Working Woman Film Review

Working Woman Film Review

Words Wal Reid

With the #MeToo movement spurred by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment scandals, long time feminist filmmaker Michal Aviad’s gritty drama about a young Israeli mother returning to the work force and putting up with her boss’s sexual advances, is as topical as it is provocative – Does any of this smack of familiarity?

“It’s a polarising subject that is overly reported time after time in the news. The sexualisation of women in the work force”

It’s a polarising subject that is overly reported time after time in the news. The sexualisation of women in the work force. The premise revolves around young Mum Orna, (played by the brilliant Liron Ben Shlush) the mother of three lives a frugal existence while her husband struggles to start his own restaurant. Her fragmented narrative matches the movie’s pace and the mood of the picture, unfurling its lucid storyline.

To help fund her family, Orna returns to the workplace landing a job with Benny, expertly played by Menashe Noy who is a successful real estate developer. His character epitomises the macho Svengali-like predatory boss, who under the guise of an ‘helping angel’ is nothing further from the truth. To be honest, I just wanted to throttle the guy.

While she embraces her new job and tries to balance its demands with her home life, she begins to experience escalating sexual harassment from Benny which compromises her belief system and relationship with her husband Ofer (McMafia’s Oshri Cohen). Under the strain of the tense work place situation, Shlush delivers her performance with gusto while duping the audience into believing her character, this respite in the film helps her gather some much needed self-confidence.

I thought her performance was well handled and she has a pensive dead-pan expression that would leave Garbo for dead (if she was still alive) Now and then I found the film meandering but not to the point of finding myself switching off. I mean it was an easy watch so that’s a big thumbs up (short attention span here) that coupled with its surprisingly redemptive outlook was another reason to like this.

The film delivers. It’s job exposing the underbelly of a sexist society while tapping into the sentiment of the viewer. This simple truth resonated with myself even though it was subtitled, it’s message engaging. It is a powerful reminder that not all is well with the world, however, the film’s sanguine ending should serve as a timely reminder that now and then, we can restore our faith in humanity.

Gladys Knight Gig Review

Gladys Knight Gig Review

words Wal Reid

The Legendary “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight, breezed into Auckland last night under the radar for the start of her New Zealand Tour. As a youngster I fondly remember watching her on our old black & white television set. Gladys Knight & The Pips’ music piped through the feeble non-existent tv speakers, it seemed a world away. I know I’m showing my age here, but so too, were most of the crowd – it was definitely a generation thing.

Her emotive music and soulful voice has transcended the decades, she even bagged a Grammy Award for her solo work on the 1989 James Bond theme song License To Kill. She quietly mentioned she “nearly didn’t record this song” as she doesn’t “like guns”. However, there was no going ‘undercover’ tonight for the legendary RnB Diva, she had the crowd dancing in the aisles and out their seats. The band played with a hiss and a roar, but that only incited the crowd as her backing singers tore down the roof, especially on Carole King’s (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman.

“Donned in muted sparkly black attire, her outfit trailing her as the band played in her slipstream. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” she screamed over the cheering of the crowd”

Tonight the seven-time Grammy Award-winner wasted no time leaving an indelible mark on the auspicious Civic Theatre. It was incredible seeing her live strutting the stage but her voice, her God-given talent, ageless, flawlessly singing as if a role she was born to fulfil. Probably doesn’t hurt she looks ten younger than her stated years as well. She shared her earliest memory singing as a four year old adding, “back then you got whipped” she recalled. One of her most well known songs I Heard It Through the Grapevine almost never made it. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ means you weren’t there”, further adding. “It’s gossip, as Mama would say”.

As her career came on the rise in the early ’50s, she released numerous songs to her name. Her breakout hit Every Beat of My Heart was followed by a string of successful singles before the release of Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)—a soulful album which earned Knight her first Grammy Award. Then another for her smash hit Midnight Train to Georgia, before picking up another for her collaboration with Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Dionne Warwick for the iconic hit tune That’s What Friends Are For.

Donned in muted sparkly black attire, her outfit trailing her as the band played in her slipstream. “I love you, I love you, I love you,” she screamed over the cheering of the crowd. Her narrative in-between songs was like taking a guided tour. The colourful raconteur rattled off story after story, of her amazing life surrounded by the calibre of talented people like vocalist James Ingram & “little brother” Marvin Gaye. Song writer Jim Weatherly also featured as his song Midnight Train To Georgia was received with raucous applause.

“Hard to believe she has quinquagenarian-plus fan boys and fan girls, but they revelled and screeched their way through her set like teenagers seeing their idol for the first time”

Her rambunctious outlook added a maternal warmth, as she found her way into the hearts of the audience – how could you not warm to her? “I’ve waited a long time for this night,” she proceeded to tell the crowd. It was her first tour of the country in over two decades, so there was generous leeway given on the crowd’s behalf since her last visit here. With her nine-piece band in tow, she performed most of the hits she is known the world over, including Ed Sheeran’s earworm Perfect & Sam Smith’s beautiful Stay With Me. Both given the ‘Gladys’ treatment to the delightful squeals of the audience.

