Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

Archive for the ‘Films, DVDs, TV’ Category


I thought it delightful that ABC had scheduled (unknowingly of course) Choir Of Hard Knocks Opera House Special for the first day of the Rudd government.

Twelve months ago Jonathon Welch brought together a group of Melbourne’s disadvantaged to form a choir, but had no idea what a sensation the choir would become. Now the 42 members of the Choir of Hard Knocks have been invited to perform in the Opera House concert hall.

Taking such a disparate group on the road is a risky venture, and the stakes are high. It’s a real show of faith in the Choir, and nerve racking for the organisers. It’s a massive logistical operation given the varied emotional and physical needs of the choristers. For most, it will be their first time on a plane or their first trip interstate.
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Written by Neil

November 26, 2007 at 8:42 am

Two passing thoughts

1. Small joys of blogging: right now someone in Kathmandu is reading Friday Australian poem #11: “Because” by James McAuley. Everyone should…

2. On tonight’s Compass I found myself most drawn to Inga Clendinnen, historian and atheist, and least to Jim Wallace.

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Written by Neil

November 18, 2007 at 10:34 pm

A sixty years old movie and memories of a similar vintage

Last night, thanks to Surry Hills Library’s DVD collection, I watched Black Narcissus (1947). To quote Screen Online:

Powell and Pressburger’s delirious melodrama is one of the most erotic films ever to emerge from British cinema, let alone in the repressed 1940s – it was released just two years after David Lean’s Brief Encounter (1945), with its more typically ‘British’ story of desire denied.

Starting from a controversial novel by Rumer Godden – an Englishwoman living long-term in India – Powell and Pressburger fashioned a taut melodrama of unusually fierce passions and barely contained erotic tension. Although the script never directly challenged the strict standards of the censors, it hardly needs saying that the repressed desires of nuns was not a common – or safe – subject for a British film in 1947.
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Written by Neil

November 16, 2007 at 10:08 am

TV lately

I have now watched a couple of episodes of The Librarians and am sad to say (after Summer Heights High) it is a bit of a dud. Just too many ideas running around, not all of them funny. The website is, however, brilliant — better than the show. I do admit there is more than a passing resemblance to Surry Hills Library though.

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Written by Neil

November 8, 2007 at 10:11 am

Historians are not cheerleaders

While not disagreeing that respect should be paid to those who have served in the Australian Defence Forces, especially those who died, and while not applauding the cheerleaders of the extreme Left either, I do worry about some of the points made today by Gerard Henderson in Due respect at last – from most.

…As Remembrance Day approaches, it is appropriate to recall that the fallen have not always been so honoured. For years, many academics and commentators have maintained that Australians fought in other people’s wars – which covered every commitment from World War I [1914-18] to the first Gulf war (1990-91), with the exception of the Pacific war against Japan in the early 1940s.

This fashionable leftist view – which reached its zenith with the release of the film Gallipoli (director: Peter Weir; screenplay: David Williamson; historical adviser: Bill Gammage) in 1981 – essentially maintained that Australia’s fallen had died in vain…

My uncle, Driver Alan Dargavel, died 90 years ago tomorrow on the Western Front during the final stages of the Third Battle of Ypres. This was not a stunning military success, although, as Australia’s official war historian C.E.W. Bean pointed out, it did have a deleterious effect on the German army.

Uncle Alan’s death had a devastating impact on my mother’s family and I learnt of him at an early age. I still think often about Alan Dargavel and I visited his grave at Dickiebusch in Belgium during my first visit to Europe.

My family did not want to be told by tenured academics that he died in vain. Yet this was the view that emanated from universities around the 1960s until relatively recent times. In The Anzacs (Viking, 2007) Dr Peter Pedersen, who has served in the Australian Defence Force, makes a compelling case that “Germany’s defeat was vital for Australia’s future” and that the members of the Australian Imperial Force “were fully aware of that”. As were their family members and loved ones on the home front.

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Written by Neil

November 6, 2007 at 9:26 am

Contrasts in my recent reading and viewing

I’m a sucker for film noir. Play “spot the movie” with this.

So I have enjoyed Elmore Leonard’s La Brava: wickedly good. The novel is a riff on the idea of film and celluloid, what is and what isn’t simulacrum… Makes it sound quite pomo, doesn’t it?

“He’s been taking pictures three years, look at the work,” Maurice said. “Here, this guy. Look at the pose, the expression. Who’s he remind you of?”

“He looks like a hustler,” the woman said.

“He is a hustler, the guy’s a pimp. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Here, this one. Exotic dancer backstage. Remind you of anyone?”

“The girl?”

“Come on, Evelyn, the shot. The feeling he gets. The girl trying to look lovely, showing you her treasures, and they’re not bad. But look at the dressing room, all the glitzy crap, the tinfoil cheapness.”

“You want me to say Diane Arbus?”

“I want you to say Diane Arbus, that would be nice. I want you to say Duane Michaels, Danny Lyon. I want you to say Winogrand, Lee Friedlander. You want to go back a few years? I’d like very much for you to say Walker Evans, too.”

“Your old pal.”

“Long, long time ago. Even before your time.”

A best read of 2007, even if the book is almost 25 years old!
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Written by Neil

October 30, 2007 at 12:26 pm

Summer Heights High

…has been a work of comic genius.


Yes it has been right out on the edge in what it dealt with and in the realism of its language. But I will say two things: I haven’t seen as total a set of character creations as the three that Chris Lilley simply inhabits: you could really be forgiven for thinking we had three different actors; Chris Lilley is a brilliant linguist and sociologist.

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Written by Neil

October 25, 2007 at 9:21 am