Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And the AACTA Nominees Are...

Just announced are these nominations for the inaugural AACTA Awards, to be held in Sydney early next year. As anybody would a brain could have predicted, it was a big day for local box office hits Red Dog, Oranges and Sunshine, Snowtown and The Eye of the Storm who amassed a high number of nominations over a large swathe of categories, sadly at the expense of some of smaller movies that really deserved it. OH WELL! The Hunter and Mad Bastards proved surprising additions to the AACTA Best Film roster, but seemingly completely absent are three of my very favourite Australian films of the AACTA eligibility period; Griff the Invisible, The Loved Ones and Sleeping Beauty. Let's take a look at the roll call of nominees.

Best Film
The Eye of the Storm
The Hunter
Mad Bastards
Oranges and Sunshine
Red Dog

Quite a good line-up. Whilst I personally loathed Snowtown, which I described as "revelling in its lower class miserabilism like a pig in shit", I can acknowledge that I am in the minority and that many saw it as a brutal, powerful display of filmmaking. As much as I quite liked The Eye of the Storm and Mad Bastards, I did feel there were stronger films in play this year that just unfortunately fell into the realm of niche or too artsy fartsy to be considered.

Best Direction
Fred Schepisi, The Eye of the Storm
David Nettheim, The Hunter
Kriv Stenders, Red Dog
Justin Kurzel, Snowtown

Jim Loach's absense is curious since, after Red Dog, his film (Oranges and Sunshine) was the biggest local hit of the year. But, I guess, these four nominees all make sense, so we can't really complain.

Best Lead Actor
Willem Dafoe, The Hunter
Daniel Henshall, Snowtown
Geoffrey Rush, The Eye of the Storm
David Wenham, The Eye of the Storm

A very strong category this year, I must say. While arguments could be made for one or two other contenders - named Alex Dimitriades, turning in his best work to date in Richard Gray's Summer Coda - these four names are a very solid roster for the talent involved as much as the famous faces.

Best Lead Actress
Judy Davis, The Eye of the Storm
Frances O'Connor, The Hunter
Charlotte Rampling, The Eye of the Storm
Emily Watson, Oranges and Sunshine

And here is where the wheels fall off. As much as I love and adore the Australian Film Institute and, now, the Australian Academy of Film and Television Arts, I routinely feel like some of the voters don't really navigate the contenders well enough. Good on these four nominees as they're certainly a fine set of contenders, but I wished the actors branch had have, well, branched out a little bit. Personally, I don't know how actors could watch what Davis and Rampling are doing - which is to say what they tend to always do, but with little variation on former glories - and nominate them over the beguiling, career-changing work of Emily Browning in Sleeping Beauty. I can accept Julia Leigh's film failing to find a place in other major categories, but only three technical nominations for a film that played the Cannes Film Festival seems a bit insulting, especially when Browning's performance was hailed even by the film's detractors. And then, of course, there is the masterful work by Robin McLeavy in The Loved Ones. A performance so fantastic that it instantly ranked as one of the greatest horror movie performances of all time (and that's not just me saying that) getting overlooked (predictably so, but frustrating nonetheless) for nice, if unspectacular bitchery from Davis and Rampling. If Australia's own industry won't honour them then who will?

Best Supporting Actor
John Graden, The Eye of the Storm
Sam Neill, The Hunter
Robert Rabiah, Face to Face
Hugo Weaving, Oranges and Sunshine

And now this is like a big mix of the lead actor quality and lead actress iffiness. I'm just going to come out and say that I don't even remember who John Graden played in The Eye of the Storm and that his appearance here is little more than prestige filler. Did the actors even look at John Brumpton from The Loved Ones or Tom E Lewis and Steve Bisley from Red Hill? Why not Greg Tait in Best Film nominee Mad Bastards? Now, Robert Rabiah on the other hand is a pleasant surprise as I had expected that film's nominations to come from the likes of Sigrid Thornton or Ra Chapman on the women's side of the craft. Rabiah is very good in the film, but I am sure this category will go to Hugo Weaving as it rightfully should for Oranges and Sunshine, one of his best roles to date.

Best Supporting Actress
Morgana Davies, The Hunter
Louise Harris, Snowtown
Helen Morse, The Eye of the Storm
Alexandra Schepisi, The Eye of the Storm

Davies, at only about 10 years of age, already has three nominations from these Australian film awards! After last year's work in The Tree, she returns with The Hunter and it's nice to see her here alongside the two women from The Eye of the Storm, but major props for nominating Louise Harris. I may not think much of the film, but Harris' performance is perhaps the best of the year by anybody in any category, Australian or international. She is PHENOMENAL and considering she was found in a supermarket purchasing groceries, she certainly lived up to the potential her director saw in her.

Best Original Screenplay
Leon Ford, Griff the Invisible
Sean Byrne, The Loved Ones
Brendan Fletcher, Dean Daley-Jones, Greg Tait and John Watson, Mad Bastards
Patrick Hughes, Red Hill

Much like America's version of the Academy, the Best Original Screenplay category is a major improvement and a more interesting list of contenders. Best Original Screenplay: Where genre films go to die, apparently. Watch Mad Bastards win this award for its director and actor collaborators over the very fine superhero drama, Griff the Invisible, the action/western, Red Hill, and the splatterfest horror comedy, The Loved Ones. Love this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Judy Morris, The Eye of the Storm
Alice Addison, The Hunter
Daniel Taplitz, Red Dog
Shaun Grant, Snowtown

Again, no Oranges and Sunshine is really curious. Maybe The Hunter wasn't the fifth place better in Best Film like I suspected.

