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Posts Tagged ‘lives of others’

Why

There’s a moment at the end of the superb film The Lives of Others where action skips forward a few years to former East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Instantly noticeable is the graffiti decorating the imposing dark stone buildings.

It is merely the backdrop to the scene, but is not there by accident: the director could have had his actors walking along any street, but he chose this one. Why? Because the graffiti was a symbol of freedom, a sign that the oppressive regime under which the Stasi was able to thrive and people lived in constant fear had been overthrown for good.

Bruce and Fran have already commented on their love of Melbourne’s graffiti, from that splattered over abandoned factories to the stencils popping up in the most unlikely of spots. Some, such as that at St Kilda Junction, is even there with the support of the local council and Vic Roads, among others. Hosier Lane is a tourist attraction because of its graffiti.

So why these new regulations? $550 fine for carrying a spray can? $26K for defacing a building and up to two years in jail?

One of Melbourne’s most attractive features is its pro-active attitude towards the arts and culture, an attitude that brings people from all over the world to live here. It has the world’s third largest comedy festival, wants to be number two behind Edinburgh for literature and has more cultural festivals going on around the year than it’s possible to attend.

And yet this, a Draconian attempt to stifle an artform available to anybody. OK, so there’s good and bad graffiti and no one (well, very few people) want to see gratuitous swear words or shitty tags everywhere, but surely that’s a price we should be willing to pay to allow this expression of freedom, this freedom of expression?

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A night at the flicks

With a red carpet to entice you inside and choice of lazily comfortable upstairs lounge bar or glaringly kitsch downstairs cocktail bar, we thought the George, on Fitzroy Street, a pretty handy wee place for catching a film.

The Astor trumps it, however. Like a little sister to the city’s grand old Regent Theatre, albeit one who’s gone off the rails but remains much-loved, the theatre at the Windsor end of Chapel Street is a step-back-in-time joy.

Proudly maintaining its original trimmings, from the curtains around the mirror in the gents’ bogs to the old school “ADMIT ONE” cardboard tickets, it makes going to see a film feel like a worthwhile experience rather than one to be endured (as is the case with Village-style multiplexes full of flashing lights, booming sound systems (in the foyer) and ten tonne popcorn containers).

Fetch the dickie bow darling

As you walk to its sole screen, the temptation to nip home and change into ballgown and top hat, tails and dickie bow is great. No wonder there’s a sign on the grand piano advising people not to play: without it cinema-goers are liable to trot out a tune and turn back the clock to the 1930s, forgeting entirely the purpose of their visit.

It lacks a decent bar, the George’s red carpet welcome – and it would be preferable to sink into the leather seats with a glass of wine, rather than plastic cup of wine – but is a fine (in the best sense of the word) way to spend an evening.

(It may have helped that our viewing for the night, The Lives of Others, is possibly the most brilliant, beautifully crafted film either Bruce or Fran have ever seen)

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