In this month’s episode Carla and Phil discuss the smaller blockbuster Melbourne Winter Masterpieces on at ACMI from the Tate Modern – Light. And then we head off and the crack of dawn for sauce day at The Malthouse theatre for the stage adaptation of much-loved teen novel Looking for Alibrandi. In intermission the gang chat favourite winter drinks, Virginia Woolf’s diaries and Hannah Kent’s delightfully queer ghost story, Devotion. And perhaps a little too late in Coming Soon our picks for Melbourne Writers festival and MIFF. Bon appetite and tell your friends!
- Produced and recorded by Carla Donnelly and Philip Thiel
- Theme composition Mark Barrage
- Sound editing by Shackwest
Carla: Hello and welcome to Across the Aisle, your monthly cultural dispatch. I’m your host for today, Carla Donnelly and we are back in our usual cadence and very excited to be consuming art in this highly disciplined way. Today we are discussing the smaller blockbuster Melbourne Winter masterpiece on at ACMI from the Tate Modern, Light. And then we are heading off for Sauce Day at the Malthouse Theatre for the stage adaptation of much loved teen novel Looking for Alibrandi. Speaking of much loved, my dear co-host Phillip Thiel. How are.
Phil: You? Hi, nice to see you after so few weeks.
Carla: This is what it used to be like.
Phil: Remember? Delightful. Bring it on.
Carla: Well, we have reverted quite quickly to our old hyperlocal content ways. However, I’m sure we can transport you to these experiences. Or perhaps you may have seen Light when it was on at the Tate Modern. Additionally, if you’re in Sydney you can book a ticket to Looking for Alibrandi now at Belvoir Street Theatre. Phil, would you please introduce Light.
Phil: Happily, and just to pivot from your last comment? ACMI has a wonderful website linked to this exhibition and have curated a selection of films that have a special interest in light that you can view on their website, ACMI Play. So, there’s always stuff like that these days. If you click around a museum or cultural institutions website, there’s often deep content. And for example, the classic masculine canoeing film Deliverance is one of the films selected.
Carla: (laughs) That’s exactly how I would describe that movie.
Phil: Thrilling, all because, for example, they filmed the night time scenes during the day and did special light camera tricks to create the illusion of night time cliff scaling. In any case, as I was on the way to ACMI to see this exhibition, I experienced two suns. I was walking along Exhibition Street, and it was a lovely winter, sunny afternoon, and the sun was also reflected off a giant glass skyscraper, beaming down from another direction. And I kind of got this amazing headache and sense of four dimensionality, which ended up being the perfect prelude to this exhibition called Light, and reading from the website of ACMI, it is curated by Tate in the UK and drawn from their prestigious collection, darling. Light, works From Tate’s collection celebrates ground-breaking moments from over 200 years of art history and the artists who harnessed this elemental force through painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, installation and the moving image. So, you can already hear the rhetoric of Melbourne Winter Masterpieces registered trademark, which sucks me in every year. I can’t complain. It’s working as a marketing strategy for me, and I live here. I hope that it’s bringing people to Melbourne and that it’s cultivating a kind of tourism that is associated with looking at stuff. But it’s Picasso from fabulous French museums like the Picasso Museum and the Pompidou Centre, and it’s light from the Tate in London. So, it’s an extremely Eurocentric year, even by the standards of Winter Masterpieces.
Phil: And I have seen both of the masterpieces, exhibitions, Picasso being enormous and Light being quite a chamber work really, even compared to what appears to have been presented in England. This is a select series of works arranged around a series of concepts like spiritual light, scientific light, sublime light and interior light. And overall, I enjoyed the fact that this was a relatively contained experience that invited you to spend the requisite amount of time with these light works, climaxing, of course, with James Turrell, which is in this case, a work of pure simplicity and glowing stillness that ends the exhibition. And by that stage, I felt that I had really been trained to slow down, develop a kind of stillness and attentiveness in that basement style gallery of ACMI that is so subterranean and opposite of Light and really rewards these art pieces that are often focused on projection and subtle distinctions and gradations in light. In terms of the work that moved me the most, it was Tacita Dean’s film Disappearance at Sea, which was a series of extended takes on a lighthouse. Views from the lighthouse. Views of the light itself slowly rotating and projected in this beautiful room with an old style film projector whirring away to the sound of the seagulls and the waves. So, look, it was not a life changing experience, but it was a lovely one.
