Survivor: Where Are You?!

With the greatest reality television show ever created starting in the US on 21 September, Australian audiences are left screaming “what the fuck?!” at Channel 9 and Go! who for some unknown reason are refusing to fast track Survivor to our screens. With the modern age of social media upon us where everything is seconds away at our fingertips this, quite frankly, sucks dog’s balls. Especially given Channel 10’s neverbloodyending Australian Survivor series begins to take a turn for the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

As a bit of a die hard fan I am pissed off. I’m pissed off with Australian Survivor and Channel 10 for refusing to stick to the short, sharp and to the point traditional format-90 minute episodes are too long and 55 days for the season is way too long. I’m pissed off with Channel 9 for not fast tracking season 33 of the US series when we fans clearly want it!

So, to alleviate my pissed offedness and as a reminder to me and others in the world of how insanely awesome Survivor is, here is my review of season 28, Cagayan, also known as Brains vs Brawn vs Beauty, as published on AMH Network via AMH Entertainment in 2014.

 

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Survivor: Cagayan – season 28

Reality television’s bad boy Survivor returned in 2014 for a mammoth 28th season with the never before used concept of Brains versus Brawn versus Beauty.

Again hosted by Jeff Probst, the show initially sees 3 teams of 6 contestants compete to see who will outwit, outplay and outlast the others to be the sole survivor and winner of $1 million.

For the first time since season 24 there were no returning players. After the average Blood vs Water season 27 this was a good thing as it looked like Survivor was returning back to its roots and not attempting to monopolise on past successes. The question was would this strategy work in producing a great series? Yes. Yes it did.

The thing that was wonderful about the Brains versus Brawns versus Beauty concept is that producers finally acknowledged and faced head on a series of questions that have plagued many. What does it take to win Survivor? Is it brains or is it brawn or for some bizarre reason the way one looks? Do the highly physical contestants have a better shot of winning compared to the strategy driven intelligent? Or is a combination of both traits required? All these questions are answered in the most entertaining of fashions in this season.

First and foremost let’s address the issue of why the beauty tribe was included. Boobs and cut bods. That’s it. Given there were no returning players producers needed a selling point and what sells better than sex? Not much. Did they ever have a chance against the Brawn and Brains tribes? No. In fact all the members of the Beauty tribe were totally eliminated by day 30.

Surprisingly the Brains tribe got off to a terrible start to the competition having lost 3 out of the first 4 immunity challenges. Unsurprisingly the final four consisted of 2 Brains and 2 Brawns highlighting that a combination of both traits is evidently required in order to make it far in this game.

The wonderful thing that season 28 generated, other than A class entertainment, was the emergence of a new hero Spencer, from the Brain’s tribe, and a new villain Tony, from the Brawn tribe, and their open rivalry. Both characters, despite having vastly different personalities, were also very similar in a number of ways which made their rivalry fantastic to watch in particular at tribal council. Even when Spencer and Tony joined forces to get further in the game they were still wary of each other as being the other’s biggest threat to win. Nevertheless it was expected that the two would make it to the final tribal council. But this is Survivor, and Survivor is anything but predictable. Spencer was voted out in 4th position while Tony lasted until the final 2 with beta hero and fellow Brawn tribe mate, Woo. Not since season 18 has Survivor seen only 2 people face the jury at the final tribal council instead of 3 highlighting the show’s unpredictability and ability to keep things interesting even if reverting back to old concepts to do so.

Survivor: Cagayan encompassed everything that is right and good about this reality television show. Whilst remaining true to the core concept of finding the sole survivor via physical, social and mental challenges it brought together a group of 18 strangers who were not afraid to play the game with passion, they were all playing to win. This created some of the greatest, most candid tribal councils and challenges in the history of the show. The final tribal council was no exception. The hostile jury took a no holds barred approach with their line of questioning and statement making. As with the rest of the game, predicting a winner was difficult. In the end it was llama talking, New Jersey police office and Survivor villain Tony who won. Despite his questionable tactics to achieve the ultimate goal, he was a brilliant player and a deserved winner.

