Sunday, 31 May 2015


Melissa McCarthy is a kind of CIA spy handler who steps up as a spy when the operative she is handling is murdered in the field.

'Spy' is obviously modelled on the James Bond franchise from its prelude scene through its opening and closing credits. It's success as a comedy is partly that the performances are played straight rather than deliberately for the laughs although the film does occasionally drift into the current fad for gross-out humour.

Very entertaining.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

The not so beautiful game

In light of Mr Blatter's re-election as the head of the world's football body FIFA the following table - widely circulated - provides startling, indeed shocking, information. It says something about Mr Blatter that as his organisation's President he didn't have the decency to accept responsibility, even if it was only symbolic, for its abysmal activities. It is also a sad commentary on those many national Federations who stand by this failed executive, evidently preferring the benefits of corrupt largesse to being a member of an honest, reputable structure.

Friday, 29 May 2015


(Hayes Theatre)

The tiny Hayes Theatre Company continues to stage musicals to a standard that belies its size and I would assume very limited resources.

The latest staging 'Dogfight' continues the company's growing reputation.

Based on a 1991 film of the same name the musical tells of three marines, on the eve of being shipped out to Vietnam, who have a bet on which one can bring the ugliest ('dog') woman to a party. Notwithstanding this distasteful premise, the musical has some fine points and was enthusiastically received by a largely female audience when we attended.

A pretty classy production, the one drawback being an ongoing issue for this small auditorium of poor sound balance, mostly during the big productions numbers. The cast - all unknown to us - delivered strong, impressive performances.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

A million miles from care

'Seven miles from the city, a million miles from care.' The famous motto boasted by the Manly Ferries which day after day, steam the 35 minutes trip between the CBD's Circular Quay and Manly's harbourside cove punctually every 20 minutes (peak) or every half hour (off peak). The motto is well based. The trip alone induces a sense of calm no matter the weather or harbour conditions.

The motto was relevant for us today. Four of us spent the day at Manly partly in recognition of Ae's birthday yesterday. It was a carefree day even if Ae and Je were in a subtle bitchy mood with each other.

Why wouldn't you feel carefree in late Autumn conditions like these?

Manly Beach
Shelly Beach Park looking back towards to Manly

Promenade between Manly and Shelly Beaches

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Capitol, my boy, capitol

When we saw Les Miserables last week I was somewhat taken aback when the usher scanned my home printed tickets and informed us that we were in possession of Capitol Class tickets. The musical is being staged in Sydney's Capitol Theatre.

The usher explained we were entitled to 'complimentary' programs, chocolates, an ice cream and a beverage each. Presumably I paid a surcharge for this 'privilege' when purchasing our tickets online but I have no recollection of doing so. More to the point I would not have selected that option had I known that was what I was being offered.

Anyway, my companion Mt asked whether she might substitute a souvenir fridge magnet, to which she had taken her fancy, rather than accept an ice cream but any variation to our entitlement was firmly refused.

'How much is the magnet?' enquired Mt innocently. '$10' replied the Capitol Class Counter functionary. There was no way Mt would pay $10 for a simple fridge magnet, no matter the ongoing fond memories of her favourite musical its presence on her refrigerator might bring.

I'll make sure we are back to the Hoi Polloi Class next time.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Going home

The Festival over for another year

Going home


For the Sydney Writers Festival session with Asne Seierstad regarding her book 'One of Us' about the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik I positioned myself near a television screen in order to have a better view of proceedings given that all the seats nearer the stage were occupied.

The screen shows the moderator and author being 'miked up' for the discussion. I'm seated behind an attractive woman wearing a striking top with a Freda Karhlo motif.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Don't rain on my festival

The only session I booked for today at the Sydney Writers Festival was Michael Frayn: On Fiction; a discussion with the playwright and author about his novels.

Taking our seats in the Roslyn Packer Theatre
It was a late afternoon session and very entertaining it was too.

