The Sound Of My Voice (2012)

Directed by Zal Batmanglij
Starring Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicius and Brit Marling

The Sound Of My VoiceIt’s hard to talk about this little flick from Zal Batmanglij (don’t worry if you’ve never heard of him, he has only made one other indie film besides this) without giving away too much. A young couple are trying to make a documentary about an underground cult in Los Angeles, led by a woman named Maggie who claims to be from the future. To say more would ruin the experience of watching it.

Brit Marling is a wonderful standout as Maggie, the beautiful and beguiling cult leader. She is charming, mysterious and has an infectious personality about her, able to hold the attention of the room effortlessly, but also intense as she both lifts her followers up and breaks them down. I’m surprised she hasn’t had a more visible career. This film is one of only a few film credits (the other being The East, also directed by Batmanglij, and an episode of Community).

The Sound Of My Voice is slow but intriguing right from the first minute. Who is this woman? What are her goals? Is she for real or just a con woman preying on desperate people looking for answers? These questions will keep you guessing and engaged, as do other seemingly unconnected events shown throughout the film.

Unfortunately, a lot of these questions won’t be answered, and you will come away feeling somewhat unsatisfied. The film feels incomplete. As though either through lack of time, budget, inexperience on the part of the director or some other reason, it has more to say. Many threads are left hanging. Whether that was intentional by the filmmaker to force you to examine the film more thoroughly and make your own conclusion, I cannot say.

So don’t expect definitive answers. The ending, which is actually quite jarring when it comes, is left almost entirely open to your own interpretation. It’s a film that bares examination and rumination to arrive at any kind of conclusion, if any at all. Is it worth your time? I think in this case the journey is worth more than the destination.

Incidentally, if you like films about cults that keep you guessing as to their nature check out Believers, directed by Daniel Myrick (of The Blair Witch Project fame).


Site Refocus

Seabird WA Panorama

Seabird WA Panorama

I’ve sorely neglected this blog for ages now, but I’ve decided to refocus the theme of it anyway.

I’ve had a sudden… I don’t want to say epiphany, let’s say realization, recently that I need to start going traveling. I’ve spent most of my life living week to week and focusing on buying possessions that I have neglected to get out and see the world. I think I’ve missed out on a big part of my development and it’s time to fix that.

I’m planning a trip to New Zealand next year as well as some smaller more local trips. I’m also getting back into going hiking more often so I’ll be posting some stuff about that, with some pictures.

So while this blog won’t be ALL about travel, I will be writing a lot about my plans and later on my experiences. I also want to get back to writing in general; movies, TV, geek stuff and whatever.

License to Watch – Dr No (1962)

Dr No PosterI was one of the primary instigators of the whole License to Watch project, having not really seen any of the older Bond movies. Really, I’ve only seen in full the films from Timothy Dalton onwards. I admit to have no small amount of trepidation going into Dr No, but I was pleasantly surprised. I expected this to be a much more dry, noir cold war type spy film, with none of the goofy Bond trappings that I expect from the later films.

Sean Connery does indeed make an excellent Bond, really encapsulating those qualities when you think of the character, suave, charming, rough around the edges. A rogue. Cool, calm and collected. You can see how his early portrayal here really informed the character going forward.

The 60s setting is great, having that really stylized look and feel that you can only recognize with 50 years of hindsight. The fashion, the hair, everything really sets this apart from the other films I’ve seen and I found it really colorful, something I wasn’t expecting.

I was involved with the story too. I figured there would be some espionage plot twists but I was really engaged, moving forward with the story waiting to see where it was going next, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it end up with a secret underground island lair, henchmen, escapes through air ducts (that inexplicably contain electrified grates (but only some), rushing water AND heated panels) and atomic power used for nefarious purposes by an evil doctor, in a poorly thought out plan for… something. I never imagined that was all there from the very first film. I figured it only emerged with the later, sillier Roger Moore films.

Ursula Andres - Yowsa!And of course you can’t go past the first Bond girl of them all, Honey Ryder played by Ursula Andress. In that bikini, wow. If I’d seen this as a kid, she definitely would have been my first celebrity crush.

I really really enjoyed this flick. I have read this is one of the better early Bond films, but if the next few are even halfway as enjoyable as this, I figure I’m in for a great time.

Books (#52Blogs)

This is all very stream of conscious stuff, so please don’t judge me too harshly. 🙂

Right from when I could read I always had a book in my hand or my bag. I used to love going to bed at night, not just because I love my bed and everything it stands for, but it meant that I could read to my hearts content.

Mum tried for a while to get me to go to sleep at lights out, but she gave up eventually and figured at least I was doing something productive. It still didn’t stop me reading under the covers with a torch just for the hell of it.

Like most kids I used to order heaps of books from the school book club and I practically lived in the library. Soon though the goods on offer weren’t enough and I started to get Mum to order me more mature books from the mail order catalogs. That’s where Mum and I realized we had a shared interest in books about serial killers and true crime. I was reading books by Robert Ressler and John Douglas when I was 10.

