A selection of think pieces, analysis and op-eds
Going Full Mendo: the five greatest Ben Mendelsohn performances
It feels like Mendo’s transformation from a squeamishly good character actor, best-known for playing an assortment of creepy criminals, to an eating-puppies-for-breakfast uber villain has been gradual. Then, POW!
Aactas 2017: do Australia’s biggest screen awards have a problem with populism?
There were notable snubs again this year and the most popular movie always wins. Still, quibbles aside, Lion is a great film.
In the wake of Milo Yiannopoulos’ tour, do we really need another Romper Stomper?
Stan’s new series is coming whether we like it or not. But who really wants to watch a show told from the perspective of neo-Nazis and violent alt-righters?
My strange and surreal encounter with Tommy Wiseau, creator of The Room
I had no idea what he was talking about, and increasingly felt that he had no idea what I was talking about either. Wiseau was infuriatingly elusive and the whole thing came and went like a very strange dream.
Beyond weird and beyond creepy: why is Mel Gibson in Daddy’s Home 2?
What the hell is Mel Gibson doing in this movie? That is a question surely bouncing around the mind of anybody who has been assaulted by the trailer for Daddy’s Home 2, which is anybody who has watched the trailer for Daddy’s Home 2.
Happy 30th bday, Predator: you kicked arse in the 80s – and you’re even better now
The elements that make Predator not only a roaring piece of entertainment, but a great work of art, have become more pronounced with time.
From Mick Jagger to Heath Ledger: Australia’s bungled quest to make a great Ned Kelly film
With Justin Kurzel’s new movie in the works, will Australia’s favourite villain finally get the film treatment he deserves?
Dear Hollywood: Jigsaw reminds us why we need more Final Destination movies
Black comedy – the blackest of black – notwithstanding, there is something genuinely unsettling at the core of the Final Destination films: the idea, or even the knowledge, that virtually anything can kill us at virtually any time.
Five outrageous Australian sex comedies that paved the way for Swinging Safari
To celebrate the first look at Guy Pearce and Kylie Minogue’s new 70s-style comedy, here are some of the raunchy romps that made it possible.
I went to see My Little Pony: The Movie and it nearly killed me
I resolve to follow my original plan: to go under the radar. Incognito. This will involve slinking into the cinema and sitting towards the back, preferably somewhere bathed in shadows.
Warfare, wormholes and cosmic biceps – my day on the set of Thor: Ragnarok
Marvel’s offbeat blockbuster was forged in a giant multicoloured playground on Australia’s Gold Coast. We visited Chris Hemsworth and Cate Blanchett to talk workout routines and everyday heroism.
Are Australian high schools bastardising Blade Runner?
The mongrel teachers who box in this discussion by insisting that Deckard is X and Batty is Y have disserviced a text with real philosophical backbone.
Why aren’t we talking about The Queen and Zak Grieve?
It is a deeply compelling and at times superbly made true-crime series, available online ahead of a chunkier, stitched-together, 90-minute version to be screened on Foxtel later this month.
Can virtual reality save the movie industry?
Bonnie and Clyde reshaped the movie industry. Fifty years later, we might be on the cusp of another revolution.
You Are Here: are we overlooking Australia’s most vital documentary series in years?
Highly entertaining, unpretentious and hugely important, You Are Here is the kind of high-calibre television that deserves a much wider audience
It’s time to scrap Australian Story
A news program without a meaningful perspective or ideology. Or, worse, an ideology that bends every week according to its subjects.
Romper Stomper remake: a modern-day series about extremism? Exciting but problematic
In the forthcoming Stan series, the enemy of the far right has switched from Asian immigrants to Muslim Australia. But does the story have the moral nuance it needs to handle that?
Melbourne international film festival 2017: 10 screenings not to miss
From magical Australian dramas to an overnight sci-fi marathon – here are 10 highlights from this year’s program.
From The Katering Show to Fighting Isis: eight of the best Australian web series
The internet is teeming with video content and time is short, so which web series are most worth the effort? Here are my picks/
What Netflix’s controversial new show means for the future of Australian television
Perhaps we can be inspired by the show’s message about the importance of talking through things and tackling difficult issues head on.
