peteg's blog

Crossfire

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Past the point of diminished returns on Mitchum's filmography. A black-and-white from 1947 where the shooting is like the morals: merely limp-wristed gesturing. It wants to be To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Wolverine

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With Dave at the super-expensive 6pm 3D session at Event Cinemas on George Street. I didn't get much from the extra dimension; perhaps it works best for cartoons. Overall it was a bit meh, a string of Japanese cliches seen from a very comfortable West. I'm getting less convinced by this adamantium mythology as the series drags on, though the credits teaser promised a lot in the next one, apparently including a Fassbender reprise. Afterwards we went for a pricey and yet underpriced dinner at Mamak; they could quell their queues if they jacked the price of a curry to $20.

Haruki Murakami: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

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Less gripping than Kafka on the Shore, with long stretches of banality that even the author/main character acknowledge, especially as the novel winds down. I guess I missed the fantastic on this journey into inner space. It was written roughly contemporaneously with classic cyberpunk; I think Neuromancer is better written, and Bladerunner has better cinematography. Again there is a preoccupation with borderline underagers.

I found the information transformations performed by the narrator to be implausibly weird. Murakami comprehends the notion of a key but fails to realise that with that comes the possibility of anything (you trust) doing the computation; there is no need for a human agent in that loop. The conflict between the System and the Factory is ill-drawn and unresolved; Junior and Tiny are unmotivated and apparently not as fearsome as the narrator thought them to be. I pushed on to the end in vain hope of a final twist.

The Hit

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Terence Stamp rats out his crime boss and a decade later John Hurt and Tim Roth attempt an extraordinary rendition from Spain to Paris. Bill Hunter is totally superfluous (though mercifully brief) and only functions to get Laura del Sol into the Merc with the other, longer-lived, gents. Some of the cinematography is nice but not a patch on a proper spaghetti western. The plot is pedestrian and entirely too predictable; as a meditation on how to die it has no answers. Did anyone think things would go any other way?

The Killing of A Chinese Bookie

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I really enjoyed this one. Cassavetes captures the owner of a seedy nightclub (the Crazy Horse West, in California) whose love of gambling outstrips his good sense. In some ways it echoes Thief in that the mafiosi have even less smarts. The cinematography is excellent; the scenes inside the club are beautifully lit. I liked the muted soundwork at the Chinaman's: mutilating what we hear of such a critical juncture is a nice touch. Ben Gazzara anchors the show with his usual understated elegance. It is a bit slow but it didn't drag, perhaps because it often says things at-most-once, with sparely drawn characters.

The Big Steal

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A 1949 followup-of-sorts to Out of the Past. Robert Mitchum plays an honest cad to Jane Greer's flirty uptown girl while he searches Mexico for the Army's payroll, stolen by some random guy, whose fiance just happens to be the tasty Greer. Mitchum's Army boss is in turn chasing him, but luckily Greer knows she has to throw her lot in with the most handsome of the male cast.

The Long Good Friday

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I was expecting something closer to Mona Lisa; instead I got an overinflated Bob Hoskins-as-kingpin East Enders saga. Some of the cinematography is awesome (the hoods hanging in the abattoir, for instance) and there's the odd piece of vintage cockney slang. Mirren bats her eyelashes in an upper-toff kind of way.

Benny & Joon

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Sweet to the point of saccharine. Benny & Joon themselves are realistic enough but if the solution to their situation is Johnny Depp then we are all in deep trouble. Set somewhere in Washington State; Spokane? Deer Park? A segue from a review of the new Depp movie The Lone Ranger, which is apparently an unnecessary exhumation.

Thief

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The second movie of the night, completely breaking the rules of the moment; I guess I can't face Murakami right now. Many people at IMDB point to this as the source material for Drive (alongside the late 1970s The Driver.) James Caan is awesome here, especially in a triple of early scenes opposite Tuesday Weld. Some of the cinematography is excellent; the neon reflected from the hood of a car cruising to destiny is something to see.

Netrider Learners' Session

/travels/Motorcycle | Link

Going for my Ps tomorrow, so one last chance to practice. I overdid the swerve once, and tried to weave too tightly through the cones also once, and jammed the brakes on too quickly on the stop. My u-turn now seems dependably adequate. Everyone was reassuring and positive; it's funny-strange being amongst such a supportive crowd. I talked at length with a Russian bloke (Atom?) working at Fairfax Digital.

... and on Sunday I bombed the test by locking the brakes up on the pass-or-fail quick stop, after doing 3-4 adequate ones in practice immediately before. The sun was in my eyes, I probably hadn't had enough lunch and certainly not enough sleep, the mostly-talk-and-little-show classes earlier in the day dulled my concentration. Bleh. I don't think there's much to learn between now and redoing it, beyond being in better physical shape when I turn up, and being more mindful at that point. $175 for the day, and it will be $50 for the resit when I get around to it.

WALL-E

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Apparently I saw this back in 2008 at The Ritz. It remains excellent on a second viewing.

Drive

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A long time ago my friend Leon, an eternal postgraduate student in the philosophy department of ANU, told me that Ryan Gosling was awesome, and pointed to this as evidence. My continuing jetlag haze prevents me from protesting too much, but I didn't really get into it; I had a perpetual hope that it would lift, right up to the end. It was also far gorier and violent than I expected. The whole thing is so very 1980s, right down to the Badalamenti soundtrack, which is that much closer to the mainstream than he used to do for David Lynch.