• SNAP BOOK REVIEW: 'The Joy Luck Club' by Amy Tan

    This is one of those 80s novels that everyone raved about at the time (and received the ultimate accolade of being made into a terrible film), but with 30 years of perspective it's really hard to see what all the fuss was about. Because, boiled down to its essentials, this is merely a collection of stories about obnoxious, overbearing Chinese mothers and their whiny, self-absorbed Chinese-American daughters. Not much joy, and precious little luck.

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  • GREAT MOVIES: The Dish (2000)

    The rural Australian town of Parkes made an unlikely contribution to the 1969 moon landing, courtesy of its adjacent radio-astronomy installation, which served as the Southern Hemisphere communications relay. That rather banal factoid is the basis for the charming and surprisingly powerful comedy-drama, The Dish.

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  • SUPERHERO MOVIES: Good, Bad & Elektra

    In this episode - X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

    The original Days of Future Past was a 2-issue X-Men story by Chris Claremont, that started a tradition for time-hopping X-Men stories - of varying quality - that would endure for decades (Grant Morrison's Here Comes Tomorrow in New X-Men was a direct homage). The film adaptation of this comic book classic saw the return of Bryan Singer to the X-franchise, and also offered to bridge the gap between the original and later X-Men casts. That turned out to be rather more expectations than than the movie could actually fulfil.

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  • GREATEST ART: Monty Python's Flying Circus

    This blog has discussed before whether or not comedy actually constitutes 'art'. The conclusion is yes, but it is by far the most disposable of art forms, since humour is a transient thing and, possibly even more than music, subject to the whims and fashions of its era. However, just now and again there comes in comedy a shift so seismic, it takes on the importance and timelessness of Classic Art. In our time, Monty Python was that shift.

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  • AOI HANA aka SWEET BLUE FLOWERS: Love Hurts

    Generally speaking, anime - no matter to which particular genre it might belong - deals in the fantastical. There is a heavy bias towards fantasy and sci-fi elements, with magic a strong underpinning force. Even sitcoms (such as Squid Girl, to be reviewed in due course, and Yuru Yuri, q.v.) will frequently embrace the bizarre. Sweet Blue Flowers is a rare example of what might be termed documentary realism in Japanese animation, which makes it particularly noteworthy. It doesn't hurt that it's also rather good.

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