Top Pick \ Music
New French rock
Recent months have seen a run of remarkable albums by French rock acts. Take E Volo Love (Domino) by Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains. There’s no sign here of the expected soft rock or quirky electro. Instead, this is gently unpredictable, summery rock, more influenced by Afropop than Edith Piaf.
Just as surprising is Camille’s ilo veyou (Virgin). Fresh and playful, the record is bookended by a pair of striking à capella pieces. Skipping back and forwards between French and English, Camille also hops with ease across genre bounds. Pop, rock, funk and drunken singalongs all feature — the latter, Allez Allez Allez, threatening to collapse into a blazing row. It’s a truly remarkable, often stunning record that truly sounds like nothing else on offer.
Finally, Air return this month with a soundtrack to Georges Méliès’ classic silent flick Le Voyage Dans Le Lune (EMI).
Now leaning more to rock than dance, their latest effort isn’t an easy listen. There’s still much to impress, but I suspect the album works best when paired with the visuals that inspired it.
Robert McBride & Debbie Ryan
ABC 1, Tuesday
February 28, 10pm
Architects are the true artists in this engaging new doco. As likeable as they are, there’s still a hint of diva-ness to acclaimed husband-and-wife team Robert McBride and Debbie Ryan. When a client suggests a less-outlandish colour scheme, Ryan says it “would make me cry to have to do that to our building”. The pair’s work has always verged on the controversial; they’ve just been awarded for an “origami” building inspired by an impossible bottle, and on the drawing boards are structures based on infinity symbols and Chinese dragons. However, it’s wonderful
to see the pair pour so much passion into what might be seen
as a dry profession.
NATIONAL PLAY FESTIVAL
The Malthouse, February 22-25
A selection of new Australian plays are showcased this week, alongside talks designed to inspire artists and audiences alike. Festival-goers will be able to sample polished readings from some of the country’s most innovative playwrights or engage in discussions with an impressive range of local and international industry figures.
Released Thursday February 23,
Rated MA15+, 91 min
Stark and pitch-black, this acclaimed directing debut from actor Paddy Considine is a surprisingly tender portrait of life in a hellish world. Joseph (Peter Mullan) is an unemployed drunk, seething with impotent rage. Booted from a council-estate pub after yet another binge, he takes out his anger on his one true friend – killing his dog.
This transgression seems to make Joseph newly aware of his grim surroundings. He befriends Hannah (Olivia Colman), an op-shop worker with an abusive, jealous husband. Their friendship doesn’t trigger much in the way of transformation or triumph, but love is clearly never going to conquer all in a place like this.
Considine is more interested in how far humans need to be pushed before they lash out at those that beat them down. Still, this unexpected connection allows both characters to enjoy small moments of kindness and understanding.
In a uniformly impressive cast, Colman is astonishing. Hannah is a woman clinging to dignity in the most undignified of circumstances. The damage we glimpse beneath her eyes as she attempts to forgive her violent husband is truly heartbreaking.
Certainly, it’s a world the viewer is keen to escape. But what is most remarkable is that, when the credits role, the bleakness doesn’t linger. In the midst of all this darkness, it is the few glimmers of light that shine most memorably.
Listening \ Chairlift’s Something. This electro/rock duo stole hearts at the recent Laneway Festival.
Watching \ OSS 117. The team behind The Artist sharpened their retro skills on these pitch-perfect parodies of ’60s James Bond. Like Austin Powers but a bit edgier and much, much cleverer.
Avoiding \ Extremely Loud and
Incredibly Close. This profoundly irritating, sentimental take on the acclaimed novel stretches both credulity and patience.