Hard to believe she has quinquagenarian-plus fan boys and fan girls, but they revelled and screeched their way through her set like teenagers seeing their idol for the first time. Her band were absolutely stunning, tight, soulful and robotically in sync. If you want ‘church’ Gladys will give it to you. You want to hear the hits and more, Gladys has that covered also. Today’s RnB/Soul singers lack that vital ingredient; the style and vibe of those austere times emulated through her music. You can’t replicate that unless you’ve lived through it. She waxed lyrical about the importance of “communication”, “you’ve got to have the grit and the meat to make it real” she implored. It was a lesson in life as much as it was an engaging music concert, but I think all of us were just in awe at witnessing this living legend sing her song – and that you can never replicate either.

Set list.

  1. Love Overboard(Gladys Knight & The Pips song
  2. Nitty Gritty / Shake Your Body Down to the Ground
  3. Every Beat of My Heart(Johnny Otis cover)
  4. Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me(Jim Weatherly cover)
  5. Stay With Me(Sam Smith cover)
  6. Save the Overtime (For Me)(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
  7. Never Too Much(Luther Vandross cover)
  8. Part Time Love(David Gates cover)
  9. I’ve Got to Use My Imagination(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
  10. I Heard It Through the Grapevine(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
  11. Licence to Kill
  12. Midnight Train to Georgia(Jim Weatherly cover)
  13. If I Could
  14. Why I Love You(Major cover)
  15. One Hundred Ways(James Ingram cover)
  16. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman(Carole King cover)
  17. The Way We Were(Barbra Streisand cover)
  18. Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)(Jim Weatherly cover)
  19. Baby Don’t Change Your Mind(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
Birds Of Prey Film Review

Birds Of Prey Film Review

Words Sarah Kidd

No one can deny that the DC Universe has struggled in the world of film; compared to Marvel and its legion of devoted followers who appreciate the cohesiveness and continuity of their blockbuster movies, DC struggles to pick a direction and stick to it.

Suicide Squad had its charms, but ultimately failed to live up to expectations. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn however, quickly gained both notoriety and praise; her look in the film soon adopted as the latest trend for Halloween parties across the globe. Cue spin-off.

So, how does Birds of Prey fare?
Admittedly not too bad at all. Taking into account that the film is a continuation of Harley Quinn’s adventures specifically – which means that instead of sharing the screen with juggernauts like Will Smith, she is predominantly the main focus – will play a part in determining the enjoyment level of the viewer.

Despite Quinns’ style of speaking, which can become a little irritating at times, Robbie otherwise delivers a solid performance, once again capturing the characteristics viewers have already come to know and expect from her portrayal of Quinn while adding a few more nuances to her already colourful persona.

“Despite Quinns’ style of speaking, which can become a little irritating at times, Robbie otherwise delivers a solid performance”

Where Robbie (who also produced the film) truly shines is in the physical arena, her movement when handling weapons, participating in fight scenes right down to how she curls up on a couch with a bowl of fruit-loops are all so wonderfully fluid that it draws the viewer into her character with a natural ease.

Throughout the film, Quinn narrates certain events or points of interest, this does start to wear a little thin, especially when the momentum of the film is broken in order to tell the backstory of a character, or to retrace the steps of what led to a particular part in the timeline. Still it is a point of difference and thankfully is not used too excessively.

So, Harley Quinn is back in Gotham, sans the Joker who has kicked her out. Keeping quiet about her current relationship status, Quinn proceeds to roll about Gotham taking full advantage of her immunity from retribution and basically behaving badly, which she is very good at. That is however until one night after overhearing people mocking her ongoing trials and tribulations with her man, she decides to announce to the city she is single by blowing up the ACME chemical plant where she first pledged her love to the Joker (apparently Batman was taking the night off, as despite Quinn almost destroying a quarter of the city, the bat is nowhere to be seen)

Cue the introduction of Black Canary (Jurnee Smollet-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) over the course of the plot, complete with back stories that fold themselves into the timeline somewhat awkwardly, but they get the job done. Of course, there has to be a villain, Birds of Prey offering up two in the form of Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis/Black Mask and his psychotically creepy henchman Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina).

Birds of Prey is a restricted movie, and as such it contains violence that while not excessively nausea inducing, does include a few scenes that will make people wince. It was also a little disturbing that many seemed to find the beginning of one particular scene where Sionis publicly degrades a woman somewhat amusing; perhaps it was his slightly camp demeanor in which he did it … It should be noted though that there is an unnerving undercurrent to the scenes of violence featured in the movie.

