I’m planning to spend it at home eating ice cream and watching TV. It honestly couldn’t feel more like a non-event, which is a shame in a way because back in Russia it was always one of the year’s most exciting events, with all the trimmings that are associated with Christmas here in Australia, the tree, presents, copious amounts of food, Santa Claus (or rather Grandfather Frost) etc. We tried to keep it up for a few years after arriving in Australia, but then it just petered out and these days my attitude is that of the many Aussies: ugh I’ve just had Christmas, do I have to make an effort for this thing too? And I like Christmas just fine, but without any childhood memories or sentimental attachments it’s just not the same; it’s like I’ve lost a holiday that used to mean a lot and gained one that, without any roots in childhood when you feel the magic of an event most intensely, is basically just an excuse for another big family gathering.
As it often happens, my most memorable New Year’s Eve in Russia was a disastrous one, where our entire neighbourhood lost the electricity and we had to burn candles and eat cold salads. Until miraculously, the lights went back on just in time for us to turn on the TV and watch the clock on Spasskaya Tower in Moscow ring in the new year and for Boris Yeltsin to give his presidential address. And right after he finished, the damn lights went out again.
Mind you, even these days, as the time gets closer to midnight, I do get an echo of the feeling that you’re about to cross some sort of threshold and something new is about to begin. So maybe I should work on some resolutions. Exercise more and eat sugary/fatty crap less, here’s a good one.
I don’t think I’d want to live in Canberra but visiting for a few days was nice. It’s a very sedate place which, depending on a point of view, could either mean quiet and relaxing or dull and empty. On a plus side, the food was uniformly fantastic and the city is very green, with many European trees which must look stunning in autumn. The road system however is a visitor’s nightmare; evidently someone decided that parallel streets are way too boring and that the traffic must run in circles and loops instead.
In a nutshell, despite some winning performances and energetic direction of J.J. Abrams, the movie falls short due to mediocre writing and some of the common problems plaguing many of the modern blockbusters. I was hoping that it would be a lot like Abrams’ first Star Trek film, which I adored to bits despite its story/villain shortcomings, but unfortunately it felt more like a companion movie to Star Trek: Into Darkness: never boring, but ultimately hollow.
I generally enjoy the movies about dysfunctional families, and I liked this one a lot despite its annoying artsy pretensions. Maybe Juno is to blame, but it just bugs me when a movie practically waves arms at you and cries, oooh look at me, look at me and how quirky I am oooh! Just so you know how different I am, let’s open with a random scene of people yodeling! Fortunately, the movie had enough strong character writing and acting to compensate for the eye-rolling bits.
Gillian Flynn has a fascination with the bleak side of life, for sure. Gone Girl was dark and cynical, and this one had all that plus a whole lot more blood, poverty and Satanism on top. I’m glad I read it in an overall good mood, otherwise my mental state might have spiralled down a tad.
This movie’s been out for seven weeks or so, and I half-expected to be shoved in a tiny theatre, but instead it screened in one of the largest ones, which was a bit strange. I guess it’s the film’s last hurrah before Force Awakens takes over 95% of the world’s cinemas in two days’ time.
The full title of the book is Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and it’s less of a prequel and more like a complete re-imagining of the world known from the classic children’s story by L. Frank Baum and the 1939 Wizard of Oz. I wonder if at this point it got overshadowed by the mega-successful musical – I haven’t seen it but I imagine it reworked the hell out of what is ultimately a very pessimistic, even bleak, story.
I really liked I Love You, Honeybear, the second album by Father John Misty (real name Josh Tillman), silly title and all, so when I heard he was touring Melbourne I jumped at the chance to see him live. Besides, Forum Theatre is probably my favourite music venue in Melbourne and it’s always nice to be there again under its fake starry sky.
I’m a big fan of Akunin’s Erast Fandorin mysteries, so I was very interested to check out his other series, once again set in the 19th century Russia and featuring Pelagia, a ginger-haired, bespectacled young nun who lives in a small town of Zavolzhsk.