Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Cool Guy Questions

I'm trying to stay away from the news at the moment as it's all to grim. God bless America is all I can say.

Anyway, questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1.) When was the first time you ever swore or said something profane?

I was probably around five years old. And I probably got a smack with the wooden spoon for it.

2.) Have you ever had unrequited feelings for someone?/Have you ever been friendzoned?

Of course. I thought that was love for the first thirty years of my life.

3.) What's a false assumption a lot of people have about you?

That I'm busy on a Saturday night. Normally I'm not.

4.) Have you ever questioned your sexuality?

To a point. I see myself as 90% heterosexual, but would not be dumbfounded if a woman came into my life. Generally, I see sexuality as fluid - but for the most part, I'm attracted to men. This is not to say that there have been times when I've been attracted to women. I'm human. It's cool.

5.) If you could bring one person back from the dead, who would it be and why?

I have a friend who died at 32. It was very sudden. He was in a pub after a football match with a pint in his hand when his aorta burst. He had so much potential. Such a pity. If my niece could be restored to life pre-leukaemia, maybe her - but I've come to accept her death.

6.) What did you do on December 12th last year?

I went to work and I think I had a mason's meeting in the evening.

7.) When was the last time you truthfully told someone you hated them?

I haven't. I strongly dislike, but I don't hate. Hatred is poison to your soul.

8.) What is your opinion on this song? What about this song?

What song? Okay here is a song that I got stuck in my head the other day. It's a dreadful song about a dad coming home to his child in the evening.(I didn't get the links when I copied this over, not that I could open the ones on Sunday Stealing's page)

9.) In less than four sentences, describe the entire plot of the last book you read.

"A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara

Over 720 pages follows the lives of four college friends as they negotiate life. The book centres around two characters, best friends, and one of these characters struggles to live after what can only be described as a horrific childhood.

This is an amazing book, but not for everybody, Parts are visceral in its descriptions of child abuse, rape and violence. Still, it's amazing and I'm glad I read it.

10.) Describe the appearance of the most untrustworthy person you can think of (they can be a person you've met or a made up person). Are they male or female or neither? What about their appearance makes them untrustworthy?

Orange, little hands, unruly comb-over. Scowl. Bad choice of ties. Double breasted suits. (I think you know who I'm talking about)

11.) What is the most cringe-worthy thing you've ever seen?

Doesn't Trump's inauguration count? That was train wreck telly at its best.

12.) What is your biggest regret?

Not getting therapy earlier.

13.) Do you have any cousins? When was the last time you saw them?

I have fifteen of the buggers. I saw a couple late last year. I talk to some of them regularly. Other's I haven't seen since 1999. The ones I'm close to I see once a year or so, and facebook is good for keeping in touch.

14.) Describe the worst birthday you've ever had.

I was 20. I had two exams on the day, had the wing mirror on my car torn off and all of my friends forgot. It wasn't a fun one. My 21st wasn't that great either as I'd broken up with my boyfriend in the days before.

15.) When was the last time someone provoked you to the point of violence?

Most of Tony Abbott's Prime Ministership - I was not far from getting out the baseball bat.

16.) OH NOES!!!! Someone has gotten you to drink a truth potion and now you have to truthfully answer every question you are asked!!! What's the worst possible question someone could ask you?

How often do you get take out?

17.) Describe, in detail, your first serious relationship. Describe how it ended.

I was 16. He was 17. He had spots. He went off to work, I stayed at school. Died a natural death after a year.

18.) Introduce your best friend. Tell the story of how you met.

Blarney. She's Irish from County Kerry. We worked together 16 years ago.

19.) To the introduced friend, has our interviewee lied in any of these questions? Are you surprised by any of these answers?

No. that's it.

20.) To finish up, what is your biggest irrational fear and how did you get it?

I hate huntsmen spiders. Hate the fuckers. They won't hurt you or kill you like half the flora and fauna around here, but shit they are ugly - and big. Flame throwers get rid of them  quite well.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Movie Review: La La Land

Second Viewing:  4.5 Stars

First Viewing: 4 Stars

La La Land is a bit of an enigma,. A film about Los Angeles and those who live there. A film about what it is to be caught up in having a dream. A film which brings back the glamour and charm of Ye Olde Worlde Hollywood in a modern setting. It's one of those films which you wonder if it is going to be overhyped - too big for it's boots - one that you won't like because everybody says it's great (I'm thinking of Sin City here  - a film I walked out of... ergh-eww)

And it is a joy, once you get over the jolt of cynicism that you have going into this very hyped film, and once the Cinemascope colours settle into your eyes and initial headache dies down and once you realise that you're not watching a normal film.

It's not a normal film. It's a musical of the ilks of "Singing in the Rain" and "Pillow Talk" with a little bit of 'The Way We Were" thrown in for good measure, just set in modern times. It's quirky, it's fun. It's thought provoking. And most of all, it's magic.

