FILM REVIEW: KALINKA (AU NOM DE MA FILLE)

kalinka

 

Kalinka (Au nom de ma fille) is a French film that is based on the real-life events surrounding the Kalinka Bamberski case. It’s a dark and suspenseful thriller about one man’s dogged determination for justice. It’s a fight that spans multiple decades and traverses a couple of different country’s borders with the pure aim of seeing that justice will eventually prevail.

This film is by director, Vincent Garenq who is no stranger to making films in this genre. Garenq also doubles as a co-writer along with Julien Rappeneau. The film stars Daniel Auteuil as André Bamberski and really carries this film. He plays a family man who loses his only daughter.

Bamberski’s first wife Cecile (Christelle Cornil) would divorce him in the early seventies and take a new lover in the form of the suave and charismatic Dr Dieter Krombach (Sebastian Koch) but this had painful ramifications. In July 1982 Bamberski’s 14 year old daughter, Kalinka and young son Pierre travelled from France to Germany in order to holiday with their mother and new step-father. On July 10 Kalinka was found dead. There were disturbing circumstances surrounding her passing but in Bamberski’s eyes these were not addressed during the investigation that occurred in the aftermath of his daughter’s death.

Bamberski had Kalinka’s autopsy report translated and was horrified to learn that Dr Krombach had injected his daughter with various substances (the step-father claimed that this was in an attempt to revive the teenager). Krombach was also present at the autopsy. Bamberski found it strange that the coroner had failed to properly investigate whether a rape had taken place (later when Kalinka’s body was exhumed and re-examined it would be revealed that her genitals had actually been removed). Needless to say there were a lot of questions thrown up by the investigation or lack thereof.

Bamberski presumed that Krombach was responsible for Kalinka’s death. Bamberski embarked on a relentless fight against French and German officials and their respective legal systems in order to see Krombach brought accountable for this crime. Along the way other allegations against Krombach were brought forward by other young women. All of this evidence would help Bamberski in fighting the legal obstacles thrown in his way and to eventually break the conspiracy of silence that had enveloped Kalinka’s death.

Kalinka is ultimately a rather clinical and procedural look at the events that took place with respect to the Kalinka Bamberski case. Her father André never gave up and had to fight the denial of doctors, legal professionals and his family (including his ex-wife) in order to convince them of what he believed in his gut was the truth. The story itself is a rather hopeful one that has a few things in common with In The Name Of My Daughter as it again shows a parent fighting against incompetent practices in criminal investigations. Kalinka is ultimately a dramatic and tense look at the sacrifices a David-character must endure in order to fight against some bureaucratic Goliaths in order to pursue justice, truth and accountability.

 

Originally published on 6 March 2017 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/film-review-kalinka-france-2016-is-a-shocking-and-suspenseful-true-crime-thriller/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage at: http://www.theaureview.com/

Visit The Iris’s homepage at: http://www.theiris.com.au

FOOD REVIEW: JEFF DE BRUGES 375G ASSORTED BALLOTIN BOX

 

They say that good things come in small packages. This is certainly the case for the 375g ballotin box by chocolatier, Jeff de Bruges. This little gift box packs a whopping 32 different chocolates in one handy spot. This means there is a little something for everyone in a prism that can only be described as chocolate heaven. This bundle features chocolates of all different shapes and sizes in the milk, dark and white varieties.

Jeff de Bruges is an acclaimed confectioner who is well known throughout Europe for his chocolates. Now it’s Australia’s turn with the first store in the country to be opened in Bondi. The chocolatiers use old French recipes but there are also some modern twists thrown into the mix to keep things interesting. Ultimately the emphasis is on quality as there are no hydrogenated vegetable fats, palm oil or genetically modified organisms used in the production of these chocolates. It is mostly just cocoa butter, pure and simple and this is how it should be.

