How did you arrive at a collection that symbolises you and your tastes?
Oh, that's a great question. I have watched so much of SBS On Demand, so it didn't take me long to think of at least 10 titles. I feel like not everything should have the same vibe; sometimes you want to watch a movie. Sometimes you want something that's historical, or funny and irreverent. I basically went from my gut instinct; what are the things I've totally loved? And then I looked at them and I thought, okay, is there a nice variety in there? Especially in this lockdown time, you just need different kind of emotional ways and ways to connect to different content and take your mind out of where it is.
So how do you stream things?
I actually Chromecast everything from my phone. So my TV now is just like a big monitor. But sometimes I really feel like the intimacy of watching something on my laptop. Sometimes I'll be like, ‘You know what? I'm just going to watch something while I'm snuggled up in bed. It's a different kind of experience to watching in a more open public space. It totally, absolutely depends on the content.
And are you a completist? Like, if you start something you have to finish it through?
I'm in a really bad phase at the moment. And I think it's just like epitomises where my brain's at with with lockdown, where I'm kind of starting things and not finishing, I kind of can't concentrate as much, but if I get invested in a series, I'm a total completist. and I love rewatching movies and series. I'm a huge believer in rewatching because you know, the plot, you know, what's going to happen, you know, the characters and it enables you to kind of go a little bit deeper into something, notice different things about maybe styling or cinematography or why you like something, or maybe you've changed your mind about a character. And I also think it gives you the opportunity to not have to concentrate as much. You can watch something you've watched before, in the background. Like you don't have to concentrate as much and try and figure out what's going on.
Why Women Kill
Why Women Kill has brought me so much joy. It is so funny. You could say it's a drama, it's kind of a black comedy: Three main female characters set in different eras, in the '60s, one in the '80s, one now, and visually it's just amazing. The acting is incredible, but I've just got to say, Lucy Liu, is just so irreverent and so funny and a woman who totally owns her space and owns her identity without apology. And whoever was the styling director or got to do all the wardrobe: What an amazing job. They've just nailed it.
It's seriously the most fantastic series and I'm actually watching it a second time with a friend, virtually. So we'll line up an episode together, and watch it at the same time, press play at the same time and then text each other throughout the episode and chat about what's going on. And it's a really lovely way to sort of connect to, I think, with other women, particularly at the moment. It's so much fun. And it's interesting to see what things come out in the text chat. You'll find that you pick up on the same things, and it's lovely because I've watched it all the way through and my friend hasn't and it's quite lovely knowing what's coming up and excited for her to see what her reaction will be, because I've seen it before.
Season 1 of Why Women Kill is streaming as a box set at SBS On Demand. Start here:
99 Homes is a tough watch but I feel like it gives a different perspective on things. I like that it was made in 2014, but it feels like it was written for the 2008-era when the housing crisis happened in the US, and we heard these names, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I love when something that I consider to be huge societal issue or a huge news story, or a huge shift in the world has taken place, and it's then dramatised. I really, really like that space because I feel like it's a space where different audiences can be enlightened to an issue through a different lens, not necessarily reading analysis in The New York Times, but watching a film like 99 Homes.
So this is basically the premise of the story: A man is evicted from his home because he can't make the mortgage payments. He has this humiliating scene where he's literally kicked out and all his stuff and his family is on the lawn. He then tries to get his job back and tries to get some money. And he can't make that happen. He ends up working for a man who evicts people from their homes. So the tables turn and the cast is brilliant. Michael Shannon is the main character. He's just got that face- I hate to say, it's a sort of slightly uncomfortable untrustworthiness- and he just carries this role so well. I've noticed in a lot of the scenes where it's really uncomfortable and he's really making other people uncomfortable, and having to make kind of choice points in his life, they feel really close. And it, it feels nearly too intimate. Like, you just don't want to be that close to someone whose values and morals are totally skewed yet you kind of look at it and go, 'Okay. If I was in that situation, like what choice do you have when you can't pay the bills?'
It's the most fascinating film and I've watched it probably about four times now because there's something about it that's quite brave.
Watch 99 Homes at SBS On Demand
I am obsessed with submarine films and submarine stories, with the claustrophobia and the courage it takes to go down in this sealed off vessel. I just have always been obsessed with submarine stuff. The thing that really surprised me about Das Boot is that sometimes I wonder, have I watched every single possible take on WWII that I could have ever watched? But I was actually amazed at how invested I was in this series.
The character that really stands out to me is a young man who sits on the radio; he sits with his headphones, listening for propellers in the water, for how far away an enemy submarine might be. These scenes unfold nearly minute-by-minute, The sense of the claustrophobia and the submarine, is absolutely incredible. I remember that feeling when you get toward the end of the series and you're thinking, 'No, I don't want this to end'. I remember having that feeling so clearly, and I wish funnily enough, there was a German word for that. I love the feeling when you've seen a series and someone's yet to see it -or a movie- and you're kind of slightly envious that they get to go through the experience that you've had, and they don't know what they're about to go through. That's kind of how I feel about Das Boot.
