Checklist for an Armed Robber - Stooged Theatre

Checklist for an Armed Robber – Stooged Theatre

Angie Diaz and Callan Purcell in Checklist for an Armed Robber - Stooged Theatre
Angie Diaz and Callan Purcell in  CHECKLIST FOR AN ARMED ROBBERY- Stooged Theatre

Terrorism – the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. This highly emotive noun evokes strong responses in our current political climate and Stooged Theatre’s production of Vanessa Bates CHECKLIST FOR AN ARMED ROBBER resonates with the passions and desperate thinking that hurtles individuals and groups into extreme acts of aggression. What does it take to motivate individuals and groups to perform acts of terror involving innocent and unwilling victims?

Set in October 2002, the script was inspired by newspaper stories: one, known as the Nord-Orst siege, where an Islamist Chechen group took over 800 theatre patrons at the Debrovka theatre in Moscow for 3 days, demanding Russian troops leave Chechnya and end the war. The other was an attempted robbery of a single young female shop assistant in a bookshop in Newcastle. Continue reading

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Bodies of Thought

Kirsty Ayr in FLOW. Pic by Artur Radeki
A pic from a production of Gideon Obarzanek’s early work, GLOW. Pic by Artur Radeki. A pic taken from Gary Stewart’s work DEVOLUTION

BODIES OF THOUGHT:- Twelve Australian Choreographers- Edited by Erin Brannigan and Virginia Baxter

Beautifully presented , lavishly illustrated with lots of glorious photos, BODIES OF THOUGHT looks at twelve award winning Australian  choreographers who have international reputations and have created influential legacies. The choreographers featured are : Kate Champion, Rosalind Crisp , Tess De Quincey ,Russell Dumas, Lucy Guerin, Sue Healey, Helen Herbertson, Gideon Obarzanek , Stephen Page , Gary Stewart , Meryl Tankard and Ros Warby .

It is interesting to note that in this case women outnumber men and that almost if not all the choreographers have held the position of Artistic Director, often of their own company. Continue reading

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Force Majeure

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The sheer force of the mountain of masculinity cops a scouring in the scathing Swedish film FORCE MAJEURE.

When a controlled avalanche looks like it’s going to wipe out a resort in a tsunami of snow, the father of a family flees leaving the mother to fend for herself and their two children.

When the ice mist settles and it’s apparent that any danger was perceived rather than real, all are relieved that nobody perished, but the pall of abandonment and cowardice pervades the couple’s relationship. Continue reading

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Calibre Prize Now Open

The Australian Book Review, Australia’s oldest and premiere literary publication, welcomes entries in the ninth Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay, Australia’s premier prize for a non-fiction essay.

All essayists writing in English are eligible, regardless of where they live. Entrants are encouraged to use the publications’ online entry system.

Essays must be between 3,000 and 7,000 words and must be written in English.

Judges: Delia Falconer and Peter Rose

Deadline for entries is 19 January 2015

First Prize: $5,000 and publication in Australian Book Review

Visit the Australian Book Review’s website on http://www.australianbookreview.com.au for more details.

Editor Peter Rose has requested that  writers read the Frequently Asked Questions page carefully before submitting their entry.

 

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Planet Of The Apes (1968)

Charlton Heston takes on the apes in the legendary movie series
Charlton Heston takes on the apes in the legendary movie series

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) comes out on both DVD and Blu-ray next month and, if too many monkeys are never enough, 20th Century Fox are also releasing a new box-set entitled (for no entirely clear reason) Caesar’s Warrior Collection, featuring all eight films in the series – Planet Of The Apes (1968), Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970), Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971), Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972), Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973), Planet Of The Apes (2001), Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011) and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) – all in High Definition and specially packaged in a Caesar bust sporting his penetrating simian stare.

Superficially childish, but in many ways very grown-up, was the original Planet Of The Apes (1968), one of the two commercial American-made science fiction blockbusters that year, the other being Charly (1968) starring Cliff Robertson. The French had a hand in this as well, for it was based on Monkey Planet, a rather ordinary satirical novel by the popular French novelist Pierre Boulle, author of Bridge On The River Kwai (1957).

The director, Franklin J. Schaffner, probably had no real affinity with science fiction, though he later made another science fiction movie, The Boys From Brazil.

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Retro Review- The Matrix

Lawrence Fishburne and above Keanu Reeves in THE MATRIX
Lawrence Fishburne and above Keanu Reeves in THE MATRIX

Every month the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace at 380 Military Road Cremorne) holds ‘I ♥ Retro’ sessions featuring some of the best blockbusters of the last several decades.

