Our picks of the best flicks, music and stuff to read this month.
Condensing Stephen King’s petrifying cult novel down to a lean and no-doubt-mean 135 minutes, the silver screen adaptation (pictured top) follows a small town group of kids (The Loser Club) in Maine terrorised by an evil force who takes the form of malevolent, red balloon-bearing clown Pennywise. There’s some serious pedigree behind this one; in addition to springing from the twisted mind of master of fright-writing King, it’s directed by Andy Muschietti (Mama), and has a screenplay co-written by Cary Fukunaga, who kept the tension ratcheted up as the mastermind behind HBO’s True Detective. Coulrophobia or not, this seems set to be a genuine armrest-gripper, plan to avoid circuses and children’s birthday parties for a while.
With a top-notch cast of Kiwis (including Melanie Lynskey and Lucy Lawless) joined by UK legend Timothy Spall, a post-quake Christchurch setting and Carnegie-medal winning source material from one of the city’s most internationally-acclaimed writers (Margaret Mahy), this is surely a movie that should set local theatre attendance records, and is looking like one of the biggest New Zealand films of the year full stop (with a hometown premiere scheduled, to boot).
Set in the frozen wasteland of Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, this chilling modern-day western (with a nod to Silence of the Lambs) sees a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) teaming up with a damaged predator tracker (Jeremy Renner) to investigate the disturbing murder of local girl. Switching to hunting human predators, Renner’s character is a masterclass in broody intensity, ably helping the out-of-her-depth Olsen who’s been flown in from Vegas. Actor-turned-director Taylor Sheridan’s debut is an assured crime thriller based on a truly horrifying fact that will stick with you long after the credits have finished rolling.
DVD: Pecking Order
Obsession, enthusiasm and the competitive spirit are all on fine-feathered display in winning Kiwi doco Pecking Order. Members of Christchurch’s own Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club deal with an upset during their preparations for the Nationals where ribbons are everything and those that don’t get results are in danger of ending up on the dinner table.
Villains, Queens of the Stone Age
Many may have thought the team-up between Queens of the Stone Age and super-producer Mark Ronson (the man behind Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’ and Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’) a bit of an unlikely one, but the pairing pays dividends on the new Villains. Maxing out QOTSA’s long underlying tendencies to get a little bit groovy; the album sets the tone with the dance-floor swagger of ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’, the zippy ‘Head like a Haunted House’ house is a zippy crowd-pleaser, while high rotation radio single ‘The Way You Used To Do’ is the band channelled via The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Once again, the ever evolving QOTSA make rock sound minty fresh.
The Truth and Other People, Decades
Decades’ major-label debut album tells the chronological story of a break up, a catharsis of sorts for band members Emma and Liam, who had both recently experienced heartbreak in their own lives. It launches with the aggressive, riff-driven rock track of single ‘Terrified’, which sets the tone for the rest of the album; fresh, powerful, passionate and built solidly with walls of guitar, with Cameron’s vocals able to soar over the top to provide both gritty angst and delicate feeling as needed, offering the release that the album’s subject matter cries out for. Rock fans will want to pick this one up; this is a Christchurch band bound for the top.
Beautiful Trauma, Pink
Expect fireworks when Pink’s long-awaited (it’s been 5 years since The Truth About Love – 5 years!) seventh studio album, Beautiful Trauma, drops in October. The pop icon’s been taking a break to focus on her family, but new chart-topping single ‘What About Us’ shows that her skills have stayed sharp, and early talk of the album speaks of another fierce statement that will only further this musical force of nature’s rep for raw authenticity.
The killer tracks on high-rotation in the Cityscape office.
Every Where is Some Where
'In Cold Blood'
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy
Dipping back into the literary pool after taking out the Booker prize with her stunning debut The God of Small Things in 1997, Roy’s sublime storytelling is back full force with an achingly humane novel of exceptional power and potency.
Working Class Boy, Jimmy Barnes
Cold Chisel frontman and Ozrock legend, Jimmy Barnes’ Working Class Boy is a powerful reflection on a traumatic and violent childhood, this is the warts-and-all rock and roll story of how Scottish immigrant James Swan became Jimmy Barnes.