Matt's Blog


2010 Cannes Film Festival: Wishing I Was There


High on my bucket list is attending a major international film festival.  The dream list includes Cannes, Toronto, Venice and Berlin.  While I wait here in Brisbane for the opportunity to present itself, some of my favourite critics and bloggers are currently in Cannes covering the most famous film festival of all.


It must be incredibly hectic for critics in Cannes right now.  There’d be a zillion of them trying to get one-on-one interviews with the stars.  They’d be battling hard with each star’s publicists.  There’s also differing credentials which can limit what films and parties you get into.  I’m sure Roger Ebert can see whatever he wants but I don’t know if I’d have the same luxuries.


On top of all the interviews and PR functions, the critics have to find time to see plenty of movies too.  You see a movie, you blog or write some notes, then you go see another one.  It’s an endless loop that keeps repeating until you get sick or burned out.


There are only 20 or so films in the main competition (for the Palm D’or) but there are heaps of other films being premiered (both short and long films) in other competitions.  That’s part of the appeal of these festivals – you get to be the first to see these films and then go forth and spread the word.  Many films have come out of Cannes with huge buzz and go on to bigger and better things.


So whilst I’m not in Cannes, I have been keeping up to date with things through some of my favourite columnists.  In this week’s blog, I thought I’d share a few of their thoughts since they pertain to films that may be released later this year in Australia.


If you want to have a look at the ups and downs of being a first timer in Cannes, check out Sacha Stone’s daily blog (with photos) at


Will it be as good as the original? – Wall Street 2


Owen Gleiberman – “Stone has conceived the movie as an inventory of our current crisis, and on that level it seizes and holds you. As fiction, however, it’s competing, in an odd way, with the very events from which it takes off. For sheer dramatic impact, Money Never Sleeps can certainly hold a candle up to reality, but it can’t top it.” – Read more here.


Jeffrey Wells – “An intelligent, briskly paced, rat-a-tat financial tale that moves along nicely for the first 75% to 80% of its running time -- not brilliantly but sufficiently, offering a more-or-less decent ride. And then it blows itself up during the last 25 minutes or so.  Or so it seemed to me. Some have told me they disagree, but I know (or think I know) when a film is gutting itself emotionally.” – Read more here.


Anne Thompson – “The script by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff bears the earmarks of a sequel: bring back some old, bring in some new, and try to keep the whole thing timely and commercial.” – Read more here.


Woody Allen’s new movie – You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger


Owen Gliberman – “The atrociously titled You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is one of Woody Allen’s “fables” — which could almost be code, at this point, for the flavorless, dry-cookie thing that results when he writes and directs a comedy on autopilot. The film is notable, if that’s the word, for being the first movie Allen has made in London that is every bit as bad as his most awful New York comedies, like Anything Elseand Melinda and Melinda.” – Read more here.


Jeffrey Wells – “Set in London, it's a mildly amusing, somewhat chilly film with no piercing performances or dramatic highlights even, as if everything and everyone is on a regulator of some kind. And yet the undertone has a steady and persistent misanthropic flavour. And it leaves you with a kind of "uh-huh, okay" feeling at the end. It's not a bust -- there's food for thought and reflection -- but it's not my idea of enlivening material.” – Read more here.


I love Mike Leigh and it looks like he’s done it again – Another Year


Sacha Stone – “By the end of all of this madness, the standout film may remain Another Year.  It is Mike Leigh at his absolute best.  It is surely less irritating than Leigh’s recent films have been.  It is up there with his best female-driven films, like Secrets and Lies and Vera Drake.  How is it that Leigh can be so good and go so deep with these actors as he manages to do?  It is one of the great mysteries.” – Read more here.


A look at the global financial crisis – Inside Job


Jeffrey Wells – “A highly absorbing, meticulously composed hammer doc about the causes of the '08 financial meltdown. Most of us have some kind of understanding of the whys and wherefores, but Ferguson lays it all out like a first-class table setting and makes this titanic crime seem extra vivid.” – Read more here.


