Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

At 6pm today I'll be producing this weeks Cinemascape show on Eastside 89.7 FM. The show will feature lively discussion on Ron Howard's Frost/ Nixon, City of Ember as well as my review of David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I've also pre-recorded two shows being broadcast over the Christmas break so listen out for the Cinemascape review of 2008 and our preview of the film's coming out in the months during the build up to next year's Oscars ceremony. In the meantime, Happy Christmas to everyone and here's to a fabulous 2009.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Later today I'll be returning to the airwaves on Eastside 89.7 FM's Cinemascape. The show features discussion on Rob Schneider's dire Big Stan, Quarantine the US shot for shot remake of the Spanish chiller REC and I'll be reviewing the long awaited big screen adaptation of Stephenie Myers hugely successful novel Twilight. As a huge fan of bloodsuckers on screen I found the film a rather toothless affair. The film is blatantly aimed at the books original readership; these vampires are 'vegetarians' who sparkle in the sunlight, nothing there that could scare a 14 year old girl. Putting cynicism aside, this isn't aimed at the horror purest and director Catherine Hardwicke certainly brings the romance elements of the film to the fore with her tale of teenage bloodlust. It's love at first bite and Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) and the OC with fangs stylings will have it's youthful audience swooning. The inherent sensual tensions and lustful yearnings are nicely played by the leads although Pattinson's awkward opening scenes did raise many a unintended titter at the screening I attended. The filmmakers, however, do seem more intent on concentrating on the romantic aspects of the storyline, this is more Pretty in Pink than the Horror of Dracula, so the nocturnal activities of these MTV Nosferatu's seem like a tagged on afterthought. It's almost a shame they used the 'V' word at all. At least then your average cinema goer can leave their expectations, and fake fangs, at the door. To hear my review tune in tonight at 6pm.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Quantum of Solace - Sydney Premiere

As dark storm clouds loom and the heavens open, nothing can dampen the spirits of the hundreds of Bond fans gathered at the Hoyts cinema deep in the heart of Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter. The city is awash with Hollywood talent this week, Ben Stiller and Chris Rock are attending the premiere of Madagascar 2 and Aussie royalty Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman will be strutting their stuff down the red carpet for the world premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s long awaited Australia but for those in the know, all eyes are on the world’s most famous spy and the Australian premiere of Quantum of Solace. The soggy contingent were not disappointed as Daniel Craig, new Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, director Marc Forster and producer Barbara Broccoli posed for photos, pressed flesh, and in Craig’s case signed body parts. If there was any uncertainty that Craig had what it takes to follow Bond’s previous incarnations there is no doubt now judging by the response he was given by his shaken and most definitely stirred fans. I was lucky enough to have a position in the press pit to witness the event and have a chat with some of the stars.

"This was a Bond for our times but I was inspired by those early Bonds,” explains director Forster as he talks about working on the film. “I did a lot of pre production to create the Bond film that I always wanted to see. We took some key moments from the early Bond films and paid homage to them or what I loved about the early Bond films and then added my vision of how I thought the Bond franchise should go forward in the future.” Not that it was only the early Bond films that influenced the helmsman, “I love action movies from the Seventies and the conspiracy thrillers of the Sixties. I also think James Cameron created some great action moments especially in Alien and The Terminator.” At first glance at Forster’s resume, Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner, he doesn’t look like an obvious choice for a Bond film director, “It’s been an interesting journey. I like switching genres, I wouldn’t like to do these big films all of the time,” although he is rumoured to be taking the directorial reigns on the forthcoming Brad Pitt produced World War Z, “I approached the Bond film more like a character study than anything else. It was all about Daniel and Bond and his character so I tried to approach the big films in almost the same way.” You can certainly begin to see why Broccoli picked Forster to inject new blood to constantly challenge the series and keep every new film fresh. “I treated it more like an independent film, in a sense that I had to work with the Bond framework but still create my own vision which was very important to me.”

“Bond is a sexy man” purrs actress Olga Kurylenko “who has success with women.” Not that her character, Camille, succumbs to the charms of young blue eyes. This isn’t your typical Bond girl. “Well she’s a very different Bond girl. She’s very independent from Bond, she doesn’t really need him. She also not a perfect person, she’s not just a beautiful doll, she’s a real woman. It’s not about the beauty, its not about getting Bond into her bed, I think she is much more real, she’s has her own story.” Camille may seem to have a love hate relationship with Bond but Kurylenko has nothing but praise for her co star, “It was great, he was amazing, he works so hard. He really inspires you. It was a great lesson to watch him in the role of Bond.”

