the softness of the earth

the softness of the earth

marshmallow in the palm of my hand

beneath the pale earth

the leaves of the forest floor

I’m here to watch

the trees change to a light

swirly, delicate green

beneath the greyed-out moon

of the night sky

the softness of the earth

lend me your ears

with the music of the tree

when it becomes night the

forest starts again

the trees take my place

they bring me life

with a sweet blend of light

the rain comes slowly 

softening

Buy yokel

Last night I was listening to writers talking about being based in regional Australia

It reminded me of this quote from a Siberian musician:

Most creative projects here are concocted by people in their free time. “Amateurism,” says Sharifullin, “is what defines provinciality. On the other hand, it’s hard to stay professional when you’re surrounded by philistine stereotypes. People think you’re a weirdo if your happiness doesn’t depend on the size of your bank account. So you must have balls of steel to do arts. It’s not that bad if you have a few like-minded people around, though.”

For me being regional provides opportunity.

Anytime I think I'd like to try something, I know that I can put my hand up and have a go.

If I make a mess of it, no one is likely to notice.

It's kinda empowering.

And the like-minded people don't have to be physically nearby, since I can share my work online.

New couch

For years I've wanted a new couch 

Over a decade I told myself when my kids are old enough, I'll buy a comfy seat for the living room.

About a week ago I decided the time had come.

There was a special on a couch I'd been looking at online and there was money in my bank account.

So I made the order.

The couch arrived last Friday and it sat outside until Saturday, when there were enough hands to help move it inside.

We took off the packaging and screwed in the legs, then placed it where the old futon had been.

Everyone agreed it was an improvement.

Then I made lunch and started reading a book.

Soon I was interrupted by noise in the living room and realised there was panic.

It turned out someone had spilled soft drink on my new couch.

One of the kids was wiping a spot with a wet washcloth.

I yelled for a towel and then felt myself getting angry.

"How is it that it took less than two hours for one of you to spill something on my new couch?!"

They agreed they were both to blame and that they were sorry.

"Didn't I say not to eat or drink on the couch?!"

They agreed I had said not to consume any food or liquids on the couch.

"Seriously! You're idiots!"

They didn't agree but quickly disappeared to their rooms.

It didn't take long for me to clean the drink off.

Later that night, after I'd sat on the new couch and watched a movie, I called the kids into the living room.

"I'm sorry I got angry with you earlier."

They said they understood.

"I can get always another new couch but I want you to know that I love you."

They said they loved me too and we sat on the couch together.

"You don't have to apologise," one of them began.

"Yes, I do," I said. "It's important for me to show you that being angry is temporary."

Pickl-icious

Green tomato pickles with turmeric, oregano, mustard seed, chilli and apple cider vinegar 

Music for The Lost World

Silent movies were never silent and I wanted to raise awareness of a gem from 1925, so I’ve made music for it

This remarkable feature was the first to use stop-motion animation and also the first screened on a plane, at a time when nitrate prints presented a serious risk in wooden aircraft.

The story was written by Arthur Conan Doyle, who “frequently mentioned that Professor Challenger, not Sherlock Holmes, was his favorite character among his creations.”

Willis O’Brien’s visual effects are a large part of the film’s charm and he went on to animate King Kong in 1933, as well as earning credit for the story in the first on-screen encounter the giant ape had with Godzilla in 1962.

Another bit of trivia from Wikipedia:

In 1922, Conan Doyle showed O’Brien’s test reel to a meeting of the Society of American Magicians, which included Harry Houdini. The astounded audience watched footage of a Triceratops family, an attack by an Allosaurus and some Stegosaurus footage. Doyle refused to discuss the film’s origins. On the next day, The New York Times ran a front-page article about it, saying “(Conan Doyle’s) monsters of the ancient world, or of the new world which he has discovered in the ether, were extraordinarily lifelike. If fakes, they were masterpieces.”

