AICN-Downunder: PIRATES, LOVE IN THE FIRST DEGREE, And More!!
Latauro took a break from chasing dingoes and boxing kangaroos to send in this batch of Entertainment News from the vegemite realm!
Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don't share their power with mankind.
Nearly a week has passed, so it's becoming more and more unfashionable to complain about the Australia vs Italy game in the World Cup. I won't start bitching about the result here, only to say that if we had been squarely thrashed and there'd been no question as to who was the better team, I'd be very happy right now. I'd be proud of how far the Socceroos had progressed at a world level. I'm still proud, but because of the black cloud hanging over the proceedings, all I can do is wonder how far we'd have gone if the umpire had been, say, standing a few metres to the left.
Still, there's always cinema to make us feel better, and I had a pretty good time this week. Wednesday night was my regular film night with my friends where we each programme a pair of films. This week was my turn, and I put on THE LIMEY and FULL FRONTAL (those who have seen both will understand the connection, which, when it happened, brought the room down). The following night we all went out to see SUPERMAN RETURNS at V-Max, and less than twenty-four hours later I'd seen PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST.
My thoughts on POTC2 can be found below in the trusty reviews section, but needless to say my downunder frown has been turned upside down. And now it's time for the news.
I was really happy for Adam Elliot when he got the Oscar. I thought it was cool that he gave a shout-out to SBS and thanked his boyfriend (even if it was the friendliest room in the world in which to do it). I enjoyed HARVIE KRUMPET, and didn't begrudge him the opportunity to cash in on his fame by appearing in TV commercials all over the place. Didn't mean I wasn't getting sick of him, though. A year later I was tapping my watch and wondering when -- after famously turning down offers from Disney, Dreamworks and the like -- he was going to announce a new project. Well, it's finally happened. According to Victorian broadsheet The Age, Elliot will utilise a budget of $8.5 million to make MAX AND MARY, a feature length stop-motion animation. The film, based partly on Elliot's own experiences, follows an eight-year-old girl from Mount Waverley who begins correspondence with a middle-aged autistic man in New York. So, not exactly talking donkeys and "clever" Starbucks references, then. It may not attract the school holiday crowd, but I think the man's got potential. Now if only we could hear similar news about JASPER MORELLO's Anthony Lucas and Mark Shirrefs, we might have a pretty cool local animation industry we can excited about!
Man, Peter Jackson loves those extended cuts. Hot off the news that the LOTR trilogy is about to be re-released in a theatrical cut/extended cut combo pack (don't fret; if you've got the EEs, you still have -- in my opinion -- the best editions), unconfirmed reports are coming from Spanish website ZonaDVD.com that Spain will be getting a three-disc extended cut of KING KONG. So, if you're up for a Spanish-language edition of REY KONG, check back with us on November 15: that's when the set will apparently be released. Cheers to Black Magic.
You may remember Darlene Johnson as Lady Dalrymple from Roger Mitchell's 1995 film version of Jane Austin's PERSUASION. Well, Ms Johnson turned her attentions to directing, shooting docos FOLLOWING THE RABBIT-PROOF FENCE (the superb making of Phillip Noyce's 2002 film) and GULPILIL: ONE RED BLOOD (a portrait of Australian institution, David Gulpilil). Johnson has just begun filming her next film, CROCODILE DREAMING. DREAMING is described as "a comic fable about two men who are in a race to hunt down the legendary crocodile, Big Tooth". The film is likely to screen on SBS later this year.
If you're in Waitakere, New Zealand, and need a seven million dollar film studio and sound stage facility, you're in luck: they're about to build one in Henderson. According to the Waitakere City Council, the studio will be the largest in New Zealand at 2000 square miles. As Black Magic's Mark Wilcox points out, this is good news for the upcoming NARNIA sequel; apparently the idea that PRINCE CASPIAN would shoot in New Zealand was looking a little unlikely due to the lack of studio space available. This should set it all straight. Originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald and on Black Magic.
Over the last year or two, we've had to report on the unfortunate closure of many art-house cinemas in Sydney and Melbourne. Well, we finally have some good news for you. Sydney's The Chauvel is re-opening on July 24, with a massive gala event beginning at 7pm. The cinema will also host the World Premiere of the non-fiction feature film HUNT ANGELS.
AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS
30TH MOSTRA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
MODERN LOVE is the first feature film from Adelaide director Alex Frayne, and is written by jack-of-all-trades Nick Matthews (who has worked as cinematographer, producer and editor on film such as LOOK BOTH WAYS and TWO THIRTY 7). The film has been invited to screen at Mostra in SÃ£o Paulo, Brazil in October of this year.
