Tuesday, 28 February 2012


(Sydney Theatre Company)

The Sydney Theatre Company is staging the Traverse Theatre Company of Edinburgh's production Midsummer described as a play with songs. A couple meet in a bar on the Friday of the Midsummer weekend and what starts out as a one night stand turns into a weekend of mayhem.

It is interesting to compare and contrast this stage work with the recent film Weekend.

In Weekend two gay men meet in a bar on a Friday evening and then spend the weekend together discovering their public and private selves. By the end of the weekend they face decisions about their future as a couple. The film is mostly serious and dark.

In Midsummer a straight woman meets a straight man in a bar on a Friday evening and one way or another they spend most of the weekend together discovering themselves at the end of which they face decisions about their future as a couple. The play is mostly breezy and light hearted but with serious tinges.

I'm not certain whether this is a play in the traditional sense. It seems to me more like an entertainment with the two characters referring to each other regularly in the third person as they describe what happens to themselves over the weekend.

Cora Bissett and Matthew Pidgeon play the couple. They are a likeable pair who present a very realistic portrayal of a sexual encounter which morphs into a tentative relationship. Between them they portray a range of other characters as well with the twist that Bissett's other characters are almost all male.

A slightly unusual work which felt to me like the product of linked Fringe or Festival type skits but the program notes indicate it's genesis from the outset was a musical with indie music.

I really enjoyed Midsummer and the audience at last night's performance gave it a rousing reception at final curtain.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Late Bloomers

Late Bloomers is one of those films whose trailer is misleading. The film is darker than what I expected from it's preview.

Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt are a couple entering an age of uncertainty, more precisely they are beginning to feel their age but for different reasons. Rosselinni's character is about to turn 60 and she is worried by a loss of memory which causes her to fear the onset of Alzheimers. Hurt has just received a major professional award which Rossellini points out effectively signals that his career is past rather than ahead of him.

Rossellini's reaction is to over react by undergoing scans, purchasing telephones with large buttons for seniors and installing hospital style beds in the couple's apartment. Hurt counter reacts by moving closer to the world of his youthful co-workers.

What I liked most about this film is it's European stylishness. There were some clever scenes that subtly illustrate generation gaps, one of the best being when Rossellini goes to a charity to offer herself as a volunteer. She encounters a hip young executive full of the current business jargon for her young staff but who slows her speech and speaks loudly to the older volunteers as though addressing a group of simpletons.

What I didn't like is that the film miscalculates the age issue with these characters. In the film Rosselinni is about to turn 60 and whilst the age of Hurt's character is never revealed it is safe to assume he is about the same age. In real life Rossellinni really is about to turn 60 (this June, in fact) and Hurt turns 62 next month. I am older than both - not much older, but older nonetheless - and despite some memory loss of my own have not yet reached the level of angst about ageing as is represented here. My friends of a similar generation all feel blissfully youthful too. Maybe we are lucky.

There are a couple of nice cameos from Joanna Lumley and Leslie Phillips. The latter in real life is about to turn 88 and his appearance is particularly spritely.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Temperamentals

(New Theatre)

Each year at this time the New Theatre stages work with a gay theme or connection in recognition of Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras period.

This year's work is The Temperamentals. I have to admit that until now I was unaware that 'temperamental' was a slang term for homosexual. I don't know whether that term ever applied in Australia but evidently it did in the USA, at least in the 1940/50s. Nor had I heard of the Mattachine Society organised to press for the rights of sexual minorities.

This play is about those involved in founding the Society. Regrettably I'd never heard of these people either. Five actors portray five of these individuals as well as a host of others, the only one those peripheral characters known to me being the American director Vincente Minnelli.

I can't say that I found this to be an exciting work; in fact it was somewhat boring and unfocused in it's first half. There was much unnecessary moving about of bar stools that was highly distracting. The second half was better mostly I think because the focus improved with just a couple of the plots highlighted. Thankfully the bar stools were given a rest after interval.

I could have done without the preachy style of the play.

The five actors did well each performing multiple roles.

Friday, 24 February 2012


Well, you good folk out there, it's getting late and time for me to zip.

You have to be in Australia...or Australian...to get the significance of that.

I can't wait for Monday to pass.

Good night.


My lunch today at Elysium Restaurant at The Spot in Randwick. There were six of us for lunch.

My meal was 'roasted corn fed chicken breast with corn and truffle cream, sautéed spring vegetables, roast corn salsa and fried basil'. The experts may question the presentation but I loved the taste. The others ordered variously pork belly, prawn or scallop dishes. All were satisfied with their meals.