The chocolates fit five broad types. There are the “intense” ones for the extra-strong dark chocolate pieces and the “creamy” for the soft and smooth ones that are typically milk chocolate. There’s the fruity variety for the often soft-centred ones that are paired with a tart fruit like a lemon or a raspberry while the spicy variety include ingredients like coffee, tea or other spices. The final “type” is the “gourmet” one and the bulk of the chocolates fit this category. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is de Bruges’s speciality as this draws together lots of crisp and nutty pieces.

A highlight of this collection is the gianduja. This is one for lovers of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher. It’s a very creamy one that tastes like hazelnuts and is also the basis for quite a few of the chocolates in the ballotin. Another stand-out is the amande milk and dark chocolates that are the size of chocolate sultanas but are actually a kind of scorched almond with a sugar coating. In lesser hands this could be sickly sweet and overpowering but one thing that is noteworthy about Jeff de Bruges’s chocolates is how balanced all the flavours are, it’s like they’re all in perfect sync with one another.

Jeff de Bruges chocolates look poised to become a new favourite with Australians who love their high-quality chocolate packed with a dash of chic and modern sophistication. The ballotin box has a little something for everyone and the premium ingredients mean that these chocolates are far better for you then the chemical-ridden slabs on our supermarket shelves. We may not need another excuse to eat chocolate but Jeff de Bruges has given us at least 32 reasons why we should sit down and savour every morsel of his creations and bask in their glory. Yum!

***Please note: a free box of chocolates was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://living.beautyandlace.net/user-reviews-jeff-de-bruges-sydney

DVD REVIEW: REGRESSION

regressionemmawatson

 

Regression is a film that lives up to its name because for you to recall any of it you’d have to go back and watch it again and again. The film is a dark one set in 1990 in rural Minnesota. It’s also one that is based on real-life events. But the story and characters are ultimately too weak and underdeveloped to lift this beyond the realm of a mediocre thriller.

The film is written and directed by Alejandro Amenábar (The Others). It seems that Amenábar was a bit too close to the subject matter. The majority of the characters feel as light-weight as holograms. Regression also often has as much horror, suspense and tension as a wet blanket.

Emma Watson stars as a troubled, 17 year-old girl who accuses her alcoholic father, John Gray (David Dencik) of rape. The Dad spends a lot of time reassuring the investigators that his daughter is nice girl who would never make this up, despite his having no recollection of the crime. The police officer investigating the case (Ethan Hawke) is initially sceptical but he begins to change his tune after he witnesses some regression therapy sessions between a psychologist (David Thewlis) and the accused. These basically culminate in memories being planted.

At times it feels like the investigator has flipped a switch. He becomes so doggedly assured that the allegations are true and that Gray’s family must be involved in a ritualistic cult. Never mind if this implicates one of his fellow officers. The dark acts involve lots of sex, rape, human sacrifice and even the consumption of human flesh, yuck! The subject matter is provocative but the film is so formulaic and far-fetched that you can’t take it very seriously (even if the film itself tries to do so!)

This story is ultimately quite dubious, especially as the therapy is pure charlatanism. This flat film tries to be raw and mysterious but in many instances it seems quite predictable, ridiculous and forgettable. Some underwhelming performances (from quality actors doing the best they can with the turgid source material) make this regression session too dull and boring for its own good. Yawn.

Originally published on 24 July 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/regression-dvd-review/

Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com/

BOOK REVIEW: ALYSON NOËL – UNRIVALED

unrivaled

 

Unrivaled is not your typical book. It’s supposed to be a suspense/thriller set in the bright lights of Hollywood and told from four different perspectives. The premise is ultimately a good one but the writing is overly simplistic and the characters are too stereotyped and clichéd to appeal to adults (although this could be perfectly pitched at the young adult readers the novel was designed for).

Alyson Noël is a successful author of over 20 books and is a New York Times best-seller whose work has been translated into multiple languages. Her latest offering, Unrivaled is the first in a new trilogy called, “Beautiful Idols.” It’s a young-adult novel and I think this may be why I had trouble engaging with the story. As a 32 year old Australian woman with only a passing interest in celebrity (and a distinct hatred of anyone that is famous for the sake of being famous) I found this story to be too vapid, slow and superficial.

