All posts by John Pollak

John Pollak did Arts and Law at Sydney uni. He practised Law for a short while and went into business. He made too much money for his own good and today is not so much retired as having little to do. He plays tennis and carries the bags for his wife when she goes overseas. When prompted and badgered he does the occasional review. He goes to Ethiopia every now and then and where, with Professor McGuigan of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, he is bringing the Sodis Program for safer water to the Tigray region. When seen in public he is often hunched over a cup of coffee and a foccacio whilst immersed in a diabolical suduko. Or he is driving his wife to bridge.

The Shapeshifter @ The Factory

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THE SHAPESHIFTER is playing at The Factory at 105 Victoria st Marrickville.

The Factory itself is an amazing space. A punk psychedelic industrial minimalist space, harsh and bare yet practical and functional, situated just down the road from Newtown about 20 minutes from Newtown Station.

Josipa Dreisma is a serious actor. She holds an MA in Creative Arts and Theatre Performance. She has studied in both Australia and New York. But in this play she chooses in a number of different scenarios to displays an almost childlike naivety and vulnerability.       

Continue reading The Shapeshifter @ The Factory

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

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Yes, he’s back. It is a more mollified humane Tom Cruise who once again fights the Syndicate and The Establishment. The Syndicate aims for a new world order by upsetting the status quo using acts of terrorism.  The  Establishment, like all establishments, is in complete denial.

This is a super action packed MISSION. And it has something in it for everyone…

For the woman of today, there is Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Fergusen), a double agent thwarted by both her male bosses, -confident, combative and  assertive, an unbelievable bike rider, at times soft and caring, and the very equal of Cruise.

Nerds get a look in with Benjie (Simon Pegg), Cruise’s slightly fumbling yet totally loyal sidekick. The Establishment is ably represented by Alec Baldwin. The ultimate IT expert is an Afro American Luther Strikell, (Ving Rhames) and the Nice Guy is William Brandt (Jeremy Renner). They all up gang up against the Schoolyard Bully, the embodiment of Evil, an Englishman by the name of Soloman Lane (Sean Harris).

Oh, and for good measure Opera Fans get to see a bit of Turandot.

This is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and there are a few laughs on the way. Like all Mission movies the willing suspension of disbelief is required but the audience didn’t seem to mind doing that too much. We all know how a Mission will finish, but this movie has genuine tension and suspense.

It all ends with the heroine driving off in her shiny black BMW convertible, a taut look over her shoulder as she says to Ethan Hunt  “….you know where to find me.”

We saw this movie at the Event cinema in the City, in Atmos Dolby. The sound surround Audio and the slightly curved screen gave the movie great oomph. If you are a Mission devotee or just hanker for some big hearted big deal action cinema go and see it..and see it in Atmos Dolby! And if you are into Rotten Tomatoes the rating is 94%.

The Book Of Kevin @ Gleebooks

Jonas Holt as Tony Abbott browses the eclectic selection of books at Sydney's book haven, Gleebooks.
Inset pic- Jonas Holt as Tony Abbott browses the eclectic selection of books at Sydney’s book haven, Gleebooks. Featured pic- Jonas Holt as Tony Abbott and Nathan Lentern as Kevin Rudd.

It is sometime in the future and to the alarm anathema and angst of the Labour Party Kevin Rudd has decided to return the scene of the crime. At a launch of his book he announces “I’m Kevin and I’m Here to Help”.

It is an extraordinary and an almost oxymoronic proposition and it forms the basis of a one hour political satire. Rudd is played by Nathan Lentern and he does it almost perfectly: Rudd’s sanctimonious expression, and a voice almost querulous as he relives the self  righteous pain of his political assassination. But now he’s moving on. He’s here to help and the audience last night howled with laughter and glee at his predicament at the prospect of his return.

The show is buttressed by an appearance of Bob Carr (again by Nathan Lentern) who advises that his memoirs of a Foreign Minister are better, and his book cheaper that the one written by one “K Rudd”.

Then Mr Abbott himself (Jonas Holt) makes an appearance as he swaggers and struts ape like to the stage, his stature almost bursting his suit. He blinks and lizard like licks his lips as he looks at the audience and characteristically gropes for his words .

The show is admirably held together by an MC (Timothy Hugh Govers).

This is a hilarious performance, and if you are a political aficionado of any shade of pink or blue or grey you will enjoy it.  At the end one is forced to reflect on what a wonderful democracy it is that we live in, that these things can be said and laughed at whichever side of politics you are on.

THE BOOK OF KEVIN played for one night only at Glebebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe. There are three further performances between the 22nd and 24th July at the Rocks Markets Merchant House, 43-45 George Street, The Rocks as part of this years’ Rocks Pop Up season. Tickets only $15 and $12 concession.

The Dog/The Cat @ Belvoir Street Downstairs

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Production photography by Brett Boardman

This is a comic play and it is excellent.

It  is in two parts: one written by Brendan Cowell (Dog Part) and the other by Lally Katz (Cat Part)

They are both prominent in Australian theatre. Cowell lives in downtown Newtown and Katz is one of Melbourne’s great comedic playwrights. She is also a great actress, though she doesn’t appear in her play.

The play has  three actors and the performance by the two men, Xavier Samuel and Benedict Hardie, deserve the highest superlatives. Andrea Demetriades is also darn good.     Continue reading The Dog/The Cat @ Belvoir Street Downstairs

Woman In Gold

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Inset pic- Confiscated. The painting was taken from the owners home during World War 2 and turned over to the Austrian Government. Featured pic- Gustav Klim’s 1907 painting ‘Portrait Of Adele Bloch’ (Wikipedia Commons)

In the heart of New York in famous Fifth Avenue is Die Neue Gallerie. It houses a portrait by Gustav Klimt of Adele Bloch Bauer a  beautiful Austrian Jewess.

This movie is about how this, one of Austria’s most famous paintings, came to  America. It was sold by Marie Altman , Bloch Bauer’s niece, to the Gallery for $135m on the condition it be on permanent display. An onerous condition without which she could have got a much higher price. Continue reading Woman In Gold

Mad Max: Fury Road

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FURY ROAD, as everyone is aware, is part of the Mad Max /Kennedy Miller franchise.

Miller is a qualified medico from the tiny town of Chinchilla in Queensland. His original surname was Miliotis and his family were Greek post war immigrants to Australia.

Miller is a cinematic genius with a broad oeuvre which includes Babe and Happy Feet . We all remember the original Mad Max, made over 40 years ago, played by a tortured Mel Gibson. The film was a masterpiece and achieved cult status. Miller captured a post apocalyptic surreal world starved of warmth and compassion and populated by zombie humans. Cinema-goers  had never seen anything quite like it. Continue reading Mad Max: Fury Road

Focus

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This is a great movie. This is one of those rarities whose appeal cuts across all ages. Take your son/grandson  daughter/granddaughter  best mate/ girlfriend to it. You will love it. They will love it. 

 

Wiil Smith stars in it, with Margot Robbie. She stumbles across him in a bar and joins his merry band of thieves and con men. Robbie is blond and blue eyed and originally from the Gold coast. She is pure sunlight and sparkle in this story. A young Grace Kelly who can act intelligently and with nuance. A bimbo she ain’t. Her American accent is flawless and she brings elegance style and joie de vivre to the part.

 

Will Smith is her mentor and they fall in love. Only Will Smith doesn’t realize it, or maybe he does and doesn’t want to get involved. He dumps her and they accidentally meet up three years later. Robbie is wearing a drop dead gorgeous red dress with the most incredible hairstyle.

Continue reading Focus