53RD SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, the US indie flick starring Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin and, of course, Toni Collette, took out one of what I believe are three audience awards at the close of SFF last week. Other winners included Ronny Yu's FEARLESS and the TEN CANOES making-of documentary THE BALANDA AND THE BARK CANOES.
Despite the trailers for CLICK, people still went to see it. Someone explain that one to me. At least the next few weeks should be dominated by big "Summer" movies that really deserve to be seen.
2. OVER THE HEDGE
4. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT
5. THE BREAK-UP
RELEASED THIS WEEK
An art dealer fish goes out of the water, Rolf de Heer continues his quest to prove he's not the Rowlf that played the piano in the Muppets, and Michael Winterbottom graduates from the Charlie Kaufman School of Adapting Novels.
TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST
It's one thing to make a kickarse movie and then take everybody by surprise. It's another thing to do a follow-up to that movie where everybody's expectations are heightened and make it work. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know: expectations for DEAD MAN'S CHEST are damn high.
First of all, the film's two stars really shine here, and I expect they'll be getting a lot more work based on what they've done in this film. I'm referring, of course, to Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio. These guys were given the task of (a) continuing a Jerry Bruckheimer/Disney franchise that is expected to rake in more money than your average European GNP, and (b) totally geek out and write exactly what a die-hard fan would want to see in a sequel. Okay, (b) wasn't a task they were given, but you can just tell these guys totally geeked out in the POTC Universe and had more fun than any writer should be allowed to have. Is it perfect? No, but the flaws are fairly minor and will be discussed later.
I don't even know where to begin describing the plot. There are so many intersecting strands that overlap and step on each other that we'd be here all day. (Also, I hate recapping plots in my reviews, so it's not really an issue.) In fact, the plots run into each other so often, there's several moments where characters suddenly stop to look off to the left where a completely different storyline is taking place. If you can keep up with it, it's ridiculous amounts of fun, and nearly sent me into a fit of joyous giggles. Joyous, masculine giggles.
Gore Verbinski is one of those directors who annoys me a bit. I've liked every film of his I've seen (yes, even THE MEXICAN), but I just can't put my finger on his style. The man adapts his directorial style to whatever the film demands; sure, it's a pretty ego-free way of doing things, but it makes it difficult to define him. Bottom line is that in a double-blind test, I couldn't pick a Gore Verbsinki film, but each and every time I'd compliment the direction. Oh, and DEAD MAN'S CHEST is his best work. The man knows exactly where to stick the camera. Is that an actual compliment? Well, when you've got about a dozen main characters, each with their wildly conflicting desires, plus a huge number of extras, special effects and who-knows-what-else going on, putting the camera in exactly the right spot is not as easy as it sounds. Still, the complexity never becomes complicated, and a large amount of the credit should go to Verbinski, who also manages to shoot some absolutely beautiful images amidst all the chaos. It's impressive stuff.
Still, it's not a 100% flawless effort. At times, particularly in the first half, the film feels a little forced. It's hard to put a finger on, but I did have a slightly-uneasy feeling that this wasn't going to rock as hard as I was hoping it would. My biggest problem was Captain Jack.
Yeah, I know I'm committing some sort of blasphemy here. If there's one thing critics and audiences alike (oh no, did I really type that?) agreed on, it was that Depp's performance in the first film was a work of greatness. Even the advertising for the sequel ("Captain Jack Is Back") seems to confirm that Disney knows it too. Me? It gave me faith in audiences again. That someone could subvert the "hero" role into something so different to what we expect from these types of films and have audiences lap it up made me happy. I thought Depp was a genius, but at that point I was still trying to get over how great he was in FEAR AND LOATHING, so I wasn't at all surprised by it. But yeah, I loved him in the first film.
So what happened in DEAD MAN'S CHEST? Exactly what I was afraid of. In the first film, he was written as a Han Solo-type, a not-too-trustworthy braggart, a pirate who'd sell you out for the gold in your pocket. All the humour and wackiness came from Depp's performance. I was worried that the sequel would self-consciously write a whole bunch of wacky crazy shit for Captain Jack, and everybody would be playing the character for laughs. And, to an extent, that's how he's played here. Depp's brilliant, and revels in everything Jack does, but everyone's just a little too aware of how popular he is, and some of the sheen comes off in the process.
Look, it's not a major complaint. When I say Jack was my biggest problem, I mean that there really isn't much to complain about! I still loved Jack, and the twenty trillion dollar opening you'll see next weekend will confirm that everyone else in the known world will feel the same way. The better a film is, the more obvious its minor flaws are, and I suppose it's a compliment in a way that the only thing that really bothered me in the film was so minor. Captain Jack is still the reason these films are so successful, and Disney owes an awful lot to Mr Depp.
The supporting cast -- and, let's face it, everybody who isn't Jack in the film is a supporting character -- is so damned good that you never really find yourself wishing someone else was on screen. Both Bloom and Knightley are better than they were in part one, and everybody else from Mackenzie Crook to Bill Nighey to Naomie Harris completely owns every moment they're on screen. Even Jack Davenport impresses; I think he's a good actor, but the type of role he had in the first film usually leads to an incredibly dull, two-dimensional character in the second one. Luckily, this cliche is turned completely on its head, and the character of James Norrington ended being one of my favourite things in the film.
Whilst nothing can ever match Captain Jack's entrance in the first film (one of the greatest of all time), his re-introduction in this film comes pretty close. Oh, and there's a sequence about two thirds of the way in that starts off as one of the best sword fights I've ever seen, and ends up as one of the best sequences I've ever seen. It just doesn't stop. What you expect to be an entertaining five minutes or so ends up as a super-duper-entertaining twenty odd minutes where everything you've seen up to that point just converges in the messiest and most enjoyable way possible. God, just typing this makes me want to go back and watch it again.
There's a lot of stuff that it would be criminal to spoil at this point, but I'll say this: by the time the film ended, I was nearly shaking with the desire to see the third film. It's such a beautiful set up, and I really want to see this with an opening night audience just so I can watch five or six hundred people explode in excitement. It's such a geek moment, and that's what makes it work.
I'm a big fan of trilogies. I think it's a very neat and satisfying number for a series of films, echoing the three-act structure that almost all films rely on. Part of it is also hoping that nobody comes along with a bad fourth film and messes up the legacy, but mostly it's the satisfaction of having an epic "film" with a nice, solid ending. That said, if Terry Rossio, Ted Elliot, Gore Verbinski, Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, and, well, every character they've introduced in this film (I don't care how convoluted it gets!) all return, I say sign them up for another few films. 'Cos if they keep up the quality displayed here, I think we're going to be very, very lucky film geeks.
LOVE IN THE FIRST DEGREE
Here's a warning: if you want to slam your head in a car door when you read that title, this probably isn't the film for you.
The cynic in me is conflicted when I see a target as easy as that. A film that's so obviously a romantic comedy, it refuses to hide behind a couch or disguise itself as something "cooler"? The non-cynical part of me (that wide-eyed doe that nearly giggled in PIRATES) loves it when a film wears its heart so clearly on its sleeve, and taunts you by throwing rose petals and kittens at you as it prances around the place. This is that sort of film.
The basic history of the film is that writer Bernie DeLeo, one of those American fellows, scripted the film with the idea of it being set in somewhere like New York. He was convinced that the film would work just as well in Sydney, and it went to Australian director Michael Egan. This, right here, is why the film works. A New York setting would have forced too many comparisons with the greats (ANNIE HALL, etc); the Sydney setting is new, and turns every element on its head.
See, the film is filled with romantic comedy cliches. The bastard boyfriend of the main girl, the initial personality clashes that leads to the passion, the snobby parents, the public declaration of love, these all get ticked off the checklist, but that's the whole point. Egan plays up these standards, and leads Rhett Giles and Joy Smithers are clearly encouraged to do the same. The fact that they all jump in head-first makes it very difficult to dislike the film; the fact that it's set in a city that hasn't been done to death, with accents we haven't heard spouting rom-com dialogue... well, that's why it works. This film knows exactly what it is, and spends its entire running time enjoying itself.
Rhett Giles is entertaining as Fred Thatcher, providing a sort-of grounding you'd expect to see Hugh Jackman play if this film had that sort-of budget. He's been getting a fair bit of work lately, and it's not too hard to see why. He's very relaxed on camera, and it's easy to like him. Likewise, Joy Smithers is totally brilliant as Leslie Barrett, playing the uptight workaholic with total conviction. She's also someone worth keeping an eye out for.
The film does occasionally slip into cliches you'd wish it would avoid (the idea that people aren't really happy unless they're following an artistic pursuit... wouldn't it have been more convincing if Leslie had totally loved what she did?), it moves along very quickly and keeps the pace up surprisingly well given the shoestring budget it had.
