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25 Down: Matt's Trip To The Theatre


Last Tuesday (June 16), I had a chance to see a play here at the Bille Brown Studio at West End called 25 Down.  It was produced by the Queensland Theatre Company and written by 26-year-old Richard Jordan.  His script won the Premier’s Drama Award last year.

Now let me just say that I don’t get to the theatre very often.  I wish I did though.  Given that I see 220 odd movies a year, it’s often hard to find the time.  It’s also difficult to find people to go with.  There’s a “stigma” attached to theatre which makes people think that it’s only for upper class society.  Not every thinks like that but I know plenty of people who do.

Over the past twelve months, there have been a few performances I wanted to catch.  There was Attack Of The Attacking Attackers, a sci-fi horror spoof performed at the La Boite Theatre.  There was Chicago (the musical) which showed a the Lyric Theatre and starred Catherine O’Connor.  I missed both sadly.

That was not to be the case with 25 Down.  Having read some great reviews on the internet and seeing that it boasted a young cast, I figured it was worth the effort.  I signed up a couple of friends (Jonno and Ange) and went along.  It’s actually a really nice theatre.  We got there about an hour beforehand and had a drink and a few nibbles in the foyer.  The show was a sell out with roughly 200 in the audience.  There were definitely more older people but it was good to see quite a few young faces in the crowd.

Before commenting on the play itself, I have to comment on the wonders of live theatre.  Call me naive but I have the utmost respect for what the cast and crew put themselves through.  I sent Richard Jordan a congratulatory email after the show and he said that it took two and a half years to get from the first draft to today’s production.  That’s a lot of effort and I’m sure there would have been plenty of ups and downs along the way.  So many budding writers never make it this far and yet they keep plugging away.

As for the cast, they spent months in rehearsals going through every word, every gesture, every movement.  Now I know we all have our own jobs and probably work just as hard as these actors do but I still find it impressive.  They come back night after night and perform the same show.  It’s not like a movie where you can always cut and try another take.  They put themselves out there and can’t afford to make a mistake.  Given I’m usually in a darkened theatre looking up at a big white screen, it was refreshing to see something “live”.

The play itself was really good.  It’s about a group of young people who are drifting aimlessly through life, in search of a future and in search of love.  There are some great one-on-one conversations which are both intelligent and insightful.  It gave us plenty to reflect upon when leaving the theatre and dissecting it over dinner.

I’m having difficulty summing up all of the film’s messages and emotions without oversimplifying it.  What I took away from the story is that whilst we may think we’re alone and that we have our own unique problems, this is rarely the case.  You’ll learn that pretty quickly when you meet these characters.  Having spent years doing what is necessary to fit in and “keep up appearances”, they let down their guard and reveal their insecurities.

The one sad part about seeing a play is that all that remains afterwards is a memory.  For my favourite TV shows and movies, I can always buy the DVD and watch it whenever I like.  That’s not the case with a live show.  When it all wraps up, the director, the writer and the cast all go their separate ways and move on to new projects.  This reminds me of one of all time favourite quotes – “I’m not going to tell this story the way it happened.  I’m going to tell it the way I remember it.”

As I mentioned earlier, 25 Down is currently showing at West End up until July 4.  You can find out more and buy tickets at https://www.qtix.com.au/show/25_down_09.aspx.  The cost is between $30 and $56.  Many of the sessions have been sold out in its first two weeks so you’re best to book ahead.

Now that my eyes have been opened to what wonders are on offer in the Brisbane theatre world, I’ll be making more of an effort to see a lot more in the near future.  25 Down has left a lasting impression.

What Are Those 50 Movies In The Greater Union Ad?


Cinebuzz Ad

I see a few movies at Greater Union & Birch Carroll Coyle Cinemas (because of the convenience, not the price) and I have to say that I like the advertisement campaign they’ve used in recent months with the hidden movie title advertisement.

If you haven’t seen it, the ad is roughly a minute long and is purported to include 50 movie titles.  It’s a fun distraction before the film and each time, I try to find something new.

