In the immortal words of El Guapo, it's fair to say Sydney film fans are treated to a “plethora” of cinema options. Golden Age Cinema is hands down one of the best. Possessing undeniable charm, this boutique screening room and intimate bar, make for somewhat of a magical viewing experience. On top of the yesteryear appeal, Golden Age maintains an excellent standard in terms of curation. There's something for everyone in the coming weeks.

The Ciao Europa! film series which screens as part of Saturday Date Nights and Sunday Matinees through January and February includes:

I am Love
The Talented Mr Ripley
A Bigger Splash
Before Sunrise
To Catch a Thief
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

A screening of We Don't Need a Map with a Q&A with Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton

Other must-see-films include:

I am not Your Negro
The Shape of Water
Killing of a Sacred Deer
Faces Places
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Mapplethorpe: look at the pictures
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

For more information head over to

Golden Age Cinema & Bar
Lower Ground Floor
Paramount House
80 Commonwealth Street
Surry Hills, Syndey

- Stu

The following contains spoilers for Red Rising, Harry Potter and Scrubs.


The series we must now refer to as the Red Rising Saga - as opposed to Trilogy - is the very definition of a mountain work: its peak is in the middle and its slopes are either side.

It starts simply enough: in a near-future dystopia, where society is ordered into a hierarchy of Colours, young Martian mining expert Darrow is a lowly Red. With his fellow labourers, Darrow mines valuable gas for the war fleets of the Golds, the top of humanity's new privilege pyramid. Having dreamed of toppling the hierarchy and bringing his downtrodden people up into the light, Darrow is offered a chance to do so through a risky process of death and rebirth, shedding his Red identity and being surgically altered into a Gold. Inducted into the system of humanity's elite, Darrow must then survive the wilds of Mars in a long, bloody trial to determine which House he'll be placed with, which will then determine how easy (or not) it'll be for him to condutct an uprising and elminate humanity's heinous class system.

That's Book 1 for you.

The comparisons drawn to other YA titles are unavoidable (The Hunger Games is the obvious waypoint for Red Rising in particular), and at times unfavourable. I'll be honest in saying that the first book did not endear itself to me due, in part, to an overreliance on parallels made between itself and its forebears. Angsty protagonist, a glamorous, stratified society that needs breaking, and a number of potential love triangles made Red Rising read like it had cribbed its plot, characters and most of its (fairly cringey) dialogue from the Generic YA Playbook - or from Divergence, The Maze Runner or any other YA Dystopias that have been trending over the past decade.

What saved the series from being ignominously tossed aside by me was its second book. Seeming to recognise that it had to carbon copy Hunger Games only to get in the front door, Golden Son was then able to dismiss most of the general or outright terrible elements it started with. The book was a breath of fresh air, taking the immersive setting that its predecessor did quite little with and turning it into a truly sprawling, epic world with a much more interesting story (for the sake of spoilers I'll tread lightly, but trust me when I say it's a huge step up from "Gladiator meets Battle Royale IN SPACE"). Golden Son was, to turn a phrase, a great bit of alright.

That in turn made the decline of its successor, the trilogy-capping Morning Star, all the more disappointing. Again, without wishing to spoil, the story moves in a different direction, albeit a far more conventional one. It becomes clear there's only one of two ways that Darrow's crusade against the Society can conclude, and as the end draws near it makes things highly predictable. With a ton of foreshadowed resolutions and a body count that makes Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows look conservative, Morning Star wasn't a bad book, but it certainly sacrificed most of what made the middle chapter of the series so gripping.

The reason I bring up a trilogy of YA sci-fi novels whose "final" book came out two years ago is because the trilogy's fourth installment, Iron Gold, hit shelves this month. It's an example of what I call a "Postscript Partwork": a series concludes pretty definitively, or has been ended for quite a long time, yet the author/creator decides to give (some of) the people what they want and pens another book/film/season for them. Given the way author Pierce Brown used Morning Star to pretty decisively wrap the vast majority of the trilogy's plotlines, Iron Gold is tipped to be an example of the Postscript Partwork par excellance.