The film (also known as STRAIGHT TO YOU) is touring around the place (I think it's doing the circuit in New South Wales at the moment). If you get a chance to catch it, it's definitely worth giving a go.
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Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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June 30, 2006, 9:50 a.m. CST
BLOOF TO YOU!!!!!
June 30, 2006, 10:14 a.m. CST
Pirates better kick ass. Guess that means the 3rd one will suck though.
June 30, 2006, 10:42 a.m. CST
'Meh', 'Bump' and 'FIRST!' have to be the most anoying words ever!
June 30, 2006, 11:16 a.m. CST
When Latauro starts gushing incoherently like Harry, and Harry goes so far off the deep end his review gives you a headache, and the hyperbole-allergic Mori spends most of his review comparing the film to The Empire Strikes Back, then you have to wonder if you might just have a corker on your hands.
June 30, 2006, 12:34 p.m. CST
by half vader
Or being 'giddy' for that matter. Just look at the other reviewers on this site. Corpulence makes it worse - and I should know.
June 30, 2006, 12:41 p.m. CST
In my honest opinion, Lat, Australia was the better team - but I am a sucker for the underdog and fuck those arrogant Italian assholes! On to the movie-related bitching: I hate it when I just bought a DVD and there is an extended cut anounced. I know that the EE is almost always inferior to the original cut (except LOTR)(example, Dumb and Dumber is weaker in the extended DVD cut) - but I will always have the feeling I missed out on something. Will Peter Jackson follow the footsteps of former God George Lucas?? Only time will tell.
June 30, 2006, 1:48 p.m. CST
June 30, 2006, 2:24 p.m. CST
Man, that is some serious dissage. 'Specially when Harry has pretty much raved about every flick she's done. Fucking hilarious, though...she doesn't actually control what gets posted there, though...does she?? Looks like more of a forum/board where a fanboy with an axe to grind is taking it to Harry...not Natalie.
June 30, 2006, 7:12 p.m. CST
We did get fucked by that ref. And you heard, I called it soccer.
June 30, 2006, 7:18 p.m. CST
Nothing masculine about giggling? Wait 'til you hear me giggle. It's somewhere between James Earl Jones's snoring and an earthquake.
June 30, 2006, 7:55 p.m. CST
but it is the largest most comprehensive and popular natalie website on the net. when you google 'natalie portman'. it's the first page you get. i'm also a mod on their forum. 'Orionsaint' Natalie doesn't have an official page. if she ever got one she may have to sue natalieportman.com for the name. as for harry. almost everyone has an axe to grind with him. why him?, everyone ask. this huge fat man is manipulating hollywood from his basement?
June 30, 2006, 8:16 p.m. CST
I know there has been no shortage of them on this site, but I am interested in your opinion most of all. If you don't want to write a review, how about just a comment?
June 30, 2006, 8:23 p.m. CST
still mad at you punk, for the last talkback..but check this guy out..Lataro!...he spells the chilean Indian leaders wrong and is from australia..it's LAUTARO..you phoney..and oh yeah..fu robe..
June 30, 2006, 8:57 p.m. CST
I have a policy of sorts where I don't review anything unless I'm invited (and there's more reasoning behind that than just "Waaah! I want free stuff!", but I won't go into it now). I usually get a lot of love from Roadshow, but my Supes invite must have been lost in the mail... oh well. Bottom line is I really dug it at the time, but I can't help but wonder if that was the right way to go. I think being so faithful to the Donner films may have done a little more harm than good -- and I say that as someone who nearly wet themselves when the Donner-style credits came up. So basically I loved it, but with reservations.
June 30, 2006, 9 p.m. CST
No, it's Latauro. I don't know anything about Chilean Indian leaders, but we're all really impressed that you have that knowledge at your fingertips and can seamlessly integrate it into posts and, presumably, conversations. Do you go up to guys named Shaun and go "It's SEAN, dickweed!"? No? My name is Latauro. I may even write a rap song about it.
June 30, 2006, 9:22 p.m. CST
by half vader
(said in best Barry White rumble) That's a sexy image you paint! As for invites, it seems many of the crew's went missing as well, so never mind, apparently you've got company. You nearly wet yourself (ya big girl), but did you giggle?
June 30, 2006, 9:34 p.m. CST
Glad to see he spends time thinking up witty intros each week. I would think he was actually being post-modern except the other threads don't start with "Harry took some time out from arming despots, invading countries to justify an ever increasing defence budget & unlearn any geography he picked up in school". But I digress....mmmmm.....vegemite...
