movies: a royal night out

a royal night out
A Royal Night Out is a thoroughly enjoyable movie. One might even be tempted to go as far as to say it's jolly fun.

On VE Day in 1945, the then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret went incognito outside the palace to join in the celebrations for the end of World War II. This movie takes that real life fact and... kind of runs away with the idea.

The best way to sum it up is to say that it's one part Roman Holiday and one part farce.

But it's never too over the top or ridiculous... I would say that it's just ridiculous enough.

The cast is tremendous, particularly Sarah Gadon as Elizabeth, Bel Powley as a very ditzy Margaret and Jack Reynor the airman that Elizabeth finds herself thrown together with. Gadon does a fantastic job as the young queen-to-be, she's sufficiently royal when she needs to be, but manages to give a glimpse of the young woman behind the crown.

And I could have sworn that I'd seen Reynor in something before, but none of his credits ring a bell... but there is definitely something slightly hypnotic about his face... those big beautiful eyes. He also manages to give Jack a lot of pathos and real humanity.

It's impossible to discuss too much of the plot without giving things away, which would be a shame, but I will say that I spent the majority of the movie smiling. The story is just fun... it's silly, it's clearly a complete and total invention, but it's incredibly well put together and genuinely charming.

yani's rating: 4 Union Jacks out of 10

unseen theatre company: small gods

I won't lie, Small Gods is the Terry Pratchett Discworld novels I have the most... complicated, I guess, relationship with. Most of this stems from the fact that this is Terry's satire on religion, and I find myself annoyed by certain characters and frustrated by the religious dogma, even while it's been made fun of.

It's also a difficult novel to turn into a two hour play, due partly to the complexity of the story, but mostly because of the fact that one of the characters is the Great God Om, currently manifesting in the body of a very small tortoise.

The Unseen Theatre Company get around this with some creative casting in the form of Alycia Rabig and what appears to be a tortoise shaped garden ornament. Rabig plays Om with all the frustration and annoyance you would expect from a deity reduced to just the one follower, and is present through all the scenes involving Om/the tortoise, but the other actors only ever address the tortoise.

And it's works very well, also in part due to the fantastic Timothy Tedmanson as Novice Brutha, who's a little bit simple, remembers everything and is the only person who can hear Om. Tedmanson is brilliant in the role plus the fact that he's seventeen helps with the character's sense of innocence and naivety and he makes Brutha a delight to watch.

I was a little surprised that the cast were pronouncing Brutha's name as "Brootha", when I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be a homophone for "brother"... especially as in later novels characters use his name in prayers/curses as "Oh, Brutha"... like the Discworld country of Djelibeybi is actually pronounced "jellybaby".

The villain of the piece, Deacon Vorbis, is played with a wonderful Machiavellian quality by (the brilliantly named but difficult to say... and fitting as he may have been named after a Pope) Adeodatus McCormack. From the moment the audience enter the theatre and he's already on stage, peering down his nose at everyone with withering disdain is just perfect for the character.

I'd also love to see McCormack take on the role of another Discworld character, Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork... he's perfectly built for the role, both physically as well as a decidedly commanding/intimidating presence.

It would also be interesting to see what else David Haller is capable of, he takes on a number of small roles here, but his energy and enthusiasm are fantastic, especially as Urn.

As always the props and scenery are functional and minimal, although good use is made of a throne on wheels throughout the play. And the projected backgrounds are better than in previous Unseen plays (although the light could still do with being a little brighter... and the battle background was decidedly anachronistic). The costumes are simple, mostly robes and togas, although the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition costumes for Vorbis and the other members of the Quisition of Omnia give exactly the right feels... but Om's Grecian inspired dress is quite lovely.

Overall though this was an enjoyable trip to the Discworld featuring performers I hope return again.

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movies: when marnie was there

when marnie was there
When Marnie Was There is the most recent title from Studio Ghibli and is somewhat in the vein of The Wind Rises... an odd mixture of dreams and reality, although this movie has a much less definite line between the two.

