Stories from inside life's big top.

Posts by Megan Spencer

A Podcast about Precious Objects

Posted on May 15, 2017

“Objects should not ‘touch’ [us] because they are not alive. You use them, put them back in place, you live among them: they are useful, nothing more. But they touch me, it is unbearable. I am afraid of being in contact with them as though they were living beasts.” – Jean-Paul Sartre Auspicious Plastic is a monthly podcast about ‘things’ that bring meaning to our lives, and even make us happy.   When using my Mum’s old Tupperware containers as “grief therapy” after she passed away, I discovered how such simple ‘pieces of plastic’ could hold so much meaning – and emotion. And how these objects touched me so profoundly, as if animated by something deeply mystical…   I wondered how my use of…

Close To You: Lucy & Molly Dyson

Posted on May 9, 2017

History is littered with creative siblings, often in music, sometimes in film, occasionally in literature…   See the Sisters Bronte and Arquette; the Brothers Grimm and Gibb; the Coen Brothers, Baldwins, Wachowskis and Gershwins; soft-pop super-duo The Carpenters, hard-rock guitar heroes Malcolm and Angus. The families Corr, Barrymore, Boyd and Mora.   Then there are my personal faves, Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart. Seventies AM rock would have been nothing without these sisters, nor their songs Barracuda and Crazy On You. Nothing.   It’s come time to add a pair of visual artist sisters to the list: Lucy Dyson and Molly Dyson. Both are from Australia. Both live in Berlin. And both are starting to leave their mark in a serious way.  …

The Iceman Cometh: Cooperblack

Posted on April 3, 2017

The last time I interviewed Yuendemu-based musician Jeremy Conlon, he was about to release Return To The Big Eyes.   His ninth as Cooperblack – the “plug n’ play” personal music project he began in the 90s – EP ‘Big Eyes (2015) was an intimate journey through fat bass lines, intensely danceable beats and a relationship that had not long fallen through the ice…   Two years on, while the prolific musician, producer and composer’s heart has healed somewhat, his sense of reflection and musical exploration is as open and raw as ever.   2017 sees him back with No. 10, Capsule, a darker, sparser offering influenced as much by a second sojourn to Berlin as the soundscapes he discovered walking the icy climes…

Gang of Film Berlin

Posted on March 16, 2017

Ninety-nine films, four per day, one month on your butt and no end in sight…   Film festivals are fun. Invigorating. Inspiring. But it has to be said, they are also hazardous to your health – especially if you’re a film critic covering one of the biggest in the world.   Marathon swathes of time are spent away from sunlight. You spend so much time sitting in the dark you worry about turning into a vampire and getting deep vein thrombosis. Kind of insane when you think about it…   I was comprehensively reminded at the recent 2017 Berlinale, the above being the ‘statistical’ outcome from my own ’embedded’ experience there. I covered the festival for three Australian media outlets: ABC Local Radio (Overnights…

Top Ten Films From Berlinale: Megan Spencer

Posted on March 15, 2017

Megan Spencer, Guardian Australia, Radio National     1. Honeygiver Among The Dogs (Dechen Roder, BHUTAN)   Called the first ever “Buddhist film noir”, this is a breathtaking film set in the mountains of Bhutan. A policeman is sent to investigate the disappearance of a Buddhist nun, presumed murdered. Tailing the suspect – an impossibly beautiful woman deemed a “demon-ness” by the village bigots – the film becomes an ethereal treatise about the nature of reality – and  our relationship to what we ‘think’ we know. The natural and ‘sacred’ worlds crisscross at every opportunity. A profound, unpredictable, and thrilling cinematic achievement. (Panorama)   2. Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (Mathieu Denis Simon Lavoie, CANADA)   An uncompromising, confronting…

Top Ten Films From Berlinale: Teresa Vena

Posted on March 15, 2017

Guest Post: Teresa Vena,  Berliner Filmfestivals.     Honeygiver Among The Dogs by Dechen Roder This is the first film completely shot in Bhutan, with all actors native from Bhutan. Female director Dechen Roder is able to show an intriguing story in beautiful pictures, with perfect rhythm. The plot is very intelligent evoking a constant menacing atmosphere, suggesting a crime that finally never happened.   Centaur by Aktan Aryum Kubat The second film by this director from Kyrgyzstan tells in an authentic way about the loss of connection between ‘man’ and ‘nature’. The main character is played by the director himself; he has a great charisma.   Tiere (Animals) by Greg Zglinski An intriguing roller coaster ride around the topics love, trust and jealousy.…

Top Ten Films From Berlinale: Yun-hua Chen

Posted on March 15, 2017

Guest Post: Yun-hua Chen, Goethe Institute, Mosaic Space And Mosaic Auteurs.   Qiu / Inmates Audacious, sensitive, contemplative, non-judgmental, gentle and very humane, it has definitely brought new perspectives and thoughts which will stay with me for a very long time.   Small Talk The most brutally candid conversation with oneself and love letter to one’s mother that I have ever seen. I truly admire the filmmaker’s remarkable courage, tenderness and strength. Tissues needed!   Close-Knit It’s such a sweet and heart-warming film, and beautifully acted by the trio. Tissues needed – again!   Insyriated An incredibly powerful chamber piece that shows as much the outside world in turmoil as the internal state of the distressed family, stranded somewhere in Syria. It left me…

Top Ten Films From Berlinale: David Mouriquand

Posted on March 15, 2017

Guest Post: David Mouriquand, EXBERLINER, Before The Bombs Fall.   1) I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO   An unmissable offering in this year’s Panorama selection was Raoul Peck’s timely, Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro. The filmmaker takes the words of the late novelist and social critic James Baldwin, who wanted the lives of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr and Medgar Evers “to bang up against each other”, and stylishly laces his prose with archival footage and modern clips. The result is a concise, articulate and non-hectoring chronicle of black activism during the civil rights movement, which contains eerily prophetic aspects, and comes to life through the director’s status as a cinephile. Peck uses a great number of film clips in order…

Pulse Of The Rhyme: Cedric Till

Posted on January 6, 2017

One of the most impressive things about Cedric Till is the respect that he has for words.   About to turn 28, the Berlin-born rapper and spoken word artist stills rowdy rooms with the power of his poetic expression. You know something special’s about to happen when he gets up on a stage, quietly smouldering with the intensity of not only having something to say, but having thought through how to say it a thousand times over…   Up there, he lights a fire, digging deep into the machinations of his experience and fashioning carefully-chosen phrases into rhyme, rhythm and reason. No-one draws a breath until he finishes his gentle speak-singing narratives, usually flashing a wry, shy grin in conclusion.   In “a world…

Let Them Eat Cake: Lyndal Walker

Posted on January 3, 2017

I’ve always been fond of ‘goo’.   It’s the name of my favorite Sonic Youth album. It’s one of my favorite words, caught somewhere between “coo” and “gum”.   And ‘goo’ has always been one of my favorite things to eat, especially if it’s coloured pastel pink. Growing up in the 70s I consumed my fair share, especially ‘Junket‘, one of my mother’s specialties.   It would arrive as ‘sweets’ at dinner parties, often on the heels of pineapple ham steaks or chicken chow mein. It was the gelatinous, wobbly version of musk sticks, fridge-set, in tall curvy glasses on stems. A sugar coma in the making, us kids couldn’t get enough of it.   All these years later and on the other side…