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Arts Reviews

Posted 23 Jul 2013 @ 12:19pm

Breathing new, expensive life into now-retro Japanese mecha films, Guillermo del Toro’s eighth directorial venture Pacific Rim squeezes every last drop of new CGI technology into a sci-fi doomsday spectacle – an overwhelming visual escapade unfortunately prioritising everything else to the bottom of the pile. With better acting seen in Mass Effect 3, Pacific Rim would be better off as a full-...

Posted 23 Jul 2013 @ 12:00pm

You saw Wolf Creek and barely batted an eyelid. You thought Silence Of The Lambs was a quaint tale about an adventurous couturier that wanted to try working with skin. So, when you heard about The Conjuring – the R-rated ‘scariest film of 2013’ – the idea that it could raise even one hair on your body was, well, laughable. But it’s time you dropped the bravado, because I’m telling you this...

Posted 23 Jul 2013 @ 9:58am

Imagine Seth Rogen trying to pull off a satirical take on Tarantino or Rodriguez. Now imagine him trying to do that with an added dose of obscenity, excessive alcohol, a lot of drugs and a Bible. Yes, a Bible.

 

 

The product? Evan Goldberg-directed This Is The End. The film’s a very gory, violently crass, very humourous story of an apocalypse-struck Los Angeles that will...

Posted 16 Jul 2013 @ 1:52pm

Say Hello First, presented by Sydney Independent Theatre Company and Cupboard Love, is based on 20 interviews collected over the period of one year. Exploring the rules of modern relationships, the play’s interview subjects are the past boyfriends of 24-year-old protagonist Dani (Danielle Maas).

 

The play opens with rapid recreations of these love interrogations by leads Dani...

Posted 16 Jul 2013 @ 1:44pm

If Before Sunrise was a paean to romance, first love and staying up all night exploring a foreign city with a hot piece of strange, and Before Sunset seethed with the sexual tension of reconnecting with your first love, then Before Midnight is when the petty realities of life and relationships kick in.

 

Slacker cinema icon Richard Linklater’s third film in the lifelong story of...

Posted 16 Jul 2013 @ 1:38pm

The Art Gallery of New South Wales’ main exhibition galleries have been transformed into a space for enchanted looking. Current blockbuster Sydney Moderns sees iconic Modernist works hung alongside scenes created by lesser-known names with prints, drawings and photographs leading the viewer into the juncture between high art and commercial creativity that shaped our city in the ’20s and ’30s...

Posted 10 Jul 2013 @ 3:16pm

The Gaza City alleyway is packed with men. Some are yelling, others have their hands in the air. In the foreground of the photo are two children (Suhaib Hijazi and elder brother Muhammad), aged two and nearly four. Their lifeless bodies are wrapped in white sheets, their small faces covered in dirt and dust, their eyes closed. The children were killed when their house was attacked by an...

Posted 10 Jul 2013 @ 2:33pm

Viggo Mortensen – what a freakin’ Renaissance Man. Not just a musician, poet, painter, actor and Aragorn son of Arathorn, he also speaks perfect Argentine Spanish (the legacy of a childhood spent in Argentina), as he proves in Todos Tenemos un Plan (Everybody Has a Plan).

 

Argentinean director Ana Piterbarg brings an original screenplay and Mortensen brings his trademark...

Posted 9 Jul 2013 @ 12:57pm

Imagine drinking two litres of red cordial, hanging upside down and watching the most fantastical opera you’ve ever seen. That’s a bit like watching The River Eats – awe-inspiring yet somewhat uncomfortable.

 

The River Eats is the latest offering from multi-disciplinary artist, Justin Shoulder. Through one hour of heart-stopping solo performance, Shoulder takes the audience on a...

Posted 3 Jul 2013 @ 10:35am

Seventeen-year-old Chloe (Ava Torch) is starting again – another small town, another new school, another man in her white trash mother’s life.

