Comedy

Why you need to watch Inside Out

Let me put it out there straight away – I am an Amy Poehler fan.

tumblr_n1kig7ck7D1qayeymo5_500

So there’s already a certain amount of bias from me before I even went to see the new Disney/Pixar animated flick Inside Out.

The emotions of 11-year-old Riley in Inside Out

The emotions of 11-year-old Riley in Inside Out

As expected, this sweet flick about the five emotions (Joy, Fear, Disgust, Sadness and Anger) inside an 11-year-old girl’s head, made me sob, guffaw, sob and reminisce about my own childhood. And sob. Did I mention that? This is a real doozy with switching on the waterworks. Which is also expected, considering it’s co-directed by Pete Doctor, who wrote and co-directed that other beautiful tearjerker Up.

But it’s also not just an intelligent, thought-provoking children’s movie. Inside Out is much more than that.

It’s a movie every child and adult should watch as an important lesson in mental health.

In Inside Out, Poehler voices the blue-haired, pixie-looking emotion Joy. No surprises there, considering the ever-optimistic attitude of many of Poehler’s characters, including Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation.

The always-positive Leslie Knope

The always-positive Leslie Knope

 

But Inside Out teaches us it’s not healthy to just have one emotion dominating all the time, as Poehler pointed out in this interview with The Guardian:

Joy and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith)

Joy and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith)

“I feel no one can be Joy all the time (and) I think the film reminds us that we have all the feelings and emotions running through our head,” she said.

“Joy has a really great arc in the film. She goes from thinking, she’s very single minded and thinking that happiness is the number one pursuit, to realising she needs to work with Sadness to get anywhere and she herself gets sad for the first time.”

Happiness seems to be the sole goal of our modern society, but to be constantly happy is not realistic.  It makes it hard when social media demands we only ever present a shiny, positive image to others. But I’m always curious about what’s on the left and right of that frame – where the truth and realism lie.  Our experiences don’t ever have to be defined as one singular feeling. When we’re on a rollercoaster, we can be scared and excited. Sometimes we can be so mad or exasperated at someone, but then they make you laugh. And sometimes we’re sad – and we’re allowed to be.

tumblr_mux65qd1dE1r5c2fso1_250Sure this is all a bit deep for a children’s movie, but it’s still a message that seeps through in a fun, incredibly imaginative way in Inside Out. And it’s an important one, particularly for children today, who I believe are facing so many more challenges than I did at their age.

Children today face many challenges

Children today face many challenges

I didn’t have to worry about Facebook, or Instagram. I could go home and switch off. But in a world that is always buzzing, always online, always demanding interaction, I think education on mental health is necessary to ensure people lead balanced lives.

So Inside Out may not be the greatest animated movie I’ve ever seen, but I think it’s one of the most important.

Just remember to take tissues.

Inside Out gets two thumbs up

Inside Out gets two thumbs up

 

 

Why Netflix Will Change Everything

It’s happened. Netflix has finally launched Down Under, to much fanfare and scrutinisation.

Netflix-Australia

It’s the beginning of a new era in Australian home entertainment, as people around the nation bump up their download limits, and prep their couch cushions and eyeballs for the onslaught of top-notch television and movies.

It’s now been a week since the streaming service hit our various tablet, computer and television screens, and as an early adopter, I can already feel the change it’s had.

People like myself who used to hire movies frequently have lately been struggling, as one by one, all the local video shops have begun shutting up shop. Lately, iTunes and GooglePlay were the only options, but if you’re paying $5.99 for every new release and $3.99 for any weekly, it can quickly add up. There’s no 5 weeklies for $10 deals anymore.

watchnowBut with Netflix, and other streaming services such as Nine and Fairfax Media’s Stan and Seven and Foxtel’s Presto, basically for the price of what it used to cost to hire a single new release, you can now get an entire library of movies and TV shows. To put it into perspective, I bought the first nine episodes of Orange is the New Black Season (OITNB) 2, with each priced at $2.99, which in itself is already more than I am now paying to have both seasons, as well as the wealth of other content. But also frustratingly, despite the fact the entire season of OITNB was available in the US, I then had to wait week by week, until SBS had broadcast the show, to be able to watch another new episode.

Aussies won't be fighting to see shows at the same time as the US now

Aussies won’t be fighting to see shows at the same time as the US now

Thankfully, the arrival of Netflix heralds a new era when Australian’s aren’t forced to wait months longer than US audiences to gain access to series.

Sure, a lot of people have been whining about the disparity between the selection on Australian Netflix, which carries only 1,116 titles compared to the US version with 8,499. But there’s promises the Aussie figure will grow and really, do you think Netflix was going to lay all the cards on the table at the launch? They obviously have a game plan, to convince all the people down the track who don’t have the service to sign up.

I found it interesting and a bit naive of some financial experts to say Netflix and other streaming services are a waste of money – that there’s not enough original content and Australian users will max out their data limits.

HouseofCardsThe Australian consumer is not an idiot. Anyone that is thinking of signing up to a streaming service is surely going to look around and see which ones offer the shows or movies they like. Presto has Louie, Wentworth, Sons of Anarchy and Modern Family, while Stan boasts shows such as Transparent, Community and Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The beauty of streaming services is that you can switch between them every couple of months if you don’t need a lock-in contract. Certain services also offer deals with internet service providers and Stan, Foxtel Play and Netflix are giving you the option of a free trial to see if it suits you.

And frankly, what are our other options? If I want to see House of Cards Season 3 and don’t want to download it, what cheaper alternative is there.

While I doubt this will completely curb Australians’ seemingly insatiable appetite for downloading, I do think it will quench some of that thirst, because with streaming services, comes choice. We have a mass of content to choose from now and we can get it at the same time as the US, for a similar price.

