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AICN Downunder: NARNIA 3, I LOVE YOU TOO, And New Guillermo Del Toro

I know how to do it now. There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They're all the leads of their own stories. They have to be given their due.


After the WOLVERINE screening the other week, I drove home and half-heartedly began writing my review. Realising I had no creative momentum, I abandoned it with the plan that I'd return to it the following day. A few days later, the film was out and it seemed pointless to bother. If a film really sucks (like, say, X-MEN III), I can use that energy of anger and frustration to write a negative review. But what if a film is mediocre, boring, un-energised? What if it's not actually bad, but rather consistently bland (with occasional moments of badness, I'll admit)? What if there's nothing to say about it?

Though it filmed largely in Australia and featured a big cast and crew filled with Aussies, it is thankfully drowned out by three films currently playing in cinemas that you must go and see.

The first is SAMSON AND DELILAH. When I first reviewed it, a part of me wondered if my own adoration of the film would be echoed by others in the media. Boy, was it ever. The film is getting five star reviews all over the place, a nice slew of positivity that coincides with the film getting into Cannes. It's a huge relief to see something genuinely Australian and genuinely brilliant garner so much deserved attention.

The second film you have to go and see is MARY AND MAX. Adam Elliot's feature film follow-up to HARVIE KRUMPET is an astonishing character piece, a truly beautiful movie that exceeded the expectations Elliot had thrust upon him when he collected his Oscar.

The third film is STAR TREK. You hardly need convincing to go and see this, so I'm simply going to talk up the Australian connection: TREK features Eric Bana and Melbourne actor Chris Hemsworth (as George Kirk), and both are brilliant in their relatively-short screen time.

You're all going to see TREK, as well you should, and I wouldn't even begrudge you a second viewing. But SAMSON AND DELILAH and MARY AND MAX should be viewed as well, and I don't say that as if it's some sort of community service you'd be performing. Too often, Australian audiences are lambasted for not "supporting Australian movies", as if it's we who must cater to them. Finally, Australian movies are catering to audiences, and it is you who will benefit from seeing these films in the cinema.


Speaking of Australian films completely and utterly ruling, THE HORSEMAN has just signed a deal with LA sales agent Media 8 Entertainment. Hopefully, this will see the film attaining wide distribution, especially here in the goddamn country it was made in. Hmph. For more details, as well as a look at a new poster for the film, check in with Inside Film by clicking here.

I LOVE YOU TOO is the first script by Melbourne comedian Peter Hellier, and production began last week. The romantic comedy stars Brendan Cowell (NOISE), Peter Dinklage (THE STATION AGENT), Megan Gale (almost JUSTICE LEAGUE), Yvonne Strahovski ("Chuck"), and Hellier himself. The film is being directed by comic-turned-director Daina Reid.

Michael Apted, as was previously reported by others and then forgotten by myself, will direct the third NARNIA movies, THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, which is currently preparing to film from July-through-to-November in Queensland. Which is in Australia. Between NARNIA and GREEN LANTERN, I say hooray for our weak dollar and its ability to lure exciting Hollywood projects!

Further to that sentiment, DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is preparing to shoot in Melbourne. Don't know it? It's written by Matthew Robbins and Guillermo Del Toro. The film will be directed by Troy Nixey, and will likely star Katie Holmes, best known for her recent tabloid work. Given the current state of employment, the best news is probably the five hundred full-time (or thereabouts) jobs it will create, which is the key point being promoted by the very-excited Victorian State Government.


2009 Russian Resurrection Film Festival

The annual Russian Film Festival once again comes to Australia, scooting around most of the major capital cities between August and September. To find out more info and book tickets, go to the Palace Cinema Como (Melbourne), the Chauvel Cinema (Sydney), the Palace Centro Cinema (Brisbane), the Cinema Paradiso (Perth), or the Palace Nova Eastend (Adelaide).

