Australian feature film Jugular opens this year’s Melbourne Underground Film Festival. In it my friend goes crazy and there’s a scene in my apartment. Allow me to explain.READ MORE
What makes a film funny? What makes a film serious? The answer to that question isn’t as self-explanatory as it sounds, and is not determined by a simple matter of intent.
The horror genre is known for movies considered “so bad they’re good” — productions that wanted to be one thing and, having failed, are enjoyed because they achieved the opposite of what they set out to do.
The truth is that virtually any drama can be a comedy (and vice versa) through a simple change of emphasis. Try speaking in the silliest and most ridiculous sounding voice you can, then say the words “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” You’re doing comedy. However, if that line happens to be delivered gravely at the end of a film about the rejection of once-desired love, it is dramatic. Even tragic.READ MORE
In Rob Reiner’s A Few Good Men (1992), one of the most enthralling court room scenes in cinema history is followed by one of the cheesiest. After a blistering monologue expounding notions of power, responsibility and things “you don’t talk about at parties” Col. Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) is lured into a confession by wily hotshot prosecutor Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise).
Their Sorkin-scribed cross-examination is famous because it’s great, a five word line — “you can’t handle the truth” — burnt into the popular lexicon. After it, whining like a punished school boy, one of the two accused soldiers flaps around, livid about being found guilty.
Prompted by a sudden change in heart, the other tells him, with a sorrowful look in his eyes, that they got their just desserts. “We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves,” he says. “We were supposed to fight for Willy.” Violin strings soar. Tom Cruise, to the tune of a thousand audience groans, responds: “You don’t need to wear a patch on your arm to have honour.”READ MORE
A fame-hungry hothead boulders up to our hero Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and asks “how ‘bout a million hits on YouTube?” He starts swinging his fists while a companion films the altercation on a smartphone, hoping to capture something that collects more hits than Old Spice or the Star Wars Kid.
When our villain, self-assigned the no-frills moniker “Motherfucker” (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) robs a convenience store and discovers there aren’t any surveillance cameras recording him, his first response is to say “how is this supposed to go viral?”
Motherfucker joins Twitter (“he’s got like a thousand followers already”) and rises to fame. “I want to kill Kick Ass with my bare hands,” he says, all muahahahahaha, to himself. Then adds: “I’ve gotta tweet about this.”READ MORE
Dror Moreh scored the coup of a lifetime when he sat down to talk to all surviving heads of Israeli intelligence agency, the Shin Bet. His Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers explores the grey areas of war and terrorism.READ MORE
Flexing a huge steroid-optimised body painstakingly sculptured as a monument to itself, gym junkie and personal trainer Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is determined to take his knack for physical progress to the world of business and influence.
In Pain & Gain, Daniel is inspired by motivational speaker and full-time “do-er” Ken Jeong (Johnny Wu). Jeong became a financial hotshot, traded his wife in “for seven hunnies of which I can choose” and — for a price — encourages hopefuls to do the same. Jeong’s shopping mall sermons and self-help commercials are the catalyst for Daniel to get up off his well-toned arse and make a play for high society.
“I just want a big fat lawn I can mow until the sun comes down,” Daniel’s boyishly naive voice-over narration tells us. We see him sitting on a ride-on mower, sparkles coming out his wide eyes, but it’s a chimera: the stuff below his feet is AstroTurf, not grass. He’s in a show room.READ MORE
Writer/director Neill Blomkamp fires up the political allegory-o-matic in Elysium, a futuristic sci-fi based in a universe where high society live on a massive Utopian wheel floating in space and plebeians reside below them, bossed around by droids on an impoverished robot-ruled earth.
Max (Matt Damon) will do anything to walk the bright green grass (way) above him, and, more urgently, to take advantage of Elysium’s self-serve healthcare system, which can cure leukemia in, oh, thirty seconds.
Like Vincent (Ethan Hawke), the protagonist of Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca (1997) — of which Blomkamp’s louder and brassier movie shares several similarities — Max’s days are numbered, having suffered a good old fashioned burst of fatal radiation poisoning. Also like Niccol’s similarly cautious “how do you measure progress?” space drama, Elysium’s upper class expend considerable effort keeping working folk where they belong.READ MORE
As the ‘Man of 10,000 Sound Effects’, his reputation precedes him. And speaking to Police Academy’s Michael Winslow doesn’t disappoint.READ MORE
Howard Hawks’ definition of a quality film was simple: three good scenes, no bad ones. I wonder how that definition applies to The Turning, an Australian anthology feature adapted from a collection of short stories by Tim Winton. It’s comprised of 18 independent segments directed by a war chest of behind the camera muscle including Tony Ayres, Warwick Thornton, Justin Kurzel, Jonathan auf der Heide and Robert Connolly, who also served as producer and curator.
