Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Like the young Martha Stewart Kat over at Petticoats and Peblums, Tricky Hickson is quite the arts and crafts gal. She’s also borderline hilarious. You can follow her exploits HERE and for those of you who think you’re not into home wares et al, wait until you see the sloth soft-toy she made. Yes, a freakin’ sloth soft-toy! It’s creeptastic. Other highlights include a penis cake, a duck suit for her cat and David Bowie necklace. Yep, she’s awesome. Also, I did sketch the logo so it’s worth a laugh.
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Essentially this is Liar Liar meets Happy Feet. Screenwriting team Sean Anders and John Morris have brought the clever and sometimes naughty dialogue of their past efforts Hot Tub Time Machine and She's Out Of My League seamlessly into the children's movie market. They've also updated Richard and Florence Atwater's family sentiment into modern upper-class American society nicely, considering it was originally about a poor painter.But the high-flipper must go to Carrey, who carries Mr Popper's Penguins. He has reigned in the crazy ever-so-slightly, while funneling the best elements of his comedic repertoire into the character. With Carrey, it's not just the one-liners. It's how he delivers them so quickly and fluidly that you've got to be paying attention to catch any of the adult orientated jokes.
In saying that, it wouldn't be a kids animal movie if not for the cliches. There's the penguin that farts and poops; Stinky. The penguin that continually falls over and walks into objects; Nimrod. And so on and so forth. There's also the evil zoo-keeper villain and the wizened old woman who teaches the characters life lessons (Angela Lansbury). These fixtures of the genre are annoying, but nothing more thanks to Carrey and the tight direction of Mark Waters (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Mean Girls). With the school holiday movie choices limited to two animated sequels, a nonsensical CGI blockbuster and this; Mr Popper's Penguins is quality G-rated entertainment and the best bet for the family.
Mr Popper's Penguins is out Thursday, June 30.
Monday, 27 June 2011
Chan is the Hong Kong kid who made it in big in Hollywood with his acrobatic fighting style and comic timing. Best known for his box-office hits like Rush Hour and The Karate Kid, Chan's early work - done without any safety measures - is the most memorable; particularly the scene in Project A where he famously free falls from a clock tower and rips through several canvas awnings.
The British stunt man is the world's most prolific, according to the Guinness Book of Records, and is best known for doubling Harrison Ford in the first three Indiana Jones films and Christopher Reeve in Superman and Superman II. He performed those balls-to-the-wall Swiss Alps skiing scenes in James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
The New Zealand stuntwoman got her big break as Uma Thurman's double in the Kill Bill films. Director Quentin Tarantino was so impressed with her abilities, he wrote an entire film around her - Deathproof - where she famously performed a stunt on the hood of a speeding 1970 Dodge Challenger.
Along with Chan, Li is arguably the most successful martial artist and stuntman. He has starred in a number of major Hollywood films including Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die, The Forbidden Kingdom, Unleashed and The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor. But if one things marks your badass status more than any other, it's being part of Sly's The Expendables cast.
Michael Jai White The writer, director, martial artist, stuntman and actor has been dubbed as the "black Bruce Lee'' and rightly so. With a real life persona indistinguishable from his Black Dynamite character, White is becoming a formidable pop culture presence. Remember, this is the man who taught Kimbo Slice how to box in that hit viral video.
Friday, 24 June 2011
“I’m very taken with Cassavetes films for lots of different reasons. I also like early Scorsese films; early American independent cinema was really important for me and my generation. Also early Michael Winterbottom films like Wonderland. I tend to see a wide range of films.”
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
The screenwriters really want this to be a cute animated story that unites all of us.
Essentially the character of Po is a young man, living his life, when suddenly - kapow! He's the Dragon Warrior and he's forced to deal with something. Anything. Can we have a villain here? Oh, wait, there's Lord Shen - a Hitler-esque character complete with his very own Holocaust where he swaps killing Jews for killing pandas. The script plugs too hard for an emotional arc - a journey of self-discovery - when the best thing about the first Kung Fu Panda was the frivolity.
The character of Po is literally Jack Black in panda form, there's no added features or altered voice work. When Po speaks, you just see the chubby comedian. The rest of the voice cast, who actually try and manipulate their pipes to create more believable characters, are completely underused. Talent like Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Dustin Hoffman, Oldman, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Danny McBride and even Jean-Claude Van Damme barely get a few lines. DreamWorks Animation would have paid the big bucks for them, so it seems wasteful for the film to be taken up with Blackisms.
Visually, Kung Fu Panda 2 is faultless and the closest DreamWorks has come to rivalling the superior Pixar. The animators deliver a one-two punch with a combination of first rate computer generated animation in 3D and more traditional, 2D animation used in flashback scenes. Unfortunately a pretty pictures does not a good movie make. With story and humour both lacking, Kung Fu Panda 2 is a school holiday film only young children will find amusing. For the rest of us, it's a boring and been-there-before 90 minutes.
