Monthly Archives: March 2020

Movie: Parasite

This won so many Academy Awards that we had to go to see it. I can certainly see that the film would be a film-afficionado’s delight, with beautifully composed shots and lots of visual imagery.  I’ve only just realized that it was directed by Bong Joon Ho, who directed Snowpiercer (which I saw, but omitted to comment on here in this blog, it seems.) It has similar themes about class and subversion.  While watching it, you are very much aware of its careful staging and lighting.

I’m pleased that a film other than one made in America or Britain was so well-received, and it probably reflects my Eurocentrism that I couldn’t tell you the name of any of the characters in the film other than ‘the poor family’ or ‘the rich husband’. And what an unlovely group of people they were, as a poor family ingratiates and plots its way into a rich family’s house. In the midst of architectural beauty and grinding poverty, everyone is either scrabbling to get ahead, or else completely oblivious to their privilege.

There is heaps of stuff on the internet explaining the story, or explaining why it is so important . I wonder if that says something about the film for a Western, non-cinemaphile audience?

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 (which probably shows that I am no film critic)

Viewed at: Cinema Nova, Cinema 3 (one of the big ones)

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 24-29 February 2020

History Listen.  From 19 November 2019, Port Essington, World’s End is about the  garrison established by the British Government in Arnhem Land in 1838, the same time that Port Phillip was being ‘opened up’. This was the third attempt to establish a settlement in the Northern Territory, both to warn off other European powers and to act as ‘Australia’s Singapore’ as a trading port with Asia. Because it was only ever a military garrison, there was no land grab and relations with the indigenous people remained good.


It’s not me!! It’s from Wikimedia

Nothing on TV  Did you have a poncho during the 1970s too? Mine was lime green, white and orange acrylic. In Have You Seen My Poncho Cloak? our trusty guide Robyn Annear takes us back to the 1855, when poncho cloaks were all the rage. Who would have thunk. Her attention was attracted by a rash of advertisements after the Exhibition Ball when a stuff-up . This episode foreshadows some of the information in her recent Nothing New (my review here)




New Books Network At 75 minutes, this podcast is FAR too long. Hiding in Plain Sight is a new book by Erika Denise Edwards, herself an Afro-American, who was struck by the seeming invisibilty of people of African heritage who were descendants of African slaves in Argentina. Using the small town of Cordoba in Argentina as her case study, she traces  the way that African women used their positions as wives, mothers, daughters and concubines to ensure that they were officially registered as ‘white’.

‘The Friend’ by Sigrid Nunez


2018, 224 p.

A bit of a spoiler ahead.

This is only a small book, and it feels as if you are reading a memoir or a diary, rather than a novel.  It is addressed to an unnamed, dead friend in the second person “you” throughout, and it is a series of short paragraphs, separated by time and asterisks. The unnamed narrator is a female writer, teaching creative writing at a university as many writers tend to do. Her friend, to whom the book is addressed, was her mentor, a fellow teacher and also a writer and he had committed suicide.

Her friend is/was an egotistical, priapic curmudgeon really, but she loved him- not sexually, but as a friend. He was onto Wife Number Three (all the wives are designated this way), and when Wife Number Three refuses to continue caring for the writer’s huge Great Dane, called Apollo, the narrator reluctantly takes over his care.  It’s a big ask- she’s living in a small, rent-controlled flat in Manhattan, where animals are forbidden. On one level the book is about her deepening love for the dog, which is almost a form of displacement for her love for her friend. But it’s also about death, suicide, and most of all about writing.  Writing as an individual practice; writing as a social practice; writing as an industry.  The book flutters with allusions to other authors, most particularly My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerley (which I had never heard of) and Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee, which I have read, and which shares a stubborn, unlovely old man. It is very much a reader’s and writer’s book, filtering the world through the words of other people, and using other people’s narratives as a way of making sense of things.

Near the end, there is a curious hiccough, that makes you wonder whether you read it correctly.  It is barely mentioned in the reviews that I have read of the book, which also seems strange.

It’s only a short book, and it quivers with emotion, making it an uncomfortable and yet compelling read.  I finished it wondering “what on earth WAS that book?”

My rating:  8/10

Sourced from: e-book from Yarra Plenty Regional Library.

Movie: H is for Happiness

Yes, it’s another of my ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ postings about a movie I have seen just before it finishes its run at the cinemas. I knew nothing about this movie, except that it was Australian. With a cast of Miriam  Margolyes, Richard Roxburgh, Emma Booth and Deborah Mailman, I thought that it must be doing something right. Set in Albany W.A. it’s the story of a 12 year old girl trying to heal the grief and anger in her family. She befriends her young classmate who is dealing with his own trouble through believing that he is living in another dimension, and endangering himself trying to return to another dimension.  It walks the narrow line between saccharine tweeness and an affecting, brilliantly acted depiction of family grief. Both child actors were excellent, and I’m sure young Wesley Patten will be the new Aaron Pederson in the next 10 years.

My rating: 3.5 / 5