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 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.

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.

Spanish Film Festival


We seemingly have a film festival on each month in Brisbane and so… brace yourself for the 2009 Spanish Film Festival. The festival runs from May 21 to 31 at the Palace Centro Cinemas in New Farm.


There are 18 different films being screened. Some are new and some are classics which you may not have had the chance to see before. There’s a special spotlight on actor Javier Camara. You can see him in his new film, Chef’s Special, which one the audience award at the Malaga Spanish Film Festival, and you can see him in Talk To Her, a great drama from director Pedro Almodovar which won the Oscar for best original screenplay in 2002.


You can find out more by clicking here: Tickets are $15 for adults and $13.50 for students. Muchas gracias!


Aussie Cinema – The Good News


I spoke about it in last week’s issue and having seen it over the weekend, I can report that Samson & Delilah is a fantastic Australian film. The public seem to agree. The film made just under $200,000 over the weekend in Australia which is a strong considering (a) it was showing in just 12 cinemas and (b) it is an Aboriginal love story with little dialogue – not exactly a marketers dream. Hopefully the word of mouth continues to spread.


Aussie Cinema – The Bad News


I saw a cheap Aussie horror flick on Saturday night at the Palace Barracks starring Natalie Bassingthwaighte. I don’t think I’ve seen such bad acting in a film. Given I was the only person sitting in the cinema. I don’t think it’ll around for much longer. To make matters worse, the screening was 15 minutes late and when I paid for my parking with a $50 note, the machine gave me my change in $2 coins. It was like a poker machine. I can’t see how showing rubbish films like these will be profitable for cinemas.


Star Trek


Star Trek was a huge hit at the U.S. box office over the weekend with a nice $72m total. The previous biggest opening by a Star Trek movie was First Contact in 1996 with $30m (or about $50m in today’s dollars). It justifies the decision to “reboot” this series and most critics have been giving it the thumbs up. I’m in that camp and if you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you do so.


See you next week.


Samson & Delilah


Everyone seems to be going ga-ga over the new Australian film Samson & Delilah. Last week on At The Movies, both Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton gave it 5 stars each. That’s the first time they’ve done that since No Country For Old Men (almost 18 months ago). Des Partridge of The Courier Mail has also been raving and has seen the film three times already.

Further, the film has been selected in the Un Certain Regard competition at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. This is a very prestigious honour.


So is the film any good? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you yet. I went along to Dendy Portside on Sunday afternoon to check out an advance screening but it was sold out. How about that? When was the last time you saw an Australian film playing in sold out sessions?


Hopefully the buzz propels the film to success at our local box office. I’ll provide my specific thoughts in next week’s issue.


I’ve also had a chance to see My Year Without Sex, a new Aussie film from the director of Look Both Ways (one of my top 10 films of 2005). It’s out on May 28 and definitely worth a look. It would seem that 2009 is going to be a memorable one for Australian cinema. Well overdue.


A Suspenseful Ending?


I love a good thriller but I had a rather interesting experience last Thursday night which takes the term “suspenseful ending” to a new high. I was at a preview screening for State Of Play, the new political thriller starring Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren, Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams which is released on May 28.


We were about three quarters into the film when sound problems developed with the reel. These couldn’t be fixed and so we had to stop the screening.


I enjoyed the film a great deal leading up to this point but I was left hanging… without an ending. Who was behind the conspiracy being investigated in the film?


I’m rather amused by the breakdown because it’s like a soap opera that leaves you waiting for the next episode. I have my hunches but will have to see the next part to find out. I’m off to see the film again on Wednesday and fingers crossed that we make it to the finale.


To all a good night.