The (Un)official Ethan Hawke Film Festival.

Last week I flopped on the couch looking for something to “decent to watch” on Netflix.  I settled on  Juliet, Naked, a rather clever 2018 comedy starring Ethan Hawke and Rose Byrne.  It was light and funny with an interesting premise and I  thoroughly enjoyed it. Ethan plays an old(ish), craggy, has-been rock star. His clothes are as messy as his life and his character has real depth.

I would NEVER describe myself as a movie buff and I can get halfway through a movie before exclaiming “oh yeah, I’ve seen this before”. My memories of Ethan Hawke movies are patchy and I couldn’t remember seeing Ethan in anything else. A quick Wikipedia search showed he has an impressive and extensive back-catalogue dating way back to 1985 reminding me of Hugh Grant’s long list of achievements. It turns out I have in fact seen at least two of his movies.

How to avoid endless scrolling

Last year, during the early stages of the Pandemic, when we were ALL locked in, I announced the (Un)official Hugh Grant Film Festival. Rather than randomly scrolling through Netflix looking for something “decent to watch”, I set myself the challenge of watching as many of Hugh’s movies as I could. The good, the bad and the ugly. The procurement of titles was in itself a challenge. I searched op shops to find DVDs, borrowed a few from the local library, borrowed some log-ins to subscription services I don’t have, in addition to the ones I had on Netflix or could rent on Apple TV. Over two months, I watched thirty of the more than fifty titles in his anthology. Pretty good I think! I have now exhausted all the movies I could find in Australia at least.

File:Ethan Hawke 66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra) 7.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
As I am not a Hollywood photographer this is not my image!
Photo Credit: nicolas genin from Paris, France

Impressive back catalogue

Ethan’s back catalogue represented a similar opportunity for a challenge and I am officially launching the (Un)official Ethan Hawke Film Festival!

After Juliet, Naked I  re-watched Dead Poet’s Society which, after 32 years remains a classic and relevant story.  Next, I devoured the critically acclaimed Before Series; (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight) a trilogy spanning 18 years both in real-time and in the plot. It traces the life of Jesse and Celine (Julie Delpy) who meet on a train in their early 20’s and follows them up nine years later and then again in another nine years in their early 40’s.  There is very little action other than long, rambling and intimate conversations between the two leads. Sounds boring, but it is fascinating and so well played. If you are going to watch the series, do it in order and resist watching the trailers. Too many spoilers!

A mixed bag of goodies

Unlike Hugh, Ethan has escaped being suffocatingly typecast and he has played a wide variety of roles. In addition to acting, both on stage and for the big and little screens, Hawke has written screenplays and several novels. Looking at his Goodreads profile he appears to have a very handy side hustle narrating audio books too. He has also made a number of documentaries.

Although nominated for plenty of awards he has won only two. A Critics’ Choice Award for the Before Series and an Independent Spirit Award for First Reformed.

So tonight it will be Gattaca, I’ve seen it a couple of times before having used it as a teaching aid when trying to get Year 10 interested in genetics and DNA codes. There is only one tiny sex scene you need to skip!

That will be five down and only eighty (80!!!!!!!)  more to go! I’ve got three months off work so it might be just the thing for my upcoming Great Southern Road Trip. It can be the (Un)official Travelling Ethan Hawke Film Festival.

If I have any energy left after that I might branch out and read his novels! 

Wish me luck!

File:Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, red carpet for the premiere of "Before  Midnight".jpg - Wikimedia Commons
With Before Series co-star, Julie Delpy. Photo Credit: Thore Siebrands

PS: Since writing this post and before publication, I have now watched Training Day, Taking Lives and Boyhood, all good! Training Day with Denzel Washington is suspenseful and violent, I watched much of it though my fingers! Denzel won the Oscar for Best Actor for this one and Ethan, while nominated for Best Supporting Actor, didn’t take home the trophy. Boyhood is another long term project and follows the same actors over 12 years. It’s almost a documentary.

PSS: Add to the list: Adopt-A-Highway! OMG such a lovely, sad, poignant story with a happy ending! Once again not much action and Ethan is in every scene. That must be hard work! Why has this guy not won an Oscar???

The Less Waste No Fuss Kitchen – Book Review

As my Year of Zero approaches it’s halfway point, I must confess that I have bought a book! Yes, a brand new one! Not even second hand! It’s a bit of a Catch 22 really. I said I was not going to buy anything new but then this book will help me with one of my other goals, which is to be more of an eco-warrior princess. The book The Less Waste No Fuss Kitchen, by Lindsay Miles was published this month by Hardie Grant. It is a common-sense, no-nonsense guide on how to cut down  or maybe even eliminate kitchen waste. (depending on how warrior-like you choose to be!)

