What I've Been Reading
The Book that no one Wanted to Read by Richard Ayoade
This is a children's book by the very dry and hilarious Richard Ayoade (IT Crowd, Travel Man) The main character is the author who is indeed a book. And so the book tells you what it is like to be a book. Early on when the book gets upset about it's pages being turned back to mark where they are up to, I knew I would enjoy it! Very clever, very silly and amusing.
Rooms of Their Own: where great writers write by Alex Johnson
This was a beautiful coffee table style book with lovely pieces on many different writers/authors, accompanied by illustrations of their writing rooms. It contains a little information about the writer and details of these surrounds. Writers include, Roald Dahl, Bronte Sisters, Virginia Woolf (of course), Colette, Emily Dickinson, Ray Bradbury, Hemingway, Haruki Murakami, Hilary Mantel and so on. The rooms ranged from opulent to sparse, filled with much, to sheds. It was a dreamy read.
Koori Princess by Anita Heiss
A very sweet children's book about being your best self. I think loads of little girls will love this. It is a sweet but sassy story, about a little girl who loves to dress as a princess, but is still fierce! I think it will be very popular.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse - Charlie Mackesy
This is another children's book and quite the popular one - for all ages, adults especially. It is a parable of sorts, about a boy and his unusual friends, in search of a home. It is mostly about friendship and love and kindness. The illustrations are lovely and whimsical, it has been made into a short film which recently won an Oscar.
Bodies of Light - Jennifer Down
Bodies of Light is her third book and won the 2022 MIles Franklin award amongst many other most deserving awards.
I am unsure how to even explain this book without spoilers. I came at it totally cold, with no idea what it was even about, I had just heard how remarkable it was. I listened to it in talking book over a few weeks driving to and from work, the reader was phenomenal.
It follows the story of Maggie and her very full and often tragic life. It is a long read and at times - for some - will be triggering, but it is exceptional. I felt every intertwined with Maggie for the entirety of the read.
The story commences in what seems like the present and someone from her past connects with her on facebook. She is quite upset by this and seems to be hiding from something. But what? Throughout the story you wonder if she is a reliable or unreliable narrator of her life.
To work through this initial connection she take you through her life coming back to this period throughout the story.
And so, she tells the vague story of her childhood, you can sense the gaps, is she hiding something or just cannot remember? Her childhood is not great, there is abuse and she ends up in foster home after foster home when her father is incarcerated. And so her journey begins.
I want to say more, but I really got more out of the book not knowing what was coming up next, anticipating the next twist and turn, which you never really could.
But the story is magnificent, huge and winding, twisting, and full of major moments. You will hang off every word. And the writing is stunning, the descriptions and sentences make you feel as if you are living Maggie's life with her! Down is a beautiful writer, Helen Garner has written lyrical about her sentence structure which is high praise.
This is a must-read book!
What I've Been Watching
Everything Everywhere All At Once
This is easily my favourite film of the year so far. It is utterly brilliant, and whilst it certainly pulls it ideas from many films that have gone before it, the way these threads are pulled together are unique. This film made me laugh and cry, but mostly it just made me smile.
Evelyn and Waymond - played by the goddess, Michelle Yeoh and international treasure, Ke Huy Quan - are a married couple who run a failing laundromat and about to undergo an audit. Their teenage daughter, Joy - standout Stephanie Hsu - has just come out as a lesbian and Evelyn's formidable father, Gong Gong - James Hong, remarkable character actor in his 90s - had come to stay with them after many years of being estranged. They head to the IRS office to meet with Deidre - played by the utterly brilliant Jamie Lee Curtis - and that is where things start to happen.
From here it is difficult to explain but not too complicated or confusing to watch. Basically there are multiple universes of the characters, fractured from choices they have made in their lives. But the multiverse is being threatened by a monster and Evelyn must destroy the monster to get their lives back on track. And this is where the actors really get to flex their acting chops, from action to comedy to drama, they are simply outstanding. I have already watched this film twice, not because I had to but because I wanted to, and you see so much more on multiple watchings, I will watch again. Michelle Yeoh is fucking phenomenal, as is Jamie Lee Curtis. James Hong - especially for his age - is witty and nimble. Stephanie Hsu holds her own and then some amongst these established actors. But it was Ke Huy Quan who I loved the most, he was the heart and soul of the film, and gets 2 key scenes that absolutely killed me. And that was before I realised who he was. What a great story his is.
Thor: Love and Thunder
This was a load of fun, great cast, loads of laughs. Waikiti's humour is perfect and works well with Marvel and these characters. There's not much to say, it looks great, the cast are fantastic, great action scenes, drama, and comedy. Stay for the end, for a little cameo by someone cool.
This show is everything! I am a real Addams Family fan from way back, the TV show from the 60s, and then the actual comics which are far darker and closer to this new tv show than other iterations.
I was worried I don't mind saying, but when I knew Tim Burton was on board I felt better and when I saw the dance to The Cramps I was certain it would be great.
And it was!
Perfectly cast, great narrative, stunning cinematography. Dark and gothic and Jenna Ortega was perfection as Wednesday. I loved what they did with Thing, and Fred Armison as Uncle Fester was brilliant. The newer characters all worked really well, and fitted into the plot beautifully, I eagerly await the second season!
This third season was ill-informed, it was a hodge podge thrown together clips show and bad ideas. I still love Tennant and Sheen and watching them was great, but it just seemed not to place itself as well as the other 2 seasons. Never mind, it wasn't bad, just fell flat.
The Cleaning Company
A wonderful documentary about Sandra Pankhurst, who was written about so wonderfully by Sarah Krasnostein in The Trauma Cleaner. The documentary tells Sandra's amazing back story, and follows Sandra and her crew and their cleaning company. It concentrates on their humanity and kindness, helping others in their hour of need. It is a fascinating job that only really special people could do. Things do take a twist and turn, but hang in there, this is a special story that needs to be told.
The Stuff the British Stole
Great series by Marc Fennell, following the tragic stories of stolen art by The British (they are not the only ones) and following the story of those that the pieces belong to and how they want to have them returned. There are happy stories and frustrating ones. They were are compelling watches, but the final one about an Aboriginal leader's head was the one that effected me the most. Remarkable history.
Marc Maron: from bleak to dark
I love Marc's podcast WTF, and have not seen much of his standup, I know this was his first tour after COVID and he talked it up on his show. It was great, he is truly funny and very grounded in reality, you will nod at some of his schtick. He can be a bit bleak and melancholy and I wouldn't have it any other way. This one does get a little dark when we talks about his late girlfrend, Lynn Shelton, who died during the pandemic. But he always finds humour in every situation. This is great.
A-Ha: the movie
This was quite fascinating. I would not call myself a fan, although I think Take on Me is one of the best pop songs ever written. It was an instant classic and still holds up well today. The documentary follows their history intertwined with the band, now in their 50s, embarking on a world tour. Thing is there are strained relationships between all band members. It was very interesting to be a fly on the wall to this, and to hear how great they still sound!
Call the Midwife
Season 12 is the lead-up to Trixie's wedding. Our beloved Trixie has finally found the man of her dreams, after 12 seasons and many misfires. But will everything go according to her well oiled plans!?
I love this show so much, it is a real comfort watch. Even though babies being born are totally not my thing, lol. I love the characters, the advances in medicine it shows, the social history of that world during those times and it has drama and well placed humour. Sister Monica Joan is my favourite character and they always tease us with her demise, I swear if anything happens to her I will not be happy.
What I've Been Listening To
Palomino - First Aid Kit
They get better as they age, their are experimenting with more pop and rock than folk these days, but still sound wonderful. Palomino is a great album, love these girls.
Fossfora - Bjork
This is magnificent, much has been written about it. It is hypnotic and sounds unlike anything Bjork has done previously. The artwork is stunning, and pressing amazing. I love Bjork so very much, this is another masterpiece.
Special - Lizzo
Still listening to this, another singer who gets better and better. Her stuff is so upbeat and positive, it is a great hit for the soul. As always she combines, pop, classical, and hip hop and it always works! Lizzo is a phenomenal woman - Maya would love her!
Andrew and I have hit 1981 for our Sunday Brunch compilation. Really starting to get into albums we flogged to death (or scratched) as children. We were so lucky to have a cool dad, who bought these albums for himself and for us to listen to. We played them a lot!
Pamela Adlon and Alan Alda podcast
Pamela and Alan go way back, her father was a writer and a great friend of Alan's and Alan helped them financially when they went through some difficulties when Pamela was little. It was lovely to hear this friendship and their banter and reverie for each other, a real gem of a podcast!
Helen Garner/Annabel Crab podcast
This was another gem, as part of Helen's 80th birthday at The Wheeler Centre. A lovely and fun conversation. Helen gets more cheeky as she gets older and is always a delight to listen to. Cannot recommend this enough, you can find it on the Chats 10 podcast list.