“How it will stand the test of time against both the previous and any future DC cinematic offerings, remains to be seen”

While the female characters carry out theirs in a kick-ass girl kinda way, with a sense of cartoonish fun to them, a few of the scenes featuring Sionis have a far more realistic and sadistic nature to them, especially when the violence is aimed at his female victims. Written this way to truly set him apart as the bad guy? Possibly, but it is a little uncomfortable to say the least.

The film is of course called Birds of Prey, so the expectation being that at some point we see the female leads join together to become a tour de force; however, when they finally do, it seems rather anticlimactic, leaving some wondering if director Cathy Yan actually got the incredibly long film title the wrong way around.

Birds of Prey is indeed a bit of fun, and if audience members are already fans of films of a similar ilk, then this too will be a win for them. It’s bright, it’s loud, the pace keeps the storyline moving in the right direction for the majority of the film and there are some memorable performances from Robbie, McGregor, Smollett-Bell and a Hyena called Bruce. The soundtrack is none too shabby either, however some of the tracks used have already been featured in several films over the last couple of years and do feel a little tired.

It would be hard to vehemently dislike Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) but how it will stand the test of time against both the previous and any future DC cinematic offerings, remains to be seen.

Just Announced For Byron Bay Blues Festival 2020

Just Announced For Byron Bay Blues Festival 2020

Byron Bay Blues festival is lifting the curtain on round two of their exciting line-up for 2020.

After confirming the likes of Dave Matthews Band, Crowded House and Patti Smith and her Band on our first line-up, we’ve added a string of new acts, including Lenny Kravitz, Jimmie Vaughan, The Waterboys, Eagles of Death Metal, Ani DiFranco, and many more.



Grammy Award-winning Rock musician Lenny Kravitz made the albums ‘Let Love Rule’, ‘Mama Said’ and ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’. Over a musical career spanning 20 years, he has transcended genre with his unique soul, rock and funk influences. Are you ready to “Fly Away”?


Living legend Jimmie Vaughan is an American blues-rock guitarist and singer who hails from Austin. As a founding member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, he was one of the leading Texas guitarists of the ’70s and ’80s. Are you “Tuff Enuff” for Jimmie Vaughn’s gritty, hard-grooving performance?


With their cross-pollination of literate, soulful rock n’ roll and folk traditions of the British Isles, the Waterboys have tread a multitude of musical paths since singer-songwriter Mike Scott formed the group in London in the early ’80s, and continue to blur genres with 2019 album ‘Where The Action Is’.


The collaboration of lifelong friends Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme, Eagles of Death Metal bring to the stage a revved-up blend of garage rock, boogie rock and hard rock, with elements of glam rock, blues rock and swamp rock thrown in. Rock out to ‘Peace Love Death Metal’!


Ani Di Franco has never been afraid to push boundaries. The iconic singer, songwriter, activist and poet hit the world stage over twenty-five years ago. She has released more than 20 albums on her own record label, Righteous Babe, which gives her massive creative freedom.


A musical husband-and-wife duo who got their start in Mali, Amadou & Mariam bring the magic every time. The pair met at the Bamako Institute for the Young Blind in 1975, married in 1980, and have been releasing albums, touring and playing festivals around the globe. We dare you not to dance to their uniquely African beat!


Family tradition runs deep with the Allman Betts Band who follow in the footsteps of their groundbreaking fathers. Celebrating the founding of the Allman Brothers Band just over 50 years ago, Devon Allman and Duane Betts keep the southern rock torch burning, with a mix of classic Allmans tunes and new tracks.


Italian musician Adelmo Fornaciari, known to the world by his nickname Zucchero (‘Sugar’), is an award-winning songwriter with a string of hits. His unique blend of blues, Italian ballads and R&B has seen him play with legends like Bono, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton and Macy Gray. Don’t miss the Father of Italian blues!


A former member of Bluesfest favourites,  Snarky Puppy, Cory Henry’s multi-instrumentalist skills are astounding. It’s funk, it’s blues, it’s R’n’B, it’s gospel, it’s soul and it’s rock! Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles breathe fresh air into all these genres. You won’t want to miss this funk explosion!


Yola is setting the music scene on alight with her debut album ‘Walk Through Fire’ establishing her as the new Queen of Country Soul. The album is a genre-bending release bursting with Yola’s powerful vocals that capture tales of heartbreak and loves lost. One of the most exciting emerging British artists in music today – Yola is one to watch!


Instrumentalist turned singer-songwriter Tal Wilkenfeld breaks new ground with new album ‘Love Remains’. Having toured as a bassist with the likes of Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, Prince and The Allman Bros, Tal has honed her craft as a singer in her own right. A true musician!


