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Arts Reviews

Posted 18 Aug 2015 @ 4:44pm

★★★

 

Neil Young started work on his debut feature film, Human Highway in 1978   Four years and, reportedly, a few million dollars later, the film was finally released, just in time to take advantage of the VCR market that it linger on the home video shop shelf for the benefit of Neil Young obsessives and cult movie fans. 
 
The story, as much as a narrative exists,...

Posted 18 Aug 2015 @ 4:44pm

★★★

 

Paul Cox is a perennial favourite of the Melbourne International Film Festival. His 1979 feature Kostas was the first Australian film to open the festival. The auteur's 47th feature fittingly opens the 64th MIFF. Force Of Destiny is his most personal and intimate film to date as it draws upon his own experiences while undergoing a life saving liver transplant a few years...

Posted 18 Aug 2015 @ 4:43pm

★★★★

 

The films of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, etc) are strange, off-beat, enigmatic, unsettling, confronting, and often hard to fathom, and have divided audiences. The Lobster, his first English language feature film, is no exception. It won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, but like a lot of previous such winners it is a film that lacks broad...

Posted 11 Aug 2015 @ 5:01pm

★★★★

 

What links the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl and a repetitive tapping noise on shortwave radio known as the ‘Russian Woodpecker’? Is it conceivable that the 1986 disaster was a distraction to cover up the failure of a Soviet attempt to jam Western communication systems? Lovers of conspiracy theories will lap up the bringing together of two seemingly unrelated incidents in...

Posted 11 Aug 2015 @ 5:00pm

★★★★

 

Originally a stage play that has toured around the world, Lally Katz's film adaptation of Stories I Want to Tell You in Person is as charming and quirky as Katz herself.
 
This is a story about Katz and what led to her writing this show. After coming to the realisation that if she has love, she may not be able to write well, Lally makes a deal with her...

Posted 11 Aug 2015 @ 5:00pm

★★★★☆

 

Fascinated by rugby and its colossal significance within the hearts and minds of New Zealanders, filmmakers Christopher Pryor and Miriam Smith had the basis for a new documentary - the follow-up to How Far Is Heaven, released in 2012. But where would they shoot it? Who would they follow? And what story were they going to tell? The humble north-island town of Reporoa would...

Posted 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:34pm

★★★★☆

 

Long before John Belushi imitated a burst pimple in National Lampoon’s Animal House, or Chevy Chase tied his deceased in-law to the roof of the family car in National Lampoon’s Vacation, there was the National Lampoon, a satirical magazine formed by a group of Harvard graduates in the late 1960s.
 
National Lampoon would go on to begat a nationally syndicated...

Posted 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:30pm

★★★☆

 

Fans of Guy Maddin will enjoy bathing in this extended (and extended some more) love letter to early cinema. Prepare for a bunch of basically unconnected but somehow mixed together stories featuring performers like Charlotte Rampling and Udo Kier, all using early cinema techniques, pulled off with a lot of modern post-production. A submarine crew find themselves trapped at...

Posted 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:28pm

★★★★

 

While it shares much in common with the punk scenes in other communities in the United States and around the world, the punk scene coming out of Washington, District of Columbia, was arguably unique both for its sociological backdrop, and the significance of its impression on the dominant rock’n’roll culture.
 
Washington DC’s status as the home of the United...

Posted 7 Aug 2015 @ 12:25pm

★★★ 

 

At the peak of their powers, Men At Work were practically inescapable. At one time, “non-Men-at-Work days” were enforced on American radio, so ubiquitous were their hits. With a Grammy for Best New Artist in hand, frontman Colin Hay was on top of the world. But it ultimately proved but one chapter of an engrossing story. Music documentary Waiting For My Real Life not only...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:36pm

★★★☆ 

 

An intimate character-study, Actress follows Brandy Burre, best known for her recurring character on The Wire, Theresa D’Agostino, as she tries to return to the profession after a seven year absence. She gave up acting to raise two children with her partner in small-town New York state, and the film explores the fragility of her latest performance – that of a stay-at-home...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:35pm

★★★☆ 

 

Of all the Beat writers, William S Burroughs is perhaps the most complex.  Born into a successful middle class family, Burroughs’ life was as volatile as his literary output was colourful.  Burroughs’ 1959 novel Naked Lunch is regarded as one of the defining books of the Beat period: replete with fantastic and gruesome imagery, and barely held together by a confusing...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:34pm

★★★☆ 

 

"Won't somebody please think of the children?" is the hysterical of The Simpsons’ Helen Lovejoy. It’s a sentiment echoed by those who object to same-sex parenting – how will the children be affected? The obvious answer, as revealed by the Australian crowd-sourced documentary Gayby Baby, is that same-sex parenting will have the same hurdles and triumphs experienced by any...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:33pm

★★★★

 

Job-hunting is nobody’s idea of a good time. It might seem like rather dour subject matter for a film, but it’s deftly handled in Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard's observational documentary, Rules Of The Game. This tender and insightful film centres its (in)action at a branch of Ingeus, an employment consultancy firm in northern France. Here, disenfranchised youth are...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:31pm

★★★★☆ 

 

For those that don't know, there aren't a lot of things in this world that are better than witnessing fan joy. I mean that moment when an audience is brought to its feet by the sheer awesomeness of a well-executed labour of love. That's what Chris, Eric, and, in the corner, Jayson, felt about Raiders of the Lost Ark. This film spoke directly to their 11-year-old selves,...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:29pm

★★★★

 

