Unique masterpiece makes movie history

LEGENDARY South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho made history on Monday when his hit flick Parasite became the first foreign language film to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture.

Bong’s extraordinary achievement at the 92nd Academy Awards capped off a throng of accolades the film has received this award season and is elevated further when considering the behemoths he was up against.

Scorsese’s three-and-a-half hour gangster opus The Irishman, Tarantino’s ever-subversive Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and Noah Baumbach’s incredibly realised Marriage Story fell short of Bong’s latest due to one inarguable truth: we knew what to expect.

That is not so much a critique of any of these films, all of which were some of the best put out by their respective auteurs in years, but a resounding endorsement of Bong’s latest.

Parasite is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Described in some circles as a dark comedy, others as a mystery/ thriller, and elsewhere yet as something akin to a capitalistic horror, the 2019 film is difficult to present cleanly.

Its eclecticism makes it frustrating to talk about, in large part because to ruin even one of the numerous twists and surprise tonal shifts that riddle its runtime could be regarded as a moviegoer’s cardinal sin.

Suffice to say, the film succeeds in merging these aforementioned genres in a way that ensures you never quite know where you’re going.

The simple premise is this; a family, clinging to the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder in South Korea’s capital of Seoul, find themselves in the employ of their far wealthier counterparts by way of luck.

An unexpected discovery, and the word ‘unexpected’ cannot be stated enough, soon threatens their shot at financial stability.

That’s it. That’s all I can say.

Parasite is buoyed by some incredible performances by Kang-ho Song, an acting titan in South Korea comparable in prestige to Al Pacino, Woo-sik Choi and So-dam Park.

The visuals are sharp, the score suits perfectly, and the script and dialogue, which shifts between Korean and occasionally English, is witty, realistic and memorable.

While the subtitle averse might find the idea of a foreign language film daunting, Parasite does not feel inaccessible in the slightest.

Bong has a proven history of merging the world of Western cinema with its Asian equivalent, having directed cross cultural crowd pleasers like 2013’s Snowpiercer and Okja four years later.

Much like these films, Parasite explores themes relevant and familiar to audiences across the globe, and is likely to strike a chord with almost everyone because of it.

It serves as a biting dissection of class struggle and income inequality, as well as a morally-challenging exploration of the lengths we will go to in order to make a life for our loved ones.

It’s funny. It’s clever. It’s brutal and unnerving and immensely satisfying, and hands-down the right choice for Best Picture this year.

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Film festival dives in deep

AUDIENCES at the Ocean Film Festival coming to Albany this month will witness the wonders of the big blue deep from the comfort of a theatre seat.

Coming to the Albany Entertainment Centre on February 26, the Ocean Film Festival will showcase a selection of short films spanning from the North Pole to the South Pacific.

These films from around the globe document the beauty and power of the ocean and celebrate the divers, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers who live for the sea’s salt spray, who chase the crests of waves and who marvel at the mysteries of the big blue.

Each of the festival’s films conveys a deep respect and appreciation for the world’s oceans and the creatures that call them home.

A Corner of the Earth starring professional surfer Fraser Dovell explores his surfing during the brutal northern winters.

Swimming With Gentle Giants highlights wildlife photographer Scott Portelli’’s documentation and capturing of humpback whale behaviour in Tonga.

Deep Sea Polynesia shows a team of divers exploring the South Pacific’s coral during dives of up to 150m of previously unexplored waters.

You can secure your tickets to the event via the entertainment centre’s website – albanyentertainment.com.au – or at the box office.

The festival’s carefully curated selection of films will light up silver screens in 29 towns and cities.

Visit the Ocean Film Festival Australia Facebook page for updates and under sea tasters.

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Albany stars in ‘rare’ film

DON’T be deterred by the cheesy trailer and poster thinking that H is for Happiness – filmed entirely in Albany – is just another kids film.

A recent reviewer of the movie described it as “rare” type of cinema and I’m obliged to agree.

When I sat down with dozens of extras and contributors for the first Albany screening last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I had spoken with the producers and actors about the movie for previous news stories published here, but I was still quite in the dark about it all.

What I saw was certainly not what I expected.

As a kid, seeing kids being the main protagonist in a movie was always pretty cool, because hey, that could be you on-screen.

As a teen and as a 20-something, seeing kids as the protagonist could be slightly painful to watch – the at-times annoying overacting, predictable dialogue and the disconnect you felt from the character due to age difference.

