Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Back-up Plan

'The Back-up Plan' for thirty-something and still single Jennifer Lopez is to have herself inseminated to start her family. In true Hollywood fashion, no sooner has she done that then along comes Alex O'Loughlin and the rest? Well, the rest is no surprise given that this is moviedom and besides the entire plot is given away in the poster!

The opening credits are presented in cartoon style much as was the case in Doris Day/Rock Hudson romantic comedies in the late 1960s. But Doris Day comedies never contained words such as penis, vagina, insemination, sperm and pubes.

The 'humour' in the film, though, is as old as Doris Day and pretty unsubtle and in case that is not your style the creators throw in ageism comedy and plenty of poo and incontinence references for good measure.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

'...thou shalt not eat of it...'*

(*Genesis 2.17, The Bible, by you know who)
As if the Westfield shopping complex was not sufficient temptation, Bondi Junction now has this.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

'Let's see how far we can amble'*

(* 'Our Day Trip' by Nina Nastasia)
Well, I ambled approximately 1500 kilometres - and all of it today.

I took the Rex Airlines 8.10am flight to Ballina basically to have lunch with Mt before catching the Jetstar 4.40pm return flight.

Mt met me at Ballina airport and drove us to Alstonville where we had morning tea for Me whose birthday it was yesterday and then afterwards we drove up the coast to Byron Bay, thirty minutes away, for a wander and lunch before returning to Ballina where I downloaded Mt's new modem connection and attempted to sort out some computer problems.

It was a pleasant if somewhat expensive way to have lunch with friends and the only downside was that the rain we experienced in Sydney yesterday followed me up the coast and only abated as I strode across the tarmac at Ballina to join my return flight to Sydney.

On the upside, a delicious morning tea followed by a fine lunch and (almost) best of all there was a terrific surf which attracted dozens of attractive young surfers who, from my viewpoint, thoughtfully changed in and out of their wet suits as we drove by on the coast highway.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Letters to Juliet

New Yorkers Amanda Seyfried and her fiance Gael Garcia Bernal take a pre-wedding holiday in Italy where Seyfried comes across the self-styled Secretaries of Juliet who write responses to 'Letters to Juliet'; letters left at the house of Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet fame) by love distressed women. Seyfried stumbles across a fifty years' old letter left by Vanessa Redgrave who now decides to search the countryside for her lover of half a century earlier.

I suppose this plot is fanciful enough in the style of Shakespeare's famous lovers but the contrivances needed to give effect to it make for a fairly ridiculous hour and a half of cinema. It might have been cute had the characters been appealing but Bernal's character is particularly irritating - no doubt deliberately directed that way - which made me wonder why Seyfried's character would bother having a relationship with him. The alternative leading male character, played by Australian actor Christopher Egan, is quite a twit and when eventually his character unsurprisingly softens into a love interest - and an unconvincing one at that - Seyfried's judgement in men becomes seriously questionable.

When first seen, the aforementioned 'Secretaries' seem to have little or no English language capacity but from then on they possess an almost unseemly mastery of the language at every subsequent appearance.

One redeeming element is that most of the film is shot outdoors in Italy and to a lesser extent New York so that at least there is plenty of visual stimulus. The ever reliable Redgrave is another redeeming aspect but really this film should be reserved for a rainy winter's day as background mood for couch entwined star crossed lovers.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

City Island

Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies are Italian American New Yorkers living with their two children on 'City Island'; an old fishing village in the Bronx district. Each is keeping secrets from the others.

I could describe this as a quiet little comedy except for the fact that playing Italian American New Yorkers - and beautifully against usual type - Garcia and Margulies shout a lot. Nevertheless, I found the characters and situations endearing and enjoyed plenty of chuckles as the secrets unravel.

Who knew that New York contained such an interesting suburban waterside area?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

We want to go outside and play*

(* Rain, Rain Go Away)

Raining again this morning - as seen from a back window - and I want it to go away.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Holding the Man*

(* A transgression in Australian Rules football that can incur a penalty)
This dopey Australian Rules footballer thinks gay players should stay in the closet lest they frighten those brave straight footballers from the changing room showers.

I'm sure he also thinks a woman's place is in the home (and his bed as required). He plays for the Bulldogs but in reality is a Dinosaur.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Bold and the Radioactive

My friend My had treatment yesterday for a thyroid condition; a small capsule that was handed to her in a cup and which she had to swallow without touching with her hands. According to the doctors My is now radioactive until the end of the week. In the meantime, My could set off airport security alarms and she has to avoid crowds, public cutlery, shopping queues and all manner of activities from sexual intercourse - no danger to her from me there - to moviegoing and mouth kisses.

However My can visit cafes as long as she stays a metre apart from others and does not use their cutlery. Spending time alone indoors is not My's idea of fun so she asked if I was available to accompany her for a walk and talk. Unfortunately it was pretty wet this morning so instead of the intended long walk we took ourselves along to a nearby cafe where I dutifully sat at least one metre apart from her and avoided any temptation that might have developed to kiss her, let alone engage in sexual intercourse.

My is spending the three days at a friend's flat in Clovelly and neither of us knew the vicinity so we opted for the first cafe we encountered. This turned out to be Boncaffe in Frenchman's Road, Randwick. A very fortuitous encounter, as it turns out. Inexpensive, friendly and efficient service, very tasty snacks and a lively clientele.

I suggested that My should be radioactive more often to give us the excuse to frequent this cafe.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Home is the sailor, home from the sea*

(*'Requiem' by Robert Louis Stevenson)
Somewhere in the flotilla above (click to enlarge) is sixteen years old Jessica Watson completing her solo around the world voyage just one hour ago.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Let me extract your wealth

Had my six monthly dental check up this morning.