The Turning premieres the directorial careers of David Wenham and Mia Wasikowska. The cast includes Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Miranda Otto, Richard Roxburgh and Hugo Weaving. The running time clocks in at a whopping 180 minutes. In a sense it is nothing but a collection of scenes, a suite of microcosms about people, places and emotions loosely connected to the masthead.READ MORE
Australian cinema has been stuffed to the gills with films like writer/director Rhys Graham’s Galore: airy, well acted, technically proficient and emotionally unsatisfying down in the dumps dramas that have slowly eroded the general public’s faith in local cinema’s ability to entertain them. Entertainment is a misunderstood word (especially in this business) too often associated with things like comedies and high seas adventures. When hangings and crucifixions were de rigueur weekend activities, crowds went to be entertained.
It became evident that something had gone badly wrong when “Australian film” came to be regarded, in a perverse way, as a genre itself, a tufted rug of conventions intended to satisfy the palettes of latte sipping city slickers.READ MORE
“In this movie for the first time we finally explore what it’s like to live almost indefinitely with regret and pain,” said Hugh Jackman, on the promotional circuit to advertise his sixth incarnation of Marvel’s famous fork-armed hero. According to the 44-year-old former Boy from Oz, who bulked up for his latest role so much he looks both super fit and kind of freaky, this is the Wolverine movie he always wanted to make.
It’s a given that one should never trust an actor doing PR, but Jackman is a special breed of snake oil salesman. His ability to earnestly enunciate various iterations of “cha-ching” doesn’t come naturally to everybody.
“When I read the script for The Fan I was very happy, because I thought it was very funny,” he said last January, discussing the merits of one of his lesser known producions. It wasn’t a comedic remake of the 1996 Robert DeNiro thriller. It was a commercial for Lipton Iced Tea.READ MORE
After the halcyon highs of my bone-jittering 4D interview with The World’s End director Edgar Wright, things came crashing back to earth when I sat down for a chat with stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.READ MORE
ABC3’s upcoming 13-part series Nowhere Boys is geared towards a young adult audience, but going by the first four episodes both grown-ups and adolescents will find it addictive viewing.READ MORE
Stephen King never forgave Stanley Kubrick for messing with The Shining. Changes Kubrick made to the storyline are regarded by the horror word slinger as more ghastly than any of his macabre creations. Kubrick also incurred the wrath of Anthony Burgess, who, after watching A Clockwork Orange, came to regret writing it in the first place. “The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about,” he mourned, “and the misunderstanding will pursue me till I die.”
The same cannot be said of best-selling British novelist Nevil Shute’s attitudes towards changes director Stanley Kramer made to his magnum opus On the Beach. They didn’t pursue him till he died; they killed him. Shute was so livid about Kramer’s 1959 production, starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, he worked himself into a fatal stroke (age 60) a month after it premiered. The author is chronicled in Australian director Lawrence Johnston’s feature documentary Fallout, which follows Shute’s colourful life and evolution into a career as a storyteller, regarded by the celebrated author as a “pansy” profession.READ MORE
Have you ever watched a film critic interview a major film director inside a 4D cinema, while watching a 4D movie? Let’s assume the answer is no. Therefore, you’ve come to the right place.READ MORE
There is something deliciously appealing about a Hollywood movie that casts stars as themselves, congregates them at a celebrity bash then interrupts the drug taking and poolside schmoozing with a biblical apocalypse that rockets their famous faces to the afterlife.
The key setting in This is the End, written and directed by Pineapple Express scribe Evan Goldberg and star Seth Rogen, is James Franco’s house. Naturally, the famously multi-talented Franco designed it himself, one of countless gags that riff on assumptions of celebrities and the baggage their on-screen personalities carry into “real-life.”
Michael Cera plays a horny coke fiend because (ho ho) his squeaky clean image is closer to Milkybar Kid than movie star. After spotting Seth Rogen at the airport, a passer-by mocks him for always playing the same character and in the resulting two hours Rogen plays (ho ho) his signature weed puffing, munchies chomping, lovable lug character.READ MORE
The gatekeepers of Australian film financing bodies, baby boomers who were shaggy-haired youth when Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider sparked the American film renaissance of the 60s and 70s, came to view the emergence of blockbusters and middle of the road multiplex movies as something to be wary of. Buoyed by government funding, they crossed the street and took it upon themselves to finance and re-finance “artistic” films with virtually no commercial potential and, often, virtually no sense of art.
There have been many successes along the way but the failures are too many and varied to name. Recently the Australian film industry couldn’t make a sports movie about football; it had to be a coastal-set drama about the emotional aftermath of rape. We couldn’t do a superhero movie; a caped crusader storyline was a disguise for a somber exploration of mental illness, ensuring an otherwise built-in audience would stay away in droves. We couldn’t make a cricket tournament movie; it had to use the pitch as a metaphor for moving from one phase of adult life to the next.READ MORE