The next instalment of this show, Survivor: San Juan Del Sur, reverts back to the tried and tested concept of Blood versus Water. It will air in September 2014.

5 stars

 

Chet Faker Review

When I was working for AMH Network I traveled to Sydney a few times to review bands. In this particular situation I almost didn’t make it at all due to one of the strangest and rarest occurrences.

I arrived at Adelaide airport to news that my flight, scheduled to leave around about 8:30am, was delayed. Whilst I grabbed coffee and breakfast I checked my Twitter feed only to discover that Sydney airport had experienced a power failure and flights in and out were being stopped indefinitely. As I already had booked not only my flights, but my accommodation and paid for concert tickets to Chet Faker, and I was scheduled to review the gig for AMH Network I was growing increasing concerned that I may not actually make it at all, and if I wasn’t able to touch down by 7pm at the very latest there was no point in going. As much as that thought crushed me, it was a very real option.

I, together with thousands of people, waited impatiently and tried to find out what was going on as nobody really had any idea including airline staff. Minutes stretched to hours and finally we were told our flights were cancelled.

Because I’m a tight arse and try to get the cheapest flights possible, everyone on my flight (and others throughout the day) with Jetstar were eventually transferred to afternoon flights with QANTAS once Sydney airport confirmed flights were free to resume. Finally taking the cheap option paid off for me!

I eventually left Adelaide at 3:40pm and arrived in Sydney at 5pm ish just in time to grab some dinner, get ridiculously drunk and see Chet Faker perform at the iconic Enmore Theatre.

Here is my review of that show as published in AMH Network in 2014…

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Chet Faker

Donned from head to ankle in black, Melbourne singer/songwriter/producer Nick Murphy casually walked on stage as Chet Faker to a rapturous crowd after a gorgeous set from Youmi Zouma at the Enmore on Friday night.

Launching into Archangel the sold out theatre was instantly transfixed by the electronic beats of this 26 year old who is still relatively new on the professional scene.

Faker took the eclectic crowd through the ebbs and flows of his personal experiences via each song. From the heartfelt I’m Into You, an homage to an ex-girlfriend, to the tweaky Cigarettes and Chocolate which he dedicated to his deceased beagle, we were privy to a multitude of personal moments from Faker’s life, allowed to witness them via song and performance and embrace them as our own.

For such a young person Faker came across as veteran performer. His informal approach to the gig was refreshing. His ability to banter with the crowd, to share stories and feelings was thoroughly enjoyable. However, his soapbox speech regarding the state of current live music and its seeming lack of spontaneity was unconvincing given he produced what appeared to be a very rehearsed and well thought out set. But it didn’t matter, because the music was nothing short of awesome.

Faker was able to hold his own on that stage, yet had two backing musicians for a handful of songs to highlight his diverse repertoire including a cover of Jeff Buckley’s I Want Someone Badly. But it was the ‘blink and you’ll miss him’ cameo appearance of Flume which saw the crowd erupt into deafening screams. I’m not sure why since Flume’s appearance did nothing except cement the musical bromance between the two. Any hope of an impromptu performance in support of Faker’s soapbox speech earlier was dashed as he left the stage just as quick as he appeared on it. A missed opportunity.

With an equal selection of songs from both Thinking in Textures and Built on Glass in addition to the odd cover thrown in for good measure, Chet Faker produced a solid, emotive and passionate performance. If this is what we get from an ‘inexperienced’ performer just image how good this guy will be in a decade.

4/5

 

 

 

 

Shameless US Season 1 Review

Last week it was brought to my attention that I completely missed season 5 of Shameless US when it aired at the beginning of 2015. So I set about to watch it in the quickest manner possible. I’m about half way through, so not that quick really. In the meantime, I take you back to where the chaos first began with my season 1 review, published on AMH Entertainment via AMH Network many years ago…

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Shameless (US) – Season 1

More often than not history dictates that television show remakes not only annoy audiences but also fail to replicate the success of their originators – think Top Gear Australia, AbFab (US) and Kath & Kim (US). Shameless (US) is one of the exceptions to the rule.

