words Deb C
Directed by Scott Teems, the ambiguously titled The Quarry, quickly becomes clear that it is both human and actual.
Personal narrative and feeling seem to be buried deep and communication struggles to break through and fails, generally speaking. The original novel, by Damon Galgut, was based in the endless veldts of Africa, a harsh place where surviving the desolate setting could only emphasise the conflict created by the human animal. Whereas this Indie movie has been set in small town West Texas, America, close to the border. The only apparent conflict created by man himself, the usual litany of murder, racism, betrayal etc, etc.
The town of Bevel has few visible inhabitants. The action moves between the sparsely furnished church, police station, the quarry and the house where the minister rooms. Apart from the slowly growing congregation( mainly of mixed race and underprivilege), the characters are limited to “David Martin” the false minister (Shea Whigman), Chief of Police of the chiselled chin(Michael Shannon) and his two subordinate, bully boys, Celia,( Catalina Sandino Moreno) the housekeeper and part time lover of the Chief of Police (too often making her appearance in her dressing gown), and the two young Mexicans(Bobby Soto and Alvaro Martinez) , soon to bear the blame for a gringo’s crime.
The fugitive (who remains nameless) is on the run for his crimes (arson and murder) and compounds these sins with the murder of the good Samaritan, a minister who attempts to help him both physically and spiritually,”You can talk to me…” This nameless one continues with his inability to communicate truly unless it is in his sermons where he preaches to the small congregation in Bevel in the character of his assumed minister’s identity. His preachings are simply taken from The Bible and reflect what we know as his real situation, ”I am a sinner.” True but misdirecting, and the Chief of Police and his attitude to ”just another illegal” fails to follow up on his unease and the clues that could save the life of the innocent accused.
Despite being haunted by flash backs of a burning building and his confinement in what seems to be a coffin the audience finds little to empathise with. The use of over shoulder camera shots seems to help, or hinder, this sense of distance. Personal conversations with the housekeeper are the only moments where “David” shows a more caring nature. He is typically closed off in his solitariness and refusal to share anything of himself.
His Damascus moment in court is his last chance for redemption, but like Peter (The Gospel of John 18:13–27 ) he is not able to state the truth as demanded “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times. And he went outside and wept bitterly”. The nameless one follows in his inability to follow the dictates of his conscience and disowns his own identity three times, symbolically shrugging off his cassock as he exits into the darkness and retribution.
This film was intermittently intriguing in its attempt to show a deeply flawed antagonist, troubled by his inner urging to cleanse himself of sin and his inability to do so. For this viewer, there was too much silence and not enough translation for mere mortals. (From Rumi’s words “Silence is the language of god.”)
Words Mike Beck
“An excellently executed and understated drama”
Surprisingly a lot can happen in a small seaside town. Well within a household, in the case of this little film. Hope Gap is a family film for adults, or more accurately the story of a family unit of three breaking down.
Veteran writer William Nicholson (Shadowlands, Gladiator, Everest) not only directs Hope Gap, but also adapted the screenplay from his experience as a youth growing up during the separation of his parents. His personal touch provides a sensitivity to this tale, as Edward (Bill Nighy) decides to leave his wife Grace (Annette Benning) after many years of marriage to her. Making things all the more difficult is their son Jamie (Josh O’Connor) is caught up in the middle.
Hope Gap is a tonally conservative slow-paced British drama, with themes that explore the dynamics of relationships and family, and the fallout when things dismantle. The story is told from the perspective of the trio of core characters, giving you the viewer a choice on who to identify/side with.
Bill Nighy seems to deliver for every role he takes on these days, and his performance here playing an understated character is spot on. The real hit here though is Benning, whose emotive range and no kinks Brit accent give her pole star status. Essentially Grace’s story, Benning’s ability to cover a broad character arc should see her get nods at next years awards nominations, hopefully.
Hope Gap will resonate with anyone from a fractured family, it’s fact based content & empathetic acting help build its authenticity. Some clever use of its locations and landscapes, along with a tight focus on the three central characters provide Hope Gap with an intimacy that paradoxically is what Benning’s character is in search of. An excellently executed and understated drama, Hope Gap’s subtle unravelling is such that it withholds enough information to keep you from guessing the outcome.
Out in cinemas September 24th
words Deb C.
Fatima, a dramatic retelling of three Catholic childrens’ apparent meeting with Our Lady. The three young Portuguese children and their families are among the many enduring the horrors of WW1.
Standing in the square as the Mayor of Fatima calls out the lists of the deceased, wounded or missing, the close focus on the faces of mothers hearing of their losses is hard to bear, let alone to experience. Little wonder then that some wish to believe so fervently in the children’s retelling of their visions.
“And it is this that makes the film compelling. The apparent conflict between faith and reason.”
The film opens with dark shots of shadowy caves and the sense of foreboding and mysticism is emphasised by glimpses caught of religious paintings depicting agonies suffered by souls in torment. For the message received from the Lady is one of the need for suffering and atonement. She says that the Father has been insulted and foretells major world events if the offending continues. As beautiful as her manifestation is, her message hardly seems motherly. In fact, Lucia’s own mother disbelieves her and punishes her for her deceitfulness in continuing her insistence that she is telling the truth.
The film continues to highlight just how astonishing is Lucia’s ability to stand against, not only her own mother, but the dictates of the town mayor himself. (A firm non believer, angry with the superstitious nonsense espoused by many of his town’s people). And it is this that makes the film compelling. The apparent conflict between faith and reason.
For many of us, we will struggle with the nature of the miraculous appearance of the Madonna yet Lucia (the oldest and most obdurate) of the three children remains convinced of the authenticity of her visions for the rest of her life. Interviewed by a clearly sceptical academic, Lucia, now a nun, simply states “I can only give you my testimony, I don’t have answers for everything.”
There are no answers given, no absolutes. However, the audience may well exit pondering the nature not only of their beliefs but the absolute place that reason has been given in our present- day life. If we can not touch it, record it, analyse it (or buy it) then it is now not seen as valid. Yet Maori philosophy of Hauora takes into consideration not only physical health but mental, emotional, social and spiritual well- being.
Perhaps this film will cause us to question not only our values but the value of our personal beliefs.
Words Deb C.
“It’s not a walk in the park. Nor a film just aimed at our aging population.”
Two late middle- aged Brits walk in the parks of North London. Fern (Alison Steadman) prickly and protective and Dave (Dave Johns) a retired nurse desperate for companionship and love, meet through the agency of their dogs (No need for Bumble or Tinder here) all you need is a feisty terrier and a gentle shaggy German shepherd. They say dogs reflect their owners’ characters and that certainly is the case here. The terrier (as terriers do) quick to say their piece and the Shepherd loyal and steady.
Over these 23 walks and the change in seasons, Fern slowly, and in fits and starts, comes to see that Dave may in fact be a man who can be trusted. Dave endures and continues to offer kindness and understanding while undergoing trials that would break many. At times he seems almost unbelievably understanding as Fern reacts angrily to perceived mistruths.
Each character carries baggage that is slowly revealed, complicated family relationships, long held griefs, all the experiences that a longer life contains. This autumn relationship is not only sweet and hopeful. The parks Fern and Dave walk show the bleakness of winter and the change of seasons to be a natural occurrence, just like the cycle of happy ups and bitter downs of any person trying to communicate over long- held barriers.
The beauty of the English landscape creates a fitting setting for the hope that each new human connection can bring. Loneliness is many peoples’ constant companion and this film at least attempts to show the possibilities that can abound. Fern and Dave learn the happiness of creating new memories not just reliving old ones. Perhaps we could all dance through the woods singing “Mud, glorious mud.”
Words Deb C.
A 1936 Rolls Royce car, an eccentric English corporate lawyer and his wife (Rupert and Jan Grey) set out on a road trip through Northern India. As you do. Director/producer Oliver McGarvey persuades Rupert Grey that the journey needs recording and is allowed to film the group’s regal progress.
Footage of the road trip is interspersed with commentary from friends and the Grey’s daughters. All are united in their admiration for the energy and stubbornness of “Rupe”, but all are aware that much of what is accomplished is due to the strength and support of Jan, Rupert’s wife.
Indeed, although the road trip is fascinating in itself, the relationship between Rupert and his wife is equally captivating. The depth of their affection after 35 years of marriage is both affirming and worthy of respect. Rupert himself says “I would have done the trip with nobody else but Jan.”
Rupert, as the central character, is just the sort of buccaneer that one would imagine setting forth on a trip that many would deem foolhardy. However, his adventuring spirit is appealing as he comments that “journeys are about risks” and clearly with his wife, believes that they want to “step outside habitual boundaries.” And they do, yet we are aware that their ‘whiteness’, and thus their privilege, protects them from the true realities of India. Powerful connections ease their path.
A gentle paced music soundtrack supports the slow pace of the road trip and seems to emphasise the very English way of travel. The well- spoken, slightly eccentrically dressed gentleman on his O.E interacting quietly with the natives along the way. Very, jolly good chaps and restrained good manners.
A quietly intriguing movie, one that deliberately allows a thread of unease to run throughout. The Rolls and its British occupants progress through a country of beautiful palaces, temples and poverty and dis-ease.
For this viewer, more in- depth local Hindi interactions could have added to the film’s emotional appeal. A T.V series would be a natural follow up, allowing more of the close up and “in it” view of India and the Grey’s voyage.
In cinemas August 13th
Words Glenn Blomfield
This film came across as one of those pleasant surprises. The Vigil is from first time feature film director Keith Thomas, who is also the film’s writer. From Production Company BLUMHOUSE, which has some hit Horror films, like Get Out, Us, Halloween (2018), Vigil is the type of horror film that I love, that ‘old school’ horror that builds on tension, suspense, and gets under your skin and into your psyche, making you feel uncomfortable.
What is also intriguing with The Vigil is the unique Jewish perspective. Now I can’t say I am familiar in anyway of Jewish religion and faith. Though with the angle director/writer Keith Thomas takes with it, makes for some chilling and haunting suspense.
When first stepping into the film, you initially feel like a stranger in a strange environment. We are looking inside a apartment with a small group of young people, talking in a meeting, about establishing themselves in a normal world, now that they have left their Orthodox Jewish community. Exiled, and very unfamiliar what life is like in a world that we except is everyday life. Here we are introduced to our Protagonist Yakov Ronen (played by Dave Davis) who is not able to earn a living to pay for rent and medication for anxiety and depression. Leaving this meeting, waiting outside in the street during the night, is a Rabbi, who he knows. This meeting sets up the films scenario nicely, which takes place over the next five hours.
Yakov being vulnerable, accepts a job as a Shomer, where he takes a vigil over a recent departed Jewish body. Watching over the body ’til morning light. Though with this vigil there is a malevolent evil force/presence that has hold over the recent departed. With the skill of the writing. director Thomas creates a very scary environment, building on psychological tension. The haunting past intertwines with the vigil. The setting, a dark shadowy home, that houses the old widow (Mrs Litvak), still home lurking within its dark corners.
The recently departed cadaver lays in the living room in state. Our protagonist sitting alone in vigil, we also sit as the viewer, also staring at the body, with these long moments, we feel the unsettling suspense growing, our imagination leading us into the dark corners of the home. Did we see something move, is there something else? This is where the success of the film works, creeping under your sensory senses and making for a great scary haunting ride.
Davis aka Yakov Ronen, holds the film nicely together, he arches his character very convincingly, and we feel his vulnerability. The premise of the Orthodox Jewish Community and culture makes for a unique twist in the Horror genre, it could be the making for a movie franchise, even a TV mini series. If I was to to have one quibble, it is the use of mobile phone texting, its one of those problematic issues that filmmakers have to deal with, i.e. how to show someone texting without always showing the phone, which shows the text appearing on the screen. With a film like The Vigil which relies a lot on drawing you into a dark environment, the texting graphics on the screen can pull you out for a moment.
The Vigil is a welcome surprise into the Horror genre. Who knew Orthodox Jewish faith could make for a really scary horror film? This is not gory, jump scare, horror, this is a dramatic haunting film. I for one really enjoyed The Vigil. More of these please.
In cimemas now.
words Wal Reid
Local musician Tim Allen has the kind of voice that emulates the British vibe of say, The Beatles, Richard Ashcroft or Oasis’s Liam Gallagher. Simple songs that deliver its message straight and true, while pulling no punches. A collection of tunes that demand an audience; plus, he even has the English lilt to go with it. His UK Tour was set to go ahead this year until a little thing called Covid put a halt to that.
Born and raised in Preston, Lancashire in England, Allen has of late kept a healthy profile within the Kiwi music scene. Having minor success in Auckland with his band Stormporter (which he started with Scottish musician Antony ‘Tones’ Thorburn), add to the mantle a few independent E.Ps, then scoring an agent deal with local legend Jan Hellriegel’s Songbroker, It’s quite the story that defies belief. Given what Allen has personally overcome to get to where he is, the songs signal a triumphant victory – gritty, soft edged melodies giving way to his sometimes overtly honest convictions.
Get Out Clause has a Warren Zevon-esque vibe that captures quintessential mood of the album, while songs like the cordial warmth of One Door Closes (One Door Opens) or the self-discovery gem of Different Shore wonderfully outlines the tone for this travelling minstrel. You almost get a sense of Allen’s nomadic soul, reaching its destination after listening to this collection of well honed tunes.
The sophomore collection of songs covers a gamut of honest truths. From the loss of a loved one, Joan Don’t Go, to being diagnosed with ADHD, Won’t Let You Win, Allen bares his soul with the grafting of his Brit-Pop DNA and new found Kiwi mettle. It really does make for a refreshing but well crafted listen.
Add to that, a stellar and punchy production, thanks to Kiwi legend Ben King (Golden Horse), and featuring some of New Zealand’s crème de la crème musicians including Ben King, Milan Borich (Pluto), Toni Randle (Eyreton Hall) and you have a recipe for a well rounded listen.
If you are wondering where to get your fill of local talent, check out The Last Bastion Of A Lad, it’s cheeky, its ponderous and hits all the right places – Something tells me this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the talented singer/songwriter. Check out Tim as he plays the country supporting his album, kicking off next week at Lyttelton’s Wunderbar, all details below.
Tim Allen THE LAST BASTION OF A LAD Tour http://www.facebook.com/events/261986225066640/
The Bastion Of A Lad is now available on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and all good digital sites.
Words Deb C
“When Britt-Marie, age 63, leaves her husband after 40 years of marriage, she is forced to reconsider her life and break up with old habits in order to meet the real world. . Perhaps there is a second chance in life – perhaps it’s never too late to start living”
Britt-Marie Was Here (you can tell by the traces of baking soda) is a subtitled film based on a novel by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman, again, featuring a socially awkward central protagonist.
Britt- Marie is a charming, if slight, portrayal of a woman working out how best to live the remaining years of her life. Pernilla August plays Britt-Marie, a 60’ish betrayed wife. Having bulwarked her life with the domestic mantra of ”cleanliness is next to godliness” she finds herself in the isolated community of Borg, Sweden.
Having accepted the job of community worker she, who knows little of football, and couldn’t care less, has to set about working with the local disaffected youth whose only passion is football. Of course, her first reaction is to clean but slowly she is forced to interact with the children and becomes part mother, part not-very-successful coach.
Whenever her situation threatens to overwhelm her, she reminds herself to” Take one day at a time, Britt- Marie, one day at a time”.
There are many moments in this film which will resonate with women of a certain age. The sense that the necessary household chores are unrecognised, undervalued and invisible, that “all your dreams and choices might have been for someone -else.” However, the cast of characters manage to engage our sympathies and liking.
Watching the ill trained football team we can only hope for some successful outcome of the tournament and celebrate the meagre but significant score.
Director, Tuva Novotny, has stayed fairly true to the understated and restrained nature of Backman’s writing. Although, choosing to leave some of the grittier events out of the film may have lessened its lasting effect.
In cinemas July 30th.
|FIRST LINE-UP ANNOUNCE FOR BAY DREAMS 2021 IS SET TO STEAL THE SHOW THIS SUMMERGRAMMY AWARD-WINNING FLUME TO HEADLINE ALONGSIDE PENDULUM TRINITY & PEKING DUKSUMMER’S PREMIUM LINE-UP FEATURES ACTS FROM NEW ZEALAND & AUSTRALIA |
With the world’s live music industry hit hard by COVID, New Zealand is now primed to bring music lovers one of the best summers on record. And leading the charge is the country’s biggest and most popular festivals, Bay Dreams.
Organisers have been hard at work securing some of Australasia’s top acts for Bay Dreams 2021, which will be held at Trust Power Bay Park at The Mount on January 3 and also at Trafalgar Park in Nelson on January 5, 2021.
Presented by Greenroom Vodka and The Edge, Bay Dreams 2021 will be headlined by the Grammy Award-winning Australian act, Flume. Other big names also featuring on the 2021 line-up include Pendulum Trinity, Peking Duk, George Maple, HP Boyz (North Island), L.A.B (South Island) Montell2099, The Upbeats & Tali, Sachi and Nyxen.
An exciting second line-up announce is also coming soon!
Flume is without question one of the most well-known names in electronic music. The Australian producer rose to prominence as a teenager in 2012 with his self-titled debut. The album topped the ARIA charts and took four spots in triple j’s coveted Hottest 100. It set the scene for international stardom, with Flume going on to perform at festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza and then returning with his Grammy-winning album SKIN, which featured the hits ‘Never Be Like You’ and ‘Kai’. Flume has continued to dominate charts and festival stages around the world.
In March 2019, Flume shared HI THIS IS FLUME, a 38 minute mixtape and his first music since the widely-acclaimed and globally successful LP, SKIN. The mixtape showcases Flume‘s talents as a pioneering electronic producer, one admired for exploring and melding complex sounds and making them sound like they’ve always existed. It’s accompanied by a striking visualiser directed by Harley’s friend and collaborator, Jonathan Zawada.
His latest song, ‘The Difference’ is a collaboration with Toro Y Moi. Speaking of the release, Flume says: “We made this song between a day at my place in LA and a day at Chaz’s spot in Oakland. This was our first time working together, I’ve been a Toro Y Moi fan for a while. His song ‘Talamak’ is a longtime favourite. I listened to that one a lot when I first started Flume as a project.”
