Film list…a quick blog episode before January disappears – or before I do

Hope the list gives some hints for other film lovers

Hope this list conveys some hints and happy memories for other film lovers. Do look now!

When friends start sending me their top ten films, carefully calibrated in A, A -, B+ etc categories, at the same time inquiring about my progress, I start to get the hint.

So here is one film lover’s ramble/scramble through some of the most remarkable films that I experienced in 2015 –  at least, those I can actually remember. I haven’t as yet managed to see Carol, Spotlight, The Danish Girl, The Big Short… given their mid-late January release dates. In any case, I will be overseas at a magnificent wedding when their seasons begin. Realistically, those probable Oscar nominees  will have to wait to be considered by me next year, as I didn’t view them in 2015 anyway.

Of course, I also haven’t managed to see many films that other people have loved and recommended. But within my fairly dedicated, if rather limited, film-viewing diet, here is The List for general digestion. Of course some of these were made in 2014, or even earlier, but my excuse is that I wasn’t able to view them until 2015…

From Far from Men to The Assassin: foreign language films extraordinaire

An early one I loved was Far from Men, a beautifully executed film set in 1954 in Algeria, with Viggo Mortensen in the leading role, and with a score by Nick Cave. This profoundly moving French film is based on a short story by Albert Camus, and this was a brilliant start to the year for me. I saw it twice in quick succession. A second international film that impressed me in the new year was Leviathan, a Russian film that evoked another kind of dark grandeur, depicting an ordinary man being persecuted relentlessly by corrupt officials.

A superior neo-noir Spanish film screened at the Spanish Film Festival was Marshland, a crime genre film that was quite delightful and grim at the same time.

Another memorable film festival film I thoroughly enjoyed was the wry, moving, funny, sad Italian film, Mia Madre (My Mother), directed by the amazing Nanni Moretti, whose films I always seem to enjoy. This one did not disappoint. Moretti also plays a key role in his film, as per usual.

Clouds of Sils Maria, directed by Olivier Assayas, is another excellent French film that, while being wordy and complex, is also involving and gripping.  Juliette Binoche and Kirsten Stewart are particularly outstanding in their roles as ageing actress and her personal assistant. Life and art certainly mirror each other in this intriguing film.

At the new Queensland International Film Festival, the outstanding fare for me was the beautifully made, achingly fierce opening night film, Timbuktu, and an off-the-wall, unexpectedly delightful French cinematic TV series, screened as a three hour film – or was it five? – Li’l Quinquin. Directed with a quirky, lighter touch by the formidable Bruno Dumont,  this serial killer/police procedural production set in the French countryside has lingered with me for a long time – always a great sign of a different kind of masterpiece. Thanks Huw!

The end of the international film festival year was marked by the Brisbane Asia-Pacific Film Festival.

Discussion on The Assassin and martial arts films, conducted by the wonderful Kiki Fung and Sam Ho.

Discussion on The Assassin and martial arts films, conducted by the wonderful Kiki Fung and Sam Ho.

Amidst this feast of films in November, I enjoyed many, and a few stood out for me. Amongst them were Small Town, Early Winter and The Assassin. Small Town was a deeply personal film, made in 1997, by the great Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan. This is his first film, and, as a dedicated admirer of his later films, it was a great treat for me to see this early work. Early Winter is an impressive Canadian/Australian co-production, directed by Michael Rowe (an Australian currently living in Mexico). Trish Lake from Freshwater Pictures, based in Brisbane, is a co-producer. This is a powerful, suitably claustrophobic film, wonderfully shot and edited, intimately revealing a marriage in crisis.

The dazzling, award-winning martial arts film The Assassin (by Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien) is visually stunning and a great portrait of a female assassin. While the narrative arc is quite mysterious, it is best just to relax and immerse oneself in the exquisite poetry of this beautiful film.

English language films

Two Australian films I particularly relished were the very moving Holding the Man, and the wild spectacle of Mad Max: Fury Road. I saw the latter in a New York cinema which was a special treat. With the former, I had not read the book by Timothy Conigrave, nor had I seen the play based on that book. However I thought the film was very sensitively handled.  It also provided  a realistic, visceral portrayal of the AIDS crisis in the Eighties. Many of us lost dear friends at that time, making the film doubly poignant.

Inherent Vice, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, was my favourite American film of 2015. What a terrific roller coaster ride this enjoyable film was, with Joaquin Phoenix playing a stoned private detective in Venice Beach. Another  English language film I hold in high esteem is Macbeth, with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the key roles. directed by the Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel. This was a dark, brooding piece, tightly drawn.  I also was impressed by Lobster, a dystopian black comedy film by the extraordinary Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos,  and starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. That one has kept me awake at night…Then I caught Locke on Foxtel, and thoroughly immersed myself in Tom Hardy’s remarkable one man effort, driving his car to his destiny.

Regarding documentaries, it is hard to beat the extraordinary Amy, a towering film. Directed by Asif Kapadia, Amy explores the life and death of the diva Amy Winehouse – a gut wrenching experience. Other worthwhile documentaries I enjoyed are What Happened. Miss Simone? a gritty biopic on Nina Simone’s tragic life. And of course, Iris, a fun film on the flamboyant, eccentric fashionista Iris Apfel. I also commend the uncompromising Frackman, an inspiring Australian documentary on anti-fracking activism, again co-produced by Trish Lake.

Now comes the hard part – ranking the films. I know also that sadly I have missed a couple of Iranian films I enjoyed at the lovely Iranian film festival, but, regrettably, I can’t find the program details for those at present.

This is my top ten in order, for now:

Far from Men, Inherent Vice, Amy, Clouds of Sils Maria, The Assassin, Leviathan, Mia Madre, Holding the Man, Lobster, Li’l Quinquin.

 

 

 

 

 

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SCREEN CULTURE: My favourite tv treats of 2015

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My head is reeling from perusing the overload of lists by too many popular culture commentators, proclaiming their 10 or 20 best/worst tv series for 2015. Some of these lists I tend to agree with, by and large, while others I wonder what planet they are on. But that isn’t the point here; in the best ‘seeingmeout’ blog tradition over the past several years, I am shamelessly contributing to the overload,  boldly placing my television highlights list in the mix, for dialogue, for enjoyment, for serious thought about the delights of a year’s viewing. I will publish my 2015 Best Film list sometime soon.

I now have Netflix, Foxtel and free-to-air television available, along with web/internet fare via the computer. This is definitely overload binge mania potential indeed, although I think my efforts are pretty small scale, compared with some other people’s secret indulgences. This glittering multi-platform flexibility both enriches and muddies my viewing experiences on the small screen.  I am also still having some problems with my technological setup here at home. Hence, I think I will need to acquire a new tv set with some more whizzbangery. Hopefully, this will eventuate in the not-too-distant future, if the budget will allow such indulgence, if I can find a willing, non-patronising whizz kid to help me set it all up, if…

 THANK YOU TV GOD: SBS & the ABC are still standing, wobbly though they may be

The Sydney Morning Herald TV Guide is pretty reliable and essential reading every week

The Sydney Morning Herald TV Guide is pretty reliable and essential reading every week

I mainly watch the ABC and SBS on the free-to-air viewing option.  The highlights of television drama viewing for me in 2015 on free-to-air, definitely came courtesy of SBS. It is hard to rank these particular gems, but I will try. The ABC drama was not of quite the same overall standard, though I am enjoying the very promising Exile early this year.

Probably the best drama for me was FARGO series 2. This series  became better and better as it progressed to its dazzling finale. The delights were manifold:  the antics of Kirsten Dunst and her butcher spouse; the grimness of the real villains on both sides engaged in their epic fight to the death; the folksy homespun goodness tinged with tragedy of the lawman and his sweet family, including his father- in-law, played by Ted Danson…

A close second was a very different drama from Denmark called THE LEGACY, concerning the vicissitudes of a family in crisis after their artist matriarch dies. I liked how it was written, acted and directed so flawlessly – the viewer’s sympathies were often  twisted around in unexpected ways. I trust that series 2 will be forthcoming very early in the new year.

Next on this sub-list is the US TV police procedural series, BOSCH, based on the Michael Connelly books. As I have read all the Bosch books over many years of dedication,  I had my own image of my favourite character Harry Bosch of course. The actor in the central role, Titus Welliver, didn’t really live up to my own image of Harry, although I did warm to Titus more as the series progressed. While the plot lagged a little at times, and the love interest was rather limply handled, the production values were high. The mood was gritty LA noir, although not as darkly existential as the variable but interesting True Detective Season 2.

A very good Australian series was THE PRINCIPAL, with old favourite Alex Dimitriades in the leading role. Like East West 101, this was a standout gritty multicultural drama. I am also anticipating similar high quality in a different way, with The Family Law sitcom series coming up very soon in the new year.

ABC HIGHLIGHTS

The ABC excelled for me in 2015, particularly in the arena of well-produced shows which struck just the right note – e.g. the engaging Please Like Me, and the witty, satirical fare of Utopia, Gruen, and Sean Micallef’s Mad as Hell. These shows rarely disappointed.

Of course, the news and current affairs offerings from the ABC were largely superlative. My evergreen favourites were Insiders, the 7.30 Report, Four Corners, and the Drum. 

Other free-to-air fare

Channel 10 continued to screen the new series of The Good Wife, a legal drama that I enjoy following.

And thank heavens channel Eleven screens The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; I was missing his wonderfully outrageous wit and interviews when The Colbert Report finished on Foxtel during the year. In the new format, he is particularly acidic and insightful on the current presidential race, and has some great guests. While he is rather trapped in that standard late show format that Americans seem to love, he manages to break some of the corny rules and embed his own classy imprint on the genre.

