Freddy Mercury or Col Porter?

When I told the daughter of my intention to see the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, this week she said , “ Mo, you’de be better off getting Thai Takeaway, opening a bottle of wine, and listening to a CD.”

Always good advice.

Enjoyed the Villanova Players production of High Society instead.

When said daughter graduated from University with a couple of degrees, as well as dark rings under the eyes, we celebrated with a fine meal in the city and some Bubbles. As you do. Did I hand her a set a car keys or a pair of diamond earrings as a gift for four years of study?

Of course not! What kind of mother do you think I am! My eldest daughter and I located a movie poster for High Society and had it professionally framed. Looked schmiko too. Cait is a huge fan of both Bing and Cranky Frankie, and this movie also ignited her interest in the music of Satchmo.    (Louis Armstrong).

AC578D75-0DD4-4778-83EE-3223D2C63CDD

High Society was released in 1956 with a simple storyline :” Jazz artist C.K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby) is still hung up on his ex-wife and neighbor, socialite Tracy Samantha Lord (Grace Kelly), however Tracy is engaged to another man (John Lund). Matters are complicated even further when a magazine reporter (Frank Sinatra), in town to cover Tracy’s wedding, also winds up falling for the beautiful bride-to-be. As Tracy tries to decide on the ideal husband, each suitor works hard to convince her he is the best choice.” – wikipeadia

Supported by great music and lyrics by Col Porter as well as some truly gorgeous gowns this movie was nominated for Academy Award for Best Story, Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written Musical, and Academy Award for Best Original Musical.

So you think Col Porter music is no longer relevant? Pop star, Robbie Williams, has been reintroducing these tunes to a new generation. And doing it so damn well too.

I took both my daughters to see Williams perform in 2006 at Suncorp Stadium. Suncorp is a sporting venue, affectionately known as The Cauldron, but its beauty is that regardless of where you sit you are right on top of the action. I took an out-of-towner there once and he was more interested in the sound from the roaring crowd than any on field action.

1CA9F3CA-D001-45C6-9A1A-8FB2E00428A9

So we’re way up high in the bleachers, almost touching the stars. Robbie’s on stage doing his thing, and my girls are moving with the music. The eldest loses herself completely. ( My fault. I did that hippie thing and placed head phones on my tummy whilst pregnant). Spent the night holding said child around the waist as I was so fearful she would take a tumble and we would lose her. Literally.

Here’s to another community theatre group bringing great entertainment to the locals, and a stage band putting life back into the music of Porter. The music is in the bones…

7F2E167B-21F3-4794-A044-525F3B78622B

Yep, Caitlin, good advice.

Bing and Freddy

I FaceTimed my youngest daughter over the weekend. See, I’m not a complete technophobe. She was in the bedroom of the unit she purchased five months ago. Noticing a lack of decoration on the walls I asked when was she going to get around to hanging some of the colourful art works she had collected on her overseas travels -Flamenco Dancers, Greek Islands, the usual stuff. Daughter responded with “Mo, I’m waiting for you to cark it so I can hang your Errol lobby cards.” Thus proving that eccentricity and a warped sense of humour are hereditary…..

This is my daughter who collects singing Bing Crosby Dolls. We holidayed together in beautiful Norfolk Island – Fletcher Christian Country – a few years ago and what item did we return to Australia with to remind ourselves of our days playing tourist? Bracelets of pressed shell or pearls? Of course not ! We found a mini Bing dressed in a pinstripe suit singing “Accentuate The Positive”. As you do.

This daughter is also keen on Freddy Mercury. And yes, before you ask, she does have a singing Freddy Doll. I have no issues with either of these collections given that as a youngster she was into sport, politics, and share trading ( Yeah, I know….), with not a Barbie nor Ken doll in sight.

November looks like an exciting month for this child of mine with the release of Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddy Mercury story, at the Cinemas. I’ve also just informed her that a theatrical production of High Society is coming to Brisi next month. This is her favourite movie and posters and framed record covers adorn her lounge room walls to great effect.

That’s one way of getting her to visit her poor , old mother for a Sunday roast, isn’t it?

00AE8A36-21D6-4477-BC03-11B92E275D25

In Like Flynn- The Movie

I was always going to be conflicted about the movie In Like Flynn. Adapted from Errol Flynn’s 1937 ( first) novel, “Beam Ends”, the movie takes us from the goldfields of New Guinea in 1930, to the streets of Sydney and the Razor Gang in 1932, north to Townsville, and then further north to a return to New Guinea.

Here’s my Good, Bad and the Ugly, and not necessarily in that order

Firstly, the really, truly Ugly:

I had a signed copy of this book in my possession and inadvertently tossed it into the bin some thirty years ago. The things you do when you are young and stupid ( or more stupid ).I’ve been chasing this wretched book ever since.

Then there is the Bad:

What’s with David Wenham’s penchant for weird facial hair and creepy voices? Way back when, was there a female with a pulse anywhere across the nation who did not weep tears of blood when Diver Dan dumped Laura Gibson in Pearl Bay to dive the Galápagos Islands?

Wenham’s penchant for woeful mos and odd vocal noises started in Australia, though his presence in In Like Flynn as the Mayor/ Boxing Promoter/ Reverend screams dirty-old-man-in-raincoat. That’s the price you pay when you let a good woman down, David. Thank God Laura finally found happiness with that bloke that’s built like a brick outhouse.

If we were expected to believe Guy Pearce as Flynn (in Flynn) at five foot ten and a half then this chappie is way out in front. Thomas Cocquerel is a good looking lad – we know this as there are numerous scenes not requiring a shirt – and at a couple of inches over six foot with a chiselled chin, does a reasonable job. Don’t waste time with comparisons though : one is vanilla to Errol’s double malted, dark chocolate with a dash of Tia Maria.

702D82A7-F604-4343-A4E6-A7CAEB454477.jpeg

So to enjoy this film simply forget that this is supposed to be Errol Flynn before making it big in Hollywood. Instead, treat it as another of the Jewel of the Nile/ Indiana Jones Franchises. It will make the experience so much more palatable. Hang the brain at the door and just go with the adventure, or misadventure, and the crocodiles.

75489243-F54E-484E-8166-AC8196B51DD4

Good :
Don’t you feel we’ve watched Isobel Lucas grow up in front of the cameras, from a pretty and pouty little thing, to an even prettier and poutier little thing, though she does a great job of being both flirty and feisty in this flick. Kills it as a redhead. Hasn’t put on an ounce of weight – just how does that work?

And another :

The scenery is beautiful and there is a definite 1930 vaudevillian feel.

Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor in parts, or is it that the soundtrack is simply too loud? The incorrect answer is that my hearing is poor. Well, it is, but everyone in the cinema was pressing forward to hear better too – all four of us.

First film reviews in within Australia state “ car crash compelling” and “so bad its nearly good”.

2BFC0D3C-5E07-418C-8E3A-74CB5F4F3049

And talking of that bloke built like a brick outhouse….. See you at lunch at The Grand View next week.

B1B94432-39AD-4966-B9AA-5A28B4E18605

The Notebook Makes Eating Chocolate Guilt Free.

In 1986 I delivered a Christmas baby. A round, brown baby that arrived like a freshly baked loaf of bread. Worst summer of my life, let me tell you. I continue to give her grief each and every December about the lack of bubbles in my life that year. I must confess that when the Doctor recommended an increase in my calcium intake I took to having a Tia Maria milkshake each and every day.

So my beautiful Capricorn daughter has a birthdate so close to Christmas that she never had a party with friends on the actual day – a situation which at 32 years of age she continues to hold against me.
( Never her father. Why is this so?)

Having a birthday so close to Christmas has created so many issues over the years. Most significantly it effected her relationships with Significant Others. Young men were always judged according to two criterias:

1. Does the young man in question buy separate Christmas and Birthday gifts ?

Several good looking prospects went by the wayside after gifting only one combined parcel to cover these two major Life events. It’s not that the daughter is materialistic. After all, she is the grand daughter of Depression raised folk (and a tight arsed mother).
“ Mo, it’s the principle”. Oddly, I kinda get that……..