Last week, he dropped a surprise remix of Eiffel 65’s ‘Blue’ – which started as a quarantine Instagram post and evolved to a release after messaging with the original band members during lockdown.
The electronic extraordinaire will share the bill with fellow Australian acts such as Pendulum Trinity, a concept launched in late 2019 by the famed trio Pendulum; and dynamic duo Peking Duk, who made their mark with hits such as ‘High’ and ‘Stranger’ featuring Elliphant.
The exciting vocalist and producer George Maple, who has had more than 340 million streams on Spotify, makes her Bay Dreams debut in what promises to be an electrifying performance at both North and South festivals.
Meanwhile flying the flag for New Zealand, will be some of the best acts around. They include char-toppers L.A.B (South Island) – who recently sold out Auckland’s Spark Arena. Also on the bill is Montell2099, who before going into lockdown at home in NZ, was busy playing shows across the United States and wowing crowds with his fresh brand of moody, ethereal, bass-driven trap. Another is electro-pop duo Sachi, whose energetic live sets and hits such as ‘Sparking My Fire’ and ‘Shelter’ have made them festival favourites.
Other must-see acts on the first announcement are HP Boyz (North Island), The Upbeats & Tali, Home Brew, Nyxen, GG Magree, Katchafire, Royalston, Deadbeat, Concord Dawn, Melodownz, Fairbrother, Sin, Ekko & Sidetrack, and Dolphin Friendly. Stay tuned for the second line-up announcement coming soon with more big names still to be announced.
Tickets on sale from www.baydreams.co.nz at
7.00pm Thursday July 16
Over his storied career, Judd Apatow has elevated a series of promising young comedy talents to their first major big-screen performance, including Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Amy Schumer and Kumail Nanjiani.
On July 16, Apatow directs Saturday Night Live breakout Pete Davidson in a bracing comedy about love, loss and laughter in THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND.
Scott (Davidson) has been a case of arrested development ever since his firefighter father died when he was seven. He’s now reached his mid-20s having achieved little, chasing a dream of becoming a tattoo artist that seems far out of reach. As his ambitious younger sister (Maude Apatow, HBO’s Euphoria) heads off to college, Scott is still living with his exhausted ER nurse mother (Oscar® winner Marisa Tomei) and spends his days smoking weed, hanging with the guys—Oscar (Ricky Velez, Master of None), Igor (Moises Arias, Five Feet Apart) and Richie (Lou Wilson, TV’s The Guest Book)—and secretly hooking up with his childhood friend Kelsey (Bel Powley, Apple TV+’s The Morning Show.
But when his mother starts dating a loudmouth firefighter named Ray (Bill Burr, Netflix’s F Is for Family), it sets off a chain of events that will force Scott to grapple with his grief and take his first tentative steps toward moving forward in life.
The film also stars Steve Buscemi as Papa, a veteran firefighter who takes Scott under his wing, and Pamela Adlon (FX’s Better Things) as Ray’s ex-wife, Gina.
The King of Staten Island is directed by Apatow (Trainwreck, Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) from a script by Apatow, Davidson and former SNL writer Dave Sirus. It is produced by Apatow for his Apatow Productions alongside Barry Mendel. Together, the duo shared producing credits on the Academy Award®-nominated films The Big Sick and Bridesmaids, as well as This Is 40, Trainwreck and Funny People. The film’s executive producers are Pete Davidson, Michael Bederman and Judah Miller.
THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND – in cinemas July 16.
Devilskin are excited to announce a New Zealand wide tour to support their chart-topping new album RED! With the lifting of crowd and venue restrictions, and due to massive demand, Devilskin will hit the road this August.
The response to the album has been incredible right around the globe, with rave album reviews and fast additions to radio airplay at home and across the UK, Europe and US, Devilskin are amped to do what they do best – play live.
“We can’t wait to get amongst our good friends and celebrate RED, the music and the messages on this album are real and especially poignant. We are extremely proud of these songs and the whole package of the album, but make no bones about it, this tour will be a party!” bassist Paul Martin contends “Everyone’s lives have been affected by Covid-19 to some degree, if anything, it’s made us appreciate our freedom and the simple joys of being with our friends to celebrate good times and good music. Let’s do that. I think we all need a party don’t we?”
With European tour dates on hold, the band are keen to treat their homeland to the live debut of RED. Announcing a string of NZ and Australian dates, Devilskin promise a blistering new live show to promote this monster of an album.
“Once in a while a band comes along that breaks all the rules and delivers in spades. Devilskin is one of those bands, and with their third album Red, they have completely rewritten their own rules.” –Sentinel Daily
With a staggered album release of digital on 3rd April and physical albums out 1st May RED made its debut at #8 and then climbed to #2 on the Official Album chart while achieving their third #1 NZ Album.
“To say I’m a fan of this album is an understatement. Devilskin are a band that keep moving onward and Red deserves to be the making of this band outside of New Zealand.” –AllAboutTheRock
Devilskin will be joined by special guests Shepherds Reign at all shows. These rising stars from South Auckland have amassed international acclaim with their latest single Le Manu. Shepherds Reign say “It’s an honour for us to join Devilskin on tour in NZ. They’re well known for their epic live shows so we’re very excited to be a part of that. Following the success of ‘Le Manu’ reaching 1 million views on YouTube, we had big touring plans in the works for 2020 but like everyone else in the world we haven’t been able to get out there. This is a great time to return to the stage and we hope NZ is ready for this one two punch!”
The tour is proudly supported by Road and Sport and Harley-Davidson, Devilskin have forged a great relationship and a perfect synergy with the Harley-Davidson community. Road and Sport Harley-Davidson dealer principal Barry Sproule mentions of their partnership “We are absolutely stoked to support and share our Harley-Davidson brand and freedom machines with our local iconic and legendary rock and metal band Devilskin, both world class. We will be riding alongside supporting them throughout their NZ 2020 Tour.”
Tickets on sale Thursday 18th June 2020
Words Glenn Blomfield
History knows Marcel Marceau as the greatest Mime Artist of all time. His dedication to the Performing Arts is known the world over, and he is recogniseable everywhere and, every country. Director/Writer Jonathan Jakubowicz’s film Resistance, gives light to what many may not know, Marcel Marceau was also a War Hero. Helping to save hundreds of Jewish children while fighting with the French Resistance, the film concentrates on this period of Marceau’s life while he fought under Nazi occupation.
Hollywood actor Jesse Eisenberg (that accent!) takes on the enigmatic role of Marcel Marceau. Playing the role of a Jewish Boy Scout, he takes care of young Jewish orphans, and eventually ends up joining the French Resistance. Through the art of mime and entertaining children, Marceau helps the children navigate through the difficult Nazi occupation of France. The important part of this film is of course is Eisenberg’s portrayal of the famous ‘silent clown’. I must admit, I was surprised see Jesse cast in this role, but it doesn’t feel to me like the right choice. Actually, something inside me wishes it might’ve been better to have had a French actor. I wasn’t fully convinced of the nuance of Eisenberg as Marceau, to me he seemed too neurotic in candour and performance!
Now, if we can put aside these comments then there is a film here that is a rather poignant, dark and somber tale. There are a couple scenes that really have emotional punch, they play a reminder of a very dark time. It is definitely interesting to have a story of a man that is renown for enlightening the human heart through the craft of Mime, and then have a film that shows frankly the opposite, the despair and sadness of War. That being said, the film provides a direction towards hope, if not maybe a bit on the melodramatic. I am not quite sure the film gave me enough bite to know the person Marcel Marceau, but we do get the inkling of a War Hero, and the presence of some very troubling times.
Resistance is a conundrum of a film for me, I actually learnt things I did not know of Marcel Marceau, his amazing background, his Jewish heritage, how he got the name ‘Marcel Marceau’. His mindblowing story of being a war hero, and helping save the lives of hundreds of orphaned Jewish children is great to watch. From such despair, to a man that brought so much joy to thousands upon thousands of people throughout his life, is admirabe, but yet, I am left feeling I did not get the ‘real’ person of Marcel Marceau. There is an incredible story of a man, that deserves recognition. The film succeeds in revealing the horror of the Nazi forces and the atrocities committed during that time, but this wasn’t fully elevated by the portrayal of Eisenberg’s character. This brings me back to Jesse Eisenberg as the actor, the two do not fully combine to work in the narrative. The ‘resistance’ unfortunately was more a feeling on my behalf than the film’s intended box office effect.
Words Wal Reid
“The Assistant is a hard watch to maintain. If you thought Level 4 lockdown was difficult, then be prepared to meet your match”
Australian born film maker Kitty Green’s ‘fly on the wall’ film, revolves around central protagonist Jane (Julia Garner) a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer. She’s just landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul – yep, smacks of “50 Shades of Weinstein” here, however, that’s where the comparison ends and the drama unfolds.
While Jane goes about her daily routine, the camera scrutinises her every move, whim and emotion. Green’s keen camera-eye leans into the tropes of both Documentary & Drama genres. For the most part this works, but by the end of the film it leaves you empty pining more.
Ozark’s Julia Garner is sublime as the potty-mouthed Ruth Langmore opposite Drug Boss Jason Bateman. Here she is not given much of a template to work with, the canvas restrictive and dialogue is kept to a minimum, all which seem to suit the mandate of Green’s film.
Jane’s day is much like any other assistant – making coffee, ordering lunch, arranging travel accommodations and taking phone messages. But as Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the abuse that imbues every aspect of her workday.
Garner’s character is emotionally perturbed as she balances her conscience against the typical degradations happening in the work place. Bullying, sexual coercion, sexism, emotional abuse etc.. How that plays on the viewer’s own moral ethics is left open at the end of the film to maybe pontificate.
The Assistant is a hard watch to maintain. If you thought Level 4 lockdown was difficult, then be prepared to meet your match – the movie could probably do with some assistance in that regard.
Words Glenn Blomfield
“Convoluted as the story gets, an unsettling narrative sets in, just like a Rembrandt master with all its awe and mystery..”
Well, that turned out to be an unsuspecting surprise watch. What initially feels to be a pompous art world film, where snobbery, wealth and class is at the undertone of the Art World Society, turns out to be quite the opposite. Rembrandt’s paintings being a pedestal of ownership, the mystical and highest order of famed painters are regarded masterpieces. Rembrandt has been created into a religious icon, a spiritual endeavour and enigma to unlock, so of course this discourse with all its prestige played out, exposes the inevitable monetary wealth ownership.
Art Dealers, Historians, Collectors, Museums, all bidding their worth and power, as they battle with knowledge, class, power of prestige, and their unheralded power of monetary control. The lines then start becoming blurred; what is a masterpiece painter, without its created narrative? Is a Rembrandt just as important and powerfully beautiful, without its bidding war of ownership, money, and ego?
As you move delve into the documentary, the film pieces particular characters into the story start to stand out, and a jigsaw puzzle starts to come together that shakes the reality of the foundations of the Art World. Convoluted as the story gets, an unsettling narrative sets in, just like a Rembrandt master with all its awe and mystery, as is the Art World and critics created around such a painting. What is real, what really is the importance of the story? The importance of the creation of the painting, the importance that eventually comes into monetary wealth and ownership.
It is a conundrum that has you scratching your head at what really the Art World is about. Who says what, and who says this and that, what does this mean? etc, the quandary of what is a fake painting, and what is a fake Art World narrative, they work side by side. The old addage really does become the argument, it’s in the ‘eye of the Beholder’. The documentary focuses nicely on the Art World characters in Netherlands and France. The film includes interviews with people who own Rembrandts, they of incredible wealth, family prestige and pedigree. A deceitful world of Art Dealers, Art Museum Curators, Art Historians, all becoming a political world of exclusivity.
The documentary story builds, manifesting back and forth into a political PR communiqué. It certainly pulls you into mystical Art World that is rarely seen, beyond simply a Rembrandt painting hanging on a wall. The characters are of wealth and privileged, questioning why the fuss and importance. ‘My Rembrandt’ is an inconspicuous watch. It’s a very interesting perspective, it’s involving and mystifying, and definitely raises more questions than its worth.
Words Glenn Blomfield
Bait is an extraordinary film to review. It is difficult to box the film into a category to recommend to an audience. I will try describing it as an Art House Film, experimental in nature/style, but very nostalgic in its process, i.e golden age of silent, black & white films.
Bait feels raw, simple, you could be excused from saying it looks ‘amateur’, though don’t be fooled. For the first 15 or so minutes, you are trying to decipher the film, take it in and put together the pieces to make a coherent story, it’s a journey rewarded by the end. It takes a the crowd on a trip that encapsulates the film with visual poetry. It may feel surreal, like a dream, but Bait has potency and power.
The basic premise of the film is about two brothers, fishermen, struggling to make a living in their home village in Cornwall. They have inherited the family heritage of fishing from their dead father, but modern times are tough. Both brothers have alternative views, one can’t let go of the ‘fishing’ way of life, the other uses the fishing boat for tourism, visiting the village to make a monetary living.
“As you further delve into watching Bait, its cinematic language absorbs you into a beautiful moving experience”
When I say the film is “raw and simple”, I’m coming from a technical point of view. Director Mark Jenkin made the film using a 16mm Hand wound Bolex Camera using Kodak Black & White film. Sound wasn’t able to be recorded on set, all audio was dubbed later in post. To describe the look of the film, is like describing it found in a vault from the 1920’s. You can see flicker in the film, hair that was trapped in the gate of the camera, dirt contaminating the film negative. This old nostalgic look and style does not not distract from the film, actually I feel it enhances it.
It adds visual poetry, there is nostalgia that works as theme and tone, the film’s narrative and plot doesn’t rely on expository explanation. Its quietness and imagery subjected to subtext. As you further delve into watching Bait, its cinematic language absorbs you into a beautiful moving experience.
I conjure films of influence and comparison like Ingmar Bergman, Nicholas Roeg, even contemporary modern film ‘Witch’ and ‘Lighthouse’ from Director writer Robert Eggers, would make a great companion piece to this film. Bait is told like an old Fisherman’s tale, but set in a modern day world.
The two brothers are in conflict, separated by different views, both lives metaphorically ‘float lost at sea’. It is a microcosm of a world the brothers live in. The film world of Bait moves no further from the seaside tiny Fishing Village. There is the local pub, and the small harbouring shore, a frugal community. It’s a small existence, that has been disturbed by ‘outsiders’ bringing tourism dollars to their simple economical life. The word ‘community’ becomes a complicated expression.
“The drama is strong, its long lasting effect resonates like a dark haunting ode”
The drama is strong, its long lasting effect resonates like a dark haunting ode. Bait is a fresh breath of old sea air, it reminds me of the power of film and filmmaking. I was genuinely taken in. Surprised of its reminder retaining the magic, the mystery and power of film that still can found in minuscule budget, compared to mainstream movies. All achieved with outdated or lack of modern technology too. A beautiful and poetic marvel. Out in cinemas May 21st.
words Wal Reid
Rising New Zealand country music singer, songwriter and musician Grace Kelly released her debut EP entitled Before on Thursday 26 March. The talented Kiwi songstress burst onto the scene after a remarkable opportunity set her on an epic path of amazing experiences in a very short period of time.
Last year was a whirlwind year for her, with Californian city San José choosing her song San José as their theme song and pushing her further into the limelight. The song has now hit over 50,000 streams on Spotify.
Wal Reid caught up with her recently (phone – of course in this Covid new-norm) to ask her a few questions and how she got to open for country music giant and television personality Blake Shelton.
WR: Hey how you going Grace? Just cruising around at home I’m guessing?
GK: I’ve got instruments galore and just time, it’s beautiful. I’ve already written an isolation song. The first of many, yes. Locked Up is the initial title. The concept was if you had to be locked up in a house that you’d be with a said person – sort of a love story. But if you were locked up with this person, it would actually be ok if you had to stay inside.” Even if you’re with people you love and care about, it’s not going to be that bad. I’m just here with my family and it’s been a lot of laughs.
So, is Grace Kelly your real name or stage?
I know, it’s a lot to live up to. The name thing definitely turns some heads. Usually if I start a school year and if the teachers are all older, that’s the classic comment, “Oh my god, do you know there’s a princess with the same name?” I’ve gone seventeen years and I’ve never known. (laughter). I lived in the States for six years. My dad got a job over there when I was eight, we didn’t move over there, but I’ve spent a lot of time living in the US. My older siblings were in high school, for me it was a lot of trips going over there for long periods of time. I was living in two countries for a while so it became a fun place that escaped your usual Auckland happenings with school and whatever. It became a playground to me as a young person.
How did your song San José get picked up over there?
I did a recording in Nashville which was very exciting and after that went back to San José to visit a couple of friends; you’re in America so you do the rounds while you’re there. I met the CEO of the Tourism Board there Karolyn Kirchgesler, she’s been a massive believer in me. She was like, “You should write a song about San José. It’s kind of the classic throw away comment when someone finds out that you write songs. I never thought anything of it and then once I was back home I got the idea for the initial line I just had this rolling in my head, “San José, nah nah nah. That’s ok we’ll roll with it,” we pumped it out in one night. I then emailed it to her and she didnt get it for a few weeks, then she called me, “We want to fly you out, and we want you to record a music video and we’ll use it for the tourism campaign”. I thought it would be like, write a song about San José and I’d send it to her and she’d be like, “Oh I love the song” and then that would be it. It just snowballed and became an epic stepping stone.
What about you meeting Country Music giant and television personality Blake Shelton?
I was staying at my Mum’s house and Dad came over at four in the morning with this hectic knock. Everyone was like, “What is going on, why are you here?” and then he read out the email from the Country radio station that played my song KRTY, it was from the station manager. “We were wondering if Grace wanted to be one of the opening acts for Blake Shelton.” and it was like, “Let me mull that one over”. I still can’t believe that happened, it was the coolest day in my life opening for him.
I read you’ve played with Taylor Swift’s songwriter Liz Rose, how was that?
As a Country music fan I got to sing You Belong To Me which was bizarre. She was at this winery where I was playing with four other Country artists. In the middle of the set she was like, “Is Grace still here? Cool, can you come up and help me sing this song?” Oh my god I’m freaking out, I had no idea that she was going to ask me. “I hope you know the song, if not you’re going to fake it real well.”
Has Before been released yet?
The live shows have been postponed, yeah it’s out. Everyone’s just siting at home what are you going to do? I’ve also done live streaming. I guess it’s just adjusting to this ‘curve ball’ of life. Lots of song writers I love in Nashville, that’s what they’re doing also.