 

Although initially presenting a façade of pure bravado, Chloe’s inability to read and her unstable home life soon reveal her vulnerability. Chris (Yalin Ozucelik) has his own problems as he struggles to satisfy his overbearing father....

Posted 3 Jul 2013 @ 10:29am

I remember coming out of the fairly woeful swords-and-sandals-meets-special-effects bonanza Immortals and thinking ‘Henry Cavill as a leading man? It’ll never work.’ I eat my hat. Many producers and directors eat their hat this month as Cavill, who has received far more knockbacks in his career thus far than roles, busts into the box office stratosphere as the titular Man of Steel. 

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Posted 26 Jun 2013 @ 9:59am

Like the scanning of its celestial-viewing namesake, Catriona McKenzie’s directorial debut Satellite Boy is a touch slow. But luckily for us, what it explores is just as beautiful.

 

The film follows the charming story of young aboriginal lad Pete (Cameron Wallaby) who journeys from the vast outback of The Kimberleys to the city with best mate Kalmain (Joseph Pedley). Satellite...

Posted 26 Jun 2013 @ 9:51am

French director François Ozon’s 13th feature-length film In The House pays tribute to the timeless appeal of the thriller genre. Set in the intimate confines of middle-class French suburbia, the film is based on Juan Mayorga’s play The Boy In The Last Row, and shows the once enfant terrible of French cinema in a more mature repose. 

 

Driving the film’s suspense and narrative...

Posted 26 Jun 2013 @ 9:44am

Angels in America (Part One: Millennium; Part Two: Perestroika) is the most engrossing, inspiring, epic piece of theatre you’re likely to catch this year. If you can afford it, go see it. If you need more convincing, keep reading.

 

Tony Kushner’s 1993 play won that year’s Pulitzer (and ten-plus other awards) and has entered the theatrical canon as one of the greatest plays of...

Posted 18 Jun 2013 @ 4:01pm

Bell Shakespeare’s mission seems to have changed over the years. In the days when you’d see Romeo and Juliet with your classmates and snobbishly roll your eyes at the people who snickered when they kissed, Bell was sticking to works by the man himself.

 

These days, the company’s desire to bring epic classics a new life reaches further than the plays of the Bard of...

Posted 18 Jun 2013 @ 3:57pm

Has it ever occurred to you that running a marathon while standing in the same spot is slightly absurd? It’s only as absurd as paying to pick up a heavy object and put it down again … Then pick it up again … and put it down again.  If you’re not training for Olympic gold then why do so many of us put ourselves through it?

 

Circuit currently showing at the Old Fitzroy Theatre is...

Posted 18 Jun 2013 @ 3:51pm

"I feel like I've just been trapped in a vagina for two hours." After an erotically-charged mindfuck of a performance, audience members exhaled in the Sydney Theatre lobby, laughing off the sexual tension of The Maids like an awkward group of teenage friends who’ve just watched a porno together for funsies. 

 

Dirty and disturbing, the complex new adaptation from Sydney Theatre...

Posted 12 Jun 2013 @ 1:50pm

Julian Assange. Friend or foe? Some will look at you doe eyed and speak with almost cult-like conviction about a modern day Robin Hood who steals secrets from the empowered and empowers the masses with truth. Others will spit his name alongside allegations of inhumane behaviour and rape. But what is the truth of Julian Assange? Who is this white haired mousey-looking man so frequently...

Posted 12 Jun 2013 @ 1:46pm

All the roads lead to this. Every suburban street, crooked lane, bustling highway and every goddamn bypass ultimately lead to Vin Diesel driving a car through the flaming nose of a cargo plane. Four-time Furious director, Justin Lin, wins by an inch and a mile in the sixth installment of the Fast & Furious.

 

Fast & Furious has evolved into its own genre – auto-heavy, hip...

Posted 5 Jun 2013 @ 1:13pm

You love a good shitty rom-com and you know it.

 

You’ve voluntarily waded through Meg Ryan’s nose-wrinkling in You’ve Got Mail. You’ve taken midnight sessions of Head Over Heels and still defend Freddie Prinze Jnr’s perfect, perfect face. And you’ve seen The Holiday. You have. If you’ve survived these, know how undeniably repugnant they truly are and have gone back for seconds,...