This isn’t to say that I’m special or anything. I’m not really that bright, and I’m certainly no academic. But if I have an interest in a subject, I will read voraciously everything I can find. The invention of the Internet and Wikipedia has been a godsend for me.

Sadly as I’ve grown older, my reading habits have gotten rather stale. It’s not very often these days I sit down and just read. I guess i just got caught up reading text books for school and other things for work, that reading something just for the sheer hell of it fell by the wayside.

Last year I was heavily invested in the Hunger Games trilogy, and it was a real joy to be reading a book at two in the morning and STILL not want to put it down. I’m trying to get back into that habit, even if its just 10 minutes at the end of the day in bed. Typically though, I usually use that time to catch up on Twitter or Facebook. I really have to be more disciplined and put down the iDevices.

I guess my early love of books is also the genesis for my love of bookbinding. I was captivated by the game Myst when it came out, because even though it was on a computer and graphical, it was all about how magical books were. How they could (literally) transport you to new and fantastic places and adventures. When the expanded D’ni universe developed, I gravitated towards the Guild of Bookmakers.

Bookbinding is quite an involved process (to do it right) involving quite a few specialized tools, not to mention the scarcity of said tools and materials these days, which is the main reason why I’ve never actually gotten around to attempting it myself. I figure one day I will get my act together and try it for real.

After that, EVERYONE is getting journals and photo albums for Christmas, Birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, Christenings and Funerals.

Special (#52Blogs)

This week has been pretty special for me. Not because I had a birthday or some meaningful anniversary. It was special because I have friends who I love, and who wanted to hang out with me.

For someone whose brain is usually screaming at them that everyone hates them and that they should just crawl into a hole and disappear, yeah that’s a pretty special feeling.

Bedtime (#52Blogs)

Stupid busy weekends! I’ve putting this one off all week but I did a quick one. It’s a bit late but at least it’s here. Enjoy.

I’ve always loved my bed. Not just for sleeping, it’s a place for dreaming.

As a child I loved the world under my blankets. I would turn on my torch and tuck my head down to read a book after lights out. More than once mum has checked on me and found me deep in some novel at 2am.

Beyond that though, I’ve always loved to the opportunities to day dream in bed. It’s also one of the reasons I love winter so much! Snuggled up with just my ninja eyes showing, imagining I was a captain of a ship out on the ocean, or maybe fighting aliens on some far away planet. Flying over the earth or even under the sea exploring its strange and wonderful depths. Maybe I’m Batman, or what about a robot? What would my insides look like? Anything is possible!

I love getting into a freezing cold bed. None of that electric blanket nonsense for me. No sir! I like to get in, snuggle down and feel the bed warm up from my own body heat. Tucking myself into a ball like a tiny sun.

There is just one thing however. One rule you must always follow; never, and I mean EVER, let your arms or legs stray over the edge of the bed. You DO want to wake up the next morning right?

Licence To Watch (#LicenceToWatch)

It. Is. Coming!

Next week I start watching all the James Bond films starting with the first, “Dr No”. I haven’t seen most of them, especially the early ones. Should fun. I’ll be posting my short form reviews here.

Rescue (#52Blogs)

Some people know this about me, but a lot don’t. From the age of 20 to about 31 I was a pretty hard core Buddhist. I studied and practiced the Tibetan Mahayana style, and even lived in a buddhist community centre in the hills for about 2 years.

At our teaching sessions, our teacher Les would often tell us parables about Lamas and the things they could achieve when they became highly realised; flying through the air, being able to walk under the earth, survive for many years without food etc. These came from his own teacher, an old Tibetan monk who was very learned, special and realised himself.

Along with these, he would present examples from what I guess you would call the ‘real’ world, things that us sceptical westerners can accept as true more than the esoteric stories from the east. One of these came up on a night we were talking about selflessness, i.e. putting other sentient beings above yourself in all matters, and working for their happiness (a theme very strong in the Mahayana system of Bodhisattvas, delaying your own enlightenment until every other being has achieved theirs first).

This story concerned a monk who was walking along a path one day in India and came across a dog who had fallen (or been thrown) into an open sewerage pit and couldn’t get out. The monk, on seeing this immediately threw off his robes and jumped into this pit of stinking, festering shit, grabbed the dog and managed to get it to safety.

Is it a true story? Who knows. No real way to prove it. Could it have happened? Absolutely. It doesn’t really matter if it did or not, it’s an illustration of how we SHOULD act within the world and towards other beings.

It’s a story that has always stuck with me, and I often wonder if I would be that brave (selfless) to do the same thing in that situation or similar. I’d like to think so.

Do I Enjoy Summer?

This one is an oldie but a goodie, from about 3 years ago. Still seems relevant somehow…


Voices (#52Blogs)


I wanted to do something different this week so I figured I’d do a crappy picture instead. Enjoy!Voices_Pic