The Red Pill: I watched it, so you don’t have to
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I watched it, so you don’t have to.
There’s only one option left for House of Cards: the end of the world
Most troubling of all for the House of Cards crew, Frank Underwood is now, quite simply, a more appealing choice of President than Donald Trump.
David Lynch and Twin Peaks: everything has meaning and nothing has meaning
The big question is not whether David Lynch will gratify us with madness, but whether he will surprise us with sanity.
David Stratton, before the crisis in arts journalism
If documentaries about Australian artists are rare – or rare-ish – documentaries about Australian arts critics are practically unheard of.
What ‘Get Out’ says about the media echo chamber
Read through the oodles of fawning critiques and you will find a seemingly endless array of almost entirely white people reiterating the same points.
The Pepsi ad: offensive and odious, but kind of perfect
Pepsi’s world is like our world: nothing is off-limits, everything is upside-down and traditional rules are breaking down.
The evils of Rotten Tomatoes and the supposed death of film criticism
Film criticism is still a real art. Even if that art is rarely realised to anything near its full potential.
The envelope wasn’t the only problem at the Oscars
In a politicised competition such as the Oscars, grubby political tactics come into play.
Australians win Oscar for sound on Hacksaw Ridge in year that was already vintage
With Australia receiving a record 14 Academy Award nominations, 2017 was always going to be a special year at the Oscars.
Oscars 2017: Tanna and Lion bring heart to Hollywood in landmark year for Australian film
After Mad Max: Fury Road smoked the 2016 Oscars, Australia has much to celebrate with this year’s contenders
Midnight Oil may be coming back, but the power and the passion was sacrificed long ago
Peter Garrett’s evolution from long-term activist to politically expedient pragmatist is – or should have been – a one-way street.
Tropfest saved itself financially, but can the film festival save its soul?
The world’s largest short film festival has a new lease on life, but will it learn from past mistakes?
Bad people making good art: on Mel Gibson’s Hollywood redemption
Audiences often hold onto a flaky assumption that good people tend to make good art and bad people tend make bad art. And that consuming art morally improves us.
Ozflix and chill: do we really need a streaming platform just for Australian films?
The world’s first streaming provider dedicated to Australian movies launched this week with commendable but questionable ambition
Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce reunite – and nine other Australian films to watch in 2017
From a Babadook follow-up, to documentaries about Michael Hutchence and JonBenét Ramsey, here are Australian films to look forward to.
The best Australian films of 2016
There was much to like about Australian cinema in 2016, including a particularly strong lineup of documentaries.
What does Ang Lee’s new film mean for the evolution of movie frame rates?
Now is a good time to take stock on how frame rates came into existence, what they mean for viewers and why big-time directors such as Lee seem intent to keep messing with the formula.
Robin Williams, SMH’s appalling op-ed and ABC’s new suicide prevention TV show
After reading the essay I was reminded of an op-ed published by the Sydney Morning Herald soon after Williams’ death. I don’t know how to describe it without using words like “appalling”.
Jumanji reboot accused of sexism, but the original holds up just fine
It was under-appreciated back in the day and time has been kind to it. Even the special effects still look pretty good.
Why Mulholland Drive is the greatest film since 2000
Mulholland Drive is a brilliant commentary on Hollywood’s machinations, at least partly informed by its own woes
John Howard’s lip-smacking debut as ABC presenter in Howard on Menzies: Building Modern Australia
Howard and his old adversary Kerry O’Brien finally brothers at arms, on the payroll as on-screen talent for Auntie.
10 things to see at the 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival
Longtime devotees of the festival feel a mixture of nostalgia and horror when recalling the now-closed Greater Union complex on Russell Street, where before 2014 they congregated every year to sit on back-breaking seats.
Why Labyrinth is so memorable
While the film was a commercial disappointment when it was first released, it has for decades remained a popular title on the bill at repertory cinemas around the world.
TV’s death has not been exaggerated: The Briefcase, Channel 9 and a night of television apocalypse
Folk in TV land are very much cognisant that there are two big concurrent movements in television these days: the Golden Age of TV, which showcases some of the very best, and the scourge of reality TV, pimping out the very worst.
