Sunday, January 9, 2022


What I've Been Reading 

Soar: a life freed by dance by David McAllister - this was the wonderful autobiography of Australian Ballet's David McAllister. He wrote about his young life in WA and his dreams of being a dancer after seeing Nureyev dance on his television, and his hard work to be accepted into the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne and his time with the Australian Ballet. What a fabulous story, fascinating with many ups and downs but such a positive spirit, this man can do anything. Once he retired he took up the role of director of the Australian Ballet for 20 years and this was also equally as interesting. If you love ballet, theatre and behind the scenes of art you will love this. If you love a good autobiography, you will also love this. Definitely one of my top reads of the year.

Thirty Thousand Bottles of wine and a pig called Helga by Todd Alexander - this was a fabulous sea or tree change tale. Todd and his partner Jeff up sticks from the corporate world in Sydney and move to a farm with a vineyard on it in the Hunter Valley. The book is a snapshot of their journey, and it is hilarious. Whilst it was obviously a lot of hard work, there are many funny tales along the way. This was an absolute joy to read.

Thirsty by Joel Creasey - this came through work as a talking book, read by Joel and I thought this will be fine and it bloody was! It was also far more fascinating than I thought. Joel has achieved a lot in his young life and is very open and honest about his 'celebrity'. I loved this, and laughed a lot. 

What I've Been Watching

Get Back - I am going to review this properly in a separate blog, but it is easily the best thing I have seen this year and quite possibly the best thing I have ever seen in my life. I am obviously a fan, but Peter Jackson has simply gifted us with perfection, and insight into what being a Beatle is, their genius, their sense of fun, their concerns, and their music. I don't know I will ever be able to think about this without weeping.

McCartney 3, 2, 1 - this works well alongside Get Back. Rick Rubin and Paul McCartney chat over a soundboard looking at the musicality of random McCartney songs from The Beatles, Wings, collaborations, and his solo career. Shot beautifully in black and white, Rubin knows his stuff, and is comfortable enough not to go all fanboy, but you can also tell he is a fan. He pulls songs and gets McCartney to talk about writing and recording it, tidbits we have not heard before, some we have, but mostly new ground focused on musicality. This is for music fans only, and I bloody loved every minute of it. And the 6 episodes barely touch the surface. I love Rubin, sitting cross legged and barefoot on the floor at the feet of McCartney, like a student soaking up everything he is saying. I would be the same, hanging on his every word and just reveling in the music. This is a class act show!

Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace a beautiful and haunting performance. Nick at a grand piano alone. It was filmed for a streaming event due to tour cancellations because COVID. It was shot in one take with two cameras and is stunning. I love Nick pared back and it is such a gift to fans and indeed anyone who loves music.

George Fest: celebrating George Harrison a mix of musicians playing songs by George Harrison in celebration of his life. Filmed in LA in 2014 is starred Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Norah Jones, Wayne Coyne, Conan O'Brian, Weird Al, Perry Farrell, and Dhani Harrison amongst many more. And it was sheer joy.

Succession S3 - this show, this show! It is easily the best show on tele right now, each season outsmarts the previous and S3 is no exception. It takes up exactly where S2 ends and twists and turns until the magnificent ending. There is so much to say and yet I really do not want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't caught up. The writing is as magnificent as ever, the acting just a masterclass. There are some scenes in the final episode that made me shout just give them all the Emmys now. It truly is a stellar cast, right down to the bit players and the guest stars. There is more backstabbing and recoil than JR Ewing would ever be able to handle. The sets as always as expansive, but even this season ups the ante. The ending was truly shocking and unexpected but yet as you realised what had happened you realised it had been shown to you all along, you just were not looking when you were meant to. Utterly brilliant, bring on S4.

Ted Lasso - it didn't take long to get into the groove of Ted, I think it is a really likeable and enjoyable show, but possibly not as amazing as the hype. It IS well written, tight, rarely a dull or editable moment. And not just well written but cleverly written. The ensemble cast is layered and remarkable. I felt good watching it, and was genuinely entertained. I particularly love the female characters and their layers. Looking forward to S2.

Fires- this was utterly gut wrenching and I am unsure I can recommend it. Each episode pretty much broke me. The series features true stories from the awful fire season we had in Dec 19/Jan 20. The storytelling was tight and remarkable, the acting superb, but by god, it was difficult to watch. I went through a LOT of tissues. This does deserve a watch, but boy it was trying.

Escape to the Chateau S7 - this show is like snuggling under a warm blanket on a cold day with a beautiful cup of hot chocolate. I love the Strawbridges, and their stunning castle, I am certain we would be firm friends. There is nothing this couple cannot do in terms of renovations and decorations. With the world in lockdown, there are no events to prepare for, they get some well needed down-time and can get to some of the projects they keep putting off due to lack of time. simply magical!!!

Step into paradise - was a great documentary about designers, Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. It retells their early years, their friendship and their fame. It was really good and fascinating.

The  Books that changed me - this was 3 episodes of magic, hosted by Claudia Karvan and about the great Australian novels. My only criticism is they only briefly touched on the books listed and there were even more books that could have been added. This series could have been 10 episodes. Totally worth watching.

The French Dispatch - I adore Wes Anderson films, I wait with anticipation for each and every one. Even his 'lesser' films are genius. And this one was a homage to The New Yorker, one of my favourite magazines, but not just The New Yorker but a French version of it. So as a Francophile, you can imagine how many boxes this film ticked before I even saw it. So it risked me being very disappointed, but I wasn't. Wes is a genius, in every way, not just his unique design. This was superb, divided into vignettes or magazine pieces from various writers (based on real-life New Yorker writers over the years).The cast, as always, diverse and amazing. Tilda Swinton has never been more amazing. The cinematography is stunning, using so many techniques, your mind starts to spin. Every inch of it is perfection. I cannot wait to see it again, as I know I missed so much, as so much was happening, it was difficult to take it all in in one sitting and really do it justice. If you have never watched a Wes Anderson film, shame on you, this may not be the one to start with, it is definitely niche Anderson, more than he ever have, but boy I love him so much for this!

Supernova - this was not as great as I expected and I was a bit disappointed. Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth play a long term couple and Tucci has dementia. So they take one last road trip across the UK. It has funny moments, but is mostly melancholy and is quite lovely, but it just didn't grab me as I thought it would. Still worth watching though.

What I've Been Listening to

Tomorrowland by Bob Evans - a very laid back but listenable album. 

Medicine at Midnight by Foo Fighters - I know a lot of people are bagging this one, but I don't mind mellow Foos. I thought it was a good solid album

0202 by The Rubens -  I really like these guys, but found this a little ho hum.

OK Human by Weezer - I love Weezer, with this they have moved from their pop sensibilities to more anthematic pop/rock but I quite enjoyed it.

My sister thanks you and I thank you: The White Stripes Greatest Hits - The White Stripes - what a grand collection of eclectic songs. I do enjoy The White Stripes, but prefer Jack solo.

Herald by Odette - I saw Odette at Womad last year and she was spectacular, what a divine voice and this album does not disappoint. A lovely soulful album.

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