Sunday, February 28, 2016

OSCAR WATCH 2016: The Predictions

I'm not a fan of summer so what a great time of the year to be bombarded by fabulous films in the lead up to The Academy Awards. Disappearing out of the heat into the cool cinema with a choc top has to be my favourite thing to do. And this year, Oscar Watch 2016, has kept me busy indeed.
And I have really loved a lot of the films I saw which is going to make my predictions difficult this year, in fact it’s the first year in a long long time I am really unsure about many categories.

This year – like almost every other year – has been controversial, but that is a whole other post for a whole other time.
However, I really do hope Chris Rock will rise to the occasion and use the platform he has to shake things up. It is a shame others feel they have to boycott the whole experience, why have they not looked to their peers of days long gone. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Marlon Brando, and many others have added colour to the broadcast.

Last year I predicted 17 out 24 categories, which isn’t bad, better than my 15/16 average but not getting near my record of 20!
(NB. I only use my Who Will Win are the predictions as I do not always have a prediction for Who Should Win)

How will I do this year?
Stayed tuned after the event for my post blog wrap up!

Best Picture
I have seen seven of the eight films nominated. I missed Bridge of Spies. Never have there been so many films in contention that could win. So far it has been between Spotlight and The Revenant, but with The Big Short winning the Producer’s Guild Award and Mad Max: Fury Road hanging in there, there are possible upsets to be had. Early on I said Spotlight would win (it won for Best Ensemble Cast at The SAGs) , it is the most perfect film of the ones I saw. Personally I also loved The Martian, Trumbo, and Brooklyn. I am splitting differences and going with Spotlight for film and Revenant for director!
Who Will Win: Spotlight
Who Should Win: Trumbo or Spotlight
All worthy but The Revenant looked stunning and real and amazing, and that was before the bear scene.
Who Will Win: The Revenant
Who Should Win: The Revenant
Actor in a Leading Role
Some great performances in the field but it is Leo’s year, he has been passed for some terrific roles in the past, his best being What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. And this year he WAS superb, so no consolation prize. However I thoroughly enjoyed the nuanced dramatic AND comedic performances from both Matt Damon (The Martian) and Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), they were my faves. Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Redmayne (The Danish Girl) were great but no really in contention when you look at the other three.
Who Will Win: Leonardo Di Caprio
Who Should Win: Leonardo Di Caprio
Actress in a Leading Role
Brie Larson (Room) all the way, a stunning and heart breaking performance. If she wasn’t nominated it would be Cate (Carol) all the way. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) and Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) were great in their roles but no match for Brie and Cate. I adore Charlotte Rampling but she is the longshot, her performance in 45 Years was great, but I have seen her do far better elsewhere.
Who Will Win: Brie Larson
Who Should Win: Brie Larson
Actor in A Supporting Role
This is rough, all signs point to Sly (Creed), one of the few films I have not seen. I adored the original Rocky, this will be a sentimental win. My favourite is Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), he was superb. Tom Hardy (The Revenant) and Christian Bale (The Big Short) were great, but there have done far superior work elsewhere. I have not seen Bridge of Spies, so cannot comment on Mark Rylance
Who Will Win: Sylvester Stallone
Who Should Win:  Mark Ruffalo
Actress in a Supporting Role
Again a very strong field, everyone is predicting Alicia Vikander (the Danish Girl), but I think it could go to any of them. My favourite performances were Jennifer Jason Leigh  (The Hateful Eight) and Kate Winslett (Steve Jobs). But Rachel McAdams (Spotlight) and Rooney Mara (Carol) were also strong. 5 Oscars all round!!
Who Will Win: Alicia Vikander
Who Should Win:  Kate Winslett
Adapted Screenplay
Some great stories this year, and whilst I’d love my hero Nick Hornby to get up for Brooklyn, I do think The Big Short will win. This was a really delightfully entertaining film from a dry book about a dry subject matter, the script turned this into sheer delight despite of that.
Who Will Win: The Big Short
Who Should Win: The Big Short
Original Screenplay
This is between Spotlight – for turning a horrific story into a cracking thriller of a story – and Inside Out – a uniquely original story that appealed on all levels.
Who Will Win: Inside Out
Who Should Win: Inside Out
Foreign Language Film
I’ve seen none, but read about them. Son of Saul and Mustang seem the outstanding ones.
Who Will Win: Son of Saul
Animated Feature Film
I have only seen Inside Out which was remarkable, possibly should have been up for Best Picture. I know Anomalisa is getting a lot of hype.
Who will Win: Inside Out
It’s between The Revenant and Mad Max, but I think The Revenant will win.
Who Will Win: The Revenant
Who Should Win: The Revenant
Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing
This is where Mad Max comes in, technically it is marvellous.
Who Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Who Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Visual Effects
I loved the effects in Ex Machina, but I think Star Wars: The Force Awakens will win here.
Who Will Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Who Should Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Production Design
A whole other world was created for Mad Max. Whilst The Martian and The Revenant looked amazing and The Danish Girl reminded me of a collection of paintings filmed, Mad Max will deservedly win.
Who Will Win:  Mad Max: Fury Road
Who Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Costume Design/Make Up and Hairstyling
As gorgeous and sumptuous as Carol and Cinderella were (both with Cate Blanchett looking va va voom!) Mad Max is unique and original in it’s design and it’s Make Up and Hairstyling
Who Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Who Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Original Score
I loved the score for Carol and Star Wars is a lovely old favourite, but Ennio Morricone’s sweeping score for The Hateful Eight was perfect and lush and Ennio has never (quelle horreur) won!
Who Will Win: The Hateful Eight
Who Should Win: The Hateful Eight
Original Song
I don’t know a lot about the songs this year, I did a bit of reading, none really appeal, but I a figuring an 8th nomination (no wins) for Dianne Warren paired with Lady Gaga will probably take home the gold.
Who Will Win: Till it happens to you from The Hunting Ground
Documentary Feature
I have only seen Amy which was superb,  I have read about the others, and What Happened Miss Simone seems the closest contender.
Who will win: Amy
Documentary Short Subject
As always I rely on my research, which this year is minimal for the three short categories. So you know, I may as well roll a dice...
Who will win: Claude Lanzmann: Sprectres of the Shoah
Animated Short
Who Will Win: World of Tomorrow
Live Action Short Film
Who Will Win: Day One


Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Ahhh January, where did you go!?

Day one ended with a hamburger and a lovely sunset.

Day two a fab day in the city, indulging and wandering about with the gorgeous C.

My new car suffered an injury, a flat tyre, quelle horreur!
I had one of those perfect days, where I walked and walked at Warners Bay and read in the sun, then headed out for a lovely evening with J seeing Suffragette and indulging in our favourite, Saigon Feast.

And then Boom, David Bowie dies and the year isn't exactly feeling shiny anymore.

But life marches on...
We entertained the kids at work by way of Star Wars, everyone had a galaxial time.

We had first movie night of the year at work, and first date of the year...not at work!
I began Oscar Watch and saw The Revenent, The Big Short, Joy, The Danish Girl, The Hateful Eight, and Carol.
I saw Sedaris at The Civic, and also Steve Smyth up close and personal with my gals.

I helped C and B celebrate milestone birthdays at Sephardim.

Later in the month I had a proper look at the Mambo exhibit and met C for a talk of the irreverence of art hosted by HG Nelson. It was brilliant.

Wild was the first book for Bibliotweeps for the year, huge turn out, loads of great discussion and a little online banter with the author herself.
I dined for one on Scotties and caught up with Catapult dance with A, L and S.

And some photos from around and about.

Monday, February 22, 2016

OSCAR WATCH 2016: Four Films

This is a sweet but powerful film. Set in the 50s Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) leaves Ireland for Brooklyn at the wishes of her older sister. She is young and innocent and nervous but soon finds herself settling in with a job in a department store, study at night, friends, and a lovely Italian beau. Her new world is charming and perfect. When her sister unexpectedly dies she knows she must go home and see her mother. Once home, she is manipulated into staying longer and strikes up a friendship with another man. But which world does she belong to, she has some heart wrenching choices to make.
Brooklyn, based on Colm Tobin’s novel, but adapted by the brilliant Nick Hornby is a beautiful sweeping story of one lovely girl and her growth into a woman, which sound so very cliched but it is anything but.
The film feels warm and looks sublime, the soundtrack haunting. The acting is superb, it is just simply a lovely film. You almost feel as if you are there with her in the 50s, the costumes are just divine. I loved this film and it’s old fashioned sensibilities so very much.
Brooklyn is nominated for 3 Oscars for Best Film, Actress, and Screenplay.
I do not think it will fair well, but that is nothing to be ashamed of, this is a great film.
45 Years
This is another old fashioned film. The film focuses on the week leading up to a couple’s 45th Wedding Anniversary party. The couple, Geoff and Kate Mercer, are played by the gorgeous Tom Courtenay and the divine Charlotte Rampling. The couple live in the country and have a loving idyllic lifestyle. Kate is younger than Geoff, and he has had heart problems with their 40th party being interrupted.
45 years is slow moving, concentrating on the lovely nuances of a couple deeply at peace and still in love with each. It is lovely to see such a relationship on the screen. Courtenay looks handsome and rugged, and Rampling as sexy as ever. But something from Geoff’s past, his past before Kate, turns up during that week and may ruin everything they have. It is a significant thing, but not sinister, it causes little ripples that you see so plainly before the characters even realise what is happening. This is due to the gentle and beautiful direction of the film.
Courtenay is great in this role, but the film is all Rampling! She is magnificent! This is not her best role, I have seen her in much better roles, but she is very good and this is really worth seeing.
45 Years is nominated for 1 Oscar for Charlotte Rampling, she won’t win, which is a shame, but it is nice to nominated
Mad Max: Fury Road
I missed this at the cinemas, to be honest not really my thing. I caught it up on DVD and I really wish I had seen it on the big screen. It was great, I could take or leave the story and the action as such, but it was beautifully shot and the girls were magnificent. This was a kick arse feminist movie and I was down with that. Charlize Theron and her group were great, hard nosed, and action oriented, so nice to see women taking on these roles!
The cinematography was outstanding, the colours, the hues the blue and black imagery, the sky and the sand. It looked astonishingly good. The choreography of all those machines on the desert, it was great.
Tom Hardy was also great, but really this was Charlize’s film and what a shame she was not nominated, sacrilege!