The Lost World remains entertaining, from the opening slapstick comedy through to the intergenerational romantic rivalry and, of course, the handmade dinosaurs.

You can see the film and hear my soundtrack by downloading the album.

This project is supported by the Country Arts Support Program, a devolved funding program administered by Create NSW and Western Riverina Arts on behalf of the NSW Government. 

Yielding autotune

Reading "The Yield" by Tara June Winch and find myself wondering what box could give this effect:

"There was a box taped to the mouthpiece and her voice came out in autotune." 

The book itself is enjoyable for including history from the corner of the Riverina where I've been living in the last decade, particularly the Warangesda Mission in nearby Darlington Point.

A Day in the Life Of

A Day in the Life Of, 2009

Courtesy Raqs Media Collective and Frith Street Gallery, London.

Found myself in a book

Surprised to find my name among the references in "Electronic Music School: A Contemporary Approach to Teaching Musical Creativity" by Will Kuhn and Ethan Hein 

Zucchini fritters

Bought a bunch of discounted zucchini and knew the time had come to try making fritters

Turned out to be as easy as grating six cups, salting for half an hour to drain some liquid, then adding a cup of grated cheese, a cup of flour and three eggs.

Beak Technique project grows

The Beak Technique project was discussed at the March meeting of the March meeting of the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists

The project has been funded through Create NSW to develop a series of children’s activity sheets that link local bird species with their habitat.

“We’re now able to print a colour flier to promote the sheets and illustrate the bird species, through additional support for Orana Arts.”

“These activities will link bird identification with their diet and native plant species,” said Mr Richardson.

The project has grown in scope as funding became available, from support through Leeton Shire Council for a Country Arts Support Program grant through Western Riverina Arts and NSW Government’s Create NSW.

"Each sheet will promote four birds and five plant species and we've now added a fifth activity sheet for cockatoos."

Richardson and partner Jo Roberts have been finalising bird and plant species that will be included in the designs.

"Thanks to the contributions from the Field Naturalists at the March meeting, which helped narrow the decision-making process and your comments were invaluable."

“I wanted the bird species to include a range of everyday and one aspirational species,” said Ms Roberts.

The choices have also ensured a diversity of colours for the activity sheets.



Cockatoos (seeds, roots berries and nuts)

- Sulphur-crested

- Black varieties

- Major Mitchell’s

- Galah

• Eucalyptus melliodora - Yellowbox 

• Allocasuarina verticillata - Drooping Sheoke

• Microlaena stipoides - Weeping grass

• Acacia deanei - Dane's Wattle

• Spiny or hedge saltbush



Parrots (seeds, flowers, nectar)

- Superb

- Yellow rosella

- Blue Bonnets

- Mallee Ring-necked

• Acacia decora - Western Silver Wattle

• Atriplex nummularia - Old Man Saltbush

• Themeda australis - Kangaroo Grass

• Callistemon sieberi - River Bottlebrush 

• Eucalyptus microcarpa - Grey Box



Honeyeaters (insect and nectar)

- Black

- White-plumed

- Spiny-cheeked

- Striped

• Grevillia - 'Robyn Gordon

• Eremophila longifolia - Emu Bush

• Acacia pendula

• Amyema quandong - Grey Mistletoe

• Blakeley's Red Gum - Eucalyptus blakelyi



Finches (seed)

- Sparrows

- Diamond firetail

- Zebra

- Double-barred

• Carex appressa - Tall Sedge  

• Allocasuarina verticillata - Drooping Sheoke 

• Danthonia species - Wallaby Grass

• Dysphana pumilio - Clammy Goosefoot

• Poa sieberiana- Tussock Grass



Fantails/Robins (insects and invertebrates)

- Willy wagtail

- Red-capped robin

- Superb blue wren

- Yellow-rumped thornbill

• Acacia doratoxylon - Currawang/Myall

• Acacia montana - Malle Wattle

• Callitris glaucophylla  White Cypress pine 

• Allocasuarina luehmannii - Bulloak  

• Eucalyptus microcarpa -  Grey Box

Invitation to time travel

Among many distinctions the concept of time travel must rate as one of the greatest flights for the imagination

Many still remember the exhilaration they felt when first asked:

What would you see if you traveled back in time?

