Living the low life

I had the choice last night of attending a cool party in the city, a low-key barbecue close by, or just stay home. Guess what I did? I stayed home.

It bemuses me a little since I complain of a paucity of social opportunities, but then, I’m not going to force it. You feel obliged to do something on new years eve and somehow a loser if you don’t. I didn’t feel like going out last night though. I certainly didn’t relish catching public transport to and from the city with a million other (often drunk) members of the public. And so on the basis of doing what I want to do – rather doing what is expected of me – I went nowhere.

I fired up the barbie and made dinner. Then I watched The Maltese Falcon again. A little after 9pm I put on the movie I’d set myself to watch last night Bladerunner 2049. It’s running time would take me up towards midnight, and it was a movie I looked forward to re-watching.

Once more I was blown away by much of the imagery and set-pieces in the film. It’s great to look at. It’s a classic story too, though. As I watched I thought there’s something Dickensian about the storyline, even if set in a bleak, rainwashed future. Watching a second time with knowledge of how it all pans out added another level of insight.

It’s funny, though it’s deemed a classic and high-up on many best-of lists, I’m nowhere near as fond of the original Bladerunner – even though, on paper, it’s just my sort of movie. I watched it again six months ago and found my views on it unchanged. It has great moments, again, some fantastic set-pieces, the production design is fantastic, Ridley Scott is a fine director, and it’s got Harrison Ford – and yet I’m unswayed. You know what? I think – despite the story – there’s something cold at the heart of it. It’s an unfashionable view and I wish I enjoyed it more.

About halfway through last night I cracked a bottle of bubbles for tradition’s sake and drank half of it. The movie finished at about 11.45 and so I put a leash on Rigby and together we wandered down to the beach.

The idea was to get a good view of the fireworks over Melbourne. From Hampton beach, there’s pretty well an unimpeded view of the CBD. As it turns out it wasn’t as great as that by night.

A few other people had got the same idea as me. Cars had pulled over to the side of the road to check it out. On the beach, there were a couple of party groups, as well as a couple of cops checking things out. It was a beautiful night – cool without being cold, and the night sky clear so every star twinkled.

Midnight came and people cheered and cried out and the fireworks went off. They seemed far distant from our vantage point, small splashes of colour erupting on an oversized canvas. We could hear them though, and soon enough smell them too as the smoke wafted our way.

I stayed for about ten minutes, happy to have come, and then home, and to bed by 12.30


Karmic balancing

Last day of the year. There was a time when I’d formally review the year past, before going on to set my goals for the year to come. It’s not so formal these days, but I adhere to the basic concept still. It seems a natural thing to do. I know people decry the making of resolutions and whatnot. They make the reasonable point that it shouldn’t take the end of the year to make plans, it should be a normal part of life. And resolutions are a cliché besides.

That’s fair in principle, but few people live up to the principle. What we should or shouldn’t do rarely matches what we actually do, and there’s plenty of reasons for that.

The older you get the quicker life slips by. It takes a lot of mental effort just to maintain. Routines and schedules blur and confound. Deadlines rush at you. It’s easy to slip into a kind of torpor where life runs on autopilot. There’s not the space or the occasion to stop to look around and re-evaluate. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying how it is so often. And thus life proceeds apace, until it ends.

The Christmas/New Year period acts as a kind of break in that routine. There’s plenty of traditions and rituals around Christmas, but much of it is about returning to family and the values learnt in the formative years of your life. Nostalgia and sentimentality take over from the practicalities of making a living. And this time of year there’s the time and space to actually sit down and contemplate such things. I think it’s natural to reflect on what was and, from the leisure of your Christmas break, to ask yourself what it is you want different to what you’ve had before? The division of one year to the next is the perfect time for that.

I’ve been more aware of this than most people, I think. I won’t necessarily claim to be a planner, but I’m definitely a thinker. I’m cynical enough to doubt resolutions as such which, in any case, tend to be spurious and swiftly forgotten. For me, this time of year is about looking back at the direction I’ve taken and to re-align myself for the year ahead. And I’ll set myself KPIs to guide me on that journey.

It seems to me not much changed in a practical sense this year past. I’m in the same home, I have the same job, I’m earning practically the same, and I remain largely unfettered. I wiped out a big chunk of debt and got my car repaired (to the tune of $7K), but in so doing incurred another, consolidated, debt. Still, the pressure is less than it was and I can see my way clear eventually.