Carla: Did you see the light?(giggles)
Phil: (laughs) I had an enlightening experience. Carla, what about you?
Carla: Oh, gosh. There’s so much to talk about here because, you know, I feel like I’ve just woken up out of a coma and I’m rediscovering a world that has very much moved on without me. So ACMI itself has undergone a very large renovation during COVID, not because of COVID. It was just sort of timed as such. And again, this whole like amnesia, amnesia kind of thing, where it’s like it’s gone back to the way ACMI used to be when it first opened. So, it’s like the entrance is at the bottom again. The gift shop is at the bottom again. It’s really wild. And they’ve done like a full refurbishment of their permanent exhibition, which is promoted as complementary or in concert with this exhibition. Look, I have so many mixed feelings about this. Like on the one hand, it really surprised me, like how much of a mental catalogue I have of the permanent collections of most art galleries in this country, because I’d never seen any of these works, and I was quite affronted by that. I’m not affronted, but I was just like, wow, so many like classical paintings and stuff like that that I’ve never seen before. And it really took a lot of time for me to digest each work, but I also put aside 2 hours for it, and I was done in half an hour.
Carla: It’s very small. It’s at least 70 works. The British catalogue that I have or the catalogue here that’s just got a little foreword has over 100 pieces which, you know, you can understand that a lot can’t travel and be too expensive in terms of insurance and whatnot, but it did feel quite slight. But I did really love those separations of light that you talked about because like I’m very motion sensitive, there was a few of them that actually made me want to throw up, so I had to kind of avoid those a lot of the sort of movement ones, but that would be sort of what I would project as a light exhibition. So, thank God it wasn’t all that. And I loved like the different splice things of the, the concept of it. And then when you think about it, you think like Caravaggio. So, I’m glad it sort of wasn’t that. And I appreciated these European the really European tinge just because I hadn’t seen this work before. But it was very British, as you would imagine, or European. And an absolutely appalling lack of female artists like I counted that there’s nine female artists out of 47 presented artists. It’s like, we’re not even talking about Renaissance works or anything. We’re talking about a period of art and art form that is well represented with women. I just was really disgusted by that. But I will talk about the one of the works. I’ll talk about two works that I really like. John Martin. The destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Phil: All the volcanoes.
Carla: Can you believe that? Painting?
Carla: I was just in tears standing in front of it. And it was again, what we talk about here all the time of. The art being a conversation through the ages, it makes times circular to me. You know, like it takes me to this really freaky place and that painting, apart from the skill of that painting and the beauty of it. It just made me think of the bushfires and its content is about nature as a force and this kind of juxtaposition of the Enlightenment, which is an awakening outside of religiosity or God thinking towards science, but there’s still this reverence for the natural world as a being of its own. What did you think of that painting?
Phil: Oh, completely sublime. And I was moving so slowly in those early rooms just after the Turner paintings, Who I am dork-ily moved by every time I encounter them, and such a performance from Tate to just send off a few Turners to Australia, you know, throw the crumbs to the colonies and they’ll sort of lap them up. And I dutifully did so. But that room, with its immense fire themed and volcano themed material, it was called Sublime Light. That room, for a reason was completely overwhelming and quite unlike that we see at Australian collections. I agree with you. Yeah.
Carla: Yeah. And just the size and scale of that painting, I implore everybody just to go to see this painting. It’s like and then when we think about, you know, because that’s so interesting, it’s like when you think like it’s like, oh, there was like quite a few paintings. It was like water, light on water or like daybreak or some poplars. Yeah, you know, but it’s like, yeah, what, what were the sources? What are sources of light. So, I found that cut through very fascinating. And it’s like, yeah, that occlusion of the sun, the light can be entirely red. You know, I was just absolutely mind blown by that painting. And then Yayoi, Yayoi Kusama, The Passing Winter that, The box.
