Best theatre? Has to be the Hayes production of Calamity Jane at the Belvoir. I nearly didn’t get to see it because I had to swap tickets, but it all worked out on the night, including bonus Schmitz as one of the audience on stage. There was singing, and drinking, and moments when it went hilariously off the rails, but that just made it completely brilliant. It was just rousing good fun. And man, I’ve needed that.
Saw Toby Schmitz on-stage at the Belvoir in Dance of Death. It was mighty fine, if somewhat circular as the two creatures seemed to just fight and pick and destroy out of boredom, but isn’t everyone like that these days.
Best film? Oh dear. The one I walked away from most happy was the year’s worst film, according to the rest of the world. Yes, the script sucked, with huge gaping plot holes, precious little character development (I suspect I’d get more in the traditional mummers play) and it was a historical drama made by someone who hated history – which perhaps explains why they struggled and failed to find any meaningful motivation for any of the thin plot threads and characters, when a simple glance at Wikipedia would have provided ample resources for corruption, conspiracy and social unrest in the period investigated. This was one time they really could have legit referenced the templars. Ah well. What can I say? I’m a sucker for favourite actors in a favourite trope. My own little fandom. It’s a real fixer-upper.
Tim Minchin seemed a touch restrained in said filum, but then the last time I saw him was at that train-wreck of a talk/argument/manifesto with Ben Quilty at the art gallery, where there was much red wine being sloshed about, and it didn’t look like they were on their first glass, but that was highly entertaining – and even managed to be thought provoking as they did make valid points about the state of arts and arts funding, and the class system pertaining to same, especially regarding access and support. In vino veritas. If only I could have seen a little of that fire and ‘fr the people’ ethos in the film.
I also saw Tim Minchin at Tropfest, which is now screened near home, and that is also fun. Films weren’t as good as the year before, but it’s nice to do the yartz with a smaller commute.
Hugo Weaving also popped up a few times this year. Saw him in a brutally on-point Arturo Ui at the STC, which, being a little closer to politics that I want to or should be (sometimes, like Game of Thrones, dragons happen) I found more seat squirming than an enjoyable night at the theatre, but it was all the more effective for it. He reminded me very much of the same character, in some ways, in Mortal Engines, though more restrained and less based on, shall we say, the headlines.
I was lucky enough to a win a ticket to a fan screening of Mortal Engines (which was a much needed treat) and Hugo Weaving was there, and Perter Jackson and co, for the question and answer session after the show, and Hugo spoke more about his craft than he ever does at the STC q and as, which I try to go to. Film was pretty good, too. It certainly created a world I’d like to explore more (even though the characters I found most interesting, ahem, probably won’t be returning for any sequels).
I also won a weekend in Potts Point and tickets to a Taste of Honey at the Belvoir and free drinks voucher. All curtesy the Belvoir and such a treat. The hotel was an old 20s art deco block of flats, sparsely furnished with the short of shower you end up telling stories about, but it was so close to cafes and the shops. We dined well, found a lovely café for dinner. The next morning I had brekkie in a faux euro café and went to the markets. Then we walked to the theatre, stopping for Vietnamese tapas on the way. I had a big envelope with programmes, tickets and drinks vouchers waiting for me. It was special. And the play featured my beloved Josh McConville as a louche rake, so that was fun. It was all very 50s working class northern British, like all those black and white films Gem screens.
It was really quite fun to spend a weekend in the bijou inner city, just to pretend I’m living the life, and a nice respite from all the demolition and building at home. When they knocked down old Mrs Coleman’s old 30s Californian bungalow, built solidly for US officers in WWII, as was that whole street, which is why it’s always been oddly main street, USA, in look and feel, it went down with such a mighty world-ending thump the house didn’t just shake but it shifted on its stumps.
I’m sure the laundry door having to be replaced (well, it got stuck so it had to be fixed but it wasn’t worth saving so $2000 for a new door and install) and maybe even the gutters falling off in one of the lesser storms ($5000) had nothing to do with it. In any case, with all that and having a bad cough for four months, I gave up my holidays (and dropped out of my language course and my new thick coat is still wrapped in plastic). Sigh.
I did have one small escape. I did a tour of some art galleries down south, travelling by train to Adelaide and taking in Impressionists from the Musée d'Orsay, plus a rousing screening of Lady Windemere’s Fan. Back on the train to Bendigo to see the Marimekko exhibition. It was my second trip to Bendigo this year, I’d been the first time to see the Edith Head costumes exhibition, once I figured I could get there via planes, trains and buses. The Edith Head exhibition was the best. Cary Grant’s suit from To Catch a Thief! So much cool stuff. Loved Bendigo, too. Took me a day to warm to it, it reminded me of my home town in the before times. Stayed in this grand, gothic old pile of a Victorian gold rush hotel. Rode on the heritage tram. Visited a joss house from the gold rush era and the world’s oldest and longest imperial dragon, kept for parades, housed in its very own house – an actual dragon stable!
Then it was off to Melbourne. Did the hipster café thing, the euro café thing, did the shopping thing. Did Vikings at the Melbourne Museum (they said the old Norse gods are gone when I had a Thor keyring dangling from my bag) and Alice in Wonderland (trippy) at ACMI but the best of the best was MOMA at the NGV. Hopper, Liechtenstein, Warhol, Kahlo, Dali, too many to mention without grabbing the hefty catalogue. It was just candy after candy after candy in room, after room after room. They even brought out Drowning Girl, my old-time favourite (and the fourth city I’ve seen her in). Squee.
But wait, there’s more. I also managed to fit in a comic con while I was there, and I’d treated myself to an expensive ticket (thinking I’d be kind to myself with guaranteed seats and entry) and I ended up getting a big hug from KJ Appa when I mentioned a job I’d been working on – he approved. Ok, it was worth working all weekend for no pay, almost, for that hug. At least, life was a bit better that weekend, really enjoyed myself.
Did two other cons this year, had two favourite actors parrot their best lines back at me, which was cheesy and what I’d paid for, but I was pleased. Yep, I finally met Cary Elwes. Big tick there. He’s a sweetheart.
I also did a run down to Canberra to see the Rome exhibition (brilliant), the Heath Ledger exhibition (Heath! Forever!), tikis, Captain Cook, a fantastic survey of 1968 from the NLA collection (everything from revolutionaries to space travel to Skippy to Star Trek), Cartier jewels (which was a lot more macabre than I dared to hope) and art deco, pop art and Australian impressionists at the NGA.