Sunday, December 27, 2009

A look back at 2009

As 2009 draws to an end it has certainly been a crazy end to the decade. As publishers rise and fall is has been a tough time for the freelance writer so I have been thrilled with some of my recent collaborations.

The latest magazine to feature my work is InterAction; the new incarnation of the monthly Blockbuster Video magazine in which I review the latest DVD and Blu Ray releases. I have also contributed to as well as continuing my affiliations with Filmink, Drum Media, and

I have continued to review films and act as a producer on Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7 FM and have recently passed judgment on Where the Wild Things Are and Paranormal Activity. After a couple of weeks of specials we will be back on the air in the new year so stay tuned.

I've been lucky enough to interview the likes of John Woo, Let the Right One In director Tomas Alfredson, Pusher trilogy director Nicolas Winding Refn, Jason Bateman, Christophe Waltz, Diane Kruger & Kristen Bell. The biggest thrill, however, was reserved for my chance to chat with one of my favorite directors Quentin Tarantino. In Australia for Inglourious Basterds media junket we chatted about David Bowie, German cinema and gun totting film critics. His appearance at Popcorn Taxi's Dark Age screening was one of the highlights of the year.

My favorite films of the year were Let The Right One In, The Wrestler and Inglourious Basterds so it was an absolute pleasure to talk to many of the filmmakers involved those film. What 2010 will bring, who knows, but I have a big announcement I'll be able to make soon on a very exciting project I will be involved in. Keep em peeled for more news soon. Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Antichrist review on Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7 FM

Last week on Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7 FM I reviewed Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist. There are few films in recent memory that can match the harrowing experience of sitting in a theatre and watching Von Trier’s bloody, nauseating, disturbing nightmare. The director has claimed that the film was a guttural outpouring that screamed from his body after a period of deep depression and after watching the film clear almost half the audience at the screening I attended you do have to worry about the mental state of the director.

Telling the story of a couple who are traumatized by the death of their young child the film who dies while the couple are having sex. She, an amazing performance by Charlotte Gainsbourg, is grief stricken beyond belief. Her child killed as she was experiencing exquisite pleasure. He, played by Willem Dafoe, a physiologist by trade, takes his wife to a woodlands cottage, the place she is most terrified of to try and help her deal with the dark demons that have now overwhelmed her life.

The visuals are stunning from the over indulgent, black and white, slow motion operatic opening to the breathtaking creepy woodlands; this is one of the most visually beautiful films seen this year. This beauty, however, will be overshadowed by the unflinchingly grotesque denouement as the couples already fragile relationship turns to violence and self mutilation. For this reason Antichrist remains a very hard film to recommend. While it is a bravura piece of film making recalling Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible and Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession in terms of the effect sickening imagery; Von Trier pushes boundaries rarely scene and in one particular moment gives us a sickening cinematic first. Approach with caution, anyone easily offended stay away but if you are fascinated by cinema that takes it’s audience to the emotional limit, Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist is an extraordinary experience.

Monday, November 02, 2009

News update

Here's long overdue update of what has been happening over the last month or so. I was lucky to hit the red carpet for the Australian premiere of Couples Retreat and grabbed a few words with director Peter Billingsley and two of the films stars Kristen Bell and Jason Bateman. The full report appears at

My interview with Steven Sheil, the director of the deliciously grim Mum and Dad appears at as part of my regular blog. The festival team are currently running the inaugural Fantastic Planet Science Fiction Festival in Syndey. I'll be interviewing one of the festivals international guests Kurando Mitsukake, the director of Samurai Avenger: Blind Wolf.

Publication wise I have a large feature on the making of the Ozpolitation classic Turkey Shoot appearing soon in issue #162, my set report on the making of the Spierig brothers forthcoming Aussie vampire film Daybreakers will feature soon in Filmink and my first Top Ten has recently appeared at Rotten Tomatoes with a look at the Top Ten Angels and Demons in movies. Also check out the new look for my cult DVD reviews.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Moon review on Cinemascape - Eastside 89.7 FM

This week I produced the Cinemascape show on Eastside 89.7 FM. As well as discussion on Bruce Willis in Surrogates and Julie and Julia starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, the show featured my review of Duncan Jones’ amazing debut feature Moon starring Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey. Channeling Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Douglas Trumbull’s Silent Running and Peter Hyam’s Outland, Jones shows a supremely deft hand in depicting the frailty of the human spirit when faced with the total solitude of space. Using old school FX and winning performances from Sam Rockwell as his multiple selves, the focus is on story telling and characterisation rather than pyrotechnics and showy CGI and the restraint works wonders. One of the best films of the year and the finest science fiction film in recent memory. Moon is out of this world.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Che review on Cinemascape - Eastside 89.7 FM

