Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miley Cyrus And That Fucking Tongue

I know there are serious issues to talk about like Syria and which of The Two Knuckleheads will become our new Prime Minister, but my newest fascination is with Miley Cyrus and that fucking tongue. She has apparently been doing this for years. Does she really think it's her best look? Has she not seen the millions of photos of her and her tongue and not thought maybe I shouldn't do this quite so often?

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Perhaps she is afflicted.

Or perhaps it's about time she just put that fucking thing away.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Reviews: St Clarity by Paper Kites, Waste Of Time by MØ and Tim Winton's The Turning

Looking for what's hot in new music? Look here at Soot mag. A bunch of reviews by me. My faves are probably St Clarity by Paper Kites and Waste Of Time by Mø.

It was such a funny thing, but I was asked if I want to do a few quick music reviews and I said yeah sure, I used to do these things all the time. Then when it came to doing it, I just couldn't. I actually told the editor sorry, no can do. I totally choked. There was just nothing there.

The editor said just give it a go. I understand this attitude because I often don't get how people can't write. I've often encouraged people to write. Writing is just thinking out loud, through your fingertips. But in this case I really felt like I'd forgotten how to do it. I mean, I liked the music, but what do you say about it?

Anyway, because she expected something I gave it another go and suddenly it came back to me. I really enjoyed it. It re-awakened my love of new music. And it made me realise that aside from psytrance, I haven't really kept up to date with new music for quite a while. And I love it. I love new music more than I love wine, and I love wine a LOT.

I also loved writing my first movie review. The Turning by Tim Winton is a bit of a masterpiece. Like, a three hour stunner of a masterpiece. The review is actually 17 movie reviews, because the whole thing is made up of 17 short film adaptations of Winton's short story collection. I've never been a big fan of Tim Winton's but this movie makes me want to read the book.

Hmm. Why does 17 stories ring bells?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fewer Emergencies, Elbow Room, Owl & Pussycat

Fewer Emergencies

Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

Fewer Emergencies marks a break in tradition for theatre company Elbow Room in that it is the first time they have performed a play not created within the company. With tight performances and minimal set design, it packs a punch; I think Irish playwright Martin Crimp would be happy with this production.

An hour in length, Fewer Emergencies is three acts looking at dysfunctional lives. It's all pretty straightforward – a husband, wife and child and their regrets; a mass murderer at a school shooting; and the same couple in the first act, later in life, at the edge of the world with their distant son trapped in a dire situation they cannot help him out of.

It's a disturbing trio of stories not told in a traditional story-telling way. The psyche is given voice here – or voices – so that the dialogue is not simply the dialogue that the actors speak but also the dialogue of the mind. The stories unfold in lyrical layers so that from the start the audience is engaged, and you wonder what, exactly, is going on here. Possibly it's an exploration of how much of what we say is actually how much is going on.

All is not well in the worlds of our tight-knit team of characters, played by Dean Cartmel, Emily Tomlins, Edwina Samuels and artistic director Marcel Dorney. The dialogue overlaps and repeats to create a dream-like quality. In the school shooting act, it's a brutal dream. We get into the mind of the shooter, and as you'd expect, it's a troubled mind. This act was played mostly in darkness, and there was an explosive vibe in the air. Amazing what you can achieve with a good actor, a few boxes and a torch. Although dream-like, it felt very real and quite harrowing. It appeared to be a time after the event, as though he was re-enacting the shooting and being interrogated by psychiatrists.

The third act was quite surreal, unexpectedly amusing with its strange musical interludes, and quietly disturbing. In fact that applies to the whole play.

I'm not sure I completely understood exactly what was going on. But that's the appeal of this kind of theatre; it stays with you. It haunts you the way good theatre should.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I'm Not There Anymore

i'm going to write a poem
the poem will be called
i'm not there anymore
because I was always there for you
through your good times
and your bad times
and your bad times
and your bad times
and your bad times
and your bad times
through your dramas
and your dramas
and your dramas
and your dramas
and your dramas
and your dramas
and although it drained me sometimes
and left me tired
and nothing left to give
i was always there for you
because that's what we do
for people we love

but now in my bad times
you are not there
so i'm not there anymore

Friday, August 09, 2013

Botanica, Momix, Melbourne 2013 Review


Reviewed by Lee Bemrose

If you've seen the trailers for Botanica and you've thought that it looks pretty wonderful and might be worth seeing, just go with that feeling and go see it.

The title of this hour and a half dance spectacular is a little misleading in that it's not just about dancing flowers, as I jokingly described it to friends prior to seeing it. Certainly there are allusions to the ever changing cycles of plant life and the seasons, but there is so much more to this sprawling, magical, often surprising tapestry of life. There are also, mammals, birds, insects, sea creatures, the often forgotten aquatic plant life...

And in fact this is obviously why the title is not so misleading after all; mammals eat them, insects pollinate them, birds live in them. All life is connected to botanica.

Botanica is a collection of dance vignettes drawing on a wide variety of styles from classical to modern, as well as a variety of visual and technical devices that truly dazzle. Some pieces are lengthy and sweeping, others are short comical stabs. All rely on the impressive and graceful physicality of these 10 or so wonderful performers working together as a tight-knit team, or solo. The dancers also work brilliantly with the sound and lighting team to produce a magical visual feast. Sometimes what is taking place on stage messes with your senses and your logic so that you can't believe that what you are seeing is a result of dancers and lighting.

The black light section is the perfect example of this. Parts of the dancers' bodies are covered in UV reactive material with the rest covered in black, invisible to the UV light - at least I think that's what was happening... perhaps the black-clad dancers were holding UV reactive shapes that they moved about in synchronisation, or perhaps it was a combination of both. Either way, what unfolds here is mesmerising as the floating shapes in the dark morph from what seem to be microscopic life forms to birds, human facial features and everything between. It is dizzying, dazzling and wonderful in the truest sense of the word. I suspect I was not alone in watching this entire section agog and with a half smile on my face.

Which is the reaction pretty much to the entire show. Gossamer material wafts and shifts shape and becomes a screen sometimes for colour-rich projections and a human shape with large wings morphs into a giant flower... there is lots of wafting and morphing. But sometimes it's just the dancing that entrances. There is so much grace up there on stage, so much fluidity, so much strength and agility.

Highlights are hard to pick. There was the previously mentioned black light dance. The huge Triceratops skeleton puppet – designed by Cirque du Soleil's Michael Curry – was impressive and probably the closest any section came to being narrative as the lone dancer riding its back became its prey. There was the Whirling Dervish-like dancer with a headpiece of beads that almost touched the ground, and which, due to centrifugal force, became wings or petals; a striking feature of this piece was that the several minutes of spinning was done without spotting, making one wonder how the performer did not topple over with dizziness. There was the simply executed section with a near nude performer dancing horizontally atop a slanted mirror so that her jagged, angular movements resembled strange sea creatures, or moving Rorschach shapes. There was the centipede-like conga line that broke up and became preening Centaur-like creatures... and there was all that wonderful wafting and morphing.

The music was as luscious as the visuals and mostly comprised the oddly tagged genre of 'world music', contemporary beats drawing on diverse traditional ethnic sounds. Ear-candy to accompany the eye-candy.

Botanica is not narrative. There is no message. What it is is time out from a cluttered world of deadlines, meetings, the mindless drudgery of nightly TV and the problems of the world. It is beauty for beauty's sake. It is going to the circus. It is stopping to smell the flowers. It's a brief escape from our mundane modern life to appreciate the beauty and wonder of life.

 At The State Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne until August 11.

Friday, August 02, 2013

From Real Life To Fiction

Interesting experiment. Soot magazine asked me to talk about five real life people who were the inspiration for five characters in my short story collection 17 Stories Of Love & Crime. Go here for the result.

Also, go here for my new website.