Everything in order, no sign of any dental decay, just a clean and polish performed.

In and out in less than ten minutes including paying the receptionist for the pleasure.

$163 thank you very much. Ouch!

Thankfully I'm covered by medical insurance so only had to make the co-payment.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

'When the Autumn weather, turns leaves to flame'*

*('September Song' by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson)

Whilst waiting for my car to undergo it's 'one hour express service' this morning - which actually took two hours - I kept looking up from the book I was reading, mesmerised by the sight (above) of Autumn leaves waving in the wind as seen through the sun screen which covered the third floor service centre window. I had the sense that I was viewing a screen painting at a gallery.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Under the belly or over the top?

The third series of 'Underbelly', the top rating television series about crime in Sydney (and previously Melbourne), is starting to look a bit like the Emperor's new clothes to me.

Like the two earlier series, this latest instalment misses no opportunity to display women's breasts regardless of whether such images have any relevance to the scene in which they appear. The same cynical strategy has been employed throughout the Underbelly series in what I assume is a ratings garnering tactic.

In this latest series the storyline is stretched pretty thin with some episodes containing very little or no story development at all.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Io, Don Giovanni

One of my favourite films is 'Amadeus' which relates the life of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from the perspective of his rival at the Viennese Court, Antonio Salieri.

Both composers feature in the Italian/Spanish co-production 'Io, Don Giovanni' but this time the perspective and focus is Lorenzo da Ponte, the Priest exiled from Venice who travels to Vienna where he collaborates with Mozart to create 'Don Giovanni'. For me, 'Amadeus' was a thrilling exposition of the genius that was Mozart but 'Io, Don Giovanni' falls short by comparison.

Although the style of 'Io, Don Giovanni' is similar to 'Amadeus' the effect by contrast comes across as artificial. It is as though the characters are fictional and the story a soap opera style pot boiler. 'Io, Don Giovanni' does contain some glorious images and the scenes featuring Mozart's operas are often very fine indeed but the film is not a match for the Mozart bio-pic.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Habit of Art

Alan Bennett's play 'The Habit of Art' is transmitted to cinemas in a live broadcast of a performance from the stage of the National Theatre (UK).

The play is a play...within a play. A play in which actors rehearse a play about the poet W H Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten. The pair were close friends from 1935 to 1942 but fell out after their opera, 'Paul Bunyan' flopped in the United States and then meet in Auden's rooms as Britten is composing 'Death in Venice'. Each had a long term same sex relationship.

The play, packed with funny moments and wry observations, touches on theatre life, fragile egos, personal idiosyncrasies and gay sex.

Richard Griffiths as Auden and the delightfully pragmatic Frances de la Tour as the stage manager are standouts whilst Stephen Wight attracted my interest as the rent boy with principles and aspirations.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Last night at the Opera House

I know I have posted many photographs of the Circular Quay and Sydney Opera House precinct but I never tire of the views there whether in the day or especially at night. Here are photos from last night when I attended the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Rodgers and Hammerstein concert. As usual, click on the individual photos to enlarge them.
The poster for last night's concert in the Opera House forecourt.
Opera House and the lower concourse Cafe.
Opera House in the distance and James' favoured Opera Bar, packed with drinkers in the dark lower right.
Opera House above and the Opera House shop in the lower concourse.
East Circular Quay (left) and Circular Quay in the distance seen from the lower concourse.
Concert Hall upper Northern Foyer at Interval.
The Concert Hall at Interval.

A snooty usher instructed me to stop taking photographs at this point.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Rodgers and Hammerstein On Stage and Screen

This is a bit of a gay man's wet dream. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra playing the film scores to Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals in the Sydney Opera House, accompanying clips from the movies. I grew up on R&H musicals and thrilled to hearing and seeing musical selections that are so ingrained in my memory.

The conductor, George Daugherty, links the pieces and film clips with his commentary and is clearly very enthusiastic on the subject. His exuberance on the podium is so marked that at times he appeared almost to be trampolining.

It was fascinating to re-visit memorable moments including the 'bench scene' from Carousel ('If I Loved You') and the 'Shall We Dance' sequence from The King and I. Both scenes appear quite chaste and tame by today's standards yet each remains undeniably sexy. There is no doubting what Yul Brynner has on his mind as Deborah Kerr explains English courtship practices to him.

It is a pity that the Orchestra drowns out some key dialogue during 'Shall We Dance'; the only misstep in tonight's performance for mine.

I ran into James on the bus trip home and assumed he must have been amongst the gay contingent at the R&H concert too but it turns out he had been to the nearby Dendy Cinemas attending the premiere of an Australian documentary on Palm Island. That makes three bloggers I have met in person now.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


The Sydney Theatre Company's re-staging of Joanna Murray-Smith's play 'Honour' has simple staging and some fine acting.

William Zappa and Wendy Hughes are the couple whose marriage ends abruptly when Zappa's character is seduced by the youthful and sexy journalist sent to interview him for a profile study. The play contains plenty of scorching one liners and is quite interesting even though the characters making up the triangle develop in a predictable way.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Date Night

Steve Carell and Tina Fey enliven their marriage with a weekly 'Date Night', dinner at the same local restaurant each time. When Carell is emboldened to take Fey to the hottest restaurant in New York, the weekly dinner date serves up more than they expected.

The humour and action are non too subtle and the film doesn't make much sense at times but Carell and Fey are likeable and deliver a few chuckles along the way.