Sunday, June 28, 2015


A Second Chance
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones) is Andreas, a detective with a wife and a young son, and a seemingly perfect life in this Danish thriller. His partner, Simon (Ulrich Thomsen) is divorced, drinking too much, and living a hard, messy life. From the outset if is easy to see the progression in their lives. Following up a report of domestic violence finds the pair investigating a junkie couple and their faeces and urine swaddled baby. Andreas, in particular, is horrified by what he witnesses, mostly as the young baby is roughly the same age as his son.
Following scenes from Andreas' life shows something may not quite be right, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then, in the middle of the night, Andreas is woken by the screams of his wife, Anna (Maria Bonnevie), as she tries to resuscitate their dead son. It is too late, and appears he has died from SIDS during the night. Anna is beyond bereft and refuses to let Andreas call an ambulance, as they will take her son away. Andreas pleads and tries to calm her, finally giving her some sedatives to calm her and eventually sleep.
And then the movie turns.
Andreas takes his dead son, he sits in the carpark of the hospital, deranged and confused, he calls Simon, his partner, but Simon is drunk and dismisses the call. Andreas then decides to do something so devastating, that you just cannot believe it. The consequences of these actions set the audience on a horrifying journey that goes from worse to worse, and with each horrifying action, another consequence arises. And just when you think there could surely be not more twists or turns, another attacks you. Bam!
I have never been in a theatre where the audience (and it was a large audience) was so quiet. Not a rattle of a chip packet, not a blow of the nose, not a breathe, not a movement.
I think we were all shell shocked.
It finally ends up being Simon, who pieces the puzzle together and works out what is going on with Andreas. By this stage, you are prepared for the absolute worst, but Simon helps Andreas out of his dilemma and in a role reversal, saves the day. This is not giving anything away, it would have been a relief to know this during the section I have intentionally not mentioned.
There is no denying this is a rough film to watch, horrifying, gut wrenching, almost unbelievable at times. Yet, because it is so well written, so incredibly well acted, you believe every single moment, and even understand the lengths that Andreas goes to to restore his life as he knew it. As someone who cries easily in film, I never shed a tear, this was a different kind of upset.
It is a film about good versus bad, blurred lines, and what people can do when forced into impossible situations. To recite the exact storyline is a little surreal, to watch it is another thing altogether.


Kaakkaa Muttai or The Crow's Egg
This was a great family film about two young brothers growing up in the slums of India. Their mother and grandmother are working hard to keep the family going while their Dad is in prison. He is also unwell, with TB, and there is a cost to keep him in medication. The boys are taken out of school and 'work' during the day, scrambling along the rail line trying to find pieces of coal which they get money for. This sounds like a depressing film, but whilst the family is undergoing hardship, there is love, beauty, and laughter. These kids are having the time of their life.
It's a perfect film to show children about other cultures, the differences and the similarities, without it being too dramatic of forceful.
The boys are excited to see a pizza place take shape in the better part of their neighbourhood, and are tempted by the promotion of this delicious looking food. But pizza is expensive and if they want this dream to come true, they will have to work extra hard to make more money. And so a funny and poignant journey begins for these two young scallywags. The film follows their days, the scrapes and adventures they get into, and the people the meet: poor, homeless, drunks, wealthy, kind, mean, all walks of life in this small community.
The film also showed us something I have never seen before, warnings that popped up on screen every time someone was smoking or drinking, explaining how alcohol and cigarettes were harmful. It was slightly distracting, seeing this watermark appear on the bottom left of the screen each time, but also very amusing.
It is shot with a perfect mix of pathos, drama, and humour. It opens your eyes to the disparages of wealth in these communities and the way the less wealthy financially live, but yet they seem more wealthy from a happy and cared for perspective. It is confronting in parts, but it also shows the traditions of different cultures and also how people are people, no matter what their circumstances are.
The boys finally make the money they need for pizza, and proudly turn up to partake in this seemingly amazing place, but things don't go according to plan. The story takes a turn, again, perfectly portrayed through drama and humour, and the ending isn't what you would expect at all.
The film shines through the two young actors portraying the brothers, their beautiful smiles makes you realise there is more to life than money and things, and that experiences, especially those shared, amount to a lot more happy than we realise.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


May moved fast, almost half the year has gone.

I was busy as usual, but had a slower paced social calendar which gave me more time to catch up on reading and viewing.

I've had a bad foot (which in turn threw my entire right side out of whack) and this made getting out and about to walk or exercise a little difficult, but I started seeing an Osteopath and that really helped. I also decided mid month to get a new car before the rego on my old one ran out, so that took some time and organisation for the delivery mid June.