Created in 2009 by John Wells but airing in 2011, Shameless (US) is the remake of the United Kingdom show of the same name. Season 1 introduces audiences to the dysfunctional Gallagher family consisting of patriarch and alcoholic Frank (William H. Macy) and his children Fiona (Emmy Rossum), Phillip “Lip” (Jeremy Allen White), Ian (Cameron Monaghan), Debbie (Emma Kenney), Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) and Liam (Brennan Kane Johnson & Blake Alexander Johnson), and follows their daily lives.

The storyline of Shameless (US) remains relatively close to that of the original show which tends to work in its favour. Frank has left his family after commencing a relationship, of sorts, with Sheila Jackson (originally played by Allison Janney in the pilot episode, but later replaced by Joan Cusack). Sheila is an agoraphobic and germophobe. She receives maximum disability benefits due to her conditions. It is for this reason Frank becomes involved with her and a good indication of what Frank is capable of.

The use of veteran A-list actors Macy and Cusack offers a form of credibility to the show since the majority of the remainder of the cast, although experienced, are not known to any great extent beyond the United States. Thus for international viewers the freshness of the cast, and a good one at that, yields one of many reasons to watch.

Shameless (US) season 1 uses a different director for each episode. The realisation that some of those directors include David Nutter (The X-Files, The Mentalist), Mimi Leder (LA Law, Deep Impact) and Stephen Hopkins (Californication, 24) allows viewers to understand that they are in capable hands. The exceptional direction is further complimented by the sublime writing of veterans Alex Borstein (MADtv, Family Guy), Mike O’Malley (My Name Is Earl, Glee), Nancy Pimental (South Park, The Sweetest Thing) and Etan Frankel (Gossip Girl, Friday Night Lights). Audiences need not exert any effort watching Shameless (US) as this combination allows them to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Although adapted from the UK version, Shameless (US) is a far superior product. The 12 episodes of season 1 simply introduce audiences to the characters allowing them to become intrigued by their dysfunctional lives. The ensemble cast, and quite a large one, encourages the storylines to be rich and plentiful. We watch with disbelief at Frank as he does, well everything really. We quietly offer support for Fiona as tries to raise her 5 siblings on her own while attempting to live the life of a 21 year old and as Lip is recognised for his genius yet continues to abuse it. We discover Ian’s homosexuality before his family do and wonder if Debbie is truly a Gallagher given her good hearted nature. We hope that Carl does not turn out to be a serial killer given his penchant for killing stray animals and are equally as surprised as the Gallagher’s when Liam, an African American, is confirmed to be the child of 2 Caucasian parents.

While everybody will not be able to empathise or sympathise with everything that is occurring to the characters it is probably a good thing because the extreme nature of events in Shameless (US) season 1 will leave you thankful for your own, relatively simple life.

5 stars

The Walking Dead Season 1 Review

With season 6 of The Walking Dead due to premiere 11 October 2015, I’m taking you back to where it all began with my season 1 review published on AMH Network…

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The Walking Dead – Season 1

While on holidays recently I was stranded indoors due to inclement weather. Although I was unable to enjoy the beauty that is South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula I was able to enjoy what the remainder of the world has long been obsessed with: The Walking Dead. In hindsight I am thankful for the storm that hit us because otherwise I would quite possibly never have been privy to such awesomeness on my television screen.

As an avid viewer, reader and at times believer of all things undead since the age of 12, I was prepared for the newest instalment of the genre. I was not disappointed.

Based on a series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, The Walking Dead premiered in the United States in 2010 and in Australia in 2012. It focused on the zombie apocalypse and how the survivors well, survive.

Protagonist and Sherriff’s Deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was shot in the line of duty pre-apocalypse. He awakened to zombies, or walkers as they are referred to, roaming the streets. His initial quest was to find his wife and child who he was adamant had survived. Indeed they had and by all accounts had also moved on with their lives. Rick’s wife Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) and their son Carl (Chandler Riggs) had joined forces with Rick’s partner and best friend Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), Andrea (Laurie Holden) and her sister Amy (Emma Bell), Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), Glenn (Steven Yeun), T-Dog (IronE Singleton), Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride) and her daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz) amongst a handful of others whose presence was secondary. Curiously, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon was credited only as a guest star during season 1 despite portraying a character that was more prominent than some permanent cast members. One imagines this indicated there would be a rapid demise for the character.

