Wednesday, December 5, 2018


What I Have Been Reading

Bella Figura: how to live, love, and eat the Italian way by Kamin Mohammadi
–this was a lovely travel book about a writer suffering creative and life blockage who moves to Florence for a year to make some changes. She learns to live the Italian way and it betters her life. There are lots of lovely sections about Florence, food, and cooking, but ultimately it is the story of her love life which was a bit disappointing.

A letter from Paris by Louisa Deasey – a remarkable book which I enjoyed immensely. Louisa’s father died when she was 7 and never really knew him. She did know he was married previously to her mother to a French lady called Giselle, who was also her godmother. Whilst she had never met Giselle, her presence was strong in her family’s life until one day when she just disappeared. Louisa decides to find out more about her father and to track Giselle. Around the same time she gets a facebook message from the granddaughter of Michelle, another flame or love of her fathers. This gets her search going and the information about her father becomes more overwhelming than she could have imagined. This is beautifully written, compelling, a page turner, and simply a magnificent memoir. Cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Road to Little Dribbling: more notes from a small island by Bill Bryson – I love Bill Bryson and even moreso love listening to him narrate his own books. Unfortunately the spoken word of this is not read by Bill, but the reader isn’t too bad. This is the follow up to his Notes from a Small Island about Britain, where he has lived much of his life. An older, more curmudgeonly gent he has become over the years as he explores small villages across the small island of Britain. Museums, book stores, small supermarkets, transport and the people that inhabit them are his targets. This is a genuine delight and laugh out loud funny, as you would imagine.

Feel Free: essays by Zadie Smith - I love Zadie's view on the world and her splendid writing. Her essays are my favourite and this collection is no exception. It is a fine mix of art, culture, political and topical views.

Dig if you will the picture: funk, sex, god, and genius in the music of Prince by Ben Greenman Fantastic biography and analysis of Prince’s work. Not a run of the mill biography, but a really in depth look at his music, people he worked with, his musicality, philosophy etc. Totally worthwhile, especially if you are a fan.

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose - this was my second read of this amazing book, and I loved it even more the second time around. Winner of the 2017 Stella Prize, it was my book of the year. Based around Marina Abramovich's The Artist is Present Exhibit at MOMA in New York, it winds a fictional story of two people that meet at the exhibit - drawn into the exhibit regularly - and form a friendship. Each have their own relationship problems, and are using the art to escape and find themselves. A beautiful story of love, loss, and life and the power of the muse.

Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales - this is an important book about what happens to people on the day of and the day after the worst day of their lives. After some bad times herself, Leigh decided to investigate how others cope with trauma and tragedy. It features people like Walter Mikac, Stuart Diver and others like ambulance people, policeman, hospital staff, those that deal with those going through the worst day of the life. But more importantly this book gives advice to those who know people going through this awfulness, how to cope and deal with them. At times it was rough going, but ultimately it is uplifting and a very worthy read.

What I Have Been Watching

Broad City S4 - these girls!!! I love them so. I love their sass, their clumsiness, their everything. This season up the notches, with some hilarious special guests and a great extra feminist episode (extra being every episode is feminist but this took it up a notch!) where Ilana loses her sexual mojo and goes to a therapist. Also Fran Drescher starring as Ilana's aunt is to be seen. Her banter with the great Susie Essman (perfectly cast as Ilana's Mum) is worthy of their own spin off show.

Mr InBetween - hilarious little Australian Dramedy, part comedy, part drama, follows an affable bloke who just happens to be a hitman. While he is doing his 'job' he also has an everyday life and everyman quality about him. This pathos adds to the humour. Absolutely a 5 star show, great storytelling and great acting!

Big Bang Theory S10/11 - had a bit of a catch up with this show. I sometimes have a bit of a love/hate with this. It can be a bit one note, but the geeky references and science are to be adored.

Pose - this is set in the 80s with Aids and greed as the back drop, it follows groups of Trans whose lives revolve around the Pose Movement which was huge in that scene in 80s New York. Pose is a group of people who dress as a theme (eg Dynasty) and turn up to match against other groups in nightclubs and winners are announced. Whilst this premise was fun, it was the behind the mask stories of each character that made this show exemplary. Great soundtrack too. 

American Horror Story I haven't watched this for a few seasons, as it got too silly. This season which was meant to be a greatest hits of past seasons was indeed a step up, but still ended in a bit of a mess. Whilst I did enjoy a lot of this, I think this show has had it's day.

Travel Man - the fabulous Richard Ayoade is back with another series travelling to interesting cities with another comedian, High point, was his weekend with Jon Hamm in Hong Kong. Easily the best episode he has done, and Hamm as always is absolutely adorable!

Don’t Stop the Music - I loved this 3 part documentary series based around a struggling school just outside of Perth. The principal had a huge goal of all her primary students learning music, and with a lot of help, this is what they did. Watching these kids learn the power and beauty of music was a most remarkable thing to behold. With star power and kindness, Guy Sebastian, James Morrison and others, they help transform the kids into musicians. 

Ideal Home – I loved this comedy with a heart. Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd are an older couple. Coogan a needy  but popular television chef and Rudd his producer, director and partner. Their fighting is notorious. When Coogan’s grandson comes to live with them, it completely changes their lives. This is so very funny, but warm and full of heart without pandering. Coogan (who I adore) and Rudd are superb. I cannot speak highly enough of this great film!!

