Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Selamat siang

Good day from Bali. Well, not quite yet. I should be taking off from Sydney at the moment this is published (assuming the flight is on time).

And in six hours time I will (should) be in Bali, Indonesia.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Baby Driver

'Baby Driver' has arrived with considerable fanfare for its extensive musical soundtrack and its hip, modern style.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young man who drives getaway cars for teams of bank robbers. 'Drives' is an understatement. He is an artist of the getaway craft zooming, weaving, twirling, burning and many others 'ings' a stunt driver - and CGI effects - can muster. He has a good heart; witness the care he takes of his deaf step-father but bank robbing can only end badly if you don't know when to stop.

I'm not certain what age group this film is targeting. The relationship between Baby and his girlfriend seems to target teens and twenty-somethings but then the assorted gangsters, all heavily tattooed, and their mild accountant style leader Doc (Kevin Spacey) seem aimed at other demographics altogether.

And then there is the continuous sound track which is a scattergun of styles. Speaking of guns, the violence comes fast and thick the longer the film runs.

Not a film for me.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Australian Graffiti

(Sydney Theatre Company)

'Australian Graffiti' is a current production at the Sydney Theatre Company. A Thai family is struggling to earn a living in Australia. They have operated a series of restaurants each of which has failed under pressure of competition. As a consequence the family has moved regularly to increasingly remote areas to the point they have landed in a tiny town where locals are treating them with suspicion.

An earnest effort at portraying the migrant experience in Australia.


Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Glenmore

The Glenmore is located in the Sydney's historic district known as The Rocks; the site of the first European settlement by the British colonisers of the Australian continent in 1788.

The hotel dates from 1921 and so pre-dates the nearby iconic Harbour Bridge by more than a decade. Apart from its maze of various saloon rooms the main attraction of the Pub is its roof top dining/drinking area with glimpses of the harbour and the Opera House. On a personal note, the Pub is located next to a building where I was an employee for several years. I won't confirm or deny whether many lunch hours were spent on the rooftop but, if they were, I'm sure that time spent there did not detract from work performance.

Four of us spent a very pleasant five hours over lunch at The Glenmore today.

Highly recommended for locals and visitors.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Riverboat Postman

I was born and raised in Sydney and have lived something in the order of 52 of my 68 years in this city and yet I had never heard of the Riverboat Postman until last Sunday. Four friends and I took a trip on the Riverboat today.

It makes for a fine day of activity when you include the one hour each way journey between Sydney CBD and the Hawkesbury River at Brooklyn where the Riverboat is docked. We made those journeys by train.

The Riverboat experience itself lasts about three hours. We travelled on the Zarapito. A comfortable enough boat although it could do with some refreshing. At a guess it caters for about 70 passengers.

The hosts serve coffee/tea and Anzac Biscuits for a morning tea and later on a no frills Ploughman's Lunch accompanied by coffee/tea and a chocolate. You can purchase some other refreshments during the journey.

The journey covers a number of islands where the post is delivered to smiling, occasionally eccentric, locals. We were blessed by a lovely sunny winter's day and it was a lovely, peaceful, leisurely experience.

The journey is accompanied by commentary from the Captain who informed us that this is the only Riverboat postal service in Australia.

Highly recommended for locals and visitors.

Monday, 10 July 2017

I've succumbed

I got through 'The Rover' but finally have succumbed to my cold missing out on seeing 'Cloud Nine' tonight.

The cough is mostly under control but my nose is running and running. I think it could win an Olympic Marathon so persistent is the malady.

Off to bed after a hot tea with lemon and honey.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Rover

(Belvoir Theatre)
Set in the 17th Century (I think) 'The Rover' starts off as a sort of cabaret/circus with bawdy references before it morphs into a farce with bawdy references. It is festival time in Naples, a time for revelry when aristocrats, the working classes, whores and nuns alike mingle and mix and match with total abandon.

