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If you had to write the story of your work life, how would it go? Traineeship, apprenticeship, university degree, family business, interview (disaster/success), bosses, payment, experience…

My work life has always been grey. After leaving school I went to University for a year. It was a sad 12 months. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was studying Communication which was cool and all but my heart was not in it… unfortunately. So I dropped out and worked in the Travel industry for a couple of years, thinking that I would be able to travel. Which I didn’t.

I just had this nagging desire for something to do with my mind, something more. So off I toddled back to University and absolutely loved my new course, Bachelor of Creative Arts. I had never worked so hard in my life, because I was finally studying something I loved… Drama, English and even a little bit of Business. (Got a ‘B’ in Accounting which was a big deal for a Creative Arts student).

After Uni, all I wanted to do was to travel with my hubby. And we did… after a year of mindbreaking, soul sapping work as a receptionist. But I did it, I travelled and loved it.

Back home and once again I was lost about what to do. I really wanted to have kids, but what to do in the meantime. So I took a job with kids, fell pregnant and was/is a mum, going on 8 years. Panic set in when my first baby went to school… gotta work… but what to do!? Had I squandered my working years, wandering around in a haze of options, doubt and confusion? I had to nail down what I loved to do…writing!

I was sent into the blogosphere by a friend who is a headhunter. I was wary, unsure but it was here I found my voice. But the eternal question hovers; do I do what I love as a job or should I get a local job in a shop/office just to pay the bills?

So my husband and I are both freelancers. Scary and exciting…?! You never know when you’re going to get that magical job that will propel you forward in your career. But there’s part of me that wants the steady income every week. The magical increase of numbers on a Thursday! Ping! Love that ping.

In the end everyone makes the decision to either do what they love, or what they have to do. The lucky or smart people get both. I’m hoping to one day be that lucky or smart or whatever. In the meantime, I keep plugging away at my humble blog/s (oscarclub.wordpress.com – check it out!) and hope and plan and pray that one day I can do what I love for work.

Dougie Hoswer – First Blogger featured on Television?

I am not Italian. My background is so varied I think I’ll just call myself plain old Australian. I have Greek, Irish, Portuguese, English, Jewish and Scandinavian. Not sure which bit is which but in the end I’ll proudly claim myself to be fully Aussie.

For some crazy reason I write 2 blogs. My other one is called OscarClub (oscarclub.wordpress.com). Basically it’s like a book club for lovers of film. I’ve been watching the films that won Best Picture from 1927. This week it was the incredible movie, The Godfather. As I was drawn into the crazy world of the Italian mobsters circa 1940s +, I had an epiphany. I’m sure they have got my heritage all wrong. For I feel completely Italian.

Not that I get out there with my machine gun, nor stick dead animals’ heads in beds but it was their lifestyle and temperament that I related to. In The Godfather there are 60 scenes that feature food. Many of them are a banquet including wine and home made, pure, organic goodness. Tick!

Image by Giulo Nepi

The women are ridiculously loyal. Can you imagine being married to Don Vito Corleone (the character Marlon Brando plays)? They live for their family, their kids and fun family time. Celebrations are done well with massive smiles and lots of music. It’s full of hoo and haa that I just love. I love the effort they go to celebrate. Fantastico.

They are an incredibly emotional lot. They can hold their feelings in but when pushed BAM! They go off like a stick of dynamite seen through the eyes of a magnifying glass. Yeah. When they are upset they show it in no uncertain terms – there’s lots of throwing things and then the nasty violence… that, I don’t relate to actually.

Nostalgia is another form of loyalty in this clan. They always have time for their homeland. They don’t change their ways just because they are in a foreign land. No. They hold on to it as much as they can.

This is not to say I’d be happy being a gangster. But as a good Italian citizen, I think I would fit in nicely. I love wine, mediterranean food, oceans, beauty, history and family. Yep. I am officially changing my background to Italian. Anyone want to join me?

Image by Barry Goyette

I LOVE watching the ‘awesome’ at work. It is such a delight to see someone who can dance impeccably, someone who can sing with depth and sweetness and others who can jump large sticks with another large stick and land effortlessly onto an oversized bean bag.

Give me sports and arts any day. I have been watching and reviewing all the Best Picture Winners from 1927 to today and it has been such an education (see oscarclub.wordpress.com). Last night I watched An American in Paris starring the oh so talented Mr Gene Kelly. He is incredible. He sings, he acts, he dances, his eyes twinkle… so charismatic. Gene (may I call him Gene?) was a perfectionist. He expected everyone to live up to his standards and it’s simply a pleasure to watch. I don’t know about you but my toes start twitching whenever I see him dance. I want to be up there tapping away with him… dreamy.

Another passion of mine (from a strictly couch potato point of view) are winter sports. There’s nothing more exciting than watching crazy human beings hurtle themselves down ice in metal. Or those who pop on skis then do somersaults in the air like they’re cleaning their nails. Downhill skiing is another ‘wow’ moment for me on that couch. I salivate at the thought of all that adrenaline. It’s explosive and daring and downright dangerous. I just admire the guts and determination of those winter olympians. Anyone can swim in a pool or run down a track in summer but not everyone can ski jump or ice dance or luge!

