peteg's blog

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

/noise/movies | Link

The movie, not the restuarant chain, and before this, the TV series. I felt so sorry for Audrey (Sherilyn Fenn) as her character went from sassy wantonness to cringe-inducing banality over the two seasons. The movie is a case of too much information, and it makes Laura Palmer much less interesting. David Lynch is sometimes at the top of his game here.

Places not to camp at: Canberra Motor Village

/travels | Link

I wouldn't go so far as some reviewers, but camping at the Canberra Motor Village is not a peaceful experience. Suffice it to say that it is wedged just under Belconnen Way and is not scenic, quiet nor particularly cheap. Next time I might try Exhibiton Park (EPIC).

Pulp Fiction

/noise/movies | Link

Still at #10 in the IMDB top-250. Somehow it leaves me cold, perhaps because the plot is too familiar.

/noise/beach/2011-2012 | Link

Early evening paddle at Gordons Bay. Not too many people around and the days sure are getting short. The water was cooler than I remembered from last month... Some young blokes were out fishing on one of the tinnies, and I was shocked at the lack of canines.

Version 1.0: The Table of Knowledge

/noise/theatre | Link

I bought a ticket to this Saturday matinee at the Carriageworks ages ago, when I was optimistic that I'd get stuff finished by mid-March. As it is I'm strung out on caffeine and lack of sleep (due to the excessive hours of the nearby construction works and not, unfortunately, on my part) and wondering if I'll ever get it in the can.

This was my first trip back to the theatre in about six months, since the couldn't-possibly-fail Summer of the 17th Doll at Belvoir. Structurally this is an hour show spread over about 1h 20min with an interval. There's the usual Version 1.0 multimedia schtick but they struggle to fill expansive Bay 20 at the Carriageworks with it despite the pews being packed.

The story tells itself: Wollongong Council (and as they emphasise, many others including Randwick) has been corrupted by the building development process. This is the "sex for development" tale that has dried up over the past few years, as the multitude of charges suggested by ICAC fail to stick. It's a fantastic story of corruption at the lowest levels of government, which have a lot of power but are typically ignored by the media, perhaps due to the lack of glam; this is not the "theatre for ugly people" recounted by Crabb et al.

This production is quite strong in the first half with David Williams spouting all sorts of polished bullshit, and the other actors some unbelievable tosh. Yes, the gambit is to hang the original players with their own words, and the set is used quite well to illustrate the development plans and ICAC proceedings. It flags somewhat later in the second half as we get a static Beth Morgan on the stand (ouch) for too long. Up to then movement was a welcome reprieve between torrents of intense verbiage (skillfully assembled, etc.). It would've been a blast to see it somewhere more on its scale, small, brutal and ludicrous. The old Performance Space on Cleveland Street where I saw Version 1.0 for the first time would have been perfect.

Rudyard Kipling: Kim

/noise/books | Link

I figured I'd try reading some eBooks on the iPod Touch, as it is easy enough to get free content from Project Gutenberg into Apple's iBooks application, and the latter is not too clunky for the most part; the screen is so small that any decent text blows out to 800+ "pages". The integrated dictionary was quite useful to, especially as I started out thinking that Lahore was on the coast.

In any case I'd been meaning to read Kim for so long I can't remember why. It's a playful romp through colonial (pre-partition) India, about a white kid who goes sufficiently native to attract the interest of the colonial regime in the "Great Game" they play against Russia for control of Asia west of China. According to the fount of all knowledge, Nehru rated it his favourite novel. Rudyard Kipling got the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907, so early and so young; a reactionary opening of the doors by the committee, I guess.

Here Kipling seems to endorse India in all its messiness, and perhaps also the colonial regime insofar as it gives the white man access to the subcontinent and furnishes the story with the ever-attractive gloss of spycraft. I don't think he condescends to the natives here, but what would I know.

Paths of Glory

/noise/movies | Link

An ancient Kubrick. The war scenes drag a bit and the whole thing is less subtle than I remember. It's still good though, parked at #50 on the IMDB top-250.

Portal 2 co-op

/noise/games | Link

I mentioned playing Portal 2 to Tom Sewell ages ago, and he told me that the co-op mode was where the action was. We finished it over two nights (this and about a month ago), taking perhaps 8 hours and 5 beers to reach the somewhere deflationary ending. It never got too frustrating, except when it involved knowing how close things were, such as stepping from one funnel to another; with the set-piece things (e.g. the launchers) you can just trust that the game designers got the distances, etc. right, but when I'm doing it with portals many don't look possible from where I'm standing. I had the same perspective problem with the solo version of this game.

We played at NICTA, but I'm glad we played it in-person and not over the net.

Dirty Three at the Sydney Opera House

/noise/music | Link

A while ago mrak told me the Dirty Three were playing towards the end of March, back when I was optimistic about wrapping up the writing by then. I hadn't heard about their new album Towards the Low Sun, released about a month prior to this, as they moved on from their old Anchor and Hope mob, whose mailing list has apparently died a silent death. The best tickets I could get were for a box on the left of the stage, roughly in line with where Ellis would be standing if he was that kind of guy.