Joachim Cooder​ grew up playing music with his father Ry Cooder, touring and recording with icons including Johnny Cash, ​John Lee Hooker and the Buena Vista Social Club. He has solidified his reputation as a lyrical drummer, composing film scores, and now writing and singing his own songs like “Country Blues”. Come on all you good time people!


Finnish Roots music collective Steve ‘n’ Seagulls have a penchant for turning hard rock, metal, and grunge classics into front-porch jamborees. You can’t mistake the quintet’s signature hillbilly metal sound which has endeared them to fans worldwide. We promise you’ll be on your feet falling in love with bluegrass all over again!



Ant Timpson’s Debut Kiwi Horror Film Come To Daddy With Elijah Wood To Open In Cinemas Across NZ

Ant Timpson’s Debut Kiwi Horror Film Come To Daddy With Elijah Wood To Open In Cinemas Across NZ

What do you get if you get LOTR’s star Elijah Wood, Canadian actor Stephen McHattie and our own Madeleine Sami in a Horror film? lead Kiwi director Ant Timpson’s deranged comic thriller about a father-son reunion that goes very, very south could explain it.

Don’t miss the New Zealand screening of this blackly comic, dark movie that should have fans of this genre reeling with glee. Starts in Kiwi cinemas February 20th, the debut directorial film for Timpson is set to become a cinematic hit.

So the story premise goes – After receiving a cryptic letter from his estranged father, Norval (Elijah Wood) travels to his dad’s oceanfront home for what he hopes will be a positive experience. If only he’d known the dark truth about his old man beforehand. Stephen McHattie, Martin Donovan and Michael Smiley co-star in this gory, gross-out, black comedy that’s the directorial debut of producer Ant Timpson (The Greasy StranglerThe ABCs of Death).

“Norval’s (Elijah Wood) life has been, to put it lightly, difficult. Currently living home with his mother, the troubled young man is coming off alcohol-related struggles. So when he receives an unexpected letter from his estranged father requesting a visit, Norval catches a bus up to his dad’s secluded and scenic waterfront home.

Maybe reconnecting with his father will give Norval the emotional fulfillment he’s been lacking. Before long, though, he notices something off about his dad, an uneasy feeling triggered by inappropriate comments and a possible over-dependence on booze. Norval quickly realizes that his hope of father/son bonding is doomed. Instead of a family reunion, he finds himself in waking nightmare.” (Tribeca Film Festival)

We are giving away five double passes to this film on our Facebook page, alternatively, send us an email and tell us why you should go see the film. It’s that easy. Email meadowbank1968@gmail.com to win!

In Cinemas February 20th

2019 Rating: R16, Violence, sexual references & offensive language 93 mins

Midway Film Review

Midway Film Review

Words Mike Beck

With a penchant for the spectacle, Roland Emmerich’s latest effort is a period piece adapted from events during the Second World War. Midway is a tour-de-force big-budget extravaganza, given a larger than life treatment in a way that only Emmerich knows how.

With screen credits that run long & strong in the disaster film genre, fans of Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, White House Down etc) won’t be let down with more of the same with Midway. Based on WWII conflicts between Japan & the United States, the film recounts the battle strategies & war-gaming from the late 1930’s to early 40’s, delivered stylistically to make you feel like you’re a player inside a chess game of big boys toys.

“This is typical Emmerich though; a hard focus on the spectacle, an affinity for elaborate action sequences”

The literally explosive battle sequences suggest much money has been put into bringing Midway’s visual effects laden tale together. The CG era enables battleships to come to their demise in ways never before seen, while dogfights are intricately & expertly rendered, with live-action & SFX blended brilliantly. No expense has been spared with casting either, as Ed Skrein (superhero pilot Dick Best), Patrick Wilson (Ed Layton) & Aaron Eckhart (Jimmy Doolittle) mix it with veterans Woody Harrelson (Nimitz) & Dennis Quaid (‘Bull’ Halsey). In this Top Gun style tale, they have all the right moves.

Midway does maintain its pacing at breakneck, with even the quieter moments driven along with a modern brooding soundtrack. This is perhaps intrusive & distracting at times; breaking the illusion of the time in which it is set, plus the lack of space and dynamics, particularly in pivotal dialogue driven scenes.

This is typical Emmerich though; a hard focus on the spectacle, an affinity for elaborate action sequences, with characters portrayed & played out as iconic hero’s tailor-made for the Hollywood system. Although based on historic figures with key involvement in one chapter of WWII, the storytelling & tone of Midway doesn’t make clear whether it is a pro or anti-war film. The tropes of honour, bravery, dignity & pride give the film a ‘Cowboys vs Indians’ matinee sensibility.

There’s another war film occupying our big-screens at present. 1917, by Sam Mendes, is very much the anti-thesis of Midway, set during the Great War, told in an intimate way with effects of a whole other kind. If you get to the cinema often & you’re a war film fan, go see them both. Midway will show you just what happens when fire meets fire, but for the cinephiles, Mendes’ film is something else.

