31 July 2007


by Matt Rubinstein at 12:55 am

pictureA short film I wrote has its première at the Melbourne International Film Festival tonight. Punch is an 11-minute fable of heartache and cream pies directed by Sotiris Dounoukos, who I most recently worked with on Paper & Sand—which, gratifyingly, is still screening around the place, including last week at the Bangkok International Film Festival, whose website lists the director as “Satiris”, which is funny for all kinds of reasons.

I wrote Punch a few years ago, and soon after that Sotiris found himself in Paris and decided to shoot it there. As everybody now knows, I don’t speak much French, so the cast and crew translated my script and filmed it over a guerrilla weekend in which nobody got any sleep and at least one car crashed at the sight of the wonderful Guillaume Clémencin wandering the streets in his red wig and hilarious shoes. I wish I’d been there. The film has been in post-production for a while and is now looking fantastic. Naturally the English subtitles were an absolute walk in the park and perfectly match the writer’s intentions, which you can’t always say about subtitles.

Tonight’s screening is part of a showcase of Australian shorts and is sold out—I’ll be queueing up hoping for no-shows myself. The film is also screening on Sunday before Falkenberg Farewell, a Scandinavian feature which has something to do with “the Jar of Unexpected Tragedy”—maybe a kind of Pandora’s Box?

20 July 2007

Words, words, words

by Matt Rubinstein at 10:11 am

jack.jpgI did a lot of talking in June, and it wasn’t all about myself (though a lot of it was). At the Sydney Writers’ Festival I spoke about digital books and copyright with Sherman Young and Michael Fraser. Sherman gave a very provocative talk about how books have to go digital or else:

The bottom line is that in 2007, books must embrace the possibilities of digital. Sure, there are issues to be discussed and hurdles to overcome, but unless it happens, books are dead. Weighed down by printed objects, the unique qualities and virtues of books will be sidelined in an increasingly irrelevant part of the cultural universe.

It’s exciting stuff, though I think that for most books the hurdles are maybe a bit more significant than Sherman reckons—which is both good and bad: we can go on doing things the way we’re doing them for a while longer, but we could be doing things a lot better. Anyway, my speech is over here. Michael’s doesn’t seem to have turned up online, but he made some important points about why we need copyright (though I don’t think we need quite as much as we’ve got).

Anyway—while I was putting up the speech I thought I might as well do the other ones. So here’s my talk about literary mysteries, and the one about zines and blogs.

14 July 2007

Me, me, me

by Matt Rubinstein at 1:16 pm

matt.jpgThere’s an even more extensive profile of me in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. I must say there’s something very warming about the day you’re in the paper in your own town. I’ve been strutting around like I own the place, though of course I’ll be fishwrap by tomorrow.

The online version has only my name in the byline, which sets up an interesting paradox—can you say “he comes close to being self-deprecating” about yourself? But don’t be fooled—it was Kelsey Munro who did the interview and wrote the article. Kelsey has a background in rock journalism, must surely be sick of that “dancing about architecture” line by now, and recently did a trenchant review of a gig by my friend Macromantics, née Romy Hoffman, who is doing great things in Australian hip-hop:

Best of all, in a triumphant two-hander with DJ Amy sharing vocals, Hoffman somehow rhymed “macadamia” with an “Acca Dacca stadium”. That’s as Australian a piece of assonance as ever there was.

I agree. It’s a good interview (back to me), though I notice I’ve started to repeat myself a bit. If only I were a more interesting person! (he said, almost self-deprecatingly). I’ll have to make up some new stories.

And I promise to blog about some things other than myself soon.

10 July 2007

Everyone’s a critic

by Matt Rubinstein at 5:08 pm

rain.jpgThere was a nice profile of me in Melbourne’s The Sunday Age last weekend, with a hilarious and very appropriate picture of me looking soaked and monkish. It starts with more comparisons of the good kind with that little-known book about some sort of code:

Rubinstein, 33, is one of the few people who hasn’t yet read Da Vinci but comparisons seem inevitable – even though his compelling work, A Little Rain on Thursday, is in quite a different literary league, rich with characters and intellect.

I had a good chat with journalist Andrew Stephens about the similarities between me and the wild-eyed obsessives in the book, which the photo only corroborates. He also put in quite a bit about my mum, which was great. Gill has obviously been a tremendous influence and inspiration from the get-go, not only advocating the pleasures of the writing life but also warning of its occasional heartbreaks. Though, as Sunday’s article concludes:

with A Little Rain on Thursday receiving a glowing reception and the June issue of Australian Book Review describing it as “The Da Vinci Code with brains”, heartbreak seems far away.

Well, it never seems that far away to me. But the reception has been pretty good so far. The Age review on Saturday didn’t really dig the book; The Australian called it “richly imagined”, “highly original” and “enormously clever”, but there was a but. But The Advertiser thought it “an intelligent, thought-provoking and entertaining novel”, and the Courier-Mail said: “A Little Rain on Thursday is an alluring mix… part love story, part whodunit, part poetry, it is a book with something for everyone”. The Sydney Morning Herald was also positive and threw in a nice reference to Arturo Perez-Reverte, a great writer of literary mysteries who not enough people know about.

I hope there’ll be some reviews from the UK soon, though Vellum hasn’t been out a week yet. There may be some Czech ones, but it’s hard to tell! In the meantime, Australian Book Review has kindly given me permission to reproduce its review, the one that started it all and still the glowingest of the bunch. It’s from page 48 of the June 2007 ABR and is available right here.