Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Well, what a crazy mixed-up ceremony it was this year!

I had to sit on this blog for 24 hours, as I knew if I wrote it last night it would be way too ranty. Although I cannot promise it will not be ranty.

And if you are just tuning in to see how I went, 16 correct, 8 incorrect!!!

I shall finish up with the debacle of an ending, so strap yourselves in!

Kimmy Jimmel (as I like to call him)

Yeah, not much of a fan, so I had no expectations and he was ok. Bit blah blurgh in parts, but had some halfway decent jokes in his opening monologue.

I liked his black people saving NASA/white people saving jazz joke, it was clever. I really liked his Meryl stuff, that really worked and was a great FU to Tramp without actually being a FY to Tramp.

The lollies was cute, the trying to be cute with the little kid from Lion not so much.

The Matt Damon stuff started off funny, and if he kept it slight throughout, it would have been classic, but it was too much after a while, you could see Damon (ever the good sport) felt so too.

I do not even know what to think of the bring the tourist bus of regular people through the ceremony thingie. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time and for about 15 seconds it was, but then it felt really really uncomfortable and went on way too long.

And what was it with his ripping of people's less regular names. I found that really disrespectful and unfunny. Geeze Dave was blacklisted after the Uma/Oprah fiasco (which incidentally I found hilarious and thought IT actually worked).

Anyway, he was no Billy Crystal, but then who is?

Other Bits

I really loved the movie experiences and who today's actors looked up to. I thought that was lovely and real and having them both come out to present was really special. These are the kind of things I live for at The Oscars, you want to see a little love for those that came before you and as lover of old Hollywood, it gets me going - happily and a little bit choked up!

They should have cut back some of the 'jokes' above for more of these and I hope they do more in the future.

I loved seeing the old clips of who has won before in the acting categories, it added class to the proceedings.

The In Memorium was perfect, great choice of song (although slightly worrisome given Joni Mitchell was - and still possibly is - so close to death this year) with Both Sides Now sung beautifully by Sara Bareilles. And Aniston did a great job, seemingly choked up about Bill Paxton's death a day prior...what a loss that is, huge huge fan of Paxton and he seemed like a lovely all round guy.

The stars reading tweets wasn't too bad either. De Niro stole the show, lol!

The Music

This is quite often the weakist link in the show but I was rather impressed this year. From Justin Timberlake's great upbeat dancey opening, to Sting's pondiferously amusing stance, the John Legend and La La Land, to the great performance of the Moana song, every performance was king.

The Winners

Well first off, as mentioned above I only got 16 correct, which isn't bad, I have done far worse, but I have also done far far better.

Which means I got 8 wrong, of the biggies Best Picture (fuckity fuck, more on that debacle later), Best Actor (should have gone with my gut and Affleck) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Manchester by the Sea, again, thinking about the depth and 'surprise' of the second storyline it was more deserved). Which means I got 7 out of a possible 10 for the top prizes, not bad really!

I totally had no clue about Hair and Make Up and Costume this year, lol. And I really thought Hacksaw Ridge was lucky to be nominated (the icky - and boy he really is icky - Mel factor) so was gobsmacked and pissed off it won 2 tech awards I was sure La La Land would snag.

And I didn't get Best Short Film right, but out of the 4 shorts/docos, I got the other three, and really they are educated guesses.

They're my excuses anyway and I am sticking to them!!!

But overall I am happy with almost all of the winners (baring above mentioned Hacksaw Ridge wins).

I always love a surprise and seeing  the love for other 'lesser' films like Fantastic Beasts, Suicide Squad etc. And thrilled Arrival got something, Best Sound Editing, after seeing it I was blown away by the sound and the first thing my friend J said to me was wow, that's gotta win sound. Yup!!!

La La Land deservedly scored 6 awards, which is pretty darn good, Moonlight 3, Manchester by the Sea and Hacksaw Ridge 2 each.

The Speeches

As always some amazing speeches. The best was the note written by the director of Best Foreign Film, The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi. He was originally not expected to be allowed in due to the new immigration policies, but I believe could have. But he choose not to because of the policies and instead sent a great, eloquent note instead. 