At 7pm on Friday the 24th of October, the Hayden Orpheum intends to blow our minds with THE MATRIX (1999), an American-Australian science fiction action film that walked away with four Oscars, two BAFTAs and two Saturn Awards.

It has become increasingly popular to bemoan the path of progress, a path that has fallen short of the glorious expectations of post-WWII Popular Science magazines and the like, which predicted a future in which commuters would fly to work using jet packs or tele-operate lunar bulldozers from the comfort of their robot-cleaned homes. Continue reading

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PLAYING ROCK HUDSON at the Tap

Paul Dawson as Rock Hudson and Mark Taylor as Marc Christian. Pic Ann Marie Calihanna
Paul Dawson as Rock Hudson and Mark Taylor as Marc Christian. Pic Ann Marie Calihanna

A new Australian play depicts the mystery and controversy surrounding the final years of cinematic icon Rock Hudson.

One of America’s most popular movie stars throughout the fifties and sixties, Rock Hudson died of AIDS in 1985, making world headlines as the first celebrity to publicly succumb to the disease.

“PLAYING ROCK HUDSON is not another celebrity biography, but rather a close look at the final days of Rock Hudson’s life, the events that followed his death, and the impact they had on his image and society in general,” says playwright and co-director Cameron Lukey. Continue reading

(left ti right) Fiona Press, Madeleine Benson, Susan Prior, Nat Randall, Genevieve Giuffre. Pic Brett Boardman

Is This Thing On?

Susan Prior as one of five Brianna's in Is This Thing On? Pic Brett Boardman
Susan Prior as one of five Brianna’s in Is This Thing On? Pic above The five versions of Brianna- from left to right Fiona Press, Madeleine Benson, Susan Prior, Nat Randall, Genevieve Giuffre

Aged between 15 and 50, five women share the stage at Belvoir Downstairs at the moment. No, that’s not quite right. Five performers share the stage as one woman. No, that’s not quite right either. They are all the one character. And they don’t really share the stage, they coexist on it. Actually, there’s a lot of beer in this production, I may be confused.

IS THIS THING ON, directed by Kit Brookman & Zoë Coombs Marr, is the story of Brianna. Misnamed by a long gone mother for the song ‘Rhiannon’, she has a misplaced drive to make people laugh. We meet her 15 year old self at her first stand up gig: a misfit staring into the spotlight. Things don’t improve much as we meet her at about 20, 30 and 40. Or when we encounter her 50ish self, trying to make a comeback after a spectacular implosion. This a convoluted and time shifted production with these 5 Briannas co-existing and interacting with each other. Continue reading

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SITCO to leave Old Fitz

In happier days- Garry Pasfield (middle), the proprietor of the Old Fitzroy Hotel, with Co-Artistic Directors of the Old Fitz theatre, David Jeffrey and Julie Baz. Pic Emily Watson
Happier times- Garry Pasfield (middle), the proprietor of the Old Fitzroy Hotel, with Co-Artistic Directors of the Sydney Independent Theatre Company, David Jeffrey and Julie Baz. Pic Emily Watson

Co-Artistic Directors of the Sydney Independent Theatre Company (SITCO), David Jeffrey and Julie Baz, have announced that they will be ending their residency at the Old Fitzroy Theatre at the end of this year.

On the announcement on their Facebook page they thanked Robert Allan, SITCO’s Artistic Associate for his contributions, along with the many independent theatre practitioners who they have worked in tandem with to program and stage over 30 productions.

Their thanks also extends to the many staff and locals at the Old Fitz who they have been so helpful including Kristine and Mike Ballard, Cherilyn Price, Richard Hilliar, Katy Green Loughrey, Larry Kelly, Dino Dimitriadis and the Arts Platform.

Most importantly, they thank the many theatregoers around Sydney who have come to see one or indeed many of the shows performed at the theatre.

Theatregoers still have the opportunity to visit the venue till the end of the year.

Currently playing is Red Line Productions, in association with Strange Duck Productions’, HOWIE THE ROOKIE by Mark O’Rowe- (review on the site by Richard Cotter). HOWIE THE ROOKIE is followed by Fly on the Wall Theatre’s production of Alex Broun’s NOVEMBER SPAWNED A MONSTER and Copanirvana Theatre Co’s V.D. by Pete Malicki.

The final production of the year will be a SITCO production, in association with Talk Faster Productions and Harlos Production’s, Kieran Carroll and Angelika Fremd’s THE LES ROBINSON STORY & BELLE OF THE CROSS.

