The Wayward Kite (2017) – Review

By Michelle Sommerville

There are films where all it takes it one look at the title and you just know what it is going to be about. For me, this was not one of those films. Before I even pressed play, my mind was filled with ideas and guesses, and I was excited to see if the truth would come anywhere near. Would it be straight forward, or an analogy for something greater? This was almost swept from my mind at the first display of animation. It was breathtaking, even in its apparent simplicity. It didn’t detract from the story, however, instead elevating it and bringing it to life.

It is not a good day for that poor kite. With a musical accompaniment but no dialogue, the audience follows the exploits of the title wayward kite. Cut off from the rest, it is hit by a vehicle, electrocuted by power lines, falls into a dumpster, and finds itself among the disgusting refuse at the tip. By this point it is little more than mere tatters clinging desperately to its frame. It breaks free of this too, now unencumbered but further weakening itself. A storm and rain threaten a final defeat, but almost through sheer will the kite perseveres.

The story of the film is simple, but can symbolise much deeper meaning. You find yourself questioning how closely you related to an inanimate object and its harrowing plight.

At this point I usually comment on the acting, which feels strange to do in a film like this. Somehow, the faceless kite was able to emote, and was a great leading man or woman.

Let me get one thing straight: the animation was phenomenal. From the first look at the kites at the beginning, I was brought into the world of the film. That’s what you need to do, bring the audience in, and The Wayward Kite certainly did this. Add to this the cityscape and huge advertisement boards, a-mazing!

The transitions were also flawless, seamlessly moving from one scene and setting to another.

Another unmistakably brilliant addition to this film was the emotional classical music accompaniment. It was not what you would expect in a cartoon, but elevated it from a more child-like target audience to those looking for the meaning behind the images.

In the last few years, animated short films have become a hit. Whether this is due to shortened attention spans or some other reason, it bodes well for this work. Already selected to screen internationally at well-respected film festivals, it seems this is only the beginning of success for both this film and its creators.

Not since Toy Story (1995) have I rooted so hard for an inanimate object. It held such personification and emotion. The animation was brilliant and made it an oddly relatable story. I have no idea how they achieved this, and I don’t really want to know lest it take away the magic.

Footloose (2011) – Review

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I’ll be honest, I was biased when I pressed play.

I recorded it weeks ago, but with nothing else on TV, I decided to finally put it on.

Remakes in general drive me nuts, so I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this one – not to mention they removed the best part: Kevin Bacon!

From reading this review, you may think I’m some old fogey. No, I am almost 25 years old, and am honest enough to admit that I do not agree with the kids in this movie at all. Instead of my usual review format, I’ll just do bullet-points.

The Good

  • The acting. I didn’t know most of them (with the exception of Miles Teller, Dennis Quaid, and Andie MacDowell), but all of them played their roles well.
  • The dancing featured some of our favourite moves from the original, while incorporating modern actions.
  • They kept to the idea of the original, not trying to make it something different. After all, what makes movies like the original Footloose a great movie, is that it can be timeless.

The Bad

  • Rules make kids rebel – No, idiot kids do that just fine on their own. It’s like saying laws like ‘No Murder’ are responsible for people wanting to murder. Of course ‘no music’ is ridiculous, but indulging in underage sex, drugs, and alcohol aren’t intelligent decisions. Until we are ~25 years old, our brains are still forming, and the last part to form is the long-term effects of their actions. As adults it is our responsibility to ensure those still developing aren’t making the decisions they cannot make. If they think it’s unfair, tough luck.
  • Church and State – The world isn’t going to follow God and doesn’t believe in Him, but that doesn’t mean He’s not real. There is no real separation of church and state, God has laws and they are above all other laws. Most of the time, where do you think they got the laws?
  • Dancing in the Bible – Yes David and the worshippers danced, but no where in the Bible does it have them rubbing up against each other in a Holy way in celebration of God.
  • At every step of the movie they show how right the laws were. These kids didn’t want to do things the right way. When there was no law against music, they still acted like idiots. If they didn’t have alcohol and drugs, and didn’t let their dance movements lead to underage sex, then there wouldn’t be a problem.
  • Adults may play these roles in the movie, but the ages are 15/16/17 years old. They are children, not adults. They have barely been alive, and yet they think they know everything. News flash, they don’t.

