Apr 15

FILM – The Gunman – Released 16 April – 3.5K

3e9f4c4b_gunmanBy Aaron Fiora

The Gunman is a story about Terrier (Sean Penn), a sniper on a mercenary assassination team who is hired to kill the Minister of Mines of the Congo. Terrier’s successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself.

The movie opens with a series of news bulletin clips reporting on the tragedies currently happening in the world, not unlike the beginning of V for Vendetta, only in The Gunman the reports are focused around the Congo circa 2006.

Then enter our hero Terrier (Penn) who’s well-aged chiselled face frames a majestic moustache even Guy Fawkes himself would have been jealous of. We soon see he is a very hard man doing a tough job in ruthless circumstances. His only soft spot is the apple of his eye; Annie (Jasmine Trinca) who is a surgeon doing humanitarian aid work in the same area. She is also clearly sought after by Felix (Javier Bardem) who is the shot caller of sorts for Terrier’s ‘team’.

Some might be quick to jump on a bandwagon and call this movie ‘Sean Penn’s version of Taken‘ (the movie made famous by Liam Neeson’s role and of the same director; Pierre Morel). I however differ and think that statement is lazy, unjust, unfair and misplaced towards both films.

The Gunman takes us on a very different journey where the viewer and Terrier are often trying to work out who actually is the bad guy per-se and what their motives for wanting him dead are. It also seems to make a large effort to shine light on Penn’s interests in humanitarian aid efforts in the developing world.

Some things to note are the excellently choreographed fight scenes which you would expect from director Pierre Morel, also the thought and budget which went into the cinematography; every time a character travels in a car there seems to be a sweeping overhead shot most likely taken from a helicopter following them.

You will also see Terrier shirtless from time to time which is fine because I can only assume that Sean Penn did somewhere between two and three trillion sit-ups, ran 100km every morning, punched a hole through a brick wall then bench-pressed a bus for this role. Any 20 year old could likely only dream of being in as great shape as Penn, now 54!

Other noteworthy performances are from Jamine Trinca whom you just can’t help but falling a bit in love with and Javier Bardem who plays his particular role very well too. Last, but not least, Ray Winstone and Mark Rylance were stand-outs in their supporting roles alongside what were all seemingly a very talented cast.

 

Kryztoff Rating 3.5K

Apr 14

THEATRE – Small Gods – Bakehouse – From 15th May – Preview

Small Gods image no text500The Australian Premiere of Sir Terry Pratchett’s “Small Gods”

Adapted for the stage, and Directed by Pamela Munt.

It’s a God-eat-God world, which makes life a bit tricky when you are manifesting as a tortoise. Everyone knows that there’s good eating on one of those things.

Brutha, is a simple novice who only wants to tend his melon patch. Until one day he hears the voice of a god calling his name. A small god, to be sure, but bossy as hell. In what has been described as one of the 20th century’s finest satires, “the gods are pompous, the worshippers cowed, and the priests violently closed-minded. Yet the tale is never heavy-handed, thanks to some deftly comical plot twists, as well as all the levity that comes from picturing an angry god trapped in the body of a tortoise.” (Australian author Jack Heath)

The main target of Pratchett’s perceptive, satirical wit in Small Gods is religion and intolerance. Funnily enough, according to his fan mail, both believers and non-believers have praised the book for supporting their position!
Philosophical and theological arguments aside, it is still epic storytelling (with one foot of silliness stuck in the door), a comedic character piece, an awfully big adventure, and, as always, it examines the never ending conflict between good and evil. So you could say that it pretty much covers everything! (including the number 42).

This is also one of Terry’s works that is most often accused of being literature. However Terry himself preferred to put his views in a simpler fashion:- “ Take it from me, whenever you see a bunch of buggers puttering around talking about truth and beauty and the best way of attacking Ethics, you can bet your sandals it’s all because dozens of other poor buggers are doing all the real work around the place.”

Although this production was planned quite some time before Terry’s passing, some may see it as fate, others as simply co-incidence, that we decided on this particular one of his works that is concerned with theological and philosophical issues. Whatever your beliefs, we hope that it is a fitting tribute to him. Small Gods has all the usual comedy, action, and drama that we have come to expect from one of the most insightful minds of our era. It will also make you think about….well…everything, long after you have left the theatre!

RIP Sir Terry. We hope you are giving our favourite character a good run for his money! We at Unseen Theatre Company will be sure to keep your work alive on stage.

WHERE:            Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
WHEN:              Preview Fri. May 15. Opening Night Sat. May 16. Season continues Wed to Sat until May 30.  All               shows at 8pm.
TICKETS:          Adults $20; Concession $18; TREv $16; Groups (10+) $16; Preview all tix $15; Companion Card accepted.
BOOKINGS:     www.bakehousetheatre.com and at the door on the night (subject to availability)

Apr 13

THEATRE – The Good Son – Bakehouse – Til 25th April – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

Image by Olivia Zanchetta

Image by Olivia Zanchetta

The often fraught and anachronistic relationship that can develop between Greek mothers and their sons has become in recent years a source of good humour but in Elena Carapetis’ first play The Good Son we see how it can also all become quite destructive.

Frank (Renato Musolino) is a 30 something single guy still living at home under the watchful eye of his mum, Meda (Eugenia Fragos). The play opens with his attempt at concealing from Meda his serious love interest Ana (Adriana Bonacurso) who has slept over. As the play develops this is Frank’s only con, but one that quickly comes to pale into insignificance relative to those attempted on him by those around whom he has hitherto trusted.

Added to the mix is Jimmy (Demitrios Sirilas), the kid next door the family has known since he was a boy who seems to be as welcome in Frank and Meda’s house as they are themselves. Gradually, it becomes apparent that Meda’s gambling habit has reached the end of the road, tearing at her maternal relationship with Frank and sucking in the others in ever more frightening and hopeless ways.

Image by Olivia Zanchetta

Image by Olivia Zanchetta

The Good Son is just a short play, running at around 70 minutes, but Carapetis brings a lot of themes and angst together in that time. While the subject matter becomes ever more complicated and tense, there are some wonderful quips that keep it all an enjoyable experience and with the collection of surnames involved one can sense there is much home grown history also brought to bear when playing with the underlying ethnic story.

Musolino delivers another excellent performance and Fragos is compelling as she mixes frailty with malevolence, desperation with manipulation – can one so slight really be also so hollow and how much burden can one good son really be asked to carry? The set, obtained from donated second-hand materials, seems a little out of date for 1980’s décor and I worried for the last 40 minutes about the iron left on but the performers’ universally strong showings steam roll these concerns and make this a delight.

Kryztoff Rating 3.5K

Apr 13

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL – The Black Rose by Trent Parke – AGSA – 4.5K

Trent_ParkeBy Peter Maddern

There is much to enjoy about the work of Trent Parke, Australia’s sole member of the prestigious Magnum Photographers group. The Black Rose is an extensive exhibition based around fourteen books or diaries he has put together over recent years especially for this event and all find their calling from the sense of loss and despair arising from the death of his mother of a sudden asthma attack at his young age of 12.

It is these two influences that dominate the exhibition, both in substance and structure. The books contain Parke’s own writings and from there images congregate around both the text and in their connection to each other. For example, there is a wall dedicated to images around fish and then amongst them the form of a cactus that aligns with the images of fish skeletons. Elsewhere, Parke draws the even more abstract connection between scattered spindly trees on the outback savannah and ants on a Jatz Cracker biscuit.

But, it is the effect of his mother’s death that permeates so much on display as Parke seeks to both revisit and reclaim her and the childhood that was blanked out as a result. There is the found strand of her hair and other keepsakes found, moved or broken. There is the solidity of the family home lost as it gives way to the wrecker’s ball for the development of some McMansion. But there is also an agony unresolved that haunts him and, in time, the viewer with so many images of death, of living without necessarily being alive or the ever present spectre of imminent, unplanned death, such as we see in pictures with the spider inhabiting her web just waiting for a bug’s error and a giant whale washed up and now rotting ashore, its size highlighted by the present of one his sons playing away in the near distance.

trent-parke-photographer11Even though gripped by this unease, there is also much to joyfully appreciate in individual images. One of the first virtues one can appreciate is Parke’s breadth of subject matter and approach. This is not a photographer who feels bound by a typecasting from previous successes and beyond his keen eye is an even greater intellectual sensibility about the world around us.

The second feature is the uniquely Australian perspective on that world. While reflecting his travels around the country as part of the creative process, Parke nonetheless embraces everything from sand dunes to sleepy lizards and then slugs. Then amongst the fauna and flora he also presents a certain beauty in death and decay, parched outback plains, ants and bats. There are the simple concepts – sunsets (albeit each day for a year), his daughter dancing on ochre dust – to the rewards of patience with night captures of wildlife, most particularly a passing shark at West Beach and the adrenalin rush of a croc encounter.

But one should not view Parke’s work as being locked in the world of serious contemplation as there is much humour to be found in gems such as Jem and blue swimmer and Cemetery.

While his black and white prints are the most successful, as mentioned, experimentation and a mind unconstrained by precedent all help make The Black Rose the most significant photographic exhibition this town has seen in many a year; poignant, affecting and powerful in equal measure. Without doubt it was the highlight of this year’s Festival’s visual arts component.

 

Kryztoff Rating 4.5K

Apr 13

FRINGE – #NOFILTER – Holden Street – 3K

By Peter Maddern

This production, featuring a talented band of young actors, emanated from a brief given to Urban Myth for a 2015 Fringe production. While Urban Myth came to a sad end, the initiative survived under Beans and Such banner and enjoyed a short run at the Holden Street Theatres.

The show as a series of skits based around the absurd ‘seflie’ phenomenon which shows no sign of abating (given one of the most popular gifts last Christmas season was an accessory to allow more distanced shots of one’s own beak) and the kids delivered all manner of takes on the craze. Indeed, if they too were the authors, they showed remarkable insights into the addiction that their age would very likely regard as a part of life.

Directed by Claire Glenn with pace and certainty given the age and experience of her players, #nofilter is a fun production with many useful insights on a modern day fancy that hopefully will soon have had its day.

 

Kryztoff Rating     3K

Mar 23

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL – Bill Viola – AGSA etc – 4K

The Messenger turns heads

The Messenger turns heads

By Peter Maddern

Many recognise in the work of sometimes controversial Australian photographer Bill Henson the exploration between twilight zones, nature and civilization, youth and adulthood, male and female. Bill Viola, the internationally acclaimed video artist, takes this investigation of transitions some stages further through looking more at whole of life passages and the intense interactions of humans and the elements (a freedom afforded him, of course, relative to Henson, by his media of choice.)

Spread across three venues (and still on at the AGSA), this review of Viola’s works for the Adelaide Festival encompasses seven installations, all of which with sufficient patient viewing will entrance and enthral.

For this reviewer the two most memorable were those at the Queen’s Theatre. Fire Woman presents a woman, perhaps a monk, silhouetted in front of a massive inferno before turning and approaching the camera she plunges into a dark pool, after which the whole converges and then breaks down into its constituent elements of colour before fading to black. Tristan’s Ascension then confounds further where a dead knight in white robes lies on a slab and becomes caught up in a waterfall that does not descend upon him but rather ascend, as he eventually does with it as well. The spectacular imagery is enhanced by the sound where, whether it is water or fire, the elements roar at the viewer and resonate in the space provided. As much fascination arises from the how as the what of the works and certainly any attempt at recreating these works falls clearly into the ‘don’t try this at home’ category.

Life’s entire passage is seen in Three Women at the Cathedral and The Encounter and Walking on the Edge at the Art Gallery. In the first of these, three women, a mother and two daughters, emerge out of a pixelated, blurred abyss and enter the world of the living defined by colour and high definition, before each, again led by the mother, retreats to the nether world, each in turn occasionally turning back to view the possibilities they are forsaking. In The Encounter, two men, a father and son, converge at the end of a long walk before exchanging places and moving away from each other again to the extremities of the screen.

In addition to the compelling impact of the visual and aural elements of the works, all mostly delivered at super slow motion, Viola has also managed some excellent performances from his various actors. Most memorably is Chad Walker in The Messenger, the last of the works in the Art Gallery, which as a piece around the passage between life and death via a watery veil is a forerunner by nearly a decade to Three Women. Here, Walker, nude and parallel to the camera, appears ever so slowly out of the murky depths of a pond and announces his arrival at the surface with a massive exhale of air that accompanies a look of innocence and surprise. Perhaps this is birth but soon he starts to sink back and is again lost to us other than for a few bubbles that keep floating to the surface. This cycle then goes on for the best part of half an hour and even in super slow-mo the control of the actor is as much a feature as the sound and ethereal blue light that shines down from the top right corner of the portrait-oriented screen.

Certainly across all the works, we get the message about the flimsy nature of life, the pointlessness of what may obsess us during it and its overall insignificance in terms of the course of the earth. Yet, for all that down beat stuff, Viola seems to still convey a sense of the triumphant and magnificent about life itself.

Those slow off the mark will lament the short seasons of these works other than at the Art Gallery (which ends this Sunday) and the dispersal of them around the city only serves to highlight the issue we have in this town about the lack of a dedicated contemporary art space (and good luck looking to this Government for inspiration on this issue.) Still, given the Blinc blunder, at least what promised to be a mighty visual arts program at this year’s Festival has been held up, albeit like the nature of some of the works, somewhat fleetingly by these wonders.

Kryztoff Rating     4K

Mar 20

THEATRE – Long Day’s Journey into Night – Goodwood Institute – 4.5K

10458606_10153161744282451_5164858894072409773_nBy Peter Maddern

Anna Karenina told us that ‘every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ but even amongst this class, the Tyrone clan of this play is particularly unique for being on the nose with each other. The opening half of this excellent production by the Independent Theatre Company is one long bellyache. Sons, Jamie (Angus Henderson) and Edmund (Benji Riggs) are at each others’ throats and that of their father, James (David Roach) who in turn berates them for being lazy or falling foul of alcohol. Somewhat ironically, it is their mother, Mary (Bronwyn Ruciak) who sort of holds them all together as they all attempt to tip toe around her addictions and abuse; it is ironic for the fact that she is as unhinged as they get.

Set over the course of just one day in 1912 in the living room of the Tyrone family’s summer house, Long Day’s Journey is indeed as lengthy (at over three hours) as the title suggests but it is a riveting spectacle; a ring side view into the circle of despair of one family, indeed the author’s (Eugene O’Neill) own. It is intimate and awkward for that honesty and for what it may also reflect in our own families. Life has its twists and turns, opportunities become mistakes, a family carries itself without ever knowing all the reasons for the why and the how and for a desperate lack of listening, a want that only starts to right itself in the final Act.

The main four members of the cast all give stunning performances, in what is a most demanding script. David Roach is tormented from the kick-off, the weight of his family’s problems and their lack of understanding are always on his shoulders but he is always the head of the house, the caring but isolated father and husband who knows how to find solace in the booze and his mates at the club. Bronwyn Ruciak’s poignant Mary is also a work of art – the morphine induced madness has her in its grip, all too obviously swaying her between dazed introspection and lashing out. Benji Riggs’ star remains on the ascent. As with Master Harold (which performance this reviewer couldn’t get enough of last year), he gives a sublime display, especially in the gripping final act, displaying an extraordinarily natural ease when confronted with the most demanding of mixed emotions. Angus Henderson similarly displays the fruits of his recently completed education at the much credited Flinders University Drama Centre.

