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Games
GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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Toons
ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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Toons
ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Stranger Than Paradise DVD box Stranger Than Paradise. DVD Review

Another Jarmusch flick from Madman's Director's Suite Label

Publisher: Director's Suite, presented by Madman Entertainment

Mon, 16 January 2006

Sammy by: Hillelman

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I saw Jim Jarmusch's latest film, Broken Flowers (starring Bill Murray, in superb form) a few weeks ago and I absolutely loved it. The timing of that tied in well too, because Madman recently sent me this DVD of one of Jim's earliest features- Stranger Than Paradise.

As per usual from me, here's the plot synopsis from the back of the DVD case:

Strange Than Paradise follows the adventures of Willie (John Lurie) and his best friend Eddie (Richard Edson) - a couple of small time gamblers disenchanted with their lives. After a visit from his pretty Hungarian cousin, Eva (Eszter Balint), Willie at first rejects this unwanted intrusion into his life. However, after an unexpectedly large poker win, the trio sets off on an unforgettable road trip through the wastelands of Cleveland to the sunshine and blue skies of Florida and from misfortune, to fortune and back.

Stranger Than Paradise DVD screenshot 1
Hats are cool
I described Jarmusch's Dead Man as an acquired taste that wouldn't suit everyone. Well, Stranger Than Paradise is an even more appropriate candidate to be placed in that category (another thing the two films have in common is that they are both filmed in black & white).

The characters are developed more in the way they speak and act with each other, rather than what happens to them (at least up until about three quarters of the way towards the end). Stranger Than Paradise's 3 acts feel a bit like distinct "episodes"- which might partially be explained by the fact that this was originally intended as a 30 minute short film. All of Stranger's scenes are done in a one shot take and the whole thing moves much slower than a typical flick. It was all filmed sequentially (with live sound) too, which is a pretty rare way of going about things.

Willie has long since decided to be a "real" American and he prefers to ignore his Hungarian heritage. At first he considers Eva to be a burden and does not like having her around. Eventually though, she seems to awaken his softer side and remembering his roots helps him realise that he's leading a very shallow existence. His easy going mate Eddie, on the other hand, takes an instant liking to Eva- you can see his eyes light up every time he speaks to, or about, her. Eva herself is quite a charming young lady; she has a subtle wit and a curiously unorthodox nature about her. All three of the principal actors do a very convincing job with their roles.

Stranger Than Paradise is essentially a comedy with some minor dramatic aspects. This is yet another of the movies I've reviewed where I would have to say that its style of humour, and the film as a whole, is not of the mainstream variety, therefore not everyone is going to find it amusing. It might be hard going for those with short attention spans. There's no falling over, explosions, catch phrases, titties, dick or fart jokes, or big shiny things (not that I have anything against any of that stuff).

I'm not setting out to be some kind of ambassador of the alternative, or anything like that; it is really just the luck of the draw. In other words, I just review what they send me. But, since I generally do prefer my comedy to presented in a less obvious fashion (basically, about the opposite of what Jay Leno or Rove McManus do), that works out pretty well, from my perspective. The comedy here is understated and it stems from the words the characters say and how they re-act to things.

Not a whole lot really happens in this story either. I suppose that makes it a bit closer to real life, only these people are a bit odder than your average folks. It largely just focuses on the three main characters talking to each other (or occasionally to someone else), with nothing in particular going on. For that reason some viewers will undoubtedly find it boring and I wouldn't begrudge them that- Stranger Than Paradise's appeal relies heavily on how engaging you find the characters and dialogue. You ought to stick it out until the finish though, as the ending is very clever and sort of brings it all together in a surprising and entertaining way. Also, once you know the outcome, you should revisit the movie and see if all starts to click more with you than it did on first viewing.

The picture is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and it looks fine, though since it was a low budget movie to begin with, the quality is not particularly outstanding. It is very visually interesting though, with some artistic use of shadows and angles- none of that has been lost on DVD. The same could be said of the sound quality, it is about as good as you could expect from a mono mix. There's no real soundtrack though, save for Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You"- a song Eva is obsessed with (and Willie hates), that fittingly serves as the movie's "theme song".

The DVD extras aren't worth mentioning, this is a "bare bones" job all the way.

Stranger Than Paradise DVD screenshot 2
U2 were much more sombre during the "Joshua Tree" era
While not my personal favourite Jim Jarmusch film (that'd still be Dead Man, though I suspect Broken Flowers is going to become a big contender after a few more viewings), I do like Stranger Than Paradise a great deal. I had the possible advantage of approaching the movie with a keen desire to get the most out of it- because I was already a fan of some of Jarmusch's other work.

And also, I remember Roger Ebert giving it a good review (in fact, the four star rating and quote "A treasure from one end to the other" from Ebert's review is printed on the front of the Stranger Than Paradise DVD case). Ebert is one of the few film critics I pay much attention to and I'll usually check out anything he recommends. Otherwise, I can't honestly say whether or not I'd have come to enjoy this movie as much as I do. I guess all I'm trying to say is- give it a real chance and see how you go.


by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman




If you have the patience to allow it to do its thing, Stranger Than Paradise is a great movie. If you're new to Jarmusch's work, I'd suggest checking out Broken Flowers and Dead Man first- if you like those, you'll probably like this too.

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Toons
ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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Toons
ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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Toons
ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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