peteg's blog

Charade

/noise/movies | Link

An Audrey Hepburn / Cary Grant early-60s rom com triller set in a Paris that must be thoroughly sick of Americans. She gets all the good lines. Apropos filtered cigarettes: "It's like drinking coffee through a veil, isn't it?"

I liked it.

Tea Gardens / Hawks Nest / Myall Lakes

/travels | Link

I figured I'd chase some sun and try snorkelling somewhere new, so I headed up the coast. Albert and Sandy suggested Myall Lakes, just north of Port Stephens, as a place to camp, and Andrew T reckoned the bay itself contains stuff to look at, so it seemed like a natural first-stop.

Well, the short story is that the northern side of the bay is mostly mangrove swamp, and from my experience down at Woy Woy visibility is quite poor at river mouths. I happened upon the surf life saving club on the ocean beach at Hawks Nest, and the blokes there suggested I try going along the rocks at the south end of it, about a ten minute walk from the closest carpark (for those without 4WDs). I got down there with my gear only to find a bloke trying to hook a shark in about a metre of water, perhaps ten metres from the shoreline and less from the rocks, and decided to hoof it back to the car. There were loads of fisherman there so I imagine the sea had a few other carnivores hanging around. I took a dip a bit further up and found it quite pleasant in.

I camped the night up at Myall Lakes, solo at the Boomeri site; it's the last one along the road coming from the south, and unlike the others is not on the lake. Some dingos turned up as the sun was setting but kept their distance and only looked hopeful. A possum demanded food as I wandered down to the loo for something to do after dark, which set in around 6pm; the days are so short right now that I was all ready for bed by 6:30pm (tent up and food in gut), and boredom set in soon after. I finished Andrew X. Pham's book, and I must say that the iPod Touch is backlit is mighty convenient when camping.

The next day I took a quick dip in the lake, which turned out to be a tea lake! I haven't seen one of those in about a decade. A bit cooler than the ocean but just as pleasant. After that I got the car ferry and headed up to Forster along the Lakes Way. Again I tried snorkelling at Forster along the rocks but the surf was just large enough to dissuade me from finding out where the fish hide from it.

I guess I was dreaming of Gordons Bay-type inlets, and too blasé to the shark issue. I got bored and drove back to Sydney.

Andrew X. Pham: A Theory of Flight

/noise/books | Link

This is a collection of shorts and offcuts from the past decade of Andrew X. Pham's life. As such there's a lot of ultra-light flights, a little hang gliding and many truncated romances. For whatever reason he self-published this one; perhaps it is just too hard to coordinate with an old-school publishing house from that house on the Mekong River (near the Thai/Laos border) that he doesn't talk about. Or maybe he is too happy with his present partner and situation to disturb that equilibrium.

As always he writes engagingly and generously. These tales are mostly not as searing as his earlier accounts of his family and perhaps signal a conclusion to his restless years, if not his crazy-bravery. One could wonder if the various protagonists deserve a right-of-reply, though perhaps they will make themselves heard on this wonderful internet contraption.

I found out about this book via his Kickstarter project for his cookbook. Both of these are now available from Amazon on their Kindle platform, for bargain prices; cheaper even than on the streets of Sài Gòn. The Kindle app on the iPod Touch is quite usable, and the cookbook quite amusing.

Down By Law

/noise/movies | Link

This is one of those old arthouse flicks that shared the shelf with The Unbearable Lightness of Being and the Three Colours trilogy back in the days of VHS. (I must have watched it back in the 90s.) Here Jarmusch has a black-and-white Tom Waits play a non-crook semi-bum who goes down for having a dead man in someone else's trunk. I really enjoyed the early scenes in New Orleans but the arrival of a stilted cliche-ridden Roberto Benigni made the rest grate.

Crash

/noise/movies | Link

I saw this maybe five years ago. I find it so frustrating as I like many of the actors but can't credit their characters nor the conceit of their lives intersecting in this way. Taking things to the edge time after time is ludicrous; if this was L.A. everyone would have left by then (2004), and it is so cheap of Haggis to ride ragged the red-button issue of race. This is Altman light without the levity. Maybe it gives some context to The Interrupters, which I still have to see.

