A New Radio Show!

I kick started a brand new radio spot last Friday morning on ABC Southern Queensland with host David Iliffe.

It’s a special DVD spot which looks at the films being released in that week. The most exciting part is that each week, I’ll review one older release – one that people might have missed but will be a good find on the weekly shelves of the video store. I started out last week with my all time favourite film – Billy Elliot (I couldn’t resist).

You can check out a podcast of my first show at

Other podcasts will be available on the ABC site and of course if you’re living in the south part of Queensland, you can listen live – the show airs at 6:45am every Thursday morning.

You can always catch my other shows too – Thursday mornings at 6:50am on 612 ABC here in Brisbane and Thursday afternoons at 5:30pm on Logan 101.1FM. I am a busy man.

Toomey Awards

Every year, I have my own set of awards which I like to dish out. It’s modelled on the Academy Awards and has very similar categories. Don’t worry about voting – my awards are a dictatorship where I pick and nominate all the winners. I like it that way…

You can view this year’s list of nominees at

My top 5 films for the past 12 months are – Burning After Reading, Milk, Persepolis, Revolutionary Road and The Wrestler. Not the best list but not a bad list at the same time. 5 great films if you haven’t had a chance to see them yet.

New Website Update

My new website has been up and running for about a month and thanks to everyone for their feedback.

It’s taken a lot of man hours but I’ve finally converted and uploaded all of my old reviews – there are 1,037 in total. Over the next week or so, I’ll put proper links in my review lists to help people find them.

Further, I’m going to bring back an abbreviated version of the video section from my old website. It seems that there’s still a lot of demand for it and given that I’m now doing a special DVD review show, it’s certainly worth having. Stay tuned.

Brisbane International Film Festival

The Brisbane International Film Festival will be held from July 30 to August 9, predominantly at the Hoyts Regent Cinema in the heart of the city. The official launch is later this week but you can already see details of the films that will be screening at the BIFF website –

There are a few films that have tweaked my attention but I’m sure there’ll be a lot more following the launch and my reading of the full program. In next week’s issue, I’ll include a breakdown of what films I plan on seeing.

In other exciting news, this will be the last BIFF to be held at this time of the year. In 2010, it has been revealed that the Festival will be moved to November. I think it’s a great move. November is usually a quiet, lacklustre time of the year in terms of movies and this will certainly give it some spark. Hopefully, it will also allow a wider range of films to be screened – particularly since its closer to Oscar season and near the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. I’m used to getting rugged up for long queues outside of the Regent in winter – it looks like this will be final time.

A Very Late Merchant

Released this Thursday at the Palace Centro Cinema is The Merchant Of Venice. The film looks interesting (I’ll be checking it out for sure) but what surprises me is the year in which it was made – 2004. It was released in the UK and the United States almost five years ago. Wow. Why wasn’t it released in Australia back then? Why the wait? The film stars Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes and Charlie Cox – I guess they’ll all be looking a little younger than I expect.

A Public Transformed

I wasn’t a huge fan of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen and have had some fun arguments with friends about it.  There seems to be a 50/50 like/dislike ratio.

It hasn’t stopped the film becoming a stunning hit at the box-office.  It has opened with $16.3m in its first 5 days in Australia which is bigger than any other film this year (including Star Trek, Terminator 4, Wolverine).  In fact, that’s the biggest four-day weekend since Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King back in 2003.  That’s stunning.  I know the first film was popular but I didn’t this one would generate such intense interest.

The numbers in the United States were just as big.  Transformers took in $201m in its first 5 days over there.  That’s just nuts.  To put that into perspective, Stark Trek (which was loved by most), has only made $246m in its first 8 weeks.  Transformers is on track to beat that within a single week.  If it can maintain its momentum and crack the $400m mark (I’ve got a few doubts), it’ll be in the top 10 of all time chart.

What does all of this mean?  One word – sequels.

Top Of The Pops

Exciting news filtered through with the release of the latest radio ratings in Brisbane.  612 ABC is back in the number 1 spot.  You can view all the ratings on page 3 of the following PDF file -

ABC scored 12.7% in the breakfast timeslot (5:30am to 9am).  Not far behind were Nova (11.8%), B105 (11.4%) and 4MMM (10.8%).  It’s excellent news for Spencer and I’m very proud to be a small part of the show.  In case you’ve forgotten (wink wink, nudge nudge), you can hear my show on Thursday mornings at 6:50am.