NETFLIX: one free month slipped into a subscription…

On Netflix, fairly recently acquired (the line of least resistance), I find the pressure to binge is not working too well. However I have thus far enjoyed GRACE AND FRANKIE with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterson. What a sterling cast for this entertaining and quite moving comedy drama. I am looking forward to Series 2.

Another favourite has been NARCOS. It is hard to beat a ‘true’ story about the Columbian drug cartels in the time of Pablo Escobar and Ronald Reagan. On the downside,  the rather highhanded voiceover narrative can be a bit irritating.  This patronising device supposedly emphasises the subjective, verisimilitude factor, but can also be used to underline the key points, just in case the viewer is a bit slow in grasping it all. However, overall, I have found Narcos a quite fascinating and gripping drama. I have always been a sucker for mafia-style crime stories, hearkening back to that great Italian series The Octopus (La Piovra) which ran from 1984 – 2001and of course the superlative HBO series The Sopranos.

RITA has its  flaws,  yet this is quite an eye-catching Danish series, particularly if you aren’t up to the challenges of more demanding fare all the time. When it comes to tv production, the Danes certainly have class, e.g. Borgen, The Killing, The Bridge. On the other hand, Rita is more melodramatic, more mainstream than those superlative dramas. While each Rita episode isn’t always a stunner, there are some great moments. The key protagonist Rita is a feisty woman teacher in her forties, who has always made a mess of her private life, but is inspirational with her students – pleasant viewing for a rainy afternoon. Also it was heartening to find some non-American international TV programs on the frustratingly limited Netflix suite offered here in Australia.

I also enjoyed LONGMIRE, a police series with a difference. It doesn’t measure up to JUSTIFIED (Foxtel), which is also part cop show, part contemporary Western. While Justified is well written and fastpaced, with the bonus of a gorgeous main protagonist, Longmire moves at a slower pace. However the characters are involving, and while the plot lags at times, this series did engage and earned some  pretty high points from me.

I started the British series RIVER about a world-weary detective who sees and engages with dead people. It is worth further exploration, as is BLOODLINES, with Ben Mendelsohn. Time is of the essence here. Again bingeing isn’t quite my thing…

 

THE FOXTEL SMORGASBORD: SOME 2015 HITS 

A snapshot of some programs that I have recorded on Foxtel

A snapshot of some programs and films that I have recorded recently via Foxtel. A pressing smorgasbord, never finished.

The most extraordinary television experience overall for me this year was definitely the HBO series THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST. This brilliant documentary series was actually watched by me on the long haul flight from Brisbane to New York. On my return home, I fortunately caught the episodes again on Foxtel, and I was just as captivated the second time. Unmissable.

THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH is also unmissable. It used to be hosted but the extraordinary Jon Stewart, of course, but the handover occurred in 2015 when, much to my dismay, Jon decided to step down. However, the youthful South African seems to be filling the role creditably. Also AMY SCHUMER’S stand up routines, as well as her own comedy series, have been very entertaining. I also didn’t want to miss the new series in 2015 of LOUIS CK. While Louis seemed to be perpetually in crisis, and the series was often quite dark and even difficult to watch, this is still innovative television.

Another enjoyable program I discovered last year on Foxtel channels was the cop show BABYLON, about an American communications hotshot, trying to work on changing the image of the Metropolitan Police in London. Sadly I think this one isn’t continuing into a second series. Meanwhile, I have been enjoying the droll comedy drama THE DETECTORISTS about two bungling guys with their trusty metal detectors looking for mediaeval treasure troves on the fields of England. THE SYNDICATE is another well-crafted British series I have been following, concerning the plight of those who win the lottery and how things don’t always turn out as planned. There is excellent casting on all of these British series.

I also have tuned into the program SCREEN, hosted by Margaret Pomerantz and Graeme Blundell, who review the latest TV and films. They are joined by a bright young internet program reviewer, whose name currently escapes me. Informative and quite enlightening.

The Best Viewing,  Spoiling the Best and Failing Memory

And last, but not least, I have to mention MR. ROBOT – a highly recommended American series about computer hacking and capitalist corruption that I started watching compulsively, after an initial resistance to the title. However the problem now is that I ceased watching it rather abruptly, when the program started getting rave reviews on many Best TV of 2015 lists. Much to my horror, one reviewer casually gave away a crucial spoiler, thereby indeed spoiling my viewing pleasure. Subsequently, I can’t really include this in my final list. I will no doubt return to the series, but…

I have sketched here my small screen highlights overall. No doubt I have forgotten some good ones along the way.  I find it hard to recall when, for instance, the excellent Broadchurch screened here. Was there a new series in 2015 or am I thinking of the repeat, or the American remake version? I know I shouldn’t let things slip in my viewing / tv research memory, but that is how it is for now. I am starting to think my short-term memory  (i.e. second half of 2015) is more functional.

In any case, with all these reservations, I guess my Top 10 ranked list would be:

The Jinx, Fargo, The Daily Show, The Legacy, Bosch, Grace and Frankie, Utopia, Amy Schumer, Please Like Me, The Principal.

 

 

Episode 22: Confessions of a Grumpy Old Woman

Savouring delights and horrors

In recent times, I have been indulging in the happiness-inducing activity of compiling a random list of things that especially irritate me. Grumpy old woman that I am, I want to vent about these delights /horrors here in blog land.  To some, this blog episode, in itself, may well be very annoying, having a certain strident, soapbox flavour. Fair enough. Yet, everyone probably has her or his own list that they may feel compelled to shout from the rooftops occasionally.

Hopefully, I will strike some chords with several like-minded people along the way. Alternatively, I will certainly get up the noses of others on some issues.  For light relief, I do end the episode with a short celebration of a few of life’s pleasures, at least as I see them.

The ‘annoyances’ list is not in any particular order from least upsetting to the most upsetting,  or vice versa.

      Aside: One annoyance for you, dear reader –  the pictures this time are only in   the happier zone below. The difficult stuff is harder to illustrate, although I wish I could. Maybe if all the points were joined together visually and aurally, they would make an unusual documentary film…

1. I want to start with an English usage irritation first.  Of course, there are a multitude of headaches in this zone, and many books and blogs have been written on the subject. Nonetheless, I am particularly distressed and even, dare I say, disgusted, by how few people are able to distinguish between ‘bought’ and ‘brought’ anymore. Illiteracy is sadly on the rise from all angles. Even quite competent journalists trip up here. Therefore, I probably have lost this battle, but I refuse to retreat. For instance: ‘He bought the suitcase over and displayed it to the media.’   Shudder. He didn’t buy it, he was bringing it there. Bought/brought. I rest my case. 

2. On a more visual level,  I cringe when I witness someone drinking directly out of large milk bottles, juice bottles etc from the fridge, then putting the unfinished bottle back for the unsuspecting next user, as if the perpetrator is  innocently sharing these beverages. Pour it into a glass! This practice gives me a shiver down my spine. To me, this is selfish and inconsiderate, as well as unhygienic. When this bottom-feeder cultural practice is portrayed in films and on tv,  usually self-centred men or abominable teens are the perpetrators.  I hear this is also quite common in some households.  When I mentioned this abhorrence recently, a friend shook her head and said slowly, ‘You can never stop a bloke doing that’.

3. Another quite maddening, homespun practice that is often shown in the screen media is the following: the  long-haired heroine has an evening shower, then she goes to bed with dripping wet hair. Why does she not use the drier prior to settling down for the night?  As my mother would say, this is a sure way to get a chill – dear Mum was always worrying about us in relation to catching chills. Recently in the ABC TV series The Beautiful Lie, the heroine performs this ritual very late at night, after having consorted wildly with her lover. The wet hair in this case symbolises infidelity, as she crawls into bed beside her betrayed husband. Enough said.

4. Picnics and camping are outdoor pursuits holding little appeal for me. I don’t mind enduring an occasional companionable picnic, if there is a pleasant view, if the company is tolerable, if it is held in a shady spot, if there are no biting insects around, if I don’t have to sit directly on the ground, if the food is tasty, and if there is a strategic escape route readily available. That statement contains several big ‘ifs’.

And now to camping. In 1970, I travelled across much of  Europe over several months with my partner at the time. We were young, healthy and adventurous. And we camped. Our tent was supposed to be able to resist a Force 10 gale – luckily we weren’t tested to that extent. The campsites were of variable quality, some of them grotty, as well as overcrowded and quite remote.  I particularly disliked the brash, loud American college guys who would hog the showers and use all the hot water, as if this was their god-given right.

After a long time on the road, we were inevitably behind schedule. Thankfully, we had to withdraw from a Kontiki camping trip to Russia and Poland, which we had impetuously pre-booked with some friends. We were both very glad that this adventure didn’t eventuate, particularly after hearing the rather grim post-trip stories from those friends. Also, throughout Europe, we had witnessed, firsthand, the ubiquitous Kontiki expeditions, replete with drunken, gormless Australians. Cringeworthy reality checks can be very useful indeed. Camping and I parted ways long ago.

5. I don’t like certain fads.  Paleo diets, quinoa, kale, rocket, those green shots in a glass…no matter how supposedly good for me, all such food fashions leave me cold. Also  ‘Bondi Hipster’ posing can be galling, whether it be in relation to food and beverage fads or healthy-living fads. While I enjoy the satirical comedy, I dislike the faddishness of gentrification-on-overdrive once again. I do, however, like the trend of preparing food from farm to fork. On the other hand, I suffer the passion for ‘gluten-free’ fare by those people who aren’t genuine celiac sufferers, but who are just super trendies. And I dislike being served food on flat wooden platters. The other day I dared to ask for an alternative china plate, which I received without a patronising comment, so resistance is possible.

