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Remembering Patrick Swayze In Donnie Darko


F
ilm Pie On Vacation

 

Gasp.  Shock.  Horror.  I’m a day late with this week’s blog.  It’s been a crazily busy week so far and I’m struggling to stay on top of things.  The bottom line is that I’m off to Melbourne on Friday and won’t return to sunny Brisbane for a week.  It’ll be a movie-free week also – as the purpose of my trip is to manage the Queensland Colts golf team as they take on the other states in the 2009 Inter-State series.  It should be blast with Melbourne buzzing in the lead up to the AFL grand final.

 

As a result, there will be no newsletter/blog next week and there will be no website updates.  You’re on your own folks.  Don’t let that put you off – there are plenty of good movies out there to see and the pick of the bunch is 500 Days Of Summer which is released this Thursday.  Make sure you don’t miss it.

 

Patrick Swayze

 

Those who have seen the news today will have learned of the death of Patrick Swayze.  I admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Swayze but it sad to see him leave this place at the relatively young age of 57.

 

He will be most fondly remembered for his roles in Dirty Dancing (1987) and Ghost (1990).  He never earned an Academy Award nomination but he was a favourite actor of many people.  Other notable Swayze films included Point Break and To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar.

 

Perhaps my favourite performance from Swayze was his role as Jim Cunningham in the cult hit Donnie Darko.  If you haven’t seen the film, make sure you do.  Swayze plays a hypocritical self-help guru who is struggling to believe his own material.  My favourite single scene in the film is where he speaks with Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in front of his class at school.  Here’s a quick extract:

 

Donnie Darko: Good morning.

Jim Cunningham: Good morning.

Donnie Darko: Um… how much are they paying you to be here?

Jim Cunningham: Uh… excuse me? What is your name, son?

Donnie Darko: Gerald.

Jim Cunningham: Well, Gerald, I think you’re afraid.

Donnie Darko: Are you telling us this stuff so we can buy your book? Because I got to tell you, if you are, that was some of the worst advice I ever heard.

Jim Cunningham: Do you see how said this is?

Donnie Darko: Do you want your sister to lose weight? Tell her to get off the couch, stop eating Twinkies, and maybe go out for field hockey. You know what? No one ever knows what they want to be when they grow up. It takes a little while to find that out. Right, Jim? And you… yeah, you. Sick of some jerk shoving your head down the toilet? Well you know what, maybe you should lift some weights or take a karate lesson . And the next time he tries to do it, you kick him in the balls.

<Adults gasp, students laugh>

Jim Cunningham: <chuckles> Son. Do you see this?

Donnie Darko: Right?

Jim Cunningham: This is an anger prisoner…

Man: Remove him.

Jim Cunningham: A textbook example. Do you see the fear, people? This boy is scared to death of the truth. Son, it breaks my heart to say this, but I believe you are a very troubled and confused young man. I believe you are searching for the answers in all the wrong places.

Donnie Darko: You’re right, actually. I am pretty… I am pretty troubled and I’m pretty confused but I… and I’m afraid really really afraid. Really afraid. But I… I think you’re the f***ing antichrist.

 

I was also saddened to learn of the death of Jim Carroll during the week at the age of 59.  Carroll was the author and poet whom Leonardo DiCaprio’s character was based in The Basketball Diaries.  I remember the film fondly as it was the first film I ever saw at a film festival (in 1995) and it made me stand up and realise that DiCaprio could act.

 

Toronto Film Festival

 

The Toronto Film Festival is now in full swing and the film generating the biggest buzz is Up In The Air.  It’s the new film from Jason Reitman, the director of Juno (my favourite film of 2008) and Thank You For Smoking (a great black comedy).  Here’s the quick plot overview from the IMDB – “Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveller woman of his dreams.”

 

I can’t wait to see it – the release date is currently January 2010 here in Australia.  It’s certainly emerging as an Oscar front runner and every critic I’ve seen so far has given it the thumbs up.

 

Other films playing well at Toronto include the new one from Ethan and Joel Coen called A Simple Man and the new Michael Moore documentary called Capitalism: A Love Story.  I’d love to be in Toronto right now but the exciting news is we’ll get to see most of these movies here in Australia.  We just need to wait a little longer.

 

You can view the trailers for these three films by clicking on the following links.  I think the trailer for Up In The Air is particularly good – grabs your attention but doesn’t give too much away.