How was recording your E.P. Before, are you happy with it?
So happy with it. First track is called Before and After and was recorded in 2018 and I redid the vocals last year. it’s been a super fun journey because I was lucky enough to record twice in Nashville, 2016 and 2018. For no other purpose than to get studio time and get comfortable in the studio, listen to my songs and have a fun project that family could listen to. Everything shifted when I got older my song writing got better so my Dad and I went back to Nashville and I was recording for the purpose of releasing an E.P, it was so much fun. It was cool to record with those guys because they’re so lovely so down to earth, everyone plays with everyone in Nashville, it’s so chilled and kind of the norm to be playing with these huge artists, so when Steve King who was touring with Keith Urban prior to playing on my songs was coming in, producer Bill Watson would go, “Steve’s coming in and laying down tracks with the keys, he’s been touring with Keith Urban”, and I’m like, “Oh, ok.” They’re all so down to earth.
What’s your best Covid-19 advice?
Stay calm, stay kind. There’s so many negative things people are talking about, like being stuck inside. One of my biggest things is; look how amazing this is going to be for the planet. I’m a big Earth gal, so its nice to be able to pause. Find time to do the things you love. For me it’s music, so I’m trying to write a song every day and find new artists I love. It’s about making the best of the situation.
Young Auckland singer-songwriter Grace Kelly officially makes her mark with the release of her debut EP ‘before.’, delivering five catchy, upbeat tunes of feel-good country songs and heart-felt ballads.
LISTEN TO ‘before.’ SPOTIFY / APPLE
Infectious lead single ‘That Girl’ is a sparkling blend of catchy effervescent pop and classic country music and, accompanied by a gorgeously simple video that encapsulates Grace’s easy charm.
WATCH ‘That Girl’ HERE
Words Mike Beck / Photo David Watson Photography.
Having a thick skin in today’s surreal times is more than a necessity, so it’s good timing that Hamilton hard rock/metal unit Devilskin have just put out their 3rd studio record; Red. Released in multiple formats (you’ll dig the colour-matching vinyl) today Arpil 3rd, Red is described by founding member/bassist Paul Martin to be; “laying ourselves bare”, with “personal subject matter.”
“The verdict – Musically lush & textural, with high production standards & visceral content”
The songs- Orwellian forecasts & loss of freedoms are prevalent in Do You See Birds & We All Fall Down, while Blood & Bone explores being alone/isolated in nature but staying connected. Be Like The River, also the title of their last studio long player, offers independence & a philosophy akin to Bruce Lee; to stay on course & be yourself.
Sweet Release deals with the underlying epidemic of suicide, Martin penning the tune in honour of Nicky Stevens, who took his life while in care of mental health services. A close to home story (the Tron), highlighting a system broken.
“Fans can rejoice in this heart offering, newcomers get in there also; this is your angle of entry”
The band – Impressive on Red is D’skin’s synergy as a unit, they sound like a band bonded. Father & son rhythm section Paul (bass) & Nic Martin (drums) are kicking in full noise, complemented by Nail Vincent’s creative gat layering. Vincent’s acoustic guitar coda on Eyes Red Heavy is deeply personal, & will be explored in its entirety on the next record.
Lead vocalist Jennie Smathers is in full voice on Red. She’s got plenty of grunt & power, mixing trademark guttural styles with soaring feminine runs; take note of her self-penned Eyes Red Heavy & Corrode.
A record of depth, Martin encourages listeners to immerse themselves in the ride. Fans can rejoice in this heart offering, newcomers get in there also; this is your angle of entry. The verdict – Musically lush & textural, with high production standards & visceral content, Red is Devilskin’s best yet.
*with thanks to Paul Martin for an online Q&A
Words Glenn Blomfield
Soon this year’s International Comedy Festival season will kick off. As a precursor, we got to see five nominees for the Billy T James award, shinning stars of NZ comedy take the stage, having the opportunity to be the new participants of winning the coveted ‘Billy T James Award’, a seal of NZ comedy gold approval. Five finalist nominees, have a ten minute stand up show each in front of a live audience, they will be judged, the winner will be later announced. The five nominees are Lana Walters, Josh Davies, Brynley Stent, James Mustapic, and Ray O’Leary. All of them are also part of the comedy line up in the upcoming comedy festival.
MC for the evening was previous Billy T James nominee, Kura Forrester, taking the task of setting the mood and livening the audience announcing each nominee for the evening. Kura graced the stage with welcoming confidence, heartening the room with relaxed laughter priming us for the acts to come. We were definitely in safe hands, happy to be there and laughing ready for more comedy.
First to hit the stage was Josh Davies, using his near blindness disability as his comedy act, exploring his world which may seem uncomfortable to laugh at, he had us laughing along with the craziness and irony of his view of the world. Definitely funny and insightful.
Next was Ray O’Leary, awkward and oddly relatable wit, dressed in what maybe his grand dads suit, his weird and odd views on the world have you giggling and laughing out loud. His quirkiness draws you in, he reminds me of ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ a character from a cult comedy film. Very Funny man.
Things took a change when Brynley Stent took the stage, the only sketch act of the evening, using normal situations that take you on crazy journeys, silly and absurdly wonderful, you’re not sure how to take it, though you can’t help but laugh. Unique and awkward, comedy combo.
Storming the stage comes openly proclaiming his gayness James Mustapic, meek in stature, large in comedy bravado. Using his stand up as a ‘coming out’, his personal anxieties, his life, being gay, and how her see the world growing up. James was hysterical and lyrical.
Final nominee Lana Walters, stand up act using her personal problems as comedic expression. She is accessible, and a breath of fresh air, in using her uncomfortableness for funny enjoyment.
A special guest round up for the evening show, was Tom Sainsbury, using his funny awareness of fellow New Zealanders, from his travels of the country scouring the internet of kiwi news and comment sections, holding a mirror up to of the vey funny lives we live, and views we have on our daily lives in Aoteroa. Who would of thought the Tauranga Travel website would be treasure trove of hysterical comments, and the local council and peoples responses to the absurdity we live in?
Overall very funny and enjoyable evening. NZ comedy is in very safe hands. Everyone in tonights show, was worth the show’s admission alone. Sure there were some stand outs, but each one of them deserves to be seen and heard during the upcoming Comedy festival. Support the local talent and get amongst it.
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.
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.
- Love Overboard(Gladys Knight & The Pips song
- Nitty Gritty / Shake Your Body Down to the Ground
- Every Beat of My Heart(Johnny Otis cover)
- Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me(Jim Weatherly cover)
- Stay With Me(Sam Smith cover)
- Save the Overtime (For Me)(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
- Never Too Much(Luther Vandross cover)
- Part Time Love(David Gates cover)
- I’ve Got to Use My Imagination(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
- I Heard It Through the Grapevine(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
- Licence to Kill
- Midnight Train to Georgia(Jim Weatherly cover)
- If I Could
- Why I Love You(Major cover)
- One Hundred Ways(James Ingram cover)
- (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman(Carole King cover)
- The Way We Were(Barbra Streisand cover)
- Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)(Jim Weatherly cover)
- Baby Don’t Change Your Mind(Gladys Knight & The Pips song)
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.
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 Strangler, The 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 email@example.com to win!
In Cinemas February 20th
2019 Rating: R16, Violence, sexual references & offensive language 93 mins
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.
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.
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 Mckk. Christie 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 Sound, FADER, MTV, Paste Magazine, Stereogum and Under The Radar.
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.
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.
|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 , AROUND THE FUR , and WHITE PONY  – as well as a 2001 Grammy Award, a gold album DEFTONES , and countless critical plaudits. Following the success of DIAMOND EYES  and KOI NO YOKAN , 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
9.00am, Wednesday January 15 – 9.00am, Thursday January 16
Tickets on sale:
9.00am, Thursday, January 16 from Ticketfairy.com
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
Words Wal Reid
Every now and then there is a film that leaves you with a smile on your face. A sense of satisfaction that leaves you wanting, thinking out loud, “That was a good watch”.
The Good Liar is that film. Based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Searle, it stars the impeccable Ian McKellen as a crafty career con artist who meets a wealthy widow (Helen Mirren) online, and then discovers that his plan to steal her fortune has unexpected roadblocks.
McKellen is brilliant as the cantankerous, wispy grey-haired con artist Roy Courtnay, even to the point you want to poke his eyes out with your fingers. Helen Mirren as Betty McLeish, plays a former history teacher at Oxford who lost her husband and has a considerable amount of savings, thus, becoming Roy’s latest target.
Mirren assumes her usual regal posture. She is astutely wooden with that shrewd gaze as if hiding a secret. It’s a delicious coupling that holds the mystery until the end. Actually, have to say that openly gay McKellen is also convincing playing her love interest. Such is the high calibre of acting, he turns in a sterling performance that keeps the viewer glued to the silver screen, guessing what his next move will entail.
Director Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast) does a fantastic job of holding together the film’s pathos, delving to dark places during the World War II scenes and keeping the enigma of the characters intact until its reveal. It’s a compelling watch. If you like a good British thriller with the usual tripe; comedy, intrigue and a solid cast, including Jim Carter aka Mr Carson from Downton Abbey and Russell Tovey from the BBC/HBO black comedy Years and Years, then you will simply adore this film. That’s no lie.
Words Wal Reid
“Its Bollywood-Kiwi vibe, helped make it more palatable to those of us less attuned to the theatrical.”
Bollywood has always been admired for not looking to its western counterparts for inspiration and direction. It’s one of the most successful & largest film industries in the world, plus, also a devilishly clever portmanteau.
Legendary Bollywood director Rakesh Ramsey has died in the middle of shooting his latest (Western)film, Dust of the Delhi Plains, so now, the Q Theatre audience are enrolled, and get to play the extras in the film. As they say, “The show must go on”.
Kiwi playwright, Ahi Karunaharan’s (A Fine Balance) latest offering, takes the audience on a magical time-machine journey. Set in 1970’s Bombay at the height of Bollywood’s inception; the ostentatious sets and not to mention, the on-set calamity, are farcically and entertainingly explored. This is a movie set after all, and Karunaharan sets out with his young cast, to debunk the idea that making a Bollywood Western is all glamour – a task, that turns out, is easier said than done.
The cast are gifted. Each playing their part with the fervour and craft their character demands, all adding to the onstage melee. Mustaq Missouri as frustrated director Manjit is hilarious to watch. His facials and manic gait, had his character warm to the audience as he tries to steer the cast (of one) to fulfil Rakesh’s legacy.
Actress Rashmi Pilapitiya is fabulous as the diva-esque Ranikumari. The (once) legendary actress returns to help finish the beleaguered film. Her comedic timing has a pompous Julie Andrews finesse. She is adamant the film must continue on with her at the helm, even when she is demanding a make up person.
Ramsey’s two children, Roshan and Kamala, are convincingly played by Mayen Mehta & Sanaya Doctor, both vying for the director’s chair. Their theatrical sibling rivalry is incredibly convincing, each with opposing views, it’s a wonder the film gets completed. Shankar (Shaan Kesha) plays the loveable rogue, the unsung hero and ‘yes’ man, who with good intentions ends up making a hash of things. His talents however, don’t go unnoticed, even his dancing.
My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak nicely showcases the comedic side of a Western Movie. Its Bollywood-Kiwi vibe, helped make it more palatable to those of us less attuned to the theatrical, while the cast are more than apt to carrying the show from start to climatic end. The only quibble I had, was the opening of the show which at times seemed lengthy. The first half meandered its way, patchy in conveying its intention to the audience. It wasn’t maybe as seamless as it could have been. However, the second part was tighter, punchier, the scenes indefectible as the audience arrived at its grandiose finale.
If you like an epic desi western with all the trappings: magnificent landscapes, gunfights on horseback, saloon bars and bounty-hunters, then Rakesh Ramsey’s latest film, Dust of the Delhi Plains, is just the ticket. Oh, they are currently recruiting extras, so get along to play your part. In the words of ex British Prime Minister, John Major, it was “most agreeable.”
My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak is on at The Q Theatre until Sunday 14th December.
Words Sarah Kidd
“Don’t for one moment think A Frickin Dangerous Space-Mas is just spoof and slapstick, not for one teeny, tiny moment dear friends.”
It’s that time of the year again, where Christmas jingles have taken supermarket speaker systems hostage, shopping malls resemble giant kindergartens and the promise of lazy days in the sun, BBQ’s and strawberry covered pavlovas await just around the corner. But more importantly, the yuletide season also brings with it Basement Theatre’s annual Christmas show, the comedy trio Frickin Dangerous comprised of Pax Assadi, James Roque and Jamaine Ross taking the helm in 2019 and delivering a production that will make your ribs ache and the cheeks on your face beg for momentary reprieve.
Set aboard the International Space Station or ISS for short (no, not ISIS) audiences are greeted by a stage design that is both clever and functional. Running down the middle of the room – the audience seated on either side – the walkway with its clean lines of orange and white immediately intimate that this is the interior hub of the spaceship; the doors at each end, a centre console and a ladder to the left of the main entrance, nestled amongst the attendees themselves, only adding to the illusion of the close confines that our astronauts must contend with.
Throw in thoughtful and well executed lighting, sound effects and the amusing use of props to provide attendees an outside view of the space station itself and you have the recipe for complete immersion. The creative team of Brad Gledhill and Rachel Marlow (Filament Eleven 11) well-deserved of a pat on the back for such sagacious use of a limited footprint. Setting complete and it is time to meet the six crew members of the ISS, played by David Correos, Carrie Green, Marianne Infante and Sam Snedden. Confused? Don’t be, the fun is only just beginning.
A voiceover by Snedden introduces all to Captain Chip, a self-absorbed and none too bright American who more than likely has a picture of himself in his quarters that he high fives each morning. While initially his character may come off as cliché, it fits well within the full spectrum of the cast, his incompetency allowing for Sampaguita – or Sam as she prefers to be called – and Hans to shine with their impressive space academy skillset.
Played by Marianne Infante, Sam is a Filipino fighting her own culture and constantly trying to avoid her Dad’s (Richard Perillo) video calls where he conveys how much he misses her; her best friend Hans (Carrie Green) a Maori of Swedish heritage both like a big brother and her main competition for the role of Captain, the promotion one that has been promised by Chip to be announced during the traditional Secret Santa. And then there is Calvin, a British scientist whose behaviour is … weird to say the least; David Correos bringing the character to life with side-splitting intensity and a (literal) streak of blue humour.
Green and Snedden also play the characters of Lindsay and Vlad; Green transforming completely with the mere removal of Hans’s beanie to become Lindsay, the Australian single mum who is beyond overqualified; a chef, a doctor, an Olympic fencing champion, her careers all accompanied by ‘a really interesting story’ of how they came to be. Worshipping her every move, Vlad, son of Russian president Vladimir Putin who wants nothing more than to move to Ibiza and become a world-renowned DJ is portrayed with a self-possession that is downright enviable; Sneddon wielding both American and Russian accents with ease, the removal of his Captain’s hat denoting the change between the two.
The first act builds our characters, delivering hilarious and sometimes heartstring tugging insights into their lives, raucous scenes such as Vlad and Lindsay’s frequent trysts leaving many audience members with tears streaming down their faces.
As if all that wasn’t enough, a sideline story is introduced, Captain Chip advising his crew that an engineer from New Zealand will be arriving soon to assist with the gyro-spectrometer which is in desperate need of repair. The Frickin Dangerous trio – obviously not satisfied with just staging a scripted play – taking it to the next level by introducing a different guest star every evening, which brings with it an element of improv that only contributes to the already chaotic hilarity. With a guest list that includes such names as David Farrier, Kura Forrester, Jack Tame and even Chlöe Swarbrick, each night is guaranteed to offer something completely different; comedian Chris Parker who was the guest star of this particular viewing, invoking some true blue kiwiana that the attendees threw themselves behind wholeheartedly.
“Raucous scenes such as Vlad and Lindsay’s frequent trysts leaving many audience members with tears streaming down their faces.”
Act two slams its foot on the accelerator, as the crew of the ISS are faced with co-worker tensions, relationship woes and slightly more seriously – the destruction of planet earth itself; Sneddon and Green coming into their own and cycling through their characters so brilliantly that jaws are left on the floor as to just how they manage to do it. In fact, when the evening closes and the actors line up to take a bow, the audience almost questions where Lindsay and Vlad are. But don’t for one moment think A Frickin Dangerous Space-Mas is just spoof and slapstick, not for one teeny, tiny moment dear friends; for interlaced throughout is brilliant satire, social commentary and references to current culture and memes that will have those in the know nodding… knowingly.
Directed by Jane Yong, A Frickin Dangerous Space-mas is kiwi comedy at its absolute, riotous, finest and the perfect show with which to welcome in some of that cheeky, Christmas cheer!
Writers: Frickin Dangerous Bro (Pax Assadi, James Roque, Jamaine Ross)
- DATE: 21 NOV – 20 DEC
- TIMES: VARIOUS TIMES
- RUNTIME: 90 MINUTES
- VENUE: THEATRE
- PRICE: $30 – $60
Words Mike Beck
“A technical tour de force; for art lovers and lovers alike, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire is a cinematic masterpiece.”
A sure fire hit at this year’s Cannes & NZ Film Festivals, French writer/director Celine Sciamma (Tomby, Water Lilies) paints a delicate but fiery tale of love and art in a delightful foreign period piece.
Set in Brittany in 1770, Marianne (Noemie Merlant) is a promising young artist, commissioned by a countess (Valeria Golino) to paint a portrait of her soon to be wed daughter Heloise (Adele Haenel). The hitch being that due to failed attempts to achieve this in the past, Marianne must go incognito and paint her subject in secrecy without her knowing her motive.
As the title suggests, their is some spark in this story. Just as much as the friction of interweaving relationships drives Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, themes are explored visually at a high technical & visual level. Natural light is applied seemingly throughout, creating great contrast (think Kubrick or Barry Lyndon), also, the consistent presence of candles & flames visually convey the inner emotions, desires & conflicts of its principle characters.
