Saturday, March 18, 2017

The TV Show Questions

I am supposed to be studying. But no. one tute paper is in, the other is looking at me funny, so I'm giving up for the night and doing my questions.

Questions, as always, come from Sunday Stealing.


1. Name a TV show series in which you have seen every episode at least twice:

There are quire a few of these, including:


  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • The West Wing
  • Six Feet Under
  • Outlander
  • The Affair (though I still haven't seen the Third Season)
  • The Hour (Love English drama)
  • The Dr Blake Mysteries

2. Name a show you can't miss:

Currently, I'm a little into Married at First Sight. It's train wreck telly, but I love it.

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to watch a show:

I do love Mary Louise Parker. Also having love Quantam Leap all those years ago, I rather like Scott Bakula. Dominic West and Romola Garai are great too.

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to watch a show:

I don't get Will Ferrell. I he were on telly I'd turn it off.

5. Name a show you can, and do, quote from:

The Young Ones. Ra ra ra, we're going to smash the oiks. I still quote The Young Ones.



6. Name a show you like that no one else enjoys:

I get a lost of stick for watching really bad reality television - like Bondi Ink, Ink Master Embarrassing Bodies and Random Breath Testing. I have truly dreadful taste in bad telly. I do love a good/bad tattoo show.

7. Name a TV show which you've been known to sing the theme song:

The Addams Family and the Muppets.



8. Name a show you would recommend everyone to watch:

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • The West Wing
  • Six Feet Under
  • Outlander
  • The Affair 
  • The Hour
  • The Dr Blake Mysteries
9. Name a TV series you own:
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • The West Wing
  • Six Feet Under
  • Outlander
  • The Affair (though I still haven't seen the Third Season)
  • The Hour 
  • The Dr Blake Mysteries
10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium, but has surprised you with his/her acting chops in television:

Kylie Minogue can act when she puts her mind to it. So can Snoop Dogg.

11. What is your favorite episode of your favorite series?

Other than the Outlander episodes with all the gratuitous sex. Probably an episode of Frasier called "Moondance". It's delicious.



12. Name a show you keep meaning to watch, but you just haven't gotten around to yet:

With the advent of streaming, there are a lot of them out there - but I would like to see This is Us - have heard good things about it. As I love Paul Giamatti, I'd also like to see Billions. And The Gilmour Girls. (I know of it but have never seen it all)

13. Ever quit watching a show because it was so bad?

Ummm, other than Game of Thrones, because it is too violent - I used to love Grey's Anatomy. That jumped the shark a while ago

14. Name a show that's made you cry multiple times:
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Six Feet Under
  • The Hour  (NOOOOOO, Freddie!)
I'm also not allowed to watch animal shows as they make me cry. I just have to hear the Lassie theme and I dissolve into tears.

15. What do you eat when you watch TV?

Dinner. And sometimes icy poles as I am off ice cream for Lent.

16. How often do you watch TV?

Daily. Well it is on in the background most of the time.

17. What's the last TV show you watched?

I watched When We Rise this evening.

18. What's your favorite/preferred genre of TV?

Good drama or comedy - and thrown in some dodgy tattoo shows for good measure.

19. What was the first TV show you were obsessed with?

I used to LOVE Santa Barbara. But my mother will tell me that as a kid, our home grown music show Countdown was a must see, much to her chagrin.



20. What TV show do you wish you never watched?

I don't have regrets like that, but I do advise everybody not to watch Antiques Roadshow under the influence of strange tobacco. It's hysterical.

I actively change the channel when "The Footy Show" is on on a Thursday night. That should be driven off the telly.

21. What's the weirdest show you enjoyed?

Probably Six Feet Under. Who enjoys a show about a family of undertakers, with a death at the start of each episode?



22. What TV show scared you the most?

Any episode of Q&A with any dreadful right wing politician being buoyed by a Murdoch stooge is dreadfully scary.

The news scares me a lot too.

23. What is the funniest TV show you have ever watched?

Hands down, Fawlty Towers. 30 years on and it still has me laughing.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Movie Review: Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones: 3 Stars

I write this with a bit of a heavy heart. See, we did Craig Silvey's "Jasper Jones" in book group a couple of years ago and it was one of the highlights of the year. It's a young adult book which looks at themes of country towns, outcasts, racism, family violence and growing up. It's a fantastic book.

Then last year, the Melbourne Theatre Company put on "Jasper Jones" as a play - and did a fantastic job of it. Atmospheric and edgy, it caught these themes of he book very well indeed.

In Rachel Perkin's film of Jasper Jones, I came away both disappointed and a little bemused. How could they take my most wonderful book and play and sanitise it with the vengeance of a bleach bath. This was not my Jasper Jones. This was pretty much Jasper Jones for 12-year-olds - which is what I think the director and the screenwriters might have been aiming at.

Okay, the story in brief. Misfit, Charlie Bucktin, is woken in the middle of the night by Jasper Jones, a half-aboriginal youth, who is the town scapegoat and tearaw. Jasper needs Charlie's help - something that Charlie could never envisage. Going with Jasper, they walk to a nearby billabong where they find a local girl hanging from a tree. Jasper and Charlie, after some discussion, place the weighted body of the girl in the billabong.

The next day, we find out that a girl is missing (said girl now at the bottom of the billabong) and the town is on high alert. The town of Corrigan, just out of Perth, is in a state of disarray.

Add to this, Charlie's parents marriage is in its death throws, there is a mad old hermit who half-terrorises the neighbourhood and the dead girl's sister has a bit of a thing for Charlie. Oh, and this is set in 1969, so add to this a Chinese / Vietnamese family into the mix with all the Vietnam War tensions.

Yeah, there should be a lot of tension.

Well, sort of. They've turned my wonderful and edgy book into a coming of age movie. This is not the worst thing in the world, but it's not the same as the book.

Levi Miller plays Charlie - and he is excellent. Aaron McGrath is similarly great as the misunderstood Jasper. Angourie Rice makes a very fetching Eliza, sister to the dead girl. Hugo Weaving is also great as Mad Jack - a pivotal role in the book which misses the mark despite the great performance. Dan Wyllie and Toni Collette are very credible as Charlie's parents.

And somebody who I loved more in the film, than in the play, Kevin Long was great as Jeffrey Lu, a 13-year-old Vietnamese cricket tragic and Charlie's mate. They got him right. He also provides some light relieve among the darker themes.

But this films falls short of the mark. The tension is not there. It feels more like  a coming of age story than the edgy social commentary which is provided so well by the book. They only touch lightly on the racism that is set towards Jasper and the Lu family. The family violence theme is only lightly handled. The sense of being an outcast isn't as pronounced as it could be. At the end of the film, you feel this is more a film about Charlie and his journey to becoming a man and falling love, where Jasper's role is played down. How Mad Jack and Jasper play out is also not shown, which is more the pity. There is a lot of the small town dynamics which could have been handled better.

There are some terrific lines and scenes in the film, as well as a number of great laugh out loud moments. (What would you rather, a hat made of spiders or have penises for fingers?). Also, the town of Manjimup, playing Corrigan, is perfect in it's role as every country town in the Australia in the late sixties. The soundscape, the caw of the magpies and the hum of V8 engines is fantastic.

But this misses the mark.

With the themes of suicide so prevalent, I wouldn't be taking anybody under the age of twelve to this (Saying this, the once scene is brief and very well handled), but this is a film for young adults, sanitised to the point of the Australian Public Service Political Correctness with an injection of fairy floss.

I did enjoy the film. I just reckon that this could have been a lot better given a bit of courage from the director and screenwriters.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Movie Review: Saint Joan

Saint Joan: 4.5 Stars

A free afternoon in another city. Seen everything in the movies that I want to see. What do I do? Go to the Arthouse cinema and hunt out a film which is showing a play which has recently been on the London Stage. George Bernard Shaw - how wrong can you get?

I love Gemma Arterton, I have done ever since she was in "Tamara Drewe". The timings would mean I could get to the airport with time to kill. Why not?

This was a great decision.

The National Theatre in London has a number of spaces. The Donmar Warehouse is their theatre in the round space. The stage goes back four rows - it's tiny. And in this space, this band of players puts on George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan". Written and first performed in 1923, the play has a timelessness which is both unsettling and uncanny.

I won't go into the story of Joan of Arc - it's a well known story - and the play / film takes this on board. Why labour a story you already know. What the play does well is move this to modern times.

Director Josie Rourke has taken Joan from the farms of the East of France to a modern boardroom, giving this production extra clout. Adding to this an element of the 24-hour news cycle, social media and the BBC Newsnight and you have a thought provoking and timely production of this Trump era.

I loved this production. Not being able to go to London to take this in, the film version is a great  - brilliantly filmed and very, topical. With a  cast of "Oh, yeahs" (Those English actors whose faces you know, but you can't name them) Gemma Arterton carries off the lead role of Joan with ease - from the fervent farm girl, to the soldier, to the Christian martyr, betrayed by everybody and left to her fate at the stake.

What takes this play to the next level is the setting. All of the action takes place on a revolving stage around a board room table. All of the men in the play are dressed in modern day suits - sharp, corporate suits. Joan is left to her peasant, soldier and prisoner clothes. This juxtaposition is stark and telling. What is most disturbing, from the modern angle, is how Joan, once her mission is completed , is thrown out with the trash. In this corporate setting, the message could not be more unsettling or clearer.

Gemma Arterton steals this production. Eminently watchable, she's a force of nature, channeling Joans fervour and resolve. The "Oh, yeahs" do a great job too, though with the exception of Niall Buggy (you will go, "Oh, yeah" when you google him) most relatively unknown, but excellent  jobbing English stage actors all the same - you will have seen a few of them on Midsummer Murders. My favourite kind of actor.

Look out for this film of this play. It's great.

I'm looking forward to the National's season which will be filmed and shown in arthouse theatres around Australia in the coming months. It's a way of making the London Theatre accessible. I wish it happened more.




Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Eight/Ten Questions

Sitting in a hotel room waiting for the university server to come up so I can post my tutorial paper, listening to the post mortem of the Western Australian election (smile, Hanson did badly. Most excellent)

Interesting batch of questions this week. Lots of monosyllabic answers will abound. Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

TEN TO START:

1. Are you single? Yes.

2. Are you happy? Yes.

3. Are you bored?  No. Too much to do.

4. Are you naked? Under the bathrobe.

5. Are you a blonde? No.

6. Are you moody? Sometimes. I am a woman it is my god-given right to be moody now and then.

7. Are you a lover/hater? Lover.

8. Are you hot/cold? Always hot. Joys of peri-menopause.

9. Are you Irish? No. A funny mix of Cornish, Welsh, English and Scottish.

10. Are you Asian? No - although I live on Australasia and love noodles.

TEN FACTS:

1. Name: Pandora

2. Nickname: Panda

3. Birth mark: A chocolate stain on my right calf.

4. Hair color: Currently chocolate brown with a bit of red.

5. Natural hair color: I have no idea what my real hair colour might be - I suspect a lightly greying brown.

6. Eye color: Dark green/grey

7. Height: Five foot six or 166 cms

8. Facebook Mood: No idea what this means.

9. Favorite color: Pillar box red

10. One Place to Visit: I really want to go to Angkor Wat.

TEN THINGS ABOUT YOUR LOVE LIFE.

1. Do you believe in love at first sight?  Not sure.

2. Do you believe in soul mates? Unfortunately.

4. Have you ever been hurt emotionally? Hell, yes.

5. Have you ever broken someone’s heart?  Not sure. Maybe.

6. Have you ever been cheated on?  Yes.

7. Have you ever liked someone and not told them? Yes. I am a girl who was one a teenager.

8. Are you afraid of commitment?  Yes.

9. Who was the last person you hugged? Him. (That is all I'm staying)

10. Who was the last person you kissed? Him. (Not divulging)

TEN THIS OR THAT.

1. Love or lust? Love.

3. Cats or dogs?  Both - but cats are easier as they are more independent.

4. A few best friends or many regular friends?  A bit of both  - a few close friends is all I need.

5. Television or internet?  Television.

6. Chinese Or Indian? Depends on the day.

7. Wild night out or romantic night in?  Romantic night in.

8. Money or Happiness?  Happiness, but money does make happiness slightly easier to attain.

9. Night or day? Day.

10. Skype or phone? Skype. Cheaper.

TEN HAVE YOU EVER.

1. Been caught sneaking out? No.

2. Been skinny dipping? Yes.

3. Stolen? Yes.

4. Bungee jumped? No.

5. Lied to someone you liked? Yes.

6. Finished an entire jaw breaker?  ?? American thing - no idea.

7. Cheated on a lover (yes kissing counts...)? Yes.

8. Wanted an ex bf/gf back? No.

9. Cried because you lost a pet?  Yes.

10. Wanted to disappear? Yes.

TEN PREFERENCES IN A PARTNER.

1.   Smile or eyes? Smile.

2. Light or dark hair? Dark hair.

3. Hugs or kisses? Both.

4. Shorter or taller? Taller.

5. Intelligence or attraction? I'm attracted to intelligence.

6. Romantic or spontaneous? Romantic. Though spontaneous is fun.

7. Funny or serious? Bit of both.

8. Older or Younger? Older.

9. Outgoing or quiet? Quiet.

10. Sweet or Bad Ass? Sweet.

TEN HAVE YOU’S.

1. Ever performed in front of a large crowd?  No. But public speaking doesn't phase me too much.

2. Ever done drugs? Yes, but only on a very limited and social way many years ago. Can count these times on my hands.

3. Ever been pregnant? Yes. But we don't talk about that.

5. Ever been on a cheer leading team? Not American, so no.

6. Ever Been on a dance team? No.

7. Ever been on a sports team?  No.

8. Ever been in a drama play/production?  Yes.

9. Ever owned a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Escalade, Hummer or Bentley? No. I own far less ostentatious cars.

