Archive for the ‘review’ Category

The Current State of Time Travel TV (Among Other Things).

January 1, 2018

 

 

Kawerau born singer John Rowles was blessed with an exceptional voice. He left for greener shores as soon as he could and thanks to a savvy Aussie management team scored big in 1968 with If I Only had Time. It managed a solid 18 weeks in the British charts peaking at number 3. He has two more substantial hits, Hush not a word to Mary (1968) and Cheryl Moana Marie (1970), an Australasian smash that went top 60 in the USA.

He could have been as big as Tom Jones or Humperdinck but ignoring the guidance of his manager, he who had done him so well thus far, he frittered away his formative years living the high life at the Hawaiian resort he purchased with his recording profits.

When he awoke from his tropical dream too much time had passed,  his international career was over and he was reduced to the ‘groundhog day’ of the Aussie cabaret circuit.

In 2004 a renewed interest in Rowles flared briefly when hip British electronica duo Lemon Jelly sampled If I Only Had Time for their 2005 track ’68 aka Only Time. Though he appreciated the attention he said of it, “it’s not my kind of thing”.

Rowles song is all about the joy of living and not having enough time to fulfil all of life’s promise; The Jelly’s is an existential treatise on regret and time squandered. Clearly John had a grand ole time for while but given the outcomes would he go back and change the past? It’s here that three of the hottest time travel shows on television find their muse but more on that later.

 

 

We might be forgiven for thinking that time travel is modern phenomenon given the all pervasive influence of H G Welles 1895 story The Time Machine but it is not that way at all. Welles’s story was just the latest incarnation of a narrative device so old it fades into immemorial.

Until Welles and his machine potions and enchantment and sometimes a bang to the head were the main method of navigating time – bonk, unconscious, wake up hundreds of years in the future.

As late as 1889 Mark Twain used this method to send a Yankee back to the Court of King Arthur (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court). Twain’s morality fable is a critical examination the social mores of his time, the time displacement is but a handy narrative device that gives the story ‘novelty’ value.

An earlier time travel narrative is out of 7th century Japan. Urashima the Fisherman rescues a turtle and as a reward is ferried off to a magical city of wonders for a few days R&R. Trouble is it’s in another dimension and back in Urashima’s world 300 years have passed.

His life and family gone he looses his equilibrium and the result is tragic. What’s the subtext at play here? That it is better to do good things without reward or recognition? In Urashima’s defence he didn’t actually want the reward. The Japanese have a unique way of viewing the world and I wonder if I am missing the point entirely?

The future turns out better for American Rip Van Winkle. Washington Irving’s 1819 story is about a ‘put upon man’ (a nagging wife is the central point here) who falls into an enchanted sleep after drinking session with mysterious strangers in a forest (?). He sleeps for 20 years and when he awakes most everyone he knew is either dead or very old and after some initial confusion Rip adapts and free of his unsatisfactory marriage ends up living the life.

The future as escape from a disappointing present is explored to its fullest potential in Robert Heinlein’s classic 1957 novel The Door Into Summer. Now in the modern age and firmly in the footsteps of H.G Well’s instead of enchantment we have we have technology, in this case cryogenic suspension.

Betrayed and bewildered, Daniel Boone Davis takes the long sleep and is awakened 30 years into the future where he meets a man who has made a time machine. Using the technology he returns to the past determined to set right wrongs made against him by his treacherous fiancé Belle and his equally treacherous business partner Miles.

Returning to the past to set right the future the theme of three current time travel TV shows, 12 Monkeys, 11.22.63 and Travelers (2017). In all these series time travel is being used to alter the timeline in aim of a more satisfactory future outcome. Yeah, the future is grim but changing the past in aid of a better future is not as straightforward as everyone involved had hoped.

 

12 Monkeys is based on Terry Gilliam’s 1995 film of the same name, which is in turn based on Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jette. La Jette tells this now classic post-apocalyptic story through a series of still photographs with a voice over narration. Sounds dull but it is actually quite effecting. The TV series draws from both it’s predecessors vision while adding some suitable flourishes of its own.