The story begins with the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood It-girl, Madison Brooks. She is someone that is harbouring a number of secrets but she is certainly not alone on this front. The story then turns back time to a month prior where we meet three young, hungry teens who have agreed to take part in a contest run by a Hollywood heavyweight called Ira Redman. The competition will see an aspiring entertainment journalist named Layla, a wannabe musician called Tommy and a bratty would-be actress named Aster competing with other desperate teens to become a full-time promoter for one of Redman’s clubs. To do so they must get people through the door of one of his establishments and the more famous the guest, the better.

The book is a slow-burner and it spends a lot of time detailing the competition and the lengths the characters will stoop to. Even with all of this information, the characters still feel rather hollow and not fully formed, especially when they do things that are completely unexpected. The story of the competition also lacks suspense and it merely unfolds amidst the expected world of hidden agendas, dirty laundry, secrets, lies and the like. The book really hits its stride when it manages to catch up with the part of Brook’s disappearance but it ends in  such an unsatisfying and abrupt way in order to leave things open for the sequel that some readers may walk away feeling cheated by this turn of events.

Unrivaled is a dark novel that shows how ambitions can turn poisonous with a bunch of unlikeable and self-absorbed characters that seem like a reflection of today’s society. Noël is a good writer but this novel is a flat one, as it details some beautiful people’s competitive natures in the seedy underbelly of Hollywood. It was a book that wasn’t to my liking but the kids may enjoy this easy-to-read tale of celebrity thrills and spills.

***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-unrivaled

BLU-RAY REVIEW: CUT BANK

cut-bank

 

Cut Bank is the sort of film that if you go in with low expectations you may just be pleasantly surprised. The movie is a pastiche of noir thriller and is indebted to the work of the Coen brothers in more ways than one. Cut Bank is ultimately the sort of story that is hardly ground-breaking, but it could just be a pleasant enough ride for the most part.

The film is written by Roberto Patino (Sons of Anarchy). It also marks the feature debut for veteran TV director, Matt Shakman who has recently been working on the TV adaptation of Fargo (and this has certainly influenced this film). Cut Bank is set in the small town of the same name in Montana and it shows the events that surround the first murder to have ever taken place in the area.

The gorgeous, Liam Hemsworth stars as a hunky and restless motor mechanic who has big dreams of leaving this place for dust. He wants to bring his girlfriend, Cassandra Steeley (the sweet, Teresa Palmer) along for the ride. The latter is a natural beauty who is about to enter a local pageant. The pair were filming Steeley’s entry video in a picturesque field (this is one of many great settings that show off the excellent cinematography by Ben Richardson) but they also inadvertently capture a murder in progress.

Local mailman, Georgie Wits (Bruce Dern) is shot and there is a reward offered by the government for any information relating to the death of a federal employee. Local sheriff (a subdued, John Malkovich) is a little out of his depth because he vomits at the idea of undertaking a murder investigation. Thankfully he is ably assisted by Steeley’s father (Billy Bob Thornton). The town is also inhabited by a local weirdo and taxidermist (Michael Stuhlbarg who shares a few things in common with Robin Williams’ character in One Hour Photo). He seems like a prime suspect but to some people he may just seem like an enthusiastic US Post user who just wants his missing, “p-p-p-parcel!”

Cut Bank can be a tad outrageous and unrealistic at times. There are moments where things fall apart and the proceedings seem to veer a little too far off-course. At other times the film tries a bit too hard and fails, especially when the characters seem only half-formed. One positive however, is that the film is a brief one and it has an excellent, veteran cast that put in solid performances that keep things moving.

The special features on the Blu-ray are disappointing. There are no featurettes- all that is offered is simply the theatrical trailer and a handful of cast interviews with: Malkovich, Thornton, Stuhlbarg, Dern and Oliver Platt. For a Blu-ray containing such a short feature film this really misses the mark as there was room for the audience to enjoy so much more.

