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AICN-DOWNUNDER: Dirt Music, The Holiday and a Night At The Museum

This is so not worth $11.50 an hour.


First up, a quick hello to all my friends and family. Yes, I am still alive. Sorry none of you have heard from me in several weeks, but, well, I've been pretty busy.

It's hard to prepare yourself for the amount of work making a weekly half hour TV show requires. As busy as you expect it to be, it's going to be busier. And that's with about seven people working on it constantly, and a back-up team of a dozen or so more. It would probably be easier if we wrote a show that just required us to sit around in the studio and talk crap, but most of what we write is incredibly elaborate given our complete lack of budget, so the workload increases...

We had a pretty cool moment the other week when we interviewed Pete! Ford, the producer of Jamie Blanks's new horror film STORM WARNING. A technical hitch had delayed the filming of the interview, and so we chatted to Pete! for about forty-five minutes before the interview even begun, and the interview went for thirty. We then had the unenviable task of cutting it down to six minutes for broadcast, but there was a lot of great material that got cut.

One such bit of material involved an exclusive that Pete! had for us. It was about the Weinstein Company buying STORM WARNING and distributing it in the US. About thirty-six hours before we went to air, both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter had it, so there wasn't much point leaving it in. (It also meant we lost Pete!'s anecdote about Bob seeing the trailer and yelling, "This is the sickest thing I've ever seen! Get Harvey in here!", and Shannon's response, " I can see the two sickest things side by side.)

Anyway, this week we got to interview Dr George Miller, which was incredibly awesome. He's a very cool guy in person, and it was excruciating only getting twelve minutes with him instead of the three hours we'd have liked, but we still got some great stuff. That'll be on air next Thursday and online next Friday.

No, I'm not able to talk about anything other than the show at the moment, because it's all I'm doing from morning to night. Six hours sleep is a luxury. This show is the only thing going on right now. You're lucky you're getting a column, but since I'm promoting the show, it doesn't really count as "doing something else".

No idea what I'm talking about? Maybe you should go to and watch the first two episode of "The Bazura Project", the movie show co-hosted by your beloved Latauro. And now, to the column...


A combination of good and bad news from New Zealand film site Black Magic. The good news? Horror film BLACK SHEEP has been given an R18+ rating. That's NC-17 to you Americans, and HORRIBLY-DISTATEFUL to you English. The bad news? The film has a release date of late March. And here I was unreasonably hoping that I'd get the pic for Christmas... Still, I suppose in some ways it's all good news. Mark's also got a host of terrific stills from the film that I haven't seen anywhere else, so swing by Black Magic and take a look.

When the news you cover is as specific as it is for, you don't get many exclusives, so I feel I should give props when they get something cool... even if I'm, like, 20% I heard this a while back. Anyway, your one-stop site for Joseph Fiennes news is reporting that the J-man will be joined by Dannii Minogue on DAISY SCARLETT, the spy that's more female that James Bond and Lara Croft put together. Ddaannii won't be playing Daisy, we're told, but a "less character". And Joseph might not be playing Daisy either. Naomi Watts was rumoured for a while, but had to leave when the film interfered with her plans to not be in it.

This was very strange. One of my spies deep inside Weta's wetahole sent me some secret production stills from THE WATERHORSE, asking that he didn't receive credit because Sony is going nuts to weed out the person who sent them in the first place. Hang on, I thought. In the first place? Turns out that someone else had leaked the stills first, and leaked them to So why was my scooper passing them onto me? Not entirely sure, although it's nice to have high-res versions of them in my inbox. Still, rather than go to the trouble of trying to get AICN to post them, then discovering the email never got through, then discovering the server's down and won't be able to post images for another month, I'm just going to link you to where you can check out Xoanon's fine work. But big thanks to my scooper, who assures me he doesn't exist.

