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The Mockingjay: Part 2 review

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WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

“Welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.”

If you’re a fan of the books, you were probably aware that The Mockingjay: Part 2 was going to absolutely break our hearts. After all, it’s a series where beloved characters rarely die (rest in peace Rue and Cinna). So it’s a complete shock to have anyone die—let alone people we’ve grown to adore—and see them meet quite violent and gruesome ends. But I guess death is the price you have to pay for war. This film causes us to ask ourselves: is it really worth it? Katniss Everdeen would say no.

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Come back to us, Peta! We love you.

The Mockingjay: Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off: Katniss is in recovering after her fiancé Peeta, who was brainwashed and tortured by the Capitol, tried to kill her. Peeta is convinced that Katniss has been sent from the Capitol to destroy all of the rebels; he truly believes the woman he once loved is a monster, and no amount of talking from the brave and increasingly mature Primrose Everdeen can convince him otherwise. Prim is truly no longer the scared little girl of the first Hunger Games film—she’s brave and selfless. Cue tears.

Like the other films in the popular franchise, Katniss seeks retribution: she wants snow dead. She wants to be there to see the light fade from his eyes. And as the rebels arm themselves for an onslaught on the Capitol, Katniss, Gale, and Finnick, along with a team of skilled fighters and because we wouldn’t want to miss a good photo opportunity (Coin’s orders), Katniss’s trusty camera crew (featuring Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones) infiltrate the Capitol on a stealthy attack to assassinate Snow. But the Capital is armed and ready to make yet another game of their gruesome demises. With the help of game makers, Snow has equipped every inch of the once-opulent city with deadly traps known as pods—including infernos, machine guns, deadly liquid, as well as terrifying zombie-like fuckers. To make their “top secret” plan (disclaimer: it’s not really tip secret because Katniss is recognised by pretty much everyone; the woes of being the mockingjay, the symbol of a rebellion) more difficult, District 13’s President Coin sends the psychotic and recovering Peeta to join the party. And this would be great, if it weren’t for Peta’s annoying little tendency to forget what’s real, and try to kill Katniss. Awkward. Lucky we have the trusty Gale, who gallantly volunteers to kill Peeta if the time comes. Thanks Gale, we can always count on you. Except for when you devise a war strategy where morals go out the door, and thousands of innocents die. FYI, this is how one of our favourite characters die. Thanks again, Gale, you thoughtless jerk.

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Katniss and her band of merry men (and women).

Thankfully, we have the alluring and fabulous Jennifer Lawrence, who portrays Katniss perfectly. A lot of the film focusses on Katniss’s inner turmoil and emotional stress, including themes of revenge, love, passion, and most harrowingly, loss. Katniss is thrown into a world where everything she knew has crumbled—are the good guys even the good guys anymore?

Passionate speeches seem to really be her thing—in particular, one that convinces loyalists from the weaponised District 2 to cease fighting.

 “You blew up our district. We blew up your mine. We both have reasons to kill each other . . . It goes around and around, and who wins? Snow. These people are not your enemy. It’s snow. Stop killing for him! Turn your weapons to the Capitol, turn your weapons to Snow!”

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I mean, at this point, she gets shot: but good speech, right?

All we’ve ever thought about District 13, and it’s mysterious, hard-hitting leader Alma Coin is a lie, something which I think the film executes brilliantly. Of course, the whole good-guy-turns-bad thing is a tad cliche, but it’s done well, so we can forgive them. In fact, it’s probably one of the more horrific and unsettling things that could happen in war–the death of children, and the sacrifice of your own medic team.

Katniss must decide who is really her ally? Gale? Coin? Peeta? Or is it Snow? Well, my dear readers, you’ll have to watch this great film to find out.

One downfall of the film would have to be how everything seems to go so smoothly. Yes, they are caught in traps. Yes, people die. Yes, Katniss is almost found by the Capitol; but everything still seems to quickly work itself out. I would have liked to see a bit more tension in the film, to have the hardships emphasised a little more. But maybe that’s something only a book  with in-depth descriptions can do. Some things were changed, but overall, everything was executed well, and the acting was A-class.

I do feel like this film had less of an impact than the first Hunger Games film, which I think can be attributed to the fact that one medium-sized book was made into two quite large movies. It’s great that we get extra descriptions, but it has the result of not being as fast-paced and heart-stopping.

