Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: A Single Man

A Single Man
Dir. Tom Ford
Year: 2009
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 101mins

The debut film from fashion designer Tom Ford is the cinematic equivalent of an actress with excessive plastic surgery. A Single Man may look perfect, but scratching the surface just a little and I found that the film’s style is the result of too much preening, polishing and enhancing. Ford’s film is an addict for prettiness and in the process resembles an excessively over-designed photo shoot rather than a film.

You can read the rest by clicking over to Trespass Mag and let me know what you think? Were the film's technical aspects a help or a hindrance?

I didn't get to mention it in the review - or, I did, but I had to cut it out due to word limits - but in the part about how overly designed the film is, I made a query regarding the production design. That house that Colin Firth's George lives in is gorgeous, yes, but was anybody else confused by the fact that this gay man in the 1960s lived with his boyfriend in a house made entirely out of glass? Architecturally it was stunning, but a man who so obviously tries to keep his sexuality a secret, I couldn't think of anything sillier than living in a house where anyone could see inside. That just struck me as... off. C (although Firth's performance could probably bump it up to a C+ if I'm feeling generous.)

Katherine Heigl and Matthew Goode Should Make a Movie Together...

...and then they can both trash it to kingdom come at a conveniently post-release time. We've all heard what Katherine Heigl has said about some of her output - Knocked Up is sexist for one thing, Grey's Anatomy don't give her enough to do for another - and Matthew Goode is, it seems, desperate to keep up with her in the slagging rights. He insulted fans of Watchmen, which was quite hilarious, and now he's ripping Leap Year, a romcom with him and Amy Adams, a new one.

It's turgid. I just know that there are a lot of people who will say it is the worst film of 2010.

[The location] was the main reason I took it -- so that I could come home at the weekends. It wasn't because of the script, trust me. I was told it was going to be like The Quiet Man with a Vaughan Williams soundtrack, but in the end it turned out to have pop music all over it. Do I feel I let myself down? No. Was it a bad job? Yes, it was. But, you know, I had a nice time and I got paid.

You might've thought something would tick inside his brain when the make-up department made him sport that ridiculous goatee. Somebody at Cinematica mentions a wonderful Michael Caine quip re Jaws 3:

"I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."

And now here is a picture of Matthew Goode wearing nothing but a flag!

Celine on the Big Screen

Yes, I saw Celine: Through the Eyes of the World last night - with the fabulous Adem Ali, might I add - and it was certainly an experience to say the least. Watch as Celine sings surrounded by flying pianos! Watch as Celine runs through the entire first act of her concert in fast-forward! Watch as Celine does hand choreography! Watch as Celine adopts South Korea! Watch as Celine visits a concentration camp!

All of those do indeed happen in this movie, which is why this movie was amazing. You'll have to wait for a full write up however since I am waiting for the DVD release if you, ahem, know what I mean! Until then, marvel at this photo of me hugging Celine Dion...'s poster.

Oh Celine! You amaze me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thai Sell

Thailand appears to be one of those countries that, for some period of time at least, had some really creative movie poster designers. While most "hip" people think the Polish and the Czech's have a monopoly on the best international posters, I beg to differ. A lot of them are ugly and don't do anything to actually SELL the movie they're advertising, which is a big faux pas if you ask me. My New Plaid Pants directed me to this list at io9 of some fantastic Thai movie posters from the 1980s, which were, in turn, taken from Bangkok 1080.

Some of these are truly amazing and filled with eye-popping goodness. They're all incredibly '80s with their hand drawn montages and low-budget horror movie titles. I've included my favourites below but check out both of those links for all of them.

There are two more that I would like to share. This one for ET: The Extra Terrestrial scares the living daylights outta me! Yikes! And I love how this poster for A Nightmare on Elm St Part II includes the image of the high school gym teacher who goes to S&M bars and gets tied up in the school locker room while being pelted with balls. No, seriously, that shit really happens!

I feel better knowing all of these posters exist, don't you?

To Casey Becker, With Love

Happy Birthday for yesterday, Drew Barrymore. You'll always be Casey Becker hanging from a tree with your intestines hangin' out to me! I look forward to the day when you start receiving "lifetime achievement" awards and in the montage they place your scream from E.T. next to your scream in, er, Scream. It'll be some of the greatest juxtaposition EVER!

