Hi! I just thought it would be nice to have a general 'noticeboard' post at the top of my journal, but right now I can't think of anything particularly interesting to say. Isn't that always the way?
If you're looking for my fic/vids, the links are at the side of the page and/or in my memories. I've written a lot of fic in various fandoms, but the things that I've done that seem to have been most popular to date are both vids - namely Brokeback Hospital (House MD, House/Wilson) and Cat's in the Cradle (House MD, Sherlock, Fortysomething). The vid I wished more people watched is Last Day of Your Life (Third Star, Miles/James), just because I adore the movie and that particular relationship.
I attended Oz Comic Con 2014, and have had my picture taken with the 'batch, but it was a weird thing for me to do and I'm still conflicted about it. I have issues *g*. My transcription of his (Sunday) talk may be found on tumblr here.
I generally love chatting to people on lj - feel free to drop me a comment if you think we have interests in common :)
26 May 2012 - After five years, I thought I might actually try HAVING a tagging system. Update (slowly) in progress. My memories are still the best index, for now. I'm now also on AO3.
Shows I'm currently fannish about: Sherlock, Cabin Pressure
Also currently fangirling: Benedict Cumberbatch, JJ Feild, Mark Gatiss, Chris Barrie, Philip Quast
Shows I watch regularly but not fannishly: Almost Human, Drop Dead Diva, Elementary, Hannibal, Hawaii 5-0, Luther, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Celebrity Apprentice.
Hi! I just thought it would be nice to have a general 'noticeboard' post at the top of my journal, but right now I can't think of anything particularly interesting to say. Isn't that always the way?
So there's this quiz show on the ABC (Australia's national broadcaster) that I rather enjoy called Hard Quiz. It's hosted by an entertainingly prickly comedian (Tom Gleeson) and starts with four contestants per show, the schtick being that they each have an "expert subject" to be quizzed on. The first round features each contestant being given five fairly easy questions about their expert subject to answer, while other contestants can buzz in to "steal" that answer for double points. Then there's a round of specialist questions on a random subject (say dinosaurs, or Australian Prime Ministers), after which one contestant is sent home. Then there's a round of "people's" questions (current affairs/pop culture/basic knowledge) followed by another exit. The remaining two contestants then go "head to head" with harder questions on their expert subjects. I've often thought if I were to go on this show I would obviously want to choose Sherlock. So far there have been experts in Buffy, The Simpsons and Modern Family, but I haven't seen Sherlock yet *g*
Anyway, while I'm several weeks behind on shows, I watched one yesterday and was highly amused when one contestant (Dave, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics) had chosen "Benedict Cumberbatch" as his expert subject. Even though I've fallen out of the Cumberbatch fandom for the most part I got all of his easy questions, plus two harder ones he didn't get. So I thought I'd share, for you would-be experts.
1. Cumberbatch earned his first BAFTA nomination in 2005 for his portrayal of which theoretical physicist?
2. In which Benedict Cumberbatch show are his character's parents played by his actual parents in recurring roles? (LOL - I think there are an exceedingly limited number of BC "shows" to pick from!)
3. Cumberbatch has expressed concerns that the cause of feminism was being set back by which collective name used by his fans?
(During the ensuing discussion, Dave mentioned he'd also heard "CumberOtters" as an alternative but could not - or possibly would not - explain why this might be a collective noun, saying only that it probably referred to "cute" fans because otters are cute :P)
4. In 2013, Cumberbatch played two roles in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and also played two roles in which long-running animated sitcom?
5. In 2015, the Queen appointed Cumberbatch as a Commander of what?
Head to head
1. Early in his career, Cumberbatch experimented with a change of name. What professional name did he take?
2. In a stage version of Frankenstein at the Royal National Theatre, Cumberbatch alternated the lead roles with which actor?
3. For scenes in Sherlock, where Holmes plays the violin, Cumberbatch was coached by a member of which best-selling band? (I would not have got this one, or even known her name, although I do know she wrote about it, lol.)
4. In a prank while filming Star Trek: Into Darkness, Cumberbatch was convinced he had to wear protective cream on a laboratory set. What was the protective cream called?
5. According to his high school drama teacher, a teenage Cumberbatch was strikingly mature as a saucy French maid in which farce? (Nope, although I recognised the title once I'd heard it.)
