It’s Show Time

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LITTLE FILM SOCIETIES THRIVE IN THE BUSH. ON A WET FRIDAY NIGHT I MEET FRIENDS IN AN OLD VILLAGE CHURCH HALL TO WATCH ‘THE THIRD MAN’ – FOR THE SIXTH TIME. IT COSTS $3 TO GET IN. THERE’S NO HEATING SO WE RUG UP, WRAPPED IN BLANKETS. I EVEN BROUGHT MY OWN FLUFFY PINK HOT WATER BOTTLE LAST WINTER WHICH EVERYONE THOUGHT WAS A BIT DORKY – SO I HID IT UNDER MY WOOL THROW.

FIRST THERE IS A SHORT – HAROLD LLOYD OR A MARX BROTHERS FOLLOWED BY INTERVAL. PEOPLE HAVE COOKED DELICIOUS CAKES AND COOKIES AND THESE ARE SERVED WITH TEA AND COFFEE FROM BIG URNS. IT’S LIKE A CHURCH SOCIAL WITHOUT THE PREACHER, ALTHOUGH THESE ARE SOME PRETTY DIEHARD MOVIE BUFFS SO MUCH JOY AND ADORATION ABOUNDS.

MY FRIENDS KATHERINE AND GEORGIA WHO LOVE ANY EXCUSE TO DRESS UP IN FANCY COSTUME ARE DELIGHTED WHEN INDIAN DIRECTOR SATYAJIT RAY’S BELOVED FILM ‘PATHER PANCHALI’ IS GOING TO BE SHOWN AND WE ARE ALL ENCOURAGED TO DRESS IN THEME. THEY ARRIVE IN SWIRLING SARIS AND SALMA KAMEEZ WITH MUCH KOHL AND RED BINDIS PAINTED BETWEEN THEIR EYES. NO ONE ELSE INCLUDING MYSELF HAS BOTHERED AND THEY LOOK A BIT BONKERS BEING THE ONLY FAKE INDIANS IN THE ROOM. FAR FROM DISCOURAGED THEY HAPPILY FLASH THEIR BLING AND CONSIDER THE DRESS-UP POSSIBILITIES FOR THE UP-COMING ‘NINOTCHKA’ STARRING GRETA GARBO.

SUNDAY NIGHT IS RUSSIAN MOVIE NIGHT. ORGANIZED BY A LOVELY RUSSIAN GIRL RECENTLY MOVED HERE AND KEEN TO SHARE HER CULTURAL HERITAGE IT IS HELD IN AN UPSCALE ART GALLERY IN BYRON BAY. WE ARE GREETED BY OXANA BUSY AT WORK ON HER SMALL PORTABLE STOVE COOKING BLINIS AND BORSCHT.

I FEEL LIKE AN ENEMY OF THE STATE WHEN I ANNOUNCE TO THE ASSEMBLED RUSSIANS THAT I HATE BORSCHT. THEY LOOK AT ME AS IF I HAD THROWN UP IN FRONT OF THE QUEEN. BUT IT’S GOOD TO AIR SUCH BLASPHEMIES UPFRONT. OTHERWISE YOU COULD END UP HAVING TO EAT THE HORRIBLE STUFF.

EVERYONE APART FROM ME LOVES BEETROOT WHICH IS BEING REDISCOVERED AS A NEW HEALTH FOOD GUARANTEED TO DETOX YOUR LIVER FASTER THAN YOU CAN FIND IT WITH BOTH HANDS.  I ONCE SAW A MINI DOCUMENTARY IN THE US SHOWING PEOPLE STOPPED RANDOMLY IN THE STREET AND ASKED IF THEY KNEW WHERE THEIR LIVERS WERE.  NO ONE HAD A CLUE.

I THINK OFF THIS AS I AM HANDED ONE OF OXANA’S SCRUMPTIOUS PANCAKES THAT ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD AND PUT YOU IN THE PERFECT FRAME OF MIND FOR SETTLING INTO THE 6TH EPISODE OF ‘THE IDIOT.’

AS THE BBC HAS DONE WITH ALL THE BEST ENGLISH CLASSICS STARRING THEIR REPERTORY OF TOP DRAWER TALENT THE RUSSIANS HAVE SIMILARLY BEEN BUSY FILMING THEIR OWN CLASSIC LITERATURE. ‘THE MASTER AND MARGARITA’ – BULGAKOV’S MASTERPIECE – WHICH EVERYONE READ AT ONE TIME HAS BEEN TURNED INTO A STUNNING 10 PART SERIES. IT IS HANDS DOWN ONE OF THE FINEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN.

MIKHAIL BULGAKOV’S NOVEL FEATURES THE DEVIL, HIS TALKING CAT AND MARGARITA WHO TRAVELS THE SKIES NAKED ON A BROOMSTICK – DEFINITELY SOMETHING ON MY BUCKET LIST.

IT’S CONSIDERED ONE OF THE MASTERPIECES OF 20TH CENTURY LITERATURE. THE ROLLING STONES BASED THEIR HIT ‘SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL’ ON IT. THIS SAVAGELY SATIRICAL ANTI SOVIET WORK WAS NEVER PUBLISHED DURING THE AUTHOR’S LIFETIME. IT WAS HIDDEN AWAY TO PROTECT HIM FROM STALIN’S POLICE. NEARLY THREE DECADES AFTER HIS DEATH HIS WIDOW SUCCEEDED IN GETTING IT PUBLISHED – AND THEN IT WAS BANNED.

AT ONE STAGE HE EVEN BURNT THE MANUSCRIPT AND HAD TO REWRITE IT FROM MEMORY. IMAGINE THAT.WHERE WOULD YOU START? AT THE END? IT WOULD BE FRESHEST IN YOUR MIND – WHAT WAS LEFT OF IT ONCE YOU REALIZED WHAT YOU’D DONE.

“ARE YOU MAD?” MY PARISIAN NEIGHBOUR ROMAIN ASKS WHEN I SAY I COULD SIT THROUGH THE SERIES A SECOND TIME WHICH WOULD MAKE IT 20 PLUS HOURS OF RUSSIAN DRAMA WITH SUBTITLES. “WHY DON’T YOU JUST WATCH A GOOD FRENCH FILM?”

WHAT A GOOD IDEA. A FRENCH FILM SOCIETY. WE CAN WATCH UNBEATABLE OLD JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO AND ALAIN DELON MOVIES IN HIS LIVING ROOM. I CAN DRESS UP IN MY PAJAMAS BECAUSE ONE JUMP OVER THE FENCE AND I’M HOME. I’LL HAVE TO GET HIM ONTO IT. BUT ONLY IF HE CAN KNOCK UP A GOOD FRENCH ONION SOUP WITH HIS CREPES.

 

 

 

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