AICN-Downunder: Excessively Long Fifth Anniversary Edition
There are people on this speck. They have a mayor who has 96 daughters and one son named Jojo, who all share a bathroom! Whatever that is...
Hey, it's my birthday! Saturday March 15 marks five years since I took over AICN-Downunder, and two years since I began wondering why I hadn't used my real name. No matter.
There's really nothing else worth noting about the date other than the fact that's a big round number. So, on with the column we go...
I hadn't heard about this anywhere else, so when I got an email about it, I thought I had an exclusive. A quick Google search showed that to not be the case. It seems Australian actor Josh Lawson has just signed on to play the Simon Pegg role in the US version of "Spaced". Unlike everyone else, I don't have a hatred for this project. I didn't think it would be any good, I just knew it would have any negative effect on the brilliant original, so I've been fairly dismissive of the whole remake thing. But with Lawson signing on, things have changed. Josh Lawson is one of my favourite Australian performers, a gifted natural comic with perfect timing. Lawson's involvement in "Spaced" means I actually have to pay attention now. At very least, it means Lawson's going to get an international career boost, which can only be a good thing. Lawson will next be appearing in $QUID, the Australian giant squid movie I'm still very much looking forward to.
New Line, which recently misplaced most of its executives after they forgot to make money for the past few years, might be looking to re-release LORD OF THE RINGS in glorious 3D. Hey, if your attempts to do another LOTR don't work (GOLDEN COMPASS), why not just put out LOTR in a new package again? Much better idea. Either way, if it's the extended editions and they're getting a cinema re-release, I certainly wouldn't pass up the opportunity to see them again on the big screen. The One Ring has more details here.
As someone who loved Sarah Watt's debut feature LOOK BOTH WAYS, I'm very happy to hear she's only a couple of weeks away from production on her follow-up. MY YEAR WITHOUT SEX features Sacha Horler (LOOK BOTH WAYS, THE ILLUSTRATED FAMILY DOCTOR) and Matt Day (KISS OR KILL, DOING TIME FOR PATSY CLINE) and begins shooting in Melbourne on March 31.
Nikki Caro, she of WHALE RIDER directing, will next turn her mad skillz to THE VINTNER'S LUCK, a film that is apparently about a peasant winemaker in 19th Century France and his relationship with an angel. Caro has cast Keisha Castle-Hughes, presumably as the angel, and my personal favourite Patrick Bauchau as a bottle of wine. The film, based on the novel by Elizabeth Knox, will also star THE DEPARTED's Vera Farmiga.
In this column's Reviews section, you're going to hear me going on yet another tired rant about how we don't fund anything commercial. But hey, the AFC actually did give some funding to something that looks like it's at least aiming for audience appeal. THE LAST CHERRY is a short film by 10 year old Lisa Kowalski, and the trailer can be viewed here.
Fans of Australian uber-critic David Stratton may want to pick up the beard's autobiography, "I Peed On Fellini", which was recently launched in Sydney. The book basically details Stratton's life and how he became the shaky-cam-hating, censorship-battling, film critiquing dude we all know today.
Sadly, there a few deaths to report this week. Richard Lane, a founding member of the Australian Writers Guild and noted TV script writer, passed away late February. Actor/producer Robert Bruning passed away just last week aged 79. Buning featured in a lot of TV, as well as the 1970 NED KELLY, SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY and HUNT ANGELS. Lastly, New Zealand writer/director Barry Barclay (AUTUMN FIRES, THE NEGLECTED MIRACLE, THE FEATHERS OF PEACE) passed away at age 63. As always, our thoughts are with the families and friends of the deceased.
AWARDS, FESTIVALS AND SCREENINGS
MELBOURNE QUEER FILM FESTIVAL 2008
Sophie Hyde, director of MY LAST TEN HOURS WITH YOU, won the Emerging Filmmaker Award at this year's MQFF. More details about the festival can be seen at www.melbournequeerfilm.com.au
The Australian indie that could, MODERN LOVE, is finally getting wide distribution, albeit on DVD. Alex Frayne's festival-loved film hits the discs on April 10, distributed by Accent Films.
