What I’ve Been Watching
Community S5 – I think this has well and truly jumped the shark, unsure why they brought it back after being cancelled. And Yet I still watched it all!
Love Child S2 – this was no where near as good as S1, but still ok in a soap-operay way. Matthew Le Nevez added to cast was a good move.
Dates – Newish British series by the same guy that did Skins. This is a drama/comedy show about dating with recurring characters. Realistic and interesting.
Broad City S1 – Finally caught up with this cult comedy about two loser/geeky girls living in New York and their exploits. Truly made me laugh.
Ruben Guthrie – Despite having the lovely Patrick Brammel as the lead, this was a play by the numbers film of a play (that I have seen) that lacked the grit it had on the stage.
Mr Holmes – Ian McEwan is lovely as an aging and possibly dying Sherlock Holmes.
A thousand Times Good Night – Starring Juliette Binoche as a war correspondent photographer and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as her long suffering husband. It starts off very gritty and compelling, with Binoche in the middle east filming a young woman being readied to be a suicide bomber and travelling with her into town and her target. After she is dropped off, she realises what she is doing and tried to warn those around her as the bomb goes off, gaining injuries herself. After waking at home in hospital, her family try and convince her not to return to these unsafe places. Initially she agrees, but the danger is in her blood and she ends up in Africa with her daughter and almost gets them both into a dangerous situation which has longer lasting effects on their dynamics and family relationship. When the action is in third world countries Binoche shines, you can see her focus and why the character is drawn to exposing these poor people. But the home side of the story, whilst it was always going to be a huge contrast, comes across too uneven and soap operay, which is a shame. Both Binoche and Coster-Waldau and the two young girls that play their children are excellent. But it is, of course, Binoche’s film.
The Loft – a remake of an European film about 5 men who share a loft in the city with a pact not to disclose their discrepancies to their wives or partners. Until a woman is found dead in the loft and they all start to turn on each other. This was a bit meh and misogynistic, apparently the remake is better.
Runnin’ Down A Dream - This 4 hour documentary by Peter Bogdanovich about Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers is magnificent and one of the best Rock documentaries I have seen. I am a huge fan of Tom Petty, but this was detailed and included all sorts of information and interviews. The attention to detail is mesmerising, and the people interviewed to talk about Tom and the band is great, including George Harrison, Stevie Nicks, and Jeff Lynne. It of course has interviews with Tom and band members over the years. It covers song writing, hits, fame, albums, band member changes, and collaborations. I was particularly thrilled with the attention given to Nicks, Dylan, and The Travelling Wilburys. But mostly you see that Petty’s style is timeless rock, his music never dates, is always great, and he is a much beloved character in the music industry. Mr nice guy if you will. This is a great documentary, you do not have to be a fan to enjoy this, but if you are, you are in for a treat!
Beware Mr Baker – This is a strange documentary about legendary drummer, Ginger Baker. What a guy! Genius musican and complete and utter arsehole. The documentarian is a young guy who found out Baker was living out his later years with his 4th wife in Africa. So he chased him down and finally got consent for interviews that became the film. Depending on his mood, depended on how he approached the interviews, with humour, decency or malice, usually the later.
Now: in the wings on a world stage – this was a little doco following Sam Mendes and Kevin Spacey’s production of Richard III round the globe as it tours. It is an interesting look into life on the road with a Shakespearian touring company and a star.
Chris and Don: a love story – a lovely documentary about Christopher Isherwood and his much younger partner Don Bachardy, an American portrait painter. Told mostly from Don’s perspective, it goes through their very out and groundbreaking relationship in the 1950s and Don’s thoughts on Christopher’s fame and fortune. Don was often dismissed by many of Christopher’s more famous friends. It is an interesting evolution of a relationship which much footage throughout the years.
Ai Weiwei: never sorry – great documentary about the Chinese activist and artist, following him and his exhibitions and his clashes with the Chinese Government. I adore Weiwei and his literal middle finger to conservatism, although it does get him into some serious trouble. His art may not be for everyone, but his attitude is worth bottling.
