What I've been Watching
Nashville - totally sucked into this soap opera of sorts and loving it. Set in Nashville and about Country (well alt country) music. Rising Diva (a Britney Spears/Taylor Swift cross) Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) goes on tour with Fading Star Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and the pair don't exactly hit it off. It is full of great original music (everyone sings themselves and are awesome), loads of affairs, backdrop of politics, and a bit of greed. It actually reminds me of Dallas, but with country music. I whipped through S2 and it left us a zinger of a cliffhanger...JR would be proud!
The Fall - oh my, this is excellent. Gillian Anderson (Scully!) is a complex detective working on a case she believes is the work of a serial killer. The great thing about this is that we all know everything about 1 or 2 steps before the police and detectives. We don't know motives or anything like that, but we know who the serial killer is and watch them hone in on him. It is a disturbing but wild ride. Utterly compelling, a must watch. I really need S2 stat!
Smash - finally finished S2, it was axed not long after, and you can see why. This show started with such potential - behind the scenes of putting on a Broadway show about Marilyn - but never quite lived up to it. With Angelica Huston, Jack Davenport, and Debra Messing in main parts I was always going to stick with it, but it could have been so much better!
Jonathan Creek S5 - I've always loved the oddness behind the mysteries on Jonathan Creek (ok, I have always loved Alan Davies), but this season lacked something, possibly his marriage to the chick from Coupling. I don't buy it, and the stories were a bit tired. Maybe it's time to end this one.
Grand Designs - I cannot remember which one I am up S11 I think. This was a great series as usual, odd houses, overblown budgets, and the ever divine Kevin McCloud tsking away at the owners.
The Code - this is by far the television series highlight this month. An Australian political thriller, with two brothers (a genius hacker and an online reporter) stumbling across a huge environmental cover up. It's a race against time to find the information they need before they get into more trouble from varying sides of politics and the media. Outstanding cast and acting, and really on the edge of your seat stuff!
Railway Man - Great story about Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), a WWII veteran, interned in a Japanese POW camp and tortured. He is a lost man, until he meets Patti (Nicole Kidman) on a train. She helps him face the memories and regain some sense of self over the horrific past. This is a true story, based on Eric's memoir of the same name. Firth is outstanding.
Begin Again - this was disappointing. Ruffalo plays a down on his luck music producer, who meets a young singer/songwriter (Keira Knightley) and thinks he will make it big. There are ok moments in the film, but ultimately it left me cold.
Winter's tale - really loved this fantasy romance set over many centuries. Colin Farrell is Peter Lake, a conman who is on the run from his former employee (Russell Crowe). He meets the beautiful Beverly, who is ill, and he tries to move heaven and earth for her wellbeing. There is magic at hand, a little but of supernatural, a stunning white horse, and much romance and mystique. I knew nothing of this film and was quite pleasantly surprised.
it boy - this is ultimately a French farce gone wrong. A stitched up fashion magazine editor, Alice, meets the young and gorgeous Balthazar, through a comedy of errors. Her work colleagues she them and thinks she is having an affair with the much younger man. This makes her more interesting in their eyes and she goes along with it to get a promotion. Things of course immediately become complex and confusing. Amusing at times, this only works due to the chemistry between the main characters, otherwise, it is a little lame.
Rust and bone - this was a remarkable film. Marion Cotillard is Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who is recovering from a horrific accident. She meets Alain (Matthias Schoenarts), who has left Belgium with his young son in tow. The down on their luck pair meet, and become firm friends, helping each other out of the depth of their despair. This is an outstanding French drama with superb acting from both the leads, in particular Cottillard.
Wadjda - is the uplifting story of a young girl in Saudi Arabia, Wadjda. She is fearless, a tomboy, and uninterested in how she should behave according to the Koran. She is constantly getting in trouble at school, despite being a top student. Her family show love and support, in a way that supports and boosts her confidence. Her longing for a bike, so she can ride with her best friend - a boy - is close to taboo. The film shows her trials and tribulations and was extremely joyful. A must see.
What I've been listening to
Prince - the simultaneously released TWO Prince albums are superb, funky, dance, ballad and rock. He just gets better with age!
Kate Miller-Heidke - oh that sweet expressive voice, I do love her so. Operatic pop, sensational ballads, witty lyrics. Oh Vertigo is all of that and more, pure perfection!
Sinead O'Connor - this was my album of the year last year and still not tired of it. A huge return to form, simply stunning stuff!
Lenny Kravitz - ooh I love this, funky and another return to form, his last few albums have left me cold, but not this one. Funky, rocky and sexy, just how I like Lenny. A Smokey cover and a cool Happy Birthday song - something for everyone!
Augie March - lovely new album, I do love these guys, exactly as you would expect, melodic and cool.
St Vincent - love this too, pop and cool, sophisticated and hip. I love her work, this is no exception.
Pink Floyd - this is my album of the month, wow, what a masterpiece. Released as a 'final' album and a tribute to the late Richard Wright this is a stunning selection of unreleased tracks. They are mostly instrumental and of course feature Wright at his best. I cannot say how much I love this beautiful meditative album. You can hear shades of various periods of Floyd within each track. It is comforting, soothing, and haunting all at once, which - to me - is Pink Floyd. They are one of my all time favourite bands, and I could listen to this album forever.
What I've been reading
A little history: photographs of Nick Cave and cohorts 1981-2013 - this is a gloriously dark coffee table book of sorts. Heaps of photos and the stories behind them from this thirty year or so. My favourite was a picture of Nick and presumably Dylan, though his face is obscured. Apparently after, Nick was all like, wow, he was very much like Dylan...but it was Dylan...or was it!
Here and there: collected travel writing by A A Gill - this is a great collection of ripping tales from around the world by the ever witty and engaging Gill. He transports you to the place with wonder and a pondering tone that amuses and informs in equal parts. Whether it's grand cities in Europe or the deepest parts of Africa, Gill always delights.
Springtime: a ghost story by Michelle De Krester - this spooky novella is a wonderful read that entices you from the very beginning. It is the story of Frances and Charlie and their relationship. They move from Melbourne to Sydney and Frances has an uneasy feeling about everything around her. Has their move, and indeed their relationship, tipped things over in the world around them. She starts to see things from different perspectives, and feels haunted by what she begins to see. Highly recommend
Entertain Us: the rise and fall of alternative rock in the nineties by Craig Schuftan - this is a very detailed look, year by year, at alternative music through the nineties. It delves into not only the popular bands taht everyone remembers, but little ones we realise we have forgotten. He adds in popular culture and politics and how it all fits and evolves together and asks questions as to why it rose as it did - in the mid to early 90s indie music was king - and why it feel equally as quickly. Schuftan doesn't have all the answers, but it is a fascinating read, alongside being a wonderful walk down memory lane.
Gerald Durrell - I am still working my way through a large pile of talking books, some better than others, but always charming and funny stories!