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Arts Reviews

Posted 9 Nov 2015 @ 6:37pm

★★★☆

 

Good Works could potentially be quite tough to navigate. In fact, there are moments in this Darlinghurst Theatre Company production where you feel the plot might be slipping from comprehension, thanks to overlapping scenes and quick character transitions. 

 

A strong hand is required to pull together the intricacies of Nick Enright’s script, and director Iain...

Posted 9 Nov 2015 @ 5:19pm

★★☆

 

The poster for new James Bond outing SPECTRE is of Daniel Craig in a black turtleneck against a grey background. After seeing the film, it’s understandable why they opted for such a beige promotion: this is by-the-numbers Bond, adequate but little else.

 

After the events of Skyfall, MI6 is in disarray, and a disastrous outing for Bond (Craig) in Mexico City...

Posted 3 Nov 2015 @ 11:42am

NO STARS

 

Hey kids! Wanna know about rape culture? Why not check out Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse?

 

Ben (Tye Sheridan) is a Nice Guy torn between his two best friends – Augie (Joey Morgan), a scouting enthusiast trapped in pre-pubescence, and Carter (Logan Miller), a loathsome little weed obsessed with getting laid. They’re forced to grow up just that...

Posted 3 Nov 2015 @ 11:18am

★★★☆

 

Experimental performance art often has the feel of a taster – you’re given the hints of something great, even transformative, but it’s gone all too soon. Wade Marynowsky’s technology-laden collaboration has this air to it, as it indicates both engineering precision and depth of thought, but is over as quickly as it starts.

 

Marynowsky has brought together...

Posted 3 Nov 2015 @ 10:57am

★★★★

 

Prince Hamlet smells a rat. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, but it’s not the rotting corpse of the King that’s causing all the stench. Set in modern times, director Damien Ryan’s production has all the hallmarks of a political Cold War thriller. 

 

The palace of Elsinore is awash with secrets and lies, and brimming with eavesdropping spies and...

Posted 3 Nov 2015 @ 10:43am

★★★★☆

 

Having navigated the bustling backstreets and neon-lit doorways of Kings Cross on a Saturday night to get to the Old Fitz, the seedy south-side-of-Chicago setting of Joshua Rollins’ A Girl With Sun In Her Eyes doesn’t seem so far away.

 

This gritty little missing-cop mystery plays out like all your favourite Netflix police procedurals, packing box sets’...

Posted 28 Oct 2015 @ 9:42am

★★★½

 

Given the regal surrounds of the State Theatre, it’s easy to forget that tonight’s gig is part of Danny Bhoy’s ninth Australian tour. The Edinburgh native has become such a mainstay of our local comedy scene that he has formalised this association by becoming an Australian citizen. 

 

The peculiarities of nationality and identity are central to proceedings as...

Posted 27 Oct 2015 @ 1:21pm

★☆☆☆☆

 

It’s been six years since the original Paranormal Activity was released in Australia. This, the latest and last (supposedly), is the sixth film of the franchise. I’d really love to give it six stars to give this review a devilish opening paragraph, but I can’t. It’s a dud.

 

Why? The answer’s right there on the billboards: “For the first time you will see...

Posted 27 Oct 2015 @ 1:11pm

★★★★½

 

The Just For Laughs Sydney comedy festival turned five this year, and to celebrate it held two all-star comedy galas at the iconic Sydney Opera House. The lineup of seven comedians included top-notch international and local talent giving us all about ten to 15 minutes of their funniest, A-plus material.

 

Celia Pacquola opened the night, making some great...

Posted 27 Oct 2015 @ 1:00pm

★★★½

 

Shakespeare writes leading ladies with the utmost of respect. Refusing to conjure vague two-dimensional creations, he offers highly complicated and intelligent creatures, strong in nature and driven by their passions of love, revenge, power or otherwise.

 

Othello’s Desdemona is no exception. It is for this reason she claims such a strong hold as the title...

Posted 20 Oct 2015 @ 11:46am

★★★★

 

Tonight, comedic duo Sammy J & Randy prove there is no greater love (or hate) than between a man and his purple puppet.

 

As the lights dim over the crowd on this Monday evening, keyboardist Sammy J dances onto the stage while his puppet companion, Randy, makes his entrance behind a strategically placed box.

Within minutes, their hilarious, crass...

Posted 15 Oct 2015 @ 9:37am

★★★★

 

Blanketed in a glow of otherworldliness and embracing all that is and all that isn’t Guillermo del Toro is his latest aesthetically charged thriller, Crimson Peak.

 

Signature stylings in the form of elongated-limbed creatures, heightened colourisations, confrontational gore and tongue-in-cheek humour abound, but atypical to the director, they’re coupled with...

Posted 14 Oct 2015 @ 4:12pm

★★★

 

Boy, do these guys know how to put on a fun show.

 

The Sydney Opera House has seen cabaret and circus in the past. It has been draped in debauchery, it has seen audiences dancing in the aisles, and will see them dance there again. But few productions manage to unite these with such bombastic pleasure, and without the show becoming overly cluttered. Indeed,...

Posted 14 Oct 2015 @ 3:42pm

★★★★

 

John Crowley’s Brooklyn tells of young Eilis Lacey (Atonement and The Lovely Bones’ Saoirse Ronan) navigating her solo migration to New York City from small-town Ireland in the 1950s.

 

When tragedy forces her back to Ireland, Eilis agonises over the choice between her two homes and the romances that pull her back to them. Irish director Crowley – best known...

Posted 7 Oct 2015 @ 9:38am

★★★

 

Black Mass is the true story of Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) and his uncanny ties with the FBI, which led him to an unprecedented level of rule over the city throughout the ’70s and ’80s.

 

After childhood friend and FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) brings Bulger on as an ‘informant’ – naively plotting an allegiance to help crack down...

Posted 2 Oct 2015 @ 6:32pm

★★★★☆

 

It’s been some time since A Property Of The Clan has graced a Sydney stage, but thanks to the efforts of Don’t Look Away and the brand new Blood Moon Theatre, this brutal, beautiful text is finding new contextual relevance and vitality under the guidance of an engrossing and muscular cast.

 

Ricko’s underage party is the talk of Blackrock Point, and every...

Posted 2 Oct 2015 @ 3:55pm

★★★

 

Dance is a curious creature. There’s an immediacy to it, a boldness and an inherent sexual magnetism that it exudes, as well as the aura of watching gifted performers engage in their craft.

 

But there’s also the sense that, without some training in the form or some intimate knowledge of its meaning, much is lost in translation. This collection of both new and...

Posted 30 Sep 2015 @ 2:02pm

★★★★

 

Who does this Tom Hardy fella think he is? He’s hogging all the handsome, eating everyone’s protein, taking the lead roles in every second blockbuster, and now he’s playing the supporting role to… himself?

 

Yep, selfish ol’ Tom is everyone in Legend, and he’s just about the only guy around who could actually pull it off.

 

Reggie Kray (Hardy)...

Posted 30 Sep 2015 @ 1:39pm

★★★★

 

After watching Yorgos Lanthimos’ debut film Dogtooth, a weird pall hangs over the viewer. It’s a surreal experience, and an uncomfortable one at that. At first, it seems Lanthimos has shrugged off the arthouse in favour of the hilarious with his sophomore The Lobster, but the film eventually slides into a similar black pit of absurdity and pain.

 

After...

Posted 25 Sep 2015 @ 2:42pm

★★

 

The trailer for Miss You Already, the new BFF tearjerker from Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, is without doubt the most emotionally manipulative, trope-laden and cloying trailer of 2015. It sets expectations extremely low, but fortunately, the film manages to surpass them somewhat, opting for a minimalism that can’t save the story, but at least makes it bearable....

Posted 23 Sep 2015 @ 10:26am

★★★

Joe Wright’s Pan is the latest adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

 

However, Wright’s film takes a slightly different tack than previous adaptations in choosing to tell the story of Peter Pan’s childhood before he arrived in Neverland. Pan, played by Levi Miller, is introduced growing up in a London orphanage run by a tyrannical...

Posted 15 Sep 2015 @ 1:06pm

★★★☆

 

Some films are made for the big screen, and Everest is one of them. It’s hard to say how enjoyable the experience would have been on a smaller screen with less wholly encompassing sound, but witnessed in the comforts of the IMAX, it’s an engrossing and nail-biting man-versus-nature thriller.

 

It’s 1996, and numerous international agencies are vying to get...

Posted 15 Sep 2015 @ 12:53pm

★★★★

 

Two plays, both alike in nature, lay their scene in suburban Sydney. The two stories don’t intertwine, yet there is a sense of continuum that washes from the first to the second, as though a stream of consciousness was being threaded as playwright Jane Bodie moved from writing one to the other between 2000 and 2001. Oddly enough, they are presented to us here in the...

Posted 9 Sep 2015 @ 12:59pm

★★★☆

 

Shame on me, really, for walking into a film with low expectations simply because it’s a rural Australian crime drama – i.e. the only films we make here, apparently. Cut Snake manages to surprise with its complex characters and distinctive cinematography, elevating it above your run-of-the-mill ‘Aussie’ flick.

 

Merv Farrell (Alex Russell) is settling into a...

Posted 7 Sep 2015 @ 10:45am

★★★★

 

Though the Polanski film version of Death And The Maiden left a lasting impression, it had little to do with the direction or performances. It wasn’t even the script, although Ariel Dorfman co-wrote it based on his own play. It was the premise that seemed most promising, so full of dark potential, and Leticia Cáceres’ production stays true to the troubling ambiguity of...

Posted 1 Sep 2015 @ 1:10pm

★★★★

 

Opera has unwittingly found itself back in the spotlight of late, but not quite as it may have hoped.

 

As the poster child for George Brandis’ National Program for Excellence in the Arts, it has become representative of the class divide in the arts world and beyond. Sisters Grimm have decided to wedge themselves smack bang in the centre of this division,...

Posted 1 Sep 2015 @ 12:00am

Biopics, like history, are skewed narratives by nature. There are all sorts of agendas involved in representing the legacy of a group of artists, for instance. F. Gary Gray’s slick and polished tale of five boys from urban California who changed the rap game forever is prone to this, of course, but Straight Outta Compton is an explosive and surprisingly emotional journey.

 

...

Posted 31 Aug 2015 @ 11:10pm

On reflection, there is truly no greater venue to witness The Tempest is all its bewitching glory than the Sydney Opera House. A small point of splendour girt by sea (mostly), here you can almost imagine yourself an amateur Prospero, cast upon Bennelong Point and uncertain of the fate awaiting you amongst the elementals and forgotten magic of conjurers past.

 

Of course, this...

Posted 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:26pm

Played at Australian Theatre For Young People on Thursday August 27 and Friday August 28

 

Full disclosure – I’ve worked for several years at Shopfront Theatre and seen firsthand the work that goes into the Bodylines Ensembles program, but couldn’t make it to the mounting of its first full-length show. So it was with great excitement that I stepped into this new iteration of Out...

Posted 31 Aug 2015 @ 10:18pm

“There’s an awkwardness there – it’s pure, you can’t fake it,” says photographer Dennis Stock of the young star on the rise, James Dean.

 

It’s a peculiar line to leave in a film that attempts to do precisely that, seeking to capture the reality of the notoriously inscrutable public figure, outside of the aura he carries on screen. It can’t be said that Life is wholly successful...

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