Month: July 2015

Julius Caesar by Philip Freeman – Book Review

cvr9780743289542_9780743289542_hrI love me a good historical biography and I really enjoyed this account of one of the greatest figures in history. As with any serious historical non-fiction, you can’t just skim over it casually and it requires your full concentration, but it was so absorbing I finished it in a space of three days, abandoning the usual distractions of TV and internet. It also helped that it was written in a very straightforward, accessible language.

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Dark City – Film Review

darkcityThis moody sci-fi mind-bender was a pleasure to revisit. Released a year before The Matrix, it explored some similar themes in its own unique way, and has aged really well. The special effects look a tad cheap and dated here and there, but because the story is set in a world that never sees the sun, the dimly lit environment does well to hide the imperfections. Visually, the film is a marvel, with many memorable images, fantastic noirish atmosphere and superb set design.

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Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – Film Review

Going_Clear_PosterI was once involved with Scientology for a brief period in my early 20s. I knew absolutely nothing about it at the time, and ended up joining by chance: I got handed a flyer on the street about a free personality test, and decided to take it on a whim. My teens and early 20s weren’t always the happiest of times; I suffered from major social anxiety and inability to relate to my peers, which wasn’t helped by my family moving to Australia when I was 15. So I guess I was drawn by the promise that these people could help me out. I haven’t stuck there for long though. It’s not that I felt like something was off, the people were nice and genuine and the auditing exercises I did were often cathartic, but I’m just not a joiner at heart. There’s always a sceptical, detached part of me that stands apart with crossed arms and won’t melt and flow, and thinks that the promotional video I’ve just seen is really quite cheesy. My attitude was, ok I’ve had powerful experiences at your organisation which taught me valuable things about myself, but now, goodbye. No, really, bye. Which of course hasn’t stopped the Melbourne Scientology centre from bombarding my mailbox with spam for the next 15 years.

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This Charming Man by Marian Keyes – Book Review

THIS-CHARMING-MAN-appI read a few novels by Marian Keyes (a.k.a. the Irish Queen of Chick Lit), but while I enjoyed them all to various degrees most of them fall into the “read once and forget” basket. This book had stuck with me though, I’ve just re-read it for the second time in two years and loved it as much as when I first read it. At nearly 900 pages (set at a pretty large font mind you), it’s a breeze and pleasure to read.

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Rams – Film Review

1431335012201I love Icelandic language – even the name of this movie, which is just wooly things that go baaaa, sounds epic in Icelandic: Hrutar!

This was another film screening at the Palace Cinemas as part of the Scandinavian Film Festival, and one I wanted to see the most, because of its setting and also because it won a prize at Cannes (mind you, so did Dancer in the Dark and I wanted to strangle that movie).

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Out of Nature – Film Review

Out-of-Nature3Scandinavian Film Festival is on at the Palace Cinemas, so friend and I went to see this Norwegian feature. I’m a sucker for the scenery, and I have a basic love for the “characters go out into the wilderness to find themselves” subgenre. It’s a very minimalist film with virtually no plot which centres on Martin, a 30-something man who feels like his life is in a rut. He’s bored with his job and his marriage, and though he clearly loves his little son he’s got no idea how to relate to him in a meaningful way. So he sets out on a lone hike across the local mountains for the weekend, and that’s pretty much the whole movie – Martin trekking along while we listen to his stream-of-consciousness voiceover. He agonises a lot over his marriage and his relationship with his son, thinks back to his own remote unaffectionate father, his old carefree life before the marriage which in its own way was just as much of a rut, and imagines scenarios of how his life could be. Plus, he thinks about sex a lot. You know you’re watching a European movie when there’s casual full-frontal male nudity galore.

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