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Arts Reviews

Posted 17 May 2016 @ 12:07pm

★★★☆

 

The Events is an Australian incarnation of David Greig’s award-winning play that opened at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013. 

 

Propelled by the acts of the lone Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik in 2011, Greig references elements of his story: the shootings, his personal manifesto, his racist anti-Muslim rantings and references to Viking...

Posted 17 May 2016 @ 11:42am

★★★★

 

Griffin Theatre Company’s As We Forgive, co-presented by Tasmania Performs, traverses the complex terrain of morality.

 

It is the work of playwright Tom Holloway, a name that seems to be in constant earshot on the Australian theatre scene. Robert Jarman takes the stage as thee separate characters, each concerned with an emotional truth on the one hand, and “...

Posted 9 May 2016 @ 6:15pm

★★★☆

 

Will kids like The Angry Birds Movie? It’s a cartoon that’s injected with toilet humour and slapstick comedy. Of course they will. But what about us adults?

 

 

Warning: this review is not (entirely) suitable for children.

 

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I had genuine concerns going into this thing. Video game movies are rarely any good outside the...

Posted 6 May 2016 @ 4:26pm

★★★★☆

 

Even though Queen are not onstage tonight, their spirit is, and it’s ready to slay.

 

Penned by Ben Elton in 2001 in collaboration with Queen, We Will Rock You takes the band’s most legendary tracks and imbues them deep into its heart, leaving before us a performance of champions. Like the band, it’s spirited, rebellious and accessible in the face of...

Posted 2 May 2016 @ 4:43pm

★★★★

 

Tom Gleeson is surely run off his feet these days. Tonight’s show as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival is performed in front of a sell-out crowd at the Enmore Theatre as he concludes his Great national tour. A career spanning almost three decades across stand-up, TV, radio and print speaks to a versatile performer who got his start at Sydney University collaborating with...

Posted 26 Apr 2016 @ 3:53pm

★★★☆

 

The Man Who Knew Infinity is at times so familiar, yet so removed from any biography that has come before it. 

 

It follows in the footsteps of A Beautiful Mind and The Imitation Game, bearing the marks of the mathematical genius bio genre with its arrogantly brilliant protagonist. However, it strays from the lot with its unique formula of an underdog migrant...

Posted 26 Apr 2016 @ 1:44pm

★★★★★

 

While there has never been anything inherently bad about the stand-up of Felicity Ward, it’s safe to say she is a thousand times the comic she was even five years ago. Broader strokes and intentionally hammed-up stories have been refined and worked into material that is at once all too real and all too funny on account of the former. 

 

Ward is sharp,...

Posted 26 Apr 2016 @ 12:38pm

★★★★★

 

The cathedral-like halls of Redfern’s Carriageworks are a blessing and a curse to prospective narrative theatremakers. How could you possibly create an intimate experience in so enormous a space without criminally underusing it?

 

If you’re struggling with that question, you may want to ask the team behind Lake Disappointment, as they have what may well be...

Posted 26 Apr 2016 @ 12:29pm

★★★☆

 

He may be one of the most respected and hardest-working American comics active today, but Kyle Kinane is a realist – some would say a harsh one at that – about his place in the world. 

 

You might know him as the voice of Comedy Central (“Up next, an all-new Workaholics!”) or as an exceptional storyteller (as we are treated to several times tonight), but...

Posted 26 Apr 2016 @ 12:09pm

★★★★

 

We hear Paul Foot before we see him. Quite a long time before we see him, actually, his Comedy Store show opening with a drawn-out, off-stage spoken intro. It’s a neat subversion of the standard start to a comedy show, and things only get weirder.

 

After eventually revealing himself – he was behind a door right next to the stage all along – Foot springs into...

Posted 18 Apr 2016 @ 4:14pm

★★★

 

In an indie theatre version of musical chairs, the Old 505 Theatre has set up shop at 5 Eliza Street, Newtown. 

 

Warming up the space is The Best Brothers, written by Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor and directed by Gareth Boylan. The play teases out the comedy of an absurd tragedy, excavating family tensions and rivalries along the way.

 

...

Posted 11 Apr 2016 @ 8:48pm

★★

 

We need to talk about Australian men. It’s a conversation we’ve undoubtedly been avoiding, and one at the foundation of Patricia Cornelius’ Savages. But with its predisposition towards well-trodden masculine archetypes and lack of narrative catharsis, this is not the play for such a vital discussion.

 

Four blue-collar blokes set out on the trip of a lifetime,...

Posted 11 Apr 2016 @ 8:41pm

★★★☆  

 

John (Alfie Gledhill) and Peter (Anthony Gooley) are brothers preparing for Peter’s upcoming wedding. As they get ready for the big buck’s weekend, John recalls the death of their third brother Michael (Jack Finsterer), who died when they were teens.

 

Both witnesses to the event, as John and Peter rehash the details it becomes apparent that their memories...

Posted 5 Apr 2016 @ 11:22am

★★★☆

 

Biting at the mention of remakes is a truly Sisyphean act: producers are, after all, investors and want products that will guarantee returns. But in the medium of film, the return for an audience member should be something new and previously unseen in the story.

 

Getting Iron Man director Jon Favreau on board was the wisest move Disney could make in mounting...

Posted 5 Apr 2016 @ 10:59am

★★★☆

 

After more than a decade, Fiddler On The Roof has returned to Sydney starring the legendary Anthony Warlow. 

 

Admittedly, I was apprehensive about director Roger Hodgman’s casting choice for Tevye. Despite being a theatre favourite, particularly in The Phantom Of The Opera, it was hard see Warlow as a Russian milkman in 1905.

 

Such...