I’ll be talking about plenty of big films in the coming weeks including Ice Age 2, Bruno and Harry Potter.  Make sure you tune in… if you’re up at that hour of the morning.

Oscars Newsflash – 10 Best Picture Nominees!

Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced their biggest news in the 15 years that I’ve been covering the Oscars.  From 2010, there will be 10 nominees for best picture instead of just 5.

Why?  Well, up until 1943, there were always 10 nominees for the best picture.  That was the year Casablanca took the honour.  Since then, it has always been just 5 nominees – in line with most of the other categories.  Academy President Sid Ganis said at the press conference that “"Having 10 best picture nominees is going to allow academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize.”

News of the change has spread like wildfire across the internet and everyone seems to have an opinion.  Those against the idea proclaim that it will dilute the best picture category.  We have trouble enough finding 5 decent films to include – does such as change mean that mediocre films will creep into the list?

I disagree and am supportive of the idea.  In recent years, the top 5 films have become so predictable.  It’s the same films over and over again at each award show.  The best picture nominees usually receive nominations in the acting and craft categories also – leaving very little room for other movies.  By having 10 films, it creates an opportunity for more films to get a little recognition.  It may be their only nomination but it’s a big one to get.

Also, the best picture list is usually dominated by dramas.  By having 10 nominees, it could allow a few comedies or action films to sneak onto the list.  They’re no chance of winning but when you look at all 10 nominees, it will give you a better reflection of the range of films from that particular year.  For example, a film such as Star Trek or I Love You Man, which would usually be zero chance at a nomination, now have a shot.

When I look back, it’s a shame that this wasn’t introduced many years ago.  Films I have loved such as Billy Elliot, Almost Famous, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Leaving Las Vegas, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, The Ice Storm, Mulholland Drive, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, The Lives Of Others… I could go on forever… could have scored a best picture nomination.

How this is going to play out at next year’s Oscars will be a fun guessing game.  Will the extra 5 nominees be small, independent films with a strong, die-hard supporter base?  Or will they be from big blockbusters?  Since most lead-up award shows only have 5 nominees, it’s going to be much harder from my end to predict.  It’ll be fun though.

Last Tuesday (June 16), I had a chance to see a play here at the Bille Brown Studio at West End called 25 Down.  It was produced by the Queensland Theatre Company and written by 26-year-old Richard Jordan.  His script won the Premier’s Drama Award last year.

Now let me just say that I don’t get to the theatre very often.  I wish I did though.  Given that I see 220 odd movies a year, it’s often hard to find the time.  It’s also difficult to find people to go with.  There’s a “stigma” attached to theatre which makes people think that it’s only for upper class society.  Not every thinks like that but I know plenty of people who do.

Over the past twelve months, there have been a few performances I wanted to catch.  There was Attack Of The Attacking Attackers, a sci-fi horror spoof performed at the La Boite Theatre.  There was Chicago (the musical) which showed a the Lyric Theatre and starred Catherine O’Connor.  I missed both sadly.

That was not to be the case with 25 Down.  Having read some great reviews on the internet and seeing that it boasted a young cast, I figured it was worth the effort.  I signed up a couple of friends (Jonno and Ange) and went along.  It’s actually a really nice theatre.  We got there about an hour beforehand and had a drink and a few nibbles in the foyer.  The show was a sell out with roughly 200 in the audience.  There were definitely more older people but it was good to see quite a few young faces in the crowd.

Before commenting on the play itself, I have to comment on the wonders of live theatre.  Call me naive but I have the utmost respect for what the cast and crew put themselves through.  I sent Richard Jordan a congratulatory email after the show and he said that it took two and a half years to get from the first draft to today’s production.  That’s a lot of effort and I’m sure there would have been plenty of ups and downs along the way.  So many budding writers never make it this far and yet they keep plugging away.