 

 

In 12 Monkeys an operative called Cole mounts a seat set in the path of a giant laser. There is an injection of serum and lots of writhing about then bam, gone and thrust into the past. Obsessive scientist Dr Katarina Jones (played by Barbara Sukawa a former Reiner Werner Fassbinder acolyte – more on the German film master later) is determined to stop the release of a deadly virus that took the life of her daughter and most everyone else. Cole is her tool, a battered survivor sent back to the past to prevent the release of the virus. The job turns out to be barrel of confusion for the hapless Cole.

Meanwhile over on Travellers 2017, (there is an earlier short lived incarnation from 2007 drifting about so be aware), a similar scenario is playing out. In the deep into the future a small remanent of humanity clings precariously to life under the guidance and protection by an all-wise A.I called The Director (think ‘god’ and yes, there are plenty of provocative religious allusions). The Director has a plan to alter the catastrophic events that have sent humanity into freefall.

The minds of highly trained operatives are sent back in time and placed into the bodies of the ‘about to be deceased’. Our particular team of Travelers ends up bodies of an overdose victim, a young mother battered to death by her boyfriend, a sociopathic sports star killed by a punch, a retarded girl beaten to death on the street and an FBI agent about to die from a fall down a lift shaft.

To the shock of all those around him the Jock gives up sport and his old wicked ways and turns into a reasonable if not saintly sort while the battered mother (this Traveler is a trained combat expert) hefts it to her abusive man and as for the FBI agent, this meat eating workaholic is suddenly Vegan.

Yeah….. it’s true, there is no meat in the future, in fact there is barely any food at all and the series lighter moments involve Travelers having mouth orgasms over things like fries, burgers and chocolate. Otherwise it turns out that the ‘past’ is an ever-shifting game of numbers made all the more difficult by a war with Travelers who have broken ranks with The Directors grand plan.

Conceptually solid ideas, good writing and a charismatic cast make for a superior a sci-fi series. A massive hit for Netflix, season two is down with season three in production.

 

 

Back over in deranged 12 Monkeys land (yes, the TV series stays true to Gillian vision – remember Brad Pit’s weird turn? It’s all there) it turns out that time itself is sentient and does not kindly to tinkering leading us into an increasingly bizarre labyrinth of realities as Cole and company wrestle with ‘Times’ obtuse methods and the terrorists responsible for the release of the deadly virus.

Like Gilliam I had severe doubts about this show imagining a dumb smash, bash, crash set of American clichés. Boy was I ever wrong. A critically acclaimed third season is all wrapped up and a fourth and final season is now in production.

 

 

Recent Stephen King adaptation 11.22.63 (2106) like 12 Monkeys and Travelers is all about changing the past in aid of the future, in this case preventing the assassination of US President JFK in the hope of averting the horrors of the Vietnamese war. James Franco does a fair job as a high school teacher thrown in deep in aid of the cause but it is mostly dullsville.

I lost interest after episode four but the reviews tell me I should have held on because the series really starts to fire toward the end. As for the time travel, this takes place via a portal in the back of a Diner. It’s an inter-dimensional thing with time guardians and the usual King flip-flappery.

 

 

In German series Dark (2017) the time travelling has no higher purpose, in fact it’s just an unfortunate accident set upon the unwitting inhabitants of the small German town of Winden. An ‘event’ at the local nuclear power plant creates a series of time traversing wormholes that suck unwitting locals into a nightmare of endlessly repeating cycles linking decades and generations.

At it’s heart this a psychological thriller that is not afraid to taste the dark meat of human experience. The result is uncomfortable, emotionally dense and riveting. Dark has been compared to Twin Peaks and Stranger Things but it’s a flimsy comparison. Dark has a tone and reality all its own though their might be some comparison to German filmmaker Reiner Werner Fassbinder’s triumphant 1973 TV series World On A Wire, a similarly bold speculative sci-fi entertainment.

 

 

And do yourself a favour – turn off the clumsy American voice over and listen to it in German with subtitles. It serves the series and the actors so much better. Season one ends on a cliffhanger with oodles of unanswered questions still sitting in the in-tray. Season 2 is currently in production.

