Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with our own birthday boy, Latauro! Sounds like he had a helluva birthday, but he still whipped into gear and busted his behind to get this new report on all the goings on downunder in front of your eager little eyes! Enjoy!!!
Five thousand black people chillin' in the rain. Nineteen white people peppered in the crowd. Time to find a Mexican.
So I turned twenty-five the other day, and did it with as little grace as possible. I sighed woefully at my lost youth, pointing out that my life could now be measured in quarter-centuries. Okay, so it's only one quarter-century, but it's still a lot. Then, those who insisted I really wasn't getting old all stopped reassuring me when I stupidly threw my back out the following morning.
Still, hitting a big, important age number can have its advantages. It can get you remote-controlled Daleks, that awesome Terry Gilliam book about what went wrong with BROTHERS GRIMM, and that ultra-cool, enormously-heavy Stanley Kubrick Archives book with the 70mm strip of film from Kubrick's personal 2001 print. That ? along with other cool stuff ? is awesome on its own, unless your girlfriend and friends manage to get in contact with nearly everybody you've ever known and get you a gigantic, framed gilcee print of an Alex Ross Justice League painting. Which he also signed.
I don't mean to completely show off, but my friends are awesome and I no longer suffer from my fear of 25. Maybe I do mean to show off. Either way, it didn't hurt that Lucasfilm announced on my birthday that the original STAR WARS films were going to be released *properly*.
While part of me is pissed at how blatantly financial the decision is, most of me doesn't care. I really didn't think we'd see this in Lucas's lifetime, and I've been jumping for joy a lot lately. Probably how I threw my back out.
On with the show!
Until Michael Douglas's live-in nurse signed on, I had completely missed any mention of this film's existence. Gillian Armstrong, she behind OSCAR AND LUCINDA and LITTLE WOMEN, will direct Guy Pearce in DEATH DEFYING ACTS, a biopic about Harry Houdini. Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is not from Australia or New Zealand, will play the female lead. Hopefully they'll stick in the bit where Houdini actually names Buster Keaton... or are they saving that for the Keaton biopic? Film them back-to-back, people! You'll save tens upon tens of dollars! Okay, I'm done. (Note: when I said I'd completely missed any mention of the film's existence? There's every chance I've reported on this beforehand and it hasn't sunk in. Just in case someone wanted to call me on it.)
LA-based distributor Fabrication Films has napped the worldwide rights to Rohan Michael Hoole's Melbourne-filmed thriller THE COURT OF LONELY ROYALS. I took a look at the script about a year or so ago and it showed much promise. If I can make the schedule fit, I should be able to attend the forthcoming screening and get a review up ahead of its market screenings at Cannes. Looking forward to it...
Speaking of distribution, Dendy has picked up Jeremy Sims's film LAST TRAIN TO FREO for Australia and New Zealand. We reported on this a column or two back, and it looks damned interesting. Fingers crossed, people. This could be another very good year for local films.
Director-actor-film festival guy John Polson will return to Emma-Kate Croghan's old stomping ground (Australia) to direct TWO FISTS ONE HEART after the Film Finance Corporation waved its magic wand and granted the production a budget. TWO FISTS was the subject of some controversy when ScreenWest pulled the film's initial budget after some questions about the past of screenwriter Rai Fazio were raised. Mysterious? You betcha.
Scott Hicks, who hasn't really been heard of since HEARTS IN ATLANTIS, is remaking the 2001 German comedy MOSTLY MARTHA. Catherine Zeta-Jones (again?) will play the Nigella-esque chef of the title who is forced to care for her orphaned niece. Like everyone else, I'm a little over remakes, but I still have my fingers crossed for Hicks. The flick begins shooting in the UK in the next few months, and post-production will be handled in Melbourne.
Everyone in New Zealand is starving. That's the conclusion I've reached after deducing that with all the films being made down there at the moment, there won't be anyone left to actually cook the meals or make the sandwiches. The latest film to reach my overcrowded inbox is DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE, a film noir horror indie, that is currently in post-production. Want to know more? www.downending.com has the info you crave.
AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS
2006 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
Ray Lawrence's JINDABYNE is the latest Australian film to be screened at Cannes this year. JINDABYNE is screening as part of the Directors Fortnight sidebar. Also playing at Cannes will be TWO THIRTY 7, which has just been accepted into Un Certain Regard. TWO was directed by Murali K. Thalluri, who appears to be a figure of some notoriety. I don't usually link to stuff like this, but check out THIS SITE and make of it what you will. I'm still not sure what to think... Thanks to ?If You Use This?.
CHOP BIN SYNC
Are you a frustrated filmmaker? If you're reading this, you probably qualify in both categories with room to spare. There's a monthly short film night run by a Mr Tom Norton called Chop Bin Sync. Want to get your shorts seen? (Shorts = short films, you perverts.) Then email Tom at email@example.com, or go to www.chopbinsync.com, or head along to Sydney's Hollywood Hotel on the last Wednesday of the month.
THE GARTH METHOD
The March/April screenings of GARTH managed to raise $500 for the children's cancer charity Camp Quality. Missed out? Then keep Saturday 13th of May (5:30pm) or Sunday the 14th of May (6:30pm) free, and head down to the Old Colonial Inn at 127 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy in Victoria. Tickets are by donation to Amnesty International Candle Day, the film is a lean 82 minutes. Your excuses? None. So go.
