Page 1

INSIDE: THE 50 GREATEST FILMS FROM AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND AND A SPECIAL HALLOWEEN HORROR SECTION

PLUS: WIN TICKETS TO SEE A TASH SULTANA SET FROM SIDE OF STAGE, THE PEEP TEMPEL, JOHN MAUS AND MORE!

LIME CORDIALE

LUST FOR LIFE


thebrag.com

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 3


in this issue what you’ll find inside…

8-9

6

Back To Business

8-9

Lime Cordiale have become their very best selves

10-11

The Peep Tempel talk 2016’s Joy, touring, and how to survive life on the road

26

Poltergeist

27

Six great films inspired by H.P. Lovecraft

12

Fanny Lumsden

28

13

Tokimonsta

The problem with queer characters in horror cinema

14

Less Than Jake

29

The Exorcist

15-18

The 50 greatest films from Australia and New Zealand

30

Eight great underrated horror films from Australia and New Zealand

19

Blade Runner 2049

31

The Spierig Brothers

20

Darlinghurst Funeral Rites, Meet Me In The Bathroom

32

Gerald’s Game

33-35

25

Introduction to the BRAG’s special horror film section

John Maus and the end of the world

36

Sounds Like...

37

Out and About

38

The Defender, Drawn Out

39-40

Snaps

41

Gig guide

15-18 The Peep Tempel photo by Ian Laidlaw

The Frontline

“We wanted to make the first album something that we were really happy with; we didn’t want to rush into it.” (8-9)

10-11

“Critics never got Wolf Creek 2, much in the same way that they don’t really get any of director Greg McLean’s films.” (15-18)

4

27

the frontline With Brandon John, Nathan Jolly and Joseph Earp ISSUE 727: Wednesday October 18, 2017 PRINT & DIGITAL EDITOR: Joseph Earp joseph.earp@seventhstreet.media NEWS DIRECTOR: Nathan Jolly STAFF WRITER: Joseph Earp NEWS: Nathan Jolly, Tyler Jenke, Brandon John ART DIRECTOR: Sarah Bryant PHOTOGRAPHER: Ashley Mar COVER PHOTO: Nik Damianakis POSTER PHOTO: Nedda Afsari ADVERTISING: Josh Burrows - 0411 025 674 josh.burrows@seventhstreet.media PUBLISHER: Seventh Street Media CEO, SEVENTH STREET MEDIA: Luke Girgis - luke.girgis@seventhstreet. media MANAGING EDITOR: Poppy Reid poppy.reid@seventhstreet.media THE GODFATHER: BnJ GIG GUIDE COORDINATOR: Kenneth Liong - gigguide@seventhstreet.media REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Arca Bayburt, Lars Brandle, Tanja Brinks Toubro, Alex Chetverikov, Max Jacobson, Emily Gibb, Emily Meller, Adam Norris, Holly Pereira, Daniel Prior, Natalie Rogers, Erin Rooney, Anna Rose, Spencer Scott, Natalie Salvo, Aaron Streatfeild, Augustus Welby, Zanda Wilson, David James Young Please send mail NOT ACCOUNTS direct to this NEW address Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046 EDITORIAL POLICY: The views and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher, editors or staff of the BRAG. ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE: Carrie Huang - accounts@seventhstreet.vc (02) 9713 9269 Level 2, 9-13 Bibby St, Chiswick NSW 2046 DEADLINES: Editorial: Friday 12pm (no extensions) Ad bookings: Friday 5pm (no extensions) Finished art: No later than 2pm Monday Ad cancellations: Friday 4pm Deadlines are strictly adhered to. Published by Seventh Street Media Pty Ltd All content copyrighted to Seventh Street Media 2017 DISTRIBUTION: Wanna get the BRAG? Email george@seventhstreet.vc PRINTED BY SPOTPRESS: spotpress.com.au 24 – 26 Lilian Fowler Place, Marrickville NSW 2204 follow us:

like us:

@TheBrag

THE BRAG

4 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

Evanescence

FOREVA AND EVA, AMEN Evanescence have announced an Australian east coast tour ‘Synthesis Live With Orchestras’ – which, as the name suggests, finds the band collaborating with Australian symphony orchestras to perform their forthcoming record Synthesis. “I’m really looking forward to bringing this new and different show to Australia,” says Evanescence lead singer Amy Lee. “Playing the Sydney Opera House is something I’ve dreamed about all my life. I remember taking the ferry over to Manly during days off on past tours with the band, and looking over at the legendary structure, saying ‘One day, we’re going to play there!’ I can’t believe it’s finally going to be a reality. We’re all very excited about it.” The band will hit the House on Tuesday February 13 and Wednesday February 14, with tickets on sale now. You can bet they’ll go fast, too – Evanescence fans are notoriously committed, so if you feel like heading along, you better put your money down fast.

YER STILL INSANELY PROFITABLE, HARRY Sydney is about to get another Harry Potterthemed show with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, this time centred around the time-travelling third book Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban. The ‘Harry Potter Film Concert Series’ will see the orchestra transmogrify the film into a full live show at

the Sydney Opera House, projecting it onto a 12-metre screen and playing the score live throughout. The first film in the series, Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, got the orchestral treatment earlier this year, with Chamber Of Secrets also receiving its own gigs last month – and we can only imagine that the SSO will carry on at this rate, given the incredible reception the shows have received so far. For many, though, the Alfonso Cuarón-directed third installment is a favourite for its dark but quirky tone and the introduction of some of the series’ most beloved characters, like Sirius Black and Professor Lupin. There are three shows booked, running each night from Wednesday April 18 to Friday April 20, 2018. Tickets are on sale now.

SOMETHING STRANGE THIS WAY COMES In this day and age, unless you watch something the minute it debuts in the US you’re most likely going to get a major plot point spoiled by those people on the internet who really want you to know they’ve already seen something, and have pretty important opinions to share regarding the director’s use of blah blah blah, #worstever. However, if you wanna avoid getting Stranger Things season two spoiled in a similar way, head along to the Australian premiere at the Sydney Opera House on Friday October 27, where they are screening the first episode at the same time as the global LA premiere, hours and hours before the season comes out on Netflix. The screening is at noon, and the foyers will be decked out with all things Stranger Things (that sentence didn’t flow too well, I’ll admit).

OP(ERA) SHOP YOURSELF SILLY Halloween is coming soon, summer often means ‘dress-up parties’, and there is simply no season nor occasion where a natty soldier outfit doesn’t go down an absolute treat. With all those stone cold facts front of mind, Opera Australia’s upcoming massive costume clearance sale is sounding mighty good, with over 2000 “retired” costumes going on sale, and with prices starting at $2 (and presumably going up from there). “There’ll be (fake) blood-spattered costumes, suits of armour from the middle ages and military style coats, lots of period costumes and amazing hats”, the Facebook page explains. “At the other end of the spectrum, there’s plenty of ’80s style dresses and ’60s inspired

Papa Roach

COCK ROCK What in the world of wallet chains happened back in 2000 that prevented Papa Roach from embarking on a run of headline shows in Australia? They have been in our country, sure: they supported Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2002, and played Soundwave 2015, but unless you enjoy funk songs about sex and California, or braved the Soundwave heat, this might be your first chance to see the guys as they hit Australia to play two (announced so far) intimate shows. Lead singer Jacoby Shaddix says of the forthcoming dates: “This is the first time we have been able to bring our show to the people of Australia. We know that Aussies are some of the best fans in the world and we have not been able to tour there as much as we had hoped, but our label Sony convinced us that we had to come over and start the process to build our base and we are more than ready for the challenge. The internet has been a great tool and our fans are still finding us through YouTube and now Spotify, helping us regenerate our audience after nearly 20 years as a band. Our streaming numbers are pretty undeniable and they are growing rapidly.” Can’t go wrong with corporate speak like that, can you! The band play Wednesday January 24, 2018 at the Metro Theatre.

outfits, bright and colourful chorus costumes and also store bought items of everyday clothing that need to go!” The sale goes down on Saturday October 21 and Sunday October 22 from 10am to 4pm each day, at 66 Euston Road, Alexandria. thebrag.com


thebrag.com

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 5


Back To Business Music Industry News powered by The Industry Observer

SCALPERS STRIKE AGAIN Tickets for CMC Rocks festival were immediately sold with a 500 per cent mark-up after they were released on

Monday October 9. The country music festival staple announced big name acts like Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker would headline the

Kelsea Ballerini

With Poppy Reid and Nathan Jolly

tenth anniversary event next March. The four-day event sold out in record time, reaching its 18,000 capacity within an hour of going on sale at 9am. Preying on Australia’s feverish love for the genre, one ticket holder swiftly put his two tickets up on Gumtree for $1,500 each – a 500 per cent increase on the $299 three-day passes. Sadly, the two tickets have been purchased. But it should come as no surprise really, given Gumtree currently has over 45 listings of fans seeking CMC Rocks tickets, including one listing from a person willing to pay $22,000 for two three-day passes, and two others from fans happy to fork out $5,000. Ticket scalping is one of the biggest issues facing Australia’s music scene. Music fans are continually preyed upon by operators who often use ticket bots to purchase tickets in bulk, or by people looking to make a quick buck. Thankfully, ticket scalping will become illegal if a new proposal by the NSW state government becomes law, with Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean announcing a potential reform to the Fair Trading Act that will prevent people from reselling tickets at exorbitant markups.

WE BUILT THIS CITY City of Sydney have released a discussion paper, An Open And Creative City: Planning For Culture And The Night Time Economy, which details and proposes a long-term vision and strategies for Sydney’s night time economy and cultural life. It forms a large part of the city’s Live Music and Performance Action Plan.

The Veronicas

Sydney is a global city, yet we are hampered by small town restrictions.

THE RETURN OF THE CHASER Excitingly, The Chaser team are set to present a daily show on Triple M in 2018. Following a three-month run on air earlier this year, Andrew Hansen, Charles Firth and Dom Knight will return weekdays from 3 to 4pm on Triple M Sydney. Radio Chaser will also regularly feature Chas Licciardello, Craig Reucassel and Chris Taylor. “A Radio Chaser best-of show will air on weekends across the Triple M

Hopefully this paper pushes progress a tiny bit further. It proposes eight actions across three subject areas (as laid out by the City of Sydney): 1. Developing fairer methods of managing entertainment noise – among a range of other signifi cant changes designed to make the way we regulate noise fairer, we are proposing to introduce ‘agent of change’ into our planning controls. Under this system, new residential developments near existing entertainment venues would need to be designed and built to manage the noise of the existing venue. Conversely, new entertainment venues would be required to protect existing residential properties from any noise it will make. This is a signifi cant and much needed shift in how the City works regulates music venues in respect to sound. 2. Encouraging more small-scale cultural events and activities across the city – allowing cultural activities with minimal impacts, such as a shop hosting an intimate performances or a public talk, to take place without development consent. 3. Making it easier for small businesses to trade later – allowing shops and local businesses in areas with an established retail character to extend their trading hours, without new development consent, from 7am to 10pm, seven days per week. As the council stresses: “These planning controls, once fi nalised and (hopefully) accepted by the NSW Government, are going to be in place for a long time – so it’s vitally important that we get everyone who has a stake in Sydney’s night time economy participating in the process.”

network in the unlikely event that there’s any ‘best’ to include,” states a tongue-in-cheek press release sent out by the station. “We’re so pleased to be coming back to Triple M,” Andrew Hansen says of the appointment. “It was absolutely our first choice after Nova, KIIS, Smooth, 2WS, the SBS Arabic station and the Townsville tourist information transmitter all turned us down.” Interestingly, The Chaser team’s first radio job was at Triple M Sydney in 2001. The Chaser

VERONICAS VS ARIAS

It has to be noted that ARIA have been quiet regarding the same sex marriage debate too, remaining the

6 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

only major body in the Australian music industry to stay silent on the issue. An email we sent to ARIA some weeks again asking whether the company would be making a statement about the issue was met with silence. The Chaser photo by Evan Munro-Smith

Jessica Origliasso from The Veronicas has taken a public shot at ARIAs for snubbing their video for ‘On Your Side’ in the Best Video category at this year’s awards, for reasons she puts down to egos and politics. She has called out the hypocrisy of any possible ‘equality’ theme at this year’s awards while “snubbing the most watched LGBT video of the year, because egos and politics.”

The company has added its logo, alongside 823 other corporations, to an open letter, but unlike other music industry bodies, they haven’t made a standalone statement. It’s also very interesting to note that the ARIA Chairman, Denis Handlin, also happens to be The Veronicas’ label boss.

thebrag.com


free stuff head to: thebrag.com/freeshit

Tash Sultana At This That

On Saturday November 4, This That festival is set to take over Wickham Park in Newcastle. The lineup is killer – everyone from Alison Wonderland to The Preaturues to Tash Sultana are set to play. And about Sultana, actually; you a fan? You wouldn’t be alone – the loop happy singer-songwriter has a small army of dedicated followers. And if you are, boy do we have a prize for you. The BRAG is giving away a double pass to This That festival – but not just any old pass. Not only will you get entry into the festival, you will also get to watch Sultana from the side of stage, and you’ll get a free backstage meal provided by the VIP This That chefs. Wanna enter? Snap a photo of yourself with the Sultana poster in this copy of the mag, post it to Instagram with the hashtag #thebragmag, and make sure you’re following us at @TheBragMag.

thebrag.com

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 7


COVER STORY

Tanja Brinks Toubro talks to Oli Leimbach of Lime Cordiale, and discovers a musician wholly dedicated to his craft

O

li Leimbach is in a thoughtful mood. And who could blame him? The young musician, one half of the sibling duo Lime Cordiale, has had a day of interviews, and the constant questions have flung him into a distinctly reflective mood. You can hear it in his voice – the way it goes soft and deep – and in the long pauses he leaves before answering, mulling over every word.

Permanently Popular

“Mine and [bandmate] Louis’ real struggle has always been getting in the can what we really feel is a Lime Cordiale sound,” Leimbach says over the phone from his home in the Northern Beaches. “That’s been the struggle.”

Oli and Louis started making music together in high school, and their influences include everything from The Beatles and the Beach Boys to The Strokes and The Growlers, just to mention a few. And yeah, although all those touchstones have been apparent since their first EP, they have never been a derivative band, or a pair of musicians happy to simply ape their heroes. They’ve decisively proved that uniqueness as well with the release of their first full-length album, Permanent Vacation. A jubilant mix of pop hooks, anthemic choruses, and the crushing indie rock instrumental breaks that they have forged their reputation upon, Vacation is a stunning artistic statement. “It’s a big thing releasing an album,” Leimbach says. “We’ve always thought of ourselves as a band that really pumps out a lot of music, but I don’t think we are necessarily that band in actuality – we’re pretty fussy and can spend a lot of time on tunes. We do second guess ourselves. “In January 2016, we thought we were going to go ahead and record an album, and then for some reason we changed our minds and ended up writing another 20 to 30 songs, just so we definitely knew that we had the right songs for the album. We wanted to make the first album something that we were really happy with; we didn’t want to rush into it.” The 13 songs on the debut were written over a period of about three years, and the record largely serves as a reflection of what it’s like to be a 20-something-year-old living in Sydney – and perhaps also offers a momentary escape from it. “There’s a song on there called ‘What Is Growing Up?’ and I think that kind of sums up a lot of the album; this refusal to grow up. In Sydney you have to face a lot of pressure. You have to earn money to pay your rent, which is always really high, and it’s a lot of hard work, especially for an artist or musician. Even our dad, who’s a documentary film maker – his whole family calls him Peter Pan because he’s refused to grow up.” Leimbach laughs. “Every song on the album takes us into a different head space, but I really like the first one, ‘Naturally’. I think it really feels like a distillation of us over the course of the band’s whole life. It’s got a sort of beachy vibe to it, and the lyrics are very literal and personal. It’s called ‘Naturally’ because it’s about being exactly who you are, and it talks about picking up your girlfriend in your rust-bucket car with stains on your shirt or whatever – but it’s just kind of about loving you the way you are.” When it comes to the specifics of their sound, a lot has happened since the duo started out on acoustic bass and guitar. As the venues changed (and the crowds grew bigger – not to mention drunker) so did the sound. “We

felt a lot more confident with what we had, so we weren’t necessarily exploring and trying to find our sound. It was more like we were refining it, and trying to get the sound that felt most us,” Leimbach explains. “I feel like there’s quite a big contrast of sounds on the album. There’s slow Beatles-y ballads, and then more up-tempo stuff like ‘Temper Temper’, and darker tunes like ‘Risky Love’. Our producer Dave [Hammer] was really good at refining everything for us. When we first met him, he wanted to talk a lot about the sound that we wanted and the influences that we had. Then once we had a goal of

“In Sydney you have to face a lot of pressure. You have to earn money to pay your rent, which is always really high, and it’s a lot of hard work.” 8 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

“We wanted to make the first what we wanted to achieve, he just wanted to really push to make sure we did that.” Meeting Hammer was also the key to finishing the album. Until then, the pair hadn’t found a producer they were absolutely comfortable with – but with Hammer they instantly hit it off. “We did two songs with Dave at the end of last year. And that felt really, really good, so we moved from there and did a few more, and then a few more, and then we ended up doing the whole album. “You’ve got to really get on with your producer. You spend so much time with them that you’ve got to be on the same page. They’re directing the course and where you’re going and what you’re doing, but you’ve got to be completely thebrag.com


“You’ve got to really get on with your producer. You spend so much time with them that you’ve got to be on the same page.”

album something that we were really happy with; we didn’t want to rush into it.” equal with them too. You don’t want them telling you what to do, and you don’t want to have to tell them what to do. It’s like having another band member for the course of recording the album, so it’s pretty important to have a really good personal relationship – even more than it is to have a professional relationship.”

around with stuff like that, and feeling like we’re finding sounds that were different to anything we’ve done before. We’ve always wanted to explore stuff like that in the recording process, but we’ve also always had to record as quickly as possible, just because it gets expensive every extra day you add on. But this time we just spent months in the studio.”

