It’s 2044 and Joe crouches in a Kansas field practising his French as he waits for a man from the future to appear. He checks his pocket watch and slowly stands, gun ready. Time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but in thirty years it will be. Dangerous and unpredictable there is no dinosaur tourism, no retroactive killing of Hitler, and no confusing be-your-own-parent geneology. It’s outlawed, highly illegal and used only in secret by the mob.

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It was always going to be a hard slog for director Cate Shortland to make a film about Nazi guilt, but for me this film couldn’t have been more perfect. The holocaust was a bad thing, a very, very bad thing… but what if you didn’t think so? What if as a child you were raised to believe something, something you didn’t know any other way of thinking about, does that make you the enemy? In Lore, we are presented with a family of Nazi children whose parents have been shipped off to prison as Hitler has died and the war is ending. The children are left alone at the leadership of the eldest, Lore, and she must take her siblings on a long, arduous walk across Germany to their grandmother’s house in Hamburg.

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Calvin Weir-Fields is a genius, just don’t say that to his face. At the tender age of 19 he wrote a novel which quickly became a best-seller, establishing him as an Author Of Note™. Unfortunately for Calvin and his many fans, he hasn’t been able to replicate his creative spark in the last ten years.

Fortunately for Calvin, his therapist (Elliott Gould, otherwise known as Ross and Monica’s dad) gives him an assignment. Write something. Write something bad.

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It’s a sunny day and a group of men are laughing on the back of a truck as it rockets past what looks like endless dust and barren land. They pass a bottle around and sing about jailbait sweethearts; one man stands and attempts to pee over the side of the moving vehicle. It winds and bumps and he falls, mid-stream. It’s messy. In the midst of it sits Sal (Sam Riley), weather beaten and dirty as the rest of his companions, and being mocked about the state of his shoes.

On the Road is a book held close to many hearts both literally* and figuratively. It’s an amalgamation of escapism, harsh reality, obsession, manipulation, lust, rule-breaking, freedom, apathy, empathy and selfishness. It taps into a longing we have for a life that is free without losing grip on the pitfalls that would accompany it. Relationships decay, character flaws are not shied away from, and the protagonist is not anyone extraordinary. It speaks to us of a reckless abandon that few obtain and most dream about, or only achieve a few times in their lives. It’s life, meaning and looking for a place to belong.

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Miyazaki father and son work together to make the latest Studio Ghibli film, with Goro Miyazaki directing Hayao’s screenplay and it’s an interesting partnership considering the troubles the two had on Goro’s first feature, Tales From Earthsea.

A teenage schoolgirl, Yumi, works tirelessly to support her family after her sailor father went missing at sea in the Korean War. Her mother is off working in America and she resides in her family house with her grandmother, younger sister and brother, and some boarders. She is the buttress of the family and keeps the house running smoothly. Her determination and love of her father is evident in her morning flag raising ritual – some flag signals he taught her before he left. At school Yumi joins a band of schoolboys in a fight to keep their beloved clubhouse (a beautiful old building very worn down over time and now housing the many clubs – astrology, philosophy, newspaper etc) from the wrecking ball of local government, and here is where she meets Shun, and the romance aspect of the story begins. Continue reading

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If you are in Fed square this Wednesday and find yourself surrounded by shifty seeming characters working in teams to steal secrets and undermine each other, you don’t need to be either alert or alarmed – chances are that you are just in the middle of Spies by Night, a part of the Freeplay independent games festival program.

Freeplay has been running since 2004, and has gained a progressively larger following each year. To find out more about what to expect and the thinking behind it all, we spoke to Ben McKenzie, host of Dungeon Crawl, Can’t Stop the Serenity Melbourne 2012, and the production manager for this year’s festival.

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Lily (Analeigh Tipton) is a new girl at Seven Oaks college, a university where “an atmosphere of male barbarism still dominates”. On her first day she is taken under the wing of a well established, self-assured group of girls determined to do good and help the depressed. Led by the vague, well-intentioned and almost uncomfortably up-front Violet (Greta Gerwig) the group runs a suicide prevention centre whose philosophy is based around tap dance and free doughnuts.

Damsels in Distress treads in familiar territory – but it does it in fifties heels and with a generous helping of the awkwardly blunt. For the first five minutes my mind was racing with comparisons: Clueless, Mean Girls, every college movie ever. Heather (Carrie MacLemore) is essentially my-breasts-can-tell-when-it’s-raining Karen slightly grown up. However the further in to the film you get, the further it veers off the expected course.

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