6. I hate clowns, sad or happy. Need I say more?  I am also becoming very weary of circuses, particularly the excessively over-produced extravaganzas.

7. Mobile phone contracts give me the heebie-jeebies.  I inevitably become confused and I am invariably ripped off, experiencing difficulty with the rehearsed language  used in these so-called negotiations.  Newspeak is rampant. I am made to feel out-of-date, incompetent and powerless. Anything to do with Telstra these days is a major downer…

8. Earnestly performed Interpretive Dance, while often a source of unintended humour, tends to give me a splitting headache.

9. Anti-intellectuals and rightwing, racist partakers of the history wars all make me fume.

10. I cannot bear all forms of fundamentalism, including happy clappies/tea-party types and ISIS. Or far-right, reactionary Catholics like Tony Abbott. Religious dogma is the scourge of the world – so many crimes and horrors have been perpetrated in the name of religion. I think our governmental institutions should be completely secular in more than name only, and one’s religious beliefs should never be allowed to influence decisions in Parliament. Hence the powers-that-be should stand up and meaningfully embrace secularism, making policies and laws that allow, for instance, equal marital and other rights for the LGBTIQ communities, and the long overdue legalising of abortions in Queensland…

12. I abhor Islamophobia and racism. Too many people think simplistically that all Muslims are bad because of the maniacs on the fringe, who often take the name of the religion in vain. It is like damning all Christians because of the rabid Ku Klux Klan. I am very ‘pro’ a humanitarian approach to all those seeking asylum here.  People seeking asylum are not at all illegal, and there are no queues when you are fleeing persecution and violence.  All our appalling off-shore and on-shore concentration camps should be closed immediately, and alternative, in-community processes should be enacted. I do not hold with smug, defeatist rhetoric, nor do I passively accept the tyranny of the supposed majority. These apathetic, often deeply racist views and practices can be changed. Thank heavens for heroes like Julian Burnside and many other outspoken activists against social injustices perpetrated in our name by people like Peter Dutton.

In a similar vein, the whole Adam Goodes’ saga has been painfully racist, revealing a chillingly ugly side to our culture, fuelled by such lying shock jocks as Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt. I am also disturbed by the increasingly normalised use of that ghastly word assimilation. This word and the outdated, horrendous practices it evokes are definitely racism-driven, conjuring up the stark shadows of Australia’s disgraceful colonial policies and unjust, discriminatory practices inflicted on Indigenous people and migrants during the often shameful invasion history of Australia.

This is a rich, multicultural society, strengthened by diversity and inclusiveness. I try not to despair when new fringe political parties spring up, catering to blatant neo-fascism.

12. Of course, being a feminist, I find misogyny hateful in all its monstrous forms, often manifested in horrendous trolling, domestic violence, oppression and non-equal wages.

13. As far as human beings and their personality traits are concerned, I cannot bear meanness or mean-spiritedness. I also find people who continually manifest narcissistic, self-serving, non-empathetic characteristics, very upsetting and hard to deal with. I deplore mischievous treachery and arch game-playing of all kinds.

14. Petty though this might seem, I also cringe every time I hear someone say ‘haitch’ instead of ‘aitch’, when spelling aloud a word like ‘Helen”…

15. Last but not least, I dislike the Moreton Club, a snob-ridden establishment, situated very close to my dwelling place.  While I like the distinguished historical building very much,  I recoil from the overly well-dressed women who park their posh cars and trail regularly into this club, day and night, at times with their male partners who probably belong to the Brisbane Club, the Queensland Club or Tattersalls. This prominent show of exclusivity by monied snobs represents the power of the social class elite, along with a particular form of gender discrimination, etched here in stark relief.

As I have calculated that the youngest women I see regularly entering the building are about 50,  the place won’t wither away for quite a while yet. Hopefully the progeny of this privileged elite will find the club too retro, stuffy and boring in the not-too-distant future.

A friend who had reciprocal membership there invited me to dinner one night, even though she was very concerned that I wouldn’t talk the talk or even walk the walk of the upper class. I was instructed to dress very conservatively – no slacks allowed, only dresses or skirts – and to indulge in polite, meaningless conversation, thereby not at all revealing my apparently shocking left-wing views. As I was curious to see inside and soak up the ambiance in this enemy territory, I agreed, through gritted teeth, to behave myself on their terms. Never again!

Let There be Light…

Now, surprise, surprise, I want to document a tiny, bright clustering of my delights.  Enough of that darker list for now, although letting it all hang out can be uplifting and even therapeutic.

I derive pleasure and joy from many delightful people and cultural pursuits. Strong friendships and deep-seated loyalty are very important, while betrayal is anathema to me. Here is a small selection of things I like, also chosen at random, but all precious to me in different ways…

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Enjoying a recent chat with the wonderful Sir David Puttnam, producer of many films including Local Hero (1983) – one of my all-time favourite films. Back in the early 80s, I was offered a job as production assistant on this film, but sadly I had to forego that privilege. Ah, the road not taken…

At the Frick Museum - one f my favourite places

At the Frick Museum in New York – one of my favourite places

Watching films and tv series at home in New Farm

Watching films and tv series at home in New Farm

 

Bruce

Bruce and Obama – two American heroes

Another of my heroes,  Paul Keating – a very recent conversation with Kerry O’Brien at the Opera House in October, 2015. (Bring back Keating…!)

 

Good food and wine

Good food and wine in Bologna, Italy

image                                                               Bob and Joan…

And now – a Photo Montage of some friends I love and who bring me joy. Wish I could post pictures of everyone who is equally special to me. And, thankfully, I am not always an Old Grump…

Some lovely friends...

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                                           Happy times everyone… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making room for the women: the subversive power of reading

Making Room for the Women: the subversive power of reading

A famous novel from the Seventies...

A famous influential novel from the 70’s women’s movement…

 

In 1978, I lent my friend Judy the novel The Women’s Room by Marilyn French, and because of this, her husband Nigel accused me of breaking up their marriage. Judy loved this powerful book, which has been considered a key lightning-rod text of the women’s movement. Soon she was questioning the whole basis of her marriage. She subsequently packed up and left with their young daughter.

I suffered a form of collateral damage when Nigel’s rage rained down on my head. He shouted that I had deliberately initiated their irreparable marriage breakdown. That was not my intention. Maybe this incendiary book-lending event was a subversive trigger, and maybe not.

Germaine and Gloria - feminist inspiration

Germaine and Gloria – feminist inspiration at different stages in the journey

At the time, this novel certainly was one of many controversial books circulating in the West – for instance, those written by authors such as Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Simone de Beauvoir. In many forums, including women’s consciousness-raising groups, their prominent symbolic presence, as well as their landmark books, inspired a critical explosion of conversations and actions focusing on the misogynistic chains of patriarchy. Definitely, women were on the move, marching on the streets, challenging gender and sexualities stereotypes. Many of us also demanded access to further education.

The Second Sex - another key feminist text

The Second Sex – another glittering  feminist book eagerly consumed

Seductive education: sweeping aside superficiality 

A Mature Age Entry scheme facilitated free entry for older, less qualified people into the University of Queensland. I was a researcher on a project examining the impact of this phenomenon of Mature Age Entry, charting the narratives of older women returning to study. Excited by this open tertiary study opportunity, Judy enrolled the following year in a Bachelor of Arts, specializing in Women’s Studies and Sociology. This gave her dangerous access, according to Nigel, to even more taboo, transformative ideas.

I guess her burning desire for the illuminating offerings of Higher Education was also my fault, in Nigel’s mind at least. When Judy and Nigel met, she worked as a glamorous air hostess. Their eyes locked romantically across a crowded domestic flight. From his perspective, Nigel, an average kind of guy, had definitely gained a valuable asset, a prestigious, beautiful prize attached to his arm, a desirable handbag for both social and business events. This glittering object also perfectly performed her fabulous domestic goddess role, delivering smart dinners at home, impressing his work associates with her divine table settings and her delicately stuffed mushrooms.

Stuffed mushrooms - a Seventies timewasting masterpiece

Stuffed mushrooms – a Seventies timewasting masterpiece

Yet she hankered after more enlightened stimulation in this claustrophobic, private space, where he paraded his ego as well as his public achievements. To her, motherhood was indeed a very fulfilling part of this package.  On the downside, as both wife and mother, she was even more trapped in a stifling financial and emotional dependency vortex, from which there seemed no escape.

At no stage did Nigel engage in critical self-reflection and face the reality of their marriage breakdown situation. He could not and would not recognize that the fault might have lain, in so many ways, with his deep-seated, masculinist assumptions and attitudes. Their relationship bargain was entwined inexorably in the whole fossilized notion of traditional marriage, based largely on a cultural web of outdated romantic myths and lies.

Monogamous marriage as an institution was then about gendered and sexualised power, privileging a masculinist, heteronormative view of the world. Such an ideology positioned a woman as an inferior, docile person within society, to be largely seen and not heard. The women’s movement of the 70’s, aka Second Wave Feminism, fundamentally challenged these deeply ingrained values, beliefs and attitudes.