You and your imagination are welcome to attend a screening of the classic dinosaur film, The Lost World.

It excited audiences nearly a century ago with dinosaurs from 68-160 millions years ago.

The screening on Saturday 17 April will feature an original soundtrack I’ve composed.

That story originated with Arthur Conan Doyle in 1912 and recent discussion of megaflora on subantarctic islands brought to mind the fascinating discoveries of megafauna in the Murrumbidgee.

Like so many dinosaurs that have captured in the public imagination, I can’t believe that diprotodon isn’t the word on everyone’s lips.

Evidence of this mega wombat was first found by Sir Mitchell (then Major) in caves near Lithgow during 1830.

Over the last century more diprotodon remains have been found in our region.

It’s surprising that if one wanted to meet dinosaurs, one wouldn’t need to travel back too far if a time machine were available.

“Megafauna — including oversized kangaroos and mega-lizards — died out thousands of years ago, but the Diprotodon could have survived on the Liverpool Plains of NSW until about 7,000 years ago, according to the Australian Museum.”

It’s unclear whether the giant wombat-looking creature died due to climate changes or human hunting, but remains have been identified as recently as 2019:

“Two Snowy Monaro Regional Council workers found the fossil at a place known for its paleontological richness, but kept secret from the public.”

The ABC article has a headline announcing this “Site a secret well kept by scientists” and one wonders whether that’s significant.

"It looks like a riverine deposit, so they've probably been washed down a river somehow," Dr McCurry said.

A diprotodon discovery outside Wagga in 1893 was unearthed while digging a well “at Downside, on what is known as Honlaghn's Creek (sic — probably Houghlahans Creek), which is a tributary of the Murrumbidgee.”

“The fossils were found in a bed of yellow sand at a depth of 29 feet, below a rich mass of alluvial soil, which forms the banks of the watercourse. A large number of detached, massive, mysterious bones were found, and they were eagerly seized by all the passers by who could get hold of them.

“Fortunately, Mr. C. H. Croakey, an auctioneer, had nous enough to send some of them to the Sydney Museum, where they were at once recognised as the bones pf the extinct Diprotodon,” (Illustrated Sydney News, Sat 6 May 1893,  page 12.)

The Murrumbidgee region must be rich in riverine deposits but not all the creatures from prehistoric times will be found in layers of sediment.

It’s interesting to consider that contemporaries of dinosaurs can still be found in our landscapes.

Please come to the screening of The Lost World on Saturday 17 April at CWA Hall from 7pm and we will discuss the local species that might be considered as time travellers. 

Sudo-ko by Kat Lehmann

 


Cultural Marxism

Studying an arts degree in the 1990s introduced me to a variety of critical theories

It was instructive how the conservative commentators were in turn critical of those perspectives.

One idea I liked was the notion of hegemony developed by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. 

Hegemony holds that the trickle-down of power from the ruling class will sometimes need to navigate resistance to reach into the working classes.

As a student of Anthropology it fascinated me to consider the ways global companies would have to adjust their products to meet audiences in different cultures.

I used to amuse myself with the idea that it'd be interesting to compare McDonalds' menus in different countries, but I might've been inspired by the dialogue early in Pulp Fiction.

That discussion compared how Europeans would used mayonnaise on their french fries.

I also considered how Indian hamburgers used lamb rather than beef, for example.

Anyway, I recently saw this discussion of how the names of Disney characters vary across Europe.

It got me thinking about Gramsci again, although so-called cultural Marxism is widely reviled by right-wing commentators these days.

So I won't write about how much I enjoy the writing of the Frankfurt School.

All the nice girls


 

Want to travel to the Moon?



