peteg's blog

Dương Thu Hương: No Man's Land

/noise/books | Link

Written in 1998 by Dương Thu Hương, and translated in 2005 by Nina McPherson and Phan Quy Duong. This one is a triangular pseudo romance with far too much artifice and verbiage. Huong is back to her old food-porn habits and something as simple as getting some third-person plot progression on the page becomes an exercise in describing just how many tiles are broken in the courtyard of the non-character that the anonymous crowd is parked at. It is a screen play from an exacting auteur.

Bon-the-bat is occasionally credible, but only historically; Mien is a vacuous pawn straight from the beauty salon. Hoan sometimes fires up but is mostly the stereotypical slick business dude, Ken to her Barbie. Huong's observations about village life are almost entirely banal; what, there's a lot of malicious salacious gossip? People are two faced? Say it ain't so. This is some composite of Romeo and Juliet, or maybe King Lear, with the Party playing the erstwhile King... or would be if it weren't Vietnamese; that makes it a reiteration of The Tale of Kiều.

I found the majority of the 400 pages tedious beyond belief, though most had just a sniff of something flamable. I don't know if I can face up to the last book on the list: Memories of a Pure Spring.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Midday paddle at Gordons Bay. A lot colder than the previous days, perhaps due to the lack of sun. Quite windy too.

The Ides of March

/noise/movies | Link

I've been sitting on my Palace Cinemas membership birthday freebie for four months now, waiting for them to put on something watchable at the Verona. I really liked Clooney's previous political/press Good Night, and Good Luck, so I put aside Dana Stevens's misgivings and fronted the 9:20pm session. Suffice it to say that even sitting unfashionably close to the front didn't stop an entire row of mouthbreathers infesting the row behind me. They proceeded to talk, rustle, etc. — coming in late, one doesn't need to observe the STFU compulsory courtesy short. They quietened down after a bit, but not before I got the impression I was in for two hours of having the scenario explained to some dumb bastard by his mate with the extra neuron. I don't know why these groups go to see these movies at these times; surely a trip to the pub would be better all round.

I didn't renew my Palace Cinemas membership this year due to this sort of thing, and hardly used it last year due to the paltry selection of even prima facie decent movies. I'll be sad when the Verona goes the way of the Academy Twin.

Anyway, the movie was the fiasco Dana said it was; two-thirds was Politicopath 101, and the last third possibly required another month or two at the academy. Ryan Gosling handled his transformation well, from slick media PR flack to slick media PR flack without a soul. Philip Seymour Hoffman was the pick of the actors though, completely natural as a rumpled campaign manager. Clooney overdealt his own hand this time, just enough to make the whole thing a bit ludicrous. I've been studiously avoiding Giamatti since his wine snobbery (that I didn't see), but he is quite good here.