Archive for February, 2016

Film Review: The Survivalist. 3.5/5 Stars

February 23, 2016

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From the beginning of cinema right through until the 1990’s the camera was not just the central element, it was a plaything, an experimental fulcrum that operated around and through the medium of actors, directors, lightening designers and scriptwriters. It was a method of prising apart the visual world and revealing reality to us in ways we might never have considered before and then suddenly, the fun was gone, well mostly.

Movies, film, cinema…….. however you might like to describe it, the medium exists because of the camera but somewhere in recent decades the camera has lost much of its potency and many young filmmakers seem oblivious to its potential but in The Survivalist (2015) we find the camera standing equal with all the players, not just as observer and witness, and the result is refreshing.

One particular scene set in a field where the main cast are caught up in game of cat and mouse with a feral interloper is heavily reminiscent of the opening sequence of Orson Welles’s ‘Touch Of Evil’ and for this film geek it was an enormously gratifying moment to see the camera put through its paces in such an inventive way.

The Survivalist, a post apocalyptic thriller set in the dripping Atlantic forests of Ireland, is a bleak journey into world undone by climate change and over population. Even in its brightest moments when the sun has burst through the clouds and cut through the dense cover of trees it is only to reveal shadows cut from humanities recent and rapid descent into anarchy.

The central character is a lone predator who navigates the world with sharpened senses honed by years of vigilance. He acts without mercy doing what he has to do to survive in world that has lost all its humanity. When two women venture into his territory, the opportunity for comfort and company is swamped by the certain knowledge that no one in this dog-eat-dog environment is to be trusted. The burgeoning relationship is negotiated through tense whispers at the point of a gun and while he gradually lets down his guard we know its not going to turn out well. This is what the world has become.

The post-apocalyptic genre, by in large, is set in a chaotic ‘world-gone-mad’ where the usual rules of human interaction have necessarily been put aside because an ‘end of time’ event. In this world malevolence has been unchained and is set loose to do battle with whatever goodness remains. It is yet another method of exploring of one humanities most enduring narratives, that of ‘good vs. bad’ but in ‘The Survivalist’ the writers have taken it one step further and have eliminated the ‘good’ from the story giving us nothing but bad vs. even more bad.

‘The Survivalist’ is the post-apocalyptic thriller as art film and is a pretty decent addition to the genre. Bleak, terrible and beautifully crafted, it is sculptural portrait carved from the bones of the tortured living. Okay, it isn’t much fun but it is compelling.

Kudos to the cast who give it all they have got especially Martin McCann who, based on this performance, looks like he might have the goods for a big career.

 

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This Is Andrew McLennan

February 21, 2016

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At the age of ten, Andrew McLennan (born 1960) bumped the dial on the family radio and was shocked to hear music coming out. “I thought that the radio was all about horse racing and had no idea there was music.” The song was The Doobie Brothers ‘Black Water’ and the beginning of a love affair with music that would take Andrew all the way to the top of the local industry. By the age of 22 Andrew McLennan was just about as ‘pop star’ as it is possible to be in New Zealand. At the age of 30, somewhat disenchanted with where he was with his career he gave the music away and embarked on a new course of life, one that would take him a fortune before almost destroying him.

Andrew was 14 when his father on his way out to the pub pushed open the bedroom door to say goodbye and Andrew caught unawares hastily hid the magazine he was reading behind his back. Naturally his father thought it was some kind of pornographic mag and demanded to see it. It was just a music magazine, the kind that Andrew had been buying and pouring over every chance he got, soaking up stories of bands and songs and dreaming of fame and fortune. It was at this moment that he gave his father the news that he was going to be a singer in a band. “Yeah Yeah,” was the reply.

For a kid whose ambitions were to sing in a band, Dunedin born McLennan found himself exactly at the right place and time living as he was just down the road from Westlake Boys High on Auckland’s North Shore, a school where a serendipitous meeting of like minds was about to take place.

His wider circle of schoolmates included Richard Von Sturmer, Don McGlashan (“I was so in awe of his musical gifts that I felt very shy around him”), Mark Bell, Ian Gilroy, Peter Warren, Rob Guy and Tim Mahon. Bell, Gilroy and McLennan formed a band called Titusucanbe which they later renamed The Whizz Kids. The Whizz Kids were a Petri dish, a nurturing ground that mentored a group of young musicians who later contributed to some of that generation’s most exciting music- Blam Blam Blam, The Crocodiles, The Plague, Pop Mechanix, Lip service, Coconut Rough and The Swingers.

For Andrew it was straight out of school and straight into fulltime music. Between 1978 and 1980 he fronted both The Whizz Kids and The Plague, played some keyboards and wrote some of the songs. The Whiz Kids were power pop; The Plague was art rock theatre anarchy. The Plague seems a strange contrast to Andrew’s mainstream pop ambitions, but Andrew explains it was because of school-mate (poet and screen writer) Richard Von Strummer. “Being involved with anything he had a hand in was always something special.” (Everyone in The Plague were known by the surname Snoid, explaining why Andrew McLennan is sometimes referred to as Andrew Snoid).

In 1980 Andrew joined one of the nations top touring acts the Australia bound Pop Mechanix, replacing their long time vocalist and founding member Dick Driver. Playing support slots for Spilt Enz, The Stray Cats, Joe Cocker and Eric Burden the band were building a solid reputation and playing to ever increasing crowds when Armageddon hit. A Sydney outfit called Popular Mechanics claimed a conflict of interest and approached the bands label CBS Records and asked for $5000 in return for relinquishing all rights to the name. The record company refused and a protracted court case flowed severely denting the bands momentum. The judge ruled in favour of Popular Mechanics and Pop Mechanix lost the right to use their name in all territories except in New Zealand, Canberra and the Northern Territory.

Andrew: “CBS could have paid the cash but didn’t, they were not going to be pushed around by a small time band that had only released one independent single. It was all about the labels arrogance and it fucked us.” (Tim Murdoch of Warners NZ later reclaimed the rights to the name and gave them back to McLennan). The band soldiered on as NZ Pop then The Zoo eventually returning to NZ to continue as The Pop Mechanix but for Andrew it was all over, (temporarily as it turned out). Feeling somewhat disenchanted by the experience he accepted an offer to join The Swingers.

Andrew had played with the Swingers a year earlier at the XS Café in Auckland taking on vocals for a cover of The Suburban Reptiles track ‘Saturday Night Stay At Home’. “When Phil Judd called me a year later and asked me to join the band the chance to work with him was too appealing but I did feel like a rat jumping a sinking ship as far the Mechanix were concerned.”

