Thursday, 8 January 2015

Friday 9/1/2015 - Happy New Year, Summer Colds Are The Worst, RIP Rod Taylor & This Week's Wristwatches.

- Friday 5:40pm ADST - 

Well, I hope you all had a great new year and that 2015 has started off nicely for you all. I, for one, am glad to see the back of 2014. It's felt like life has been in a holding pattern for the last couple of years. Studies took up a majority of my time last year and as I reach the end of this course, I'm looking forward to things picking up again and moving forward. 

Last weekend
                       Went to see Interstellar last Friday night. I have to say that this was a very ambitious film. Director Christopher Nolan is an auteur, far as I'm concerned. 

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term in the cinematic sense, the Auteur Theory was a viewpoint first put forward by writers who worked for the French Film magazine Cahiers du Cinema in the 1950s. They argued that there were certain film directors who had a unique and discernible style of film-making and, as such, these directors should be viewed as the true 'authors' of these films rather than the screenwriter who wrote the screenplay.
With some film directors, this was quite evident. Think of Hitchcock's films and you soon begin to realise that he had a certain way of making movies that have a particular signature to them. The same could be said of Howard Hawks. I would even include Sidney Lumet. His films had a noticeable look and tone to them. 
And so it is with a few modern-day directors, like the Coen Brothers, David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, and Christopher Nolan. Although I saw this film a week ago, I haven't fully made up my mind about it. It was grand in both its scope and execution, and I think I'll need either another week or another viewing to really make up my mind about it. I think it's more to do with the science behind the story. Much of what was said about black holes and the concept of time went over my head. 
However, as a filmic story, I loved it. Nolan has always been able to get great performances from his cast and has developed a habit of working with the same actors on numerous films. Matthew McConaughey delivers a wonderful and nuanced performance as Cooper, an ex-test pilot/engineer who is given a mission to travel into space through a 'doorway' to another solar system to locate another planet with an atmosphere similar to Earth's. It appears our planet is on the verge of extinction, being ravaged by 1930s-type dust storms, and what's left of NASA has been quietly working on a rocket that will take a team of astronauts to a group of small planets that might be suitable for Earth's inhabitants to colonise. Other space expeditions have already gone to these new planets, but NASA HQ have had no communication from them for some time due to the transmission being broken once they passed through these black holes in space. 
I'm sure I could have explained all that a little more succinctly, but I must be tired.

Anyway, this is a great film, filled with some heart-breaking moments as Cooper wrestles with his decision to go into space, leaving behind his two children, knowing that each hour on the new planet corresponds to seven years back on Earth. His ten year-old daughter Murphy (confidently played by Mackenzie Foy) may die of natural causes before his mission is complete, but his struggle lies in the fact that she will surely have no future if he does not undertake this mission to find a new world. 
There is not one bad performance in the entire film. Jessica Chastain turns in another great performance, as does the legendary Michael Caine. I know he's made some absolute drivel in his time (he admits it himself- "I've made a lot of shit", he once said.), but he's always maintained that this is what kept a roof over his head at a time when British taxation was taking 50% of his income. 
Anne Hathaway, a recent Nolan cast member, turns in a fine performance as well as a scientist determined to complete the mission despite the costs. 
Visually, the film looks stunning. The cinematography was done by Hoyte van Hoytema, who is currently working on the new Bond film SPECTRE. If his work on Interstellar is anything to go by, then the next Bond film will look great. Not that I have any complaints about Skyfall.

My one main complaint about the film was the sound in some scenes. There were a couple of instances where the dialogue was drowned out by the sound effects. I'm not sure if this was intentional or if it had to do with the speakers in the cinema where I saw it (The Astor), so I guess I'll only know for sure when I see the film again on DVD at some point. 

Oh yeah, it was my birthday earlier in the week. Here's the card my family got me, along with a couple of gifts. I was wearing the Omega Railmaster;

The card was pretty nifty. It had a 3D paper cut-out of the Tower Bridge of London that folds down flat when you close the card. Clever. 