From murderous narratives to fatalistic musings, the discourse of rock’n’roll is littered with images of death and dying.  But when Wilko Johnson, founding member of legendary UK rhythm and blues band Dr Feelgood, and latter day member of Ian Dury’s Blockheads, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it brought with it a wave of awareness and, Johnson suggests without a...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:16pm

★★☆

 

Working with archetypal characters, and particularly those with extensive back catalogues, certainly has its pitfalls. Living up to the legacy of such immortal characters can be a great burden, and it is one that Mr. Holmes, as both a film and a man, struggles to carry. Decades after retiring to the countryside, celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) decides to...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 3:15pm

★☆

 

Science fiction has one clear and present danger – it puts ideas first and foremost. What great science fiction does is takes high concepts and explores the ramifications of our relationship with them, be they focused on technology, discovery, or the universe we are yet to understand. Bad science fiction uses said high concepts to lure intelligent audiences into watching...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 2:55pm

★★★★

 

Elbow Room’s We Get It, a timely and engaging finish to the 2015 MTC NEON festival, is a show that takes on the rampant sexism in the entertainment industry and rips it to bits.  
 
Set in the world of reality TV, we meet the final five contestants in a show who are named after the women performing the roles (Tamiah Bantum, Amy Ingram, Kasia Kaczmarek, Maurial...

Posted 22 Jul 2015 @ 2:48pm

★★★★☆

 

It seems superfluous to use a star rating system to assess a David Bowie exhibition. Over the past five decades, consensus has declared Bowie’s career work sits at the zenith of popular art. In light of this, it was more a matter of how good David Bowie is would be.
 
Compiled by London’s V&A museum, who were given unlimited access to Bowie’s personal...

Posted 13 Jul 2015 @ 5:48pm

★★★★

 

The zompocalyptic world of Plague, directed by Kosta Ouzas and Nick Kozakis, is a grim one indeed, where humans will violently turn on each other just as readily as the zombie hordes pursuing them – all in the name of survival. Following the story of Evie (played by Melbourne actress Tegan Crowley), the film dives headlong into its exploration of violence born from...

Posted 13 Jul 2015 @ 5:22pm

★★★☆

 

A partisan crowd greeted Joe Lui like a rock star as he stepped onto the stage at Theatre Works in St Kilda, wearing a brightly coloured Chinese robe and began to perform his deeply personal and candid one man production Letters Home.
 
Lui is an exile from his native Singapore, branded a criminal because of his refusal seven years ago to return home for...

Posted 13 Jul 2015 @ 5:21pm

★★★★

 

The premise of Saltwater almost read like a recipe for awkwardness, disappointment or disaster. Held at Theatre Works, this wasn’t a conventional night at the theatre. There was no stage-audience divide. In fact, the theatre’s entire seated section was curtained off. Instead, we followed the hallway straight onto the stage. Upon arriving there, we were greeted by our host...

Posted 7 Jul 2015 @ 3:14pm

★★★☆

 

Circus Oz have returned to Melbourne for a second season of their hit show, But Wait... There’s More: an imaginative mish-mash of acrobatics, cabaret and physical comedy.
 
Heralded as an iconic company, Circus Oz delivered exquisite wall-to-wall action. Lilikoi Kaos put an extreme spin on hula-hooping, while Kyle Rafferty and April Dawson teamed up and managed...

Posted 7 Jul 2015 @ 3:12pm

★★★★☆

 

The tragic life of British soul queen Amy Winehouse, who died from alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27, is the subject of a new documentary by BAFTA-winning Senna director Asif Kapadia and commissioned by Universal Music. Kapadia grew up in the same North London suburb of Camden where Winehouse lived, and felt compelled to tell the story behind the gifted artist...

Posted 7 Jul 2015 @ 3:11pm

★★★★☆

 

SHIT, show number four of the 2015 MTC NEON season, is a bleak and brilliant play that exposes a side to women that society doesn’t want to know about. Focusing on the lives of Billy, Sam and Bobby (Nicci Wilks, Peta Brady and Sarah Ward), this show exposes the audience to these incredibly ugly women. They are not nice, they are not polite and they are most definitely...

Posted 23 Jun 2015 @ 2:16pm

★★☆

 

Dirty Pretty Theatre’s new offering The Lonely Wolf (or an incomplete guide for the unadvanced soul), written and directed by Gary Abrahams for the 2015 MTC NEON program, is a piece that could have had promise but ultimately doesn’t quite seem to know what it wants to say to the audience.
 
Inspired by the Herman Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf and the writings of...

Posted 23 Jun 2015 @ 2:16pm

★★★

 

Melbourne Theatre Company’s latest offering, Simon Stephen’s Birdland, is the story of an out-of-control rock star which, unfortunately, struggles to make an emotional impact.
 
Set at the end of a world tour, the play focuses on Paul (Mark Leonard Winter), the aforementioned rock star whose fame and fortune is at an all-time high. With a disregard for all those...

Posted 16 Jun 2015 @ 5:13pm

★★★★

 

MTC faced a few awkward challenges before adapting Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 comedy spy thriller into theatre. Somehow capture the magnitude and terror of the iconic cropduster and Mount Rushmore scenes onstage. Don’t try emulating Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint – you can’t. But also don’t stray from them. You get the picture. It’s little wonder negotiations with Warners...

Posted 1 Jun 2015 @ 6:55pm

★★☆

 

In the pursuit of truth and justice, Woman In Gold fails to deliver where so many others have torn out our hearts and broken our tear ducts. It feels as though director Simon Curtis was shooting for the determination and righteousness of such classics as To Kill A Mockingbird, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and A Time To Kill, but was wrangled back by a Hollywood safety net....

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