21 Mar 2017
in Book Review
Tags: abortion, accomplished, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Ahamefule Oluo, anecdotes, articulate, arts writer, blogger, book, books, came out of her shell, comedy, comedy writer, commended, compelling, cry, dan savage, essays, excellent, fat activism, fat activist, fat debate, fat girl, film critic, funny, grey matter, guardian columnist, hybrid, internet troll, jezebel blogger, jim norton tv debate, jubilant, laugh, laughing matter, lindy west, mean, memoir, outspoken, paul west twitter, periods, personal, personal anecdotes, prose, rage, rape, rape jokes, relatable, review, reviews, rollercoaster ride, sassy, seattle's alternative newspaper, shrill, shrill - notes from a loud woman, shy girl, strike a chord, tackles uncomfortable topics, the stranger, this american life, thoughtful, uncomfortable truths, uncompromising, well-considered arguments, witty, writer
Lindy West was one of the highlights from this year’s All About Women festival at the Sydney Opera House. So it is unsurprising that this Guardian columnist and Jezebel blogger’s book, Shrill – Notes From A Loud Woman is funny, accomplished and excellent. West’s book is ultimately a hybrid between memoir, with personal anecdotes, and essays, where she writes about important issues and uncomfortable truths in a compelling and articulate way.
For those people who are unfamiliar with West’s work, the Seattle-born writer first came into prominence while working as a film critic for Seattle’s alternative newspaper, The Stranger. Her review of Sex & The City 2 went viral. Initially her work focused on reviews of the arts, film and comedy but over time she started to become an activist for causes she felt strongly about, and a lot of these causes are covered in some detail in Shrill.
This volume opens with West’s account of growing up as a shy, fat girl. She admits that she was once so overwhelmed and consumed with shyness that she was unable to ask her classroom teacher if she could be excused in order to go to the bathroom. In the end Lindy peed her pants and she tried to blame this on a nearby water jug.
For years West grappled with the shape of her body and society’s demands, where women are often taught from birth that we should be small both physically and in presence. But over time West realised that she could not ignore the fact that she was fat. She also came out of her shell, and all of these things meant that Lindy eventually came to the realisation that she wanted to obliterate those views that permeate society.
Lindy’s fat activism means she’s received her fair share of negative retaliation. Her former editor, Dan Savage tried to weigh into the fat debate, using the argument that accepting fatness contributes to the obesity epidemic. West, however, addressed the argument raising the idea that fat people should not be considered acceptable human punching bags. West’s arguments were both well-considered and thoughtful. It is this same style that was particularly evident in West’s TV debate with comedian Jim Norton, over rape jokes in comedy, and as well through much of this book.
Shrill includes a lot of things that are clearly quite personal to Lindy. One of the hardest parts to read is where she takes on one of her meanest internet trolls. They had created a Twitter page where he pretended to be West’s father, Paul, shortly after he had passed away. The troll also wrote that Paul West was the “Embarrassed father of an idiot.” This broke Lindy’s heart and she penned an essay about the ordeal. The troll eventually apologised to her and the two had a frank and open discussion on an episode of This American Life. Score sheet Lindy West: 1 Trolls: 0.
In Shrill, West should be commended for tackling some uncomfortable topics (abortion, rape, periods, etc.) and for being outspoken, witty and sassy in her remarks. West makes some compelling arguments, whilst also letting the reader in on some very intense and private moments from her own life (including her love for her husband, Ahamefule J. Oluo). Shrill is ultimately a bit of a rollercoaster ride where you’ll laugh, cry, feel rage and be jubilant at West’s uncompromising and relatable anecdotes and prose. West clearly knows how to strike a chord with readers, so some things are a laughing matter, others will appeal to your grey matter, and then there are even more topics that just matter. Period.
Originally published on 19 March 2017 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/book-review-lindy-wests-shrill-will-make-you-laugh-cry-rage-and-feel-jubilant-at-her-uncompromising-prose/
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20 Mar 2017
in Blu-ray Review
Tags: anxious guy, blu-ray, bluray, calculated, comedy, comedy caper, complicated web of lies, compulsive liar, convoluted lies, could do with more laughs, Dana Delany, deceive people, ditzy woman, dream house, effervescent, escapism, film, films, forgetable, frank oz, free spirit, Goldie Hawn, gwen phillips, house, house sitter, housesitter, liar, lies, light comedy, lightweight comedy, living new lives, newton davis, not great, outrageous, over-the-top comedy, reinventing herself, rejects marriage proposal, requires a huge suspension of disbelief, review, reviews, sham marriage, star, steve martin, well-meaning, zany
Housesitter is a film that shares a few things in common with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Both star Steve Martin playing a character where he has to deceive some people and both are directed by Frank Oz. Housesitter was never a film that was going to win any awards but it is ultimately a fun and forgettable little lightweight comedy.
