Billy Elliot Sweeps Tonys & New Website Launched!
- Written by Matthew Toomey
Well, after months of work, my new website is up and running. You can check it out at www.thefilmpie.com.
Some important things to note are as follows:
It looks better than the old website – which was officially classed as an “eyesore”.
I’ve removed my pages on recent video releases and coming soon releases. I don’t watch that many videos these days (since I see most movies at the cinema) so don’t have the time to update any more.
The front page contains info on all my recent posts – new full reviews, new blogs and my last 10 mini reviews.
I’ve put in some pictures (in the right column of most pages) of my favourite movies. This should hopefully give it some colour. My mug is on the front page only (don’t want to scare people away).
When I list films in my now showing and coming soon pages, you can click on links which will take you directly to their IMDB page for more info.
There is now a search function so that you can type in anything (film title, actor name, etc) and find out any reference in a review, blog or listing.
There’s a lot more stuff I’m hoping to introduce in the next few months include comments. This will allow people to post their own thoughts on my reviews, mini reviews and blog postings. I’m also going to be updating my cinema reviews.
My time is currently being occupied at the moment with bringing across all my old full reviews into the new website format. There are just over 1,000 reviews and considering that one review takes about 2 minutes of labour time to copy, paste, format, etc, I’m looking at roughly 34 man hours. So far, I’ve brought across every review since 2006 which is a total of 339. Still a long way to go yet but will hopefully be done within a month or so.
If anyone has any suggestions or constructive criticisms then please let me know. I’m trying to make it the most useful site I can without creating something that will take me forever to update each week.
Billy Elliot Sweeps Tony Awards
Anyone who knows me well can tell you my all time favourite film. It’s Billy Elliot. I saw it in 2000 (5 times in the cinema in fact) and it’s had a place in my heart ever since. We all have different favourites but for whatever reason, there’s something about the plot, the acting, the music, the director that connected with me. I’m yet to see a film which is its equal.
In 2005, I travelled to London and as part of that trip, I saw Billy Elliot The Musical with its original cast at the Victoria Palace Theatre. You can read my thoughts at http://www.thefilmpie.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=230. It won a bunch of Olivier Awards (the major theatre awards in the UK) including best actor in a musical and best new musical. Its still showing in London after 4 years.
The show then came to Australia where it played in Sydney and Melbourne. It also won awards and is still showing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne. I haven’t had a chance to see the Australian show but would very much like to.
Then, in November 2008, Billy Elliot: The Musical opened on Broadway in New York City. What did the tough American critics make of it…
“A non-stop runaway blockbuster of a smash. The best show you will ever see!” – New York Post
“Out of the most electric, passionate and exhilarating shows to land on Broadway in years.” – TimeOut
“Seductive and smashing with intoxicating, fleet-footed flashes of art and big, knock-‘em-dead sequences.” – The New York Times
“A triumph!” – Time Magazine
I can now report that Billy Elliot has swept the Tony Awards (the major theatre awards in the US) with a phenomenal 10 awards. It won best musical and best actor in a musical (shared by the 3 boys who play Billy). The three lead actors are the youngest winners of a leading acting prize in Tony Award history.
There’s something about this story that has captivated not just me. I think it’ll be showing on Broadway for many years to come.
I also need to congratulate Australian Geoffrey Rush on winning his first Tony Award for his performances in Exit The King. Rush now becomes only the 17th person to win an Oscar (the top award in film), an Emmy (the top award in television) and a Tony (the top award in theatre). Well done Geoffrey!
Blockbuster Box-Office Update & Early BIFF News
- Written by Matthew Toomey
My website is still in development. Sorry about that. Will hopefully be one more week. My current website has been light on for updates in the meantime but keep the faith… it won’t be long now.
Brisbane International Film Festival
Word is trickling through about the 2009 Brisbane International Film Festival. It will be held this year between 30 July and 9 August.