Finally we meet Bond himself and first thoughts are about living up to the Bond legend. This is his second Bond. After the pressures of following Monsieurs Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan… with Casino Royale, how does Craig think Quantum of Solace will go down with audiences? “Well time will tell won’t it?” he grins, “We’re doing well at the moment. I’m very happy with the movie. Mark Forster has crafted a beautiful film so we’ll see, that’s a question for audiences to answer, that’s not my job.” Now with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace under his belt, "It is very rare to make a movie of this size. It was the chance to be at the top of my game," what does Craig want to bring to melting pot to make his Bond different? “It’s not that I want to make him deeply emotional. It’s just I think it is interesting to find out who he is and what he’s about. I feel it’s much more entertaining, as a movie goer, that’s what I would want to see.” Rest assured that despite this talk of emotional torment, all of the usual Bond trappings are present and correct. When asked Is there any romance left in Bond Craig gives a hint of his devilish grin, “yes,” he says with a glint in his dazzling blue eyes, “of course there is.”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sex Drive on the radio

It's that time of the week again. At 18:00 tonight I'll be producing Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7 FM. This week the show includes reviews of The Wackness featuring another fabulous performance from Ben Kingsley and veteran French director Claude La Louche's new film Roman de Gare. I'll be reviewing the US teen comedy Sex Drive starring Josh Zuckerman and Amanda Crew and deciding whether the film will become the new American Pie for the Facebook generation. Tune in tonight to find out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Watchmen in Sydney

Last week proved to be a busy one; the day after my Dying Breed interviews I attended an exclusive preview of 25 minutes of Watchmen introduced by director Zack Snyder. Even after his sterling efforts on the Dawn of the Dead and 300 there has been much consternation amongst the comic book crowd over his placement as helmsman on arguably the most long awaited comic book adaptation of them all, Alan Moore’s Watchmen.

Well he proved to be both the perfect host, and on the strength of the footage we were shown, the perfect choice of director. The attention to detail is breathtaking and the comic book aesthetic created by Moore and artist David Gibbons has been painstakingly recreated, even in the unfinished state we witnessed. He waxed lyrical about each clip he showed us, setting up its position in the film. He even took time out to answer all of the audience’s questions. We started, funnily enough, at the beginning with the first 10 minutes of the film including the extraordinary opening credits showing the superheroes lives through an alternative history that shows the likes of JFK, Andy Warhol, David Bowie and The Village People brushing shoulders with our caped heroes to the dulcet tones of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin. We were also taken on a trip to Mars and witnessed a prison break out. If they are not already; Dr Manhattan, The Comedian, Night-Owl, Ozymandias and Rorschach will be household names come March 2009.

When questioned how the film would sell to the non comic book fanatics out there, he even managed a dig at the Hollywood studios. “Well, Iron Man, Batman and Superman had man in the title which is cool and we do too, sort of,” he laughed, “so we’re gonna go with that for one thing, people are gonna go, ‘Boom, look at that!!!’” he exclaims, “Men…..we should go see that!”

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dying Breed interviews

Last week I was lucky enough to interview Leigh Whannell (Saw) and Nathan Philips (Wolf Creek) about their work in the new Australian horror film Dying Breed. Already in hot water over the film’s promotional poster; Dying Breed has caused quite a stir with its fusion of the Alexander “The Pieman” Pearce legend, the tried and trusted clichés of life in rural Tasmania and bloody cannabalistic grue. The actors obviously enjoyed coming back down under to make a good, old-fashioned gory thriller. Keep posted for news of the interviews publication in Shivers magazine.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hunger on Cinemascape

Tune in to Eastside 89.7 FM at 6pm tonight if you are in Sydney to hear me appear on the Cinemascape show. This week I'll be reviewing Steve McQueen's harrowing Hunger; the story of hunger striker Bobby Sands and his life incarcerated in the 'H' Block of the Maze Prison in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The film is a stunning piece of work; emotionally draining, beautifully shot, defiantly political and fantastically played by all of the cast, in particular Michael Fassbinder as Sands. McQueen has taken his back ground in art and used his visual aesthetic to create one of the finest examples of cinema in recent years. A masterpiece and a must see. Listen in to hear my full review.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rocknrolla on Air!

Anyone in the Sydney area who tuned into Eastside 89.7 FM last Friday at 6pm would have heard me produce the Cinemascape show. I reviewed Guy Ritchie's Rocknrolla and the program also featured discussion on Choke starring Sam Rockwell and Mirrors, the new horror film by Alexandre Aja starring Kiefer Sutherland.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Interview with Crispin Glover

A couple of weeks ago Crispin Glover arrived in Sydney for two evenings of book readings, signings and screenings of his two films What is It? and It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE! at the Chauvel Cinema. I was lucky enough to interview the actor about his life and films. Here is a taster of our chat.

What was your inspiration for your films What is It? and It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE! I have heard mention of the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky?

There are four filmmakers that I was very consciously thinking a lot about while I was making What is it? These four were Luis Buñuel, Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Stanley Kubrick. That is not to say there are no other filmmakers that I thought about as I am sure there were, but those four very much. I should also mention that David Lynch had agreed years ago to executive produce what will now be part three of the “IT” trilogy entitled IT IS MINE. So he also was very important in this trilogy of films and I am very grateful to him for that. On top of which Eraserhead was an extremely important film to me when I was 16 years old and I still hold that film in the highest regard.

Of all the directors you have worked with who did you learn from when making your own films?

I have enjoyed working with many directors such as David Lynch, Milos Forman, Oliver Stone, and Lasse Hallstrom, Jim Jarmusch. I always watch how directors I admire work and glean what I can from them and I have seen many other directors not listed do interesting things as well. But I certainly have learned things from watching directors that are not as renowned as the above and I have worked with directors who I will not mention by name that I have seen clearly making mistakes. I hope to have learned of things not to do from those directors not mentioned.

You’ve worked with David Lynch twice now, on Wild at Heart and Hotel Room, what was he like as an actor’s director?

David Lynch is the most specific director I have worked with in terms of psychological underpinnings of a character. This to me is the most important thing and so he a therefore a great actors director!

Did you have much input into the character of Cousin Dell?

I did, but that performance is probably the most specifically directed performance by a director I have performed, and because it was directed by such an excellent director it is one of my favourite performances of myself and I get a lot of compliments on it.

You have made a couple of excursions into the horror genre with Willard and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and have now returned to the genre with Wizard of Gore, do you enjoy horror films?

As a viewer I do not seek out the horror genre. As a performer sometimes the roles are very enjoyable roles to play. I enjoyed playing both Willard and Montag the Magnificent in the Wizard of Gore.

What was Friday the 13th like to film, especially your death scene?

I knew that in the future there would be some humor in having appeared in that film. I did not know it would have as much of a following as it still does. I remember working with Tom Savini and acting in reverse for the effect of having my face hacked with a cleaver. The cleaver was shaped like my face and pulled out. In the film it is played back in reverse. I have used reverse shots a lot in my own films for various reasons. It can be very helpful.

I loved the video to Ben, was there ever any doubt that you would rerecord the track? Do you know what Michael Jackson thinks of your version?

I do not know if Michael Jackson has heard my version of the song or not. I have not met him. The way my singing the song came about was from discussing it with Glenn Morgan the writer/director of the film. I think he sort of mentioned it in passing, but I still do not know how much he meant it at the time, but I had a record out years before called “The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be. I thought it was something that could work and I ended up producing the song with one of the producers from that record.

What was it like playing Andy Warhol in Oliver Stone’s The Doors?

I met and spoke with Andy Warhol at the wedding of Madonna and Sean Penn. It was right after Back to the Future had come out which he had apparently seen. I did not speak with him for so long but definitely enough to get an idea about him. He was quite nice to me. I stood back and looked at him and watched how he held himself and thought he would be an interesting person to play. I pursued the role when I heard there was an Andy Warhol role in the Doors movie. I had met Oliver Stone previously for Platoon which I was not in, but we had a good meeting and I auditioned for the role and got it. I liked working with him and it was a role which I asked for less lines than were in the script and he was OK with that. I am glad to have played that role.

You are renowned for playing eclectic characters; Layne in Rivers Edge, George McFly in Back to the Future, The Thin Man in Charlie's Angels, what attracts you to these different characters?