For dessert I ordered 'dark chocolate panacotta with cherry jelly, lemon crumble and blood orange sorbet'. Again, I don't know what the experts would make of the presentation (I forgot to photograph it) but I thought the dessert was yummy.

There are quite few restaurants at The Spot and most seem to do good business but I have rarely seen more than a few tables occupied at Elysium during the day. Ours was the only table for the entire three hours we were there. I have never passed by in the evening.

Perhaps the menu and prices are a bit upmarket for lunch in this area. If they don't do better trade at night the restaurant is unlikely to last long. That would be a pity. We all enjoyed our meals.

Thursday, 23 February 2012


(Sydney Theatre Company)

George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion is more popularly known nowadays in it's musical adaptation form, My Fair Lady. I have seen the musical both on stage and in film but have never seen Shaw's original work. I was bit concerned I would find the experience of seeing Shaw's play flat knowing that those well known tunes would not appear at the relevant moments of the story.

Silly me. I should not have worried. Shaw's play is one of the classics of theatre for good reason. It is beautifully written and a wonderful study of gender politics and Britain's class structure.

This production by the Sydney Theatre Company has received middling reviews in part for being staged bare of any sets and in modern dress. Neither of these aspects concerned me. Yes the stage, back and side walls are totally bare apart from the occasional item of furniture or equipment but all this did for me was remove any distraction from the beauty of the dialogue. As for the actors' clothing I found the style 'time neutral' rather than modern. Many of the costumes could have originated in any of the last eighty years or so. No doubt an expert could destroy my last point but that's how I saw it as a fashion layperson.

An unexpected pleasure.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What's in a name?

A young woman of sub-continent or middle eastern appearance serving at a nearby food court this morning wore the name tag....Swastika.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

My Week With Marilyn

Based on the memoirs of a well connected young man, Colin Clark, who badgered his way into a production assistant's position in cinema to find himself Third Assistant Director on Sir Laurence Olivier's The Prince and the Showgirl and effectively at the beck and call of Marilyn Monroe then the most famous film star in the world.

My Week With Marilyn is a beautifully acted piece that relates the often told difficulties between Olivier and Monroe and the role Clark played in defusing the flames. Michelle Williams is outstanding as Monroe.

Monday, 20 February 2012

This Means War

It must have seemed a good idea when it was pitched to the financiers. Combine a romance for the ladies with an action adventure for the gents and sprinkle with humour. How could it fail? Watch the money roll in! In This Means War two CIA operatives are suspended after a covert operation turns exceedingly overt. Whilst on suspension they draw on the resources of the CIA to battle for the affections of a woman.

It sounds a bit naff and the story is indeed puerile. There's no charm and little wit. Reese WitherspoonChris Pine and Tom Hardy are individually attractive but this does not do justice to their talents.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Careful!...they will hear you...

I've been spending a bit too much time lately getting acquainted with my new Mac Book and have fallen behind on listening to podcasts such as Richard Fidler's conversations and Chicago Public Radio's 'This American Life'. These podcasts are important for my leisure and more importantly improve my general knowledge.

Some of my distraction has simply been the time spent on working my way through the workings of the Mac Book and then there have been the formal training sessions, three of them so far. There are no further sessions scheduled but my purchase includes twelve months of training should I really want that level of assistance. That seems unlikely.

Then there have been the practical issues of getting everything to work. The latest hurdle was getting the Mac Book to recognise my Telstra Wi Fi Modem. I spent an hour trying to set it up without success. So off I went to a nearby Telstra Shop for assistance.

Telstra has adopted Apple's style of service with 'floor managers' wandering around with tablets in hand recording your arrival and listing you for service which means getting you to join an informal queue. No standing in line as such but a queue nonetheless. The young floor manager at this store was...how can I say this?...well....he was a queen...of sorts. There's no escaping it. He waved his arms around like a windmill and flounced about from customer to customer, mincing backwards and forwards generating a lot of movement but less apparent actual achievement.

When finally it was my turn...not yet for service...just to advise the nature of my enquiry...I was relieved to hear my difficulty was not a one-off problem. It turns out Mac Books require a special download to accept the Telstra Wi Fi Modem. I would have to see Telstra's Tech Bar which appears to be their answer to Apple's Genius Bar. Obviously no geniuses at Telstra, just solid techos.

So, with my name entered into the tablet I 'joined' my own personal queue for service. Regular readers will be aware that I have a love/hate relationship with Telstra and what passes for their service. It rarely goes smoothly for me.

Whilst perched on my chair in my invisible queue I filled in time by tweeting a message...

