Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sponsored Video: Ted trailer


We all had our favourite toy growing up, right? Well now it's time to meet Mark Wahlberg's. Teaming up with Seth MacFarlane (that ludicrously unpc mind behind The Family Guy), Wahlberg lends his comedic stuffing to a tale about a magical, foul-mouthed teddy bear called Ted.

Mila Kunis is also perfectly cast as Wahlberg's patient girlfriend Lori - her husky brand of tomboyish charm plays well in a film that goes out if its way to cross some gross-out boundaries.

But wait, how foul-mouthed am I talking about? Well, take a look at this red band trailer (NSFW):



Ok! So this definitely isn't the kind of film you're going to take your grandma to. But it is a perfect fit for a Friday night with friends, preferably at a cinema that lets you take in beer. In fact, definitely at a beer friendly cinema. A stormy night will just be a bonus.

Australian release date: 5 July 2012
Sponsored by Universal

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Limelight Magazine: Bel Ami


Sumptuous, sensual and scandalous, Bel Ami tries oh-so-hard to make an anti-hero out of Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson. In this latest adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s 1885 novel, veteran theatre directors Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod make their feature film debuts in stylish, if emotionally lacklustre, fashion. 

“Bel Ami” is the nickname of lowly soldier Georges Duroy (Pattinson), who arrives in Paris, penniless, only to be taken under the wing of an older army buddy Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister). Put on staff at a newspaper and introduced into high society, Georges sets about boosting his status by seducing influential wives. The sweet Clotilde (Christina Ricci) and undersexed Mme Rousset (Kristin Scott Thomas) are eager diversions, but it is the intellectual firebrand Madeline (Uma Thurman) who proves the real prize. This brilliant trio of actresses light up the screen, if only they weren’t overshadowed by Pattinson’s relatively feeble performance.

Indeed, this is the perfect film to cure someone of an obsession with “RPatz”. Though he clearly relishes Georges’ Machiavellian antics, he lacks the dramatic depth to pull it off. Endless close ups don’t help, but gorgeous production design and those wonderful women rescue Bel Amiin more ways than one.


Published in the May 2012 issue of Limelight Magazine 

Monday, June 25, 2012

TheVine: Get the Gringo

Say what you want about Mel Gibson (and there’s an awful lot to be said…a lot of it awful), but props for sticking himself in a clown mask. 

That’s the first image we see of Gibson in Get the Gringo, and it works a treat: here’s art imitating the life of a crazy man (or the publicly perceived one at least). Add to that the fact Gibson is playing a chain-smoking, aggressively foul-mouthed career criminal, and the pact he’s making with his audience is clear: say what (the fuck) you want about me; I mean to entertain. 

And entertain he does, for those willing to go along for the ride. Originally calledHow I Spent My Summer Vacation – which accounts for the film’s droll, ‘Dear Mom’ narration - Get the Gringo sees Gibson as nameless, fingerprint-free grifter who winds up in a Mexican prison after his escape across the boarder goes awry, along with his bags full of recently robbed cash. Crooked Federales relieve Gibson (he’s credited as Driver, but let’s not besmirch Ryan Gosling and just stick with Gibson) of his loot and stick him a jail called El Pueblito, meaning ‘Little Town,’ though it’s better described as a Dante circle of hell – or, as Gibson suggests: “the worlds most fucked up mall.” An horrific ghetto of prisoners and their families living amongst bars and meth labs, it’s more chilling to find out this dystopia was based on an actual prison outside Tijuana. Built in 1956 as an experiment in ‘humane imprisonment’, it was closed in 2002 due to aforementioned Dante hellishness.

In any case the jail makes a cracking setting for a film. As Gibson stalks around, learning the lay of the land and plotting a jailbreak to reclaim his cash, he strikes up an oddball friendship with a 10-year-old kid, (Kevin Hernandez) who ingratiates himself by constantly trying to bum cigarettes. But the kid also proves to have keen eyes, and the inside scoop on the prison’s king pin (Peter Stormare); information that ultimately inveigles our consummate anti-hero further in the kid and his mum’s (Dolores Heredia) threatened lives. 

There’s another thing you can give Gibson props for: putting his money where his (foul) mouth is. He produced and co-wrote this screenplay that rollicks on at an energetic pace, managing to mix crime caper with spaghetti-western elements as well as lashings of Tarantino-esque nihilism. In the director’s chair is first time helmer Adrian Grunberg, who earned his stripes as Gibson’s personal assistant before stepping up to assistant director on Apocalypto. Together Grunberg and Gibson make a meal of the action sequences, the thoroughly black and terrifically non-pc humour, before simply going to town on an outlandish con job. If the tone seems to wax and wane, along with Gibson’s fun but patchy narration, it’s probably because there’s an inherent discord with throwing a mother and child in amongst all that carnage. Then again, Get the Gringo can definitely be filed under ‘Mexploitation cinema’ (remember Machete?), so the amped violence well and truly goes with the territory.

