peteg's blog

Romper Stomper

/noise/movies | Link

A middling entry from the golden years of Australian movies that I remember from my youth, which in retrospect was more about tax breaks than halcyon artistic days. I was prompted to dig it up due to the (ex-Footscray, now Western?) Bulldogs winning the flag for the first time in more than fifty years, and have always held this one up as Russell Crowe's best performance, in that he seemed as natural here as Nicole Kidman was in To Die For. Well, perhaps not. Geoffrey Wright leans heavily on A Clockwork Orange and the Hong Kong kung fu fantasies of victimhood of the local Vietnamese community. I just noticed that one of the girls (one of those given very stilted dialogue) took her fashion cues from Harley Quinn. There was a lot of pain here for Daniel Pollock as Davey. Dan Wyllie looks young and clueless. I've always had a soft spot for Jacqueline McKenzie, hamming it up here a touch as a spoilt epileptic schoolgirl.

Everyone is so young! ... but it doesn't add up to a lot. The small amount of dodgy skinhead philosophizing seems redundant, as most are clearly in it for the lifestyle. The material is stretched too thin, and none of the characters are particularly sympathetic. Some elements got reused in This is England, such as the underage skinhead getting his end in, which makes this seem less a record of a particularly unpleasant Melbournian subculture than a generic exploitation flick.

Peter Ho Davies: The Fortunes.

/noise/books | Link

Emily Eakin at the New York Times sold it to me, and now I'll have to read his earlier The Welsh Girl too. She's right that the first of the four stories about the Chinese experience of America is the strongest, perhaps because Davies invests so much in his invented central character whose privileged position allows a wide exploration of the Chinese diaspora and sundry railwaymen of late nineteenth century California. The others are more fictionalized history, of Anna May Wong, film star; Vincent Chin, murderee, written in hand wringing Remains of the Day style; and of adopting babies in present-day China. The prose is solid but doesn't achieve the crystalline precision of Atticus Lish, which makes things seem less necessary.