How did you go? For the record, Dave got all five of the first round but only one of the second round correct (2). He lost to the expert on Led Zeppelin *g*
Downsizing - they had me at the trailer, with Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig deciding to solve all their financial woes by literally "downsizing" to six inches tall, where they can have a luxurious lifestyle at a fraction of the cost. The trailer pretty much leaves it there, giving the impression that it's about some kind of ultimate lifestyle change and its repercussions, like those people who decide to be global nomads or live in tiny houses or some such. But after the initial set-up it takes a hard left into darker issues - hardcore environmental groups who want everyone to downsize to save the planet, middlemen who make their fortunes by converting "large" products for the smaller world, and despotic governments who see downsizing troublemakers involuntarily as a neat solution to their problems. They also hint at the uglier side of "regular" downsizing - where everyone lives like a king, where do you get the underclass to clean the houses and do the thankless service jobs? In short, it was a lot more complicated than the whimsical comedy it appeared to be on the surface. I don't think it quite reached the heights it was aiming for - it was too lightly filmed for that, and the premise is intrinsically a bit smile-inducing - but it did have interesting ideas that went a lot further than, "hey, what if we could shrink people"?
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - I enjoyed this a lot, probably more than I should have. Nuanced, self-contradictory characters shouldn't really be a big deal but I guess it says a lot about typical Hollywood movies that they seemed to be much more interesting than average. Of all the Academy Award nominees for Best Picture that I actually saw, I would have given it to this one.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle - I like Jack Black a lot, and the Rock is fun, don't judge me. Did pretty much exactly what I expected, neither more or less. Which was to deliver light, fluffy entertainment with a feel-good ending.
I, Tonya - I remember the attack on Kerrigan when it happened, and the redneck vs princess boxes Harding and Kerrigan were put into at the time, which were apparently not completely true. I only have a passing interest in figure skating, and I know the movie is meant to be overly sympathetic to Harding, but I really enjoyed it as a "based on a true story" piece. Margot Robbie did a great job, and it was thoroughly compelling. I think it says something about the sheltered life I've led that I still find it shocking that any objectively successful, talented woman would fall into and continue a relationship that involved domestic abuse. Intellectually, I get that people can be weak in some places and strong in others, and that abusers are often manipulators, but I don't emotionally comprehend it (which I realise I should be grateful for). And I'm sure she gave some of her own back as well, but in the movie it bothered me almost as much as the attack.
Welcome to Night Vale: All Hail (live show, Sydney Opera House) - I've only listened to a handful of Night Vale shows, and read the transcripts of maybe 20-odd more, but the show has such a cult following I thought it'd be fun. Judging from the reaction of the fans, it was a great show for them. Whereas I thought it resembled a university revue that had been put together over a drunken weekend - that's actually unfair, I've seen some very clever university revues. But here there was far too much made of far too little substance. I did enjoy the skit with one of the writers that involved a complex rumination about time travel and avoidance of responsibility, but otherwise there was little memorable about it, and there were some small technical and vocal hitches that made the show feel like what there was of it hadn't even been properly rehearsed. It's nice that the true fans enjoyed it (and they were there, in cosplay and everything), but never again
Follies (NT Live) - Philip Quast and Imelda Staunton OMG. The catch being, of course, that this level of casting naturally raises expectations high, inviting subsequent disappointment. I'm very pleased to say that did not happen. Now, I'm not a big fan of this show as such (knew many of the songs quite well, but have never seen it performed) but it was brilliant, moving, all the superlatives. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, it's notionally about the reunion of the "Weismann Girls" (revue/burlesque performers) in a crumbling theatre, remnants of a former glorious age. It's a general tribute to the era intertwined with the stories of two couples who attend the reunion - Phyllis and Ben, Sally and Buddy. Structurally I found much of the first half a bit of a random walk through past and present, spiced with nostalgic side trips, and it seemed as though it would continue that way pleasantly enough throughout, but then everything suddenly snapped together like a bear trap covered in feathers and it hurt. Ouch and yes, and I think I'm finally old enough to appreciate this show for what it says about life, love and relationships. And again, ouch.
The Shape of Water - Hmm. This contained so many of my favourite things - a world dominated by water and the colour green, beautifully shot, and about misfits and outsiders struggling in an enviroment not made for them. And I did enjoy it, very much, but it didn't speak to me as much as I thought and/or hoped it would. I know it was meant to have a fairytale quality, but it felt too pat, too overdetermined for something that also attempted to mimic a certain level of realism. I also thought there were too many loose threads and underdeveloped characters for it to be truly gripping. I don't know. As I say, very much enjoyed, many beautiful moments, but still not really for me. It would be difficult to ever match Pan's Labyrinth, but even Crimson Peak appealed to my personal kinks so much more.