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire is very much a film that highlights art by using various techniques found in the art world as a narrative. Employing the dimensions of the screen as a frame, objectifying its subjects, framing within a frame, the camera depicting the mise-en-scene/characters inhabiting a shot as a painting itself are some. Keep an eye out for more. Also, the premise of a painter having to work in secrecy is a cinematic device that Sciamma incorporates to utilise ‘the gaze’. She does this with flying colours, while Merlant & Haenel have the chops to act out accordingly.
Overall, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire is so well told visually, that you could forego the subtitles (unless you understand French & Italian) and still follow/understand the story. On top of this, the exploration of sexuality, politics, feminism & the limitations/expectations of societal constructs really give this film extra depth. A technical tour de force; for art lovers and lovers alike, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire is a cinematic masterpiece.
Words Melanie Tito
“From a viewer’s perspective it is a relief to watch a movie which allows us breathing space, without rushing to fill every minute with rapid dialogue or drama.”
Like a hot, strong cup of tea on a stormy day, Bellbird brings joy and warmth alongside the harsh realities of grief and struggle.
Set in a small rural community in Northland, the iconic New Zealand landscape of a working farm provides both rustic charm and an apt metaphor for the nature of life: beautiful, mundane, chaotic, painful.
Early on in the film we are introduced to Beth (Annie Whittle), wife to Ross (Marshall Napier) and mum to Bruce (Cohen Holloway). Beth is the heart and glue of her family, a community spirit, a lady who loves to sing. When she dies, the music stops. Ross and Bruce are more lost for words than ever, following a lifetime habit of leaving most things left unsaid. The rigorous demands of the family farm give them no time for respite and as one season slips into another, they continue their hard labour and awkward communion while shouldering their grief privately.
Though grief is a central theme in Bellbird, the film is not short of opportunities to smile and laugh, with the carefree humorous spirit of Marley (Kahukura Retimana), the deadpan comedy of Bruce’s boss, Connie (Rachel House) and the earnest comic of Clem (Stephen Tamarapa). The daily grind is made a whole lot easier with cheeky banter, spontaneous thoughts and finding humour in the most abstract details and it is good to remember this while watching Bellbird.
I like many things about this film. From a viewer’s perspective it is a relief to watch a movie which allows us breathing space, without rushing to fill every minute with rapid dialogue or drama. Slowing down to allow swells of silence, shadows across faces, captures of still life, bring a harmony and balance to the film so that we are able to digest both the bitter and the sweet in a pleasurable way.
The spotlight is on Napier and Holloway as the film shines a spotlight on the dad/son relationship, and both play their characters exceedingly well, speaking not just with their lips but with their silences and, indeed, with their entire bodies. We see the relatable layers of vulnerability and tenderness beneath their stoic exteriors and in so doing, remember that there is nothing more ordinary, complex and wonderful than the human heart.
A brilliant debut feature by writer-director Hamish Bennett, celebrating love and loyalty, in an age where we need to be reminded more often of the gifts of community. I look forward to seeing what Bennett creates next.
Words Sarah Kidd /Photos Andi Crown
“This evocative production allows you to fully immerse yourself within this precious moment in time where a family – in every sense of the very word – come together”
In this third collaboration between Massive theatre company and acclaimed English actor, screenwriter and playwright Lennie James, Half of the Sky explores the varied facets of love; the play a poignant and thoughtful exploration of an emotion that features in the lives of each and every one us.
Certainly, love is an emotion that is often spoken and written about, prose and love letters scattered throughout history between infamous lovers. It is an emotion that many a song has been composed for, the lyrics either buoyant and hopeful as they speak of those first heady hours when someone new captures our heart, or sorrowful and bitter when the soul is betrayed.
Half of the Sky does touch on the relationships of two people who have chosen to share their lives with each other, but more importantly it explores the love between family members, specifically that between three sisters Nyree, Ruihi and Marika who have a unique bond due to the closeness in proximity of their birthdays which all fall within three days. Coming together for Ny’s birthday, as per her wishes, it is a celebration tinged with sadness as Ny faces her own mortality, the weekend long party her way of organising future plans for both herself and her daughter.
Running alongside the sisters’ narrative is also that of the relationship between Iosefa played with grace by Max Palamo and Fetu who Sefa steps in to raise after his mother leaves him in the care of his adoring but struggling grandmother. Now in his late teens, Fetu wishes to both thank his guardian while simultaneously setting him free from the bonds of responsibility. Communicating this through some serious lyricism laid down via rap by the comedic and rather talented Pat Tafa, it fits together with the story of the sisters like the tongue in the groove, the five characters sharing tales of the past while conveying their thoughts about the future as they face the inevitable with courage, conviction and a whole lot of laughter.
As Ny, Kura Forrester is a tour de force, her range far reaching as she juggles being a mother, a sister and a partner simultaneously, her own wants and needs that for so many years were placed on the backburner coming to the forefront. Decisions need to be made, not only for her daughter but for herself. Time is running out and there is life to be lived.
Ahwina-Rose Henare Ashby plays Ru, the middle sibling haunted by a childhood mistake that nearly cost her everything whilst struggling with both her own relationship and that of the one between herself and her mother. Ashby captures Ru’s spirit of a woman coping with past trauma’s but who more importantly has learned how to forgive; although the ability to do so is soon challenged by Ny’s decision on how she spends the last of her days, Ashby portraying Ru with a fierce yet maternal persona.
But it is often Grace Palmer as the youngest sibling Marika that lights up the stage with an exuberance that is infectious. Not only is she an accomplished actress for one so young, her embodiment of the cheekiness of Marika is spot on; subtle touches like the widening of her eyes as she watches her two older sisters argue, or her comedic timing bringing the character of Marika to life in full technicolour.
With a simple stage layout – lighting used to highlight one of the three areas of focus – and a cast of only five, this evocative production allows you to fully immerse yourself within this precious moment in time where a family – in every sense of the very word – come together.
Half of the Sky is an absolutely stunning piece of theatre examining what makes us human. And what makes us human is the ability to love and be loved in return.
On until Saturday Oct 26 2019 Show times:
Tuesday – Saturday: 7:00 PM
Sunday: 4:00 PM
Kura Forrester (The Wholehearted, The Adventures of Suzy Boon, 2019 Billy T Award Winner)
Grace Palmer (Shortland Street, Home & Away)
Awhina-Rose Henare Ashby (The Mooncake and the Kumara, Waru)
Max Palamo (The Sons of Charlie Paora, Super City II)
Pat Tafa (The Wholehearted, Westside)
Please note: Half of the Sky discusses death, grief, and abandonment. The performance also contains strong language which may offend.
One of the most successful and best-selling artists of his generation, Lenny Kravitz has today announced that he is coming to New Zealand in March 2020 as part of his Here to Love World Tour.
The tour, presented by TEG Live, will be the first time Kravitz has ever toured New Zealand and he will play Auckland’s Spark Arena on Tuesday 31 March 2020.
Pre-sale tickets for Lenny Kravitz Here To Love Auckland date will be available via TEG Live from 1.00pm Monday 21 October 2019, before the general public on-sale at 11.00am Thursday 24 October 2019 from Ticketmaster.
Regarded as one of the preeminent rock musicians of our time, Lenny Kravitz has transcended genre, style, race and class over the course of a 30-year musical career.
Revelling in the soul, rock and funk influences of the ’60s and ’70s, this writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist has won four consecutive Grammy Awards, as well as set a record for the most wins in the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance category.
Known for his undeniable, energetic gigs, this run of shows promises to uphold his live legacy yet again. Bringing all the classic hits along with the new music from his most recent album, Raise Vibration, where Kravitz elevates the union of rock n roll, funk, blues, and soul.
Receptive to youthful inspiration, but enlightened by three decades of wisdom, Kravitz represents a powerful creative rebirth and a bold, bright, and brilliant body of work befitting of his legacy and boundless spirit.
In addition to his eleven studio albums, which have sold in excess of 40 million worldwide, this multidimensional artist has segued into film, appearing as Cinna in the box-office hits, The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Kravitz can also be seen in the critically-acclaimed films Precious and The Butler.
LENNY KRAVITZ HERE TO LOVE NEW ZEALAND TOUR
TUESDAY 31 MARCH 2020
SPARK ARENA, AUCKLAND
TEG LIVE PRE-SALE
1.00pm Monday 21 October 2019 – 9.00am Wednesday 23 October 2019
Sign up for the pre-sale at www.teglive.com.au
GENERAL PUBLIC ON-SALE
11.00AM, THURSDAY 24 OCTOBER 2019
Words Wal Reid
“But what I didn’t realise was, that it wasn’t some of them, it wasn’t most of them, it’s ALL of them. None of them at a certain level pay tax.”
New Zealand documentary/filmmaker Justin Pemberton is charming on the phone. His latest film, Capital in the 21st Century, is a retrospective commentary on economist Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book of the same name. Its account of how concentrated wealth shapes the world was so compelling, that it went on to sell 1.5 million copies and was an unlikely bestseller in 2014. The movie explores the long-run effects of wealth inequality, and, is about to go global after the films’ recent screening at the New Zealand Film Festival.
Brought to the big screen by Pemberton, Piketty’s thesis is crisply and engagingly presented in a documentary purposefully light on graphs and numbers, and heavy on top-notch talking heads (Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the Financial Times’ Gillian Tett, who he says, “was one the few people who picked the last global financial crisis”), visuals of the rich and famous, and stylised historical recreations.
Wal Reid caught up with the dynamic documentary filmmaker. His movies Richie McCaw: Chasing Great, about the All Black legend, or intelligence sharing I Spy (with My 5 Eyes), has given the Documentary genre credibility and relevance from this part of the world. He has scooped numerous awards, both here and overseas, even an Emmy nomination for his unrelenting work in the industry. Also, interesting to note, is his unique auteur/musician relationship with musician Anika Moa, who, has also composed the soundtracks for five of Pemberton’s films.
How’s the PR tour going for the film?
It’s only New Zealand at this point, overseas is coming. It’s really good training wheels isn’t it? I think New Zealand always is. (laughter) Capital was almost very subtly meant to be a sci-fi film. It was about time travel. It was about going from the 1700’s to the near future. I love time travel and I love the future.
What made you get involved with this project?
I knew about the book, because I think it surprised everyone when it went to number one on the New York Times best seller list. I’d already done something on ‘inequality’ with New Zealand Television and Nigel Latta, way back in 2011, and I’d read a bit about it, so, I was interested to see what Thomas Piketty’s take was and got a copy of the book. Obviously for me straight away, it was the ‘time horizon’, he spans hundreds of years. People said, “Look what’s happened since the War”, and he goes back right before the French Revolution. But also, it was surprising, his book is an economic textbook. It wasn’t an easy read, and, it was written for people who were economists who are either studying at a tertiary level economics, or, are already trained. I think Thomas himself became interested in the fact, that so many people wanted to connect into his story, so, he was motivated to make a film based on that. New Zealand producer Matthew Metcalfe got in touch with him and pitched it. When I heard about Matthew talking to Thomas I went, “Oh, who’s going to make this?”, I really wanted to do it, so Matthew said, “Start writing it”, so, I did, on spec. It was sent to Thomas and he liked it.
All of your movies are ‘personal journeys’, have you discovered things that have blown your mind, making this film?
I had only read the book. It was something I’d been thinking about for a long time, so it wasn’t really new information in many ways. What it’s done has made me see even more, if that makes sense. Once you start looking, you start noticing things, you start seeing more, and more, and more. The whole thing about tax havens and things like that, I kind of thought, “Well, these big companies are not paying tax”. A lot of them, but what I didn’t realise was that it wasn’t some of them, it wasn’t most of them, it’s ALL of them. None of them at a certain level pay tax. I mean they pay a small, small amount. For example, in the film it talks about how Facebook is paying less UK tax than your average teacher, because of the way it gets shifted around the world, but it all ends up in a tax haven where none of it is taxed. You can’t dodge it completely, but this concept of the people at the top paying nothing, was worse than I thought. You need a certain amount of money to even be able to do that, it isn’t cheap, you need to have these structures and shell companies set up in shadow places that allow you to move everything, because it’s not illegal in that sense.
Do you risk being ostracised by Finance commentators?
I think it’s really interesting, if you check out the Financial Times in just the last week, they have absolutely everything that we’re talking about in the film. They’ve talked about how Capitalism needs a rework because it’s not working, and, how Democracy is failing because capital has influenced the narrative. I think that’s why things like climate change can’t be tackled, even though most of the world believe it. There’s so few sceptics now, even in America. I mean there’s another thing too, “How rich is rich?” That’s another thing I’ve noticed, everybody thinks, “The rich are richer”, even if you are rich. You can be very comfortably middle classed, and living a fabulous life and have a multi-million-dollar house, drive wealthy cars and taking lots of overseas holidays, but, you’re still saying, “Yes, but these people are the problem.”
With the New Zealand Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr, promoting consumerism, we are seeing a global trend of negative interest rates and introduced penalties, like in Australia, for having cash. Is this a trend that is happening globally?
I think that’s kind of another thing that’s going on. It’s all tied up but, this idea that to keep the ‘balls up in the air’, to be able to keep people consuming, to be able to keep growth coming. Yes, you need to almost penalise savings and promote debt. The rise of debt is something we look at. It arrived in the 90’s went absolutely berserk by the early 21st century, and that led to the global financial crisis, which, is when interest rates collapsed to be so low, and now, they can’t put them back up. In New Zealand in 2007/2008 people were paying 8.5% on their mortgages, that’s been ten years now of low interest. I would say that a lot of people, if you suddenly doubled your interest rate you’re paying now, that would be a problem. Then, what do you have, another real estate market collapse? Maybe people who don’t own houses would be really excited about it, because they’ve become so expensive. Why have they become so expensive? Because credit has become so cheap. Historically there have been a few ways out of it, either financial collapse or revolution.
What projects do you have now for consideration?
Well, it’s about funding (laughter). In New Zealand there’s a certain amount of public funding from the NZ Film Commission & NZ On Air. You have to be able to tick the boxes, it’s regulated capital in every sense, so it has to be a New Zealand story. There’s a story I’d love to tell that’s been on my mind for a while. It’s set in America and it’s about the future and I can’t see how I can get it funded just yet. Just getting there is an idea at the moment. And there’s another one that I’d like to make that’s kind of a hybrid between Capital and another film I made, 5 Eyes, so I’d like to go there. But I’m always interested in people. A person with an interesting story.
Words Sarah Kidd
“The addition of a couple of the latest queens of the music scene in the form of Cardi B and Lizzo, adding a much-needed sprinkle of relevant spice”
Based on a true story, or more specifically a 2015 article in New York magazine entitled ‘The Hustlers Score’, Lorene Scafaria soon has the audience cheering for the exotic dancer sisterhood with her stylish cinematic offering of Hustlers.
Starring Crazy Rich Asians’ Constance Wu (Destiny) and the incomparable Jennifer Lopez (Ramona) as the main protagonists, Hustlers manages to pull off being a fairly entertaining watch while exploring not only the camaraderie between women – especially the relationship between Ramona and Destiny who are also mothers to daughters of their own – but how the financial crisis of 2008 hit those just trying to make a living in the industries least thought about, the hardest.
Faced with a battle for survival, the girls of the Moves strip club soon find a way to keep the money rolling in, even if that means crossing a serious line. A cinematic crime drama, comparisons to films such as Goodfellas have been unavoidable, however unlike the Scorsese classic, Hustlers suffers a little under the burden of overly repetitive scenes and at times one-dimensional characters; the addition of a couple of the latest queens of the music scene in the form of Cardi B and Lizzo, adding a much-needed sprinkle of relevant spice.
Despite much of the film being set within the club, the combined direction and cinematography of Scafaria and Todd Banhazi prevents it from ever tumbling into the territory of tasteless voyeurism and in fact nods to not only the athleticism, but tireless work ethic required for the job role. And while money may be the root of all evil no matter which side of the fence you sit on, greed the undoing of both the victims and the perpetrators in this New York tale, Scafaria again is careful when walking that fine line; the story moving from glamorization and justification of the felonies, to watching as plans slowly unravel. Deception bringing about the ultimate downfall, consequence the only thing waiting at the bottom of the cliff.
With some excellent acting in the supporting roles from both Lili Reinhart and Keke Palmer not to mention the legendary but sadly underutilised Mercedes Ruehl, Hustlers is sure to be a hit, if not just for watching Jennifer Lopez steal every damn scene she appears in. From the moment she slides down a glittering pole under a literal shower of money to a decidedly Breaking Bad moment of cooking drugs in the kitchen of her penthouse apartment, each moment of celluloid is effortlessly owned and then tucked away inside her Louis Vuitton handbag.
Hustlers is a film that features one stunning and diverse group of lionesses, and none roars louder than J.Lo herself. Hustlers releases in New Zealand in theatres on October 10.
Words Jon Clist
Based on some of the online discussion that came out for Joker, this is certainly one of the most anticipated films for 2019. There has been so much talk already about Joaquin Phoenix and his complete inhabitation of the role of Arthur Fleck. So, it was always going to be hard to not have high expectations going into this film. The praise for Phoenix is not an overestimation by any stretch. He is so unbelievably brilliant in his portrayal of this broken character and for over two hours you cannot take your eyes off him.
There have been many actors to bring something rather fresh and unique to the role of Joker and hence most DC fans have a favourite already in mind. Thanks to his Oscar winning performance Heath Ledger has certainly found his way to the top pf that list in the eyes of many cinema goers. That spot could very well be in jeopardy thanks to this rather unique approach to the story of Arthur Fleck. Phoenix, in his usual style, has completely owned the character from start to finish. This an origin story and hence we get to see a wonderful transition from the man to villain. While this is Joaquin Phoenix’s first role in a comic book film, it is easy to see why he waited until a project like this came along. (Rumour has it that he previously turned down the title role in “Doctor Strange”, as well as the chance to replace Edward Norton as the Hulk in “The Avengers”, because he was unwilling to sign on to the multi-picture deal that Marvel Studios was requiring)
As always, his attention to detail is what makes this such a stunning performance. Phoenix lost a lot of weight for his role as the Joker. In fact he lost a reported 53 pounds for the role. This impacted his health so much that filming a lot of the scenes could only be done once, with no opportunity for reshoots. The incredibly skinny and gaunt portrayal that Phoenix brings to this role is scary and yet very engaging. He is a bad guy and yet there are moments that you find yourself feeling sorry for him and even hoping he might find some level of goodness amongst the crap hand that he has been dealt. This fits well within this story, for there is no good guy and there is no hope, just a large quantity of darkness, pain and suffering. This goes against the typical Hollywood big budget cinematic outing that revolves around the eternal battle of good versus evil. This is a film that gives no hope nor love and hence no warm fuzzy at any stage and especially at the end.
