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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Frightfest a compelling ride

Us
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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‘What talent!’

ALBANY music group About FACE Youth Choir took the top gong at this year’s Albany Music Eisteddfod last week with a near-perfect score of 99 out of 100.

From more than 200 entries, the vocal ensemble impressed the adjudicators the most with their renditions of Lullaby and Miniyama Nayo.

Artistic director of the choir Sue Findlay couldn’t be happier with the result.

“About FACE is very excited to have received such high accolades from the vocal adjudicator,” she said.

“The Eisteddfod gives performers the wonderful opportunity to be critiqued by musicians at the top of their field.”

Frances Ullrich won the Mary Thompson Award for most promising instrumental student and Elsabe de Klerk, Isabella Pietropaolo and Francine ‘t Hart each won an Australian String Association Award.

Eisteddfod Committee President Elizabeth Burns congratulated all of the participants.

“It has been a fabulous week of music with our local students impressing once again with very high marks and standard of performance,” she said.

“We are a privileged community to foster such talent.”

The Adjudicators Choice Awards were given to Rosie Talbot with voice, Sjaan and Bryce vander Heide with a voice duet, Lily Turbill on double bass, Lila Wenzel on piano, John Calvin School Recorder Group Year 9, Albany District Schools Concert Band 1, Emma Turbill and Julie Parish with a cello duet, and Elsabe de Klerk on violin.

Adjudicators Helen Tuckey and Matt Ward were blown away by the talent of competitors.

“What talent!” Ms Tuckey said.

“It is a great honour to adjudicate such talented students with such a supportive community.”

“Congratulations to all the competitors,” Mr Ward added.

“I’ve enjoyed every single performance and have been impressed by the level of talent and preparation.”

 

Section winners:

Section 1: Piano Solo Own Choice Prelimi- nary – Grade 5
Tobi Brown. Mark: 95

Section 2: Piano Solo Own Choice – Grade 6+N/A

Section 3: String Solo Preliminary – Grade 5
Joel Bush. Mark: 95

Section 4: String Solo Grade 6+
Isabella Pietropaolo. Mark: 97

Section 5: Brass Solo
Edie Hawke. Mark: 91

Section 6: Woodwind Solo
Sandra Woonings. Mark: 94

Section 7: Classical Guitar Solo
Nicco Lembo. Mark: 93

Section 8: Duet and Ensemble: Duet Frances Ullrich and Michelle ‘t Hart. Mark: 98Section 8: Duet and Ensemble: EnsemblesThe Golden Hill Fiddlers
Just Fiddling 3
Just Fiddling 2
Mark: 98

Section 9: Bands and Orchestras
Albany Youth Orchestra 2. Mark: 96

Section 10: Voice Solo
Bonnie Staude. Mark: 98

Section 11: Voice – Groups
Bonnie, Josie and Maggie Staude. Mark: 98

Section 12: Folk
Francine ‘t Hart. Mark: 95

Section 13: Misc Instrument
Ewan O’Brien. Mark: 97

Section 14: School Choirs
John Calvin Primary School. Mark: 94

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Digital donation aids concert

A CONCERT will be held at Albany’s Oceans Church next week to raise money for YouthCARE school chaplaincy programs in the region.

Albany City Wind Ensemble will join forces with AboutFACE Youth Choir for the family-friendly event A Concert for Chappy featuring a highly-varied program.

From the soundtrack of Shrek to Lord of the Dance, to children’s fables and pieces from the Glenn Miller Big Band, music director Sue Findlay promises there will be something for everyone.

She said the addition of a brand-new instrument would take the performance to another level.

“We’re usually locked into venues with grand pianos for our concerts,” Ms Findlay explained.

“Particularly if we want a soloist to perform.

“This new digital piano will make such a difference and the great thing about it being based at Oceans Church is that other community groups can use it too.”

The new digital grand piano is a gift from Albany accountancy firm Lincolns, who had the instrument in storage.

Lincolns partner Craig Anderson was happy to see the piano go to community use.

“It’s better than it sitting and collecting dust!” he laughed.

Ms Findlay said tickets to the June 22 concert commencing at 7.30pm would include a light supper, and proceeds would go to YouthCARE Albany programs.

Adults are $22, concession $18, children aged six to 17 $8, and children under five are free.

Tickets are available at the door or online via trybooking.com

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Dancers form Floyd choir

A GROUP of Albany dancers will take part in the upcoming Echoes of Pink Floyd tribute concert when it rolls into town on July 6.

Students from Twilight Dreams will form the Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 choir and sing alongside the tribute band during the chorus of the song.

Twilight Dreams owner Anyes Icher said her dancers were excited to participate in the performance.

“I think they chose dance students rather than singing or music students because my dance students are motivated to be theatrical,” she said.

“And that’s what they [tribute band] want – they want drama and a bit of attitude.”

The Pink Floyd tribute concert will feature the entirety of the original band’s iconic album The Wall, and be headlined by singer Matt Goodluck, guitarist Daniel Hunter, drummer Jason Miller, bassist Mark Dole, Paul Bindig on keyboards and synthesisers, and Mark MacNab on rhythm and acoustic guitar.

Hunter said each member of the band loved and respected what the original Pink Floyd gave to the world with their music.

“We want to bring this to life for the audience who may not have had a chance to experience a Pink Floyd concert, or wish to relive memories from their youth,” he said.

“We aim to ensure every aspect of the original Pink Floyd music is captured authentically.”

Echoes of Pink Floyd will perform The Wall tribute concert on July 6 at the Albany Entertainment Centre.

Tickets are available online or at the entertainment centre’s box offic

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Unravelling stigma of death

DENMARK workshop facilitators James Gentle and Ruth Maddren hope their upcoming wool and timber-based activities at Albany’s Vancouver Arts Centre will provide people with a safe space to talk about death.

The Unravelling, The Last Loop and Bed Beneath The Earth will take place over three weekends in June and July and the creations from those workshops will be showcased in the final exhibition Permission to Die.

It’s all part of Dying to Know Day which aims to stimulate conversation and reduce the stigma surrounding death, dying and bereavement.

“There’s multiple stages to the project,” Gentle explained.

“The Unravelling will see people dismantling knitted woolen clothes, they will then use that material to crochet flowers in The Last Loop which form part of the final installation, and then they will be helping to construct a coffin in Bed Beneath The Earth.”

Maddren said the creative element of the workshops should help alleviate any stress or pressure felt when talking about a sometimes-uncomfortable topic.

“I think it’s important for people to come together when they have a difficult discussion such as about death, but they can be distracted by busy hands,” she said.

“If they don’t want to make eye contact with someone, that’s okay; they can sit in silence or they can just speak every now and then.

“We’re not intending to give a lecture on the right way to die or deal with death; we’re merely creating a space so people can share their stories.”

The pair remained tightlipped on the content of the final exhibition Permission to Die but did reveal how the workshop creations would come together.

“It will be in three different parts and be interactive,” Gentle said of the exhibition.

“The crochet flowers will be on the coffin and the coffin will be there so people can ‘try out’ death – they can lay in the coffin and take a picture of themselves in it.

“This is quite a confronting thing for some people, but death is something that is going to happen to all of us, so it’s important we talk about what things we’ll need, like emotional support.”

“We just hope people will feel like they have permission to explore the rituals we have with death, like the coffin and sitting in a room, because usually, the only time we do is when we’re grieving,” Maddren added.

“This is an unusual opportunity to experience it.

“I know even with my experiences with cemeteries and death – my grandfather was a grave digger and gardener – I know I have blockages when it comes to talking about this, so I hope people can find peace and resolution in our project.”

Gentle and Maddren said the project and exhibition was open to all ages but children must be accompanied by an adult.

The Unravelling will be held at Albany Public Library on June 22 from 1-4pm and at Vancouver Arts Centre annex on June 23 from 1-4pm.

The Last Loop will take place at Albany Public Library on June 29, 1- 4pm and at Vancouver Arts Centre annex on June 30, 1-4pm.

Bed Beneath The Earth will be held at Vancouver Arts Centre annex on July 6 and 7, 1-4pm.

All workshops are free, and RSVPs are encouraged but are not compulsory.

RSVPs can be made via Vancouver Arts Centre.

Permission to Die will exhibit in August.

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Snapshots of history

THE history of Indigenous families in the Great Southern will be pictorially displayed at Vancouver Arts Centre from tomorrow in celebration of NAIDOC Week.

Averil Dean and her son, Lindsay gave the Weekender a sneak peek at the exhibition prior to the opening on June 14 and were excited to set everything up.

Photos in the Voice Treaty Truth exhibition include images from Ms Dean’s childhood alongside photos taken by Australian anthropologist Norman Tindale, who in 1939 documented various Indigenous families in the region, their cultural habits and tribal groupings.

Dr Tindale’s image collection includes photos of Ms Dean’s grandparents, Lily Toorlijan Williams and Eddie Womber Williams.

“I think this exhibition has been a long time coming,” Ms Dean said.

“It tells the real story from our point of view, and how we saw what was happening.”

“It’s interesting; people want to know the truth now about this somewhat dark history,” Mr Dean added.

There are nearly 30 images in the exhibition that capture snapshots of Indigenous history, including Indigenous experiences in missions and the effects of the Stolen Generation.

“This is our history, of all the Aboriginal families in this area,” Mr Dean said.

“It tells the real story.”

Local history coordinator for the City of Albany Sue LeFroy added that the pictorial records were “powerful representations of the past”.

“They give families a voice,” she said.

“Seeing the Tindale images alongside and incorporated with family photographs of past generations tackles dark history head on; it is an exhibition of parallel histories, encapsulating the resilience of a family, a people and a culture – a story of survival which is meaningful to us all.”

Voice Treaty Truth will be on display at Vancouver Arts Centre from June 14 to July 18.

This year, NAIDOC Week will be celebrated from July 7 to 14.

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Chorus dancer call

DENMARK choreographer Annette Carmichael is seeking 200 women over the age of 14 to create her final dance performance in The Beauty Index trilogy.

Carmichael hopes to bring women together from Denmark, Bunbury, Mandurah, Ravensthorpe, Perth and Albany for the project and perform it over the March long weekend in 2020.

She told the Weekender that Chorus would highlight the need for violence against women to stop and hoped her performance would reignite conversations about it.

“Talking about violence against women is known to be a key ingredient in prevention,” Carmichael said.

“In the past, this topic was hidden behind shame and ‘private’ family business, but now we can talk about it with more frankness and compassion.

“Chorus will reveal the strength and solidarity of women and symbolically reclaim the power that was historically held by women.

“Through the process of creating this original dance work with 200 women, we are also creating new social networks and new friendships that will add another layer of support for women.”

Carmichael described Chorus as “epic” in scale, as it will be performed in a “large amphitheatre wrapped in eucalyptus trees”.

Denmark composer James Gentle will create the musical composition and Albany artists Kevin Draper and Indra Geidans will bring their black and white sculptures as props.

Carmichael encouraged interested ladies to attend ‘taster’ workshops coming up soon and reiterated that women of all abilities could join.

“In Denmark, women can choose from three groups, Gentle, Active and Core,” she explained.

“The Gentle group involves simple gestural movements and formation walking; the Active group is for women who can only commit to a workshop once a week but want a strong physical experience and; the Core group is for those wanting an intense experience both creatively and physically and are willing to commit to twice-weekly sessions.

“In Albany, women can participate in the project via a week of rehearsals that happen in the July school holidays, followed by eight additional sessions in the lead up to the performance in 2020.”

Carmichael promised she would make everyone look “incredible, no matter what your past experience or physical capacity”.

She is hosting the taster workshops in Albany at Vancouver Arts Centre on June 8 and 9, and at Denmark Civic Centre on June 15 and 16.

“It’s best to come to both days of the taster workshops,” Carmichael said.

“If you live in Albany but can’t make the Albany taster, please come to the Denmark tasters and vice versa.”

Head to www.chorus.annettecarmichael.com.au to register your interest.

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Sensory journey out of this world

MULTI-SENSORY theatre performance Whoosh! is open to the public at the Albany Entertainment Centre next week for one show only after its eight other shows completely sold out to local primary schools.

Whoosh! is the brainchild of Perth group Sensorium Theatre and is designed for children with disabilities.

The set of the show allows participants to touch, taste, smell and feel the story unfolding around them – they must work as a team with the characters of the production to fix a crashed spaceship so it can return to Earth.

It is suitable for children aged five to 10 years, including those with multiple and complex needs and those on the autism spectrum, and is wheelchair-friendly.

Co-artistic directors Francis Italiano and Michelle Hovane described Whoosh! as the Theatre’s most “ambitious production to date” and were keen to bring it to Albany.

“Sensorium Theatre always brings our audiences right into our stage settings with us, but with Whoosh! we wanted to bring them into being part of the actual story,” Mr Italiano said.

“When past audiences suggested we explore outer space, we started dreaming up a story world where technology could help them really feel part of a spaceship crew, so that we could all take the journey of our imaginations together,” Ms Hovane added.

The 60-minute theatre experience will be held on June 15 at 10.30am and tickets can be purchased online or at the entertainment centre’s box office.

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