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Issue 2, 2016

Places

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News

  • Weir House too turnt

  • Thursdays in Black

  • Miniscule raise to the minimum wage

  • Harassment is not fucking cool

  • Humdingers

  • Karori gets down with the cool kids

  • Eye on the exec: Buckle up! “Sick collabs” with NZUSA on their way

  • $15 billion debt day nauseatingly successful

  • Features

  • Aral-Sea,-Uzbekistan-2-web

    Between East and West

    Bored in Kelburn library before an exam in 2014, former Salient co-editors Molly McCarthy and Ollie Neas scanned a map for places they knew nothing about. They opened their web browser and typed in “Turkmenistan.” One year later, they found themselves in unusual territory, responding to friends’ queries that were less “Can you send me […]

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  • trumbling-illustration-web

    Trumbling Yearns South

    After nine months of living in Wellington, and one month before returning home to England, Robert Yates went southward. Into the depths of the South Island he ventured, finding the kind of south only few get to know, full of snow and mountain peaks and harsh winds, taking with him a journal and determination. Part […]

    by

  • Aral-Sea,-Uzbekistan-2-web

    Between East and West

    Bored in Kelburn library before an exam in 2014, former Salient co-editors Molly McCarthy and Ollie Neas scanned a map for places they knew nothing about. They opened their web browser and typed in “Turkmenistan.” One year later, they found themselves in unusual territory, responding to friends’ queries that were less “Can you send me […]

    by

  • trumbling-illustration-web

    Trumbling Yearns South

    After nine months of living in Wellington, and one month before returning home to England, Robert Yates went southward. Into the depths of the South Island he ventured, finding the kind of south only few get to know, full of snow and mountain peaks and harsh winds, taking with him a journal and determination. Part […]

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • In Defense of New Zealand Reality Television

    Last week Jordan Mauger was announced as the new star of TV3’s The Bachelor; the same week a casting call was put out for applicants of New Zealand’s version of Survivor. 2015 saw the first season of our own version of Come Dine With Me, and it stirred up an unfamiliar feeling deep in my heart—patriotism.

    While many loathe reality TV, and view it as vapid and superficial, I see each episode as a unique psychological experiment, an opportunity to see into the minds of people outside your own experiences and ideals. While every American reality show has exaggerated outlandish characters fighting for their 15 minutes of fame, New Zealand’s just a bit too bloody chill and humble for that, and the laid-back Kiwi spirit allows for our truly odd personality quirks to shine.

    On last year’s Come Dine With Me one contestant brought a different animal body part of increasing size to each dinner; culminating in her arriving brandishing a decapitated pig head on the last night. Another week one woman had no tables or plates (by choice), and made the group huddle around a small, squat coffee table eating food straight off cork placemats. The first season of The Bachelor saw several women walk off the show; including one who did not think bachelor Art Green was enough of a thrill seeker for her because he didn’t share her fantasy of holidaying in the Middle East, “listening to guns going off around us.” I was ready to hate both these shows, but the idea that these weirdos all live in my country ended up making me feel proud.  

    I often take New Zealand for granted and worry we’re all a bit boring, but our low-budget US reality spin-offs truly give me hope. And hopefully you can catch me on Survivor this year because I’ve just sent off my application.

     

    Top Five TV Theme Songs

    5. “Supermodels” —Kendall Payne (Popular, 1999)
    Popular is a criminally underrated gem, but hopefully you remember it from its 7:30pm Friday night slot on old channel 4. The theme song is fluffy and ridiculous, but contrasts so well with how surreal and bizarre the show was. It’s stupid catchy and a great sing-a-long. Kendall Payne is a pastor now. Huh.

    4. “The X-Files” —Mark Snow (The X-Files, 1993)
    Completely iconic, super spooky, and in conjunction with the opening credits it perfectly captures the spirit of a 90s GeoCities webpage about conspiracy theories. The X-Files theme really sets a standard and is instantly recognizable. Great to sing after walking into a room and turning the light off.