In a recent interview with SFX magazine, Phoenix acknowledged that while the violence in “Joker” is “a little more visceral and raw” than films such as the Avengers series, he “didn’t have any hesitation about it. You always want it to feel real, and you want the little violence that we have to have an impact,” he said. “What happens in a lot of movies is that you get numb to it, you’re killing 40,000 people, you don’t feel it. While being a fictional story in a fictional world, you always want it to feel real. Everything that happens in this movie as far as violence goes, you feel it.”
The rest of the cast do their jobs although for the most part you don’t even notice they are there (With the exception of Robert De Niro, who is great as the over-the-top Johnny Carson styled late night talk show host. It is beautifully filmed and staged and yet you won’t notice as all eyes are on Phoenix at all times.
Words Mike Beck
John Rambo is back, & this time it’s a hell of a ‘sly’ move.
To understand the darkness, you have to have come from the darkness. That’s John Rambo – a war vet/hero, a vigilante, an outsider; the consummate man alone. In Last Blood, we find Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) as somewhat a broken man. Retreating from much of his former life, & in semi-retirement, Rambo is volunteering for the force as a Mountie, & surprising achieving some grounding with family. John even has an underground mancave.
Suffering from a heavy hangover from his past conflicts & battlefield endeavours, the Rambo of Last Blood is somewhat a metaphor for the resulting affects of war. “It’s hard to get that out of my mind”, Rambo responds when reminded he’s not in Nam anymore. & much like Rambo’s chronic PTSD, there’s enough violence & dysfunctional behaviour in Last Blood to induce a nightmare or ten.
From a low success recue rate, to the abduction of his niece to a sex trafficking cartel, you get the recurrent theme that no matter what Rambo does, he can’t escape from the dark. Last Blood has plenty of bad stuff, it happens quick, & when the baddies get badass, Rambo is left to his default devices & the body count starts to pile up.
Although Stallone keeps his shirt on for this outing, the lack of skin factor is made up for by a high dose of action, guns, pyrotechnics, & kills of an ultra-violent level. *A trigger warning here for the sensitive; the carnage is gruesome, gory & seemingly OTT, particularly during the third act of Last Blood. & those are the high points, as Last Blood’s storyline largely stays on top of an emotional surface, & is void of any meaty character development.
Last Blood is the fifth film of the Rambo franchise, & judging by the title (with 1982’s First Blood being the opener of the series) & the age of Stallone (73), it’s almost certain to be the final instalment. Very much a legacy film, The Rambo in Last Blood is still a character that believes in justice, & fights for it by taking the law into his own hands. But with the passage of time & the changes that come with it, Rambo’s methodology is now sadly out of date.
Fans of 80’s action hero flicks (Schwarzenegger’s ventures et al) will find solace in the nostalgia of the collective caricatures & lightweight storytelling of Last Blood, & maybe there’s a concerted effort to script it as such. However the human-less portrayal of its core cast players & the often meaningless/overuse of explicit violence, make Last Blood only one to see if you need a night off from thinking.
Words Wal Reid
“I played Kaikoura Roots in another era of my career. I was doing solo, but blending a lot of beats and using Ablelton live, djing with my feet into my tracks, and oh my god, it was like “These people get it”
Aussie Blues maestro, Ash Grunwald will play four headline shows across the North Island this November in support of his new album ‘Mojo’ – out last month.
“It’s not trying to blend any genres like in the past”, he says. “Or, cross Blues with this, or cross Blues with that. I wanted to make a Blues album and that’s what I did, and then, I fell out of contact for a couple of years and I thought I had lost the album”. ( It was lost through contact with Grammy Award Winning producer Brian Brinkerhoff, who was a fan of his music)
With unique storytelling through song and unleashing an avalanche of rhythmic fury on guitar, Ash will bring his brand-new show to life for Kiwi’s this Summer.
Fans can expect to hear brand new tunes from the upcoming album Mojo, including the latest single ‘Whispering Voice’ (feat. Kasey Chambers) as well as old stomping Ash G favourites ‘Walking’ and ‘Money’, he readily admits to having a soft spot for our country.
“I wish I came to New Zealand more often actually”, he confides. “I played Kaikoura Roots in another era of my career. I was doing solo but blending a lot of beats and using Ablelton live and djing with my feet into my tracks, and oh my god, it was like “These people get it”, I love this I’ll be back, I love this country”, and I didn’t come back for ages after that.
“Australia doesn’t get what I’m trying to do but these guys do! They love Beats, they love Dub, they love Hendrix, this is my country, I’m coming back”. You get excited sometimes and then you never come back for ages”. (laughter)
Recorded in the US and Australia, Mojo is Ash’s first new studio album in four years and it has been a real ‘labour of love’.
“I got a new manager, we tracked down the album and we managed to bring it back to Australia”, he retells. “I was able to add some really great special guests like the Teskey brothers, Mahalia Barnes and Joe Bonamassa, the Blues guitarist from the States. I just feel lucky the way it worked out actually, which just goes to show you, you can’t see the reason why certain things happen sometimes, which puts you on a really weird path.
“Australia doesn’t get what I’m trying to do, but these guys do! They love Beats, they love Dub, they love Hendrix. This is my country, I’m coming back”
“For me, I almost ended up having a little hiatus really, we ended up moving to Bali. I was still playing gigs, but I tried to condense them. If I could do two gigs on the weekend in Australia and fly back to Bali, have two weeks at home then fly back, I was doing this whole routine, it wasn’t as career focused as the rest of life had been, but I think I needed that. In hindsight I think was a bit of ‘career downtime’.
Joining Ash on all dates, will be Kiwi blues and roots duo Swamp Thing. Made up of multi-instrumentalist Michael Barker and guitar virtuoso Brett Adams, Swamp Thing play every show as if it was their last. With a resume including stints with Split Enz, The Mockers, John Butler Trio and Tami Neilson between them, these guys certainly have a wealth of musical experience.
“When I think of New Zealand, I think of coming over and playing in different eras of my career. So like, coming over to play Womad, I had Vika & Linda, and I did my four piece band thing and that was a really weird set up, like I was solo. But that was a cool era, that was fun. Then I came back and did solo gigs, and then, another time, I came back and played in a duo with Michael Barker for one night only, which was insanely good. I mean that was a real highlight for me. And he is going to be joining me, because Swamp Thing are going to be playing the shows. I mean they’re supporting, but it will be more like a double bill. I went to his place in Rotorua, we did two rehearsals there and it was awesome”.
With Ash’s signature soul drenched vocals having the power to move mountains and create positive change, these shows are set to be a fitting start to the Kiwi summer. Fans are encouraged to only purchase tickets from official ticketing outlets as listed below.
With special guest Swamp Thing
Thursday 28 November
Anthology Lounge | Auckland
ticketmaster.co.nz | 0800 111 999
Friday 29 November
Yot Club | Raglan
ticketmaster.co.nz | 0800 111 999
Saturday 30 November
Totara Street | Mount Maunganui
ticketmaster.co.nz | 0800 111 999
Sunday 1 December
Leigh Sawmill | Leigh
ticketmaster.co.nz | 0800 111 999
Words Sarah Kidd Photos Wal Reid
Take a script, a script that is made up of quotes that have been meticulously noted down verbatim from numerous Auckland University lectures over a period of seven years. Now place that script into the hands of one very talented actress and watch the magic unfurl before your eyes.
I Didn’t Invite You Here to Lecture Me written by Amy Mansfield, is one beautifully stitched together piece of language. Deftly shifting between nouns and adjectives, music and religion, cultural exploration and the definitions of law and equity, it will both amuse and inspire. It may just also, trigger some of that anxiety brought about by maddening lectures where nothing made sense and the ever-impending doom of exam week…
“Intelligently written and brilliantly executed, nowhere else will you see Shakespeare sidle up against policy and education”
Directed by Nick Dunbar, the stage is set with a simple lectern, keyboard and screen upon which periodic powerpoint slides will guide the audience into moments of hilarity, this, before presenting subject matter that will make you seriously consider, just how language can be fashioned into a weapon. A weapon that all too often is used to abuse, dismiss and belittle those of opposing race, religion and sex, to the one who wields the language. Just why are there numerous terms to describe a woman of questionable moral values and yet only one to describe a man?
Featuring Mika Austin who performs as an astounding eight different lecturers, audiences will be enthralled by her ability to seamlessly interchange between them all aided by little more than two pairs of glasses. Employing the use of differing vocal styles for each character, Austin gives us not only a German and an Irish accent but a comedic monotone for one of the lecturers that will remind all of at least one particular teacher in their lives, the kind that could put a rock to sleep without even trying.
Austin also cleverly employs the use of posture to differentiate between her characters, her astounding memory and perfect synchronisation between voice, body and character throughout the entire sixty-minute play something that is an absolute joy to watch and a skillset not often seen. With some ‘low-pressure’ audience participation thrown into the mix, attendees will indeed feel like they are back in the lecture hall, Austin leading from the front.
“Attendees will indeed feel like they are back in the lecture hall, Austin leading from the front”
Intelligently written and brilliantly executed, nowhere else will you see Shakespeare sidle up against policy and education, similarly German, Law and Anglo-Irish literature battle it out over the topics of Sex, Music and Linguistics, while attempting to educate one and all over the most effective placement of the tongue.
Yes, I Didn’t Invite You Here to Lecture Me is overflowing with extra credits and is a lesson that you really cannot afford to miss.
Get your tickets now, to see what the fuss is all about. The show is playing next week at Melbourne Fringe Festival at the Universal Restaurant Carlton, Melbourne Sept 19th to Sept 22nd. Buy tickets here:
Photos Reef Reid/ Radar Photography
|Stan Walker showcased some of NZ’s freshest talent on his Springboard Tour in Wellington this week.|
Hitting a massive nine centres on his regional tour this September, Stan will take the stage to perform songs from his impressive catalogue plus his brand new pop smash single ‘Give’ (co-written by Matiu Walters of SIX60) for his beloved fans!
Over the course of his career Stan Walker has released five studio albums and appeared in five motion pictures post his TV debut in 2009 as winner of the seventh and last season of Australian Idol. No stranger to kiwi television viewers, Stan was also a much loved judge on the first two seasons of The X Factor NZ!
Returning to Stan’s first love of making music, New Zealand audiences can expect to hear some of his biggest hits including ‘Black Box’, ‘Unbroken’, ‘Take It Easy’, ‘Bulletproof’, latest single ‘Give’ and much, much more…
The ‘Springboard’ tour will also boast three of NZ’s most up-and-coming new artists – Lepani, Niko Walters and Jordan Gavet.
Fijian born and Auckland based artist Lepani has just released his debut track ‘Pocket Full of Love’. Not only did Lepani write and record the track, he also produced, mixed and performed all the instruments himself! The track peaked at #5 on the Hot NZ Single Chart and with more music in the pipeline, Lepani will sure be one to watch!
Niko Walters has been quietly waiting in the wings for his moment to share his music with the world. While he may be the brother of SIX60 front-man Matiu Walters, Niko pulls no punches in commanding the spotlight with his new tracks ‘Together’ and ‘Moving On’. With more music lined up for release, these two tracks give an early taste of the intoxicating talents fans will come to expect from Niko Walters.
Hailing from Avondale, West Auckland, R&B singer and songwriter Jordan Gavet spent her youth between Auckland and Sydney listening to the sounds of contemporary R&B artists while crafting her own unique style. Her voice is sublime and her songs filled with attitude. Stay tuned to hear Jordan’s debut single coming soon.
Joining Stan on stage will be his longstanding backing band The Levites. Consisting of the Nansen brothers, brothers – Jakes (keys), Ross (drums), Junior (bass) and Inoke Finau on guitar, they are widely regarded as New Zealand’s hottest session band. With buckets of soul and funk for days, The Levites will be sure to get you grooving this September.
Words Sarah Kidd
“New Zealander Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom – while not being given an awful lot of room to flex his acting chops – turns in a solid performance”
With the worldwide success of IT back in 2017, and the conclusion of the story of The Losers Club vs Pennywise still left to tell, there was always going to be a sequel. With hype levels at an all time high, the question on everyone’s lips was – would the curse of the sequel strike again?
It’s a recognised phenomenon in the world of blockbuster movies, one that is right up there with reboots; fantastic films with excellent casts being let down by sequels that just don’t hit the mark. IT: Chapter Two falling into the trap of trying to be bigger and better than the first, when really director Andrés Muschietti should have been taking a leaf from the book of ‘less is more’.
Chapter One had all the makings of a great film, solid subject material (any fan of Stephen King able to agree that it was one of his better works) a menacing villain in the form of Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise and an outstanding cast of child actors who brought to the screen a chemistry that had not been seen since the eighties with films like The Goonies and Stand By Me or in more recent times J.J Abrams Super 8. It was a formula that worked.
In Chapter Two viewers are returned to Derry and immediately thrown into the midst of a particularly brutal homophobic attack that is enough to make one recoil back in their seat, the opening scenes of which are the catalyst for the return of Pennywise himself. Mike Hanlon, the only member of The Losers Club not to have left Derry immediately setting about the daunting task of calling his fellow club members to remind them of not only that summer they had already long ago purged from their memory banks but the promise they all made to return to Derry and fight IT should he return as predicted in twenty-seven years.
So far so good; the film then spends a little time with each of the adult cast members as their current stories are told and the links to their childhood counterparts are established. Some of the actors such as James Ransone who plays the adult version of Eddie Kaspbrak and Bill Hader as Richie Tozier baring an uncanny resemblance to their younger versions, right down to their shared mannerisms which immediately draws the viewer in and makes them root for them all that much harder.
Following the subject material, The Losers Club return to Derry sans Stanley Uris who decides to take his own life rather than face the trauma again; the clubs first meeting together in a Chinese restaurant momentarily capturing the love and friendship seen in their childhood, the memories flooding back to them as they tell stories and consistently make fun of each other as they did years ago. Of course, this is a horror film, so IT soon makes his presence known, the scene with the fortune cookies a particularly unnerving one.
“Many of the experiences of what made the first film so good are re-hashed”
From here however Muschietti and Gary Dauberman who penned the screenplay, lose their way for a while. Granted trying to capture the finer nuances of Kings writing, especially this novel, was always going to be a herculean task, one particular cameo with an accompanying running joke in many ways poking fun at both the creator and the creation. The addition of sub-plots such as the return of the depraved Henry Bowers (Dauberman wisely choosing to do away with the kidnapping of Bill’s wife) giving the impression that it is only there to remind the audience that Dauberman did indeed read the book as it adds little to an already lengthy movie.
Following Mike’s instructions each member of The Losers Club, explores the town of Derry, reliving childhood memories and facing down IT in various forms in order to retrieve their respective ‘tokens’ that are required for a ceremony which according to Mike will destroy IT for good. While these scenes allow the audience to reacquaint themselves with the brilliant cast of the first movie, many of the encounters are overly long and laborious, the horror side of said encounters all starting to meld into one as each booming, oozing, graveyard toothed monster begins to look much like the next. Many of the experiences of what made the first film so good are re-hashed, Eddie for example once again being forced to look his germaphobia dead in the eye as it regurgitates all over his face; they become so frequent that they soon dissolve into cheap jump-scare territory that can be predicted down to the second.
Once the film wades through its own murky middle waters, it gets back on trajectory, The Losers Club facing down IT in an epic battle that holds the viewers attention, the hallmark card ending a little on the cliché side, but effectively getting the message across.
“Skarsgård once again delivers as Pennywise, the everlasting drop of drool lingering on his bottom lip and drifting lazy eye still making for enjoyable viewing of the nightmare kind”
While the cast works well, they never quite capture the magic that their youthful counterparts do, Jessica Chastain in particular failing to bring out that inner light that Sophia Lillis projected throughout, however she certainly gains a few marks during some of the messier horror scenes. James McAvoy playing Bill Denbrough as always displays his acting prowess, alongside him New Zealander Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom – while not being given an awful lot of room to flex his acting chops – turns in a solid performance. But it is Hader and Ransone that own the film, the execution of their characters truly outstanding; the LGBT themes that hover in the background of Haders character needing just a touch more fleshing out to make them really connect.
Skarsgård once again delivers as Pennywise, the everlasting drop of drool lingering on his bottom lip and drifting lazy eye still making for enjoyable viewing of the nightmare kind, especially when he decides to get up close and personal with small children before devouring them. At times Pennywise is a little overshadowed by the films desire to show the audience what other creepy crawlies and rotting corpses it has tucked away in dark corners just waiting to pounce; the CGI for the most part rather impressive, those with a sharp eye sure to spot the couple of scenes where they just didn’t have the time to get it quite right but threw it on in there anyways.
Ultimately IT: Chapter Two will keep the general populace of horror fans happy with plenty of hideous creatures and cheap thrills to keep the eyes occupied; but it fails to reach that echelon where it burrows under the skin and lives on well into the daylight hours, plot holes and the questionable length of the movie leaving the more seasoned viewer frustrated. Chapter Three – not required.
Words Mike Beck photos Andi Crown
“With nods to Kiwi culture and its inquiry into our identity, live theatre goers should not miss this one”
Presented by Nightsong & Auckland Live, Mr Red Light is the latest theatrical production from writer Carl Bland (Te Po & 360), which he also co-directs with his frequent collaborator Ben Crowder. With its hybrid of slapstick comedy and humanistic drama, Mr Red Light is a play that delivers energetic live entertainment, while challenging its audience to look at the way we treat each other.
The premise of Mr Red Light centres around an unassuming pie shop, whose trio of staff & customers are taken hostage by a desperate gunman, himself having arrived from a botched bank robbery. By time a fragile hostage negotiator enters the scene, it’s clear that all the characters in this tale have back-stories that are unique unto themselves. Mr Red Light himself is plagued by misfortune, but he’s not the only one.
From the slow-motion unfolding of the opening sequence, Mr Red Light sets up time as one of the shows’ motifs. The concept of time itself, the duration of our existence, schedules, clock hands and countdowns are presented. There are other key themes explored in this work too; identity and the understanding of others.