Phil: The box that you looked through, the circles into.
Carla: Yeah. Just losing yourself.
Phil: I’m glad that you had a close look at that. I was a bit scared.
Phil: It was. It was a sort of social environment by that point, and I feared having my face too close and too visible.
Carla: Oh, and there was a, an attendant standing right there as well. I was like.
Phil: God, I mean, come on, ACMI maybe don’t have your verbose attendants talking about the fact that James Turrell was a pilot to everyone who steps into the serenity of a Turrell light piece. I mean, come on. Maybe don’t have volunteers or staff members discussing their pay rates on the margins of this still reflective exhibition experience. I mean, that’s just an aside. The thing that I’m really reflecting on as you speak is that the Tate Gallery, specifically Tate Modern in London, is specifically for English works. And this exhibition was so silenced about the fact that this was a really limited view of global art and reinscribed in a way that problem that we have in Australia of historically seeing England as where we come from or where we used to be.
Carla: Where art comes from.
Phil: That’s right. And without labelling itself as English in a really conscious, visible way, it presented itself as universal as England has so often and so problematically done in Australia in the past, along with the noun “masterpieces”, that becomes questionable.
Carla: And that’s exactly what I was thinking about so much on the train on the way here. And you know, like I remember the first time I went to the Asia Triennial at GOMA, it must have been like 13 or 14 years ago. And how like I just became completely unstuck that all my art education had always been white and Western and that there was vernaculars and experiences that I had never seen before. It was like I’d gone and seen a movie for the first time.
Carla: And so, this was the opposite of that, where it was like all the same vernacular but works, I hadn’t experienced before. And I was just like, Oh wow. It’s like, I’m speaking this language. I can hear everything that you’re saying here. Yeah, you know, but it just made it so much more jarring, you know, that this is how we collect, you know?
Phil: Absolutely. And look, I’m giving Melbourne Winter Masters masterpieces one more year to give us something truly global. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back a bit under this umbrella. Like what will you bring to Melbourne? NGV? That is not so Eurocentric and part of the story that everybody already reveres.
Carla: Yeah. What will you deem, what will you dare to deem a masterpiece that’s not white.
Carla: Curated through a white Eurocentric lens.
Phil: And otherwise just ditch the noun? There are better.
Carla: Words. Yes.
Phil: At least they called this exhibition just “Works from Tate’s collection” (laughs). Honest marketing. Anyway, I’m glad we went downstairs. I’m glad that ACMI is back. Long may it reign. It’s a quirky little institution, so unsure of itself on the one hand, and so sort of hipster and confident on the other. I’ve got a real fondness for.
Carla: Oh, I love it.
Phil: You know, I’m a proud member of ACMI. I love seeing films there. I never know what’s on. Nobody ever knows what’s on at ACMI. It’s such a mysterious place.
Carla: So, you talking about the website – I poured through that website to get information for the show and everything. I had no idea about the films that are available there, so I’m going to go check them out now.
Phil: Oh, let us have a little pause.
Carla: Drinking time?
Phil: Yeah. What is your winter beverage of choice? Speaking of winter masterpieces, Carla.
Carla: You know, I, I, I’m trying to sort of branch outside of myself. I don’t really drink a lot of alcohol, but I was into Tasmania recently and I had quite a lot of mulled cider, which was nice. It sounds disgusting but it’s actually good.
Phil: It sounds Tasmanian and I and I fully I’m into that brand.
Carla: What is something that you’ve been obsessed with recently?
Phil: Oh, great question. Do you want the cultural or the consumerist answer.
Carla: Whatever you want to say.
Carla: Whatever comes straight to mind.