Vale Paul Cox
Friends speak about the passion, big heart and hatred of injustice of the ‘father of independent cinema’.
Three must-see WTF documentaries at the Sydney Film Festival
This year the festival sports a particularly healthy quota of fascinating WTF non-fiction films.
Dreamtime, dust masks and tons of fake hair: the making of Cleverman
With its futuristic set, 80% Indigenous cast and mythical hirsute characters, the new Australian TV series is infused with obvious allegories about xenophobia
Searing documentaries steal the show as Australian cinema rides a new wave
From Chasing Asylum to Sherpa, a new class of rabble-rousing, boredom-detonating Australian documentaries is buzzing with a sense of urgency.
Midnight Special and the wonderful, under-appreciated art of Jeff Nichols
Nichols is easily one of the most interesting filmmakers to have come out of America in the last decade; if the quality of his output continues he will likely rank among the best of his generation.
The Port Arthur movie: before the cameras start rolling, is it already gratuitous?
The fact a word like “clickbait” can so easily be used in the context of a project contemplating one of the darkest events in Australia’s recent past demonstrates that something has already gone very wrong.
Straight to the pool room: top 10 films about the Australian dream
The housing market may not sound like the most stimulating territory for a story, but it has been the basis of some of Australia’s greatest films.
Scorsese and the four elements of visual literary
Martin Scorsese is passionate about visual literacy, and has a masterful understanding of it.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s biosecurity thriller ends in lo-fi hostage video
What began as a tense international relations drama/dog movie fuelled by breakthrough performances from Pistol and Boo leaves the audience searching for answers.
Smart phone, dumb people: Turn it off at the cinema
If you’re at the cinema and you use your phone, you deserve to have it taken off you and smashed into small pieces.
Newsfront and beyond: Bob Ellis’s enduring impact on Australian theatre and film
Bob Ellis was one of Australia’s greatest curmudgeons – but he should also be celebrated as a screenwriter, playwright, director and, yes, a critic.
What happened when I tried out vTime, the world’s first virtual reality social media network
I’m sitting on a large rock in a camping area, next to a fire, talking to two people I’ve never met before.
‘The Screening Room’ throws down challenge to cinema
Describing Sean Parker as a futurist might be pushing it, but, like Napster, the underlining concept of The Screening Room is sound even if the market might not be ready for it.
In defence of Grimsby: despite the elephant semen, Sacha Baron Cohen’s gross-out has a great message for kids
Not just a good message for young audiences coaxed into the cinema by the lure of lowbrow spectacle, but a great one: go to school and study hard and you can become as cool as James Bond.
10 best Australian films made by first-time directors
Australian cinema is littered with examples of directors who launched their feature film careers with a hell of a bang.
Mad Max: Fury Road’s massive Oscars win is a huge moment for Australian cinema
George Miller extraordinary action movie, which swept up the technical awards at the Oscars, is a reminder that Australians make great badass genre movies.
#OscarsSoWhite is only the half of it: The amazing persistence of Hollywood whitewashing
For as long as Hollywood is dominated by white faces, the whitewashing will continue. And that will be a very long time indeed.
The lasting legacy of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the film’s original release. In the five decades that have followed, it has had a huge impact on cinema and popular culture.
Hollywood’s diversity problem: #OscarsSoWhite is just the tip of the iceberg
If audiences decide to vote with their feet and support more films made by and starring non-white people, they could potentially speak to Hollywood powerbrokers using the only language they care about: money.
Hollywood in 2015: the nostalgia business model awakens
The biggest film successes of the year were all franchise moves in long-running series that exploited our fond memories of the originals better than ever. And we can expect much more of this to come.
The 10 best Australian films of 2015
Long after the box office numbers have been forgotten the films themselves will be remembered.
Top 10 films of 2015
December is a time for Christmas parties, splurging on presents, tolerating relatives and – for movie lovers – onslaughts of ‘best of the year’ lists.
Dallas Buyers Club: is this the victory for film pirates we think it is?
Perhaps powerful lobby groups who have the ear of politicians can now say, “See, the courts don’t help us. We need the internet filter.
New Screen Australia budget cuts: how the government’s deal with Hollywood treated us like mugs
Screen Australia has been stripped of $51.5 million since the last federal budget and its revenue from the government will continue to fall in years ahead.
George Miller’s Mad Max triumphs at Aactas – but where’s the Baz-style ovation?
Miller is a superior film-maker to Luhrmann, just less experienced in the acquisition and distribution of industrial-sized quantities of glitter.
How Disney’s freaky ‘FaceDirector’ technology could be a game-changer for actors
Disney’s experiments are getting kind of creepy, and it’s easy to imagine a future where acting will never quite be the same.
Australian cinema’s lost wave: the renaissance nobody’s noticed
Since 2005, the Australian film industry has been making movies up there with any period in its history including the New Wave of the 70s and 80s. And nobody has noticed.
The sad decline of Robert DeNiro, from an acting great to a walking punchline
The quality of the once great performer’s work has taken such a long and extraordinary dive southwards his career now very likely marks the steepest and saddest creative decline of any actor in Hollywood history.
The Principal makes Dangerous Minds look like Kindergarten Cop
The Principal shifts into crime mystery/drama, a sort of upper crust CSI-into-the-classroom where suspects are gradually scrutinised and the plot begins to snake, curl and recalibrate.
Scream the TV has arrived, and it’s a scathing commentary on social media
The writers have repurposed the slasher format as a vehicle for a bitterly cynical message about cyber bullying and addiction to online platforms and social media.
Rick and Morty: finally, a TV show worthy of Douglas Adams
Finally, we have a television show worthy of the status as a spiritual companion piece to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Everest: the mountaineering blockbuster that continues Hollywood’s shameful tradition of ignoring Sherpa people
The script emphasises the dangers, but fails to underscore that with a truly treacherous aesthetic environment. It also, of course, fails to recognise the Sherpa people in any remotely substantial way.
Straight Outta Compton: the blockbuster racial relations movie where the boyz left the hood
Where Straight Outta Compton is slick and broad — a wide-spanning story with an upbeat tone — Boyz n the Hood is close-knit and emotionally detailed.
Is Australia heading for its own ‘Golden Age’ of TV?
Australia hasn’t yet reached the “Golden Age” of quality TV like America has, but the uptake of video-on-demand services and willingness of these services to produce local content could be changing that.
The Best Classic American Movies by Australian Directors
Over the years several Australian filmmakers have made bona fide classic American movies, the kind of pedigree pictures embraced by audiences and critics and remembered for decades.
Wes Craven: professional scaremonger who rewrote his own horror rules
Craven was an innovator who feasted on breaking down barriers – between modern and postmodern, reality and dreamscapes, audience expectations and comfort zones.
Dressing Hollywood: the costumes and films of Orry-Kelly
The Kiama-born expat migrated to Hollywood in the early 1930s and came to be regarded as one of the greatest costume designers of all time.
The 10 weirdest superhero films
Hollywood’s superhero obsession has recently spawned some quirky comic-book adaptations, such as Ant-Man – but these are not the strangest in the genre.
Freakish tie or divine intervention? Analysing this year’s AACTA results
If there is a lesson to be learnt from the 2015 AACTA hullaballoo, perhaps it is simply to take every announcement from an awards ceremony with a grain of salt.
From Barry McKenzie to Priscilla: the evolution of the Aussie comedy hero
From ocker blokes to a dunny attendant via drag queens and an endearing dork, the zany characters in Australian films reflect evolving notions of national identity.
Desperately seeking distribution: new Aussie hit thriller not available at home
Despite being one of the most striking examples of shoestring film-making the local industry has produced in recent years, The Suicide Theory was knocked back from both the Sydney Film Festival and the Melbourne International Film Festival.
Let’s fight harder to keep first-time Australian film-makers at home
With talents like Snowtown’s Justin Kurzel and The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent getting snapped up overseas, the Australian film industry needs to find ways for debut film-makers to grow and improve at home.
A film industry forever in growing pains: why Australian teen movies have been given short shrift
It is hard to disagree that the film industry could – and should – be giving the teen demographic more locally-made cinema content.