Secret Honor

/noise/movies | Link

A one-actor Robert Altman. It's about a decade since Watergate etc. and "Nixon" feels the need to set the record straight, with a bottle of Chivas Regal and a revolver. The monologue is a bit much at times and demanding in its traversal of U.S. history.

I wonder what Altman and cohort would have had "George W. Bush" say.

Lost Highway

/noise/movies | Link

More David Lynch. It seems a lot less appealing than it did in the mid-1990s; Balthazar Getty is a limited actor and Patricia Arquette was better elsewhere. Bill Pullman is given little room to move. Trent Reznor does an awesome job producing the soundtrack, and yet the haunting Song to the Siren performed by This Mortal Coil (that's Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins / Teardrop out front) is missing from the CD. The cinematography is sometimes good. I'm not going to pretend to be interested in decyphering this trip into inner space.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Late afternoon snorkel off the snorkel ramp at Gordons Bay, after the forecast rain didn't show. (The sun sets at 5:30pm right now!) There were loads of fish quite near the ramp, and the big blue groper not far from there either. I didn't see any squid or stingarees.

Fallen Angels

/noise/movies | Link

Another early Wong Kar-Wai, somewhat similar to Chungking Express with more gangsta and less romance. Maybe funnier too.

A Fistful of Dynamite (or Duck You Sucker)

/noise/movies | Link

Rod Steiger tries to channel the Ugly Tuco with mixed success, and James Coburn just gets on with it. A minor Leone.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Mid-afternoon snorkel at Little Bay. Almost nobody there. The water was reasonably comfortable and quite clear, though the sky was far more overcast than I was lead to expect.

Hal Hartley: Surviving Desire

/noise/movies | Link

I still like it, but the acting here is not as good as in other Hartleys.

Wild at Heart

/noise/movies | Link

A Nic Cage segue from Kick-Ass, and a David Lynch, Sherilyn Fenn (etc) arc from Twin Peaks. Laura Dern has the biggest task here. One of these years I'll get around to Inland Empire.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Late-morning / early afternoon snorkel with Ben at a fairly grim Watsons Bay. We were lucky that the storms held off to the evening. The water was reasonably clear, and comfortable once in. We got in near the power substation at the north end of Watsons Bay, headed around to Camp Cove where we took a breather, and then a short way along the rocks north of there. Despite the clouds there were loads of people queued up at the Doyle's takeaway.

Kick Ass

/noise/movies | Link

Remains decent on a second viewing, though I note it has fallen to 7.9 on IMDB and now a long way from the top-250. I still think it is one of Cage's better efforts.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

/noise/movies | Link

Once again: the full version, with the there's-not-gonna-be-a-T3 ending. Still at #38 in the IMDB top-250.

Kim

/noise/movies | Link

A total cock-up of an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's Kim. This is mediocre Saturday matinee fare, and you can tell why they waited for the big man to die before pulling the trigger. Errol Flynn isn't given much but does his best with the dancing girls; presumably the really saucy bits are on the cutting-room floor. I wonder if he ever attempted a non-ham role.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Mid-afternoon snorkelling attempt at Little Bay. Loads of people there. The tide was out, the water warm enough, the surf relatively large and there was a lot of detritus in the water. I didn't see much.

Blow-Up

/noise/movies | Link

Antonioni is famous for something that I can't see. This is a somewhat beautiful amble through moddish 1960s London with little plot and no characters worth speaking of. All I learnt was that the bra either hadn't been invented by then, or had been burnt quietly, off-stage, with no liberation of the females.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Early-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. The weather has been fantastic though the water is quite filthy with leaves, etc. Two canines there, one on the beach and the other barking like mad on the northern rocks. Quite pleasant in.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Morning first-thing snorkel with Ben off the beach at Gordons Bay. We saw a couple of stingarees quite close to the beach, and also the blue groper as far in as I've ever seen him. Some immature garfish put in a showing for the first time in a while. Quite pleasant once in, and the water was reasonably clean.