Mockingjay: Part 2 has everything we loved about the series’s beginning. Chillingly evil games, ploys, deception, violence and even love. Only this one has a lot more emotionally-damaging events. For instance, remember from the flashback from the first film, where Peeta burns the loaf of bread to feed the starving Katniss, though he was supposed to give it to the pig? Peeta copped a massive beating for that. In Mockingjay: Part 2, Peeta remembers. Only, it’s twisted: psycho-Peeta stabs a knife right into all of our hearts with this winner: “Seems like I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I’d just fed the bread to the pig.”

 

 

Oh, ouch. Right in the feels.

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“Stay with me?” she asks. “Always.”

Also, don’t go into tunnels. Ever. Don’t do it.

But by far, the most important lesson we gain from The Hunger Games series becomes especially poignant in the last few minutes of the film, where we flash forward a few years into the future. I won’t tell you exactly what happens, but it’s hauntingly beautiful.

“Are you having a nightmare?” Katniss asks. “I sometimes have nightmares too.”

It’s true, some nightmares never go away. Some nightmares we never forget. But we can survive them. If Katniss can survive the horrors of the Hunger Games, war, poverty, death and heartache, you can too, reader.  After so much horror and so much pain, I’m so glad to inform you that the film ends on a lighter note. It ended in the perfect way to the perfect series—and even gives us the tools to survive the horrors of our own lives.

“I make a list of everything good. I make a game out of it,” Katniss says.

“It sometimes gets a little tedious. But there are far worse games to be played.”

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May the odds be ever in your favour.

This article was originally posted on Re:Views magazine (by me) and has been republished with full permission.

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The Intern: Break the Expectations

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Starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, this film far exceeded my expectations. It’s inspiring, uplifting, with the perfect amount of heartbreak and humour. It’s been three days since I saw the film, and I’m still reeling from the emotional rollercoaster I was put through.

De Niro plays Ben Whittaker, a retired 70-year-old looking to spice up his monotonous life with something new. That spice just so happens to be a senior’s intern program for an up-and-coming online clothing business, headed by the awe-inspiring Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).

Since Ben is an actual senior (citizen), a lot of the typical intern questions don’t really work out, such as “where do you see yourself in ten years?”, and “what was your major?” followed by “do you remember?” Ben, however, handles himself at all times with pride, respect, patience and concern—just what the doctor ordered for Jules.

Jules, by the way, is a ground-breaking character. She’s a pillar of dedication, strength and determination, as well as kindness and concern for her employees and customers, truly going above and beyond. In the first nine months of creating her business, she met her five-year goal, and went from 25 to over 200 staff members. She also tends to ride a bicycle through her office—complete with a cup holder for coffee: a brilliant idea. And she hates it when people don’t blink. Or when they talk slow. Jules Ostin is truly a quirky inspiration, who isn’t afraid to smash glass ceilings. Go, Anne Hathaway! Girl power!

I hope i’m successful enough to ride a bike through my office some day.

That is, until the misogynistic and sexist investors want to replace Jules as CEO in favour for someone a little more “seasoned”. In order words, an older man. They convince her she’s doing too much, and as a woman, should let a man handle the business world. And at first, she believes them. But then Ben Whittaker saves the day with his old-world charm, and kind, caring demeanour. And he always encourages everyone to do the right thing—even if it’s hard. From Jules’s drunk chauffeur, to co-workers with lady problems, to cheating husbands: Ben can fix it all. His best tips? Breathe deeply. Take some me-time. Talk to people in person, and talk to them honestly, but most importantly: believe in yourself—because no one knows you as well as you.

Robert De Niro makes everything better.

The Intern also tackles some pretty complicated themes, from the invisibility of the elderly who still have music left inside them and a wealth of knowledge, to working mothers.