The Swingers were faltering under the weight of their mega-hit ‘Counting The Beat’, a song that had become so all consuming it had stopped the band from moving forward and Judd’s solution to this dilemma was to recreate the band. In 1992 Andrew took over lead vocal duties from Judd, taking some of the weight of his shoulders and allowing him to concentrate on the guitar but it was to no avail. Andrew: “The Australian audience didn’t get The Swingers and ‘Counting The Beat’ was all they wanted to hear. It was soul-destroying.”

Despite everyone’s best efforts the band was playing to ever diminishing crowds and losing money. Finally Judd pulled the plug but it wasn’t all a loss as Andrew explains: “Working with Phil was an accelerated learning curve. I got to work with a musical genius who taught me simple things like routine and discipline. His attitude was awe-inspiring. He would start off every day with writing then we would learn new songs and when the rehearsals were done we would spend the rest of the day doing bonding stuff like playing baseball. Phil taught me how to run and manage a band and apply a workman like attitude to the creative process.”

 

The Swingers with Andrew McLennan (Mushroom Evolution Concert 1982)

 

With the end of The Swingers Andrew returned to NZ in 1993 and taking what he had learned from Judd applied it to his next project Coconut Rough. He sat down and wrote 22 songs some of which were demoed at Mandrill and then shopped them around.

The response was positive, especially so as regards a track called ‘Sierra Leone’. After working through a few offers the band signed with Mushroom. Andrew remembers taking a call from Mushroom boss Michael Gudinski who expressed his feelings on ‘Sierra Leone’ with a hearty “Maaaaaate!!”

 

Coconut Rough- Magic Hour (shot in an abandoned cement factory in Warkworth in 1984)

 

Shazam: Coconut Rough making of Sierra Leonie Part 1

 

The song was released and went top 5 in NZ and top 50 in Australia. “The irony of it was that the one hit wonder thing that effected The Swingers so badly became our yolk to bear as well. ‘Sierra Leone’ became the only song from our repertoire that people wanted to hear and no matter what we did we couldn’t follow it up.

I was 22 years old and that song was everywhere. It sure as hell gave me my seventeen and a half minutes of fame but it also became this albatross I couldn’t get past and for a long time I struggled with it. I don’t feel that way now because it’s grown beyond me and I am really grateful for the royalty checks, they never ceases to amaze me.”

Coconut Rough eventually imploded, partly due to the weight of ‘Sierra Leone’ and in 1986 Andrew rejoined Pop Mechanix for “3 years of productive and well-paid work” but when the band decided to relocate to Christchurch to take up a long-term residency Andrew didn’t want to make that journey and bowed out. Instead he took up an offer from Tim Murdoch of Warners NZ who paid him to go Los Angeles and write songs with producer John Boylen (Sharon O’Neil, The Little River Band, Boston).

 

POP MECHANIX – Pale Sun (1987 Friday Night Live)

 

1990-91 was spent living at Boylen’s Laurel Canyon home/studio, “I wrote and recorded all day most days but I was not confident about what I was doing and on top of that I was missing home. I was a bit despondent and escaped as much as I could and explored the city by car. I discovered these specialist vintage toyshops and started buying up bits and pieces and I began to think this is something I could do.” Packing up the toys he had collected, he returned home and in 1993 opened a shop on Parnell Road called ‘The Old Tin Toy Shop’, a retail and Internet operation that became a money making machine and paid for a heady lifestyle that included plenty of partying. Between 1985 and 2000 Andrew kept his musical hand warm, performing on and off with A cappella group The John Does, (Peter Elliot, Jay Legia and Nathaniel Lees).

It all started coming apart in late 2005 when Andrew purchased a noted collection of Disney memorabilia in San Diego. The purchase required a hefty bank loan and when he realised the collection was not going to be as easy to sell as he thought and with numerous other deals to maintain he began to feel the pinch and increasingly stressed he started losing his grip. In 2007 he walked away from the business narrowly avoiding bankruptcy.

“I was a workaholic who was abusing alcohol and drugs. I had been living a dishonest life and it cost me my business and the woman I loved.” Suffering burnout and clinical depression he lapsed into in a state of morbid paralysis that friends worried might cost him his life. With prompting he sought assistance at specialist clinic where he met meet Kevin Findlater (Bulldogs All-Star Goodtime Band, Hogsnort Rupert, Dave and the Dominoes) who had gone through something similar and was now mentoring patients working their way back to recovery. Andrew; “Kevin urged me to start writing music again saying that it would be the key to my recovery and that through music I would find myself again. I don’t like admitting it, but he was right!”

 

Andrew McLennan’s Telling Tales: Hiding In Public

In 2010, three years after the fall, he picked up the guitar and wrote ‘Cabin Fever’ the first of 25 new songs, 12 of which have been recorded at Kevin Findlater’s home studio for Andrew’s debut solo album ‘Hiding In Public’. Between writing and recording he has been keeping himself busy with live work and while the venues are smaller than the ones he played in his hey-day they are always full and the audiences enthusiastic.

Andrew McLennan is intelligent, thoughtful and no longer ambitious in the way he once was. These days it’s all about the craft and enjoying the moment. Reflecting on the new album, Andrew looks up and fixing me with that intense stare of his matter of factly states that “I have been away so long that it is not a comeback, it is a beginning.”

Epilogue:

Andrew picks up an acoustic and belts out a couple of songs, ‘Cabin Fever’ and ‘Hiding In Public’, both reflective pieces that examine aspects of the dark years still only freshly out to bed. These are catchy, relevant and honest songs replete with a depth of character that can only forged through the school of hard knocks. But these songs don’t feel sorry for themselves; Andrew is too clever and self-aware for that. These songs are like old friends, the kind of friends who know you intimately and they are like the man himself, memorable and interesting to be around.

 

On Depression:

“A friend once told me that that there was a process to these things, a beginning middle and an end I would come through it and be ok, I remember feeling that was ‘mumbo jumbo touchy feely’ nonsense that offered no consolation. He was right though. I had to do a lot of work and make big changes to my lifestyle and attitude. I am good these days, really good. I watch for signs of the ‘black dog’ and if I sense it lurking in the shadows I actively do something about it. I fear it in a healthy way. I don’t ever want to go back and I’ll do my best to never let it catch me again.”

