Sunday, August 20, 2017


What I’ve Been Reading
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doeer –  I listened to this on spoken word and loved it. Ultimately a holocaust story, but more in the vein of The Book Thief. It follows two youngsters at the edge and during World War II in France. Marie-Laure is the blind daughter of the locksmith at the Natural History Museum in Paris. Her father is widowed and makes small to scale models of the town to assist Marie-Laure move around outside without getting lost. Werner is an orphan in Germany and has an amazing mind and ability with electronics. The third storyline is the fable of an important stone that brings great luck to it’s owner but awful happenings to anyone the owner cares about. Locked away in the Natural History Museum, when the war breaks the original and three replicas are given to key people at the museum to look after. Marie-Laure’s father gets one. No one knows who has which stone. Marie-Laure and her father escape Paris to the coast to stay with her great-uncle and hopefully wait out the war. Things do not go according to plan. Meanwhile Werner is a youngster in the Nazi Military Elite training school. Add in a Nazi Gemmologist tracking the rare stone – because he has to and because he is very sick and thinks it might heal him. And of course, at some point, all of these story lines meet...spoilers...

All The Light We Cannot See is a beautifully written and interwoven story about war, love, mythology, and being brave. I was absolutely transfixed the entire time. It was never heavy handed or too brutal, and yet you fully understood the awfulness and despair of war. I loved the teeny details, the braille books Marie-Laure read and how they almost followed her real life adventures. The house by the sea she was staying in, I can see this clearly in my mind. The training of poor Werner and his cleverness never really seen to his potential. The mythology of the gem and the stories that followed it. Anthony Doeer has written a modern classic that will stand the test of time and enchant readers continually.

Hunger by Roxane Gay -  See my full review here

Cheech is not my real name...but don’t call me Chong by Cheech Marin – this is another spoken word, read by the man himself. I came across it at work and it was like an old friend stopping by to say hello. As a teen I loved Cheech and Chong, so I decided to listen to Cheech cheekily read about his life. And what a life he’s had. Highly intelligent, musical, and simply a nice guy. He really isn’t Cheech. His life prior to fame is fascinating. He was a smart kid, and grew to love pottery. As a young adult he dodged the draft and escaped to Canada to make pots. This is where he met Chong, a musician writing songs for Diana Ross. He goes through the rise and fall of Cheech and Chong with good grace, humour, and honesty. So much of it was a blast from the past, it was fun. Then his post career in film and television has been remarkable. The book covers politics, war, and race quite seriously too. It’s an outstanding read.

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke – I read this great book of short stories when it first came out, but couldn’t pass up Maxine reading it herself. Foreign Soil is short stories about indigenous women in various situations in different countries. Sad, funny, terrifying, uplifting, and simply amazing.

If I understood you, would I have this look on my face? My adventures in the art and science of relating and communicating  by Alan Alda – This was interesting, but not as funny as his other books. It focuses on his interest in Science and his science shows.
What  I’ve Been Watching
House of Cards S4 – and the drama escalates, Spacey is getting nastier and with his wife ‘missing in action’, one wonders where he will go next. Oh my, you won’t believe it! This show is something else!

A Place to Call Home S1-3 – I ‘discovered’ this great Australian series recently. I never really give Aussie dramas much thought, but this is really quite good. It has a Downton Abbey feel, set in the early 50s with the war very much still on every ones minds. This is probably just a step up from soapie, but the stunning set design, costumes, and intriguing storyline for the main character (played wonderfully by Marta Dusseldorp) give it a little edge. There is romance, intrigue, humour, and many themes that make you think. Noni Hazelhurst is also excellent as the sour mother of the dashing George Bligh (the gorgeous Brett Climo). I watch a lot of darker shows, so this has been a nice palate cleanser. One of the best Australian shows in a long time, if you haven’t watched it, give it a go.

Bojack Horseman – what a crack up this is. Starring the great Will Arnett at the horse and Amy Sedaris (a pink persian cat) as his ex lover and agent. Bojack starred in a popular sitcom in the 90s and is now trying to get back those heady days to no avail. It’s pretty funny and subversive as all good animation should be!

Mirage – This was a very odd classic film I hadn’t seen before. Gregory Peck wakes up one day and has no real idea what is going on in his life, except it appear some people are after him and he may have murdered someone. He is vague about his life and may have lost his memory, as things come back to him he sees they make no sense. He hires a private detective (Walter Matthau) to assist him find the truth.

The Sea of Trees – this was a Gus Van Sant film...say no more. A very haunting yet odd film about a man (Matthew McConaughey) who has lost everything and reads of a mystical forest in Japan where people go to commit suicide. With that in mind, he heads off but meets up with a very lost man (Ken Watanabe) and is torn by his own needs and helping the man.

Keeping Up With The Joneses – this was a fun film with Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot as the strange new neighbours of Isla Fisher and Zack Galifianakis. I’m not normally a fan of this type of movie but Jon Hamm!!! ANd you know it was ok!

Up For Love -  this was a sweet French film about a beautiful woman who falls in love with a very short man...eventually. It is an odd premise, that only the French can pull off, Jean Dujardin is the man.

Joe Cinques Consolation – this was only ok. The actual story and Helen Garner’s book were stunningly horrific. I can see why a film would have been appealing, but it lacked the weight of the book and came off just plain silly.

I Smile Back – this is the get Sarah SIlverman an Oscar nom didn’t work. Look, this film really shows she can act, but it was so self aware I could not stop thinking this is Sarah Silverman. It is about a woman, married with children, with mental health issues. It is very dark, humourless, and disturbing. She IS amazing, but it just came across too try hard and a little clunky because of that.

I Daniel Blake – I am not a fan Ken Loach, never have. I find his style of documentary/film (in that it is not a documentary but not really a film as he often uses non actors) heavy handed and annoying. ANd way way way too depressing to watch. This is not so bad, and definitely one of his better films, but I still didn’t love it.

Sing – what a joy this kid’s animation was. Great music, funny characters, and a good story. Highly recommend to all, young and old!

Le Tour – loving Le Tour as always, Gabriel Gate, those mountains, the castles, the countryside, France, France, France, oh yeah, and the boys!

What I Have Been Listening To
Songs Of The Latin Skies by Katie Noonan and Karin Schaupp – this was a very classy and sharp album. Thoroughly enjoyed.

Heartworms by The Shins – a few months late, I finally got to listen to the new The Shins. It is a great album, much as you would expect. Easy to listen to pop.


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