Fury Road is nominated for 10 Oscars, Best Picture, Direction, Cinematography, Film Editing, Costume Design, Make Up and Hair, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Production design.
My thoughts are it will clean up the technical awards but not Picture or Director.
The Martian
I also caught The Martian on DVD and loved it. This is a great film and Damon is astonishingly good. I have always loved Damon, but he is really superb in this. It’s his film!

So the story is Damon is part of a crew on Mars, a storm hits and they decide to leave after a colleague is killed (Damon). The thing is he is not dead, so he has been left behind on this inhospitable planet with rescue possibly 4 years away at best. The story is mostly how Damon deals with this tragedy; with rage, humour and everything in between and how those back on earth try to resolve this debacle.
It is a great cast, with Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The scenes on Mars are totally believable, and whilst some of the other space bits seem a little far fetched you go with it, it works.
This film made me laugh and cry and be right on the edge of my seat in terms of thriller, none of it felt manipulative and it was tremendously entertaining! It also has a great soundtrack, mostly 70s tune, including Bowie and Disco tunes.
The Martian is nominated for 7 Oscars, Best Picture, Best actor, Screenplay, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Production.

My thoughts are it is nice to be nominated. On any other year Damon might stand a chance, but not this year.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

OSCAR WATCH 2016: Four Films

SpotlightThere is no doubt the subject matter of this film is heavy and awful. However it is not completely heartbreaking. The subject matter is treated with the respect and dignity it deserves. The church, thankfully, not so much.
Spotlight is more about the investigative journalism team that are working to uncover a story about abuse in the church. The story is more than they bargain for, and it plays out like a thriller that you know the ending of but are waiting for the characters to catch up with. It’s also a great companion piece to All The President’s Men, almost a homage to it in fact. Some shots within the film are almost taken straight from the Redford/Hoffman classic.
Firstly things unfold slowly, but as they do, you feel every little ripple and every little shock as the reporters do. None of this is new, but you cannot not be affected by it. By halfway through the film the ‘thriller’ is cracking, and you are just mad, mad, mad. The lies, the inaccuracies, the cover ups, it’s shocking and horrid and devastatingly revolting. Yet it walks a very fine line in terms of presenting the facts and not weighing it up too much. The subject matter is treated with utter respect and is not used in a saccharine way.
The ensemble cast is outstanding, with Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo being the stand outs.  But really the entire cast is spectacular as their real life counterparts must also have been.
Of course the church comes out as the baddie, that goes without saying. I’m not religious, so I cannot imagine how upsetting this must be for regular people who worship at a church. But I guess it is up to them to shine a light to the standard none of us should ever walk by.
Spotlight is the most perfect film of the Oscar season, without a word of a doubt. And it’s most probably the most important. What I found most shocking was not the crimes committed (that goes without saying) but the fact so many people helped cover these crimes. Other clergy, parishioners, reporters, and lawyers. What gives these people the right to let something so abhorrent continue!? Nothing is bigger than decency and treating people kindly.

Everyone should see Spotlight as a civic duty, but it will be – despite the subject matter – a pleasant duty!
Spotlight is up for 6 Oscars, Best Film, nods for McAdams and Ruffalo in supporting categories, Directing, Screenplay, Editing.
Early thoughts: Deserved of all categories it is nominated in
Steve Jobs
I didn’t know a lot about Steve Jobs going into the film, except he is a genius but rubbed people the wrong way. Yeah, he was a lot of an arsehole it turns out, as geniuses can often be. This was a highly entertaining film, especially given the subject matter. It was shot in a clever way, with most action having the backdrop of a product launch. The tumult and excitement of these events added to the high drama that was the life of Jobs. With each time movement, the launches would change, but the feel of the drama and the person not so much.
Fassbender was great in this role, but it was Kate Winslet that shone as his long suffering personal assistant, Joanna Hoffman. The rest of the supporting cast do a fine job, especially Jeff Daniels as John Sculley and Seth Rogan as Steve Wozniack.
But it was the words of Aaron Sorkin that steal the show, in fact the film showcases those fabulous walk and talks he made famous in The West Wing. Danny Boyle’s direction is also tidy and effective, especially in how he incorporates history and technology.

