Rolling Stone Australia ...
Book Review: ‘The ...
A Wilde rollercoaster ...
Cat Power a ...
Laurie Anderson delivers ...
Future Classics deliver ...
After the first Hangover film featured a baby in tow – adding more chaos to our bad lads’ stack of troubles, and with the second having featured a cheeky monkey, I would have liked to have seen the third (and supposedly final) of the popular franchise incorporating a genuine canine into ‘The Wolfpack’. A cute puppy would have done it. Then they could have called the flick The Hangover III: Hair Of The Dog. Genius!
Indeed, there are no cutesy animal shenanigans in the latest Hangover instalment but instead in-yer-face animal cruelty. The opening scene sees loveable dumb-ass Alan (Zack Galifianakis) proudly towing a giant, real-life giraffe along a freeway when – whoopsies – the creature’s tall neck whacks into a bridge and its head gets torn off only to land smack-bang on the windscreen of an unsuspecting driver.
Sure, it’s likely that no animal was actually hurt in the making of the movie (thank you CGI) but the lack of sentiment is certainly evident and we’re pretty sure animal activist groups like PETA and the RSPCA would be up in arms about it all. But it has to be said, the scene – although somewhat sickening – is very, very funny.
Once you get past the anti-animalia antics (there’s also a scene where ‘cocaine-addled’ roosters are abruptly handled), audiences should find the endless escapades in The Hangover Part III well worth the laugh – a laugh for every cent of the admission price, practically.
The topsy-turvy plot sees evil criminal Chow (introduced to us in the first movie) escaping from an Asian prison, all Shawshank Redemption-style, only to end up in Mexico with a request sent out to gullible Alan to meet him south of the border to “catch up”.
In reality, what Chow wants to do is con the Wolfpack into committing his dirty crimes for him.
What follows is a cat-and-mouse game that sees the boys ending up in Vegas once more, pathetically trying to get into famed Caesar’s Palace from the roof so as to nab Chow and bring him to justice (it’s either that or death to one of their friends by a hefty Mafioso played perfectly by John Goodman).
Yes, all the usual suspects are here, including blue-eyed, butter-wouldn’t-melt Phil (Bradley Cooper) who pretty much instigates the whole thing by suggesting that Alan be sent to a retreat for rehabilitation (of course they’re detoured), and dodgy dentist Stu (Ed Helms) who gets his hands on enough illegally prescribed drugs that even Chow can sniff them from across a smoky karaoke room.
Familiar and predictable in parts? Sure. But that’s why audiences love comedies like this. We see the gag coming but just don’t think the guys on the big screen will actually do it. In The Hangover Part III the dumb dudes do it again and again. And again.
The Hangover Part III is in cinemas now.
Click on the image top of story to view the trailer.
When it comes to reading up about the best of classic and up-and-coming music artistry, Cream would regularly turn to two publications, one on either side of the Atlantic. For British music and pop culture, we’d peruse The Face – now sadly defunct but, oh, how we’re glad we’ve kept every single copy for posterity’s sake.
For American, we’d turn to the ever-trusty Rolling Stone magazine.
The fact that the Australian edition of Rolling Stone recycled some of its big US brother’s content didn’t faze us too much, since the bulk of the mag has always honed in on excellent Aussie music.
Now, to celebrate four decades of the title in Oz, 150 of the greatest covers spanning four decades of Rolling Stone Australia will be touring the country and can be first seen at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum from this Saturday 20 April to Sunday 7 July 2013.
With the ever-so familiar masthead, designed by psychedelic artist Rick Griffin, and stunning photography by international luminaries like Annie Leibovitz and local pixmen, the collection is as much a museum-like experience as it is a pop cultural trainspotting exercise.
Cover features include Midnight Oil, Blondie, Madonna, Michael Hutchence, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Bono, The Beatles and even a naked-and-chained Miranda Kerr.
The exhibition is free.
For more information visit www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/museum.
