Arts, Culture & Entertainment News – February 29

Pacific Brands' Bonds Birthday Project was launched in Sydney yesterday in an event attended by Sarah Murdoch, Patrick Rafter and Dame Edna Everage. The campaign, which celebrates 35,301 days of the brand's existence, calls on Aussies to register their photo and their birthday (claim your date and your personalised tee!) at (at the time of writing there are 33,281 dates left to claim).

"Aussies have grown up in Bonds since 1915. From the moment we’re born, we wear Bonds – grannies to grandkids, hipsters to hippies, from the famous to the farmer and everyone in between. We are all Bonds," says the website explains. mUmBRELLA predicts the interactive campaign will be the advertising hit of 2012. The Wall Street Journal's Gillian Tan notes that Pacific Brands may be bought out by a private equity group after the company announced a net loss of $362.4 million in the six months to December 31, 2011. We can't be sure how much Bonds contributed to the bottom line. Ha!
Iranian actor Leila Hatami, star of A Separation
While the U.S. has tightened sanctions on Iran in light of its nuclear weaponry program and Iranian Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani remains imprisoned awaiting possible execution, Hollywood celebrated the win of the Iranian film A Separation at the Oscars on Monday. The film by Asghar Farhadi, which won the Best Foreign Film award, is described as "a humanist tale of a middle-class couple torn apart by their future, and then by fate". It was altered in editing to appease Iranian government officials, reports Michael Body in The Australian.

Last year, Marzieh Vafamehr, star of the Australian/Iranian produced film My Tehran For Sale, was sentenced to 90 lashes for shaving her head and leaving it uncovered in the film though later released under international pressure. "The interesting point with Iranian cinema within world cinema now is the level of reality in Iranian film," says Farhadi. "It's important for the global audience to see that level of reality."

Indeed, beyond a narrative insight into middle-class Iranian life, the film serves as a talking point for the wider issue of human rights within the Islamic republic, though Farhadi pleaded with the Oscars audience to look beyond politics and to the Iranian contribution to culture and "a people who respect all cultures and civilisations and despise hostility and resentment". Farhadi's latest film, About Elly, tells the story of middle-class Iranians whose beachside holiday turns into tragedy as they try to uphold their social customs.  

Of course, the big winner at the Academy Awards was The Artist, which garnered the best picture, actor, director, original score and costume design awards. The charming black-and-white film by Michel Hazanavicius and backed by Harvey Weinstein harks back to the "golden age" of film before the advent of 3D and CGI when a live orchestra would accompany the cinema screening. "[These films] are part of my culture," Hazanavicius told Filmmaker Magazine. "My childhood was full of such movies." With Hugo, a film that also looks at the pioneering days of cinema, winning five technical awards, it seems Hollywood is well and truly taken with yesteryear.

Still in black and white, The New York Times debuts The Lively Morgue on Tumblr today, a "vast treasure trove of imagery" from the paper's archives. While a little morbid in title, the blog draws on the paper's photo store of five to six million prints and contact sheets and 300,000 sacks of negatives — at least 10 million frames in all. The library also includes 13,500 DVDs, each storing about 4.7 gigabytes worth of imagery. "If we posted 10 new archival pictures every weekday on Tumblr, just from our print collection, we wouldn’t have the whole thing online until the year 3935," say the site's editors. "Instead, we’ll be dipping in and publishing several photographs each week, some of which will be available for purchase and some of which will be accompanied by a more extensive back story posted on the Lens blog." 

The Barber of Seville performed by the English National Opera (Opera Today)
In celebration of the leap year, Google Doodle has reminisced on the life of composer Gioachino Rossini, who celebrated just 19 birthdays in his 77 years of living. Rossini was famed for the "opera buffe" (comic musical) The Barber of Seville ("Figaro! Figaro! Fiiiiigaro!"), one of the earliest Italian operas performed in America. The opera is based on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais in which a poor student named Lindoro (the amorous young Count Almaviva in disguise) woos the beautiful Rosina, who is to be wed to Dr. Bartolo, with the help of the suave, roguish Figaro.

The Paris Review celebrates its 200th issue with its Spring 2012 issue which contains an interview with Bret Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho. "American Psycho came out of a place of severe alienation and loneliness and self-loathing," he says. "I was pursuing a life—you could call it the Gentleman’s Quarterly way of living—that I knew was bullshit, and yet I couldn’t seem to help it. American Psycho is a book about becoming the man you feel you have to be, the man who is cool, slick, handsome, effortlessly moving through the world, modeling suits in Esquire, having babes on his arm … On the surface, like Patrick Bateman, I had everything a young man could possibly want to be ‘happy’ and yet I wasn’t." Interesting!

Reporting from the Culture Desk, David Penby reflects on his obsessive watching and analysing of the six-hour original 1979 BBC version of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and its six-hour sequel from 1982, Smiley’s People for The New York Times. He notes that he and his wife, Susan, would "watch one episode each evening after dinner" and then, "Late at night, I would often creep back into the study and watch the episode again, just to be sure I had understood all of it, savored all of its intricacies, noted its omissions and implications." Mr and Mrs Satchel may have once had a similar experience taking in back-to-back episodes of the decidedly less intellectual but nonetheless intoxicating Prison Break.
From left to right: Woodrow Wilson, Kate Vandermeer, Connel Chiang and Micah Gianneli
QV Melbourne is presenting the Lunchtime Style Series Workshops, as part of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program. The free workshops will see industry experts deliver an honest account of their world of fashion to those quick enough to secure a seat. Each workshop will kick off at 1pm and run for 45 minutes so you can eat your lunch, too. Held on Friday March 9 (Woodrow Wilson), Sunday March 11 (Connel Chiang), Friday March 16 (Micah Gianneli) and Friday March 23 (Kate Vandermeer) in QV Square, yhe first 50 people to reserve a seat via QV Melbourne’s facebook page score not only the reserved seat, but a gift bag valued at over $50. Walk ups are welcome on the day.

Girl With a Satchel