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Issue 7, 2016

Interviews

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News

  • You can’t sit with us—protesters picket the Young Nats’ ball

  • Your flat will still be a bit shit

  • Under the influence of neighbours—university opposes liquor license

  • Step into my tax haven—Panama Papers explained

  • University outsourcing university

  • Eye on the Exec

  • CYF report

  • The Wellington Binder Exchange

  • Third year law student editing a journal, nbd

  • Whatever happened to Karori campus?

  • Fun News

  • Drop everything, a craft beer didn’t win best lager

  • Features

  • interviews-jimi

    Living more Awesome

    Jimi Hunt is a mental health advocate, speaker, author, adventure seeker, and co-founder of the Live More Awesome charity. Having recently released his second book—A Guide To Live More Awesome, Kate Robertson caught up with Jimi to talk about some real worthy of your time shit.   K: How did Live More Awesome come to […]

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  • interviews-faith

    Interview with Scarlett*, stripper/dancer and cam girl

    The adult entertainment industry has a long history of stigmatisation and marginality. At school, we were never informed that this could be a potentially viable line of work, or even that people can choose this line of work. Instead we’re encouraged to look at people who work in this industry askance, with sympathy, or disgust. […]

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  • interviews-drew

    My First Ex Boyfriend

    When a relationship ends, there are always unanswered questions. Clear communication upon a breakup is a popular way to prevent prolonged wondering over what-ifs. Another way is to wait years and years and then interview them: DREW is currently in Ica, Peru, posing as a medical student. SHARON is currently in Wellington, New Zealand, posing […]

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  • interviews-korea

    Christmas in Pyongyang.

    For Carlos Anchieta, Christmas of 2015 was not spent around a decorated plastic tree with presents, good food, and family. It was spent in the only totalitarian state in the world, surrounded by anti-imperialist propaganda and murals of a tyrannical family. Carlos, who is originally from Niteroi in Brazil, is a third year International Relations […]

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  • interviews-jimi

    Living more Awesome

    Jimi Hunt is a mental health advocate, speaker, author, adventure seeker, and co-founder of the Live More Awesome charity. Having recently released his second book—A Guide To Live More Awesome, Kate Robertson caught up with Jimi to talk about some real worthy of your time shit.   K: How did Live More Awesome come to […]

    by

  • interviews-faith

    Interview with Scarlett*, stripper/dancer and cam girl

    The adult entertainment industry has a long history of stigmatisation and marginality. At school, we were never informed that this could be a potentially viable line of work, or even that people can choose this line of work. Instead we’re encouraged to look at people who work in this industry askance, with sympathy, or disgust. […]

    by

  • interviews-drew

    My First Ex Boyfriend

    When a relationship ends, there are always unanswered questions. Clear communication upon a breakup is a popular way to prevent prolonged wondering over what-ifs. Another way is to wait years and years and then interview them: DREW is currently in Ica, Peru, posing as a medical student. SHARON is currently in Wellington, New Zealand, posing […]

    by

  • interviews-korea

    Christmas in Pyongyang.

    For Carlos Anchieta, Christmas of 2015 was not spent around a decorated plastic tree with presents, good food, and family. It was spent in the only totalitarian state in the world, surrounded by anti-imperialist propaganda and murals of a tyrannical family. Carlos, who is originally from Niteroi in Brazil, is a third year International Relations […]

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  • Arts and Science

  • A picture interview with Aoi Yao

    Graduating from art school three years ago in England was a real slap in the face. I remember the weird industry vultures preying on anyone who could use Photoshop. Before we knew it, we were being hideously overworked and enthusiastically underpaid.

    After a few months I said, fuck this shit, and put all my effort towards opening my own art space called Kollektiv Gallery in Brighton, UK. We reclaimed unloved buildings and revived them into art galleries. Kollektiv attracted a beautiful army of early career creatives and together we ran crowdfunding campaigns, ran mini art festivals, taught workshops, sold artworks, and made new friends.

    Over the years Kollektiv has allowed me to meet a lot of artists, so I began recording their stories and practices through interviews. But, these aren’t ordinary interviews, they’re #pictureinterviews. Answering questions with imagery is simply a chance for artists to express themselves using their native language—art.

    We’re playing with how artists communicate and tell stories through imagery online. For the audience, the name of the game is interpretation. Sometimes they’re a challenge to make and read, but in the end the answers often inspire both the maker and reader to start a new body of work.

    I’ve chosen to show Kollektiv’s 99th interview, Aoi Yao from Taiwan. I love her photograph series, for me the interview is an example of global progression. These days I interview artists from all over the world, but at the time Aoi Yao seemed so far away. Her interview created a sense of satisfaction and reassurance that sticking at something pays off and nobody is too far away to contact.

     

    What intimidates you?

    1

    What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?

    2

    Tell us about your ancestry.

    3

    Is social media creating a selfish generation?

    4

    Where is your resting place?

    5 (1)

    Do you want to be immortal?

    6 (1)

    Where are you in the moment between asleep and awake?

    7 (2)

    Please create a portrait of me even though you don’t know my face.

    8 (1)

    Photograph a secret.

    9

    Where can we find more of your work?

    10

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  • Some kind of something

    Jordana is a video based performance artist currently living in Wellington. She has recently completed a BFA (hons) at Massey University, and is currently working at the City Gallery Wellington. I visited Jordana at her home in Brooklyn on the first evening of daylight savings. It was 6.30pm, almost dark, the wind had picked up, and I wasn’t wearing a warm enough jacket.

     

    How are you?

    Neutral.

    What have you been thinking about recently?

    I’ve been thinking about youthfulness. The concept of love, connectivity. I’ve been thinking about other people, a lot. Interactions with people just, they throw me, for like days, especially if it is something that I couldn’t predict.

    What is your art background/current art practice?

    My year thirteen portfolio was all about a relationship with my high school best friend and lover. So I dedicated my time, my entire year to processing that, sorting that through using art.  You know, all dark grey, Lou Reed lyrics, violins, coffins, roses, and like, women making out.

    As a video based performance artist, I talk a lot about my body, about my feelings, and those intimate interactions which have a profound impact on them, those which have something relatable to them. As I was saying before, I get thrown quite easily by the interactions I have and my reactions to them, I do internalize a lot.

    What got you into working with video and performance?

    I came back after the summer break, after third year, and was like, no, I need to investigate myself this year, before art school is done. So that’s when I made 18 Easy Pieces, a series of 18 video based performance works which all situate my body as central, my body became a mechanism, a weapon in the production of meaning, and by virtue, art.

    A current project you are working on?

    I am currently working on an exhibition alongside Megan Dieudonne. Megan recently curated friends are artists, a group show of Wellington based artists, in Berlin. I thought that’s really sweet and kind of beautiful. So I felt the need to curate a response show. I have been in contact with Megan and sourced ten Berlin based artists to exhibit in Wellington, this will be a one night event held on Friday 29th of April. [info below].

    A ritual of yours?

    There is this thing I’ve done with my hands since I was ten, equal parts ritual and tendency. Basically I touch my tongue to the index finger of my left hand, then I place the index finger and middle finger of both hands together, then I press my thumbs between the fingers on each hand, it’s difficult to explain, and I try to be extremely subtle about it.

    Generally it is to do with anxiety, if I feel ungrounded or unsafe, I bring myself back to my body through this ritualised action.

    Sun, moon or stars?

    I want to say stars, because I’m greedy, but, moon, easy.

    What is your favourite time of day?

