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Feelgood Flicks

by Russell Brown

You probably know that it's characteristic of people on the autism spectrum to have particular fields of interest and sometimes particularly focused abilities.

The dream scenario is that autistic people can be helped to turn these things into activities that benefit themselves and others, and perhaps even make a living doing something that they're good at, and that makes them happy. Yes, that's kind of what we all want, but with knobs on.

After Jimmy Wants a Job, the Attitude documentary about our son, James Rae Brown, screened last year, many people got in touch to say what a great young man Jim was and to wish him luck. The making of the doco was quite trying at times and the praise and recognition was due reward.

But  Kelly Rogers of the Rialto Group went further -- and offered Jim a job at the Bridgeway Cinema in Northcote Point.

Since then, Jim has been working a day a week at the Bridgeway, cleaning and restocking for minimum wage, and that's all good. But recently, Matt Turner, the Bridgeway's manager, proposed extending Jim's duties. Not just more cleaning and restocking -- but reviewing movies, for pay.

It had become apparent to Jim's workmates that he is an excellent source of pithy film reviews. He has probably seen that movie you're wondering about and he will give you a thoughtful 60-second account of it. So Matt proposed that he write reviews for the Bridgeway to use on its website and elsewhere. Jim and I discussed it and quickly decided he should make video reviews too -- after all, he was already doing that for his own purposes.

It's been a while in the making, but the Bridgeway's YouTube channel is live now, and you can see Jimmy's reviews, which are really good. Here, he tells you why he loved Interstellar and you probably will too:

Saint Vincent? Not so much ...

He did find Jimmy's Hall both profound and inspiring, but warns that it's not actually the feelgood flick presented in the trailer.

I think the strength of Jim's reviews is that he actually does review the movie and its constituent parts, and not just the media around it. They're clear and focused personal assessments, often with a humorous touch. We'll work on some technical elements over summer, but the content, presentation and editing are 100% Jim's turf.

It's been nice to be able to approach Christmas feeling this good and I'm grateful to Matt, Kelly and everyone else for recognising Jim's talent and giving him a creative job. In the meantime, I would note that if you're looking for a place to watch a movie this summer, the Bridgeway is an excellent establishment run by good people.

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