2021 in lists: concerts & shows, theatre, books, movies, TV

(A work in progress…)

Movies (seen in the cinema)

  • Bonjour Tristesse. Read some grumpy words about this here
  • La Dolce Vita. Read some grumpy words about this here
  • Possessor. A movie from David Cronenberg’s son, Brandon, I brought husband because it was described as a sci-fi thriller. I sort of had skipped over the ‘horror’ part so saw more blood and gore than I’ve seen in a long time. But I thought it was an amazing film: engaging story, creepy atmosphere, superb acting. 
  • Roman Holiday. Having not appreciated two film classics, and another not-so-classic old film, I had high hopes that this film would change my view. Oh yes it did. Obviously the mother of so many romantic comedies, this was the original, and done in a way I found engaging and charming. Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck have wonderful charisma, the script is funny, Rome is shown in its full glory (whereas when watching La Dolce Vita, I was like: Where’s Rome? (except for the Trevi Fountain scene). If you haven’t seen this film before, give yourself a treat! We saw it on Valentine’s Day. Perfect.
  • Max Richter’s Sleep. A documentary about Max Richter’s 8.5 hour musical composition, written for audiences to sleep to, the film has the same dreamy, unrushed quality. I really like Richter’s music: it’s emotional and direct, beautiful and atmospheric. The film is a little about him, and a little about him and his wife and their partnership, with a focus on some of the fans of the music and event. I loved it.

Movies (seen on TV, like on Netflix)

  • Pride. How I loved this charming English movie about a group of ragtag gay and lesbian activists who supported a community of Welsh miners during the strikes in Thatcherite England in the 80s. Based on a true story. 
  • 101 Rent Boys. A documentary, of sorts, of 101 rent boys in Los Angeles. I thought it couldn’t be NOT interesting (and was right) but didn’t expect the storytelling to be so weak and just watching it makes you feel like you’re part of the exploitation. 

Documentaries and Reality Television

  • RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 13. They’re shaking things up. Let’s see how it goes. 
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race Vegas Revue. Hmm. Watching out of sheer fandom. It’s painful to watch these young men, who are great performers but not very mature human beings in how they treat each other and their bodies and their expectations. 
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Season 2. Wow. How much of drag race can we watch? The year has only begun. Still, it was such a diverse group of queens in the finale, I enjoyed it. I’m not sure I’ve seen Ru lately fall in love with someone so much as he did with the winner. Every time they were on screen together, it was clear that Ru LOVES this one. 
  • Amy. Ouch. Amy Winehouse had such an amazing, natural voice and a real talent. Could she have survived her additions? It’s not sure, but she was certainly surrounded by people who did not help her survive, and those who wanted to help her couldn’t reach her. Sad. 
  • Blown Away, Season 2. I loved the quirky first season of this reality show about glass-blowing and you know, I loved Season 2 just as much. 
  • Project Runways All Stars, Season 8. Not sure how we missed this when it came out a year or two ago, but we can’t resist this show. It was, all in all, pretty fun, and I think I was happy enough with the finale, though a little nationalism was creeping through and I was hoping Biddell, the Canadian designer, would win. 

Other television

  • Death to 2020. Not a documentary but a mockumentary by Charlie Brooker of Black Mirror on 2020. It got mediocre reviews but I don’t have high expectations these days.
  • Lupin. Season 1. Wow, did I love this series! Bring on season 2. 
  • Snowpiercer. Season 2. I was enjoying it but in the end, I didn’t love this season that much. The first season had a strong dramatic question and then a fantastic twist at the end. This season had too many plots and a focus on too many characters for me. But husband liked it a lot. 
  • Money Heist (La Casa de Papel). Watched the first season then took a break. I really loved the feel of this, the characters, the storytelling. Watch it with subtitles. 
  • It’s a Sin. Touching, engaging, the tragedy leavened by comedy. Apparently a huge hit, in the UK, especially. I’m glad that this story is being told for a new generation. 
  • Sex Education. Seasons 1 and 2. I really like this series. The characters are appealing and mixed in with light, youthful comedy are some heavyweight emotional truths and situations. 

Books

  • Alain De Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life (philosophy). I’m not convinced that I should read Proust, but I loved reading this instead. Is that cheating? Beautiful writing about friendship, reading, paying attention and being alive. 
  • Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain (novel). I was so engaged with the story and characters that I stopped noticing the writing. It’s a harrowing story and feels unique. I’m not sure if I loved it as much as some of my friends did (or the Booker prize jury) but it is a great book.
  • Judith Flanders’ A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order (non-fiction). It’s rare that I give up on a book, and I note I probably could have finished it as the last third of the book is footnotes. And it really was interesting in many ways to see the way alphabetisation developed. But it’s SO well-researched with SO much detail (about text from so long ago). It takes a particular kind of mind to be able to engage with this material. 

Concerts, Shows, Theatre, Exhibitions & Words

  • Sydney Festival’s The Rise and Fall of Saint George. An interesting, passionate sort of rock opera that portrayed the time of the same-sex marriage debate in Australia, symbolised by the defacing of the striking wall mural of George Michael, as a saint, in Erskineville. And what a setting. I had no idea they’d be able to host concerts at the Headland in Barangaroo like that. It was stunning. 
  • Young Frankenstein (Hayes Theatre). It seems like Mel Brooks, buoyed by the success of adapting his movie ‘the Producers’ to a hit musical decided to do the same with Young Frankenstein. It’s basically a silly, ridiculous, entertaining farce. I think is reminded me of the ridiculousness of Spamalot more than the Producers, and the cast and crew do an amazing job with bringing this to life. An enjoyable, silly time. 

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