    I want to say early morning, but that’s a lie, because I’m not up early often enough to know. I’m going to say my favourite time of day is the idea of the very earliest of morning. Any time I’ve ever experienced an early morning, I’m just like, this is fucking awful. But, it’s the early morning, the stillness, the calmness, the coldness, that’s what I like, that feeling. It’s the sickness I get from being awake that early, I just can’t stand it. But, that’s not the morning’s fault.

     

    Whats on?

    freunde sind Kunstler

    April 29, 7.00–11.00pm

    level 1, 264 Taranaki Street

     

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  • Love

    ★★★★★

    Ten episodes

    Netflix (2016)

     

    Co-created by Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, and Lesley Arfin, Love is the story of two millenials in Los Angeles fumbling through their love lives. Rust plays Gus, an on-set teacher at a film studio, opposite Community’s Gillian Jacobs as Mickey, a radio producer with bad habits. When the two converge in a service station, with Gus offering to pay for Mickey’s coffee in a display of twenty-first century chivalry, their awkward courtship begins.

    Mickey is self-absorbed and sardonic, in denial of her drug and alcohol dependencies, and hopping along from one bad relationship to the next. Gus is goofy and hapless, accused by his ex-girlfriend of being manipulative in his niceness. Mickey initially denies her attraction to Gus by setting him up on a disastrous date with her Australian roommate; Gus gets involved with an actress from work and decides that perhaps he doesn’t have to be so nice. Ultimately, this is the story of two people who just can’t seem to get it right.

    Similar to Master of None, this is a show which plays upon the awkwardness of modern dating. Obsessively checking your phone for a reply; trying so hard to play it cool because to appear over-eager is a death sentence. Mickey and Gus are both flawed (in different ways), and unable to see that the other might be just what they need. At the same time, Mickey’s struggle with addiction adds a rawness to the show—in one episode she cavorts around town with a washed up Andy Dick, high on sassafras, and finally starts to address her problems. Hilarious as well as poignant, this is a refreshing show that doesn’t play it safe, while pretty accurately skewering the standards that we set for ourselves and those around us.

    The second season of Love is currently in production.

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  • Master of None

    ★★★★★

    Ten episodes

    Netflix (2015)

     

    After Parks and Recreation wrapped, fans of comedian Aziz Ansari waited to see what he would do next. After co-writing a pop-science book on modern romance titled, aptly, Modern Romance, Ansari’s new show Master of None was released in November last year. The critical acclaim was instant, with the New York Times calling it “the year’s best comedy straight out of the gate.”

    Ansari plays Dev, a young guy trying to make it as an actor in New York City. Among his escapades is a condom mishap that results in a midnight trip to buy emergency contraception; the dilemma of whether he should sleep with a married woman—she’s totally fine with it, but should he be; the problem of how to get somebody to reply to a text message (send a question mark, or a picture of a turtle climbing out of a briefcase?). These modern conundrums clearly hold massive appeal for Ansari, and he explores the issues that millenials can expect to face when trying to find love, for life or just for a night.

    But the show isn’t just telling stories about sex and love; one of the season’s best episodes deals with Dev’s relationship with his immigrant parents (played by Ansari’s real-life parents!). Another episode shows Dev auditioning for a role in a buddy comedy about three guys, only to be pitted against another Indian actor—there can’t be two! Dev’s group of friends (including the Asian-American Brian, and Denise, an African-American lesbian) proves definitively that yes, you can have more than one ‘minority’ in a television show, and that show can be a huge hit because who really cares? The beauty of Master of None is that it doesn’t limit itself to one kind of narrative. The writing is at turns subtly and overtly hilarious, and the stories feel honest and relatable. This is the future of television, and it’s superb.

    It was recently renewed for a second season, so we can expect more Master of None in 2017.

     

     

     

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  • Jane Yonge: An Interview

     

    Here we have Jane Yonge, Masters of Theatre Arts, highly regarded and successful New Zealand theatre practitioner. Hey Jane, how are you?

    (laughs) I’m good!

    What’s your favourite thing about a career in theatre?

