peteg's blog

In Cold Blood

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An adaptation of Truman Capote's famous reportage. Natural born killers. Fascinated by psychology and therefore entirely of its era: the logic of leaving no witnesses strikes me as sound, or putting it another way, consonant with humans not being too bothered about things beyond their immediate vicinity (cf poverty, climate change, general insanity, and so forth). Or compare it to the recent wars and mass murders with motivations even more confused. The black and white spaghetti chronology left me cold. I couldn't help but think of it as the view from NYC.

Roger Ebert called out the artiness in 1968. He had another (more reactionary) go in 2002.

Amaryllis Fox: Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA.

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Kindle. Prompted by a review in the Asian Review of Books that I only skim read. It's meh: an ahistorical memoir of a relentlessly successful American girl who joined the CIA as a knee-jerk response to 9/11. There is little discussion of policy. Much is montage. The framing story of meeting Al Qaeda in Karachi was clearly a bolted-on sex up. There's far more to learn about what national service is and can be from Daniel Ellsberg and Liz Pisani. The writing is workmanlike. Her tic "my truth" implies she never mastered anything abstract or objective, as does her restlessness at the theory she encounters in her undergraduate days at Oxford.

Gosford Park

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More Robert Altman completism, prompted by Knives Out. The cast here is even larger, and there are far too many characters to get to grips with. Fortunately it doesn't matter too much as the sweep of English Toff Country Life circa 1932 is very familiar and they are, to a woman, cliched grotesques. Kelly Macdonald is the pivot, an ingenue. Stephen Fry is a hammy police inspector. I actually enjoyed Clive Owen, from the Isleworth orphanage, and Richard E. Grant. Emily Watson is fine too, but isn't taxed. I somehow remembered Tom Hollander as Guy Burgess in Cambridge Spies. There are heaps more. The gentry left me uniformly cold. For the sake of having a plot it's a murder mystery.

I wonder if anyone's tried making an upstairs/downstairs thing where the actors have roles in each.

Roger Ebert at the time. Also Stephen Holden.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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Paying the compulsory mouse tax with Dave at the Odeon 5, 8:30pm, three rows from the front. A few people but not packed. I signed up to their movie club; unlike The Ritz I could only get one cheap ticket. All up $42.93. No shorts.

As expected it's a dog. Oscar Isaac digs deep but fails to improve on Bill Pullman's President from Independence Day. Daisy Ridley, winsome once more, and indeed of extraordinary heritage though her parents are elided. Adam Driver enjoys himself. Keri Russell. Richard E. Grant. Ian McDiarmid. Shirley Henderson somehow as "Babu Frik", and was that Tilda Swinton? All entirely squandered. There's some unfunny Thor: Ragnarok and too much lukewarm necrotic nostalgia, which is approximately what we're told to expect from JJ Abrams: too much incoherence, too many dangling threads, too much box ticking.

Richard Brody. Tim Kreider. A. O. Scott. And many others.

Adam Higginbotham: A Thousand Pounds of Dynamite.

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Kindle. A piece of Atavist reportage. Not great; the story is weak and there's too much colour. The Wikipedia article tells you all you need to know. I'm hoping there's more to his more recent and highly-rated Midnight in Chernobyl.

Burning

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Korean. Impressionistic. "Based on the short story by Haruki Murakami" or maybe just American Psycho. All insinuation. Some beautiful cinematography. I don't know this director (Lee Chang-dong). Steven Yeun is Gangnam style. Lead Ah-in Yoo is suitably inscrutable.

/noise/beach/2019-2020 | Link

Early-afternoon soak in the placid (tea-coloured) Thurra River near the campground and the sea. I had intended to drive on to the Point Hicks Lighthouse but the road has been closed due to "coastal erosion". Surprisingly warm in the water given that it's not very warm out. The whole area is insect infested.

/noise/beach/2019-2020 | Link

Mid-morning cleansing paddle in a very flat Wonboyn Beach. Very pleasant. A couple of blokes drove up in a troop carrier (with a second passenger door) and went out kayaking. On the dirt track out I encountered an Eden police 4x4.

Elliot Ackerman: Green on Blue.

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Kindle. Ackerman's first outing, and for mine not as good as his more-recent two. This is war in the small: how self interest perpetuates small-scale skirmishes through double dealing. Things go as they need to; there's some convenient plot happenings that allow the narrator to be where he needs to be. Ackerman presents no real objectives beyond the perpetuation of the funding arrangements, i.e., a continuation of the status quo corruption. The ending suggests that the only out is for the entrepreneurial to sell out whoever they can. We get a bit of Afghan culture too.

Tom Bissell refers back to David Halberstam's Ho and wants it to be a lot more than it is.

/noise/beach/2019-2020 | Link

A lazy cleansing paddle in the late afternoon at Wonboyn Beach (Disaster Bay). A few people down here: one family fishing off the beach, a lady travelling around. Warmer in than I expected. Some swell, mostly shore break. The road down is a bit rough at the start then settles down into an easy one-lane dirt track. Near as I can tell all the land around Wonboyn Lake is private.

/noise/beach/2019-2020 | Link

Late-morning paddle at the idyllic Wallagoot Lake near the Hobart Beach campsite in Bournda National Park. Some kids were mucking about with some large kayaks parked on the shoreline. Fine, flat with a light wind (so much for the BOM's predictions of rain), warm in. I would have loitered but the camping area is a bit regimented, and the picnic area west of it has no shady parking.

Late afternoon I availed myself of the facilities near Lyons Reserve at Pambula and had a cleansing paddle in the Pambula river. It's a very pretty and sedate spot.

/noise/beach/2019-2020 | Link

Drove down to Tathra from Bega for a late-afternoon soak at the beach there. Quite a few surfers were optimistic about the waves but it didn't seem more rideable than Coogee on a good day (OK, it's best days). Quite a few schoolies about, daring each other to do something on the southern rocks. Afterwards I headed back to Ray Whyman Reserve (Mogreeka Inlet, the mouth of the Bega river) to use the BBQ there as the others closer to Tathra were packed. It was hotter than I'd have liked but my Woolies snags ended up pretty tasty.

/noise/beach/2019-2020 | Link

Another brief cleansing paddle at Bithry Inlet, on the loop, mid afternoon. Again windy. Warmer in this time, perhaps because the tide was going out. I went for a paddle in the deeper tidal zone with a noticeable but not too powerful current. Again more people around than I expected.

Joint Security Area

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More Park Chan-wook completism prompted by Ben Kenigsberg; can there ever be enough? In two sittings. This is one of his early efforts (from 2000). Song Kang-ho plays a North Korean veteran soldier who saves and befriends a South Korean cadet who strays across the DMZ/"Joint Security Area" monitored by the Swiss and other neutral nations, and also eventually his mate. Things go as you'd expect: the early grim ambience yields to some human promise before the violence goes all corporate and Fincher. I didn't try to follow the forensic accounting of bullets.

A. O. Scott in 2005, after Oldboy.

/noise/beach/2019-2020 | Link

Brief cleansing paddle at Bithry Inlet, the mouth of Wapengo Lake near Penders. Windy. Warm in because it's very shallow; it gets a bit deeper in a channel closer to the beach. I probably could have gotten into the surf. It reminded me a bit of Wattamolla. Afterwards I wandered around the Penders buildings and their multitudes of historical markers. There's a sniff of Telstra 4G somewhere along there.

Perumal Murugan: Poonachi: or the story of a black goat.

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Kindle. Mentioned as a new paperback release in the New York Times. Translated from Tamil. Yes, this is the story of a goat, and slightly more about how miracles can curse. I was expecting something more fantastically real.

Goodreads.