Ain't It Cool News (www.aintitcool.com)
Movie News

AICN-Downunder: Nautica; Step Dude; Constantine; Somersault; Road Man; A Glass Cage; Lost & Found; Alexander; Red Sun

Father Geek here, and I'm a little tardy with this report... Latauro did in fact turn this in BEFORE the Academy Awards. I was just toooo busy babysitting little KublaKhan this weekend and that added to running back and forth between Geek Headquarters and Harry's Fortress of Solitude to keep him in food, drink, and DVDs, as well as delivering his mail. etc... just didn't leave me the time to post anything, sorry... By the way the following quote was typed out by Latauro... did he forsee my lateness... those Aussies do live in the future after all...

"Eat the dog dick of Anubis, you ass-wipe!"

AICN-DOWNUNDER

Oh, man, have I been putting this off. I have a little Oscar party every year, and every year we place our bets.

BEST FILM

Who I'd Like To Win: ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. If not that, THE INCREDIBLES. If not that, HOTEL RWANDA. What? None of those were nominated? Oh man, it's almost as if these awards have barely any credibility at all...

Who Will Win: It's tempting to think that THE AVIATOR will get it if Scorsese wins, but I don't think it's going to be one of those years. (Note... I am in the future here, Yanks) I think it'll be divided. One fact, our Cate will win for playing that other Yankee Kate!

So there you go.

NEWS

* As usual, Dino De Laurentiis has proven me wrong. I figured Oliver Stone's ALEXANDER would stop the Baz project, simply because if it made lots of money there'd be no point retreading the ground and if it lost lots of money no one would want to invest in it. Well, many places (including AICN) have reported that De Laurentiis is making sure Baz's film goes ahead, stating that this is the one that everybody's been waiting for. Reports are that Leonardo and Nicole are still attached, though I wonder if anyone's told them that. Loyalty to Lurhmann aside, I'd be surprised if either of them considered Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie's leftovers to be a wise career move. Still, whatever happens, there's one thing that Dino and I agree wholeheartedly on: we need another Alexander the Great movie as badly as we need another Hannibal Lecter sequel.

* If the studio was concerned that all the footage they were seeing from CHARLOTTE'S WEB was simply background plates for the CGI artists, it must be positively worried about the production having shut down. Yes, the storms that hit Melbourne kept camera cooled for four days straight. We're fairly sure that the storms were actually responsible this time, and it's not code for "Russell Crowe's not happy!". Although when is he ever?

* The New South Wales state government has been holding talks on how to cut red tape so the new SUPERMAN film can shoot without hitch. Why is this interesting? It seems that they mistook the film's pseudonym for the film's subtitle, referring to it as RED SUN. Yes, RED SUN is the new BLUE HARVEST. Keep your eyes peeled if you're based in Tamworth: we're just as interested in RED SUN news as we are in SUPERMAN news.

* It was to star Heath Ledger, Ewan Macgregor and be directed by Ted Demme, coming hot off his career-best BLOW. Then Demme passed away at the mere age of 38, and the film stalled. Now Stephen Hopkins, who is also coming off his career-best LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS, is taking over helming duties, with Heath Ledger retaining his role and Jake Gyllenhaal stepping in for Macgregore. NAUTICA, the RASHAMON-like thriller set on the high seas, is going ahead, possibly in Australia. Location scouting is underway in Queensland (not really known for its sun or beaches, honestly), and a start date as yet unknown. More on this soon.

* A new privately-funded film has begun production in Melbourne. LOST AND FOUND, described as a psychological drama, features local stars Rebecca Gibney, Frank Holden, Nicholas Hope and Brett Climo, as well as newcomer Sharn Hammon. It's the feature debut of director David Blake, who is yet to lock down a distributor for the film.