The Doco winners were pretty fine too.

But the Supporting Actor/Actress of Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis gave great impassioned speeches that had everyone on their feet and in tears!

The presenters

This can be a difficult task, to come out, say a few cheesy lines and hand out a golden boy. Mostly the presenters look good, but seem, well dumb.

Shirley and Charlize were all class, as were Michael J Fox and Seth Rogan (and funny). Kate McKinnon and Jason Bateman were funny, as were John Cho and Leslie Mann.

The pairing of Javier Bardem (loving Meryl in The Bridges of Madison County...sigh) and Meryl Streep was unexpected and lovely.

And the best presenters were the gorgeous trio of Octavia Spencer (man, I love her), Janelle Monae, and Taraja P Henson with the added bonus of a real life Hidden Figure, Katherine Johnson...oh how we wept!

The Debacle...I mean ending

Well they dragged out Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty to present Best Picture as a homage to 50th (feel old???) anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde, which is kinda cool. Although both looked weary of age, which is fair enough.

And then it happened, Warren, opened the envelope, played around, looked back inside, and gave us all the impression he was mucking about the build suspense. He handed it to Faye with a quizzical look. I was like, what on earth is going on, maybe he couldn't see or read it properly??

So Faye announces the winner as the totally deserved (IMHO) La La Land, Damien Chazelle and Emma Stone had just won awards, everyone involved with the film traipsed up on stage and celebrations ensued....

...well, until the producer of La La Land was told there was a mistake and he had not won at all...

...how fucking awful, what an embarrassment, I felt physically ill for them.

Moonlight had won, awards were handed over to their group and the original La La group had to move to make room for the rightful winners.

In the middle of all this, Warren stepped up to say he wasn't having a seniors moment or trying to stretch things, he could tell something wasn't correct as the sheet in the envelope read Emma Stone La La Land.


Why didn't he say something then...who knows.

So, how could something so awful like this happen?

There are two people from Price Waterhouse, the firm doing this since the 30s, each has a stack of the envelopes, the main stack and a back up stack in case something goes awry. It would appear the dude looking after the main stack was too busy instgramming back stage and picked up the top envelope off the back up pile which was the Best Actress one.

There are close ups of Warren indeed holding that as he walks out.

And so you have it, one of the biggest upsets and fuck ups in Oscar history.

Nd what do I think of the winner???

I really enjoyed and like Moonlight, but I honestly cannot see what the fuss was about. Yes I get it that it shows certain minorities on film, that's great, but does that make it film of the year, in my opinion, no!

I think La La Land should have won, it has every element you want in a film and will hold up in years to come. Following or possibly even better than La La Land was Arrival, and then Manchester by the Sea. Moonlight possibly comes in fourth. I think it is mainly people trying to prove they are not racist. But really, being nominated was more than enough for Moonlight. I liken it to Ordinary People (a supposedly ground breaking Family drama from the 80s that won Best Picture), it seemed like a good idea at the time, but when you look back you raise your eyebrows.

I am sure a lot of people will disagree with me, and that is ok. To me it is not about the colour of people's skin (who wins best picture that is. I do believe we need and must have all sorts of representations on film generally) but the quality of the art. And that can be such a subjective thing.

And it is times like this I truly wonder about the functionality of The Oscars, how can 1 film or 1 actor be matched against others, when they all produce such very different outcomes.

So yeah, this year made me question my love for The Oscars, I am sure I will be back next year, but this year I feel I need a little distance as I still feel rather queasy.

The Fashion

Finally a look at the fashion:

The nudes, loved Kidman and Stone not so much the other.

The fuller skirts, just lovely

the edgier ones, also love

the older ladies, rocking it!

the boys...suave

The what on earth is going on, tsk tsk!

And the best dressed, Janelle and Brie had it goin' on!!

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Well tomorrow is Oscar day and here are my annual thoughts and predictions.

Despite the controversy and dramas, I still enjoy my Oscar day and I am looking forward to this one.

I've seen a lot of the films, but missed some key keepers that swung by earlier than usual.

But with what I have seen, what I have researched, and close to 20 years of film and Oscar knowledge I am feeling pretty good about it all.