I have always enjoyed playing more unusual characters. Now more than me pursuing them they often are roles that are offered to me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Body of Lies

Later on today at 18.00pm on Eastside 89.7 FM's Cinemascape show I'll be reviewing Ridley Scott's latest thriller Body of Lies starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. Tune in to here my thoughts. The show also features discussion of the Coen brothers Burn After Reading and the new documentary about a choir of senior citizens singing numbers by The Clash and Sonic Youth, Young @ Heart.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

News Update

Well I’ve been off the radar for a few weeks after taking some time off to marry my beautiful bride Milli so here’s a round up of the last month or so.

Shivers Magazine featured my set reports on The Ruins and I’m presently writing up a large feature on Australian Exploitation cinema tying in with the recent release of Not Quite Hollywood. I'll also be reporting on Mark Hartley's fantastic documentary for Cinema Retro.

Talking of The Ruins, The latest Filmink features my interview with actress Jena Malone following last months preview from the set of Acolytes.

Smoke & Mirrors latest issue features my interviews with the Double Negative FX team on Guileramo Del Tor’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army and the next issue includes my interview with Keanu Reeves discussing his career, Street Kings and the forthcoming remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Drum Media has featured my interview with Benjamin Gibson; the creative force and ambulance medic turned director of Son of a Lion, a preview of the recent Sydney Underground Film Festival.

I have also recently interviewed Crispin Glover about the Sydney screenings of his two directorial efforts What Is It? and It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. We also discussed his work in Wild at Heart, Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter, Willard and his love of Werner Herzog.

As always my DVD reviews are online on and and check out for my Dave Down Under blog.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Funny Games

It's Friday again and that means I'm on Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7FM. This week I'm producing the show and reviewing Michael Haneke's Funny Games. The show also features discussion on The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emporer and Ari Folman's extraordinary Waltz with Bashir. Tune in at 18.00pm.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Son of Rambow

Later today I'll be reviewing the fabulous Son of Rambow on Eastside 89.7 FM's Cinemascape show. Tune in at 6pm to hear my review along with discussion on In Bruges and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Talking of the big red hero, this month's Smoke & Mirrors magazine features my interview with British FX house Double Negative regarding their extensive effects work on Guilermo Del Toro's sequel.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On the air

Those in the Sydney area who tuned in to Eastside 89.7 FM last Friday would have heard me on the Cinemascape show reviewing Morgan Spurlock's Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden. This week I'm producing the show as well as reviewing Marjane Satrapi's animated feature Persepolis. The show will also feature reviews of Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder and Roy Andersson's You, The Living.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Triangle set visit

Filming has just wrapped in Queensland on Triangle; the latest film from producer Chris Brown. I was lucky enough to be invited up to the Sunshine State to visit the set and interview many of the cast and crew. Brown, the producer of classics like The Company of Wolves, Mona Lisa and The Proposition is becoming a one man film studio in the State having previously produced the Spierig brothers Daybreakers and it was a pleasure, as always, to chat to him about the film. Triangle is being directed by Brit Christopher Smith of Creep and Severence fame and from what we saw on set, he has another intriguing take on the horror genre in the making. Brown showed us around the set of the liner, built on The Spit on Surfers Paradise but as you can see from the picture of the producer and myself, the Sunshine State certainly didn’t live up to its name. My coverage on the making of the film will appear in Shivers near the time of the film’s release next year.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

George. A. Romero at MIFF

The main reason for heading down to Melbourne this past weekend was to interview one of my favourite directors George. A. Romero. The man who gave us, arguably, two of the finest horror films of all time in Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, attended the festival for a career retrospective including rare big screen outings for Martin - one of my personal favourites, Season of the Witch, The Crazies and a whole bloody load of his zombie classics. The gut munchers on display also included the long overdue Australian premiere of Diary of the Dead which the great man introduced as the front few rows of the audience looked on adoringly, caked in fake blood in their finest zombie regalia. Romero was a charming encyclopedia of horror knowledge and an absolute pleasure to meet.

I also interviewed Rusty Nails about his documentary Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George. A. Romero which was an eye opening look into the perils of low budget filmmaking and Olly Blackburn, the director of Donkey Punch, which is very much a cause celebre in the UK at present. I also attended some screenings tied in with the premiere of Not Quite Hollywood including Turkey Shoot introduced by director Brian Trenchard Smith and producer Anthony. I. Ginnane and Long Weekend with appearances by writer Everett De Roche and executive producer Richard Brennan. The afore mentioned also appeared on the Focus on Ozploitation Panel along with stuntman Grant Page and Stone producer David Hannay. Threnchard-Smith and Ginnane in particular were marvellously entertaining company reminiscing on the making of their exploitation classics while passing judgement on modern day Australian cinema…. ‘Ten Empty, more like Ten Empty cinemas!”