Having seen this about a month ago, I was happy when a friend suggested this as a Friday night movie. Coming out of the film on New Year's Eve I remember enjoying it, but knowing I'd want to see it again to pick up the stuff that I know I'd inevitably missed. Something was missing for me on that first viewing - I couldn't put my finger on it.

The second time round, I let myself escape into this bubble of fun. I let go of trying to expect something and gave myself full permission to escape into the world of "La La Land". I wish I'd done that the first time around.

It's a film you're either going to love or hate. I'm erring on the side of loving it, with a couple of reservations.

The story is quite simple. An aspiring jazz pianist and an aspiring actress/barista meet and fall in love. Well, that is the crux of it.

Ryan Gosling is superb as Sebastian, the jazz pianist - moody, fairly obnoxious and rather driven. he learned the piano for this role, and does an incredible job. Oscar nomination, definitely. Oscar winner - maybe not. The great thing about his performance is it is nuanced - and you like him more as the film goes on.

Emma Stone is wonderful as Mia, the actress. The only thing that put me off her performance is her HUGE eyes - akin to those of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Her performance brings in elements of Audrey Hepburn and Debbie Reynolds. Her singing voice, though not overly strong, is perfect for the role (and she does sing in tune - so full marks for that).

The small roles played by Rosemary De Witt (ever the sensible sister), John Legend (super cool) and J.K.Simmons (Juno's Dad / J.J.Jameson from Spiderman) are great.

What this film does best, which is what surprised me in the first viewing, and allowed myself to accept in the second, is entertain without apology. From the first song and dance routine in the opening minutes of the film, to the scene at a party where Sebastian plays in an eighties band (the funniest bit of the film) to the "Sliding Doors" scenario at the end of the film, this is pure entertainment.

It also has some not so subtle digs at a lot of Hollywood norms.

On the second viewing, a couple of things still irked me - particularly as to why Mia was driving a Prius. It just didn't ring true.

The rest of the film, is just magic.

Some will call this self-indugent Hollywood claptrap. Some will criticise Stone and Gosling's singing and dancing - which I found perfectly charming. (The singing has an air of "Buffy the Musical" about it)

Me, I think it's just wonderful. In a world that's going to the dogs, it's great to see something happy, light, colourful and fun for a change.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Movie Review: Lion

Lion - four stars

I will preface this review by saying that I am not Nicole Kidman's greatest fan. She has her moments, but her inability to show emotion thanks  to large amounts of botox, for the most part leaves me cold. I don't mind Dev Patel. He was great in Slumdog Millionaire and The Man Who Knew Infinity, but he's also prone to over acting in some cases (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel anyone...?) So I went into this movie with a bit of trepidation. I also paid full price for a ticket - so I've bought my right to moan.

However, the presence of the facially frozen one and the over-actor was not enough to put me off seeing this film. I'm glad it wasn't. It's one of the best films I've seen in the last six months.

Lion is based on a true story, that of Saroo Brierley, now a Tasmanian surfer dude from a nice family in Hobart. Saroo's story is not run of the mill, which is a part of why this film is so compelling.

A film of two parts, the first section takes place in India where you bear witness to Saroo's family life and circumstances. The first half of the film traces Saroo's early life in India as he becomes separated from his family and finds himself days away, unable to get home, unable to speak the language in a strange city and ostensibly a street kid.

Sunny Pawar plays the young Saroo and he steals the movie, quite literally. The first half of the movie is subtitled and all of the actors are unknowns, making this even more compelling. (For those anti-subtitle, for the most part, you're watching children's conversations - you're not reading conversations about quantum physics or brain surgery - get over yourselves).

Saroo is finally placed in an orphanage, and after efforts are made to find his family, he is adopted by the Brierleys of Hobart - good people, nice people, and you at last know that Saroo is safe and onboard for a happy life.

The film then jumps 20 years, to a time of opportunity and computers. Saroo is off to Melbourne to go to school. He meets a girl, falls in love, but is also dragged back to memories of his former life and his former family. Enlisting the help of Google Earth, he starts to look for his former home town, one could say obsessively, until he miraculously find his home.

This is an oversimplification of what is a much greater story, one of hardship, overcoming obstacles and hardship, family love and devotion and the search for home.

The film is quite literally breathtaking, showing an India that we are aware of, but rarely see. The scenes in Calcutta / Kolkata are harrowing and unsettling and relief is only truly felt when the hapless Saroo lands in Hobart to be with the Brierleys (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman - and both are excellent), the cinematography only making the situation more moving.

I was also blown away by the films sound scape - using background noises to great effect.

Dev Patel is excellent as the older Saroo, nailing the Australian accent and keeping his performance well nuanced and believable. Rooney Mara plays his long suffering girlfriend and David Wenham is his all forgiving and supporting Dad. And Nicole Kidman is very, very good as Saroo's Mum. She's laid off the botox long enough to actually register real emotion - and playing a woman of a certain age actually suits her.

I'm very happy to recommend this film. Okay, there are one or two inconsistencies, but they are forgivable - especially when Saroo finally works out where home is, but this is film at its best. It's a heart warming story, a global story, beautifully and courageously told.

It's well worth alook.

Oh, and the film's title - why Lion?  You find out in the last minute of the film. I'm not going to tell you what its about, but it makes the film all the more poignant when this piece of information is  imparted.

Hunt out this one. It's great.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Icebreaker Questions

Another Sunday, another blog, before I take myself off to a film.

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1. Are you loud, outgoing or shy?

I'm a good mix of all three - but I'm actually quite shy. I'm just conditioned to put myself out there.

2. What’s coming up where you’ll see an old friend?

I have a friend coming to see me at Easter. My mum has a party in a few weeks - will see some old friends there.

3. Are you easy to get along with?

I think I am for the most part.

4. Have you ever given up on someone, but then gone back to them?

Yes. It was a dumb thing to do. Really should have known better, but you live and learn. He was the idiot who put me through all the grief last year.

5. Who was the last person that you had a deep conversation with?

Had a deep and meaningful with a friend yesterday.

6. Are you okay with being in a big crowd?

No. I don't like crowds at all - saying that, if I can move in them and they are orderly, I'm fine. So I was there at the Women's rallies in spirit yesterday.

7. Do you believe in luck and/or miracles?

I think you make your own luck for the most part - but miracles do occur - rarely, but they happen. Different things.

8. What good thing happened during the summer? (It’s good to think about summer when you are freezing your butt off in January.)

It's summer now as it is the Southern Hemisphere here and that makes it a January summer. I had three weeks off at the start of January - that's a good thing. Those women's marches that took place around the world - they are a bloody good thing too.

9. Do you think there is life on other planets?

Yes. It would be rude to think that there is such a huge universe out there that there is not life elsewhere.

10. Who was your first crush on?

Mark Holden. Still have no taste in men. In my defence, I was seven years old.

11. What are your bad habits?

I put tomato sauce on far too many things.

12. What’s your favorite part of your daily routine?

My morning shower and coffee. Can't live without either of them.

13. Other than your significant other, who are you most comfortable with?

I'm pretty comfortable around my best friend and her partner. They're really easy going. It's hard not to be.

14. Has an ex ever told you that they regret breaking up?

No, but an ex did tell me he regretted that he didn't tell me he loved me when we were together. That was sorta nice.

15. Why should your celebrity crush drop everything to be with you?

Because Clive Owen is a man of taste. What other reason does he need?

16. What would be the hardest to give up and why? Books. TV. Music.

All would be hard, but I could not live without books. Love them.

17. Do you believe in second chances?

Yes - but. I can forgive, but I do not forget. And don't stuff up your second chance. You don't get another.

18. What would like to do next in your life?

I still think I'd love to be a doctor and a vet. It might be fun to get married too.

19. What’s the meanest thing that anyone has ever said to you?

Being overweight, I've had a lot of horrid things turfed my way in the street.

20. What’s the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to you?

"You are the most intelligent person I know."

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Movie Review: Jackie

Stars:  3.5 - 4 (Jury is still out)

Here's the rub. Natalie Portman will more than likely get an Oscar nod for this film. After a while, you forget you're watching an actress on stage and you get the impression that you're watching Jackie Kennedy.

Here's the other thing. For a number of reasons, I was a little disconcerted and underwhelmed by this film - and most probably because of the scope of the film, which takes in the says from JFK's shooting in Dallas to the days after his funeral. I think I would much rather see a film that encompassed her time as First Lady before Dallas, or her time after the White House. Closing in on this small facet of her life, and knowing the history, this film provides an alternative viewing of this piece of history - or in this case - her-story. 

There are so many great things about this film - but I still came away from it with a bit of a meh sort of feeling. A lot of this is because from the moment you walk into the film, you know what is going to happen. JFK dies, Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as President and there is a big funeral to arrange.

Let's look at the great things. Natalie Portman is stellar as the shocked and grieving Jackie. The movie takes her from cultured and curated First Lady to grieving widow and back again. She's amazing. Peter Sarsgaard almost ghoulish as Bobby Kennedy. Jackie's aide, Nancy, is played by Greta Gerwig - and she provides a bit of humanity to the film. Billy Crudup plays a journalist, interviewing Jackie the week after the funeral. I always find him disconcerting, but his unsettling presence give the film an edge. It's a great cast.

The setting and costumes are amazing. Spot on. The cinematography blew me away. The way the movie was filmed it was like watching a movie which was filmed through the lens of an old Time or Life magazine. It portrayed both the White House and Hyannis Port with grace and elegance, but in a way that shows it as 1963 camera work.

The music provides a haunting counterpoint to the cinematography, always keeping the viewer on edge.

However, for all this good, indeed stellar points, my greatest beef with the film is the fact it has an MA15+ rating. I'm really not sure if it needed to be rated as such. All of this is for one scene in particular. Going into the film, I was wondering how this would come about - and after seeing it, I think the censors are erring on the side of caution.

