Archive for November, 2014

I got to watch only two movies on the big screen, during my travels in Australia. Here are couple of my quick critiques.

Logan Lerman & Brad Pitt, in a scene from FURY (2014)

Logan Lerman & Brad Pitt, in a scene from FURY (2014)

Fury in Adelaide
On the 6th of November 2014, I got to watch Fury (2014) at the Palace Cinema in Adelaide, Australia (See my post Holidaying in South Australia).

A very unique fictional insight into the last year of the actual second World War. The audience gets to spend one long day with Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf and their crew, mostly confined into a war tank. The movie starts off by showing us the credits in an indirect, more naturalistic, manner, with the word ‘Fury’ painted on the shaft of the Tank.

Towards the final days of the war, in April 1945 (the war ended in September 1945), a new young recruit, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) joins the crew of the tank named ‘Fury’, commanded by Don Collier, a.k.a. ‘Wardaddy’ (Brad Pitt). In a blink of an eye, the inexperienced, young and innocent, Norman is thrown into the chaos of war.

The movie is very beautifully and realistically filmed, as if filmed in real-time, with a video camera planted inside a war tank. The ‘Tiger 131’ tank used in the film was a genuine ‘Tiger I’ tank, and that too the only operating one in the world. It was loaned by ‘The Bovington Tank Museum’, in the United Kingdom, for the film.

The characters may seem a bit clichéd, as we’ve seen a number of films based on WWII since the actual war itself. But this does go beyond to show various sadistic homicidal characters, who aren’t the enemy, but on the good side, the side that brought an end to the gruelling war. Americans. Even they are shown as being heartless and insensitive themselves. Contradicting to that we see a German soldier who actually saves the young American, Norman’s life, in the movie. After all they were human too and acting on orders. Without painting a Good or Bad picture directly in Black and White, we see an ambiguity of various shades of grey within the American characters, including Wardaddy. Contrasting to the almost inhumane crew, Norman’s naïvety is as fresh and clean as a bar of lime based soap for the filthy crew. The inexperienced Norman obviously doesn’t fit in.

The perfect movie sequence (as mentioned by another blogger, Righteous Cinema, with whom I agree with) is the nerve wrecking scene with the two innocent German women, and the nasty filthy crew members of ‘Fury’ harassing them. Of course, it’s implied, that one of the women gets screwed by young Norman (or rather is made love to), consensually from both parties. Most probably that idea was a necessity, more cinematically, to calm the audience in a tense movie, rather than for Norman to get laid. It’s after this implied sex, that the rest of the gang of ‘Fury’, except for Wardaddy, applaud Norman’s manhood, and degradingly treat the two women, objectifying them. A sequence where we, the audience, feels disgust towards the American soldiers, who’ve supposedly come to save the country from a brutal war, instead behaving like animals and treating innocent victims of war as their own rightful property to use and abuse as they feel like. It could also be a hint on current American soldiers based in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria (though they aren’t engaged in battle anymore). Of course this doesn’t depict every single American soldier, current or back in the day. This is just a generalisation of what any human being of any country at war is capable of. As at the same time we see a kind hearted, humanitarian, personality, in young Norman. And a man principals who doesn’t condone their animalistic behaviour towards the women, through Wardaddy.

Norman’s kindness and purity, contrasting to the rest of crew, touches one’s heart. We feel really sorry for this out of place youngster. Yet we see him turn from an innocent, unwilling to commit murder, into braver soldier, who ends up crazily shooting at the enemy war tanks. Towards the end it does feel a tad silly, when the enemy comes marching in, and Wardaddy refuses to leave his, immobilised, old tank, and the little group tries to fight off hundreds and hundreds of men of opposition. Yet it’s so brilliantly filmed that it felt as if it were based on a true story about a young mans experiences on his first day at war.

It might not seem like a perfect film, but what film is that great to perfection without a single flaw. Thus my rating is still a 10/10 for Excellence in story telling. This was my first experience of Logan Lerman on the Big Screen. Have been a fan of his, since I watched Meet Bill (2007) almost six years ago, on DVD. And have watched so many films of his on DVD. Prior to Meet Bill, I had seen quite a few films of his as child star, but I didn’t know him back them, nor did I realise all those films had the same child artiste in them.

Fury, amongst the best of 2014. Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!    

Matthew McConaughey explores the icy deserted lanscape, in the poster of INTERSTELLAR (2014)

Matthew McConaughey explores the icy deserted lanscape, in a frozen alien planet, in the poster of INTERSTELLAR (2014)

Interstellar @ Chatswood
I watched Interstellar (2014) at the Hoyts,  in Chatswood’s Westfield (Chatswood is a suburb in Sydney’s Northshore), Australia, on the 10th of November, 2014 (See my post Holidaying in Australia (NSW)).

Interstellar (2014) is as visually a spectacular viewing, as it is thoughtful and intellectually stimulating. One of the best fictitious Science-fiction films set in Space since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Christopher Nolan, a genius in filmmaking, has brought out something exceptional out here. Like it’s Kubrick predecessor, Nolan has brought out a fictional story set in space, that explores far beyond the reaches of time and space, than man could ever imagine possible. Beyond the universe of black holes, and through the wormholes, combining together special effects artistry with intellect, as previously only Kubrick had brought about. Why do I specifically keep calling it a fictitious flick set in space, ‘cause it’s not a necessity that a movie on Space exploration be just a fabrication of a directors imagination. Apollo 13 (1995) was a near excellent movie experience, set in space, and based on a true incident.