“It’s 2015, are we really still critical of working mums?” Ben asks. Indeed, we are. Jules, when not being a superstar businesswoman, is also a mum to her young daughter, Paige. Her husband, Matt, quit his job in marketing in order to be a stay-at-home dad. And on the surface, this works. Well, until Matt cheats repeatedly with a woman from Paige’s school. Matt eventually confesses, apologises profusely, saying he lost himself, but now he’s ready to be a real man—as if that was a valid excuse. Is this particular man so emasculated by his badass, bread-winning wife that he has to sleep around in order to validate his manhood? Please. Talk about toxic masculinity. And the worst part about all this: she takes him back. SHE TAKES HIM BACK. It’s not like it was a one-time thing—he was cheating on her for months, knowing it was wrong, and still did it anyway. But oh, throw a few compliments and lovey-dovey words in there, and everything is fine and dandy. Matt, you’re a jerk face.

Did I mention Ben is a criminal? Yeah, they save Jules’s ass by breaking into her mother’s house and deleting a rather inflammatory email. And oh, hey there Bumper from Pitch Perfect!

But even in the face of heart ache, even in the face of intense adversity, Jules does not give up. And that’s definitely something to commend. Ben is the perfect Robin to Jules’s Batman, and while I was still pissed off about that jerk-off Matthew, it was hard to not be inspired by the pair. You go guys, don’t be defined by societal opinions of age and gender. Smash those expectations. I believe in you.

Overall, it was a great movie—it left me wanting more. So I guess the writers did their job. The movie has also earned $107.8 million at the Box Office, so they must be doing something right. It’s witty, it’s funny, it’s heartbreaking and it’s inspiring—and you won’t regret watching it.

Note: this article was originally published by me for Re-Views Magazine.

Senate launches gender inequality inquiry into superannuation

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The Australian Senate approved a motion to launch an inquiry into gender inequality of the superannuation system. The motion, approved on Monday, was backed by Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, Liberal Senator Sean Edwards and Greens Senator Larissa Waters, spurred by recent ANZ study, which revealed that women are, on average, retiring on half as much as men.

The 2015 ANZ Women’s Report indicated numerous alarming figures regarding gender inequality within the workforce. For instance, despite the fact that 42% of women aged 25-29 hold a university degree, compared to 31% of men, women are still paid, on average, 18.8% less. Women who work full-time, therefore, earn on average $295 per week less than their male counterparts—simply due to gender. In a year, this amounts to a $15,000 difference, and in a lifetime, $700,000.

ANZ CEO Joyce Phillips said globally, women earn up to 36% less than their male counterparts; this report merely confirms the financial disadvantage all women face.

“This research also confirms what’s really restricting the financial future of women is the inherent structural bias in the way the workplace, education, social and legal systems are established,” she said.

Industry Super deputy chief executive Robbie Campo welcomes the review.

“Industry super Australia’s modelling shows that even with super, pension payments and other savings combined, 63% of single women will still not be retiring comfortably by 2055 unless we act now to restructure our retirement income system,” she said.

The Greens Senator Larissa Walters attributes the growing homelessness of older women to this inequality.

“It’s timely for the Senate to examine the structural inequalities which are seeing women retire in poverty.”

“We hope the tri-partisan nature of this inquiry will lead to real outcomes to address the alarming gender retirement income gap.”

9 things Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck taught me

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Trainwreck is a hilarious analysis of modern relationships, and breaks down barriers of what it is to be a woman. Also, it’ll tell you how to get a condom unstuck—and other vital tips below.

  • Your sexuality doesn’t define you!

I cannot stress this enough. Ladies, say it with me: your sexuality doesn’t define you! You want to sleep with multiple partners in one night—or no one at all? Awesome! Because honestly? We’re grown-ass women. Do more—and who—of what makes you happy.

  • Know when to say “no”

Whether it be to a super bitchy boss, or a hook up with a strange 16-year-old whose safe word is pineapple: know when to say no. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

  • Beware of sexy talk

Especially if your partner really isn’t into it. Otherwise, you may get some golden responses like “I’m going to put my pecker in you” and “fill you with my protein”.

  • It’s never too late to say sorry

You really do only live once; why hold onto petty arguments? If you love someone, tell them. Bonus points if you say sorry by choreographing a cheerleader dance routine where you’re the star—extra bonus points if you can’t dance.

  • Watch your come backs

No, really. Think before you speak—if you don’t, you might reply to an insult: “you know what I do to assholes? I lick them.” Errr, okay.

  • There is a wrong time for alcohol

I’ll admit: I’m a fan of wine (and vodka). Okay, maybe too much of a fan. Amy Schumer must be my spirit animal.  But there is a point where you have to take a good look at yourself and ask: “Am I really okay?”

