Steve Jobs (2015) Film Review

We all know who Steve Jobs was – that guy who stood up in front of crowds showing his new exciting products – iPhone, iPad, iPod – to masses of engineers and computer geeks. Pretty much all else I know of him was that he started Apple with Steve Wozniak and was fired by Apple later, and then later was back at Apple. This film tells of some of those early days – and of a daughter that apparently he didn’t believe was his.

When the music is so dominant, it makes whole sequences of the film sound like a trailer, and that can be really off putting. In fact, at times I started to drift off because not only was the music sounding like an ad, but the sequence on the film was actually advertising a product – Mac computers, and it is my automatic reaction from years of watching television to drift off during the ad breaks. It’s an interesting film, but not amazing. Perhaps to someone with more interest in the man, it would have been. But for me? Nup.

Steve Jobs was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Michael Fasbender) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Kate Winslet).

 

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Amy (2015) Film Review

Amy Winehouse. What a voice. What a talent. What a tragedy. I remember being blown away by her Black to Black album, and then she became this huge joke – a druggie who fought against the paparazzi and gave terrible performances – and then she was gone. And it was awful because she was young and watching this documentary, you see how little chance she had. Bad advisers who were after their own wealth creation, who wanted to milk her for everything she had and didn’t take care of her. It is such a tough film to watch partly because you know what happens to her, and the downward spiral is painful. But also because you know that so many people treated her badly and those who really wanted to save her didn’t have a hope. But oh! The songs! See it.

Amy won an Oscar and a BAFTA for Best Documentary, Feature, and was nominated for Best British Film.

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The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke – Book Review

Maxine Beneba Clarke was born in Australia to parents from a distant background of Africa, whose ancestors were taken as slaves, ended up in the Caribbean, then more recently in, the UK and finally, back to her parents here in Australia. Judging from the stories that she tells of growing up in suburban Sydney, she’s a bit younger than me, and that makes these stories even worse for me. The way she was treated, for being a girl of colour, in a very white society. I hated these stories, and I can only hope that I was never part of the nasty racism, the casual comments or the lack of understanding that anyone not caucasian has been through. And it’s not over. This is not a thing of the 80s or 90s, it still happens. This is an important memoir, an important book that we should read, and I can only hope it will make society more compassionate.

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The Media and the Massacre: Port Arthur 1996-2016 by Sonya Voumard – Book Review

This is not at all the type of book I read – I have very little interest in the Port Arthur Massacre or looking into the killer’s background of mother. I read this because it was on the Stellar Prize long list and I have put my mind to reading all the books that got there – partly to be contributing a bit to the pocket of contemporary female authors, and partly because I do love me a list. Anyhow, I thought that this was going to be a look at the way the media in general treated the massacre. Instead, it was essentially a critique of another book – Born or Bred by Robert Wainwright and Paola Totaro – a book which used parts of Martin Bryant’s mother’s journals allegedly without her permission.

I suspect that this type of enquiry is important – that a book which has been written with questionable ethics should be challenged and there should be some accountability. I just don’t think that I needed to read a whole book about it. It’s possibly very good academic writing, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children vs Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Jacob is sixteen, in high school and hating work part-time in his family’s business. He loves his grandfather and all the tall tales that he told of an island with children with amazing powers – floating and being invisible and all sorts. As Jacob has grown, he realises that these are just stories about monsters from a man who fled the Nazis in World War Two. But when his grandfather passes away, Jacob realises that he must investigate this island find out the truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I really like the way the author has tied the images in to the narrative and created a strange world – even a lot of parts of the real world are strange and mysterious. I think the audience for this book is probably hard to nail down – if you go too young, it may provoke nightmare material, but it’s not as gory and intense as recent popular YA novels such as the Hunger Games or the like. I definitely want to read on, to more adventures of these strange characters.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016) Film Review

After his grandfather’s death, Jacob (Asa Butterfield) and his father Frank (Chris O’Dowd) head to Wales to check out the island that may hold some secrets of his grandfather’s past – and he finds the time loop that contains Miss Peregrine and her home.

After loving the book, I was concerned about the film. But special effects have meant that it has been able to keep the spirit of the book beautifully. It was interesting to see how much the end was changed – unless I remember the end of the book incorrectly, it was extremely different. But I really liked the way the film used the technology to really bring to life the bad guys as well as the talents of the Peculiar Children.

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Nerve (2016) Film Review

There’s a new internet game sweeping New York City: Nerve. You can join as a player and complete dares for cash, or you can be a watcher and follow your favourite players as they perform increasingly dangerous dares. After an altercation with her mate, Sydney (Emily Meade), Vee (Emma Roberts) decides to join as a player. Before she knows it, she’s met up with Ian (Dave Franco) and they are racing through the city together. But is everything as it seems?

This is a terrible film, but it is actually an awesome film. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s terrible because it kind of doesn’t hit the marks it needed to; I feel like it was cut back to be less intense to hit a younger rating and younger market, but it should have gone harder. But it is an awesome film because, even though I was watching it and thinking that it should be more intense, my stomach was squirming and I was nervous – I wanted to yell at the screen because I was getting too stressed. I mean, I’ve never been great with suspense films, but this is a good one that isn’t that removed from what life could really be.

 

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Keeping Up With the Jonses (2016) Film Review

It’s the suburbs somewhere in the US. Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis) works in HR for a big firm. He and his wife, Karen (Isla Fisher) have just sent their son off to summer camp when a new couple move into their cul-de-sac – cool travel writer Tim Jones (Jon Hamm) and his stunning wife Natalie (Gal Gadot). Karen becomes suspicious and well she should, because they are spies – but are they spies for good or for bad? And are the suburbs their toughest challenge yet?

Wanna see a good spy movie about spies trying to live normal lives? Watch True Lies (1994) or Mr and Mrs Smith (2005). There are plenty of good and funny moments in this, and it is a really top-notch cast, but it’s just not good enough. It felt a little like it could decide if it was going to be a daggy slapstick or a clever and witty affair and tried for both, missing both by a fair whack.

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