Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Festival Madness

Movie posters: I love 'em! In case you couldn't tell, but I think that's a fairly obvious statement. Still, as much as I wish all movie posters were as exciting, colourful, bold, fanciful, interesting, original, and/or invigorating as (to go just from 2012, in no specific order and not saying that they are indeed the best of the year so far) The Paperboy, The Woman in Black, Moonrise Kingdom, Killing Them Softly or Rust & Bone, but they're not. Even if these posters aren't always executed in the greatest of ways (for instance, that poster for Killing Them Softly feels somewhat off), there's the old adage of "it's the thought that counts" and these days a little thought goes a long way in stopping me from hitting myself over the head at the mundanity of it all.

Still, if it's becoming harder and harder to find true gems amongst movie posters, there are entire festivals taking their place. And by that I mean the posters for actual film festivals. They're almost like the next frontier of movie posters in that their designers are allowed to be wild and untamed, colourful and hysterical, bold and out to make an impression. It's exciting to see a new festival poster that is aiming to be as inventive as possible as a means of grabbing filmgoers' attentions away from their stale movie going routines, and the website (imaginatively titled) Film Festival is there to show them to us. I've known of this place for a while now, but a recent online binge of imagery has forced me to share with you some of my favourites. Apart from, say, the Cannes Film Festival or an Alamo Drafthouse series, festival posters are rarely given the time of day, which is a shame given the talent involved that I am sure you will be able to admit is on full display in the examples below. If these were posters for films then people would be positively geeking out of them! Still, if only a few of you turn your attention to them because of this entry - already a few people have done so because of my chatter about it on Twitter - then I guess it was worth it.

One poster that they haven't included (yet) is this fabulous design for an upcoming David Lynch retrospective season at Los Angeles' New Beverly Cinema. Like the poster for the New York Polish Film Festival (second row, third along) that uses distinctively weird Polish iconography, this poster is very much in line with the atmospheric aesthetic of Lynch's film. I love the way it plays with famous imagery, but does so in a manner that isn't trite. The drawing is beautiful and the colouring sublime, designer Todd Spence should be proud.

Don't you think?

The poster there to the right is for the upcoming Sydney Film Festival. The 59th annual runs from 6 June to 17 June in the harbour city up north and while I will not be going - money, money, money, must be funny, living in a rich man's world - I took a look at the program guide for Onya Magazine through the prism of local content. I found some titles that I am definitely looking forward to when they make it to the Melbourne International Film Festival, regular theatrical release of DVD. One title, Rachael Perkins' Mabo is actually a TV movie, but like Philip Kaufman's Hemingway & Gellhorn at the Cannes Film Festival, it's getting a festival premiere. I have a DVD screener here of it that I am greatly looking forward to watching before its TV premiere on Sunday 10 June. The festival, I should point out, has a great poster, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Persecution Blues: The Battle for The Tote

Persecution Blues: The Battle for The Tote
Dir. Natalie van den Dungen
Country: Australia
Aus Rating: M15+
Running Time: 57mins

The sub-sub-genre of Melbourne social activism documentaries is certainly one that has sprung up with a vengeance within the local filmmaking community. Empowered by the ease with which these films can be built from the ground up thanks to affordable equipment, eager participants and built in audiences (at least at film festivals) make them an exciting prospect. While I wasn’t a fan of Rosie Jones’ The Triangle Wars, which blandly detailed the fight of rich NIMBYs against a new shopping complex on the St Kilda foreshore, there are others on the horizon that aim to put the spotlight on local institutions in trouble from becoming obsolete. With Natalie van den Dungen’s Persecution Blues: The Battle for The Tote we get a peek into the final days of a building that would come to symbolise an over-zealous government’s reactionary policies that are harming what gives this city its pulse.

Read the rest at Onya Magazine

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Woody Allen: A Documentary

Woody Allen: A Documentary
Dir. Robert B Weide
Country: USA
Aus Rating: M15+
Running Time: 110mins (Theatrical Cut)

Despite what Hollywood tries to tell us every year throughout awards season, there are actually not all that many old white men whose tales are interesting enough to form a movie around. Especially less so when it comes to those in the film industry; if you’ve seen one Hollywood biopic you have more or less seen them all. The story of Woody Allen, however, is ripe for a “ripped from the headlines!” movie, which is why it’s so nice to see rather a respectful,l unsensationalised documentary on him. The 110-minute documentary that screens at ACMI and the Sydney Film Festival in June is a shortened edition of the 195-minute PBS version and sadly feels it, too.

Read the rest at Trespass Magazine

I mentioned that this film felt "skimmed" and was instantly informed by several followers on Twitter that that is because, well, it is. The film is distributed by Transmission so we can be assured that the longer edition that aired on American TV earlier this year will find its way to us eventually.

30 Rock. James Marsden. Handyman. Tool belt.


To quote Tilda Swinton's Oscar speech: "And it must be said... the buttocks."

I just can't.

The appearance of Marsden has certainly been one of the best parts of 30 Rock's sixth season, which I am only just now catching up on. He's like a fully grown man now, you guys! Liz Lemon got lucky.

In case the sight hasn't already been burnt onto your retinas for your mind to conjure into blissful memories (that's how the eyes and the brain work, right?) then there are plenty more images over here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Bel Ami

Bel Ami
Dir. Donnellan & Ormerod
Country: UK
Aus Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 105mins

Bel Ami has an identity crisis: is it a frilly, comedic period piece romp about a dashing young upstart forced to choose between the love of an impish woman his own age or the giddy older lady who was instantly smitten?; or, is it a dramatic period romance about a motivated young upstart who woos a married woman to make a better life for himself, all whilst participating in a game of political class warfare? By the end credits it was still hard to tell. With two credited directors (Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod), two editors (Gavin Buckley and Masahiro Hirakubo), two music composers (Rachel Portman and Lakshman Joseph de Saram), plus a history of a revolving door casting (Nicole Kidman was cast, but subsequently dropped out) just make Bel Ami’s duel personalities a glaring problem and one that the film never recovers from.

Read the rest at Trespass Magazine

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Minogue and Luhrmann Reunion (of sorts)

There's a glamourous synchronicity between the two trailers that I'm showing you today. It was 11 years ago that American got their first glimpse in many a year of Australian pop megastar Kylie Minogue as she donned green wings and portrayed an absinthe-drenched fairy spouting the lyrics of Rogers & Hammerstein across the rooftops of 19th century Paris in Moulin Rouge! It was a particularly canny move by both Minogue and director Baz Luhrmann, and remains one of the defining moments of Minogue's career, which is pretty impressive for something that amounts to no more than a minute of screen time. Just a few months after that film's release, Minogue's era-definding "Can't Get You Out of My Head" went to #1 in 40 countries, #7 in America, and the comeback was complete.

That was 2001, and now in 2012 both Kylie Minogue and Baz Luhrmann are at interesting places in their careers. Kylie has released several albums since to varying levels of critical and commercial acclaim, but has remained a major commodity on the touring circuit and has branched out into various other arenas including a return to acting with Leos Carax's Holy Motors. This film about a man on a "24-hour odyssey" around Paris has just screen in Cannes and its critical reception will be important as to whether it receives any sort of local distribution. Positive reviews reflect its almost quirky, inpenatrability, so time will tell. I would hope it does because the first footage, a trailer, released day looks tantalising in its obscurity. The director of Pola X isn't exactly a big name on the arthouse circuit so, but maybe a local festival birth is what we should be anticipating rather than anything else. As for Minogue, she's seen briefly sporting a cropped hairstyle, a fragile demeanor, and singing a musical number (an original tune apparently) alongside the Seine, so if nothing else we've got some new iTunes material to look forward to! And a ballad no less. I expected the singer to be playing an exaggerated version of herself, but instead it looks like she's going dramatic. It will certainly be an interesting change of pace!

via AtTheCinema

Luhmann on the other hand has been his polarising, time-taking self since Moulin Rouge! can-canned its way to two Oscars and a a whole swag of other nominations and awards. Australia was probably his strangest film to date, but for all of its faults I still enjoyed it immensely. Only his second film since 2001, Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby has been a lightning rod for hyperbolic hysteria ever since the day it was announced. I have not read the novel that many say is the greatest piece of American literature ever written (there is an online version right here), so I guess I'm coming at this from a completely different angle, but I think it looks fabulous. As in it look fabulous and it looks fabulous. I'll always be on Team Baz and anybody expecting him to suddenly change his signature style just to appease literati were always going to be sorely mistaken.

Of course the problem with adapted such a famous piece of literature is that many will forget that this is not a book, but a movie. In doing so Luhrmann and his creative team have obviously turned the era's defining looks and imagery up the eleven. Much like he knew audiences would never want to see actors that looked like actual 1989 Parisian hookers dancing about in white smock cancan dresses in Moulin Rouge!, Luhrmann and costume designer/production designer Catherine Martin have give the look of The Great Gatsby a a shiny, kitschy make-over that fits perfectly into their oeuvre. The CGI looks a touch too cartoonish, almost like watching an advanced edition of Sim City, but I only really noticed that when it comes to looking at still images. In motion it looked fantastic, and the wideshots of 1920s New York City are divine. We can surely etch in Martin for Oscar nominations yet again.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Luhrmann has utilised 3D for this, but I can already see how it will work during, if little else, the party sequences that take up a large chunk of the trailer. I also don't think the trailer has shown enough of the actors to really get a hold on what they're doing (although Elizabeth Debicki gets a large amount of airtime and is impressive), but I feel there's enough here to temporarily lay any major worries to rest. As somebody who greatly enjoys Baz's style, and has done so over four films now, I was certainly under no illusion that he would suddenly bow to pressure to become a measured, tasteful director. The Great Gatsby, at least in these preliminary stages, certainly doesn't look like it will win the Australian any new fans, but I'm glad there's at least one man out there using the millions of dollars thrown at him by movie studios to do projects as truly out there as this. If little else, its visual opulence will be eye-popping on a big screen and a Christmas present worth unwrapping.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The 1994 Project: Body Melt