Despite a long running time (three hours including interval) this production is vibrant, hilarious, fast paced and engaging throughout. It also features what must be the three thinnest, skinny legged actors treading the boards in Australia at the moment. Beware that the production includes language, sexual references, some nudity and (shock/horror) occasional harmless audience participation.


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Should I?

I have a theatre date today.

At the Belvoir Theatre where my bum hurts after just 45 minutes of sitting and today's play runs 3 hours 30 minutes including interval!

Plus I have an irritating cough and my nose is running. My cough will annoy everyone else, not just me.

Should I go?

I have just under six hours to decide.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Thursday, 6 July 2017


At the age of 13, 'Una' was the target of sexual abuse by Ray, an older man and former neighbour. Fifteen years later she discovers Ray is working at a large organisation under an assumed name. Una confronts Ray at his workplace. Is Una seeking revenge for her abuse as a child? Does she have other motivations? Does Ray feel guilt for his actions or is he unrepentant?

Don't expect answers. Everything about the issues canvassed in the film remains inconclusive.

Ruby Stokes and Rooney Mara as Una and Ben Mendelsohn as Ray give strong performances in this dark film which never quite escapes it's theatrical origins.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017


(Sydney Theatre Company)

'1984' is a stage production of the famous George Orwell novel of that name which sets out three authoritarian regimes where history changes on political whim, where the citizens are subject of total monitoring and where individualism does not exist.

The play seems to sit outside of this world at times observing events both contemporarily and retrospectively. The time frame is fluid being both now, in the future and in the past.

The staging makes much use of sound and light design and is impressive. The ensemble of nine delivers beautifully timed and choreographed performances.

My one reservation is that the play doesn't deliver sustained menace. There are moments but the tension tends to ebb and flow.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Wonder Woman

'Wonder Woman' opens with a long introduction explaining the title character's origins as the sole child on some Amazonian idyllic island protected by an invisible shield which proves less than impregnable when breached by an American airman spy dressed as a German. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine prove attractive and eminently watchable as the adult Wonder Woman and the airman.

The two embark on some spy activity which I didn't completely follow supported by a motley international trio of mercenaries.

'Wonder Woman' is quite interesting visually and the CGI effects work well. It is refreshing to have a female heroine for a change even if (inevitably?) a man is depicted as sparking her action. Other than that there is not a lot to a film that undoubtedly will be followed with multiple sequels.


Monday, 3 July 2017

Safety, please

Three workers on the roof of a nearby multi-storey building. No safety fences and no other safety features evident.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Saturday, 1 July 2017

To the point

A gathering to farewell the retiring, long standing gardener and general handyman for my apartment block. About thirty in attendance, all sexagenarians and much older.

S is speaking to me about being a 'benefactor to the arts'; a gross inflation of my frequent attendance at the theatre. S draws the passing T into our conversation despite the latter's obvious intention to join another group nearby.

S: 'I do love the Wharf Revue. It is so topical and entertaining'.

T: 'The subject does not interest me'. And with that, T moves on.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Lady Macbeth

Not from the Shakespeare play. A young bride in the 1850s, purchased to provide an heir and for her dowry of land, is unhappily married to an older man. The husband and her father in law treat her cruelly and she becomes drawn to a young groomsman with whom she has an increasingly violent affair.

This 'Lady Macbeth' is adapted from a Russian short story and the film has the grim and dark atmosphere I often associate with Russian works.


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


'Churchill' focuses on a little known situation (to me) when Britain's wartime Prime Minister was at odds with the Military commanders regarding plans for the Normandy 'D-Day' invasion plans.

Brian Cox does a great job in the title role getting the PM's demeanour, body language and voice just right even if his vocal delivery is more a bellow than light and shade.

Quite interesting.


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

How not to succeed with the law

My friend A gave a textbook demonstration this week of how not to behave when stopped by a policeman.

She was pulled over for driving an unregistered car by a policeman with his sirens blaring and horns honking (according to A).