The first 3 episodes of the season introduced almost all the key characters and laid the foundation for pending storylines. In a nutshell Lori was sleeping with Shane a few months after Shane convinced her Rick had died. Imagine her shock when Rick arrived at the camp very much alive. Awkward! Shane was unable to extinguish his love for Lori and this storyline continued for the remainder of the season. Lori, the loving wife that she is, didn’t tell Rick about her affair.

Episode 4 ‘Vatos’ slightly altered the path being followed and prepared you for events that eventually became the norm in this new post-apocalyptic world: additional survivors were introduced. This had the group not only struggling to overcome the myriad of walkers that they were faced with, but the new survivors also. After an initial standoff the two groups exchanged pleasantries and parted ways. This meeting served to highlight that pockets of survivors existed across the United States who were also fighting for survival and were potentially unwilling to fight for the same cause. The conclusion of the episode was gruesome with a large proportion of the group being attacked and killed by a herd of

walkers and subsequently re-killed by others in the group.

Episode 5 ‘Wildfire’ and episode 6 ‘TS-19’ had the group reach and inhabit the Atlanta Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) where Dr Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich) was attempting to ascertain the cause and possible resolution of the process that created walkers. However, the group’s time at the CDC was short lived as was season 1 which concluded after episode 6. This tactic was extremely effective for it was just enough time to allow you to become involved with the storyline yet left you hanging and yearning for season 2.

The impact of The Walking Dead is apparent from episode 1. It picks you up without warning and slams you to the ground with such force that you’re left stunned yet strangely wanting more. The gore level is high but watchable, even for the squeamish, thanks to the exceptional 24 person strong series make up department. The volume of the cast is ample to begin with but approximately half of them are culled before the conclusion of the season including key characters, but not Daryl rendering my prior prediction incorrect. This is a timely reminder to audiences that loss is a primary component of this series and to expect it often; become attached to the characters at your own will.

Season 1 successfully grabs you hook, line and sinker. The question now is whether season 2, due to air in the United States in October 2012, can continue along the same amazing path that has been paved.

5 stars

Arcade Fire…

In 2008 I was sitting on the grass in front of the Orange Stage at the Big Day Out with my friends. We were listening to a band we couldn’t see and none of us had a program on us. The days of festival apps were not yet upon us so we had to guess who it was that was playing. I recognised a song, and another, and another until it finally clicked that we were watching Arcade Fire. Wait…Arcade Fire. Holy hell, I was watching Arcade Fire! And they were simply amazing.

That gig, to this day, is one of my top two of all time and because of it Arcade Fire became one of my favourite bands.

Throughout the following years they released The Suburbs, didn’t tour Australia to promote it, and their significance in my life grew considerably bigger (see Reflektor (Act 1)). When they finally returned to our shores in 2014 for the Big Day Out and a handful of side-shows shortly after the Reflektor LP was released I was lucky enough to attend as both a manic fan and writer for AMH Network. Below is my review of their Sydney side-show performance.

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Arcade Fire

Canada’s Arcade Fire graced the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Tuesday 28 January 2014 in their second and final Big Day Out sideshow.

Having been primed for the main event by Diplo, the near capacity crowd were completely prepared for the emergence of Arcade Fire on the stage, but on the stage is not where they appeared. Instead Win Butler, Regine Chassange and Owen Pallett introduced the show from the crowd with a fragment from My Body Is a Cage from their 2007 critically acclaimed album, Neon Bible. The crowd erupted as they traversed onto the stage and launched into Reflektor.

With the customary ten piece touring line up on stage, Arcade Fire flawlessly manoeuvred from song to song initially with minimal banter; their familiarity highlighting their comfort with each other and personifying professionalism without the added ego so many bands of their calibre exhibit.

The 19 song set, including encore, encompassed songs from each of the bands four LP’s ensuring fans, both old and new, were left beaming. In fact, they were not only beaming, but they were on their feet cheering and dancing for the entire set. This enthusiasm spread to the stage as every member of the ensemble brought their A game to Sydney that night.

