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Arts Reviews

Posted 24 Aug 2015 @ 5:53pm

The 2012 Audi S8 sedan: slick, streamlined, both a testament to modern engineering and a hark back to classic design. It is a car uniquely prepared for any environment, be it on the streets of Paris, the sands of European beaches, or on the set of a hackneyed piece of shit like The Transporter Refueled.

 

And who’s the lucky guy behind the Audi wheel in this new entry to the...

Posted 19 Aug 2015 @ 12:00am

Director Neil Armfield has been away from the silver screen for too long – last gracing us with the hard-hitting Candy in 2006 – which makes his return with this adaptation of Timothy Conigrave’s beloved memoir all the more splendid. Holding The Man is a simple yet deeply moving account of a great romance, told with genuine warmth, humour and astonishing intimacy.

 

17-year-old...

Posted 17 Aug 2015 @ 8:50pm

It’s extremely rare, indeed something of a privilege, to see a cast of 18 women call the stage their own under the guiding hand of another. It is a shame, then, that such laudable effort should be applied to a dated and irrelevant text that, despite its women-only cast, fails even to pass the Bechdel test.

 

Mrs. Mary Haines (Helen Stuart) lives the classic high-society lifestyle...

Posted 17 Aug 2015 @ 8:29pm

The nature of recreating stories from past eras is that those stories are often structured around the values of the time – now that we’re seeing more remakes and reimaginings than ever, we’re continually exposed to bygone principles restaged with no contextualisation.

 

This is an over-worded way of saying that Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. feels dated – but it manages to...

Posted 11 Aug 2015 @ 1:42pm

From its high-profile cast (Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone) and its high dialogue-to-action ratio, right down to its tortured, however brilliant protagonist, Woody Allen’s silver screen offering for 2015 has all the markings of his signature films. Like we would have expected anything less.

 

In typical Allen fashion, the cast is short and sweet. It encompasses the star-crossed...

Posted 11 Aug 2015 @ 1:27pm

A thick amount of hype preceded the opening of Seventeen.

 

The play’s premise – teens on their last day of school to be played by actors in their 70s – pricked a few ears, but the publicity the production garnered just a day before opening had the theatre foyer in overdrive. In a nutshell, it hadn’t got permission to use Taylor Swift’s hit single ‘Shake It Off’ in the play;...

Posted 11 Aug 2015 @ 1:09pm

Griffin Theatre cares about new writing – so much so it’ll charge a little extra for the program, and instead of getting a cast list and a few words on the play, you get the whole darn play. It’s long been one of Griffin’s best features, and never better value than with Angus Cerini’s The Bleeding Tree, a seething and poetic text that is perfectly attuned to modern Australia.

 

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Posted 11 Aug 2015 @ 12:54pm

I’m going to invest about as much effort into writing this review as Southpaw’s creators invested into making an original film.

 

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a man who punches other men for a living. He’s the best puncher around, the lightweight champion of the world. But after losing his temper and witnessing his wife murdered, he discovers that being the world’s greatest...

Posted 5 Aug 2015 @ 4:25pm

The concept for a film about Los Angeles Gen Y kids centered around a soundtrack of all-’90s hip hop might be confusing – if not a little overcooked – and Dope does get off to a rocky start.

 

The first ten minutes shoehorn bad narration (by Forest Whitaker) with any excuse to play ’90s jams, alongside kitschy pop culture references. These kids have Walkmans (which they actually...

Posted 5 Aug 2015 @ 11:25am

Reviewed at the Enmore Theatre on Thursday July 30

 

“For the Horde!” yelled an enthusiastic audience member as an iconic piece of gameplay music began.

 

You might expect that this particular brand of proclamation wouldn’t be indicative of a night out at the symphony. However, in this very unique case, you would be wrong. Video Games Live, a concert created by...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 1:32pm

Scott Sandwich and Finn O’Branagáin are giant nerds. Not your traditional humourless math nerds, but funnier, better-dressed story nerds. Their show, The Epic, is about myth in a big way, and while our hosts are not about to take themselves wholly seriously, they are about to get very shouty about essentially make-believe things.

 

The Epic begins with a disclaimer: this is not a...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 1:12pm

The fifth edition of the monthly Bonus Stage was a comedy night – but perhaps a little more niche than most. Billed as a “live video game talk show”, the night was such a grounded and user-friendly experience, it was more like chatting about video games with some mates – admittedly over a few beers with some music, videos, and of course, actual gaming.

 

Fit to burst with...

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 12:58pm

It’s quite opportune that in a time when Sydney’s median house price has breached the million-dollar mark, a play like Detroit is gracing the stage. Penned by American Lisa D’Amour in 2010, it’s a work riddled with social and financial complexities and set in what’s presumed to be Detroit, USA.

 

The play opens with two polar opposite couples settling in for a backyard barbecue....

Posted 28 Jul 2015 @ 12:35pm

Unity is an ambitious documentary that asks a simple question: “Why can’t we all just get along?” The film is written and directed by Shaun Monson and is a kind of sequel to his pro-veganism documentary, Earthlings. In Unity the message is supposed to be promoting harmony, but it is a tad muddled at times.

 

The film has five chapters and the cast features no less than 100...

Posted 22 Jul 2015 @ 10:40am

Ant-Man is a film about families. OK, hear us out, because this next addition in the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t that hockey. It’s an odd blend of contrasting elements, sure, and some of those elements jar from time to time, but for the most part it’s still an entertaining movie. It just might not get cred from the comic book snobs and cinema geeks.

 

Here are the basics:...

Posted 22 Jul 2015 @ 12:00am

Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch are both iconic characters and crucial parts of childhood for anyone born in the last 50 years. Less recognisable is Caroll Spinney, the buoyant, rakish man behind both of them – often literally, acting as puppeteer.

 

I Am Big Bird is an adoring portrait of Spinney, and though the film shows that all of Spinney’s creations are based...

Posted 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:05pm

The Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Caryl Churchill’s Love And Information is the perfect fit for a Sydney theatrical culture in which the director is considered at least partial auteur. That spirit of collaboration verging on dual authorship is built into the DNA of Churchill’s text, which is made up of lines assigned to nobody in particular.

 

Churchill doesn’t specify...

Posted 21 Jul 2015 @ 1:03pm

What is there to say about The Gallows that hasn’t been said about every film out of the Blumhouse Productions stable? If you like stupid, despicable one-note characters doing stupid and despicable things then getting stupidly and despicably killed, then this is the film for you.

 

20 years ago, student Charlie Grimille was killed onstage in front of a packed auditorium during a...

Posted 21 Jul 2015 @ 12:34pm

Sue Healey’s On View: Live Portraits is an evocative and interactive production that explores the dimensions of portraiture and challenges our behaviour and how we see ourselves.

 

Featuring dancers Martin del Amo, Shona Erskine, Benjamin Hancock, Raghav Handa and Nalina Wait, On View takes the audience on a visually breathtaking journey into the intertwined lives of...

Posted 21 Jul 2015 @ 11:28am

“Are you brave enough to book?” This tempting tagline is one of the strongest selling points of Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s Ghost Stories. Considering that virtually nothing is known about the show until the audience members take their seats, this offer of tantalising terror is enough to make any cynic quiver in anticipation.

 

Does the show live up to this promise? Almost, but...

Posted 20 Jul 2015 @ 7:14pm

Reviewed at the State Theatre on Saturday July 18

 

More comedians than you’d rightly expect have made their careers off a single routine, impersonation or one-liner. Dylan Moran has his own career-defining role, the madcap bookshop owner Bernard Black of Black Books. But if you thought Moran was squeezing a living out of his drunken alter ego’s half-dozen or so best lines, you’d...

Posted 20 Jul 2015 @ 12:00am

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 poorly...

Posted 16 Jul 2015 @ 9:48am

The Blumhouse Productions logo that spins into view at the beginning of Insidious: Chapter 3 is, somewhat ironically, a mess of their most heavily used tropes and clichés, though perhaps a more apt logo would simply be a man flogging a dead horse into pulp.

 

The latest in the Insidious saga from producer James Wan and writer/director Leigh Whannell has entertaining moments, but...

Posted 13 Jul 2015 @ 9:43am

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 set...

Posted 9 Jul 2015 @ 12:13pm

Based on a short story by Albert Camus, Far From Men (Loin des Hommes) sits comfortably alongside many of its peers in the realm of films about tiny men amidst epic landscapes. While this is reflective of its origins (and not inherently critical), it’s fair to say that this occasionally touching, well-performed piece offers little to truly distinguish it from its contemporaries.

 

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Posted 1 Jul 2015 @ 2:25pm

It’s been over 30 years since Arnie asked for our clothes, boots and motorcycles, and now he’s back to turn canon on its head in Terminator Genisys.

 

From the start, the plot is reminiscent of the original Terminator: Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from a digitally remastered Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, things go awry...

Posted 30 Jun 2015 @ 11:23am

Crossing the divide of the proscenium arch is something on which Mongrel Mouth pride themselves.

 

Not content to perform to static audiences, they encourage their crowds to actively partake in – and dictate the direction of – their work. Rarely is interactive work so wholly immersive as their newest, Like Me, a bizarre journey into an alien world with a group of characters whose...

Posted 23 Jun 2015 @ 12:51pm

The Dog / The Cat is a double bill about love. And pets.

 

Two one-acts, written by Brendan Cowell and Lally Katz, show the various lengths we go for love – for our pets and each other – and how animals may be in our lives for company, yet ultimately bring us closer together.

 

Cowell tells a late-Gen-Y Sydney tale, with down-and-out writer Ben (Xavier Samuel)...

Posted 23 Jun 2015 @ 12:39pm

Stylish, contemporary adaptations of classic novels are coming through at a constant rate – with Far From The Madding Crowd also in cinemas – presumably because studios are banking that fans of the books will come out and enjoy reliving the story, or seeing it taken in a new direction.

 

But in watching Sophie Barthes’ adaptation of Madame Bovary – based on the widely lauded,...

Posted 23 Jun 2015 @ 12:27pm

21 years on from his untimely death, Nirvana’s iconic frontman Kurt Cobain is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of music fans the world over.

 

He is the poster boy from the grunge generation, an almost mythical creature whose power and influence remains strong despite the fact he never reached his 28th birthday. Much has been written about his drug addiction and his...

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