Laneway Festival 2020 Review

Laneway Festival 2020 Review

Words Zoë Reid

I simply couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Auckland Anniversary Weekend than by heading down to the annual St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Considering Laneway has reached its eleventh year (and fourth at the iconic Albert park location), expectations were running high with fans, to what turned out to be another fantastic festival. The fact that it was held on a particularly picturesque sunny Summer’s day certainly didn’t hurt things either. Here’s a run down on my Festival Highlights from the day’s proceedings.

Soaked Oats – 12.15 pm
I started the day off right by paying a visit to Soaked Oats’ Princes street stage set. The four-piece band from Dunedin set the tone for the day perfectly. With their smooth vocals and cruisey beach-like vibes, Soaked Oats brought a great energy to the stage.

The band members were playing synchronised to a tee, and really brought out the best in each others performance. Their whole performance looked effortless. As early on in the day as it was, the sun was already beating down on us. This however did not seem to stop anyone from dancing. With their summery vibe people couldn’t help but start grooving along.
Shuggah Doom was one of my personal favourite tracks of the set, which I felt showcased their sound perfectly.

My Mud Your Shoes was a self declared love song by lead singer Oscar Mein, “So grab somebody to do.. that with” he said as he gestured wildly. The entire crowd was dancing by the time they got to Avocado Aficionado, no small feat considering they were amongst the very first acts of the day! In short Soaked Oats was a whole lot of fun, mega talented and seem like super sweet guys. Would absolutely recommend checking them out when you next get the chance.

BBNO$ – 2.40pm
I have to admit, I didn’t quite know what to expect from BBNO$ (pronounced baby no money), but the longer I watched his performance, the more I began to really like the guy. The 24 year old rapper from Vancouver, Canada had a heavy but charming accent. He was all about the crowd interaction.

Something I think boded well for those who weren’t already fans, as you really got to see his personality shine through. He played some fun tunes such as Nursery (inspired by songs like Mary had a little lamb and fee-fi-fo-fum) and Sriracha named after the popular hot sauce. He seemed like a really humble guy, giving attention to his DJ (Dan) at any given chance, and getting the crowd to cheer his name to hype him up. Also with BBNO$ means you will absolutely never be short of pop culture references, whether it’s talking about blowing up on Tik Tok, or the fact that Tesla mogul Elon Musk is allegedly a fan of their music, there is always something fresh and current weaved in his music.

Whilst rapping Shining on my Ex, BBNO$ told the crowd to sing along if you can relate. Believe me when I say it was an overwhelming majority of the people in the crowd who could relate to that sentiment. As he launched into the song he is famously known for Lalala, he literally Rick-rolled us, singing Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up instead of playing the track. The vocals were honestly quite impressive. He did however end on ‘Lalala which everyone in the vicinity knew and had a good ol’ dance to. A surprisingly fun set, well played BBNO$, I am converted.

Swidt – 4.10 pm
The popular Kiwi Hip-Hop group started off strong with their hit song Who Run It – people came flocking from all areas as soon as they heard it. The sea of self proclaimed Hawaiian-shirt mafia a copy cat of their stage heroes, who were sporting the popular Island mode shirt themselves – Their beats and lyrics were on point, really heavy. Of course the usual clichés were there, “When I say ‘Stoney’, you say ‘Hunga”.

Chanting 3-1… 2. 3-1… 2. They launched into 312, with one of the members adding, “Auckland Transport took our bus! Fuck Auckland transport!”. (The iconic bus was called 312 from Onehunga and AT took it away, very sentimental to a lot of people as they wanted their bus back).

Other highlights of their set was OMC’s classic How Bizarre and Scribe’s How Many Dudes You Know Roll Like (This) both covers had the crowd in fits and was apt adding to the warm buzz in the crowd. Sunscreen was premium at this point as the group hyped and rapped their way through the crowd pleasing set, ending on Little Did She Know and a heartfelt tribute to deceased Basketball Legend Kobe Bryant.

Benee – 5.10 pm
Gracing our stages for the second year in a row, young and upcoming NZ pop artist Benee put on a simply adorable performance. Last year she had only a few songs but she had absolutely no trouble attracting a large crowd.

It’s actually refreshing watching her, you can tell she is super twee and has that excitable energy like she really wants to be there. This year however, the entire Princes Street stage was packed, you couldn’t fit more people on that street if you tried. I think that in itself is really a testament to how hard Benee has worked this past year, and just how far she’s come. Performing her catchy single Tough Guy, she displayed a really commanding stage presence well beyond her years.