    3. “Buffy Theme” —Nerf Herder (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1997)
    Buffy was my feminist role model growing up and the theme by Nerf Herder guided me towards pop-punk as a preteen. I never ever skip the credits for Buffy because this song gets me amped up so much and I head bang along to it like a dweeb. You can now find lead singer Parry Gripp on YouTube with such videos as “Chimpanzee Riding on a Segway.”

    2. “California” —Phantom Planet (The OC, 2003)
    EVERYONE knows this theme song. It represents the whole teen dramedy television genre. It’s overwhelmingly sincere, just like every teenager is before they become adults and die inside. Did you know Jason Schwartzman played the drums in Phantom Planet? CALIFORNIAAAAAAA.

    1. “Theme of Law & Order: SVU” —Mike Post (Law & Order: SVU, 1999)
    I love this damn theme song. I love it. I sing along to it every episode and it’s an instrumental. Words cannot describe the genius of the SVU theme. It is art. I want it as my phone ring tone and I want my text tone to be the DUN DUN.

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  • Breathe in, breathe out. Click, and begin.

    Grosse Fatigue by Camille Henrot
    City Gallery Wellington
    Closes March 16, 2016


    “In the beginning there was no earth, no water—nothing. There was a single hill called Nunne Chaha.

    In the beginning everything was dead.

    In the beginning there was nothing; nothing at all. No light, no life, no movement no breath.

    In the beginning there was an immense unit of energy.

    In the beginning there was nothing but shadow and only darkness and water and the great god Bumba.

    In the beginning were quantum fluctuations.”

    —Grosse Fatigue by Camille Henrot


     

    Let’s start with blue. Blue, the colour of the heavens. The uninterrupted bottom of the ocean. Yves Klein blue. The infinite. The blue of street signs and police uniforms. Ultramarine and facebook. Midnight or royal?

    In the beginning there are blue walls and blue carpet. It is in this blue room that the video essay Grosse Fatigue by Camille Henrot attempts to tell the history, or rather histories, of the universe. Weaving together creation stories and mythology from religious and oral traditions with scientific details, the resulting narrative is a desperate and fanatic account of origin.

    The blue is fitting, calming, and all encompassing. It recalls both infinite knowledge and wealth, law and order. From the beginning, images start to appear upon a cosmic background, the cliched kind that comes with a brand new Mac. A steady heartbeat of a rhythm accompanies the narrator, who in the style of spoken word poetry, recites the journey from nothing, through birth, chaos, and towards a violent relaxation.

    The work is the result a residency at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Filmed footage of corridors, drawers, and specimens are layered with found images and disparate references. Space leggings are compared to Jackson Pollock, indigenous artifacts are (dis)placed on Pantone backdrops by hands with candy painted nails. Framed within pop-up-windows and computer interactions, the layering of imagery dissolves cultural contexts and systems of categorisation into an onslaught of idiosyncratic juxtapositions.

    It is an almost mocking tone that the narrator vocalises, “and God said, let there be light!” Henrot acknowledges she is interested in the guilt of anthropology, in the destruction that accompanies the ways in which Western society has historically gathered and collected objects. Grosse Fatigue places violence as part of both the creation of the world and the creation of the world’s recorded history. As cultural objects are re-archived into Henrot’s network of images, her emphasis on the formal properties of colour, line, and shape, as a means of connecting information, further dislocates these objects from their own histories. Instead, Henrot creates a mirror for our current climate of information onslaught. It is a process all too familiar, seeing a million search windows and applications open on a single screen in the naive hope that if all is seen, understanding will follow. The internet may place the world at our fingertips, but it is a world of snapshots filtered through predetermined algorithms and intentions.

     

    What’s on

    River of Fundament

    A film by Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler

    March 19, 8.00pm

    Adam Art Gallery, as part of the New Zealand Festival

    http://www.festival.co.nz/

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  • No small ideas in the Company of Giants

    Whangarei’s Company of Giants is getting set to sweep us away with it’s magical rendition of the classic “The Owl and the Pussycat”. Ophelia sat down with the owl, played by Victoria University’s very own Tomasin Fisher-Johnson, and spoke about devising, empty churches, and all things Whangarei.

     

    How did your company begin?