Daisy Axon, the lead of H is for Happiness, managed to completely dispel all of these things in her tween character Candice Phee.

Candice is full of cute, unapologetic quirks and exudes optimism to keep a positive front for her family, but not so painfully as to cause the audience to dislike her.

You can’t help but empathise and sympathise with her youthful disappointment in her family’s disconnect caused by a tragedy, as well as see what Candice does not fully understand – the pains of depression, loss, broken relationships, financial strain and all of those adult things.

But one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie is that these big issues are not forced down your throat to teach you a lesson; they are quietly ticking in the background.

It is true to how a young person sees the world – they see the problem but might not see the full picture.

Candice is everything that everyone should be; someone who is kind, non-judgmental, accepting and unflinching in her care for others.

Axon’s performance as Candice is truly beautiful.

It’s the subtleties of this movie that make it so great and the young actors who hold themselves with ease.

You almost don’t notice the big names of Richard Roxburgh, Joel Jackson, Deborah Mailman and Miriam Margolyes, because Axon and Wesley Patten – Candice’s counterpart in the other lead role of Douglas – don’t need their support.

These two young actors have a beautiful, delicate, innocent yet insightful relationship and chemistry on-screen that I am yet to see in cinema.

And it is because of this that sets H is For Happiness apart from any family movie I’ve ever seen.

Certainly a film the whole family can enjoy and take something away from.

Plus, seeing Albany in a movie is pretty cool.

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Bishop ordains comedy festival

FORMER Albany resident Rose Bishop has well and truly made the big time in comedy, performing in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for the past two years and now, she’s bringing the show back home.

The Breast of the Fest is a female-only line-up of comedians coming to the Albany Entertainment Centre on February 8.

Bishop and a group of friends put the show together in 2018 “just for an excuse” to do a show in the Comedy Festival and have since roped in names like Celia Pacquola and Claire Hooper to headline.

Bishop said she stumbled into comedy as a career purely by chance while living in Melbourne.

“I made a new friend at a party and she’d just started doing stand-up, so I started tagging along to her gigs for moral support and just out of curiosity and realised that there are heaps of places in Melbourne to just try it out and sometimes be bad at it,” she said.

“I’ve always had pretty bad stage fright, but I also love a challenge, so I just gave it a bash and started doing open mic spots.

“I was 31 the first time I got on stage, which is pretty late compared to most comedians, but I’m glad I didn’t start when I was younger because I’m much more resilient these days.

“Performing can be pretty brutal at times.”

Despite still dealing with the odd spat of stage fright, Bishop said she abso- lutely loves what she does.

“I’ve always been a writer in some form or other, and I’ve always been impatient, and the thing I really love about stand-up is that you can have a vague idea on the tram in the morning, write it into dot points on your lunch break, then get up at an open mic night after work and riff around the idea and expand on the bits people are laughing at and boom – you’ve written a joke,” she said.

“It’s so immediate.

“The comedy scene is just so fun.

“I mean, it’s an excuse to hang around in bars with your mates on weeknights, laughing heaps.

“What’s not to love?”

While she’s home, Bishop will make some much-needed visits to favourite people and places.

“My most important stop in Albany is always and forever Gull Rock beach,” she said.

“We’ve been going there as a family since I was tiny, and it’s probably my favourite place on earth.

“I’m also always stoked to catch up with my friend Shannon who I went to ASHS with and who’s moved back to Albany now and is always down for a wine and a good long chat; love you, Shanners.”

Bishop encouraged fellow Albanians to come along to the February 8 show and give the February 7 open mic night at Six Degrees a chance.

“We’d love to see heaps of friendly faces at our show,” she said.

“We’re used to performing in dingy Melbourne pubs so it’s all very exciting and fancy and we’re going to try very hard not to disgrace ourselves.”

Tickets to The Breast of the Fest are on sale now via albanyentertainment.com.au and people keen on the Six Degrees open mic night can register on the event’s Facebook page.

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Focus on Antarctica

TWO Albany scientists who each spent time in Antarctica studying viruses, bacteria and krill will discuss their experiences and stories at a panel talk next week.

Talking Antarctica will commence at 5.30pm on February 7 at the Museum of the Great Southern and feature Dr Harriet Paterson and Dr Jacqui Foster.

Dr Foster visited the frozen continent for five weeks in the 2004/2005 season and again for 11 weeks in the summer of 2005/2006.

Her interest in studying Antarctica piqued from her grandfather’s involvement in an Antarctic voyage when he was a parliamentarian in the 1970s.

