2022 in lists: concerts & shows, theatre, books, movies and TV

Movies (seen on TV, probably on a streaming service, or on an airplane)

  • Annie Live! We’d lost track of the live musicals on network TV, but since we love musicals, I found it. It’s such an odd musical. The songs are sentimental and simple, but I still love ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Maybe’ and ‘It’s a Hard-Knock Life’. Weirdly, they all take place at the start of the musical, and then … the plot goes all over the place and drags. Somewhat enjoyable. 
  • Don’t Look Up. I love that so many people have watched this and that it’s caused such discussion. I was leaning towards some critics’ call that the film isn’t particularly clever, while being enjoyable to watch but other commentators have let me know that this is not the point! The movie is a realistic parable for climate change and points out the collusion of media, politicians and rich people that is leading down the we’re-fucked path.
  • The Power of the Dog. Moody, memorable, engaging. I perhaps expected to like it more than I did with the rave reviews, but it was pretty good. 
  • Ant-man and the Wasp: Enjoyable enough for a Marvel film. It’s a bit sad that I expect so little from these films these days. As long as they entertain me and avoid too large a clichéd CGI battle scene, I’m happy: but I did like the characters and humour in this one. 
  • The French Exit: I’m a sucker for anything with Paris in it and I was willing to go along with the first half of the film – and Michelle Pfeiffer really is fantastic – but it sort of lost me. It was too absurd. I didn’t find the others characters engaging, nor could understand their motivation. 
  • The Eternals: I knew this has some pretty mixed reviews, but being able to watch it at home, in two parts, it wasn’t too long that way. I loved the diverse characters, who were very attractive really. I kept on laughing imagining Angelina Jolie channeling her anger towards Brad Pitt in her action scenes. I love Gemma Chan. I like Scottish accents. Oh, and I especially love that the director and writer is an Asian-American woman and that the movie was a huge box office success. 
  • Encanto: Incredible animation, wonderful music, what’s not to love? And a cultural phenomenon. 
  • The Weekend Away: Gosh, I didn’t like this movie. Sort of the movie version of the Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window, with various intrigue and red herrings but nothing made much sense to me and the filmmaking was pretty uninteresting. 
  • Fire Island: Of course I had to see this film, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice with gay Asian men at the centre. I wanted to like it more, because there were some really, really funny and charming bits, and then other parts which just seemed dull in comparison, and yet did I ever think I would live to see a film with gay Asian men at the centre, with happy endings. No, I did not. 
  • Spiderman: Far From Home: I do think Tom Holland and Zendaya are appealing and have charisma, but for a film that made over one BILLION dollars and is the 24th highest grossing film of ALL TIME, I was surprised by how junior the jokes and storyline was. 
  • Moulin Rouge: We’re seeing the musical soon so wanted to revisit movie. I think it’s even better than I remember it, and am surprised when I read the criticisms of it. Baz made the movie he wanted: it’s a crazy, whirling, colourful, kinetic mash-up, not original in story or setting, but definitely original in the way that it’s told. It’s almost like some people wanted it to be a different movie altogether. Looking forward to the musical now.
  • Thor: Love and Thunder: I really wanted to enjoy this, and it is hard not to enjoy looking at Chris Hemsworth’s butt. I was OK with the slapstick comedy for the first half hour but then I thought: is that all there is? It was strange, tedious and loud, and seemed pitched at younger viewers. Scenes with dozens of child actors are just not appealing to me. 
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover: I hadn’t read the book so didn’t know what the fuss was about, and from my experience with other historical dramas of the time (particularly ones with gay characters), I kept thinking this would end in disaster. That it didn’t was an artistic choice, which I found interesting: choose love, choose sex, strike down class barriers, it said. Plus I loved that I couldn’t match the Emma Corrin from the Crown to the Emma Corrin of this movie: they were fantastic.
  • The Worst Person in the World: Ah, travel. The first overseas trip in over 3 years, which means: movies! I loved this sad, funny, thoughtful Norwegian film about a woman in her early 30s coming of age, a phrase which you’d usually think of for a much younger person, so these questions: What is your best relationship? Do you want to have kids? How do you set boundaries? are much more interesting than moving from being a teenager to a young adult. 
  • Mrs. Harris goes to Paris: The preview of this looked sufficiently charming so I was excited to find it on in-flight entertainment. I had not idea it was a book, and then 30 years ago, a TV movie with Angela Lansbury! I love Paris and I thought I’d like this more than I did. It was FINE. Enjoyable even, but the plot and characters are thin as air. 
  • Peace by Chocolate: I’d read about this true-life story so thought this would be a documentary rather than a movie. It was charming and sweet, and made me proud to be Canadian, to offer asylum-seekers and refugees an opportunity for a better life. Today, I got to try the chocolates too. No lie! They were delicious. 

