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Arts Reviews

Posted 9 Feb 2016 @ 12:49pm

★★★★

 

Certain productions come with built-in difficulties. Just ask anyone who has ever faced the wrath of Samuel Beckett’s estate, or staged Sarah Kane’s Cleansed. While The Secret River is burdened with neither rigid fidelity to text or extravagant stage directions, its 2013 debut saw the production heralded as one of the most popular and engrossing plays in recent memory....

Posted 9 Feb 2016 @ 12:28pm

★★★★☆

 

Brooklyn is a familiar immigrant story, one that many families will know versions of as their own – but its sense of nostalgia is deftly offset with humour, charm and emotional intelligence. 

 

Set between the small Irish town of Enniscorthy and New York, it follows a young woman, Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), as she goes “away to America”. Once there, she...

Posted 2 Feb 2016 @ 11:53am

★★★

 

If you believe “drama changes lives”, and find yourself using phrases like “Coffee, coffee, coffee before we teachy, teachy!” or “It’s G time, not free time!”, then The Mr. G Summer Heights High Singalong was made for you.

 

Almost ten years on from the series premiere of Summer Heights High, this award-winning mockumentary about Australian high school life...

Posted 2 Feb 2016 @ 11:43am

★★☆

 

Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel Room has the kind of premise that comes as a gift to filmmakers, so this film adaptation from Lenny Abrahamson (Frank) carries with it a lot of promise. 

 

The story of a young woman, Joy (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who together break free from years of captivity in a suburban basement, has two rich...

Posted 27 Jan 2016 @ 10:09am

★★★★★

 

How do you review a show where the audience takes an oath of silence? Standing with the rest of the crowd, I held my hand high and promised not to tell; not to let what was said leave the room.

 

Four people over 65 had entered the stage from the stalls and sat at a table, press conference-style, with a (much younger) host placed to their left. He began to...

Posted 27 Jan 2016 @ 10:00am

★★★★

 

Gareth Davies and Charlie Garber return to the Old Fitz and face the post-apocalypse in Masterclass 2: Flames Of The Forge.

 

Things go disastrously awry when Gareth attempts to power an entire city’s energy grid via the greatness of his acting and ends up wiping out every living thing on the planet. Lonely, he decides to revive his greatest character,...

Posted 20 Jan 2016 @ 2:52pm

★★★★

 

Most critics view ‘authenticity’ as a good thing in art, whatever it is that word really means in such a subjective context. Well, Jimmy Carr is a fraud, and that’s his saving grace. 

 

If this dapper yet dirty Englishman’s stand-up were authentic – if he were really telling the truth about his life and leering habits in all these jokes – he’d have been...

Posted 19 Jan 2016 @ 1:21pm

 

The era of the young adult has hit Hollywood with a vengeance, and if it’s turned pages at bookstores, you can guarantee it’s had producers flicking through their chequebooks.

 

It hasn’t had them engaging in any kind of quality control, however, which is why The 5th Wave is 2016’s first contender for the wooden spoon award.

 

Aliens have arrived,...

Posted 19 Jan 2016 @ 1:13pm

★★★★

 

The Rabbits is an Australian opera adapted from a picture book that is anything but child’s play. 

 

The original story was written by John Marsden, who penned the Tomorrow series, and was illustrated by Shaun Tan (The Lost Thing). It’s an allegorical tale that examines the colonisation of Australia with the titular characters playing the invading British...

Posted 19 Jan 2016 @ 1:02pm

★★★☆

 

Two works by Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker are being performed at this year’s Sydney Festival. 

 

The Opera House is hosting Fase, the work that catapulted De Keersmaeker into the big league in 1982 when she was just 22. Fase established the young dancer’s interest in looping, repetitive organisations of movement set to contemporary...

Posted 19 Jan 2016 @ 12:39pm

★★★★

 

Spotlight is a biodrama that chronicles the The Boston Globe’s investigation into the cover-up of child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church in the early 2000s. Though ‘journodramas’ aren’t very common these days, Spotlight hits every mark and proves that the potential of the genre remains underutilised, not undiminished.

 

A large part of this is due to the...

Posted 18 Jan 2016 @ 11:01am

★★★★☆

 

Jazz drummer and composer Antonio Sánchez first met the lauded film director Alejandro González Iñárritu at an afterparty following a marathon concert event. Sánchez didn’t know it at the time, but that meeting was a fortuitous foundation for his Sydney Festival performance tonight: a two-hour tour de force of improvised drumming, played in conjunction with a screening of...

Posted 12 Jan 2016 @ 3:19pm

★★★★☆

 

Never has there been a deeper lover of cinema than Quentin Tarantino. I’m not talking the kind of purist who simply favours film stock over digital, but the kind who releases his latest (in select cinemas) in the extinct 70mm Panavision format. With overture and intermission intact.

 

Seeing the 70mm edition with program in hand is the definitive experience...

Posted 12 Jan 2016 @ 3:04pm

★★★

 

What’s in a name? Misery and suffering, if you’re the titular protagonist of Georg Büchner’s drama, unfinished at the time of his death. For those here to witness the woes of Woyzeck, however, names can be deceiving – this is not Robert Wilson’s work but a remounting by Hamburg’s Thalia Theatre that retains moments of brilliance in an otherwise piecemeal show.

 ...

Posted 12 Jan 2016 @ 2:32pm

★★★☆

 

Wandering into a Sydney Town Hall garlanded with cardboard boxes and the oddly familiar detritus of somebody else’s life is a strange experience to say the least. Encouraged to gingerly pick through boxes and drawers, pondering over the hastily-scrawled labels – this box for clothes never worn but moved across oceans, this for kisses from past lovers – makes for a rather...

Posted 12 Jan 2016 @ 2:22pm

★★★

 

Having already generated a lot of anticipation and awards buzz, Todd Haynes’ latest film Carol is at last on Australian screens. 

 

Starring Aussie film and theatre darling (and the latest recipient of the Longford Lyell AACTA Award) Cate Blanchett, the cast list guarantees stellar acting, particularly as Blanchett is partnered with Rooney Mara, who has become...

Posted 6 Jan 2016 @ 4:13pm

★★★☆

 

For fans of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, the wait for a new film following their triumphant Golden Globes appearances has been a long one. Sisters sees the comedy duo team up with director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) and former Saturday Night Live collaborator Paula Pell, who wrote the screenplay.

 

Subverting the roles they played in 2008’s Baby Mama, Fey and...

Posted 18 Dec 2015 @ 9:54am

★★★☆

 

Celebrating the much-loved musical’s 50th anniversary, the London Palladium production of The Sound Of Music enters the Sydney stage with pomp and panache, young and old dressed to the nines and sparkling wine flowing like water.

 

As the lights dim, the orchestra opens to an operatic troupe of nuns, led by the glorious and indescribable register of...

Posted 18 Dec 2015 @ 9:25am

★★★★

 

On the odd occasion, you come across a film that seems like it may, in fact, be genuinely masterful, but there’s a nagging sense that maybe, just maybe, the film doesn’t floor you because it wasn’t made for you. 

 

That’s the lingering sense that Youth leaves, a film in which the craft is undeniable but the focal points for the story limit the target market...

Posted 17 Dec 2015 @ 12:00am

★★★

 

It’s surprising to see just how hard Suffragette has kicked the hornet’s nest, particularly as it has seemingly perturbed more feminists than it has patriarchal supporters. Regardless, it’s a significant step forward in the representation of women’s stories as mainstream film, and well worth seeing for its emotive impact.

 

Bethnal Green laundry worker Maud (...

Posted 4 Dec 2015 @ 10:43am

★★★★☆

 

Your average cinemagoer has a keen sense for injustice. Normally, the desire is to see evildoers go down in flames for their crimes, but when a story is grounded in reality, the outcomes are never so straightforward.

 

Truth is a tale perfectly pitched to raise your righteous fury, superbly acted and competently scripted with a tense, lingering political...

Posted 2 Dec 2015 @ 6:03pm

★★★

 

Ron Howard likes his films with emotions writ large, speeches inspirational, and men as manly as possible.

 

Drenched as much in testosterone as in brine, his latest takes lofty literary inspirations and reduces them to little more than machismo and soaring strings. As the title implies, however, there is something more potent hidden within this hulking beast’...

Posted 25 Nov 2015 @ 9:56am

★★★

 

Every boxing movie, with the exception of Raging Bull, is roughly the same. Some are better, some are Southpaw. The new installation in the Rocky franchise, Creed, is doubtlessly better than the latter, but offers little more than expected.

 

Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is a puncher of...

Posted 20 Nov 2015 @ 5:35pm

★★★

 

Spicks And Specks went on its merry way four years ago now, and little has filled the void, save for its direct competitor, RocKwiz. Now, the formula has been lovingly hijacked by triple j presenter Kyran Wheatley and comedian Rhys Nicholson to create a live comedy panel podcast recording with pointless points.

 

It’s a shaky ugly duckling at the moment, but...

Posted 19 Nov 2015 @ 3:07pm

★★★

 

The avant-garde exists to challenge us. So in one sense, An Index Of Metals is an enormously successful piece. In another sense, it’s straight up one of the goddamn weirdest experiences you’ll have in a theatre this month. This, it seems, is how opera is to break into the world of contemporary art – by accessing its every trope.

 

Described as an ‘electric...

Posted 18 Nov 2015 @ 9:34am

★★★★☆

 

So it all comes crashing down. After four years of fighting the oppression of the Capitol – and smashing all-time box office records along the way – it’s high time for Katniss Everdeen to bring this fight to its bloody end. And unlike its predecessor, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 delivers in spades, with a finale that is brutal, bleak and completely engrossing....

Posted 17 Nov 2015 @ 12:49pm

★★★

 

Ah, biopics – the standard rollout for the awards season. Rarely, though, are they so openly and deeply critical of their subject. Whether or not the wound still stings, screenwriter John Hodge and director Stephen Frears take a scalpel to the life and career of Lance Armstrong, with satisfying if limited results.

 

American cyclist Armstrong (Ben Foster)...

Posted 17 Nov 2015 @ 10:58am

★★★★★

 

Orlando is biography. And yet, it’s not the life of one specific human being that is the heart of this story, but the soul of all – infinite and defiant to the boundaries of time and gender – that breathes and breaks throughout the play.

 

Written by Virginia Woolf as a novel but astutely adapted for the stage by Sarah Ruhl, Orlando walks abstractly in the...

Posted 13 Nov 2015 @ 9:00am

★★★★

 

Rule of thumb: every great foreign film eventually gets an American remake. Annoying and superfluous as they tend to be, they sometimes find synergy with the right creatives, and wonderful things happen.

 

Take the 2009 Argentinian Oscar winner The Secret In Their Eyes, add a skilled adaptation screenwriter (Billy Ray) and three Oscar favourites for the cast...

Posted 11 Nov 2015 @ 6:10pm

What's On

 

THE ART OF THE BRICK: DC COMICS

Lego and superheroes are often like bread and butter to the video game world, so you should be very excited at the prospect of the two combining for a seriously unique proposition. Setting up shop inside the Powerhouse Museum, The Art Of The Brick...

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