Best Cinematography
Robert Humphreys, The Hunter
Geoffrey Hall, Red Dog
Geoffrey Simpson, Sleeping Beauty
Adam Arkapaw, Snowtown

I perhaps would have liked the inner-suburban charm of Simon Chapman's work on Griff the Invisible to slide in, or even Dan Freene's techno effort on Wasted on the Young, but these are four exceptionally well-shot movies either way.

Best Editing
Dany Cooper, Oranges and Sunshine
Jill Bilcock, Red Dog
Veronika Jenet, Snowtown
Leanne Cole, Wasted on the Young

I'm glad Wasted on the Young managed at least one nomination, and it's fitting that it's for Leanne Cole's fine work in the editing suite.

Best Sound
Sam Petty, David Lee, Robert Mackenzie, Les Fiddess, Tony Murtagh & Tom Heuzenroeder, The Hunter
Wayne Pashley, Derryn Pasquill, Polly McKinnon, Fabian Sanjurjo, Phil Heywood & Peter Smith, Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Phil Judd, Nick Emond & Johanna Emond, Mad Bastards
Frank Lipson, Andrew McGrath, Des Kenneally, Michael Carden, John Simpson & Erin McKimm, Snowtown

So glad Snowtown and Mad Bastards made it in.

Best Original Music Score
Matte-Zingales, Michael Lira & Andrew Lancaster, The Hunter
David Hirschfelder, Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Cezary Skubisewski, Red Dog
Jed Kurzel, Snowtown

Snowtown all the way! I hated the film, but at least three of its nominations deserve to take home the prize... go figure!

Best Production Design
Melinda Doring, The Eye of the Storm
Steven Jones-Evans, The Hunter
Ian Gracie, Red Dog
Annie Beauchamp, Sleeping Beauty

At least Annie Beauchamp showed up for her ornate design of Sleeping Beauty's delicate petal sets. In a just world it would win. Alas...

Best Costume Design
Terry Ryan, The Eye of the Storm
Emily Seresin, The Hunter
Cappi Ireland, Oranges and Sunshine
Shareen Beringer, Sleeping Beauty

Disappointing that a movie about a costume - that'd be Griff the Invisible - or Red Hill's western garb couldn't unseat something The Hunter, which... well, I'm not sure what real character-defining costume work went on that production, do you?

Best Visual Effects
Scott Zero, Cloudstreet (TV)
Grant Freckelton, Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
David Booth, Peter Webb, Ineke Majoor & Glenn Melenhorst, Sanctum
Felix Crewshaw & James Rogers, The Hunter

Yeah, I guess.

Raymond Longford Award
Don McAlpine

There are plenty more of awards on the TV side of things as well as the documentaries that can be viewed at the AACTA website. Thankfully they includes many tips of the hat to The Tall Man, my favourite local documentary of the year. I generally think the nominees are very good, I just wish the very top tier categories had shown a bit more ingenuity to stray further from the Very Worthy Films and embraced a wider view of the eligible contenders. Films to get completely shut out include The Cup (deservingly so), Caught Inside (unfortunately the one film I didn't get to see), A Heartbeat Away (remember that one?), Big Momma's Boy (a movie I nearly walked out of the media screening of it was that offensive and bad), Here I Am (marred my amateurishness in many key departments) and, most disappointing of all, Summer Coda.

What do you reckon of the nominees? Do you agree it's a crying shame that Emily Browning and Robin McLeavy were left off for more recognisable and actorly actors? These are the bitter tears of award show disappointment. Let's get used to them now as there will be a lot over the next few months!

Meryl Streep, the Anti-Auteur's Actor

The New York Film Critics Circle announced their annual awards over night Australian time and the list reads quite nicely. While I haven't seen Michel Hazanavicuous' The Artist yet (a couple of weeks away, that one) at least people seem to really like it so it's hard to argue that it was merely chosen to be an Oscar prediction. While I can't say I agree with Werner Herzog's hipster National Geographic documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, taking out the non-fiction prize, and I'm disappointed Sean Durkin's mesmerising, haunting and fragile Martha Marcy May Marlene walked away with nothing (including the Best First Feature category, which went to Margin Call) many of the other categories had strong, worthy winners. Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Albert Brooks, Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian, Emmanuel Lubezki... all great choices that Oscar would be best to take note of. I was sad to hear that Lars von Trier's Melancholia was apparently very close to scooping a prize or two, but came up unfortunately short. That would have been a real kick of the gears for Kirsten Dunst's longshot Oscar hopes for her searing portrayal as a depressed bride at the end of the world.

However, it was their selection for Best Actress that made me give out a sigh of resignation. I guess awards bodies really are going to flip for Meryl Streep's impersonation performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, which is a damned shame. While Streep is easily the best thing about Phyllida Lloyd's movie (well, apart from the make-up work, which was generally flawless), there are still big problems with the performance that are only made more obvious by the shortcomings of the film surrounding her. A full review will hopefully show up later down the path closer to the film's Boxing Day (ya know, for the same people who went to the movies on Boxing Day to be inspired by the opening day of The King's Speech!) release, but when discussing Streep I couldn't have but wished she'd reserve some of her biggest actorly tricks for directors of more substance and worth than the ones she tends to work with.

