(J.M. Coetzee) David Lurie, Capetown Professor of Communications (nee Romance Literature) catches his favourite escort in a domestic moment, causing her to retire for shame, so he starts a pilot ‘A’s for lays’ scheme that forces him from campus, pride (in self and deed) stopping him from recanting.  This episode could fill a novel in itself (shades of Kafka or Helen Garner here, as the University Board of Enquiry into the harassment charge, whilst containing some members who are Lurie’s allies or at least neutral, reveal, in time-honoured ivy league fashion, another quasi-judicial body with complete ignorance of the maxim…

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December 31, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Dan Gilroy) (2014) ‘’Nightcrawling” is a term of art for paparazzi who nocturnally trawl the urban underbelly, shooting footage of mayhem for TV news (to be breathlessly shown as an exclusive, after the sanctimonious preliminaries warning “viewer discretion is advised”). Jake Gyllenhaal (see: Donnie Darko) co-produced and stars in this intriguing film as Lou Bloom, a cross between Travis Bickle, Rupert Pupkin and Carl Kolchak, surely selector’s choice for Creep/Worst Employer of the Year.  To paraphrase Harold in The Boys in the Band, Lou doesn’t have charm; he has counter-charm. With no back story as such, Lou is clearly…

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Sixty Stories

Hamster image courtesy of Nanny99

(Donald Barthelme) (stories 1964 – c. 1980) A big anthology was always going to be a publishing challenge for a master miniaturist.  The longer pieces here feel forced, repetitive (without consolatory cadence), smacking of desperation and Rushdie-like lists.  When Barthelme works out an angle and sticks to it, he can be very good.  His famous hit, ‘The School’, is hilarious.  He is also menacingly funny where the violence is barely suppressed: in ‘Game’, two men are going berserk while stationed at a missile silo; there’s a kind of Straw Dogs meets Sleepers scenario in ‘For I’m the Boy’; in ‘On…

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Bicycle Thieves

December 23, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Vittorio De Sica) (1948) To glue posters to walls around ration-bound post-war Rome, a man needs a bike.  When that bike, obtained with pawnbroker money, is stolen, the man is driven to desperate measures.  A simple lesson in how adverse circumstances can break anyone, filmed and played naturally and without sentimentality.  A classic. x https://youtu.be/jYtQ6xz-YnI

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Love Serenade

December 22, 2014 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, Comedy Film, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Dir. Shirley Barrett) (1996) There is simply something fundamentally wrong with Dimity and Vicki-Ann, lonely-heart sisters in Sunray, Queensland, back of nowhere.  Why the wheelchair?  Why the obsession with lounge lizard Ken Sherry?  Why are they so obviously mad as hatters?  Why does Sherry eat no fish yet has a giant marlin mounted on the wall?  Why all the casseroles left on his doorstep? Why did he leave big time radio and TV in Brisbane?  Why does he quote “Desiderata” (with due respect to Max Ehrmann, the most pretentious farrago ever twaddled)? Are there killer fish or black holes in…

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