter just so you can get a whole counterfeit look that people will procure without a flicker of reservation. If you go too far, you could always have a spin-off called ‘My mistake with plastic’. Heidi Montag, reality star from The Hills, splashed out millions for a full plastic make-over. Now, she looks like a despondent Barbie nobody wants to play with (i.e. TV producers).

5. Marry for athleticism or desperation

Dear me, baseball and basketball players in the US are increasingly blurring the lines between performance on the field and performance playing the field (ha-ha. Get it?). Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom and his wife, Khloe Kardashian is one example of how sports and reality TV had been in bed in the last few years. Kendra Wilkinson, laughable Playboy girlfriend of Hefner a few years back and star of Girls of The Playboy Mansion, wedded Hank Baskett – NFL star. It’s important to choose a man who is buff, a bustling quarter-back or star points scorer. If he is not a star in the team and a possible bench-warmer, then step away slowly. Get to know the sport and see if the guy is worthy of a hook-up or wedding.

Besides huffing and puffing over athletes, if you’re pretty, have issues, hate your ex and are looking to meet your soul mate in a few weeks, be sure to pitch up on those reality dating/wedding/I need somebody in my life or I’ll die shows. Make believe you’re stable and not as desperate even though you’re holding back the word ‘love’ and ‘children’ every step of the way.

When the wedding comes, make sure you promote the hell out of it. It can be a film even.

Then when it’s over, never speak to your husband ever again!
File for divorce and promote a spin-off. Everything is a spin-off.

(Note to men: If you want to hook-up. A lot. Then be The Bachelor)

Reality TV, sadly, is the entertainment of the minion millions out there who fawn over the jeans, coffee stains and kisses theses Kardashian-types exhibit to the world. If you’d like your brain to get completely pickled in debris and phoney emotions, then go ahead and indulge BUT here is my warning: like that gooey doughnut you treat yourself with on an awful Monday, too much reality TV will make you feel culpable of idiocy and depression.

6. Get drunk

Don’t be afraid to drink a lot so you can manufacture some sort of spontaneity.
Get drunk in the mornings, too sometimes. It’s a breakdown episode that everyone needs and if you’re increasingly apologetic afterwards, you will gain more fans and people will call you ‘human’.

Read a book now and again.

 

 

Post Office People

In the list of things I hate most in the world (yellow, Kirsten Dunst, Tobey Maguire, crocs and beetroot) the post office would be the most depressing. The lacklustre green walls and brown carpets squeal of gloom, dejection and hopelessness.


The tiny fan in the corner of the brown, grey and lighter grey room is taped up, buzzing along as if its screws were about to burst open. The room is filled with elevator music, tunes that drab along featuring in no real genre. That’s why its elevator music – it’s incompetent and dreary and ‘entertains’ from one level to the next. So, the post office decided to adopt the elevator music genre (cue instrumental humdrum and dire ballads) so that people who enter find themselves wanting to gallop out, choking on their own mental breakdown and world-weariness. Sometimes, post office people turn on an old radio, searching for the frequency. The radio crackles and we’re transported into another decade where flutes and tambourine solos are the manner of the day. It’s a tedious man who is mumbling on about Cosatu or its accordion hits from the sixties. But mostly, it’s that elevator music.


The post office booths are cages with small vertical gaps in between so they can reach out for the bills, envelopes and money without actually obtaining ‘outside world stuff’. This brings me to the post office people. There’s a fifty-something woman with short blonde hair wearing a hand-made maroon jersey. I bet she made it herself.

Maybe it was from gran years back. Anyway, it looks like moths breed in the sleeves as white pieces of fluff fall off the back of the jersey. Through thick, chunky and murky glasses, she looks at the queue with judgement and uniform hate as if to say “Why are you here…in my land?”
I say “Dear me, I don’t have a choice”

Hunched forward, tight-lipped, her thin, dry lips hang as her eyes scrunch up figures, typing too quickly on her keyboard. I was half-expecting a typewriter with a sticker that said ‘I hate the world’. She’s the archetypal cat lady with faded mom jeans and dirt on her knees. While waiting in the queue, I was thinking about what her life might be like. Home at 5:30, she would feed her array of cats and kiss them, showing the only ecstasy she can muster for a living thing. She would turn on her box TV set and eat noodles then turn in with a book and have an early night. I couldn’t quite see her cracking open a beer and having a braai with friends. I couldn’t see her being romantic with anyone either. She loved her cats and nothing else.

