Saturday, 29 July 2017

"Top of the Lake: China Girl" Review

The first season back in 2013 was a muddled masterpiece - great cast and atmospheric New Zealand locales. Jane Campion's Sydney-based opus is a hot mess.
Nothing rings true. The dialogue is clunky. The characters are unbelievable and unsympathetic. Yes, I get the 'misogyny takes many guises' message. I don't need to be hit over the head with it (the sniggering police recruits, the slimy geeks in the cafe, Mary's smarmy boyfriend Puss - or should that be Pus).
The situations are unreal, rather than quirky. What was the space helmet bit in Miranda's kitchen all about? If I want surreal, I can go to the sublime "Twin Peaks".
Any good stuff?
The bobbing suitcase, Clayton Jacobson's easygoing persona, Jane Campion's daughter, Nicole Kidman's frizzy grey coiff.

Episode 2 (not directed by Campion) was an improvement due to the N.Z. flashback, interesting plot twists and two standout scenes - Robin vs Julia (poor hubby Pyke) and Robin meeting Mary.
Ray, the Medical Examiner (Geoff Morrell), is stealing every scene he is in. I'm warming to Elizabeth Moss's understated performance.
Random weird stuff:
  • The New Zealand police acting like 6 year olds on the suspension bridge.
  • Miranda's 'open-door' therapy.
Episode 3's florid highlights:
  • The overwrought restaurant scene complete with embarrassed customers, the 'c-bomb' and Alexander's chandelier rant. Terrific seeing Marg Downey ("Fast Forward", "Kath & Kim") as Julia's partner. She seems to be typecast as the new age nutbag.
  • The return of David Wenham (Al Parker) - wheelchair bound Bond villain transforms into Hitchcockian psycho-killer.
Episode 4 (the nose-biting ep).
No mention of Parker's fate, just more cringeworthy developments.
Just when you thought Alexander couldn't get more detestable, he excels himself at the Father-Daughter bash; then pimps out Mary. The show defies logic. The nose biting scene got more gratuitous by being set on a nudist beach with sweeping views of Sydney's skyline.

Episode 5 (Jane Campion is back in the director's chair) - 59 minutes of my life I will never get back. More tortuous dialogue, implausible situations and a "Taxi Driver"-like denouement that you could see coming mid episode.

Episode 6 (final)
The Bondi Beach manhunt was another unbelievable scene. Why hide on the beach on a 35 degree day?  Because it was cinematic, that's why.
"Top of the Lake: China Girl" should have been a four-parter at the most. This story of loss, parenthood and surrogacy could have been more economically told. The production was ham-fisted and ponderous.

P.S. Small quibble: How could Alexander get a bag of bottled water through airport security?

Monday, 3 July 2017

Australia's best hotel club lounge?

Sofitel Melbourne On Collins has the best club lounge experience in Australia in our humble opinion. Forget The Langham, Pullman hotels or the Crystal Room in Crown - the views, choice of food and beverage are better at Club Sofitel. 
Good old Melbourne Sofitel still has the option of serve-yourself drinks (beer, cider, wine and premium spirits or staff will bring your preferred tipple to you (between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.). Evening canapes is more like a 3 course meal: 2 or 3 hot dishes, seafood (usually king prawns and/or oysters), gourmet salads, sushi, cheeses, bread, antipasto, desserts and a chocolate/Turkish Delight/nougat platter to finish.
A light lunch and afternoon tea (Le Gouter) is also complimentary. Breakfast is an elaborate affair with a full buffet as well as a la carte menu (no extra charge).
Staff are friendly and efficient without being cloying.
The lounge is on the 35th floor (hotel rooms are from level 36 to 50) with sweeping views of the city.
Sydney and Brisbane Sofitel are great, but Melbourne's club ticks more boxes.
Visit the gym after all this indulgence. Pamper yourself with the high tech massage chairs.

View from reception desk

Light lunch, dessert to follow - views toward Parliament House
Some of evening food options 
A range of premium spirits available
Lunch buffet
Chicken and king prawn salad - is this a 'light lunch' (as described by Sofitel)?

Gas fireplace

The club is L-shaped with separate rooms for meetings/reading/games. Shower facilities available
A la carte breakfast - Poached egg on wilted spinach and field mushroom, truffle sauce and rosti potato
Delicious lunch treats