31 March 2008

A candle



It was Earth Hour last weekend. I don't want to say that I single-handedly solved the environmental challenges facing Mother Earth, but that is just because I am humble. After lights out, I lit thirty candles on the coffee table and most of the available oxygen in the room was soon depleted. There in the preternatural glow, we all watched the movie State and Main. It is such a smart movie and definitely worth appreciating. One of my all time favourites.

This led me to watch The Spanish Prisoner the next day, because it is also written by David Mamet. He made this film first and a lot of actors appear in both flicks, but The Spanish Prisoner just managed to annoy me. It has a hugely clever plot, but I found the pace too slow, so the effort to create tension rankled. Maybe I just couldn't summon any sympathy for the lead character. I also think you have to be really disciplined when shooting dialogue driven work.



Earth Hour got me thinking about a future where electricity was rationed and society would have to turn off the lights regularly. It wasn't so long ago that people had no choice, we had to watch TV of an evening by candle light. Of course, it is not all doom and gloom, hot rocks really excite me, and perhaps the next person who makes it into The White House will even put the solar panels back on the roof which Carter installed so that Reagan could pull them right back down.

I have been reading a lot lately, mainly about politics and related topics. There is no one reason for this, but I come from a political family so perhaps it is congenital, although it has taken a while to manifest itself.

Ozonomics
by Andrew Charlton. An excellent introduction to economics and the Australian economy. What Hawke & Keating did and Howard & Costello failed to do. How the Reserve Bank uses interest rates to manage the inflation rate.

What Goes Up by Nicholas Stuart. What happened during the 2007 election and how it will influence Australia's political landscape. Left wing but psephologically sound.

Poll Dancing by Mungo MacCallum. What happened during the 2007 election - but brilliantly, scathingly funny. Very left wing, but I got the impression Mungo wouldn't hold back if the Labor Party deserved it. Mungo has a unique place in Australian political writing.

Dear Mr Rudd
edited by Robert Manne. Australia's Left wing intellectuals write a series of open letters to the Prime Minister about their vision of the key challenges facing the new government. I cherry picked a few of these essays. I was particularly impressed with those on the need for an Australian Republic and the public service.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. Does globalisation mean that developed countries (i.e. America) use the World Bank to saddle less developed countries with astronomical debts for massive infrastructure projects that are designed entirely to reward the developed country by providing them with unfettered access to natural resources and an increased military capacity? It looks like it - the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I am going to read some Joseph Stiglitz to get another angle on where globalisation can go, because people need hope for the future now; but Confessions is interesting for illustrating how a corporate culture that generated obscene quantities of wealth became lionised and wealth became the raison d'etre of American foreign policy...or something like that.

GETTING TO KNOW THE GENERAL : The Story of an Involvement
by Graham Greene. This is a warm and honest tale of the famous author's relationship to General Omar Torrijos. An insight into the motivation of a great leader and life in South America. The General's relationship to America was very much a David vs Goliath story. I wanted to read this because the preceding book talks about Panama and mentions the work.

I am totally getting into 30 Rock at the moment. So funny.

1 comment:

John said...

David Mamet can be an acquired taste—he's originally from theatre and some of his films come off as a bit "staged." While The Spanish Prisoner did have a great twist at the end, I do remember being a little bored getting there, all those years ago when I saw it.

State and Main is one of my favourites also—good call! And if you are wondering why Rebecca Pidgeon is in all of Mamet’s films, it’s because she is married to him.

Personally I don't mind the nepotism, and enjoy her apparently deliberately awkward/quirky delivery.