The big thing that happened this year was in my self. I don’t know how you measure these things. Am I happier now than 12 months ago? Certainly, at this moment I am, but happiness is like the tides, and anyway I’ve never thought it much of an indicator. I may be an oddball, but there are more important things to me: what would I rather, a dull but happy life, or a challenging but interesting life? That’s a no-brainer for me. I crave experience and knowledge. I want to understand, knowing that is a chimera. Truth and authenticity are the things I want, things that are real and meaningful. Enlightenment perhaps.

This year I have become more enlightened. It’s well expressed here repeatedly in the last 12 months so I won’t go on about it now. I feel a more honest man now than a year ago and have relinquished a lot that was holding me back. Still, a long way to go, but good signs.

The only other thing worth noting is my writing has continued strongly. Certainly, I am better at it now than I was then, and expect given another year the improvement will have continued.

I also have a working car now – that’s a big thing. And after many years I finally renewed my MCC membership, though it has relapsed again.

So, next year.

My goals are simple. I want to continue on the path I’m on psychologically, though it takes courage and the way forward is not always clear. That’s not something I can review every 12 months. It needs constant attention.

As I did last year I’ll strive to improve my lot – a better job, more money. It’s wearying being constantly under pressure, and infuriating that I’m not properly rewarded for my work. And I want some nice things for a change – more of a social life, a holiday, the odd trinket, not to mention the formerly ‘normal’ things I’ve learned to go without. In practical terms, it means – most likely – finding another job. I’ll get onto that. More simply:

  • I want to be properly rewarded for my effort.

I’ve set myself little KPIs to ensure I live better:

  • I plan to go out for one cooked breakfast/brunch a month.

Considering I would do this every weekend for many years this is hardly extravagant.

  • And every three months I plan to take myself off for a massage.

That’s good for body and soul.

So we come to friendship. People change, they live different lives, they go off in different directions, that’s life. I’ve been out of step with a lot of my friends for a while simply because they are now family men, and I am not. We worked around that pretty well, but then other events intruded.

You live life at different speeds. That 15 months I was homeless life was superficially slow, but in terms of experience, it was sped up. I came out of that with issues unsurprisingly, but by all reports, I was fundamentally unchanged. The biggest reported change has been this year past when suddenly I began opening up. The point of all this is that I’ve moved on while others – comfortable, happy, content – have remained the same. Somewhere in that your friendship changes.

It’s taken me a while to acknowledge that. It’s a bit sad, really – I wish I could be as close as I used to be to some. I think my new openness makes some uncomfortable (others have embraced it) not knowing how they should respond to it, or how it makes them feel.

The bottom line is that while those friendships will continue they won’t be what they were before. I realise I need to make new friends – friends more aligned with the open person I want to be, without the baggage of preconceived notions. So:

  • I want to widen the circle of close friends, with more women particularly.

This is easier said than done. It’s not easy making new friends. But then this other plan may help.

I’ve always been a believer in karma. I’ve always been socially engaged. Since I suffered my ‘misfortunes’ I’ve been more alert to the deficiencies in the system. And I want to give something back.

Perhaps volunteer work will fix the need – and it’s a way to meet people besides. An acquaintance studying social work wants to use me as a case study and has suggested getting me along to a St Kilda homeless shelter. The idea appeals to me.

  • Check out volunteering options.

Then there’s my health. I’m reasonably fit, but there are more things I can do. Unfortunately, I’ve been constrained financially, especially when it comes to dental work. I’m in good health generally, hardly get sick, but there are nagging issues:

  • Dental – I need a crown and probably another filling.
  • Sinus – must get sorted this issue that every night sees me with a blocked nose.
  • Psoriasis – small patch on my right, but a nuisance.
  • Knee – could it be my patella? Slipped at the airport a couple of months back and hasn’t been right since.

I want to get on top of these things. Seeing a doc on Wednesday to get started.

There’s my writing too. By this time next year, I expect to have completed the revision of my first book and have submitted it to publishers, and I’ll be working on the final draft of the book I’m currently halfway through writing.

There’s nothing there about romantic relationships. I want that, but it’s not something you can legislate. If I put myself in the right places and measure up to being the man I want to be then it might happen. That’s all I can promise.