The story goes as follows: Newton Davis (Martin) is an architect working away in a hum-drum job. He builds his dream house in his idyllic hometown and proposes to his childhood sweetheart, Becky (Dana Delany.) Things are looking pretty sweet until Becky rejects Newton’s proposal.
Three months later Newton is still reeling from the rejection. But he finds solace in the arms of a quick-thinking waitress named Gwen Phillips (an effervescent Goldie Hawn.) Gwen is a compulsive liar. She initially tells Newton that she’s Hungarian. But she’s just a free spirit who enjoys reinventing herself and living new lives. The pair have a one night stand but Newton leaves before the morning arrives.
This film requires a huge suspension of disbelief with respect to what happens next. Gwen has a napkin containing a drawing of Newton’s dream house and decides that this is enough to jack in her waitressing job and set up house in the vacant one that Newton built (when she doesn’t even know the exact address.) In Gwen’s first hour in town (after finding “the house”) she sets up accounts in Newton’s name and tells everyone (including his ex and his parents) that she is Newton’s wife. This is the first of a web of lies that become more and more convoluted and complicated.
When Newton learns about what happens he isn’t that mad because he views the situation as an opportunity to get back together with his ex-girlfriend. Newton’s ex becomes jealous of Gwen and Newton’s love and marriage even though their wedded bliss is a sham. Gwen may be a liar but she at least improves Newton’s life for the better- by reuniting him with his father, helping him win a promotion at work, etc. But is it love?
This film basically sees Steve Martin playing the same character he always plays- the over-the-top anxious/serious guy. He seems a tad too old for this role. Goldie Hawn is also the same age as Martin was at the time (46) but she is better-preserved and more believable in her role. Hawn is the real star here and she carries this film as the attractive and sensuous eye candy as well as playing a ditzy woman on the surface but quite a calculating and well-meaning liar as you dig a little deeper.
Housesitter is a zany little comedy caper that could do with a few more laughs. It has some pleasing moments and it’s an easy watch but it’s not an excellent movie by any stretch of the imagination. This outrageous and over-the-top comedy is an enjoyable little piece of escapism but don’t expect it to stay with you beyond the closing credits.
Originally published on 19 March 2017 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/whole-truth-dvd-review/
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12 Mar 2017
in Book Review
Tags: book, books, comedic look at feminism, comedy, damaging, derisive, feminism, feminism for millennials, feminists, fresh approach, fun, funny, general silliness, graphics, hard to know where the joke ends and the facts begin, how to love your body even though hers is better, how to win at feminism, illustrations, jokes, large grain of salt, misguided, no laughing matter, not funny, photographs, reductress, review, reviews, sarcasm, satire, satirical look at feminism, self-help manual, silly, the definitive guide to having it all & then some!, the onion for feminists, wit
How to Win at Feminism is a book that needs to be taken along with a large grain of salt as it is supposed to be a funny and subversive – if misguided – look at feminism for millennials. The writers even include acknowledge this, with, “At the end of the day, we’re just a bunch of cute klutzes who wrote an effing book” but is this admission at the end of the book one that is too little too late? If How to Win at Feminism achieves anything it is to prove that for some people feminism isn’t and will never be a laughing matter.
To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201703/226256
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01 Mar 2017
in Theatre Review
Tags: 1967, 1986, 3 australian families on holiday, 67, aids play, atmospheric, australian play, away, base, cancer, children passing before parents, clever, comedy, complex, conflict, darker, death, debuted at the stables theatre, difficult, drama, drama theatre, evocative, family christmas holiday, fun, funny, glenn hazeldine, great ensemble cast, grief, heather mitchell, high-versatile script, human sense, imagery, imaginary fairies, j. david franzke, jokes, joyous, julia davis, layered, leukaemia, liam nunan, loss, malthouse theatre production, marco chiappi, matriarch, matthew lutton, michael gow, michael gow's away, minimalist set, moods, naomi rukavina, natasha herbert, opera house, play, popular, references, review, reviews, sharp, simple, snobbish mother, Sydney, sydney opera house, sydney theatre company production, symbolic, tense, the golden age, theatre, themes, three australian families on holiday, visceral, wadih dona, witty writing, young love
Michael Gow’s Away is one of Australia’s most popular plays and this latest production makes it easy to see why. The current Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre Production sees the play return to its second home at the Sydney Opera House (the show played here one year after it debuted at the Stables Theatre in 1986.) It’s a story that is in some ways deceptively simple and in others is quite layered and complex in its symbolism, imagery and references to different texts. This is a portrayal of three different Australian families going away on holiday in 1967 and one that remains an important and vital slice of home-grown theatre.
