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Booksmart is worth the bookmark

As we reach the end of this decade, it’s a prime time to look back at the films that defined the last ten years. One of the strongest running themes has been coming-of-age stories based on unique and authentic women characters. From Olive in Easy A, Nadine in The Edge of Seventeen, and the titular character of Lady Bird, these films have been some of the most heartwarming and entertaining of the 2010s. Booksmart is the latest addition to that fantastic group.

Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are in the last days of highschool before Beanie goes away to college and Amy to Botswana for a gap year. They’ve worked hard, avoided partying and lived by the rules so they can set up their future… unlike the rest of their unruly peers. Or, so it seems, until Molly learns that those same peers are all heading to esteemed colleges as well. Outraged by this injustice, Molly demands that she and Amy make the most of their time left together… and hit that big pre-graduation party.

It might be a tale as old as time, and its promotion as the ‘female Superbad’ rings true, but Booksmart quickly wins its audience over. That’s all down to the instantly likeable characters and performances of Dever and Feldstein. When the film’s humour occasionally falls flat in the first half, both actresses keep you on side the entire time – even if they’ve just hijacked a pizza van.

The story grows more powerful once the big party begins and revelations spill out between the two best friends. This dramatic edge is where the film really shines and adds some necessary gravitas. Props must also be given to the film’s honest and authentic portrayal of LGBTIQA issues – Amy is a proudly out teenager throughout the film and Booksmart treats this element with the respect it deserves.

Booksmart captures the feeling of leaving high school perfectly – exciting and surprisingly melancholy. Expect to laugh, tear up and celebrate by throwing your hat into the air.

 

4/5

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Apollo 11 makes an impact

 

Where were you on June 20, 1969? Chances are, if you’re in Boom’s demographic, you weren’t even born yet. That’s alright because Apollo 11 takes you right back to that moment in time: the very first time that man stepped on the moon. There has been a near-infinite amount of documentaries, films, books and even songs written about this historic event – but it’s safe to say none of them will eclipse this breathtaking doco anytime soon.

What makes Apollo 11 stand out is purely down to its construction. There’s no typical talking heads, pop culture artefacts or narration to be found in this film. Instead it’s almost entirely built up from archival footage and recordings as the mission was taking place. From the morning before launch, right through the voyage itself, until the astronauts arrive back home – you are there with them throughout every moment. What’s most surprising is that although we know the story, you’ll still be held in a state of suspense hoping it all works out. When the base NASA crew break out into cheers as the team reach the moon, you’ll be cheering right with them.

Now, without narration to explain exactly what’s happening, it can be easy to get lost in all the space lingo and terminology – but the stunning images and sound is enough to keep you impressed by the sheer magnitude of the mission alone. Whether that’s the enormity of the ship or watching Armstrong and Aldrin step out for the very first time, it still feels as massive now as it did then. The film will also likely inspire you to research and find out more about what you’ve just seen.

Apollo 11 is an absolute wonder – both as one of man’s greatest achievements and as a spellbinding documentary. Even if you think you’ve heard the story enough times before, this is one ride worth taking again.

4.5/5

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Jordan Peele turns up the thrill with ‘us’

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out was the rarest of films… a horror movie that drove in hordes of non-horror fans. It combined genuine thrills with a darkly funny core that won over almost everyone who saw it. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, Peele’s love of horror combined with his ongoing success with comedy partner Keegan-Michael Key provoked an impressive new voice in cinema. Of course, if you’ve done it once, expectations are high for the follow-up. Now Peele brings us… Us. Not necessarily a direct sequel to Get Out but the next in Peele’s line of ‘social thrillers’.

 

Us flashes to different points in the life of Adelaide Thomas (Lupita Nyong’o in one of her finest performances yet). We see a family vacation she took as a child including an eerie beachside house of mirrors. We see the aftermath of some mysterious trauma. Then most of the movie is spent with Adelaide as a mother. Her family has tripped out to the family’s Santa Cruz beach house. They take an unsettling trip to that same beach Adelaide had seen as a child. Back at the house later that night, am enraged group breaks in and threatens Adelaide’s family. The intruders are exact doppelgangers out for vengeance.

 

Going any further would be spoiler-ridden territory but once Us gets going it’s a non-stop thrill ride. The laughs are still prevalent, but this time Peele has evened out the comedy-horror quotient to 30/70. Get ready for the occasional jump scare and literally head-turning changes of pace because Us keeps you guessing. Which may be the only criticism of this movie. Us often feels like it’s pointing towards some deeper issue but it remains stubbornly elusive. There’s no easy answers and that’s for better or worse. You’ll likely leave the cinema carefully considering what it all means, there’s already a world of conspiracies and fan analysis online, but you may never reach it.

