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August 02, 2017

Film Review - 'Touch of Evil'

Based on a novel titled, ‘Badge of Evil’, the film is an intense story of police corruption on the border of Mexico and America. Narcotics officer Mike Vargas is drawn into the case of a car bombing that occurs on the border. Working with US police officer Hank Quinlan, Vargas begins to suspect the officer of planting fake evidence. Vargas follows this trail of corruption to the displeasure of Hank. During this time, a Mexican crime syndicate are planning an attack on Vargas’ new wife who he thinks is safely hidden away in a hotel on the US side of the border.

The film is visual and use of dramatic suspense creates an intense aura throughout. However, it seems Vargas’ wife Susan, is sometimes forgotten in the film. She is pushed into a hotel and terrorised by local gang members, yet much of this and its effect on her character is ignored.

‘A Touch of Evil’ was re-released in 1998 to reflect the director’s (Orson Welles) original version of the film. The initial 1958 release had been substantially edited by film studio Universal. The 1998 edition was re-edited based on notes written by Welles.
The Movie Club will be screening ‘A Touch of Evil’ on Wednesday 9 August, 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.

July 10, 2017

Film Review - 'Little Miss Sunshine'

Part comedy, part road film, part black comedy, part drama, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ is a film that covers all the bases. It all starts with Olive Hoover, a young girl obsessed with beauty pageants. In the opening scene Olive is seen staring at the television, watching a pageant. We are then shown the rest of the Hoover family: her unsuccessful motivational speaker dad, her overwhelmed mum, junkie grandad, depressed Uncle, and her mute brother Dwayne. This opening scene around the dinner table clearly defines the family dynamic and sets the tone for the rest of the film.

The entire family embarks on a road trip to get Olive to a beauty pageant in time to compete. Along the way a series of events unfold, painfully for the characters but entertaining and funny for the audience.

What makes this film so great is the acting; all the actors know their characters and you see everything on their faces, the love and the pain.
‘Little Miss Sunshine’ won two Academy Awards for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ and ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for Alan Arkin.

The Movie Club will be screening 'Little Miss Sunshine' on Wednesday 12 July, 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.

June 28, 2017

Book Review: 'Left of the Bang', By Claire Lowdon

Published in 2015, ‘Left of the Bang’ is a contemporary novel about the lives of young adults living in London. Told in third person narration, the story focuses on Tamsin and her relationship with her boyfriend Callum. Surrounding this central relationship is a series of sub-plots that provides a thorough look at the complexities of a generation. Big themes are tackled in this book: sexuality, adultery, modern family life, war in a contemporary setting.

Tamsin is not the most likeable character, in fact she’s quite unlikeable; what keeps you hooked is the rawness of the writing. There is no censorship to what these characters say and do, and it is refreshing to see such an extremely honest portrayal, for better or for worse.
Left of the bang is a military term that describes the lead-up to an explosion. This idea is reminiscent in the novel as events slowly reveal themselves and reveal what is to come.

Reserve a copy here.

June 08, 2017

Movie Club - 'Nebraska'

Set in the American mid-west, Woody is an alcoholic retiree who thinks he has won $1 million dollars in a sweepstakes prize. Woody becomes convinced he must walk from Montana to Nebraska to collect his winnings in person. He is slow and fragile; only with the help of his nice-guy son, David, does he manage to begin his journey.

Along the way Woody and David visit relatives. The characters which turn up here (including Woody’s wife and other son Ross, as well as two cousins) seem simple, however, as the film develops it is evident there is a complex undercurrent occurring. Woody’s extended family believes he has actually won a million dollars. It is through these peripheral characters that sit on the edge of Woody’s life that we piece together the man Woody once was.
Nominated for six Academy Awards and a Palme d’Or, Nebraska is a film that ultimately instils a quiet sense of greatness through character and a strong sense of place. The Midwest is highlighted for its bleak bareness and it is beautiful. Characters are revealed slowly, so that by the end of the film we know them as people in our own lives.

The Movie Club will be screening 'Nebraska' on Wednesday 14 June, 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.

May 18, 2017

Book Review: 'Sitting still like a frog: mindfulness exercises for kids (and their parents)' By Eline Snel.

Mindfulness is about being present; it focuses on breathing, relaxing, paying attention. In this sense, mindfulness is becoming a powerful tool to support mental health. This book discusses a variety of ways that mindfulness benefits kids and their parents, as well as providing short and easy activities to help parents guide and assist children.  

Author, Eline Snel, is a therapist that has spent the last 20 years working on mindfulness programs for kids. Snel also draws upon personal experiences raising her own children, and how mindfulness worked for her situation. In this way, the book is very open and sharing, providing personal experiences that support the exercises.

The book explains what mindfulness is in an easy to understand tone. The strategies provided will help kids to learn to be more calm and focused, fall asleep, manage anger and other difficult feelings, and become more aware of what’s going on around them. There is a CD in the book that will help to complete the exercises.  
Reserve a copy here.