Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Release Review: Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg, 2012)

Cosmopolis is the new film from veteran Canadian director David Cronenberg (The Fly, Crash). Having only directed Spider, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises over an 11-year stretch between 1999 and 2010, Cronenberg’s very disappointing A Dangerous Method, the story about the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the masters of psychoanalysis, hit cinemas earlier in the year. He has followed it up very promptly with an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel, Cosmopolis. Premiering at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival where it competed for the Palme d’Or, it received very mixed reviews.

This is completely understandable because this brooding, dialogue-heavy picture will appeal to very few people and makes itself near impossible to recommend to an audience unacquainted with the novel. If one is an admirer of DeLillo’s novel then this might be satisfying, but for this reviewer it failed to work as a film at all. I believe it is a near word-for-word adaptation, but it contains far more monotone exposition than is necessary to get the point across.

It is hardly riveting and is a confounding, boring and at times frustrating work, full of smug musings about the stench of capitalism and the decay of urban America, and laden with pretentious self-importance. Almost every sequence has the agenda of trying to tell the audience something or at least convince them that the idea being presented is important. It’s like an essay on screen. It is one of the weaker films I have seen not only from Cronenberg, but also of the year to date.

Monday, July 30, 2012

New Releases (02/08/12)

Hitting Australian cinemas this week are Cosmopolis, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Step Up Revolution, Jackpot and Beauty.

CosmopolisNew York City, not-too-distant-future: Eric Packer, a 28 year-old finance golden boy dreaming of living in a civilization ahead of this one, watches a dark shadow cast over the firmament of the Wall Street galaxy, of which he is the uncontested king. As he is chauffeured across midtown Manhattan to get a haircut at his father's old barber, his anxious eyes are glued to the yuan's exchange rate: it is mounting against all expectations, destroying Eric's bet against it. Eric Packer is losing his empire with every tick of the clock. Meanwhile, an eruption of wild activity unfolds in the city's streets. Petrified as the threats of the real world infringe upon his cloud of virtual convictions, his paranoia intensifies during the course of his 24-hour cross-town odyssey. Packer starts to piece together clues that lead him to a most terrifying secret: his imminent assassination.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterVisionary filmmakers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov reinvent the time-honored genre and present the terrifying creatures of the night as they were meant to be experienced -- as fierce, visceral, intense and bloodthristy. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter brings to the screen the secret life of our nation's favorite president...as history's greatest hunter of the undead.

JackpotAt a plastic Christmas tree factory in Norway, three dangerous ex-cons and their supervisor win 1.7 million kroner on the pools. As trust and friendship quickly dissolve, guns are loaded, knives are sharpened, and the division of the money begins. Like Headhunters it is based on a popular Jo Nesbo novel. If it is as good as that film it should be worth a look.

Step Up RevolutionThe next installment in the worldwide smash Step Up franchise, which sets the dancing against the vibrant backdrop of Miami. Emily (Kathryn McCormick) arrives in Miami with aspirations of becoming a professional dancer and soon falls in love with Sean (Ryan Guzman), a young man who leads a dance crew in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs, called "The Mob." When a wealthy businessman threatens to develop The Mob's historic neighborhood and displace thousands of people, Emily must band together with Sean and The Mob to turn their performance art into protest art, and risk losing their dreams to fight for a greater cause.

Weekly Recommendation: ??? I have only seen Cosmopolis (tonight) and certainly can't recommend it. What a disappointment. I have heard that Abe Lincoln is a bit of fun, though it will likely be as dumb as the premise suggests. Good luck finding a session not in 3D. Jackpot has potential, but I'm not sure where it is screening. Beauty did not impress a few friends of mine who saw it at the Sydney Film Festival, so I have little interest in seeing that. Margaret, The Dark Knight Rises, Magic Mike and A Royal Affair (having recently surpassed $1 million at the box office it is now screening in more locations) are the best films currently in cinemas.

Review: 40 Days At Base Camp (Dianne Whelan, 2011)

40 Days at Base Camp is screening as part of Possible Worlds Canadian Film Festival, which runs August 13-19.

Each year thousands of people arrive at base camp, set up at the bottom of the Khumbu glacier, with a common goal; to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world. This is done either through a corporately sponsored team or as an individual climber, and these brave men and women can expect to pay up to $100,000 for the experience.

In Dianne Whelan's beautifully photographed, insightful and inspiring documentary, 40 Days At Base Camp, we are given privileged access to this micro culture and introduced to a number of interesting personalities, including a base camp medical expert, a communications officer, a journalist, several very enlightened sherpas and a number of ambitious climbers (experienced and novice alike).

We are informed of the immense planning that goes into ensuring that the climbers are educated and equipped and all the necessary facilities are available for them at base camp. We also learn of some of the climbers' personal motivations, and their different spiritual interpretations of the Himalayas themselves and the thrilling and dangerous endeavour they are undertaking.

Monday Links (30/07/12)

So what happened this week? The olympics commenced, the TIFF galas and special presentations were announced, I got quoted, reviewed Magic Mike and contributed in the Movie Confessions Blog-a-thon.

Here are this week's links: 

Firstly, several congratulations. To Tom Clift (Movie Reviews by Tom Clift and MovieDex), Ryan McNeil (The Matinee) and Candice Frederick (Reel Talk Online) for their recent acceptance into the Online Film Critics Society.

Talented writer/director Alex Withrow (whose fantastic blog 'And So It Begins' is one of my favourites) has recently completed a very impressive new short film called EARRINGS. You can check it out here, and I highly recommend doing so.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter hits Australian cinemas this week, and Sam has the early scoop at An Online Universe. While you're there, be sure to check out a couple of guest reviews from Chris Elena (Eastern Promises) and Jordi Kerr (Bon Cop Bad Cop) for her awesome Canadian Film Month feature.