Cut Bank has its moments of decent, dark noir but it can be a bit predictable at times as it borrows a little too much from other films in the genre. If you want a story about a murder set in a small town with some simple curveballs and twists then this is a story for you. It’s not going to change your life or the world but you might just find some entertaining moments if you wade in deep enough.

 

Originally published on 4 June 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/cut-bank-blu-ray-review/

Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com/

BOOK REVIEW: LUKE DEVENISH – THE SECRET HEIRESS

the-secret-heiress

 

The Secret Heiress is a rich, historic fiction book set in Castlemaine, Australia in 1886 and 1903. The novel is by screenwriter, playwright, author and academic, Luke Devenish. The latter is no stranger to writing about history as his two previous books were set in Ancient Rome. His latest offering is a rather mysterious one set closer to home.

The novel is told in two separate, interwoven parts. Initially we meet Ida, a naïve farm girl who is offered an amazing opportunity to work as a housemaid at the exquisite, Summersby House. Ida accepts the job because it’s a great opportunity for a poor girl who has been told that she’s not very bright. It’s possible that her intelligence was not given its full credit because she is a rather inquisitive young lady nonetheless.

Ida has a rickety start at Summersby. Her mistress, Miss Gregory is found dead on Ida’s first day. But Ida perseveres because she hopes that someone at Summersby will still want to employ her. That somebody proves to be the charming and handsome gentleman, Samuel Hackett and the former fiancé of the late Miss Gregory who wishes for Ida to continue her work at the stately home. Things initially seem okay but then a serious of mysterious events start taking place and these contribute to a rather strange and vivid mystery entangling all of the characters.

The other main thread in this book stars Biddy MacBryde, a young lady with a cheeky disposition who works as a Reverend’s kitchen maid. Her big mouth sees her fired and eventually she is lured to the elusive surrounds of Summersby where she is employed as a friend/companion to one of the residents. She also possesses a natural curiosity for the house’s inhabitants and what she discovers is a rather complicated story entrenched in the past.

Luke Devenish’s prose is well-written but there are moments where it is a bit too detailed and flowery for its own good. The novel is a sprawling and ambitious one that is engaging. But there are some moments where it is a tad too confusing and difficult to understand- namely where the identities of the twin sisters, Margaret and Matilda Gregory are described. The characterisation is rich but the names are too similar and the structure is a little too messy and this can confuse some readers. Thankfully this is all resolved eventually in what is a rather neat and satisfying ending.

The Secret Heiress is a complex book filled with layers of lies and deceit. It’s an interesting story and Devenish should be commended for setting a dark and gothic tale in Australia. There are some minor problems that let this book down but ultimately it is quite a dark and stirring read set in an opulent house and grounds. Nice.

***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-the-secret-heiress

THEATRE REVIEW: WUTHERING HEIGHTS @ RIVERSIDE THEATRE, PARRAMATTA (22.03.2016)

WutheringheightsproductionHR-1905 - Photo by Dylan Evans

 

Photo credit: Dylan Evans



Love will tear us apart. This song lyric by the late Ian Curtis of Joy Division seems an appropriate way to sum up the gothic romance tale, Wuthering Heights. Queensland’s shake & stir theatre co. have produced a rather faithful and intense adaptation of Emily Brontë’s story, but it also manages to add a few cotemporary flourishes that complement the melodrama.

The play begins with an ominous crash of thunder and lightning and this serves as a signpost for the drama that is to come. Hindley (Nick Skubij who doubles as the show’s adaptor and director) and Catherine Earnshaw are privileged young siblings living on an estate known as Wuthering Heights on the Yorkshire moors. The pair are also the children of Mr Earnshaw, a character who is omitted from this production. Mr Earnshaw adopts a young, sullen gypsy boy he names Heathcliff and this act sets off a chain of events that has ramifications for multiple generations.