Now, having another season of the show you love or another volume of the book series you adored isn't automatically a bad thing. Last year, Twin Peaks was brought back for an amazing revival series after it (debatably) ended with the film Fire Walk With Me in 1992. Similarly, there was absolutely no reason to expect 1982's Blade Runner to ever return with a new installment, and yet we were gifted with the underrated instant classic Blade Runner 2049. Hell, jumping off an example I saw on Twitter earlier, J. Michael Straczynski came back to Babylon 5 for the abortive gap-filling series The Lost Tales in 2007, nearly ten years after the series wrapped (granted, The Lost Tales chronologically took place before the end of the story, but it was very much in the spirit of the Postscript Partwork tale - also, y'know, it wasn't half bad).

What irks me is when a Postscript Partwork exists without obvious meaning. The examples I mention above came about because the creators had meaningful stories they wanted to tell (and sure, Denis Villeneuve was probably also gunning for an Academy Award in directing Blade Runner 2049, which wouldn't have hurt). Many others, though, quite obviously don't.

The two big case studies for me are Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the ninth season of Scrubs. Both are prime Postscript Partworks: Deathly Hallows wrapped things up with a sickeningly twee epilogue showing that, yes, Harry and friends would be fine decades down the track now that Voldemort was dead, while Scrubs' eighth season concluded with J.D. leaving Sacred Heart in a tear-jerking flashforward montage that is still a surefire Kleenex magnet. Having continuations of both stories is bad enough, robbing those original endings of the heightened catharsis they imparted, but what makes them worse is that those continuations are terrible. Season 9 of Scrubs is billed as the "Final" season on the DVD packaging, but it's effectively an entirely new show in and of itself, jettisoning most of the original cast in favour of several unsavory replacements acting out a story arc which is, more or less, the one the show started with back in Season 1. And really, the less said about the canonical abomination that is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the better.

I know the journey of a story is meant to be where the meat and potatoes are, but for me, an ending is something that indelibly etches itself into how I remember all the good that came before. Sometimes that can backfire - just look at How I Met Your Mother - but if done well, it can sweeten that enjoyable journey into something truly special. Scrubs Season 9 and Cursed Child did etch themselves into my memories, but they did nothing to enhance their existing stories and were made from a hollow place; thus, my memories of each series are now tainted by the knowledge of what comes after. Where great examples like Twin Peaks and Blade Runner make the originals better, the worse ones drive them further into the dirt.

Which loops us back around the the open question of Iron Gold's status as the successor to a mostly resolved trilogy. Granted, Morning Star ends with a few threads still caught in the narrative breeze, but the central plot focus - Darrow and his rage against the Society machine - is well and truly concluded, and most of the existing relationship dramas and interpersonal disputes have been settled. The last pages of the epilogue - which I won't spoil, despite being two years past the statute of limitations on spoilers - give us the kind of wholehearted narrative finishing flourish that inspired Deathly Hallows' "19 years later" epilogue, a flashforward which itself inspired the creation of Cursed Child. Given that Iron Gold's story takes place ten years after Morning Star, with a few younger folk from the original series aged up to become main characters, it's hard not to see the parallels.

I'm quite happy to be proven wrong, and I'll still be diving into Iron Gold with as much optimism as I can muster, but given that Brown himself announced the book right on the heels of Morning Star's 2016 release, it seems that the post-epilogue quality of the sequel trilogy is quite intentional. What that does is compromise how I see the original trilogy, billed as a complete story from beginning, middle to end. If I'd read Morning Star when it first came out, I'd've said it was a satisfying, if somewhat predictable, ending to a three-book journey that stumbled, peaked then settled down comfortably by the end. As the conclusion of this particular phase of what we must now call the Red Rising Saga, it instead feels like what TvTropes calls a Hope Spot: things seem optimistic and hopeful now, right before it all comes crashing down.