Changing patterns: beyond entrapment

At least women’s voices are being heard today in Western democracies, and great advances have been made. We might even see a few more conservative women appointed to the front bench in the Australian Parliament, now that our regressive, sexist Prime Minister/Minister for Women, Tony Abbott, has been removed from office. However, all such seeming advances are often muted trappings both here and globally, a form of ‘one step forward and two steps back’, even for educated, middle class, cisgendered women in the privileged West. Also conservative women often reinforce the dominant ideologies and vehemently deny being feminists, further blocking progress for women’s equality.

The hegemony of the heterosexual couple also still prevails, often bringing a false sense of power for the woman within such a seductively comfortable relationship framework. Single people, particularly women, who do not conform to this normative, exclusive structure can often be isolated and treated as inferior, or even as a threat. Single men don’t seem to suffer the same negative experience in couple-land. As comedian Judith Lucy says, they are socially acceptable as long as they still have their own teeth – not much to live up to.

Regrettably, New Millennium versions of Nigel’s patriarchal view of the world still tend to hold firm. As for people from the Australian LGBTIQ community, basic equal human rights are still, on many levels, a long way off, including within the domain of marriage equality as well.

 

Doris Lessing, Mary Wollstonecraft, Kate Millett - amazing women writers

Doris Lessing, Mary Wollstonecraft, Kate Millett – amazing women writers challenging the bounds of patriarchy

 

Explosive 70’s stories

In my early research on mature women returning to study, I encountered many variations on the Judy story. After their return to study, quite a few women were suffering abuse on the domestic front and immediate financial hardship, but gaining in knowledge and power in the arduous long term. Often these were women from conservative backgrounds, experiencing an extraordinary knowledge ferment and a radicalising metamorphosis.

One extreme case that I encountered in my study was that of a northern European migrant woman. Her tradesman husband forbade her from achieving her ambitions. Over many years, she had to go underground and study part-time externally, hiding her books, and any evidence of her notes or her communication with the University. This was doubly hard, given that he had total control over the money she could spend every day. She had to account for every last cent, and therefore posting assignments back to the University, as well as any bus fares and so on, had to have receipts.

From this repressive environment, she managed to attain a degree in Education. She finally plucked up courage and broke the news, inviting him to come to her graduation. His fury knew no bounds, as, to him, his male authority had been challenged on so many levels. Things did not work out well for her. Her heroism still astounds me.

Simone's marvellous autobiographies…what a goddess.

Simone’s marvellous autobiographies…what a goddess.

Fear of feminism

I gave a paper at a conference on Higher Education in Sydney about the women I had interviewed in this study. Of course, the daily papers and radio show hosts latched on to one section in particular in my presentation. Unsurprisingly, the media players sensationalized my argument. They claimed erroneously that the phenomenon of mature women returning to study directly related to the steep increase in divorces within Australia. Women who were intellectually on the move therefore ’caused’ untold familial and societal havoc and wreckage. ‘Down with feminism’ was the blatant subtext of the right-wing media coverage.

This fear of feminist power still prevails in many quarters. Perhaps there was a direct cause-effect link to a long ago innocent, yet explosive, lending transaction regarding a timely book, The Women’s Room. A little forbidden knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing.

Thanks to Laurie Penny for her Masterclass at the 2015 Brisbane Writers’ Festival. She thought the Women’s Room story was worth pursuing.

Chapter Nineteen: Adolescent sex, drugs and rock n roll, Brisbane style

Going to the movies at the Boomerang picture theatre was fun, until some boys put chewing gum in our hair. Ah, the miseries of adolescence!

Going to the movies at the Boomerang picture theatre was fun, until some cheeky boys rubbed chewing gum into our hair. Ah, the miseries of adolescence! I turned the mammoth age of 70 this year. Hence I have been reflecting more on my so-called journey along several crooked often tortuous paths, containing good and bad choices, not just in relationships and career paths, but also, cool and uncool fashion, flattering and horrific hairdos (sometimes with chewing gum damage). Memories of key moments in adolescence loom large…

Recently I heard a contemporary update on the state of play in adolescent land in 2015. A friend has expressed concern about her early teenaged daughter’s being admired and clumsily wooed by boys. One unpleasant boy was particularly aggressive; he has been dealt with, satisfactorily consigned to the dustbin of history.  Meanwhile, a more respectful boy is seeking the beautiful girl’s attention. Hopefully things will all go swimmingly;  but as those of us well past adolescence know, that phase of life can be an exciting, fun-filled and, at the same time, often painful physical and emotional roller coaster.

Brisbane in the late Fifties and early Sixties was rockin’ and rollin’ with the rapidly burgeoning Western Capitalist phenomenon – the construction and the exploitation of the shiny new baby boomer product, the ‘teenager’.  And we embraced it all. Well, most of it. My mother wouldn’t let me own an Elvis Presley record, nor would she allow me go and see the film Jailhouse Rock, which she thought was an outrageous, immoral step-too-far for her teenage girl, who was apparently in danger of screaming, fainting and ripping her clothes off in ecstasy.

Hanging out in the front yard with Pippa & Pedro in 1959 -60.

Hanging out in the front yard with Pippa & Pedro in 1959 -60.

Devils, God and Barbarism in early Teen Land

Between the ages of 13 and 15, my friends and I were each attempting to manoeuvre our own private roller coasters, at the same time communally attending random parties and school dances, all of variable quality, sometimes with dud blokes, at other times with seemingly gorgeous (if a bit pimply) crushes.

With other teens in the local neighbourhood, I also went to monthly Scout dances at the local hall in Yeronga Park, and the occasional Fellowship dances at the Yeronga Church of England Hall. These were all pretty innocent really, although there was the occasional outdoor assignation for a bit of a pash in the dark with someone called Kevin or Noel or Lennie….

My brother Pedro and cousin Godfrey did get into terrible trouble after decorating the church hall with dramatic posters they designed. These imaginative posters featured provocative quotes from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and other iconic sub-cultural sayings such as ‘Live fast, Die young and Be a good-looking corpse’, along with art works similarly confronting to conservative older people. The two were henceforth deemed to be Devils Incarnate and were summarily banished forever from church dances, a ban that certainly didn’t scar them for life.

Meanwhile, that same sanctimonious church minister who banished my devilish relatives, was rubbing himself up against my back whenever, at age 14, I practised alone on the church organ in readiness for Evensong. I found this creepy activity decidedly  discomforting,  and I always shrank from him, knowing it was wrong but not able to say anything.  Then I had no words to name this unwelcome advance, and to articulate my outrage – sexual abuse, harassment etc are concepts from later in the 20th century.

And this was a man of intimidating stature and power, not one of the dirty old men who flashed occasionally at Pippa and me in Yeronga Park as we rode our bikes past them. When that same minister visited me in hospital at the age of 18, just after I had been critically injured in an accident, proclaiming that my injuries were all part of his God’s plan for me, I turned my back on him and his religion forever.

 Let’s Dance: Endearing and Not-so-Endearing Mating Rituals

The scout master and his henchmen would try to block bodgies and widgies from coming along to those dances.  There was a sprinkling of such disengaged young people in our neighbourhood, and I recall once getting a cigarette burn on my arm from one of the bodgies. I wasn’t sure why he did that – lashing out against the type of person I represented to him I suppose, or even some kind of weird mating ritual.

On Saturday mornings, Joan and I would go fairly regularly to O’Connor’s Boathouse at North Quay, ostensibly to learn how to dance with equally gormless and awkward partners, and, in reality, mutually sifting through the chaff hoping to find someone worthwhile for future assignations. Other dance classes were held around town, sometimes after school, also quite useful for meeting boys. As many of us were at single sex schools, meeting anyone of the opposite sex was tricky, given the tough school rules on consorting with boys after school hours. On such dancing afternoons, we were awkwardly and self-consciously grading the talent on display in their distinctive school uniforms, a glaring form of social labelling. We Grammar girls, for instance, were always competing for the boys’  attention with the snobby girls from St Mag’s (St. Margaret’s) and Somerville (Snobberville) House.

What School Did You go to? A Pertinent Aside..

At that time, and even today, the strong residue of such labelling still holds in some quarters.  Brisbane was then an inward-looking white tribal culture, primarily built around the suburb you lived in,  what family you came from, and very definitely what secondary school you attended. This narrow GPS culture of privilege and exclusion is (hopefully) gradually changing. However, when I was growing up and mixing  in various social circles at school and at Uni, and even being interviewed for jobs,  ‘What school did you go to?’ was a front-and-centre defining moment.

The ripple effect of such parochial assumption and identification  is integral to the toxic phenomenon of homosocial reproduction, where ‘like picks like’ – historically, mostly white males from elite schools – for the top drawer, privileged career placements, scholarships, and advancement of many kinds. It becomes all about whom you know, whom you recognise that you would feel comfortable with; merit and equal opportunity tend to fly out of such elevated windows.

Party Central: let’s pash

While I found that some worthless boys from a more ‘upper class’ suburb and a posh school would turn up their noses, dropping me when they discovered where I lived, our modest home in Annerley was actually a very handy one for teenage parties. It had a large yard containing various secret nooks and crannies such as ferneries, rock walls, and even a leafy hill out the back for scrambling up and hiding behind the large tennis practice board which was centre stage. As well, there were convenient ‘hidey holes’ under the house, as long as you avoided the ping pong/billiard table, and also managed not to trip over my ever-optimistic, home handyman Dad’s gaggle of rusty motor mowers and swag of old washing machines scattered around in various states of disrepair.

