Tag Archives: Festival

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 | Fallen Flowers, Thick Leaves

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Netherlands / Germany | Chinese / English Sub | 2017 | 80 min | Laetitia Schoofs

‘Fallen Flowers, Thick Leaves’ subject matter is highly relevant and current, touching on sensitive issues not often discussed in Chinese culture and commonly considered taboo. In-depth sexual education for women is scarce and not as widely available in this setting, and we gain some insight into what is becoming more available in terms of education in modern Chinese culture, with the happiness and satisfaction of these women in mind.

Much is still suppressed in regards to the control the Government exercises, however this is being challenged  – we are introduced to some captivating women; intelligent, independant and attractive. Women whom are sometimes condisered ‘freaks’, as they are unmarried, single, without children and past their mid-twenties. They are subject to the cultural and societal pressures placed upon them, however the discovery and acceptance of the fact that they do not need to reply on a male partner for their sexual satisfaction is empowering to some.

Director Laetitia Schoofs has a sensitivity and gentle beauty to the treatment of her subject, which is felt throughout the viewing of “Fallen Flowers, Thick Leaves’. At times I was reminded of last years DocEdge screening for ‘Inside the Chinese Closet’, and in a way these films are both linked – hopefully creating some awareness and understanding of the juxtaposition of a culture held back by tradition, but propelling towards modernerty at a rate which highlights these shortcomings so blatantly.

Highly recommended.

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

 

 

 

 

 

DocEdge 17 | The Last Laugh

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Is it ever acceptable to make jokes about a real tragedy? This is the question at the heart of Ferne Pearlstein’s documentary The Last Laugh, which focuses on humour and the Holocaust. The documentary includes interviews with a range of comedians, directors and actors, from the legendary Mel Brooks to Judy Gold, Carl Reiner and Sarah Silverman. It also explores a number of musicals, films and skits that address the Holocaust in a comedic light. Examining the fine line between bad taste and successful comedy, the documentary pushes viewers to consider the concept of free speech in our increasingly PC world

To clarify one thing, in no way is The Last Laugh trying to claim that the Holocaust itself is funny. “But survival, and what it takes to survive…there can be humour in that,” Reiner points out. Furthermore, humour can be an avenue for coping with trauma: “it’s a way of dealing with an unbearable reality,” writer Etgar Keret says. “It’s a way of protesting [and] keeping your dignity.” Is it then simply a matter of time that makes it acceptable to joke about extreme tragedy? Does time make a difference, or will it never be okay? “You cannot forget,” claims one survivor at the Holocaust Survivors Convention in Las Vegas. “The shadow is following me all my life.” To her, and several others at the convention, it is wrong and deeply offensive to joke about the Holocaust. However as Renee Firestone, another survivor who features throughout the documentary, notes, you have to learn to live your life away from the shadow. Mentioning her three great-grandchildren she laughs, claiming “that’s my revenge” against Hitler.

Does this mean it is then a question of who can tell a story? Is it acceptable for Jewish survivors to joke about the Holocaust, but implausible for anyone else? The documentary looks at other examples to broaden the scope of the argument, comparing the situation to 9/11, the aids epidemic, slavery and white supremacy. It’s certainly thought-provoking, begging the question that, in a world of supposed free speech, are the people who have experienced a tragedy the only ones qualified to publicly address it?

Regardless, the interviewees all agree on the difficulty of joking about such a tragic historical moment. There is far more pressure for risky comedy of this nature to be humorous, Gold claims. “You can’t tell a crappy joke about the biggest tragedy in the world!” Despite the risk, Silverman believes that comedy should be used as a way of contemplating devastating occurrences. “It’s important to talk about things that are taboo,” she says. “Otherwise they just stay in this dark place and they become dangerous.” By discussing a topic only through education, museums and other ‘acceptable’ channels, do we lose sight of its importance and relegate it to a thing of the past? Perhaps. The Last Laugh will make you consider all of the above questions and then some. Maybe, however, we should just maintain Reiner’s personal view: “I don’t have a philosophy about it,” he states. “I just know that it’s a lot more fun to laugh than not to laugh.”

 

The 12th DocEdge Festival takes place 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 16 | Tim Batt – Vote Batt

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Tim Batt brings his show, Vote Batt, to this years NZICF, in what was a worthwhile satirical political rally. Downstairs at the Montecristo, quite a bit of buzz had built up. The waiting area was relatively full and the atmosphere was a little thick – possibly because things were running behind and the wait was less than ideal.

Batt started off strong, and was solid throughout. His confidence was tangible during the show, although some of his delivery was  a little off, and his tangents became a little distracting during the 45 minutes. Due to time restraints and the late start, Batt had to self edit, and I feel like we missed out on parts that would have really helped the overall body of his performance.

Dressed in AC/DC-esque school shorts and tie, we were on the ultimately on the receiving end of a campaign rally crossed with a stand-up routine, scattered with misguided insight and slogan building. He even managed to convince the room there was a fifty-bag taped beneath a lucky audience members’ seat. He lied.

See? He’s already on the fast-track to the Beehive.

3.5/5 Stars

Get your tickets for Tim Batt, and see him dressed as Angus Young HERE.