Felices 140 (Happy 140): Film Review

Part of the Spanish Film Festival, Felices 140 (Happy 140) stars Mirabel Verdu as Elia, a woman throwing herself an elaborate 40th birthday party in a remote villa. She invites her sister’s family and her lifelong friends as well as an old lover, who shows up in a helicopter with a self-centred and vain girlfriend half his age. This consistently amusing film takes a twisted turn, after Elia reveals she’s won €140 million.

Envy and resentment bubbling below the surface rises quickly as a moral crisis threatens Elia’s happiness. Interestingly, Elia’s grand romantic gesture to sweep her old flame off his feet is an unfamiliar twist on usual romantic comedy fodder. Continue reading Felices 140 (Happy 140): Film Review

Ma Ma: Film Review

Penelope Cruz is absolutely wonderful in Ma Ma, the biggest feature at the Spanish Film Festival in Canberra. Cruz plays Magda, a single mother who decides to leave her cheating husband, a professor of Philosophy who is sleeping with his students (!). This decision coincides with her learning that she has breast cancer.

On the same day of her marital independence, she meets and forms a friendship with Arturo (Luis Tosar), an ailing husband who, also on this fateful day, learns his wife and child have been in an accident.

This film begins by exploring grief and human connection through loss, but soon proves itself a film about life and how to be happy in brief, imperfect moments. The film is a beautiful celebration of motherhood; the film ends with a dedication: “to all the women.”

There is more to like about this movie: it’s depiction of friendship especially as well as its wrestling with faith and atheism. It is a lovely statement on the diversity of families and ultimately has an affirming message about gay fatherhood. While there are many cliches along the way about living life to the fullest, there is great joy in seeing a woman-centred story where the journey is driven by her own desires.

Score: Distinction (7.5/10). Continue reading Ma Ma: Film Review

Windows of the World

The Korean Embassy opened its for doors to the public for Windows of the World, a celebration of our embassies and Australian diplomatic relations. So much amazing food it was hard to choose, but I went with Bulgogi. It is delicious, especially to the background K-pop music is equally awesome. Continue reading Windows of the World

Visual Sociology of Winter in Canberra

Let’s enjoy our final round of visual sociology in Canberra, for July-August 2016. From here, we’ll kickstart our next visual adventures in Sydney, where I’m moving for a new career journey.

We begin the end of this chapter in July doing, what else, but exercising our democratic duty to vote in the state election.

An election

During the federal election, on 2 July 2016, when the nation was still optimistic for change.

Continue reading Visual Sociology of Winter in Canberra

Best All Day Breakfast in Canberra

As part of my visual sociology of Canberra, where I photographed art exhibitions, cultural events and representations of science, I set out to find Canberra’s best all day breakfast. Breakfast is my favourite meal at any time of the day.

My traversals were long and taxing; breakfast was the best way to keep me going in the middle of the day.

My favourite all day breakfast ended up being Dobinsons Bakery. The atmosphere is always lively and there’s guaranteed to be an eclectic mix of people for a sociologist to observe. The tables are big, helping me write some of my favourite sociology blog posts here.

Their Big Breakfast is best value for money in town and consistently delicious. For $19 you get all this, with the Spanish-style beans a highlight. Pictured here are the scrambled eggs, but their poached eggs are the best. Not pictured is the orange juice already consumed with relish; and bacon, which I omit from my order. No single human can eat this but it’s a darn fine meal regardless.

It was at Dobinson’s where I did a lot of people watching and contemplation of my sociological journey.

Thank you Canberra; you were lovely.

Sociologist on the Line

During the federal election, in July 2016, when the nation was still optimistic for change.

Sausage sizzle, cakes & second hand books at my local polling booth, Canberra, July 2016.

Australian voting tradition means we eat sausages after participating in democracy.


Airport and Sociology of Class

A delayed flight means sociologists get to do more people watching. Airports are a clear example of class not simply in terms of which groups board first but also the way in which people dress for the flight, the appearance of their baggage and other social clues.

This is Canberra airport.


Sociology of the National Arboretum

Playground at the National Arboretum Canberra

One of the themes of my visual sociology is the representation of science. Conservation is as much about social practices as it is about earth science, biology and other natural sciences. Today’s post is about the sociology of the National Arboretum, which sits on Ngunawal country. Ngunawal people are the traditional custodians of this part of Acton, west of the city in Canberra. Less than a seven minute drive central business district, this is one of the world’s largest arboretums for rare and endangered trees. I am no arborist. I cannot even claim to be a fan of gardening. I was interested in the Arboretum first in an attempt to capture a visual sociology of Canberra, and second to see how people interact with this place as a science centre. The focus of my post today is on the social dynamics of the Arboretum, especially on community aspects of conservation and the trees that drew the greatest interest amongst the crowds I saw: the Bonsai and Penjing Collection .
National Arboretum (18)

Continue reading Sociology of the National Arboretum

Wendy Saddington: Underground Icon

This exhibition at the Canberra Museum and Gallery contains memorabilia collected by Canberra artist Peter Maloney of the Australian singer heralded as “The Face of 68” at the age of 18. She performed with many influential art rock groups in the 1970s. She eventually travelled to New York where she went on to join the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and adopted the name Gandharvika Devi Dasi and continued to perform under her Anglo name but shunned the music press. Continue reading Wendy Saddington: Underground Icon

Driving, Watching, Chocolate

My visual sociology for April, from the Nation’s Capital to Victoria.

The National Portrait Prize 2016 is excellent. Also wonderful is that the “Behind the scenes” video has a sign interpreter on screen. The exigible has an interesting selection of Australian figures that cross class, race, gender and sexuality. 10 April

Continue reading Driving, Watching, Chocolate