The opening night film will be An Education. As per the Internet Movie Database, it’s “A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.” It has been written directly for the screen by Nick Hornby – the author of Fever Pitch, About A Boy and High Fidelity. The film was extremely well received at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award. It stars Peter Sarsgaard, Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Dominic Cooper, Rosamund Pike and Olivia Williams. 23-year-old Mulligan will be in Brisbane for Opening Night and should be a major drawcard. Her biggest role to date was as Kitty Bennet is 2005’s Pride and Prejudice.
Also at the Festival will be Amitabh Bachchan, a legendary Indian actor and producer. He also hosted India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
The Festival will be officially launched in July and I’ll be sure to fill you in on more details as they come to hand.
Box Office Numbers
The U.S. summer blockbuster season is now well underway and I thought I’d provide a quick wrap of the hits and misses so far.
Star Trek has been the big hit so far and deservedly so. It’s pulled in over $209m at the box-office and is still in the top 5 after four weeks of release. A sensational effort considering the last Star Trek film made just $43m.
I know I wasn’t a big fan of it but X-Men Origins: Wolverine has also been solid with $170m over 5 weeks. I guess the leaking of the film on the internet didn’t hurt business too much. You’d have to think a sequel is in the pipeline.
On the flip side, Angels And Demons has been somewhat of a disappointment. It’s only made $105m through its first 3 weeks. The Da Vinci Code had made $171m over the same period two years ago. I wonder why people were turned off?
Terminator: Salvation has also struggled to build momentum. It debuted at number 2 last week behind Night At The Museum 2 and suffered a heavy drop off this week to notch just $90m in its first 10 days. Terminator 3 (released in 2003) made $20m more in that timeframe. I guess this series hasn’t quite gotten the “reboot” that Star Trek did.
The big hit over the weekend in the States was the Disney animated film, Up, which is also showing in 3D in certain cinemas. It’s not released in Australia until September but will be getting plenty of buzz after opening with $68m in the U.S.
Samson & Delilah Wins Camera D'or In Cannes
- Written by Matthew Toomey
I’m almost there with my new website. I should have it up and running by next weekend so keep your eyes peeled for the launch.
Samson & Delilah In Cannes
Amazing news came out of Cannes this morning with Samson & Delilah winning the prestigious Camera D’or prize. This honour to given to the best film from a first time director. Previous winners include Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise), Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!) and Steve McQueen (Hunger). The last Australian to win was Shirley Barrett in 1996 for Love Serenade. Strangely, it didn’t propel Barrett to major success. She made only one other film – the so-so Walk The Talk in 2000.
I’ve been talking about Samson & Delilah for the past few weeks in my blog and this is an incredible honour for the cast and crew. It might even give the film a chance internationally.
It’s going to be difficult but I still think this film is best seen with no expectations. Whenever you build something up, there’s an increased likelihood that you’ll come away disappointed. Still, I had read many of the great reviews beforehand and still enjoyed it. Make sure you do see it.
Director Warwick Thornton has done a great job and I’m glad to see him recognised. He’s taken two dislikeable Aboriginal teenagers living in the remote outback and created a moving love story with zero dialogue. You won’t see too many other films take on such a gamble… except for Antichrist (see below).
Other Cannes Winners
The most prestigious prize of the festival, the Palm D’or, was won by French director Michael Haneke and his film, The White Ribbon. As per a news report – “It tells the story of strange goings-on in a repressed and maliciously nasty northern German village shortly before the first world war.” That’s about all I know. Oh, it’s got no music, it’s in black and white and it’s close to three hours long. Hmmm, tough sell that one.
I became a fan of Haneke after he released Hidden in 2005. It received a rare A+ from me and is one crazy movie. I wasn’t a huge fan of his recent Funny Games remake but I look forward to seeing this new work.
The best actress prize was won by Charlotte Gainsborough for Antichrist – the same film I spoke about last week which was booed loudly at its premiere. How bizarre. I can’t really describe the stuff which is in this movie (I’d like to keep it PG) but you can read more at the following link http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article6322432.ece. Open it if you dare.