On a similar theme I advise all of you horror fans to head to to check out my ‘Dave Down Under’ blog and also to see the incredible line up of films that Messeurs Jones, Rattray and McEvoy have lined up for this years Frightfest Festival taking place at the Odeon West End over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Tickets are on sale now but be quick, they get snapped up fast. Great to see the festival is showing the world premiere of Doug Turner and Stacey Edmonds I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer which I have championed on this site. As always, Sydney is just too far away from London!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not Quite Hollywood

One of the most exciting Australian cinema releases this year will be Mark Hartley’s Not Quite Hollywood. A rose tinted paean back to the halcyon days of the Aussie exploitation film and an era of 'boobs, tubes and pubes...and a bit of kung fu' as the poster charmingly proclaims. Hartley has pulled together a startling array of bizarre clips from the darkest depths of Australian film history, many being seen for the first time since their original release in the 70s, especially Wake in Fright which Hartley excitedly told me is being given a deluxe restoration job by the AFI. It is also the first time in many a year that a lot of the directors and actors on show have talked about their experiences. Barry Humphries is hysterical and uber fan Quentin Tarantino shows a fan credentials coining the phrase Ozploitation for good measure. A fabulous benefit of being in Australia means I have been able to interview many of the people involved including the aforementioned Hartley, co-editor and director in his own right Jamie Blanks, Brian Trenchard Smith – director of The Man From Hong Kong, Turkey Shoot and BMX Bandits, Everett De Roche – writer of Patrick, Road Games and Long Weekend and Rod Hay – producer of Night of Fear and Inn of the Damned. I’m also arranging an interview with Hugh Keays-Byrne who starred in the classic biker movie Stone and also played Toecutter in the original Mad Max.

Not Quite Hollywood is the opening film of the Melbounre International Film Festival and I’ll be heading down for the opening weekend to catch screenings of Long Weekend and Turkey Shoot, attend the Aussie Exploitation seminar featuring many of the names mentioned above and interview Australian stuntman extraordinaire Grant Page who made many of these action packed thrillers look so good. The Australian Centre for the Moving Image will be screening a slew of Ozploitation classics throughout the festival so for the brave among you, check out

Meet Dave

For those of you in Sydney I’ll be producing the Cinemascape show on Eastside 89.7 FM at 6pm. This week the show includes reviews of The X- Files: I Want to Believe, Up the Yangtze and my review of the Eddie Murphy comedy Meet Dave. Murphy plays the miniature alien captain of a spaceship, also played by a giant Eddie Murphy. He is visiting earth to recover a strange device that will drain earth of it's oceans but will save his own planet. I was always a huge fan of Murphy’s early career including Delirious, Raw and Trading Places. To be honest his last great comedy performance was Bowfinger with Steve Martin and he was worth the praise he garnered in Dreamgirls but his career has taken a nose dive with rubbish like Norbit, Daddy Day Care and The Nutty Professor 2. In Meet Dave he shows a glint of the comedy genius of his early years while still maintaining the overly saccharin family values that have blighted his recent work. Tune in to hear my full review.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Dark Knight on air review

This week on Cinemascape I’ll be reviewing one of the years most anticipated releases; Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Obviously the untimely demise of Heath Ledger has brought the film much unwanted attention but for once, all the talk of the posthumous Oscar nomination is completely grounded. Believe the hype! Ledger’s Joker is one of the most mesmerising celluloid villains of all time. He commands your attention and repulses your senses every time he appears on screen. Not that The Dark Knight is a one man show. Aaron Eckhart is fantastic as Gotham City’s new Knight in shining armour DA Harvey Dent and Christian Bale more than holds his own as the titular superhero. Nolan has put together a Summer movie masterpiece that not only knocks its seasonal contemporaries out of the park but will almost definitely be haled as one of the years best. The multi layered, enthralling plot twists in all the right places and cinematographer Wally Pfister has shot a deliciously gloomy landscape for Batman to duke it out with the bad guys. For anyone lucky enough to live near an IMAX cinema, make the effort and see it there, you will not be disappointed. Tune in to Eastside FM 89.7 FM at 6pm this Friday to hear my review.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Sydney Film Festival round up Part 2

As the dust settles in the State Theatre and the last ticket has been scanned here are my final thoughts on the Sydney Film Festival in my second round up. The final weekend of the festival brought some of my favourite film’s of the event.

