Posted on

[Live Review] Counting Crows

counting crows (16 of 19)

 

The opening bars of classic Bill Wither’s song Lean on Me blare out from the speakers to herald the arrival of Counting Crows. Taking to the stage the crowd enthusiastically welcome a band that are veterans of the music industry.

Launching to fame in the mid-1990s after the death of Kurt Cobain with a song that practically the whole world knows Counting Crows are a band that have been around and it shows. This evening it seems as though the years are catching up to them as an overweight Adam Durtiz belts out song after song.

He is vocally solid and “Round here” opens the set followed by a number of songs from last year’s album “Somewhere under Wonderland“. New songs “Scarecrow,” Hard Candy” and “Elvis went to Hollywood” all follow in quick succession with little fanfare or break.

On stage Durtiz may be vocally impressive, his voice sounding better than a recording. However it is as if he seems lost. Unsure what to do with himself he fidgets, crosses and uncrosses his arms. He puts on a hat, wipes his face with a cloth and during musical interludes he wanders off stage, sits down and seems generally unsure of himself.

He keeps talking to a minimum and the few times he does talk he expresses that he feels in unimportant to have a conversation. He feels that the crowd “Can’t hold an intelligent conversation” with him, so he’d rather just play. He hasn’t even made the effort to learn the name of the town that he is performing in.

When the anticipated Mr Jones is finally played it is a letdown. A song that is like a warm memory is distinctly ruined as Duritz gets the timing wrong, fails to hit the higher notes and lets the crowd sing parts. He gets the words wrong and does not recover to make the song sound as it should. For a song that is much loved it is a disappointment that it sounds so incredibly terrible live.

 

counting crows (15 of 19)

If the job of an Entertainer is to entertain, then Adam Duritz can surely not be classed as such. He is however a brilliant song writer with an exceptional voice. So if fans came along tonight to be entertained, let into the mind of an artist on a journey- then this kind of show is not for them. This is a show for music lovers that want to just simply listen to music then that is exactly what they got tonight.

Posted on

[ Movie Review] While We’re Young

While-Were-Young-Movie-Poster

While we’re Young

 

Written and directed by Noah Boaumbach the black comedy is the poignantly told tale of childless mid-forties couple Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) who are in the midst of friends having children and feeling somewhat left out. They gravitate towards befriending younger couple Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried).

Through shared interest in film making Josh and Cornelia commence a friendship where they enjoy the vibrant energy that pervades from the younger hipster couple. Eventually Josh begins to believe that Adam is not all that he seems and that he has a hidden agenda.

In a more dramatic role Stiller is quite believable as a neurotic New Yorker that is in the depths of realising that he may have not reached his life’s full potential. He is bogged down with creating his Opus in the form of a document that he lacks funding for. In Adam he sees the youthful exuberance that he seems to have lost.

The film has rather strong themes on the conflict of aging, how we retain an element of youth and live up to our full potential by not letting life get in the way of our dreams. It explores the common theme that technology is evading ever corner of our lives and that we are losing touch with each other socially. It is a very thought provoking film that explores very deep issues that make the viewer really think.

In the supporting role of Jamie, relative new comer Adam Driver is gangly and slightly awkward. Audiences would be familiar with the actor in the role of Adam on HBO’s Girls. He begins as being rather likeable but as the film progresses he becomes less endearing, however it does not explore him in depth instead focusing on James and his neuroses. Naomi Watts is also quite remarkable in her role as she explores the pain of being a childless woman. It’s a theme that is difficult to express but Watts does it justice with her portrayal.

 

BG_While%20We_re%20Young%202015%20movie%20Still%202

 

While we’re Young is a thought provoking film that viewers in the same age will really connect with. Seeing James struggle with the effort you stay young (by buying a fedora hat) and attending festivals with Darcy and Jamie the viewer is reminded that sometimes as we grow older we shed past rituals and evolve. As a part of growing older we come to accept that life changes in ways we don’t expect. It is a theme that is told rather well and will leave the viewer thinking long after the film has ended.

 

 

Posted on

[ Movie Review] While We're Young

While-Were-Young-Movie-Poster

While we’re Young

 

Written and directed by Noah Boaumbach the black comedy is the poignantly told tale of childless mid-forties couple Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) who are in the midst of friends having children and feeling somewhat left out. They gravitate towards befriending younger couple Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried).

Through shared interest in film making Josh and Cornelia commence a friendship where they enjoy the vibrant energy that pervades from the younger hipster couple. Eventually Josh begins to believe that Adam is not all that he seems and that he has a hidden agenda.