One of the great mythical parts of the JFK story is that he was shot whilst riding in a motorcade. What is never show is in depth photos of JFK's death. What this film does is demystifies the shooting and shows Jackie scooping up his exploded head and trying to keep it all together. It was this ghoulish detail that left a bad taste with me. The scenes are graphic, but not overly gratuitous, yet I think that this could have been left out. 

These scenes are akin to seeing a movie about Lady Di with scenes of her dead half hanging out of the Mercedes, or Natalie Wood with an anchor through her head.

The other thought that struck me as I walked out of the cinema was "Where were 'her' family in all of this?" The myth of Camelot left me wanting to take her under my wing and give her a big hug. Having to grieve in such a public way would have been horrific. To handle it all with such poise and grace would have taken super-human strength.

It is a sumptuous production. The acting is brilliant. The haunting music will probably get an Oscar not as well. 

I'm glad I've seen it - but I don't need or want to see it again.

The Very Forceful Questions Meme

Go back to work to tomorrow. Thought after three weeks I'm ready to go back as I need the money, but I've been having a ball reading, seeing movies, having lunch with friends and generally relaxing. I have a funny feeling, when I get back into it, its going to be intense - even worse, I'll be doing two subjects from the end of February (which reminds me, I need to get onto writing a worthy short story for one of the subjects)

Anyway, these look like good questions. Get one done, get something ready for work tomorrow. That will be pretty  cool.

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.

1. Do you have/have you had any pets?

No, but I get to borrow people's cats regularly, being the mad cat sitter of Richmond. I handed back the Maow Moaw on Monday and I'm getting another cat in a fortnight while a gym buddy goes and gets married. Should be good. I'm away too much to have one of my own.

2. Do you play video games? If so, do you have a favorite video game series?

No. Other than games on my phone like Candy Crush, I'm not a gamer.

3. Any unpopular opinions on anything?

Lots of things. Well they're not to me. On the topic of abortion I'm very much on the pro-choice side of things - and I can get very vocal about this. I would love for the pro-lifers to tell me that for many of the women who choose to have an abortion, if they were to give birth if they would like to be responsible to educate, feed, love etc the child. Well?  Rather than pro- life many people are pro-birth. I'm also very much in favour of allowing people when choice the end their life when they are terminal and in pain. This is not to say that I don't respect other people's views,,, but...

Oh, and don't get me started on Trump. God help America.

4. Do you have a favorite gem? If yes, has anyone ever bought you jewelry with that gem?

Not really, but I do like sapphires.

5. Favorite story genres?

I'm a literary fiction reader. Don't mind good popular fiction and well crafted non-fiction (like the stuff Michael Lewis produces)

6. What was once a secret that you can now share? (The original question was "What kind of fruit do you hate" which is type of question that I think "who cares?" so I just change them.)

Umm, there was going to be a restructure at work. That all happened in December, but we've known about it for months.

7. Do you like reading?

I love reading. I wish I could have a job just reading for pleasure.

8. What time is it for you now, what are you usually doing at this time of the day?

It's 2.30 in the afternoon. On a weekday I'm normally at work. Otherwise, on weekends, I'll normally be mooching about.

9. What character on TV or in film is most similar to you? You can go with looks or personality. Or you can make a quip and go to the next question.

I'm told I look like the SuperNanny. Personality wise, I'm a bit of a mix between Leonard from Big Bang and Meredith Grey from Grey's Anatomy. Normal, but driven and a bit scatty at times. As an INFJ on the Meyers Briggs scale, I'm told I'm a lot like Remus Lupin - who I love dearly.

10. What's something weird you wanna do? It cannot be weirder than Mr. Watermelonhead. 

Is walking 800 kilometres across the top of Spain weird? I dunno, but it does sound kind of crazy.

11. Have you ever accomplished a New Years Resolution?

Yes. I resolved to put on hand cream every day. That was a new year's resolution I could keep.

12. Is there any music artist you look up to?

I had a great amount of respect for David Bowie.

13. Are you allergic to anything? If yes, what?

I'm slightly allergic to cats. Nothing that a daily antihistamine doesn't fix. I also don't react well to red wine - keeps me up all night.

14. When was the last time you took a swim? Who else was with you?

I think that might have been in Bali last January - which thinking about it, is too long ago.

15. Would you rather have the ability to sleep for as long as you want, or have the ability to never have to sleep?

I'd love to be able to sleep more than the six hours at a time. I don't sleep much more than that most nights.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Movie Review: Collateral Beauty

Three Stars

Reading the review in The Age and checking, you't think this film was made out of the remnants of  on of Donald Trump's alleged golden showers. The Age review is particularly scathing, commenting that is it the worst thing Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet and Edward Norton will ever do.

I'm going to be a bit kinder to this film, mostly because it is well-intentioned, but also, it's pretty to look at and it brings up some universal concepts, which okay are somewhat misguided and yes, the plot has holes the size of a Beijing sinkhole, but there is a bit to this movie which is good, and interesting, and universal.