This Thursday at 11:30am I'll be appearing on Eastside 89.7 FM's Cinemascape show. I'll be passing judgment on Steven Soderbergh's Che Parts One & Two starring Benicio Del Toro as Che Guevara, the Argentian revolutionary whose heroics in Cuba created a counterculture icon who's visage is still adorning T-Shirts to this day. Tune in to hear my review.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Anvil: The Story of Anvil

This Thursday I'll once again be producing Eastside 89.7 FM's Cinemascape show. This week will feature my review of the fabulous documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil plus discussion on Joe Wright's The Soloist starring Robert Downey Jnr and Jamie Foxx and the self proclaimed 'Rocky of our Generation' Fighting. Tune in at 11:30 am to listen to the show.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123

Tomorrow I'll once again be appearing on Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7 FM. On this weeks show I'll be reviewing Tony Scott's remake of the 70s classic The Taking of Pelham 123 starring John Travolta and Denzel Washington. The show also includes dicussion on The Young Victoria starring Emily Blunt and Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Inglorious Basterds review on the airwaves

This week I'll be producing Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7 FM. The show will include reviews of The September Issue and Balibo, recent winner of best film at the Brisbane Film Festival, and my thoughts on Quentin Tarantino's long awaited World War II epic Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino's men on a mission adventure will confound many; gun toting film critcs, double agent actresses and German Propaganda cinema are not normally found in war films but the director's love of cinema shines through in every frame. The performances from Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz and Mélanie Laurent are excellent and Tarantino's use of music, in particular classic Morricone cuts and Cat People (Putting Out the Fire) by David Bowie is masterful. As he says "This ain't your daddy's World War II movie," and Tarantino's multi lingual Macaroni Combat, while paying tribute to the likes of The Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare and Castellari's original Inglorious Basterds, is unlike any war movie you have seen before. The films opening scene, including a hommage to The Good, The Bad & the Ugly, and the now infamous bar scene are beautifully created steadily building tension while taking their time unfolding the plot. Inglorious Basterds may not have the instant pop culture quotability of Pulp Fiction but this is yet another brilliant addition to Tarantinos arsenal of work. To hear my review tune in this Thursday at 11:30AM.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Melbourne International Film Festival

I spent last weekend in Melbourne for MIFF; the Melbourne International Film Festival. The festival features three weeks of films including a plethora of controversial films, some that were shown and others that were pulled in a flurry of publicity.

Lars Von Triers Antichrist and Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs are almost guaranteed mass walk outs but more chaos was caused when Chinese hackers crashed the website escalating tensions over a visit here by Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled leader of the Uighur minority, who was featured in the documentary Ten Conditions of Love. Online bookings for the Melbourne International Film Festival had to be shut down after the site was bombarded with phony purchases which resulted in the entire program being sold out. This was after Looking For Eric was pulled by director Ken Loach protesting over the festival support of Israeli cinema.

Luckily I was there for a jam packed few days that kicked off with an enthralling interview with Nicolas Winding Refn; the director of the Pusher series and the film that won the prize at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, Bronson.

Duncan Jones’ Moon provided the first viewing pleasure of the trip and what a trip it was. Starring Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey, this is a beautifully judged piece of modern science fiction taking in elements of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Silent Running. The story of lunar loneliness and the fragility of mankind is an amazing debut feature. The performances, the script, the subtle use of FX, Clint Mansell’s excellent score; Moon is bound for top ten lists at the end of the year.

Then it was off to see the newly restored print of Richard Lowenstein's Dogs in Space starring the late Michael Hutchence. From the opening queue for Bowie tickets, the singer's 1978 Stage tour, to the final slow motion walk to the heaven bound limo, this was an entertaining blast from the past that vividly captured a moment in Australian post punk culture. The script was developed from Lowenstein's own experiences and the central character Sam is based on Sam Sejavka from the band The Ears, with whom Lowenstein lived in the 1970's. This was the only time that many of the band’s shown performing were ever captured on film and Hutchence stole every scene he was in, despite barely saying a word. After the screening Lowenstein joined star Saskia Post plus some of his original house mates including Sejavka.

The next day was Inglourious Basterds day starting with an interview with this year’s winner of best actor at the Cannes Film Festival, Christoph Waltz. After that I talked Bowie, pipes and Basterds with Tarantino himself and had a few words with Diane Kruger on the red carpet. The World War II epic, branded as Jewish revenge porn by one of the stars Eli Roth, is fantastic. Gun toting film critics, German propaganda cinema and double agent actresses don’t normally feature in your average war film but Tarantino works his script writing magic, in German and French, with his usual prowess. The opening scene and the now legendary bar meeting are perfectly judged examples of restraint as they ratchet up the tension. Waltz earned his best actor nod stealing the show as The Jew Hunter Col. Hans Landa and Brad Pitt has fun with Lt Aldo Raine, the head of the 'Basterds' on a mission to blow up a cinema frequented by the Führer and his Nazi cronies. How truthful it is to history you’ll have to see but as the director says, "My characters changed the outcome of the war, that didn't happen, because my characters didn't exist, but if they had existed, everything in the film is fairly plausible." Tarantino was interviewed on stage by comedian John Safran prior to the screening.

Finally we ended with the British ‘hoody’ horror Eden Lake starring Michael Fassbinder and Kelly Reilly. This was a fabulous little Brit horror film showing how grim it can get North of the River when the British youth push things too far.

My last day in Melbourne gave me a chance to have a chat with Jonathan Auf Der Heide, the director of Van Dieman’s Land, which I caught last month at the Sydney Film Festival. Keep posted for news of where my interviews will appear.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Public Enemies

This morning at 11:30am I produced Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7 FM. The show featured reviews of John Woo’s epic Red Cliff, Chéri reuniting director Stephen Frears and Michelle Pfeiffer and I passed judgment on Michael Mann’s excellent Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sydney Film Festival round-up

Here’s my long overdue round up of this year’s Sydney Film Festival, the event may have been reduced to 12 days but they certainly packed in a plethora of entertaining films to keep even the most discerning film goer satisfied in the cold Sydney Winter.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee featured an all star cast including Robin Wright Penn as the eponymous Pippa. It’s almost impossible to imagine how director Rebecca Miller could go wrong with line up including Alan Arkin, the stunning Monica Bellucci and Julianne Moore. The film was a gentle but entertaining journey through a fascinating life that had become stagnant. The film also coaxes a decent performance out of Keanu Reeves.

A Good Man was one of the huge surprises of the festival, one of those rare life affirming films that manages to be moving, poignant and hilarious. The documentary follows the life of Chris, a down to earth Aussie farmer whose wife Rachel suffers a stroke few weeks after they discover they are pregnant. Despite the fact that she loses all control of her body apart from her eyes the couple have get married, have children and continue a loving relationship. As his farm and finances take a plunge, however, he decides to invest a new project to raise money for his farm, he builds and opens a brothel.

The Canadian shocker Pontypool opened like a vintage John Carpenter film. Claustrophobic, brooding and ominous, the atmosphere created by director Bruce McDonald ratcheted up every inch of tension but unfortunately the film didn’t manage to maintain its grip. Set in small town radio station, the film follows the gradual discovery of a horrific, unseen, event taking place while Grant Mazzy broadcasts his morning show. As the shocking truth gradually reveals itself to the DJ and his production team, their panic is palpable until you actually discover what the truth is. It’s fair to say that the plots of most horror films often lean towards the ridiculous but for Pontypool it asks a huge leap of faith from the audience that just isn’t remotely believable and the film lost any tension it had built up.

As a huge fan of the Pusher trilogy, Bronson was on my must see list the moment I read through the festival program and it most certainly did not disappoint. From its astounding central performance to the breathtaking visuals created by the director this is the prison movie that Stanley Kubrick never made. The use of overwhelming classical cues, stark stately backgrounds and shocking moments of savage violence recall A Clockwork Orange as the story of Britain’s most violent criminal unfolds before you.

Although much of its thunder had been stolen by Lucky Miles director Michael James Rowland’s ABC telemovie The Final Confessions of Alexander Pearce, there was much to enjoy in Jonathan auf der Heide’s Van Diemens Land. Taking an ultra realistic approach and benefiting greatly from the beautiful cinematography of Ellery Ryan. Talking of stunning visuals Zift, made in Bulgaria, was beautiful to behold, despite its brutal subject matter. The stunning black and white photography filled up the scope framing with beautiful image after beautiful image and definitely benefited from being viewed on the big screen.