 

 

A side note – 2009 German film The Door is all kinds of similar. Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen stars in this strange time travel thriller that like Dark, uses a cave as a doorway through time. Mad’s is supposed to be watching his young daughter while his wife is out, instead he is ‘seeing’ to his sexy neighbours needs. Daughter is killed in an accident and Mad’s is inconsolable. It turns out a cave at the end of the street is a portal through time so he sets about rectifying his big mistake but it turns out to be more difficult than he first imagines (of course it is). If you can find it, it is worth a look.

 

 

 

1966 American TV series The Time Tunnel comes from the same era that gave us camp Batman (1966), Star Trek (1966), The Prisoner (1967) and Land of the Giants (1968). The Time Tunnel has not endured as well as its cousins but was smart enough to influence a generation or two to come. 2016 series Timeless is drawn from this stock.

 

 

Bad guys steal top-secret time machine and start changing the timeline. Good guys are in pursuit. It’s standard wholesome action and adventure with conspiracies galore and a solid cast lead by Abigail Spencer. You’ll know her from Suits, Madmen and Rectify. As watchable as cool water on a hot day, Ms Spencer is an asset to any show and without her this operation would be 25% less than it is. If I were a kid, I would be drinking it up. Solid B-grade schlock, fun if predictable.

 

 

Time travel is a notable sub plot in Gene Roddenberry’s iconic Star Trek franchise, so much so that the Federation of Planets has a whole philosophy devoted to maintaining the sanctity of the timeline. It’s called the Temporal Prime Directive.

Time travel is the featured device of two of the franchises best films, The Voyage Home (1986) and First Contact (1996) and as for the numerous series, just about the best time travel concepts to be found anywhere on TV lie scattered about this vast cannon.

Among my favourites are: Times Arrow (1992 – The Next Generation), Futures End featuring Sarah Silverman and Ed Begley Jnr. (1996 –Voyager) Year of Hell (1997 – Voyager) and the various time travel scenarios involved in the triumphant Xindi story arc that tied up season three of Enterprise from 2003-2004. You’ll find them all and more on Netflix.

 

 

In short-lived 2016 series Time after Time H.G Wells invents a time machine. He shows it to his friend John who steals it. John it turns out is Jack the Ripper. Wells makes another one and goes after him. Seriously? This is the kind of idea that probably sound awesome when your 15 and stoned and thinking up shit. Based on the classic 1979 film the TV version is dull, dull, dull and cancelled.

 

 

Making History (2017) is time travel comedy, a sub-genre that includes classics like Time Travel Bong and Time Travel Hot Tub. Funny man goes back in time and stuffs up the timeline so ropes in Straight man Historian to help to sort it all out. It is about as amusing as a cup of day old coffee and was cancelled after 9 episodes.

 

 

There are some 60 odd time travel series available for viewing somewhere including the granddaddy of them all, the incomparable Dr Who. The Dr’s first hit the small screen back in 1963 and are still doing their shtick today. Among the current crop of international shows is The Ministry Of Time (El Ministerio del Tempo – 2016) out of Spain. Some critics are referring to as the Spanish Dr Who though the makers consider it closer to Timeless, a show they are suing for ‘stealing their ideas’. Apparently it is coming to Netflix.

While we are in Spain I should mention 2007 time travel thriller Timecrimes, which must rank among the smartest time travel films ever made. A scientist is caught up in an ever-tightening time loop after an experiment with a time machine throws up some unexpected results. If time travel is your thing and you haven’t seen this then Happy New Year, you have a treat in store.

 

 

In 1889 Mark Twain sent his Yankee back to King Arthur’s Court with a blow to the head but a revolution was just around the corner. In 1894 Englishman HG Wells imagines a machine that can traverse time and opens the genre up to a whole new order of possibility. The Time Travel genre has come a long way since but perhaps it’s most progressive forward step is by way of Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 novel The Time Travellers Wife.

Offering something utterly new and unique, the time travel device here is a rare genetic condition that causes a man to randomly move through time. Charting the course of an unconventional life, Niffenegger’s story is deeply affecting and utterly compelling. Given the phenomenal success of the book a clunky sentimental film adaptation was sadly inevitable.

