Ain't It Cool News (www.aintitcool.com)
Movie News

AICN-DOWNUNDER: Latauro TV, STAR TREK, Box Office, And More!!


So we have an African Jew wearing a hoodie...

AICN-DOWNUNDER

So, there are these places called Australia and New Zealand, and once upon a time they were really popular. They were popular because of this column called AICN-Downunder, a weekly column that ran every fortnight or so on a Texan movie website which is actually a front for a left-wing militia. Everything was fine until AICN-D's editor found himself writing/directing/presenting the second season of a TV show on Australian TV. This TV show was also about movies, had literally dozens of viewers, and was widely acknowledged by all who watched it as "on Thursday nights". The problem with this show existing is that it meant there was no time to work on AICN-Downunder, and so the column took a "break" for a few months.

In the time that it was offline, everybody forgot about Australia and New Zealand. Without AICN-Downunder continually reminding them of these lands, news soon dried up. "George Miller's Justice League movie to film in... elsewhere..." read the headlines. "Black Sheep, the horror/comedy made in... parts unknown..." began reviews. With both filmmakers and film fans confused as to where these long-since forgotten countries lay, the film industries dried up. Productions didn't so much shut down as faded away. Theatres closed. Chaos reigned.

Mobs of angry producers and actors figured out where the AICN-Downunder headquarters were, and stormed them. Carrying pitchforks and flaming torches, they descended upon the abandoned mannequin factory, finding a hunched, bearded, bedraggled figure lying curled in the corner. They began chanting the name "Latauro", until finally he looked up and said "That's just my pseudonym, fucktards". Then they were all like "Why are you being a little bitch? Just write another column. What's the frigging hold-up? Are you pissy because you don't have a black box in the talkback?". "No," he responded, "if I cared about that, I'd have subtly mentioned it in an editorial preamble." "Whatever," they said, still somehow in unison, "just write another damn column." He shrugged and dragged a nearby Macbook closer to his body. "Yeah, okay."

And thus, the Australian and New Zealand film industries were saved.

NEWS

Apparently, Newscorp's broadsheet newspaper The Australian is reporting that Russell Crowe will be playing the villain in the STAR TREK redux film that JJ Abrams is doing. I haven't seen any of the online news sites pick it up, most likely 'cos it's clearly garbage. But it's such outrageous garbage, I couldn't help but mention it. (Also, I want to provide someone with a great quote if it somehow turns out to be true. Oh, I've got all my bases covered, don't worry about that.)

Moving to more accurate Russell Crowe news, he's recently begun working with Leonardo DiCaprio in Ridley Scott's QUICK AND THE DEAD 2: QUICKER AND DEADER. Or, possibly, BODY OF LIES, about the hunt for an Al-Qaeda bomber. Rusty and Leo will play CIA operatives, and, if we're lucky, will spend most of the film yelling "Get the disc!" or some such variation.

One of the things I love about China is how much it doesn't abuse human rights. And that seems to be the position of the Australian government, which has just signed a deal to make a stack of productions, including films and telemovies. The first one to kick it off is THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI, directed by Roger Spottiswoode, which recently finished filming. CHILDREN is about an Australian nurse who saves a group of orphans during the Japanese occupation of China in 1937. To be fair, Australia also has similar "film treaties" with a stack of other countries (including Germany, Israel, Canada, and many others), but I'm sure those countries wouldn't object to the word "democracy" appearing anywhere in the script. Just saying.

AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS

2007 VENICE FILM FESTIVAL

Gotta give mad props to Our Cate for picking up the Best Actress award... for playing Bob Dylan. How cool is that? I haven't seen the film yet, but I've seen a few clips, and somehow she does come off as the most accurate Dylan. Astonishing.

BOX OFFICE

I've seen worse lists. I've seen better lists, too, but it's nice to see two decent blockbusters atop the list.

1. THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
2. RATATOUILLE
3. NO RESERVATIONS
4. I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY
5. DIE HARD 4.0

RELEASED THESE PAST THREE MONTHS... ER... LAST WEEK

Matthew Newton beats the crap out of his stockbroking lead role, Norma Khouri stars in the sequel to ACCEPTABLE ¢ANDOR, John Travolta still looks less silly than he did in BATTLEFIELD EARTH, and surfing penguins? Who the hell came up with the-- wait, I loved the chef rat film. Never mind.

