A Keane eye

Margaret Keane, The First Grail, 1962

Margaret Keane, The First Grail, 1962

You might remember seeing faded prints of sad, haunting, waif-like children with overly large eyes, displayed in charity shops or in houses during the 1960s and 1970s. However, did you know that the works by American artist Margaret Keane, though derided by art critics and dealers, hung in the mansions of major Hollywood stars and in European museums? Or that her paintings were praised by artists such as Dali, Picasso and Warhol?

Through mass marketing, Margaret’s work became was incredibly popular with the general public. It sold millions of copies, when reproduced in affordable forms such as wall sized posters and cards, which you could buy in supermarkets and gift shops. Margaret’s waifs influenced the style of other painters and graphic artists. Unfortunately, Margaret never received the money that she earned from sales of her paintings, nor received the recognition that she deserved until recent times.

Produced and directed by Tim Burton, the movie Big Eyes stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. It is based on the true story of how Margaret’s husband Walter Keane created an elaborate deception, fooling the world by claiming credit for his wife’s art.

The film opens with the statement that the 50s was a great time if you were a man.

Fleeing a bad marriage in the mid-1950s, shy suburban housewife Margaret Hawkins flees to San Francisco with her young daughter, where she makes her living painting motives on furniture. She supplements her income at an outdoor market, painting children’s portraits in her distinctive style because “The eyes are the window to the soul”. It is there that Margaret meets the charming, ambitious landscape artist and real estate salesman Walter Keane. When Margaret’s former husband attempts to declare her an unfit mother and secure full custody of their daughter, Margaret accepts Walter’s offer of marriage.

Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane in Big Eyes.

Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane in Big Eyes.

Margaret Keane, Little Ones, 1962.

Margaret Keane, Little Ones, 1962.

Always the opportunist, Walter seeks out new ways to sell their art. He rents out wall space in a popular club. When patrons of the club start to notice only Margaret’s paintings of children, Walter takes credit for her work. The lie builds in intensity, as famous identities come to the club to see buy the pictures and the media takes an interest in this latest trend. It is not until Margaret watches Walter selling the paintings at the club does she realise what is happening. Although she is disturbed by Walter’s behaviour, Margaret has so little self esteem that she reluctantly goes along with the charade. She loves Walter and tells herself that she is doing the right thing. Remember, this was an era where women were expected to defer to the judgment of the head of the household, to their husband or father.

Big Eyes handles serious themes such as violence towards women, but Tim Burton’s quirky influence comes through. Sets are beautifully designed and there is a sense of otherworldliness to the look of the film. Burton uses warm lighting, bright colours and intense pastels in the cinemaphotography and he depicts suburbia like a model village, reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands. The film has elements of a fairytale. Margaret’s character is Burton’s usual blonde protagonist. She is the innocent woman imprisoned in a tower, living a nightmare. In in her attic studio, she is forced by her evil husband to paint magical pictures for up to 16 hours a day.

Christopher Waltz plays the deranged Walter Keane.

Christopher Waltz plays the deranged Walter Keane.

Burton’s brand of comedy comes through in both his characterisation and in his presentation of peculiar situations. For example, the exceptionally sweet Jehohavah Witness ladies arrive at Margaret’s door and change her life. An art snob who runs a fashionable modern art gallery rejects the paintings of waifs as kitsch but tries to sell splotches of paint on canvases to wealthy customers. Christopher Waltz expertly plays the egotistical Walter Keane, depicting his flamboyance and over the top mannerisms. Yet we are never in doubt of how sinister and deranged the character really is.

Big Eyes is also the story of Margaret’s triumph. As society starts to change for women throughout the 1960s and 70s, Margaret will find the courage to take control of her life and fight for her reputation as an artist.

Margaret Keane, San Francisco Here We Come, 1991.

Margaret Keane,
San Francisco Here We Come, 1991.

Margaret Keane aged 88 with Amy Adams

Margaret Keane aged 88 with Amy Adams

You can borrow the DVD or blu ray of Big Eyes through the One Card Network. Reserve it through the online catalogue or enquire at the Library. Find out more about Margaret and her work at: http://keane-eyes.com and http://www.margaretkeane.com/

2014’s Top 20 Most Borrowed DVDs

1. Lincoln


2. The Help

The Help

3. The Impossible

The Impossible

4. Red Dog

Red Dog

5. We Bought a Zoo

We Bought a Zoo

6. Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

7. Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher

8. World War Z

World War Z

9. Hitchcock


10. New Year’s Eve

New Year's Eve

11. We need to talk about Kevin

We need to talk about Kevin

12. War Horse

War Horse

13. Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher

14. Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

15. Captain America, the First Avenger

Captain America

16. Life of Pi

Life of Pi

17. Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2

18. Skyfall

Skyfall 007

19. Hit & Run

Hit and Run

20. Flight


Click on any title or DVD cover above and you will be taken directly to the library catalogue reference, where you can place a hold on the item.  Since you can borrow 20 DVDs at a time, you may like to place requests on all of the above titles at once!