 

Us is a thoroughly successful follow up from Jordan Peele and proves Get Out was far from a fluke. Peele claims there’s more social thrillers to follow, we can’t wait for him to scare us again.

 

4/5

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SPLENDOUR IS… SPLENDID

The announcement all music fans across Australia have been waiting for is here…

 

Splendour In The Grass 2019 has been announced and you’ll need to start saving like yesterday!

 

The annual Queensland festival is back from July 19 to 21 at North Byron Parklands. So, start checking out those flights asap.

 

Some of the artists we’re most looking forward to?

 

Childish Gambino – Poor old Donald Glover. He was supposed to see us last year but had to cancel after breaking his foot! Now he’s finally back, maybe we’ll even see a Perth sideshow?


Tame Impala
– Kevin Parker’s back in business with Tame Impala’s brand-new track ‘Patience’. With rumours of a new record on the way, let’s hope we hear some new tunes at Splendour!

Chance The Rapper – Chance was last here for Origin 2016! He’s released some absolute bangers since then – we can’t wait to hear them live.

SZA – One of the world’s most exciting RnB acts is making her return. She never fails to deliver a killer live show.
James Blake – Releasing his latest record ‘Assume Form’ in January, those new tracks will go off at Splendour.

 

Allday + Friends – Last year saw Dune Rats bringing out a load of their mates. This time it’s Allday’s turn. Who will turn up? Surely Mallrat and Japanese Wallpaper are in with a chance?

 

The Beths – We loved their debut record ‘Future Me Hates Me’, and their gigs are as fun as their tunes.

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – It’s always a delight seeing our local bands hit the major stages. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets absolutely deserve it!

‘Mystery Oz Act’ – Who could it be? Midnight Oil is playing nearby days before. Ocean Alley is nowhere to be found on the lineup orrrr Murray Wiggle killed it with DZ Deathrays last year, let’s get those iconic skivvies on the stage!

 

Find the complete Splendour In The Grass lineup and details at splendourinthegrass.com.

 

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Everything is still awesome with Lego movie 2

Nobody could have predicted it. The Lego Movie, released way back in 2014, wasn’t the hollow marketing exercise most expected. Instead, full of social satire, sharply subversive humour and a cast list comprised of talent from this decade’s most acclaimed sitcoms, it made a surprise commercial and critical blockbuster… while still selling a brick-tonne of toys. Alright, we’ll stop with the puns before it’s too late.

 

Five years later and the long-awaited sequel has finally hit our screens. Is it as awesome as the first time around? Well…

 

The film picks up instantly from the last film, when the Lego world was invaded by Duplo aliens, and then flashes forward five years. Set in a knowingly grittier landscape strongly influenced by Mad Max: Fury Road, the gang are now living in ‘Apocalypseburg’ where everyone is gloomy except for our ever-optimistic hero Emmet (Chris Pratt). Life soon takes a turn for the worse as the original team is kidnapped and taken to the Systar System. You see, Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi plans on marrying the leader of Apocalypseburg. Of course, the only person who can save them is Emmet… but is all what it seems?

Unfortunately, if you’ve seen the original Lego Movie, it’s probably exactly how you predict. There’re a few changes including particularly enjoyable parody of Pratt’s acting career in new character Rex Dangervest (he’s a raptor training archaeologist cowboy galaxy defender… now that he’s lost the baby fat). There’re also more tunes but ultimately for The Lego Movie 2, the song remains the same. Enjoyable while playing but ultimately inconsequential. The jokes are there, the bright and busy world design is there, everything that did well the first time, but the story also follows the exact same beats. So much so you’ll swear you’ve just seen the same movie twice.

 

Maybe it’s a case of high expectations but now that the surprise is gone, The Lego Movie 2 brings too few new toys to the table. It’s a shame when the original is still so fun to play with.

 

3/5

 

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TRAILER TALK

There’s some very exciting movies coming our way…

Until then, we’ve been absolutely inundated with promising trailers!

Here’s our top five from the last month:

05. Toy Story 4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmiIUN-7qhE
Let’s begin with a controversial one. Woody, Buzz and the gang are back for a brand new adventure. Some people are very excited about this. Other people feel that Toy Story was a perfect trilogy and that there’s no need for a new one. Time will tell who will be proved right. In the trailer we meet new character Forky, the long-awaited return of a beloved character, and some ventriloquist dummies straight out of Goosebumps. Tom Hanks claims he was in tears recording the final lines for the movie… which means we’re all going to be emotional wrecks again, right? Released: June 20.

