The Turning ... and The Ghost of Rock and Roll George Lives On.

Tim Winton is one of our favourite authors. Jodie and I have read all his books (including the Lochie Leonard kid's series) and eagerly anticipate the release of his next volume. Unfortunately, between surfing and wandering the organic foreshores of his beloved Western Australia, it usually takes Tim between four and seven years to satisfy our lust for his contemplation on life's twists and turns. His next book, Eyrie, is due for release on the 20th October.

In the mean time we were given a bonus that made the clock watching worthwhile. Australian film director Robert Connolly (Three Dollars, The Bank, Balibo) has been busily working away on a movie depiction of Winton's book of interlocked short stories, The Turning. Being the creative mind he is, Connolly not only organised the funding for his project, but convinced sixteen other directors to take on one of the short stories with him. They each were given the opportunity to select one of the stories, their own group of actors and turn it into eight and a half minutes of cinema.

The view of the Story Bridge and the Brisbane River from our room
The amazing fact is that the financial backers of this project went with Connolly's sales pitch even though in many cases the directors were first timers and the actors involved had not yet been selected. But I for one I am glad they did. This week, as a part of the month long Brisbane Festival, Connolly and fellow director, Yaron Lifschitz (artistic director and CEO of Circa Contemporary Circus), presented a premiere of the film at the Centro Cinema in Fortitude Valley.

In an attempt to bring punters back to the cinema, this three hour celluloid feast, filled every seat in Centro's largest cinema. Complete with intermission, a fifty page, glossy program and a Q & A after the film with Connolly and Lifschitz, it certainly made lounge-room viewing of downloaded dvds (legal or illegal copies), at best mundane.

And at night
Winton's book, The Turning, is a complex compilation that explores the tricky coming of age years and then the fallout of the broken dreams that can eventuate, no matter how successfully you had navigated the pain of puberty. The imagery in these stories can be 'like through a glass darkly', but they are also hopeful, set in landscapes that are wild, dangerous and beautiful. Tim Winton seems to possess the ability to see life as the Australian Aborigines do, where people, landscape and spirit are inescapably intertwined as one.

Valley graffiti

Drawing on the talents of some of Australia's best actors, that include Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Miranda Otto, Richard Roxburgh and Hugo Weaving and many new and equally talented young actors, I feel that Connolly and his directive cohort have captured the essence of Winton's writing and shaped it in a way unimagined. Some of those attending this film had not read the book but they were still able to grab and understand the complexities of family and time lapse  that Winton explores and presents in this volume of work. The cinematography was a breathtaking. Combined with the soundtrack it highlighted the uniqueness of the character we call Australian.

The Turning opened nationally yesterday.

Sunrise over New Farm
And speaking of Australian character, early the next morning, during a walk around the city streets of  Brisbane, I spotted what I thought was a Brisbane icon cruising towards us. By the time I'd fumbled the Canon out of its bag all I could manage was a rear shot of the FX Holden, a car that I'd seen many times roaming the streets of Brisbane when I'd lived here in the '70s and '80s. But a quick Google reminded me that Rock and Roll George, the Greek bodgie from Brisbane's West End, had been laid to rest along with his famous FX Holden back in 2009. But like all great legends the ghosts live on.

A face I'd not seen before


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