Michael Haneke’s shot for shot remake of his own Funny Games was a brilliant piece of audience manipulation that frequently broke the fourth wall, often cruelly taking away the viewers few moments of joy. Naomi Watt’s gave an amazing performance as the beleaguered victim of a very strange home invasion. Tim Roth also made a welcome return to the big screen as her husband but unfortunately spent most of the film with a broken leg. The brilliance of the film was that no explanation is given for the horrendous events that occur; much like real life people’s lives are shattered and destroyed, often at the whim of someone they don’t know. The film divided the audience and created the most verbose response of the festival.

Somers Town; Shane Meadow’s low key follow up to his fantastic This is England was a hugely enjoyable glimpse into the friendship of a young midlands lad and a Polish immigrant. Shot in black and white, once again This is England star Thomas Turgoose enters Meadow’s world as the loner hitting the streets of London and the director brings his customary gritty realism to a surprisingly good natured and entertaining diversion.

American Teen took the template of John Hughes The Breakfast Club and recreated a heart warming and life affirming documentary about the trials and tribulations of being a teen in America. They were all there; the jock, the prom queen, the geek, the rebel and the basket case. The really interesting thing about the documentary is the footage they managed to get, often catching the teens at their most vulnerable. Hilarious, uplifting and moving, one of the feel good hits of the festival.

Brian DePalma’s Redacted has come in for a lot of criticism since it began the festival trail. Returning to the themes visited in the director’s previous excursion into the darker side of war Casualties of War; Redacted takes a very modern approach to tell its story using footage from video cameras, news reels, even Arabic You Tube. Based on true stories, he film is just as much a condemnation of the media as a look at the horrific depths that the armies of young men will go in the face of war. It’s unfortunate that DePalma’s vision is hindered by the often amateur performances but even these do add a certain resonance to some scenes, recommended with reservations. In a similar vein was the new Errol Morris documentary Standard Operating Procedure which looked at the stories behind the infamous photographs taken by American troops at Saddam Hussein’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

A definite surprise highlight was the Icelandic murder mystery Jar City directed by Baltasar Kormáku. Never taking the easy path, the beautifully shot film is a gripping examination of how a murder touches everyone, no matter how slight the persons connection to the departed. Excellent performances from the entire cast firmly ground this gritty thriller that is as shocking for the Icelandic diet as it is for its twist plot. The closing film was the Oscar nominated animated feature Persepolis which was a beautifully crafted adaptation of Iranian born Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel featuring the voices of Catherine Deneuve and Iggy Pop.

Well that about wraps it up for Sydney, all roads now lead to the Melbourne International Film Festival at the end of July. Tune in soon for more news on the festival line up and some legendary interviews I’ll be conducting.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

You Don't Mess With the Zohan

This Friday I'll be producing the Cinemascape show on Eastside 89.7FM. The show will feature reviews of Kung Fu Panda, Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky as well as my thoughts on the comedy You Don't Mess With the Zohan. Adam Sandler stars as Zohan; an all fighting, all killing one man Israelii army. He dreams of becoming a hair stylist in New York so he fakes his own death during an epic battle with his arch nemesis The Phantom, John Turturro, and heads to NYC, scissors in hand. After a few set backs he swallows his pride and gets a job in a Palestinian hairdressers. He romances his clients by giving them "special services" in the back room. As his prowess makes him more and more popular, he is inevitably recognized, and risks losing his newfound life and career as his past comes back to haunt him. To hear me pass judgment on the latest Sandler comedy tune in at 18.00.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sydney Film Festival round up Part 1

Well we’re over half way through this years Sydney Film Festival and we’re already witnessed some wonderful cinema within the walls of the State Theatre, the Dendy Opera Quays and the George Street cinemas. It’s still a glorious sight watching festival regulars bolting between screenings, festival pass blowing in the wind.