Indeed, the album was recorded in Hammer’s own studio, and not being on the clock to finish at a certain time made a world of difference for the band. “We were just recording the album and doing that ’till it was done, really,” Leimbach explains.

Following the release of Permanent Vacation, the boys will be taking the record on the road, hitting 15 cities around the country in November and December. They couldn’t be more excited. “We’re really pumped,” Leimbach laughs.

“We had time to experiment. Like it’s been really fun putting saxophones through autotune plugins and mucking

But what’s the plan after that? Leimbach doesn’t even take a second to think about it. “I’m pretty keen to get back into

thebrag.com

writing.” he says. “We’ve been recording most of this year, so we haven’t been doing any writing really. It’s going to be so good once this tour finishes just to kick back a little bit and do some of that. But we also want to explore overseas a little bit more. Our dad is American, so we’ve got some family and support over there. “But yeah, I guess the bottom line is just that we’re going to keep writing and playing shows – whether the album blows up or whether it flops, the end result of both of those situations would just be to release another album.” Where: Metro Theatre When: Saturday November 25 And: Permanent Vacation out now through Chugg BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 9


FEATURE

The Peep Tempel Are The Best Live Band In Australia By Joseph Earp

B

ack in 2011, the wheels fell off The Peep Tempel. The three-piece, led by singer and lyricist Blake Scott, had just written a record: a vicious, rusted beartrap, full of songs about failed love, and sickness, and cruelty, and beauty. They’d picked the record label they wanted to distribute the album, had received the necessary paperwork, and were keen to get the self-titled debut out into the world as soon as they possibly could. But a crucial contract got caught in a Gmail spam folder, and the record label deal never went ahead. As it turns out, that proved to be something of a miracle. “The label went south real quick, and a couple of great records from bands we know got buried,” Scott says now. A tragedy had been averted – according to Scott, had the record been a victim of the label going defunct, they’d never have made another one. But things were still pretty shit: with the deal aborted, the album was shelved anyway. The apocalypse had been swapped out for a disaster; the end of the world traded for a genocide. It was almost like something out of a Peep Tempel song. Worse still, the band, agitated by the delays and uncertain of their future, began to doubt themselves. “The waiting was awful, especially as we had no idea what we were doing in regards to releasing the album,” Scott says. Not that the less glamorous side of the industry was exactly new to the members of the Tempel. Originally formed to fill a last-minute gap in a night of music at a Melbourne pub, by 2011, the band had been around the traps a bit – they’d released two well-received singles, ‘Thank You Machiavelli’ and ‘Fatboy’, recorded with the original lineup of Scott, Matt Duffy and Steven Carter. “At our first show, we had two songs – sort of – and played them over and over again for 30 minutes,” Scott explains. “We got quite the reception, so we decided to invest a little more into it.” But it was Scott and Carter’s brief, interstate tour of Brisbane, conducted as a stripped-down version of the Tempel, that really exposed them to the harsher realities of the life of a touring musician; made them aware of the ugliness and the boredom that you won’t see on VH1 Behind The Music segments, or talked about in stuffy music documentaries.

“The Peep Tempel is a shit band name.” 10 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

So no, they had no delusions – were unsurprised, if admittedly disheartened, when their debut went unreleased for an entire year. Nor were they particularly unprepared when, following the self-titled record’s eventual release, they went on the road as a three-piece for the first time, and found that having more bodies in the van does not necessarily translate into an easier time. “I guess you learn how to travel together or you don’t,” Scott says. “Long drives,

shitty accommodation, bad food, lack of sleep, anxiety, the physical exertion of lugging gear from venue to venue, playing to the mixer… If you don’t kill each other through that shit, it’s onwards and upwards. I think we’re all considerate and respectful people, and we have always accommodated each other’s needs for the most part. It comes down to the band’s performance really – once that starts to suffer, everything gets magnified.” And certainly the quality of The Peep Tempel’s live shows – the things they do when they are onstage, and the sheer, unrelenting noise they can make when their powers are combined – is something that has never once faltered.

After all, The Peep Tempel are, simply put, the best live band in Australia. And simply put is the only real way to talk about The Peep Tempel – the only way to get at what they have achieved over the years, and the strength of songs like ‘Carol’ and ‘Big Fish’. They are one of those bands that force you to abandon weasel words, and half-baked platitudes; a band about which you cannot fall back on the tropes that critics love. You can’t simply mumble something about them being timeless, or unique, or perfect – although they are all those things. At the end of the day, when forced to explain the Tempel, all you can do is point the uninitiated in the direction of their music; all you can do is suggest people listen, and quietly, dramatically, have their lives changed. thebrag.com

The Peep Tempel photo by Ian Laidlaw

“We played at Ric’s and did a gig in a lounge in Lennox Head,” Scott says. “It was heaps of fun, and helped reiterate

how much we wanted to tour – but also how hard it could be. We had two bands pull out of the show that week. Trying to put together lineups in other cities when you are starting out is a nightmare.”


“I think we’re all considerate and respectful people, and we have always accommodated each other’s needs for the most part.”

L

ast year, The Tempel dropped Joy, perhaps their greatest artistic achievement to date. A gloriously misshapen, sunblasted thing, it was like Raymond Carver on acid, or Joan Didion fucked up on VB; full of songs that shot out like switchblades, and furious, scraping guitar solos.

“Trying to put together lineups in other cities when you are starting out is a nightmare.” thebrag.com

Sure, it had its own distinct sense of meanness, and was packed with all the coarseness and the cruelty that had defined Tales, the band’s breakout release, but it had heart too. It was a record about spectacularly fucking up – about corrupt cops hiding out in the middle of the outback, and disastrous weddings, and transgressions of every conceivable sort – and yet more than anything else, it was a work concerned with transformation. All the record’s characters, no matter how grotesque, were granted absolution of one form of the other; all of them were changed. “It’s a record I’m glad we made,” says Scott. “We took a very different approach than we had with the others, and we gave ourselves a bit more space.

I feel it’s a display of where we should be at by album number three; a band playing well and taking some risks. It wasn’t a comfortable session, which was important, because we had to keep exploring sounds outside what we were used to in order to make it work.” And yet Scott deliberately didn’t overthink writing the thing. He just let it happen; just allowed it to pour out of him. “What I’m hearing musically usually sets the tone or theme for the lyrics,” he says. “I’ll usually spit out a couple of lines when we first run an idea, which will stick, then I’ll sit down and work with that theme. For me, it is important to stay connected to that initial emotional reaction you have to the sound of a song. I do find I leave the final edit for

the last days before recording. It’s not ideal, but that’s when I seem to get more bounce and energy lyrically.” You get the sense talking to Scott that this is the way that he likes to live his life generally; that he just submits himself to his art, and just lets it happen. Not, mind you, that he is totally without regrets. “The Peep Tempel is a shit band name,” he says. “It’s my fault. Thankfully, it works well in a Google search. Other than that? What a nightmare. I wish we were called ‘Mum Smokes’. That is the best band name ever.” Where: The Bald Faced Stag When: Saturday October 28 With: Scabz, Batpiss

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 11


FEATURE

Fanny Lumsden: Not Quite Nashville Bound Samuel Leighton-Dore talks to self-confessed small town big shot Fanny Lumsden about why she’s never going to sell out her sound

C

ountry musician Fanny Lumsden will be the first to tell you she faced her fair share of industry pressure while writing Real Class Act, the followup to her ARIA-nominated debut album Small Town Big Shot. But rather than caving into the pressure and releasing something she was less than happy with, Lumsden engaged directly with her fans, and let them guide her towards authenticity. “We actually crowdfunded the album again, but the process was a lot faster this time,” Lumsden says. “Last time we took our time with it, but this time around we were literally crowdfunding while in the studio. We went in for three weeks, full time, and it was a much more intense experience – which was actually really awesome.” Having spent a good deal of time touring around rural Australia, Lumsden says it was incredible to see town hall audiences stepping up and engaging with the crowdfunding process, something they might not have had the opportunity to grow entirely accustomed to before. “We spent the last few years on the road meeting people, so we found that when we did the

crowdfunding thing it happened so fast, with heaps of people we didn’t know joining in.” While Lumsden does admit that the success of crowdfunding “depends on your intentions and what kind of artist you are”, she feels like the experience has been an empowering revelation for her and her fellow independent musicians alike. “I think it’s making a big difference for musicians – it’s a way more direct way to create music. It’s enabled us to create our own label, in a way. “We’re hugely community-based with what we do. We had the option to sign to record labels, but when we thought about it, this model made so much more sense to us. It was about keeping the creative process within our little community – and everyone really enjoyed being a part of the process.” Still, the spectre of self-directed pressure haunted Lumsden throughout the writing and recording process. “I went from someone not many people knew about to having all of these accolades in the country music world – and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I have to keep checking in on myself and reminding myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. In terms of my songwriting though, I’m always writing, so I had some space and time for that, which was nice.” With the record now available to stream and purchase around the country, Lumsden says the self-imposed pressures have only increased. “I’m really feeling it, now that it’s out. The response and

reviews last time were so good … I’m trying to just sit back and focus on the response from my audience. As long as I’m really proud of it and the people who buy it are proud of it, that’s all that matters to me.” The songs on Real Class Act evoke the distinct feeling that you’ve been invited to flip through Lumsden’s family photo albums, with cicadas croaking in the backyard and her father playing guitar on the front porch, so it makes sense when she reveals that her childhood memories had a huge bearing on the record. “I had a pretty wonderful upbringing, doing lots of farm things, helping out in the shearing sheds and in the paddocks. We all rode horses – and there was lots of music. Both of my parents play the guitar – everyone learned instruments – so at family gatherings there would be music constantly. My music is really influenced by those memories and that family-oriented upbringing.” One track in particular, ‘Perfect Mess’, was written for Lumsden’s sister’s wedding, while ‘Big Ol’ Dry’ recounts the times her father carted the entire family’s water supplies during a drought. Then there’s ‘Real Men Don’t Cry (War On Pride)’, which tackles the mental health challenges experienced by men, particularly in rural parts of the country, head on. “’Real Men Don’t Cry’ is a comment on how over time having a stiff upper-lip and being stoic … inhibits personal relationships. I wanted to write a song about how we need to shake ourselves free

“We’re going to dabble overseas, but I’m not gagging to go to Nashville or anything.” of that idea. There have been a bunch of instances of depression in my town, when people just didn’t know how depressed they were because they wouldn’t share their feelings. I wanted to say that sharing your feelings shows so much strength.” Despite having supported some big names on tour, Lumsden says her ideal concert venue would be “a big old country hall somewhere” – which certainly explains the Country Halls National Tour of Australia she’s currently embarking on. “They’re just the most amazing shows,” she says with a loved-up sigh. “The whole community comes out – kids and grandmas. To have pretty much an entire town show up in the middle of nowhere... It’s like, ‘Where did you all come from?’” Going against the grain is clearly in Lumsden’s nature, so she’s not in any hurry to head overseas, instead prioritising upcoming shows in her homeland. “We’re going to dabble overseas, but I’m not gagging to go to Nashville or anything. I’d love to tour in Canada — and Japan has a big country music scene; there are lots of amazing places that I’d love to explore. If I could just expand on what I’m already doing, that would be amazing.” Where: Giant Dwarf When: Friday November 3 And: Real Class Act out now independently

“I went from someone not many people knew about to having all of these accolades in the country music world — and I put a lot of pressure on myself.” 12 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

thebrag.com


“I had pretty severe aphasia, meaning I was unable to understand communication from other people.”

Two years ago, Tokimonsta was diagnosed with Moyamoya disease. She told Benjamin Potter the story of her struggle, victories, and rehabilitation

FEATURE

Tokimonsta: The Long Road To Recovery

W

e all have our battles. After all, they make us who we are – for better and for worse. And yet for Jennifer Lee, AKA the abstract electronic music phenomenon Tokimonsta, the nature of her struggle didn’t merely threaten to shape her career as a musician: it threatened to outright end it. Lee shocked her fans and the electronic music community earlier this year when she announced via an emotional Facebook post that she had been diagnosed with Moyamoya disease, a rare and potentially fatal brain disorder that affects vascularity. “It was interesting because I wasn’t having any major symptoms,” Lee says. “My doctor had already scheduled for me to get an MRI on my back because I was having shoulder pains – typical, you know? But right before I was going to go to that appointment, I had this instance where I was walking and I couldn’t feel my foot. “I called my doctor and told her about it, so she added a brain scan as well. It turned out it was Moyamoya. I’m definitely glad I was able to catch it a bit earlier than most people do, because it tends to hit people hard. I basically had what would be considered a mini stroke.” Lee’s career as an internationally acclaimed musician came to a screeching halt following two invasive brain surgery procedures that forced her to re-learn how to speak and walk. But most pressing for the young artist was the ever-looming possibility that she might lose her natural creativity; that her future might have to be put on hold permanently. “I had pretty severe aphasia, meaning I was unable to understand communication from other people. The pool of words that I could pull from had shrunk. So, you have this huge vocabulary bank, and you can choose all these words, but I could only choose a few. I couldn’t remember them, but I was cognitively aware: like I totally knew that I wanted to communicate something but there was no way to get myself to speak normally.

xxx

“Music was very much the same, and the first time I listened to music it just sounded insane – like noise. I was probably listening to something quite mellow, and it just sounded like harsh metallic sounds. It was completely nonsensical and had no rhythm. I guess my brain just couldn’t comprehend music.”

Lee’s new album Lune Rouge is the result of more than a year’s worth of rehabilitation, much of it slow and painful. “Music in general is a very complicated experience – you have the rhythm, the melody... There’s all these things going on. It took a lot of re-developing and re-establishing my taste in music.” As a result of that process, Lune Rouge was born out of a flurry of false starts, and there were times when Lee had to put music “on the back burner” to protect herself from the strain of it all. “When I first started trying to create again … I was aware enough to know this music I was making was not good. It was very disheartening to know that I just wasn’t where I was before. I couldn’t bear to force myself to come to terms with the fact that I might not be able to make music again. “I gave it a few weeks, and the very first song on the new record is the very first one I made after everything. It’s very special to me, and it was a sign that everything was going to be okay – if I made that song, I knew from here on out that I was going to be able to create. I

“I basically had what would be considered a mini stroke.” thebrag.com

“I couldn’t bear to force myself to come to terms with the fact that I might not be able to make music again.” was very unsure up until that point, and I was scared.” More broadly, Lee was spurned on by the importance of staying connected and involved in the electronic music scene as a woman, and she is hyper aware that her scene is far too frequently dominated by men. “I look at every festival that I play and there are never enough women,’’ Lee says. “There’s a festival I’m playing over New Years’ and I think the only female musicians are me and Alison Wonderland – the rest of them are all guys. And it’s a pretty large festival.” That said, Lee readily admits the problem has no easy solution, and she doesn’t think men in positions of power are actively trying to uphold a broken and damaging status quo. “I don’t think it’s explicit – I don’t think promoters are like,

‘Nah, we can’t get these girls: we just need more men, power to the men, fuck these women.’ I think it’s more of a systemic issue – I think it’s about the music culture, the music industry, marketing.” That’s not to say that Lee thinks we should all hang back and hope that the problem solves itself. She believes in staying active; in fighting the powers that be, and forcing change however she can. “Festivals have so much autonomy that they have the power to just switch things around and say, ‘Let’s have some more female festival headliners; let’s have more female musicians.’ “But I would say in the context of this whole grander conversation that I’m not the kind of person that’s really into like, all-female festivals. I think that’s discriminatory in itself. Like, don’t do a female music stage at a festival – that’s super lame. Just put everyone on the same stage together, and make it about the music and everyone participating.” What: Laneway Festival 2018 Where: Sydney College Of The Arts When: Sunday February 4 With: Alex Cameron, Father John Misty, Slowdive, The Internet and more And: Lune Rouge is out now through Positive Feedback BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 13


FEATURE

Less Than Jake: Quarter Of A Century Vinnie Fiorello tells Brooke Gibbs that touring 150 dates a year isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be

25

years and over 300 songs since their original formation in small town Florida, the Gainesville punks responsible for fashioning a generation’s suburban discontent, social isolation and ‘plastic cup politics’ into irresistibly tasty punk ska hooks, Less Than Jake, will be returning Down Under to greet their loyal audience and play five headlining shows. The band have been self-managed for over five years and their success has comfortably spanned two-and-a-half decades. Perhaps that’s the reason they show no signs of easing their breakneck touring pace, one that sees them routinely smash out over 150 dates a year. “People are coming out to shows in Australia for a party, and that’s an important thing when you’re talking about a live show,” says drummer and lyricist Vinnie Fiorello. “Those who go want to have fun, but the band wants people to have fun as well.” 25 years is an extremely long time to be doing anything – especially to be spending all your summers on the road touring, and having to constantly find fresh ideas in an ever-changing industry. But the band’s continuous success is a lot simpler than it seems: it all comes

down to the fans who inspire Less Than Jake to keep playing music, touring, smashing out records – and doing it all at a breakneck pace. After all, there’s a kind of electricity that sparks up between bands and their fans, and Less Than Jake feed on it. “The energy has to go back and forth, and the moment it ceases to do that, then we’re not going to be a band anymore. So that’s why we keep on doing it. We still write new songs, and it’s not just about resting on our back catalogue. We are still an active band and we constantly tour. It’s five to eight months a year depending on what type of cycle we’re on, and I think that goes to show the love that we have for what we do.” One might assume that after 25 years spent on the road with a bunch of his mates, Fiorello would have countless tour stories to share. But according to the veteran musician, it’s not like that at all: touring is, for the most part, pretty boring, and the best part of being on the road is the hour-and-a-half the band spends playing to their adoring crowd. “On tour, you spend the time searching for coffee, searching for a bathroom. Then you have soundcheck; you say ‘hi’ to your friends if you know some people coming to the show; you look for food out on the street of the town that you’re in. It’s not what people expect it to be like, being in a band for 25 years. “But I must say one of the best things that has happened to us was when

“I don’t know many people that digest a full record, so why not release an EP?” we were lucky enough to tour with Bon Jovi. It was one of the weirder moments of our career. It was just very, very bizarre to be able to tour with Bon Jovi, being in a punk rock band.” He laughs. “But that was great – that and stuff like being able to play at festivals, or supporting bands like Slayer and looking off to the side of stage and seeing some of the members watching us play. You have these odd occurrences happen. Like Roger [Lima, bass player] met a fan, and it turned out that his dad was the lead singer of Iron Maiden.” The much anticipated anniversary tour follows the release of their EP Sound The Alarm back in February, and the group have spent the better part of this year taking the new work around the world. Though it must be said, it is a little strange that the band chose to release an EP, given the collossal back catalogue of full-length albums they’ve dropped over the years. Not that Fiorello thinks there’s anything particularly strange about it – indeed, as far as he is concerned, now is the perfect time to drop something a little shorter. “It’s the way people consume music. They cherry pick songs, and then they put them on their playlist or they download them and put them on their

14 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

As Fiorello tells it, Sound The Alarm is about nothing less than the meaning of life. It’s a record about weathering the storm; about living through trauma, and pain, and struggle, and coming out of the other side for the better. “The lyrics on Sound The Alarm are basically telling you that you can live through the bad times and that you’re going to come out better for it at the end. Just because things are hard, doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from the bad times.” You better believe that Less Than Jake aren’t planning on fading away anytime soon. The jury is out on whether or not they have another 25 years in them, but they defi nitely want to play more shows – hundreds more, if they can help it. “After we’re in Australia, we’ll be doing a cruise for the Warped Tour. Then we play two shows with the Descendants and it’s going to be a cool time – but as far as November is concerned, I think we’re going to start writing a little bit; starting new music, and a new record and beyond that, I’m not too sure.” He laughs. “We’ll just be doing what we usually do.”

When: Wednesday October 25 Where: Metro Theatre

xxx

“Roger met a fan, and it turned out that his dad was the lead singer of Iron Maiden.”

devices. I don’t know many people that digest a full record, so why not release an EP?”

thebrag.com


FEATURE

s e i t u a e You B

By Joseph Earp

– Long Weekend

– The Cars That Ate Paris

The first of many, many Everett De Roche-penned masterpieces to appear on this list, Long Weekend is a man vs. nature style tale in which the audience is actively encouraged to root for the animals. Insane, bad-natured fun.

– Bedevil

Anthology films might usually be a bit of a mixed bag (take XX X as the most recent and egregious example of such a phenomena), but the Tracey Moffat-helmed Bedevill manages to buck that curse. Three ghost stories combined into one eerie, 90-minute flick, Bedevill is a masterclass in tension, and one of the greatest films from a sadly underrated filmmaker.

– Holy Smoke!

Peter Weir has gone on to make some right clunkers, fouling up Hollywood with a series of overly stuffy, tremendously boring action/adventure films (The Way Back and Witness, I’m looking at you). But one should never forget that he got his start making exciting, powerful Australian films, most notably the utterly batshit The Cars That Ate Paris. Part social satire, part dark comedy, part bloody horror film, Cars is one long screeching serve of genius.

– The Nostradamus Kid It’s only been a year since we lost Bob Ellis, but goddamn is he missed. Although best known as a journalist and cultural commentator, he was an underrated filmmaker as well, and his excellent debut, the dark drama The Nostradamus Kid, is truly deserving of a critical renaissance.

Jane Campion’s 1999 masterpiece has never quite got the respect that it deserves, and it’s not hard to see why: the film is just so damn strange, full of explicit sex, outrageous performances, and weird satirical jabs at religion and cults.

Braindead

– Dark Age A rare example of an Australian flick from the late ’80s that actively acknowledges the traditional custodians of these lands, the Indigenous people, Dark Age is a creature feature with a difference. John Jarratt is ace as the iron-jawed hero, and the special effects, though sometimes creaky, have a charm entirely of their own. Holy Smoke!

– Braindead In most zombie films, the goal of the heroes is to keep the undead aggressors out. In Peter Jackson’s Braindead, the reverse is the case: our hapless young hero Lionel has to keep his decomposing and reanimated mother inside, lest she be discovered by the prying neighbours of his little town. Sure, the premise might sound a little simple, but sometimes the simplest ideas work the best, and Braindead is a delight from sweet beginning to truly traumatised end.

Matt Young from King Parrot Gettin’ Square

Georgia from Body Type The Big Steal

"[I love] the scene where the junkie Johnny Spiteri [David Wenham] is in the court room being questioned and manages to pilfer $40 out of the attorneys for his ‘luncheon expenses’. It’s one of those classic Aussie films, and that scene is one of my all-time favourites."

"The Big Steall has always felt like Australia’s answer to Wild At Heartt or True Romance. To be honest, I don’t think there could be a cooler homegrown ’90s couple than Claudia Karvan – only 17! – and Ben Mendelsohn: what a sweet onscreen love bust. Something about its style mirrored my own growing pains: I have big love for The Big Steal."

thebrag.com

Lincoln le Fevre from Lincoln le Fevre and The Insiders The Boys "I would have been about 20 when I first saw The Boys – I was in the middle of watching a spate of really bleak films. It takes a look at sub-working class Australia, and reminds us that so often there are no easy answers or happy endings. Oh, and it’s got amazing and visceral performances by David Wenham and Toni Colette to boot." BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 15


FEATURE

Proposition, helmed by the always excellent John Hillcoat, has all the fatalistic inevitability of a Shakespearean tragedy. A true work of bloodied art.

Romper Stomper

33 – Romper Stomper

Infamously denigrated by archetypal boring old white man David Stratton on its first release (more on him and his shoddy taste later on in this list), Romper Stomper remains one of the most unforgiving portrayals of hatred – let alone racism – put to film in Australia. The suburban escape setpiece is still exhilarating.

32 – Chopper

What to say about a film like Chopper? Designed to appeal directly to the gut rather than the mind (let alone the heart), director Andrew Dominik turns the story of one not particularly pleasant man into a darkly comic, Mean Streets-indebted assault on the senses. Oh, and goddamn, isn’t that soundtrack perfect?

31 – Samson And Delilah 43 – Gettin’ Square

How can you possibly go past a movie that features Gary Sweet, Timothy Spall and David Wenham? That’s like the holy bloody trifecta!

42

– Bad Taste

Peter Jackson is as important to Australia and New Zealand’s cultural life as Steven Spielberg is to America’s, and this, his debut film, is just as loveable as the flicks he shot after it. Sure, it might feature shonky looking masks that were made in Jackson’s mother’s oven, but when a film is this fun, who gives a shit?

Warwick Thornton might well be one of Australian cinema’s most distinctive voices – after all, there are few movies like Samson And Delilah, his shattering meditation on addiction, poverty, and most importantly of all, redemption. Taking cues from the work of Abbas Kiarostami, Thornton is a minimalist with the heart of a poet, and his film only becomes more devastating with each and every passing year.

30 – Walkabout

Although relentlessly problematic (its simplistic take on Indigenous Australians is a little toe-curling, not to mention that deeply misguided epilogue), Walkabout remains an important film in our cultural history. No matter that it was directed by an Englishman, Nicolas Roeg (he of Don’t Look Now): Walkabout contains shots that capture the outback better than any others have.

41 – The Boys

29 – Razorback

40 – Mad Dog Morgan

28 – Jindabyne

39 – The Loved Ones

27 – Rogue

Uncompromising viewing indeed, The Boys puts the hyperaggresion of masculinity under the microscope, examining the effects sheer testosterone can have on the victims of violence – and the perpetrators of it. Stephen Sewell’s award-winning script is incredible.

Someone should erect a goddamn plaque in honour of Philippe Mora, the mad genius behind some of this country’s most remarkable genre films. At the very least, he deserves kudos for successfully wrangling his substance-abusing lead actor Dennis Hopper on the set of Mad Dog Morgan, a frenetic take on the bushranger myth.

A pitch-perfect subversion of the homecoming queen myth, The Loved Ones never descends into the territory of parody, which, given the circumstances, one could go in rightfully expecting it to. Instead, director Sean Byrne is really interested in the nature of absolution, and caps off The Loved Ones with a genuinely poignant finale.

38 – Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingndom certainly doesn’t have much in the way of an original plot going for it – it’s a typical crime saga, and its examination of families (both constructed and biological) is as old as the first Godfather film, if not older. But it does boast one helluva performance by GOAT Ben Mendelsohn, who does extraordinary things with an ordinary script.

37 – Little Fish

As powerful a story of drug addiction as an Australian director has ever told, Rowan Woods’ Little Fish earns every single moment of its devastating ending. Whenever it seems as though the plot is about to topple into melodrama, Woods surprises his audience, and he never gives into the temptation to shoot for the saccharine.

Who knew a film about a giant, marauding pig could be so damn beautiful? Director Russel Mulcahy knows his way around a camera, and transforms his sometimes rather inane material into a smorgasbord of colour and light. That opening scene is a keeper, for sure.

Ray Lawrence is usually celebrated first and foremost as the director of Lantana – but that film has already begun to date. It’s just too sappy; too full of brooding men brooding about the weight of being, y’know, men. Much better is his adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story ‘So Much Water So Close To Home’, Jindabyne, which, although unfairly maligned upon its release, is only growing more powerful.

Australian directors have a history of nailing creature features, so it was a cause for genuine excitement when the immensely talented Greg McLean took to the waters to make his own crocodile jaunt, an insane serve of action and suspense called Rogue. Anchored by some fantastic performances, the real star of the show is (of course) the film’s massive, toothy antagonist.

26 – Dead End Drive-In

A truly bonkers sci-fi film about the persistent fear of the youth, Dead End Drive-In is the punk ethos translated for the screen. Vitriolic filth, and more fun than it has any right to be. Walkabout

36 – Dead Calm

A spiritual sister film to Roman Polanski’s Knife In The Water, Dead Calm is all carefully sustained tension and creeping, unbearable dread. Genuinely disturbing stuff.

35 – Look Both Ways

When Australia lost Sarah Watt to bone cancer in 2011, we lost one of our most innovative cinematic voices; a true artist, capable of both comedy and pathos. Both of her feature films are worth checking out, but it’s her debut, Look Both Ways, that remains a true Aussie classic.

34 – The Proposition

On the press tour for this singularly brutal film, screenwriter Nick Cave assured prospective audiences that The Proposition was anything but surprising. “What you think is going to happen, happens,” the legend deadpanned. He’s right on the money too – The

Crackerjack "Crackerjack, you hat wearing fool. This one’s dedicated to all the bowlo nans. Bill Hunter being carried off the greens still smoking a ciggie is the epitome of the Aussie battler."

16 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

Alex Wall from Bleeding Knees Club Wake In Fright

Tom Matheson from Siamese Mad Max

"My favourite Australian film is Wake In Fright. I love that this guy gets stuck in a small outback town and is forced to drink beers with all these full-on blokes until he would rather kill himself than drink any more. It’s also incredible that the film got 'lost' after it first came out, and they didn’t re-release it until decades later in 2009. It’s pretty legendary, and still relevant today."

"The 1979 Mad Max x was the first dystopian film I ever saw. I loved watching a blend of [sci-fi] and a classic Australiana setting, all shot on an impressively low budget. Some people find the story a little slow, but I think it’s perfect that way – it puts all the pieces together and then at the very end it’s just pure chaos. It just feels more real, and therefore more terrifyingly compelling." thebrag.com


FEATURE

16 – Somersault

Snowtown

Somersault is the fi lm that put Cate Shortland on the map, and it remains her most impressive work. A dream-like story of expectation and angst, it is a rare example of a fi lm that manages to translate the inner life of adolescents into thrilling cinema.

15 – River Queen

It’s a genuine shame that director Vincent Ward’s best-known project is the one that he never actually made (a version of Alien 3 set on an ancient planet overrun by monks). After all, he’s one of New Zealand’s most important cinematic voices – even his flops are fascinating, and his masterpieces, 2005’s River Queen in particular, remain essential.

14 – Meet The Feebles

You have never seen a film like Meet The Feebles, a Muppets-on-crack style dark comedy replete with Vietnam flashbacks, drug-addicted rats and the world’s most grotesque burlesque dancer (a pink, slobbering hippo). Just brilliant.

13 – The Piano

The Piano has become an iconic film – one of those works of art critics love to obsess over – but don’t let its reputation fool you; it’s not half as prosaic and genteel as all those academic notices might have you believe.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story Of 25 –Ozploitation!

A great Australian film about great Australian films, Not Quite Hollywood features such luminaries as Everett De Roche, Quentin Tarantino and Bruce Beresford, all of whom eagerly share their love of our country’s proud tradition of genre filmmaking. Worth it for the wit and wisdom of De Roche alone.

24 – The Nun And The Bandit

Paul Cox is the antipodean heir apparent to Robert Bresson, and The Nun And The Bandit is his Pickpocket. There’s barely any plot to speak of, but the film’s true power comes from its exceptional performances, and the stripped-back nature of its camerawork.

23 – My Brilliant Career

Gillian Armstrong: there is a name that doesn’t get uttered enough these days. Although every single one of her funny, relentlessly creative films is worth a watch, My Brilliant Career is easily her strongest work – an Australian classic that has been canonised for a damn good reason.

22

– Ten Canoes

A moving story of this country’s true owners, Ten Canoes mixes comedy, drama and documentary. Director Rolf de Heer is smart enough to take the creative backseat, and allows his leads to do all the heavy lifting for him.