June 30, 2006, 10:51 p.m. CST
by The Wrong Guy
Over-rated, bloated, overlong, with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley giving some of the worst performances and hashing out some of the worst, most trite dialogue of recent times. I couldn't stop cringing during the first movie. Also, the action wasn't very exciting, and the only mildly entertaining thing about the first film was Depp. I think Lat is as wrong here as he is with Joss Whedon and Steven Soderberg.
July 1, 2006, 1:20 a.m. CST
by Monkey Butler
Soccer has referees, not umpires. And while I'm at it, you score goals in soccer, you don't kick goals.
July 1, 2006, 2:26 a.m. CST
Especially that Leia-in-Jedi outfit on the girls around Harry.
July 1, 2006, 6:53 a.m. CST
They're called referees, friend.
July 1, 2006, 7:02 a.m. CST
Lautaro is the national hero of chile..he's like the William Wallace of Chile,he organized the mapuche tribes and fought the spanish and kept the araucanian/chileans independant..only native americans to do so,,EVER...so next time you are wrestling the last dorito from harry's fat fingers, and you feel like his onslaught is to much to bear..just remember your crack whore mother almost named you after someone who beat all odds, before she took a hit from her pipe and left you at the monkey pen in the brisbane zoo...rap about that..
July 1, 2006, 8:18 a.m. CST
I love the way you think what you wrote above is somehow clever. That's great. I'm so glad someone with a similarly-spelt name to me did something impressive. Naturally, that means you should troll around here mouthing off like an idiot and attempt to insult me as much as possible. My mother named me Latauro the same way your mother named you ChileanSeaBass, you fucking moron.
July 1, 2006, 8:27 a.m. CST
I assumed you were a dumb ass who spelled my culture hero's name wrong..my apologies..it's just a bad coincidence...here read this and learn something other then sitting around watching shitty movies all day and sucking industry knobs..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lautaro
July 1, 2006, 3:40 p.m. CST
I never understood why Americans call football (which, as the rest of the world knows, is played by the foot) soccer and rugby American football. please explain.
July 1, 2006, 4:35 p.m. CST
by Monkey Butler
They call gridiron 'American football'. But yeah, no idea where the soccer/football distinction came from. Although it's kinda necessary in a country with four different national football codes.
July 1, 2006, 8:47 p.m. CST
You know, the one starring Jesse Jane and Carmen Luvana.
July 2, 2006, 3:36 a.m. CST
"Bottom line is that in a double-blind test, I couldn't pick a Gore Verbsinki film, but each and every time I'd compliment the direction." Good call. You could say the same thing of the Ratners(or hell, the Singers) of this world, but Verbinski is one of those great directors... such as your own Peter Weir, who aren't necessarily recognizable "styles", but still make consistantly outstanding films. Moreso with Weir, but anyway, Verbinski is quite versitile.
July 2, 2006, 5:47 a.m. CST
Really? Maybe you should rewatch his films. Peter Weir's films all tend to be variations on the same theme - an individual in an alien or isolated environment. He might not have a signature technique like Fincher's fancy camera work or Tarantinos dialogue, but his films all tend to have a similar ponderous pacing, which I would class as his "style". I don't know if Verbinski can be pinned down in this way. I'm not trying to say that this makes him a poor director, simply that Latauro makes a good point.
July 2, 2006, 10:18 a.m. CST
Nexus and Rasputin, you've got me thinking... how do you define someone's style? Take Sodergod for example (hey, I'll wear my biases proudly). You can almost always pick one of his films: choppy editing, long lenses, moving frames, usually with a pretty funky tune behind it... He's not a one-note director by any means, but if you had to quickly define the guy's style, that's how you'd do it. When you talk about a director's style, do you refer to superficialities of their shooting style, or the types of films they make (ie: Von Trier's style is to show an innocent girl corrupted by well-meaning country folk... at least, in the three films of his I've seen), or both? If you include the types of stories they tell, then yes, Weir has a style, but because he doesn't have a signature visual, I suppose, my initial reaction is that he doesn't have an easily-definable style. Anyway, it's all food for thought. I'll certainly continue to ponder it.
July 2, 2006, 7:03 p.m. CST
I meant more along the lines of visual style. In that sense, I couldn't tell you that the director of Mosquito Coast is the same man behind Master and Commander, or Fearless. Visually they share very little in common, but Weir makes consistantly good-to-great films(and Rasputin, you are correct about the themes). -----
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