Friday, July 03, 2009

Begging more or more begging

I was sitting in Centre Place having lunch with my good friend Matthew and was approached by another beggar. I detect my mind making judgements:
Scrawny, aboriginal woman, maybe 40 or so. Substance abuser, homeless, maybe some mental illness, maybe associated with the substance abuse.
Now, I posted about on this topic recently, which roused a little response. I discussed the thinking behind my usual responses to beggars. Some suggested theirs and I was also criticised for my "naive, middle class and condescending" attitude. Now, I thought the latter comment was quite disingenuous, but nonethess I gave it some thought. I reckon I give a shit a lot more than the average naive, middle-class, condescending person and I do - despite my faults and limitations - give a shit. Did I mention that I give a shit?

So, Matthew had declined the offer to help out this person, and I make no judgements of him one way or the other. Begging is an uncomfortable situation to find oneself in. On the one hand we don't want to be part of someone's problem (and money to purchase substances that may be abused aren't really helping anyone). On the other, we have some degree of compassion and it pains us to see others suffering. What to do?

Once again, I engaged this person. Leanne is her name. I asked her what she wants money for and she said for food. With whatever sincerity I could convey, I said that many people feel uncomfortable giving money, but that I'd be happy to pay for a meal. I suggested she order a meal and tell the cafe person I'd pay for it (they know me). Well, this is the first time someone's taken me up on the offer. Leanne looked all excited and appreciative. I must say that my way of dealing with Leanne was a slightly modified version, which I developed as a result of the discussion from my last post. Leanne actually said she'd really just appreciate a coffee.

A couple of guys were sitting adjacent to Matthew and I (FWIW, we were at the front of "5", a tiny little cafe). They complimented me on my attitude and one of them ended up pulling out the coins for the coffee.

Coincidentally, I was at the Nova cinema in Lygon St. Carlton that night seeing the preview screening of Winged Creatures with a Q&A with Rowan Woods. As I was leaving the cinema, who should approach me but out Leanne asking for some money. I said "Hi, Leanne" and she was surprised. "How did you know my name?" she asked. Now, I was wearing a suit and tie earlier in the day and at this time I was in my motorcycle gear. "I gave you some money for a coffee in Centre Place at lunch-time", I said and a light of recognition flashed across her face. Some other people walked by, she left me and approached them, and I left to go home. Make of that what you will.


Anonymous said...

Nice story, but I'm more interested in your thoughts on Winged Creatures. [i]Masterpiece[/i], no?


Paul Martin said...

Derek, it's no masterpiece. The Boys is Woods' masterpiece and I said as much to him after the Q&A. He acknowledges it has some faults and it makes compromises in order to find a particular audience. It starts off well, but its energy becomes diffuse as the film progresses, a problem with the multi-story/ensemble genre. I liked it and it's worth seeing in the context of Woods' work. I prefer it to Little Fish.

poignantPoint said...

It was disappointing, yeah. Was somewhat interested to stay for the q&a, but I guess I already knew his answers to the problems I had with the film.

Paul Martin said...

Ryan, I think it's easy to dismiss the film in the light of say, The Boys, but not too many directors anywhere in the world can make a living making films like that, what to speak of in Australia. For me, The Boys defines what Woods is capable of, but the films he's made since are pragmatic choices about returning a profit to investors. Those films need to be analysed in the context of what they're aiming at and who they're aiming at. From that perspective, Winged Creatures is a good film, but I'm not part of its target audience.

poignantPoint said...

Yeah Paul, i've been becoming very aware of the way things work in the film industry. I actually was discussing all of your points with my girlfriend on the way out of the theatre. I've heard directors say this before, hence why I wasn't that keen on the q&a. A director up in Dungog said something similar just before i went in to the screening of his film 'Bad Bush'. He said he did it mainly out of neccessity. I dunno, like you said, maybe to ensure a future of film-making: getting runs on the board so to speak i guess? I don't want to be one of those wanker, dismissive viewers, but it was a very underwhelming movie to say the least. But i think he knew it.

Ray Lawrence also echoed similar problems with making films during his masterclass talks. He took many years from making 'Bliss' to making 'Lantana'. Asked why, he said he tried to get funding for several projects but just couldn't raise the money. Instead he earned a living making commercials (including the go-go mobile ad), and basically "grew up" or matured. After Lantana he still had trouble raising funding for 'Jindabyne', even with the American leads. But.. i dunno, he raised funds and got it made. I think the result is much more inspiring than Woods' story. I don't know though, it's hard to analyse these sorts of things, cause there's so many elements than simply personal taste, you know?

It's a tough one.. to take a risk, or compromise a bit? In the end, noone can ever predict if a film will make money or not, regardless of it's commercial or underground direction. One thing i always wonder when i come out of a film feeling uninspired is.. why spend so much of your time doing something you're not proud of?

Anyway... after seeing 'Winged Creatures', i agreed to go see Bruno with my girlfriend. It's been so long since i've seen a Hoyts film on a saturday night. Why not, hey!

Paul Martin said...

Bruno? I think Cohen is good value. I laughed my arse off with Borat.