Blue Valentine was born as a script 11 years ago to director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance. It was shot in a mere 30 days. Its story is told through two memories. One that transpired over a few months in a couple’s (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) past when they meet and the other over 24 hours in the present where they’d possibly part. In its 112 minutes of running time, Blue Valentine dances between being seeped in a grainy, sepia-toned tale of young love and then pulled out of drowning water to be cast under the fluorescent light of a certain future room, where the built-up blemishes of a 6-year-old relationship lay bare naked for all to see.
Cianfrance claims that this film was based on his childhood fear of his parents breaking up. And in 11 years and 30 days with the help of two extremely talented actors, Cianfrance has found the poetry behind irreconcilable differences. He’s transformed the predictable of a present-day divorce into a tragic heartbreak you deny to have seen coming. I am not saying this film will start or end in divorce but the “will they or won’t they” tension is played to subtle perfection by Williams and Gosling, both nominated recently for next year’s Golden Globes in the best actress and actor categories. This is not a purposely manufactured tragedy (à la Notebook or P.S. I Love You), it is what it is – beautiful memories of a relationship in its natural state of decay.
Boxing Day Release.
The highlight of 2010 for me was when Kevin Rudd told reporters, “Having said all that folks, we’ve gotta zip”. This came after his emotional speech made at the press conference that officially marked in the public’s view, the end of his stint as PM. I always knew he was a cool cat and look what’s happened since then. He went for hero to zero to superhero. The cool cat that bounced back. Meow JLard. Like me, some of Sydney’s hottest comedians have had a highlight or two in 2010 that they’d like to share with you. From politics to the Australia’s Next Top Lame Gimmick, join the comedy class of 2010 in this politically incorrect panel discussion, flying shoes not included. Graduates include Mikey Robins, Peter Berner, Pete Rowsthorn, Jeff Green, Hannah Gadsby, Rod Quantock, Paul McCarthy, Flacco, the Sandman (pictured), Clayton Doley’s Organ Donors and many more.
Dec 29 & 30. Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House. $89-$110. 9250 7777, sydneyoperahouse.com.au, ticketmaster.com.au
I had two ginormous books as I was growing up. One was a biblical-sized fairy tale collection in which words from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson were smudged with repeat readings and the other was Arabian Nights. With tales from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, it was definitely the more exotic of the two. Packed full of swashbuckling adventures, suspenseful cliffhangers and epic love stories, Arabian Nights had them all. For all kids and kids-at-heart familiar with these stories, New Theatre is bringing to life on stage the dreamy stories that only existed in your imagination. Even if you aren’t familiar with these tales, you are bound to be entertained by classics like Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Sinbad the Sailor. Did I mention belly dancers, musicians and puppeteers? Sold! Suitable for children aged eight and over.
Jan 8 – 22. New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown. $10-$18. 9519 5081, 1300 306 776, newtheatre.org.au, mca-tix.com.au
You can either be hungover and sulky on the first day of the year or you could celebrate the birth of 2011 at the beautiful surrounds of the Domain. Replete with cocktail bars under the trees, an outdoor cinema with some interesting choices for your screen entertainment, burlesque performances, music and more music, Field Day is set to shake you out of your hangover. The event stars 2manydjs live, The Presets, Major Lazor Soundsystem, LCD Soundsystem, Architecture in Helsinki, Fake Blood, Datarock, Krafty Kuts, The Proxy, Sinden, Fred Faulke DJ Yoda, Sebastian Leger, Lyrics Born, Skream & Benga, The Juan Mclean. Amanda Blank, Treasure Fingers, Nic Fanciulli, Riton, We Have Band, Jack Beats and many more.
Jan 1. The Domain, next to the Botanical Gardens. 11am-11pm. fuzzy.com.au
Surely. there must be a New Year’s Eve party worth going to this year. One with excellent acts and a spectacular firework display along the beach. If your mind’s not made yet, Shore Thing is a sure bet for the NYE procrastinators. Featuring the legendary David Guetta who has worked with artists like Kelly Rowland, Will-I-am, Black Eyed Peas, Akon and Ne-Yo, Guetta will get the party started proper. Heating up the stage, Armand Van Heldan will play party favourites including that “Barbara Streisand” song that I just can’t get out of my head. And the best part? Once the actual party is over, end the morning with a quick dip in Sydney’s Iconic Bondi Beach. Surely, Shore Thing is the place to be this NYE.