It only takes one look at Streep's IMDb profile to realise she hardly works with cinema's biggest and brightest filmmakers. Fantastic Mr Fox in 2009 was the last time she worked with a director who could be described as an "auteur" and given that that was only a voice performance in an animated film (albeit a great voice performance in a great animated film), it probably shouldn't count. Before that it was A Prairie Home Companion for Robert Altman in 2006, but as great as she was in that film that was never going to get awards traction given it's lightness of touch and comedic aspects. In between Altman's final film and this year's The Iron Lady she has worked with Nora Ephron (Julie & Julia), Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated), David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada), cinematographer-turned-director Lajos Koltai (Evening), Gavin Hood (Rendition), Robert Redford (Lions for Lambs), and John Patrick Shanley (Doubt). I can understand wanting to work with all of those, especially Ephron and Redford who have had plenty of success in the past, but maybe that illusive third Oscar would be within greater reach if she worked with a director truly worthy of her talent.

I think it's of little surprise that her work with Spike Jonze on Adaptation, definitely a higher class of filmmaker than she's been used to lately, is one of the few genuine moments I felt non Streeposexuals clamouring to give her an Oscar. She was beaten to the trophy by Catherine Zeta-Jones, but that was probably the moment the tides really turned and people decided Streep needed a third Oscar. Sadly, after that she all but stopped working with directors of Jonze's quality. The last time Streep was even nominated for a Best Picture nominee was way back in 1986 for Out of Africa, which is quite telling. Her performance as a strict nun in Doubt was surely her best best for a third statue, but Kate Winslet's "give her an Oscar, already!" train chugged along faster than Meryl's. A win for playing Julia Child a year later was doomed the moment Sandra Bullock's vehicle, The Blind Side, snapped a surprise Best Picture nomination whilst Julie & Julia did not.

So is it really Oscar's fault that she doesn't have three Oscars? Would any of you seriously give her the Oscar for One True Thing, Music from the Heart, Bridges of Madison County, Evil Angels or Julie & Julia? And even though I thought she was great and definitely nomination-worthy in Silkwood, The Devil Wears Prada, Adaptation, Postcards from the Edge and Doubt, I personally would have placed my vote for somebody else just as the majority of Academy members did (although, I could certainly be persuaded to swap out Penelope Cruz for Meryl Streep in the battle of 2006). It's why I believe the trick to Meryl finally snagging another Oscar for her mantle lies in making a strong, dramatic piece of cinema with a director that commands respect. August: Osage County may be the correct path, but who knows what's going on with that production.

Before my screening of The Iron Lady on Monday evening, I was discussing the thought of Meryl working with the likes of Lars von Trier. Can you imagine that? Von Trier isn't exactly the most Oscar-friendly director, but he pulls out miraculous performances from his leading ladies and the thought of those two combining their talents sounds too good to be true. But if not him - perhaps she's reached a time in her career where she just doesn't want to have to deal with that, for which she's very entitled - then why not collaborate once again with artists like Mike Nichols, Woody Allen or Steven Daldry? She's proven time and time again that she wants to work alongside female directors, but why not trade in the lazy clunkiness of a Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!, The Iron Lady) film for spearheading a second feature for Courtney Hunt (Frozen River)? There are so many great female directors out there that would relish the chance to work with The Meryl Streep, but instead she prefers to make romantic comedies with Nancy Meyers. It would be insulting if she weren't so lovable.

So, I guess this awards season we will be seeing Meryl Streep's name pop up time and time again thanks to lazy critics and awards organisations who want nothing more than to predict Oscar's tastes and have Meryl show up at their awards galas rather than truly honouring the best. As I've said, Streep has some great moments in The Iron Lady, but when compared the work being given by Dunst, Olsen, Swinton, Browning, Wasikowska, Williams, Davis, Gainsbourg, Farmiga, Watson, Deneuve and many others her performance comes off as weak and uninspiring. I long for the day that Streep's name gets bandied about in Oscar discussions for a film that is as great as she almost always tries to be. Until then, this iron lady is little more than a poor imitation.

And just to leave on a fun note...


Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene: SCENE 10 of Scream 3 (0:32:46-0:35:31)

In this project I attempt to review the entire Scream trilogy scene by scene in chronological order. Heavy spoilers and gore throughout!

SCENE 10 of Scream 3
Length: 3mins 15secs
Primary Characters: Detective Kincaid, Detective Wallace, Gale Weathers, Dewey Riley, Roman Bridger and Jennifer Jolie
Pop Culture References:
  • Hannibal Lector and Se7en (examples of similar scenarios given)
  • Jane Pauley (Dt Wallace jokes about her)

More of the whodunnit aspect of Scream 3, here. The other two definitely had this aspect, but in line with Scream 3 being a riff on older horror films rather than the slashers of the first two entries, the mystery angle is far more prominent here. The franchise was always a bit better because of this angle, but if they were going to do that then I wish they'd made the mystery solving scenes a bit more punchier, like the Randy death scene in Scream 2 or better integrated into the horror genre like all of Gale's snooping throughout Scream.

"The old killer playing with the cops routine. Very Hannibal Lecter, very Se7en."
"Doesn't the killer come after the cops in those movies?"
"Usually one cop makes it... and one cop doesn't. Usually."

Another reason to dislike the Adam Brody/Anthony Anderson characters in Scream 4 is that the very reason for their existence was already actually utilised in Scream 3. They were there to provide the comic dialogue about cops who are one week away from retirement dying and all that, but did everyone just forget that they were in Scream 3 doing the same? Maybe Kevin Williamson wrote that scene of Scream 4 and hadn't actually even watched Scream 3 because he felt bitter about how it all went? Just like he apparently did with Scream 4. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, more blood in this long shot of Sarah Darling's crime scene that there actually was in the scene itself. I guess she fell on a lot of glass?