If there is one last thing it’s something I don’t have direct control over. I believe you’re master of your own destiny, but I also feel as if I’ve been dealt some tough cards in recent years. I’m putting it out to the world: deal me a good hand this year. I’m due. I’m in karmic credit I reckon and ready to cash in.

Happy new year to you!

Ranting from the sidelines

Look away now if it’s not your thing, for I want to expound at length on the state of Australian cricket.

On the scoreboard, at this moment Australia is level with India 1-1, but on the verge of losing the third test. More broadly, there are substantial issues that go far beyond the disgraces of earlier this year that must be addressed.

It’s an Australian pastime to bang on about Australian cricket selectors and their capricious choices – though I think it’s something common to many sports. Certainly, I have been vocal in these pages many times, and am about to be once more. The difference, this time, is that I’m about to sheet it home to Australian cricket administration.

Firstly this test match. There’s been a bit of comment about abject batting failures in this game, and in the games preceding – there’s only been one Australian centurion since last summer. You take your two best players out of the team, and another very promising, and it’s disappointing but not entirely unexpected.

In this match, there are some mitigating factors. India is well on top but was greatly advantaged by winning the toss and compiling a bunch of runs on a flat first-day wicket. That was the matchwinning score, with the pitch deteriorating thereafter. They made 440 odd, we followed up with a miserable 150 before India declared eight down for just over a hundred. As it stands it’s the fifth morning of the test with Australia 140 runs off victory, and India just two wickets away.

It will take a cricketing miracle to win this match, or divine intervention to save it. There are showers about – thunder has cracked this morning, rain has fallen – but India will need no more than a session to wrap this up, and likely much less.

So, you can make excuses, but the fact is there have been too many poor performances to accept. You look at the batting, which is the real culprit, and there have been repeated failures in application and technique. Some players aren’t up to it, pure and simple, and wouldn’t have got a game if not for the bans – but you have to question some of the decisions made.

Look at Aaron Finch, for example. I’m an admirer of his character, and in the shorter games he’s a brute – but this is test cricket. Watching him open the batting is enough to give you an ulcer. His discomfort and confusion are palpable. He just can’t cope with the moving ball and it’s only a matter of time before he departs. He averages sixteen this series and was out the second innings steering the ball directly to second slip the ball after surviving a DRS review. If he’s to be in the team then it should be down the order, but his shot selection – doubtless the result of a muddled mind – doesn’t aid his case. He might survive to play in Sydney, but really he shouldn’t.

Shot selection is an issue in general, as is technique. Throughout the series, the tailenders have often outshone the top order, this innings no exception. The difference generally is in application and concentration. A player like Head – who I think has a future – is let down repeatedly but poor shot selection and failures in technique.

Shot selection comes down to maturity and concentration. Some players have it, some never do. You want to select players who have it, or can learn it. Technique, by comparison, is something learned.

When I was a kid I was coached a few years by a former Australian test cricketer. The cornerstone of what I learned was the forward and backward defensive shots, from which all else flowed. I was an attacking batsman, but it came from a defensive foundation – the forward defense became a flowing drive, the back foot defence became a back foot drive (my shot), or perhaps a pull through midwicket. You learnt the fundamentals until they became second nature. On the few occasions, I play social cricket these days I find my feet moving automatically as I learnt.

These are test cricketers, they have more talent than anyone else in the country, but sometimes I wonder if my technique is not better than theirs. Head has been dismissed when well set at least half of his innings this series playing extravagant shots with the bat well away from the body. I learned: foot to the pitch of the ball when going forward, and back and across when the ball was short. You knew to play straight, and from a side-on position. Sure, there are some funky techniques these days, but at what cost.

So many batsmen play by the eye these days and you can’t help but believe that’s because of T20 cricket, where the emphasis is on expansive, attacking shots. In bash and crash technique becomes redundant – but in test cricket, with top bowling attacks and attacking fields, when the emphasis should be on building an innings, the absence of technique becomes telling. This is one reason our bowlers bat more surely than our batsmen – because they play within their limitations and know that technique is their friend.

Cricket administration in Australia has been complicit in this deterioration. Shield cricket has been weakened with the advent of officially sanctioned batting strips, an emphasis on youth over performance, and rotten scheduling. There isn’t the fierce competition there once was which crafted tough Australian test players for generations. The emphasis on crowd-pleasing, commercially rewarding hit and giggle fixtures have pushed four-day cricket to the margins while encouraging the spectacular over the proficient.

To highlight this, and against all advice, the ACB extended the wildly successful BBL this season, to the detriment of other forms of cricket – there’s a gap of nearly two months between shield games. There’s a risk of over-saturating the public with this form of the game – I’ll watch occasionally, without really caring – while it further undermines the production of test quality cricketers.

It’s easy to be critical of the selectors, but in truth, there’s a shallow pool to select from these days. Still, they manage to fuck it up. As noted, Finch should never have been selected as an opener, if at all. Young, virtually unknown cricketers get called up to wear the baggy green while others, less favoured by the selectors, are dropped without good cause (i.e. Maxwell).

It seems likely come the Sydney test next week we’ll be down 2-1 in the series, and with serious questions to answer. What do the selectors do? If it was me both Finch and Mitch Marsh would be gone, and maybe Sean too. I’d probably push Khawaja to open and replace Mitch Marsh with Stoinis or Maxwell, though there’s a push for Labuschagne given his leg-spinning in the UAE.

Longer term we need to straighten up. The banned players become available soon, and we need them. Any talk of Smith returning to the captaincy eventually should be quashed – he was never a good leader, and after what he allowed should never be in a position of authority again. Let him bat though, and Warner too (who, strangely, I respect more than Smith – because he is at least true to himself). I think Bancroft will find a spot also.

We have a great captain now in Paine, with a worthy understudy in Cummins – probably the most admired Australian cricketer at the present time. There’s a lot to love about Cummins – talent certainly, but great application and unyielding effort, and cricket smarts rare in this team. If Starc played with as much heart as Cummins then he’d be a great bowler, rather than just teasing us with it.

On the field, these have to be our building blocks – Paine, Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc, Lyon, the banned players, and Khawaja. The other spots will sort themselves out.

Off the field, the challenge is greater. We need to fix the game here in Oz. There needs to be better coaching at every level, with an emphasis on technique. And we need to re-prioritise good, tough domestic cricket with players selected and rewarded on merit. Fundamentally a big part of that means shifting or amending the BBL, and I can’t see that happening.

Fathers and sons

When you catch the same train to work day after day you get to know many of your fellow commuters – and when I say know, I mean recognise. It’s rare that there’s any meaningful interaction. The faces are familiar, the styles, even the spots where they sit, but except in rare circumstances everyone is so immersed in their own, secular world – music, book, newspaper – that no contact occurs (though there was a girl last year I would exchange enigmatic smiles with, and the occasional inclination of the head).

I don’t always catch the same train, but generally, it’s one of two. Most mornings one of the commuters getting on (at Middle Brighton) is a tall, slim man in his mid-forties. He’s a handsome man with a well-trimmed salt and pepper beard and hair approaching a bohemian length while remaining professional. He dresses immaculately, though in slightly old-fashioned attire (immaculate is passe these days). In winter particularly it shows out. He wears tweed, often three-piece suits, with an elegant topcoat like few wear these days. I admire his style and individuality, which I emulate in some ways, though with a more contemporary outlook.

Yesterday I left work around 1.30 to go home, where I worked the rest of the afternoon. The train was mostly empty, but sitting nearby me was this man with his son. On this occasion, he was dressed in shorts and a shirt with boat shoes. He had a relaxed look on his face and often he would smile. By their feet were a bunch of bags, including a few from Polo, and I imagined that father and son had journeyed into the city together mid-holidays to take in some post-Christmas sales.

I sat by the window and listened to my music. They were in the corner of my eye, and occasionally I would glance across to more closely observe. They seemed to be watching something on a screen that occasionally made them laugh. It was such a fond and affectionate picture that I was fascinated.

It was clear that the father dearly loved his son, and his son adored him. The exchange between them was easy and natural and I thought, that’s what a good father-son relationship should be. There was a communion between them as if nothing need be said, as if everything was accepted, as if neither for a moment doubted the love and affection of the other – and in every moment felt it.

For many years I was oblivious to this relationship. I wonder if sub-consciously I turned from scenes like this because it was foreign to me? It wasn’t wilful, but it’s a form of blindness that comes from unconscious rationalisation.

I can’t remember a single moment in my life where I experienced anything like that with my father. I searched my mind yesterday as I rode the train. Perhaps, I thought, the many Saturdays we would go to the footy together. There was never anything particularly affectionate about it, but at least there were shared silences as we communed upon the same thing – the game itself and, on the drive home, the post-game commentary by the Captain and the Major. But no, that wasn’t nearly the same thing.

