Monday, 14 August 2017

Dr Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training

Published at Digitally Downloaded.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Train to Busan

First, let me praise Train to Busan for being an ambitious shoot, not doubt about it. Given it is a Korean film, and not a product of the Hollywood factory, that is well worth noting. There is more to it, though.
This horror movie tells of an infection that spreads throughout Korea and turns people into vampire like zombies (exact definitions aside, you get the point; if one seeks to live, one should avoid these living dead). Salvation lies at Busan, hence the heroes of this movie take a fast train (that is, the exact opposite of a Melbourne train) from the capital Seoul towards salvation. But will they make it?
On course are very blatant statements on what's important in life and who it is that ruins things for the rest / all of us. I'll put it this way, Donald Trump will not like this movie.
I will also note Busan is at Korea’s southern tip. Heading to its safety from Seoul probably holds more meaning to Korean viewers than it does for me, especially given tensions between north and south.
Overall: Look, we've seen many such movies already; the main novelty lies with the Korean nature of this movie and the glimpse it gives us at Korean culture. For now, though, I will settle with a score of 3 out of 5 crabs.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Hacksaw Ridge

I will admit it, I used to love Mel Gibson, both as actor and director. I mean, Mad Max. As for Braveheart, even though I see the nasty streak it carries, I still think it's a classic. But clearly, not everything (or, in this case, everybody) ages like good wine, and Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge is a fine example.
Story wise, this WW2 war movie is based on the authentic tale of an American pacifist who still wanted to join the war effort despite his religious based inclinations of no harm; his solution was to serve as medic. And good on him, he was obviously a hero through and through IRL. The problem is not the character or its story, the problem is Gibson.
Director Gibson will not skip an opportunity to shove us his views on religion, and by extension sex. Gibson is not shy in portraying the Japanese as nothing more than a prop that's there to serve for nothing but die at American hands (often literally). And Gibson likes his blood.
If you seek yourself some right wing religious propaganda that is lacking any shred of subtlety, look no further than Hacksaw Ridge.
Overall: 2 out of 5 crabs.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Manhattan Night

Film noir is a well established genre that doesn't seem to be getting much of a break these past few decades. Nor does it get that break off Manhattan Night, a modern day film noir attempt about an endangered newspaper journalist (Adrien Brody) whose life destabilises when he stumbles upon a femme fatale.
It is the latter than attracted me to this film in the form of Yvonne Strahovski, an actress I will always remember as Mass Effect's Miranda as well as Chuck's kickass agent Sarah Walker. Alas, both movie and Strahovski are hampered a rather poor plot.
Overall: 2.5 out of 5 crabs.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Keeping Room

The Keeping Room is, to put it bluntly, a movie about women trying to get by in an environment plagued by predatory males. It does what it does to deliver its point, as in, it sets itself during the American civil war and tells the story of three southerner women (two white, one black) as they try to survive in an environment now deprived of all its men (because the latter went to wage war).
They get along, more or less. That is, until the men from the north start making their way towards their area as they are winning the war.
When push comes to shove, racial lines blur and the black woman almost becomes an equal. But gender lines do not blur, and the only way our women can make it out alive is if they turn into men.
Overall: Not the best drama ever, but it certainly delivers on its core point. 3 out of 5 crabs.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Love Witch

A deliberately eccentric, deliberately B movie style in acting and looks, deliberately made to look like it is set in the seventies but clearly not. The Love Witch is a colorful examination of male to female relationships as viewed from the female side, for a change (and what a novelty this is for American cinema!).
Story wise, this fantastic tale of witchcraft involves a love witch that cannot get men (in all the senses that apply to that verb). They either fail her when she loves them or fail when her love is too strong. What could a woman do?
Overall: 3 out of 5 crabs.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Paper House by Anna Spargo-Ryan

It should be fairly obvious to anyone who knows me that books such as The Paper House are not yours truly's run of the mill material. For a start, it is fiction; and further, it is not science fiction, which happens to be my main route down the dark alley of non-non-fiction.
So, why Paper House? It's because I know the author, Anna Spargo-Ryan, from Twitter. And it's because she happens to be a fellow resident of Melbourne. And, as it happens (not that I knew it in advance), The Paper House is as Melbourne a book as a book can be. But just in case you are still worried, I will add that Spargo-Ryan is alright: she's a gamer, and she even got the Switch the day it came out just so she could play Breath of the Wild. Case closed.
The Paper House's hero is the classic anti hero. A modern day Melbourne woman, happily married, is expecting a child. So much so that our family of two moves out of the lively inner city to the quiet outer suburbs, where they can afford a home fit for a family. Life takes the odd turn, though, and our hero goes through the stillbirth of her child pretty close to the end of its due term. Not surprisingly, she is devastated by the experience; however, her particular case seems to carry that devastation an extra notch or two.
At which point our book's mechanics kick into action. For every chapter on the latest in the story of the hero coming to terms with her loss, we have a shorter chapter from her childhood. Together, the tales of past and present converge to portray the image of a dysfunctional family haunted by a severe case of mental illness in their midst. As you can imagine, the chemistry of past and present tale builds up as the book goes.
The beauty of The Paper House lies in not that much happening, story wise, while still filling a book up. Credit goes to Spargo-Ryan for rich language and tons of little details that do an excellent job in the suspension of disbelief department. To give but one example, the hero's accounting of hospital parking costs stroke a chord with this reader. I would argue that the ability to create so much depth with so little is testimony of great writing.
Overall: I would say The Paper House proved an excellent break from my usual reading material, one that was both enjoyable and educational. If you seek a Melbourne centred book and do not mind a couple of hundred pages filled with sadness, do give this book and this author a go. 4 out of 5 crabs from me.