Sunday, February 6, 2011

A whole day of culture

Recently, a friend invited me to spend the day with her exploring some free exhibitions in the city of Melbourne. I’m on school holidays I thought, why not.

After navigating my way out of the eastern suburbs on bus and train, the wonderful steps of Flinders St were before me. First stop: ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) and the video installation, The Raft by Bill Viola We came in halfway through the video, which having seen the whole thing I was glad about as I could go back and think about what had happened. The video is less than 10 mins but what the people go through in the one shot scene seems to go on forever. I found it really powerful and thought provoking.

From ACMI, our journey continued to the State Library of Victoria. After a coffee at Mr Tulk, the library’s café, we ventured upstairs to the exhibition, Mirror of the World: Books and Ideas It was enchanting to be walking amongst books of such importance and which such history. It’s prompted me to investigate the Penguin Great Ideas series further, though I must confess it’s the type of reading I aspire to but seldom engage in.

The library was followed by a photographic and text exhibition at the City Gallery It explored the presence of religion in Melbourne with an emphasis on the monotheistic religions and their places of worship in the CBD and inner suburbs.

Transport and Movida Next Door provided nourishment of a more physical kind and rounded off the day perfectly.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Wow, I can understand what he wrote! It had to be all that highly dramatic and explictly expressive acting.

The Comedy of Errors is playing in the Royal Botanical Gardens at the moment. It’s set in 3 or 4 different locations in Ephesus (Ancient Greece) utilising one stage/set and some groovy music. The costumes and acting are apparently in the comedia dell’arte style, yet they had me thinking of the Muppets and Saturday morning cartoons from the 70’s. The acting is to be highly commended for it’s slightly modern interpretation of a play that’s a few hundred years old. 

I can’t believe I was worried that I’d have trouble keeping track of the action. Holy cow! That is so far from the truth. When Shakespeare is acted out it’s simple – actually too simple, to the point of being cartoonish. I knew how it was going to end even though I’ve never read or seen the play before and that had me peeved. Of late I’ve been reading or seeing narratives that keep me guessing for the majority of the time. I seem to have grown immune to the charms of a simple plot. Do I really need to be constantly pondering whilst I engage with the text? Is it wrong to think, ‘I know exactly how this is going to play out’ and be irritated by this?

It also reminded me of A Servant of Two Masters, a comedy by the Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni written in 1743, which I saw perfomed by Assumption College students two years ago.

“Take a picture. It’ll last longer”

I just watched Roman Holiday for the umpteenth time. It’s been a year or two since my last viewing of this fabulous film and I still gain something new from it each time I see it. Having also spent the last half hour downloading photos and sharing one or two on facebook (no, I wasn’t multi-tasking, the film was viewed before the computer was dragged out), my latest revelation concerns the use of technology in film. Or at least the use of photography in said film. 

As Gregory Peck’s Joe Bradley shows Audrey Hepburn’s princess the sights of Rome, his friend Irving (Eddie Albert) takes photos of their mini adventures. When Irving firsts meets Joe and his ‘new friend’, Joe asks him if he’s brought the lighter. At first I thought he was talking about the famous camera brand, Leica, but it turns out that Mr Peck’s character is referring to an actual cigarette lighter that contains a hidden camera. Every 15 minutes cigarettes are lit, which gives Eddie’s photographer another photo op. with his trick camera.

Roman Holiday was made in 1953 and I’m guessing that this was considered rather sophisticated technology at the time. Or was it just like the shoe phone that popped up 15 years later on television’s Get Smart? Just the visual realisation of someone’s fertile imagination – nothing more than a sophisticated prop. 

I like to think not.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Is Love a drug?

And why did I capitalise it?

Saw Love and Other Drugs yesterday. It begins as: boy finds his ideal job as a rep for a drug company, then meets a girl who rejects him, then she accepts him (but only for sex), then she makes him leave her when her Parkinson’s symptoms worsen. I won’t say how it ends but there’s was some formula involved.

