The Last Great Snail Chase

I saw it this evening and it was good. I saw the cast and crew screening a couple of years back, when the special effects weren’t completed, and a couple of technical issues were still being ironed out. This viewing held together a lot more cohesively, and the film was correspondingly more enjoyable. It is a charming, idiosyncratic, sprawling mess, quite unlike anything else. It was shot in Wellington on a little money and a lot of love. It is playing at the Film Archive on Saturday (the 4th) at 7pm. This will probably be your last chance to see it on a big screen anytime soon. So go.

Dark Star Safari

Have been vaguely ill for the past couple of days, which is rare and somehow always surprising. Brain back now though. Spent the time on safari in Africa with Paul Theroux, reading his account (Dark Star Safari) of travelling overland from Cairo to Cape Town a few years ago. It is pretty fascinating.

Africa, in short, seems hot, dusty and fucked.

Theroux was in the peace corps 30 or 40 years back. The sections where he revisited the school he had taught at in Malawi (now in ruins) and generally saw the extent to which things had gotten worse was bitter and fascinating. As was the general travelogue of the Africa most tourists don’t see. By travelling across land – not just going between the airport, a luxury hotel and a game park – he gets shot at, stranded, etc. And much of what seems interesting about Africa is the vagueness of the wild, where subsistence living never went away, and the city and politics have no meaning. Where borders are vague and permeable.

He revisits old friends, some of whom are now Prime Ministers; generally wanders across the entire strata of society talking to people. Some places seem much more fucked than others.

Hmm. There is more to be said. I certainly feel like my understanding of Africa has increased dramatically. Just the feel of it; the fatalism; the sense of and attitude to time. A wilderness of failed projects by foreign nation falling into ruin.

Also of interest was his overwhelming conviction that about the best thing that could happen was for the West to stop aid and bug out, and force them to get their shit together. The reasons for this are complex, and the examples numerous in the text, but it is an interesting case.

All in all, an interesting read. Recommended.

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