1994 turns 18 this year and we're celebrating! I’ve routinely cited this as my favourite year of film – it’s my 1999 if you’re a fan of that other particularly vintage year of the 1990s – and, just to stretch the birthday analogy as far as it can possibly go, I thought I’d investigate the year even further. Invite back old favourites as well as hopefully discover a lot of new ones. Being comprehensive is sexy, isn't it?

I'm just going to put it out there that I have no idea what the hell was going on for most of Body Melt. This pseudo-sci-fi-horror-action-comedy ("splatstick") from former → ↑ → member, director Philip Brophy, is an altogether bizarre concoction that typifies the phrase "everything but the kitchen sink". Except you'll need a kitchen sink to clean up all the grotesque bodily fluids that ooze, pus, secrete and shoot out of the characters so let's include it in the bargain, shall we? Supposedly inspired by Peter Jackson's splatter flicks of the late 1980s and early 1990s (it's easy to see that link so we'll believe it as real and not just a retroactive excuse for being insane), Body Melt finds so many dastardly, ghastly ways to dispose of human bodies that I have to commend the creative team - it's both surprising, but also apt, to discover the film was nominated for three technical craft categories at the AFI Awards.

Still, what the bloody hell was that? What I can tell you is that there's a company that, for some reason or another, cons unsuspecting victims into trying a new health drink (or pills? it's never made clear), which then turns them into hallucinating zombie-like mad men that foam at the mouth and eventually die in gruesome manners. Some appear to have aliens growing inside them as a side effect (just like an impulsive urge to drink laundry detergent), whilst others grow abnormally large muscles. Like Fabio, but doubled. I dunno. It's weird. There's also a rural Australian take on the family from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and a scene with a placenta. Also, there's a cast full of Australian soap stars - something that the film's eventual DVD distributor used in their marketing - including Gerard Kennedy, Regina Gaigalas, Ian Smith, William McInnes, Lisa McCune and one of the Daddo brothers. The one from that amazing TV version of Cluedo that was on air in the early '90s! Yeah, him. Andrew Daddo. Wow. If I had to pick the best of the bunch, I'd go with Giagalas, but that's probably more to do with her character having the most to play with whereas everyone else is one-note victim or one-note detective.

Anyway, umm... there really isn't much to say about Body Melt other than confirming its reputation as one of the more bonkers entries in the Australian film canon. It came after the 1970s and '80s heyday of "ozploitation", and it lacks something truly exciting that takes it up a notch from obscure nutjob genre fare to actually exciting moviemaking. Don't get me wrong, there are sparks of something greater to be found within, and there are moments that impress, but those have more to do with the visuals and the design rather than anything related to the script or the actors. Sure, there's a gleeful gaiety that runs throughout the film, but its ability to pass that effect onto the viewer is only intermittent. It reminded me a lot of Iron Sky, which was released in cinemas two weeks ago. I'm glad I got to see this kooky, bizarre moment of Australian film, but it wasn't necessarily an incredibly rewardinding watch. There are clips as well as the entire film on YouTube if you wish you "experience" it for yourself. C-

Previously on The 1994 Project
Barcelona (C+), Blink (B-), Nell (B-), Reality Bites (B)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spoiler Alert?: Trailers on Hudson

I've been thinking about movie trailers a lot lately. As more and more people become vocal about disliking movie trailers for "spoiling" films, I can't help but figure they've never seen a trailer for a movie made before, say, 1985. A few weeks ago I went to the calendar launch for The Astor Theatre and was treated to an hour or so of little more than trailers for some of the classic films that will be presented on the big screen over the next few months. It certainly wasn't new to me since I've noted this phenomenon before, but I'm sure many of people would be surprised at just how much old movies were spoiled for audiences. And I don't mean just simple stuff like people able to piece together how a plot develops, but I mean how it starts and ends (plus everything else in between). Movie trailers were never a vague, subtle marketing ploy after all. When the idea of "teasers" popped up some time in the 1980s (I'm thinking of Back to the Future, but there's probably others earlier than that) and then two decades later with the onset of fanboy culture in the 2000s it got (thankfully) uncool to reveal the happenings of your movie, blockbuster or not.