Movies (seen in the cinema)

  • The Velvet Queen” (“La Panthère des Neiges”): A gorgeous, meditative film that is more about ways of seeing than the search for a snow leopard. 
  • Murder Party: A French farce, meant to allude to the board game Clue (known as Cluedo in Australia) and Agatha Christie’s novels, I thought it was like a French ‘Squid Game’ but not violent. Harmless entertainment, but not fabulous. 
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: I seriously wondered if I was going mad, except after the film, three of the four of us felt the same way (the other loved it). I had no idea WTF was happening for pretty much the whole film. Or perhaps I did understand what was happening, but couldn’t understand why I was supposed to be interested. The characters chased each other around and smashed things up. Apparently, newspaper reviewers have been told not to divulge the plot because it would spoil it, but … sorry. That’s the plot. 
  • How to Thrive: Friends of mine made a documentary about mental health and positive psychology. And we saw it in the cinema. Well done, gents!
  • Wakanda Forever: Surprised that husband didn’t like it that much but I did. Some beautiful, fantastical visuals, and I loved the strong women characters. 
  • Bros: I have rather a lot to say about this but don’t know if I’ll say it here!

Documentaries and Reality Television

  • Drag Race Italia. When I found out it was only six episodes, we popped back in to watch the finale. The shows were overly long, but I liked the host, judges and queens, and it seemed important, to Italy, to have this on TV in terms of gay (and drag) representation. Interesting that while other franchises have been addressing contemporary issues like trans and non-binary identities, racism within the gay community and living with HIV, Drag Race Italia was all about the basic message of acceptance of gay men and outsiders. 
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 14.  I worried that I was dragged out, but it was fun to revisit the OG, which is a well-oiled machine. On the other hand, we tried watching the first Drag Race UK vs The World and we can’t watch any more of it. Too much drag race. And then, we lost our interest in this one too, though will watch the finale. 
  • Project Runway, Season 19. We’ve watched this show since about 2004. Wow. Christian Siriano has slid into his mentor role perfectly, more and more comfortable in front of the camera, and hilarious and with great guidance. It was a good cast and a deserving winner. Enjoyed it.
  • Queer Eye, Season 6: This season brings Queer Eye to Austin, Texas for the usual mix of tears, glow-ups and consumerism. The heroes are well-chosen to represent today’s issues and ways of community-building and activism, and I think this show is a really interesting cultural phenomenon, four gay men and a non-binary person, dropping by homes to spice up their lives. 
  • Survivor Australia, Blood vs Water: The family bonds theme of this Survivor does make it interesting, but it’s amazing, in comparison with the American version, how little strategising these players are shown doing. They talk about having strategies but show no evidence nor even being able to read a crowd or follow a hunch. It’s frustrating. 
  • The Parisian Agency, Season 2: I was really charmed by the first season of this show: engaged by the family dynamics (of a family real estate business) and loved being able to see amazing French (and then European) properties. But I wasn’t as charmed by this season, where they seemed to try to create drama and storylines, which didn’t necessarily go anywhere. I really wanted to see if anyone would buy the shoebox-size apartment that had magnificent views of the Seine!
  • Survivor, Seasons 42 & 43: It surprises me just how much I enjoy this compared to the Australian version. The players are nearly always strategizing, making alliances, betraying each other. Then, set within a multicultural reflection of North America: I find it fascinating. My thought for Season 42 is that Canadians, only having been allowed to compete for two seasons, seem to have a natural advantage. People think we’re so nice they don’t see us coming for them. The winner of Season 43 was really a surprise for us, and we thought it was a good season overall. 
  • Inside the Mind of a Cat: Netflix’s documentary didn’t have much new information for us but there were certainly some cute cats. 
  • Blown Away, Season 3: I’m still surprised how much I love this reality competition for glass artists but there’s a wonderful combination of skill, artistry and interesting personalities, and I think there’s an in-built drama where glass could break or someone get 3rd degree burns at any time.
  • Making the Cut, Season 3: While I find Heidi very annoying, Jeremy terribly dressed and Tim a bit worn out (having loved him in the early seasons of Project Runway), I was very, very impressed with this season. It seemed the talent was at a higher level, and they were willing to reward innovation, rather than playing it safe. 
  • Drag Race España, Season 2: We saw the first couple of episodes and then took a break and watched the last one. Kittens, we’re dragged out! But it seems like a deserving queen won, and I love the judges warmth and enthusiasm.
  • Queer Eye Brazil: It was so interesting to see the Brazilian version of Queer Eye. The heroes seem to be from more modest means, and so are deserving of the free stuff and love. The Fab 5, and the heroes themselves, are all emotional, vulnerable, positive and physically affectionate. I think I liked this even more than the current US series!
  • Drink Masters: We tend to love reality TV competitions and I spent a lot of time learning to make good cocktails during lockdown. So, while I should love this show, I didn’t. They somehow didn’t coax the two experts into really explaining what makes a great cocktail, which is what I love about these shows, generally. I know a helluva lot more about fashion than I used to! But the judging and storytelling were lacking, and aside from wanting to make vermouth spheres, I wasn’t inspired to try making any of the creations, which looks generally wonderful but far to complicated to make at home!

