BIFF Wrap Up & An Exciting Balibo Q&A
- Written by Matthew Toomey
BIFF for 2009 has come to a close and I can finally take my foot off the pedal. I’ve seen 15 films in the last 11 days (most of them at BIFF) and with the Ekka holiday coming up on Wednesday, I’ll be able to catch up on some of the films in wider release.
I’ve often been slack with BIFF and missed a lot of films but this year I was enthusiastic. I tried to take advantage of the fact that this may be the last ever festival at the Regent. It was great to see so many people and it was nice to see the Regent Bar buzzing with live music.
Before I get to my BIFF wrap, I was very excited to get a last minute call up to host the Balibo question & answer session which followed the Palace Movie Club screening on Sunday afternoon. I was up on stage with Anthony LaPaglia (the main star), Damon Gameau (another of the film’s lead actors), Robert Connolly (the director) and Tony Maniaty (author of book on Balibo).
You can view a few photos from the Q&A by clicking here:
They were all a great bunch of guys and they were very happy with the audience’s response to the film. It was a really good Q&A with many audience members asking a question. We went on for about 40 minutes and I’m sure we could have gone on for much longer. The stories that the cast and crew shared with us were awesome.
It’s been a great year for Australian cinema and here’s another film to add to the list. It’s out this Thursday so make sure you check out Balibo.. and tell all your friends to see it too.
Speaking of Balibo, it cleaned up at the BIFF awards by winning two major prizes – the Fipresci Jury Award and the Interfaith Jury Award. I popped along to the presentations on Sunday afternoon and it was great to see Robert Connolly’s film being recognised.
I have to say that I also enjoy the special children’s juries at BIFF. Two separate juries (one for those between grade 8 and 10, and another for those between grade 11 and 12) see four nominated films and then select a winner. It was nice to hear them speaking at the presentation and justifying their decision. I hope this is a trend which continues at many BIFFs to come.
As for my own BIFF winners, there were seven films which I really liked – An Education, 500 Days Of Summer, Coraline, Unmade Beds, Blessed, Eden Is West and Balibo. Don’t ask me to pick a favourite out of those. The good news is that with the exception of Unmade Beds, all will be released in Australia in the next few months. Coraline is out already.
Of the rest, I’d give a mild thumbs up to Looking For Eric and Subdivision.
Films I didn’t hate, but didn’t really like were The September Issue, Everyone Else, Moon and Prime Mover.
To quickly run through a few films that I didn’t mention in last week’s blog…
The Subdivision premiere was great on Thursday night with so many of the cast and crew in attendance. Ash Bradnam spoke well before the screening and I give the guy credit for his determination (it took 8 years) to get this movie made. It’s got its weaknesses but I liked its spirit… and the fact that it does feel like a true Queensland film. It’s out next week and I’ll shoot through a full review then.
Unmade Beds was a film shot in London which centres on two squatters (a guy and a girl) living in the same house in London. There were a lot of young people in the audience and I think many of them enjoyed it judging from their response. It was the first film that I’ve seen from Argentinean director Alexis Dos Santos and I look forward to seeing his future films.
Blessed on Friday night caught me off guard with Blessed, directed by Ana Kokkinos. I loved Head On but hated Kokkinos’s last film, The Book Of Revelation. I went in with a very pessimistic frame of mind but thought it was a strong, powerful film. A great film score, a great soundtrack and a great ending. With an ensemble cast, I look forward to telling you more when it’s released in September.
I’m not sure which film won the Audience Award at this year’s BIFF. I think they’re still tallying up the votes. I’ll provide the full top 10 next week.
Well that just about does it from me. I return to the regular movie world to see the truly awful G.I. Joe: The Rise Of The Cobra topping the box-office charts both here and the United States. What are people thinking? I don’t think I’ve seen worse special effects in a movie this year. Thankfully we’re only a few months away from award season and there’ll be some better movies on the way.