I learnt lots about Jobs and his early life and it left me wanting more. This is a highly entertaining film.
Steve Jobs is up for 2 acting Oscars for both Fassbender and Winslet.
Early thoughts Kate is very deserved of Best Supporting Actress, but that is a really tough field this year. 
Room is based on the best selling book by Emma Donoghue which was loosely based on the Austrian abduction case. I have not read Room, and braced myself when heading to see the film. It was really well done I must say and while very emotional, nowhere near as bad as I imagined.
The film is set in two halves, the first where Ma (I just realised as I typed this and looked up imdb to find out, you never know her name!) and Jack are hidden, and the second half once they are rescued.
So Jack and Ma are hidden in this teeny, disgusting room with a sky light. We later find out it is a garden shed. It is obviously sound proofed and time sealed locked. Their existence is one of repetition and boundaries, set my Ma, and by the physicality of the room. Ma’s love for Jack is deep and beautiful. Whilst this situation is horrific, there is beauty within and Ma does everything to ensure Jack is well looked after despite the circumstances and he thinks everything is perfectly normal. Sad as this sounds, it comes across beautifully.

As Ma decides it is time to make an escape, I found myself becoming quite anxious. This was heart wrenching stuff.
But it was after their escape, with them back in the arms of their family and struggling to fit into a world so foreign that I broke. This second half is rough, really rough...I think. But so beautifully acted it is worth it. Joan Allen and Tom McCanus are great supports but it is Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay’s film. Jacob was perfect and lovely and annoying and everything a 5 year old should be. But Brie Larson was luminous in a very non-luminous role. She held everything together, this film rests on her very strong shoulders and she is a star. I knew this already in her turn as Toni Collette’s daughter on United States of Tara.
I did want more from the second half, you never really know what Ma or her family think, it is not really articulated. William Macy as her estranged father makes a brief appearance and you want more. I get the book and film is from the child’s pov but I felt that took away from how powerful it could be.

Having said that, this is a stunning piece of film making and acting, very worthy but just remember to take a few hankies.
Room is nominated for 4 Oscars, Best film, screenplay, direction and Best Actress.
Early thoughts are all are worthy, but Brie is the only one who stands a chance, in fact I’d say she is a lock in.
Trumbo is my favourite of the Oscar films and the last I saw. I love this period of film and am well versed on the Hollywood Ten and their blacklisting. What a scrumptious film this is, filled with footage of the era, stars, writers, directors pottered throughout. I was in heaven, and it was well put together too. The set design, the costumes, the films, filmsets, musical scores!
It goes without saying that Bryan Cranston was outstanding, but he had such delicious material to work with. Dalton Trumbo was a genius, and eccentric, and a communist. Really he was a humanist I think. He turned out superb writing and his politics got him in trouble. He was banned from working in Hollywood, along with 9 other writers. Of course many people generally were targeted for similar beliefs at this time. It was awful and parasitic.

We follow Trumbo and his family, including wonderful turns by Diane Lane as his wife, and Elle Fanning as his eldest daughter. We are talking amazing intellectuals here. Of course, the studios are not allowed to employ Trumbo, but many producers soon realise they need a man of his considerable talents and hire him under a pseudonym. He ends up with 2 Oscars for Roman Holiday and The Brave One, but cannot collect them as no one knows it is him.
The supporting cast were wonderful, especially Lane, Fanning, John Goodman, Louis CK, Richard Portnow, Alan Tudyk, Helen Mirren, and Michael Stuhlbarg.
This was funny and joyous and frustrating and dramatic. Highly recommend.

Trumbo is nominated for 1 Oscar for Cranston and he should win but he will not. 1 Oscar nom, this I do not understand!!! Or maybe some of those old douches are still part of the academy, highly likely!!!

Monday, February 15, 2016


What I've Been Watching

Jurassic World - this was excellent, I really enjoyed seeing the World in action and the various Dinosaurs, the action was fast paced and edge of your seat stuff, I wish I'd seen it on the big screen

Lucky Them – this was a disappointing film, sounded good on paper. A music critic (Toni Collette) embarks on a journey to find out what happened to her first love who happened to be a great indie artist that disappeared. But it just fell flat, she was good, the story was interesting. Oliver Platt as her boss perfect, and Thomas Haden-Church as a quirky friend/filmmaker who goes along for the ride. But it just didn’t work.
Atlantic City – directed by the late, great Louis Malle, I loved this gritty film of gambling, drugs, and would be gangsters set against the infamous backdrop of Atlantic City. Susan Sarandon is a waitress trying to make it good for a better life in Monte Carlo, Burt Lancaster is her would be gangster neighbour. Situations arise and they find themselves together against it all. Malle delivers a gritty noir feel to the film, helped considerably by the crumbling Atlantic City at the time. Both Sarandon and Lancaster excel.