Once again the countryside of Japan is almost another character in the movie. It's one of the things that Ghibli does perfectly... all the way back to titles like My Neighbour Totoro and Only Yesterday... just the way they deal with grass and water and wide vistas is gorgeous.

The story of Anna, who comes to stay with relatives in the country for the summer to help with her asthma, is something of an odd one. I can't really think of another movie where the line between dream/fantasy and reality is both undefined and confusing. Even Totoro made sense in that the fantasy creatures where clearly fantasy, but with Marnie, what's actually going on isn't made clear, is it ghosts, is it time travel, is Anna having a psychotic break and it's all in her head... and even at the end of the movie when it's explained, or at least revealed, it's seems to be left up the audience to really connect all the dots to make the story make sense.

Granted, we did see the English dub version, so maybe the original Japanese/subtitled version is more explicit.

Likewise with Anna's relationship with her guardian... I couldn't work out what it actually was for a big chunk of the movie. Very mild spoiler... Anna is a foster child.

And I'll be honest, right up until the reveal of the ending, the story does have what feels like some fairly strong lesbian subtext. Actually not even subtext... just straight out text at times.

Which feels kind of weird to be honest. Granted a lot of it is also just a gender switch of the usual kinds of chaste romantic plots in Ghibli movies, but even so, it just feels a little odd.

Anna also feels like something of a brat in the first part of the movie... you kind of understand why as it progresses, but she says a number of things that make it difficult to like her.

Overall it's a very pretty movie, but I don't think it's the best story. Maybe it's the same issue that has occurred with a number of the other Ghibli adaptations of Western novels (Howl, I'm looking straight at you), and there was something lost from the original novel by Joan G Robinson during the conversion to a Japanese sensibility, I don't know.

It's not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, it's just not as strong as some of their other movies.

yani's rating: 3 sketchbooks out of 5

knitwear related saturday shopping

knitwear
There was no Friday post because Friday was Work Drinks Night... and I couldn't be arsed by the time I got home.

I think I got less drunk than last time... partly because I switched to cider for portion of the night, and I also think that I ate more when we were there. But it was a really good night... and since I'd had a busy and slightly wearing week, it was much appreciated. It was also one of those nights where the group just naturally fell into exactly the right configuration around the table, and the mix of people was also optimal.

I did still manage to knock a drink over though... but it was my own, and it was mostly empty at the time and didn't do any damage beyond making the table a little damp.

But it was a very good night.

And beyond a little huskiness in my voice this morning, I wasn't really any the worse for wear.

There was some slight jiggerypokery around getting organised this morning, so Ma was waiting for me when I got downstairs. And for some reason (partly because I still had a lot of stuff left over from last week's shopping) I didn't end up buying too much stuff at the supermarket. Although I am going to attempt French Onion Soup this week (technically Rich Red Onion Soup, but it's essentially the same thing) after the run away success of my Moroccan Pumpkin Soup last week.

After the supermarket we did a turn around Target and I ended up trying a number of items of clothing on... mostly jackets and jumpers, because I couldn't be bothered doing the changeroom thing.

A number of the things weren't right, but I did find a red jumper and grey jumper that I liked. They aren't as soft as the ones I already have, but they are really nice all the same.

I also picked up some fingerless gloves that I really should be wearing now, given that my fingers are cold... hang on... ahhh, much better, although it's now a little harder to type. And they fit pretty well even though they're actually women's gloves.

Then it was back here to unpack before we headed into the city to the movies to see the latest Studio Ghibli movie (more on that a little later).

Afterwards we headed down to Arndale so I could grab another couple of Bonds tees (Target was out of the size/style I wanted) and also look for some more work socks.