Posted 4 Jun 2013 @ 6:03pm

The Hangover Part III – one word: disappointing. Although a mildly satisfying final to director Todd Phillips’ trilogy, the film’s unimaginative linear narrative and stale blokey humour makes it all but a lacklustre regurgitation of expired gags from ‘over it’ party animals. 

 

What started with a bang – Phillips’ Part I was a worthy surprise hit in 2009 with its comedic smarts...

Posted 4 Jun 2013 @ 5:57pm

There was a modest brilliance to Gatsby in Fitzgerald’s novel – that’s why he was Great.

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel owns a subtlety that shouldn’t be compromised by adaptation. The delicacy of language in and thematic poise of The Great Gatsby endows Fitzgerald’s work with a profound cultural significance, the value of which audiences the world over has understood...

Posted 30 May 2013 @ 9:55am

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a film adaptation of the Booker Prize shortlisted novel of the same name. 

 

Directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, Amelia), the film centres on a conversation between reporter and undercover CIA agent Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber) and Pakistani university professor Changez (Riz Ahmed) who is a suspect in the disappearance of an...

Posted 30 May 2013 @ 9:50am

The heart, “the most insolent muscle of the whole anatomy”, proves an impossible beast to tame in Portuguese director Miguel Gomes’ tale of love lost, Tabu.

 

Winner of the Silver Bear at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival last year, Tabu is a love story told in two parts, revitalising every trick in the early Western cinema book.

 

Bouncing from a dull...

Posted 23 May 2013 @ 5:23pm

Samsara contains no words, no actors, no narrative.

 

Shot over the course of five years, visiting twenty five countries sitting on five continents, Baraka director Ron Fricke offers up a visually magnificent documentary to make Attenborough weep, washed down with a big fat dose of perspective.

 

A stunning, access-all-areas pass to our beautiful, freaky planet,...

Posted 21 May 2013 @ 1:02pm

Where Blue Valentine was epic in its intimacy, turning a macro lens on one relationship from go to woe, Derek Cianfrance’s follow up is epic in perspective, spanning two generations of two families and their intertwined fates, with grand themes of sons and fathers, loss and forgiveness. And it’s as ambitious in style as it is in content, compounding the eerie gothic horror of David Lynch with...

Posted 16 May 2013 @ 11:31am

Have you ever sat through a dinner party with perfectly pleasant but perfectly dull guests? That’s like sitting through Haute Cuisine. It’s not offensive, but you secretly wish you’d drunk a bit more wine before you arrived.

 

Haute Cuisine tells the story of Hortense Laborie (Catherine Frot), a Périgord local renowned for her exemplary yet simple French cooking. Unexpectedly...

Posted 16 May 2013 @ 10:49am

For all its marketing collateral, Snitch appears to be your token action flick; Rock-hard frontman, guns-a-blazing to the cries of Sons-In-Distress. But ignore that burning semi-trailer on the poster – this film, created by a former stuntman, offers a surprisingly well-made, well-acted and well-written look into the US federal sentencing system. And it stars Dwayne Johnson. Win.

 

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Posted 16 May 2013 @ 10:38am

Van Badham’s latest The Bull, The Moon And The Coronet Of Stars starts with the actors strolling onto the set, engaging in a moment of light banter and launching into 75 minutes of intimate, comical and lyrical storytelling. The characters tell us their story in a fun, conversational tone that manages to drop in and out of poetry and chat almost flawlessly. 

 

The play is a...

Posted 14 May 2013 @ 7:18pm

The independent scene in Sydney has been a bit rattled lately. With important venues like B Sharp and the Old Fitz falling by the way side, there’s been a sense of fear about where future artists would present their shows. But where there are artists desperate to make work, it is inevitable that venues will emerge for them to fill and the Old 505 Theatre, with its handy three minutes from...

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