I love that Dewey and Gale just show up at a crime scene and somehow get inside when not even Detective Wallace is aware that they (well, Gale Weathers, at least) is working with Detective Kincaid. Whoever let them in is doing some sloppy security detail!

"The produces told us that there are three different versions of the script. Something about wanting to keep the ending off of the internet."

I definitely think Scream 3 (and later Scream 4) went too far into the self-referential territory. At least for less obsessive fans. Like I've noted already, the films that Scream 3 appears to be referencing most are its own franchise with far less nods to Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street and so forth. A line like this one only works for people who have followed the Scream franchise well enough to know the stories about how the Scream 2 screenplay was leaked online and that the film had to be rejiggered as a result. So, while lines like this amuse people like myself, most viewers were probably like "haha! the internet! :/"

Peter Deming is the director of photography on Scream. According to this shot he is also the director of photography of Stab. He likes his Ghosty slasher flicks! Plus, further on from what I was saying up above about Scream 3 taking after older, less slasher-bred horror films, the font used is like some Creature from the Black Lagoon style typeface. Which seems odd for the movie within the movie, but makes sense for Craven and his crew having a bit of fun on the set of Scream 3.

Meanwhile, how amazing is Parker Posey's expression here. Gawd, she's amazing in this movie.

She renders me speechless (er, wordless? typeless?) sometimes, honestly.

In a moment of accidental actorly goofiness, I somehow managed to inadvertently catch Scott Foley looking directing into the camera during this speech about how innocent he is that he didn't really call Sarah Darling before she was killed. I'm going to take this is a subliminal way of clueing the audience in on who the killer is (er, Roman Bridger) and not just Scott Foley being a big dumb dummy.

Have I mentioned I don't like Scott Foley in this movie and think he's a dope? Yeah. Like, all the killers have their own way of masking the fact that they are indeed the killer. Roman Bridger's is to whine himself into looking innocent, apparently. Where everyone else seems to be having a bit of fun with the whole thing, Roman just sits around moping and whingeing. Even the reveal sequence is more of his crying, but we'll get to that later, obviously.

Wow. I didn't realise I felt so harshly about this topic until I typed it down just now. The more you know...

"God, Roman. Remind me not to sleep with him again."

She is a goddess.


She deserves a Las Vegas show starring Cristal Connors, that's how much of a goddess she is!

Intro, Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9, Scene 10, Scene 11, Scene 12, Scene 13, Scene 14, Scene 15, Scene 16, Scene 17, Scene 18, Scene 19, Scene 20, Scene 21, Scene 22, Scene 23, Scene 24, Scene 25, Scene 26, Scene 27, Scene 28, Scene 29, Scene 30, Scene 31 Scene 32, Scene 33, End Credits

Scream 2
Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9, Scene 10, Scene 11, Scene 12, Scene 13, Scene 14. Scene 15, Scene 16, Scene 17, Scene 18, Scene 19, Scene 20, Scene 21, Scene 22, Scene 23, Scene 24, Scene 25, Scene 26, Scene 27, Scene 28, Scene 29, Scene 30, End Credits

Scream 3
Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Melbourne Exclusive

This past weekend over er at Trespass Magazine I had two reviews pop up online for two films that are getting exclusive runs in Melbourne. The first, screening exclusively at Cinema Nova in Carlton, is for Mike Cahill's Another Earth, a film that I had recently expressed great interest in, but which sadly failed to meet my hopes of it being another Monsters style sleeper. It does still fall right into this "lo-fi-sci-fi" genre I've created in my own little mind though as a film that explores more personal dramas against the backdrop of a typical science fiction movie. I'd like Mike Cahill to make another film, but perhaps not be so involved, if that makes sense. He wrote, directed, produced and did the cinematography on Another Earth, but I don't think the film shows off anything exceptional in any of those departments, and yet I can see talent there. We'll see.

Buried within Another Earth’s framework is a wonderful sci-fi movie, but Cahill and Marling have unfortunately set it amongst this otherwise drab and predictable human drama. Like Blue Valentine, but not as immediate and richly textured, Another Earth plumbs some seriously bland territory. ... as seen through the murky blue and brown cinematography it lacks any sort of physical or emotional punch. They’re miserable sods for a reason, but even when they find some happiness with each other the film fails to utilise this and instead merely finds more dank shadows to play around with.

Read the rest at Trespass Magazine.

The second film is much, much better, but you should already know that! Screening exclusively at The Astor Theatre is the restored version of Stanley Kubrick's comic classic Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It was so great to get to watch this film again, projected in 4K on The Astor's massive screen mind you, but with an actual audience who were laughing along at all the bits that one should be laughing it. Seriously one of the greatest screenplays ever written, isn't it? I really can't recommend it enough! It screens at 7.30pm every night (beginning this evening! go!), but over the weekend I believe it has three sessions a day, so there's no excuse.

This all may sound hopelessly chaotic, and in some ways it is, endearingly so, but it never fails to be specifically on point with its satirical targets. The performances are typically excellent of a Kubrick picture – he gets so much out of his actors – with Sellers being the standout. If I had to choose which of his three guises was my favourite, I would have to say Sellers’ President. It may be the straightest of the characters, rarely getting the opportunity to be zany and deranged, but he knocks the dialogue delivery out of the park each and every time. His telephone conversation with the Soviet Premiere is one of my favourite scenes ever put to celluloid. The timing is just delicious.

Read the rest at Trespass Magazine.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene: SCENE 9 of Scream 3 (0:29:57-0:32:45)

In this project I attempt to review the entire Scream trilogy scene by scene in chronological order. Heavy spoilers and gore throughout!

