Saturday, March 19, 2011

Listening and watching

Last night I witnessed a ukelele virtuoso in action.


James Hill is amazing! Not only does he write and play great original songs, he can make a ukelele do things you wouldn't believe were possible...ukelele techno anyone? His 'Billie Jean' was a highlight (watch it, it's totally worth five minutes of your life). Also he is funny and a babe with a Canadian accent. Swoon.

So as if that wasn't enough, there was the added bonus of the Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra who are always so feel-good and fun. I've seen them twice before and every time I've loved it. They play such a wide variety of songs and they are clearly having the best time together. When James Hill joined them on stage for a few songs after their set it was like the ukelele dream team. 'Cry Me A River' was too good for words.

I was especially lucky because I got to go for freeeeee - the boyfriend of one of my flatmates was doing the lighting for the show so he got some comps. My K Road dress got an outing, so, all in all, an excellent night. I will definitely be investing in some James Hill albums (and the Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra said they have been doing some recording so there will be a new album sometime soon-ish which is very exciting!).

Another musical boyfriend of late is Aloe Blacc. I got introduced to him on the road trip up to Auckland for the show and I have listened to him pretty much every day for the past week. This clip of him singing one of his songs in what seems like a subway station is so cute.

Other things I've seen since I've been back in Wellington...An excellent play, The Idea of America. The best I've seen at BATS in ages. Such strong performances from everyone in the cast and some great writing. On  Thursday night I saw an interesting piece by Eko and their Southern Corridor Project, Crossing Lines, which explored a social dialogue between "people within the Maori, Somali and artistic communities of South Wellington". A scene in which the Maori characters and the Somali characters taunt each other about land and belonging was particularly powerful and I loved watching a scene performed entirely in Somali - I don't think I'd ever heard the Somali language spoken before; it was definitely an interesting experience sitting amongst Somali audience members who were laughing at what was being said and clearly enjoying it while I had absolutely no idea what was going on. A lovely Somali man, whom I spoke to a little bit more after the show, leaned over during the scene and explained that they were talking about how much sugar one of the characters wanted in his tea (five spoonfuls - apparently they like their tea very sweet in Somalia!). It must be pretty rare for the Somali community in Wellington to see themselves and their language on stage so I really hope the project contines/develops further.

Classic movie Sunday was back in full force last weekend. We watched Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? which is freeeeaky.


It stars Bette Davis (whom I loved in All About Eve) as an ageing former child star 'caring' for her disabled sister and Joan Crawford (also pretty awesome) as the sister confined to a wheelchair and at the mercy of the increasingly unstable 'Baby Jane'. Like many classic movies, it's long. And it got pretty frustrating watching Baby Jane's awful manipulation of the helpless Blanche play out relatively slowly, but Bette Davis does an excellent job of making Baby Jane one of the most disturbing characters I've ever seen and there's a satisfying twist at the end.


We then went all out and watched Annie Hall. I'd never seen a Woody Allen film before so I'm glad my first was this one. Diane Keaton's Annie Hall is so endearing and from what I've read about the film and Allen and Keaton, it seems like they are playing versions of themselves (especially considering they did have a relationship in the 1970s and Diane Keaton's nickname is Annie and her original surname is Hall) which must be why they do it so well. I really enjoyed the film and Allen uses quite a lot of quirky techniques throughout (in one scene Annie and Alvy [Allen's character] are talking to each other about photography while what they're each actually thinking comes up as subtitles; in another a man is talking loudly about Marshall McLuhan [someone I'd never heard of but who was apparently a well-known media theorist] while waiting in line for tickets to a movie, Alvy steps out of the line and complains to the camera about how annoying the guy is and how he's wrong about McLuhan, the guy then steps out and defends himself, and finally the real Marshall McLuhan appears from behind a posterboard and tells the guy he actually is wrong).

Despite Allen's questionable personal moral choices, Annie Hall made me think I might like to see more of his movies as I especially liked that while Annie Hall is essentially a romantic comedy, it didn't have a typically happy ending.

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