 

If I was to pick one time travel film and say it was the ‘best ever’ it would be this. Using the cryogenic suspension first touted in Robert Heinlein’s novel The Door Into Summer, the original Planet of the Apes (1968) sees ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’ star Charlton Heston thrust into the far future and the result is  audacious and groundbreaking. Echoing the existential fears of a world teetering on the brink of nuclear annihilation this film hits every mark (including the magnificent score by Jerry Goldsmith).

Side note – as with 12 Monkeys, the Ape’s franchise originated from the work of a Frenchman. This time by way of one Pierre Boulle whose 1963 novel La Planete des Singes kicked it all off.

 

 

There is more, so much more but like John Rowles, I have run out of time. Bon Voyage.

 

 

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TV Review: The Handmaids Tale (2017).

May 4, 2017

 

The Handmaid’s Tale. (Dystopian Thriller)

9.5/10

Capsule Review: In 2004 the odious Brian Tamaki rallied his Destiny congregation for a march on Parliament to oppose Civil Unions. Some two thousand Evangelicals turned up (he had promised ten thousand) and dressed in black t-shirts pumped their fists in the air and chanted, “Enough is Enough”. Somewhat emboldened Tamaki predicted the Church’s political arm would triumph in the following years general election and turn New Zealand onto gods path. Want some idea of how that might have turned out? The Handmaid’s Tale will tell you all you need to know. One of the most potent and important stories ever conceived about the dangers of ideological theocracy (a system of government in which the religious rule in the name of a god) it has been turned into a TV series and the result is gut wrenching. Essential viewing for those concerned with liberty, freedom and justice. Otherwise The Handmaid’s Tale is brutal dystopian drama of the first order.

 

 

I didn’t want to watch this because knew what was in store: a horror of epic proportions (I have not read Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel but I have seen the very excellent 1990 film twice). Psychopaths, sadists and bestial violence – yes that and more, all of which I am pretty loath to tackle these days (as I get older I am discovering that I am les able to cope with the stress) but it is important, I told myself, to be reminded now and again of just how badly things can go wrong given the right set of circumstances.

The most glaring example of how a society can be hijacked by psychopathy is Hitler’s Germany but this is only one example out of the recent past that includes Stalin’s Russia, Mussolini’s Italy, Hoxa’s Albania and Ceaușescu’s Romania. Then there is Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the reign of the Argentinean Generals, Pinochet’s Chile and apartheid era South Africa to name a few worthy contenders not to forget the subjection and genocide of the American Indian and the brutal slave system in the American South………. but I digress.

In a future that is only moments removed from now, America’s second Civil War is set in motion by an infertility crisis and with the exception of Alaska and a bit of the Pacific Northwest, the Union is in ruins. A fundamentalist Biblical religious movement called ‘The Sons of Jacob’ have managed a successful coup and have renamed the USA ‘The Republic of Gilead’ achieving something very similar to what we saw the Taliban enable in Afghanistan for a time and what ISIS is trying to facilitate with its ‘pure’ Islamist Caliphate in parts of the Middle East at this very moment.

The result is a nightmare for women and male non-believers as the Constitution is suspended and a new ‘moral code’ is enacted. The ‘Eyes’, a secretive police force charged with enforcing the strict new laws based on old Testament biblical morality, are everywhere (akin to Iran’s Gasht-e Ershad – Moral Police) and brutal with it. People are hauled off the street for minor and serious infringements and punishments ranging from eye removal to arbitrary hangings are now normal.

The judicial system could easily be compared with the Nazi’s ‘People’s Court’ where the accused are formally charged and penalties are handed out with no right of redress. Otherwise society is confined to a series of strange and perverse rituals designed to appease god for the moral waywardness that has resulted in the fertility crisis. The Handmaid’s of the title are those few women still able to conceive and thus blessed are set aside for mating with high-ranking officials. They are both treasured and jealously despised. They are also slaves.