SCENE 9 of Scream 3
Length: 2mins 48secs
Primary Characters: Gale Weathers, Dewey Riley, Jennifer Jolie and Steven Stone (Patrick Warburton)
Pop Culture References:
  • Nancy Drew (Jennifer calls Gale this)
  • Julia Roberts, Salmon Rushdie and Posh Spice (all former clients of Steven Stone)

It's like an establishing shot out of The Closer. Wes was getting a bit lazy, wasn't he? I do like that they brought back Marco Beltrami's excellent score from the original. It's so distinctive for this kind of movie, don't you think?

The great thing about Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie is that within minutes of her first appearing on screen - it's 30 minutes in and she's barely had more than a couple of minutes - she is such a full character. We know her everything. Despite the fact that she's costumed to look so utterly trashy, you can sense that's her character. I can picture Jennifer Jolie on red carpets and being mercilessly fugged, while also coming off as somewhat charming. I actually think her character is modeled a little bit on Drew Barrymore, which just adds to the fun.

"You see this Dewey? I haven't had one of these in a year and a half. Someone's gonna pay for this!"

I certainly hope that wasn't Ehren Kruger's attempt at making Jennifer Jolie a viable red herring! Like, 'see how mean she can get! grrr!' of course, the whole smoking thing would have then been her fault, so...

"You! Like I'm ever gonna win an award playing you!"

I love the way Parker Posey does these weird movements and body contortions. Like I said just up there, it's all part of the character, it's so lived in and fresh. You don't have a character like this in a slasher movie unless they're a big obnoxious idiot, but Jennifer is just so endearing and playful I can't help but love her. I love the way Gale can't even hide the fact that she think's Jennifer is a big ol' loon. But, speaking of Gale and Jennifer... as I've been writing up this scene, I've had this song stuck in my head! I think it's apt, don't you?


"Cotton Weary, Sarah Darling... don't you get it?"
"Someone's killing them in the order that they die in the movie!"

I like that in the ensuing conversation, Gale ask's "who dies third?", which continues on with Sarah Darling's "girl that gets killed second" stuff and it's like everybody just forgets that there are two opening victims. Christine was just collateral damage, I suppose.

It's for scenes like this that I love the Scream franchise. Other films would cut this more character building sequence out, but these films have always been more about the characters so that you feel a bit more about them when they bite the dust. Sure, sometimes we don't feel a thing (hello Tyson and Tom), but more times than not, it works.

"I get killed in Stab 3?"

To be honest, getting killed third does seem like an very un-glamourous way to go. Very unfitting of one of the franchise's defining characters. You'd think, even in the fake world of Stab 3, that she would make it to the end. Or, like a later Stab 3 script change infers, she's the killer. Wow, this is all getting a bit confusing!

I kinda love this big, goofy grin on Dewey's face as he talks about how he's Jennifer's "rock". Reminds me of the "She's with me!" grin from the original that was so adorable.

He calls him "Dew Drop"! Meanwhile, I suggest you read the comments of this Scream to Scream entry for a bit of backstory regarding the character of Warburton's "Steven Stone" and who was originally meant to play him.

"Your resume reads like the obituaries."

This is so very true. Why would Woodsboro hire him again in Scream 4?

Intro, Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9, Scene 10, Scene 11, Scene 12, Scene 13, Scene 14, Scene 15, Scene 16, Scene 17, Scene 18, Scene 19, Scene 20, Scene 21, Scene 22, Scene 23, Scene 24, Scene 25, Scene 26, Scene 27, Scene 28, Scene 29, Scene 30, Scene 31 Scene 32, Scene 33, End Credits

Scream 2
Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9, Scene 10, Scene 11, Scene 12, Scene 13, Scene 14. Scene 15, Scene 16, Scene 17, Scene 18, Scene 19, Scene 20, Scene 21, Scene 22, Scene 23, Scene 24, Scene 25, Scene 26, Scene 27, Scene 28, Scene 29, Scene 30, End Credits

Scream 3
Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8

Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene: SCENE 8 of Scream 3 (0:27:37-0:29:56)

In this project I attempt to review the entire Scream trilogy scene by scene in chronological order. Heavy spoilers and gore throughout!

SCENE 8 of Scream 3
Length: 2mins 19secs
Primary Characters: Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley
Pop Culture References:
  • 60 Minutes 2 and Diane Sawyer

Time for some Gale and Dewey action! And by that I mean Gale and Dewey talking! And by that I mean who cares about Dewey, why isn't Jennifer Jolie there?

"Why would the police come to you?"
"Well I did write the definitive book on the Woodsboro murders."

Gale's complete and utter lack of humility is why I love her. It's like during the Randy death sequence of Scream 2 where she tells people on the phone that she is "Gale Weathers, author of The Woodsboro Murders!" Even if, as Scream 4 implies (and Scream 2 admitted - "He wasn't gutted, I made that up. His throat was slashed."), Gale made a bunch of stuff up, chopped and changed the events to suit her narrative and so forth.

I like this moment between these two, as they discuss why things didn't work out between them. "We tries, we're different", she says, much like Courteney and David in real life. "We used to say that was our strength", he replies. Aw. And now they're separated in real life, too. Still, I does actually do a good job of setting up the groundwork for their relationship in Scream 4, even if that is all one big accident.

"Dewey, you're not just here because of that second rate, K-Mart, straight-to-video version of me, are you?"

Oh, Gale. I love you so hard. Oh, also, there's a bunch of exposition in this scene, but it's Gale's hair that I find more extravagant and hard to fathom. Just... I... but... what? It makes no sense! And I remember this hairstyle from when she was on Friends, too, so I know it wasn't just some "this is what Hollywood entertainment reporters look like now" sorta make-up department stuff up. Also: ugly jewellery.

Intro, Scene 1 Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9, Scene 10, Scene 11, Scene 12, Scene 13, Scene 14, Scene 15, Scene 16, Scene 17, Scene 18, Scene 19, Scene 20, Scene 21, Scene 22, Scene 23, Scene 24, Scene 25, Scene 26, Scene 27, Scene 28, Scene 29, Scene 30, Scene 31 Scene 32, Scene 33, End Credits

Scream 2
Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9, Scene 10, Scene 11, Scene 12, Scene 13, Scene 14. Scene 15, Scene 16, Scene 17, Scene 18, Scene 19, Scene 20, Scene 21, Scene 22, Scene 23, Scene 24, Scene 25, Scene 26, Scene 27, Scene 28, Scene 29, Scene 30, End Credits

Scream 3
Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7

Friday, November 25, 2011

Review: Arthur Christmas

Arthur Christmas
Dir. Sarah Smith
Year: 2011
Aus Rating: G
Running Time: 97mins

Bah humbug!

Australia celebrates Christmas in the heart of summer and yet watching the latest animation from the esteemed Aardman Studios I couldn’t help but notice the chill. Arthur Christmas may look like a cute and inoffensive yuletide movie for the kids and their undemanding parents, but it eventually proves to be a thoroughly unpleasant experience. As I slunk into the back of my chair, my eyes peering out through the unnecessary 3D glasses at the hyperactive action unfolding on screen, there was little more I could ask for Christmas than for this exhausting cacophony of noise to end.

Read the rest at Trespass Magazine

I really am a Grinch sometimes. :/

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I admit to getting a slight chuckle out of this Funny or Die parody of Nicholas Winding Refn's Drive, titled "Drive-Thru". Pink cursive font and all!

The weirdest thing of all are the comments that follow it on the Towleroad website that I found it on. Apparently there really are people out there who a) think Drive is the "Worst. Movie. Ever." and who b) listen to people who say that. Jesus wept. Reminds me, I still need to finish that Drive review. Umm... maybe for the DVD release?

Do the Mamba

There are fewer more unique experiences to be had than the one I had last Monday evening. At my local revival house - and Australian icon - The Astor Theatre, I was amongst the first people in some 80 years or so to witness Albert Rogell's 1930 technicolour epic, Mamba, on the big screen. This movie had been presumed lost for decades, the original 35mm nitrate prints figured (correctly, for the most part) to have been burnt to crisps in a movie studio bonfire that doubled as the famous "burning of Atlanta" sequence in Gone with the Wind. Stories such as this occasionally pop up in the cinephile's radar - just earlier this year an early Alfred Hitchcock film was found in New Zealand - and yet the story of Mamba had escaped my knowledge. If it weren't for the one, sole print turning up in a house in Adelaide, South Australia, I never would have and neither would the world. Mamba would have gone been forever lost to the world of cinema and that's a damn shame.

Made by Tiffany Pictures in 1929 and released to spectacular acclaim and box office success, Mamba was the first ever technicolour drama to be made in America or anywhere else in the world. Several other technicolour motion pictures had come before, all musicals and all rather unexciting if you believe those in the know, but Mamba was the first of its kind. So much so that Technicolour used Mamba as the focus point of an ad campaign to sell their gear. Tiffany Pictures went bankrupt in 1932 after essentially being run out of the distribution business by the likes of MGM and Warner Bros. At that time these film distributors own cinema chains (much like Hoyts in Australia, I presume) and they did not take kindly to Tiffany Pictures' instant success. The era's own version of The Weinstein Company - a bunch of rich dudes making expensive movies - were eventually roadblocked from releasing their movies in the most profitable cinemas in the most profitable locations. Despite the success of movies such as Mamba, they shut up shop and their studio was purchased by Columbia. Such is life.

Now, Mamba - remember, it was thought lost for over half a century - was screened at The Astor via digital because the surviving 35mm print would, quite literally, bite the dust in a modern day film projector. Film historian Paul Brennan, who was on hand to provide a lengthy history of the era and Mamba's place in Hollywood history, is hoping to get the film fully restored like so many of its more well known contemporaries and I certainly hope it does. The film's visuals deserve better than what it currently has. The gorgeous colours of the East African setting look remarkable given the circumstances, but having seen the film I can only imagine what they would look like with a healthy dose of TLC. The soundtrack, painstakingly matched from the original gramophone sound discs to the on screen visuals, remains more or less in tact, but it too could use with a good polish as some dialogue is undecipherable and wonky.

As for the quality of the film itself? Well, Mamba certainly isn't a particularly great movie, but it's a thoroughly entertaining one and its place in cinema history is a vital one that demands attention. Starring Jean Hersholt as August Bolte, nicknamed "Mamba" due to his snake-like qualities, as a slimy fatcat in pre-WWI German East Africa who returns from travel abroad with a beautiful (if disappointed) bride as a means of gaining the respect of the soldiers whose home he shares. The bride, a dazzling Eleanor Boardman as Helen, falls for Ralph Forbes' nobel soldier character, but before long WWI has broken out and the locals have revolted against the European white man. It's all fairly standard adventure romance stuff, but you get what you pay for with Mamba. There are laughs to be had at the horrified expressions upon the faces of Helen's bridesmaids (Melissa McCarthy and co eat your hearts out!) upon seeing their friend's mysterious beau for the first time, or the way Forbes dons a ridiculous pair of high-waisted safari shorts to do battle with the hostile ethnics while worrying amounts of blood pour out of an invisible wound in his chest. This final sequence is actually quite exciting once you get past the ridiculous scenario and outfits. It reminded me a lot of the "Odessa Steps" sequence from Battleship Potemkin, which is always a good thing. And if the central romance between Boardman and Forbes is rather dry, then at least Hersholt is there to enliven things with his greasy performance.