Everyone has different theories on what would improve the Australian film industry. Me? I have the controversial idea that we should make films that people actually want to see, using all of those popular actors and directors we keep shipping off overseas. Seems that some things are being done to change this, with top-drawer director Phillip Noyce returning again to local shores to make DIRT MUSIC. Originally set to star Heath Ledger, the film will need to be re-cast so Ledger can go taunt Batman. See, almost all the elements are there, except it's based on a novel by Tim Winton, who I'm not a huge fan of. But even if I was, he seems to write the exact same stories that are driving audiences from Australian films, so why we'd want to adapt one of his... okay, I'll calm down.



More out of obligation than anything else, I should mention Australia's big annual awards gig. Most interesting to me was the excellent HUNT ANGELS picking up Best Documentary. It probably could have qualified as a Drama as well, given it's a pretty evenly-mixed docu-drama. I mean, Ben Mendleson and Victoria Hill are right there on the posters, dressed as the characters they play. Even so it's a documentary? Interesting. Best Screenplay went to Luke Davies and Neil Armfield for CANDY, and Best Film and Best Director both went to Rolf De Heer's TEN CANOES.


Last week, Nice Shorts held its awards ceremony, with Best Film and Best Director both going to Stuart Moulds's STALLED. Scott Brechany picked up Best Actor for his work in FURY OF THE GENTLE, and Josh Weinstein got Best Editing for CROSS EXAMINATION.


No huge surprise here, aside from the fact that the new Bond film with Daniel Craig didn't make a cent, and yet the re-release of the Woody Allen/David Niven camp classic CASINO ROYALE absolutely cleaned up. Never underestimate nostalgia, people.



A dangerous new mission receives its completion Bond, BABE is ripped-off by the film that inspired it in the first place, a group of young women squeeze themselves into tight holes, end e eoung eero eiscovers eis eestiny.




I have absolutely no idea how I feel about this film. I either find it to be inoffensive fun, or I dislike it immensely. I'm not sure.

The big thing that struck me about it was how lowest common denominator it was. It's really aimed at 10 year olds, which seems a bit unnecessary to me. I'll elaborate. I'm a big fan of the "Batman" animated series from the 1990s, and watching the DVDs, I heard one of the producers say something interesting. In talking to WB about the series, he said, "It's Batman, kids are going to watch it no matter what. Why not write it for adults, and that way we get both audiences?". It's the reason the show still holds up today, and it's a brilliant way of thinking. I can't help but feel that kids would have gone to see a CGI-heavy film about dinosaurs and cavemen and tiny men coming to life at night no matter how crass the humour was, and they may as well have tried to make it a bit, I don't know, funnier.

It's got its moments, though. Ricky Gervais is funny, even if he's rehashing his standard routine. I have no problem with him rehashing it, mind you, 'cos he's excessively awesome, but it seems very out-of-place here. Robin Williams is very good as Teddy Roosevelt, even if he's forced into an embarrassing, cookie-cutter plotline about being in love with one of the other wax sculptures but not being brave enough to tell her. Most of the stuff with Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan is pretty good, although they suffer from this lowest common denominator bullshit more than anyone.

Stiller's good, doing his everyman routine from MEET THE PARENTS, but doing it well. And this won't come as a huge surprise to anyone familiar with Shawn Levy's work, but a lot of the problems come with the direction. There are far, far too many moments where jokes don't work, and are then stretched out into comedy routines that don't work. It's astonishing to watch scenes fall flat on their face and then continue for another minute or so, as if the director forgot to yell "Cut!".

You can do much worse with the mainstream fare that's coming out these holidays, but don't rush out to see it if you weren't planning to already. A decent diversion.


Nancy Myers, you are an incredibly clever woman.

She's not out to make great art. That much is certain. She's a publicist, who designs her films around the marketing campaigns that will sell them. Watching THE HOLIDAY is like watching an extended trailer for the film you're already watching, and if that thought doesn't mess with you in an MC Escher-type way, then I'll just go back and underline the word "extended". Yes, the film goes for 130 minutes, and it feels like longer.

At the time I was watching the film, I was actually getting angry about how bad it was. Then, afterwards, I began to soften in my opinion of it. I realised it was because the aftertaste of the film is exactly the same as watching the trailer. You only remember the salient details, the funny lines (all Jack Black's), and the bits that are designed to stand out. The rest is filler, and it fades even as you're watching it.

I've no doubt that Myers loves the films she references throughout, but all the classics she mentions just highlight how predictable the damn film is. Eli Wallach is awesome, lending dignity to what is almost an undignified cute-old-man role, but every time he launches into a speech about how bland cinema is these days, you wonder if you're watching the making-of doco about THE HOLIDAY and he's just been reading his script.

I have much more to say about the film, but thinking about it for any longer than I have to is a waste of both my time and yours, so I'm going to cut it short. Do not bother with this film. It's almost as bad as Myers's WHAT WOMEN WANT, and that's one of the lowest ratings I can give it.


- Pixar to produce a homoerotic HARRY POTTER/MONSTERS INC crossover rom-com, with WHEN HARRY MET SULLY

- Bruce Willis announces plans to make DREAM AS IF YOU'LL LIVE FOREVER, LIVE AS IF YOU'LL DIE HARD

- Will Smith signs onto dramatic sequel THE CHAYSING OV SADNES

Peace out,


Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 16, 2006, 10:34 p.m. CST


    by CarbonGhost

    When will the Waterhorse come out?

  • Dec. 17, 2006, 3:14 a.m. CST

    errrr no.....

    by mark-blackmagic

    Black Sheep is R13. You must have read it wrong.

  • Dec. 17, 2006, 3:51 a.m. CST

    I'm fairly certain Descent was released a month ago.

    by The Wrong Guy

    At least in Melbourne it was.

  • Dec. 17, 2006, 4:01 a.m. CST

    Sydney too.

    by half vader

    Also, both Pete and George are awesome.

  • Dec. 17, 2006, 6:23 a.m. CST


    by Latauro

    I wrote it at 2am, what do you want from me? Okay, fair enough. Looks like I did read that wrong, Mark. I could have sworn it was R18+. Oh well. At least that was the only thing I got wr-- oh, the Descent. Yes, I got that wrong as well. And I spelled "distasteful" incorrectly. Time to retire?

  • Dec. 17, 2006, 9 a.m. CST

    i may see n.a.t.m this friday...

    by jig98

    it looks like it could be enjoyable by what i see. even though it looks like it was meshed together by jumanji and indian and the cupboard. i just saw eragon last night and it was fantastic. both books for these movies were ok to read. but just like the original source materials for these ideas, there's always more to it. plus, the cast rules.

  • Dec. 17, 2006, 4:38 p.m. CST

    What we want from you Lat is a link to the show

    by half vader

    Is it online?

  • Dec. 17, 2006, 5:29 p.m. CST

    It is...

    by Latauro

    I actually provided a link in the article, but I'm never adverse to over-promotion. The show can be found at

  • Dec. 17, 2006, 5:41 p.m. CST

    What was that site, Lat? I didn't catch it the first 40

    by The Wrong Guy

    ...times you mentioned it. ;)Just kidding. Nice work with the show, btw.

  • Dec. 18, 2006, 12:23 a.m. CST

    "Damn you Michael Bay" too high on this TB list....

    by GibsonUSA Returns

    It's funnier reading "Damn You Michael Bay" further down the list, when it pops out of nowhere after conversations have started.

  • Dec. 18, 2006, 4:44 a.m. CST


    by half vader

    Well fuck me! There goes the credibility I never had. Glad to provide you with the opportunity though. Now back over to the Sly posts to hear the latest on Gibson's cricket (it's the other kind of cricket in here mate).

  • Dec. 18, 2006, 4:05 p.m. CST

    SHIT! I saw the trailer for the museum film tonight

    by scrumdiddly

    and that's the exact fear I had - that it would be too stupid and immature. Too careless. It looked like it had real possibilities...alas, that's Hollywood. By the way, Casino Royale ABSOLUTELY FUCKING ROCKS!