Category Archives: Crime fiction and film from Indonesia

Dishing up Pulp Curry in a new way: why I am starting a Substack newsletter

After much thought I have decided that to experiment with moving the focus of my blogging from this site to a new Pulp Curry Substack newsletter.

Why am I doing this?

The first post on this website appeared on July 2010 (about the incredibly underrated 1979 Australian heist film, Money Moversyou can read the post here). I’ve been writing on the site with varying frequency ever since (579 posts in all), and for the most part have enjoyed it immensely.

But for the last 12 or so months I just haven’t been feeling it – or getting the hits to make it seem worthwhile – and have started to wonder whether it’s worth continuing with the effort. Posting on a website has been starting to feel like the equivalent of trying to read a broadsheet newspaper in a crowded tram carriage, unwieldy and inconvenient.

And, thinking about it, I suspect the blog format is starting to get a bit stale for me and is actually now a brake on my posting more regularly.

I know that I’m no Robinson Crusoe in this regard. The majority of the blogs I used to follow have gradually fallen by the wayside, as people have moved on, grown weary of the effort, found other interests, adopted other means to get their message out, or, in some cases (gulp), died.… Read more

“We need gangsters to get things done”

Act of KillingFrom the first scene, a bizarre musical number involving dancers emerging from the mouth of a giant fish, to the last, an old man being physically sick at the memory of his actions (whether genuinely or not is unclear), The Act of Killing is a riveting, at times, unbelievable piece of documentary film making.

In 1965, the height of the Cold War, a section of the Indonesian military staged an unsuccessful coup. It was very quickly blamed on the influence of the then powerful Indonesian communist party. A massive campaign of killing targeted anyone suspected of being a communist, including trade unionists, farmers, intellectuals and ethnic Chinese, or anyone unlucky enough to be on the wrong side of a score that needed settling.

Up to a million people were murdered. The main assailants were paramilitary death squads. The killing was out of control and chillingly low-tech in its nature. As the film states at the beginning, the men who carried it out “have been in power and have persecuted their opponents ever since.”

US director, Joshua Oppenheimer, asked two of these men from Medan in North Sumatra, to recreate their actions on film. They do it with an enthusiasm that is sometimes hard to watch.

You can read the rest of this review here at the website for Overland Magazine.Read more