Jacaranda Delights for Beltaine!

Beautiful Jacaranda, Newtown, Sydney, Australia Beltaine 31st October 2017

So today is the best day of the year, not just for birthday girls, but pagans alike. 

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, the wheel of the year turns to Beltaine. If you have been thinking it’s Halloween, that – i.e., Samhain – occurs on the first of May.

Newtown in Sydney’s Inner West is renowned not only for its bohemian culture and league of nations of cuisines, but its lovely messy Jacarandas which bloom every Spring.

I hope you enjoy this photograph I took of a beautiful Jacaranda tree up the street this afternoon, whilst slightly blinded by sunlight.  Jacarandas are one of my favourite trees, with their bell-shaped purple blossoms.  Little did I know when I was drawn to photograph this tree for my writing page, that this lilac stunner symbolises rebirth, and is a lunar aspect of the Goddess.

Enjoy, and Blessed Be!

c. Kylie J. Lawrence 2017

Photograph by Kylie J. Lawrence

 

 

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‘The Enchanted Wood’ Re-Framed

On my way home today I stopped in a bookshop, and after being bored by the synopsis on the back cover of a book about female chauvinist pigs, turned toward the children’s books on a side wall.

Ahh, ‘The Enchanted Wood’! Wouldn’t that be a lovely book to give my tiny niece for Xmas.  Memories of childhood imaginings about Joe, Bessie, and Fannie climbing the Faraway Tree and meeting Moonface; hot-cold goodies; and exploring the land at the top of the tree.  I loved this when I was a kid out in the bush, and one sunny day lamented that I wanted to have adventures like Joe, Bessie, and Fanny, considering my own life unadventurous.  Although I doubt that Joe and co. ever had to concern themselves with avoiding snakes, sunburn, and dehydration on bush walks, or helped break in neurotic ponies, or were solo driving at seven.

Harmless storytelling to inspire the imagination of another generation.  Certainly, I became aware many years ago that some of Enid Blyton’s storybook characters were racially-offensive confections compounding stereotypes, well out of place in a more culturally-aware society. Fair enough if these had changed.

Surely there wasn’t anything offensive in ‘The Enchanted Wood’.

But lo, there it was on the back cover:  “Joe, Bessie, and Frannie.”  FRANNIE?  FRANNIE?? FRANNIE???

What numpty, politically-correct publishing prat changed Fanny’s name to that of a burnt-out middle-aged bank teller with frigging corns and a nylon blouse?

I hot-footed it out of there.

What the hell else has changed?  Let me guess:

  1. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie’s helicopter mother follows them everywhere and won’t let them climb trees.
  2. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie’s famed bottle of milk and sandwiches stuffed into a bag, is now a bottle of organic soy milk with individual cups and enviro-killing wet wipes and gluten-free, nut-free in an ostentatious bento box-style Disney-licenced plastic lunch box of wanker proportions.
  3. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie aren’t allowed to touch the tree in case they get bark-poisoning just from looking at it.
  4. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie never find out what is up the Faraway Tree, and never have any adventures because their pathetic helicopter mother is too freaked out to let them climb it.
  5. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie miss out on eating Moonface’s hot-cold goodies, because there’s no proof that they are paleo-inspired and come out of a twee enviro-killing crunchy plastic bag that’s headed straight for land-fill.  Also, Moonface may turn out out to be a tree-hugging creep.
  6. Joe, Bessie, and Frannie are forced to ‘curate’ a photo essay of their day out for their mummy blogger’s Instagram account, which will be full of over-exposed ‘whimsical’ shots of them in twee designer clothes that are not designed for playing in outdoors.

Re-framing literary narratives within the confines of a contemporary social narrative has its merits, but at some point, revisionism egregriously assumes an -atriarchal[sic] role in a reader’s critical thinking that sucks some of the enchantment out of storytelling.

c. Kylie J. Lawrence 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Top Five Comedies to Wet the Pants of a Pregnant Sheila.

Here’s my top five comedy viewing list, inspired by a cranky pregnant mumma who needs some laughs.

1. BRIDESMAIDS (2011) You cannot go wrong with badly-behaved bridesmaids, a dirty restaurant, and a posh bridal fitting.  Besides, it has Melissa McCarthy in it.  

2. DEATH AT A FUNERAL (2007)  Families, feuds, and f-ups.

3. KENNY (2006) A mockumentary with heart, great lead character, cracking dialogue.  

4. THE GOODIES  (TV Series 1970-1982) Fun, fun, fun.

5. GETTIN’ SQUARE (2003) David Wenham.  Leopard-print undies.  A window.  

c. Kylie Lawrence 2017.

 

My Cousin Rachel

Is, or is not, Rachel Ashley a black widow?

Is she, or is she not, a dangerous woman to love?  Perhaps the danger lies not only in her flawed hands, but in the carelessness of her prey, the initially wary Phillip Ashley, played by Sam Claflin.

