Movie Review: Zathura

‘Zathura’ is a 2005 science fiction movie based on an adventure board game.

Aimed at older children, ‘Zathura’ is similar in style to ‘Jumanji’, but without the menace and threat of physical injury to the heroes.

This certainly makes for an easier audience ride knowing that brothers Danny (Jonah Bobo) and Walter (Josh Hutcherson) are not at risk of being seriously hurt as they move around the mysterious board game.

 

The boys bring a light-heartedness and excitement to their roles as they learn brotherly love and how to work together as a team.

 

Although there are some adults (Tim Robbins, Kristen Shepard and Dax Stephens) in the film’s supporting roles, they are absent for one reason or another for the bulk of the movie.

 

Tim Robbins plays a small role in ‘Zathura’ as the boys well-meaning – but absent – father.

 

This leaves it up to the brothers to figure things out – and help each other to make it safely to the end.

Directed by Jon Favreau, (‘Iron Man’, ‘Elf’, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’, ‘The Jungle Book’) , ‘Zathura’ is not as fast-paced and exciting as some of his later movies but nonetheless has it’s own classic appeal.

 

Favreau has refrained from going overboard on CGI and technology, which gives the film a simpler, low-tech feel.

 

Overall, this is a great movie for when you want a gentle but entertaining family movie.

As there is a little bit of violence and a couple of scary moments – not recommended for young kids.

Available on Netflix and you can check out the official trailer here:

 

 

Philosophy Friday: Labels

Sometimes I just want to fit in – by squeezing myself into a few good old-fashioned labels!

Here’s my take on it:

 

Midweek Music Moment: The Lark Ascending

‘The Lark Ascending’ is a magical solo violin & piano piece from British composer Vaughan Williams.

 

Williams (1872 – 1958) wrote music for over 50 years including operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies. 

 

Based on the George Meredith poem of the same name, Vaughan’s soaring musical piece was first performed in 1920 and is now more well-known than the original poem.

 

 

Outside of serving in WWI, Williams spent much of his time touring the British Isles and made it his life’s work to write down and preserve as much of the local music as possible.

Many of his musical themes have their origins in English folk songs and Tudor music of medieval times.

This second musical moment from Vaughan Williams is no exception – this majestic 17 minute piece for string orchestra is one of his finest, ‘Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis’ (aka Tallis Fantasia).

 

Movie Review: The Eagle Huntress

‘The Eagle Huntress’ is an uplifting 2016 documentary about a nomadic Mongolian girl who is fighting to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations of her Kazakh family.

Although eagle hunting is traditionally ‘for the men’, 13 year old Aisholpan dreams of being the first female to compete in the annual Golden Eagle Festival.

 

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One of the highlights of the film was that Aisholpan didn’t feel the need to be ‘one of the boys’ in order to fit in, as witnessed by her sparkly hair decorations and painted nails as she heads to competition.

 

Although a little staged at certain times, ‘The Eagle Huntress’ documents Aisholpan’s journey from catching her own eaglet through training it, to competition and later to winter hunting.

 

Although the Golden Eagle Festival is world-class and of high prestige, the true sign of eagle mastery is winter hunting.

 

Lightly narrated by Daisy Ridley (Rey from ‘Star Wars’), the film is filled with spectacular, sweeping vistas from Simon Niblett captured by drone, crane and even an ‘eagle cam’ strapped onto a traveling eagle.

 

Aisholpan’s father’s support for his daughter is bold and unwavering as he passes on his eagle knowledge to his daughter.

 

Filmed in one of the most remote parts of Mongolia, life is hard and family units are small and tightly knit.

Aisholpan’s whole family gets behind her dream, and her determination and courage shine through as a powerful testament to girl power.

An inspiring, magical film, ‘The Eagle Huntress’ is a must-see for the big screen and currently playing second run cinemas.

Check out the official trailer here:

 

 

Philosophy Friday: Decluttering

What are you holding to in your life that needs to go back out into the world?

Here’s how I’ve been decluttering my life:

 

Midweek Music Moment: How to make Gravy

One of my favourite Aussie singers is the incredibly gifted singer/songwriter Paul Kelly.

With his thoughtful ballads about the joys and sufferings of everyday life, Paul Kelly is a must for road trips, sing-alongs and late night musings.

Today’s Midweek Music Moment is his 1996 hit, ‘How to Make Gravy’.

 

 

With his politically-passionate songs that speak up for the underdog, in some ways Paul Kelly is a cross between Johnny Cash and Canada’s Bruce Cockburn.

This next song, ‘From little things, big things grow’ is the story of Aboriginal rights activist, Vincent Lingiari from the Gurindji people.

He led an 8 year strike for his people to claim back some of their traditional land – during which time support for aboriginal land rights grew – and eventually led to the ‘Aboriginal Land Rights Act’ (1976).

 

An important and symbolic event in Australian history occurred when, during an emotional ceremony in 1975, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam poured the local sand into Vincent Lingiari’s hands, symbolically handing the Wave Hill station back to the Gurindji people.

 

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act gave indigenous Australians freehold title to traditional lands in the Northern Territory and, significantly, the power to negotiate over mining and development on those lands, including what type of compensation they would like.

This performance of ‘From little things, big things grow’ was given by Paul Kelly and indigenous singer / songwriter Kev Carmody at Gough Whitlam’s 2014 memorial service.

 

 

And if you’re wanting a little more political ‘oomph’ and want to know how it has been for indigenous Aussies – here’s a moving, articulate, powerful tribute from Cape York Indigenous leader, Noel Pearson, to Gough Whitlam (‘This old man’) and how his powerful legacy impacted his life.

“This old man was one of those rare people who never suffered discrimination but understood the importance of protection from it’s malice”

 

Movie Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ is a 2011 courtroom thriller based on the novel from Michael Connelly (known for his Harry Bosch detective novels).

Starring Matthew McConaughey as questionable lawyer, Mick Haller, this is an excellent performance as he schmoozes, sleazes and schemes his way throughout the film.

 

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‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ marks a notable shift in McConaughey’s acting career from ‘chick flicks’ to more serious performances.

 

With an outstanding ensemble cast of Marisa Tomei, William H.Macy, John Leguizamo, Josh Lucas, Ryan Philippe, Michael Peña and Bryan Cranston – to name a few – these are veteran actors who carry their own weight against the enigmatic Mick Haller.

 

William H.Macy plays the balanced, straight-up investigator to McConaughey’s enigmatic, wild card.

 

Unfortunately though, Director, Brad Furman (‘Runner Runner’, ‘The Infiltrator’) has brought together an incredible cast, but the plot is so twisted and convoluted that at times it borders on ridiculous.

 

Furman is currently shooting ‘LAbryrinth’ – a film around the investigation into Tupac and Notorious BIG’s murders.

 

This takes what could have been a stand-out film down a notch to simply a great film – but is still worth viewing as an entertaining courtroom drama with a superb cast and a steady pace.

Available on Netflix – but I will give it a violence warning for the short, but gritty re-enactment scenes.

You can check out the official trailer here:

 

Midweek Music Moment: Life on Mars

One of my favourite David Bowie songs is his wonderfully melancholy ballad, ‘Life On Mars’.

Originally released on his 1971 ‘Hunky Dory’ album, it was later released as single and topped the UK charts in 1973 where it stayed at number 3 for 13 weeks.

 

David Bowie in 1971.

 

By the end of 1972, Ziggy Stardust was in full swing.

By the end of 1972, Ziggy Stardust was in full swing.

 

Although the original music video shows Bowie at his glam-peak, I prefer this more stripped down, dramatic version from 2011.

 

 

Chances are good that you’ve heard ‘Life on Mars’ over the years, but did you know that it’s a love song?

Inspired by a failed romance with dancer, Hermione Farthingale, she was ‘the girl with the mousy brown hair’ and Bowie’s first serious relationship.

 

Frankel left Bowie in 1969 to shoot the film ‘Song of Norway’, and by 1970 Bowie had met and married 19 year old Angie.

 

Although incomplete, my current favourite cover of ‘Life on Mars’ is this subtle rendition from Coldplay’s Chris Martin:

 

 

And here’s a close second from Aussie, Sarah Blasko:

 

Movie Review: The Karate Kid

‘The Karate Kid’ is a classic 1984 teen flick about the unusual friendship between a martial arts master and a bullied teenager.

Initially I was hesitant to return to this childhood classic because I didn’t want my fond memories to be ruined by my sharper, more cynical 2017 eyes.

 

Although the story centres around a climatic fight scene, the true heart of the film is when Mr Miyagi and Daniel begin training together.

 

Despite Pat Morita’s memorable performance as Mr Miyagi, his ‘wise old man’ asian stereotype was a little cringe-worthy. As was Elizabeth Shue’s 2-dimensional, cheerleader-type character.

 

Elizabeth Shue plays Ali, the ultimate preppy prom queen from the right side of the tracks. And I’m pretty sure some of her wardrobe is back in fashion again…

 

However, the good news is that this is still a great movie and Ralph Macchio as the karate kid has stood the test of time.

Despite some dated parts of the film, this movie has a good script, enjoyable soundtrack and solid performances.

 

‘The Karate Kid’ was directed by John G. Avildsen, who won the Academy Award for Best Director in 1977 for Rocky. He was also the original Director of ‘Serpico’ (1973) and ‘Saturday Night Fever’ (1977), before being fired off both.

 

‘The Karate Kid’ is classic for a reason and I recommend it for a nostalgic Sunday afternoon.

Available on Netflix and you can check out the official trailer here:

 

 

Philosophy Friday: Proof

What kind of proof and validation are you paying attention to out there?

Here’s my take on it: