Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Nice Guys

A bumbling private eye and a heavy handed stand over merchant join forces to locate a young woman  who has vanished.

'The Nice Guys' is a 1970s period caper using a mix of violence and humour in an endeavour to be endearingly goofy. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling make for a good pair a la Butch and Sundance although both are outshone by a newcomer Aussie, Angourie Rice who plays Gosling's older than her years teenage daughter and who looks to have a bright future.

Cs loved it. I was less impressed but still found more to laugh and smile at than in other supposed comedies I have viewed in the past twelve months.


Sunday, 29 May 2016

Spoilt photos

This man ran through my photo of the Harbour Bridge
This man walked across my photo of the Opera House forecourt
I don't know why men keeping walking across my camera line.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The changing look of Sydney

This is a small section of Sydney's Central Business District photographed in zoom from my apartment. The buildings in the middle with cranes on top appear to be in the CBD. In fact, they are under construction in the new precinct named Barangaroo which lies adjacent to the western boundary of the CBD. That precinct lies on land considerably lower in altitude than the CBD. The fact that the new buildings appear to match the tallest of the CBD buildings indicates just how huge are these new buildings. There are more to come.

The photograph below also appears to be of the CBD but it is in fact the suburbs of Kirribilli and North Sydney which are effectively now a CBD of their own. There is quite a bit of high rise residential accommodation amongst and a part of the officer towers.

The number of cranes indicates that this secondary CBD is thriving. The rather grand looking stone building overlooking the harbour just off centre at the bottom of the photograph is Admiralty House, the Sydney residence of the Governor-General who is Australia's Head of State when a certain Queen is not about.

Friday, 27 May 2016

The Meddler

When I saw a film was titled 'The Meddler' my first thought was of the fast talking crime caper genre favoured by Guy Ritchie.

One look at the film's poster and I knew that this film was far from Mr Ritchie's style.

Susan Sarandon plays a widow desperate to be a part of her adult daughter's life who when rebuffed seeks other targets for her unrequited love and devotion.

I always enjoy seeing Ms Sarandon perform and she gets plenty of screen time - virtually every scene in this film - which for once keeps the male performers in the incidental roles.

It takes a long time for the film to get to the point before it reaches a sentimental and heart warming conclusion. A catchy soundtrack kept me going in the meantime.


Thursday, 26 May 2016


The brilliant annual event that is Vivid Sydney gets underway tomorrow night. This self styled light, music and ideas festival has grown into an event that is almost too large.

(Image: Daniel Boud)
The crowds around the Circular Quay area are so huge, especially late in the week an on weekends, that movement around the displays can be difficult. However, it is such a spectacular display that it is worth battling those crowds at least once in your life.

This year's festival has been extended to 23 days which may help diffuse the crowds; if ever so slightly.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The bullet proved unpalatable

Well, that bullet proved to be unpalatable.

My friend took three others to inspect the property she intended to bid for and each found something about it to criticise. 'I don't want to live somewhere that makes my friends uncomfortable' she told me later.

So, that purchase is off the agenda but the search for a new home goes on.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The show didn't go on

Whatever happened to 'the show must go on'? That was Cs' response when I informed him that tonight's performance of 'The Cherry Orchard' at the New Theatre was cancelled due to cast illness.

'I hope the cast member ill was not your ingenue', I replied. The only reason we decided to book for this production is that it features an actress Cs introduced and directed in his amateur theatrical days and he was keen to see how she was handling the professional stage.

We may never know. The season ends next weekend and we have no other days in common available to attend.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Events

A lesbian Christian minister welcomes a stranger to join the choir she manages with unexpected consequences. The stranger is later connected with events of mass shootings and murders.

It seems to me that 'The Events' is more a 75 minutes long performance piece than a play. It features two actors; one of whom plays multiple roles, a pianist and a choir. In this staging, the choir varies at every performance. These are real choirs from various communities around Sydney. They contribute half a dozen or so songs - spiritual in nature - and, reading from a song book, a number of choristers deliver some lines of dialogue to interact with the two actors.

I imagine this makes for interesting variety at every performance for the two actors and pianists; variety that will go unnoticed by audience members apart from any who attend more than once.

An unusual concept, this somewhat muddled work has its moments.


Friday, 20 May 2016

Biting the bullet

For the past four years a friend has been vacillating over the sale and purchase of property. She desperately wants to move out of her home of the past thirty years or more which is in a prime location but badly in need of refreshment. She wants something equally well located but smaller and in good condition.