 

On Phil Judd:

He can just go places most people can’t. He is a bandleader not a member. May not necessarily mix well with others. He is complex, both aloof and genial, he isolates and suffers. He is intense and hilariously funny, sometimes dark and unfathomable – he can be a right prick as well as utterly charming. I know he has had his demons, perhaps its a price the gifted pay, I don’t know, but somehow he keeps on producing Juddesquely brilliant music. I remain a fan and I’m still in awe of his talent. He is unique.

 

Andrew McLennan’s Telling Tales: Jumping Out A Window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greg Page Story or “How a Chubby Nerd can make it in the Real World.”

February 21, 2016

D4 Ladies Man shoot (directed in drag)

Ok, you might not know the name but if you are any kind of fan of New Zealand music you will certainly know his work. Greg Page, or Pagey as he is known, has made 91 music videos over the last 23 years for a variety of local artists from The Datsuns through to Six60 but that’s only part of the story. When he is not putting images to music, the star of the 2011 TV Reality show ‘Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger’ and the former voice of Vodafone (5 years) paints, plays drums (Rumpus Room, Paul Martin’s World War Four), makes television commercials, designs band posters…. oh and once even made a feature film.

Grinning from ear to ear Greg Page answers my query as to his birth date with “Osama stole my birthday” (9/11/72) another of the droll one-liners that roll of his tongue with abandon. Page is tangential, his mind leaping about from one unrelated subject to the next, making oddball connections and spinning off yarns like there is no tomorrow. I want to nail him down, but that would be a shame, so I sit back and do the best I can scribbling notes and asking questions that fly right past him.

Page is a proudly born working class boy from Palmerston North who sketched and tapped (the drumming thing) his way through Freyberg High (the same High School his more sedate parents attended) and after finishing 7th form went to work at a restaurant called the ‘Fisherman’s Table’ for a year. The owner nicknamed him the ‘Turtle Ninja’ because “he was a small and fast moving demon” who proved himself to be versatile and adaptable employee.

He remains grateful to the Chinese family who owned ‘The Table’ for teaching him how to work hard and maintain a smile even when ‘dog tired’, an art that has served him well in his subsequent career making music videos and TV adverts; juggling tight time and money budgets, ornery film crews, demanding clients and reluctant performers.

The sketching proclivity led him Auckland’s UNITEC where he studied painting for a year. His tutor Peter Fahey suggested he go to Hamilton and enrol at the new Media Arts dept at WINTEC. “It’s a young and dynamic school, one that might better suit your energy and inclinations.” It turned out to be one of those grand moments of delightful synchronicity as Hamilton’s Hark Records was getting underway and had several NZ on Air Music Video grants under its belt and no one to make them happen. Page stumbled into the label via his mates the local alt-band Inchworm who had recently won the top prize at the Waikato Rock Awards.

Their prize included time at the Hark owned Zoo Recording Studio and they bought Page in to make the video for the song they had recorded and once he was in the door that was the end of any formal education. He began churning out videos for the new label while carefully keeping a foot in the door at WINTEC so he could continue to use the equipment but the time demands meant he could not complete his course work and graduate, besides once the word got around that there was a video maker around town, Page’s fate was sealed.

During his final year at WINTEC (1994) he made 10 music videos including Knightshade’s comeback single ‘Television Eyes’, Inchworms ‘Come Out’, Throw’s ‘All Different Things’ for Christchurch Label Failsafe, and a video that remains something of a personal favourite, ‘Food’ made for Hamilton indie-band 5 Girls.

 

5 Girls: Food

 

Knightshade: Television Eyes

 

Inchworm: Come Out

 

That same year he was caught surreptitiously filming Shihad at a University of Waikato Orientation gig. Hauled up by the bands manager Gerald Dwyer, Page showed him the footage and a suitably impressed Dwyer introduced him to the band. Based on that meeting they later asked him asked him to make a video for their song ‘Yr head is a Rock,’ (1996).

 

Shihad Yr Head Is A Rock

 

The one thing that all these videos had in common (with the exception of Inchworms ‘Come Out’) was that they were all stop-start animations made using plasticine, a style that was fast becoming Page’s speciality. In 1994 he also released a short film called ‘Decaff’ based on a subversive claymation character called Decaff who was in short, Page’s alter ego.

 

Decaff

 

Page is a nice guy, eager to please and somewhat naive but underneath lurks an anarchistic social commentator and frustrated bad boy. ‘Decaff’ was attached to Kevin Smith’s hit movie ‘Clerk’s’ for its NZ run and as a result of the exposure became something of a cult sensation. This brought him to the attention of advertising giants Saatchi and Saatchi who commissioned him to make a short for ‘NZ on Air’ celebrating a centenary of NZ cinema.

 

NZ Centenary Of Cinema

http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/centenary-of-nz-cinema-greg-page-1996

 

His 1996 short ran alongside a short made by John O’Shea, the godfather of the modern NZ film industry or as Saatchi’s put it: “A hundred years of NZ cinema through the eyes of the nations oldest and youngest filmmakers.” This broke him into the world of televisual advertising and he has since made so many 100s of adverts that he has lost count. Page: “I don’t make the big ads, I make the ones that run either side of them, the bread and butter ads. I am a workman like ad- maker, a tradesman builder. The camera is my hammer and I will build anything that is required.”

The next few years are all go and include a two year paid stint as Breakfast host on Hamilton’s UFM (1998-99), the commercial station that picked up the frequency vacated by the University of Waikato student radio station Contact after it was shut down. For both years his breakfast show rated third in the city and he is credited along with his co-host Dean Ballinger (Mobile Stud Unit) for creating the phrase ‘The Tron’. On a quest to find another slogan for the city other than the much mocked ‘Hamilton, Where It’s Happening’ a listener phoned in with the phrase ‘Hamiltron, City Of The Future’ which Page and Ballinger shortened down to ‘The Tron’. The rest is history.

In 1995 Pagey a self-taught drummer (“I learned by watching Inchworm drummer Rob Talsma do his thing”) joined his first band, Hamilton alt-rockers Rumpus Room. Otherwise made up of the three Newth Brothers Andrew, Scott and Kent (whose previous projects included pioneering Hamilton electronica act Love and Violence) Rumpus Room is still going today and Page though domiciled in Henderson (“Bigger Hamilton”) still makes regular runs down to The Tron for gigs and band practices but perhaps his most famous musical outing was with Paul Martin’s metal outfit World War Four.