21 – Snowtown

As much a story about the corrosive nature of adoration as it is about murder, Snowtown is one of the all time great Australian cinematic debuts – the film that announced to the world that Justin Kurzel was a talent to watch. But let’s just all try and pretend he didn’t end up making Assassin’s Creed one film later, shall we?

20 – Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead

A truly great Australian horror film, Ghosts… is a story of prison riots, violence, the toxic nature of masculinity, and the unease we still have as the presiding thieves of this land. It’s genuinely disturbing, and not only because it features Nick Cave as an insane, truly evil prisoner.

12 – Inn Of The Damned

Perhaps the most deviant film on this list, Inn Of The Damned is a tough watch; a relentlessly cruel work of outsider art that is made only more enjoyable by its occasional creakiness.

11 – An Angel At My Table

Involving, moving and worth every second of its bulky running time, Jane Campion’s An Angel At My Table is biographical cinema at its most impressionistic, and perverse.

10 – Wolf Creek

Critics as snot-nosed as Australia’s own David Stratton tried to dismiss the power of Wolf Creek when it was first released, but their heckling has only grown more and more inane as the years have gone by. Wolf Creek is not “torture porn” or a glorified snuff film, or any of the brain-dead insults that have been thrown its way – it is a masterpiece, a handful of barbed wire and bleached outback sand that will be horrifying tourists for years to come.

9 – The Babadook

A contemporary classic, The Babadook is a film that takes David Cronenberg’s comments about monsters being “walking metaphors” to heart, using the titular vengeful spirit (and now LGBTQI icon) as a stand-in for familial trauma and the legacy of heartbreak. Oh, and it’s exceptionally shot and directed to boot.

8 – Patrick

Inspired by the denouement of a carnival sideshow that writer Everett De Roche once saw, Patrick is a lurid piece of pulp, and the high watermark for Australian genre filmmaking. Seriously, is there anyone who hasn’t jumped out of their skin at that final shot? (It even inspired a similar scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1).

The Babadook

19 – Dogs In Space

A bizarre music drama stuffed with familiar faces (Michael Hutchence is one of the leads!), Dogs In Space is more than just a curio – it’s surprisingly affecting study of failure, desire and despair.

18 – Blokes You Can Trust

Cosmic Psychos are one of the great Aussie bands, and so it stands to reason that Blokes You Can Trust, the film that follows their rise, fall and subsequent rise is one of the great Aussie documentaries. The short animated interludes are a treat.

17 – Wolf Creek 2

Critics never got Wolf Creek 2, much in the same way that they don’t really get any of director Mclean’s films – they called it depraved and disgusting, when they should have recognised that it remains one of our cinema’s most acerbic commentaries on Australia’s immigration policies.

Blake Scott from The Peep Tempel Gettin’ Square

Tigertown Two Hands

Phil Slabber from Crooked Colours Candy

"It’s a close one. Mad Max, The Castle, Wake In Fright: all absolute gems! Though the cigar goes to Gettin’ Square. The courtroom scene is an absolute stunner. Should have won an Oscar for wardrobe."

"Our favourite Australian film is Two Hands starring Heath Ledger before he was 'Heath Ledger' and Rose Byrne before she was 'Rose Byrne'. The film is a perfect blend: it’s a thrilling gangster film, a surprising crime tale, a tragic love story, and a hilarious black comedy. It has the storyline of a quality Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s presented in the most Australian way possible."

"Candyy is a confronting story about a bohemian lifestyle led by two lovers who are just as much addicted to each other as they are to drugs. All three lead actors, Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush and Heath Ledger are incredible in this film, and they work together perfectly. Ledger is one of the best Australian actors of all time – he’s from our home town of Perth!".

thebrag.com

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 17


FEATURE

Sleeping Beauty

Wake In Fright

7 – Bad Boy Bubby

Rolf De Heer’s masterpiece Bad Boy Bubby is a very angry film made by a very smart man. It’s so hysterical – so without sense, and so eager to inflict hurt – that it almost gives off a kind of heat, and it doesn’t so much end as it does collapse in on itself. Maybe that’s why critics have come up empty-handed when trying to describe its great power – clichés aside, it really is one of those films that has to be seen to be believed. After all, it's not easy to explain that it’s a film about cling-film wrapped cats, individual freedoms in a late capitalist state and sexual abuse. Oh, and that it’s funny.

6

– Sleeping Beauty

There are some of the opinion that Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty would be better suited on a worst Australian films of all-time list, and when the genuinely disturbing film dropped back in 2011, critics didn’t really know what to make of it. But time has only strengthened the power of Leigh’s debut, an extraordinary film about sex and power that opens with a distinctly uncomfortable first scene and only tightens the screws from there.

5 – Praise

A truly undervalued classic, Praise is a romantic film about fucking, eczema and Scrabble. Starring Peter Fenton of the Australian band Crow, and the always brilliant Sacha Horler, the savage dark comedy set the scene for classics like Candy and even Somersault, and remains sadly unappreciated in its time. If you haven’t caught the flick yet, don’t let anything stop you – hunt it down.

4 – Head On

Christos Tsiolkas is one of our strongest, boldest voices, but translating his work to the screen isn’t always easy. For every The Slap there is a Dead Europe, and sometimes Tsiolkas’ arch, gloriously unsubtle satire can come over as heavy-handed when adapted into the visual. After all, it takes nothing less than a great artist to translate the work of a great artist into a new medium.

2 – Wake In Fright

Perhaps it’s unsurprising that one of the greatest Australian films of all time wasn’t even helmed by a native. After all, Aussie filmmakers can get too reverential about our collective culture; too wrapped up in all our still nascent white history to see how bloody mad we can come across to others. So no, we shouldn’t be too shocked that it took Ted Kotcheff, a Canadian, to make Wake In Fright, a startling, still unsettling look at Australia’s drinking culture that scratches away the thin veneer of respectability and reveals the sexism, hatred and racism just bubbling underneath the surface.

1 – Heavenly Creatures

Before he conquered the world with The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson quietly made one of the very greatest films of all time – the surrealist fantasy drama Heavenly Creatures. Based on the infamous Parker-Hulme murder case of 1954, the movie blends adolescent dreams, repressed sexuality and hideous violence, culminating in one of the most vivid and heartwrenching finales of recent memory. And that’s not even to mention the stand-out performances from the two young leads, the then unheard of Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey, who ground every one of Jackson’s stranger proclivities in the wide-eyed and the real. After all, at its heart, Heavenly Creatures is a love story – albeit the strangest, most expressionistic love story any director has helmed since Jacques Demy gave the world Donkey Skin way back in 1970. It’s a lurid shot of pure pulp, and it also so happens to be the greatest film Australia and New Zealand has ever produced. A masterpiece. Heavenly Creatures

Enter Ana Kokkinos, one of Australia’s unsung cinematic heroes, and her masterpiece, Head On. An adaptation of Tsiolkas’ Loaded, the film takes the tradition of English kitchen sink realists like Alan Clarke and Ken Loach and imbues it with a distinctly ‘Strayan self-destructive streak. Filmmakers have tried many times in the years since Head On’s release to make a film as explicit and as profound, but no-one has really come close yet.

3 – Mad Max 2

To be honest, this top ten could be at least half-filled with films directed by George Miller, the fractured, ferocious genius behind the Mad Max franchise. But in the interests of fairness we’ve narrowed his filmography down to one movie – and what a movie. Mad Max 2 is the quintessential Aussie action flick, a gauche masterpiece that forever altered our film industry’s opinions of what was possible. Better still, the film hasn’t aged one iota. Special effects might have come on leaps and bounds since 1981, but what makes a story great hasn’t, and from its sun-blasted beginning to its bloodbath of an end, Mad Max 2 is still as furious as it ever was.

Charles Rushforth from Flowertruck Bliss

Mezko Wake In Fright

Ali Barter Two Hands

"It’s fair to say Bliss changed my life. Based on Peter Carey’s debut novel, it follows Harry Joy, a successful advertising executive who, after a near fatal heart attack on his 50th birthday, is revived into a bizarro version of his once picturesque family life.

"Wake In Fright has got to be one of the most brutal, unsettling films ever made. It goes beyond horror and scares parts of you that you didn’t know existed. Unlike so many Australian films that glorify the 'outback', Wake In Frightt digs into its dark side and creates a menacing world that’s based on a very real one. Something about that just makes it even more disturbing.

"Two Hands is an Australian classic. It’s a great black comedy. Bryan Brown, Heath Ledger, Susie Porter and Rose Byrne are all at their best. I wanted to be Rose Byrne’s character so bad when this movie came out.

"It was after high school during my first year in Sydney that I stumbled upon Bliss. My family were going crazy back home, my girlfriend had dumped me, and I was studying advertising too. Needless to say I swore to never sell anything again, and here I am. Watch out for Barry Otto’s 15-minute monologue in the director’s cut version."

18 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

"I mean, the place and the characters feel really familiar but then they get distorted just enough that they scare you from the inside. Maybe it’s not such a great film for tourism... No wonder it went missing for so long."

"The soundtrack is incredible too. Kings Cross, Bondi Beach and suburban Sydney are all so sleazy and vibrant and depressing. And that Powderfinger song at the end kills me."

thebrag.com


arts reviews “It’s best knowing as little as possible about the film going in.”

■ Film

Blade Runner 2049 is a bona fide masterpiece By Joseph Earp

I

t’s easy to forget, now that it’s the film that launched a thousand thinkpieces, how difficult Blade Runner once was. Alternating between icy cruelty and oversaturated ’80s sentiment, Ridley Scott’s glistening hunk of neon used the film noir genre against itself, undermining the robotic intensity of its heroes, and muddying some already troubled ethical waters. Using Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? as little more than a springboard, it touched on everything from police brutality, to the mistreatment of “non-human entities”, to the things we’re really referring to when we talk about the soul. Little wonder then that it tanked upon first release, both critically and commercially. It was too challenging; too quick to mix spectacle with the intellectual, and to upset the status quo of both action movies and the everyday forces of authoritarianism we have largely and collectively chosen to accept. Make no mistake: Blade Runner 2049, director Denis Villeneuve’s continuation of replicant hunter Rick Deckard’s story (sort of), is just as difficult. It might have already received a rapturous critical reception, and all signs are pointing to it at least recouping its budget – a win in a year where a number of once safe Hollywood bets have crashed and burned. But that doesn’t make it anything less of a problematic proposition than its precursor. It’s best knowing as little as possible about the film going in, so here are the very bare bones: following an unspecified yet devastating widespread

“Blade Runner 2049 is more interested in character notes than sprawling conspiracies, and its best moments are quiet, distinctly human setpieces.” environmental collapse, and a brief prohibition on the manufacturing of replicants, businessman Niander Wallace (a scenery-chewing and thankfully rarely seen Jared Leto) has bought out the Tyrell corporation from the first film and is using it to pump out thousands of “bioengineered humans” to exploit as slave labour. Meanwhile, detective K (Ryan Gosling), a kind of nouveau-Deckard, stumbles across a long buried secret while “retiring” the bulky, sad-eyed Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), putting himself and the now reclusive Deckard in danger. Which, sure, doesn’t exactly sound challenging – but neither did the plot of the first film, a deceptively simple story that eschewed the twistiness characteristic of genre heroes like Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler in favour of a gradually enveloping trip down the ethical rabbit

hole. Similarly, although defined by a number of surgically precise plot twists, Blade Runner 2049 is more interested in character notes than sprawling conspiracies, and its best moments are quiet, distinctly human setpieces: a gorgeous, intimate moment of holographic romance; a replicant shedding a single tear as she dispatches an enemy; a dog, licking whiskey up off the floor. It is, in that way, a film ready to make the spiritual and the sentimental visible. Just as Scott’s original allowed flashes of authenticity and warmth to come slicing through the layers of irony, and smoke-fogged, gaudy archness, so too does Villeneuve prove unafraid to really, deeply care, both about his characters, and his audience. 2049’s stakes are high because its hero, at first the picture of icy resolve, mutates into something else entirely, and

even its standout antagonist, the pony-tailed and psychopathic Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) is granted moments of genuine pathos. This, indeed, is the source of the film’s difficulty: at times it flirts so aggressively with schmaltz that the first response of the stonyhearted might be to sniff. 2049’s final, devastating shot will either work for you or it won’t, and its distinctly unconventional tragic central romance prompted the occasional loud snigger from the screening that this critic attended. But, as with the first film, the source of 2049’s difficulty is also the source of its genius. Villeneuve’s guarded optimism – the distinct characteristic of every film he has made so far, from Arrival to Maelstrom – feels so conflicted, and cathartic, and genuinely beautiful when mixed into the brutal

world of Blade Runner as to become genuinely radical. I’m not going to tell you that 2049 is the film that the world needs right now – that cliché is already growing tired – but I am going to say that it is refreshing to see a filmmaker use a big budget Hollywood vehicle to exhibit nothing less than radical kindness; to stake everything, absolutely everything, on sentiment. Not, mind you that 2049 is some kind of prosaic serve of prettiness, or that it’s lacking in the sound and fury that has been Villeneuve’s other defining characteristic for years now – 2049 has all the nerve-shredding, gently hysterical horror of Sicario, or the underrated Enemy. Its climactic third act fight is genuinely disturbing, and a sudden moment of realisation for K is filmed with all the unflinching clarity you’d more commonly find in a horror movie.

Appropriately then, 2049 is, at its heart, a film about the panic that washes over you when you discover that actually, all things considered, you are not particularly special; that for humans just as for replicants, all the boxes have already been ticked before one has even been born. But rather than despairing over our collective mundanity, and the things that make us the same, 2049 fervently embraces them. None of us might have the power to change the world, or even, when it matters, to properly change ourselves, but 2049 reserves all judgements. It is a film of considerable grace; a film unashamed to show off the bloodied contours of its heart. It also so happens to be a masterpiece. Blade Runner 2049 is in Australian cinemas now

“As with the first film, the source of 2049’s difficulty is also the source of its genius.” thebrag.com

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 19


book club ■ Book

Darlinghurst Funeral Rites is a moving elegy for youth By Joseph Earp before we feel comfortable enough to call our greatest artists masters, and many contemporary lyricists are forced to work in other disciplines to make ends meet – and the critics paying attention. Look at Luke Davies, the author of Candy and a series of excellent, underrated chapbooks; look at Dorothy Porter, still not given her dues; look, even, at Banjo Paterson, a controversial figure in his time who only reached martyrdom after his death. It would be a crime if Mark Mordue’s new chapbook, Darlinghurst Funeral Rites was treated the same way – not only because it is one of the most moving and immediate works of the year, but because it is one of those collections that speaks directly to the moment; to the now. Its grasp on the contemporary is white knuckle, and such is the book’s warmth and immediacy that particular poems feel custom-fit for this version of Sydney – a Sydney in flux, wracked by the lockout laws and divided neatly down the middle between the haves and the have nots; the wealthy and the poor.

What: Darlinghurst Funeral Rites is out now through Transit Lounge

W

e have a long and troubled history of ignoring our poets in Australia. It seems to takes centuries

It’s ironic then that much of the book is dedicated to the spectre of the past. Part memoir, part work of history, part tone poem, Darlinghurst is a deliberately vague, ambiguous work – one that finds much of worth in minutiae. So don’t go into Darlinghurst expecting a Proustian, Knausgårdesque road map into nostalgia; the

“There are times when Darlinghurst feels more like a painting than a literary work – like a swirl of colours, and snatches of conversations, and loves lost, and hearts broken.” poems contained within are glimpses rather than topographical glares, and Mordue’s focus is on the essential, everyday moments that make up our everyday lives rather than the bigger, dramatic turning points that he leaves for the writers of fiction. There are times, indeed, when Darlinghurst feels more like a painting than a literary work – like a swirl of colours, and snatches of conversations, and loves lost, and hearts broken. And that is not even to mention Mordue’s impressive control of tone: although draped in a thin veil of melancholia and mourning – that title becomes increasingly literal as the poems proceed – there are moments of manic joy buried throughout, and great, almost startling flashes of beauty. If Darlinghurst could be crudely summarised, it would be as such: things change. But of course, like all truly great works, the book is never that

simple; it is, somehow, paradoxically, a joyful elegy; a red wine-stained love letter; and a note on both trauma, and the trembling things that overtake us when we first fall for our beloved. There are few books like it that have been published this year. Seek it out immediately.

“If Darlinghurst could be crudely summarised, it would be as such: things change.”