RUN FATBOY RUN is the best film on this list. Do you have any idea how much that makes me want to cry out of my penis? BUCKET LIST was like watching an excuse to edit a trailer together, I haven't seen JUMPER, but 10 000 BC and MEET THE SPARTANS make me want to punch infants. I don't care if you're a fifteen year old schoolgirl who just wanted a fun night out at the movies, you go see THERE WILL BE BLOOD, or I will beat you with a bowling ball. Ahem. Sorry. That would be the angry internet nerd in me coming to the fore. Carry on.
1. 10 000 BC
2. RUN FATBOY RUN
3. BUCKET LIST
4. MEET THE SPARTANS
RELEASED THIS WEEK
Roland Emmerich correctly identifies the only time period in which he would be considered a talented director, the upcoming worldwide helium shortage makes this film all the rarer, Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer get raunchy, Catherine Zeta Jones welshes on her dialogue coach, Jessica Alba gets the eye of someone with even less discern than her, the correct answers is Earth, the correct answer is that he should have got it for NO COUNTRY if anything, Roadshow tries to sneak this one into cinemas without anyone noticing, a film featuring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanssen and incest still doesn't live up to expectations, Gus Van Sant expands a five minute idea into a feature with the use of lots of tracking shots, Pegg had me at hello, witty Caine and witty Law match wits in a battle of wits, and screenwriter Barry Levy comes up with a great idea for a film but writes this one instead.
10 000 BC
THE BLACK BALLOON
CLOSING THE RING
DEATH DEFYING ACTS
IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON
IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL
RUN FATBOY RUN
My 10 000 BC review can be found by clicking here. Please don't, as other have told me, use it as a "Oh, it's so bad it must be good!" excuse, and go see it based on my review. That would break my heart. I was trying to ward you off it, goddamn it! Now take a deep breath and check out my oh-so-controversial reviews below.
THE BLACK BALLOON
Let's try this again. This is my third draft of this review, because I just don't know if I've got it right or not.
I'm used to disagreeing with everyone else. It doesn't happen that often, but there have been times when I've been completely out of step with the rest of the critical community (which sounds like a neighbourhood full of people on life support... and, now I think about it, looks like it too). But this feels different. Have I missed something? It's happened before. My first review of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN was completely negative. Then I saw it again and "got" it, and it's retroactively one of my favourite films of that year. But I don't know if it's the same for THE BLACK BALLOON.
Everyone loves it. They just love it.
Here's the thing: when critics like myself get a bit too full of themselves, we tend to see ourselves as champions of the Australian film industry. It's our duty to tell the industry when it's doing something wrong, but we are the ones who sing the praises of indie efforts. Those small films that face an uphill struggle to get funding, get through production, get distribution... it's an incredibly difficult process, and you want to play your part, which is to then tell the audience to go see it.
But here's the other thing: our responsibility isn't to the filmmaker. It's to the audience. I'm supposed to tell you when a film is bad, regardless of any fictitious responsibility I may be flagellating myself for. So, though I may feel incredibly guilty and all betrayaly about it, I have to tell you when it's time to avoid a ticket purchase.
Do I mistrust my opinion so much that I can't just launch into a negative review when I don't like a film? Well, it's not really about that. It's perfectly legitimate to, when faced with almost-universal opposing opinions, question your own. And when I saw the trailer for BLACK BALLOON, days after I'd seen it and disliked it immensely, I was struck with "Hey, that looks pretty good!". So where I do think the film went wrong?
THE BLACK BALLOON is a coming of age drama about a teenager who is trying to deal with his mentally disabled brother, as he (the teenager, not the brother) embarks upon a romance with a beautiful and understanding girl. Very admirable. Matter of fact, I want to shake the hands of the people who made THE BLACK BALLOON for not only making a film, but tackling an issue that's not only one that most filmmakers would not want to go near, as well as of making a film that's clearly intensely personal. I would really, truly and honestly like to do that.
On the other hand, if my duty is to the reader, the filmmaker's duty is to the viewer.