Fans of ‘action-Mel’, a la Lethal WeaponMad Max and Ransom will find this a welcome return to form. For there’s no doubting Gibson is a bona fide screen presence: those big baby blues still effortlessly draw your eye, and in action scenes he looks like a proverbial pig in muck. So if Jodie Foster’s polarising The Beavertapped into Gibson’s psychological struggles, then Get the Gringo simply embraces the crazy and turns it into some good ol’ pulpy fun. 



 Published on TheVine
Australian release date: 31 May 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

SydFilmFest Apple Store Talk: Cate Shortland & Saskia Rosendahl


Thanks to the clever cats over at the Sydney Apple Store, you can now download the Meet the Filmmaker talk I hosted with Lore writer-director Cate Shortland, and her luminous star Saskia Rosendahl.

(Quick high five to Jeremy Saunders for another brilliant piece of key art)

Click HERE to download the podcast on iTunes, and you can magically whisk yourselves back here:


**Update: A film friend just sent through this screen shot from the podcast. Shiny! 


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Movie Club: Brave


All hail Princess Merida! This free-spirited, flame-haired archer has the honour of being Pixar’s first female protagonist, and in their first period film no less. 
Brave makes stunning cinematic use of the Scottish highlands to bring us the story of a medieval teenage tantrum, as Merida and her mum lock horns over traditional marriage obligations. Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson and the ever-entertaining Billy Connolly lead a fabulous voice cast that celebrates Scottish culture, but, more importantly, the mother and daughter bond.
Join me, ‘That Movie Guy’ Marc Fennell and SMH Online Entertainment Editor Giles Hardie as we discuss the sweet simplicity of Pixar’s new fairytale – a discussion which may or may not descend into terrible Scottish accents! 


Australian release date: 21 June 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Closing Night


Congratulations to Giorgos Lanthimos and Alps for taking out the $60,000 Sydney Film Prize at last night's Sydney Film Festival Closing Night Gala.
(Insert Greek economy joke here)

Also huge high fives to the other prize winners:
FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize at Sydney Film Festival 2012 awards $10,000 to Killing Anna, directed & produced by Paul Gallasch
Dendy Award winner for Best Live Action Short @ 2012 SFF is Yardbird, directed by Michael Spiccia and produced by Jessica Mitchell

Rouben Mamoulian Award winner @ 2012 SFF, sponsored by Dendy Cinemas: Mirrah Foulkes, writer & director of Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke
Yoram Gross Animation Award @ SFF 2012: The Maker, written & directed by Christopher Kezelos, produced by Christine & Christopher Kezelos 
It was my profound pleasure to host last night's awards ceremony. Hearty thanks to the Sydney Film Festival for inviting me to take part, and then gussying me up in Carla Zampatti and Dinosaur Designs so I looked the part!


Now, who else is suffering from post-festival blues today? Let's start the countdown on the 60th Sydney Film Festival!

**Update
Here are a few official photos the festival sent me - my my the dress is white!!

On the red carpet

Full length

With fabulous Festival Director Nashen Moodley

On stage

Saturday, June 16, 2012

SydFilmFestHub: The Future of the Cinema Experience


I can't believe we've reached the second last day of the Sydney Film Festival! As per usual, the days have flown by in a ferver of films and brilliant film chats with friends new and old.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing the second screening of Neighbouring Sounds and hosting a Q&A with writer-director Kleber Mendonça Filho. Then later tonight Kleber and I will both take part in a panel discussion at the wonderful new addition to the event: The Festival Hub.

Here are the details:
Will cinemas go the way of the video store? Will our attention span shrink along with the size of screens? Will 3D, 4D or 48fps save the cinema experience? How will we engage with cinema in the future and what's at stake for? If the diversity of what's on our screens is under threat, is there an opportunity to redefine cinephilia as a form of activism or resistance? Join our panel of film buffs and practitioners as we explore the evolving ways in which we view, experience, share and discuss cinema.
Have your say on twitter too: #FCESFF.
The panel will be chaired by Radio National's Jason Di Rosso. You'll also hear from:
Alice Tynan, film critic and host of Friday On My Mind at AFTRS- Film critic and SFF Official Competition jury member Boyd Van Hoeij
- Writer, programmer and filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho (SFF Official Competition filmNeighbouring Sounds)
- Richard Sowada, Head of Film Programs at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
FREE
Saturday 16 June, 7-8.30pm
Sydney Film Festival Hub @ Lower Town Hall
483 George Street (enter on Druitt Street)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Movie Club: Take this Waltz

An Affair to Remember??

After bringing us to tears in Blue Valentine, Michelle Williams is back breaking hearts in Sarah Polley’s curious romantic drama, Take This Waltz. Williams plays Margot, a travel writer, comfortably married to preoccupied cookbook-writer, Lou (Seth Rogen). Their happy (if a little sexless) life together is all set out, until Margot has her head turned by a handsome artist living across the street (Luke Kirby).
Is the grass ever greener? Margot is destined to find out as she begins to contemplate an affair: to take a life-changing waltz.
Join me, ‘That Movie Guy’ Marc Fennell and SMH Online Entertainment Editor Giles Hardie as we debate the virtues and shortcomings of Sarah Polley’s cinematic portrait. Yes, there is some dissension in the ranks! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

*Closed* Giveaway: Le Chef

**UPDATE: This competition is now closed**

I may know next to nothing about cooking (I leave that to my favourite foodie, Tori), but I do know that I adore Jean Reno...

So, Jean Reno in a cooking film? Oui! It is as fun as you'd imagine. And thanks to the lovely folks at Icon, I have some passes to give away.
Synopsis: 
Jacky Bonnot is an aficionado of haute cuisine. He is self-taught, very talented but stubborn. Star chef Alexandre Lagarde is in serious conflict with Stanislas Matter, the new CEO of the group that owns his restaurant, ‘Cargo Lagarde’. Matter is plotting to have him lose one star in the next edition of the Guide, and therefore to replace him with a young “modern” chef who advocates a chemical, molecular cuisine which is more profitable for the food industry.
Matter begins by laying off members of Lagarde’s team, one by one. Worse yet, Lagarde has run out of ideas for future creations for his new menu which the Guide’s critics will soon be coming to taste and judge.
Alexandre is desperately looking for an assistant to help him manage the restaurant’s two daily sittings. Then one day, as luck would have it, he meets Jacky.




To win one of FIVE double passes to see LE CHEF, simply email me (subject: LE CHEF) with your name and address. Winners will be notified by reply. 

Australian release date: 14 June 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Movie Club: Prometheus


After 33 years, director Ridley Scott is returning to outer space and the Alien franchise that made an action heroine out of Sigourney Weaver (and, HR Giger’s creepy critter!). Fans have been gagging for Scott’s prequel, which he says shares the same ‘DNA’ as his Alien masterpiece – and indeed the entire film pivots on the truth behind the human double helix.  
Boasting stratospheric special effects and some seriously good scares, Prometheus is also stacked with a stellar cast, including Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and the woman destined to fill Sigourney’s jumpsuit: Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). But can Prometheus ever live up to the original (let alone the hype?) 

Join me, Rolling Stone Editor-in-Chief Matt Coyte and the host of The Sci-Fi ShowOscar Hillerstrom as we ponder the existence of prequels, the devolution of attention spans, and the cinematic DNA of Prometheus

Saturday, June 9, 2012

SydFilmFest Apple Store Talk: Cate Shortland


I'm absolutely thrilled to be hosting tomorrow's Sydney Film Festival Apple Store talk with Cate Shortland.

In preparation, I've had the most marvellous time revisiting Somersault, Cate's short films, as well as reading The Dark Room, upon which her new film Lore is based. And of course, I can't wait to attend the Australian Premiere of Lore tonight!

Here are the details, be sure to say hi if you come along:
AFI Award-winning Australian film and TV director Cate Shortland (SomersaultThe Secret Life of Us) will discuss her latest film, the World War II drama Lore, which screens in SFF's Official Competition.
FREE
Sunday 10 June, 2pm
Apple Store Sydney, 367 George Street

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday On My Mind: Craig Lahiff


I'm excited to be returning to hosting AFTRS Friday on My Mind this week. And what better way to get back into the swing of FOMM fun than sitting down and chatting about cinema and crime with Craig Lahiff?
Craig Lahiff: Power, Politics & Justice
Be it a briefcase full of cash or a groundbreaking criminal case, Craig Lahiff knows the currency of a good story. The writer/producer/director received an AFI nomination for his crime-thriller Fever in 1988, before delving into the wrong side of the law again with Russell Crowe in Heaven's Burning in 1997. With the acclaimed Black & White (2002), Craig created a powerful dramatisation of a rape & murder trial that divided a nation followed up by a documentary Politics, Power, Justice and the Media: Controversies of the Stuart Case in 2010.

Recently Craig has returned to neo-noir with his latest crime thriller, Swerve a story of money, love and revenge. Craig will share his interest and expereince in creating both drama and non-fiction stories about crime, politics and justice.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Back in the thick of it!


Greetings long lost blogosphere!

It's been a scandalous amount of time since I last posted - all thanks to a health snafu that has kept me laying low for the last few weeks. Take the pic above for proof of life...and let us give hearty thanks to Game of Thrones for staving off cabin fever!

But now I'm thrilled to declare that I'm back in the thick of it! There is so much cinematic goodness going on, so please allow me to indulge in a list:

  • The Sydney Film Festival kicks off today (huzzah!), and I shall be taking part in various Q&As (more to follow) as well as a panel at the brand new Sydney Film Festival Hub
  • I'm so happy to be back at AFTRS hosting Friday on Mind this week. 
  • I've also delighted to be filling in for new mum Melissa Wilson over on the Showtime CineGuide. For the next six months, the wonderful Jo Cohen and I will be taking turns bringing you the wrap of what's new at the cinema. 
  • This week saw me back recording The Movie Club as well, so stay tuned for more cinematic chat.
There may be a couple more exciting announcements on the horizon, but in the meantime, I'm having too much fun settling back into the cinema! Happy festival! 
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