Owen Gliberman – “Years from now, if you want to know how the American (and global) economic crisis really happened, if you want to grasp the ins and outs of its peculiar hybrid of greed and cluelessness and corporate treachery and political enabling, then Inside Job, the new documentary written and directed by Charles Ferguson, will stand as a definitive investigative primer on the disaster.” – Read more here.


An appropriate title? – Shit Year


Jeffrey Wells – “The first couple of walk-outs happened about 15 minutes in. People weren't soon walking out in droves, but they did continue body by body. Some, I noticed, decided to take naps. Myself among them, to be perfectly frank. When I woke up I noticed that Roger Friedman, who'd been sitting across the aisle, had left. So had several others. So I stuck it out for another 15 or 20 minutes, and then I slipped out myself.” – Read more here.


Regent Cinema To Go Out With A Classic Bang


It’s another long weekend in Brisbane which is great so let’s get right to it.


I Love You Too: A Red Carpet Experience


Last Friday night, I had a chance to attend the Brisbane premiere of I Love You Too.  In attendance were stars Brendan Cowell, Yvonne Strahovski and Peter Helliar.


You can view some photos from the night by clicking here


I had a chance to speak to the stars for a few minutes on the red carpet and you can hear the interviews by downloading here.


It’s tricky doing red carpet stuff.  I hate to ask the same questions that everyone else will ask but at the same time, there’s only so many different types of questions you can ask (if that makes sense).  Ah well.  I bumbled my way through it and thankfully, the stars came up with some nice answers.  Peter Helliar’s response to my film critic question left me a little unconvinced.  I’d love to put the question to some other stars down the track.


The Tribal Theatre Experience: Follow Up


In last week’s blog (see here) I wrote about an interesting experience I had at the reopened Tribal Theatre on George Street in the city.


Over the weekend, I received a response from a representative of the Tribal Theatre regarding my comments.  She agreed with my comments on cinema etiquette but noted “Last Friday night was a busy night for us, and certainly not one we are used to at the cinema, so I hope that you choose not to use this as your one example of an independent cinema struggling to find its feet within Brisbane.


She also noted that it’s probably likely that future classic horror screenings are likely to attract an audience that finds it funny in inappropriate places.  However, there are still plenty of regular “quiet screenings”.


Yes, she’s right.  I don’t think I’ll be seeing any more classic horror movies at the Tribal but I’m more than happy to see other films there.  This week’s movies include Amelie and Crazy Heart which are both worth seeing if you haven’t already.


Professor Matt Toomey


Last Tuesday, I had the chance to give a lecture to some journalism students at QUT on film criticism.  I have to admit being a little bit nervous.  I didn’t know how easy it would be to speak in front of a large group for 50 minutes straight.


It turned out to be a blast.  I’d prepared a few notes but things seemed to roll along perfectly.  I had a great audience who asked plenty of questions and it was loads of fun.


I’m doing the same thing this Friday at UQ (a little closer to home) with some post graduate students.  It’ll be interesting to see if the questions differ given that they’re further advanced with their studies.


Regent Cinemas To Go Out With A Classic Bang


As you’d probably now be aware, the Regent Cinema will close its doors in early June.  As if that’s not bad enough, I’ll be away in London for its final week and won’t get to participate in the farewell activities.


It’s been announced during the week that the cinema will finish with a bunch of classic screenings between May 29 and June 5.  They’re showing one great film for each decade that the cinema has been opened.  They are…


1930s – A Night At The Opera – Sat, May 29

1940s – Casablanca – Sun, May 30

1950s – The African Queen – Mon, May 31

1960s – West Side Story – Tue, Jun 1

1970s – Manhattan – Wed, Jun 2

1980s – ET – Thu, Jun 3

1990s – Titanic – Fri, Jun 4

2000s – The Return Of The King – Sat, Jun 5


Now let me just say that if I was in Brisbane, I would be at every one of those screenings.  What an AMAZING list of films.  I urge as many Film Pie fans to check these out.


