Streaking

Ron Hewlett’s lost his job, his mortgage is overdue and his family’s on the brink of revolt. So when a Christchurch radio station offers a million dollars to anyone willing to streak naked at the Super Rugby final, Ron’s got nothing left to lose – except his pants.

How far will Ron go for his family? And how far will he get?


Review
This a comedy is very specific to Christchurch, it features local radio hosts Simon & Gary and references local beaches and sports grounds. The family is very middle-lower class with a sullen teenage son and exuberant daughter who is an expert on military history.

The comedy is very broad and at times you can see the setup coming for the jokes. All done in the best possible taste and with lots of enthusiasm.

There isn’t any show parts for ‘character development’, the story moves at a good pace to it’s surprising end. This is a good laugh throughout and highly recommended. There is even ‘possible nudity’ .

Another Review

 

Evita

Evita is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. The story follows Evita’s early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual death.


Review

One of his shows was described as ‘Andrew Lloyd Weber’s latest re-arrangements of Mendelssohn’s greatest hits’
If correct, it means that Mendelssohn didn’t have that many hits. In fact there are many themes and melody’s that re-occur throughout this mussical. Most of the songs are not that memorable. Everyone knows ‘Don’t cry for me’, but I have always preferred ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’.

And it’s not until this song comes along that the music really picks up. Near the eand I’m sure I heard a few bars of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ at the start of the song.

In retrospect, the story has some problems. Firstly it starts with Eva’s death, why I’m not sure as it robs the play of any dramatic narrative. But the main problem is the character of Eva. The play portrays her as an ambitious woman sleeping her way to the top of Argentine society, becoming aloof and a bit power mad before dying at 33. The play does not explain to my satisfaction why she was so loved by her people.

Wikipedia explains her better:
Eva Perón became powerful within the pro-Peronist trade unions, primarily for speaking on behalf of labor rights. She also ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, founded and ran the charitable Eva Perón Foundation, championed women’s suffrage in Argentina, and founded and ran the nation’s first large-scale female political party, the Female Peronist Party.
In 1951, Eva Perón announced her candidacy for the Peronist nomination for the office of Vice President of Argentina, receiving great support from the Peronist political base, low-income and working-class Argentines who were referred to as descamisados or “shirtless ones”. However, opposition from the nation’s military and bourgeoisie, coupled with her declining health, ultimately forced her to withdraw her candidacy. In 1952, shortly before her death from cancer at 33, Eva Perón was given the title of “Spiritual Leader of the Nation” by the Argentine Congress.

Most of this is skipped over in favour of emphasing her affairs prior to the marriage to Juan Peron.

As for the performance, it’s up the the exellent standards of Showbiz Christchurch. The sets were impressive, with large pieces moved around to great effect. The Cast and chorus delivered with gusto and style. Sound was well done, unlike a previous performance where the sound was so loud there was audible clipping.
Sometimes the tempo and number of voices could overwhelm clarity of the lyrics. So overall, just average.

 

And Then There Were None

 

And Then There Were None is a mystery novel by English writer Agatha Christie, widely considered her masterpiece and described by her as the most difficult of her books to write. It was first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 6 November 1939, as Ten Little Niggers, after the British blackface song, which serves as a major plot point. The US edition was not released until December 1939; its American reprints and adaptations were all re-titled And Then There Were None, the last five words in the original American version of the nursery rhyme (“Ten Little Indians”).

The book was adapted in 2015 to a television serial that was first broadcast on BBC One from 26 to 28 December 2015. It was adapted by Sarah Phelps and directed by Craig Viveiros.

Cast

  • Douglas Booth as Anthony Marston: Accused of killing two children, John and Lucy Coombes, by reckless driving, which he acknowledges.
  • Charles Dance as Justice Lawrence Wargrave: Accused of murdering an innocent man by sentencing him to hang.
  • Maeve Dermody as Vera Claythorne: Accused of murdering Cyril Hamilton, a boy in her care, having encouraged the child to swim out further in the hope that he would drown so her lover, the boy’s uncle, would become heir to the family estate.
  • Burn Gorman as Detective Sergeant William Blore: Accused of murdering a homosexual in a police cell. The actor was also in the Dr Who Torchwood Series.
  • Noah Taylor and Anna Maxwell Martin as Thomas and Ethel Rogers: Accused of murdering a previous employer.
  • Sam Neill as General John MacArthur: Accused of murdering a fellow officer having an affair with his wife.
  • Miranda Richardson as Emily Brent: Accused of being responsible for the suicide of her maid by abandoning her when she became pregnant.
  • Aidan Turner as Philip Lombard: Accused for killing 21 men in Eastern Africa for diamonds.
  • Toby Stephens as Doctor Edward Armstrong: Accused of killing a patient during surgery while drunk.

Review
This starts very slowly, intense shots of scenery and faces, every word seeming to have meaning. Then the killing starts, and the viewer it invited to work out who did it. It’s not until part two that the intensity increases and the body count mounts. A lot of the story is told in flashback, sometimes unnecessarily repeating. Then, at the end just when we think it’s all worked out and we know who did it – a final twist of the knife before all is revealed. Then it becomes apparent why this is considered Agatha’s best story.

Micmacs

Micmacs is a 2009 French comedy film by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film is billed as a “satire on the world arms trade”. It premiered on 15 September 2009 at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Reviews
A man gets hit in the head with a bullet that stays in because of a coin flip by a surgeon. Out of work he falls in with a group of trash fixers. When he finds two companies responsible for the arms dealing that leads to his plight he hatches a plan to bring them to justice. This is a very lightweight and humourous comedy about arms trading. The comedy gets close to the ‘Home Alone’ antics, but with a very French sensibility and touch. Lots of fun, crazy characters make this a fun movie and despite the dark undertones, family entertainment.

Lucifier’s Machine

Lucifier’s Machine
by Steven Savile (2013)
Co-written with Rick Chester

During the basking summer heat a university-based archaeology team uncovers an ancient box bearing the image of Baphomet. They are on a remote French island with strong links to the Knights Templar story. The image of Baphomet itself goes a long way to proving those links as far as the team lead by Dr Kytain are concerned, especially as the Templar were accused of devil worship during their trails. Could this box-a crude yet sophisticated machine centuries ahead of its time-be a vital link to discovering the true nature of the knights relationship to the horned devil? Before they are able to decipher the box’s secrets the entire team are butchered horrifically, and all indications are that an extremist group, Al Aler’eyh, are behind the slaughter. A second linked murder in the hallowed halls of Cambridge University tips off Control to the threat. Tasked with finding the Lucifer Machine and putting an end to this particularly fundamentalist wing of the terror organisation, Noah and Orla find themselves in the adult playground of Dubai, fighting for their lives…


Review

This is a better book due to it’s straight-forward story. There is a bit of torture and excessive violence, but without tipping it out of the thriller genre. The series ends (#5 is an origins story) with one of the best in the series.

 

Wargod

WarGod
by Seven Savile (2012)
Co-Written with Sean Ellis

 

 

t’s the middle of the night. Ronan Frost receives a plea for help from his former commanding officer, an outspoken opponent of globalization who is fascinated in Arthurian lore. Frost’s old comrade is the target of agents of a shadowy conspiracy trying to prevent him from finding the Crocea Mors, the sword of Caesar, and perhaps the very blade that King Arthur pulled from the stone. Frost is sceptical, most of what Denison claims strikes him as bullshit, plain and simple, but there’s no denying that someone is trying to kill him. So he’s going to help. No matter the risk. That’s just who he is.
Across London, Sir Charles dispatches Konstantin Khavin to learn the truth behind the attempted assassination only to discover that the British government want Denison dead at all costs. And because Frost is with him, the Old Man is forced to make a choice—abandon Frost, or lose Ogmios for good. It’s not a choice he ever wanted to make, but he’s going to have to cut Frost loose.


Review:
This book takes things even more into the Dan Brown territory. Ancient swords with magical powers, Caesar, King Arthur and global conspiracies. It all comes together a bit too quickly to have the character development of the previous novels. Still, it’s a damn good thrilling ride with great action pieces and just a bit too much Machiavellian planning to be believable. Still Recommended.

 

Joe’s Planet

Joe Satriani
Crystal Planet (1998)

This is possibly Joe’s best album.  What makes this album work is the great  rhythm section that rumbles and grooves along like a train, allowing Joe to do his 20 fingers stuff on guitar.

The album starts fast with “Up in The Sky”, the track has is a strong knock-out punch of an introduction and Joe illustrates his abilities with a few catchy fast repetitive phrases on top of a rock/thrash/gallop beat with sloppy open hi hats and a very plain but dominant and workable bass riff.

My favorite track is ‘Psycho Monkey’ with a great grungy feel. The rhythm section really piles it on with a belting magnificent low end.

A fantastic must buy album – highly recommended for when you need some musical inspiration or if you just want to be wowed by one of the best guitarists on the planet.

 

 

Oshenerth

Oshenerth
by Alan Dean Foster (2015)


An epic fantasy that takes place entirely underwater.
Best friends Chachel and Glint, a merson and a cuttlefish, are returning from a shark hunt when they stumble upon an unconscious female demon. Taking her back to their reef community to recover, while they decide what to do with her, they wind up stumbling into a unique friendship, one which will change their lives and community for better as the reef dwellers and the demon together fight to preserve themselves and their way of life in the face of enemies and their blue magic.


Review
The best think about this novel is the world building. The environments, creatures and characters have been well thought out and generally obey known science (with the notable exception of talking fish). So there is plenty of scope for an interesting story. Unfortunately the one told is a rather conventional human-conflict type which pits mersons against crabs.

There is also an over-indulgence in coming up with new words for things we know about. The character names can sometimes be a bit weird, with no scheme or reason for some and just how pronunciation works can be confusing. The worst part is that the main protagonist, Irina does not have much agency, things just happen to her or she becomes swept along with the action.

It’s well written, while reading you become engaged with the story. Only after finishing did I realize that there wasn’t much to it. This is a long book that could benefit from some editing to pick up the pacing and remove some of the numerous characters.

The book ends abruptly, indicating that a sequel may be coming. I won’t be bothering.

The World’s End


The World’s End is a 2013 British comic science fiction film directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike and Eddie Marsan. The film follows a group of friends who discover an alien invasion during an epic pub crawl in their home town.

Wright has described the film as “social science fiction” in the tradition of John Wyndham and Samuel Youd (John Christopher). It is the third and final film in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, following Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007).


Review

This starts off slowly, with Simon Pegg as a rather obnoxious character trying to entice on friends on a drinking tour of 12 pubs. It’s funny immediately, the dialogue is quick and sharp and all five main characters have a good go at it. Then, at one pub, during an altercation people start losing their heads and spouting blue blood.
Finally the Science Fiction Horror genre has arrived. From then on, it ramps up the action to a world-changing ending.

This is a well-written comedy, with lots of verbal and physical comedy. Best viewed with a crowd indulging in drinking games, also enjoyable by yourself.

 

Frippian Influences

Frippian Influences

Robert Fripp laid the foundations for progressive rock when he formed King Crimson and released the band’s frightening first album “In the Court of the Crimson King” in 1969. Since then, over the numerous personnel changes and excursions, the band has somehow continued.

Although infrequently mentioned in the press, Robert has had an enormous effect on musicians of at least two and probably three generations. With the forming of the School for Crafty Guitarists in the early 1980s he laid the foundations for a new generation of musicians who would take a unique style and craft unique albums. Here are some of the best…….

California Guitar Trio
Formed by Bert Lams, Hideyo Moriya and Paul Richards after attending Robert’s Guitar courses, CGT has over 10 years of touring and made almost as many albums.

Trey Gunn
He was part of King Crimson that reformed in 1994 as a ‘double trio’. Labelled the ‘good looking one’ (he was the youngest) in the band, Trey also had his own band.

Agent 22
Where King Crimson would fill all the musical spaces with noise, distortion and even more noise, this band opens the musical mix. Every instrument is clear and distinct. This reminds me a lot of Manfred Esher’s ECM jazz output, the production is crystal clear, music like this is often the product of the modern jazz school. Everything may be beautifully produced and shined, but there is nothing of interest. The musicians probably liked it at the time, but for the rest of us, it’s just meandering self indulgence. That isn’t the case there. There are strong songs with a wit and often a swing.