Other television

  • Borgen – Power & Glory, Seasons 1 and 2. Oh Borgen, how I loved you. The new season was great storytelling, as before, engaging, interesting and Danish. So good that it convinced husband to want to watch the early seasons, and I’d forgotten quite how good they are. The added bonus is seeing all the main characters 10 years later, in the latest season. It is wonderful to see how they’ve changed, evolved and aged.
  • Dexter, New Blood. I think it was luck more than anything else that I somehow stopped watching the original Dexter after a few seasons, even though I loved it. Apparently, the storytelling got more and more inconsistent, culminating in one of TV’s most hated finales. But this new series, with the first showrunner: I really, really enjoyed it. I always liked Michael C. Hall, the actor playing his son is amazing as are the rest of the supporting cast. A huge treat to watch.
  • A Very English Scandal. Missed this when it first came out, and I found it completely compelling. Wonderful acting and storytelling. 
  • Emily in Paris, Season 2. I realise that I can watch this cotton candy of a show, and be excited by recognising the places that I visited in Paris and France. Emily is annoying. Other characters are also annoying. I find it particularly annoying that they’ve created the character of a random Chinese musician in Paris who is supposed to play electronic piano, and they kept showing that he can’t even fake play the piano. Kill me now. In general, the story doesn’t make tons of sense. But it’s easy to watch and you can bet I’ll be watching the next two seasons.
  • Veneno. What a show! With electric performances from trans actresses, this 8 episode Spanish series about trans sex worker Veneno’s life and times, and about a journalist who writes her autobiography, was amazing, though sad and harrowing.
  • The Woman In The House Across The Street From The Girl In The Window. What the hell did we just watch? I blame Kristen Bell, who I enjoy watching so was drawn into watching this nonsensical 8 short episodes of fluff. I understand it was supposed to be a spoof of a genre, but it wasn’t funny, clever or in the end, interesting. 
  • Ted Lasso, Seasons 1 and 2: We were late discoveries to this, and ended up binge watching both seasons. How we loved it. 
  • Snowpiercer, Season 3. I liked the first season a lot, but since then, just keep watching out of habit. A strange rhythm with too many characters, I enjoy parts of it and then find myself bored and confused. By the end, sadly, I had completely lost interest.
  • Call My Agent, Seasons 3 & 4. There’s much to like about this show, not least of which is how it encourages me to daydream about strolling around Paris. I did start to get tired about the repetitive theme of the show: lying, pretending not to have lied, getting in trouble because of the lies, and possibly getting out of trouble by lying. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I was pleasantly surprised. 
  • Killing Eve, Season 4. I’d seen the early headlines that the season wasn’t great and the finale was worse, but tried not to read anything before we watched it ourselves. What a terrible season. So bad that it almost made me forget why I liked the season in the first place. Where were the fabulous clothes? Jodie Comer’s amazing accents? Who were all these random new characters and why should we care about them? The story just didn’t make sense. What a shame. 
  • Inventing Anna. I have to admit to being fascinated by Julia Garner’s portrayal of Anna Sorokin. It drew me in, how a young woman with chutzpah, self-confidence and possibly a loose tether to reality conned so many people. But I thought the series was a little too long, and didn’t like the framing device of the journalist. The episode of the journo’s visit to Germany, which was entirely made up, was particularly bad. 
  • Heartstopper. I won’t ever stop being charmed by seeing shows that are now available, mainstream, to huge audiences, that portrayed a world I would have liked to live in when I was 15 or 16, feeling alone and isolated being gay, and wondering if I’d find a romantic partner, or even whether I’ve live to adulthood. I enjoyed this, very much, and spent most of my time making audible ‘Awwwww’ noises. 
  • Russian Doll, Season 2: Aside from the fact that we don’t see tons of Alan in this season, and his story is not as connected to the main one, I think I might have liked this season as much as the first. It’s absolutely bonkers and yet strangely, it sort of made emotional sense, and anchored by Natasha Lyonne’s performance, profane, tough, bossy and literate, I couldn’t stop watching this show.
  • Sort Of: I was charmed by the lead character, the non-binary hardworking Pakistani-Canadian Sabi, and also to spend time in Toronto again, but I wanted the writing to be sharper and stronger so that was a little disappointing. Loved the kids in the show, who were natural and have tons of charisma. 
  • My Brilliant Friend, Season 3: I loved the books, and I was engaged enough to binge-watch the series, but it was so uncomfortable. Elena is terrible to Lila. Lila is terrible to Elena. In fact, all the characters are pretty awful to each other, set amidst the backdrop of political violence, social misogyny and poverty. 
  • Only Murders in the Building, Seasons 1 & 2: I binge-watched these while I was in the hospital and what a gift. Sometimes you just need a well-crafted laugh, and having it delivered by such a cast of amazing actors. Oh, I liked this show. 
  • Lord of the Rings: Ring of Power: I was enjoying this and just allowing myself to remember what I liked about the mythic worlds of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. The images were beautiful. The stories engaged me. We were big fans of Game of Thrones and started to watch House of Dragon, but I had to admit it was so boring, I stopped after two episodes. But I lost my interest in Rings of Power by the end, unfortunately, and wondered: what was all that about?
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 5: I was occasionally frustrated by the previous seasons, the pace or how June just kept doing stupid things so we would continue to watch her, as the main character. But this season, I really loved. I liked the pace and the stories and being away from Gilead. Makes me happy to anticipate the final season. 
  • The Crown, Season 5: I was hesitant about this, as I’d read mixed reviews and the timeline is getting to close to now: doesn’t it feel a little intrusive? But watching the season, I remembered that Peter Morgan is a good storyteller, and looks for angles that are new or interesting. I had my quibbles with the season, but over all, I enjoyed it. 
  • Shantaram: This idea, of Bombay noir, the sophisticated and rough Indian underworld, I found compelling. My Aussie husband didn’t find faults with Charlie Hunnam’s accent and Shubham Saraf was a scene-stealer. Enjoyable. 


