Video by Casey Causley
Written by Bo Nicholson – Managing Director
Damien Chazelle stormed into the spotlight with his incredible debut film, Whiplash, only to further raise the stakes with La La Land, this century’s greatest film musical. Can he continue his wonderful streak by breaking into the biopic genre with this version of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing, or will it be third time unlucky for the young director. Click the link below to see Casey Causley’s review of First Man.
Casey reviews movies, TV shows and also vlogs on her YouTube channel. Check out her content here
Video by Chris Timms
Written by Bo Nicholson – Managing Director
Slash is one of the world’s great guitarists, revered for his work with Guns N’ Roses decades ago and retaining his reputation through his solo work and his collaborations with The Conspirators.
Despite middling critical reviews on all of their recent albums, fans continue to enjoy Slash’s output; always hanging out for his next virtuoso solo.
Chris Timms, a hard-rock guitarist from Brisbane who has a deep passion for music and film, sat down to review the album, picking apart each song with his brilliant ear for music. Be sure to check out his excellent review below.
By Bo Nicholson - Managing Director
Each week The Pioneer Australia will give you a guide to the films hitting cinemas in Australia. This week we’ll discuss the new Damien Chazelle film, an all-star cast sharing a deadly hotel and a new movie from the man that gave us House of Flying Daggers.
I guess the big question here is, how will Chazelle surprise us? We know how this story ends. Will the surprises be in the performances of Ryan Gosling or Claire Foy? What directorial flourishes can we expect from Chazelle, especially as he is working with his regular team of Tom Cross (Editor), Linus Sandgren (Cinematographer) and Justin Hurwitz (Composer)?
Verdict: With a Metascore of 84 and the pedigree of all involved, it’s hard to see this being a bad film. This could be the film of the year, make sure you go and see it!
Kurosawa film, where the same scene is replayed a number of times, but from different viewpoints, to give the audience a different understanding of the same events. If done well, it can be genius (see: Rashomon), but if done poorly it can feel repetitive and tiresome.
With mostly positive reviews thus far, it seems that Bad Times at the El Royale has the pizazz to be a real crowd-pleaser, with the potential to be a cult favourite for years to come.
Verdict: We’re excited to check out Bad Times at the El Royale; it looks slick and thrilling and well-worth the price of admission. A potential cult movie for years to come.
Verdict: Zhang Yimou is a man at the top of his game directing what is likely to be the best Asian film of the year. If you’re a fan of Yimou or of the genre, it’d be a crime to miss this.
By Bo Nicholson - Managing Director
Genre: Folk Pop
Label: Universal Music Australia
Listen on Spotify
Kevin Mitchell sits right in the sweet-spot of being one of Australia’s most beloved musicians while many people haven’t even heard of him. Forming ‘Jebediah’ in his teenage years, Mitchell delivered seminal Australian 90s hits with an Indie tinge; Leaving Home is the best-known of their tracks. But Mitchell was more than an angsty kid; he was a songwriter with a softer side. An alter-ego if you will. Hence, the birth of Bob Evans. He used Bob’s profile to stay under the radar when doing local gigs around Perth and to try and remove the expectations that naturally follow any project that Kevin ‘the lead singer of Jebediah’ Mitchell would otherwise have had.
2018 marks 15 years since his first album as Bob; Suburban Kid. As a kind of celebration, he has released Full Circle; a hand-picked collection of his best songs according to him. Not all of these songs are hits, per se, as Bob hasn’t had a lot of commercial success to this point of his career.
Undoubtedly his biggest hit is where we start, with Don’t You Think It’s Time, the lead single from his 2006 magnum opus, Suburban Songbook. Its sugar-sweet optimism atop a harmonica and strummed acoustic guitar tell us that we are in safe hands as we encounter challenges anew. It also tells us that this won’t be a chronological account of Bob’s discography as he tries to construct an album that makes sense from songs that tell a bunch of different stories from different parts of his career.
Immediately there’s a juxtaposition, as the hope and optimism of the opener is replaced with dark nostalgia, as Mitchell expresses his loneliness coming out of his previous album on 2009’s Someone So Much. “I drove down your road searching for I don’t know, I was hoping I might find something I’d left long behind.”
Throughout his career, his Bob Evans persona appears to have become even more authentic than his song-writing under his real name with Jebediah. As Evans, he can lift the lid on his deepest emotions and let them out with a degree of anonymity. He writes songs about where he comes from and about turning over new leaves. He writes songs about loneliness (Someone So Much), the transience of love (the incredible Wintersong), suicidal thoughts (the deceptive Pasha Bulker), political vitriol (Matterfact), as well as love songs to his wife (Sadness & Whiskey) and his first child (Wonderful You). That’s not even mentioning this writer’s personal favourite, Nowhere Without You, a 4 minute slice of pop bliss that Mitchell wrote on a piano that is so sweet and cheerful that you simply can’t help but fall in love with it.
As Evans, Mitchell is forever trying to paint a picture with his words. They aren’t brilliant flourishes, they are real and authentic and focus on the minutiae of a life that is familiar to him and perhaps thousands of fans. Full Circle offers a good summation of the ground that he has covered; of a man who was initially unsure of how to fully express himself to someone becoming increasingly comfortable creating his vision and not hiding behind any walls.
As far as ‘Best Ofs’ go, it’s not the greatest you’ll ever hear. But it’s true to the journey of the artist. To hear Bob Evans at his absolute peak, you need look no further than the masterful Suburban Songbook. For the uninitiated, Full Circle is a good place to start.
Bob Evans is about to tour Australia. He does a great show, so please find a show near you here. Dude is a national treasure.
Bo Nicholson is a Managing Director at The Pioneer Australia, whose favourite Australian album is Suburban Songbook by Bob Evans. He also creates content for Pure Cinema and you can find them on YouTube.
Video by Casey Causley
Written by Bo Nicholson – Managing Editor, Pop Culture
Here at The Pioneer Australia, we are proud to announce that the wonderfully talented Casey Causley will be joining the team and presenting regular video reviews on the latest TV shows and movies that she gets to see.
Casey is a young film reviewer from Perth who is deeply passionate about great story-telling, and that passion comes across in all of her video content, which is available on her YouTube channel.
Casey saw Venom as soon as she could to see if it could rise to the standard of recent Marvel films or if it would stink as much as the trailer suggested it might.
Find out what she thought of the film by clicking on the YouTube link below!
Casey reviews movies, TV shows and also vlogs on her YouTube channel. Check out her content here.
By Bo Nicholson – Managing Editor, Pop Culture
Each week The Pioneer Australia will give you a guide to the films hitting cinemas in Australia. This week we’ll discuss the new Marvel film, a heist film that was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and a drama starring Saoirse Ronan and Elizabeth Moss.
Despite Fleischer making Zombieland and the interesting enough Gangster Squad, and despite having Woody Harrelson and Michelle Williams (both Oscar nominated in the last couple of years) amongst the cast, I just have no faith that this film will rise above the tired tropes of a genre that has well outstayed its welcome in recent years.
Verdict: A charismatic cast and a director capable of finding humour in any situation may find a decent movie amongst this rubble, but I’m not optimistic about that.
Bart Layton’s filmography is filled with documentaries, so this is an interesting direction to take in his directorial career. In truth, this ‘based on a true story’ film probably started out as non-fiction before he realised that it was so ridiculous that he had to turn it into a fictional film.
After impressing audiences and judges at the Sundance Film Festival, it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. All this for a big-screen debut starring a largely unheralded, young cast. Evan Peters gives the film a name it can hang its hat on, but the hype generated is mostly because of the exuberance of the filmmaking, as it should be.
Verdict: It’s nice to have a genuinely exciting and original heist-film to see at the movies. It’s on limited release so make sure you seek it out and enjoy the ride!
Critics have been largely ambivalent about this period-piece about a young woman (Ronan), who becomes infatuated with a local celebrity (Corey Stoll, who played Ernest Hemingway in the wonderful Midnight in Paris), which causes some unrest in the local community. Critics are saying that the film simply doesn’t capture the nuance of Chekhov’s play, instead presenting a fairly bland waltz through a bygone era of romanticism.
Verdict: Seems like a bit of a waste of such a talented cast, but if you’re a fan of period pieces doused in drama and romance, this could be for you!
By Daniel Lang - Managing Director
First episode date: 31 August 2018
Program creators: Roger Black, Waco O'Guin
Stars: Dana Snyder, Cedric Yarbrough, David Herman, Tom Kenny, Sarah Chalke, and Kyle Kinane.
I'm the first to admit that I'm a rather big fan of adult-orientated animation.
From Ricky and Morty and Archer to Bob's Burgers and more traditional offerings like The Simpsons or Family Guy, cartoons either geared directly or indirectly to a more mature audience have made up a large part of my consumed television diet.
I am always open to adding new shows to the mix and while I'm by no means an expert of the critical construction or review of a piece of film or television, I know what I like and I came into Netflix's new show Paradise P.D. with a fair mix of trepidation and expectation.
From what little I had seen before clicking on the first episode and setting off on another journey of discovery, it looked like Paradise P.D. might be a little cruder at the base than was necessary, but as a fan of Anthony Jeselnik or Frankie Boyle, I am not above shock humour or dark jokes.
Picture credit: Daily Motion
That said, the over-the-top dark jokes seemed contrived and managed to force little more than a chuckle here or there as I worked my way through the early episodes.
Sure, there was something here, the basic bones of a decent story and some funny one-liners, but the positives were far too quickly lost in more and more obvious attempts to steal a quick laugh with jokes or setups that offered no meat on the bones and left me feeling as if the whole affair was just a little cheap and nasty.
Whether it's the Police Chief who had his testicles removed by multiple gun shots from his hapless son or said hapless son who becomes an officer himself to the chagrin of his father, or the talking drug dog who consumes all the drugs imaginable or the aggressive female cop who repeatedly sexually assault a large southern man, the character development seems to have stopped pretty early on in the process.
These characters are who we think they are very early on and different situations and side characters do little to change that as the series progresses.
Thankfully, the initial journey that Paradise P.D. takes us on is a relatively short one. With just ten episodes making up the first series, the story arc isn't given the time to develop, though that may not be a genuine issue given the lack of character growth or even likeability through to that point.
Paradise P.D. feels almost entirely aimed at an audience of teenage boys who will laugh willfully and repeatedly at the thought of a man's testicles being shot off and the ever-present danger of him turning into a woman without testosterone patches.
The voice work behind the show is decent enough, with the creators leaning heavily on the crew that voiced their short-lived series Brickleberry previously.
The return of most voice characters and the similarities between many of the characters in Paradise P.D. to Brickleberry goes best without too much discussion. Seemingly, Netflix told the pair they wanted Brickleberry but set in a police station and that's basically what we got.
If you want to sit down, shut your brain off and not think too much, I'd still probably suggest you find something else, but Paradise P.D. will suffice as background noise at the very least.
Have you watched Paradise P.D. yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
By Bo Nicholson - Managing Editor Pop Culture
Picture credit: Caroline Thompson
Looking for a recommendation? Managing Editor Bo Nicholson has your back, with his picks of the week from both Stan and Netflix!
Chasing Amy (1997)
Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams and Jason Lee
Streaming from October 6th
Kevin Smith fans have reason to rejoice as Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Chasing Amy all hit Stan on the same day. While Smith’s debut film, Clerks, earns most of the critical-acclaim Smith receives for its accurate portrayal of slacker culture and lovingly crafted geek references spoken by Dante and Randall, who are both essentially quote machines with the way they pump out well thought-out diatribes, it is Chasing Amy that presents a truly fascinating view of sexuality and love that, despite being made over 20 years ago by a straight, white man, has aged quite well.
Chasing Amy is filled with memorable dialogue, particularly from Jason Lee, who plays homophobic ‘tracer’ Banky Edwards, while Joey Lauren Adams positively steals the show as Alyssa, earning herself a Golden Globe nomination in the process. It’s hilarious, rude, romantic, touching and surprisingly insightful, yet still filled with enough geek references to keep Kevin Smith fans happy. It’s his most complete work, and well-worth your time.
Big Mouth: Season 2
Animated Comedy (Adult)
Starring Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele, Maya Rudolph
Season 1 available now. Season 2 streaming from October 5th
Big Mouth Season 1 is impossibly crude and uncomfortable viewing as it tracks the lives of a bunch of teenagers as they first encounter puberty, which is personified by their very own Hormone Monster, a being that is almost always focussed on sex.
Some pretty interesting territory is covered in the first season, including first loves, first kisses, first times masturbating, first periods (the list, mercilessly, goes on), but beneath the swearing, the sex and the confronting vision of animated teens experiencing these events, there’s a real relatability to Big Mouth.
It certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the way that the show’s writers delicately balance the gross out laughs with the more tender moments is a pretty astonishing tightrope act. I can’t wait to see what Season 2 has in store.
Bo Nicholson is the Managing Editor for Pop Culture at The Pioneer Australia. Despite thinking that he has tremendous taste in all things Pop Culture, he’s ashamed to admit that ‘The OC’ is probably still his favourite TV show to watch and, therefore, asks that you take his opinions with a grain of salt!
By Bo Nicholson - Managing Editor Pop Culture
New Release Music
Release Date: 21 September, 2018
Genre: Hip Hop
Label: Question Everything/ RCA Records
Listen on Spotify
Following on from an excellent 2017 for Hip-Hop group BROCKHAMPTON, on the back of their ‘SATURATION’ trilogy of albums, 2018 promised to be a huge year for the boys from Texas. They promised the release of albums TEAM EFFORT and PUPPY, on the back of signing a multi-million dollar deal with RCA Records and touring the world. Their star was on the rise.
But 2018 brought with it some challenges. Their intended albums were postponed and eventually abandoned after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against vocalist Ameer Vann. The band made the decision to drop Vann in late May, regretting that they had been lied to and that they hadn’t spoken out sooner.
Which brings us to iridescence; a curious name in a lot of ways. Iridescence is when an object appears to be different colours depending on the viewpoint of the observer or how light reflects on the object. They have also dropped the ‘ALL CAPS’ approach to the album title that existed for their previous 3 albums. The absence of Vann, arguably their most gifted vocalist, has clearly shifted the way BROCKHAMPTON want to be seen.
But the truth is that for all of this talk of changing the usual way of operating, iridescence has all of the hallmarks of BROCKHAMPTON that their fans have come to enjoy, starting with the blitzkrieg of ‘NEW ORLEANS’ to set the scene, it’s a wall of sound that gets a party started but begins to outstay its welcome as it nears its conclusion, with a ‘blink and you miss it’ contribution from Jaden Smith. It transitions seamlessly into the next song, ‘THUG LIFE’, which subverts your expectations based on the song title alone to deliver a silky piano line and sweet vocals from the London Community Gospel Choir. It’s sentimental, but never pretentious. Then we’re back into a more bombastic sound with ‘BERLIN’. Sensing a pattern?
The truth is that there are some great moments in this album that either outstay their welcome because of the need to have so many MC’s on the track, or that get lost in the somewhat inconsistent tone of the album. At times it is really aggressive, like on ‘J’OUBERT’, where Joba says “f*ck what you think and f*ck what you’ve heard, I feel betrayed, you can keep the praise, and all of the f*ck shit, need to get away” atop a sample of a Granadian Soca song. The band’s anger is temporary, as only two tracks later, on ‘SAN MARCOS’, they turn introspective, with Joba this time talking about his vulnerabilities; “Suicidal thoughts, but I won’t do it. Take that how you want, it’s important, I admit it. I’m afraid of commitment, don’t know how to fix it.”
