31 Mar 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: 5 part, aerial shots, ancient volcanoes, architecture natural beauty, bath, belfast, blackpool tower, brighton, castles, coastline, countryfile presenter, digital cameras, documentary, dvd, dvds, edinburgh castle, England, five part, gorges, great britain, hampton court, homeland, industrial revolution, informative, julia bradbury, kenilworth castle, knowledgeable, pleasant, review, reviews, royal crescent, royal pavilion, royals, seabirds, snowdonia national park, ss great britain, stately homes, television series, terrace houses, the giant's causeway, the household cavalry, the lake district, the shard, the uk, the wonder of Britain, time-lapse photography, tiresome, titanic, travel, travel diary, travel program, travelogue, tudor barbeque, tv series, uk, united kingdom, white cliffs of dover
The world hardly needs another travel program, especially one dedicated to Britain. The UK has long been a favourite subject for celebrity presenters to visit and describe and Julia Bradbury’s The Wonder of Britain doesn’t offer anything grossly different. This five-part series covers the coastline, royals, architecture, natural beauty and the industrial revolution for what is ultimately a rather pleasant romp through the past.
Bradbury is no stranger to presenting travel programs. She was previously on a TV show called Countryfile and this looked at the stories of people living in different parts of Britain. In this latest offering both she and the crew would travel around 20000 km in order to pick some of the “best” stories from her homeland.
In episode one Bradbury harvests seaweed, visits the White Cliffs of Dover and the local castle as well as encounters a number of different species of seabirds and calls on Belfast, the birthplace of the Titanic. The “Royals” episode features a visit to Hampton Court to cook a Tudor barbeque as well as a turn at the magnificent Royal Pavilion in Brighton and spells at castles, Kenilworth and Edinburgh. Bradbury also interviews some of the Queen’s official bodyguards, the Household Cavalry.
The third episode of this series could have focused exclusively on stately homes and palaces but instead takes in a number of different structures including The Shard- the tallest building in London. There’s also Bath’s Royal Crescent- a set of 30 terrace houses set behind a single facade where it’s all very back-to-basics, like cramped living quarters and shared outdoor toilets and washhouses. Some of this stuff is also touched on in the “Industrial Revolution” episode but the latter also includes segments on Blackpool Tower and the SS Great Britain.
The episode that does this beautifully-shot series the most justice is the “Natural” one. Here the digital cameras, time-lapse photography and aerial shots come into their own while they depict ancient volcanoes and deep-plunging gorges. There’s also Snowdonia National Park, the Lake District and The Giant’s Causeway to sate your appetite. Unfortunately, the same beauty does not extend to the show’s title graphics. These are rather clunky, computer-based ones that don’t add a great deal to the overall program.
The Wonder of Britain is an informative and pleasant enough travel program but it is hardly breaking any new ground. The presenter, Julia Bradbury, is knowledgeable but at times she is a little too chirpy and tiresome and this may grate some viewers. In all, this is a pretty little show about the UK which aims to showcase what put the “great” into “Great Britain”. It’s not bad but you can’t help but think that this program barely scratches the surface.
Originally published on 28 March 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/the-wonder-of-britain-dvd-review/
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30 Mar 2016
in Live Review
Tags: albatross, black magic woman, blues, bluesmen, boogie woogie, concert, covers, El Cóndor Pasa, eyesight to the blind, fleetwood boogie, fleetwood mac, gig, guitar virtuoso, jimmy barnes, little red rooster, live, love that burns, metro theatre, mick fleetwood, mick fleetwood blues band, music, my baby's hot, oh well, peter green, review, reviews, rick veto, shake your money maker, Sydney, the mick fleetwood blues band, victor martinez
Mick Fleetwood is practically an honorary Aussie, having toured here last October with the Mac and now back to boogie-woogie with his blues band. The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band’s Sydney show enabled an older crowd (some seated on pinched stools from the bar) to don its best glad rags and listen to songs typically found on old dusty 45s.
The support act was guitar virtuoso, Victor Martinez. He enthralled the crowd with a short, sharp set that mixed together finger-plucking, strumming and beat-boxing techniques on his acoustic guitar. Martinez managed to coax more varied sounds out of one instrument than an entire band. His visceral version of ‘El Cóndor Pasa’ paid tribute to his South American heritage while other moments saw his fingers dancing along in a blur. It was mesmerising.
Fleetwood is a true English gentleman who just wants everyone to have a good time. ‘My Baby’s Hot’ set the tone for an evening of blues tunes about babes and Cadillacs, while the ‘Fleetwood Boogie’ was the first of many songs to pay tribute to the Peter Green era of the Mac. The group pulled out some tight sounds as the famous drummer loosely kept time up the back while Rick Vito led the proceedings with his raw vocals and guitar.
Their version of ‘Eyesight To The Blind’ was an unexpected piano ditty that differed to the original as well as The Who’s rock version on Tommy. It was a boisterous little cover that sat well alongside the sultry riffs of ‘Black Magic Woman’ and the wistful ‘Love That Burns’.
Later, Fleetwood’s fans were treated to an extended drum solo from the man himself. It was indulgent, but in the best possible way, and would have made a good segue into ‘Tusk’. But instead the band settled on ‘Oh Well’, with special guest Jimmy Barnes singing along to this and red-hot versions of ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Shake Your Money Maker’. As to be expected, Barnes injected some extra fun and charisma into the second half of an already fine blues show.
The night closed with the brooding, instrumental lullaby of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’. Fleetwood and co. had covered great terrain over their two-hour set, exuding much of the crunch, swagger and pop of many of the downtrodden bluesmen who’ve influenced their work. In all, it was one loving homage to the past.
Originally published on 29 March 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/mick-fleetwood-blues-band-metro-theatre
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29 Mar 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: 6 part, bafta nominated, city, conductor, controllers, doco, documentary, driver training, dvd, dvds, educational, emergency workers, England, fare evasion, good talent, gridlock, informative, insightful, law enforcement, london, long, night buses, number plate recognition, on the buses, pickpocketing, piggyback rides, racial abuse, repair crew, repair teams, review, reviews, routemasters, six part, staid, supercomputer controlled traffic lights, television series, the future, the route masters, The Route Masters: Running London’s Roads, traffic jams, transport, transport for london, tv series, vauxhall helicopter crash, victoria coach station, violent assaults
The documentary series, The Route Masters: Running London’s Roads is an informative but long look at how Transport for London keep the city moving. The series is a pleasant but rather staid one because while it can be insightful it is also hardly ground-breaking to witness the thankless work that goes on behind-the-scenes on any given day. Like the recent documentaries about the Underground, various airports and railways this also provides a view of some work that is often forgotten (and sometimes this is for good reason because it’s not always that interesting).
The series is a six part one where each episode takes up a full hour. This means the show covers a lot of ground but in some instances the program could have been tightened and would have been better for it. The filmmakers have at least picked out some good talent to interview and these dedicated staff offer up accessible and simple explanations for their jobs (which in some cases can be quite complex and difficult).
The first episode is about traffic jams and grid lock. In rush hour the average speed that Londoners travel is about 15 kilometres per hour (a figure that was the same in 1890). This instalment looks at how road closures and severe accidents (like a helicopter crash) require a litany of emergency services, traffic workers creating diversions and the police. It certainly had echoes of Sydney’s recent 13km traffic jam due to an accident on the Harbour Bridge.
Episodes two and three were dedicated to the buses. The first exclusively dealt with the night services that replace the tube. The other show covered the day trips, including drivers training and the beautiful, 60-year-old red routemaster buses that come complete with a driver and conductor. The fourth episode dealt with a different sort of bus, a coach and it looked specifically at Victoria’s coach station. This was opened in 1932 and was planned to be used for small day tours to London but now has people travelling to and from some 1200 destinations across the U.K. and Europe.
The fifth episode was about “The Future” including number plate recognition being used to issue fines and a supercomputer that controlled traffic lights. The finale was all about fighting crime. These included everything from petty fare evasions and pickpocketing all the way through to violent assaults (the footage of a man being kicked out of the top deck of a bus was particularly frightening). This series seemed to cover the whole gamut of human interactions, from light and comical (like one worker offering piggybacks to people who needed to use a flooded underpass) to outright harrowing (assaults, racial abuse, etc).
The Route Masters was a rather practical and no-holds-barred look at Transport for London and their work in the city. It included repair teams, drivers, emergency workers, controllers and law-enforcement officers and included their interesting tales from the city’s heartbeat. In all, some of these stories were not necessarily crying out to be told but it still offered a rather insightful look at modern life and what goes in to getting people from point A to B.
Originally published on 28 March 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/the-route-masters-running-londons-roads-dvd-review/
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25 Mar 2016
in Theatre Review
Tags: adaptation, betrayal, catherine & heathcliff, catherine earnshaw, cathy linton, contemporary twist, dark, distructive relationship, disturbed love affiar, edgar linton, Emily Brontë, emotions, Gemma Willing, hareton earnshaw, heathcliff, hindley earnshaw, intense, jealousy, Linden Wilkinson, linton heathcliff, loss, love, love lost, madness, modern slant, Nelle Lee, nelly dean, nick skubij, parramatta, play, rejects Heathcliff, revenge, review, reviews, riverside theatre, riverside theatre parramatta, Ross Balbuziente, shake & stir theatre co, shake and stir theatre co, slow-burning, theatre, thrushcross grange, Tim Dashwood, visceral, wuthering heights, yorkshire moors
Photo credit: Dylan Evans
Love will tear us apart. This song lyric by the late Ian Curtis of Joy Division seems an appropriate way to sum up the gothic romance tale, Wuthering Heights. Queensland’s shake & stir theatre co. have produced a rather faithful and intense adaptation of Emily Brontë’s story, but it also manages to add a few cotemporary flourishes that complement the melodrama.
The play begins with an ominous crash of thunder and lightning and this serves as a signpost for the drama that is to come. Hindley (Nick Skubij who doubles as the show’s adaptor and director) and Catherine Earnshaw are privileged young siblings living on an estate known as Wuthering Heights on the Yorkshire moors. The pair are also the children of Mr Earnshaw, a character who is omitted from this production. Mr Earnshaw adopts a young, sullen gypsy boy he names Heathcliff and this act sets off a chain of events that has ramifications for multiple generations.
Gemma Willing is excellent in the starring role as the wild and free-spirited Catherine and in the second act she plays this formidable woman’s young daughter. As children, Catherine and Heathcliff (played by Ross Balbuziente who does a fantastic job, especially when playing the adult version of this character) were once inseparable friends. They would also become lovers until Catherine meets her neighbours from Thrushcross Grange, Edgar Linton (Tim Dashwood who seems a touch too feminine and almost camp) and his sister Isabella (Nelle Lee who juggles multiple roles quite seamlessly).
The meeting between Catherine and the Lintons will leave her a changed woman. She loses her youthful innocence and wild ways and instead becomes a stately and elegant young woman. She accepts Linton’s marriage proposal and rejects Heathcliff’s advances despite her heart telling her to do the opposite. Catherine is punished for this both emotionally and spiritually and descends into madness while Heathcliff is incensed and vows to exact revenge, even if he has to bide his time for multiple decades.
This adaptation is faithful to Brontë’s original tale because it shows both Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship as well as the impact of this disturbed love affair on the next generation. The actors each put in some great performances and offer subtler turns when they are playing the younger generation of children whereas more intense and visceral emotions are required for the older ones. Some of the actors play multiple roles across time but the exception to this is the pragmatic narrator Nelly Dean (Linden Wilkinson who had a hard job remembering so many lines and sometimes forgot these) and the dark and villainous Heathcliff. These two are integral to the story and really carry it.
The set is minimal but it works because it is able to double as two different manor houses as well as offer the backdrop for the treacherous moors, complete with life-like rain, thunder and lightning. Some musical motifs are repeated as the scenes change and this adds a certain neatness to the structure, especially when considering that it is such a dense and sprawling story. This adaptation also uses large video projections that really showcase the heightened emotions of the characters and their extinguished flames as they pass away. This is one sumptuous visual feast to say the least.
It is unfortunate that the set also let down the actors on at least a few occasions. There are times when the characters stood behind a shrouded curtain at the back and while this added extra mystery to the piece, it did make it difficult to hear and understand them at times. The first act was also a bit too long and while it ended with Catherine’s death, it felt a little anti-climactic with Dean finishing things by mentioning that there was something contained in a note. Thankfully the actual end of the play reached a more rousing crescendo.
Wuthering Heights is a dark and slow-burning play that sits on the knife edge of love, loss, betrayal, jealousy and revenge. It’s one complex and visceral story of a destructive and disturbing love that would shake a family to its core and be felt by the following generation. shake & stir theatre co.’s adaptation remains true to the classic tale while also offering a welcome modern slant that effectively captures the heady and human emotions of the original narrative. In short, it makes it all feel rather intense and real for a whole new generation of audiences.
Originally published on 24 March 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/theatre-review-wuthering-heights-riverside-theatre-parramatta-22-03-16/
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23 Mar 2016
in EP Review
Tags: beats-driven pop, closer, dance music, dappled cities, dappled cities fly, deep croon, EP, eps, front man, frontman, gorgeous, Great Leaps Forward, Heartbroken, high summer, indie, indie pop, low summer, music, pop, quivering falsetto, review, reviews, shimmery, side-project, sweet, Swimwear, tim derricourt
Dappled Cities’ Tim Derricourt has already dipped his toes into side-project waters with the release of two EPs under the moniker Swimwear.
His latest, High Summer, offers up a book-end to the previous Low Summer EP and also celebrates the hot season with some bittersweet dance music via indie-pop sounds.
The songs are not a huge departure from the Dappled Cities style, all sounding like they’ve been orchestrated by someone who has dug through old vinyl recordings by David Bowie and the Pet Shop Boys. ‘Heartbroken’ sounds quite warm and joyful considering the track’s dour title, and gives a good indication of Derricourt’s desire to mix up tone and style. On ‘Great Leaps Forward’, his voice vacillates between a quivering falsetto and a deeper croon over the top of some shimmery beats-driven pop.
‘Closer’ is the EP’s most unique track, where the sound of Django Django is mashed with repetitive computer bleeps and bloops before the piece rapidly diverts towards the beautiful terrain hinted at in New Order’s ‘Elegia’.
High Summer is like that blissful moment just before the bartender calls for last drinks. It’s a relaxed, sweet and gorgeous place where the night feels so grand that it has the potential to go on forever.
Originally published on 23 March 2016 at the following website: http://thebrag.com/music/swimwear-high-summer
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17 Mar 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: chief curator, clothing, doco, doctor worsley, documentary, Dr Lucy Worsley, dr worlsey, dr. worsley, dvd, dvds, english monarchy, flimsy idea, garments, historian, historic context, historic royal palaces, history, hollow, interesting, king, king edward, king edward viii, lesson, lucy worsley, monarchy, queen, queen elizabeth, queen elizabeth i, review, reviews, royal, royal family, royals, tales from the royal bedchamber, tales from the royal wardrobe, tales from the royal wardrobe & bedchamber, tales from the royal wardrobe and bedchamber, television, tv
They say that clothes make the man. So the two documentaries released on one DVD, Tales from the Royal Wardrobe and Bedchamber could offer an interesting glimpse into some rather intimate details with respect to English monarchs. Historian, Dr Lucy Worsley offers up a program that has its moments and provides some good historic context but at other points feels like it’s too flimsy an idea to stretch out over two whole programs.
Dr Worsley is the chief curator of the historic royal palaces. In these programs she traces the English monarchy back over 400 years and offers up some insightful information about the power of the reigning monarch’s costumes and what actually went on in their bedrooms. In some cases the clothes were used to present an image and drive home the message of power to affirm who was in charge. In the case of Queen Elizabeth I, she once wore a dress that had eyes and ears all over it to show that she was all-seeing and all-hearing. King Edward VIII on the other hand won little praise with his daggy safari suits which screamed “leisure and comfort” rather than dedication to his post.
These documentaries do have their share of interesting moments but one can’t help but wonder if the actual historic material has been watered down and that the matters presented have been played up for their entertainment aspect. It’s curious that Dr Worsley is a female presenter and we wonder if this meant the program couldn’t be more serious and hard-hitting and instead had to be flippant and focus on style over substance.
It must have been fun for Dr Worsley to wear replicas of some of these great garments. The impractical outfits of the truly wealthy women look nice but are so silly that the wearer would require servants to dress them and assist with the tying and untying of the corset. But seeing this historian play dress-up does mean it is a bit hard to take what she says seriously because it feels like the whole thing has gone from being informative to a rather throwaway, fashion parade.
Tales from the Royal Wardrobe and Bedchamber feeds right into the public’s fascination with the royal family including their bedroom habits and the personal statements they choose to make with their choice of clothes. While it can be pleasant and entertaining at times, it can also be quite hollow and flimsy at other moments. In all, this is a rather tenuous and indulgent look at the royal family and all of its trappings.
Originally published on 14 March 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/tales-from-the-royal-wardrobe-bedchamber-dvd-review/
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