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'screens'

DVD/Blu Ray: Housebound

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

I was only talking to a friend at Christmas about the state of modern horror movies and how dreary they've become. His bone of contention was that they coast through on gratuitous violence and how so many of them seem to be scored with heavy metal music as if it made them hardcore. He’d love Housebound, a deliciously kooky horror comedy from New Zealand that returns us to the good old things-that-go-bump-in-the-night style. Of course it skipped cinemas as so many finely crafted films do these days, and crafted is the key word here. From beginning to end, writer and director Gerard Johnstone, who obviously has great affection for the genre, turns the screws with comedy as black as night, perfectly aimed scares, and spot-on deadpan performances. This is a very good movie.

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Cinema: Seventh Son

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

It seems a rather cruel joke to release films like Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son during the Oscar season. There’s no right time for films as silly as these of course but when they star the winners of this year’s coveted statuettes, Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore, well… Redmayne is still busily turning cinemas on with his whispery, camp turn in that nutty galactic adventure and now Moore is set to do something similar with her witchy, dragon adventure but the big surprise is that Moore, some sort of shape-shifting dragon released from purgatory and set to wreak havoc across the land, isn’t the one to watch. Here it’s another Oscar winner, Jeff Bridges, who camps it up so shamelessly you’ll wish you’d bought a tent just so you can join in. With tousled blond locks, Bridges is Master Gregory, a witch-hunter, a “spook”. He’s fearless, wears capes that make him look like Mary, Queen of Scots, and he talks as if he has a crowbar in his mouth. He’s a riot, sort of the Gandalf of the piece, and he's just what Seventh Son needs. Aimed at teens that will probably laugh at how Barbie the swordplay and sorcery are, there’s little going on that will make you gasp in delight but there’s plenty to make you howl.

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Weirdly Credible - The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures

 

 

Reviewed by swirleybitz

The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures sounds like something to have handy by your bedside in case of ghosts, ghouls or other unexplained phenomena and maybe it is, but it is so much more. This work showcases exciting new research into intriguing everyday aspects of parapsychology, critiqued through different filters and from different viewpoints.  This work offers interest, and entertaining insight for casual readers curious about the paranormal although part of a series from the same publisher, targeted at scholars and graduate students through presenting cutting-edge scholarly research.

 

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Pursuing Love & Death

 

Reviewed by Leigh Coyle

 It is less than a week until Luna’s wedding, and the prospect of an imminent reunion has the members of the Smith family panicking as they are forced to question and confront the unique, and frequently, obsessive delusions (and realities) impacting on their connections with others.  Adelaide poet, Heather Taylor Johnson’s debut novel, Pursuing Love & Death, explores the delicate balances between love and duty, self-sacrifice and self-indulgence through five central characters––Graham, Velma, Ginsberg, Luna and Darren––and asks whether there can ever be such a thing as an ideal family.

 

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Cinema: Selma

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

One of the biggest disgraces when the Best Actor nominee list for the Academy Awards was revealed a month ago was the jarring absence of David Oyelowo for his performance as Martin Luther King in Ava DuVernay’s powerful biopic Selma. Complex, understated, and charismatic, of all the historical characters bought to life for us in the last year, and there were so many, this was the most effective, and the most memorable. There’s such power in it, and such grace. After a string of fine performances in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Paperboy, and Lincoln, the British-Nigerian Oyelowo surely knew this was his moment. He never pushes. With immense dignity, he stands his ground, and the scenes when he faces off against President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) feature some of the finest acting of the year. Yes this is an historical film about racial intolerance and yes it contains disturbing, teeth-grinding scenes that make you want to jump into the film and beat down the oppressors but even then, Selma feels like a stand-alone film. The biggest mystery is why it took so long for this story to be told.

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Cinema: Jupiter Ascending

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Watching Jupiter Ascending is like watching a galactic beauty pageant with plenty of bitchy backstage action. Set in a multicultural galaxy far, far away, the lean and lovely residents all swan about in glamorous gowns and fabulous hats. You never see anyone relaxing, watching movies, or shopping. They all just walk the catwalks or sit and stare at the vast cosmos, waiting to see their true queen crowned. That moment will be some kind of Armageddon where we see half of Chicago destroyed by mean little aliens and overgrown lizards in stunning leather jackets who work for an evil bitch called Balem, played by Eddie Redmayne, who delivers his lethal instructions in a soft, throaty timbre, wears capes, and keeps his locks immaculate. The appearance of this queen, actually a genetic reincarnation of his dead mother, is a moment he’s been dreading, as has his pretty brother Titus (Douglas Booth). Their world will be torn asunder.

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After I'm Gone

 

 

Reviewed by Gemma Collett

Laura Lippman’s After I’m Gone begins with the words of American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the

world, which I find myself constantly walking

around in the daytime, and falling in at night.

 

These words very clearly signal what is to come. 

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The Swan Book

 

 

Reviewed by morgi 

The saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. But when I picked up my copy of The Swan Book, the look and feel of the cover thrilled me. Dark & foreboding, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this book. The opening chapter was intriguing - following the path of the “virus” I could not imagine what was going to happen next.


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Savage harvest

 

 

Reviewed by Jill 

West New Guinea’s Asmat territory is a 10,000 square kilometre tract of low-lying land, bordering the shallow Arafura Sea.   Into this mud, mangrove and tidally inundated region came Michael Rockefeller – young, ambitious and eager to acquire artefacts for his father’s Museum of Primitive Art.  He remains there to this day.  Some believe he drowned.  Others believe he was ritually killed.  Journalist Carl Hoffman visited Asmat, The Netherlands and Spain to garner what information he could and determine Michael's likely fate.   He gives political and ethnological  background to the region, and a reconstruction of Rockefeller’s last days.  Savage harvest  is a totally absorbing and sometimes awful account.

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Orgasmology

 

 

Reviewed by Jay Daniel Thompson

A perk of being a reviewer is receiving books with titles such as Orgasmology. In her latest text, Annamarie Jagose provides a cultural history of the orgasm—that most fascinating and cryptic of phenomena. 

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