Work has been busy with training, projects, and Library and Information Week where we had schools visit for stories and raised money for the Cancer Council with the Biggest Morning Tea. And we entertained the oldies with Brokeback Mountain at our After Hours Movie Night, and they loved it. And it goes without saying we celebrated May The Fourth.

The month started with the new Carl Caulfield play, Where Late The Songbird, a dramedy about the life of Shakespeare upon his retirement, and dealing with family and life away from the theatre. It was well acted and an interesting premise, but could have been a bit more evenly distributed with comedy and drama, as the words really shone when witty. The play was preceded by the most amazing lamb risotto at The Clarendon, and the company of M.

C, E and I headed to the Civic for the second year running to see the APIA concert. This time Joe Camilleri, Kate Ceberano, Brian Cadd, and Glenn Shorack. I've seen Camilleri many times and he was good as always. Ceberano was lovely but should definitely stick to the jazz/blues side of her repertoire rather than the pop, as it suits her voice better. Cadd was surprisingly good, but it was Shorack I was there to see, and he was outstanding. A consummate performer, he treated us to a range of Little River Band songs and I went away smiling. We also had a lovely meal at The Clarendon prior.

I watched my niece and nephew play soccer, went to the markets, caught the Oils Exhibit at the Newcastle Museum, Art Bazaar at LMAG, celebrated P's 40th, had lunch at MoneyPenny, SoulFoods, Cazador, Caves Beach Hotel, and Awaba House. I also did back to back morning teas with C and T at Qs Cafe and Caves Beach Hotel on a rainy Friday morning.

I saw When We Were Young and A Chance Encounter (as part of the French Film Festival) at the movies.

When We Were Young was the latest film by Noah Baumbach. About an older couple, Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, who become friends with a young, hipster couple, Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. It was an amusing look at lifestyle today, young versus old, hipsters, and keeping things fresh. As both Stiller and Driver were documentary film makers, the underlying theme was truth verus reality, and it was all fascinating to watch and see unravel on screen. Baumbach always nails people, and as usual he was on the money. All performances, especially Stiller who I find shines in these melancholy roles, were great. This is a fun film, but it will also make you think. Which, to me, is the perfect combination.

A Chance Encounter (also called Quantum Love) starred the fabulous Sophie Marceau and the debonair Francois Cluzet. The film was very interesting, and had you squirming as the married Pierre keeps running into the single Elsa, and they have quite the chemistry. But will they disturb their lives and go for it...or not. The film keeps you guessing and was incredibly clever with a killer soundtrack! It's difficult to say more without giving away what happens, but it's a very French film and worth seeing.

The highlight of the month was seeing Daniel Johns at the Opera House with A, L, and K. It was crazy driving into Sydney but we got to see a bit of Vivid before hitting the Deep Purple Pool Bar, a pop-up bar at the back of the Opera Bar. But it was Daniel we were there to see and when we found out we had scored fourth row seats we were pretty excited. Daniel and his amazing band arrived on stage behind a mesh screen to much fanfare. Most of the songs were from his new album which I love and it's clear (to me) he has been inspired, at times, by Prince. He also did a few Silverchair songs but it's also clear he's very keen to leave that image behind.

The mesh screen dropped in the middle of the second song which was a relief. Knowing how shy he can be I was a little worried we would have to endure it the whole concert. And what I loved the most was how relaxed and pumped he was to be on that stage delivering to us who he really was a joyous thing to behold and he really is the consumate performer. He talked to the crowd and sung directly to us in such a way, you felt appreciated and loved by him. I wouldn't have called myself a fan before but i think i might now. He played guitar, various electronic machines, and a theremin. And the final song of the night was an amazingly haunting yet rocking version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow!!

I also popped up a couple of stories on ABC Open for the subject of Grandparents, one on my maternal grandparents and one on my paternal grandparents.

And some pics for the month.

Monday, June 8, 2015


What I've Been Watching

Scandal S3 - this is a guilty pleasure, but this season was full of political intrigue, murder, drama, double dealings, twists, and turns. It does feel like each season outdoes the one previous. The whole Olivia is in love with the president storyline is the least believable part of the show, he is so meh, I just don't get it. But the other characters are fascinating.

The Fall S2 - finally, S1 left us hanging, and S2 takes up right where we were left off. Gillian Anderson is outstanding in this edge of your seat psychological thriller. What I love about The Fall is as a viewer you are ahead of the investigators and know everything that is happening, maybe not why, but definitely what. So you are waiting for them to catch up or catch the serial killer. It is rough in parts, but so addictive! Very much worth watching. Did I say how good Gillian Anderson is??

