Sunday, 23 April 2017


In 1996 historian David Irving, a noted Holocaust denier, sued Professor Deborah Lipstadt and her publishers claiming she had libelled him in her book, 'Denying the Holocaust'.

The film 'Denial' recounts the legal battle, how the defence case was formulated, the trial and the outcome.

A beautifully acted film with fascinating glimpses into the British justice system and its protagonists.


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Going in Style

Three retirees angered by the loss of their pensions and banking practices decide to rob a bank.

'Going in Style' is perhaps not the best lesson in crime doesn't pay; if indeed that lesson is even evident. This is a movie aimed at seniors who will relate to the characters' frustrations and behaviour whilst also recognising the absurdity of the situation.

Fun, but not innocent fun.


Friday, 21 April 2017

What the f.....

My credit card provider has written to inform me - and no doubt many others - that my card will 'no longer be offered' from 5 August.


I use the card regularly and I have many direct debits linked to it. What a f#$%&ng nuisance.

Now, to clarify. I have two credit cards provided by the same bank. One card is of the variety whose name is like a travel document. The other card, the one 'no longer offered', is of the variety that one 'should never leave home without'. You know the one. It is the one that many retailers won't accept anyway and that most of those who do apply a higher surcharge to.

Having delivered that sucker punch I read on to find that the account fee for the remaining card will in future be (think of any number 165% higher than the previous one).


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Table 19

The history of cinema is littered with references to the outlying table at a wedding reception reserved for what might be regarded as the Z-list of people invited by the bride and groom out of duty rather than preference.

Those people in 'Table 19' include the dumped first preference for Maid of Honour, a long forgotten nanny of the bride, a mysterious oddball relative of the groom's father, a jaded, warring couple who own a restaurant vaguely favoured by somebody or other and a mother-pecked awkward young man who just wants to lose his virginity and whose connection to the wedding party, if it was revealed, passed me by.

I had the occasional laugh but frankly most of these characters behaved irritatingly and/or were not endearing to any great extent.

Watching this film I became just as bored as the characters appear to be in the film's poster.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Beauty and the Beast

Disney's latest iteration of the story of 'Beauty and the Beast' draws on the corporation's massive technical and financial resources to achieve a lush and lavish product.

The film contains some dark moments that I would have thought could frighten some children but this did not seem to be the case at the session I attended when the many children present remained attentive and engaged throughout.

The fuss from some USA sources at what has been described as a three seconds long gay reference mystifies me. Only the most obtuse of adults would fail to notice quite a number of gay references littered across the film. Not one of these came across as offensive to me.


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Popular Mechanicals

(Sydney Theatre Company)
'The Popular Mechanicals' takes Shakespeare's rude mechanicals characters from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and portrays them rehearsing for their performance. What ensues is a type of Shakespearean 'Play That Goes Wrong'.

There is plenty of visual, verbal and slapstick comedy and even a fart joke or two. You don't have to be familiar with the Shakespeare play to enjoy this but those who are will enjoy the insider jokes all the more. Or maybe not?

I thought this was a lot of simple fun.


Monday, 17 April 2017

Dance Academy

Based on the Australian-German co-production children's television series of the same name, 'Dance Academy', moves on from where the small screen series finished off by basically retelling the earlier themes. Aspiring dancers vie with one another and against obstacles to chase their dreams.

Everyone is photogenic and everything looks glossy in this world. Struggling students enjoy harbourside residences in Sydney and when they move to New York their every movement has centred in and around Times Square.

A lot of fantasy really but at least the film contains the lesson that not all dreams are realised.


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Sunny Cairns

A little bit of exploration along the Esplanade in Cairns.

Muddy's Playground and Public Pool

Seafood dining
On the Esplanade looking north back at Cairns

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Day tripper

While I planned this trip as one of relaxation rather than action I thought that I should spend at least one day of my long weekend in Cairns engaged in tourist activity. Examining the tourist material I found that most of the activity around these parts is just that. Activity.

So many options seemed to revolve around diving whether it be from the sky or under the water. That is not me. In the end I selected activity that involved a fair amount of sitting. That is much more me.

I selected the option of a trip by train. I think Andrew would approve. The Kuranda Scenic Railway was constructed between 1882 and 1891 and runs from Cairns through World Heritage listed parkland to Kuranda, 328 metres above sea level.

Google Maps told me the equivalent journey by car would take 38 minutes but on the train, with two short stops plus a number of very slow passes by scenic highlights, the journey took two hours (each way). Two diesel powered locomotives, painted as Aboriginal murals, tugged fifteen carriages, some nearly one hundred years old according to the commentary.

This is the train I travelled on. Going to Kuranda I was in Carriage No 15, the last carriage. This was the train as it managed the tightest bend on the route.

The train as viewed from carriage 15
There were rain showers about.

The view from Barron Gorge National Park. Cairns is somewhere in the distance
Kuranda Railway Station in the lush heritage park
The return journey
Whilst in Kuranda I explored the township, had a burger lunch and spent an hour on a modest river cruise.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Customer Service

There is customer service...and then there is customer service. (The sequence of three videos is revealing and shocking.)