Phil: Well, culturally, I have been obsessed by the diaries of Virginia Woolf. Oh, wow. Your comment about ACMI having a kind of amnesia or us collectively going back to our roots has been reflected in my reading recently. I’m returning to favourites. I reread Moby Dick, humblebrag. You know, I’m back with Virginia Woolf, not with the novels, but with the diaries that are so revelatory and so human and a great records of reading. This was the big surprise for me. So, Woolf, as a critic, was often required to read works and to translate things and to write for The Times and to give her perspective on texts. And for that reason, she habitually had, as part of her daily life, a kind of practiced diligent reading, and to read the journals and take that journey of reading with her is thrilling, as of course, is the experience of her just not casually, but developing masterpieces like Mrs. Dalloway. As you travel with her, as she’s introduced for the first time to Vita Sackville-West, for example, and, you know, the dramatic irony that you have as a reader is just so thrilling to, you know, you sort of know a little more than Virginia does about what’s going to happen next. Oh, but the model of marriage and open marriage and life in the country and life in the city and what it means to have bouts of depression, all of these classic elements of Woolf and her circle, which were incidentally explored at the queer exhibition that we discussed. Yeah.
Phil: Last time around, in this essay about the Bloomsbury group in the catalogue of Queer, which I had a sneaky read of at the exhibition, and maybe that’s part of what has sent me back to Wolfe. But yeah, I’m enjoying a cosy little diary reading winter.
Carla: That’s really interesting. And the reason why I brought it up was so I could essentially phish you because I have also returned to reading. It took me like six years to do my degree, and during that time I could only read non-fiction books when I had time off. So, I’ve read my first fiction book in seven years.
Phil: Welcome back.
Carla: Thank you. And it was devotion by Hannah Kent.
Carla: And I have been thinking about you the whole time. And, you know, I was thinking about doing it on the show, but I’m not I don’t feel really qualified or up to doing a book on the show yet. But let’s just do a little potted. What did you think of it?
Phil: Oh, my goodness. These are obviously my people times two.
Carla: Well, you’re descendent.
Phil: From these.
Carla: German Protestants.
Phil: These Adelaide Hills weirdos who thought they were too good for Europe. Right. I mean, the culture of this ethnic group in Australia is so niche and so familiar to me that it was thrilling to get Hannah Kent’s take on that and to go back into the language and the hymns and the piousness and the righteousness, and then to add this amazing love story between girls and women. Yeah, which is what I meant by the times two. Like, I’m a queer post Lutheran Australian. And so, this was an amazing gift for me to encounter. It has a wonderfully supernatural quality. I didn’t need all of the boat’s voyaging content.
Carla: It was pretty intense. Yeah, but I guess it took up so much of like.
Phil: Yeah, historical fiction. Exactly. Yeah. You know, she. She knows how to tell a story authentically. Yes. How did you find it?
Carla: I it’s really interesting because I just thought that my brain was broken, like it just could not read fiction anymore. And I just, like, drank it like I was dying from thirst. Like, she just has such an incredible turn of phrase and, you know, not overly kind of, you know, like writers who are, like, so meticulous like that can sometimes be just, like, almost alienating because it’s like, almost becomes its own language, but it’s so lush and inviting. And, you know, I would just read one or two chapters at a time. It still took me a long time to read it just because I’m a slow reader. But I just look, it’s a ghost. It’s a queer ghost story about Lutherans who are fleeing religious persecution to come and settle in Australia. It’s got encounters with Indigenous people. It’s all over the place. But I, I loved it.
Phil: Yeah. The forest content, the childhood forest experience as early on back in the home country.
Phil: Good memories of that text. Have you read, uh, Burial Rites?
Carla: Yeah, that’s incredible.
Phil: Yeah, because I was going to say, if you liked this, you might love that. Yeah.
Carla: No, I’ve read all three of her books.
Carla: In succession.
Phil: So, I’m glad you’re back in the realm of fiction.
Carla: So, I figured out how to get an e-book from the library on my e-reader.
Phil: That’s thrilling.
Carla: So, I also would recommend that everyone definitely.