10. Ever been in a rap video? Why would I be in a rap video? No.


TEN LASTS.

1. Last phone call you made: I called a Masonic friend after she had a car accident on Wednesday.

2. Last person you hung out with: Him.

3. Last person you flirted with: I don't flirt.

4. Last time you worked: Friday.

5. Last person you tackled:  ?? I tackle people on their beliefs all the time.

6. Last person you IM’d: My mate Damo - the university site is down.

8. Last person(s) you went to the movies with:  I went with Jonella and Spiro to see Hidden Figures last weekend.

9. Last thing you missed:  I've given up ice cream for Lent. I miss ice cream.

10. Last time you did the nasty: Yesterday.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Questions of Age Meme

Oh this should be fun. I'm feeling a bit delicate after The Pixies concert last night. There is something quite cathartic about having a couple of thousand middle aged people screaming along to "Debaser". It makes me very happy indeed.


Questions are from Sunday Stealing.

1. By a certain age, women should 

... do as she effing well chooses. Just be nice to others, kids and animals and take responsibility for themselves.

2. By a certain age men, should 

...do as he effing well chooses. Just be nice to others, kids and animals and take responsibility for themselves.

3. When I was young I thought by now I would 

... be dead.

4. Now that I am older I wish 

... I got therapy earlier.

5. You know that you are too old to do an activity when 

... you are either dead or in a wheelchair and they don't have ramps. (ie F*ck limiting yourself- bollox to that.

6. You know you are too young to do an activity when 

... okay, you should have some rationality. If you can't see the consequences, doing things aren't good. This is why they wait until you're about 18 to get a driver's licence and drink.

7. When I was in high school I listened to the music of 

... oh hell. Phil Collins, Billy Joel,The Police. The Rolling Stones, Hoodoo Gurus,  INXS - to name a few.

8. When I was in college (or the next four years after high school) I listened to the music of

...THE PIXIES!!!




9. These days, at my age I find myself listening music of...

Tash Sultana, THE PIXIES, Chet Faker, Damien Rice, ALT-J to name a few.



10. For my last birthday I ...

Went out a lot for about a week.

11. On my next birthday I want to 

... go to Toyko and have a look around a new place.

12. The best birthday present I ever got was

... a Pandora bracelet. Love that bracelet.

13. The first time I felt that I was an adult was when 

... I moved to London and worked out I was on my own.

14. The last time I felt like I was still a kid was when

... last night at The Pixies concert, going off like I was 18 years old.

15. I would sum up 2016 by saying

... it was pretty shit for the world at large.

16. I hope I will sum up 2017 by saying in December

... that Donald Trump and the Liberal Party have been kicked out.

17. So far in terms of age, I feel my first big milestone was

...Actually turning 40. That was a while ago now.

18. As I look forward to the rest of my life’s journey, I feel my biggest milestone of my life will be

... getting a book published. I really want to do that.

19. By the time I was the age I am now I am surprised that I haven’t yet

... died or got married or owned a house, Oh well to the second two. I'm glad I haven't died.

20. By the time I am 65, I hope that I have ...

Published a book, own a house and maybe even got married. You never know.

Have some more Pixies. I have a movie to go see and a paper to submit. Enjoy Black Francis back when he had hair and didn't look like Uncle Fester.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures: 4 Stars

Being a woman in the work force, I do get the joys of what it is to be very occasionally seen as a second class citizen. It's very occasional and to be blunt, bloody annoying when it happens. Mind you, as a Caucasian in a very inclusive workplace, sexism and racism, though present in a very, very minor way, is not something I have to think about daily. I still get 'man-splained' to every now and then - and it's very annoying and completely diminished the man who things that "your pretty little head can't take in these big facts", but you roll your eyes, make a note of the jerk and see if you can circumvent him, and get on with things.

Hidden Figures portrays some phenomenal women doing an amazing job under some of the worst of circumstances and is based on real life events.

In the late 1960's the state of Virginia in the United States was segregated. African Americans were very much second class citizens, although thankfully, the Civil Rights movement was well underway to ensuring changes were made.

Hidden from view were the women who worked at NASA in computing and computational roles. Katherine Johnson, one of the Maths legends of our time, Dorothy Vaughn, a computer scientist, and Mary Jackson, a woman with the mind of an engineer all work in important, yet overlooked roles on the space program.


This movie follows their journey towards equality, not just in the workplace, but in their worlds at large.


