Monday, April 26, 2021

OSCAR WATCH: the wrap up and Fashion

 What an Oscars!!!!

This was never going to be a regular Oscars show.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I actually liked a lot of it. Many didn't, but you know, most usually diss the show, so what's new!?

It was a small, intimate location, with red carpet prior (albeit slow and minimised), only those nominated and a guest, plus presenters in the room. This was purely due to COVID, and I think it worked well. It meant less star factor, but it also meant more bang for your buck - so to speak.

Regina King opened the show with a fierce speech about all the issues (COVID, BLM, Me Too etc) and she was sensational. Not your usual opening, but there was no way they could have done a song and dance number. SO I am unsure why people are complaining so much. Plus she looked AMAZING, as soon as I saw her outfit, I made her best dressed! Woah!!!

The show itself mostly focused on the nominations, with some quirky stories about the nominees prior. There were no real segments, no songs. All they had was a music trivia segment, which was a bit off, but involved Glenn Close showing her knowledge (!?!) of hip hop and twerking. The humanitarian awards returned, and the In Memoriam was there. The choice of an upbeat Stevie Wonder song has been criticised but I actually thought it was a great choice. I love that song, it is about life and humanity and why should memoriam songs be downbeat?

There has been a lot of criticism about missing opening numbers, songs being sung etc etc. But none would be appropriate in these COVID times, are people really that stupid?

The entertainment, as always, came from the speeches. Whether they were emotional or hilarious, it didn't matter, there were some good ones. Yuh Jung Youn, the grandmother in Minari, was the funniest. Flirting with Brad Pitt, and letting everyone off for mispronouncing her name. 

Who won, as expected, was a bit of a wild card. Upsets, and a spread of love to most movies, so no real frontrunner.

I had an all time low with 15 correct, and 8 incorrect. Also needs mentioning we only have 23 categories this year, rather than the usual 24. With Sound mixing and editing being moved into 1 Sound category. I was so sure Sound of Metal was the little film that was just lucky to be nominated, I didn't think it would get anything. I was wrong, it won Best Film Editing and Best Sound, the later should have been a no-brainer, but I was rushed this year I do admit.

When Mank got Cinematography and Production I was worried there was a groundswell and it might get Best Picture. It did not!

As predicted Nomadland won Best Picture and Best Director but also Best Actress for France McDormand. This was quite a surprise, because I sincerely believe both Viola Davis and Carey Mulligan gave far better performances. I love Frances, and she has 3 Oscars, it is great. I read a review of Nomadland this afternoon and it said the film was all about her, the two were inseparable, and the review got it right, how could she not have won. But still...

The biggest upset of the night was Anthony Hopkins winning over favourite, Chadwick Boseman. I am not surprised, I wondered whether Anthony might steal it at the last minute, he was my preferred choice and easily the better performance. Chadwick's was remarkable given how unwell it was, but he really was part of an ensemble cast, with him (or VIola Davis) getting more screen time than the others, maybe they were not Leads? Then people were all and Anthony Hopkins couldn't be bothered to come. Really!!??? Are the people who write these columns that stupid (of course they are!). He is an elderly man living in the UK, of course he wouldn't travel to a COVID hotspot at his age. And he was genuinely pleased and surprised, he put a lovely video up later. Go and watch The Father, that performance was absolutely brilliant.

The problem was the Academy made Best Picture the third to last award to be given, rather than the last, which has been the case for decades. Did they really think Chadwick would win and the show would end with that? Obviously, so at least we know the winners are definitely surprises that no-one knows about!

I will pop in some of my faves from the red carpet, but before I do I will end with a lovely quote from Chloe Zhao, the second woman to win Best Director, and the first person of colour to do so. "People at birth, are inherently good", we are, and let's try to remain that way!

If you want to relook at my predictions, see where I went right...and wrong, click here!

And a link to my reviews of the movies I did see!


Regina King, Queen of the red carpet.
I cannot begin to tell you all how much I love this piece.


Reese comes in a close second, simplistic, 
but great use of shape and colour, totally works


Maria Bakalova, love the sleek white and diamonds


Vanessa Kirby, princess pink


Laura Dern, old school feathers and B&W


Viola Davis, striking in white


Halle Berry, lovely in lavendar


Emerald Fennell, in greens and pinks, flowering flowing


Andra Day, this actually works for her


So not a fan of the boobtube, but it works on Carey, 
seeing her sitting with that skirt fanned out was stunning though


Daniel Kaluuya, looking sharp


Love, Love, love this on Leslie Odom Jnr.