Phil: Oh, I mean, are we allowed to say that we’re recording this in a local library, you know, and that we love ratepayers and all that they provide us? Yeah, I’m thrilled. Let’s keep talking about books.
Carla: Yes. Okay. Sounds good. But I think we actually have to go to the theatre for the first time in three years on the show. So, let’s go.
Carla: Okay. So, this was my pick and it’s been interesting, we’ve discussed recently like what I’ve been sort of having, observing what I have FOMO about and Alibrandi was something that I definitely wanted to check out. So, this is from the blurb, which I think is important. “Josie” – Well, it’s for me because I don’t know nothing about this this story still, “Josie Alibrandi is in her final year of high school whip-smart and aspirational. She’s a third generation Italian teenager and scholarship kid with the shadow of a family curse and a penchant for rule breaking. Iconic novel and cult movie, Looking for Alibrandi is the honest and empowered portrait of 1990s Mediterranean culture that spoke for the first time about systemic racism in Australia, from a migrant perspective”, which just seems wild to me, “It defined a generation and to this day resonates with those caught in the stranglehold of identity and othering in this country”. Which kind of sounds strange because, you know. Italians are now. Really European white people, you know. But I’m Maltese. I grew up in the eighties in Australia in a very white suburb. And I definitely felt my otherness. So, what is your history with this Phil? Because it’s so bizarre for me to say this, but I’ve never read it. I’ve never seen the movie. I knew nothing about it before I went to the play and everybody my age was taught it at school. I don’t know whether I just wag school the whole time that we did it, but have you taught it because you teach?
Phil: So, it’s fallen out of the way a high school canon a little bit, just because that space has become so crowded. But it was one of those founding texts, I would say, of Australian young adult fiction that made a space for bookish kids to have an experience of coolness. You know, if you had read Looking for Alibrandi, you had a kind of insider knowledge and pleasure that was shared with others who had also read the book. And so, it developed a kind of outsider cult status, I would say. Then the film was a hit and quite widely screened and shown, and I actually studied that text as a university student looking at Australian cinema because it was a revealing text about a kind of niche subgenre I guess, of Australiana, which is the migrant story told in a way for everyone. So yeah, Looking for Alibrandi is a minor classic and has a huge name recognition, even for those who haven’t read it. It sors of infiltrated the culture, hasn’t it?
Carla: Yeah. And it’s interesting because the Malthouse have done quite a lot of these Australian adaptations over the years and this was the first one that really caught my eye, like the first one that I felt like I could relate to, even though I don’t really know the content. But it centralizes a young Italian woman. I thought it could just be a bit of fun as well. So, we went I went to opening night. When did you go?
Phil: I went to a matinee about halfway through the season.
Carla: Okay. So opening night was pretty rocky. Like the whole cast had gotten Covid progressively and they hadn’t been able to have a rehearsal together at all.
Carla: Until opening night thing. It was like intense. So, it did feel quite scattershot to me. Like some of the characters felt like they were in a different play. So, I don’t know whether that cohered more as the time went by. But yeah, Josie Alibrandi’s story of all the normal teenage things of liking boys and having identity crises and being a bit of an outsider was very relatable to me. The people in the audience were going crazy for it. I was obviously quite well loved, I think Chanella Macri as Josie Alibrandi was just an absolute powerhouse performance, completely inspired.
Carla: Such a funny comedic performer and very subtle. Mm hmm. Absolutely. Had the crowd in the palm of your hand, you talk a little bit about it because my thoughts are a bit jumbled.
Phil: Yeah, well, to start with Chanella, like she has such a presence and such a connection to the audience that she can’t help herself from obliterating the fourth wall. You know, she was cast so strategically and performed so humanely that I feel that everyone was in sync with her and adopting her perspective even more than usual. So it was a trip down memory lane in more ways than one, because we got to experience the doubt, the frustration, the botched attempts to please our own Mums, the confusion about the passions of parents and the stupidity of adults, and the specific sort of problems of being a gifted scholarship child and therefore plunged into this context where you don’t really understand the class distinctions and try to impress by being a hard worker. There’s so much for me to relate to, even though I’m not in an ethnic minority. There was this particular centrality of the young person that I thought was fabulously done. The actor who actually most impressed me. It was Lucia Mastrantone, who played Christina the mother.
Phil: I really felt that the way that Stephen Nicolazzo was directing this production also had this secondary centre from that woman’s perspective, trying to hold together the generations and the stories. Then her own mother, who’s kind of losing the plot and is endlessly demanding, who’s got her own secrets, the kid who she loves and has cared for, but is necessarily entering this period of risk taking and experimentation. I thought it was a beautiful depiction of sort of fraught maternity in those later years of being at home with your kid.
Phil: And the other thing that was exciting was that it was a play about. Women lit beautifully, as always, by Katie Sfetkidis. And to see these real doyenne style performers who I’ve seen in numerous productions, especially directed by Steven, was just a treat, you know, aesthetically. And I take your point that there was a bit of roughness in a sense that no two scenes necessarily glued together in anything like a seamless experience. And the boxes of tomatoes never quite made sense of themselves, but there were just so many individual moments of pleasure for me as an audience member, and it takes me back to our study of the film Looking for Alibrandi, where we kind of critiqued the fact that things were really fraught and complex in the story, and then they all just dance at the end and sort of throw tomatoes around the room and hope for the best. And that was seen as a really Australian move like multiculturalism. Oh, just have a boogie.
Phil: But the camp aesthetic of some elements of this production matched that and carried the day in the end for me.
Carla: Right. I very much I felt very moved by this because and I can’t speak to how Vidya Rajan has adapted it, but as like it’s very much my experience, like I grew up as in an all-female household with a single mother, this was very much like The End of Men for me. I keep thinking about that book, The End of Man, because this is a, this is this is how I have experienced women most of my life. It’s like life is where women are and life is produced where women are and men just flit in and out of the periphery, usually creating trouble, usually creating problems, and never really helping.
Phil: Well and always being needy.
Carla: Yes, exactly. So, to me, it was the first time I’d actually really seen that articulated in the theatre in such a succinct way. And I agree. Like, I would love to see the play about Christina.
Carla: You know, like I think that would be incredible, like as a full on drama. But yeah, I really appreciate it. It was very heavy content, and I appreciated Stephen Nicolazzo way that he is, you know, brought his signature campness in there, probably a little bit dialled down, made it quite funny and a very sweet, but it just made it all the more tender for me. I felt very sad and elated for all of these women by the end, you know?
Phil: Absolutely. And the revelations in the second act about the grandmother’s secrets and her longing, the devastating monologue delivered, you know, devastatingly by Jennifer Vuletic about how she was essentially raped repeatedly within her own marriage, had a husband who knew that the child was not his and punished her relentlessly throughout her life. You know, those narratives of the real experience of women under the patriarchy at large and also within the domestic family, was extremely impactful. Like this is this is our society. This is the reality for people in it.
Carla: That’s right.
Phil: And this was storytelling at its most humane, because we know that that’s what happens to women, and we know women to whom it happens. And this was a kind of gathering together, I guess. Not to be too twee, but the play is also about gathering, to make soup and to make sauce and to mix things up and to connect within other types of families. And so, yeah, it took on that element of making space for us to recall the women in our own lives and to experience a moment of, you know, compassion and reflection in the theatre. So, I found it quite cathartic as an experience. For that reason, I didn’t laugh that much. I didn’t by the sort of clowning school kid performances. I can take all of that kind of nostalgia for schools because I work in one. Yeah, but yeah, those stories about adult women really, really hit the spot.