One of the biggest whipping boys of 2012 in this regard has been Ridley Scott's Prometheus. Admittedly, that film has had so many trailers (not to mention trailers for trailers), posters, viral videos, movie clips and behind-the-scenes videos that one could certainly make the case for there being too much out there, but the people at 20th Century Fox wouldn't be putting it out there if they didn't think there were thousands - hundreds of thousands, presumably; possibly millions - of people craving it, not to mention thousands of websites willing to post it in a fevered rush for web hits. When the "international launch trailer" for Prometheus was released some weeks ago, I observed that maybe I'm just different to many others and that I am able to turn off that part of my brain that, upon watching a trailer, attempts to piece it all together. I enjoy watching trailers sometimes (although I don't watch many more than I do) for the way they sometimes weave editing artistry into the stale form, or the way they play with expectations and highlight elements of note. I feel that unless you're actively seeking to predict how a film will unfold from a bunch of quick excerpts then that's your fault, not the marketers' and that the vocal online minority would have you believe a revolt is about to occur on the studio backlots. If you don't want to know anything - and, really, we've seen so many blockbusters by now that we know the rhythm and flow of one to predict a vague outline - about a movie then it's simple: don't watch. I know I rarely ever watch teaser clip because I don't really see the point in seeing a 40-second clip scene play out of context and, really, there's only so many emails I can receive about the new James Bond film, Skyfall, where I just block it all out. "What's that? Judi Dench wears a black pantsuit in a new still? WOW! Next..." Obviously it's harder to ignore stuff that is being actively thrust upon you before theatrical viewings, but people are so busy chewing and coughing and talking and walking around in cinemas these days that it should be easy enough to not pay close attention, right?

Then, of course, there are times where a movie trailer really, truly does seek out to tell an audience every single thing that happens. Such is the case with this newly released trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson, a trailer I seriously thought had to be a "Funny or Die" Oscar parody video from the way it hands its weak watered platitudes to audiences who expect little more out of a movie than some fancy costumes and dialogue. It makes The King's Speech look like Lawrence of Arabia as Bill Murray molds his familiar shtick into prestige assembly line fodder that will probably find him in Oscar's good graces by early 2013. The Lovely Laura Linney is there, too, but has apparently been zapped of all of her personality and wit; she comes off as beige as the entire production. This is a truly awful piece of marketing for a film that looks about as exciting as tea without the teabag. I know everything that this movie possibly has to offer.

The poster, meanwhile, just ditches the middleman - that'd be overly zealous film critics who don't have any right throwing critical judgement on movies when they can't tell the difference between an actor and the (usually dead) real life person they're portraying on screen - and extols "BILL MURRAY IS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT". The Lovely Laura Linney, on the other hand, isn't anybody. She's just herself, I guess, which is fine, but... well, ya know. Also, that font on the (long, long, long) tagline is rather ugly, isn't it?

Basically, the marketing around this movie is sending of major "polite!" vibes. Also "bland", "snoozerama" and "Pensioner Wednesday". Oy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain: RIP Donna Summer

Unlike Whitney Houston from earlier in the year, I don't have a tale about childhood obsession with Donna Summer who died yesterday at the age of 63. By the time of my formative music listening years, Summer was no longer the red hot success that she had once been with her run of 19 #1 dance singles. Oh, I was aware of disco anthems like "Hot Stuff" and "MacArthur Park", plus her 1983 comeback track, "She Works Hard for the Money", was a staple on the weekend music video programs that I obsessed over throughout my youth. But it wasn't actually until a few years ago that I really got into her back catalogue with an extensive frenzy and truly discovered the gems that went by relatively unnoticed, hiding amongst the forest of storming disco classics that peppered 1970s compilations albums, movie soundtracks, and been sampled by artists the world over. "Dinner with Gershwin" is just as fabulous as "On the Radio"; "This Time I Know It's For Real" (a collaboration with '80s hit factory Stock Aitken Waterman) has a pulsating beat that compliments her magnum opus, "I Feel Love", quite well; the entirety of Bad Girls from 1979 is a treasure trove of dance magic that is more than just the titular smash in which she equates her pop star manufacturing and manipulation to that of prostitution.

Of course, there are always going to be some songs that rise above even the strongest of discographies. Her work with producer Giorgio Moroder is the stuff of legend, and how anybody can deny "I Feel Love" is anything but one of the greatest songs ever recorded is beyond me. Summer turned her back on the gay community that had given her career such a boost, but that song wound up being sampled by Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and covered by Bronski Beat. Make of that what you will. She leaves behind a crop of albums and singles that looms large, but will sadly go unrecognised by many as merely frivolous songs that were merely the product of their time. Can't find the finesse and ingenuity in disco music? Sucks to be you then.

RIP Donna Summer

"I Feel Love" | "This Time I Know It's For Real"

"MacArthur Park" | "She Works Hard for the Money"

"Dinner with Gershwin" | "On the Radio"

"Hot Stuff" | "State of Independence"

"Our Love" | "Heaven Knows"

"Last Dance (Theme to Thank God It's Friday)" live at The 51st Annual Academy Awards

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Science Fiction Double Feature from 1984

Science Fiction - Double Feature
Dr. X will build a creature
See androids fighting Brad and Janet
Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet
Oh-oh at the late night, double feature, picture show.

You know what? A 70mm film print discovered down a salt mine in Mount Isa isn't really the sort of thing you get to see on the big screen very often so who was I to turn down an offer to see it rather my preplanned media screening of (ahem) The Dictator? It turned out to be a bonus that I knew absolutely nothing - literally nothing, I'd never even heard of it before beyond its name being bandied about in conversation once or twice - about the film, Nick Castle's The Last Statfigher, proved to be a bonus as the film itself was as much of a discovery for me that the 70mm film print was to film enthusiasts. Seeing it play alongside fellow 1984 science fiction title, The Philadelphia Experiment, made for a rad double feature. Hey, it was 1984, I can get away with saying "rad", okay?

As for The Last Starfighter, it sure was a blast. Oh sure, the visual effects - two years after Tron revolutionised the tech, but still before computers were the norm and the first time that a on a so-called "Cray X-MP supercomputer" - are dated, hopelessly so at some point, but where this film differs from the aforementioned Tron is that its story and the rest of its creative components are strong enough to withstand the test of time. Tron is terribly boring (as I imagine it was in 1982, despite its eye-popping visuals), but Nick Castle's film belongs to a catalogue of films that Hollywood just doesn't make anymore. Video games and movies can indeed come together and be adventurous, cinematic, and creative after all. Thanks to the earnest (and, it must be said, attractive cast) performance of Lance Guest, some wonderful alien designs, an utterly majestic and captivating score by Craig Sagan, and a healthy dose of Americana - I want to live in the "Starlite Starbrite" trailer park - help raise The Last Starfighter to loftier territory that its nostalgic reputation may suggest.

The scenes in space are sadly less interesting that those on Earth, perhaps because so much time was put into the visual effects that little effort was put into making the sets look less like cardboard, but it's probably also because the humans are actually kinda fun to be around. The assortment of trailer park residents are given attention by a screenplay that knows the lead character's, as well as the audience's, affection for them is important for the final scenes. Don't get me wrong, The Last Starfighter isn't particularly deep, or working on a wholly different level to other teen adventure films, but I appreciated the effort paid to the peripheries. And, I know I've already mentioned it, but Craig Safan's original music score cannot be praised enough. To hear it in 70mm 6-track sound was mighty impressive. Full of orchestral bells and whistles alongside the dreamy space themes, military bombast, and elegiac romance that combine to convey genuine awe and wonder. It's an instant favourite. As for the film? It's an impressive effort and a step above some of the more famous films of the era that attempted similar ideas. B

The second movie in my science fiction double feature was Stewart Raffill's The Philadelphia Experiment. Seemingly a film of repeat viewings in the youth of my viewing party, I'd never seen it but I'm glad I stayed as it turned out to be a hoot. Both Experiment and Starfighter are played deadly serious and sincere, but this one has a bit of a silly streak thanks to its oft ludicrous action scenes and logic. It says a lot when I say my favourite moment was when an extra very clearly got hit in the nuts during the hospital chase scene. You know the kind, where the chasers seem to crash into every single possible thing even when there's a clear path for them to follow. Or how about Nancy Allen looking freakishly like Frances McDormand's "Marge Gunderson" in the final scene? Or the bit where a car just explodes, because that's what cars do in action movies? Or the way a car keeps mysteriously appearing and disappearing in the background of a driving sequence? I like to imagine that wasn't a case of bad continuity, but just a rip in the time travelling vortex that also sees two marine's shipped off (oh ho ho) from 1942 to 1984 thanks to a botched scientific experiment. Yeah, it's all fairly silly, but entertainingly so.

If I wanted to get serious though I could point out the impressive cinematography of Dick Bush (unfortunate name, that) and the equally fine music by Kenneth Wannberg (which I accidentally typed as "Wangberg" just to keep the phallic theme alive) keeps the quieter moments alive. There is also a particularly well-executed scene of two cars careening through an orchard. Alternating between tight shots deep in the action, and the fluid action filmed from a helicopter above, it's a stand out scene in an otherwise fine film. B-


Michael Pare doing a James Dean impersonation! I mean, the acting's not good, but he's a fine specimen that makes a psuedo-shlocky bit of genre fare go down easier.

AHEM! Now, I was lucky enough to see these two films back to back in a double feature because of the efforts of one place: The Astor Theatre. I and many others have known for a while now that this legendary movie palace will reach the end of its lease in 2015 and their landlord currently has no plans to renew it. That means no more amazing double features like this one, nor any rereleases for films such as Labyrinth, Dr Strangelove, American Graffiti and Two-Lane Blacktop. Not only that, but The Astor is the only cinema in Australia that endeavours to play 35mm and 70mm prints whenever possible, plus 2K and 4K digital when not. 70mm titles like Baraka, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Hamlet would all but cease to screen in this country, and I find it highly doubtful that another cinema would pick up the slack and play 35mm prints of Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo and The Holy Mountain back to back (Monday 4 June if you want to be there like I will!)