■ Book

Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth And Rock And Roll In New York City 2001 – 2011 is a disappointing curio By Ronald Bates

E

lizabeth Goodman has something to prove. The longserving music journalist’s first book, Cat Power, was a disaster – a poorly researched, factually inaccurate mess that read more like a glorified Wikipedia page than a proper biography. To say that it incited ire from both Cat Power and her small army of fans might even be an understatement – after its disastrous first press run, it sank without a trace, and copies could be described as “hard to find” if anyone was actually looking for them. Taken by that measure, at first glance, Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth And Rock And Roll In New York City 2001 – 2011 seems to be a marked change in pace for Goodman. For a start, it’s been published under an ever so slightly altered name – she’s Lizzy, not Elizabeth now – and rather than taking the form of a strict biography, it’s an “oral history”, one that pertains to capture the complexities of a scene, a city, and a sound.

What: Meet Me In The Bathroom is out now through Allen And Unwin

But by about the hundred page mark, it becomes clear that Goodman’s second book is riddled with the problems that sank her first. Meet Me In The Bathroom, like Cat Power before it, is almost unbearably superficial.

“As both a cultural document, and an opportunity for indie rock fans to luxuriate in tales told by their idols, Meet Me is an occasionally distracting, mostly pointless disappointment.” Interview subjects range from Ryan Adams to Karen O and almost everyone inbetween, so it’s certainly true Goodman cannot be faulted for her journalistic scope – but the issue is more what she gets from her talking heads than who they are. Indeed, the stories contained within Meet Me’s pages are achingly familiar, and its arc – from bust to boom to bust again – will be well-known not only by fans of the early New York indie scene, but fans of music more generally: there’s nothing in here you haven’t pored over before in a thousand far superior books, from Renegade: The Life And Times Of Mark E. Smith to Our Band Could Be Your Life. And although its publicity cycle drummed up Meet Me to be one long expose (extracts from the book

kicked off a minor Twitter spat between perennial grumpy toddler Ryan Adams and Har Mar Superstar) it is sorely lacking in hot goss. At its best, it alternates between limp burn book and middling historical account, satisfying neither urges for the serious nor the trashy. In her introduction, Goodman calls Meet Me both an “attempt to capture” the spirit of bands like The Strokes, her so-called “coconspirators” and to communicate the feeling of those giddy gig-going nights “that started as Tuesdays and ended up as Jim Jarmusch movies.” She does neither. As both a cultural document, and an opportunity for indie rock fans to luxuriate in tales told by their idols, Meet Me is an occasionally distracting, mostly pointless disappointment.

“At first glance, Meet Me In The Bathroom seems to be a marked change in pace for Goodman.” 20 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

thebrag.com


BECK Beck’s Colours is out now through EMI/Universal


f

e

u r t e a

Welcome, innocent souls, to the BOO-RAG’s Halloween section, a spooky seven page delve into all things horrifying and haunted, featuring The Exorcist, Saw, King, Lovecraft and more.

thebrag.com

BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 25


“That’s what separates the 1982 film from the 2015 adaptation and its peers – it eschews the cynicism of the slasher and seeks your emotional investment.”

Poltergeist:

How The Horror Classic Made The American Dream A Nightmare Director Tobe Hooper passed away this August. In tribute, David Molloy takes a look at one of his finest films, Poltergeist “Now reach back into our past when you used to have an open mind, remember that? Just try to use that for the next couple of minutes.” – Diane Freeling, Poltergeist

I

n 2015, Metro Goldwyn Mayer dutifully trotted out Poltergeist, a remake of the 1982 box-office smash, and every film critic worth their salt rushed to draw the same analogy – for a movie focused solely on the occupants of a haunted house, despite being competent and creepy, the film was remarkably lacking in spirit. Unsurprisingly, the film is barely remembered two years on; it was little more than a paycheck for Sam Rockwell and the folks over at Ghost House Pictures. If any notion of a sequel was forthcoming, it’s since been buried under the landslide of Conjurings, Saws, Insidious spinoffs, and Witches Blair. Even Leatherface is coming back this year for another round of Halloween hell. The vast majority of these marquee productions from Blumhouse or Lionsgate merely retread the well-worn steps of field-tested intellectual property. Production studios cottoned on to the high grossing capabilities of horror decades ago, and have been grinding out increasingly vapid franchise entries and reworks ever since.

But all of them, even James Wan’s best efforts, lack something essential that defi ned the first Poltergeist. And if you’re the poor unfortunate soul that hasn’t yet seen the fi lm, your view of horror cinema – perhaps even of the blockbuster industry as a whole – may be completely upended by its introduction into your life. Poltergeist opens with the United States anthem, the nightly sign-off for ’80s television programming, before introducing us to the Freelings, the perfect nuclear family in the perfect home in the perfect suburb of Orange County, California. They are the American dream writ into fl esh – successful, happy and profoundly “normal” by the standards of the day. When we meet them, the family are asleep, and we’re given a tour of the house by E Buzz, their golden retriever, who steals food from every bedroom. It’s a beautiful opening that quickly establishes the family dynamic and the geography of the household, while putting humour and heart front and centre. The fi lm is characteristic in this way of writer/producer Steven Spielberg – it’s an unapologetic rollercoaster ride fi lled with thrills, chills, and adventure. His characters are worthy of the audience’s love and concern: sure, the parents might light a joint together to relax, but they’re kind and attentive, and the kids somehow manage the near impossible task of not grating on the audience. That’s what separates the 1982 fi lm from the 2015 adaptation and its peers – it eschews the cynicism of the slasher and seeks your emotional investment. The last thing you would want is for the Freelings to suffer. What follows is not a perfunctory series of jump scares, but a frightening and exciting journey into the inexplicable. After youngest daughter Carol Anne begins talking to “the TV people” through the television set, things in the Freeling home start moving by themselves – amusingly at first, until soon

“The Freelings were not loose teens or vicious animals, nor were they lambs to the slaughter; they were real people in unreal circumstances.” the entire house is engulfed in a spectral storm and Carol Anne is whisked away into another realm. Restrained as it is, a PG-13 “horror” movie was a dangerous play for Spielberg, and besides, his contract for ET: The Extra Terrestrial, shot simultaneously, prevented him from directing it. So the wild card was played and the radical Tobe Hooper was brought in, eight years on from shocking America with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and a confusing creative relationship was born. Yet ultimately, whomever was responsible for Poltergeist moment to moment isn’t important (there have been arguments whether Spielberg, a frequent presence on set, secretly helmed the film himself). Poltergeist is the kind of film every aspiring young horror filmmaker should be shown. Actually, scratch that: it’s the kind of film every filmmaker should watch, whether they’re interested in horror or not. It’s proof that blockbuster cinema can be made with integrity and authenticity. While it employed a significant budget, Poltergeist relied on the mundanity of the family home to terrify its audience. It blended Industrial Light And Magic’s computer technology with grotesque and compelling practical effects that still hit home (the notorious facepeeling moment must have been Hooper’s input). But most importantly, it employed the Freelings, who were just like everyone watching – regular ol’ Americans who might slug from a hip flask when they need to feel brave, or let slip their carnal knowledge in front of their parents, or have their first child at 16, or get caught attempting to flush a dead pet down the toilet. They were not loose teens or vicious animals, nor were they lambs to the slaughter; they were real people in unreal circumstances. Great genre filmmakers don’t simply reference the tropes of genre – they speak to the times, pairing allegory with entertainment. We haven’t irrevocably lost this form of storytelling, but the fashion has waned in the face of cynicism, replication and over-seriousness. Filmmakers of Spielberg and Hooper’s calibre are few and far between, and while we wade through endless re-imaginings of the once successful, we fail to find their like. I say this not with bitterness or resignation, but with the genuine hope that the filmmakers of tomorrow heed Poltergeist’s lessons. To be truly memorable, the haunted house cannot simply be a succession of pranks – it needs a beating heart.

26 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17

thebrag.com


“In Lovecraft’s fiction we are given just a glimpse of the horrific indifference of the universe and the idiot spawn that slough its abyss.” Adam Norris, a lifetime Lovecraft fan, explores the complicated cinematic legacy of a true horror pioneer

O

Six Great Horror Films Inspired By H.P. Lovecraft

therworldly horror films are great – mostly because they’re, well, y’know, otherworldly, and as such aren’t concerned with the things we have to struggle against in our everyday lives. Who wants to watch a film about death and taxes? It’s much more fun to sit down and slap on a film about horrors far beyond the stars; about creatures with tentacles, and horrifying, dripping faces. And for that brand of ghastliness, we really have one man to thank. Even those unfamiliar with his name have likely watched a film inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, and directors like Ridley Scott, John Carpenter, Paul W.S. Anderson, Sam Raimi, David Cronenberg and J.J. Abrams have all drawn inspiration from Lovecraft’s canon. Not that the man was a saint – far from it, in fact. Lovecraft was notoriously racist, and remains a problematic figure in the horror community. But if he wasn’t the most virtuous guy when it comes to social and gender equality, why is he still revered? It’s not like the strength of his writing is all that redeeming, in my opinion – the man could tell a story, but those people who draw a bead on his hyperbolic prose and exaggerated descriptions of things which can’t be described (like his many creatures that defy the laws of physics)... Well, let’s just say they have a point. Perhaps that’s where cinema steps in. In Lovecraft’s fiction we are given just a glimpse of the horrific indifference of the universe and the idiot spawn that slough its abyss. On screen, the horror becomes churning and visceral yet, in context of the story, still remains just a taste of the true nightmares suggested by our imagination. Here are just a few examples of classic Lovecraftian horrors that come to mind.

Event Horizon After a spaceship capable of jumping between dimensions reappears following a sevenyear silence, a crew led by Laurence Fishburne, Joely Richardson, and that irascible scamp Sam Neil explore the derelict craft to determine what exactly it’s been up to all this time. Turns out, it’s been regurgitated from some pocket

1.

beyond the known universe that sent the entire ship’s population into a fucked-up frenzy of mutilation, sex, and death. Now, the ship is alive and insane. Event Horizon is full of violence, psychological horror, some memorable quotes… and these are just the monsters we can see! Just imagine the hell dimension that we’re actually spared...

The Fly The most disturbing aspects of a lot of good horror films are suggested, rather than shown. What is lurking inside the darkened room we never enter? What becomes of your soul when your humanity slowly and grotesquely unravels? At least we have an answer in regards to the latter question: it’s, “You become a Brundlefly”. In David Cronenberg’s oddly moving 1986 remake of The Fly, Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis inadvertently court alien horror right here on earth when an experiment in human teleportation begins turning Mr Menulog himself into an unforgettable blend of man and insect. Lovecraft was convinced of the potential horrors of scientific advancement, and The Fly is a touching parable of knowledge turned sour.

2.

True Detective Some readers might think this is a bit of a cheat, given that the (largely) unexplored McGuffin of the series – the collection of short stories The King In Yellow – wasn’t penned by Lovecraft at all, but one of his own influences, Robert W. Chambers. It’s also, if we’re being picky, hardly cinema. But there is simply so much of Lovecraft on display here that it becomes a nice barometer of how his mythos has seeped across the entertainment sphere. From the hallucinatory visions of another world, to the oppressive atmosphere of nihilism, degeneration, mysticism and hints of hidden corruptive forces, the series is Lovecraft through and through.

3.

1982 masterpiece. Though it took a while to find the recognition it enjoys today, The Thing is horror/ sci-fi cinema at its finest. After a parasitic alien lifeform infiltrates an Antarctic research base, it begins colourfully assimilating the scientists until no one is certain who is human and who is the imitation. Evil Dead Though chainsaw-handed anti-heroes and boomsticks might not immediately call Lovecraft to mind, lest we forget that the artefact that kickstarts the whole demondismemberment shebang in Evil Dead is a certain book called the Necromonicon (or Naturom Demonto), penned by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred (told you Lovecraft was racist). In this instance the tome – inked in blood and bound in human flesh

5.

– summons Sumerian demons to possess the living and ruin Bruce Campbell’s weekend. Re-Animator Stuart Gordon is clearly a dyed-in-the-wool Lovecraft fan. In addition to this gore-spattered classic, he also helmed the sequel, Bride Of Re-Animator, and the equally bloody From Beyond. It’s also noteworthy by dint of being the only adaptation on this list based on a Lovecraft story, Herbert West – Reanimator. An X-rated film full of deliciously gruesome effects and macabre humour, it has achieved an enduring cult following. There are some outright gut-churning moments – decapitated undead cunnilingus, anyone? – but Re-Animator remains a delight of Lovecraftian cinema and the perfect accompaniment to any horror movie marathon.

6.

The Thing Again, The Thing is an example of Lovecraftian cinema that doesn’t actually belong to Lovecraft himself – that honour instead goes to John W. Campbell, Jr. His novella Who Goes There? served as the genesis for one of my all-time favourite films, John Carpenter’s

4.

“What is lurking inside the darkened room we never enter? What becomes of your soul when your humanity slowly and grotesquely unravels?” thebrag.com

BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 27


Tenebrae

Sorority Party Massacre

Raw

The Problem Of

In Horror Cinema From Norman Bates to Hellbent’s masked and shirtless killer, Michael Louis Kennedy looks at the troubled history of queer characters in genre film

W

hatever else you might want to say about the 2004 film Hellbent, it certainly opens with a bang: in its very first scene, a masked (and shirtless) killer decapitates a gay couple after sneaking up on them mid-fellatio. The film is the first from director Paul Etheredge-Ouzts, and is often credited as being the original gay slasher in a genre that otherwise neglects queer characters. However, in actuality, there are two things to say about Hellbent: firstly, it’s terrible, and secondly, it’s hardly the first horror movie to feature queer stories. The truth is, queer themes have long been present in horror. As early as Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein there has been a palpable sexual tension between monsters and their victims, and these days you can’t throw a coin in a Blockbuster without it bouncing off at least seven lesbian vampire flicks.

“These days you can’t throw a coin in a Blockbuster without it bouncing off at least seven lesbian vampire flicks.” And yet although seeing yourself reflected onscreen can be a powerful reminder of your own legitimacy, that only works if such a reflection does justice to your humanity. Whilst queerness has played a huge role in the horror tradition, it’s mostly been at the expense of queer people. More frequently than not, queer characters are set up as objects to be observed. Whether it’s the high-camp Italian horror made famous by Dario Argento, or the aforementioned smorgasbord of lesbian vampires, the genre is rife with queer women. Films like José Ramón Larraz’s Vampyres or Ray Austin’s Virgin Witch are so heavily laden with supernatural lesbians that the horror seems almost a means to a softcore pornographic end. And similarly, if your entire knowledge of lesbians comes from films like Argento’s Tenebrae, you could be forgiven for thinking that all they do is have showers and get murdered. In that vein, a recent industry has emerged of profoundly terrible pulp horror films centring on young men, a plethora of which have been directed by David DeCoteau. A prime example is Voodoo Academy, a film in which (as the title concisely implies) a group of hot young studs find themselves at a haunted voodoo resort. Unlike in the lesbian vampire subgenre, the gaze here is definitely queer – but in the absence of any actual plot or even sex scenes, it’s difficult to tell for whom these films are made.

