Movie News

AICN-DOWNUNDER: Borat, The Prestige, and Hunt Angels!!!

Published at: Nov. 20, 2006, 8:11 a.m. CST by quint

Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it. Because you want to be fooled.

AICN-DOWNUNDER

There's nothing more boring than listening to a film critic complain about how boring red carpet events and premieres are. So you might want to skip down to the news section.

I attended the BORAT premiere the other night, which was relatively cool. I mean, it's a cool feeling walking up the red carpet as hundreds of people either side try to work out why someone dressed as poorly as you would ever be invited to something like this. Anyone who says they don't enjoy it is lying. It's cool. Also, I used to work at the Jam Factory, so pausing to cheek kiss all the pretty Village employees working the event certainly adds to the "Hey, aren't I awesome?" factor.

Then, of course, you have to wait for an hour until Borat arrives and the film can begin. That in itself isn't a huge problem, but the crowds at these things... Most people seem to attend so they can see the guy in person and then tell their friends later about how cool it was to be there. (Yes, I did do that beforehand, but my primary reason for being there was to see the film. It's why I didn't go to, say, the TORQUE premiere.) The problem with this is that the film is populated by the crowd that doesn't see any problem in talking during the film. Especially if they've already seen a downloaded copy, and they loudly announce what the next scene will contain and how funny it will be.

If you're actually a fan of, y'know, movies, let me tell you it's not the most ideal place to see a film for the first time. I'm not complaining, mind you, and I do enjoy these events on some level, but only up until it's time to watch a film. I guess I'm saying this because if you ever hear a critic or any prominent film lover say that premieres are cool, but they'd rather watch a film in a cinema full of devotees, they're not pandering. It's the truth. I'll take a crowd of cinophiles at the Astor any day of the week over the metrosexuals who think they're at home in front of their plasma.

NEWS

So, the AFC released a National Survey of Feature Film and TV Drama Production for 2005/2006. The good news? Australian films made a combined gross of seventy billion dollars in the past year. No, that's a lie. I mean, I know you know it's a lie, but I have to write that or else I get a bunch of letters. Anyway, production activity was $361 million, thirty-three per cent down from last year's $542 million. Head to http://www.afc.org.au for the complete rundown.

One of the questions I'm most frequently asked (behind "Do the police know you have that?" and ahead of "Go between the boats? Are you crazy?!?") is "Have you seen KENNY?". Unfortunately, I haven't, and it seems like I'm the only one. The film has picked up $7 million and is still on Australian screens after thirteen weeks, and will now be seen internationally after Lightning Entertainment picked up the overseas distribution rights. All of you lucky aliens will get to see the romantic story of a portable toilet cleaner... which I'm told it actually quite good.

I mention this only because I only have two other news items and I want it to look like Australians have been up to more than doing studies on themselves and making sales to the US, but Greg McLean has spoken of the possibility of doing a WOLF CREEK sequel. According to Moviehole, the Weinsteins approached McLean and asked him to make a sequel immediately, but he wanted to give it some time. He's up for the idea, so give it a few years and we could be buying tickets for WOLF CREEK 2: CREEK HARDER.

AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS

HUNT ANGELS

If you're one of the millions of AICN-D readers living in Swanpool, Victoria (population: 30), you'll want to go along on Wednesday night to the premiere of HUNT ANGELS, the true story of Australian maverick filmmakers Rupert Kathner (Ben Mendleson) and Alma Brooks (Victoria Hill). The film, a mix of drama and documentary, is excellent and well worth a look.

BOX OFFICE

Okay, so fourteen year olds have more disposable income than any of us initially realised. Combined, they seem to have more money than Russell Crowe, whose strategy of buying thousands of tickets to his own movie seems to be paying off (although not really). Thank you, Marty, for being awesome.

1. JACKASS NUMBER TWO
2. SAW III
3. A GOOD YEAR
4. THE DEPARTED
5. THE WRONG MAN

RELEASED THESE TWO WEEKS PAST

Johnny Knoxville takes business away from Werribee school students, Muriel and Faramir star in an Austro-English SE7EN, a new documentary looks at the effect that the steel industry has had on the road trips of cranial injury patients, Christopher Nolan gives us the best reason ever to watch closely, Tim Allen loses the "Why Tim Allen should be thrown out of a plane" debate, the Australian Family Association goes on holiday, the remake nobody needed gets a prequel nobody asked for, and LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN gets a title change.

JACKASS NUMBER TWO
LIKE MINDS
METAL: A HEADBANGER'S JOURNEY
THE PRESTIGE
THE SANTA CLAUSE 3: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE
SHORTBUS
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING
THE WRONG MAN

REVIEWS

THE PRESTIGE

Between THE PRESTIGE and THE DEPARTED, I can't help but wonder if this is a new trend for blockbusters. Take a high concept idea, write the script with layers upon layers of depth, then cast it with A-list stars who also happen to be brilliant actors. Then give it to one of the best directors working today. Bake for twelve months.

I really hope this is the beginning of a new sub-genre. On the surface, they look like action popcorn flicks. THE DEPARTED has Leo and Matt going toe-to-toe with each other as other bankable actors support them in the wings. THE PRESTIGE has Batman and Wolverine fighting it out with magic tricks as other bankable actors support them in the wings. Your average Friday night movie goers are going to be satisfied. Those of us who like our cinema smart and layered and brilliant will also be satisfied. Is it possible that Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan have figured out how to please all of the people all of the time?

I effuse because I'm impressed. I had pretty high hopes for THE PRESTIGE, and all of my hopes were matched. And then some. I would have been satisfied with a lesser film, but THE PRESTIGE never lets up. It never lets you relax into scenes of "Oh, the next five minutes will be a chase" or "Here we go with the obligatory love scene". There are chases, there are many moments of action, and there are love scenes, but nothing is forced or token. At no moment does the film lose your attention. Everything is earned.

To give away anything in the film is to commit war crimes of the highest order, so I will keep my mouth shut. I will give credit to Christopher Priest, the author of THE PRESTIGE, for most of the leg work was already done by him. Every plot element, every setup and payoff (in both the surface storyline and the underlying subtext) is superbly woven. As much as you may love the film when you see it, it actually gets better the more you think about it afterwards. When you remember small moments from earlier scenes and are suddenly struck by their significance hours after the end credits have rolled, the film gets just that much better.

The other thing is it's never trying to be too clever. The film's tagline (and the phrase uttered many times throughout) is "Are you watching closely?". It's perhaps the most apt and enticing tagline in at least a year. If you are, indeed, watching closely, you will be able to figure everything out. I picked it somewhere between the halfway mark and the two-thirds mark. I mention this partly to show how clever and awesome I am, but mostly to impress upon you that THE PRESTIGE is not predictable. It gives you the clues to the mystery, and you can choose to piece them together or choose to let the film reveal them to you at its own pace. Either way, I guarantee that there will be mystery left for you at the end. There's so much going on that even if you work out all the big stuff, there is a lot of small stuff that will still surprise you when it's announced. Perhaps I'm focusing on my own personal experience with the film too much, but I doubt that you won't find yourself experiencing a few "Oh, of course!" moments in the closing moments.

Acting-wise, everybody's at the top of their game. This is most notable for Hugh Jackman, who is a really good actor that hasn't really been in many good films. Take a look at his filmography. There's not a lot of greatness in there (note I haven't yet seen THE FOUNTAIN). Thankfully, his talents are put to excellent use in THE PRESTIGE. Bale rules. Caine rules. Johnasson rules. Everyone is really, really good.

I've told you nothing about the film, have I? Good. Films like this should be viewed with as little pre-knowledge as possible. Put it at the top of your list. It's essential viewing.

BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN

I'm wondering if there's anything left to say about this film. It was over-exposed before it even came out, and I'm not sure if there are any opinions or points of view left that haven't been covered many times over. So I'll try to keep to the basics.

It's a very, very funny film that had me holding my hands to my mouth in shock more often than I'd care to admit. It's surprisingly touching at times. Oh, and it's very, very funny.

I think a lot of your enjoyment will come from how much you believe is staged. I saw it with a friend who believed that the vast majority of it was a set up, and he didn't enjoy the film much at all. Whether this is directly to do with his belief being unsuspended, I don't know, but I think it was a big factor. I believed quite a lot of it as I watched it, although I've become a little sceptical about some elements since I saw it. That scepticism has affected how I remember the film, which is a pity.

The more you believe is real, the more you'll enjoy it, and I can totally understand why some people have gone back to see it three, four, five times over. I'll keep this mercifully brief and unwaffling, and just say that I experienced some genuine pain at times from all the laughter, and that I'd recommend it both to people who get the joke, and to people who won't (though for entirely different reasons).

EXOTIQUE 2

Okay, this is something a bit different than usual. I don't usually review books, having only just learned to read the other day, and that was only 'cos of some stupid new AICN editorial policy requiring the staff to have a basic grasp of teh English language. Luckily, EXOTIQUE 2 isn't one of those wordy books. It has pretty pictures.

The publishers of the book asked if I'd mind taking a look at it, and I couldn't think of a good reason not to. It's a collection of CGI characters, with different artists from all around the world creating persons of all bents (fantasy, historical, emo) for the sake of art. It sounds exactly like a book I'd flick through in Borders and then not buy, but it's beautiful. At first I thought I might not be qualified to talk about this book, being as I was someone who had no interest in a book of art. Now, however, I think I'm perfectly qualified, as I would totally pick up the other books in the collection if they're anything like this one.

Let me give you a rundown of my apartment. There are a lot of DVDs, a lot of CDs and records, and a lot of books. We have this awesome double-layered coffee table that's filled with comics, trades, American Cinematographers, New Scientists, Poe and Shakespeare collections, and anything else we've collected over the years. My point is that you can lose weeks of your life just by entering my place, and part of that is because of how seriously we take the art of coffee table reading. There are certain books that are just made for a coffee table, and EXOTIQUE 2 is one of them. The work inside is absolutely stunning, and just off-centre enough to be intriguing.

I know I'm probably sounding like a shill, but there's always a degree of excitement when you feel like you've discovered something impressive that nobody else knows about. Even if this doesn't sound like something you'd get a kick out of, it would honestly make a good present for someone who may not necessarily be into CGI art. Really, really amazing work. To order the book or take a look at some of the artwork examples, go to http://www.ballisticpublishing.com.

NEXT WEEK

- Ed Zwick is brought in to re-shoot chunks of Mel Gibson's APOCALYPTO, casting Ashton Kutcher as a white American who time travels back to the Mayans and saves the day on behalf of the natives

- John Hodgeman signs on to play Dr Honeydew in the new live-action MUPPETS movie

- Fox Searchlight to release the film following the US President at the APEC summit in Vietnam, titled BUSH: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF HANOI FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF TEXAS

Peace out,

Latauro
AICNDownunder@hotmail.com



Readers Talkback

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  • Nov. 20, 2006, 8:58 a.m. CST

    for the sake of all that is mighty and good

    by Im_spartasoth

    If any tb'er gives away the ending of the prestige..I have your IP and will hunt you down. BTW Lat im on williams rd 3 blocks from the mecca of meccas THE ASTOR.......be forwarned, george may rape childhoods but I take whats MINE.....(you can take the jam factory...with my blessing)

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 9:29 a.m. CST

    The Prestige (slight spoilers)

    by Leedrick

    I was looking forward to the Prestige, and unlike you Latauro, I was disappointed. The idea is great, the acting was really good (bowie was super cool), however I think it suffered in the editing room. The best "prestige" in the film was revealed to us much too early, and the big reveal at the end I found mostly predictable. As a result the ending felt flat to me (even dwelling on their obsession was unnecessary as this was clear from almost the beginning). It could have been awesome, but instead to me it just felt "good". If Angier had returned with his trick without revealing the method to us, and have it revealed toward the end it would have had more of an impact. Definitely worth seeing though.

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 9:37 a.m. CST

    I have you on the radar leedrick

    by Im_spartasoth

    be forwarned.............

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Firing Decoys

    by Leedrick

    Oh come on. There's nothing there to spoil the film - plus I added a warning for good measure!

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 9:53 a.m. CST

    P.S.

    by Leedrick

    Is it possible to be post-warned?

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 7:24 p.m. CST

    Prestige would have done better without that ending

    by IndustryKiller!

    If you didn;t mind it fine but there were a great deal of people out there who were alienated by it. I just don't think *SPOILERSSSSSSSS* electric cloning had any place in an otherwise very realistic film. It undermined the films intelligence for the sake of a whiz bang ending. and Latauro whats all this piece it together shit? If you didn't know a half an hour before the end when it showed all the cloned hats and the two cats exactly what was going on you need to start taking the short bus to school. I mean they spell it out for you right then and there. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people proclaim the very first shot of the film with all the hats as some magnificent feat of foreshadowing. A shot of a bunch of hats with absolutely no context behind and no story yet told is not foreshoadowing, it's an interesting opening shot. Nolan didn't trick you with it considering that to not get "tricked" you would have to be able to tell the future. Foreshadowing has to give you at least an iota of whats to come plot wise, make you look back and say "oh I should have known right then". If you saw that first shot and said "Electirc cloning!" then you need to take those Sherlock Holmes skills to the FBI.

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 7:35 p.m. CST

    5 weeks in and Departed still going strong...

    by The Wrong Guy

    Nice!