Nick takes a look at Ruby Sparks for Anomalous Material. Also take a look at his fantastic review of Beasts of the Southern Wild on his personal blog, Cinematic Romantico.

Michael Parent, also for Anomalous Material, lists his Top 10 Contemporary Westerns.

Joseph @ Black Sheep Reviews interviews the stars of Damsels In Distress, Analeigh Tipton and Adam Brody.

Bonjour Tristesse previews the 69th Venice Film Festival.

In Darkness has a tiny release here in Sydney. Thomas Caldwell reviews the film.

This is great. Sati looks at the 20 Best and 20 Most Embarrassing Moments in Nolan's Batman Movies So Far. With her usual style and wit, too.

This made me laugh too.

Cherokee, whose personal blog was Feminising Film, has a new url - http://isaidcanyoudigit.blogspot.com.au/ and a new site name, Can You Dig It?

I need to catch up with some Bunuel. Anna reviews Belle De Jour.

Sam @ Duke and the Movies reviews Being Flynn which apparently has some strong work from Robert De Niro. 

Andrew offers up a new instalment of 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' - The Royal Tenenbaums.

Corey reflects on his childhood and the movies he watched. 

Last but not least, Stevee takes a look back at 2011 and her 20 Favourite Films.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Upcoming Release Review: Bernie (Richard Linklater, 2012)

Bernie, distributed through Madman Entertainment, hits Australian cinemas August 16.

Bernie, the latest film from writer-director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise/Sunset), is a fascinating tale based on events that seem too outrageous to be true. Linklater, through an equal dose of sensitivity and respect and exploitative humour - and this can be realised brilliantly in the film's concluding courtroom sequences - deftly crafts one of the most surprising and effortlessly entertaining black comedies of the year out of a somewhat morbid and shocking case of true crime.

Fuelled by a complex and nuanced performance from Jack Black, career-best work, and hilarious support from an in-form Matthew McConaughey and a tantrum-throwing Shirley MacLaine, the intelligent screenplay by Linklater and Skip Hollandsworth features an obscure blend of cinematic technique (scripted narrative intercut with interviews with residents of Carthage about Tiede, Nugent and the story) and shape-shifting genre, Bernie is a rewarding example of offbeat mockumentary filmmaking.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Skyfall: James Bond 007 'Aston Martin' Video Blog

In this video you can see director Sam Mendes and producer Michael G. Wilson discuss the role of the Aston Martin DB5, James Bond's classic car, in Skyfall.

Daniel Craig is back as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 in Skyfall, the 23rd adventure in the longest-running film franchise of all time. Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her.  As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

2012 marks the 50th Anniversary of the James Bond franchise, and Skyfall has a scheduled release for November 22.

Movie Confessions Blog-a-thon

The fantastic Nostra at Myfilmviews has created an ingenious idea for a new blogathon, called the Movie Confessions blogathon. The idea is that the participants confess things about the movies they might have kept secret for a long time.

Name a classic movie you don't like/can't enjoy and why?

Scarface - The epitome of excess. The main problem I had with the film is the fact that my invested interest in the story greatly waned following the half way mark. As soon as Montana experiences his first taste of wealth, and sees a window to take what he has proven to the next level, he becomes increasingly unlikeable. The film becomes repetitive, takes disengaging tangents (the whole story with his sister could have been cut) and it is ultimately tedious and irritating. Having now seen this film twice, I have been disappointed both times. I was actually pretty optimistic for a while there, because the infamous chainsaw sequence holds up pretty well, but I can honestly confess I don’t much care for it.

Name ten classic movies you haven't seen yet.

Sunrise (1927), King Kong (1933), Mr Smith Goes To Washington (1939), The Rules of the Game (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and Ikiru (1952).

Have you ever snuck into another movie at the cinema?

Yes. When I was younger my friends and I never tried it, and I have been working at cinemas for several years now so I have never even considered it. BUT, I did sneak into The Thing directly after watching The Cup last year. The Thing was not the worst film I watched that day. I needed something...anything...to eliminate the latter film from memory.

What actor/actress do you think is overrated?

Hmm. Danny Huston and Dennis Quaid. Danny Huston is always forgettable. He always plays the same characters - a conniving and untrustworthy friend whose transformation into the villain is supposed to be a dramatic twist. Dennis Quaid is a terrible actor. I love Any Given Sunday, but that doesn't disguise Quaid. Oh, and following The Dark Knight Rises I was reminded just how bad Matthew Modine is too.

From which big director have you never seen any movie (and why)?

Yashujiro Ozu. I can't remember ever seeing one of his films available to rent a video store. Accessibility mostly.

Which movie do you love, but is generally hated?

I can't say I love House of 1000 Corpses or Speed Racer, but I enjoyed them. They got slammed and are mostly despised.

Have you ever been "one of those annoying people" at the cinema?

Potentially. During Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides I was so bored I whipped out my phone and started playing with it. Quite ashamed. Also, I watched Wall Street 2 in Gold Class and having consumed a bottle of wine with my girlfriend at the time, my scoffs of disapproval were loud-ish.

Did you ever watch a movie, which you knew in advance would be bad, just because a specific actor/actress was in it? Which one and why?

I knew Cowboys and Aliens would be bad, but I needed a film where I didn't have to think and figured a film starring both Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford might be salvaged by their work. No. Actually, I knew The Thing would be bad, and subconsciously I think I watched it for Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who I like.

Did you ever not watch a specific movie because it had subtitles?

No way.

Are there any movies you have in your collection for five years and haven't watched?