My friend thought it was definitely a ‘chick flick’, though with the amount of time Annie H spends out of her clothes I think straight boys will be well and truly rewarded.
I’m unsure about this movie. There’s a Hollywood smarminess to it, that’s probably reinforced by Jake G’s expression and large eyebrows. At other times it’s excruciatingly authentic (except with the use of an actor to play Jakey G’s brother who looks nothing like him in any way, shape or form in this universe or any parallel universe)

Having said that, there were two moments that had the biggest impact on me. One is when Annie H’s character, Maggie, attends a convention and listens to others with Parkinson’s describe their condition. These people weren’t actors and brought some funny, pathos-filled realism to the scene. The other scene worth mentioning is Jake G’s pseudo-panic attack when he tries to confess something to Annie H – original!

So, is love a drug? Does it need to be addictive to qualify? I think I need to see Love Story with Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw again. Maybe that film will answer my title question…

Friday, October 1, 2010

Easy, ay?

Easy A is the latest Hollywood teen sex romp, but with a twist – there’s no sex, just lots of talking and pretending. It’s a play on the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel, The Scarlet Letter, which the main character, Olive Penderghast is studying at high school. And due to her fabrication of how she spends one weekend (including a nice Brady Bunch reference to George Glass) her life begins to mirror the book in no time at all.
It’s a filmic homage to Hawthorne as well as my ever-lovin’ favourite, John Hughes. And funny as all get out! Mind you I’m easily amused so you may want to read another half-arsed blog before making any judgements. Choice quote: [Brandon to Olive] “So, what's with your new look? It's very whore couture”
I loved this film! It is so smart and sassy. I was listening to a podcast with Bert V. Royal, the writer and I understand how he could voice such a wonderfully sarcastic creature such as Olive. He addressed the issue I often have with (the good) teen films where characters with 7 years of neurological growth still to go can be so engaging and sound so intelligent. The reason is because they do actually exist.
Anyway, if you like smart arse kids and grew up with the films of John Hughes then you’ve must see this film.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bret Easton Ellis: then and now

I was rather disturbed when I felt myself relating to the protagonist of Bret’s latest book, Imperial Bedrooms. I got what he meant when his character Clay would be in the ‘zone’. But that was early in the piece before he got really scary and freaky. I think he’s supposed to be this really laid back, laconic author with a wife and kids in real life, but in fiction he lets his inner psychopath well and truly loose. I bought Less Than Zero, at the LaTrobe Uni bookshop in Feb 1988, and thought I was so cool reading this great new book, in my first year of Uni, by this promising new author. Who knew that the sequel would be closer to Easton’s other book that goes around in a plastic mac. Or was that the point? All that self-centred nihilism has to end up somewhere, hurting someone.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

East side girl watches West Side Story

I saw West Side Story last night at The Regent. It was an accurate and succinct rendition of the Romeo and Juliet-styled musical. For my money, the music and dancing were the draw cards. Leonard Bernstein’s music is catchy and memorable – I was still humming “Somewhere” over my hot chocolate après le show. The highlight was the performance by Alinta Chidzey as Anita. She was dynamite and the audience reaction showed that they agreed with me on this point. The parts of Maria and Tony were good too, even when Julie Goodwin sang Josh Piterman under the table – man that girl has a powerful voice!

Thought car-pooling to the city would be reasonable. We hadn’t bothered to factor in the rest of this town venturing in to the CBD for a multitude of other forms of entertainment (mostly sport). That paled in comparison with our attempt to leave. A car park with only one entrance and the entirety of the mostly middle-aged audience wanting to leave said car park en masse proved ridiculous. The anxiety of crawling along like a stoned snail in a car with an almost empty petrol tank, mixed with discovering "Crisis in Criticism" by Maurice Berger, in the back seat, made those 45 minutes pass quicker than one would think.