Her first response was to be excused as she had a hairdresser's appointment. Always a likely winning argument you wouldn't think.

Her second response was 'to say things (to him) that she probably shouldn't have' not knowing that she was being recorded.

Her third response was to plead ignorance. An argument that even I know from Movies 101 doesn't succeed.

Monday, 26 June 2017

'He's more Greek than Italian'

A brilliant line from 'My Cousin Rachel' which I can see myself using with a twinkle in my eye.

If you can't guess the line's meaning then I'll whisper it to you in the comments.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

My Cousin Rachel

Philip (Sam Claflin) an orphan who grows up to inherit his cousin's estate becomes infatuated with the latter's widow Rachel (Rachel Weisz).

'My Cousin Rachel' is a period thriller with an open ending. Was she or wasn't she malevolent? C who knew the story well felt there wasn't much edge to the suspense but he enjoyed the interpretation nonetheless. I knew nothing of the story and was more intrigued than C as to where the plot was headed.


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Easy Reader

I'm enjoying this book.

It is easy to read. The language is not overly academic. It is not set at intellectuals. It is warmhearted. It is honest. Chapters are introduced with an interesting photograph. The writing varies from narratives to jottings.

A bit like a blog really.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Strangers in Paradise

I enjoyed dinner and an evening with friends this week including M who lives in what might be called a designer suburb of Sydney.

Breakfast Point

Breakfast Point has arisen from the metaphorical ashes of an old gas works site. A new suburb of perhaps 3,000 residents in just under twenty years. The residential complexes are built around a number of community facilities including a sports oval and its adjacent sparklingly clean and organised Country Club.

M took us on a tour of the club before we moved on to a restaurant in a nearby 'non-designed' suburb. Each Friday evening the Country Club hosts nibbles and drinks for residents and their guests. Without any reflection on our good friend M it all felt a bit like stepping into the cinematic town of Stepford.

The Country Club

There were about thirty others in little groupings. One couple joined us, glasses of red wine in hand. He was particularly vocal dominating the conversation over his wife who remained mute, not lifting the glass to her lips.

'We couldn't wait to downsize' he informed us. 'Push the kids out and get our lives back' he continued. The 'kids', now aged in their thirties, live respectively in Canberra and Darwin, he said. One has provided a grandchild. The couple is estranged from their children and don't get to see the grandchild. 'Good riddance to them' was the unmistakeable unspoken summary.

This and other tidbits of sensational insider information was imparted to us - complete strangers to the couple - within minutes of meeting. Putting a final stamp on the conversation, the wife finally joined in. Lifting her glass to take an earthy sip of her wine she informed me in confidential tones, 'If I'd known how much trouble children are, I would never have had any'.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Route 389

I think bus route 389 in Sydney must be one of the city's most interesting services. It used to operate between Circular Quay in the city and North Bondi in the eastern suburbs but nearly two years ago the city end of the route was changed to the Maritime Museum on the western edge of the Darling Harbour precinct.

At the time I thought that the change was not particularly convenient for we eastern suburbs residents who more usually head for Circular Quay than for Darling Harbour.

This week I travelled that changed route for the first time and it proved an eye opener for me. Traversing Darling Harbour in itself is quite interesting visually but the real treat is passing through the village and cafe atmosphere in Jones Street Ultimo and the delights of the waterfront at Jones Bay and White Bay.

I tried hard to find a full map of the adjusted route to post but the best I could manage is the western half with the new Maritime Museum destination included.

The full route passes through, or close to, numerous village and cafe locales. Off the top of my head they include Bondi Beach, North Bondi, Dover Heights, Woollahra, Five Ways, East Sydney, the Central Business District, Darling Harbour and Jones Street.

It provides a great opportunity especially for holders of Seniors Opal Cards to use the service as a hop on/hop off service sampling various precincts along the way. I'm going to suggest that friends and I try it ourselves one day.

No wonder our Prime Minister called Route 389 his favourite bus service.