Depression and anthropomorphised animals: why Bojack Horsman is one of the best shows on television
BoJack is one of the best things on television at the moment; a modern classic that fuses the story of a fading celebrity schlep with scathing satire of the American entertainment industry.
Hollywood’s Australian invasion
A new wave of Aussie film-makers has swept Hollywood – but while they have found success abroad, many of their films were unappreciated at home.
Netflix ups the ante in the battle against cinemas, and it’s good news for film buffs
The key word in this discussion — “choice” — strikes fear in the heart of exhibitor chains desperately trying to buck an inevitable trend towards what-you-want when-you-want-it cinema.
Game of Thrones: smut has gone mainstream like never before, and political allegory isn’t far behind
No television program in history has exposed more audiences to more extreme visions — kinky and disgusting, with more of the latter than the former — than HBO’s Game of Thrones.
The Adventures of Priscilla – five things you didn’t know about the Aussie hit
In 1993, a low-budget feature film crew drove from Sydney to Alice Springs with a truck full of sensational costumes and a pink and lavender bus now considered a fixture of Australian cinema.
Binge watching, TV hype and the ABC’s Glitch experiment
Cross-platform strategies require cross-platform thinking and audience expectations change according to the medium. Like the show itself, the Glitch experiment will be a curious one to watch.
Russell Brand in doco form: let’s hope this revolution doesn’t catch on
Dressing a serious film with a colourful presenter who has little to no credentials in the subject they are talking about undermines the messages at the heart of it.
Hollywood, racism and why being white means you have to play white
Over the years an actor’s scope to play whoever they want has contracted, not expanded, and for good reason: being an actor does not grant anybody a free pass to fly in the face of cultural sensitivities.
10 Australian films that shook the world
The Australian film industry has always battled for eyeballs in a market saturated with foreign content – but to say it has pulled off some coups along the way is something of an understatement.
How an awful ‘new’ Adam West movie reminds of the internet’s potential for surprises
Fans of retro schlock horror movies have been dealt an unexpected treat with the sudden release online of a “new” B-grade horror movie starring Corey Feldman and Adam West.
Australian film gender imbalance: shock statistics reveal what’s old is new again
Entrenched sexism in the entertainment business is not something we can relegate out of sight and out of mind to the misogynistic brats and coke-snorting yahoos in corporate Hollywood.
The faux outrage around Struggle Street and the controversy that never was
Prior to broadcast, Struggle Street was mistaken as a vicious comedy ridiculing its poorly educated participants. We now know it is a serious work and not the sensational trash-fest we were informed it would be.
Andrew Lesnie: ‘master of light’ finely tuned into both nature and people
With the cinematographer’s painterly eye and MacGyver-like skill for problem solving, no wonder Peter Jackson never let go of Lesnie once he found him.
What American horror movie smash-hit It Follows can teach the Australian film industry
At the crossroads of old and new distribution models, these are strange times indeed for companies who are now forced to rethink their entire modus operandi.
Reintroducing Road: the most dangerous movie ever made
“This strange footnote in cinema history — a disaster by all accounts and by every metric — is on the map again, and audiences with an affection for freaky films have something new (and old) to talk about.”
Why 2015 will be a huge year for Australian films at the Australian box office — and why it doesn’t matter
“When are we going to stop pretending that box office performance is the most important metric to define success?”
Sensational and respectful: Furious 7 is Hollywood’s strangest eulogy
“Looking at that car consumed with fire is a reminder that Paul Walker did in the movies what he couldn’t do in real life: leapt out of a moving vehicle just in the nick of time.”
Kimmy Schmidt, the future of Australian television and the death of TV ratings
“Who knows how long this new television golden age will last, or whether it will outlive the word “television” itself.”
Road test: a dip into the world of virtual reality
“Virtual reality entertainment will have repercussions for cast and crews. What will become of cinematographers when audiences can pan using their own heads?”
The Oscars: would you like fries with that?
“Cinema chains are rarely discussed or thought of in the context of what they really are: fast food outlets, the screen used as bait to get people in the door.”
