What to read, watch and listen to in August

A Note on TV

Why Women Kill

A sharp dramedy about three married women (played by Ginnifer Goodwin, Lucy Liu and Kirby Howell-Baptiste) inhabiting the same house across three different eras, the 60s, mid 80s and late 2010s, Why Women Kill is a dark and sometimes sombre examination of the dynamics of marriage, infidelity and acceptance. In this series (SBS), from the creator of Desperate Housewives, murder means never having to say you’re sorry, but marriage means saying sorry and still winding up in trouble. The Broad loved this series for the way it explores the changing freedoms and dynamics in marriage for women and men with a huge amount of heart and humour.  

Orphan Black

Late coming to this Canadian-English science fiction drama, The Broad and Mr Broad are half-way through the first season of Orphan Black (Stan), a story about clones that is part Handmaid’s Tale and part Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. Hopefully the story will develop and can sustain five seasons with the same tense drama and intrigue about a dystopian near future. In this New Yorker article, Harvard historian and writer Jill Lepore examines the science and how it’s informed some of the science fiction in this series.

A Note on Film

The Old Man & The Gun

The Old Man & The Gun (Netflix), which may be the farewell tour for Robert Redford on screen, is a warm, charming tale about a group of aging bank robbers who can’t seem to give up the heist. Redford plays Forrest Tucker, a disarmingly polite gun toting bank robbers who takes his crimes across 1980s American while intermittently dating Jewel (Sissy Spacek) between holdups after meeting on the highway when he is on the getaway from a robbery and she’s broken down. Written and directed by David Lowery, who made 2017’s Ghost Story.


Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted in the 1940s for his political views, deemed too leftish for McCarthy-era America. Despite having two Oscars in his writing credits – he wrote Roman Holiday and The Brave One – he was effectively a pariah and got by churning out scripts under a pseudonym for pulp fiction films. Trumbo (Netflix) beautifully captures the defiant writer, played by Breaking Bad’s Brian Cranston, in this tale of fear and intimidation and the cost of resisting political coercion.  

This is the story of when Kirk Douglas chose to work with Trumbo, despite the ban, and how it could have ended his career.

A Note on Books

On A Barbarous Coast

The retelling of Captain Cook’s journey and the ‘origin’ story of Australia is told from two perspectives in this imaginative and original novel. Harold Ludwick, a Bulgun Warra man who works as a guide and cultural historian, and is the recipient of a prestigious Encounters Fellowship with the National Museum of Australia, together with Craig Cormick, award-winning author and science communicator have crafted parallel narratives of the experience from the Indigenous and European perspectives. 

“On a night of raging winds and rain, Captain Cook’s Endeavour lies splintered on a coral reef off the coast of far north Australia. A small disparate band of survivors, fracturing already, huddle on the shore of this strange land – their pitiful salvage scant protection from the dangers of the unknown creatures and natives that live here.”

“Watching these mysterious white beings, the Guugu Yimidhirr people cannot decide if they are ancestor spirits to be welcomed – or hostile spirits to be speared. One headstrong young boy, Garrgiil, determines to do more than watch and to be the one to find out what exactly they are.”

On A Barbarous Coast by Craig Cormich and Harold Ludwick

A Note on the Pandemic

We all need a break from thinking and reading about the pandemic, and that comes next. This article from The Atlantic is a devastating account of the US experience of the coronavirus with an enormous number of cases and growing death toll.

A Note on 2020 Films

BBC Culture’s film critics Nicholas Barber and Caryn James pick the best films so far for 2020 in this list that includes The Personal History of David Copperfield written and directed by Armando Iannucci, The Hunt, The Assistant and Emma. And on the subject of Austen, in this episode of ABC’s The Book Show, three authors – Lucy Worsley, Karen Tei Yamashita and Rachel Givney – reflect on the enduring popularity of Jane Austen.

A Note on Eight Days in Kamay Exhibition

A new exhibition on the first contact between the British onboard the Endeavour and the Gweagal people of Kamay (Botany Bay) at the State Library of New South Wales explores the first eight days and its ongoing impact. Eight Days in Kamay, which coincides with the 250th anniversary of Cook and the Endeavour‘s landing, and features original sketches and journals from the expedition contextualised by Gweagal knowledge. The exhibition is open until February 2021 and is also available online, which suits the times.

A Note on The Sound

Live music has taken a hammering with the pandemic virtually extinguishing live events. This new music show from the ABC, The Sound, fills a bit of a gap bringing live filmed performances of Australian musicians in a new weekly show. It delves into the archives with classic performances from bands like Midnight Oil and The Divinyls, tributes to musicians past and tracks from new and emerging musicians. 

Photo credit: Photo by Will Malott on Unsplash

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Rosalyn Page
Journalist, blogger and writer covering arts, culture, travel and digital lifestyle at www.rosalynpage.com and www.somenotesfromabroad.com.

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