  • Receiving head without giving

Well, if you follow in Amy Schumer’s footsteps, close your eyes and pretend you’re asleep.

  • Full-proof writing tips

Like, say . . . don’t show up to work drunk. Also, don’t sleep with your interviewees.

  • And finally . . . how to get a condom unstuck from your cervix

Behind me, I heard: “I’ve had that happen”. Is this seriously a problem? Well, if it happens to you, simply make a hook with your finger—happy hunting.

Love all of who you are—even the sloppy parts. At the time, you were doing exactly what you needed. Bless you, Amy Schumer!

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition–yes, yes and more yes!

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If you are yet to experience the magnificence of the Definitive Edition of Tomb Raider, you’re seriously missing out. Better yet, since it was released in 2013, it is fairly affordable—you can get it from EB games from around $36-47, depending on whether you want a new or pre-owned copy. This game is absolutely fantastic, and you can sleep well knowing your money was spent on possibly the best game that features an awesome female action hero.

The story follows the story of Lara Croft, an ambitious archaeology graduate, through a game of survival and instincts in the fictional lost island of Yamatai, just off the coast of Japan.  Croft, following in the footsteps of her highly-esteemed and late archaeologist father, believes she’s cracked the mystery of Yamatai and their benevolent Sun Queen, Hemiko. However, when wild weather suddenly appears out of nowhere, Lara Croft and her team are shipwrecked and must fight for their lives against the untamed wilderness, and a crazed, sacrificial cult—the Solari Brotherhood— bent on slaying anyone who dare oppose them.

This Lara Croft shows her emotions. We see her cry, freak out, and try to reason with her assailants before she kills them. She shows that being a woman is not a weakness, nor are emotions a weakness.

The quality of the Tomb Raider games have come a long way since their release in 1996—this game is no exception, with fantastic graphics and easy-to-learn gameplay. Furthermore, the characterisation of Lara Croft is very pro-feminism: while she is a gorgeous woman (based on model Megan Farquhar) it is not her looks that at all contribute to her freedom. No, Croft is brilliant because of her mind, her survival instincts and dedication to those she loves even in the face of grave danger. Croft shows compassion, intelligence and that emotions are okay; they can be conquered. I especially liked the fact that, despite her looks, the game does not call any unnecessary attention to her breasts or other female body parts that are typically sexualised. The only thing I can criticise, honestly, is her hair—it’s always perfect, despite the weather or gruesome occurrences. I’m totally jealous my hair isn’t like that. Croft begins this rebooted origin story as a startled, unexperienced woman, before conquering her own fears and becoming a badass warrior, unlocking the strong woman within.

Well, I can’t say i’ve ever played a game where you’re literally thrown into pools of bood. Did someone say “dead bodies everywhere”?

Surprisingly, the game actually features quite a bit of gore—as one would expect with a sacrificial, bloody cult and an ancient merciless Sun Queen. Tomb Raider is by no means a “fluffy” female video game. It’s gory, action-packed and kick-ass! Lara Croft is the ultimate female action figure.

I rate this game a 4 out of 5 stars. My only complaint? I wish it lasted longer!

No Justice for Domestic Terrorism

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Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz graduated last Tuesday, but unlike other students, she walked onto the podium to receive her degree carrying a mattress—the mattress she was raped on.

The incident was alleged to have occurred in her sophomore year in 2012 by one Paul Nungesser. As part of her senior art thesis, Ms Sulkowicz carried that mattress around with her in protest until she graduated, or Nungesser was expelled. Sadly, it was the former which came first.

Ms Sulkowicz’s senior performance project entitled Carry That Weight is powerful, empowering and devastating—a visual metaphor for her pain.

“The past year of my life has really been marked by telling people what happened in that most intimate and private space,” she told Columbia Daily.

“I was raped in my own dorm bed, and since then, that space has become fraught for me. I feel like I’ve carried the weight of what happened since then.”

Ms Sulkowicz filed a complaint against Nungesser in April 2013. Two other women also came forward with similar accusations (though they wished to remain anonymous). Despite this, Nungesser was found “not responsible” in Ms Sulkowicz’s case. Even when a further complaint was launched against the University, as well as with the New York Police Department, nothing changed.  In fact, Nungesser has called her performance as a very public, very painful act of bullying.