If you have seen it, then you might be curious to know how you’ve gone.  Which ones did you get right?  Are there any that you’ve missed?

If you go to the following Youtube link - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEQNP9uZghI, you can see the add with the 50 titles revealed.  I think they’re wrong with a couple of them but it’s still good to watch.  I think I got about 30 of them without having to cheat.

Off To The Bathroom?

Here’s another interesting website which you might like to have a look at - http://www.runpee.com/.

It’s called RunPee.  As you can see on the website, it tells you the best time to go to the toilet during the movie.  They try to pick a quiet point in the middle of the movie where you won’t miss anything really funny or really important.

Now, I’m not quite sure how it works in reality.  If you check this before the movie, won’t it reveal parts of the movie?  You could check it on your phone while in the bathroom but is there really enough time?

It’s a funny site anyway.  To give you an example, the best time to skip to the bathroom during The Hangover is when “Phil calls Tracy – the fiancé – to tell her that everything is going great and they got the room comped so they are staying another night.”

The Hangover has been a big smash hit since its release and I recommend you go see it.  It’s been number 1 in the United States for two weeks in a row and it topped the Aussie box-office when released last weekend.

Operas?  Plays?

I’ve been surprised over the last year with this new trend for cinemas to show recordings of operas and plays.  The Palace Centro has been doing it for some time and their program can be viewed on their website.  There are special one-off screenings every 2 weeks or so.  I’ve heard that some screenings have been sold out in the past.

The Blue Room has also been getting into the action.  They’ve got some operas from Milan showing this weekend – roughly 2 hours, 40 minutes long with a 15 minute interval in the middle.  I guess we don’t quite get the big, grand operas here in little old Brisbane so this is our best chance to see them.  I haven’t been myself yet to one of these screenings but I may have to do so.  I’m curious to know how it all looks on the big screen and whether any of the spectacle is lost.

I’m going to see the real thing tomorrow night – a play at the Billy Brown Studio here in Brisbane called 25 Down.  I think there have been a lot of interesting plays and musicals showing in Brisbane this year (more to come to) so I’ve finally gotten off my butt and decided to see one.  It’ll be a refreshing change from the movies (I saw some shockers over the weekend – see above) but I’m sure I’ll still be in “critic” mode.

Billy Elliot Sweeps Tonys & New Website Launched!


New Website!

Well, after months of work, my new website is up and running.  You can check it out at www.thefilmpie.com.

Some important things to note are as follows:

It looks better than the old website – which was officially classed as an “eyesore”.

I’ve removed my pages on recent video releases and coming soon releases.  I don’t watch that many videos these days (since I see most movies at the cinema) so don’t have the time to update any more.

The front page contains info on all my recent posts – new full reviews, new blogs and my last 10 mini reviews.

I’ve put in some pictures (in the right column of most pages) of my favourite movies.  This should hopefully give it some colour.  My mug is on the front page only (don’t want to scare people away).

When I list films in my now showing and coming soon pages, you can click on links which will take you directly to their IMDB page for more info.

There is now a search function so that you can type in anything (film title, actor name, etc) and find out any reference in a review, blog or listing.

There’s a lot more stuff I’m hoping to introduce in the next few months include comments.  This will allow people to post their own thoughts on my reviews, mini reviews and blog postings.  I’m also going to be updating my cinema reviews.

My time is currently being occupied at the moment with bringing across all my old full reviews into the new website format.  There are just over 1,000 reviews and considering that one review takes about 2 minutes of labour time to copy, paste, format, etc, I’m looking at roughly 34 man hours.  So far, I’ve brought across every review since 2006 which is a total of 339.  Still a long way to go yet but will hopefully be done within a month or so.

If anyone has any suggestions or constructive criticisms then please let me know.  I’m trying to make it the most useful site I can without creating something that will take me forever to update each week.

Billy Elliot Sweeps Tony Awards

Anyone who knows me well can tell you my all time favourite film.  It’s Billy Elliot.  I saw it in 2000 (5 times in the cinema in fact) and it’s had a place in my heart ever since.  We all have different favourites but for whatever reason, there’s something about the plot, the acting, the music, the director that connected with me.  I’m yet to see a film which is its equal.

