Insights Summer Entertainment Guide 2023/4

Insights Summer Entertainment Guide 2023/4

With Christmas holidays upon us, there is no shortage of potential diversions. Insights came up with a short list of worthwhile ways we will spend our spare time.

Showing Up: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable, Nedd Brockman

Nedd Brockmann is a 24-year-old Australian tradie and former Kinross Wolaroi student who put his body ‘through hell and back 10 times’ to prove that anything is possible when you break past your own barriers and limitations. 

Nedd Brockmann has always dreamed big. His first huge feat of strength was a personal challenge of running 50 marathons in 50 days… just because. Having successfully completed this, his thoughts turned to how he could combine another big personal challenge with giving back. What came of this was a 4000-kilometre run across Australia, from Perth to Sydney, averaging 100 kilometres per day with the aim of completing it in the fastest known time of 43 days and raise a million dollars for the homelessness charity, Mobilise, in the process (he ended up raising $1.7 million). 

I was inspired to read this book when I first saw Nedd by chance via a video on TikTok. The video featured him crossing the finish line at Bondi Beach after his 4000km run. Even watching through a small screen, I could feel an impalpable energy from the crowd and from Nedd as he crossed the finish line. No one attempting a feat like that comes with a quiet and meek story, and ‘Showing Up’ is evident of this! 

This book is a very easy read with a few solid reminders for us all – there’s no harm in giving anything a go, to dream big and that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. This is a great book for those thinking about their hopes and goals for 2024. Watch Nedd reach the finish line here.

Genevieve Giles

Sydney Brutalism, Heidi Dokulil, Newsouth Publishing 

For a different summer activity, you could do a tour of Sydney’s brutalist architecture, guided by Heidi Dokulil’s book. Although, typically, Sydney was a little slow to catch on to the movement, there are some significant examples of the style, even if, also typically, governments have been rather cavalier in protecting this part of Sydney’s heritage. 

You could start with the Sydney Opera House. It may not be thought of as brutalist by everyone, but brutalism is not necessarily about, er, in-your-face ugliness. The term comes from the French word for ‘raw’, and, while there is a monumentality to it, brutalism showcases the raw materials of construction, usually concrete, but also brick and stone, not covered over by paint or other decorative embellishments. In the case of the Opera House, the base, often neglected but a significant part of the building, fits this criterion, and in places the complex engineered ribs of the sails are in view. 

At Circular Quay, yin to the Opera House’s yang is the Sirius building. While much maligned, when it was slated for demolition in the mid-2010s, admirers came out of the concrete-work. Not only did they argue for the architectural value of the building, which was heritage listed, but they argued, effectively, that it’s not just the rich who should have harbour views. Brutalism’s origins lay in the reconsideration of public buildings, and, in particular, public housing, and Sirius was a great example of this. Dominic Perrottet, for one, voiced his hatred for the building, and argued that the land would be better sold off to the wealthy, in an echo of previous battles over public housing in the Rocks, but Anthony Albanese argued, contrarily, that the building’s community was more valuable than mere land values. Sadly, while the building was saved through a long and large campaign, the residents were still evicted, and the current rejuvenation of the building will be a ruination of its architectural integrity. 

More successful has been the rejuvenation of Kuring-gai College in Lindfield, which has recovered some of the organic elements that work surprisingly well with brutalism. Brutalist buildings such as the grey Jenga stack of the UTS Tower are prominent, but in other cases native plantings have been used to soften and play with the concrete of projects. This extends to some private residences, such as the Seidler house in Killara. 

Other prominent brutalist examples are the Church of Saint Anthony, Marsfield, which has been described as like being inside a Sidney Nolan painting, the cresting wave of the Warringah Civic Centre, the CBC St Leonards Centre, which features the surprisingly common brutalist design of the upside-down ziggurat, and the Surry Hills Readers Digest Building, which has, to my eye, Mesoamerican elements. Then there is the new Punchbowl Mosque, where the stepped, scalloped concrete ceiling refers to Middle Eastern crescents and arches, with brutalism providing a sympathetic modernist update on the traditional Islamic honeycomb muqarnas architecture.

Nick Mattiske

Abroad In Japan, Chris Broad

Chris Broad left the UK a decade ago to start his new life in Japan. Since then, he has built a life in the Land of the Rising Sun. Initially there as an English language teacher with the JET program, he has since changed jobs and now has a successful YouTube channel and podcast. In his first book, Broad recounts what he has learnt.

Abroad in Japan is an in-depth but easy-to-read look at Japanese life. While there is a lot to learn, the tone is breezy and conversational. Broad peppers an in-depth look at Japanese culture, business, and expectations with his unique humour. 

As someone who has lived in the place for over 10 years, Broad is not someone who fetishes Japan, and his book explores some of the pluses and minuses of living in the complex society he has inhabited. And yet, his genuine love for the place and its people shines through.

Whether you are an expert at all things Japan, someone looking to travel for the first time, or only have a passing interest in things international, this book will have something to offer. The experience of reading Abroad In Japan is like spending time in someone else’s company, learning as you go.

Jonathan Foye

Jury Duty

This a reality show where there is one person that doesn’t know what’s going on and the rest of the cast are actors. What is fascinating about the show is the person who is clueless ends up being one of the nicest guys in the show.

Set inside a fake courtroom, the show follows Ronald, a guy who believes he’s participating in a documentary about jury duty but who is actually surrounded by actors roping him into progressively weirder scenarios. At points during the ten episodes there are multiple times that Ronald could have twigged to the whole scenario. Add to this the fact that actor James Marsden plays a dirtbag version of himself who asks Ronald to help him run over-the-top lines for an audition and a socially awkward juror named Todd (played by David Brown) becomes Ronald’s hotel-room neighbour when the jury is sequestered.

As Marsden explained in an interview at the time, “[The producers] said, ‘We want to create a hero’s journey for this man,’ and then we’ll go, ‘Hey, that was all fake!’ … Hopefully he doesn’t have a mental breakdown.”

Luckily for everyone, Ronald didn’t. A warmly funny experiment that isn’t cringeworthy and sticks its landing well.

Currently streaming with a subscription on Prime Video

Adrian Drayton


I am not normally a horror film lover, but the strange thing about this “killer doll on the rampage” film is that its not very scary. It is, however, very self-aware about its intentions in managing to explore some of the ideas with pointed commentary about parenting and hypervigilance, and about allowing technology to raise your children.

It is a rare horror franchise kick off that is as subversive as this film is. There’s also a particular reason why a particular scene went viral (that won’t be spoiled here), it’s so gloriously weird it’s the kind of meme the internet loves.

Currently streaming with a subscription on Netflix

Adrian Drayton

Talk Easy

I don’t understand how host Sam Fragoso does it. He’s an amazing researcher. His interviews are deep diving and interesting in the most complex and disarming way. He uncovers things like some kind of therapist. Out every week, he has interviewed a huge gamut of guests from actors to writers and other creatives. He should really teach a masterclass, he literally makes the interviews into an easy talk. Most conversations can be up to an hour and are without a doubt always engaging and enlightening.

Visit the website and you can view the huge breadth of people he has interviewed. The tag on the website simply says: “Founded in 2016, Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso is a weekly series of intimate conversations with artists, activists, and politicians. Where people sound like people.”

Simple, engaging and informative, this is my go to podcast and is highly recommended.

Talk Easy can be found where you listen to podcasts.

Adrian Drayton

Find more recommendations for the holidays

  • Want some good reads, find more Book Reviews here.
  • Find more from our Culture Watch section here.
  • Find more FIlm Reviews here.
  • Stumped for what to watch on Streaming, you can find some recommendations here.


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