2001: A Space Odyssey was a surreal masterpiece of the science fiction genre, set in space. I specifically state ‘set in space’, for there are rare great science-fiction and surreal films like, Metropolis (1927), A Clockwork Orange (1971) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), to name a few, that are not set in space. Post 2001: A Space Odyssey, only the animated Wall-E (2008) and Gravity (2013) came up to it’s standard of being an exceptional fictitious film, set in space.

Christopher Nolan has brought out some excellently intellectual cinematic experiences, when he started out, with films like Following (1998) and Memento (2000). And the near excellent, The Prestige (2006). But when the CGI bug hit him, he seems to be serving up the masses, rather than the cerebral usage classes. I wasn’t a fan of his ‘Batman’ films, except for his second instalment, The Dark Knight (2008), which was pretty good, especially thanks to Heath Ledger’s (posthumously) Oscar winning performance as the ‘Joker’. The only other recent movie of Nolan’s, that I want to watch, and am still waiting to do so, is the psychologically driven, Inception (2010).

I don’t want to really mention the story of Interstellar here, ‘cause it’s better to just go in and experience and try to understand the film. It has some really interesting characters played by Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, David Gyasi, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley and Topher Grace. It’s a pity Chastain’s character hardly has much time to develop as Murph, especially since her character development transpires more as the younger Murph, played by little Mackenzie Foy. Same with her brother Tom, played by Timothée Chalamet (as the teenage version), and later by Casey Affleck. But Tom’s development isn’t as much of a necessity as is Murph’s. Nor is there much of relevance when it comes to characters played by Wes Bentley and Topher Grace. But the person’s whose talent seems most wasted in the film, is the negative shaded character played by Matt Damon. Nolan could have directed a lesser known personality, who can still act well of course, than waste somebody who’s capable of delivering so much more to a project.

None the less the film is an exceptional experience both visually and psychologically. British theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, would be proud. I really wonder what Stephen Hawking’s would have to say about this flick.

Definitely the best space age and futuristic film to come out in recent years. And no doubt a director’s movie. I predict an Oscar nomination coming Nolan’s way. Christopher Nolan should at least get an Oscar nomination, if not necessarily a win, for this movie.

Interstellar, the best science fiction film of 2014. Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!  

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s War Film Sense
Nuwan Sen and Science Fiction  


To and fro Australia, I got to watch a few of the latest film releases, in mid air, on the tiny little screen. Here is the run down.
InFlight FilmsBoyhood (2014)
I watched Boyhood (2014), on the 2nd/3rd of November 2014, mostly on the Emirates flight, from Colombo to Singapore, and the latter bit in the Qantas flight from Singapore to Sydney. (See my post Holidaying in South Australia)

12 years in the making, taking a big risk, film director Richard Linklater has brought out an exceptional piece of movie making in the history of cinema. America’s answer to European Art Cinema, one of the best to come out in recent years. Set within the 12 years the movie was made in, we literally see, the lead actor, Ellar Coltrane (playing Mason) grow up in front of our eyes, from ages 6 to 18; as does Lorelei Grace Linklater (real life daughter of the film director, who plays Samantha, Mason’s older sister). And the best part is their parents, played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, naturally mature within those 12 years, sans make-up, or computer graphics, to make them look older.

The premise of the film is extremely simple. The movie is a coming of age story, coinciding with the child’s own real-life coming of age, and the battle adults face, as two separated parents, bringing up their two children, to the best of their ability, as well as possible, in the 21 century United States, from 2002 till date. Though separated, both are very good parents to their children. The movie could easily be translated as ‘Parenthood’, just as much as it is ‘Boyhood’. Majority of the film  is literally filmed per year, showing us the children in each age, but in some places it skips a year.

Richard Linklater’s 12 year risk, shot in real-time, has paid off, by taking up such a simplistic storyline, and turning it into a marvellously stylistic and artistic piece of cinematic experience. One of the Best films 0f Year 2014.

Love the cast, Love the movie, Love everything about it. Such an authentic piece of realistic cinema. Pure Artistry! 10/10 for Excellence!!!!!
                                      Ö Ö Ö Ö Ö °°°°°*****Ö Ö Ö Ö Ö

Magic in the Moonlight (2014)
Watched the Woody Allen comedy, Magic in the Moonlight (2014) on the Qantas Airways flight from Sydney to Singapore, on the 14th of November 2014. (See my posts Holidaying in South Australia & Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end)

Set in the roaring 20’s, on the French Riviera, this comedy is about a fraudulent magician, a snobbish Englishman (Colin Firth), who tries to unmask yet another deceitful spiritualist (Emma Stone), in turn falling for her and her gag. It’s an enjoyable enough old school comedy, yet it starts to be too predictable and falter towards the end. Definitely not Woody Allen’s finest directorial venture, and no where near his unmatchable Art House, romantic comedies, from back in day, like Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979). But he’s still definitely got the knack for farcical story telling, yet Magic in the Moonlight is not one of them.

