Friday, 21 December 2012

How many more...

The Executive Vice President of America's National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, held a press conference today, if you could call it that, considering that he gave a prepared speech and refused to take any questions. Mr LaPierre's speech was the first official response to last week's school-shooting tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut from the powerful firearms lobbying group.

He argues that the media should be blamed for this, with their violent films, television and video games. This may be true. However, there was no doubt that this speech was a disingenuous attempt to point the finger elsewhere. It blows my mind to think that there are actually people out there who agrees with Mr LaPierre when he says that this would not have happened had Sandy Hook Elementary School had armed guards and thus, the answer to our problems is more guns, not less. Really? So, the fact that there were armed guards at Columbine is moot? What about the fact that the person that Adam Lanza killed first, his own mother, had a fairly big gun collection? That didn't save her life.

There is no doubt that mental illness played a part in all of this. People with that kind of capacity suffer from a type of emotional detachment that allows them to commit such heinous crimes. What guns allow is the facilitation and manifestation of these people's violent fantasies. Sure, even without guns, people who want to hurt and kill will come up with other ways to hurt and kill but we should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry out their plans with easy access to firearms. People need to make a change in the world. What would you rather be - to feel more secured through the possession of guns or to feel safer knowing that nobody owns one?

Monday, 10 December 2012

'Amour' is the word...

Today, I took my last exam for the year and it was a nice feeling to be able to breathe again. Whether or not I have passed these two exams that I took this month is for me to worry about another day. The results will come out in February so for now, I will just enjoy the lightness of being that I feel. I decided to celebrate by taking myself to the cinema. What better way to relax and to indulge than seeing a really wonderful movie that will help me to gain some perspective and remove me for my mundane anxieties.

I had been wanting to see Austrian auteur Michael Haneke's 'Amour' for a while now, ever since it won the Palme d'Or at Cannes back in May. The movie awards season has begun and already, the movie has been stacking up on awards. Emmanuelle Riva, the lead actress, has been singled out for her sublime portrait of the distaff half of an elderly couple living in Paris. We initially see her still vital and enjoying her comfortable life with her loving husband but as the movie progress, we witness her character succumb to old age and the emotional toils of this on her devoted and devastated husband. However, the movie is not simply about the inevitable physical decline that we all face should we be lucky enough to reach a certain age but rather, the movie lives up to its title in the way that we see two elderly people who have been in love for a very long time and continue to be in love with each other right up til the end.

Needless to say, the movie moved to tears on more than one occasion. I knew that I would be affected by this film and I think that that might have been why I was so drawn to this movie. I wanted to be overwhelmed and I wanted release; an experience that would remove me from my immediate circumstances.

There is a lot of Oscar buzz for Madame Riva. She has already won best actress awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Boston Society of Film Critic and the European Film Awards. If she gets nominated for an Academy Award next month, she will become the oldest acting nominee ever, at the age of 85. This is all very exciting, especially considering her long, glorious career. After all, she was the leading lady of the 1959 French New Wave classic 'Hiroshima, Mon Amour'. For her to be nominated in over five decades after starring in that cinematic landmark would be a real testament to the view that talent cannot be withered by age. Similarly, the movie's male lead is Jean-Louis Trintignant, the star of such classics as 'And God Created Woman' and 'A Man and A Woman', gives a phenomenal performance that is equally worthy of award recognition. Emotionally rich and intelligent drama does not get much better than this - c'est magnifique!