Aactas 2015: The Water Diviner and The Babadook tie, but at least they’re Aussie
“Never has the Australian film industry seemed so confounded by the challenge of distinguishing great art from handsome mainstream product.”
Now some good news about Australian film
For the time being let’s maintain the notion (or the fiction) that the most important factor in making Australian films is to get bums on seats rather than investing in preserving screen culture.
Blockbusters biopics and auteurs: world cinema in 2015
“As one year ends another begins, and somehow Michael Bay is still a free man, sipping cocktails and roaming the streets.”
The top ten films of 2014
“December is a time for many lists: Christmas lists, grocery lists, mental lists of relatives you see once a year and can barely remember the names of.”
How Bill Murray won the internet
“Bill Murray feels like a refugee from a different era, a sad clown who survived where others faded from the limelight.”
Why taking Grand Theft Auto off the shelf is like banning a Martin Scorsese movie
“Perhaps games like Grand Theft Auto V are helping audiences (particularly young ones) create an intellectual distance between themselves and the things they watch and interact with.”
The Shia LaBeouf show: performance art so real it hurts
“If The Shia LaBeouf Show has a point, perhaps it’s that the impact of celebrity culture has never been more ubiquitous or more invasive.”
Netflix arrives, and so farewell to the snarky video clerk
“We all knew it was coming. The video/DVD store experienced death by a million, trillion downloads.”
The Serial phenomenon signals the arrival of the blockbuster podcast
“Serial presses the play button on binge listening. Perhaps, with it, the first wave of full-scale blockbuster podcasts.”
Want sexism? Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
“Could an all-female version of this weird sleazy hit somehow become touted as a breakthrough for gender equality in Hollywood?”
Cliff Hangers are back in fashion – and they’re to be continued
“Cliff hangers are essentially about putting characters in extremely dramatic circumstances then removing their ability to respond.”
Long live the King and Queen of Oz film critics – Margaret and David
“Like every great dynasty, the kingdom of David and Margaret encourages space for future generations.”
Into the Storm: disaster porn comes to disastrous found footage films
“So far Into the Storm has a worldwide box office gross of over US$110 million — not bad for a movie that looks like it was shot on an iPhone.”
Hollywood and death: a tug of war between nostalgia and the ephemeral
“The cinematic art form revels in the kind of entertainment that can only come from a reluctance to let go — and a business model built on visions of the past.”
Is Melbourne’s Astor cinema losing hope of a Hollywood ending?
“Venues such as this venerated southside cinema are the film world’s equivalent of endangered species.”
Why Studio Ghibli is the most distinguished production company in history
“Perhaps Ghibli’s most resounding achievement is that it didn’t let the context around its films and the vagaries of consumer behaviour corrode the work itself.”
Why the Australian film industry needs more sequels
“Criticism of sequels as a concept is too easily a form of elitism not necessarily in line with assessment of quality.”
Transformers: Age of Extinction movie review (sort of)
“Bay delivered the goods, which is to say, having again stuffed everything he could into the frame, he delivered virtually nothing at all.”
All hail Michael Fassbender
“With such a natural simmering energy, it would have easy — or at least obvious — for Fassbender to stake his claim in Hollywood as the go-to guy for angry and perverted people.”
Sex, lies, truth: why Lars von Trier and Hollywood aren’t so different
“When I interviewed him in 2009, von Trier spoke at length about ‘the darkness,’ referring to large chunks of his time spent lying in bed staring at a blank wall.”
The Oscars: Hollywood’s greatest deception
“Exhibitors live or die not on the strength of ticket sales but on selling heavily marked up products loaded with sugar and salt.”
Philip Seymour Hoffman: what would his characters have thought of his death?
“Hoffman gave us the freaks, the reclusives, the oddballs, the eccentrics, the pitiful, the hope-deprived, the lost, desperate, lonely and wanting, and found a way to present wretched people in profoundly humane ways.”
What White Night means – and why it matters
“When Andy Warhol stuck a can of soup in a museum, the point was made about context and perception: that an everyday item can be regarded as a work of art if it is placed in a certain environment.”