 

Up In The Air - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m-Da8Tz4_E

A Simple Man - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RL1I21zy3pw

Capitalism: A Love Story - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERc-AVnl8yw

 

See you in two weeks!

 

3D Movie Prices - Reasonable Or Ridiculous?


Last Thursday night, I had a chance to catch Up at the BCC Myer Centre cinemas.  They have recently acquired a 3D projector and this was the first time I’d seen a 3D movie there.

Let me state the obvious and say that if you haven’t seen a 3D movie in recent years, then you definitely need to!  Gone are the old blue/red cardboard glasses that left you with a sore nose after 5 minutes.  These days, you wear special sunglasses and if you’re like me, you won’t even notice that you’re wearing them.  I’m not quite sure how it works though for people who also need regular glasses.  Can you wear one on top of the other?  I don’t know.

The problem that I see is with the cost.  The normal adult ticket price at the BCC Myer Centre cinemas is $16 for adults and $12 for children.  Thankfully, I have a pass that gets me in for $8.50 per movie.  Unfortunately, you have to pay an extra $3 for a 3D movie.  So that’s $19 for adults and $15 for children.  There are no other discounts however.

If you’re a family of four going to see a film such as Up (and many family movies are in 3D these days), it’ll set you back $58 for tickets.  That’s before the price of overpriced snacks.  A normal movie at BCC would cost you $46 for the same group of people.  In fact, you could go to the Southbank cinemas as a family and see a regular movie for just $26.  That’s a huge saving.

The questions that I have are (1) why is 3D so expensive, and (2) is the price a deterrent for moviegoers?

There are currently only 5 cinemas in Brisbane which offer the 3D experience.  They are the four major BCC cinemas (Myer Centre, Indooroopilly, Garden City, Chermside) and the Cineplex cinema at Victoria Point.  As noted above, the BCC cinemas charge $3 more per 3D movie and the Cineplex cinema charges $4.50 more per 3D movie.

When you see a 3D movie, you get given a pair of glasses.  I’ve got numerous pairs sitting on my bookshelf at home.  Let me ask – why can’t I bring my own pair and save myself this cost?  Why should I have to pay (as part of the ticket price) and receive a new pair of glasses each time?  Aside from the financial cost, there’s the obvious waste of resources.  I’d hate to think about how many pairs end up in the bin afterwards.

Ah, but alas.  From what I understand, it isn’t the cost of the glasses that is driving up prices.  The glasses are pretty cheap actually – just like those toys you get at McDonalds with your Happy Meal.  The real cost are the 3D projectors themselves.  That’s why a lot of other cinemas in Brisbane haven’t jumped on the 3D bandwagon yet.  It’s a large capital outlay in difficult economic times.  It is certainly slowing the roll-out of 3D movies.  Why would you want to make one when it can only be shown in a limited number of cinemas?

3D projectors are very expensive.  I don’t have any exact numbers but we’re talking about a dollar sign followed by 6 figures.  So in that regard, I’m sympathetic towards cinema owners and can understand the costs.  If their costs go up, it’s natural to pass them onto consumers.  Otherwise, they’d go out of business.  If this were a giant scam to extort money out of the movie-going public then trust me – a lot more cinemas would have 3D projectors by now.  Think of it that way.

This then leads to my second question though about whether the price is a deterrent?  It’s hard to say for sure.  I’m always puzzled why people go to a BCC cinema and pay twice the price than what they might otherwise do at the Southbank or Balmoral cinemas, for example?  Yet they do.  Perhaps it’s not worth the effort of driving an extra, say, 15 minutes – there’s both a time cost and a petrol cost.  I’m guilty of that and it’s why I see so many movies myself at the Myer Centre and Regent Cinemas – because I live in the city and can’t be bothered going elsewhere.

Using this flawed rationale, maybe the additional cost will be swallowed by the public and 3D cinemas will thrive.  Maybe every cinema in Brisbane will have a 3D projector within 5 years and every second movie will be released in the new format.  Maybe.  We live in interesting times and I sense that the barrier may not be the ultimate cost to the public but the up-front cost to the cinemas themselves.

Hits & Misses From The 2009 American Summer


It’s been a big month for me and this week’s blog is a little light on material.  I’ve also been a bit under the weather and am looking forward to a few movie free days.