I haven't seen Whip It, but I included it because it will be arriving in the mail tomorrow and I can't help but assume that I will love it like a prize-winning pet.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


The first DVD I ever owned was The Bone Collector. It was the free one that came with my first DVD player and it was actually the best of the three options they provided. While I had seen the movie at some point on VHS, I have never actually sat down and watched it on DVD. The very first DVD I ever owned and never even been watched, seems a little bit sad actually. I changed that last night, however, when I had one of those strange desires that wash over everyone every once in a while. I even watched it after Sunday night's episode of Bones to just give the night a theme.

The movie doesn't exactly cry out for extensive discussion, although it did make me think about several things. Such as Queen Latifah and how this was the first thing I had ever seen her in and was so surprised. Latifah can be so good when she makes movies that aren't loud, crass and broad. Angelina Jolie, too, had such a different presence "back in the day" and I miss it. She was so electric and captivating even in typical genre fare such as this. I also find it interesting to note that The Bone Collector was directed by Phillip Noyce and the similarly well-done adult thriller Double Jeopardy was directed by Bruce Beresford. Something about those solid, workmanlike Aussie directors seems to work well with this type of film. Who knew? This movie is formulaic and everyone watching knows where it's going, but sometimes that is all you want from a movie, you know?

The best bit of The Bone Collector, however? Most definitely Bobby Cannavale sans clothes. Angie's character is clearly deranged to dump this guy after one scene!

Yes, thank you.

And if you must know, the second DVD I owned was Sleepy Hollow. I have most definitely watched that since then.

Speaking Your Language

I don't know if it's just me, but the 2009 slate of foreign language films was incredibly weak, wasn't it? Oh sure, there were plenty of well-loved films from countries far and wide, but with fewer and fewer getting a release it seems like this "genre" (if you want to call it that) was all but a dry well this past year. I saw far less foreign language films from 2009 than I have in years past, and many of those that I did see were disappointing (Coco avant Chanel, still the highest grossing foreign language film at the US box office for 2009) or good-but-not-great (The White Ribbon, to be released in May this year).

Of course, A Prophet has allowed 2010 to start off strong but other buzzy festival titles from 2009 such as The Maid (seen by me at MIFF09, it's quality, but so far unreleased), The Milk of Sorrow (as yet no word on a release, despite it's Oscar nomination), Police, Adjective (no word on a release) and a good 95% of the rest of the Academy Award submission list all seem to be taking the incredibly slow path to a direct-to-DVD release. Not that there's anything wrong with that these days as anyone who has seen Joachim Trier's Reprise can attest to.

Nevertheless, I did manage to see Chan-wook Park's Thirst earlier this week. I have only seen two Park films and one of them ranks very highly (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) and the other ranks very, very low (Oldboy) so I wasn't sure what to expect from this very arty take on the vampire tale. Thankfully it was closer to the former and not the latter as I ended up enjoying Thirst very much. I liked how it became a completely different movie in the final 40 minutes. I loved the three lead performances by Kang-ho Song, Ok-bin Kim and Hae-sook Kim (apologies if I have typed their names incorrectly, but I am merely going by what IMDb tells me). I loved how Chung-hoon Chung's camera is always moving or investigating something, whether it be a lump on a vampire's face or a wrinkle on a mother's face. I liked how Young-ook Cho's score was always taking me by surprise, throwing in an assortment of instruments and arrangements that I didn't expect from an Asian vampire film.

Overall it is just a wonderful film. Sure, there is so much going on there in the background - and, let's face it, the foreground too - that my simple brain can't possibly comprehend, but it is a slickly made and thought-provoking film. B+

Now, if only we could finally get a release of some kind for Joon-ho Bong's Mother, or Scandar Copti & Yaron Shani's Ajami, or Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo or...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fitzcarraldo on the Big Screen

I went to see Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo last night at ACMI's season of Claudia Cardinale. Clearly only chosen because of the film's reputation, Cardinale doesn't feature in the movie all that much and anybody watching it is not going to be watching it for her, as good as she is in it.

I do wish that ACMI would place some quality limits on the prints they get. I know their one and only screening of Fitzcarraldo on a Friday night is not the sort of event that you would go searching through archives to find a perfect print for, but the one they screened last night was bathed in a red, pinkish haze, filled with hisses and pops on the soundtrack and covered in scratches. It's a shame because it would have been great to see the movie in all of its gorgeous light.

As for the film? Well, I firstly have to appreciate, and respect, the absolute grandeur that Herzog puts on display here. It truly is epic to watch the final hour as Fitzcarraldo leads the expedition to move a massive riverboat, quite literally, over a mountain. Thomas Mauch's cinematography is simply astounding and, despite the visual quality of the print, is still obviously awe-inspiring. Popol Vuh's music score doesn't necessarily fit into the movie, but it's a gorgeous to listen to nonetheless.

And yet, there's such a distinct sadness to this film. Watching these actual native Peruvians be exploited for Herzog's follies and to see the beautiful Amazon rainforest get pillaged and plundered is not too much fun at all. Perhaps that's not what it was really like, I just added Burden of Dreams to the top of my DVD queue so I'll find out soon enough, but then there's the matter of Herzog's frequent star Klaus Kinski, a Man who is clearly insane and gives a performance to match. If this movie were released today it would, at least in certain aspects, be laughed off the screen and Kinski is one of those reasons why. Here he is more Tommy Wiseau than anything else and he doesn't come close to resembling a good actor until the final act.

I liked the movie quite a bit, and there's something to be said about the awe-factor that it holds over an audience, but that doesn't stop the flaws from sticking out like bad dubbing. B


This is Daniel Merriweather performing "Red" on Letterman. I actually hated his album, Love and War, but this song is perfection (just like gum, actually). That lyric "you took something perfect and painted it red" is a corker.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Variety is the Spice of Life, Apparently

I noticed something while looking at all these posters for Dreamworks' upcoming animation masterpiece (har dee hah hah me) How to Train Your Dragon.

Poster #1:

Boy riding his green-eyed dragon (really? that's a dragon?) through some sort of fiery hole(?). Dragon is keeping his eyes to the left.

Poster #2:

Boy riding his really green-eyed dragon across some sort of arctic tundra. Oh look! A girl and her dragon are following closely behind them. Dragon is keeping his eyes to the left.

Poster #3:

Boy riding his green-eyed dragon over some sort of coastal region. Oh look! He's joined by a girl now. Dragon is keeping his eyes to the left.

Poster #4:

Boy riding his green-eyed dragon over some sort of cloudy area. Oh look! He's still joined by that girl although their faces don't seem to be changing from one backdrop to another. Dragon is now screaming or something. That's different at least.

Things We Have Learned:
Dragons and the people who ride them don't have many facial expressions. They would never make it past round one of America's Next Top Model. I can just picture Tyra saying "you have to act with your eyes" and Ms Jay just doing that disapproving noise sassy people make before making some sort of "hilarious" analogy between their faces and homeless people or basically anybody else who is less fortunate than them. Tyra would be all "I know what he means... I was homeless once!" and then they'd carry on with the circle of life.

...wait, that's The Lion King. See how easily distracted I am by not only Dreamworks animation, but also bad posters?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

History Makes a Case for Gabby

I saw The Blind Side today and spent the train ride home thinking - thanks to Melbourne's glorious public transport system (/sarcasm) I was able to spend a lot longer thinking than I normally would, too! - about the Best Actress race. While I am most definitely one of the few people who thinks Julie & Julia has far more worthy aspects than Meryl Streep (remember, I actually think the Amy Adams parts are a good representation of a blogger's life), I actually I think I'm in the Sandra Bullock camp when it comes to who to give the statue to out of the pair.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think either deserves it - neither would make my final five Best Actress lineup - but I've never particularly seen Streep's "Julia" as being much more than a good performance, and it's hardly the best alternative to Bullock of there must be one. Bullock doesn't exactly knock it outta the park the way that one might be lead to believe after all the last-minute hysteria that's been bandied about, but she is more than acceptable in the role and she feels like a natural for the part. Actually, "more than acceptable" is a backhanded compliment since I think she definitely more than acceptable, but actually quite good. You can bet that if Streep gave the exact same performance then people would be giving her an Oscar nomination and let us not forget that Streep isn't exactly adverse to BROAD acting much like Bullock is doing here.

