Feature Blogs

Proud To Be From Brisbane & My Golden Globes Wrap

Created on Monday, 17 January 2011 16:21
Written by Matthew Toomey


Brisbane Floods


A lot can happen in a week.  That has certainly been evident here in the city of Brisbane.


Last Monday, I went to work, came home and wrote my regular Film Pie blog.  Everything since that time has been anything but ordinary.


Like most major events, you never forget where you were when it transpired.  I’d taken the morning off work on Tuesday, 11 January 2011 to see an advance screening of the new Nicole Kidman film Rabbit Hole.  I entered the cinema at 10am and while waiting for the film to commence, I noticed a message in my Twitter feed saying that people in the low lying areas of West End had been told to evacuate.


As I left the theatre 90 minutes later, I received a call from a fellow staff member at the University of Queensland advising me that they were leaving the campus due to a risk of flooding.  The staff at Dendy Portside (where I was) were telling patrons to take their cars out of the car park in case the river spilled over.  The seriousness of the situation was sinking in quickly.


I live in the Brisbane CBD and there’s a famous photo of when Festival Hall flooded in 1974.  You can view it here.  Considering my apartment building is now on that very spot, this was cause for concern.  I packed a few things and vacated to my mother’s house at Stafford Hts.


There wasn’t much to be done over the next few days.  All you could do is sit and wait for the flood waters to arrive.  I love photography so I roamed some of my favourite spots in Brisbane to grab some shots.  You can see them in my Facebook profile and on my Flickr feed by clicking here.


I don’t want to sound insensitive to those who have suffered great loss during the Brisbane floods but it has been an interesting “experience”.  We always see stuff on the news and read stories in the paper about natural disasters which have occurred elsewhere in the world.  It’s not until that one turns up on your own doorstep that you have an appreciation for what it’s like and how it affects people.


I have only just finished reading a book called The Black Swan (thanks to John Koy for the recommendation) which talks about major events in history, how difficult they are to predict, and the way people react afterwards.  These floods aren’t a true “black swan” in the sense that this has happened before but it still came as a surprise to many.


What I witnessed on Friday and Saturday around Brisbane was inspiring.  I walked out to Rosalie to check on the fate of one of my favourite cinemas, the Blue Room Cinebar.  The street was packed with an army of volunteers cleaning out houses and sweeping the mud off the sidewalk.  It brought a tear to my eye.


The people of Brisbane had dropped everything and were united behind a common goal – to get our city back on track.  I admit this was hard to reconcile.  These are the same people who at the last Federal election were asking politicians “what’s in it for me?”  These are the same people who post vitriolic comments on news sights slamming everything from Anna Bligh to Oprah Winfrey.


They say that a crisis can bring out the best and worst in people.  From my own experience, I now believe that it’s the “best” in the large majority of cases.  My Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with messages of good will.  Some were volunteering to clean.  Others were donating foods and clothes.  It was amazing stuff.


I haven’t had to do any cleaning myself (I asked a few friends but they said they had more than enough help) so my attention has been to my workplace, the University of Queensland at St Lucia.  I’ve spent the last few days working with the disaster recovery team to get the campus re-opened by Thursday.


The media coverage has also been great to follow.  My radio has been permanently on 612ABC Brisbane and my television flicking between all the networks that were offering 24 hours news coverage.  Elements were overdramatised (it was like “buzzword bingo” at times) but what these stations did incredibly well was getting important information out to people.  We knew which roads were cut off, we knew how to volunteer and we knew where to get fresh bread.  The images from their high flying helicopters painted a picture of the devastation and helped let us know which areas were badly affected.


What of our leaders?  It is my opinion that Lord Mayor Campbell Newman and Premier Anna Bligh have been excellent with their regular updates.  They’ll both receive a deserved boost in the polls for their efforts and I’m curious to see how they’ll perform over the next few months.  It’s only natural that people will start asking the tough questions as life returns to normal.  What can be done to stop this happening again?  What financial assistance will be offered to people who are uninsured?  There’ll be some heated debates ahead.


For the record, my own property was marginally affected by the flood.  The water level came to the front steps of the apartment building but no higher.  Unfortunately, this flooded the 4 level basement car park.  They’ve been pumping the water out for 3 straight days and they’re not finished yet.  This has also meant that the lifts are out in the building.  I’m continuing to stay with my mum (it’s nice to be pampered) and hopefully I can return home permanently in a few days.


I can be cynical at times but today, I’m proud to say that I live in a great city filled with equally great people.  Well done Brisbane!


Golden Globes


On a much lesser note, the Golden Globes were held today in Hollywood.  The Globes are probably the second most important awards (following the Screen Actors Guild Awards) in the lead up to the Oscars.  If you can win and make a great speech, it can only boost your chances.


Here’s a quick rundown of the major winners in the film categories:


Best Film – Drama: The Social Network

Best Film – Comedy/Musical:  The Kids Are All Right

Best Actor – Drama:  Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)

Best Actress – Drama:  Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Best Actor – Comedy/Musical:  Paul Giamatti (Barney’s Version)

Best Actress – Comedy/Musical:  Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale (The Fighter)

Best Supporting Actress – Melissa Leo (The Fighter)

Best Director – David Fincher (The Social Network)

Best Screenplay – Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)


Sadly, none of the Australians were successful but it’s still great to see four of them nominated.  I’m particularly proud of Jackie Weaver given Animal Kingdom is such a small film relative to those its up against.


Ricky Gervais did a decent job as host.  It was as if he was trying to offend as many people as possible.  The highlight for me was seeing Robert Downey Jr on stage presenting an award for best comedy actress.  The guy has a great sense of humour.


A big thanks to all those who entered by Golden Globes competition.  I received 59 entries and the winner was Peter Taggart with 5 out of 6.  Peter also nabbed the age of the best film drama presenter – he had a hunch it might be Michael Douglas and so picked 66 as the age.  Well done to Peter.


Not far away on 4 out of 6 were Sarah Ward, Michaela Murray and Craig Turton.


I’ll be having an even bigger Oscars competition is a few weeks time to stay tuned.


As for myself, I lost $300 on Johnny Depp (he didn’t deserve to win so I can’t complain) but picked up $330 on The Social Network.  The net profit of $30 adds to my total tally of award show winnings – now at $3,733 since 1996.


Having witnessed the destruction across Brisbane over the past week, the only thing I can do with this cash is donate it to the Premier’s Flood Relief Appeal.  I’m therefore pitching in $930 (representing my initial investment and winnings) towards the Appeal.  Thanks to The Social Network for coming through!  You can donate yourself by clicking here.


Next week’s blog will be a late one.  The Academy Award nominations are released on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 11:38pm Brisbane time.  I’ll have my comments on the nominees up on my blog about an hour afterwards.  Talk to you then!