In the Heights (Hayes Theatre) - I was a bit dubious about an Australian production of this show, much less a relatively low-budget version in a tiny theatre, but they pulled it off admirably. Sydney has an incredibly diverse population, and while not all of the cast were of Hispanic descent, most of them were, and the remaining cast were at least non-Anglo. Result being a lot of very talented people I'd never seen on stage before (or at least not in featured roles). American-infused accents were fine to my ear - probably easier to pull off while singing and rapping, and given the setting the small theatre and set rather worked in the show's favour than against it. As a musical I thought the lyrics ranged from "omg brilliant" to "if you say ninety-six thousand one more time I WILL SCREAM" but the music and sheer energy held it all together. Absolutely fantastic production of an imperfect, but authentic, brash and passionate musical. Particularly enjoyed Ryan Gonzales (Uznavi), Tim Omaji (Benny), Monique Montez (Daniela) and Ana Maria Belo (Camila). (I just discovered from googling the cast names that Belo is also deaf and uses hearing aids. She was fantastic - I did notice her voice was very slightly unusual, but would never have known.) Glad that I got to see a version of this, even if it's a long way from home. I felt that it wasn't a musical "for me" as such - I think LMM's tribe would have been thrilled with it and understood it on a level I never will - but it was still very accessible and universal in its themes.
And that's mostly it. Oh, and I also read Aciman's Call Me By Your Name just for the sake of it, the same way I shouldered my way through Twilight just to make sure I wasn't secretly missing something really amazing (in the case of Twilight: I wasn't). It was a rough start - I actually deserted it mid-way through in favour of reading Helter-Skelter, a creepy but fascinating account of the Manson murders - but managed to circle back before it was due back at the library. And surprisingly, I did find some of it quite good and worthwhile, just not the bits I was expecting. The setup of the love story was - for me - every bit as lacking in conviction as in the movie. It feels very much about the summer Elio falls in love with himself - for all the supposed passion, I still got a "told, not shown" vibe about it. It just didn't leave me convinced of the attraction from Elio's point of view or from Oliver's. Like the movie, Elio's relationship with Marzia feels much more authentic, and it's not like I have any preference for hetero couples. So that left me completely cold, no surprise there. However I did enjoy some parts very much - which were all pretty much glossed over or left out in the film. I thought the character of Vimini - the child dying of leukemia who Oliver befriends - was essential to the themes of the book and think it would have added so much if she had been included, in tandem with a much more lengthy and complex ending than "Oliver leaves and announces he's getting married". Then it wouldn't have been so much a rather uninspiring love story as a meditation on choices made and not made, and lives lived and not lived - hinted at in Elio's father's speech, but imo without Vimini never fully realised in the movie. Another part that was magical was Elio's night in Rome, caught up in the sweep of adulthood as in one endless night he follows along from book-signing to restaurant to bar, and through the streets of Rome. Oliver was really only incidental to this part, but I felt that Aciman captured the sharp thrill of a post-adolescent world suddenly opening up in all directions. The third thing that surprised me in a good way was that Elio and Oliver do meet again, over and over, and both move on in their own ways - but for Elio especially, part of him still seems "trapped" in that time, never to move on, much like Vimini, who never makes it to adulthood. Thematically, I liked those ideas very much and felt they gave the book a balance and depth which I found lacking in the movie. So I do give the novel a grudging nod of appreciation for the last two chapters, but I sadly still do not give a damn about the "love story" that was the main feature of the movie.
Just got back from a holiday in New Zealand, which was as picturesque as you'd imagine and more so. Will probably put all that in a separate post. But the sense of space and endless lakes and mountains was amazing - there aren't many places in the world I've visited that feel as though people have barely touched them.