Gemma Willing is excellent in the starring role as the wild and free-spirited Catherine and in the second act she plays this formidable woman’s young daughter. As children, Catherine and Heathcliff (played by Ross Balbuziente who does a fantastic job, especially when playing the adult version of this character) were once inseparable friends. They would also become lovers until Catherine meets her neighbours from Thrushcross Grange, Edgar Linton (Tim Dashwood who seems a touch too feminine and almost camp) and his sister Isabella (Nelle Lee who juggles multiple roles quite seamlessly).

The meeting between Catherine and the Lintons will leave her a changed woman. She loses her youthful innocence and wild ways and instead becomes a stately and elegant young woman. She accepts Linton’s marriage proposal and rejects Heathcliff’s advances despite her heart telling her to do the opposite. Catherine is punished for this both emotionally and spiritually and descends into madness while Heathcliff is incensed and vows to exact revenge, even if he has to bide his time for multiple decades.

This adaptation is faithful to Brontë’s original tale because it shows both Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship as well as the impact of this disturbed love affair on the next generation. The actors each put in some great performances and offer subtler turns when they are playing the younger generation of children whereas more intense and visceral emotions are required for the older ones. Some of the actors play multiple roles across time but the exception to this is the pragmatic narrator Nelly Dean (Linden Wilkinson who had a hard job remembering so many lines and sometimes forgot these) and the dark and villainous Heathcliff. These two are integral to the story and really carry it.

The set is minimal but it works because it is able to double as two different manor houses as well as offer the backdrop for the treacherous moors, complete with life-like rain, thunder and lightning. Some musical motifs are repeated as the scenes change and this adds a certain neatness to the structure, especially when considering that it is such a dense and sprawling story. This adaptation also uses large video projections that really showcase the heightened emotions of the characters and their extinguished flames as they pass away. This is one sumptuous visual feast to say the least.

It is unfortunate that the set also let down the actors on at least a few occasions. There are times when the characters stood behind a shrouded curtain at the back and while this added extra mystery to the piece, it did make it difficult to hear and understand them at times. The first act was also a bit too long and while it ended with Catherine’s death, it felt a little anti-climactic with Dean finishing things by mentioning that there was something contained in a note. Thankfully the actual end of the play reached a more rousing crescendo.

Wuthering Heights is a dark and slow-burning play that sits on the knife edge of love, loss, betrayal, jealousy and revenge. It’s one complex and visceral story of a destructive and disturbing love that would shake a family to its core and be felt by the following generation. shake & stir theatre co.’s adaptation remains true to the classic tale while also offering a welcome modern slant that effectively captures the heady and human emotions of the original narrative. In short, it makes it all feel rather intense and real for a whole new generation of audiences.

Originally published on 24 March 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/theatre-review-wuthering-heights-riverside-theatre-parramatta-22-03-16/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to the arts at: http://arts.theaureview.com

INTERVIEW: DIRECTOR DENNY LAWRENCE TALKS ABOUT ALL MY LOVE

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Henry Lawson and Mary Gilmore are two famous, Australian writers. But what people may not realise is that the pair were also lovers and secretly betrothed. This information has only come to light in the couple’s surviving letters and in Gilmore’s memoirs and forms the basis of a new play titled, All My Love. It’s a show adapted for the stage by Anne Brooksbank and promises to be an intense and tragic love story.

The AU Review sat down with All My Love’s director, Denny Lawrence to talk about the play, Australian history and famous couples from yesteryear.

Can you briefly introduce yourself? How long have you been working in the arts industry?

I started as a child actor in theatre and did some television in early adolescence. Then I applied to NIDA out of high school and after my time there worked as an actor in theatre and television before starting to direct in theatre. After a few years, I decided to move into directing film and television, so I applied to AFTRS and was accepted. Since graduating I have worked in all three media as writer, producer and director.

Can you briefly describe All My Love?

This is a poignant story of two of Australia’s iconic literary figures: Mary Gilmore and Henry Lawson and their little-known secret betrothal.

