Archive for May, 2011

Snowtown Movie Review

May 25, 2011

Movie: Snowtown

Review by Melanie Dinjaski

Director: Justin Kurzel

Stars: Daniel Henshall, Lucas Pittaway, Craig Coyne

Snowtown is one of those films you love to hate. As fascinating, intense and remarkable as it is, the story of murderers Jamie Vlassakis and John Bunting, is also horrific, brutal and painfully sad.

Set in the depressing housing projects in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, the film is based on the murders which occurred there between 1992-1999 (the bodies of which were later moved to the sleepy regional community of Snowtown).

The ‘Bodies in the Barrels murders’ were a gruesome chapter in South Australian history. But director Justin Kurzel has looked past the story’s horror flick potential (of which it has been exploited for in the past) and produced an emotional, psychological thriller. Through the eyes of fragile protagonist Jamie, the film explores the challenging circumstances which generations of residents in the area have had to endure. The impact of their experience goes some way in explaining how such cruel and vicious murders could have ever taken place.

Snowtown is not a kill count murder film. In Kurzel’s words it is also not just a story about “murderous, freaky bogans”. It is so much more than that. It is a powerful and moving film. One moment you’ll be yelling “Nooooo!” and covering your eyes, before finding yourself transfixed in jaw-dropping awe. It makes you angry at the struggle Jamie and his family must endure, and the cycle of violence that becomes exacerbated within the bored, poverty-stricken, naive and disengaged community Jamie and his family cannot escape from.

But most of all Snowtown shows the desire for belonging and family, and how humanity can emerge in a number of guises – though pain, through desperation, through fear, through frustration.

This is a stand-out, truly gripping Australian film.



Passenger Live Review

May 11, 2011

Passenger, Inland Sea, Jackson McLaren

The Zoo: 06.05.11

 By Rachel Tinney

First to grace the stage on this folk-fuelled night at the Zoo is Melbourne lad Jackson McLaren. At only 20 years of age, the baby-faced McLaren is quick to capture the attention of the early arrivals with his raw and emotive outlook on life. Armed with only his guitar and surrounded by what looks like a graveyard of mic stands (I’m guessing this has something to do with the large number of Inland Sea-ians who are up next) he stands alone on the stage but voice easily fills the room. Halfway through his endearing set, McLaren breaks a string. Faced with the dilemma of being a left-handed guitarist, he borrows a guitar, flips it upside-down, apologises for what could be a potential disaster and continues to play. To the untrained ear, there is barely a fault, proving this boy has talent well beyond his years.

After a brief break, the empty stage is filled, and then some. The ten members of Inland Sea make the large Zoo stage seem tiny as they cram themselves together and invade each other’s personal space just a bit. Performing together as a whole for the first time in a while, they seem delighted to be on stage and eager to perform. However, the crowd doesn’t seem to share that same sentiment. With loud chatter from the bar at the back of the room washing forward, their sweet harmonies are easily lost amongst the noise. This is insanely obvious on Lord I Am Waiting, a ten part a capella piece that would generally have the room so quiet you could hear a pin drop, but not tonight.  All Fall Down distracts the punters from their conversations for a moment but, through no fault of their own, tonight just doesn’t seem to be the night for Inland Sea – which is odd, considering the overall folk theme of the night.

Soon the boy we have all been waiting for steps onto the stage, flanked by a full backing band including the wonderfully talented Stu Larsen on guitar. After only two songs though, Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg) kicks the rest of the band off to bring things down a notch for his signature style of rather depressing songs, including one about “really rubbish break up sex”. To lighten the mood, he throws in a song about the constant rain in London which turns out to be quite funny. He’d easily have a good run as a comedian if all the gloomy heartbreak ever starts to wear him out. It’s soon back to the favourite Passenger tracks but a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence is slipped in much to the delight of both the crowd and Passenger himself.  Too soon he is announcing his final song, Flight of the Crow, and before announcing he doesn’t want to go back to the UK, “I only play to 14 people there”, he disappears only to return quite quickly for a much-wanted encore. Inciting a sing-a-long about all the things he hates which includes the line: “I hate ignorant folks who pay for a gig then talk through every fucking song” (you can almost hear a “fuck yeah!” coming from the Inland Sea camp), he then admits he must sadly go and leaves the stage for good.

Nothing Extraordinary Ever Happens In Toowoomba (Ever)

May 5, 2011

By James Cobb

After an award-winning debut at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2008, Sarah Collins has brought her one-woman show to the Brisbane Powerhouse for what promises to be a very successful season.  Nothing Extraordinary Ever Happens In Toowoomba (Ever) is an engaging and interactive comedy about dysfunctional relationships, overcoming adversity, and rediscovering what it means to be a kid.

The performance is told through the eyes of Kevin John and his quest to overcome the monotonous boredom he feels with being ‘just an ordinary kid’.  Collins takes the audience on a heart-warming journey that is filled with anecdotes and fantastic characters that are incredibly sincere and quite often, all-too-familiar.  Her ability to capture the essence and naturalness of twenty different characters with a simple change of costume or expression is a tribute to her ability as a performer.

When you enter the space, you are greeted with a small stage, very basic props and a minimal lighting rig.  I was amazed at the number of different ways she used these materials.  It is fair to say that Collins is a genius when it comes to creating entire worlds with the most basic materials.  She relies as much on the audience’s imagination as she does on her own.  Instead of spoon-feeding you every detail, she sets your imagination free.

Nothing Extraordinary Ever Happens In Toowoomba (Ever) is running at the Brisbane Powerhouse until Saturday 15th May (excluding Mondays).  All ticketing information and performance times can be found at the Brisbane Powerhouse Website: