Matt's Blog

Blog

Aussie Cinema: The Good News & The Bad News


Spanish Film Festival

 

We seemingly have a film festival on each month in Brisbane and so… brace yourself for the 2009 Spanish Film Festival. The festival runs from May 21 to 31 at the Palace Centro Cinemas in New Farm.

 

There are 18 different films being screened. Some are new and some are classics which you may not have had the chance to see before. There’s a special spotlight on actor Javier Camara. You can see him in his new film, Chef’s Special, which one the audience award at the Malaga Spanish Film Festival, and you can see him in Talk To Her, a great drama from director Pedro Almodovar which won the Oscar for best original screenplay in 2002.

 

You can find out more by clicking here: http://www.spanishfilmfestival.com/brisbane/. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13.50 for students. Muchas gracias!

 

Aussie Cinema – The Good News

 

I spoke about it in last week’s issue and having seen it over the weekend, I can report that Samson & Delilah is a fantastic Australian film. The public seem to agree. The film made just under $200,000 over the weekend in Australia which is a strong considering (a) it was showing in just 12 cinemas and (b) it is an Aboriginal love story with little dialogue – not exactly a marketers dream. Hopefully the word of mouth continues to spread.

 

Aussie Cinema – The Bad News

 

I saw a cheap Aussie horror flick on Saturday night at the Palace Barracks starring Natalie Bassingthwaighte. I don’t think I’ve seen such bad acting in a film. Given I was the only person sitting in the cinema. I don’t think it’ll around for much longer. To make matters worse, the screening was 15 minutes late and when I paid for my parking with a $50 note, the machine gave me my change in $2 coins. It was like a poker machine. I can’t see how showing rubbish films like these will be profitable for cinemas.

 

Star Trek

 

Star Trek was a huge hit at the U.S. box office over the weekend with a nice $72m total. The previous biggest opening by a Star Trek movie was First Contact in 1996 with $30m (or about $50m in today’s dollars). It justifies the decision to “reboot” this series and most critics have been giving it the thumbs up. I’m in that camp and if you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you do so.

 

See you next week.

An Iconic Aussie Film?

 

Samson & Delilah

 

Everyone seems to be going ga-ga over the new Australian film Samson & Delilah. Last week on At The Movies, both Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton gave it 5 stars each. That’s the first time they’ve done that since No Country For Old Men (almost 18 months ago). Des Partridge of The Courier Mail has also been raving and has seen the film three times already.

Further, the film has been selected in the Un Certain Regard competition at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. This is a very prestigious honour.

 

So is the film any good? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you yet. I went along to Dendy Portside on Sunday afternoon to check out an advance screening but it was sold out. How about that? When was the last time you saw an Australian film playing in sold out sessions?

 

Hopefully the buzz propels the film to success at our local box office. I’ll provide my specific thoughts in next week’s issue.

 

I’ve also had a chance to see My Year Without Sex, a new Aussie film from the director of Look Both Ways (one of my top 10 films of 2005). It’s out on May 28 and definitely worth a look. It would seem that 2009 is going to be a memorable one for Australian cinema. Well overdue.

 

A Suspenseful Ending?

 

I love a good thriller but I had a rather interesting experience last Thursday night which takes the term “suspenseful ending” to a new high. I was at a preview screening for State Of Play, the new political thriller starring Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren, Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams which is released on May 28.

 

We were about three quarters into the film when sound problems developed with the reel. These couldn’t be fixed and so we had to stop the screening.

 

I enjoyed the film a great deal leading up to this point but I was left hanging… without an ending. Who was behind the conspiracy being investigated in the film?

 

I’m rather amused by the breakdown because it’s like a soap opera that leaves you waiting for the next episode. I have my hunches but will have to see the next part to find out. I’m off to see the film again on Wednesday and fingers crossed that we make it to the finale.

 

To all a good night.

Cannes Line-Up & A Controversial Outrage

 

It’s a late one tonight. I saw two movies today – X-Men Origins: Wolverine (thumbs down - review attached in separate email) and Star Trek (thumbs up - review to follow next week). The season of summer blockbusters is underway.

 

Thanks to everyone and their positive feedback on the new newsletter format and the mini reviews. I’m currently in the process of giving my website a much overdue facelift. I’m not the most gifted human being when it comes to website design but hopefully I’ll be able to conjure up something that is both informative and has sex appeal.

 

The Cannes Film Festival line up was announced last week and as I highlighted two weeks ago, there are some big name directors who will be unveiling their latest films. In competition, there are new flicks from Alejandro Amenabar (The Others), Lars von Trier (Breaking The Waves), Jane Campion (The Piano), Pedro Almodovar (Talk To Her), Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Ken Loach (The Wind That Shakes The Barley), Isabel Coixet (Elegy), Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) and Michael Haneke (Hidden).

 

All I can say is wow! I’d love be on the jury this year, that’s for sure. We’ll hopefully see most of these new films released in Australia later in 2009. It gives me hope with what has been a so-so year to date.

 

I’d also like to mention a film which has caught my attention, and plenty of others it would seem in the United States. The film is called Outrage and it screened a couple of nights ago at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. What makes it so controversial is that the film publically “outs” gay politicians in the U.S. who have voted against anti-gay legislation. This has always been a taboo subject matter but director Kirby Dick has drawn a line and decided to cross it, for better or worse. His motivation is to bring the issue of gay rights into the limelight and expose those who have tried to suppress it. Is he doing the right thing? I don’t know the answer to that but I look forward to seeing this film down the line. You can view the trailer by clicking here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgESXQccWi8.

