peteg's blog

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

9pm-ish bathe at Coogee, waiting for the fireworks with Pete R. and family. Loads of people about. Flat as, quite clean, a tad cool but getting there.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

/noise/movies | Link

Take so many beautiful women on holiday and you've got to pay for it somehow. Woody Allen consciously projects his neuroses onto all of them, with Rebecca Hall coming off the worst; at least Cruz can hide behind her Spanish, and Scarlett Johansson some kind of libertine persona. Clarkson is all neurosis and no character. It really is tough at the top of the American pile, what with all that money to burn and golf to play. I'm beginning to understand why Pomeranz finds him misogynistic; in its favour, this is too vapid to cause much offense. I think he was/is trying for a triple here with Match Point and something else I haven't seen.

The Searchers

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Another John Ford / John Wayne collaboration. The little sense it makes is totally normative: at the end all's-well as the white girl-child is recovered from the Comanche camp and returned to some random family's shack, undergoing a change in attitude from steadfast anti-Waynery to please-take-me-home-good-sir off-screen. Wayne is hard here, unforgiving, but his Confederate backstory is left opaque and his conversion on the road to wherever answers the needs of plot but not character. There may well be a litany of awesome shots here, so look and don't think. I am not getting that truly-great movie feeling from these non-spaghetti Westerns; they might have Wayne but they don't have Ennio Morricone and Leone, or even (gasp) Eastwood.

Sneakers

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Yet another 1980s-esque computer movie. What a slide for Robert Redford, from All the President's Men and The Sting to this. River Phoenix is totally banal here, making me wonder what his big role was. Ben Kingsley is Julian Assange circa 1992, albeit with ties to organised crime instead of disaffected employees of Uncle Sam. David Strathairn does a good job as a blind hacker, but I don't know what James Earl Jones was thinking. This movie wears its political allegience on its sleave; the NSA et al are necessary evils to secure the U.S., but not things to pal up to, which is more than it says about the Republicans.

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

Late-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. Not as many people around as I would have expected, and parking was plentiful. The water is a bit cold below about half a metre. Completely flat, little wind and quite pleasant out. I just headed out into the middle of the bay in a singlet. I wish I'd taken the snorkeling gear as it seemed quite clean and it would have been a good day to head out to the bombora.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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A 1962 B-movie starring John Wayne and James Stewart, or maybe it's an A-movie made by John Ford; it is rated #249 in IMDB's top-250 after all. I found the bit characters to be much better than the leads, e.g. the newspaper editor must have been a fine stage actor, and the Swedish family deserved more attention than they got. Wayne and Stewart are supposed to epitomise brawn and brains respectively, but all I heard was Gil Scott Heron's B Movie, twenty years too soon.

TRON: Legacy

/noise/movies | Link

I promised Sandy and Albert a long time ago that we'd go see this. As it turned out, Sandy was in Melbourne with her parents, so I ended up going with Albert, Rob and his mate Nick to a cheapie 3D session at The Ritz.

This is not a movie to reflect on deeply; if it wasn't trading on the TRON brand I doubt it would have pulled a crowd at all. I wonder if it will make back the $US170M it cost for all that digital wizzbangery.

The brand really is all they're trading on; there is little of the TRON aesthetic here beyond the luminescent lines on the clothing, and Jeff Bridges, I guess. So many of the plot devices don't amount to anything: the army, the game grid, the "perfection" that Clu is charged with finding and enforcing. While I grant that genocide is more emotive than tax evasion ala Star Wars, the isos aren't given an opportunity to show what makes them special; they are as risible as reducing the Force to something in the bloodstream. Towards the end I hoped they'd switch to vaudeville, with Sam downloading the iso DNA into his iThing and flogging it to the Japanese sex robot industry, neatly dovetailing with Bridges' neo-zen and his primary competition from the 1980s.

I liked the original aesthetic; some deride it as the best that could be done in 1983, but like Art Deco and the rest of modernity I think it strikes a good bargain with the limitations of the day. That world was flood-filled, sharp-edged, digital, a partially-successful metaphor for what goes on in those then-new machines. This movie disposes of all that in trying to be realer than real, as Rob said: it is continuous, with light cycles bouncing around like Arnie in Terminator 2, rather than switching at grid points, and the planes stall like in Iron Man. Vale inventive, speculative metaphysics, hello lazy script writing.

The worst part of the whole thing is how derivative it is: we have the useless Orc army from The Lord of the Rings (how could our heroes stand against those? — don't you worry about that), and that climactic "Thou shall not pass" Gandalf guff, the Discovery-as-freight-train from 2001, "I am not your father" from one of the Star Wars, Tony Blair as Michael Sheen, camping it up as the albino who got rejected from the Matrix. Everyone's into their martial arts, which is completely unexplained as Sam does little to show he can do any of this in meatspace; Larry Fishburne is just a cop now. They missed the Genesis part of the story, and in doing so reduced this to no more than a demonstration of 3D technology in 2010, doubtlessly already surpassed. If I'd seen Inception then I could probably complain about what a crap ride through inner space this is.

Dana Stevens was even less impressed.

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

First visit to Coogee all season, and it was as flat as I've seen it. There were quite a few people, but not not as many as one might usually expect; I wonder if the pom backpackers being priced out of the country is reflected in the statistics anywhere.

The Prestige

/noise/movies | Link

Wow, I saw this at The Ritz more than four years ago. I remain unconvinced. David Bowie is excellent as Tesla, and one has to wonder if he's got any more music in him. Incidentally Rebecca Hall puts in a showing as half-of-Christian Bale's love interest.