Riz Ahmed, swoon and great colour and shape on his wife


Amanda, Amanda, Amanda...I love the colour and the big skirt, 
but the rest does you no favours whatsoever.
Not worst dressed, but certainly nowhere near best!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

OSCAR WATCH: The Predictions


This is my yearly Oscar Prediction post. This year was unusual, COVID pushed back the award almost 2 months, and films were released differently. I managed to see 7 ot the 8 Best Picture films and a few extras. Nothing really stood out as a wonderful film, though I still had favourites. The general subject of the films was dreary, real, and historical.

As always I try to see how many categories I will get correct, MY best score is 20 our of 24 categories THREE time, in 2009, 2014, and 2018. I always add in who I'd like to see win, as they are often different.

So here goes:

Best Picture

Who Will Win: Nomadland
I admit I am stuck this year, I think of the 8 nominated there are much better films than Nomadland, but this appears to be the frontrunner, so I will stick with it. I would have thought Mank would have appealed more to the Academy, or even The Trial of the Chicago 5.

Who Should Win: The Father
This was such a well made, clever film. Incredibly entertaining, well cast, and the kind of film that should win.

Best Director

Who Will Win: Nomadland
Again, appears to be the frontrunner.

Who Should Win: Mank
I think this is beautifully directed, Fincher is due and it is old Hollywood, at it's worst, shown at it's best!

Actor In A Leading Role

Who Will Win: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Chadwick delivers a fine performance, his final before passing, and everyone thinks he has it bagged, but does he?

Who Should Win: Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Hopkins is outstanding as the father with dementia slowly going mad. This is a return to form and will give this category a good fight to the end.

 

Actor In A Supporting Role
 
Who Will Win: Sacha Baren Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7

The favourite is actually Daniel Kaluuya, but I still feel both Judas and the Black Priest nominees will cancel each other out. This is always a wild card category and I think the academy would love to give one to Cohen so here it goes!?


Who Should Win: Paul Raci, The Sound of Metal

Raci was the heart and soul of The Sound of Metal and gave a solid performance, would be lovely to see him and this wonderful film rewarded.
 
Actress In A Leading Role
 
Who Will Win: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

She's playing a historical character and undergoes a physical transformation to do so, this is catnip (as they say) for voters. I am torn between her and Carey Mulligan but I think Viola will win her second for this role.
 
Who Should Win: Carey Mulligan, A Promising Young Woman

Mulligan it outstanding in this, it is the performance that struck me the most. She should win this!

 
Actress In A Supporting Role
 
Who Will Win: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

Has pretty much won everything leading up to this, so should win.
 
Who Should Win: Amanda Seyfried, Mank

Amanda absolutely light up the screen whenever she appears. And that is something for a black and white long, dreary film! 

Animated Feature
 
Who Will Win: Soul

I have not seen any of the films, but this seems to be the frontrunner.


Cinematography
 
Who Will Win: Nomadland

This is the favourite and is stunning with it's sweeping vistas etc.


Who Should Win: Mank

This was beautifully filmed, giving off real vibes of actual films from the era it was about, which is no mean feat. 

Costume Design/Makeup and Hairstyling

 
Who Will Win: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

This is the front runner and is stunning, and I was torn.


Who Should Win: Emma

I really loved the costume design and hair for Emma, so have split these two.
 
Documentary Feature
 
Who Will Win: My Octopus Teacher

I have only seen a snippet of this and it looks delightful. I know nothing of the other films, but this does seem to be the frontrunner, so who am I to deny it!?
 
Documentary Short Subject
 
Who Will Win: A Concerto is a conversation

Everyone is digging this!
 
Film Editing
 
Who Will Win: The Trial of the Chicago 7

This makes a lot of sense, with the film moving in quick succession (aided by clever edits) to replicate the story and the fast paced of Sorkin's script.
 
Who Should Win: The Father

This is cleverly edited to show the unraveling of Hopkins' brain.


 
International Feature Film
 
Who Will Win: Another Round

Everyone is raving about the Danish film. I know nothing of the others.
 
Original Score
 
Who Will Win: Soul
Who Should Win: Soul

This was my favourite score and the front runner, a no-brainer really. I did love the score to Minari too, but Soul is better.


Original Song
 
Who Will Win: Speak Now, One Night in Miami
Who Should Win: 
Speak Now, One Night in Miami

A really great song, worthwhile, meaningful and popular.

