Wednesday, 30 September 2015

In flew enza



Oh yes, a droll joke in the title line.

My friend Cs is recovering from a severe bout of influenza that has had him housebound for over two weeks. This despite him having received the flu vaccination this winter. He also experienced conjunctivitis to add to his discomfort.

My bridge partner Ce has also succumbed to the illness (conjunctivitis included) and we have missed the last three bridge sessions as a consequence.

The two of them have not been in each other's presence so something obviously is 'going around' generally in Sydney.

Monday, 28 September 2015

The old 324 is not what she used to be


I travelled home from the Opera House yesterday after seeing 'Of Thee I Sing' on bus route 324. This bus route between Watsons Bay and Circular Quay has operated for decades; as long as I can remember. It was the last time I will be able to travel this route.

Next Sunday major changes take effect to Sydney's bus routes that operate through the CBD. Buses will no longer run down George Street which is to be prepared for the new light rail system to be introduced there from around 2018.

Bus route 324 doesn't actually run down George Street but the route is being altered as part of the overall changes. There will no longer be any buses operating to Circular Quay from my location. At some point I will either have to change to trains or walk to get that area.

Meanwhile the 324 will in future operate to the new Barangaroo precinct and Walsh Bay. Ironically this change amounts to a balanced plus and minus for me. No longer will I have direct public transport to the Opera House but in future I will have direct public transport to the Sydney Theatre Company.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Of Thee I Sing


It was a last minute decision to book tickets for a concert staged version of the 1931 Gershwin Brothers' musical 'Of Thee I Sing' staged for two performances on the weekend.

Written during, and heavily influenced by, the Great Depression the musical is a satire about politics in the USA. A politician stands for President of the United States on a platform of 'love'. It is the sort of silliness that was the hallmark of Marx Brothers films in the 1930s and 1940s.

The plot is old fashioned and mindless and all innocent fun.

An orchestra of thirty or so players, the Sydney Philharmonic Choir of, say, about 100 and a hard working cast of seven produced a delightful staging. Although I didn't recognise any of the numbers the tunefulness of George Gershwin's songs and the wit of brother Ira Gershwin's lyrics are clearly evident in this early work of their careers.

★★★★

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Ivanov

(Belvoir Street Theatre)

Ivanov is a man struggling. He is out of work, out of funds and out of patience. He snaps at everyone around him, including his seriously ill wife, his sponging relatives and a meddling local doctor.

I've often wondered about Russian humour. Would it make more sense to me if I were a Russian. Do Russians understand Australian humour or is our humour as baffling to them as their humour can seem to me.

This is quite a funny production but the comedy does seem peculiar in parts. Transplanting the action to an Australian setting also makes the production puzzling on occasions. However the performances are good and the staging quite interesting.

If you've ever had a yearning to hear a Patsy Cline classic and our National Anthem (both verses) sung in Russian then this production is a must see for you.

★★★

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Diary of a Teenage Girl


'The Diary of a Teenage Girl' is about a fifteen year old who commences a relationship with her mother's boyfriend. It is a coming of age story but one that is rather confronting.

Minnie (Bel Powley) wants to have sex and having achieved her wish she then seeks sex out almost ravenously. This is not an uncommon depiction in relation to boys experimenting with their evolving sexuality but seeing the gender tables turned, throw in the fact that a minor and an adult - her mother's boyfriend no less - are the participants and display it all fairly frankly on the screen and the whole thing is quite unnerving.

I was pretty uneasy viewing this film. The creators walk a very tight line between serious story telling  and salacious porn. I'm sure the intention is the former but this film does make for uncomfortable viewing.
★★★

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

And then there are the cushions

The mirror was not my only new purchase. I also purchased an array of cushions for my charcoal coloured lounge suite. Here are three of them (just lined up for the photography not as they are meant to be deployed;



Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Mirror, mirror on the wall

I have purchased a new mirror for my apartment which is placed to take advantage of the reflected view. I'm quite pleased with the purchase. The glare from the daylight the day I took this photo was such that I couldn't manage a photo which actually showed the harbour reflected in the mirror without me standing within sight.


The chandelier is a leftover from the prior owners and not to my taste at all. One day I'll install new lighting.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Arms and the Man

(Sydney Theatre Company)

George Bernard Shaw's play 'Arms and the Man' is set at the time of the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885 and focuses on a three way relationship between the daughter of prominent Bulgarian family who is engaged to be married to a dubious hero of the conflict and a Swiss mercenary who fought for the losing Serbs.

Ostensibly the characters behave heroically defending national honour but Shaw's humour reveals the reality that most of the participants have self interest in mind and any heroism displayed is purely coincidental and illusory.

A nicely staged production with fine acting from the ensemble.
★★★

Saturday, 19 September 2015

People Places Things


A forty years old teacher (Jemaine Clement) learns his wife is leaving him at their twin daughters' birthday party. Unable to cope with the loss and all at sea when taking care of the daughters the teacher seeks solace through his students and a parent whilst secretly plotting unlikely acts of revenge through his cartoon drawings.

'People Places Things' is full of antipodean dry humour (Clement is a Kiwi) seasoned with background touches of suburban New York City.

★★★

Friday, 18 September 2015

The Gift


What a terrific talent is the Australian Joel Edgerton. He is the writer, director and co-producer of the 'The Gift'. He acts in the film as well. And what a good film it is.

A couple has relocated to California and whilst shopping for household items the husband (Jason Bateman) is approached by a former schoolmate who he seems to scarcely remember. Unexpectedly the former schoolmate (Edgerton) sends the couple a housewarming gift which sets off a series of increasingly unnerving events.

This is a slow burn thriller with well disguised twists and turns.
★★★★

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Ride and Fourplay

Darlinghurst Theatre Company

'Ride and Fourplay' is a double bill of plays by Jane Bodie.

In the first play a couple awakes in a bed one morning naked and strangers to each other. Neither can recall the evening just passed nor how they came to be in bed together. The ensuing conversation takes them on a journey of self discovery.

The second play is also a journey of self discovery this time of two men and two women with interlocking connections. This piece is performed on a completely bare stage with no props. The cast engages in conversation with each mostly speaking directly to the audience.

Two interesting works, the second play is the more satisfying with its clearer resolutions.
★★★

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Life


In 1955 an ambitious freelance photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) spent time with a largely unknown young actor James Dean (Dane DeHaan) who he believed was destined for stardom and fame. The photos he captured of Dean were published in Life magazine later acquiring almost as iconic a status as that of their by then deceased subject.

'Life' is a rather languid retelling of those months in which Stock and Dean, each for their own self interest, tolerated the experience to further their personal and career ambitions.

★★1/2

Saturday, 12 September 2015

This is Opera



I'm really enjoying 'This is Opera' screening in Australia on the Foxtel Arts channel. The host, Ramon Gener, is a real live wire full of energy and enthusiasm who has the most interesting ways of demonstrating the points he wants to make about the operas he highlights. In the latest episode, for example, he used the introduction of overhead serving in tennis by 1920s champion Bill Tilden to illustrate the dramatic impact on opera of the introduction of bel canto singing.

It doesn't hurt the series that Gener is a bit of looker.


Gener switches, with apparent ease, between his native Spanish to interviewing in Italian, French, German and (I think) Portuguese. He hosts the program in a rapid fire English but I have to admit I watch the series with closed captions switched on primarily because his pronunciation of my language is at times curious.

None the less, I look forward to viewing the show each week.

Friday, 11 September 2015

High Society

Hayes Theatre Company

It is the eve of Tracey Lord's second marriage and her first husband turns up to throw a proverbial spanner into the celebrations. The wealthy Lord family is a hotbed of extramarital activity which attracts the attention of reporters from a gossip magazine.

This is the setting for 'High Society', a 1950s musical based on the 1940s play and movie 'The Philadelphia Story'. The musical benefits from a sparkling score by Cole Porter and what I imagine to be the pick of the snappy dialogue from the original work.

