Monday, 26 January 2015

Arise Sir Philip

I awoke this morning to the news that Prince Philip - that Greek Englishman who is married to a Queen and who lives mainly in London - has been made a Knight in the Order of Australia. No doubt Sir Philip as he may now prefer to be known is chuffed at the news.


Like many Australians I have no idea why our Prime Minister thought last year, without any public discussion of which I am aware, that it was a good idea to reinstate Knighthoods into Australia's honours system let alone distribute such trinkets to people who not only aren't Australian but do not even live here.

The supplementary news that the Knighthood is for 'his contribution to Australia' leaves me rather bewildered. I suspect Sir Philip is more bewildered than I.

At least Sir Philip won't have to travel far for his investiture. He might just tumble out of bed one morning and into something a little formal, perhaps a little number like this;


As for Prime Minister Abbott....have we ever had a PM more out of touch? Not in my lifetime.

Australia Day 2015


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Unbroken


Unbroken is about an American Olympian and wartime Bombardier, Louis Zamperini, who was captured by the Japanese after being adrift on the ocean on a rubber dinghy for more than seven weeks following the shooting down of his plane and who was detained as a Prisoner of War.

The film focuses relentlessly on the brutal treatment Zamperini was subjected to as a POW and as a consequence is heavy going for much of its length. The final moments which show photos of the real life Zamperini  and details about his post war life and attitudes indicate a remarkable man and give some credence to the events portrayed earlier.

Doubtless cinematic and dramatic license has been taken in the portrayal and it does seem unlikely that all of the men with whom Zamperini served prior to his capture could have been as flawlessly photogenic as they appear in the film.

Strong stuff and better than average.
★★★1/2

Friday, 23 January 2015

Horses for courses

Horses for courses...or something like that. I really should learn a lesson but sometimes I forget.

Tonight I purchased a takeaway meal from a neighbourhood eatery which specialises in chicken dishes. I had the intention to purchase a chicken dish without deciding what type to select until I got there. However once at the eatery I noticed a beef curry on offer, something the eatery doesn't often have on its menu so despite the heat of the day - or maybe because of it - I made the last moment decision to select the beef dish instead.

That was a mistake.

The beef was very dark - darker than in the stock image below - and not very tender and the curry flavour, if that's what it really was, did not appeal to me.


What is further annoying was that only when eating the meal back home did I remember selecting a beef curry from that eatery about a year ago and not enjoying that meal either.

When will I learn the lesson. Horses for courses. Stick to an eatery's speciality.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

American Sniper


Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is a 'legend' and a 'hero' to his mates for his unerring skill as an American Sniper in the war in Iraq. His task, along with his fellow snipers, is to protect the ground troupes engaged in house to house searches by picking off enemy snipers and combatants. His superior 'kill' record is behind his fame.

I'm quite conflicted by this film. It opens with scenes of the childhood Kyle receiving lessons from his father on his responsibilities as a family defender, scenes which are every bit as unpleasant as the war scenes to follow. The film then quickly jumps to the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York which inspires and leads to Kyle's enlistment as a Navy SEAL. He marries and starts a family and serves four tours of duty to Iraq. All the while he grows more distant from his family and increasingly disturbed by his war experiences.

From Twitter I see there are people who having seen this film are enthused to join in the killing spree. I find this response to the film disturbing. Whilst I feared in its early scenes that the film was into glorifying the war the fact is that pretty well all the combatants are shown to eventually be severely damaged mentally and/or physically by their experiences. Yet despite severe damage those who might be said to be survivors remain drawn to involvement in weapons.

The futility of the war is obvious with nothing achieved apart from injury, death and mayhem but the film seems uninterested to underline this fact.

Cooper's performance is quite brave as he departs far from the handsome charmer of his early movies  and it looks like he will be well rewarded financially. Cooper is one of the film's producers and the movie is a box office hit having taken nearly $100 million dollars on its first weekend in the USA.

This is very firmly an American view of the conflict. Technically I suppose the film is well made but I had difficulty following the dialogue, large amounts of which were unintelligible to me. I simply couldn't make out what the actors were saying.

Whilst I'm concerned the film sparks an healthy reaction from some, assessing it rationally I rate it
★★★

Radiance

Belvoir St Theatre

Three half sisters assemble at the family home for the funeral of their mother. One of the sisters, an internationally renowned opera singer, has returned from London. As the sisters remember the highs and lows of their past, family secrets are unravelled.

Radiance is a revival. It is directed by Leah Purcell who also plays the part of the oldest of the sisters, the opera singer. I like Ms Purcell and have enjoyed her acting in the past but she is not convincing in this role. There is none of the diva bravado in her body language or behaviour. The other two performers are quite capable in their roles.

Unfortunately I easily guessed early on the big twist that provides the ultimate dramatic climax.

Some strong aspects but overall, disappointing.
★★

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Radio times


I was seven when television started in Australia but we didn't get one in our home until I was about ten. In my formative years home entertainment was sitting around a radio receiver every evening listening to serials and musical programs. Our imagination was a powerful tool with mental pictures of what was being portrayed in the serials forming in our minds.

I remember how my illusions of these seemingly life like serials evaporated when we went to a radio studio one day to see a serial being broadcast. I saw the reality of actors standing over a microphone with some bald headed man on the side creating the sound effects for doors closing, rain falling and the like. It was like learning the truth about Santa Claus.

Radio plays a different role in our lives nowadays and it is more difficult to win over listener imagination. Modern television and film and astonishing developments in computerised effects mean we are much more cynical and less easily deceived.

There is an advertisement currently broadcast on morning radio for a health service in Sydney specialising in depression. It is a serious matter. The advertisement depicts an apparently young groom tearfully talking about his young bride's depression. Even allowing for the obvious, the knowledge that this is an advertisement, the groom's tearful disclosure just doesn't ring true to me.

I suppose its all in the ear of the beholder but this is one message my imagination hasn't bought.