 

  1. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (Warning: Explicit Language)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

 

Quentin Tarantino is releasing his 9th film and it looks huge. Just take a look at the cast: Leonardo DiCaprio! Brad Pitt! Margot Robbie! Al Pacino! Dakota Fanning! On a more sombre note, it also features Luke Perry’s final appearance. The film is based in late 60s LA and looks like Tarantino’s answer to the legendary Boogie Nights. Capturing the highs and lows of the era (there’s a glimpse of Charles Manson) and knowing the director, this one will get people talking. Released: August 15.

 

  1. Joker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_DJEzZk2pc

 

From ‘Walk The Line’ to ‘Her’, Joaquin Phoenix is easily one of our most talented modern actors. Now it’s time to take on a role few would envy. Batman’s greatest foe has been performed by many from the good (Jack Nicholson) to the… somewhat less good (Jared Leto) but there’s only one actor the role conjures in so many minds. Our own Heath Ledger consumed the character to such an extent that it will likely never be rivalled. However, this new trailer proves that Phoenix could put his own brilliant spin on the character. Taking a much more realistic and unsettling route, Joker could be a true highlight in an otherwise tumultuous decade for DC. Released: TBA in Australia

 

  1. Stranger Things: Season 03

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

 

‘We’re not kids anymore’. It’s been two long years since the last season of Stranger Things and the kids are growing up fast. Now set in 1985, and looking very much the part, it seems again that something is not quite right in Hawkins, Indiana. Surely, you’d leave by now if you were living somewhere that crazy? Luckily for us, the gang haven’t moved and the trailer already promises many more adventures and frights to follow. We admit this isn’t actually a movie, but let’s be real, everyone’s going to binge it in one weekend (or less) and want more immediately. That counts as a movie! Released: July 04

01.. Avengers: Endgame
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcMBFSGVi1c

So this quaint, garage-budget obscure indie flick is set…. Alright alright, you don’t need analysis on this one. It’s huge. It’s exciting. It’s coming very soon. Tickets are finally on sale. Find your Marvel buddy and go go go! Released: April 24

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Tim Minchin’s Aussie return a bonza night

Tim Minchin’s quite literally back. The tour posters and theatre curtain show the man facing away on the piano. He’s living in Australia again for the first time in years. Now he’s on his first major Australian tour since playing with Australian orchestras seven years ago. One of Perth’s most highly regarded exports (forget that he was born in London, he’s ours!) has finally returned and he has some stories to tell. Welcomed with rapturous applause at Crown Theatre, it’s almost like Tim Minchin is back where he belongs.

 

That may not be entirely true, he’s done crazy well writing for musicals Matilda and Groundhog Day, but Minchin looks entirely at home on stage. He welcomed us with a warm grin and began with a double shot of Plane Goes Down and F Sharp. Both are musically complex numbers but the piano is essentially an extension of the man. He could have been a concert pianist in another life but reality seems so much more fun both for him and us. Following the intro, Minchin takes the first of many show interludes to keep the crowd laughing. Most musician banter can get tiring after a while, but equally an accomplished comedian as a musician, this is never the case for Minchin.

 

The show is a combination of what Minchin calls ‘old songs, new songs, and f**k you songs’. Both because it’s true and that it rhymes, a well enough reason if there was one. This writer was particularly overjoyed to hear the jazz-tinged classic Mitsubishi Colt (Elton John interpolation and all), Thank You God, and the biographical tale Rock N Roll Nerd.

 

It’s halfway through the show when Minchin lets out a genuinely extra-musical surprise. It would spoil the show to reveal the moment but the evening is turned on it’s head and nearly prompts an early standing ovation. Minchin revels in the moment and it’s practically worth the admission price alone.

 

In a later interlude, Minchin begins ‘So after he was charged…’ and the question many have been waiting for is answered. Will he play the Cardinal Pell song? The song that made headlines in 2016 when Pell was refusing to speak about abuse within the church. The answer is no, but Minchin’s insight into the case and the part that his song played is fascinating in itself. He then follows with the only song that could justify any appropriate response to that entire situation: The Pope Song.

 

The show concludes with a song each from Groundhog Day and Matilda. Although Matilda’s already finished a phenomenally successful run in Perth, hopefully Groundhog Day will be here before you can say ‘Punxsutawney Phil’. It’s an inspired finale to a biographical set of consistent highlights. If there’s any criticism, he just couldn’t play it all… whether you were hoping for ‘Dark Side’ or modern Aussie Christmas tribute ‘White Wine In The Sun’. Maybe next time, let’s just hope it doesn’t take Tim Minchin another seven years to come back.

 

Tim Minchin is currently performing across Australia.
Dates can be found at timminchin.com