Of course this society is immensely sadistic, punitive and corrupt as all extremist ideologies are and those at the top of the hierarchy pay due tribute to the law but behind closed doors they live as they please. The philosophy of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ is well-examined, reinforcing age-old warnings about those who flaunt their piety. These sort are often not pious at all, more like opportunists in search of the main chance. Images of American Republican notables like Paul Ryan and Ted Cruise on their knees and praying in public outside the White House come to mind.

 

We first met actress Elizabeth Moss in the groundbreaking TV series Mad Men (2007-2015) a few years back and latterly she has appeared in hit Kiwi mini-series Top Of The Lake (Directed by Jane Campion -2013). In The Handmaids Tale she tackles the complex lead role of June (later renamed Offred), a woman struggling under a kind of duress that is almost impossible to fathom.

A student, wife and mother with a job, she is a fairly standard representation of the modern American woman and through a series of flashbacks we examine her life in the ‘time before the fall’. An especially chilling scene is early on in the piece when June’s credit card is declined. “But I have four thousand dollars in my account” she says.

Yes she does, except the new laws enacted that day restrict a woman’s right to an independent life and require that a close male relative manage her finances. Besides “We don’t serve sluts here” she is incredulously informed. The next day all female employees at her work place are laid off and sent home ‘where they belong’. This brave new world is a man’s one and you conform or die. Simple as that.

She is now a slave womb in servitude to one of the most powerful men in Gilead the powerful and high-ranking Commander Waterford and through her eyes we examine the ritual, process and fear that makes up the machinery of the Handmaid system. The Commander and his infertile wife are counting on Offred to provide them with the child they need to bolster their social position and salve their precarious emotional state.

Besides Moss’s contained and deeply nuanced portrayal of Offred (whose head is being kept above water out of hope she might find her confiscated daughter) the talented cast includes Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love, Enemy at the Gates, American Horror Story) as the Commander, Yvonne Strahovski (Dexter, Chuck) as Serena Joy the Commander’s bitter wife and Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) as Ofglen, Offred’s Handmaid shopping partner (shopping for the ‘families’ food is part of a Handmaid’s duties).

Her real name is Emily and she is a ‘gender traitor’, the new term for gay people, and when she is discovered having an affair with a ‘Martha’ (a lowly infertile female household servant) her punishment is genital mutilation. (Her life is otherwise spared because she is fertile – not so lucky the ‘Martha’) but the after Moss, the standout performer is Ann Dowd (a instantly recognizable character actor of roles to numerous to mention) as Aunt Lydia, instructor and guardian of the Handmaids.

Margaret Atwood talked to RNZ Broadcaster Kim Hill recently and in a wide-ranging interview shared her thoughts and feelings about The Handmaids Tale. A child of the 1930s she was born under the shadow of totalitarian regimes of various stripes including fascism and communism. She describes how these regimes happen as well as the personality types that make them work – from the complaint though to the sadistic and Aunt Lydia is nothing if not sadistic. In fact Aunt Lydia is exactly the type who made the Nazi extermination camps work as efficiently as they did.

 

I don’t usually review a TV series until I have seen the first season at least. It’s for reasons of clarity – making sure that I have seen enough so I can provide as substantive review as possible and besides, it hardly matters if you are a bit behind as streaming has changed the when and whys of viewing. A decent series is going to be just as potent in two years from now as it will be tomorrow so there is no real rush but there are exceptions and The Handmaids Tale is one of those because it is such an important and prescient story in light of the ‘populist’ politics at work in the world today.

Here I am thinking of Trump’s America, Duterte’s Philippines, and Erdogan’s Turkey among others and while the series sticks close to Atwood’s sharply drawn premise it manages some decent commentary on the current state of the USA and the growing influence of Evangelical politicians.

 

This is a skillfully conceived production and the attention to detail is astonishing. The camera work in particular needs special mention with every frame being a minor miracle of composition (often like something out of a Vermeer painting) and an example to all about how the lens can be used but so often isn’t. My only quibble is with Moss’s voice over which veers from commentary to diarist. When it is the former it works superbly. When it is the latter, not so much. Here it seeks to explain unnecessarily what the visuals are already describing aptly. In this context it is irritating.

