taking things slow

It’s hard to think of interesting things to say. A couple of years at home and most regular chatting is with family or work. Sydney has had it much easier than other places, especially Victoria, yet somehow I’ve been extra cautious anyway…spent bulk of year easing toward normality then all of a sudden lockdown 2. It seemed harder this time. Last time, I tried to imitate normality, even weekend brekkies in the car. This time I had brekky at home and left house a lot less. Also I lived in an LGA of concern which meant extra limits and a 5km radius.

Lockdown is over and while still cautious, I am moving a little quicker to get out more. Caught up with a few friends last week, some of whom I hadn’t seen in nearly 2 years, and others a year ago. Yesterday, we made it down to Bowral to my partner’s mother’s place; we were last there in June pre lockdown. Every time I walk into the Bowral house, I relax and feel at ease. I have missed visiting. I don’t do phonecalls well though new hearing aids means I handle calls so much better – except everyone is used to me not handling phonecalls and old habits die hard :)

Last lockdown it was a few months before I returned to the office one day a week – that was too long and I don’t think the absence was healthy. This time round I’m returning within a few weeks and this week will be my first back in the office. I love working from home, when there are options for getting out; less fun when you’re stuck and every day is the same.

Sydney film festival has started and I am missing it this year. Last year we watched it virtually, this year it’s in person but I’m not making it at all. Too soon after lockdown. It’s a lot of people at once. I do not want to deal with whatever a filmfest people crush looks like in the time of covid. Because deafness, I need to ask people to remove masks so I can hear them…which ain’t fun for other people currently.

rusty taps

My focus for now is low key catch ups with people close.

My focus is also books. As always. Reading and buying.

Dune. Centipede Press have finally put up for sale their edition of Dune. As noted elsewhere, I was on the pre-order list for years. 2 weeks ago, it was released. There were 800 people on the pre-order list and around 570 copies up for grabs (500 numbered but first 100ish to subscribers, 421-500 for other distributors; 250 unsigned/unnumbered). I had no idea where I was in the queue and emails were sent out in batches of 200, starting from 2.30am Sunday morning Sydney time.

I am happy to report that I was in the first batch and my paypal receipt notes that my purchase was finalised at 2:31:48am :-) Turns out a couple of years is a long time on a mailing list, especially one that includes COVID-19. When I first went on the list I think pricing was anticipated around US$400, and the final price was US$625 and almost everyone on the list, or at least almost everyone on the list in the relevent facebook group, managed to get a copy.

Most expensive book I have ever bought but it’s worth it for Dune and Centipede is one of my favourite presses for producing amazing books with good paper and binding choices. The downside is that it is book 1 of 6 (by Frank Herbert) and I will be getting the other 5 (not sure what the schedule but one a year perhaps is realistic). Within 24 hours, someone had sold a copy for US$2,500 (4 times the cost) which doesn’t really surprise me.

sff sorta

Yesterday was the official start of the Sydney filmfest…online version. Wednesday night is also the night of our weekly online trivia with friends so we decided to stick with that and watch some shorts afterwards. Famous last words.

I was curious how it was going to work and the FAQ supplied by the fest was a little light on detail. I initially tried casting from my new laptop to the TV and could not find the TV on the network. Then tried running it on my android phone and still couldn’t cast and the phone browser for the SFF site wanted me to download the SHIFT72 app which I did. Except that the SHIFT72 app didn’t have any SFF content and SFF have confirmed this morning they’re not using SHIFT72 to deliver festival content.

We then tried using the built in browser on the TV itself (the TV is running full android) without success and was again asked to download the SHIFT72 app. Last resort was to try a cabled HDMI connection from my laptop to the TV. Of course my new laptop only supports USB-C so I dug out my old laptop (which mostly works) and used its HDMI connection. Took a bit for the TV to recognise it but we got there in the end and were able to watch a couple of good shorts.