I'm queued at the Telstra shop waiting for 'service'

Well, I've often smiled to myself when blogger mate Andrew writes something critical of an organisation like Telstra and then mentions that they will be monitoring his posting. Yeah, dream on Andrew, I have thought.

Well blow me down with a feather but only minutes after my tweet what should be tweeted in response to my Twitter name but...

telstra and Facebook.com/telstra24x7 are available to help 24x7 - why not try them out whilst you're in the queue

Wow. I have an even greater regard for.....Andrew...now.

Anyway, after thirty minutes in my invisible queue I was finally called over to the Tech Bar and ten minutes later, download completed, I had access again to my Wi Fi Modem.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Apple missionaries

I had my third training session at the Apple store this week, delivered by my third different trainer. All of them exports from North America to judge by Joel's, Alexis' and Kevin's accents, indeed Kevin confirmed as much for himself revealing he hails from California. No kidding?

I have reached the conclusion that Apple's trainers, with their wide eyed zeal, are the equivalent of Mormon missionaries.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The Wedding Dance

I received the following message timed for Valentines Day after the event.

My name is Elliot London...  My passion is making gay cinema...

Today is Valentines Day and I have been working on a beautiful short film (THE WEDDING DANCE) about Equality in a different perspective. I would be so ever grateful if you would take a look at this 3 minute film and consider posting it on this special day where loving one another is important.

The objective with this project is to raise money for our feature film FRIEND. A film about coming out in 2012. A time now when things are so different with social networking. A time now that a child might not have the correct tools to coupe with humiliation in an instant world.

FRIEND is about giving back. Its a movie about accepting and loving oneself but most of all it is about educating. With the proceeds from this film I am going to be donating the profits to groups that help educate at risk youth... If we can raise $10,000 to make our last film with social networking. Than $250,000 can be done. Please take a look at the campaign we have started. Please share this film... 

Thank You

Elliot London



Sound Track to THE WEDDING DANCE is available for .99 on iTunes and we are putting all the funds from the iTunes sales towards the feature film.

Break the fast

My breakfast yesterday. I mostly have breakfast at home but every now and then I treat myself to breakfast at the Zoo Cafe in Bondi Junction. This time it was poached eggs.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Reflected sunrise

Around 6.30am and looking west from my apartment, in the distance, the 70 storeys tall World Square Building in the Central Business District reflects the rising sun. I snapped this quickly whilst shaving and without my spectacles. I wasn't sure what I had really photographed until I completed my morning ablutions and found my spectacles.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Interval at the House

First interval, 'Turandot' @ Sydney Opera House

Second interval, 'Turandot' @ Sydney Opera House

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Any Questions For Ben?

It's not often I see a movie in the company of the mother of one of the actors who appears in it. I doubt that I have ever done so before, well not knowingly anyway. Cs and I went to see Any Questions For Ben? with My whose son, an emerging comedian(?) and radio and television personality who I have known since he was a primary school boy, has a small but noticeable role.

The film is an overlong comedy about modern relationships, or more particularly about an upwardly mobile young man (Josh Lawson) who has an aversion to forming relationships. Apart from being too long, the session we attended was marred by poor sound leaving us straining to capture the dialogue for long periods.

There is a potentially reasonable comedy somewhere in all of this if only the editor could put his/her scissors to the piece and tighten it.

My's son who for a time was on morning radio in Melbourne and at time of writing appears late night on television, has never impressed me much as a comedian but he makes his mark here with limited opportunities.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the film is how good it makes Melbourne look. It almost made me feel like living there. Only kidding, Andrew.

Monday, 13 February 2012


(Opera Australia)
Puccini's final opera about the Peking Princess who tests her suitors with three riddles and if they fail, as all have, has them beheaded. Charming.

I think this is essentially the same production I saw first about fifteen years ago at the Opera House. Then it seemed as lavish to me as a 1940s MGM musical but now it seems...well...exotic. The small Opera Theatre stage is packed solid in the opening act much like the scene in the Japanese wave video which by coincidence Andrew posted the day before my attendance.

It's a pity Puccini didn't live to complete this work. He might have seen the hit that the final act opening aria Nessun Dorma was to become and so might have provided a musical break to allow for audience reaction. On Saturday, as I have observed previously, the aria was over and Ping, Pang and Pong were already twirling around the stage attempting to discover Calaf's name, before segments of the audience realising the big moment had passed delivered a burst of applause over what was effectively the next scene.