A couple of leftover movies from last year:
The Killing of a Sacred Deer - this was written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, who also wrote and directed The Lobster. There's something about his off-kilter worldview I find irresistible, which is the main reason I saw this. At heart, it's a revenge tale about a surgeon, Steven (Colin Farrell) who has everything - successful career, beautiful wife (Nicole Kidman) and family, and an enigmatic teenage boy Martin (Barry Keoghan) whose late father was operated on by Steven under questionable circumstances. It has all of the odd, inexplicable quirks of The Lobster, meaning that if you tend to nitpick, "but how did...", there will be no satisfactory answers. However, I love his style so much that I can actually go with it for once *g*
One thing I noticed here that escaped me in The Lobster (but was present in hindsight) is that he has his actors speak in this stylised, almost monotonic way, at which Colin Farrell is particularly accomplished, but they all did this, even the children. The writing also did remind me somewhat of theatre, something about the measured pacing of it, the rhythms. One unexpected benefit was that I enjoyed Nicole Kidman in this much more than I usually do - I'd never realised the way she talked was one of the things I disliked about her acting, but having her speech reshaped in this way made her much more palatable. The net effect is that the movie is this bizarre, surrealistic thing, while the actors all sound extraordinarily matter-of-fact about everything. I don't know, the movie definitely risks the charge of being arty and pretentious, but it's totally the kind of arty and pretentious that works for me.
Call Me By Your Name - oh dear. I did originally feel this was not at all my kind of thing, despite the m/m romance, but it's received such hype and enthusiasm I thought I should reconsider. Yeah, I should probably trust my instincts in future *g*. I will spare you all by putting the
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Pitch Perfect 3 - first movie of 2018. Loved it and had a thoroughly good time. Pretty people, much lovely and completely gratuitous singing, great choreography, ridiculous plot, Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson. John Lithgow doing an appalling Australian accent. Girl power, friends sticking together, a touch of melancholy to cut through the sweetness, but otherwise all the joys of silliness and fun. It exceeded expectations in that it was far better than it strictly needed to be for me to enjoy it. Also, Rebel Wilson should do action movies - she is totally convincing *g*
Have finally entered the 21st century by signing up to a streaming service (Stan). Watched What We Do in the Shadows, Taika Waititi's vampire sharehouse mockumentary, which was delightful. I refused to see it when it came out because I had had it up to here with vampires, but apparently, like versions of Sherlock Holmes, there's always room for one more. Loved the prissy werewolves as well. OMG. Also partway through Electric Dreams (the Philip K Dick short story adaptations, not the 80s computer-girl romance). Have found them to be big on budget, but not particularly well written (imo, obviously). Always great to see Steve Buscemi and Anna Paquin, though. Also started watching The Thick of It (British political comedy featuring Peter Capaldi) which is wincingly funny.
The mention of Capaldi reminds me that I also watched Twice Upon a Time (the Doctor Who Christmas special) pretty much just to see Mark Gatiss. I enjoyed it in a vaguely nostalgic way - I haven't watched Doctor Who on a regular basis since Tom Baker. I do like Capaldi in general much better than Tennant or Smith though.
What have y'all been watching/reading?
Blade Runner: 2049 - liked the original, although not with the same reverence as some. So I tended to watch this half as a stand-alone rather than a continuation, and on that level it worked well. Although I did really love that they extended the "future" already shown in the original, rather than making it too much about today, so that it had that feeling of carrying forward the preoccupations of the "past future" world, if that even makes sense. Retro and futuristic at the same time.
Loved seeing Harrison Ford again, the tension between humans and replicants and the blurry lines around their respective characteristics was interesting as always. One of the characters reminded me irresistibly ofindybaggins, which was entertaining in itself. The "world" didn't make sense to me at times, like the deserted area and building around the "bubble girl" and how she fits into that society, but was vibrant and interesting. I do like science fiction that is by and large less flashy and blasty and more thinky, so I appreciated that.
Murder on the Orient Express - saw this mainly for Branagh and the amazing cast. It didn't work for me as a book adaptation - I think if you'd never read the book it would be somewhat unsatisfying in terms of clues and the piecing together of the actual mystery. But I love Branagh's extravagant eye for scenery and his general earnestness in storytelling. It's almost quaint nowadays, and I adore it. Cast of course were really fun to watch as well - Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad. The first 15 minutes or so, and its introductory "mini-mystery" was slick and super-flashy, imo much more inspired by modern Sherlock than in the spirit of Hercule Poirot. But nevertheless extremely entertaining.
Beautiful - The Carole King story - good script, great cast, so a pleasant enough experience, but the laziest jukebox musical I've ever seen. There was very little attempt to let the songs "tell" the story in any sense - generally it was King or one of her friends sitting at a piano and saying, "hey, listen to this song I wrote" or "let's work on a song!", sometimes segueing into bands reprising her songs on stage - which really isn't the most inspiring or cohesive way to present what's supposed to be a musical based on her life. It was nice to see a tribute to a quiet songwriter, rather than a big flashy entertainer, but made the musical rather mousy as well. Was staged in a 2,000-seat theatre - may have suited an intimate space better.