My favourite film thus far has been the fabulous Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In. Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist the film portrays the trials and tribulations of a twelve year old boy dealing with bullies, his parents divorce, school and living next door to a vampire. Subtlety using ideas and motifs from many classics of the genre, in particular Salem’s Lot, but redefining them against the chilling, snow covered vistas of the Swedish countryside. The film brings fresh blood to often staid and predictable vampire genre. Visually the film is stunning, from the nocturnal vampiric attacks to the final swimming pool massacre, director Thomas Alfredson shows a show hand during even the most uncomfortable moments. The fact that it is two twelve years olds discovering love and dealing with an uncontrollable thirst for plasma only adds to the frisson and the two young leads are outstanding. One of the best horror films of recent times.

Running a close second was In Bruges, the tale of two hitmen hiding out in the small Belgium town of Bruges. Colin Firth and Brendan Gleeson star as the killers and both give career best performances in the hilarious, moving and beautifully played film that twists and turns whilst always giving our heroes a human side, despite the horrific nature of their chosen career. The script is razor sharp; written and directed by Martin McDonagh, the playwright has an audacious turn of phrase and Firth revels at the opportunity to spit out some wicked one-liners. Ralph Fiennes appears at the films blood soaked finale as a cockney gangster who would make Sexy Beast’s Ben Kingsley proud.

Guy Maddin made a welcome return to the festival after Brand Upon the Brain astounded viewers at last years festival, despite the fact that his The Saddest Music in the World was voted last place by the audience a few years ago. A point brought up, much to the directors amusement and festival director Clare Stewarts embarrassment, during Maddin’s hilarious Q&A session after his latest film My Winnpeg was shown. The gala screening of his hilarious travelogue featured a live on stage narration. Two thumbs up must also go to the trashy Donkey Punch, love that outboard motor in the face scene…(best since Dr Butcher MD!) and the high school nightmares of Class. Another nice surprise was the quirky Russian fairy tale Mermaid. I also very much enjoyed Steve McQueen’s Hunger, a beautifully shot retelling of the hunger strikers of the early Eighties, in particular Bobby Sands. The director used his artistic background to stunning effect and was aided by some fabulous performances. The unusual structure of the storytelling was slightly unsettling and there was an assumption that the audience had some prior knowledge of the subject but this warts and this expose definitely lived up to its Cannes hype.

I missed out on Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django but did manage to catch the director’s Crows: Episode 0 which was enjoyable but to be honest, we’d seen it all before. You, the Living also showed initial promise but descended into an episodic mess that when it worked certainly raised a smile, but come the films conclusion it garnered little more than a shrug of the shoulders.

The retrospective season this year is the amusingly From Kerr to Eternity gave me another chance to revisit Jack Clayton’s The Innocents. Last time I saw this classic was at London’s then National Film Theatre as a prelude to the Q&A with the legendary Freddie Francis and the film still looks wonderful. The black and white photography is beautiful to behold giving the film a sense of ominous foreboding way before the film’s startling conclusion and Debora Kerr gives a fabulous performance as the Governess who has to deal with the young tearaways of the title.

That’s it for now, there are plenty more movies to see so I’ll be back with a final round up next week.

RIP Stan Winston

I was very sad to hear of the recent death of make up and special FX legend Stan Winston. Ever since I started reading Starburst and Fangoria he was a name that constantly popping up in articles about films like The Monster Squad, Invaders from Mars and The Exterminator. Hey I even remember reading a review of his work on Dead & Buried that said his make up effects were too realistic, you can't get better praise than that. He won visual effects Oscars for 1986's Aliens, 1992's Terminator 2: Judgment Day and 1993's Jurassic Park and a makeup Oscar for 1992's Batman Returns. What can you say about the man who gave us Edward Scissorhands, the Predator, the Terminator and the T-Rex? The work he produced for director's like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Tim Burton will live on forever.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's Happening?

This Friday I'll be producing the Cinemascape show on Eastside 89.7 FM. This week the show features reviews of Sex & The City and Prince Caspian along with my thoughts on M. Knight Shyamalan's The Happening. A huge fan of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable it seems that the director has unfortunately lost his mojo of late. Lady in the Water just didn't work on any level and while The Happening revolves around a fabulous idea as the people of New York City decides on mass to commit suicide, leading to some astonishing scenes that hark back to the real life tragedies of September 11th, it fails on almost every level. Unfortunately the script, performances and a limp environmental message that is forced down the viewers throat mean that Shyamalan's latest isn't happening at all.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

RIP Diabolik!

