Recent Posts

August 31, 2015

Book Review - Helping your anxious child-A step-by-step guide for parents by Ronald M.Rapee and others

This second addition, Helping your anxious child has been updated to include the best techniques and latest research for managing childhood anxiety from separation anxiety, general anxiety, panic disorder and phobias.

Helping your child use detective thinking and stepladders to make progress. Helping your anxious child provides tools from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help your child overcome their fears with or without a therapist.
Written activities are included throughout the chapters for the child and parents to complete.

Being interested in child mental health I found it to be very directive and easy to follow. I recommend this book to anyone interested in child mental health and for parents/carers of children who suffer from some form of anxiety. Anne

August 28, 2015

Book Review—The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour

Raised first as a bird and then as a feral child, Zal Hendricks now lives in pre-9/11 New York. He struggles to be as ‘normal’ as possible all the while nurturing a longing to do what for him is as instinctive as breathing: flying. In his quest he comes across Silber, a famed illusionist, and Asiya, an artist who photographs birds in various levels of decay to give them new life. The lives of the three intermingle, with each searching for transcendence. But with the most reality shocking event in New York’s history slowly creeping closer, how do these special creatures hope to achieve fulfillment?

Khakpour combines the decade defining event with a mix of Persian Epic, Islamic mysticism, and illusionist ostentation. At times the narrative becomes a little too caught up in its own twining with laboured and self-conscious prose, as with the opening line “Exactly once upon a time”. The idiosyncratic characters generate considerable interest while the reality of life becomes ever more alien and impenetrable until the expected climax. But unlike Laguna’s The Eye of the Sheep, the strangeness does not reinforce the harshness and poignancy of reality, and the epic proportions cover rather than embody humanity.

The Last Illusion’s ambitious telling provides a distinctive yet otherworldly addition to the 9/11 genre.

August 24, 2015

Film Review - Caught Inside - Director Adam Blaiklock

A group of surfers travel to an island paradise on a ‘surfari’. One of the guests is a single beautiful girl which causes jealousy between the friends.

In Caught Inside Bull a local surf legend, snaps and crosses the line, he turns their dream vacation into a nightmare ordeal, with a fight for survival. Trapped on the boat there is nowhere to turn.

“A spectacularly unhinged lead performance by Ben Oxenbould” The Daily Telegraph

This movie has all the elements of a great thriller, with a powerful end. Anne

August 21, 2015

Film Review—Gone Girl by David Fincher

Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) returns home to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. After he calls the police they come to the conclusion that fowl play is at hand, and Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect. This is compounded by the strain the marriage has been under of late, with lies and deceit on both parts. Add to this a media frenzy that grows with scandal and the continuing mystery of what happened to his wife, and the stage is set for a thrilling, troubling mystery where the story matters more than the truth.

On the one hand the film is an exaggeration of the lengths people go to in order to keep up appearances, in particular the illusion of the perfect life and marriage. But it is also an example of a common theme in American Literature of the corrupting influence and fakery of the city in opposition to the wholesome honesty of the small town Midwest (think Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Welles’ Citizen Kane). We see numerous contrasts between the two, from the salt of the earth citizens of Missouri contrasted with the poseurs at a New York party, to Nick’s real bond with his twin sister in opposition to Amy’s competing with her “Amazing” fictional twin. Like its predecessors, Gone Girl deals with the creating of an ideal life narrative, reworked in an elaborate and effective “he said/she said” dynamic, where manipulation is simply a technique necessary in telling the best story.

In a world where image and story are all, Gone Girl is an arresting examination of the strain of keep up appearances.

August 17, 2015

Book Review - The Top Five Regrets of the Dying- A Life Transported by the Dearly Departed by Bronnie Ware

This book is filled with stories about people living in palliative care. Bronnie found herself working in this field and decided to apply lessons she learned from the dying in her own life. She then transformed that into a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. 

She explains how we can deal with these issues now, while we still have the time. In the book Bronnie simply shares what dying people have shared with her, sad at times but filled with beautiful stories of some truly amazing people.

I especially enjoyed the story about Cath in the chapter ‘Happiness is Now’. A must read for people who want to get the most out of life. 

August 14, 2015

Book Review—The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

Norton Perina is a renowned immunologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine. His fame is owed, quite simply, to unlocking the key to immortality. This comes courtesy of a rare turtle, found only on the Micronesian island of Ivu’ivu, where those who manage to reach 60 are given eternal life by consuming the turtle. But this gift has its cost, as those chosen few eventually become The Dreamers, doomed to senility and eternally wondering the island of ever fading memories. After fame, Perina adopts many children from the island. The problem however is that he is a paedophile, and this his account of his rise and downfall.

The novel owes a debt to Nabokov, first in its academic paedophile protagonist and secondly in its style being his self-indulgent confessions. Perina is nowhere near as veil a creature as Humbert, and also lacks some of his deviant charm. But his story is perhaps more fascinating, as well as more troubling tragic. The superficial semblance to Lolita is clear, with Perina even having Nabokovian pastimes (note his desire to collect insects rather than participate in his studies), but there is also the overpowering influence of memory. The whole work is Perina’s attempts to look back on his life from the confines of prison, ever deeper into the mirrorlike “sea of time” yet unable to reconnect with the life now past, just like The Dreamers he found on Ivu’ivu so many years before.

Tragic and worrying, The People in the Trees is a richly told and engrossing narrative.

August 10, 2015

Film Review - The Hunter - Director Daniel Nettheim

“Unmissable………a beautifully shot thriller” David Michael Brown, Empire Magazine.

The movie has received 14 nominations AFI (Australian Film Institute) including Best film, Best Director, Best Lead Actor and Best Actress.

Set in the Tasmanian wilderness based on Julia Leighs novel, The Hunter is a powerful psychological drama. Willem Defoe stars as Martin David a loner and expert hunter who is hired to track the last remaining Tasmanian Tiger for an unscrupulous Biotech company.

Boarding with a family who are coming to terms with the disappearance of her husband, the children's father, Defoe gets distracted from his mission. The film was beautifully shot and gripping until the end.

August 05, 2015

Film Review—Still Alice

Alice Howland (Julianne Moore), a linguistics professor at Columbia University, is forgetting words. These slips of vocabulary start to become one of many signs that she may be losing her memory, and she is eventually diagnosed with early onset familial Alzheimer's disease. As Alice comes to accept her condition she comes to realize that the ramifications will spread to everyone in her family.

The performance of Moore is fantastic. In every scene there is a little bit less Alice, a little bit less of the life, the career, the self. Her subtle, moving performance is alone worth seeing the film, and in fact the only reason to see it. The material feels as though its lifted from a Hallmark 'disease-of-the-week" TV drama. The rest of the cast is uneven with the characters being types rather than people with predictable development reserved only for a select few. And despite Moore's heart wrenching performance, the script does not fully utilize the various aspects of Alice's ever receding life, with details like her career as a linguist used more as short hand for memory loss than engrossing exploration.

Although overly sentimental and over worn material, Still Alice has a solid, moving performance that overcomes the films shortcomings.

August 04, 2015

Movie Club—Citizen Kane

This month the Movie Club will be screening one of the most celebrated and talked about films of all time: Orson Welles' Citizen Kane.

Released in 1941, the film was Welles' cinematic debut. It follows a newspaper reporter who attempts to find the meaning of 'Rosebud': the dying words of media tycoon Charles Foster Kane. In his search he consults Kane's former business manager, the diary of his deceased guardian, his second wife, and his oldest friend turned critic. Each tells of a different aspect of the larger than life Kane, but did any of them actually know him, or the identity and significance of Rosebud?

The film is celebrated for many reasons. In a time when Hollywood was driven by genre (like Film Noir, Musicals, and Westerns) and films were at the mercy of studios, writers, directors, actors and producers all having an individual impact on the final product, Welles' monument combined many genres as well as seeing the 25 year old Welles taking on all roles in the making of the film, one of the earliest and most megalomaniacal examples of auteurship.

From its non-linear, ever complicating narrative (reminiscent of early twentieth century novels like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and Absalom, Absalom!) to its superior framing and revolutionary cinematography, the film is certainly a milestone but also a rarity of the American film industry.

The screening will be held on Wednesday 12 August at Narellan Library. Not convinced of its greatness? Share your thoughts or use the discussion questions to get a debate going after the screening.

August 03, 2015

Book Review - Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily joy and lasting fulfilment by Tal Ben-Shahar Ph.D.

In this book by popular Harvard University teacher Ben-Shahar Ph.D, it combines scientific studies, research, self help and spiritual enlightenment. The course he ran at Harvard based on Positive Psychology and Happiness was Harvard’s most popular and life changing course. The book is divided into 3 parts

·         What is happiness
·         Happiness applied
·         Meditations on Happiness

Ben-Shahar has created a set of principles in Happier to follow and to apply into your daily life to achieve more happiness.

‘It is easy to see how this is the backbone of the most popular course at Harvard today’-Martin E.P Seigman author of Authentic Happiness.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on reconciling present and future and enjoyed working through the time-in exercises and meditations. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I got a lot out of it and will be rereading it again soon.