Cult film for fans of Arnie

Film review

Last Action Hero

PG 13+

Five out of five stars


LET’S talk about guilty pleasures.

We’ve all got one, or maybe more than one. Whether it’s chicken nuggets with tomato sauce, Willy Wonka Nerd Rope, obscure Victorian soft drinks that no one in Western Australia seems to know about, eating Nutella from the jar, or smashing through a tub of hummus in one sitting.

I’ve been there, I’ve done that – and I definitely have the t-shirt.

But my one time, ultimate guilty pleasure is sitting on the couch, turning the lights off, cranking the volume and watching Arnie movies.

To clarify, I’m talking Arnold Schwarzenegger before the steriods and years of heavy spray tan usage starting to creep up on him.

And definitely before he became the Governor of California.

I’ll settle for any Arnie movie, but the one that holds a special .44 Magnum sized space in my heart is 1993 action fantasy flick Last Action Hero.

When I mentioned to a work colleague that Last Action Hero was being released on Netflix, and my subsequent giddy excitement, I was met with the blank stare of ‘huh?’.

I couldn’t blame him though. Of all of Arnie’s films this one definitely slides to the wayside and into the realm of obscurity.

When Last Action Hero first came out it was met with plenty of negative reviews and was also competing with Jurassic Park for airtime.

But in my eyes, this film is an action masterpiece of epic proportions.

You have Arnie dressed as Hamlet making a cameo; you have Charles Dance as a bad guy (also known as playing Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones for those Millennials out there), Tina Turner pops in for about three seconds, Danny DeVito voice acts as an animated cat, and Ian McKellen appears as Death.

It’s a wild ride in terms of actors, that’s for sure.

But what gets me excited and more than a little confused is that this incredible film was directed by the one, the only, John McTiernan.

Who is John McTiernan you may ask?

Well, let me rattle off a few film titles. Predator, Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October, Die Hard with a Vengence, The 13th Warrior, The Thomas Crown Affair … if you hadn’t guessed by now, he directed all of them.

So why the film is more of a cult classic instead of an outright hit is absolutely beyond me, and with a CV like that, you should be at least tempted to flick over and watch Last Action Hero this Friday night.

If that doesn’t get your engine started though, let me go further.

Last Action Hero is the perfect combination of cringe, comedy, self-awareness, fourth-wall-breakage, homage to action, celebration of kids idolising their movie heroes, and of course Arnie one liners.

From the opening to the final credits we see explosions, glass eyes that honestly make no sense, plenty of bullets, and fast cars.

But when you look past the action film tropes, what really gets you hooked is watching every unsuccessful attempt made by Austin O’Brien’s character Danny Madigan attempting to convince Arnie’s character Jack Slater that he is in fact a fictional character.

Without giving too much away (I’m not in the business of spreading spoilers), Danny manages to transport himself into his favourite action film of all time and then joins his hero, Jack, on a crime fighting adventure.

By the end of the film both Danny and Jack learn something new about themselves, they evolve as characters and learn that there is more to life than being an action star.

So in conclusion, do yourself a massive favour and watch Last Action Hero.

First person to laugh when I say “rubber baby buggy bumpers” because they know where it’s from gets a gold star.

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Comic to mock PC

HE COINED the term for Australia’s most popular adage DILLIGAF, he lived next door to Alan and was best mates with Mick the master farter and he’s in Albany on Saturday night.

Kevin Bloody Wilson has been performing his bawdy ballads across the country and overseas since the 1980s and said it all started when he performed a couple of songs to his mates during their “pleasant Sunday mornings”.

“My mates nudged me into a studio saying I should record some of my stuff and they would buy the tapes,” he said.

“And they bought them in the absolute thousands.”

Wilson said he spent a good portion of his year on tour but never saw it as a job.

“I look at it from a hobby point of view,” he said.

“I’m a professional hobbiest. There have absolutely been publicists that have tried to tell me when, how long and where to go on tour, and I’ve told a few of them to get f…

“I want to go out and work. I want to tour.”

Wilson said he always looked forward to touring as it meant he would be with his wife, Betty Bryant, as well as his bawdy musical comedian daughter Jenny Talia this time around.

When asked if he ever dreamed his career would bring him to the point where he won an ARIA, had his music inducted into the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, or toured internationally he responded quickly.

“S… no, I never thought I would do any of it,” he said.

“This is way beyond anything I could dream of. My daughter is my supporting act, my wife is the tour manager and I’ve even got the grand daughters over from Chicago.

“We work together. It was meant to be, and it all just fell into place. I’ve been very, very lucky.”

Wilson visited Albany around three years ago while on tour and said performing at the Albany Entertainment Centre was “pretty special” and that he enjoyed performing for the locals.

“It definitely comes from the fact that I lived in Kalgoorlie,” he said.

“When I was in Kal as an electrician I would watch the planes flying over with singers and comedians and think ‘why don’t you play here?’.

“It’s not necessarily up to the artist to choose where they perform. But when I really got big I decided bugger it, and insisted on doing country areas.

“Albany is definitely big in terms of country towns, but I get my rocks off doing what I do. The more blue collar, the better.”

Wilson said his F.U.P.C Tour is about what you would expect from a comedian who took pride in not being politically correct.

“Everything has swung far, far left when it comes to political correctness,” he said.

“I think I’m one of the few comedians left that doesn’t toe that line. One of my new songs is about the #metoo movement.

“Australia is the only country in the world where your mates are c… and your enemies are mates. God won’t punish you for our vowels.

“It’s really all about your inflection.”

Wilson said he was looking at adding America to his list of touring destinations.

“I’m a big fan of comedians like Jim Jefferies and Hannah Gadsby,” he said.

“On a business level Jim has put his finger on the pulse in America and learned what p… everyone off. And Hannah tells a great story.

“I’ve certainly never subscribed to political correctness, so when I write my jokes and my mates laugh at it – it’s good enough for the Sydney Opera House or the London Palladium.

“The wife is a good litmus test too. If she rolls her eyes, I know I’m onto a good one.”

Kevin Bloody Wilson’s Albany leg of the F.U.P.C Tour with special guest Jenny Talia will be at the Albany Entertainment Centre on Saturday from 8pm.

Tickets are available at the box office.

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City plans for 2.95 per cent rate rise

ALBANY residents can expect their rates to rise this financial year if the City of Albany’s draft budget for 2019/20 is approved later this month.

Councilors will vote on the budget, which features a 2.95 per cent rate rise and $109.5 million in spending, when they convene for a council meeting on July 23.

In his introduction of the document released last week, Mayor Dennis Wellington described the rate increase as part of the City’s 10-year financial plan.

“The City of Albany continues to work with the cost pressures that an ever changing economic environment presents and with this budget we are pleased to maintain our long-term fiscal strategy,” he wrote.

“[The rate rise] supports the high level of services, facilities and community projects being maintained for our local ratepayers and residents.”

Rates were increased by the same percentage in the 2018/19 financial year.

This was slightly higher than the 2017/18 budget’s 2.5 per cent rise but less than 2016/17’s rate increase of 3.5 per cent.

This year rates are expected to raise $38.4 million in revenue.

An additional $18.1 million will be raised from “fees and charges” which denote things like use of facility fees, charges made for local government services and fines and penalties.

A total $37.5 million will be spent on new projects and the renewal of existing facilities, with around $8 million slated for a coastal enhancement project at Middleton Beach, $7 million for road works and $3 million for developments at Centennial Park.

A further $1.2 million will go to the Pathway Works Program and around $900,000 will be reserved for road drainage.

Albany Heritage Park, the Albany Leisure Aquatic Centre and Albany Airport are also set to benefit.

Just under $1 million will be dedicated to work at the National Anzac Centre and the Park, while ALAC will receive around $300,000 for general improvements and equipment renewal and Albany Airport will get around $270,000.

Roughly 40 per cent of the $69.4 million allocated for “ongoing operational service delivery” will cover employee costs, which include salaries, allowances and other expenses.

Another $2.6 million is slated for debt reduction. Acting Chief Executive Officer Susan Kay said the budget allowed the City to continue delivering projects that boost the economy and create employment, recreation and economic benefits.

She cited the National Anzac Centre, Centennial Park Shopping Precinct, the new Visitor Centre and the Field of Light installation “which injected $17.8 million of visitor expenditure into the Great Southern” as examples of such projects.

“This budget has also ensured capacity to absorb additional cost pressures from external sources such as government changes and contracts to maintain our City’s existing services,” she said.

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Cricket merger appeal

FEARS that junior cricket in Albany could be discontinued have been all but laid to rest with a proposed merger of the sport’s junior and senior representative bodies likely to go ahead.

Committee members from the Albany Junior Cricket Association (AJCA) and the Albany Cricket Association (ACA) are set to convene for a special resolution meeting on July 22 to discuss the prospect of amalgamating into one organisation.

The future of the junior sport was thrown into doubt in mid June after the AJCA failed to find volunteers to replace its outgoing executive committee (‘Cricket future in doubt’, 20 June).

Sport and Recreation Consultant Kim Buttfield, who has been employed by the Western Australia Cricket Association to conduct a review of the sport in the Great Southern, said the talk of a merger came at a fortunate time.

“The AJCA had been struggling to find volunteers … and the senior association to a lesser degree was also struggling just finding people to step up into those governance roles,” she said.

“It’s just taken a while for everyone to come together to realise this is actually a great opportunity to bring the two groups together.”

Ms Buttfield said she was “very certain” the merger would proceed, adding the two bodies would work to finalise it before the start of the next season of junior cricket in September or October.

“The WACA is very keen to support them. They are going to be providing some financial support as well as some governance guidance,” she said.

“Hopefully everything will flow fairly smoothly.”

ACA President Terry Eaton said the upcoming discussions would provide clarity about the pathways available to local junior and senior players.

“At the moment people don’t know whether they should be in junior or in senior or how to go about getting from one to the other,” Mr Eaton said.

“That’s why we need a powerful board to direct cricket overall and go from there. I think at the end what we need is a good outcome for cricket.”

He added that while decisions about the exact structure of a new organisation were “still in the melting pot,” he expected it to consist of a single executive with a couple of portfolios for junior cricket.

“I think where they’re heading is towards a combined executive that would oversee the organisation and then sitting underneath that would be two operational arms, one for the juniors and one for the seniors,” Ms Buttfield said.

“At the end of it everyone’s really wanting the same thing, to grow cricket and to continue to support a great game that’s pretty important in our community.”

Outgoing AJCA President Jackie Boyce was contacted for comment.

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Building applications increase

RESIDENTS in the City of Albany may have noticed an increase in building projects in their neighborhood in May due to a recorded 31 per cent increase in the month’s average since 2013.

City Manager of Building, Health and Compliance Scott Reitsema told the Weekender that there had been 116 various types of building permit applications in May alone, totaling 906 in the past financial year.

“This also takes into account the Premier Hotel alterations, the new waterfront hotel and a large volume of additions and alterations against a smaller number of new dwellings,” he said.

The City approves a wide range of applications each year such as dwellings, sheds, patios and renovations.

“Recent trends indicate that there are fewer dwellings being approved, with more renovations, alterations and additions occurring,” Mr Reitsema said.

“[The average May increase] isn’t unusual and quite often occurs towards the end of the financial year where finances, taxes, assets and investments are top of mind with residents.

“Any form of development is great for our local economy and helps to boost the Albany building market.”

Mr Reitsema said while there had been an average increase in applications for May, overall there had been a reduction in the number of applications over the past year with similar trends seen across the state.

“This could be attributed to a possible lack of consumer confidence in the market, an election year and economic uncertainty.”

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Bunnings blueprint

PLANS to relocate Bunnings Warehouse from Albany Highway to Chester Pass Mall still have a few hoops to jump through until the planned 14,000sqm behemoth can begin to break ground.

The popular green hardware store is situated on land owned by Perth based real estate investment trust magnate BWP Trust, which currently owns the largest number of Bunnings Warehouse sites across Australia.

According to their property portfolio from December 2018, the Albany site has a land area of 31,651sqm, a retail area of 13,660sqm, and reports an annual rent of $904,854.

In comparison the Geraldton site in the state’s north, also owned by BWP Trust, has a retail area of 17,874sqm and a reported annual rent of $1,318,888.

Bunnings Director of Property Andrew Marks said the company had lodged a development application for a new building to replace the current store next to the Chester Pass Mall, on the corner of Chester Pass Road and Brooks Garden Boulevard.

“If approved, the new Bunnings Warehouse development would span over 14,000 square metres and feature a fully enclosed timber yard, nursery and more car parking for our customers,” he said.

“All team members from the existing Albany store will transfer to the new store once complete and could be joined by additional new team members.”

Perth based property tycoons M/Group currently owns the site after purchasing Albany Brooks Garden Shopping Centre for $20 million in 2017 and subsequently rebranded to Chester Pass Mall.

M/Group Director James Collis said the anticipated development would bring families from across the Great Southern region to shop in Albany.

Despite the excitement to get the shovels in the ground, City of Albany Manger of Building, Health and Compliance Scott Reitsema said they had not yet received a building application, as the planning application for the site would need to be approved and then assessed by the Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel.

“There will be a public comment period commencing shortly which will have the information relating to the potential building and corresponding block of land,” he said.

The BWP Trust report on the Albany Bunnings Warehouse site states the current valuation for the property stands at $15,100,000 with the lease starting date from November 1, 1999.

The Weekender asked Mr Marks that based on that date and a standard commercial lease of 20 years, it could be assumed that the lease on the site would be concluding this year, and if that was the case – would the end of the lease affect their movement plans?

Mr Marks did not answer that question and a BWP Trust spokesperson did not comment on the potential move that could lose them more than $900,000 a year from rent.

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Frightfest a compelling ride

Rated MA15+

Four out of five stars

COMING off the back of Jordan Peele’s stellar directorial debut Get Out, a lot of folk, myself included, had high expectations for his second stab at the horror genre.

Much like his 2017 surprise frightfest of a hit, this year’s Us pulls from the station with a simple enough premise: a young family, enjoying a getaway at their holiday home, is suddenly terrorised by a group of crazed strangers.

But what might sound almost cliché on paper when you think of all the masked slasher slash home invasion adrenaline jolters of the past few decades soon devolves into something else entirely.

The train you’ve boarded isn’t a train at all. It’s a rollercoaster, and it’s about to derail.

Without wading too deep into spoiler territory, there’s a point in the film where it dawns on you that this thing is going in a very big and very strange direction, and I mean that in the best possible way.

The film’s plotting and pacing benefits tremendously from keeping the questions flowing throughout: Who are these apparent doppelgangers standing in this family’s driveway at night?

What do they want? Why can’t they speak?

All the high hallmarks Peele set in Get Out return in fun new forms here.

The devilishly creepy scenes, although not terrifying, are plentiful and done well and rely more on psychological discomfort than blatant jump scare ‘gotcha’ moments.

The social and political satire, although a little on the nose, is clever, compelling and thought provoking enough not to feel tacked on.

And the humour is excellent, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

If nothing else, Us is a testament to the fact you apparently shouldn’t judge an artist by literally every other thing they’ve worked on previously.

From MadTV and The Muppets to Bob’s Burgers and the goofy sketches of his now disbanded Comedy Central show, Peele has in his time stuck plenty of fingers in plenty of feelgood comedy pies.

But Us proves Peele has the skills, the know how and the passion to craft films that can’t not be talked about.

The laughs you’ll encounter in Us are made all the better by their bloody context and provide something of a nervous catharsis in the midst of all the freakishness.

All that is bolstered further by the fact that the real ‘oh s***’ moments of the film are in the details.

Us is one of those rare, well crafted gems that reward a re-watch tenfold, where the storytelling and characterisation is so precise you’ll notice things you didn’t on your first run.

My partner and I spent a good hour talking about all the things that made more sense in retrospect and the film remained wedged in my head for a good while beyond that.

With all the clues and the call-backs, this film is plenty of fun to dissect and discuss.

Lupita Nyong’o shines in ways I can’t talk about here, Elisabeth Moss is nothing short of wicked, and child actors Shahadi Wright Joseph as Zora and Evan Alex as her brother Jason seem remarkably genuine to the point you almost forget this family doesn’t actually exist.

A good horror film makes you care about the characters, if only so you’re absolutely horrified when they are faced with the dark.

While it doesn’t quite meet the extraordinarily high standards set by Peele’s first terrifying lovechild, due in large part to moments that ask you to suspend your disbelief a little too much,
Us certainly comes close.

It’s a fun and surprising thrill ride well worth the plunge.

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Cruelty cases high

ALBANY recorded some of the highest numbers of cases of animal cruelty in regional Western Australia last year, according to RSPCA WA.

Recently released figures from the animal welfare organisation’s Cruelty Hotline revealed the city ranked second in 2018 when it came to the number of cruelty reports received.

A total of 187 calls were recorded in Albany across the calendar year, placing it 23 cases behind Kalgoorlie-Boulder City which recorded 210 reports.

Albany also recorded 187 reports in 2017 and was at that time ranking first on the regional cruelty hot spot list.

RSPCA WA Chief Executive Officer Iain Torrance said while the figures were high, they did not necessarily mean more cases were occurring in Albany.

“The high number of cruelty reports received in Albany could indicate that more animals are suffering abuse and neglect or that more people in the area are standing up for animals and making a report,” he said.

“In regional WA, we receive more calls from cities and towns near where RSPCA WA has a presence because people know they can depend on us for help.”

“We also see more reports where there are more people and Albany is one of the largest population centres in regional WA.”

Mr Torrance said while the organisation worked hard to improve standards of animal welfare in the state, the high numbers of reports collated statewide each year were a concern.

“It’s encouraging to see the community is reporting cruelty and giving a voice to abused, neglected and mistreated animals who can’t speak for themselves,” he said.

“But with more than 50 reports flooding in every single day, the truth is we simply can’t get to every animal in time.

“Year on year, the number of calls from across WA is increasing. This year we’re expecting to reach 21,000 which equates to almost 200 additional calls per month.”

In 2018, RSPCA WA inspectors received 366 reports of animal cruelty in the Great Southern region, with most of those coming out of Albany and Harvey.

The Shire of Plantagenet and the Shire of Katanning also saw a spike in 2018 compared to 2017, with the former jumping 35 per cent to 27 reports and the latter jumping 63 per cent to 13 reports.

Founder of the state’s largest animal rescue organisation Saving Animals From Euthanasia (SAFE) Sue Hedley said although the RSPCA’s figures were “a shock”, they did not definitively point to more cases in Albany than elsewhere.

“You’ve got to look at where people do manage to report,” the Karratha-based animal advocate said.

“When there’s no RSPCA north of Geraldton, the majority of people living in the north west don’t go near contacting them.”

Ms Hedley instead thought cruelty was “far worse” in the north west where SAFE has five of its 12 state branches.

“It’s almost a daily basis of cruelty and neglect,” she said.

“Starvation of animals, animals left without food and water, dogs absolutely covered in ticks, ringworm and mange, things like that are very regular.

“[There are also] extreme cases where cats have been found with broken legs and have just learned to get around that way because no one has helped them … and animals covered in burns because people are pouring boiling water over them.”

Ms Hedley said Albany residents were probably more likely to make reports knowing an RSPCA person was “not that far away”.

“I want people to hear that if they see animals left without food or water or in a bad way or not looked after, they need to report it,” she added.

“It doesn’t have to necessarily be the RSPCA or an extreme cruelty act, but they can ring local rangers, the police, SAFE or others.

“Do not just turn a blind eye … animals rely on us humans to help them.”

Concerned individuals can contact the RSPCA Cruelty Hotline on 1300 278 358 or the SAFE Albany branch on 0412 491 203.

Albany Animal Welfare were contacted for this story but declined to comment.

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Anzac upgrade

EXHIBITS at the National Anzac Centre in Albany are set to be updated after council last week unanimously voted to approve phase one of a refresh of the site.

The $750,000 project is scheduled to begin sometime in the 2019-2020 financial year and will see the centre undergo various upgrades and essential maintenance.

City Executive Director of Community Services Susan Kay said “content loan renewals, an upgrade to the Viewing Hall … as well as the development of a theatrette or gallery for temporary exhibitions” would be among the improvements.

She said the work was needed to ensure Albany remained the “essential landmark for Anzac heritage” and to keep visitors coming back.

“We now have an important opportunity to reinforce our position as the landmark Australian Anzac Museum, evolve with technology, refresh the exhibition to ensure its relevance and continue to attract visitors from all around the globe,” she said.

“Our community priority is to maintain infrastructure and deliver programs that promote Albany’s unique heritage, engender civic pride and leave a lasting memory.”

More than 300,000 people have visited the National Anzac Centre since the $10.2 million facility first opened its doors on November 1, 2014.

The Mount Clarence museum combines multimedia and interactive technology and historical artifacts to tell the story of Anzac soldiers and their families, as well as Albany’s unique
connection to that story.

The town was the last port of call for more than 30,000 men who departed Australia on the first convoy overseas in November 1914.

Ms Kay said funding for the project would be covered by the City’s National Anzac Reserve fund specifically allocated for the museum’s ongoing management and building renewal.

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False details fine

A YOUNG man who was caught with two knives strapped to his body near an Albany nightclub in May told police his name was Duke Silver, the alias of a character from American sitcom Parks and Recreation.

Eighteen-year-old Thomas Penny pleaded guilty to giving false personal details to police and carrying an article with intent to cause fear when he appeared before Magistrate Raelene Johnston at Albany Magistrates Court last Thursday.

Police searched Mr Penny near nightclub Studio 146 on Stirling Terrace at around 2:40am on Sunday, May 19, and found one six-inch boning knife bound to his right ankle and another attached to his back between two layers of clothing.

Mr Penny, who did not have legal representation at the hearing, said he had run into a group of old school friends at the White Star Hotel earlier in the evening and was “quite drunk” by the time police searched him.

He admitted to telling police his name was Duke Silver, the “jazz playing alter ego” of Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson and said “at that time I was quite paranoid”.

Mr Penny partly attributed his fear to living in Spencer Park where he occasionally heard “people screaming” and which he associated with “crackheads”.

“I just didn’t feel safe,” he said.

Magistrate Johnston said it was “particularly concerning” Mr Penny had the weapons on him at the time.

“Your judgement [when intoxicated] is not going to be what it would be sober,” she said, adding Mr Penny could have ended up threatening someone or using the weapons in his inebriated state.

“If you’re stopped by police, don’t mess around. Just give them your details.”

Mr Penny was fined $250 for the false details charge and $350 for carrying the two weapons, in addition to $205.30 for court costs.

He was also granted a spent conviction with Magistrate Johnston noting Mr Penny had a clean record, pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, was “articulate” and had “previous good character”.

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