Kiwi indie B-grade sci-fi film getting traction overseas

A Kiwi film which has been a labour of love for a an Auckland artist over four years is nearing completion - and is lapping up the laughs from overseas audiences.

The Giant Papier Mache Boulder is Actually Really Heavy - or "Boulder" for short - is a comedy about three guys who are suddenly thrust into the world of an old b-grade sci-fi movie.

Chris Nicolson, who has been the everything on this film - director, financier, banker, prop-maker and more - never managed to secure funding for the film, but decided to do it anyway.

Overseas audiences seem to love it, with Chris saying that they "laugh in all the right spots".

So far, it has been entered in two film competitions, and has won two awards in the comedy categories.

The Kiwi premiere will be at the Victoria Theatre in Devonport, where some of the movie was shot, next month.

Chris Nicolson’s movie 'This giant papier mache boulder is actually really heavy' was made on a shoestring budget. Source: Seven Sharp


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The Great Kiwi Bake Off - Episode 1 Recap, cupcakes and kids' birthday treats

The jaunty music. The bunting. The soggy bottoms. The baking. Oh the baking!

Welcome to The Great Kiwi Bake Off, New Zealand. I hope you’ve eaten, because watching this on an empty stomach is the kind of torture that should only be reserved for those people you really, really do not like.

And look, there’s no point beating around the bush here. The British version of this glorious show is a modern broadcasting masterpiece. Nice telly with a deliciously sweet aftertaste, in the best way possible.

Forget politicians playing nice with their own parties and royal (baby shower) tours, this is not something we can risk screwing up, Aotearoa.

So, do Kiwi cooks have what it takes? Are our jokes just as naughty as the English greats? Apart from canned spaghetti and sausages, can anything edible really be cooked in a tent?

Guys, the answer is… yeah, I reckon.

But doing the real deciding is a duo you wouldn’t want to mess with in a dark alley armed only with a French Stick.

Meet the Dame of Desserts, Sue Fleischl, and Dean Brettschneider, the man who has baked his way around the world. She is the perfect combination of sass and serious expectations, while he plays her straight-man offsider who seems a little scared to be scary.

More importantly, we’re going to keep it simple and refer to them forever more as FleischlSchneider. 'Cos, it sounds so, uh, friendly.

To kick this whole crazy ride off, the Fleischl end of the hashtag tries to convince us cupcakes, which are the Signature Challenge, are "not terribly, technically difficult".

Sue has clearly never seen me in the kitchen.

And don’t even get me started on the children’s birthday cakes the bakers have to deliver for the Showstopper Bake. I am sweating at the very idea of ever having mini-me’s that demand I construct anything more than a supermarket sponge with a few 100’s and 1000’s.

Thankfully, these 12 bakers are exactly the kind of people you want – and expect – in the kitchen; salt-of-the-earth Kiwis (with a few quirky characters thrown in for good measure).

There’s Stacey, the stunning blue-haired, body-building, power-lifting tattoo artist, with the cake-themed outfits.

Jeff, who has eyes like the bluest ocean and a penchant for musical theatre (even if his wife calls his performance "rubbish" – hashtag SingItJeff.

Clayton’s bold approach to the first challenge is to get his "buttercream going, melting a bit of chocolate, decorate some stuff and have a beer – happy, happy". (So chilled out…show off!)

While Hottest Home Baker Joel bravely came out as a cupcake man to his rugby teammates – and then let out the Kiwiest of Kiwisms ("Aaaaaw Noooo-ah") when one of his little fellas ended up face-down on the floor.

Lovely Larissa and Adorable Annabel could be sisters. And Sonali’s relying on the luck of the Irish – and maybe getting the judges drunk on a booze-packed cupcake.

Hosts Hayley Sproull and Madeleine Sami seem to be big supporters of this tactical approach. And those two might need a wee drink.
After all, they have big shoes to fill, since, historically, Bake Off hosts are tasked with making sure TV’s nicest show doesn’t become sickly sweet.

Remember, there’s no cash prize, no car or profit to win. There’s no romance drama or singing and dancing. These people are just here to bake lovely food and, by proxy, are just lovely people.

If we didn’t have Hayley suggesting a bunny cake could maybe have real bunny in it, or Madeleine pointing out phallic decorations in the kitchen, there’s a very real concern the show would just have no bite.

And too much sweetness can be a bad thing. Just ask anyone who’s had to eat 12 birthday cakes.

There were show stopper highs and quite worrying lows. Cakes were dropped, and cakes were moist. There was dry ice and ear-less dinos and unicorns and mermaids.

In the end though, Angel Annabel was crowned the first ever New Zealand Star Baker with a buzzy bee cake that drew gasps, while Smiley Jennie, with her very wet cupcakes, and cute-but-a-little-cheaty, lolly-filled, marshmallow-coated Igloo cake, that was shown the door.

Was it a case of "I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed you sorta didn’t make any of this apart from the sponge" from FleischlSchneider? Maybe.

