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NZ Tech Podcast 293: Autonomous bus on public roads, Homes.co.nz vs QV, Pushpay does utilities bills, new Xbox
An autonomous bus takes to public roads, Pushpay goes after utilities bills, Microsoft’s new 2TB UltraHD Xbox One S almost here, Semble pulling plug on mobile wallet, Uber update, Microsoft wins fight with YS Govt over cloud data and we hear all about Homes.co.nz.
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Scarier than the new Ghostbusters, and maybe just a tad scarier than fellow podcaster Yulia aka The Russian’s dating life. It’s the new James Wan produced scare flick Lights Out, based on the short film by David Sandwick who also directed, and I have to admit it’s not that bad a film with a pretty decent ‘scare count’ along the way.
Aussie actress Tessa Palmer is very likeable as “loose cannon” rebel (with a heart for Heavy Metal icons) Rebecca, her younger brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) starts experiencing freaky goings-on at home with a spooky as Freaky chick called Diana, who just happened to besties with the kids Mum as a child – Great!
What I liked about the film is that it’s action and frights right from the word go, Sandberg’s masterful eye makes you aware when the jump scenes are approaching then battles with the viewer’s imagination, I even found myself jumping once, and I’m not easily scared.
Lights Out is better than your average film of this genre. Think Transformers type good-looking cast mixed with 2014 hit film It Follows and you kind of come close to this David Sandberg debut stunner.
A couple of good cameos worth noting, the young Gabriel Bateman, very convincing as the scared little brother who can see the ghost, his appearance reminded me of another young film kid, Haley Joel Osment in Sixth Sense, while Alexander DiPersia is a cool character as the likeable but stalker-ish boyfriend of Rebecca (He deserves to be after this).
If you are into realistic horrors e.g. The Exorcist or the excellent The Witch it won’t come close, however if you like the good-looking Fast and the Furious type of Hollywood horror films then Lights Out will tick the boxes, and maybe will have you sleeping with the lights on when you get home.
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The stage is set for the return of Ladyhawke.
The super-talented Kiwi singer-songwriter is back in New Zealand to play two gigs as part of her WILD THINGS tour, which has been wowing audiences around the world.
Ladyhawke, whose real name is Pip Brown, and her band will perform at Wellington’s Bodega on Friday, July 22 with support from DJ Martyn Pepperell. Pepperell is a well-known and loved Wellington DJ and music identity.
Ladyhawke performs at the Powerstation in Auckland on Saturday, July 23, with Openside as support.
The Auckland-based Openside have had a massive year, picking up a bunch of attention for their catchy single ‘Branches’, as well as winning over a ton of new fans opening for Twenty One Pilots in Auckland and playing at the inaugural Auckland City Limits Festival. The band have caused a stir online with their incredible covers of Taylor Swift’s ‘Style’ and Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’.
Ladyhawke‘s two New Zealand shows follow sold-out gigs in the UK, the States and Australia’s East Coast. And in keeping with her reputation as one of music’s most enignamtic performers, the Masterton-born singer has drawn rave reviews.
“She gets up on stage with a huge boost from the audience, with big Dr Martens boots, skinny black jeans and a shimmery bomber jacket, loaded with attitude… ready to give the crowd what they came for, a piece of her undeniable talent.” Louder Than War: The Gorilla in Manchester, June 2016.
The WILD THINGS world tour follows the recent release of her critically acclaimed third album of the same name, which contains the catchy singles ‘A Love Song’ and ‘The River’.
“Wild Things is an excellent step into upbeat, positive songwriting for Brown… the album holds together very well, exuding optimism and warmth. Between the catchy hooks, throbbing synths, and very real emotions, Wild Things is Brown’s best album yet” – Renowned For Sound
“Wild Things is a celebration for Brown, a celebration of love, good times, newfound clarity, and getting her groove back” – New Zealand Herald
With a busy schedule locked down for the rest of 2016, this could be New Zealanders’ last chance to see Ladyhawke live on home soil this year, so tickets to both shows are selling fast.
Broods have come a long way in a short period of time. The freakishly youthful brother-sister duo have just finished touring with siren Ellie Goulding, plus had time for a fleeting performance on The Late Late Show with comedian/actor James Corden. Not bad going for the brother & sister team who originally hail from Nelson, yep, you heard right that place.
Attired in tasselled jacket, singer Georgia Nott and sartorially futuristic brother Caleb on keys took the stage with band in tow, as the group tore into their set starting off with the ambient Conscious, the title track to their newly released album.
Pampering to the mostly millennial crowd, the duo picked up the pace on faster numbers Hold The Line and throwback track Everytime as Georgia religiously paced the stage, her suggestive dance moves and fervent energy of the band only egging the crowd on as she let loose. “Hey Auckland, You’re here to have fun, let’s do it”.
