Professor Marcia Langton’s shade face at idiotic Q&A questioners was a sight to behold.
- MIKEY NICHOLSON
- La Bohème, Wednesday March 6th -
It takes a wog to truly get a wog (I can say that, I’ve got the nonni and Italian passport to prove it) and Bel Canto Bowie is definitely a show for Italians, by Italians, who KNOW Italians. Yet the theme of youthful exuberance always wanting more is a universal feeling that even the most Anglo of Anglos can appreciate.
Two young ragazze, fed up with the boredom and monotony of classical opera, have visions of grandeur and are granted their wish by a new god…
SIGNOR DAVIDE BOH-WEE.
All of Bowie’s classics are represented; ‘Changes’, ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Life On Mars?’ and I’ll leave a few unnamed surprises for those coming to the remaining shows (and make sure you get in for this limited season.)
Debutant leads, Adriana Sturman and Natalie Oliveri, use minimalist staging, operatic techniques and their almost sisterly comedic timing to ensure the audience leaves the show with a happy bellyache from laughing. They are accompanied by the delightful jaunt of bizarrely costumed (although let’s be honest is anything really bizarre in a David Bowie Fringe show?) Alan Braley.
In amongst all the hilarity and farce, it’s easy to forget that these two women have amazing voices. Sturman belts like nobody’s business and Oliveri’s pitch perfect high notes and steadying harmonies hit all the sweet spots.
I particularly loved their use of one of Grote Street’s finest venues; French inspired cocktail bar, La Bohème. Although I’d like to keep it as a place of my own, more Adelaideans need to call it home.
Who doesn’t love to see local South Australians packing out the house when there’s a plethora of firsts on show; directing, writing and acting credits to Sturman and Oliveri.
Cabaret Festival return season anyone?
Februanimation is officially over. Loved the Miyazaki, enjoyed catching up on films I missed and look forward to including a greater variety of animation through the rest of 365 Films in 2014.
Now that it’s March, Academy Award season is in session, anything nominated or having won an award is up for grabs. Recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
Until we meet again, here’s the last of the animated flicks.
- Feb 22 –
52/365 Hercules 
No Kevin Sorbo or Lucy Lawless to be seen in this adaptation of the Grecian mythological telling of the too strong for his own good Hercules. Despite the absence of 90s long haired TV action stars, Disney does enough original work to entertain the masses, but it’s not up with their best.
You’d think there was only one song in this whole film as the ‘Go The Distance’ reprise accompanies every moment in every scene from start to finish and continues through the credits. Not that I was complaining because Michael Bolton/Roger Bart’s versions of the theme song are everything.
The biggest voices belong to James Wood, the devilish Hades, and Danny Devito as the hapless but well-meaning faun-esque Phil. Marissa’s dad voices Hercules while Broadway alum, Susan Egan, sasses her way through the film as Meg the not-what-she-seems, damsel in distress.
As opposed to the more famous Disney films, the animation in Hercules is bizarre and very Emperor’s New Groove-y. Hades’ bumbling henchmen often channel discarded concepts for Olympic mascots.
Forget self-lacing up shoes from Back to the Future, I want me some Air-Hercs.
- Feb 24 -
53/365 Nebraska 
I’m not sure whether it was that my cinema going companion spilt pretty much the entire contents of her overpriced popcorn all over the aisle or maybe it was Bruce Dern’s (aka Laura Dern’s dad) amazing turn as a curmudgeonly old man with an hilariously filter-less wife, but Nebraska was one of the most enjoyable film experiences I’ve had in awhile (Frozen aside).
Most of us have received a scam or two in the mail or Facebook’s “other” inbox (check it out for all the lols) but we don’t act on them. Woody Grant isn’t like most people though. He’s a doer, well a doer that is not all there. If someone (a Reader’s Digest equivalent sweepstake) is dumb enough to award him $1 million then he’s dumb enough to try and redeem it. Unfortunately for his son, he’s dragged along for the ride with his deluded dad.
Will Forte, as the supportive yet perpetually sighing son, wears a lot less make up and women’s attire in this role and although the audience isn’t afforded the privilege of his on point half-Cher half-Jenna Maroney impersonation, we’re still treated to belly laughs from an unintentionally intentionally funny Bob Nelson script.
The boys get a lot of screen time but it’s the uproariously biting wit of June Squibb, as mother and wife Kate, who continuously steals every scene she graces.
For a road trip adventure set against the amazing North American country side, the decision to film in black and white is puzzling but helps focus the attention on the characters without being distracted by the view.
If you’ve got grandparents, parents or been around old people you can’t help but laugh at the nuance that director Alexander Payne has been able to capture in the simplicity of Nebraska.
- Feb 26 -
54/365 5 Centimeters Per Second 
I feel like 5 Centimeters Per Second is the anime version of an art-house film. It’s vignette-y, split into three chapters, uses A LOT of inner dialogue and long tracking shots.
It’s three beautifully told stories (Cherry Blossom, Cosmonaut and 5 Centimeters Per Second) on the distance that love can survive. The loveliest of scores by famed Japanese composer Tenmon accompanies the tales of tragic, often unrequited, love.
There’s a common thread wound throughout with protagonist Takaki Tōno featuring heavily. Cherry Blossom deals with an early crush in an age before online communication has taken society hold. Cosmonaut sees Takaki caught between feelings for an old crush and the affections of a girl he’s not interested in. The concluding 5 Centimeters Per Second catches up with Takaki as depression and “what might have beens” fill his days.
After watching so much Miyazaki and Disney it was a welcome change to see normal relationships in recognisable worlds but I’ll always be drawn to the magic of Studio Ghibli and Walt.
55/365 Persepolis 
Within fifteen minutes of starting, I had already decided I did not like Persepolis. By thirty minutes my intrigue had picked up and at the end I thoroughly enjoyed the, albeit emotionally draining, experience.
Such is the beauty of Marjane Satrapi’s animated autobiography. Part history lesson, part compelling life story, Persepolis follows the turbulent life of Satrapi as she grows up surrounded by Iranian conflict.
The animation is quite simple but compelling. Oh and SO. MANY. BEAUTIFUL. TRANSITION. SHOTS. Using the simplistic style, the movement between scenes is a sight to behold.
It’s bleak, heartbreaking and joyous all at once as the audience rides the rollercoaster of youth through puberty to adulthood in solidarity with Satrapi.
- March 2 -
56/365 The Magic Riddle 
What a hot mess and not the good type. I’m loath to knock the Australian film industry but The Magic Riddle was all kinds of bad. I’m surprised anyone takes our nation seriously if we sound like these characters.
Based on the stories of famed authors such as Hans Christian Andersen and Brothers Grimm, it’s a mash up of fairytales but with pretty much nothing new brought to the table. The songs all sound vaguely familiar - a little Les Mis in parts and then rubbish in others. Something was definitely les missing (I hate me too.)
Cindy is a breathy, boring damsel in distress while her hero, Phillippe, has the broadest Australian accent that anyone called Phillippe has ever had.
Director Yoram Gross had a lot of success in animation with Blinky Bill and the Dot and the Kangaroo series but I feel his talents are best suited to that of short form children’s television series.
The Magic Riddle felt like a bad trip that lasted days.
(1 and a half stars)
- Queen’s Theatre, Monday 3rd of March -
If I hear the turn of phrase “tour de force” one more time I think I might actually rip off whoever’s big mouth it is that says it. Applicable of course for this show, but oh so lazy and unimaginative for an excellent concept that Belgian theatre company, SKaGeN, have brought to the people of Adelaide.
Valentijn Dhaenens sounds like the name of a character from Game of Thrones, which is fitting because his one-man performance is a battle of epic proportions against language, accents, characterisation and song. Famous speeches from centuries of history are the epicenter of Big Mouth and Dhaenens flits in and out of each as if someone is simply hitting a switch in his head. Whether it’s sterile and creepy Goebbels to macho General Patton rallying the troops, with a flick of a jacket button the characters flawlessly emanate out of his acting juices.
I’m not going to lie. Big Mouth would have got the full five star treatment but the venue was not great. I love the Queens Theatre, but not for this. You’ve got a precious audience member right here who does not like to be uncomfortable and my gangly legs do not do well in cramped spaces. When I started worrying about Deep Vein Thrombosis rather than focusing on the great performance in front of me, that’s not a good vibe for a show.
Venue aside, loved the concept and Valentijn Dhaenens is a triple threat; sings, acts, speaks a billion languages. Don’t stand next to me you’re making me feel bad.
(4 and a half stars)
- Festival Theatre - Sunday 2nd of March -
I’ve got the sort of attention span that thinks gifs sometimes go on a bit too long so a six hour interpretation of Shakespeare’s work, in Dutch, was always going to be a big ask.
To the credit of theatre group Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Roman Tragedies never felt like a slog (actually the last hour involved a lot of bargaining with my grumbling stomach, or was that the loud impending drums of doom, I’m not sure?)
Coriolanus (hehe anus, because I am adult), Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra are not bodies of work that I have a lot of knowledge regarding but being that they’ve played a large part in pop culture my understanding was enough to get the gist of storylines without the need to constantly read surtitles. It was part House of Cards, part a mirror held up to Australian politics, or any country’s politics for that matter.
Here’s the thing. I wonder if the experience would have been different if I could speak Dutch or if the performance was in English. The play itself is very involved. Whether they’re asking you to tweet along with the show or get on stage and immerse yourself with the set, there’s a lot happening. At times I worried that my lack of attention to dialogue meant I was missing big plot points. Although my ability to live tweet along with the show was rewarded with one appearing on the stage ticker but I won’t reveal what it was. Who am I kidding, I’m not humble enough for that.
But enough about me.
Every single actor on stage earned their seven thousand minute standing ovation. Doing anything for six hours is a test of endurance; wandering around the Festival Theatre with punters up in your grill, spouting off profoundly Shakespearean dialogue, is an exercise in madness. Cleopatra was devilishly hilarious, Mark Antony’s (sans J.Lo) mic dropping speech, flawless. And a big shout out to Dutch Leslie Knope who out lives everyone in this non-singing version of Les Miserables.
I guess the biggest tragedy of all was that with so many Romans on stage there was very little pizza available for my consumption.