Posts in English

Book List 2018

Book List 2018

My reading last year was shaped by my travels – in Japan and Korea in April and May, and South America in the second half of the year. I was surprised at the paucity of titles on Japan and Korea in English – reflecting, I suppose, white Australians' indifference to...

Movie Diary 26/12/18

Movie Diary 26/12/18

Annihilation (2018) – With its obvious debts to Aliens (a military expedition picked off one by one) and Avatar (the purple – in both senses – prettiness of the alien environment), this adheres to Hollywood formula more than Ex Machina, but inflects it in interesting...

Ben’s Big Year – Blast Off and Real Pigeons

Ben’s Big Year – Blast Off and Real Pigeons

Some artists include their effort in their finished work, and we value it, in part, because it was hard to do. Some artists ask a lot of their audience, and we value their work because it's hard to understand. Some – especially in forms, like books for children, that...

Postcard from Seoul

Postcard from Seoul

Seoul is like an equation with all the messy working out left in, the false starts, crossed out, taking up half the page. And so, despite the many surface similarities to Tokyo – the organic wend of its streets; the shops and restaurants that reproduce, perfectly,...

Postcard from Kyoto

Postcard from Kyoto

I wondered if going from Tokyo to Kyoto would be like going from Hanoi to Hoi An: from a working city that pays visitors no special attention to a place, with all the historical trimmings, that exists mainly for tourists. We've found that Kyoto has its own mellow,...

Postcard from Tokyo

Postcard from Tokyo

Tokyo makes me question some of my assumptions, my likes and dislikes. At home, I'd avoid malls and railway concourses as impersonal, artificial; here, where the smog is often so heavy that people go about in masks, malls are clean, controlled spaces. Often we choose...

Movie Diary 30/3/18

Movie Diary 30/3/18

Black Panther (2018) – In outline – a superhero from a hermetic culture must decide how to engage with the wider world – this is very similar to Wonder Woman, last year's blow for comic book diversity, but this is much better executed. Partly it's the way the movie...

Movie Diary 15/2/18

Movie Diary 15/2/18

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – The design here – post-apocalyptic environments where colour is almost completely excluded, or luxurious digs bathed in yellow – is certainly striking, if a little monotonous. (It's a little mystifying that Jared Leto and Harrison Ford get...

Movie Diary 21/1/18

Movie Diary 21/1/18

Call Me By Your Name (2017) – This wears its luxury more lightly than Luca Guadagnino's previous films: the characters' wealth is expressed in cultivation rather than consumption, their freedom to translate and transcribe music and study old things while their...

Movie Diary 17/12/17

Movie Diary 17/12/17

Battle of the Sexes (2017) – This is a mainstream entertainment as good as A League of Their Own. The casting is impeccable top to bottom – from Sarah Silverman's way with a cigarette to Alan Cumming's finely calibrated mixture of kindness and bitchy speculation. It's...