As a Beatles fan I am still waiting for the definitive Beatles biopic. There have been several films which individually chronicle different eras throughout the band's time but there's never been a comprehensive A-Z of the Fab Four (other than the anthology collection). Nowhere Boy tells of John Lennon's adolescent years before he discovered rock & roll to forming the Quarrymen and meeting McCartney & Harrison. The film focus's on John's relationship with his mother and aunt which was complex, tumultuous and influential. From the history I have read these relationships are not portrayed as accurately as they could have been, but overall it's a decent drama. The performances are solid and the movie bares with it a heavy forecast... knowing the significance of it all made it all the more compelling. The film concludes as the band travel to Hamburg and (as they say) the rest is history... it makes sense to finish on that note but the Beatle-fan in me wanted to keep following them.
Luc Besson concludes his Arthur trilogy with The War Of Two Worlds. Picking up at the conclusion of part 2 this final movie has the evil M roaming the human world (at a human size) and unleashes an army of giant mosquitos in an attack to overtake mankind. I LOVED the first movie and while I enjoyed the second, I found it overall disappointing. Fortunately the third one lifts its game ever so slightly and is more enjoyable. What struck me the most was how incredible the CGI was in blending M with the real world. It really is amazing. Unfortunately, as was the case with the previous movie Lou Reed's voice over work is really poor. No charisma, really droll and very boring... he is NO equal to David Bowie's M in the first movie. Pretty fun stuff nevertheless and kids will lap it up.
Beneath Hill 60 is a great film that carries on the ANZAC legacy in much the same way which Gallipoli does. Gallipoli is arguably the greatest Aussie war film ever made and were it not for a few minor flaws, Beneath Hill 60 comes mighty close to equalling it. Aficionados relax... Gallipoli still carries the torch.... The problems I had with this film were a few scenes in which ADR was laid down sloppily. I watched the movie with some quality ear phones so I am wondering if I noticed them more than I would have ordinarily. And the other problem was the character development; there wasn't enough of it. Where Gallipoli focused on the camaraderie between soldiers, this movie couldnt seem to find a way of doing that. However besides these two things, Beneath Hill 60 is a remarkable film that should proudly be considered a companion piece to Gallipoli. I regret making comparisons between the films but its hard to avoid. Amazing performances, magnificent photography, awesome set design and wonderful direction from Jeremy Sims. You may remember his bare arse on the tv show Chances, but this is his second feature as director following 'Last Train To Freo' and I really think there's some big things ahead for him.
I'm a massive fan of the classic 1939 version of The Wizard Of Oz starring Judy Garland... in fact the kids learned yesterday that I can practically quote it word for word. BUT I am much more so a devotee of L Frank Baum's original OZ books and the classic musical movie is really just a pale reflection of Baum's vision. Return To Oz, however, portrays the story more faithfully. Its a dark and sombre story which has Dorothy returning to Oz to find that its Queen Osma has been overruled by the evil Gnome King. The Emerald city has been destroyed and it's people turned to stone. It was because of this darker tone that Return To Oz failed to perform during its theatrical release. People couldn't shake the 1939 movie from their minds and weren't able to connect with this take on the story... little did they realise it was much closer to the text. Fortunately RTO has picked up a cult following over the years and is received more favourably nowadays. If you've never seen it, do check it out. There's a few new OZ films in production at the moment and fingers crossed they are also true to the source material.
The 70s and 80s spawned some incredible horror franchises (Elm St, Friday 13th, Evil Dead etc) and unfortunately the Phantasm series never really got the credit it deserved, certainly not in Australia where the first film's name was changed to The Never Dead and the sequels were only released limitedly. If you're a genre fan than I really recommend you track these down if you haven't already seem them. They're really unique films which combine horror, sci-fi & fantasy with an unsettling surrealism.
The series signature villain is The Tall Man played by Angus Scrimm. At first mysterious he plays a funeral director who is up to no good with the corpses and as the story plays out we learn that he is not of our earth and is sending the bodies into another dimension where they are turned into dwarf minions who carry out his diabolical scheme. I know it sounds weird and it is weird.... but it works so well. The imagery is freaky and the overall sense of dread really drives the movies along. All four of the Phantasm movies are great and a 5th has been in and out of development for some time now. Sadly NONE of these movies have been released in Australia on DVD and so if you're keen to see them, you'll have to import or download (legally I would hope) to get them. So fucking worth it though!!
Cult movies don't come more culty than Pink Flamingos. Infamously considered to be the most vile and repulsive movie ever made, it has become a staple stayer on the midnight movie circuit. This is the movie that launched John Waters (of Hairspray fame) career and introduced Divine to a wider audience. So repugnant is Pink Flamingos that upon it's release no footage was deemed suitable for it's trailer and so the promo featured audience reactions instead... thus generating hordes of public lining blocks to see it. Once seen, Pink Flamingos cannot be unseen. It tells the story of two families vying for the title as "filthiest people alive" and it chronicles a series of events which see these people outdoing each other. What ensues will leave your jaw planted on the floor, even 40 years later. Bestiality, incest, baby farms, transgender perverts and most infamously.... the consumption of dog shit (for real). Have your mates over for some drinks... keep your vomit bags handy and enjoy an experience you will never forget. I don't know why I love this movie so much... I guess I'll never know.
Lesbian Vampire Killers is another British comedy that leapt onto the Shaun Of The Dead bandwagon. I watched it back-to-back with Doghouse which is another similar movie. Doghouse was much better. I did enjoy this movie too though. It stars Matthew Horne and James Corden from 'Gavin & Stacey' and the movie is worth it alone for Corden's performance. He delivers some pearler lines and is very funny to watch. The movie itself is presented in a very classic way. It conjures memories of some of the classic Universal monster movies as well as a lot of Evil Dead references. With tits galore its a fun movie to watch with beer, mates & pizza.
