RIP Sydney Pollack

CinemaIf you had asked me who Sydney Pollack was a week ago I probably would have muttered something about him possibly having something to do with movies.  As is so often the case, it’s only when someone passes away that the extent of their contribution over a long and successful career becomes known to the wider public.

Sydney Pollack was an acclaimed director. His two best known and critically acclaimed films ‘Out of Africa’ and ‘The way we were’ are deserving of the title “classic”.  In addition Pollack acted in numerous films over the years in everything from Kubrick’s ‘Eyes wide shut’ to Woody Allen’s ‘Husbands and Wives’ to sitcoms like ‘Frasier’ and had, what I like to think was a rather avuncular persona in his onscreen roles.

In 2005 he provided the preface for friend Anthony Minghella’s book Minghella on Minghella as Pollack had produced several of his films. Sadly Minghella also passed away earlier this year, he too succumbing to cancer.

Sydney Pollack died in Los Angeles on 26 May surrounded by family. He was 73 years old.

The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival

September 5 to 7 sees more than 60 NZ and international writers in Christchurch for The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival.

Some big names have been confirmed: British journalist and author Robert Fisk, authors Xinran Xue and Kate Atkinson.

Robert Fisk is a British journalist renowned for his intelligent coverage of events in Northern Ireland and Lebanon. 

JollyKate Atkinson came to fame with the success of her deliciously engaging novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which won the prestigious Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1995, overcoming stalwarts such as Salman Rushdie.

Xinran Xue is a writer as well as a journalist and broadcaster. Her talk show led to the publication of her critically acclaimed book The Good Women of China  in which she compiled stories from her listeners. 

Bookings will open at Ticketek on July 16 and the full programme will be released then.

Centenary of Bond creator’s birth

BondIan Fleming would have reached the venerable age of 100 on the 28th May; instead his final mission was in 1964, when his heavy smoking, skirt-chasing and boozy lifestyle finally caught up with him and stilled the old ticker. Not a bad way to go some might say and the Bond series which he himself referred to as “trivial piffle” also made him a very rich chap indeed, $2.8 million US from the thirteen Bond titles alone.

Commander James Bond, CMG, RNVR is best known now through the twenty-one Bond movies and we’ve had the lot; the blond Bond, butch Bond, Scots, Irish, Welsh, Australian and English Bonds. The film character has seen a new interpretation with each incarnation but the novels have a more static version of the Bond that Fleming first envisaged. Fleming considered Bond to be ” an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happen…a cardboard dummy” but others like Kingsley Amis have waxed lyrical on the theme of Bond’s “fine natural physique…ravaged countenance, dark and brooding in expression” and George Grella said “James Bond is the Renaissance man…lover, warrior, connoisseur. He lives the dreams of countless drab people, his gun ready, his honor intact, his morals loose: the hero of our anxiety-ridden mythless age”

So if you’re feeling drab and want to live the life of a Renaissance man, lover, warrior or connoisseur this could be the perfect time to escape into the wonderful world of Bond, James Bond.