Suite Francaise – this was  a good adaptation of the popular book. Like the book, I found something lacking. The book itself was written by Irene Nemirovsky, a French author, who was captured and interned in Auschwitz where she died at 39. He daughter found what she thought were diary entries after the war and put them away unable to read them, in 1990 she did and found it was a book written during this period of WWII and it was published. I think this is where it is lacking, it is published as is, and I am sure it was only ever a first draft, not a fully realised book. The book was actually 2 of a proposed five novellas depicting war. An outline for the third was written, but only titles for the other two. Nonetheless it is a good story, depicting the life of people in the small town of Bussey in France. The movie takes most of its action from book two which is about a young woman (Michelle Williams) and her austere mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas) hiding a man from the Nazis. They also have a live in German soldier (Matthias Schoenaerts) who has an affair with the young woman.
Trishna – Michael Winterbottom is one of my favourite film makers, his diversity is amazing. Trishna is an Indian film, based on Tess of the d’Urbervilles with Freida Pinto in the Tess/Trishna character. It is beautifully filmed with lush interiors and slummy exteriors, and includes some Bollywood type sequences but it is Pinto’s stunningly tragic performance that raises this film.
Inside Out ­– I am not a fan of animation (have I said that here before? I either love some or hate them, there is no in between with me) but this I cannot begin to say how much I loved! Firstly, it is a great concept, unique in its vision and beautifully constructed/presented. Secondly, it just works on every level. I would imagine younger kids just appreciate the characters, colour, and humour. Older kids would start to get most, if not all of it, but I don’t think it would be too confronting, and adults, well adults like me, just get it. I loved the whole concept, and it made me smile and weep, boy did I weep. The voice casting was also note perfect. I immediately recognised Amy Poehler as Joy and she was perfection. And the wonderful Richard Kind as Bing Bong just about killed me, I loved his character so very very much. The rest I needed to look up, which is great, I hate really knowing the voice behind an animated character as it can take away from the experience. Phyllis Smith, Sadness, was particularly well cast also. I know everyone has seen this, but if you haven’t you must!

I am Big Bird: the Caroll Spinney Story - I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this documentary about the gentle and beautiful man that is Big Bird (and Oscar). The documentary tells Caroll’s life story, his sad childhood and early life, his being ‘discovered’ by Jim Henson and his initial struggle but lifelong love of Big Bird. We go behind the scenes at Sesame Street and see how they bring Big Bird to life, a remarkably physical role that Caroll is still playing at 80! There are interviews with key Sesame Street people, family, friends. Caroll is truly loved and many say he IS Big Bird. The love story that is Caroll and his wife is also told, and a few intriguing dark moments from his life. One is still giving me goosebumps. Caroll and Sesame Street were approached by NASA for Big Bird to go into space as part of their educational program, to inspire kids about space. Caroll was initially scared and unsure but eventually said yes. But NASA realised Big Bird was just too big to fit into the space shuttle. Which is funny, until you realise Big Bird was replaced by a female teacher and that particular space shuttle was Challenger!!! Caroll is a firm believer of documenting life, so the filmmakers were lucky to have much old footage to draw from when putting this together. It’s funny, melancholy, and simply a beautiful film. For the child in all of us – you must see this!
Slow Train Around Africa – this lovely travel series hosted by Griff Rhys Jones takes him on a journey of the train systems around Africa. At times bleak, but mostly upbeat and interesting, Griff shows the more fascinating side of Africa.
Walking the Nile – A more subdue documentary, showing a very real and edgy Africa. This documents explorer Levison Wood as he becomes the first man to walk the entirety of The Nile River. This means trudging through awful areas of Africa, mean and dry land, war torn areas, areas thriving on thievery and pirating, dangerous animals, and even more dangerous people. As an ex-solider Lev is pretty level headed about most of the situations, but he comes unstuck many times during the 9 month journey which has quite a bit of real drama and tragedy attached to it. But it’s a must see doco.
Redesign My Brain S2 – This is the second season of this unusual documentary with the affable Todd Sampson. This time all roads leading to a high wire walk, whilst the tasks leading up to this were interesting, it was this last task that had my full attention. Firstly as I am a huge fan of Philippe Petit, the French highwire walker and secondly I am terrified of heights, so the brain talk to overcome this intrigued me...I highly doubt it would have worked on me. I won’t give away anymore, but it is really worth checking out!
Hiding – I missed this thrilling Australian drama when it showed on television, but was immediately drawn to this misfit family in witness protection.
Sons of Anarchy S6/Final Season – the penultimate season of this fave. It begins, as always, slow and builds and builds until you just cannot stop watching it. Shakespearian in story, redneck in acting, but truly stunning to watch. Dirty and violent for sure, but hey Shakespeare was too. This season contains more twists and double crossing than ever and feats of jaw dropping foul. As always Maggie Siff (Tara) and Katey Sagal (Gemma) stand out with raw, edgy performances. Keen to see how this saga ends!