When it comes to utilising the medium of theatre, Mr Red Light is a delight. Bland has run the gamut here; with focused lighting, sound effect outbursts, reference & continuity music, incorporating the audience as a character, breaking the fourth wall, rapid scene/time shifts, to name but a few.
Mr Red Light boasts a small but excellent cast, headed by an impressively all-round performance by Trygve Wakenshaw, as the titled character. His versatility & timing are infectious, & other cast members; Jennifer Ludlam, Richard Te Are, Jess Sayer & Simon Ferry all have to keep pace with him , as they too have multiple tasks to perform. Ferry in particular is kept busy in multiple roles, very much the utility team player.
Mr Red Light is an unpredictable ride, creatively using the context of a heist to explore all kinds of potentialities with the characters involved, plus the relationship between them. The gags are plentiful and intelligently scribed, providing laughs by the minute. Bland’s writing shines, ably played out by some outstanding physical & verbal musings from a diverse & talented cast. With nods to Kiwi culture and its inquiry into our identity, live theatre goers should not miss this one.
Mr Red Light plays at The Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre in Auckland till Sept 22nd. Some limited national performances thereafter.
words Wal Reid photos Andi Crown photography
“God help us if the stage version of Married At First Sight ever gets to see the light of day”
Hands up who hasn’t heard of Tinder? I mean, like myself, millions of people around the world have dabbled with the popular app with the notion of finding that perfect life partner, or casual romance, virtually, only a swipe away.
Silo’s 2014 sell-out hit returns for a new year and a new flavour. Five years on, serial dater Anna’s back on the market and looking for love in all the wrong places. Each night, she meets a new blind date, each one played by a different performer, each one a surprise to Anna.
Enter ex Shortland Street actress Natalie Medlock, who has the enviable (or not) task of taking us through the pains of meeting strangers in the hope of finding a connection, the show highlights a different side of theatre that is part ‘improv’ and karaoke, in the idyllic setting of the Locket bar
Tonight’s show had actress Olivia Tenet adding a ‘cute’ addition to the project. She was a natural, bubby and undeniably pregnant, which, for a Tinder date, is make “make or break” or a situation that would normally see the potential date running for the hills.
The Sophie Roberts directed show is unscripted and unrehearsed. Relying solely on impulse, a shot of tequila and their phones, Anna and her date are directed via live texts and calls as they put their hearts on the line and their nerves to the ultimate test. This did create a few ‘pregnant’ pauses but they handled those moments well.
Both actresses were fabulous in their roles. There was a genuine connection that made it believable. Coupled with Medlock’s rendition of her manic-anxious-boss-fucking character Anna, it wasn’t overplayed and this seemed quite a natural progression in the character, personified to the point, of being scary real.
Snarky S&M bartender Yvette Parsons was invaluable. She strutted the stage with a version of The Divinyls’s I Touch Myself, that would’ve made singer Chrissie Amphlett proud. Her script rich with sarcasm, a welcome comic relief, however, I found it hard to hear her lines on more than one occasion. This coupled with the noisy table behind me added to my listening woes, it would’ve helped if she had been aided with a mic of some sort.
I’ve always mused what it would be like to take an actual blind date to see the show. Maybe genuine relationships have been forged thanks to the Blind Date Project? It’s a tricky one this whole improvisation stage, but like the blurb says, it is after all exactly that, a ‘project’ nothing more, nothing less.
It would have been interesting to see how she would’ve got on with a male date. For one, he wouldn’t have been pregnant (funny that), and secondly, the date would’ve probably been shorter (presumptuous much?). Oh yes, that sordid world of online dating we all love to hate. God help us if the stage version of Married At First Sight ever gets to see the light of day. In the meantime, enjoy the mini karaoke version: The Blind Date Project, it’s a ‘fly on the wall’ experience that will make theatre goers cringe with dating déjà vu.
The Blind Date Project is on until September 21st at Q Theatre Loft.
Words Glenn Blomfield
The popular Ben Elton musical that has been rocking the stage with Queen’s music since 2002 in London hit Auckland at the Bruce Mason Theatre Takapuna. With a grand cast of Kiwi thespians rocking up a storm, the futuristic show is designed to be a Rock concert experience of the bands music. You are guaranteed to enjoy, clap, sing along, even dance in the aisles if the mood suits.
The show is fun, but if you were to strip away Queen’s bits, you are not left with much. It’s playful, using tie ins with Queen’s songs with the character names and story points, but it’s also on the camp side with cheeky laughs to be had. The stage is set in a Science Fiction future world where there is no Rock music, just a preppy society called Ga Ga ruled By Killer Queen.
Our Protanganist is hero Galileo Figaro, the dreamer with a mind filled with music. With no way to express his musical bent, he befriends a female interest Scaramosch, and falls into the underworld of the society of the Bohiemans. It’s all in the search of the ancient myth of Rock music, under the idol of Freddie Mercury. The Killer Queen and her minions are out to prohibit them from reaching their freedom through the soul that is music.
The stage show has moments of flashy production value, but feels tired and outdated. But what we are really here for is the Music, especially the singing. Singer Annie Crummer, as the Killer Queen is by far the stand out performer. When she sings and preforms she is a level above the rest, which possibly to the detriment to the rest of the cast, made them sound flat in comparison. It is an unenviable task to sing a Queen song and not be likened to the great Freddie Mecury. The lead singers gave it their best, belting out the songs with energetic fervour.
WE WILL ROCK YOU, is a fun entertaining night out, but it’s not a total “winning-you-over-success show. Yes, you will be singing along, clapping, and waving your arms in the air like you are at a Queen concert, and for that reason alone, it’s why audiences keep coming to see the show,
Words Wal Reid/ Photos Indian Ink Theatre
“Originally, it was going to be a solo show and I was there at the right moment, they said “Actually this might be two actors” and I was like “Hello”
Fresh from their North American tour and following a sell out season at Q last year, Indian Ink’s Mrs Krishnan’s Party sets down in Auckland and Tauranga for a limited time, starring the fantastic pairing of Justin Rogers and Kalyani (Kaly) Nagarajan.
The show takes the audience into the back room of Mrs Krishnan’s dairy where garlands decorate the ceiling, music flows and Mrs Krishnan is throwing a party like no other. Food simmers on the stove, laughter abounds and strangers become friends in this joyous celebration of life, so too lurking behind the scenes is actor Justin Rogers who plays The Boarder.
Rogers graduated from Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School, his previous roles include the Prince in Into The Woods directed by Cameron Rhodes and the short ﬁlm Jigsaw directed by James Ashcroft. Also noticing Rogers was Hollywood who invited the young Justin to star alongside Kiwi actor Matt Whelan as Playboy founder Hugh Hefner in the Amazon Original series American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner.
“It was right out of drama school as well” he says. “It was a big learning experience, working out who everybody was. It was filmed in New Zealand before Hugh Hefner died, it was a great thing a real experience as I will have with Mrs Krishnan’s Party The Movie” (laughter)
After touring the show Matariki with the Court Theatre which performed to ten thousand kids across Canterbury he toured with Maui Me Te Ra and most recently played Dr Ropata in Shortland Street the Musical, even touring overseas with Mrs Krishnan’s Dairy had its moments.
“We had to change some key phrases that didn’t make sense” he tells. “Hey this is Mrs Krishnan’s dairy, “What are they talking about, milk?”
NZEP: Tell us about your role in the show
JR: In the show I play James, Mrs Krishnan’s boarder, a university student slash wannabe DJ slash ‘party guy’ and I’ve basically invited a lot of people into Mrs Krishnan’s room to have a party, she doesn’t know about it and the audience are part of the guests that are invited. We start the show with Mrs Krishnan asking “What are all these people doing inside my house?”
NZEP: This is the first time you’ve worked with Indian Ink Theatre Company?
JR: Yes this is the first time. I’ve done a show with them and this show has been going for a little while and we did our first season way, way back a few years at Tapac to see if it would work. It’s kind of different to Indian Ink so we had to develop it to see if it would work, then we got some international interest and we got to take it around. Kaly and I were class mates at drama school we spent three years together and now we spend a further three years together (laughter)
NZEP: So its basically yourself and Kalyani?
JR: It was based on her solo show, so after the first year of drama school we had to do a solo show and she invited Jacob Rajan. He’s one of the co founders of Indian Ink and he liked what he saw and said “Hey, let’s make something for this amazing actress” so they started working on the piece way back then. Originally, it was going to be a solo show and I was there at the right moment, they said “Actually this might be two actors” and I was like “Hello”. The cast is just the two of us and the third character part becomes the audience, people are invited to participate as much as they’re comfortable doing.
NZEP: Have people responded positively to the show?
JR: Yeah they really have. It’s crazy, I think here in New Zealand it was well received because it was a sequel to Krishnan’s dairy which was the first show that Indian ink did. Mrs Krishnan’s Party kind of lives on its own so you don’t have to have seen the first one to make sense of it. Audiences respond to it because its recognisable like the whole trope of our local dairy. We know that and we now what we buy there, we know those people so its recognisable, overseas, there’s maybe something about the Kiwi charm has helped us a bit? Also in America, they know enough about Kiwi life to buy into the reality of the situation. I think its just unique as well, there’s also a bit of live cooking which goes down quite well
NZEP: What’s your favourite part of the show?
Probably once Kaly & I get on the stage together. I’m kind of there by myself in the beginning and that can be kind of scary. I’m feeling the audience out and they’re feeling me out and then Kaly comes on and once her and I are on stage, it’s like a game of ping-pong between us and the audience. I love working with her, she’s funny, she’s awesome. It’s fun for us to play and be like “ Oh my gosh, what’s happening tonight?”
NZEP: Is this one of the most satisfying shows you’ve been involved with?
JR: Probably – because we’ve had a long go with it. You know, Kaly’s been working on a version this character since drama school and I’ve been involved for two and half years. Indian Ink picks up and puts down the show and we have some time off for a bit, then come back as we’re about to do here in Auckland and then we tour after as well. I get to meet myself again through the character. Each time you open in a new centre it’s opening night again. You can’t get past the opening night feeling, I can’t wait to tour it again.
Join the party before the company heads overseas for a tour to 15 American cities.
Words Wal Reid Photos Andi Crown Photography.
“Well it wouldn’t be New York in the Nineties, if it didnt contain elements of homo erotica, bad fashion sense or casual racism”
Maybe It was the not-so-subtle references to the new Cats movie, aligned with the character matchings of the popular mystery board game Cluedo (especially the delicious Miss Scarlett-esque Jennifer Ward-Leland) or the sordid nudie part of the show that had me won over. Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed this show.
The show was adapted into an acclaimed film in 1993 that starred Will Smith (Never seen it) in the role of Paul, a skilful con-artist who mysteriously appears, injured and bleeding, at the apartment door of two Manhattan socialites one night, claiming to be a close college friend of their Ivy League kids. From there things goes awry and the story transpire further into the clutches of despair and deceit – the perfect ingredients for a show.
The shows interesting premise wasn’t by any stretch the only reason for the shows appeal, Colin McColl’s direction lends itself to an overdue tweaking of American playwright John Guare’s candid snapshot of class & race relations in Nineties New York. The local cast deliver their character personas with fervent passion, the theatrical nuances perfectly calibrated to John Parker’s sublime set and Jo Kilgour’s broody lighting, heightening the audiences senses with much gusto & delight.
This astounding story based on real life events depicts the lives of suave, sophisticated and wealthy Manhattan art dealers Flan and Ouisa Kittredge, wonderfully portrayed by Andrew Grainger & Ward-Lealand. The Kittredge’s are all about keeping up appearances but their world of comfort and respectability is turned upside down with the sudden arrival of a charming stranger played by ex Shortie Street actor Tane Williams-Accra, who really steals the limelight with Ward-Lealand on more than one occasion.
Their conversations buoyant, free flowing, faultless and the aesthetics of word play is entertaining to behold – it’s a very complex symbiotic relationship but one that is rewarding to the show’s close. I also loved Mark Wright & Lisa Chappell as the Kittredge’s zany friends, and also the Kittredge’s kids including local comedian Brynley Stent adding some nice comic relief.
Well it wouldn’t be New York in the Nineties, if it didnt contain elements of homo erotica, bad fashion sense or casual racism thrown in for good measure. Six Degrees of Separation boasts a solid cast that will rival any production this year, yes, even the dreaded upcoming Cats movie, which when it does come out, will see the shows script hauled in for slight tweaking. Until then savour on one of the best shows in town that will have you checking family members for any personality anomalies & wondering what a “starfucker” is.
Six Degrees of Separation on from August 14th until August 30th ticket info go to www.atc.co.nz/auckland-theatre-company/2018-19/six-degrees-of-separation/
words Wal Reid
“Post Modern Jukebox is not a band – it’s a Universe.”
Postmodern Jukebox, also widely known by the acronym PMJ, is a rotating musical collective founded by arranger and pianist Scott Bradlee. PMJ is known for reworking popular modern music into different vintage genres, especially early 20th century forms such as swing and jazz, if you’ve ever heard their Jazzed infused version of Lorde’s Royals with Puddles Pity Party Clown (Mike Geier) singing , you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about.
Pop/Jazz singer Aubrey Logan is about to embark on her first tour to New Zealand with the group who have amassed over 1.2 billion YouTube views and 4 million subscribers. She is excited about the prospect of visiting ‘Middle Earth’, well the closest thing to it anyway.
“I want to see the Hobbit I want to see The Shire with The Hobbits, I want to so bad. I’m about the height of one. (laughter)
“I have never been on a Post Modern Jukebox Tour to New Zealand,” she confides. “I’ve only been to Australia with a different tour, but you know what? PMJ is a whole lot of singers revolving in and out of tours.”
Each week, Postmodern Jukebox releases a new video on YouTube. Although originally most were filmed casually in Bradlee’s living room, sets became more elaborate over time. The band has covered songs by artists ranging from Lady Gaga and The Strokes to Katy Perry and the White Stripes. Since their beginnings as a small group of friends making music in a basement in Queens, New York, Postmodern Jukebox has gone viral around the world.
“You know what? Bohemian Rhapsody inspired me a lot. Yep, I loved it. It was hopeful, truthful and ALL the good things.”
“I’m really looking forward to the shows to be honest.” She readily admits. We’ll probably get on a plane most every day very little time to explore so I have to make the most of the fact that I’m on a show with some of my close friends. I have not been a part of a PMJ Tour for a couple of years, so, this will be my return and I’m so ready for the family reunion to be honest, that’s going to be my favourite thing.
“It’s like an extended family, we’re all artists and we do our own shows, I’ve been on the road doing my album tours but its time to reunite with my very close friends. Post Modern Jukebox is not a band – it’s a Universe.”
I ask her if the touring takes a toll on her daily life or marriage. It seems Logan has a penchant for touring and singing which she makes no qualms about.
“No if he came on tour we wouldn’t hang out at all.” she jokes. “It’s hard when we’re in a different city everyday. He visits me occasionally if I have a couple of days somewhere and somewhere really cool that he hasn’t been. He’ll pop over and we’ll hang out, we have to give and take, because I’m on tour all summer here and he’s visiting me for several shows, he has a job too believe it or not.”
Right Aubrey, I’m going to ask a series of spontaneous questions: You ready?
What is your favourite colour?
“Red. Because I can see it. I always notice it, it says “listen to me.” (laughter)
What is your favourite dish?
“Rib eyes on the grill.”
What is your pet peeve flying?
“I hate when you land and the plane sits on the tarmac however long, before going to the gate.”
Do you have any food allergies?
“No, I don’t.”
What is your favourite TV show?
What is your favourite movie?
“You know what? Bohemian Rhapsody inspired me a lot. Yep, I loved it. It was hopeful, truthful and ALL the good things.”
Who are your favourite singers?
“Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jarreau, Don Henley, Whitney Houston, Linda Ronstadt, Frank Sinatra, I could keep going. I have quite a Jazz background. I sang musical tutor as a kid then when I picked up a trombone as a teenager, I learnt to play Jazz then learned to sing Jazz.”
What are your hobbies?
“Well if I’m not performing I’m writing songs, that’s more my full time job than anything but it takes so dang long. I do a lot of Crossfit and I cook a lot, those are my fun things I do, those are my outlets.”
Who you could choose anybody, who would you perform a duet with?
“Michael McDonald. I covered one of his songs on my recent album.”
She is adamant that she will return for solo tour of New Zealand in the future, but first up is the Australia and New Zealand leg of PMJ’s world tour. Hopefully she would’ve seen a few Hobbits by then – with or without Hubby
Words Sarah Kidd
“Read My Lips is refreshingly lively and genuinely honest in its tone”
Currently there are around nine thousand deaf people living in New Zealand whose lives are filled with anecdotes of humour, frustration and yes, loss. Read My Lips, the second original work from the multimedia Embers Collective, brings those stories provided by members of the Auckland Deaf Community together to the stage in a heart-warming piece of theatre that is fully accessible to both the hearing and deaf.
Featuring Leane, Eden and Val, three beautifully strong female characters played by Shelley Waddams, Embers Collective co-founder Ashleigh Hook and Monari Falepeau respectively who devised the work themselves along with producer Georgia Hoskins-Smith, Read My Lips takes the audience through the trials and tribulations of everyday life that the trio of friends face as they learn how to communicate with one another again after Val contracts Meningitis as a child and becomes deaf.
The characters cleverly use both basic props and multimedia such as an overhead projector to illustrate their journey as they grow and shake off their childlike forms, emerging on the other side as three young women finding both their way and who they are in the world while all the while maintaining and developing this special bond that they share. Spice Girl dance routines, the despair of Val’s father never learning to sign and Mortal Kombat style challenges between Eden and Leane as they continue to learn and challenge themselves in becoming fluent in NZSL (New Zealand Sign Language) feature throughout the performance.
“In her stage debut Monari Falepeau as Val is brilliant, her story as a deaf woman in today’s society told with a fierce grace”
Hilarity ensues as Leane and Eden affectionately goad each other’s NZSL failings such as accidently complimenting someone’s bra rather than their top thanks to a misplaced hand movement; their desire to continually expand their sign vocabulary speaking volumes of the adoration they have for their friend. Ultimately this is the underlying theme of Read My Lips, the love and friendship that the women share between them; the real-life bond between two of the players off stage shining through like a light in the darkness and adding a shimmering thread of jubilation throughout. No doubt due to opening night nerves, the performance does feel a little rushed in parts, but the sheer exuberance and physicality of the players – especially the spirited Waddams as Leane – is so utterly joyful that they are often met with a wall of smiles beaming back at them.