With the sincerity and honesty of the MC’s, bonded to the Choir repeating “I want more out of life than this” as the orchestra at Abbey Road studios swells and a piano gently enters the fray; ‘SAN MARCOS’ is exactly what iridescence required to elevate it above the average rap album. Almost every other song is doused in potential only to be unfulfilled because of an errant verse or production that doesn’t evolve the song at the pivotal time.
It’s a good album and an interesting step for BROCKHAMPTON post-Vann; they’ve retained most of their relatability despite their success but they haven’t quite perfected the art of restraint; an essential component when making a truly great album.
Had a chance to listen to iridescence by BROCKHAMPTON yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
By Bo Nicholson - Managing Editor Pop Culture
Each week The Pioneer Australia will give you a guide to the films hitting cinemas in Australia. This week we’ll discuss Kevin Hart’s new comedy, a John Callahan biopic directed by Gus Van Sant, a survival thriller set in the Ice Age, an Argentinian period piece and the highly acclaimed debut film by Xavier Legrand that won the Silver Bear at the Venice Film Festival.
Malcolm D. Lee, director of the successful 2017 comedy Girls Trip, is at the helm and has brought the best thing about that film to Night School; the hilarious Tiffany Haddish. Anything that you can remember about Girls Trip is almost certainly because of Haddish’s talents and she will add some much needed freshness to this premise, which is looking a little tired and dated.
With 6 credited writers we don’t hold out much hope of there being a coherent story to be told, but knowing Hart’s previous material it will surely be an inoffensive feel-good story that references race issues but doesn’t mine into them too deeply.
Verdict: If you’re a Kevin Hart fan or just after a light-hearted, feel-good movie with a bit of a laugh, check out Night School at most cinemas across Australia.
Rooney Mara is a tremendous talent who seems wasted on the sidelines as a one-dimensional well-wisher, while Phoenix looks like he’s in full Oscar-bait mode as he, once again, gives all of himself to the character that he is playing. Expect some buzz around Jonah Hill’s supporting performance.
Callahan was a complicated man who drew his humorous art with an ominous tone and an offensive streak. It’ll be interesting to see if Gus Van Sant can temper the dark comedy elements with the inspiring message many audience members will be wanting to receive.
All of the ingredients are there for this to be one of the best films of the year but we recommend caution with this film, it will be difficult to maintain a consistent tone with this material
Verdict: If they get it right, it’s going to be one of the best of the year. Seems unlikely, though. Manage your expectations, because Callahan’s is a story worth knowing and you can catch Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot on limited release across the major cities.
Along the way they must battle the elements and wild creatures that will threaten the boy, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, a young Australian actor who you may remember as Nightcrawler from X-Men: Apocalypse.
While the film seems to want to raise the stakes and make the story more epic than it deserves to be, it looks beautifully shot and Smit-McPhee is a good talent so we can expect to be well-engaged for the short runtime of 96 minutes.
It’s only rated PG so the scares aren’t likely to be too intense, but maybe think twice before bringing any young children along to the cinema.
Verdict: Reviews are mostly positive and the cinematography looks lush; support a young Australian actor by seeing Alpha at most cinemas across the country.
It’s a little known fact that Argentina have been quietly chipping away for years making some of the best movies in the world, seems we can add Zama to that list.
Verdict: Zama is on an incredibly limited release so if you are lucky enough to have it playing at a cinema near you and you don’t mind watching some subtitles, do yourself a favour!
Starring Lea Drucker and Denis Menochet (from THAT opening scene of Inglourious Basterds) with a performance from young Thomas Gioria that has critics fawning over him, Legrand seems to have found the perfect cast to balance the delicate emotions at play.
Verdict: This film won the Silver Bear at the Venice Film Festival for a reason; we could be seeing the start of one of cinema’s great directorial careers. Custody is in limited release around the country so be sure to check it out.