Dec 31. Bondi Park, Bondi Beach. 8.30pm-3am. $135-$225.fuzzy.com.au
The annual Peats Ridge Festival at the beautiful Glenworth Valley is known for its colossal musical line-up (2010 performers include Angus and Julia Stone, Washington, The Jezebels, Watussi, Deep Sea Arcade and Cloud Control amongst many others) but this year I want to bring your attention to the sustainable festival’s equally impressive arts and theatre program. A culmination of alternative picks like cult storytelling series Campfire Stories, thought-provoking art installation Tangible Memories and the Power of Possibility and an eclectic range of circus, cabaret and theatre productions, get your alternative arts fix at Peats Ridge this year. Check the website listed below for a range of ticket options.
29 Dec – 1 Jan 2011. Glenworth Valley. 9516 0639, peatsridgefestival.com.au
Who knew Vince Chase, I mean Adrian Grenier of Entourage was more than just a pretty face. Grenier shed his celebrity to produce and direct Teenage Paparazzo, a doco about a 14-year-old pap, Austin. Art is imitating life in Grenier’s real life and he turns the camera on a fascinating teenager to understand the world of paparrazi. The doco reveals more about the culture of celebrity worship than paparrazi itself but is captivating simply because the teller of the story (Grenier) is honest and delivers his thoughts in measured stream of consciousness without purple prose.
At one stage, when it is evident that Austin is getting caught up in celebrity himself and Grenier’s friendship with the boy has fueled this, an interviewee (media expert) asks Grenier who is very skeptical about celebrity-dom, “Why are you contributing to something you don’t think is very good?” To which Grenier simply says, “I fucked up”.
This film is as reveling about Grenier as it is about Hollywood. Ironically, I feel like this doco will be picked up by the celebrity obsessed for a voyeuristic look into Grenier’s and his celeb friends’ lives. The DVD does have his name plastered on the cover after all.
Love him or hate him but this neurotic New Yorker has become a permanent fixture in culture, auteurism in film to be precise. Celebrate his manic style of philosophizing comedy in a string of classic Woody Allen films like Annie Hall and Manhattan and then some. From an orgasmatron booth to replace sex in the future to affairs with teenagers, oh wait… This film series is a must for all Allen fans and a great way to introduce yourself to the mad master of celluloid if you’ve always resisted his incomprehensible charms.
Until Jan 14. Chauvel Cinema. Paddington Town Hall, Cnr Oxford St & Oatley Rd, Paddington. $12. 9361 5398, chauvelcinema.net.au
If you’ve seen Banksy’s documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop, you’d know that street art is as fascinating as it is dangerous. Oh and you’d also have met that bizarre character Mr Brainwash. If the prints on that doco had you salivating, you are in for a Christmas Treat. Urban Uprising art gallery is organising a pop up store at Dendy Newtown for all urban art lovers at affordable prices. Prints from the strange Mr Brainwash, Shepard Fairey, Bast, Tyler Stout, Billy Perkins, Kozyndan, Audrey Kawasaki, Print Mafia, Dolk, Meme Machine and many others will be on sale. Rest assured, it would be a challenge to exit this gift shop.
4 – 19 Dec. Dendy Cinema Newtown, 261-262 King St, Newtown. 9331 6614
Be it a little jig or a full force Mariah Carey vocal somersault, we have all had a stab at performing in the bathroom. However, instead of applause we are usually left with a messy floor and perhaps some shattered shower screens. Take a lesson from the experts from Soap, a powerhouse performance of new circus, comedy and cabaret set amongst a series of bathtubs. Dancing, twirling and flipping through a water-soaked stage to the music of various artists like Mika, Sia, Tool, Gnarls Barkley and Goldfrapp, Soap is bringing sexy back to the bathroom. Don’t miss this sensual performance because there’s nothing at all squeaky clean about it.
From Jan 4. Drama Theatre. Sydney Opera House. $44-$55. 9250 7777, sydneyoperahouse.com