Exorcising personal demons is fine, so long as it's in the context of a good film. Drawing on personal experience is one thing if the story is worth telling, but if it's not, you've done nothing but waste everybody's time. The cardinal sin of Australian cinema is that it's geared towards stories we feel we should tell, instead of stories people want to see. I'm talking about dumbing everything down for the masses, but must every film we produce be an overwrought domestic drama? Aren't we over-proportioning things? Does a statistician want to put some numbers together for us?
The film's opening scenes feature out-of-context credits that looked more at home in STRANGER THAN FICTION than here. This was followed immediately by some awkward writing and awkward acting that concerned me further. Looking back at the recent THE BUTTERFLY AND THE DIVING BELL, I'm amazed at how accessible they made a film that could have been too high-minded and off-putting to enjoy. THE BLACK BALLOON seems to want to challenge you; the story is told in a very, very straightforward manner, with no real visual flair at all. There's nothing inherently wrong with this... I'm not asking for a McG-style EXPLOSION of visuals or anything, but it feels flat. It feels very flat. And given so much of the story contains quite repulsive things, what one would suspect would be the film's toughest yet most important job -- that is, understanding not just the family's frustration with Charlie (the autistic brother), but their love for him -- is not really broached. If the family's love for Charlie is important to the story, then the audience needs to understand it, not just be told about it.
I think the best example of where the script goes wrong is with the introduction of Simon, the patriarch of the family. For the most part, Simon is a really solid and interesting character, but he has this bizarre quirk where he speaks to a stuffed toy bear, and talks as if the bear speaks back to him. Our first introduction to Simon features him claiming the bear has told him not to go to some event that his wife wants him to go to. I think we're supposed to find this funny and endearing, but it's actually remarkably creepy. My first reaction was that this man also had some form of autism, and should not be in charge of any family. It comes off as another case of "this event happened in my life, and it was funny/dramatic/intriguing at the time, so it will therefore have the same effect when put on film".
The cast is a bit of an eclectic mix. Rhys Wakefield, the non-autistic brother, seems to be the inversion of many other young actors; he seems very uncomfortable when he's being natural, but steps up when it's time for the histrionics. Too often, young actors don't know how to shout and scream without going over the top. Wakefield sells his anger really well, but falls a bit short when he's supposed to look contended. Luke Ford, the autistic brother, does an excellent job, and though I have a lot of problems with the portrayal, all of those stem from the screenplay. Gemma Ward, the love interest, actually comes off best here. She's very, very naturalistic, and sells the usually-cliched pretty-girl-who-likes-the-social-outcast without flaw. Based on this performance, I'd wager Ward has a huge career ahead of her.
There is nothing wrong with drawing on personal experiences. There is nothing wrong with making a film about a family in the suburbs dealing with autism. There is, however, something wrong with supplanting interesting storytelling with those things. It's time to focus less on what funding bodies consider Worthy Stories, and focus on films the audiences may actually enjoy watching.
But then, everybody else seems to feel differently, so I'm actually going to recommend you make up your own mind on this one. Go see it, and if you loved it, tell me what I've missed.
HEY HEY IT'S ESTHER BLUEBURGER
So, today's theme is how out of whack I am with everyone else. My semi-evisceration of THE BLACK BALLOON is not keeping at all with the glowing reviews and verbal praise spewing forth from the rest of Australia's film critics. When we exited the cinema after ESTHER BLUEBURGER's screening, the vitriol that came from a couple of critics nearby was like listening to dock workers being filthier than usual. Hours later, at another film screening, they were still going on about how bad BLUEBURGER was. Really? That bad? I didn't think so.
I didn't fall in love with it, mind you, nor do I like it a whole lot. I just don't mind it, and from the sounds of things, not minding it is the most glowing review you'll come across.
So, it's about a girl who doesn't fit in. She's about twelve or thirteen, and about to have her bat mitzvah (girls have their bat mitzvahs at twelve, boys have their bar mitzvahs at thirteen, and yet Esther and her male twin are having theirs at the exact same time, so I'm just going to assume she's thirteen). She's a bit of an odd one, and so naturally feels right at home when an older and edgier girl decides to take Esther under her wing.
