Thursday, September 5, 2019

AUGUST REVIEWS

What I've Been Reading

New York in Bloom by Georgianna Lane -  A lovely smallish coffee table book of beautiful floral photography against a New York backdrop. Lane writes some lovely prose throughout and her photos are divine. Makes me want to visit New York in the Spring.

JPY: the autobiography by John Paul Young – anyone who knows me, knows my love of JPY. I have always been a huge fan, since Countdown, and seen him perform many times and he just gets better with age. This is his story, his humble beginnings and move to Australia and then move into popstar and his star shone bright. There are a lot of stories about Countdown, touring, and making music with Vanda and Young. He is a born storyteller, and some of the more interesting stories about adventures when his star was not so high. Although I did love his stories of Blankety Blanks, one of my favourite shows as a kid. I feel like there could have been more to the story, it could have had a little more depth and length, but in all it was a crackin’ read. 

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
I read this book a few months ago and blown away. But the first 100 pages or so were difficult to get into, there is a LOT of set up. The author himself would say this. I definitely skimmed through this section and when the book ended so spectacularly I wanted to re-read it. I decided to – on the advice of a friend – listen to the talking book this time and it was a great experience. I got so much more out of the story and am glad I took the time to do so. This is such a great Australian yarn, I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

What I've Been Watching

Gentleman Jack
I cannot begin to say how much I loved this period/costume drama with a difference. Based on the real life diaries of Anne Lister. Anne was a groundbreaking feminist and a fascinating creature. I adore her. I loved the barriers pushed during this time. How heartbreaking it must have been. The cast were brilliant, but Surane Jones as Anne was magnificent, with obstinance and determination, and the occasional wink to the camera. I was so sad when this ended, as I wanted more.

State of the union
This is a Nick Hornby story that was initially released in 10 minute snippets on the web. I watched it as a movie and it lacked something. Starring Rosamund Pike (who I find cold) and Chris O’Dowd as a couple in therapy after the wife has owned up to having an affair. The show is the 10 minutes where they meet in a pub prior to therapy. It is definitely a fascinating premise but something left me cold.

X-Files – I have been watching this from scratch as they play them each night on SBS. The first season and a bit are good, but the acting is a little wooden, especially from both Duchovny and Anderson. But they are so young and innocent, you forgive them. It isn’t until the key episode early in Season 2 where Scully gets abducted, possibly by aliens. The acting turns, and the storylines become great. Maybe it’s the writing, maybe it’s that storyline, maybe they have finally grown into their roles. But it is where a good show becomes great and it is a delight to watch. Whilst it looks a little dated, this show really holds up. I look forward to watching more.

Fosse/Verdon – oh my goodness, this is a wonderful show. It does the moveable storyline thing, which I am unsure does it an favours. But the story and the acting are so amazing, that you forgive them. Sam Rockwell is great in the most dastardly way as the imitable Bob Fosse. But Michelle Williams is everything as the extremely talented by long suffering Gwen Verdon. I had not heard of Gwen until this movie, what a sacrilege. Williams inhabits her, her voice, her moves, that smile, she is outstanding. I loved the dance numbers and the staging of the shows within the show. Everything about this is right up my alley. 

Travel Man - caught up on a few seasons I had missed. This is a fun travel show with Richard Ayoade taking a fellow comedian to a City for 48 hours to explore. Lee Mack in Brussels, Robert Webbin Madeira, Dawn French in Athens and so on.

On the Basis of Sex  - whilst the documentary RBG was infinitely superior, this movie based on Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s life was still pretty good. Felicity Jones was RBG and did well, Armie Hammer was great as her lovely husband. It featured on the ground breaking gender discrimination cases that showcased her brilliance. It was awful to see how terribly she was treated when she commenced at law school, but those days are long behind us (to a certain degree) due to RBG herself!

Beautiful Boy – this was well done, Steve Carell was amazing, as always, as the father of a young teen (the brilliant Timothy Chalamet) addicted to drugs. It’s quite dry and dramatic at times, but great performances. Maura Tierney (Carell’s second wife) and Amy Ryan (Chalamet’s mother) also star, but in limited roles. Of course, there is the amusement that Amy Ryan and Steve Carell  (Holly and Michael from The Office) are Chalamet’s parents, no wonder he turned to drugs, ha ha!

The Children Act – powerful drama based on Ian McEwan’s novel. Emma Thompson is Fiona, a judge in the family section of the High Court. She is faced with many heartbreaking decisions dealing with children. One case in particular will shake her to her core, with life or death decisions to be made. I’ve not read the book this is based on and would like to, but the film was well done, mostly due to the extraordinary talent of Emma Thompson. I cannot say I enjoyed this film because it is not that kind of film, but it made me think and appreciate so much, especially Emma Thompson herself, who I just adore.

Find me in Paris S1.1 – this was a cute teen show about a Russian ballet dancer in Paris in 1905 who falls through a portal and finds herself in 2018 Paris. It is full of lovely shots of Paris, teen romance and dance with a bit of time travel, in that the time travellers from 1905 are trying to find her. Good family show and for young girls and Francophiles or dance lovers.

Disobedience – Rachel Weisz is a photographer in NY estranged from her family, but when her Rabbi father dies she returns to London and her one true love, Rachel McAdams. Set in a deeply Jewish society, Weisz upsets everyone with her return and the re-establishment of her affair with McAdams. This is a slow, beautifully shot love story. Weisz and McAdams are outstanding.