Soaking It Up At BIFF 2009
- Written by Matthew Toomey
I’m a day late with this week’s Film Pie and to be honest, I’m surprised I have the energy to write anything at all. The last week has been incredibly hectic at the Brisbane International Film Festival and the next week is going to be just as busy.
Opening Night – An Education
The opening night film was An Education and it was a really great film. I’ll talk about it more when its released nationwide in October. I managed to snap a photo with star Carey Mulligan on the red carpet and you can see below. The film was well received talking to a few people afterwards.
What I enjoyed most about the night was the after party in the packed lobby of the Regent Cinemas. As this is tipped to be the last festival at the Regent (the Birch, Carroll & Coyle lease ends in June 2010), I tried to soak up the atmosphere as much as possible.
The Regent cinemas are beautiful. There’s the downstairs area with the quaint Aromas coffee shop. There’s the neat little bar tucked away under the huge marble staircase. There’s the incredibly spacious foyer and the beautiful artistry on the walls. There’s the grand Showcase cinema. I could go on and on.
In recent years, business has been slow for the Regent and I’ve seen many films where it’s just me and a few other strangers in a very large theatre. It was awesome to see this grand complex packed out and everyone having a good time. I’ve got a few photos as a keepsake and they’re up on my Facebook Film Pie group.
You can view a Youtube video at http://www.youtube.com/user/trapdoorfilms1#play/uploads/1/YjcFQwTOCjI which has been put together by the BIFF crew and does a great job capturing the night.
Movies, Movies, Movies
Since opening night last Thursday, I saw 3 films on Friday night before leaving Brisbane at 5am on Saturday morning for a golf trip with the Queensland team to Tenterfield in New South Wales. I then saw 1 film on Sunday night, 2 films on Monday night and 2 films tonight. I’ve got tickets to see another 6 films over the next 5 days – plus, there are 5 films out in normal release which I’m yet to see. I think I’ll enjoy the break when it all comes to a close.
With the exception of An Education, there hasn’t been a major standout but the film I enjoyed most was 500 Days Of Summer. It’s a romantic comedy/drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. It’s nothing new but it’s got style and I like these two as a couple – they’re two of my favourite young actors. Chemistry is everything and these guys had it in my eyes. I could easily see it again and will review it in full when released in September.
The audience vote is currently being led by Looking For Eric which I wasn’t overly fussed about. 500 Days Of Summer has the number 2 spot in the audience voting and that’s fine with me.
I’ll run through all the films I saw in next week’s issue but coming up in the next few days are Unmade Beds and Subdivision. I’ve also had a chance to see the closing night film, Balibo, which also has my recommendation.
I had a chance to speak with the Festival’s Executive Director Anne Demy-Geroe last night and she said that ticket sales have been up and that she’s very happy with how this year’s Festival has been going great. She didn’t want to say too much more as not to jinx it.
She was also unsure about where next year’s festival might be held if the Regent is unavailable as expected. My personal preference would be the new Palace Barracks but I think it would struggle to cater for the Festival’s huge crowds. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
I’m now off to get some well earned rest. See you at BIFF!
3D Set To Explode & Toomey Award Winners Revealed
- Written by Matthew Toomey
Have you got your tickets yet for the Brisbane International Film Festival? If not, why not? I won’t be doing it for you. Get to the BIFF website and secure your tickets before its too late. The festival kicks off this Thursday and runs for 11 days.
I don’t usually go along to opening night (too busy, too expensive) but I’m making an exception this year to check out An Education, the new film from writer Nick Hornby (About A Boy, High Fidelity, Fever Pitch). The reviews have been terrific and all the buzz has been around the performance of 24-year-old Carey Mulligan. My favourite awards site, http://www.awardsdaily.com/, has listed Mulligan as the only actress so far this year to have turned in an Oscar worthy performance.
Mulligan will be at Thursday night’s screening and its great to have her here in Brisbane.
I’ve booked tickets to 11 films in total – 1 each day on average. I might add a few more to the list depending on how I feel. It can a draining experience and it’s best not to go too hard too early.