 
Production Design
 
Who Will Win: Mank
Who Should Win: Mank

This is between Mank and Ma Rainey and I liked Mank better, the attention to detail is outstanding, and also the frontrunner.

 
Animated Short Film
 
Who Will Win: If Anything Happens I love you
No idea, this seems popular.


Live Action Short Film
 
Who Will Win: Two Distant Strangers

Again, not a lot of ideas here, it is about the Holocaust, always popular with the Academy but in my research there is a lot of love for it.

 
Sound 
Who Will Win: Sound of Metal
Who Should Win: Sound of Metal


A music film about deafness, sound it incredibly important, this has to win!
 
Visual Effects
 
Who Will Win: Tenant
Who Should Win: Tenant

Not seen any of these films, but everyone says this belongs to Tenant!
 
Adapted Screenplay
 
Who Will Win: The Father
Who Should Win: The Father
Adapted from the play, this is a confusing story, and meant to be so, but if it wasn't for a tight screenplay it would be too difficult to follow. This should win.


Original Screenplay
 
Who Will Win: Promising Young Woman 
Who Should Win: Promising Young Woman

This is an outstanding screenplay, complex and very original. Whilst it has some competition from Minari, Sound of Metal, and Chicago 7, I think it will win!

OSCAR WATCH: The Films

This year's Oscars are much later than usual, and the movies are all over the shop. I haven't seen as many as I would normally see, but I think I have seen enough to work on my usual predictions and hopes.

Anyway, here is a brief overview of the films I managed to see. Films are listed in alphabetical order!

Emma

I saw this glorious version of Emma when it was first released. It beautifully portrayed Jane Austen's story of love and matchmaking with the wonderful Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen's Gambit) as Emma. The whole cast was a delight in fact. It was stunningly shot, and just looked beautiful. Lots of beautiful colours, and interior design. It is nominated for Costume and Hair, which makes perfect sense. I think it should have be nominated for Best Picture.

The Father

Wow, this was a brilliant film, Anthony Hopkins has dementia, his daughter (Olivia Coleman) is trying her best to look after him with some paid help, but he is deteriorating. The film is shot from his perspective and is extremely discombobulating. It is shot in an apartment, but you notice subtle changes, he doors missing, vases changing and so force. Are these changes real, or is it because he has dementia and is simply forgetting things. Someone described it as Dementia as if done by Spike Jones. This is close, the writer /director is Florian Zeller who originally wrote the play it is based on. Coleman is brilliant as usual and Hopkins is outstanding, the best I think I have ever seen him, as a man totally spiraling out as he loses his mind. It is nominated for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Film editing, and Production.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

I really loved this film loosely based on 20s singer, Ma Rainey. It covers one afternoon recording in Chicago. Ma Rainey is recording her vocals and fighting with the white producers over what she wants. Downstairs her band are practicing and also fighting amongst the players over musical content, old styles versus new upcoming styles. Viola Davis is absolutely transformed and magnificent as Ma Rainey, and whilst she is miming to the actual Ma, she absolutely haunts as she performs. It also had Chadwick Boseman in his final role as a young upstart trumpet player. The music, the acting, the vibe, the sets, everything about this film is mesmerising. Not up for Best Picture, another overlooked film, but up for acting nods for Davis and Boseman, Production, Costume, and Hair.

Mank

I really wanted to love Mank. Based on the writing of the film, Citizen Kane and featuring a period of Hollywood I love. It was beautifully produced and looked stunning, shot in black and white it gave off a 1930s vibe as if it had been shot back then. The acting was phenomenal, not least Gary Oldman, and Amanda Seyfried as Herman Mankiewicz and Marion Davies. But ultimately it was boring, it dragged and lulled, but it shouldn't have. I did enjoy watching it to a certain extant, but it needed better editing. It is up for Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Costume, Hair, Original Score, Production and Sound.

Minari

I also wanted to love this film but it left me a bit meh. A Korean family recently moved to the US, move to Texas to start a farm in hope of making money. The mother and the father are not seeing eye to eye, their youngest boy has heart problems, they are living in a trailer and struggling. Grandma comes to help look after the children. The children don't warm to her Korean ways.The entire film you are expecting severe life disaster/s to happen. A few do, but nothing too terrible. Life goes on. Again this was a slow, and meandering film. It is up for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Original Score.