As always it is about who WILL win rather than who I would like to win, and as always I give you both!

Best Picture

I've seen 7 of the 9 films nominated, missing out on Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water.

The front runners are La La Land and Moonlight, which Manchester by the Sea hot on their tales.

No real mention of the others.

Here is the thing the seven films I saw are outstanding and all deserved of an award, but only one will win.

I totally understand the whole race issue and whilst Moonlight was a great story, I was not as taken as others were. I don't think the academy will be too.

Who will win: La La Land

Who I want to win: La La Land or Arrival - to me there is no topping either film, both are so high, the others cannot get anywhere near them.

Best Director

There has been a lot of splits in recent years, which really mixes things up. There has a lot of talk of Kenneth Lonergan taking this and it could be the upset of the night if he does and a deserved one. But my money remains with the favourite.

Who will win:  Damien Chazelle for La La Land

Who I want to win: Damien Chazelle for La La Land or Denis Villeneuve for Arrival

Best Actor

I am torn here. I have only seen three of the five performances and it seems to be down to Denzel and Casey. (Ryan Gosling was the other performance I have seen, and it was great, but the other two were really great!)

I thought Casey had it in the bag. I am not a fan, but he blew me away with the most stunning and yet subtle performance.

I thought Denzel's performance was also great, but really thought - and still do - Casey's was better. And Denzel had already 2 Academy Awards.

Yet Denzel won the SAG, the only true indicator (although not always) of the Oscars...eg, same people vote for both awards.

Who will win:  Denzel Washington

Who I want to win: Ryan Gosling for La La Land or Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea.

Best Actress

Again, I have only seen three of the performances, Stone, Portman, and Streep and thought they were all magnificent.

Despite some late chatter about Isabelle Huppert, Emma Stone has it in the bag, and deservingly so. I j'adore La Huppert, and I am sure it is a stunning performance, every one of her performances are stunning. So I'd be happy for an upset, but I still think Stone.

Who will win: Emma Stone for La La Land

Who I want to win: Emma Stone for La La Land

Best Supporting Actor

This is usually the wild card category - anyone could win - and is no different this year.

I've seen Ali, Hedges and Patel and the later two turned in solid performances but Ali absolutely shines in his small role as the protagonist and mentor to the young Chiron in Moonlight. He was mesmerising and you really missed his presence when he was no longer in the film. 

Who will win: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight

Who I want to win: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress

I've seen all these performances, and every single one was stunning. 

In particular Naomie Harris (Moonlight) and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea) were my faves.

But this is all Viola Davis, a lock in if you will. And she was magnificent, but really it was a lead role. 

Who will win: Viola Davis for Fences

Who I want to win: Michelle Williams for Manchester by the Sea

Best Animated Feature

Not being a fan on animation, I haven't seen any of these. I was surprised Finding Dory was not nominated.

My research tells me Zootopia is the stand out, although I like the sound of Kubo and the two strings.

Who will win: Zootopia

Best Foreign Film

Always difficult as we rarely get to see any prior to the awards. All sound terrific and the initial frontrunner, the popular comedy Toni Erdmann seems to have slipped away. This is due to the refugee dramas pushed by the Tramp government.

Hence The Salesman, and Iranian film whose film maker may not be allowed in the country will probably win.

Who will win: The Salesman

Best Original Screenplay

Some amazing original material here, but it is La La Land all the way. I think it will win and I want it to. I saw that film and it was like someone had gotten into my head and written a film especially for me, which I would have thought was quite unique, but it appears many others felt the same!

Who will win: La La Land

Who I want to win: La La Land

Best Adapted Screenplay

This is a difficult one. I personally would love to see Luke Davies win for Lion. I have been quite the fan of his since I discovered his gritty poetry about ten years ago. I am thinking the transition from short story to magnificent film for Arrival was probably a tough road.

But ultimately from my research Moonlight will win.

Who will win: Moonlight

Who I want to win: Arrival or Lion

Best Costume Design

My thoughts are the costumes are an integral part of La La Land. Research says people are going nuts for Jackie and the re-creation of the blood-stained pink Chanel. Really? 