Toomey Award Winners
The winners for my 10th annual Toomey Awards have been unveiled. You can view the full list at - http://www.thefilmpie.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=639&Itemid=57.
The Wrestler took the top prizes for best film and best director. It also won best actor for Mickey Rourke. It was well and truly my favourite film over the past 12 months.
The other two films to take home three awards were Persepolis (the only other A+ from me in the last year) and Revolutionary Road.
3D – Here We Come!
It’s been spoken about for decades but 3D technology is starting to take off in movie theatres. We’re seeing more 3D movies than ever. The problem is that many cinemas are cash strapped at the moment and can’t afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on special 3D digital projectors.
The film which may break this technology wide open is James Cameron’s Avatar. It’s been shrouded in secrecy for some time but finally, footage has been seen by the general public at the Comic-Con in San Diego. Columnist Jeffrey Wells, who is usually a cynic (it’s why I like his style), had this to say – “I was transported, blown away, melted down, reduced to adolescence, etc. I mean, I saw some truly great stuff.”
What has intrigued me most about the whole project is how James Cameron hasn’t made a single film since Titanic in 1997. He made the highest grossing motion picture in the history of cinema. It made $600m in the United States – a record that still stands today, despite inflation. He could have done anything in the wake of Titanic. Instead, he sat back and waited for this. It’s the most anticipated movie of the year for me. The release date is 17 December 2009 here in Australia. Bring it on!
If you’re wondering what it’s about, here’s the quick blurb from the IMDB – “In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran, is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.”
Are We Over Harry Potter?
The box-office results from the weekend made for interesting reading. Harry Potter fell 61% and now sits in the number 2 spot behind G-Force. What’s interesting about the series is that it was the first film which made the most money - $317m in total in the U.S. Usually, it is the sequels which reap the big dollars – once the public has been caught up in the series and needs to know more. I still suspect this 6th film will finish with around $270m but judging from some of the lukewarm responses, I’m not convinced that the series will finish on a high in 2010 and 2011.
You can read an interview with director David Yates at http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2009/07/qa-harry-potter-director-david-yates-talks-deathly-hallows.html where he talks about the next two films. He answers the question about why the last film has been split into two parts. He also talks about how he plans to give part one of the Deathly Hallows a very different look to part two. Maybe there’s hope for David Yates yet.
See you at BIFF!
A "Disaster" Of A Movie Season
- Written by Matthew Toomey
I’ve been less than impressed with this winter’s blockbusters. Only a few have stood out – Star Trek, I Love You Man and The Hangover.
Coming soon is a new disaster movie called 2012. It’s directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow) and looks at some worldwide apocalyptic event.
I’m not too excited but I love this spoof trailer on Youtube which has been put together - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW2qxFkcLM0. In a time when films are more about explosions and special effects than storyline (e.g. Transformers), it’s great to see someone highlighting this fact in an amusing way. Make sure you check it out.
Speaking of trailers, you can check out this real trailer of Ethan Hawke’s new vampire movie, Daybreakers. I only mention it because this film was shot here in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast (at Movie World). I can remember them closing down a few streets here in the city to film certain scenes just over a year ago. I wonder if it’ll be any good? We’ll find out in early 2010.
Harry Potter has been the talk of the town over the past week. I’ve had a few fun discussions with people about whether or not they liked it. I think the general consensus has been negative but it hasn’t stopped its box-office. It chalked up $159m in its first weekend in the States. That’s huge stuff.
The same can’t be said for Bruno which fell a whopping 73% in its second week. It has less than $50m to its name in 10 days of release. Not too good.
That’ll do for me this week. It’s late and I’m tired after watching last night’s British Open finale. Seeing Tom Watson fall at the final hurdle was tough to take. We see all these sporting movies that have fairy tale endings. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out like that. The guy is pure class though and the way he handled himself afterwards was just terrific. I know he’ll be disappointed but he’s proven himself many times before – 8 major championships says enough.