Culture Club - hey, they still exist! I think Boy George is taking up residence in Australia, so I guess why not tour. I did/do really enjoy the songs, and had great company, so it was a really fun evening, and it's always interesting to experience a new venue (the 8,000-capacity ICC at Darling Harbour). However, the sound was very harsh on the ears, Boy George's voice isn't what it used to be, and I swear to you his ego was large enough to reach to the very back of the venue (where we were sitting). The rest of the band barely got a mention (the backup singers were introduced early in the show, and the band completely ignored until the end) so it was more "Boy George plus some other people who were also there". I still love the old songs, but came away rather actively disliking Boy George. Sad! *g*
The Bodybag - another Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott production, being a sendup of "The Bodyguard". Trevor Ashley still has a great voice and stage presence (he starred as "Rachel Marinade" and wore slinky sequins throughout), and I loved Gus Murray as the ex-ASIO agent turned Uber driver, but the script was a bit weak. Their first co-production, Fat Swan, was absolutely brilliant, but this one felt like they drafted it in a weekend and went, "okay, that'll do". It tried to play off the movie/musical without having its own clear internal storyline, which made it feel more like a series of skits loosely joined together. Was okay, but would probably hesitate to see their next production.
Muriel the Musical - :D This was one I walked away from thinking that I liked, not loved it, but in the past week the music has kept playing in my head, and I am going to buy the OCR once it comes out. Which means I really think I loved it after all *g*.
I don't know how well Muriel's Wedding is known overseas, but it's a defining Australian movie that was Toni Collette's breakout role. Muriel is an overweight, plain girl living in the little town of Porpoise Spit, who consoles herself by listening to ABBA and dreaming of one day becoming a beautiful bride. She tries to fit in with the popular girls who disdain her for her appearance, her lack of fashion sense, her general dagginess. Desperate to fit in, she steals her parents' chequebook (the musical is updated, so it's a credit card there) and books herself on the same holiday that her not-friends are on. They are predictably appalled to see her there. However, she bumps into an old classmate, Rhonda, who left Porpoise Spit the moment she was able, and finds a new friend.
It sounds like a feel-good show, and it is on one level, but at the same time the movie (and musical) are very, very dark, and not in the usual "surmountable" ways. Terrible things happen that there's simply no coming back from, and it's somewhat head-spinning that the movie and musical still manage to still be joyous and uplifting at heart. It also contains many lines that are imprinted on the Australian cultural consciousness: "You're terrible, Muriel" - "Who do you think you are to call me that?! I'm married! I'm beauuuutiful" (screeched by the head mean girl) - "Goodbye, Porpoise Spit!". Anyway, I will bombard you with videos, because I love it so much. It is very, very Australian in tone - it deserves to go overseas, but I'll be very curious how it translates if it ever does. Hell, it's such a love letter to Sydney, I'll even be curious what Melbourne makes of it :D
Sunshine State of Mind
Here Comes the Bride
The Disaster Artist - Saw mainly for James Franco, who was unrecognisable. Not my usual kind of film, but thoroughly enjoyed it. Deserves the Golden Globe nomination, imo. In a way it's still a love letter to Hollywood, but more like the kind written by a crazed stalker.
Sucked in by all the hype around Call Me By Your Name, so planning to see it next week. The trailer still left me kind of meh, but James Ivory screenplay is a plus. I also want to see Downsizing and Pitch Perfect 3 *g*
But hey, Thor: Ragnarok was fun! :D Bearing in mind that I am not intrinsically a Marvel fan, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I adored that it had a Kiwi director, and some of the humour had a very Australasian feel to it - I know in the broader sense funny is funny, but there's still a distinctive cultural element to it. It was also a joy seeing so many Aussies and Kiwis in a major movie (plus of course, Hiddles and Cumberbatch).
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Anyway, fantastic cast (including Taika himself) and fun movie. Didn't even think of falling asleep.
Other things I've watched lately:
Kingsman: The Golden Circle - really enjoyed this, in some ways more than the first one. Julianne Moore was a delightful villain, and was great to see some familiar faces. I was worried this might be too "American" given its theme, but I thought it stayed true to its origins, and picked up all the existing plot threads - even minor ones - in a a very satisfying way.