Who will win: La La Land

Who I want to win: La La Land

Best Original Song

Finally a musical, with great memorable songs

Who will win: City of Stars - La La Land

Who I want to win: City of Stars - La La Land or Audition - La La Land

Best Original Score

Who will win: La La Land

Who I want to win: La La Land

Best Documentary

No idea here, not seen any, however OJ: made in America seems to be the frontrunner.

Who will win: O.J. : Made in American

Best Documentary (Short)

As I always do, I research the shorts and come up with a guess.

Who will win: The White Helmets

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Weird bunch to choose from.

Who will win:  Star Trek Beyond

Best Production Design/Best Film Editing/Best Cinematography/Best Sound Mixing

Going for the same all round here.

Who will win: La La Land

Who I want to win: La La Land

Best Sound Editing

I was super impressed with the sound on Arrival. A lot of talk about Hacksaw Ridge - war films usually do win. I am still sticking with Arrival.

Who will win: Arrival

Who I want to win: Arrival

Best Visual Effects

I taking a guess here, and done a little bit of research.

Who will win: The Jungle Book

Best Short Film (Animated)

Who will win: Piper

Best Short Film (Live Action)

Who will win: Ennemis Interieurs

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Ahhh 2017, I expect grand things of you!!!

It started quiet but went fast.

J and I saw La La Land and had a lovely dinner at The Mattara prior. It was my second viewing and I was an enamoured the second time if not more.

I caught up with my sister K, and her gorgeous kids mid month for a look at the Wildlife photography at Newcastle Library and a yummy lunch at Coco Mondo. Afterwards I went for a walk around the beach.

I was at Coco Mondo later in the week to meet C for lunch and then we headed to the Art Gallery to see John Olsen and celebrate his birthday. What an amazing time that was, an eloquent man, jovial and intelligent. And that exhibit is also great.

The following day I took myself to see Nick Cave at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre. Despite being a fan, I had never seen Nick before, I was blown away, you can read all about it here.

I have an extra long weekend at the end of the month. This commenced with C and I taking the train from Wyong to Sydney to take part of The Nude exhibition after hours evening.

I rounded the month out but seeing Jackie and Lion and commencing Oscarwatch2017!

Work was busy but good, the heat though was unrelenting.

I mostly stayed in and watched tele and read as you can see by my January Reviews.

And here are some extra photos.


What I’ve Been Reading
Hotel on Place Vendome by Tilar J. Mazzeo – this was a great historical book about the Ritz Hotel in Paris, specifically during the war years. It covers the entire history, the people that habited there, the secrets, the scandals and so forth. Fascinating read.
Fight Like A Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World by Laura Barcella – this was an interesting book listing all the amazing women who changed the world, from Rosa Parks to Whoopi Goldberg and everyone in between, a few pages per lady with a great potted history. Amazing!
Shrill by Lindy West – another fab book of feminist essays, this by Lindy West. They made me laugh and cry and think, a great collection and well worth reading.
Monet’s Private Picture Gallery at Giverny by Sylvie Patin -  a gorgeous coffee table book showing off the private collection of Monet. His own paintings and painting by others he had collected. Shown within his lovely home at Giverny.
Reckoning – Magda Szubanski- I read this last year and loved it, and when the talking book of it came through I had to give it another turn. Read by Magda herself, it really cemented the fact this is a super special memoir, and an amazing story. Listening to Magda read it was a pure and utter joy. I cried and laughed and didn’t want the experience to end.
What I’ve Been Watching
11.22.63 – was a wonderful short series based on a Stephen King novel about going back in time to stop the assassination of JFK. I loved this clever time travel story, and it took twists and turns you never expected. Of course when you change time, you must be careful and adhere to the rules to prevent the butterfly effect.
Better Call Saul S2 –   is as good, if not better than the first series. Saul is now back on his own and is still yet to be called Saul!
Castle S7 – I must admit this is becoming a little stale and I am glad there is only one series left
Modern Family S7 – this show never fails to make me smile. It’s fairly basic but it is a great ensemble cast that makes it work.
Mr Robot S1 – This takes a few episodes to get into. It’s pretty subversive but really clever. A hacker working for a subversive company gets the opportunity to sink them, but is it as obvious as it seems. Strange things are at play here.
New Girl S4 – This is a very simple show, but a sweet show about the adorable girl, Jess (Zooey Deschanel) living with a group of boys and their lives and loves. Nothing much really happens, but the characters are likeable and it’s easy to watch.
Billy Connolly Tracks Across America- is a railway journey across America with Comedian Connolly. He is starting to look very old and unwell as his Parkinsons takes hold and I found it difficult to watch at times.
Nina – an ok doco about Nina Simone. It felt a bit forced.
Rwanda and Juliet – an excellent doco about behind the scenes in putting on Romeo and Juliet in Rwanda with amateurs. It is beautiful and heart wrenching.
Where do we invade next – the latest doco by Michael Moore is about Moore exploring countries outside America who do things better, from health to schooling and so forth and tongue in cheek decides the US should invade these countries next.
Bright Lights – is my doco of the month. It’s the Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds doco filmed before they died and showed just after. Watching it made me surprised Reynold only lasted 24 hours after her beloved daughter died, their bond was that strong. It charts their life, along with their family, but mostly their strong relationship, especially later in life. Amazing footage and interviews, this is truly something to see.
Anomalisa – is a Charlie Kaufman piece so you expect the unexpected and this delivers. Based on a radio play he wrote back in 2005, only three characters voice this animated feature. It is complicated to describe, though not to follow, and to tell you would be telling anyway. Basically it is a bored husband in a hotel at a conference where he is to give a talk, and he finds himself with some women who just adore his work. What’s a bored man to do...watch it and find out!
Florence Foster Jenkins is the true story of an Opera singer who cannot really sing. Yet due to a medical condition and his love for her, her husband indulges her and pays people to adore her performances. So much so she believes she is a superb singer. This works well, until she gets a gig at Carnegie Hall. Meryl Streep is great as Florence, and Hugh Grant really superb as her adoring husband. I have seen a French version of this about a year ago, and found it a far superior film, but this is still great. Funny and poignant, give it a go.
The Brave One is Jodie Foster as an unknown renegade in New York after a serious bashing leaves her partner dead and herself in a coma for weeks, close to death. The effect of the incident leaves her with a feeling of right and wrong in the big city and she takes it upon herself to ‘fix’ things as she sees it. An excellent thriller with a totally unexpected ending.
Man on the Moon – is an all time favourite film of mine. It is the story of comedian/actor Andy Kaufman, his rise to fame, his peculiarity, and his untimely death. Jim Carey is perfection as Kaufman, beautifully reconstructing some of Kaufman’s greatest moments. The supporting cast also great. Really worth seeing, if you have not.
What I Have Been Listening To
Joanne – Lady Gaga  - not bad, more melodic and showing of her actual voice which is great.
Young as the morning, old as the sea – Passenger – brilliant as always.

Keep me singing by Van Morrison – excellent new album by Van the Man.

Conversations with Richard Fidler – a great collection of his best podcasts on CD, including interviews with Jennifer Saunders, Stan Grant, and other interesting people.

At last the Etta James story with Vika Bull is the stunningly talented Vika Bull delivering her favourite Etta James songs.

Skeleton Tree – Nick Cave   is wonderful and dark and yet somehow uplifting. No surprises here, it is Cave at his best. Standout tracks the title track and Distant Sky, a wonderful duet with Danish Soprano  Else Torp.

Ride the lightning – Metallica one of their best releases in a while, kick arse and rockin’.


Hidden Figures is the feel good film of the Oscar season. It's part of my #Oscarwatch2017 and whilst I cannot see it winning any Oscars, it is certainly winning the hearts of a lot of people.

It is the story of three NASA technicians or computers as they are called. They are women of 'colour' and super smart and super sassy. 

Whilst a true story, apparently a bit of liberty was taken with the time line, to bring the three characters together more than the reality and a little bit closer to the actual orbit of Glenn.

They each have their own area of expertise, but all are of exceptional intelligence, especially Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), whose genius mathematical brain got her moved to the section that worked on John Glenn's trajectory in his first space orbit. The only woman on the team, she caused quite a fuss until they saw her mind in action.