No, not over that period of time. I bought Black Snake Moan for some reason and watched it once, and never again. That would be four years ago at least. I have not watched Moon since I bought it either. It is still in the wrapping. Close to two years ago, I'd say.

Which are the worst movies in your collection and why do you still own them?

I own The Matrix Reloaded and Harsh Times. I don't get rid of DVDs and usually buy great films that I enjoy watching. I have very few films I regret buying.

Do you have any confessions about your movie watching setup at home?

I watch films on my laptop sometimes.

Any other confessions you want to make?

Here's a confession I am proud to admit. I love David Fincher's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and have watched it three times this year (twice in a cinema and once on DVD). More than any other film so far.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Exciting News

So, this happened yesterday.

My five star review of Holy Motors, which is my favourite film of the year so far, was quoted on one of the promotional standees for the film. It features quite prominently too. Richard Haridy, a contributing writer for Quickflix Blog, and Richard Gray, editor of The Reel Bitswere also quoted.

"A masterfully crafted, visually dazzling, wildly inventive and provocative work of art. So bizarre one can't help but remain glued to the screen. An absolute blast."

Holy Motors hits cinemas August 23 on a limited release. It caused a stir at Cannes, it received rousing applause at SFF, and is soon to be screening at NZFF and MIFF. Be sure to make an effort to see it. You won't have seen anything like it before, and you certainly won't forget it. I can't wait to see it again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

22 Unscheduled MIFF Screenings I'd Like To Attend

The 2012 MIFF lineup is enormous. Thankfully, I saw a bunch of films at the Sydney Film Festival earlier in the year  - and can highly recommend checking out Holy Motors, Monsieur Lazhar, Undefeated, Amour, Caesar Must Die, Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Killer Joe, Liberal Arts + Neighbouring Sounds if you get the chance - and have fourteen films on my SCHEDULE for my five day visit to Melbourne.

But, there are a heap of great films I will not get the chance to see, so here are ten from the 'International Panorama' programme that interest me and I will endeavour to see over the next 12 months:

Almayer's Folly - Atmospheric, subversive and impeccably controlled, Almayer’s Folly continues Chantal Akerman’s (Jeanne Dielman, MIFF 79; Night and Day, MIFF 92) lifelong pursuit of a new form of cinematic language. In the stifling jungles of Malaysia an avaricious Dutch merchant named Almayer tries to find his fortune. But when his plans collapse, he’s left with little but a loveless marriage and a land that despises him. The only point of light in his life is his half-caste daughter, Nina, but when he sends her away so that she can become more “white”, the abandonment will have ramifications far greater than expected. A work of strange ellipsis and hypnotic pacing, Almayer’s Folly drags Conrad’s work forcefully into the 21st century, finding in it a poetic beauty and a potent, new colonial resonance.

Damsel's In Distress - Violet (Greta Gerwig) is a sweet-natured, eccentric sophomore at a recently co-ed New England campus. Along with her friends Rose, Heather and Lily, Violet has grand ideas about improving the lives of her fellow students by making over the college’s boorish male population while inventing a new dance craze. Traipsing like loopy Jane Austen characters through their romantic dalliances, the girls dispense doughnuts, dance tips and witty dialogue in this peculiarly screwball comedy of errors. Damsels in Distress is venerated director Whit Stillman’s first big-screen outing in 13 years, following 90s indie hits Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco. Premiering at the 2011 Venice Film Festival, it takes his characteristic concern with the manners and mannerisms of the young bourgeoisie to surreal new heights.

Shadow Dancer - Oscar-winning filmmaker James Marsh (Man on Wire, MIFF 08; Project Nim, MIFF 11) returns with a fictional feature in this nail-biting thriller. Starring Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough and The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson, Shadow Dancer sees a single mother, Collette, living in Belfast with her hardline IRA brothers. When Collette is arrested for her part in a bomb plot, an MI5 officer brokers her a deal: lose everything and go to prison or return home and spy on your family. In a carefully considered manner, Marsh reveals a talent for building drama, tension and plot, without falling back on unnecessary exposition.

Sleepless Night - Vincent appears to be a committed family man, but scratch the surface and there’s a darker side to this cop’s life. He has a huge quantity of stolen cocaine, which has landed him in a web of shady dealings and shadier characters. Over the course of one relentless night in a sprawling club, he must return the stash and save his son from murderous kidnappers. This taut thriller from Frédéric Jardin made waves on the festival circuit – so much so that there is already an American remake in the works – and with the film’s dizzying cinematography, magnetic performances and never-let-up pace it’s set to enthral audiences worldwide.

Beyond The Hills - When twenty-something Alina arrives in Moldavia to remove her childhood friend Voichita from an Orthodox monastery, she doesn’t reckon on the unyielding force of religion and devout Voichita’s choice of God over Alina brings their relationship to a physical and moral crisis. In his first feature since the Palme d’Or-winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (MIFF 07), gifted Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s unsettling psychological drama is based on the reports of a BBC correspondent who exposed an exorcism case at a Moldavian monastery in 2005. Winning the Best Screenplay award at Cannes and drawing excellent performances from his first-time lead actors (who shared the Best Actress gong at Cannes), Mungiu tackles some major themes with an unhurried pace and cinematography that depicts the harsh environment with a spare yet beautiful naturalism.

Sister - Twelve-year-old Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) lives with his unemployed older sister Louise (Léa Seydoux) in near poverty in the valley below a wealthy Swiss ski resort. To support them both, he travels daily to the “white gold” of the mountain where he steals from cashed-up tourists, including Kristin (Gillian Anderson). But things get complicated when Simon joins forces with a dodgy seasonal worker – threatening the siblings’ fragile relationship. Actor Klein was first seen in director Ursula Meier’s Home (MIFF 09), for which he won the Swiss Film Prize for Best Emerging Actor. Together with Seydoux, the two have again delivered a moving, assured film that echoes the emotional power of the Dardenne brothers (The Kid With a Bike, MIFF 11).