It's hard not to compare ESTHER directly to BLACK BALLOON, even though neither film really invites the comparison. Both seem to have got a large chunk of their funding based on the "and Toni Collette" credit, both deal with a central character coming of age. And yet, though BLACK BALLOON is dealing with an issue you could very lazily describe as more "important", BLUEBURGER is much more successful at what it's trying to do.
Oh, sure, it has many moments of total contrivance, and actually features the most overused final scene cliche ever (that of a performance in front of a crowd, followed by the crowd's applause, all apparently resolving everything... by the way, BLACK BALLOON does the exact same thing, if you can believe it), but it's not patronising in a way so many coming-of-age stories are. And there are moments that are quite funny, so you can't fault it too much for that.
This isn't a great film, and there's no doubt that it's yet another personal-experiences-informing-plot exercise, but it's not impossible to sit through. Given my frustrating experience with the above Australian movie, that counts, sadly, as high praise indeed.
Well, this reviews section is turning into quite the family affair for me. A few weeks after revealing that the first time I saw "Sweeney Todd" performed was when my uncle played the title roll, I must now confess that my first encounter with "Sleuth" was when my father performed in it a few years back. I'm almost expecting CCTV footage of my brother at a nightclub to show up in something soon.
I really love seeing plays on film. I love it when you get things like TWELVE ANGRY MEN, which doesn't really try too hard to make itself feel "cinematic" for the sake of it. It just leaves you in that room and tells the story in that one jury room. A couple of exterior shots aside, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS does the same thing. Why do you need sweeping camera movements and half the film suddenly told mid-car chase? You don't. Those films got it very right.
SLEUTH does the same thing. Kenneth Brannagh has a fair bit of experience with bringing plays to the screen, but mostly he's been doing it with Shakespeare plays, which had a much larger scope that the plays of the 20th century. Those plays lent themselves to sweeping vistas and battle fields, but that's not what Brannagh ended up with this time. He's got one of those 20th century plays, where everything pretty much happens in a couple of rooms. Now, I'm a big fan of his HAMLET and his HENRY V, but this right here is his best directorial work. It's like he's been liberated by the constraints afforded him by the script, and has cut loose some directorial talents he's never even displayed before.
That brings us to Jude Law and Michael Caine. I personally think that Caine has been better these past few years than he has during his heyday. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love his early films, but he seems to have contracted Martin Landau Syndrome, and reached new heights with old age. He's more subtle than I've ever seen him, and he comes very close to acting Law off the screen.
See, I like Law, but when the film starts, I felt a bit wary. What was he doing? Surely not slumming it in such an important part! Thankfully, he's actually being quite true to his character. As the film progresses, he gets better as his character evolves, as if he's catching up with Caine's character in every way. They're a really good double act, and play off each other well.
There's a central conceit that almost, almost, almost doesn't work, but I'll let it go. Maybe I saw it coming because I knew it was coming, but I'm not convinced they pull it off. Nevertheless, it's a minor quibble, as is my disappointment that screenwriter Harold Pinter didn't change the ending. Nothing against the original play, but it's a bit straightforward compared to the rest of the story, and not really in keeping with the unexpectedness of the rest of the film.
Still, the film works for the most part, and is certainly worth the time.
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL
Now, help me out here, why doesn't this film work? I've been trying to figure it out since I saw it. It's not particularly bad, but it doesn't really fit together, and I can't really put my finger on what it is that doesn't work.
I suppose if I am struggling to see what doesn't work, the obvious faults lie with the script, and also the direction, but neither had any direct bothersome moments. Sure, some of the dialogue clunks, but when was the last time you saw an historical epic that didn't have clunky dialogue? (No, I'm really asking. I'm drawing a blank.)
