2010 Audi Festival Of German Films


The German Film Festival kicks off at the Palace Centro Cinema on Wednesday and runs for a week.  There are 20 films on offer and judging from my own experiences with German cinema, there should be plenty of great stuff on offer.


Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon is sure to be popular given that it won the Palm D’or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and earned an Academy Award nomination for best foreign language film.  It’s released nation-wide on May 6 so more discerning filmgoers might give it a miss and see it in general release.


I’ve been very busy over the last week and haven’t spent too much time going through the program.  You can view it by clicking here.  Tickets are $16 for most sessions and I’m hoping to get along to at least a couple of films.


The Tribal Theatre: Death Of Cinema Etiquette?


Last Friday night, I went along to The Tribal Theatre on George Street to check out a screening of the 1968 horror classic, Night Of The Living Dead.  I never ever thought I’d set foot in that cinema again.  Not because I didn’t like it but because it closed its doors in November 2008.  It was formerly known as the Dendy and I did a tribute piece which you can read here.


It was recently reopened and is screening a mix of both current and classic releases.


The session I attend was fairly full with a pretty young audience.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a poor display of cinema etiquette.  The audience laughed throughout much of the film.  Three different patrons took it upon themselves to yell out silly jokes throughout (which even my dad would find lame).


There was one scene in the film where an hysterical woman is slapped by another man.  This scene received a very loud round of applause including many cries of “yeah” and “wooooooo”.


I was tempted to walk out because it certainly ruined the film-going experience.  I go to the movies to see a movie.  Not to listen to the commentary of someone who’s specialty subject is the bleeding obvious.  Not to put up with loud, unruly people.


If this is the sort of demographic that the reopened Tribal is going to attract, then I know I won’t be seeing too many more movies there.  I’d rather go to Myer Centre (and that’s saying something).


I debated this (heatedly) with two friends after the screening and here are some of the things we discussed…


Were people laughing because times have changed and we’re now desensitised to this kind of horror?  Perhaps.  The film was given an R rating back in 1968 and I assure you that it wouldn’t be given the same rating today.  It’s much tamer (in terms of blood and gore) compared with horror films I’ve seen in recent years.


That said, it’s disappointing that the audience were so disrespectful.  I thought it was an excellent movie.  It’s hard to believe that a film released over 40 years ago had the guts to (1) feature an African American as the hero, (2) include a twist ending that might leave audiences unsatisfied.  It’s not as violent as one of today’s horror films but I found it just as suspenseful.  The fact that it’s in black and white makes it even scarier.


Maybe people go to these sorts of films to have a laugh?  The audience was young and many would not have an appreciation for this classic.  I can only assume that’s why they were going.  Why else would you pay money to see a horror film which you think is laughable?  Why didn’t they all walk out?  Did they see this as some sort of funny Ed Wood type experience (not that they’d know who Ed Wood was)?


I have to say that as much as I hated the audience, it was an “experience”.  It has fired me up enough to warrant this blog.  It’s given me much food for thought regarding cinema etiquette.


It’s true that cinemas in Brisbane have their own demographics.  I much prefer going to the Palace or Dendy cinemas rather than the Event cinemas.  Sure they’re cheaper but you usually attract a quieter, more respectful audience.  I hope I don’t sound “snooty” but I’m just voicing my opinion.  You’re less likely to find someone (1) speaking loudly to the friend sitting next to them, (2) texting on their phone which has a blaring bright display panel, and (3) kicking their feet into the back of my seat.


The bottom line is that I’m taking a “to each their own” stance on this.  If the Tribal keeps playing to sold out sessions on a Friday night, good on them.  There must be an audience for the films and experience they offer and it’s always nice to see a cinema in Brisbane doing well.  You won’t find me there though.


The American summer blockbuster season is upon us and Iron Man 2 will kick things off on April 29.  Over the next few months, we can also expect to see Robin Hood, Prince Of Persia, Sex & The City 2, The A-Team, Shrek Forever After, Toy Story 3, Twilight: Eclipse, Knight & Day and Inception.  That’s just a taste of what will be on offer.


On that note, it’s inspired me to do another box-office trivia game for those after some brain activity.


I’ve done two before which you can try yourself by clicking here (for the one from 2007) and here (for the one from 2005).


There are 10 questions in all and you can check your answers by scrolling to the very bottom.  This year’s questions have a link to famous actors.  All the facts and figures are for the United States only by the way.  Have fun!


