Jasper J-owns the Big Screen

Directed by Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue DaeRedfern Now) and based on the 2009 novel by Craig Silvey, Jasper Jones is a movie about fleeting innocence, first love … and institutionalised racism in small Australian country towns.

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The movie opens on two main characters, schoolboys Charlie Bucktin (Levi Miller) and Jeffrey Lu (Kevin Long) engaged in what is becoming an increasingly prominent debate in popular culture: is Superman the best comic book hero, or is it Batman. While Jeffrey defends Superman based on his inherent supernatural powers, Charlie maintains that it is Batman’s courage in the face of his own fallibility which makes him the superior character. It is this theme, of courage in the face of adversity, shared in a light-hearted and juvenile tone, which permeates the movie and inspires the events that follow.

When Jasper Jones knocks on Charlie Bucktin’s window that night, shows him the dead body of his girlfriend Laura Wishart and begs for his help to clear his name, Charlie has a choice to make: who does he trust, and can he summon the courage to find the truth about the death of his first love’s sister.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.” – Mark Twain

Throughout the movie, Charlie encounters several examples of racism in Corrigan – some of which is explained by Australia’s concurrent involvement in the Vietnam War as the movie is set in 1969. Tension between his best friend’s family, the Vietnamese-born Lu’s, and members of the community are conveyed through hesitation to accept a gifted Jeffrey to their cricket team as well as several violent xenophobic outbursts during the film. However these issues act as accessory to the main plot to the movie: the titular character, the half-caste Jasper Jones’ struggle with prejudice when Laura Wishart goes missing and he is the leading suspect simply because “he always is”. It is Aaron McGrath‘s genuinely emotional portrayal of the tormented Jasper Jones, in addition to the commentary on institutionalised racism that makes this a particularly strong message film, but despite this, the A-story of sleuthing teens solving a mystery still stands strong.

When Charlie first encounters Jasper Jones, our main character is simply an introverted adolescent, dealing simultaneously with feelings of exclusion and suffocation, the trademark symptoms of being a big fish in a small-town pond. After his interaction with Jasper however, Charlie not only gains a confidante, but also a task and his purpose is brought into proper focus. Levi Miller‘s performance as the awkward yet determined Charlie was the stand-out for me in this film. The ability to combine juvenile confusion with emotion and confidence was a large feat for such a young actor.

Hugo Weaving is almost physically unrecognisable as Charlie and Jasper’s main suspect, the reclusive Mad Jack Lionel, but provides an emotionally charged performance that I’d really like to spoil by comparing it, right down to dialogue, to another fictional character, but I won’t. The cast also includes the consistently flexible Toni Collette as the stifled and frustrated mother, and Dan Wyllie who gave yet another performing confirming my belief that he is currently topping my favourite Australian actors list – Puberty Blues, anyone – played the socially cognizant and calm father. Kevin Long provided the much needed comic relief and goofy fun throughout an increasingly dark movie, and Angourie Rice brings stunning maturity mixed with girlish charm, and is a choice which actually has me interested in Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is a phrase I never thought I’d type.

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For me, this period film is an aesthetically nostalgic call-back to country life. The imagery and colouration switches with tone, where bright blues and yellows reflect happy, jovial scenes between friends, while all the mystery, tension and most overt injustices happen under cover of darkness.

If I had one complaint about Jasper Jones as a film, it would be several poorly executed plot devices throughout the film, coupled with a particularly abrupt ending. Presumably this is to suggest the impossibility of a completely satisfying outcome for certain characters, but combined these inconclusive scenes resulted in a confusing conclusion to the film.

Technically brilliant and emotionally charged, the talented cast and dedicated production team of Rachel PerkinsCraig Silvey and Mark Wereham with sound/editing by Antony Partos and Veronika Jenet have brought this best-selling novel to the screen in spectacular fashion. An Australian masterpiece, this film is both haunting and sweet, a coming of age story with both courage and charm.

Jasper Jones is out in cinemas today, March 2, 2017.

x Casey

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Why don’t you come on over, Valerie?

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I’m a Glee fan, that’s a fact I’ve shared with you all here before. So when the most recent Perth Fringe show I saw contained some variation on “my songs have now been butchered on shows like Glee“, well, it probably wasn’t the best time to bring up the fact that I’d been listening to the Glee cover of Valerie by Amy Winehouse in the car on the way to the show.

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In my defence, I’m a huge fan of shows that make difficult content more available, the ones that share music or film I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise, and do so in a relatable, fun and inspiring way. And like Glee, that is what Ashleigh Kreveld has done with Frankly Winehouse.

I promise I’m done mentioning Glee now.

A self described “all out cabaret”, Frankly Winehouse is a heartfelt and powerful tribute to the late Amy Winehouse, featuring music, stories and a completely unique experience from Kreveld herself – from the iconic beehive hair and make-up, right down to the characteristic sass of Winehouse herself.

