Melbourne film listings

15/04/2019 // by admin

New releases
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SUNSHINE ON LEITH ★★★★ (100 minutes) PG

A Hibernian ebullience descended upon me after watching a film that so lovingly adopts and adapts the tenets of the movie musical to celebrate Scottish culture. This one started as a theatre piece, but actor/director Dexter Fletcher crrt  does a fabulous job of transferring it to the open air. Edinburgh has rarely looked this good. The songs are by the Proclaimers, as two ex-squaddies return from an unhappy tour of Afghanistan in which their troop transport ran over an improvised explosive device. As in many great musicals, the story is flummery, expertly constructed to allow transitions between songs. The innovation comes from this buoyant sense of realism. Fletcher packs the film with a sense of street life. The flash mob finale is about the most fun I’ve had in a cinema this year. PBGeneral release

THE BABADOOK ★★★★ (95 minutes) M

Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent’s clever, thoroughly satisfying and neatly unsettling debut feature is about a kind of haunting – but of who or what? It’s a question that simmers throughout the film. There’s also an intimate story that unfolds, the tale of a mother and child and the strong, sometimes tormented ties that bind them. It’s a situation that reflects the experience of loss and its quietly destructive force. Essie Davis, pale and frazzled, is the mother; Noah Wiseman plays her six-year-old, Samuel. He is volatile, imaginative and affectionate, but a bit of a handful. He appears to be convinced a monster is haunting the house and constructs weapons to use against it. Both give terrific performances, conveying a tangle of love, confusion and a growing sense of threat, as the monster begins to manifest in earnest. PH Selected release

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST ★★★☆(131 minutes) M

There’s a double narrative of near-future and recent past in this seventh X-Men movie, directed by Bryan Singer: things begin a few years hence, when mutant-sensing machines known as Sentinels are dispatched to eliminate all mutants. A plan is hatched to go back in time and change the course of history: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finds himself back in the 1970s, on what seems like an impossible mission. There’s the usual X-Men mixture of spectacle and character-driven narrative, deftly handled, interspersed with moments that only the initiated will understand. A highlight is a speedy yet laid-back mutant teen, Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who is many times faster than a speeding bullet. There is a terrific scene shot from his perspective in which he dashes around ‘‘rearranging’’  a potentially deadly moment of confrontation while everyone and everything else seems frozen in time; it’s the highlight of the film. PH General release

SON OF GOD★(138 minutes) M

Directed by historical documentary specialist Christopher Spencer, crrt the latest cinematic retelling of the life of Christ recycles parts of the American TV miniseries The Bible, noted mostly for the casting of a supposed Obama lookalike as Satan. Technically competent, it’s hard to imagine how the story could be rendered any more banal.

The Son of God is played by Portuguese hearthrob Diogo Morgado. Women go weak at the knees wherever he’s near – including his mother, played by the film’s co-producer Roma Downey, as well as Mary Magdalene (Amber Rose Revah). It’s bizarre that a film presumably conceived as an act of devotion should feel so lacklustre and impersonal.

Clearly Son of God was made with a young audience in mind, but even as an educational tool it falls short. JWSelected release

MY SWEET PEPPER LAND★★★☆(90 minutes) M

Returning Kurdish war hero Baran (Korkmaz Arslan) crrt flees his mother’s matchmaking by choosing to become the police chief in a remote mountain village on the border between Iran, Iraq and Turkey. There’s a local war lord (Tarik Akreyi) who runs everything, including a lucrative smuggling business: he’s not happy to see Baran, and he’s also unimpressed by the presence of Govend (Golshifteh Farahani), a young woman who has been teaching at the school. There is a good deal at stake as these two struggle to do their work; one of the notable achievements in writer-director Hiner Saleem’s quietly surprising film is a combination of offbeat comedy and a sense of menace and danger. PHSelected release

IDA ★★★ (80 minutes) M

The writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski crrt left Poland as a teenager in the 1970s and has spent most of his career as an exile of sorts; his new film, Ida, is the first he has made in his native land. Shot in black-and-white, with little background music and less camera movement, it’s a ghostly film – a throwback to a largely defunct tradition of art cinema.

The year is 1962, and the heroine, Anna, is a novice raised in a convent (she’s played by non-professional Agata Trzebuchowska). Before taking her vows, she’s sent off to meet to her one surviving relative, Wanda, a cynical aunt (Agata Kulesza). It turns out that the family is Jewish, and Anna – now going by her original name, Ida – heads out with Wanda on a road trip to learn how her parents died in World War II.

Most of the film is devoted to this journey: the tone is solemn but the editing is brisk. JWSelected releaseThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Reynolds and Hodkinson take control

15/04/2019 // by admin

A more intense Blues coach Laurie Daley has taken the unusual step of demanding halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson address the team before each training session.
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The trio meet each morning in NSW camp to watch video and then work out a plan for that training session before Reynolds or Hodkinson speak to the team about the direction the session is headed. It comes as prop James Tamou described the transformation of Daley from laid back to becoming much more direct and hands on as he embarks on his second Origin series.

Reynolds said he was unnerved by the initial delivery but indicated the experience had helped him take on a leadership position with the team. “It is a bit different but it’s good,” Reynolds said. “At the time me and Trent were like ‘wow, this is going to be something different’. We do the video with him before it but we have to deliver it. The first day it was a bit daunting. Now we’re confident. It brings out confidence in us. You can tell they’re listening to us. All their eyes are on us. It gives me Trent and some confidence.

“You have to talk to guys who have played how many Origins and done whatever they have done in their careers. Me and Trent are coming in as our first combinations and they’re telling us to take control. When you’re put into a situation like that it is going to be a bit daunting. We have got our heads around us and in the end it has been really good. We definitely speak about it before in the sense of who is going to say what. All in all I think the boys have really bought into it.”

While roommates Reynolds and Hodkinson take the major control over the meeting, the rest of the “spine” combination of Jarryd Hayne – who didn’t complete Thursday’s training session – and Robbie Farah also speak up,  as does captain Paul Gallen.

“We sort of said to ourselves that even though it might be a bit daunting, let’s go out there and say what we need to say,” Reynolds said. “We told the boys if there is any feedback you want to give us, even negative, just tell us. We have thick skins, we can take it. That’s really good that we have that bond already that they can tell us if we’re not leading them around the park and they can tell us if we need to fix something. I think you need that in a team. You can’t just tiptoe and step on eggshells all the time.”

Daley, long considered one of the nice men of rugby league, has taken a hard-nosed approach to this series. Tamou said Daley was far more hands-on this series. “The first thing that was different from last year is that he looked each and everyone of us in the eye and just said this is what he wants,” Tamou said. “He has come more with a hard-nosed approach. I wouldn’t say tense this year, but more focused. You can see it in his eye. Everyone feels that presence about him now. Last year we had Jim Dymock and Trent Barrett around to coach us and he was just talking where he needed. This year he has taken it on board and telling blokes what he wants from them and if we aren’t going well telling them to pull their head in.

“This time last year we have gone a step up. If we’re in the middle of play he’ll stop the play and tell you how it is. Whereas last year he was in the background a little bit.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Pearce still in spotlight despite missing out

15/04/2019 // by admin

His axing from the NSW side for game one might not even be enough to prevent Mitchell Pearce from again being the most scrutinised player of the series.
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The Sydney Roosters halfback might not play a part in this year’s Origin campaign after his drunken escapade a fortnight ago, but given how bright the spotlight has shone on him for the past 11 consecutive Origin games, there’s no doubt he will continue to polarise opinion.

If NSW lose game one, the Pearce backers will come out in force and defend the 25-year-old to those who have for so long blamed him for the Blues’ misfortunes. If the Blues score an against-the-odds victory at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night, the talk might not all be about the selection masterstroke of Trent Hodkinson but rather the impact of Pearce’s omission.

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to turn your back on a success rate of three from 12 with Pearce in the No.7 jersey. But former Blues playmaker Trent Barrett, a much-maligned player during his time at St George Illawarra and NSW, believes Pearce hasn’t been to blame for the Blues’ inability to overcome the all-conquering Maroons.

“Being in that position at halfback, it’s a spot that comes under the most scrutiny,” Barrett said. “Given the situation we’re in with NSW having lost for so long, a lot of the blame comes back to the halfback, which I don’t necessarily agree with. My opinion of him hasn’t changed, I think he’s a great player.”

For the past few years it’s been Pearce, who will line up against the top-of-the-table Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, that has copped the full brunt of the frustration from a success-starved legion of NSW supporters.

The Blues aren’t expected to win game one at Suncorp Stadium without Andrew Fifita, Greg Bird and Boyd Cordner all missing, taking a lot of the pressure off the new-look halves combination of Josh Reynolds and Hodkinson. In a way it could prove a blessing in disguise for coach Laurie Daley, who will get an opportunity to see what life without Pearce could deliver for the Blues.

Pearce wasn’t dropped on form – even though he has been struggling for the Roosters – he was sacked because of his antics on the drink in town a fortnight ago.

That gives Daley a safety cushion of being able to reinstate Pearce for game two if it all goes horribly wrong north of the border on Wednesday night.

Pearce’s Roosters teammate Sam Moa admitted both Pearce and dumped five-eighth James Maloney haven’t been able to replicate the type of form that led the boys from Bondi to premiership glory last season but insists the rest of team hasn’t helped their cause.

“They’ve got our backing as a team and they’ve obviously been disappointed not making the Origin side as anyone would but they’ve responded really well,” the Kiwi international said. “We feed off them and they feed off us and we’re all trying to help each other find some form. We’ve all been lacking in certain areas. We’re hoping that they play their role and start to enjoy their footy over the next few weeks.”

Barrett insists Pearce will begin staking his claim for reinstatement at club level. “I felt for Mitchell, he’s a very good player Mitch, but given the circumstances Loz has made a decision and I fully support the halves he’s gone with to win game one,” Barrett said. “I hope people don’t compare him because we all need to get behind Trent Hodkinson and Joshy Reynolds and they will do a good job. The best thing Mitchell can do is go out and play well. I know Mitch’s attitude will be good because he’s a competitor. Mitch will bounce back, he’s certainly a terrific player in my eyes. It won’t affect him and if anything he’ll go even harder for the Roosters.”

While Pearce took the news of his axing to heart, Moa believes he’s overcome the ordeal of missing out on game one as well as being suspended for one game. “He’s back to his normal self and he’s starting to smile and crack a few jokes here and there,” Moa said. “It’s obviously been a really tough situation for him and everyone involved – his family especially. He’s got some good friends here at the club and he’s got a good family behind him, so he’s certainly turned the corner. We’re hoping for good things from Mitch and Jimmy and the rest of the team going forward. While it’s disappointing for him as an individual to not play in those big games, it’s certainly a bonus for us as the Roosters to have him and Jimmy back, they are two of our main players. It’s a really big bonus for us because they are two of our leaders and when they go well we go well.”

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Mansour, Tedesco in Raiders’ sights

15/04/2019 // by admin

Josh Mansour, James Tedesco and their manager Sam Ayoub have met with the Canberra Raiders as the club prepares to launch a big overhaul of its roster for next year.
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However, Ayoub says he hasn’t discussed financial terms, or fielded an offer from the Raiders or any other club, for the services of his in-demand backs.

It is understood the Raiders would be willing to offer off-contract Panthers winger Mansour a lucrative deal to join them next season. The in-form 23-year-old was mentioned as a possible NSW Origin bolter this year and is keen to stay at Penrith, but it is understood they are battling to find the money that would likely be available at rival clubs.

Despite this, he remains a strong chance to remain loyal to the Panthers, but there’s no shortage of rivals ready to swoop, including Canberra.

“We’ve met with them [Canberra] and had a bit of a look at the joint, but we haven’t spoken a cent to the Raiders or anybody,” Ayoub said.

“With Josh or any other player, we need to talk to their own clubs and talk to others to see what’s out there, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Canberra is desperate to bolster its squad after registering just three wins from its first 10 matches.

Outside backs are a high priority following the sackings of Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson, and the decision from fullback Anthony Milford, another Ayoub client, to honour his deal with Brisbane. The situation was compounded when rookie centre Matt Allwood announced this week he had signed a three-year deal with New Zealand Warriors.

The Raiders have expressed strong interest in Tedesco. The Tigers’ negotiations with the fullback have dragged on for weeks and he has also been linked to Canterbury. .

North Queensland Cowboys youngster Curtis Rona, who will play in Canberra against the Raiders on Sunday, is also high on their wish list.

Melbourne forward Kevin Proctor is set to make a decision on his future soon, and Canberra, St George Illawarra and the Roosters head the race for his services.

Should Canberra miss out on Tedesco, the off-contract Reece Robinson, also managed by Ayoub, could be another fullback option. Regular winger Robinson was impressive in the No.1 jersey when Dugan was given his marching orders just one game into last season.

He admitted to media earlier this year he ”sometimes feels a bit lost” on the wing, despite already scoring eight tries in a struggling side this year.

“I’ve spoken to the Raiders about Reece and I know they’re certainly not ruling him out of the equation there, [but] I’m pushing Reece’s barrow elsewhere as well,” Ayoub said. “The Raiders are talking about him in the same breath as they’re talking to other players outside their environment.”

While they often didn’t see eye-to-eye through the Milford saga, Ayoub said critics should defer judgment on Ricky Stuart until he had had a chance to build his roster.

“At Parramatta he knew the roster was right and he targeted players, the ones he got there are performing,” he said. “I know ‘Sticky’ will do the same at Canberra, he’ll target players and all of the sudden the Raiders will turn it around.

“I’ve had my differences with Sticky over players as we did with Milford, but I can see what he’s doing. He shouldn’t be judged on some of the performances now because he inherited a roster.”

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BOOKS: Living With A Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search For The Truth About Everything

15/04/2019 // by admin

HOW IT IS: Barbara Ehrenreich’s tart, cynical, intelligent voice is intact in her memoir. Picture: Jay Paul/Washington PostLiving With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search For The Truth About Everything, by Barbara Ehrenreich
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‘‘I WAS born to atheism and raised in it, by people who had derived their own atheism from a proud tradition of working-class rejection of authority in all its forms, whether vested in bosses or priests, gods or demons.’’ That sounds like the Barbara Ehrenreich we know – the political activist and author of Nickel and Dimed, the feisty champion of the working poor, the professional cynic who punctured the balloon of positive thinking in Bright-Sided.

So who, exactly, is this Barbara Ehrenreich with a new book out titled Living With a Wild God? When did a supreme deity enter the picture?

First off, don’t worry – the author’s tart, cynical, intelligent voice is intact. (A typical observation: ‘‘Sex was something that occasionally happened to women in novels, generally leading to poverty or death.’’) But where Ehrenreich has always been concerned with society and its ills, the new book is a memoir – and an unusual one, at that.

Drawing from a journal that she kept as a teenager in the 1950s and rediscovered while assembling her papers for a university library in 2001, Living With a Wild God tracks the serious young Ehrenreich’s attempts to understand what she calls ‘‘the situation’’: ‘‘What is the point of our brief existence? What are we doing here and to what end?’’

This epistemological quest takes on a greater urgency after she begins experiencing, briefly and sporadically, a kind of dissociative state during which ‘‘something peeled off the visible world, taking with it all meaning, inference, association, labels, and words’’. Later, on a road trip with friends, she has an even more ineffable experience on a predawn walk: the ‘‘world flamed into life,’’ a ‘‘blazing everywhere,’’ a ‘‘furious encounter with a living substance that was coming at me through all things at once’’.

For years Ehrenreich shared this experience with no one (‘‘If there are no words for it, then don’t say anything about it’’), but with the rediscovery of her journal, she begins an inquiry – philosophical, scientific, medical and, yes, spiritual – into this mysterious epiphany.

Suffice it to say that Ehrenreich has not joined the ranks of Sunday churchgoers, or otherwise fit herself neatly into organised religion. But this dyed-in-the-wool sceptic has allowed her thinking to evolve in ways that will surprise her readers, as much as it surprised her. Though Living With a Wild God occasionally descends into woolgathering, it is for the most part a revealing window onto a lively mind at work, always questioning, always seeking a better answer.