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Archive for the ‘Australian Film’ Category

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Gleaming Teeth

What We Do in the Shadows – A Film Review

what we do in the shadows

REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

PLACE: Dendy Cinema 3

PIC: What We Do in the Shadows

PEEPS: About 50 present

I hate the #$%^ing meerkat ad. We got it, along with the usual bunch of short bites (sushi, menswear, framing, gifts, pancakes, booze) and the serious looking one for bar and restaurant that is curiously unlikely to inspire attendance*. Previews for Dracula Untold (lots of CGI and a script that sounds like it came from a random word generator), The Interview (James Franco and Seth Rogen set out to kill Kim Jong-Un who seems to get ridiculed a bit as well**) and Sin City (darkly luscious noir and a big cast that will need a pretty good story to justify it). So, the lesson is that the feature would involve humour, vampires and darkness***.

What We Do in the Shadows is set in the present day in NZ’s pretty capital city, Wellington, although it could be pretty well anywhere with a population in four of more digits. Inside an old house live four vampires with vaguely central European accents – seriously old Petyr (Ben Fransham), old and formerly powerful Vladislav (Jermain Clement), needy and annoying Viago (Taika Waititi) and youthful and lazy Deacon (Jonathan Brugh). They constitute a normal group house, with the usual tensions over housework and visitors that are explained by Viago to a visiting documentary film crew. Sometimes they go out, though they need to be invited into clubs**** and their need to snaffle promising people and drain them dry is a bit of a social handicap; sometimes they have standoffs with Wellington’s burgeoning werewolf community. Sometimes they, or their thirty-something female familiar, persuade people to come to the house where they will be attacked and drained after being subjected to the lads’ limited hospitality. The high point for the supernatural community is the masquerade ball, to be held in fairly ordinary premises. It cannot be an exciting life, but it’s eternal.

It’s not wholly satisfying, though the sketch comedy works well. Think of The Young Ones with very long teeth. Individual tropes work well, though scene endings can be a little ragged and there is not a consistent theme to follow. The script is amusing for the most part, with reactions to the social blunders of a newbie vampire being a high point. A feature film may not have been the right format; alternatively a film may have been better had it contained more unifying material or spent some time exploring the comedy inherent in much documentary-making.

The audience laughed like drains and a 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating (on a small sample) suggests there is a market which will lap it up like blood from an artery.

Three flat whites. Black pudding.

* – I have been to the premises in question, during the daytime when it attracts older people, and thought the place pretty good.
** – I’m guessing they’re not shooting for the Pyongyang Film Festival.
*** – the last two of which go together anyway.
**** – it’s a vampire thing. They can’t just walk in to someone else’s place.

Win tickets to the 2013 Japanese Film Festival

This month sees the return of the Japanese Film Festival which is now in its 17th season, and Two Flat Whites in association with the Japan Foundation Sydney are giving our lucky readers the chance to win 1 of 5 Double passes to the event (excluding opening night).

There are some fantastic movies at this year’s festival across all genres, including, the latest Takashi Miike (13 Assassins) offering ‘Shield of Straw” and Hideo Nakata (The Ring) latest movie “The Complex”.

To enter the competition, just head to our Facebook page and follow the post.

The 17th  Japanese Film Festival is on:

  • Broome: 17 Sep – 18 Sep
  • Perth: 23 Oct – 27 Oct
  • Hobart: 13, 14 & 16 Oct
  • Canberra: 30 Oct – 3 Nov
  • Townsville: 26 Oct
  • Sydney: 14 Nov – 24 Nov
  • Cairns: 3 Nov
  • Melbourne: 28 Nov – 8 Dec
  • Brisbane: 16 Oct – 20 Oct
  • Darwin: TBC

For more info on the festival click japanesefilmfestival.net

Interview with Jess Harris, Co-creator of ABC’s Twentysomething

Estelle Pigot throws the curly questions at Jess Harris, one of the creators of ABC2’s popular series twentysomething (DVDs in stores now!) which is now in its 2nd series.

Two Flat Whites also has 5 twentysomething Season 1 DVDs signed by both Jess and Josh available for our readers to win. Details are on our Facebook page.

Twenty_Something_S2_R-113872-9_3D[2] 

Where did the initial idea of Twentysomething spring from?

