Posts in English

Movie Diary 27/8/19

Movie Diary 27/8/19

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) – A blow for representation this may be, but the central relationship is on the messed-up Jane Eyre/Rebecca model, where the heroine (Constance Wu) has to make all the adjustments to win over her rich, impassive boyfriend (Henry Golding) –...

Frangipani

Frangipani

I see my grandfather's bones in frangipani tree branches: incautious in their instinct to share, they loll green tongues of leaf, litter the pavement with blossoms where they are trodden, turn banana-skin brown. I see them floating in saucers, stuck in lapels, a third...

Los Angeles Nocturne

Los Angeles Nocturne

This is my translation of Xavier Villaurrutia's poem "Nocturno de Los Ángeles" from his collection Nostalgia de la muerte. Villaurutia was an important literary figure in Mexico in the years after the Revolution, a member of the contemporáneos along with Salvador Novo...

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...