peteg's blog

Oldboy

/noise/movies | Link

Still #72 in the IMDB top-250. I wonder what the Spike Lee remake is like.

The Wind Rises

/noise/movies | Link

At the Logan Theatre, another of Chicago's quaint old cinemas. The screen was a bit small but the tickets are super-cheap: just $5.75 before 6pm.

This anime is a celebration of the life of an engineer, which doesn't seem too common a theme; most in this vein are about scientists. I'm told this is a kiss off from Hayao Miyazaki. I haven't seen much of his other stuff but this was visually awesome; some of the scenery evoked Anders Zorn-quality mastery for me. Did the rivets make that much of a difference?

Dana Stevens has a lot more to say about it than I do.

Ernest & Celestine

/noise/movies | Link

At the beautiful, ancient Music Box Theatre in Southport, Chicago — somewhere up the brown line. It was cold out. I bought a ticket to Jodorowsky's Dune. "Right past the concession stand," says the box office bloke, done up in bowtie and pleasant formality. Suffice it to say that if you turn right at the old concession stand you'll end up in the main theatre where this French kids' animation is showing. It's quite funny, but I should have twigged when I saw families checking out the organ on the left of the stage. Oh well. The American voice cast would have made for a decent live-action version, I reckon: imagine Forest Whitaker as a bear in shambolic Tom Waits mode, and Lauren Bacall as a stern and fearful orphanage matron. William H. Macy might lack the anti-charisma to play the head dentist, though his voice was perfect.

I'll head back to this theatre in a few weeks to see The Unknown Known. Tickets are cheap.

The Lego Movie

/noise/movies | Link

Everything is awesome. Everything is cool when you're part of a team...
Not the theme song of a well-known world-class workplace.

At the Wabash Landing 9 cinema, right near my hotel in West Lafayette, at their 6:50pm session. The place was quaint: a neon wilderness, a clean but unrefurbished concession stand. Free soda refills and more popcorn for 50 cents. Wow. The movie started fairly promptly around 7pm after only a couple of shorts.

The animation was tops and everyone was funny, including Will Ferrell. I guess I got what I payed for, all $10 of it. Presently at #178 on the IMDB top-250, which seems a bit too high.

A. O. Scott at the New York Times did not really get into it. Dana Stevens got all misty-eyed over the terminal sentimentalism; I'll take that as another instance of the cultural divide.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

/noise/movies | Link

In Indianapolis, at the Keystone Art Cinema in the up-market fashion strip mall. Apparently this is where Indianapolis's Apple store is, but I never saw it. There was much talking during the movie, and clapping at the end; completely packed on this, the opening night.

I'd seen the the short of this Wes Anderson flick so many times over the Australian summer that I feared I'd seen all the good bits already. There's a huge cast, and it is quite fun and funny; even more broadly than his usual quirky stuff, I'd say. He stuffs the early shots with ephemera, making me think that the whole movie would be cluttered, but it opens up in the second half. As always, his sense of humour sometimes borders on the twee, but he's also a formalist — he pops the stack of stories, for instance. The sets are top-notch, and the use of expletives is superb.

Many actors are cast against type: Adrien Brody is quite evil, though Willem Dafoe is like a cartoon version of his character from Wild at Heart: he's had a long apprenticeship in malevolence. Jude Law anchors things. Ralph Fiennes inhabits M. Gustave. Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel... everyone has fun. There is some fine work on the accents (i.e. approximately no effort), especially from Ed Norton as a proto-Gestapo. This is probably my favourite effort from Tilda Swinton. The Persian cops it in the neck. Overall it's up there with Fantastic Mr Fox as the best thing he's done.

Dana Stevens pulls it apart, and fair enough too. A. O. Scott reviewed it for the New York Times.

The Thin Red Line

/noise/movies | Link

Certainly worth a rewatch after three years.

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Late morning snorkel at Gordons Bay, from the south side. Just near where I last saw them were about seventeen squid, including some large ones. I paddled across the bay and discovered a huge number of presumably recently-spawned tiny little fellers. Quite pleasant in and decent visibility.

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Midday snorkel off the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. Those squid from yesterday must have told their mates to meet me just east of the ramp — seven of the cute little things were just hanging there in the water against a sandy backdrop, and even seemed to acknowledge my presence but didn't run away. Some large gropers but not the big blue bloke.

Gideon Lewis-Kraus: A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful

/noise/books | Link

I picked this up on the strength of Lewis-Kraus's review of Clune's White Out in the New Yorker (blog!). He can write, but has he got anything to say? Well yes, but has he got anything to say about anything except himself?

I liked the time in Berlin, though it was a bit too much a-gentleman-never-tells about the women he spends all his time with; could we at least have a personality to go with a name? Is even that too much to say? The Camino part was the best of the pilgrimages. Shikoku was tedious and painful, and the concluding Hasidic Jewfest in the Ukraine is a continuous slide into bathos; p285 makes it sound like an academic conference. I want to like this bloke — he did get me onto White Out and he writes like a demon — but there's not much here.

