netflix: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America 2 seemed as good a test as any for watching a movie on Netflix. I haven’t watched the first Captain America movie, but as with all good blockbuster sequels, they’ve worked hard to make this unnecessary.

Lots of namedropping of other pieces of the Marvel universe, this is a Chris Evans / Scarlett Johansen buddy adventure of sorts: there are plenty of other characters kicking around, but it’s mostly a sequence of five-minute set pieces thrown together.

If you’re looking for a series of well-shot action sequences and hero rhetoric, of if you’re a particular fan of the character (I’m not really a big fan), you’ll enjoy it.

The Netflix platform seems really solid in Australia: instant buffering, the interface of the app and across devices works well, and it’s easy to use. I’m keen to see what impact this has in the wider streaming ecosystem, and what impact it has on other interfaces and membership sites.

Dear Delicious, Dulwich Hill

Dear Delicious, Dulwich Hill

Dear Delicious coffee. 245 Wardell Rd, Dulwich Hill (near the train station). Found this one via Google – I thought someone had mentioned a new place in Dulwich Hill, but I couldn’t remember much detail: sorry if you were the one who told me about it! Easy to find, and being a Sunday afternoon, relatively easy to find parking nearby. 

Where the magic happens - Dear Delicious, Dulwich Hill

We arrived near the end of the shift for the week, looking for a snack and some beverages. Sadly, this meant we were missing the core strength of the cafe: sustainably produced local foods – the plates on adjacent tables looked delicious, but that’s for another visit.

Dear Delicious, Dulwich Hill 

The chia pudding (with activated almonds, sugar coated chia seeds, and macerated strawberries), though, was delicious: great blend of textures and flavours. I wasn’t as sure about my own first choice of beverage: the mug of cocoa nibs and vanilla was a bit too subtle for my ageing palette: for what I was after, I think I should have ordered the hot chocolate!

The cold drip coffee was well put together – the flavours coming through well: it’s a small rig near the counter, the waitress looking across to see if there was any available.

Flat white: Dear Delicious, Dulwich Hill

Coffee itself is pleasant enough: the flat white was perfectly fine, well presented. A worthy option in the Dulwich Hill scene.

Humber, Wollongong

White Horse Coffee. 226 Crown St, Wollongong. If you haven’t been to the Crown St Mall and surrounds recently, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Lots of construction work has finished, there’s more parking, and there are new premises open, like this one: Humber, just beyond the Crown St Mall on the railway station end.

Humber, Wollongong

 It’s a pleasant fit-out with lots of rivets and wood in the finish. We bring the kids along, and after a while perched on the too-high-for-toddlers benches, a table is cleared and we relocate them to some cushions on a windowsill, where they’re much more comfortable.

Humber, Wollongong

There are staff on the floor to make sure you’re seated in the cafe, and bring you menus, but it’s order and pay at the counter, and table numbers are handed out. Staff are patient and friendly with the crowded nature of the place: the tables-for-two err on the side of too small for one of the generous mains each and a side to share (though if you can finish that much food, you’re doing well).

Humber, Wollongong

The coffee setup is impressive: there’s a moccamaster behind the espresso machine, and a cold-drip rig (not running on the day I visit). Plenty of potential here as the staff find their feet over the next  weeks and months.

where the magic happens, Humber, Wollongong

Perhaps tellingly for how many espressos I’ve been having lately, I could tell how this one was going to taste. You can tell that the White Horse coffee beans has made the journey in one piece, but not all espressos are created equal: this one is a little too long, and the crema dissipates a little too fast.

espresso: Humber, Wollongong

 Lots of potential here: looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

Official website: humber.bar

apple TV – Frost : Nixon

Apple TV: Frost/Nixon 

I’d added this to my wishlist a long while back, having heard good things about Michael Sheen turning in another transformative performance, and Frank Langella’s Nixon. I’m a few years too young to know much of Nixon except – as the movie points out towards the end – the tendency we have today of adding the suffix “gate” to everything.

Director Ron Howard somehow makes a two-hour long movie about the making of a series of TV interviews into something highly watchable, engaging, and ultimately a story about two very different personalities, and about legacy and ambition. 

If you’re curious about the historical period, or a fan of Howard’s direction, or Sheen (or – for that matter – Sam Rockwell, who has a tidy little side part with a couple of scenes), or would like to see Kevin Bacon as an ex-military aide, it’s worth a look.

DVD: Whiplash (2014)

I was really looking forward to Whiplash – I tried to catch while it was still at the movies, but it was a time of transition for me, and it was harder than I thought to grab a couple of hours (not to mention finding someone to go with me).

But once a movie is on DVD in wide release, it’s much easier to track down and carve out some time, albeit in a second-screen way. And so I didn’t bring the single-mindedness of attention to taking in the film that I was hoping. Which is a shame, as it’s a film that celebrates what can be accomplished with single-minded focus on a single task.

If scenes of an authority figure shouting at his terrified followers are upsetting to you, or you’re not a fan of swearing, you’ll want to avoid it, but if you’re a fan of drumming, good cinematography, and a riveting (and Oscar winning) performance from J.K. Simmons, then it will repay the investment of time.

book: gospel patrons

Gospel Patrons book cover

Book: Gospel Patrons – history remembers the people who changed the world, but tends to gloss over how they were able to do the things for which they’re remembered. John Rinehart in this work makes the case for taking seriously the notion of financial support for endeavours to spread the Christian message. It’s a quick read, but tells the story of people who took personal risks just to support what was being done in different parts of the world. 

Finbox, Thirroul

Fin Box, Bulli

White Horse Coffee. 269 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul. What started out as a surfboard store has grabbed the shop next door and incorporated a cafe selling a mix of White Horse (espresso) and Coal (cold brew) coffee.

Fin Box, Bulli

The emphasis is on coffee rather than food, though there are a few choices. The decor is simple – a feature has been made of the square tiles, and a few take-home items to buy (the wooden iPhone covers and cactus boxes are impressive little talking points.

Fin Box, Bulli

The feature wall has a large diagram of how to disarm someone who is carrying a coffee: hopefully it’s a skill you don’t need to develop.

If you’re in the neighbourhood in search of a good coffee, this place delivers a pleasant short stay.

movie: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Casting Colin Firth as the James Bond character in a film is unexpected – watching him balance the action film moves and immaculate dress of an English gentleman makes for an impressive basis for a film. It’s a film that makes some progress against gender stereotypes in spy films, with a female assassin alongside a Samuel L Jackson billionaire with a lisp.

All this is undermined, though, by a poorly judged sexist joke at the end of the film, which corresponds much more closely to the less enlightened days gone by.

Between that, and the characters that feel that they’re from a Guy Ritchie film, this is one to miss.