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Cinema: Pride

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

I walked into Pride expecting to see a cheesy little feel-good spectacle about a small town set free by a liberating group of gays and lesbians. Sort of the way Kinky Boots tried to but then conked out at the finish line. Here, the finishing line is unforgettable. This gay alliance group have more on their minds than unlocking some prejudice. Based on actual events that took place in 1984 and 1985, directed by Matthew Warchus, acted with energy and love by a great cast, and with a big heart hanging overhead, this is a love letter to an era when times were about to change. There was a long way to go then, the hysteria and horror of the Aids epidemic was making international headlines, and gay and lesbian people were, as they often still are, accused of pushing their own agenda. Warchus, together with writer Stephen Beresford, captures the mood and attitude of the era perfectly.



Cinema: The 2014 British Film Festival

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

“Why have you come back here?” Max Morden is asked when he returns to a house filled with painful childhood memories. “I don’t know”, he answers wearily. In The Sea, a low-key drama screening at this year’s British Film Festival, we watch a man, seemingly without choice, surrender to the past. It has a claim on all of us whether we want to admit it or not but how pressing the debt is, and how strong the hold it has on us may be, depends of course on us. How we perceive those events, how we could’ve helped divert a tragedy. Adapted by the author John Banville from his award-winning 2005 novel (it beat Kazuo Ishiguro’s stunning Never Let Me Go to the Booker Prize by a single vote), starring Ciarin Hinds, Charlotte Rampling, Rufus Sewell, Natasha McElhone, and Sinead Cusack, and sensitively directed by Stephen Brown, it all comes under close scrutiny.



Who We Were



Reviewed by Leanne Weymans

Annabelle’s great love is the world of science. Surrounded with lab coats, beakers and microscopes is where Anna feels most at home. It is no surprise then when she meets Bill Whitton that she knows instinctively they are destined to be together as they share a passion for the pursuit of knowledge via scientific methods. Who We Were by Lucy Neave charts the ebbs and flows of Anna and Bill’s love affair as they endure the horror of World War II, immigration to another country and the trials and tribulations of working for the US government during the Cold War. Neave has used literary devices such as setting, characterisation and structure to explore themes of loyalty, ethics and patriotism.



The Letters of Ernest Hemingway 1907-1922


Reviewed by Hazel Menehira

If you have read all his books and consider you are getting to grips with the life and work of popular 20th Century icon Ernest Hemingway – think again. Readers that devote time to study these, The Letters of Ernest Hemingway 1907-1922 ,will savour different perspectives about both the life and character of the writer with a tough guy public persona.


A drover without a whip is like ...


Reviewed by Jill 

Bruce Simpson worked as an outback drover till the 1960s.  His earlier book, Where the outback drovers ride treated the reader to a close-up of droving life, the good and the not-so-good.  Drover – a celebration of Bruce Simpson’s Outback, a lighter, illustrated edition, has not sacrificed any magic.  Photographer Darren Clark, tasked with travelling the outback of Queensland and the Northern Territory has captured a life that Simpson feared was gone.  His images parallel Simpson’s superbly edited text.


An Average Joe: My horribly abnormal life


Reviewed by Thea Biesheuvel


This is a memoir of sorts.  It is also a biography of sorts. Most readers will have met the author as the interviewer and presenter of the national ABC TV series Dumb, Drunk and Racist, as well as the Shitsville Express, where his bubbly style of posing seemingly innocuous questions often revealed a profound search for the truth.  His subjects in these experimental programmes inadvertently disclosed the very biases and disconnects in values which are the focus of his concern. 


Cinema: Whiplash

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Every year around this time, there are performances that have Oscar triumph written all over them. 12 months ago, Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey, and Jared Leto were all so locked in that the announcements were a mere formality. Anyone who has seen Whiplash, the new film by Damien Chazelle, would have to agree that next year, it will be the same for J.K. Simmons. In this story of a young drummer called Andrew Neyman, played with blood and sweat by Miles Teller, who ends up under the tutelage of Terence Fletcher, a brutally demanding music teacher, Simmons is electrifying. Dark brutal, disturbing, and inspiring, the action on this battlefield never flags.



Cinema: Force Majeure

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Force Majeure, recently chosen as Sweden’s bid for the Foreign Language category at next year’s Academy Awards, is one of the most fascinating films of the year. It’ll take some stiff competition to not only keep this film out of the race but to keep it from winning. It is one of those films where everything comes together. It clicks into place like so many jigsaw pieces and yet director Ruben Ostlund lets it stagger and spin as the characters try to make sense of their disillusion. 



Cinema: Fury

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear David Ayer’s war film Fury is an adaptation of a graphic novel. Set during the final days of World War II in Germany as seen through the eyes of a small group of American soldiers who trundle around in their tank dubbed Fury, Ayer presents us with the wages of war: the suffering, the terror, and the methodical, repetitive slaughter. It’s all shot in one colour scheme composed of grey, green, and brown and by the time we join this little unit, they’ve significantly and happily upped the body count. Its an ugly film and adequately acted, but its too cartoonish, and too shallow.



The English Civil Wars: A Beginner's Guide


Reviewed by Donald Lawie

 The nation we know as The United Kingdom has a long and turbulent history. Invasions, wars and insurrections occurred throughout recorded history and continued into the twentieth century. One of the most divisive periods spanned the two decades from 1640 until 1660 and is covered by the general title of “The English Civil Wars”. Charles the First, the second Stuart king of England, believed that he was destined by Divine Right to rule his country as he saw fit. The elected and appointed members of the Parliament believed that The People should have a say in the conduct of the Government which in turn should exercise a controlling influence on the Monarch. These irreconcilable attitudes inevitably led to conflict, impasse and finally armed insurrection by the Parliament against the King.



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