Should Ol’ Blue Eyes Jeff and his sloppy adult-only mess been shown the door instead? Perhaps.

But the bar has been well and truly set, the expectations shouted from the tent-top, and God help any baker who visits the supermarket on the way to the oven.

And more than anything, I hope Sue knows her probing "did you make the marshmallows?" will haunt my baking nightmares forever more.

The Great Kiwi Bakeoff is on TVNZ2 on Tuesdays at 7.30pm and then on TVNZ OnDemand

Bridget Jones is a TVNZ publicist and former entertainment reporter

Dean, Madeleine, Hayley and Sue from The Great Kiwi Bake Off.
Dean, Madeleine, Hayley and Sue from The Great Kiwi Bake Off. Source: TVNZ

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Koi Boys talk fame, reality television and life after The Voice Australia

The Koi Boys have returned to the motherland after The Voice Australia catapulted the group to fame two years ago – and just in time to perform an evening of Motown classics with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

The Koi Boys' Kevin Keepa, Danny Faifai and Nuz Ngatai joined TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning to talk about their success overseas.

Keepa said, "Lots of doors have opened for us that might not have prior to that. We’re rolling along quite nicely, actually, ‘cause we’re here – look! Keeps us foot still in the pond, so to speak".

Another member, Faifai, described their new life in Australia as "glamorous".

"Sun! Nah, at the moment, it's really cold over there. Yeah, nah, it's been great, man. We're pretty busy. We just got back from Fiji couple days ago. We've been doing functions – quite a few of them overseas," Faifai said.

"That's what The Voice has done for us – open doors."

Keepa described The Voice Australia as "an eye-opener", saying the group "went through quite a bit" during their time on the show.

"[The Voice Australia coach] Jessie J was quite cool. She had a potty mouth, you know, off-camera, but I think I remember I said that, you know, we thought we knew everything until we went on that show," he said.

One member, Ngatai, was on reality TV show The GC before appearing on The Voice Australia with the Koi Boys.

"I was already part of the boys during that time, and I was on season one and season three of The GC. I think the boys actually cameoed on the first season, where they captured me at Koi doing my own thing on the streets, so yeah, it was a great journey," Ngatai said.

Faifai said life after fame has been "pretty hectic".

"Every Sunday is just full-on. The audience comes up – it's always different, they're always from around Australia and overseas, and they’re always booking out bars – gets ugly," he said.

Keepa says there have been moments where entire restaurants have been booked out by Kiwis looking to see the group live.

"A lot of folk coming from New Zealand over to see us, so restaurant all full of Kiwis, mostly, sometimes. We always ask, ‘Any Australians here?’ No one puts up their hand up. Everyone’s Kiwis," he said.

However, he says despite the fame, the Gold Coast-based group "get homesick a lot".

"See my whānau, my family and the kai, which is always the best. Here, when you come home, not saying that – will that get me in trouble? Nah. You know, I was saying to Danny, 'Oh, you know I saw Keith Quinn on TV', and said, 'You know you're back home when you see Keith Quinn on the TV screen'. Just things like that."

Faifai says they're currently writing new music, as well as "working on a new project for 2019" – filming an unnamed reality TV series.

The Gold Coast-based group will be performing some Motown classics with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Source: Breakfast

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Kanye West meets Uganda's President, gifts him a pair of signed sneakers

Kanye West handed Uganda's president a pair of his autographed sneakers on Monday during a visit to the East African nation in which the rapper is said to be recording music in a tent.

The 74-year-old President Yoweri Museveni said he and West held "fruitful discussions" about promoting tourism and arts. He also gave West and his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, "Ugandan" names, the State House said in a Facebook post.

The couple has been vacationing in a national park in Uganda while excited tourism officials see the visit as an endorsement of the country's tourism potential.

Kanye West gifted the president a pair of sneakers. Source: State House Uganda

While Uganda's presidency released photos of a hoodie-wearing West meeting Museveni at the State House, some Ugandans wryly pointed out that the president cracked down on hoodies earlier this year, saying motorcycle riders could no longer wear them in a bid to fight rising crime.

Museveni, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, has been at the center of unrest in recent weeks after a local pop star-turned-opposition lawmaker, Bobi Wine, alleged torture by security forces. The government denies it.

Uganda's large youth population has increasingly expressed frustration over unemployment and accused the president of being out of touch. The government recently imposed a tax on social media and the constitution was changed to remove an age limit on the presidency, leading some to worry that Museveni plans to rule for life.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni poses with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian-West. Source: Facebook/Stet House Uganda


Project Runway NZ Recap: Teams of two and the ego of one

Within the first few seconds of the show, the judges’ choices in the previous episodes move Kerry to wonder what they really want from the designers. By the end of the hour, I’ll be wondering the same.

