Tuesday, May 12, 2015


What I've been watching
Spandau Ballet: soul boys of the western world - this was a great documentary about the band, Spandau Ballet. It tracks there early years leading up to the glory, and their descent with loads of live footage, interviews, and voiceovers recalling the action. Plenty of music and laughs too. This is for fans, but well worth a watch. And I have to say it, then and now, Tony Hadley, phoar, so very good looking and a stunning voice.
Masters of Sex S1 - this is something for the Mad Men fans, set in the 50s with stunning attention to detail, it follows the real life work of Dr William Masters and his assistant perfectly played by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. Yet this is more than sex, there is great drama behind the scenes, and the fact he was indeed a trail blazer. Also an awesome supporting cast featuring Beau Bridges and Allison Janney as a husband and wife with a devastating storyline, their acting is equally as devastating.
Vikings S1 - Finally caught up with this, it is a poor man's Game of Thrones, and whilst not bad, with pretty good acting and stunning scenery, it really is just rape and pillaging!
Once Upon a Time S3 - I do love this fantasy fairy tale series, which in this season features Neverland and Oz, with the fabulous Rebecca Mader taking on the role of the Wicked Witch. Stories are intertwined and turned on their heads, and characters intermingle, good is evil, evil is good. It can be a little cheesy, and the acting at times a little wooden or overacted, but the premise is clever, keeps you guessing, and wondering what will happen next. Fun for all the family!
Burton and Taylor - great telemovie with Helena Bonham-Carter and Dominic West playing the tortured ex-couple late in their lives, as they attempt to do a play of Noel Coward's Private Lives on Broadway. Scandalous, romantic, and tempestuous, this is shown just as you would imagine it to be.
Olive Kitteridge - this is the superb adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel (of short stories) by Elizabeth Strout. The main characters are played perfectly by Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, and Bill Murray. The stories are full on dry wit, and drama and are a great representation of what happened on the page. Highly recommend.
Jersey Boys - this was a not so great adaptation of the stage show of the stories of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I saw the live stage version some years back and whilst the music production and songs were pure joy, they stories left me a little meh. The film version did little to lift that and added even more story which stretched the action unnecessarily. Clint, Clint, Clint, when you are good, you are very good, but when you are bad...
Pompeii and Noah  - the less said the better, Noah was overblown and overacted, and possibly did look good on the big screen, Pompeii made Noah look like Shakespeare.
22 Jump Street - this is loads of fun, as Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill go to college yet again to infiltrate another drug ring. Silly and yet still funny, this made me laugh.
Maleficient - I really loved this tale of the redemption and love with Angelina Jolie perfect in the title role. Beautifully shot, and simply told, this complex tale was surprisingly good. Jolie herself was outstanding, the scene where she loses her wings brought me to my knees.
Inch Allah - a middle eastern film about a Canadian obstetrician working in a Palestine refugee camp. The women and children she bonds with, and the horrors she sees. This is a compelling film with a lot of heart.
Half a Yellow Sun - this is the film adaptation of the best selling book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and features Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose as two sisters swept up in Nigerian Civil War. This is a sweeping drama against a horrific backdrop, and feels like a masterpiece. I really loved this.
The Night Porter - is a stunning drama featuring a young Charlotte Rampling and Dirk Bogarde. Set after WWII, there are flashbacks to the war where Rampling's character was in a prison of war camp, and was 'saved' from death by her captor, Bogarde, mostly as she was beautiful and he could have his way with her. Rampling thinks she sees Bogarde after it all has ended, and despite the awful experience, is drawn to him and complications arise.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec - this wonderful Luc Beeson tale is my pick of the month. Part The Mummy/Indiana Jones, part Amelie, this film had almost everything in it, and it works beautifully. Set in Paris in 1920, a mysterious man has awakened a pterodactyl from it's large egg and it is flying around Paris. Adele is a journalist come adventurer and is in Egypt looking for something that will help her with a problem she has. She awakens a Mummy and sets a chain of events rolling. This is romantic, and quirky, steampunk, very French, and a little bit fantasy. It was a complete and utter joy to watch, a must see.
What I've been reading

Acute Misfortune: the life and death of Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen - It is beautifully written and painfully real, a short read at 200 pages but an intense read. I had the worst dreams - not quite nightmares, but almost - that can only be attributed to the book. Cullen was a talent, but also a deeply flawed human being. I don't know that much about Cullen, but enough to believe Jensen nailed it. Jensen himself almost gets pulled down the wormhole that is Cullen's life. but he is subtle in his telling of this, I suspect there is a whole other story to be told there. The thing that strikes me is that Jensen simply recounts what he knows or has observed, and leaves you, the reader, to make judgment...or not. The book itself is almost a work of art. I guess it is not for everyone, but if you have been tempted, go and give it a go.

Love Your sister by Connie and Samuel Johnson - I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. These people have had the worst and darkest things happen in their lives and yet, such love and heart shines through. Prepare to be cry, this is no story with a happy ending. I have loved Johnson since his Secret Life of Us days, but I had little idea what demons he has and how his real life actually was. It's quite remarkable and what he and  his sister has had to endure, no human being should.

Holidays by William McInnes -  I saw McInnes last November talk about this book and was very keen to read it. McInnes is a showman to the nth degree and his verbal telling of these stories had us all in stitches. This doesn't not come across as well when reading it. The stories of holidaying in the 70s certainly brought up a lot of memories for me, but I just would prefer to hear McInnes tell me the stories, rather than reading them off the page.

Paddle your own canoe by Nick Offerman -  My love for Nick Offerman and his fabulous character on Parks and Recreations, Ron Swanson, knows no bounds. This is a hilarious how to manual come memoir written with that dry wit we all love. He does try to explain that Ron and Nick are indeed two separate entities, but I am not so sure about that. He really shines when writing about his family and his wife, Megan Mullally. I guess this is for fans of Ron, the outdoors, and bacon.

Airmail: women of letters - This is the latest Women of Letters compilation and features overseas writers and artists who featured in the shows when toured there. Expect the usual amounts of humour, pathos, drama, and tears.

At my French table by Jane Webster - Jane Webster and her family, Melbournians, bought a Chateau in Normandy. This is a coffee table style book filled with photos, stories of renovations, settling into the area, and recipes. A pure delight and dream to read and drool over.

What I've been listening to

Vulnicura - Bjork - This is one of the most outstanding new albums I have heard in a long time. It is quintessential Bjork and then some. You feel every beat and every breathe in every piece. I read an article/interview about it just before it came out and it made me cry. The humanness and the heartbreak and the love that Bjork has put into this, makes it her masterpiece. Even without that background knowledge you immediately feel it. It is her most open and honest work to date and a must for fans of music.

I know I listened to other music in April, but to be honest I just don't recall.

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