    Laurel Devenie (director), Katy Maudlin and Ash Holwell (director) decided to branch out from the Northland Youth Theatre Company and make their own, and it just kept growing. We are becoming quite well-known in Whangarei, people are beginning to get used to us.

     

    Company of Giants specialises in “space activation” and “community focused processes.” Can you elaborate on this?

    This sprung from our set designer/guy that’s always there, Ash Holwell, finding spaces that aren’t being used for us to take over temporarily for rehearsals. We currently occupy an old church, that we’ve got for a year. It’s nice. We have created it into a community space, and have a number of people coming through. There were live bands, and Stu Devenie has even done Charles Dickens readings and all sorts of other weird things.

     

    Where does the company begin with devising?

    Usually Laurel comes up with the ideas. She just said, “let’s do a kind of children show that can be for adults too.” I don’t even know how we began devising. It’s such a huge process. I guess we started by sitting in a circle and Laurel asked us to “say a word that you can think of to do with love” and it just starts from there.

     

    What is Laurel Devenie like as a director?

    She’s awesome. It’s hard to put into words. We are all part of the process, it’s definitely a collaborative one. She doesn’t feel like a director—she is just there with us.

     

    Do you think that theatre practitioners should have formal training?

    Yes. I do. Maybe not Toi Whakaari. But some kind of training just gives you a chance to explore new theatre forms that you’ve never seen before. And it forces you to push yourself. It’s that thing of being involved in acting every single day.

     

    Were there any difficulties in the devising process? How did you combat them?

    It was really difficult at the beginning to find the form of the show. Laurel said that we seemed to work better when we were in a small space, so our rehearsals were confined to a drawn out circle. I think it kept us more focused and narrowed down what the feeling was.

     

    A little plug for the upcoming show?

    Expect magic. And music.

     

    The Owl and the Pussycat

    1–5 March, 7.00pm

    BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace

    www.bats.co.nz or 04 802 4175

     

    Fringe Festival Review: How to Romance a Human (produced by Dog With Ball)

    Devised by Victoria theatre students Adeline Shaddick, Liam Kelly, Ruby Hansen, and Keegan Bragg; the play explores whether robots have the ability to have meaningful relationships with humans, and how technology can affect the intangible notion of feelings.

    The rectangular, stark white set becomes the clinical canvas upon which the actors dissect everything from sexbots, to Grace and Theo—the perfect couple-bots. The audience’s reception moved from suspended intrigue to cackling laughter. These emotions are cleverly produced by play’s grapple with modern issues, whilst simultaneously reflecting on their folly when in practise.

    Vignetted and decidedly unconventional in its approach, the high-energy performance entertained, informed, and begged the question: could robots ever be a substitute for real human experience and interaction?

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  • Death Cab for Cutie in New Zealand: A Live Wire

    It’s often been said that some music is best heard live, and after seeing Death Cab for Cutie play in Wellington’s Opera House—I believe it.

    Playing the first of only two shows in New Zealand, this famed quartet has been called many things—indie pop, indie rock, alternative. Their style unable to fit a precise genre. But let’s just say that if you’re into the heavier indie scene, Death Cab probably wouldn’t be your first pick; though supposedly undefinable you could get away with calling them mellow. Both ends of the indie spectrum have the capacity for intense intricacy, of course; it merely depends on the band’s skill. Death Cab, it seems, hit the nail on the head when it comes to quality.

    The pristine white foyer of the Wellington’s Opera House, and its lounge area laced with gold filigree, provided a stunning visual preamble to the dark, rich burgundy concert hall. Still, it was interesting to see Wellingtonians treating the night as an upscale evening. The patrons were of all ages, while this was not unexpected, it surprised me a little as I had spent a lot of my childhood listening to Death Cab in the car with my mother. As I found my seat, I realized that unless one was on the floor, people were expected to stay in their seats and watch the show. For me this was odd—I’m used to having beer poured on me, spending half the time rocking out, and the other half trying to avoid the mosh. What was I supposed to do in this seat?

    Despite personal feelings of displacement, the concert was enjoyable and I found myself appreciating Death Cab’s Grammy-nominated sound. A particular highlight was seeing the two lead guitarists stand in front of each other and rock out to each other’s moves. The lighting was extremely well done, timed almost perfectly with the changes in tempo. The song “Black Sun” off their new album Kintsugi shook the concert-hall; and I was proud on behalf of the elderly for withstanding the light show that came with it.