    Getting to work with heaps of different people. This morning I had a Theatre 204 rehearsal, and now I’m meeting with you, and after this I’m going to meet with the council about a project I’m doing with Jo Randerson later on this year. I’m constantly meeting new people.

    As a director, is there a specific way you like to work, or start when creating a show?

    Interestingly, before I went to drama school I always thought the director had to be the person standing at the front of the room, yelling or like being the leader. So I tried that way at drama school and my supervisor was like, “what are you doing?” Recently I’ve been thinking a director should be leading from behind, holding the vision but acting as a facilitator guiding collaborators in a process. I call this directing style “democratic process.”

    Do you have any favourite directors you have worked with or want to?

    I love working with Jo Randerson. I assistant directed with her for White Elephant and she is the best collaborator, she really listens. She said the other that if someone offers an idea, even it she doesn’t think it looks good, she’ll just let it run because she wants to see what will happen—it’s all about listening and trying.

    Do you have any favourite writers?

    I really like Gary Henderson, he’s great. He was the script mentor for the Young and Hungry play that I’m doing, and he gave feedback through dramaturgy, which I’ve never really heard of before. It wasn’t just like talking about the play and the characters, but actually the function of characters within the play and what had to happen when and why. I named my car after him! He’s called Gary Henderson.

    What are the differences between theatre in Auckland and theatre in Wellington?

    I was up there earlier this year. There’s more money. Companies like Auckland Theatre Company and Silo feel like big professional theatre companies. Up in Auckland it feels like people are wanting to push more boundaries. I think we want that in Wellington as well, but there’s this exit of people going to Auckland to try and make it.

    Why aren’t there many women directors on a global scale?  What should we do to encourage and support their growth of theatre?

    I think Wellington actually has many successful women practitioners. Women are realizing that they’re operating within a patriarchal sort of structure, so we are looking at how to break out of it and interrogate it and ask why are these structures like this? How can we change them? It’s more of a lack of acknowledgement and not really a thing of “oh we need female directors.”  

    Any promotions for upcoming work?

    My Young and Hungry play coming up called: Bloody Hell Jesus Get your Own Friends! That’ll be fun.

    And finally, what will Jane Yonge be doing in 2060??

    I’m going to be drunk. Kidding!

    I really want to own my own theatre space. I think by then I will have gone overseas depending on where is growing or big or interesting. I’d love to have a theatre space that had a couple of resident companies who would perform a show each season.

     

    Upcoming must-see shows

    TITLED

    When: April 12–16, @ 6.30pm

    Where: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace

    Who: Nisha Madhan (creator and performer)

    “Part Kafka-esque comedy part Skull and Crossbones secret society… cleansing, exuberant, and wickedly wry…” The Pantograph Punch

     

    If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming

    When: April 12–16, @ 8.30pm

    Where: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace

    Who: Julia Croft (performer and creator) and Virginia Frankovich (director).

    “A work that goes beyond the thoughtful into the sublime and occasionally in to the surreal…Croft doesn’t hold back.” –Lexie Matheson, Theatreview

     

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  • Grown at Home

    It was touch and go for Homegrown festival, with the rain making an appearance the second year in a row. By midday the rain had cleared, and in classic kiwi spirit we were donning our gumboots heading to the waterfront.

    The setup of the stages along the waterfront meant a lot of walking was required. The crowd was small at first, with most people still sculling Jim Beam (shout out to the sponsor) at home. However, by 3.00pm the venues and the waterfront were pretty packed, with many enjoying a free show from Mac’s Brewery.

    By 5.00pm, I had seen my friends fall face first into fences; had #MAKEHISTORY tattooed into my neck; and had mingled backstage with Homegrown legend Tiki Tane, who is still going strong. The clouds closed in for Homebrew’s set and the crowd turned into a bunch of drowned rats shouting “fuck John Key” and “fuck Homebrew.” There was absolutely no way we could miss Shapeshifter, and Waitangi Park was churned into a mudbath as hundreds of people jammed to New Zealand’s pioneers of drum and bass.

    The lineup did not stop there with the likes of MAALA, a synth-pop artist from Auckland; Team Dynamite, the rap trio from the Young Gifted and Broke collective; and Brendon Thomas and the Vibes an upcoming rock group working with the likes of Eddie Rayner. We caught up with them after their sets to find out their thoughts on the NZ music scene, and what we can expect from them next.

     

     

    MAALA

    Salient: First off, how do you think your set went?

    Maala: I haven’t worked it out yet, still processing. On stage it’s a different vibe and you see everyone slowly walking in, being first on the day.

    Salient: So you played Auckland City Limits last weekend, how does that compare to this gig here?

    Maala: For me I’m new doing these kind of shows that have this big barrier between people, so that is the similarity, trying to engage across that distance.

    Salient: So you mentioned you are writing your upcoming album, how is that going?

    Maala: It’s so close now. The writing is done, the production is the thing we will spend ages on. I’m really enjoying writing pop sounds, just the formula of it and hooky melodies, ones that people just can’t forget. So that’s been my focus point, people like JT, he knows how to write a pop song! It’s really coming together, first single is dropping soon.

    Salient: Do you do all your own mastering and mixing as well?

    Maala: I don’t, I love delegating [laughs], it’s my favourite! I like the collaborative aspect, I write with two other people. It is just less stressful because you feel like you can put out your own ideas and there is less pressure to have the complete product yourself.

    Salient: So what is your opinion on the NZ music scene?

    Maala: I mean, here we are at Homegrown! It’s the ultimate Kiwi Show—that should be there slogan [laughs]. The New Zealand music scene is brilliant at the moment. That isn’t just some cheesy fallback, people are writing international level pop-stuff. Not just pop, there is variety, it’s dope. Close people I work with like Leisure and Matt Young they are doing some really cool things. It’s just flying off!

     

     

    Brendon Thomas and the Vibes

    Salient: So first of all, how did the set go for you guys, how did you find it?

    B T and the Vibes: It was fucking awesome! People grooved out and when we were walking around earlier people were like “yo what up I’m coming to the set!” It was really surprising for us because we have never been to Homegrown.

    Salient: So what’s your opinion on the New Zealand music scene at the moment?

    B T and Vibes: Underground is really good at the moment, it’s a shame because festivals like this and R&V are smaller than last year. Less people are coming out, but there are some really cracker bands coming through the underground scene.

    Salient: Do you think festivals like this are lacking because they are trying to get those big names?

    B T and the Vibes: That’s why they have stages like this to bring up the younger guys (up-coming stage), you just need to be really on your game to get the slot and that’s part of the fun too.

    Salient: So you guys are working on your new EP?

    B T and the Vibes: Yes, new EP will be recorded this month, we have already done the demos. It’s just a matter of picking the songs.

    Salient: And you’re working with Split Enz?!

    B T and the Vibes: Eddie Rayner has been really keen to jam with us, he really loves the songs. We just bust them all out and he was like I’m keen to work with you guys. It’s an honour. Yeah it’s so weird we can’t believe it.

    Salient: So what other inspirations do you draw from on this EP?

    B T and the Vibes: Paul McCartney and The Beatles, his songwriting really touches me, and then there is the likes of Jimi Hendrix and all that 60s stuff. Rolling Stones. John Mayer. James Brown. Marvin Gaye.

     

    Team Dynamite

    Salient: So how did your set just go?

    Team Dynamite: You are only as good as your last show and we’re quite happy with that last one to be honest. It was a dope crowd, every time there is a dope crowd it makes the job way easier. I love it when we come to Wellington it’s always a mad love show, we love performing here.

    Salient: What is it about festivals that you love?

    Team Dynamite: Well honestly I think this is one of the first, we have played R&V but this is one of the biggest ones. We love that energy, I wasn’t expecting that kind of crowd listening and singing along.

    Salient: Do you have any pre-show rituals?

    Team Dynamite: Just be nervous. [laughs]. I like to walk around the room and clap my hands and just get rid of the nerves, pace up and down the room and try not to forget my words.Then you just get out there and see the fans and it just blows us away, we just feed off that.

    Salient: So what is your opinion on the New Zealand music scene currently?

    Team Dynamite: As far as hip-hop is concerned I think it’s in a good place. If you would have asked us this question three or four years ago I thought it was in a good place, but it’s getting even better.

    Salient: So what should we expect from you guys next?

    Team Dynamite: Yeah just working on the new album that’s all we care about. Sit back and enjoy the show, it’s on its way.

    Salient: How is the album going?

    Team Dynamite: It’s going. [laughs]. We’re still demoing heaps of shit, it’s now a process of picking which songs we actually want and trying to write some new songs to bring it all together into one complete package—well that’s the plan anyway.

     

     

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  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

    ★★★★

    Developer & Publisher: Steel Crate Games

    Platforms: Samsung Gear VR, PC: Oculus Rift DK2 Optional, PlayStation VR,additional platforms TBA

     

    If you’re looking for a bonding experience to die for, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is the game that’ll keep on giving.

    Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a co-op puzzle game created and published by Ottawa-based company Steel Crate Games. The game was released in 2015—pretty good, given that Steel Crate was established in January 2014—and was originally derived from a prototype made in 48 hours that generated outstanding positivity ratings. The idea of the game is simple: you and one or more friends get to disarm bombs through kick-ass teamwork. Sounds fun, right?

    It also does away with all narrative structure, taking players straight to every secret agent’s worst nightmare by trapping the main player in a cozy little room with crap wooden walls (just in case the situation wasn’t flammable enough) and making it his or her mission to defuse a bomb according to instructions given by his or her fellow agents—in this case, that’s your lovely, but highly inexperienced friends.

    Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is thus a communicative enterprise between the main player and his/her teammate(s), who have the responsibility of instructing said player in the delicate method of bomb disarmament; the player isn’t even allowed to look at the manual. Thankfully, the game doesn’t get old as long as you and your friends enjoy puzzles—and absurd ones at that. There is a vast catalogue of situations you can choose to get yourself out of, all varying according to the structure of the bomb, the complexity of disarmament, and the time you’re allotted. You’ll choose this in the menu section when you first open up the program. You will also return to this menu once you have either blown up or prevented the explosion.

    The game was designed for pure kicks, for the players’ and probably for Steel Crate’s as well. The graphics are fairly detailed yet cartoony, which emphasizes the video game’s overall cheeky tone. You can tell that the designers were thrilled by the prospect of developing the most absurd bombs conceivable; which, apart from the kitchy, arcade-like bomb components of the bombs themselves, is evidenced by the 23 page instruction booklet that contains fairly opaque instructions for disarmament. What kind of explosive has four battery slots and needs you to key in a color code according to which colored light flashes? It’s like playing Dance Dance Revolution except that you’re probably going to die because your friends are too busy arguing over how to interpret the second part of the instructions—while you sit there with a ticking bomb, unable to diffuse the situation (ha).

    The greatness of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes lies in its simplicity. By choosing such a basic premise, the three-person company made sure that, despite their small team, they could not fail. By focusing efforts on re-constructing the concept of bomb defusal in conjunction with the idea of teamwork, they were able to flesh out a well-organized program with fairly detailed graphics. Its structure (or lack thereof) also meant that they could expand the amount of trials (or bomb cases), enabling players to pick from a wide range of bombs depending on the difficulty level they desire. Freedom from narrative structure allows this autonomy, which again only adds to the experience. It’s a game that sets out to be fun, and doesn’t claim to do or be anything beyond a hilarious way to waste time.

     

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  • 10 Cloverfield Lane

    ★★★★★

    Director: Dan Trachtenberg

     

    If you’re at the cinema in the next few days, you’ll be forgiven for looking up at the screenings board and thinking, “wait, they made a Cloverfield sequel?”

    Indeed, in one of Hollywood’s more elusive and obscure follow ups, it would appear that post Deadpool and pre Captain America: Civil War (and however many other sequels/franchise movies we are getting), we have 10 Cloverfield Lane. And, there’s more to talk about than just the fact that this movie exists, because (plot twist) it’s pretty kick-ass. Right out the gate the film slaps you into your seat with one of the most attention grabbing opening titles one could imagine, and insists that you stay frozen in shock/suspense/intrigue/disbelief for the next 100 minutes. Perhaps those with severe anxiety should steer clear, but for anyone with a taste for the thrilling, or the science fiction, or just a well crafted experience, this is the golden ticket.

    Plot wise, the film picks up with the same “the world’s ending, what’s going on” vibe of the first film. Initially we are drawn to the character Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who finds herself with strangers Howard and Emmett in a stranger’s survival bunker with little knowledge of what’s going on outside. During an elaborate (and failed) escape plan, Michelle discovers a woman begging to get into the bunker who is riddled with a severe skin infection, the woman dies, and lo and behold, Michelle decides it might be safer to stay in the bunker with Howard and Emmett.  

    Cabin fever abounds, and it’s the interaction between these three characters that cranks this movie up to 11/10. All in all, this movie achieves everything it sets out to do, and forms one of the more memorable film experiences of 2016 thus far. Who knows where this franchise will go, but I know I’ll be first in line for 11 Cloverfield Lane, 12 Cloverfield Lane, Cloverfield Reborn, Cloverfield: The Beginning, and Cloverfield: Legacy, (all working titles at the studio I’m sure).

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  • Kung Fu Panda 3

    ★★★

    Directors: Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni

     

    Kung Fu Panda 3’s tongue in cheek opening scene carries a tone that’s maintained throughout the film, especially when stereotypical narrative devices such as dramatic entrances and expository monologuing are brought to viewers’ attention and gently made fun of.

    Jonathan Aibel and Glen Berger, the seasoned writing team, are evidently returning to the tried-and-true, which quickly manifests in a disastrous first training session that harks back to Kung Fu Panda 1, right down to Po overhearing negative things about himself. That’s not the only thing that crops up; from supposedly blank scrolls to more stair jokes, to Po’s delightful naivety in regards to his parentage, this third instalment does not hesitate to remind viewers of its origins. Oddly, I also detected a few Harry Potter elements, with Oogway playing the part of Dumbledore.

    A journey of Po’s continued self-discovery couched in kung fu, Kung Fu Panda 3 features yet another good-until-greed-for-power-corrupted-them villain with personal ties to one of the good guys. Kai makes his way out of the spirit world using chi, incapacitating the energies of kung fu masters and turning them into jade. Only a Master of Chi can stop him… we know how that ends, right?

    For all its predictability and bluntness, the film delivers some important messages: the legitimacy of multiplicity and the importance of teamwork; the importance of family in all its forms; and the philosophy of bettering oneself. Additionally, I liked the accuracy in regards to what kung fu is about, because while self-defence and physical fighting skills are important, there is a very big component of self-discipline and mental strength in all of the martial arts.

    To conclude: Kung Fu Panda 3 has a solid delivery of familiar content. It’s good.

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  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople

    ★★★★★

    Director: Taika Waititi

     

    It’s hard to imagine Taika Waititi delivering the next Thor instalment after his cinematic catalogue of New Zealand stories, from Boy to What We do in the Shadows. It’s a hell of a career leap to make. However, if he aspires to permanently shift into Hollywood blockbusters, then at least his latest work Hunt for the Wilderpeople will cement his legacy as one of the most influential in NZ film comedies.