If I were voting in the Oscars then I would definitely be ticking the box of Carey Mulligan, but I can't help but get a nagging feeling lately that it is Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe from Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire that could pull off a surprise win over Streep and Bullock. However, thinking about the category closer today allowed me to see parallels between this year's Best Actress battle and the one from 2001/2, which saw an African American actress in a gritty movie triumph over an acting legend and a comeback actress.

One could go further and make the comparison between Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones' Diary and Carey Mulligan in An Education, too. Both are British, starring in what are essentially romantic comedies and look to have big futures on the horizon. And anyone who needs me to tell them the similarities between Helen Mirren, nominated for The Last Station this year, and Judi Dench, nominated for Iris in 2002, clearly has no need to be reading this entry since they obviously don't give two hoots about the Oscars.

Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom feels very similar to Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia. Both had "give them another statue!" momentum, a second for Spacek and a third for Streep, and at the start of each respective awards seasons there was more than enough evidence to support that was going to happen. Of course, both seasons had a "comeback kid" of sorts in the forms of Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. Both had been languishing in years prior and both came back with a vengeance, each starring in two box office hits in the same year, both of which garnered Golden Globe nominations on each side of the Drama/Comedy divide (each won one). Of course, Bullock's one-two punch of The Proposal and The Blind Side buries Kidman's combo of Moulin Rouge! and The Others from a purely box office objective, but Kidman also had the "woman wronged" edge that gave her an extra push since her divorce to Tom Cruise had just finished taking up pages and pages of tabloids.

And then there is Halle Berry and Gabourey Sidibe. Perhaps it's slightly racist to lump these two together, but they share more similarities than just the colour of their skin. How about they both star in movies from the Lee Daniels wheelhouse. Monster's Ball, for which Berry won her Oscar, was produced by Daniels, while Sidibe's film has Daniels' directorial fingers all over it. Both deal with black women who have been wronged by society in many ways and have horrendous things happen to them and their children and both film's feature villainous armchair-bound parental figures who heap abuse upon their children. And in a strange coincidence, both films have a running time of 110minutes.

The obvious differences come in that Berry won several big awards, including the Screen Actor's Guild Award, which this year went to Sandra Bullock. And Bullock has a greater shot at Oscar glory than Kidman probably ever did and all of this basically proves nothing and I am sure that when either Streep or Bullock win the Oscar next month that this will all look like over-thought gobbledygook. I do think this though: No matter what the outcome next month, I am confident in predicting that Sandra Bullock will have an Oscar statue on her mantle within 5 years. It happened to Nicole Kidman one year later when "we really just want her to have an Oscar" sentiment overflowed and she took out the prize for her role in The Hours over the likes of Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven and another comeback kid, Diane Lane in Unfaithful. Bullock has amassed enough goodwill this season to project her to instant-nomination status for the next time she manages to get anywhere near a prestige project.

Unless, of course, she wins a few weeks in which case... umm... that'll be nice, I guess.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Did Someone Say "Movie Posters"?

If you click on over to Trespass Magazine you can read my new article some of the posters that have graced cinema lobbies this month of February. Amongst them are Precious, Shutter Island (although not the one we Melburnians have seen hanging 30ft tall around the city!) and Valentine's Day.
That’s right; pop-singer Taylor Swift and Julia Roberts’ niece, Emma are bigger sells than Kathy Bates!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Optical Illusion

Another day another spectacular Jeremy Saunders poster to gawk over. I'm not entirely sure what's going on here, but I like it! Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank has had trouble coming up with a good solid design for its marketing as there isn't an instantly sellable idea - star Katie Jarvis, as amazing as she is, is unknown, maybe they should just put Michael Fassbender on there without any clothes? - so Saunders has decided to play tricks on the eye. It's like a poster in 3D, and yet it's 2D. Or something. SEE THIS MOVIE!