Kung Fu Panda 2 is out Thursday, June 23.
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
``It's the exactly kind of story I do in everything,'' he said.
``This person doesn't know where they belong in the grand scheme of things and that appeals to me because that's how I feel in every single moment of my life, even when things are going right.
``That's how I felt for a lot of my career. I mean, I think I'm making good work and then . . .
``Bridesmaids is the first thing I've had a big part in that's been successful.''
Success is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to Feig. After meeting Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin) when they were both teenagers and doing stand-up together, the pair created Emmy-nominated teen series Freaks and Geeks. It was cancelled before the end of the first season, but not before it launched the careers of its stars James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and Linda Cardellini. It also became a cult hit. Feig went on to direct several unsuccessful features such as I Am David and Unaccompanied Minors, before making a considerably more successful return to TV directing Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Mad Men, Weeds and the US version of The Office.
But it was Apatow who coaxed him back to the big screen with a ``fantastic script'' from former Saturday Night Live star Kristen Wiig and her writing partner Annie Mumolo.
``With Bridesmaids, we wanted to tell a very relatable and real story that appealed to both women and men,'' he said.
``It was easy to avoid all the pitfalls of the chick flick genre because it's not how any of us thought.
``Those types of films come from people doing things they think women want to see, which is really condescending.
``We knew we wanted to go R-rated with it and we wanted women to see other women on screen who are just as dirty as they are.''
From suffering food poisoning in a bridal shop to dropping the C-bomb, the ensemble cast of Bridesmaids don't play clean. Feig said he and executive producer Apatow even shot a PG-version of every scene in case the women at test screenings didn't like it.
``But they loved it,'' he said.
The film follows a rag-tag group of Bridesmaids as they're led through the pre-wedding rituals of bachelorette parties, bridal showers and dress fittings. Led by Wiig, Bridemaids also stars Melissa McCarthy, Jon Hamm, Aussies Rose Byrne and Rebel Wilson (Thank God You're Here, Fat Pizza) in her first big Hollywood role. Wilson plays the sister of Annie's weird room mate, Little Britain's Matt Lucas.
``I'm so happy Rebel's in it, I'm such a big fan of hers,'' said Feig.
``The room mates weren't originally in the script but we knew Matt Lucas wanted to do something in the film but we didn't know where or what.
``Then Rebel came in to audition for one of the bridemaids and she was so hilarious, I turned and said to Judd `she looks like Matt's sister.'
``She's such a great improvisational comedienne and it's so exciting to have her in it.''
With Bridemaids a financial and critical success and talk of a sequel, Feig and Apatow are now working on another comedy starring Mad Men's Jon Hamm. Hamm has openly spoken about his appreciation of the skilled and suave Fieg - who's known for wearing a suit to work everyday.
``Other directors are just a bunch of slobs,'' joked Feig, in reference to the director's stereotype of casual dressers.
``I've been doing it for the past 11 years.
``In fact, I went to direct Mad Men and I showed up on the first day and they thought I was there for casting.''
Bridesmaids is in cinemas now.
Friday, 17 June 2011
Thursday, 16 June 2011
“Well, it was supposed to be under wraps and then I got up this morning and saw on Deadline that I was developing it with Mel and Jon and was like `oh well, okay.’ They’re not officially attached yet, but that they’re my inspiration. I'm writing it for them and it’s purely speculative . . .but true. If I could do it with them that would be perfect, but it could be other actors if they’re not available."
Feig went on to say the unnamed comedy is indeed an unconventional love story and that he’s already sold it to Universal, with Apatow attached to produce. Feig will write and direct. The Freaks and Geeks co-creator went on to say he’s a big fan of Cary Grant and old Hollywood comedies, hence his love of Hamm.
“That’s why I love working with Hamm, he’s like the new Cary Grant."
Monday, 13 June 2011
Touted as a female version of The Hangover, Bridesmaids is a superior comedy in many ways. The jokes are original, the characters quirky yet authentic and the cast carry an edgy film with their seamless performances. Wiig has not only written a smart and sassy screenplay, but as the leading lady she reaffirms her status, alongside Tina Fey, as one of the most talented female comedians working. Her understated delivery of witty one-liners is matched perfectly with the freestyle insanity of loose-lipped scenes a la Will Ferrell. Aussie actress Byrne shows her turn as the only funny thing in Get Him To The Greek wasn't a one-off. She takes to another comedic role with the seriousness that has made her a formidable dramatic actress.The supporting cast is also great, but Wiig and Byrne have so much chemistry its difficult to focus on anyone else. Highlights are indie comedian Rudloph, Mad Men's Jon Hamm as douchebag, and the pair of Little Britain's Matt Lucas and Aussie Rebel Wilson (in her Hollywood breakthrough) as Annie's weird roommates. Irish actor Chris O'Dowd as the love interest is also one to watch. Producer/director Paul Feig's hand is almost invisible as he lets the bevy of talent on this project take the reigns, with fantastic results. It was a ballsy move to have a cast of relative unknowns lead a female-orientated comedy that plays just as dirty as the male ones. But it has maid off. Bridesmaids is the first genuinely funny comedy of the year and it will have you saying I do.
