Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday On My Mind: Peter Templeman

Image - Ryan Kwanten and Peter Templeman on location

We're back into the film realm this Friday with Not Suitable For Children director Peter Templeman returning to the AFTRS fold to share his feature filmmaking debut. And yes, after our Friday on My Mind chat, AFTRS is hosting a screening of Not Suitable for Children - so come along at 5pm and join the fun!
Peter Templeman, has garnered 38 awards all up for his short films, including an Academy Award nomination in 2007 for his AFTRS short The Saviour and has also worked extensively in television, directing shows that include, Dead GorgeousBogan Pride and the BAFTA nominated episode of Lockie Leonard: Ladder of Love. 
This year Peter saw the release of first feature Not Suitable for Children - written by fellow AFTRS alumni Michael Lucas, which just picked up the AWGIE in the Original Feature Film category. Not Suitable for Children was a five-year labour of love for Peter who will share how he found the experience of directing his first feature-length film, as well as what it takes to direct an urban-comedy in an Australian context.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TheVine Interview: Jeremy Renner

Jeremy Renner is a man in serious need of a cup of tea, a BEX and a good lie down.

For the past two years the Oscar nominated actor has been in high demand, making back-to-back action films (maybe you’ve heard of them: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Avengers). Now in Australia to promote his latest action flick (and perhaps his last for a spell) The Bourne Legacy, Renner might have seemed a little weary, but his passion for getting his character Aaron Cross is still palpable – just read down to where we discuss addiction!

Co-written and directed by Bourne stalwart Tony Gilroy, The Bourne Legacy niftily weaves Aaron Cross into the story of The Bourne Ultimatum, where Bourne’s actions to reveal Treadstone have a crippling ripple effect on the CIA. Edward Norton’s Eric Byer is brought in to clean up the mess, and Aaron winds up in the cross hairs. 


I loved that the opening shot is the classic image of Bourne floating in the water – and it strikes me that it works as a helpful metaphor for you, because aren’t so much stepping into his shoes as swimming in his wake?

You can talk theme and metaphors all you want. That’s what I love about these kind of movies. You can alter the perception in someone’s eyes, [and change] what they see. It’s interesting. It doesn’t do anything for me! [Laughs]


I think that’s much more like, “oh cool, you got that,” if you’re Tony Gilroy, the writer-director, because that’s what he’s going for. With the water and what it all means. [But for me] it’s cold. It was freezing! [Laughs] That’s what I was thinking about. 

That was another thing I liked about the opening – you get your The Spy Who Came in From the Cold moment, but in your case you were literally freezing! Did that test your metal?

It tested something! That’s for sure. Whether my heart is going to be working – it tested that. 

Did you have to get all Bear Grylls?

I don’t know. Cold is cold, man. Some people do that for fun, I suppose. Crazy…Norwegians.

One of the strongest elements of the Bourne franchise is that spy is pitted against spy. And the opening scenes with Oscar Isaac were fantastic in that regard – is that something that gave you access to you the world?

Not so much the spy [world], but just sort of character stuff. That’s like a bomb under the table kind of scenarios. And Oscar Isaac is a tremendous actor. Each character, like Oscar’s character, and Rachel’s [Weisz] all very much informed me on how to dig into Aaron in a different way. Show to the audience kind of how he is and make him accessible. And that was one of [those scenes], [Aaron] was kind of wide open with Oscar’s character. 

It strikes me that each generation gets its spy, and Jason Bourne is the James Bond of our time – but what does that say about our era do you think?

What does it say? Maybe our audiences are wanting something a little bit more authentic. And realism is also a form of escapism, because it’s hyper-real. Maybe it’s that. In the land of where flying cars and superheroes...that’s fun and dandy and all, but I think audiences are very smart. Maybe that [authenticity] is what they’re craving. That’s what I’m craving. 

That’s interesting because you’ve done it all now. You’ve worked with a who’s who of directors: Kathryn Bigelow, Joss Whedon, Brad Bird, Ben Affleck, Tony Gilroy. But they all have a different and eclectic approach to the action genre – have you picked different reference points on how to create an action film?

I mean I’m not worried about being in an action film. I’m worried about creating a three dimensional character to help the director tell the story. They all work in different ways; we all have different stories to tell. So, each job is specific. Each job is its own set of problems and its own set of solutions. So it’s hard to kind of pick apart. 