Ambrose Ashley (Deano Bugatti)  was everything to his orphaned young cousin Phillip: devoted guardian and mate.  His mysterious and unexpected death soon after a whirlwind marriage to beautiful, worldly Rachel in Italy, prompts dark questions in the grieving and angry Phillip’s mind.

A cougar with a potentially extinguishable cub, Rachel Weisz’s sympathetic portrayal of new widow Rachel Ashley, is almost disarming in her gentleness when she arrives at Phillip and Ambrose’s English working estate.  However, it is not long before the lines of Phillip’s loathing become blurred, and he throws the caution of good friends to the proverbial wind.

If, like me, you read Daphne du Maurier’s incendiary 1944 novel,  My Cousin Rachel, in the wee lamp-ringed hours of teenager-hood (it is a hood), and were no more apprised of the truth at the story’s end; then turned up to watch the film with no more expectation that cinematic interpretation would be equally obfuscatory in resolution, you would not be disappointed.  Writer-director Roger Michell’s 2017 adaptation is a classy rendition of an awful story.

Is Rachel Ashley lover, friend, or mortal foe?

 

c. Kylie Lawrence 2017

 

 

Berlin Syndrome

I deliberately avoided any 9.30pm sessions of Berlin Syndrome (2017) in case I scared myself on the dark walk home.  Some films are best kept for daylight hours.  Watching a thriller is as much a test of the film, as it is of my internal fear that I will remember painful, revolting, cruel scenes from the film, bring that fear into my sacred space, and not be able to sleep, perhaps even have a nightmare during which I cannot grab anything.  One could probably achieve the same by locking me in a room with a bird or a reptile (this is not an invitation), and saying, “Go to sleep.”

When I ‘get through’ a thriller, with minimal sensory ‘damage’ it is a small achievement.  Tonight though, I was too late to see a comedy, and settled for another film on my list of desired fillums[sic] to watch, the 7.10pm session of Berlin Syndrome.  So, really no different from the 9.30pm assault upon the visceral senses after all.

Director Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome is an engaging, though at times slow-moving erotic thriller about a young photojournalist who has packed up her life in Brisvegas, Australia, for a creative endeavour in Berlin, but meets hell instead.  At first, Teresa Palmer’s Clare is your prototypical hiding-her-light-under-a-bushel solo backpacker, enjoying a fun fling.  She discovers too late that behind cute local Andi’s  (played by Max Riemelt) friendly mask, lies a wolf in waiting.  But within herself, Clare finds her own animal instincts in an increasingly excruciating, in more ways than one, fight for survival.

See the preview here: 

c. Kylie J. Lawrence 2017

 

Table 19

I don’t know if it is an ephemeral hang-over from last night’s Samhain*, but tonight, sitting alone in Cinema 9 at Dendy Newtown, I could feel presences, at first in the row behind me, to the left, then later, further along the right of that row.  Ghosts of patrons past?

And for the second time tonight I sat in seat C5, though different cinema screening rooms.  Oooooh!

Speaking of veils between worlds, the second film I saw tonight, Table 19, was a bitter-sweet comedy about a table of wedding misfits, lead by sacked and dumped Maid of Honour, Eloise, (Anna Kendrick) at first lost in in wedding reception hell – having to spend an evening with strangers.  Although at times laugh-out-loud funny,  it was no Death At A Funeral (2007), and, like some weddings, tonally, it slipped between maudlin and comical.  It evoked Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), later it was no surprise to find out that Mark Duplasse was one of the co-writers.  I did find my heart beating and a romantic smile enveloping me, in a dance promising much, but delivering a plot twist servicing a morally conventional true love pas de deux.

See the preview here: 

c. Kylie J. Lawrence 2017

*I drafted this in May, so that’s Samhain Down Under.

 

Colossal

Pisshead Gloria’s life in New York is a mess.  An unemployed writer, Gloria’s mainstays in life are partying, sleeping all day, and borrowing money from Nice Boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens). The do hits the fan when N.B.T. dumps her, kicks her out of his flat, and Gloria moves back to Mainhead, her childhood home town, where she is forced to face her demons, one of whom is not the drink.

Convinced that her emotional state is controlling literally monstrous events in far off South Korea, anti-hero Gloria’s unwilling journey to save herself becomes a mission to save the world before the world becomes complacent.  At times brutal, this comedy is more monster film than action film.  It evokes the quirky storytelling of writer Derek Connolly’s 2012 romantic comedy, Safety Not Guaranteed, and director Dan Trachtenburg’s 2016 seat-clencher 10 Cloverfield Lane.  A decent performance from Anne Hathaway as Gloria, who buries herself in a world of men, but is more King Kong than fey Fay Wray.  An increasingly plotty storyline resolves itself in a very clear-cut way, and over all, a satisfying film to watch.

Watch the Colossal preview here:

c. Kylie Lawrence 2017