Bridesmaids is out Thursday, June 16.
Friday, 10 June 2011
"Gosh, there’s a film I saw recently that I didn’t know what to expect from but it really resonated with me - Up In The Air. I spend so much time flying and in airport lounges and hotels, it’s a fairly lonely experience, although privileged. And some of the things that he said which were so politically incorrect but really true – like joining whatever queue has Chinese people in it, I think about that too. Of all time though I’m a huge fan of The Godfather trilogy, The Deer Hunter, a lot of those late 70s stylized films. I really liked One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, that was a great film."
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Director Jim Loach, son of renowned filmmaker Ken (The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Kes), brings his father's expert touch to this subtle and sombre film. Where other filmmakers could have spilled into melodrama, Loach keeps a firm grasp of gritty reality. Moving performances from Hugo Weaving, David Wenham and a bevy of other Australian actors bring the harrowing stories of the children - now suffering as adults - to life.
Watson's Humphreys is initially a difficult character to relate to, but once her icy exterior melts she's more compassionate and accessible to the audience. From the Academy Award-winning producers of The King's Speech, this is somewhat like a stuffy version of Erin Brockovich, with a blow-job joking American heroine swapped for a humourless British one.
Oranges and Sunshine is out Thursday, June 9.
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
When the gaggle of Goonies-esque kids sneak out to film a night scene at the train station, they witness a catastrophic train derailment. Freaked out and feeling lucky to have escaped with their lives, the kids vow not to tell anyone they were there. But that's when things start to get weird. When Deputy Lamb tries to investigate the accident, he's stonewalled by military personal who had mysterious cargo on the train. In town, hundreds of dogs have run away, electrical appliances are malfunctioning and people are going missing. It seems something has escaped from the train and that something is not of this world.
The cast, a combination of newcomers and veteran performers, elevate Super 8 with pitch-perfect performances. Friday Night Light's Chandler is brilliant as he always is, but the kids steal the show. Plucked from obscurity, Courtney is a revelation and able to hold his own against the impressive and charismatic Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota. After her breakthrough performance in Somewhere last year (which was far more deserving of an Oscar nom than Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit), Fanning proves once again she's a young actress with incredible talent. Together as romantically linked characters, Courtney and Fanning create a sense of innocence and humanity that outshines any of the A-grade special effects. After risking everything to save Fanning's Alice from the alien's lair, when Joe mutters the line “I'm just doing the best I can to save you” - it's one of the most touching moments in cinema this year.
Super 8 is a magical, intelligent, nostalgic, thrilling and mesmerising spectacle of a film that stands tall alongside Steven Spielberg's classic E.T. Spielberg serves as a producer on this and brings a sense of grandiose spectacle to the production. But more than anything Super 8 is Abrams love letter to monster movies and the seventies. Super 8's alien is so not the “phone home” type, but rather a homage to the terrifying yet endearing creatures of schlocky sci-fi features and B-grade horror films. Joe is Abrams, who started his career as a model maker and make-up effects guy on low budget flicks and there's such a sense of authenticity to the young characters it feels as if some situations have been plucked straight out of the writer/directors childhood. Like all of Abrams work, the flick is loaded with snappy dialogue and clever clues that let the audience uncover the mystery alongside the characters. Super 8 is everything you would hope. Then a whole lot more. Super 8 is in cinemas Thursday, June 9.
P.S. You MUST stay for the end credits to watch The Case – the hilarious and oh-so-cute Super 8 film the kids were making in the movie.
Monday, 6 June 2011
``It's funny, sometimes it's difficult to remember that mindset when you're younger but I was determined to do something very different and the opposite to what my dad did,'' says the 42-year-old.
"Then I made some documentaries and got bitten by the storytelling bug.''
Eventually, says Loach, that passion for storytelling translated to film. He carved a successful career directing television on landmark British shows such as The Bill and Coronation Street, before stumbling across the idea for his debut film - Oranges and Sunshine. A colleague lent him Empty Cradles; a book by British social worker Margaret Humphreys who uncovered a government scheme that shipped more than 130,000 children from the UK to Australia.