- Chris




The Red Rising trilogy is available in bookstores now.

Iron Gold is also available in bookstores now. Review coming soon!


This week Billy and Christof bro-down, dude-up and man-out to the bombastic testosterone fest that is Iron Man 2.

Topics covered include: Lots of jokes that don’t hold up, terrible acting from a certain retired boxer turned actor, and a cockatoo for some reason.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.


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Since everyone seemed to enjoy last year's write-up, here's my (admittedly belated) take on the 10 best things you should've read in 2017! If you did check any of these out, give yourself a cookie.

Please keep in mind, due to work/family/travel/getting married/having a honeymoon/sleeping where possible over the past year, there are a number of great books and comics I didn't get a chance to check out; this list is spun off from the fruits of my 2017 Goodreads labours only. Please don't hate me for not including The Language of Thorns or Secret Empire. (but really, is that last one going to make anyone's lists for anything celebratory?)


10. Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle between Marvel and DC

Though it lacks in flair at times, Reed Tucker delivers an insightful and rigorously researched look at the animosity between the Big Two of superhero comics. The historical narratives Tucker pens are fascinating, though the work occasionally veers into dry, lecture-like territory (ironic, considering my day job).

Comics can be both an exhilirating career path and a cruel, nasty business. Seeing inside the half-century war between the biggest names in the business sharpens both those perspectives, at times giving us the heights of passionate joy shared between rivals as well as the darkest, unvarnished moments that make Marvel and DC look almost like rival street gangs. One for the comics history buffs.


9. Kill or Be Killed, Volume 1

My biggest reading sin for 2017 was not checking out enough indy stuff; comics, fantasy novels and the odd non-fiction book made up most of my reading list. The indy stuff I did check out, though, works like gangbusters.

The latest crime comic from the super team of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips, Kill or Be Killed is a nastier, grittier take on Average-Joe-vigilante-fun-times - think Kick-Ass but minus the spandex and pushed through a grimier filter. The protagonist is a compelling, sympathetic yet selfish jerkass, the violence is unflinchingly depicted by Phillips's able pencils, and the unique selling point of the vigilantism this time round is, without spoiling, pretty intriguing. The book has a finger on the pulse of current social and cultural attitudes to politics and violence, making it both terrific and timely.


8. Superman: Son of Superman

Honestly, this book and its successive volumes are just fun. Superman's back, he has a cute son now, and he's teaching him how to use his powers. It's a lighter take on the father-son dynamic that powerful writer-artist duo Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason honed to a T in their Batman and Robin run, with just the right balance of heart and heroic battles. Son of Superman doesn't necessarily break new ground for the genre, but it's definitely got a lot of spirit.


7. A Court of Wings and Ruin

Despite being loaded with enough verbal chaff to stuff a reasonably-sized garbage bag, the conclusion to Sarah J. Maas's acclaimed A Court of Thorns and Roses saga still packs a punch when the good stuff happens. The final battle between the Night Court and the enemies of Prythian is pretty epic, but you definitely have to wade through a lot of exposition and no small amount of plot filler to get there.

Though the book doesn't reach the emotional heights scaled masterfully by its predecessor, A Court of Mist and Fury, the moments it turns on are pretty impactful, and it's still a great rounding off of the main story before we get to the spinoffs. As always, Kleenex should be handy.


6. Wonder Woman: Year One

Greg Rucka and his alternating teams of artists are killing it on Wonder Woman right now, but no volume of the run thus far had me as into it as Year One. With sterling art from Australian Nicola Scott, Diana Prince's introduction to the world of humanity is funny, heartwarming, action-packed and beautifully rendered. Rucka's writing has a keen talent for at once highlighting and dispelling the "otherness" of Diana, finding a very human core that a lot of past writers have either sidestepped or missed completely.

It's also a timely installment given the success of Gal Gadot's kickass turn on the big screen earlier in 2017. Anyone who dug that should definitely give Rucka's run a read.


