Category Archives: performing arts

DocEdge 17 | Max Gimblett : Original Mind

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Australia / United States | 2017 | 50 min | English | Rhys Mitchell

‘Max Gimblett : Original Mind’ is a glimpse into the life of Max Gimblett – one of  New Zealand’s most outstanding living Artists – and gives us insight to the workings of his Loft Studio in New York, which he acquired in 1974.

Gimblett talks about some of his earlier inspiration; being influenced by Matisse and starting ink drawing while he was in San Francisco in the mid 60’s, and becoming more strongly influenced by Japanese Calligraphy a few years later, when he was in Indiana. This influence helps us understand perhaps why he moved to Buddhism; He is now an avowed Rensai Zen Priest. These concepts and belief systems are evident in much of his work, and his spirituality seems to be a driving force behind his studio practice, as well as his everyday life.

Gimblett’s approach of creating, doing and feeling before over-thinking results in much of his extraordinarily expressive yet minimalist paintings and drawings. Over the years he has built an impressive and immense body of work, and this is continuously growing – his creative genius seemingly no where near exhausted.

‘Max Gimblett : Original Mind’ is 50 minutes of enjoyment and insight into one of New Zealand’s most relevant and intriguing artists, and well worth viewing.

The 12th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 24 May – 5 June – www.docedge.nz

DocEdge 17 | Tokyo Idols

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Canada / United Kingdom | 2017 | 89 min | Japanese / English Sub | Kyoko Miyake

Tokyo Idols focuses on idol culture in Japan and is more of an overview, rather than an in-depth look at what is a facinating subject.

We are introduced to young aspiring idols (some very young), and the journey that they inevitably will take on their road to success – or not. With so many eager would-be idols striving for the top spot, the competition is fierce and truly popularity based. A dominating factor of this popularity contest is based on a superficial image constructed by and for the individual. Innocence, youth, vitality, and cuteness are all key qualitites.

The fandom (and potential to profit from ‘super-fans’) is what seemingly drives this industry; However, once you start looking closer at this, questions start arising. Why are these sometimes significantly older men so emotionally invested in these young girls? Is it obsession? How healthy or unhealthy is this obsession?

With a constructed image of innocence and youth catering so blatantly to the personal desires of these fans, one has to consider some realities, such as safety of the idols (and perhaps a few other things).

This is cleverly illustrated with the characters we are introduced to; specifically Rio Hiiragi, or ‘RioRio’, to her fans. She is paving her way to hopeful success by doing her own promotional work, and utilises her small fan-base for support; you can truly see her earnest determination to succeed.

If you have little to zero knowledge of the subject, I would  highly recommend this as a introduction or taster if you will; It provides a fantastic overview as well as an objective take on Idol culture.

Absolutely recommend.

 

The 12th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 24 May – 5 June – www.docedge.nz

DocEdge 17 | Bugs

Bugs

Bugs, directed by Andreas Johnson, follows researcher Josh Evans, chef Ben Reade and chef Roberto Flore of the Nordic Food Lab for The Insect Project as they travel the globe discovering edible insects and the delicious ways to prepare them.

From termites in Kenya, to maggot-infested cheese (casu marzu) in Italy, to ant eggs (escamole) in Mexico and even wasps in Japan, Bugs takes you on a journey full of extraordinary delicacies.

The documentary treats its subject with sensitivity and respect. As the people from The Insect Project embark on their unusual culinary adventure, they don’t use eating insects as a mere stunt for the camera or an entertainment opportunity to laugh like tourists at the “weird” things that others eat. They make it plain that these insects are an integral part of an entire culture and way of life.

Bugs does a good job of showing the inner conflict of the people behind The Insect Project as they wrestle with wanting to bring more attention to insects as a food source while knowing that their work will also help corporations exploit a new protein source unsustainably. This is a key point of difference for Bugs to other documentaries or videos that I have watched about edible insects as a potential solution to world hunger – it fights to include sustainability as part of the discourse and calls into question methods of production or collection.

Josh Evans leaves you with a thought-provoking question at the end of the documentary – is it really that there is not enough food in the world or is the big issue equality of access to food instead?

Bugs is an interesting documentary that raises complex moral and cultural issues about the food we consume and the system that produces it.

 

The 12th DocEdge Festival takes place in Wellington 10-21 May and Auckland 24 May – 5 June – www.docedge.nz

 

 

 

 

NZICF 17 | Justine Smith – An Hour Roughly

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Justine Smith is probably best described as a raconteuse.

The chill of an Auckland Autumn night became a distant memory as we packed into Vault at Q Theatre for an hour of hair-raising tales and no-holds-barred humour, spiced with frequent colourful language and served with lashings of opinionated style. The show flies by and feels like a fraction of a night out with an entertaining, lively new best friend.

Loosely based around the theme of Nature and Nurture, Justine’s show opens with a musical introduction to her family – in fact, family is a recurring theme throughout the evening, as she explores the story of her adoption in sometimes brutally honest style.

Justine’s time spent travelling in her twenties and, later, working in the hospitality industry have sharpened her banter like none other. Life, love, travel, work, men and children – no subject is safe from her hilariously frank observations and sharp-tongued opinions.