Join Leeton's space program and experience the thrill of intergalactic travel

We're departing from CWA Hall on Friday 2 April and expect the atmosphere to be light.

Numbers will be limited and a program of onboard entertainment is planned for the duration of our flight. 

Box of green tomatoes

Last year I saw an ad for a box of green tomatoes and thought it looked like a bargain

When I discovered it was around 10kg, I wasn't sure what to do with them.

My friends recommended a variety of recipes, including salsa verde and fried green tomatoes.


The best outcome turned out to be pickles, as I was eating those tomatoes on tortilla toasties for almost a year.

So this year I've bought an even bigger box of green tomatoes.

It still surprises me they aren't available in the shops because they're very versatile and tasty.

Aldi treats

There are a couple of things at Aldi that I haven't found anywhere else

The coffee from Colombia has a citrus flavour that I wouldn't have thought I'd like, but has quickly become my go-to for a full-strength hit.

I brew for my coffee for up to two minutes using an Aeropress and the water is around 80°C.

The Honduras coffee at Aldi is also good, but the pronounced flavour is better for weaker brews (using about half as much).

Another treat is the chocolate with coconut.

Normally I find the sugary flavour of white chocolate too rich, but it is incredibly moreish with the roasted coconut.

I'd like to say that both the coffee and chocolate are sometimes treats, but I've been indulging myself a bit. 

Travel through space and time

The Leeton Museum & Art Gallery has an undocumented feature that I think is magic 

Brace yourselves

As a former PR guy this seems obvious

There is going to be a big shift in reaching an audience since Facebook has blocked a swathe of pages, links and websites in Australia.

Feels Good Man

Watched this documentary for our family movie night

I hadn't really followed the journey of Pepe the frog and it's a helluva ride, as well as being a comment on the power of internet-based memes.

The discussion of hyper-sigilisation in particular suggests how much impact symbols can have to unite people.

Afterwards I asked my clan to draw their own Pepe.

Pacific octopus

"The giant Pacific octopus is considered the largest octopus species in the world and inhabits the northern Pacific Ocean off the United States up to Alaska and around Japan

"The largest individual on record weighed an impressive 600 pounds and measured 30 feet across in length." 

Via FB

Hamburgers and chips in Leeton

My family recently undertook a comparison of five takeaway hamburgers and chips in Leeton

In the details below you'll see I've included some basic observations about each, as well as noting weight and price.

Our order at each venue was for a plain hamburger and a minimum of chips with sizes varying as well as prices.

Some venues asked whether we were happy to have tomato and beetroot in the salad and one asked if we wanted cheese, but we didn't accept as that might be considered a cheeseburger.

The plain hamburgers shared in common the beef patty, lettuce, tomato, beetroot and bun.

They each differed in ways that make this comparison an exercise with contrasts and I expect the ratio of ingredients will vary between preparations and probably changes depending on staff at each venue too.

We split these five hamburgers over two meals and bought our favourite from the first round a second time to assist in calibrating our taste buds.

It was also interesting to note the burger from Luke's was 9 grams heavier when we bought it on the weekend, compared to the second one we bought on a weekday.


Country Fried Chicken:

Burger had beefiest tasting patty and lots of lettuce.
327 grams / $8

Chips were crisp, golden and fluffy inside.
439 grams / $2

Golden Fried Chicken:

Burger had a sourdough bun with noticeable butter.
317 grams / $7.50

Chips were served, rather cooked specifically for the order and didn’t seem as crisp (but had been brought home in a plastic bag).
507 grams / $4.40

Luke’s Cafe:

Burger had oregano added to patty and a noticeably toasted sesame bun.
284 and 275 grams / $7.50

Chips were crisp and highly rated, possibly the oil.
519 grams / $3

Tourist Supermarket:

Burger had lots of fried onion, which gave a sweet flavour.
333 grams / $11

Huge serve of chips with some crispiness.
909 grams / $3

Amesbury Crossing Family Store:

Burger tasted grilled and seemed to contain more salad (tomato and beetroot were prominent as well as mixed lettuce leaves rather than just iceberg).
326 grams / $6

Chips might have been served and came home in a plastic bag in a box branded GFC.
258 grams / $2.50


Conclusion

It’s worth noting that family members had differing opinions but the adults largely agreed on the following preferences.

