To the right and rear of this picture, the first shoots will emerge, (with luck and rain, in a few weeks). They always appear in this sector first, forming a few spindly culms.
Pioneer shoots that appear outside the grove aren’t necessarily runts, but these one always are. On the whole, moso doesn’t like short grass, sparse undergrowth or bare ground, especially where exposed to sun. So the first growth is in this spot, but the big pioneers will appear on the other side, where it’s steep and shaded; or they’ll grow up from the base of a bunya pine, as you can see in the right foreground. I’ve heard of people planting out moso in open, cleared paddocks: I don’t get it.
I’ve chatted about a tea and a book so far. What about movies?
In the last post I mentioned my preference for for a solid plot-‘n-character flick. I’ve never been an admirer of movies like The Matrix where the effects are the main stars; I like such flicks even less when there’s an overlay of intellectualism, such as Kubrick’s 2001, with its mock profundities.
When young and mature I was impressed for a while by art-house. If Max von Sydow stared long and hard at Bibi Andersson I thought something was going on. I learned to nominate The Silence as my favourite Bergman, and to explain that such-and-such a movie was about alienation. You couldn’t go wrong with alienation. Europeans were always getting themselves alienated.
Then I got old and immature.
Charles Dickens said: “Make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, make ’em wait.” And he never missed a chance to tug hard and shamelessly on those authorial strings. Last year, a movie came out which was Dickensian in the real sense. Slumdog Millionaire dared to follow Dickens’ formula without flinching. The result was a huge and improbable success. Mirth, horror, pity, triumph get piled on one another to form a giant Work’s Burger of an entertainment. In case the viewer is in any doubt as to the movie’s populist intentions, it ends with a Bollywood dance number. A great movie? Maybe not: the excesses and improbablities were a bit fatiguing. What I loved was the show’s unhesitating willingness to involve and entertain, and its universality. Let’s hope it turns out to be a landmark.
Mind you, the two “great” directors mentioned above could make movies, even though they squandered most of their energies on a dull affair called Art. When Bergman laid on the costumes and fantasy, and pre-genius Kubrick stuck to ingenious cinematography, there were sparks. I could still sit through The Seventh Seal, though without the adolescent reverence…and I’d jump at the chance to catch Kubrick’s The Killing again.
When they could achieve these effects with a chess-board or a card table, you wonder why such directors could be bothered with Harriet Andersson’s psychiatric problems, or the Cruise family bums.
And check out that group of crooks in The Killing. That’s Elisha Cook looking concerned next to Sterling Hayden. No cutesie-pies at this table. This is NOT going to be Ocean’s Fourteen.
But it’s not Bergman and Kubrick, or even Slumdog, I wanted to discuss.
The movie that’s excited me after recent viewing – which I won’t name yet – achieves what Slumdog achieves: the universality, the arousal of varied and powerful emotions attached to the fate of a single character. What lifts this particular movie so high is direction that’s pacey, disciplined and even tasteful; above all, it has a leading man who, to this day, is still regarded by some as the best of all screen actors.
I should add that the movie is very old. Some of its impact is due to the fact that it pre-dates the 1934 Hays code of censorship. The unsexy star was uneducated and untrained, though vastly experienced from a stage childhood.
Most who see this movie are amazed by how fresh it seems, after they’ve adapted to its superficial creakiness. Far more amazing are the events that led to its making…
Off to bed. I’ll name and post on this flick later.