  • Armistead Maupin’s Mary Ann in Autumn: See the review here.
  • Bernhard Schlink’s Flights of Love. See the review here.
  • Jeanette Winterson’s Lighthousekeeping. See the review here.
  • A.M. Homes’s Jack. See the review here.
  • Byron Katie’s Loving What Is. See the review here.
  • Hanya Yanagihara’s To Paradise. See the review here.
  • Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House. I think this is my favourite book of the last two years! See the review here.
  • I liked it so much, I reread Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I never did a review for. So, wrote one here.
  • Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads. Meh. See the review here.
  • André Leon Talley’s The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir. I don’t know how he made such a potentially interesting life so deadly boring. The prose was dull and shallow. I only read a bit and gave up.
  • John Waters’ Liar-Mouth: A Feel-Bad Romance: A Novel. It felt like he was simply making up a story in his head of the worst behaved, most unpleasant person, doing the most unpleasant things he could think of. And yet, since he pioneered shock and disgust, it’s just not very shocking these days. I skimmed most of it then gave up.
  • Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties. I wanted to like this more than I did, as a fellow queer Asian writer. Reading various rave reviews of it did give me a better appreciation for it. I connected most with the characters most like me, the queer love affair of ‘Human Development’ but I found the other characters brash and ballsy but I didn’t personally engage with them so much.
  • David Leavitt’s The Page Turner. See the review here.
  • Ian Hamilton’s The Two Sisters of Borneo. See the review here.
  • I also reread Hanya Yanigihara’s A Little Life again.