I was amongst the first to see this film on the big screen in some 80 years and I hope to not be amongst the last.

Review: X

Dir. Jon Hewitt
Year: 2011
Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 85mins

The opening scene of risqué new Australian film X features a beautiful woman (Viva Bianca) in the driver’s seat of a car cruising through the upper-class suburbs of Sydney. She’s wearing a beautiful dress, her hair in a cute brunette bob and she is listening to French lessons on her car stereo system as she makes her way to something, somewhere. Perhaps she’s joining her fellow socialites for brunch, or attending an important business meeting. This being a Jon Hewitt film, you should already know that was never going to be the case. Instead, she’s on her way to perform for a group of wealthy clientele by removing her clothes and having sex with the equally good looking Giles (Darren Moss in an eye-opening debut) right there on the living room table in a room filled with antique furniture and expensive paintings on the wall. And all while the female voyeurs sip daintily from champagne flutes.

Read the rest at Onya Magazine

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It Was a Better Day: A Night with Dolly Parton

Today sucks. Or, less hyperbolic, today just isn't as good as yesterday. Why? Because I know I won't be seeing Dolly Parton in concert tonight. Unlike yesterday, I have no more days to anticipate finally seeing one of my most favourite recording artists of all time in concert. In fact, there's the 99% chance that I'll never get to see her in concert ever again, which is a sad thought, but given it took her something like 25 years between tours, I doubt Australia will be seeing her again on our shores. She is "65" after all! Still, if this is indeed the last time she tours Australia, then I can at least carry on knowing I did get to witness her perform her way through two and a half hours of brilliant music. Boy, was it worth it!

I can't really explain my appreciation for Dolly Parton, but like many it grew out of my love for those immortal songs that soundtracked some great movies and others that have been covered by other artists, which made me seek out the rest of her overflowing discography. Everyone knows "9 to 5" from the soundtrack to the film of the same name, and everyone has heard "Jolene", whether it's by Dolly or any of the many, many other performers who have covered its tale of sluts and sadness. Whether it's "Islands in the Stream" (her duet with Kenny Rogers that was the highest selling single of 1984 in Australia), "I Will Always Love You" (performed as her encore), "Coat of Many Colors" (accompanied by one of Dolly's many heartfelt stories of growing up in Tennessee) or Dolly's exceptional cover of "Stairway to Heaven" (perhaps the greatest cover version by any artist ever), there were more songs in last night's setlist that people knew the words to than you'd probably expect. Especially since Dolly has rarely had a "hit album" in Australia.

I was frequently pleased at some of the songs she sang, like two tracks of her exceptional 1989 album, White Limozeen, hardly one of her most recognisable albums in Australia, and songs like a brief diversion to "Light of a Clear Blue Morning", "Smoky Mountain Memories" and "Little Sparrow", which was surely the concert's highlight as Dolly and her backup singers sang unaccompanied and Parton's voice soared over Rod Laver Arena like you couldn't even imagine. Beautiful, haunting stuff. All of that was in stark contrast to one of the most surreal things I have ever seen: Dolly Parton performing a rap interlude about her Joyful Noise co-star, Queen Latifah. Absolutely hilarious! They were filming last night's concert for an upcoming DVD release, so y'all will get to experience that wild performance at some stage down the line, but until then you can watch it on YouTube in bad shakycam vision. Just know that Joyful Noise surely already has that Best Picture Academy Award wrapped up. It's gonna be magic, I can tell.

The concert started immaculately with two of my top three Dolly tracks! Verses of "Light of a Clear Blue Morning" echoed throughout the arena before Dolly emerged on stage to a barnstorming rendition of "Walking on Sunshine". The latter, a recording from her Treasures album of 1996, is one of the most joyous songs I've ever heard (even moreso than the Katrina and the Waves original). My friend and I (Ben on the right) had gone out for dinner before the concert and I'd told the story of how when I used to have to catch the 5.30am train for work I'd listen to "Light of the Clear Blue Morning" (1992 rendition from the Straight Talk soundtrack) and "Walking in Sunshine" as a way to perk myself up for the glum day ahead, so to hear them side by side at the very start of the concert was like some beautiful, personalised love letter to me (shut up!) She even threw some bits from "Shine Like the Sun", off of the 9 to 5: The Musical Broadway recording! She progressed through tracks like "Help!", "Better Get to Livin'", "Rocky Top", "My Tennessee Mountain Home" and many other amazing odes to Parton's love of her family, home and life in general. Several songs from her latest CD that gave the A Better Day Tour its name, "Better Day" and "Together You and I", were lovely with Dolly taking her place behind a golden glittered piano. Further covers of songs like "Song of a Preacher Man" and "River Deep, Mountain High" were big highlights, too, as were any moments when Dolly found herself playing a new instrument, whether it was a guitar, saxophone, piano, flute (or was it a recorder?) banjo or autoharp. As long as they didn't mess up her hair, she would take everything that comes her way with aplomb.