I’m a big fan of the group’s earlier work, to me it struck a more mature aspect in their song writing and sound. It was nice to hear Bridges & Never Gonna Change thrown in there, while new song Freak Of Nature featuring nubile Swede popster Tove Lo was openly dedicated to “anyone knowing someone struggling with mental illness”.
Having seen the duo play before they continue to impress. Their brand of twee pop works, while the new songs translate well live. Songs like current radio darling Free, Full Blown Love and Couldn’t Believe garnish a big international sound, together with Caleb’s keyboard melodies enhance that catchiness and first time appeal their songs seem ridiculously riddled with.
Aussie pop star Jarryd James was an added surprise as he joined Georgia & Caleb for an intimate unplugged set. James stayed to sing his new single 1000x before quickly exiting as if to do his next gig, leaving the cherubic pair to showcase their acoustic skills. Georgia’s vocals were given a good range workout on ballads All of Your Glory and Sleep Baby Sleep.
Tonight I was in the mood for Broods and they didn’t disappoint, albeit I felt a little uncomfortable pushing my way up the front of the mostly scholastic crowd, I’m glad I did. Georgia possessing one of the most infectious pop voices is aptly steered by her brother driving the music they communicate to audiences. The synergy is real, made more believable through their sibling bond, over time this can only get better – more power to them.
Directed, written by and starring Ricky Gervais, David Brent: Life on the Road sees a documentary crew catching up with David Brent, former star of hit series The Office. Brent is now a rep selling cleaning products up and down the country. The thing is, he has never really given up on his dream of becoming a rock star. In this documentary, we follow him on the road trying to get a record deal – his one last shot at fame. He puts a band together (a group of mercenary session musicians taking his money with absolutely no love for him or his dream) and ropes poor Dom (a rapper who he was meant to be managing) into coming on tour. Let-down after let-down, faux pas after faux pas, Brent never gives up his dream… just his hard earned money and a cashed-in pension to fund the whole folly. With original music by the man himself, David Brent: Life on the Road is exciting, funny, excruciating and just a little sad.
In NZ cinemas August 25.
This Giant Papier Mache Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy – “hilarious galactic romp through the galaxy that has no Orcs or Hobbits” 4/5
A full length Kiwi Sci-Fi Movie that isn’t directed by Peter Jackson or Taika Waititi? Unbelievable. However, this is the predicament director/co-writer (with Andrew Beszant) and lead actor in the film Christian Nicolson finds himself in, it’s almost a sub plot to his first full length feature film.
The new romantic ‘kiwi-as’ space comedy, heavily influenced by childhood flicks Star Wars & Star Trek has racked up a few awards on the way, including the prestigious Boston & London Science Fiction Film Festivals, an impressive start for a film launch, even in this galaxy.
Clocking in at 112 minutes (He didn’t want to be restricted by budget or time constraint) the film glosses over the lives of three mates, Tom, Jeffrey & Gavin who attend a science fiction event and haphazardly fall inside a black & white B grade sci-fi movie.
From here our three heroes are pitted against giant Tuatara, prehistoric cave people, Amazonian warriors (the female kind) and the evil antagonist Lord Froth (Joseph Wycoff), all while trying to get back home to Auckland – you’d be forgiven thinking it almost reads like a new Tui beer ad (yeah right).
The film succeeds where others fail by not taking itself seriously. Nicolson isn’t afraid to take the piss out of ordinary everyday situations, while the story itself robust enough to take a hammering from its superb cast of relative unknowns, a risk that has handsomely paid off.
Nicolson as Tom, the ring leader of the intrepid trio is the agnostic but debonair protagonist, he ends up falling for space princess Lady Emmanor wonderfully played by (Sez Niederer), her performance as the ‘North Shore’ girl who takes on alter ego Lady Emmanor is amiable, the onscreen chemistry as believable as any romcom out at the moment (yes, you know the film).
There’s also some nice touches that may bamboozle overseas audiences, the Glasson’s receipt found in Emmanor’s handbag or the Haka stance with crossed arms whenever they teleport, all delivered in true Kiwi vernacular which isn’t as cringe worthy as you may think.
Daniel Pujol is great in support as comic nerd Jeffrey who believes he is sci-fi hero Kasimir while Lewis Roscoe is cast perfect as the side-swiping snide Gavin. Jarred Tito adds the fun element, his fish-head alter ego Gotlieb is as far removed from his effeminate character Bruce in the film.
Boulder is great fun, below par special effects, lots of tin foil, makeshift laser guns, the Evil baddie Lord Froth & side kick Fralligay (They were cool) all give the film its unique flavour delivering what Nicolson says “The biggest, most epic low-budget film ever made in New Zealand”.
A hilarious galactic romp through the galaxy that has no Orcs or Hobbits yet still manages to retain its comedic Kiwi flavour.
