Film Seven, Week Seven: The Theory of Everything

Well, this is a film that built up all sorts of anticipatory expectations, but didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Eddie Redmayne really does deserve all the kudos – sometimes when actors are “doing” another famous person on screen, you still feel that they are just someone acting as someone else and you can’t see past this. Not the case here, he really seemed to become Hawking.  The cinematography, set design and costume design were all spot on too. However, this film could have done with about half an hour being chopped out of it…  My film buddy suggested it would make a good TV film, and I kind of agree.

A good thing though was the way they handled the “science-y” bits. As someone who does a fair bit of science comms in her day job, this is tricksy stuff, even more so when we are talking big things, like the birth and death of the universe. This had some lovely little scenes, such as when Jane Hawking demonstrates the links between the theory of relatively and chaos theory using potatoes and peas.

The best bit? Lovely, lovely Maxine Peake playing Hawking’s assistant and soon to be next Mrs Hawking, Elaine. She was a wicked sauce-pot and I want her to be the next Mrs Neal.

Book Seven, Week Seven: The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters

The thing with Kindles is that it’s sometimes hard to judge how far you are into a book, thinking you are almost finished only to find out there’s another 200 pages to be explored.  I had this experience with The Paying Guests, and I am still undecided as to whether in this it was a good surprise.

This was almost two novels: a love and a crime story, with the division taking place halfway through thanks to a grisly murder and its cover up. I adored the first half, but I am just not sure about the second half until the final pages tied it all back together again with a clumsy attempt at a bow-tie.

I am going to go back and re-read The Night Watch to make myself fall in love with Waters again.

Band Seven, Week Seven: King Krule.

I came across King Krule recently thanks to a recent Nerdist Spotify playlist compiled by *fangirl blush* Meredith Graves.  I think I might have possibly have heard of him before and assumed it was Billy Bragg set to a jazzy/punk/urban backing tape, because to my untrained Australian ear anyone singing in a vaguely London/Essex accent sounds like Billy Bragg. It’s my only explanation for not having had the sense to listen to him before.

His songs are lush soundscapes, layers upon layers of guitar and keyboard and who else knows what.  Each listen of his songs allows another of these layers to come through like some treasure.  Well worth a listen or several.

Film Six, Week Six: Australia

A trip to Beavertown on Saturday let to much drunkeness before beating a tactical retreat to my sofa to watch a film, any film. And the one that happened to be in my flatmate’s DVD player was Australia, the 2008 epic from Baz Luhrman which I’d watched half of on the plane home a few years ago before giving it up due to the terrible overacting.

I can’t tell you much more about this film than I did then, and nor can poor Tony, because it mostly involved me giving a running commentary on how stupid the plot was based on my knowledge of that bit of the world, which is slight but still I believe a heck of a lot stronger than those who wrote the script.  It did look very, very beautiful though.

Beer Five, Week Five: Transatlantic Overdrive, Fourpure Brewing/Bear Republic

Three of us popped in to the Three Johns for the launch of this new beer collaboration from Fourpure, just before popping up the road to see the Phantom Band.  The place was packed to the rafters, with a scrum instead of a bar.

This was a clean, light, golden coloured IPA. It had a medium-crisp, fresh taste with moderate carbonation that would have gone so well with the pizzas I saw others eating at nearby tables, the lucky sods.  There were hints of pine, malted biscuit and orange pith.  I was kind of expecting one of those in your face American IPAs but nope, this was a good transatlantic balance.  I’d have liked some of this in the summer in a park, shame it’s not going to be around for long!

Film Five, Week Five: Whiplash

I once took up percussion at school, because I wanted to be just like Lindy Morrison from the Go-Betweens, who I had spotted being all cool on late-night music video shows. I was terrible, not just because I am generally uncoordinated, but because I just didn’t have the drive to spent more than an hour or two a week practicing.  My teacher despaired of me, and eventually gently suggested I give the classes up.  I don’t think teaching me was what he was thinking of when he applied to teach at an all-girls high school.

Would it all have been better if I had had a teacher like Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash? Nope. Silly rhetorical question.  Fletcher is terrifying.  But JK Simmons manages to finely balance the human and the inhuman in his characterisation of Fletcher, and the close ups of his face during his several monologues are worth the price of the cinema ticket alone.  Miles Teller’s Andrew is also terrific as Fletcher’s student.  To me, some of the best scenes were when he was trying to justify himself to his family, who place the masculine sport above the feminine music, and who you feel that even if Andrew won a Grammy, they’d not give a toss.  And the end!  The end of this film!  It’s almost too hard to bear, I had my hands clenched willing Andrew on.  Make sure you get a hug from someone afterwards, aftercare after releasing all that adrenaline is important, you know.

So yeah, I loved this.  And who didn’t leave this movie and download all the Charlie Parker on Spotify?

Colleen McCullough

Oh! But oh! I need to get on to a little diversion from the One x Four path and talk about one of my favourite authors.  I have just woken up to the news that Colleen McCullough has left us.

I’ve never really confessed this to anyone before, but she was a big part of the reason why I studied Ancient History at university. Her Masters of Rome series started about 1990, and I was fascinated at both the politics and the everyday Roman life she described in them. Because of these books, I started reading all the Roman classics, then the Greek classics, and next thing you know, I am studying everything in even more depth in an increasingly unpopular but never more relevant degree at the University of Queensland.

In the last year, I’ve been reading all of her novels, some for the first time, some for the seventh. It’s only as a grown up I’ve realised how amazingly, well, feminist her books have always been. So many strong women – her latest, Bittersweet, tells the story of four women growing up in 1920s rurals Australia and becoming nurses and it’s one of my favourite reads of 2014.

And she wrote this, which when I re-read it in The Thorn Birds last year, made my sit up and gasp, because she described me:

“Twelve thousand miles of it, to the other side of the world. And whether they came home again or not, they would belong neither here, nor there, for they would have lived on two continents and sampled two different ways of life.”

I will really miss her.