I also will not complain too much as I used a free ticket on this one. You are not allowed to moan about freebies.

The general story is one of loss. Howard, a genius advertising executive is barely functioning three years after the death of his six-year-old daughter, to the point that his business partners (Norton, Winstlet and a surprisingly underwhelming Michael Pena) need to find a way to remove him from the business. Howard's party piece is that he talks about the great levelers of life. Love - which we all need, Time, which we can never have enough of and Death - which we all must face. Howard writes to all of these concepts and posts the letters. After a wily private investigator manages to get a hold of these letters, the trio hire a troupe of actors to face Howard and his current life choices. Mirren as Death, Keira Knightly as Love and Jacob Lattimore as Time.

This is by no means a perfect film. The script is patchy (I think The Age put it that it has numerous lines that Chuck Norris would have vetoed). In many ways, the whole premise of the film is pretty silly. Okay, it's not up there with one of the Kardashians doing Ibsen, but the script isn't great. At all.

One the good side - New York hasn't looked better. It's lovely to look at and the setting kept me entralled for most of the movie.

For me, what got me about this film, as trite and as clumsy as the storyline makes the concept, it is a very good, very thorough look at grief - particularly parents grieving children. Having been around a bit of this, this part of the story worked for me (though the saccharine ending you could see coming in the first 20 minutes.)

Though not done well, it does bring up some universal questions of love, time and death - concepts people have to deal with on a daily basis - and for attempting to look at these things, I take my had off to it.

Will Smith is next to catatonic for most of the movie, but shows a prowess for dominoes. I enjoyed Helen Mirren playing the older wise woman. Keira Knightly's wavering American accent pushed it a bit, an Naomie Harris added a good bit of gravitas to her end of the movie playing a counsellor for a support group. Michael Pena had a hard time with his material. And Edward Norton tried to make the best of a bad script.

I'd love to see what a better script writer and director could have done with this material, as it has the hallmarks of greatness, but falls very flat.

Then again, look at other films which look at death in a conceptual way - such as "Meet Joe Black" - which is always seen as Brad Pitt's worst movie to date. 'City of Angels" with Meg Ryan pre-trout pout and Nicholas Cage when he was half hot - again, a stinker - and a bit weird.

Despite all the problems with this film, I walked out with a tear in my eye, pondering the questions asked in the film.

I'd also not recommend this to anybody who has suffered a recent bereavement, particularly that of a child. However I do give the film kudos for at least trying to broach the topic.

There are a lot of good films out there. This is not one of them, but don't dismiss it entirely.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Movie Review: A United Kingdom

A United Kingdom - 4 Stars

Looking over the movie listings on a hot day, it became apparent my options were running short until the new movies came out. One of the last movies on my "To See" list was "A United Kingdom", which looked like a something up my alley from the trailers.

A historical film, based on a true story, the film presents the story of Seretse Khama, prince of Bechuanaland (modern day Botwsana) in the shadow of the second world war. Seretse is in England, studying Law at Oxford in preparation to take over his birthright as the king from his uncle who has acted as Regent since he was a child. Seretse is charming, intelligent and an all round great fellow who takes his role of future king seriously.

One night at a dance, he meets Ruth Williams, a clerk with some prospects. She'd been unwittingly dragged along to this dance at the Missionary Society by her sister (played with exquisite frumpiness by Laura Carmichael - commonly known as Lady Edith from Downton Abbey)

The two, the African Prince and the girl from South London fall instantly in love - which is when all hell breaks loose.

The inter-racial marriage, though not illegal in Britain at the time, is widely condemned in both families as well at by the public at large. Making things more difficult, the British Government want to keep Bechuanaland in their sights as the neighbouring lands of South Africa and the like are proving to be a gold mine. Adding to this pressure, South Africa is on the verge of legislating their draconian apartheid laws.

Set in post-war London and the last days of Colonial Africa, A United Kingdom provides an entertaining and educating look at what it is to stand for your principles. It also shows what life must have been like back in the days where to stray from the carefully observed norms was enough to bring a wave of Kardashianesque press pressure.

Another element of the movie is the insight it gives into post-Colonial Africa and the last days of British Rule. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Jack Davenport are at their entitled and most irritating best as they try and maintain the last grasp of English rule by oppression. This movie also presents the oppressive politics of the time in how they were seen - unacceptable to many and lead by the few. There are quite a few parallels with today's right wing lanings.

David Oyelowo is great as Seretse, giving him both gravitas and humanity in equal doses. Rosamund Pike is wonderful as Ruth, his plucky bride.

This is well worth a viewing - even just to see that occasionally the underdog does win, and will well.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Shipwreck Questions

The thought of being shipwrecked with my friends would be enough for me to swim out to sea and never come back. So when I look at these questions, remember that I am all Robinson Caruso on my island, Would much rather be stuck on an island with strangers. At least that way you can get to know people and not have to ruin your friendships. (Sorry friends - it's the same reason I'm going on the Camino alone. And you'd never get me on a cruise. Sounds like torture to me.