And it was stunning! Shakespearean as always, Sutter really lifted his game in this final season. Deaths a plenty and superb storylines for supporting cast members. You know the entire series was working towards this end, and it delivered, brutally and majestically. I never would have thought I’d love a series about bikie gangs, but I bloody loved this. So very much, mostly due to great writing and superb acting. It’ll be missed.
Humans – a compelling and provocative series from the BBC, about cloned robotic ‘help’ that is set in the near future. Starring Katherine Parkinson (IT Crowd) as a lawyer who is overworked and against her wishes her husband purchases one of the robots, Anita, to assist around the house. Lines are blurred and some creepy things start to happen. Something is not quite right with Anita. Around Britain, weird things are happening with some of the robots, and people are on high alert. Meanwhile Doctor Millican (William Hurt) is acting suspiciously and his very old robot is also not behaving as it should. What is going on? I really loved this, we’ve all had dreams about a robot coming in to help, but where do we start and finish with such things and what really would be the impact on our lives. Humans explores this and more. Part sociology, part fantasy, part thriller, Humans is must see.
The Escape Artist – this is a British three-parter starring David Tennant from a few years back. He is Barrister notorious for getting everyone off, when he gets a possible killer off things start to unravel in his life and he takes unusual steps to right the wrongs. This is a typical murder thriller, raised by a great turn from Tennant.

Penny Dreadful S1  - I am very late to the party here, but I just loved this Victorian Fantasy series. Based on all the Victorian book characters, Frankenstein, his monster, Van Helsing, Dorian Gray, Dr Jekyll etc, and including witches, vampires, and séances. The story revolves around Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton in a great turn!), explorer of Africa, and his quest to find his daughter. Assisted by Vanessa Ives (Eva Green – she is EVERYTHING in this role!) who is very complex with much to hide. They are joined by Ethan Chandler (played with wonderful guts and whimsy by Josh Hartnett) an American cowboy of sorts, that is also more than meets the eye. This first series sets up the lost daughter plot and several other smaller subplots. All these characters interact with each other like a jigsaw being clicked together, things unravel and reveal as the season finishes. Apparently S2 is even better!

The Family Law – this is a fabulous local series from the hilarious book by Benjamin Law. The casting is perfect, and it’s lovely to see an Asian family in a comedy in prime time. This is every family, although the Mum, Jenny, is not every Mum. She is the standout character, although the young Ben is beautifully portrayed. I cannot recommend this show highly enough

X-Files – and so they are ba-ack!!! The first two episodes seemed immense, but brilliantly so, how wonderful to see Mulder and Scully back on our screens, old friends. By episode 3, things were in full swing. It feels like no time has gone since we last saw them. The intensity, the weirdness, the strange and eerie, the humour, the melancholy, all back with the very same introduction.  

What I’ve Been Reading

Bone of Fact by David Walsh and The Making of Mona by Adrian Franklin – I guess these are companion pieces, a memoir by the man and a book about his museum, but both are more than that, they show everything it takes to build an icon and be a builder of an icon. And how each little flicker or nuance in a large life can build towards something quite monumental. I’ve yet to visit Mona, but it’s atop my must do in Australia list.

Audrey at home by Luca Dottit – this was a lovely small sized coffee table type book by her son about her life as her knew it and her love of cooking with recipes etc. I found his tone a little, no one really knew my mother but I did, which does make sense but i felt he was trying to prove a point somehow. Nonetheless this was a nice book with some insight.

From the Heart: a collection from Women of Letters curated by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire – this is another volume of letters from this wonderful live experience. Featuring a range of interesting people from Australia and beyond. My favourite by far was Chris Taylor writing a letter to someone who impacted his life, a girl he met and sort of fell in love with 15 years earlier during a long and unexpected road trip/lift home from a party. It was beautiful, and heart wrenching, and left me all misty eyed. Also a fabulous chapter of Letters to my other half – with letters between interesting couples, not necessarily romantic couples, although they are there. I was lucky enough to see this in the flesh at the Sydney Writer’s Festival a few years back.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed – this is the first book club book of the year and what a remarkable one at that. I saw the film last year, not normally something that would take my fancy, but it did and the book even better. Cheryl, takes on the Pacific Crest Trail, in a effort to gain some control and meaning back in her life. The journey is remarkable, but the inner dialogue even more so. The book takes you deeper into Cheryl’s more intimate thoughts and musings and is a wonder. It is fascinating and admirable, and the book is a page turner. 

What I’ve Been Listening to

25 by Adele – the more I listen to this, the more I love it. Her power in words and vocals is simply stunning. Everyone knows it, you don’t need me to tell you!

Bowie - it goes without saying my playlist this month has been fuelled by Bowie, all Bowie, all the time...I have no words. If you need me to describe his music, the joy, the beauty, the perfection...well, you don't know music and you can't be my friend!

BOWIE: Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry

It’s been just over a month and I’m still bereft...and I know I’m not alone. Every day a new article or video clip turns up online, some make me smile, some make me misty eyed, and some just make me sob like a baby.
And that’s ok I think. Grief is a weird thing, it’s difficult to get rid of. And is it really right to get rid of it? I’ve always been a great believer in letting tears flow, it keeps your heart and soul in check. I still cry for my beloved Pop, almost two decades after his passing. Which I guess makes sense, as he was my grandfather and we were close and I loved him.
So why tears for someone you never even met, and surely would have never known? I cannot recall ever grieving in this way before, it’s a little disconcerting. Yet it is there, real and raw.
His death took me – and most of the world – by surprise. That night I was down for the count I don’t mind saying, those first few days numb, and I cried a lot during that first week. The pain has certainly eased since then but it is still there.
On that first awful night I asked a friend why it hurt so much, her response was because he was everything and she was so very correct.
Bowie WAS everything, but until his death you just didn’t really know exactly how everything he was.
I realise with the exception of family, a few close friends, and The Beatles, he was one of my longest and closest ‘friends.’
We first ‘met’ when I was 9. Actually it is highly likely we met prior to that, but my first memory of him is 9. I was watching Countdown as always, and the film-clip to Ashes to Ashes came on. I was immediately drawn to it, despite Bowie was a clown (I don’t like clowns). That amazing song, and that bizarre film-clip rocked my tiny little mind. I recall sitting close to the television (and being yelled at to move back) almost like he was drawing me in. In fact, whenever I see the film-clip for Video Killed the Radio Stars, the little girl drawn to the tele reminds me exactly of that.
Whilst I loved Ashes to Ashes it didn’t make me a fan.  A few years later Dad was given a cassette of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. He had friends who he exchanged music with. They all had great taste, as did he. Ziggy was on one side and I cannot recall what was on the other side. But I played Ziggy constantly and just loved it. It remains my favourite album of his to this day. My favourite tracks were Starman and of course Ziggy, they have become my absolute favourites over the years.
And then Let’s Dance hit. Now I know this is Bowie lite, but you have to remember what a big deal it was at the time, especially in Australia. He shot film-clips here and toured and was constantly chatting to Molly on Countdown. It was Bowie all the time everywhere, and I loved it. Modern Love was my favourite track. Let’s Dance made me whine until I got my first pair of red shoes, and have always had at least one pair of red shoes ever since. I was 12 turning 13, it shaped my entry as a teenager, much as Starman had to teenagers early in the 70s. Let’s Dance was the first vinyl album I bought with my own money. It’s still one of my prized possessions.
I had some of his other albums on cassette, all played within an inch of their life and long gone now. I actually realised with his passing how poor my Bowie collection was, a handful of CDs and 4 on vinyl. I am rectifying that.
So I became that obsessive teenager, and Bowie was up there of course. I begged to go to the Serious Moonlight tour, there were tears and shouting, but I was too young. Sorrow and Rebel Rebel were my favourite songs during that period. I played them often and on rotation, how painful for those around me. I cut clippings and obsessed about Bowie’s hair (so perfect) and cool baggy suits (so 80s) and how he would be my boyfriend. Of course, being the straight innocent young girl I was, I had no freaking idea about his personas. Well I knew what they looked like but it really didn’t mean anything to me as such, lol. I just thought he was cool, and that’s how cool people were.
So he was always there, always on high rotation, my friend who sang the songs I loved. Of course as a music lover I had other loves during those years, but he really was the one continual force.

