Mild Concern on The Stream (Oh, and John Pilger too…)

Hi Mum I'm on the telly

A question that has long been asked of me; “when are you going to go on Al Jazeera and annoy an Australian film director?” Well my friends the time has come! Last night I briefly appeared on Al Jazeera show The Stream to put a question to Utopia director John Pilger. The full show is embedded below and you can either watch the whole thing to hear Pilger’s thoughts on Australia’s treatments of its indigenous people or skip to around 20 minutes in to see me broadcasting live from my bedroom.

Please note that I say words and do not fall off my chair at any point. For a sneaky peek behind the scenes I offer you a screenshot of what I could see on my laptop.

Al Jazeera - The Stream Screencap

Please note the fact that I have John Pilger’s Wikipedia page open. Like a pro.

Utopia – Film Review


Reviewing documentaries about serious topics is no easy task. How do you remove yourself from an affecting topic and objectively review the feature for its film-making merits? I think the honest answer is that I can’t and that instead I should take my inability to separate the message from the craft of documentary film-making as an indication that the film was a success.

John Pilger’s latest documentary is named after a large region in northern Australia that is home to the oldest human presence on Earth. Over the course of almost two hours Pilger looks at the way the indigenous people of one of the world’s richest countries are treated like second class citizens and have been exploited, abused, and ignored. Utopia is a moving film filled with brutal images of poverty and neglect in the lives of the original inhabitants of Australia and the ignorance of those who have now come to occupy it.

Pilger does not approach the topic calmly and his opinions, filled with outrage and disgust, come pouring out in the film; he is not afraid to point the finger of blame when he sees fit. Such passion from a documentarian helps to drive a film but can sometimes create a sense of bias and subjectivity. When Pilger interviews those who do not agree with his view it soon becomes less of an interview and more of a one-way barrage of shouting on behalf of Pilger. Personally I would have liked to hear what everyone has to say on the topic not just those who agree with the message of the film.

Utopia is definitely a tricky film to review, hence why this review is so late and so brief. I am not going to ever be able to say that I enjoy this type of film but that’s not really the point. This is a film about investigative journalism in which Pilger reveals a deep-seated level of prejudice in a country that goes right up to government policy. This is another important documentaries that is worth seeking out to educate rather than to entertain.

A powerful watch about a subject I knew nothing about Utopia is a personal film from Jon Pilger that has a lot to say.

Utopia is currently on limited release and will be available on DVD from 2nd December 2013

Out Now – 14th November 2013

Writer/Director Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars with Scarlett Johansson  in Relativity Media's "Don Jon".  ©2013 Relativity Media, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

The Counsellor
Ridley Scott returns from the messy Prometheus to direct Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay with a cast including Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, and Brad Pitt. What could possibly go wrong? According to the reviews pretty much everything. Oops.

Don Jon
A grown up comedy about love, sex, relationships, porn, and romantic comedies. Joseph Gordon-Levitt performs the classic acting/writing/directing hat trick for the first time and the result is what I have referred to as “a bold and commanding debut with a lot to say”. Go see if you aren’t too easily shocked.

The Butler
Forest Whitaker plays a butler who serves eight US presidents all played by different proper actor types. We see the change of American society over decades both within the White House and in the butler’s own life. It all sounds a little worthy but screenwriter Danny Strong has proved himself as a great political writer with Game Change and Recount and is apparently WRITING THE LAST TWO HUNGER GAMES FILMS!?!? Sorry, got off topic there.

In Fear
“Driving, lost and tormented in the night, primal fears of the dark and the unknown give way to fear that you have let the evil in, or that it is already there.” I hear, probably from King Kermode, that this is a properly scary film and such a thing is rare these days. Shall we go? Ok, cool. You get the tickets, I just need to pop to the loo.

Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela
This Bollywood feature is currently listed as being in post-production on the old IMDb so don’t be alarmed if the editor is sitting next to you on his laptop desperately trying to get the thing finished before you reach the final scenes.

Dom Hemingway
Seemingly out of nowhere comes a crime caper starring Jude Law and Richard E. Grant. Somehow this pairing just feel right as if their matching hair lines makes them destined to work together. Reviews are what we like to call “mixed” but who cares what critics think?

Battle of the Year
Despite having a title that suggests at least one explosion what we actually have here is yet another 3D dance film. Bet there isn’t even a tank.

Pandora’s Promise
“A feature-length documentary about the history and future of nuclear power.” No idea what this has to do with Pandora. She’s had nothing but bad press ever since that whole box incident.

New documentary from John Pilger focussing on Australia. Confession time folks… I was give a link to watch this but somehow became so busy this past week that I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. Review coming ASAP. Promise!