Blackfish – this pretty much broke me. I love animals and have real issues with those being kept in public zoos etc. I understand the naturalist and protection some species need and that is ok, but when they are made to do shows for people, as astonishing as that might seem, it is just wrong. NOw I have been to Sea World in Qld and indeed in the Florida, where I saw first hand Killer Whales on show...I was equal parts amazed at seeing one of these beautiful creatures up close but equal parts ashamed and ill. The film is based around one particular Orca (the word killer whale is rarely used) who has killed three people, including a head trainer a few years back, and has been the ‘seed’ for many others born in captivity. The dialogue is mostly with a bunch of ex trainers and you can see these people have a lot of pain from their escapades. I felt ill and uneasy watching the film, much as I had watching these large wild creatures jump about in way too small pools in Florida over 15 years ago. It just doesn’t seem right and who can blame them for attacking the small humans they work with.
American Pickers S6 – I do love watching Frank and Mike head off in their truck in search of the golden pick. This series is much like the rest, some interesting people who just cannot stop hoarding old bits and pieces and the gems that can be found if you look long enough within their collections.
Annie Lennox – this was a one hour interview type show, but a fascinating insight into the great mind of Annie. SHe was open and honest and chatty and formidable, as only you can imagine. I loved how she reminisced upon her early days of stardom and how it affected her and her long time relationship with Dave Stewart.
Bette Davis – a pulled together from interviews across the years type documentary looking at her career. A formidable character on and off screen, especially off screen.
What I’ve Been Reading
Hunger makes me a modern girl – Carrie Brownstein – great memoir from Carrie, mostly about her younger years and life on the road with Sleater-Kinney. Carrie’s style of writing is open and earnest and her insight into how she plays and writes and approaches ‘fame’ is very interesting, in that as a fan of many things herself she wants to give the kind of experience she would want to receive from those she idolises.
George and Arthur – Julian Barnes – I love Julian Barnes, but this one is not a favourite. I listened to it on audio book in the car. The tale of two English gents, growing up in very different circumstances and how their lives finally intersect at a key moment.
Humans of New York – I love reading this website through my facebook updates, it is a mix of surreal, stunning, funny, and sad. I am always deeply moved by the people interviewed on those fabulous streets of NYC. The book is a compilation of these interviews.
Somebody that I Used To Know: love, loss, and Jack Thompson – Bunkie King – hmmm, this is a scintillating tale for sure, but I felt the author was actually holding back a lot more information. Thompson does not come off looking well at all in this. I guess it is a 60s/70s mentality he had, but to basically have two lovers that were sisters is pretty messed up which ever way you look at it. It would have been interesting to have Bunkie’s older sister’s thoughts on the whole story, but that was not possible.
Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible Stan Lee – I loved this wonderful graphic novel about the life of Comic legend, Stan Lee.
Paris Metro Tales – This was a small paperback of short stories based in and around Parisian metro stops and included stories by Colette, Balzac, Zola amongst more modern writers.
Scar Tissue – Anthony Kiedis – this is a fascinating story of Red Hot Chili Pepper frontman, Kiedis. About his fame, his music, girlfriends, family, Hollywood, and of course his awful drug problem. It is written with much detail and very earnestly, at times you wonder how much is true, but by the end you realise it probably is all true, what does he have to lose? Intriguing detail into becoming a star and the hold addiction can have on some personalities.
Fun employed: life as an artist in Australia – Justin Heazlewood – this is an interesting little book by The Bedroom Philosopher, how he survives (or doesn’t) as an artist. He draws on a lot of advice from others and how they do it, rather than just concentrating on his own story, which I found distracting. Nevertheless it is an interesting read.
Out came the sun – Mariel Hemingway – this is more about Mariel’s life than her families as billed. Although she does draw on her family’s madness, including her sisters and grandfather. I felt there was much missing from his book and it could have done well to have more added. It felt to me that she was trying to point out, hey I am a Hemingway too and I was nominated for an Academy Award, remember me!?
Troublemaker: surviving Hollywood and scientology – Leah Remini – it seems many drawn to Scientology have had very strange upbringings. This didn’t tell you any more than you would know had you read the articles surrounding this when it was first published, but it is worth the read for the very odd and delicious account of the marriage to Katie Holmes by Tom Cruise.
What I’ve Been Listening To
New Coldplay – I’ve enjoyed the new Coldplay, much the same as albums that proceed it.
Australian songs of the 60s – this is a great multiple disc compilation of Australian songs of the 60s. We had some superb talent back then.
Best of Triple J – another compilation of the best songs played over the years on Triple J.