Best actor was won by Christoph Waltz in Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Inglourious Basterds. I’m really looking forward to this film too. Early reviews have been mixed but the fact that it too is controversial has only further wet my appetite. As per the IMDB, it’s set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II and tells the story of “a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as "The Basterds" are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis.”
Until we meet again.
A Cannes Disaster & My Thoughts On Vmax
- Written by Matthew Toomey
I’ve been busily working on my new website over the past two weeks and I’ll hopefully be able to go live with it soon. For this reason, my weekly spool has been a bit light on of late. All my free time (what little there is) has been devoted to the website.
Cannes Film Festival - Antichrist
The 2009 Cannes Film Festival is underway and we’ve already got a talking point – the new film from Lars Von Trier called Antichrist. I’m a fan of Von Trier for such films as Breaking The Waves and Dogville. We’ll here’s a sampling of articles describing his new film…
"The film, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a couple seeking to overcome the grief of losing their only child, has quickly become the most talked-about at this year's festival, which ends on 5.24. Cannes notoriously picky critics and press often react audibly to films during screenings, but Sunday evening's viewing was unusually demonstrative. Jeers and laughter broke out during scenes ranging from a talking fox to graphically-portrayed sexual mutilation.” – Mike Collett-White (Reuters)
“But my God, what a screening! What a reaction! Critics howling, hooting, shrieking. There's no way Antichrist isn't a major career embarrassment for co-stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and a possible career stopper for Von Trier. It's an out-and-out disaster -- one of the most absurdly on-the-nose, heavy-handed and unintentionally comedic calamities I've ever seen in my life. On top of which it's dedicated to the late Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, whose rotted and decomposed body is now quite possibly clawing its way out of the grave to stalk the earth, find an axe and slay Von Trier in his bed.” – Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere)
“Whether this is a bad, good or great film is entirely beside the point. It is an audacious spit in the eye of society. It says we harbor an undreamed-of capacity for evil. It transforms a psychological treatment into torture undreamed of in the dungeons of history. Torturers might have been capable of such actions, but they would have lacked the imagination. Von Trier is not so much making a film about violence as making a film to inflict violence upon us, perhaps as a salutary experience. It’s been reported that he suffered from depression during and after the film. You can tell. This is the most despairing film I’ve ever have seen.” – Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times)
As bad as this film sounds, I feel compelled to want to see it – just to find out just how bad it is. I’m guessing it’ll never get a cinema release based on this buzz but I’ll hopefully be able to catch it on DVD in about a year or so.
The festival continues on and in next week’s issue, I’ll provide a breakdown of the major award winners.
I had the chance over the weekend to experience the new V-Max cinemas at Chermside. They’ve given Cinema 3 a refurbishment and put in wider, posh seats with little tables in between. It’s a hybrid between regular class and gold class. The difference being that you can fit hundreds of people in a V-Max cinema.
Here’s the marketing blurb from the Greater Union website – “Vmax auditoriums feature stadium seating with a giant state-of-the-art 20m silver screen capable of showing the latest in digital 3D film product as well as all the latest blockbusters. The seats have been exclusively designed to provide additional comfort through extra seat space, contoured high backs, tables and double the amount of leg room.”
It’s an interesting idea but I have to raise my concerns over the cost. Ticket prices are $17.50 at Chermside for a full adult. That’s $2 more than the regular price – which is an already outrageous $15.50.
The Southbank, Balmoral, Hawthorn group of cinemas charge just $8.50 for an adult ticket on weekends. You have to pay more than double if you want to experience “Vmax”. It’s a lot to play – especially in this economic climate.
I’m sure it’ll have its fans. When it comes to movies, the public tend to favour their local cinema. Wasting time and petrol driving to Southbank isn’t worth the effort sometimes. But I’d be curious to know just how much money Vmax cinemas will bring in to the Greater Union bottom line and whether people are prepared to pay the extra $2 when you can see the same film in a regular cinema.
See you next week.