peteg's blog

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Early-evening lazy snorkel off the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. Visibility was far better than yesterday; I saw loads of fish of all kinds, but still no squid.

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Very brief early-evening paddle off the southern rocks at Gordons Bay for the first time in a long while after this spell of rain. The water was pretty murky and full of plant material. I saw several small stingrays and not much more.

New specs

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Well, it's been almost twelve years since I lost my original black Emporio Armani's in the Bay of Islands and bought some semi-identical blue ones in Auckland. They finally succumbed to metal fatigue on Monday as I was fetching food for the people at NICTA; roughly I'd been banging my motorcycle helmet into them for the past year or so, and while I expected the concomitant straightening to do the weld at the bridge in, it was in fact the bit that holds the right lens in place that finally came adrift. At Jacob's suggestion I went and did business with the ladies at Out of Sight Eyewear on King St, Newtown, who instantly recognised my need by the bodged tape job. Dave helped Fiona pick me out a couple of pairs of frames: one prodesign stainless steel from Denmark, and some not-quite-Superman/Supergeek plastics from Paul&Joe, France. My prescription had not changed. Now to upgrade the rest of the wardrobe.

Dallas Buyers Club

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With Dave at the Verona's 9.10pm session. Very thin audience. There is indeed more to it than the trailer. Matthew McConaughey is great, as are Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto. I liked it, and its lack of subtlety might even have been a strength.

The Talented Mr Ripley

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I saw this a long time ago, maybe even at the cinema. Jude Law is at the height of his powers, and Anthony Lane is not wrong to cite this as one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's finest outings. I found Philip Baker Hall a bit stiff as the private dick; he's better as the avuncular but damaged game show host in Magnolia.

Silver Linings Playbook

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A little Wes Anderson, a little Tarantino. Bradley Cooper was better in American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence is better here. Ah yes, she got an Oscar for it. Lots of nice little touches, including casting Julia Stiles as her sister. de Niro is same-old. John Ortiz returns for another bout of bromance.

The Counselor

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Fassbender, Pitt... Ridley Scott directing. Could have been a whole lot more than it is. None of the Mexicans have a character, and nor do Cruz and Diaz. Bardem is probably the pick of the actors; Fassbender has no room to move. Way too much talking and nowhere enough showing. Dana Stevens recounts the salient bits.

Jack Goes Boating

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Philip Seymour Hoffman's solitary effort as director. He and Amy Ryan strike sparks off each other. John Ortiz is fantastic in the bromance role, and Daphne Rubin-Vega is also good as his compromised wife. It's all a bit predictable but the cinematography in the middle, where Jack is rehearsing his swimming and cooking in the Zen mode, is beautiful. The scenes at the pool are great. Everyone gets their slightly-awkward Hoffman moment, and just sometimes I thought there was some Hal Hartley in there too.

12 Years a Slave

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At the dear old unrenovated Chauvel, Cinema 2, 9:10pm session. There were more people there than I expected; perhaps ten total. The floors remain uneven, and the coffee the girl at the bar made for me kept me awake past midnight. Or perhaps it was the movie that did that.

Unlike Shame, this is essential Steve McQueen. I found it unflinching but less brutal than I'd been led to expect, which is not to say I wasn't unsettled. His cinematography is as beautiful as ever, and the acting is solid, especially Chiwetel Ejiofor. I didn't think Fassbender was too far over the top, though his character was pretty flat. (Brad Pitt's had a similar two dimensionality but was far easier to sympathise with, being Canadian and all.) Benedict Cumberbatch is fine, as is Paul Giamatti as the prissy slave trader. Alfre Woodard is the Queen Slave, made good, sold out. There's not much to the plot, this being a series of set pieces about becoming and being in a state of slavery.

Rated #99 in IMDB's top-250 today. I didn't read any reviews before I went in. Dana Stevens is on the money. Michael Wood at the London Review of Books is right to observe that the movie would have been strengthened by McQueen toning down Fassbender's character. Manohla Dargis's commentary is thoughtful. David Denby reviewed it for the New Yorker.

That about wraps it up for this brief Hollywood renaissance. I hope there is more to Dallas Buyers Club than we saw in the trailer.

Raging Bull

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I saw this a long time ago, and remember thinking it to be the best of the Scorcese/de Niro collaborations; that was certainly before I saw Casino. There's not a lot to like about La Motta, if you're not into brutal grind-it-out boxing.

The Wolf of Wall Street

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With Dave, at the Verona, 9pm session. Fairly packed, which I guess might be usual on Friday nights. I thought I'd struggle to be sapient for the full 180 minutes, but it was as if they'd soaked some stimulants into the chairs.

Well, what can I say: I enjoyed it, though it didn't amount to a hill of beans really. Presently #64 in the IMDB top-250, and I think that's as high as it'll get as there's no timeless Gordon Gecko here, and that Scorcese cites him says it all. I enjoyed Kyle Chandler's Duchovny/McLachlan Twin Peaks mashup; a great effort from him. Some scenes reminded me of a certain "world class" workplace. Leonardo DiCaprio clearly enjoyed himself immensely, though I can't be sure the same is true of any of the women.

A. O. Scott reviewed it for the New York Times. Dana Stevens didn't really get into it, and nor did David Denby at the New Yorker. I agree with him about the two great scenes.

Tropic Thunder

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I didn't realise Etan Cohen got a writing credit for this one.

The Graduate

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A Mike Nichols segue from Charlie Wilson's War. I guess it must be tough following up Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, especially if that's your first gig. Dustin Hoffman is a bit irritating here; so much so I'm tempted to watch his Oscar winners (Kramer v's Kramer and Rain Man) to see what the fuss was later about. He got a nomination for this one, though I can't see why. Rated #220 in the IMDB top-250, this week.

Owning Mahowny

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Dana Stevens pointed to this movie in her article on the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. It reminded me of Elliot Gould in Robert Altman's California Split: so very Canadian.

Charlie Wilson's War

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On Dave's recommendation, I think due to Aaron Sorkin being the screenwriter. Vale Philip Seymour Hoffman. He's excellent here, as is the rest of the cast.

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Early evening snorkel off the southern rocks at Gordons Bay. Still no squid. A stingray was early to the party, parked on the sand at depth. The tide was out which made entry a bit of a challenge; fortunately the water is warm enough now to dive straight in.

The Road

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On Dave's suggestion, I think. I didn't recognise Robert Duvall, or Guy Pearce, but did pick Charlize Theron and Molly Parker. And Viggo, of course. Not much here for me.

/noise/beach/2013-2014 | Link

Early evening snorkel at Gordons Bay. Quite a few people there. Visibility was decent. I saw a large female groper attended by lots of small fry, many luddericks and wrasse. A stingray was swimming along the rocks, unfazed by me. Quite warm in.