             Did a bunch of stuff around the house. Felt a little ragged by the afternoon. Started sneezing later on. Had a headache, scratchy throat and a blocked nose by 6:30pm. And it was a sweltering hot day. I've quoted that line from Chinatown before; Summer colds are the worst. 
I dug out the Remington Remette typewriter. This one will go on eBay soon. It's nice to look at, but then so are my 1936 Smith-Corona Standard and the 1928 Royal Portable. And they type better too. As I continue to de-clutter here and there, I'm trying not to hold on to stuff that doesn't get used so much.

               After a day of napping on-and-off, I wrote out a list of things to do. And then I switched to the Sinn 103 chronograph;


- Take ****'s wristwatch to watchmaker (The watchmaker was closed until January 14th)
- Take knives to keycutter for sharpening (20 minutes, fifteen bucks for two knives and a pair of scissors)
- Take books to second-hand bookstore (The bookstore was closed until January 21st)
- Pay AMEX bill (DONE. I only had five bucks owing on it and didn't want it hanging over my head till next month)
- Pay phone bill (DONE.)
- Get kitty litter (They only had huge bags the size of cement sacks and no cat shits that much. Besides, we have nowhere to store a bag that big.)
- Book massage (Got a price list instead. My back has been killing me lately.)
-Get coffee (One bag of Mocha, one of Costa Rica, one of Kenya, ground down to 2.6 on their grinder setting)
-Newsagent, buy paper (DONE. Newspapers are very thin these days as people switch to reading the news off of tablets, which I hate doing.)

My daughter's hand-wound Seiko watch;

She had it wrapped up in her jumper on the last day of school and somebody stepped on it. The crystal is crazed on two edges and the watch has stopped. I'll get it attended to soon. 

            I just read that Rod Taylor died. He was 84. I think I've only seen about six of his films, but I always found him a personable actor. Check him out in Hitchcock's The Birds.It's probably his best role, although I thought he was great in The Liquidator (Dir: Jack Cardiff, 1965), which was based on John Gardner's book of the same name. As Bondmania began to take hold in the mid 1960s, two authors emerged with spy stories as an antidote to James Bond. While John Le Carre created bleak and realistic espionage novels such as The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, John Gardner (who would later go on to write sixteen Bond continuation novels) came up with a fellow by the name of Boysie Oakes who is recruited by a British spy network who think he's some ruthless assassin when he is, in actual fact, a terrible coward. The book, and subsequent film starring Taylor as Oakes, were played for laughs, and Gardner went on to write another seven Boysie Oakes novels, but none of them were made into further films. 

Anyway, that's my week done and dusted. The kids have another three weeks left of their holidays before their new school year starts. I think I'm over this cold, but you can never be too sure. Meanwhile, we're having a couple of hot days of summer here in Melbourne followed by periods of rain here and there, which is great for the mosquitoes. They love my blood, I can tell you. Must be all the caffeine in it.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


  1. I'm a big fan of Nolan's "Memento" and to a large extent of "The Prestige." Some of his other films seem too gimmicky to me. Haven't seen "Interstellar" yet.

    You would probably be shocked at my behavior today. I went into a Target store to see whether they had a band for my Bulova. No. But they had nameless, yet accurate and good-looking watches, with good-looking fake leather bands, for $11.99. I bought one.

    1. "Memento" was a clever film. "The Prestige" too. Nolan has been accused of being too 'dark', but big deal. He understands the language of film, and "Batman Returns" was a Screenwriting 101, as far as I'm concerned.

      And ANY watch is better than no watch at all, Richard. As long as your not relying on your phone for the time, then that's a good thing.

  2. Thanks for mentioning Rod Taylor. Two films of his I highly recommend are Dark Of The Sun and Darker Than Amber. Dark Of The Sun is a very brutal film and is not for the faint of heart. Still it's a terrific adventure film. Dark Of The Sun is an adaption of the Travis McGee novel of the same name. It was torn apart by critics, but I think it is only one of two Travis McGee books that were made into films. Hope everyone had a Great New Year....Craig Richards

    1. Hi Craig, and Happy New Year! Taylor was one of those likeable and dependable actors who always reminds me of the Sixties in the same way as Michael Caine or Peter O'Toole, even though Taylor never enjoyed the same level of success. He never had his own "Alfie" or "Lawrence of Arabia", but he was still always great to watch. I especially liked him in "Sunday in New York" with the delectable Jane Fonda. It's something of a shame that he never had a more prolific career. "Darker Than Amber" is one that I'll have to catch up with one day.