SITCO is keen to grow on the experience gained at the Old Fitz and is looking in to setting up a new independent theatre venue, something which the Sydney theatre scene could well do with.Here’s hoping!

Before I go to Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep

before i go to sleep

Amnesia is the gift that keeps on giving for filmmakers, from 1945’s sublime Spellbound to the ridiculous but fun 50 First Dates of 2004 via a host of others including Guy Pearce’s 2000 Memento, a poster of which turned up on a teenage girl’s bedroom door in the recent French TV drama The Returned.

The latest director to have a go at tapping into this bounty is Rowan Joffe, whose BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP stars Nicole Kidman as Christine, the thirties something wife of a schoolteacher living in a London suburb. Continue reading

before i go to sleep

Before I Go To Sleep

Nicole Kidman takes a selfie to keep herself awake during this dreary movie

Before you go to sleep in your cinema chair watching BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP, you might witness Nicole Kidman waking up to Colin Firth and having no memory of him being her husband or, presumably starring with him in a far, far better film called The Railway Man.

You see, after she goes to sleep, she loses all memory of the day before. Has she been sleeping with Guy Pearce and he has given her a memento? We wish.

After dull hubby has scurried off to work, Nicole gets a phone call from her doctor, played by Mark Strong, telling her she won’t remember him, but to go to the closet and find a box that contains prompts that will remind her of her therapy so far. Continue reading

Liam Neeson

A Walk Amongst The Tombstones

Liam Neeson as private eye Matt Scudder and Brian 'Astro' Bradley as teenage artist, TJ
Liam Neeson as private eye Matt Scudder and Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley as teenage artist, TJ

Writer director Scott Frank is a detective fiction aficionado who has carved a career out of adapting the cream of contemporary American hard boiled literature.

His screenplay for Get Shorty was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Next, Frank wrote the screenplay for Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard. For Out of Sight, Frank was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Adapted Screenplay and won a WGA Award. Frank’s additional screenplays include Heaven’s Prisoners based on the novel by James Lee Burke.

His latest film, A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, is an adaptation of Lawrence Block’s novel, with the main character  Matt Scudder, played by Liam Neeson.

The film begins in 1991 and Matt Scudder, NYPD officer is having a sly grog in a shady speakeasy when a sleazy trio walk in and shoot the barman dead. Scudder pursues them like a scud missile locked on target, blazing away and blasting them to bits.

Fast forward to 1999 and Matt Scudder is now an unlicensed private investigator and recovering alcoholic.

He hasn’t had a drop since he dropped those three deadbeats. One of his acquaintances at AA meetings, a young substance abuser and artist, Peter Kristo, implores Scudder to help his brother, Kenny, a drug dealer, whose wife has been kidnapped and murdered.

Scudder’s investigations reveal a pattern that links the crime with previous cases, including the murder of a female police officer whose missing files are fueling further foul deeds by a duo of sadistic, misogynist serial killers.

A WALK AMONGST THE TOMBSTONES is classic film noir, with a damaged hero, tons of money, a nefarious nemesis, unusual suspects and a sassy sidekick.

Indeed, the most meaningful relationship within the film is the one between Scudder and TJ, the homeless teenage artist whom the ex-cop meets in the library at the beginning of his investigation. On his own since his mother left him at the hospital during another bout with a debilitating illness, TJ has had to fend for himself for much too long.

Much to Scudder’s chagrin, TJ goes from research partner to a key ally in tracking down the killers. Playing the role of the aspiring junior detective is rapper Brian “Astro” Bradley, whose repartee with Liam Neeson as Scudder are worth the price of admission.

Skiting his superior scriptwriting skills, Scott Frank condenses, concertinas and expands the book, positioning aspects of Scudder’s fall from grace and his long road to redemption that are detailed in the series of volumes penned by Lawrence Block, into this particular narrative, nourishing Neeson’s splendid characterisation.

The plotting is well paced, and the dialogue delicious, eliciting laugh out loud moments that any comedy would envy. First class casting combined with premium production values makes A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES a jaunt worth joining.

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Joshua Robson wins Rob Guest Endowment Award

Joshua Robson
Joshua Robson takes out the major award at the 6th annual Gala Concert

The winner of the 2014 Rob Guest Endowment Award was announced tonight at a glamourous Gala Concert at the  Capitol Theatre, Sydney.

Competing against five other outstanding Semi-Finalists with his performance of Soliloquy  from Carousel and Let Me Dream, Joshua Robson took out the prestigious award after being chosen by an expert panel of judges, which included Nancye Hayes, Todd McKenney and Guy Simpson.

Presented by ANZ and hosted by Bert Newton with Lucy Durack, the glamourous event, which is now is its 6th year, featured performances by 2013 winner Samantha Leigh Dodemaide, Kirby Burgess, Bobby Fox, The Tap Pack, Swing On This, Eddie Muliaumaseali’l, Oscar and Joshua Han, and cast members from Wicked and Strictly Ballroom The Musical. Continue reading

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Spielberg Collection: Jurassic Park (1993)

Dinosaurs running amok in JURASSIC PARK
Dinosaurs running amok in JURASSIC PARK

By the early nineties Steven Spielberg had established his position as the preeminent Hollywood director, but his films over the previous decade had largely decayed into cloying cuteness and overblown sentimentality.

So the buzz that Spielberg had secured the rights to Michael Crichton’s exciting novel JURASSIC PARK (published 1990) did not settle well with fans (cuddly dinosaurs speaking in childlike voices?) but anyone emerging from a cinema after the two-hour screening must have felt that dinosaurs were truly walking the earth. Spielberg was back in form – Jurassic Park (1993) wasn’t just good, it was Jaws (1975) good!

JURASSIC PARK tells of one man’s dream to create a unique game preserve on a remote jungle island near Costa Rica. Billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has amassed a core group of experts who have discovered how to genetically engineer live dinosaurs from their fossilised DNA remains found in the blood of prehistoric mosquitos encased in amber, and has populated his scientific Disneyland with long-extinct breeds of dangerous carnivores. Continue reading

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Steven Spielberg: Director’s Collection

Steven Spielberg: The Master In Action
Steven Spielberg: The Master In Action

Eight memorable films from one of the most acclaimed directors in cinema history come together for the first time ever in the Steven Spielberg Director’s Collection Blu-ray box set to be released on the 24th October by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

The package includes a treasure trove of extras like a 58-page book on the visionary director’s career, featuring rare photos, archival materials, hours of bonus features with making-of documentaries, behind the scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, archival footage and interviews with Spielberg himself.

Since beginning his long and distinguished career on the Universal backlot more than forty years ago, Spielberg has gone on to direct an unprecedented number of some of the biggest box office hits and critically-acclaimed films in cinematic history. Continue reading

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The Spielberg Collection: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

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Spielberg’s vision of childhood – innocent and open, unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, with triumphs and traumas which adults find incomprehensible – can be found in much of his work. But it had its fullest, most plangent treatment in a comparatively modest little film called E.T THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982) which became the most popular film ever made within a few weeks of its release.

Spielberg, not a conscious intellectual, would probably be sarcastic about comparisons with the poet William Wordsworth but, for both, the world of childhood is central to their vision of adult life. Wordsworth quite simply saw children as being closer to God than is possible for grown-ups, and the actual process of growing up he saw as a slow corruption and darkening of their vision. To be an adult is to have lost not just one’s innocence but also one’s joy. Wordsworth called it The Vision Splendid: “At length the man perceives it die away, and fade into the light of common day.” To grow up is to become confined: “Shades of the prison-house begin to close, upon the growing boy.” Continue reading

The Spielberg Collection: Duel

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Steven Spielberg has been hailed as a latter-day Disney, another Irving Thalberg, a Sam Goldwyn-type who can talk straight. Actually, he’s more like the Ronald McDonald of movies, a chap who’s able to take the same old basic ingredients and make them palatable to an enormous number of people.

His name came to public notice in a modest way with his first feature DUEL (1971) which was made for American television and broadcast in November 1971. It was not his first professional work, however. He had tried to enter the film school at the University of Southern California on the basis of amateur movies he had made, including his two-hour-long science fiction film Firelight. He failed. They had accepted George Lucas, John Milius, and were about to accept John Carpenter, but they would not take young Spielberg. But eventually, at the age of 21, after haunting the lot at Universal Studios and making a 35mm documentary about hitchhiking called Amblin’ he was given a job as one of three directors making a television pilot for a new series called Night Gallery.

In 1971 he had seven separate episodes for various television series broadcast, but DUEL - which was an actual full-length movie and not just an episode of something – was what caught people’s eyes. There was no immediate excitement – although DUEL was well received by both critics and audiences alike, it was not until 1973 that it gained release as a cinema film in Europe and Australia with added footage, increasing its duration from 74 minutes to 90 minutes. That was when it started winning festival prizes and rave reviews, and suddenly Spielberg’s career really took off.

DUEL is a text-book example of the Monster Movie – one of the best ever made – with a very unusual monster, a large rather decrepit-looking semi-trailer truck. The script was by the Richard Matheson, based on his own short story originally published in Playboy magazine.