OK fare. 6/10 !!!       
                                             Ö Ö Ö °°°***Ö Ö Ö

The Two Faces of January (2014)
Watched The Two Faces of January (2014), on the 15th of November 2014, early morning/past 14th midnight, on the next flight, Emirates Airlines, from Singapore to Colombo. (See my post Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end)

Being a fan of Patricia Highsmith crime thrillers, I was really looking forward to watching this latest Hollywood cinematic adaptation by, Iranian born British director, Hossein Amini. My favourite Highsmith book happens to be The Talented Mr. Ripley, and I enjoyed reading Strangers on a Train as well. Added to that, I also love their film adaptations. Hitchcock’s excellent adaptation that was Strangers on a Train (1951). René Clément’s French thriller, Plein Soleil (1959/60), with Alain Delon as Mr. Ripley, based on Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) starring Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, with Matt Damon playing Mr. Ripley. And of course, though not as excellent as the previous three, the very good adaptation that was, Ripley’s Game (2002), starring an exceptional John Malkovich as Mr. Ripley.

The Two Faces of January starts off well, and is pretty well made, transporting us back to the early 1960’s Athens. The suspenseful thriller is almost Hitchcockian till the main crime takes place. Post that, it starts to waver somewhat. Being based on a Highsmith crime, the storyline is really good, but the film seems in a rush to tie up any loose ends and finish the movie as soon as possible. It doesn’t let the story develop, nor the characters. If the movie wasn’t made just in 96 minutes, and took it’s time a bit more to tell the story, Highsmith’s work could have been done justice to. There are some flicks which are unnecessarily too long, and waste a lot time on unnecessary stuff, while here it’s the exact opposite. It’s tries too quickly to bind things together, killing of the cinematic experience, into a tight, and very hurried up, 96 minutes. This is Hossein Amini second film, and first feature length work, as a director.

Good Try, by the director, with an OK/watchable outcome. 6/10 !!!                  
                                             Ö Ö Ö °°°***Ö Ö Ö  

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ Travel/Film

Sydney Suburbs and the way back

At a Shopping Mall (L-R) Loku, Mum, Me & Pam Achchi (My Great Aunt)

Coffee At a Shopping Mall
(L-R) Loku, Mum, Me & Pam Achchi (My Great Aunt)

Continuing towards the end of our holiday in Oz.
On Thursday the 13th, initially I kept it as my day, to travel into the city (Sydney), check out the Art Exhibition ‘Pop to Popism’; featuring some works of the greatest post-modernist artists ever such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Martin Sharp, Brett Whiteley et al, at the Art Gallery of NSW; and to meet some of my friends from (COFA, UNSW) University days who are still residing Down Under (including Aussies). I had it all planned out, with my busy old friends to meet at various times that day. Then came another good news, the day before, that Pam Achchi (my Great Aunt, my mother’s aunt, Loku’s mother), whose nursing home was under quarantine all this time (see my post Holidaying in Australia (NSW)), though not lifted, she was allowed to go out. So, as I really wanted to see her too, Loku (my mother’s first cousin), mum & I, visited her in Blacktown (a far suburb of Sydney). Thus I changed my plans to leave for the city after having lunch with Pam Achchi & co. But plans never really work out the way you want. We got delayed getting to the nursing home, and then lunch. Some of my friends had dropped out, due to other prior engagements. So ultimately I ditched the rest of my poor friends for my great aunt, as it was absurd going all the way from Blacktown to the city (which could take more than hour by train) and from the city to the Art Gallery, and then to the rest of the places. When I called them up, they were really disappointed. Only other option now left was for them to come to Airport the next afternoon. Anyway, at least we got to speak to each other on the phone. That was a good thing. Some thing’s better than nothing. We even spoke the next day, just as my flight was about to take off.

On the way to Blacktown, we came upon a DELHI ROAD (named after by birth city ;)  )

On the way to Blacktown, we came upon a DELHI ROAD (named after my birth city 😉 )

All the films (DVD) and a few books, I bought in Australia.

All the films (DVD’s) and three books, I bought in Australia.

Thus, after a quick lunch, in lieu of the city, ditching my peers, I went to a nearby shopping complex, with the trio of old ladies 😉 (pictured right at the top). As per my luck turned out, there was a DVD sale there. I had already bought a few DVD film’s in Adelaide, and later in Chatswood (a suburb in Sydney’s Northshore), but I went crazy here, and bought around 15 films. Altogether, by the time I reached SL, I had 26 DVD’s with me. It was a day well spent.

Dropping off Pam Achchi Mum with Pam Achchi, at the Nursing home.

Dropping off Pam Achchi
Mum with Pam Achchi, at the Nursing home.

After dropping off Pam Achchi at her nursing home, we went back to Loku’s home, and that evening Carlo (my father’s first cousin) picked us up, and we went to his place for dinner. T’was nice to see his Chinese wife, Chin Chin, after such a long time.

At Loku’s, in Castle Cove, same evening (L to R) Carlo, Mum & Loku

At Loku’s, in Castle Cove, same evening
(L to R) Carlo, Mum & Loku

At Carlo & Chin Chin’s Mum with Carlo, Chin Chin and their twin daughters.

At Carlo & Chin Chin’s
Mum with Carlo, Chin Chin and their twin daughters.

