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Wednesday, 22nd September 2010
"Kiwi Culture"?
By Kevin Walton

As I was driving home from work yesterday I was listening to Josh and Tom on MoreFM as they discussed an incident that had recently happened to Tom. One of Tom's friends had invited him to a birthday party, but they hadn't invited Tom's girlfriend. Despite this, Tom went along to the party by himself anyway and this proved to be an unpopular decision with his girlfriend who gave him a bit of the old "cold-shoulder" treatment upon his return.
Discussion on this issue was opened to the public and the calls came flooding in telling Tom how wrong he was to go to the party if his girlfriend hadn't been invited. My initial reaction to this issue was a mixed one. On the one hand, a part of me somehow instinctively knew that what Tom had done was wrong and was somehow disrespectful to his girlfriend. On the other hand, a part of me has to ask, "Why???"
Oddly enough, this appeared to be the same problem faced by many of the callers who phoned in to berate Tom for his unseemly behavour; they all told him how wrong he was and how they couldn't believe that he couldn't see what was so wrong with what he'd done and yet, not a single caller could actually give Tom a clear cut, concrete, undisputable reason as to WHY his actions were so wrong.
The expectation seems to be that if you are in a relationship with someone, then if one of you is invited to a party then you should both be invited. When you are in a relationship, one comes with the other.
So the question for me, I suppose, that really comes out of all this is, is this simply an ideology that has become embedded into us as a part of our own Kiwi culture? Or is it not a cultural thing at all but a universal truth that applies to every culture?

This also leads me to wonder, what really is "Kiwi culture"? (By "Kiwi" I mean "New Zealand/European").

The tertiary institute where I work recently hosted its annual "Cultural Week" where students from all of the different cultural groups represented in the school get together and put on demonstrations and performances and give talks showing the uniqueness of their own cultures.
I was asked to give a talk on "New Zealand/Kiwi culture". I found this to be quite a difficult and frustrating task. Sure, I managed to get up and give a good 30 minute Powerpoint presentation packed full of "Kiwiana" stuff, traditionally Kiwi foods such as Pavlova, Marmite, Kiwi Fruit, etc, Bungy Jumping, etc. But I still really feel like I missed the true essence of what "Kiwi culture" really is.
To me, "culture" is the very foundation of who we are as a united group of people. It is our underlying beliefs, traditions, rituals, expectations, hierarchical structures, etc.
All of these things are very clearly evident in the Maori culture, but very few New Zealand/Europeans that I have talked to have been able to give me much by way of clear definitions of "Kiwi culture" in this respect.
The problem is, it's not something that many of us take much time to really think about in our daily lives. We live it every day. We somehow know who we are and what our beliefs and expections are, but we rarely give it any real conscious thought.

So I ask all you New Zealand/Europeans out there, what is "Kiwi culture"? Really think about it. As a New Zealand/European, what are your beliefs, traditions, rituals, expectations, etc? How are we unique from other cultures? Are people like our good friend Tom simply victims of their own unawareness of their own cultural issues? Or is there more to it?

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Thursday, 2nd September 2010
Movie Review: From Paris With Love (2010)
By Kevin Walton
Rating
9 / 10

A personal aide to U.S. Ambassador in France, James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) has an enviable life in Paris and a beautiful French girlfriend, but his real passion is his side job as a low-level operative for the CIA. All James wants is to become a bona fide agent and see some real action. So when he's offered his first senior-level assignment, he can't believe his good luck until he meets his new partner, special agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta) - a trigger-happy, wisecracking, loose cannon who's been sent to Paris to stop a terrorist attack. Wax leads James on a white-knuckle shooting spree through the Parisian underworld that has James praying for his desk job. But when James discovers he's a target of the same crime ring they're trying to bust, he realizes there's no turning back...and that Wax himself might be his only hope for making it through the next forty-eight hours alive.
(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1179034/synopsis)

This has got to be one of the most awesome John Travolta movies that I have ever seen!
It is full of adventure, action, suspense and comedy. Always one step ahead of the bad guys, Charlie Wax is a very cool, calm and collected killing machine who always gets the job done. He makes James Bond look like a pansy.
Almost the complete opposite to Charlie Wax is his temporary partner, James Reece, who is not without his own charm, and together they make an incredible and absolutely hilarious team.

The only problem (I don’t know, maybe it’s just because I have watched way too many movies), is that it was so blindingly obvious to me from the start who the main conspirator would eventually turn out to be. That being said, I found this movie was more about the journey than the destination anyway, so the predictability of the outcome takes very little away from the thrill and excitement that the movie has to offer.

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Thursday, 2nd September 2010
Movie Review: After.Life (2009)
By Kevin Walton
Rating
3 / 10

After a horrific car accident, Anna (Christina Ricci) wakes up to find the local funeral director Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson) preparing her body for her funeral. Confused, terrified, and feeling still very much alive, Anna doesnt believe shes dead, despite the funeral director's reassurances that she is merely in transition to the afterlife. Eliot convinces her he has the ability to communicate with the dead and is the only one who can help her. Trapped inside the funeral home, with nobody to turn to except Eliot, Anna is forced to face her deepest fears and accept her own death. But Anna's grief-stricken boyfriend Paul (Justin Long) still can't shake the nagging suspicion that Eliot isnt what he appears to be. As the funeral nears, Paul gets closer to unlocking the disturbing truth, but it could be too late; Anna may have already begun to cross over to the other side.
(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0838247/synopsis)

The writers for this movie had quite an interesting premise to work from but they failed to do it justice and, in my opinion, the whole storyline fell flat on its’ face.

One of the biggest problems with this movie is that it’s left quite unclear as to what the true nature of Anna’s condition is. Is this a ghost movie or is it a zombie movie? It appears to be a hybrid of both; on the one hand, Anna doesn’t appear to be outside of her own body and therefore can’t see her own corpse lying on the slab as is the case in most ghost movies. She’s walking around and is capable of physical interaction with the world around her. On the other hand, however, her reflection in a mirror is different from her physical appearance which could only happen in the spiritual realm, and her voice can’t carry properly over a phone line.
You’ll spend most of the movie hung up on trying to figure out who’s perception of things we’re seeing and what’s really happening in the real world versus the spiritual realm and whether or not the two are actually separate or not. But then perhaps that was the writers’ intension in order to try to mask the weakness of the storyline.

On the up side, Christina Ricci does look pretty smokin’ hot dressed in nothing but a skimpy red negligee, but then I guess that was the whole point. It seems to me that this movie was nothing more than a good excuse to get Christina stark naked. It is a necrophiliac’s dream movie.

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