Concerts, Shows, Theatre, Exhibitions & Words

  • Iridescent by Gerwyn Davies at the Museum of Sydney: Colonial and historic Sydney and New South Wales imagined through queer characters, uncovered or created, with amazing costumes and beautiful photos of the artist in the costumes in these historic settings. Loved it. 
  • Lost in Shanghai by Jane Hutcheon at the Sydney Festival: A fascinating life told in the style of William Yang, with slides and music. 
  • Six, Studio Theatre, Opera House: What fun to finally see this musical phenomenon. Great music, great performances. Very entertaining. 
  • Tim Minchin, BACK, at the Enmore Theatre: This show was delayed for over two years because of the COVID. I know Minchin more as a composer and musician but from this show, I see he considers himself at heart a comedian, a very intelligent court jester. It was very, very entertaining.  
  • Chorus Line, Opera House: Waited about two years for this to be rescheduled. It’s a classic musical from 1975 and rarely staged as it’s a tough one: requiring its cast to be able to dance at the highest level AND sing AND act. I think it was one of the first professional shows I saw, at, maybe 10 or 11 years old? So, it’s close to my heart. What was the most thrilling about this Sydney production was the dancing: incredible. And next for me, was a bit meta: that if you stop and think about the show and its meaning—performers struggling to make a living out of performing, the gruelling auditions, the pain and sacrifice—you might notice that the brave performers doing the show may be playing characters, but at heart, this IS their life. I found that poignant. There were some sound problems and the recorded music was too loud and too rushed, leaving not enough space at times for comic or touching moments. But otherwise, a great show.
  • Lady Windemere’s Fan, Genesian Theatre: It’s been ages since I’ve seen amateur theatre. One of the cast was down with COVID and another stepped into the role, the same day, reading from the book (and did a good job). Such an old-fashioned play. I can imagine drag queens playing all the female parts, reciting the lines in a very camp way. 
  • Brigadoon, Neglected Musicals, Hayes Theatre: I quite like this classic musical that is both romantic and silly. The cast put on this show in something like a day … and were very impressive in pulling it all off: the songs, the choreography, the lack of a set. I really enjoyed it. 
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, Sydney Theatre Company: I was mostly speechless by the end of this production, that brought to life Oscar Wilde’s book in a way that was contemporary, surprising and thrilling. Erin Jean Norvill, playing dozens of parts, supported by the technical wizardry of the crew (have they ever been called upon to do so much), was a tour de force. I hope this production goes international! It deserves that much recognition. 
  • Kunstkamer, Australian Ballet, Livecast from the Melbourne Arts Centre: I haven’t seen a lot of dance lately, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a particular combination like this of ballet and contemporary. The manic, flitting hands and contorted facial expressions were unnerving. The scenes with the entire corps were breathtaking: creating moving artwork through bodies. The quality of the livecast was great, allowing us to see more angles and close-ups than if we were there physically, but it still had a quality of immediacy. Very glad to have seen it. 
