Opening credits sumptuous scene-setter for The Night Manager

I’ve finally caught up with dramatization of John Le Carre’s novel The Night Manager on Australian free-to-air station, SBS through its On Demand platform. (There’re lots of gems hiding in plain sight there.)

The series met my expectations and more – great writing and acting; sets were lavish and seemed real – I particularly loved the Devon cottage in Episode 3; as well as the luxury villas – who lives like that? And much has been written of the performances of the lead roles. What I particularly liked was that Olivia Coleman’s long-suffering, hard-working spy character could be pregnant – in years gone by that would have precluded her being cast. So, little gains are being made.

But all throughout the watching, I have been haunted by the opening credits and the music accompanying it. There is some good information online (here and here) about how the makers approached fashioning what is often an overlooked scene-setter for any piece of film/video. And in these days of binge-watching, you can often skip through the credits. I found with The Night Manager, that watching the credits got me back into the zone each time, reminding me what I was watching, and through the emotion generated by the visuals and the music, set me up for the next instalment.

The music is composed by Victor Reyes, and there’s also discussion on-line about its similarity to the opening credits theme for Westerworld, the production of which was also done by Patrick Clair.

I can’t hear it myself, although I do agree that there are similarities, and the quality of the production values is the same. But The Night Manager theme is all ebb and flow, with minor crescendos to accompany the visuals as they change from the luxury item to an image of a weapon; each time dropping back to something safe before taking us somewhere dangerous – which follows the story-line of Pine’s journey. This matching of visuals and music is what makes the sequence so effective, to its ultimate end where everything explodes. Brilliant.

There’s talk of a second series. Here’s hoping that if it is made, it will live up to the quality of this original in every respect, including the opening credits.

 

Copyright of original source material is acknowledged.

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The good Oils

I am standing in a dark cupboard – about the size, shape and build of a polling booth. A black curtain is pulled closed behind me. On either side of me at waist height are two plastic arms, elbows sticking out, attached to the wall.  Apparently they are meant to move and jostle me around, as if we were standing in the audience of The Antler hotel in Narrabeen in the late 1970s. But the elbows remain static in the dark, inversed Vs, props in some weird Halloween party. In front of me is a largish screen playing a video of a Midnight Oil gig, circa 1982 – and the elbows are irrelevant because I don’t need reminding what a Midnight Oil gig is like. I do remember.

The Making of Midnight Oil retrospective exhibition is in Canberra at the moment at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre and is well worth the hour or so spent down memory lane. First mounted by the Manly Art Gallery and Museum in close consultation with Oils band members, the exhibits cover the life of this iconic Australian band, from its genesis as Farm, through to the early 2000s when they wound up shop. There is plenty of video content to see, as well as clothing, tshirts, album covers, 45s (!), and a stage set up complete with drum kit. The height of Peter Garrett’s microphone stand gives an idea of the size of the man but I suspect they would have needed more room on a real stage to accommodate him, his movement and dance style, and three guitarists as well.

Midnight Oil image 3 stage

Stage set up

The first time I saw Midnight Oil was at The Ambassador nightclub in Newcastle. I was 16 (checking ID wasn’t much of a thing in 1979) in year 12, and had convinced my friend Melanie to come with me. I didn’t see much of her that night, but she knew where I was if she needed me. I didn’t move from my perch on a stool at stage right, mesmerised by the driving energy of the sound and, if I am honest, Rob Hirst’s biceps. Yes, Garrett’s presence was overpowering too, but it was the music that stayed (and stays) with me, and I straight away ordered Head Injuries from the CBS record club – a well-loved piece of vinyl that I retain today. By the time I moved to Sydney the following year (and eventually to North Bondi the following year ), they had taken off and were playing all over the place.