In a computer recycling facility, Andreas tells the designers that they will need to integrate outdated technology into a fashionable two-piece look. For this first unconventional material challenge, designers will work in teams of two.

The designers ready to take on this week's challenge.
The designers ready to take on this week's challenge. Source: Tom Hollow

Matt who doesn’t like unconventional materials is paired with Beau.

Although Kerry protested her taste in the previous challenge, he seems happy to be teamed up with Judy.

Jess isn’t thrilled to be working with Massey.

Massey and Jess sketch their designs in the computer recycling facility. Source: Tom Hollow

The other teams are Caitlin and Benjamin, Misty and Beth, and Cami and Peni.

After 15 minutes collecting materials around the facility, and with $150, the designers go on the search of fabrics to complement their designs.

In the workroom, Peni checks out and allows Cami to run the show. She’s been top three in the last two runways, so she must know what she’s doing.

Matt senses Beau is not helping him and worries that he will throw him under the bus. He may be right. Beau’s made up his mind about Matt the moment they were paired. He’s not willing to compromise his designs to work along with Matt’s ideas.

The next day when Andreas comes for feedback, he tells Caitlin and Benjamin that passing electric cord as leather may not work. Benjamin disagrees and is confident they’ll make it work.

Cami and Peni try to come up with a unique design.
Cami and Peni try to come up with a unique design. Source: Tom Hollow

When the models come for a fitting, Cami and Peni have nothing for their model to try on. They have created a textile out of green electronic boards joint together by copper wiring, but they haven’t assembled the garment yet. I like the pieces they’ve created, but they look more like accessories than a suitable material for a dress.

On the day of the runway show, Georgia asks Beau how well he and Matt worked together. He sells Matt down the river and says it was challenging.

Georgia – who I must say is doing a fantastic job as the host of the show, introduces the regular judges, Sally-Ann and Benny, plus guest judge Stephen Tilley, an international fashion photographer.

After the anonymous runway show, Massey and Jess’ corporate futuristic look, and Caitlin and Benjamin’s cord passing by leather design put them through next week’s episode.

This week's safe looks, Caitlin and Benjamin's on the left, and Massy and Jess' on the right.
This week's safe looks, Caitlin and Benjamin's on the left, and Massy and Jess' on the right. Source: Tom Hollow

From the winning team, one designer will be this week’s winner, and from the losing team, one will walk.

Misty and Beth are both happy with their collaboration. The combination of 1950s silhouette and Maori patterns celebrating strength and empowerment is a winning look with the judges. Sally-Ann loves the panelling, and guest judge Stephen admires the use of colour. I’m happy to see Misty on the top, I’ve liked her previous designs.

The glamorous look for a mature goth girl that Kerry and Judy have created is a success among the judges. The use of telephone cord as sleeves in the jacket designed by Kerry prompts Benny to label it ‘Vodafone goth’ and fashion forward.

I believe it’s a great look and without a doubt the best design on the runway this week.

This week's looks at the top. Kerry and Judy's on the left, and Misty and Beth's on the right.
This week's looks at the top. Kerry and Judy's on the left, and Misty and Beth's on the right. Source: Tom Hollow

The judges are impressed by the skirt in Matt and Beau’s ensemble. Beau swiftly takes credit for it and tells them it is VHS tape stapled to organza with computer keys covering each staple. But that’s about the only thing they like about the design.

Benny questions the sexiness of the over-sized minimal look top created by Matt. Sally-Ann is the only one who commends him for sticking to what he likes, shame there’s no more cohesion in the look. Sure, but let’s not forget that early on the show Beau announced he wasn’t willing to compromise his vision. So, who’s at fault for the lack of cohesion?

Although Cami loves the movement and colours of their design, both Peni and her agree they could have spent more time putting it together. I can’t see the two distinct pieces that they were expected to create. I only see a dress.

The looks that got with the lower scores. Cami and Peni's, and Matt and Beau's.
The looks that got with the lower scores. Cami and Peni's, and Matt and Beau's. Source: Tom Hollow

Peni tries to defend this arts and craft mess as something a young artist would wear to a music awards show. Why? Because young people have no taste?

Although their design needs work, Georgia knows women who would wear pieces like this on the carpet. Stephen says it’d make a great editorial piece, and Sally-Ann also sees it at a music awards show. Benny is the only one who calls it what it is, a "visual nasty rash".

The winning team is Kerry and Judy, Kerry is named this week’s winner. The losing team is Matt and Beau.

Matt walks. I’m scratching my head on this one. I thought this was a team challenge, and Beau’s remarkable sexy skirt should have been enough to carry them both through.

Like Kerry at the start of this episode, I’m left wondering what the judges really like.

It's the end of the road for Matt.
It's the end of the road for Matt. Source: Tom Hollow

* Project Runway is on TVNZ 2 at 7.30pm on Mondays and on TVNZ OnDemand

Matt and Beau gather their unconventional materials.
Matt and Beau gather their unconventional materials. Source: Tom Hollow