Friday, 11 April 2014

Saturday 12/4/2014 - More Painting, RIP Mickey Rooney, A Night (or two) At The Movies, & This Week's Wristwatches.

Saturday 1:07pm AEST

Last weekend
Saturday's night's 'Lolly Nite Movie' was "Diana", starring Naomi Watts. As far as well-known Australian actresses go, I have to say that, although Nicole Kidman ( a fine actress, by the way) gets a lot of attention, and (another great actress) Cate Blanchett's recent Oscar win has put her even further in the spotlight, Miss Watts has quietly carved out a career made up of interesting roles over the years. I can't say I've seen much of what she has done, but I have been impressed with her acting in the films of hers that I've seen.
She was great in "The International" (Dir: Tom Twyker, 2009), a European-set thriller about an Interpol operative, played by the vastly underrated Clive Owen, who uncovers a conspiracy within a large banking corporation and is aided in his investigation by a US attorney, played by Watts. Miss Watts turned in another great performance in "The Impossible" (Dir: Juan Antonio Bayona, 2011), based on the true story of a woman caught in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 in Thailand, and it was this performance which garnered her an Oscar nomination.

"Diana" theatrical poster, courtesy of www.bigstartv/blog

With "Diana", any actress who undertakes such a role is under close scrutiny, since there is much archival footage of Lady Di out there. While Watts doesn't bear a close resemblance to the late Princess, she turns in a wonderful performance that does much to capture the essence of what I, for one, know of Princess Diana. The film, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, concentrates on the last two years of her life and her love affair with a Pakistani-born heart surgeon working in London. Her fatal car accident is not shown, since I imagine that most people know the circumstances surrounding it. It had a huge impact at the time. My wife and I had been married just under a year when we took a drive out to South Melbourne beach on that winter's day at the end of August. It began to rain lightly so we hopped back into the car and looked for someplace to grab a drink. We wound up at the Red Bluff Hotel in Sandringham, grabbed a small table near the fireplace, and ordered our drinks. There was a television switched on above the bar and, while I couldn't hear the sound, the headline scrolled across the bottom of the screen, announcing that Princess Diana had been killed in a car accident in Paris.
I remember feeling more than just a twinge of sadness. In my opinion, she had been treated poorly by the Royal Family after her separation from Prince Charles and had been hounded relentlessly by the paparazzi ever since. Yes, much has been said about how she was known to enjoy these cat-and-mouse pursuits by the press, but I have seen footage of her pleading with photographers to be left alone, too. When I had read of her current romance with Dodi Al-Fayed, I hoped that she would settle into a quieter existence where she would live a more peaceful life and have better access to her two children.
Sadly, that was not to be. I worked on the night that her funeral was telecast on TV. My boss had set up a small portable colour television on top of the drinks fridge and it was interesting to see the effect of this telecast on the patrons who walked in. Most of them stopped to watch the screen for a few moments. One lady sat up at the bar and had a minestrone (this was a small family-owned bistro that I worked at back then) followed by a cappuccino at the end of her meal. She was in her mid-sixties and was a piano teacher. She kept apologising for taking up a seat on a busy night long after she had finished her meal and coffee. She told me that she didn't have a television at home. I told her she could sit there as long as she wanted, and I instructed the other waiters to leave her be.
Shortly after her death, there was a slight backlash against the paparazzi and their style of reckless pursuit of celebrities. Not much was done about it. Newspapers still paid big money for photos, and the paps still went out and hounded the famous. 
I didn't mind this film. The first half-hour felt very interior and, given the large life that she led, focused on one particular aspect of it. When all was said and done, this film was a love story about a woman very much in the public eye and the man she fell in love with who craves his anonymity. 