2009 Tribeca Film Festival

Victorian College of the Arts graduate Anna McGrath saw her film SMALL CHANGE pick up the Student Visionary Award at this year's Tribeca. Said the Tribeca jurors: "The filmmaker uses minimal storytelling to achieve maximum emotional impact and we commend the terrific performances of the young actors."


It was inevitable that WOLVERINE was going to get a lot of people in, but don't expect it to stay there for long. The inevitable negative word-of-mouth, combined with this weekend's STAR TREK opening, should push this down a whole bunch.

4. 17 AGAIN


Jon Hewitt's film is unburied, the Germans make a movie about a shopping centre, the sequel to DE-LOVELY looks at Cole Porter getting engaged, Matthew McConnaughey forces me to question the validity of his existence, the PARIS series of films finally completes its twelfth trilogy, I am told by a reliable source that this is the worst Australian movie ever made, I might have mentioned that this is one of the best Australian movies ever made, STAR TREK wins me back big time, Charlie Kaufman proves his previous films were straightforward linear romps in comparison to this, John Polson and Russell Crowe fail to make an impact, and the X-MEN series yawns and puts the result on screen.




Australian/NZ release: May 7

There are two extremes when it comes to reviewing movies. On the one hand, you have something like STAR TREK , which excites you, surprises you, and makes you want to write thousands more words than anyone will reasonably read. At the other end of the scale are films like NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, which I'm almost unable to write about, because I feel I need at least a year to mull over its meanings and depths. I know they were there, but I'm also aware that I'm not conscious of them all.

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK falls into the latter category. I've just seen it a few hours ago, and I want to capture my thoughts on it before they coagulate into something overly standard (like, say, a rating out of ten) which would go against the very grain of the film. Right now, I am in a state of confusion, and it only befits the nature of SYNECDOCHE that I write my review in this state.

Going in, I expected something lighter, something funnier. I think, based on the description, I was expecting something akin to a Michel Gondry Bjork clip. Certainly, there's no denying the influence that Michel Gondry, Charlie Kaufman, and Spike Jonze have all had on one another. But Kaufman's first attempt at directing a film goes several levels beyond the progression we'd been seeing. ETERNAL SUNSHINE was, by and large, perfect, and its surreal (yet never inexplicable) style was, we hoped, an indication of what was to come. SYNECDOCHE is not the logical child of ETERNAL SUNSHINE; it's the great-grandchild, several steps beyond into a new style of storytelling we've not yet seen on this sort of scale.

Actually, that's not entirely true. We have seen this level of surrealism on a large scale and featuring movie stars: just look to David Lynch's backlog. And it's fitting, because SYNECDOCHE feels like Kaufman's INLAND EMPIRE. I'm on the record as listing INLAND as one of the worst films I saw in 2007, even though Lynch is one of my favourite directors, and if I'm honest, I'm still struggling with my feelings on the film. Love it or hate it, it's the closest we'll get to seeing inside of Lynch's mind; it's a subconscious free-for-all, where his brain is put on screen without any sort of structure to filter it. Similarly, SYNECDOCHE takes into Kaufman's mind, and it's a frightening place.

I have my own theories about what happened and what didn't, and over the next few days/weeks/months, I'll try to coagulate them into something tangible that I, at least, can understand. But for the time being, I'll simply recommend that you ignore everything you've heard thus far about the film, and see it for yourself. This is a film that deserves the discussion.


WALTZ WITH BASHIR (Region 4, Madman Entertainment)

The film: Last year, I had trouble deciding whether WALTZ WITH BASHIR or NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD was the Best Film of the Year. I let my patriotism factor in, and the scale tipped towards NQH, but it really should have been a draw. It's difficult to overstate the brilliance of WALTZ WITH BASHIR. Serious film collectors tend to have a collection that lives on the scale of Important Weighty Cinema and Guilty Pleasure Easy-To-Watch Movie. WALTZ sits perfectly in-between the two poles. It's easy to see its importance; it's a story about an ex-Israeli soldier trying to recover his apparently lost memory of his military years. It's an animated documentary, which at time appears to be rotoscoped (though it's not) and other times takes flight into Miyazaki-like fantastical exaggeration. The Miyazaki comparison is apt; few other films have used a slightly-surreal filter to capture mundane truths, such as what it's like to simply be in a place. It is difficult to argue BASHIR's place as an important film. What's baffling is how rewatchable it is. I eagerly watched it a second time, and now as I write this, I'm jonesing to watch it a third. It's a truly beautiful, captivating, and addictive film, and you really don't expect it to be. It is absolutely essential viewing. I cannot overstress this.

The extras: The package isn't brilliant, but as far as I can tell, the Region 4 release is superior to the Region 1 and 2 releases. We get an interview with director Ari Folman (as seen on "At the Movies") and a trailer for the film. Though I would have loved, well, an extra disc of material, I'm quite happy with simply having the movie in high quality.

Should you buy it: Yes, yes, a hundred times yes. It ticks every box, invents some new boxes, and ticks those as well. Go, buy now. NOW.


- The WGA introduces a new 140 character screenplay format in advance of the murder mystery series for the Twitter generation, MURDER, SHE TWOTE

- Pixar issues new warning to Disney ahead of the TOY STORY 3 release: if Woody persists for more than two sequels, consult Pete Docter

- Vin Diesel and Paul Walker agree to explore the undeniable homoerotic undertones of their movies in THE FAST AND BICURIOUS

Peace out,


Readers Talkback
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  • May 11, 2009, 1:25 a.m. CST

    First, first, first

    by blakindigo

  • May 11, 2009, 1:28 a.m. CST


    by ccchhhrrriiisssm


  • May 11, 2009, 1:58 a.m. CST

    Uh where is the Narina 3 blurb??

    by AllPowerfulWizardOfOz

    did a control F and still did not find it except in the title. WTF?

  • May 11, 2009, 2:01 a.m. CST

    Narnia 3 blurb

    by Latauro

    Maybe you can't find it because you called it "Narina". The column is pretty short. It would be quicker to skim read it than to write a post asking where it is. Nevertheless, allow me to spoon feed: the third paragraph of the news section. The word "Narnia" first appears eighteen words in, if you want to skip the start of the sentence.

  • May 11, 2009, 2:02 a.m. CST


    by DOGSOUP

    Just kidding. What's a Narnia?

  • May 11, 2009, 2:13 a.m. CST

    Thanks Latauro. :)

    by AllPowerfulWizardOfOz

    Yeah it's late, and obviously mistyped.

  • May 11, 2009, 2:52 a.m. CST

    Thanks for carrying the flag

    by Kobaal

    I think we've all been embarrassed for quite a while at the state of the Australian film industry (barring a few gems). Good to see some good stuff coming out. The Horseman looks excellent!<p> Also, thanks for the one paragraph reviews. Such a change to get all relevant information and a recommendation in less than 2,000 words. Waltzing w/ Bashir went straight to the top of the list.

  • May 11, 2009, 2:55 a.m. CST

    What, no black box talkback for Latauro?

    by Kobaal

    ripped off!

  • May 11, 2009, 3:02 a.m. CST

    Latauro, Latauro, let down your hair.

    by thebearovingian

    Yeah, Wolverine sucked.

  • May 11, 2009, 3:16 a.m. CST

    Wolverine is worse than X3 by far

    by IndustryKiller!

    The argument has been made over and over and over again. Name me one single improvement, from performances, to directing, to action, to writing on down how its somehow better than X3. It's impossible. At least X3, which is total garbage as well, has Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in part of the film.

  • May 11, 2009, 3:20 a.m. CST

    Under no circumstances is Eternal Sunshine better than Malkovich

    by The Wrong Guy

    But then...I've always hated Jim Carrey. Even though he's good in Truman Show and the like. Wasn't a fan of Synedoche... Not worthless, but not exactly engaging either. Which is not something you can level at the Gondry or Jonze efforts. there an Australian release date for In The Loop yet, a film based on one of the most hilarious sitcoms ever forged (The Thick of It)? Is there, I asks ye?

  • May 11, 2009, 3:20 a.m. CST

    It's ALL the Queen's Land mate...

    by Lemming

    Sorry couldn't resist :D

  • May 11, 2009, 3:22 a.m. CST

    Seen Star Trek..Plan to see S+D / M+M asap..

    by quantize

    good to have some films worth caring about in this wasteland

  • May 11, 2009, 3:23 a.m. CST

    Now I haven't seen Wolverine

    by Monkey Butler

    and don't really intend to, but I'm kinda hard-pressed to imagine anything that could be worse than *Sentinel head = car headlights* *Sentinel head falls* *Wolverine magically appears behind head*. Dead set that was the worst thing I've ever seen, and if Wolverine has scenes more amateurish than that I really don't know what to think.

  • May 11, 2009, 4:15 a.m. CST

    Wait till you see Wolverine chopping up a fire escape

    by IndustryKiller!

    With the frame sped up comically like a fucking Chaplin film. Works for Chaplin, not so much for Wolverine. Also, three words, memory erasing bullets.

  • May 11, 2009, 4:30 a.m. CST

    A lot of people......

    by The Penultimate Gunslinger

    ... liked Wolverine. It's got pretty awful reviews, but all the normal people (ie: non nerds) I know who've seen it really enjoyed it. I think they just saw it as a dumb action film, and enjoyed it for that.

  • May 11, 2009, 4:41 a.m. CST


    by TheExterminator


  • May 11, 2009, 4:43 a.m. CST

    queensland is in OZ

    by TheExterminator

    you've mangled queenstown and auckland together

  • May 11, 2009, 5:18 a.m. CST

    Penultimate, if by dumb action film you mean

    by IndustryKiller!

    sci fi channel movie of the week dumb then yeah, its that. But as it stands Wolverine is more poorly constructed than any of Jason Stathams films. If they want dumb action see Crank 2, that will def be better directed and acted. I can't shut my brain off enough to literally ignore every single aspect of a film and why should I have to?

  • May 11, 2009, 6:43 a.m. CST

    Chris Hemsworth is brilliant as George Kirk?

    by Uga

    Seriously? That guy was easily the worst actor in the film.

  • May 11, 2009, 6:53 a.m. CST

    narnia 3 is gonna film this summer?

    by Bouncy X

    so they found someone else to release it? i thought they were still in between studios after disney dumped em.

  • May 11, 2009, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Bouncy x, yes....

    by Son of a Butch

    Fox jumped on board a few months ago.

  • May 11, 2009, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Mixing up New Zealand and Australia

    by Force_Shaped

    Since we're mixing the two, don't forget to recognize Karl Urban as McCoy... born in New Zealand (Wellington).

  • May 11, 2009, 5:56 p.m. CST

    Dont' be afraid of the dark

    by JoeKeppel

    is this a remake of the great "B" tv movie that starred Kim Darby and Jim Hutton?

  • May 11, 2009, 6:36 p.m. CST

    Will Fox shift Narnia back to an Xmas release?

    by MCVamp

    Disney fucking blew it on that one. Summer crushes movies like that. If CASPIAN had come out in winter it would have doubled its take just because it's the time of year to release a family blockbuster. Especially when, you know, fucking SANTA CLAUS shows up.

  • May 11, 2009, 8:01 p.m. CST

    I almost feel obligated to see Samson & Deliah

    by OutlawsDelejos

    It's the best reviewed film I've seen in ages, of course that doesn't necessary equate to a good film. For instance, I thought No Country was a wonderfully layered film and had brilliant moments. But in the end, I probably won't watch it again, not for a while anyway. Satisfaction is on par with the emotional experience for me these days. Thank 'Somersault' for that.

  • May 11, 2009, 8:03 p.m. CST

    Oh yeah, I'll definately check out the Horseman.

    by OutlawsDelejos

  • May 11, 2009, 8:30 p.m. CST

    Force Shaped

    by Latauro

    You're absolutely right -- I should have mentioned Karl Urban. My bad. Especially given how great he was! Apologies to Kiwi readers.

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