Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

Archive for the ‘3 Stars’ Category

Sydney Festival – My bicycle loves you

Posted by redkoireviews on 17/01/2011

This latest physical theatre piece by ‘Legs on the wall‘ draws inspiration from early 20th century Australian vaudeville, with archival footage of the Corrick family projected throughout the show. The troupe are acrobatic, but it’s not a circus act stuffed to overfull with physical stunts. The show is dramatic, but doesn’t follow a traditional plot progression that moves neatly from beginning, middle and end. It makes full use of audio and visual technology, but not in a ‘wow, 3D!’ kind of way. So it’s hard to define and that’s exactly what a great sydney festival show should be like.

The band provides a live accompaniment to the stage and the performance is all the better for it, reminding me of the pianist in movie cinemas that would accompany silent movies and a musical interlude during intermission. Some parts of the show did seem to drag on a little but mostly it had me captured. The characters build through the show as you find out their quirks and oddities, and my favorite was the you man whose energy, anger and frustration in the scene with the horns really moved me.

My Rating 3.5 stars

Second opinion? try stagenoise

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Paris je t’aime

Posted by redkoireviews on 22/06/2007

Paris je t’aimeWe where on holidays, it was pouring rain and we where bored. So we went to see this film at the New Empire movie theater in Bowral. Like the review we’d seen on ”at the movies‘, we thought it was a mixed bag. The film is a series of 18 short films about love in Paris. Some of them a re brilliant, some of them are pretty average. However there are simply too many of them – I walked out struggling to remember which ones I liked most or hated most.

The theme was also too loose. There where no linkages between the shorts and no shared actors, even the direction and cinematography was really different. Some where funny, some sad, some wistful. My favourites where the one with the blind guy and his actor girlfriend, and the one involving Oscar Wilde.

My Rating: 3 Stars

For an alternative review, see rotten tomatoes

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The Box Vale Track, Mittagong

Posted by redkoireviews on 21/06/2007

Box Vale TrackOn our holiday to the Southern Highlands, we also did this bushwalk. As we set out, it started to rain. However we pressed on and it was well worth it. The track is in Mount Alexandra Reserve near Mittagong. It follows an on rail line built to mine coal, and as a consequence there are very few stairs and almost no hills.

The rail lines where all pulled up and removed when the mine shut down in 1896, and in that time there has been plenty of regrowth so it feels lovely and bushy again. However the fact that it’s an old rail creates some novel features. There are several cuttings that have created corridors of ferns, and a tunnel. At the end of the route there’s a great view of the valley.

All in all this is a great walk that you might otherwise miss because it’s not in a national park.

My Rating: 3 stars

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The Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie and Little Ragged Blossom (A Musical)

Posted by redkoireviews on 14/01/2007

SnugglepotThis musical is based on the book ‘The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” by Australian author May Gibbs. John Clarke (one of Australia’s best satire comedians) wrote it while Neil Armfield from Company B Theatre Company directed the production. It’s part of the 2007 Sydney Festival.

The story is a classic Australian children’s book, and the play sticks pretty closely to the original adventures of the three main characters as they make a journey towards a human city. John Clarkes satire comes through more as an overlay on top of the existing story, rather than being a 100% satirical plot. Think of it a bit like the Simpsons – the kids love it on one level but there’s jokes in it for the adults as well. Read the rest of this entry »

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Centre Pompidou Video Art 1965-2005

Posted by redkoireviews on 08/01/2007

Baltimore 2003This exhibition of video art spanning forty years is showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the Sydney Festival. It surprised me to find that artists have been using video and moving images for art for so long – about as long as the format has existed. Some of the early works felt a bit like the artist was still getting comfortable with the tools – a bit like a great painter’s early photographs. In the later works there’s more of a sense that the artist is totally comfortable with the technical bits, which means the viewer is left to focus on the creative aspect of the work, without being distracted.

Of the earlier works, my favourite was a piece by Samuel Beckett, most famous for his plays. Four differently coloured figures enter his minimalist stage one at a time, looking at first to be moving randomly, but as the four come together, creating a very symmetrical, rhythmic pace. He makes very good use of sound and movement – which is exactly the benefit of video over still art. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2006

Posted by redkoireviews on 04/01/2007

GorillaMy Partner and I have made something of a habit of seeing the ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ exhibition at the Australian Museum. It’s a great collection of stunning wildlife photos in a range of categories. This year, many of the bird shots where my favourite – a change from the landscape ones I’ve liked a lot more in the past.

Some of the descriptions that go with the photos are almost as interesting as the photo itself. Some of them reveal just how persistent (mad?) some of these people are. One guy learnt how to dive with walruses (very dangerous) then took over 400 shots in one session just to get his winning shot. This is the Everest mountain climb of photography. Personally, I think there is more creative art in finding something beautiful in something ordinary, like the winning dewdrops on a window (looks totally surreal) and the ‘bark as art’ shot.

