Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Last Wednesday's blizzard at college, as captured by my friend Kaila (click image for more), my photos are over here.

Recent viewing

Going to films is a good way of visiting other colleges.

One of my new year’s resolutions was to make more use of the college film groups. They’re a nice example of the Cambridge philosophy of competitive individualism. While the ANU had one, huge film group, Cambridge has a proliferation of them on a college-by-college basis and market forces seem to have set a flat price of two pounds a screening.

Other than a cheap night at the movies, it’s a good excuse for wandering around other (often bigger, richer) colleges at night. My favourite “other” college so far is St John’s, possibly the archetypal Cambridge college. It has a procession of three courts (imaginatively titled first, second, and third) leading to the knock-off Bridge of Sighs that crosses the Cam into some Gothic cloisters, which lead up towards the new buildings closer to Castle Hill. The size and age of the place seems perfect: big enough to cross the river, but with no individual courtyard as big as the windswept, dwarfing, institutional expanse of Trinity’s Great Court.

The view from the Bridge of Sighs at night is dazzling, but would photograph rather poorly.

Films, then:

Thursday two weeks ago was “Confidence”. I love a crime flick, and they can be great vehicles for one-role big-name actors (I first warmed to George Clooney in “Ocean’s Eleven”). The cardboard cut-out, chisel-chinne Ben Affleck works well in a confidence scam film. A good film noir anti-hero is not meant to display emotion. The fact that Affleck is incapable of it made for inspired casting. Dustin Hoffman as an ADHD suffering gangland boss (“it’s the H that’s important – attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder”) was fabulous. The keep-you-guessing plot wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen, but it was slick enough.

Thursday last week was my first time seeing “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: Hepburn is, of course, luminescent. I hadn’t realised it was directed by Blake Edwards of “Pink Panther” fame and the matter-of-fact morality of the kept-man male lead and rich-husband-hunting Holly Golightly leant it a tough worldliness that was somehow – charming. Wonderfully scripted.

Sunday was “Intolerable Cruelty”: one of the most enjoyable lawyer-joke films in a while. The decrepit senior partner, living in a darkened Dickensian office, without intestines, on life support; the utterly strategic lawyers (“She’s financially exposed, there’s no need to kill her! And I love her, that’s two reasons not to!”); the concept of a signed pre-nuptial agreement as the ultimate expression of trust; and a wedding in Vegas where I find myself muttering, “There has to be a jurisdictional issue here …” – all recognisable law stereotypes, if obviously not intended as realistic. There were some bitter lawyers who leant a hand to this script, I tell ye. Despite the participation of Clooney and That Awful Woman, a thoroughly enjoyable romp.

Okay, I did grimace once. Anyone who that clearly lost the plot at a professional conference and denounced law in favour of love, in my limited experience, would probably be politely ignored until they had the good grace to slink away and never be spoken of again.

They would not get a standing ovation.


Even if they were the ineffably smug George Clooney.

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