Melbourne Fringe 2018: Bella Green is Charging for it

Courthouse Hotel, Tuesday 25th September 2018

Opening night show – SOLD OUT

I had seen this show advertised on Twitter and listened to Josh Earl’s “Don’t You Know Who I Am?” podcast that Bella was a guest on and wanted to go see this show even though I was not going to much else at the Fringe festival due to not working.

Meshel Laurie did a couple of shows based around her experiences working as a receptionist at a brothel back in the early 2000’s but there hasn’t really been anything since then and nothing by a sex worker.

The show follows Bella’s life from when she was growing up to her first job in the industry in a peep show, what happened when she was working there that she ended up in a strip club and other normal jobs she had.

After having trouble holding down a ‘normal’ job, she decides to go work at a brothel and we meet the fairy godmother who guides her through the things she should know.

There are some skits based on working in the brothel, but I will let you see those for yourself. During the costume changes Bella asks the audience to hold her work phone and some funny text messages she has received are displayed on screen.

Bella also worked as a mistress in a sex dungeon for a time and the story she tells about that experience is quite something.

There was a line about people reviewing sex workers online and the fake website rootreviews.com (no doubt someone will register that) and also a mention of sex workers twitter accounts.

It was a good show with plenty of funny bits and hopefully it does well in the festival and goes on to feature at the comedy festival and other festivals also.

There were two other people in the show who played various roles but I do not know who they are as yet.

I had not heard of Bella Green before this show, but hopefully she goes on to do more shows and has heaps more shows.

Melbourne Fringe 2018: After Hours Cabaret Club

Lithuanian Club, Saturday, 22 September 2018

Featuring MC Tash York, Bettie Bombshell, Samora Squid, Memphis Mae, Raven Dark Prince Of Burlesque, Luke Hubbard 

I had originally heard about this show from following performers on social who were in it at Edinburgh Fringe and was hoping to see them as part of the show in Melbourne. It was not to be as one of them is still on holidays and the other could not make it this time.

It had been quite a few years since I had gone to see any burlesque apart from Dr Sketchys and I wasn’t taking photos this time I just wanted to enjoy the show.

There was a live band doing the backing music for most of the routines except for two performers who had their own music. It added more energy to the show and was good for the audience to have something to listen to on the way in and exiting the venue.

Tash York was a great MC and got to sing a couple of times. There was even an improvised number based on suggestions from the audience.

Bettie Bombshell did a couple of routines and was well received. Her bra ended up in my lap.

Samora Squid from Penguin Tasmania did some neat tricks with his body including dislocation and making his arms go floppy. He ended up playing the mandolin in an interesting position.

Memphis Mae did an ode to McDonalds burlesque routine and rubbed foodstuffs on her. At one point she threw chicken nuggets into the audience and had some back and forth with one audience member who she wouldn’t give the nugget to. At the end there was a give-away with two lucky audience members getting to tear off a Monopoly ticket from her McDonalds merkin.

I had heard a lot about Raven but had never gotten to see her perform. His routine was unique in that he was already stripped and spent most of it behind the fringe of a giant hat with red tassels hanging down framing his body. It was a great routine and I am sure I will see him again.

Luke Hubbard is a circus performer who has performed with BRIEFS and many other shows. He did some spectacular tumbles and balancing in his act and has performed in very small spaces in the past. A fine act to finish the show with.

It was a great show and well worth seeing if it comes to somewhere near you.

Big Brother (2018)

Director: Ka-Wai Kam

Starring: Donnie Yen, Joe Chen, Kang Yu, Brahim Achabbakhe, Wai-Ho Auyeung, Tom Caserto, Alfred Cheung, Jai Day, Ye Fan, Semiquaver Iafeta, Tin-Lung Koo

Donnie Yen stars as Henry Chen, a mysterious teacher who turns up to a run-down school and is assigned the worst class. The students ignore him at first, but through his persistence he gradually gets through to them.

When five of his students are expelled for fighting in a restaurant he goes out his way to help them, but one of them does not want to be helped.

The school is also in jeopardy as it is threatened with being closed by the school board due to the poor performance of its students and low enrolments.

After helping the other students, Henry goes to the one who did not come back to school and through a series of events ends up fighting a UFC champion and his crew in the locker room of a stadium. He ends up famous and his students think he is cool.

Everyone is getting ready for the DSE exam and even the former wayward students are studying hard. One student is not going very well and his actions lead to some dire consequences. The big boss of a triad gang also has his eyes on the school for a property development deal and sends over his heavies. Who will win out?

This was a good movie even though the trailer makes it look like there is more action than is actually in the movie. Donnie was great as the lead and the kids stood their ground and each of the main characters had their own story.

I was worried when I saw Wong Jing’s name in the credits at the start of the movie, but he was only one of the producers and none of his usual shenanigans seem to have ended up in the film.

It did remind me of other movies with inspirational teachers but with some different things like the teacher being able to fight the bad guys.

I enjoyed the scene with the go karts where the girl and her father decide to race through the streets to prove a point. Donnie ends up chasing them in a go kart himself. Surely they would not have been allowed to leave the circuit?

There is a sort of bad guy in the movie but his story is explained and he does get a resolution at the end of the story.

An interesting movie if you like stories about inspiring figures and school life.

L Storm (2018)

Director: David Lam

Starring: Louis Koo, Julian Cheung, Kevin Cheng, Stephy Tang, Toby Chan

When the suspect of a bribery case and the main person of interest in a money laundering case manage to give the ICAC investigators the slip, William Luk (Louis Koo) and JFIU Chief Inspector Lau Po-keung (Julian Cheung)  are at a loss what to do next.

Unknown to them a new boss moves in to take over the money laundering game and does away with his competition. He also sets events in motion that will get the ICAC internal investigation unit L looking into Luk’s affairs so he can’t pursue the case any longer.

When the bribery suspect’s girlfriend is killed he decides to turn star witness and meet up with Luk. At the rendezvous they are attacked and Luk’s partner is hospitalised and the bribery suspect runs away (we never see him again).

The rest of the movie follows Luk being chased by the ICAC and arrested by the JFIU to keep him out of harm’s way. After being detained for 48 hours he decides to go it alone and follows the suspects in the money laundering case to a ship, where he ends up being captured by the gang.

The race is on to capture the gang and the client before they can launder $10 billion and get away with it and to clear Luk’s name. Will they do it in time?

This movie was screening up against Mile 22 and I didn’t know which one to go see, but this one was recommended to me so I thought I would give it a shot. I had not seen the previous movies in the series and it did not seem like I was missing anything.

There is a lot of action and chase scenes with Luk jumping across rooftops and car chases with suspects being tailed and Luk trying to get away from people when he is wanted.

The performances are all fine with no one seeming to overdo it.

There are a few fight scenes with the bad guys fighting Luk on occasion with the fight on the boat being pretty good two against one.

Louis Koo’s hair is indestructible as it even survives getting electrocuted and his suit is always immaculate.

A good police drama with some action mixed in and worth seeing.

MIFF 2018: The Spy Gone North (2018)

Director: Jong-bin Yoon

Starring: Jung-min Hwang, Sung-min Lee, Jin-Woong Cho, Ji-Hoon Ju

Based on the real case of the Black Venus spy from the 1990s we follow said spy as he infiltrates the North Korean inner circle in search of information about the North’s nuclear weapons program.

After a somewhat confusing opening of a North Korean spy being arrested we see the spy telling of how he covered his identity after leaving the army by drinking and gambling and ruining his credit rating. His new identity is as a businessman working in Beijing looking for North Korean products to sell. He is warned by his superior that if he is captured or exposed that the government will deny all knowledge.

Due to it being based on real life and less James Bond style theatrics there is a lot of dialog and meetings in this movie. There are the classic spy movie tropes of bugs and tails but the main character knows enough to act accordingly when he goes to North Korea and ends up drugged and interrogated when they take a blood sample.

Great performances all round including from the actor playing Kim Jong Il. His little dog got a lot of laughs from the audience for some reason.

The scenery for North Korea was good but the movie was shot in Taiwan for obvious reasons.

There are political machinations involved when the secret service agency tries to change the election outcome by asking for the North’s help, something which the spy does not agree to and decides to act on his own initiative to change things.

If you like more thoughtful spy dramas and less action then I would recommend this movie.

MIFF 2018: Milan Caliber 9 (1972)

Director: Fernando Di Leo           

Starring: Gastone Moschin, Barbara Bouchet, Mario Adorf, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Ivo Garrani, Philippe Leroy, Lionel Stander

When Ugo (Gastone Moschin) is released from jail the local mob are after him as they think he ripped off $300,000 from them, which he denies. Nobody believes him, not his friend or his ex-lover and he has a bad time of it at first with Rocco and his heavies roughing him up.

He goes to see his friend for help and they end and up in a fight with Rocco. As it turns out the head of the mob the Mikado wants Ugo to work for him. The gang deals in moving large amounts of currency for rich clients and one such job ends in a bomb going off in the railway station.

Ugo’s loyalty is tested when the gang wants him to rub out his friend, leading to an endgame with his friend set on dealing with the mob once and for all.

This movie is 70s to the max with a great soundtrack, excellent characters and costumes and some over the top sets like the apartment of the dancer.

For some reason I am thirsty for J&B whisky as they do about five different product placements for it as it is Ugo’s preferred drink.

The scene with the dancer (Ugo’s girlfriend) is great with a lot of strange angles you would not think they would use for such a scene.

Rocco is pretty stylish with his pencil thin moustache, curly hair and suits. He is a bit dumb but does respect Ugo at least.

In the police station one of the police makes a speech about socialism but it was hard to make out as half the words were not subtitled. “Americano” kept being said in the dialog but was not subtitled.

After the film there was a talk by Malcolm Angelucci from the University of Melbourne who said the bombing was based on a real terrorist attack around the same era and Milan was the centre of the student protests of the late 1960s.

This film is available online or there is a new release by Arrow Films which I would recommend as it has a load of special features.

MIFF 2018: Outrage Coda (2017)

Director: Takeshi Kitano

Starring: Beat Takeshi, Toshiyuki Nishida, Tatsuo Nadaka, Hakuryû, Ikuji Nakamura, Sansei Shiomi, Yutaka Matsushige, Kanji Tsuda, Ren Osugi

Otomo (Beat Takeshi) is a former Yakuza retired in South Korea who works as a fixer for Mr Cheng’s gang. When a visiting Yakuza roughs up some working ladies Otomo pays him a visit and demands reparations, instead one of Cheng’s men ends up dead. One of the top Yakuza tries to settle the situation but their money is refused.

Complicating matters is the Yakuza politics as the chairman decides to bump off his right hand man to clear things up. Things don’t go according to plan and Otomo ends up going over to Japan to settle some scores.

This film is the third of a triology but you don’t really need to have seen the other two movies to follow the story. There are a lot of characters introduced in a short time and a lot of dialog in the Yakuza meeting scenes. It is also a sausagefest with a lot of macho on display.

For a Yakuza movie there is hardly any violence at all for the first hour or so, when Otomo finally goes into action it kicks it up a gear with the body count in one scene matching entire movies.

Otomo is not really around for the first part of the movie and there are a lot of scenes with the Yakuza where they are just talking.

There were some laughs from the movie with a few of the situations being a bit absurd.

Beat Takeshi was great in this and is a real force of nature once his character gets more screen time.

It is a shame there won’t be any more in this series as Otomo is a great character but he goes out on his own terms.

MIFF 2018: Animation Shorts Program

The Lost Sound

Director: Steffie Yee

Based on a poem this short had a unique style of animation using modelling clay cut into slices and hand drawn animation.

The story concerns old sounds no longer being heard in new forms of language and the visuals are also abstract.

An interesting short with a unique visual style.

Lost & Found

Directors: Andrew Goldsmith & Bradley Slabe

Two soft toys are best of friends. When one gets into trouble at the fountain the other runs off in a desperate struggle to save it only to get itself snagged on a nail and start unravelling.

I enjoyed the animation in this and the fox and dinosaur toys were cute. The setting was a Japanese house as there was a paper screen and a bamboo water feature that the fox fell into.

A fun film with some enjoyable scenes.

[O]

Directors: Mario Radev & Chiara Sgatti

In this strange world various creatures go about their business and the cycle repeats.

The animation style and creature design reminded me of Terry Gilliam’s work

Was a weird looking film and a bit hard to work out what was going on but I did enjoy it.

Perfect Town

Director: Anais Voirol

In a strange looking town the residents are ejected from their residence whenever they do something too weird. Still other people come in to replace them via the narrow stairs leading into the town.

I enjoyed the animation in this and the character design was very weird and wonderful. There were some funny jokes like the dude sucking his own dick.

The director was a guest of the festival and said the soundtrack was made up of toys and the voices from Google translate.

Mr Deer

Director: Mojtaba Mousavi

Set on the underground, animals dressed as people go about their business. A deer gets onto the train with other animals and various things happen. There is a fight between the animals after a snake sleazes on the lady deer and spits venom at the male deer. Meanwhile an earthquake occurs and the deer exits the train to see who he can save.

A very interesting short with stop motion animation and the animal designs are great. The monkey and the gorilla were good as were the other animals.

Agua Viva

Director: Alexa Lim Haas

A woman from China talks about her life in the beauty salon as the world unfolds around her.

Very nice watercolour painted animation style and some interesting scenes.

Down Escalation

Director: Shunsaku Hayashi

In a strange world a figure in the ruins stands up and is taken by a giant hand, only to be rejected and pushed into the ground.

A strange abstract animation style and negative images with interesting character design. Not really much story to speak of but fun to watch.

Bless You!

Director: Paulina Ziolowska

In a street full of people a sneezing epidemic breaks out with absurd consequences.

I enjoyed the painted animation style in this with some great character designs and effects when the people sneezed. It reminded me of all the old communist animations from the 1970s and 80s.

Obon

Directors: Andre Hormann & Anna Samo

An old woman in Japan talks about her life. A story about her working in the bank ends up being a retelling of the destruction of Hirsoshima during World War II.

I enjoyed the painted watercolour animation in this very Japanese looking in the traditional style. During the scenes of destruction it was very harrowing.

The Subject

Director: Patrick Bouchard

A figure on a mortuary slab is cut into and begins to sprout weird contraptions. The person dissecting then pulls an anvil from the body.

An interesting live action stop motion animation style with interesting mechanical creations for the contraptions that come from the body and I liked that the flesh turned to clay once it was cut. An interesting short with an ambiguous outcome.

Mermaids and Rhinos

Director: Vikoria Traub

A man runs to the sea shore, during the course of the story we find his daughter and mother are living in a hostel and his wife has left him. The family used to be performers in the circus but the mother fell in love with another performer and left them.

This short has a great hand drawn animation style with some interesting character designs. I don’t know why the people keep turning into rhinos but it has something to do with the description at the start about them being “sensitive creatures”.

Inanimate

Director: Lucia Bulgheroni

A woman becomes self-aware that she is in an animation and tries to break free of the world. In the background we see the blur of the animators and the scene pulls back to reveal other scenes being worked on under time lapse.

A great stop motion animated short with good looking characters and sets. Great concept for an animation too and I would like to see more of this director’s work.

MIFF 2018: I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (2018)

Director: Jessica Leski

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSQBPzGL8EI 

NB: I was one of the Kickstarter backers for this project

I had been looking forward to this ever since I put money into the crowdfunding project and I wasn’t disappointed with it with a lot of laughs and some tears from the participants.

We follow the story of four different women and how their obsession with boybands shape their life.

As the producer said there were male fans interviewed but they decided to go with a limited amount of people so the story could be told better.

Two of the people in the documentary were also at the screening and one of them even taught a boyband dance move to the audience.

The youngest participant is now studying pre-med and is doing fine according to the director.

A lot of the footage and other content in the documentary was provided by the participants such as the Backstreet Boys cruise footage.

As a backer of the project I can say I am happy to have put money into it and hope it goes on to do well on DVD and inspires other young people to follow their dreams and not be ashamed for liking things no other person they know seems to like such as boybands.

23rd September, 2020

Writer’s note: Originally written in 2005 as a fun exercise and not a prediction at all.

[ WarFamine | Disease | Terrorism | Science and Technology |  Entertainment | Transport | Space ]

War

You would have thought that we’d had enough of these in the first few years of this century. George Bush Junior wanted to have his war with his war with Iraq and he got it, in the aftermath many countries borders changed and it led to the greatest mass migration since World War II.

The Australian government gave up on the Pacific Solution after unrest in the smaller countries of the South Pacific over being used as dumping grounds for unwanted arrivals.

Everyone remembers the old refugee camps in the Australian desert, but thankfully after a change in government the majority of new arrivals were settled in the community. You will have no trouble finding a good Middle Eastern take away in any decent sized town in Australia.

Famine

This has continued in Africa and also in the Middle East as a result of the Greater Middle Eastern War of 2003-2008. Eastern Europe also experienced widespread food shortages due to extreme weather conditions beginning with the floods of 2002 and compounded by another massive volcanic eruption in the Philippines that put Mt Pinatubo in the shade for the amount of ash that went into the atmosphere.

Contrary to the rest of the world the situation in Africa has improved compared to the end of the 20th Century. However this is mostly due to the large number of deaths from AIDS and related diseases which have decimated the population. (Some commentators compared its impact to that of the Black Plague in Europe during 1345AD.)

Disease

Despite hopes in the first few years of this century of a cure or vaccine AIDS is still as prevalent as ever.

The deaths in the Third World due to AIDS and related diseases have been horrendous and there has also been a resurgence of infections in more developed countries due to complacency. Of course the treatment for AIDS in the first world has improved to the point that it can be effectively managed by courses of drugs so that people can lead relatively normal lives.

Although there were some scaremongers who though Smallpox would make a reappearance, it has remained safely in containment and various governments looked a bit stupid after stockpiling vaccines for their entire populations. (They thought it better to be safe than sorry.)

Terrorism

This was a major concern in the first few years of this century, but its impact has faded since there have been no major attacks in many years apart from the one that the USA will never let anyone forget. (Some media outlets have now banned ‘that’ footage.)

The September 11th Conspiracy theorists have produced many books, lectures, videos, films, websites and so on which everyone is thoroughly sick of.

The attacks on the forces engaged in the Greater Middle Eastern War were mostly the work of suicide bombers, even though the organizations that were meant to be supporting them were no longer in existence.

Science and Technology

The growth of scientific research especially genetic research has been exponential. Most likely it was accelerated by the dire situations in other areas of the world.

Human cloning was meant to have been banned, but about ten years ago a remote research facility was located in South America with many failed ‘experiments’ who were trying to live as best a life as they could – a modern day Leper colony. Some of the former residents of this research station became quite famous and travelled the world lecturing about taking responsibility for scientific research and the effects it can have on society.

The communications market has exploded with mobile phones turning into portable entertainment and communications centres.

Popular trends in mobiles include built in sound systems, mini movie players and multiplayer games. (There have been a few transporter crashes due to this.)

I remember I used to work in a job where I maintained the a website for a company. People eventually got sick of these and implemented digital secretaries on their home severs to answer customer queries. (I need not explain the DigiSec wars of Microsoft vs. AOL.)

Entertainment

Eventually the major movie studios got sick of people downloading movies from unauthorised sources and put in their own ‘pay per download’ services (which where hacked as soon as they were released – you can’t win.)

Hollywood only releases about half a dozen movies a year now, but they are ultra blockbusters with multi-billion dollar budgets and many concurrent interactive plot-lines.

Some studios have bought entire countries and destroyed them in the process of filming the movie. (The countries are rebuilt with the box office proceeds.)

This has backfired however when an attempt to film Armageddon III ended with the death of several million people when the ‘prop’ asteroid they were using actually hit the Earth when someone missed their cue.

The most popular movie at the moment is the Total Immersion Star Wars Saga which has grossed a record box office and is now in its fourth year of continuous top ten download.

Transport

Although there are still many old cars around many of them are sitting in garages un-driven due to the high cost of registration as part of the environmental regulations.

Running a ‘gas-guzzler’ is viewed as bad as smoking once was, but the people who can afford it don’t care that much as they have the highways to themselves mostly.

The reason cars aren’t so popular anymore was that there ended up being so many of them that the roads were in an almost permanent state of gridlock and it was quicker in the end to walk where you wanted to go.

Personal transports were also the height of fashion for a few years. They were about ¼ the size of a normal car so you could only fit about 1 other passenger apart from the driver. That didn’t stop people playing ‘sardines’ – the record was about 20 I think, at least
that’s what the accident investigators said.

As most of the highways had less cars on them, the trucks got bigger until the Mega Transports got their own roads for safety after one too many caravans was destroyed by a illegal gene modded ‘stay-awake’ driver.

Space

Due to all the problems planet-side, there has been somewhat limited advances in this area. The former International Space Station has been a luxury hotel for quite a few years with discarded rocket housings providing the extra rooms.

The major movie studios have had their space operations licences suspended until they compensate for their damage to the Earth and the Moon caused by some accidents on set (it should only take the profits from two movies.)

Space is still the domain of the rich and powerful due to the high support costs, but a weekend away in the upper atmosphere has become quite affordable in the past few years.

Mineral exploration in space is a major success story with many precious metals being recovered from passing asteroids, leading to a bit of upset on the markets.

Interplanetary mining is very highly paid, but extremely dangerous and a lonely existence.
Some of the first people to mine off-world came from isolated mines in Western
Australia and other Australians are leaders in this field. (One of the first mining colonies in space was called Port Headland.)