5. Tom King's Batman (I Am Gotham, I Am Suicide, I Am Bane)

I'm still not sure why a lot of folks are down on it - to the point that I wrote a review on my own website about it (shameless self-promotion!) - but I'm loving Tom King's run on Batman to bits. After regaining his memories and returning to protect Gotham at the end of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's celebrated run, King's incarnation of Batman has never been broodier, while simultaneously being emotionally raw. A death wish and a new pair of superheroes are causing Batman to rethink his campaign on crime, and that's before even getting into what ends up happening with Catwoman.

Though artist David Finch still draws far too many throbbing veins when he pencils Batman on the page, the story is pretty excellent. Given the amount of character brooding, though, you may want a volume of something like and fluffy to read after.


4. Red Sister

What if Harry Potter was a girl, in a full-on fantasy world that might also be in the future, and she was learning to be a magical assassin in an all-girl assassin convent?

Until now, I've been lukewarm on Mark Lawrence - he of the difficult read Prince of Thorns - but with Red Sister, he really knocks it out of the park. Nona is an immediately gripping protagonist, and the well-worn tropes associated with the fantasy-setting-as-educational-institution are used to great effect. I don't want to say too much about it, but I will say you should definitely put this on the read list before its sequel, Grey Sister, hits shelves in April this year.


3. Saga, Volume 7

What more is there to say about Saga at this point? Writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples continue belting it out at full-force with their epic, romantic odyssey across the stars. Alana and Marko are still doing their thing, and their child Hazel - our narrator in the future - is now able to speak with all the sass of her parents.

As well as being a great book in its own right, Volume 7 recaptures some of the narrative momentum lost between Volumes 5 and 6. Granted, any volume of Saga still stands a head and a foot above the competition, but it's good to know we're fully back on track for this bullet train of a story.


2. The Stone Sky

Writer N.K. Jemisin's works have never been easy things to read, but they're always compelling. Her landmark Broken Earth trilogy, beginning with The Fifth Season and continuing through The Obelisk Gate, dealt with abuse, child murdering, depression, sexism, slavery and the end of the world. As the finale to this great work, The Stone Sky is an awesome, heady, dense and often emotionally compromising work, tying all the threads together and bringing mother Essun and her daughter Nassun's goals ever closer to each other.

There's nothing quite like the Broken Earth trilogy, and you really should be reading The Fifth Season anyway, but rest assured that the trilogy does end up with an exceptionally great finale. Now let's cross our fingers that Jemisin can win her third Hugo Award for this one.


1. Oathbringer

If you're a longtime reader on this site, you had to know this would be here. I feel like I've run out of all the good things to say about the Stormlight Archive, and Oathbringer is just more of those good things piled on top.

As well as producing what may be the longest fictional work since War and Peace, Brandon Sanderson ups the ante for both his own series and epic fantasy in general, delivering a masterstroke of a novel packed with adventure, politics, romance, humour, despair and triumph, all set against a backdrop of slice-of-life storytelling. Never has an apocalyptic battle between good and evil felt more grounded in humanity.


So that's my best of for 2017. Got any opinions on these, or know of anything I've missed that I should check out? Let me know!

Keep reading!


HULK SMASH! is usually the norm, but this week it's more HULK MEH?

Billy joins Christof in grumptown in this episode as they both get a rude reminder of just how bad 2008's The Incredible Hulk really was.

Topics covered include: Edward Norton's greedy acting, terrible CGI, Daddy's home and the whole Hulk penis situation.

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.


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A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government - IMDB

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Liz Hannah & Josh Singer
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, Bruce Greenwood, Jesse Plemons, David Cross and many more.
In Cinemas: January 11th.

Even though Steven Spielberg’s latest film The Post is set in the 1970s, it carries two important lessons still highly relevant today: protecting the rights of the press, and the importance of gender equality. Despite not being an overly subtle affair, I couldn’t resist the inherent charm of this film.