I have been following Lindsay’s blog, Treading My Own Path, for a few months now and I found her advice there very sound and helpful, so thought the book would be a good way to help  keep me on track to achieve my “be less wasteful” goals.

Lindsay approaches the less waste issue with a huge dollop of realism. She is not into naming and shaming. She sets out her philosophy in her introduction:

“ [the] purpose [of this book] is to give you ideas and tools to make changes and feel positive about the things you can do and not guilty about the things you can’t do”.

Less Fuss No WasteThe 223-page softcover book is full of practical ideas. It is divided into five chapters. There are lovely pastel illustrations throughout and plenty of charts and tables to make things easy to understand.

Part 1 gives a recount of our modern industrial food system and why it is no longer sustainable. (If it ever was) Supermarkets are full of abundant and relatively cheap food which is available all year round. Fruits like cherries which were once only available at Christmas time are now shipped in thousands of kilometres from the Northern Hemisphere. Hardly sustainable! While there is a lot of food, our choices are limited to those species ‘selected’ for their high yields, durability and size not unfortunately for their flavour.

The next three chapters look at separate categories where the consumer can take planet-positive actions.

Part 2 looks at how to reduce or remove packaging and plastic, Part 3 introduces carbon-friendly food choices and finally, Part 4 shows how you can reduce your food waste by careful storage, and using as much of your food as possible. This incidentally will save you money as well.

The final section Part 5: Getting started in your (less waste no fuss) kitchen, gives the reader ideas on how to plan meals, how to avoid single-use items and simple recipes for things you can make yourself.

Lindsay does not suggest that you start with an all or nothing approach but rather tackle what you feel most comfortable with first. That may be as simple as remembering to take your own bags to the supermarket or buying from a bulk food store. As you master one thing you can move on to include something a little more robust like reducing your intake of animal foods or buying only plastic-free produce from the farmer’s market.

Lindsay categorises potential actions by ”fuss level” from Fuss Level + to Fuss Level +++.

For instance, if you want to concentrate on reducing plastic packaging, a Fuss + option would be to “Take a stand: pick one grocery item that only comes packaged in plastic and stop buying it altogether.” The Fuss +++ version would be to make the item, like crackers for example, from scratch.

It’s an easy, enjoyable read that I’d recommend dipping in and out of as often as you like. It’s a reference book rather than a novel. Keep it handy in your kitchen. Lindsay’s writing style is unpretentious, friendly and encouraging.

My goal is to make more from scratch and reduce the amount of food I throw out. To this end, I am planning my meals more carefully, sticking to a list and buying what I can in bulk. I’ll definitely be trying out some of Lindsay’s cracker recipes! My biggest stumbling block is reducing the amount of plastic packaging I have, even though I am making a conscious effort to reduce it. It’s everywhere! My next action will be to try a home delivered fruit and vegetable box. This should reduce my packaging a bit.

Go to Lindsay’s website to see where you can order your copy.

 

 

The (Un)official Hugh Grant Film Festival

In the Age of Corona, we have all been in front of screens a lot more. Those of us who have screens to be in front of anyway. This story is about my (un)official Hugh Grant Movie Festival.


As part of my isolation journey, I finished watching a few Netflix series, namely Sex Education and The Stranger. I started Ozark as recommended by many of my friends, but was finding it difficult to get in to mainly because it was scaring the crap outta me! It was too suspenseful when I was already experiencing some ongoing low-level anxiety as it was. Browsing Netflix’s menu, I struck upon Notting Hill. I’ve seen it before a few times. I knew it was sweet and funny, and Hugh Grant provided some eye candy.  I thought, why not, an anxiety-free zone!

As the credits were rolling, I thought poor old Hugh!  He always plays the same character. The sort of bumbling, humble, sweet fellow who always gets his girl in the end after a confession of true love following some kind of misunderstanding.  The same every time. I had a look at the font of all knowledge (Wikipedia)  and discovered that he had several film credits to his name. More than forty stretching back to 1982!  Along with movies, he has made substantial contributions to TV.

True to my form, I set an isolation goal (another one, I know!!) to watch as many of his movies as possible and see if my observation of the depths of his typecasting was correct.

Where will I source the Hugh Grant omnibus?

I searched the interwebs for ways to view his movies.

  • Many are on Netflix and Prime Video which I already subscribe to. So tick!
  • Some are on Prime/Neflix but not in Australia. Booo!
  • Some I can get from my local library on DVD, but it is closed at the moment due to the Corona Virus.  Sigh!
  • A few more are on the streaming service called Kanopy which I can get free through the library. Yeah!
  • One of my local Op Shops was open, so I ducked in there. (Only six people allowed in the shop at a time – keep your distance – sanitise before and after!) and picked up six titles for $2 each. (50% off the marked price!)
  • His very early work from the 80s is still causing some issues which I hope YouTube might solve.

Hugh Grant

The results so far?

Movie Role Source
Notting Hill (1999) Yep – typecast as William Thacker Netflix
Did you hear about the Morgans (2009) Yep – typecast as Paul Morgan Netflix
Sirens (1994) Interesting! Australian production and a bit of very soft porn. Very young Elle McPherson who gets her clothes off a lot, Sam Neil who stays dressed and Portia de Rossi who is naked for much of the time too! But yes still a bit typecast but not so much! Prime Video
The Englishman who went up a hill and came down a mountain(1995) Yep -very much so! As geologist/surveyor Reginald Anson Prime Video
Music And Lyrics (2007) Yep! Aging has been pop star finds love! Prime Video
Our Sons (1991) Made for TV. NO!! Not typecast. Plays a rather angry-with-the-world-gay guy whose partner is dying from AIDS. He plays the son of Julie Andrews and speaks with an American accent Prime Video
Mickey Blue Eyes (1999) Yes! Typecast as a would-be mobster Michael Felgate. If you recognise most of the cast it’s because many of them later appeared in the Sopranos! DVD from the Op shop
Two Weeks Notice (2002) Yep as Sandra Bullock’s English love interest – George Wade DVD from the Op shop
Paddington 2 (2017) No! He plays a baddy! An aging thespian has been! Is this another typecast genre arising as Hugh gets older? Netflix
Sense and Sensibility (1995) Well yes and no…He is not bumbling but he is humble. Given the script sticks to Jane Austen’s original story – it’s not really up to him, but he plays the love interest again, there is a misunderstanding again, and he gets his girl in the end! DVD from the Op shop
Bridget Jones Diary (2001) No. He is not bumbling or humble. He plays the Playboy cad. So while he tries to lure Bridget into a relationship, in the end, he does not get the girl. (Well not Bridget – every other girl but not her!) DVD from the Op shop
Bridget Jones – The Age of Reason (2004) No. A reprise of his character above, slightly but not totally reformed. He is still a cad and he still does not get the girl. DVD from the Op shop
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) Yes. According to Wikipedia, this is the pivotal movie that cast him into this typecast role and the start of his Hollywood career. On another note, Andie MacDowell’s character is very mono-faceted. I think if the movie was made now it would be very different. He essentially falls in love with her because she looks good. Her character and dialogue are very wooden. DVD from the Op shop
The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015) Hugh plays Waverley. An MI5 agent. Not typecast! Does not have a girl to get! Rented via Apple TV
About a Boy (2002) He’s not humble and bumbling but after a misunderstanding, he does get his girl (plus a whole network of friends). So partially stereotyped. Rented via Apple TV

That’s ALL I have watched so far.  I have copies of/ access to

  • Love Actually (again!) on Netflix/Prime
  • Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
  • Cloud Atlas from the Library when it’s open
  • The Remains of the Day – Library
  • The Lady and the Highwayman (TV) Library.
  • I can rent a couple of more titles such as The Gentleman (2019) and The Rewrite (2014), from Apple TV

Once I have finished these, the real searching will begin as all the low fruit will have been picked!

If you know where I can see them in Australia let me know. There are many more titles on the US version of Prime and Netflix, but I don’t have access to those.

(Hugh even talks bout the typecasting himself in this interview with HQ.)


Edit: 29/4/20

My original reason for starting the (unofficial) Hugh Grant Film Festival was to prevent me from aimlessly searching Netflix and Prime for something to watch in the upcoming weeks of Corona isolation. It meant I could just concentrate on one thing and reduce decision fatigue. I wrote the post over several weeks.  As of yesterday, quarantine and lockdown restrictions are beginning to be lifted in NSW.  We can now visit family. While welcomed in one respect, the tone of the low-voiced mumbling in my workplace is fearful. Is it too soon? Will there be a second wave? We can only wait and see.