Otherwise this is a gut-wrenching affair. I began this review by calling it a ‘Horror’ and that is what it is and the beast under the spotlight is not something exterior, but something from within – a monster created by the psyche and cast into life by social dysfunction. This is the greatest terror of all, man’s inhumanity to man by way of extremist devotion to belief and Atwood’s story reminds us that that this beast lurks behind every heartbeat waiting for the right moment to appear. This is why The Handmaid’s Tale is so important; because it reminds of how easily social cohesion can be undermined in times of stress and confusion. Beware, be wary and be warned.

 

Check out Kim Hill’s interview with Margaret Atwood here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday/audio/201841216/margaret-atwood-the-resurgence-of-the-handmaid’s-tale

 

Other notable works exploring dystopian political themes include:

George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (The 1966 film version was directed by French film master François Truffaut and is a lot better than many critics would have you believe)

The Children of Men by P.D James (The 2006 film is well on its way to ‘revered cult’ status)

Make Room Make Room by Harry Harrison (the very excellent film version is called Soylent Green)

The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin (Like Orwell’s Animal Farm this work puts the ideologies of communism and capitalism under the spotlight and finds both wanting)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Giver by Louis Lowry

The Trial by Franz Kafka (The great film director Orson Welles’s 1962 film version is hard work but visually stunning)

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick (The brilliantly conceived TV series is well worth a visit)

Vodafone NZ Music Awards 2014

January 26, 2015
Lorde, The big winner on the night

Lorde, The big winner on the night

In 1976 I left the farm and to become a boarder at Sacred Heart College in Auckland, a school that had recently educated boys that went on to form bands like Split Enz, The Dudes and Citizen Band among others.  The mystic that surrounded these recently departed old boys was palpable and I found myself becoming swept up in at all. I had discovered Kiwi music and I liked it.

Later, two incidents in particular inspired my growing and passionate advocacy for Kiwi music.

The first involved Radio Waikato. It was 1977 and I was home for the school holidays and Dads radio was tuned to the station in question. I was thrilled and surprised to realise the song I was hearing was My Mistake from the new Split Enz album Dizrhythmia. My delight was quickly undone by the jock who at the end of the song said:  “Well, we won’t be playing that rubbish again; it’s not the kind of music Kiwis want to hear.”

The other incident  involved prominent Hauraki morning host Blackie, (Kevin Black),  who hit the headlines in 1981 because of his refusal to play Auckland band The Screaming Meemees  No1 hit single See Me Go. He hated the sound, the ‘poor production quality’ and dour lyrics. His attitude was much the same as Radio Waikato. Local music was by in large second rate nonsense undeserving of the industries patronage.

The sad state of affairs was such that by 1991, local radio was playing less than 2% local music, this despite a healthy live scene and a vibrant DIY recording industry that was scoring with both critics and audiences alike.

In 1997 a Government and Recording Industry initiative, The Kiwi Music Action Group  was formed to compel radio stations to broadcast New Zealand music. The group initiated New Zealand Music Week and in 2000 this grew into New Zealand Music Month which further served the cause of struggling local artists..

Meanwhile newly elected Prime Minister and Minister of the Arts Helen Clarke informed the Radio sector:  “play more local music or we will make you”.

The Radio Industry grudgingly consented to a voluntary 15% local music quota and the result was miraculous. Exposed to hitherto unheard artists, audiences lapped it up and the demand for local music exploded.

By 2005, the local content on commercial radio had risen to 20% and local artists were scoring number one albums and singles with clockwork regularity.

Once upon a time the NZ Music awards was a poverty stricken operation but not anymore.  The 2014 Vodafone NZ Music Awards was a glittering red affair that played to an enthusiastic crowd at a packed Vector arena in Auckland,  a testament to Helen Clarke’s vision and courage, and the stars; remarkably unpretentious.


I found a nice vantage point near the stage door and got some amusement from the entourage that accompanied Lorde from podium to media room and back again. Her two towering Polynesian bodyguards seemed thrilled to find me where I wasn’t meant to be and managed to take the time to push me aside at every opportunity regardless of the fact that I was standing against the wall and really couldn’t be pushed anywhere. I was glad to be of service and to give them something to do. The collective of coiffured blonds with clipboards sailing in her wake were also quite funny.