From a certain corrupt Mayor of Amity Island to the meddling shadowy government figures in Bridge of Spies,; Spielberg has often taken aim at those in power. Yes, they make for easy-cookie-cutter villains. But maybe that’s because many in power have been just that: villains.

The Post chronicles the efforts of both The New York Times and The Washington Post attempting to publish details from an explosive government report compiled at the behest of Robert McNamara. The report reads as a confession of sorts by the government that they knew the Vietnam war was a relatively futile expenditure of military lives, all in a vain attempt for the U.S to save face.

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks lead a formidable line-up of veteran characters actors. For the most part, the supporting actors easily portray the battle-hardened newsroom warriors, the kind of people you’d expect to see sniffing around for leads.

Meryl Streep delivers a quieter, almost reserved performance than what we’ve grown accustomed to in playing Katherine Graham, publisher of The Washington Post. It’s through Streep's performance that Spielberg delivers his criticism of the blatant sexism of the day. In several scenes he cleverly shoots Streep in a seated position with her male counterparts standing around and over her. There’s a constant air of male dominance over Ms Graham’s thoughts and perceived purpose. This is evident in the way the males loom over her as they speak whenever she’s on screen, until Ms Graham finally asserts herself in a rousing moment. Tom Hanks is doing what he does best; playing the nice guy who doesn’t mind sticking it to the baddies no matter the cost. It’s his lovable nice guy routine we’ve seen many times before, but it works for the material.

Spielberg once again teams up with long-time cinematographer partner Janusz Kaminski, which means we’re treated to oodles of the brightest of bright white light streaming in from every window. The films captures the look and feel of the 70s, without ever feeling too indulgent. I never enjoy it when films go to extravagant lengths to recreate the period.

Thankfully the action is restricted to only a few key locations. The newsroom of The Washington Post was awfully reminiscent of All The President’s Men, which surely influenced the design work on display here. Oh and the score is delivered by some unknown composer by the name of John Williams… need I say more?

Although we’re barely into 2018, The Post is your first must-see-film of the year. It’s a little manipulative and at times schmaltzy, but that’s Spielberg, baby! The guy wears his heart on his sleeves and delivers a film that we need right now. It’s the ultimate antidote to #FakeNews.

If you see The Post and agree or disagree with my take on the film, feel free to sound off in the comments below. Alternatively come over to the Geek of Oz Facebook page for more film content.

- Stu

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or on Letterboxd

I think you'd like The Post if you liked:

Thanks to our awesome friends at SUDIOCANAL, we’re giving you the chance to win 1 of 10 double passes to an advanced screening of Liam Neeson’s latest film, The Commuter. The screening will take place at Event Cinemas on George St, Sydney on Wednesday the 17th of January, 2018. To find out how to enter the giveaway, simply head over  to our Facebook page for more details. 

In this action-packed thriller, Liam Neeson plays Michael, an insurance salesman whose daily commute home quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on the train before the last stop. As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he soon realizes he is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy. One that carries life and death stakes for himself and his fellow passengers.

The Commuter hits cinemas 18th of January, 2018.

This year I’m trying to change up how I present my reviews. Hopefully they’ll be more along the lines that if you liked X, then you should check out Y. They’ll be lighter on in terms of plot details and I guess more like a consumer report. If this works for you I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.

Director - Joe Wright
Starring - Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn & Stephen Dillane
In cinemas - January 11, 2018

After so many transformative performances, I’m starting to forget what Gary Oldman actually looks like. Mr Oldman’s ability to immerse himself into a performance is second to none. So who better to do turn to to capture a new take on Winston Churchill? Joe Wright’s latest film, Darkest Hour seems hell-bent on giving us an historically accurate portrayal of the rotund cigar-chomping booze-guzzling linguistic maestro.

Oldman’s performance is great fun and truly larger than life. Sadly though, the film focuses so much energy on Churchill, the rest of the film somewhat suffered for me. Several characters aren’t given nearly enough enough to do, namely Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) and Elizabeth Layton (Lily James). Two fantastic performers that didn’t seem overly challenged by the material.

