Three and a Half Stars

The Way Back

Film Review: The Way Back is a great showcase for Ben Affleck

March 5, 2020

The sports drama formula in cinema has been the most overused and non-innovative formula in cinema lately. Ever since the early 2000s, Walt Disney Pictures have made a long string of films with a fixed formula: inspirational movies about triumphing over adversity that are mostly based on true stories. Despite the critical reception of the […]

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Altered Carbon

Netflix Review: How does Altered Carbon Season 2 compare to the first?

March 4, 2020

Back in February 2018 Netflix launched the streaming series adaptation of Richard K Morgan’s novel of the same name, Altered Carbon. We called it a nuanced and detailed Blade Runner for the small screen. The series sees humanity’s evolution into a digitised age, where memories and human consciousness can be backed up onto a digital […]

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Film Review: Richard Jewell is a mostly successful return to form for Eastwood as Hauser shines

February 13, 2020

There are few better ways of getting audiences into the cinema than to provide an underdog story. Even superhero films such as Avengers: Endgame (2019) are in their very nature an underdog story; triumphing over adversity and injustice. But the icing on the cake for such stories is that if the film is based on […]

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Turn Left At Venus

Book Review: Explore the secret life of an author in Inez Baranay’s Turn Left At Venus

January 30, 2020

Ada is dying. Watched over by her new nurse, Jay, Ada is preparing for the end. Ada has lived all over the world. Sydney, Bali, San Francisco. And the Old World she doesn’t remember, save for the boat journey as a child when she first met Leyla. But, Jay has no interest in Leyla, because […]

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Sydney Festival Live Review: Poof! Secrets of a Magician proves James Galea is a card boasting humour that is far from sleight

January 23, 2020

Magic is so often about secrets, smoke and mirrors, but James Galea also adds a dash of silliness to the mix. The hip youngster projects a cool and calm exterior that is so charming. He also has an irreverent sense of humour; his tongue is placed firmly in cheek. In Poof! Secrets of a Magician […]

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Fujifilm X-A7 Camera Review: The Best Value Entry Level Mirrorless

January 19, 2020

Fujifilm’s X-A7 may be intended as a step up from smartphones for new photography enthusiasts, but it goes so far beyond just being a phone alternative. With a fully articulating large screen, lightweight body, mic input and face and eye detection autofocus, it’s a strong contender for an affordable and effective content creator’s or vlogger’s […]

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Book Review: Amanda Niehaus’ The Breeding Season is an impressive debut about sex, death and darkness

January 3, 2020

It is not often that we see science threaded into popular fiction plots. Even less common is to have this domain accompanied with an exploration of art. But that’s what we find in Dr. Amanda Niehaus’ debut novel, The Breeding Season, and it’s like a breath of fresh air. Niehaus is a scientist by trade. She leans […]

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Book Review: Kathy O’Shaughnessy’s new work a novel approach to a biography of George Eliot

December 17, 2019

Kathy O’Shaughnessy‘s In Love with George Eliot is subtitled ‘A Novel’. Thank goodness for that, because if not, booksellers and librarians probably would not know where to shelve it. While readable and intensely interesting, the book reads more like a bibliomemoir, more akin to previous George Eliot studies like The Road to Middlemarch and last year’s […]

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Book Review: Mary Costello’s The River Capture is an ambitious ode to James Joyce

December 15, 2019

Mary Costello’s first novel, Academy Street, was shortlisted for a number of awards, and won the Irish Book of the Year Award in 2014. It also shares a lot thematically with her latest work. However, in her second novel, The River Capture, Costello has used a very different narrative style, and although providing some real […]

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Film Review: The Two Popes is a thought-provoking piece of work, featuring a great double act from Pryce and Hopkins

December 4, 2019

Brazillian director Fernando Meirelles has a very interesting body of work. With intense crime thriller City of God (which he co-directed with Katia Lund) as his calling card, Meirelles has always been a filmmaker that aimed for realism and verisimilitude (see: political thriller The Constant Gardener) even if the premise had veered more into a fantastical way […]

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Book Review: Mother of Pearl shows there are many sides to the surrogacy debate

November 17, 2019

Angela Savage may be best known for her Jayne Keeney PI novels, or for her role as the Director of Writer’s Victoria, but in Mother of Pearl, she’s serving something different. Celebrating Savage’s love of Thai culture and customs, Mother of Pearl is a sensitive exploration of the issue of overseas surrogacy, told from multiple points of view, […]

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Book Review: Brush up on your art history with Ruby Boukabou’s The Art Lover’s Guide to Paris

November 5, 2019

Recognised as one of the great art capitals of the world, Paris can be a little daunting for the casual art lover. The Louvre will likely be at the top of any visitor’s list, but once you’re done being captivated by the Mona Lisa’s elusive smile, where on earth do you head next? Do you […]

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Festival Review: Land of Plenty – Shepparton Showgrounds, VIC (02.11.19)

November 5, 2019

For a first time festival, Land Of Plenty, held in Shepparton, managed to get a lot of things right. Hopefully setting it off on a bright path for future years. The festival, which for its debut brought along a stellar line-up of local Australian artist, managed to keep the focus firmly on Shepparton’s local scene, […]

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Film Review: Promised is an unpolished dramedy that’s all about love

October 25, 2019

Australian cinema has already seen Ali and Muriel getting married (to other people) but Promised takes a different approach. This dramedy, set in the 1970’s, is a look at an arranged marriage, starring a pair of Italo-Australians. The results are an imperfect story that brims with real heart. It’s obvious that this independent film was […]

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Book Review: Bronwyn Eley launches an exciting new YA fantasy with Relic

September 5, 2019

Everyone in Edriast knows the role of Shadow is a death sentence. Tasked with serving the local lord, Rennard, Shadows spend their days in dangerously close proximity to one of five Relics, a powerful object worn by the reigning lord. The longer they spend around it, the weaker they become, until, one day, it takes […]

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Book Review: Albert Woodfox’s Solitary is a searing indictment on “justice”

August 31, 2019

Twenty-three hours a day. Forty-three years. Three men. A six-by-nine foot cell. These are the all important numbers that form the basis of Albert Woodfox‘s memoir Solitary, which covers one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in U.S. history. This story is one that will enrage you so much you’ll want to throw the book at those […]

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Book Review: Take a trip through the history of cinema with Dominic Smith’s The Electric Hotel

July 23, 2019

Pioneering French filmmaker Claude Ballard has lived at the Hotel Knickerbocker for almost half a century. It’s a quiet existence, by Hollywood hotel standards at least, and Claude fills his days taking photographs and keeping an eye on the hotel’s more vulnerable residents. But when an enthusiastic young film student arrives, keen to discover the […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: Leftover Women is an eye-opening look at love & marriage

June 13, 2019

Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. But what do you do if you’re a single woman who is over a certain age living in China? The documentary, Leftover Women, is an illuminating look at three individuals who grapple with various stigmas and expectations, in a society where women are encouraged to […]

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Sydney Film Festival Review: A Dog Called Money sees the worlds of music and video collide

June 5, 2019

Inspiration can strike at any time. But if you’re an artist like PJ Harvey you may choose to go in search of this illusiveness. A Dog Called Money is a music documentary that depicts the process that spawned the album, The Hope 6 Demolition Project. The result is a beautifully-shot film that can be uneven […]

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Album Review: Psychedelic Porn Crumpets take you on a trip with And Now For The Whatchamacallit

May 31, 2019

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets (PPC) walk a delicate line between some of the magnates of their genre, eliciting the Australian sounds of Tame Impala and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, while creating an unshakable reverence to early psychedelic king, Jimi Hendrix. And Now For The Whatchamacallit is a further exploration of this while allowing PPC […]

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Book Review: Paul Dolan’s Happy Ever After proves we don’t have to be princes & princesses to experience bliss

May 20, 2019

I’ll have what she’s having. Or will I? When it comes to “Happy Ever After” many of us believe we all want the same things. But Paul Dolan’s latest book, Happy Ever After, challenges us to think otherwise. He does this with some myth-busting and some clear-eyed, intellectual arguments. Paul Dolan, as Professor of Behavioural Science […]

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Live Review: Mallrat + Basenji + Kota Banks + NYNE – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (06.04.19)

April 9, 2019

Mallrat brought the party atmosphere to the Corner Hotel over the weekend with a run of four sold out shows in Melbourne, catering to both under-age fans and those over eighteen. The massive pop draw card brought with them a long list of talent on an expanded list of artists that displayed all the right […]

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Alliance Française French Film Festival Review: Knife+Heart is an unashamedly queer slasher hybrid

March 18, 2019

What is it about slasher films that makes them stand out as one of the best horror sub-genres? It is just a person just killing people with a sharp object and that’s it, right? Yes, but, that’s also the very reason why it has succeeded so well. Unlike the other horror sub-genres that involve fantastical […]

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Alliance Française French Film Festival Review: Jean-Paul Gaultier: Freak & Chic (France, 2019) is no regular Jean’s parade of weird oddities

March 9, 2019

Models are cool people. Beautiful glamazons. You don’t think of them as freaks unless you’re Jean Paul Gaultier. The French designer dedicated an entire show to just this. Freak & Chic is a feature documentary that shows us this crazy world, as well as the hard work and creativity that went into shaping this wild […]

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Alliance Française French Film Festival Review: Wine Calling (France, 2018) toasts France’s organic wine industry

March 2, 2019

It is not uncommon to see reviewers describe a film as “Like a love letter” to something. In the case of French documentary, Wine Calling this is also true, but given the subject matter a toast seems more appropriate. This film is a deep dive into the worlds inhabited by a group of passionate and […]

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Book Review: W.C. Ryan’s atmospheric A House of Ghosts blends wartime intrigue with a sinister ghost story

February 26, 2019

1917. At Blackwater Abbey in Devon, a storm is brewing. Lord and Lady Highmount invite renowned mediums, bereaved parents, and one troubled young soldier into their home, all in the hopes of contacting their sons, lost to the war ravaging Europe – much of it powered by the Highmounts’ own armaments. Thrust unexpectedly into their […]

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Album Review: Methyl Ethel – Triage (2019 LP)

February 22, 2019

Triage, the third album from Methyl Ethel isn’t coincidentally named. Celebrating three albums, and lead singer Jake Webb’s 30th birthday, the album is a memorial and the capstone on a phase in the band’s journey. Whether that implies Methyl Ethel will be taking a different direction after this, we’re not sure. But what is constant right […]

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Album Review: Millencolin – SOS (2019 LP)

February 15, 2019

A lot has changed in the world over the past twenty-six years. The era circa 1992 was a completely different time. For one, both myself and Millencolin were in our infancy. Without listing all the other similarities between myself and the band (there aren’t any), it would remiss of me to not note how influential […]

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Book review: Freeman’s latest anthology brings power to the people

January 14, 2019

Power is a fundamental thing. A lack of it can render someone a wretched husk, and too much of it can make people go drunk and blind. Writer and editor, John Freeman knows all this, because he chose it as the topic for the latest instalment of Freeman’s Best New Writing; the anthology that includes exciting […]

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Book Review: Mads Peder Nordbo’s The Girl Without Skin marks the start of an impressive new crime series

December 18, 2018

When what appears to be the corpse of a mummified Viking is found, journalist Matthew Cave is first on the scene. But by the next day, the body is gone, and in its place lies the flayed corpse of the policeman left to keep watch. Silenced by the local constabulary as they investigate the crime, […]

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