Hollywood’s biggest con job: why the joke’s on the Golden Globes
“Red carpets, fancy clothes and scores of smiling celebrities disguise the grubby PR mongering at the heart of the organisation behind the Golden Globes.”
Tropfest #fail: why they got it wrong
“Using ‘edgy’ humour to explore sensitive topics such as ethnicity and sexual orientation is risky business, and context can make the world of difference.”
Carrie: do not rest in peace
“New versions of old films can act as cultural signposts — historical markers that highlight the legacy of the original work and allow cinephiles pause for thought.”
All about efficiency: reviewing Verax, the world’s first Edward Snowden film
“Narrative efficiency is a subject ripe for discussion given Hollywood’s current culture of pumping out overlong bells and whistles blockbusters.”
Vale James Gandolfini: the TV giant who gave us big cinema in small parts
“Gandolfini was a character actor who infused small parts with great impact.”
Can a trailer spoil a movie? Putting it to the test with The Call
“The obvious inclination for an editor is to wrap together the best bits: the money shots, the zingers, the punchlines, the beautiful horizons.”
Baz’s Great Gatastrophe? Via Skype, Luhrmann touches up shrouded Gatsby
“Could scenes from one of the biggest movie releases of the year and one of the most expensive literary adaptations of all time have been directed via Skype?”
Zach Braff’s new role: the reverse Robin Hood who kickstarts a new culture of celebrity crowdsourcing
“Braff and the Veronica Mars crew have opened the gates for Hollywood to look at ventures such as Kickstarter as new streams of revenue.”
Vale Roger Ebert: your greatest crime was loving movies too much
“Ebert’s approach to film analysis was conventional but thoughtful, and like every critic worth their weight in battered keyboards he could pile on the snark.”
Pick a card, any card: reflections on magic in cinema and life as an amateur magician
“Magic itself is a special effect, a seemingly impossible feat brought to life before your eyes.”
We’re off to see the lawyers, the wonderful lawyers of Oz. Because because because…?
“Hollywood executives who followed the yellow brick road found it ended in legal disputes and unprecedented laws.”
Tropfest winner a cheat? What goes around comes around
“Once again the winning film at Tropfest has been accused of plagiarism. But this time, the story should never have run in the first place.”
In defence of ‘the worst film ever’: why critics are wrong about Movie 43
“The absurdly disproportionate critical response to Movie 43 has brought to the fore one of the laziest strategies a film reviewer can deploy.”
In Flight entertainment: exploring alcoholism in film and the ‘character’ of on-screen addiction
“In one outstanding sequence, Whitaker’s alcoholism almost literally comes knocking on his door.”
Jolted into the fourth dimension: test driving 4D Dynamic Cinema
“Cinemas that deploy “fourth dimensional” novelties to spice up screenings are far from new.”
The divinity of spectacle: on religion and Life of Pi
“If religion is the opiate for the masses, Hollywood ain’t the dealer.”
Movies of the mind: When I used films to travel through time
“A recent viewing of a classic film led me to contemplate what experiences I associate with particular titles.”
Lights, camera, smut: the year Hollywood got its rocks off
“It’s hardly a secret that in the movie business, sex sells. But this year Hollywood got its pants off — and took crazy kink to another level.”
Moving mountains in Middle Earth: Hobbit lands with baggage
“The cost has been colossal, the profits likely to be greater. And the road to get here has been anything but smooth.”
A handy tip for festival organisers: get your films banned
“This is not the first time the ACB have delivered a boon to publicity-hungry events and distributors.”
Disney deal the last act in Lucas space opera
“There are other reasons why George Lucas’ biggest fans turned against him, and why nobody bemoaned his exit from the Star Wars galaxy.”
Senses of Cinema: the electric energy of Dead End Drive-In
“The film’s lack of ‘unreal’ special effects coupled with an audacious narrative and setting forced innovation.”
Why the death of Hollywood has been greatly exaggerated
“Social media platforms are yet to emerge as powerful exhibition outlets, but that time can’t be far away.”
Swirling meaning and conspiratorial film interpretation: walking the crazy carpet of Room 237
“What separates a genius film reader from a rambling quack pointing at weird pictures and freeze-framing images of clouds?”