I have trouble watching a lot of micro-budget movies. In most cases their shoestring budget is over compensated with excessively animated performances and hand-held camera work that creates a far cheaper look than was intended. I just finished watching City Of Vendettas and it does the complete opposite. The two most important things here are script and performance. Josh Whittall has written a smart and sassy little crime flick that follows the investigation of 5 murders, one of which involves a cop. The detective in charge of the investigation has various demons to deal with and his newly appointed partner has a vested interest in one of the murders. All of the actors are really good and deliver their noirish dialogue convincingly. Whittall has shot this little movie respectfully. While a lot of the camera work is hand held, its kept still and most of the shots are framed as though it was a big budget production. The violence is impressive and the make-up and special fx are brilliant for a micro-budget venture. The movie's opening sequence is great and the movie on a whole is sharp and snappy. No shot lingers here. However, two criticisms I have about City Of Vendettas are that, firstly, some of the night scenes are grainy and lessen the overall lacquered look of it and, secondly, it's running time is too long at just over 100 mins (I don't think micro-budget movies can afford to go over 80 minutes if they want to keep their audience seated). But those are small qualms. This is how micro-movies are made!!!
Its Halloween and a nerdy loner finds an invitiation on the street to a random "murder party". He dresses up and attends. When he arrives, he finds himself to be the victim of an actual murder party where everyone else are the participants. For a low budget movie it looks really fucking good. The characters are great and the comedy is often hilarious. The nature of the film is brutal at times and brings to mind early Peter Jackson. The first 40 minutes does have moments of lag with a lot of talky talky but the when things kick into 'murder time' its a fun and deranged comedy horror.
Tell Them Lucifer Was Here is part of the "Underbelly: Files" spin off from the Underbelly franchise. Normally I wouldn't include tv shows in this group but the Underbelly Files are presented as 90 minute movies... and hell, the dvd menu says "Play Film". hehehe.
It tells the story of the murder of police officers Gary Silk and Rod Miller. Anyone my age will remember the murders vividly. I particularly remember it because I spent a lot of my youth riding my bike up and down Cochrane's Road in Moorabbin (where they were killed). Anyway this film is about the investigation that followed. I thought it was great. The production and period felt authentic and the performances were solid, particularly Greg Stone as Bandali Debs.
I loved the first Underbelly series but the second and third were really average.. so its great to see these smaller feature length episodes so well made. I'll be watching the other 2 some time soon. Fingers crossed for the upcoming 4th series which tells of the razor gangs in Sydney circa 1920s. But that's TV so I digress... LOL
Michael Sheen delivers his third and final performance in the Tony Blair trilogy (following The Deal & The Queen) and it's an incredible performance. The film tells of the relationship between Blair and Bill Clinton from the moment Blair becomes PM and the moment Clinton's presidency ends. I found it engaging despite having the uneasy feeling that it was rushed. It runs at 88 minutes and I would have preferred to have seen a 2 or 3 hour version. Watching it I felt like a series of important events were strung together to tell the story but I would love to have seen more of the in between stuff. Dennis Quaid's performance seemed like a forced characterture but I guess a personality such as Clintons against a meek & mild gentlemanly character like Blair would seem that way in reality. Both performances were good but Sheen steels the show.. and it's much more a story about Blair anyway. Originally the film was to also feature Blair's relationship with George W but those scenes were dropped in order to focus on the one dynamic. My fingers are crossed for an extended director's cut.
I missed Black Swan at the cinemas and so I've been hanging for it's dvd release. I've just watched it and my verdict is that it's one of the most profoundly disturbing film's I've seen in a long time. Natalie Portman's performance is one of the most immersed I've seen in a long time which lends itself sublimely to the story. Vincent Cassel again proves to be one of the best actors around at the moment and Mila Kunis breaks free of the 2 dimensional realm and proves to be an amazing actress. It's a heavy film which I imagine will mislead a lot of viewers (i predict many complaints at my shop) but to me it's damn near perfection.
A second viewing has confirmed that The Other Guys is brilliant. It's packed with satire, in-jokes and parody which will amuse anyone who loves those big Hollywood buddy-cop movies of the 80s and 90s. If you loved what they did with Hot Fuzz a couple of years back then you'll get a kick out of this too. For some reason I kept thinking about Kevin Smith's atrocious "Cop Out". This Other Guys accomplishes what Smith set out to achieve but failed dismally. There's even a brief scene which puts the characters court side at a basketball game... close observation will find that sitting two seats down from Will Ferrell is Tracy Morgan (from Cop Out). One wonders what is running through his mind and whether Kevin Smith sent him along to take notes? The Other Guys is one of the best comedies in a while and proves to be a winning team effort for Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay who previous worked together on Anchorman, Talladega Nights & Step Brothers.
I needed an upper tonight. Something I know was guaranteed to crack me up. Having watched a few Romero movies of late, I decided to camp it up into overdrive and settled in to watch Zombieland. Fuck I love this movie!! How fun is it?? Everything about it is super cool. Woody Harrelson is hilarious and his passionate quest for twinkies makes me laugh just thinking about it. The BM segment deserves huge kudos too! For the type of movie this is, its a little light on the gore. The zombie kills are really creative but in most cases it all happens off camera (garden shears scene for example). They really could have delivered a steller knock out movie had they revved the gore right up. Nevermind, its still a wicked fun movie. Part 2 is coming and I dont know how I feel about that. No doubt it will be great, but there's always the chance that it wont. We'll see, eh!?