Closet Monster

“Although seeing yourself reflected onscreen can be a powerful reminder of your own legitimacy, that only works if such a reflection does justice to your humanity.” 28 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17

Of equal concern is how horrific and violent the challenges queers in horror tend to experience. Sure, you could argue that all characters in horror have a rough go, but one of the central pillars of the genre is that everyone gets their just desserts: the stoners die because they’re stoners, the promiscuous die because of their loose morals, and in some cases, the queers die because of their cardinal sin of being queer. Sometimes that sense of punishment can be shockingly overt, as in Sorority Party Massacre, a film in which each of the main characters has a single defining feature. For Jessie-Lynn, it’s that she’s a lesbian, and after kissing another sorority sister who turns out to be one of the killers, she gets brutally stabbed in the eye. In recent years, this merciless torture of queer characters is often presented as commentary on the discrimination queer people face. In Hostel: Part II the implied lesbian

protagonist endures gratuitous torture; in Martyrs, a queer woman is flayed by Christian extremists; and in the Westboro Baptist-inspired Red State, a pastor has a bound gay man shot in the head in front of his congregation as they pray. The monsters are clearly the people inflicting the brutality, but what good is representation if it’s only to see yourself murdered? Finally, and perhaps most insidiously, the horror canon has frequently treated queer people – particularly trans people – as deranged. Hitchcock’s Psycho is a classic, but from the moment Norman Bates was shown onscreen in his mother’s dress, an ugly and damaging trope was born. Silence Of The Lambs and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre both feature murderous men in dresses, while the Sleepaway Camp franchise goes a step further, by (spoilers) outing the villainous Angela as a secret transwoman, tearing away her clothes and showing her genitalia on screen. Similarly, queer villains are almost always predatory. In 2016’s Neon Demon, lesbian make-up artist Ruby is so incapable of handling rejection that she pushes her straight crush to her death before bathing in her blood. It’s easy to see then why people heaped praise on a terrible film like Hellbent. While it may seem like an arbitrary distinction, it’s less a film about men being murdered for being queer as much as it is a film about queers who also happen to be murdered. It’s a low bar, but it at least pulled queer stories to the very front. And yet happily, these days a trickle of films have appeared that feature queer themes and treat queer characters with empathy and nuance. While neither are strictly horror, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Stephen Dunn’s Closet Monster both balance elements of the genre with compelling characters who are not graphically butchered nor presented as something to be ogled. Similarly, this year, Julia Ducournau’s debut feature Raw was unsettling, stark and brilliantly queer. While the genre has historically been cruel to the LGBTQI community, the breadth and quality of our representation is improving, and, as long as we continue to demand it, the only way is up. thebrag.com


The Exorcist: Love And Mercy

As far as Joseph Earp is concerned, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is the greatest film of all time. Here, he unpacks why

T

he Exorcist came into my life like a thunderclap. It was somewhere around midnight, late October, 1996, and I had been off sick from school all day with the flu. I had spent the day in bed, fighting off waves of nausea and headaches, but come midnight, I was starting to feel better – finally, my body didn’t feel like it was on fire anymore, and, after spending so much of the day under sheets, I decided the last thing I wanted to do was sleep. I went upstairs. We had a tiny television up there – one of those portable, bulky plastic things, antennae sprouting of it like rabbit ears. I was a nerdy, anxious little six-year-old; prone to tears; quick to assume my parents had abandoned me if they were even five minutes late to pick me up from school; wracked by almost nightly bad dreams about falling onto the tracks and getting crushed by the London underground trains my father and I caught to my drama lessons every weekend. So being awake past midnight – breaking the rules my parents had about bedtime – was maybe the most rebellious thing I had ever done. I was transgressing, and I knew it; a weird mix of hot shame and pleasure shot through me, and set me alight. I turned on the television. I didn’t immediately know that I was watching a horror movie. The prologue of The Exorcist doesn’t really feel like one, after all – it’s strange, sure, and it’s eerie, but nothing outwardly horrific actually happens. A clock stops; Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) almost gets struck and killed crossing the street; and the statue of Pazuzu, silhouetted by the Iraqi sun, rears up like a wounded predator. It wasn’t until some time later that I realised what I was really watching – not until the candle in the hand of Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) coughed up a fireball; not until poor, tormented Regan (Linda Blair) told an astronaut that he was to die in space, and promptly pissed all over the floor. And by then, I couldn’t stop

watching. I wanted to stop – I was more afraid than I had ever been in my life; convinced that the evil I was watching onscreen was some kind of karmic punishment for breaking the iron cast rule of bedtime – but I couldn’t move. It was gone two am by the time the noble Father Karras (Jason Miller) had taken the devil inside him, sparing Regan, and hurled himself out the window, to his death. And then the film was finished. I was freed from the little television set. I turned it off, padded down the stairs, got into bed, and cried until the sun rose. I felt like part of me had been broken.

I have seen The Exorcist literally hundreds of times since then. I know it back to front. It is my shorthand answer when people ask me what my favourite film of all time is – but it is more than that too. It has shaped my life. It is the reason I am both a film critic, and an undergrad student of religious studies; the reason I have dedicated hours and hours to Christian theology, and moral philosophy, and horror films. It is the work of art that reflects my inner world better than any other.

“The Exorcist has shaped my life.”

I wouldn’t watch The Exorcist for another five years, but I thought about it almost every night. I found that mulling over certain scenes generated an almost immediate physical response in me; I’d call to mind the image of Regan’s stomach covered in scar tissue graffiti, or Burke Dennings’ (Jack MacGowran) voice emanating out of the young girls’ chapped, bloodied mouth, and my skin would go cold; my heart would start pounding in my chest. When I did return to the film, I did so with all the bravado of a fairgoer traipsing through a haunted house a second time around, becalmed by the fact

“I have alternatively read The Exorcist as a story about love; about God; about the foolhardiness of faith; about international politics; about puberty.”

thebrag.com

that they know exactly when all of the monsters will lurch out of the gloom. But that false sense of security was shattered the moment The Exorcist began. The prologue, which had previously been the most innocuous section in the film for me, was suddenly the most traumatic, confronting thing I had ever seen. It made my hands ball into fists; bitter spit collect in my mouth.

But it is also never the same thing twice for me. Just as the prologue alternates between feeling like the calm before the storm and the storm itself, so too is the film this constantly shifting, chameleon-like entity. Film critic and lover of genre film Mark Kermode once said The Exorcist “gives out what you bring to it”, and he’s right: I have alternatively read The Exorcist as a story about love; about God; about the foolhardiness of faith; about the importance of faith; about international politics; about puberty. Nothing is replicated each time I watch The Exorcist; nothing is repeated. Well, almost nothing. There is still something about the film that I can’t explain; something about it that feels as academic as a scraped knee, or a shattered tooth. And every time I watch it, some part of me is a six-year-old boy again, curled up in a tight ball in an attic, having their life slowly and methodically changed.

BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 29


Joseph Earp does a deep dive into the annals of horror history, and resurfaces with some forgotten gems

6 1

trope of heroes refusing to leave their obviously haunted homes even in the face of clear paranormal activity. In Housebound, our hero can’t leave – she’s under house arrest – allowing writer/ director Gerard Johnson to create a distinct sense of claustrophobia. Good stuff.

5

7. Road Games 1. Razorback

Though Razorback has long been compared to Jaws, in truth, Russell Mulcahy’s garish, noiry flick about a killer boar is much stranger than that Spielberg staple. Mulcahy is a true visual stylist – he is, after all, the man behind Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ video – and his oversaturated tones call to mind the work of Italian Giallo innovator Dario Argento.

A

ustralians and Kiwis aren’t good at making horror movies – we’re fucking great at it. That ain’t hyperbole, either: take a look at our track record. We have contributed a great deal more to the international horror scene than we are ever given credit for, and yet when it comes to discussing our output, it’s only ever the same names that get mentioned: Wolf Creek. The Babadook. What We Do In The Shadows. And, uh… Not much else. And yet the annals of Aussie and NZ horror cinema are dotted with undervalued gems, stunning films that deserve to be championed, and shouted about, and pored over, and loved. To that end, here’s a list of some of our finest B-great beauties, the messy masterpieces that, if you haven’t watched, you need to. Like, now.

2

2. The Long Weekend

You probably haven’t heard of Everett De Roche, but lemme tell you now: he is the artist you’ve never known your life was missing. This entire list could be comprised of films he had a hand in – in fact, he wrote Razorback, so you’ve already been reading about him without even realising it. He also penned The Long Weekend, a stark, strippeddown film that sees a young couple fighting against Mother Nature herself after they spend an ill-fated camping trip littering and generally causing trouble for ‘Strayan flora and fauna. Genuinely disturbing stuff.

3. Dead End Drive-In

Perhaps the strangest film on this list – and that’s certainly saying something – Dead End Drive-In crumples up sci-fi, thriller and horror tropes into one neon-lit ball. Concerning itself with a town that elects to lock all its youth in a drive-in cinema complex that rapidly begins to resemble a prison, the film is an artful piece of magic realism, obsessed with the disregard older generations have towards the concerns of the young.

4. The Plumber

Before Peter Weir started making mainstream – AKA boring – period pieces like Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World, he was one of Australia’s finest genre filmmakers, and it’s his 1979 TV movie The Plumber that represents his slickest entry into the horror canon. Distinctly Hitchockian, The Plumber tackles voyeurism head on, implicating its audience in a tale about a mysterious stranger tormenting a young couple in an apartment block. It’s polished, ugly fun. And, speaking of ugly…

5. The Ugly

Our first entry from New Zealand is a little known work from 1997, the debut film for writer/director Scott Reynolds. Though The Ugly’s plot is familiar – the film concerns a young psychologist’s attempts to get into the head of a deranged serial killer (Silence Of The Lambs, much?) – Reynolds reveals himself to be a master stylist, and the film is full of odd, off-kilter touches. Don’t be fooled by its tacky marketing campaign: The Ugly is a dark, tortured piece that ultimately more resembles a fable than anything in the crimehorror canon.

6. Housebound

The most recent horror flick on this list, Housebound received the stamp of approval from none other than Peter Jackson himself (but more on him later). A delicious, gooey horror comedy, Housebound gains a great number of laughs from playing with the conventions of the genre – most notably, the tired old

One last contribution from De Roche, Road Games is a play on the classic Rear Window set-up, but with a notable twist: the majority of the film takes place in a moving car, as a young woman (expertly played by Jamie Lee Curtis) teams up with a truck driver (Stacy Keach) to take down a serial killer barrelling down the highway in a van.

8. Meet The Feebles

When the inevitable day comes, and humanity finds itself being judged by a violent alien race/divine power, I argue that Peter Jackson’s Meet The Feebles should be offered up as our very finest work of art. If anything deserves to absolve the human race of its crimes, it’s this film, the most unbelievably ugly, demented, unhinged creation ever thrust messily into the world. Citizen Kane is nothing compared to Meet The Feebles; the ceiling of the Sistine chapel is just a sketch. There is no defending this film, a gutter-mouthed riff on child friendly Sesame Street fare that focuses on a gaggle of horrendously inappropriate puppets as they fuck, fight, vomit and sing, all while trying to stage a Muppets-esque weekly show. But in its iron-clad desire to be as unapologetically gross as possible, it reaches great heights of deranged beauty. It is a horror film, and a musical, and a comedy, and also none of those things – a belching bad time that shits on genre and tries its best to offend absolutely everyone in every conceivable way. Watch this film. Then, when it’s over, watch it again.

8

4 30 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17

thebrag.com


The Spierig Brothers:

“It’s pretty wild. I assure you there are a lot of crazy traps, and all the aspects we think the Saw fans are looking for.”

Let The Games Begin Natalie Rogers chats to the twin brother filmmaking team behind Jigsaw, the latest instalment of the Saw franchise

T

he brainchild of then Sydney-based filmmakers James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the first Saw film launched what has now become the Guinness Book Of World Records holder for ‘Most Successful Horror Franchise’ – and that’s not even to mention the thousand gory imitators that it spawned. Now, for the highly-anticipated eighth instalment of the gruelling horror series, directing duties have been returned to Aussie hands – Jigsaw, a continuation of the Saw story, has been helmed by Australian-raised identical twin brothers, Michael and Peter Spierig, who, after the release of their criticallyacclaimed sci-fi thiller Predestination (starring Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor and Sarah Snook) were left thirsty for a challenge. “When we first read the screenplay, written by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger, we were actually very surprised at how compelling it was,” Michael says. “There was a lot of interesting stuff already in the script: there were new things and different elements that we thought could be really exciting to be involved in. Then we pitched some ideas on tone and style and traps – all those kinds of things. It was very collaborative and very inclusive from the beginning, so we were pretty excited to jump into it.” Set for release seven years on from Saw 3D, Jigsaw sees the franchise’s trademark twisted scenarios, bone-chilling suspense and terrifying traps ratcheted up to an all-time high. As the story opens, a series of distinctly Jigsaw-esque murders are terrorising citizens and leaving the police baffled, as they embark on a hunt for a man they have long believed to be dead and buried. Has serial killer John Kramer been resurrected to once again embark on his mission to remind us to be grateful for the gift of life, or are one of his protégés playing a wicked game of their own? No matter the outcome, the twins insist that we are in for a fright fest. “It’s pretty wild,” says Michael. “I assure you there are a lot of crazy traps, and all the aspects we think the Saw fans are looking for. We’re definitely not shying away from the horror aspect as well. It’s definitely a wild ride and has the themes that the fans are familiar with – but hopefully we’re offering something new too.”

thebrag.com

“Saw has a long history and a lot of very dedicated fans, so of course it was always a little scary to tackle something so loved,” Peter says. “We certainly wanted to make something the fans would enjoy, but at the same time we also didn’t want to do the same old thing. We wanted to make sure that it was different and unique, and it’s a bit of a balancing act to do that.” “There are definitely moments of levity in this film,” Michael adds. “It’s perhaps not as bleak - it’s certainly not a comedy by any means, but there are some lighter moments here and there.” He laughs. “I do promise it will be intense though.”

“Saw has a long history and a lot of very dedicated fans, so of course it was always a little scary to tackle something so loved.” The German-born brothers grew up in Sydney and Brisbane, and discovered a love for filmmaking at a young age. Always drawn to the edgier side of movie making, their directorial debut at the age of 12 was shot on location in their backyard with a cast of teddy bears and a cache of fireworks for the big explosion scene. “There’s something fascinating about coming up with twisted ideas, and a design team having to actually figure out how to make them,” Michael says. “We designed and built a lot of things [for Jigsaw] and we tried to do as many of the stunts and action scenes for real as we possibly could, without anyone getting hurt,

obviously.” Michael laughs. “As a fan of the films, it was quite surreal but a lot of fun coming up with this crazy stuff.” The brothers’ first feature film, Undead, was a low-budget horror comedy that was funded by their life savings, and went on to screen at 17 film festivals, including Edinburgh and Montreal. By the time it came to be distributed in cinemas, Undead was released through Lionsgate Films (home to the Saw franchise) and marked the beginning of several successful collaborations to come. “Michael and I have written and directed together for 15 years now,” Peter says. “And we do like to work with the same people as often as we can. We’ve used the same cinematographer on four movies, our make-up effects guy we’ve known since we were at TAFE, and a producer that we work with I’ve known since grade six. “Filmmaking can be a really tough process. But when you’ve got people who are all working towards the same goal and everybody is pleasant, that’s the kind of situation you wanna be in – though it isn’t always like that. I think Ethan Hawke is someone we’re going to work with again – and of course Sarah Snook.” Indeed, Snook has already been lined up to star in the brothers’ next project, the supernatural thriller Winchester (due for release 2018) that also so happens to star a little up-and-comer named Helen Mirren. “Helen’s incredible,” Michael says, his voice a little awed. “Not only did she find the true life story of Sarah Winchester really interesting – as we did – but I think Helen also believes she was a fascinating human being in her own right. The myth of course is that as the heir to the Winchester fortune, she was haunted by all the people killed at the hand of the famous rifle. We’re actually doing the post-production for it now, and the performances are chilling.” What: Jigsaw When: Thursday November 2

BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17 :: 31


Gerald’s Game:

The Doors Of Perception Inspired by the release of Mike Flanagan’s new film, Gerald’s Game, Dave Crewe takes a look back at the new horror master’s career so far

T

he most shocking moment of Gerald’s Game – the 2017 Stephen King horror adaptation that isn’t about a scary clown – isn’t when heroine Jessie (Carla Gugino) realises her husband’s (Bruce Greenwood’s) heart attack has left her handcuffed to a bed in the middle of nowhere. Nor is it the vivid flashback to Jessie’s childhood trauma. Even the film’s gory, stomachturning ‘degloving’ scene – which, for the record, I had to watch through my fingers – wasn’t what shocked me the most. It was a small detail that had me reeling. You see, given that Gerald’s Game is a “Netflix Original”, I saw it at home. And since I was watching at home, I was distracted. Glancing at my phone, fiddling with some paperwork – you know the drill. So, when a fly buzzed across the screen and landed upon the haunting face of Greenwood (or, a posthumous version of the man, produced by Jessie’s delirium), I thought nothing of it. Our house was open; insects are to be expected. But then Greenwood casually sucked the fly into his mouth and I had to stop and rewind the damn movie to figure out what was going on. I was genuinely disoriented by seeing something that seemed impossible. A simple trick. Insert a computer-generated fly into the foreground and inattentive audiences will be fooled into thinking its on their screen rather than in the image. But anyone halfway familiar with the work of Gerald’s Game director Mike Flanagan would recognise that this