That’s right, Australians might finally fork out some of their cash for content, isn’t of heading to their favourite bit-torrent website.

Will streaming services have an impact on piracy in Australia?

Will streaming services have an impact on piracy in Australia?

Where an issue will arise is when it comes to Game of Thrones, which will screen on Foxtel – and not on their streaming service. Most Australians don’t want to pay $25 a month to see a single show – even if Foxtel is trying to ease that harsh truth by promoting all the other stuff you get with a subscription. The problem is that consumers may not want 12 different channels. They want a single show and they want to watch it when they want, for a reasonable price. I believe that is where Foxtel is going to lose customers. If Foxtel were offering it on a streaming service, I would feel differently. For me, it means making the effort of going to the home of a friend or family member who have Foxtel, but I can guarantee others will not.

 

 

That Sugar Film

I was lucky enough in the past week to host five screening + Q&As for a new Aussie film that’s about to take the nation (and probably western world) by storm.
It’s called That Sugar Film and is directed by Damon Gameau, an Australian actor and filmmaker, who actually won Tropfest Short Film Festival back in 2011 with Animal Beatbox, to much online debate.

His new film is kind of like a Supersize Me, but with sugar. But instead of chowing down on Maccas everyday, Damon eats 40 teaspoons worth of sugar everyday for 60 days – and only through foods advertised as ‘healthy’. So no chocolate, ice-cream or lollies. Just cereals, low-fat yoghurts, pre-packaged stir fry sauces and the like.

The equivalent of how many teaspoons of sugar Damon ate every day

The equivalent of how many teaspoons of sugar Damon ate every day

It’s astonishing to a) see how easy it is to eat 40 teaspoons each day and b) see just how sick he becomes.

What also surprised me, is just how palatable (no pun intended) this film is. A lot of people don’t enjoy documentaries, because the stereotype is they can be dry and intensely factual. But while That Sugar Film might lose a bit of steam about three quarters in, it’s hugely entertaining and tremendous fun, considering we’re watching a guy torture his body with sugar for two months. In the screenings I was at, small children sat as mesmerised as their parents while watching Damon happily poke fun at himself and get people laughing – and learning – at the same time.

It’s definitely a flick that stays with you. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to look at cereal the same way.  And in fact, just today, in an effort to cut out some of the hidden sugars in my diet, I made some cottage cheese muffins so I wouldn’t reach for a chocolate pick-me-up. And after the shock-horror of seeing how much junk goes into wraps, I also whipped up a few homemade versions of them too.

Cottage cheese muffins from 101 Cookbooks

Cottage cheese muffins from 101 Cookbooks

That Sugar Film just got a limited run on screens here in Australia and it’s heading to cinemas around the world. Definitely worth seeing this doco, which packs a lot of food for thought. Just remember to skip the candy bar on your way – you’ve been warned!

 

 

This Is Where I Leave You (narrated with Tina Fey GIFs)

 

anigif_enhanced-buzz-30451-1394826897-5

When I first heard of This I Where I Leave You, it ticked all the boxes.

1. It stars Tina Fey and Adam Driver, amongst others, who are two people that can do no wrong in my mind (I’m obviously not biased at all). **

tumblr_n6auo1AraH1qb9jcko7_250

2. It is a dysfunctional family drama, which has equalled awesomeness in the past (Little Miss Sunshine is a personal fave).

3. I came across yet another excellent podcast by Elvis Mitchell for KCRW’s The Treatment, where he chatted to the director Shawn Levy and it amped me up more.

Getting excited

Getting excited

There was also the fact that it was selected to screen at Toronto, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but hey, Levy’s other films like Date Night weren’t, so it potentially said something about what kind of movie I was going to see.

Then I saw the trailer, which was pretty sigh-worthy. It looked a lot like The Family Stone and seemed determined not to really explain what the movie was about.

So I went into this flick, thinking it could go either way.

Unfortunately, however, it went with the former and was quite underwhelming.

Ok this is an exaggeration.. I was a little disappointed

Ok this is an exaggeration.. I was a little disappointed

It had its moments, but actually, what This Is Where I Leave You felt like, was more of a series of nice moments strung together.

It focuses on Jason Bateman’s Judd Altman, whose life has taken a big dump on any plans he might have had. After walking in on his boss sleeping with his wife, he finds out his father has died, and heads back to his family home, where he, his sister (Fey), mother (Jane Fonda) and two brothers (Driver and House of Cards’ Corey Stoll) must ‘sit shiva’ for a week.

Apparently it was his father’s dying wish for them to take part in the Jewish week-long mourning ritual, that in this case, traps five family members who rarely see each other in the same house for seven days, along with and their significant others and children.

tumblr_mm1levVrRY1qgt6uyo1_500

Of course, past issues and current issues, old flames, and all the drama that you expect bubbles to the surface, but more with a melancholy sigh, than with gusto. The only character I really felt anything for was Tina Fey’s Wendy, who has a heartbreaking storyline about an old boyfriend.

Liz-Lemon-what-is-the-deal

This Is Where I Leave You is sweet and sentimental, but not much more.

And with a cast of this calibre, I want to be leaving the cinema punching the air and planning my next trip to see it. Not walking out with a shrug.

** Just need a moment to rave about Adam Driver, who you probably recognise from the TV series GIRLS. The guy is a superb actor. He’s just so raw and unpredictable. If you haven’t seen him in Aussie film Tracks, stop reading this now and go watch it. BRILLIANT film.

Adam Driver in Tracks - a must-see Aussie film also starring Mia Wasikowska (Copyright The Weinstein Company 2014)

Adam Driver in Tracks – a must-see Aussie film (Copyright The Weinstein Company 2014)

And on a final note…. Just cause I can

Just cause I can