What I’ve Been Watching
Veep S4 – this season really heats things up with Selina now sitting in as president, and running for actual election. This season is the best so far, adding in Hugh Laurie as her too good to be true running mate/Vice President. Loads of physical comedy and eloquent observations on the state of politics and those that vote them in. Hilariously this season ended similarly to our own political dramas, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is outstanding in this, but really the entire cast are superb.
Bloodline S1 – this is a great family saga series set in Florida with an all star cast. When the family reunite for a family occasion, they wonder if the eldest son and black sheep of the family, Ben Mendelsohn, will turn up. He does, and this set off a chain reaction with devastating consequences
Call the Midwife S5 – The latest season is still great, but lacking a little with some main characters absent. It is one of those odd shows that is sweet, and interesting, and sucks me in.
Wolfpack – this is the most fascinating and the most disturbing documentary about a young family who live in Manhattan, whose children have never left their apartment. Then one day one of the teens decides to leave the apartment and see what the city has to offer. And what happens next is to be seen.
The Man and Le Mans – this is the documentary about Steve McQueen and his fight to make an honest film about Le Mans, with him driving in the lead. With unreleased footage showing how dangerous the whole shoot was and with interviews of those involved at the time, this is a great documentary.
I am Malala – This is a must see documentary. I thought I knew Malala’s story, and to a certain degree I did, but there is so much more to it. With loads of footage of Malala and her family, albeit in exile, it documents every step leading up to and including her shooting in detail and how they are coping afterwards. It is a heartbreaking story, but uplifting and thought provoking. She is an incredibly brave woman and an inspiration to all.
Supermensch: the Legend of Shep Gordon – this was a great documentary directed by Mike Myers about Hollywood Super Agent, Shep Gordon. Shep accidentally fell into managing music artists, and moved to film and cooking. He is the most delightful guy, kind, and true to his word. From the long list of celebrities interviewed in this great doco, you can see how beloved he is. His first client was Alice Cooper, and 45 years later they are still together. But what wild times they had back then. They say Shep invented, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and they may be right. At his height, he managed three huge but very very different stars, Alice Cooper, Anne Murray, and Luther Vandross. I loved watching this story about a total unknown to me, who has been behind some of my US faves. This is a must see and a highly recommend for me.
Ghosts of the Abyss – I have always been fascinated by The Titanic, but mostly repulsed by James Cameron. But I finally decided to watch this interesting doco about investigating what’s left of the old girl at the bottom of the ocean. Cameron put his money where his mouth was and organised these deep sea dives to film and look at The Titanic, with Bill Pullman along for the ride, it actually was rather remarkable.
Adele Live in London – I adore Adele, her songs and voice are timeless, her sassy attitude adorable, and that face, oh my. This is a hodge podge of her singing at the Albert Hall in London and interviews with Graham Norton, but it was great.
Judy Garland in Concert – this I watched on Fox, it was the first proper concert Liza did with her mother, she is young and stupendous, at times singing her mother off the stage. Shot in black and white and not the best visual quality, it didn’t matter, as the music was sublime.
Le Concert De Paris, Bastille Day 2013 – this is another Fox offering, I am loving their Arts programs. A lovely classical concert just under the Eiffel Tower at dusk on Bastille Day. Loads of Puccini and Ravel, French classics, the sun setting, the Tower twinkling, and a chocka block Champs De Mars with people. Simply divine, and one of the best concerts I have seen
Beginners – this is a wonderful little melancholy film, about a young man (Ewan McGregor – at his very best, oh my) grieving for his just passed father (Christopher Plummer). Through a series of flashbacks you see the lovely relationship between father and son, the changes in his father’s life and his subsequent downturn with cancer. The present day timeline has Ewan meeting a lovely French actress (Melanie Laurent) at a party and slowly falling for her. This is beautiful, thought provoking, and sweet in the best possible way. Plummer won the Oscar for this, but McGregor will break your heart.
Learning to Drive – is a sweet little film about a middle aged woman (Patricia Clarkson) who’s life is falling apart and she decides to finally get her driving license. Her teacher is a taxi driver (Ben Kingsley). Both are going through rough phases, but whilst Clarkson is not coping, Kingsley is, and he teaches her much more than how to drive. This is a good story, but lacked something. Worth seeing all the same.
Blood Orange – I am guessing this was an Iggy Pop vanity piece, it is an awful murder story, and Iggy is painfully bad in it. He has acted before, but I have no idea what anyone was thinking with this. Bizarre and annoying. And I love Iggy!