The problem is she is scared. The adventurous, carefree woman I knew when we were in our twenties is a cautious, frightened late 60s senior. Unfortunately she has fallen out with siblings who for decades were her closest and trusted confidantes.

I find myself walking a tightrope. I respond to her requests, almost pleas, for advice but as I am neither legally trained nor expert in real estate processes I want to avoid losing our friendship over some perceived catastrophic decision based on my assistance.

I hope it works out for.....and for me.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Captain America: Civil War

The apparently growing number of super persons known, or should that be 'working', collectively as The Avengers is in a spot of disagreement. They have signed an accord limiting their activities so as not too over reach their 'authority'. However some members, notably Captain America, think there should be no limits to their authority and they should exercise their powers wherever they feel it appropriate. And so, they are at war with each other. A bloody and violent war yet with enough civility to pause momentarily to exchange wisecracks.

'Captain America: Civil War' is more of the same. It is the same crash bang, whiz bang, knock em over high tech fisticuffs as in the previous super hero movies. And, the band of merry super persons is growing. Quite a club of oddities.

I was bored fairly quickly. The one highlight for me was a flashback scene employing special effects to portray Robert Downey Jr in his teenage years. A great reminder of how good looking he was in his younger days.

The film is long and mostly for aficionados.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

One pest too many

The pest control man visited this morning. The appointment was for 8am. He rang at 8.30am to apologise that he was running late because the prior appointment took longer than expected. He was at Marrickville and would be with me shortly. Oh no, he wouldn't, I thought. Not at that peak time. The traffic would be too heavy. Of course he wasn't with me shortly. He arrived at 9.30am.

He was quite thorough spraying in every room and applying his magic sticky stuff in dobs on every internal hinge he could find. All the while, he talked. And talked.

He'd recently relocated from Perth, Western Australia. He is starting a new life. He is divorced. He doesn't want more children. If he finds a new 'woman' he wants her to be ten years older than him so there will be no young children. He is almost a grandfather at nearly 41 years of age. The traffic in Sydney is far worse than in Perth. The view from my apartment is fantastic. The rent must be huge. I must be a lawyer or a doctor to live here. You can buy a whole house in Perth for under $500,000 but not so in Sydney. His rent in Sydney is $$$$$ .......... And so and so forth.

All that in about fifteen minutes.

Once he departed I felt that at least one pest had been eradicated.

Monday, 16 May 2016

A Month Of Sundays

A real estate agent (Anthony LaPaglia) is drifting through life and his work when he receives a misdialled phone call. The caller was ringing her son and the agent finds the caller reminiscent of his own recently deceased mother.

This mistaken connection sparks a familial style relationship between the two.

'A Month Of Sundays' has its moments but is dragged down by its one tempo style. A  scene of a school play rehearsal is a rare moment of light whilst John Clarke's dry humour provides some relief and Julia Blake is a dignified presence.


Sunday, 15 May 2016

The First Monday In May

'The First Monday In May' is a documentary detailing the planning for the annual Gala and fashion exhibition that jointly serve as a fund raiser for the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The planning phases that comprise most of the documentary are interesting in a celebrity watching way and therefore of little interest if you don't care to snoop into the lives of the rich and famous. Hearing hints of who is in and who is out and watching the machinations of table placement provides a frisson of excitement for celebrity snoopers.

The final twenty minutes or so when the audience 'tours' the completed exhibition is simply stunning.

My companion and I loved it.


Saturday, 14 May 2016

I always love this view

It is Autumn in Sydney but we are having a seemingly endless Indian summer. Today we enjoyed temperatures in the upper 20s centigrade and ongoing clear blue skies.

Opera Bar, this morning, beneath the Opera House Concourse

Looking back to Circular Quay from the Opera House Promenade

Friday, 13 May 2016

My mate Stan

As a long time subscriber to Australia's main pay television service I assumed that I would not be seduced by the various streaming services that have entered the Australian market in the past twelve months or so.

In my view I was already paying well over the odds for access to dozens and dozens of channels many showing no programs of interest to me or else showing programs repeated ad nauseum.

I would read about people who binge watched entire series of long running shows and I wondered who in their right mind would spend their time doing that.

Then along came Netflix and its initial program in Australia included first run of the American series 'House of Cards'; a series which until then had been exclusive to the pay service and a series to which I had become addicted.

So, I weakened my resolve and signed on to Netflix. The entire collection of episodes of Series 3 was released in one go and I was hooked into binge watching it. Like my pay service this streaming service had some programs that I liked and many more of little or no interest. Practising shrewd 'drip water torture' strategy the streaming service introduced new series and programs at a regular rate and occasionally one or two of them would engage my interest.