Travelling the full route, according to the timetable, takes around an hour and ten minutes at most times during the day.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The State

For someone who attends the cinema as often as I do it must be a surprise to others that I have never attended the Sydney Film Festival. Until this year, that is.

I booked to see five films but dropped one because of weather and transport difficulties. I enjoyed the four films I did end up seeing and am inspired to attend again next year.

Three of the four screenings I did attend were at Sydney's magnificent State Theatre. I sneaked a few snaps whilst there none of which does full justice to the venue. The link above has some lovely and better images but here are a few of mine taken whilst waiting for sessions to commence.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Holy Air

Sydney Film Festival

Adam (Shady Srour) is a Christian Arab in Nazareth struggling financially and in search of a lucrative business opportunity. He hits on the notion of selling 'Holy Air' to religious pilgrims somewhat to the dismay of his local priest who has his own interests in obtaining financial benefit from the tourism. At the same time Adam is dealing with the prospects of first time fatherhood and an unhappy Muslim partner in their struggling financial business.

Promoted in the Festival program as a comedy this plot sounded funnier on paper than what came across on screen. Perhaps it is a cultural thing.

Interesting to a point but some of the message was lost to me.


Sunday, 18 June 2017

I Love You Now

Darlinghurst Theatre Company

'I Love You Now' is a two hander, single act, theatre piece. It was written by Jeanette Cronin, one of the performers who is partnered on stage by Paul Gleeson.

Between them, Cronin and Gleeson, play eight characters - I think. Gleeson plays twin brothers, a Priest and a gym instructor. Cronin plays the wives of both brothers, a therapist and another woman involved with one or other or both of the brothers - I think.

The play is about the infidelity of these individuals and how the various relationships change over time.

There are in fact two other performers, musicians, behind a glass wall whose music prefaces and illustrates changes in scenes. The acting is very good but the structure of the play is very complex and we three came away somewhat confused as to exactly what we had witnessed.

Perhaps some surtitles would unravel the complexity?


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Call Me By Your Name

(2017 Sydney Film Festival)

In 1983 in Northern Italy an American Research Fellow (Armie Hammer) joins an academic family for a six weeks summer placement. The family's seventeen years old son Elio (Timothy Chalamet) at first resents the scholar's behaviour then seeks his attention as he finds himself attracted to him.

'Call Me By Your Name' paints an unhurried picture of Italian summer leisure.

Chalamet presents a fascinating air of insouciance until his character is struck by the full weight of his infatuation with Hammer's character.


Friday, 16 June 2017

The Party

(2017 Sydney Film Festival)

A newly elected Minister (Kristin Scott Thomas) has planned a small party for friends to celebrate her election. 'The Party' goes hideously off the rails as unexpected home truths are revealed.

This short (71 minutes long) feature film is humorously bitchy as well concealed twists are revealed.

A memorable dark comedy.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Mummy

A sarcophagus discovered in Iraq contains the mummified body of an Egyptian Princess. Soldier of fortune Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) seeks to capitalise on the finding only to be entangled in an ancient prophesy and imponderable terrors.

'The Mummy' passes through three phases. The first phase is pure adventure in the style of old Saturday afternoon at 'the flicks' serials. The second phase is an off the planet series of adventures. Finally the movie ends on a note of so many loose ends that sequels are clearly planned should box office returns justify.



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Descent into Sydney

Returning from New Zealand, we approached Sydney from the East, then the aeroplane banked North, flew up Sydney's northern peninsular, banked to the West, banked to the South and descended into Sydney Airport from the North.

Sydney Harbour, Bondi Beac and the Tasman Sea

ManlyBeach (ocean) and Manly Cove (harbourside)

Lane Cove River and Riverview

Hunters Hill

Stanmore and the green sports fields of Newington College

Monday, 12 June 2017

Auckland Art Gallery (Toi O Tamaki)

I love the beautiful blending of the old building and the new extension that comprises this Gallery and also how the design makes brings the external setting into view.