None of this ever occurred to me until that day a few years back when he confessed that he blamed me for the parting between him and mum (I was 16 at the time). The illusion that had kept me faithful to him for so many years was abruptly dashed but – as I look back upon it – I know that we were never close even before they separated. I suspect that event either confirmed or became the excuse, for his indifference to me.

When I first learned of this I was bitter and angry and let him know. You don’t hold that too long though, it being effectively pointless and self-destructive. I became disappointed instead knowing what I had missed out on, and I feel that gentle regret each time I see a father and son as I did yesterday. It feels like something special I missed out on, and not something that can be found once it’s lost.

If I had a son I’d make sure to give him my open heart. I was grateful to see yesterday how simple and good it can be and, as I am so often, moved by it. And my wry, unspoken affection for the father increased. Go well, be happy, live long and prosper the both of you.

Boxing Day traditions

I know right now a bunch of crazies are duking it out at the Boxing Day sales but gee, I couldn’t think of anything worse. My Boxing Day tradition is very different. It’s a time to chill, a day to put the feet up after the exertions and excesses of the day previous, a day to quietly review gifts given, to tuck into the plenitude of leftovers and – above all – to settle down in front of the TV for the start of the Boxing Day test match.

This year there’re leftovers, but not so many gifts, and though I fed well throughout the day the excesses were kept to a minimum. As for exertions? Quite.

I’m set, all the same. I’ve been out, bought some milk for my coffee, plus some avocados and a good loaf of Turkish bread for lunch of leftover chicken in sandwiches. As I write this the national anthems are being sung before the start of the test match. I won’t stir much from here on in.

Yesterday was predictably modest. Lunch was good, but I went easy on it. I watched some Netflix, then a Bergman movie. Initially, I was going to watch Wild Strawberries, but upon reflection decided that wasn’t a good option, being all about regret after all. Instead, I settled for The Seventh Seal.

Somewhere amid that I had a nap and did some reading, before hopping in the car and making the short trip to JV’s. It was low-key and pleasant there. They’d returned from a predictably full-on family day. We had a glass or two of wine, fired up the barbie, and talked long into the balmy night.

That was enough for me Christmas Day. Until then I was feeling it a little, but that ticked it off.

Today I’m spot on. No dramas. All the related pressure of the festive season has dropped away. I can be a normal person again.

Christmas morn

It’s Christmas morning and I’ve just returned from walking Rigby to the beach. It’s the kind of day you want to bottle – 26 degrees and blue-skied.

As always on Christmas morning the streets seemed unnaturally quiet. Behind closed doors, I imagined, children rampaged and parents smiled indulgently in this precious family time. They would get out and about later, crisscrossing Melbourne as they went to parents and grandparents for the day’s festivities. Now, it was all theirs.

The few people I did see were in their shorts and nodded festively to me as I greeted them. The beach was quiet too. It had been groomed overnight and had been insufficiently disturbed to hide signs of it. A few odd couples walked along the pathway at the rear of it, and on the beach, there were widely spaced specks of individuals and families with their towels.

We walked to the water’s edge and, as always, Rigby plunged in. Soon enough I’d waded in up to my knees. We spent 5-10 minutes in the water before we clambered atop the bluestone breakwater extending into the sea.

All of this had become recent tradition, a touchstone for the day. Christmas is all about ritual, and if I no longer have my old rituals then I must invent new. Part of it is the breakwater, which has taken on meaning far beyond its modest purpose.

We always clamber atop it and look out to sea, at the tankers lurking in the distant haze, at the random yachts scudding across the bay. Turn the other way and there’s the shore, people coming and going, and beyond that the nearest thing I have to a home.

In the book, I’m writing there’s a hill that has significance for the protagonist. Over time and through habit it has been imbued with meaning. It’s the place he goes to get away from the world, the place he comes to think. It’s his refuge, if not quite a sanctuary – but it is his.

I walk by the beach occasionally with Rigby and often we’ll stop to climb atop the breakwater, but at those moments it means nothing. It finds its meaning at Christmas because it has become a part of my ritual. I don’t think a lot about it while I’m there, but I feel it. It has become a touchstone for me, something personal on a day when I no longer have anything personal to share.

