Words by Michael Horn

The Umbilical Brothers are back—with a Kids Show! It’s got everything a kid could want—happy songs, silly dances, coarse language, drug abuse, graphic violence, and even an appearance by Mickey Mouse! If your child enjoys Hi-5, the Wiggles or Marilyn Manson, they’re sure to love KiDShoW. And the kids don’t get all the laughs either—Mum and Dad will appreciate the creatively colourful cursing, and everyone’s inner child will warm to the faultless impression of a small-time Docklands drug dealer eager to distribute blowjobs.

Okay, so maybe KiDSHow isn’t actually all that suitable for children below the age of 18. But adults bringing the right mix of childlike joy and bitter cynicism will find plenty to enjoy here. It must be said that at present, the show is a bit uneven. The line between hilariously disastrous ‘kids show’ and under-rehearsed festival show is sometimes blurred, and the show takes a while to really find its feet. But the Umbilical Brothers are veteran masters of slapstick and sound effects, and when they get going, moments coalesce with childlike joy into scenes of magical, fucked-up hilarity. Just leave the kids in front of Sesame Street.

KiDSHoW is on at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at the Arts Centre from 27 March to 13 April.

Words by Michael Horn

Now, don’t think I’m some kind of Wedding Planner watching, Fool’s Gold digging Matthew McConaughey fan, just because in a moment of weakness I may have conceded to a pretty girl that How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days isn’t a totally worthless movie. No way.

But I saw Dallas Buyer’s Club last week, and I’m going to have to rethink that position. Canning the bland charm that he had built a career on, McConaughey instead plays a gaunt, sick, scared, lascivious man with a big fight in him. All of a sudden, he’s more Daniel Day-Lewis than Ryan Gosling.

Dallas Buyer’s Club, directed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée, tells the story of Ron Woodroof, a Texan electrician and rodeo cowboy diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live. But, as Woodroof tells the doctor, “I got a news flash for all y’all: there ain’t nothin’ out there that can kill Ron Woodroof in thirty days”. In his quest not to be proven wrong on that point, Woodroof discovers a raft of unapproved HIV drugs available in Mexico. Before long, he’s operating a full-blown import racket—a “buyers club”—keeping himself and many others alive where doctors could not, and making a tidy profit at it.

McConaughey is a passionate degenerative revelation as Woodroof, but his supporting cast is at times less spectacular. Jennifer Garner, as Woodruff’s sympathetic but powerless doctor, looks like she thought this was a sequel to her last appearance with McConaughey, in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.  McConaughey’s Woodroof crackles with the energy of a dying man burning to live, and all she can do in response is smile coyly and giggle. Dennis O’Hare is similarly one-dimensional as the cold, money-minded hospital chief. Jared Leto, on the other hand, gives as good as he gets playing Rayon, a transexual who becomes Woodroof’s business partner and unlikely friend. Leto and McConaughey, working with a strong script, are vivid enough together to make any weaknesses of the film seem like quibbles.

Ron Woodroof was a real person; he told his story to screenwriter Craig Borten in 1992, a month before he died. After more than twenty years, his story has arrived on screen with the vitality and power to make it more than worth the wait. I never thought I’d say this, but give McConaughey the Oscar.