    Death Cab’s compositions are intricate due to original instrumental work and Gibbard’s distinctive voice. Not only that, but the band utilises aspects from various genres throughout history, juxtaposing classic instrumentation with modern musical ideas and themes. The band’s eclecticism is due to the way these elements are blended, and their originality comes to light when experienced live. Gibbard’s voice, a voice with a power that could never be tarnished or weakened, blends excessively well into the instrumentals. I found myself listening intently for every element, picking songs apart and then weighing the pieces against each other. Perhaps the best combination of melodies came when the band returned to the stage for the encore.

    Overall, this concert gave me new respect for the band. I have to stress that if you ever have the chance to see Death Cab live, do it, and don’t look back.

     

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  • Oh, the Places They’ll Go—Three projects to watch in 2016

    2015 was understatedly a great year for music, and 2016 is shaping up to be another blockbuster year. What with major record labels announcing imminent releases from artists such as Future, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga. But while these mainstream icons receive the limelight, it’s time to shine a different coloured light on a few lesser known projects that are heating up. So here are three upcoming releases to keep tabs on this year:

     

    MF Doom & Ghostface Killah—DOOMSTARKS

    DOOMSTARKS is the elusive collaboration that has been on the tip of every hip hop fan’s tongue since 2011. MF Doom is the metal masked overlord, ruling the underground with his comic book villain aesthetics and sampling. Ghostface on the other hand, is a bold and brash Wu-Tang Clan member whose lyrics focus on the seedy gangster life—a true villain. Many believed this dream collaboration to be pure fantasy; but with an album cover, new track, and Ghostface confirming the album’s release in February, all systems are go. MF Doom looks to stay on a creative flow, following up his NehruvianDOOM collaboration. Ghostface Killah meanwhile, is hot off a collaborative album with jazz up-and-comers BADBADNOTGOOD. The possibilities for this record are endless. Whatever dastardly deeds these two get up to, it’s sure to be a rhythmical master class.

    Fellow Villains: Odd Future, Notorious B.I.G, Wu Tang Clan

     

    Frank Ocean—Boys Don’t Cry

    Frank please. If we don’t get this album everybody is going to be crying. His sensual and passionate vocal delivery won us all over on channel ORANGE; an electro funk and pop soul fusion masterpiece, with themes of love, sex, and longing that won him the Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album in 2013. The only problem is since that groundbreaking album, Frank has become an enigma—a ghost. He has appeared on a few features, most recently in a small adlib on Kanye West’s Life of Pablo; but for the most part, radio silence. There were rumblings in late 2015 of an album to accompany his new magazine, but much to the public’s dismay nothing has been heard since. We are willing to be patient Frank, but patience can wear thin…

    Similar Sad Boys/Girls: Bryson Tiller, D’ Angelo, Erykah Badu

     

    Death Grips—Bottomless Pit

    “The game is mine… I deal the cards.” When an artist samples Charles Manson they are either insane, or in another realm of musical enlightenment. Death Grips are both. Their music not for the faint of heart. MC Ride, Flatlander, and Zach Hill are the shamans of this super secretive, pseudo cyber-punk, industrial hip hop group. With in-your-face vocals more akin to heavy metal, frantic drums, and searing synths, you come out of a Death Grips record short of breath and begging for more. Exmilitary was their hypnotic and primal debut. The Money Store set a later, more accessible entry point, while retaining their depraved lyrics and a sense of overwhelming energy. In the years following, Death Grips would proceed to cultivate one of the most ambiguous media presence’s of recent memory. They left their Epic label deal, leaked their albums, and decided a picture of a member’s member would make a fantastic album cover. With their double album Powers that B they returned to the aggression, sampling Bjork on the first half and tackling their darkest fears on the second half. To say they are inaccessible is an understatement; their new track “Hot Head” is no exception. Does that make them any less exciting to follow? Not even a little.