Midnight oil image 2 Ambassador

Poster from gigs at The Ambassador nightclub in Newcastle, complete with surfing and steel-making visual references

The exhibition is very comprehensive – it tracks through the key pinch points of their career – the Oils on Water Triple J concert on Sydney Harbour (somewhere in the garage I have a cassette tape of this, recorded from the radio), endless tours in the US, travelling and touring through the Australian outback – unheard of in the 1980s, the Sydney Olympics and the Sorry suits – politics was never far away and it’s fair to say that it was not the sole province of Garrett. He’d have been given short shrift if the agenda were only his and this comes out in lyrics written by all of the band members.

The high points of the exhibit for me are the personal items on display – the guitars and drum sticks, the Casio keyboard used for song composition, and a tattered set list left over from a gig – perhaps kept by chance but encapsulating the band’s life-time output. And the handwritten lyric sheets – complete with copyright tags – are fabulous to see.

Midnight oil image lyrics

Handwritten lyrics for Run by Night

The film of the making of the 10-1 album is also running on a loop, and features interviews with the brilliant Jim Moginie and producer Nick Launay and illustrates the technical brilliance and musical knowledge that sits behind the unique Oils sound.

The exhibit will be touring elsewhere in regional locations, which is great, but if you are in or around Canberra, I can recommend it.

The Making of Midnight Oil exhibition  is free and runs in Canberra until 14 May – http://www.tuggeranongarts.com/the-making-of-midnight-oil-2/

Sunburns

Freckles are us

Life's like that!

I had put the appointment off for ages. It wasn’t until a work colleague came back from her recent dermatologist appointment with news of 2 basal cell carcinomas (BCC) on her face that I picked up the phone and booked myself an appointment.

The Skin Clinic. I was able to get in the next day so I took the appointment.

Being a fair and very freckly redhead growing up in Australia wasn’t an ideal combination. This fair colouring due to my Scottish and German grandparents. The redhead jokes at school were nothing compared to the sunburns and blisters on my shoulders and back that I had as a child. I remember every Summer would start the same with that first bad sunburn and after that the subsequent ones didn’t hurt as much. We did wear sunscreen but it was such a low sun protection rating, I think SPF 12 from…

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It moves, but never gets off the ground

When I first saw Dinornis Maximus I thought it was an actual wind measuring instrument, something that the Weather Bureau had put up to test which way the wind was blowing, or how fast – a kind of new-fangled wind sock. Or maybe a new wind turbine for generating electricity.  But no, it’s a kinetic sculpture.

Tall wind sculpture Tilly

It has grown on me – I regularly drive past it en route through Woden – and I find I am now less distracted by it than previously. Initially I thought the blades might fly off.  Up close, though it seems pretty stable.

Upwards wind sculpture

The day we went to take a look, it was freezing cold, but there was no wind, which is why I felt able to get so close.

Tilly base wind sculpture

Dinornis was the giant moa, a flightless bird, from New Zealand.  Extinct now of course, and thought to stand more than three metres tall.  This sculpture is 11 metres tall, and its arms rotate every which way, whatever way the wind takes it.  A bit like life, really.

Dinorsis long view Dinornis Plaque

The artist is Phil Price, a NZ sculptor.  I do like the irony of the artist naming this sculpture with swinging arms after a flightless bird.  It moves and moves, but never gets off the ground.

Here’s a quick film on YouTube of the sculpture’s arms moving about.

On the road again

With the wind in my ears and a smile on my own face, I think this sculpture adroitly captures the joy of the dog taking a road trip with its owner.

Tilly and on the road again

Dog truck 3

The whimsy of the composition, with the dog’s head stuck out of the car’s window – which seems to hang mid-air – encourages the imagination.  And you can feel the movement of the wind as it whooshes through the car, pulling the dog’s ear’s backwards while the car is propelled forward.

Dog truck 1        Anne Ross On the Road again 2011

On the road again by Anne Ross  is located at Lyons shops, and is made of bronze. It was installed in November 2011, and unveiled in 2012.

It adds humour to the shops at Lyons, which is one of the few local shops that also has information about the person for whom it is named, Australian Prime Minister Joe Lyons.

Lyons sculpture

Lyons 2