Movie News

AICN Downunder! Latauro's Birthday Column! MOSTLY MARTHA with Zeta-Jones! Indie horror DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE! And more!

Published at: May 7, 2006, 4:16 a.m. CST

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.

AICN-DOWNUNDER

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!

NEWS

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 info@chopbinsync.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.

BOX OFFICE

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 RINGER
THE WHITE COUNTESS

REVIEWS

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.

NEXT WEEK

- 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, POK̉ۡMONTAS

Peace out,

Latauro
AICNDownunder@hotmail.com



Readers Talkback

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  • May 7, 2006, 5:09 a.m. CST

    lmao Pokemantis

    by Ridge

    Happy birthday Lat! Did you find it ironic as I did, that the people who were bitching that they weren't getting SW original forms on dvd are now bitching that they're releasing it finally? Oh and the LATEST thing they're bitching about? 'Its not in hi def!' lol!!! Either way, I cant wait for these! Happy birthday my man, and are you telling me you didn't read that damn Batman Begins review you put in your column under my name Weresmurf? Assholio!!!

  • May 7, 2006, 5:09 a.m. CST

    Does it suck?

    by Ridge

    If I say SECOND! To myself?

  • May 7, 2006, 5:28 a.m. CST

    Where the truth lies

    by Babyshamble

    is very good, if a bit silly, but worth seeing for Kevin Bacon alone. I don't remember anything graphic happening between the two men, Colin Firth's character tries it on with Kevin Bacon and gets rejected. I can understand the rating though as some other stuff in the movie is pretty full on. The Houdini biopic sounds good, however it's funny how all these flicks about magicians are coming out. The Prestige, The Illusionist, one with Tom and Colin Hanks (can't remeber title). Am looking forward to the Prestige the most.

  • May 7, 2006, 5:35 a.m. CST

    Happy Birthday Lat!!

    by moviemaniac-7

    And Ridge, SW fans have a tendency to bitch about everything. BTW there was a time when Paul Verhoeven wanted to make a Houdini pic, but he didn't get the funding for it or something like that. Would've been cool to see that one.

  • May 7, 2006, 5:51 a.m. CST

    Careful moviemaniac-7

    by Ridge

    They'll bitch that you said that!!! lol I say this : They can bitch all they want but you just KNOW they'll buy it anyhow... plus I welcome the older versions into my collection finally :D

  • May 7, 2006, 8:39 a.m. CST

    The Logies suck

    by Monkey Butler

    Yes they do.

  • May 7, 2006, 9 a.m. CST

    Holy crap! The New World makes No.4? Won't last but ...

    by The Wrong Guy

    it's still pretty impressive. Amazing what women will flock to with a 'hunky' male lead in it. Watch it plummet to out of Top 10 next week, when they realise it's not as full of romantic cliches and hopeless Hugh Grant-style misunderstandings as they had hoped. And, on a completely unrelated note , and for no reason whatsoever, let me just say that Thank God You're Here is a damn funny show. And yet...it's Australian. How the hell did that happen? Funny...Australian...don't mix all that well usually. Oh, right, that chap Shaun Micallef's involved in it. That explains it.

  • May 7, 2006, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Dude

    by Ridge

    'Funny...australian?' You've obviously never seen Eric Bana in top gear with his comedy. To quote a famous Shaun... 'A slice of fried gold!'

  • May 7, 2006, 7:20 p.m. CST

    Happy Birthday!

    by raw_bean

    Here's to twenty five more years. Well go on then, and a few more after that. :^) ---- As always, awesome column man, very funny, plus informative.

  • May 7, 2006, 7:48 p.m. CST

    Thanks all, from an old man...

    by Latauro

    Thank God You're Here is brilliant. Shaun Micallef is the greatest. I was actually in the audience for the episode that airs this coming Wednesday (you don't know what I look like, but keep an eye out for me). There's a bloke I've never heard of before, and whose name I've forgotten, who is in this upcoming one. He's an actor from Blue Heelers and All Saints, and he totally owns. Oh, and Ridge: I told you at the time I wasn't going to read your review! AICN-D is second to my desire not to be spoiled for cool films.

  • May 7, 2006, 7:53 p.m. CST

    A big glitch in the column

    by Latauro

    Just noticed this. You see the box office bit? It suddenly merges with the end of the Released These Past Two Weeks bit, like somebody folded it in the middle. This happens every now and then, and I think it's a Hotmail issue. Just in case you're wondering why it looks odd. Or not.

  • May 7, 2006, 10:43 p.m. CST

    "LOVE IN THE FIRST DEGREE"

    by Johnny Ahab

    Thanks for the plug, old man! Bernie DeLeo here -- long time AICN follower, and writer/co-producer of "LOVE IN THE FIRST DEGREE." If you'd like to know more about the film, please go to our website at www.loveinthefirstdegree.net. This truly is an independent film, folks -- spearheaded by my tireless partner, director-producer-investor-now distributor Michael Egan. Nine years and $200K and endless phone calls and emails between 2 continents, not to mention sleepless nights, and zero marketing budget or distributor behind it -- yet it's finally in theaters. A dream come true for two film nerds. We hope you'll come out and support it.

  • May 8, 2006, 3:34 a.m. CST

    Happy Birthday! (once again)

    by Wonder Man

    "Orphans" and "Pokemontas"... GEE-OH-EL-DEE. That's GOLD, mon frere.

  • May 8, 2006, 7:59 a.m. CST

    don't care don't care don't care

    by spindude

    god damn Australians suck

  • May 8, 2006, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Right, Ridge

    by moviemaniac-7

    And Lucas also knows they are going to buy it. In my humble, but paranoid, opinion I guess that this was Lucas' plan all along. He said that they would never get a release, everybody buys the 'pimped' version of the Trilogy (now there is a reality tv concept: Pimp My Movie), and now these people will buy the same trilogy again (which includes the version they already own). I know there was a lot of bitching about the Special Editions, but I reckon that 90% of everybody who prefers the original versions still bought the DVD box when it was released a few years back. All about money and to set a 'limited time available only' to the original versions only makes sure that the stock they are going to make will be sold out within two months. Clever marketing scheme, but I don't buy it. (The scheme that is, I'll be probably a Loyal Consumer and will buy them too).

  • May 8, 2006, 8:07 p.m. CST

    Star Wars: OT

    by Latauro

    I must say, I do feel a little vindicated. I flat-out refused to buy any Star Wars DVDs... not out of any sort of protest (George would not notice my lack of money), but because it was a bastardised version of what it once was. I oft said the only way I would buy Star Wars -- new trilogy included -- is if the originals were released the way they were supposed to be. Hooray!