It would be not only a great loss to film and arts culture for the city of Melbourne, but a great loss to culture globally. The cinema is host to weddings, private functions, film festivals and special events whenever regular programming isn't on. It's legacy as one of the last of a dying breed should not be taken lightly and the cinema's management need all the help they can get to make St Michael's Grammar aware of the injustice they will be committing by closing the cinema and to do so would be to single handedly end a globally recognised institution. If everybody who reads this signs the petition - whether you live in Melbourne and go there regularly or not - then that's just one gesture. Pass it along to anybody else who has a love for film and we can get that number high. Imagine the outcry if The Alamo Drafthouse had to close! There's also a rally organised for Saturday 16 June. As the unofficial home of Rocky Horror, Dr Frank-N-Furter compels you!

Under Scarlett's Skin

This is the first image from the next film by Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin. It stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien, which makes perfect sense because where else would she have gotten such beauty? Must be alien. Or a robot. Probably alien. Anyway, I don't have anything to actually say about this image, I just thought I'd share it since Glazer's last film, Birth, is a stunning masterpiece that too few people have even seen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Sapphires Come Out S(w)inging

As they say in Hollywood (note: they may never say this in Hollywood) - 24 hours is a long time. Well, don't the people behind upcoming Australian musical, The Sapphires, know that! In the span of one day the buzz for Wayne Blair's debut feature has sky-rocketed through little more than a marvellously handled parade of marketing and press announcements that seemingly came one right after the other. It was something altogether different to the usual way Australian films are handled where the release of a poster or a trailer is given minimal press and seen as little more than a prerequisite formality that not much thought truly goes into. Within the past 24 hours though we've seen the buzz for Australia's only Croisette-bound film reach some truly loud volumes, so much so that "The Sapphires" was even trending on Twitter. The film was already high on the radar of most industry watchers due to its positioning at the Cannes Film Festival that seemed to imply it could follow the previous path to success trotted by Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom in 1992 and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in 1994. It started with the announcement that The Sapphires would be the opening night gala selection of the Melbourne International Film Festival on 1 August, then a local release date of 9 August, followed by a poster, then the first footage, and culminating later in the evening with the big news that The Weinstein Company had acquired the musical for worldwide distribution (outside of countries like Australia and New Zealand that already had distribution in place).
May 15, 2012 – New York, NY – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that they have acquired from Goalpost Film worldwide rights, with the exception of the UK & Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, France, Canada, Israel, Portugal and airlines, to THE SAPPHIRES. The film, directed by acclaimed Aboriginal actor and theater director Wayne Blair, stars funnyman Chris O’Dowd (BRIDESMAIDS, FRIENDS WITH KIDS), Deborah Mailman (RADIANCE, OFFSPRING), who was the first Aboriginal actress to win the AFI Award for Best Actress, Jessica Mauboy (BRAN NUE DAE), an Australian pop artist who was the runner-up on Australian Idol in 2006 and breakout stars Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell. The screenplay was written by Aboriginal playwright Tony Briggs, whose mother and family members were part of The Sapphires group, and Keith Thompson. Warwick Thornton, previous winner of the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for SAMSON AND DELILAH, is the film’s Director of Photography. ...

“THE SAPPHIRES is a rare and special film, and all of us on director Wayne Blair’s team are thrilled to be working with The Weinstein Company which we know will be the very best home for this film,” said Goalpost Film’s Tristan Whalley.
Great news there. Of course, I'm not exactly expecting The Sapphires to be "the next big thing" for the company - lest we forget the fate that has befallen so many Weinstein acquisitions - but it's a big moment for the filmmakers to be in the pocket of someone as important as Harvey Weinstein. We'll see how the film goes during its "Official Selection" screenings at Cannes over the next couple of weeks, but with this flurry of activity it's nice to see a local movie finally get people talking again for the right reasons. Take a look at the first released clip of the film below as we wait for an official trailer to come down the line.

The Instagram Effect

I think it has officially become a trend. Key art designers have moved on from the scribbly notebook look for movie posters and have instead turned very heavily to posters featuring filters and lighting effects that have more in common with Apple iPhone photography app Instagram than anything else. A little bit to the left of JJ Abrams' penchant for lens flares, these posters tend to use streamed sunlight, manipulated natural light, colour layers, strong use of shadow and high contrast, plus other aesthetics as a way of making an otherwise nondescript images look "artistic". I noted this for the first time last year with the posters for Weekend and Pariah amongst others, and the trend has continued into 2012. They frequently use golden yellows and pinkish, purple hues for whatever reason, which is certainly better than the overused amber and teal fetish that has been going on for years. The look probably hasn't quite taken over from the minimalist aesthetic that online fan designers enjoy implementing so much, but I'm sure it will soon enough what with it being so easy to use and is really tricky to use to a negative result.

Monday, May 14, 2012

We Should Be So Lucky

Being a cinephile is tough sometimes. Quite frequently though it becomes a case of "Hollywood giveth, and Hollywood taketh away". While only half of the news I want to discuss this morning is from Hollywood, it still works on the same principal. This time, however, it was the other way around and the bad news was tempered by some good news that was utterly surprising and delightful (well, by me, for others it's probably abject horror). By now you've surely heard that Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, a 3D space drama starring Sandra Bullock on screen by herself for a reported 80% of the running time, has been pushed back to 2013. Disappointing, very disappointing. The big budget, adult sci-fi slot is now held solely by Ridley Scott's upcoming Alienish prequelish whateverish film, Prometheus, which is out next month. Warner Bros' move of Gravity to an undisclosed 2013 date is probably great news for any plans 20th Century Fox had for a potential Prometheus awards run, which I can easily see occurring if it hits a home run since it surely already has tech categories in its sight. Yes, science fiction and horror aren't usually the Academy's thing, but wonders will never cease.

Still, Gravity's move was a disappointing slice of news to wake up to. It was nevertheless somewhat alleviated by the announcement of a few new Australian films that instantly raised an eyebrow or two. Jonathan Teplizky making a Choir of Hard Knocks film is definitely interesting if he can bring a new eye to the project that has already been seen across multiple platforms. Likewise, a new film by Nash Edgerton, co-written with his brother Joel, is reason to get excited if you've seen The Square and know what these boys can do. However, it was two films from the minds of Kriv Stenders and Julia Leigh - who just yesterday we were discussing going head-to-head for the Director's Guild prize - that really got me excited.

The idea of a Mamma Mia! style of movie about Kylie Minogue probably should fill me with dread and fear, but I ain't gonna lie. I am totally psyched for this announced project, Synchronicity (must change that title), that has attached Kriv Stenders to direct a screenplay by Marissa Goodhill. It could very well turn out to completely awful like Mamma Mia!, but the music of Kylie Minogue is already enough to get me into the cinema. So many of her songs work so well from a narrative standpoint - "I Should Be So Lucky", "Hand on Your Heart", "What Do I Have to Do?" and so on - that it's easy to see it be done, but it's more about whether it will be done with class or tackiness. I kinda hope for a bit of both, but ya know, respectful tackiness. Time will tell. And, hey, Kylie Minogue has now had two - TWO - films play in competition at Cannes so put that in your pipe and smoke it (no, I don't know what that expression has to do with anything either). The other announcement, and furthering on the

Julia Leigh on the other hand has received development funding for a film based on one of her novels, named Disquiet. I know nothing about the novel, but it has been described as "psychological horror". That, my friends, is like crack at the best of times, but when you throw in Leigh's incredible chilly skill that so divided people on Sleeping Beauty and the excitement goes through the roof!

Obviously, neither of those films will even see the light of a movie set before Gravity is released next year, but it certainly perked up my spirits to know they exist, how about yours? And now let's mix Gravity and Synchronicity and watch Kylie Minogue float around in space by herself. See, there is method to my madness! Maniacal laugh! Maniacal laugh!


It's rare that we get to talk about genuine surprises from an awards organisation, but a year after Julia Leigh's divisive and hypnotic (some would say boring - I would not be one of those people) Sleeping Beauty premiered at the Cannes Film Festival it has taken out the prestigious Australian Director's Guild prize for feature film. The award was a last minute surprise for the director who was nominated against Kriv Stenders for his box office smash, Red Dog, and Justin Kurzel for his critics favourite, Snowtown. Leigh's effort was comparatively lowkey compared to those films' broad humour and attention-seeking atmospherics. If you recall, I really rather liked it at the time, and my opinion on the Emily Browning starrer has only improved since. Sleeping Beauty went sadly under-represented by the local AACTA Awards, receiving three nominations for below the line categories. Where Emily Browning disappeared to from that ballot I have no idea, but I can only imagine people confused Browning's startling, brave performance with that of her unlikeable character.

Speaking of Kurzel, he been announced as the director of A new John Le Carre adaptation, Our Kind of Traitor from a screenplay by the writer of Drive. I'm genuinely surprised that Kurzel beat the likes of David Michôd to a big international project, but good luck to him. Michôd, however, isn't being left behind after the surprise success of Animal Kingdom, which went all the way to an Oscar nomination for star Jacki Weaver, having announced his plan to director a new film called The Rover with Guy Pearce and, in his own Hollywood coup, Twilight Saga star Robert Pattinson. From my understanding of the project, it will be an Australian production with some international funding thrown in. It will be set and filmed in Australia though so I'm psyched that Michôd didn't immediately ditch our fair shores for what was surely some tempting offers. If anything, the genre elements at play, that cast, and the man's newfound status on the world stage could set The Rover up as a big hit both here and overseas and who wouldn't want that for the local industry?