“Whereas most horror films set in houses find terror in bumps in the night, it’s their absence that’s terrifying in Hush.” is more than just a cute trick. Flanagan’s filmography exploits the fallibility of human perception to create legitimately unnerving horror, and it’s this approach that makes him this decade’s most exciting new genre filmmaker (give or take a Jaume Collet-Serra or two). Take Hush, Flanagan’s previous collaboration with Netflix. It’s a home invasion story with a simple twist: its protagonist, Maddie (Kate Siegel) is a deaf-mute. Flanagan delicately leverages Maddie’s vulnerability to add an additional layer to another otherwise conventional thriller; whereas most horror films set in houses find terror in bumps in the night, it’s their absence that’s terrifying here. Ouija: Origin of Evil – the rare prequel to improve upon the original – plays a different trick altogether, opening on a supernatural séance that turns out to be a scam enacted by Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) and her daughters. By subverting his own scare by retroactively revealing it as a ruse – before, naturally, following it up with actual supernatural scares, Flanagan complicates the ‘it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie’ denial we rely upon when a horror movie cuts a little too close to the bone. Such manipulation of audience perception is very much in the tradition of classic horror. German horror touchstone The Cabinet of Dr Caligari exploits audience identification through the then-innovative use of an unreliable narrator. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s surrealistic masterpiece Un Chien Andalou’s place in the horror canon might be debatable, but its transgressive, iconic shot of a razor slicing open an eyeball resonates for a reason beyond gore. In cinema, there’s nothing more unsettling than the violation of vision. Classic gialli, like Dario Argento’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage and Deep Red require their heroes to

“By subverting his own scare by retroactively revealing it as a ruse, Mike Flanagan complicates the ‘it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie’ denial we usually rely upon.” 32 :: BRAG :: 726 :: 04:10:17

replay their memories in an attempt to understand the truth of the murder they’ve each witnessed. Slashers use subjective camerawork to align their audience with the perspective of the killer, forcing us to question our loyalties: are we sympathising with the helpless victims, or their omnipotent murderer? Flanagan recognises that it’s not just what we see but how we see it that makes horror really get under our skin. Where many of his contemporaries exaggerate their scares with abrupt edits and loud sound effects, Flanagan – who edits all his own films – often overtly obscures his scares. Rather than jolting back in our seat at the sudden appearance of an unexpected antagonist, we’re left to stew in uneasy, uncertain anxiety. Less ‘it’s only a movie’, more ‘did… did I really just see that?’ What makes the fly moment especially clever is how it’s designed for television. Specifically, it’s designed for the way we watch television in the 21st century, with the omnipresent distraction of a second screen. Indeed, the absence of such distractions is why most horror films work best in a cinema – it’s a lot easier for a director to build suspense when they don’t have to worry about their audience glancing at their phone the second the pace slackens. The director’s most sophisticated feature to date, Oculus, exploits that kind of inattention. Framed around an evil mirror able to mess with its owners’ heads – the tagline reads “You see what it wants you to see” – the film explores how our imperfect perception is entangled with modern technology. Flanagan’s characters find themselves tearing off fingernails instead of bandaids, or taking a bite from lightbulbs instead of apples – invariably while distracted by a computer or smartphone screen. Who hasn’t stumbled into an obstacle while paying more attention to their phone than the footpath? Flanagan takes such small moments – something as simple as a fly skittering across your television screen – and extrapolates them into existential terror. Maybe these scares aren’t flashy, or overtly in-yer-face. But Flanagan’s after something more insidious than the reptilian-brain jolts favoured by mainstream horror – something truly horrific; something that has you questioning your very own eyes. thebrag.com


FEATURE

The Pitiless Censor: John Maus And The End Of The World By Allison Gallagher

S

In 2011, having already amassed the cultish devotion of his audience over two albums worth of synth-drenched, lo-fi post-punk that was as dissonant as it was danceable, Maus released the sublime We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves. Quickly garnering praise from every corner of the indie blogosphere, Maus – who first appeared as an early collaborator with fellow hypnagogic pop luminary Ariel Pink – became seen as something of an enigma, his music every bit as influenced by 1980s new wave as it was mid-Renaissance harmonies and Gregorian chants.

And yet it’s precisely this – the way Maus’ intellectual and philosophical ideas infuse every aspect of his musical identity – that makes him such an engaging fi gure.

There was an earnest sincerity in the way Maus carried himself on the album that made clear its philosophical foundations, and the artist used the accessibility of pop to create something radical, and genuinely subversive. Maus toured widely in support of the record, delivering intense, one-man performances that largely consisted of him thrashing his body around the stage while howling

Time Moves Slow “Art cannot merely be the expression of a particularity (be it ethnic or personal). Art is the impersonal production of a truth that is addressed to everyone.” – ALAIN BADIOU, 15 THESES ON CONTEMPORARY ART

“There was some urgency in that sense. Screen Memories is about the end of the world, and, well, I couldn’t wait until the world actually ended.” thebrag.com

And then… mostly nothing. After his brief dalliance with the indie hype machine, Maus largely retreated from the public consciousness. Followers and critics alike lamented his absence, and his online message board remained more lively than those of many active bands. Over the following years, the experimental pop fi gure turned to academic pursuits, completing a doctorate in political philosophy before spending several years preparing, writing and recording what would become his new LP, Screen Memories.

“I thought it was important to walk that razor’s edge – to have command of the same machinery and weapons that are being used against us.”

“To me, it seemed like it was about fi ve seconds. I’d wake up sweating sometimes, horrifi ed that so much time had gone by that quickly,” says Maus. “I’d always kind of planned to come back around if it seemed like the next indicated step. After I was fi nished with school stuff I was like, ‘Well, I’ve got to try and make another album.’”

Censors], but it was difficult in different ways”.

It was an altogether meticulous recording process for Maus – although he did eventually get to the stage where he had no choice but to call the album done. “I actually wanted more time on it, but I felt like I would have fussed over it forever if I let myself do that. In that sense, there was maybe a need to put it to bed. I gave myself more latitude with it [than Pitiless

Like the albums that came before it, Maus recorded and produced Screen Memories himself in his Minnesota home, a solitary and isolated locale in the corn plains of the rural American Midwest. Unlike previous records, Maus took an even more hands-on approach to actually producing the music, opting to build the modular synth that appears throughout the album himself.

John Maus photos Jennifer Juniper Stratford

peaking to John Maus, the first impression one gets is that the experimental artist doesn’t do anything halfheartedly. Enthusiastically rapid-firing his thoughts about everything from the political role of pop music to the forthcoming apocalypse, Maus apologizes multiple times throughout the course of our interview for going off on a tangent.

over the top of a backing track – a performance style he’d later refer to with tongue firmly in cheek as his “karaoke show”.

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 33


FEATURE ▲

“There’s this sense that the human being is a line in the sand getting blown off.” “I thought that somehow having command of the most advanced instruments would enable me to kind of mobilise the sonic dimensions, so I spent a fair amount of time putting all that together. My wager was that I could produce some strange synthesis of the two – the pure analogue signal path and the continuous voltage of the synths calibrated using a 3Ghz Pentium computer. I thought that could allow me to somehow produce a high fi delity recording of the lo-fi – if that makes sense.” Maus is reluctant to say whether or not the gamble paid off, suggesting that it’s possible he could have achieved indistinguishable results by using a budget software synth instead. However, he explains that the motivation behind building and utilizing the machines came from a desire to humanize the technological. “I thought it was important to walk that razor’s edge – to have command of the same machinery and weapons that are being used against us. “Let’s just suppose there’s inhuman mechanisms partitioning and distributing all these vanguard technologies – the wager is to wrest the inhumanity from those mechanisms by using the same mechanisms; to be

as cunning and clever. When we do this sort of thing, we really roll the dice. Sometimes there’s a crack”.

Form And Chaos “The only maxim of contemporary art is not to be imperial. This also means: it does not have to be democratic, if democracy implies conformity with the imperial idea of political liberty.” –

much of the album feels eerily timely, given the current climate. “The tone of the album is pretty apocalyptic, and there’s definitely been a sense of apocalypse that’s quickened since the American election. There was some urgency in that sense. Screen Memories is about the end of the world, and, well, I couldn’t wait until the world actually ended.”

BADIOU, 15 THESES

Screen Memories is an ominous collage of ghostly synths, driving bass lines and Maus’ signature, reverb-soaked baritone. He notes the distinct heaviness of the album, acknowledging that it doesn’t contain the same melodic ease of his earlier work. And certainly, listening to Screen Memories, that’s something which becomes apparent pretty quickly. There’s an apprehension that underpins every note, with even the sunnier songs vacillating between anxious energy and crushing darkness. Opening track ‘The Combine’ depicts a future which “dusts us all to nothing” while tracks like ‘Touchdown’ and ‘Find Out’ feel like the desolate echoes of a haunted video arcade on the edge of town. Needless to say, the menacingly dystopian presence that permeates

Lyrically, Maus was particularly inspired to reflect on what he perceives to be the growing complacency around the dominance of the Silicon Valley set, and the ways in which we allow technology to sink its claws into every facet of our lives. In this way, it feels like an organic continuation of the themes explored in the Alain Badiou-quoting Pitiless Censors, which called for a conscious uncoupling of our identities with our technological counterparts. “The ideology or spirituality of technoGnosticism has only continued to gather steam, and, certainly back in 2014, seemed to be without any sort of critique. It’s just kind of held court and received applause from everyone: the way there’s this impulse to reconfigure the social and reconfigure the human being and all those sorts of things. There’s this sense that the human being is a line in the sand getting blown off.

“If I could build a time machine or make some new mathematics, I think that’d be a lot more appreciated.” 34 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

thebrag.com


“These are the thoughts that were on my mind for sure. From a socio-political point of view, I see these impulses as only continuing to gather force across every domain. The bizarre counterpoint to that are these trans-historical notions of the end of time: we can think about the question anew from the standpoint of how exponentially things are accelerating; how they’re fragmented or molecularised. This trans-historical fascination takes on a different life.” Maus stops; reflects for a moment. “I guess that there would be those that would claim that this end – as in, the end – could be used to celebrate the idea that everything is finally going to be justified from within time itself; from within history. And then there are those who don’t suppose that time could ever be given any justification from within time; that life cannot be given its due from within, or along the trajectory of history.”

thebrag.com

Cultural Capital “All art, and all thought, is ruined when we accept [the] permission to consume, to communicate, and to enjoy. We should become the pitiless censors of ourselves.” – BADIOU, 15 THESES

In the past, Maus has been vocal about how pop music, as the most visible medium of contemporary culture, can be subverted to enact a kind of social and political dialogue. When I ask what it means to use pop music as an instigator of change in the modern day, Maus admits it’s mostly a matter of using what tools he’s got. “If I could go and create some politics that were adequate to this international situation – if that was my vocation – I’d certainly prefer it. If I could build a time machine or make some new mathematics, I think that’d be a lot more appreciated. “I think pop’s political effectiveness is as it has always been. Pop, from the standpoint that I occupy, it’s the idiom – it’s the proper.

To make a free use of the proper always has consequences. “There’s a determined irreconcilability, a determined unworkability. I’ve got to be cautious about that cynicism, though. I mean, what’s unworkable? That some blogs are going to say, ‘That new wave synth guy is back’? I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – in fact I mean the very opposite. That’s what the consequence would seem to be, but maybe it’s always weirder than that. If what I’d hoped to achieve in this was achieved, it might not be immediately apparent.” That juxtaposition – that unworkability – has stood at the heart of Maus’ aesthetic for years; he has used the tools of convention to facilitate subversion. “I certainly think it’s that weird tension or contradiction that music of any epoch, especially our own, stands in. On the one hand it mirrors the social relations and reinforces them and is part and parcel with the idiom and the conventions, but at the same time it portrays something else than all of that, and holds possibility. “There’s no real simple pragmatic answer. The real work, when we encounter it – there’s no readily on hand concept through which to adequately describe it. It seems to invite something else: something new, the creation of something. Here we have music that, on the face of it, has got the regular

meter, is using melody and harmony and is a few minutes long and the parts are distinct - it’s par for the course on the one hand. But, on the other hand, maybe something else happens.” When it comes to re-emerging after years of relative solitude, Maus says it’s been a fairly dramatic shift “coming from the middle of nowhere and getting back into it”. On his current tour, Maus has been playing with a live band for the first time. “I did the karaoke one-man show for a long time but at a certain point it proved itself inadequate to audiences of a certain size,” he explains. “It just settles once and for all about whether I’m trying to do some performance art or something. I’m playing a rock’n’roll show, you know what I mean?” For his part, Maus continues to believe that the triumph of the human can challenge an increasingly inhuman world – one that is simultaneously plugged in and disconnected at all times. For all the doom and gloom on Screen Memories, it still demonstrates Maus’ conviction that to appear is to do something radical. In its haze of sub-zero synths and end of days aesthetic, there’s an impossibly human heart beating underneath it all. ■ What: Screen Memories is out Friday October 27 through Domino

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 35

xxx

Maus has been thinking about these things a lot recently, but not just from some kind of grand, dizzyingly zoomed out point of view. He has been forced to confront things he might not otherwise have wanted to confront; to confront not just the death of the universe, but the death of the part of universe called John Maus. “There’s that kind of mindbending idea of there being some standpoint outside of time – the end of time – and that of course relates to mortality.

“I finally got around to googling the etymological roots of eschatology [the theological study of death; or, the science of the last things]. I thought it was interesting that the word does not mean the ‘end’ as such, but that it relates to the furthest thing, the most remote thing – that which is most beyond the eschatos. That’s how I’ve always understood the end. It’s the end that would be the end of ends.”


Sounds Like… NEW ALBUM AND SINGLE RELE A SES WITH JOSEPH E ARP

I don’t know why we use the term “pop” anymore. It doesn’t make sense. Genre terms are all pretty restrictive and irritating – when you start quibbling about whether a record is post rock, or instrumental rock, or postpost instrumental rock, you know you’re in some degree of trouble – but of them all, “pop” is the one of least practical use to music lovers. After all, it’s not a creative term, it’s a commercial one. There is nothing that links Led Zeppelin and Miley Cyrus – nothing at all – and yet a term like “pop” forces us to consider them in the same breath. What’s pop and what isn’t is controlled by forces as fickle as cultural tastes, which the briefest of saunters through one’s parents’ wardrobe will make clear are unstable at best. Oh, and what happens when you get records that sound like other “pop” records, but that don’t end up selling well at all; records for whom the true commercial connotation of that term fails to apply? Where does Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion fit into that picture, given it’s a “pop” record that sold about as well as a pack of condoms at a convention for Catholic priests? No, the word “pop” is as reductive as they come, so there’s no use talking about Beck’s new record Colours, out now, as though it is the sound of the sonic chameleon selling out to the mainstream, or giving in to pop conventions – although you can bet that’s what some critics will jump to call it. Although sure, Colours is certainly the first record Beck’s made in some time that could go toe to toe on the bangers front with an album like his masterful studio debut, Odelay. Beck has repurposed the strings that hovered above his last record, Beck

Morning Phase, and deployed them for nothing less than all-out assault – they shriek through ‘Up All Night’ like hot knives sliding through cannabis-infused butter. And that’s not even to get into lead single ‘Wow’, which mixes the millennial whoop and the Wilhelm scream into some scarcely believable, “how-is-this-as-goodas-it-is?” blend of electro pop prettiness and half-rapped nonsense (“Standing on the lawn doin’ jiu jitsu/Girl in a bikini with the Lamborghini shih tzu”).

One new record that certainly doesn’t test the very limits of the language we use to talk about music is Pinewood Smile, the new glorified sonic cum rag from The

36 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

“Pinewood Smile makes a mockery of those of us who think we can talk about music in anything but a series of rasped grunts.” thebrag.com

Beck photo by Peter Hapak

In fact, Colours is so hectic, and so giddy, and so downright contradictory, that you could call it almost whatever you like and probably still end up being right – but just don’t call it “pop”. It’s excellent stuff – maybe the man’s most accomplished record since Guero – and yet it transcends the boundaries of that weak, useless little word.


Samuel Leighton-Dore photo by Brianna Elton

out & about

albums

Queer(ish) matters with Arca Bayburt

Too Rude! On The Censorship of Sexually Explicit Art

R

ecently, an artist named Samuel Leighton-Dore painted a cute mural in The University of Sydney’s graffiti tunnel as part of an art installation called Queer Attack. The mural depicted queer, sexually explicit material and was only up for one day before some ninny took offence and had the whole thing painted over. The installation’s curator, Lucy Le Masurier, wrote: “The point of this work, and all the works in the tunnel, was to provide Queer and LGBT+ awareness. Even more so, it was about visibility of our bodies and our experiences. The erasure of Sam’s work speaks volumes to the level of acceptance around our LGBT+ identities.” You know what lasted way longer on that wall? A bunch of swastikas. Darkness. In fact, what with its almost depraved dependence on the inane, Pinewood Smile makes a mockery of those of us who think we can talk about music in anything but a series of rasped grunts. What the fuck is with this band? I don’t get it. ‘Buccaneers Of Hispaniola’ is like a Ween track stripped of all the humour, the wit and the skill, and there’s a wanky, sub-glam guitar solo shoved into the middle of the mess that would have Marc Bolan pirouetting in his grave. Pinewood Smile is so icky you’d half expect copies to be sold papered in soiled Playboy pages and a thin sheen of hair gel. Oh, and while we’re fucking here, let’s talk about Morrissey, shall we? The UKIP shill and third best member of The Smiths (after Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke, of course) has a new single out, ‘Spent The Day In Bed’, and it’s absolute garbage. The production is ghastly, Morrissey’s voice has become a wasted, warbly parody of itself, and the lyrics are

“Hate has pickled your heart, Mozza, you festering old fascist.” Album Of The Fortnight: Colours

thebrag.com

the kind of weepy trash that you’d expect to be pumped out by a sub-par Morrissey lyric generator. I’d rather spend a few hours carefully inserting pages of Morrissey’s Autobiography into my inner ear than listen to this toxic waste dump of a song ever again. Hate has pickled your heart, Mozza, you festering old fascist. Fuck off back to writing gut-wrenchingly bad sex scenes. Thankfully, however, the kids have it in the bag – as usual. The new record from Lime Cordiale, Permanent Vacation, out now, goes beyond what one might have otherwise expected from the young Aussie sibling duo, and draws on the legacies left by a whole swathe of ’80s acts to create something fresh, and genuinely button-pushing. In that way, it’s not just a bold, layered follow-up to the excellent string of EPs the band have dropped over the last few years, it’s a self-contained artistic statement in its own right; a step in a brand new direction. So yeah, it might be full of the ultrapolished licks that the band have become known for – the kind of chestbeating choruses that have been custom made to get a festival audience full of young punters heaving as one – but it also shows off a fresh sense of nuance from the young Leimbachs. ‘Temper Temper’ is Talking Heads on acid, while the rickety, ska-infl ected surface layer of ‘Giving Yourself Over’ hides real, whirling emotional complexity. The Leimbachs might have recently told the BRAG that Permanent Vacation is all about resisting the lure of ageing, but with their new record, it really feels like the brothers have suddenly and strikingly grown up.

Dud Of The Fortnight: A neck and neck tie to the bottom of the barrel between Pinewood Smile and ‘Spent The Day In Bed’.

“SOMEHOW, RACIST TAGS ARE LESS OFFENSIVE THAN AN ARTFUL DEPICTION OF QUEER BODIES.”

Somehow, racist tags are less offensive than an artful depiction of queer bodies. This sends a clear message, and I challenge anybody to try and defend the erasure of this mural when some of the most racist shit I’ve ever seen continues to pollute the university toilets, hallways and of course, the graffiti tunnel itself. In some cases it takes weeks to get this stuff scrubbed off. Other artists have taken it upon themselves to cover up the swastikas or racist epithets because the dweebs in charge of looking after this – the dweebs who have a duty of care – are too busy looking the other way. Le Masurier posted a particularly poignant statement on the issue and addressed the people responsible for the artwork’s erasure: “Dear Walnut(s), consider your outrage: you erased a cartoon of love and equality. You

“THERE IS LITTLE BY WAY OF HARM PREVENTION AT WORK HERE, SO WHERE WAS ALL THIS HAND-WRINGING WHEN SWASTIKAS PLASTERED THE WALLS?” what’s on… On Thursday October 19, get on down to the LazyBones Lounge in Marrickville for Queer As FVck. Live music and performances will run from 8pm until late, and the lineup is spectacular: Hollow States, Goldheist, Lunar Module, WORSLEY, La Vif, and Lady Connie Cartier (who will also be hosting the night) are all set to appear. Tickets are available on the door. On Saturday October 21, head over to Darlo

censored a scene embracing body and gender diversity. The fact that a cartoon of queer love could be deemed offensive to the point of censorship is so typical of our political state at the moment that I have to laugh. Because it’s laugh or cry. I hope your knee jerk reaction of ‘disgust’ over our queer love-in leaves you sleepless, because your actions speak hateful volumes to our community.

“We meant nothing but good from this mural, this tunnel, and this space. Huge love to everyone positively involved and the rest of our community.” The queer mural was barely offensive in terms of its subject matter, and the fact that it was taken down so fast is indicative of a tasteless cherry picking. Racism is okay; boobs are not okay. Expressions of hatred are okay; expressions of queer sexuality are not okay. There’s no hidden meaning here; nothing deeper. Scratch the surface and you’ll just find garden-variety indignation over the fact that queer people are having a good time, and that must be snuffed out. The pearl-clutching, eyebrow-raising and righteous gasping makes up a chorus of puritanical noise that functions illogically and frustratingly. There is little by way of harm prevention at work here, so where was all this hand-wringing when swastikas plastered the walls? Surely those symbols cause more harm than an errant cartoon penis flying through the air amongst flowers and butterflies.

Bar in Darlinghurst for a post equality rally celebration: Meet Me in Darlo! Hosted by Keep Sydney Open, this little neighbourhood festival kicks off from 3pm, with DJs Jay Katz, Miss Death, Astrid Little and Lex Deluxe providing the tunes late into the night. Karma Kegs will keep the beer flowing, with all proceeds donated to the Equality Campaign and Keep Sydney Open. On Saturday October 28, it’ll be time to get spooky. It is approaching Halloween

after all, and what better way to spend it than by partying at Heaps Gay’s Heaps Hallowed. This freakfest is on at The Red Rattler in Marrickville and dress-up is strongly encouraged. With music, art and performances running all night, it’ll be a feast for the senses, set to feature Tribate Marinate, Kimchi Princi, Donatachi and POP ROCKS with art by Zoofetti, Adam Apple, Persphone Peach and Amie Wee. Tickets are on sale now.

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 37


The Defender I N T H E D E F E N D E R , T H E B R A G ’ S W R I T E R S P I C K O U T A P O P C U LT U R E A R T E FA C T T H AT T H E Y F E E L H A S B E E N H A R D D O N E B Y. An Unexpected Journey

“FROM THE VERY FIRST SHOT OF UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, IT’S CLEAR THAT JACKSON HAS NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER IN REPLICATING OLD GLORIES.” This issue, Joseph Earp makes the case for Peter Jackson’s derided Hobbit trilogy.

and, finally, the mild horror that rippled through film purists when it was announced that Jackson had shot the film using cameras capable of capturing an ultra high frame rate.

B

y the time The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out in 2012, the film had already been picked to pieces. Early anticipation had been quelled by a series of mini-controversies: first, the abrupt exit of genre favourite Guillermo Del Toro, who was set to direct while Lord Of The Rings luminary Peter Jackson produced; then, the news that Jackson had expanded what was set to be one film into three;

It would be wrong to say the film tanked on first release – it grossed a cool one billion dollars US, and received its fair share of positive to middling reviews. Even those who hated the film singled out specific elements for praise, from the distinct bruised fruit colour palette to the performances of series newcomers Martin Freeman and Luke Evans. But amongst fans of Jackson’s original trilogy, discontent began

to grow; discontent that was only cemented by the release of The Desolation Of Smaug the year later, and then The Battle Of The Five Armies the year after that. These days, the story goes like this: An Unexpected Journey is boring; Desolation Of Smaug is uneven; and Battle Of The Five Armies grasps at straws. But I call bullshit on that narrative. Sure, the Hobbit films occasionally struggle to meet the high bar set by The Lord Of The Rings trilogy – but any series would struggle set against that precedent. And anyway, from the very first shot of Unexpected Journey, it’s clear that Jackson has no

interest whatsoever in replicating old glories. The Hobbit series is a different entity entirely; it’s unashamedly more meandering. The Fellowship Of The Ring sets up an entire world in 20 minutes,

“THESE DAYS, THE STORY GOES LIKE THIS: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY IS BORING; DESOLATION OF SMAUG IS UNEVEN; AND BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES GRASPS AT STRAWS.”

Drawn Out 1. What is your favourite thing to eat on tour?

but Jackson was well aware audiences were coming into Journey with a full knowledge of that world and its lore. So instead of sprinting, he went for a stroll, spending a full hour developing character and tone. Certainly he overdid the CGI, and there are sections of Five Armies that feel like little more than a videogame. But at their best, the Hobbit films are perfect sequels – films that build on the promise of the originals while shaking up the tone and moving the narrative in bold new directions. Haters are gonna hate, but real Tolkien-heads know I speak the cold, hard truth.

Each fortnight, we reach out to some of our favourite Aussie acts and ask them questions that they then have to draw the answers to. This time around, we chatted to Declan Melia and Matt O’Gorman of British India, and got them to sketch their little hearts out for us.

2. Who is your dream collaborator?

3. What is your dream rider?

4. What is your spirit animal? 5. What will guitars be like in the future? 6. What is the thing that is most precious to you?

Answers: 1. Campbell’s soup 2. Nile Rogers and Tom Cochrane 3. Wine and a basketball hoop 4. A snail, a giraffe 5. A laptop and a multi-necked guitar 6. Family 38 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

thebrag.com


against the current

07:10:17 :: The Factory Theatre :: 105 Victoria Rd, Marrickville 9550 3666

What we’ve been to see this fortnight. See full galleries at thebrag.com/snaps

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 39

thebrag.com

s n a p s


s n at the drive-in a p s

What we’ve been to see this fortnight. See full galleries at thebrag.com/snaps

29:09:17 :: Hordern Pavillion :: i Driver Ave Moore Park 9921 5333

mac miller

28:09:17 :: Metro Theatre :: 624 George St, Sydney 9550 3666

40 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

thebrag.com


g g guide gig g send your listings to : gigguide@seventhstreet.media

PICK OF THE THE ISSUE

Boney M

The Peep Tempel

SATURDAY O C TO B E R 2 8

Boney M

Enmore Theatre, Newtown. Saturday October 21. 8pm. $79.90. Disco-funk originals Boney M are the masters of the ear worm – over the course of some four decades, they’ve perfected the subtle art of pop. Catch ’em blasting ‘Rasputin’, ‘Daddy Cool’ and a host of other classics at the Enmore.

$11.60. Boney M Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 8pm. $79.90.

The Bald Faced Stag, Leichhardt

The Peep Tempel

The Dillinger Escape Plan Metro Theatre, Sydney. 8pm. $81.70. Ian Moss Leadbelly, Newtown. 7pm. $40. Painters And

Dockers The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $22.90. Rainbow Chan Golden Age Cinema, Sydney CBD. 9pm. Free. Retrospective Vol.1 – Classic House – feat: Illicit DJs, Mitch Fowler, Nick Miney Oxford Art Factory Gallery, Darlinghurst.

10:30pm. $11.50. Uptown Kings Cross Hotel, Potts Point. 9pm. $10. Vik-Toberfest – feat: Valhalore The Lair @ Metro Theatre, Sydney. 7pm. $14. Yes I’m Leaving Bald Faced Stag, Leichardt. 8pm. $10.

Polaris

+ Batpiss + Scabz 8pm. $29.60. WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 18

THURSDAY OCTOBER 19

The Dillinger Escape Plan The Bald Faced Stag, Leichardt. 8pm. $79.90.

Casey Donovan Leadbelly, Newtown. 6pm. $28.60.

Jungle Boogie – feat: Gang Of Brothers Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice, Sydney CBD. 8pm. Free. Son Volt The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7pm. $59.90.

thebrag.com

Donny Benet Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $19.90. Justin Hayward State Theatre, Sydney CBD. 8pm. $90. Lambchop The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 7:30.

$61. Traveller The Bunker, Coogee. 7:30pm. $25. Z Star Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice, Sydney CBD. 8pm. Free.

FRIDAY OCTOBER 20 The Angels Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 7:30pm. $65. Brunette Drive Oxford Art

Factory Gallery, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $10. Byron Short And The Sunset Junkies Stag And Hunter, Newcastle. 7pm. Free. Ian Moss Leadbelly, Newtown. 7pm. $40. Jim Lawrie + Robert Muinos The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $10.

Kim Churchill The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $30. Yeo Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $15.

SATURDAY OCTOBER 21 Alice Cooper Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park. 8pm. $165.20. The Big Vacation Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm.

Polaris

Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. Thursday October 26. 7:30pm. $19.90. Polaris have been compared to contemporary pop punk icons like Parkway Drive and Yellowcard more times than we can count – but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re a mere glorified cover band. They are, at heart, true originals, determined to break out of every box critics wanna pop them in.

BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17 :: 41


g g guide gig g send your listings to : gigguide@seventhstreet.media

For our full gig and club listings, head to thebrag.com/gig-guide.

Bernard Fanning

Heartsounds The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $30. Juicy! Monkeys Mega ’90s Party Three Wise Monkeys, Sydney CBD. 9pm. $15. Osaka Punch The Factory Floor, Marrickville. 8pm. $10. The Peep Tempel + Batpiss + Scabz Bald Faced Stag, Leichhardt. 8pm. $29.60.

The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Saturday October 28. 8pm. $65.90. Thanks to his sensitive, nuanced solo releases, and his time as the frontman of Powderfinger, ol’ mate Bernie Fanning has become something of a national treature as of late; a true Antipodean songwriting giant. See why when he takes to the Factory for three consecutive nights. Bernie for prime minister.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 22

Metro Theatre, Sydney. 7pm. $69.35.

FRIDAY OCTOBER 27

SATURDAY OCTOBER 28

Acoustic Sessions The Botanist, Kirribilli. 2pm. Free.

THURSDAY OCTOBER 26

Cass Eager Stag And Hunter, Newcastle. 7pm. $15.

Bernard Fanning The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $65.90.

Chris Alexander Quartet MGS Music Lounge, Five Dock. 1pm. Free. Greg Poppleton Illawarra Master Builders Club, Wollongong. 2:30pm. Free.

TUESDAY OCTOBER 24 Hip Hop Exchange Fundraiser – feat: Lil Spacely Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 7:30pm. $15.60.

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 25 Less Than Jake

The Double Golden Age Cinema, Sydney CBD. 8pm. Free. Kaurna Cronin Leadbelly, Newtown. 8pm. $15. Night Cruise – feat: Vast Hill, Florian, Froyo, Jordan F. Oxford Art Factory Gallery, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $11.60. Polaris Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 7:30pm. $19.90. Tangents Waywards, Newtown. 8pm. $20.

Danielle Deckard Brighton Up Bar, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $20. Kingswood Metro Theatre, Sydney. 8pm. $45.20. Northlane Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 7pm. $59.15. Saskwatch Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $23.30 Sebastian Bach Manning Bar, Camperdown. 8pm. $90. Spencer Jones Leadbelly, Newtown. $17.

MONDAY OCTOBER 30 Bernard Fanning The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $65.90. The Bronx Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst. 8pm. $54.80.

TUESDAY OCTOBER 31

SUNDAY OCTOBER 29

Nic Cester Leadbelly, Newtown. 7pm. $45.

Acoustic Sessions The Botanist, Kirribilli. 2pm. Free.

Tesse Waywards, Newtown. 8pm. Free.

Bernard Fanning The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. 8pm. $65.90.

Bernard Fanning

Sunday Social The Argyle, The Rocks. 9pm. Free.

Pennywise Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 7:15pm. $80.65.

Variety Rocks – feat: Alex Smith, Angry Anderson, Casey Donovan, Glenn Shorrock, Spencer Jones, Steve Kilbey and more. Enmore Theatre, Newtown. 7pm. $129.

Yes I’m Leaving

Canned Fruit Halloween Disco – feat: Girlthing DJs, Double D, Pineapple Pineapple, Daniel Kitty Lady Hampshire, Camperdown. 10pm. Free. Display Homes Golden Age Cinema, Sydney CBD. 9pm. Free. Face Command Vic On The Park, Marrickville. 10pm. Free. Fifth Harmony ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney CBD. 7:30pm. $81.40.

Have a gig or club listing to get in The BRAG?

Yes I’m Leaving

Bald Faced Stag, Leichhardt. Saturday October 21. 8pm. $10. I interviewed Henry Rollins at the beginning of last year. When I asked what he had been listening to recently, he answered immediately: “This great Aussie band called Yes I’m Leaving.” The man knows what he’s talking about – take him up on his recommendation and head over to the Stag, won’tcha?

You can now submit your gig and club listings. Head to thebrag.com/gig-guide.

42 :: BRAG :: 727 :: 18:10:17

thebrag.com


10 DAYS 700 ARTISTS 2800 EVENTS


#BudweiserFearless

Brag#727  
Brag#727  

http://thebrag.com/ SYDNEY’S FREE STREET PRESS Hitting the streets fortnightly, with the best music, comedy, food and gigs. This issue: • L...

Advertisement