 

Event Cinemas?

 

You might have noticed in the past month that some of the Birch, Carroll & Coyle cinemas have rebranded themselves.  They are now known as Event Cinemas.  According to their website, the reason for the change is that their cinemas are “being redeveloped and relaunched as state-of-the-art venues that offer customers a complete range of entertainment options.”  They will be an “entertainment precinct that offers customers options on every level, including dining, bars and a variety of screening opportunities to not only see movies in 2D and 3D, but also live music, concerts, sporting matches and special events.”

 

It’s all yadda, yadda, yadda as far as I’m concerned.  They are still the most over priced cinemas in Australia in terms of both ticket price and candy par prices.  I’d like to hope that people don’t go along to a movie at these cinemas because of this branding.  I know the reality is different but I can only hope.

 

My favourite cinema is still the Palace Centro at New Farm and I can tell you that it ticks off a lot of the boxes that these Event Cinemas promise.  A lot of cinemas in Brisbane do for that matter.  Just last week, I was visiting my old local – the AMC at Stafford City.  It hasn’t changed much in the three years since I moved out of the area but it’s still a nice complex and there are plenty of places to get food (e.g. Fasta Pasta) when you’re done.

 

I do need to update my cinema reviews (on my website) and will hopefully get around to it before the year is out.  Let me just say that regardless of name, these Event Cinemas still fail to deliver in terms of price relative to service.

 

Spring Awakening

 

It’s the first day of Spring and that’s good news as far as I’m concerned.  The warmer weather is nice but what’s just as exciting are the better movies that we’ll see.  The American summer blockbusters are behind us and we can focus on the upcoming award season.

 

Before shutting the book on this Australian winter, I thought I’d quickly point out which films have been the big success stories at the box office.  There are about a dozen or so films which are hyped to the extreme.  How many of them did you actually see though?  How many were any good?  What was your favourite?

 

As I’ve mentioned a few times previous, Star Trek was probably the surprise hit for me.  Most of the other “big” films didn’t impress me.  G.I. Joe was the worst of the lot.  A few small horror films snuck under the radar though and got my thumbs up – Drag Me To Hell and Orphan.

 

Here’s a look at how the blockbusters have performed here in Australia (in order of box-office dollars – I’ve listed the number of weeks inside the top 20 also):

 

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen - $40.2m from 10 weeks

Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince - $39.6m from 7 weeks

Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs - $29.6 from 8 weeks

The Hangover - $21.3m from 12 weeks

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - $18.5m from 8 weeks

Angels & Demons - $17.9m from 9 weeks

Night At The Museum 2 - $17.1m from 10 weeks

The Proposal - $16.5m from 9 weeks

Star Trek - $15.8m from 9 weeks

Terminator: Salvation - $14.8m from 6 weeks

Bruno - $13.9m from 5 weeks

The Ugly Truth - $10.6m from 4 weeks

Public Enemies - $8.6m from 5 weeks

G.I. Joe: Rise Of Cobra - $7.3m from 4 weeks

Land Of The Lost - $3.9m from 5 weeks

 

The two stand outs have been Transformers and Harry Potter 6.  I wasn’t fussed about either of them for whatever reason, they’ve got people off their butts and into movie theatres.  That’s a good thing… I think.

 

Ice Age 3 was the family film of the summer – well ahead of Night At The Museum 2.  I thought both were worth a look.

 

The sleeper of the summer was The Hangover which spent 12 weeks inside the top 20 – more than any other film.  That’s a good sign of word of mouth and the proposed sequel should be just as big.

 

The big losers were Bruno (which faded away quickly despite all the advertising), Terminator: Salvation (yet to find someone who liked it), Public Enemies (not a huge gross for Johnny Depp film), G.I. Joe (the less said the better) and Land Of The Lost (ditto).

 

The Toronto Film Festival kicks off next week (September 10) and as I say each year, it’s my favourite film festival… not that I’ve ever been.  The reason is that so many quality Oscar contenders get their first showing at Toronto and it starts the buzz in the lead up to award season.  Slumdog Millionaire won the audience award at Toronto last year and it went on to win 8 Academy Awards, including best picture.  There are hundreds of films being screened and I’ll provide a wrap of the major prize winners in the near future.

Charlie & Boots: My Day As A Paparazzo


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.