Speaking of Cannes (yes, we were in the first paragraph, remember?), one film that most certainly won't be getting there or anywhere near any awards whatsoever is Housos vs Authority. I don't claim to know anything about the TV show that this film is adapted from, but I think "Housos" is slang for people who live in housing commission flats so, basically, it's gonna be like NEDs, but as done by Paul Fenech. Yes, you kinda know what you're gonna get with a Paul Fenech production so I suspect I won't be going there, but people have liked weirder things so if it is your sort of thing then here's the teaser trailer.

The plot, if one is necessary after viewing that video, involves a character wanting to spread their mum's ashes over Uluru. I am sure plenty of people will be offended and look forward to it. The movie? Not so much.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Iron Sky

Iron Sky
Year: 2012
Country: Finland/Australia/Germany
Aus Rating: M15+
Running Time: 93mins

Never again will you be able to say that nobody ever made a movie about Nazis living on the moon who then return to Earth and joined forces with a Sarah Palin-esque politician before waging intergalactic war. No you certainly cannot because Iron Sky is here and after years of development, crowd-sourced funding, and even filming just up north in Queensland, this comical sci-fi spoof is here on the big screen. How it conjured up a theatrical release I’m not too sure, but there it is in its entire goofy, oddball, space opera glory.

Read the rest at Trespass Magazine

Poster Roundup: This is 40, Gangster Squad, The Possession, Sparkle and Lovelace

Some thoughts on some of the latest posters to come through the pipeline over the last week or so.

The Possession
"Based on a true story"

I find that hard to believe.

This is 40
You know what? No matter what the movie is, I just don't need to see Paul Rudd (or anybody else for that matter) sitting on the toilet reading an Apple iPad. I say "Apple iPad" because they certainly didn't go out of their way to make it look like he's reading a generic anybrand tablet reader, have they? He uses an Apple iPad. APPLE. APPLE!

Have I just not noticed that Leslie Mann looks like Elisabeth Shue, or does this poster just make it seem so? Because she does. I wonder what Apple products she uses? No doubt we'll find out in the movie. On a more positive note, I do like the tagline, although I think audiences are smart enough to know what a spin off is without having the skirt the issue with word play.

Gangster Squad
Not sure if this is a UK quad or what, but it's fantastic. I see so many people go on and on about wishing more modern day posters were done in the style of classic posters without realising that those very classic posters were just as repetitive and had their own cliches as modern day posters have with, say, stripes and giant floating heads.

Am loving the faded colours, especially the intriguing use of purple and baby blue when they could have easily gone with drab browns and beiges because, ya know, being a tough guy involves wearing nothing but neutral colours. The ultra sharp shadow and high levels of detail is the sort of aesthetic decision that makes navigating a poster for long than a few seconds possible. The wrinkled clothing and faces gives it such a rich texture that is hard to resist. Interesting to note that Sean Penn and Emma Stone aren't featured despite being a far bigger star than Anthony Mackie or Giovanni Ribisi (that is him to the far left, isn't it?), neither of whom appear in the credit list up top. I am assuming that the men featured are in fact the titular "gangster squad", but it could have been easy to shoehorn the big stars on there with some bad Photoshop and I'm kinda glad they didn't. Favourite sense and logic over shallowness.

The photo of star Amanda Seyfried is great and all, but what really made my eyes light up after seeing this poster for Deepthroat drama was the cast list. Just look at those names! Peter Sarsgaard - aside: does anybody still get confused as to where the double-a is in his name? No? Just me? Oh, okay then - has an absolutely perfect look for a 1970s pornographic actor, but how about Sharon Stone, Chloe Sevigny, James Franco, Adam Brody, Juno Temple and Bobby Cannavale? As a matter of fact, the performance of Sarah Jessica Parker as Gloria Steinham is one of my most anticipated of the year, especially since I just rewatched the entirety of Sex and the City (the TV years, of course) and was reminded that Parker was once a genuinely interesting actor who had wicked comic timing that she seems to have forgotten all about. Not that this performance is going to be full of the lulz, but if it's the first step in her getting her actorly groove back then I'm all for it.

"X Marks The Legend" is a great tagline, too.

I'm torn over this poster.

On one hand I think the central image of Jordin Sparks bathed in a rich red dress and shadows is divine. On the other hand, the giant S watermark is unnecessary and the box panels at the bottom scream of a compromise between the designers and the studios. "Yes, yes, have your arty shot, but OMG DEAD CELEBRITY AND THAT GUY FROM HIGH-RATING TALENT COMPETITION PROGRAM" Yeah? Yeah.

And that's that.