Another section of deliciousness is writing and film/tv. I love those mediums. I love the power they wield, the ability to move someone to do something positive or to make someone laugh and feel. Baz Luhrmann is one of my fav directors. I laughed through elephant medley in Moulin Rouge because it was so familiar and so unexpected. Creativity is scrummy and I love to be surprised because, face it, there’s not too many filmmakers out there who can knock our socks off anymore.

In my writing my only aspiration is to be a sock knocker offerer. To entertain, to inspire, to inform in an interesting way, that is what I want my writing to look like. And to my inspirations, to the dancers, the athletes and filmies, you are truly outrageous, truly, truly, truly outrageous! And I thank you…

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Starring Louis Wolheim & Lew Ayres

World War I, Germany. Young lads are told there is honour in dying for King and Country. They enlist and so begins the disturbing journey of a group of nineteen year-old German soldiers in the midst of a terrifying conflict they do not understand.

This is an incredible film. Especially when you think about when it was produced. This epic was sandwiched between two mindblowing conflicts that shook the earth. The world was on the brink of yet another terrifying war and once again the Germans were smack-bang in the middle. And yet this film was made from the perspective of a group of young German men who believed that they were fighting for the Fatherland; they were sacrificing for the good of the nation.

But in the midst of bombardments, death and despair, all they have left is the question, why? They discuss the purpose of the war and how it started. The central theme to the film is the inhumanity of war. At one stage Paul finds himself attacking an allied soldier and then suffers immense guilt. He says to the dying man that he is “just a man like me!”

And another time one soldier talks about putting all the leaders of the warring nations in a field in their underwear and letting them have a go at each other, “we’ll sell tickets!”

This is a well crafted film. It still has echoes from the silent film era with action scenes often being sped up. I loved how a pair of boots was used to record the successive deaths of soldiers as if the boots themselves were a sign of doom. There was no music except the tunes being played by the characters; it was all ambiance, which was quite effective. This contributed to the authenticity of the thing, you could almost taste the gun powder. This realism was most apparent in the famous trench battle scenes. The images of allied soldiers being mowed down by the Germans was actually quite disturbing and humbling.

I don’t know of another film that handles the ‘war’ with such sensitivity and tact. It never overtly judges the Germans. Rather, it highlights their naivity and relative ‘innocence’. This is a film for people, not governments, not leaders. And at the end, well, what a devastating moment.

Image by Galawebdesign

All Quiet on the Western Front Trivia:

  • Budget: $1.25 Million (which just goes to show bigger bucks mean better film! = no brainer)
  • This film is based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German author who fought in World War I (you guessed it) on the Western front.
  • Paul’s butterfly death scene was added in post production so the hand you see is actually the director’s.
  • Steven Spielberg drew inspiration from this film for his blockbuster Saving Private Ryan.
  • Battle scenes were shot in California with 2000 ex-servicemen.

Don’t miss out next Monday we are reviewing Cimarron, starring Richard Dix and Irene Dunn. While I haven’t fully investigated my local dvd store, I know this is available on Youtube. Check ya then, Oh and don’t forget to leave your thoughts! I’d love to know what you think!

The Broadway Melody (1929)
Starring, Charles King, Anita Page and Bessie Love

This film opens with a fly over the city scape of New York City in the 1920’s. This alone was interesting. It then focuses on a typical New York building with Gleason Music Publishing Co. written on the window. Here we meet Eddie, a song writer and star of the musical The Broadway Melody.

Eddie is engaged to Hank (Harriet), one half of a struggling sister singing duo. She’s a tough nut, the manager and the brains of the two. Her sister, Queenie, is the ‘looker’ and a little witless. Thanks to Eddie, they find themselves miraculously cast in The Broadway Melody (they can’t hold a tune to save themselves) and a rift develops between the sisters. Queenie is featured in an important scene, while Hank’s part is cut. Eddie secretly woos Queenie while pretending to still love Hank and Queenie falls for a wealthy man who offers her the world in exchange for her soul.

The negative side: this movie was disappointing. Compared with its predecessor, The Broadway Musical was a tad, well… boring. There is romance, music, brrrooaadddwwwaaay and awesome shots of 1930’s New York City but it wasn’t enough. Was it because it was made at the dawn of the depression? I don’t know. But I just didn’t care about the characters or the musical and I LOVE musicals. The men were patronising and the girls were simply too much. There was no heart.

The positive side: this film was the first full ‘talkie’ musical; the first musical

example of an intertitle

to win an Oscar. This was HISTORY in the making. It was a dawn of a new era in filmmaking; a pretty exciting time to be working in the biz! This was a time of transition from the silent movie era to the ‘talkies’. Silent film devices were still being used at this time. For example, the use of intertitles (title cards) to link scenes and melodramatic acting techniques.

Is this worthy of an Oscar? I don’t think so. It was a little naff. But here we find it, on our Oscar list. We must obey the mighty Oscar and watch the winners he deemed worthy.

