A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)

(2016) In 1922, at the age of 33, the urbane Count Rostov is exiled by the People’s Comissariat for Internal Affairs to the Hotel Metropol, Moscow for life upon pain of death.  He is spared immediate execution only because he is known as the author of a poem in praise of the pre-revolutionary cause:- “Alexander Ilyich Rostov, taking into full account your own testimony, we can only assume that the clear-eyed spirit who wrote the poem Where Is It Now? has succumbed irrevocably to the corruptions of his class – and now poses a threat to the very ideals he…

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The Irishman

February 3, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Directed by Martin Scorsese) (2019) We watched Marty’s film, “The Irishman,” We watched it long into the Morn, And all we can say, regrettably, Is that it was One Big Yawn. He takes lots of bits from other films, Some of which were made by him, Wedding, baptism from “The Godfather“, He much from “Goodfellas” doth limn. There’s some nonsense baked-in from “JFK“, (Dave Ferrie’s eyebrows are absurd), There’s a heap of expository dialogue But we now can’t remember a word. Production values are uneven, The aging just doesn’t ring true, It all seems to play by the numbers, The ladies…

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Who’s Running the Show?

January 24, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | POLITICS, Ulalume |

[In the case of Miller v The Prime Minister [2019] UKSC 41, the UK Supreme Court (created in 2009 despite recognition of the real risk of “judges arrogating to themselves greater power than they have at the moment”)  heard an Appeal by Ms Gina Miller (a Guyanese-British business owner and activist who was rather more worried about Brexit than the legalities of executive action) challenging advice (given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Her Majesty the Queen) to prorogue (shut down) the unruly and hopelessly conflicted UK Parliament that had: (a) defied the majority of citizens voting for Brexit; (b) sabotaged…

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Auto de Fe (Elias Canetti)(1935 – trans. into English in 1946)

A surreal representation of pre-World War 2 Mitteleuropa (specifically Germany), Nobel Prize winner’s novel Auto de Fé is an intense and disturbing stew of poverty, insanity and brutality.  Dr Peter Kien, who is (at least in his opinion), the world’s greatest Sinologist, leads a strictly structured, hermetic life of study and paper-writing. He subsists on an inheritance, treating offers of professorial chairs with contempt. Although his housekeeper Therese has shown no attention  at all to Kien’s 4-room library  during the eight years she has lived in his apartment – other than in assiduously dusting it, Kien is enchanted when she…

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David Sedaris

January 20, 2020 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Sedaris signing prior to curtain

(Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide 18 January 2020) The Varnished Culture initially knew David Sedaris as the brother of Amy Sedaris, the author of the most sublimely hilarious hospitality book of all time, I Like You. David has shot ahead of his precocious siblings through sheer output, and a rather endearing sensibility. Open one of his books at random – Calypso, say, or the funny-sad Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (we’ll never try to be rude about Jazz again), and you can see a humour that is gentle and yet sharp, generous and yet angry.  (In Calypso, he recounts how his partner and he…

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