31 Oct 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: ambitious, bbc series, biology, brian cox, color, colour, complex natural phenomena, complex subjects, complex topics, doco, documentary, dvd, dvds, easy to understand, educational, electromagnetism, elements, entertainment, everday world, forces, forces of nature, gentle style, gravity, informative, learned presenter, motion, natural phenomena, natural scenes, nature documentary, northern lights, passionate, physics, prof. brian cox, professor brian cox, review, reviews, science, serengeti plains, shape, symmetry, t.v. series, television series, television show, tv series, tv show, universe, volcanoes in indonesia
In Forces of Nature Professor Brian Cox answers the questions a child is likely to ask you. Why is every snowflake different? Why are honeycombs made up of hexagons? What is motion, etc.? This documentary series takes a leaf out of David Attenborough’s book by combining stunning natural scenes (where the high-definition video alone is worthy of a six out of five rating) and a learned presenter who can explain things in a relatively easy way.
This four part series is an ambitious one where the audience gets to traverse around the globe and watch the Northern Lights in one segment, to some volcanoes in Indonesia elsewhere and even the Serengeti Plains and some cliffs in Nepal. For the most part, Cox takes a back-seat and allows the mesmerising footage to speak for itself. When Cox does offer commentary and pieces to camera it is to use biology and physics to explain things like gravity, electromagnetism and symmetry in nature, as well as ways we can understand the universe and all its forces.
Professor Cox is an excellent presenter. It is obvious that he is a scientist who is passionate about his craft. It’s also apparent that he’s a great teacher. There is no doubt that this man knows what he’s talking about because Forces of Nature proves he is able to describe quite complex phenomena in a gentle, easy-to-understand way.
Forces of Nature is divided into programs about shape, colour, motion and elements. It is all about celebrating the complicated, everyday world and natural phenomena in general. This should be essential viewing to everyone as it strikes the perfect balance between information, entertainment and education. Professor Cox loves and enjoys celebrating science and it’s only natural that you should feel the same way too.
Originally published on 27 October 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/forces-nature-dvd-review/
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30 Oct 2016
in Drinks Review, Interview
Tags: 4 day event, a.p.e. food, banksii vermouth bar & bistro, banksii vermouth bar and bistro, beef burger, beef infused burger, blue cheese, bubbles off!, cab sav, cabernet sauvignon, chur burger, clark island, culture, dessert island class, director, feature, festival, food, food masterclasses, founder, four day event, gage roads brewing co, high-end barbeque, high-end bbq, hunter valley cheese factory, interview, king valley prosecco, king valley wine, kingfish, kristen francis, luxurious island setting, maple-glazed pork, masterclasses, mussels, pasta, pasta wheels, pepperberry corn, port, prosecco, puntino food, quirky, riesling, smokey, smoky, sparkling white wine, sparkling wine, stickies, Sydney, sydney harbour, tawny, the australia times gourmet, tourism, vermouth, vino, white wine, wine, wine island, wine island 2016, wine makers, wine tasting, wine tastings
Wine Island is an annual boutique wine festival which is set on Clark Island, in the picturesque Sydney Harbour. The four-day event allows patrons to learn about and experience different wines and foods, in a luxurious island setting. It sounds like a wonderful holiday idea except you may not even need to leave “home” and you can participate and learn a lot thanks to some wonderful tastings and masterclasses. The Australia Times Gourmet sat down for a chat with Kristen Francis, the founder and director of Wine Island to learn more about this exciting event.
- Can you briefly introduce yourself and describe your involvement in Wine Island?
Aloha! I’m Kristen Francis, the founder and director of Wine Island.
- How long have you been involved with Wine Island? How did you come to be involved?
I came up with the idea a few years ago when I noticed that we had some beautiful and relatively untouched islands on our back doorstep. At the time I didn’t think of how difficult producing an event on an island would be!
- Italy has around 500 different grape varieties and it looks like Wine Island may have a focus on Italian varieties. What is your favourite variety and why?
My go-to wine is Riesling. It reminds me of my grandfather, however it tastes a lot more refined these days!