Ending at 5.30pm I had thirty minutes before the nearby bus stops would be closed for the opening night of Vivid Light, Music and Ideas Festival commencing at 6pm. If I missed that cut off time I faced a long walk up town (or is it down town?) to the temporary bus terminals.

I reached the bus stop at 5.55pm just as the heavens opened with heavy rain. The last buses before the cut off were queued and in grid lock as the special road clearways and closures for Vivid came into effect.

The journey home was more than three times the usual duration. The combination of special event arrangements and rain combining to frustrate everyone.

Vivid is a terrific Festival but its impact on movement through and around the CBD is profound.

Thursday, 21 May 2015


Today at the Sydney Writers Festival 2015.

Andrew Ford (extreme right) speaking about Elvis' Hips

Afternoon sun breaks through

Evening sessions

Evening jazz session

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Les Miserables

The third Australian season of 'Les Miserables' is playing in Sydney. This box office champion of a musical is still weaving its magic given that this season is now into its second year. The two earlier Australian seasons also ran for multiple years.

I had read that this reimagined staging of the musical is significantly different from the original stagings in particular through its use of screen projections. I was sceptical about meddling with a proven successful formula but now realise I underestimated the extent to which film is used to create imaginative atmosphere.

The projected images have been used brilliantly to support the live action and to suggest location and environment. I think this production with the projected images enhancing the physical settings is visually superior to the original which to my mind now seems quite minimalist by comparison.

Crucially in this production the performances of Simon Gleeson (Valjean) and Hayden Tee (Javert) are powerful. Both sing their roles strongly. Of the supporting soloists Kerrie Ann Greenland (Eponine) impressed me the most. The other soloists, to be honest, don't match the stellar performances of their counterparts in the previous Australian productions but they contribute effectively nonetheless. There are some impressive voices amongst the ensemble cast.

As a fan of this musical I didn't really expect this, at least fifth, viewing to be a fresh experience but to my delight that is how it felt this time around.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

This is one idea of the planet of the future, Earth reduced to rock and sand. Those in control of water, women's breast milk and human blood dominate the rest who are subservient to them.

'Mad Max: Fury Road' is a two hours long road chase. For three quarters of its length a small group of escapees are pursued by the dominants and then they turn around to chase each back over the same route for the final quarter. Dialogue is minimal. The action is loud, long and relentless interspersed by the occasional moment of supreme stillness which comes as a blessed, if brief, relief.

This film has received rave reviews from seemingly everyone. It is not my type of film yet I have to concede it is constructed very well, it is visually fascinating and it held my interest throughout which is more than I can say for others of its genre.

My ears rang for hours afterwards.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Lincoln Place

Updating construction of Lincoln Place the new apartment complex next door.

10 February 2015


Thursday, 14 May 2015

We're in the money

Periodic visit to the financial advisor today. His business has moved. Same building as before but on Level 28 now instead of the previous Level 22.

As you can imagine spectacular views from Botany Bay and Sydney Airport to the northern suburbs and out west to the Blue Mountains. And all that just from the western side of the office.

Viewed from the foyer and meeting room this office is larger than the previous one. Not as darkly tasteful as previously. Bright lights and minimalist decor.

The new advisor handling my account - very cute, by the way - was quick to mention the landlord paid for the fit-out in order to retain them as tenants. No doubt this was to allay any concern I might harbour that my mighty wealth was frittered on their accommodation.

The new name of the advisory business includes the words 'Wealth Partners'.

My wealth, they partner.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Age of Adaline

The combination of a road accident and freak weather incident leave Blake Lively ageless. Basically she is stuck at 28 with those looks and appearance, which is a problem for her in 'The Age of Adaline'. For one thing, now at 107, she still attracts lustful approaches from men in their thirties. Furthermore her own daughter, aged 84, looks like her grandmother and youthful policemen don't believe her when she shows them her birthday endorsed drivers licence. First world problems as the current saying goes.

