Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chantal and Richard's Wedding

bride and groom
Yesterday was Chantal and Richard's wedding day. The wedding ceremony took place at Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church in South Melbourne. Chantal looked gorgeous in her beautiful lace dress as she entered the church with her Mum. The priest who performed the ceremony was quite a character- it almost felt like a Catholic revival at times. Family members from both sides took part throughout the ceremony, and we learned that they were getting married on the birthday of Chantal's late father, which I thought was special and a good omen.

After the ceremony there was a few hours gap before the reception started, so I had a coffee with Amrita, Philippe and their two little ones in a cafe next door to the church before heading into the city to kill some time. The reception took place at the Wattle Park Chalet in Surrey Hills which is located within some parklands. We had pre-dinner drinks, hors d'oeurves and a group photo before heading inside for dinner. Once the wedding party entered they cut the cake and then spread out speeches before the entree and main course. The food was quite tasty throughout the night. I had the pumpkin and feta tortellini, chicken breast stuffed with brie and sundried tomatoes, and tiramisu for dessert. The dance floor was pumping early as well as the photo booth upstairs. The evening was a mix of Sri Lankan and Swedish traditions in honor of their family heritages. Overall it was a fun night and I wish the happy couple all the best for their future together.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

French Film Festival 2015

The Alliance Francaise French Film Festival has been on in Melbourne over the past few weeks and Onagh and I have been to see a number of the films showcased this year. Attending has also allowed me to see how much of my high school French I actually remember. Here are the films that I have seen, which thankfully have been pretty good for the most part:

The Gazelles follows Marie (Camille Chamoux) as she throws away her 15 year relationship with Eric and enters the dating scene with a bunch of friends of her work colleague Sandra (Audrey Fleurot). A lighthearted and at times scary glimpse into the singles scene when you are older, it was an amusing film to watch.

The New Girlfriend is a psychological thriller that starts with the funeral of Laura and follows the aftermath for her husband David (Romain Duris) and their baby, as well as Laura's lifelong best friend Claire (Anais Demoustier). Claire goes to visit David one day and discovers him dressed as a woman. The film explores how Claire helps David to develop his female persona Virginia, and how that impacts on Claire's relationships with both her husband and David.

The Connection is the true story behind the hit movie The French Connection told from a European perspective. The film covers the drug trade and corruption in Marseille in the mid-1970s and stars Jean Dujardin as the magistrate Pierre Michel and Gilles Lellouche as mafia boss Gaetan Zampa. It was an action packed film and quite entertaining.

Saint Laurent is another film set mainly in the late 1960s to mid-1970s and covers the life of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (Gaspard Ulliel). You get to see his struggles with poor health and addiction, as well as his relationships with his partner and muses. The film culminates with his 1976 Moroccan-inspired collection. If they ever do an English language biopic they should get designer and Project Runway alum Austin Scarlett to play YSL.

Almost Friends is a comedy that involves two women at a crossroads in their lives. Carole (Emmanuelle Devos) feels overshadowed by her chef husband Sam (Roschdy Zem), and secretly comes to an adult training center to get an assessment of her career options. She becomes friends with her counsellor Marithe (Karin Viard) and Marithe gives Carole advice that plays more to her ulterior motives than Carole's best interests. I thought the film was ok, but found Sam distracting as the actor has a resemblance to President Barack Obama.

The Gate is set in Cambodia during the 1970s reign of Pol Pot and tells the true story of French ethnologist Francois Bizot (Raphael Personnaz), who was captured and imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge. It explores the relationship he develops with Comrade Duch (Kompheak Phoeung) while under captivity and what happens when they meet again years later. Considering the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, I thought the film was quite restrained in what it showed of the realities of captivity in the prison camps.

Girlhood is set in the housing projects of Paris and follows 16-year-old Mariame (Karidja Toure). After she is told her grades are too poor to continue on to high school, she meets three other girls who are brash and stylish and joins up with them. The film explores their friendships, the social and gender politics of growing up in a tough neighborhood, and the choices the girls make in order to survive.

The Belier Family also focuses on a 16-year-old girl, Paula (Louane Emera), the only hearing member of a deaf family who are dairy farmers in a small village. At school she decides to join the choir because of a cute boy, but it turns out she has an amazing singing voice. Her teacher encourages her to practice in order to audition for a music school in Paris, and Paula struggles with wanting to aim for independence in her life while at the same time feeling guilty about abandoning her family. The audition scene was particularly poignant as she sang Michel Sardou's "Last Flight"- especially for someone like me who has left family behind to live half way around the world. This was probably my favorite film of all the ones we saw.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Huw Parkinson Lampoons Australian Politics

Huw Parkinson is doing some of the best political commentary going with his mash-ups of Australian politicians with popular films and tv shows. His latest video is a take on Christopher Pyne's Sky News Interview last week where Pyne claimed to be a fixer.

Star Wars: Fixed (with Christopher Pyne)

Here are some other great creations by Huw from the past few months:

Four Weddings and a Funeral with Tony Abbott

Consider Yourself Part Of The Furniture

Seinfeld In Parliament

The Darjeeling Abbotted
The Darjeeling Abbotted from Huw Parkinson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In Dreams- David Lynch Revisited

As a huge fan of director David Lynch and the soundtracks he and Angelo Badalamenti composed for his film and tv work, I was really excited to get the opportunity to hear these songs interpreted live. In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited brought together an array of artists under the musical direction of David Coulter to perform tracks from throughout Lynch's career. Onagh joined me for tonight's second and final show at the Melbourne Recital Centre where we had very close second row seats.