"I read the book on the tube on my way home and that entire evening,'' says Loach.
"By the time I'd got back to work the next morning I'd resolved to get her phone number and I was on the phone to Margaret that night.” It took Loach another eight years to get the film from page to screen, with the Academy Award-winning producers of The King's Speech later coming onboard. Like the Oscar-winner, Oranges and Sunshine is an Australian-English co-production and was filmed in both countries with an Australian and British cast and crew. Loach says screenwriter Rona Munro trawled through thousands of individual stories of the real life children to create the characters in the film, many who were sexually abused by the Christian Brothers once they got to Australia.
The film focuses on one group of boys in particular who were forced to build, barefoot in the harsh outback, a colossal school building. The name of the school is Bindoon and it still stands north of Perth today. Loach asked for permission to film at Bindoon itself, now an agricultural college, but the Catholic authority that still owns the building refused. Loach says he and Munro still visited the site unofficially after they ``hopped'' the fence and were given a tour by a man who went there as a child.
"He showed us around and I remember thinking how deserted the place was and that we were going to be asked to leave at any minute,'' he said.
"It was incredibly powerful listening to this guy talk.
"At one point he was showing as a particular part of the building that he built and he broke down and couldn't carry on.''
Loach says that for an “incredible” true story about a “heroic” woman who's in the middle of it, he too felt "very much in the middle of it, emotionally, by the end.''
Oranges and Sunshine is out Thursday, June 9. Stay posted for my review.
Friday, 3 June 2011
“I like Midnight Cowboy, which I watched to prepare for Loosies. I’m a huge fan of animated movies. I’ll go to the theatre to see them above anything. I like Ice Age and Despicable Me. I also really like sci-fi adventure films, I enjoy that genre.”
Thursday, 2 June 2011
``You know, I nearly dropped dead,'' says Lewis.
``Michael Moore came up to us after the Sundance screening and was saying things to the press like it's the `first great cult film of the decade.''
The praise kept coming for Lewis' Cane Toads: The Conquest - a 3D documentary about the cane toads introduction to Australia. The day after the film screened to 1300 people at Sundance earlier this year, Lewis received a phone call from eccentric German filmmaker Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn).
``He called me up the next day and was waxing lyrical about the film and saying things like `wonderful, wonderful, wonderful' in his typical accent,'' says Lewis.
``He said the strange thing is, you're laughing and laughing so hard during the film that you forget what you're laughing about.
``It was amazing to get that kind of feedback from other filmmakers, especially ones that I respect. They were very generous.''
Lewis has worked in the Australian film industry for over 23 years as a writer, director and producer and his 1988 debut film was also a documentary on cane toads. He says he has spent decades ``wondering about and looking at the issue'' and Canetoads: The Conquest addresses some of the key questions.
``How did it get across the country and at the same time become ingrained as part of our culture?,'' he asks.
``These are extraordinary questions I hoped we've answered.
``The overriding thing is you can't control them, so by default have we have to learn to live with them or cohabit with them.''Cane Toads: The Conquest was the first 3D film shot in Australia and Lewis (above) says taking the unusual approach of shooting a documentary in 3D has helped ``immerse the audience in the world of the toad.'' But Lewis says the highlight of the film was the array of unusual characters and experts he found to interview.
``We threw the net wide for people who have an understanding of the toad,'' he says.
``I see it as an honour when people ask if the characters are fictional because they are truly larger than life.
``From the people who had Buffy, a giant cane toad sculpture, to Kevin from Bloomsbury who creates beautiful art from taxidermy toads . . .they were all interesting.''
Cane Toads: The Conquest 3D is out today.
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Hooray! A book with completely no supernatural themes! It’s a rarity in my reading list this month, but hot damn is it gooo-oood. Note: those extra O’s are for emphasis. The first in what is a proposed series follows the adventures of a middle-aged detective Bernie and his dog Chet, who is the narrator of this tale. It’s Veronica Mars meets Inspector Rex. Funny, witty an action-packed, this isn’t like anything I’ve read before. Telling the story from the dog’s perspective is not only fresh, but freakin’ hilarious. Essentially it’s set in this very adult and somewhat dangerous world, but when told from Chet’s point of view . . .well, this extract might give you an idea:
“I’d never seen a real swan and was wondering how catchable they might be when I heard Iggy’s bark. Iggy had a high-pitched bark, an irritated-sounding yip-yip-yip. I barked. There was a brief silence, and then he barked again. I barked back. He barked. I barked. He barked. I barked. He barked. We got a good rhythm going, faster and faster. I barked. He barker I –“
You get it. This was very quirky and by far my favourite read this month. Plus, it has a quote from Stephen King on the front that sings its praise so when you know you’re in good company.