I’m not sure how Canadian comedian Russell Peters would fare in a Sci-fi action movie but he does more than impress in the stand-up circuit. Peters was scheduled to show in March but had postponed his Australian tour after landing a role in a Sci-fi flick. And that’s not the only thing the man is up to these days. He is about to publish a book, is in the midst of developing a new sitcom and a rom-com with Billy Crystal. For those of you unfamiliar with the master of Asian accents, check out the hilarious “Be a man” video clip below and you’ll be hooked. The self-deprecating joker is bound to be a hit so get your hands on these hot tickets sooner than later.
20 May. Sydney Acer Arena. Nrth Sydney Olympic Park, Cnr Edwin Flack Ave and Olympic Bvd. ($79.90-$120) 132 849, acerarena.com.au, ticketek.com.au
A parody of musicals in the form of a musical. It may not be a novel idea but the genre lends itself to perfect self-deprecating humour when done well and this production is, mostly. The plot is simple – almost as simple as ingénue June who can’t pay the rent and has to dance and sing her way to a solution, five times.
Corn in the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein (Oklahoma, The Sound of Music) is the weakest caricature with an elaborate but unimaginative dream sequence featuring the annoyingly repetitive song “Oh, What Beautiful Corn”. But the laughs quickly pick up with A Little Complex á la Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd). “Welcome to the Woods” is written and sung to comedic perfection and the complex feels like Melrose Place gone psycho. Replete with a slutty dance sequence, the other stand out is Speakeasy in the style of Kander and Ebb which closely lampoons Cabaret.
Dear Abby in the style of Jerry Herman’s Hello Dolly and Aspects of Juanita spoofing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and Phantom of the Opera are predictable but still draws laughs from a very supportive audience. Special mention goes to accompanying pianist Mark Chamberlain, whose dexterity was well-matched with the fast paced satire. For an enjoyable evening, go with a big group with some knowledge of the musical genre and is not afraid to make some noise.
Until 29 May, Parade Space, Parade Theatres, 215 Anzac Parade, Kensington, $45-$55, 1300 795 012, sydneycomedyfest.com.au, triptychtheatre.com.au
Funerals are usually less representative of the departed individual than the culture and religion they were born into. Through a fictionalised story of Daigo (Masahiro Motoki), this Oscar winning film gives us access into the Japanese ritual of encoffination. The ceremonial cleaning, dressing and restoring of the deceased to eternal beauty is a surprisingly calming and cathartic experience.
When cellist Daigo’s orchestra is dissolved, he accidentally stumbles into the job of an encoffineer, mistaking the word departures in the job ad as indicative of a position in the travel industry. The subtleties in unveiling the causes of deaths and the idea that going to work involves being amidst raw emotions whilst keeping a cool demeanour makes compelling storytelling. While the film’s energy level withers down after reaching its climax, you remain spellbound as Motoki masters the art of encoffination.
Bringing a touch of comedy, Daigo’s employer Sasaki (Tsutomu Yamazaki) commands the screen with his endearing curiosities. Watching him go from surrounding himself with life in a greenhouse of an office to slurping and tearing flesh off chicken wings after a funeral is pure pleasure. Departures transports you into someone else’s life and world, as only the best stories and films can do.
p.s. Saw David and Margaret at the preview screening last year at Fox Studios. Jaysus she’s tiny!
I await the day when my local pub would start broadcasting Theatresports so that I can curse and rant with gulps of cheap beer in support of my state team. I imagine shouting, “Come on you maggot! That’s not what you get paid for” (overheard at an actual AFL game) as improv artists fail to react humourously to spontaneous suggestions. This year’s championships will pit NSW team, The Tom Selleck Experience, with four other states in a heated contest for the grand title.
Selleck team member Lisa Ricketts, a teacher by day and improve artist by night, describes Theatresports as a “set structure of games that challenge performers to create instant theatre based on surprise offers and audience suggestions. Improvised theatre is the inspiration for TV shows such as Whose Line is it Anyway? and Thank God You’re Here!”
Whilst I may be a difficult imagined heckler, is the audience always erratic? “You’d be surprised how many people want to see scenes set in a toilet! But we prefer the situations given to us to be fresh and new and we don’t use pre-prepared material,” says Ricketts.
But what happens if you just have nothing funny to say? “You do the most obvious thing your character would do in that moment. Some of the funniest moments in improv come from very real, honest reactions which were never intended to be funny.”