    Similar Madmen: Clippng, Hella, Deafheaven

     

    Check them, scrutinize them, and enjoy them. New music is always an adventure and in this time of new beginnings, why not switch up the soundtrack a little?

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  • Unravel

    ★★½

     

    Developer—Coldwood Interactive

    Publisher—Electronic Arts

    Platform—PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One

     

    At last year’s E3 show, a man named Martin Sahlin and his friend, a little red bundle of wool called Yarny, appeared at the Electronic Arts (EA) press conference to talk about a game he had been making. The poor guy was so nervously excited about his project that he was shaking on stage. He very nearly fainted.

    In between stammers and silent prayers to not screw up, Martin showcased Unravel, a puzzle platformer starring Yarny. Inspired by the breath-taking landscapes of his native Sweden, Unravel promised a magical adventure and an emotional experience. The game looked amazing, and we all fell in love with Yarny.

    I just wish the game lived up to that promise.

    Don’t get me wrong; Unravel is in no way a terrible game. In some respects, the game is excellent and Yarny is still cute as hell. Yet, I came away from Unravel feeling little emotion at all. I was promised feels, and they did not come.

    In that respect, the story of the game was little more than an empty shell. At the beginning of the game, an old woman looks nostalgically at some photos, and Yarny is created out of thin air. It then goes through and explores what appear to be the old woman’s memories. That’s literally it. Yarny may be a cute representation of love and the ties that apparently bind us, but they are just not that compelling a character.

    There is no sense of tension or drama; we are just expected to look at the old woman’s photo album and feel sorry for her. If you want that from me, you have to show me who she is and why she is so interesting, and Unravel does nothing to indicate that her life was anything but ordinary. I didn’t care, and so I lost most my motivation to continue.

    As a platform Unravel offers some challenges, but there’s really not much to rave about. The unravelling yarn mechanic has Yarny lose mass as he moves and solves physics-based puzzles. This adds an element of strategy to the platforming as leaving too much yarn will halt your progress. It’s an interesting idea, but it isn’t implemented often, and rarely did I get into trouble. The puzzles don’t really require innovation, and are occasionally undone by wonky physics, which frustrated me more than once.

    The graphics are by far the best part of Unravel. The environments are gorgeous and give a much-needed breath of life to the game, with every frame filled with detail and colour even when rain, wind, and snow are blasted in from off-screen. Yarny himself, in spite of his lack of character, is reactive to the environment and is animated very well—even being shown trying to keep warm in the snow. At a silky-smooth 60 frames per second on PS4, the game is clearly an efficient performer while still pushing graphical boundaries. This is a game I’d love to watch being played. It’s just unfortunate that I was the one with the controller.

    Unravel is undoubtedly a labour of love for Coldwood Interactive, and as their first major release it is an admirable effort. The EA hype machine made people stand up and take note, but beyond a pretty veneer and a cute mascot there is little of substance to be found. Even at a launch price of $30.00 I wasn’t satisfied, but if you wait for a sale you may get a bit more out of Unravel.

    Don’t tell Martin Sahlin though. He might just have a heart attack.

     

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  • The Revenant

    ★★★★

    Director—Alejandro G. Iñárritu

     

    Based on the nonfiction novel of the same name, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s adaptation is hard to pin down. Iñárritu brings together genres such as action, adventure, revenge, and history, creating a film that cohesively takes a slice out of almost everything. In doing so, it makes for an experience that is tough, gritty, and at times, uncomfortably gory to watch.

    Set in 1823, The Revenant is about a group of trappers in the Northern Plains of America who are on a expedition to hunt animals for pelts. The group find themselves in trouble when they enter unorganized US territory and come under attack from the Arikara Native Americans who are searching for their chief’s lost daughter.

    Believing that the Americans have kidnapped his daughter, the chief hunts the group, and they are forced to abandon their settlement and flee. As some flee on boat, others are wary of the dangers of escaping by boat, the group’s guide and most skilled hunter, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), suggests that the remaining trappers walk back to the outpost.

    Very early on the rivalry between Glass and fellow trapper John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) is established, as he questions the decision and shows obvious distaste towards Glass and his half ­native son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck).

    After a near fatal incident with a bear, the wounded Glass slows the other trappers down. After Fitzgerald killing him to speed them up, Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) insists they wait until he dies naturally, and insists they give him a proper burial. Fitzgerald fakes Glass’s death, leaving him to die in a grave. From here, what ensues is a dangerous journey fuelled by revenge, and punctuated by visions of the person that Glass values the most: ­his lost love.

    Iñárritu’s ability to incorporate a multitude of film elements including CGI, feels natural and provides the film with a unique sense of sophistication. While a partly animated bear may have initially raised eyebrows at the film’s quality, the CGI is sophistically incorporated throughout. The film is also strengthened by DiCaprio’s astounding and transformative performance that landed him an oscar (finally!).

    Featuring a solid cast and a director whose dedication is evident from the production process to the film’s final execution, The Revenant offers audiences a gruelling but rewarding cinematic experience.

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  • The Hateful Eight

    ★★★★★

    “Starting to see pictures, ain’t ya?”

     

    Director—Quentin Tarantino

     

    Before production began Quentin Tarantino’s latest film was almost DOA. Following the leak of the screenplay Tarantino seriously considered releasing it as a novel, but I am certainly glad he didn’t. Using a combination of solid direction, fantastic performances, stellar dialogue, and a terrific score, Tarantino creates a masterpiece that harkens back to his earlier Pulp Fiction era. I only wish I had gotten the chance to see it the way Tarantino had intended, in full-on old-school 70mm.

    The reason I mention Tarantino’s earlier work is that The Hateful Eight will undoubtedly be compared to his last film, Django Unchained; and while both films are westerns that is about where the similarities end. The finished product of The Hateful Eight has far more in common with Tarantino’s first feature Reservoir Dogs. Instead of relying on extreme violence (that isn’t to say it isn’t still violent by most film standards), and large action set pieces like those of Kill Bill or Inglorious Bastards, Tarantino opts for a smaller more intimate scope, relying on strong dialogue and themes to move the story forward. In doing so Tarantino is able to focus on developing his character’s relationships, undercutting every scene and line of dialogue with distrust and paranoia.

    The cast of the film, as with most Tarantino ventures, excels. We get some great performances from some old favourites, like Michael Masden and Tim Roth, and some new faces in Kurt Russell and Walter Goggins. All give fantastic performances, chewing the scenery around them; but ultimately it’s Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh who take the cake. Leigh dives head first into the dirty, feral role of Daisy, putting a little bit of extra cruelty into every impolite comment she make; while Jackson revels in what might be his most interesting role in a Tarantino film to date, and finally gets to take center stage.

    It’s also important to mention the real star of this film. In the same way he was the star of Sergio Leone’s films back in the 1960s, Ennio Morricone crafts the music of the The Hateful Eight. The score, a first for a Tarantino film, beautifully captures the old school western feel, as well as the isolation and paranoia of the setting.

    Tarantino has only two films left before his supposed ten film retirement. I can only hope they are of the same level of filmmaking on display in The Hateful Eight.

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  • Zoolander 2

    ★★★

    Director—Ben Stiller

    In 2001, Zoolander had the misfortunate theatrical release about two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, causing movie-goers to withdraw their appetite for comedy and avoid the theatre. Blue Magnum had to wait for DVDs to circulate before it became a standard photo pose for the everyday, ridiculously good-looking man.

    When I viewed the sequel, Zoolander 2, the empty theatre that accommodated me patently signaled the lack of motivation from the solid fanbase that made Zoolander a mainstream classic in the early ’00s. Ben Stiller (director/writer/Derek Zoolander) perceptively told reporters that fans want a sequel until they get one. The low turnout for the film validates Stiller’s comment. Yet Zoolander 2 has a lot to offer the committed fans that are ready to devalue their expectations.

    Set in the present, as current as Justin Bieber’s new haircut, Derek Zoolander discontinues his retirement from modeling to follow an opportunity in the high fashion industry that may reunite him with his son. Will Ferrell returns in full costume as Jacobim Mugatu. He masterminds an escape from prison with the unwitting help from the senior and junior Zoolanders’ and, once again, attempts to monopolize the world of fashion.

