30 Nov 2016
in Blu-ray Review
Tags: accessible, adam levine, aspiring musicians, blu-ray, bluray, christian brothers school, comey, coming of age story, conor, drama, dramedy, dublin in the 1980s, exuberant, feel-good, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, film, films, in-between days, jack reynor, john carney, kids form a band, likeable, love letter to song writing, love letter to songwriting, lucy boynton, multi-faceted story, music, musical, once, Pop music, post-punk era, raphina, review, reviews, romp, semi-autobiographical, sing st, sing street, teen angst, the cure, the frames
Sing Street is a feel-good musical about the in-between days found nestled between childhood and adulthood. The film is an optimistic one set in Dublin in the 1980s. It was a halcyon time in the post-punk era where a kid could start a band by picking up an instrument and people across the world were falling in love with and saying they wanted their MTV! much like this film- it was a colourful time indeed.
This story is a semi-autobiographical one by writer and director, John Carney. The latter is no stranger to the world of music as he was formerly a member of Glen Hansard’s group, The Frames and the pair had a hit film in 2006 with Once. Carney is almost like an Irish Cameron Crowe here because Sing Street certainly has some things in common with “Almost Famous” even if the protagonist in this film is an aspiring musician rather than a rock journalist.
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo stars as Conor, an idealistic dreamer and sensitive, arty kid. Conor’s parents are suffering from money problems and the disintegration of their marriage. To save money, Conor is moved from his elite private school to a Christian Brothers one. This move means that Conor is sometimes subjected to abuse and taunts by the local bully and a mean-spirited teacher/brother.
Conor meets the gorgeous, aspiring model Raphina (Lucy Boynton) but he realises she is more worldlier than he is and that she is also out of his league. In order to impress the girl Conor decides he will form a band with a ragtag group of misfits he has befriended at school. Conor’s brother, Brendan (Jack Reynor) is a stoner and music fan who serves as his brother’s musical mentor much like Zooey Deschanel was when she coached her on-screen brother William in Almost Famous. The soundtrack is also excellent with the likes of The Cure, Hall & Oates and A-HA featuring quite prominently.
The band make big strides writing their own songs and producing their own music videos. Their sound is a kind of teen angst-fuelled pop one that is influenced by the music and looks of the time including new wave and the romantics. The young actors all put in excellent performances in Sing Street with Conor quite often resembling a young Robert Smith of The Cure fame. Boynton and Walsh-Peelo also share a noteworthy chemistry as young lovers. The special features are satisfactory and include a few making of featurettes with Carny as well as Adam Levine plus videos of the cast auditions.
Sing Street is an exuberant romp and dramedy that is cut from the same cloth as one of John Hughes’ coming-of-age stories. The film is like a love letter to the craft of song writing and the characters are so darned likeable that you will be rooting for them all to succeed and hit the charts sometime soon. Sing Street is ultimately an accessible, multi-faceted story that is so fun to watch it will leave you singing its praises.
Originally published on 28 November 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/sing-street-blu-ray-review/
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28 Nov 2016
in Food Review
Tags: adriano zumbo, Anna Polyviou, anna's mess, artisans, baked by joanne cakes, bbq skewers, bilpin cider co, black star pastry, brownies, cakes, callebaut test kitchen, cheesecakes, choc, choc tops, chocoholics, chocolab, chocolate, chocolate artworks, chocolate éclair, chocolate bars, Christopher Thé, cronut sticks, cronuts, darrell lea, doughnuts, festival, food, freakshakes, fudge, gelato, gelato messina, Gigi Falanga, happy, hazelnut éclair, hazelnut mucho bueno bar, hoy pinoy, james patrick, Jean-Michel Raynaud, jeff de bruges, joanne smith, joy, La Renaissance Patisserie, lindt balls, lindt chocolate, lindt lounge, macarons, masterchef, milk chocolate robert rownie jr., muffins, nutella, outdoor barbeque, outdoor bbq, overseas passenger terminal sydney, pastries, review, reviews, salted caramel éclair, september, shangri-la hotel, smooth festival of chocolate, smooth fm, strawberry watermelon cake, Sydney, the rocks, zumbo's just desserts
On September 10 and 11 The Rocks became Sydney’s answer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The Smooth Festival of Chocolate was celebrating its third year and it was bigger and brighter than ever. For one weekend, tens of thousands of people got to embrace their inner chocoholic and consume lots of chocolate, fudge, gelato, cronuts, doughnuts, brownies, freakshakes, muffins, macarons, cheesecakes, pastries and more. Put simply, it was joy on earth!
In 2016 over 90 different stalls were on offer. This year saw an increase in the number of food trucks and lunchtime snacks so that people had a chance to get a tasty break from their sugar highs. One particular highlight was the Hoy Pinoy stall who turned their space into a mouth-watering outdoor barbeque, with skewers that were very succulent and quite divine!
The festival featured a number of different parts, including a garden bar sponsored by the Bilpin Cider Co for adults, and a Darrell Lea chill-out area for families. The chocolate artisans could be found in the Overseas Passenger Terminal, selling their yummy packaged treats including Chocolab’s unique chocolate bars, and French chocolate brand Jeff de Bruges who have recently opened a store at Westfield Bondi.
The Overseas Passenger Terminal was also home to two magnificent chocolate artworks by artist James Patrick. One was predominantly made of Lindt ball wrappers while the other saw Sydney Harbour immortalised in chocolate. Another huge drawcard was the Baked by Joanne stall. Joanne Smith’s amazing cake creations were a big hit with people after an amazing photograph or ten, and it was little wonder when her cakes were topped by upside down choc tops, lolly pops and Nutella jars spilling out their gooey goodness.
The Callebaut Test Kitchen played host to demonstrations by a number of important pastry chefs like Christopher Thé (Black Star Pastry), Jean-Michel Raynaud (La Renaissance Patisserie) and Gigi Falanga (Zumbo’s Just Desserts) and Adriano Zumbo’s large stall was serving up sweet treats. We were fortunate enough to watch Anna Polyviou’s (Shangri-La Hotel) demonstration and she was an absolute treat. Polyviou is quite possibly the Ellen DeGeneres of pastry chefs. She was encouraging people to dance while tempering chocolate, she cracked lots of jokes and had her DJ friend play some tunes. But the funniest thing of all was seeing her throw one of her Anna’s Mess desserts (one that went viral thanks to MasterChef) at an audience member named Eddie who was a good sport about it.
Further highlights included the sensational strawberry watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry and some interesting cronut sticks. On Sunday morning, Gelato Messina had sold out of two of their creations, the hazelnut Mucho Bueno Bar and the hilarious milk chocolate, Robert Brownie Jr. Bar. Chocolate fans could also get their own personalised block of Lindt Chocolate at the Lindt lounge. This spot was also selling three different éclair flavours: the standard chocolate as well as hazelnut and salted caramel.
The Smooth Festival in Sydney was quite simply heaven for chocoholics. There was a little something for everyone at this fun festival. We were all like kids in candy shops here, except that this was in the picturesque surrounds of Sydney’s The Rocks area. It was a weekend where we could all forget or diets, embrace our inner child and eat chocolate like it was going out of fashion. See you next year!
Originally published on 28 November 2016 at the following website: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/411/#40
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26 Nov 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: 1970, 37th u.s. president, 37th us president, artist meets president, artistic licence, caricature, cartoon, cartoonish, cary elwes, drama aimless, dvd, dvds, Elvis, elvis aaro presley, elvis in the white house, elvis meets nixon, Elvis Presley, fbi, federal agent at large, fictionalised account, film, Hanala Sagal, imagined, interesting, Joey Sagal, kevin spacey, meaningless, Michael Shannon, most requested photo from the national archives, musician meets president, national archives, nixon, odd meeting, oval office, paranoia, president nixon, president richard nixon, review, reviews, richard nixon, true story, us president, vegas, verbal sparring, war on drugs, weird
A little less (known) conversation was the one that transpired between Elvis Presley and President Nixon in December of 1970. The odd meeting was one that was never recorded but has left many people wishing that they had been a fly on the wall at the time. The only proof that Elvis entered the White House is a black and white photo, which is one of the most requested ones from the National Archives. It’s an interesting-enough premise but the plot of this film is simply too weak to justify an 86-minute runtime.
This story has already been told once before in Elvis Meets Nixon. In both cases the filmmakers have taken artistic licence and imagined what was actually said between these two larger than life personalities. In the case of Elvis & Nixon, the conversation is more of a comedic one. The unlikely pair trade weirdness and paranoia in between sips of Dr Pepper and handfuls of M & Ms.
Kevin Spacey stars as Nixon and does a good job of capturing his awkwardness and aloof nature. Michael Shannon on the other hand has a harder job because he looks and sounds nothing like Elvis. This is particularly obvious in a scene when an Elvis impersonator meets Presley but believes the King is a fellow impersonator. In this film Elvis is more of a cartoon or caricature than a serious artist but perhaps this is a hint at what was in-store for him in his final years (including his time in Vegas.)
This meeting occurred because Presley showed up at the White House and gave a hand-written note to the security guards. He was wanting to help Nixon on the War on Drugs (an ironic idea considering he was addicted to amphetamines.) Presley also wanted Nixon to give him a badge and grant him the role of Federal Agent at large with the FBI.
At the meeting Nixon and Elvis become verbal sparring partners at times while at other moments they form an unlikely bond. They seem to relate to each other through a shared appreciation for guns. Writers, Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal and Cary Elwes attempt to inject some drama into the tale through a sub-plot about one member of Elvis’s entourage wanting to leave in order to propose to his girlfriend. This feels like it’s trying too hard to create drama amidst a rather aimless and meaningless story.
Elvis & Nixon is not an important film even though it does capture a fleeting and interesting chapter in history. After this event, all meetings in the Oval Office were recorded but it’s difficult to know what really happened on this particular day in 1970. The film’s fictionalised account may be pleasant but ultimately this is lacking in drama and substance. Elvis & Nixon is really just a short look at when Elvis was in and had left the building.
Originally published on 24 November 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/elvis-nixon-dvd-review/
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21 Nov 2016
in Food Review
Tags: 107 projects, 121 bc, 121bc, 5 course dinner, andrew cibej, berta, carne, chefs, dessert, dolce, festival of nonna, five course dinner, food, from scratch, fun, geraldine lubrano, gnocchi with pork ragù, gnoochi, grandmas, grandmorthers, green beans with olive salsa, grilled asparagus, grissini, heart-warming, italian, italian cooking, italian cooking lessons, italian cooking workshops, italian dinners, italian food, italian lunches, italian-australian chefs, italy, luca ciano, massimo mele, mimmo lubrano, mixed-marinated olives, nonnas, north-eastern italy, old country, pasta, pecorino cheese, pork ragu, primi, radicchio salad with eggs, ray lubrano, redfern, restaurants, review, reviews, roast veel, roasted kipfler otatoes, rotolo, rotolo of wild greens with crisp pancetta, salsa verde, san daniele prosciutto, sandhurst fine foods, sandhurst foods, sara oteri, secondo, smoked wild river trout, stracciatella semifreddo with frutti del bosco, valerie cibej, vanilla & chocolate ice-cream with fruits of the forest berries, vanilla and chocolate ice-cream with fruits of the forest berries, veneto region, verandah restaurant, vince lubrano, vini
Grandmothers – or Nonnas in Italian – are often the glue in a family. They feed us, treat us and look after us. Sandhurst Fine Foods know all about this and are celebrating our beloved family matriarchs with a Festival of Nonna at 107 Projects in Redfern. It’s a series of Italian lunches, dinners and cooking workshops where you can learn techniques that have been perfected over multiple generations and enjoy great food and the company of some leading Italian-Australian chefs and their “nonnas.” It’s a fun and heart-warming occasion that is just like being embraced in a big, kind hug by your grandma.
The chefs heading up this festival are Andrew Cibej (Vini, Berta & 121BC) fame as well as his mother Valerie (who is also the mother of Bluejuice bass player, Jamie Cibej.) The other chefs include: Luca Ciano of the two-Michelin stared restaurant Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia in Milan, Massimo Mele (who has recently partnered with the First Datesrestaurant, Verandah in Sydney) and former MasterChef contestant, Sara Oteri. The workshops enable you to learn how to make Italian dishes like meatballs as well as making pastas and gnocchi from scratch.
Ciano has some wonderful tips for making the perfect gnocchi. Good high-starch potatoes that are similar sizes are the most important ingredient. The recipe itself is quite basic and includes flour, potato, eggs, parmesan cheese and seasoning like: salt, pepper and nutmeg. The potatoes are cooked with their skins on and then are subsequently removed. If they are overcooked they tend to absorb more water so this means that the quantities of the ingredients may need to change.
The potatoes are cooked until they are still a little firm. They are then pressed or mashed (but don’t use a stick blender to do this.) The other ingredients are then combined to form a dough. You roll out the dough and then cut the pasta into small squares. You then press each of these squares with a fork taking care not to apply too much pressure because you are still trying to make gnocchi that will retain its fluffiness after boiling. When you make these shapes in the pasta this ensures that the gnocchi lap up more of the sauce when you are eating it. It’s also a good idea to test-drive one of the gnocchi before you start cooking all of them because you may need to go back and add more flour to the dough if the gnocchi falls apart in the boiling water.
Andrew Cibej’s five course dinner was a showcase of beautiful Italian foods (including the Sandhurst product range) that were simple and well-seasoned. The ingredients also had excellent techniques applied to them and these helped create the perfect Italian spread that was fit for an emperor. Cibej’s family are originally from North-Eastern Italy, not far from the Veneto region and the menu reflected this. The antipasti included grissini (bread sticks) and some moreish San Daniele prosciutto. The smoked, wild river trout was delicious and the grilled asparagus and pecorino cheese was a great display of seasonal produce and the asparagus had a delightful char. The artichokes also had a nice chargrilled flavour and were topped with a divine salsa verde.
There were also some mixed-marinated olives with chilli. The darker olives are the ones that were the most ripe at the time of harvest.
The pieces of bread were also fluffy and salty and included some rosemary on top.
The primi or first courses (which in Italian food is traditionally a pasta dish) were a gnocchi with a pork ragù. This saw some sweet pork neck braised for over two hours and formed part of a rich and unctuous sauce that included peas and various herbs.
A main/secondo or carne (meat) is an understated, melt-in-your-mouth roast veal that has been twice-cooked in chicken stock and white wine. This was served with contorni or sides of roasted kipfler potatoes, green beans and olive salsa and a salad of radicchio and egg and kipflers. The salad was pretty to look at and had a nice, savoury tartness.
For dessert or dolce there was a stracciatella (vanilla and chocolate) semifreddo with frutti del bosco (fruits of the forest.) This was like a luxurious Vienetta ice-cream topped with tart summer berries: strawberry, blueberry, cherry and raspberry.
Sandhurst Foods’ Festival of Nonna is a celebration of all things family. Their food business was founded in 1988 by Vince and Geraldine Lubrano and their hard work continues with the couple’s sons, Mimmo and Ray. This pop-up at the rooftop garden at 107 Projects in Redfern is a relaxed and superb way to celebrate and count your blessings in life, whether it be good food, great cooking or a family that plays and stays together while embracing all of the best things from the old country.
The Festival of Nonna, which is on until 27th November, has sold-out all of its current sessions. For more information and stay up to date click HERE.
Originally published on 21 November 2016 at the following website: http://food.theaureview.com/news/the-festival-of-nonna-top-chefs-are-celebrating-homemade-italian-at-107-projects-sydney/
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15 Nov 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: adequate songs, Albert Magnoli, aura, billy, cliches, competing ideas, concert films, different ideas, director, dvd, dvds, film, films, george clinton, glam slam, Graffiti Bridge, incoherent, Ingrid Chavez, lead actor, life, love, love symbol, Mavis Staples, mediocre film, mess, morris day, music, musical genius, musicality, old foe, out of his depth, ownerhsip of the club, prince, purple one, purple rain sequel, reprising his role as the kid, review, reviews, sanctimonious, sexuality, soundtrack composer, spiritual ballad, spirituality, tevin campbell, the artist formerly known as, the kid, the time, William Blinn, writer
The late, great Prince was an undisputed, musical genius. But this same praise cannot be said about his filmmaking skills. Graffiti Bridge was considered a kind of sequel to the film, Purple Rain, but it was a disaster at the box office and as a story because it is an incoherent mess of clichés about love, life, music and spirituality.
For Graffiti Bridge Prince wore several hats including lead actor (reprising his Purple Rain role as The Kid) as well as director, writer and soundtrack composer. The film is a Prince machine in every sense of the word but it is obvious from the results that the Purple One was a little out of his depth because it is little more than a mess of different and competing ideas.
The story goes that the owner of the Glam Slam, Billy has passed away and left his nightclub to be divided equally between The Kid and the former one’s old foe, Morris Day (himself.) The pair have a bet to decide who will take over the ownership of the club. Over the course of the film there are some strange moments like Day urinating on a pot plant before setting it on fire. There is also a bizarre love triangle between these two men and a kind of higher force or angel named Aura (Ingrid Chavez.)
Purple Rain was a success because Prince handed over the reins to Albert Magnoli and William Blinn in the writing department and to the former for the directing. The soundtrack to Purple Rain was also Prince’s best album but Graffiti Bridge has none of these things going for it. The songs are adequate, although the spiritual ballad seems sanctimonious. The plot is also flimsy at best and at its worst seems like nothing more than an extended music video clip.
Graffiti Bridge does have Morris fronting Prince’s pseudo-group, The Time as well as cameos by Mavis Staples, George Clinton and Tevin Campbell. It is also obvious that Prince had good intentions for this film in trying to explore his spirituality, sexuality and musicality. But none of these things make a particularly good film. At the end of the day Prince should have stuck to making music – or if he had to venture into films making concert movies – because at the end of the day, Graffiti Bridge proves to be a bridge too far.
Originally published on 13 November 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/graffiti-bridge-dvd-review/
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14 Nov 2016
in Book Review
Tags: activisit, aki, atomic bombing, atomic bombing survivor, book, books, brutal, caren stelson, cautionary tale, decimated, essential reading, exposure, fat man, fundamental chapter, gruesome, hardship, hibakusha, honest, human resilience, ichiro, infomration, informative, maps, nagasaki bomb survivor, narrative, non-fiction, nuclear fallout, nuclear weaponry, peace, perils of war, photographs, radiation poisoning, raw, respectful, review, reviews, sachiko, sachiko and her family, sachiko yasui, story, survivor, symptoms, toshi, tragedy, tragedy of war, war, world war 2 bombing, world war ii bombing, ww2 bombing, wwii bombing
The story of Sachiko and other hibakusha are important, as they chronicle a fundamental part of history. This book also supports Yasui’s work as an activist for peace, as it is a cautionary tale about nuclear weaponry, but also one of hardship and human resilience. At 144 pages there were elements that could have been elaborated on further, but it remains a well-researched piece of narrative non-fiction and essential reading for anyone interested in learning from the perils and tragedy of war.
To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201611/207492
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13 Nov 2016
in Film Review
Tags: 2014, 25th anniversary, adaptation, alain boublil, alistair brammer, american g.i., american soldier and young bargirl, arranged marriage, beautiful experience, chris, Claude-Michel Schönberg, dramatic, dreamland, emotional, eva noblezada, fall of saigon, film, films, grittiness, high stakes, hope, hustler, kim, Les Misérables, Les Miserables creators, london 2014 production, london's prince edward theatre, love, love story, marry, melodious, miss saigon, poor characters, power ballads, powerful story, prince edward theatre, reunion, review, reviews, romance, sacrifice, sangwoong jo, sensitive ballads, simmering tension, the american dream, the engineer, theatre, Vietnam war, west end production
The musical was written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil who also wrote, Les Misérables. The story is actually based on Madame Butterfly, Giacomo Puccini’s opera about a tragic romance. In Miss Saigon the writers have taken the leads out of Japan and placed them into Vietnam with the romance blossoming between an American soldier and an innocent, young bargirl.
Eva Noblezada makes her professional acting debut as a vulnerable, 17-year-old girl named Kim. She is orphaned and accepts a bar job in Dreamland in order to survive. This seedy establishment is run by a French-Vietnamese hustler named The Engineer (Jon Jon Briones.) He is obsessed with money and concocts a “contest” where he crowns one of his working girls, “Miss Saigon” in order to charge a larger sum and commission for her services.
Kim meets an American G.I. named Chris (the dreamy, Alistair Brammer). Kim is naïve and sweet while Chris feels a bit lost in this strange environment but he also means well. The pair soon fall in love and marry. But they are separated during the fall of Saigon in 1975. Kim is left abandoned and pregnant and Noblezada does a fine job of making the audience really feel for the character. Kim also has to negotiate through the return of her cousin (Sangwoong Jo) who had been arranged to her in marriage by her late parents. But all she hopes for is a reunion with her beloved Chris.
The staging in this modern production at London’s Prince Edward Theatre is eye-catching with a helicopter appearing above the stage during the fall of the city and some black and white photography is also shown. There is also a grittiness to the poverty the poor characters experience and it’s hard to look away. The soundtrack is also a gorgeous and emotional one and the costumes are fabulous with Kim in demure pieces that set her apart from the raunchiness of the experienced, working girls. The ensemble also wear some glittery, showgirl outfits in “The American Dream” number when The Engineer reveals his big plans to move to the States.
Miss Saigon is a powerful story boasting equally large and sensitive ballads. This dramatic tale is a moving one about love, sacrifice and hope. The adaptation to the silver screen works well with the film capturing the simmering tension of the musical with close-ups honing on and emphasising the actor’s faces. This works well for the most part but at other points it does come at the expense of enjoying the ensemble’s dancing and the scenery, but this is just a minor quibble. Miss Saigon is ultimately a beguiling, melodious and downright beautiful experience that will tug at your heartstrings and leave you misty-eyed.
Originally published on 11 November 2016 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/film-review-miss-saigon-translates-well-to-the-screen-in-its-25th-anniversary-will-leave-you-misty-eyed/
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