What I've been watching
I caught up with two previously unseen classics, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946, Barbara Stanwyck) and Witness for the Prosecution(1957, Tyrone Power, Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich, directed by Billy Wilder). Both were overly melodramatic but lured you in. The acting was fabulous and the stories intense.
I also caught up with Gangster Squad which I loved, great story, cast, and highly stylised set design and cinematography; and Dom Hemingway, a gritty British drama about a criminal out of prison, with charismatic performances by Jude Law and Richard E. Grant.
I only saw two documentaries this month, the very odd Apollo 18 and the superb In Bob We Trust. Apollo 18 is supposedly footage from the final moon landing, and it is more Blair Witch than anything else, part of me wants to believe what I saw happened, but I doubt it very much. I don't want to say any more, watch it if you are interested! In Bob We Trust, is about the wonderful Father Bob and shot over the past few years from when he was told he would have to retire. We see a lot of the amazing work Bob does, the people who help him, and hear a lot of his honest and wise thoughts.
I've watched a lot of television this month - there is so much great tele out there, the list of what I want to catch up on is never ending. Thank god there is nothing much good on regular tele.
I've been watching Medium the past few months and finally finished up the entire series. I found the finale a little disappointing, her husband's storyline was not to my liking, but ultimately I liked the last season. It had reached it's end point I think, and whilst the stories within each episode were always intriguing, it was the sense of family portrayed that made it worth watching.
S2 of Veep was as funny as the first. Julia-Louis Dreyfuss is hilarious as Selina, Vice President of the United States! She is self involved, sassy, clueless, and rude. The team that surround her are equally as funny, especially the wonderful Tony Hale, as her sycophantic assistant Gary. Full of sharp, quick political dialogue, and loads of trademark JLD physical comedy, this series created by Armando Iannucci (Thick of It) is a stunner.
I finally caught S1 of Orange is the New Black and instantly loved it. The range and depth of solid, quality female characters is mesmerising. The entire cast is superb, I don't think I have a favourite character at this point. It is mostly lighter fare, funny and witty with extreme dramatic moments that make your jaw drop and tear up. Excellent writing too. I look forward to S2.
But Downton Abbey S4 was my tele highlight this month. I almost didn't watch this as whilst I loved S1, S2 and S3 left me a little less enthused. However, I feel S4 is the best season they have produced thus far, a heady mix of romance, dramas, embroils, and sweetness. I loved the storytlines for both Mary and Edith, the new characters, and was left shocked by the storyline for our beloved Anna. I also am finding my favourite character to be the delightful Tom. And have been giggling at the sharp friendship formed by Penelope Wilton (Isobel) and the formidable Maggie Smith. As always her lines continue to amuse. Add in Paul Gaimatti and the return of Shirley Maclaine, royalty, and the roaring 20s (oh my, the music and the costumes) and I did not want the season to end. It is escapism of the highest order especially in times where the world seems like too much. Ohhh and Dame Kiri as Dame Mellie was inspired, emotional and grand!
I caught a great 4 part series called Venice Revealed by Peter Ackroyd which was fascinating and stunning visually.
And my favourite viewing was The Ronnie Wood Show. Ronnie Wood, Rolling Stones, has a radio show (who doesn't these days?) and he plays his favourite tracks and each week has a guest in to do the same for part of it. The show is filmed and parts of it are put together for this. It was fantastic. His range of music was mostly old rhythm and blues, with unexpected tracks popped in. His guests included Slash, Mark Ronson, Pattie Boyd and Paul McCartney. Loved hearing all these amazing people talk music.
What I've been reading
Bully for Them, a selection of essays from interesting Australians about being bullied at school and how they survived. People like Marieke Hardy, Benjamin Law, Missy Higgins and Eddie Perfect.
Afternoons in Ithaka by Spiri Tsintziras was a great little memoir about her life here in Australia and in Greece, and the travels back and forth over the years. It's about fitting in, people, family, and most importantly culture and food. It also includes recipes for the family dishes she talks so lovingly about.
Love life by Rob Lowe and Let's just say it wasn't pretty by Diane Keaton were both disappointing follow ups to their first memoirs. Both have taken the random story type memoir for their second offering, and in Lowe's case it comes across a little like name dropping and less informational, and Keaton's was trying to take the line of looks don't matter, but I didn't buy it. I do believe that and that is why I really love Keaton, for her this is how I am, take me or leave me style. The book didn't really support that attitude as I thought it would...or should!
Kate Ceberano's I'm Talking was interesting, but nothing terribly new in there.
I've been reading Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf for Bibliotweeps Bookclub. I've not read any of her fiction before and must say I struggled to get into it. But once I found her rhythm I was fine. What a beautifully written, superb piece of prose. I cannot wait to read more.
My favourite story this month was We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. It is a family drama that starts in the middle, works it's way to the beginning and then moves towards the end. It's about a lost family member, what has happened to her, and the subsequent implosion of the family after this incident. And it has a twist! I found this a fantastic page turner, and have halted reading it as I will schedule it for a bookclub soon and want to finish it closer to that. And so it sits on my coffee table mocking me and making me want to pick it up and finish it. More next month!!!
What I've been listening to
Indie Cindy by The Pixies! Oh I loved this so much, especially track 2, Blues and Greens, which is perfect pop.
Blank Project by Neneh Cherry – the long awaited new album by Neneh after a troubled period was definitely worth the wait. On first listen I wasn’t that impressed, it had gotten rave reviews and I didn’t agree. But Blank Project is a slow burn and after a few listens I had it on repeat. There are some songs I am not sure about but they are indeed interesting. I do particularly love the title track. The subject matter is dark and controversial, but she really does sound good, and it is much different to previous albums…more laid back, trip hop rather than funky and pop.
I've been listening to Talking Heads, Hoodoo Gurus, and Simon and Garfunkal in the car and at work.