What I've Been Reading
Out of the Box by Izzy, Emmie, and Kerry Silbery
I bloody loved this. Izzy, Emmie and Kerry are three generations of Silbery and feature on Gogglebox. If you haven't watched Gogglebox, go now, you will thank me later. I am not a huge fan of 'reality' TV but this is kinda out there on it's own in terms of genre. It IS people watching tele and commentating on it but it is so much more than that. It is a slice of humanity and sociologically fascinating. You will come to love the people and also agree or disagree with their thoughts. It is like water cooler chatter in the comfort of your home. I love The Silberys, especially Emmie, who is 93 years young. They have all lived amazing and remarkable lives, especially Emmie, who has seen so much in her lovely long life. Each chapter is themed with all three ladies weighing in on the topic and the impact on it within their lives, eg Sex, childbirth, body images, education, love etc. This is definitely a feminist book and holds nothing back. There are some really dramatic moments, some drop the mic moments, and a lot of laughs.
Misfits: a personal manifesto by Michaela Coel
This is a teeny book based on Michaela's MacTaggart Lecture. It starts with a dream, her preparation for the lecture, and then the lecture itself. It covers a lot of her life story leading up to the writing and making of Chewing Gum. It is raw and personal and at times funny. It also includes some reflections on the lecture after the fact. I guess this is for fans only. I really loved it, but wanted more. You may know Michaela from the outstanding series, I May Destroy You.
Guillermo Del Toro: the iconic filmmaker and his work by Ian Nathan
A lovely coffee table book covering all his work with lovely pictures. Whilst this is an unauthorised book, there are a lot of interesting insights into each of his films. I am such a fan of his imagination and storytelling ability. He always makes me wonder, which is marvelous.
The Girl who Reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury
Juliette likes to watch what people are reading on the Metro. One day she is compelled to get off a few stops early and finds a magical bookstore and meets the owner. He selects books for the right people and encourages her to assist him. This was a wonderful, magical book about books and stepping outside of your comfort zone. It wasn't a big read, only 175 pages and totally delightful.
A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill
I met Sulari a few years back at an author talk at work, her mystery series intrigued me and I got her to sign a copy of the first title. I recently read it for my book club and quite enjoyed it. Set in 30s Sydney, and based on history and newspaper articles, it follows the tug of war between left and right at the time. The First World War had ended and the young Bohemians were appearing over town. Sulari paints a vivid picture of the time, the characters are well fleshed out, the story fascinating, even if the mystery/murder was the least interesting thing about the book - these things usually are. I found it an easy read, fun, and learnt something too...and there are 9 more books to follow!
Paris Dreaming by Katrina Lawrence
This was a lovely book about a Francophile who has been visiting Paris since she was a child. She writes chapter by chapter about each period of her life when she has visited Paris and what she got out of the city each time and how things changed. Fascinating! She also adds in various Parisian History, depending on the area she is writing about. This was an easy and a fun read.
What I've Been Watching
The Parisian Agency
I drool over this show, a Parisian reality show about a family real estate business. Mum, Dad, and 4 sons, and they deal in very high end French (and European) real estate. It is pretty perverse in a way, but you get loads of stunning views of Paris, and see into the most extraordinary abodes.
The Godfather Trilogy
After James Caan died, we decided to have a Godfather marathon over three nights. It is one of our favourite films and we had never seen them together. Firstly, as expected, they hold up very well. Then we marveled over how young everyone looks. They are all (even 3 which is definitely the lesser film, but not the dog everyone talks about, although it did need a bit of an edit) exceptional films, wonderfully written, and beautifully filmed. Even the key grotesque scenes are filmed beautifully. A young Pacino broke my heart (again) as I watched him morph into a monster. And Fredo, dear Fredo, always my favourite character, mostly as I love John Cazale (what a stunning career tragically cut short). De Niro and Brando are the big shots for sure and for reason. Watching them is something else.
What really struck me with this viewing (and goodness knows how many times I have seen them), was the supporting cast of nameless people. The people who make up the wedding scenes, and all the other big people scenes. Each and every one of them authentic in their look, fitting in beautifully, from the era and the either Italian, or Italian American. This was exemplified by the terrific set design and costumes, you were truly transported into the era. And that stunning soundtrack by Nino Rota.
The other thing that struck me this time were the women. Sure The Godfather is all about the men, Brando, De Niro, Pacino, Duvall, Cazale, Caan, and many more. But Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, Morgano King (stunning as Mama Corleone), and even Sofia Coppola are extraordinarily good. As wives and relatives to mobsters, they are usually fairly thankless roles, but Coppola serves them well with wonderfully written dialogue and strong scenes. So the verdict is (as if there was any doubt) The Godfather Trilogy is still a masterpiece, and if you haven't seen it in a long time or (quelle horreur) never seen it, you need to rectify that!
Woah, this was quite the ride. Adam Sandler is a gemstone/jewellery shop owner. He deals with rich clients and a lot of New York gangster types. When he gets his hand on a precious African gem, things go terribly wrong. Double and triple crossing ensue, all the while he is trying to juggle his wife and kids, and his girlfriend on the side. This is gritty and full on, violent and sharp. Sandler is freakin' superb in it. I have never really been a fan of his humour, although I do love The Wedding Singer, but when he pulls it out for a drama, he is brilliant. Not for the faint hearted, but truly worth it to see a remarkable performance.
I thought I had seen this, but obviously not. What fun. Hemsworth is better when he does humour, he is brilliant in fact. Taika Waititi definitely gives Thor the lift he needed, and is a fabulous as the wise-cracking side kick. Fabulous all star cast including Anthony Hopkins and Cate Blanchett. I really enjoyed this movie, except for it could have edited some of the fight scenes...but then I always say that about all of those types of movies.
This film was mentioned towards the end of The Sparks documentary and I realised I had it on my pile of DVDs to watch. Spooky. Written and scored by the eccentric brothers, this is something else. Adam Driver is a stand up comic who falls in love with an beautiful opera singer (Marion Cotillard). Their relationship is tempestuous, but they marry and have a child. The child is shown as a puppet, which sounds weird, and well the movie IS weird, but it works... trust me! Simon Helberg is Cotillard's pianist and he is in love with her. Tragedy strikes and things sail off course and to say any more would be spoilers. This is a very unusual film, it is a musical, and the music is operatic and haunting and stunning. It was unlike anything I have ever seen, and I guess it is not for everyone, but if you want to see something really different, give it a go. I really loved this.
Gentleman Jack S2
I really love Gentleman Jack, about real life Anne Lister, who chose to live her life as a man would with her wife in 1830s Yorkshire. Anne is a large landowner and industrialist and is working on having a casino built on her land. I am unsure how much of the series is based on Anne's diaries and what is fabricated, but it feels realistic enough. Suranne Jones is everything as Anne, and the supporting cast are superb, think Period drama with lesbians and a bit of humour. It is really enticing watching, but sadly this was the last season.
Barry just gets better and better, and season 3 really turns it up. As per each season before it, Barry get a little darker. Gene is no longer teaching, and trying to get back into acting and directing. Barry is trying, unsuccessfully, to distance himself from everyone. And to tell any more would be spoilers. Noho Hank is still the break out star though, man he makes me laugh.
This was nowhere near as good or salacious as S1, but still a great watch. I love the costumes, and set design, the rest - let's face it - is Jane Austen lite. But it is still pleasurable. This season focuses on marrying off Anthony Bridgeton, and introduces new characters to the familiar cast.
Emily in Paris S2
Look, I hate-watch this. I love Paris, and the costumes and the food, but the characters, most especially Emily, are painful and unrealistic. Very much a cardboard cut-out show, where you leave your brain and soul at the door, but in these times, we sometimes need super lite to help us through.
Younger final season
This last season was lacking something, most notably the great Miriam Shor as Diana, and I think we are all over the will they/won't they of Liza and Charles, but I still enjoyed it. Set amongst a publishing house in NY, it ticked loads of boxes for me, great cast, fun, books, fashion, and New York!
Andy Warhol Diaries
A fabulous 6 part doco based on Andy Warhol's diaries. Featuring all the players with footage and interviews from then, and interviews from now. The diary entries are read and pull the whole thing together. Each episode features an era, I particularly loved the Basquiat one.
Great documentary about the late, great JD Salinger. I was deeply moved by this. I have always loved his writing, and it still holds up today. But I know he was a bit of a challenging character, especially with women. It's difficult. But watching his life potted into a few hours, you realised this was a man with serious mental health issues, and that was before he fought in the war. Then to have so many people wanting the meaning of life from him when he wanted to live a quiet life, well that must also have been difficult for him. War definitely altered his perception of life, and his girlfriend left him for Charlie Chaplin while he was away and he read about it in the paper, such a devastating betrayal. And finally, to have not 1 but 3 murders (well 2 murders - Lennon and Rebecca Schaeffer, and Regan, the attempted murder) because of a book you wrote, that must be incredibly heart wrenching and upsetting. It goes through all of this and more, so much more, and is utterly fascinating.
The Sparks Brothers
When I first heard about this documentary it sounded more like a mockumentary. But it is not. It is about 2 brothers who formed a band, The Sparks, in the late 60s and are still playing today. Their quirky offbeat style - which is ever changing had a large underground following, but they never really found mainstream fame - which is fine by them.
I had 2 reasons to believe they are real, I remember a song by them from the 80s, When I'm With You, it was a great 80s electronic and eerie song with a quirky film clip. And I remember Paul McCartney dressing up as one of them in his Coming Up filmclip.
The documentary is exquisite and one of the best docos I have seen. With loads of footage and clips and music, plus so many interviews with famous people who love them or were inspired by them. And funny, it is really funny. One of their most recent projects was the story and soundtrack to the film, Annette. I thought hmm, and sure enough there was a copy of Annette sitting in my DVDs to watch pile, you can read the review above, but how bizarre. Days later I was watching The Andy Warhol Diaries, also mentioned above, and sure enough they were mentioned again! By the end of the doco I was a fan, and you will be too.
The $50 Million Art Swindle
This was a doco about an art dealer who ended up swindling a lot of money from a lot of New York Collectors. He had set himself up in NY in the art scene, initially as a sort of broker helping others buy art, and then with his own house of art/business. He ran with the rich and posed as one himself, and to do that he needed money and this is where his downfall began. A fascinating tale of what greed can do to a person.
What I've Been Listening To
Much Kate has been devoured in the lead up to Wuthering Heights day.
Andrew and I have been making our way through all the compilation albums each Sunday over brunch when we are at my place. These were part of the collection that were Dads, and he gifted them to me. We have now made our way all through the 70s and have finally commenced the 80s! I think I am going to blog about them as we go, so stay tuned!
Bang On Podcast
Myf and Zan look at the week past in terms of pop culture. Always fun and interesting.
Strong Songs Podcast
I love this podcast but hadn't seen a post for a many months. They had changed where you found the podcast so I had to re-join. ANd then had to play catch up. Nessun Dorma, Carole King, Madonna, Ska, Cover songs, Billy Joel, They Might Be Giants, Earth, Wind and Fire, Talking Heads, and The Cars were some that were featured.