One has to acknowledge other qualities of the production. Director Rob Croser and Roach’s set is lush and delivers a sense of the authentic, notably the nice touch of the slamming hinged screen doors. Croser’s direction, again in a challenging work, is masterful – never does one feel the players descend into excessive melodrama or become glued to their chairs. How he managed to get Riggs to deliver up those deep lung coughing attacks (from the ‘consumption’) one may never know but they helped set more of the authenticity that such a play needs to carry the day. The I.T. Crew also deserve full credit for delivering us a most useful program with plenty of chat about the history of the play, the playwright and previous productions.

The Fringe and the Festival may be over but don’t go into hibernation if you are a theatre fan. You won’t see much better than this for the rest of the year. The Long Day’s Journey into Night is a trip much worth taking.

Kryztoff Rating     4.5K

Mar 19

FRINGE 2015: Rhythm Spectacular – The Music of Beyonce – 4K

By Anthony Nguyen

AdamHall_Beyonce_CD_web2-300x300The award-winning Perth-based group, Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys, returns to the Adelaide Fringe 2015 presenting Rhythm Spectacular: The Music of Beyonce. Featuring the energetic Jessie Gordon and soulful Melody Itszein on vocals and a 6-piece rhythm and blues band, Beyonce fans can rejoice and celebrate as several of Beyonce’s top hits are given a New Orleans-style jazz rendition.

Performances also included choreography from the Velvet Playgirls as well as the Adelaide swing dancing group, The Ragdolls. Through lively enthusiasm of the musical numbers, audience members were encouraged to dance along the aisles, performers even bringing some people up front with the dancers.

With unique interpretations highlighting Beyonce’s impressive career, Gordon and Itszein showcase their vocal prowess through songs such as Crazy in Love, Déjà Vu, Love On Top, Single Ladies, and Irreplaceable. Additional tunes from the Beyonce’s Destiny’s Child days, Jumpin’ Jumpin’ and Bootylicious, were also featured.

Adam Hall is an internationally renowned performer and clearly shows expertise not only with the trumpet but also vocally. Although Rhythm Spectacular: The Music of Beyonce has finished its show run for the 2015 Adelaide Fringe on March 15th, it can be expected to see the Velvet Playboys with another Rhythm Spectacular show in the future.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

Mar 19

Fringe 2015: Calypso Nights – Tuxedo Cat – Perske Pavilion – 3K

Venezuelan DJ Juan Vesuvius (Barnie Duncan) finds himself discovering that his audience is not Spanish speaking after about 10minutes of dialogue. To his surprise they all speak English. Rewind. He has to start over in his broken English as he educates the audience about Calypso music with lots of comparisons to non Calypso music, just to make sure the difference is recognised. The education does continues on about the use of maracas, into Soca, oral Sex and how music is the secret weapon to world peace or at least with North Korea.

This entertaining one man show, using lot’s of vinyl, breaking world records, talking about music and sex, is delivered by Duncan with a powerhouse of energy. The at times dumb and repetitive yet hilarious sequences at times seems expertly improvised, and manages to draw the crowd in as we learn how music can be used to communicate between the tribes to bring joy in more forms than one.

A hard to classify show that has it’s place at the fringe and being cleverly presented grabs the audience’s full attention.

http://www.adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/calypso-nights/db82e672-1b14-457e-93ba-357eb69e7568

https://www.facebook.com/calypso.nights

Kryztoff Rating  3K

Mar 14

Fringe 2015 – Sous Vide – Holden Street Theatres – The Studio – 4.5k

By Tom Eckert

West Australian contemporary dance duo Laura Boynes and Tony Currie put on a unique performance that simultaneously challenges and entertains its audience.

The stylistic choreography exploring the modern zeitgeist of achieving immortality or at least leaving something that extends beyond our time is adeptly woven throughout and complimented by a great soundtrack from Tristen Parr and magnificent costumes producing a very real and incisive look at what is all around us.

Not to be tied down to serious notions, the duo manage to capitalize on the humour of the inherent absurdity to be found around every corner of our modern world.

A profoundly creative and innovative piece. If this is what a “work in progress” feels like to Laura Boynes, I look forward to seeing shat she produces in the future.

Kryztoff Rating: 4.5K

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