Can’t Be Artsed: Mini-Reviews #1

Welcome to the first edition of my Can’t Be Artsed mini-reviews of All the Things. Here’s this week’s motley offering: The Dresden Dolls, James and the Giant Peach, and Sherlock Holmes — A Game of Shadows.

Music: The Dresden Dolls (The Tivoli, Jan 5)

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Amanda Palmer live three times in Brisbane, but though I’ve listened to their albums for years I’d never before seen The Dresden Dolls (Palmer with drummer Brian Viglione) do their thing together. Holy fuck, it was an intense and glorious evening.

Tom Dickens’ (The Jane Austen Argument) lovely vocals opened the show. A brief Briefs interlude was delightful, as expected — Davey Gravy shticks his shtick so well, and Captain Kidd’s sparkly cocktopus is a joy to behold (and he’s an incredible hoopist). I was thrilled to see The Bedroom Philosopher again — though he gigs in Brisbane semi-regularly, fate often thwarts my attendance. Acronymphomaniac, with the lyrics, “I eat SNAGs for breakfast,” is especially rad.

Palmer and Viglione’s dynamic is so natural you feel they might wordlessly improvise, like two dancers — both leading, never stepping on toes. It’s enthralling. So is Brian, both as a highly talented percussionist and a man with no shirt on.

With a half-hour encore, I was pretty sore by the end of the gig — and fairly deaf, but I now grok what Dresden Dolls fans have been extolling for years: this duo is a powerhouse.

Let’s start the year positively; five semicolons for The Dresden Dolls. ; ; ; ; ;

Theatre: James and the Giant Peach

Aimed at the 4–8 set, I figured I was still of a reasonable height to see this Harvest Rain adaptation of the Roald Dahl adventure that begins with the protagonist’s parents being gobbled up by a rhinoceros in London and ends in a giant peach in New York. I also took my dad — and we wound up having a fun time, even joining in on the pantomime-style audience interaction.

Josh McIntosh’s costumes are gorgeous (especially Aunt Sponge and Spiker’s frocks) and the homely peach itself is pretty cool. Tim O’Connor (Jesus Christ Superstar) directs this production, and it touched even us oldies. Still, the music was a letdown: tinned orchestration and cheery but forgettable tunes. Variable microphone efficacy didn’t help.

When I spoke to Jack Kelly (playing an earnest young James) for Rave Magazine, he said poor old Earthworm (Belinda Heit) was his favourite character. I have to agree: the blind, legless sadsack has an Eeyore charm. I also liked Dash Kruck’s cockney centipede who goes on to work in a sock factory.

It was quite novel to see a one-hour play at QPAC. I was swept away until the end — and would’ve liked some more, but — alas — it was bedtime for James.

I give it three and a half semicolons.

; ; ; :

James circumnavigates the world in his peach until Jan 21. Call 136 246 or book at http://www.qpac.com.au

Film: Sherlock Holmes II—A Game of Shadows

This pseudo-Sherlock adventure launches guns-a-blazin’ and doesn’t let up until curtains, just over two hours later.

Robert Downey Jr is amusing as a slightly psychic ninja Bernard Black. He doesn’t deduce things so much as know them — we learn this through lots of flashing from Significant Foreshadowing Thing to the next. He demonstrates how clever he is by quoting Schubert. We know Moriaty (Jared Harris) is just as clever because he can quote Schubert back and then make witty comments about trout. More importantly, they can both narrate their own actions whilst boxing. Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes is great because Stephen Fry is great; for part of the film he is naked. Good. Jude Law sports a Village People moustache..

There are some gypsies in the movie. You can tell because they’re dirty and they steal things from their friends and they eat hedgehog. Are the Romani the last bastion of acceptable racism in cinema? Noomi Rapace, very far from her role as Lisbeth in that-film-with-a-lot-of-sexual-assault-in-it, plays a dim gypsy in a cute hat looking for her brother or something.

But it is fun (spot the amusing anachronisms), and there is air conditioning. (Today was hot enough to kill — seriously, my panda cories fried in their tank.)

Two semicolons. ; ;

Please let me know what you think of Can’t Be Artsed or suggest Things (any things at all!) I might like to review. I hope you enjoyed this photo of Robert Downey Jr as a half-naked, half-in-drag Sherlock smoking on the floor in a train during a gunfight.

Ruby Fizz presents… A Postmodern Picnic

A postmodern picnic poster

The Ruby Fizz Society presents…
A POSTMODERN PICNIC

at the JOYnt, Sept. 20th, 2 till 5pm
48 Montague Road, South Brisbane


The Bedroom Philosopher launches his new single, supported by quirky Brisvegas musician Mikki Ross, poets Stefanie Petrik and Zenobia Frost, and cabaret/burlesque beauty Bertie Page.

Come dressed for a vintage picnic on the lawn!
Even though we won’t be on a lawn. That’s how post-modern we are.

$8 only! Lucky door prize! Raffles!

The Ruby Fizz Society for Superior People is designed to help you enjoy the best things in life: fine dining, fancy dress, live music, live poets, dead poets, burlesque, cabaret, and high-class frivolity. We aim to provide opportunities for Queensland creative types whilst having a damn good time.

The Bedroom Philosopher
(Melbourne: www.myspace.com/thebedroomphilosopher)
Meet the underground monster single of 2008! Wow Wow’s Song is the sound of Australia’s most beloved and respected experimental folk-comedian The Bedroom Philosopher being joined by musical allies Tripod on vocals, Harry Angus (Cat Empire, Jackson Jackson) on trumpet and Richard Cartwright (Richard In Your Mind) on sitar. A criminally catchy chorus, double bass and rollicking Aztec drums help create the ultimate Home-School-Hey-Jude-Bolivian-Mod-Sesame-Street-Party feel.
The lovechild of Jarvis Cocker, Graeme Garden and Flight Of The Conchords, The Bedroom Philosopher is a beacon of wit and acoustic mad-cappery in the oh-so-serious music scene. Owning the genre-clash of inventive guitarist and fiercely clever comedian, his craft drenched art-folk and profoundly ridiculous story-telling inject hilarious theatrics into the classic platform of the balladeer. The 70’s-dreaming geek-Adonis swings between the music and comedy worlds on a wave of only-child charisma and finely executed disarray.

Mikki Ross (Brisbane: myspace.com/mikkiross)

Mikki Ross is the Rubik’s Cube of live entertainment and is putting Showbiz back into the music scene. This Brisbane born vocalist, composer, electronic producer, pianist, comedian, dancer, inventor & backyard philosopher performs superbly crafted DIY pop inside his self-invented portable “Whizz-Bang Theatre”. He is truly a post-millennium one man band.

Stefanie Petrik
Stefanie Petrik is a poem. She spends most of her time re-drafting this poem. The word “poetry” has substituted the words “god”, “love”, “money”, “life”, & “security” in her private dictionary. Stefanie pathetically spends all her time writing, getting into trouble and moving interstate. Eventually she’ll run out of states and have to consider plastic surgery, and depol name changes. She is coming to the Ruby Fizz Society, barring the influence of car crashes, aliens and axe murderers.

Bertie Page (Brisbane: www.myspace.com/missbertie)
Bio to come
Miss. Bertie is a rising star of Australian Cabaret, famous for her quick wit, original costumes limitless imagination. As a professional character comedian she performs as multiple characters. She has a performance studies degree behind her as well as extensive studies in the areas of burlesque, clowning, and the range of vocal musical stylings for which she is well-known. She is more than song and dance, a showgirl who is prepared to open her mouth, releasing a whirlwind of satire and biting social-political commentary, with a tongue sharper than a diamond blade.

Zenobia Frost
(Brisbane: https://zenobiafrost.wordpress.com/)
Zenobia Frost is a poetic adventurer, hat fetishist and protector of apostrophes whose creative work has been published in Voiceworks, The Definite Article, LOTL and Going Down Swinging. She has performed at the Queensland Poetry Festival, No Frontiers and Contraverse, and is your Ruby Fizz Society hostess. In her writing, Zenobia aims to highlight those common enchantments that are often overlooked.