Go and see her if you like your stories lurid and your laughs frequent – just maybe don’t ask her about the third time she got arrested… Get tickets HERE.

3/5 Stars

JUSTINE SMITH performs at Vault at Q Theatre until Saturday May 20th as part of the 2017 NZ International Comedy Festival from 27 April – 21 May. For the full line-up of shows in the Festival head to the Comedy Fest website!

NZICF 17| Hal Cruttenden – Straight Outta Cruttenden

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Last night Hal Cruttenden made a strong initial impression entering stone-faced to NWA – his nod to the show’s title. He then opened his mouth, broke the spell, and treated the audience to some very British humor.

Interestingly, the naming of the show can be credited to Hal’s recent re-immersion to hip hop music after a hiatus of a few decades; In fact my favourite aspects of the show were perhaps his musings on age and the passage of time. Shakespeare talks about the 7 stages of man; He cleverly condensed it to about 3.

Hal also unabashedly interacted with the audience, ribbing them mercilessly but, for the most part in a non-combative tone (though maybe the biggest laugh of the night came when, on learning about the presence of psychiatrists in his audience, Hal ordered them to “LEAVE NOW”).

The choice of material, and his intelligent commentary on most of it were all fantastic, however his greatest strength is that he seems truly relatible. Scattered with the occasional segue and rant, Hal transitioned smoothly from Brexit to the folly of youth to parenting teenagers to his own upbringing and relationships – the night studded with many a groan or laugh of recognition from the audience. He is clearly intelligent, and clearly concerned with the state of the world – that said, the fact he left America well alone was actually rather refreshing (perhaps it provides too much easy material). He is a comedian who certainly knows how to read the audience and their responses.

The evening passed quickly and energetically, and I can’t recommend you go see him enough, as he really is a true comedic professional.

Get tickets to experience Hal Cruttenden in all of his glory HERE.

4/5 Stars

HAL CRUTTENDEN performs at The Classic until Saturday May 20th as part of the 2017 NZ International Comedy Festival from 27 April – 21 May. For the full line-up of shows in the Festival head to the Comedy Fest website!

 

NZICF 17 | Dusty Rich – Dusty Rich and The Voices

Dusty Rich

After years of living dangerously and sitting in the front row at comedy shows, it finally happened. The comedian called on me to interact with him, and it could not have been for a better set. I lied about my name and neglected to mention my other job as a writer who was reviewing his show, and I’ll always have regrets about the hilarity that might have ensued had I done so.

South African comedian Dusty Rich has a manic and masterful improvisational style, with an effective use of bodily movements for physical comedy as well, that makes him a true delight to watch. You have no idea where it’s going, but it will leave you in stitches. It is this talent that most notably made him a perfect opening act for three of The Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s shows, and the host of one of Trevor Noah’s tours.

I had never experienced a comedy show where almost the entire set was composed of audience interaction. You would expect such a performance to feel fragmented given the range of tangents the audience could provide, but Dusty always finds a way to personally relate and bounces around the room without ever missing a beat. Never fear if Dusty points your way – quick-witted, engaging, and likeable, he is never mean-spirited. You are made to feel like a part of his performance, not a pawn in it.

Embracing his roots, Dusty is at his best when comparing our cultures, describing the beginning of colonialism in South Africa when the indigenous Khoisan met white people, and skewering the South African government.

Regardless of where you come from, everyone will find something to laugh hysterically at in his show.

4 out of 5 stars

Dusty Rich and The Voices

NZICF 17 | Ed Gamble – The Best of Ed Gamble

Ed Gamble

Comedian Ed Gamble is a regular performer at the famed Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and I hope he becomes a regular here in New Zealand as well. Full of classically British self-deprecating humour, enthusiasm and charm, he guides you through trials of internal panic and bodily betrayal with easy laughter.

Earlier in his career, Gamble was best known for his work as one half of the comedic duo Gamble & Peacock. In 2014 Gamble debuted his first solo stand-up act and since then has had numerous television appearances, including regular spots on BBC2’s Mock of the Week, a headline stand-up spot on Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central and a performance on the US television show Conan. In addition, he is also the star of BBC America’s faux reality show Almost Royal, in which he plays a clueless British aristocrat experiencing America for the first time.

In his own words tonight, “As a comedian, my goal is to lure you in with observational material and then make you think I’m disgusting”. But, strangely, I don’t. I think he’s genius.

Gamble’s interaction with the audience throughout his performance was a highlight. Full of sharp wit and observations about both British and New Zealand stereotypes, he immediately made the audience warm to him.

His flatulence, propensity to panic and say exactly the wrong thing, adult circumcision, and foreign hair in the strangest of places…nothing is off limits. Gamble’s comedy set is very personal and he deftly manages to turn his insecurities and the awkward experiences of the human condition into comedic gold without being overly crass.

Exceeding thirty years of age holds nothing positive for some people, but for Gamble the transition into a new stage of life is a wealth of humorous content for his set. From navigating the bizarre living habits of girlfriends once they move in, to deciphering whether the universe is signalling that it’s time to reproduce, if Gamble is anything he is incredibly relatable and honest.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Be sure to catch Ed Gamble at the Comedy Festival performing in Auckland until the 6th of May and in Wellington on the 14th of May. You can buy tickets to see him here.