Carla: Yeah. And, you know, there was so much like visual language and imagery that really brought all this together in a way that I thought was really interesting, you know, like, you know, talking about “the curse”, which is really what she thinks is what Jose is now under a generational curse because the grandmother had an affair. She, you know, she had sex for love and produced a baby. But really, also the curse is another name for your period, you know? So, it’s like women are cursed from birth and then you’ve got the red of the tomatoes, the blood, the lifeblood of the tomatoes. You know, tomatoes are picked and sourced right at the end of the second season of summer, you know, and it’s the lifeblood of Italian food. It just that kind of visual language really brought it together for me and it made it very nostalgic for me. I agree with you. Like, look, the main stage at the Malthouse is just a practically impossible space to fill, to have an intimate, dramatic play in. Yeah, I think this would be beautiful at Belvoir. And if you are in Sydney, I would highly recommend that you go and see it. I think it will bring that containment. Bring that intimacy to this.
Phil: Why does the Malthouse hate walls so much?
Carla: Oh, just love – it’s such an enormous space. I mean, I’m sure it works for some things, but. Yeah, and just, you know, there was just beautiful, little funny Australiana moments in there, like Savage Garden. Savage got to know it was.
Phil: Sorento Moon?
Carla: Sorrento Moon – Tina Arena and oh, what was the other song?
Phil: Well, it finishes with Tinta Luna. Amazing, great soundtrack.
Carla: Yeah, no, I this really spoke to me, and I hope that I can see it. In another in another form sometime again soon. It. It really spoke about women’s experience in a way that I hadn’t I haven’t seen in Australian theatre for a very long time, especially by a male director, I mean Vidja Rajan of course did the adaptation but yeah it, it, it speaks to something different happening to me. I’m not sure.
Phil: Yeah. And if not this story, stories like it may more way a fiction be written and read. Yes, what a great point. To be produced and presented by diverse people with diverse bodies like the more we take works like looking for our brand in the novel as classics. Yes, the more we can really start again or keep evolving. No more frickin Cloud Street.
Carla: Yeah. Oh, okay. No. Wonderful. Thank you so much for coming.
Carla: Coming soon. Phil. Hmm. What is. What is going to take up your August?
Phil: Okay, so festival season is upon us.
Carla: I know. Look out.
Phil: We have MIFF IRL, that’s number 70. I mean.
Phil: A classic. I got my share pass.
Carla: What’s that?
Phil: It’s a pass that you can share with people, but I used all of them for myself. Thanks MIFF – 12 films for quite a reasonable price because the idea is that you take, you know, four people three times or three people four times or any combination of the above. So, I went with one person 12 times.
Carla: Okay, that’s good. That’s a great new…
Phil: For those rare MIFF filmgoers who actually have friends. I’m sure that’s going to be delightful (laughs).
Carla: Oh, you can organise the other film loving friends to go to the same session that you’re going.
Phil: Correct. I mean, I live with another film lover who’s going to 12 films, and we cross over for one of them.
Carla: Okay. Yeah.
Phil: I’m just looking at my list and I’ll mention a couple that I’m going to see. One I’m saying just because it’s going to make me unconscious, which is De Humani Corporis like an apparently gross film about the human body that like takes a literal deep dive into the organs and tissues of our own flesh.
Carla: Why? Why are you going to do that? You’re such a masochist.
Phil: It’s absurd.
Carla: You love feeling uncomfortable in public.
Phil: Evidently, there’s actually quite a lot of retro Melburnians.
Carla: Yeah, I’ve noticed that.
Phil: Yeah, there’s lots of, like seventies and eighties stuff about the city and stuff that was on the ABC and stuff about buildings being destroyed here and stuff. I’m going to see Give Me Pity! Exclamation mark! Which is some kind of TV extravaganza where Bette Midler’s daughter plays the main role of a sort of singer trying to make it on the small screen. And there are others. But look, do say, hey, if you bump into either of us in the queues, it’s going to be a fun little early August.
Carla: Well, I am also going to MIFF, but I don’t think I will come in. I’m back in my hole of not wanting to catch COVID again, but there’s quite a few films on MIFF play, so there’s and they’re available to rent any time during the festival. So, I’ve got my eye on a few there. There’s a documentary about one of the people who started the Derwent River protests. There is one that I’m desperate to see, but I think it will come out to Nova like very shortly after it is finished. MIFF and that’s Fire of Love.