I’m sure there are many more reasons I can name, but I’ll leave it there for now. Let me know what you thought of the movie.

To finish on a lighter note, here is the amazing Kevin Bacon doing his famous dance in 2014.

 

3 out of 5 stars

Roswell High: The Watcher – Book Review

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I don’t remember much about the show ‘Roswell‘. My older sister watched it a lot, and I know the faces, but that’s about it.

Looking through a box for my next book to read, I found ‘Roswell High: The Watcher‘. Number four in the series, it isn’t a long book, and it contains information from previous novels – not to mention essentially ending on a ‘to be continued’.

As I said, I don’t remember much of the show, but surely it was better than this. The writing was immature, the characters acted ridiculously, and the events moved way too quickly. I know it is a book about aliens –  so how realistic could it be? – but I still expected more.

If you still want to read this book and reminisce about an old TV favourite, go ahead, and let me know what you think.

2.5 out of 5

The Trap – Book Review

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There are books you read that are entertaining, and then there are books that are so captivating you cannot put them down. The Trap is definitely the latter. It took me only about a week to devour the 281 pages, and I already feel like I could read it again (not to mention watch it as a movie).

If you haven’t heard of it before, the blurb is this:

Twelve years ago, Linda Conrads’ sister Anna was brutally murdered. Her killer was never identified, but Linda glimpsed his face as he escaped.
Now, all these years later, she’s just seen him again, on TV.
He’s become a well-known journalist, and Linda – a famous novelist and notorious recluse – knows no one will believe her if she accuses him.
So she sets a trap for him, writing a thriller called Blood Sisters about the unsolved murder of a young woman.
And agrees to give just one interview.
At home.
To the only person who knows more about the case than she does…
But is he really the killer – or is she losing her mind?

Are you hooked yet? I was. Through the Text Publishing website, I found a list of new books they had coming out, and snapped it up when it was at my local store. This is the debut for author Melanie Raabe, and if this is any indication of what she can churn out, I can’t wait to read more of her stuff.

Without giving away any spoilers, I will say that this book is full of twists and turns, and just when you think you’ve figured it out, you’re thrown another curve ball.

I would recommend The Trap to anyone, and want to know what you think of it.

4 out of 5 stars

‘The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope’ – Book Review

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*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

If I cast my memory back, I believe it was during a local book store’s closing down sale that I first saw ‘The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope‘. The cover and title instantly caught my eye, and someone I knew it would be the mix between enthralling characters, great story, and weirdness – though maybe this is because I was instantly reminded of The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012).

Once I read the synopsis on the back, I was hooked, and bought it. A myriad of factors got in the way, and it took probably over a year before I began page 1.

Rhonda Riley certainly has a talent for describing scenery and setting the scene. What first appears to be a normal story set in the Post-WW2 era, becomes a tale possibly from out of this world. After a violent rain storm, Evelyn discovers a person partly-buried in the field of the farm she has been left in-charge of. As she wipes the dirt away, it is clear this is not an ordinary person. There are no features, no hair, no clothes, and no gender markers.

Living all alone on the farm, Evelyn brings the stranger inside, and that is where their relationship takes off.

There are parts of the book that I found unnecessary; storylines that felt included for the sake of popularity with the current-ideals. Riley managed to make it work with the story and the evolution of the characters, but I did question whether to put the book down.

Boy am I glad I didn’t! I have just finished this book, and my eyes are still sore from crying. I’m not usually emotional over stories – and maybe I’m coming down with a cold or the flu – but the way Riley makes you feel for these characters and their loss is phenomenal. This family want answers just as badly as we do. They suffer with uncertainty. We all have fears about our own mortality, and for Evelyn and Adam (or A/Addie) this is definitely amplified.

I loved how the book covered such a large period of time, and I feel almost like Adam, remaining young as the characters I’ve grown attached to age and wither.

While I wouldn’t go searching this book for ideas on religion and answers about mortality, I would recommend it for someone who likes a good story.

3.5 out of 5 stars

‘The Man In The High Castle’ – Book Review

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Last night I finished the book ‘The Man In The High Castle‘, written by the (late) acclaimed science-fiction author Philip K. Dick.

I first heard about this book when I stumbled upon the TV show of the same name. Being on Amazon, I have yet to see any of it, but the idea immediately intrigued me.

The novel differs greatly from the series – which has been renewed for a second season – but is a great place to introduce yourself to this upside-down world.

Without going into too much detail, the novel is set in an alternative universe where the Germans and Japanese won World War Two, with America split approximately 2/3 and 1/3 respectively. The book follows several character groups that manage to intertwine. One such way in which this occurs is through a novel-inside-a-novel. Despite being a forbidden book, almost every character talks of reading ‘The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’, in which author Abendson postulates a world in which the Allies had been victorious.

The book contains many twists and turns, brilliantly exploring the ways in which humans can understand the world around them, and how we can justify anything in order to continue to survive.

You might have trouble finding the book in bookstores (it’s quite old now, but might come back in popularity due to the series), but I found a copy at the library. There are only 249 pages, so it’s a quite read.

Enjoy and let me know what you think of it!

Debug (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.

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I love David Hewlett. I have loved him since seeing him on Stargate all those years ago, and I even got an autograph from him once. So, when I heard he was making another film, I just had to check it out. Having seen bits and pieces of his process (from youtube, twitter postings, etc.), I still didn’t know what to expect. Well I needn’t have worried, because Hewlett has made an epic film and I have given it a rightful score of 4/5.

Debug is a film that follows six 20-something year old computer hackers whose job sends them aboard a broken and abandoned space freighter. But it is not as empty as they thought. The hackers are forced to fight for their lives against an AI (artificial intelligence) that is desperate to become human, and will kill for the chance.

Having been a fan and a part of science fiction projects before, David Hewlett has seen how it is done, and he knows how to improve upon it. Debug is an awesome film that is scary, intelligent, and one you can’t miss.

The casting was also brilliant, bringing a mix of known-actors and fairly-newcomers. Like with his first film A Dog’s Breakfast, Hewlett has been able to get actors and actresses he has worked with before to take on these new roles. Jason Momoa (who plays the AI), is the same as we have seen him before – i.e. a fighting baddie – but still different to what he has done before. His growing popularity from Game of Thrones should also help bring more viewers as well. Kate Hewlett (David’s acting sister) is also brilliant, and it is awesome to see the siblings working on another film project together.

Hewlett has also written a smart script. It deals with current issues and worries we have about technology and where the line then comes between human and machine.

It does have some violence and blood, but it shouldn’t be enough to dissuade anyone from watching it.

With the reach and reliance on social media growing more and more everyday, Hewlett has grabbed hold of this and really connected with his fans. He has talked about the film – which he is rightfully excited about – and has made everyone feel as though they have been included in the process. This makes you more inclined to see it.

There have not been many reviews yet, but what is out there have been quite mixed. It may not be the newest idea – Hewlett said he watched 2001: A Space Odyssey when he was younger and wanted to make a film from Al’s perspective – but Hewlett has made enough changes to make it different and relatable to viewers of this generation.

There are no two ways about it: you must see this film. Hewlett has done a brilliant job of transitioning behind the camera, and he knows what he is doing. Check it out and be entertained!

4 out of 5 stars

A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014) – Review

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No, this is not another Taken film, but it does seem close. This film is darker than that franchise, and is an improvement that shows off its star – Liam Neeson’s – immense talent even more. It is an old-school action film, and Neeson is plain and simply awesome.

A Walk Among the Tombstones: Neeson is Matt Scudder, a former cop turned private eye. After first refusing the job, Scudder finally agrees to help a known drug dealer find the men that not only kidnapped his wife, but killed her after the ransom had been paid. Scudder soon learns that this is not the first time the group have done this, and when they kidnap another girl, he sets out to find them and make them pay.

Any review on this film should begin with: Liam Neeson is awesome. There is no denying it. He has been very kick-ass in his film role choices, and he more than deserves all of the roles he has been getting lately – not to mention all of the attention. He is not just a brilliant action-genre actor, but has shown over the years that he can pretty much play any role they throw at him. With A Walk Among the Tombstones, he is more than capable of turning a generic good-guy-bad-guy action film into something more than just entertaining.

However, the film couldn’t be as good as it is without a good script. The story – based on the book of the same name by Lawrence Block – is full of moments of suspense and plot twists that make the finished product more than just shooting and car chases.

The look and feel of the film is gritty and noir-esque, which makes it more interesting. The director Scott Frank (who also wrote the screenplay for the film) hasn’t done as much directing work as he has done writing work, but with the cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr., they have created something striking.

It is not usual for films made from books to be successful, but this one is doing quite well for itself. It has been a long time in the making – since around 2002 – and it was back then said that Harrison Ford was originally going to play the lead. Ford is a great actor too, but the novel’s author had always pictured Neeson among his top choices for the lead character.

Reviews have been adequately positive. There has been much praise for Neeson’s acting, the directing, and the script. The cliche aspects have also been criticised, though its improvements of the story and perfecting of the genre have compensated for this.

Action films have always been popular, and A Walk Among the Tombstones is an action film done right. Parents and guardians might not want to have it on while their kids are in the room – due to the violence, etc. – but it’s nothing overly gory. Enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Paul Blart 2 (2015) – Review

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I must have seen Paul Blart: Mall Cop more than a handful of times by now, and so when I saw the Paul Blart 2 DVD for sale on a local buy-sell-swap site, I jumped at the chance.

I was never a huge fan of the movie, but my mum was, so we sat back and watched it one night.

Starring Kevin James, this sequel takes place six years after the original. Blart has lost almost everything, so he appreciates it when he is invited to Las Vegas, Nevada, to the security convention. Once again he is needed to save the day. Will he win, or will Blart bust?

 

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  • It’s funny, got a good ‘action’ storyline, and a more emotional family storyline.
  • I thought Blart’s daughter’s ‘love-interest’ was Josh Peck from Drake and Josh, but even though I was wrong, he was still a good young actor.
  • The scene with Blart and the bird was very entertaining, albeit a little long.

CONS

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  • It overplays the same tired jokes.
  • Kevin James’ weight is horrible. It is not healthy, but I still think he’s an awesome actor.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Bear Designs – Hand-Made Items

*Please note – I am not getting paid for any of these ‘reviews’. They are merely articles to share the love and support small Australian hand-made businesses/hobbies.*

One thing that I have found while researching these Australian Hand-Made Businesses, is that their contribution to society is much more personal. Unlike big businesses that are only out to make a profit, these businesses focus on pleasing others. Here is one such independent business.

Bear Designs

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Who doesn’t like dressing up? I don’t know a kid that doesn’t. But with so many superheroes and characters, it can be difficult to keep up with the cost of buying costume after costume. This is where Bear Designs comes in.

Bear Designs was created by Nadine Bear, and stocks capes with a virtually-endless array of designs. Her product size range includes 1/2 years, 3/4 years, 5/6 years, and custom orders are welcome. Products can also include capes for teddies, and props for photography sessions.

Prices are very affordable, and the capes can easily be tucked away for further use.

I spoke with Nadine to hear how she came up with this brilliant idea.

“I came up with the idea as my son loved dress up and I could never find good quality capes with his favourite theme; so I decided to give it a go myself. I hadn’t sewn in years, and was surprised how much I loved making them.” Nadine told me.

“I first started making capes for my kids, and then friends, which then extended into people requesting all types of super capes. I decided to start up a Facebook page (found HERE) and see how it went.”

When talking about her products, Nadine said: “I do a variety of patterns/favourite characters/themes and custom orders. Basically it depends what people are looking for and their child’s favourite theme.”

Not only does she do individual sales, but also collections, for kid’s birthday parties.

As I said before, independent businesses have a closer link with their communities and and Bear Designs is no different.

“I was recently involved in a massive charity event, which I called ‘Capes for Cancer’. It was for a little boy in my son’s pre-primary class.”

“This is the reversible cape I designed with ‘C’ for childhood cancer on yellow being the gold representation and the other side being the super hero fabric. I made 70 capes for all the kids, and 15 for the teachers. It was a massive event/quiz night, to raise awareness for childhood cancer, and I managed to raise over $7000. All the kids looked amazing in their capes. Shawn Redhage from Perth Wildcats also came out on the day and chatted to the kids.”

Nadine’s final words echo those of other independent Australian Hand-Made businesses: “As I’m still a new business with a young family, I haven’t yet ventured out to the market arena, but I’m hoping to as my business grows.”