Next morning, 14th November, 2014, packing, and cleaning up, like crazy. Late morning, close to noon, Dennis (Loku’s husband) and I went for some last minute shopping at Westfield in Chatswood. I ended up buying a few more movies.

Dennis & Loku, with Mum; when they dropped us at the Sydney Kingsford Airport.

Dennis & Loku, with Mum; when they dropped us at the Sydney Kingsford Airport.

Thus came an end to our Australian tour. After a quick lunch, we headed to Sydney’s Kingsford Airport. On the Qantas flight from Sydney to Singapore, I finally watched Magic in the Moonlight (2014), a Woody Allen comedy.

In Transit At the Singapore Changi International Airport

In Transit
At the Singapore Changi International Airport

At the Singapore (Changi International) Airport, Duty Free, I just casually asked at a chocolate stall, whether they had any Neuhaus chocolates, and Voilà!!! they did. It’s been my favourite chocolate, since I tasted Neuhaus chocolates, in Belgium, in 2003, pushing down Ferrero Rocher, my favourite since my early teenage years, to second place. It’s been almost a decade, since I last tasted Neuhaus. I had to buy it. It didn’t last a week though. Anyway, on the Emirates flight from Singapore to Colombo, I watched The Two Faces of January (2014), a movie based on a Patricia Highsmith novel. I didn’t touch Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic during these two flights, and haven’t touched it since my flight from Adelaide to Sydney on the 8th of November (see my post Holidaying in South Australia). I ought to get back to reading Ben Okri. We reached Sri Lanka, on 15th early morning, at 1:40 am. My father came the next day. My sister and her husband on the 19th of November, 2014.

Thus ended our Australian tour.

Nuwan Sen n’ Travel
Nuwan Sen’s Travel Sense


Canberra & the Surroundings

Mum & I, at a look out point into the city of Canberra.

Mum & I, at a look out point into the city of Canberra.

Continuing the Holiday Post.
So on the 12th of November, 2014, Mum & I, did a day trip with Carlo (my father’s first cousin), into the Australian Capital Territory, more specifically Canberra, the capital of the Kangaroo Country. Long before, I ever went to Sydney, I had always wanted to see Canberra. Not just Canberra, in general when I go to a country, I have to visit the capital. It just a must for me. So it’s unfortunate, that when I was residing in Sydney, for two years, between 2006 and 2008, I never got a chance to do so, besides having travelled so much around the Eastern Coast of Australia. There was so much more to see and do, back then, that I had to omit the Capital of this country. Now, six and almost a half years later, since I left Oz, I finally got a chance to see the Australian capital.

At a shopping complex in Canberra

At a shopping complex in Canberra (X-Mas decorations)

As, on the 11th, my Camera fell while walking around the streets of Sydney (see my post Holidaying in Australia (NSW)); and though it did not break, the left side of the photographs, taken since, happen to blur-up; the first thing I had to do when we reached Canberra the next day, was to get a new Camera. Anyway, a new digital camera was due, as my old one is five years old, and kept getting stuck. The fact that it fell, was a sign, about time I got a new one. Unlike the earlier analogue cameras of the past, which required a film roll, and lasted a decade or so, the lifetime of more modern day digital camera’s aren’t that long. My first digital camera, Casio Exilim EX-S100 (the tiniest camera I ever owned), lasted from 2005 to 2009, till it contracted some sort of a lens disease; and the next, Sony Cyber-shot 1080, from 2009 till now. But since a rechargeable new camera has to be charged for at least 24 hours before use, I had to buy a digital Nikon Coolpix L29 Camera, that required the ordinary AA Batteries.

Mum, Carlo & I lunching @ the National Arboretum Canberra (Outskirts of the City)

Mum, Carlo & I lunching @ the National Arboretum Canberra (Outskirts of the City)

Due to the heavy traffic, we reached Canberra way past 12 noon. Thus, with new camera in hand, the first thing we needed to do, was to have some lunch. We went to the outskirts of the city, a hilly area, to the ‘National Arboretum Canberra’, a beautiful lookout point, into the capital city, and with a great dinning space with a view of the newly planted flora, minus the fauna, in the deserted hills. I had Kangaroo for lunch, the third time I tasted it.

After lunch, the first place we visited was, The Parliament House, where no parliament was in session.

Mum & I, at the main entrance to the new Parliament House.

Mum & I, at the main entrance to the new Parliament House.

It’s interesting how Canberra came to be the Capital city of Australia. The two large Ozzie cities, Sydney and Melbourne, both competed to make their city the capital of the country. Ultimately as a comprise, neither got it, and instead, the smaller city of Canberra, became the capital of nation in 1908. Canberra is a well planned city, inspired by the famed ‘Garden City Movement’ of the United Kingdom from 1898. ‘Garden City Movement’ was a method of Victorian era British urban planning that was intended to be self-contained communities, surrounded by greenbelts, with parks, farms and other vacant land with greenery, along with areas of residences and industrial locations. Due to this, Canberra, is also known as the ‘Bush Capital’.

The modern Parliament House (pictured above and below), was opened in May 1988. The unique contemporary architectural design was influenced by the Boomerang (a weapon authentic to ancient Aboriginal culture). The visit to the Parliament was really interesting. First you come into the Great Hall, in the ground floor, from which one can see the Old Parliament building as well as the Australian War Memorial right opposite, afar. In the Great Hall, there is also a beautiful tapestry, one of the largest tapestries in the world, which was based on a painting by Australian Impressionist Artist, Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd.

