peteg's blog

Pablo Picasso at the Art Gallery of NSW

/noise | Link

The Musée National Picasso in Paris is being renovated, so they sent some of his works on a world tour, stopping in the antipodes. Lucky us. The Art Gallery of NSW instituted timed tickets for it, but I need not have worried as it wasn't so busy on this weekday afternoon. Strangely the Gallery was full of school kids but there were none in the exhibition.

I remember The Rape of the Sabine Women from school, but it wasn't here; the original is in Boston. What was there was vaguely familiar but not strikingly so. Amusingly it was quieter than your average movie theatre.

Milan Kundera: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

/noise/books | Link

An old friend. I like Kundera's meditation on the relation between lightness and heaviness, which is the positive and which the negative, but the book stalls almost completely when he gets bogged down in kitsch at the three-quarters mark. In 1984 it may have looked like Communism was the thousand-year reich, and I guess you've got to forgive an old emigre his fixations. I liked the characters, flawed and all, and am looking forward to seeing the movie again.

Happy Together

/noise/movies | Link

Wong Kar-Wai takes Tony Leung and boyfriend Leslie Cheung to Argentina for some kind of romance. There are some awesome scenes here as their relationship falls apart.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Mid-morning paddle at a mostly deserted Gordons Bay. Some spots of rain signalled the end of this stretch of summer; apparently we're in for a lot more in the coming days.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Late morning snorkel with Ben. We started from the beach at Gordons Bay and headed up the southern side, then across to the scuba ramp. Ben chased a stingaree in some fairly shallow water, apparently trying to grab its tail. We saw the usual suspects, a couple more stingarees, more squid in one spot than I've ever seen, and the big (fat) blue groper in fairly shallow water.

As Tears Go By

/noise/movies | Link

Wong Kar-Wai's first feature from 1988. Maggie Cheung pairs off with Andy Lau, Kowloon gangster, but he chooses mates over dates and gets horribly mauled by cliché. There's some signature camera work and the beginnings of the aesthetic that took the director to the top of his game; has anyone else ever made fluorescent lighting look so good? We also get an inkling of what's to come with his treatment of Maggie and her doctor, Andy and his ex-girlfriend: the fractured relationships that show (and not merely tell) what these characters are all about. I'm not a huge Andy Lau fan but he does fine here.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Early-afternoon snorkel at Gordons Bay, off the scuba ramp. The water remains clear and fairly warm. Finally a burst of summer! Apart from the usual suspects I saw a couple of stingarees quite a way apart.

The Lady from Shanghai

/noise/movies | Link

Orson Welles was thin once, and came from somewhere in Ireland that no one has ever heard of. He sails around the Caribbean, falls for Rita Hayworth and gets framed for murder. It's all black and white and not up to his other thriller noirs.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Late-morning snorkel off the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. The tide was up and there was some surf but not too bad. Right near the ramp was a group of squid, some quite large. I saw a few more out where the blue groper hangs out, but not the big man himself. Loads of fish. The water was fairly clean as it hasn't rained for a day and a bit now.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Apparently Randwick got 0.2mm of rain yesterday, so I unwisely went for a swim at Gordons Bay around 1pm. Not too many people around; almost more dogs than humans really. The water looked clear with some scum on the surface. The weather looks to be clearing so perhaps I'll get there a few more times before summer expires.

On the Waterfront

/noise/movies | Link

A Brando 1954 black-and-white classic, where his choice of dates over mates doesn't go over too well with the local hoods. Lee J. Cobb heads this mob.

Too Big to Fail

/noise/movies | Link

A Paul Giamatti segue from The Ides of March and GFC segue from Margin Call. The cast is huge and things unwind a bit too quickly for the explanation-studded narrative to keep up. I'm still struggling to see how it might be that the merchant bank(er)s were not acting in rational self-interest the entire time, and that the end product of all of this is a financial system with fewer but much larger institutions.

Good to see Bill Pullman again. James Woods finally looks like he should have at the end of Once Upon a Time in America.

Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (etc.)

/noise/books | Link

I last read this trilogy-in-five-parts forever ago. The first few are as funny as ever. In contrast the concluding Mostly Harmless is a bit dire, with the foxy Fenchurch killed off before the action (as it were) begins. I always wanted to know how the dolphins left, where they went and if they ever made much use of the Guide. While Adams spells out enough of everyone else's (sex-)lives, Ford Prefect may well have been a humaniform car given the action-man he morphs into.

Places not to camp at: Old Kowen Homestead

/travels | Link

The ACT provincial government claims that the Old Kowen Homestead is perfect for camping. I disagree quite strongly: it is poorly signposted and a lot further from Sutton Road than I expected; I got quite lost and while I commonly do navigate in a circular fashion I don't like being forced to rely on it. It was raining too much for me to set up so I slept in the car, which I could have done in the Parliament House carpark I guess. The roads are unsealed (so the car is caked with mud) and the logging trucks start early in the morning. The campground is completely unspecial and there are no facilities beyond a toilet. There is nothing to see. Go elsewhere.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Early-evening paddle at Gordons Bay. Yesterday was perhaps the third day of summer, and today maybe the fourth. The water was surprisingly clean given the runoff of the past week. I believe the BOM is forecasting something similar for tomorrow, before the rain returns for the rest of the week.

Blade Runner

/noise/movies | Link

California Split

/noise/movies | Link

Altman directs Elliot Gould as a professional gambler. Perhaps this is how it is. In any case Gould free-associates and Segal ultimately wins at poker, craps, roulette, etc. Not sure there's more to it than that.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

/noise/movies | Link

The predecessor to Smiley's People. (Apparently Le Carre wrote a less filmable middle child, The Honorable Schoolboy.) It is a quite similar made-for-TV BBC production, again featuring Alec Guinness in the lead with able support from other British actors. If you see it, go in cold.

Margin Call

/noise/movies | Link

Dubious early-GFC-sociopath flick. The cast is strong and the tension ramps up like Hollywood knows how but unfortunately it never sails from the shore. To me the most interesting relation is between Demi Moore and Simon Baker — it struck me that she had enough leverage to get pretty much whatever she wanted, and to get to that level of the corp (any corp) she can't have been too compunctious. Spacey is in essence his dead dog; we're all waiting for another The Usual Suspects and instead we get this over-emoted boss who must realise he hasn't done an honest day's work in 34 years. Paul Bettany was fortunate to have most of a (loutish) character to inhabit. Ultimately the rigid hierarchy plays out and there are no allies, just the co-opted.

Doctor Zhivago

/noise/movies | Link

Love and human remains during the Russian Revolution. Omar Sharif, Julie Christie (looking very much like Peter O'Toole in the other revolutionary epic of the day, Lawrence of Arabia, also directed by David Lean). Alec Guinness has the job of preventing the Reds from liquidating Zhivago before the credits roll. I can't say I got all of the plot, which comes in small dense waves every 15 minutes or so.