Sunday, 19 November 2017

Shock Jock Rules in the Interval

I was taking some snaps of the orchestra and audience returning to their seats ahead of the resumption  of the Broadway to La Scala concert in the Sydney Opera House yesterday. I didn't notice the raised finger at the bottom until later.


But therein lies a story. The finger appears to be against the grey hair of a gentleman. But that was no gentleman. That grey-haired head belongs to a Radio Shock Jock. A very well known Sydney Shock Jock. Probably Australia's most notoriously known Shock Jock in a city which has a gaggle of notorious Shock Jocks.

Blow it; I'll tell you who. Alan Jones; that's who.

Mr Jones spent the twenty minutes long interval in deep conversation with a gentleman to his left. Throughout the conversation he waved his hands about extravagantly in the manner of someone who is laying down the law to a recalcitrant. Mr Jones is well used to laying down the law especially to people who are to his left. Mr Jones is accustomed to lecturing Prime Ministers, Premiers, sundry politicians, rugby players and his many, many listeners.

Curiously Mr Jones had a pen in hand throughout what appeared to be heavily a one sided conversation. Perhaps he'd been taking notes during the concert and didn't want to let go. Perhaps he was anticipating autograph hunters although I didn't notice any. Maybe he is just one of those who has a pen handy at all times.

I imagine Mr Jones will make mention of his attendance at the concert in his broadcast tomorrow morning. If so he might mention his interval discussion. I won't know. I tired of listening to Mr Jones' lecturing a long time ago.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

From Broadway to La Scala


This one off concert in the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House today follows on from similar concerts staged in 2015. Opera Singers Teddy Tahu RhodesDavid HobsonGreta Bradman and stage and screen performer Lisa McCune perform a series musical and operatic favourites. Limited concerts are also programmed for other capital cities.

Today's performance was enjoyed by an enthusiastic audience overwhelmingly of my generation or similar.

Two disappointments. One was the non performance of 'Au fond du temple saint' from The Pearl Fishers although it was mentioned in the (expensive) program. The second being the variable sound quality and levels in the Concert Hall.

Overall though I shared the general enthusiasm around me.

✮✮✮✮

Friday, 17 November 2017

The House of Dior Exhibition

I visited the House of Dior exhibition that was staged recently at the National Gallery of Victoria. I'm not a fashionista nor do I have any particular knowledge about fashion but I enjoyed what was on display and I could appreciate that there was considerable art and skill on display.

Here are some photos from my viewing (without comment nor caption).


















Thursday, 16 November 2017

Blade Runner 2049


In 'Blade Runner 2049' Los Angeles Police Department Officer 'Blade Runner K' (Ryan Gosling), a Replicant (artificial but human like fighter), is ordered to chase down rogue Replicants who revolted against a major corporation. K uncovers secrets from the past and goes in search of Deckard (Harrison Ford), a Blade Runner who has been missing for thirty years.

This is the sequel to 1982's 'Blade Runner' and it shares the original's dark and rainy images. Gosling's naturally deadpan manner and expressions are perfectly suited to the his character as a Replicant.

Very atmospheric and whilst the pace is slow I found the film intriguing.

✮✮✮½

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Australia 2-0

It has been a good day for Australia.

This morning the announcement that the Government decreed voluntary survey which few Australians felt was necessary had returned a 61.6% vote in favour of marriage equality effectively committing the Australian Parliament to introduce the necessary legislation; something that should have been done without an expensive tax payer funded process.

Australia 1 win.

This evening Australia's soccer team, the Socceroos, defeated Honduras in the last chance play off match to qualify for the World Cup Finals 2018 in Russia.



Australia 2 wins.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Murder on the Orient Express


'Murder on the Orient Express' is one Agatha Christie's most famous titles and it contains perhaps the most famous whodunnit resolution in all of her work. Once you have seen/read it and remember the resolution any revisiting of the work can be rather tedious. The story has been filmed several times for both the big screen and television and the 1974 film version was extremely successful. Essentially the plot is that a passenger aboard the Orient Express is murdered during the night and an investigation of the fellow passengers is conducted to establish the murderer.

This 2017 version is Directed and Produced by Kenneth Branagh who also stars in it as the eccentric Belgian Private Detective Hercules Poirot. The film adds a new introduction to establish Poirot's eccentricity and brilliance and a new faux ending in which Poirot has a mental struggle on how he will explain his findings to the Police. Both seem unnecessary to me but this version is a relentless Branagh-athon and so it is that Branagh/Poirot dominates every scene.

I was hoping that Director Branagh might combat the familiarity of the plot by finding an inventive way to highlight interesting aspects of the luxury train service. For one brief moment I thought he might manage it. An early scene has the camera tracking down the length of the train from the vantage of the platform following as Branagh/Poirot is taken to his compartment. This provides glimpses of the passengers already on board and some of the train's facilities. A clever moment but it is not built on.