    You get a sense that Stiller wants to repay his loyal fans by offloading an excess of classic Zoolander humour. The comic parts often hit high, but a lot of the product is flat—trying to shock viewers with a full tongue kiss is awkward, and not amusing. The film makes use of the same formula as the original, and contains unexpected cameos. Where David Bowie had a stellar scene in the first Zoolander, the latter has Neil deGrasse Tyson to balance the film’s fabric of intellect with his usual jargon of the cosmos. It is funny, though.

    If Zoolander was in your childhood experience, I urge you to fill the empty screenings of the sequel. Behind the veneer of irrelevant storytelling, the movie is a Hansel and Derek story, which is as charming a relationship as ever. If Zoolander wasn’t in your childhood experience, however, watch the original. It should be in your movie lexicon in any case, and then you can decide whether the sequel will induce enough laughs for your time.

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  • Helen Clark: Inside Stories

    ★★★

    Editors—Claudia Pond Eyley & Dan Salmon

    Publisher—Auckland University Press

     

     

    Biographies can be disappointing. They rarely keep their promise of allowing you to vicariously experience genius, fame, scandal. Some are salacious and self-aggrandizing (see: Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis). Others are bland and insincere.

    What I found enjoyable about Inside Stories, however, is that Clark was not the sole contributor to the narrative. Instead, the book is a compilation of transcripts from interviews conducted by Eyley and Salmon with Clark’s fellow politicians, family members, friends, and mentors. Her life and career as a political juggernaut is discussed chronologically; beginning with her childhood in rural New Zealand and ending with her job as head of the United Nations Development Program.

    On a totally simplistic level I loved the book because, for me, it’s gratifying to hear stories of women in positions of power. Especially when they center on a veracious and highly intelligent woman who is, according to a New Zealand Herald poll, the greatest living New Zealander. In a country where the gap between the sexes in economic participation and opportunities has widened in recent years, this book is significant. 

    On a technical level the dialogue is at times a little stiff and unrevealing, although that could be expected given that the stories come from one-on-one interviews and are not presented verbatim. That being said, Inside Stories is (for the most part) a balanced and holistic insight into Clark’s life, a rare phenomenon in the biography genre.

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  • Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

    ★★★★

    Author—Carrie Brownstein

    Publisher—Virago

     

    Carrie Brownstein has become increasingly familiar to the public in recent years due to the success of sketch-show Portlandia, the archetype-skewering collaboration with Fred Armisen that showcases her comedic prowess. Before Portlandia Carrie was one third of Sleater-Kinney, the riot grrrl band that formed in Olympia, Washington in the early 1990s.

    Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl focuses largely on the trajectory of Sleater-Kinney, and the home that music provided for Carrie following a childhood fraught with disharmony. Her mother suffered from an eating disorder, and soon after returning home from rehab, she left the family. Hurt and angry, Carrie found an outlet in learning to play guitar, taking inspiration from bands such as Bikini Kill, who were blazing a trail for female musicians at the time. After moving to Olympia, the hub of the punk and riot grrrl movement, Carrie met Corin Tucker and the two formed Sleater-Kinney, travelling to Australia to record their first album (drummer Janet Weiss would join the band later).

    This is a deeply personal memoir and an illuminating read for Sleater-Kinney fans. Carrie’s writing is taut and evocative as she shares episodes of teenage angst, to the peaks and pits of recording and touring, to her relationship with Corin and its subsequent breakdown. As you read it, however, her love for Sleater-Kinney glows off the page. In 2006 the band went their separate ways, and Carrie tells of how she threw herself into volunteer work at an animal shelter as a way to compensate for the loss.

    There is a happy ending. The band reformed in 2012 to record No Cities to Love, and are currently on tour—they played Auckland on February 29. Much to the delight of legions of fans, it seems as though Sleater-Kinney aren’t done yet.

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    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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    Recent posts

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    4. I, Daniel Blake and the Welfare State
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    Editor's Pick

    I, Daniel Blake and the Welfare State

    : Recently at the NZIFF I was fortunate enough to see Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, this year’s winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes. By the end of the film nearly everybody seemed to be in mourning and most of the people seated around me were sniffling and wiping their eyes. I,