I know that the opera was completed from notes that Puccini had outlined but I wonder too if he might have done something about the ending. I always feel having spent the best part of three hours resisting every suitor vehemently, including Calaf, that Turandot's abrupt conversion to love at virtually the last minute doesn't ring true. Then again most operas to my limited knowledge fail to ring true in some way.

Just lie back and enjoy the music and the singing, which I did on Saturday. As the ambitious Calaf, Rosario La Spina sounded fine to my layman's ear though unfortunately to my eyes his body type is not modern day leading man material. The audience, presumably numbering plenty with superior knowledge about the craft than I have, reacted strongly in their applause to Daria Masiero (Liu), Andrew Moran (Ping), Graeme Macfarlane (Pang) and David Corcoran (Pong). Overall the audience  reacted warmly to the whole performance.

Sunday, 12 February 2012


Two gay men, one outgoing and confident in his sexuality, the other partially closeted and cautious, meet in a bar one night and spend the Weekend together.

I thought the first half of the film was a quite accurate representation of what many gay men experience from a new encounter where you are strongly attracted to each other and eager to pursue a potential relationship. After that the film's development seemed less likely to me but that might simply be that I have never had such a rapid and deep exposure to someone new.

The acting and settings were natural and the film was successful in drawing my sympathy for the characters but I did have difficulty understanding the regional English accents of the two leads.

A film mostly of interest to the gay community I suspect.

Friday, 10 February 2012

An apple for the teacher

My latest purchase (the Mac Book Pro) came with access to a variety of training opportunities. These are 'one to one', 'personal projects' and workshops.

I had my first 'one to one' last week with Joel a pale skinned, thin young man with a North American accent and the usual religious zeal for his employer's product. Joel began by providing a quick overview of all those orifices that dot the edges of the case and moved on to an explanation of the 'dock' and some of the basics about opening, closing and retrieving applications. I was familiar with most of it already but his lesson enhanced my confidence and I did learn a few things.

Joel drew a 'high five' slap of the palms from me at one stage which I found embarrassing but this is the Apple Store after all where such behaviour is de rigueur and unremarkable.

I raised a couple of problems I had already encountered with Joel including that the Mac Book would not recognise my hotmail account. When I demonstrated the problem he confidently informed me that hotmail accounts do not come with '.au' domains, an assertion I immediately and conclusively proved incorrect. Joel learnt something from me.

Joel persuaded me to book in for another 'one to one' next week for more advanced training. I'm happy to do that. He also persuaded me to book in for a 'personal project' session this week which he explained was for groups of four (maximum) with a trainer who monitors our projects and provides personal guidance during the session. I was less interested in this and had no thought of a personal project to pursue but according to Joel a project could include simple training. On that basis I decided to give it a try.

That session was yesterday and the trainer was Alexis - a name I have only ever associated with females but this Alexis is male - and he was the antithesis of Joel in appearance but also possesses a North American accent. Do they recruit these trainers from overseas or are they all backpacking in Australia?

I arrived just ahead of the scheduled start and true to Joel's advice there were only four of us but that soon changed. Eventually - the last participant arriving forty minutes after the start - there were nine sitting around the bench. It seems that some simply gatecrashed the session and no-one enforced the policy that participation in these sessions is pre-booked.

Joel was correct that the 'personal projects' were mainly further training needs and fortuitously most of us were happy to learn about emailing photographs but the environment for this training was disappointing. Only the most forward and assertive of the participants got a chance to steer the direction of the session, some sat mute for the entire two hours.

The Apple Store is a very noisy environment at the best of times and it was very difficult to hear what Alexis had to say. Eventually he was drawn into personal discussion with several participants and the rest of us contented ourselves by working solo to practice what we had learnt.

The third category of training - workshops - was underway elsewhere in the shop. These consisted of twelve or so participants sitting around a bench receiving training on a pre-determined topic from a trainer miked to amplify his voice. I'm not sure I'll bother with those but as my package provides for twelve months worth of unlimited training and I do not have to pay for the individual sessions it won't be a burden if I change my mind.

What is becoming increasingly clear to me is that if you want to maximise your Apple product then it is best to do it Apple's way. Diversity, especially if it involves Apple's competitors, is definitely not encouraged. Not surprising, I suppose.


Michael Fassbender works in a high power New York office and lives in a modern downtown apartment. On the surface he is a success, admired by his colleagues. In reality Fassbender is a restless and relentless sex addict. He pursues sex whenever and wherever he can. In the office, at home, on the train and through the internet, nowhere and no one is off limits.

In the early scenes Fassbender provides exemplary proof of the stereotype about lean men and their large appendages. Once proved his appendage is tucked away from sight for the remainder of the film, at least from sight of the audience but he gives it a major workout in sexual activity that is lustful and loveless. All this is played out in long, unblinking closeups that test the audience to the core.