The movie is inspirational.What really inspires is Katherine, Mary and Dorothy's refusal to give up, to work within the bounds provided and then get on with things.

What really irritates the modern viewer is the sensibilities of the white folk as they continue to denigrate these amazing women.

What effected me most of all is in working for the Space Program, doing specialised work, they were still discriminated against for the colour of their skin. It left me shaking my head, and feeling very thankful that I haven't had to work in such an environment.  

Themes of racism, civil rights, equal opportunity abound in this very watchable, very interesting film. What is most inspiring is how these women overcome these obstacles with grace. I found myself cheering when Katherine (Taraji P Henson) forcefully explained to her boss (Kevin Costner) that she had to walk half a mile to go to the coloured women's bathroom - and gave the rest of the team a serve seeing she was doing the work of ten men.  When Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) sadly looked at her boss and explained, "You might not believe you're racist, but the truth is different." was a watershed moment. When Mary (Janelle Monae) hit a nerve with the judge hearing her case to attend classes at a segregated school, you had to give her a fist pump.

Hidden Figures is an enjoyable, understandable look at coloured women in a white man's word. Though lacking the emotional punch of movies such as "Moonlight" and "Manchester on the Sea", its well worth a look, if, for anything, to see how far the world has thankfully come in the last fifty years.





Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Movie Review: Trainspotting 2

Trainspotting 2:  Four Stars

On hearing that there was going to be a Trainspotting 2, my first question to myself was "How the hell are the characters all still alive to make a movie?"

See, I was living in London when the first iteration of Trainspotting came out. I remember reading the book on a train bound for Brighton and nearly throwing up at the 'Worst Toilet in Scotland" scene. Having a good friend from Aberdeen, I somewhat got the accent."Trainspotting" is a part of my twenties.

Now in my forties, T2: Trainspotting has come out - and it's going to be a part of my life for ever more. I enjoyed it. My friend, who's 15 years younger than me and never really got the first one, enjoyed it too.

Catching this film late on a Friday night, I made the decision to watch the first film before seeing the movie. My friend wasn't going to get to mine until late, why not.

I'm glad I took a new look at the first one before seeing the second. Looking at Trainspotting and its new incarnation, as well as living in the heroin centre of Melbourne, I got to see these films in a very different light.

I do think that you probably need half a knowledge about the first film to get the best out if it. Knowing the characters as there former selves makes this film far easier to understand, although there are a lot of flashbacks which help viewers get the point.

The movie picks up 20-odd years after Mark 'Rent-Boy' Renton is seen walking across London Bridge with a bag full of money into a potentially drug free unknown.

Essentially. T2 shows you what has happened to the crew. Renton (Ewan McGregor) has been living in Amsterdam, married and drug free. Simon "Sick-boy" (Jonny Lee Millar) is running his aunt's old pub in a run down part of town. Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle), not surprisingly, is in prison. And then there's Spud (Ewan Bremner). I'll get back to him. Oh yes, and of course, Tommy (Kevin McKidd) didn't come back either, but he died in the first movie from toxoplasmosis.

The plot, which is a little thin on the ground, takes up when Renton comes back to Edinburgh on the death of his mother. He has not been back in this time. He's not been in contact with his hapless friends who he left cashless and sleeping in a hotel room all those years ago.

And all hell breaks loose. What follows is a very entertaining two hours of a caper movie which reminisces about friendships lost and found and just how your choices can impact upon your world at large.

There are a lot of laugh out loud moments along with quite a few gross out moments  - for how could the writers not go for another few toilet scenes. There's also some very identifiable moments of middle age, because ostensibly, this is a film about middle aged men. They're not putting any gloss on that, thank goodness.

For me, the film was made by Ewan Bremner's brilliant performance as Spud. In the first film, he was the loser mate, not good for much at all, a bit of a non-entity compared to the exuberance of Sick-Boy, Renton's witty repartee and Begbie's barely contained violence. Now, in his mid-forties, still addicted to heroin, unemployed, miserable and just plain sad, Bremner's nuanced performance is captivating. During the two hours of the movie, we watch as he tries to clean up his life. It's as poignant as it is harrowing. I'd like to see the film again for this performance alone.

This film won't be everybody's hit of smack. The humour is black and vicious. The script tight and funny (particularly the new take on the 'Choose Life" speech". The soundtrack is not far from the brilliance of the first film (Iggy Pop still features - and surprisingly, he's still alive too)

It was great to see cameos by Kelly McDonald and Shirley Henderson. The gross out moments are pretty gross - and there are some very funny, very unexpected scenes that show Scottish live at its best and worst.

I loved it, but I know I am biased.



And this has to come too: