The Downton Abbey movie is here! I hope it lives up to everyone’s expectations.
First signs of spring (however, there’s one last blast of winter on its way over the coming few days!)
I am VERY busy at the moment. VERY. That is all I have to say this week! (Except that if you’re having a bad week, maybe watch this Belarusian man driving his horse-drawn car!)
Hannibal from next door now comes to hang out with Crazy Cat.
Crazy Cat (the grey one) is ENORMOUS.
I had the opportunity to attend a special screening of Danger Close – The Battle of Long Tan last night with some Vietnam veterans (including my father) and other members of the Australian Defence Force. They actually had a counsellor there just in case, and now I understand why – it was quite the experience.
Long Tan is the best-known battle Australia (and New Zealand) fought in the Vietnam War, but I was still amazed both by the quality of the movie, and the actors in it. The “face” of the movie is Major Harry Smith, played by Travis Fimmel, of Vikings fame.
In the 1960s my father was an armoured personnel carrier driver stationed in Nui Dat, which is the base under attack in the movie. He later fought another major battle only a few kilometres from the base: Binh Ba, which had its fiftieth anniversary this year.
It was amazing to see people my father knows portrayed on the big screen, and to know people who consulted on the film.
I would strongly recommend this movie, as long as you’re prepared for it. It’s very confronting, and that much sadder because none of it is fiction.
This was actually last Sunday afternoon, when I walked to the local shops. The mountains around Canberra are beautiful.
This was a supremely busy week. I’ve been trying to get a new manuscript written in an impossible space of time (in addition to the other books I’ve been working on). From mid-morning on Tuesday to the early hours of Sunday I managed to type just under 30 000 words – about a third of a book!
I did, however, go into the city last night to see The White Crow, a movie about Rudolph Nureyev (and starring a few Ukrainians!). That was followed by an amazing dinner at Morning Glory.
The White Crow is the only ballet movie I’ve seen that is realistic. It also did a good job of reconstructing life in the Soviet Union. In fact – as someone with family and friends from one end of Ukraine and Russia to the other – it depicted life as it still is for many.
I hope to write a post about it soon, but I’m guessing that I’ll be too busy to remember!
Oh, and my publisher sent me this:
A note: I am spreading the posts I already have scheduled out over the coming months, rather than posting pretty much every day as I have been for ages. One of the main reasons for this is that this blog now feeds into my Goodreads author page, and it’s starting to seem like spam!
How is it only a few days until winter – we’re still having t-shirt weather! (It’s due to change in the coming week, however.)
R.I.P. to Niki Lauda. The Formula One paddock won’t be the same. I used to sit near pit lane at every Australian Grand Prix, and he was always, always there.
Here are some pictures from last weekend. The first is Victorian architecture in Goulburn, New South Wales, where we stopped for lunch on the way home from Sydney (Goulburn features in my books). The second is the approach to the Sydney Opera House the night before:
Iconic romantic comedy movie Notting Hill had its premiere in the United Kingdom on the 21st of May, 1999.
I moved to Notting Hill – the real place in London – in 2001, and the movie’s impact was everywhere. I’d be heading off to the laundrette with bags of washing, only to run into American tourists (and their long-suffering boyfriends!) searching my street for “Hugh Grant’s blue door”. While Portobello Road Market was always popular, things had got totally out of control, and they’d started assigning police officers to the exit of Notting Hill Gate Tube station to do some crowd control, and to help lost tourists with directions.
I’m not much of a romantic comedy movie viewer, but this one is special to me.
Historical film Mr Jones – about a Welsh journalist who risked his life to tell the truth about Stalin’s 1930s genocide in Ukraine – is out this month, beginning with a premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.
Unlike the Holocaust, the Kremlin’s forced famine genocide – known as the Holodomor – escaped the world’s notice mostly because Western journalists, many of them advocates of communism, spent decades denying it.
Conservative estimates of the death toll put it on par with the Holocaust, while others place the numbers much higher; up to ten-million Ukrainians killed between 1932 and 1933. The numbers vary so much because, unlike the Germans who documented every aspect of the Holocaust, the Russian authorities have done everything in their power to hide their crimes.
(It should be noted that the Kremlin committed another genocide, in Kazakhstan, at the same time, killing 42% of their population.)
Gareth Jones, played in the movie by English actor James Norton, saw the Holodomor firsthand, and went against the lead of Stalin-friendly journalists like The New York Times’ Walter Duranty to try and get the truth out beyond the Iron Curtain.
Jones was only twenty-nine when he was murdered, one day shy of his thirtieth birthday.
This film seems incredibly important in this day and age, with people once again reacting to rising fascism by identifying as communists and sympathising with Russia. As this Variety article points out, we live in a similar age to the 1930s, with propaganda and “fake news” dominating much of the press, and most of the world turning a blind eye to atrocities being committed by the Kremlin, and by the regimes in countries like Syria.
…That when the 1995 movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion was released on video in the United States, Columbia Tristar decided it wasn’t sexy enough.
And so they replaced the actors on the poster/cover with this:
It’s especially appalling as many consider Persuasion 1995 to be the best Jane Austen adaptation. With a cast of renowned theatre actors, it is nothing like that image implies.
For comparison, here is the real leading couple in the movie. (Seriously, that wasn’t sexy enough? This is Jane Austen, not Fabio!). I’m not sure if it still is, but the entire movie used to be available to watch on YouTube.
So, with a few days to go until Christmas, here’s thirty-eight-year-old Macaulay Culkin recreating Kevin McCallister from Home Alone in a Google ad.