* Looks like another censorship battle is brewing, but oddly enough it's not between the Australian Family Association and Accent Films. Siren Visual Entertainment is appealing the OFLC's classification refusal to 1986 Spanish thriller A GLASS CAGE. The film apparently deals with abuse between a Nazi doctor and his young male nurse, and, according to Siren Visual, complies with all requirements for an R18+ classification. If anyone's seen the nearly-two-decades-old film, please talkback below and let us know about it. More on this when we hear it.

* As WOLF CREEK takes the world by a minor storm, its producer David Lightfoot is working on another low-budget murder-oriented flick. Not much is known about ROAD MAN, other than its director is Rupert Glasson who made the Australian-filmed Spanish-language short TERATOMA.

* Those of you who don't believe Steven Brill should be tried in the Hague for bringing us such gems as LITTLE NICKY, MR DEEDS and WITHOUT A PADDLE will be pleased to discover that his next film STEP DUDE will probably shoot in Australia. Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, the story follows an ageing coal miner that discovers the beauty of whittling when a disfigured orphan asks him to make a life-size elephant from the trunk of the oak tree that killed his prostitute mother, starring Jim Broadbent and Freddie Highmore. And if you believe that, you deserve to give me your credit card number.

AWARDS AND FESTIVALS

MIAMI FILM FESTIVAL

Awards aplenty for Australian feature SOMERSAULT. Director Cate Shortland received the Special Jury Breakthrough Award for (wait for it) direction, whilst star Abbie Cornish received the same award in her own field.

BOX OFFICE

All of these will, I guarantee, be knocked off by CONSTANTINE next week. Meanwhile, I have absolutely no excuse for not having seen HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, so I'll attempt to soon. In the meantime, this is what y'all have been watching...

These took home the most cookies...

  • 1. THE AVIATOR
  • 2. HIDE AND SEEK
  • 3. BRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  • 4. SPANGLISH
  • 5. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS

RELEASED THIS WEEK

Jack Forrest and Doctor Purify take on the Ranch Fighter, the long-awaited sequel to CHAIN REACTION gets a title change, Don Cheadle again tries a "crazy accent", a low budget English film breaks the mould, Steven Brill goes at it again, and last year's Best Foreign Language Film nominee gets a gurnsey.

Annnd here's what's new...

  • BUBBA HO-TEP
  • CONSTANTINE
  • HOTEL RWANDA
  • LAWLESS HEART
  • MY HOUSE IN UMBRIA
  • ZELARY

REVIEWS

CONSTANTINE

Whenever you cast Jack Nicholson in a role, you've pretty much just got Jack Nicholson. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Jack has, arguably, more screen presence than any other actor. He was insanely entertaining in MARS ATTACKS!, THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK and BATMAN (his take on the Joker was terrific, though far from definitive). But there are roles that require him to stretch himself; of late, AS GOOD AS IT GETS and ABOUT SCHIMDT, films which have needed more than just the trademark grin and smooth gravel voice. I think he gave brilliant performances in these films, I thought he really stretched himself. Thing is, we're still only ever watching Jack.

The reason I'm going on about him in a review of a film that he had nothing to do with (although I don't want to rule out Jack getting royalties for CONSTANTINE... that was one awesome BATMAN contract), is that I feel he's the best illustration of a problem that afflicts Keanu Reeves. Keanu has a presence that's all his own, and I think it's nearly impossible for him to shake it. So this is where the most important distinction comes into play: is John Constantine Keanu? Yes. Is John Constantine Neo? No.

I don't mean to be insulting when I say this is the best performance Keanu is ever likely to give, because there are some things you can't control. Someone like Ed Norton may not have much screen presence, but his ability to melt completely into roles that are worlds apart (AMERICAN HISTORY X and EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU) is amazing. Keanu gives it his all in this role, playing, well, an asshole who happens to be in the position he's in. He's neither a hero, nor a self-consciously trite and ultimately likeable anti-hero. He's a bit of a prick.