Arcade Fire looked as though they were having the time of their lives up on that stage. They looked like they wanted to be there. This in turn pumped up the crowd even more turning a little ‘ol rock concert into a veritable love-in with the emphasis being on fantastic music as opposed to sex.

The band’s focus was clearly on the music. The set was unassuming ensuring distractions were kept to a minimum. Even the bobble head prop they had become known for via Reflektor only made one appearance throughout the night—during the band’s homage to one of Australia’s greatest exports, INXS, as they covered Devil Inside towards the end of the main set. The inclusion of this into the set list served to send the crowd into an even bigger frenzy then they already were in. This frenzy was monopolised by dropping Here Comes the Night Time immediately afterwards officially ending the main set and quite literally causing chaos within the Entertainment Centre.

After a short interlude they returned to finish the night off with the motivational Ready to Start and ended their epic night with Wake Up that was compounded by a magnificent confetti bomb that engulfed the venue and every punter in it.

After a six-year absence from touring Australia, the 2008 Big Day Out being their previous performance here, Arcade Fire made up for omitting us from their The Suburbs tour with this one show alone. Quintessential performers, raw and real, they came, they delivered and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

4 1/2 stars

Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 Review

A few weeks ago I started re-watching Breaking Bad. As was the case when I watched it the first time, I squeed with delight when I saw Krysten Ritter appear at the end of Season Two as Jane. I fell in love with Krysten from her portrayal of Chloe in Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23. I have been enamoured with her ever since.

So here is my Season One review of Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 as published on AMH Network some years ago…

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Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 – Season 1

Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 is one of the latest sitcoms to be imported from the United States to pay TV in Australia. And it’s one of the better ones.

The series follows the story of June Colburn (Dreama Walker) who has travelled from Indiana to start a new life in New York with her fiancé. Things, however, don’t quite go according to plan. By the conclusion of the first episode June no longer has a job, or an apartment, or a fiancé. She has been forced, by necessity, to move into apartment 23 with Chloe McGruff (Krysten Ritter), a party girl, con artist and bitch. Chloe’s best friend is James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) starring as James Van Der Beek (yes, you read correctly) who is attempting to resurrect his flailing career.

Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 centres around the escapades of June, Chloe and James and neighbours Robin (Liza Lapira) and Eli (Michael Blaiklock) and if you’re not hooked by the conclusion of episode one don’t even bother continuing to watch because the remaining 6 episodes follow exactly the same formula.

Walker’s portrayal of June is appropriate but lacklustre in comparison to those of Ritter and Van Der Beek. Ritter absolutely shines as Chloe while Van Der Beek is exceptional in his portrayal of his fictionalised self. It is evident immediately that he is simply taking the piss out of himself and it is genuinely hilarious. The three together however, have such a wonderful rapport that it adds to the show’s quality and to its watchability. The casting is suitable with each character, including the minor ones, being believable despite their world being less than believable at times.

One charming element of Don’t Trust the Bitch… is its writing. This is primarily due to its reminiscence of films scripts from Hollywood’s golden era, specifically the wonderful Melodramas. The dialogue is fast paced, witty, intelligent and successfully keeps you on your toes while allowing you to remain interested in what is occurring. It is not in depth or meaningful but it is extremely funny with multiple laugh out loud moments guaranteed in every episode. Given the myriad of credited writers in 7 episodes, the consistency in the script writing is impressive.

The storylines themselves range from the ordinary such as episode 1, Pilot, which is a standard introduction to the characters and the overall concept of the show, to the absurd such as episode 5, Making Rent…, which sees June make and sell jam in an attempt to raise that month’s rent while Chloe secretly films her linking the footage to a fetish website created in order to achieve the same goal. Regardless of the storylines themselves they are consistently funny.

Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 is the perfect 22 minute escape from reality. It’s light hearted, at times ridiculous, but always funny. It has been renewed for a second season and is due to air in the United States at the end of October 2012.

Season 1 is currently airing in Australia on Arena.

