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’.