After intermission - yes, intermission - she had lost none of her energy and, microphone/wig mishap notwithstanding, continued to put on the show I had been so wanting to see. She performed all the songs that my friend and I thought she'd have to sing, including "Here You Come Again" and "Two Doors Down". I could have continued to listen to this woman perform for hours and hours more thought. Oh, sure, I would've loved to have seen her perform "What a Heartache" (originally from the failed Dolly/Sylvester Stallone musical, Rhinestone, which she happily made a few jokes about throughout the night, but the best version is the one from Halos and Horns in 2002), "Eagle When She Flies", "Travelin' Thru", "Peace Train" (the Holy Roller Remix, of course), "The Bargain Store", "Appalachian Memories", "Lonely Coming Down", "Heartbreak Express", "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and "He's Alive" amongst many, many others, but when you have a catalogue as robust as Parton's you have to make some concessions. Plus, it's fair enough to assume many in the audience had come to hear her sing her biggest hits, not the personal favourites like the masterful "The Camel's Heart" or "God's Coloring Book". She has something like 50 studio albums, plus soundtrack songs and live recordings, and they'll all live on in whatever technology medium the world adopts in the future, so I'm just glad I got to see her sing anything live. No matter how many time's she's sung these songs and told these stories, you just know the enthusiasm, the heart and the desire to inspire and make people feel damn good is still there.

Maybe for the next tour she can perform the entire soundtrack of Straight Talk.

Monday, November 21, 2011

No Questions, Just Answers

Do you have a 2012 title that you're already itching to see? Maybe the next film from your favourite auteur (although 2011 has had Almodovar, von Trier, Van Sant, Scorsese, Allen and so many others that I can't even think of any big name auteurs who would have something out next year!), or perhaps one of those big budget action blockbusters like The Avengers is what you're waiting for? Not I, no sir. The film I'm most anticipating (I say having, admittedly, not really perused the upcoming 2012 schedule, but nothing is coming to mind and I am pretty darn excited for this!) most of all is Any Questions For Ben?

I'm sure all my international readers will be wondering what the hell that is, but any Australians will surely know what I mean the moment I say "Working Dog". Directed by Rob Sitch and written by Sitch, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner (Jane Kennedy was presumably too busy writing cook books), Any Questions for Ben? is the first film from the Working Dog production house since The Dish in 2000, a film that still ranks as one of the highest grossing Aussie films ever made. 11 years is a long time between drinks - although the Australian film industry is used to it - and I'll pretty much watch, and surely love, anything these guys put up. Need I remind you that they are the same people who made the best satire news program ever, Frontline, as well as The Castle, Thank God You're Here, The Hollowmen, The Panel and, er, Funky Squad... yeah, okay, so it's not all great, but whatever. The Dish and Frontline alone should get them a lifetime pass to do whatever the hell they want!

Thankfully we don't have to wait too long for it, either. Any Questions for Ben? (which, for some reason, I keep typing as We Need to Talk About Ben, huh?) is to be released 9 February and I can't wait! So much so that not even a dodgy, uninspiring poster can make me anticipate it any less. The Roadshow Films Facebook page features a very brief teaser for what's in store, too, if you wanna check that out.

And "just because", here is a clip from Frontline. Gosh that show was good, wasn't it?

When Bad Posters Strike: This Means War

In Margaret Cho's excellent - and I do mean EXCELLENT - stand up film, I'm the One That I Want, there is a bit where she describes the reaction that TV executives gave her when they saw the size of her Asian face. "I had no idea I was this giant face taking over America. HERE COMES THE FACE!" It's a a very funny moment, but one that is used to describe the awful racism that Cho encountered when embarking on her first network sitcom. Watch the clip below (you can skip to the 5:30ish area or just watch the entire hilarious sequence) and marvel.

Now, tell me you can't see this poster for This Means War and not think of that. I know I sure did! Chris Pine's head is taking over America. HERE COMES CHRIS PINE'S HEAD! If anybody is going to war against that noggin then I feel bad for them (sorry Tom Hardy!)

Someone in the comment section at IMP referenced the Dreamworks animated movie from last year, Megamind, and it is one I am inclined to agree with. Look at that thing! It's massive. Also reminds me of the aliens from Mars Attacks with their giant bolbous brains merely replaced by Chris Pine's impressive, but frightening, mop of hair. A google image search shows that his head isn't normally this enlarged, so why is it so here? Is it just the hair or does whoever Photoshopped this poster needs a stern talking too?

Still, it's not like the other two get out of this unscathed. Tom Hardy looks like a stunned mullet with every wrinkle and grizzly texture in his skin erased and buffed back so as to look like an overly manicured suit model. Reese Witherspoon just looks a Madame Tussauds version of herself. Don't get me wrong, she looks stunning, but something's not quite right about her here. Maybe it's just the black and white photography has made her look too much like she's in a Calvin Kline commercial. And then, of course, we get to the strange oddities that are Pine and Hardy's hands. Or should I say, they're not Pine and Hardy's hands at all, but some movie poster stand in's hands who were flipped and reversed and had the celebrity heads stuck on top.

Let's take a closer look at a high-res version of the poster (click to embiggen).

See what I mean! They are the same hand. Every skin crease, hair and vein is the same on one as it is the other. Notice the knuckle on the index finger near the trigger? The shadowing and the hair pattern of the wrist? The two veins that run down the middle, one of which veers away? Yeah, they're the same. That is some lazy poster designing going on right there! I mean, is it so hard to photograph these two men wearing a suit and holding a gun? That appears to be their costume throughout the entire film so it wouldn't take long to do it, which makes this whole debacle even worse. I'm assuming that Hardy is a big bulkier than Pine and that this was a way to counteract that, but it's done in such an obvious way that it stinks of cheese and disappointment. I imagine the film will, too.