The Senate chamber, New Parliament House

The Senate chamber, New Parliament House

On the floor above, there are two corridors with huge portraits of famous personalities, including the Queen of England and the past Australian Prime Ministers. Then come the two meeting rooms; one House of Representatives, represented in a muted greenish tone, inspired by the colour of the eucalyptus leaves; and the next, The Senate chamber, with pinkish hue, representing the colours of the Australian outback, earthly tones. Then we went up to the Parliament’s neatly mowed green roof top.

Roof Top, New Parliament House

Roof Top, New Parliament House (The old Parliament is the white building in the background)

Post the new Parliament House, we drove past the old Parliament, and went straight to the Australian War Memorial. Neither could we do much, nor visit the military museum, as it was near closing time. But highlight of the Canberra tour for me was being able to witness the closing ceremony at the war memorial. It was peaceful simple affair, and hardly took that much time, and it was totally worth it.

'Australian War Memorial', all set for the closing ceremony PIX: Nuwan Sen

‘Australian War Memorial’, all set for the closing ceremony PIX: Nuwan Sen

Australian War Memorial, closing ceremony PIX: Nuwan Sen

‘Australian War Memorial’, closing ceremony PIX: Nuwan Sen

Sculpture of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, and his donkey

Sculpture of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, and his donkey

Pictured above is a sculpture of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, and his donkey, located outside the Australian War Memorial. During the Battle of Gallipoli, in Turkey (during World War – I), John Simpson, a combat medic, carried wounded British soldiers on this donkey from the front line to the beach, and to safety.

Post the war memorial, we drove around Canberra’s diplomatic enclave, with all the foreign Embassies/High Commissions/Consulates, and left by evening.

Leaving Canberra by six in the evening.  PIX: Nuwan Sen

Leaving Canberra by six in the evening. PIX: Nuwan Sen

On the way back to Sydney, we went to the city of Goulburn, where we had a Chinese dinner, and then drove into the night. Reached Castle Cove (Sydney’s Northshore suburb, where Mum & I were staying), quite late.

Nuwan Sen n’ Travel

Sydney & it’s Suburbs

Mum & I  At Echo Point, Blue Mountains

Mum & I
At Echo Point, Blue Mountains

Continuing on our Holiday Post.
On the evening of 8th of November, 2014, we reached Sydney from Adelaide. We split up at the Sydney (Domestic) Airport. My father went with his relatives. My sister & her husband to their various acquaintances, and later, friends places. My Mum & I, left with my mother’s first cousin Pamela (Loku), and her husband Dennis, to their posh split level house, with a great view, and very open back yard, in the elite suburb of Castle Cove, in Northshore, New South Wales (NSW). I wasn’t aware they lived in, and that we were staying in, Northshore, till a few days later. They practically had given me a whole suite, not just a bedroom, to myself in their picture book perfect home. Touchwood. Back in SL, we too have (rather mum’s house here) a split level home. But we built this in 1989, and moved in, in January 1990. Thus our house here is about 25 years old.

My mother and Loku, were quite close as kids in the late 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s, till my mum got married in 1973, and left Sri Lanka for New Delhi, India. Post that they had met quite a few times, if and whenever both of them happened to be in SL at the same time (for Loku had also left for Australia in the mid-late 70’s itself, after she got married to Dennis). But I had met Loku only once, to my memory, as a teenager, when she came to SL for a holiday, in the early-mid 1990’s, with her, then,11 year old son. Thus 20 odd years later, this is the second time I met her. Of course my mum, met her a couple of months ago or so, here in SL. So it was a bit awkward for me to crash at their place initially, but the lovely couple made me feel at home. And Dennis, though in his late 60’s, and whom I met for the first time there, was a really nice, like minded, gentleman, with whom I could have an interesting conversation, without wasting time of idle gossip. Being a person who loves to socialise myself, I hardly get any like minded people to enjoy conversing with on intriguing topics, out here in SL. Instead what you mostly get is people who like to spin tales of other people I don’t even know, nor is any of my business. Thus I really enjoyed the company of the much older couple, I met, and resided with, down under, in Castle Cove, during my six day stay in Sydney. Added to that, socialite Loku is a fabulous cook/chef. The results of her gourmet cuisine, is still showing on my waistline.

Left to Right: My Mum, My Mum’s cousin Loku (Pam), and Loku’s husband Dennis, @ Echo Point -  Blue Mountains.

Left to Right: My Mum, My Mum’s cousin Loku (Pam), and Loku’s husband Dennis, @ Echo Point – Blue Mountains. PIX: Nuwan Sen

On the 9th of November, we (Mum, Loku, Dennis & I) went to see the Blue Mountains and the famed rock formation known as ‘The Three Sisters’. T’was beautiful whether that day; warm, clear and comfortable enough. We actually got to see the Blue Mountains properly. In the sense the whether was so fine, that we actually got to see the Blue Mountains – Blue, it’s not something you get to see everyday. The Blue Mountains are called the ‘Blue Mountains’, due to the eucalyptus trees, an evergreen tree, which gives out blue hue to the mountainous regions there. This phenomena takes place due to the oil dispersed from the eucalyptus trees which come in contact with fine dust particles and the scattering rays of sunlight that come through. Interestingly, besides having lived in Sydney for two years, between June 2006 and June 2008, and having travelled around Australia’s Eastern coast back then, this was the first time I visited the Blue Mountains. And it was totally worth it. Back in 2008, in Sydney, I watched, Emerald Falls (2008), a pretty good television movie, set in the picturesque Blue Mountains.

