What I've been listening to
Singles soundtrack – nice hark back to when Grunge was king. Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and The Replacements. Man, I really loved The Replacements, so my stand out tune is Dyslexic Heart.
Hypnotic - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers = great rocking Tom
New Morrissey and Sinead O’Connor – both great albums by artists whose recent output has been ordinary. Especially Sinead’s which I would call close to perfect, she’s never sounded better and the album has a range from ballads, to pop to rock, highly recommend.
Exits by Steve Smyth. I first saw the decadently bearded Smyth on Rockwiz about a year ago. He was marvelous and I adored his rock/blues voice. I was also lucky enough to see him live in September. He was a mix of Tom Waits and Jeff Buckley, rocking blues tracks to more laid back jazzy/pop tunes. An impressive presence on stage, I think he is one of those performers who is better seen live. However his album is a pretty good representation and one I highly recommend.
Revelation is the latest from Brian Jonestown Massacre and a goodun’. A mix of rock, pop and the usual crazy, I found this an immediately listenable album. One I have had on rotation for a while.
Liam Finn’s latest album is called Nihilist and that will give you an idea of what to expect. A hazy muddle of a whole range of genres, sometimes all in one song. My favourite was a Prince like funk pop tune called Snug as F...k. Liam has a mixed sound and then you listen to some songs and you can see the genetics streaming through. Finn the younger always presents a mixed bag, sometimes not to my taste, but I quite liked this.
Also been listening to a few by Paloma Faith. She has a huge voice and great style. I know her through live things I've seen online or tele, and whilst the albums are great, she is a visual performer. I think seeing her adds to performance, I prefer it!
What I've been watching
Sons of Anarchy 5, yet again I start this series and yet again I think this is the same old stuff with the violence pushed up a notch or two. Yet by episode 2 I was sucked back in, mostly due to the arrival of a new bloke in Town, Jimmy Smits. Everyone is double crossing each other, there are hits, murders, and pure assassinations. The body count is high. As always the women in the cast stand out.
Arrested Development S4 - read my AD review here.
Josh Thomas finished up on a lovely note with his stunning series Please Like Me, S3 is on the way apparently. Hurrah, it's the best thing on Australian television by far!
ABC had a fabulous week of scheduling for Mental Health Month, including a stunning QandA. I was a fan of QandA for a long time, but I grew weary of it last year, possibly as politics has taken such a dreadful turn, watching people debate it out just wore thing. However there has been a few perfectly chosen panels of late, eg no politicians, and this was no exception. Surprisingly Josh Thomas shone through with his kind simplicity about issues. Another piece I particularly enjoyed was a documentary about depression and anxiety (two things I work through myself from time to time) by Felicity Ward. Kind, compassionate, and funny, check it out on iview if it's still there.
I've seen a few ordinary films too. Adoration was about two close friends (Naomi Watts and Robin Wright) who end up having affairs with each other's sons. Of course this cause no end of dramas. This was beautifully filmed and well acted, and was a clever concept, but ultimately left me feeling meh. The Butler was as bad as I thought it would be. How could Lee Daniels (Monster's Ball, Precious, The Paperboy) would make such a beige film? Based on a true story, which I think could have been really radical, it just did not translate and seemed to be Oscar bait of the very worst type. In fact the whole film reeked of 'Let's give Oprah an Oscar!' Ummmm, let's not!!! And I found Mandela: a long walk to freedom, ponderous and plodding. I adore Mandela and his story is a complex one for sure, but I guess we all know that by now, so the film seemed a bit moot. Mr Pip was nowhere near as good as the novel. Sunshine on Leith I watched twice, the first time I fell asleep through the whole thing, the second I just couldn't get into it, and I like The Proclaimers and love Jane Horracks!
I did enjoy Mud, a boys own adventure starring Matthew McConaughey, a felon hiding out on a swampy island in the South. Two young boys stumble across him, get to know him, and help him fix an old boat for escape. I also saw two French films about food. The first Tasting Menu, is about a famous chef and restaurant and their last night open. A range of guests are invited to enjoy this last evening, and many are at a crossroads in their life. Amongst the delicious food are the people working through their worries. The second was Le Chef, with the great Jean Reno, as head chef at a 3 hat restaurant, but growing bored with the job, he takes on an assistant and hilarity ensues. This has the usual French farce elements, with a little drama, and great food.
Frank was definitely the stand out movie for the month. Frank (Michael Fassbender) is the lead singer of an enigmatic, underground band. Jon (Domhnall Gleeson - Harry Potter, About Time) is a young struggling musician, who happens to be in the right place at the right time, when the band requires a temporary keyboard player. He joins the band and ends up being a confidant of Frank and goes away with the band to record their first album.
Frank's style of music is avant garde and then some, and he refuses to remove a large, false head. He has an odd relationship with Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) another band member. It is really hard to explain Frank (the movie and the person), but it is very odd, incredibly endearing, dramatic, sad, and very funny. Fassbender - who spends almost the entire movie with his head in this huge false head - is absolutely stunning. The emotions and range protrayed, without a face, has to be seen to be believed. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Domhnall Gleeson also superb. This is a little film, but with great hit and heart. It is loosely based on a band, writer, Jon Ronson knew. Oh and Fassbender sings for reals on the bands music.
What I've been reading
Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler is a superb fictionalised account of Zelda’s life. From her Southern childhood to the life changing event of meeting one F. Scott Fitzgerald and then their hedonistic life covering many countries and parties. This is a grand tale of love, craziness, and the swinging twenties.
As luck would have it by Derek Jacob, I listened to on audiobook, read by the great man himself. As a young tween I was obsessed with I Claudius, and Jacobi's performance in particular and have enjoyed him on the small and big screen ever since. This Autobiography tells the fascinating story of his life, leading up to I Claudius, and beyond when he became very famous. Fabulous insight into acting, the theatre, Shakespeare and many of his contemporaries. He has acted with all the greats and tells exactly how they were to be around. From Lawrence Olivier, to Noel Coward, to Maggie Smith, to Kenneth Branagh, every story is wonderful.
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll as read by Miriam Margolyes. This was a fun audiobook, with Miriam doing marvelous justice to the voices of each and every character within Carroll's imagination.
The Stationary Ark by Gerald Durrell, read by Nigel Davenport. I have always been fascinated by the stories of Gerald Durrell, mostly his childhood stories from the island of Corfu. This is about setting up a zoo on the Jersey Isles. Parts of it are fascinating, parts of it lists and dull procedures from set up, and parts of it awful stories or what would amount to stealing animals today. I was unsure how to take this book, I've never been a fan of zoos, but am enamoured of all animals and attempts at conservation. This book seemed not to be the later, and it protested too much about people who become anti-zoo activists. Nonetheless, there were some endearing animals stories within.
Not that kind of girl by Lena Dunham is a mix of essays, thought pieces, and lists. I like her writing style very much, it's matter of a fact and far more mature than I would have thought. Some of it fascinating, especially her early childhood, and her early 20s. Some of it didn't interest me and I skimmed through. In all, if you like good feminist memoirs, you will find much in there to love.
Dress, memory by Lorelei Vashti is an expansion from her fabulous fashion tumblr from a few years back. Lorelei has a lovely frock collection and would blog about one piece a week, why she bought the outfit or dress and what emotions it brought out of biographical information of the time. Dress memory, extends those small pieces into larger chapters per year. It is mostly memoir, but with extensive detail of her outfits for each memory within.