LEGO Ninjago movie - hmm, having trouble remembering much about this one, but it was good for what it was. Lloyd and his group of mates are Ninjago warriors who must battle the evil Garmadon... who also happens to be Lloyd's dad. Bummer. I vaguely remember it being fun, and very much enjoyed the framing story featuring Jackie Chan (and his cat).
I am Not Your Negro - documentary on an unfinished project by James Baldwin about major figures in the civil rights struggle - Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers (who I'd never heard of). Obviously to me this is far less personal than it would be to Americans, especially African-Americans, but I found it very interesting and quite a startling reminder that segregation really wasn't that long ago. I was particularly struck by the young girl going to a "white school" for the first time, head held high, surrounded by police/guards, while white adults screamed abuse and spat at her. How low do you have to be to do that to a child? Anyway, I mainly went to see it because one of James Baldwin's short stories was in my English syllabus ("Previous Condition"), which I really liked.
Miracle City (Nick Enright, Max Lambert)- an unusual Australian musical, mainly because it's about a "day in the life" of an American televangelical family. It's true that when I was a kid, we did get a lot of the American "praise the lord" stuff in the early hours of the morning, so it's not unfamiliar to a generation of Australians. Anyway, Miracle City pretty much takes place over one episode of Reverend Truswell and his family's long-running TV show. This week they have a very special guest in the form of ageing-but-influential Reverend Sizemore, who they are honoured to have on. The Truswells are a picture-perfect Christian family - Ricky Truswell is charismatic and charming, as is his lovely "platinum blonde" wife, Lora Lee. They have two devout and equally attractive children in Loretta (sweet sixteen) and Billy Bob. The family's dream is to open their Christian theme park - Miracle City - but they're running dangerously low on funds. Reverend Sizemore offers to save their foundering dream - if he can have the hand of their teenage daughter in marriage.
Nick Enright is a beloved Australian playwright, and the story didn't disappoint - I really liked that for all intents and purposes the musical seems like it's going to be about one thing, but ends up being about something completely different. The music was not particularly memorable, but on-point and entertaining, and the cast was great. Well worth seeing.
Currently reading Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King. Not sure what to make of it yet - it's epic, and entertaining, but I'm not yet entirely on board.
Quick media summary:
Wonder Woman (yes, this is going waaay back now) - I used to watch the TV series as a kid, but was still not terribly enthused about the movie, just because I reached my superhero limit a while back. But I did actually enjoy it, which was surprising and a nice change. Exceeded expectations.
1984 - this was the Australian staging of Robert Icke's London production, and I knew the reviews had been mixed, but I love the book so was still looking forward to it. There were some great moments - especially O'Brien, who was basically channelling dark!Mycroft - but I thought this production rather fell under the category of "too clever for its own good".
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Cloud Nine (Caryl Churchill) - Very interesting production of a play that toys with the ideas of gender, race and identity. The first part is set in colonial Africa, in which a prim, white, upper-class household is filled with people all longing for the freedom to be something or someone else. The female nanny is in love with the mistress of the house, while she lusts after her husband's male friend, who in turn fancies their houseboy. Meanwhile, the husband is having an affair with another woman, and the little boy just wants to grow up and be a man. But the housewife is played by a man, the little boy by a mature-age woman, the husband's upper-class friend by a black man, and the house servant by a white man.
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Atomic Blonde - I would never have gone to see this, but was offered free tickets, and hey, Charlize Theron and James MacAvoy, why not? And it was actually pretty good, mainly due to Charlize Theron kicking serious ass. It's basically spy thriller crossed with action movie, where she does everything a typical male spy would - including sleeping with a mysterious femme fatale - except in awesome outfits. Also gets points for the 80s setting, in Berlin just before the Wall fell, with an atmospheric soundtrack to boot. It made the 80s seem way cooler than I remember them being at the time, full of moody blue lighting and synth beats. James MacAvoy was good, but his role wasn't really all that important. John Goodman was in there as well as her grumpy boss, and he was great.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (NT Live screening) - I studied this in high school and enjoyed its rhythms, but it didn't have the same weight it does seeing it now. Went mainly for Imelda Staunton, who was flat out INCREDIBLE. Even on the screen - or maybe especially on the screen, I have no comparison - she was a force of nature. People often write "her eyes flashed", but I don't think I've ever seen it demonstrated quite so vividly before. She was sweet, seductive, and terrifying. When Nick and Honey finally leave, I was reminded of the aftermath of a horror movie, where the survivors finally stagger out into the sunlight, bloodied and beaten but still alive. But of course in this one, the monster still manages to elicit sympathy.