 JH: Josh [Schmidt, co-creator] and I were in the thick of our twenties. We found constant humour in the ups and downs of the life we were living. One minute you had not a care in the world, the next you were freaking out how to pay rent, hating your job and wondering if we would ever have any sense of creative fulfillment. We felt out of control of our own future, so we decide to take matters into our own hands and create a comedy about the life we were living.

 

What do you think your 20’s should be all about? Do your characters Josh and Jess have the right idea?

JH: I think your 20s is a time of exploration and freedom. Jess and Josh are making the most of being young; they are enjoying an era where you can be selfish and a little reckless. But there is also the burning desire to make your mark, to find your passion and purpose.

 

As actors, you might know something personally about odd-jobs and casual employment….

JH: We have done every sort of casual employment you can think of, from waiting tables, ripping tickets at cinemas, retail, babysitting, cleaners you name it. Even though, at the time, they weren’t the dream job, I look back on them all with fondness.

 

Are relationships a struggle during this decade of life? 

JH: Finding the perfect twentysomething partner in crime is such a huge part of your twenties, but it’s also a time you crave adventure and independence. My advice would be – enjoy the single life for as long as you can, it’s such a fleeting window of youth and freedom, run wild!

 

Was it a dream come true when you came across from Channel 31 to ABC?

JH: Definitely. It was the ultimate. ABC2 was the prefect next progression for the show.

 

What is Hamish Blake like to work with? 

JH: He’s the best. We have been friends with Hamish since high-school, so we are all so comfortable with each other. He brings such a sense of lightness to the set, he makes me laugh like not many others can, he is so sharp and funny, with such a massive heart. His character Billy brings out the sweet and vulnerable side in Jess, it’s the perfect balance to the show.

jess-and-josh

We have heard you hate the question, “What are you doing with yourselves?” but what are you up to next?

JH: You are right, we get anxious when we hear that question. We would love to stay twentysomething forever and live vicariously through Jess and Josh, I think a 3rd season would be amazing, to see them turn 30 would be the ultimate ending to an amazing chapter.

 

Follow twentysomething on Facebook  & go onto Two Flat White’s Facebook page to win one of 5 signed DVDs!

 

Pi In The Sea – Film Review

Life of Pie – Film Review

life-of-pi-movie1

REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

 

10:15 am, Life of Pi (3D).  About 20 present.

 

We were spared the usual ads for Kmart and local baseball because someone was trying to get the technology right.  For the same reason, we were spared previews, one of which would probably have been Jack Reacher, so we should be grateful for small mercies.  But it meant that we had no hints of what the great minds who run cinemas thought might appeal to people there to attend Life of Pi.

I had been in some doubt about whether this film could be made to work.  Yann Martel’s book, though quite slender, has some subtlety to it and modern cinema and subtlety tend to get on as well as a porn festival in Teheran.  Ang Lee does better with the material than many would have managed, and even sets out the dilemma at the core of the book without hammering any particular answer.  To do this, he creates a framework, not reflecting the book, where a frustrated author spends time with Pi* and hears his remarkable story of survival.

Unvarnished, the scenario is that Pi and family leave India on a freighter accompanied by the animals from their zoo, heading for Canada.  A storm claims the ship and months later, the survivor (Pi) and his lifeboat come ashore in Mexico.  Beyond that, there is a contest of beliefs in different versions, paralleling the contest between religions that Pi has experienced.  Does one prefer a probable but ugly truth or a claimed truth so remarkable it would be difficult to invent?

 Life-of-Pi-Richard-Parker

As would be expected from the previews, the film is a visual treat.  Some elements have obviously been added to distinguish and use the 3D format to advantage and it is probably worth a few extra bucks to see the 3D version.  A great performance by the novice star, Shuraj Sharma and general quiet competence all around the cast**.

It has “award winning” all over it.

Four flat whites.

FPB

 

* – originally Piscine Molitor Patel, born in Pondicherry and an enthusiast for several religions simultaneously.

** – even Gerard Depardieu.

 

 

Mentally Friendly – Mental

Mental – Film Review

Mental

REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

Ejected from my house by a tiler who needed to remove asbestos, where else to turn but the Dendy?  9:30 am, Cinema One, seven people (their very breaths echoing before the thing started).  Mental.