Wargames

/noise/movies | Link

Yeah, early 1980s, acoustic couplers, dot-matrix, rasterized obsolescence. Broderick loves this stuff, and it might just be the best thing Ally Sheedy ever did. The plot doesn't fly, it can't, but no-one cares because it's the 1980s.

The Last Emperor

/noise/movies | Link

Well, what are you going to do if the Chinese Government allows you to make a movie in the Forbidden City? Spend 3hr 40min on a biopic of the last emperor, that's what. I saw this in two sittings, and it could definitely have used a bit more cutting. There are huge numbers of extras here, and one can only wonder what the costume budget was. The bloke himself gets a sympathetic treatment, even though he seems completely egocentric (by upbringing, etc., sure); one cannot even claim he has his subjects' best interests at heart as he has no experience of their lives at all, at least until he is no longer emperor.

O'Toole will always be T.E. Lawrence to me.

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

After work snorkel at Little Bay, the beach setting of choice for photographers of ladies. The water was surprisingly clear, not too rough and I did see quite a few fish. Loads of blue bottles were washed up on the beach but I was fortunate not to meet any in the water, despite an on-shore breeze. The water is certainly getting warmer.

American Psycho

/noise/movies | Link

I didn't get this, except perhaps as an extended metaphor for the GFC. A wasted effort from Christian Bale who is certainly the Robert de Niro of his day. I'm prepared to grant that it might make sense if you've already read the book, which I haven't and won't.

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

After work paddle at Gordons Bay. The onshore breeze had me worried before I got in, and sure enough I encountered an armada of bluebottles out in the bay. I got stung lightly across the inside of the elbow but otherwise came away OK. The water remains full of plant detritus so, while it hasn't been raining here, there must be a lot of runoff.

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

Early-evening snorkel at Gordons Bay, off the northern scuba ramp. Quite a few people still around, but parking was as easy as I hoped... it won't be like that for much longer. The water was a bit cool, even in a singlet, and fair murkier than usual, so I didn't see much. Fortuitously I ran into the mature blue groper a bit of a distance from his usual spot. Perfect day for it.

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

Early-evening snorkel at Long Bay. The water was flat, a tad cool and pretty cloudy so I didn't see much. I swam (with flippers and snorkel in a singlet) from the northern boat ramp to the southern; according to Google Maps that's about 350m. I didn't think I was that fit. I saw the wreck of a car, maybe the same one as from April last year — it was overgrown with seaweed, rusty and roofless. I also spotted a stingray trying hard to be inconspicuous. Otherwise it just the friendly little yelllow-finned guys.

Barry Lyndon

/noise/movies | Link

Kubrick's costume drama. Beautifully shot but entirely banal; one needs to read the tea leaves to get anything out of this. Maybe he's trying to say that the Irish had a go at debasing the English aristocracy and failed? Unbelievably #219 in IMDB's top-250. I saw this sometime before 2003.

Henry Fool

/noise/movies | Link

Hal Hartley's masterpiece, I still think. Apparently I haven't seen this since 2004, a little less than six years ago. Maybe I caught it in the cinema back in 1998 or so, I can't recall.

I still have to revisit his also-masterful Surviving Desire and The Book of Life.

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

One last afterwork snorkel before the storms roll in... that's if I can trust the BOM. The water was too murky to see much, and it was a bit cold and rough right out in the bay in just a singlet. Loads of dogs on the beach and in the water. The weather was perfect for it, even with a stiff onshore breeze.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

/noise/movies | Link

I saw this about five years ago. Kaufman milks this one premise for all it is worth, and whoever shot and edited this movie are geniuses. Certainly worthy of being parked at #61 in the IMDB top-250. Note to self: it was Carrey and not Sandler who made a movie worth watching.

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

Another after-work paddle at Gordons Bay. Loads of blue bottles had washed up on the sand but I didn't encounter any in the water. The water is decidedly cool below about 50cm.

/noise/beach/2010-2011 | Link

After-work paddle at Gordons Bay, as this was the third day without rain (if I got it right). The water near the shore remains cool, but out in the bay proper it is quite OK, at least in a singlet. I ran into my first blue bottle of the season and was lucky that it didn't bring its mates, suffering just a mild sting on the left wrist and right forearm. Some blokes were trying to fish off the rocks midway along the bay.

Howl

/noise/movies | Link

A reconstruction of the events surrounding the publication of Ginsberg's Howl. Of the three strands the most interesting was certainly James Franco as Ginsberg, recounting his coming out of the closet. David Strathairn channels a little of his Ed Murrow demeanour from Good Night, and Good Luck while playing the vaguely incompetent prosecutor in the court room obscenity trial of Howl's publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I've been to City Lights and I can tell you their floor staff are pig-ignorant of all of this, of what transpired in their poetry room. The third strand is an overly literal cartoon rendering of the poem itself, giving us something to look at as Franco declaims.

Dana Stevens got me onto this. Fred Kaplan strays away from his nukes for long enough to praise the poet.

I much prefer Ginsberg's America, especially with the unofficial Tom Waits accompaniment.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

/noise/movies | Link

A George Clooney / Coen brothers segue from a few recently-seen films. I remember the hoopla in 2000 but the idea of seeing another three (stereotypically dumb) kings did not appeal; having seen it I guess one could call this their Nashville. In brief it is shysterism in the south, features some great set pieces (the Klan), though I think Clooney's hair fixation may have been as funny as it got.