Away is directed by Matthew Lutton (Edward II) and stars Liam Nunan (The Golden Age) as a young, aspiring actor named Tom. He falls in love with a strong and independent young woman named Meg (Naomi Rukavina in her STC debut.) The pair met when they were performing together in their school’s production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Young love is a beautiful thing but this romance comes under fire thanks to Meg’s snobbish, ball-breaking mother Gwen (a terrifying, Heather Mitchell). Gwen believes her daughter is too good for this young boy — he’s the son of English immigrants (Julia Davis and Wadih Dona). Gwen also refuses to let up on her stronghold over the family, including her husband (Marco Chiappi), as well as the apron strings, much to Meg’s chagrin.
The other family out on holiday are the school principal (Glenn Hazeldine) and his shell of a wife, Coral (Natasha Herbert). This older couple is grappling with grief because their only son died in the Vietnam War. This is not the only allusion to death in this play, Tom has leukaemia and he learns that his diagnosis is bleak despite his parents’ best efforts to try and shield this dire news from him. This notion of children passing before their parents meant that Away was also described as being a meditation on the AIDS epidemic because this was happening in real life as Gow was writing it.
The lines in this play are very clever and sharp and Gow’s writing in superb. There are also some great little jokes peppering the script. Gow successfully traverses the lines between poignant and meaningful moments and themes like death, loss and conflict and other points that are quite joyous and fun (young love and the idealism of English immigrants in their new-found home, etc.)
The set itself is quite a minimalist one and this makes the audience focus on the actors and their different conflicts. There is a major change in the play where a storm erupts (thanks to some imaginary fairies) and thereafter the actors are bathed in a stark, white light. It’s interesting that in these moments where the tangible things are stripped away that the play’s most narcissistic and wealth-obsessed character can stop, take stock and learn about more important things in life than mere objects.
The actors prove a formidable ensemble cast. They are also extremely adept at realising this highly-versatile script and the many moods and themes that are often referenced in it. The actors should also be commended for their portrayal of Shakespeare’s finest characters and these complex and uniquely-Australian ones.
There is also some different musical interludes by composer J. David Franzke. The music during the scene changes is quite evocative and atmospheric, at once bringing to mind the carefree sixties and at other moments supporting the play’s darker themes.
Away is one entertaining and absorbing show about three different Australian families tackling with important, everyday issues in a tense and difficult atmosphere — the family Christmas holiday. There are moments that will make you laugh and other times where you will despair and cry. Away is ultimately a theatrical beast in every sense, because it plays with the notion of art in such a clever and skilful way and it appeals to our emotions in the most base, visceral and human sense. Amazing.
Photo credit: James Green
Originally published on 26 February 2017 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/theatre-review-away-is-an-enduring-and-symbolic-look-at-life-conflict-the-family-christmas-holiday/
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12 Feb 2017
in DVD Review
Tags: 1930s, beautifully shot, beauty, blake lively, bobby, cafe society, chemistry, comedy, debachery, dramedy, dvd, dvds, enjoyable, enjoyment, entertainment, excess, existential questions, fakery, fanity, film, films, flimsy, funny, gangster brother, girls, glamour, halcyon days, high society, hollywood, hollywood heavyweight, jazzy nightlife, Jesse Eisenberg, kristen stewart, l.a., la, la la land, light comedy, lightweight, los angeles, money, movie, navel-gazing, new york, old money, pleasant, predictable, professional dreams and romance, relax, review, reviews, romance, romantic story, society set, Steve Carrell, street smart girl, style, thirties, trappings, uncle phil, vonnie, witty, Woody Allen, woody allen film, youth
It seems that La La Land is not the only film to look affectionately at some halcyon days in Hollywood. Woody Allen’s Café Society manages to do this as well as celebrating the jazzy nightlife of New York. This is a light yet fun film that is like a love letter to old money and its trappings, even though it is set in the thirties, a time where most would normally stop and think about the Great Depression.