The Real History of Science Fiction - this was a fun series about everything science fiction, from television to film to books and everything in between. Loads of amazing interviews, footage, and commentary about everything including Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Back to the Future, Neil Gaiman, Alien, you name it. Highly recommend. My inner geek shone through watching this, I was in heaven.

Antiques Roadshow - I do love this show, this particular DVD set was when presenters go on a road trip for a week, two at a time, and start with 200 pounds. Each day they purchase 5 items and auction them off in the afternoon, at the end of the week the presenter with the most money 'wins'. They drive around the Uk, you get to see stunning scenery, at least one historical building or museum per trip, and wonderful old pieces.

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet - about a young boy who is an ace scientist and inventor. T.S. lives on a farm with his sister and twin brother, and his eccentric parents. The Smithsonian wants to see him after he sends off an invention, they do not realise he is a child, and TS escapes on an adventure to get to the museum. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet of Amelie and Delicatessan fame, this is not as quirky as them but still unusual. Helena Bonham-Carter plays his mother. A nice family movie.

Chef – directed and starring Jon Favreau this is a fun story about a divorced dad who starts up his own food van for gourmet food after being sacked from his restaurant. Great music, delicious food, and outstanding cast, it's not a great movie, but it's pretty good and loads of fun.

Still Life - unusual little British film about a man who works in a department that sees to people's affairs when they die and seemingly have no family. He is an investigator of sorts locating distant family of the deceased. In the middle of a complex investigation, and grappling with his own dull life, he finds he is made redundant. He is determined to finish this last investigation. This was a very quiet film, yet hypnotising, and saccharine. Not for everyone I guess, but it was interesting.

Healing - I enjoyed this Australian drama set in a minimum security prison, where some of the inmates work with large birds and train them. Starring Don Hany, Hugo Weaving, and a superb cast of Aussie men, this is worth a look.

Camille Claudel - Juliet Binoche is stunning in this film of Camille's last days at a mental asylum, after her affair with Rodin goes astray. The film is slow paced and at times painful, in subject matter and to watch. One for the fans only.

Renoir - about the last years of Renoir, his last muse, and when his son comes back from war. Lovely paced and stunning cinematography, each frame was like a work of art.

Predestination - I loved this film so much, it's a time travel film with a clever premise. The premise is detailed and to explain it would give away the intricate plotting of the film. And you want to discover the twists and turns as they happen. At times you feel a little confused trying to work out what is going on, but by the films end everything is very easy to understand. It is a wild ride, but hang in there, it is so worth it! Ethan Hawke is superb in this but the show is stolen by Aussie, Sarah Snook. There's a name and face to watch for in the future. 

What we do in the shadows - LOVED this fab NZ black comedy. Set in a share house for vampires in a mockumentary style, every line is a clanger but in the best possible way, I have never laughed out loud so much in a film for a long time. This ties with Predestination as a must see and my pick of the month.

Hail, Hail Rock and Roll - Chuck Berry documentary directed by Taylor Hackford and glorious to watch. It's about Chuck Berry, from 1987, and absolutely glorious to watch. Interviews with Keith Richards, Springsteen, Orbison, Little Richard, Clapton, Jerry Lee Lewis...the list goes on. Keith and Chuck are preparing for a concert, watching Chuck continually stop a seething Keith at rehearsals to ensure Keith gets his riffs right is the funniest thing I've seen. the interviews are interesting and enlightening, and the music superb. I cannot imagine anyone not liking this!

What I've Been Reading

Foreign Soil – Maxine Beneba Clarke – winner of the Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award 2013, Foreign Soil is a collection of short stories about African Women all over the world. From Villawood to Sudan to  Brixton to Jamaica to Sydney, the stories are heart wrenching, funny, and unexpected as they follow strong women trying to live in our world during various time periods. It is an outstanding collection, and the style of writing changes depending on the story which really helps shape the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot recommend it highly enough.

An innocent abroad: life changing trips from 35 great writers edited by Don George This is a Lonely Planet book. A whole range of interesting writers such as Sloane Crossley, Lloyd Jones, Alexander McCall Smith, Richard Ford, Simon Winchester, Jane Smiley and Cheryl Strayed and many more share their stories of adventure from all parts of the globe.

Lost at Sea: the Jon Ronson Mysteries by Jon Ronson This is an intriguing book of essays about things people believe in or get caught up in. To investigate this Jon jumps in the deep in with them. He goes alien chasing with Robbie Williams, goes to far away places where awful things have happened, cruises with people hoping to be enlightened on psychic cruises, gets caught up in the minutiae of Stanley Kubrick's life after his death, invents multiple personalities to get to the bottom of how people are targeted for multiple credit cards and so on. Some of the stories are hilarious, but some are quite sad. Ronson opens up and lets you into these people's lives and what they will do for a little piece of mind in what they think they believe in. Fascinating, I do love his writing and his slant on life.