LOVE IN THE FIRST DEGREE
Bernie DeLeo and Michael Egan had two choices: hold onto their money and health, or make a film. I know ? what sort of choice is that? Naturally, they went with option two, and did it all the hard way. Thankfully, a lot of independent cinema owners have been digging the film, and now you have a chance to see it. Screenings are as follows:
May 8 Picture Show Man Cinema, Merimbula
May 18 Gala Twin, Warranong; Bay City Cimemas Bateman's Bay; Cinema Paradiso, Ettalong Beach; Roxy Cinema Complex, Nowra
June 1 Glenbrook Cinema, Glenbrook
June 4th The Edge Cinemas, Katoomba
June 29 Metro 5, Bathurst
The majority of these screenings will be introduced by the filmmakers themselves, so why not go along and support them? I haven't seen DEGREE yet, but I can already assure you it's better than SCARY MOVIE 4. Your choice is clear.
Okay, two is at one, eight is at two, three is on three, four is on four, and Quad sits at five. Er, I mean, Quaid.
1. ICE AGE 2: THE MELTDOWN
2. EIGHT BELOW
3. FINAL DESTINATION 3
4. THE NEW WORLD
THE WHITE COUNTESS
WHERE THE TRUTH LIES
Being part of the online film community thingy, I find it difficult to walk the thin line between being in love with an art form and craving scraps of information to feed the fixation, and wanting to be surprised when I walk into a cinema. The elder statesman of the Australian film critics, David Stratton, puts his fingers in his ears and his head in his lap whenever trailers pop up before a film. That guy *really* wants to be surprised.
For me, I usually hit a point where once I'm completely sold on a film and know I'll be definitely going to see it, and that's when I stop reading anything to do with it. I was really excited about seeing BATMAN BEGINS, so refused to read the script beforehand. With the film BRICK, I think it was a one line synopsis I heard nearly a year ago that piqued my interest. With WHERE THE TRUTH LIES, it was only the basic details that had me ready to go.
All I knew was that it was an Atom Egoyan film, it was set about fifty years ago, it starred Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth as a Rat Pack-esque nightclub duo, and there was an awful lot of controversy about a sex scene.
My impressions, as the film begun, were of a somewhat-realistic though noirish film exploring the relationship between the two leads. The film progressed, and I realised I was almost completely off the mark.
To begin with, I'm not convinced Egoyan was the right man to make this film. Primarily, this is because he's a really good filmmaker. His films tend to be brutally honest... his camerawork is powerful because he acts as if it is not. He won't push the camera in for a painfully explicit depiction of whatever horrors his characters are experiencing; he'll keep his distance, show us what it would be like to be a bystander, and lets our emotions come naturally. Even when he's directing something highly stylised ? like Samuel Beckett's KRAPP'S LAST TAPE with John Hurt ? there's a degree of realism in there, an internal logic that makes us believe everything we're seeing is true.
The problem with the script to WHERE THE TRUTH LIES is that it's a little silly. It turns out the film is a mystery, concentrating on a reporter who is trying to interview Bacon and Firth in order to solve a mystery from fifteen years earlier. The film cuts back and forth as little bits are revealed. It's a fantastic setup, and for the most part the screenplay is spot-on. It's when small details are revealed by coincidence or by convenience that the film starts to lose its way. Too many times, our heroine figures something out because of a seemingly-innocuous thing someone said to her earlier. Most of these things turn out to be, in retrospect, completely ridiculous. Many details discovered in interviews with people involved unravel massive chunks of plot. Some of them actually contradict other things as the film progresses. One or two coincidence could be forgiven; the amount that this film relies upon is slightly harder to swallow.
That's where Egoyan's direction is at odds with the film itself. He makes the rest of it seem so real and natural, that when we're forced to deal with something a tad silly, it jolts us out of the film like the sudden appearance of the score at the end of THE CONTENDER. May as well have thrown a bucket of cold water over us.
My frustration at these seemingly minor plot points is that the rest of the film is absolutely superb. Bacon and Firth are thoroughly convincing, particularly when they physically show the difference between their characters on either side of that fifteen year gap. Rarely has ageing two characters such a specific amount of time been so believable. They also manage to never betray their own characters when switching between their backstage-getting-blow-jobs-from-hookers mode and their on-stage-doing-their-skits mode. They're actually very funny during their performances, and with any luck the DVD will feature more of this.
Alison Lohmann is very good as the reporter trying to uncover the truth, but she's far too young. I know her age is important, but a minor tweaking of the script could have aged her character five years and given her role as a top-of-the-line biographer a bit more credibility. Looking past her youth ? particularly the fact that she looks far younger than she actually is ? she's very good, particularly given her never-easy task of narrating the entire film.
As for the controversial sex scene, it's about controversial as MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. There's a lot more explicit stuff earlier in the film, so why is this one in question causing so much trouble? Oh, right. There's two men in it. I don't know about you, but I'm getting pretty sick of seeing any sort of sex scene that even alludes to homosexuality getting a much higher rating than a hetero one. The OFLC gave this film an R rating for High Level Sex Scenes, which is utter bollocks. I've seen much more graphic stuff given lower ratings simply because it involves a man and a woman. If the OFLC wants even the appearance of credibility, it needs to weed out its outdated homophobic elements. Now.
Okay, rant over. Despite the occasional (and I'm being kind with ?occasional?) lapses of logic, WHERE THE TRUTH LIES is very, very good. The things that bothered me may not bother others, so if you have the time and you don't mind a decent mystery that isn't quite as clever as it thinks it is, I (honestly) would recommend you give it a look.
- Sean Coombs signs onto cash-in/rip-off giant monkey/rapper project P. DIDDY KONG
- David Goyer to adapt Alan Moore's ORPHANS, about a secret society of parentless children fronted by Oliver Twist, Little Orphan Annie and Macauly Culkin
- Terence Malick signs on as creative consultant to a new anime film about the special relationship between a ten year-old boy and his two year-old pet fighting machine, POKÃ‰MONTAS