Moby Dick

After six months and unnumbered days, I have completed Melville’s masterpiece. It is a behemoth of a novel in so many ways.

Perhaps the funniest great work of literature, it is also one of the most influential. Without Dick we would not have Catch-22 or Nabokov’s twentieth century playing with words. Nor perhaps even Joyce’s difficult Ulysses.

Is it the first and greatest modernist novel. Perhaps. Is it hard going. Definitely. Is it fun – without doubt.

Melville was a genius and would of almost certainly made a great dinner guest.


After exposing a wider audience to his genius with 2007’s There will be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson has raised the emotional stakes with his newest masterpiece, The Master.

The Master is a loose, fictionalised reconstruction of the early days of Scientology. However, by avoiding becoming a film about a cult, it ultimately is something great. It is centrally about a friendship between two unlikely individuals, one a charismatic leader of a new faith movement, the other an unstable, socially dysfunctional loser.

Anderson reaches and finds beautiful moments here in such a prolific way – this is a new level of artistry. Further, several scenes rise and expand like nothing else in recent years.

The first half hour, though masterful, follows  a seemingly ponderous path. Yet when the two main characters meet one unlikely night on a boat, the film finds its emotional and visual core, and sits on our two protoganists till their faces are tattooed on our mind.

I look forward to seeing this utter gem again soon. Here’s hoping for a Criterion release!


Andrew Dominik is New Zealand’s current master of film.

His Chopper, though far from enjoyable, was compulsive viewing, and startlingly well put together for a debut feature. However, it was his second film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, in 2007, which really excited me. It was a beautiful Western for a troubled new millienia.

Killing Them Softly, his new film for 2012 premiered at Cannes just over a month ago, and it looks very good. Here’s a taste…



Australian brewers are far from synonymous with the Belgian beer world. I can only list on one hand those I would spend my hard earned dosh upon. However, this week I was introduced to a lovely Abbey Ale by Holgate in Victoria.

Pretty much everything Holgate does is good. Their Hoppinator has consistently made me happy with its counter-cultural approach to the double ipa. Well, the Double Trouble is no exception when it comes to the Belgian style.

Like the Hoppinator, the Double Trouble thrives on caramelized flavours. While before the sweetness was balanced with bold hops, now it is with the spicy alcoholic potency of the Belgian ale. It is rare you find something with the label Abbey Ale, which is both interesting and thoroughly drinkable. Dangerous qualities to be sure.


Well, this month has been one full of some very beery discoveries.

Two big beers I sampled this week were beautiful like a sunny Winter’s day.

Firstly, the infamous Tactical Nuclear Penguin by Brewdog. This fella defies categorization. He’s just a brutal little creature; a thirty-two percenter. Full of raisin notes and big roasted berries, he is perfect for a winter’s night before a roaring fire. Almost unrecognizable as a beer – reminded me more of many ports I’ve devoured – he perhaps best falls into the barleywine category, which is really just a catch-all category for big weird beers.

Secondly, the O for Awesome, a collaboration between New Zealand’s 8 Wired, Renaissance, and Norway’s Nogne. It’s an Imperial Ale (9%) and takes the caramelized sweetness of your ambers and makes them irresistible. Not hard to fathom, given every collaboration Nogne does is brilliant. I’ll be purchasing a bottle of this for myself sometime soon. Why not come over and enjoy it with me?













Second trailer for The Master came out a few days ago. Oh my!

There’s moving camera. There’s sweet sweet intensity. I think I just pooped my pants.



Humphrey Jennings war-time film, A Diary for Timothy is a masterpiece. It certainly has some mean credentials; written by E. M. Forster, narrated by Michael Redgrave and featuring John Gielgud! It is one of the few times that the whole reflects the genius of its parts.

Here in Diary one finds the seeds of the best contemporary English cinema – from John Boorman (Hope and Glory) to Mike Leigh (High Hopes) and Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes) – their slice of life masterworks were either directly influenced or unknowingly echoed an older generation of directors headed by Jennings (also Carol Reed and David Lean).

Jennings produced a slew of very English WWII featurettes, all now considered essential pieces of history and cinema. I am yet to discover his others (Listen to Britain, Fires were Started), but am anticipating something great. Jennings’ direction is never static; certainly it is slow-moving (the editing never draws attention to itself), yet the camera glides with grace and subtlety.

A Diary for Timothy excels in its reflections; the power of great words and images acting together in unison is intoxicating. It is war-time sentimentality without the alienating jingoism (it could scarcely be labelled propaganda). Further, it exhibits some startling prescience – some of the potential dangers of the post-war period are quite cannily predicted here. Forster’s words are made more special given his early departure from the world of literature after A Passage to India (1924) – they are thoughtfully beautiful like the best of his fictional writing.

The almost prophetic vibe comes to a focal point in the final moments. A strange, almost haunting melancholy hangs over the coda. Do we read it through the lens of a disappointed generation brought forth by baby boomers? Or was there a real and tangible sense during the war years of potential unknown dangers just around the corner? These questions cannot in many ways be answered, and that makes A Diary for Timothy even more powerful and great. Please watch it if you have a half hour to spare. And while we’re on it – what’s your favourite British film of all time?