Nomadland

This is the favourite to win, I am unsure. Frances McDormand is Fern, after her husband passes and the town's factory where she works closes down, she sells her possessions to buy a van. She plans to live and travel in it around the US, looking for work. This bleak, homeless existence is shared by many others, some real life nomads playing fictional versions of themselves. She picks up work here and there, runs in to regular people and falls in love with a man. She visits his family with him and they all get along, but when he reveals he is going to stay there, she leaves. She also visits family, but ultimately she realises she is happy with life on the road, and continues her journey. This is up for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Cinemtography, and Film Editing.

One Night in Miami

This is about 4 very real people in a fictionalised event directed by Regina King. Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke meet in X's hotel room after Ali fights Listen. They discuss the chatter of the day, life, and race and it is a fascinating long conversation. I was very disappointed the story is made up, as it felt so real. This is good in one way, it feels authentic, but ultimately it is not. Great acting and great story. It is up for Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor, and Original Song.                                                       

Promising Young Woman

This is a modern sharp comedy drama. Carey Mulligan is Cassie, 30, living at home with her parents and floundering. Her best friend was raped and murdered at a party some years earlier. Cassie now spends her evenings out, pretending to be drunk, waiting for men to pick her up and take her home. As they start to do things without her consent, she 'wakes' up, completely sober and freaks them out. She is trying to get justice for her friend and concocts a clever but dangerous plan to lure the rapists out.  This is a really complex story that ends remarkabley. Mulligan is absolutely outstanding it. This is mind blowing and original and up for Best Picture, Director, Actress, and Original Screenplay.       

Sound of Metal

This was one of the films I loved the most. Riz Ahmed is Ruben, a drummer touring in a heavy metal band and in a relationship with the lead singer. His hearing is starting to disappear and goes for a test and finds he will become completely deaf if he continues. He may be able to get cochlear implants but they are expensive. He stops touring and his partner is worried as a recovering addict he will fall off the wagon. She lines him up with another deaf recovering addict to assist him. She moves on and leaves him in this small deaf community. The people there see being deaf as who they are not a disability. Ruben becomes close to the group and is happy but misses his partner and the music so goes for the cochlear operation. This is a very deep film and with clever sound editing shows what life was like for Ruben hearing wise. It is deeply emotional with twists and turns. Ahmed is outstanding in this. Sound of Metal is up for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Film Editing, and Sound.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, this follows a group of Vietnam War protesters charged with causing riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Ultimately a courtroom drama, the film follows the fiascco that follows, the murkiness and corruption. The ensemble cast is a superb and charismatic ensemble. I thoroughly enjoyed this film with heart and humour against a historical drama background. It is up for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Film Editing, and Original Song.

Monday, April 19, 2021

MARCH DIARY

March was busy, huge and busy.

I have commenced an online course, a Certificate IV in training and assessment. I have wanted to return to study for a while and this seemed a good one. There are other complicated reasons why I choose that one, but too much to go into here. It is meant to take a year but can be accelerated, which I am hoping to do. I started early March, and getting back into the rhythm of study on top of FT work is challenging. I did my entire Uni course while I worked so surely this won't be so bad. Famous Last Words!! The first subject was dull and whilst not difficult, it was very very time consuming, so unsure how this accelerated thing will go. But I am giving it a red hot shot!

I also enrolled in another Art Course from the National Gallery of Victoria, this time, Women in Art and Design, which was absolutely fascinating. So many amazing women out there creating, new and old, it made me smile.

Early in the month we held our first post COVID author talk at work, with Lee Christine, talking about her latest murder thriller. We had a good turn up, and it was a lovely afternoon. A lot of non-Belmont customers who raved about our lovely branch!



Friends organised a night out for dinner and Yes Commissioner. We had a banquet dinner at Cafe Limoo on Beaumont. It is Persian food and outstanding, highly recommend a meal there. We then walked up to The Gal for a night of seat dancing and singing along to Yes Commissioner, always a great night out, we really had fun.




I booked a live stream of Caitlin Moran from the Opera House, she was streaming in from the UK, so no point being in the audience. She was in conversation with Yumi Stynes and was as fabulous and witty as you can imagine. She talked about her book/s, life in covid, and everything in between.

I even managed a night back at Choir, we have been singing outside for a little while, and it is a delight. Singing at the carraige sheds at the foreshore, lovely breeze off the water, warm, sunsets, birds joining in, and the odd boat leaving the harbour. Good for the soul!