Some of the Macro shots of insects, so on a recent walk in the blue mountains, I shot this Dragonfly.

I’d reccomend going to see this exhibition, but if you can, see it after school holidays finish – I found it way too crowded to see everthing at my own pace.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Freakonomics

Posted by redkoireviews on 16/12/2006

Freakonomics bookcoverI picked this up at the airport, after hearing about it on the radio. Economist Steven Levitt teamed up with journalist Stephen Dubner to write about what economics can tell us about human behavior and society.

They use a variety of interesting example to make some surprising conclusions: legalised abortion reduced crime 20 years later, good parenting is more about your life before being a parent, and the relationship between names and socio-economic status.

I really enjoyed it – it’s not what most people will think of as economics so don’t dismiss it as a dry read. Statistics is the foundation of the book, with some discussion of incentives, and some crude guesses at other social phenomena.

Like most economists I’ve met, Levitt argues that incentives are what drives almost everything about people and society. I’ve always found that argument to simplistic – like hedonists who say the only thing that drives people is pursuit of their own happiness (the two are almost the same). It assumes that people respond rationally to the size of any ‘incentive’, which most people don’t. It also assumes people are good at comparing different outcomes on an equal basis over time, which they don’t. Levitt also has that tendency to make a complex system into a nice, simpler one where cause and effect is a more straightforward affair. Perhaps that comes from having to turn it into a saleable book rather than an academic paper.

Finally, it shits me when people blur science and conjecture. Levitt presents his statistical findings and then hooks his own opinion on without much distinction.

But for all that the case studies are an interesting insight into human and societal behavior. I’d love to see more, and more involvement of psychologists. You can get a flavour of the book and the authors at their blog.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Thank you for smoking (The movie)

Posted by redkoireviews on 16/09/2006

Thank you for smokingThank you for smoking” is based on a novel of the same name, and it follows tobacco spin man Nick Taylor as he tries to ‘filter the truth’. I work for a non-profit environment group and we see all kinds of spin designed to make companies look more responsible than they are. Nothing in this movie surprised me much, but it was funny.

Having said that, I’ve met the PR people from tobacco, alcohol and coal companies and they are not as cunning and machiavellian as Nick and his friends in the M.O.D squad (Merchants of Death). Some have more flexible ethics than others, but like Nick, they are all paid to talk, because that’s what they’re good at. The PR industry has already moved beyond characters like Nick – they know he’s bad for their own image. The industry knows the best PR is PR that doesn’t get recognised as PR. The greying out of truth is getting worse, and although the industry would like to think otherwise, public trust in private institutions corrodes just a little more for every ambiguous media release and sound bite.

If you like satire, you’ll like this movie. If you’re expecting a hard hitting expose, this is not it. So much dirty laundry of the tobacco industry has been aired this movie doesn’t even try to add anything more. See Rotten Tomatoes for a second opinion. Entertainment for the cynical.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Posted in 3 Stars, Movies, Reviews | 1 Comment »

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

Posted by redkoireviews on 27/07/2006

As you may have noticed, I’ve been reading through the City Watch series of Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. After having read ‘Guards! Guards!’ and ‘Men at Arms‘ I’m surprised to say that I’m finding it less enjoyable than mixing up different discworld novels. They may involve the same set of characters, but that doesn’t make it a trilogy.

Anyway, ‘Feet of Clay‘ is still a great read. Captain Vimes comes into his own as a character – one of my favorite. He starts finding a series of murders, and the Patrician is being slowly poisoned by something you don’t see . . .

Without spoiling the plot (which you can read here if you want) I’ll say that Golems come into the discworld and onto the watch. We also see the dwarf Cheery come into the watch series.

As with a lot of Prachett’s books, there’s a nice thread of moral or political opinion. In this case, he has a lot to say about class and privilege. As Vimes muses

“…He hated the very idea of the world being divided into the shaved and the shavers. Or those who wore the shiny boots and those who cleaned the mud off them. Every time he saw Willikins the butler fold his, Vimes’s, clothes, he suppressed a terrible urge to kick the butler’s shiny backside as an affront to the dignity of man.”

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

Posted by redkoireviews on 08/07/2006

Men at Arms bookcoverMen at Arms‘ follows ‘Guards! Guards!‘ in the series of Discworld books that follow the Anhk Morpork City Watch.

The theft of a ‘perfect’ weapon – the Gonne, marks the beginning of a bad run of nastily killed people and dwarves. It’s left to the disreputable city night watch to solve the crimes, find the murder (as apposed to assassin) and prevent the city descending into chaos in the meantime.

Many of the more interesting City Watch characters develop in this book, and we meet new coppers like the Troll Detritus and Angua who grow on you in later books. Pratchett also uses the book to explore the power that guns can wield over normally good people – like concentrated power that quickly goes to the head and takes control.

I’ll be moving (slowly) through the rest of the City Watch series, so keep an eye out for reviews of them.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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