Modest Reception - Filmmaker Mani Haghighi (Men At Work, MIFF 07) fills the multiple roles of producer, writer, director and actor in this absurdist provocation about a rich couple distributing plastic bags of money in the Iranian provinces. Haghighi plays Kaveh, handsome and possibly a touch mad. Taraneh Alidoosti, who also appeared with Haghighi in the revered About Elly (MIFF 09), is his partner in a seemingly duplicitous game of humiliation disguised as an act of charity. Moving cleverly from the comedic to the chilling, the film teases both the audience and its ‘victims’ from start to finish in a mission that gets increasingly bizarre and shocking. Winner of the NETPAC prize at this year’s Berlinale.

The Sessions - Mark (John Hawkes, Martha Marcy May Marlene, MIFF 11) has polio and wants to lose his virginity before his impending death. Being a religious man, Mark confides in Father Brendan (William H Macy) about his desires. The priest assures him God will “look the other way” when Mark seeks the aid of a ‘sex surrogate’ (Helen Hunt). Based on the real-life events of respected American writer Mark O’Brien, The Sessions is a heart-warming film about the need for closeness. The performances, dialogue and naturalistic portrayal of bodies add to a sense of feel-good realism that made it a smash-hit at Sundance, where it won the Audience Award (US Dramatic) and a Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting. With The Sessions, Melbourne-bred director Ben Lewin (The Favour, The Watch and the Very Big Fish, MIFF 92; Hollywood Gold, MIFF 03) has given us a tender, graceful film about emotional growth, anchored by extraordinary performances from Hawkes and Hunt.

The Intouchables - Clashing cultures and classes come to the fore in certain crowd-pleaser The Intouchables, a comedic consideration of contrasts. When wealthy, white quadriplegic Phillippe (François Cluzet, Paris) hires morally dubious Senegalese immigrant Driss (Omar Sy, Micmacs) to care for him, their differences are pronounced, yet a slow but certain friendship soon develops. In bringing the true story of such a bond to the screen, writer-directors Eric Toledano (Those Happy Days) and Olivier Nakache break down traditional boundaries of status, race, personality and disability. Uplifting and exuberant, it probes uncomfortable clichés while combining well-crafted performances with humour and heart. After breaking box office records in France and across Europe, this delightful, compassionate film received nine César award nominations, with Sy emerging triumphant in the best actor category over The Artist’s Jean Dujardin.

Jayne Mansfield's Car - Actor Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade) takes his seat in the director’s chair after nearly a decade with this Southern Gothic ensemble melodrama set in 1969 and influenced by the theatre of Tennessee Williams. At the core of the film is the theme of war, as well as a different kind of battlefield – that between fathers and sons coming to blows over military service and 60s counterculture. Thornton and his co-writer Tom Epperson (with whom he wrote 1992’s One False Move) explore this conundrum through the culture-clash of two rival families: one firmly entrenched in Alabama, and the other a stiff upper-lipped British clan. The film features a formidable cast of Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, John Hurt, Frances O’Connor, Ray Stevenson, Shawnee Smith, Robert Patrick and – of course – Billy Bob Thornton himself.

And here's twelve more from the 'Accent on Asia', 'Next Gen' and 'Night Shift' Programmes (after the jump):

'A Royal Affair' Takes Princely Sum at the Box Office

Courtesy of Madman Entertainment.

In its fifth week of release, Danish film A ROYAL AFFAIR has passed $1 million at the Australian box office, currently sitting on $1,105,727. A ROYAL AFFAIR is the highest grossing Danish language film ever released in Australia, and one of only two foreign language films released locally this year to pass the $1 million mark.

Madman Entertainment is thrilled with the film’s success in a year which has been highly congested with a number of large blockbuster releases. Madman Managing Director Paul Wiegard commented “We are thrilled with the way in which this film has enchanted local audiences. It is proof that captivating stories driven by bold performances can strike a chord with cinema-goers regardless of language barriers.”

With audiences still attending in high numbers the box office total is expected to grow substantially over the coming weeks as excellent audience word of mouth continues to spread, following on from rave reviews across a number of media publications.

The box office success of A ROYAL AFFAIR comes on the back of its world premiere at the 62nd Berlin Film Festival, where it won two Silver Bear Awards, one for Best Script and another for Best Actor (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard).

If you are yet to see A ROYAL AFFAIR, it is an excellent period drama and will continue to screen at Palace (Norton St. and Verona) and Dendy (Opera Quays) cinemas, amongst others, in Sydney next week.

2012 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Lineup Announced

This morning, Piers Handling, CEO and Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, made the first announcement of films to premiere at the 37th TIFF. The announced films include 17 Galas and 45 Special Presentations, including 38 world premieres. Here is a rundown of the galas and the films that will be shown.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6 to 16.