Lately though, I’ve been delving into a lot of prosecco, “researching” our King Valley winemakers who will be showcasing this variety on the island at King Valley Prosecco Road.
- What are you most looking forward to at Wine Island? Why?
I always like to know a bit more about the story behind the wine, so I’m really looking forward to chatting to the island winemakers and also taking part in some of the masterclasses. We’re introducing a silent disco to educate people on music and wine matching along with a Dessert Island class where stickies will take centre stage, something I’m sure they’re not used to.
- Wine Island takes place at Clark Island. Why was this location chosen?
It’s such a beautiful little island and no one really knows it exists. In fact, Sydney has a lot of islands that most of us are unaware of. I just wanted to create a little holiday in our backyard and show off Sydney to both locals and tourists.
- Wine Island looks set to feature a number of masterclasses. Can you tell us more about this? Do you have one in particular that you’re looking forward to?
We’ve expanded our masterclasses this year as they were a big hit in 2015. Part ofWine Island’s philosophy is unique wines in a unique location so we will be featuring all the tongue-twisting grape varieties that are up and coming. There’ll be a Bubbles Off! which will feature sparkling and prosecco. We also like to match-make so there’ll be a cheese and wine masterclass along with our silent disco drops, which is all about music and wine matching, which I’m interested in exploring a lot further as they’re two of my favourite things.
- Why do you think people should attend Wine Island?
Wine Island is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves wine, relaxing, great company and something ‘oh so Sydney’ in equal measure. It’s about combining our love affair with this beautiful city with quirky yet laid-back experiences with wine, food and culture. This is the place where you can feel like you’re leaving the city while entering the very heart of it.
- In your opinion, what makes a good wine? What things make good pairings with wine?
Wine is very subjective. So for me, I really enjoy an old smoky style of cab sav. Then for a perfect pairing it’d have to be a good tawny port with blue cheese.
- Can you tell us about what kinds of food will be available at Wine Island? Why were these particular foods chosen?
We have a high-end BBQ featuring kingfish, maple-glazed pork and pepperberry corn paired up with vermouth by Banksii Vermouth Bar & Bistro (opening in Oct at Barangaroo). This will also feature 4 -5 of Australia’s up-and-coming vermouth brands which is one of those old-school wines we like to re-introduce and educate visitors on.
Pairing up with the King Valley Prosecco Road winemakers, who will also be showcasing Italian varieties, will be Italian food hut Puntino / A.P.E. featuring bowls of mussels, pasta wheels, etc.
Then Chur Burger will be teaming up with GAGE Roads Brewing Co. from Fremantle to introduce a beer infused burger, and to finish off the complementary food offerings, we have Hunter Valley Cheese Factory platters and roaming oyster shuckers so you needn’t lift a finger.
- Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers of The Australia Times Gourmet magazine about Wine Island Sydney or wine in general?
Not only are we unique by location, but we also like to show off unique wines for a further point of difference. Winemakers are experimental at heart and wine drinkers like to try different grape varieties and learn more about the process, but in a fun and relaxing environment which is exactly what Wine Island offers. There is nothing else like it in Sydney, or the world for that matter!
The other thing that makes Wine Island special, is it’s a small island so only limited capacity which give each guest a first class experience. No crowds here, just you and a few hundred of your closest friends.
Wine Island takes place at Clark Island, Sydney Harbour from: Thursday 10 November to Sunday 13 November 2016 inclusive. For more information and tickets please visit:http://www.wineisland.com.au/
Originally published in October at the following website:http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/410/#20
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26 Oct 2016
in Book Review
Tags: 1950s, book, books, county mayo, dreamboat, emotions, fiction, fifties, following your dreams, ireland, irish people, it was only ever you, kate kerrigan, light, loss, love, morag prunty, n.y., new york, new york city, nightclub scene, novel, ny, optimism, poor, rags, review, reviews, rich, riches, rock 'n' roll soundtrack, romance, singer, whimscial, yesteryear
She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah! It Was Only Ever You is a romantic story about three strong, young women and their relationships with one charming man living in New York City. It’s an engrossing, light and sweet tale that will leave you wondering how it will end and who will wind up with whom.