Soaked was a crowd favourite and she performed it in both the English and Maori version of the song! A super cool move in my opinion. Spider brought all the loved up couple’s out and everyone was singing and dancing along, Benee included. Her stage presence is really something else and her confidence and dance moves were on point. With her endearing kiwi lilt, Benee is easily New Zealand’s Queen of modern easy-going Pop. Ending the set on a high, her hit song Glitter got every last person up and doing that famous (and cute) Tik Tok dance. Gorgeous vocals and a crazy good time. 10/10 Benee.

Earl Sweatshirt – 7.10 pm

After anxiously waiting all day for Earl’s set, I finally got what I had been waiting for, and he absolutely did not disappoint. My top Spotify artist for 2019 happened to be Earl Sweatshirt, so one could say I’m a little bias. But fan or not, he put on a show like no other.

He said mentally he “Wasn’t in the best place right now, ”and looked a little worse for wear, but that did not stop him from delivering word for word like an absolute god (lmao). He came out with a bottle of Sprite. He fired up the crowd with Pre off his album called Doris – the beat went so hard it really resonated with the crowd, also helped it was an old crowd favourite.

The sub bass was so strong I could feel it booming in my bones. The majority of songs played were off the album Some Rap Songs which is truly a masterpiece, no exaggeration. He then played an unreleased song never before heard at the end. Earl was regal he had great banter with his DJ goofing around in between songs. The crowd was blown away in every aspect, his lyricism, rap skills, production everything was perfect. So good.

Other highlights were UK R&B Queen Mahalia, the self confessed “drunk text queen”, after one too many wines. Her advice for girls, “You do not have to wear a bra, literally ever if you don’t want to.”

American Mexican singer Omar Apollo was a surprise for me. His stunning vocal range on Kickback mixed with electronic funk beats, were popular with the crowd. He even spoke Spanish during the set, on the last song rapping he cried “Get fucking crazy with this one, you ain’t ever seen a brown boy like this”.

Laneway 2020 was the perfect sun-kissed start to the year. The local/international music, the energy and Summer vibe really makes this event hard to beat. Roll on next Summer I say.

Watch Yumi Zouma’s new video ‘Cool For A Second’ out today

Watch Yumi Zouma’s new video ‘Cool For A Second’ out today

Today, indie-pop creative force Yumi Zouma are kicking off the year strong with the announcement of their highly-anticipated third album Truth or Consequences due out March 13 on POD/Inertia. The band has also shared single ‘Cool For A Second‘, accompanied by a video directed by Nick MckkChristie Simpson’s wispy vocals elegantly blend against the song’s soft pop beats, expressing melancholic hope, the song embraces the idea that life does not always provide answers nor closure and captures the undeniable release that comes from saying the truth, even if only to oneself. Charlie Ryder, bassist for the group, explains the song was almost scrapped as a b-side before becoming a single, “The song was demoed in Los Angeles and then long forgotten, destined for the scrap heap. A spark of inspiration from Josh in the introduction reestablished that for us, the most conspicuous of melodies are often hidden in modest beginnings.”

Originally formed in New Zealand, the members of Yumi Zouma now come together from around the globe: New York City (Josh Burgess – guitar, vocals), London (Charlie Ryder – guitar, bass, keys), Christchurch, New Zealand (Christie Simpson – vocals, keys) and Wellington, New Zealand (Olivia Campion – drums). The band announced a common home with their signing announcement to Polyvinyl Record Co. alongside early single ‘Right Track / Wrong Man‘ which earned critical praise from Consequence of SoundFADERMTVPaste MagazineStereogum and Under The Radar

Photo Aaron lee

Distance can also manifest metaphorically, and it’s in these figurative chasms that Truth or Consequences, Yumi Zouma’s third album finds it’s narrative: romantic and platonic heartbreak, real and imagined emotional distance, disillusionment, and being out of reach. Produced by the band and mixed by engineer Jake Aron (Solange, Grizzly Bear, Snail Mail), it is a collection that embodies contemplation, duality and hard truths wrapped in soft aesthetic; a unified body of melody that connects the spaces in between.

Just Mercy Film Review

Just Mercy Film Review

words Wal Reid

” A system riddled with racial prejudice & social injustice, it’s difficult to believe this was Trumps’ America a couple of decades ago”‘

Usually Legal biopics bore the bat faeces out of me. The usual drawn out down-the-barrel style of courtroom drama usually ends in misery for the protagonist, so never any real surprises there. However, director Destin Daniel Cretton’s powerful drama, Just Mercy throws that idea into disarray.

An admirable line up of Hollywood stars here. Creed poster boy Michael B. Jordan, the versatile and talented Jamie Foxx, the sublime British actor Rafe Spall, and of late, Marvel’s Brie Larson. When it’s this good a cast it’s always hard to tell if this is going to be a winning formula or not. Rest assured, there are some great performances juxtaposed against the harrowing narrative of Alabama man African-American Walter “Johnny D” McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who in real life was convicted of the 1986 murder of Ronda Morrison.

