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Cinema: Spy

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

On the evidence of her work since the breakout hit Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy needs to work with director Paul Feig always. She’s been hard to credit since then, with the exception of a dramatic turn in last year’s St. Vincent where she played a desperate, single mother. The Heat, also directed by Feig, had its moments but Identity Thief and Tammy were both futile and the big joke was how foul-mouthed, detestable, and slobbish she could be. In Spy the language is flying thick and fast (too often attaching “fuck” to the insult is the punchline) but she’s a flesh and blood character, she has something to build on, and she does it very well. In this loose parody of all things Bond (even the credits riff on it) where she has great support from a villainous Rose Byrne, a surprisingly funny Jason Statham, a brittle Allison Janney, and a perfectly gawky Miranda Hart as her best friend, she reigns.



Blu Ray/DVD: R100

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Do you want to see a movie that will have you asking “What the hell was that?” or “Why is she doing that?” or even “Did I really just see that?” Yes? Then look no further that Hitoshi Matsumoto’s R100, the nuttiest, loopiest, and, depending on your sense of humour, funniest movie you’ll see this year. Japan is known for extreme eccentricity, and the aggressive exploitation of it. Just look at the game show Bonsai, where the hosts shove their faces at the camera in unbridled glee, arrange outrageous challenges that result in comic humiliation, and feature characters like Mr. Shake Hands Man, an oddball who hunts celebrities and sees just how long he can pump their hand before they let go. R100 pushes the possibilities further. It is like nothing you’ve seen before so don’t expect a lucid narrative or grounded characters nor should you try and define it. From off-the-wall comedy to noir flourishes to melodrama to unbridled kink, Matsumoto, a gutsy director with little interest in cohesion, takes R100 where it suits him, suddenly and without warning.



The Life of Houses


Reviewed by Maggie Ball 

Though the book reads quickly, it’s denser than it feels. As a reader, I felt it was necessary to slow down my reading so I could notice all the descriptive detail and the power in each word in The Life of Houses, allowing the story to unfold at its own rhythm and get fully under the skin. This is an utterly beautiful and somewhat sad story that grows in power with re-reading as it strikes at the heart of human relationships, families, self-perception, and how we make meaning in our lives.




Reviewed by Maggie Ball 

At times, the poems are so full of parataxis, clever juxtaposition, ironic aside and syntactical juggling, that the poems, taken too quickly or in too large a dose can create a kind of vertigo. However, I couldn’t leave the book alone. It kept drawing me back, one poem at a time, and each time I returned I found something new; something powerful.


The Bookman's Tale



Reviewed by Maggie Ball 

Peter’s healing develops naturally through the chapters, and ultimately makes The Bookman’s Tale an immensely satisfying and pleasurable read that combines a range of genres and above all else, celebrates the beauty and wonder of the literary word.


Ninety 9



Reviewed by Maggie Ball 

There’s a real beauty to this little book, from the attractive matt finish, small, square format that characterises all of the Giramondo shorts, to the Berry’s own hand-drawn illustrations, which give the book a slightly rogue, zine feel. The book is written in light, clear prose, using a confessional first person form, which begins with Berry at the age of eleven. This style invites the reader in immediately, inviting us to share both her family life – including her gifted sister’s music lessons and the tension between Berry and her mother, as well as her secret and later, not so secret yearnings.


Available Dark



Reviewed by Duncan Lawie

Cass Neary is “a burned-out, aging punk with a dead gaze, a faded tattoo, and a raw red scar beside one eye” (10). She has led an ugly and disappointing life, a woman who never escaped from the thrills of youth even though those thrills have burned away. In a new decade of a new century, she is living a new and possibly even uglier life. Available Dark is the second novel to centre on her activities and the first few pages recap enough of Neary's previous outing to understand that it was a grim venture without it being a spoiler. Indeed, it is very efficient writing – a feature throughout the book – that gives an indication of what kind of protagonist we have and of the kind of story we are likely to see.


The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship and the Writing Life


Reviewed by Jay Daniel Thompson

The Write Crowd doesn't look promising. The title is cheesy and the front cover has the garish, no-frills aesthetics of a festival programme. Fortunately, the book’s contents tell a different, more sophisticated story.



Cinema: Mad Max: Fury Road

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

The exultant thumbnails on Rotten Tomatoes for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road are enough to impress even the most jaded of critics. “A double-barrelled shotgun enema straight to the senses” says Geoff Pevere of Globe and Mail, “Propelled by Miller’s nitro-burning aesthetic vision” clucks Michael O’Sullivan of Washington Post, while Nick Rogers of Suite101.com declares from his high horse “It marries unadulterated, uncompromised thematic weight to an onslaught of juggernaut action”. Uncompromised thematic weight? But the cake goes to Stephen Rebello of Playboy Online who squeals it’s “Utterly unhinged, magnificently inspired, hugely ambitious, deeply weird, emotionally resonant”. With the greasy, golden colour scheme, gallons of gasoline, deafening gunfire, and impressively choreographed action sequences performed by lean members of the Cirque Du Soleil troupe, the film scores again and again, but emotionally resonant?



Janella's Super Natural Foods



Reviewed by Hazel Menehira


The professional approach of talented nutritionist Janella Purcell and the popularity on screen of her ‘let’s keep it simple’ approach to well being will draw fans to the 150 recipes in her latest book Janella’s Super Natural Foods. 


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