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Where Did All These Movies Come From?

 

I don’t know what’s going on at the moment but there are a lot of movies being released.  Last Thursday, I noted that there were 6 new films being shown.  I was wrong – the actual total was 9.  I’d left off Adam, Spread and The Age Of Stupid.  That’s the most in a single day since Boxing Day 2007 (which is always a big day for movies).

 

This week, there are another 6 films in release which will take the total for the month to 26.  That’s almost a film per day and I have to admit that I’m struggling to keep up.  September looks a little quieter thankfully with just 18 films coming out (or at least that I’m aware of).

 

Russian Film Festival

 

Who loves their Russian cinema?  Who has even seen a Russian film?  I can only think of four off the top of my head – Burnt By The Sun, The Return, Night Watch and Day Watch.  I’m sure there’s more but I admit it’s not an area of cinema I’m very familiar with.

 

Well, the 2009 Russian Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, September 3 and runs for one week.  It’s being held at the Palace Centro Cinemas in New Farm and 18 different films (some new, some old) will be shown.

 

The focus this year is on comedies and musicals – there’s a retrospective of the best Russian films in these genres over the last 70 years.  I’d like to catch Hipsters, a colourful, youthful musical set in the 1950s.

 

You can find out more at the festival website - http://www.russianresurrection.com/2009/.  Tickets are $16 for most sessions.  Go get some culture!

 

Charlie & Boots Premiere

 

I had a fun opportunity on Sunday to become, what I have dubbed, “my day as a paparazzo”.  There was a premiere at Conrad Jupiters on the Gold Coast of the new Australian comedy Charlie & Boots.  It stars Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson.

 

The film was the kick start to the 64th Australian International Movie Convention which now has a permanent home on the Gold Coast.  All the major movie distributors are showcasing their new films with the hopes of getting them picked up by as many cinemas as possible.  If you’ve ever been curious about these sort of events, you can view the agenda here - http://www.movieconvention.com.au/page/Agenda/.

 

This year’s convention includes screenings of Julie & Julia (the new Meryl Streep movie) and In The Loop (a great new political film which I’m buzzing about).  I’d love to be there all week for the convention but sadly I have a day job to keep me preoccupied.

 

Anyway, back to the premiere.  I was lucky enough to score a media spot on the red carpet and interview Gary Sweet and then stars Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson as they came down the red carpet.  Thanks to Ange (for letting me borrow her cool microphone) and to Sam (for taking the pictures of me in action).  You can view some photos are hear my interviews here:

 

Matt's Charlie & Boots Interviews & Photos

 

Having not done this before, I was a little apprehensive.  Having been reviewing movies for 14 years, I thought I’d take the next step up and see what it was like.

 

And yes, I had a great time.  I had to line up with the rest of the media beforehand to get my accreditation badge and guest list.  I then had to stand on a piece of card on the ground marked “612 ABC Local Radio”.  They lined up all the media people in a certain order to facilitate the action when they came down the carpet.  I was stuck next to the Today Show who had the power to snag a lengthy interview on the carpet itself.

 

When it came to asking questions, I assure you that it’s not the easiest thing in the world.  You don’t want to ask the same, boring questions that they’ve heard before.  On the other hand, it’s hard to come up with anything original.  The whole concept of red carpet arrivals is kind of cliché in itself.  Stars walk down looking happy, people stand trying to get photos and autographs.  I’m sure if Paul Hogan walked past people in the street, people wouldn’t stop and take photos.  But when you sexy it up as a movie premiere, it’s a different story.  I’m not trying to diminish the occasion but just pointing out that it’s just one of life’s odd things.

 

I’ll review the film in detail when it comes out on September 3 but I have to say that I liked it.  I think the audience did too – plenty of laughs.  The gala after party had nothing to do with my opinion either.  I think.  I did enjoy the free drink, seafood buckets, beef skewers, mud cake…

 

This has made me think how hard it is to put together a big premiere.  There’s so much to organise – kind of like a wedding.  You’ve got to get everything right for the arrivals and have everyone in place.  You have the screening and then have to cater for hundreds of people afterwards – with music, food and drink.  I don’t even want to imagine how big some of the Hollywood premieres can get.  Maybe I’ll get to check one out sooner rather than later.


BIFF Audience Voting

 

BIFF is already well behind us but I thought I’d quickly go through the final audience top 10 from the festival voting:

 

1.     Balibo – a worthy choice.

2.     Blessed – a very moving Australian film out next month – good choice.

3.     500 Days Of Summer – loved this movie and it’s out next month too – another good choice.

4.     Looking For Eric – I was only ho-hum about this one but it’s a crowd pleaser.

5.     The Strength Water

6.     Che

7.     Flowers Of The Sky

8.     Moon – I wasn’t that impressed by this one either.

9.     Dead Snow

10.  Black Dynamite

 

We’ll do it all again in November 2010.

 

A Funny Premiere

 

I’ve seen a lot of funny things in movie theatres.  I’m not just talking about what happens on the screen.  I have a new tale to add to the collection…

 

Last Wednesday night, I had the chance to attend the premiere of the new locally made film called Storage.  It screened at BIFF but I didn’t get a chance to catch it then due to a clash with 500 Days Of Summer.

 

At the screening I attended was the director (Michael Craft) and a number of the actors who appeared in the film – including the two leading stars – Damien Garvey and Matthew Scully.

 

Unfortunately for me, I was sitting two seats away from a drunken woman who talked through parts of the film (yelled is a better verb) and laughed at inappropriate places.  I’d seen her before the movie and she looked rather jovial.  I didn’t realise that she’d had a few too many drinks until we were in the theatre.

 

After spilling a glass of champagne on the floor about half way through the movie, she followed with one of the most stunning things I’ve seen.  70 minutes in, she threw up four times on the floor in front of her.  I was in shock more than anything.  I couldn’t take it anymore and walked out of the cinema, not seeing the end of the movie.  I think others in the vicinity were leaving also but yeah, I didn’t hang around.

 

Some of you will be repulsed by this and yes, that is why I walked out.  But I do try to see the funny side of any incident such as this.  The irony is that of the hundreds of films that I see each year, Storage is one that will stick in the memory banks for a long while.  It was a premiere to remember.

 

You can hear my thoughts on the incident by listening to a podcast of my 612 ABC radio show by clicking here - http://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/2009/08/matthew-toomeys-movies-and-dvds.html?program=612_breakfast.

 

I could get into a debate on the merits of cinema etiquette and alcohol in movie theatres but I’ve done that before and I’m sure I’ll do it again at some other time.  Right now, I’d rather you just be amused / horrified by this story.

 

As for the film itself, Storage gets a thumbs up from me.  I only saw the first two-thirds but if the rest is anything to go by, it’s worth seeing.  Like Subdivision which opens this week, it’s nice to see a Brissy film showing in our cinemas.  It’s about a young guy who works for his uncle in one of those storage warehouses.  As you can imagine, there are pretty shady people who store stuff in these places for a good reason.  It’s a slick thriller/horror film and I think it looks great given the tiny budget on which it has been shot.  Damien Garvey and newcomer Matthew Scully (never heard of him before but a face to watch) were great.

 

I’ve seen plenty of movies that made me want to throw up… but not this one.  Check it out!


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.

 

Balibo Q&A

 

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:

 

Matt's Photos From The Q&A

 

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.

 

BIFF Wrap

 

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.


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.

 

Looking Forward

 

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!

 

With Carey Mulligan At BIFF