2. Does the young man in question sit through the movie, The Notebook, with her, from beginning to end?

Well, that one definitely sorted the wheat from the chaff. Have you ever sat through The Notebook?

The Notebook was the first book written by Nicholas Sparkes in 1996 in a long list of easy-to-read romantic novels. It was adapted into a film in 2004, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as the younger version of a married couple of 50 odd years, in James Garner and Gena Rowlands, following their love story from before WW2 till the onset of old age. And as Bette Davis once said, “ old age ain’t no place for sissies”.

4B8CAAA1-D178-47E5-B417-726D7A561222.jpeg

I’m not a real good gauge of chick flicks, with a preference for sword fights and bows and arrows. Nothing like a good scalping to make a girl happy really. However, The Notebook is a great movie for when you are in the mood for a little weep – we all have those moments, don’t we? – or when the need arises to eat a box of chocolates without any remorse.

It’s a movie with visual impact, with McAdams, Gosling, and love triangle John Marsden all looking damn fine. Some of the scenery is breathtakingly simple yet beautiful, especially the scenes on the lake.

The movie is a huge improvement on the book because of the photography and complementing soundtrack, although having recently reread the book I found it more layered than I remembered, with more glimpses of humour. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack too this weekend. It’s kinda spooky when you can identify the scene from the music alone, isn’t it?

DD1722B4-DCC4-4478-841E-E0C7A6835AD7.jpeg

My Capricorn found her Keeper in a military boyo with seven tours of duty under his belt. If he survived The Notebook he can survive anything.

Recommendation : Box of tissues with a block of Dark Chocolate.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I_U3Qk0tLWc

Cyclones and Peter Allen

A cyclone went through my house on the weekend. A cyclone with a penchant for singing Bing Crosby dolls. I’m still in recovery mode.

It seems that a respected and much loved football player of 16 years standing was retiring and the local Leagues club was putting on a special function for fans. Just another interest I shouldn’t have shared with the offspring, I guess.

Hand on heart, I swear it was not I who introduced her to the concept of having a punt on the horses. Not Guilty, Judge.

Still weary, I am now travelling south across the border to a sheep and cattle town with an interesting history. An Old Girls road trip with the promise of museums, galleries, lavender farms, wineries, and farmers markets. My friend informs me she has home made soup in the boot of the car. Sorry, sweetie: a country town means a meal at the pub with a steak half an inch thick and enough blood to soak the fresh bread, washed down with something red.

It will be close to 0 degrees in Tenterfield, but I have a loud shirt ready for the Peter Allen Concert.

95660231-30D0-4594-98D3-4A2F6E8847D9

Enjoy your weekend peeps.

And daughter of mine, I know you snuck out with The Quiet Man DVD.

The Phantom of the Opera and my kitchen floor.

After gallivanting interstate last week it has been wonderful to lose this weekend confined indoors because of wet weather. Not enough rain to fill water tanks, but enough to wash the dust off the leaves and have blades of grass upstanding with little smiles on their faces.

So plenty of binge movie viewing with the Hunger Games series featuring one of those Hemsworth lads. I tell ya’ – those boys are just everywhere……..

To even out all this blood and viciousness there has also been a lot of music emanating from the She-Shack which I’m sure the neighbours have also been enjoying. It’s been a while since I got lost in one of my Phantom Of The Opera frenzies which culminated in lots of twirls, sliding and faux pirouettes across the tiled floor this morning. (If this imagery isn’t enough to frighten you, think of the elephants in tutus in Disney’s Fantasia.)

I’ve seen POTO live four times. The first time I flew to Sydney to see the show with my sister in law who had just separated from her husband, and only he showed up at the theatre with a new partner. Talk about more drama off stage than on.