'Shame' does not spell out how or why Fassbender has got to this point but the presence of his sister gives clues to a turbulent and destructive past between them.

Fassbender is a fine actor and this would not have been an easy role to play. The film is not an easy one to watch.

I must say despite Fassbender's much discussed and impressive appendage his is a body type that looks better clothed than naked.

(Warning: Full frontal male and female nudity, strong sex scenes)

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Artist

A modern day silent movie about the transition from the silent movie era to the introduction of 'talkies' in the late 1920s.

About five minutes into 'The Artist' I wondered whether I could sit through two hours of silent pictures but my fears were unfounded. This is a charming easy to follow movie. It is packed with cliches from earlier days of the movies. These don't detract from the film, rather they pay tribute to the industry.

Jean Dujardin is a charismatic leading man as befits his screen character and his leading lady Berenice Bejo is startlingly impressive in her first ever acting role.

It was a bit weird sitting in a cinema with no sound other than music in the auditorium. It certainly demonstrated for me how much noise, sound effects etc we have become accustomed to and which aside from the dialogue and music we scarcely notice in modern movies.


How do I change my Admin address on Blogger?

I've tried to find a method through Blogger settings, Blogger Help and my Google account and have just gone round and round in circles.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A good day for the movies?

It's been so grey and wet this summer in Sydney it was scarcely surprising that the crowds were lined up for the movies at my nearby art house complex last Saturday. The only thing is that the weather had cleared into the first sunny period we had seen for weeks, yet there still we were in great numbers.

Whilst Cs and I were queued for our movie ('The Artist') we saw friends queued for other movies. Be was there with his boyfriend Wm who glared at me as though I was stalking them. I wasn't. They were queued for 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' which we had already seen.

Then Cs noticed a couple who are members of his scrabble group. They were queued for 'The Descendants' We had seen that too.

Then Jn, a fellow volunteer from the hospital rushed in to get tickets for 'The Descendants'. I was somewhat taken aback when she said she had just come from seeing 'The Women on the Sixth Floor' and was now going to see the other film back to back and that one for the second time! Two films back to back on the first sunny day for a month?

I didn't feel so bad then that we were wasting the sun to see just the one film.


Friendship is a two way street. You appreciate the help, support and companionship offered by your friends and you reciprocate for your friends.

I have many acquaintances but only a few close friends. Some of the latter have been friends since our teenage years; that is for more than forty years. Four decades is a long time and you think that you know each other very well after that period.

Still, friends can surprise. Do you really ever know the other person? Friends change too. Why wouldn't they? After all I have changed as I grow older, sometimes wiser, always more experienced.

There are three friends, with whom I form a quartet, who worked together, played sport together and have continued to socialise for more than forty years. A few years back I was surprised to be told that one, Ty, had been hospitalised for depression. Apparently Ty had suffered some serious episode. The surprise was twofold. First, Ty always had seemed such an outgoing, spirited man it had never occurred to me he might be battling demons. Second, and what really stunned us, was that Ty had been hospitalised for depression on a number of occasions over the years and not one of us in the foursome had the slightest inkling that this had happened.

How could this be? How could we not have noticed when Ty was going through difficulties. The sense that we had failed Ty was strong. Thankfully Ty's treatment was successful and his condition is under control. Or is it? Do we really know?

Now, Ae, another friend of over forty years seems to be suffering self esteem problems and unprecedented failures of confidence when for all the previous years of our friendship she was the most confident and outgoing of women. I have some theories as to why this has happened but I am no expert. What to do? I'm not sure.

I may blog further about this.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gary Oldman is brought back into Britain's intelligence service to establish the identity of a mole believed to be imbedded in the organisation. The delicate task is complicated by the likelihood that potential suspects are probably amongst the team of which he had previously been a member.

Slow to start, this film develops into a terrific drama the deeper Oldman delves into the matter. His is a grand performance, a standout in an ensemble of superb British actors.

You have to pay attention but your reward is a cracking 'cold war' yarn.

Monday, 6 February 2012

I'm back

A combination of new MacBook purchase, an introductory lesson, transfer of documents from my previous laptop and then my wireless modem deciding to take an uninvited rest kept me away from my blog but now I'm back.

It may take me a while to return to daily posts as I get used to the new set up but I'm working on it.

First off, how the hell do I retrieve my photos?

Mmmm, my problem, not yours.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Out of office

I'm off the air for a few days whilst my laptop and I are being 'Appled'