On One Sister of the Three Sisters.  (L-R) Me, Loku & My Mum.

On One Sister of the Three Sisters.
(L-R) Me, Loku & My Mum.

Mum, Loku and I climbed down up to one of the Three Sisters. Dennis & Loku have done this trek so many times, that Dennis stayed on at Echo Point for us. It wasn’t that far down ‘The Giant Stairway’, but it felt like a never ending descend. The ascend felt quicker.

Mum & I  Three Sisters in the Backdrop.

Mum & I
Three Sisters in the Backdrop.

The legend of the Three Sisters goes like this – Long Long time ago, lived three beautiful sisters of the ‘Gundungurra’ tribe, who fell in love with three brothers from the ‘Darug’ tribe. Their marriage was forbidden by tribal law, and the three warrior brothers decided to elope with the three sisters. A war ensued, and the ‘Kuradjuri’ (Tribal Clever Man) decided to turn the three sisters into stone, and promised to set them free after the battle. But unfortunately the ‘Kuradjuri’ was killed in battle, and the spell could not be broken. Thus the Three Sisters remain stuck rock solid till date.

This legend of the Three Sisters is actually not an ancient legend, but originated in more recent times. A modern day tale, concocted only around the late 1920’s. That too, the story was supposedly created by non-Aboriginal people, Caucasian Aussies.

Posing with one of the Dancers.

Posing with one of the Dancers.

Post that we went to see the Aboriginal dance, amazingly most of them were Caucasians. In fact, after the show, I told one of the fake, white skinned, aborigines, whilst taking a picture with him, that I look more like an aborigine than he does. He laughed and agreed with me. Ironically, most of the indigenous population of Australia are into drugs, crime, you name it, and have no proper place in society. Some of them could be really aggressive sometimes. They are given money, but not an education. Thus you find them walking the streets, living like hoboes/gypsies, trying to con people. Not all, but most. It’s really sad. And yet it’s their art and customs been exploited down under to lure in tourists.

Blue Mountains National Park

Blue Mountains National Park PIX: Nuwan Sen

Then we went to ‘Scenic World’, where Mum & I took the steep, almost vertical, train down to the Katoomba Rainforest. The line is supposedly the world’s steepest Railway. We had a nice walk through the Jurassic jungle past old coalmines, then we took the cable car, back up, and finally a scenic glass-bottomed skyway to the Blue Mountains National Park, and back, passing the Katoomba falls on the Kedumba River. That was a day well spent.

Back @ Loku & Dennis’ Place after spending the day @ the Blue Mountains. PIX: Nuwan Sen

Back @ Loku & Dennis’ Place after spending the day @ the Blue Mountains.
PIX: Nuwan Sen

Next day, on the 10th, we were to visit my great-Aunt; my mother’s Aunt, my maternal grandmother’s brother’s widow, Loku’s mum; at her nursing home, which had been quarantined earlier, as a few old people were ill. And from there, visit ‘Featherdale Wildlife Park’, which is in close proximity to where my Great-Aunt resides. I’m close to my Great-Aunt, and have known her since I was a child, and met her several times, when she visited SL, and whilst I was living in Sydney. Thus I was all dressed to meet her. But unfortunately, the quarantine was back on.

Mum & I @ Featherdale Wildlife Park

Mum & I @ Featherdale Wildlife Park

So ultimately, all dressed up, we (Mum, Loku & I) just went to Featherdale and had a nice time with authentic Australian Animals (some caged, some freer to walk about). T’was a nice day.

With a sleeping Koala in Featherdale. Koala’s tend to sleep for around 20 hours a day.

With a sleeping Koala in Featherdale. Koala’s tend to sleep for around 20 hours a day.

Loku & Mum @ Featherdale

Loku & Mum @ Featherdale Wildlife Park

From there we went to Chatswood, a suburb close to Castle Cove. While Mum & Loku did some shopping, I went and watched Interstellar (2014); a Christopher Nolan movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, David Gyasi, Jessica Chastain and Wes Bentley; at the Hoyts in Chatswood’s Westfield. That evening, Carlo (my father’s first cousin who migrated to Sydney in the 90’s) visited us at Loku’s, with his twins (12 year old twin daughters).

On the 11th, Dennis dropped Mum & me, at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, in the city (Sydney). Prior to that I asked Dennis the direction to Castle Cove and Chatswood, assuming in was a western suburb (as we were to take a train back to Chatswood, when we were done). That’s when he mentioned we were in Northshore. I was like wow!! Really. As students, in Sydney, Northshore was very popularly known as being the posh-est, cleanest, classiest, most expensive and snobbish area of Sydney. Ha!! It was an honour to be residing in such a place, even though for just six days. When I spoke to some of friends down there, they were like “Whaaaatt??? You kiddin’ me”. Ha!! Ha!!