But back to me.

During my flight to Cairns yesterday I was sent a text message. My hotel was looking forward to 'having me'. At this point of the message I wasn't sure if I was a menu item but I read on. 'Do (I) drink coffee' the message asked, in which case they 'could organise a coffee machine for (my) room' if I liked. I don't much and I didn't. Still, it was a nice thought.

Three hours later and within an hour of having checked into the hotel I received a second text message. I was welcomed and thanked for staying at the hotel. 'Can we do anything for you at this point', the message asked. An hour into my stay I wasn't in need of anything which, I suppose, was a promising sign.

Fast forward to day two and almost to the minute of twenty-four hours since checkin I received a third text message. 'Just checking' it began breezily. 'How is (my) stay going so far' the message enquired. The message continued rather jollily 'feel free to reply back with a 1-10'. I wasn't intending to reply but in case of doubt the message added '10 being excellent'. Either way the message concluded 'Have a great day'.

It seems churlish to suggest irritation with these messages; three of them in twenty-seven hours. Will they continue at this rate until I succumb with a reply? I could be polite and just send a reply acknowledging my satisfaction but could that encourage a further stream of enquiring messages?


Oh, the irony. At this moment, when I was about to 'top and tail' this item for posting, my internet connection stalled for around twenty minutes. Eventually it dawned on me that the hotel required me to re-apply for my complimentary WiFi access every twenty-four hours or so. I have now done so and can finalise this posting.

So, thank heavens my hotel is not run by United Airlines. If it were I might have found myself publicly dragged through the foyer following checkin 'gazumped' in favour of a freeloading customer with higher status than mine.

I should be glad for the service I have experienced so far, even with its wrinkles.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017


I have flown to Cairns for the Easter weekend. Well, part of that weekend anyway. Departure from Sydney this morning where there was heavy cloud cover and a coolness (around 18º, I think). The plane took off to the south and continued in a southerly direction for quite sometime despite Cairns being to the north.

Eventually we made a 180º turn and headed north passing back over Sydney. The clouds parted briefly to reveal our flight path over the southern suburbs of Sydney.

North of Sydney to south of Cairns we flew in total sunshine for two and a half hours only to fly back into heavy cloud as we neared our destination. In a mirror image of our departure we flew right over Cairns from south to the north, turning 180º and making our approach and landing towards the south.

As we neared our landing and peeked beneath clouds we flew over what I guessed - in complete ignorance - might be Palm Cove. See photo below. My trusty smart phone however placed the photograph at Trinity Beach.

Having settled into my hotel I had a brief wander around town to get some bearings. I passed the following cafe which I simply have to record for posterity but more particularly for the information of James. Regular visitors to his blog will understand the reference.

My intention is to regard my stay in Cairns as a recreation weekend rather than an action weekend. I may have nothing further to report from here. But you never know.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017


(Sydney Theatre Company)

The play 'Talk' seems an ideal play for Sydney which appears to have the reputation as the shock jock talk radio capital of the nation.

A high rating talk radio announcer is facing arrest for revealing details not presented to the jury in a child molestation case. His resistance catches the attention of citizens whose feelings he cleverly manipulates as well as that of competing media organisations.

Local readers may well think this all sounds rather close to the bone of some extremely high profile situations in recent years involving an Australian media personality with pretensions to a Parliamentary career. If so, I couldn't possibly confirm that suggestion.

It is a rather ambitious work bringing together the invasive and subjective elements of 21st Century social media practices with recollections of a now distant past of professional ethical journalism. As a consequence I thought some of the references went over the heads of younger members of the audience. At the same time, some of the more modern references seemed stereotypical.

The staging is especially impressive with the stage split into sections. There are two levels. The bottom level represents an ageing public broadcaster news room on one side with a swishly furnished newspaper editorial suite on the other side. Above both these settings sits a modern high tech commercial radio studio. Lighting and sound design cleverly focus the audiences' attention on the flow of action. The staging arguably is the strongest aspect of the work.


Monday, 10 April 2017


(Darlinghurst Theatre Company)

The play  'Hysteria' imagines a meeting in London in 1938 between Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dali at a time when a stranger has sought a consultation with Freud which raises memories of a case of his from the past.

This curious work for the most part seems to play out as psychological thriller/mystery but for reasons which possibly even a Freud couldn't explain it lurches mid Act 1 into a farce only to jump out as abruptly and inexplicably as it arose.

The acting is quite solid and the staging has some interesting moments.


Wednesday, 5 April 2017


The title 'Loving' is ironic as it is the family name of the interracial couple whose marriage and cohabitation led to the historic 1967 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that the law of the State of Virginia forbidding marriage between people of different races was unconstitutional. As a consequence similar laws in other States of the Union were voided.

The telling of their story in this film was not what I expected. There were no fiery scenes of antagonism against the relationship and no grand courtroom scenes. Indeed, despite the subject, the film is peculiarly lacking in drama adopting the reticence and quiet strength and determination of its principle character.

In perhaps an intended irony the film is mostly a depiction of a loving couple whose love for each other was stronger than institutional opposition.