At the 2005 edition of metal guru Paul Martin’s famed annual Gemini Party, (a big event on The Tron’s social calendar where Gemini’s and their friends get to together to party and listen to metal on June 1st), Page took a deep breath and approached Martin and asked if he could try out for the vacant drummer stool in Martin’s World War Four. The pair hit it off and he spent 6 years (2005-11) on the World War Four team and remembers opening for Black Sabbath with Dio at the G-Taranaki Festival as the absolute highlight. “I learnt a lot form being in World War Four. The experience (especially playing for Motorcycle gangs) made me less naïve about how the world worked.”

There were other bands including a regular spot as fill-in drummer for legendary Hamilton satirical Punk band MSU (Mobile Stud Unit), Malestrum, a fake Norwegian metal band that was rolled out for various events including the annual Hamilton Fringe Festival and some time with Auckland Prog. Rockers Ishtar.

 

Rumpus Room: JBS

 

Rumpus Room at the Porch recording Studio (Greg Page on Drums)

 

It was while driving back to Henderson after a Hamilton gig in 2000 that Page saw 3 kids standing on the side of the road at Gordonton on the cities Northern edge. “They sort of appeared out of the fog and just stood there staring and it scared the shit out of me.” 3 years later he had turned the moment into a film script. Making a feature film had long been on the ‘to do’ list and he had vowed that if he had not made one by the age of 30 he would give it all up and go truck driving. Three weeks before his 30th the film commission gave him $2 million and work on the first (and so far only) NZ feature film to be shot entirely in the Waikato was underway. “It busted my cherry and made me into a man,” says Page of the experience.

It was also an opportunity to showcase the Hamilton music that he loved so much (Inspector Moog, The Datsuns, MSU). “I had made music videos for eight of the eleven artists featured on the soundtrack. The other three bands are all my friends from Hamilton on whom some of the film’s characters are very loosely based.” ‘The Locals’ was made using proper old school film trickery (no computer generated effects) and stunts were often done “not strictly by the book” (e.g. sometimes safety harnesses got in the way of a decent car stunt and were dispensed with). It was a Kiwi DIY experience that Page remembers as “being scary as hell what with all that money to look after and 40 people on the crew who depended on you to make the right decisions.”

The film didn’t exactly set the box-office alight but it did get an international distribution deal and through regular TV screenings (in the US) and appearances at festivals ‘The Locals’ has long maintained a solid cult audience, both for the story and the music. Months before the release of ‘The Locals’ Page went to see a film that had been setting the international box-office alight. Called ‘The Sixth Sense’ he slumped at the big reveal in the closing scene. “I thought I had created something special with the ending in ‘The Locals’ and there it was, the exact same thing in this other movie. I had been beaten to it.”

 

The Locals trailer

 

During a stint as Guest tutor at WINTEC 2010 he told the students “I broke all the rules and I urge you to do the same. Use the gear, (you have paid for it) and just get out there and do shit,” which pretty much sums up the Greg Page method. His advise on how to get a good performance from a band on a video shoot? “Taking a band out of their comfort zone gets the best out of them (in other words torturing them heh, heh).”

Some of his more memorable shoots include ‘Dominoe’ for Fur Patrol; “ I made them stand in a swimming pool full of water for hours. It was slow torture but produced a great performance,” much like the shoot for Betchadupa’s ‘Sleepy News’. “I made them stand in fake rain for several hours. It was bloody hard for them but they delivered. I could not get LMNOP happening for the ‘Verona’ shoot so ended up sticking them in an industrial ice-cream freezer wearing t-shirts. It was minus 28% C and it proved very motivational.

The D4 wanted to emulate the New York Dolls for their song ‘Ladies Man’ but felt uncomfortable dressing in NY Doll’s style drag so I dressed up in drag as well to relax them”. Another D4 shoot, this time for ‘Exit To The City’ proved especially memorable and “filled with magic I have not been able to emulate since.

The band were positioned in the back of a van and I instructed the driver to take the corners ‘as hard as she could’, and I told the band – ‘this might be rough’. It was rough. If you look closely you might see Vaughn (bass) fall over and smash his guitar stock into Dion’s (guitar/vocals) head.”

 

The D4: Exit To The City

 

Page: My most recent clip (2015) was for SJD’s ‘I Wanna be Foolish” and it is no better or worse than my first clips and making it reminded me why I love making music videos. My motivation? I make music videos to flex my creative muscle and be free and silly.

I have tried all kinds of things over the years with music videos but I keep returning to my first love, animation. It’s a grind but it lubricates my problem solving instinct and keeps me fresh and original. I always step sideways and inside out when faced with an animation problem.”

When he isn’t on set Pagey can be found hard at work in his home studio painting (he maintains a prodigious output) and designing posters for bands. “There have been hundreds, all made by ‘old school’ methods, i.e. no photoshopping,” and if an artist/band has only a small budget for a video, Page will often do it on his own in his shed using whatever he has at hand including his smart phone. His next goal is to reach the 100 music videos milestone and fingers crossed, another feature film.

I ask to name his favourite music videos?

“The two P-Money clips ‘Falling Down’ and ‘Angels’ because we shared a similar work ethic and visual aesthetic and we worked well together despite the music not being my usual thing. I was at a peak when I made those. They have lots of ideas and they seem less forced than some other work I have done.”

 

P Money: Falling Down ft Milan Borich

 

P Money: Angels

 

Page has made several videos for The Datsuns including their first, 2002’s ‘Super Gyration’ (shot in an Onehunga Panel Beaters shop) but he ranks the video for their 2006 song ‘Waiting For Your Time To Come’ as one of his most special. “The Datsuns let me to do whatever I wanted for this project and the result is Greg Page through and through.

It was painted frame by frame and I just got lost in it (and I absorbed so much paint in the process that it kept me awake for 6 straight days heh heh). It was one of those magic clips that just made itself. I was low and not busy when I did that one and it reawakened my love of what i do.”

 

The Datsuns: Waiting For Your Time To Come

 

“I chose SJD’s ‘I Wanna Be Foolish’ because it was the made using the same free form process as The Datsuns ‘Waiting For Your Time To Come’. It’s a method I really enjoy and I appreciated SJD’s trust throughout the project.”

 

SJD: I Wanna Be Foolish

 

Greg Page Quotes:
“Inspiration comes to me when I stop trying to be like others and also when I’m in the shower.”

“Cooking is exactly the same as Directing a shoot, it’s all about pressure.”