In the City - Sydney Mum & I @ Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, with the Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge, in the backdrop.

In the City – Sydney
Mum & I @ Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, with the Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge, in the backdrop.

So from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, where there is a great view of the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, we walked past the Botanical gardens to the Opera House. From the Opera House past Circular Quays up to Harbour Bridge. On the way we went to ‘Pancakes on the Rocks’ (a favourite haunt of us students from back in the day), where we had lunch. A nostalgic day for me. Then we walked back to Circular Quays, and took two trains to Chatswood. Did some shopping, and in the evening Loku picked us up from Chatswood. Had a nice long mother and son day, on the 11th of November 2014.

Next day, Canberra, Next Post.

Nuwan Sen n’ Travel

Adelaide & Hahndorf

Cowboy Down Under Hahndorf, Australia

Cowboy Down Under
Hahndorf, Australia

On the 2nd of November, 2014, afternoon, I left Colombo, along with my mother, sister and brother-in-law (my sister’s husband), for a trip to Australia. We flew in a well spacious Emirates (code-share with Qantas) flight, to Singapore, and from Singapore in a congested Qantas Flight (with good enough service though) to Sydney, and from Sydney in a, comparatively better, domestic, Qantas flight to Adelaide. Thus, after almost two days of travel, we arrived in Adelaide on the evening of 3rd November, 2014. I was half dead, by the time we reached Franklin Central Apartments (where we had rented an apartment for the duration of our stay in Adelaide) in the city centre, after all I hadn’t had a wink of sleep in the three flights to Adelaide from Colombo.

It was nice to be back in Australia after 6½ years, though it was my first time in Adelaide. Back when I was living in Sydney (New South Wales), between June 2006 and June 2008, I had covered most of the Australian Eastern coast, from The Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation, Cairns, Kuranda, Townsville, Magnetic Island et al up North East (Queensland), to Melbourne (Victoria) and the Great Ocean Road tour through Bells Beach, The Grotto up to see The Twelve Apostles, South East. But this was my first time in the state of South Australia. And I’ve never ventured towards the Western territory of Aussie land till date. Plus, this was also the first time I travelled down under with my family. My sister and father, had visited Australia (Sydney), back in September-October 2011, but this was the first time for my mum and my sister’s husband. And the first time for all of us in Adelaide (SA).

On the Emirates Flight I watched most of Boyhood (2014), and latter part of it in the Qantas Flight to Sydney. I mostly read Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic in the flight to Sydney, a book I bought at the Singapore (Changi International) Airport, whilst on transit. Coincidentally, it was a novel related to travel. A philosophical look at a train journey from Paris, France to Basel, in Switzerland. I couldn’t complete it though. In the third flight (Sydney to Adelaide), I tried to watch Magic in the Moonlight (2014), a Woody Allen flick, which I switched off, as I was too tired.

On 4th morning, though still a bit tired, I started to feel better, and we headed off to Hahndorf. An old German town, founded in 1838, by Captain Dirk Hahn, in the suburbs of Adelaide. Hahndorf literally means Hahn’s Town. I fell in love with the small European Town, and it’s friendly atmosphere. We walked around the streets, had a great lunch at ‘The Hahndorf Inn’. I even had some beer. Being a person who doesn’t enjoy drinking, especially alcohol, it was a pretty big deal. The last time I had any alcohol was six years ago. So it’s that rare I’d taste alcohol. I am not anti-alcohol, I just don’t enjoy drinking, I never did. Otherwise I have a sweet tooth and love desserts, and most of the ones I love have alcohol in them. Thus it’s not for any moral or religious reason that I don’t drink, but simply ‘cause I don’t like to. Beer even less so, as I generally give more preference to sophisticated liquor, like wine, cherry, champagne, and chocolate based liqueurs. But I can’t go to a German inspired habitation and expect to taste classy drinks and not taste their Beer. Otherwise, in lieu of beer, I ought to taste nothing at all. Along with the Beer we had a great pork based meat platter. The three of us really enjoyed it, and my vegetarian mother, enjoyed her Pretzel Bread appetiser.

Strawberry Fields, Hahndorf, Australia.  (L-R) My Sister, My Mum, My Sister’s  Husband.

Strawberry Fields, Hahndorf, Australia.
(L-R) My Sister, My Mum, My Sister’s Husband. PIX: Nuwan Sen

The highlights of Hahndorf, were being able to see a Museum related to Sir Hans Heysen (a German born, Australian, pastoral artist, that I wasn’t that well aware of) at the Heritage Museum & Art Gallery (which was also the information centre for the town), and of course the strawberry picking. My mum, did the most picking, and I the least 🙂 . Hey, I was busy taking pictures of the beatific strawberry fields, not that I didn’t pick any strawberries, I just picked comparatively very little, while she filled up a whole box. Of course my sister did the second best, but I doubt her husband did much picking either. I saw him ordering everyone around more and less picking. Ha!! None the less we did have fun. Next day Mum & I went to the shops, at Rundle Mall. That evening my father joined us in Adelaide. He left SL, two days after we did.

With Matthew Flinders, in Adelaide, Australia.

With Matthew Flinders, in Adelaide, Australia.

