Sorry, being cranky again. Tired. Rough nights. Speaking of creatures, you know what you don't want when you're home alone? A large parrot thumping and rattling the door handle because they want to get in the kitchen. Think The Birds meets The Shining and you just about have it. (Didn't help that there was a stranger in the yard a short time later, upsetting everyone).
Speaking of creepy old and classic films, as I was abed all Saturday doiing the Victorian invalid thang (well, at least it wasn't a work day or night) and I was going to watch the dvds I had lined up but found instead such a cracking line up of films that it's like shall never schedule again. The Three Musketeers (1948), Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder and Gaslight. Whoo.
I did watch a couple of dvds though. Starter for Ten, which I've not seen in ages, and which had taken on some extra textual hilarity, such as Benedict uttering the extraordinarily Rathbone-ish 'So, we meet again', which cracked me up far more than it should. As pointed out in the extras, the mid-eighties were entirely different to the early or late eighties, and yes, it seems I came of age during the grumpy, everyone wearing black and listening to The Smiths and The Cure part of the Eighties (and you'd never guess, now, would you). Also, vaguely amused at the fact that they couldn't dress the main characters in proper 80s fashion because they wanted the audience to be sympathetic. Ah, yes. Perhaps it's a mercy that no photos of me exist (or were taken) way back when in my silly teen years (although the hair I'm wearing in My First Work ID is extraordinarily blackmailable). I only did a term of uni before I was sent out to work, so I guess I brood on missing out on all that (did two degrees part time at night, goodbye youth, fun and friends).
Never mind. McAvoy = adorable.
I also watched Case Histories, because it's screening here on Thursday and I remembered I'd bought it ages ago, on account of the good reviews and my abiding love of the Jase, and, as I was still up all Saturday night, I popped it in. It's not all that, but it's just exactly the sort of British tv mystery I've watched for the last two decades, well filmed, scripted and acted, and Jason, playing a somewhat damaged soul, was looking mighty fine, it must be said. Mighty fine indeed. Jason himself carries the plot on his broad shoulders, over some quite ridiculous cliches and coincidences, but it's all done very seriously, so you sort of go along with it (and I might have, still, had I not made the mistake of viewing the extras with the author who sounded such a twit). Look, there's some very pretty Scottish scenery and Jason gets his shirt off. Some crimes get sort of solved, but that's really incidental. At least, it was to me in the sticky close heat and spiky unwell in which I was watching it, anyway.
Oh, and it was the hydra I was thinking of the other day. They had one in Merlin, and helpfully kept hammering on about the whole ineffectual head cutting deal, just to make sure I'd really grasped it. Still, who is the Harryhausen fan over there (I draw your attention to the skeleton warriors in a previous episode). Whoever it is, keep up the good work. Ray's stuff still looks way cooler than the best cgi Merlin can afford (sigh), but I enjoy the loving homages. And speaking of loving, there was a lot of smirking going on during the viewing, with the peanut gallery piping up with the oft used Buffy quote 'Subtext rapidly becoming text!' where I remarked there were more panders than a Chinese zoo (boom, tish, sorry, had to sit through that crap comedian twice), and we had a drinking came re Bradley's clothes constantly falling off (all done in the best possible taste, of course), and then I saw the cover of the latest GT to hit these shores and, well, yes, not actually watching it wrong, I think. I had noticed they'd upped the ooo-er quotient when it was clear they weren't making any US mainstream sales any more. I approve. It's tacky and silly and over the top, but anything that makes me giggle on a Sunday arvo can't be all bad.
Also, this episode had some fine work from Colin, far more like the boy I know from the stage, and his elderly wizzard is very Catweazle-like, and I can say that with some authority. having seen Mr Geoffery Blaydon doing much the same in Doctor Who the other day. I can't remember why Catweazle was so beloved when I was an infant, I just know that he was, and the delight that bubbled up to greet Mr Blaydon's appearance on screen surprised me yet again.
