Thursday, 10 August 2017

Where is winter?

Sydney has not really had a winter this year. Yes, there have been a couple of cold days and some cold mornings but mostly the temperatures have been very mild indeed. One day in July the maximum reached 26º which is the warmest July day recorded at Sydney's weather bureau in 158 years of record keeping. We've enjoyed multiple maximums around the 24º mark.

Sunsets have been colourful and so peaceful looking. This was one of our sunsets this week.



Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Wind River



An FBI agent enlists a game tracker to assist her to investigate a murder in a remote, snow bound, Indian reservation in Wyoming.

Whilst the setting is almost literally a polar opposite to 'The Wall', which I commented about in yesterday's post, 'Wind River' shares that film's themes of hostile environment and enemy forces. The snowy mountains in Wyoming provide spectacular scenery. The plot unfolds slowly and most of the action is confined to the final scenes. I didn't mind the slow nature of the film but C was annoyed by it.

The sound design is poor with quite a bit of the dialogue inaudible at times.

✮✮✮

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Wall


In 2007 the US President, George W Bush, has declared that the Iraq war has been won. The task of rebuilding the country has begun under the watchful eyes of US troops. In this environment two US soldiers find themselves pinned down by an unseen sniper in a hot and dusty hostile location with only a flimsy, decaying stone wall providing any protection.

'The Wall' has only three characters, one of whom is never seen.

This oppressive situation won't appeal to everyone but I think this film gives a terrific sense of remote desert warfare against a determined and unrelenting enemy who seems to hold all the aces. It certainly does not romanticise war.

✮✮✮½

Monday, 7 August 2017

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

(Sport for Jove Theatre Company)

The arrival of a new and argumentative inmate at a US mental institution in 1963 stirs the settled existing community and staff eliciting changes in attitudes and power bases.

The play 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' is adapted from a novel by Ken Kesey. A hugely successful film version was released in 1975. The play is at once disturbing in it's representation of cruel health and welfare treatment and also entertaining as its dominated characters draw on hitherto unrealised strengths.

This may be an amateur production but it is professional in quality.

✮✮✮½

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Kindertransport

(Darlinghurst Theatre Company)

In 1939 as war appears inevitable a Jewish mother in Germany prepares her young daughter for evacuation to hopeful safety in Britain. In the 1980s in London a mother helps her daughter pack in preparation for her move away from home.

These twin stories and the links between them that become disclosed form the basis of this play. 'Kindertransport' is an interesting play about mother/daughter relationships and issues of identity.

✮✮✮

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Jesus Christ Superstar

The Production Company

The current presentation from The Production Company, in limited season, at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne.

If you need a precis of the plot then you haven't been paying attention.

It has been probably been 40 years since I last saw this musical on stage. Revisiting the work properly after such a long break really had me thinking about it. For a Superstar, the Jesus character gets a pretty raw deal.

Judas has most of the best songs and moments. He opens the musical with a big number, closes the musical with a big number and has the last big moment to close Act 1. By comparison Jesus has one big solo musical moment only when mid stream in Act 2 he questions God; 'why must I die?'. Rob Mills (Jesus) handles that moment well earning strong applause. But Zoy Frangos (Judas), an unknown (to me), has the best gig and he makes the most of it. Should the musical be called 'Judas Isacariot, Super-villain'?

Jesus doesn't even have the second best of it. Arguably, Mary Magadelene, Pontius Pilate and King Herod all have better scenes. All three are strongly represented in this staging.

I wonder if Lloyd Webber and Rice had created this musical later in their careers rather than earlier, might Jesus have a got a better deal musically?

As usual, The Production Company has delivered a strong, ensemble performance. The future of Australian musical theatre remains strong with young artists like those we see in their productions.

✮✮✮ ½

Friday, 4 August 2017

A day in Melbourne

A quick theatre day trip to Melbourne. A sunny winter's day. The sun surprisingly warm on my back when the chilly breeze drops away.

Framework on the Arts Centre Melbourne with banner advertising current show
Different angle of the framework with the roof top spire visible
Even with the bare trees of winter Melbourne looks so much more stylish than Sydney. People dress more stylishly and unlike we Sydneysiders wear real winter clothing. No thongs or stubbies worn to the theatre in this town. Also the football religion is so evident. Not in this photo but in actuality countless passersby proudly wearing their team's colours. Essendon Bombers supporters clearly out numbering Carlton Blues supporters.
I tried to capture this spectacular moment ahead of sunset as viewed from atop the Skybus bouncing along the highway to the airport. I failed.
A section of the Qantas domestic terminal at Melbourne Airport on a Saturday night. Only four more flights were listed for departure, including my flight to Sydney, so this must be where some Qantas planes come to sleep overnight. I hope they are well rested for their next flights.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Health and welfare day

8am - Dental appointment. Bonding to fill gaps between three teeth and the gum line.

10.30am - Annual skin check. All clear, no new melanomas detected.

12 noon - Haircut. Number 2 cut on top; Number 1½ cut on sides.

12.30pm - Striding out in the world with confidence.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Big Sick


'The Big Sick' is a drama/comedy about generation gaps and culture gaps. In Chicago USA, Pakistani born Kumail Nanjiani resists his parents' attempts at organising an arranged marriage for him all the time keeping secret from them his love for a local non-Pakistani woman.

This bitter sweet tale will be familiar to first generation emigrants across the planet and as the end credits indicate it is drawn from the Nanjiani's real life experiences. The trailer for the movie promotes it as a comedy but it is comedy with a hard edge and a dramatic soul.