Linda, Andrew, and I caught a play at Newcastle Theatre Company at Lambton. The play was called The Road to Tibooburra and featured the music of Steve Kilbey from The Church. Steve was in the house that afternoon, so that was super exciting. It is about a rock legend and his group of musicians and followers on heading to the outback for a concert and things that happen along the way. The musician was played by Peter Fenton, who I loved in Praise and an Aussie drama from called Love is a Four Letter Word. He was excellent, the music was exceptional, but the play lacked plot and direction. The later was made up for by the music, so it wasn't bad. But then just before the end they moved the entire audience to another area to see a misguided indigenous scene that made me feel very uncomfortable for numerous reasons, not least many elderly people squished into a small room during what was still COVID. This pushed the whole thing out over an hour of it's running time which was frustrating when we had places to be by certain times. Sadly it left an odd, annoyed taste in my mouth but the music was great and it was nice to be in an audience with Kilbey.




Work had a mini writers festival and I caught one session (study, urgh!!!!) on writing autobiographical works, it was a great panel with amazing authors including, Susan Francis. It was at the old Rathmines Hall which has been done up beautifully, if you are out that way, you must check it out!


I also managed dinner out at the local pub, book club, and a few radio spots.


Plus the usual markets, and reviews.







And Photography










Sunday, April 18, 2021

MARCH REVIEWS

 What I've Been Reading

The Golden House by Salman Rushdie - I have not read any of Rushdie's fiction before and I saw this in talking book and thought I would give it a go. It is a complex story written simply. The narrator of the story is Rene, a filmmaker who lives in a complex in New York observing life around him. He mostly watches (cue a lot of Hitchcockian references) the Golden family, a mega rich family with three sons, headed by Nero. So the narrative is a mix of what is actually happening and what Rene imagines is happening. This is initially confusing to read but once you get into the rhythm of the book it becomes simpler to follow. 

Golden House follows the Golden family over 8 years, the same 8 years Barack Obama was president. It also tracks the character called The Joker, who is obviously Donald Trump. And Nero Golden, married to a Russian, also displays traits of Trump. The Golden family are Indian and have chosen new names when they immigrated to America, and in New York try to reinvent themselves. Golden House is ultimately a novel of identity, can you change who you are, escape your past, get away with ridiculous behaviour. It is also about destiny and how you may be able to change your identity but possibly not your destiny. 

Rushdie writes what he knows, an Indian living in New York, and it is a rollicking read once you get into it's groove. Rushdie also seems to want to offload his pop culture knowledge, incorporating a lot of his knowledge by lists throughout. This sometimes feels a little lazy, padding if you will. But ultimately I really enjoyed this book, it wasn't a great read, but it was a really good one.

A Year at the Chateau by Angel and Dick Strawbridge - I love this show with all my heart. An eccentric English couple buy an old chateau in France, move their very young family there and do it up. Angel and Dick are amazing, there is nothing they cannot do. He is an engineer with Navy and media background, and a chef, she is an interior designer, dreamer, and ideas chick. They run a tight show, business, and the chateau is stunning. Some years in, this book covers their first year. Having watched the show I thought I knew it all, I had no idea. This fills in soooo much more than you see plus delves into their lives pre chateau and pre meeting each other. It is told by both of them which at times is hilarious as their memories differ at times, as you can imagine if you watch the show. Loads of pics, great stories, and old friends, I loved this book.

Happiness Becomes You: a guide to changing your life for good by Tina Turner - a lot of celebs have written similar books during COVID, but Tina has been 'changing' her life for many decades, overcoming bad relationships, ill health, and money problems. She goes into the ways she overcomes stress and anxiety with various new age therapies and what works for her. This is a fascinating insight into the grand lady with life stories potted throughout.

In Pieces by Sally Field - I listened to Sally read this on talking book. Oh my! What a read! This is no usual Hollywood memoir, although I guess it is. It mostly goes into her private life and that is sadly one of abuse, continual and awful abuse by multiple people on and off for most of her life. She does tell stories about on the set of Gidget, The Flying Nun, and her movies, but they are most definitely secondary to her personal life. I cannot say I enjoyed the book, but it was phenomenal. Honest and soul stripped bare, I could not admire this woman more. When you read the book, you get the sentiment. I do recommend the read, but warning for triggers.

What I've Been Watching

His Dark Materials S1 & S2: Been slowly watching this wonderful fantasy series based on the popular books by Philip Pulman. It had been attempted as a movie with Nicole Kidman and was very good, but this is absolutely stunning. The casting is perfection with the two young leads holding their own amongst the older actors, Ruth Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, James Mc Avoy, and Andrew Scott. The longer length for television gives us a chance to really flesh out the story of multiple worlds and the people who cross between them. The sprawling vistas and steampunk machinery, the cinematography is outstanding. It takes some brutal turns, and has humourous moments, this is really superb television.