All My Love tells the untold love story of two famous Australian writers, Henry Lawson and Mary Gilmore. Does the show feature many quotes from their actual, individual works? Are there any famous ones in particular that you’d like to discuss for us?

They were both so prolific it was hard to include very many of their poems (let alone Henry’s short stories) but writer Anne Brooksbank has cleverly used some of Mary’s poems as a kind of ‘sub-text’ in the narrative and it is especially evocative to hear the passion Mary expressed in her work.

Why do you think audiences should come and see All My Love?

The story is historically significant yet quite relevant to a contemporary Australian audience. It is great getting to know more about these highly regarded cultural figures – and most of all to experience their relationship, which continued throughout their lives until Henry’s premature death.

Do you have a favourite scene in the production? What’s it about and why did you choose this one?

There are so many but perhaps one favourite is the scene where Mary and Henry meet after he has been away at the West Australian goldfields and she believes (wrongly) that he has not written to her. It reveals the key turning point in their relationship – and the tragedy of their never getting together. Anne has written it with tremendous insight, as well as humour. Henry’s weaknesses come out, so he is seen as more than just the great artist: he was also a flawed man.

Do you have a favourite piece of text or a favourite quote from either Lawson or Gilmore? Why did you pick this particular one?

Again, there are so many – but possibly this piece of Mary’s that so well sums up her strength of character, her stoicism:
Never admit the pain
Bury it deep,
Only the weak complain,
Complaint is cheap.
Cover thy wound, fold down
Its curtained place,
Silence is still a crown,
Courage a grace.

The show stars Kim Denman (Neighbours) and Dion Mills (It’s A Date). How did the actors prepare for their roles?

They both did a massive amount of research. I think they each read everything their characters ever wrote! They also read historical accounts of the time, and Kim was able to listen to some extensive radio interviews that Mary did late in her life, which were a great help to her.

All My Love sounds like a sad romance tale. If you could invite any couple from history to dinner who would it be and why?

What an interesting question! And another one about which it is hard to be selective. I have actually co-written a play about the weekend that Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier had Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller to stay. That would be a great dinner!

The play is taking place at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres. The suburb itself was in the news fairly recently because they had found some historic relics buried there. Does the location of the play have any sort of impact on the show? Does it produce better performances in the actors?

Parramatta is one of the few places in Sydney that still has some sense of history. I know that both Kim and Dion are keen historians and will react to that find with interest. As to affecting their performance, I think it is all about responding to the live audience as they enter the imagined world we have all created together. That is the great thing about theatre.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell The AU Review about “All My Love” or any of your other upcoming projects?

My next two projects are both for HIT Productions: Educating Rita, starring Colin Moody. Great play, great actor. And then I direct Always Patsy Cline – about another real person, the wonderful Country singer of the title. I believe that show will be playing at Riverside.

Originally published on 12 February 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/interviews/all-my-loves-denny-lawrence-talks-about-the-tragic-relationship-between-writers-henry-lawson-and-mary-gilmore/

Visit The Au Review’s homepage dedicated to the arts at: http://arts.theaureview.com

DVD REVIEW: WALT DISNEY – HIS LIFE & LEGACY

walt

 

The documentary series, “Walt Disney – His Life & Legacy” allows us all to jump into the wonderful and colourful world of Disney. It’s one that is extremely interesting and exciting. Plus, it’s not all about colourful fantasy lands and spoonfuls of sugar but rather, it shows a complex and captivating human being and family man.

Director/writer Sarah Colt and writer, Mark Zwonitzer were each granted unprecedented access to the Disney archives. They also paint a rather honest portrait of a man who was at times portrayed as a warm fatherly figure but who also had a rather dark side. This documentary steers clear of hagiography and instead shows a more honest version of Disney than the current corporation bearing his name would ever have produced.

Walter Elias Disney was born in Chicago in 1901 and he died of lung cancer aged 65. The real-life Disney was a chain-smoker and perfectionist but his programs and movies celebrated his old fashioned values along with plenty of saccharine and corn. This film is broken up into four separate one hour parts and looks at what a driven and determined character he was as well as his striving for innovation and creativity and his desire to harness the powers of new technologies to achieve one thing overall, that is to be a masterful storyteller.

Disney had a strained relationship with his father, Elias but he also had some fond memories from a short period in his childhood. The latter were used as the building blocks for many of his stories and ideas. Most of the Disney films were about outsiders struggling to gain acceptance and to belong. As a young man, Disney managed to achieve some successes and faced many failures with some early cartoon characters (these included Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and a series of Alice cartoons which mixed animation with live-action scenes). But it really wasn’t until 1928 when Steamboat Wille a cartoon starring Mickey Mouse birthed a superstar and a phenomenon.

Disney was one complex entrepreneur and he would go on to challenge the word of entertainment with his masterpiece, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the first full-length animated feature film followed by the more artistic and abstract, Fantasia. Disney also made some more creative masterworks in the form of Pinocchio and Dumbo. But it wasn’t long before he became restless and had another vision, to open up a theme park named Disneyland. He realised this dream and along the way he also accumulated numerous Oscars but his pride and joy was getting nominated for Best Picture for his labour of love, Mary Poppins.

Walt Disney – His Life & Legacy features many talking head interviews and archive footage. Disney’s son-in-law Ron Miller is interviewed along with animators, writers and costume designers as well as film, art and media historians who offer illuminating thoughts and context. Disney’s biographer, Neal Gabler also features here. This film celebrates Disney’s incredible success but also manages to give airtime to his failures and problems. A nervous breakdown is mentioned as well as a labour dispute between Disney and his employees that belonged to a union, which is covered in some detail.

This documentary is a gripping story about the creative genius that was Walt Disney. He achieved so much in 65 years that it almost feels like four hours is not enough to cover it all (especially when you consider the films, Alice In Wonderland  and Sleeping Beauty are not even mentioned at all). In short, this documentary strikes a great balance between the different sides of the multifaceted Disney as well as showcasing and celebrating his amazing art and his rich and lasting legacy. Disney’s life really was a wonderful world.

Originally published on 27 December 2015 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/walt-disney-life-legacy-dvd-review/

Visit Impulse Gamer’s homepage at: http://www.impulsegamer.com/

BOOK REVIEW: ELLIE O’NEILL – THE ENCHANTED ISLAND

enchanted island

 

Ellie O’Neill’s sophomore novel, The Enchanted Island shares a few things in common with Marian Keyes’ work. The two writers are both Irish and they pen engaging chick literature that is easy to read and fun to immerse yourself in. The Enchanted Island also manages to combine some quirky Irish magic and humour into its oddball, verdant mix.

The book is a first person narrative starring Maeve O’Brien. She’s a modern woman and trainee lawyer who can often be found posting on social media, getting Botox and posing for selfies. She’s a little vapid and self-obsessed but she’s also very real. I think there’s a little bit of Maeve in all of us.

O’Brien’s workplace is a battleground and the threat of redundancy is looming. She’s also committed a terrible act, she’s stolen her friend’s credit card in order to pay for her beauty treatments. So when the opportunity arises to go to the remote and mysterious island of Hy Brasil (a real place found to the West of Ireland), Maeve jumps at the chance because all she really needs to do is get a certain man’s signature.

But all is not as it seems on this particular island. The inhabitants are resistant to change and Sean Fitzpatrick (the man Maeve needs to meet in order to sign a contract) is proving elusive. This novel is like Hy Brasil itself, there is more to it than meets the eye. It will remind readers of what it’s like to get back to basics and to appreciate the simpler things in life. The lead character goes through a huge transformation and certainly becomes more likeable as one gets deeper into the story.

In all, The Enchanted Island is an engaging and beautiful tale with a dark undercurrent. It’s also a humble story that will resonate with readers because the island is resplendent and cloaked in an infectious and seductive mystery. In short, this is one whimsical, modern romance and love letter to Ireland. Recommended.

***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-the-enchanted-island

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