I can forgive implausible film plots when delivered in an entertaining way, or with striking effect or in some innovative manner. But Adaline's plot clothed in dreamy romantic images in and around San Francisco lacks logic and the eventual outcome is so ludicrous as to border on the distasteful.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Sunset over Walcha

Sunset over Walcha

Flying back from Brisbane last Saturday evening I took this photo of the lovely sunset with my iPhone. Interestingly although the camera was set to the required Airplane mode the phone still registered the location where the photo was taken. The lights of the town of Walcha can just be seen left of centre.

Although we were already in descent into Sydney the aeroplane's cabin lights were not dimmed as seems usual practice. Consequently the reflection from inside the cabin is visible in the photograph.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Panthers Pool Party

A quick overnight visit to Brisbane to catch up with friends. We saw the Broncos versus Panthers NRL match. The Panthers team stayed at my hotel and some of their players enjoyed a post match wind down in the hotel's spa.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Clouds of Sils Maria

An ageing actress (Juliette Binoche) is asked to appear in a revival of play in which she launched her career twenty years previously as the ingenue but this time to portray the older of the play's two protagonists. Whilst staying in the Swiss Alps the actress rehearses her role with her young assistant in circumstances where the delineation between the fictional play and reality become increasingly blurred.

'Clouds of Sils Maria' is a film packed with dense dialogue. I found it hard going at times and had difficulty maintaining my attention. However the acting, especially from Binoche and Kristen Stewart as the assistant is excellent.

The scenery in the Alps is simply stunning and the musical soundtrack quite sublime.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Not a clue, no idea, nada, nothing. Most of the time I had no idea just what is happening in Avengers: Age of Ultron but then not many would be tempted to see the film for its plot. Ultron is some cyberspace form of peace movement which has been hijacked for evil purposes.

In this comic book universe the goodies battle the baddies for the restitution of the peace cyber. None of the goodies takes themselves too seriously as is reflected in the occasionally witty dialogue which helps lift this genre film above the average.

The effects are super impressive, the music soundtrack is ominous and the sound is...well...noisy. Very noisy.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Fog horns

Fog horns sounding on the harbour this morning signalling the end of two major rain 'events' and the return (when fog clears) of sunny conditions.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Elsa and Fred

'Elsa and Fred' are seniors living alone in adjacent apartments. One has withdrawn from active life whilst the other is outgoing and inquisitive.

This American remake of a Spanish film has echoes of the original's European sensibilities. Predictable but still entertaining this is a film for the over 60s (or thereabouts).

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Testament of Youth

I have to confess that I'd never heard of Vera Brittain nor of her book from which the film 'Testament of Youth', a World War 1 period piece of the type which the British do so well, is adapted.

The film chronicles the wartime experiences of Ms Brittain, her family and several suitors.

The film is beautifully acted and contains stunning images. I felt like I'd spent two hours in an art gallery after seeing it.

Friday, 1 May 2015


Sydney Theatre Company

The chief protagonists in 'Jumpy' are a fifties something mother and her fifteen years old daughter. They don't see eye to eye over nearly everything and are engaged in an endless battle of wits. Peripheral characters are the girl's father, the mother's female friend, the parents of the daughter's boyfriend and a couple of other friends of the daughter.

The program notes suggest this play is more than the comedy it appears on the surface to be. Apparently it is also a commentary on post Thatcher Britain. If so, I didn't get any of that from this production.

From the audience reaction at the performance I attended those who got most from the play were women who I guess could relate to the mother/teenage daughter representations. The males in the audience mainly remained quiet.

Even as comedy I thought this play missed the mark. The performers certainly tried hard but I wasn't impressed.

The set design which has furniture items sliding across stage by remote control through endlessly opening and closing walls seemed at times like a Swiss cuckoo clock gone berserk on steroids. It was a distraction.