The Review

Theatre, film, dance, exhibitions

In which I spend a bit of time before breakfast browsing through the new paper that arrived in my letterbox... the good, bad and meh

My first impression is that we're going to get on rather well. Good looking, a sparky conversation starter, full of top yarns, and with a serious side. Yes, me and the new compact/tabloid Herald are going to get along just fine.

On day one, anyway.

RNZ's Mediawatch, in its own words, "looks critically at the New Zealand media – television, radio, newspapers and magazines as well as the 'new' electronic media." So why doesn't it criticise the train wreck which Morning Report is rapidly becoming?

I don't agree with those who say bring back Sean Plunket. He's found his metier over at Newstalk ZB, thundering away provoking the talkback callers. And I'm not a snob about talkback either. (Disclosure: I'm an irregular, unpaid, panel guest on Plunket's programme).

It's odd. For an industry based on looking good, the fashion industry seems to know next-to nothing about presentation

When it comes to fashion, calling me a layman would probably be generous. Well, maybe by the standards of most bloggers, I'm not that bad, and I know my Ralph Lauren from my Marc Jacobs, but I don't pay much attention to labels and have never been to Fashion Week. Until yesterday, that is.

Does Glee’s swag of Emmy nominations make me any less tragic?

Does it make it better, or worse, to confide that the black-and-white habitué and I watch Glee, curled up in the firelight, glass in hand? (The drop in the glass is for me, and my friend sings, purrfectly.)

A stage full of actors at the height of their powers--what could be better? A review of Sean Matthias' production of Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett wrote “Waiting for Godot” after the Second World War, when he had been settled in Paris for twenty years or so. He had become completely bilingual, and the play as first performed at the Théâtre de Babylone in 1953 was almost certainly first conceived and written in French.

Sport has the rare and valuable magic of uncertainty in an otherwise formulaic world, as the All Whites proved again today

And that, my compatriots, is why sporting rights – and sports teams – have been central to Rupert Murdoch's success in building several television empires. A sit-com or drama can engross us, current affairs can change the way we think, but only sport is electric, as we saw in South Africa early this morning.

The world's fattest mum, the nutso who tasered a pregnant lady, and senior citizens making their own coffins. This is what constitutes quality current affairs? Come on, we deserve better

Last night I watched Tim Wilson slap a 600-pound woman on the stomach.

The film version of The Time Traveler’s Wife could be a clever metaphor, cynical exploitation, or just a bit of a flub

I was broken when I read The Time Traveler’s Wife; it crept inside and stayed. So the film version, screening here from December 3, was hard to watch.

Hilary Mantel's award-winning Wolf Hall skillfully dances the line between fiction and biography

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, even if it hadn't won the Man-Booker Prize this year, will surely install her as one of the great inventive stylists of English literature. Compared with A.S.

Sarah Palin's Going Rogue is a campaign book delightfully free of boring old policy and so is a sure fire dog whistle to her adoring base. It reinforces why she should never be President, but who the heck does the Republican Party have as an alternative candidate vaguely as charismatic as Caribou Barbie?

Every now and then we face really tough decisions…I mean capital ‘T’ tough. This week’s was whether or not to spend $34 on Sarah Palin’s God-bothering, petty and vindictive score-settling payback and thereby contribute to ‘the cause’ so to speak. Did I? You betcha!

The good news is that not all of Generation Y are narrow-minded, egotistical trivialists and TV3 has created a great new comedy show

I've just spent part of last night and much of this morning reading the entries in the best feature section of the 2009 Aotearoa Students' Press Association awards. I must say, I was surprised.

The converted will love this docudrama’s preachy tone. They chortle at the green in-jokes, and give it a round of applause. It has a message for New Zealanders, but will it reach a wider audience?

I’m sorry about what follows. It feels a lot like farting in church.

Novelist Margaret Drabble's self-exposure in a new autobiography is both uncomfortable and illuminating

This year’s valedictory in the Eng. Lit. School of Life is given by the Head Girl, Margaret Drabble.

Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Borat, aka Bruno, is hilarious, insightful and cool in an ironic, knowing way... unless you don't get the joke

You can't really protect people from their own ignorance, it seems, and why would you when it's so easy to squeeze belly laughs and millions of dollars from their lack of insight?

Wellington's Circa Theatre tackles the difficult Spanish drama Blood Wedding with mixed results

Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca, which dates from 1933, is the first of a trilogy of late dramatic works, written in blank verse—the others are Yerma (1935) and The House of Bernada Alba (1936)—and performed in the years immediately preceding the Spanish Civil War of which Lorca himself was an ear

Alain de Botton’s latest foray, into The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, is for the vocationally-challenged, not romantically-inclined

Alain de Botton and I parted company a while ago. As he’s said himself, Essays in Love and The Romantic Movement are books for a certain age and stage.

I know there are few things more insufferable than hearing about a person's favourite television show, but you really, really, really need to watch The Wire

Since Christmas last year, I have devoted approximate 80 hours of my life to watching (and partially rewatching) all five series of The Wire on DVD. I can think of few better uses I could have made of that time.

Alex Ross has written a useful and user-friendly history of 20th century music—from an American point of view

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, by Alex Ross, can lay some claim to being the music book of the decade.

Keith Ovenden's cultural highlights of 2008

2008 was the year that the Age of Trash started to falter. That’s the optimist in me. In March we were treated to an evening of modernist music from France as a part of the International Festival of the Arts.

Don Quixote is a delight; Mommies who drink; I want a house like she's got

And yet how lovely life would seem if every man could weave a dream to keep him from despair...

Superb production of Jenůfa allows us to walk into a world we have, thankfully, lost

The NBR New Zealand Opera production of Janáček’s Jenůfa  has been warmly received in both Auckland and Wellington, and there are many good reasons why.

Australian artist Fiona Hall, now showing at Wellington's City Gallery, fritters her considerable talents on market-driven conceptual art

Force Field, an exhibition of works by Fiona Hall, is at the City Gallery, Wellington until October 19.