My favourite film of the festival so far was Michael Jai White and Scott Sanders’s Black Dynamite. The loving homage to the blackploitation genre of the 70s fused Superfly, Shaft and Dolemite and stuck it to the man with a hilarious comedy full of jive talking turkeys, afros, flares, kung fu. It’s the best spoof since the Zucker’s took flight with Airplane. Another hugely entertaining surprise was Gustave de Kervern & Benoît Delépine’s Louise Michel, a pitch black tale of murder, hitmen and two very lonely and bizarre characters drawn together when a angry group of usurped staff decide to hire a hitman to kill their ex-boss. The week did, however, end with two disappointments with Catheine Breillat’s turgid Bluebeard and David Caesar uninspiring Prime Mover. The latter a particular frustration as Michael Dorman and Emily Barclay both give their all in the lead roles.

Woo’s Red Cliff, is the biggest film ever made in China. With a storyline that moulded the country as we know it, this is a bravura piece of filmmaking. The final on screen battle, lasting over 45 minutes, is breathtaking, a flaming sea of fire, hundreds of extras, explosions, flying arrows, much slow motion heroism, throat slashing mayhem, blood letting galore and a cup of tea that changed the face of the country forever. A long heart felt project. Woo looked thrilled to be introducing the edited ‘Western’ version of the film, the Eastern version came in two parts running over 5 hours. As he told us on the red carpet, “Red Cliff is about the epic battle fort in China almost two thousand years ago. It’s a heroic adventure but it also has a theme of friendship, love and courage and that’s what we really need in movies nowadays.”

Pitch black comedy came in the unlikely form of Tony Manero. A Chilean film about a middle aged man obsessed with John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever. From taking part in a television look a like contest to hosting his own dance ‘spectacular’ he will stop at nothing to live his dream. When a cinema stops showing his favourite film and replaces it with Travolta’s other 70s dance sensation Grease he kills the projectionist. The film’s understated style and realistic performances only add to this off kilter comedy.

Teri Hatcher hit the red carpet to promote Henry Selick’s Coraline, working the press and keeping the hoards of autograph hunters happy. “I think it’s a classic fairy tale but at the same time it’s fresh, maybe even twisted. Coraline becomes a hero and a real role model as she has to save her family and bring them back together.” She adds, “I had a great time. Henry Selick, the director, is amazing; it was just a lot of fun. When I finally got to see it, I couldn’t believe I had a chance to be in it, I’m very proud.”

The winner of this year’s audience prize was Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Five Minutes in Heaven. Starring Liam Neeson and James Nesbit, the filmed followed two lives that were inextricably linked after a young member of the IRA cold bloodedly kills to make his name. Years later Neeson plays the murderer and Nesbit, the brother of the diseased. Both have demons to exorcise and a meeting is set up to be filmed for television. The film’s masterstroke is the exploration of how reality shows and interviews can deeply affect the subject. The performances, from both leads, are extraordinary and after the hiccup that was The Invasion, Hirschbiegel shows that Downfall was no flash in the pan.

Ted Kotcheff’s restored Wake in Fright was amazing on the big screen. Thought lost, since 1972, until it was found in a skip in Pittsburgh; the Canadian director’s harrowing look into Aussie life in the outback shows a side of the nations countrymen that most Aussies would like to forget existed. Kotcheff, the man who gave us First Blood and Weekend at Bernie’s was in attendance along with actor Jack Thompson and the films editor, the man who led a one man crusade to find the film, Tony Buckley. The trio also took part in a very entertaining interview session.

The last day was jam packed including the excellent Roman Polanski documentary Wanted & Desired and a complete screening of Steven Soderbegh’s Ché which has just been reviewed on this site. On the big screen the epic production thrills, exasperates, stuns and bores. Soderberg has to be commended for this mammoth undertaking and the scenes of guerrilla warfare are expertly executed. Del Toro was fabulous as the titular hero but you left the film feeling you still didn’t really know much about the man behind the face that launched a million T-Shirts in the 70s. A valiant effort but no Cuban cigar!

Dead Snow was a joy from beginning to end. Harking back to the gory days of early Sam Raimi and Pete Jackson; the film took a group of Norwegian twenty somethings and introduced them to a platoon of defrosted Nazi zombies. The juxtaposition of the bloody attacks and gratuitous plasma against the icy mountains and brilliant white snow was beautifully judged and with severed tongue firmly in cheek this was the perfect way to end the festival. Those not in the know headed to the State Theatre for the closing gala screening of An Education.

Quentin Tarantino heads down under

The arrival of Quentin Tarantino to Australian shores just gets more exciting by the minute. If the Australian premiere of Inglourious Basterds at MIFF wasn’t enough he has now joined forces with Popcorn Taxi for a very special event. He is bringing over his own print, in fact the only known in existence, of the Ozploitation killer crocodile classic Dark Age. He will introduce the screening and conduct a Q&A after the film with stars John Jarratt and Nikki Coghill. The event takes place on Tuesday August 4th in the art deco surroundings of the Cremorne Orpheum, for ticket details head to Talking of Melbourne International Film Festival I’ll be heading down to the city for the Inglourious Basterds premiere and will be having a few words with the great man as well as interviewing one of the film’s stars Christoph Waltz. Come back soon for lots more MIFF interview news.

Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince

This week on Cinemascape I'll be reviewing Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince; not that my opinion will have much effect in this instance as the film has been smashing box office records where ever it opens. The show also features reviews of My Life in Ruins with Nia Valdalos and The Escapist starring Brian Cox. Tune in to Eastside 89.7 fm at 11:30am this Thursday to listen to the show.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Today on Eastside 89.7fm I produced Cinemascape and reviewed Sasha Baron Cohen's Brüno. Once again delving into his comedic past, he now plays the flamboyant gay fashionista Brüno who aims to become the most famous Austrian since Hitler. As in Borat, Cohen is at his best when testing the often shocking views and values of those around him and despite myself I must admit I laughed all the way through. To go into anymore detail would spoil much of the humour, it is definitely one of those films you do not want to hear anything about before you see it. The show also featured reviews of documentary Every Little Step and Last Ride starring Hugo Weaving. It's been a busy few weeks and last week I forgot to post that I also reviewed the marvellous Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on the show.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Land of the Lost

Today marks the Australian release of Land of the Lost. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be part of the Land of the Lost press frenzy that took place before the film’s World Premiere in Sydney. In the afternoon I interviewed director Brad Silberling about the film and his previous work on Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Casper. He had only handed over the final film days before and was in high spirits prior to the main event. Then in the evening I walked the red carpet and entered the press pit to have a chat with the film’s star Will Ferrell who seemed thrilled to be part of the film, a remake of the old 70s TV show. “When I heard the premise that they were going to ignore the kitsch style special effects and go for the realistic ones and play the comedy off of those it sounded like a lot of fun to me.”

“It was Will,” pipes in Silberling. “At some point Will was talking to a couple of friends and he, like I, was an original viewer of the show. His manager and producing partner Jimmy Miller tried to sort out how to get the rights to the show to potentially adapt it. It was just circumstance that I got involved; Will and I have known each other for a very long time but have never worked together. I was writing a piece and had a role in mind for Will, we were just having lunch. He said OK, I want to talk to you about Land of the Lost. He wanted to make the movie and there was also a threatened SAG strike. I had been an avid watcher but hadn’t set eyes on the show for thirty five years. It was fantastic when he told me, I just started cracking up. My memory bank immediately refilled with the images that stayed with me. The concept of taking a comedic sensibility and then selfishly harnessing the elements of the show that we remembered was kind of fantastic.”

It’s obvious the pair have an innate love for the source material but after last weeks US box office results it seems that the money paying public are not wearing the same rose tinted glasses. It will be interesting to see if the casting of Ferrell had a detrimental effect on viewers but it seems that those who loved the show do not want to see the Old School comic messing with their childhood memories. Ferrell does, however, finish by talking about his proposed Sherlock Holmes project with Sasha Baron Cohen that you would have though would have run out of steam following the soon to be released escapades of Robert Downey Jr and Guy Ritchie, “We just met a couple of weeks ago, just trying to figure out if we can still do it. We have both been so busy so we probably wouldn’t have a chance to do something until next year.”

I also reviewed the film today on Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7 FM for anyone living in the Sydney area.

Check out & for more Land of the Lost.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Eternal Sunshine of the Academic Mind: Essays on Religion and Film

Some of you may remember I chaired a Q & A last year at the University of Sydney symposium entitled Eternal Sunshine of the Academic Mind. I was asked to write the epilogue for the recently published journal for the event on religion and cult films and it is now online at so please head to the site and check it out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


This Thursday at 11:30am I'll be producing Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7FM. This weeks show includes my review of the highly acclaimed Gomorrah along with discussion on Seth Rogan's Observe & Report and Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York. Tune in if you are the Sydney area.