✮✮✮ ½

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Paris Can Wait


Anne (Diane Lane) is prevented by an earache from accompanying her husband on his flight to Budapest. Instead arrangements are made for her to be driven by his associate Jaques (Arnaud Viard) to Paris, their following destination. It is Anne's expectation they will drive directly to the French capital but Jaques finds every excuse to meander via interesting villages, townships and restaurant stops. 'Paris Can Wait' is Jaques' mantra.

This is a very slight film verging on dullness. Highlights are occasional bursts of scenery and glimpses of interesting meals but there is not really enough of either to keep this movie afloat. Lane is always watchable in my opinion but even she struggles to make an impact and it doesn't help that the Jaques character presents as irritating, even a little sleazy at times.

✮✮

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Dunkirk


Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' is an imaginative telling of the World War 2 evacuation of hundreds of thousands of trapped allied forces from the Belgian port.

Comparatively short for a war movie and mostly without dialogue 'Dunkirk' comprises three separate but linked stories. The main story is of the week long efforts to evacuate forces from the beach. A second story focuses on a single day when one family owned leisure craft sets out to participate in the rescue efforts. A third story represents just one hour of activity by three British Spitfire pilots to knock enemy aircraft out of the action. What is particularly clever is how these stories are not told sequentially but are presented simultaneously even though they are of different lengths.

Nolan's film portrays war action so realistically I flinched and jumped in my seat numerous times as though I was there with the characters. And these characters are not all heroes either. Arguably some behave disgracefully, even cowardly, at times.

The musical soundtrack is quite unusual. Some might not regard it as musical at all, rather hearing annoying noise but I thought it supported action and impending action splendidly.

It is very telling that a movie has had an effect when the audience does not immediately rush to the exits the second the end credits appear.

A brilliant film.

✮✮✮✮1/2

Friday, 28 July 2017

Reflections on the holiday

I enjoyed our ten days in Bali more than I would have expected. It was a very leisurely holiday. Apart from two sightseeing excursions the rest of the holiday was centred on our resort area lazing by the pool and the beach, doing crosswords, gossiping, people watching and, of course eating. All our evening meals were taken in the vicinity of our resort on the beachfront at Sanur. All the meals were three courses. A starter, mostly soup, a main course and a dessert. All the meals were delicious or at the least entirely satisfactory. Not one of these meals cost more than $A20 each.

Breakfast was taken at a covered but wall-less area under a nearby Banyan tree which was a two minute stroll from our rooms. The grounds of the resort were vast and beautifully maintained and the pool refreshing. The rooms are rather tired and need considerable refreshing but they were spacious, and the beds were comfortable. Even with families present, the noise level was low and sleep was easy. The daily temperatures were 26º to 28º with low humidity and we did not experience a drop of rain. It was a little breezy eating meals at night on the beachfront but we remained in shorts and t-shirts throughout. We took long walks daily and averaged more than 10 kms of walking every day; although not in one burst. I came home two kilos lighter but it is not reflected when I look at myself in the mirror 😞.

I was less impressed with the high profile tourist areas at Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Ubud but no doubt their resorts are also havens from the outside world and in some cases are undoubtedly more luxurious than where we stayed. That is the case with the W resort at Seminyak which we visited briefly. It looks stunning to the eye but would be even more stunning to the wallet.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Perhaps W stands for WTF luxury

Whilst we spent the vast majority of our stay in Bali at Sanur and were happy to do so we also paid brief visits to other tourist spots, namely Ubud, Kintamani, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak.


These visits only reinforced my preference for Sanur which provided the leisurely, sedate holiday experience I was seeking.

Whilst in Seminyak we spent twenty minutes or so wandering around public areas in the W Bali Resort. This exclusive resort is quite an eye opener. Stunning in parts, the biggest stun (or sting) would probably be to your wallet.

Some photos from our 'hit and run' visit.

Car entry is via a long Bamboo archway. Cars are security checked including for bombs.
Poolside
Poolside and Seminyak Beachside
Lazy cushions
Indoor/Outdoor lounge; one of numerous eating places.
Seminyak Beach
Another dining location

We didn't open our wallets.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Along Sanur Beach

Some sights from Sanur Beach front.

Receding tide.
Sunrise
A 7am wedding or a photo shoot?
A different sunrise.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Kintamani

We visited Kintamani in the highlands of Eastern Bali where we saw a volcano (Mount Batur), the nearby lake (Caldera) and a terrace of rice paddies.

Mount Batur
Caldera Lake
Rice terraces. The depth of the terraces can be judged by spotting how small the people on the other side appear.

Friday, 21 July 2017

More from the Inna Grand

Some more images from the Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel.

Lovely grounds and water features.
Our reception desk.
Religious features.
Our accommodation.
Lovely grounds but notice the awning, example of the maintenance needs.
'Our' pool.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Inna Grand

Our resort in Bali is the Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel. Well that is the name by which everyone here seems to know it but I notice the website refers to it as Grand Inna Bali Beach Hotel. The grounds of the resort are vast and mostly well maintained. The accommodation itself is less grand. Once upon a time those buildings were grand and the website's photos, which may date from those times, reflects that. Nowadays the rooms we stayed at need considerable refreshing. None the less our stay was to prove very comfortable and there is much to admire about the resort, especially if you are looking for a leisurely sedate holiday rather than one that is hectic, noisy and on the go. As it turns out, the resort proved to be perfect for our expectations.

We took an early walk around the complex - well, some of it anyway - did a little shopping for nibbles and evening drinks, you know the sort of thing, and got our initial bearings.

Some photos.

The reception desk to our section of the resort
Our rooms were located in this building, with stand alone villas and one of various pools located nearby
The nearby pool with the poolside dining and bar. Our accommodation can be seen in the distance
Beachside, little more than 30 metres from our rooms.
Tower accommodation and more pools located nearby on the resort.
A cultural reference adorning the nearby tower accommodation.
More photos to follow.