“Being a Director means I get to do interesting stuff. It’s bloody hard at times but probably better than having a proper job.”

“The older I get the more I am becoming ‘Decaff’ my first animated character.”
“With age I’ve realised its ok to be good at your career and not be famous and rich.”

“Sometimes I want to quit directing but then I remember that I am not made for the normal world.”

 

The Making of The Datsuns Bad Taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Man Bannister – The Matthew Bannister Story 

February 21, 2016

onemanbannister

Matthew Bannister (born 1962) arrived in Dunedin with an itch. His head was filled with dreams of The Beatles, The Kinks and Fairport Convention and a vague notion of making music like they did, big bold albums defined by great playing and lofty musical experiments, songs drenched with harmony sitting atop soaring melodies and chorus’s that hooked and wouldn’t let go. Fortunately for Matthew he was at exactly the right place and time because a musical revolution was about to sweep over Dunedin that would make that kind of dream possible for those so inclined.

Scotsman Bannister is 17 years old and swimming the unfamiliar cultural waters of Otago Boys High. On his way to join the schools guitar club he walks into David Pine. Pine points to Bannister’s guitar case and they start talking music. Inspired they are spurred into action decide to form a band but first Pine needs to learn the guitar so while that is happening Bannister joins an established covers band called Feedback. While the music is not exactly Bannister’s thing, he finds in bands leader Gavin Keen something of a mentor and in the band a suitable education.

A little while later Bannister and Pine, now studying at Otago University, put together a band called itself Sneaky Feelings. On a trip to Christchurch they come to the attention of Roger Sheppard who invites them to record for his fledgling Flying Nun label. They contribute to the labels legendary 1982 Dunedin Double E.P (alongside The Clean, The Verlaines and The Stones) and over the following 6 years record and release 6 singles and 3 albums of original material. Of the three albums it is 1986’s ‘Sentimental Education’ that gives us the best portrait of Bannister as the young artist, songwriter/arranger.

The bands first LP 1983’s ‘Send You’ had been driven by David Pine and was a great success both commercially and critically. For album number two Pine stepped back and Bannister up. Contributing half the songs, drafting the arrangements and directing recording process, this was Bannister’s baby.

Drawing deeply from his love of sophisticated pop music, this album was less Beatles (Bannister’s musical touchstone) and more Burt Bacharach, a composer Bannister had long admired and whose style had coloured Bannister’s musical palette as much as anything he had taken to heart. The Bacharachian influence abounds throughout ‘Sentimental Education’, an affair filled out with strings, brass, lush harmonies and Hammond organ, it was more Brill Building than Flying Nun and in that context went down like a lead balloon with many of the labels inner circle who had nothing but contempt for The Sneaky’s thoughtful and ‘wet’ approach to music.

Chris Knox (the labels conscience and spiritual leader) famously said to the band of the album as it was being prepared for release “I’ve heard your album and it sucks.” This statement combined with poor sales and middling reviews (from the local press, the British and European press were more enthusiastic) stalked Bannister for a long time after reinforcing his doubts and uncertainties and confirming his belief that the audience preferred Pines words and melodies to his own. Bannister took it hard.

 

Sneaky Feeling: Husband House

 

History has been much kinder to ‘Sentimental Education’ and for other Bannister penned Sneaky’s songs notably ‘Husband House’ which the subject of a loving article written by Canvas Magazines deputy editor Greg Dixon. The album has been written about a number of times over the years by a variety of people who had fallen in love with it when it was released and had never quite gotten over it.

I was one of those and in 2015 tracked Bannister down and recorded an Audio Documentary with him that explored the album’s creation and aftermath. After we had finished the documentary I asked Matthew what he had been doing since The Sneaky’s parked the van up in 1989. He pulled out his i-Pod and over a few beers dazzled me with tracks from his post-Sneaky’s catalogue.

The Sneaky’s last hurrah was a rather desultory 1989 European adventure that left Bannister washed up in Rennes France, broke, bereft and alone. He limped back to NZ and got a job at the Auckland University Library where he met multi-instrumentalist Alice Bulmer and found a new lease on life.

Alice replaced David Pine as Matthew’s main muse and together with Alan Gregg they formed The Dribbling Darts of Love, later shortened to the Dribbling Darts (Bannister, a Shakespearian scholar, lifted the name from the great mans play ‘Measure for Measure’). Between 1989 and 1993 The Darts released two albums, 2 E.Ps (through Flying Nun) and scored a minor chart hit with their 1999 single ‘Hey Judith’.

 

The Dribbling Darts Of Love: Hey Judith

 

The Dribbling Darts faded and music generally took a backseat as Bannister and Bulmer focused their attention on raising and supporting a family. Over the next few years Bannister worked as a journalist/music reviewer, checked the accuracy of crossword puzzles for the Women’s Weekly and sub-edited at Rip It Up, scrapping together a living however and wherever he could.

In the mid-1990’s Bannister decided to write a book about the Sneaky’s and get some stuff of his chest while setting the record straight. “I felt we were being written out of the label’s history and indeed out of indie history, for example our non-appearance in various articles about Flying Nun, in indie discographies, in local rock polls and worst of all, our exclusion from 1991 Flying Nun 10 year retrospective Getting Older”.

‘Positively George Street’ was published and released in 1999 to rave reviews. Part musical autobiography part historical account it examines place and time with irony, humour and at times a measured but withering acerbic fire that is squarely aimed at Bannister’s critics within Flying Nun, notably Chris Knox. There is a strong case for marking ‘Positively George Street’ as one of NZ’s best musical biographies, but whatever that case, for Bannister the writing was an exorcism that put to rest the ghosts of the past.

Suitably set free Bannister returned to University to study for his PhD (in media) graduating in 2003. His thesis later appeared as his second published book ‘White Boys, White Noise: Masculinities and 1980s Guitar Rock’. He otherwise filled out the decade playing lead guitar for The Mutton Birds (1999).

13 years after the last Dribbling Darts last release Bannister, Bulmer and their new band The Weather went into the studio with producer Ed Cake. The result was ‘Aroha Ave’, a labour of love whose long gestation came close to being financially ruinous. (Bannister describes working with the obsessive Cake both as joyous and as an exasperation he would not ever care to repeat). The album was completed in 2006 did not see the light of day until 2008 by which time the Bannister’s had moved to Hamilton where Matthew had secured a job as a Thesis Supervisor at WINTEC’s Media Arts School.