NZ Entertainment Podcast 59: Conjuring 2, Me Before You, VPMA2016, This Giant Papier Mache Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy
This episode Wal & Yulia are joined again with newly wedded Jarred as they explore the Entertainment world reviewing Conjuring 2, Me Before You and the new Kiwi sci-fi comedy film This Giant Papier Mache Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy – plus all the usual chaos and mayhem
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James Wilson is probably as far removed as the stuffy older more-mature image I would normally associate with a CEO. None the less his tenure in the job as top dog for Auckland’s Q Theatre is one that has had a positive impact on our local theatre scene. One of the ways they help foster local talent is getting artists, practitioners and companies to apply through their creative development programme Matchbox, this in turn has had a positive spin fostering shows that have toured both here and overseas.
“Matchbox is a capability building programme that takes practitioners and artists that have a real burning desire to tell a story and tell it here, now in Auckland at Q Theatre.” Says Wilson. “It’s a contestable process so we put out a call for applications every year. This year I think we received around thirty applicants, ten of which got invited to come and pitch their idea.”
Created in 2012 as a capacity building programme under the name ‘Q Presents’; Matchbox is a response to the large number of emerging and professional artists wanting to present at Q. They have strong artistic content and training but need practical support to bring their ideas to life on the stage.
“Part of the process is coming in and pitching to a panel” Wilson continues. “The panel includes Sarah Graham she’s a producer and also at least one industry outsider, so this year Louise Gallagher who runs PANNZ/Tour-Makers was on the industry panel. The actual act to come and pitch as opposed to writing a funding application is probably quite new for some people but its a world that we’re helping coach people in terms of “How you go for sponsorship” or “How you pitch an idea to a philanthropic group?.”
Q Theatre invest in people that push the boundaries of their art form, use the transformative venue to its fullest, or deliver an arts experience to an audience in an experimental or unique way, recognising those who will build towards work on bigger scales in Auckland, nationally and internationally.
“It’s a really good grounding and a really good opportunity to invite other presenters other producers, other venues, other festivals to come and see the work.” Says Wilson. “I think the Bullet Heart Club is the company that produced Daffodils which came through this programme a couple of years ago, and they’re really blazing the trail for other Matchbox companies.”
“Daffodils had three seasons here in the end from their first show, they recently did a big gala at the Town Hall and now they’re off to Edinburgh Festival later on in the year. Last year we had Titus by a company called Fractious Tash earlier this summer, they took it to the big stage in the pop up Globe – So they are definite pathways for companies that are coming through Q to get recognition on a national scale and hopefully be picked up internationally.”
James is philosophical as he is realistic of peoples expectations versus reality, the programme’s success centred on the successful delivery of a public season of work. In partnership, Q and the presenting companies share both the financial risk and reward during the season, this ensures forging partnerships and hopefully reaping rewards.
“This year there’s three in the programme” muses James. “We have one work that we’ve chosen but it won’t see the stage until next year. From then on they’re part of the Q Theatre family really, so it’s a fairly simple joint venture programme, what we do is we give the companies a season up in the Loft theatre upstairs and we do a risk share, so we open our books and show them what it costs to run this place and we ask the same of them.”
“It’s a transparent budgeting process and we agree a split point between that” he continues. “What we’re aiming to do through that is help producers and companies get an idea of what it takes to put on a show. There’s no use coming into a heavily subsidised programme and just having everything done for you if you’re trying to equip these companies to take their work out on tour.”
1. Matchbox aims to catapult artists and companies to grow their work, nurture new working relationships and build their capability to deepen relationships with audiences. Connecting audiences with innovative and exciting creative ideas is what the focus that James and his team are looking for.
“We’re not working with emerging artists as such.” He says. “We’re working with people who may have cut their teeth at The Basement. They might have put on a couple of shows or they might have had work at Fringe Festival or perhaps have worked themselves in another professional company, but they’re striking out on their own. Their art is awesome, their work is of a real high quality but perhaps their business practise or infrastructure hasn’t developed at the same speed. We work with them to give them access to Q’s production staff, our producer, our marketing teams and really look to see how they connect with an audience, that’s the heart of the programme.”
Matchbox Companies 2016
2. Everything Anyone Ever Wanted // Jun 21 – 25
Company: Black Sheep Productions // Choreographic Direction: Natalie Maria Clark // Performers & Creative Collaboration: Sofia McIntyre, Benjamin Mitchell, Emmanuel Reynaud, Rosa Strati // Assistant Producer: Chloe Klein // Design: Sean Kelly a.k.a. Seth Frightening, Ruby Reihana-Wilson, Christopher Stratton
Leilani // Aug 4 – 13
Company: Mahuika Theatre Company // Artistic Direction: Pedro Ilgenfritz // Producer: Gracie-Rose Kay // Performance: Aymee Karaitiana, Irasa Siave & Natasha Daniel // Design: Kate Lang, Caitlin Walters
Don Juan // Oct 27 – Nov 12
Company: a slightly isolated dog