Lots of ads for coffee and coffee-appropriate food.  No fewer than four jewellers (including one touting a range of Paralympic promotional material) and an expensive menswear shop. If they spoke to anyone, it was not me.  I had already bathed in coffee, wear only Rivers clothes and (having been dumped*) have no need for jewellery.  The previews included the seriously woeful-looking Pitch Perfect. Also, Parental Guidance has Meryl Streep and Billy Crystal as an old-but-new couple trying to interact with her daughter and family.   Bring your own Quick-Eze and maybe a bucket.

The feature spends a bit of time cannibalising the soundtrack of The Sound of Music and the deeply affecting imagery of Lost in Space.  Setting is Dolphin Point somewhere on the northern NSW coast but maybe with bits elsewhere.  It’s the age old story of a father who is a small town king with no time for his family.  If his put-upon wife, her sanity leaking at the edges, had wanted fidelity she’d have bought a new sound system.  They live among the anally-tidy and repressed, and the poor mother is mocked wherever she goes.  The happy couple has five daughters, all of whom imagine themselves insane.  It is, of course, All Dad’s Fault.  Mum goes away for a while (we all know it’s not really to Wollongong) after a pretty good meltdown and Dad recruits a feral hitchhiker to care for his daughters so he can continue to neglect them. mental2

Meanwhile, the eldest daughter is falling for a surfie-dude who writes songs and plays them on an acoustic guitar and works at the same cheesy funpark she does.  The daughter has just been sent to work in the shark exhibit with a Steve Irwin-gone-gruff bloke called Trevor Blundell**.  Anyhow, we all know where things are going as the wacky outsider leads a pack of self-described losers.

I read that the story had some personal elements for PJ Hogan, the director.  Apart from the main story, there is a social inclusion theme, a hiss at McMansion world and some dredging of past pain.  There’s also a few outings for a previously taboo four letter word*** that would probably cause discomfort to some older folk.

It’s quite funny in parts, and it raises some serious issues.  But there’s not enough of either.

FPB

 

* – see previous reviews for earlier whines about this.

** – Liev Schreiber, doing a wonderful job with the Oz accent.  Really, he could say that a dingo took his baby and sound way more credible than La Streep.

*** – though I understand some feminists may see its use in general speech as a sign of empowerment or something.

A Different Road – LORE

 

REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

To the cavernous pit that is Cinema One.  The handful of us sitting there were like leaves blowing around with nowhere to go.  Meanwhile, substantial numbers had lined up for the Madagascar movie, the adults with dutiful looks.  For it was still school holidays in the ACT and the day was bleak.

Previews for The Words, which is definitely worth a look, with Bradley Cooper (the current go-to man for many things) and Dennis Quaid* appearing to do fine things.  And a French movie, not The Intouchables this time, about the struggle of a disregarded son to follow the winemaking footprints of his father.  Yawn, shrug (Gallically).

I was after darker fare and found it in Lore, (that’s pronounced Law-ray, by the way, an abbreviation of the fine German name Hannelore).  Before commenting briefly, it is prudent to observe that few would disagree that the Nazis were the most appalling people ever to walk the planet although a few have tried to emulate them.  Nothing should ever get in the way of that truth.

Anyhow, the less than magical Reich that was Nazi Germany is in collapse as the film opens.  The loyal Nazi family of an SS officer collect their belongings in a truck and head for the Black Forest, leaving Dad behind.  After a time of growing desperation, the mother** tells their teenage daughter, Lore, to take the other children to their grandmother’s house near Hamburg.  The two girls, two little boys and a baby set off on a long trip through a hell that is made even more punishing by the beautiful summer weather.  They are exploited and frightened, and receive kindness only from Thomas, a resourceful if callous young man who may or may not be Jewish.  His motive is unclear until the end.

See it for the snapshot of life and attitudes at a time and place when certainty was dissolving into grief and blame and everyone lied rather than admit the truth.  See it for the wonderful sense of place, from the shaded forests to the open farmlands and then to the mudflats of Schleswig-Holstein.  See it for performances that are more real than young actors should know how to offer.  And see it for the reflection it offers on how the Nazis worked, through deceit and degradation of anyone they opposed.