THE BET
FORBIDDEN LIE$
HAIRSPRAY
SURF'S UP

INTERVIEW

Okay, technically this interview wasn't conducted for AICN, but I've been raving about BLACK SHEEP here since the very beginnings of its pre-production, and was sad that I never got to write about the project's finality in this forum. After all the pimping I gave the film, I was beyond relieved to discover it was actually worth everything I'd written about it (I was prepared to trash it if it sucked, but it doesn't mean I wasn't dreading that potential review). I dug the hell out of it, and felt it did everything a good horror/comedy should (ie: it was horrific and funny). So here, for your embedding pleasure, is an interview with the film's writer/director Jonathon King that was conducted by myself and a fellow named Shannon Marinko for that afore-mentioned show "The Bazura Project". Enjoy...



REVIEWS

There have been so many films since the last column! So many general releases and one-off film festival screenings. In fact, far too many if I'm going to keep this column under the requisite 150 pagedowns. The ones I really want to talk about are certain to make an appearance in this year's AICN-Downunder Annual, so I'll leave them until then. But I will say that there are going to be a few entries that will royally piss off the punters, and will surely make for the most entertainingly vitriolic talkback short of "Terry Gilliam's masterful TIDELAND is proof that Mel Gibson hates Jews!". Don't think I haven't been tempted to write that column, either.

SUPERBAD

I've never understood the concept of a backlash. I mean, I can kind-of understand it on a larger societal level, where the public's interest is won over by newer and apparently fresher inventions. But on a personal level, who becomes angry at something simply because of its longevity? It's something that goes through my mind whenever I hear criticism of new "Simpsons" episodes. For every justifiable criticism of the show's undeniable dip in quality (however large you may perceive that dip to be is up to you), there are five or six criticisms of the show that are based solely on the fact that it's been around for two decades and some people hate a success story.

I preamble thusly because I experienced my first backlash the other day. Or, more accurately, the first one I can ever remember. Or, even more accurately, the first one that springs to mind whilst I write this column.

As I walked into the cinema for SUPERBAD, I realised that a part of me was quite prepared to not like it. Not in that open-minded I'll-see-when-I-see kind-of way, but in a way that was a direct backlash to all the Judd Apatow love that's infected every online article, be it about the man's work or not. You just can't escape it, it's way too gushing, and it was turning me off SUPERBAD before I'd even seen it. And sweet Jesus, Apatow's only the producer!

I tell you this because it's important to note this possible negative gearing when I tell you that SUPERBAD is utterly brilliant. At the Melbourne critics' screening of CLERKS II, I was embarrassed to be laughing when no one else was, and chewed on a lot of clothing to save myself from the judgment of those sitting so close to me. This time, I just didn't care. I was in tears of laughter on more than one occasion, and all types of pain (the good types) throughout the entire thing.

It manages to be funny and sweet in a way that highlights just where AMERICAN PIE didn't work. Now, I don't mind AMERICAN PIE. I think it's a decent comedy, and I enjoyed it when I first saw it. It certainly had the benefit of being decent in a genre that was in serious decline. But the film switched gears and sold its characters out more than once in order to have its cake and eat it too. PIE would do something unexpectedly and almost unbelievably gross, then "redeem" itself by having the characters suddenly realising that love is more important than sex. This isn't some huge problem that ruins the film's internal logic, it's just a mildly lazy way of doing things that's only apparent now that SUPERBAD has shown us how it's done.

These guys act and talk like actual teenagers. The "gross" situations they get into work not because they're so far-fetched, but because of how these kids react. And there's an undeniable sweetness that lives in every frame; instead of undercutting the comedy, it underscores it, raising the stakes and turning already-funny jokes into incredibly funny jokes.

Or maybe I'm over-analysing it.

"Arrested Development" fans will probably see this for Michael Cera, who has perfected his awkward teen routine even more, and actually outshines his "AD" work. I have no idea who Jonah Hill is, but he's just as brilliant, turning what could have easily become a one-note funny fat guy routine into possibly the most memorable, funny and believable teen character in any film of this genre. The supporting cast is perfect, the script is bizarre and brilliant, and the direction is genius. Seriously, despite all the praise this film has been getting, I wasn't expecting any of these things to be true to this extent, and I find myself surprised by my own superlatives even as I write them.

I can't recommend this film enough. If you're a gross-out fan, you're going to love it. If you're a fan of sweet and nuanced character pieces, you're going to love it. And the fact that it simultaneously appeals to both camps so perfectly is a testament to its brilliance.