Boxing Day film releases

Traditionally the busiest day in cinema, Boxing Day usually features releases of some of the year’s most anticipated films. This year continues the institution with at least seven releases slated for the day.

The-Hobbit-The-Battle-Of-The-Five-Armies-Movie-Poster-Wallpaper-1024x768[1]Probably the most anticipated is the final (for now?) Middle Earth based films, with the third of the Hobbit trilogy The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Starting with the second film’s cliffhanger of Smaug the Dragon’s awakening and vengeance upon Laketown, and of course, as the title states, it culminates with the infamous battle of five armies at the base of Erebor. Fans of the book are divided over director Peter Jackson’s significant additions and deviations from the original text, however given how popular the films have been, I expect that most are pretty forgiving!

big hero 6Big Hero 6 is a Disney animated film, inspired by the Marvel comic of the same name. A Disney animated film, this one is expected to be popular with children and adults alike. Featuring a likable yet unlikely hero, in the form of homemade health robot, and follows his adventures with his creators siblings and friends.

The other films scheduled for Boxing day have no ties to books, however no doubt will keep the candy-bar busy include the next installment in the popular Night at the Museum franchise, Aussie film The Water Diviner and the British biography Mr Turner.

What films are you looking forward to seeing these holidays?
Don’t forget that the library has all of the most recent DVD releases and you can reserve your copy on our catalogue.

Supanova is Coming!

Supanova Pop Culture Expo is this weekend at the Adelaide Showgrounds! A weekend of pop-culture goodness, featuring celebrity guests from TV, film and the comic scene, games and gaming areas, cosplay, traders and everything in between!
We’re probably most excited that Jack Gleeson, AKA Joffrey from George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and Jeremy Shada from Adventure Time will be there.Profile-Jeremy-Shada-Version-B-320x97

Don’t forget we keep a massive range of the latest TV shows, films and Graphic Novels covering all sort of genres and interests. If you need to catch up on Game of Thrones, see what Adventure Time is about, or find out the latest Marvel Universe heroes are doing come to the Library or check out the catalogue on place a copy on hold today.

AVCon is coming!

Now in it’s 12th year, AVCon, Adelaide’s Anime and Video Game convention, will be blasting off from next Friday 18 July through to Sunday 20 July at the Adelaide Convention Centre.




From humble beginning at Adelaide University in 2002, AVCon has grown to be one of the largest Anime and Gaming conventions in the country featuring a range of activities, competitions, panels, gaming, cosplay, traders and special guests.

Did you know that the Library has a huge collection of resources to suit the AVCon attendee?


Are you an Anime, Manga or Graphic Novel fan?
Check out our gigantic Graphic Novel, Manga and Anime collection! From Antman to X-men, Aegis to xxxHolic, and Anime covering classics like Astroboy, Bleach, OnePiece and Naruto to the complete Studio Ghibli collection, there’s something to suit you.

The_Art_of_The_Last_of_Us_05Are you a gamer? Interested in the background of game design or perhaps the artwork of some of the latest interactive masterpieces?
We have a large range of titles on game design, becoming a skilled gamer, and glorious game art books like The Art of The Last of Us and Valve Presents; The Sacrifice and other Steam powered stories.


Perhaps you’re a Cosplayer? Steampunk fashion
Check out our costume resource collection with books on sewing, craft, and DIY. We also have a growing collection on Steampunk fashion and accessories.

You can check out everything happening at AVCon over on their website or visit their Facebook page for up-to-the minute news.

Did you know … about Doctor Who?

Doctor WhoDid you know that the BBC Science Fiction Series Doctor Who premiered on the 23rd of November, 1963? Chronicling the adventures of a time travelling alien who calls himself The Doctor, the series celebrated its 50th anniversary this weekend with a special episode entitled The Day of the Doctor simultaneously broadcast in more than 70 countries coinciding with the time the original pilot (entitled An Unearthly Child) was screened 50 years earlier.

In Australia, this meant the program was shown on the ABC at 6:50am on Sunday the 24th. Fortunately, the ABC re-broadcast the show in Doctor Who’s usual timeslot of 7:30pm that same day.

Technically, Doctor Who has not been broadcast continuously for 50 years. The original run, or ‘Classic’ series ran from 1963-1989 at which point the BBC ceased production. An attempt to re-launch the series occurred in 1996, however it was not until 2005 that the series finally returned to our screens.

One of the unique aspects of Doctor Who and the secret to its longevity is the concept of ‘regeneration’. The Doctor hails from the world of Gallifrey and is a member of the planets hierarchy known as the Time Lords. One of the benefits of his alien physiology is that, when injured to the point of death, his body can renew itself, effectively transforming him into a completely new person. Thanks to the concept of regeneration, the BBC could replace the actor playing The Doctor as needed.

To date there have been twelve (well 13, but in the words of River Song would be ‘spoilers’!) actors to play the character. The original Doctor was William Hartnell (1963-1966), The Second Doctor was played by Patrick Troughton (1966-1969), next came Jon Pertwee (1970-1974) followed by Tom Baker (1974-1981), Peter Davidson (1981-1984), Colin Baker (1984-1986) and Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989). McCoy would return for a regeneration sequence in The Doctor Who Movie, which saw Paul McGann take on the roll for a single performance (though he did continue to ‘play’ the role in a series of audio adventures and has returned for a 6 minute ‘mini-episode’ as part of the 50th Anniversary). With the revival of the series in 2005, Chrstopher Eccleston became the 9th Doctor and was followed by David Tennant (2005-2010) and Matt Smith (2010-2013). It was recently announced that Smith would be stepping down from the role in this year’s Christmas Special with Peter Capaldi announced to be his replacement.

Why not check out some of the Classic Episodes or Revived Series? Read some of the Doctor Who Novels or Audio Adventures or even check out some of the books about the show.

Jump on over to our Facebook page and tell who your favourite Doctor is and give us your thoughts on the 50th Anniversary Special!

New DVD arrivals – Life of Pi and The Hobbit: an unexpected journey

l_454876_ad554f03                       the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-dvd-cover-68

Eagerly anticipating the release of two of the biggest films of this year? Well they have now arrived at the City of Tea Tree Gully Library! Place a hold on the Life of Pi and The Hobbit: an unexpected journey; both DVD and Blu-Ray copies are available. Enjoy!

With Rose Coloured Glasses…

It’s very interesting to go back to the original critical reviews of films that are held in such high esteem today, because at the time of their release, opinions were often very different.
Last week saw the 35th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars film. Today many critics and fans have voiced the opinion that the original trilogy was superior to the more recent prequel trilogy. Whether they are right or wrong is a matter of personal view, but what is interesting is that when Star Wars was released,  many of the reviews made the same criticisms about the film as they did for the prequel trilogy. Here’s one example from The New Yorker.

Even more recently, the film Prometheus, a prequel (in spirit) to Alien was reviewed by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw as “[lacked] the central punch of Alien”. What is interesting here is that a number of years ago the 1979 journal Films and Filming contained a review of Alien. I will never forget the final line of what was, to be frank, quite a damning review, which stated “this film will not stand the test of time”.

In thirty five years will we look back at films released today in a different, more favourable light?

Did you know about…Bones?

The final episode for the current season of Bones screened on Wednesday night this week.

The show stars Emily Deschanel as Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who assists the FBI in the solving of murders alongside Special Agent Seeley Booth, played by David Boreanaz. The character was created  by real-life forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs for her novels, but did you know that the TV Series is not based on those books?

If you watch the opening credits of the show carefully you will see that the show is based on “the life of forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs”.

That’s right, the show is based on the author, using the character names from her books!

Why not check out some of Reich’s novels, enjoy some episodes of the show, or even learn some more about forensic anthropology?

Did you know…About the Avengers?

Avengers #1, September 1963

“And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat…foes no single superhero could withstand… Avengers Assemble!”

The Avengers are Marvel Comics’ premier superhero team and answer to DC’s Justice League. The original team-up occurred in Avengers #1, written by Stan Lee with art by Jack Kirby and released in September 1963. The original members of the team were Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man and his partner Wasp (who came up with the name), who teamed up to do battle with Loki, the Norse god of mischief.

April 25th will see the very first big screen outing on the Avengers team, something Marvel Studios (the cinematic arm of Marvel Comics) have been building to since the release of Iron Man in 2007.

 Check out the lead-in films (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America), some of the amazing Avengers graphic novels or the Avengers Animated Series, all available at the Library.