Accompanied by a single pianist, it is Kreveld’s voice and passion that genuinely fill the stage and the room. True to her inspiration, Kreveld’s singing voice is powerful, masterfully covering the jazz stylings of Amy Winehouse, while simultaneously providing a raw and emotional biography of the troubled artist, including idiosyncratic quips and repartee with the audience.

As young men are wont to do, however, the usual accompanying pianist obtained a sports related injury mere hours before showtime, but an impromptu replacement allowed the show to go on. With admirable urgency and composure under pressure, this young artist showed not only artistic expertise, but also confidence in precarious circumstances – not assisted in the least by a particularly hot summer evening in a small and crowded venue.

The two artists combined to create an impressive and devastatingly sincere portrayal of Amy Winehouse, a performance which was both comedic and moving. One of the most impressive Fringe performances I have seen to date, I was honestly in sympathetic tears until finally at the end we got to SING ALONG TO VALERIE!

That’s not TECHNICALLY a Glee reference, it’s just me bringing this review full circle.

Unfortunately Frankly Winehouse‘s runs in both Perth and Adelaide are over for the year, but tickets for Melbourne shows are available here, and if you have an opportunity to future to see this show or anything else of Kreveld’s, I would particularly recommend it.

x Casey

I want my Baby [Got] Back, Baby [Got] Back, Baby [Got] Back…

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I once heard someone quote that “all comedy is just everyone vying for the best dick joke” but a fortnight ago I watched a show focused on butts and now I have even more reason to believe fart jokes may actually be the road to world peace.

After sell-out seasons in 2015 & 2016, an all-new Baby Got Back returned to Perth Fringe to reprise their theatrical and comedic tribute to all things ass and where butts were promised, butts were delivered. Through the inclusion of multimedia presentation, dance, dramatic performance and even MAGIC, this all female cast isn’t afraid to utilise all of their ass-ets to keep their audience in both awe and side-splitting laughter for a full 60 minutes.

With several cogent references to the current state of opinion in regards to respect for all women and their bodies – size, shape or colour – this show is both entertaining and poignant. While the most enjoyable parts might be the humour and wild talent on stage, this inherently accepting and feminist show is a subtle reminder that while women have the right to exhibit everything they have, it’s worth remembering that while everything they have is on display for you to enjoy, it is not yours to touch or take photos of for later.

While ‘confronting’ is not often a category of shows I choose during Fringe, I’m glad I made this inspiring and adventurous deviation. The cast’s enthusiasm, pride, confidence and above all, talent left me feeling both entertained and empowered. The future is indeed female, and we as women can certainly stand to be a little nastier.

The run for Baby Got Back has ended for Perth unfortunately, but the cast are now headed to Adelaide’s Fringe festival, beginning on February 28th, and tickets and further information are available here.

Baby Got Back is was among the best shows I saw during Fringe 2017, and I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to be entertained, enlightened, or even appropriately and encouragingly aroused.

The show is strictly 18+ however, so remember that when you’re looking for a companion – take your mum, not your kids.

Anna Kendrick is a “Scrappy Little Nobody”

Are you looking for audiobooks? Check out Audible.com for your first month free!

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Scrappy Little Nobody
Anna Kendrick
Published: November 15, 2016 by Touchstone & Simon and Schuster Audio
Audiobook available at Audible.com

For fans of: Humour, Autobiography, Female Authors

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

“[I had resolved to] keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy. It. Wants. Out.”


Firstly I have to straight up apologise to Anna. I used this audiobook as a distraction during my long training runs in the last two weeks. This basically blasphemes the integrity of any and most themes in this memoir, but I have no regrets. To recompense I’ll eat pop-tarts in my sweatpants while I compile this review.

@bestcascenario – Jan 20
I have just torn through @AnnaKendrick47’s Scrappy Little Nobody in two days and like, I think I have all the symptoms of “actor”…

Anna Kendrick first appeared on widespread screen as snarky, brutally honest Jessica, the “best friend” of Kristen Stewart’s Bella in the Twilight series, and since then she has remarkably retained that persona as her career has developed, which has of course only cemented her reputation as loveable and relatable in the media. From stories of a homely apartment in LA to being praised by George Clooney during filming for Up in the Air, in her first memoir she shares stories of Hollywood awkwardness and her fear of being discovered as an impostor, basically proving she’s the same as the rest of us – just, wildly talented and popular and lucky of course.

Scrappy Little Nobody is part of a new genre of memoir, where the author who is most often a comedian or actor, provides humorous essays as opposed to autobiographical reflective texts. The most common arguments against these compilations are confusion about whether the book is premature or the implication that they are marketing tools to capitalise on a performer’s recent success. However, I only outline these arguments in the spirit of fairness, as I’ve found this genre profoundly inspirational over the past few months. I recommend this style of memoir to anyone beginning an adult life of their own, artistic or not and Scrappy Little Nobody is no different to my other favourites such as Yes Please by Amy Poehler, or Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling.

Anna Kendrick’s voice only enhances the personal stories, and as with past memoirs I’ve enjoyed, the audiobook version is how I would recommend consuming this content. Kendrick is honest with herself, the reader and more often than not honest with characters from her life she has disagreed with, presenting arguments against misogyny, condescension and just plain bad manners, but as with most arguments about difficult topics, they are human and more forceful when heard in the writer’s voice. In addition, recalling her struggles as an actress who has to wear heels when she’d rather be eating tacos in sweatpants, makes this audiobook like listening to a very famous friend outline the largest of first-world problems in a way that is humanising while still convincing you its a dream you’d like to accomplish. It’s an inspirational tale of hardwork, but it’s also FUNNY, and silly and snarky and I’m ready for Anna Kendrick to be my best friend now. I really apologise for the listening while running thing, I promise it’s just a New Years Resolution, Anna!

If you have someone in your life who is currently making a jump, or following their dreams, particularly young female listeners or readers, I’d recommend this as a gift, but I would also recommend this for anyone who’s a little lost or scared and needs the motivation to jump, as this warming and human recollection of hardwork and life shows that if one normal, if attention-seeking, human being can do it, anyone can.

Also did I mention it’s fucking funny? Because it’s fucking funny.

“The crazy. It wants out!”

x Casey

Introducing: The Roosevelt Readers Club

The Roosevelt Readers Club was created as a component of The 1001 Project, and is therefore the junction between loving reading and the outdoors, just as Teddy Roosevelt himself was a fan of both. We meet once a month to discuss a book from the list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, and we pick a new location in Perth to do so and eat food.

This month, just as a rookie would do, the book I chose was The Children’s Book by AS Byatt and we visited Aliment in West Leederville.


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The Novel: The Children’s Book, by AS Byatt

A spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, from the Booker Prize–winning author of Possession, that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centres around a famous children’s book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves.

When Olive Wellwood’s oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museum—a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive’s magical tales—she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends.

But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house—and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children—conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. As these lives—of adults and children alike—unfold, lies are revealed, hearts are broken, and the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges. But their personal struggles, their hidden desires, will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces, as the tides turn across Europe and a golden era comes to an end.

x Goodreads

At a substantial 617 pages, The Children’s Book was a mistake to choose for a book club. After initially planning to meet three weeks ago, our meetup date was changed twice to accommodate the length and difficulty of the novel. Even then only one attendee had read the entire book, and I still had 60 pages to go. It’s not the easiest novel to digest either – with large blocks of historical context and almost as many characters as Game of Thrones, it’s not an ideal choice if you’re interested in light reading and many of the book club members were feeling the struggle by the opening scenes.

That said, in my opinion (because I run this blog and the book club), the novel is wonderful. It’s clearly a novel about artists, by an artist. With heady descriptions, thoroughly researched background and literary allusions, it’s a very difficult but rewarding read that unlike many novels succeeds in absorbing you completely in the story. It’s not fluffy, and many of the themes are confronting – sexual coercion, incest, suicide and mental illness to name a few – which is unsettling, but the story is immersive and kept me constantly interested and invested.

Don’t take my word for it though: while several members of the group agreed it was difficult to continue after Part I, those who continued reading expressed the same sentiments about characters and descriptive text, and most agreed to needing to know how the story ended.


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The Cafe: Aliment Cafe, West Leederville

Aliment Cafe on Instagram
Cafe
Location: 170 Railway Parade, West Leederville
Cuisine: Cafe; Breakfast Bar; Locally Produced Beverages
Price Range: $18 – $30

Having extra people with you to try a cafe is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand you can steal Clinton’s brownie stuffed pancakes to photograph (see above), but on the other hand Clinton has brownie stuffed pancakes when you chose the mushroom hash because yesterday you sugar crashed after an Iced Chocolate, but now you have food envy.

Aliment is a small but cosy restaurant along the main street in West Leederville, that was made pleasantly quite by roadworks along Railway Parade. With a wide range of foods and local artisan beverages, the only things missing were options for vegans, which was a condition for my choice when consulting The Urban List, and was therefore a little disappointing.

Option I Chose: Mushroom Hash with Eggs Benedict and Spinach – a hearty and tasty vegetarian option.
Notable Alternative: The Brownie Filled Pancakes special! Pictured above, this sweet treat breakfast was coveted by the whole table.


The Club: A Success

“One of the better outcomes of The 1001 Project” is quite a statement as this project has brought me nothing but joy and positive experiences, but this first meeting of the Roosevelt Readers Group was better than most. What was going to be a discussion of the book, devolved into a few hours spent discussing reading, literature and life in general with a really great bunch of people, and something I’m really looking forward to continuing in future.

However, we continue to welcome new members! If you’d like to be part of a group that loves reading, meeting new people and trying new food places in Perth, send us a message on Facebook or email the1001project@gmail.com!

x Casey