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The Headmaster's Wife



Reviewed by Leanne Weymans

From the time the police ask ‘Why don’t you tell us what happened?’ in the first pages of The Headmaster’s Wife, until the final chapter, author Thomas Christopher Green has the reader hooked in an intriguing tale of Arthur Winthrop and his wife, Elizabeth. Arthur is the headmaster of Lancaster, an elite prep school, where he and Elizabeth reside on the school grounds. They take dinner with the students and other members of the faculty and occupy a privileged position within the school community. It is a shock to all then when Arthur is discovered walking naked through Central Park. The reader is then privy to Arthur’s explanation when he is interviewed by police and reveals the circumstances that led to this watershed moment. As Greene unfolds this tale he employs literary devices of structure, narration and characterisation to explore notions of love loss and grief, resulting in a compelling and unsettling tale. 


The Glass Kingdom


Reviewed by Tom Coyle

The Glass Kingdom by Chris Flynn is a violent, funny, inventive novel about a sideshow with a slideshow — a crystal meth business run from the Target Ball stand in a travelling carnival in regional Australia. At the “unpopular end of sideshow alley”, the stand is owned by ex-Corporal Ben Wallace, an Afghanistan veteran of terrifying appearance and immoderate actions.



Nothing Gold Can Stay



Reviewed by Julie Kearney

Ron Rash is usually described as an Appalachian writer, a designation he says he finds troublesome because, like Chekhov, he has mixed feelings about the use of any adjective in front of ‘writer’. A fair enough statement, I think. Women authors object to being labelled ‘women writers’ and here in Australia indigenous authors rightly complain about being labelled ‘Aboriginal writers’ as if this were some sub-category of mainstream literature. 


Cinema: Nightcrawler

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Along with Force Majeure, Under The Skin, Still Life, and Predestination, Nightcrawler, the brilliant new film by Dan Gilroy, can stand tall as one of the year’s best. This may be the sleaziest underbelly of LA yet seen on film. Shot through a noir lens, its sweaty, grubby, and lethal. The story is brilliantly told and Gilroy, making his directorial debut here, together with his leading man Jake Gyllenhaal who delivers the performance of his career, takes it all the way to the edge, and then over. 



Cinema: The One I Love

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Is your partner, husband, or wife everything you want them to be? Is there just one thing you’d change about them if you could? That’s the engine of The One I Love, the strange story of a couple that gets to find out. On the surface, it looks like the story of a marriage in difficulty but director Charlie McDowell and writer Justin Lader want you to travel deeper and let their story take you off into the furthest reaches of your imagination. Starring Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass, most are certain to find this two hander deliciously mystifying, while others will find it infuriating. This is a movie for people who loved those tantalising blind alley cliffhangers of The Twilight Zone. Those stories left us haunted as to how. Here, the why is what counts.



Cinema: Serena

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Misdirected and miscast, Serena, Susanne Bier’s latest film is as likely to be embraced, as it has been by some media personnel who are bedazzled by its tootsie of a leading girl Jennifer Lawrence, as it is to be shunned. Adapted from a 2008 tome by Ron Rash and originally slated for Angelina Jolie to star and Darren Aronofsky to direct, this film has had a road as rocky as the ones that run through its phony sets. Perhaps Biers, who won an Academy Award in 2010 for In A Better World, was hoping the supposed magic of the Oscar triumph of Silver Linings Playbook, that starred Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, would work again in the Smoky Mountains of 1929 Carolina. It doesn’t. Unfortunately it looks like what it is. Two very “now” looking movie stars donning period clothes and trying to set the screen on fire with lusty moments and nasty behaviour.



The extreme climate of Nicholas Folland



Reviewed by Jill 

Taxidermied creatures, the icy fire of glass and crystal, synthetic turf, found objects, installations, video ... Nicholas Folland reveals the many-faceted works of South Australian artist Nicholas Folland.  A succinct commentary by Lisa Slade provides the bare bones of Folland’s career, and rich detail on his works to date.  Each of eight chapters or short essays features a phase of his oeuvre and ties it to events or people in the history of Folland or his home state. This commentary also reveals a view of South Australia that might surprise.  Folland’s is not flash-of-creativity work.  Close-up and gallery views reveal the technical skills and painstaking attention to detail that carry the works on from the original germ of an idea.  Several photographers have documented works, in progress, during their installation, and in situ. The book Nicholas Folland is the happy product of an individual and team effort.


What a Wonderful World - One Man's attempt to explain the Big Stuff.


Reviewed by Hazel Menehira

Any bus, train or plane traveller who is fortunate enough to gain a seat beside cosmology consultant Marcus Chown will better informed on countless subjects by the time the journey is over. He will chat fluently and easily about space as well as about being a human being. That’s because Chown has the innate skill of explaining complex physics in layman’s terms. He is the author of this remarkable book What a Wonderful World –One Man’s attempt to explain the Big Stuff. 


Cinema: Rock The Casbah

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

“Never make a woman cry because God counts her tears”.

You have to journey to the end of Rock The Casbah, Laila Marrakchi’s sunny ode to grieving, mourning, and acceptance, to appreciate this beautiful sentiment. Its spoken by Omar Sharif, here playing Hassan, the late patriarch of a wealthy Muslim family that has assembled at his lavish villa in Tangiers for the requisite three days to honour his passing. Marrakchi divides her story into three chapters according to the titles of the mourning ritual and paces the melodrama to match it. I loved this film. The atmosphere is charged. The sky is blue, the ocean is glistening in the background, and the food is lavish. The faces, particularly those of the three sisters played by Morjana Alaoui, Nadine Labaki, and Lubna Azabal, who much of the film revolves around, are beautiful. I’m guessing there was some improvisation. They play off each other perfectly.



Cinema/DVD/Blu Ray: The Adventures of Tom Hardy

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Whether you check into a cinema or fire up the Blu Ray player, Tom Hardy is everywhere this week. The one man show Locke, directed by Steven Knight, bows on DVD and Blu Ray courtesy of Madman Entertainment  while The Drop, a genuinely unnerving crime drama also starring James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace is waiting for you in the darkest corner of the city’s cinemas. They’re both great films, atmospheric, and beautifully acted. With his everyman appeal, Hardy suits the noir atmosphere. His performances are so perfectly judged (if you haven't seen him in Bronson, add it to your list), so in the moment.



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