Some random comments. Circa p192: he makes pilgrimages sound like PhDs, with some expectation that the payoff will come in the form of a partner, which does not resonate with his earlier ideas of personal growth. His observations about loneliness are cliched. James Caviezel: "Are you lonely?" Sean Penn: "Only around people." — The Thin Red Line (1998). Spot on, though, and it was the same for me in Saigon.

p216 too much choice: didn't you read Barry Schwartz? What did you learn from Richard Rorty? p30: defensible reasons for doing stuff, spot on, though not spectacularly original:

It's okay to do something self-indulgent if it also hurts. [...] It's okay to do most things for the sake of a job, and it's to do anything for the sake of a mutual protection racket. All this giving of reasons is exhasuting, and the vast majority of them are ex post facto anyway. It would be so much easier and more honest if we could all just let each other get away with saying that we felt like it.

Yeah, mutual protection racket is family-as-ghetto. After-the-fact justification is called abduction, son, and it is a very old idea. What's true here is not new, but I'm not going to complete that thought.

I liked this relationship with his brother. As the Ukraine bit is so weak I never got a grip on his Dad as anything but a gay man and terrible father; no idea what sort of rabbi he was. Lewis-Kraus also suffers from the same weak moral drawing that he slags other writers off for. p297: David Byrne's Once in a Lifetime. Something was in the air.

Lewis-Kraus does not canvas volunteerism as a source of meaning, or a reasonable justification to go on an extended holiday; in other words, this is not informed travel writing ala Paul Theroux. Oscar Wilde's stories made me want to write and this book makes me not want to take a long secular religious walk.

Reviews: Colm Tóibín at Guardian gets it about right. Some bloke at The Rumpus identifies many of its weaknesses but wishes them away. You did notice the narcissism! For why else do you remark upon it? I guess this is Gen Y excusing Gen Y. Arthur House at the Telegraph is brave enough to call it as it is. I note the dearth of reviews from the usual U.S. sources, you know, the ones he writes articles for.

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Late afternoon snorkel at Gordons Bay. Pretty good visibility for the most part. I got in on the south side, from my perennial paddling launch point, and immediately saw a pod of about five small squid doing their thing. Huge eyes on small bodies, skirts going like mad, and all the usual acrobatics. I saw a solitary one nearby on my way back from the eastern end of those southern rocks. Lots of small fry and the odd big one. Haven't seen a mature groper for a while.

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Peaceful late-afternoon snorkel around Little Bay. Quite a few people there. Good visibility; saw lots of juveniles, particularly goatfish, and some really tiny things I couldn't identify. Many larger garfish. Quite pleasant once in.

The Necks at Sydney Opera House.

/noise/music | Link

I bought a ticket back when I thought I'd have more time than I do. Chris Abrahams on the piano was the draw, and his collaborators — Tony Buck on drums and Lloyd Swanton on bass — were also excellent. I really enjoyed the washed out ambience of the first set, while the second was a bit more insistent and harder to space out to. They pulled a far bigger crowd than I would have expected. The light show was beautifully subtle, especially a fade to black at one point.

/travels/Motorcycle | Link

I sold Betts today to a lady learner from Earlwood. She was accompanied by her vintage-Harley-restoring bloke, who makes his money building electrical substations when he can, and as a general electrician when he can't. "Runs as advertised," he said, after taking her for a short ride. "Does it come with the milk crate?" she asked.

It's not the time to sell, being the end of summer, and the weather is crap, and the market seems to be flooded with CB250s of all vintages, and I was and am in a hurry, and so I had to take a haircut on what I was hoping for: I got $2500 cash on the spot. Very sad to see her go.

/travels/Motorcycle | Link

Soon lane splitting will be legal in New South Wales. About time — but I think that 30kph is a bit on the fast side.

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Early-evening lazy snorkel off the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. Visibility was far better than yesterday; I saw loads of fish of all kinds, but still no squid.

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Very brief early-evening paddle off the southern rocks at Gordons Bay for the first time in a long while after this spell of rain. The water was pretty murky and full of plant material. I saw several small stingrays and not much more.

New specs

/noise | Link

Well, it's been almost twelve years since I lost my original black Emporio Armani's in the Bay of Islands and bought some semi-identical blue ones in Auckland. They finally succumbed to metal fatigue on Monday as I was fetching food for the people at NICTA; roughly I'd been banging my motorcycle helmet into them for the past year or so, and while I expected the concomitant straightening to do the weld at the bridge in, it was in fact the bit that holds the right lens in place that finally came adrift. At Jacob's suggestion I went and did business with the ladies at Out of Sight Eyewear on King St, Newtown, who instantly recognised my need by the bodged tape job. Dave helped Fiona pick me out a couple of pairs of frames: one prodesign stainless steel from Denmark, and some not-quite-Superman/Supergeek plastics from Paul&Joe, France. My prescription had not changed. Now to upgrade the rest of the wardrobe.

Dallas Buyers Club

/noise/movies | Link

With Dave at the Verona's 9.10pm session. Very thin audience. There is indeed more to it than the trailer. Matthew McConaughey is great, as are Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto. I liked it, and its lack of subtlety might even have been a strength.

The Talented Mr Ripley

/noise/movies | Link

I saw this a long time ago, maybe even at the cinema. Jude Law is at the height of his powers, and Anthony Lane is not wrong to cite this as one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's finest outings. I found Philip Baker Hall a bit stiff as the private dick; he's better as the avuncular but damaged game show host in Magnolia.

Silver Linings Playbook

/noise/movies | Link

A little Wes Anderson, a little Tarantino. Bradley Cooper was better in American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence is better here. Ah yes, she got an Oscar for it. Lots of nice little touches, including casting Julia Stiles as her sister. de Niro is same-old. John Ortiz returns for another bout of bromance.