Bite Size: Life


It’s life Jim, but not as we know it….

It’s pretty clear from the first five minutes what Life is trying to be, a strange kind of hybrid of Alien and Gravity, with an unhealthy dose of John Carpenters’ The Thing thrown in to liven things up. They say in space no-one hears you scream, but Life bucks this trend and boy do we get a lot of screaming.

The plot, for what it’s worth, centres around a group of ‘scientists’ (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Hiroyuki Sanada amongst others) on board the International Space Station, tasked with catching (quite literally), a returning probe containing soil samples from Mars. In the samples, they discover the first incontrovertible proof of life on Mars, which after some poking and prodding, they find is none too friendly. Carnage ensues. (more…)

Berlin Syndrome

Berlin Syndrome

Your world on your back

Cate Shortland, the Australian director of the chillingly captivating Berlin Syndrome, shows us the darker side of one of the key Australian rites of passage – backpacking across Europe. It may well give you cause to reconsider what you plan to do on your gap year.

We meet our young Australian backpacker, Clare (Teresa Palmer), arriving in Berlin, where she meets Andi (Max Riemelt), a German English teacher, and the two embark on a passionate and obsessive relationship. Both express their desire for the experience not to end, though Andi takes this to the extreme when Clare wakes up one morning and finds she is unable to leave the apartment. (more…)

Film School 2.0: Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

Welcome back to lesson two of Film School 2.0, a semi-regular feature chronicling the film education of my two aspiring film nerds: Miss J (7) and Miss S (10).  More details about the girls can be found in their introductions post.

We are loosely following the superb 101 Movies to Watch Before You Grow Up, but also branch out to cover some of the newer releases that capture their imagination.  How it works is that we watch a film together, after which I ask them a few questions about what they have seen.  The conversations range from a couple of minutes to half hour discussions, so the answers below tend to be more a summary of their overall thoughts, rather than a full transcript, as that would often run for pages and pages.

In this lesson, Miss S (10) watched Hidden Figures. (more…)

Film School 2.0: Introductions

Film School 2.0

The prescribed text for Film School

Welcome to Film School 2.0, a regular feature which aims to chronicle the film education of my two girls Miss S (10) and Miss J (7).

They are pretty experienced little cinephiles, regular cinema patrons and most weekends you’ll find us on the couch for ‘#Friday (or Saturday) Night Film Club’, working our way through the excellent ‘101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up’. So far we have almost half of them ticked off, though I am not sure how I am supposed to get either of them interested in seeing #98 Lincoln. (more…)

Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones

Childhood dreams, small town secrets

Jasper Jones director Rachel Perkins’ engrossing and enthralling adaptation of Craig Silvey’s iconic Australian coming of age novel, takes us back to a time when childhood dreams were all about courage and adventures. It was about discovering the unknown, keeping secrets and making bonds for life.

Adventures are in short supply in 1960s Corrigan, though Charlie Bucktin (Levi Miller) escapes the town by devouring the prose of Mark Twain and engaging in heated superhero arguments with his best friend, Jeffery Lu (Kevin Long). One night Charlie’s dreams are shattered by a midnight tap on the window from Corrigan outcast, Jasper Jones (Aaron L. McGrath), who leads Charlie into the woods where the body of Jasper’s girlfriend Laura is hanging lifeless from a tree.

Jasper is panicking, convinced that his reputation and mixed-race will see him convicted of the crime which he screams he didn’t do. Charlie believes him and agrees to help him track down the real culprit. (more…)