1. Which Australian actor appeared in 5 films between 2001 and 2009 which grossed more than $300m at the box-office?

(a) Cate Blanchett

(b) Russell Crowe

(c) Hugo Weaving

(d) Hugh Jackman


2. Tom Hanks has won 2 Oscars but what is his highest grossing movie?

(a) Forrest Gump

(b) Toy Story 2

(c) Saving Private Ryan

(d) The Da Vinci Code


3. Will Smith is one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors.  Since 2002, he has made 9 movies.  All but one grossed more than $100m.  Which one did not?

(a) The Pursuit Of Happyness

(b) I, Robot

(c) Seven Pounds

(d) Men In Black 2


4. Will Ferrell has been churning out comedies for more than 10 years (some good, some bad).  Which of the following made the most at the box-office?

(a) Blades Of Glory

(b) Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgandy

(c) Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

(d) Elf


5. Which star of Charlie’s Angels (I speak of the 2000 remake) has appeared in the most hit films (grossing more than $100m each)?

(a) Drew Barrymore

(b) Lucy Liu

(c) Cameron Diaz

(d) Bill Murray


6. What is the highest grossing Tom Cruise movie?

(a) Top Gun

(b) War Of The Worlds

(c) Mission: Impossible 2

(d) Rain Man


7. Which Kate has starred in the most films that have grossed over $100m?

(a) Kate Bosworth

(b) Kate Winslet

(c) Kate Hudson

(d) Kate Beckinsale


8. Meryl Streep has a million times for every major film award but what is her highest grossing movie?

(a) Mamma Mia!

(b) The Devil Wears Prada

(c) Death Becomes Her

(d) Out Of Africa


9. Which one of these Ocean’s 11 stars has produced the total cumulative box-office from his films?

(a) George Clooney

(b) Brad Pitt

(c) Matt Damon

(d) Andy Garcia


10. Titanic made $600m at the box-office in 1997.  Which of its supporting stars didn’t capitalise on its success and hasn’t featured in a movie since that has grossed more than $3m?

(a) Billy Zane

(b) Bill Paxton

(c) Gloria Stuart

(d) Frances Fisher


Answers down below…












































1. (c) – Always the underrated villain, Weaving provided voices in the two Transformers movies and featured in the three Lord Of The Rings movies.

2. (a) – Forrest Gump made $329m back in 1994.  Impressive even by today’s standards.

3. (c) – Because it was rubbish, Seven Pounds made just $69m.

4. (d) – Elf took in $173m which was must more than it deserved.

5. (c) – Ms Diaz has 9 in total. The three Shrek movies, the two Charlie’s Angels movies, Vanilla Sky, There’s Something About Mary, My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Mask.

6. (b) – War Of The Worlds made $234m in 2005.

7. (d) – I can’t believe it either. Beckinsale was in Click, Van Helsing, The Aviator and Pearl Harbor.

8. (a) – Mamma Mia! was a huge hit in the United States with $144m and did even better overseas.

9. (c) – Matt Damon is the youngest but leads with $2.24 billion. Brad Pitt next best with $1.94 billion.

10. (a) – Poor Billy. His best effort was BloodRayne in 2006 which made $2.4m.




I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but have finally gotten around to it with this week’s blog.


It takes a lot to get me to cry in a movie.  There’s a small part in the back of my brain that says “it’s only a movie” and it prevents the waterworks from flowing.


There are exceptions though.  I sat down over the weekend and went through my database to see if I could remember any films where I’d shed a tear.  The curious thing was that I seemed to come up with exactly one film for each year of release here in Australia.


I haven’t gone back beyond 1999 and so popular tear-jerkers such as Terms Of Endearment, Beaches, Steel Magnolias and Rudy (a personal favourite of mine) have not been included.


Now before I continue, I should point out that these films made me cry (or at least moistened my eyes) in a good way.  It’s not like The Bounty Hunter – which made me cry for the future of the human race.


So if you don’t mind sitting in front of the television with a box of tissues by your side, here’s are some titles which you should soon be acquiring.


I haven’t gone into a lot of detail regarding which scenes in the film made me cry in particular.  In most cases it revolves around the end and I don’t want to give too much away.


Here then is the list...


October Sky (1999)


IMDB Plot Description: “The true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes.”