Michael Palin: travels of a lifetime - I loved this meander down memory lane from Michael Palin as he looks back at all his big travel shows starting with Around the World in 80 days. Palin has always been my favourite Python, and I always adored those travel shows. I didn't realise how ground breaking they were until this series of shows. It had Palin reminiscing of course, and a lot of other travel presenters that came after him talking about how he set a new standard in realistic travel presenting. He also was younger than I am now when he first started, which was a weird reality. But affable and lovely, human, and hilarious he traversed these wide and often less trod upon spaces and showed us the world. What a wonderful gift. And this - perfect for covid - series is really worth watching.

Rear Window - another rewatch of this classic Hitchcock film. It has been a while, but always a delight. The attention to detail in the set design is outstanding, and groundbreaking. The story is simple, action photographer, Jeff Jeffries has broken his leg on assignment and is stuck in his NY apartment and is bored. He takes to watching his neighbours in the apartment complex as he can see through their rear windows, often using binoculars and he becomes obsessed with one couple and when the wife disappears he believes the husband has knocked her off. 

Jeff has visits from his sassy nurse, played by the always wonderful Thelma Ritter, and his girlfriend, Lisa, a society queen that is played perfectly by Grace Kelly. Her costumes are divine. Lisa wants to settle down, but he still wants adventures. Both ladies dismiss his ideas of murder and tell him he is bored and should keep out of trouble, but he cannot and in true Hitchcock style things escalate. This has real tension in it and is quite thrilling as Lisa comes in board to help him investigate (given he is stuck in a wheelchair in his apartment).

It doesn't get better than Hitchcock in his Hollywood period, with James Stewart and Grace Kelly. This is a clever script, well acted, tense and humourous, beautifully scored. One of his best, and the film I always show Hitchcock first-timers.

Time Warp: the greatest cult films of all time - was a fabulous 3 part documentary series. Hosted by a panel of cult filmmakers including John Waters, Joe Dante, Illeana Douglas, and Kevin Pollack, they dissect a range of cult films, including but certainly not limited to Rocky Horror, Big Lebowski, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Eating Raoul, Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Eraserhead, Holy Grail, Bladerunner, A Clockwork Orange, and Showgirls. The series had someone from each film talking about it and the panel discussing it. Fabulous and entertaining, it was a sheer delight to watch, a  great walk down memory lane, and a few new films to add to my to watch list.

Gattaca - I haven't seen this film since it first came out and it has appeared in some reading a few times lately so I thought it would be nice to revisit. Plus it features two of my favourite (and I think underrated) actors, Jude Law and Ethan Hawke. As remembered it is a highly stylised film set in an unknown future where astronauts where lovely three piece suits into space. It is the story of a young boy (Hawke) with heart issues who wants to be an astronaut and therefore has no chance. He gets hooked up to someone (Law) who could have been an astronaut but is now in a wheelchair and through advanced scientific means, takes on his persona and more importantly exceptional physical state. But how long can he keep up the act? Will he make it to space before being found out. This is a simple story told beautifully with heart, and with the aspect of a thriller. it is sci-fi, but you almost forget that, it feels so realistic. Great cast including Uma Thurman as Hawke's love interest (they famously fell in love IRL and married after this), also Gore Vidal, Xander Berkeley, Blair Underwood, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Shalhoub, and Alan Arkin. I really enjoyed this rewatch.

The Personal History of David Copperfield - this was a really great version of the classic by Dickens. Huge cast of British actors, unusual telling, with Dev Patel as our main character/hero. It was funny, and dramatic, and worth a looksee.

Three Identical Strangers- fascinating documentary about triplets who were adopted (and separated) at birth. They all knew they were adopted but had no idea they were triplets. They all met in their late teens. One moved colleagues and met friends of his brother on campus, and the arranged a meeting.The story hit the papers and relatives of the third let him know. From there the story has many ups and downs. How did the brothers get on, were they similar,how did their families cope, who were their parents and why did they adopt them out separately? There are a lot of spoilers I would love to discuss in this film.

9/11: Control the Skies- this documentary shows what happened in the skies on 9/11. Most planes were re-routed and grounded in Canada, to a smallish airport in Gander. This talks to pilots who were in the air, how they felt, and what happened. An absolutely remarkable docmuentary.  