4 stars / 5

 

What We Do In The Shadows

A conversation on Twitter over the weekend reminded me of my film review of the New Zealand film What We Do In The Shadows which was published on AMH Network in 2014. It was not an Academy Award Nominated film, but a stand out of the year in my opinion…

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

University friend’s Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Boy) join forces to write, direct and star in their first feature film together.

What We Do in the Shadows is a comedy, horror mockumentary focusing on the lives of four flatmates in New Zealand. We follow Viago (Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), Vladislav (Clement) and Petyr (Ben Fransham), the 8000 year old Nosferatu look-a-like who does not utter a word throughout the film, as they go about their everyday activities in an effort to show the world what it is that vampires actually do.

With a wonderfully witty and dry script paired with seemingly simple yet effective special effects and intelligent direction it is difficult to not be drawn into this film from the onset.

The realness of the characters, despite being vampires, allows audiences to sympathise, and occasionally empathise, with them. For example, when Vladislav laments coming face to face with the Beast, Pauline Ivanovich (Elena Stejko), his ex girlfriend, the dread and temporary depression he slips into is something many people can relate to.

With an exceptional supporting cast including Jackie van Beek, Stuart Rutherford and Rhys Darby, What We Do in the Shadows focuses on the different relationships of the characters in a holistic fashion. This works to its advantage as it draws you into the sub plot with complete cohesion and without distraction or hesitation.

A highlight of the film is the occasional run-ins between the vampires and a random pack of werewolves led by Anton (Darby). Reminiscent of groups of teenagers walking past each other at night and hurling abuse, the scenes are made humorous by the fact they are adults, particularly old adults, acting in a child like manner. Simple off the cuff dialogue such as “we’re werewolves, not swearwolves” in such altercations are a wonderful addition and highlight Clement and Waititi’s penchant for small details which bind the film together.

The balance between comedy and horror is carefully considered with just the right amount of blood splatter mixed in between scenes to not leave you queasy. Viago’s habit of hitting the main artery of his victims leaves quite a mess, but the manner with which he attempts to control the blood flow is both hilarious and endearing.

What We Do in the Shadows is a wonderful addition to the vampire genre of films and exponentially better than the majority of mainstream films in this genre. It is quaint, heart warming and intelligently funny. It is a true gem of 2014.

4 / 5

The Time of Your Life…

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After 4 years of contributing to both the music and entertainment sides of AMH Network the time has come to say goodbye as the servers shut signalling its end.

AMH came along and welcomed me into the fold at a time where I was commencing the long journey to find myself again. I had lost my passion for writing and AMH returned it. Not only that, but it allowed me to make new friends along the way that I’m sure I’ll have for some time to come.

So it’s with sadness that I say goodbye to AMH and thank it and editor Glenn for all the awesome memories.

Florence + the Machine

With Florence + the Machine dropping the first single off their eagerly anticipated third album (due for release on 1 June 2015) I take you back to when I saw them live for AMH Network back in 2012…

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Florence + the Machine

Florence + the Machine graced the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Tuesday 22 May 2012 in their first arena tour of Australia.

Taking to the stage fifteen minutes earlier than scheduled, a cape laden Florence Welch, backed by her 8 piece Machine, commenced the night with a stellar version of Only if For a Night. The first single from the current album Ceremonials was an apt choice given it was the Ceremonials tour. Immediately the near capacity crowd were transported to a wondrous and ethereal world and remained there for the 14 song set.

What the Water Gave Me, also from Ceremonials, followed and then the set list took a leap back to songs from their impressive 2009 debut album Lungs. Between Two Lungs, Cosmic Love, You’ve Got the Love and Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) shook some life into the crowd and had them standing on their feet dancing and twirling along with Florence who had shed her cape by this stage like the Superwoman that she is.

Ever the crowd pleaser Florence happily bantered in between songs thanking the crowd for their gifts and such. Throughout the hour and forty minute set it never ceased to amaze me how such a softly spoken individual was able to then turn around and belt out gut wrenching songs one after the other.

A very simple set consisting of three white screens adorned the stage and projected live footage of the performers for the people at the back and in the nose bleed section. A myriad of lights assisted to transport the audience into a magical world of wonderment. It was all very uncomplicated and allowed the music and performers to be the central focus.