This story is set in an almost identical place to Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. It is the 1950s and a time when many Irish people made a passage in order to have a new life in America. Instead of focusing on one main protagonist, Kate Kerrigan frames the story though a group of young people. Her prose is quite light and whimsical at times and for this reason, it occasionally reminds me of Marian Keyes’s work.
Kate Kerrigan’s real name is Morag Prunty and she is a journalist and best-selling author. Her most famous novel is The Dress. In It Was Only Ever You Kerrigan provides a smoking soundtrack and backdrop that takes in jazz, ballads and early rock ‘n’ roll. It is a period when people were just learning how to rock around the clock and they did so with gusto. Kerrigan’s main character, Patrick is a dreamboat by all accounts and a fledgling singer.
Patrick was a poor boy from County Mayo in Ireland. He found love in the form of an artistic, rich girl and Doctor’s daughter named Rose. The pair were besotted but Rose’s parents did not approve of the relationship. Patrick’s head was also filled with big ambitions of his own. He leaves Ireland and goes to New York while his heart pines for Rose and he works a lowly job because he is indebted to his employer. This world is a very different one to that inhabited by a caring socialite named Ava. She is an idealistic girl who is aware that she won’t win any prizes for her looks. Ava remains optimistic however, and continues to frequent the dance halls in the hopes of finding a nice husband.
Shelia is the most interesting character of them all. The orphan of parents who died during the Holocaust, Shelia is the kind of girl who is determined and knows exactly what she wants. Shelia is a vanguard and an inspiration. She is trying to forge her own way in the music industry, a world that is almost exclusively controlled by men. It’s fortunate that Shelia has a nose for talent and she hopes she can discover music’s next big thing.
It Was Only Ever You is like a patchwork quilt of different emotions that show a group of young people falling in and out of love and discovering themselves. This is a story about love, loss and following your dreams and it is set amongst the glamourous New York nightclub scene of yesteryear. The story features some likeable and well-developed characters and the story feels very authentic. It Was Only Ever You is a pleasant book to read not least because it shows a group of fine characters marching to the beat of their own drums.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-it-was-only-ever-you
25 Oct 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: aafrin dalal, Aysha Kala, beautiful, Blake Ritson, british rule, challenges, colonial rule, colourful, cynthia coffin, drama, dvd, dvds, english rule, henry lloyd-hughes, india, india's history, indian history, indian summers, Jemima West, Julie Walters, life, love, love triangles, marriage, moral dilemmas, Nikesh Patel, nostalgic, period drama, pleasant, politics, ralph whelan, relationships, reunions, review, reviews, rich, romance, significant, sooni, sprawling, sumptuous, t.v. series, television series, tense, tensions, the jewel in the crown, tv series, unhappy marriage
The chapter in India’s history when it was subject to colonial rule has been shown on our screens before. It was the theme in The Jewel in the Crown television series and there have been countless films and things about Mahatma Ghandi. Indian Summers is a TV series that covers this well-trodden path. It may not be the most original rendering of this story but it is one pleasant, beautiful and nostalgic drama.
The second series begins some three years after the first one left off. Some things have changed with respect to the characters in this time. The most noteworthy is that civil servant, Aafrin Dalal (the gorgeous, Nikesh Patel) has become a rebel and is promoting terrorism. The private secretary, Ralph Whelan (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) is married and has designs on the viceroy’s role. Whelan’s sister, Alice (Jemima West) is shackled by an unhappy marriage to one angry and careless man named Charlie (Blake Ritson) while her heart is somewhere else.
This series deals with a number of different storylines and threads including matters of the heart and the state. Club owner, Cynthia Coffin (Julie Walters) is as manipulative as ever while Sooni (Aysha Kala) is the most inspiring. The plots also throws up a number of different moral dilemmas. Over the course of ten episodes there are a few deaths, one marriage and some reunions. The series is supported by a great cast who capture the full gamut of different emotions. Indian Summers also succeeds at chronicling an important chapter in India’s history and maintaining a certain pace while keeping the tensions high.
The setting is absolutely stunning. The story and series is set in Simla in the foothills of the Himalayas but Indian Summers itself is shot in Penang in Malaysia. We can forgive this artistic licence when we consider how much care and detail has been applied to the creation of props and the wonderful costumes. All of these things add up to make a sumptuous period drama that is like pure eye candy. The special features include an adequate making of featurette that reveals some good insights into how this show was made, but there was also room for more information.
Indian Summers is a colourful drama that is brimming with some spice and so many different threads that at times it feels like a tapestry. This is not the most crucial series you’ll ever watch but it does cover a significant part of India’s history as it seeks independence from the British rule. This serial is an interesting look at the politics and the personal proclivities of the locals and individuals living abroad as they face all manner of different challenges that life throws at them. In short this is a sprawling story told in a way that is as pleasant as a stroll through the English countryside.
Originally published on 24 October 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/indian-summers-season-2-dvd-review/
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24 Oct 2016
in Food Review
Tags: agency, barefoot on the wind, beautiful prose, beauty & the beast, beauty and the beast, belle, black magic, bold hunter, book, books, charming, classic fairy-tale, classic fairytale, companion novel to shadows on the moon, contemporary, Control, creative, delicate prose, destiny, fairy tale, fairytale, fantasy, fantasy fiction, fantasy world, feminist adaptation, feminist re-telling, feminist retelling, fiction, flowery, flowery test, hana, haunted forest, head, heart, heroine, inspirational, itsuki, japanese mountaintop, japanese village, journey of self-discovery, lyrical, novel, novels, pleasant, repetitive, review, reviews, sensitive, Shadows on the Moon, slow, story from a feminist's perspective, the beast, the beauty, there is a monster in the forest, townspeople have vanished, village in japan, whispered the trees, Zoë Marriot, Zoë Marriott
Many of us are familiar with Disney’s version of Beauty & the Beast. The film shows the cursed Beast who captures the beautiful Belle, and it is only after Belle sees the creature’s inner “goodness” and falls in love that the spell is broken. Some people may consider that the Beast is actually rewarded with Belle’s love and not punished for his wrongdoings. Author Zoë Marriott has decided to redress this imbalance and tell the story from a feminist’s perspective.
To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201610/205159
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20 Oct 2016
in Food Review
Tags: bavarian bier cafe, beer, bella birra, burgers, Butcher’s Bride Pale Ale, chilli flakes, chilli oil, choose your own pizza topping, choose your salad, chorizo, create your own pizza, create your own salad, crispy pizza base, dunkel, fennel seeds, fior de latte mozzarella, fontina, food, fratelli famous, fratelli fresh, german food, gluten free pizza base, gorgonzola, Hofbräu Dunkel, hot buffalo sauce, house lager, italian food, lager, lemon-roasted chicken, nduja, oregano, pale ale, pancetta, parmesan, pine nut pesto sauce, pizza, pizza dough, pizzas, porkDevil’s Daughter Indian Pale Ale (IPA), review, reviews, salami, san marzano tomatoes, sausages, scamorza, schnitzels, sourdough pizza base, Sweet Caroline beer, Sydney, the bavarian, The Munich, thin pizza base, Urban Brewing Co., urban purveyor group, world square
Hands up who thinks pizza and beer is a winning combination. For those who agree then there’s a new restaurant to add to your bucket list, a clever dual-concept pairing of Fratelli Famous and The Bavarian at World Square from the rapidly expanding Urban Purveyor Group. The restaurant features a communal bar, shared indoor and outdoor seating and separate kitchens producing pizzas – with a DIY focus – and assorted German finery.
Fratelli Famous – the casual sister restaurant to Fratelli Fresh – have three different pizza bases available. There is a light and crispy sourdough where the dough is fermented with a starter culture. There is also the Napolitana, a classic dough that yields a thin and crispy base. The kitchen offers an eight-inch gluten free variety (the other bases are available in eight and 12 inch sizes) that has gluten-free flour in place of semolina flour.
There is a real technique to working and stretching the dough. The pizza side of the restaurant has nine classic savoury pizzas on sale (each $14) as well as breakfast and dessert varieties. As with the other Fratelli Famous which now fits in nicely at Westfield Sydney, you can create your own pizza here. According to Pizza Executive Chef, William the key to a great topping is to find the right balance of flavours.
Once you have selected your base it’s time to choose a sauce. There are four different kinds to choose from including a green pine nut pesto and a white one made up predominantly of fior di latte cheese. There are also two red varieties made of San Marzano tomatoes and one of these has been cooked with Italian meatballs for a heartier, full-bodied flavour. The next step is to select your cheese from a range including feta and vegan cheese as well as an array of Italian ones (gorgonzola, fior de latte mozzarella, fontina, scamorza and parmesan.)
There is a range of seasonings available including oregano, chilli flakes, fennel seeds and salts. The proteins feature various Italian cured meats (pancetta, salami and nduja) as well as chorizo, ham and lemon-roasted chicken. To balance out the meats there vegetable, fruit and nut toppings including broccolini, mushroom, olives, eggplant and pine nuts. The pizza is cooked for 90 seconds and can then be dressed with chilli oil, hot buffalo or sweet barbeque sauce. Fratelli Famous also allow people to create their own salads and they have a number of different ingredients available.
The Bavarian is the sister restaurant to the Bavarian Bier Café, a fast causal spin-off that over on the German side of the restaurant has 17 beers on tap and plenty more for sale in bottles. This is the place where there is a beer for everyone with casual drinkers typically favouring the sweeter, malty varieties, while your beer aficionados go for ones with hops flavours and astringent tastes. Urban Purveyor Group also own the Urban Brewing Co. where they create 11 exclusive craft beers.
The Bavarian stable of restaurants are famous for their steins so it’s important that the beers don’t contain too much carbon dioxide otherwise they would create some slight abdominal discomfort in the drinker. The bartenders are very knowledgeable and can suggest food pairings to accompany the beers and signatures across schnitzels, burgers, sausages and pork dishes.
Some of the beers available range from the subtle and sweet Italian style lager,Bella Birra all the way up to the bitter and hoppy, Devil’s Daughter Indian Pale Ale (IPA). The Bavarian has recently launched a seasonal, summer brew called Sweet Caroline, which would make Neil Diamond proud because she’s a very refreshing and drinkable drop. Sweet Caroline also has a slight astringency which lends the beer a fine, moorish quality. One of the few dark lagers to be found in Australia is the Hofbräu Dunkel, which boasts a sweet quality reminiscent of caramel. It’s a stark contrast to the spicy Butcher’s Bride Pale Ale with its grassy notes and dry finish. The group’s house lager, The Munich is a great one to end a night on and it’s a smooth and refreshing drink.
The Bavarian have a beer passport promotion running until 31st December this year: if you sample eight of their beers across multiple settings and get your passport stamped you receive a limited edition t-shirt and go in the running to win a private beer and pizza party for up to 20 people.
The partnership between Fratelli Famous and The Bavarian is an unexpected match – it’s not everyday you see a restaurant split into Italian and German – but it works incredibly well for the area. This dual-concept store in Sydney looks poised to be a big hit, and those out west can be rest assured they’ll be getting one soon enough in Penrith.
Originally published on 19 October 2016 at the following website: http://food.theaureview.com/news/fratelli-famous-the-bavarian-team-up-for-dual-opening-in-world-square-sydney/
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19 Oct 2016
in Film Review
Tags: 1930s, 30s, beautifully shot, beauty, blake lively, comedy, excess, existential, film, films, fine performance, flimsy, gangster brother, glamour, glitz, halcyon days, high society, hollywood, hotshot, jazz, Jesse Eisenberg, kristen stewart, lightweight, love triangle, new york, nostalgic, ny, pleasant, predictable, review, reviews, rich, riches, richness, rom-com, romance, romantic tale, smokey, smoky, smoky nightlife, splendour, Steve Carell, thirties, throwaway, uncle phil, vonnie, Woody Allen, youth
Woody Allen’s latest film should be renamed “High Society.” This beautifully-shot comedy is a nostalgic but throwaway look at the glitz and glamour of some halcyon days in Hollywood and the smoky nightlife of New York. It’s ultimately like a pleasant and lightweight dream that celebrates money even though the thirties was synonymous for some with the great depression.
Café Society is like most of Allen’s films in that it is full of snappy dialogue and features the famous director as a sleepy narrator. One of the best pieces of advice this film offers is to “Live everyday like it’s your last because one day you’ll be right” as well as other existential points and jabs at religion. This may be a romantic tale but in true Allen style this romance is one where your head is in charge, not your heart.
Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg doing his best Woody Allen impression) stars as a wide-eyed kid who is initially seduced by the bright lights of Hollywood. Bobby’s Uncle Phil (Steve Carell) is a Hollywood hotshot. He takes pity on his nephew and offers the kid some odd jobs. Bobby seems to enjoy elements of La-La land (his encounter with a first-time prostitute is hilarious) but he soon comes to hate the excess and fakery of it all. It’s a sentiment that is shared by his uncle’s secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart who proves she doesn’t need to pout her way through every film.) Stewart puts in a fine performance where the chemistry with her former cast mate, Eisenberg is particularly obvious.
Vonnie is given the job of showing Bobby around town. The two youngsters bond over Mexican food and Bobby becomes completely smitten. But Vonnie holds her cards closely to her chest. The reason she does so is because she’s smart and savvy and because she also has an elusive boyfriend that she started dating a year before meeting Bobby.
Eventually Bobby returns home to New York. He takes a job working in a nightclub with his gangster brother. Bobby meets a divorcee at the club (an effervescent Blake Lively) and romance blossoms. The pair seem happy until Vonnie shows up at the club with someone Bobby knows all too well.
Café Society is like The Great Gatsby in that it celebrates youth, beauty and jazz. The story itself is quite flimsy and predictable but it’s a film that offers entertainment and enjoyment, pure and simple. This depiction of love triangles and professional dreams is one opulent ride and a fun look at a brief but rich period in the thirties in America. In Café Society’s world the depression never happened and everyone was free to enjoy themselves, rambling through the richness and splendour that was the society set. This is ultimately fun for audiences to watch but don’t expect it to change your life or your riches.
Originally published on 18 October 2016 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/film-review-woody-allens-latest-cafe-society-usa-2016-offers-a-nostalgic-but-throwaway-look-at-the-great-depression/
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16 Oct 2016
in Book Review
Tags: african-american cops, atlanta 1948, black cops, black policemen, book, books, complex, cop drama, cops, corruption, dark town, darktown, drama, gritty, important story, justice, lucius boggs, meticulously researched, morality tale, murder, murder investigation, murder thriller, murdered black woman, novel, police, police corruption, police drama, police procedural, racial prejudice, racism, raw, review, reviews, segregation, tangled web, thomas mulen, thomas mullen, thriller, tomas mullen, tommy smith, uncomfortable to read, well researched
Darktown is like a rose in the field of police procedurals. It deals with some thorny issues with respect to a vanguard group of African-American cops working in Atlanta in 1948. It’s a period in history where people were still reeling from the Second World War and it was before civil rights existed. This novel is ultimately a complex tale of morality that simultaneously feels like a TV series (especially one dealing with a murder investigation) and a classic story like To Kill A Mockingbird.
Lucius Boggs is the son of a preacher and one of the eight African-American men working in a special police force in Atlanta. He has a partner named Tommy Smith and together they walk and police their own unique beat. They have no squad cars, they do not work out of official police headquarters and they patrol their own native neighbourhood (it’s a different part of town to the one that is inhabited by the affluent white Americans.)
One night Boggs and Smith witness a drunken white man drive into a lamppost and assault his female passenger. These policemen call for help from some white cops. One of the men that turn up proves to be a corrupt and violent racist. The latter lets the perpetrator off the hook without even a slap on the wrist. Boggs and Smith become concerned and angry when they discover what happened that night and when they learn that the drunken criminal was the last person to see a murdered black woman alive.
Thomas Mullen constructs a rich and vivid tale about the ensuing murder investigation. It’s a tangled web where some crooked white cops despise and question the authority of their African-American counterparts. It’s also the scene of racial prejudices, a place where segregation is the norm and where it’s not uncommon for the characters to see race-related hate crimes. Some of these scenes make this book an uncomfortable one to read. But Darktown is also an important story and Mullen should be applauded for tacking this subject matter and for providing such a detailed backdrop for his characters. It’s obvious that this book has been meticulously researched.
Darktown is a gritty and raw murder thriller. It’s a page turner that will engage you and leave you guessing what’s around the next corner. This book is due to be adapted into a TV series starring Jamie Foxx and it should make for powerful viewing. Darktown describes a sad but true chapter in American history and Mullen has tackled some rather complex subject matter with great finesse. This novel is a well-written one that proves there is no black or white with respect to justice, just various shades of grey.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer through a Bookstr giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.bookstr.com/book/darktown/9905939/
15 Oct 2016
in Film Review
Tags: adolf hitler, ambitious, auschwitz cabaret, Auschwitz survivor, black comedy, comedy, concentration camp cabaret, debates, doco, documentary, fern pearlstein, ferne pearlstein, film, films, funny, hitler, holocaust, jewish, jewish international film festival, jiff, jokes, larry charles, mel brooks, nazis, outrageous, provocative, renee firestone, review, reviews, ricky gervais, sarah silverman, sombre, stand-up, subversive comedy, taboo, the last laugh, the producers, varied opinions
Everybody has their own line with respect to what they consider funny versus what is taboo. For some people there is no topic or thing that is off limits while others believe that some subjects – irrespective of the quality of the joke –are in poor taste. The Last Laugh is a documentary that examines all of the different sides to this argument while framing things through the prism that is the Holocaust. This film is ultimately an important conversation and dialogue that poses more questions than it offers answers.
Filmmaker and writer, Ferne Pearlstein has made an ambitious documentary that segues off into other topics like aids, molestation and 9/11 but predominantly focuses on the relationship between the Holocaust and comedy. She frames part of the tale through a warm and vibrant survivor named Renee Firestone, a lady who lost her sister at the camps and who subsequently went on to work as an educator and activist. She is a woman that takes a positive approach to life and feels she can laugh and enjoy things. But there are some scenes where she is shown some rather subversive material by contemporary comics like Sarah Silverman and Ricky Gervais where she fails to find their jokes funny.
Firestone proves a very interesting interview subject, especially when her outlook to life proves to be such a stark contrast to another Auschwitz survivor who feels she can no longer laugh and enjoy things because she’s plagued by the shadows of the millions of Jewish people who were killed. This documentary also includes another fascinating and surprising discussion about the cabarets and revues that took place at the concentration camps. It’s intriguing to see that some people were able to react to these horrifying circumstances by trying to make other people smile and laugh.
This film includes interviews with lots of comedians and comedy writers including Sarah Silverman, Mel Brooks (The Producers’ creator who poked fun at Hitler and the Nazis for years but who draws the line at joking about the Holocaust) as well as Seinfeld writer, Larry Charles. The film includes scenes from the famous sitcom about nothing including the jokes about the Soup Nazi and when Seinfeld was caught making out with his girlfriend during Schindler’s List as well as scenes from Curb Your Enthusiasm and Hogan’s Heroes and stand-up slots from Silverman, Gervais and Chris Rock, to name a few.
The Last Laugh covers a lot of ground in its 90 minutes. It includes the sombre tales of some Auschwitz survivors while asking whether it is okay to make jokes about tragedies like these. This documentary is a balanced one and the opinions are quite varied with some sitting in the pro free speech camp while others believe there is a line that should not be crossed. This film is provocative and outrageous at times and at other moments is quite intelligent and thought-provoking. This film proves that there is no resounding case for the affirmative or the negative, but instead that the discussion and debate needs to continue.
Originally published on 14 October 2016 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/jewish-international-film-festival-review-the-last-laugh-usa-2016/
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