An Irish Interval in My Midlife Gap Year – Part 2: 8 – 12 October 2015

Thursday 8 October I’m enjoying another quiet day in the Irish countryside. I’m writing emails to friends I might visit in the States, while chatting and hanging out with my friend and host, Cornelia, as she does stuff around the house. We Skype our mutual friend Jim – who we find fireside on an Australian spring evening with a glass of red wine in his hand. He waxes on about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the book by Marie Kondo which his daughter has given him. We ask him to show us around his place to see the results …

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Free Solo – 4.5 out of 5 (Film 8 of 2019)

I’ve given this film 4.5 stars because I’m sure if I tried I could find a flaw. Seeing Free Solo is the most visceral, immersive movie-going experience I’ve had in a long time. Going into the cinema I know our free-solo climber, Alex, won’t fall to his death. Despite knowing this my palms are sweaty throughout and there are times I just have to close my eyes. I don’t suffer from vertigo (if you do, needless to say, don’t see this film) but I’m not great with heights either. Considering that the ultimate tension which might come with the question of …

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Green Book – 3 out of 5 (Film 7 of 2019)

The problem with Green Book is it tells the story from the wrong point-of-view. Well, that and it feels like a big-budget, well-acted Hallmark movie. Everything is obvious. This is  storytelling for people who can’t really pay attention or maintain interest if anything gets a bit complex or challenging (Edit: which is meant as a criticism of the filmmakers not those who enjoyed the film). It was fine but could have been so so so much more. Let me get back to my first point. I had never heard of Dr Don Shirley and that is a damn shame. What we …

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Beach No 56: North Curl Curl (27 January 2019)

If you’ve been following this blog you may be thinking, “Wait a second. Wasn’t your last beach number 54 Newport?” And if you are thinking that – well spotted. Number 55 is North Cronulla. In a couple of weeks, I’m attending a 1st birthday party near Cronulla. That party is on a Sunday and I hope to visit North Cronulla then. It’s cheating, yes, but they are my rules so I can bend them when I wish. Rain showers are predicted for the afternoon but it’s sunny, hot, and humid when I leave home. I’m happy Google has suggested a …

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Roma – 4 out of 5 (Film 6 of 2019)

Eventually I’ll see another film with a really strong story to tell but in the meantime I’ll keep going to see gorgeously shot films with something missing. That is, films like Roma. Is it beautiful? Yes, it’s beautiful. And, yes, I was immersed in a world I knew nothing of – that of a well-off family and their servants in Mexico City in the 1970s.  But the film – all 2h 15m of it – is a deep recreation of one person’s past and the camera lingers and caresses this replica of the writer/director’s childhood. I wish the story was …

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Mary, Queen of Scots – 3 out of 5 (Film 5 of 2019)

I’m giving Mary, Queen of Scots 3 out of 5 stars.  It’s my 5th film in the cinema for 2019 and the 2nd directed by a woman – Josie Rourke, a theatre director making her film debut. The film is beautifully shot. Margot Robbie is magnificent. The costuming and makeup are excellent. But I think the writing is weak and that Saoirse Ronan just isn’t quite up to the role – she didn’t seem forceful enough, maybe. I’ve liked her in other things and I’m not faulting her acting. My criticism is more around the casting or, perhaps, the directing. I …

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Beach No 54: Newport (13 January 2019)

I wake to another grey Sunday but when I leave for Newport Beach, the sky has mostly cleared. The #423 bus takes me from King Street (Newtown) to Martin Place. I walk to Wynyard and catch the #B1 bus to the end of that line in Mona Vale. There, I use my 15-minute wait to eat most of the lunch I’ve brought along and then get the #199 bus to Newport Beach. It’s taken me about two hours. On the one hand, that’s a pain in the ass. On the other, straight forward, efficient, clean, and safe public transportation has …

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The Mirror (1975) – Impenetrable, sure, but beautiful

I’m trying to get back into seeing the free films at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Gallery has a large, beautiful theater where they screen films related to current exhibitions. Now they are screening a series called Cosmic Futures: Visionary Russian Cinema  in relation to the show Masters of Modern Art from The Hermitage. This is how my 4th film of 2019 came to be The Mirror a film made by Andrei Tarkovsky in the Soviet Union in 1975. Mirror Zerkalo Tarkovsky trailer from Budapest Film Zrt. on Vimeo. If you prefer films which tell a narrative story, this is not a …

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Kusama – Infinity (Movie 3 of 2019) A tale of trial, perseverance, and fragility

3.75/5 My 2018 mission of seeing all the female directed films continues into 2019 with Kusama – Infinity. This is a documentary about artist Yayoi Kusama by Heather Lenz. I like seeing documentaries about people I really don’t know much about. I’d heard of Yayoi Kusama – but what I knew was: Japanese, dots, lives in a mental hospital, and that I’d read this article in Vice which left me with the impression that she might be a little bit racist. The film by offers a fascinating look at Kusama’s life, art, and travails – especially in relation to the …

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Narrabeen: Beach No 53 – Around the Lagoon and Other Things on 6 January 2019

On the first Sunday of the year I decided that, regardless of the weather, I would go to Narrabeen Beach – the next beach in my alphabetical list. And that, in going to Narrabeen on the first Sunday of the year, I would set myself up to go to the beach every Sunday for the rest of the summer. It was not to a promising beach day. I set off in a misting rain on the M30 bus from Newtown to Neutral Bay where I transferred to the B1 to Narrabeen. I read The Hate Race, listened to the German …

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Movie 2 of 2019: The Favourite – A weird, charming, disquieting film.

4.25/5 Some trailers tell you too much about the film, others skip right over major plot points – the trailer for The Favourite falls soundly in the latter category. I had read nothing, but seen the trailer several times and had heard good things. It was good, very good, while also not being what I expected. All three women in the main roles are excellent – especially Olivia Colman as Queen Anne. I haven’t seen Olivia in many things but when I have (Broadchurch) I have loved her. I think the Oscar-buzz around her performance is a fair call. Look, it’s …

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