Matheson was responsible for scripting a record number of unforgettable genre hits which include The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), The House Of Usher (1960), The Pit And The Pendulum (1961), Burn Witch Burn (1962), Tales Of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), Comedy Of Terrors (1963), The Devil Rides Out (1968), The Legend Of Hell House (1973), What Dreams May Come (1998), as well as made-for-television movies like Trilogy Of Terror (1975) and The Night Stalker (1972). Matheson also scripted sixteen immortal episodes of Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone series, and I’d bet at least a quarter of The Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror stories are also inspired by Matheson’s writings!

Dennis Weaver plays the man in DUEL whose car is repeatedly attacked for no particular reason by a truck he has overtaken. It is definitely the truck that is the ‘monster’ and not its driver, who is never fully seen. It is the truck itself that seems malevolent, its headlights like the glowing eyes of some great dinosaur as it lurks in ambush, its engines like the growling of some vast beast.

The film has virtually no dialogue, it is pure cinema brilliantly edited, about an ordinary man-in-the-street (like most of Spielberg’s heroes), being driven to the brink of madness by a violent attack out of no-where. The idea of horror erupting out of normality is basic to the Monster Movie, and it has rarely been done better.

Even the ending has its own wonderful logic, when the truck finally leaps voraciously, not on Weaver but his car, and goes over a cliff in the attempt: In the one moment of overt horror, the truck utters a bellowing death-cry as it plunges to its doom.

Spielberg made two more feature-length movies for television: Something Evil (1972), about the possession of a young girl, and Savage (1973) was a run-of-the-mill private eye story. Both were competent, neither was extraordinary, and neither received cinema release. But after the overseas success of DUEL, he was given a cinema feature to direct: Sugarland Express (1974) starring Goldie Hawn and William Atherton as the jailbird couple on the run in an effort to save their baby boy from being adopted. Well-made and sentimental, it quietly sank out of sight due to poor promotion. Next on Spielberg’s ‘To Do’ list was the box-office record-breaker Jaws (1975) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Spielberg’s biggest hits remain those that tell of unearthly wonders from a child’s point of view – like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – or at least from the point of view of the child within – like Jurassic Park (1993). When he tries to break out of this familiar formula, he is usually criticised for doing so.  For instance, his first attempt at a non-fantastic film resulted in The Colour Purple (1985) which was accused of sanitising Alice Walker’s original novel and deemed a failure by many critics.

However, when Spielberg works within his formula, he has unparalleled success, and almost single-handedly given Hollywood’s special effects industry a huge boost.

What with giant dinosaurs, alien visitors, temples of doom and the like, DUEL is the least complicated film Spielberg would ever make, however it still plays very powerfully today.

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Harvest at The New

Louise Fischer's HARVEST at the New Theatre. Pic Bob Seary
Louise Fischer’s HARVEST at the New Theatre. Pic Bob Seary

Neither silk purse nor sow’s ear, New Theatre’s production of Richard Bean’s HARVEST turns up a few entertaining truffles in this shambling, sprawling family saga.

HARVEST maps a century of struggle for the Harrisons, Yorkshire pig farmers, whose patch of piggery was won from the local squire by a canny ancestor.

The play begins at beginning of the First World War with the current sty councillors, William and Albert, battling it out over which one should sign up for the great adventure. Continue reading

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Predestination

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Brothers, can you spare a paradigm?

Look, all you zombies, there’s a game changer in the retro time travel movie genre and it’s been made right here.

Written and directed by the Spierig Brothers, Michael and Peter, who freshened up the vampire genre a few years ago with Daybreakers, PREDESTINATION is a marvelous head trip that taunts, intrigues, entertains and thrills.

Continue reading

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Iconic A Cappella at the House

Melissa Kenny and some of the Soulfood team
Melissa Kenny and some of her Soulfood team

Brainchild of Melissa Kenny, ( B.Mus. in composition at the University of Sydney, Diploma of Jazz Studies in trombone at the Sydney Conservatorium), we’re told: Soulfood is the finest a cappella group in Sydney and possibly Australia with an impressive list of awards and noted performances to date.” So, with high expectations last night, we went along to the Opera House Studio to see them celebrate their 10th birthday with their performance of ICONIC A CAPPELLA.

We were not disappointed; try transported, delighted, entertained from start to finish!

We were treated to selections from their song list of over 80 fabulous popular hits including songs from genres like Motown, Soul, and 80s classics, and artists from Stevie Wonder and Abba, Burt Bacharach and Otis Redding, to Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy and Sting, Pharrell Williams and Nick Cave. Continue reading

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