It was time to do some more painting. Off came the Omega Speedmaster Professional;

                                 Archive photo, taken sometime in early 2013

One coat of Domino Grey was applied to the faschia boards on the house. Took me just over ninety minutes and my back was killing me by the time I was done. And my glutes! Who'd have thought? Must have been all of the contorted stretching that I did in order to reach under the eaves. And I still have to do it all again one more time!
But at least I was wearing the faithful Seiko 7002. Man, that cap's going straight into the wash;

We went to see "Captain America- The Winter Soldier". I have to say that I'm really liking these Marvel comic book films. Yeah, okay, they don't hold the secrets to the meaning of life, but I actually enjoy these types of movies, even if the film conoscenti want to remind me that it's not a Bergman, Kubrick or Fellini film and it offers nothing with regard to the human condition, blah, blah, blah. I go to the movies to get away from thinking about the meaning of life and the human condition. 

The action scenes were inspired, in particular a car chase scene with Nick Fury (a great characterisation by Samuel L. Jackson). And, for some reason, the shoot-outs reminded me of the ones from Michael Mann's "Heat" (1995). I think it had to do with the sound effects and sound editing.
It was a great, kinetic and visceral film experience, and it provides a nice lead-up to next year's Avengers sequel.

And later in the day, I read of the death of Mickey Rooney. Sure, he was 93 AND he was once married to Ava Gardner (figure that one out!), but I was still saddened a little by the news.

Picture (right) courtesy of

I suppose he is best remembered in The States for his 'Andy Hardy' films, made from the late 1930s through the '40s, with one last title being made in the late 1950s, but I will always remember him from "Boys Town" (Dir: Norman Taurog, 1938), a Spencer Tracy film with Rooney cast as a young delinquent.
One more performer from Hollywood's Golden Age gone.It's a pretty small club, now, and I'd be fairly certain most of its members are female. Olivia De Havilland, Kirk Douglas, (the great) Maureen O'Hara and (the legendary) Lauren Bacall come to mind.

I started working on the assignment for my Industry Knowledge subject. This one involves writing up a 500 word report on the libraries that we've visited. I thought this one was   gonna be a bit of a pain, but once I got started, it wasn't too bad. If anything, I found that I'd written too much rather than not enough.  By the time I was done, I had just over 700 words done. 

Later in the evening, I looked over at the TV cabinet and counted 25 DVDs that my wife has brought home from work over the past two weeks or so. It's a mixed bag - a few French films, a handful of documentaries, some films that the kids might watch, and a mix of recent and new releases from mainstream Hollywood.
I decided then and there to sit and watch a film every night this week. Monday night was already taken care of with Captain America's latest adventure, so I flipped through the films on offer and landed on one called "Deadfall" (Dir: Stefan Ruzowitzky, 2012), starring Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde and Charlie Hunnam.

I didn't mind this film too much, despite the age-old storyline. It's a modern noir about a brother and sister who've just committed a major robbery and things go awry, forcing them to split up with the money and meet up at a later stage. Still, the casting makes this a better film than it deserves to be. Eric Bana does a fine job as Addison, the cunning robber who shows decency from time to time, and I've often wondered why he hasn't cracked the Hollywood market, especially after starring in Spielberg's "Munich" in 2005.
It's got a solid cast, this film, with great roles for Kris Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek, and it was good to see Treat Williams back on the screen

Decided to take the kids to my wife's library this morning. Thought they could read some books while I worked a little more on my assignment. I decided to change wristwatch as well. I opened up the watch case.
"Which one?", I asked my daughter, who was seated nearby.
"That one", she replied, pointing to;

The 44mm Hamilton Khaki Officer's Hand-Wound Mechanical. I explained to my daughter how the movement in this watch is based on a pocket watch movement from the 1950s and this is one main reason for the oversized case of this watch. So that's what I wore for our trip to the library where I continued with my assignment and got another 793 words written down. I am now up to date with this assignment. One more library visit and I'll be able to sit down and write up the rest of it. 

