Tonight I watched Miyazaki's Laputa, a Studio Ghibli animated movie about the adventures of a young girl and boy and their quest to find a flying city. Miyazaki's plots are so wonderfully and wierdly different to anything else on the screen, but what I love most are his fantastical cityscapes and industrial depictions. I would love to have a model railway layout that depicted on of his towns, love to see it with my own eyes even more. You have the distinct feeling that places like that exist, should exist.
I feel the same way about the incredible imagined Australia in Terry Dowling's Tom Tyson/Rynosseros series. I can see his towns, desert landscapes, his sandships travelling across the Ab'O states out of the corner of my eye, hear the sounds of the belltrees in my mind. Dowling imbues Australia with a history that is most noticeable by its absence in reality.
I wish these places existed. Sometimes I overlay echoes of Dowling's Australia atop real places. At breaklight this evening we were walking along the promenade of my Twilight Beach, Botany Bay, towards my Gaza Hotel, the Novotel at Brighton Le Sands. But there was no Mayan Quarter, no firechess, too much shatterwrack on the path. Instead of sandships leaving the Sand Quay there were aircraft taking off from the airport, but then there were the kites of the paraskiers too. If only there were bells and windchimes on the groyens reaching out into the bay, intelligent belltrees along the promenade. I can see them out of the corner of my eye.
Wow! That might have been the best concert I have ever attended. Both the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and John Williams celebrate their 75th birthdays this year and to mark the occasion the SSO performed a selection of Williams' orchestral hits in a concert at the Sydney Opera House under the baton of Arnie Roth.
The music was mostly loud and exciting, yet Roth ensured that nothing was lost by any part of the orchestra with even the most subtle underscoring well defined. Only in the theme to the Lost World did the sound get a little muddy. A couple of pieces were just a little too fast, but really, that's all I can complain about.
I was concerned about what the Duel of the Fates and Battle of the Heroes would sound like without a choir, but the former may well have been the standout piece. Schindler's List almost brought a tear to my eyes with its delicate performance while the Imperial March is still stirring no matter how many times I have heard it. I was back in 1980 all over again!
I do wish that the orchestras would play the Main Title and Finale from one of the other Star Wars movies other than Episode 4 as I have heard them quite a few times. I suggest the finale from The Empire Strikes Back due to the other themes enclosed in that piece. However, the performance of both was grand and I especially enjoyed the Force Theme passage in the Throne Room sequence.
.: Bad Taste
No less gruesome than my last posting today was that I watched the director of The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson's first movie, Bad Taste. It's fantastically, deliberately bad and over the top as four men, 'The Boys', save humankind from becoming food for an alien take-away franchise. The special effects are disgusting and the dialogue hilarious. It's obvious that the kiwis share some of the same sense of humour with Australians with gems like "I told you that you should have bought a Holden" when the Ford car breaks down. The $10 DVD was money well spent and I can't wait to watch the special features.
Liam D'Arcy Brown both speaks Chinese and writes excellent English prose. His book Green Dragon, Sombre Warrior, recounts his trip around the four compass points of China. He travels around China by train, bus and ferry, talking with the locals and those who have travelled from elsewhere in China along the way. What really stands out are the frustrations of the individuals he chats with. Ordinary Chinese who are unable to find jobs or to express themselves freely, who are constrained by corruption or tradition. I don't think that Brown set out to find these people, he just encounters them as he goes along.
In one frightening instance Brown is heavily drugged and robbed in his "soft sleeper" cabin on the train between Chengdu and Urumqi after sharing some food and drink with a couple of fellow passengers. So far as I can tell, that's not a common occurence on Chinese trains, but it does make me feel that much more paranoid about our own train trips planned for China.
The World of John Williams concert was absolutely fantastic. Hearing a live orchestra added another dimension to the music beyond that of my well worn compact discs. It was also inspiring to see the enthusiasm and dedication of the young Eminence orchestra members, refreshing to see people dedicated to their craft and enjoying themselves at the same time.
The program included music from all Star Wars movies, except Return of the Jedi, and including the first Australian performance of Revenge of the Sith's Battle of the Heroes. Other pieces played included music from Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World, ET and Schindler's List.
I can't wait to hear more from the Eminence Orchestra and I hope that they will have many more film music concerts in future.
In Cities of the Hot Zone the foreign editor of The Australian newspaper Greg Sheridan shares tales of his travels through the cities of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hanoi, Saigon, Hong Kong and Jakarta. He includes interviews with prime ministers, presidents and other politicians in each of the countries as well as academics and religious leaders, along with observations of general life in the cities. Like my own wife, Sheridan's wife was born in Malaysia and he obviously has a very strong love and long experience in South-East Asia. Many of his descriptions of Malaysia and Singapore brought knowing laughter from both my wife and I, especially the comments on the asian love of acronyms and other language oddities.
It only costs $1 per movie to hire weekly DVD's on Wednesdays from our local Civic Video store. It means that you can hire movies of dubious quality without feeling guilty about it. So for two dollars I was able to take a trip back to the eighties with Friday the 13th and Ladyhawke.
I haven't seen many horror movies. Most I consider comedies and I end up laughing out loud at them. but my wife gets a little spooked. At home alone during the day at the moment it seems like the ideal time to catch up on my horror movie pop culture references. Freddy vs Jason was a recent showing at the cinemas and featured characters from the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th series of movies. I had seen a number of the former movies and quite enjoyed them, so thought I'd discover who Jason was (next on my list is Mike Myers, from Halloween). Also, Friday the 13th was my last day at work, so there was some synchronicity there.