Dressed for a Friday night beatnik party - the boys came along later. Photo 1 (left) ~ Beatnik-themed party at my place. The boys arrived after tea.
Photo 2  (right)~ pre-party practising on a bongo drum

I can only now recall two kissing games we played at such parties – I think there were more, but time has clouded my memory. We did of course dance to the latest rock and roll records, trying to be so groovy.  We would also start with the rather tame game of ‘spin the bottle’.  As the evening hotted up, we played Kissing in the Dark, which involved a boy and a girl separately going around and shining torches on couples to find out those who weren’t kissing someone.  As you had to kiss someone for such a long time in this game, it was difficult to breathe, and you often suffered some form of lockjaw. If you were found coming up for air, and you were therefore not clenched in an endless passionate embrace with the person beside you in some dark place, the ‘springer’ would replace you, and the ‘springee’ would become the roaming torch person. The couplings were invariably heterosexual. Any variation on this theme was unthinkable back then, though Pippa and I would occasionally practise kissing so we could get better at it when we encountered the next boy we wanted to kiss.

Amongst the group of guys at these parties, you soon got to know which ones were the best kissers, and make a beeline for them at the start of the game. Joan and I also gloried in the ‘older brother syndrome’ – we were fortunate enough to have on hand a core swag of available blokes to select and invite, friends of either my brother Pedro or her brother Godfrey, who happened to be a couple of years older than the female peer group, a state of play which certainly suited us girls. Mostly we wouldn’t have been seen dead partying with boys our own age – so uncool.

Me and cuddly Dudley - one of my brother's friends who shared the Party Central Annerley house with him

Me and cuddly Dudley – one of my brother’s friends who shared the infamous Party Central house in Annerley with him. I spent the occasional boarders’ weekend here in Brisbane when I was 16 -17, while our parents lived in Cloncurry. More on that epic phase in the next instalment…

Party Postmortem time: unveiling the sexual riddle

One important aspect of all this Sixties pashing was the underground cult of Numerical Sexual Activity. Long postmortem conversations always followed any social events. During these forensic examinations, my girlfriends and I would carve up and examine the entrails of, among other topics, how far anyone went with a particular boy. This truth or dare game became quite mathematical and technical.

 

Party Postmortem back at school

Party Postmortem back at school – 1960

The following is a rather illuminating sexual activity grid we employed, replete with euphemistic labelling. As far as I’m aware, several variations on this grid were prevalent at the time:

2 = kissing

4 = Upstairs outside

6 = Upstairs inside

8 = Downstairs outside

10 = Downstairs inside

12 = penetration with condom

14 = penetration without condom

This of course doesn’t really bear too close an examination. It was girl-centric, in a strange way, and, ironically, most of us had a very hazy idea what variations on 10: downstairs inside actually entailed in real life, for instance, or why 14: penetration without condom was the pinnacle sexual activity. I am not at all sure whether boys had a similar grid framing their own sexual wish list/variations. Theirs was probably more crude and more basic – just a hunch.  Of course my research is purely speculative and conjectural here, and I know this adolescent arena deserves more serious empirical investigation…

More to follow (probably) in the next blog instalment…

 

 

 

Episode 18: New York, New York

Reflections and lights in NYC.

Glittering reflections and lights in dazzling NYC.

 

I am starting to surface post my full-on New York sojourn, when for three hectic weeks in May this year, I briefly morphed (at least in my mind) into a New Yorker, living and breathing in that seductive city. At times I was flying on a New York high, while at other times I was grounded, concerned that I was failing an elusive subject called ‘New York 101’. So much of what I wanted to do often seemed to be defeated by time and place. This city is overwhelming in many ways, yet very rewarding in other, often quite intangible and unexpected ways.

Columbia Circle from the 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Columbus Circle from the 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

I arrived, feeling the exhilaration I always get when in huge and not so huge cities that I love, such as London, Paris, Prague, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne…though with the New York experience, there is a very special visceral form of  happiness and buzz. This was my fifth visit, spanning over about 35 years.

Fantasising at the Algonquin

Firstly, I treated myself to two nights at the famous Algonquin Hotel in mid-town, where I could fantasise about hanging out with the Dorothy Parker crowd on the Round Table. When the concierge said a warm ‘Welcome back!’ to me on my arrival, I accepted the welcome gracefully, even though I had never been there before. Maybe I just look like someone famous?

My bedroom at the Algonquin Hotel

My bedroom at the graceful Algonquin Hotel

The New Millennium refurbishment of this hotel respects the art deco origins and the literary links to the New Yorker, Vanity Fair  and other associated publications. For a whole decade from about 1919, a group of writers such as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Edna Ferber, Franklin P. Adams, Robert E Sherwood and others would have lunch every day at the Algonquin, at the now famous Round Table in the dining room. Today they would be all over social media I guess.

The Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel

The Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel

Most of these writers were critics, and often their acerbic views found their way into the New York Tribune the next day. They influenced young writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Initial funding for the New Yorker magazine was, I gather, given by the Hotel management, and that magazine started up in 1925.

The New Yorker is everywhere in the Algonquin Hotel

The New Yorker is everywhere in the Algonquin Hotel

While I didn’t actually enjoy a meal seated at the Round Table, I dined nearby in the dining room. Friends and I did go back from time to time for a light lunch in the bar, with a view of the Table, nibbling on mini-Reuben sandwiches. Many tourists and visitors come along to the Algonquin every day, asking simply to see the Table in order to soak up the ambiance.

The Algonquin also has amusing ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs in each room, reflecting the literary nature of the place:

image

American Dollars look like Monopoly Money

Over the road from the Algonquin Hotel is a deadly (in every sense of the word) antique jewellery store called Barclay Galleries, where I accidentally found myself at a half-price sale, as if in a dream, purchasing some special jewellery.  The rather crazy but shrewd shop owner even gave me a beautiful diamond necklace to wear around during the day just to enjoy it, even though I definitely wasn’t going to purchase that piece.  I returned it pretty quickly, saying that the necklace was more suitable for Cate Blanchett than for me. I was also of course scared to lose it.

When I finally decided that I would purchase my chosen (supposedly half-priced) items, they assured me I could pay a deposit, and even settle the bill at my leisure from Australia, taking the items with me. That offer made my head spin even more. I did eventually ‘max out’ the credit cards.

I like to think my lovely art deco earrings and necklace are an investment, even potentially an heirloom, rather than a rash indulgence and a rush of blood to the head, in this my 70th year. My lovely New York friend Alicia Manhattan was very supportive that night over drinks in the Algonquin Bar, when I tentatively told her the story and displayed my glittering purchase.

 

Very dangerous jewellery store on W 44th St

Very dangerous jewellery store on W 44th St

 

With my dear friends from England at the Gramercy Tavern where we went to celebrate my 70th birthday. I have the jewellery on but it may be hard to see. Also wearing a Japanese scarf I purchased in Chelsea.

With my dear friends from England at the wonderful Gramercy Tavern where we went to celebrate my 70th birthday. I have the jewellery on but the pieces may be hard to see. Also wearing a Japanese designer scarf I purchased in Chelsea.

Postscript to the Jewellery Saga

It was hard being in the SOMETHING TO DECLARE queue at the airport on my jet- lagged return to Australia, admitting to Customs personnel that I had spent considerably more than $900 on my jewellery gift to myself. For those not in the know, $900 is all you are allowed to spend on any particular item before it has to be declared on entry into Australia. The shop has since sent me a lovely present – an alabaster jewellery case – minus any extra jewels.

Soaking up Chelsea…

One corner of the living room in my apartment on W24th St Chelsea

One corner of the living room in my apartment on W24th St Chelsea

The next place I stayed in was the leafy, gentrified suburb of Chelsea, in an apartment attached to Dupuys Landing http://dupuyslanding.com/Dupuys_Landing_Guest_House/Dupuys_Landing.html.

I was very lucky to be able to stay there, as the rooms and apartments are always in high demand. At the time, the other rooms were occupied by several elderly survivors of the 1945 atomic and hydrogen bombings in Japan. These people were visiting New York schools to talk about why we should be against nuclear weapons. Interestingly, the Dupuys Landing owners are very involved in the anti-nuclear movement.

A primary school in W 23rd Street displaying their love of the arts.

A primary school in W 23rd Street displaying their love of the arts.

Across the road in Chelsea, this sign popped into the window

Across the road in Chelsea, this sign popped into the window

Friends outside the renowned Chelsea Hotel

Friends outside the renowned Chelsea Hotel

When Drippy met Grumpy in Greenwich Village

In the second week, I discovered a chemist shop entitled the Apothecary on Bleecker Street in the Village. Needing something urgently for a drippy nose (I had a head cold) I was about to go in, when who walked past me but Bob Dylan. Was I indeed hallucinating, given that I had unexpectedly encountered Patti Smith only a few days before in another part of Greenwich Village? I wanted to rush over and tell him I loved his work, his concerts in Oz etc etc,  but it didn’t seem right with the man just going about his business. I had to play it ‘New York cool’, which means letting celebrities have an unencumbered private life.
 And my nose was very drippy – definitely not a good look. I sighed and went into the  Apothecary, getting involved in a transaction which took a while. Then I meandered into a jewellery store next door where the owner said he remembered me from 10 years ago  – which was, I suppose, a good sales gimmick….
After that I headed towards the bar on Grove where I was meeting Savannah & Pierre pre the play The Flick. Who should be coming back my way with some grocery shopping bags but Bob again! This time I got an opportunity for more of a full frontal scrutiny. While earlier the profile, the clothes, the demeanor all seemed so right, I wasn’t so sure this time. He seemed irritated by a lot of blaring horns – other people on that street were recognising His Bobness, the god of music. Again I wanted to say something, but held back as I started to wonder if Mr Flared Nostrils  was some kind of deluded nutter – a Dylan impersonator, and not the real thing.
 I mused later that I had definitely not seen him up close and personal at Byron and Brisbane in recent times,  so who knows how the man really looks anymore, especially with no big screen images at his Neverending Tour concerts. Was he ageing well? Older than me, his skin needs some attention, but he is raging against the dying of the light in innovative, creative ways.  However, this guy seemed to be, weirdly enough, more Dylan than Dylan; I let him pass me by. There is no photographic record of  this incident…
I googled later to find out whether Mr Grumpy Dylan was even in town. That search checked out – he had been on the David Letterman show the night before. And the video of that performance confirmed for me that I had encountered the real person in the flesh (and not some dipstick fraud)  in his old haunt, Greenwich Village.
See some stuff here about his recent TV performance:
 http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/david-letterman-bob-dylan-performs-as-hosts-final-musical-guest-on-late-show-10263104.html
Dancing and singing and piano playing buskers in Washington Square near where I saw Patti Smith and Bob Dylan (separately)