The musically backed visual pieces are again simple but effective, each one adding unspoken dialogue to the story in a creative way; a live painting scene conveying more than even the most masterfully scripted words ever could about the emotions that sometimes surround a deaf person just trying to complete the normal activity of ordering a burger combo in a hearing world.
In her stage debut Monari Falepeau as Val is brilliant, her story as a deaf woman in today’s society told with a fierce grace as she at one point kindly admonishes Leane – who has demanded that Val increases both her home and personal security now that she is deaf – letting her know in no uncertain terms that she will not let her disability stop her from living life. Waddams and Hook bring an energy to the stage that is contagious, working off each other they intermittently break the fourth wall with amusing results while periodically signing or translating by voice (as the two hearing performers) and written word for Falepeau.
Read My Lips is refreshingly lively and genuinely honest in its tone; it’s accessibility to those in the community whose stories it tells designed with an affecting charm that should be highly commended. More please.
Read My Lips On Until July 27th Basement Theatre
Words Shawn Moodie
“I loved every second of this joyful production. It absolutely blew me away. Please go and see it while you still can.”
Musicals these days tend to batter you into submission. Many rely on orchestral bombardment, saccharin smiles, and jazz hands in an attempt to win you over. I say that as unashamed fan of the genre (I took a 26 hour flight to London to watch Book of Mormon on the West End).
Once does none of this, instead it wins you over with its simplicity, charm and air of sweet melancholy. And while it’s not likely to blow you away with its choreographed dance numbers or gorgeous set, the play is anything but artless: in fact it owes its success not just to its versatile but to the quiet brilliance of Jesse Peach’s direction and the show’s restrained set design and lighting.
In fact, taking my seat in the ASB Waterfront Theatre for Saturday’s packed opening night, the set – or lack thereof – was the first thing that convinced me that we we’re about to witness something special. Rather than attempting a clique recreation of an Irish pub, Peach and co. opted for a starkly lit revolving in-set circle centre-stage. The stage and isles, were occupied by the cast joyfully wandering whilst in full song, serenading those of us lucky enough to get there early with a collection of Irish folk songs.
It was hard not to get swept away in the joyful carousing, though I will admit turning to wondering what exactly was going on. As the stage lights dimmed (and I was finally convinced that I hadn’t arrived halfway through), I settled in for a night that will stay long in the memory.
The play began its life as a book by Enda Walsh and later became a motion picture in 2007 written and directed by John Carney. Armed with a tiny budget and a camcorder the filmed was a massive hit winning the leads Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová an Oscar for Best Original Song in the process. The story is pretty straightforward, chronicling a love that can never happen,
between a failing Dublin songwriter and a Czech immigrant, it has that Brief Encounter bittersweet ache to it. It was perfect in its simplicity.
The play, which was adapted in a fairly straightforward fashion by famed Irish playwright Edna Walsh, wears its heart on its sleeve openly. It’s a simple and genuinely affecting story about love and connection, about finding your voice. It’s a love letter to folk music, to the working poor, and Ireland itself. It’s wonderful.
Jesse Peach fought for years to get the rights to put on this play in Auckland and I’m glad he did. He and his talented ensemble of actor/musicians don’t just do the film justice, they exceed it.
I loved the ebb and flow of the dynamics between the players and the way the whole performance seemed to breathe with superb use of dramatic pause. This was delivered by wonderful performances from every member of the cast and driven by great direction and a simple set that laid the framework for an evening of absolute pleasure and enjoyment.
Throughout the show instruments are passed between the 12-person strong cast, and songs seem to be learned as we’re watching (obviously they’ve been rehearsed to death but I’m sure you get my meaning). It’s a very easy, fluid kind of storytelling and the ensemble headed by multi-instrumentalist Adam Ogle and singer-songwriter Lisa Crawley, absolutely nailed it.
Cast were required to act, dance, sing, play a variety of instruments, and even act as stage hands throughout the night. Dropping in to centre stage to deliver lines and out to pick up instruments and play along to the action, the world of the production is built in front of our eyes and by curtain call it’s hardly a musical – more of a play with songs, I guess.
With the backing of this great ensemble, Ogle and Crawley shone in their roles. Ogle, brought unbelievable intensity and vulnerability to his character. He shades Crawley on the acting front, but really blew me away with his spot-on vocals, impressive guitar playing, and ability to keep up an Irish accent even while singing. Crawley was a stronger presence that her film counterpart and provided the production with most of its comic relief. She is an extraordinary vocal talent and offers the perfect foil Ogles vulnerability – and in combination deliver some truly memorable moments with a shared deep connection.
“The Warrens are back and with them the ghosts, ghouls and demonic creatures that go bump in the night.”
Words Sarah Kidd
The ever-expanding Conjuring universe is back with their third instalment in the Annabelle series which continues on the story of the demonic doll with a face even a mother couldn’t love.
Entitled Annabelle Comes Home it is the directorial debut of screenwriter and producer Gary Dauberman who not only wrote the Annabelle series but also shares co-writing credits on The Nun along with The Conjuring director James Wan; Dauberman managing to somewhat redeem the Annabelle series with this chapter which is certainly a step above the rather lacklustre first two.
Arguably a lot of the success of the movies that kickstarted it all, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 comes down to the on-screen chemistry between Ed and Lorraine Warren played by Patrick Wilson and the fabulous Vera Farmiga, but sadly while both actors do make an appearance, their screen time is limited to bookending the film, the story itself focussing in on their daughter Judy Warren who soon reveals that she too has her mother’s gifts. Regardless, The Warrens are back and with them the ghosts, ghouls and demonic creatures that go bump in the night.
Centred predominantly in The Warrens house the film sets the tone nicely; the 1960’s aesthetics paid particular attention through the décor, clothing and music, the audience given a chance to familiarise themselves with the teenage characters before the film homes in on the Warrens heavily locked artefact room which contains a plethora of haunted objects just itching to break loose and wreak havoc. There Annabelle patiently waits for the inevitable foolish teenage decision that will literally make the audience groan out loud while simultaneously granting Annabelle her much sought-after freedom.
Cue almost maddening creaking doors, creepy reflections, multiple quick-fire jump scares that are a tad repetitive of previous films and all too brief introductions to other spirits such as The Black Shuck who are undoubtedly there only to create the framework for yet another round of spin-offs. Seasoned horror fans might find themselves a little disappointed with the predictability of it all, however there are some stand out scenes well worth watching out for, such as Annabelle’s evolving shadow and the possessed television projecting horrific visions of the future; small details for those really paying attention bringing about fleeting moments of satisfaction.
The young cast are very watchable, Mckenna Grace (Captain Marvel) impressing as Judy Warren despite being given one of the clunkiest lines of dialogue towards the end of the film that will make eyes collectively roll; both Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) and Katie Sarife (Supernatural) as Mary Ellen the babysitter and her best friend Daniela playing their parts well without ever toppling over into the dramatically absurd. All three injecting a healthy amount of humour into many of their scenes.
While not bringing anything particularly new to the table when it comes to the horror genre, Annabelle Comes Home is still an entertaining watch that may prompt the curious to look into the real-life Annabelle doll that the film is loosely based on. Because that really is terrifying…
“Annabelle Comes Home” is the third instalment of New Line Cinema’s hugely successful “Annabelle” films starring the infamous sinister doll from the “Conjuring” universe. Gary Dauberman, the screenwriter of the “Annabelle” films, “IT” and “The Nun,” makes his directorial debut on the film, which is produced by Peter Safran, who has produced all the films in the “Conjuring” franchise, and “Conjuring” universe creator James Wan.
Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s holy blessing. But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target—the Warrens’ ten-year-old daughter, Judy, and her friends.
ANNABELLE COMES HOME stars McKenna Grace as Judy; Madison Iseman as her babysitter, Mary Ellen; and Katie Sarife as troubled friend Daniela; with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprising their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren.
ANNABELLE COMES HOME releases in New Zealand in theatres on June 27, 2019.
Based on Homers The Iliad.
Words Glenn Blomfield
There is an intimate feeling about the Herald theatre in Aotea Centre. Walled up stadium seating, in close confinement confronting the stage. A stage dressed as if unprepared, unready for a production, the illusion of waiting to be used, or about to be used, all adding to the feel of backstage drama. Paint tins reveal spills on the floor, the odd prop leans against the walls, window frames and things from sets not used, a working bench table has music equipment silently sitting there, while a guitar next to it stands isolated alone. Objects like ghosts waiting to be used, mid-stage a table and chair while a bucket and mop sit idle. We the audience wait, murmuring away to ourselves as the house light stays on, but within this moment of waiting, in an environment that feels in-between productions, the show An Iliad walks on stage. Calm and unassuming, suitcase in hand, like a character from Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, the audience anticipates the start of the show. We adjust as we realise this unassuming moment has started.
The Iliad is an ageing elderly man, battling emotional anger, a Poet, who recalls the burden of memory of the ancient Homer’s story telling of the ten year battle between the Greeks and Trojans at the walls of Troy. No small tale, but one of epic scope and emotional toil, that fits the words and voice of a beleaguered bard. The Poet played by actor Michael Hurst, places the suitcase on the table, what is inside carries the weight of memories past and burdens of what he is about to share. Memories and thoughts are always a struggle to grasp for it’s words and story, the ever toiling trouble of a poet. Iliad cries out for his muse, begging for help to carry the weight of this epic tale of Troy. His cries are successfully answered, as on walks from the side stage is musician Shayne P Carter, silently placing himself far left of stage to the awaiting whisper of his sound equipment and weapon of choice – A guitar. Hence forth is the duet of soundscape and tonal music, dramatic and emotional, a perfect soundtrack to Iliad’s epic monologue of passion, its moments of unbridled anger and rage, an exhausting and emotional labour fuelling the classic story of demi Gods and fearless warriors, all for the battle of Troy.
Hurst, which has to be said, is a gift to New Zealand stage and theatre. the charismatic actor certainly stands tall in stature when on stage, a vigour akin to that of a top athlete. Incredibly intense with a barrage of monologue, for 110 minutes, An Iliad’s exhaustive power acting delivers with emotive power, sinking its eliciting emotional density, drawing in every breath, every anguish, every bit of pain and emotional toil, that the story Troy elicits. For a play like this to exist, Hurst must of gone through an unbelievable amount of training, discipline to build and create his character. There is so much on stage, that can’t go without ignoring the unbelievable talent and passion to his chosen craft. I will try and not wag on about the amazing Michael Hurst, but it is simply outstanding. The power of his performance pulls on the narrative of Homer’s Troy classic, precluding the present world context. Wars that hamper our world’s history, continues to boil and enrage our future. There is one strong emotional memory for me in the play that sees Hurst the Poet, listing an exhaustive list of world wars, you feel the emotional tears of welling sadness of humanity, it is a very powerful moment.
“Calm and unassuming, suitcase in hand, like a character from Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, the audience anticipates the start of the show. We adjust as we realise this unassuming moment has started.”
I haven’t even yet touched on the story itself, which focuses on the duel at the end between the Greeks being led away with Achilles, and the Trojans great warrior and saviour Hector. There is so much detail, fragility and Shakespearian tragedy in one show, it could fill many. The telling of battles are like great action scenes from a movie. All this linked to our own world metaphorically compared in context to understand what this all means to our own fragile humanity. A classic story that will never lose its importance and prominence. Shayne P Carter, plays The Muse, delivering a haunting and sorrowful soundscape, all in sync to The Poets monologue. It feels like a duet feeding off each other, feeling their way through the emotions, delving into deep rage and sorrow, it is a concert of meeting minds. Not a rock concert per se, I would describe it as a soundtrack to a far off world, drawing haunting memories lost and found. It’s there and is not. What it does do, is draw you into compelling emotion, the combination works very well.
Overall ‘An Iliad’ is compulsary viewing. With no interval, Michael Hurst will captivate with unbelievable talent and craftsmanship. His muse Shayne P Carter illicits an engrossing musical score and transcendent soundtrack. Writers Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare have pulled together a rewarding theatrical show. Written with complexity and controlling details, it’s history lesson powerful. Let’s not omit director, Jonathon Hendry, who has the enviable task of controlling the beast, he’s pulled together a successful play that deserves and gives a rewarding theatrical experience. Bravo. Kiwi theatre is alive and kicking, don’t miss this unmissable show, it is an experience begging your attention – A standing ovation.
Words Glenn Blomfield
“Watch and connect with this endearing documentary, it may just bring a magical tear from inside.”
Yang Sun and S. Leo Chiang’s film is a beautifully executed gem of a documentary. I was tenderly moved and carried away by its sweetness and connection to the fragility and strength of life. You will feel the compassion to life’s creative endeavours, and what a connection between father and son can bring together with this passion. The story is about a boy, now a grown man, he lives his life as an artist, his father, which was once an accomplished Peking Opera director of theatre, directed over 80 shows in Shanghai, has come to a stage in life where he has a fading mind, confusion in his mind grows stronger while his memory grows weaker suffering from Alzheimers. A son wants this one last chance of collaboration, to work on a play about this very thing, a son wanting to help his Father who becoming more forgetful. In this play he builds a time machine and goes back to collect a lifetime of important memories.
Maleonn is an influential Chinese artist, now in his forties, ambitiously creating a play with life size puppets, dedicated to his Father. The puppet show, is magical show of engineering and puppetry, showcasing his organic mechanical unique designs. Influenced by the story of Pinocchio which his father introduced to him as a young child, I would definitely love to see this puppet production. With its steampunk aesthetics, shadow play, and its other magical mysteries waiting to be discovered. Of course with a endeavour such as this, passion alone is the driving force, there is many trials and tribulations in this journey. It’s not only about a son wanting to collaborate and connect with a father, but also the meaning of losing of time, and keeping the creative spirit alive.
This Documentary ‘Our Time Machine’ is a beautiful moving piece of cinema, I love that spark of magic and wonder, that wonderful sense of mystery and discovery in the arts, and connection with reality, dealing with its joy with zeal and compassion. Life is a wondrous thing, confusing and mysterious, and there are many ways to look at its perspective and deal with it. Why not build a time machine? it is only our creativity that is prevents us from doing this. Do yourself a favour, watch and connect with this endearing documentary, it may just bring a magical tear from inside.
“I don’t think Tom’s problem is laziness, rather the fact that he has a thousand great ideas and only one mind to develop them all.”
Words Anna Groot
A friend with his finger on the pulse, first alerted me to the talents of Tom Sainsbury and his satirical impressions, regularly posted on facebook, telling me I needed his videos in my life. He was right. Tom Sainsbury’s observations on New Zealand current affairs and his creation of recognisable personas and the idiosyncracies of some of NZ’s public figures, are a much better time than ‘animals do the darndest things’ videos – although they also feature in his show.
As Tom is generally in character(s) when communicating to his audience via social media, I was intrigued to find out how a live performance would play out. Tom’s unique stage entrance method saw him hiding behind the projector screen as the various characters he has created introduced the show via video. Coming out from behind the screen Tom asks “Who is the real Tom Sainsbury? “He speaks about himself in the 3rd person, for one thing” he says, setting the tone for the rest of the show.
Growing up on a farm in Matamata, Tom had a lot of time to develop his observational prowess. He credits his success in comedy with his USP as a scientist comedian. His scientific career began early, winning a highly commended award in science at school with the help of an affectionate brood of chickens and a conscientious mother.
Tom likes to think of himself as a scientist of the human condition. However, he also shares that he’s “someone who doesn’t do the work, but expects the results,” and that “this is one of my most unattractive qualities.” I don’t think Tom’s problem is laziness, rather the fact that he has a thousand great ideas and only one mind to develop them all….and the fact he openly admits his delight in the works of Katy Perry.
The show flew by in an hour and Tom covered a lot of ground from shedding new light on David Attenborough’s viral snake vs iguana clip to impressions of geriatric men with fly obsessions and irate, peroxide-haired mums wanting to talk to management. Tom also confessed to wanting to be Jacinda Ardern’s court jester, in return for lots of money and love.
I’d love to see Tom Sainsbury in conversation with David Sedaris. Like David, Tom believes that in comedy “everything is fair game” and that there are no taboos, also admitting that he genuinely loves everyone that he takes the piss out of. Tom recognises that there is a tricky line between being a satirist and becoming a poster boy for hate groups, but I think he is destined to become one of NZ’s most treasured entertainers, if he can be arsed.
“The styling and choreography is like a beautiful dance, though a very brutal and violent dance.”
Words Glenn Blomfield
The levels of action, have been pumped to adrenaline high octane level, the action scenes are freakin’ awesome. The John Wick story carries on in hurried pace straight on from where John Wick 2 literally left off, with John Wick running through New York streets with a clock ticking down, minutes to go before the bounty of 14 million dollars takes effect and every underworld hitman is after his head. Simple premise, taken to the most awesome choreographed action scenes I have seen in quite some time. The John Wick series of films have brought the R rated action films back to life, each one has me buzzing with excitement for the next one.
Each of the John Wick films expand on the last, and that is certainly the case with ‘Parabellum’. There is plenty of action showdowns to satisfy the fans, the styling and choreography is like a beautiful dance, though a very brutal and violent dance I should note. There is no holding back with the audience reacting with “ohhh’s ahhh’s” with impacting shocks, it is certainly an engaging ride. It has been some time that an action film can be enjoyable like a rollercoaster ride. Keanu Reeves has brought back his powerhouse action chops ala The Matrix series, even though he is a lot older, it certainly doesn’t slow him down. Even Halle Berry puts on her action boots, and kicks some serious action booty, her part is small, but certainly leaves a mark in the film.
John Wick, can’t escape his Hitman past he is dragged back deeper in each time and he has to sell more of his soul. As I mentioned earlier the premise and story of John Wick films is kept simple, to allow for incredible stunts, fight scenes combining in great thrill rides of action. There is feel of Spaghetti Westerns, if you look out for it you will see a homage to ‘The Good,The Bad, and the Ugly’ the Sergio Leone classic film. While we are here, I will even drop a homage nod to James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ the fight scene in the room of Glass panels. If you allow it John Wick 3 – The Parabellum, will take you on a great action amusement park ride. I am definitely buzzing for the next John Wick film in the series.