Oh, it was also the end of Wild Boys, which was axed so they can have more stupid shows, but, well, shrug. It did sag in the middle, it probably needed a bit more development and ideas, scriptwise, but I liked it. It was fun, in a way few things are fun these days. Worse, the two things that were the most ludicrous, that I would normally be calling shennanigans on, I can't. It's all a case of truth being stranger than fiction.
Okay, Dan being an exiled earl, scoff-worthy you say. Actually, no. They were called remittance men and the colony was awash in young coves and bastards from aristocratic and upright familes who paid their wayward offspring to go away and never return, hence the remittance. I've actually held the real death certificate of a chap whose father's occupation was listed as 'king of England'. So, no, silly as it was, I must bow to the facts being the facts.
Ditto the 19thC magic lantern powerpoint demonstration. I've seen old magic lantern powerpoint style slides down in ACMI and so, again, I must let it pass as historical fact. Actually, clever of them to use it, so many shows forget the 19thC was quite modern in many ways, and err on the side of prudery and a sort of extreme anti-ananchronism where anything that was actually used or done at the time, being seen as too 'modern', is excised.
Damn shame to see it go (so beautifully filmed, with such handsome boys), but at least Dan and Jack rode off into the sunset together. They really did. Perfect.
Supernatural was quite fun last night. Still with the fan-bashing, but big with the Sammy bitch face, so that was priceless, and, well, I was probably ready to be amused by anything at that stage, but I do love the Winchesters so. Bonus guest pop in by Crowley, too, so my night was made.
Oh, the Peanut Gallery was going on about some set of little poplets singing about Aleister Crowley and pronouncing it wrong, and if there's one name you don't want to mispronounce, that'd probably be it. I asked him if he wanted to say the name out loud one more time. He said no, we didn't have enough clean cups. Snerk.
Oh, while indulging in the ironing I also ploughed through some westerns, including Big Valley, with Martin Landau playing a Mexican the way only an east coast method actor can (ie, yikes), and the Shatner trying to rip off his shirt more times than Bradley James in The Virginian. For the record, the Shat never came close, but he did milk his death scene for all it was worth and then some. Lawks. I do so love a cradled in the arms of the best buddy making grand declarations while dripping the tomato sauce scene.
Supernatural is totally a western, and I'm so bemused they actually owned this, and what do we call the late and lamented (by me, at least) Wild Boys? A southern? You know, it was the silly plots they ripped off American westerns was where it fell down. It just did not apply here, but I guess they were making it with an eye to international sales, and did silly, American things when they could have been more crazily Oz, the way Spirited is/was. Ah well. If I want hot boys on horses I guess I'm stuck with Merlin for now.
As for White Collar, which I finally got to see, no thanks to the power company, well. A bit disappointing they used the whole black widow plot, if only because I'd dabbled in same (in a shameless steal from The Saint, which I used to kick off the fic, and it worked, two years and 2mb later), once again, instead of using Neal, it's Peter who is put in an adulterous situation for presumably comedic effect, and made to seem the worst sort of Maxwell Smart bumbler. No, I take it back, Max was far more suave, and he got the girl. And the girl. Well, brushing over the fact that I've always found Tiff annoying (what is it with the casting of this show) what is it with Neal's so-called gal, 'cause she looks, walks and talks but most importantly dresses like a pre-op tranny. It'd be a hell of a lot more interesting if she was, but, Neal, seriously, it's someone dressed up like a Joan Collins tribute act that floats your boat? You are a strange little boy indeed.
Ah, well, at least the picnic basket for Diana showed he isn't a complete arsehole, but I do wish he could be that kind to Peter. Every now and then. Hell, even over on Merlin, Arthur drops the act and demonstrates just how much Merlin means to him, from time to time, but hey, that's Merlin, the GT cover boys. White Collar, it's strictly still in the closet - smirk. Well, yes, Diana, but lipstick chicks never, ever count. That's just smutty little boy fantasy fodder. Okay, yes, the same could be said for the hot knights of the round table, but that's another demographic of smutty little boys we're talking about now.