I couldn’t say this is a must-see film. It barely does what it says on the box. Unfortunately It’s a little too light and fluffy for what would’ve been an excruciatingly tense point of the World War 2. Not my cup of tea.

Direction - Typical Joe Wright; big and bombastic with a few nice touches
Performances - Oldman is fun, rest of the cast is left relatively underdeveloped
Writing - Little too on the nose for my liking
Cinematography - Some beautifully lit scenes, especially in the war-room sequences
Highpoint- Oldman barking at anyone in earshot and quaffing booze like a sailor.
Lowpoint - Painful sequence during which Churchill converses with the general public on a train 

Overall score - 6.5/10

- Stu 

Darkest Hour might be for you if you liked:

I think you'll have a better time checking these out:

I AM IRON MAN ... and Christof is already regretting agreeing do this podcast.

This week Billy and Christof take a look at 2008's Iron Man, the film that spawned the Marvel Cinematic Universe and brought Robert Downy Jr. back into the limelight. 

Topics covered include: A country in the middle east that looks a lot like Afghanistan but most definitely isn't Afghanistan, sexy flight attendants, computer loading bars and saying goodbye to secret identities. 

As always it would make our day if you could take a couple of minutes to rate and reviews us on iTunes or drop us some feedback below! Really keen to have your input in the show.


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Earlier this year I made the foolish claim that President Trump wouldn’t be President by year’s end. To make matters worse, I chose to wager on this preposterous assertion with fellow Geek of Oz crew member Chris. If El Presidente was gone, Chris would have to read and review The Art of the Deal by Trump, and if he wasn’t, I would finally check out Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Sigh. Damn you Trump! Fair to say this brings to an end my betting career on global politics.

I’d always resisted seeing The Room, for the simple fact that I don’t need to intentionally watch bad films. I never ventured into the “it’s so bad it’s good” realm of the cinematic galaxy. It’s just not for me. Now in fairness to The Room, I attended a special screening at a local cinema, who have been doing it for 4 years. Packed house. I threw the spoons. I yelled at the screen. I endured the horrific performances. Suffered through brain-numbing writing. Nearly threw up at the awkward sex scenes. But ultimately, I didn’t care for it. Not as a film or as an experience.

I particularly didn’t care for how the film handled the character of Lisa (Juliette Danielle) who plays Johnny’s (Tommy Wiseau) fiancee. Given the film basically revolves around her cheating on Johnny with his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero), the film goes on to vilify her, in a way that it feels like it was co-written by a college fraternity. The underlining “bros before hoes” message is troubling. Probably didn’t help that seated a few rows behind me was a group of young guys screaming “Lisa you’re a fucking whore, Lisa you’re a fucking slut” each time she was on screen. Now I know it’s basically pantomime, but I was troubled by the rampant misogyny on display in the crowd.

One of my biggest problems with The Room is that it’s made by someone who can’t write, act or direct. Not exactly a huge surprise that it turned out to be a laughable disaster. Plenty of films don’t work even when they are made by masters of the craft. One young bloke at my screening was presented on stage proudly claiming this to be his 17th screening. I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d seen any of the critically acclaimed films of 2017. I’m not telling people what they should or shouldn’t watch, but I guess I go to the cinema to get a vastly different experience to that which The Room promises.

In Tommy Wiseau’s defence though, he’s achieved something that many people won’t. He made a movie. People like myself spend countless hours watching, debating, complaining, whinging and keyboard warrioring about movies, but we don’t have the guts or determination to go make something to serve up for critical consumption. So there’s that I guess.

Good work Trump, thanks a bunch! Not only will you inevitably lead us to some kind of end-of-world-apocalyptic-nuclear-winter situation, but you made me waste my precious time on this irredeemable cinematic dribble.

If you've seen The Room and agree or disagree with my thoughts, feel free to drop a line in the comments below. 

- Stu