I remember I first spied you in S.W.A.T – where you stole more than a few scenes from Colin Farrell. Which side of the law do you prefer to play on?

I like to walk right on that fence.

Straight down the line? To keep people guessing…

Yeah [laughs]It’s human isn’t it? I mean every hero should be flawed. It’s very Shakespearean. Every hero should be flawed and every villain should have some sort of empathy or sympathy.
It’s great that you should mention Shakespeare, because I loved the Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead approach to this film’s storyline. Was that an exciting way to be slotted into the slipstream of the Bourne franchise?
That’s been made reference to only three or four or five times maybe throughout this entire press tour. It never came across for me consciously, but yeah – that and [Daniel Keyes’ science fiction short story] The Flowers of Algernon [have been referenced].

The possible analogy is from The Hurt Locker, where war is a drug, and here you’re playing someone who seems strung out on drugs. Walking that line of addiction, is that something that’s interesting for you?

No! It’s about surviving, darling; it’s not about addiction. It’s about not degrading, not falling apart - not dying. It had nothing to do with addiction. It would have been really kind of thin for me if it was. It’s kind of cheap and inaccessible as an audience member to watch someone jones for his next pill because it’s like, “who cares?” It’s more about not dying. He’s got to stay as he was built, or he’ll die. 

That certainly makes the stakes much higher.

Yeah. The stakes are much higher. And there’s more accessibility to those stakes. That was one of the big, big things for me with this character, talking to Tony and [I] said, “look this can’t be like, weird, sort of conscious thing: I’ve just got to be smart, I’ve just got to be smart. Who cares? Who cares?! This guy has got to fight for his life.” It’s got to be about life or death. And that was really important to me. 

And speaking of life or death, I guess you never really want Edward Norton gunning against you hey?

Well there you go – yeah! No. [Laughs]

He can certainly land a line. And he’s terrifying with regards to the banality of evil I suppose. 

Yeah, or the moral conflict. There are certainly no villains or heroes in the movie I don’t think. There are a lot of shades of grey. 

It strikes me that fashioning yourself into an action star has got to mean a world of pain. Or do you get any kind of muscle memory between films?

Well it’s not even memory. It’s like ‘wow,’ it’s been back-to-back without a day off for five movies. So it’s been a constant source of preparation for the next movie each day, for two years! 

My goodness! You need a nap!

Yeah so now I’m doing nothing. 

An obligatory gushing question about your costar Rachel Weisz. Please tell me she is as smart and as awesome as she seems?

Mmmmm…phenomenal. I love her. She’s as good as it comes. She’s tremendous. 

And now next you’re playing Hansel [in Hansel & Gretel : Witch Hunters]? A complete departure?

Yeah something different. I don’t know, I haven’t seen it in a while, but I remember it being good fun. I’ve been talking about Bourne for so long. So yeah it’s a lot of fun, it’s a good sort of change from what I’ve been doing. 

Are you looking for a change up after two years of back-to-back action films?

Yeah well I’m not doing an action movie, that’s for sure! I’m looking to take a nap!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Movie Club: Bully

Turning the spotlight on school bullying
Documentary filmmaker Lee Hirsch is a man on a mission against bullying. His latest film, Bully, turns the spotlight on the horrifying realities of school bullying, estimating that 13 million children in the U.S. will be bullied this year, and showing it’s impact in some cases to be literally deadly. Following the fate of three bullied children, the staggering footage Hirsch captures is nothing short of nightmarish. There is no way you can watch this film then dismiss bullying as, ‘kids will be kids.’ And Hirsch is counting on that as he seeks to kickstart a movement.
Join me, Alice Tynan, and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Scott Ellis as we ask Hirsch about how he found himself on the vanguard of this revolution, and the power of documentary as a force of advocacy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday on My Mind: John Edwards & Imogen Banks

Hands up who's glued to the new series Puberty Blues

Right, then you simply must come along to Friday on My Mind this evening (5pm at AFTRS) to hear from its creators, John Edwards and Imogen Banks. What a treat it will be to hear what it takes to make smart, fun, must-watch TV!
Stellar television - Puberty Blues: John Edwards & Imogen Banks 
John Edwards is Australian TV royalty. With series credits including Love My WayThe Secret Life of Usand Police Rescue, his productions have racked up 19 Logies, 30 AFIs and two Golden Globe nominations. John and fellow Southern Star producer Imogen Banks, have delighted audiences with recent 'must-watch' dramas Tangle and Offspring and now the duo have (re)adapted the iconic Aussie novel Puberty Blues by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, for the small screen in the form of a TV mini-series. 
John and Imogen will share how they came to make the show, choose the cast and crew, the tricks and tropes of television writing and the retro appeal of Puberty Blues.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Possible Worlds Winner: War Witch

