Friday, 29 June 2018

The best bits of "Picnic at Hanging Rock" miniseries (2018)

  1. Werribee Park ('Appleyard College') is the undoubted star of the show. The buildings are part of a museum and hotel (Werribee Mansion and Spa), 35 km from Melbourne.  Honourable mention: Ripponlea ('Lakeview House') in Elsternwick (an inner Melbourne suburb).
  2. Cinematography (although I think they ODed on the fog machine).
  3. Natalie Dormer is incredibly watchable, a much younger (but with more demons) Mrs Appleyard (played by Rachel Roberts in the 1975 film). Loved the mini-sunglasses.
  4. Yael Stone (Lorna Morello in "Orange is the New Black") - unrecognisable as the sycophantic Dora Lumley).
  5. Inez Curro (the orphan Sara) - a breakout performance -  that deadly stare!

This miniseries has received mixed reviews. The action is drawn-out and repetitive. Probably 4 episodes would have been sufficient.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

"Macbeth" by Jo Nesbo - The Scottish Ploy

This is one of the latest adaptations in the Hogarth Shakespeare project.
It must have sounded good at the time - Scandi-noir adapting Tartan-noir. What a ploy to get thriller fans queuing at the nearest Waterstones.
Och, it is such a yawn. At over 500 pages, it never seems to end.
I fondly remember the modest film from 1955, "Joe Macbeth" -  American gangsters, Sid (Carry On) James as "Banky"/Banquo.
Nothing new here. This bloated effort features some cringe-worthy dialogue and tedious plotting.
Initially it's fun - the setting is a dismal 1970's industrial wasteland/doomed city - very dystopian.
Hecate (and the weird sisters) manufacture "brew" (SWAT boss-Macbeth's drug of choice, as well as most of the town). Lady Macbeth is "Lady", an ex-madam, now running Inverness's classiest casino. Both Macbeth and Lady were sexually abused as children. Does this account for their psychosis and lust for power?
But it's soooo drawn out. There is a cliched subplot with Duff having an affair with forensic officer, Caithness (female in the book) and the Mayor (of this 70's Gotham) is called Tourtell (which accounts for a lame joke toward the end of the book).
Please, Mr Nesbo, keep your novels set in Norway. The one set in Sydney, Australia ("The Bat") is another case in point.

If you want a decent Shakespeare adaptation, try Edward St Aubyn's take on "King Lear" - "Dunbar".

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Applying for a Letter of Probate without a solicitor (Australia). Save at least $1000

Most people go straight to a legal firm or trustee company, probably whoever is holding the will of the deceased. This is not necessary in most cases. You can spend $1500 - $2000 on an average estate (not including Supreme Court costs, see below).
Request the will, if it is held by a solicitor. The funeral director organises the death certificate.
With these two documents, you are ready to do-it-yourself.
You need:

  • Original Will
  • Death Certificate
  • A computer and printer
  • Application forms (filled in by typing or clearly printed)
  • Advertisement (see below)
  • DIY Probate kit suitable for your state/territory (recommended but not essential)

If you live in the state of Victoria, Australia, paste this in your browser:

Other states or territories will have similar sites.

Supreme Court of Victoria website is clear to follow, set out step-by-step. For extra help and tips, you can buy a D.I.Y Probate Kit online that includes stationery and application form templates according to a wide variety of cases - e.g. original executors, substituted (in the event of death) executors, multiple executors and beneficiaries.
The Supreme Court gives you a link to LibreOffice (used for entering in your application for probate that you simply print out and take to the Probate Office in Melbourne).

Costs (in Victoria, as of June 2018):

Advertising your intention to apply for probate through the Supreme Court website) $45.50
Application fee (paid on the day you go to the Probate Office)  $320

Optional D.I.Y. (I used Legal Kits of Victoria) guide $99 + $15 postage (money well spent)

In my situation I found the only tricky part was finding out the full names and addresses of witnesses to the will (written nearly 40 years ago, it there were two indistinct signatures). However, my father's solicitors had this information on file and emailed me this (at no cost).
The staff at the Melbourne Probate Office (Level 2, 436 Lonsdale Street) were friendly, helpful and not intimidating to a legal-newbie like myself. Note, the office is only open on weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.