Phil: Oh, yeah. Julien is seeing that one.
Carla: That the volcanist couple.
Phil: That does sound amazing and seems to look amazing.
Carla: Yeah, looks incredible. The new David Cronenberg film is going to be there, but it’s going to be released immediately after MIFF, so I’ll probably see that at the Pivotonian. My local arthouse cinema in Geelong is the Pivotonian and they’ve got ten films coming out there. There’s not really much I want to see from that list, but I will just go along and see something. I’ll probably go and see the Australian shorts or something like that. So, but it is going all over regional Victoria. So, there is MIFF coming to you or close to you somewhere in Victoria.
Phil: I think that’s also the case by the way, for Melbourne Writers Festival this year. They’ve just released their sessions, they have a new director and speaking of amnesia, have gone back to a very recognisable format. You know, this is, this is Melbourne Writers Festival circa 2010 I would say, which may be maybe that’s what the audience is craving, and they’ve got it a.
Carla: Little bit of familiarity.
Phil: The theme is AMBITION in all caps, whatever. Okay. But yeah, one of the features of the festival is that it will have some touring elements. So yeah, check out that. That’s early September though. So, you’ve got a bit of time.
Phil: Anything else on your list?
Carla: I’ve just thought of watching a TV show called Rehearsal. Have you heard about this? Oh, my God. Phil, you’re going to love it, okay? It’s this guy, Nathan Fielder, who is a comedian, but. He’s the most cringe comedian. He has a show called Nathan for You, but I couldn’t watch it. I just wanted to throw up the whole time because it’s like himself putting himself in these utterly bizarre situations and him just trying to find a way out socially. It’s just. But it’s very minor. Like, it makes it sound like he’s eating spiders, but he’s not. It’s but this show is called Rehearsal, and he puts an ad out. I don’t know if each episode is the same, but the first episode he finds someone who’s got a very minor confession to make and he helps work, helps them work through it by recreating the pub on a soundstage of where he’s going to, like, confess this secret to his friend.
Phil: Oh, God.
Carla: And he gets, like, actors and like, it’s a full recreation of this pub, and they run through how he’s going to do this, a like confession, like 13 times with extras and every permutation of how this person could react. And the actor who’s playing his friend goes and like hangs out with this woman so she can get like all of her tics down.
Phil: Oh, wow.
Carla: And practice it, like tells her that she’d told her a lie just to see how she would gauge it. And so, this guy, like, gets to go through her reacting terribly, her reacting well, her reacting disinterested so that he can practice doing this confession. And then the episode ends with him actually going through with it. It is deranged.
Carla: And beautiful and sublime and. Unbelievable.
Phil: Aha. It reminds me of that thing we did at Art’s House in North Melbourne once, where they recreated an old photo of me, and I spoke to an old lady all afternoon. We did it on the show. I forget the episode number.
Carla: That’s right. I’ve got that photo of you. Yeah, that’s from when you were a kid. And then they gave you the makeup and they tried to restage it.
Phil: That was like a low budget version of the show you’ve just described. They need to.
Carla: Sure, Melbourne artists already doing everything.
Phil: Fantastic. Well, I hope people are at least rating something getting out of the house a bit, going to their local cinema. Keep us in the loop about what is on again.
Carla: Yes, please. If you want us to look at what you’re doing, send us some information. And that is that for this month’s episode for July 2022. Thank you for listening. As we have relaunched our wee darling, if you could please tell your friends and promote us across your socials, we would be very grateful. Our handles for Twitter and Instagram are @acrossaisle. If you would like to contact us, our email is firstname.lastname@example.org Or you can just reach us on our socials as well.
Carla: Across the Aisle is recorded in Naarm on the stolen lands of the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation. Sovereignty has never been ceded. We pay our respects to their elders and are so grateful for their custodianship of the land, waterways and skies we live on. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.