And as for The Herald’s comments about Lorde’s accent? She sounded like a Kiwi who was trying to speak clearly for the benefit of an international audience. We forget that our fast and high pitched brand of English can be incomprehensible to foreigners and more and more The NZ Music awards are being pitched at an increasingly interested overseas market.

All in all, a brilliant night.

And awards went to:

*Best Electronica Album:  Opioiu –  Meraki

*Best Male Solo Artist: David Dallas

*Best Female Artist:  Lorde

*Best Maori Album:  Rob Ruha –  Tiki Tapu

*International Achievement Award:  Lorde

*Best Roots Album:  Tama Waipara – Fill Up the Silence

*Best Alternative Album:  Tiny Ruins – Brightly Painted One

*NZ On Air Best Music Video:  Director Campbell Hooper –  Hearts like Ours,  The Naked and Famous.

*Breakthrough Artist of the Year: Broods

*NZ Herald Legacy Award:  Supergroove

*Vodafone People’s Choice Award:  Stan Walker

*Vodafone Single of the Year:  Lorde – Team

*Mentos Album of the Year:  Lorde-  Pure Heroine

* NZ on Air Airplay Record of the Year: Stan Walker – Bulletproof

*Four Highest Selling Album: Sol3mio – Sol3mio

*Vodaphone Highest Selling Single: Lorde –  Royals

*Best Urban Hip- Hop Album:  David Dallas – Falling Into Place

*The Edge Best Pop Album:  Lorde – Pure Heroine

*Best Cassical Album:  Jack Body – Poems of Love and War

* Steinlager Pure Best Group: The Naked And Famous

* Best Rock Group:  Blacklistt

*Best Gospel Christian Album:  Mosaic – You Surround

*Best Album Cover:  Anna Taylor & Ken Clark – The Nihilist (Liam Finn)

*Best Producer: Joel Little – Pure Heroine (Lorde)

*Best Engineer:  Joel Little – Pure Heroine (Lorde)

*NZ On Air Critics’ Choice Prize:  Randa

*Best Pacific Music Album:  Sol3 Mio – Sol3 Mio

*Best Country Album:  Kaylee Bell – Heart First

*Best Folk Album: Tattletale Saints – How Red is the Blood

*Best Jazz Album:  Nathan Haines – Vermillion Skies


Poetry, Hamilton Style

January 14, 2015
Hamilton based poet Richard Selinkoff

Hamilton based poet Richard Selinkoff

‘Poetry, Hamilton Style’ is an audio documentary series made in collaboration with four poets from the city of Hamilton; Daniel Bennett, Richard Selinkoff, Rex Dunn and Cilla M.

The project had its roots in a series of fundraisers organised for Auteur House, a world  cinema DVD rental store down the seedy end of Hamilton’s main street. With some 10,000 titles on the shelves, it remains one of  NZ’s most comprehensive private film collections. A labor of love rather than a profitable endeavor, the fundraising evenings featured an esoteric collection of local performers, in particular poets.

What struck me most about these evening was the quality of the poetry on display, that and the heartfelt readings from the poets themselves. I had never been much of a poetry fan but was moved enough by the experience to create an audio record of their work, to preserve it and share it.

I like them all equally, all for different reasons.

Richard Selinkoff is a well spring of pithy observation and delightful asides and  his words dance with rhythmic abandon

Rex Dunn is a retired school teacher down on his luck,  both financially and emotionally. His is a joyous exploration of his love of words and a deeply honest and moving summation of his life’s regrets.

Then there’s Daniel Bennett. Mad and esoteric, Bennett’s effortless surrealism drew him rapturous applause the one  time he performed at an Auteur House fundraiser.

And as for Cilla M, this young woman, bruised and haunted by a series of tragic events, speaks with striking maturity about her search for a place in life.

This project has not just been about words, it has been about the thoughts, feelings and observations of a disparate group of people, all from different stages of life. It certainly opened my eyes to the power of the poetic form, especially when read aloud  by the author.

I plan to do more in the future, I am just waiting for the right people to cross my path.