With the 7th Canadian Film Festival - Possible Worlds - wrapping up on Sunday night, I wanted to echo my congratulations to the winner of the inaugural jury award: War Witch. It was an honour to be part of the jury along with Eddie Cockrell and David Fedirchuk - what a treat it was to pour over the programme with such fun film minds!

Here is a snippet from the announcement:
“Equal parts haunting, bewitching and unforgettable, WAR WITCH is a courageous and important film about determination and survival set against the backdrop of the horrors of war,” said Jury leader Eddie Cockrell, adding that the Jury’s decision was unanimous.

The winning filmmaker, Kim Nguyen, receives a return trip from Canada to Sydney courtesy of Air Canada, to help strengthen their links with the Australian film industry.

Many many thanks to the marvellous Matt Ravier and his team at the Festivalists for inviting me to sink into Canadian cinema! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday on My Mind: Cryo

Calling all sci-fi fans! Come along to AFTRS Friday on My Mind this evening and see Cryo: 
Mastering the art of the short: Luke Doolan, Drew Bailey & Matthew Dabner*
After securing an Academy Award nomination for their 2009 short Miracle Fish, Blue-Tongue filmmakersLuke Doolan and Drew Bailey have returned to the short format teaming up with screenwriter Matthew Dabner (whose credits include Nash Edgerton's atmospheric neo-noir feature The Square). 

, is a parallel story to the team's upcoming feature Cargo; and has been designed to entice, yet also be more than just a trailer. In the trios eyes Cryo is a stepping stone to bigger things with the main goal being to get some runs on the board at festivals and hoepfully entice some financiers along the way forCargo.
Luke, Drew and Matthew will talk about their SFX learning curve, short filmmaking and the value of crafting a 'proof of concept' for a feature.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Movie Club: Wayne Blair on Indigenous Film

While we had Wayne Blair on The Movie Club to talk about his dazzling film The Sapphires, we also took the opportunity to chat to him about indigenous filmmaking. 

Oh yes, and Scott even busts out in some Welsh - enjoy! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

*Closed* Giveaway: Beaconsfield

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Madman, I have two copies of Beaconsfield to give away. This telemovie has been on my must watch list ever since I found out it was being directed by Glendyn Ivin, whose feature Last Ride I hold in such high esteem.

Surely all Australians know this remarkable story, but here's the synopsis:
On Anzac Day 2006, Todd Russell and Brant Webb, along with fellow miner Larry Knight, were trapped deep inside the Beaconsfield gold mine in Tasmania. Todd and Brant were enclosed nearly 1000 metres underground, caged in a space so small they could neither sit up straight nor fully lie down. It was five days before they were found to be alive. 

Most Australians know that Todd Russell and Brant Webb survived a horrifying mine collapse that killed their colleague Larry Knight. However, they don’t know much more than that. Beaconsfield tells the whole story. After the discovery that Todd and Brant had survived the mine collapse the search became a rescue mission. Working in conditions that could see another cave-in at any moment, colleagues worked tirelessly to get them out alive. 

It was an event Australia and the world watched unfolding with bated breath. As every news outlet in the country scrambled to cover the story, the frantic work of the rescuers continued. Beaconsfield recounts the story of these two very different men who were trapped together for 15 days while their wives, families and friends waited anxiously above ground, hoping and praying for good news. It tells how Matthew Gill, Pat Ball and their teams rescued Todd Russell and Brant Webb. But most of all, it is the story of how two men, who had nothing in common, kept their heads together and their hope alive for 15 days and nights. 

To win one of two DVDs simply email me (subject: Beaconsfield) with your name and address. Winners will be notified by reply. 

DVD release date: 15 August 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Movie Club: The Campaign

Comedy rocks the vote
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis playing Republican candidates pitted against each other in a lowbrow political satire. Is there really anything else you need to know for this film to get your vote? 
I didn’t think so.

The Campaign is all kinds of crude, goofy and gross-out fun as Will and Zach find themselves flanked by an all star cast, including Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow and Australia’s own Josh Lawson. Prepare for some big hair, some political hot air and yes, a baby getting punched.

Join me, host of The Sci Fi Show Oscar Hillerstrom, and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Scott Ellis as we chuckle over just how easily art imitates life when it comes to politicians…

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Movie Club: The Sapphires

Over on The Movie Club Scott Ellis and I had the great pleasure of sitting down with the director of The Sapphires, Wayne Blair.

The rollicking musical is indeed a gem (you'll hear more from me on that subject soon!), so be sure to see it shine on the big screen come August 9th!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Movie Club: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Over on The Movie Club, Giles, Jo and I try and keep straight faces as we mashup vampires and history with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

If you're keen, you can also see me discuss the film over on the Showtime Cine Guide.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

TheVine: Magic Mike

Oh boy! Oh, ab-tastic, oiled up boy! Please set your jaws to agape, its time to review the muscle-bound male revue that is Magic Mike

Yes, what a tedious task it is to behold Steven Soderbergh’s latest cinematic treat, which flexes and gyrates for your viewing pleasure. In fact the shamelessly frivolous fun proves a perfect antidote to the near-toxic Contagion(which should have been a TV series), and even gives Soderbergh’s last misfire – Haywire – a reason for being: it introduced him to Channing Tatum. For Magic Mike is drawn from Tatum’s experiences as a male stripper, so while I may – ahem - have no first-hand knowledge of male strip clubs (except for vague memories of Manpower adverts from the Jamie Durie days), I’m more than happy to take Tatum’s word for it. 

Soderbergh has spun Tatum’s experiences into a generational glimpse behind the g-stings and Velcro. The titular Tatum plays an entrepreneurial 30-year-old, who ‘dances’ and does construction as a way to finance his real dream: creating custom furniture. It’s not that Mike’s unhappy with his lifestyle: the film’s opening threesome would suggest it’s none too shabby, but he’s upwardly mobile and looking to don a suit rather than rip it off. 

While at a roofing gig, Mike meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer), thenceforth known only as The Kid, a college drop out who follows him around like a puppy, and in one rather endearing scene, even suggests they should become best friends. Mike brings The Kid along to Xquisite, whereupon the delightfully dazed, but not so confused club owner Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) helps him grind his way into stripping success. But The Kid also comes with a sister, Brooke (Cody Horn), whose blunt banter turns Mike’s head, even if her delivery is so low key you sometimes wonder if she has a pulse. 

So the plot is paper-thin, with some drugs thrown in to raise the stakes, but really, you won’t care. Because Magic Mike isn’t going for heart like The Full Monty; it’s going for titillation, with a small side of post-GFC commentary if you care to look. Chances are, though, you won’t see past the abs, and that’s just fine too.

To be sure there are rippling abs a plenty, as Magic Mike comes into its own on stage. But considering only Tatum steps up with the dancing chops, Soderbergh seems to relish in making the rest of the acts a little craptastic. The oiled ensemble (Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and Kevin Nash) relies on high-concept costuming (Tarzan, policemen, firemen, you know the drill) and slightly stilted dancing, though their groin thrusting always seems to hit the beat. So too does McConaughey, who hilariously apes his own arrest by busting out a bongo. The pièce de résistance however is McConaughey’s climatic strip, which is so transcendently spectacular that it is more than worth the price of admission alone! 

In fact McConaughey’s shirtless Dallas so thoroughly steals this film it’s hard to remember that it’s actually supposed to be Tatum’s gig. But while you may walk away with an eye-full of McConaughey, Tatum impresses in other ways. In a series of long takes between Mike and Brooke, Tatum displays an easy charm and effortless charisma that manages to thaw Horn’s relentlessly impassive performance. Tatum’s scenes with a similarly underplayed Pettyfer also show an actor at ease in his own skin, even when he’s showing an awful lot of it. So even if you don’t quite buy the emotional journey of Mike, you’ll fall for his onscreen magic.

This is a dream Friday night film. A couple of cocktails and a raucous group of friends will only add to the fun. Sure it looks sleek, and there’s some semblance of a story, but honestly all you need to do is check your brain at the door enjoy the show!

Published on TheVine
Australian release date: 26 July 2012

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