The long middle section of the film in which Poirot interviews the passengers is deadly dull. Each scene is yet another opportunity to demonstrate Poirot's (Branagh's?) brilliance but the passengers themselves remain steadfastly uninteresting and less than fully formed. Christie aficionados will be bemused to see that this Poirot is particularly athletic grappling energetically with various suspects and witnesses.

If you've never seen/read the story before or if you don't recall whodunnit you may well find this an entertaining experience, even possibly thrilling but I would doubt that.

There are some lovely images but even then the computerisation is obvious. An unnecessary remake.

✮✮

Monday, 13 November 2017

Bad Moms 2


'Bad Moms 2' (originally titled 'A Bad Moms Christmas') is screening in Sydney a full six weeks ahead of Christmas. Perhaps it was originally intended to screen the film closer to the Christmas period but here it is with Christmas not really on my radar yet.

The film is centred entirely around Christmas even displaying the countdown from six days before through to Christmas Day itself. I don't think any of we four that comprised the audience at our session was feeling especially festive. And this film would not have helped engender a festive spirit. It is rather awful. Not awesome but awful.

Three of the original 'Moms' are back for this sequel. They are not behaving badly when this sequel commences but this time it is the moms' moms (ie the grandmothers) who arrive for the holidays and who set off the bad behaviour.

This is the latest in what seems an endless stream of gross out comedies emanating from the USA. Despite children featuring in the film it seems doubtful that families are the target audience. The 'F' word is uttered regularly both by the adult and child actors and some of the plot devices seem unnecessarily crude. One subplot running through the film involving a male stripper plumbs the depth of poor taste.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Bride Wars?

It is not unusual to see wedding ceremonies occurring in Sydney's magnificent Centennial Park. Indeed the Park's website has an entire section on reserving space in the Park for a wedding ceremony, scheduling wedding photographs in the Park and even on staying in the Park in connection with a wedding.

So when I was driving through the Park yesterday and saw this sight at the Belvedere Amphitheatre in the Park my first thought was that a wedding was about to occur.


How fancy. An orchestra in place!

But then I took a closer look.


A lovely setting. Sweeping views towards the South where upper right you see the upper levels of the main Grandstand at Randwick Racecourse. The buildings upper middle belong to the University of New South Wales. The domed building in the centre is Federation Pavilion constructed in 1988 to mark the place where the Proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia occurred in 1901.

But back to the wedding. The orchestra appeared to be a youth orchestra. Unless the wedding party involved teachers and/or students a Youth Orchestra seemed an odd choice for a wedding. And then the Orchestra started to perform; apparently in rehearsal. The first few notes were very much the sounds of young musicians. Not only that but the first few bars of music also clearly were the Star Wars movie theme.

Now, that is an odd choice for a wedding.

When I returned home hours later I checked the What's On section in Park's website. My more considered reactions proved justified. The orchestra was not preparing for a wedding yesterday. They were rehearsing for Classics in the Park; an outdoor family concert performed by 'Sydney Youth Orchestras'.

Interestingly the website advertises the price for this event as $20. I could see and hear the Orchestra perfectly well from my vantage point beyond the loosely roped off area which surrounded the white plastic chairs. Had I attended the concert I think would have joined the early gathering hoi polloi on their blankets and fold up chairs beyond the rope.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remembrance Day

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them.

Friday, 10 November 2017

A View From The Bridge

Old Fitz Theatre
I have often read rave reports of productions staged at the Old Fitz Theatre, a small venue located within the Old Fitzroy Hotel, a traditional style pub in the Sydney harbourside working suburb of Woolloomooloo. This week I experienced their offerings for the first time and I am impressed.

Arthur Miller's 'A View From The Bridge' depicts a family of Italian New Yorkers who take in several of their Italian relatives who have entered the USA illegally. The intrusion of these relatives places strains on the family and brings to the surface previously concealed tensions and desires.

The performance space at the Old Fitz Theatre is tiny. Little more than a narrow passageway between two banks of audience seats accommodating about 60 audience members at the most. With no set and only one chair as a prop the cast delivers an astonishingly powerful presentation. It is unfair to single out any cast members yet I have to name Ivan Donato, David Soncin, Zoe Terakes and Janine Watson; all four are superb. The other cast members are Giles Gartrell-Mills, David Lynch and Lincoln Younes and they complete a wonderful ensemble.

Word of mouth has been speedy and the season is sold out. I look forward to attending other productions at this intriguing venue.

✮✮✮✮

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Foyer

The foyer of Belvoir Street Theatre where I have an annual subscription.

