AUGUST 2015 EDITION.

Film, books, music, interpretative dance? Why not to all of them, I say …

Sherpas doing their thing on Everest. The subject of a gripping Australian doco.
Sherpas doing their thing on Everest. The subject of a gripping Australian doco.

Sucker, a feature film by a mate of mine, Lawrence Leung, just had its world premiere at MIFF. It’s a lot of fun and bounces along, with conmen and conwomen playing angles in all directions. It’s in cinemas later this year and I’d definitely recommend it. I’m inspired enough that I’m spending the morning digging back into my one hundred year old copy of the autobiography of one of my all-time favourite magicians, the French pioneer Robert-Houdin.

At MIFF, Chloé and I also saw Racing Extinction, which I almost had to walk out of when there was footage of a manta ray being murdered, live in screen, but it’s a well made doco by the maker of The Cove. Can we save the world? It seems like there are a lot of parties working to destroy it, but at least some people are having a crack the other way.

For the flipside of that, we watched Sherpa: Trouble on Everest, which has been described as the most awesomely visual industrial relationships dispute in cinema history. It follows the ill-fated 2014 season on Everest, as dozens or maybe hundreds of westerners line up to tick the world’s tallest mountain of their bucket list, while Sherpas, the local people and the ones who make it happen, become increasingly and reasonably upset.

To change things up, we also went to the vintage Australian classic Storm Boy, which totally holds up all these years later – and was a time capsule of the exact fashion I used to wear to primary school in the mid-Seventies.

The Daughter was a harrowing but really well made Australian film and Diary of a Teenage Girl was excellent. The first scene alone, from a writer’s point of view, left me full of admiration: a girl is walking through a park in Seventies fashion. Good music is playing. A super reads: San Francisco 1970s. Then the girl’s inner monologue says: ‘I had sex today … HOLY SHIT!’
The film had me from that moment: even before I realised Eric from True Blood (Alexander Skarsgård) was a co-star.

On the small screen, I’ve been digging the Fred Vargas collection, a French detective series, apparently based on best-selling books. All I know is that the character development and the relationships between the characters, are brilliant.

In music, well I still listen to everything and anything. I’m loving, in no particular order, Get Direct by Joan As Police Woman, Red Eyes by The War On Drugs, Don’t Come Knocking by Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Ginette (a mighty mighty song) by Têtes Raides, which pretty much makes me cry every time I hear it, Fade Out Lines by The Avener, and I Will Follow You into The Dark, by Death Cab for Cutie. Feeling old skool? Try Rain Rain Go Away by Lee Dorsey or River by Joni Mitchell.

And reading … The New Yorker has had some incredible articles lately, particularly this one about the Cascadia fault line, lurking like a timebomb off the north-west coast of the USA. I wouldn’t be buying real estate in Portland any time soon, and man, it’s a scary article – about nature and also about the inability of humans to pre-plan. (Update: This New Yorker piece went on to win the Pulitzer Prize)

I’ve been roving between books. Will Brodie’s Reality Check is a brilliant read, even if you’re not an Australian ice hockey tragic like me. Nicholas J Johnson has backed up Chasing The Ace with Fast And Loose, and hasn’t dropped any quality. No second album syndrome happening with the Honest Con Man, so bravo to him.

Plus I’m reading The Frood by Jem Roberts, which is sort of an officially authorised by his family unofficial biography of Douglas Adams, of whom none of us are worthy. Roberts has written about British comedy for a while and manages not to veer into fandom or gushy writing. Adams’ insecurities, the moments of creative despair pre-Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and other under the hood realities are there, along with the rockstar friendships and his soaring success. I think all writers, across disciplines, know that despair and the endless insecurity. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and believe, people. That goes for you too, Place.

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