The Broadway Melody Trivia:

  • Budget: $350 000
  • MGM released a silent film version as many theatres were still without sound capabilities
  • One of its enduring influences was the use of red and green Technicolor technology. From then on musicals were associated with the use of this device.
  • MGM made three later versions of this film (and I hope they were better than this one!)
  • According to filmsite.org the films nominated for Oscars in 1930 were, “some of the weakest films in the history of American cinema.”

Next week we head back to war with the classic All Quiet on the Western Front. This one should be much easier to find. All good dvd stores should have a copy you can rent. Join in the Oscar ride as we count down to the most recent Best Picture Oscar winners.

Welcome to the first meeting of Club Oscar! It’s going to be quite a ride. Feel free to agree, disagree or share some Oscar trivia you may have stumbled on over the years! Enjoy.

Wings (1927)
Starring Clara Bow, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Richard Arlen & Jobyna Ralston

Jack Powell is in love with Sylvia, Mary Preston is in love with Jack, Sylvia is in love with David, the wealthiest man in town and David is head over heels in love with Sylvia. Whew! Talk about a love trapezium without a meeting point.

Jack and David find themselves in love with one lucky lady, Sylvia! However, bigger things are brewing thousands of kilometres across the Atlantic and the boys sign up for the Air Force. The First World War is in full flight as the boys begin their training. They are not the best of friends and there is a great scene where they grab the opportunity to beat each other up in the name of flight training. This ironically, transforms their friendship from combative to friendly. Good times!

Once the training is completed they head to the front line where they learn to fly (quite quickly I must add) a real plane. Tragedy strikes one of their own and their idealisitic view of war is shattered. Meanwhile Mary signs up for the Motor Corps and finds herself driving an ambulance. There’s a classic scene where she runs over a soldier who then plays dead to get her attention. Here’s a clip from just after the accident:

Full on war begins. There are some impressive fight scenes and fascinating biplane crashes! There are some questionable plot progressions including the scene where David’s gun jams and the dreaded German General, in a chivalrous gesture, retreats, saving Dave-o from certain death.

In the final days of war, Jack and David are in the thick of it. There are some really tense moments. I was really getting into it! By the end David nearly dies a few times but the ending is quite unbelievable! David escapes the dreaded Germans, steals a plane which ultimately results in his demise! Sad, sad moment when handsome Dave dies. The war is then won and the troops head home.

Mary busted in a risque moment

I must admit to writing this film off before I had started watching it. But, hat in hand, I come to you as a silent film skeptic no more. I loved this film. It was funny, heartwarming, tense; impressive really. There were incredible fight scenes in the skies and there was even animation (bubbles!!!). It was risque, emotional and very dramatic. They combined necessary silent film melodrama with real experiences that would have been quite raw for the audience. I warn you that this is a ra ra go pro America movie, very patriotic but if you can just accept that you will enjoy it for what it is!

When I watch Oscar winning films, I expect a lot. What makes a film worthy of the Best Picture award? There has to be something epic and original about it. This film had it all. It covered war, friendship, fidelity, love, family, sex, morals and loss. Wings is epic and timeless. I highly recommend you take the time to experience the birth of a new era in film. It’s awesome.

Wings Trivia:

  • Budget: An incredible $2 million
  • In 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew non stop across the Atlantic and this boosted the popularity of Wings with audiences, they were fascinated with flying!
  • For a time all copies of Wings were lost until it was found in an archive in Paris! C’est la vie! They immediately copied it and now we have it on Youtube!
  • Along with the Academy Award for Best Picture, Wings received Oscars for Best Effects, Engineering Effects.

First film down, only eighty something to go! The next film we’re looking at is The Broadway Melody (1929) starring Charles King, Anita Page and Bessie Love. See you next Monday at the Oscar Club!

Block out the day on your calendar, set an alarm because next Monday this Worddancer is launching an Oscars club.

We will begin from the very first ‘Best Picture’ award winning film and work our way to the most recent recipient. It’s going to be quite a ride. There’ll be some that will bore us to tears and others we will have completely forgotten about. Your mission is to track down the upcoming film, watch it, read my take on it and contribute yours. It’s like a book club for really awesome films.

As a kid and as an adult, I have always loved watching the Oscars. It’s not just about the glamour and the fashion and the sometimes feeble attempts at comedy, no. It’s about the best of the best fighting it out for the ultimate prize; a naked gold man cuddling himself. It is sport for movie buffs and I like it!

Oscar Trivia

  • The first Oscars were held on May 1929
  • They were created by Louis. B Mayer (head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios)
  • On the first night, tickets were $5 and twenty-six people attended
  • For the first year only, Oscar winners were notified six months prior to the ceremony of their victory. This was changed for obvious reasons the following year
  • Winners of Oscar statuettes are not allowed to resell their trophies unless they first offer it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for US$1. Talk about a rip off. But if they refuse this condition, they don’t get to keep their naked gold man! Tough crowd.

That’s enough trivia for now. More will follow each Monday for the next umpteen and a half weeks. The first film for our Oscars Club will be Wings from 1927. I’ve only been able to track it down on YouTube. Can you believe that it has not been released on DVD as yet? If you can, check it out and join in the discussion next Monday 16th August 2010.

I’m excited!

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