As for the cast, they spent months in rehearsals going through every word, every gesture, every movement.  Now I know we all have our own jobs and probably work just as hard as these actors do but I still find it impressive.  They come back night after night and perform the same show.  It’s not like a movie where you can always cut and try another take.  They put themselves out there and can’t afford to make a mistake.  Given I’m usually in a darkened theatre looking up at a big white screen, it was refreshing to see something “live”.

The play itself was really good.  It’s about a group of young people who are drifting aimlessly through life, in search of a future and in search of love.  There are some great one-on-one conversations which are both intelligent and insightful.  It gave us plenty to reflect upon when leaving the theatre and dissecting it over dinner.

I’m having difficulty summing up all of the film’s messages and emotions without oversimplifying it.  What I took away from the story is that whilst we may think we’re alone and that we have our own unique problems, this is rarely the case.  You’ll learn that pretty quickly when you meet these characters.  Having spent years doing what is necessary to fit in and “keep up appearances”, they let down their guard and reveal their insecurities.

The one sad part about seeing a play is that all that remains afterwards is a memory.  For my favourite TV shows and movies, I can always buy the DVD and watch it whenever I like.  That’s not the case with a live show.  When it all wraps up, the director, the writer and the cast all go their separate ways and move on to new projects.  This reminds me of one of all time favourite quotes – “I’m not going to tell this story the way it happened.  I’m going to tell it the way I remember it.”

As I mentioned earlier, 25 Down is currently showing at West End up until July 4.  You can find out more and buy tickets at  The cost is between $30 and $56.  Many of the sessions have been sold out in its first two weeks so you’re best to book ahead.

Now that my eyes have been opened to what wonders are on offer in the Brisbane theatre world, I’ll be making more of an effort to see a lot more in the near future.  25 Down has left a lasting impression.

Cinebuzz Ad

I see a few movies at Greater Union & Birch Carroll Coyle Cinemas (because of the convenience, not the price) and I have to say that I like the advertisement campaign they’ve used in recent months with the hidden movie title advertisement.

If you haven’t seen it, the ad is roughly a minute long and is purported to include 50 movie titles.  It’s a fun distraction before the film and each time, I try to find something new.

If you have seen it, then you might be curious to know how you’ve gone.  Which ones did you get right?  Are there any that you’ve missed?

If you go to the following Youtube link -, you can see the add with the 50 titles revealed.  I think they’re wrong with a couple of them but it’s still good to watch.  I think I got about 30 of them without having to cheat.

Off To The Bathroom?

Here’s another interesting website which you might like to have a look at -

It’s called RunPee.  As you can see on the website, it tells you the best time to go to the toilet during the movie.  They try to pick a quiet point in the middle of the movie where you won’t miss anything really funny or really important.

Now, I’m not quite sure how it works in reality.  If you check this before the movie, won’t it reveal parts of the movie?  You could check it on your phone while in the bathroom but is there really enough time?

It’s a funny site anyway.  To give you an example, the best time to skip to the bathroom during The Hangover is when “Phil calls Tracy – the fiancé – to tell her that everything is going great and they got the room comped so they are staying another night.”

The Hangover has been a big smash hit since its release and I recommend you go see it.  It’s been number 1 in the United States for two weeks in a row and it topped the Aussie box-office when released last weekend.

Operas?  Plays?

I’ve been surprised over the last year with this new trend for cinemas to show recordings of operas and plays.  The Palace Centro has been doing it for some time and their program can be viewed on their website.  There are special one-off screenings every 2 weeks or so.  I’ve heard that some screenings have been sold out in the past.

The Blue Room has also been getting into the action.  They’ve got some operas from Milan showing this weekend – roughly 2 hours, 40 minutes long with a 15 minute interval in the middle.  I guess we don’t quite get the big, grand operas here in little old Brisbane so this is our best chance to see them.  I haven’t been myself yet to one of these screenings but I may have to do so.  I’m curious to know how it all looks on the big screen and whether any of the spectacle is lost.

I’m going to see the real thing tomorrow night – a play at the Billy Brown Studio here in Brisbane called 25 Down.  I think there have been a lot of interesting plays and musicals showing in Brisbane this year (more to come to) so I’ve finally gotten off my butt and decided to see one.  It’ll be a refreshing change from the movies (I saw some shockers over the weekend – see above) but I’m sure I’ll still be in “critic” mode.