Spectrum, Heartlines, Leave My Body, Seven Devils and Shake it Out, all from Ceremonials, followed in flawless fashion. Concluding the main set was Dog Days Are Over, a definite crowd favourite. This was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. The entire audience was on their feet, jumping, creating a mosh pit that fans of any metal band would be in awe of. When Florence said “Adelaide jump” Adelaide listened and delivered what their master commanded. It was truly a sight to behold.

After a short five-minute interlude they returned to the stage for a two song encore from Ceremonials. Never Let Me Go was the calm before the storm that was No Light, No Light. After a flawless performance the ball was, unfortunately, dropped during the latter. The Machine was simply too loud and Florence’s insistence to have the crowd sing the majority of the lyrics detracted from the song’s intensity. Nevertheless it wasn’t enough to spoil a fantastic overall performance.

Florence + the Machine put on a wonderfully balanced performance cementing their status as a ‘must see’ live band. Their ability to transfer their sound almost flawlessly from the studio to the stage is a testament to their talent.

Florence + the Machine play the Vivid Festival in Sydney on Friday 25 May 2012 and Brisbane on Saturday 26 May 2012.

10 Must See 80’s Films for Generation Y

Another AMH Network piece from the archives and my first feature article…

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10 Must See 80’s Films for Generation Y

The 1980’s was the decade of bad hairstyles, bad fashion and awesome films. Directors such as John Hughes and Joel Schumacher created films that have a surprising cultural relevance to modern society and should never be forgotten.

For Generation Y here is a list of 10 films from the 80’s you simply must see.

 

The Breakfast Club (1985)

What happens when “a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal” come together for a Saturday detention? You have a totally unrealistic situation with realistic characters that depict a classic cross-section of almost every type of teenager in any high school in the world in the 1980’s regardless of culture or colour.

Everybody who has survived being a teenager agrees that while you are one everything, and I mean everything, is heightened and this film supports this notion. Although there is a broader cross-section of teenagers in the majority of high schools today things haven’t really changed much. The Breakfast Club shows that it’s ok to be yourself, that life as a teenager really isn’t that bad and that people from different cliques can get along.

The Goonies (1985)

At some stage during their childhood every kid has imagined going on a treasure hunt. The Goonies tells the story of a group of kids who actually go on one and find the treasure.

Starring a myriad of child actors at the start of their careers including Sean Astin, Martha Plimpton and Josh Brolin, The Goonies manages to captivate audiences of all ages.

Filled with drama, suspense and humour (the friendship between Chunk played by Jeff Cohen, now an attorney, and Sloth played by John Matuszk, now deceased, is one never to be forgotten) The Goonies lets you bring to life the fantasy world in your imagination.

The Lost Boys (1987)

Forget about the pre-teen/teen angsty Twilight series and sink your teeth into some real vampire action with The Lost Boys.

Set in fictional Santa Carla, California The Lost Boys tells the story of Michael Emerson (Jason Patric) who becomes entangled with the ‘wrong’ crowd who happen to be vampires. Surprise!

A very young Kiefer Sutherland also stars as David as do Corey Haim as Sam Emerson and Corey Feldman as Edgar Frog in the best ‘Two Corey’s’ film ever. Full of classic one liners, some cool 80’s music and with wonderful direction by Joel Schumacher who captures the darkness and intensity of the action perfectly, The Lost Boys depicts vampires as they are supposed to be depicted. There’s none of this hearts and flowers, D and M, let’s get married and have babies crap you see nowadays. The Lost Boys sticks to tradition and teaches that no matter what you do don’t drink blood unless you know where it has come from.

 

Heathers (1989)

Bullying is a problem that has been prevalent in high schools for an eternity. Although in recent years there has been a media push to put in place strategies to end it Heathers touched upon this in its own unique way in 1989.

Well before the Mean Girls clique there were the Heathers, 3 teens named Heather who brought Veronica (Winona Ryder) into their world in an attempted to transform her into a replica. Although Veronica hates this world it isn’t until she meets dark and brooding JD (Christian Slater) that she sets about to change it with JD’s assistance…by killing all the popular kids and bullies in school while making the murders look like suicides.