STARDUST

Watching the trailers for this film, I had the feeling that it was going to be either awful or brilliant. Every now and then you get the feeling that a film is going to completely miss the mid-ground and end up as an extreme. Picture a truly awful trailer that incorporates the best bits of THE PRINCESS BRIDE, and you'll have an idea of the duality I was expecting.

Consider me equally astonished and yet unsurprised at how it manages to be equally brilliant and yet awful at the same time.

The first problem: adaptations suck. You just can't win. Change too much and you've ruined the spirit of the source material. Keep too much in, and you're pandering to the narrow audience that's going to care that every detail has been included. So every few minutes when I found myself wondering "Why in the hell is that scene in there?", I'd have to immediately answer with "Oh, that would have worked very well in the original graphic novel. And I must remember to take that schizophrenia medication when the film's over".

Far too much of this film looks like it would have worked in the graphic novel upon which it is based. Unfortunately, most of it does not work in the film. The protracted opening serves only to tell anyone paying attention exactly how the ending is going to play out, and the dialogue relies far too readily on the most bland of cliches ("His one true love" etc etc). Also, the sheer amount of plot devices that hinge on the most spurious of reasons... why did the king throw the stone up at the star? Oh, right. To kick off the second act. How obvious. Actually, the more I type, the more convinced I am that I'm being too kind to its source material. Obviously, I haven't read Neil Gaiman's "Stardust", but Gaiman has such a good reputation that I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt even as his (or what I assume are his) plot twists do little but frustrate me.

So given I (somewhat hastily, I'm beginning to think) used the word "brilliant" earlier in the review, what actually works? Well, Charlie Parker is a pretty charismatic lead. And he knows it. And Claire Danes is a pretty charismatic magical girl thing. And she really knows it. In fact, the cast spends so much time being pleased with themselves for being so excellent, you'd be pretty irritated with them if they weren't so excellent. Michelle Pfeiffer continues to shamelessly plunge into the most unlikeable of characters (between this and HAIRSPRAY) and comes off better than anyone else.

Then we come to Robert de Niro. I've been more willing to forgive De Niro than others. I don't think his forays into films like MEET THE PARENTS or ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE have anything to do with him selling out; I think they're just the types of films he wants to make these days. And I don't think his work in STARDUST is selling out either, but I'm now pretty much over the "Oh my god, De Niro's usually so serious and now he's prancing around like a ponce!" novelty. Neither his ferocious pirate or his mincing pirate strikes a chord, and I think his presence drags the film down.

Wait, I was talking about things I liked, wasn't I? Okay, there are a number of scenes where the humour really works. There are genuine laughs in here. And the scenery is really very pretty. (Scenery is usually not important, but if you're making a fantasy film these days, there are two major criteria: make sure the landscape looks amazing, and make sure the it doesn't look like LORD OF THE RINGS. On these counts, STARDUST gets full marks.)

I want to be kind on the film, 'cos kids are going to love it, and so they bloody should. A lot of the stuff that irritated me isn't going to matter to a child, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if ten years from now we had a generation who grew up with the fondest memories of this film. (I grew up on, and unashamedly love, WILLOW, which should prove just how impressionable young minds can be.) I'm digging into it as a discerning and self-important film critic, but I have zero problem with it as a kids' film. And that's where a lot of my duality problems come from. So don't bother with it if you're after the next LORD OF THE RINGS, but definitely bother with it if you want your little sister to enjoy a film that isn't BRATZ.

NEXT WEEK

- Anne Hathaway gets her product placement paycheque as she plays a nervous intern at Glenn Close's 4WD magazine in THE DEVIL DRIVES PRADO

- Steven Segal secures funding for his HALF PAST DEAD sequel DEAD: FORTY

- Paddy Constantine changes his character from American to British in adaptation REEVES

Peace out,

Latauro
AICNDownunder@hotmail.com



Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Sept. 17, 2007, 8:42 a.m. CST

    first

    by TrainWreck1969

    did I make it?

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 8:47 a.m. CST

    Your back!

    by red_weed

    Amazing. And The kind doesn't knock the star down in the original novel, at least not to my recollection. although that doesn't mean there aren't other plot contrivances... But hey, i can't wait.

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 8:49 a.m. CST

    That should read King...

    by red_weed

    Oh Yes, and I have to agree with you about willow. Watched it again recently and realised it was actually a very silly film, but that doesn't stop it from being great and an important part of my filmic upbringing

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 9 a.m. CST

    Ok I'm wrong

    by red_weed

    the king does make the star fall in the book. Well there you go. Maybe i should read it again.. It has been a while. I kinda wanna see the film first though

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 9 a.m. CST

    Mmm.

    by Zappary

    Yeah, he does knock it down. Rather unnecessarily elaborate way to choose a successor, really. And if you ask me, current fantasy films need to stop imitating LOTR and start imitating Willow.

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 9:32 a.m. CST

    I too loved Willow

    by BendersShinyAss

    And I still do to this very day. but I know exactly what you mean about what works and what doesn't.

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 10:13 a.m. CST

    awww Willow

    by Bloo

    I loved that movie too, yes it is silly and makes litle to no sense other then a starring vechile for Warwick Davis but such a great great film. Did anyone ever read the Willow sequel books that Chris Claremont wrote? I read the first one and was midly impressed if a little lost but never bothered to pick up the 2nd and 3rd books

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 10:20 a.m. CST

    Them bloody Klingons...

    by Kid Z

    ... look like they could put up quite a nasty fight! N' them Federation blokes could use a right beatin' as well! C'mon Tugger... let's get ya outfitted with one'o them warp drives!

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 10:20 a.m. CST

    Russell Crowe is just evil...

    by quantize

    not a villan

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 10:53 a.m. CST

    Great to have you back, Lataruo!

    by raw_bean

    I hereby add my support to the 'grant Lat a Black Box' movement we should start. :^)

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 11:57 a.m. CST

    They eat dogs, too, though...

    by Kid Z

    ...and snakes, and duck embryos, and eggs that they bury in the ground until they rot, and bird's nests made from swallow snot, and fish eyeballs, and bear cubs drowned in rice wine, and finches boiled alive and whole in peanut oil, and in one region during the Cultural Revolution (gulp) PEOPLE! A friend from China told me once that they'd basically eat pretty much anything they could manage to catch.

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 12:02 p.m. CST

    And it's spelled Ritalin...

    by Kid Z

    ... Zombifying kindergartner's in the 21st century, curing space plagues in the 23rd!

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 1:08 p.m. CST

    The Ender Smites Foes is officially a retard.

    by raw_bean

    That is all.

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 1:36 p.m. CST

    where you been cunt?

    by messi

    seriously?

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Yeah Ender, but in the South...

    by Kid Z

    ... the word is used in a different way: "Whatchoo doin' thar, Bubba?" "Just'a RIDLIN this hyar stop sign fulla bullet holes!"

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 5 p.m. CST

    Smites

    by Latauro

    I appreciate your suggestion that I should concentrate, as well as your thesis on how the Japanese invaded China because they eat six million cats a day... and... uh... hang on, what?<BR><BR>(Note: that "what?" is rhetorical. I'm not actually awaiting your response.)

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 10:22 p.m. CST

    red_weed and Latauro

    by Leedrick

    What about his back? You got me interested in his back, then didn't say anything more on the topic! <br> It's great to have both your back and your front back Latauro, and I look forward to your next article after season 3 of Bazura. <br> I assume it is going ahead? By the way the final episode intro was gold.

  • Sept. 17, 2007, 11:33 p.m. CST

    that Bazura thing

    by Maniaq

    would have worked so much better if they got someone else in to deliver the jokes. I mean the gags were ok but the delivery - especially that smarmy fat one who was obviously so full of himself for coming up with- oh wait, which one were you, again? <br> ;)

  • Sept. 18, 2007, 3:57 a.m. CST

    Matthew Newton beats the crap out of his stockbroking l

    by Dr Uwe Boll

    Now that's cheeky aint it! I didn't imagine he'd have time between looking for a job and swinging fists into his girlfriends face.

  • Sept. 18, 2007, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Leedrick and the Doc

    by Latauro

    Thank you, Leedrick. No word yet on Season Three, but you'll be amongst the first to know when there's news. Dr Uwe Boll: I'm sure I don't know what you mean... [coyly glances away]

  • Sept. 18, 2007, 8:24 p.m. CST

    "THE DEVIL DRIVES PRADO"?!...

    by couP

    good lord, nicely done. Going to see a screening of 'The Kingdom' tonight; hoping it's good.

  • Sept. 18, 2007, 9:27 p.m. CST

    Leedrick

    by red_weed

    Yes, Latauro's back is amazing! I could not believe my eyes.