Just Mercy recounts the true story of McMillian, who, with the help of young defence attorney Bryan Stevenson (Jordan), appeals his murder conviction. The film is based on the memoir of the same name, written by Stevenson. Cretton’s use of emotive in-your-face cinematography on people perfectly captures the emotion of his actors, to the point the viewer is sucked into his somber auteurist vortex.

Actor of the moment Brie Larson, who has worked on Cretton’s previous outings, The Glass Castle & Short Term 2, displays a certain empathy in her role as equal rights activist Eva Ansley. Her eighties wardrobe hangs off her character to a tee, as she teams up with screen hubby Doug Ansley (Dominic Bogart) to found the Equal Justice Initiative with Stevenson. Her support role in the film priceless.

“Be prepared to have your ideals shaken to the core and your tear glands charged..er… I mean challenged”

Just Mercy is a period commentary on the American economic and penal justice system, rather than a drama for drama sake. A system riddled with racial prejudice & social injustice, it’s difficult to believe this was Trumps’ America a couple of decades ago. It’s deeply seeded shame brought to light in these modern times absolutely defies belief, but makes for great viewing fodder.

I enjoyed this film. There’s nothing to dislike except maybe Larson’s benign pensive look throughout the movie, other than that, I had my eyeballs glued fixedly on the screen. Just Mercy is an emotive and powerful drama that is as every bit redemptive and its subject matter is morally unjust. Actor Tim Blake Nelson of O Brother, Where Art Thou? in my opinion, turns in the best performance of the film, as inmate snitch Ralph Myers. Even through his characters physical speech impediment, he shines radiantly.

Be prepared to have your ideals shaken to the core and your tear glands charged..er… I mean challenged. It’s a story that was needed to be told on the big screen, and deservedly so.

Rock trailblazers the Deftones, announce one-off Auckland show

Rock trailblazers the Deftones, announce one-off Auckland show

The secret is out! One of the World’s most iconic rock bands is coming to New Zealand. 
Deftones will perform a one-off concert in Auckland this March.

Presented by Fuzen, Storm The Gates and The Rock, Deftones will play at Trusts Arena on Sunday, March 15. Tickets are on sale 9.00am on Thursday, January 16 from Ticketfairy.com.

Spark customers will have the first shot at securing tickets with a 24-hour exclusive pre- sale starting 9.00am Wednesday January 15 until 9.00am Thursday January 16.

It is the first time the Californian alt-rockers have played in New Zealand since their triumphant mainstage set at Big Day Out in 2014.

The multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning Deftones have sold more than 10 million records worldwide since they formed in Sacramento in 1988. Made up of Chino Moreno [vocals, guitar], Stephen Carpenter [guitar], Frank Delgado [keys, samples], Abe Cunningham [drums], and Sergio Vega [bass], Deftones distill movements of cinematic rock, psychedelia, and shoegaze into an inimitable sound independent of boundaries. Skating past genre lines, they remain cited as one of rock’s most influential and impactful acts.

Deftones’ career spans three platinum albums – ADRENALINE [1995], AROUND THE FUR [1997], and WHITE PONY [2000] – as well as a 2001 Grammy Award, a gold album DEFTONES [2003], and countless critical plaudits. Following the success of DIAMOND EYES [2010] and KOI NO YOKAN [2012], GORE bowed at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 in 2016, moving over 71,000 units first-week and marking their highest chart position in 13 years.

Not to mention, they curated, launched, presented, and headlined their own festival, Dia De Los Deftones, in 2018. Selling out both installments to date, the eclectic line-ups hosted everyone from Future and CHVRCHES to Gojira and Megan Thee Stallion.
Fuzen, Storm The Gates and The Rock presents: Deftones 

Trusts Arena, Auckland – Sunday, March 15
Spark Pre-sale: 
9.00am, Wednesday January 15 – 9.00am, Thursday January 16
(24 Hours)
Tickets on sale:
 9.00am, Thursday, January 16 from Ticketfairy.com
The Gentlemen Film Review

The Gentlemen Film Review

Words Sarah Kidd

“If seriously high levels of profanities and realistic blood splatters are not your thing, then this may not be the right choice for the weekly date night”

After more than a few years of dabbling in mainstream film endeavours such as Sherlock Holmes and the questionable Aladdin, Guy Ritchie has finally returned to his crime comedy roots with his latest offering The Gentlemen.
Fans of his similar earlier creations such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the brilliant Snatch and RocknRolla will undoubtedly enjoy Ritchie’s new project which follows a similar recipe, updated for the 2020’s. Once again as he did in Snatch twenty years ago, Ritchie chooses to mix the waters, his star-studded cast including both American and English actors.

