Friday, 30 December 2016

Why Him?


A father is aghast when he meets his college daughter's tattooed, crude behaving boyfriend for the first time.

'Why Him?' delivers exactly what you would expect from the trailer and the marketing. Coarse and in your face expletive-laden toilet and sexual referenced humour is the go. This is not an exercise in subtle or sophisticated comedy.

I quite enjoyed 'Why Him?', more so in fact than the numerous other coarse comedies the Hollywood studios have distributed in recent years. Many others in the audience at the session I attended clearly shared my enjoyment.

In its own way 'Why Him?' satirises many aspects of contemporary lifestyles and business.

★★★

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Tyresome

My car registration falls due in January. It spoils the holiday period for me every year. There is the cost of the registration (boosted by State taxes, of course) plus the cost of car insurance plus the cost of compulsory Comprehensive Third Party insurance (another State requirement referred to in NSW as the 'Green slip').

Then there is the, comparatively moderate, cost of the 'Pink slip'; State mandated car inspection pre-registration. At least I don't have to pay for the Pink slip because of an arrangement with the car dealership at the time I purchased the car. All that means I suppose is that the charge for conducting these inspections was buried deep into the cost of the car purchase.

I suspected that my car tyres might draw attention as being a little too worn for registration but I felt it was borderline and I hoped for the best. Tyres, whether new or somehow rehabilitated, are costly to purchase. Unfortunately the inspector decided the tyres had to be replaced.


Oh well. In for a cent, in for (many) a dollar.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Allied


In 1942 a Canadian airman and a French resistance worker join forces to conduct an operation against the German presence in Morocco. Their collaboration sparks a romance and a move to England but they cannot escape impacts of the war.

In some ways  'Allied' is a throwback to the Warner Bothers wartime romantic melodramas. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotilliard make an attractive couple and the plot sustains a well concealed climax.

A chick-flick certainly but plenty of war games to keep the boys attentive too.

★★★★

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A United Kingdom


'A United Kingdom' is based on actual events when Prince Sereste Khama, Prince of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) whilst studying in London met and married an Englishwoman. The mixed race marriage set off a political storm within the Prince's home country and Southern Africa and a battle with Britain, the colonial 'protector'.

A terrific performance from David Oyelowo carries this interesting film.

★★★★

Monday, 26 December 2016

And, they're off....

The annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race always provides a spectacular sight with its start and early moments played out on Sydney Harbour and through the Heads into the Tasman Sea.

I am lucky to have a view of the start from my apartment, albeit from a long way behind the starting line with the fleet sailing further away from my location.

Some photos from today's start;

Sixty yachts tacking for position ahead of the start
The starter's gun fires and they're off
The maxi yachts surge to the lead
Before the start 10 helicopters buzz overhead like mosquitos

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Laying tracks

For the first time in 55 plus years tram (light rail) tracks run along George Street in front of the Sydney Town Hall where once a thriving tram system operated until 1963. The small section, laid in recent days, is part of the South Eastern Light Rail line which is scheduled to commence operations in 2019; just ahead of the next State election (no surprise there).

This short film shows trams in George Street in 1906; one hundred and ten years ago.



The new tracks have been laid just ahead of the section where the above film concludes.

Some photos taken this morning;






Friday, 23 December 2016

Food queues

Oh how we pitied those poor burghers of the Eastern Europe Communist regimes in the 1980s and earlier. The burghers who had to queue for hours to enter supermarkets to purchase the odd loaf of bread or a can of tinned food forlornly displayed on near empty shelves.

Those indignities didn't befall we smug residents comfortably ensconced in our First World Western democracies, did they?

Fast forward to 2016.

This is a queue in the affluent Sydney suburb of Woollahra two mornings before Christmas Day.


Of course, this is not a food shortage queue. This is a queue for the fashionable shopper. The ones who want to purchase their Christmas meat from a shiny, fashionable, expensive butchery where the word 'shortage' is never uttered nor understood.

In case you want to be a part of this nonsense, the name of the butchery is Victor Churchill. Those who reached the head of the queue this morning were greeted by a gentleman wearing tails and a top hat (of course) and a young lady who could take their order and swipe their credit card, all before they were admitted through the hallowed doors.