I did get a tiny bit distracted in Big W by what I can only describe as a "grandpa cardigan with toggles"... Ma described it as both a "Outdoor Lumberjack" and what I think was her interpretation of "hipster" (hip 30yo)... I am none of those things, but it is a nice chunky cardigan and it looked pretty good on, so I bought it.

I also managed to find exactly the socks that I wanted with no drama at all.

Then we headed back here and Ma headed home. She's currently on her way back though since we're headed out to the theatre tonight for a Discworld play.

Now I just need to come up with some kind of idea about what the hell we do for dinner before the play.

So it's been a little bit of a retail Saturday, but a productive one.

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definitive non-event saturday shopping

crowded
Today, while not exactly a disaster in the traditional sense, definitely did not work out at all well.

First thing this morning was fine, other than the fact that I got distracted by the Steven Universe game on my iPhone and didn't get up until about half an hour before I needed to be out the door.

It worked out okay though, since I managed to tidy up a bit, take a shower and be out the door before Ma had even arrived.

The supermarket was fine... I'd already decided to make pumpkin soup for my lunches this week, but we discovered that Campbells have a new range of flavoured stocks... once of which is Moroccan... so I'll be doing a Moroccan Pumpkin Soup. Should be interesting.

But once again we didn't have any plans for the rest of the day... so after wasting some time we decided to head to the Flinder Street Market since they appeared to have some sort of street food festival thing on.

From the start though it was clearly not meant to be.

Firstly we drove around and around and around and around and around in ever increasing/decreasing circles trying to find a carpark. We really should have given up at that point... and to be honest, I already had, I was over it before we stepped out of the car. But because we drove around long enough for the clock to tick past noon, there were parks that we could now park in. Although the one we found wasn't anywhere near the place.

When we got there I should have given up at that point, because the crowd was enormous and the space itself was relatively tiny. But foolishly I just waded on in, not expecting it to be anywhere near as bad as it was.

I won't say that I had a panic attack or an anxiety attack... but I've said before on many previous occasions that if I'm stuck inside a crowd with no actual way to get through it I tend to... freak out and I just get super angry within seconds.

And the way the thing had been laid out there appeared to be two dead end paths (when they easily could have laid the thing out in a circle so the crowd could have circulated around more easily)... and when we got to the end of the path I'd chosen I was 110% done.

All I wanted at that point was to get the hell out of the space, but I then had to fight my way back through the crowd. I needed out of there so much that I didn't even attempt politeness... I just steamrolled my way back through the crowd, and realised about half way out that I wasn't even saying "excuse me", I was just moving people out of my way as efficiently as I could... and when I realised that I also realised that I didn't care, I just needed to be out of there.

Once I was free from the crowd I was much calmer, and I very nearly just powered my way back to the car, but I'd obviously lost Ma in the crowd and didn't just want to disappear completely.

When she eventually caught up with me I told her that if she wanted to go back in I could just wait outside, but she wasn't that bothered either really... doubly so because as we stood there, there just seemed to be waves of people headed past us into the space.

What we did instead was head back to where the car was and then detour around the corner to the Oxfam second hand bookshop... we ended up spending a bunch of time wandering around there, which was much more civilised.

I didn't end up buying anything (really, I have more than enough books) but I partially reorganised one of the Shakespeare shelves to put the copies of the same play together, and we did find a couple of cookbooks with some interesting soup recipes which I look forward to trying out.

And that was it... so a definitive non-event really.

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photo friday: brown lines

woodcopper

irontile
This is going to be a reasonably short one... it's late, I have a thumping headache and I'm sleepy...

It's not been to bad a week... although I somehow managed to eat chicken schnitzel for three different dinners. The first of those was at a somewhat new place, Schnit House, on Rundle Street. Amusingly, they're working the whole "schnit" angle pretty hard... what with schnit heads, lazy schnits and full of schnit all on the menu... it's actually fairly amusing. And the schnitzels are pretty good too.