End of the Tour – this is a rambling film based on the true story of a Rolling Stone columnist driving around with David Foster Wallace on a book tour. I just didn't buy Jason Segel as Wallace, and Jesse Eisenberg as the columnist was also a little annoying. This was an ok film, for Wallace fans only.
Experimenter – this reminds me of a very basic version of Master of Sex, except the topic is human behaviour. Based on the true story of Stanley Milgrim (Peter Sarsgaard) and his people experimentations on how people react when told to do things. The experiments were controversial but fascinating. The movie itself was dull in parts, but mostly rather interesting. Bonus: Winona Ryder stars as Milgrim’s wife.
One Chance – This wasn’t too bad, the fabulous James Cordon as Paul Potts, the UK singer who won a singing tv comp by singing Opera. It could have been a soppy piece, but it actually was a lot of fun, well done and nicely portrayed.
Freeheld – I wanted to love this film, but found it not quite connecting until the end. It based on the true story of a US detective who is a lesbian in a relationship, gets cancer and is not allowed her pension to be given to her partner. Ellen Page and Julianne Moore star as the couple, both were outstanding in their thankless roles, but I did find their lack of chemistry a distraction. Michael Shannon also shines as Moore’s force partner who comes through for the couple in the end. Small part of gay activist is also played beautifully by Steve Carell.
Legend - This was a gritty film staring Tom Hardy as both Reggie and Ron Kray, the notorious Kray brothers. The story follows Reggie’s tempestuous marriage and Ron’s in and out of jail and the subsequent disintegration of their crime group.
Sicario – FBI Agent, Emily Blunt, joins a taskforce that heads to Mexico to investigate a drug cartel and things are not as they seem. Awesome drama and Blunt is outstanding.
Le Tour De France – as always in July, it is lots of late nights, Gabriel Gate and French Cuisine, Cheese, Stunning countryside, guys in tight shorts on bikes, mountains, and castles, castles, castles. I love it!
What I’ve Been Reading
Big Blue Sky – written and read by Peter Garrett – This was a great tale of Peter’s life as read by him. It is more political then musical, which was interesting but slightly disappointing. I felt at times he was using this to make amends or explain the situation of his political aspirations. The first section of the book detailing his childhood, family and move into music, with those political backgrounds was the most fascinating section of the book. I loved hearing about MIdnight Oil, but it was certainly lacking within such a large tome. But ultimately a great read.
The BFG – Read by David Wallaims, written by Roald Dahl – this was a load of fun, everyone knows the story of The BFG, and listening to the wonderful Wallaims voice all those glorious characters was pure joy.
Use Your Words by Catherine Deveny – I do love Dev, though I know she can divide people with her no BS honest approach to life. This is a great book on writing, with that same attitude and loads of advice from other people she knows. I whipped through the book quickly and found myself inspired to write immediately, not that I had been uninspired, but the book made me want to type my words straight away. Loads of tips and ideas and projects to help you are within, and this is a great book for anyone who loves to write, amateur like me or real life actual writers. She knows her stuff.
The Pleasure of Reading – Antonia Fraser – Antonia has pulled together a range of essays from varying writers about why they read and what they get out of it. It was a great read.
Seven Good Years – Etgar Keret - Etgar is a young Israeli writer and this is an essay style memoir about politics and the middle east. A fascinating insight into young life in a crazy situation.
Dying: a memoir – Cory Taylor – this is the most sublimely beautiful read, it is also melancholy and deep. Cory is a great writer and has cancer so this is her last book, a memoir of her life, looking back and reflecting on key moments lit by her imminent death. This sounds sad and depressing, and at times it is, but it is also enlightening, stunning, philosophical, and just wondrous. Death is such a taboo still, and yet why? This is a small book, but one of the most worthy reads I have read in a very long time.
What I’ve Been Listening to
Take all my love – Rufus Wainwright – this is a lovely little tribute to Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary. He, like Paul Kelly, put sonnets to music. It is a lovely, romantic album. Very suited to Rufus, and works beautifully.
You and I – Jeff Buckley – I always get irritated when long dead people ‘release’ albums, and feel apprehensive about listening to them. I adore Buckley and Grace, but this wasn’t too bad, mostly covers, worth a listen for sure.
Pure McCartney – Paul McCartney – I am an unashamed, unabashed Paul McCartney fan, always have been and always will be. He’s my main man, my main Beatle, my musical hero. This is the 2 disc version of a best of his solo career. It is a great collection, full of gems long forgotten, and songs well known. I’ve been blasting this all over the shop, and just loving it. Cause these are comfort songs at their very best for me.