Overall the Amesbury burger was the favourite and Luke’s a second place, but they were quite different in the style of patty and the amount of salad.

Overall Country Fried offered the favourite chips, with differing opinions about second place but my partner and I preferred Luke’s. 

Cooking with beer

I've got a stockpile of home-brewed beer and little interest in drinking

So I started looking for ways to use it, aside from watering the garden.

Beer bread has been good, although sometimes flour isn't good for me.

The recipe is easy, just add 375ml beer to three cups of self-raising flour and a teaspoon of salt.

I've found it also works with soft drink to produce a damper-like dough.

It's even better with a tablespoon or three of brown sugar, a cup of cut-up dried dates and some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

I've also started using beer when a recipe calls for water and am finding it's good in many foods.

The pizza dough I made with beer was described as my "best yet" too.

Big Fish

The other day my son mentioned he'd impressed his history teacher by drawing John Merrick on the title page for his notebook

We discussed The Elephant Man and I mentioned it was a film that had brought me to tears.

As I continued reflecting I mentioned other movies that had a similar effect, like Bambi and King Kong and Big Fish. 

My son didn't remember Tim Burton's film, which surprised me as I recall crying while watching it a second time with my family.

So we watched the trailer and my son asked "what exactly is it that makes you cry?"

I began explaining the father and son theme, how the son doesn't believe the stories his father told him and so on. 

Then I started recalling the final scene, where the son takes his father to the river and my throat started to close.

Soon my eyes were watering and I knew I was about to start sobbing.

My son looked bemused as I excused myself from continuing.

I don't know why the film makes me cry, probably the theme, but it surprised me how little exposure was required to have an effect.

Sometimes I think it's important to cry in front of my kids but it surprises me how rarely they remember it.

The Beach review

Director Warwick Thornton has been going from strength to strength in his filmmaking

In some ways it’s only a short distance from the contemporary tragedy of Samson and Delilah to the 1920s setting for the neo-western Sweet Country (which comments on Australian race relations with a plot like something John Ford would direct), but he’s quickly established himself. 

Thornton has a confidence in his control of what he shows viewers, particularly in action that happens offscreen, and his style seems almost disproportional to the work he has produced.

With The Beach Thornton puts himself at the centre of a powerfully understated experience that appears ridiculously cinematic for a six-part television series, thanks to his son Dylan River.

It opens with Thornton arriving at a remote beach shack on the Western Australian coast and ends with him leaving, while the supporting cast amounts to birds, an animal (spoiler?) and some tasty sea creatures.

Aside from occasionally cursing at the challenges of the setting, his addresses to a group of chickens serve as a device for monologues as Thornton reflects on his life.

I had difficulty forgetting that there would have been a crew watching from outside the frame in those moments, but did not doubt his skills cooking sumptuous fusion meals from a few jars of supplies and meat from the surrounding landscape.

It’s remarkable that the economy in the storytelling required only a couple of scenes showing city life, especially a collection of beer glasses, to give a context for his reasons to escape to the beach for about two months.

Much of the pleasure in watching this holiday is the foraging and cooking he undertakes, but the deeper character development is told with symbols like the flashy jacket he takes off and doesn’t put on again.

In Thornton’s productions the Australian landscape becomes a leading character and The Beach will have you wanting to find your own isolated beachside shack, although this one was apparently purpose-built.

9/10 

World Wetlands Day

Great pic shared by the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists on World Wetlands Day, showing my Fivebough banner at the Swamp 

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower review

From the opening scene we learn the central character, Charlie (Logan Lerman), has been working through a personal issue as he writes a letter to an anonymous friend

Then he’s beginning high school and struggling to fit in, before he befriends a couple of older students and soon has a social life that involves partying with their cohort.

A memorable scene is when he first meets Sam (Emma Watson) and the camera takes Charlie’s perspective to see her face lit with a halo from the nightlights at a football game.

It’s soon clear that he is attracted to her, although part of that interest seems to stem from the kindness and compassion she offers after learning Charlie’s lost a close friend.

While this film is described as a coming of age story, it’s interesting that threshold is not crossed through the loss of virginity. 

The key plot development sees characters develop a sense of maturity through recognising the impact of trauma.

However, the film isn’t as heavy as this theme might suggest and is remarkably restrained in the way it handles the material.

Director Stephen Chbosky developed the screenplay from his own novel and the film maintains a quick pace that uses a variety of music to express character and mood, both within scenes and accompanying them.

The soundtrack is excellent and enhanced by Michael Brooks’ understated score.

I’ve watched this a couple of times now and found a lot to admire in the use of camera angles and flashback scenes to convey the internal world of the characters.

Watson’s acting carries a lot of the film, as she is required to cover a range of emotions, while accompanied by an energetic performance by Ezra Miller as her stepbrother.

There were many points where I thought I could guess the direction of the film only to be wrong, and I really enjoyed being surprised.

9/10

Ceci n'est pas une hot dog

For some reason I wanted a picture of Freud holding a hot dog

Bamay review

Bamay is a "slow TV" program currently streaming on SBS On Demand that reveals a new perspective on some of the local landscape

The visuals are mostly drone footage of the natural environment, accompanied by occasional text detailing features.

Slow television earns the name for the long duration and sluggish pace of the programs, which might include showing a train journey from start to finish.

Bamay shows stretches of waterways and includes the Murrumbidgee River as well as tributaries such as Yanco Creek and dams Burrinjuck and Blowering.

There is a short introduction by Wiradjuri man Peter Ingram, who shares some of his knowledge of the Murray Darling Basin waterways as links between communities and describes them as veins for the Australian continent.

Then, from what I've seen so far, the presentation moves between different streams with laidback music and snippets of information including First Nations and other roles for these landmarks.

The perspective is one that's only occasionally glimpsed from an airplane.

Aside from the brown water bursting the banks in places, the plants look surprisingly and refreshingly green.

It's not clear what the intent of the program's producers are but I came to the conclusion that Bamay offers a contemporary take on First Nations art.

Many Australian Aboriginal artworks present a map-like view of the landscape and often reference culturally significant sites.

My impression is that Bamay invites viewers to take a fresh look at our common wealth and the textual information presents both European and First Nations details – and that combination is the sort of narrative Australia needs right now.

Get Lucky's

My profile of author Andrew Pippos was published by The Canberra Times

While it's the third time I've had a byline in their pages, it's the first time in around 20 years!

Andrew's book Lucky's is a great read.

Banner at Fivebough

Leeton Shire Council have installed the banner that I designed as part of the Fivebough At The Heart Of Leeton project 

Photo from the Leeton Shire page on Facebook.

Booksmart review

Booksmart (2019) is a teen comedy that begins with a familiar setting and then gently pushes against expectations

The two lead American characters are friends who, facing graduation, realise they’ve sacrificed high school romance in the pursuit of grades and a place at college. 

If the film was made a decade earlier someone might say “YOLO,” but it’s way more contemporary.

That the characters are named Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) is the first step away from the usual male perspective, then Amy’s interest in same-sex romance is another difference to so many teen comedies.

Early on there’s a scene where Molly is seated in a toilet cubicle and overhears fellow students insulting her. It’s a scene that’s been done elsewhere, yet the first time I’ve seen it delivered in a unisex toilet.

Given the current debates about gender fluidity in Australian high schools, this film recognises the current generation are more adept at discussing sexuality than their parents.