  • Nils Frahm, Music for Sydney, Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House: Appearing like a mad scientist with a wall of amazing contraptions, Frahm captivated us, and the sounds was SO good, I loved that I could feel it in different parts of my body. A wonderful show with lots of rapt fans (and some women who didn’t seem to know why they were there, and had to be told to stop texting and then left in a huff). Frahm said, honestly, at the start that he never imagined that he could do what he loved in front of so many people, and I love that idea: he seems pure and humble. He’s created wonderful music and people want to hear and pay for. I like when the world works like that. 
  • Bonnie and Clyde, Hayes Theatre: Hanging out at the Hayes Theatre is a way to see interesting Broadway musicals which may not have come to Sydney yet (like this one), performed by a young, dynamic cast, and with always inventive and engaging staging. I loved the voices of the leads (and others in the cast) and thought there were some really interesting moments in the musical, though I suspect its weaknesses have prevented more productions of it (its run on Broadway was short, and it doesn’t seem to have been performed often since). So, I felt really lucky to have seen this and that Hayes put it on!
  • Queenie Van Zandt’s BLUE: The Songs of Joni Mitchell, Hayes Theatre: A beautiful show, and beautifully sung, of songs by one of my favourite artists. 
  • Jekyll and Hyde, Hayes Theatre: Brendan Maclean and Brady Peeti Hayes are absolute stars, yet the book of the musical didn’t really grab me.
  • Sigur Rós, Aware Super Theatre: A great concert by a great band. Loved the projections, lighting, sound and … music. 
  • Moulin Rouge! The Musical: I loved this show and it made me wonder why I liked it so much. It is an interesting trick, to tap into our collective subconscious with popular songs so that we’re drawn into the musical, both emotionally and intellectually. Anyone remember Stars on 45? I just wouldn’t expect to like a jukebox musical so much, and while it’s true the story is slight, the set design is magical and transportive; the costumes amazing. We had the special nightclub seats right next to the stage and could see how hard the actors were working. It all became a mythic romance, and I’m impressed how successfully they updated the movie to a new hit musical. Bravo. 
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, Live on Stage! This show was delayed, because of COVID, so long that there were two seasons of queens on stage, rather than one. What was most interesting was the audience, and the phenomenon that RPDR has become. Otherwise, some amusing shows and great dancers, though probably not as charming as seeing a show close-up at the Imperial Hotel. 
  • Godspell, Hayes Theatre: This was one of my formative musicals; I even played rehearsal piano for our high school production. So, a jolt, definitely, to see a contemporary version, not only a female Christ, but many of the songs with major changes. An incredible, multi-talented cast. We particularly liked Victoria, who was both musical director and performer. 
  • Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Lyric Theatre. The music really was quite gorgeous and yet surprisingly unmemorable (and similar to many other Rodgers and Hammerstein songs). On top of such a well-worn fable, it was by turns, exuberant, junior and camp. But all in all enjoyable and an amazing cast. 
  • All We Want is More: The Tobias Wong Project & A Seat at the Table (Contemporary Stories of Chinese Canadians in BC), Museum of Vancouver. Great to learn about the conceptual artist and designer Tobias Wong and that with his untimely death, the Museum of Vancouver looks like it will a custodian of his work. And my cousin has an interview in ‘A Seat at the Table’ so it was cool to see the exhibit, my people, my history.

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