You can book online at or from the box-office itself.  


I’ll be doing my own tribute piece on the Regent in three weeks.

The Tribal Theatre: Death Of Cinema Etiquette?


2010 Audi Festival Of German Films


The German Film Festival kicks off at the Palace Centro Cinema on Wednesday and runs for a week.  There are 20 films on offer and judging from my own experiences with German cinema, there should be plenty of great stuff on offer.


Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon is sure to be popular given that it won the Palm D’or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and earned an Academy Award nomination for best foreign language film.  It’s released nation-wide on May 6 so more discerning filmgoers might give it a miss and see it in general release.


I’ve been very busy over the last week and haven’t spent too much time going through the program.  You can view it by clicking here.  Tickets are $16 for most sessions and I’m hoping to get along to at least a couple of films.


The Tribal Theatre: Death Of Cinema Etiquette?


Last Friday night, I went along to The Tribal Theatre on George Street to check out a screening of the 1968 horror classic, Night Of The Living Dead.  I never ever thought I’d set foot in that cinema again.  Not because I didn’t like it but because it closed its doors in November 2008.  It was formerly known as the Dendy and I did a tribute piece which you can read here.


It was recently reopened and is screening a mix of both current and classic releases.


The session I attend was fairly full with a pretty young audience.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a poor display of cinema etiquette.  The audience laughed throughout much of the film.  Three different patrons took it upon themselves to yell out silly jokes throughout (which even my dad would find lame).


There was one scene in the film where an hysterical woman is slapped by another man.  This scene received a very loud round of applause including many cries of “yeah” and “wooooooo”.


I was tempted to walk out because it certainly ruined the film-going experience.  I go to the movies to see a movie.  Not to listen to the commentary of someone who’s specialty subject is the bleeding obvious.  Not to put up with loud, unruly people.


If this is the sort of demographic that the reopened Tribal is going to attract, then I know I won’t be seeing too many more movies there.  I’d rather go to Myer Centre (and that’s saying something).


I debated this (heatedly) with two friends after the screening and here are some of the things we discussed…


Were people laughing because times have changed and we’re now desensitised to this kind of horror?  Perhaps.  The film was given an R rating back in 1968 and I assure you that it wouldn’t be given the same rating today.  It’s much tamer (in terms of blood and gore) compared with horror films I’ve seen in recent years.


That said, it’s disappointing that the audience were so disrespectful.  I thought it was an excellent movie.  It’s hard to believe that a film released over 40 years ago had the guts to (1) feature an African American as the hero, (2) include a twist ending that might leave audiences unsatisfied.  It’s not as violent as one of today’s horror films but I found it just as suspenseful.  The fact that it’s in black and white makes it even scarier.


Maybe people go to these sorts of films to have a laugh?  The audience was young and many would not have an appreciation for this classic.  I can only assume that’s why they were going.  Why else would you pay money to see a horror film which you think is laughable?  Why didn’t they all walk out?  Did they see this as some sort of funny Ed Wood type experience (not that they’d know who Ed Wood was)?


I have to say that as much as I hated the audience, it was an “experience”.  It has fired me up enough to warrant this blog.  It’s given me much food for thought regarding cinema etiquette.


It’s true that cinemas in Brisbane have their own demographics.  I much prefer going to the Palace or Dendy cinemas rather than the Event cinemas.  Sure they’re cheaper but you usually attract a quieter, more respectful audience.  I hope I don’t sound “snooty” but I’m just voicing my opinion.  You’re less likely to find someone (1) speaking loudly to the friend sitting next to them, (2) texting on their phone which has a blaring bright display panel, and (3) kicking their feet into the back of my seat.


The bottom line is that I’m taking a “to each their own” stance on this.  If the Tribal keeps playing to sold out sessions on a Friday night, good on them.  There must be an audience for the films and experience they offer and it’s always nice to see a cinema in Brisbane doing well.  You won’t find me there though.