Dancing, singing and piano playing buskers in Washington Square, near where I saw Patti Smith and Bob Dylan (separately)

Some Cultural and Social Highlights in NYC – a photo montage

Modern dance gig in Chelsea

Modern dance gig in Chelsea

Birthday cake at the Gramercy Tavern

Birthday cake at the Gramercy Tavern for my New York birthday – the earlier one celebrated  in New Farm was rather different.

At the Frick Museum - one f my favourite places

At the Frick Museum – one of my favourite places

Portrait of Grete Stern - a great exhibition at MOMA by her and her partner Horacio Coppola

Portrait of Grete Stern – we enjoyed a great photography exhibition at MOMA by her and her partner Horacio Coppola

Sculpture Garden at MOMA

Sculpture Garden at MOMA. I loved hanging out at this museum. Thanks to Madam Ping who gave me my treasured Global Membership card.

Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR at their estate in Poughkeepsie, upstate New York. Eleanor was a wonderful woman, ahead of her time. We loved her cottage though we didn't get to see it all. We had to hop on a bus again. The poor ageing African American guide who was suffering some ailment and couldn't walk or talk very well, was told rudely by an Anglo American visitor to 'Speak more slowly and walk more quickly'! Such racist ageism was a knockout.

Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR at their estate in Poughkeepsie, upstate New York. Eleanor was a wonderful woman, ahead of her time. We loved her cottage, though we didn’t get to see it all. We had to hop on a bus again. The poor ageing African American guide who was suffering several ailments and couldn’t walk or talk very well, was told rudely by an Anglo American visitor to ‘Speak more slowly and walk more quickly’! Such racist ageism was a knockout.

Stand up comedy at the Gotham Comedy Club

Stand up comedian Gina Yashire at the Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea

Funky band discovered in the Subway performing at  world peace charity function

Funky band discovered in the NYC Subway – performing here at world peace charity function at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

The Flick - a great play off Broadway. We also went to nearby bar Buvette in Greenwich Village.

The Flick – a great play off-Broadway. We also went to nearby bar Buvette in Greenwich Village.

Bar Buvette - great wine and food here in Greenwich Village. I should have invited Bob Dylan to join us.

Bar Buvette – great wine and food here in Greenwich Village. I should have invited Bob Dylan to join us.

 

The New York Philharmonic orchestra performing brilliantly at St John the Divine Cathedral http://www.stjohndivine.org

The New York Philharmonic orchestra performing beautifully at St John the Divine Cathedral

The NY Philharmonic concert at the huge cathedral of St John the Divine was amazing. http://www.stjohndivine.org

In the VIP section I was lucky enough to sit next to famous culinary expert Rozanne Gold. Check out Rozanne’s blog: http://www.rozannegold.com/rozanne.html.

Thanks dear Alicia Manhattan…

 

Friend at World Peace charity function

Other friends at the same function

Three new friends at the Tanenbaum Organisation glamorous charity function on World Peace at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

An artist's view of New York. (sorry about the image - capricious  wordpress is blocking me to edit this)Au revoir New York … 

EPISODE 17: FREE FALLING, SEPTUAGENARIAN STYLE

 

All boarded up - living in a squat

All boarded up – like living in a squat

A surprise love-fest and a storm-affected bedroom

This blog is rambling along into its second full year, having been started in late 2013. Thanks, dear reader, for hanging in there. I had a surprise note from WordPress recently, informing me that I had experienced a statistical phenomenon on 14 February this year. My blog stats don’t really interest me – usually I get 10 hits, then 3, then none, then 7 whatever.  But suddenly I was galvanised by what is called a ‘spike in the stats’.  Inexplicably, 42 unknown people logged in and read my blog on Valentines Day. Was this some kind of weird love-fest? According to WordPress, my stats are ‘booming’.  Wonders will never cease. However, things have calmed down considerably since the mysteriously spiked love-in day.

Distracted momentarily by the stats phenomenon, I have been feeling a certain kind of cabin fever since the freak hail storm in Brisbane in November 2014. The windows were smashed, and it was pretty scary witnessing shards of glass and huge hailstones hurtling towards me. As I inhabit a national heritage, art deco building, the arrangements for replacing the lead light glass have been quite problematic, and this will take at least another 5 months to fix.

In about 5 weeks, however, the boarded-up windows will finally disappear and be replaced by ordinary glass windows until the beautiful historic windows are fixed throughout the building. At least we will have some light and air again. Thanks to those dear friends who have offered me cool places to stay during this post-storm saga. Your warm generous hospitality has been most welcome.

Leafy vista in my idyllic  Burleigh refuge.

Leafy vista in my idyllic Burleigh refuge.

Turning seventy: what does it all mean?

As some of my readers would know, I am tentatively on the cusp of becoming a septuagenarian, after a decade of being a proud sexagenarian, which was a much more exciting and raunchy-sounding decade. I particularly enjoyed being 69…

On the other hand, the word ‘septuagenarian’ sounds like a kind of disease, involving septicaemia or something equally horrible. Septuagenarian – it will take me a while to get my head around this and become used to entering this formidable decade. But when I think of all the great women who are about my age, I feel a lot brighter and stronger…

For instance, Helen Mirren, Charlotte Rampling, Susan Sarandon, Joan Baez, Hillary Clinton, Deborah Harry, Patti Smith, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler are all heading there very soon, or else are already in their seventies.  Really, it is no-holds-barred for me in that illustrious company, although I don’t think becoming the next Prime Minister is in the grand plan. Sorry Hillary, we could have hung out together on the world stage.

Of course, there are also all my old school mates entering this decade as well. They may not be famous in the same way as the women  listed above are. Nevertheless, they have been very special to me and pretty wonderful to go through life with. I went to all-girls’ secondary schools,  although I still keep up with my mixed class primary school mates as well. The annual Yeronga primary school reunion will be an interesting one this year, marking yet another decade still alive together.

Some Primary School mates

Some Primary School mates

Turning seventy gives pause for thought and reflections over the life lived thus far…My parents died at 74 so that is a fairly bleak thought! But I am trucking along ok, with, like many others, a few dramatic stumbles along the way.

I had a ‘wakeup call’ recently when I fell over a nasty sandbag carelessly left by the Council in the gutter at the end of the street. Falling at my age is always pretty scary, until you find out in Emergency that no bones are broken and that the wounds will mend eventually. One ankle and the other knee all suffered injuries and my face had much bruising and swelling, along with several wounds, including one that had to have stitches. Thanks to the special sweet blokes who helped me on the night, one a dear friend and the other a ‘good samaritan’ stranger.

After several weeks of physio, I finally am driving again, and my face doesn’t look like the train wreck it was. I was scaring people, for instance, on election day as I limped along with my cane, looking like the walking dead. I also realised that climbing up and down 39 steps each day here at home is looming as yet another safety issue to solve in the future.

The offending gutter

The offending gutter and sandbag

A further impact of this fall was underlined for me when the doctor cheerfully proclaimed, as she stitched up my face, “You might need some plastic surgery after this”, not realising what buttons she was pressing.  Even so, she must have noticed the deep scarring I already have on the right side of my face, damage which occurred when I was a passenger in a near-fatal car accident at the tender age of 18.

An accidental miracle

I know I am being a bit silly and over-sensitive, after all this time, but it is not at all surprising, I guess, that this comment did unwittingly trigger some pretty horrific recollections, sensitivities and anxieties for me. For years, I had mercy amnesia about the 1963 accident itself, although I recall only too well being on the critical list for days afterwards in intensive care.

The young woman sobbing in the bed next to me had been accidentally shot in the back by her farmer husband, and was going to be crippled for life. I was luckier than her, as my broken bones and other injuries healed pretty well over the next two years, before I could get back to Uni again. I was declared brain damaged, as well as with permanent facial damage at the time, and after the court case, I was mortified when the daily paper screamed this in the headlines. At the time, I was teaching English and Ancient History at St Peter’s College, trying to be a respectable, functioning person. My ex-husband and I went on a world trip almost immediately for the whole of the following year.

I am of course one of the lucky ones really, having been saved that dark night by sheer happenstance. At the accident scene, the clumsy ambos left me lying on the side of the road, while they attended to the driver, my then boyfriend, Jimmy. It is amazing that, sometime later, I heard that medico friends of my brother-in-law had very luckily turned up at the accident scene on Coronation Drive, and managed to convince the skeptical ambos that they, who were dressed up as sailors for a costume party that Friday night, were actually trained doctors. On examining both me and Jimmy, they urged that he was fine, and that I was about 20 minutes from death.