Earlier in the night, I’d been woken at about 3.30 by Rigby wanting to go outside. I realised as I led him out that it was Christmas day. “Merry Christmas”, I told him.

I woke at the normal time after that, and as I would on any normal day off I made myself a coffee and returned to check up on the news overnight, before turning to my book.

I finished the book at about 8.30 and I got up to collect the few presents waiting for me, and to give Rigby his Christmas present (a pork bone, devoured with relish). I returned to bed to open my presents – an excellent bottle of boutique Japanese gin, and a couple of gifts from the kids – a cooking set and a big box of liquor chocolates, gratefully received. My sister probably bought them for the kids to give, which gave me pause.

Soon enough I’ll commence preparations for lunch. There’s a butterflied chicken I’ve been brining overnight I’ll roast with lemon and garlic and a sprinkling of thyme. I’ll have all the usual trimmings to go with it. Later on, I’ll be at JV’s for a barbecue, for which I’m grateful.

Now? I might just have a glass of eggnog.

Merry Christmas everyone. Hoping you all have a warm and loving day.

The movies that make you think

I said to someone recently that I’d prefer to discuss Bergman films than the footy scores. That’s a bit of an exaggeration – I live and die by the scores – but I’m done after about 20 minutes, which is when I like to engage in more meaningful conversation, such as Ingmar Bergman movies. This was always the case more or less, just that now I’ve got much less patience for the sort of superficial discussion that passes as conversation so often.

All that is by way of preamble to a discussion on some classic movies I’ve watched recently.

I watched Last Year at Marienbad last month and was intrigued, to say the least. There’s something hypnotic about the story, and how it’s told, but at the end of it I no more knew the truth of it than anyone else.

A couple of weeks ago I actually watched a Bergman movie, Winter Light. It’s a bleakish tale about a minister who has pretty well lost faith. There’s a troubled parishioner he utterly fails to help (and who consequently shoots himself), and a woman who loves him. It’s despairing in many ways, but fascinating, crisply made, beautifully acted, and with a thought provoking script. This is what I like about Bergman movies, and others like him, they get beneath the skin. There aren’t superficial effects here, rather he addresses human nature, human frailty, and first causes. He makes movies like I want to write books. There’s truth in his vision and authenticity you recognise.

In this case, it ends on a slight upswing as the minister, muddled and depressed, is given insight into true faith by a devout follower wanting to discuss something he had pondered.

In the coming weeks, I plan to watch a few more classic Bergman movies – The Seventh Seal, Persona, and – my favourite of his – Wild Strawberries.

Then last week I watched again a crackerjack American classic from the fifties, The Sweet Smell of Success.

Burt Lancaster is one of my favourite actors of the era. He had presence on screen, and was an intelligent, thoughtful man off it. In this, he’s typically great as the toxic J.J. Hunsacker. Tony Curtis is fantastic also as Sydney Falco. In a lot of ways, this is an utterly depressing movie that highlights much of the worst of human nature. It’s about cynical people who exploit and play upon human frailty from greed or ambition or misguided love. The action takes place over the course of a couple of nights in NYC and rushes along as the Falco character tries to do the dirty work for Hunsacker and get in his good graces. Lives are damaged, relationships destroyed, and at the end of it the tyrant Hunsacker is abandoned, and Falco is beaten up, all his contrivances come to naught.

One of the things that occurred to me watching is how contemporary it seemed. This is a movie that could be made today with very little change. It just goes to show too that while we think things are bad now, they’ve always been bad one way or another.

In Hunsacker we have a virtual populist fascist. Back then he was a gossip columnist – today he’s a politician. He thinks he does holy work, has zero self-awareness, he upholds the integrity of the American people, and is casually, brutally violent. There is no compassion in him, no compromise, no insight into other perspectives or any allowance for it. He sees himself as a noble crusader when in fact he epitomises a kind of tyranny.

Falco is the classic opportunist, willing to trade anything if it means he gets ahead. His conscience might squeak from time to time, but it’s easily bought off. There are no ideals, no integrity, no beliefs in a man such as that, he stands for nothing but himself.

It’s a great but merciless movie. If you want to see a similarly cynical movie from the same era check out Kirk Douglas in Ace in the Hole.

We live in bleak, cynical times, but hard to find two more cynical films than those two from the fifties. They’re great movies but they don’t make you feel any better about humankind.