Questions, as alway, from Sunday Stealing.

You are shipwrecked with friends (your group can include real life or virtual life or both) think about it and pick some friends to truly enjoy your cruise +  and tell us why you assembled the group by just telling us...

Who would throw the wildest parties, and why did you pick them? 

I didn't pick them - they are people I don't know.

Who would always fall asleep on the couch, and why did you pick them? 

Where else are you supposed to sleep?

Who would enter to be in a talent show, and why did you pick them? 

You're shipwrecked - why would there be a talent show?

Who would try to get out of doing their chores and why did you pick them?

That person would get banished. Don't like slackers.
Who would accidentally set the kitchen on fire whilst cooking and why did you stupidly pick them?

We have to make our own kitchen. You learn to look after fire pretty quickly.

Who would try to domesticate an island pet and why did you pick them?

That would be me.
Who would make the other carry their bags on a shopping spree and why did you pick them?

You're shipwrecked. No shops. Silly question. Besides  - who doesn't carry their own bags when shopping?
Who would throw the first person off the boat and why did you pick them?

Probably the arsehole of the group. He'd be second into the drink.
Who would be the best caregiver when someone got sick & why did you pick them? 

I might be in that group. Give me something to do.

Who would try to force the another to play sports with them & why did you pick them? 

They can follow the arsehole out to sea. Should learn to leave people alone.

Who would have the best holiday ideas for your space on the island and why did you pick them?

Me. I plan great holidays.
Who would need to clean out someone others stuff to make room for their own & why did you pick them? 

You're shipwrecked. you don't have stuff.

Who worries about how they will look when they’re older & why did you pick them? 

There will be one of them in any crowd. Stay away from them.

Flashes everyone when they walk by after taking a shower alone & why did you pick them? 

That's a bit daft.He can go be with the vain person. The deserve each other.

Who wakes you to asks weird questions in the middle of the night & why did you pick them? 

I can be accused of that one occasionally.

Who will constantly ask you “what are you thinking about?” & why did you pick them? 

Another person to go walk the plank...

Which of your friends on this island might being too touchy-feely while you interact, why did you pick them?

Stick them with the vain couple.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Movie Review: The Edge of Seventeen

Back in the 80s, they made some of the best teem movies ever made. "The Breakfast Club", "Pretty in Pink", "Some Kind of Wonderful", "Ferris Beuller's Day Off" just to name a few. Films which spoke to the masses about what it is to be a teenager and the general pains of growing up.

Since then, with only a few notable exceptions, there hasn't been any truly relatable movies about the joys and dramas about being a teen.

"The Edge of Seventeen" stands out as an exceptional movie in many ways. A great cast, a modern setting, an unlikeably likable protagonist and the perfect mix of humour and angst and situation brings about a film that comes to rival the John Hughes films of the eighties. It's also got a killer soundtrack, taking from recent music back to the 80s.

Hailee Steinfeld plays Nadine. A sixteen-year-old girl dealing with being the multiple joys of a disfuctional family, a popular brother and complete weirdo status. This is possibly why I related to this, as in many ways, it mirrored my own high school days. Nadine is an outcast to all in her life, with the exception of her only friend, Krista. When Krista hooks up with her brother, Nadine starts the slow and steady spiral into complete alienation.

There are many elements of this film that set it apart from your normal teenage fare. A fantastic script, realistic family settings and a soundtrack is up there with 'The Breakfast Club".

Hailee Steinfeld carries this movie as the moody and apparently dreadful Nadine. She brings a "girl-next-door" feeling without making her trite or smaltzy. She butts heads with her brother, played by Glee alumni, Blake Jenner, her unstable mother (an underappreciated Kyra Sedgewick) and feels at one with her grumpy teacher, played by an equally lugubrious Woody Harrelson.

Hailee Steinfeld is going to go places. She brings an outward strength and inner vulnerability to this role which could have so easily slipped into triteness or just being plain annoying.

This film also brought back every teenage bit of angst I'd ever felt. This movie did it's job.

With a soundtrack that features Birdy, The Pixies, Spandau Ballet and Aimee Mann, it's an album I'd happily hunt out.

The other great thing about this movie is it takes away a few of the stereotypes, and makes fun of quite a few stereotypes often found in these kinds of films. The love interest, in particular, is a breath of fresh air.

The Edge of Seventeen has all the stamps of a classic film. Funny, edgy and on the money. If, like me, you're avoid the hot weather and making frequent trips to the cinema, I highly recommend this film. It gets pretty much everything right.

My only question - what is it with these teenagers and their eyebrows? Is plucking now illegal?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Cafe Review: Square and Compass

Square and Compass Cafe
222 Clarendon Street, East Melbourne

Open for breakfast and lunch Monday - Sunday.  Bookings available.

The day had gotten off to a good start. While waiting for the tram, a friend was passing by and she gave me a lit into town. So much better than taking an over hot tram into the city and it was great to catch up with this friend.