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 8:26 p.m. CST

    IndustryKiller! (replying to spoilers)

    by Leedrick

    That wasn't the big ending, and I'm sure Latauro didn't think it was. He was likely referring to what was revealed at the end, rather than midway through the film. I don't have a problem with the cloning element, only that it was revealed so early.

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 9:44 p.m. CST

    I half picked up on the hat thing in the first shot

    by Monkey Butler

    Although at first I whispered to my girlfriend something about hoping rabbits would come out of them all, after seeing the trick with the bird and then the room full of birdcages, and I thought something was up. Still a great movie, even if all the 14 year olds at IMDB obssess over "which one was the original?" as if that's all that matters. SLIGHT SPOILER>>>>> It doesn't matter at all.

  • Nov. 20, 2006, 9:47 p.m. CST

    Also

    by Monkey Butler

    The SMH is reporting that the college guys and the etiquette coach are suing the producers of Borat. The college guys were allegedly fed a shit-load of alcohol before the signed releases, and were told that the film would never be shown in the US (implying that that scene was at least partially set-up. But that was obvious anyway, seeing as it was one of the few "story" moments in the film). The etiquette coach said that she was never told what the film was going to be about, and that she would never have agreed to be in an R rated film. Which would indicate that the film wasn't so set-up.

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 1:20 a.m. CST

    man

    by BadMrWonka

    Leedrick and I account for 50% of the talkback postings on Latauro's articles. which is a damn shame...(and yes, I'm aware Leedrick is like 90% of the 50%)...good one Latauro, and good call on Borat...I thought it was great, but I believe a good amount of it was staged (mostly based on camera placement/multiple cameras, etc.) and that did detract from it. still funny as hell, but on the show when it was just him and one camera, and obviously real, it was honestly funnier...

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 1:47 a.m. CST

    The regulars

    by Latauro

    I do appreciate the regular talkbackers and enjoy your mad debating skillz. Speaking of Borat and setups, there was a great story I was told of an Alby Mangle "documentary" where halfway through they spotted an attractive young girl stranded on an island. They approach the island on their boat, and there's a shot from a camera behind the girl watching them approach!

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 2:24 a.m. CST

    The Prestige

    by bender7

    I just saw it last night. It was great to see Jackman in a quality role and to see a different and interesting mainstream movie.

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 5:20 a.m. CST

    I loved the Prestiege but...

    by MaulRat

    I hated the ending.. so.. being a stubborn utopian... I wrote a quick alternate ending on a napkin at the cafe under the Cinema I saw it at, immediately a better ending came to mind and after I showed them, we talked about it.. and between us, we came up with what we feel is a better one. If anyone would like to see it I'll post a link to it... if not.. cool bananas.. I wont waste my time and yours.. And can someone tell me why they felt the need to change the title of the movie Lucky Number Slevin to "The Wrong Man" for Aussie audiences... Its "Saving Silverman" all over again, Evil Woman my ass!... and what the FUCK is wrong with the "Philosophers" stone?!?!

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 6:23 a.m. CST

    All those are better titles Maulrat!

    by Monkey Butler

    "Lucky Number Slevin" sounds stupid, Evil Woman...well, it's different, I'd say no better or worse, and "Philosopher's Stone" is actually the name of the book. It was changed for the US because the publisher of the book thought that readers would be turned off a book with the word "philosopher" in the title. Also, what would be this "better" ending?

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 8:54 a.m. CST

    Slevin Deadly Sins

    by Leedrick

    I'm with the chimp in the tux. Lucky Number Slevin is a stupid name for a hamster. I mean film. They should have called it "Slevin Las Vegas", "The Magnificent Slevin", "Slevin Samurai", or simply "Sle7in".

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 3 p.m. CST

    BUSH: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF HANOI FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLOR

    by Wonder Man

    Best. Next. Week. Joke. EVER.

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 3:40 p.m. CST

    wow!

    by BadMrWonka

    lightning just hit the apartment building next to me as I was reading this talkback. I blame Bush and Australia, in that order...man, the fire department is coming now!!

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 7:13 p.m. CST

    Prestiege... better ending... *SPOILERS*

    by MaulRat

    I know its not a direct adaptation of the book if it has any other ending.. but... this is how I reckon the Prestiege should have ended... MY ALTERNATE ENDING.... Jackman is dying.. the whole scene plays out.. he dies thinking it was a cloning machine.. the backstage gets set on fire and Bale walks out.. As Christian Bales character walks out of the abandoned theatre he hands a man (who we can't see) a wad of money, and keeps walking... then we hear Bale say "Are you watching closely" over him walking off and then the whole meaning of "the prestiege" from Michael Caine over a montage of clips... The first scene is the bird squashing, "First comes the pledge.... The magician shows you something ordinary" the next scene is of the actor 'double' with the big teeth, and him talking to Bale at the bar, the next scene is the bullet catch... then you see tesla plant a gun near the machine, you see Jackman shoot his double after he comes out of the closet after using the machine. "you're an actor, you're supposed to be dead, so try not to beathe" you then see him get up after the original jackman is gone and pulls a bladder filled with pigs blood out of his chest that was attached to a metal plate... the ball bouncing along the floor..... "Next comes the turn".... then you see what seems to be Bale paying Tesla with a big brown bag of money, you see tesla say "i've already begin building it".. the next scene is the same bag Tesla carries with him when he says to Jackman "You're our last financier".. The ball continues to bounce...... then you see Bale throwing hats around outside teslas place making Jackman think that its cloning his hats.. then you see Jackman realising that tesla has made a cloning machine.. "But it isn't enough to make a man disappear, you have to make him reappear".. the NEW transporting man trick with Jackmans double rising through the floor, we see jackman unconscious as he drops through the floor after the elctricity pulses through his body in the electrical transporting man trick.. Then we see Jackmans double is dropped into the water and for all intents and purposes drowns.. . then he flips the latch and unlocks the trick lock, and Caine does a bait and switch with a dummy corpse that is fashioned to look like Jackman, the ball keeps bouncing... You wonder why Caine is helping Bale.. "You should stop kissing your wifes leg, if I can see it, the guy in the 3rd row can see it", we see Caine standing off scene with a pocket watch, we see Jackmans wife drowning, Caine rushing to her aid, Jackman over his wife crying, Caine on the verge of crying as well (didn't see that coming did you)... you see little quick clips of Bales diary, the piece of paper that says tesla, Christian bales character handing Jackmans 'the prestiege notes' through the jail and Jackman ripping it up, we look to the ground and see glimpses of the notes which are actually, 2 birth certificates, that have the same last name, we see flashes of Bales characters changing outfits and disguises we also see more paperwork of a medical report, flashes of the words "cancer"... and "months to live"... then we see Bales character from behind bars... who looks as though he loves his daughter.... as it happens he loves his niece..... then bales character, dying in jail, accepting his fate "AINT A JAIL THAT WILL HOLD ME" Bale throws the ball in the jail... Bale hangs.... the ball is caught... ".. then comes.... the prestiege....." We see bale walking off with the ball in his hand.... he picks up his daughter and kisse her sweetly... The final shot of the film is a pan up from the wad of money, given to the mystery man.... we see nothing of the mans face.... save for a pair of Big bucky teeth... and he walks off down the street whistling.......................... aaaaaand scene. Cut to black...... Bale.... sotto voce "Abra-cadabra" That's my ending... The movie became about eliminating competition....... I like it... but then again I dont make or write movies I just thought I'd put it out there..

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 7:36 p.m. CST

    You forgot the SLevin Year Itch

    by MaulRat

    and Snow White and the Slevin dwarves... aren't I clever... incidentally, my whole point is why change the names of films at all?.. I agree that lucky number slevin is a stupid name, but why change it, is it nessesary?.. and I don't buy "because the name is stupid", studios makes stupid decisions everyday, why is the international title of great importance?.. take saving silverman (which is just an example I threw out there, no real significance).. The title saving silverman would suggest that its about the 3 main male leads.. which lets face it.. it is about them.. the Aussie Title "EVIL WOMAN' would suggest its about Amanda Peet.. that's all I'm just wondering why out of all the things they could address in a sub-par film, why they would bother with the title..

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 8:10 p.m. CST

    The Prestige

    by Leedrick

    Who here has read the book? Are the events revealed in the same way as the film?

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 9:06 p.m. CST

    RE: Leedrick

    by FrodosBlueBalls

    No, basically the book is split almost into two halves. the first half is borden's(bale)perspective from his diary and the second half is the story told from angier's (jackman) perspective, with some mixing in between with "present day" ancestors of the two. I thought the book was rather good and if you liked the movie i highly recommend reading the book since it's actually quite different and I don't want to spoil it for anybody who wants to read the book...or I can if somebody wants me to.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 3:35 a.m. CST

    Charlotte's Webb

    by Leedrick

    Latauro are you going to the premiere on sunday?

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 3:36 p.m. CST

    Leedrick

    by Latauro

    Nup. I have a screening next week, though. It's fifty-fifty whether I'll be able to make it.

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