Monday, March 27, 2006

Interview wirh Roger Donaldson, director of The World's Fastest Indian

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing director Roger Donaldson. A passing glance at his résumé shows an eclectic and varied array of films that show a man not afraid to try out every genre. From Cocktail to Species, The Getaway to Thirteen Days, there’s something for everyone. We met up to discuss his new film, the fabulous The World’s Fastest Indian starring Sir Anthony Hopkins. It tells the true story of Burt Monroe, an obsessive biker who spends his whole life building an “Indian” motorbike with one aim, to break the land speed record. Thanks to Charlotte Greig for arranging the chat.

How was it returning to New Zealand to make The World’s Fastest Indian after years working in Hollywood?

That’s one of the reasons I made the film, I was looking for an excuse to go back and do something that was relevant to own history really. Because this movie started out as one of the very first films I ever made as a documentary on Burt Monroe. I was at the very beginning of my film-making career, I was in my early twenties so it just had a lot of personal stuff in it for me. In fact one of my daughters saw the film and said, “oh my God Dad, you’ve made a film about myself!” which probably I have in a funny way.

I saw the film last night and apart from trying to break the land speed record it was my Dad, the garage, the motorbikes.

You know, I think that’s what it was for me to. It was really, in its own funny way, a homage to my own father, who’s still alive. But I think everyone has that kind of relationship with his or her Dad. You know the little kid in the film in a way is me. I used him as a vehicle to ask those questions that I was asking as a young twenty year old. I remember being impressed with this guy. I can still remember what he had to say and what he did; he’s attitude to life and all that. When I look at the documentary I realise there’s a lot I actually took verbatim from the documentary and reworked for the movie.

Anthony Hopkins is fabulous in the film, how close is he to the real Burt Munroe?

Tony (Hopkins) took his body language, his speech patterns, his accent and he’s done an amazing job. But then also a lot of the movie is fictitious as well, even though it’s very true to the spirit of the sort of character he was. I was never there when he first turned up at the Salt Lakes, or what he though or what he said. I took things that he talked about and tried to put them into the context of a road movie.

How did you discover Burt Monroe?

I not quite sure how I discovered him other than me and my filmmaking partner Mike Smith, who lives up in Brisbane now, we both had motorbikes. I guess through our interest in bikes we heard about this guy on the grapevine because he wasn’t that well known really. Maybe if you were into racing motorbikes you would have heard about him more than we had. We were just casual motorbike enthusiasts. Anyway, I remember we wrote to Burt and he invited us to go down and see him. We lived up in Auckland at the time and he lived in the most southern city in New Zealand on the South Island. Anyway, I remember we got there at 10 o’clock at night and we had this address. We arrived in the suburban street, then we got to Burt’s property and there’s nothing there. It was just waist high grass and this shed. I was like “oh, we must have got the address wrong,” we checked and it was the right place. We knocked on the door of the shed and this crusty old guy emerges from the shed and he’s really fired up with enthusiasm. He had a sparkle in his eye and said “let me show you my bike.” He wheels it out and cranks it up and it screamed. I mean our bike (in the film) made a lot of noise but his was a 200mph monster. Ours was just a replica that was meant to go all day and everyday so it was a much more detuned version but his bike screamed! He was revving the guts out of her, the lights were coming on in neighbours houses and people were hurling abuse over the back fence and Burt was as deaf as a post as he is in the movie. He couldn’t hear a darned thing. We were just killing ourselves laughing and excited that we had really discovered a treasure here.”

A full version of the interview will be published soon, keep posted for details.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ra Choi news update

I am happy to report that the sold out world premiere of Ra Choi at the London Australian Film Festival went down a storm and paves the way for a busy next few months on the festival circuit. The film will now also be playing at the prestigious Rome Independent Film Festival (April 7-13) and the Worldfest Houston Film Festival (April 21-30)

For any Australian readers we are pleased to announce that director Michael Frank will be appearing on The Movie Show on SBS, he will be interviewed by the shows host Megan Spencer. The interview will be screened on Wednesday 22nd March at 8pm.

After being named best film at the Australian Writers Guild awards, Ra Choi has been awarded ‘Commended’ at the Australian National Literary Awards.

“The National Literary Awards attract hundreds of entries from every state of Australia and success in this award is a reflection of both the quality of the entry and strength as a writer” – Gail Blundell, Co-ordinator, National Literary Awards.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Between the Covers

Once again, for any Sydneysiders reading I'll be on the "Between the Covers" book review show on Eastside 89.7FM. This time I'll be looking at Scorcese: A Journey Through the American Psyche published by Plexus and edited by Paul. A. Woods. I'll be on air at 11:30 am on Tuesday 14th March.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Revolver DVD review

Any film starring the late great Oliver Reed is a winner in this humble reviewers opinion and Revolver is no exception. Reed, the charismatic drunkard was known for attacking difficult roles with relish. From his early days with Hammer Films in The Curse of the Werewolf to his long-standing association with Ken Russell in the likes of Women in Love and The Devils, Reed exuded a rugged charm that won him many fans. In fact Russell was the only director who truly let the actor run riot on set

He brings his tough guy persona to the fore in Revolver as the cop who will stop at nothing to find his kidnapped wife. Joined by Italian heartthrob Fabio Testi, star of Four Gunmen of the Apocalypse and The Big Racket, the duo make an unlikely alliance that makes for a winning cinematic combination. Both actors seem to enjoy the challenge and director Sollimo keeps Reed’s tendency to over act to a minimum. Revolver joins a series of tough cop thrillers that proved to be box office gold in the 70s and 80s in Italy.

Every Italian director worth his salt tried his hand at the genre. Lucio Fulci inevitably hit the screens with the ultra gory Contraband and the genres stalwart Enzo. G. Casterelli gave us The Heroine Busters. Sollimo became an expert of the harsh city streets with such thrillers as Run Man Run and Violent City. The interesting thing about the Italian approach to the cop thriller was that the good guys were often as corrupt as the criminals they hunted. Revolver draws a very fine line as the Warden engulfs himself into the criminal underground and that’s what makes the film so interesting. The Warden is just as corrupt as the prisoners he spends his life incarcerating. The pounding soundtrack by maestro Ennio Morricone is the icing on the cake on this highly recommended thriller.

For full review please check out