"A Royal Affair" (Nikolai Arcel) - North America Premiere

"Argo" (Ben Affleck) - World Premiere

"The Company You Keep" (Robert Redford) - North America Premiere

"Dangerous Liasons" (Hur Jin-ho) - North America Premiere

"English Vinglish" (Gauri Shinde) - World Premiere

"Free Angela and All Political Prisoners" (Shola Lynch) - World Premiere

"Great Expectations" (Mike Newell) - World Premiere

"Hyde Park on Hudson" (Roger Mitchell) - World Premiere

"Inescapable" (Ruba Nadda) - World Premiere

"Jayne Mansfield's Car" (Billy Bob Thornton) - North American Premiere

"Looper" (Rian Johnson) - World Premiere *OPENING NIGHT FILM*

"Love, Marilyn" (Liz Garbus) - World Premiere

"Midnight Children" (Deepa Mehta) - World Premiere

"The Reluctant Fundamentalist" (Mira Nair) - North American Premiere

"The Silver Linings Playbook" (David O. Russell) - World Premiere

"Thermae Romae" (Hideki Takeuchi) - North American Premiere

"Twice Born" (Sergio Castellitto) - World Premiere

Special Presentations (After The Jump)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Release Review: Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh, 2012)

Magic Mike, distributed through Roadshow Entertainment, has an Australian release scheduled for July 26.

Magic Mike, written by Reid Carolin and directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven, Contagion), one of the most prolific filmmakers in the business, is a stylish character study and backstage insider into the multiple personalities and generations of the male stripper industry.

19 year-old Adam (Alex Pettyfer), after moving to Tampa, Florida to live with his sister, Brooke (Cody Horn), meets Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) at a local construction job. It is revealed that Adam has a temper, having wasted a football scholarship after a run-in with his coach, and quits the construction job after a single day because of an argument. Mike drops Adam off at home, expecting to never see him again. Later that night, Adam spots Mike in line waiting to enter a popular nightclub. Adopting him as his wingman, Mike gets Adam in the door and introduces him to his lifestyle.

He is a stripper known as 'Magic Mike' who works for a troupe of dancers known as Xquisite, managed by Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). After being convinced to fill in for an indisposed team member, Adam is a surprise hit with customers, and having been given the nickname "The Kid", joins Xquisite. Mike takes Adam under his wing, schooling him in the arts of picking up women and making easy money, while a blossoming relationship develops between him and Brooke. Ultimately, it is not all smooth sailing for Adam as the seduction of this sultry new lifestyle results in some poor decision-making and threatens his friendship with Mike.

New Releases (26/07/12)

There are five films released Australia-wide on August 26th, arriving in the shadow of The Dark Knight Rises. They are: Magic Mike, LOL, In Darkness, Sleep Tight and If We All Lived Together.

Magic MikeSet in the world of male strippers, Magic Mike is directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven, Contagion) and stars Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street) in a story inspired by his real life. The film follows Mike (Tatum) as he takes a young dancer called The Kid (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing and schools him in the fine arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money. Also stars Matthew McConaughey in what some have claimed to be an Oscar-worthy performance. Vibrant & stylistically inventive but above all a layered/moving character study. A look at multiple personalities/generations of the male stripper industry - the ageless maverick, the talent who wants out, and the youngster seduced by the world. McConaughey is outstanding (again) and Tatum impresses. Review up later today.

LOLAn authentic story that perfectly captures coming of age in today's digital world, LOL is a remake of the hugely popular 2008 French film LOL (Laughing Out Loud). Starting a new year of high school, Lola (Miley Cyrus), (or "Lol," as her friends call her), works to find the right balance between family, school, friends and romance. Broken-hearted by her ex, Lol's world is soon turned upside down when she is surprised to find her best friend, Kyle (Douglas Booth), a musician in an up and coming rock band, could possibly be the love of her life. In her quest towards independence, self-identity and young adulthood, Lol discovers that while Facebook "status" is easy to change; true relationships are worth the effort.

In DarknessFrom acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland, In Darkness is based on a true story. Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief in Lvov, a Nazi occupied city in Poland, one day encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the liquidation of the ghetto. He hides them for money in the labyrinth of the town's sewers beneath the bustling activity of the city above. What starts out as a straightforward and cynical business arrangement turns into something very unexpected, the unlikely alliance between Socha and the Jews as the enterprise seeps deeper into Socha's conscience. The film is also an extraordinary story of survival as these men, women and children all try to outwit certain death during 14 months of ever increasing and intense danger. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2011 Academy Awards.

Sleep TightAn embittered concierge at a Barcelona apartment building plots to make one happy-go-lucky resident completely miserable in this psychological thriller from [REC] and [REC 2] co-screenwriter/co-director Jaume Balaguero. Marcos is a wretched man who subsists on the pain of others. Though the residents rarely take notice of him, Marcos furtively observes of every intimate detail of their lives, seething at the first signs of optimism and cheerfulness. Carefree tenant Clara King is far too perky for Marcos; the happier she gets, the deeper her doorman sinks into despair. In order to be happy, Marcos realizes, Clara will have to suffer. Though at first Marcos ' plan to torment Clara from afar goes off without a hitch, things start to fall apart when the scheming doorman gets too confident for his own good. Just as Clara begins to suspect that her curious bad luck streak may be coming to an end, however, Marcos summons all of his strength and resentment to deliver one last devastating blow. Screened as part of this month's Spanish Film Festival.

Weekly Recommendation: Magic Mike, contrary to what the marketing suggests (and it makes sense to headline Tatum's dance moves as the draw-card to attract female audiences), is a layered character study and is actually quite moving. Sleep Tight is an excellent psychological thriller; features a creepy protagonist and villain and delivers suspense in spades. In Darkness is a Holocaust story and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. I'd say it is worth a look, but its release is very limited.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Sacha Gervasi, 2009)

Anvil! The Story of Anvil tells the extraordinarily moving and rousing story of Canadian heavy metal band, Anvil; a band who were once huge and whom many called "the demi-gods of Canadian metal" and believed would "turn the metal world upside down" and ended up falling into obscurity and all-but forgotten. It is puzzling that they never became as famous as those they inspired. 

The story focuses on the two founding members, singer and guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner, who are still friends through thick and thin and now into their 50’s. There is footage of Lips celebrating his 50th birthday by doing what he loves most; entertaining his fans. This wild pair has never broken a childhood pact, to remain metal brothers forever. They still rock out like its 1985, somewhat oblivious to the changing music trends, and have never given up on the dream of the next big break.

Director and one time roadie of the band, Sacha Gervasi, sensitively explores the daily lives of these men - they balance their day jobs (Steve drives trucks for Children's Choice Catering and Robb is in construction and has a passion for art as nearly as strong as his one for music) with night gigs at their local sports bar – as well as their musical ambition and talents, their consistently tumultuous friendship and Steve's never-surrendered desire to give the world something else for the band to be remembered by. 

Having never achieved the greatness that was expected of them as a headlining band during the mid-80’s, Anvil have now relegated to local shows for their tiny group of dedicated fans. But, with setback after setback, they seem to have one final chance to return to their past glory. Will their courage pay off? Balancing humour and pathos, the crazy situations they find themselves in when touring Europe and recording their 13th album are unforgettable and Anvil tells a story so bizarre it feels like it can't be true.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Trailer: The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)

It has been a big week for fans of PTA and those anticipating his new film, The Master.

Earlier in the week the first official poster was released, and now we have a full-length trailer. If you have missed it so far, here it is:

Friday, July 20, 2012

2012 Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA) Line-up Revealed

From the 2012 KOFFIA website:  
The 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia, KOFFIA, is pleased to announce its film line-up for 2012. 
KOFFIA will showcase 20 of the best and latest Korean feature films as well as a few past classics, in a diverse program that will allow audiences to discover their connection to Korean cinema and culture. Audiences will once again be treated to a feast of Korean festivities taking place at Dendy Opera Quays in Sydney and ACMI Cinemas Federation Square in Melbourne. While for the first time selected titles will also screen at Tribal Theatre in Brisbane, as August and September sees 16 days of screenings across the Australian east coast. 
The festival will open in Sydney on August 22nd with the Australian premiere of the highest grossing Korean film of 2011, WAR OF THE ARROWS. Set during the second Manchu Invasion of Korea, the action packed epic follows Nam-yi, a young archer who must save his little sister from slavery and avenge his demolished village. The film won a plethora of prizes awarded to great performances by Park Hae-il, Ryoo Seung-ryong and new comer Moon Chae-won.  
A week later, the festival will close with the Australian premiere of SUNNY, a warm nostalgic comedy revolving around a group of middle age women who reminisce about the fun and adventures of their childhood. Director Kang Hyeong-cheol, who picked up the Best Director prize from the 48th Daejong Film Awards, will be in attendance to present his film. 
Sunny and War of the Arrows are two of the films screening as part of the newly added Panorama programme of the festival. This section focuses on the latest critically acclaimed and commercially successful films from Korea. Also included in this section are the Cannes pair, Im Sang-soo's The Taste of Money and Hong Sang-soo's In Another Country.

In the Modern Classics programme, Park Chan-wook's Oldboy is screening, while Korea's first film to screen in competition at the Sydney Film Festival, The King of Pigs, will be screening as part of the Animations programme.

Here is the full line-up:


War of the Arrows (2011)

Sunny (2011)

The Frontline (2011)

Late Blossom (2011)

The Taste of Money (2012)

In Another Country (2012)

The Day He Arrives (2011)

 Modern Classics
 Oldboy (2003)

Christmas in August (1998)

Spring Summer Autumn Winter… and Spring (2003)


Leafie: A Hen Into the Wild (2011)

The King of Pigs (2011)


Arirang (2011)

The Reason Why I Step (2011)


The Client (2011)

Bleak Night (2010)

Silenced (2011)


All About My Wife (2012)

Speedy Scandal (2008)

Detective K: Secret of the Virtuous Widow (2011)

Tickets will go on sale 3 weeks prior to the festival in each state. It’s time to discover your connection! For more information, visit the website: http://koffia.com.au/

First Poster for PTA's 'The Master' Unveiled

Here on The Film Emporium, I have been covering news about Paul Thomas Anderson's upcoming film, The Master - you can also find the teaser trailer, and the first trailer, both individually awesome - and this includes the recent unveiling of the first official poster. Courtesy of Graffiti With Punctuation.


The Master is PTA's follow up to There Will Be Blood, which is one of my favourite films. Needless to say, The Master is my most anticipated film, currently.

The film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as World War II veteran Lancaster Dodd, who’s haunted by his experiences, and decides to form his own religion as a result.  Joaquin Phoenix plays a drifter who becomes Dodd’s right-hand man. Also stars Amy Adams.

The Master has a U.S release scheduled for October 12. The Aussie release date is yet to be announced, I believe.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Release Review: The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, 2012)

The most-anticipated blockbuster of the summer (and this has been a summer that has offered up plenty of anticipation in The Avengers and Prometheus) has arrived. The hype surrounding this film has been near-deafening, and considering the career of writer/director Christopher Nolan to date – many fans claim he has already made the superhero film that will never be topped in The Dark Knight – he was under pressure to come up with something suitably epic to round out his trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises is not a perfect film - it has issues, and from a narrative perspective, it is a mess - but this breathtaking sensory experience is a beast of a movie. It is an epic cinematic experience in every conceivable way.

