Monday at the Movies – A Gasland In My Own Backyard

Gasland is a 2010 American documentary written and directed by Josh Fox. The film focuses on communities in the United States impacted by natural gas drilling and, specifically, a stimulation method known as hydraulic fracturing (or in Australia we call it Fracking).

sourced from imdb.com

This is a documentary that has been on my ‘to see’ list for months. Firstly because it was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary, secondly because friends of mine had seen it and told me it was a ‘must see’ movie, and thirdly because 15 coal seam gas mines have recently been approved for development near my house. So last week when I wandered into my local library and it was sitting on the shelf I took it as a message from the fates that it was time I got off my backside and watched it.

Let me set the record straight from the very beginning – this documentary is terrifying. If even a quarter of what is shown is true then the oil companies in America have some serious explaining to do.

The premise for the film is that Josh Fox (film maker) has just received a lucrative offer from an energy company wanting to lease his families land for natural gas extraction. Unsure of what to do he sets off across America to explore towns where the controversial technique of fracking has already been used. What he discovers will amaze you  – people with brain legions from exposure to unknown chemicals; contaminated water left in open pools to evaporate into the atmosphere; and even families that are able to set alight water flowing from the taps in their very own kitchens! This movie is about the contamination of water supplies by greedy companies only interested in increasing their bottom line.

sourced from treehugger.com

Josh Fox has created an entirely unique documentary. Filled with bitterly sad interviews with people affected by contamination from fracking processess, it overlays beautiful landscapes with more than a little banjo playing thrown in for good measure. The result is that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It is difficult to believe in a bureaucracy that allows companies to make ‘invisible’ pay-outs to avoid facing the music in a court of law. The only good news is that on June 23, 2011The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will examine claims of water pollution related to hydraulic fracturing in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Louisiana

This is is a ‘must see’ movie for anyone interested in… oh you know what… it is a must see movie for EVERYONE full-stop! I give it  my highest honour of 5/5 stars.

Have you seen the documentary? What was your opinion? Do you live in an area where hydraulic fracturing occurs? Have you seen first hand the contamination of natural water supplies? As always I would love to hear your opinion.

Jody Moller

For those of you in Australia there is a great GasLand Australia website here that collates all the most recent news articles and policy decisions regarding Coal Seam Gas Mining.

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Monday at the Movies – An Unexpected Journey

My memory of primary school isn’t great (for those not in Australia, Primary school is grades 3-6, so about ages 8-12). I can remember the day my Yr 3 teacher threw a chair out the window when a student upset her. I can rememeber the day my Yr 5 teacher slapped a student across the face. I can remember fainting in the middle of an assembly in Yr 6 and landing face-first on the ground. That is, mostly I remember the bad stuff! But, thankfully, I also remember a few of the highlights.

Amazingly, or perhaps not so amazingly, pretty much all of my primary school highlights happened in the one year. Yr 4. Perhaps it is also not so suprising to learn that my teacher that year was the best one I ever had. Mr Murray! He was a great teacher for alot of reasons (I won’t go through them all now) but the main reason I remember him as a teacher was that he fostered my love of books. He did something that no other teacher I have ever seen did – he sat the whole class down on the floor, every single day, and read to us (complete with funny voices and all). He probably only read for half an hour a day, but over the course of the year that adds up to alot of books.

It was during these story times that I discovered the amazing realm of the story – not the readers that you had to read for school, but proper stories that had amazing characters and complicated plots. Mr Murray introduced me to what would become some of my favourite authors – Roald Dahl and Judy Blume. But there was one story in particular that ignited my love of the written word. It was a book about a hobbit going on an adventure.

I can still remember hanging out each and everyday at school until ‘Storytime’ finally arrived and we could all sit down and find out whether Bilbo Baggins was ever going to make it all the way to the Lonely Mountain. And it is a testament to the story that I love it just as much at 33 as I did at 9.

So I am sure you can imagine that I could hardly contain my excitement a few months ago when I learned that principle photography had finally started on what will be two of the most anticipated movies of the decade. The Hobbit is being shot as two films. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. The first will be released Dec 2012 and the second Dec 2013 (13/14 Dec in North America; in Australia it will most likely be Boxing Day, following in the footsteps of its predecessors LOTR).

As a fan I am totally chuffed that Peter Jackson is the one in the director’s chair. I have no doubt that Guillermo del Toro would have done a fantastic job, but simply for the sake of continuity between the Hobbit and LOTR, in my humble opinion Peter needed to be the one calling the shots.

But that is enough with the chatter – here are some pics to sink your teeth into…

 
 

Aidan Turner as Kíli, Dean O'Gorman as Fíli (sourced from newsfeed.time.com)

Stephen Hunter as Bombur, James Nesbitt as Bofur, William Kircher as Bifur (sourced from newsfeed.time.com)

John Callen as Óin, Peter Hambleton as Glóin (sourced from newsfeed.time.com)

Jed Brophy as Nori, Adam Brown as Ori, Mark Hadlow as Dori (sourced from newsfeed.time.com)

Ken Stott as Balin, Graham McTavish as Dwalin (sourced from newsfeed.time.com)

For all you real nerds out there I recommend ‘liking’ the Peter Jackson page on Facebook, he is regularly updating it with new photos, and there are already three ‘production videos’ posted on there that you can view. Awesome stuff.