The Hayes Theatre Company production I'm told has received middling reviews but we thoroughly enjoyed tonight's performance in front an enthusiastic capacity house (the auditorium only holds 120 people) a significant proportion of whom were recognisable local performers.

Our concerns about the quality of the singing we might hear (based from hearing several promotional excerpts on radio and television ahead of the season) proved baseless.
★★★★

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Reach for the sky

Vancouver apparently has the second most expensive real estate property in the world. Second only to  Hong Kong with my home city of Sydney supposedly in third place.

Much of the property in Vancouver is in high rise towers. This is a typical of what we saw in July.


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl


The 'me' of 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' is a high school student (Thomas Mann) who is trying to navigate those difficult years by melding with every clique without drawing any attention to himself. His one true friend is Earl (RJ Cyler) with whom he makes their own home versions of classic movies. His carefully crafted strategy begins to unravel when under instruction from his mother he befriends a dying girl at the school (Olivia Cooke).

This growing of age story with its mix of live and animated images is enjoyable in a whimsical way. Some of the home movie parodies are delightful.
★★★1/2

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Archibald

The Archibald Prize is a very Sydney event. Awarded every year it is a Portraiture competition 'preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in arts, letters, science or politics painted by any artist resident in Australasia'. The winning portrait is often universally panned by the general public and has at times been the subject of legal protest.

I can't recall a year when I agreed with the judges' verdict but then what do I know about art? As the hoary old response goes, I know what I like. Usually I don't like their winner.

As always the winning portrait attracts plenty of attention. This year's winner mysteriously entitled Judo house pt 6 (the white bird) is a portrait of controversial Barrister Charles Waterstreet. I couldn't get a clear view of the accompanying narrative which may (not?) have thrown light on the title.

Nigel Milsom's 'Judo house pt 6 (the white bird)'

I preferred Jessica le Clerc's portrait of painter David Hart;

Jessica le Clerc's 'Living inside of stories'

And I also preferred Edmund Zu's portrait of Edmund Capon;

Tianli Zu's 'Edmund, your Twomblys are behind you'

Then again I can't resist a nude - not that I'm suggesting it as the winner. One panel of five of Marcus Wills' 'El cabeceo' which celebrates the long marriage of a couple, both doctors, showing both of them dressed and naked.


Saturday, 5 September 2015

Barangaroo

We visited Barangaroo Park today. Opened in the past couple of weeks, the Park is located at the northern end of the under construction Barangaroo precinct.

New towers (I believe three apartment towers) are under construction at the southern end of the precinct and have reached the forty story mark; still rising. James Packer's hotel and casino for the super rich is yet to commence construction but I guess it will be built in the space between the apartment towers and the Park.

Plenty of people were strolling through the Park under splendid Spring sunshine.

Barangaroo Park; towers in the distance

All important water views

Tier upon tier

Friday, 4 September 2015

Eye of the Beholder

('Eye of the beholder' Credit: Wrenne Evans)

Humour, like beauty, surely is in the eye (ear/mind?) of the beholder.

Speaking to Cs by phone he told me about a comedy television show he was watching. The Canadian show features a man who secretly films his own aunt being confronted by an actor who deliberately antagonises her by his actions and words. The aunt, having a caustic nature, reacts in ways that Cs finds hilarious.

It didn't sound hilarious to me. If the show had been fictional I might have thought the idea to be humorous.  A sort of 'Candid Camera' which generally was good natured in the situations it secretly placed people. However the idea of someone secretly filming their own relative to generate an antagonised reaction sounded cruel to me.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Present

(Sydney Theatre Company)

Outgoing Artistic Director of the Sydney Theatre Company Andrew Upton has taken a little known Anton Chekhov play 'Platonov' and created "The Present'.

Set in Russia in the mid 1990s and starring Upton's spouse Cate Blanchett the play is set around the fortieth birthday party of the widow of a feared General. The partygoers include past lovers and would be lovers some with hidden self interested intentions.

The play passes through three moods. Summer lethargy is followed by a style of farce and the final third is a moody surrealism.

Some entertaining moments for me but apparently more so for others in the audience judging by the rapturous curtain call reception.
★★★