Bluey gives fans hope for the future, reviewers hide from Swiftie death threats and MICF announce 2024 winners

Bluey gives fans hope for the future, reviewers hide from Swiftie death threats and MICF announce 2024 winners
  • PublishedApril 25, 2024

The world is currently suffering a case of Swift-itis after Taylor released her 11th LP on Friday. The Tortured Poets Department turned out to be a surprise double album and it has received a … tepid response (more on that later).

But for those who haven’t jumped aboard the Taylor train, here’s what you missed over the weekend in entertainment.

Bluey drops surprise episode, delights parents worldwide

Parents (and non-parents) across the globe had one question after the season three finale of Bluey dropped last week: Is this the end?!?!

The 28-minute-long episode The Sign saw our Blue Heeler fam make the big decision to put their beloved Paddington residence up for auction. The episode ends (spoiler alert) with daddy Bandit pulling the “For Sale” sign out of the grass, before he pulls his family into a cuddle puddle.

The ambiguous ending left many wondering if pulling a sign out of the ground is a legally binding closure of sale, but (spoiler alert: 2 Fast 2 Spoil) it is!!

While most of us were snoozing soundly on Sunday morning, a surprise episode of Bluey, aptly named Surprise!, dropped on ABC iview. Chock-full of the heartwarming familial lessons that Bluey fans know and love, the episode features (spoiler alert three: The Spoilening) a rare flash-forward to a near future complete with flying drones, robot cleaners, a grown-up Bluey and a Heeler grandchild!!!

Of course, the internet is already set on finding out who is the father of Bluey’s babe.

In order to keep Surprise! a surprise, ABC went so far as to falsely list a Bluey re-run in television guides to throw fans off the scent.

“Bluey’s hallmark charm is that it is always surprising, and we love to do things differently to keep the fans thinking,” ABC head of children and family Libbie Doherty said.

“Our intention was for the fans to wake up to their usual ABC Kids Sunday 8am slot and be blown away by a brand-new episode.”

Further confirmation of the series’ continuation came from Bluey producer Sam Moor on BBC Radio 4, where Moor assured fans: “We have more in store and we’re thinking about what would be next.”

Is this the start of time-jump Bluey à la Rugrats: All Grown Up? Only time will tell.

— Velvet Winter

Paste Magazine anonymises Taylor Swift review for fear of death threats

Paste Magazine has opted to publish its review of Taylor Swift’s latest (double) album, The Tortured Poets Department, without a by-line, in order to avoid its author receiving “threats of violence”.

The review holds nothing back, calling the 31-track anthology a sign that “Swift no longer feels challenged to be good”, with extra disappointment reserved for the album’s lyricism (“This is your songwriter of the century? Open the schools”).

While reviews so far skew positive, Paste isn’t alone. The New Yorker has said it “suffers from being too long and too familiar” and that her work with long-term producer Jack Antonoff “has perhaps run its course”.

Upon publication, Paste released a short editor’s note, explaining why the review was anonymised: “There is no by-line on this review due to how, in 2019 when Paste reviewed [Swift album] ‘Lover’, the writer was sent threats of violence from readers who disagreed with the work. We care more about the safety of our staff than a name attached to an article.”

Reaction from Swifties has been… mixed.

Paste isn’t alone in anonymising by-lines to avoid writers getting doxxed when writing about artists with passionate stans.

In 2020, Australian pop-culture site Junkee announced it would publish potentially incendiary articles about artists with anonymous by-lines, citing multiple incidents of its writers being doxxed and harassed.

 — Jared Richards

English comedian takes top prize at Melbourne comedy festival

Non-binary English comedian Sarah Keyworth has won the top prize at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for their show My Eyes Are Up Here, besting local and international comedians including Celia Pacquola, Rose Matafeo, Lou Wall and Ray O’Leary.

The winner of most outstanding show unpacked the events of their last year, including turning 30, their ADHD diagnosis, and gender-affirming top surgery. In a review in The Age, the show was described as “a consummately delivered show by an accomplished performer who has the audience in the palm of their hand”.

Keyworth joins past winners including James Acaster, Rhys Nicholson, Sam Campbell and Hannah Gadsby.

Other winners for 2024 include Melbourne comic and medical student Noah Szto taking out best newcomer; Aaron Chen winning people’s choice for most tickets sold; Ben Russell winning directors’ choice; Dougie Baldwin winning the Golden Gibbo for best independent show; and Claire Hooper winning the Piece of Wood, the award chosen by fellow comedians.

Keyworth tours to Sydney Comedy Festival from April 24-27, and Chen from April 25-28.

— Hannah Story

Netflix true crime documentary and Civil War’s AI controversy

The creators of What Jennifer Did, a recent Netflix true-crime documentary, have been accused of manipulating or generating archival images using AI technology.

The documentary focuses on Canadian Jennifer Pan, who in 2010 was convicted for a kill-for-hire attack on her parents, resulting in her mother’s death and father’s significant injuries.