    Barry Crump’s 1986 novel, Wild Pork and Watercress, has been given a revival from the ten cent shelf at your local library, with Waititi adapting the classic for Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The narrative is very similar in the two versions. A foster kid, Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) finds a suitable home in a dilapidated farmhouse in the rural east North Island with an overly enthused adoptive mother, Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her dismissive husband Hector (Sam Neill). Hector’s week long attempt to retrieve an Ricky after an escape attempt results in an erroneous allegation of kidnapping and molestation, and the pair use the bush to elude the authorities and a violently dedicated jobsworth from Child Welfare, Paula (Rachel House).

    Watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a showcase of Waititi’s technical competence. Sure, the NZ backdrop does some heavy lifting to make the film look great, but his continual use of under-lighting on characters runs parallel to the way the landscape is represented. It emphasizes key themes (like abandonment) and quite simply, makes the film beautiful to look at. Adding to its visual appeal, the film uses a lot of natural lighting—adding to the crisp, and at times, gloomy, picturesque New Zealand landscape.

    That’s not to say it wasn’t a well-financed film, though, because it was. There are CGI animals that look state of the art, and the action sequences that incorporate them are seamless. If it wasn’t for the constant sight of Swanndris, one might be uncertain whether it was in fact a NZ film.

    The film uses a lot of archaic technology, from vintage computers to the trustworthy Nokia brick. I always assumed this was to make fun of NZ’s laggard reputation, but Waititi has described his use of obsolete technology as a way of making the film timeless. His argument: with iterations of technology being released every year, what’s the point of shooting scenes with the latest technology when the movie release date is usually a year after filming; it will look irrelevant anyway. It’s a solid point, and the film indeed looks timeless. Plus, the inclusion of 80s technology and motifs help connect the Wild Pork and Watercress context to Waititi’s interpretation, which is nice for the Crump fans. 

    It doesn’t feel like a tired Sam Neill cliché for his character to go from kid-resenting grump to fully realized paternal symbol, when everything else about the characters works so well. Though both flawed, Neill’s and Dennison’s characters are so, so charming on-screen and are fully apt at weaving through the dramatic, comedic, and sad points of the script. There is no point in the film where the acting loses energy.

    Many will agree this is the best NZ film of all time. As Waititi makes like Lee Tomahori and directs behemoth action films—hopefully with better critical success—this parting gift will be treasured, especially for future NZ filmmakers who are inspired by Waititi’s cinematic benchmark. And, above all, expect to see Crump’s novel, once the staple of a thrift store, in the bestseller list for Whitcoulls. 

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  • Three Words: An Anthology of Aotearoa/NZ Women’s Comics

    ★★★★★

    Editors: Rae Joyce, Sarah Laing, & Indira Neville

    Publisher: Beatnik Publishing

     

    The first collection of its kind to be published in New Zealand, Three Words is a celebration of our female artists, writers, illustrators, and zinemakers. Some of the names here will be familiar; artists such as Sarah Laing, Anna Crichton, Kerry Ann Lee, and Sharon Murdoch are established in their fields. But, the aim of the anthology is inclusivity, and so the call was put out to any and all female artists who wanted to contribute. As such, the book serves as as a first showing for many new voices.

    Each contributor submitted three words, and in turn received three words of their own, to base a short comic on. Alongside this, contributors submitted a comic of their choosing, be it freshly drawn or unearthed from the archives. The result is an anthology which straddles the spheres of old and new, honouring past works and encouraging ongoing creativity. Ending the anthology is a selection of essays touching on such subjects as the male response to Three Words, female humour, and the colonialism in comics.

    The stories told here are both personal and public, speaking to not just the shared female experience, but also the experience of working as a woman in an environment previously (and in many ways, still) dominated by men. There is no question that Three Words is an important and much-needed addition to New Zealand’s art history.

    by

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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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