Courage is a really important value in life and also in creativity and to have something commissioned, which would be high budget, a storyline that's been told before, many times, I think it's really brave because you have to tell it in a different way. You have to make the characters really compelling. You have to really take the audience to a place where they think they know, but they don't. I feel like there's a lot of courage in commissioning a series like this and in finding the right characters and actors to pull it off. It's just, really, really, really great.
So why the fascination with submarines?
I sometimes think I've watched every submarine thing I could have watched. What can I watch now? So then I'll end up watching how submarines sink down into the water. How do submarines float back up? You know, the educational things on YouTube. And of course I was obsessed with the Kursk submarine disaster, everyone was. I just can't imagine the fear. I've always been quite taken by these stories of men -that's just gender wise, how it's worked out- but men and young men often who basically kind of sign themselves up to what is highly likely to be a one-way ticket. Whether it's in a submarine on a boat or in a plane; there's something about that kind of vulnerability about strong men putting themselves out there to never know if they're coming back. So for me, the submarine, and, probably, a rocket going to the moon, are the two things that feel the most compelling in that space because he just can't escape. You can't just go, 'I'm having enough of this. I'm going to jump off the boat and try and swim'. They just don't have that option.
Seasons 1 & 2 of Das Boot are streaming as box sets at SBS on Demand. Start here:
Borgen is the story of an amazing woman who starts out as a politician, and by the end of the first episode of the first season, she is potentially the Prime Minister.
I've got the biggest girl crush on (star) Sidse Babett Knudsen. She's just so fantastic, and her acting is so incredible. I can't believe that she's not that character. What I love about Borgen is that it's political drama [with] all the kind of backroom deals and getting people across the line and getting support to your party, all that's there. But, to me, it's actually not really about that. Yes, it's about a woman becoming a prime minister, but to be honest in Denmark, women holding positions of power, isn't the big deal it would be here.
What I really love about the series actually, is the insight you get into Danish life. She and her family live in a very normal house, they don't have security guards outside because she's suddenly the prime minister. She's juggling raising a couple of kids. She's juggling a marriage that's kind of not working. She's very normal. The whole thing is very normal. I found the narrative really different to how we communicate generally with each other here in Australia. The way men seem to talk to each other is very different. There's quite a high EQ; a lot of the men in the series speak about their feelings a bit and they're quite in touch with the emotional touch points of their life. I found that side of things to be nearly more compelling than the drama that unfolds in terms of this woman's political career. And there is an incredible woman who is just a woman, who's allowed to be a woman and has to be tough and has to be strong, but is also allowed to be vulnerable. She's just the most relatable woman, a really beautifully relatable, real character.
It's such a great series. I'll put it out there: It's probably one of the best political dramas I've ever seen.
Insight has been the biggest privilege to work on. I feel so grateful. It's a show with such a legacy and the team behind it is incredible. They are such a dynamic team, such a diverse range of ideas.
It takes courage to tell your story, to share things that are often uncomfortable and Insight provides such an amazing space for that. We talk a lot about the privilege of navigating people's stories. We all have stories. We all have something to say, most of us have at least one or two things that we're not as comfortable with. And a lot of people don't have a safe space to kind of tease out what those ideas are, thing they live with, that aspect of their life that might bring a little bit more shame, or something we haven't talked about before. Ultimately I feel like studio space is one I'm so grateful exists, because of the conversations that can be had in there in safe, respectful way.
There are so many episodes that I would recommend you catch up on. I couldn't pick favourites, but I would probably say, one of the ones that has been the most popular and the one that's being watched continually, month after month, after month. after month, On Demand is Adult ADHD. This says to me that there just isn't enough understanding out there about adults who live with this condition. It also says to me that there's a word of mouth thing going on, which is just fantastic. ‘Hey, I saw this episode on SBS. You should catch up on it’. So we still get messages. Now, after nearly six months after that show went to air, about adult ADHD, a gentleman messaged me the other day saying he'd caught up on it. And he realised that he'd been living with this for his whole life and his whole life has now changed and he was crying and so grateful and stuff like that really, really makes us feel like we've done a great job.
A recent issue episode that I just found so compelling was one called Life Undercover, which is people, particularly, police officers who worked as undercover police officers, the kind of impact on their life. What is it like to live a lie? What is it like to live as another person? What are the sort of ethical and moral boundaries around that? So that one, I found particularly interesting because I feel like all of us carry different faces throughout life. We present different parts of ourselves, depending on what scenario we're in.
Insight is the best show. I've got to say that, but I believe it. There are so many great episodes to catch up on, on demand. It's a good, less-than-an-hour out of your day, just to kind of take your head out into different things.
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