Recent Posts

April 21, 2017

Book Review - 'Seven walks: Cape Leeuwin to Bundeena' By Tom Carment; photography by Michael Wee.


Photographer Michael Wee and painter/writer Tom Carment, have chronicled their experience of some great walks of Australia.
Combining photographs, paintings and words, the book provides anecdotal experience along with the history of the places traversed.  It is nostalgic and full of awe for the wild and varied landscapes that are distinctly Australian.
 

The book has a bit of everything: history, humour and art. You may find things you are familiar with, such as the Coast Walk in NSW, or unfamiliar things such as The Overland Track of Cradle Mountain in Tasmania.
Available here.

April 05, 2017

Movie Club - 'The Artist'

This month the Movie Club will be screening 'The Artist'. A 2011 film made in the style of the silent-era: black-and-white and no talking (in this case, minimal talking). The film traverses many genres – comedy, romance, tragedy and melodrama – to form a coherent story of George Valentin.

George is at the top of his game as a silent film actor, he is famous and in-demand. He meets Peppy at a film premiere, and again later when she begins working as a film extra. There is chemistry between the two and Peppy continues to get work as an actor. When talking movies become popular, George refuses to perform in them, insisting silent film is an art form unlike the ‘talkies’. As a consequence of this George loses his career, wife and money, while Peppy becomes a star of the new talking films.


 
The film is entertaining from the  start, with a tight opening scene of a ‘film-within-a-film’, to George and Peppy shooting a dance sequence over and over while slowly and beautifully realising they are falling in love, to George firing his chauffeur because he hasn’t paid him in a year.
 
There is no need for talking in this film, the actions speak clearly for themselves, and they are beautiful. It is clear the film is a ‘love letter to cinema’, as director Michel Hazanavicius intended. 

'The Artist' will be showing on Wednesday 12 April, 6pm sharp at Narellan Library. Tea, coffee and biscuits provided, BYO snacks are more than welcome. Stay after the screening for a short discussion about the film. See the discussion questions to get some ideas.

March 20, 2017

Book Review - 'The One Plus One' By Jojo Moyes


Jess has it tough—two jobs, an estranged husband who doesn’t contribute any child support, a stepson who gets bullied, a gifted daughter who due to financial difficulties cannot get a top education, and a guard dog that sleeps more than guards.
Ed is a successful man living in the city, recently divorced but the owner of two homes and two cars and eats out every night. After a bad business decision Ed is investigated for insider trading. To hang low while his case is sorted he retreats to his seaside home where he meets Jess – his cleaner.


 
From here Jess and Ed’s lives are thrown together out of necessity—necessary because Jess needs to get her daughter to a maths Olympiad in order to win the prize money to get her through private school, and necessary because Ed has realised how bad loneliness is, and is also in need to redeem himself from his own conscious. 
The book starts out as a dysfunctional family drama and slowly ebbs into romance a little bit before the half way point. It’s not soppy romance either, but the kind that seems natural and not forced.
Available in print or audiobook and eAudio

March 13, 2017

Book Review - 'Walks, Tracks and Trails of New South Wales' By Derrick Stone

This book provides a thorough listing of 140 of the best walks, tracks and trails in New South Wales, located in national parks, coastal parks, state forests, historic parks, conservation lands, and local government areas.


You don’t need to be an experienced hiker, the walks listed in this book are ideal for the moderately fit individual. 

Available in print or eBook

 

March 06, 2017

Movie Club - Happy-Go-Lucky


This month the Movie Club will be screening 'Happy-Go-Lucky'. Written and directed by Mike Leigh, ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ is a character-driven film that follows the protagonist, Poppy, as she experiences some ups and downs in her life. Poppy is a 30-something school teacher living in London. She is optimistic, chirpy and happy all of the time, it is not a superficial act, it is just who Poppy is. Poppy lives with her friend and co-worker, Zoe, who acts as a kind of moral compass in a film that combines extreme optimism with extreme pessimism (in the form of Scott). Scott is a narcissistic driving instructor whom Poppy seeks out for driving lessons.
The film relies on a series of events that slowly reveal the characters of Poppy and Scott. There is no major dramatic plot or action sequence, rather we meander through the everyday life of Poppy: as she goes to work and deals with a problematic student, as she converses with a homeless man, as she takes salsa classes, as she visits her younger sister Helen, as she takes driving lessons with Scott. It is through these sequential shots of Poppy’s life that we build-up a knowledge base that reveals layers of Poppy’s character. Dramatic tension is maintained throughout by the relationship between Poppy and Scott.
 
The film is interesting not only for its character study of Poppy, but also its depiction of gender and stereotypes. Most of the characters in the film are female, except for Scott and Tim. Tim is only a minor character, and Scott is presented as aggressive, impulsive and an unlikeable male. The lead character here is Poppy, the film is Poppy’s film, and there is no male counter-part that she ever needs to rely upon. To add to this, Poppy defies the norms of female happiness; rather than gaining a sense of meaning from a man, children or family, Poppy sources fulfilment from things such as work, flamenco dance classes, trampolining, and friends.
Nominated for an Academy Award, the film is funny and light, yet full of wise lessons and deep emotion.

'Happy-Go-Lucky' will be showing on Wednesday 8 March, 6pm at Narellan Library. Tea, coffee and biscuits provided, BYO snacks are more than welcome. Stay after the screening for a short discussion about the film.