As it happened mrak was busy with a demo of his Ninja Blocks project until late so Ang got stuck drinking with me at the dear old Opera House Bar. I feel I'm finally wrinkly enough to elbow my way through the suits and steal their barmaid. The gig itself will not go down in history as their best ever, partly due to some dodgy mixing but probably more due to rustiness of the band; it must be tough playing some decade old standards with guys who meet up so rarely. Who cares, I'll take what I can get; with those seats we got to see the Ellis/White noise machine up close.

After I scored the obligatory t-shirt and Ulterior Motives, and we met up with mrak's brother Chris at the bar. Shame it was a school night.

Apocalypse Now

/noise/movies | Link

Not, unfortunately, the bar in Saigon that I never went to. It's down to #35 in the IMDB top-250, the horror.

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

/noise/movies | Link

Frances McDormand, John Turturro (channelling Al Pacino)? For a minute there I thought I'd got a Coen-brothers movie. This one is totally incoherent, and while Bay's iconoclasm is a little bit reassuring (the needs of the many, etc., fighting in a church, destroying the Lincoln monument, ...) the myths he venerates (the U.S. military, violence, fast cars and sleeping with supermodels) are the only things that get a decent treatment here. The fictional history (historical fiction?) guff is wearing thin, though I must say that the best thing I've seen Bay do was the rapid recounting of the Apollo 11 mission, early on; stretched to 30 minutes it would have been totally awesome.

McCabe & Mrs Miller

/noise/movies | Link

More Altman. Perhaps the best thing I've seen Warren Beatty do. Julie Christie is good too. Cohen's soundtrack still haunts.

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

/noise/movies | Link

This is probably the most technically sophisticated movie I've ever seen, and yet Bay manages to make everyone who sees this movie feel smarter than anyone involved in making it. I got the feeling that he's still fighting Pearl Harbour, what with the khaki fanboism skipping the sixty-odd years of (cough) mixed results for U.S. military since then. Well, that and the blatant rip-off of the Team America settings. (And don't Michael Bay movies always suck?)

The dialogue is execrable (though it has something of the the cheese), and the most irritating part is that you can't ignore it because that's where he develops the plot (as it were). It's hard to believe that Orson Welles's last movie was the original feature.

J. Edgar

/noise/movies | Link

Clint and Leo embark on an ill-advised Oscar-baiting Hoover biopic. The result is a bit tedious and lacks the moral conundrum that Clint strives for in his directing efforts; it's not exactly hagiography but it's not real either. The best law enforcement outfit in the world, circa 1950? I'd have given that to the Stasi or the K.G.B... and the focus on the child abduction case that gave the F.B.I. it's teeth is nowhere as cutting as the allusions to Hoover's meddling with the civil libertarians in the 1960s, which really deserved a fuller treatment.

I can't help but think he does a better job with a smaller budget (Grand Torino) and something pointed to say. This is ultimately entirely banal, even if we leave Leo out of it.

Denby got into it for the New Yorker as did Dana Stevens at Slate.

L.A. Confidential

/noise/movies | Link

Great neo-noir with perfect casting, albeit with a femme fatale who isn't so fatal. It's one of those movies that doesn't stick in my memory; I had a couple of oh-yeah moments but mostly I'd forgotten how it went. I guess this is because most of the plot is talked about and not shown.

Short Cuts

/noise/movies | Link

Altman goes to L.A. and splices together a shirtload of Raymond Carver plots. It's good, but I've got to wonder why he didn't find a home in it for Elliot Gould. The pick of the couples for me was Tom Waits and Lily Tomlin, perhaps because they seemed so wonderfully (yet imperfectly) isolated from the bullshit the other couples engaged in.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

/noise/movies | Link

Despite the faces of Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche and Lena Olin running through my mind while reading the book, the movie is a bit of a let down. Binoche is childish here and it's hard to fathom what a hardened womaniser like Day-Lewis would see in her; moreover her "you're jealous!" bit somewhere in the first hour made me cringe, and the nudity tends to the vacuous if not the downright exploitative. Perhaps Kundera made Tereza too much of a cypher; the babe in the bullrushes Tomas cannot abandon, and Kaufman felt women's bodies could stand in for the plot. The philosophical musings of the book would have been better abandoned rather than used as stilted pillow-talk. Olin's Sabina is the most memorable of the three. It is patently dishonest to run the whole thing in English... though for all that, this is maybe the canonical late-80s accessible European arthouse effort.

George Orwell: 1984. (1948)

/noise/books | Link

Another old friend. I am so glad I never studied this book at school, and only encountered Orwell's oeuvre when I got to uni. His writing is as exact an opposite to Hunter S. Thompson et al's gonzo as you will find anywhere. As such it is depressingly clear sighted.