Next time was a family outing when the daughters were little girls. New frocks and shoes all round. Big mistake; my kids took to the theatre like ducks to water and it became an expensive interest over the years. They also figured they needed a new outfit each and every time.

When I travelled to London to visit the daughter studying Law she shouted tickets to the West End production. POTO had been playing in this very same theatre for thirty odd years and can I tell you, the sets were magnificent. I think I lost focus because the underground canals were so very fascinating. Ice cream hawkers wandering through the theatre at Intermission also threw me and I didn’t get the value out of this performance that I should have. The set and Streets Drumsticks were just too mesmerising.

Back in Brisbane Australia’s own Anthony Warlow played the Phantom some years later. Now Warlow could really sing – a true entertainer. After seeing his performance as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls I vowed to call any son Obadiah. (No boys, probably just as well.Can you imagine the school yard bullying!)

This production was brilliant, and will forever remain a wonderful memory. Warlow brought new energy to the Phantom. The lawyer daughter said,” Mo, I think he’s on speed” and the eldest one, the one who is all heart, left the theatre sobbing with “ Mo, he’s just misunderstood”.

Naturally, when the movie was released in 2004, starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum, it just had to be another outing with the girls. I didn’t have to buy new outfits this time, though I was still up for lunch. The reviews were pretty harsh, especially about Butler and his singing prowess, though we all really enjoyed and I absolutely adored Butler as the Phantom.
1 ) His voice was raw, showing both emotion and vulnerability.
2 ) The unmasked side of the Phantom’s face was smokin’.
3 ) As above.

Now, that comment is not sexist. You need to know this to understand Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel, Love Never Dies. Set ten years after the Phantom escaped the fire in the French Opera House he now lives in Manhattan amongst the joy rides on Coney Island. Still writing music he continues to miss Christine and manoeuvres a concert for her to perform in Manhattan. She is accompanied by her husband, Raoul, and her young son, Gustave.

And guess what? Gustave is not really Raoul’s son. I wonder who is the real father? (Think smokin’ which makes Butler’s portrayal every bit conceivable.)

Off course we saw this live on stage back in 2012. It debuted in the UK but required a massive rewrite which was completed here in Oz. It was darker, more dramatic than POTO, and two out of three of us preferred it to the original. *putting hand up.

A0BF25C9-DDC0-44A8-9D28-1356ABD548BB

A great DVD and sound track, filmed and produced in Oz, has been providing much pleasure and entertainment this weekend. I’m just extremely grateful that the neighbours can’t see in.

Wouldn’t you too glide across the floor with this?

Bagger Vance and the Hunter Valley.

My youngest daughter, the one that collects Bing Crosby dolls, has always enjoyed golf, both as a participant and spectator. Indeed, the downside to living in Australia is that watching any of the truely great sporting events of the world, such as golf at St Andrews or Augusta, means having to set an alarm to set yourself up in front of the box in the wee hours of the morning. In winter. I’ve generally crawled out from under the covers to keep the daughter company and fed.

The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life is a 1995 American novel by Steven Pressfield that was adapted into the 2000 film The Legend of Bagger Vance. It is one of our favourite movies, and one where the movie is an improved version of the novel.

E1A122BA-AFC5-4189-979D-975AAF9193EE

I watched this again last night after a relaxed day in the Hunter Valley enjoying the sunshine and local Seafood Festival. The Hunter, despite suffering from both drought and bushfires, is a prime wine producing area and so a local chardy joined us on the mystical journey with Bagger Vance.

52DC66AB-E32A-429B-A25A-99E12ADCB2A9

Mystical? Think Field Of Dreams without the ghostly baseball players. Without corn fields. Sadly, without the delish Ray Liotta.

According to Dr Google , “ Steven Pressfield (author) has acknowledged, Bagger Vance, and the story of his legend, are based on the Hindu epic and scriptural poem, the Bhagavad-Gita. In the epic, Bhagavan is the “Supreme Personality” who helps his follower, Arjuna, understand much about war and about life.

Don’t let that put you off!

The story of Bagger Vance, under played for the first time in his life by a personable Will Smith, is told through Harley, whilst dying of a heart attack as an elderly gent whilst playing golf.

He recounts his childhood memories of a golf exhibition between golfing legends, Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones during the Great Depression, devised to stop the local Golf Club from bankruptcy. To heighten interest, a local golf hero, Rannulph Junuh, is enticed by his ex girlfriend and beneficiary of the Golf Club, to compete in the tournament.

A couple of issues here :

• What’s with this Rannulph? Is there no D in the American alphabet?
• Rannulph is a shell of his former self, following his experiences in World War 1, having been awarded the Medal of Honour. The horrors he has endured made Rannulph give up his girl, give up on life, lose his swing, and develop an inclination to over indulge in whiskey

Bagger Vance, philosopher extraordinaire, arrives on the scene to caddy for Rannulph, played by a young Matt Damon.

I always felt a mans grip on his club is just like a mans grip on his world

I like Damon. Unlike some of his contemporaries he hasn’t hardened with age. It’s not just the regular moisturising routine; he seems a genuinely nice fella. Recently in my neck of the woods with one of those Hemsworth lads Damon was spotted on several occassions with the fam on the beach. Anyone who throws chips to the seagulls has to be a good bloke, hey…

Back to the game of golf…..

it’s a game that can’t be won, only played, so i play on, i play for the moments yet to come, looking for my place in the field.

With Bagger’s encouragement Rannulph finds his “authentic swing” and an odd game where you hit a ball with a stick becomes surprisingly exciting. And Rannulph even gets the girl in Charlize Theron.

The movie ends years later when Harley, after sharing his memories, walks over to the corn fields to be met by Bagger Vance.

F4F3642E-94A1-43AE-8955-1C2FF39F41F4

Good little movie, great company, a lovely weekend, and wonderful memories. Always only too happy to support our local (Grape) farmers.

BA815987-F226-4510-BC21-92E489E2552B

Calamity Jane and High Fives.

My eldest daughter works with children. Not as a childcare worker or educator, but rather as one of those courageous folk who save kiddies in harms way; those born in crack dens, who don’t get a decent meal for a month, and those who suffer all sorts of unthinkable atrocities. She is so busy rescuing that she does not have her own little ones, unless you include Bentley, my beautiful Grand Furbaby.

4A35BE19-DF7B-46CE-B1C5-B0F1550F5C14

Little People love my daughter and she is Godmother and “Aunty” to several. This child of mine, deemed an old soul at birth, and one who reversed our mother-daughter roles when still in her late teens, has recently validated my worth as a parent.

How, you may ask?

When asked for sage parenting advice by friends, such as a good DVD to keep the young ones interested and content, does my daughter recommend Transformers, The Wiggles, or anything slightly superhero related?

No. Josie is slowly introducing the 1953 movie, Calamity Jane, a light hearted western musical starring Doris Day and Howard Keel, to a whole new generation. One lounge room at a time.

2B34620C-411A-4C01-A8B1-64092582AFEE

Way to go, girl !

From IMDB:
In the lonely Deadwood, Dakota, territory, sharpshooter Calamity Jane (Doris Day) falls for cavalry Lt. Danny Gilmartin (Philip Carey) when she is forced to rescue him from the Indians. Recognizing that the women-starved townsmen long for a “real” woman, Calamity journeys to Chicago to bring back famous singer Adelaid Adams, but mistakenly brings her maid Katie instead. Heartbroken when Danny falls for Katie, Calamity all but ignores her jovial friend Wild Bill Hickok (Howard Keel).

068EBC7C-8DAB-428B-B350-3B60B549CD5B

Doris Day is just beautiful, whether dressed in animal skins or in flouncy petticoats, and this is a joyful little flick full of fun. It requires no intellectual dissection – hanging the brain at the door along with the hat is compulsory.

Imagine, a movie that can hold the attention of our most vulnerable and impressionable, without a Hemsworth in sight.

Now that’s a win for Mother, I would say. High Fives all around please.

UPDATE : My other daughter tells me that Calamity Jane, the stage production, is coming to theatres in the ACT.
Now that’s worth some thought.We won’t tell Jo as she is inclined to break into song with “The Black Hills Dakota”.Aq

Sunday, Too Far Away with Jack Thompson

The first movie I saw at the Drive In, which I believe was later demolished to build a hotel, shopping complex and units (as all goods things are), was in Sydney’s Caringbah. It was January 1976 and it was hot, both in and out of the car, yet a wonderful way to finish a day having spent ten hours sunning oneself on the sand and skipping the waves at Eloura Beach. If you’ve ever read Kathy Lette’s Puberty Blues the imagery is not wasted……

A young Jack Thompson headlined in this movie which made it interesting as everyone over the age of 40 seemed to be mortified by this gentleman’s antics. He was the first nude male centrefold for Australia’s women’s magazine, Cleo, long since defunct, and the matrons tut tutted at his cohabitation with two sisters. Yep, you read that right: two sisters.

Jack Thompson played the knock-about, Foley, a heavy drinking gun shearer around whom the movie is based. It’s very much a bloke orientated film which quietly covers much of the male culture of rural Australia in the 1950s.- hard work and hard play, heavy drinking, mateship, and not having two bob to rub together from one stint in the sheds to the next. The film’s title “Sunday Too Far Away” is reportedly the lament of a shearer’s wife: “Friday night [he’s] too tired; Saturday night too drunk; Sunday, too far away”.

A5E57101-5D81-4A62-B6C4-798A6B0911B6

Filmed on the edge of the Flinders Rangers in South Australia the scenery is at once beautiful with its red dust and towering gums, and bleak in its heat and isolation. If you have visited this part of the world at all you would appreciate the authentic depiction. The movie should have perhaps been called “Flys, Never Too Far Away”.

Poor Jack copped more flack from the Matrons with a naked bum dance scene in the washroom, before movement of this kind became on trend with Big Brother. Forty years later I am just grateful that John Ewart kept his towel on.

Viewing this movie again recently after such a long time was very interesting on a more personal level. My father, who spoke Latin and French, came home from Bomber Command requiring peace and quiet. He went bush for twelve months shearing sheep. I now understand why at barbecues he would boil a tin Billy on the fire and twirl the pot around his head to mix the tea leaves. Really, who does that, right? He would have also enjoyed that the only women around were barmaids and Cocky’s wives.

Back in the days of tea trolley ladies I worked with a woman in her ‘70’s who was a magnificent cook- cakes, sausage rolls, and other crowd pleases. Her secret was that she had once been a shearer’s cook, and if the shearer’s didn’t like the tucker the cook was sent packing. I was forever encouraging her to write a book – she could always turn nothing into something delicious.

It’s these little moments in Sunday, Too Far Away, that make this movie memorable.The cook gets the boot, with the aid of Lemon Essence, because the shearers don’t like what he dishes up. Old Garth, a gun shearer back in the day who was given the boot by his wife because of his absences from home, is now an alcoholic and his dead body is loaded onto the tray of a Ute. The sheep station owner (or Cocky) is banned from the shearing sheds, and the testosterone levels rise to coincide with the number of sheep shorn in a day.

A1EA34EB-929F-4D9C-A116-DB6750CC9765.jpeg

The last ten minutes deals with a Shearer’s strike back in the 50’s. To be honest this was wasted on me. Australian public school education: what, you thought we learnt Australian history? Hilarious. It does allow for a decent pub brawl, however.

A young Jack Thompson in a Jackie Howe never really worked for me, though on this occasion he was pleasing to the eye. A tad churlish perhaps, but I did cheer when he got squashed in a cow stampede in Australia thirty years later.

Lastly, if you’ve never been into a working shearing shed let me tell you that they stink. Putrid things. Watch the movie instead – shearing sheds are not the stuff of bucket lists.

Sunday Too Far Away won three 1975 Australian Film Institute awards: Best Film, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actor in a Supporting Role.