Many people have been vocal about their support for Ms Sulkowicz, but many more have inundated the internet with dissent, disgust and disbelief. Various articles attack Ms Sulkowicz, some claiming her ordeal is utterly fabricated. In one instance, even Ms Sulkowicz’s Facebook grammar became a source of ridicule. Meanwhile, Nungesser is often characterised as the victim with strong feminist beliefs—because a feminist couldn’t possibly commit a crime.

Proving a crime is important. But how that crime is reacted to is equally important.

The backlash that one woman standing against rape has received is disgusting. This is why most sexual assault crimes are not reported by both male and female victims.. People who have experienced sexual assault are less likely to come forward over fear of ridicule and backlash. Even if somehow miraculously their case manages to reach the courts, they will have to re-experience the trauma through meticulous cross-examinations and confront their attackers.

Rape and sexual abuse is a major issue in our society. Here are some Australian statistics from the Centre of Abuse and Sexual Assault to put it into perspective for you::

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually abused before the age of 16.
  • Only 1 in 6 reports of rape to the police are actually prosecuted.
  • 1 in 4 children will experience family violence

Furthermore, according to the Australian Government:

  • 57% of women will experience some form of sexual abuse within their lives.
  • 75% of male victims and 87.7% of female victims knew their attacker.

In another study by the Australian Government, young males represented the highest portion of male victims—particularly those aged 0-9, and that males aged between 10-14 have an 86 in 100,000 chance of being abused.

These are our men and our women. Our young girls and young boys. And they’re at risk of such an unspeakable thing. This needs to change. Victim blaming needs to change. Prosecution rates of offenders must increase. Education programs must be further instituted into schools from an early age—the cycle of violence and abuse must stop.

So, what can we do about it?

Solutions to curb sexual abuse and domestic violence can be viewed from the same lens, after all, their core is the same: abuse.

Australian of the Year Rosie Batty calls abuse “family terrorism”; and she’s completely right.

“Let’s put it in its context: this is terrorism in Australia,” Ms Batty said.

“If we look at the money that we spend on terrorism overseas, for the slight risk it poses to our society, it is disproportionate completely.”

“Let’s start talking about family terrorism. Maybe then, with the context and kind of language, we will start to get a real sense of urgency.”

Feminist philosopher Claudia Card’s theory of rape as a terrorist institution melds perfectly with Batty’s ideologies. In Card’s 1991 “Rape as a Terrorist Institution”, she explains that rape is used as a deterrence, just like deterrence from a crime is a punishment. Only in this case, the major task of rape is the subordinance and subservience of men to women—abuse can be viewed in the same way.

“Like other terrorisms, rape has two targets: ‘bad girls’ and ‘good girls’, those who are expendable…and those to whom a message is sent by the way of the treatment of the former,” the article reads.

“As reward, they [good girls] are granted ‘protection”. Though Card explains this “protector” may be even more dangerous than a stranger—statistics of victims knowing their abuser significantly support this idea.

Card’s ideologies are somewhat outdated, and also need to include the perspective of male victims, too—but her ideas are still completely valid. For women, abuse sends a message that she is not welcome; that she must tread carefully in life so as to not anger another and risk abuse. For men, due to the stereotypes that men must be strong, it sends the message that they must be quiet, conform or risk further abuse or ridicule.

Our very own legal system impedes productivity in terms of prosecuting abuse. Our adversarial system of innocent until proven guilty often lacks the ability to gain justice; abuse and rape is incredibly difficult to provide evidence for. For crimes to be prosecuted, they must also include two elements: the mens rea (the guilty mind) and the actus reus (the guilty act); if one party believes they are entitled to abuse another, or genuinely believes their actions genuinely aren’t abuse, it becomes very difficult to prove the crime.

A more proactive response is needed to the issue of family and interpersonal terrorism. Rosie Batty believes positive results can be achieved through the federal budget committing more money to long-term prevention and awareness procedures—particularly more Legal Aid. Crisis centres and hotlines must also be funded. What’s the point of having facilities if no one answers the phone? If there’s no room to house victims? If victims cannot afford a lawyer?

The fact of the matter is that things, as they are, clearly are not working. So what are you going to do to promote positive change?

Speak out Australia.