What about you. Do you remember any favourite teachers or favourite books from school? Was there one in particular that sparked your interest? Are you looking forward to the Hobbit films? Are you a fan like me?

Jody Moller

Monday at the Movies – Up and Coming Films

Welcome to another edition of Monday at the Movies. Today I thought I might talk about some up and coming movie projects that I am particularly excited about.

1. Roger Rabbit 2

sourced from imdb.com

As I have mentioned on here before I am a child of the 80’s (before you get your calculators out – no I wasn’t born in the 80’s but it was in the 80’s that I developed my love of film). One of my favourite movies of the 80’s was Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film is a cult classic; a brilliant combination of live action and animation; great characters, including the devilish Judge Doom (portrayed by Christopher Lloyd) and the now infamous Jessica Rabbit;  a clever storyline; and some of the best acme products ever brought to life.

Now the rumours of a sequel to Roger Rabbit have been circling since the original was released in 1988. However, in recent months the buzz is back – big time! Apparently the film is FINALLY being made. Robert Zemeckis (original director) will be directing and at least one of the original writers is currently working on the script. The question on everyone’s lips though is WHAT FORMAT WILL THE FILM BE IN? For a long time there was talk of not only the cartoon portion of the film being animated but also the people via the wonders of CGI animation. Now I am sorry but – WHAT!?!?! The beauty of the first film was the ground breaking interaction between the live action characters and the animated ones. The humans NEED to be live action and Roger NEEDS to be handdrawn.

In my opinion (movie producers are you listening?) unless the plot for the story involves the rise and rise of the CGI animation, with up and coming CGI characters pitted against a collection well loved hand-drawn characters (which would make for an interesting story) keep the CGI stuff out of there.

Will Roger Rabbit 2 stand proudly beside its predecessor? Only time will tell.

2. One Shot

sourced from amazon.com

Yes that’s right the one and only Jack Reacher is going to brought to the big screen. Not familiar with Reacher? Well you need to change that. Reacher is the protagonist from all of Lee Child’s novels (Lee Child is the pen name of Jim Grant) – and he is a great protag. An ex-military police officer now drifter that carries nothing but a toothbrush and the clothes on his back, he is vigilant, stoic and deadly. Great character and great news that he is going to finally be in a film – or so you would think…

So why am I less than enthused about this film? Casting! Reacher is described in the books as 6’5″, 250 pounds, ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair. He is strong, with a muscular physique and very little body fat. But most of all he is tall, really, really tall. So who is the number 1 actor that should NOT be playing Reacher? Well that’s easy, I hear you cry, that would have to be the exceptionally short Tom Cruise. Yes, that’s right he is only 5’7″ almost a full foot shorter than the character and yet somehow they have taken it upon themselves to cast him in this role.

I understand it is important to cast a big name in today’s hollywood to guarantee your movie will be a hit, but really when your dealing with well loved characters (I mean come on the 16th Reacher novel is about to come out) then you need to show a bit of intelligence, I am fairly certain that even standing on the box he uses to look taller next to his wife Tom Cruise can’t pull of 6’5″!

Also my ‘did you  know’ comment for this week is dedicated to my Mum, who after reading last weeks post informed me that I was a nerd of epic proportions; in her exact words ‘where on earth do you store all that useless information?’ Well Mum, this one is for you… Did you know that Reacher’s name came about when Jim Grant’s wife suggested that if the the writing-thing didn’t work out he could always become a ‘reacher’ (apparently what the British call people that stack shelves in the supermarket) – you learn something new everyday!

Looking forward to either of these movies? What do you think of the decision to cast Tom as Reacher? Any other up and coming movies you are looking forward to? Love to hear from you.

Jody Moller

Monday at the Movies – Inside the In-Joke

I love a good inside joke in a movie – you know the ones only the real movie geeks (yeah, geeks like me) get. Whether it is an ongoing theme in a series of movies, inserting lines or dialogue from movies of the same genre, or hilarious cameos – I love them all.