Now, murder is not the answer to bullying, nor is suicide, but this black comedy successfully manages to poke fun at a serious issue.

 

Stand By Me (1986)

Stand By Me focuses on a writer reliving the tale of him and his 3 pre-teen friends and their final childhood experience/adventure as friends before they head off to high school.

With a stellar cast including Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Jerry O’Connell and Corey Feldman and a spectacular soundtrack this film brilliantly captures the innocence and boredom of life as a pre-teen boy in the 1960’s.

Regardless of the year it is set in this film is apt for any pre-teen boy. Not only does it recall an awesome story of attempting to find the body of a local teenager who is presumed dead, it looks at boyhood comradery in such a realistic way. At least I think it does given I’m not a boy and never have been one. If that doesn’t interest you watch it if only to hear the immortal line: “Chopper, sic balls.”

Less Than Zero (1987)

When I first saw this film in the 80’s my parents watched it first then allowed my older brother and I to watch it. My dad said, “there’s an important lesson to be learned here” and was done with it. He was right. However, the lesson I took from it was not necessarily the one that he probably intended to be learned.

Yes, Less Than Zero is a film about drugs and why they’re bad. There is nothing happy about this film at all. In fact it’s downright depressing. But the most important theme one should take from it is that of friendship and its importance. True friends should and would do anything for each other and that’s exactly what Clay (Andrew McCarthy), Blair (Jami Gertz) and Julian (Robert Downey Jr) demonstrate in a heartbreaking manner.

What makes this film even more fascinating is Robert Downey Jr. Knowing his history makes his performance quite painful, but necessary to watch. It’s only 25 years later that my dad’s actual ‘warning’ rings true and the question must be asked: was Downey Jr acting?

The Outsiders (1983)

The Outsiders is another film set in the 1960’s, but instead of focusing on middle class, suburban kids and their way of life it looks at the teens involved in gangs of the era: Greasers and Socs. Or the lower class vs the upper class.

The situation depicted in The Outsiders is probably more common in modern day society than the general public would be led to believe. Kids of all ages from broken homes joining gangs is nothing new and the accidental but the necessary murder of a rival gang member, as depicted in The Outsiders, is also very common. One only needs to watch the nightly news to witness this. This film simply depicts it in a watered down fashion with some of Hollywood’s (once) A list actors (Patrick Swazye, Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio) in some of their earliest roles before they hit the big time…and then seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.

 

At Close Range (1986)

Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s the Johnston’s were a real life crime family who wreaked havoc across Pennsylvania in the United States. At Close Range was based on their story. Starring Sean Penn and Christopher Walken, still A list actors in the 21st century, this film captures the intensity of a crime spree gone wrong and the subsequent, horrific consequences with chilling detail.

Watch At Close Range if you need a reason to not get involved with criminal activities with your psychotic father. Because if he seeks revenge like Christopher Walken did you’re screwed. Also, it’s just a sensational film.

Risky Business (1983)

So we all know Tom Cruise is a bit of a freak, but this doesn’t change the fact that the man can act, and he’s been able to act well for decades. Risky Business highlights this fact.

Risky Business is the story of Joel Goodsen (Cruise) who decides to have a little bit of fun while his parents are out of town. Things go wrong, very wrong (think hookers, killer pimps, porsche’s ending up in lakes, etc) but in true Hollywood fashion Joel totally gets away with it.

So the next time your parents go away and you want to have a little bit of fun take the advice of Joel because this man knows how to do it right: “Sometimes you just gotta say ‘what the fuck.’”

Puberty Blues (1981)

Set in Australia in the late 1970’s Puberty Blues is about the 3 S’s: Sex, Surfing and School.

The film, based on the novel of the same name, was considered a bit risqué at the time and it was a film that every kid of the 80’s watched, usually without their parent’s permission or knowledge. It’s iconic, it’s Australiana, it has bad bogan accents, it has bad 80’s fashion and it is just a simply brilliant and realistic coming-of-age film.

Watching Puberty Blues should be a rite of passage for all Australian kids. If you haven’t seen it yet, for shame!