I’m not usually one for self-improvement books. Never been one to ‘pay’ for a makeover or any kind of self-improvement. That said, I have taken a pinch of this philosophy and that, combining them to make them my own, so when a book comes along that blends a variety of DIY improvement techniques – mainly in the arena of positive thinking – I’ll give it a read. Possibly even apply it to my life.
The One by Nick P. Smith does just that: melding various modern texts of positive thought. Indeed, it’s kind of like The Secret meets The Celestine Prophecy, Buddhist teachings blended with Catholic “do unto others” offerings, and How To Win Friends And Influence People meets You’re OK, I’m OK. The book covers numerous spiritual concepts – from karma to meditation to affirmation-making – but in a nutshell, what it teaches is that we are all connected to same vibrating atoms – only we vibrate at a different pace to everything around us, from our pets to our furniture to electrical appliances (yes, but whether you believe in God or the Big Bang, the proposition is indeed credible).
Due to this connectivity, anything we ‘put out there’ ought to be positive, because in turn this will attractive positive reactions. That said, it’s not all rosy and Smith does address that knock-backs will inevitably incur, but suggests we look at these as ultimately leading us to more positive positions in life.
From treating others as you’d like to be treated, to thinking positive thoughts via mantra and affirmation, there’s a lot from everywhere in this book.
On a personal note, a couple of major issues have already risen since I’ve finished reading the book but I’ve found that instead of looking at these obstacles in a pessimistic manner, I’m looking at the positive side – and solutions are coming out of this more sensible approach!
In a nutshell, I’d say the holistic positive-thinking approach that The One preaches is a valuable one. Stick with its teachings, and you’re bound to experience changes like I have. And best of all, you don’t have to act like a hippy! Smith, himself, refers to a lot of personal material gain, while also focusing on bettering the spiritual self.
The One is published through Pan Macmillan, RRP $22.99.
Phenomenal as it might seem, this scribe once slept in the very room Oscar Wilde died in. Apparently it’s also actor Johnny Depp’s favourite room to stay in. Situated in a small establishment – aptly called ‘L’otel’ on the Left Bank of Paris, the room has since been redecorated to resemble an over-the-top version of its former self – peacock printed wallpaper not in 2D but in 3D-like paper papier mache, so thick it’s as though the birds themselves are coming off the walls (Wilde did make a comment about the gauche wallpaper in his last dying words).
Noticing a taxidermed peacock on the stage of the Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of The Importance Of Being Earnest, and seeing that the other elements of mis-en-scene in all their decadent glory (more of that bird-print wallpaper, delicate tea sets, thickly upholstered armchairs), I couldn’t help but be thrown back to the sensation I felt in that small French hotel room. Indeed, Earnest is probably Oscar Wilde’s most famous play, and when it comes to recreating classics, a theatre company ought to either strip it back and keep it simple, or go three-fold with the aesthetics so as to really make a grand statement. Thankfully, Black Swan have done the latter, staying true to Wilde’s adage that “in matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing”.
Each character is like a caricature of Edwardian decency (or indecency as is much of the case), not least of all the two male leads in the production, Algernon (Scott Sheridan) and Jack (Stuart Halusz), who both adopt pseudo-personalities so as to impress the objects of their affection. Both take on the name ‘Earnest’ – which their leading ladies simply adore the sound of – yet both possess conniving characteristics that are far from sincere.
Jack proposes to Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen (Jenny Davis) just as Algernon is falling for Jack’s ward Cecily (Adriane Duff). Meanwhile, Gwendolen’s mother – the very strict Lady Bracknell (Rebecca Davis) – is doing her darnedest to see through the façade and ensure her niece is not taken for a ride.
The dialogue is fast-paced and witty, packed with a brand of innuendo that, if considered somewhat risqué today, would have been outrageous in its own day. The costumes – by Lynn Ferguson – are a treasure trove of colour, although not as bold as those seen in previous incarnations of this production, while the set design – by Alicia Clements – is a spectacular series of decadent colour including two amazing 30-foot murals of floral arrangements constructed for the outdoor garden scenes.
Black Swan’s The Importance Of Being Earnest is a masterful production that ought to appeal to fans of the cheeky playwright even if they have seen several versions of it before. As for novices to Oscar Wilde’s naughty literature, it’ll prove a delightful eye- and ear-opener.
Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest is on at the State Theatre Centre until 28th March. Bookings through Ticketek on 1300 795 012 or visit www.ticketek.com.au.
Photography by Gary Marsh.
Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power (41 years old) has had a chequered history of alcohol abuse, broken relationships and psychiatric episodes.
Fresh from the break-up of a long-term relationship with Gangster Squad actor, Giovanni Ribisi, and with the release of her new album, Sun, she appeared on stage this week as part of the Perth International Arts Festival.
Model-esque in her studio portraits, Cat Power is actually pint-sized on stage, dressed in black jeans and a black plain tee while sporting a new platinum blonde, choppy haircut (a declaration to her metamorphosis, maybe?).
The singer started off with The Greatest, a powerful and tragic tune with raw vocals and a tempo that continues to build until a crashing conclusion. Nonetheless it proved a hypnotising opener.
She quickly belted out three songs back to back sometimes seeming a little disorientated while clinging to two mics and avoiding interaction with the crowd but wooing them with her feline essence.
Manhattan – one of the better tracks on her new album – was a disappointment as Cat seemed to lose time and missed the harmonies. The song could have had the entire house out of their seat, but the artist appeared somewhat disoriented in her delivery. After trying to compose herself, she quickly called a band conference onstage, then began chatting to her head technician all the while leaving her audience in deft silence.
Returning focused – finally – and after whispering a few apologies, she proceeded to serenade the crowd with that haunting and ethereal voice once more.
The lead guitarist polarised us with his handy work – sharp, skilled and gifted. He rotated between guitar, electric piano and harmonica while Cat continued to enamor the crowd, clutching those two mics and twisting and wiggling in her skin.
During a darkened stage, with the spotlights on her back and singing in a French tongue, the audience finally seemed totally engulfed in her power.
In all, Cat Power delivered a soulful, gritty and raw performance while enrapturing us with her raspy, velvet voice. A little wobbly on her feet and apologetic at times, still she managed to belt out 19 tracks then left the crowd while handing out roses to rousing applause. Despite the couple of hiccups, it would be well worth seeing this girl again.
The multi-talented electronica musician Laurie Anderson is renowned for bringing performance art to the mainstream and popular culture to the avant garde, so when it comes to international arts festivals, the woman fits right in. Add to her already larger-than-life, esoteric persona, four musicians of the classical-goes-experimental kind in the form of the Kronos Quartet, and the audience could only expect strange results.
At last night’s performance of Landfall – a series of original scores by Laurie Anderson and the Kronos Quartet – in the fairly conservative surrounds of the Perth Concert Hall, it seemed some of the stranger elements of the show moved several audience members to the edge of their seats; some even seen squirming. There were moments when Anderson’s own invention of an instrument – the tape-bow violin, which utilises recorded magnetic tape in the bow instead of the usual horsehair – seemed to compete too strongly with the Kronos players’ somewhat more traditional instruments.
There was also much use of another of Anderson’s inventions – the talking stick – which transforms her voice from saccharinely sarcastic to brooding, masculine and ever-more deadpan.
This was an innovative performance where synthesisers and string instruments interweaved with one another, occasionally verging on cacophony, but it was Anderson’s spoken word delivery of personal tales that truly captured the crowd. She spoke in equally ironic manner but with matter-of-fact gestures about having been caught in the recent great hurricane of New York, and of backward discoveries in far-out villages of the developing world. All the while, random words – and often full profound sentences – would flash up on a massive screen behind her, for the most part peppered with deconstructed typography that looked as though a kind of virus had infected her power-point display. Indeed, Anderson’s most famous credo, that Language Is A Virus, was taken to a new level.
It is a principle the artist has always injected into her performances, on both the aural level and the visual front. Sadly, though, fans expecting to hear familiar songs such as O Superman, Born But Never Asked or Strange Angels, didn’t have those wishes fulfilled.