Anyone who knows me will know that Danger Diabolik is one of my favourite films so I was very sad to here that the film's star John Philip Law passed away this week at the age of 70. As well as the Mario Bava classic; Law is best known for his roles in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Roger Vadim's Barbarella. The world of international espionage will never be the same!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sydney Film Festival 2008 line-up announced

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the announcement of this year’s line up of the Sydney Film Festival.

Once again it looks like an entertaining and enthralling line up. Of the films announced by the festival’s director Claire Stewart, there were definitely a few stand outs. The new Official Competition brings twelve Australian premieres, three of which are world premieres. Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky has been widely acclaimed for a fabulous performance by Sally Hawkins and is the Opening Film of the Festival. Steve McQueen’s Hunger tells the story of hunger striker Bobby Sands and the ever reliable Guy Maddin will be narrating his latest film My Winnipeg live on stage at a Gala screening.

Of the clips shown Samuel Bencheritrit’s I Always Wanted to be a Gangster and Roy Andersson’s hilarious looking You, The Living both brought the house down. The Aussie documentary Salute looks fabulous; telling the story of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and the politic statement that changed three athletes’ lives forever. The style of the film recalls Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary story of the New York Cosmos, one of my favourite documentaries of recent times, with its use of vintage archival footage. Other documentaries include American Teen (The Breakfast Club made flesh) Glass: A Portrait of Philip Glass in Twelve Parts (happy, happy, happy!) and Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter. S. Thompson. The trailer for Michael Haneke’s remake of his own 1997 Funny Games looked incredibly disturbing and will hopefully match the originals harrowing storyline. Having Naomi Watts and Tim Roth in the film will certainly help but it remains to seen whether the curse of the Hollywood remake continues…fingers crossed.

Music will once again play a major part of the festival at the Metro Theatre. Special nights are planned around many of the films. Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story and Anvil: The Story of Anvil (a true life Spinal Tap) in particular have themed nights with DJs and live bands to enhance your viewing pleasure.

For me, at first glance of the program, I was also very happy to see two new film’s from Takashi Miike – Crows: Episode 0 and Sukiyuki Western Django, the prolific director’s tribute to Sergio Corbucci’s classic spaghetti western Django, Brian DePalma’s Redacted and Son of Rambow – the story of two young boys remaking Rambo in their backyard. The horror genre is somewhat lacking this year round but two film’s do show promise. Oliver Blackburn’s UK low budget thriller Donkey Punch takes terror from Leeds to Mallorca as three brash young girls go on holiday for a good time and rather predictably…don’t get it when they head out on a cruise (Ladettes to Ladies meets Dead Calm anyone?) and the Icelandic murder mystery Jar City just looks grim, the scene when the film’s ‘hero’ tucks into a sheep’s head are not want you want to see over coffee on a Thursday morning!

And the fact that Jack Black will be introducing the Australian premiere of Kung Fu Panda is just the icing on the cake! This is only a very small selection of the huge amount of films showing between June 4th and 22nd. Check out and check back here for my reviews and interviews as the festival gets under way. Happy Viewing!

Captive thoughts!

Later today I’ll be producing this weeks Cinemascape show at 6pm on Eastside 89.7 FM. The show will feature reviews of Iron Man, Mrs Pettigrew Lives for the Day and my review of Roland Joffe’s Captivity starring 24’s Elisha Cuthbert. Tune in to hear my thoughts!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Keanu Reeves interview

For those of you in Sydney; you’ll be able to read my interview with Keanu Reeves in Drum Media this week. In town to promote his new film Street Kings, the actor waxed lyrical about Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Point Break and having mud thrown at him at the Glastonbury Festival. He also talked about his next film; a remake of Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still. “It’s looking great,” he exclaimed, “I just finished filming that. It’s a great cast; Jennifer Connelly, Cathy Bates, myself, John Cleese and Jaden Smith. I think we did a good job; knock on wood. I didn’t jump in to make a remake of a classic, I worked with the writer and director almost two months and trying to get the script. I think we found a reason why to make it; we needed that story to tell our story. We’ve linked them up in a really good way. What Klatu is in the first film, what Klaatu is in the second and what gets spoken about?….and Gort’s around” he reassured me, “Klaatu Barada Nikto! he had to be, It would be like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without any peanut butter!”