Box-Office Trivia Challenge: Movie Star Edition


The American summer blockbuster season is upon us and Iron Man 2 will kick things off on April 29.  Over the next few months, we can also expect to see Robin Hood, Prince Of Persia, Sex & The City 2, The A-Team, Shrek Forever After, Toy Story 3, Twilight: Eclipse, Knight & Day and Inception.  That’s just a taste of what will be on offer.


On that note, it’s inspired me to do another box-office trivia game for those after some brain activity.


I’ve done two before which you can try yourself by clicking here (for the one from 2007) and here (for the one from 2005).


There are 10 questions in all and you can check your answers by scrolling to the very bottom.  This year’s questions have a link to famous actors.  All the facts and figures are for the United States only by the way.  Have fun!


1. Which Australian actor appeared in 5 films between 2001 and 2009 which grossed more than $300m at the box-office?

(a) Cate Blanchett

(b) Russell Crowe

(c) Hugo Weaving

(d) Hugh Jackman


2. Tom Hanks has won 2 Oscars but what is his highest grossing movie?

(a) Forrest Gump

(b) Toy Story 2

(c) Saving Private Ryan

(d) The Da Vinci Code


3. Will Smith is one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors.  Since 2002, he has made 9 movies.  All but one grossed more than $100m.  Which one did not?

(a) The Pursuit Of Happyness

(b) I, Robot

(c) Seven Pounds

(d) Men In Black 2


4. Will Ferrell has been churning out comedies for more than 10 years (some good, some bad).  Which of the following made the most at the box-office?

(a) Blades Of Glory

(b) Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgandy

(c) Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

(d) Elf


5. Which star of Charlie’s Angels (I speak of the 2000 remake) has appeared in the most hit films (grossing more than $100m each)?

(a) Drew Barrymore

(b) Lucy Liu

(c) Cameron Diaz

(d) Bill Murray


6. What is the highest grossing Tom Cruise movie?

(a) Top Gun

(b) War Of The Worlds

(c) Mission: Impossible 2

(d) Rain Man


7. Which Kate has starred in the most films that have grossed over $100m?

(a) Kate Bosworth

(b) Kate Winslet

(c) Kate Hudson

(d) Kate Beckinsale


8. Meryl Streep has a million times for every major film award but what is her highest grossing movie?

(a) Mamma Mia!

(b) The Devil Wears Prada

(c) Death Becomes Her

(d) Out Of Africa


9. Which one of these Ocean’s 11 stars has produced the total cumulative box-office from his films?

(a) George Clooney

(b) Brad Pitt

(c) Matt Damon

(d) Andy Garcia


10. Titanic made $600m at the box-office in 1997.  Which of its supporting stars didn’t capitalise on its success and hasn’t featured in a movie since that has grossed more than $3m?

(a) Billy Zane

(b) Bill Paxton

(c) Gloria Stuart

(d) Frances Fisher


Answers down below…












































1. (c) – Always the underrated villain, Weaving provided voices in the two Transformers movies and featured in the three Lord Of The Rings movies.

2. (a) – Forrest Gump made $329m back in 1994.  Impressive even by today’s standards.

3. (c) – Because it was rubbish, Seven Pounds made just $69m.

4. (d) – Elf took in $173m which was must more than it deserved.

5. (c) – Ms Diaz has 9 in total. The three Shrek movies, the two Charlie’s Angels movies, Vanilla Sky, There’s Something About Mary, My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Mask.

6. (b) – War Of The Worlds made $234m in 2005.

7. (d) – I can’t believe it either. Beckinsale was in Click, Van Helsing, The Aviator and Pearl Harbor.

8. (a) – Mamma Mia! was a huge hit in the United States with $144m and did even better overseas.

9. (c) – Matt Damon is the youngest but leads with $2.24 billion. Brad Pitt next best with $1.94 billion.

10. (a) – Poor Billy. His best effort was BloodRayne in 2006 which made $2.4m.