music


Slum Dog Millionaire – A clever, well-strung together film which was thrilling to watch and had a great soundtrack. Occasionally violent, often joyful, and more entertaining than educational, I suspect, but very good at that. Obviously, I enjoyed it, but it hasn’t really stuck with me and I’m not sure yet why.

Cressida Campbell exhibition – My aunt took us to see this and the works were very lovely: large scale, bold and delicate watercolour woodcuts. The technique Campbell uses is to draw the picture onto the wood, carve out the lines, colour it directly with thick watercolour, then dampen the block and take a print off it. Several prints were displayed with their blocks, and there was such an architectural/design quality to them. Beautiful Australian scenes. I can’t afford the exhibition book, but it is lovely and printed on thick textured paper (although it can’t capture the scale and light of the exhibition).

Gran Torino – One of the few movies where the purpose-written song over the credits didn’t offend. As for whether the rest of the movie did… I was wondering. On one level I enjoyed it, especially the acting which at first seemed amateurish and became really compelling (the casting and simplicity of the movie were good and daring choices), but the sheer quantity of vitriol that Eastwood’s character was capable of seemed so excessive it was caricatured. The movie was meant to be a critique of racism, but I wasn’t always sure it worked, and wanted to get the point of view of someone more nearly affected.  And I found this really great review, and lost the link. It might have been this one from reappropriate, who found it nauseating. By contrast, here’s a review from Geo on Racialicious, who found positives. Whether or not you see the movie (and I did like that song), the reviews are worth reading.

He’s Just Not That Into You – I… liked this. It wasn’t brilliant, and certainly the morality was occasionally absent, occasionally odd and often confused. But it managed to do what most romantic comedies don’t: a well-handled ensemble cast not overshadowed by the bigger stars; a satisfyingly but not excessively intricate plot; and humour that wasn’t (a) crass or (b) all in the preview and left out of the movie. Faint praise, maybe, but pretty high for the genre.

Rachel’s Getting Married – A painful, odd and occasionally excessively self-indulgent film, but with some remarkable performances, a good treatment of the love and nastiness in sibling relationships and some really touching/quirky family scenes: the musicians annoying everyone by playing, the planning of table settings and the dishwasher race were particularly memorable.

Also, music:

Washington Square Serenade - “City of Immigrants” was playing on the radio a lot, and I loved it and it turned out to be by Steve Earle (“Copperhead Road”). I’m glad I bought the album. It’s country seguing into a folky/ballad style which I love – parts of some songs reminded me of Bright Eyes (go figure) and Chumbawumba-not-I-get-knocked-down-again-but-their-folk/political/protest-stuff (this is now how I refer to that band). It weakened in the middle, but there were some stand-outs: “Tennessee Blues”; “Down Here Below”, a Tom Waites/Tom Petty-esque song of New York from the point of view of a red tailed hawk; “City Of Immigrants”  -  “I don’t need to go travellin’, open the door and the world walks in”; “Days Aren’t Long Enough” - a love song which I didn’t like the first time, and then began to listen to on repeat. But obviously my views on the weaker songs aren’t shared, because I see the album won a Grammy for best folk/americana album.

War Child – Heroes – I’m a sucker for rewrites, covers, reimaginings, allusions, spoofs and updates, so I was looking forward to this album of old(er) songs covered by young(er) artists. Nothing stood out like Cat Empire singing “Hotel California” in French reggae-style on Triple J’s Like a Version, but it was still pretty good to hear some of these covers.

Below are last month’s reviews. The book reviews are here.

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Five recently acquired CDs (the first on my own initiative, the others for Christmas): 

  1. Tom Waits – Closing Time: How did I not have this? How did I get by without “Ol’ 55″ for most of my life?
  2. Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of this Country: I heard Camera Obscura at this year’s Laneway Festival. The album has a lovely ’60s sound, according to my mother. I’m ready to be heartbroken.
  3. Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope: I was worried this was an album I would regret asking for after listening to it once or twice, but it’s not. With the exception of the bridge in ‘Fidelity’, I love it.
  4. Augie March – Moo, You Bloody Choir: I’m still getting to know these songs. I didn’t think I particularly cared for Augie March until I heard them live, opening for Crowded House. Good as that concert was, Augie March were better live. Really good, and I’m looking forward to being able to pick my favourite parts of the album. Not the most famous song, of course, because it never is.
  5.  Green Day – International Superhits: I have not listened to this, but it will provide an interesting counterpoint to the others.

Five songs which are potentially more interesting when I get the lyrics wrong (song followed by what it doesn’t say):

  1. David Dundas/Keith Urban’s “Blue Jeans”: I put my aubergines on.
  2. The Rockmelons’ “L-O-V-E Love”: Hell0 BP Love.
  3. Whoever sings the latest version of its’ “Every Little Step”: No matter if you’re french-fried or diet, we were meant to fall in love.
  4. Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive”: Stay the night, stay the night.
  5. Tim McGraw’s “She’s My Kind of Rain”: Spaghetti falling down on me.

Five Radio Stations I have on preselect in my car, in order of how frequently I listen to them:

  1. Triple J: Roots and All will ruin me for any other activities.
  2. Triple M: Cold 30 ditto. Also the essential 200[insert applicable digit] is a lot of fun.
  3. 98.9FM: This actually does play the best country.
  4. Toowoomba Country FM: For when I’m out of range of everything else.
  5. ABC Classic FM: I know it plays wonderful music (and a good overture is up there with country road songs for music to drive to), but whenever I’m caught between ads and rap on the other stations, it only seems to be playing opera or Yeats set to bad folk music.

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