I wasn't in the vicinity for the butchery or the queue. I was headed to the chicken takeaway store next door.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


I haven't seen every film in the Star Wars series but I have seen most of them. I enjoyed the first film, now 'rebadged' somewhat pretentiously as 'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope' but none of the following films had the same impact on me. I've gradually become bored by the 'good conquers evil after a dire battle' unchanging template for plots. What interest remained for me related to the evolving and increasingly impressive computerised special effects.

So now we have 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'. Same template and similar characters. The first half was more of the same ho hum for me but then in the final 40 minutes or so something happened. The film moved out of the darkness and shadows of most of its predecessors into the sunlight and daylight of something akin to a tropical island. It was a revelation and it brought me to life. It was the most enjoyable spell of Star Wars viewing for me since the original film.

Oh, and the plot you ask? Something about stealing the plans for the Death Star. Doesn't really matter though, does it?

★★★1/2

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Castiglione, Sicily

We set off to explore Mount Etna but I missed a turn off and after driving for a while we decided to continue to another dot on the map, Castiglione.

Turned out to be a good decision. On a hot, lazy, sleepy Sunday we encountered a lovely little township. After wandering around the town for a while we settled down to a long, languid delicious lunch in a small family run cafe.











Tuesday, 20 December 2016

La La Land


Two aspiring performers, an actress and a jazz pianist, meet in Los Angeles and engage in an off and on relationship whilst each seeks their big break.

'La La Land' recreates the style of the classic 1940s MGM musicals using an original score and the time honoured boy meets girl, boy loses girl plot. Whether the time honoured plot is completed in the traditional way is something you'll have the see film to discover.

'La La Land' has reached our shores weighed down by clever marketing and lavish reviews. I really wanted to like it but I was disappointed. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are likeable and talented and if the marketing is to be believed both studied and worked very hard on their skills to portray their characters. However, neither possesses a strong singing voice and their dancing, whilst adequate, does not rate with their predecessors. Perhaps they were chosen for their roles precisely for that reason?

The first half of the film is mostly song and dance with minimal plot development and seems lame. The second half is much more plot focussed and the film from then on feels all the better for it even if that plot is as old as the hills around them.

Disappointing.

★★

Monday, 19 December 2016

Bridge

Tonight, 45.72%, 10/10
Those who have told me they don't like these Bridge postings will be happy to learn that is this last one for an indefinite period. Gosia, in particular, might be pleased.

I have decided to take an open ended break from the game. The late nights are clashing with my daytime commitments and this is the main reason for my decision. A secondary consideration is that we, my Bridge partner and I, have been performing poorly for ages with ongoing results that are disheartening.

Next Wednesday was to have been my last night but my partner informed me tonight she was unavailable for medical reasons. Unfortunately that sees us bow out tonight with a last placing; a result that has been ours uncomfortably often of late.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Little Men


Two thirteen year olds try to maintain their friendship against the background of a property dispute between their families.

'Little Men' is a low key touching film with fine performances from all especially the two teens; the outgoing Michael Barbieri a star for the future in my opinion and the sensitive Theo Taplitz whose main dramatic scene is a stunner.

★★★★

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The coast of Sicily at Taormina

The coastal strip alongside Taormina in Sicily is spectacular as viewed here from the back of the Greek Amphitheatre.

Mediterranean Sea

Mazzaro

Giardini di Naxos on the coast and Mount Etna in the distance

Friday, 16 December 2016

Greek Amphitheatre Taormina, Sicily

Our visit to the Greek Amphitheatre at Taormina with Mount Etna in the backdrop was one of the highlights of our holiday.









Thursday, 15 December 2016

Office Christmas Party


An IT firm stages an office Christmas party to impress a potential client against the wishes of their CEO and the party descends into mayhem and chaos.

'Office Christmas Party' is not the first movie to depict an event gone wrong as a comedy. Some of them, such as Peter Sellers' 'The Party', are classics but this film is not. It is not very funny and worse still it is somewhat nasty.

Some good talent completely wasted.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Billy Linn's Long Halftime Walk


Billy Linn is a feted as a hero for coming to the aid of his Sargent during fierce combat against the enemy in the Iraq war. He and his unit are on a leave stay in Texas prior to their return to combat where they and some of those hosting them have intentions to profit from the unit's fame. There are a few life lessons to be learnt.