How can you mend a broken heart - this was a great documentary on the Bee Gees, dealing with their rise, their heights, their falls, the deaths of 3 of the 4 brothers, and the now. Incredibly comprehensive, this was a great insight into a very remarkable band. I didn't realise they had actually split at one time and it was quite horrendous for them and How can you mend a broken heart was written about that period in time! And of course there is the music!

Echo in the Canyon - is a great look back to the artists that came out of the "Canyon" in California in the 60s. Jakob Dylan (Bob's son) explores the music, and talks to some of the greats that are still around to find out what made that time, that area, and that music special. He talks to David Crosby, Michelle Phillips, Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and many more about the scene, with loads of clips from then. He also works with Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, Fiona Apple, Beck, and Cat Power on the music for a concert they are putting on. Wonderful all round.

Caitlin Moran: more than a woman - this was a live stream from the Sydney Opera House and had Moran streaming from the UK in a conversation with Yumi Stynes. It was a great hour as Moran talks to Yumi about her latest book, More Than a Woman, feminism, and the world today. It was a fun, enlightened talk. Moran is sharp and witty,  and I love her observations on life. This was pure joy.

What I've Been Listening To

Tones and I – the kids are coming!

Ricki Lee Jones -  this is the stunning debut album From Ricki Lee and is a sublime jazzy, poppy, bluesy listen. There's her signature tuen, Chuck E's in love, and and my fave, Danny's All-Star Joint. Always a great listen, and as fresh as when it was released in 1979.

The Cure - just been in a Cure mood, listening to lots, loving it. 

Doobies picked up a best of at my fave vinyl store and been loving it.

Nick Cave - got a fresh copy of Abattoir Blues and The Lyre of Orpheus, which is one of my favourite Nick Cave albums, a wonderful double, so been flogging that on the turn table. Also, the covid release, Idiot Prayer has been getting quite the play. Just Nick and a baby grand, alone at Alexandria Palace in London. Haunting, clear, stunning, it is perfection.

Joshua Tree -U2 - haven't heard this album in a long time, it still holds up well.

Podcasts

Smartless - is Jason Bateman, Wil Arnett, and Sean Hayes and a guest and hilarious banter ensues, especially when that guest is George Clooney. He is such a raconteur, and this is no exception. His stories about the pranks he played on his friend, Richard Kind, when they lived together before he hit it big are hilarious.

WTF- Marc Maron has been knocking it out the park. The ones with Sam Neil and Jodie Foster were particularly good. WTF is THE original podcast, and never fails to be outstanding, but some guests lift things better than others, and this pair certainly did. 

Clear and Vivid with Alan Alda had Sanjeev Bhasker on talking about the joy of late blooming, a really interesting conversation to listen to.

Unspooled - a fabulous chat about The Princess Bride, totally worth listening to.


Sunday, April 11, 2021

BEN ELTON

Ben Elton is a National Treasure...someone some of us don't even realise is a National Treasure. He has lived here in WA for most of his adult life, and a naturalised Australian for 20 years.

He sometimes doesn't land well, but for me, The Young Ones, will make him one of my heroes regardless of the misses. 

And then you add Blackadder and Upstart Crow. We Will Rock You.

All perfection!

We got tickets to see him live here in Newcastle back in 2019, we were meant to see him in April last year but COVID got in the way.

Talk about a lead up.

Last week, I started to listen to his latest novel, Identity Crisis, on talking book, as read by the author himself. It is a busy novel with multiple storylines and a lot of characters. 

It showcases a lot of current issues, mostly surrounding identity, The Internet, and political correctness. The stories work on both sides and initially I was unsure what to think, it confused me, it seemed like Elton was maybe taking the piss on gender and similar issues. This didn't sit comfortably with me. 

However, it was interesting and challenging in subject matter and I was curious to know where it heads, so am continuing.

So this made me a little concerned about what to expect in this performance.

I should have known better.

Within the first 10 minutes he addressed these issues, he was/is a radical thinker. He totally gets and understands all the issues he is discussing, but he is still at times confused by them and feels a little left behind, and he wants to explain why and thinks a lot of us feel similarly. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The crowd were mostly 50-70 year olds, which makes sense. I am always fascinated by who turns up to events, I love a good people watch.

We had excellent seats, and after a funny, self-deprecating voice over, out he came to thunderous applause. The first half was about 90 minutes, the second about an hour. This is a LOT!!! 

And he still talks super fast, moving around the stage in a jaunty, dancey way that only a 61 year old male like him can.

