peteg's blog

Ann Patchett: The Dutch House.

/noise/books | Link

I remember enjoying Patchett's Commonwealth and hence was open to her latest. Again her technique here is excellent: just enough repetition to ease the reader through a twisty maze of under-developed and characterless characters; I just wish she'd found a better story to tell! Briefly this is the cycle of life, or as the Americans have it, the cycle of wealth: poor-rich, poor-rich, but with enough colour to make it their own. Other dualisms abound: Philadelphia, NYC; brothers and sisters, absent mothers and heroically-present-yet-distant fathers, discomfort brought by affluence, the stepmother as witch. The narrative is drenched in nostalgia for the 1940s to the 1980s (I'm guessing). The house itself is ridiculous. Too often it felt like Cloudstreet. The concluding tidy-up is hurried and formulaic.

Parul Sehgal. Goodreads.

Knives Out

/noise/movies | Link

I felt lucky that The Ritz had some advanced screenings this weekend. $10, 12:45pm, three rows from the front of Cinema 3, not too many people. Beforehand I had a hurried lunch (sushi from Royal Randwick shared in High Cross Park near the Royal with some insistent magpies) and a coffee from Shorty's. A strange day weatherwise: hot, muggy, hazy: tropical with bushfire fallout.

The draw was, of course, Rian Johnson. I'd been hoping he'd attempt another movie in the manner of Brick for more than a decade now, and finally here is something. The cast is huge and full of big names: Michael Shannon, Christopher Plummer, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig. Noah Segan returns from Brick. It's all very talky. The central murder mystery is a bit limp: nowhere as twisty as it needed to be, and nowhere as punchy as the Korean films are now (e.g. Parasite) though there is a nod to nimble Hyundais. I guess it was necessary to drape Ana de Armas in the costumery of Gone Girl and provide her with the twee mechanic of spewing when she lies. She is therefore a genuinely nice person who can be the fulcrum for racial politicking and grasping leaners. I wasn't that persuaded. How tight it is I don’t know (it's not my genre); I hoped for more executive direction from author Plummer right up to the final scenes. I'd say the interviews at the start were the best part of it.

Manohla Dargis. Dana Stevens.