Wisely however, he casts one of his biggest names – Matthew McConaughey – in the role of Mickey Pearson, an American schooled and now living and running his lucrative marijuana empire in the UK; Brad Pitt may have been able to pull off the ‘pikey’ accent – to great effect – in Snatch, but with that distinctive Texan drawl, casting McConaughey as anything but an American could have derailed the film before it had even started.

Employing his usual nonlinear narrative, The Gentlemen takes a good twenty minutes to get its feet under the table, pour a cup of tea and weave its story, but once it gets going it offers up a good range of interesting characters and a plotline that sees a profitable Pearson crave retirement, but only if the price is right and only if he leaves with his gangsta reputation intact.

Cue sub-plots that involve everything from bribery to blackmail to personal bodyguards packing machine guns, and of course a questionable Irishman with a penchant for using farm animals to get what he wants (fans of the science fiction television series Black Mirror might spot the similarities) and wearing plaid shell suits; Colin Farrell seeming so naturally made for the role that you do have to wonder if he just wandered onto the set and started playing himself.

While the cast includes such actors as Henry Golding as Dry Eye, Jeremy Strong as the conniving Matthew Berger, desperate to get his hands on Pearson’s empire no matter what it takes, and the fantastic Michelle Dockery as the completely unflappable Rosalind Pearson, wife and Queen of the aforementioned Mickey, it is none other than Hugh Grant that is the keystone.

A journalist of questionable integrity Fletcher (Grant) has been squirreling away information like nuts for winter in the hopes of blackmailing Pearson and retiring to some tropical island for the rest of his miserable days. Not stupid enough to approach Pearson directly, he instead shows up on the doorstep of Raymond (Charlie Hunnam), Pearson’s personal shadow, who while despite being always impeccably dressed is not at all averse to using force in the form of a bullet to the back of the head if so required.

Despite the overall impressive casting, it is Hunnam and Grant that really make the film, those used to seeing Grant in his usual sappy roles in numerous rom-coms in for a pleasant surprise as his lecherous persona and humorous story-telling peppered with all the slang fans of Guy Ritchie’s have come to expect, intertwines itself throughout the plot. Balancing it all out, the cool, calm and ever calculating character of Raymond, sees a nice departure for Hunnam from his role as Jax in Sons of Anarchy.

“Despite the overall impressive casting, it is Hunnam and Grant that really make the film”

Needless to say, this is a Guy Ritchie movie, so if seriously high levels of profanities and realistic blood splatters are not your thing, then this may not be the right choice for the weekly date night.
But make no mistake about it, Ritchie is back.

Much Ado About Nothing – Pop Up Globe Review

Much Ado About Nothing – Pop Up Globe Review

Words Mike Beck

Throughout its several seasons in action, The Pop-Up Globe has provided innovative productions at a very unique venue that is really something to be experienced if you’re an appreciator of live theatre. High standards, updating/mashing up & re-contextualising classic plays, & pushing the boundaries of theatre have always been the philosophy of Pop-Up productions.

With this summer’s Shakespeare retrospective (which also includes Romeo & Juliet) Much Ado About Nothing is given the rom-com treatment, while sticking with the ethos to stretch conventions, but upping the anti even more so. Players are given a platform to stretch, while challenged to be alert for improvisational moments, as well as substantial physical acting demands. Writing in the venue itself as a character, several actors find themselves roaming the teared catacombs interacting with the audience, climbing and abseiling down the structures scaffolding. Just how they got this one past OCH is anyone’s guess.

Transposed to the holiday stopover of the South Pacific, Much Ado About Nothing adheres in part to Shakespeare’s original text, while meshing modern cultural themes and ideas. The play stocks plenty of Kiwi & PI humour and references. Very much a match-making/who will wed who tale, this version will have you rooting for any potential hookup hinted at throughout the two part show.

The cast and musicians are drawn from a troupe known as The Northumberland Theatre Company, a group conjoined with the venue. There’s a great display of talent in the mix here; Jess Hong & Theo David play the central couple to be, while James Maeva & Renee Lyons embellish the courting antics which seemingly appear to transpire across the board. Veterans Greg Johnson & Stephen Lovatt add their experience with great aplomb.

The Pop-Up Globe in summer gives you the opportunity to make a night of it; an enclosed garden bar, food/beverages available pre-show, and a chance to mingle with the cast too if that’s your bag. The venue itself is one you’ll want to investigate, its open-roofed design and standing room floor give it very much a street performance setting. Finding your seats inside the myriad levels of the Globe is an adventure in itself, ushers are on hand if you lose your way.

Sadly, this is the season finale of the Pop-Up Theatre in its posited location of the Ellerslie Showgrounds in Greenlane. The show & transportable venue goes on the next road after summer, around the country & abroad. Make it a priority to catch Much Ado About Nothing this summer, where else are you gonna find the unlikely mix of Shakespeare & Cook Island log drumming?

On now until 1st March 2020 at the Auckland Anthony Harper Pop-up Globe Theatre