The Hal Bar (named, I think, after a beloved theatrical identity)
The Box Office

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Suburbicon


'Suburbicon' is one of those model towns from the 1950/60s that would feature in human interest featurettes in cinemas of the day depicting model white communities in perfectly manicured residential lots; all sweetness and light and crimefree. A bit like Canberra of the same vintage really. Of course, reality was different.

This film is set in such a fictional community which descends into turmoil when one African American family moves in. A torrent of racism is focussed on these unfortunates. At the same time, one of the supposedly reputable white families is in a descent of its own into fraudulent and criminal behaviour.

I suppose the film is intended as an ironic, black comedy commentary. I found it very unpleasant. All the main adult characters are quite awful and apart from the brief scenes involving Oscar Isaac the film is without humour.

The African American family remains noble and above the shocking intimidation they experience but strangely they are almost invisible and mute throughout the film.

✮✮

Monday, 6 November 2017

The Snowman


Set in Norway and based on a novel by Jo Nesbo'The Snowman' depicts a Detective who becomes involved in the search for a possible serial killer after a woman goes missing.

Wintery scenes and images are a highlight of this occasionally brutal film. Michael Fassbender's Detective is likeable despite the general unattractiveness of his character.

✮✮✮

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Atlantis


In Atlantis, author Lally Katz mines her personal history as well as her dreams to relive her migration to Australia from the United States and later return. The play introduces a host of character - relatives, friends and imaginary - who populate her life.

The cast of five, Paula Arundell, Lucia Mastrantone, Amber McMahon, Hazem Shammas and Matthew Whittet cover more than forty characters. A very entertaining play, funny throughout, my only quibble is that the final ten minutes fell a little flat for me.

✮✮✮½

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Wharf Revue 2017

(Sydney Theatre Company)
The Wharf Revue 2017 is this year's Sydney Theatre Company politics oriented satire. Regular creators and cast members Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Collins are joined by Blazey Best to perform a couple of dozen withering skits. Unsurprisingly, President Donald Trump receives special, hilarious attention.

Up to form.

✮✮✮½

Friday, 3 November 2017

Aladdin



The Disney stage musical based on its earlier animated film musical. Aladdin, a struggling young man, encounters a Princess and with the help of a Genie sets out to woo her.

Ainslie Melham (Aladdin) and Michael James-Scott (Genie) are very appealing and energetic and they carry much of the show. A couple of tuneful numbers and lots of colour and bright costuming fill out an entertaining family oriented two and half hours. The magic carpet scenes remain memorable.

✮✮✮

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Home Again


A separated mother returns to original home of Los Angeles and finds herself hosting three male film struck housemates who are trying to make it in Hollywood.

A scarcely believable premise that I found to silly to enjoy. My female friends all found it to be cute. Obviously too much of a chick flick even for me.

✮½

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Only Living Boy in New York


A young student learns that his father is having an affair and enters into a dangerous relationship with his father's mistress. Meanwhile a dishevelled neighbour shows a curious interest in the young man's life.

Slow and wordy.

✮✮

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Dinner Train

(Retrospective post)

The final event on our Southern Africa journey was the Royal Livingstone Dinner Train at the Victoria Falls.

The train conveys guests to the bridge over the Victoria Falls. Stopping midway on the bridge the train is at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Guests can disembark during the short stop for photos and for those brave enough to face the forceful craft sellers. You can also step gingerly, if somewhat unofficially, onto Zimbabwe territory; ie their half of the bridge. After that short stay the train backs back more deeply into Zambia and onto a siding whilst a five courses dinner is served.

Some photos from our visit.

The bridge over Victoria Falls; Zambia to the left & Zimbabwe to the right





Sunday, 29 October 2017

Rhino safari

(Retrospective post)

Whilst in Livingstone we went on a Rhino walking safari. This occurred in the Mosi Oa Tunya National Park which is Zambia's smallest National Park. The Park is home of a number of White Rhinos. These Rhinos aren't actually white in appearance. Their name is a translation error by early British explorers who were told by locals that they had come across Wide-mouthed Rhinos.

The safari is cleverly constructed. Led by 'Skinny' the local guide and kept safe by 'Stanley the protector' our small group walked single file - so as not to suggest to animals that we were in attack formation - as we followed Rhino tracks and droppings in our 'search' for the White Rhinos.

The heat was intense as the temperature passed into the 40s centigrade (+104 fahrenheit). After about an hour we eventually 'located' the White Rhinos. Later events suggested clearly that the location of the White Rhinos was known all along but the simulation made for a more exciting safari experience.

Our Safari transport (apart from by foot)

Safari formation
'Skinny' the National Park Guide
The White Rhinos
The White Rhinos
'Stanley the Protector'