No half measures: vale action director Tony Scott
“Like any director, Scott’s obituaries and death notices inevitably list the movies that have lingered longest in public recollection.”
We don’t need no education: how cinematic classrooms have changed the curriculum
“Over the last decade or so a rash of high school-set films have fundamentally changed the curriculum.”
How does Hollywood deal with real-life tragedy?
“Warner Bros. has avoided the kind of PR pitfalls committed by the National Rifle Association, which opted for tasteless tweets and weird newscasts.”
Prometheus classification controversy: rating drops from MA to M, doors open for the kids
“I’m not sure what movie the Review Board watched, but the one I saw was unequivocally high impact.”
Checking back in to 1408 — and visiting John Cusack as a Hunter S. Thompson incarnation who never left the hotel
“1408 explores the extreme dangers of acid benders, presenting a now poisoned bud of flower power far more twisted than the kind HST chewed on in the 70′s.”
‘Lion don’t try to be a tiger’ — Bob Dylan and the compelling messiness of Masked and Anonymous
“It’s a messy and ambitious one-of-a-kind littered with dialogue that bounces back and forth like a verbal intellectual tennis match.”
Old school v new school: would Spielberg’s Tintin have worked in live action?
“Employed alone, as Spielberg’s glossy globetrotting spectacle demonstrates, motion capture tends to look stiff and waxy, linked to a dilemma known as ‘uncanny valley’.”
Human Centipede II: why banning violent films creates a new kind of monster
“The film industry has forever changed and will continue to move further and further away from the grasp of censors.”
Vale Sarah Watt (1958 – 2011)
“Watt was a well-liked figure within the Australian film industry and will be deeply missed.”
Prying open the Cult Vault: 12 straight hours of horror movie madness
“The credits end, we stumble outside and something resembling reality returns.”
Dancing with metaphor: why Footloose is a commentary on the war on drugs
“Substitute dancing for drugs and, with the right kind of eyes, the film carries striking political and social observations.”
Highbrow versus lowbrow cinema and lessons learnt from Sullivan’s Travels
“The breakdown between highbrow and lowbrow art — entirely subjective, of course, and utterly contentious — has sparked discussion in virtually every artistic medium over the years.”
Why has Hollywood shied away from 9/11?
“Why has Hollywood, of all places, largely kept mum about one of the biggest moments in contemporary American history?”
The acting Serkis: recognition — or lack thereof — of performance capture acting
“Look into Caesar’s face during Rise of the Planet of the Apes and you will see a strikingly combination of competing emotions.”
The cinema of life: when a film triggers a memory and that memory becomes reality
“How well do my readers know me? How well do they think they know me?”
Tapping into the zeitgeist: mental health initiatives on and off the screen
“Mental health has become a dominant theme in Australian films at a significant time for the sector and the wider political landscape.”
Can a hand puppet save Mel Gibson?
“When the lights go down and the screen lights up audiences aren’t likely to cast aside his tumultuous off screen life.”
Danger, Will Robinson! Digital product placement poised to infect TV programs and feature films
“How would you feel about watching the shower scene in Psycho with a tube of Decore lingering in the background?”
From roar to meow: MGM lion to merge with Spyglass
“If the MGM debacle were turned into a movie, Icahn would probably be the villain.”
Cops didn’t show, but maybe they should have: gay zombie porno sickens
“It’s hard to emerge from a film like LA Zombie feeling like anything other than a loser.”
Vale Dennis Hopper: 1936 – 2010
“Hopper led a tumultuous career in Hollywood that spanned more than half a century, beginning alongside James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.”
Avatar – officially Australia’s highest grossing film of all time. But what about the font?
“I found an open letter to James Cameron written from, bizarrely, the perspective of the font itself.”
Disney crowns its first African American princess
“The Big Mouse reportedly consulted African American individuals and organisations in an attempt to ensure Tiana’s character would not cause offence.”
Paranormal Activity in the Twitterverse leads to box office blitz
“The remake idea was scrapped and Paramount Pictures took over distribution, releasing Paranormal Activity in a small number of exhibitors across the country.”