Well played Miss Ricketts. If you weren’t so good with clever come-backs what would you be doing? “Well I am a trained teacher so I would either be teaching or dabbling in organised crime. I’ve been watching Underbelly and it looks pretty lucrative. If there was some way to combine those two, that would be ideal, like scamming the kids out of their lunch money in return for good grades. I should probably just stick with improv”.
2 May. 6pm. Enmore Theatre. 118-132 Enmore Road, Newtown. improaustralia.com.au
Their name says it all doesn’t it? Basic info – Two Muslim comedians from Melbourne tackling issues of race. Not so basic info – You may have seen Nazeem Hussain on ABC’s Salaam Café which mysteriously went off air after one season. The public tends to prefer him (Overheard after their Sydney show: “That first guy was way better” says one white guy with a mullet, I kid you not, to another) in the duo because of his fast-talking ways and spot-on Indian accent. Aamer Rahman takes on more complex and political topics which may not go down as well with a beer drenched crowd but he is an essential player in this comedy double. I will leave you with one my favourite lines from Rahman: “Just because I am at the petrol station, it doesn’t mean I work there”. Booya!
The boys are done with their shows in Oz and are off to Singapore to meet with a comedy pimp. www.brownplanet.com.au
When I saw Coco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel), the other Chanel movie starring Audrey Tautou, I wished the film hadn’t ended where it did and craved to know what happened next. Coco & Igor is Chapter 2 and I now understand why the first film stopped where it did.
In theory, Chapter 2 sounds like the perfect love story/tragedy yet it fails to translate on screen. After her lover “Boy” Chapel’s death, Coco falls in love and lust with Igor Stravinksy, a Russian musical revolutionary. When his work is considered too controversial by an enraged audience, Stravinksy is forced to live in exile. Coco takes him under her wings – offering him, his wife and children her villa where he can work on new material.
I can see how romanticizing an electric affair between two creative giants would be a tempting movie pitch but this lacks intensity, heat and characteristic elements that should allow audience to like its protagonists enough to be swept away in their clandestine passion. I would much rather watch a fact-filled, fashion documentary about Ms Chanel’s life à la The September Issue and Valentino: The Last Emperor. She was afterall the epitome of style and pioneer of combining comfort with fashion. Coco & Igor is proof that a love story does not always make a great film. (In cinemas now)
I met a Spanish girl once. She took me to the front of the bar where the band was playing and danced like only a beautiful, carefree Spanish girl could. She ticked all the boxes of my imagination of the Spanish female. The 13th Spanish Film Festival, however, is not that easy to stereotype. The 40 films on the list are as eclectic as a tapas feast but they all retain a certain alluring Spanish flavour.
Opening night film Pagafantas (Friend Zone) is a hilarious rom-com with an unexpected McLovin-esque protagonist. But unlike a Hollywood rom-com that follows a tight script of clichés, Pagafantas is a refreshing take on the tired genre. The much anticipated Habitación en Roma (Room in Rome) by Julio Medem, to put it crassly, sounds like Brokeback Mountain with hot Spanish chicks. Of course, if you’ve seen Medem’s Sex and Lucia or Chaotic Anna, you’d know he’s anything but crass. He’s a master at choreographing pure poetry in motion.
And then there is the Mexican gem Chinco dias sin Nora (Nora’s Will) – this is a winner, a nuanced love story from beyond the grave with a sense of humour. I didn’t dance with the Spanish girl at the bar that day because let’s be honest, not everyone does it like the Spaniards do.
5 – 16 May. Palace Academy Cinema. 3a Oxford St, Paddington. Palace Norton Street Cinema, 99 Norton Street, Leichhardt. $12-$50. 1300 306 776, boxoffice.mca-tix.com.au and spanishfilmfestival.com
The jazz hobbit is back and he is sizzling hot. So hot in fact that both his Sydney shows are now completely sold out. Watching Cullum drum his piano and burst out into a cover of Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” is just pure magic. You have to pinch yourself to believe that that easy-on-the-ear, smoky vocals are coming out of that tiny, unassuming man. He had me tapping my feet from the very first song and I did something I hadn’t done as a grown woman in a long time. Yes, I bought a t-shirt. Sucked in!
19 and 20 Apr. The Basement. 29 Reiby Place, Circular Quay. 9251 2797.