Why I Cried: The scene where Homer launches his rocket into the sky (backed by Mark Isham’s score) is a thing of beauty.


The Cider House Rules (2000)


IMDB Plot Description: “A compassionate young man, raised in an orphanage and trained to be a doctor there, decides to leave to see the world.”


Why I Cried: The ending involving the fate of Tobey Maguire and Michael Caine (in his Oscar winning role).


Cast Away (2001)


IMDB Plot Description: “A FedEx executive must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island.”


Why I Cried: I can’t believe I’m saying this but I felt sad for the demise of an inanimate object (as opposed to a living human being).


Last Orders (2002)


IMDB Plot Description: “Jack Dodd was a London butcher who enjoyed a pint with his mates for over 50 years. When he died, he died as he lived, with a smile on his face watching a horse race on which he had bet, with borrowed money.”


Why I Cried: There are plenty of sad moments in this film but it really hits home in the final half-hour.


Seabiscuit (2003)


IMDB Plot Description: “True story of the undersized Depression-era racehorse whose victories lifted not only the spirits of the team behind it but also those of their nation.”


Why I Cried: I had a heads up here in that I’d read the book and it made me cry too. When Seabiscuit wins his last race (against all odds), it was simply incredible.


The Notebook (2004)


IMDB Plot Description: “A poor and passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman and gives her a sense of freedom. They soon are separated by their social differences.”


Why I Cried: For the same reasons that most people did.  This film shows up in almost every list of tear-jerkers posted by others on the interweb.


Million Dollar Baby (2005)


IMDB Plot Description: “A hardened trainer/manager works with a determined woman in her attempt to establish herself as a boxer.”


Why I Cried: I wouldn’t have picked it half-way through but this film goes off on an unexpected tangent in the final moments and I felt the full emotional impact.


Brokeback Mountain (2006)


IMDB Plot Description: “Based on the 'E. Annie Proulx' story about a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys and their lives over the years.”


Why I Cried: I had friends who refused to see this film but it’s their loss. The final scenes involving Heath Ledger are very sad indeed.


Bridge To Terabithia (2007)


IMDB Plot Description: “A preteen's life is changed after befriending the new girl at school.”


Why I Cried: I didn’t think I’d be crying in a family film but this did catch me off guard. It prompted much discussion about whether people should be warned about the ending before they took kids to see it.


The Diving Bell & The Butterfly (2008)


IMDB Plot Description: “The true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffers a stroke and has to live with an almost totally paralyzed body; only his left eye isn't paralyzed.”


Why I Cried: This whole story is both tragic and uplifting.  Jean-Dominique and his relationship with his father perhaps the saddest of all.


My Sister’s Keeper (2009)


IMDB Plot Description: “Anna Fitzgerald looks to earn medical emancipation from her parents who until now have relied on their youngest child to help their leukemia-stricken daughter Kate remain alive.”


Why I Cried: When I saw this in the cinema, the lady next to me (who I didn’t know) apologised to me for her blubbering as the credits started to roll.  Says it all.



I hope everyone has had a fantastic long weekend.  Mine’s been pretty good – plenty of golf and plenty of movies.  Plenty of sleep too.


Clash Of The Titans – Good Movie Or Good Marketing?


Clash Of The Titans was the number 1 movie at the box-office in the United States with an estimated take in the States is around $61m.  I believe it’s also top in Australia but am just trying to confirm.


So does this mean it was good film?  Absolutely not!  I saw it last Thursday night and couldn’t believe the laughter coming from the audience during some parts of the movie.  The “ease your storm” line will go down in movie folklore as one of the worst.


I don’t think I’m in the minority with my assessment of Clash Of The Titans but the film is hanging in there with a 6.8 out of 10 average grading on the Internet Movie Database.  31% of critics have also given it the thumbs up on Rotten Tomatoes (which may sound low but it’s still surprising given my own thoughts).  I’m just trying to point out that there are some people who have liked it.


I sound like a broken record but there are times when I just can’t understand what goes through the minds of the public.  There are plenty of other good movies in release at the moment.  Why is it that a film like Clash Of The Titans can do so well?  Is it because of all the TV advertisements, movie trailers and posters?  Is it because people are still going ga-ga over 3D?  Is it because it’s being sold as a huge action blockbuster and that’s what people want to see on the big screen these days?  Maybe it’s a combination of all of these reasons.  Maybe there are other factors I’m not thinking of.


Good 3D v Bad 3D


When I walked up to ticket counter at the Event Cinemas in the Myer Centre on Thursday night, I asked for one ticket to Clash Of The Titans.  I was then told the cost was $20.  That my friends is what’s called a “rip off”.  My normal discount card gets me in for $8.50 at the Myer Centre but no such discounts are on offer for any 3D movies.


Many months ago, I wrote about why cinemas need to charge more for 3D.  The projectors are extremely expensive and they have to recover their costs somehow.  It’s the movie studios themselves who end up with the majority of the takings.


My main beef is not with big cinema chains (at least not this time).  I’d gladly pay $20 to see a 3D movie… provided that it gives you a 3D experience!  The two best examples I have this year are Avatar and How To Train Your Dragon.  These two movies were always meant to be in 3D and were filmed as such.  They take full advantage of the format.


In contrast, there are movies like Alice In Wonderland and Clash Of The Titans.  These movies were originally shot in 2D and had the 3D added later on using special effects.  You can tell the difference.  With Clash Of The Titans, the 3D adds next-to-nothing.  There were no scenes where I sat back in my seat saying “wow”.  Warner Brothers is just cashing in on the gimmick.


The only thing that irked me about the cinema I went to is that the 2D version was not offered.  If you do have a desire to see Clash Of The Titans let me strongly suggest you save your cash and find a cinema which is showing it in 2D.


With more and more studios trying to ride the 3D bandwagon, I hope this doesn’t become commonplace.  My plea to studios is that if you want to make a 3D movie then plan it that way!  Don’t use it as a “bolt on” during post-production.  The public will wise up eventually… or so I’d like to hope.


You can read more on this in a better written summary from the great film columnist Anne Thompson right here.


Leading critic Roger Ebert has been much more critical of the 3D format.  He recently said that “3-D is a distracting, annoying, anti-realistic, juvenile abomination to use as an excuse for higher prices.”  I disagree in that some films are better in 3D (e.g. Avatar) but I respect his opinion a great deal.


An April Fool’s Joke


My weekly review spot on 612ABC Brisbane happened to fall on 1 April this year.  Spencer Howson came up with the idea of reviewing a fake film to see if we could “fool” anyone.  You can listen to it by clicking right here.


If you don’t have audio, here’s a quick summary of the review that Spencer and I put together before the show…



I've reviewed some pretty strange movies in my time but I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this.


Tunnel Vision is a locally made Brisbane film and I’m always happy to support to the local film industry.  But don’t go expecting a cast filled with household names.  In fact, there’s no actual cast.  There aren’t even any locations!


Dutch filmmaker Sloop Lirpa was granted permission to attach a camera to the front of Florence, the boring machine that dug the north-south side of the Clem-7 tunnel.  Filming commenced in December 2007 and went through until April last year.


I love a good film score but sadly, Tunnel Vision doesn’t deliver in that department.  The soundtrack is pretty much the constant grinding of the machine.  It’ll really test your patience.  You may want to take own music player to help drown out the noise. 


I hate to give away the finale but I think we all know how this is going to end.  Florence broke through at Shafston Avenue on 16 April 2009.  There are bright lights and you can make out the sea of photographers waiting on the other side.  And that’s pretty much it.


But what makes this film is its experimental nature.  How long will you be sitting in the movie theatre waiting for the tunnel to bore through?  It is 10 minutes? 30 minutes? 90 minutes? 3 hours?  That’s a secret I won’t reveal.  Like The Crying Game and The Sixth Sense, do see it before someone spoils it for you.


I have to admit I almost walked out.  I’m glad I didn’t though.  I had the stamina to make it through and I now feel like I passed a test or joined a club.


So yes, this film will appeal to a very niche audience.  See it with friends.  Egg each other on.  Take bets on when the boring machine will break through.  Trust me, that scene is worth the wait.


It’s very hard to grade a film like this since we all have different tastes.  Some will give it an A.  Others will give it an F.  So I’ll just have to go with both and give it an A F.



A few were taken in by the joke.  The weekend presenter on 612ABC, Warren Boland, was keen to get the film’s director in for his own show.  I’m not much of a practical joker but it was fun to do.


Oh, and whilst I did also see Clash Of The Titans on April 1, my savage criticisms were NOT a joke.