Before the end of the film there’s an inferred romantic relationship between a teacher and a student, as well as some drug use, yet Booksmart doesn't make a moral judgment.

Despite the gross-out-style humour and sexual gags, the film has a sweet sentiment as the characters realise how mistaken they have been in their malicious gossiping about fellow students.

Olivia Wilde’s debut shows remarkable strengths in her direction, particularly the pace and a diverse supporting cast of authentic characters. She also includes good visual jokes in onscreen details.

8/10 

Baking beer bread


Bread is the carbohydrate of my people
 

While cereal-based loaf recipes date back to around 10,000 BC, around 2000 years ago Pliny the Elder reported that Gauls and Iberians used the foam from beer to produce "a lighter kind of bread than other peoples.”

My recent baking has been an adventure with beer as I’ve tried using various drinks to constitute loaves.

The beer flavour is subtle and I found that a Guinness-style stout added a richness that enhanced the bread, while a soft drink created a thick glossy crust.

A simple loaf made with a can of Coke, a teaspoon of salt and three cups of self-raising flour produced a crunchy damper-like bread that tasted great with butter.

The most popular results have gone for a sweeter bread that included three tablespoons of brown sugar (or treacle) and a cup of cut-up dried dates, as well as a teaspoon of dried ginger and half teaspoons of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Experiments continue with a savoury cumin flavour, as well as another loaf spiced with a teaspoon of Caraway seeds (shown with pumpkin seeds added to roast outside).

Next I want to try a loaf from flour, salt, sparkling tonic water and a teaspoon of oregano. 

Destroyer review

As it neared the ending, I had a thought that 'Destroyer' (2019) was a kind of remake of 'Bad Lieutenant' (1992)

It’s not that simple and not quite as harrowing, but Nicole Kidman rivals Harvey Keitel in her performance as a bad cop. 

As Detective Erin Bell she shows occupational hazards, including alcoholism and distant family and corruption.

Part of the appeal of watching this film was the frumpy twist on the usual icy Hitchcock-blonde-type role Kidman might normally inhabit. Here that aloofness is like a wounded animal.

Another part is Karyn Kusama’s direction, which draws on a long tradition of noir-style LA police thrillers.

When I read Kusama had a mentor in John Sayles*, I better understood the seamless way her films can shift from past to present (particularly 'The Invitation' (2015)). 

The uncertainty of whether a scene is past or present is part of the storytelling in 'Destroyer' and, like many detective movies, the audience follows the lead character in attempting to get to the centre of a mystery.

In this case the detective is bleary-eyed and trying to piece together fragments from between gaps in memories, like 'Memento' (2000).

The result is somewhat disorienting but the strength of Kidman’s character kept my interest and the sense of how stresses hollow-out a stone made her performance memorable. 

8/10

* Sayles’ film 'Lone Star' (1996) has a wonderful style that uses pans between scenes to underscore the relationships between characters and their histories.

The Merger review

'The Merger' is a local film that's now finding a new audience on Netflix and I regret not seeing it with an audience and sharing their recognition of the Riverina

The plot follows interpersonal politics of a small-town football club as they resolve grief and regret, as well as avoid losing their identity.

Their season is saved by recruiting new players from the migrant community, after recognising their diverse skills and desire to be part of the town.

Working with a predictable collection of characters, this film is a nuanced representation of masculinity as the plot follows a series of emotional arcs framed by sporting scenes.

'The Merger' is really creative in showing character development and kinda conflicts with memory of a news story from that region, where a team was taken to court for urinating on the main street of a neighbouring town.

It was also disorienting that Ganmain was often filmed from the opposite side of the train tracks, so there was an element of going into a 'looking glass' and seeing a reversed image of local landmarks.

I realise now the crux of the film is inverting local binaries by comparing experiences of personal loss. This film has an incredible heart, as well as mild and good-natured humour.

9/10