Instrumentation by classical music’s answer to the Fab Four married with Laurie Anderson’s own discography? Now that’s a show we’d love to hear and see next time.
Photograph by Kevin Kennfick.
Few record labels still press vinyl. Few deserve to, come to think of it. But Future Classics, the Sydney-based but universally renowned label is proud to still be making records the old-school way. Of course, it also delivers its compilations in CD format, and if you search the net hard, you’ll find some very special Future Classics mixes to be had.
But here’s something that was truly fresh for us: seeing a handful of key Future Classics artists perform live on the same stage. Last Saturday night, as part of the Perth International Arts Festival, the Chevron Festival Gardens proved the perfect spot to hear a variety of their brilliant electronic acts.
Outfits who delivered the coolest of underground beats and some very smooth vocals included Flight Facilities, the Aussie duo combining trippy electro-pop with lounge-y piano; Panama, with their firm nod to ’80s world synth music; Mitzi (who, ironically, we heard being played on Triple J on our way to this gig); Scenic, one of Perth’s finest purveyors of chill soundtracks; along with a couple of trusty Future Classics DJs.
What really surprised us at this event was the quality of the engineering across the board. Because of the lack of ‘competing beats next door’ that you might get when attending other outdoor festivals (like the Big Day Out or, indeed, forthcoming Future Music), each act here had the blessing of being heard in their own right: clear as day and with excellent acoustics.
We just wish there was a bar somewhere within those makeshift walls – so that we didn’t have to keep missing out on quality tunes to exit and get our top-ups of Chardy.
For more of what’s on at the Perth International Arts Festival, click here.
There are two things we look forward to when visiting Melbourne. The first being the hospitality: all those colourful coffee shops, small bars and restaurants, each decked out so uniquely, and – on that aesthetic note – the rawness of the city’s streetscape: tiny alleyways whose walls are decorated by bold graffiti, and long strips like Acland and Chapel Streets, dotted with must-try eateries and the coolest of giftware stores and fashion boutiques.
So when a book comes along, like Flavours Of Urban Melbourne, that combines the art, the culture, the food and broad spectrum of personalities that make up one of Australia’s most multicultural cities, we’re fairly certain it’s going to get the thumbs-up.
Brought to you by Smudge Books, the same publishing house that released Flavours Of Melbourne last year, this decidedly more urbane version of what-do-to-where in the Victorian capital is a must-read before taking your next trip there. And if you happen to be a local, you’ll love the sheer volume of familiar, fabulous haunts referenced throughout.
The culinary and artistic journey kicks off with a little history of Melbourne, from early dwellings beside the Yarra River to sprawling suburbs, each now equipped with their own distinctive watering holes and chow houses.
From St Kilda, south of the city, to northside Brunswick, Footscray in the west to Toorak in the east, all the best venues Melbourne has to boast are presented here in glorious colour and seductive prose. And it’s not just the posh venues written up about: but the full spectrum of hospitality, from the humble and most affordable, to the lavish and expensive.
So whether its sushi or a pizza, a six-course Asian degustation or a couple of inventive cocktails you’re after, check this culinary bible before stepping out onto the proverbial tiles in Melbourne city and its vibrant suburban surrounds.
Flavours Of Urban Melbourne is available in hardcover through Smudge Publishing, RRP $70 from quality bookstores.
In my books, there are two types of drag queen. There’s your more common variety, who does it for show, to be spotted in bars that pepper Oxford Street, Sydney, often from midnight to dawn, by which time they might be found in the gutter behind bars like The Flinders and The Beresford. And then there’s your professional performer who lives to entertain, dresses up to get paid, and occasionally goes beyond the usual lip-synching routine to actually sing! It’s the latter category that the talent of Trevor Ashley falls into.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ashley perform in several shows during various Mardi Gras festivals, and much of the public might have witnessed him in massive productions that have toured the country, including his role as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, and a spot in Priscilla: The Musical.
But it’s when Ashley appears on stage solo that his talent truly shines and there is no diva he channels better than Liza Minnelli.
In Liza (On An E), Ashley blends the pomp and circumstance of Minnelli’s superstar persona and his own avid passion of singing. His voice, in fact, is so akin to that of Minnelli’s that you’d think there was a bit of surgery involved. Alas, it’s all real.
While the singing side of it is very much ‘one-man-show’, Ashley is accompanied by no less than seven orchestral players who fill in the fife and brass bits brilliantly. He does demand, however, that the lighting engineer keeps the spotlight securely on him and him only – as only an avid diva could.
Liza (On An E) traverses Minnelli’s discography, from her memorable hits from Cabaret, through standards such as New York, New York, to rare studio recordings, and even one of the gems she recorded with camp electronic duo, the Pet Shop Boys.
Ashley puts so much heart and soul in his performance that by the end of it you see the proverbial blood (Minnelli’s sangue boiling through his), sweat (running all down his face), and tears (what the performer’s mascara ends up looking like – purposely, of course).
And just when the audience is being blown away at how uncanny Ashley’s version of Liza is, he suddenly begins channelling the singer’s very mother – Judy Garland – to deliver a torchsong vocal that sends shivers down even the hardest of spines.
Although this production is part of the current Fringe World Festival on in Perth, it really deserves a position on a bigger stage, such is the quality of the performance. But audiences will agree that the intimate setting of the De Parel Spiegeltent is far more enjoyable than seeing this sequin cat-suited, pixie-haired performer from a distance. That said, it’s a must-see.
Liza (On An E) is on at the De Parel Spiegeltent, Perth Cultural Centre until Saturday 16th February, from 8.15pm each night. Tickets are $45 available through www.fringeworld.com.au.
Photography by John Macrae.
I remember as a teenager, I ached to stand out of the generic dress-coded crowd – everyone in blue jeans, usually ripped, and orange or lime tops, for back then – the late 1980s – those were the colours palmed off to the masses. I remember shopping frantically at stores like Wheels & Dolls Baby, El Dorado and Subway DC, in search of t-shirts that would “say something” but alas could only find a few so had to make some of my own.
Fast forward to 2013 and slogan t-shirts are not only universally common, a postmodern DIY philosophy allows us to emblazon our tees with just about anything we bloody well want. Hop online and you can shop at either outlets that have ready-made unique-like tees (only so far as there’s such an immense variety of them) on sites such as Threadless (t-shirts start at $9.95 here), or you could visit design-it-yourself e-stores like Vistaprint and get just about anything printed on cloth for around five bucks (with about the same cost for the postage to your door).
Currency in slogan tees has changed dramatically. Where once it cost upward of $50 for a decent t-shirt (and that’s not even considering the expensive likes of Vivienne Westwood and Katherine Hamnett), now you can have anything feature on a tee for under 10 dollars. Basically, then, there’s absolutely no excuse not to have an original wardrobe these days…
But I digress, the real purpose of this article is to praise the vivid new coffee table book Slogan T-Shirts: Cult And Culture. Collated by freelance stylist and creative consultant Stephanie Talbot, the book looks at the t-shirt as medium of pertinent modern messages. It canvases everything from the hey-day of hippydom (the late 1960s) and punk (the ’70s) through to the outlandishly bold ’80s and today’s loose, illustratively-heavy t-shirt designs.
Indeed, the book kicks off with commentary of the juxtaposing use of images of Osama Bin Laden in 2002, where the writer sees the despot’s face on tees on punters at markets in Ghana – splashed with the words “I heart Bin Laden”, then weeks later the same portrait on clubbers in London, albeit stamped with the one word – “Wanted”. This social dissonance is the main thrust of Slogan T-Shirts: Cult And Culture, where one man’s message sent might mean something altogether different to the person reading it.
So keep this in mind next time you want to make a “statement” with your t-shirt, folks.
Slogan T-Shirts: Cult And Culture is published through Bloomsbury, RRP $35.00.
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