The film kicks off eight years since Batman vanished into the night at the end of The Dark Knight. Once Gotham’s spiritual symbol and hero, he becomes a wanted fugitive after assuming the blame for the death of Gotham’s White Night, D.A Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Batman sacrificed everything for the sake of his city – and even Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) has struggled to keep the secret - and most of the city’s criminal activity has been abolished under the anti-crime Dent Act. This act is never really explained, but the city’s criminals are now behind bars and the city is in a state of ‘peace time’.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), now in self-imposed exile in his mansion, feels it is required to return to Gotham as the caped crusader when a mysterious cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) breaks into his vault and dusts for his fingerprints, and a masked terrorist known as Bane (Tom Hardy) enters Gotham with unknown intentions and a small army, setting up base in the underground sewer system.

Bane attempts to take control of Wayne Enterprises by way of an investor, Daggett (Ben Mendolsohn), and utilize the company's most impressive piece of equipment by transforming it into a nuclear bomb, in a ruthless and escalating plan that will threaten the entire city. When Wayne learns of Bane’s past ties to Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) and The League of Shadows, he realizes his only hope against him is to utilize every ally he can. Newcomers, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt) are amongst them, along with old hats, Gordon and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).

Review: Indie Game: The Movie (James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot, 2012)

Indie Game: The Movie, directed by Canadian filmmakers James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot, is an entertaining, involving, touching and inspiring documentary feature, and a winner of the World Cinema Documentary Film Editing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. It is an insightful look at the journey that several independent game developers - who sacrifice money, health, sanity and years of their lives to realize their dreams - take to share their creative visions and the latest gaming sensation with the world.

The film documents the struggles of Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes during the development of Super Meat Boy, Phil Fish, during the development of Fez, and Jonathan Blow, who reflects on the success of his Xbox Live Arcade game, Braid.

Like The King of Kong (2007) this is an insightful look into a tiny subculture frequently overshadowed by the industry big guns (large-scale productions like GTA and Call of Duty), and largely unknown to anyone other than serious gamers. It is a fantastic initiation into this tiny world, as these talented individuals toil away at their art, but faced with financial limitations and significant emotional investment.

Indie Game transcends the subject by offering up genuine heroes. They are eccentrics – the auteurs of the gaming world – but they remain interesting and dedicated people. They work extremely hard for something they are passionate in, hit obstacles and face shattered dreams, but endure through it all. It is inspiring.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Goon (Michael Dowse, 2011)

"I don't play much hockey" - Ross Rhea

Goon, screening as part of next month's Possible Worlds Canadian Film Festival in Sydney, is a film that took me by surprise. For some reason this story about a regular guy; a bar bouncer from Massachusetts with no hockey experience, who becomes a newsworthy sensation because of his unique ability to hit hard and protect his teammates from opposing thugs, works in more ways than you would expect. Especially for a film written that is co-written by Jay Baruchel (along with Evan Goldberg, Superbad, Pineapple Express) and stars Seann William Scott (American Pie).

Michael Dowse directs this enjoyable, intermittently shocking and fast-paced sports comedy and character study, serving up plenty of rowdy laughs, a solid dose of exciting hockey action and bone-crunching brutality in equal measure.

Doug Glatt (Scott) is not a smart man. He’s a kind-hearted but dimwitted individual who has accepted that his role in life is to bounce at his local bar and protect and serve. He has rescinded to the fact that he will never be anything more, despite a desire to become something his father (Eugene Levy, American Pie), a doctor, would be proud of. To him, Doug is a maladjusted disappointment.

When Doug attends a minor hockey league game with his friend Pat (Jay Baruchel, She's Out of My League), a hockey nut with his own video blog, Doug finds himself in the spotlight after knocking out a player from the visiting team who climbs into the stands to beat up a taunting Pat. Soon after, Doug gets a call from the coach of his hometown team and is offered a job as an enforcer. His role: deter rough opponents and protect his teammates.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Links (16/07/12)

This week has been busy. Lots of work, and lots of time devoted to arranging my trip to MIFF next month, and not many reviews. Sometimes its good to take a break. Here is my desired MIFF schedule, and here is a link to the full line-up

I also saw Margaret on Friday night. It is now in my Top 10 of 2012 so far.

During the week I also re-watched Taxi Driver, and watched Once Upon A Time in the West for the first time. I doubt I will see two better films this month.

In the lead-up to The Dark Knight Rises, I also re-watched Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. As expected, TDK did not hold up well. Plagued with issues, the only sequences I really enjoyed are those featuring Heath Ledger, whose performances is far and above the rest of the film. On the big screen it was undoubtedly one of the best cinematic experiences to come out in recent blockbuster years, but on DVD (removing the excellent spectacle), with the film's convoluted and confusing narrative (there really isn't much of a story), plot contrivances, and that disappointing final third, it doesn't engage me anymore. So, I am moderately anticipating The Dark Knight Rises, but not going berserk with anticipation.

On with this week's top articles:

My attention was just brought to this article on Margaret by David Edelstein. If you have seen the film and looking forward to the Director's Cut, it is worth a read.

Alex @ And So It Begins contributes a list of his Top 10 Oliver Stone Films to Top 10 Films. His selections at #1 and #2 match my own. Alex also takes a look at Steven Soderbergh's Ploy For Naturalism.

Jessica looks at her favourite Mountain Trekking Movies. I have never seen Alive. I remember it was always playing on television. At least once a year.

This is one for Australian residents only, but Richard Gray at The Reel Bits has copies of 50/50 to give away. No one in Australia got to see this film, so its an excellent opportunity to pick up a copy of this very well-received and Oscar-nominated film.

Steven takes a look at both version of Insomnia. Here's his thoughts on Nolan's. I think it is one of his best films.

Ryan reviews Welcome to the Dollhouse. Todd Solondz has scarred me for life with Happiness.

I like Seth Rogenand Simon, who writes at Quickflix Blog, shares his Top 10 Performances. I have not seen the film he has selected at #1 but Rogen's work in Knocked Up is his best in my opinion.