That night, I looked at the other DVD's on offer. We decided to watch "Lovelace" (Dirs: Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein, 2013). This film traces the brief adult-film career of Linda Lovelace, who gained notoriety when she starred in "Deep Throat" in the early 1970s. It covers the effects that this film had on Lovelace's life, her relationship with her abusive husband, and her religious mother, played by an unrecognisable Sharon Stone.

picture courtesy of

The film was okay. I wouldn't rave about it as a whole. The script makes clever use of repeating events, but showing more detail the second time around, thus adding to the narrative, but it is the solid cast of this film that makes it worth watching. Standout performances from Amanda Seyfried in the title role, Bobby Cannavale as the producer of the porn flick, but it is Sharon Stone who puts herself quite a distance away from Catherine Trammell of Basic Instinct. I was almost half-way through the film, wondering who the hell was playing Seyfried's mother, when I just had to pick up the DVD case to see the cast list. Interestingly, the poster above shows Sarah Jessica Parker in the cast, but I couldn't recall seeing her in the film. Turns out that she did indeed film a scene as feminist/journalist Gloria Steinem, who interviewed Lovelace in the early '80s. However, the film's chronology ends in the year 1980 and so, this scene didn't appear in the final edit of the film. This happens a lot in Hollywood. Kevin Costner appeared in "The Big Chill" (Dir; Lawrence Kasdan, 1983) as Alex, the dead friend whose funeral the main characters are attending. They filmed a flashback scene with him, but it never ended up in the movie.
Oh, I switched watches before sitting down to watch "Lovelace". I was getting a hankering for something vintage, now that the weather is getting cooler. It was time for the circa 1962 Omega Seamaster;

I got this watch off eBay around 2003. They don't turn up in this kind of original condition anymore.

Thursday evening
Yep, I got the bug to see another movie. "Hey hon, I might go catch the 6:50 session of "The Monuments Men" with buddy-boy."
And so it was that my son and I found ourselves in a ten-row cinema watching the latest George Clooney picture.

  picture courtesy of

This film was nicely done. Great story, beautifully shot, well acted, great direction. But it just didn't have any big scenes. It moved at a good pace, and the story of how this group of academics were tasked with the job of rescuing artworks that had been confiscated by the Nazis is a story worth telling, but I was just waiting for one or two tense moments. It had a few, but perhaps I was expecting something along the lines of The Guns of Navarone or Saving Private Ryan. It did have a couple of war-movie staples, such as an end-credits music score with whistling on it, like in The Great Escape, and snippets of the main cast with their names across the screen, like in The Dirty Dozen (I think, from memory). 
As I say, it was a nicely done film. The idea of artwork being representative of an entire culture was the thing that struck me the most about this film. Like I said, it's a story worth telling. 
Clooney is a confident director. Of everything he's helmed, I think I've enjoyed "Good Night and Good Luck" the most. I daresay that he'll get an Oscar nomination one day, if not an Oscar itself.

Switched watches. We would take a quick trip into town and I thought I'd put on something modern with a vintage vibe;

The Longines Expeditions Polaires Francaises-Missions Paul-Emile Victor is its full title. I gotta start calling it the Expeditions model for short. 

No movie tonight. I was too busy writing this post. And I meant to go to bed about two hours ago to read for a while and maybe get some early shut-eye. For a change. 
Needless to say, it didn't happen.

Still wearing the Longines. Busy afternoon coming up. Oh, and my foot seems to be playing up a little still. I made another appointment to see the doctor this Tuesday. Whatever this infection is, it's a little stubborn. However, I don't want to panic over it. 
As M once said;
                              "Worry at it, not about it."

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


  1. As always, excellent watches. I particularly liked your shot of the Longines at the end her.

    You've certainly covered a few Australian actors in this blog. And I'd never even heard of Deadfall, let along watched it. I've also been interested in watching Lovelace for a while, but I haven't had the time. I've heard it is worth it from others though.

    And monuments men! I didn't even know it was running lately. Damn. I need to stop packing boxes and start checking out what is on at the cinema for a bit.

  2. I've watched The Monuments Men too and although I liked it I too missed some big scenes. The start was a bit slow, but then again, I found that a quite reasonable resemblance of their struggle to get started. The end went again too fast for me and I think they could've added some extra minutes to show what actually happened and film some of those missed big scenes. I have now yet to watch some of the real documentaries about Monuments Men, because as you say: The idea of artwork being representative of an entire culture was the thing that struck me the most and I want to know more about it.