Wonderland at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image

I had never pondered the influence of Lewis Carroll’s stories, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871). This left me completely unprepared for Wonderland, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image’s latest Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition. The enormous influence of young Alice and her strange world of bizarre anthropomorphic creatures on the large and small screen documented in this exhibition is a revelation.

My review of Wonderland is live and can be read in full here on the Australian Book Review Arts Update site.

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Pulp Friday: The Riot

I am rather partial to a good paperback movie tie-in. And I love Pan paperbacks. So this book from 1969, which I had never previously seen before stumbling across it in a second hand bookshop this week, presses all the right buttons.

The Riot, the only novel credit I have been able to find for Frank Elli, was first published in 1966. It is the story of a cynical con who finds himself thrown into the centre of a brutal hostage situation when the prison he is incarcerated in, erupts in a riot. Apparently the novel was based on an actual riot in an Arizona prison in which Elli, a former inmate of the prison, had been involved in. Kirkus Review called it ‘powerful storytelling. It’s a brutal, black vision in which the cynical despair is offset by a cool, shrug shouldered presentation.’ That doesn’t sound too bad.

It was filmed as Riot in 1969 by Buzz Kulik, a director who appears to have spent most of his career doing television, starring Jim Brown in the main role, and Gene hackman. As was often the case with prison films in the 1960s and 1970s, the production utilised real life prison inmate and staff at the Yuma Territorial Prison that it was filmed in.… Read more

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Nothing but one big shill

Okay, you best all be warned, the following post is one giant shill, mostly on behalf of yours truly.

I am flat out at the moment with the third year of my PhD, so I am finding it hard to make the time to post as much as I would like on my various cultural obsessions, film noir, crime fiction and pulp. That said I still have a lot going on.

First up, this coming Friday, May 4, from 7pm, I’ll be taking part in the first of what will be a series of free events run by my local bookstore, the wonderful Brunswick Bound, in which authors will be reading from the opening chapter of the their current work. This one has a crime theme and there’ll be four of us reading, including me doing a section from Gunshine State, which was re-released earlier this year by Down and Out Books. So, if you are inner Melbourne north way this Friday and feel like hearing some words and drinking some wine, drop on down, 361 Sydney Road Brunswick.

The second incarnation of Gunshine State has been getting a bit of love recently, the best of which is this review of the site of Canberra based blogger and writer, Tim Nappertime.… Read more

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Pre-orders open for my monograph on Norman Jewison’s 1975 film, Rollerball

My monograph on Norman Jewison’s 1975 dystopian science fiction film, Rollerball, something I have been working on for the last couple of years, now has a cover and will soon be in the world via Constellations imprint of the independent film and media studies publisher, Auteur.

This is the first semi-academic publication I have written and I am excited but also a little nervous about how it is going to be received.

Rollerball depicts a future dominated by anonymous corporations and their executive elite, in which all individual effort and aggressive emotions are subsumed into a horrifically violent global sport, remains critically overlooked. What little has been written deals mainly with its place within the renaissance of Anglo-American science fiction cinema in the 1970s, or focuses on the elaborately shot, still visceral to watch, game sequences, so realistic they briefly gave rise to speculation Rollerball may become an actual sport.

Drawing on numerous sources, including little examined documents in the archive of the film’s screenwriter William Harrison,the book examines the many dimensions of Rollerball’s making and reception: the way it simultaneously exhibits the aesthetics and narrative tropes of mainstream action and art-house cinema; the elaborate and painstaking process of world creation undertaken by Jewison and Harrison; and the cultural forces and debates that influenced them, including the increasing corporate power and growing violence in Western society in late 1960s and early 1970s.… Read more

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10 great Australian crime films

To mark the addition of Ivan Sen’s 2016 film, Goldstone, to BFI Player, I was asked to write on 10 great Australian crime films. The piece is live and can be read in full on the BFI site here.

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