Katherine is also a single mother of three, you just see her breaking every barrier there is at the time, not easily of course, but it was amazing to see.

Octavia Spencer is Dorothy, who is supervising a large group of women, hidden is a separate area for blacks. Constantly hassling her own supervisor (an uptight Kirsten Dunst) about being paid and actually classified as a supervisor. She also takes it upon herself to learn computers, as in 1961 they were starting to impact on her work. Remarkable stuff!

Janelle Monae is Mary, a would be engineer, who eventually becomes the first African American to gain such credentials. 

The story also follows John Glenn in his race to orbit the earth.

Hidden Figures is a film about space travel, intellectual minds in that very early stage of computers, and of course, race. The racism is subtle, but probably more likely the basic everyday racism people suffered in the workplace. Not the violent full on racism you often see in film. And this subtle racism, really packs a punch.

A well made film, with a great uplifting feel to it, without being saccharine or too sugary.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Moonlight is a lovely little indie film.

It follows the young life of Little or Chiron, played by three different actors as the character ages. It's a coming of age story, with a few twists...or are they...is his life predestined or his choice.

The movie is divided into three sections, following each area of Chiron's life.

Firstly as a young boy, constantly picked on by others at school, a druggie mother, the poor kid doesn't seem like he has a chance until he chances upon Juan, a smooth but kind drug dealer.

Juan takes the boy under his wing, looks after him and lets him stay at his place with his girlfriend Teresa.

And with that you can see hope in young Chiron's eye.

The second section, is a high school Chiron. Still getting beat up, still not quite making it in life. He is also exploring his sexuality. Much happens in this section, and I won't spoil things, but this is so beautifully written and acted.

The final section, Chiron is grown up and making his way in the world.

There is a lot of sadness and upset in Moonlight, but incredible hope also.

A lot of people are calling this the film of the year and one they cannot stop thinking about. I wouldn't go that far, but it was impressive.

The actors were great, the soundtrack perfect, and the cinematography a mix of gritty and luminous.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Continuing Oscar Watch I saw Arrival at the weekend. 

I missed it on the regular cinemas when it came out and was lucky The Regal had a screening for me to attend. 

I didn't have a lot of expectations going in. I knew it was Sci-Fi/alien invasion and I knew it was Amy Adams. So that was enough for me. 

A colleague who is also a film buff had said it was his film of the year. Mine was La La Land and nothing could top that so didn't give much thought to his comments. 

You can't really compare Arrival and La La Land but oh boy Arrival is very very good. 

Possibly better. 

It had such an effect on me I'm still thinking about it days later. It was one of the most profound and moving films I've seen in a long time. 

And here's the thing...it's really hard to write about this film without giving too much away. 

And I don't want to give too much away.

The film commences with a series of events in the life of Louise Banks (Amy Adams). 

You then see her as a linguistics professor at a college on the day of the arrival. Her class is disrupted by the event. 

The event is the arrival of 12 monolithic space ships in 12 different countries over the world. 

She is soon contacted by authorities to help make sense of what the aliens are trying to communicate. You hear their 'voice' on a recording. She says she won't work with a recording but in person, and after some back and forth she arrives at the closest base camp to one of the ships.

This film is so intricately and beautifully directed by Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Sicario). It's a pure piece of art. Sleek, astonishing sound, amazing cinematography.

And the pace is perfect. There is no disappointing early reveals of aliens etc. 

You get to see the ship when Amy does and you get to see the alien (well sort of) when Amy does.

The ship is a gigantic oval monolith hovering just above the earth. Every so often it opens underneath to let the teams in to meet with the aliens. 

It's atmospheric inside and they take a bird in a cage to gauge the atmosphere. 

The alien reveal is perfect, not too soon and not too late and initially part thereof. But with each meeting you see more and more of the aliens. 

And this is where the film turns regular scifi on its head and where I'll be a little vague.

Cause you really have to/want to see this!!!

The story takes you to heights this kind of story rarely takes you. There is a lot of confusion interpreting the aliens, but not from Amy. She's solid and steadfastly true to these beasts as she begins to understand their mission. 

Their mission is stunning and powerful and utterly heart wrenching. I was so moved by this section of the film I was in tears until it's end. 

There are layers of clever revealed at this time that I also won't go into. 

Don't try and overthink this film, it is very simple to follow on a basic level. 

There are thing that will blow or bend your mind. And you'll be thinking for a long time about that. I still am. These are the clever layers and that's great. But ultimately this is a simple premise.

Adams is well supported by Jeremy Renner and Forest Whittaker. But this is her show. She subtly and beautifully owns the film and was robbed of a best actress nomination. 

Arrival won't win a lot of Oscars and that's a crying shame. The academy doesn't seem to do scifi. It may win some sound and special effects awards. 

It's a film that is political and very much of our time. The unnecessary hostility with such some of us treat others different to us is it's theme. And it's clever and has heart.

This is a film that can safely lie with 2001 and Close encounters. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Fences is taken from the Pulitzer prize winning play of the same name by August Wilson.

It tells the story of long time married couple Troy and Rose Maxson (Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprising their Broadway roles) in 1950s Pittsbourgh, and their immediate family.

Troy has a son with Rose, Cory, who he is very tough on, and another older son from a previous relationship, Lyons.

Troy has a chequered past, being jailed for murder, but also being a talented baseball player. In his later life he is working in sanitation with his mate Bono.

Rose is aware of Troy's flaws but loves him all the same. Rounding out the cast is Troy's brother Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson) who has mental health issues after a head injury.

The play follows their struggles and the fact Troy has some serious issues himself that prevent the family from complete happiness. Things take a rough turn mid film as a secret is revealed and the already struggling family makes a life changing decision.

This is a serious drama about families, secrets, mistakes, love, hate, and retribution. It is filmed well despite coming from a play. All the action takes place in the family home, it's backyard, and surrounding streets.

The cast is superb, every single one of them. However Davis and Washington shine. Washington is stunning as the mean spirited and broken Troy, and Davis steals almost every scene she is in, with her humanity and heart break.

This is not a completely bleak film, there are moments of laughter, and promise, and hope.

Directed by Washington, this is a stunning film. Beautifully filmed against a suburban background, he plays with the natural light and this showcases the performances and scenes well.

I'm unsure about Denzel, but I am certain Davis will walk away with an Oscar for her superb performance in Fences.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Continuing Oscar Watch 2017, I headed in to see Manchester by the Sea. To be honest, I didn't know a lot about this film prior to going in and I suggest you do the same. So I'm going to try and review the film without giving too much away.

Firstly it IS a long film, 137 minutes, but it never feels long.

Secondly, the film is directed by Kenneth Lonergan. This is the third film he has directed after the superb You Can Count On Me and the very good Margaret. Both of these films have extraordinary performances and Manchester by the Sea is no different.

It is the story of Lee Chandler (played beautifully by Casey Affleck), who is called in as guardian to his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) when his beloved brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) finally succumbs to a congenital heart problem.

Lee is a bit of a miserable dude, a loner, a bit grumpy. In a series of early flashbacks you see a younger, happier Lee on a boat with his brother and young nephew. The love between them all is obvious.

And this is when you realise (or at least when I realised) that there are two stories happening here.

The supposed main story of Lee and Patrick (now 16) coming to terms with each other, despite a loving relationship. And what has happened to Lee in between these earlier boat flashbacks and the now. 

These flashbacks take up the crux of the story and indeed inform the entire film. I won't say any more about the flashbacks, but Lonergan is supreme in getting the most stunning performance from Affleck, who I admit I've never been a fan of.

Every performance is wonderful, especially Michelle Williams as Lee's ex wife and Gretchen Mol as Joe's ex wife. It is a great cast with great acting all round.

The film is shot tenderly, in the bitter winter with harsh grey tones, the water, the snow, and a great soundtrack. All of this adds to the drama. And yet whilst this IS a drama, devastatingly so, there is humour and humanity. The relationship between Lee and Patrick is outstanding to watch. What a great young actor Lucas Hedges is, he reminded me of a young Matt Damon (who was a producer on the film incidentally) 

Manchester by the Sea is a must see of the Oscar season, how it will wash up on the day I have no idea, it's a wait and see thing.

