What I watched
I caught a few movies on DVD this month.
Kill Your Darlings could have been an interesting take on the beat movement, but ultimately it was disappointing and ponderous.
Anchorman 2 was ok, it didn't make me laugh as much as the first one.
Sister was a French film set in the Alps about a brother and sister trying to make it on their own.
The Fisher King was my movie of the month. An all time favourite and one I had to watch in the wake of the death of Robin Williams. It took me a couple of weeks to be able to watch it and even then it was probably too soon. It's a film that divides people for sure, most Gilliam films do. I think it is his finest and definitely the performance that I most associate with Williams. It is a romantic fantasy, essentially a holy grail film but it's got this quirky heart to it that I find difficult to ignore. And the four main performances kill me, each and every time.
Jeff Bridges is a NYC Shock Jock, whose on air actions cause a devastating ripple effect and he is sacked. He ends up working with his on/off girlfriend, Mercedes Ruehl, in a video store, and drinking a bit too much. And then through a strange set of circumstances he meets a homeless man (Williams) who is very damaged directly due to the actions of Bridges earlier. Bridges decides it's his mission to save Williams. This is done through finding the holy grail - the fantasy element to the film, and gloriously shot - and also love, the love interest being the very shy and unusual Amanda Plummer.
The romanticism and fantasy of the film meld well, and the chemistry between Williams and Bridges is a thing to behold. The women are great in their respective supporting roles, Ruehl won an Oscar for this performance. There are scenes of beauty and rawness throughout, it always bring a tear to my eye, and this time I must say it brought more than a tear.
I also watched some great documentaries.
I enjoyed Monty Don's French Gardens, looking at some well known and lesser known gardens throughout France, and as always another series of American Pickers.
Music Video Directors was a fabulous series of music video directors from (mostly) the 80s, great clips, and insight into making them and the artists themselves.
Who is Harry Nilsson (and why is everybody talkin' about him?) was a great doco about the combined genius/tragic that was Nilsson.
Hear my train a comin' was a great doco about Jimi Hendrix, his influences, how was influenced by him and how he came to be. Fascinating stuff.
I got my hands on a copy of The Ghost and Mrs Muir S1 and found it to be as delightful as I remembered as a child. And Edward Mulhare (The Captain/Ghost) was just as gorgeous as I remembered too.
I finally got around to checking out Scandal S1, it took a few episodes to get into it's groove and as soon as I was hooked it finished (only 6 eps!) so I am eagerly awaiting S2.
Top of the Lake was an Australian/New Zealand mini-series set in New Zealand. Written and directed by Jane Campion it is compelling viewing but harrowing and bleak with no lightness. Every character is dark and disturbing. It is essentially about a 12 year old girl, 5 months pregnant, who disappears in the NZ wilderness. Elisabeth Moss (West Wing and Mad Men) is a detective, home visiting her dying mother and becomes wrapped up in the case, with many of the small towns secrets unraveling to paint a wider and more disturbing picture. I can’t say I enjoyed Top of the Lake, but there was some outstanding acting in it, with Moss deserving all the accolades she has received for this role. If you liked Broadchurch or The Killing, this is one to check out.
What I've Been Reading
100 Foot Journey by Richard C Morais is a tale of Indian Cuisine and love in France. I also saw the movie is was based on, the book is charming but a little grittier than the film.
Melbourne Art Deco by Robin Grow was a fabulous coffee table book of Art Deco Architecture in Melbourne, along with the stories behind each building.
Lost and Found by Brooke Davis is the latest feel good book everyone is talking about. I didn't care for it, but I am never a fan of the latest feel good book!
I also listened to Candide by Voltaire on Spoken Word, spoken by Jack Davenport no less. He did a superb job of bringing this great French satire to life. Candide sets off on an adventure with his manservant and mentor, Pangloss. They come across much fun, good, bad, and disaster during their journeys and Voltaire showcases his philosophical style in the interpretation of each adventure. All is for the best could well be the main subject of the story.
However my pick of the month is John Safran's Murder in Mississippi. I normally don’t read true crime, although I have appreciated a few titles over the years. I have found almost all of these have had the author become a character in their own book with writing that is highly stylised; Helen Garner, John Berendt, and Truman Capote do this well. John Safran’s writing could be classed similarly. When he finds out a white supremist he interviewed for one of his shows has been murdered, he heads to Mississippi to find out what was going on. Not long there he realised there is a book in the drama unfolding, and despite never written a book before he embarks on telling the tale in his own inimitable way. It is more about Safran getting his head around what is going on and how he can tell this story than about the story itself. Although the story itself is rather compelling. I've always been a fan of Safran, and found only mild traces of his trademark smirkiness in the book.
What I've been listening to
Loads of Courtney Love and Hole, in the lead up to seeing her live.
Lyre of Orpheus by Nick Cave, one of my favourite albums of all time, and containing two sexy Cave tracks, Breathless and the stunning Babe, You Turn Me On.
I fixed my broken turntable, so have been spinning all sorts of vinyl, including but not limited to Pink Floyd, Elvis, The Beatles, Talking Heads, and Australian Crawl.