In a more dramatic role Stiller is quite believable as a neurotic New Yorker that is in the depths of realising that he may have not reached his life’s full potential. He is bogged down with creating his Opus in the form of a document that he lacks funding for. In Adam he sees the youthful exuberance that he seems to have lost.

The film has rather strong themes on the conflict of aging, how we retain an element of youth and live up to our full potential by not letting life get in the way of our dreams. It explores the common theme that technology is evading ever corner of our lives and that we are losing touch with each other socially. It is a very thought provoking film that explores very deep issues that make the viewer really think.

In the supporting role of Jamie, relative new comer Adam Driver is gangly and slightly awkward. Audiences would be familiar with the actor in the role of Adam on HBO’s Girls. He begins as being rather likeable but as the film progresses he becomes less endearing, however it does not explore him in depth instead focusing on James and his neuroses. Naomi Watts is also quite remarkable in her role as she explores the pain of being a childless woman. It’s a theme that is difficult to express but Watts does it justice with her portrayal.

 

BG_While%20We_re%20Young%202015%20movie%20Still%202

 

While we’re Young is a thought provoking film that viewers in the same age will really connect with. Seeing James struggle with the effort you stay young (by buying a fedora hat) and attending festivals with Darcy and Jamie the viewer is reminded that sometimes as we grow older we shed past rituals and evolve. As a part of growing older we come to accept that life changes in ways we don’t expect. It is a theme that is told rather well and will leave the viewer thinking long after the film has ended.

 

 

Posted on

[Movie Review] The DUFF

The-DUFF-Movie-Poster

In the tradition of ‘Mean Girls’, ‘Clueless’ and ‘Easy A’ comes another teenage movie about the trials of being in high school. ‘The DUFF’ is another of these movies to explore the tough world of adolescence, being labelled and bullied.

The term ‘DUFF’ is an acronym for ‘Designated Ugly Fat Friend’ and when central character Bianca (Mae Whitman) finds out that she is in fact a DUFF for her ultra-pretty friends not only is she mortified, she is determined to change it and remove her label. She enlists the help of resident jock Wesley (Robbie Amell) in order to change her image and ultimately remove her DUFF status.

With the help of Wesley, Bianca is transformed into not so much a beautiful swan, just a more confident better version of herself. He teaches her to work up the courage to talk to boys, more so her long time crush Toby (Nick Eversman) and ask the floppy haired guitar playing boy on a date. It’s pretty easy to tell though where the story is going to head. Toby turns out to he a jerk, and the more time Bianca and Wesley spend together the more they develop feelings for each other.Naturally Wesley’s crazed on-again-off-again ex-girlfriend Madison (Bella Thorne) tries at every turn to thwart them with some excessive cyber bullying. Not so much because Madison wants Wesley back, she just does not want him to end up with a DUFF and she takes it to another level of nastiness with her evil plans.

posters-1200x520

 

While the movie takes every chance it can to be this decades teen classic it really does not have the same quotable one liners as predecessor ‘Mean Girls’. The lead ‘DUFF’ Bianca is neither fat or ugly, but throw her frumpy pairs of overalls and she looks plain and frumpy. It’s enjoyable and has a few great moments but does not quite reach the heights it is aiming for, there are a few strange moments too but overall it is rather enjoyable. It is a bit of a disappointment that Bianca never has that one moment where she emerges from a chrysalis and is reborn a butterfly. She makes a great entrance at the Homecoming dance, but it is a little underwhelming. It’s a sweet enough movie but hardly memorable.

 

Posted on

[Live Review] Katie Noonan

Katie Noonan

The Triffid, March 28

katie noonan  (10 of 30)

 

Queensland’s sweetest nightingale and all round nice girl Katie Noonan is here to enrapture and enchant the audience in her return to the stage with her band Vanguard. It is a rare event to see her in her element with a hand picked line up of talented musicians. Touring to celebrate the release of her new EP ” Peace is My Drug”, an independent release primarily funded through a PledgeMusic campaign that she has launched.

Dressed in a simple black dress with her trademark red curls back- lit illuminating her in a halo of light, it is the audience who are taken on a journey through the pages of her life. Each song a new page as she explains the details of how each song is written giving the listener an insight into the world through Katie Noonan’s eyes. It’s refreshing to listen to the stories that emotionally connect her to the music and takes us into her intriguing life. It’s rare for musicians to be so candid and have the ability to still a room like Noonan does and it is quite astonishing to watch. At times she is apologetic for this, however it makes the experience that much more enjoyable. There is a camaraderie with her and the band that ties the performance together really well and her humility is endearing.

katie noonan  (4 of 19)

 

She plays music that has depth and meaning, songs that she dedicates to friends and family and of course her husband. She speaks of visiting Arthur Boyd’s artists retreat Bundanon where she has penned much of her music in recent years. Displaying talent on both keyboard and log drum Noonan’s music has an ephemeral feel that glides over the listener like a feather caught in the breeze. Her classical vocal training is eerily beautiful and closing your eyes it will transport you to another time and place. When she sings new single “Peace is My Drug” a moving song the whole room is collectively amazed; even if you are unfamiliar with her music she is an experience worth listening and paying attention to.

This evening at The Triffid, Katie Noonan gathered together musicians Stu Hunter ( bass, keys and backing vocals) Declan Kelly ( percussion, drums and backing vocals) and newcomer Ben Edgar ( who incidentally plays guitar for Angus and Julia Stone) and took her listeners on a sojourn of sound, weaving a tapestry of love, loss, pain, joy and the very essence of life to create a memorable snap shot of her art. She has left the door open for her listeners to enter this new chapter of her music and it is a path that her loyal fans are only too happy to travel with her.

 

katie noonan  (28 of 30)

Posted on

[Movie Review] Get Hard

Film review

Get Hard

Get-Hard-poster-4

 

The rather dubiously titled Get Hard is the latest comedy written by Etan Cohen the man responsible for writing Tropic Thunder and Men in Black III. Whilst he’s no stranger to writing this is his first movie as a director and Get Hard is a little hit and miss.

 

James King (Will Ferrell) is wrongfully accused of fraud and embezzlement and is sentenced to ten years in a hard prison. Being a white guy from the right side of Bel Air, James employs his car washing guy Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) to harden him up for life on the inside. He has thirty days for Darnell, who incidentally has never been to prison to teach him all there is to know about life on the inside.

 

What ensues is thirty days of Darnell turning James’ Bel Air mansion into a prison and bluffing his way through teaching King all about Thug Life. It’s a learning curve for James as between the two of them they muddle their way through gang land and gay bars in an effort to turn James into a mad dog.

 

The movie has a pretty basic story line that has been done before with similar themes in Rob Schneider’s Big Stan. So the movie is really not breaking any new ground at all. Towards the end of the movie it is apparent that the racial and social gap has been bridged and the two have become friends. Predictably Darnell tries to clear his friends name by catching the real bad guy.

ferrell-hart-height-get-hard-600

 

Whilst the movie is at times funny it is Kevin Hart with his bulldog- like approach to delivering lines that garner the most laughs. Some of the jokes and one lines delivered by Ferrell are a little rough and racial stereotyping is quite prevalent rather than being funny it is cringe- worthy racism at its worst. There are also a few too many cheap laughs at the start of the film with unnecessary views of Ferrell’s naked butt; a rather juvenile way to get a laugh. Once Kevin Hart steps in it does get better.

 

It’s one of those movies that without the right casting could have been a lot worse. Luckily Kevin Hart is a huge talent that manages to drag this comedy over the line and he is quite brilliant on screen. The movie is worth a look as there are times where it is good, but it is probably not going to end up as a comedy classic that viewers will want to see time and time again.

 

Posted on

[ Movie Review] Focus

Film Review

Focus.

focus-2015-movie-poster

 

Always remain focused and die with the lie. That is the main theme for Will Smith’s new movie Focus also starring Australia’s Margot Robbie. Written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and also starring Rodrigo Santoro.

Aging con- man and lifelong grifter Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) is quietly enjoying a meal on his own when the young and beautiful Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie) a rather green grifter herself fails in her attempt to seduce him and steal his wallet. He agrees to take her under his wing and teach her the tricks of the trade. They head down to New Orleans where he tutors her in the art of pick pocketing and small time cons. At the end of the job he unceremoniously dumps her after she begins to fall in love with him.

margot-robbie-in-focus-movie-10

 

Fast forward there years and Nicky is contracted for a really large con, probably the biggest of his career. Down in Buenos Aires he arrives to work for billionaire motorsport Rafael Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro) to set up a sting to beat Australian businessman McEwan (Robert Taylor) and win the championship. It’s all set to go ahead when in walks Jess, who is now Garriga’s girlfriend.

Nicky begins to pursue Jess again and as it unfolds an unknowing Jess is bound up in the con in a complex web of deceit. The con unfolds to a surprising complex twist in the end, leaving Jess and the viewer a little perplexed.

Whilst the movie is enjoyable enough it really doesn’t have a strong climax or story that is overly strong. It’s a pretty much go- nowhere movie that leaves little to have to think about in the end. Will Smith is his usual adept self, and is enjoyable enough to watch. Margot Robbie is not much more than a pretty face and really is a bit young to be believable to be a love interest for the aging Will Smith. For her to be believable in roles she needs to be cast alongside younger male actors as she looks a little foolish playing alongside would be sugar- daddies.

The movie does at times try to be unpredictable but it really does not have overly surprising twists and turns. It glides along at a reasonable pace, but does not prove any points or make any great statements. It’s descent enough but there are more enjoyable ways to spend an hour and forty five minutes other than this movie.

 

 

 

Posted on

[Live Review] Jeff Martin

Jeff Martin

The Zoo Friday, March 20

 

In a dark dingy, poorly lit pub known as The Zoo, Jeff Martin comes on stage, surrounded by guitars and some casually draped velvet.

jeff martin (5 of 5)

 

He takes a seat and tells us that he finds it incredible that people have come out this evening because “It is so f-ing hot, I sing songs about the Devil quite a lot- I didn’t think I’d be in his house tonight”.

 

That being said, Jeff Martin is low key tonight; not the usual larger than life rock star that fronts successful Canadian band The Tea Party. Tonight he is an artist, with some really cool guitars that is here to play acoustic music to a dedicated intimate crowd.

 

jeff martin (2 of 5)

 

Sure he’s going to play some of The Tea Party classics- “The Bazaar”, “Sister Awake” and new material like “The Black Sea” (sung for the first time acoustically) but if you really listen hard- and this is the brilliance of the solo show- he’s going to educate you some. Listen closely and he intertwines other classic music along with his own. There is some Led Zeppelin, Massive Attack, Dead Can Dance and even a little Hendrix interspersed with some exceptional guitar work.

 

He pauses for a reflective moment he tells us “Ok people so he’s the thing, with the music that I’ve had the pleasure to make with The Tea Party over all those years and uh, the things I have done off on my own, it seems that my music and The Tea Party’s music affects people in a certain way and sometimes it helps them get through things that seem quite difficult in life. And it seems to be a soundtrack of sorts. So I’ve got a brother, a friend who I consider a brother back in Perth that is going through some major, major s**t and I do believe that music can travel through the Ether, so I would like to send this song to my brother, because he needs it”. He launches into “Requiem” and it is clear that the pain is etched in his face delivering this. At the bridge he transitions the song into Trent Reznor’s “Hurt” before switching back. It’s a poignant moment and unforgettable for those of us here to witness it.

 

jeff martin (1 of 5)

 

For the devoted fans that have come out this evening, watching Jeff Martin deliver his catalogue of songs this evening, interacting with the crowd has been a music lovers dream. He has taken the time to enjoy himself, interact with his fans and even poke a few jokes at Kenny his hard working roadie. He has made us listen enraptured as he delivers with a voice that could invoke the old Gods to come down to listen. For the truly dedicated fans, this has been a night to remember.

 

Posted on

[Live Review] Macy Gray

macy gray (1 of 1)-5

The Tivoli, Brisbane
Saturday March 14, 2015

‏In the late 1990s, Macy Gray rose to meteoric fame with her beautiful debut single, ‘I Try’. It’s been some time since she graced our shores, but she is back and as beautiful as ever.

‏Mysteriously this evening there is no support act, and so the crowd wait for Ms Gray to take to the stage. Anticipation builds as the room begins to clap and chant her name, calling her on stage. By the time she saunters on stage bedecked in a silver sequin dress, blue heels and a large purple feather boa all eyes are upon her.

‏She opens with ‘Get Up’, kicking off the show with an upbeat vibe. She dances, sways around and sings with her smoky voice that is like a mixture of honey and one too many cigarettes. Slow to warm to the crowd at first, eventually she gets going. Whenever she smiles she is disarmingly charming and gorgeous. She also brings an old world charm and glamour that could be right at home in a 1920s San Fransisco speak easy. When she asks the crowd to sing for her, it’s clear to see she has them in the palm of her hand raising the energy just a notch higher.

Taking a second to slow it down a bit she becomes reflective for a moment to deliver ‘Sweet Baby’, wrapping her hands tightly around the microphone and singing it slowly and sexily. It’s a serious section in the performance allowing Macy to show a softer side. She is entranced in the moment, under a spell.

‏She pauses to introduce the band and her guitarist Martine she informs us that “This is what happened, Martine Strattord over here on his guitar, he was at home and he had nothing to do, so he went on his laptop and he googled “What should I do right now?” and Google said “You should go to Brisbane“, pausing to let the crowd cheer So Martine a curious man, he googled “Why, why should I go all the way to Brisbane on a Saturday night? I’m a long way here in Los Angeles, why should I travel to Brisbane tonight?”

‏She proceeds to tell the room why her and the band have travelled to Brisbane tonight and it is at that moment that she has well and truly won over the crowd. She is funny and charming and tells the room that we really know how to party and scream loud and “That google says you sure do drink a lot, which is good – the more you drink, the better we sound“. She has the showmanship of one born to the stage and delivers with perfect comedic timing.

 

macy gray (2 of 27)

‏For most of the night she sticks to her earlier material and not so much of her new album. It’s a mix of songs from her first and second album mostly. She keeps the energy alive with mostly upbeat songs, staying away from the ballads and quirky songs of recent album material. She did pleasantly surprises the crowd with a sultry rendition of Radiohead’s, ‘Creep’ though.

‏Launching into ‘A Moment To Myself’, she glides around the room dancing provocatively only to pause half way through and tell the crowd that her drummer, Tommy,is going to take “A moment to himself, alright?” The house lights dim as the band exits the stage and Tommy launches into an impressive nine and a half minuet drum solo, taking over whilst Macy heads off stage.

 

macy gray (1 of 14)

‏She returns looking glamorous in a gold sequin dress and a long fox fur stole, she brings home the show with some more high energy numbers and the momentum keeps steady for the rest of the evening, that includes smash hit ‘I Try’, hidden amongst a medley. Closing the show by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of her band members and playing a recording of 50 Cents, ‘In The Club’, she promptly leaves. Several moments pass and she returns in a black and orange dress with matching feather boa she returns to perform a quick introduction of songs from the new album.

‏This evening, Macy Gray has not only performed, but she has seduced the crowd, raised everyone up and had them dancing and laughing with her energetic eccentric self. She has been a Goddess in sequins to watch that will have people remembering this performance long after the house lights go up. Let’s hope this beautiful soul singer returns to the stage soon.

Reviewer and Photographer : Amanda Starkey

Posted on

[Movie Review] Run All Night

run_all_night_ver6

 

Run all Night is the latest action movie from director Jaume Collett-Serra and stars action movie heavy weights Liam Neeson and Ed Harris. It is the third consecutive movie from the director with Neeson also starring in Unknown and Non-Stop.

 

Set almost entirely at night Run All Night is a nail biting action movie that sees an ageing hit man and mobster Jimmy Conlon thrown into a life and death choice as his estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) witnesses a brutal mob execution. Jimmy is a down-on-his luck hit man that the viewer can only empathise with and now he must choose sides, shun past loyalties and take on his old mob boss Shaun Maguire (Ed Harris) after he slays Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook). We see his vulnerable side as he steers his son clear from following in his footsteps and protects him from the killers that hunt him. Mike struggles with wanting to hate and punish him for being an absent father, but he also needs him to survive the revenge promise and price that is on his head.

What ensues is a night of outwitting former colleagues sent to kill them, running from the police and keeping Mike alive so that Shaun cannot exact revenge. It’s a battle of wills between the former allies who promise each other in the end “We cross that line together” and inadvertently they try as hard as they can to stick to that pact.

Upping the ante is cold professional killer Mr. Price (Common) stalks them and these two clearly have a fight on their hands with him; as well an arch nemesis in the form of an ageing Detective Harding (Vincent D’Onofrio) wanting Jimmy to confess to all his past sins, so they really do have it coming at them from every corner of New York.

Common-Fights-Liam-Neeson-in-Run-All-Night-2015

Run all Night is a movie is dark and gritty and pretty much what can be expected of a Liam Neeson action movie. Neeson has the brilliant ability to really be imposing on screen and this is probably why his late in life turn as an action hero has been so successful, he really knows how to command the screen.

 

The main difference with this role being that this time he plays a somewhat flawed human being trying to make amends for past mistakes and redeem himself before it is too late. He must sacrifice himself so that his son may live. Themes of death, regret and redemption juxtaposed throughout the film adding to the heavy context.

run-all-night-movie-poster-12

There is some clever camera angles throughout as the movie glides from location to location showing off the city of New York. Whilst the story line leans towards being a little predictable at times there are a few surprises that leave the viewer gasping in shock. It is defiantly an enjoyable ride and yet another Neeson movie that will please audiences.