In 2005, I travelled to London and as part of that trip, I saw Billy Elliot The Musical with its original cast at the Victoria Palace Theatre.  You can read my thoughts at http://www.thefilmpie.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=230.  It won a bunch of Olivier Awards (the major theatre awards in the UK) including best actor in a musical and best new musical.  Its still showing in London after 4 years.

The show then came to Australia where it played in Sydney and Melbourne.  It also won awards and is still showing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne.  I haven’t had a chance to see the Australian show but would very much like to.

Then, in November 2008, Billy Elliot: The Musical opened on Broadway in New York City.  What did the tough American critics make of it…

“A non-stop runaway blockbuster of a smash.  The best show you will ever see!” – New York Post

“Out of the most electric, passionate and exhilarating shows to land on Broadway in years.” – TimeOut

“Seductive and smashing with intoxicating, fleet-footed flashes of art and big, knock-‘em-dead sequences.” – The New York Times

“A triumph!” – Time Magazine

I can now report that Billy Elliot has swept the Tony Awards (the major theatre awards in the US) with a phenomenal 10 awards.  It won best musical and best actor in a musical (shared by the 3 boys who play Billy).  The three lead actors are the youngest winners of a leading acting prize in Tony Award history.

There’s something about this story that has captivated not just me.  I think it’ll be showing on Broadway for many years to come.

I also need to congratulate Australian Geoffrey Rush on winning his first Tony Award for his performances in Exit The King.  Rush now becomes only the 17th person to win an Oscar (the top award in film), an Emmy (the top award in television) and a Tony (the top award in theatre).  Well done Geoffrey!

Blockbuster Box-Office Update & Early BIFF News


My website is still in development.  Sorry about that.  Will hopefully be one more week.  My current website has been light on for updates in the meantime but keep the faith… it won’t be long now.

Brisbane International Film Festival

Word is trickling through about the 2009 Brisbane International Film Festival.  It will be held this year between 30 July and 9 August.

The opening night film will be An Education.  As per the Internet Movie Database, it’s “A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.”  It has been written directly for the screen by Nick Hornby – the author of Fever Pitch, About A Boy and High Fidelity.  The film was extremely well received at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award.  It stars Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike and Olivia Williams.  23-year-old Mulligan will be in Brisbane for Opening Night and should be a major drawcard.  Her biggest role to date was as Kitty Bennet is 2005’s Pride and Prejudice.

Also at the Festival will be Amitabh Bachchan, a legendary Indian actor and producer.  He also hosted India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

The Festival will be officially launched in July and I’ll be sure to fill you in on more details as they come to hand.

Box Office Numbers

The U.S. summer blockbuster season is now well underway and I thought I’d provide a quick wrap of the hits and misses so far.

Star Trek has been the big hit so far and deservedly so.  It’s pulled in over $209m at the box-office and is still in the top 5 after four weeks of release.  A sensational effort considering the last Star Trek film made just $43m.

I know I wasn’t a big fan of it but X-Men Origins: Wolverine has also been solid with $170m over 5 weeks.  I guess the leaking of the film on the internet didn’t hurt business too much.  You’d have to think a sequel is in the pipeline.

On the flip side, Angels And Demons has been somewhat of a disappointment.  It’s only made $105m through its first 3 weeks.  The Da Vinci Code had made $171m over the same period two years ago.  I wonder why people were turned off?

Terminator: Salvation has also struggled to build momentum.  It debuted at number 2 last week behind Night At The Museum 2 and suffered a heavy drop off this week to notch just $90m in its first 10 days.  Terminator 3 (released in 2003) made $20m more in that timeframe.  I guess this series hasn’t quite gotten the “reboot” that Star Trek did.

The big hit over the weekend in the States was the Disney animated film, Up, which is also showing in 3D in certain cinemas.  It’s not released in Australia until September but will be getting plenty of buzz after opening with $68m in the U.S.