So I had an idea to list 5 of my favourite ‘inside jokes’. The 5 that I have listed below are not neccessarily my absolute favourites, to be honest they are just the first ones that popped into my head. So without further ado: 

  1. sourced from imdb.com

    Back to the Future: Seen it? Well I am sure you have. Back to the Future is full of clever tidbits. One of the best is when Marty McFly goes back in time. The movie theater in 1955 in playing two movies, “A Boy’s Life” which was the original title of E.T. and “Watch the Skies” which was the original title of Close Encounters Of the Third Kind. Also when Marty hitches a ride on the back of a pick-up while riding his skateboard to school the driver is producer Stephen Speilberg. [btw as a side note did you know that virtually the entire movie was filmed with Eric Stoltz playing the part of Marty McFly? They decided it wasn’t working and put Michael J Fox (who had been their original first choice) in the role. His parts had to be filmed entirely at night as he was filming Family Ties during the day – I know what a font of useless information I am]

  2. sourced from imdb.com

    Scream: Classic film (which I know I have mentioned before – you might guess that it is one of my favourites). During a scene in the school the janitor says to Principal Himbrey “Talking to me?” the principal replies with “Not you Fred.” The janitor is played by none other than the immortal Wes Craven (director of Nightmare on Elm Street and of course Scream) and he is wearing the famous red and green stripped shirt worn by Freddy Krueger (the shirt is also visible in Scream 2 in Sidney’s wardrobe). There is also a classic reference to the fictional director ‘Wes Carpenter’ which is an amalgamation of Wes Craven and John Carpenter (director of Halloween).

  3. sourced from imdb.com

    Enchanted: I think the reviewers gave this movie a rough time when it was released. This movie is gold – but perhaps only for people who love Disney films. The film is a parody of every Disney movie ever made. This movie is so full of jokes and movie trivia that I could dedicate an entire post to it – but I will just mention a few. Of course there are the obvious references to Cinderella’s slipper and the apple from Snow White, but it is the obscure references, that only movie nerds like me even notice, that I love the most. My favourite part of this movie (apart from the hilarious prince played by James Marsden) are the cameos. Patrick Dempsey’s secretary in the film is played by the fabulous Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in The Little Mermaid (and Barbie in Toy Story 2 & 3). There is a scene in the movie where Timothy Spall is watching a soapie on television. In the soap the part of Angela is played by Paige O’Hara, who voiced Belle in Beauty and the Beast (the other characters names are Jerry and Odgen, the three of them named for Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach and David Odgen Stiers who voiced the Teapot, Candelbra and Clock respectively). Also when the prince is looking for Giselle in the apartment block one of the doors is answered by Judy Kuhn, who is the singing voice of Pocohontas.

  4. sourced from imdb.com

    Cars: All pixar movies have numerous references to other pixar films (and Disney do this aswell and I am sure I will go through many of these in later posts). Some of my fav’s from Cars include the use of Dinoco (as The Kings sponsor) which was the name of the petrol station in Toy Story. The tyres used by the cars are Lightyear’s (after Buzz). The number of Lightning McQueen is 95 after the year Toy Story was released. Both Mater’s number plate and the train that almost runs over McQueen contain the number A113, which is a room number for the animation room at California Institute of the Arts (this reference is in all pixar films). I could go on and on…

  5. Jack and the Beanstalk: This is actually the movie that made me think of writing this post in the first place and probably contains my favourite references of all time (this is the 2010 version of the story and to be honest the film was pretty ordinary but it is worth it just for this line). Wallace Shawn (who by the way plays two of my fav characters of all time Rex from Toy Story and Vizzini from The Princess Bride) plays the owner of the pawn shop and the man who gives Jack the Beans. At one point Shawn offers to trade Iocaine powder, the same fictional powder that kills his character in The Princess Bride. I love it!

I love in-jokes so much I have actually inserted some into my own novels. In each of my books there is a description of my kids at the age they were when I first drafted the scene. And there is at least on character in each novel that is named after someone that I know.

Do you have a favourite in joke or cameo? Are there any other in jokes you particularly like from the movies mentioned above. Do you have any in-jokes in your novels? As always would love to hear from you.

Jody Moller

Don’t Panic It’s Still Me

Welcome to my freshly updated blog. So tell me do you like the new look?

Not only does my blog have a brand new look it also has a brand new name and a brand new layout. Shall I explain further? Well here goes.

I have been tossing around the idea of expanding my blog as per ‘blogging-queen’ Kristen Lamb’s instructions (see here for more info). My blog is supposed to be about selling the ‘Jody Moller Brand’.

So step one – make sure my name is in the blog title – DONE
Step two – don’t just blog about writing! Okay, I need to expand my horizons.

So, according to my new layout (starting Monday) I will post three times a week, under the following categories.

Movie Monday

In addition to my love of books I also love (and I do mean LOVE!) movies. Back before kids I went to the cinema every week, without fail! On Movie Monday I will be discussing everything from my favourite movies, to movie reviews, to the best ever movie quotes, to hollywood gossip.

Writing Wednesday

Before you say anything – yes I realise that aliteration doesn’t work when the W is silent! I have loved building friendships with fellow writers through my blog and I still want to keep a focus on all things writing, continue to post flash fiction pieces and discuss my favourite books. This will all be done on Writing Wednesday!

Free-For-All Friday

As a stay-at-home mother of two preschool children, an aspiring writer and DIY home renovator I have my fair share of mayhem. These topics and many more will be the focus for Free-For-All Friday!

I hope you enjoy the new layout.

As always don’t forget to leave me comments with your thoughts.

Jody Moller
(The Exasperated Novelist)