Posted 29 Mar 2016 @ 11:47am

★☆

 

Adapting a film for the stage is not an inherently terrible idea – just look at Legally Blonde. I was indifferent to the original, but even knowing the musical version had picked up three Laurence Olivier Awards did little to assuage that sense of “Who in their right mind would do such a thing?” as we entered the theatre. Suffice to say, by the end I was entirely won over...

Posted 29 Mar 2016 @ 11:36am

★★

 

It’s the biggest superhero showdown of the year – at least until Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War is released – and while it shows progress for director Zack Snyder’s abilities, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice shows little forward momentum for the DC universe and remarkably little invention.

 

When Metropolis is destroyed during the events of Man Of Steel...

Posted 15 Mar 2016 @ 12:17pm

★★★★

 

“It’s about Chucking time that Strassman came back out,” I say to my mum as we enter the Enmore Theatre. She stares at me with mild judgement, and rightly so. Fortunately, the rock star ventriloquist we’re here to see is far funnier than I am.

 

One of David Strassman’s strengths is that each one of his shows manages to be simultaneously familiar and fresh....

Posted 15 Mar 2016 @ 12:00am

★★★★☆

 

The Witch is an evil film. It’s a haunted strip of celluloid, the kind of movie the conservative far-right is terrified will have teenagers trying to summon the devil in their garage – a sick, sadistic experience helmed by a director both disgusted by and fascinated with the human race and its frailty. It’s also a masterpiece and one of the most singularly impressive...

Posted 14 Mar 2016 @ 7:55pm

★★★★

 

A couple are sitting down to dinner. They’re having a tiff. She’s losing patience as he annoyingly asks for every detail about each dish on the menu. He’s trying to keep her happy – tonight’s the night he’s going to pop the question.

 

So far so normal. It’s a perfectly rich situation for comedy, there are some funny quips, dry lines from the waiter, good old...

Posted 14 Mar 2016 @ 7:47pm

★★★★

 

The answer to the obvious question is: no, this is not a sequel to Cloverfield. 

 

If you left that movie thinking, ‘What the hell just happened, I need explanations’, 10 Cloverfield Lane will not provide them. If you’re looking for answers, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for a neat little thriller that keeps you in a chokehold for the full hour...

Posted 14 Mar 2016 @ 5:41pm

★★★★

 

Sandi Toksvig’s 2011 play Bully Boy is not what you might expect from the UK comedian. 

 

Written in a hot rage, the play explores the hypocrisies and psychological impact of contemporary warfare. Presented by independent theatre company A Night Of Play, which formed as a vehicle to develop “issue-driven” work, this intimate performance is being staged at...

Posted 14 Mar 2016 @ 5:28pm

★★☆

 

Has it really been a decade since Sacha Baron Cohen gave us Borat Sagdiyev – the mankini-clad Kazakh journalist and inspiration for a thousand ill-advised fancy dress costumes? The comedian returns to our screens this time as protagonist Norman ‘Nobby’ Butcher in the James Bond spoof, Grimsby.

 

Nobby is your average lager-swilling football yob who lives on a...

Posted 14 Mar 2016 @ 5:22pm

★★★★

 

Ever since its announcement there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding Far Cry Primal. Can it really be a Far Cry game when you’re wielding a club? The answer is: hell yes.

 

The narrative behind the game is relatively simplistic. You play as Takkar, a Wenja tribesman from the fictional land of Oros who finds himself separated from his people...

Posted 1 Mar 2016 @ 1:42pm

★★★☆

 

Maggie Smith: what a woman. At 81, this matriarch of the big screen is not showing any sign of slowing down or settling for sub-par roles. And The Lady In The Van is no exception. It is a brash, witty and exceptionally English look at the life of Miss Shepherd, an elderly lady who squatted in a van in London’s Camden district in the 1970s and ’80s.

 

Based on...

Posted 1 Mar 2016 @ 1:20pm

★★★

 

Gods Of Egypt is possibly the most ridiculous movie I’ve seen in a long time, but goddammit, it’s a fun one. 

 

It’s The Mummy meets every buddy cop film from the ’90s meets Wild Wild West. For example, see the giant mechanical scarabs that never get explained because director Alex Proyas straight up doesn’t give a fuck.

 

Not that the plot...

Posted 24 Feb 2016 @ 11:32am

★★★★

 

To see the world through the eyes of another is surely the core of great storytelling; the sharing of experience is what binds us together as human beings, even when that experience is suffering. Though it’s his first film, László Nemes showcases an unshaken belief that this experience must not simply be distantly related, but lived up close and personal in horrific detail...

Posted 23 Feb 2016 @ 1:32pm

★★★☆

 

It’s an absurd statement to say that Joel and Ethan Coen have set the bar for themselves too high to jump, but it certainly seems the case with Hail, Caesar! – a movie filled with all the trappings of a Coen creation, but one that feels less like the sumptuous meal they normally serve and more like a puffy dessert.

 

In the midst of the 1950s’ “golden age of...

Posted 16 Feb 2016 @ 1:17pm

★★

 

At its core, Ladies Day, the new play from Alana Valentine, attempts to explore how we deal with the things we cannot deal with; how we come to terms with the unspeakable and the unthinkable. A rape serves as the fulcrum of the work, providing the moment reality itself splinters and a thousand cracked timelines spider out from that single point of contact.

 

It...

Posted 16 Feb 2016 @ 1:01pm

★★☆

 

Written by Daniel Keene and directed by Cathy Hunt, Life Without Me is a play built on fantasy realism that brings elements of existentialism, purgatory and loneliness to life.

 

The setting, like its storyline, is simple: it’s a hotel lobby complete with couch, table and reception counter, making it the perfect place for people to come, go or loiter, but not...

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