The other post office person was a smaller, younger woman who kept looking at a piece of paper before attending to anyone in queue. I think she was buying time, doing all her office antics with deliberate ease and carelessness so that the plastic clock (that probably didn’t work) would tick tick tick to five. Older post office lady would ask her what she was doing and she would nod along several times before staring at that slip of paper, evading human contact. I figured she wouldn’t be much of social butterfly outside of these walls. I figured she’d get take out while playing chess. I think she used to cool. I think she used to have fun. Now, the cold bricks, electrical wires and monotonous sounds have grabbed her soul to bury any sense of merriment she once had. Other lady, with over-sized quiff and bulging belly, walks in and out of the glass cages to seem busy. She winked at me and I thought it might have been a curse. The short, dumpy man with the blue suit and stuck-on moustache followed her around, arrived at a computer and typed for few seconds before idling around, grinning at people. He occasionally waved then followed the woman (see: Tracy Morgan but fatter)

 

Post Office people exist. In the downcast job environment, they’ve completely succumb to post office plight. They dress without spark, they speak like insufferable robots with no intention to make nice. Post office time drags along and five minutes can seem like a stabbing eternity. A lot of the employees look like Kristen Stewart happy, sad and excited (i.e. they look like they’re jaded and fed up with everything around them)


Soon enough, places like these will be forgotten. Today, it’s a treasure to send and receive letters. Most of us login, type and send an e-mail because it’s convenient and quick. However, there is nothing more exciting than receiving post. One day, hand-written letters will be societal rarities and post office establishment will be museums.

Our children will ask what that red box on the side of the road is. To them, it will be a funny sort of fossil. With all my hatred towards a post office, the bleak people and atmosphere, the fact that it will all go away is a sad, sad reality. Then again, at least the elevator music has gone.

Rebel Cool: Embracing Dean today

Dean drags the cigarette like he was born with it on his lips and his coat hangs high as if to protect himself from the world. Cool detachment; embracing life as an easy experiment. Balls to the wall.

Adopting James Dean’s “Live Fast, Die Young” attitude is alluring and forbidding. But isn’t that what makes it considerably attractive to embrace? Why does Dean’s misdemeanour glue him to history’s great icons? It’s his cool, unruffled persona that attracts youngsters. Youngsters took to his questioning of the hopes and fears we all live through – it’s a culture we can adopt. Teens at the time saw Dean’s major films and identified with the roles he perfected. In Rebel Without A Cause, Dean encapsulated the typical teenager, caught in between a world where no one understands him. It’s that selfish, centre-of-the-world complex that promotes a life that can be lived with little or no regret. In a modern world, where anti-social is hip, his significance lives on.

A little like Cobain’s youthful stardom and most recently Heath Ledger’s sudden death and ascent to honour, Dean’s ‘live life like there’s nothing to worry about’ guise, remains cool to follow, foolish and hip to adopt. Dean’s youth and promise and short life has made him a culture creature. The mugs, the fashion, the bedroom posters, the notepads, the memorabilia that’s scratched onto stickers, pens and books. In every Hollywood adoration haven, there is James and his sexual charisma, the perfectly sculpted hair, the brooding frown, the limping cigarette. The tainted, tainted Porsche Spyder and the unimaginable fate it had with the Ford in 1955. The raw masculinity and angelic, seductive presence on screen as if he was meant to impress and make an impression and then be taken away. Cruel.

The archetypal disobedient is what we all want to be. To stir up ‘The Man’ is something the youth all aspire to. This can relate to the world today. Now, youngsters are either divided into a social qualm where the ‘machine’ controls what you eat, consume, watch, wear and listen to. From grossly recorded mush and Disney Channel drone sitcoms, today’s world is a little spoon fed so that the big rich people can continue being big rich people and the teenagers can use their parent’s money to have what everyone has. On the other hand, there’s a new cluster that’s promoting the anti-man, anti-cool rebellion that seems so attractive. Dean was modernity at best. Perhaps his tragedy at best propelled him into stardom and fame. He is a pivotal name that leaves us all to think about our future, how we’re going to make it without conforming to what the government or our parents tell us. It’s a character hard to portray. In Rebel Without A Cause, his self-destruction and confusion is a theme stained in society (from back then to today).

Dean is a figure that never really died. Dean, with a clear talent for acting, gave Hollywood a new take: being the ruffled rebel who didn’t give a damn. Gone were the days when acting seemed to be done by big budget robots. Dean was real. Dean’s somewhat ‘perfectly timed’ death made him an icon – he was loneliness, fear, rebellion, hatred, cool and sex. A new life-on-the-edge mentality followed and that’s why James Dean is still a figure that can be increasingly brought up today.

What if James had lived on?

Would he have still been a mega brand?

Nope.

His death made him eternal, ironically.