 

See you next week.

Previewing The 2009 German Film Festival

 

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend. It was a wet one here in Brisbane and I’m guessing that cinema ticket sales would have been up as a result.

For those who didn’t get a chance to catch my special ABC radio show last Thursday, you can download it by clicking here. It wasn’t a bad offering this year… with the exception of Dragonball Evolution.

 

Facebook & Twitter

 

Thanks to everyone who signed up to my Facebook and Twitter sites. I’ve got over 100 members combined to date. Remember to spread the word amongst your friends. Within Facebook, there’s an option which allows you to recommend the site to friends. Thanks again!

 

German Film Festival

 

The 2009 German Film Festival kicks off next Wednesday (Apr 22) with a screening of The Baader Meinhof Complex. I haven’t had a chance to see this film yet but it’s had great reviews… including an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film.

 

The Festival runs for a week (Apr 22 to Apr 28) and more than 20 German films will be screened. It all takes place at the Palace Centro Cinemas at New Farm.

 

Tickets for most films are $15 per person (or $13.50 for Palace Movie Club members). The opening night screening is the main exception - $35 per person and this includes an after party. If you’re really keen, you can pick up a 5 film pass for $67.50.

 

You can find out more by visiting the special website at http://www.goethe.de/Ins/au/lp/prj/ff08/enindex.htm.

 

To help wet your appetite, here’s some info a few of the films that have tweaked my interest. I’ve included an extract of the plot overview as per the Festival website.

 

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (Wed, Apr 22 at 7pm)

This sweeping drama chronicles the fear and terror campaign waged by extreme leftist group the Baader Meinhof Gang (a.k.a. Red Army Faction) in West Germany in the ‘70s. Meticulously researched and powerfully directed, this real-life thriller is a compelling history lesson built around chilling portraits of Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu), Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) and Baader’s hardline girlfriend Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek). Reportedly the most expensive German film ever made, it’s a not-to-be-missed festival highlight.

 

Palermo Shooting (Thu, Apr 23 at 8:45pm)

Director Wim Wenders spins a psychological thriller around Finn (Campino), a successful fashion photographer whose globe-trotting life suddenly spins out of control. Haunted by nightmares involving his dead mother and a mysterious cloaked figure (Dennis Hopper), Finn leaves Düsseldorf for Palermo, where he undertakes a redemptive photo shoot with real-life actress Milla Jovovich. Set to a soundtrack by regular Wenders collaborators including Nick Cave and Lou Reed, “Palermo Shooting” is an intriguing puzzle-box about life, death and the captured image.

 

Happy New Year (Fri, Apr 24 at 9:00pm)

In Christoph Schaub’s panoramic drama we meet a large cross-section of Zurich inhabitants on New Year’s Eve. Our tour guide is Kaspar (Nils Althaus) a taxi driver with a chequered romantic past whose passenger, Gloria (Denise Virieux), has been abandoned by her husband. As Kaspar’s cab passes through the chilly night, Schaub’s camera detours into the lives of police officers working the late shift, a retired couple, a babysitter problem and a lost dog searching for its owners. As the strands are drawn together, an illuminating picture emerges of that one night in the year where the urge to celebrate is locked in battle with the need to reflect and re-evaluate.

 

Trade (Sun, Apr 26 at 3:15pm)

Trade is a road thriller set in the sordid world of sex-trafficking. In Mexico, 17-year-old Jorge (Cesar Ramos) witnesses his 13-year-old sister Adriana (Paulina Gaitan) being kidnapped by a highly-organized criminal gang. Pursuing her captors into the US, Jorge forms an uneasy alliance with Ray Sheridan (Kevin Kline), a Texas Ranger attempting to find his missing daughter. With Adriana about to be auctioned on an Internet site, Jorge and Ray face a desperate race against the clock to save her.

 

Summer Storm (Sun, Apr 26 at 9:00pm)

Summer Storm charts an eventful summer in the lives of teenage best friends Tobi (starring Festivalguest Robert Stadlober) and Achim (Kostja Ullmann). As cox and oarsman, they have helped their rowing team win several cups and are now looking forward to a big regatta in the countryside. But this trip is different. Achim has become close to Sandra (Miriam Morgenstern), forcing Tobi to realize that his feelings for Achim run deeper than he’s willing to admit to himself. Poignant and gently humorous, Summer Storm captures the confusion and courage of a young man on the cusp of adulthood.

 

I’ll hopefully see you there.

 

Cannes Film Festival

 

The Cannes Film Festival, regarded as the most prestigious film festival going around, kicks off on May 13. For those that don’t know, Cannes is a coastal city in southern France. Every year, it plays host to this festival and with it comes a wave of celebrities and media attention.

 

The new Disney Pixar film, Up, will open the Festival and become the first animated film to do so. The full program will be released next week but rumoured to be making their premiere include films from Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar, Steven Soderbergh, Lars Von Trier, Ang Lee, Michael Moore, Michael Haneke, Jane Campion, Todd Solondz, Neil Jordan, Jim Jarmusch and Woody Allen. I’m sure some of these are just “rumours” but even if only half of these flicks are ready, it should be a cracker of a festival.

 

See you next week.