On the 6th, it was my day, my lone day. Thus the lone wolf, scavenged through Adelaide, towards ‘The Art Gallery of South Australia’. On the way I saw some interesting sculptures/statues/busts of famed people, including Mary Lee; a 19th century, Irish-Australian, social reformer and a feminist of the suffragist movement of South Australia; and Matthew Flinders (pictured above), English navigator and cartographer, the first person to circumnavigate Australia and identify it as a continent. The art gallery wasn’t that massive, and housed very little amount of works, compared to many a galleries I’ve visited in Europe, Asia and Australia itself. There were very few famed Australian artists, the likes of Grace Crowley, Sidney Nolan and Martin Sharp. But one of my favourite Australian Artists, Brett Whitely (see my post Beatle News #8 …& Brett Whiteley), was missing. Of course I’ve seen some of his works earlier, at ‘The Art Gallery of New South Wales’, in Sydney, when I use to live there (2006-2008). And I had seen a Sidney Nolan Exhibition, in early 2008, at ‘The Art Gallery of NSW’, as well. But I wished more Ozzie artists were hung at ‘The Art Gallery of South Australia’, as well. They did have some European works too, including Impressionist artist, Camille Pissarro, whose works I had seen at the Museé d’Orsay in Paris, France, when I lived there back in 2008-2009. There was also an interesting exhibition of etchings by G.B. Piranesi. Plus a post-post modernism exhibition by recent artists, using cut glass and lighting. Post the Art Gallery I checked out the ‘University of Adelaide’ and visited the ‘South Australian Museum’ briefly. All in proximity to each other. Along all these walks I met some really interesting people to talk to, which I hardly get out here. After the Museum closed I headed back to the Rundle Mall, and shopped for some books at Dymocks , and then headed to the cinema. Palace Cinema. And ended up watching Fury (2014), starring Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman. After the movie, it was late night, I walked back, met some French and German Rickshaw wallah’s. Had a nice chat with them as well. T’was a nice long day, by myself.

Cowboy in a Rickshaw With a German Rickshaw wallah

Cowboy in a Rickshaw
With a German Rickshaw wallah

On the 7th was my sisters MBA graduation ceremony (from the Australian Institute of Business), the main reason we went Down Under, in the first place. The Ceremony took place at the Adelaide Town Hall, and there was formal dinner post that at the Gallery on Waymouth. My sister did her degree in Colombo from AIB, but she had her post-graduation ceremony down there. Gallery on Waymouth was an interesting, purposely Kitsch style, Art Gallery style, café, with a Graffiti wall at the side entrance. Inside, I loved a couple of works inspired by Andy Warhol and an old Australian Matchbox cover, by an unknown artist, bringing Pop Art to the 21st century and giving it an Oz twist.

MBA Graduation Ceremony @ Adelaide Town Hall (Left to Right) Me (Nuwan Sen), My Dad, My Mum, The Post Graduate (My Baby Sister - Sachinta), The Chairman of AIB (Prof. Selva Abraham), and Sachinta's husband (Umesh).

MBA Graduation Ceremony @ Adelaide Town Hall
(Left to Right) Me (Nuwan Sen), My Dad, My Mum, The Post Graduate (My Baby Sister – Sachinta), The Chairman of AIB (Prof. Selva Abraham), and Sachinta’s husband (Umesh).

On the 8th of November, 2014, we left Adelaide for Sydney. On this Qantas flight, I was planning to check out Magic in the Moonlight (2014), which I couldn’t on the way to Adelaide. But this Qantas flight didn’t have any screens per seat. Thus I lounged back in my chair and got back into reading Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic.

Nuwan Sen n’ Travel

Back from Holidaying Down Under

Just got back day before yesterday, after a 11 day holiday in Australia. We went specially for my sister’s convocation/MBA Graduation in Adelaide.

With my Baby sister, post her MBA Graduation Ceremony & Dinner.

With my Baby sister, post her MBA Graduation Ceremony & Dinner.

Shall get back to blogging soon.
Nuwan Sen

DIARCHIA (Diarchy)

Just watched the French short film, Diarchia (2010) on Youtube. The quality wasn’t that great, but the movie was totally worth it.
DiarchiaTwo men are driving through the woods, through a rain storm, in a Mercedes Benz, listening to Tim Buckley’s Song to the Siren. They reach’s ones parents’ mansion. Soon we learn they aren’t that familiar with each other. They discuss a unique sculpture in the house, among the beautiful collection, and analyse it. One provokes the other to a friendly homoerotic fight, with dangerous consequences. Soon the sister of one comes home, unaware her brother might be dead and that there’s a stranger in the house.

A really interesting 18 minute short film, with a bizarre unexpected ending. This is the debut film of director Ferdinando Cito Filomarino. He’s made a couple of more since then. Diarchia stars Louis Garrel, Riccardo Scamarcio and Alba Rohrwacher.

I have been a great fan of Louis Garrel, since I watched Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003), on the big screen, back in 2003, in Oslo, Norway. Have seen quite a few films starring Louis Garrel since then, including Christophe Honoré’s Ma Mère (2004), Dans Paris (2006), Les Chansons d’Amour (2007) and La Belle Personne (2008). The last two I watched in Paris itself, on the small screen. Louis Garrel’s superbly a very naturalistic actor. Love his movies, his varied roles, and loved Diarchia.

Diarchia (2010)
My Rating – 10/10
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense