Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Climate Control

Award winning climate controlled tower building on Broadway in Sydney

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

New and old

The old Brewery entrance is all that has been retained at this 21st Century tower precinct

Monday, 29 January 2018

R&R for the Flying Kangaroo

A Qantas A380 being towed to a hangar at Sydney Airport for a little R&R - or maintenance? - before its next flight

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Swinging Safari

'Swinging Safari' takes us back to a beachside Central Coast Australian town in the 1970s. Three families living in a cul-de-sac are enjoying their Australian summer, spent around the beach and their backyards and, in the case of the parents, in their sunken lounge rooms eating Fondues and wildly entering into the fad of their time; swapping partners.

The film is to be congratulated for featuring either by mention or appearance countless curiosities from those days which are now a distant memory; if remembered at all. On the negative side the behaviour of almost every character takes the sense of uncouth and unsophisticated behaviour into (or should that be down to) a level scarcely imaginable; and for overseas viewers completely mystifying.

The Director, Stephan Elliott, has some history in this style of cinema having also directed 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' and 'Welcome to Woop Woop' but whereas characters behaving badly were nonetheless likeable in 'Priscilla' I cannot say the same for the characters in 'Safari'.


Friday, 26 January 2018

Oz time

Today is designated Australia Day. Whether you are happy to celebrate it as such or to mourn it as Invasion Day and whether or not you prefer to mark a different date and event I hope that local readers feel that they can still take a moment to thank our stars that we live in a 'lucky' country. I know that I do.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

I, Tonya

In the lead up to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway two young American figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were competing for places in the USA team and for the affections of the public and fans who for the most part heavily favoured Kerrigan. Famously, Kerrigan was the victim of a vicious assault that threatened her participation at the Games and the incident became a world wide fascination when it emerged that the perpetrators were linked to the Harding camp.

'I, Tonya' recreates the events leading up to and following 'the incident'. The film relates the disturbing life of dysfunction and violence that Harding (Margot Robbie) suffered from childhood to adulthood from her mother (Allison Janney) and her boyfriend/husband.

Robbie and Janney are both excellent and well deserving Academy Award nominees for their performances.

A sometimes shocking, dark humoured drama. Stay for the end credits which include complementary actual documentary footage.


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The Teacher (Ucitelka)

Mrs Drazdechova is the new teacher at a Bratislava school. It is 1983, the country is yet to become the independent Slovakia and is still known as Czechoslovakia and the Communists are still in power.  'The Teacher' has a curious practice for familiarising herself with her new pupils. She calls their names one by one and gets them to stand and explain their parents' occupations. It soon becomes evident that this teacher uses the information to manipulate personal favours; something difficult for the parents to resist given that this teacher is also the Communist Party secretary for the school.

'The Teacher' has a rather drab, low key, design reflecting the drab, struggling lifestyles of the era. It is an interesting curiosity about the perils and corruptive influences of minor officialdom.


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The world has been decimated by a plague so powerful that not only are victims turning into zombie-like creatures but entire cities have been destroyed as if from nuclear action. The lucky few untouched by the plague, a powerful group known as WCKD, is rounding up youthful untouched people in a desperate attempt to test them for a cure. Another youthful group of rebels is working to release these intended test subjects with a particular focus on one man for reasons - if they were explained in 'Maze Runner: The Death Cure' - are unknown to me.

The film opens with high action and little explanation of the overall background for those who haven't seen the earlier films in the series; or if like me they have seen them but cannot recall the details. The youthful heroes battle seemingly insurmountable challenges revealing an uncanny knack to find themselves randomly in exactly the right position to effect improbable ambushes and rescues.

It is all gung ho apart from the occasional, frankly dull and overlong, preachy bromance and romance moments. Indeed the movie is at least 40 minutes longer than it needs be to impart what is essentially an action thriller for teens and young adults.


Sunday, 21 January 2018


I suppose it is the same the world over. Politicians look after themselves and the hoi polloi can figuratively go jump.

The USA has entered 'a shutdown'. Non essential Federal employees will be without pay until Congress reaches agreement on a funding bill currently the subject of dispute. News reports indicate that the military (or sections of it) are amongst tens of thousands who face a parlous financial situation. But not the Politicians. Members of Congress continue to be paid.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Till photograph do us part....

There is this interesting little industry in Sydney - and perhaps elsewhere - catering for youngish couples travelling from Japan and China to be photographed in front of our scenic locations dressed in their wedding 'clobber'. No wedding attendants in attendance, no wedding party in attendance, no guests in attendance and no witnesses in attendance. Just the couple, the photographer and the photographer's assistant. And this takes place before the wedding.

The Sydney Opera House is a popular background as is the Archibald Fountain in Sydney's Hyde Park.

Locals go about their business, mostly oblivious to the matrimonial performance.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Moments from #RiotTheShow

Inside the Spiegeltent

Ms Panty Bliss

Balloon legs

The athletic stripper

Man and friend

Audience participation

Lit by smartphone

Ms Panty Bliss; down and personal

That's all folks

Thursday, 18 January 2018


'Riot' is a performance at this year's Sydney Festival. This is an Irish troupe of eleven front house performers and presumably numerous behind scenes technical support. It is a variety show ranging from lewd suggestiveness to political and inspirational messages. They are singers, dancers, gymnasts, drag artists and rappers.

There is a little bit of something for almost everyone (as long as you are an adult). I found the preachiness of some of the elements disruptive to the tempo of the rest of the show but otherwise enjoyed the show.


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Post

'The Post' is set around the disclosure of the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s when first The New York Times and then the Washington Post newspapers published papers leaked by a military analyst revealed years of deceit by successive US Administrations over the progress and handling of the Vietnam War.

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are reliable as ever as the Post's Publisher and Editor respectively. An interesting reminder of events which led indirectly and eventually to the impeachment of a President.


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Darkest Hour

In May 1940, the British parliament is in turmoil. The Opposition Labor Party is demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Chamberlain before joining with the Conservatives in a War Cabinet to deal with menace posed by the German Chancellor Hitler. Winston Churchill is called upon to take over as Prime Minister.

'Darkest Hour' focuses on that month and the tensions between the Hawkish Churchill and those Establishment identities who prefer to sue for peace. The film is an opportunity for an Actors' masterclass with Gary Oldman magnificent as Churchill amongst a powerful British cast. One Aussie, Ben Mendelsohn, matches the film's standard in the key role of King George VI.


Monday, 15 January 2018

What's in a name?

My friend H has a new puppy; a groodle which is a mix of golden retriever and poodle.

I think she looks cute. The puppy's name is Maili. You have a choice regarding the meaning of the name depending on which origin you prefer. There are Irish, Polynesian and Hebrew origins. From Polynesian roots the meaning is gentle breeze. From Hebrew the meaning is sea of bitterness or rebelliousness. From Gaelic the meaning is pearl. The name is a variant of both Molly and Mary.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Greatest Showman

'The Greatest Showman' is a musical which chronicles the life of P T Barnum who rose from childhood poverty to international renown as a Circus promoter.

The story is presented in Baz Luhrmann style without matching Baz's levels of excess. The songs are by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the duo behind La La Land and in my opinion they are a great improvement over the earlier work.

The plot gallops along from one musical number to the next by performers who for the most part are competent singers and dancers but there is not much attention to developing their characters. Like Barnum's product itself 'The Greatest Showman' is a confection packed with oddities and beauties. If you don't like this scene, just wait because another one will replace it momentarily.

Definitely better than the over-hyped 'La La Land'.


Friday, 12 January 2018

No words

Isn't this a lovely looking family?

I don't know the family. I never met them. The day after this photo was taken they were driving on one of our roads. It was Boxing Day. It was also the last drive that three of them would ever take and almost certainly also the last drive of the fourth family member. The family was involved in a car crash.

Funerals of the three family members shown left to right in the photo were held yesterday. The life support for the woman on the right was turned off this morning.

The driver of the other car, it is said was returning from receiving methadone treatment. It is also reported that the other driver had more than 60 convictions, including at least 10 convictions for driving while disqualified and allegedly had been subject to a nine-year driving ban.

I should stress that I do not know the circumstances of the collision; in particular whether blame for the collision can be, or will be, attributed to either driver.

The other driver also died in the collision.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Mildred (Frances McDormand), wearied by seven months of apparent inaction over the murder of her daughter buys advertising on three billboards to bring to public notice the failure of the Police to identify a suspect. Her action brings Mildred into conflict with Police Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and his offsider Dixon (Sam Rockwell).

Ostensibly from the outset a whodunnit, 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' is in reality a depiction of relationships and self discovery. The drama and occasional violence are balanced by unexpected moments of humour and irony.

The performances are magnificent.


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

All the Money In the World

'All the Money in the World' is based on events when the grandson of Billionaire J Paul Getty was kidnapped for ransom in Italy in 1973. This is the film which achieved pre-release notoriety because twenty-two scenes had to be re-shot in ten days when Christopher Plummer was brought in to replace the disgraced Kevin Spacey in the Billionaire's role.

Although the kidnapping and extortion demands were real occurrences, the dramatisation of the events is fictionalised in the film.

Historical inaccuracies aside, this is a terrific film which is increasingly gripping as it progresses. The performances especially by Plummer and by (Michelle Williams) as the kidnapped teenager's mother are excellent. Even the usually light-weight Mark Wahlberg makes an impression.


Monday, 8 January 2018

Just to be Sure (Ôtez-moi d'un doute)

When the widowed Erwan (Francois Damiens) accompanies his daughter to her pre-natal check up he learns that blood tests show that the man who raised him is not his biological father. He engages a Private Investigator to track down his biological father and at the same time meets the intriguing Dr Levkine (Cecile De France).

'Just to be Sure' is a charming light-hearted drama of manners and relationships.


Sunday, 7 January 2018

Li Cun Xin

Li Cun Xin is better known as Mao's Last Dancer whose life and achievements in Ballet are the subjects of an exhibition in Brisbane.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Friday, 5 January 2018


Still in Brisbane for the Brisbane International. Attended the evening session tonight. This match a men's singles between Gregor Dimitrov (number 3 in the world from Bulgaria) and Kyle Edmund (number 50 in the world from Britain).

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Love all

In Brisbane for the Brisbane International tennis tournament. Attended the day session today. The first match was a womens single quarter final between two names unknown to us.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Welcoming in the new year

The Sydney fireworks display for this New Year's Eve was not blessed with the best weather conditions. Smoke from the various fire works sites eventually covered much of the display on and over the Harbour Bridge. Here is the start of the display.