Failure points: me trying to troubleshoot tech issues after a whisky or two meant I got increasingly frazzled. Thinking about it in the light of day, I have a vague recollection that I need to switch on casting on the TV itself prior to casting from the laptop. Will test that this evening. A further thought this morning re USB-C, I do have a USB-C to USB-A converter which means I potentially could plug the new laptop into the USB-A port on the TV. I may even have a USB-A to HDMI converter, if so that could work too though curious as to the effect of having two chained converters.

Troubleshooting network stuff is a little tricky at the moment as I’m running wifi channels on both the old router and the new Orbi mesh setup. The TV is on the old, the laptops are on the new which shouldn’t be a problem as other things work. The new setup is piped off the old router and the plan will be to switch off wifi broadcasting on the old one eventually. I need to keep the old router in play as the Orbi gear doesn’t have a plug option for landline telephones and the old router does.

filmfest where are thou

Sydney filmfest 2016

It’s Saturday. The start of the long weekend. In years gone by, this was the starting weekend of the Sydney Film Festival. True, it used to start a night or three earlier but it didn’t really feel like filmfest until you hit the weekend. Previously a film, maybe two a night…after work; films but one of several events in the day. Come the weekend, and filmfest is the thing around which everything else revolves; it is the focus, the destination, the journey, seemingly everything that matters. Films in the morning, films in the afternoon, films in the evening.

Actually that’s not quite true. I don’t do films in the morning anymore; I value the importance of sleep. I like to think this means I am approaching filmfest in a healthier space. Mostly, it’s the weekend and sleeping in trumps all.

This year it’s a bit different. Filmfest is on but reduced. It starts after the weekend not before. Filmfest is online and at home. Like olden days I get to sit in the same seat for every screening, though it will be my comfy armchair. Not this year will I need to worry about the dash from Opera Quays, through the Vivid crowd, to wherever the next film is on, in the fastest possible time. We can watch the films at home, at the times we want to watch them while sitting in our comfy chairs. We don’t need to smuggle bottles of wine into the cinema, just grab one from the wine rack nearby. Luxury.

I will miss the people. Running into friends, old and new. The people I used to sit with. Folk from long ago. Casual chats. Queues. I will actually miss the queues whether it be for film or food. Queues are a sort of pause, a time out, where you can be stuck with your thoughts.

This I think, will be my 28th filmfest. How time flies.

updated flicks

Surprisingly, I have finally migrated my movie ratings over from my backup of the dead zip to the current site. As with many migrations, the bulk was fine – literally cut and paste from the backup html – followed by some massaging of the results. There was the odd carriage return and a whole bunch of accents that didn’t seem to migrate well. Still, relatively painless for several hundred lines of code/content.

State Theatre neon signThe bulk of the content covers 2001-2005 with a little bit of 2007 and 2016. There’s some inbetween years where I was at least writing paragraph summaries of filmfest viewings and I think I can convert them to starred ratings. I liked my approach in 2016 of adding a short line of thoughts to complement the rating. Will see if I can add that for some of the older ones and do it some more going forward.

A lot of interesting films in the 2000s. Not fully sure what I’m going to do with it all. Part of me is a little interested in creating a personal database of all my film stuff, fully normalised of course. Certainly I need to explore merging the basic starred stuff with the reviews I’ve written.

To start with, here is a list of everything I gave a 5 star rating to. I’ll do a new version of this when I add the rest of the content:

 

filmfest 2019

Filmfest is done and dusted for another year. Saw 25 films altogether of which but two were documentaries. Unsurprisingly documentaries aren’t really my thing. I think I had a reasonable festival this year seeing a bunch of good movies, a few fab ones and a dud or two. In choosing my films I tried to go for stuff I either wouldn’t otherwise see, or were unlikely for a later release. This did mean I missed some good stuff but it was good to push myself into less familiar territory.

No festival is really complete without seeing something too long for a regular cinema release and this year that film, at 7.5 hours (with 2 ten minute intermissions) was Sátántangó, a restored 1994 Hungarian movie. It was long and slow, yet interesting. It played with techniques, particularly around multiple perspectives and jumping around in the timeline. At the same, it spent a lot of time on observational shots, many minutes watching a character, or characters, go about their business. There was a sense of larger metaphors and indeed, the blurb referred to it as an allegory of the decline of Hungarian Communism. I sorta feel I need to read an essay or three to fully appreciate it.

