This week Subculture began it’s look at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival by chatting to comedians Amir Rahimzadeh and Sharon Heywood about their show Don’t Trust Me I’m A Dentist.
“Thank goodness the music was so amazing.” That was what I found myself thinking as I drove away from Rod Laver Arena having just witnessed Tool live in concert – “thank goodness that the music was amazing.”
Now some people will probably read this and think – ‘oh he isn’t a real Tool fan.’ No, not the case at all. I spent many an hour at the battle zone that was known as my High School with my headphones on listening to my Undertow and AEnima cassettes (yes I am that old) on my Walkman (yes, again I am that old).
Now to get to my point – I was expecting something very different from the stock standard concert experience when I went to Tool last night, but I think I got something very different to even what I was expecting. The music was great… actually the music was brilliant… but for most of the night it felt that the band were disconnected from their audience and it seemed to show with the audience that was there.
When we filed it the stadium it was hard to miss the huge see-through curtain that completely covered the front of the stage. As Adam Jones and Justin Chancellor strolled onto the stage and started an eerie opening to ‘Fear Inoculum’ the curtain remained… no problem it added to the atmosphere of the drawn out prog we were listening to. Then Danny Carey began his work and still the curtain remained, then came the man himself Maynard James Keenan but the curtain remained, then it remained for songs like ‘AEnema,’ ‘The Patient’ and ‘Parabola.’
Maybe it was just for me but with the curtain down for so long it felt like I was disconnected from the band. I was loving the music but at the same time I was getting that connection with the band that I normally get when watching a live show. I loved watching the images that was being able to be projected onto the curtain but I think I would trade that any day of the week for that connection that I love so much. Adding to that was the fact that Keenan was positioned at the back of the stage, even further back than the drums, and normally not lit up. On one hand I like the ‘voice from the dark’ concept as it puts the focus on the rest of the band and not just the singer but at the same time it also made me feel a little off.
On the night someone defended it by saying ‘that’s just Tool they hate the scene.’ I can accept that but at the same time they enjoy the scene enough to take the cash of the people turning up to watching the show. And I don’t think I was the only one feeling the disconnection as people from our row seemed to be constantly getting up to take toilet breaks and grab more drinks, I think I stood up for people more times last night then I did in a whole year of shows at Rod Laver last year. Oh and you should have heard the roar from the audience when the damn curtain was finally raised.
Okay, that is the negative out of the way – now let’s get to the positives. Tool was bloody amazing!!! Musically, this is a band at the top of their game. There were times last night when I closed my eyes and let the music just carry me off as Jones and Chancellor’s magic figures delivered amazing pieces of music that shows why Tool are one of the greats. As they mixed and matched what they did along with some very experimental work from Carey on tracks like ‘Chocolate Chip Trip.’ I realised that when it comes to prog Tool are well and truly up there with the greats of the genre like The Butterfly Effect and Pink Floyd.
Aside from that proggy style that I love so much nobody matches Tool when they get to their more gritty music either. That guttural bass of Chancellor takes over and it is like the crowd goes into a trance as the amazing light and visual show combine to go to a whole new level. Add that to the crowd reaction to a track like ‘Stinkfist’ and yes despite some of the negatives something magical happened last night.
I know it sounds weird to say that last night was a great concert after I whined about some negatives, but believe me it was. Trust me if the music hadn’t been so out of this world I would have left in a bad mood due to the amount of sitting and standing thanks to the weak bladders in my row, but that certainly wasn’t the case – instead I left in awe of a band that made my teenage years bearable… thanks guys.
Summary: Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity whilst living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th February 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: Canada, United States
Director: Robert Eggers
Screenwriter: Robert Eggers, Max Eggers
Cast: Willem Dafoe (Thomas Wake), Logan Hawkes (Ephraim Winslow), Valeriia Karaman (Mermaid), Robert Pattinson (Thomas Howard)
Running Time: 109 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
Dave Griffiths Review
Kyle McGrath’s Review
Average Subculture Rating:
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Summary: After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th February 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 6th February 2020
Australian DVD Release Date: Out Now
Country: United States, United Kingdom
Director: Cathy Yan
Screenwriter: Christina Hodson
Cast: Charlene Amoia (Maria Bertinelli), K.K. Barrett (Dr.Aguilar), Ella Jay Basco (Cassandra Cain), Guiesppe Bucaro (Carlos Rossi), David Anthony Buglione (Joe Bertinelli), Robert Cattrini (Stefano Galante), Francois Chhau (Mr. Keo), Dan Cole (Officer Timm), Dana Lee (Doc), Michael Masini (Officer Drago), Miyuki Matsunaga (Mrs. Keo), Lenora May (Mrs. Marcucci), Ewan McGregor (Roman Sionis), Chris Messina (Victor Zsasz), Ella Mika (Young Helena), Anna Mikami (Miss Keo), Ego Mikitas (Don), Anthony Molinari (Mafiosi), Sara Montez (Kathrine), Bojana Novakovic (Erika), Bruno Oliiver (Sal), Rosie Perez (Renee Montoya), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Greica Santo (Crystal), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Dinah Lance/Black Canary), Steven Williams (Captain Patrick Erickson), Matthew Willig (Happy), Derek Wilson (Tim Evans), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Helena Bertienlli/The Huntress), Ali Wong (Ellen Yee)
Running Time: 109 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia) 18 (Thailand)
Dave Griffiths Review:
Creating a spin-off to the much maligned Suicide Squad film of 2016 was always thwart with danger. Yes the Director’s Cut was ten times better than the theatrical release but sadly after the bad experience of the original not many people wanted to part with hard earned cash to take a chance on the re-working.
Now that Suicide Squad curse seems to be tarnishing Birds Of Prey before it is even released. The film hadn’t even opened before some people were proudly boasting that they were going to give it a big miss. But are the negative comments geared towards the film warranted? I would have to say after sitting down to watch the film – they are not.
Aside from the fact the film features the intelligent but clearly psychopathic Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie – Wolf Of Wall Street) comparing Birds Of Prey to Suicide Squad is like comparing chalk and cheese. Where Suicide Squad revealed a cheesy side Birds Of Prey takes the lead from its DC counterpart Joker and delivers a more hard-edged film complete with adult language and violence that is certainly not suitable for children.
Here we find a Harley Quinn who has settled into her new state of madness. Her world is rocked though when she and Joker go through a bad break-up. Now alone Quinn finds herself unprotected and suddenly even criminal low-life in Gotham wants her dead – led by the vicious and cruel Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor – Trainspotting). Also attracting the attention of an arrow-for-hire hit-woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead – 10 Cloverfield Lane) and the down-beaten Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez – Fearless) Quinn soon finds herself needing the protection of the deadly Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell – Underground).
For the most part the film does hold up and is an entertaining action film enhanced by the acting talents of the Oscar nominated Margot Robbie. The film is at its best though when it embraces its hard-edge. Scenes such as the one where Sionis is torturing a family for information is what sets DC apart from Marvel, likewise the early fight scenes involving Quinn and Lance which capture the same violence of John Wick have the audience on the edge of their seat.
Add to the that the suspense of never knowing whether Quinn will keep helping young pick-pocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco – Veep) while she is danger or eventually turn her over to claim the bounty, and the genuine comedic moments produced by Quinn’s madness and you are on the way to a pretty decent film.
Despite the moments of true enjoyment throughout the film Birds Of Prey does find a way to trip itself up. Like Suicide Squad there are moments when the film dips into that cheesiness that just doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. You could probably over look it more if it didn’t occur during one of the key fight scenes – what should be one of the most memorable scenes of the entire film becomes laughable as the stars battle it out in an overly choreographed fight sequence that almost feels like it needs the cheesy ‘POW’ and ‘BIFF’ text of the 1960s Batman series to appear after each punch or kick.
It is a shame that scene exists because it seems to stay with you after you leave the cinema and spoils what otherwise would have been a film that may have sparked a lot more interest in what DC plan on doing with these characters down the line. The fact that DC haven’t learnt that it is that kind of cheesiness and the sudden introduction of an influx of characters (as happens here with Huntress) is hard to fathom… especially in the same week they saw Joker score Oscar glory.
To sum up Birds Of Prey is a more than serviceable film. The performances of Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor do allow the film to occasionally have an edge to it. The events of the film also did make you curious enough to wonder where the storylines involving the actual Birds Of Prey team that form during the film may lead to the future, but the film also dangerously lets itself down with one badly played scene that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It is obvious what DC needs to do – they need to take stock of people liked about this film and take that on board for all future endeavours or else they are destined to keep making the same mistakes over and over.
Kyle McGrath’s Review
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The red carpets have been rolled away and the gowns are back on their hangers. The Academy Awards are won and done for another year, and while film journalists right around the world have dissected and discussed every winner, every nomination there is something that has become crystal clear in the wash up, this year might be the year where the Oscars finally see a change occur that is long overdue.
On the surface it appears that change may have already occurred, but has it? Read most of the headlines the morning after this year’s Oscars and they all labelled the fact that South Korean film Parasite won Best Picture as the dawn of a new time in Hollywood, a time when films from right around the world now have more than a slight chance of walking away with the top Oscars on Academy Awards night.
But is that really the case? Let’s call it for what it is – the Oscars for a long time now have been a celebration of American films, not a celebration for international films like many would have believed. Yes there has been a Best Foreign Language section for awhile now but that always felt like a token award because if you really scratched under the surface you would find that filmmakers had to hurdle over each other to even earn a nomination. That award is now known as the Best International Feature Film Award which does make more sense given that even films from English speaking countries outside of America could also be nominated in the category, but that still doesn’t fix the biggest problem of all with the category.
Isn’t the fact that there is even a Best International Feature Film Award part of the problem? After all the Academy Awards are supposed to be a celebration of film – yet the mere fact that there is a Best International category means there is an instant separation from the American films also in the running for awards. That divide becomes even wider when you realise that in order for a film to be considered in the Best International Feature Film Award that film has to be submitted by the country where it originated. That’s right if a country like Thailand makes two great movies in one year – tough luck only one can be selected. America on the other hand can have as many films nominated as they wish.
When you consider the great films that have come out of countries like France and Germany over the years that ‘one film submission’ rule seems like a joke, but perhaps the biggest losers because of the rule this year were Thailand and Australia.
Thailand’s submission to the category this year was Sitisiri Mongolsiri’s Krasue: Inhuman Kiss while Australia’s submission was Buoyancy a film shot in Thailand with all the actors coming from Cambodia and Thailand. Neither film ended up making the short list of nominations for the actual Best International Award, but it is here where the murkiness of the Award are exposed.
To receive its submission Buoyancy defeated The Nightingale, there is nothing wrong with that but when you look at how both films were received by other Award ceremonies and by critics you see just how unfair it was that both films couldn’t be in the running for the major award.
Buoyancy explores the human rights issue of young Cambodians being forced to work as slaves in the Thai fishing industry which meant it was a powerful film that received a lot of praise. The film won awards at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Awards (AACTA) as well as earning awards in Mumbai, Berlin and Oslo. On the other hand The Nightingale looked at the harshness of living in colonial Tasmania including the brutal murders of the local Aboriginal people. Like Buoyancy it also received a lot of five star reviews and found itself winning a plethora of awards including six AACTAs and eight Australian Film Critics Association Awards. There is little argument that both were great films and should have equally had the right to be nominated for Best International Film yet somehow weren’t.
If you dig a little deeper the whole divide between how American cinema and International films at the Oscars became even wider. If Parasite was in the end considered such a great film by the Academy then how come none of its cast found themselves nominated for Best Actor or Best Actress? That point was also not lost on fans of the film Buoyancy who wondered why actors Sarm Heng and Thailand’s Thanawut Kasro didn’t receive nominations despite being praised world-wide for their intense roles in the film.
The host of popular film podcast The Popcorn Conspiracy Kyle McGrath recently talked about Kasro’s Oscar snub and said. “When you look at the performances in Buoyancy and you take the performance of Thanawut Kasro in the role of a Supporting Actor he was miles ahead of where Brad Pitt was in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. That is not to say that Brad Pitt didn’t deserve it but if I was going to pick between those two actors who gave the better performance it would have been Thanawut Kasro over Brad Pitt, but with the way it works at the moment perhaps it needs a little bit more work on how the voting system works.”
Will that voting system ever change? I guess the best answer to give to that question is – perhaps. Certainly Parasite doing so well may open up more opportunities for Asian cinema right around the world. Even in the past few months it has been interesting to see how many cinema lovers around the world have been eagerly anticipating the release of The Cave (another film that Thanawut Kasro appears in), but for international films to finally receive the recognition that they deserve it is time for the Oscars to place all films on a level playing field no matter what country they come from rather than it just be a celebration of American cinema like it is now.
The 23rd Moro Spanish Film Festival presented by Palace returns in April with a flick of the flamenco heel and toothpicks for our pinchos to celebrate cinema from Spain and Latin America.
The following six titles are our first sneak peak into the curated programme which will screen nationally from 21 April exclusively at Palace Cinemas.
From Spain, the selection includes:
Oscar-winner Alejandro Amenábar’s exposé of the 1936 Spanish coup WHILE AT WAR (Mientras dure la Guerra). Filmed across Spain and Argentina, it reveals the personal side of politics through the eyes of writer Miguel de Unamuno.
Trapped inside a small apartment where hidden secrets slowly rise to the surface, THE PLAN (El plan) sees three friends forced to confront revealing truths in this biting comedy featuring Spanish stars Antonio de la Torre and Raúl Arévalo.
THE EUROPEANS (Los europeos) stars Award-winning actors Raúl Arévalo and Juan Diego Botto in an unforgettable romantic holiday adventure set in the wild world of 1950’s Ibiza, where dreams sometimes carry a sting in the tail.
And the dream of home ownership takes an unexpected turn in ONE CAREFUL OWNER (El inconveniente)
when a young woman must wait for a property’s current elderly owner to die in this offbeat tale of women’s friendship.
From Latin America comes:
HEROIC LOSERS (La Odisea de los Giles) the number one Argentinian film of 2019! Heroic Losers is a homespun Ocean’s 11 featuring superstar Ricardo Darín and his son Chino in a comedy heist rich in local colour and unforgettable characters.
And highlighting the Australian-Spanish connection is LATIGO in which Australian comic and filmmaker Simon Palomares visits Cuba to reveal the universal joy of laughter in a film heralded as “The Buena Vista Social Club of comedy!”
The festival will take place nationally from 21 April to 17 May in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane, Hobart and Byron Bay.
Sydney 21 Apr – 10 May: Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona & Palace Central.
Canberra 22 Apr – 10 May: Palace Electric Cinema.
Melbourne 23 Apr – 10 May: The Astor Theatre, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Westgarth, The Kino and Palace Balwyn.
Adelaide 28 Apr – 17 May: Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas.
Perth 29 Apr – 17 May: Palace Cinema Paradiso.
Brisbane 29 Apr – 17 May: Palace James Street and Palace Barracks.
Hobart 30 Apr – 6 May: State Cinema.
Byron Bay 30 Apr – 13 May: Palace Byron Bay.
For updates and more information, visit www.spanishfilmfestival.com and join the mailing list or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: #SPANISHFILMFEST
“Hot Mess was inspired by my own head spin of a crisis, and once the dust settled, it became of deep importance to me to tell what I recognised as a very generational tale,” says writer, director and producer Lucy Coleman of her alternately gut-busting and heartbreaking debut feature film. “Growing up in a fervent time of unearthing your most gutsy feminist self, it can be an awkward and embarrassing paradox, when the road gets rocky and you feel like you’re ready to throw it all away for a guy and a false sense of stability.”
Funny, sweet, charming, rambunctious, and blushingly candid, Hot Mess is the utterly contemporary tale of 25-year-old Loz (Sarah Gaul), a wannabe writer who seems intent on sabotaging her own success. Tipped to receive a coveted writer-in-residence gig with a cutting- edge theatre group, the talented Loz continues to offend the artistic director (played by Terry Serio), by coming up with graphic and confronting feminist-minded material. Discouraged by her disapproving mum (Zoe Carides), the hopelessly adrift Loz sees an unlikely saviour in the form of Dave (Marshall Campbell), a nice guy who might just be the solution to her permanently messed up love life. But is he too good to be true?
“Hot Mess is a mid-twenties coming-of-age tale of going about love, career and self-fulfilment all the wrong way,” laughs Lucy Coleman.
Packed with vibrant, honest performances and all-too-real characters caught up in the kind of emotional tripwires that anyone in the audience could recognise, Hot Mess announces a deft and original writing and directing talent in Lucy Coleman and a one-of-a-kind on-screen presence in Sarah Gaul. It’s a fresh and funny charmer, announcing a talented filmmaker and performer who you will be hearing a lot more from in the future.
Hot Mess is available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Fetch TV and YouTube now.