The show was about Identity, ageing, and The Internet, and everything in between.

It was fast, it was clever, it was intelligent, it was thoughtful, it was fucking funny.

I won't even try to emulate his jokes, it is impossible.

I loved his empathetic take on menopause, noting that whilst men really have no idea but they suffer too, eg being stuck in bed with someone who is running hot and cold all night and the doona on and off and on and off.

His long shtick about nursing homes and different generations and how they would be, especially future generations.

I cracked up at his take on hip hop music, and his son blue toothing his radio to hip hop music from the back at the car in what he initially thought was some kind of Harry Potteresque stunt.

This only tips the iceberg.

He delves into politics, gender, identity, cancel culture, and he walks a fine line perfectly. He does get all the issues and is quite 'woke' but also divulges he still feels like all these things are coming fast and thick and they are complex and makes him think. And he often feels uncomfortable about not being up with it all, but he's trying. 

His thoughts and insights are as edgy as he ever was, despite his 61 white cis middle age maleness. If only more (or all!?!) males that age and older were like that, we would have a hell of a lot less issues.

The time went too quick, I could have sat there for hours and loved that he seemed to be really enjoying himself.

It is always lovely to visit the Civic Theatre, but it is also superb to sit there and laugh for a few hours.

And it is great to see a hero, at 61, still at the top of his game.


Monday, March 15, 2021

FEBRUARY DIARY

February was a delight. I really feel like I am settling into my new job, such things take a few months. We have made a few changes, the customers love them. My team are lovely, the customers are lovely, we have commenced our programming and whilst we are flat chat, it is fun. My health has been great, my love life is wonderful. (the cynic in me is waiting to fall over, but the Pollyanna in me is reveling in it all).

I have enrolled in an online course to complete Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. I have wanted to study something new in terms of work for a while now but between my health and work restructure it has been a bit difficult. I am sure it will take a while to get into the groove of study again, but I do a lot of training and I feel it will be a good skill-set to formally have.

Andrew and I met friends for dinner at Saigon Feast, one of my favourite restaurants. It is low key in decor but high quality in food. I haven't been there in a long time, cause COVID, and felt the quality had slipped a little, but still, it was pretty good. We all then headed to The Civic Theatre to see We Can Be Heroes: Bowie Orchestrated with the George Ellis Symphony Orchestra. The Orchestra were young and brilliant, with a fab Sax soloist. They all looked like they were having so much fun. The vocalists were well matched to various Bowie songs. Jeff Duff, Iota, Steve Kilbey and Chris Cooke. Iota, in particular killed! Robyn Loau was their back up singer and guest vocalist on Under Pressure, what a stunning voice and presence. We just loved the show, it was a great mix of Bowie's greatest hits, we danced in our seats and sang along. Such joy!









I headed back to choir for the year. We are still singing outdoors at the foreshore, which adds the chill and meditative atmosphere that is choir. Such a delight!




We also had the pleasure of seeing Julia Gillard in conversation with Rosemarie Milsom at NEX. What an amazing woman, so poised, so intelligent, so funny. She told stories of politics and feminism and had the huge audience in the palm of her hand. If you missed out, you can listen to the podcast here. After a group of us headed to The Edwards for supper, drinks, and chats and a great time was had by all.





I celebrated Valentine's Day for the first time in a long long time with a lovely lunch with my love at Emilios at Warners Bay. The long time Newcastle establishment moved to WB just before Christmas and I have been busting to try it out. We had the most amazing lunch, and we'll be back.




I caught up with a lovely friend I have not seen in ages for a mid week meal at the Lambton Park Hotel, always a great meal there we enjoyed ourselves with much catching up and chatter.

I headed into Civic Park mid month as part of the New Annual festival. The brilliant Catapult dance group had a new show called Acquist, which is basically the group dancing on water in the Civic Park Fountain! This was just as amazing as you can imagine, and then some. The park was buzzing on this balmy Friday night and we watched the show on sunset. Sadly we were not allowed to take photos, but I snuck a few in on the end. The grace and agility these dancers showed was awe inspiring, and the entire audience was mesmerised at the athleticism and beauty of the show. You can see a preview video from the group at this link.








My bookclub commenced it's 2021 season towards the end of the month, at The Edwards, we had a great turn out and wonderful conversation.

As usual I headed to my beloved markets, and did a few Book reviewing gigs at 1233 ABC with Craig Hamilton.







Here are my reviews for the month

And a little bit of photography.