Surprisingly for me, the film that won best picture, Parasite [Sth Korea], was also one of my favourites. I tend to find my choices out of sync with the broader audience and it is rare for my favourites to appear in the top bunch for festival goers. Parasite by Bong Joon-ho, who also did Snowpiercer, had a nice, warm flow which was never going to end well, yet took some surprising twists in narration as it spiralled down toward the end. It mixed genres deftly, and with humour, while remaining consistent in its social critique.

My faves

Other interesting titles

Things I missed and hope to see later

a few fillums

It’s cold and wet in Sydney which means it must be time for the Sydney film fest. Not sure how many movies I’m seeing this year though starting tonight with a thriller from Michael Winterbottom, The Wedding Guest.

A couple of weeks ago, we went through the programme working out what movies we wanted to see. That was the easy bit. The hard bit was going through the schedule and choosing amongst all the timetable clashes to emerge eventually with a list of films and tickets.

Then the other day, filmfest announced a few more films that were at Cannes including a new flick from Ken Loach. Alas I can’t squeeze it in as I’m already seeing other films at either of the two screening times including a Russian splatter-fest. The Loach at least, should get a release later in the year so I can stick to the splatter this time round.

Splatter and me are sorta weird. I’m not fond of horror and feel faint and queasy at the sight of realistic depictions of surgery and wounds. Somehow I can handle splatter and zombies and even love them. Speaking of zombies, Jim Jarmusch has a zombie movie in fest but alas I couldn’t line up a screening so will wait for its commercial release.

things to do when there’s time

I haven’t had much time off this year and I’ve been feeling tired for a while. June-July tends to be a busy time for both work (end of financial year etc) and personal (filmfest, birthdays, etc) and it’s been hard to find spots to take a breather or get a few things done. My partner I do have a week planned for Tassie in mid August, and she’s taking the week before off to help Ms17 with exams. I’ve recently decided to take a week off after the Tassie trip and have it to myself though have offered to drive Ms17 around to print stuff for her HSC major work.

So I thought I’d make a list of things I’d like to get done as once I’m on holidays, any plans tend to go out the window and I fudge it day by day. Still, making a list has at least given me a useful list of things to do if I get stuck:

  • watch Twin Peaks – all of it. Despite loving David Lynch movies, I’ve never actually watched any of Twin Peaks. This is a distinct gap in my education.
  • Install internet mesh – I’ve been waiting for the NBN to be installed before going ahead with this project. We had the lawn dug up and cabling installed about a year ago but then it was put on hold forever…I think we’re now due end of this year or early next year. A mesh setup will improve connectivity within the house and reduce black spots while providing a single SSID for devices. That should also speed up access to stuff stored on the NAS and improve its usefulness.
  • Fix TV cabling – we’ve recently bought a smart TV but it seems to be competing at times with the PVR. At the moment both devices connect directly to the sound base and I suspect I should be connecting the PVR directly to the TV. It would also be nice to get the hearing aid loop working with the TV.
  • Enjoy life – this seems essential and shouldn’t be forgotten
  • Visit Bankstown Library – I worked there many years ago and still have friends there and I miss it. It was moved across the road to a new, fabulous building a couple of years ago and I still haven’t checked it out.
  • play some more with web archiving tools and analysis – haven’t touched it in a while and need to do some more. Plus I’m going to a conferenceThe path of the Kepler over a hill with blue sky peaking through the mist. in NZ in November on this stuff and hoping to learn lots more
  • Watch last Tomb Raider movie – missed it at the cinema…actually I miss quite a bit at the cinema these days.
  • Drive somewhere – ’cause random drives are fun
  • Re-watch some things eg Interview with a Vampire, Charlie’s Angels
  • watch a bunch of episodes of The Avengers – I bought the box last year and I would like to work my way through all the seasons
  • Sew buttons – my favourite shirt has lost a button, as has an old jacket. It’d be nice to sew them back on and be able to wear them
  • Listen to my ipod – sometimes it’s just nice to put the headphones on and bop around the house
  • do some reading – I would anyway but seemed odd not to include it in the list