If there is something worth seeing the film for, it's the acting. Eric Bana, Scarlett Johannson, Natalie Portman and Kristen Scott-Thomas all do really good work here, clearly struggling at times to lift the words above their station. Portman in particular gets some of the worst dialogue, and yet I think she does the best work of the ensemble. Essentially playing the villainess, she has what could have been the least thankful role, but really pushes the character of Anne into someone who is, despite being horribly ambitious, is somewhat sympathetic.
Peter Morgan did a great job on THE QUEEN, a film I didn't think could possibly work. When Morgan likes a character, he really likes them. He really liked Queen Elizabeth last time around, and here it's clear he likes Mary (Johannson). She's always sympathetic, and yet has a palpable struggle between what she wants and what she gets. He's good with his protagonists, but not particularly good with his antagonists, who he doesn't seem to have much sympathy for. Anne was on the cusp of being two dimensional, which is why I'm so impressed with Portman's performance. Of course, it's not really fair to assign such delineations. I can't possibly know that the subtleties in Anne Boleyn come from the actress and not the writer or director, but it really feels as if there's a tug of war going on between the creation and the interpretation.
The film has some good moments, but on the whole it doesn't work. Nor do its final moments work, a perplexingly patronising series of title cards that do their best to position the film as an official prequel to ELIZABETH. That leaves a pretty bitter taste in the mouth, and I suspect that any audience member who actually gasps at the final "revelation" is probably the type of person who will be totally entertained by the rest of the film.
Like ELIZABETH: TUDOR HARDER, I don't really hate this film, but nor do I feel I can recommend it. It's just kind-of... there.
And here we have it, the closest we'll ever get to an airport novel film. Seriously, DA VINCI CODE has nothing on this. DA VINCI failed because it made the mistake of believing its source material to be, y'know, good. VANTAGE POINT seems to recognise that it's pretty rubbish, and revels in it a bit. It's 24: THE MOVIE, with plot contrivances that would make that show's creators proud.
For those who don't know, the film is basically one fifteen minute period (during which the US President is assassinated) told from multiple points of view. With every different point of view, we get questions answered and questions raised, until the finale when it all comes together like some lazily-written pulp book!
It's actually fairly enjoyable. It's not as great as it should be (they should have really pushed the film's boundaries in ridiculousness), but it's a pretty good night out. Dennis Quaid gets the hero role, playing a Secret Service agent who is struggling with inner demons. Those inner demons? He jumped in front of a bullet and saved the President's life, and therefore feels conflicted about... uh... hang on... hm. Wait, that doesn't make any sense. It would make sense if his inner demons had something to do with fearing gunmen or not wanting to protect the President, but we get the classic go-to inner conflict, which is that he feels he let the President down. He feels responsible for the shooting, even though his entire involvement in it was to stop the President from actually being shot. I'd have no problem with a complex look at how a saviour can, psychologically, feel like the perpetrator, but this film can't really handle anything like that. It's very by the numbers, and as a by the numbers inner conflict goes, this one makes no sense.
Sigourney Weaver is pretty much wasted in her two minute cameo. William Hurt is William Hurt. Forest Whitaker is terrific in how well he suits the film's style. He's overacting and mugging so much as the "genial, smiley American tourist", it's almost like he's applying to have his Oscar revoked. It's really great stuff.
Don't expect to not completely laugh out loud at the final moments of the film, but if you're after a mindless action film, this is as mindless as they come. Seriously, it's an airport novel. See it if you like that sort of thing.
HORTON HEARS A WHO!
Can't say my expectations were particularly high for this one. Dr Seuss on film hasn't been particularly great over the last decade. I actually didn't mind THE GRINCH, even though I acknowledge it's not a particularly great movie (despite the presence of Clint Howard), and the trailer for THE CAT IN THE HAT looked utterly dire. Was 3D animation the way to go? Would it capture the vibe in a way that live action just couldn't?
Well, yes. Particularly if the people making the film actually understand why Dr Seuss books are as good as they are. The people behind HORTON clearly get the source material, which is a very good start. The impossible physics of the Who world is rendered so well, I'm hoping the eventual DVD release has some sort of fly-on-the-wall feature where you can just sit back and watch this world's characters do their thing. The brief glimpses we get of their everyday lives isn't actually all that brief, but it's so tantalising, you just want to immerse yourself in it.