The film is a German/Australian production and probably cost less than the coconut water and white omelette budget for Total Recoil.

 

* – not Randy Quald or Quade Cooper, either of whom would have looked ridiculous.

** – who demonstrates some of the personality characteristics that made the Nazis so popular.

The 16th Japanese Film Festival – 14th to 25th Nov

The Japanese Film Festival (JFF) started in 1997 with three free film screenings by Festival Director Masafumi Konomi.

From humble beginnings, the JFF has grown exponentially over the past 15 years, enjoying positive success in all areas. Last year the festival celebrated its 15th year with an attendance of approximately 22,000 nation-wide, quickly taking place as one of the largest Japanese Film Festivals outside of Japan.

The JFF has had the pleasure of showing a variety of films over the past years from classics to newly released films that are currently screening in Japan.

The Japanese Film Festival is presented by the Japan Foundation, Sydney who manages and run the two flagship cities, Sydney and Melbourne. Other Australian cities with abridged programs are assisted with the help of the Embassy of Japan and the Consulate-General of Japan or respecting cities.

Make sure you check out the festival this year, it’s going to be one of the best. You can catch it in Sydney from the 14th Nov to 25th Nov & in Melbourne from 29th Nov to 9 Dec. See you there!

SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 2011

икониThe Sydney Underground Film Festival has today announced their audacious line up for the fifth annual festival. True to its pursuits as a festival showcasing films that push the boundaries of convention, this year’s line-up will include a unique mix of both local and international films that delve in to the perverse, the political and the diabolical.

Screening 100 shorts and 21 features over one huge weekend, the Festival will kick off on 8th September with the Sydney premiere of the eagerly anticipated SUPER from director James Gunn (TROMEO AND JULIET, SLITHER) and starring Rainn Wilson, Liv Tyler and Ellen Page.

Festival highlights are also set to include GUILTY OF ROMANCE from acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono (SUICIDE CLUB), music documentary LAST DAYS HERE from American filmmakers Don Argott and Demian Fenton, WILLIAM S BURROUGHS: A MAN WITHIN by American filmmaker Yony Leyser, the politically charged documentary BETTER THIS WORLD from Kelly Duane de la Vega & Katie Galloway, and Sydney based film X from local filmmaker Jon Hewitt. There are also favourite short film sessions such as ANIMATION FORNICATION, LOVE/SICK and LSD FACTORY and also screening will be short films by Guy Maddin, Jonathan Caouette, Don Hertzfeldt, and Harmony Korine.

Sydney Underground Film Festival director Stefan Popescu said ‘We are delighted to present the program for the 5th annual Sydney Underground Film Festival. Our aim for 2011 was to present a diverse program that was wild, edgy and unconventional and we are certain this year’s line-up will titillate the senses and provide Sydney film-goers with a cinema experience they will never forget!’

DATES: 8th – 11th September 2011
LOCATION: Factory Theatre, Marrickville
TICKETS: www.suff.com.au

Music Video Mash Up 2011

The call is out for bands and filmmakers in the 2011 Music Video Mash Up – a yearly competition that pairs up and coming musicians and directors across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.  Following on from a huge inaugural year last year, The Music Video Mash Up filmmaking competition is back for 2011- and with the addition of Sydney and Melbourne to the competition,  bigger and better than ever.

There’s a stack of info @ www.mvmu.com.au and below but in short: MVMU is a time-based music video making competition. It’s simple:

•    Bands and filmmakers register (for their respective city – Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane)
•    They are then paired up randomly and given just THREE days (Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend (June 10-13, 2011)) to create, shoot, edit and submit a music video.
•    Bands – all you need is a recorded original song (no covers)
•    Filmmakers – all you need is a camera and a crew

There are stacks of prizes to be won including the winning clip playing on Video Hits, PLUS a representative from the winning band and filmmakers will be flown to the Video Hits set to be interviewed on air!  All entries are also showcased at a special premiere at Palace cinemas in their respective cities.

Serge Gainsbourg Movie Ticket Giveaway

Over at Design Federation they are giving readers the chance to win one of 10 double passes to see Gainsbourg, a movie about the life and times of the legend Serge Gainsbourg.

To enter, click the link

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