I suspect I will keep adding to this list and not get most of it done. That’s ok.

filmfest at last…almost

Sydney Film Festival gets underway tomorrow night. As I described last year, it was a fun time going through the programme working out everything I wanted to see. Followed by working out a schedule that was actually achievable. Even though I managed to get my act together earlier this year, we found that some things were selling out faster so we had to make a few last minute changes. On the other hand, because one film had sold out, I was able to get into another film that a friend was responsible for which I had very sadly passed on…bad friend am I. They changed the android app this year and it wasn’t available initially, then it wasn’t working at all, and they finally got it stable last Friday. Has improved some and is running faster.

Looks like I’m only seeing 26 fillums this year – I must be getting old:

Unbelievably, I’m not seeing any movies on the 14th! That night I’m going to a whisky tasting of new Australian whiskies :-)

braindead

The name of an awesome movie from the dude that later did the Lord of the Rings movies, and my current state of mind. Drove to Orange and back on the weekend, around 4 hours each way. Slept well last night but feeling fatigued. Speaking of Braindead, I recall many years ago, turning up on a Saturday to the Valhalla to see Peter Jackson’s first three films:

I think it was around the time that Braindead was released as Peter Jackson was there in person to introduce each movie and answer questions at the end, barefooted on stage. It was a fun, hilarious day. I’d originally seen the first two on VHS and that was my first screening of the third. It seems somewhat timely to think back to that as there’s a raunchier muppets movie coming out and there’s already comparisons to Meet the Feebles.

more sheep (there are spoilers)

…which sounds like it could be a line introducing the planned Settlers of Catan movie.

But no, I of course refer to a second movie picking up on the themes of Philip K Dick‘s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”. As an aside, thankfully, googling “android” and “dick” produced far less scary results than anticipated. Dick’s greatness far exceeds dodgy pr0n references. DADOES as it is often shortened to, is possibly Dick’s second best novel, the best generally regarded as The Man in the High Castle. I tend not to disagree.

When the first version of the first movie was released in, I think, 1982 or 3, I wasn’t able to see it. Dad however, bought me the book. I was 14 at the time. It blew me away. I loved it much. I’ve only read it once but it has always stuck with me. Vivid. I finally saw the film on its second release, as the Director’s Cut. Loved it. Also vivid. Seared into my mind. I saw it many times both on big screen and small.

I suspect I’ve seen the original version several times since. Comfortably double figures on the director’s cut, possibly double figures on the original. I love both though it remains true that people generally prefer the version they saw first. There is also a final cut that was much later that I tried to watch recently but didn’t quite find the right moment to pop it on. I’ve read enough to know where it differs and seen the other versions enough to work out where it fits visually.

Seriously: spoilers below.

Bladerunner is that rare, rare film that leaves out so much of the book yet captures its essence, shares its soul. Blade Runner 2049 also succeeded…mostly. I was riveted to the screen for most of it, for most of it was perfect. If it had stopped shortly after Agent K and Deckard met, or been effectively finished at that point, I would have been happy. But it didn’t finish, there were fights and kidnapping and more fights, Terminator-esque. The side plot of the tycoon Wallace, felt shallow and vacuous. Unnecessary. Even then, if the film had ended with K dying on the snowy steps it might have been redeemed. It felt so much like an interesting film with a Brady Bunch ending slapped on.

And yet, it was still so bloody good…so much perfect, visually grand (it needs a really big screen, a big space), musically, aurally wonderful. It still traces the path of  what does it mean to be human, and explores new ripples. It was well paced, events, music, landscapes…connected. I loved its play with virtual characters, and the way it overlapped virtual with real…or a sense of real. It’s all about the sense of real, and not necessarily the real itself.