'Billy Linn's Long Halftime Walk' is one of the more thoughtful war stories.

★★★

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Girl Asleep

Belvoir Street Theatre

Against her wishes Greta's parents hold a party to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. But Greta is battling to fit in and the party turns into an hallucinogenic nightmare with her new friend Elliot and cliquey in-girls from school featuring prominently.

'Girl Asleep' is an entertaining coming of age story set in the groovy 1970s.

★★★1/2

Saturday, 10 December 2016

A kiss on the mouth may be quite continental


A good friend, Jo, hosted her annual Christmas drinks this evening. We were work colleagues in years past. A divorced grandmother, Jo has a large number of gay friends who are often well represented at the annual gathering.

My first attendance at the function years ago was revelatory for me. There were workmates at the party I already knew or suspected to be gay but then there were workmates who had totally escaped my gaydar. The 'outing' of the latter category wasn't achieved merely by their attendance at Jo's party, of course. The clincher, so to speak, was how these already seasoned attendees at her parties greeted and farewelled each other with unabashed mouth to mouth kisses.

I was surprised at my slightly shocked reaction to the sight of those men kissing at that first party. After all I was a gay man of many decades standing. I had kissed and enjoyed kissing many a man myself and it wasn't that I hadn't seen men kissing before.

None of these men greeted or farewelled me with a kiss at that first party nor at subsequent parties. Perhaps I came across as standoffish? I grew up as a gay man in an era when homosexual activity was illegal - even in private - so public displays of man to man affection were just not on. In any event I had never been a great one for public touchy feely activity.

Well, that changed today. Nothing else seemed different about today's party so I don't know what triggered the change but it was as though I had been inducted into a club. I was kissed and I kissed in return.

How continental was that? How gay.

Friday, 9 December 2016

A hospital meal

(The Treasury Casino)

The hospital entertained its volunteers at the annual Christmas lunch today. The photograph above is not an image from our volunteer lunch but - as captioned - from an advertisement for functions offered by an Australian casino.

The hospital is very generous in its acknowledgement of the work and participation of volunteers. Our lunch took place in a hospital function room which was decorated in grand and tasteful style. The three course meal was beautifully presented and very tasty. A seafood selection for starters (prawns, oysters, salmon, crumbed calamari and crumbed fish pieces) was followed by ham and turkey and vegetables for the main course. Christmas pudding and custard, coffee and tea, mini chocolates for dessert completed the lunch. Oh, and wines, orange juice and sparkling water accompanied the meals.

The theme for the lunch was 'a splash of silver'. I wore a silver bow - in reality a decoration for present wrapping - poking out from my shirt pocket 'kerchief style'. Cs was a bit of a stick in the mud pointing to his grey hair as his splash of silver. No-one, though, could match our volunteer manager dressed, dare I say it, gayly, with his silver coloured crooner style hat, silver sequinned jacket and silver coloured shoes.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Nude

Art Gallery of NSW
Nude Art from the Tate Collection is the current feature exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

I'm not averse to nudity - in certain, ahem, circumstances I can be quite appreciative - but, in general, I don't find art nudity all that attractive. Except for the nudity in pornography where the subjects, or should that be objects, are often carefully selected, almost unreal, examples of physical beauty most people's physical 'normalness' in the nude is not always attractive to my eyes. But, we are what we are in the nude so it can be interesting to see how artists depict humans in our natural state.

This is a collection of mainly paintings but there are also statues and sketches on display. Some items attracted my interest but most did not appeal to me. Noticeably the attendance at this exhibition today was less than I have observed at other feature exhibitions at the AGNSW.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Giardini di Naxos, Sicily

Giardini Di Naxos is a township at the base of the mountain on which Taormina is located. It looks quite interesting although we mainly passed through it numerous times on our way to and from Taormina.

However we did enjoy a wonderful meal in this family run restaurant on the beach front. I can recommend it.




A rather grand railway station serving both towns is nearby to the restaurant although the walk between the two is somewhat dangerous at several points where the footpaths disappear.