Solo -  love this cheeky look back to a younger Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich was a fabulous choice, I could see him grow into Harrison Ford and the role. Entire cast was great, good story, and well directed. I had my doubts with Ron Howard, but he did the franchise well. Loved the female droid and a young Chewie. And how about that Kestler Run!?!

Last Flag Flying – Steve Carell asks his estranged army buddies, Brian Cranston and Laurence Fishburn, to accompany him to collect the body of his young son, killed on a mission. It is a sad story and all the acting was great, but ultimately it left me cold.

The Bookshop – swet but sad little story about a women who opens a bookshop in her little town despite the town frowning upon it. Much like the book it is taken from, I just couldn’t warm to this dreary story.

Avengers: infinity war - what a lark, I love these films. Sooo many heroes in this one, with loads of humour, action and fun. But that ending!!! Woah!!!

Love Simon - this was a delightful teen love story told with humour and a little drama. A lovely 'twist' on a well worn genre, this was a sheer delight!

Maudie - an odd little biopic with Ethan Hawke and the always delightful Sally Hawkins. Hawkins plays Maud, a young woman with debilitating arthritis who has no prospects until she gains employment as housekeeper for Everett (Hawke) a stodgy fisherman. They slowly form a relationship and she begins to paint and forms her pictures from her view of the world. Set in 1930s Nova Scotia, it is a dreary film but becomes uplifting through Maudie and her art. 

Jane Fonda: in 5 acts - great doco about the great woman. Her life and career in 5 acts or 5 stages. Mostly defined by the men by her side, the new Jane is herself, doing exactly what she wants, undefined by men. And it is glorious to behold. Her career is outstanding, those films in the 70s and early 80s are remarkable classics. Plus there was the hilarious memory of her aerobics era, I had completely forgotten about The Jane Fonda Workout videos, of which I followed religiously in the mid 80s, lol!

Batman and Bill - a great doco about the man who really helped invent Batman. Features a young guy who worked out the story and was integral in having the wrongs of the past made right!

Buena Social Vista Club: Adios - loads of music and reminiscing as the remaining members of BSVC go on tour again. Always a delight, great music, and great stories.

The Wrecking Crew - doco about the backing bands to most of the great music from 1950 to mid 1970s. Stories of the individuals, the bands and singers they helped and the music itself. A must see for any music fan.

Mavis - another great music doco, this time about Mavis Staples, still touring in her late 70s and sounding amazing. It goes back to her times with the Staple Singers and singing with her family. Absolute joy and great music.

Midnight Oil 1984  - following Midnight Oil in that seminal year of 1984 when they were just commencing their reign musically and when Peter Garrett ran for senate. Great footage and live music.

Tea with the dames - loads of fun as the Dames - Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Eileen Atkins meet for tea regularly and they are filmed talking about their lives, loves, and careers. Remarkable and hilarious and beautiful!

My Dinner with Herve - another odd biopic about Herve Villechaize, of Fantasy Island fame, and an evening of interviews with a English journalist. It is hedonistic, funny, and disturbing and Peter Dinklage, yet again, shows what an extraordinary actor he is. Jamie Doran is a good foil as the journalist.

Loving Vincent - the most amazing documentary about the great man in animation form, but so very different to any animation you have ever seen. Ever shot was like a Van Gogh painting. It covers his early life, his lovers, his muses, his work, his poverty, his mental illness, and everything in between. Simply beautiful.

What I Have Been Listening To

Wanderer by Cat Power – a good solid album, less angsty and ranty and more mellow.

Egypt Station By Paul McCartney - This is a great album, his most accessible album in a long time. A lot of the songs scream hits. The man still has got it.

Ian Moss by Ian Moss -  really good, very bluesy, sounding great.

Nature by Paul Kelly  - Paul Kelly never disappoints, his lyrics, his storytelling, his music. This is great. 

Full Circle by Bob Evans - a greatest hits double, with rarities. I love Bob and his laidback music and went straight out and bought myself a copy.

Look Now by Elvis Costello and the Imposters – first since he’s been sick, sounds good, a little softer less harsh.

Lior – between you and me – just lovely!!

Remain in Light by Angelique Kidjo – Angelique covers the entire Remain in Light by Talking Heads. Originally it had a lot of groove styled songs and this works beautifully with her voice and the African beats. I really love this.

Last Man Standing by Willie Nelson – very good new album, a bit jazzy/bluesy and lots of humourous lyrics – well they were to me!

Hopelessly Devoted: the hits by Olivia Newton John – I’m over the songs from Grease and Physical but love hearing Xanadu and Magic and her older country styled songs. You gotta love Livvy.

Camp Cope - how to socialise and make friends – cute, a bit angst teenagey, ocker accent but I enjoyed it.

An American Treasure by Tom Petty - an excellent double album of rarities, live recordings and hits. Tom Petty is always brilliant, so missed!

Mass education by St Vincent - Annie continues to work her lyrical magic on this great album. Dance, pop, rock and everything in between.

Beautiful people will ruin your life – The Wombats loved this loads, of rocky fun!

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