Monday, December 7, 2015


What I've been Watching

Paddington - this kids movie is actually pretty good. With Nicole Kidman as the villain, Sally Hawkins, and Hugh Bonneville as the humans who rescue him from Paddington Station. Ben Whishaw is his voice, amongst a cast of great British actors in small parts. It's witty, clever, and fun for all ages.

Boychoir -  was as sappy and miscast as the trailers for it looked, I didn't finish watching it. Fingernails down a chalkboard and I think I fell asleep.

Nicholas on Holidays -  a cute family French film, about a young boy on holidays with his family. Set in the 50s (but a modern movie) it has borrowed a little from Mr. Hulot's Holiday and at times is Felliniesque. Shenanigans on the beach and Italian film sets and incredibly funny.

Strangerland - an Australian film with Nicole Kidman and Jpseph Fiennes as parents of a young family who have moved to an outback town under odd circumstances. Their young children go missing, and they enlist local cop (Hugo Weaving) to assist finding them. This is a very unsettling film and is well presented and acted, it'll have you guessing! Def my pick of the month.

Devil's Play ground - 1977 movie and new mini series - both were well constructed and acted, and around the awful backdrop of child molestation and the Catholic Church. Harrowing at times, and surely shows how nothing much has changed over the year, except we're onto the carry on now. Shame on them!

Homeland S4 - it took me a while to get into this and I thought it had well and truly jumped the shark, but the action get moving about 2/3 the way through and is edge of your seat stuff with fine acting from all as usual. The ending lacked severely, and whilst I think it is nowhere near the heady heights of the first 2 seasons I guess I will watch S5 at some point!

Big Bang S8 - a guilty pleasure, I love the nerdy stuff, critics say the laughs are at the boys not with them, I'm not sure and that it is misogynistic, this is possibly true, but you know it is a good escape so I try not to overthink it too much.

Kitchen Cabinet with Annabel Crabb
I only caught some of these when they were on TV so watched Seasons 1-4 and just loved them. Annabel is so refreshingly and kind and feisty and intelligent with a wardrobe to kill for and a dessert playlist that defies imagination.

I want to be her when I grow up.

Every single episode is interesting and compelling, even the spine chilling ones like Abbott, Pyne, and Palmer. 

Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud
I do love this series and it’s saucy host, there is something about Kevin! Up to S12 and fascinating as always, especially the house built on the water and the round house, I do love curves in architecture.

What I've been reading

Barracuda - by Christos Tsiolkas, this was our bookclub choice to end the year, and what a ripper read it was. About a young Olympic hopeful, whose life is made at the pool every day, yet he just does not fit into his surrounds, school, etc. Set in two timelines, before the Olympics and after, and you know something terrible has happened somewhere in there and the timelines will collide at some point and all will be revealed. It's a great plot device and works well, builds the tension, helps turns the pages. There are many layers to the book, relationships, teen behaviour, Australians, racism, family, love, violence, expectations and more. Probably Christos' most accessible book to date and maybe, just maybe, there is a little but of Thorpie in the lead character...but yo'd need to read it to agree.

The Dressmaker - by Rosalie Ham. Having seen the movie I wanted to read the book. it is a great book, but extremely flawed, by god they had a superb screenwriter to pull out the script they did. It is mostly the same as the book but far more coherent and with less characters and more deeply drawn ones at that. Some of the timelines are played with slightly and that is also for the better. But the essence of the movie is on the page, totally worth a read.

There Goes Gravity - by Lisa Robinson. Lisa is the music editor for Vanity Fair, so I have been reading her bits for years. She started young writing in the late 60s for music mags. SHe toured with Led Zeppelin and then The Rolling Stones and is on a first name basis with many many rock stars. She introduced Lou Reed to David Bowie, in fact knew Lou and Laurie very well. The spent a lot of time with The Clash and that crowd, and also assisted people like Annie Leibovitz on her famous music shoots for VF. It is a memoir of sorts and an interesting one, certainly a huge name dropper but it is very much all over the shop and snippets of this leading to snippets of that. Easy to dip in out of but not so easy to read cover to cover. Enjoyable all the same.

Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink - by Elvis Costello. This by far was the highlight of my intake this month. I listened to it on Audiobook in the car, lent generously to me by my very good friend V. Elvis reading his own words, I cannot begin to tell you how delectable this is. His voice which ranges from low to high, gravely, to amusing, and just plain old sexy was a revelation to listen to.  His words even better, listen to his lyrics and you know the man can write, the book itself is prose of the highest order, very poetic and always lyrical, with a glint of humour and a hint of rhythm. And so much heart and soul I was bursting with every emotion you can think of the entire time I listened to it, but mostly I was smiling.

This is a book of details, the angry young man who says nothing persona has been swiped clear over the years and the stories of those times (and more) coming spilling out. But not in a linear way, he delivers those stories the way a comedian delivers a good stand up show. He starts at one point and goes off in logical tangents until he weaves his way back...sometimes chapters later. And it works so beautifully. He also places little bits of history, music and regular, throughout the book to provide a backdrop to the stories he is telling.

The stories about his father are by far the best, he was a jazz and swing musician, in the 50s when Big Bands were king and a star in his own right. these are intertwined throughout the book, and they feed into his own personal stories beautifully. The parts where his father is dying as the most moving I've read (listened to) and had me in tears.

Then there is his musical knowledge, I knew he was up on all sorts of music from all eras, but what he knows and holds in his heart and head is nothing short of amazing. I was constantly geeking out on the very intricate musical details. This is what all good music memoirs must contain, so many don't.

He doesn't spend a huge amount of time on the loves of his lives, but he writes so beautifully about them with detail albeit swiftly, you cannot help but wish you were one of them, even those that didn't come off as well as his current wife, Diana Krall (who I adored long before he hooked up with her, now I just wish I was her, not least for her unique jazz delivery, but for being the one who soothed this savage beast!).

And then there are the musicians he worked with, he is a name dropper in the humblest of ways.  Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Joe Strummer, Van Morrison, and Johnny Cash feature the most on and off in the book. I adore each and every one of them, and the stories are remarkable and quite often laugh out loud funny, especially those with Van and Bob.

Elvis also takes up through in some detail a lot of his hits or favourite songs, how they came to be, how he wrote them, and what they meant to him. Complete and utter genius. Even if you are not a fan - I am and even more so now - and you just love music, this book is so worth listening to or reading, you will not be disappointed. I am fairly certain it will be my book of the year!

What I've been Listening to

Grace by Jeff Buckley  - one of my favourite albums, I just pulled it out as sometimes you need Grace! It's perfection, every single song, and haunting. I wrote about Last Goodbye in my new series about Perfect Songs on my blog.

The Waifs new album - love, love, love, how can you not!!!

Roy Orbison - Elvis Costello wrote about appearing in this magical and special concert, so I pulled out my old DVD copy of it and watched it over and over, because it is brilliant. From there I wrote about Crying and why it hit the top three songs of all time for me!

George Harrison - been spinning the vinyl of the best of Georgie, and writing about What is Life.

Elvis Costello - also been listening to a lot of Elvis, funnily enough...

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