So after running a few errands I went to meet Jonella for lunch. Being back at work, she was looking for distractions - as was I having another ten days of holiday under my belt. Working in East Melbourne, she made a couple of suggestions - a couple of places I've been to, but one that stuck out on the list was Square and Compass cafe, nestled in the shadow of the old Dallas Brooks Hall (currently being disassembled). I am a freemason after all.

I'd checked the menu before I'd gone to meet Jonella and was suitably intrigued. It looked like decent cafe fare with hipster elements. It certainly made a difference from the normal sandwiches and rolls found around East Melbourne (though the cafe on George Street has always been an exception)

Being a hot, sunny day, we strolled down Albert Street to our waiting table.

The first thing about Square and Compasses - it has nothing to do with the masons, other than it's near the old temple buildings. It's also not stuffy or pretentious, as you'd often expect, but the cafe has an open, friendly feel, with friendly, attentive staff.

On being taken to our table, we perused the menu. Jonella, who has been to the cafe on a number of times was wanting to try the crunchy peanut butter and tomatoes on toast.

Not being one for tomotoes, I found a salad bowl of Smoked Salmon pastrami, saurkraut, avocado, tomatoes, caperberries and pickled cucumber. Being one for pickled vegetables, it sounded great.

Jonella ordered a green juice concoction, me an iced coffee. I was thrilled with the ice coffee - espresso, ice, skinny milk and a little sugar. Perfect for a hot day.

Jonella sold me on this place on the fact that it was a little more expensive, but worth it.

She was right.

A view of the menu does look like a lot of hipster wankery when you have a first glance - but the they take such pride in their food. The salmon pastrami bowl was one of the best meals I've had in ages. Jonella was very please with her peanut toast and tomatoes - and I'm pretty sure they make their own peanut butter.

Yes, you can get a golden latte here (made with tumeric, not urine). Yes, there appears to be quite  a bit of quinoa, kale and other hipster staples, however, despite the perceived pretentiousness, these people do great food and a reasonable price. We were bowled over enough to make plans to go back again next week.

Square and Compass Cafe gives a bit of respite from the banality of East Melbourne eateries. I'm looking forward to going back.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Movie Review: Passengers

Passengers:  Three Stars

It's early evening on the second day of the year, and other than having to go and find a new keyboard as my 'f' key is sticking, I've found that I've taken in my first film for the year. I wasn't going to do this today - I was going to get a bit of study and writing and ironing done, but no - Jay suggested taking in this film, so this is what I did instead.

The premise looked good. The cast looks great - Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. From the trailers, the special effects look great.

That's the thing - from the outside, it looks great. That's where it ends.

What they spent on CGI and sets and effects, they certainly didn't put into the script - which is my main beef with the film. That, as well as the every so slightly creepy premise of the film.

Chris Pratt plays Jim, an engineer on the flight that is supposed to be sending him and the 5000 odd other people to the other side of the universe to set up a colony. the trip takes 120 years. After a heavy meteor storm, something goes awry and Jim is woken from his endless sleep. 

He's the only one awake on the craft, apart from a bartender android, Arthur,  Thankully, Jim's an engineer, which means he can be annoying, endearing and able to fix things all at once. 

After a year on his own, talking to the hapless Arthur (played with alacrity by Michael Sheen) Jim makes the bold move to wake Aurora - a writer.

This is the creepy premise. You think about it. Man on his own obsesses about waking a beautiful woman to be with him. He's never met this woman in the real world. There is no way they can return to earth. They cannot contact earth. It's just going to be the two of them.

So by the middle of the film you're wondering whether this is going to be an intergalactic stalker film. It isn't, but part of me wishes it was. The film has that sort of foreboding in it's early sections. This is where the film misses the mark.

Indeed, could this be classed as a bit of a poor man's "2001: A Space Odyssey"?

There is a part of me that wishes that this movie had the Kubrick touch - says she who doesn't really like Kubrick that much.

I've said enough about what happens here. What I haven't mentioned is that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence do their best with the dodgy script. This doesn't reach the heady heights of "The Martian", which has a similar premise of having people lost in space with time being critical, even if time-critical in this movie is nearly a century.

What the film does well is the special effects. Space has never looked more glamorous or enticing, even if the ship appears to be malfunctioning. There are a couple of scenes in the ship's pool - somewhere I would love to swim. It's also interesting looking at what an engineer can do given enough time, no duct tape and a few resources.

This film is a beautiful diversion - something to see with that errant free movie ticket that's about to expire at the back of your wallet. It's great to look at, but could do without the gaping holes in the plot and the cruddy script.

The jury is still on this one. If it wasn't for the great effects I'd say save this one until it makes a visit to Netflix. The special effects, however, are worth the price of the movie ticket alone.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Bud's Last Stand of 2016

Happy New Year.

I never thank the guys who post these questions every week. It is a thankless task, but they do this with grace, humour and vigilance every week. Okay, sometimes the questions are pitched at 15-year-old, but for the very most part they bring a lot of joy to my rather boring weekends.