Friday, February 3, 2017

I headed back down to see The Nude Exhibition at NSW Art Gallery.
Yes, it was a good exhibit, but my bestie had not seen it AND our friend Anita Heiss was performing as part of the Wednesday After Hours sessions.
I finished work at lunch, collected Cathy and we caught the train from Wyong.
Once we landed at the gallery, we had a little chill and afternoon tea. I declared the adventure would be hashtagged #CathyandCathygonude

And then we saw the exhibition. This time we were allowed to take photos, unsure why we were not last time, but boy, I made the most of it.
The whole exhibit is superb, and having seen it once I knew which pieces I wanted to spend more time with.
And boy, there are some amazing pieces.

This sculpture is divine from every angle

It was difficult to capture this little nymph

This bath scene was my favourite


and the Picasso, I love this so very much

Bonnard's Bums

This Montmartre piece captured my imagination..and Anita's too!!

I love this chick, what is she thinking!?!

This looked positively ancient, but it was not

Another Picasso

Henry Moore from behind

This sculpture was glittery and golden, doesn't show up in the pic

Cathy and Modigliani 
Whilst spending time with one surreal piece, we both noticed this very glamorous elderly lady. Dressed in black with a hat and all the accessories. She asked Cathy to take her photo with the piece and struck a pose not unlike a retired model. Off she went, we both smiled and I declared I wanted to be her when I grew up.

The piece had a hidden monkey in it, I was tired of looking for it, but not Cathy. So I moved on and left her there and I headed for the Rodin.
The first time I was at the gallery, I had no idea this piece, The Kiss, was featured. Nor did I realise how enormous the sculpture was. I love Rodin and the art he made. And this is one of his best. It is in its own specially lit room. I remember walking past with my eye on another painting, and caught it out the corner of my eye. My whole body froze, every hair stood on end, and chills went through my body. This piece is something else.
I spent a long time looking at it, remarkable and stunning.
This time I could photograph it from every angle and sat for a long time looking at it.

Because it was later in the afternoon there were less people there, which made the experience more intimate.
I sat outside the little area, still spellbound by The Kiss, and still waiting for Cathy when the elderly lady stood next to me and pronounced I must really love that piece!

I responded, ‘how can you not’, and she agreed, and we chatted about the exhibit and such. She was very refined and fun and lovely and told us, as Cathy had finally re-joined me, she had just had surgery. She didn’t say for what. She was incredibly thin. I told her I loved her style, and she said it was all op shop. We chatted a bit more and off she went with a flourish.
As an introvert, it is rare for me to chat to unknowns, but occasionally I am drawn to the right kind of person, and that day was one of them. What a lovely added experience to a lovely afternoon.
We continued our way around the exhibit and left feeling full and satisfied.

Above a trio of Louise Bourgeois

Modern take on Nude

Ron Mueck's sculpture follows you around the exhibit!
Oh and yes, Cathy found the monkey, hiding the shadows, the little imp!

Next up we had a little browse at the regular collection.

Taking this new (to me) bronze, I also captured a range of different art

Sculptures and paintings

Yes!!!! Joy!!!!

And TWO new Picassos!!!

Me and Brett Whiteley

My and my favourite Grace Cossington Smith (The Reader) and my Frida brooch
After we did a turn at the Gallery shop ( I want one of every book in there) and then claimed good seats and waited for Anita.

As part of the month, authors were asked to write some fiction inspired by the exhibit.
Anita was fabulous and funny...as you would expect. She choose 6 or so pieces and wrote from the perspective of the model in the pictures, calling her words, “Does my bum look big in this?”

The talk was seriously about body image and so very clever, and also so very funny. She had the audience in the palm of her hands, as they squealed in delight at her every word. I wish I could reproduce some of the words and the humour, but I would do her no credit.
While Anita did a book signing, Cathy and I had dinner. And then we caught up with Anita and some of her friends over wine and cheese, enjoying great conversation and many laughs until it was time for us to leave.


I cannot begin to explain how wonderful days like this are. They fill my soul and heart with interest and joy.