Oh, yes... please let me fanboy for just a brief moment... the new Assassin's Creed has been announced! And it's set in Victorian era London... YAAAAAAY *Kermit flail*. They leaked some early images about it and I was excited enough then, but now that it's really real I'm properly fanboying like crazy!

It does mean that I need to still have a job come October though, because while I can preorder the game now, I also need to buy the new PS4 to actually play the thing. I'm leaning towards self funded Xmas present at this stage.

Work has been a little bit craycray. Although it's been a little bit LOTSLOTSLOTS nothingnothing LOTSLOTSLOTS. And I kind of wasted today away with two earlyish meetings and then reviewing a policy and a guideline for the rest of the day. Not that that was technically a waste, but it was probably stuff that I could have left and worked on during the slower periods.

Then tonight I headed along to Alliance Française d’Adelaide for my buddy Josh's new curated show, Mademoiselle. And for the first time I discovered what happens if you actually stick around all the way through the art show... mostly you end up talking to a collection of very odd individuals... enthusiastic individuals, but odd, decidedly odd. Actually some of them are just plain strange.

And weirdly, I ended up having two very enthusiastic conversations, but not about art as one would have expected... no, one was about work and the other was about Sydney.

But that pretty much ended up being my whole Friday night...

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movies: ex machina

ex machina - what happens to me if I fail your test?
I'm really not sure whether I have the words to describe Ex Machina...

Questions like "was it good?" and "did I enjoy it?" don't necessarily seem... relevant maybe.

What it is, like the AI Ava herself, is not all together clear, but at the same time compelling.

Right off the bat though, I have to say that Alicia Vikander who plays Ava is fantastic. There is just so much going on in her face the entire time. It's not really a big, fast, loud, action oriented movie, so everything that all of the actors do with their faces is incredibly important, but Vikander most of all. Not to mention the way she uses her body... it's that little bit too precise or too fluid that feels "other".

And the visual effects that allow Ava to exist on screen are absolutely breathtaking. Generally I can be a little blasé about CGI, it's either something that's so good that you don't notice at all, or else is bad in some way and therefore incredibly noticeable. This manages to be both amazingly good and noticeable all at the same time.

But you still buy into it... while I was completely aware of how it had to have been done, I still bought that Ava was there and walking around.

Likewise the production design, the use of lighting, the sound design... it all works incredibly well together to create the feeling of claustrophobia or dread or whatever the scene called for. I feel like the theatre we saw it in may have had the volume cranked up a little too high on the sound, but even so the use of sound was excellent.

Circling around to the actors again, this is one of those movies with essentially enough actors to count on one hand.... and to have a finger left over. Domhnall Gleeson does good work as Caleb, the "everyman" character... and Oscar Isaac has a Mark Zuckerberg, Howard Hughes, Steve Jobs kind of hybrid thing going on as Nathan... although it was pretty clear to me from almost the first moment we meet him that he's not a nice guy.

So, let's see... the actors were good, the production design, effects, sound and lighting... all good. Then where does this movie transition between having individual components that are good and not being something that I really want to rave about or give perfect marks to?

And that really comes down to the plot and the script.

It's not bad... don't get me wrong. It's just more that even a couple of hours on I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about it. Part of that is due to the deliberate awkwardness between the characters, particularly Nathan and Caleb... but also that awkwardness as Caleb attempts to test Ava's personality to see if she passes as a human.

Without getting into spoiler territory too much, it also has to do with the way the movie ends, and the series of changes in direction to the plot as it moves towards the climax. I will stress again, that these aren't bad changes, they just left me confused about who I was supposed to be rooting for... and at the same time managed to distance me from all of the characters. I also picked a couple of them before they happened, so what I think was supposed to be a big reveal didn't really work for me that well.

Essentially it's not an easy movie to like in the usual sense... but it is intriguing.

yani's rating: 4 keycards out of 10

grey and woolly saturday shopping

not all superheroes wear capes
I know I've said it before, but I'm generally pretty lucky at this time of year... Ma, for a seeming myriad of reasons... including the fact that her birthday is only a month away, general dislike of commercialisation and the fact that traditionally it's celebrated on a different day back in England, is not really down with Mother's Day. So I don't have to do any additional running around with presents or special plans or the like.

Which is all well and good, but I did stop off after work yesterday and get her some of the Dark Jasmine Green Tea Ganache and Milk Earl Grey Tea Ganache from the Mother's Day range at Haighs.

But first I did my usual early morning tidy up, decided that it was too damn cold outside for an amusing teeshirt and just went with my Bonds hoodie sweatshirt.

Oh, and speaking of amusing teeshirts, I got a reply about my crappily printed tee that I mentioned yesterday... an awesome answer in fact. And I quote... "I just ran down to check the warehouse and was able to find an additional shirt in the design. The replacement shirt will be shipped out to you this afternoon." How's that for some customer service.

Anyway, today I quite literally got downstairs to the street just as Ma was pulling up outside the building, which is still somewhat weird, even though it happens more than you'd think.

The supermarket portion of the morning was fairly standard... although I ended up getting less from the veg section since I'm trying a different soup recipe this week... Pea and Prosciutto soup, which seems to most consist of stock and frozen peas. The only thing I'm slightly worried about is if there will actually been enough to last me through the week. Having said that, I think I'll survive with slightly smaller portions.

When we got back to my place and I'd put everything away, we got slightly sucked into a total car crash of a movie from the 1950's...partly because it was so very bad, partly because we really didn't have a plan for the day.

Eventually we decided to head out to the Gepps Cross Homemaker Centre, mostly because Ma was in the market for some new cutlery.

I really do think there must be a market out there for a range of reasonably priced, simply designed, and most of all, nicely weighted cutlery that just comes in a loose range rather than a set... because the range that we saw today wasn't overly impressive. And weirdly, while a lot of the knives are quite heavy and nicely weighted, the matching forks feel very light and spindly.

Anyway, we didn't find anything that Ma liked, so after a bit of a wander and poke around we went next door to JB Hifi just to wander around and have a look. Which turned out to be a good thing, since they were having a sale and I managed to get the first four seasons of Adventure Time (plus the latest season of Doctor Who for Ma's birthday... or Christmas, I haven't decided yet).

We also had a quick poke around the Spotlight store down there and then gave up.

We really didn't have a plan beyond that, but kind of made up some directions on the spot and ended up at the new Churchill Road shopping centre, which is also the location of our only Costco... to be honest the combination of the Costco and the cheap petrol station makes just getting into the car park a bit of a nightmare... they clearly didn't think very hard about all of that when they were putting the place together.

Anyway, we had a wander around Kmart, Ma found some cheap but fairly decent cutlery, and we had a slightly amusing but mostly pointless wander around one of the cheap shops before we headed off.

We decided to come back to North Adelaide and grab some lunch from Perrymans... because as I said to Ma, while I love it, it's not actually a place that I go very often, weirdly enough.

And that was about it really... although we do really need to get better at finding things to do on Saturdays...

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photo friday: suburban details

window curlstea rooms

one seventeentile tower
This week has been less of a "needy" week like last week, but it's been much more of a "DO ALL THE THINGS" week.

So much so that it took me two days to get around to making five minutes worth of edits in a document.

But it's good to be busy... I'd just enjoy being a tiny bit less busy so I could actually manage to do everything.

I managed to invent some really good soup for lunch this week. After the shredded chicken in last week's soup, I decided I'd make some more chicken soup, but just regular chicken and veg soup. Well, I did get the bright idea to put some curry powder in it, left out the usual chilli, and ended up blending two thirds of it (sans chicken of course)... turned out really, really nice... although I swear that the curry taste/smell intensified throughout the week.