Luckily, the story is interesting, the characters are spot-on, and the humour (almost) always hits. Jim Carrey is a bit of an odd choice for Horton. At first, I assumed they were just filling the cast with as many "comedy" names as they could, but Carrey's actually a really good fit for Horton. Similarly, Steve Carrell is a great fit for the Mayor of Whoville, and has some pretty terrific chemistry with Carrey.
I know there are a lot of reviews this column, so I'll keep this brief and avoid recounting the plot or giving you a complete cast rundown. Suffice to say, the film really works. Blue Sky should be commended for their work here, which, for my money, is easily their best to date, and puts them at the very top of their (non-Pixar) competitors. The unnecessary final musical number and non-sequitorial anime segue notwithstanding, this is a really good film that I suspect will be the best animated film between now and, say, WALL-E.
FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL
In constantly praising Judd Apatow, I do get the feeling that we frequently overlook the other major players. On the other hand, it's impossible to ignore the fact that Apatow's name on the credits creates a sort of constant; the film will almost inevitably feature (a) a plotline that looks like it should belong to some cookie cutter garbage, (b) character-based humour that doesn't sell out the characters in order to go for the cheap joke, and (c) an unexpectedly touching denouement.
I've never heard of Jason Segal, but he wrote the script and he plays the main character, and I gotta say, I really like him. He's got a bizarre mix of geekiness and coolness, neither of which seems to fit particularly well. He does some pretty brave stuff in the film, but he probably wouldn't have written it if he wasn't comfortable with it. An early scene features him having a heart-to-heart with someone whilst he's completely naked, and it's incredibly funny. It's a scene that would be dramatic in any other film, but the ridiculousness of his nudity really does make you laugh out loud even though you're still caught up in the emotion.
We've seen a lot of break-up stories (we've seen a lot of every type of story, but that's neither here nor there). Recently, I finally got around to seeing THE BREAK UP, which didn't really do it for me. I found it very easy to admire what it had set out to do, but I just didn't like it. I didn't really like the characters, and I didn't really enjoy anything that happened. FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL has a similar goal, being to show the the real non-sitcom effects of what happens when a long term relationship breaks down. The difference here, for me at least, is that the characters are enjoyable, and what happens to them is entertaining.
I'm not really familiar with any of the main cast, though I've heard the names before. Kirsten Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand... they're all very good, particularly Brand, who gets what is usually the most thankless role in films like this, and is one of the most enjoyable things about the film. Oh, and Paul Rudd, Bill Hader and Jonah Hill are all great, but you knew that already.
Definitely worth your time. (And if it wasn't, it would still be worth it for the mid-end credits "bonus" scene, that is so utterly brilliant, I want to demand a spinoff.)
- Told by the studio to "skew" younger, Mike Newell has cast Freddie Highmore and Abigail Breslin in the loose adaptation LOVE IN THE TIME OF COLOURING
- Gillian Armstrong to direct a trilogy of biopics focusing on the life of Jane Wyman, with the first film focusing on her childhood, LITTLE WYMAN
- Following his assertion that Egyptians used wooly mammoths to build the pyramids, Roland Emmerich will next turn his attentions to 1943 AD, in which a brave American soldier rescues a herd of elephants from Auschwitz
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March 14, 2008, 9:37 a.m. CST
March 14, 2008, 9:38 a.m. CST
March 14, 2008, 9:39 a.m. CST
March 14, 2008, 9:41 a.m. CST
March 14, 2008, 9:42 a.m. CST
March 14, 2008, 10:11 a.m. CST
March 14, 2008, 10:30 a.m. CST
That one made me chuckle.
March 14, 2008, 10:33 a.m. CST
no you don't
March 14, 2008, 10:39 a.m. CST
March 14, 2008, 10:54 a.m. CST
March 14, 2008, 11:41 a.m. CST
Only took me a minute to skim it.<p>Keep up the good work in Oz, Latauro!
March 14, 2008, 12:52 p.m. CST
Although you could *really* have done with proof-reading this edition! No matter, it's no worse than the typical piece by Capone, and continues to be one the best 'columns' or whatever on this site. Alwas good for a laugh, informative, and I like your reviews. Here's to another five years. :^)
March 14, 2008, 1:25 p.m. CST
I agree with raw_bean, this post needed a good old proof-reading, but it was still a good read none-the-less. I laughed out loud at both Roland Emmerich jabs (10,000 B.C. being the only time his directing would be considered decent - classic!). Keep up the good work.
March 14, 2008, 1:58 p.m. CST
March 14, 2008, 4:41 p.m. CST
Does he own stock in AICN?
March 14, 2008, 5:27 p.m. CST
by Uncle Stan
March 14, 2008, 7:26 p.m. CST
...Are precisely whats wrong with the australian film industry. Films that no one wants to see, at all, ever, except the people that make them, that are state funded based on noble art school intentions rather than actual film making ability or an interesting idea. The Black Balloon in particular looked like a fucking comedy sketch. Its the sort of junk that really gives prompting to the idea of scrapping the entire state funded film program. Let the market decide. They even cast a fucking model for celebrity value. Urgh. I'm serious, who the fuck is going to want to watch this film other than those involved in the australian film finance industry and the people who made it? It probally cost three times as much as kenny too.
March 14, 2008, 7:27 p.m. CST
else gets a month earlier.
March 14, 2008, 7:48 p.m. CST
...In regards to the black balloon being a subject most people would veer away from, someone should phone up Lasse Halstrom, Depp and DiCaprio and tell them where they went wrong with Gilbert Grape. You know that really exellent film about a social outcast with a retarded brother who comes of age as he falls in love with a beautiful and understanding girl.
March 14, 2008, 9:12 p.m. CST
by Dr Uwe Boll
The Australian film "industry" is like the special olympics - you're proud that they can do it but you're not going to put them (for the most part) in the same category as elite athletes who compete at a professional level (ie: real filmmakers). They compete at the level at which they can, which in the case of The Black Balloon is the disease-of-the-week telemovie field (it is, it really really is). It's just a crying shame that this "is" what passes for cinema in the government funded industry in Australia. A crying shame.
March 15, 2008, 1:30 a.m. CST
Keep it up. Good to read about the local stuff. And I'm cautiously pessimistic about a Spaced remake. Just pay the money that would produce this series to pay for the royaltiesw of the original series, adnd then release the original here and in the States. Im sure Pegg will sell it too easily now...unlike 5 years ago when it might have mattered.
March 15, 2008, 4:28 a.m. CST
by The Mothman
Two Hands, The Interview, Lost Things, Last Train to Freo, Patsy Cline...granted I've only seen bits of most of those, but at least they had strong hooks and weren't just 'character studies', seemingly the only type of film that can get funding. The only essay I ever wrote at uni that I was proud of made a recommendation to get better performances out of Australian films - cast well known Americans in the lead roles and get co-funding. All of which makes the end product less Australian, but at least it'll get exposure. Anyone up for the discussion?
March 15, 2008, 6:53 a.m. CST
keep it up.
March 15, 2008, 6:55 a.m. CST
We certainly do need to change the way we put films together (and seriously, you need to read Robert Connolly's white paper on the subject -- see last column). I don't think Americans is the way to go, because what's the point in making Australian films if there are no Australian accents? Plenty of popular Australian actors. We just need them to take pay cuts to do local films, and we need better scripts for that to happen. I didn't love Black Balloon or Esther Blueberger, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Toni Collette given her attachment probably got them made. She seems to be actively trying to help the local industry... now can we get some worthwhile scripts to justify her effort?
March 15, 2008, 7:35 a.m. CST
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March 15, 2008, 8:07 a.m. CST
...Scrap all development funding and all outright film financing. Tax subsidies instead. Sure, your going to end up with a whole lot of Uwe Boll worthy dreck and shady millenium style investors, but you will also get people willing to take a risk on putting money into films, but also expecting said films to be somewhat profitable. Instead of just giving free reign to someones mates who feel like throwing together a film after listening to some commentary tracks and thinking it sounds swell. Kenny aside, I cant think of an Australian film in the last five years that wasn't unwatchable junk. Save Noise, which was interesting junk. (note, I admire Wolf Creek for what it did, and I know people loved it, but I didn't. But at least it wasnt a fundie tard)
March 16, 2008, 12:39 a.m. CST
by half vader
Are you talking about the crews, the directors, writers, actors - who do you mean exactly when you say 'industry'? It seems to shift through the post. Because considering the average level of proficiency of say, Hollywood as a whole, you'd have to admit they're the same level of talentless fucks if you use the word as a catchall term. If you're not saying that, then you're obviously forgetting that many of the top people in all levels of the American industry are the same supposed retards. And also that a decent shake of the supposedly superior big American stuff was made in either place by the same idiots. I'm assuming you're only talking about the last couple of decades, as you obviously have no idea of the Oz filmmakers from earlier who have produced disproportionately many of the greatest films ever. I agree the funding is fucked up here and there's a lot of crap, but there's no way the level of dreck is higher than anywhere else. <p> Also the idea that this column is redundant betrays the retarded (ironic but topical term, like you using that analogy in the first place) people that think it's written mostly for Americans rather than the other way around in which the moronic 'old news' insult does not apply. "Everyone" doesn't mean America and some little people that are apparently out there in the rest of the unimportant world. Now before you go off, I'm not saying I don't like Americans (or redarded people for that matter). I am saying I don't like idiot generally. <p> Skywalkerfamily is a pathetic troll that defines himself as such with each successive post (except for a Zemeckis comment that was obviously a freak occurrence). But Yack was either joking or having a lapse. <p> Tourist, are you shitting on yourself? Because from that first post, you're obviously either involved with the finance or made those films, by your own argument. You have seen them, right? But I agree about Kenny. It made me so excited I rushed out and saw Jindabyne thinking somehow the tide had turned - oh well. But as far as being a fundie tard, I reckon it got interest (not funding per sé) for EXACTLY that same reason. It's got a pretty fuckin' ocker (occer? How the hell do you spell it anyway?) hook. Cheers. <p> Donwilly no, it's Emus that are arseholes.
March 16, 2008, 4:04 a.m. CST
by Dr Uwe Boll
Industry = Government Film Bodies (ie: the ones with all the money) I've never been called out on that before, fair enough. I don't understand your second paragraph, nowhere in my comment did I say this column was redundant. I'm not interested whether the Australian dreck is disproportionate to other countries or not, or what filmmakers did in the past, I care about today (and tomorrow). I'm not trashing below the line talent, I think that's bloody obvious. Once again I find myself agreeing with Tourist - 10BA may be a mixed blessing but a blessing is better than nothing at all. If comments by Brian Rosen in the Feb issue of IF (page 7) are anything to go by we're really, really going to need it.
March 16, 2008, 1:57 p.m. CST
by half vader
and you're (Dr Boll) absolutely right to pick me up on it. Obviously I was all steamed up. And ironically I didn't put an s on the end of idiot down there either. And I was saying Oz TALENT was disproportionate, not the general level of dreck. <p> On that note I subscribe to the theory that 80% of everything from everywhere is shit, 10% really good and 10 bloody awesome. Although it's probably more 90/5/5. Ah well.
March 17, 2008, 4:58 a.m. CST
by Knifey Spoony
I read it all and even read at least 5 funny lines out to my wife. And for all you guys bagging a column that seems to you to be about stuff that's OMG a whole month old - shit - some of us remember the bad old days in Australia when we had to wait six fucken months for new release movies.I saw Star Wars in 78 for fuck's sake. Compared to that this column is FRESH!
March 18, 2008, 5:42 a.m. CST
Congrats on the anniversary, and it wasn't that long a column.
March 19, 2008, 11:55 a.m. CST
by half vader
story up? That far-sighted Government of ours just hit it for six. And Justice League "Mortal"??!
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