When I began full-time work in the library, my very first friend and colleague who was kind to me was the lovely Nolene. Once she knew I loved Bowie we became firm friends and I then knew compared to Nole, I knew nothing about Bowie! She had been a fan from the get go, had seen him live many times and also met him more than once, getting autographs etc. She collected memorabilia, and knew all these interesting facts. She even stayed with Cherry Vanilla when she was in New York on holidays back in the day. She was part of the early Bowie fanclub in Australia. I was beyond impressed and knew we would be friends for life. We still are.
Over the years my love for him grew. I then had access, through the library and earning money, to books, magazines, and the music. And of course Nolene’s encyclopaedic knowledge. I didn’t care as much for his music post late 80s, it didn’t seem to have the edge of his earlier stuff.
The one thing that was missing for me was the live experience and he remained on top of my must see live list for many years until finally in February 2004 there I was with Nolene and her husband Vince at the Sydney Entertainment Centre absolutely beside myself with excitement. What a night it was, a mix of new and old songs. There were so many faves he didn’t play, with a back catalogue as large as his how can you play everything. Sure there were songs I would have loved to hear, but I didn’t care. I was just thrilled to be there, in the great man’s presence. In fact as I whispered to Nole after his opening song, Rebel Rebel, “if I died now, I would die very happy.” In was a great night and re-invigorated my love for him.
I’ve written a lot about Bowie, but never this live experience. I just have never had the words, how do you describe seeing your hero live after all those years. All I can say it made me weep and gave my goosebumps, and he was perfection. I know I was lucky as he has never been back, and now will never ever be back.
I recently had the pleasure of revisiting that concert as such at the wonderful Regal Theatre, they did showed the Reality tour – the one I saw, but form Dublin. Watching him sing the one thing that really struck me was his sheer and utter joy during the performance. You could not wipe the smile of that gorgeous face. His interaction with his band and with the audience, he was just loving every minute of it. That to me is outstanding and incredibly special.
So what is it about one man?
He did whatever the hell he wanted, no fucks given and I love that so very much. He was unusual, different, enigmatic, and charismatic – I’ve always been drawn to the different. They’re my people!
He was an artist in the purest sense of the world, musician, genius, artistic, reader, writer, comedian, visual genius and everything else in between. He liked to call himself a creator.
He seemed like a really nice man. (Drug period aside) He was affable, friendly, funny, fiercely intelligent, and didn’t suffer fools. He was a gentleman and a gentle man.
His influence is everywhere, film, music, fashion, art, history, technology, economics...he’s a cultural icon.
The music! Oh boy, the music. He was genius talented. His voice, that range...he could really really fucking sing! Groove, this was a white man who could actually get his groove on. The soundtrack to my’s as simple as that.
And so my love for him finally accumulated last year when I experienced all I have just described and more at the spectacular David Bowie Is in Melbourne at the ACMI.
This exhibition was the most visceral, stunning, and moving experience in terms of exhibitions that I have ever seen. I think I loved it as much – if not more – than seeing him live.
And so back to his passing. I’ll never forget that moment, unfolding in slow motion as I drove out of the work carpark, the DJ struggling to part with the words. Only two days earlier on his 69th birthday a new album had been released, this could not be. I drove to the carpark next to the library carpark – I was to pick up some groceries. I sat in the car sobbing, and looked up his son on Twitter. I have followed Duncan for years. His tweet from about 20 minutes earlier confirmed it all. I was inconsolable. I dashed into the supermarket, a blubbery mess, and grabbed what I needed. Who can know why!?

They played Young Americans on the radio before moving on to something else while I was trying to calm down in the car. When it got to the end and that crazed lyric, "Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry" I realised every song was going to do that to me on that day.
I then drove home and collapsed on the lounge, phone in hand and sunnies still on my head. I stayed there for hours, watching it all unfold online, sometimes conversing with friends. So many people were in shock. It was extraordinarily shocking. And yet it was beautiful and comforting to see so many people mourning on mass online. I have never witnessed anything like it. How wonderful it was to be surrounded by so many other people, all who felt exactly the same. Other like minded people, weeping and loving and remembering. The stories that were shared and then ever since, the clips, the interviews, the titbits you never knew, the decency of a great man. I believe it will continue for some time.
It took a while, that night, for me to listen to his music. The sound of his voice set me off in ways I just cannot explain. I’m a fairly fragile person, I needed to take care of me and not collapse under the enormity of it all. Silence and the playlist in my mind was all I needed until much later in the evening when I could finally listen. I tuned into Double J and smiled and sobbed into the early hours of the morning.
I’ve caught up on all those saved article, I’ve shed tears. Last week Duncan Jones announced his partner, Rodene was expecting a baby, due in June. His father had known. This still broke me, still does. David loved children, he would have been a really awesome and unique of life.
The one thing I have yet been able to do is listen to Black Star. I just cannot bring myself to at this point, I know I will sometime soon and I am sure I will love it as much as everyone does. I keep looking at the cover, knowing he knew what was ahead when he was creating this last masterpiecce. It’s just too much at this point.
But this I do know, David Bowie will always hold a special place in my heart, much as he always has.