FILM REVIEW: DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE

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David Stratton is the doyen of Australian cinema. He is a respected film critic who has watched in excess of 25,000 films, peed on Fellini and entertained Australians for decades through his movie reviews with sparring partner Margaret Pomeranz. David Stratton: A Cinematic Life is a documentary about his life and brilliant career and is not unlike the Roger Ebert documentary, Life Itself in that they’re both personal and engaging looks at two influential men with an infectious passion for the silver screen.

This documentary is directed by Sally Aitken (Getting Frank Gehry, Streets of Your Town) and is a companion piece to a longer mini-series about Australian cinema, which will air on television later this year. Perhaps as a result of this, A Cinematic Life proves to be an ambitious undertaking, as it attempts to tell a number of different stories. It’s about Australia’s best known film critic as well as a brief history of Australian cinema and both of these stories are enough to fill several films or books.

A Cinematic Life focuses on some key facets of Stratton’s history and personality. There was his childhood spent in Britain where he wrote his first review as a boy (he has these and the ones he penned for Variety and The Australian on file in a card system that is reminiscent of libraries prior to the advent of computers.) He cultivated a love for cinema and immigrated to Australia in 1963. Stratton is candid in talking about his estrangement from his father and the feeling that he was the black sheep in his family (he likens this feeling to Muriel Heslop’s character in Muriel’s Wedding). Stratton’s brother, Roger appears here and says he’d die happy if he never watched another film and their father was furious when David failed to return to England to help head the grocery business, which had been in the family for generations.

When Stratton arrived in Australia in the sixties the local film industry was virtually non-existent but people like Stratton helped to build it up. He served as the director of the Sydney Film Festival for 17 years, championed local films and was vocal in his opposition against draconian film censorship rules. This outspokenness did not go unnoticed; during the Cold War, Stratton was under surveillance by ASIO when all he was doing was obtaining visas to attend the Moscow International Film Festival.

This documentary weaves together scenes from important Australian films (from the 1906 The Story of the Kelly Gang to recent hit, The Dressmaker and many in between) and it also has Stratton visit some important settings like Hanging Rock and the site of the house from The Castle. A veritable who’s who of Australian entertainment are interviewed, including actors: Nicole Kidman, Geoffrey Rush, Eric Bana, Sam Neill, Judy Davis, Jacki Weaver, Russell Crowe and Hugo Weaving as well as directors: Gillian Armstrong, George Miller, Peter Weir and Bruce Beresford, among others.

David Stratton: A Cinematic Life can be a little disjointed as it crams in as much as possible into its 110 minute runtime. But it remains a personal and fascinating documentary and a celebration of both Stratton’s legacy and Australian cinema as a whole. For people like David, cinema isn’t just celluloid it’s a way of life and it’s something that should be part of your day-to-day (Stratton tries to see at least one film every day.) A Cinematic Life is quite simply a love letter to our home-grown talent and one that will make you want to sit down and watch all of the films included here plus so many more. And with Stratton as the narrator and guide, we know that we are in for one hell of a time at the movies.

Originally published on 3 March 2017 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/film-review-david-stratton-a-cinematic-life-australia-2017-is-a-love-letter-to-the-doyen-of-australian-cinema-our-illustrious-film-industry/

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BOOK REVIEW: MESHEL LAURIE – BUDDHISM FOR BREAK-UPS

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There are many people who ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” but in the case of Meshel Laurie, it was, “What would Buddha do?” The Australian writer, comedian and radio personality was looking towards her Buddhist faith as a way of making sense of the end of her 19 year marriage. Except that there were no self-help manuals on successfully separating, not from a Buddhist standpoint, so she wrote her own and it’s a thought-provoking, relatable and compassionate read.

Laurie’s book finds the right balance between offering her own personal tale as well as the fundamental principles that Buddhists believe. She describes her separation from her ex-husband, Adrian Lewinski in some detail, whilst also offering a template for navigating through the negative emotions of fear, grief and loneliness that are synonymous with heartbreak.

If you’re sitting there dismissing this book as a bunch of hippie nonsense then think again. This book is instead a rather practical and logical collection of different chapters. Early on Laurie has us considering the fact that we will all lose somebody close to us someday: “No relationship – romantic, familial or platonic – is absolute and forever. We will all lose someone we rely on at some point in our lives. Sometimes the other person chooses to leave us, sometimes they’re taken from us tragically, and sometimes we discover that they were never ours to begin with. But one way or another, the relationship will end.”

This means that the ability to deal with the loss of a relationship is a useful skill. Another handy lesson that Laurie offers is to learn about the Buddhist principles of “impermanence” i.e. understanding that everyone and everything is constantly changing and “dependent arising” or understanding that we never actually stop evolving or changing and that this process is shaped by the conditions around us. For Meshel she simply wants us to consider and focus on the positive aspects of a break-up – even if it’s just being able to lie in a large bed and watch your favourite shows on Netflix – you should seize this opportunity for happiness and growth.

Meshel Laurie offers us some very practical pieces of advice in her second book, Buddhism for Break-ups. This combination of well-written, well-explained and considered Buddhist teachings as well as her own real-life experiences can offer some real comfort to readers in much the same was as Chicken Soup For The Soul has done. You can really get a sense that, “If Meshel can do it then perhaps I can too.”

Buddhism for Break-ups should be essential reading for anyone that finds themselves broken-hearted and open to the prospect of learning new things and becoming a better individual. Buddhism for Break-ups may not answer all of your questions but it is certainly clever and therapeutic enough to steer you in the right direction. Namaste!

Originally published on 28 February 2017 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/book-review-meshel-lauries-buddhism-for-break-ups-is-the-buddhist-dating-equivalent-of-chicken-soup-for-the-soul/

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BOOK REVIEW: DR HELENA POPOVIC – NEUROSLIMMING

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We live in an obesogenic environment. It’s a world of fast living, sedentary jobs and leisure activities, labour-saving devices, and an overabundance of cheap, accessible, energy-dense, nutrient poor, highly-processed foods. It’s also an environment where a growing majority of people are overweight or obese and those who succeed in shedding weight will often find themselves regaining it (and possibly more) in the 12 months after the fact.

NeuroSlimming looks to address some of these problems and get people to really stop and think about how and why they eat, rather than getting too hung up on what they consume.

 

To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201702/223334

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BOOK REVIEW: CAM BARBER – WHAT’S YOUR MESSAGE? PUBLIC SPEAKING WITH TWICE THE IMPACT, USING HALF THE EFFORT

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Cam Barber knows how to walk the talk. A professional public speaker and speaking coach, he has written a very engaging and useful book titled, What’s Your Message? It promises that it can allow readers to make twice the impact using half the effort. On this count it delivers thanks to its practical and logical approach that can be adapted for different audiences and situations.

In this book Barber dispels a number of myths about public speaking. Barber traces the original instructions about public speaking back to actors where there was an emphasis on rules regarding body language and performance. Barber claims that this often confused people and made them even more anxious. He also says that a natural delivery can make a speaker seem more relaxed and credible. This guide uses rich, real-life case studies about people like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Anita Roddick and more in order to prove that good public speakers are not necessarily born but they can be made with good practice and instruction.

In addition to the examples, anecdotes and case studies, Barber also describes “The Vivid Method.” It’s one he has devised himself with respect to offering guidelines and ways to prepare for public speaking. There are handy hints, tips and suggestions as well as some easy-to-follow examples and templates that can be used every day. The key point Barber makes is that the message needs to be clear, consistent and concise.

What’s Your Message has summarised a lot of complex information and elaborated on some key concepts. It also demystifies a lot of myths and offers practical insights that can be used in almost any situation. In short, What’s Your Message is a handy guide that is engaging, rational and fun and will allow readers to speak in public in a rather simple, effortless manner, which should be commended.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer thanks to a Goodreads giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27315152-what-s-your-message

BOOK REVIEW: ADAM MACDOUGALL – THE MAN PLAN

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The Man Plan is a no-nonsense health and fitness book specifically designed for the modern individual. It is targeted at men in particular and those who have become complacent about their health and confused by the inundation of messages about fad diets and fitness plans while the Western world battle a burgeoning obesity epidemic. The Man Plan is designed to be practical and offer some real solutions to some big problems that are often overlooked.

The manual is written by former NRL champion, Adam MacDougall. It includes testimonials from MacDougall’s former colleague at the Newcastle Knights, Andrew Johns, coaches Paul Roos and Craig Bellamy and three everyday people who have tried and had success with this program. This book is one that is clearly dear to MacDougall’s heart as he lost his friend Dennis to various lifestyle diseases at an early age. Also, after retiring from professional rugby league in 2011, MacDougall turned to the nutrition industry and started up the Man Shake Company.

This guide features 10 man rules for success and some are quite sensible like always reading nutrition labels, sleeping for at least seven hours a night and eating a good breakfast as well as the very practical “measure it” and “move it”. This book is for people who have let their health take a back-seat because they’re too busy or swamped by the daily grind. MacDougall says that just ten minutes of high intensity exercise using a series of primal moves which he outlines as well as eating properly are a good foundation for success and these don’t necessarily require costly visits to the gym or expensive grocery shopping at organic food stores.

The book also includes 50 recipes that are protein rich. There are options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides and snacks. This is not a guidebook filled with rigid or unrealistic dos and don’ts or expensive and inaccessible ingredients. Instead, the recipes use lots of lean meat, vegetables and fruits and even offer tasty favourites like a meat pie and hamburger among the many mouth-watering options.

The Man Plan simplifies the health and fitness message and encourages people to “man up” and be accountable for their health and well-being. This is not about impractical and unachievable solutions, it’s all rather straight-talking and rational and in some ways it argues that it could even save you money. The Man Plan is ultimately a realistic guide from someone who knows their fair share about these topics and at the same time makes it accessible to the modern and everyday man and woman.

Originally published on 3 July 2015 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/arts/books/adam-macdougalls-the-man-plan-2015

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