A close call then. My next direct brush with the Grim Reaper was in September 2012, when I was about 10 hours from boarding a plane to Vienna for a conference. According to the cardiologist who examined me that day, if I boarded that plane, I would die. Maybe I won’t be ‘third time lucky’ in this tricky Bergmanesque-chess game with the grim one, though who knows? I may have 9 lives!

I will finish this on an ‘up’ note, for me at least. Even though I was pretty sore and sorry on election day, the results were very pleasing indeed. The highlight of the night is pictured below, and it has only gone up from here…Woman Premier of Polish descent and woman Deputy Premier of Lebanese descent, and more women than men in cabinet. What an extraordinary triumph. Becoming a septuagenarian in this particularly optimistic Queensland political climate is truly very heartening. We just have to sort it out Federally now. Go Tanya and Penny!

One super highlight on election night

One super highlight on election night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EPISODE 16: FABULOUS FILMS AND FESTIVALS of 2014

A counter at the Regal in Brisbane. This cinema was showing Human Capital and Winter Sleep before Xmas..

A counter at the retro Regal in Brisbane. This little cinema was showing both Human Capital and Winter Sleep before Xmas..two amazing films from my Top Ten. They also screened the luminous Ida earlier this year.

This is the special Silver Screen episode, an appropriate way for me to end the year. In the past month, I haven’t been able to avoid perusing other people’s seemingly authoritative lists of the ‘best films of the year’/ ‘worst films of the year’. While these lists can become rather tedious and even pretentious, I am still curious enough to check them out.   I certainly don’t always agree – but that is half the fun. I should also keep lists of all those tasty-sounding films that I haven’t yet seen and wish to check out in the new year when I get a chance. As with book reviews, I  know I should keep notes, but I am rather haphazard in my personal must read/must view list-making ventures. However I have managed to list some such films for the record in this blog.

Cinema is Dead…Long Live Cinema!

Strangely enough, I work with some people who seem to be quite pleased that cinema is doomed and in decline – at least that is their viewpoint, which I do not share. I neither see nor experience their fatalistic version of death and diminishment when I go to the cinema, nor when I attend festivals, nor when I read about the multitude of world film festivals, the making of independent films, studio films, transnational co-productions, blockbusters, art house films, genre films, documentaries…and watch achingly exquisite feature films from unfamiliar places and cultures, such as Corn Island (at BAPFF this year). Of course there have been great advances in technology this century, and one can view and interact with moving images on multiple platforms. But cinema is continually reinventing itself and filmmakers still want to make that special feature film or documentary for the big screen.

Please don’t talk to your friend or check/answer your mobile phone anywhere near me..!

Hopefully North Korean hackers (or two boys from Idaho?) won’t shut down the cinema exhibition experience. Regarding the irritation of being near inconsiderate people (talking to friend, checking mobile phone constantly..) in the cinema, I have become more restrained with my ‘shushing’ lately, since a person was murdered in the US in the middle of an altercation.  The ‘shusher’ or the ‘sushee’ just might have murder on her/his mind! See this link…

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/14/tampa-police-officer-movie-theatre-shooting

The Q & A after Winter Sleep screening at BAPFF with producer Zehnep Atakan.

The Q & A after the Winter Sleep gala screening at BAPFF with the talented dynamic producer Zehnep Atakan.

My top films: more or less in order (very difficult to rank)

On a more peaceful note, my top 5 feature films seen this year are as follows: the towering Winter Sleep, the throbbingly beautiful Ida, no frame spared; the wondrous genre surprise of the year Under the Skin; the superb craftsmanship of Boyhood; the exciting, flawless, soaring Birdman. 

At the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival, I saw the famous Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s multi-award-winning film Winter Sleep, which makes it to top of my top 5 of the year, though in a way all five are first. I loved Ceylan’s last film, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which I personally think was more sweeping, more layered and more profound than Winter Sleep, although I don’t want to split hairs over these two undoubted masterpieces

The next 10 viewed in 2014: Human Capital; The Drop; Her; Black Coal, Thin Ice; Blue is the Warmest Colour; Stranger by the Lake; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Gloria; The Dallas Buyers’ Club; Tattoo (this is a very powerful, stylish German film from 2002, by director Robert Schwentke, which screened at the German Film Festival this year).

At Graceville Regal in Brisbane - thank the film gods that this cinema will show superior international films

At Graceville Regal in Brisbane – thanks to the film gods that this cinema shows superior international films in its lineup

Other favourites from film festivals this year

I attended several festivals such as MIFF (Melbourne), BAPFF (Brisbane) and IFFA (Iranian festival). Many films screened there have lingered, long after viewing them. For example, the curious yet very engaging Icelandic film Of Horses and Men; Corn Island – the beautiful Georgian/German/French/Czech/Kazakstani/Hungarian film of haunting long silences and powerful visuals; Hope, a visceral, gut-wrenching French film made in northern Africa about desperate refugees trying to cross the Sahara safely, dreaming of a new life in Europe; the revealing Iranian film I’m Not Angry, which had a knock-out performance by the leading actor – Bella and I are still haunted and disturbed by the ending of this film; the impressive Iranian film Snow which depicted a once respectable middle-class family, slowly but surely disintegrating at every level of their existence.   

There are of course a number of superior feature films I have missed but which I want to see very soon, if possible – Two Days One Night; Locke; Whiplash; Force Majeure; Mommy; Tom at the Farm; Leviathan

Top documentary films this year:  

With Gil Scrine, Sean Maher and Danny… at the Cinema Ventures special screening of Gore Vidal: the United States of Amnesia

With Gil Scrine, Sean Maher and the director Nicholas Wrathall… at the Cinema Ventures special screening of Gore Vidal: the United States of Amnesia

The best doco for me in 2014 was Sacro Gra, Winner, Golden Lion, Venice Film Festival. This film was the first documentary ever to win this much-sought-after prize. I saw this extraordinary production at the Italian Film Festival. A close second was Gore Vidal – the United States of Amnesia – a wonderfully probing portrait of an intriguing, charismatic writer and towering public intellectual. Then there was 20,000 Days on Earth, the earthy, revealing, riveting  film about Nick Cave;  and Regarding Susan Sontag. While this film may not have given the whole picture of this fascinating multilayered woman, another towering public intellectual of her time, it was absorbing and well worth seeing, in order to work out the placement of more of the jigsaw puzzle pieces of her fascinating, complicated personality and life history. Another doco treat was The Search for Weng Weng; this very entertaining film chronicles an amazing journey by local Brisbane filmmaker Andrew Leavold to find an unlikely star of Filipino cinema. Finally I rate Trespassing Bergman, in which a number of eminent filmmakers such as Michael Haneke and Claire Denis make a respectful pilgrimage to Ingmar Bergman’s home on his remote island, while others discuss the ways Bergman exploded their minds and influenced their own filmic creativity. Along with some great archival footage, this is just my kind of special film festival treat! Thanks MIFF.

Another superior doco to see asap: The Salt of the Earth 

Top Oz films seen this year:

Predestination; My Mistress; Felony 

Other Oz films to see as soon as I can: The Babadook; 52 Tuesdays; Tracks; Charlie’s Country

Most underrated Australian film of the year: My Mistress. Many others agree with me about this great first feature by Stephen Lance. Margaret and David were very petty and inexplicably erratic in relation to this Queensland film.

A right royal regal cinema

Once again I return to the Regal at Graceville (another poor pic below, but you get the idea). I am definitely thankful for such not-so-small mercies here in Brisbane. While Palace Centro and the Barracks, along with the Dendy, are programming more and more mainstream, ‘safe’ films in their standard lineups,  the steadfast, dare I say visionary, Regal manager takes on some stunning international films that would otherwise not be released here in Brisbane, except at festivals, if we are lucky.

While it is great that the Palace cinema chain does have a series of festivals featuring different nations’ films through the year (e.g. French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, British etc), often it is not possible to attend a particular screening, and many a great film can slip away. If there is no commercial release it is a struggle to catch that film at a later date. I will never forget the words of one Director of the (then) Australian Film Institute – she said rather rudely, over a few drinks – “Helen, if you want rotary clothes hoists, stay in Brisbane; if you want to see films, move to Sydney or Melbourne.”  I do go to Sydney and Melbourne film festivals whenever I can, but since those doomsday words, I have, along with other devotees, tried to do my bit to actively improve film culture in Brisbane – not an easy task over the years, but often very satisfying. Long live Cinema…!

 

Inside Cinema 1 at the Regal. Sadly 2 women near me chatted to each other throughout Human Capital, despite my shushing them and turning around etc…I despair of such people who think they are still at home watching the film in the lounge room.

Inside Cinema 1 at the Regal. Sadly 2 women near me chatted to each other throughout Human Capital, despite my shushing them and turning around etc…I despair of such ignorant, inconsiderate people who think they are still at home watching the film in the lounge room.

 

 

EPISODE 15: Huge Delights from Screen Culture

Consumption city: watching Vera on the tellie

Consumption city: the cool, ageing critic watching the dogged, ageing detective Vera on the tellie at home

Looking back rather prematurely on 2014, I feel the urge to chronicle some of my impressions on screen culture, within which I  regularly immerse myself. This first instalment will be mainly about the small screen, and will be concerned largely with overseas productions. I do intend to do a follow-up Australian TV episode as well as of course a blog episode totally devoted to Films.