With a small financial grant in hand, he had the album mastered at the WINTEC recording studio by Zed Brooks who also polished up a home made solo album called Moth (released under the moniker One Man Bannister). Both albums received startlingly good reviews and while they did not exactly reignite his career, they certainly lifted his profile.

 

The Weather: Aroha Ave

 

By this stage the various members of The Weather had dispersed about the world so Bannister set to work on a new project called The Changing Same who released their self-titled debut album in 2011. One of Bannister’s ongoing musical themes concerns ‘place’ (a theme that is partially informed by his fear of being alone and rootless) heard in tracks like the Sneaky’s ‘Husband House’, The Weathers ‘Aroha Ave’ and most recently with The Changing Same’s ‘Hillcrest’, a descriptive song of the Hamilton suburb where Bannister lives and a song that has become something of minor city anthem alongside Chris Thompson’s ‘Hamilton’ but unlike Thompson who states ‘Greatest little town in New Zealand/But I’d do any thing to get away,’ Bannister has discovered a convivial and easy going city that suits both his needs and temperament. *(Hamilton has produced two musicians named Chris Thompson. The one mentioned here is a folk singer, not the one who became vocalist for Manfred Mann).

 

The Changing Same: Make Up My Mind

 

In 2013 Bannister watched with interest as his students tackled a recording project where they were assigned classic albums and asked to re-record them. One of the albums was The Beatles ‘Revolver’ which proved too difficult for those concerned and was abandoned but not before it had set Bannister’s creative mind into motion.

He decided to have a crack at it himself and the result was released later that year on Powertool Records to universal acclaim. Peaking at number 16 on the national album charts, One Man Bannister’s ‘Evolver’ became his most successful post Sneaky’s endeavour, both critically and commercially.

Bannister: “You release something original and the response is ‘Ho Hum’ but then you say ‘I have reinterpreted the Beatles’ and everyone is interested.” The irony has not escaped an artist who has long struggled for recognition but there was an upside. On the back of that success he was approached by boutique German cassette label Thokei Tapes who released the third One Man Bannister album ‘Birds and Bees’ in 2015.

 

One Man Bannister: Tomorrow Never Knows (Evolver)

 

Bannister played ‘Evolver’ in its entirety at the 2104 Hamilton Gardens Festival accompanied by a band and a 12-piece string section. I was a little late arriving for the performance but as I walked up the hill toward the outdoor show I was struck by the lush rich sound drifting through the warm Hamilton night.

By the time I arrived on the scene the audience was lapping up the magic Bannister was conjuring. He was mesmerising, a towering figure belting out the tunes of his youth, the very songs that had set him his musical course so many decades before and you might say he had come full circle, but he hadn’t, not quite. The full circle came with the news that Sneaky Feeling had reunited and recorded an album of new material (due for release sometime in late 2016 alongside a planned re-issue of Sentimental Education).

 

One Man Bannister: A Boy And A Girl (The Birds and Bees)

 

 

The Amazing Musical Adventures of Darryn Patterson Harkness.

February 21, 2016

 

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Darryn Harkness is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer, video-maker, Zine publisher and installation artist. He makes a little money here and there as a jobbing musician and teacher otherwise paying for home and hearth working as a caregiver 2 days a week. Between gigs Darryn is to be found making music at his recording studio on Upper Queen St in Auckland, the home of his bands The New Telepathics and Loud Ghost. It’s where videos are planned, songs are archived and where a diverse range of artists and performers meet to create and rehearse. The Darryn Harkness story includes stints with renowned percussion ensemble From Scratch, time with The Dead Flowers, Fagan and the People, The Hallelujah Picasso’s and a stint in London that included two John Peel session and few heady years with Serafin, a British band that came within a heartbeat of the really big time. In between all this falls one of his most lucrative projects, a long and ongoing relationship with the classic silent film, Nosferatu.

Darryn Patterson Harkness was born May 3 1972 in the South Island town of Gore to parents Ian and Carolyn Harkness who met in 1970 while performing with Palmerston North cabaret act The Flairs Showband.

It was a childhood of cabaret, musical theatre, sing-along parties around the piano and travelling with his parents to gigs. Ian and Carolyn performed as a duo, providing background music for restaurants and hotels. Darryn describes it as being all very Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and Girl from Ipanema and describes his father as a “fantastic pianist” and his mother as “an amazing singer.”

Darryn: “We have always made music as a family and share a collective talent for improvising and creating original music. The first of our branch of the Harkness family to arrived in NZ in1842 and played violin and accordion for his fellow travellers without respite during the voyage from Scotland. When he ran out of known tunes, he improvised; it’s all in the ships logbooks, apparently the ships captain was quite taken by the music. Music is important to the family, it is our heartbeat.”

By age 12 Darryn was already a handy pianist but was bored with the instrument and was teaching himself drums, looking for a certain ‘musical something’ he could not quite put his finger on. Everything changed when he got to know Ross, Ian’s younger brother. “There was no rock music in our record collection, my Dad didn’t get it so I missed out on Hendrix and The Who. Fortunately that all changed with Ross.” Ross Harkness lived in Palmerston North and played in Foisemarker, a band Darryn describes “as a dirty Palmy low-fi punk sludge band.”

“Ross sat me down when I was 12 and played me music like Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, Can’s Tago Mago, Ornette Coleman and The Cramps. This music blew my mind and filled the empty musical space in my psyche. Ross introduced me to pot, beer, punk and most importantly Sun Ra (Darryn’s most important an enduring influence).” So close were uncle and nephew that they started making music whenever they got together. They named their ongoing project ‘Dwellers of the Temple Headlands’ and have so far made 2 CDs of their recordings, music which Darryn counts among his favourite creative endeavours.

By the mid-1980s the family were living on North Shore Auckland’s (after sojourns in Timaru, Gore and Christchurch) and Darryn found himself at Westlake Boy’s, a school with a remarkable musical alumni that includes Andrew McLennan, Peter Warren and Don McGlashan, and where he became involved in his first band, Fourpeace. Heavily influenced by Dinosaur Jr, the band made the finals of the very first ‘91FM High-School Battle of the Bands’, in 1988.

“My parents were really great, and while they did not ‘get’ the music I was making, they lets us practice at home and never begrudged the noise or the beer. The only thing they had to say about it was ‘never do it for a living,’” advice Darryn was never going to take. He left school aged 18 with one ambition, to make music. He enrolled to study Sound Engineering with S.A.E on the institutes opening day in 1990. Institutions, he quickly realised, were not for him and he left after a year. “On reflection, I would have been better off using the money I spent to study at S.A.E buying some equipment and teaching myself while making music.” The music in question was Darryn’s first post-school band, Braintree.

“Braintree was a good time and my first really good band. Loose, big and bold and not afraid to experiment, the band was as hotbed of creative activity that included three ultra experimental sub-bands, The Mysterons, Carefree-Stayfree and Space Suit, all made up of various combinations of Braintree members. The early 1990’s were an excellent time to be a musician. Getting on the dole was easy and I spent all my time making music which suited me perfectly.”

In 1993 with $5000 grant from The Arts Council, Braintree recorded and released an EP on Wildside called ‘Minds Alive’. It “didn’t sell very well” and in 1995 “the band fell apart as bands do.”

 

Braintree: Reprisemas – 1993

 

With the demise of his beloved Braintree, Darryn started going to Palmy to hang with Ross and discovered The Stomach, an 8-Track recording studio that charged beneficiaries $10 an hour under a local arts scheme. The Stomach became his second home and it was here that Stayfree-Carefree recorded the ‘Telepathic Junkie’ LP, a limited edition vinyl release, and where Darryn, under the moniker DHarkness recorded his first solo project, an EP called ‘Time Machine’.

Back in Auckland, Braintree sub-band Space Suit was gaining some momentum and the members decided to turn it into a fulltime project. In 1997 the band released its debut album, the self-titled ‘Space Suit’ on CD.

“Space Suit pushed the boundaries as much as our skills would allow us and though we were pretty ‘out there’ a lot people really latched onto our scene at the Kurtz Longue on upper Symons Street where we became something of a phenomenon, packing out the place every time we played.”

 

Spacesuit: Orange – 1997

 

It was fellow Space Suit member Gabriel White who pointed Darryn in the direction of legendary percussion ensemble From Scratch who were auditioning for a new member in preparation for a European tour. Darryn was dubious but went along anyway and to his surprise was offered the position, one that he held from 1996 until 2000. The rehearsals for the tour took 6 months and in 1998 he headed offshore for the first time. It was a gruelling tour that included the recording of the album ‘Global Hockets’, and in order to keep everyone fresh, the band took 3-month break halfway through their schedule giving Darryn an opportunity to visit London.

 

From Scratch: Global Hockets Parts I and 2 – 1999

 

 

He was there barely a week when he met musician Ben Smith at a party. Ben was the leader of a rising pop/rock band called Stony Sleep and Ben, liking what he saw in Darryn, invited him to jam with the band the next day. “We jammed on 4 songs and Ben said that in a couple of days they were going to play these songs on a John Peel session and would I like to come along and sit in? I didn’t get to met John Peel but playing in a BBC studio was an amazing experience.”

There was some talk of Darryn joining Stony Sleep but with From Scratch reconvening in Germany in a couple of months the timing wasn’t right and in the meantime Darryn was scheduled to return to New Zealand to play bass on the third Dead Flowers album. While he was home, he took the opportunity to record a track under the name The New Telepathics, a solo project that he describes as “A mixture of Jazz, electronica and soul.” The track, ‘All About The Eye’, appeared on Mikey Havoc’s 1999 Sony compilation, ‘Havoc’s Magic Set’.

With the Dead Flowers assignment complete, he headed back to Europe, finished the From Scratch tour and headed back to London to meet up with Ben Smith who was at a loose end, Stony Sleep having fallen apart while Darryn was in NZ. The pair started jamming and a new band was born, the Brit-Rock orientated Serafin. The buzz was immediate and in early 2000 Serafin won the NME ‘Peoples Sound Competition’. The prize was a spot at the V-Festival opening for Joe Strummer and a two-page feature spread in the magazine.

With another feature in Q Magazine pushing things along, they signed a licensing with Taste Media whose portfolio included Muse. They played the Brixton Academy with Muse in 2001 and in 2002 released two EPs, EP 1 and EP 2. The video for a single, ‘Things Fall Apart’, became a huge hit on MTV Britain and following an appearance at the SBSW festival in Austin Texas later that year, they were signed by Electra America and advanced $300,000 and set to work recording an album with Dave Sardy (Marilyn Manson, Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers) in LA.

Electra decided against an American release for “No Push Collide” but set it loose in Europe in 2003 to rave reviews. Sales were healthy but nowhere more so than in France where the band, championed by the French music press, became a major touring act. Darryn: “I remember the first time we played Paris. The tour bus pulled up outside the venue, a 2000 seater, and there was huge crowd of people milling around. We wondered what was going on? It turns out they were there to greet us. We were surprised to say the least.” By the time of their second French tour, they band were so popular they could easily fill any number of 10,000 seat venues.

The next two years saw the band busy headlining on the European festival circuit culminating with consecutive spots at the Reading and Leeds festivals and support slots touring with Frank Black, Muse and Breeder. They were heady times but sadly, they didn’t last. Problems arose when their label Taste Media was sold to Warner Music in 2004. The band, as many do in this situation, found itself in contractual limbo and unable to operate as a going concern. Visa difficulties for Darryn added further weight to the bands problems and despite one more album, 2007s ‘To The Teeth’, the moment was lost.

 

Serafin: Things Fall Apart – 2003

 

 

Serafin: News – 2007

 

With Serafin in hiatus, Darryn focused on his New Telepathics project and began gigging around London quietly building an audience. Visa requirements meant he had to leave the country every three months, so he regularly disembarked to Germany were he kept a flat and operated a slightly different version of The New Telepathics. “I was living and playing in the district around the Bauhaus, a revelatory experience in design but the music scene was very ordinary and the locals had never seen anything like The New Telepathics before. Every time we played clubs in the area the crowds were so large they would spill out on the street. It was crazy.” The New Telepathics opened doors in Berlin for Darryn and he was given the opportunity to fulfil another of his ambitions, to exhibit as an installation artist. Combining sculptural art, music and Zines, the shows drew solid crowds further enhancing his stature within the cities art and music scene.

 

The New Telepathics: Remember Fela – 2004

 

Between 2004 and 2010 The New Telepathics released 11 albums (variously on CD, vinyl and cassette) but Darryn’s biggest success during his post-Serafin years was with F.W Murnau’s Nosferatu.

“When I wasn’t in Berlin I was living in a squat in Brixton and often played the Brixton Cinema Café with The New Telepathics. One day I approached them with this idea I had about live scoring F.W Murnau’s silent vampire film Nosferatu.