It's an unpaid and thankless task that they do and I hope BudWeiser and Kwizgiver accept my apologies for being a thoughtless and stroppy cow at times. As somebody who works, studies and does a heap of pro bono and committee work, I know what it is like to get unwarranted criticism when you're only doing your best - so please accept my apologies for my occasional rants.

This meme, which has been on the site for the last five years is my favourite meme of the year, and it's something that I cherish doing at this time. It give a chance to reflect on over the last year. And it gets people thinking about just what life is all about.

So again, thanks to the crew at Sunday Stealing for putting these questions up and allowing us to take stock of the year. And here's to a good year of memes.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

Got through both grief and heartbreak with my head held high. The grief still comes in waves, but it's manageable. The heart is pretty much mended a year on - and taking the high road has been both releasing and strengthening. He's gone. It's good.

2. Best thing that happened to you was...

Getting dumped. Dodged a bullet there.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My friends Georgie and Thom had a little girl. I hope to meet her soon - well before she graduates from university.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Nobody close to me died, but I've had a lot of death around me. I have a lot of friends who have lost love ones. It's been an honour to be able to stand next to them and be by their side through the process.

5. What countries did you visit?

Only Indonesia (Bali) and New Zealand this year. Would like to remedy this. Love travelling.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

More laughter and more travel. 2016 was a heavy year. It would be lovely to laugh more and travel more. However, as I'm finishing my Masters this year, I'm not sure how feasible this will be. Well the travel anyway.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 14. It was the day that I found out Alan Rickman had died. I know it's daft to mourn a celebrity death, but I felt that one personally. I mourn the films he never made. He came across as such a great man.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I've ended up with one distinction and two high distinctions in my studies. I work hard, but it's nice to see the work pays off.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Losing weight. That didn't happen this year. That changes this year. It has to.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Other than a bout of flu, a couple of lingering colds and the odd strain from the gym, my big injury was Bruce the Bum Bruise. I tripped and bruised the left butt cheek of my arse. It was an epic bruise. There is still a lump in my butt, which is slowly going some eight months on. I really did myself a  number on this one.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I discovered Marc Jacobs make up. My Miss Scarlett lipstick is a favourite. oh year, I bought a new car too. Strange how lipstick trumps a car...

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I'm a huge fan of Justin Trudeau. Like all politicians, he's not perfect, but I like his style. Strangely, I'm also a fan of our state Premier, Dan Andrews. Again, not perfect, but he appears to be getting stuff done.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Where do I start. Aging man-baby, Donald Trump is simply appalling. Most of the Australian Federal Cabinet could go jump of a cliff and there would be no loss.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, tuition and travel.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Strangely, writing a screenplay for school. I started work on a mini-series. It got me a 89% grade from my tutor. I'd love to take this further. Meeting Richard Flanagan was also pretty cool.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

Strangely, it will be Bowie's "A Space Oddity". It makes me remember he won't be making any more music, It's a shame.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

a) About the same
b) A bit fatter
c) About the same - though I'm richer in wisdom.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Laugh, travel, drink gin, exercised (though for a few months it was hard to do much because of that bloody bruise)

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Eat chips. Moped privately for three months over an arsehole who is thankfully out of my life.

20. How will you spend New Year's Eve?

As it is now New Year's Day, last night I went and saw a film and had a spot of dinner with a friend. The cat and I then listened to the fireworks.

21. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"But since you been gone
I can breathe for the first time
I'm so moving on"   (Kelly Clarkson, Since You've Been Gone)

22. What was your favorite new TV program?

Rather fond of Outlander and UnReal. Both are streamed. Both are great.

23. What was the rudest thing someone did to you in 2016?

I hold the Federal Government accountable for all of the stuff ups they've done as the height of rudeness.

24. What was the best book you read?

Charlotte Ross' "The Natural Way of Things".

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Elle King. She's great.

26. What did you want and get?

A new car. It was a bit of a surprise occurrence near my birthday, bit I still love it. It's also still shiny and red.

27. What did you want and not get?

The happy ever after. But I don't think that exists, so that is fine.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

This is a toss up. I loved La La Land - but "The Hunt for the Wilderpeople" is still choice, bro.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Nothing much. Went to work, then had dumplings at a favourite place with a friend and my parents.

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Regular trips to Sydney to see a friend. Nuff said there. Doing well at my studies.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Plain, boring, black.

32. What kept you sane?

Friends, movies, books, writing, exercise - and the odd gin and tonic.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Still have a thing for Richard Roxburgh and Craig McLachlan.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I still cannot get over how Australia treats asylum seekers. It's gone on for too long. The fact that some idiot politicians are debating climate science also gets my goat. I won't talk about America. Sheesh.

35. Who did you miss?

Alan Rickman. David Bowie. My friend Reindert who is hopefully moving to Colorado this year.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

My work brother. he's half my age, Punjabi and we were nearly instant friends. He's good to have about. There is a life force about him.

Finally, to quote T.S. Eliot,

“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."

Here's to a good year.