This week was also Haircut Day, so on Thursday night I took myself off to see Tink. The new haircut is still a work in progress... we reshaped it a little more this time, and it's coming along nicely. I was a little amused this morning when it was all sticking up in all directions after I dried it, because you can see the three layers of colour from the last three haircuts, getting lighter as it goes up.

Okay, small things amuse small minds, I know.

It was also chiro week this week... and not before time given the fact that I somehow managed to pull a couple of ribs or something... I don't actually know what it was, but my chiro did push something back into place around my shoulderblade and suddenly a spot that was hurting when she poked it didn't hurt any more. Weird.

I had my first disappointment from all the teeshirts I've been ordering online... and annoyingly it's the only one I was missing from the Adho1982 Avatar line. When I opened it this afternoon, the printing is totally crooked, not just a tiny bit, that I could live with... but this is significantly crooked. Whether they'll replace it or not I don't know, I've email them and I'll just have to wait and see what they say.

I also realised that my tee collection has managed to grow to 27 shirts... although I'm still waiting on about three to be delivered. So I now have enough shirts that if I only wear them on weekends I can get away with only wearing them twice in a twelve month period. So, yeah... that escalated quickly.

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doing that saturday shopping thing

not the right way to shop
I never got around to doing a Friday post yesterday, partly due to a slight obsession with watching a playthrough of the Fallout 3 video game on YouTube...

And really there wasn't a whole lot of anything to mention... other than the fact that at a certain point during the week everyone at work got a little needy...

It was more than just that they wanted me to do things, it was things outside the norm and also the repetition of things. I had almost the exact same conversation about online survey tools with three separate people in two days.

But on the up side, I did get a couple of parcels I was waiting for during the week... and then sent a parcel off to Miss Oh along with a nice long rambley message inside a card I happened to have lying around. Hopefully she'll like the book.

I was a little bit slack over the last couple of days, so the apartment was a little bit of a mess, and I fully intended to get up nice and early, make myself a hot beverage and get to work tidying up.

Alas, that didn't actually happen, at least not the early part or the beverage part. Instead I overslept and then got up and scrambled around to get everything tidied and put away, including changing my bedding, before Ma arrived. Thankfully, like the old place, it doesn't really take all that long to tidy up this place, especially since about half of the mess was just clean dishes that I hadn't gotten around to putting away.

But I was still getting dressed when Ma arrived.

The shopping portion was about the same as usual... although I decided I was going to make some regular chicken soup this week, after the very successful Chicken and Chorizo Minestrone soup I made last week (which I need to revisit again, but with less pasta, more stock and real life actual chorizo instead of the sausages/salami I had to substitute) that I want to try my hand at making some proper chicken soup... but totally sans any kind of noodle or pasta, since that's always what absorbs all the liquid and screws it up for me.

After that we had a wander around Target... and I will just say a general "fuck you" to Target currently... I don't know if they're reducing the amount of menswear generally, but I know that they've drastically reduced the amount of clothing in my size range. So a decided "fuck you" there.

Normally we would have been off to Bowerbird Bazaar today, but neither of us were particularly bothered... sure there are occasionally interesting things, but I miss the days when it was a little tiny thing in a small venue and a little bit underground (not literally)... and while it was busy, it wasn't quite so intense and crowded. Yeah, I know, #firstworldproblems... and also a combination of hipster "I liked it before it was cool" and old people "get off my lawn/things were better in the old days".

We ended up deciding to head into the city, Ma wanted a couple of new watch batteries, and I really didn't have any better suggestions.

As usual when we don't really have a proper plan, we just ended up wandering from Rundle Street all the way up the Mall and then back again. But Ma got her watch batteries, I got some cheap sheets of cardboard sheets from Spotlight thanks to their escalating discounts.

Then we stopped off at Burger Theory and sampled their new Burger of the Month, the Honky-Tonkatsu... panko crusted pork steak, cabbage, kewpie mayo and tonkatsu sauce. So damn good! Tender and crunchy and spicy and just yum.

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