Murders on the Orient Express

November 30, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

By Agatha Christie (1934) Directed by Sidney Lumet (1974) Directed by Kenneth Branagh (2017) The Varnished Culture has been a fan of Agatha Christie novels for yonks – she’s really terrific – but surprisingly for her very theatrical books, they don’t tend to translate to the screen too well.  Whether Poirot is played by Peter Ustinov, David Suchet or Albert Finney, he doesn’t seem to be just right.  And his supporting casts, possibly from snobbishness, act like a bunch of rejects from a provincial repertory company. The scenery-chewing is entirely superfluous in filming a Christie – certainly she deployed ‘types’ as characters, so why slice…

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The Lawyer in the Freezer (Part II)

August 25, 2017 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | AUSTRALIANIA, CRIME, Non-Fiction |

Unley Town Hall, 24 August 2017 We have written previously on this strange case: see our earlier piece here. The Varnished Culture had a representative at this lecture by Tom Mann, re-visiting his book on the Stevenson / Szach case.           There’s not not too much new in Mann’s thesis: the forensic evidence as to time of death is wobbly – the distance travelled by Szach to Coober Pedy overnight is inconsistent with his presence about the time of the killing – the execution-style and surfeit of possible suspects – the dodgy identification evidence – the…

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Death of Marat

July 13, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, CRIME, HISTORY, POLITICS |

Jacques-Louis David's rather heroic treatment

13 July 1793: Jean-Paul Marat dies at 50 after Charlotte Corday goes all Norman Bates on him.  Although Marat thereby became seen as a hero for the sans-culottes and a martyr to the revolutionary cause, in fact he was a bloodthirsty little cuss, with a legendary hatred of Girondins and a disregard for what we might nowadays call ‘due process.’  Carlyle, in his brilliant, excoriating book on the French Revolution (1837), described his assassination in the following pitiless and sneering manner, redolent of Virgil but with added acrimony: “It is yellow July evening, we say, the thirteenth of the month – eve of the Bastille…

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The “Rainbow Warrior”

July 10, 2017 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | CRIME, HISTORY, POLITICS |

Drawing of 'Rainbow Warrior 1' by Rama

10 July, 1985: Greenpeace’s protest ship is blown-up in Auckland Harbour, New Zealand by 2 bombs planted by French agents. One crew member, photographer Fernando Pereira, made an ill-timed decision to return the ship after the first blast, in order to recover his photographic equipment. He was killed by the second explosion. Justice was not fully brought to bear on the agents, or the ones who gave the order. Our fictional doggerel based on the incident can be found here.

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Uncomfortably Close…the Lawyer in the Freezer

This story is one of the many lurid crime sagas that feature in staid and leafy-green Adelaide. And whilst The Varnished Culture staff all have impeccable alibis, this being Adelaide, we are far-away-so-close to the macabre events of 1979 and beyond. Unfortunately, it is one of several local causes célèbre where the jury’s verdict is in question because they may have been led to rely on tainted evidence – not corrupt evidence; just misleading, or dead-wrong. THE PLAYERS: Derrence Stevenson, specialist criminal lawyer (the victim); David Szach, Stevenson’s teenaged boyfriend; Dr Colin Manock, forensic pathologist, who gave crucial evidence at trial…

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