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The Book of Mormon (Princess Theatre, Melbourne) - I went down to Melbourne for a conference (long story), and thought I'd try the Lottery since I'd already seen it in London and didn't mind too much if I happened to miss out on seeing the show entirely. I won! Eeeee! (It means you can buy front row seats for $40, yes please and thank you.). Anyway, this was a really fun time as always - I liked this production a little better than the one in London, mainly because our Arnold Cunningham was much more ungainly - the actor in London was so conventionally attractive that he didn't have much to work with *g*. Everything was top-notch, as you'd hope, and the front row was a fantastic place to be. Will probably see again when it comes to Sydney.
Bernadette Robinson - The Show Goes On (Opera House) - I've followed Bernadette Robinson's career since the 90s - she's basically a cabaret-style singer who specialises in vocal impersonations, and she's amazing at what she does. This show was loosely based around Judy Garland talking about her life (as well as singing The Trolley Song) and going on to introduce fellow divas like Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews, Shirley Bassey (singing a glorious Diamonds are Forever), Piaf, Patsy Cline, and an amazing Maria Callas. Just think of what it takes for someone to be able to sing like Shirley Bassey, Patsy Cline AND Maria Callas, and you'll have some idea of her sheer vocal technique. There was also a "duet" between Judy Garland and Julie Andrews that had to be heard to be believed. I am pretty sure she could just have been an opera singer, but I've read that she enjoyed the challenge of the different vocal styles. Solidly entertaining, as always.
The Dark Tower - wow, way to end on a low note. Aiyiyi. Not even Idris Elba could save this one, sorry. It bore the same resemblance to the Dark Tower book series as a porn version of Harry Potter might to its source material. Like, you know who the characters are meant to be, and they kind of have the personalities you'd expect, and there's a superficial attempt at recreating the vibe of the thing, but nothing that happens in it remotely resembles the text. I was more bemused by it than anything else. Entertaining in its own YA way, but a bit... silly. Please, no sequels. Try a TV mini-series instead.
Wait, that reminded me of something that really was good - I recently read Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (now host of The Daily Show) and it was both dazzlingly entertaining and thought-provoking. I know very little about what apartheid-era life in South Africa was actually like, and it was fascinating to hear about it from his unique perspective. Not only has he had an amazing life, but he really knows how to tell a story. I thought this was so worth reading I've been pushing it onto people, and I can't remember the last time I did that. So let me also recommend it to you all now :)
Lazy. And busy. Mostly lazy. But a quick run-down of stuff, some six weeks old now:
Mr Burns, a Post-Electric Play (Anne Washburn) - Belvoir Theatre
Some unnamed apocalypse has devastated the earth, and the survivors attempt to reconstruct popular culture, one group beginning with the Simpsons episode "Cape Feare". (If you're a Simpsons fan, you will recall this as the one where Sideshow Bob escapes from prison, kidnaps Bart, trips over a few rakes, and sails down the river giving a lone rendition of the entire score of HMS Pinafore - I loved it.). A few years later, travelling reconstructions of various Simpsons episodes (presumably together with other shows and plays) tour the countryside, exchanging "repertoire" in the form of episodes and remembered lines, all jealously guarded. A hundred years on, the reclaimed scraps of popular culture have morphed into some bizarre quasi-religious performance.
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Dream Empire - Sydney Film Festival
This was a documentary about the rise and fall of the Chinese real estate dream, told through the story of Yana, a girl from the countryside who came to Chongqing hoping to make something of herself and send money home to her impoverished parents. She finds a job in the promotion machine for new apartment sales, which are grand events featuring performing foreigners - "singers", "musicians", "models", "dancers" - to show how progressive and cosmopolitan the apartments are. Yana's job is basically to go around to pubs and recruit as many white (and black) people as she can, train them to put on a show of some kind, and "sell" their performances to real estate developers. These are known to said foreigners as "white monkey shows", and the documentary itself was made by one of the "white monkeys", a Danish guy called David Borenstein (also a passable saxophone player). The performances are pretty dismal - in some cases, hilariously terrible - but do their job in helping sell the apartments. But since many of the apartments are in the middle of nowhere, with no infrastructure and no jobs nearby, the boom can't last forever...
It was a film that touched on so many interesting things - the rapid growth of China, urban migration, the sheer overweening ambition of real estate developers, ghost cities, the status of women in China, naivety and exploitation, and a mirror-world where white people only exist as promotional gimmicks. Disturbing, but fascinating.
Liberation Day - Sydney Film Festival
In 2015, ex-Yugoslavian band Laibach (the Guardian describes them as "art-rock", so I'll go with that) were somehow invited to perform in North Korea, making them the first "Western" band to do so. The result is a mix of travelogue, music documentary, and satire, only it's difficult to be sure where one ends and another begins. Laibach appear to have made their name in populating their songs and cover versions with extreme facist imagery, but with the aim of subversion, not promotion. However, it's difficult to know exactly how the North Koreans perceive them, or why they chose them to come. Wildly entertaining and very, very strange.
Laibach's version of "Do-Re-Mi" (apparently The Sound of Music is big in North Korea, so part of their performance included a medley) is enough to give any child nightmares. But their English rendition of "Mt Paektu" is great, with the lead singer's growling bass declaring, "We’ll go in springtime / we’ll go in winter too / we'll go in our dreams /we’ll go at any time.
God's Own Country - Sydney Film Festival
Marketed as a British Brokeback Mountain, but really nothing of the kind. A romance between a lonely Yorkshire sheep farmer (don't laugh) and a Romanian labourer who comes to work for him. I liked it well enough, but I have to say that I noticed that it was one of those films where the pathetic grumpy racist white English Johnny's journey is all that matters, and the gorgeous and capable Gheorghe, who outclasses him in every way apart from "not being English", exists only to guide Johnny along the path to self-actualisation without having a significant or meaningful story of his own. Maybe I should give it a pass because it's a gay film, but I can't, sorry. Despite the tragic gay trope, if we're comparing, I'd still say Brokeback Mountain was the better film.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead - NT Live screening
Starring Joshua McGuire as Guildenstern and Daniel Radcliffe as Rosencrantz. I thoroughly enjoyed this without loving it to pieces. It's probably the best version I've seen, in terms of hitting most - not all - of the beats that I wanted it to hit, but still lacking something. McGuire was great, but Radcliffe was fine without having any particular energy to him. I'd like to pair McGuire's Guildenstern with Tim Minchin's Rosencrantz from the Sydney Theatre Company production a few years back - then there might be sparks. The Player King was good, but the rest of the cast were once again acting in different plays - the King, Gertrude, and Ophelia straight down the line, Hamlet subtly satirical, Polonius with a foot in both camps. I really enjoyed Hamlet's take once I warmed up to what he was doing, then realised during the credits he was played by Luke Mullins, who stole the show in Sydney Theatre Company's Waiting for Godot. And another one runs off to London *g*
Only Heaven Knows (Alex Harding) - Hayes Theatre
That rarest of creatures, a revival of a 1988 boy-meets-boy Australian musical. Set in the 1940s, it shows fresh-faced Tim leaving his disapproving aunt and uncle for the seedy glamour of Sydney's King's Cross (our red-light district and drug hub). There he settles in, finds a job, makes a few friends - supportive landlady Guinea, raging queen Lana, arch Alan - and takes a lover, Cliff (still illegal back then, of course). At first it's all parties and good times, but then darker questions emerge. Alan isn't sure he wants to be gay and dabbles in shock aversion therapy while Lana worries about him, and Tim wants to go to London to pursue his playwriting dream, while Cliff wants them to buy a house together and settle down. Guinea just wants everyone to pay their rent and be happy.
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Despicable Me 3
I have issues with these films, but I went anyway, lured by Trey Parker as 80s-throwback villain, Balthazar Bratt (think Rubik's cubes, bubble gum, lycra, and sweatbands). It was charming in parts, but I... still have issues with these films.
Title: Remembering Redbeard
Characters/Pairings: Mycroft Holmes & Sherlock Holmes, Eurus Holmes (referenced)
Word count: 3,900
Warnings/contents: family issues, brotherly love, kidlock
Notes: Inspired by donut_donut, who asked why Mycroft didn't just tell Sherlock who Redbeard was. This brought up a related question that's always bothered me, which is why Mycroft chooses to remind Sherlock of Redbeard on the day of John's wedding, which could be seen as - in my opinion, uncharacteristically - cruel. This fic may or may not provide satisfactory answers, but I still liked the idea enough to write it.
Summary: “So…” Sherlock glanced at him, then away, staring sightlessly out the window, “…does that mean I’ll go crazy too?"
Eurus' song is ended, but her melody lingers on.
Read at AO3.