They agreed and I did the gig with a keyboard and a bowed guitar in the main theatre. Over 300 people turned up and my share of the door was one thousand, three hundred pounds. It was so well received that they invited me to do it again.” With the help of The Future Cinema Club of the UK, the word spread and in 2007 Darryn undertook a 16-date tour of UK cinemas culminating with a spot at the Edinburgh Festival in front of an audience of 900. In 2009 he bought his Nosferatu to Auckland Festival of the Arts, bringing an end to his European sojourn.

In 2009 he signed to Mushroom Publishing who placed New Telepathic tunes on the TV shows ‘Home and Away’ and ‘Outrageous Fortune’. That same year he was invited to join Fagan and the People and played on their album ‘Admiral of The Narrow Seas’. In 2011 he joined The Hallelujah Picassos and featured on the bands 2012 EP, “The Bullet That Breaks The Key”.

In 2013 he released a New Telepathics album called ‘Clapping with Rockets’. Reviewer Graham Reid suggested that it should have been two EPs, one rock orientated and the other jazz. This set Darryn to thinking and a year later Loud Ghost was born, a separate entity to The New Telepathics, one dedicated to his rock orientated inclinations.

The first Loud Ghost album was released in 2015 to rave reviews and the project looks set to become a permanent fixture on Darryn’s calendar. With new projects from The New Telepathics and The Hallelujah Picassos underway and a bevy of video and Zine productions in the works, the Darryn Harkness story rolls on in its own inimitable way.

 

Loud Ghost: Fire Up – 2015

 

Darryn: “I am both a pop songwriter and avant-garde musician, an artist who enjoys the idea of bringing those two incongruent ends of the universe together. People tend to pigeonhole me as a ‘left of centre’ musician. I don’t see myself that way at all. I consider myself to be a pop musician and I like the idea of a good pop song, I just do it differently to most other people.”

Darryn is married to musician/academic Immy Patterson and his son Melvin, Immy’s stepson, who at 6 years of age is already an accomplished drummer and prodigious songwriter, looks set to carry on in the long established Harkness family tradition of creating and making music.

 

The New Telepathics: My First Shotgun – 2009

 

The New Telepathics: River Call Me Now – 2010

 

The New Telepathics: Change of an Astronaut – 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film Review: The Room

February 10, 2016

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Jacob Tremblay as Jack.

 

Jack is 5 years old and the Room and his mother are all he has ever known, that and the mysterious man who appears every so often with food. When the man appears the boy is hidden away in the closet and as he waits to fall asleep he counts the grunts coming from the direction of the bed he otherwise shares with is mother.

He has a story for the room and another for the sky, glimpsed through the skylight far above. He has imbued the objects in the room with meaning and understands the blurry figures playing on the TV as some kind of magic that have no tangible relationship to reality. The days bend necessarily from one to the next, filled with playful ideas about the closeted space and the perceived non-space beyond.

Part one of Room is about the meaning we apply to our reality, about the stories we tell ourselves to explain the world and our relationship to it. The child’s story is absolute until his mother offers another explanation for the Room, describing a meaningful world beyond. He is shocked and disbelieving then fearful and uncertain.

The rest of the story is an intense human drama, a story that is told without embellishment, a fly on the wall expose that examines media, love, tragedy, loss and rebirth without sentimentality. This films does not tell us what to feel, it leads the way and offers us an untarnished view from where we can assess our own response. Jacob Tremblay as 5-year old Jack is a revelation and Brie Larson as his ‘Ma’ offers a performance of rare composure. Room was a surprise and a unique and unexpected film adventure.

Film Review: Suffragette

February 4, 2016

The 2015 film Suffragette gives the viewer a broad overview of the struggle of women in early 20th century Britain for the right to vote offering a glimpse into a world where the law was structured to favour the rights of men over women. Here women gave birth and were responsible for the raising of children, but those children like the woman herself, were deemed property of their man to do with as he liked. In fact one of the methods the police used to deal with non-complaint Panky’s (a colloquial term for the suffragettes derived from the name Emily Pankhurst, the movements leader) was to turn them over to their husbands for a good hiding, the sort of violent affair that might haul them into line. We learn that in the Laundry Factory where much of the film is set, that the female employees earn 7 shillings a week less than their male counterparts and for the privilege have to work 13 hours more. On top of this, the social pressure applied to the non-conforming women from men, the law and other women was, in a word, brutal.

Yes, by the standards of modern Western society it is all pretty damned awful and thoroughly unjust but the actuality of the situation is bought home in the film finest moment, right at the very end where the timeline of international voting rights for women scrolls up the screen. Beginning in 1893 with NZ (although women could not stand for Parliament until 1919) and followed by Australia in 1902, Latvia in 1905, France, Italy and Japan in 1945, Tonga 1960, Switzerland 1971 and Western Samoa 1990 to highlight but a few. In 2015 Saudi Arabia began the process of changing laws to allow women the right to participate in that communities political process demonstrating vividly that 122 years after New Zealand women become the first female participants in the democratic process the work of the much-derided feminist movement is still far from complete. I should say here that in this advanced age in a country otherwise considered the worlds most socially progressive, Kiwi women are still being paid less than their male counterparts for the same work.

While investigating the timeline of the Women’s Suffrage movement over the last 100 plus years I was interested to note that every country went through exactly the same arguments on the anti-side, stuff like “Women just don’t have the temperament or intellectual facility for voting.” The same nonsense over and over, not unlike the debates on Gay rights, Gender pay-equality, environmental causes, children’s rights and so on. All of this of course begs the question: why can’t we learn from the example of other societies, take their lessons and apply them to our own situation rather then rehashing tired old arguments that NZ disproved way back in 1893?

Note: Since its first election in 1853 New Zealand has been world leading in voting rights. All Māori men were able to vote from 1867 and all European men from 1879.  By comparison Australian Aboriginals did not get the right to vote until 1962, Canadian Natives in 1960.

As for the film itself it’s an unsophisticated narrative that wastes lots of grand opportunities, most notably in the body of the great Irish character actor Brendon Gleeson, whose role as the police detective charged with rooting out the leaders of the suffragette movement is a pitiful slight on his considerable talents. Nevertheless, Cary Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter act up a storm in the lead roles, doing a lot with what little the script offers.

2/5 for narrative, 5/5 for the inspiration and insight. Worthy and worth seeing.