Café Society once again sees the famed director doubling as the film’s narrator. It is also brimming with the kind of witty repartee that Allen and his work have become synonymous with. It also finds time for some navel gazing, posing some existential questions and sticking the knife into organised religion. This is a funny and romantic story but in true Allen fashion, it’s one that rules with the head rather than the heart.
Jesse Eisenberg does his best Woody Allen impression and stars as Bobby, a kid with stars in his eyes. He is seduced by Hollywood’s bright lights and leaves his family behind for L.A. Steve Carrell is a Hollywood heavyweight and Bobby’s Uncle Phil. The latter takes pity on his nephew and offers the boy some work doing odd job at the company he owns.
Bobby initially enjoys the girls, glamour and debauchery of la la land but eventually he comes to see through it all. He realises that a lot of it is excess, fakery and vanity. This sentiment is shared by his uncle’s secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart who actually cracks a smile for once and puts in a decent performance.) The chemistry between these former cast mates is quite obvious and really makes the romance seem plausible.
The two youngsters bond over a mutual love of Mexican food. Vonnie initially plays her cards close to her chest because she’s intelligent and street-smart and because she has an elusive boyfriend she started dating shortly before meeting Bobby. The latter was always going to be hooked on his Uncle’s secretary, he was smitten early on and it’s almost inevitable that he will have his heart broken.
Eventually Bobby returns to New York to work with his gangster brother in a nightclub. It’s here that he meets a divorcee (a fresh-faced and bubbly, Blake Lively.) A new romance blossoms but this bliss doesn’t last for long because Vonnie soon visits New York and the club with another unwelcome visitor in tow.
Café Society celebrates style, youth and beauty. It’s a rather flimsy, predictable and lightweight film but it’s also one that offers enjoyment in spades thanks to its beautifully-shot scenes and witty dialogue. This is a look at a rich part of America in the thirties and it shows where professional dreams can clash with romance (although this is nothing new.) This is the sort of film that will not profoundly affect you but one where you can sit back, relax and enjoy as a sort of date with the society set with all of the trimmings.
Originally published on 6 February 2017 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/cafe-society-dvd-review/
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01 Jan 2017
in Blu-ray Review
Tags: animated series, basic animations, beer-swilling boob working a boring job, bill burr, bill murphy, blu-ray, bluray, cartoon, cartoon family, comedy, crude animations, dark humour, Debi Derryberry, distasteful jokes, dysfunctional family, f is for family, frank murphy, haley reinhart, honest, inspired by bill burr's childhood, justin long, kevin murphy, korean war veteran, laura dern, michael price, mohican airlines, needs more jokes, netflix series, one-liners, parody, racist, review, reviews, set in the 1970s, set in the seventies, stereotypes, swearing, terrible parent, the murphy family, unapologetic, unoriginal
The letter “f” is at the beginning of a few different words. There’s the animated Netflix series, F Is For Family. There’s also “fail,” “f**ed,” “flimsy” and “forgettable.” It is easy to sit back and say that the aforementioned series about a dysfunctional family lead by a beer-swilling boob that works in a boring job is unoriginal insofar as that description could be used to describe numerous TV shows (Married With Children and The Simpsons are just two that immediately spring to mind.) F Is For Family is not a perfect show but what it does do well is that it is honest and offers no apologies, if it wants to use crude animations, characters swearing and making jokes that were acceptable in the seventies but are deemed racist today then it will take you there for better or worse and whether you want to or not.
The series is created by comedian Bill Burr and Michael Price (The Simpsons.) It should come as no surprise that the series obviously draws inspiration from both of its creators. For Burr it is in the long and angry rants that the Korean War-veteran father, Frank Murphy regularly delivers (a character that is also voiced by Burr.) There are also plenty of one-liner jokes that are quite obviously ripped off of The Simpsons because as South Park once declared, “The Simpsons already did it.”
F Is For Family stars the Murphy family. There is the father Frank, a disgruntled former baggage handler who has recently been promoted to middle manager at Mohican Airlines. There is his long-suffering wife (Laura Dern,) a woman who aspires to be more than just a housewife and a lady that voluntarily sells plast-a-ware (a take on Tupperware) to people. Kevin Murphy (Justin Long) is like a grown-up Bart Simpson in that he’s an underachiever and proud of it. His younger brother, Bill (Haley Reinhart) is a pathetic little wimp and wallflower and a kid who is easily manipulated and taken advantage of by the youngest Murphy, Maureen (Debi Derryberry.)
This show is a serialised one so we follow the storylines through the six episodes of the first series. Frank begins by trying to outdo his rich and handsome next-door neighbour by purchasing a colour TV that he cannot afford. Frank is not an overly likeable character, especially when he demands a hot meal and peace and quiet from his wife and kids. He also undermines his wife’s chance at a job and he is a terrible parent. Frank invents “Summer in Alaska” in a bid to get his children to go to bed in the afternoon and he offers “helpful” advice like, “Be nice to your sister. Someday you’ll be sleeping on her couch after your first divorce!”
F Is For Family has its moments but it could do with some more jokes. It could also resist the urge to resort to stereotypes and perhaps remove some characters altogether (the family’s German neighbour for instance, is a presumed Nazi but is actually a Holocaust survivor and these jokes often leave a bad taste in your mouth.) F Is For Family is a parody of a dysfunctional family set in the 1970s and is inspired in part by Burr’s childhood. It uses dark humour, basic animations and some distasteful jokes in order to make a point. While this can be rather enjoyable at times, at other moments it feels like yet another dysfunctional family in a sitcom running through the same old jokes on repeat.
Originally published on 28 December 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/f-is-for-family-dvd-review/
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31 Dec 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: 2 unlikely friends, 24 hour emergency butcher, 8 part, abc, adventures, anxious guy, best friends, buddy comedy, celia pacquola, charming, clever, clever jokes, comedy, daniel mccallum, danny mccallum, dvd, dvds, eight part, emma dawes, family real estate business, fish-out-of-water comedy, friends, friendship, funny, kris mcquade, likeable, luke mc gregor, luke mcgregor, luke warm sex, misadventures, nervy guy, review, reviews, rosehaven, rosehaven series 1, rural Australia, season 1, season one, series one, shenanigans, shy guy, sitcom, two unlikely friends, utopia, wonderful laughs
Rosehaven is a comedy show that finds the funny in lots of things. It’s a fish-out-of-water comedy, a buddy comedy and a sitcom set in rural Australia. This eight-part series debuted on the ABC in 2016 and it was a hit with audiences. This is because it’s a funny show about two rather unlikely friends and their lives in the fictional town of Rosehaven.
The show is written and created by Australian comedians Celia Pacquola (Utopia) and Luke McGregor (Luke Warm Sex). It’s not the most original premise for a program but it is one that has a big heart. This could be because Rosehaven manages to find the comedy in the characters’ adventures and misadventures.
McGregor stars as Daniel McCallum, a character that you sense is not a huge stretch for him to write or play. McCallum had previously left his childhood town of Rosehaven in Tasmania to work on the mainland of Australia. But his mother’s ailing health means that her shy, anxious and nervy son must return home to help run the family real estate business. Cue a lot of the local townspeople greeting the grown-up Daniel by his childhood name, “Danny” and making the assumption that he couldn’t “Hack it on the mainland.”
Pacquola stars as McCallum’s vivacious and confident best friend, Emma Dawes. You get the sense that the pair’s friendship has survived an awful lot, not least Emma’s marriage. The series opens with McCallum playing the bridesmaid for his best friend but the marriage doesn’t last much longer than the actual ceremony. Emma is left abandoned by her new husband on her honeymoon in Bali. So she goes to Tasmania to seek refuge and new opportunities with her best friend, Daniel. It helps that Emma is a fast-learner and a natural talent at the real estate game and that she’s not fazed by the town’s eccentrics (think a hoarder, some vigilante neighbourhood watch members, a 24-hour emergency butcher and more).
The series pokes fun at the shenanigans the pair encounter while trying to run the small real estate office owned by Daniel’s mother (an powerful and occasionally scary, Kris McQuade) in the quiet and idyllic, eponymous town. McGregor and Pacquola have a wonderful chemistry and it’s obvious that they’re close friends in real life. The pair also have great lines that really bounce off the other quite well with McGregor’s reticent straight man often proving to be the comedic foil because he is a pushover for the more devilish, quick-thinking and enterprising Emma.
Rosehaven’s first series proved to be a charming and likeable one. The show has some clever jokes and wonderful laughs and it is a testament to the exciting writing by Pacquola and McGregor that they did not have to resort to cheap jokes about the local townspeople who to be fair are a bunch of eccentrics. Instead this is a fun comedy program that will have you cheering on these adorable adolescent-like adults and their blooming business because it will make you want to sit back and hope that this little family enterprise and friendship becomes hot property.
Originally published on 29 December 2016 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/dvd-review-rosehaven-series-one-australia-2016-is-a-funny-comedy-misadventure-about-two-unlikely-friends/
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