Sati makes some interesting visual parallels between Young Adult and Mulholland Drive.

Vinny @ We Talk About Movies lists his Top 10 Movies of 2012 (So Far). I am actually seeing a couple of his top choices shortly.

And finally, Sam shares his thoughts on Woody Allen's new film, To Rome With Love. 

Hope everyone has a great week.

Sydney Red Carpet Premiere of 'The Sapphires' Announced

Following international triumph at the Cannes International Film Festival and the Opening Night celebration screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival, the much-anticipated film The Sapphires will have a red carpet Sydney premiere at the State Theatre in Sydney on August 8.

The screening of The Sapphires will be followed by a special live performance by Jessica Mauboy, who will sing several songs from the soundtrack to the movie, which will hit stores on July 27.

Director Wayne Blair and lead actresses Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy and Miranda Tapsell will attend the Premiere, along with producers Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne from Goalpost Pictures Australia, and writers Keith Thompson and Tony Briggs. 

The Sapphires
is an inspirational tale set in the heady days of the late ‘60s about a quartet of young, talented singers from a remote Aboriginal mission, discovered and guided by a kind-hearted, soul-loving manager. Plucked from obscurity, the four spirited women with powerhouse voices - called The Sapphires - are given the opportunity to entertain American troops in Vietnam. Catapulted onto the world stage as Australia's answer to the Supremes, their journey of discovery offers them not only the chance to show off their musical skills, but find love and togetherness, experience loss and grow as women.

The Sapphires
is an adaptation of the hugely successful Australian stage musical of the same name, and is inspired by the remarkable true story of writer Tony Briggs' mother and three aunts. The four Sapphires are joyfully played by AFI Award winner Deborah Mailman, Australian pop sensation Jessica Mauboy and newcomers Miranda Tapsell and Shari Sebbens. The IT Crowd actor Chris O'Dowd delivers a tour de force comic performance as their manager, that is at once incredibly funny, likeable and genuine.

Sony Music will release the soundtrack to The Sapphires on July 27The soundtrack includes all the songs as featured in the film including some of the biggest hits of the 60’s performed by the original artists; Soul Man & Hold On! I’m A Comin’ by Sam & Dave and Run Through The Jungle by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Plus Jessica Mauboy lends her vocals to many of the tracks including soul classics such as What A Man, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch), Land of 1000 Dances and Who’s Loving You and the catchy first single, Gotcha, an original song penned for the film, which draws its inspiration from the sounds of the 60’s.

Tickets to the Sydney Premiere of The Sapphires are $32 plus booking fee or Ticket and copy of the Soundtrack $56.99, plus booking fee. On sale 9.30am Monday 16 July through Ticketmaster. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

New Release Review: Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)

Margaret's arrival to cinemas - and it has only just come to Sydney this week - has been a long time coming. Notoriously plagued by post-production delays and multiple lawsuits, writer/director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me) shot the film in 2005 and had a release scheduled for 2007. But, there were struggles to create a final cut that Lonergan, producer Gary Gilbert and Fox Searchlight Pictures could come to an agreement on. Also, since its conception executive producers Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack have both passed away. Fox insisted that the film's running time could not exceed 150 minutes, but Lonergan's preferred cut was closer to three hours. Even Martin Scorsese and his editor Thelma Schoonmaker contributed to editing a 150-minute cut of the film, but this cut was rejected. So, what we have the opportunity to see is a version that is noticeably missing sequences that would aid in further developing some of the film's subplots. While an outstanding film already, one can only imagine the benefits of viewing the longer version of the film, the one Lonergan desired to be seen.

Margaret tells the tale of Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin, outstanding), a 17-year-old Manhattan student who lives with her stage actress mother, Joan (J. Smith Cameron, Lonergan's wife), and her younger brother. While Lisa is shopping she irresponsibly distracts a bus driver, Maretti (Mark Ruffalo) - though it is arguable his negligence of reacting to Lisa's waving when in the care of a busload of passengers is as much to blame - and a pedestrian crossing the road at a set of lights, Monica (Alison Janney), is hit. Lisa and several other witnesses try in vain to help the woman, who dies in Lisa's arms after a few minutes of confusion and requests for Lisa to call her daughter. Lisa is hugely affected by the incident with the knowledge that she played a role in the woman's death. Feeling sorry for the driver, Lisa lies to police claiming that the traffic light was still green and that it was nothing more than a horrible accident.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jeremy Renner & Tony Gilroy To Attend Australian Premiere of 'The Bourne Legacy'

Courtesy of Universal.

This August, action superstar Jeremy Renner will touch down in Australia to celebrate the release of THE BOURNE LEGACY in which he assumes the role of new lead character ‘Aaron Cross’ in the multi-million dollar Bourne franchise.

Hot off the success of The Avengers and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, the Oscar nominated actor (The Hurt Locker) will be joined by writer/director Tony Gilroy for the Australian Premiere of THE BOURNE LEGACY on Tuesday August 7 at Sydney’s State Theatre. Renner will then attend the film’s Melbourne Premiere on Wednesday August 8.

THE BOURNE LEGACY is the fourth instalment in the hugely popular Bourne franchise which has grossed almost $1 billion at the worldwide box office, and sold over 1.5 million DVD and Blu-rays in Australia alone.

As the screenwriter of the first three Bourne films, Gilroy takes the helm in the next chapter as writer and director with an original story that introduces audiences to a new hero within the Bourne universe and welcomes series newcomers Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz, making THE BOURNE LEGACY one of this year’s most highly-anticipated sequels. 

THE BOURNE LEGACY hits Australian cinemas on August 16.