Having signed on to Netflix I was fairly sure I would not be tempted by other streaming services but then I was intrigued by advertising for '11.22.63' and 'Billions' screening on the Australian streaming service curiously named Stan and once again I couldn't resist.

Through Stan I was exposed to the television series 'The West Wing' (1999-2006). I never watched this series during its original release. I don't why. It was highly regarded and very popular here, yet I never saw even one of it's 154 episodes. Boy have I made up for it now. Binge watching? I sure have been.

What is it about The West Wing? Yes, the technology looks a bit quaint ten and more years later. Yes, the idealism seems naive at times. Yes, the politics and strategies are brutal at times. Yes, some of the episodes are just a little too clever by half. Yes, it is often parochial. Nevertheless I love it and at a time when actual American politics, 2016 style, leaves us bemused, this historical display of that country's political system is proving quite educative.

Thanks to my new mate Stan I now have an understanding of the attractions of binge viewing. It just has to be the right program. I am 128 episodes into it. Just 26 episodes to go.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

I came to 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' without any foreknowledge of what it is about and with the uninformed assumption, because it stars Tina Fey, that I would be seeing a broad comedy.

In fact the film is a drama, and a good one at that, about the wartime experiences in Afghanistan of a television journalist, her media colleagues and the military with whom they associated in the field and  at leisure.

The film has humour, in the style of 'MASH', I suppose, but it is mostly a depiction of wartime relationships in closed and dangerous environments.


Saturday, 7 May 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins

'Florence Foster Jenkins' was an American socialite who supported the arts by establishing and financing a performance club. She was also an unknowing eccentric who yearned to perform on stage as a classical and operatic singer whilst being unaware that she had absolutely no vocal talent whatsoever. She was encouraged and protected in these endeavours by her devoted partner St Clair Bayfield.

This another of those films where the trailer suggest one thing - uproarious comedy - whilst the film itself is unreality something else - a gentle depiction of human devotion.

Certainly Meryl Streep draws laughter out of Foster Jenkins' excruciating vocalisations but the overarching message is one of an unusual love, strong devotion and mutual dependency between herself Bayfield (Hugh Grant).

The film presents colourful images of street life in 1940s New York.


Mia Madre

Margherita Buy is directing a film about a factory in turmoil with workers rising against management but is battling to take control of the project. Meanwhile her mother is in hospital facing lengthy tests and Margherita is battling that relationship too. To top it off, Margherita's daughter is holidaying with her father from whom Margherita is either separated or divorced and Margherita finds it difficult to control that relationship as well.

In fact, Margherita has battles everywhere; her American star can't remember his lines and her brother's hospital meals for their mother always seem to trump her own.

This Italian mostly Italian language film has been widely praised but I found it difficult to get into. 'Mia Madre' was nearly 40 minutes in before I realised some scenes were in flashback and the narrative wasn't strictly linear. The various bearded men in the cast looked similar to me and I had difficulty sorting one from another.

The second half was stronger and funnier than the first but by then the film had largely lost me.


Thursday, 5 May 2016

Woy Woy

We spent today's 'seniors Thursday' meeting up for lunch in Woy Woy. It is a 75 minutes train journey from Sydney's Central Station passing through tunnels and beside the Hawkesbury River along the way.

Incidentally, type Woy Woy, on my MacBook and autocorrect changes the first Woy into Why but not the second Woy. Why?

We lunched at Woy Woy Fishermans Wharf. Seafood only and fried fish only. I would have preferred some grilled fish but the location was attractive as was the weather so the lunch was a pleasant enough occasion.

Across the road a local, historical pub, the Ye Olde Woy Woy Hotel. A 'footwear must be worn at all times' venue.

The return train journey coincided with the end of the school day and the carriages were filled and emptied by school students at several stops along the way. The students were clearly from selective schools in the area. We knew this for the simple fact that the faces of these students were without a single exception Asian and Sub-continental in appearance. Are there no 'Ginger Meggs' types at our selective schools? Or maybe they are collected by mothers in massive SUVs and do not face the indignity of travel by public transport.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Man Who Knew Infinity

Based on true events and actual people 'The Man Who Knew Infinity' tells the story of a young Indian man without formal higher education who just instinctively was a genius at mathematics. Although he secured a place at Trinity College, Cambridge University he experienced racism and violence because of his background especially as the Great War of 1914/18 loomed.

This is a fascinating and beautifully told film and I feel some shame that I had no prior awareness of this Mozart of Mathematics whose now century old formulas still inform us about matters in our universe to this day.