French ties: love, life and recipes by Jane Webster - this is the follow up to the book I read last month, At my French Table, about the Melbourne family who packed up and bought a Chateau in France. They are moving back and forth between both homes now, and the house is being used at times as a guesthouse, for those wanting to experience living in country France. it is full of divine photos, tips, recipes and stories of the grand old place. Totally jealous!

Musings from the Inner Duck by Michael Leunig - this is the latest Leunig compilation. Full of melancholy, confusion, delight, poems, cartoons, and politics. Everything you love about this National Treasure and more.

Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly Told in the grand dame's words (as such when there is an other writer listed!) and what a life this magnificent woman has led. I've always been a huge fan of her work and art, her attitude and her strength. There was loads of insight into the fashion world, the Sex Pistols, London during that time, and of course the woman herself. There has been many biographies about Vivienne, but this was a whopper to read, with a lot of unknown information. Also a great deal of stories about her activisim, which is lesser known here, but quite grand overseas, in fact she is more well known for that these days than fashion. It's truly lovely to read about your heroes and find more ways to love them.

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming This is the most insightful and yet dark memoir by the actor and singer. It takes a very dark period of his life and lays it out bare, with supporting information from his childhood and growing up. Alan was approached to do the show Who Do You Think You Are, and it unravelled a whole lot of unknown family history. But what people didn't know was he was finding out a whole lot of other family history in the most traumatic way at the very same time. Mostly connected with his relationship with his father, this is real life twists and turns, and the most remarkable read. It is quite dark in parts, but so beautifully written, so cannot put it down. One of the best memoirs I have read.

My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac by Mick Fleetwood - This was a fun read, but to be honest told me nothing too much new. Let's face it, everyone knows the whole incestuous nature of Fleetwood Mac and there is not much left to tell. It is obvious he has very high regard for each and every Fleetwood Mac member, especially Stevie, and he writes a lot about them meeting, working together etc. There is a bit of musicology within in the book, but I wanted more. When a good muso writes a book, I want music, not gossip, although I guess it's the later that sells books. But this isn't bad, just not as good as it could have been.

The Dress: 100 iconic moments in fashion by Megan Hess - this was so gorgeous, I cannot begin to tell you. Megan has selected 100 looks, from classic designs by famous designers, to icons of fashion and the the dresses they wore, musicians, filmstars, Oscar dresses, wedding dresses. Simply a stunning array of clothing from history. Megan illustrates each design in the most delightful way with a page of words describing each piece. This was sheer delight.

What I've Been Listening To

The Best of the Little River Band - lol, I guess this is a little daggy, but I do not care. After seeing Glenn Shorack perform on the APIA tour, I was in LRB mode for a week or so. Driving along blasting LRB as loud as I could, their arrangements are stunning, the guitar work perfection, go have a listen before you judge my friends! It's A Long Way There is a masterpiece. I don't care for Johnny Farnham much and what a sacrilege when he joined the band in place of Glenn, however even his songs were pretty good.

Exits - Steve Smyth - this is nowhere as good as seeing him live, there is something almost mystical about his live performances that just do not seem to translate on his album. But the album is still supremely brilliant.

Talk by Daniel Johns released one week before I saw him live, I had the album on loop leading up to the Opera Hosue gig. And what a great album it was. I quite liked Silverchair, but would never have called myself a fan, never saw them live. But Johns as a solo artist is rather interesting. The album is more dance/pop and it is obvious he has been listening to a lot of newer Prince, cause a few of the songs on the album remind me of him. This is really worth listening to.

First Aid Kit - everything, they are my new favourite band. Yeah, I am late to the party. My first experience was hearing their cover of America on one of the final Letterman shows. This lead me down a rabbit hole of youtube. My friend J says she played a song ages ago of them, I am sure I loved it but have minimal recollection. This rabbit hole had originals and amazing covers, including Chiquitta, Waterloo Sunset, Walk the line and the list goes on. I headed to mecca (JB) and bought all three albums and have had them on loop ever since. First Aid Kit are sisters from Sweden, with the most delicious harmonies, a little bit Simon and Garfunkal, a little bit country, a little bit pop. Shows how out of it I am, I was telling my day about them, knowing he would like them. He asked me the name of the band again, I told him. He told me he has heard them on the radio, and that they've been around a while. Sisters from Sweden he asks me. Sigh, Dad has always been switched on musically, and yet again he beats me again.