Out now in cinemas.
Words Wal Reid
What’s in a name you say? Well if you’re Samoan comedian Li’i Alaimoana, it’s everything. The likeable Polynesian comedian, who looks more like he’d be comfortable on the rugby field than in front of a mic, has his birth name insistently mispronounced. This in turn, has given him some useful comedy fodder. (unlike palagi audience member Chris, who had a way easier name to remember)
Alaimoana’s show SeriousLi’i hinges on shy, Samoan, self-deprecating humour. It resonated well with the packed festival opening night crowd, the vocal approval from the crowd had me thinking afterwards “Why isn’t this guy on TV?”
Alaimoana is candid but not too direct, crude, but just enough to keep him off the ‘rudie’ blacklist, mean spirited, but fun. He jokes his weight, his wife, kids, even touching on that touchy ‘hot potato’ depression. The payoff however is ‘human connection’, which he got by the bucket load tonight.
Li’is’ comic timing was executed flawlessly, his charm and Polynesian nuances spot on in delivery. I thought he worked the crowd well. Not many flat points, the show was definitely getting laughs in all the right places.
Eventually the crowd were rewarded with a rudie song for he guys in the audience (someone mention bestiality?) which for me was a set highlight. You can’t go past Li’i Alaimoana’s show, he’s very likeable, his stories worked remarkably well, even getting laughs with his gym fueled Haiku and Samoan tinged humour. Winner.
Seriously though, this guy NEEDS to be on tv, that would be tremendousLi’i awesome (see what I did there?) Long story short – next festival make sure you seek out Li’i’s show, by then he would’ve also lost a crapload of weight to joke about, and maybe have become Samoa’s sexiest comedian.
Words Rich BeckmannFlay
He is back! Some of you might not have even noticed that he was gone, or even realised that he was here in the first place, that doesn’t matter. last night’s show Full Head Of Steam was an apt and (timely) reminder.
The Kiwi star of the critically acclaimed “New Zealand Today” web series and ex studio bomber of Jono & Ben, took a short break from his busy schedule of arguing with people on the internet to make his self-described “triumphant” return to Auckland, the place where he has been all along.
After some time of getting my ‘Guy Williams’ experience from the TV and Radio waves, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his live show. Starting off in a darkened theatre, Guy’s appearance on the stage was surprisingly clear, even from five rows from the back, in the sizeable theatre space.
Guy deftly rolled into fairly ‘tapu’ topics around Te Reo with unrestrained but great care (pretty fly for a white guy) and managed to serve up a collective bunch of political and racial observations, without dragging on and on about (Kiwi Trump) Donald Brash or political ‘wall builder’ slash megalomaniac Donald Trump (the REAL one)
I would have laughed out loud more, but had a frightful fear of being singled out as a heckler. So the live Guy Williams experience exceeded all expectation, overall, an uplifting show that kept a smirk on my dial throughout the night (and dark).
Dial A Bouncer is the latest show from talented director/actor Jarred Tito. The four part mini series follows Campbell, a self made businessman who tries to get his Dial A Bouncer business off the ground. Here he has trouble getting his bouncer Oggi a job outside a building while his car is getting wheel clamped. Watch the hilarious first episode here
Photos Steve Bone Photography
Thanks to Libel Music Folk/Pop artist Sophie Mashlan talks to Wal & Mark about her new NZ Tour for her new album Perfect Disaster released Tuesday 23rd April. Hear her play her new single live Not This Time exclusive in the studio. Click here to watch her perform her song
Words/Photos Wal Reid
There aren’t enough expletive deletives to describe the awesome, sanguine Californian Honeydrops.
Best described as if you were going to a gig with Grayson Hugh, Simply Red or the American Roots sound of Pokey Lafarge on the same bill. The California Honeydrops celebrate their 10th year together with the release of their 7th studio album, this was an afterthought as they tore the roof off Auckland’s Tuning Fork.
Led by powerhouse vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lech Wierzynski, and drawing on diverse musical influences from Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues, and New Orleans second-line, the Honeydrops were as energetic as they were colourful on stage, there is a humbleness and honesty to their music, which was refreshing in this social media fuelled industry.
Every bit the seasoned performers, the Honeydrops have a rich and varied pedigree, supporting the likes of Blues legend Bonnie Raitt on her North America release tour—and in the past privileged to support the likes of B.B. King, Allen Toussaint, Buddy Guy, and Dr. John. These guys are no slouches, as they weaved through their gratifying set list one punter was heard shouting “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You”, Wierzynski remarked; “They want the classics”.
The Honeydrops have come a long way since guitarist and trumpeter Lech Wierzynkski and drummer Ben Malament started busking in an Oakland subway station, but the band has stayed true to that organic, street-level feel. Listening to Lech sing, it can be a surprise that he was born in Warsaw, Poland, and raised by Polish political refugees.
He learned his vocal stylings from contraband American recordings of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong, and later at Oberlin College and on the club circuit in Oakland, California. With the additions of Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera on keyboards, and Beau Bradbury on bass, they’ve built a powerful full-band sound to support Wierzynski’s Soulful timbre.
It was an intimate and fun night with the crowd pretty much in ‘party-mode’ dancing their way through most of the set to the delight of the band. There was enough crowd interaction amongst the musical melee, but the real satisfying thing about the concert was the music. The H.C’s are a ‘party’ band, its almost as if by design they can coerce the most staid & stiff concert goer to groove to the cool Jazzy Blues vibe emulating from the stage.
More like a party than a traditional concert, their shows feature extensive off-stage jamming and lots of crowd singing. They don’t make set lists. They want requests. They want crowd involvement, to make people become a part of the whole thing by dancing along, singing, picking the songs and generally “coming out of their shell”. Well, they got that by the bucketful tonight, I only wish they didn’t have to finish so soon.
Words Mike Beck
When determining the measure of a good horror flick, one would be wise to borrow the question asked in that classic scene in Beetlejuice; “can you be scary”? The good news is, that The Curse Of the Weeping Woman definitely is.
Brought to you by the production stable of Oz/Asian wonderkid John Wan (director of Saw, The Conjuring, & Aquaman), The Curse Of The Weeping Woman looks great, has a script that keeps the story moving briskly, & contains an abundance of thrills & scares, while also providing splashes of humour to keep you entertained & invested right up to its conclusion. Director on debut Michael Chaves deserves plenty of ticks, as he’s quickly picked up the ball off Wan, proving to be a fast learner.
The Curse Of The Weeping Woman draws on a bunch of the horror archetypes, the most significant & key ingredient being the dark forces & entities of the supernatural. Yes, the film is under the influence of that big daddy of that sub-genre, The Exorcist. There are many nods to it, some being; the church & the rogue priest who deals with those more challenging assignments, the weaponry to battle evil (holy water, crosses etc), & the timeline parallel that this film is set in 1973, the same year that The Exorcist was released.
Fresh from her great turn in the best film Oscar winner Green Book, Linda Cardellini plays Anna Garcia, a social worker who quickly finds out that protecting her own children (& others in her care) are beyond her capabilities. The weeping woman is a force to be reckoned with, so much so that specialized help is needed, & quickly. That’s where ex priest come shaman Rafael Olvera (played by Raymond Cruz) comes in.
The Curse Of The Weeping Woman employs all the traditional tricks in the horror filmmaking book; the moving curtain, the attic door ajar, the close framing, the juxtaposition of foreground & background action, low lighting, & the ‘silence to scream’ utilisation of sound. There’s also much claustrophobic tension built with the confinement of enclosed spaces, & the threat of an external antagonist penetrating all security. With water being an ever present motif (I won’t tell you why), you’ll feel at times like this is “Jaws” on land.
Stock up on popcorn for this one, The Curse Of The Weeping Woman is full of seat tense moments, & injects just the right amount of laughs to keep you entertained & escaped for an hour & a half.
Words Mike Beck
Warning; don’t go digging in the dirt, you’re gonna unearth all sorts of stuff. That’s the discomforting characteristic that drives The Hummingbird Project, a title that links both something the bird in subject performs, & a desired goal aimed for by its protagonists, in this buddy suspense/drama (I’ll let you discover those references for yourself).
Jesse Eisenberg plays Vincent, an ambitious young entrepreneur in the making, who has an idea that’ll reward both him & his cousin Anton (expertly played against by Skarsgård) with a literal economic stockpile. Vincent has theorised a way that will revolutionise the Share-market racket, if he can build a high-speed fiber-optic cable across a vast chuck of the U.S, thus enabling stock profits to be transferred from his competitors hands & into his.
They have the brains, in the tech-savvy mind of spectrum challenged Anton, & the brawn (drill expert Mark Vega, played by Mando), but need a benefactor to help them plant the line. This is where the fun & games start, as the cousins’ former boss Eva Torres (Salma Hayek) ups the anti to a cat & dog fight with her power moves (& dressing).
THP (abbrev), unlike its anticipated title & trailer, does not fly along swiftly. I’d recommend you grab a coffee before taking your seats, as the slowish-paced screenplay spreads out its action in short bursts, & as such it never threatens to really take off.
There are however many lessons to be learnt all along the way, especially for young Vincent, as the constant presence of maps, roads, aerial shots (of crossroads & barriers), & clever landscape/surface transitions allude to. These visual metaphors help build Vincent’s character arc, & in the end unpredictably reveal the answer to the question that initiated his desire to take on his vision.
Don’t expect THP to delve deeply into some of the themes & character motives presented in its near 2 hour duration. You’ll only be disappointed. It does though offer many distinct references; subtle observations, one of which is the ongoing journey of humanity itself, & much like the films ending, has much more road to travel.
We chat to musician Max Earnshaw about his new single Temporarily and the new video for the song. He also plays unplugged for us his new single Temporarily. Watch the interview & live performance by Max joined by Wal, Jarred and Mark on the link below
Click here to watch the interview
Words Joelle Reid
Five Feet Apart, as much as I wanted to love it, didn’t tug at the heartstrings like its teen-romance predecessors- the likes of The Fault in our Stars, To the Bone, and Me, Earl and the Dying Girl. I grew up in the target audience that thrived off these movies, but this one didn’t satisfy my itch for good looking, young, dying patients quite like the others. Those movies still felt part of their genre, whereas Five Feet Apart feels more of a play on the tropes that grew from movies with sick or terminal people. The clichés were hard to watch, and the plotline felt rushed. But I must give note to Haley Lu Richardson who played a strong lead role.
The movie revolves around her 17 year-old character, Stella, who suffers from cystic fibrosis and spends many-a-time in hospital. Her very precise and routine lifestyle is shook by the moody, charming boy Will, played by none other than teen heartthrob Cole Sprouse. The Riverdale star switched up his usual acting roles of moody-boy, to moody-boy with cystic fibrosis in what was a frustrating character to watch. It may be a flaw in the writing, because I found Will saying cheesy lines to his love interest which had me cringing in my chair (“God you’re beautiful… I wish I could touch you” and saying “I love you” without a strong chemistry to Stella are some of my personal favourite cringes from the film).
The premise lies around the idea that they must remain six feet apart at all times due to restriction of bacterial contact between CF patients. But of course, their romantic energy pushes boundaries and they stand a whopping five feet apart. From a viewer’s perspective it felt like this trope was what the plotline originated around but it didn’t feel like it had been elaborated on enough. I didn’t walk away feeling as if I learnt anything particularly profound which is often expected of a movie that revolves around life or death. Nor did I feel entertained as if I had watched a cute romance that had some type of resolve- when I left, I felt very up in the air.
One thing that did help ease my judgemental eye about the movie is that Stella’s struggle with cystic fibrosis isn’t highly glamorized, and I felt as though the amount of gore and detail used to show the condition was very appropriate. It is already very strange that putting dying young people together as lead characters is leading a few plotlines in the film industry at the moment, but if they were to ignore the very essence of that type of story I would’ve been disappointed.
“Forgive me” I ask quizzically beginning the interview. “I may be blind but I’ve never seen any reference to the acronym L.A.F? ..Loose as fuck? Really? Cool.”
Caleb Nott half the brother-sister duo Broods is pretty chilled when I ring him at his home base in L.A., I ask him what he thinks about Donald Trump taking out the elections and how crazy it is there right now. He reluctantly confesses “I try and stay out of it really, it’s pretty bloody stupid to be honest”.
The outspoken Kiwi who is admits he “Didn’t know what he was doing” as far as the technical aspect went on their first album Evergreen, is upbeat about their sophomore offering Conscious. “Recovery and Full Blown Love took quite a while to get the production and it feeling and sounding right. Sometimes you’ll listen to the song on a different day and know exactly what to do with it with fresh ears.”
Conscious the latest pop-tartlet has seen the Kiwi duo tour extensively overseas, supporting Pop demi-gods Ellie Goldie, Sam Smith and appearances on the Late Late Show with talk show mega-host James Corden have helped propel the group to international status.
Broods has organically morphed musically and personally, in some ways it’s a journey that has seen the talented Kiwi pair outgrow their own pop persona, maturing from being a ‘breakthrough’ artist into an international force majeure.
The group has been nominated for five awards at this years Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, last year they cleaned up scooping five awards including Album of the Year, I jokingly add “Isn’t it time you gave somebody else a chance?”. “Nah” he drolly says, tongue in cheek.
The talented pair are about to embark on a tour with long time personal favourites Two Door Cinema Club before heading back to these shores, they have European passports and are ready “to crack it” with a new band sporting a Yank in the line up.
“We’ve got a token American on stage now. Its pretty scary for her entering a whole touring party of Kiwis, she’s had to learn the accent very quickly. Nott is quick to add. “It will always be a majority Kiwi for sure”.
He laughs saying he gets mistaken for Aussie singer Jarryd James. Recalling once walking around a venue post Jarryd James gig to calls of “good gig bro…” “Everybody reckons we look the same.” (laughter)
James also guested this year on stage with Broods at their Vector Arena gig singing his latest single 1000x. “He’s probably the nicest man you’ll ever meet, super talented and the most humble dude.”
Even though the pair are out on the road or touring overseas they still hold in high regard their New Zealand upbringing, it’s an experience that keeps them grounded as he says keeps them from “not getting too big for your boots.”
“I think it’s how we’ve been brought up by our parents.” He says. “We travel a lot with family as well. I’ve got people like my cousin and Georgia, we’ve been hanging out since we were babies. We just have full on fist fights mate (laughter).
“We hardly ever disagree on anything, we’re pretty good like that and because we’re family and we’ve known each other for so long we know when to leave each other alone and when not to. You can be a lot more to the point with family. No beating around the bush you can be blunt and everyone respects each other.”
He goes on to recall the time his mum “embedded in our brains” the idea to become a mini-Corrs “We’re one brother and three sisters, so there’s still time to be a Corrs cover band once Broods is all finished.”
The obvious signs of homesickness are gauged by food and the odd reference to back home, its no different it seems even living half way around the world.
“Yeah meat pies.” He says almost relishing the thought. “They don’t have them, but there’s an Aussie bakery we get frozen pies from and bring them home and cook them up when you’re feeling under the weather, maybe after a night out, that’s when you want your meat pie.
“There’s no Pavs but they have pretty much everything else, L&P and Pineapple Lumps. It just costs through the roof so when family come over we get everything. We’ve had the Whittakers K Bar chocolate, we’ve tried that out and get Squiggles sent over.”
Broods are quickly learning that getting noticed isn’t as easy as you may think in America, as Nott says “It’s either super busy or sitting around twiddling your thumbs.” It seems however that hard work and regular touring gets you noticed, even by Swedish pop star Tove Lo, who appears on their latest album on the track Freak of Nature.
“Tove made a big impression on us both of us.” He says. “We love working and hanging with her because she’s so real. She’s quite different to everyone else in the Pop industry. She’s more like us, a little bit mental and doesn’t really give a shit about anyone else (laughter). She’s just doing what she’s doing.
“We’re on the same festival circuit around America, we’d hang out after we perform and we played her a demo of Freak and she said “I really like that one”. We said “Do you want to sing on it?” and she said “yes” and she did it – that simple.”
Compared to Swede Lo’s promiscuous lyrics, Nott says they’re “pretty boring” however he admits the song writing process is more organic citing a shift from the ‘darker’ earlier Brood singles to the pop-edge style of latest album Conscious. “Usually we just write from scratch, most of the songs we write in a day. If it’s good it should be written in a day. Freak of Nature we revisited a year and a half after we first wrote it and then finished it.
“We’ve been touring a lot.” He adds. “I think while you’re touring and playing all these live shows you end up writing with that in mind, you start writing songs that have a bit more energy in them because you want to play them live. Also we’re a lot happier these days, there’s not so much depressing shit on the album. We’re not like poor University kids who put $5 into the car every time they go to the petrol station you know?”
Conscious has been well received outside of Aotearoa, the sweet sounding infectious Pop Electronica hits all the right notes. Broods twee pop formula hitting the listener square in the eyes with memorable effect. The album also boasts collaborations with Tove Lo and our own Lorde on the track Heartlines.
Conscious was met with generally positive reviews with one reviewer noting “Conscious bears the growing pains of a band seeking arena-size additions to the set.” It debuted at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on the New Zealand and Australian album charts. In the US, the album charted lower than Evergreen on the Billboard 200 at 52 but reached career highs on the Rock and Alternative charts.
“Yeah it’s good. Aussie and New Zealand are really good.” He tells. “Aussie have taken it and run with it a lot more than the first album and it’s quite nice to have that support there. Over here in The US it’s been really good it’s just lot slower, it will take a lot longer to build up.
“Europe we’re still trying to crack that egg so we’ll hopefully head over there in the next six months and tour around a bit and play to these people that have been waiting three years to see us play live – should be fun.”
Speaking of which, the group is set to return here soon with concerts over the New Year with Electric Coastline with Kings and Theia, plus a couple of free acoustic gigs thrown in for good measure.
“Yeah we’re coming back to NZ for a couple of weeks for Christmas then after that we’re doing The Falls Tour over New Years for those festivals in Australia, and then some Kiwi shows.”
Anyway, let’s get back to the start of the interview. What’s with L.A.F?
“Loose as fuck.” Nott says nailing it. “It was the working title, then we tried to change it, but then we thought “no fuck it, L.A.F”.
“You’ll see it on the Air NZ quiz next time you’re on there.” (laughter)