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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.



DVD: The German Doctor

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Its impossible to avoid comparing the creepy new film The German Doctor to the twisted 1978 thriller The Boys from Brazil. Unlike the nightmare that was Gregory Peck who played the notorious Auschwitz surgeon Josef Mengele, the man responsible for the deaths of well over 2 million people during the Holocaust, director Lucia Puenzo, who penned the 2011 novel Wakolda about Mengele, comes at the material with a more studied approach. Peck’s Mengele was a lumbering, imperious monster. Here, as played by Alex Brendemuhl, he’s urbane and seductive. That cult film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner was big and star-driven (Josef Mengele died in Sao Paulo shortly after its release) and it still packs a solid punch but Puenzo's take is more delicate and more menacing for it.



DVD/Blu Ray: Starred Up

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Starred Up, a hard hitting new prison drama directed by David Mackenzie and featuring Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn, is so named to describe young offenders who wind up incarcerated in adult prisons. They're too much for juvenile detention. Bitter, aggressive, and charged up, O’Connell is Eric Love, the prison’s newest resident, and he's like a walking Tom Thumb. We get little background on him but its enough that he’s crackling with hate and resentment for a system that has completely failed him and for the adults, let that read predators, who were supposedly in charge of his welfare. His fury is too big for his wiry body.



DVD: The Lunchbox

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

The Lunchbox
, written and directed by Ritesh Batra (what a debut!) and starring Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is as delicious as it sounds. It often recalls the exquisite Merchant Ivory drama . Love cannot always be, even when its within your grasp, but fate can intervene and cultural expectation can dictate. On the surface the contentions of sound treacly, even soft, but Batra’s affectionate approach gives the film plaintive notes.



Below a Time



Reviewed by Ian Lipke

In this volume of short stories Hazel Menehira has scoured her vast reservoir of stories and experiences that have been gathered over a period of not less than sixty years to provide a collection that "teems with life, amazing characters, and humour. Storylines are varied: credible, somewhat strange, close to crime, speculative, beyond any square, and even bizarre" (publisher's blurb). I have to agree with this description: there is a very wide range of experiences here; whether the effort of collecting them was worthwhile is yet to be determined. What I find unusual is that we are proudly informed that Menehira's Green Stone Guardians story was selected from 500 submissions for Radio New Zealand, yet the story is not included in the collection. The names of the newly written stories are listed, and this is a major point in the author's favour - but why not the one that is the competition winner?


Beyond a Time: poems new and selected



Reviewed by Ian Lipke

This collection of poems forms part of a two booklet publication by this remarkable writer. In this review I will deal with the poetry while the short stories will be treated separately. In the first instance I would like to mention that the poet has melded twenty-five new poems with selections from her sixty years as a writer and teacher. The new poems are listed on pp 115 - 16. Hazel Menehira does not ask for much. She says, "If readers are moved to smile, chuckle, reflect upon, think, philosophise or re-read any of these poems I could ask for nothing more - oh, except to continue writing such lines" (back cover). 


Grace's Table


Reviewed by Leigh Coyle

 “What would happen when all the old-fashioned grandmas went the same way as the word 'pudding'?” so laments Grace, the pivotal character (and grandma in question) in Brisbane writer Sally Piper’s debut novel, Grace’s Table. This densely detailed tale brings together Grace’s family and friends––­­a multi-generational group of twelve––on the occasion of her seventieth birthday, to share a feast she and her daughter Susan have prepared.



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