“The first voyage was when I was a volunteer for CSIRO Marine, taking water samples for studying the chemical composition of deep ocean waters,” Dr Foster said.

“For the second voyage, I went as a krill biologist for the Australian Antarctic Division to undertake sampling of krill swarms, to provide biomass estimates to the international commission that regulates krill fishing in Antarctic waters, as well as conduct various studies into krill biology.”

She said the time away from her family was difficult but that it was fantastic to work with world-class scientists.

“It’s great to be able to raise awareness of the realities of what it takes to operate in Antarctic conditions to collect invaluable scientific data to support policy makers,” Dr Foster said of Talking Antarctica.

Dr Paterson completed the first full annual cycle study of sea ice in Antarctica in 2008.

She was there to study viruses and bacteria and as a result, published two papers on her research.

Instead of working from a ship like Dr Foster, Dr Paterson was based on land at Davis Station.

Isolation was one of the challenges she faced, and she has a great story to tell about that.

Dr Paterson was with one other person when she went out into the field to collect samples.

There was an issue with the equipment, so her associate headed back to the station to fix the problem.

She was all alone.

You can hear the rest if you go to the talk.

The cost of the panel talk is $10 per person or $20 if you wish to view the virtual reality documentary Antarctica Experience prior to the discussions.

RSVP to 9841 4844 or by emailing greatsouthern@museum.wa.gov. au

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Novel idea features local writers

NEARLY a quarter of a new fiction book released this month was written by a group of Albany and Denmark authors.

Once: A selection of short short stories was published on January 18 and features stories written by Matt Beamish, Yann Toussaint, Ellie Fisher, Mark Hackleton, Rachel Isaacson, Izzy Mead and Bronwyn Jones.

The book was created by Perth-based Night Parrot Press who put the call out to authors last year to submit their flash fiction, micro fiction and hybrid fiction.

These genres constrain the author to writing no more than 500 words – to give you an idea, this news story is just under 300 words.

There will be a celebration at Six Degrees tonight from 5-7pm to commemorate the launch of the book, as well as a Flash Fiction Workshop on Saturday, February 1.

Night Parrot Press editors and publishers Laura Keenan and Linda Martin will teach people how to write big stories in less than 500 words.

“We feel a particular affinity for Albany; there’s such a talented pool of writers there, and a very supportive and enthusiastic literary community,” Keenan said.

“There is already so much great fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction that comes out of Albany and now it’s really exciting to be able to work with another genre – flash fiction.

“Flash fiction continues to gain momentum in WA and the rest of Australia, but it’s still a relatively new form, so we’re hoping to share its charms and challenges through workshops like these and future publications and readings.”

The Flash Fiction Workshop will be held at UWA Albany from 9.30am to noon and is a ticketed event.

Interested people can book online at nightparrotpress.com


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Rock royalty at Castelli Estate

CHART-TOPPING musicians are headlining the upcoming Days of Summer concert at Denmark’s Castelli Estate.

Jebediah, British India, Gyroscope, Bodyjar and Dallas Crane will make the trip down south on February 29 to kickstart the Labour Day long weekend.

Gates open at 4pm so prepare yourself for a big night of dancing, singing and rocking out.

Jebediah consists of lead guitarist Chris Daymond, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Kevin Mitchell, bassist Vanessa Thornton and drummer Brett Mitchell.

The band returned from its 2005 hiatus in 2010 to release their fifth studio album, which charted in the ARIA’s top 10.

British India continues the alternative rock vibe with their high energy, melodic danceable rhythms.

The four-piece has released six albums and has reached the top five in the ARIA album charts as well as having eight songs listed in Triple J’s Hottest 100.

Multiple WA Music Industry Award winner Daniel Sanders heads Gyroscope, a group also familiar with Triple J’s Hottest 100.

The Perth band formed in 1997 as Gyroscope Sunday and has since released four studio albums.

Victorian band Bodyjar will bring the pop punk to the party with some of their latest and greatest.

Like Jebediah, they took a short hiatus from 2009-2012 and slammed back onto the music scene with an album and corresponding tour.

Alternative rock group Dallas Crane wraps up the line-up for the 2020 Days of Summer concert.

They won big at the Australian Live Music Awards, taking out Best Live Band, and their critically-acclaimed, highest charting single Sit on My Knee with Jimmy Barnes was in the top 40 in 2005.

Tickets to the February 29 show are available now through Ticketmaster.

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Waif wanders in, guitar in hand

FOR those lucky listeners tuned into our radio station Gold MX on Tuesday morning, there was a surprise live performance from Albany’s own The Waifs singer Vikki Thorn.

The band – comprised of Thorn, sister Donna Simpson and Josh Cunningham – is in town for a concert on Saturday at the Albany Entertainment Centre.

Gold MX listeners were treated to Thorn’s singing and guitar playing of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and a new composition she has been working on.

The Bob Dylan classic was the first song she ever learned to play.

“Donna borrowed a book from the ASHS school library for a couple of years, it was Bob Dylan’s song book,” Thorn reminisced with Gold MX broadcaster Sam Haell.

“She left it laying around so I picked it up and that was the first song I learned.

“Then about three years ago, we came to Albany for a gig and a friend of ours had the book!

“And it was still stamped with the ASHS school library stamp.”

But the real bookend to this story, Thorn says, is the fact that The Waifs got to tour with Dylan himself.

“We had 30 dates through America and on the last night, he got us up to sing Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door with him,” she said.

“I had this incredible moment onstage … Bob Dylan’s right next to us and I had this moment of remembering how I picked up the guitar and played those chords and it all came rushing back to me and I thought, here I am, standing next to Bob Dylan. It was very, very cool.”

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Formal chinwag to last a lifetime

PERTH theatre platform Barefaced Stories is bringing a familiar yet new type of interactive experience to Albany this weekend for four days.

The Chin Wagon will roll into town on Sunday at the Albany Entertainment Centre and remain in situ until Wednesday, January 22.

It will offer people the chance to participate in The Story Exchange, a free interview session between two people that can last a lifetime – The Chin Wagon is a mobile story studio where people can interview a loved one and share a story with them, and it will be recorded.

Conversations will be based around love and loss.

“When we take the time to ask someone about their life, the things they’ve been through, highs and lows, and listen closely back to the stories they share, remarkable things can happen,” Producer Andrea Gibbs said.

“Sometimes they share stories we’ve never heard of before or we gain new insights into those we have, bringing us a greater understanding of who they really are.

“So much can be learned by the stories we have and the relationships we have shared.”

The Story Exchange interview is 40 minutes of conversation with someone you know and care about – a partner, a friend, a family member, a teacher or even a work colleague.

The Chin Wagon team will guide you through how to interview them, ask the right questions and listen closely so that your partner will respond in the best way possible, speaking from the heart.

The final conversation will be sent to participants in an audio package.

“Ask your grandfather, ‘What was the happiest moment of your life, Pop?’, or your mother, ‘Mum, what do you remember about the day I was born?’, or your brother, ‘Was there a time when you didn’t like me?’,” Ms Gibbs said.

“Choose just one person to come along with you and we’ll help you figure out a great list of questions for them.”

To take part in The Story Exchange inside The Chin Wagon, interviewers need to be available to attend a free workshop this Saturday, 10.30am to 12.30pm at the Albany Entertainment Centre, then book in for a recording session and attend at your designated time.

Sessions are offered on the hour between 11am and 6pm.

Bookings can be made online at barefacedstories.com.au/the-chin-wagon/2020-albany-stop

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Players fired up for fundraiser

IN ANOTHER show of community generosity during the devastating nationwide bushfires, Plantagenet Players amateur theatre group is hosting a fundraiser show at the end of the month.

All Fired Up! will play for one night only on January 31 at Plantagenet District Hall to raise money for the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association of WA.

All proceeds from the show will go to the association.

Co-producers Charmaine Gadenne and Helen Jeffery said a Facebook post initiated the idea.

“People were looking for somewhere to donate and to make sure the funds go to where they need to go,” Gadenne said.

“And as a community group, like everyone else, we just want to help those who’ve suffered.”

The variety show will commence at 7.30pm and feature snippets of song, dance and comedy skits and sketches from previous Plantagenet Players shows.

However, seating will not be in the tradition table style.

“We’re using the tiered theatre-style seating, because we want to jam as many people in there as possible to raise as much money as we can in one night,” Gadenne said.

“But the canteen will still be open with lots of yummy treats and there will be tea, coffee and soft drinks available for sale.

“And it’s not BYO this time – it’s an alcohol-free event.”

Gadenne revealed that Tribal Thunder belly dancing group would be popping in for a performance and that the finale would have a “nice little surprise” for the audience.

Tickets are just $15 for the show and can be purchased from Mt Barker Newsagency on Lowood Road or via phone: 9851 1034.

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