I have a pleasant enough viewing set-up at home (see accompanying picture) – not ideal, technologically speaking, but it suits me OK for now. I even tape programs still on VHS, a rather embarrassing fact I find hard to admit as a film academic – but it is now out there in blog confession-land.  One day I will simply have to upgrade my systems, hopefully getting ‘by with a little help from my friends’. Meanwhile I am mainly ‘watching the detectives’ parading on the small screen as much as possible, with some light relief thrown in. (Apologies to Meatloaf and Elvis Costello).

WATCHING THE DETECTIVES…USA style

The international TV highlight of the year for me was the taut, terrific US series True Detective. Even though the script sometimes was over the top and the plot resolution rather far-fetched and loose-ended – who cares, all is forgiven, when the two magnificently talented actors, Matthew McConnaughy and Woody Harrelson, played up a superb storm. Like many others, I am looking forward eagerly to the next instalment, even though those two actors won’t star in it and the setting will also be different in place, if not in mood.  I gather from the internet that  the three male leads in Season 2 will be Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch, with the female lead as yet undecided.  One aspect I am very proud of in relation to the multi-awardwinning first season of True Detective  is that a former star QUT Film and TV student, Patrick Clair won the Emmy award for designing the Best Opening Titles Design in a TV Series. His industry work is haunting and unforgettable, and this is a fabulous artistic achievement!

Another excellent offering from the US on the small screen this year was, of course, Fargo – not quite as good as the film, in my opinion, which is a masterpiece by the Coen Brothers; but probably I shouldn’t compare the two mediums. It is great to hear there is another season in the pipeline. Will the extraordinarily menacing Billy Bob Thornton be raised from the dead? I will certainly miss him in the new series.

Of course, Breaking Bad just seemed to get better and better in so many unexpected ways, that this series has become lauded as a masterpiece alongside such all-time stand-out masterpiece series as The Sopranos and The Wire. Who can ever forget the finale? What more accolades can I hand this series? It is extraordinary in every way.

And I have to mention the less well-recognised, gritty series Justified, which I discovered to my delight in the USA a couple of years ago, and have followed faithfully, season by season, ever since. Deputy US  Marshal Raylan Givens (played by the delicious actor Timothy Olyphant) and his nemesis Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) struggle with their own personal demons, as well as good and evil in Harlan County, Kentucky, where they both grew up together, and then followed separate paths. The final season is due to premiere in the New Year – what another summer feast to savour then.

SAVOURING BRITISH, IRISH AND EUROPEAN TV PRODUCTIONS

British television show highlights for me this year have been a few gems discovered, almost by chance, via Foxtel channels such as BBC1. I had to install Foxtel 20 years ago because of reception issues in New Farm, particularly regarding ABC and SBS, neither of which I could live without, both professionally and personally. Then, and even more so now, these national channels are under threat. Need I say more?

Aside: I know I should renegotiate my deal with Foxtel as I seem to be one of the lost souls in their marketing strategies – some person I spoke to a while ago couldn’t quite believe the deal I had, which was so out of date it wasn’t funny at all. He probably hadn’t even been born when I had Foxtel installed.  This company does forget their loyal longstanding customers, that is for sure. 

Two series off the beaten track that I have enjoyed this past year have been Shetland and Vera, both originally from novels by Ann Cleeves. There is a dark, northern atmosphere, a tustling within and between the protagonists, their respective pasts and the challenges of a dangerous present, and the leading actors are topnotch — award-winning Brenda Blethyn (Vera) and Douglas Henshall as Jimmy in Shetland (with his sexy Scottish accent). Vera had a very short run a while ago on Nine – it was pulled typically and unceremoniously, before it could even get a following… so it is good to see  the show now on the crime channel Thirteenth Street.

Similarly haunted by demons (which homicide detective isn’t?) is the main protagonist Tom of Hinterland, a crime series set in Aberwystwyth, Wales. This series has been called by The Guardian ‘nordic noir done the Welsh way’. While this isn’t up to the high standard of such superlative Nordic noir series as The Bridge, The Killing and Wallander,  the stories are fresh and quite compelling, with many windswept, moody shots of an introverted hero on the edge.

QUIRKY IN THE BEST SENSE

One special favourite of mine in the latest mix has been Quirke, another superb, very dark series (Irish/British) which I stumbled on by fortunate happenstance, while searching for something else. Set in 1950s Dublin, the marvellous Gabriel Byrne brilliantly inhabits the main character, a troubled pathologist, and the three-part series is so much better than the often fatuous CSI-type programs on commercial TV. Over the past couple of years, I have read and enjoyed the novels on which the series is based, and this added an extra dimension of pleasure, rather than being a distraction. Sometimes one can get caught up too much in a vortex of comparison, where the adaptation is found wanting. However, this series is so well produced that this never happened for me. The amazingly versatile author is Booker Prize winner John Banville, who writes the Quirke books under the pseudonym of Benjamin Black.

Another compelling Irish-British crime drama is The Fall, starring the super-cool Gillian Anderson as the DCI,  and the standout actor Jamie Dornan, playing the villain.  I am currently re-watching the gripping Season 1  on SBS, and I am looking forward very much to Season 2. I am not quite sure if that will play on Foxtel or on SBS first. Another quite enthralling detective thriller  screening unheralded on SBS currently, is called Salamander, a Belgian noir production about corruption and murder cover-ups at the highest level of society, and the establishment’s attempts to silence a top detective who is compulsively trying to unravel the mystery. This one has its flaws, but is still worth a look.

Another top crime series for me is the French production Braquo (slang for heist). I have loved most of the episodes, although the latest season this year was very brutal and quite difficult for me to watch at times, hardened old crime viewer that I am. The line between the gangsters and the police often blur in gut-wrenching ways in this whole series. But who can resist watching the magnificent,obsessed Jean-Hugues Anglade (Caplan) or the gorgeous, impulsive Nicolas Duvauchelle (Theo)? Season 4 is in the pipeline – this will be an explosive finale.

The Bridge, Braquo and Borgen…note no pirating here.

The Bridge, Braquo and Borgen…note no pirating here.

THE CHERISHED TOP DRAWER 

As with Breaking Bad, I think enough has been said  by me and by so many already about The Bridge, and The Killing. I am totally devoted to these series as well as to the Danish top-drawer series Borgen, which of course is not a crime drama, but an intelligent political drama. With the Scandinavian noir productions, I feel that the US and British remakes have not really worked for me, and I tuned out after only a couple of episodes of  remakes of  The Bridge and The Killing. On the other hand,  the superior, award-winning British production Broadchurch  was a highlight indeed, and ironically, the US remake, Gracepoint, is also very good, no doubt helped by the fact that the extraordinary actor David Tennant unusually plays the same cop character in both productions. I haven’t seen the final episodes of Gracepoint yet, but hope to catch them soon. It appears also that Broadchurch has a sequel in the pipeline, which is good news.

COMPULSORY ADDICTIVE COMEDY 

On a lighter note, my absolute unmissable highlights every week, whenever possible, are as follows: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (I hope to be in the audience for this gritty, astute satire when I go to New York next May); The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert – sadly this is finishing in December when Stephen takes over from David Letterman on the Late Show; and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, also a sizzling satirical program. While Sean Micallef’s Mad as Hell emulates these three shows, as do many of the Chaser efforts, these three are the anointed masters of the genre. In a different comic sub-genre, I have also thoroughly enjoyed Lena Dunham’s audacious show Girls – tender, funny, crazy, groundbreaking – what a wonderful new voice and towering talent. I will not hear a word against her. The trolls are jealous morons, trying to bring down yet another soaring young woman. And last but not least, I simply love Louie  with the unrivalled talent of Louis C.K. It is hilarious, sad, with so many poignant, discomforting, achingly humorous insights into family, relationships, urban living, growing old…

As a postscript I did want to mention another discovery on the web, rather than on TV. If you haven’t already done so, immediately click on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, with Jerry Seinfeld –  like coffee, it is very addictive and glorious at the same time. Each little episode has its own delights – don’t skip over any of them.   http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com

POSTSCRIPT ON FILM VIEWING CONTEXTS – A TASTER FOR NEXT TIME

When it comes to film culture, I often leave my indoor world and go to the Palace Centro or Barracks, GOMA cinematheque, and, at times, out of loyalty, to the New Farm Cinema around the corner,  where hopefully they will soon start screening more art house films. I also occasionally drive across town to the good old Regal at Graceville – well worth supporting –  and to the Schonell which seems to still be hanging in there by a thread. Regrettably, I have dropped off in my attendance at the Dendy – distance and inconvenience are the catchwords there, and often their programming seems a bit limp these days compared with the fierce independence of yesteryear.

AND A SPECIAL PLUG…

Stephen Lance (director), Harrison Gilbertson (actor) and Leanne Tonkes (producer) at a gig celebrating My Mistress.

Stephen Lance (director), Harrison Gilbertson (actor) and Leanne Tonkes (producer) at a gig celebrating My Mistress.

Please also support another greatly talented QUT Film and TV graduate’s first feature film. The wonderful Stephen Lance has directed and co-written a very brave, beautifully shot film called My Mistress. The cast and the editing are brilliant, and the lush locations are particularly well chosen and fascinating.   My Mistress is screening currently at the Palace Barracks in Brisbane and no doubt in other States as well at the Palace. Don’t hold off – go now, go often, as edgy Australian films such as this need every support very early in the exhibition and marketing calendar. As a mother and daughter said to me after the Q & A at a special opening night screening on Thursday night, they had chosen the film at random, and were very happy with their choice – they both loved it.  Happy viewing!

 

But more of this in the next Blogisode…