Watching, listening, reading: July

Here we are at the end of July already – 2017 is certainly going by at lightening speed.  Anyway, time to stop and have a quick round up of this month’s media consumption.


The New Zealand International Film Festival has started, and on Friday we went to see The Square, directed by Ruben Östlund.   Winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or, it is a satire of sorts that follows a museum curator (played by Danish actor Claes Bang…who spoke Danish throughout and managed to be understood by the Swedes…artistic license), an exhibit called The Square, a theft of a mobile phone, and an American journalist played by Elisabeth Moss. It is hard to describe, but had some funny moments, some awful moments and was visually stunning.

On Sunday, we went to see another Swedish film, Sami Blood.  What an amazing and brilliant film, one that will stay with me for years to come.  The story is of a young Sami girl growing up in 1930s northern Sweden, who attends a school for Sami children.  Proud of her knowledge of Swedish, she gradually comes to realise she has to break all ties with her family and culture if she wants to live another life.  The scenes of race biology examinations at her boarding school, and the prejudice in society at the time against Sami make uncomfortable viewing.  This is a film not to be missed.  Trivia note: the Sami language in the film is Southern Sami, spoken by only a few people these days.

The third film we have seen on the film festival was today, Monday, when we went to see Sally Potter’s The Party.  A black comedy, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall and Cillian Murphy, it tells the tale of a female politician celebrating her promotion to Minister of Health, and how it all goes horribly wrong. Filmed in black and white, it is a real ensemble piece, with excellent acting.

On Saturday afternoon, to cheer myself up after a not very good week, I re-watched that lovely film Frances Ha.  If you haven’t seen it, do catch it, it is a real gem.  It is the story of a woman in New York who aspires to be a dancer, but isn’t really cut out for it, her friendships and a happy ending.  It stars Greta Gerwig as Frances, and spot Adam Driver in a supporting role.


On the small screen, we’ve not really watched much to write about, except lots of old music programmes and comedy shows.  We could really do with a good drama to get excited about.


I’ve listened to the usual round of podcasts, particularly loving The Moth, which never fails to amuse/make you cry/be amazed and an episode of Desert Island Discs with the British TV presenter and comedian, Sue Perkins. A day never goes by without The Archers of course.

After hearing this in the car, I can’t stop listening to The Sundays, Can’t Be Sure.  As a consequence, I’ve wandered down memory lane and listened to some of their other stuff, having forgotten that they were a favourite at the time.


The month started with another Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot. She has a certain cast of characters that seem to pop up in all her books, but nevertheless a page turner and a good read.  Still in the world of fiction, I enjoyed another of the cat detective books by Lilian Jackson Braun on a bumpy flight back to Wellington. The book of the month award  goes to The Quiet Spectacular by Kiwi writer Laurence Moriarty.  A beautifully crafted work, with strong characters and story line, and evocative images.  Highly recommended.

My second non-fiction work of the month (the first being Michael Pollen’s In Defence of Food mentioned here) was a short memoir by Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City.  It was quite enjoyable, with some lovely observations and overheard conversations.  Oh yes and of course, the current issue of Frankie is worth looking at too!


Book of the month

Featured photo at the top of the post is Ekor Book Café, College Street, Wellington.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @blof678.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on




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