As reported by Futurism, the documentary features several images of Pan with telltale signs of AI image manipulation. One particular image shows Pan posing for a photo, smiling with her hands in peace signs, but her fingers are ill-defined, especially on her right hand. Her left shoulder is oddly shaped, and background images stuck onto furniture and the wall are confusing. 

No use of AI is included in the film’s credits.

A photo of a smiling girl in a red dress, with her hands up in peace signs with warped fingers, her left shoulder raised oddly
Note Jennifer’s fingers, her shoulder and the images on the black cabinet.(Supplied: Netflix)

People are concerned the film manipulated images, given that it’s about a real-life murder.

Executive producer Jeremy Grimaldi denied that Pan’s likeness was altered, but said he had good reason for some edits.

“Any filmmaker will use different tools, like Photoshop, in films,” he said in an interview with Canadian publication the Toronto Star.

“The photos of Jennifer are real photos of her. The foreground is exactly her. The background has been anonymised to protect the source.”

It comes after several other AI controversies, with Aussie horror Late Night with the Devil receiving criticism for its use of image generation for in-film logos and graphics, given that AI generators pull from real works without payment or accreditation.

Additionally, film studio A24 has come under fire for using AI-generation in marketing material for Civil War, its blockbuster starring Kirsten Dunst set in a near-future United States. Images posted to social media last week feature recognisable sites across the US ravaged by war, in scenes that don’t feature in the film themselves.

Zooming in reveals several issues, whether that be a soldier with a sphere for a head, a giant swan in place of a paddleboat and repeated buildings and boats. A source “close to the movie” confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter they are AI-generated images, inspired by the movie’s conceit.

Ironically, Civil War writer-director Alex Garland is probably best known for 2014 sci-fi Ex Machina, which is all about AI.

— Jared Richards

Cate Blanchett picks up movie rights for The Picture of Dorian Gray

After The Picture of Dorian Gray won two Olivier Awards last week, Cate Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton have picked up the film rights to the “cine-theatre” epic, through their production company Dirty Films.

The play, adapted from Oscar Wilde’s 19th-century novel, sees Sarah Snook (Succession) play 26 characters over the course of two hours, including the ever-youthful Dorian Gray, through the use of live performance and live and prerecorded video.

On stage, camerapeople dressed in black surround Sarah Snook. She's seen in close-up on five screens hanging from the roof.
Sarah Snook won the Olivier Award for best actor for her performance in the London season of The Picture of Dorian Gray.(Supplied: Michael Cassel Group/Marc Brenner)

The play is directed and adapted by Sydney Theatre Company’s outgoing artistic director Kip Williams. The original production, starring Eryn Jean Norvill, picked up four awards at both the 2021 Sydney Theatre Awards and the 2023 Green Room Awards for Melbourne theatre, including best actor, best production and best director.

Blanchett and Upton were co-artistic directors of Sydney Theatre Company (STC) from 2008-2012 (Upton continued solo until 2015). Their production company is behind movies and TV shows including AACTA winners The New Boy and ABC TV’s Stateless. Upton is now working with Williams on a film treatment for the one-woman show.

The Picture of Dorian Gray from STC and Michael Cassel Group continues at Theatre Royal on London’s West End until May. It is expected to transfer to Broadway in 2025.

— Hannah Story

RIP to Rihanna’s stick figure doodle

Rihanna’s fans are in mourning after the billionaire singer and beauty mogul changed her Instagram profile picture from the stick figure drawing she debuted in 2014.

FWIW, it’s been replaced to match her make-up brand Fenty Beauty’s avatar, of a product being held by a hand – but in @badgirlriri’s version, the hand is a stick figure, suggesting that our squiggly haired queen is just out of shot.

Fans are taking the change well. Thinking of that one person who has it tattooed on their body.

— Jared Richards

Eno and Devo docs at Vivid

Two exciting music documentaries will have their Australian premiere as part of Sydney’s Vivid festival next month, covering the lives and groundbreaking work of Brian Eno and Devo.

Eno promises a truly unique experience for cinemagoers, as director Gary Hustwit uses new technology to ensure no two viewings are the same.

There are “millions of possible variations of scenes” thanks to a new software system that takes hundreds of hours of Eno’s archival footage, as well as new interviews filmed for the doco, and allows Hustwit to shape them and create a new version of the film live on stage.

Given Eno’s adventurous creative spirit, it seems a fitting way to celebrate his life and work.

Devo, directed by Chris Smith (who has earned acclaim for films on Wham and Fyre Festival), is said to be the definitive documentary about the famed, energy dome-wearing Akron, Ohio band. It comes to Vivid after scoring rave reviews at its Sundance premiere earlier this year.

Both films screen at the Sydney Opera House as part of Vivid next month.

— Dan Condon

Stop right now! The Spice girls reunited for Posh’s birthday

No more explanation needed. Please enjoy the video footage. Viva forever, Spice Girls! ✌️


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