Coming Soon

Returning to regular programming soon. Moving house is hard, y'all!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Empire Records, Open 'til Midnight

I came across Allan Moyle's cult classic Empire Records on Foxtel today and oh what a wonderful thing it was. It has been a few years since I last saw it, and an year since I last blogged about it. Empire Records is just one of those movies that I saw in my impressionable youth and have never forgotten. That it stars names like Anthony LaPaglia, Renee Zellweger (with eyes and a human voice, unlike today), Liv Tyler and some others, that would go on to varying levels of success, just helps the film leave its stamp on '90s pop culture.

Sample trivia question: What was the first movie in which Renee Zellweger sang? That'd be Empire Records, not Chicago seven years later like many suspect.

As I sat down and watched the movie again today I was reminded of the big huge movie crush that I had on Johnny Whitworth's "AJ". In his grungy jeans, that grey sweater/cardy thing, checkered tee and white singlet combo with that long hair that just... *sigh*. He was the embodiment, for me, of that post-grunge/alt rock aesthetic. I was curious to see if he had fallen into that terrible trap that many cinematic crushes do and had grown up to become less than their younger self would have implied. I was happy to discover that Whitworth had indeed grown into a very handsome man. The crush continues, I guess.

Let us witness. These images come from the red carpet of 3:10 to Yuma, which he was in. Just look at him. Now he may not have the career of Renee Z, but I think we can all attest that time has treated Mr Whitworth here far better than Bridget Jones herself, yes?

My favourite scene from the movie though is this one below because it features Robin Tunney's wonderful God line. I love her in this movie something chronic. I would totally nominate her for Best Supporting Actress in my own little movie universe.

I ♥ Empire Records.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


omg you guys do you totally get the joke in this poster. omgsofunnyforrealz.

because it's called "grown ups" but the ADULTS on the poster are acting like CHILDREN omg geddit?

Seriously, I cannot think of anything I'd rather do that have this movie not exist. The thought of a movie starring this sort of Satanic get together of so-called talent that is Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, Chris Rock and David Spade is literally sending shivers up my spine and making me want to throw up. The idea of those five nitwits in the same movie is truly terrifying. I'm tempted to even say I would rather watch The Wolfman again, although let's not get too bold too quickly.

And then we get to the issue of how badly photoshopped this poster is. How wide is that waterslide that all five seemingly popped out the other end of a tunnel at the same time? What exactly are David Spade and Chris Rock going down the waterslide on? What is so funny for Chris Rock? And what, just what, is going on with Kevin James' arms and hands? The blue handle-thingy is under his leg, you can see that quite clearly, so he appears to be attempting to levitate with his right hand and his left just simply doesn't appear to exist.

I pay a lot of money throughout the year to see many, many movies. Why must I be punished this way? Can somebody answer this for me?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: The Wolfman

The Wolfman
Dir. Joe Johnston
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 125mins

Who would have thought that only six weeks into 2010 we would have a contender for worst film of the year? Actually, after only six weeks into the new decade! Alas, that is what we have in The Wolfman, directed by Joe Johnston - a severely misjudged and poorly executed monster movie.

Read the rest over at Trespass Mag for which this is my first piece. Hopefully more to come!

I did want to mention some other stuff though. Word limits can be a blessing or a hindrance and in this case it was the latter. So many awful, awful things to talk about. How about how the sets and the costumes, as pretty as they are, are entirely washed out by the horrible cinematography that makes everything look dank and dark as if they were shooting with only natural light and the only natural light they had was a cigarette lighter. I was so surprised when I saw all of these movie stills since they certainly did not look like in the film.

Or how about the bombastic sound design? It wouldn't have been that bad if The Wolfman wasn't one of those movies that utilises the "boo machine" literally every few minutes. By ten minutes in I had already smartened up to their game. Seriously you guys, the failings of this movie should be written into cinematic lore for all to gawk at for decades to come. F

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Female Version of a Hustler


Word of warning: I might be a bit absent around here for a bit. I have a pretty big schedule coming up that includes movies (I am seeing A Single Man and Wolfman tomorrow), parties and moving house. That last thing might mean I could be without internet for a little bit, although hopefully not for long. I'll still be around though so don't disappear on me!