Set on the International Space Station, the film follows a group of astronauts who are given the task of analysing a recovered dirt sample found on Mars. Named Calvin, the sample turns out to be a single cell organism that grows once fed oxygen.
While it’s impossible not to compare the film to the Alien series, and see its blatant influence from other space-set flicks such as Gravity, the film manages to cross into new territory for the genre. With big names Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal starring, the film does not centre upon the one character, meaning the viewer has no idea who will survive at the end. You can’t help but wonder if, like the writers’ previous hits, it was their aim to toy with their viewers expectations.
Unfortunately though, the film misses the mark. Packed with cringey one liners, overly gory deaths, and a second half that suddenly feels less intelligent than its first, it’s not a must-see. Its ending may be surprising, but unfortunately, by the time the viewer lands there, the damage has been done.
Reviewed by Chantal Walsh.]]>
Let’s start with the Kings Cross Library, for decades a real municipal cultural hub in a suburb not renowned for its community spirit. The Library has recently reopened after a short closure to install a pair of automatic borrowing machines, not unlike those you’ll find in your local supermarket. When I visited earlier last week I was not the only one shocked by the library’s new appearance. The once welcoming lending desk has been completely removed along with most of the friendly and chatty staff who once served behind it.
It’s like the heart and soul of the place has been ripped out and replaced with a couple of machines – admittedly easy to use but cold and foreboding. Oh yes it’s progress and even luddites like myself will eventually get used to it – but it’s all horribly impersonal. Unlike the local Coles or Woolies, where you at least have the option to boycott those horrendous self service machines, the KC library offers no choice. It’s just another portent of the world envisioned by Isaac Asimov in his book “I, Robot.” Rumour has it the Library’s own copy has been officially removed from the shelves so as not to further antagonize those unhappy with the recent changes.
In the same week that the ‘robotapocalypse’ swept through the beloved KC Library, we read that the Sydney City Council is forcing an 88 year old pensioner to change the colour of his inner city terrace, which he recently painted an eye catching blue. Not in keeping with the usual heritage colours they say, waiving their big punitive stick and the threat of some ridiculous fine. Meanwhile paint peels off surrounding terraces and buildings with graffiti daubed everywhere.
A similar scenario took place in Brougham Street in Potts Point a few years ago where one resident chose to decorate their tiny terrace with a kind of hip hop/DJ theme as part of an overall paint job. Whilst the surrounding terraces remained unloved and unpainted, their imaginative façade was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dull block of houses. It wasn’t long before this expression of urban merriment caught the stern eye of the Council and the mural disappeared overnight.
It all adds new resonance to the term ‘Council compliance’ – what you can do, more often what you can’t do and as technology asserts its robotic grip – what you are bloody well going to do – whether you like it or not!
So let’s end on a note of both total nostalgia and a warning of what might be just around the corner. Firstly, remember those wonderful days when you would present your library book at the librarian’s desk, how they would greet you cheerfully and often comment positively on the books you were borrowing. With a swift swipe of the old inky pad they would stamp the slip in the front of your book with the return date and you would leave with a glint in your eye.
So how will the new whizbang lending machines react when you return a book that is possibly way overdue? “Exterminate, exterminate, exterminate!”
By Coffin Ed.]]>
In the three years since the release of their debut album the band saw themselves rising to six on the ARIA charts and also being nominated for Best Rock Album. With debut album Microscopic Wars being so successful the band chose to return to its birthplace in Nashville to record the follow up.
“It’s like a wonderland for musicians” said Alex Laska when describing Nashville before adding “Everything there is geared towards giving musicians the opportunities to be really creative.”
Now with the new record in their bowstring the band are heading back out on the road, arriving in Sydney next Friday. For the tour they’re taking WAAX, Maddy Jane and Batz with them, all of which Alex says they first heard via Triple J’s Unearthed program.
“We’re big advocates of that program because it helped shape our career.” explained Alex, thus giving this tour the full circle feeling. To be able to provide similar opportunities to what they were given in the past by major bands to new upcoming acts is something Kingswood and Laska take great pride in.
“Grinspoon gave us a massive leg up by putting us on their tour, Living End did that for us as well. Even Stonefield put us on, they’re lovely girls for doing that and giving us the opportunity to tour Australia with them in 2012-13 when it all started for us.” reflected Alex before adding “If we can somehow give the opportunities that we had from the Unearthed program to someone that’s what it’s all about.”
With this run of shows Kingswood have been building a new live experience which Alex says is built directly “around the album” and involves a “pretty intense light show and additional players.” After putting in all this work on both the album and now the live show Alex said “We’ve been off the road for a little while and everyone is starting to get a little trigger happy and itching to head out for the most incredible Kingswood performance in the history of Kingswood.”
Mar 31, 8pm. The Metro, 624 George St, Sydney. $40.10-$61.60+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.metrotheatre.com.au]]>
Each member … Read more]]>
Each member of the trio, Donna Simpson, Vikki Thorn and Josh Cunningham, has, in the past, written alone and then brought their respective songs to the group. This time, they wanted to try collaborating on songs. It didn’t work. So once again, this Waifs album has the diversity and range of each individual songwriter’s sound, while still feeling cohesive and thematic as a whole.
The title track is an all-in, rollicking, sing-a-long with motivational lyrics, sung in turn by each band member.
“Sugar Mama” has a comic hillbilly feel, while “Syria” is solemn, sparse and very moving. There’s the rocked up “Don’t You Ever Feel” and pure country “Goodnight Li’l Cowboy” complete with yodelling.
Ironbark explains The Waifs’ longevity and suggests they’ll be around for a little while longer.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich.]]>
Created … Read more]]>
Created to help support emerging talent, Burlesque Idol is a high-energy and deliciously entertaining evening, jam packed with talent, humour and audience participation. Every show features a dazzling array of rising burlesque talents, a comedian host and a panel of judges comprised of burlesque promoters, producers, and world-renowned burlesque artists.
Expect to see some of the country’s top performers showcasing their most unique acts, especially in Sydney tonight as this is the final show before next weeks Grand Final at Penrith Panthers. From glamorous vegas-inspired showgirls, to comediennes who will have the whole room laughing, to poets, opera singers, and so much more. Burlesque Idol celebrates all forms of burlesque, creating a night as entertaining as it is enticing for it’s audience.
Returning this year as the competitions ambassador is 2016 winner Hannie Raegan, a local Sydney performer. Since winning Hannie has been a wonderful face and voice for the competition, could Sydney have winner in its midst yet again?
Mar 23, 8pm. Oxford Art Factory, 38-46 Oxford St, Darlinghurst. $25-$65+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.burlesqueidol.com.au]]>
What might that something better be you may ask? Well it brings together everything we love about this relaxing weekend kickstarter and adds in a talk by John Merrick, the author of brand new book True Stories From The Morgue.
John spent 20 years of his life working as a forensic counsellor in what he calls the “very unusual environment” of the Institute Of Forensic Medicine at The Office Of The State Coroner in Glebe, or as it’s more commonly known ‘the city morgue’.
It’s not until you read about, or even better hear these stories in person that you can truely comprehend what it’s like to work in a morgue.
Mar 25, 10:45am. 181 Harris St, Pyrmont. $5. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 7900 3831]]>
Having fast become one of Sydney’s most vibrant artistic hubs the group is swinging open the doors to their multitude of spaces this week. They will do this by creating their own cultural adventure trail so that the public can see the fantastic artistic incubator they have become and the wonderful art being produced in the spaces.
Throughout the day there will be a multitude of highlights for attendees to ensure they check out. One of these highlights is the unveiling of renowned Sydney street artist Beastman’s two storey high public mural. Some of the other highlights include William Mansfield’s multi-sensory, immersive installation, Inferno; screenings of Arcadia’s catalogue of short films and finally Artspace presenting The 15 Minute Landscape which sees a number of different artists producing painted landscapes in just 15 minutes.
The Block Party is not just for art buffs. There will be a number of food and drink stalls, music and entertainment. Finally there will also be opportunities for kids to get their hands dirty and experiment with art.
Mar 24, 5-10pm. Atchison Street, Atchison Lane and Chandos Street, St Leonards. FREE. Info: www.twtstleonards.com.au]]>
Based off of the children’s book Horrible Harriet by Leigh Hobbs the play is centred around Harriet who is wicked, wild and wonderful but what she wants more than anything is to have a friend. So when Athol Egghead lands in his hot air balloon, Harriet finally meets someone who understands her and thus the mischief begins.
This is a compelling play for children as it provides a story focusing on the search for identity and friendship, which kids can all relate to through the fun songs and jokes.
Mar 29-Apr 1, various performance times. Glen St Theatre, Cnr Glen Street, Blackbutts Rd, Belrose. $22-$85. Tickets & Info: www.glenstreet.com.au]]>
On a street corner in the quiet southern suburb of Carlton stands a vibrant blue building with a large comic style drawing … Read more]]>
On a street corner in the quiet southern suburb of Carlton stands a vibrant blue building with a large comic style drawing of a mouth covering most of one wall. The converted shop is the home of Shopfront Theatre, a youth and emerging artists cooperative that has been a safe, supportive, nurturing creative spacqe for young people in the region for over 40 years.
The shop, adjoining house and a large adjacent shed are all owned by the cooperative, providing it with a spacious theatre, a number of workshop rooms, film and recording studios, a recreational area, fully functioning kitchen and storage.
Even more impressive is the extensive range and calibre of workshops offered in Shopfront’s program: acting, writing, design, all technical aspects of theatre, film and television production, editing and more. Young people who have a career interest in film and theatre can benefit from Shopfront’s affiliation with other organisations including Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), Blacktown Arts Centre and the Way Out West Festival, with more partnerships being sought.
Yet, Shopfront is not exclusively career focused; in fact, it could be argued that is not even its greatest virtue. While government and bureaucratic organisations continue to argue about the value of the arts, Creative Producer at Shopfront, Natalie Rose is quite clear in her mind about the importance of creative facilities to a community:
“It builds confidence, especially for people who don’t really fit in at school…they can come to a new place and they can be whoever they want to be and reinvent themselves and create a whole new circle of support around them… It gives young people a voice and a chance to take ownership of their imagination, their ideas and their creativity.”
Rose has been a facilitator for 16 years and has worked with young people with disabilities as well as kids who who feel marginalised, insecure or have other social issues. Many times, parents will enrol their kids because they lack confidence or are glued to a screen. These kids may start off reluctant but “the change in a term from beginning to end is massive, and the parents will say ‘is he really talking in class?’ and we’ll say ‘yeah – he’s unstoppable!’” says Rose.
The theatre takes students as young as eight and, through their emerging artists program, can continue mentoring up to age 30. Some students have been with the Shopfront for years and have gone on to be facilitators, producers or mentors. Some of the more notable alumni include Paul Capsis, Trevor Ashley and Andrew Upton.
Shopfront also hold less formal gatherings including a movie night once a month and a weekly casual drop in where kids who need friendship and support can come and hang out.
The organisation is far from elite or elusive as they make every effort to integrate and add value.
“We do a lot of work with the community at Shopfront outside of this building. A lot of work with schools, with social workers going out to use art as a tool for social change,” explains Rose.
Nick Atkins, an actor who is currently mentoring at Shopfront, only wishes there had been such a theatre around in his day: “I missed out on Shopfront type of energy when I was young – there was nothing like this around.”
He grew up in the western suburbs which was especially devoid of creative facilities. It wasn’t until he went to university that he became interested in theatre, and because he considers that a late start, Atkins feels he is behind in his creative development.
“You need to make a lot of crap before you make the good stuff and I wish I had started doing that earlier,” he says. As for the wider relevance of entities like Shopfront, Atkins is ardent. He believes they help create cohesion and can be a safe place to work through cultural and social issues.
Facilities like Shopfront provide employment for people in creative industries such as Atkins, who might otherwise need to find unrelated work between acting opportunities. They also fill the creative void that is regrettably growing in educational institutions.
“I think schools really recognise the value of places like Shopfront. They’re often under pressure because of the nature of curriculum and class sizes etc. From my experience, schools have always been aware that they can’t deliver on the quality outcomes that places like this can,” explains Atkins.
Purely and simply, Atkins believes in “art for art’s sake,” insisting that “communities are better when there’s a lot of art in them.”
In his role as mentor, Atkins is currently working with young artist, Zack Lewin, a sixteen year old student who has just written a play which he will direct, produce and stage at the Shopfront in April this year.
For Lewin, Shopfront was an unexpected revelation. At age 12 he was forced by his parents to come to a workshop because his sister had been coming, and because he wasn’t showing interest in anything else. His initial reaction: “I’m not interested in theatre – that’s boring!” eventually transformed into “a real genuine passion for storytelling through film and performance that I never would have discovered otherwise.”
Lewin wrote his play, Star-crossed, then approached the facilitators at Shopfront about having it performed. (The theatre very much encourages students to approach staff with ideas.) He is now working with friends, teachers and professionals to make it happen.
Atkins is being a dramaturg for Lewin, coaching him through writing edits, getting him to understand characters and motivations and assisting him with directing.
“In the past I’ve had trouble with letting go of my power or using it incorrectly – I’m sort of a control freak but at the same time a total free-loader,” admits Lewin. Atkins actually sees both traits as important and is helping Lewin find a balance; and Lewin has come to appreciate the importance of collaboration.
“You can make art by yourself but it won’t be the best it can be.”
In describing how he feels about having his play performed, Lewin really sums up the value of a place like Shopfront:
“It’s a real honour, in a lot of ways. I feel really blessed to be appreciated and given this responsibility and trusted to put something on. I feel quite grateful for it.”
Shopfront Arts Co-Op. 88 Carlton Parade, Carlton. Wisit website shopfront.org.au for program and events.
Star-crossed by Zack Lewin. Apr 20-23. $10-18. Info: shopfront.org.au/star-crossed/]]>
The music on Animal Kingdom explores the complexities of the human condition through a dreamy haze which ultimately draws the listener in deeper with each and every track.
Whilst the group predominantly employs independent electro-pop elements the undertones of folk and rock often find themselves seeping to the surface. Perhaps these elements are simply ingrained in the members of Pirra from their rural roots and upbringing.
Animal Kingdom is certainly one worth checking out if your looking for a deeper meaning within your pleasant pop listening.