The evening began in a very Lynchian way with David Coulter in a sequenced jacket and long red gloves sawing into a log. Sophia Brous did an amazing a capella version of "Llorando (Crying)" from Mulholland Drive, and was later joined by Kirin J Callinan for a unique interpretation of "Blue Velvet." It was the Twin Peaks tracks though that I was really eager to hear, and thankfully many of them featured throughout the night. Cibo Matto did a raucous version of "A Real Indication," Sarah Blasko sang the two Julee Cruise tracks "The Nightingale" and "Into The Night" before being joined on stage by Sophia and Kirin for "Just You and I" (with Kirin at his creepy/charming best). Violinist Owen Pallett sang the iconic "Falling," Sophia performed Jimmy Scott's "Sycamore Trees," and harpist Marshall McGuire played "Laura Palmer's Theme," which was both haunting and beautiful.

Camille O'Sullivan had fantastic outfits for both her numbers, and I really enjoyed her version of "Song To The Siren" from Lost Highway. Mick Harvey and the band did a thumping version of "Ghost Of Love" from Inland Empire, before Sophia joined him for a duet of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" with Owen, Camille and Kirin on backing vocals. As David thanked everyone who participated in this tribute show, the band finished the night with "Dance Of The Dream Man." Overall it was a pretty impressive evening and such a privilege to see all these fantastic artists perform together on the same stage.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Chet Faker- Palais Theatre

Chet Faker (aka Nicholas Murphy) has been on a meteoric rise over the past two years, taking out the number one spot on the Triple J Hottest 100 for 2014. Tonight Tash and I attended his fifth and final sold out show at the Palais Theatre. I've been aware of him for a while but never really listened to his releases, so I went into this show fresh. His music is more of a soulful electronica, and throughout the night he built up the layers of beats and sang along while accompanied by a drummer/percussionist and guitarist/keyboardist. He also had a pretty intricate light show to go along with each song, although there were way too many strobe lights. All of the songs got big reactions from the all ages crowd, and I really enjoyed his cover of Blackstreet's "No Diggity" (which first brought him to prominence), "Gold" and "Talk Is Cheap." Sitting up in the lounge also allowed us to be able to see what he was doing throughout the night, which made things interesting.

Here's the video for "Talk Is Cheap"

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Dan Sultan- Zoo Twilights

A few weeks ago Dan Sultan was meant to play a Zoo Twilights show at the Melbourne Zoo, but a thunder and lightening storm shortly after the gates opened meant that it had to be cancelled. Fortunately they were able to reschedule it for this evening, and the weather managed to cooperate. Ruth staked out some prime space up the front and Belinda, Tash and I joined her and Danny there for the night. The opening act was Benny Walker and his band, who played a bluesy set with some extended jams.

Dan Sultan came out solo and started his set with "Dirty Ground" off his recent EP of the same name. After playing "Nobody Knows" and his Way Of The Eagle collaboration "Rattlesnake" the rest of the band joined him on stage. Dan played tracks from all of his releases, including "Under Your Skin," "Crazy," "It Belongs To Us," "Your Love Is Like A Song," "The Same Man" and a very cathartic version of "Old Fitzroy," which was dedicated to a couple of family members who recently passed away. Throughout the night he was quite gracious and thanked people for buying his album Blackbird, which recently went gold. The main set finished with "Kimberley Calling" and then for an encore they tore through a great version of "Letter." It was a bit chilly by the end of the night, but I'm glad the show was able to be rescheduled and we didn't have to deal with rain.

Here's the video for "Kimberley Calling"

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Rufus Wainwright- Vibrate Tour

Rufus Wainwright has returned to Australia to play some solo shows in support of his best of album Vibrate.  Simon joined me for tonight's concert at the Palais Theatre. The opening act was Rufus' half-sister Lucy Wainwright Roche, who played a solo folk set on acoustic guitar. She was very funny in between songs and requested questions from the crowd. One person asked if she and Rufus ever played together as children and she recounted a story of Rufus having her pretend to lay dead on the couch while he sang arias to her. Besides her own songs she played a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" (complete with an audience sing along) and a track off an album of dark lullabies that she is currently recording with her sister Martha Wainwright.

Rufus came out in jeans and a pink patterned jacket and sat at the piano to start his set with "Grey Gardens." This was the first time I have seen him live without a band. He alternated between piano and acoustic guitar as he played songs from throughout his career. I was really excited to hear older songs such as "Beauty Mark," "Vibrate," "April Fools," "Gay Messiah" and my personal favorite "Going To A Town." We also got the more recent tracks "Out Of The Game," "Montauk," "Sonnet 20" and an aria from his recently recorded opera Prima Donna. Rufus' voice sounded absolutely amazing during the night, and at one point he said he was channelling Joan Sutherland. It wouldn't have been a Rufus show without some humorous moments, and we were visited on stage by Liza Minelli and Judy Garland before he and Liza (aka Lucy) duetted on the song "Me and Liza." Rufus also worked through a brand new song called "Lucy's Blue" and finished the main set with "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk."

The encore started with another one of my favorites "The Art Teacher" and then he invited out the Melbourne Hallelujah chorus (people who pledged a certain amount for the recording of Prima Donna). Rufus and Lucy did a duet of "Pretty Things" before the chorus joined in for Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which sounded great. The first encore finished with "Poses" and then Rufus came back out and sang "Foolish Love" to close the evening. This was another fantastic concert by Rufus and it's always a privilege to see such a talented musician play in person. If you don't own any of his albums start off with Vibrate and then work your way through his back catalogue.

Here's the video for "Me and Liza"
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