Oh, whatever, I'm just not getting my required buddy fix from the show. And now Wild Boys is gone, well, it's just me and the kerniggets, I guess. Ecuse me while I flick through those GT pages again. Oh my, oh my indeed. Thank you, British television, as always.
Wednesday. Went to see Julius Caesar at the Opera House last night. When I booked the tickets, I was thinking warm summer night, sunset, oysters at the oyster bar overlooking the quay/bridge. Nope. Raining cats and dogs, cold, wet, miserable, my only amusement coming from finding an open coffee shop and watching cold wet tourists drip past (and the odd celebrity).
The play though, that was the thing. I love the Bell Shakespeare company. I really love them. I never did, I found it all a bit confronting in my tender years, but after being eased into theatreland by the kinder, gentler Brits, I now find the version of JC I saw at the RSC rather pale and thin compared to this version, which made you sit up in your seat and attend (well, as much as I could, the sleep deprivation threatened to sink me a couple of times but that had nothing to do with the players, gosh, no, they were brilliant).
The sparse set, a ruined, scaffolded column, surrounded by the sort of chairs you'd find in any office lobby, represented Rome and the senate, and it did. The rotting column was spot on for the ones I remember from Rome, missing only three black cats and an upended milk crate (extra-textual, much?).
The play, very condensed, but true to the important bits (and, just for once, I wasn't going to stand on being a purist, I found it really dragged the last time I saw it), with some stagey bits such as the use of microphones and speakers and sound effects, carried over from Faust, it seems, but it helped make a small company into a crowd, and the stark lighting and slow motion walks across he stages, hilarious as it might sound to describe, really added gravitas to what was just a square space and a handful of players. The scene where Big Julie gets his was brilliant, the best I've ever seen, what a terrible thing that two old biddies clattered in with whirling canes just as Brutus delivered that fateful blow. Miserable old hags (why they kept letting in late commers I'll never know but it's become a thing with the traffic the way it is these days).
In this version, Caesar is played, post Tony Soprano, as a prick, really, there was no shades, and I could see why Brutus would fall in with Cassius's plot to off the blighter. It was only later, when Brutus tried to spin the assassination, that he lost audience sympathy, as Antony masterfully spun it back. These speeches were also the best I've ever seen, Brutus leaning over the railings, railing, shouting, losing the crowd, and then Antony, with his serpent's sincerity, playing this side and that. This Antony was a lizard whose rock and roll lifestyle belied a steel sharp political heart and mind. Also, very hard not to titter as he delivered the big speech (you know, the one that begins with 'friends') with such a strong Auckland accent, which always sounds like a Melbourne accent from the 60s (cf newsreels, Homicide), it did crack me up, just a bit. In fact the whole audience tittered at the line 'How many ages hence, Shall this our lofty scene be acted over, In states unborn and accents yet unknown!'. Indeed.
Cassius, played by a sharp faced young woman, was never more lean, hungry, ambitious or vicious, and, being played by a woman, added more of a spiteful bunny boiler Lady MacBeth vibe to the thing. Cassius was not a happy bunny and wanted everyone to know it. There were great scenes of conspiracy, and the scene where Cassius and Brutus have their big tiff before Phillipi, whoo.
The battle was done by building up the scaffold on the stage, with clashes and cangs, and ended with Brutus still looking for friends in all the wrong places.
It was really good, much to say on politics and friendship and the politics of friendship and how the weaknesses of men can make such a stain on the world stage, and, well, we all know how that goes.
Great night out, even if I did end up soggy and tripping over my skirt and tearing the hem, again - what is with it with me and that skirt?
Also, I wasn't hallucinating random O'Loughlins as I thought, as there was a very good reason as to why that guy in the suit doing the whole Reservoir Dogs thing looked suspiciously O'Loughlin-like. Oh well, he was safe, on the other side of the glass. Always best.
Wish I'd have known, though, I'd have worked up a bit more squee instead of telling myself sternly not to be so silly and going back to studying my theatre programme. Missed opportunity to forward tackle a celebrity #397.
GQ Australia Men Of The Year Awards 2011