I've never read the original comics, but I did join the cries when a non-Brit was cast in the role. I like faithfulness (to an extent), and yet another Americanisation made me feel like we were in store for something we've seen a zillion times before. This turned out not to be the case.

There's something oddly original about this story, which we honestly have seen a zillion times before. They've managed to extract some freshness, a new take on it all, and everything fits together quite well. All the elements are there: an excellent script, solid acting all around, very good direction from a first-timer, and amazing visuals. While CONSTANTINE's biggest drawback is a lack of The One Big Idea That Ties It All Together, it still works very well with a surprisingly satisfying ending and a cute little sequel setup.

Highlights include Tilda Swinton as Gabriel and Djimon Honsou as Midnite. Hm. I just wrote "highlights include", didn't I? That's a fairly lazy reviewing technique, and I think it's because either (a) I'm a fairly lazy reviewer, or (b) like most people, I'm finding the film to be not very memorable. It's strange, because overall I thought it was really solid, but I think the lack of that One Big Idea makes it hard to stick in the head. Oddly, we're given the promise of such an idea with the line "What if I told you that God and the Devil made a wager for the souls of all mankind?" or some such, and it goes nowhere. Honestly, it has nothing to do with anything else in the film. Great setup. Goes nowhere.

If you're on the fence about whether to see it, give it a look. I'd definitely recommend it. Just don't expect a life-changing experience, or even a film to rank up there with the SPIDER-MAN flicks. With any luck, we'll get that with the sequel.

NEXT WEEK

- James L. Brooks signs on Michelle Yeoh and Georges Corraface for hot new "reimagined" comedy-drama CANTOGREEK

- J. Michael Straczynski reveals plans for reinvigorating STAR TREK franchise simply involved placing his arm shoulder-deep into Rick Berman's throat

- Robert De Niro announces his return to acting

Peace out,

Latauro

AICNDownunder@hotmail.com

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • March 1, 2005, 3:24 p.m. CST

    Hey Lat

    by Hamish

    Thought you might like to know that 9 Songs will be released in NZ with an R18 rating, much to the chagrin (and pending attempts to stop it) by the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards. It was front page news under a headline akin to "Most graphic sex movie ever gets rating" or some other newsman hyperbole...

  • March 1, 2005, 3:24 p.m. CST

    Important note about "Oscar picks"...

    by Latauro

    Okay, it looks like we've had another trademark email screwup... I did a bunch of picks for all the major categories, and the above is basically a truncated version of about three different categories. It's not like Hotmail hasn't done this to me before. *sigh* Anyone care to suggest a better email server? (Give reasons)

  • March 1, 2005, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Nine Songs

    by Latauro

    That's great news, Hamo, cheers for that. The censorship debate is as wild in New Zealand as it is in Australia, but I get less info about it here, so please email me any censorship news you have. Now, whether Nine Songs is actually a good film or not remains to be seen...

  • March 2, 2005, 7:15 a.m. CST

    IN A GLASS CAGE

    by fertilecelluloid

    IN A GLASS CAGE is one of the best thriller/horror pics I have ever seen. It explores how sexual abuse is cyclic. There are no depictions of actual sexual abuse of children, although one boy is forced to disrobe (no nudity) and injected with gas. This is a courageous, beautiful, powerful film that references Argento and has been imitated by Soavi (DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE). Truly one of the most disturbing and riveting movies ever made. Director Villaronga also made the underrated 99.9 and MOONCHILD, EL MAR and IN THE MIND OF A KILLER. Why the Australian government would choose to ban it is beyond me. It is an important, mature piece of cinema. I noticed NINE SONGS mentioned. I have seen this movie and don't understand the fuss about it. I also disliked it very much. It is boring.

  • March 2, 2005, 8:02 a.m. CST

    In a Glass Cage

    by The Gline

    I reviewed the film a while back -- it's available uncut in the States. http://www.thegline.com/dvd-of-the-week/2003/10-04-2003.htm