Welcome to Marwen – Steve Carell plays real life Mark Hogancamp who is fighting extreme PSTD after being attacked by a  group of thugs leaving him without much memory. Mark retreats into a fantasy world where he wins against the baddies with a pack of kick arse girl soldiers. He turns his fantasies into small installations and take photos of them and becomes quite famous for his art. This is an odd but beautiful film, Carell – as always – is outstanding. This is really worth checking out.

Celeste – Radha Mitchell is a retired opera singer, after a breakdown, who agrees to put on a one time only show in Far North Qld, where she has been living since leaving opera behind. Her partner has died and her stepson turns up and family secrets are revealed and tensions arise, will she be able to perform on the night. The setting is absolutely stunning, the story a little rambling, but in all an unusual but good quality Australian film.

What I've Been Listening To


Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen
This is the new album from The Boss. I have been a long time fan and this is one of his best. He is certainly on a role lately. The usual stunning storytelling through great lyrics and powerful tunes are throughout this entire album. There are a couple of strays from his usual style more in the form of a 80s power ballad. Highly recommend this one.

My Criminal Record by Jimmy Barnes
I haven’t really enjoyed much of the recent material from Barnes for a very long time, but this was really good.  A few good choices of covers including Springsteen’s Tougher than the Rest and Lennon’s Working Class hero. A great backing band, his voice is in fine form and the tunes range from rock to blues. I really loved this.

Podcasts
The usual, Unspooled, Looks 3, Chats 10, WTF with Marc Maron, Live and Vivid with Alan Alda, and a whole pile of Sydney Writers Festival ones.


Saturday, August 3, 2019

JULY ROUND UP

I had a change of work locations this month, working out of the back office at Windale Library until my temporary stint in Special Projects finishes. I also commenced negotiations regarding where I will land in the restructure. Still in negotiations, and to be honest, the less said the better at this point.

So to counteract the stress, I have had a fun-filled month. Life is for living, I am alive and here to do so!!

I caught up with Jayne for lunch at The Mary Ellen, after a morning whale watching at the beach.



Our choir performed at Adamstown Uniting Church with 3 other choirs for a cancer fundraiser. What a wonderful afternoon it was. The other choirs were great, and we were very well received.



Our repertoire were some of my favourite songs to sing, and we here are the videos of them:




Linda and I went to see Mystify, the new documentary about Michael Hutchence. It was one of the best documentaries I have seen. I found it very upsetting to watch at times, knowing that this beautiful man and great talent was no longer with us, and worse, I never got to see him and INXS live. I was a huge fan as a tween and teen. I love INXS from the very beginning, due to Countdown. I had all the early stuff and played it over and over. I was too young to see them live then. After Kick and the during the Kylie phase when they were touring significantly and I could see them, I was no longer a fan, so I didn't. The documentary had loads of unseen footage with voiceovers rather than interviews. Michele, Kylie, and Helena featured widely, with fascinating insight into the man, personal videos and anecdotes. You could tell they all still loved him so very much by hearing the quiver in their voice. Kylie still had loads and loads of faxes, which was how they communicated whilst on tour. There was a lot of eye to the camera footage of Michael, those beautiful brown eyes hypnotising you and caressing your soul. Oh my. It didn't delve too much into his final hours, it was more about the man and the deep loss in all our lives. 

We had a family dinner at the new Texas BBQ Grill at Mayfield Wests. The food was good and the atmosphere ok, but it was overpriced and to be honest, a little over spiced/sauced etc. We had a great time as always though.


Mid July every year for the past 4 years, I have gotten together with fellow Kate Bush fans for The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever. We dress up like Kate in the Wuthering Heights filmclip and do her dance. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun it is, it sounds weird, but if you were there you'd just love it. People of all ages and shapes, men and women, children, dogs turn up and it is one of the best things I do all year.





Here is the footage of the morning.

I followed the morning, having lunch with friends at Cafe Inu at Carrington. Cafe Inu is a dog friendly cafe, with Japanese style food. Such a great vibe.




From there I headed to my bookclub at Talulah Bar.

The One Song Sing for the month was the fabulous duet by Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson, Candy. At our new regular haunt, Babylon. Have a look at it here. We do One Song Sing on the second Sunday of the month at 4pm. It's always a blast!



I took an afternoon off work, and went into Newcastle Library to catch two exhibits. One was old posters and information about selling blocks of land in the late 1800s and early 1900s, fascinating and quite beautiful. The Second was a display of Trevor Dickinson's work, which was delightful. I am sure a fan of his work, this was great. I then had some afternoon tea at Coco Mondo and a shop on Darby Street.












I also went to The Stag with friends to catch up on another friend's old band, doing a one night only. The Mansons do 60s type bubble gum pop (original and covers) in the style of The Ramones. It was an excellent night.



I ended the month with a 5 day mini break.

This commenced with a wonderful catch up with Diana and Mary, we have known each other since Kindergarten and whilst we don't see each other that often, when we do it is like no time has passed. We had a lovely evening of chatter, laughter, food and cocktails at Parry Street Garage.



I decided to escape to Sydney, you can read about that here!

I met my friend Tracey at Charlestown Library for an author talk. I have been a fan of Kate Forsyth for a while, despite never reading any of her books. I had heard her on Richard Fidler's Conversations and was fascinated by her. She was wonderful, talking about her research and her books, historical fiction crossed with retelling of fairy tales. I have bought a few titles for her to sign and of course to read.







July is also Le Tour, so much late night watching men with tight butts on bikes as they drive through a lot of castle porn! Tremendous!!!


And as always soccer and markets.








And additional pics: