Saturday, July 30, 2011

Double Feature Blogathon: Port Cineaste Grand Re-Opening

As part of Go, See, Talk's new exciting blogathon I decided to dig out the old dream of re-opening the Fremantle Port Cineaste as a cinema instead of the amateur dramatics that goes on there at the moment.

The dream is to have a place that will serve great coffee in the foyer and screen old DVD's too, a boutique bar for those who like a beer or wine with their movie, perhaps an outside screen for summer season and truly delicious baked goods all year round.

Alas I heard about this blogathon a little too late to give it my full attention so I've come up with a schedule that should suit Fremantle (and possibly cheated a little too) in less time than I would have liked.

Back To Work Mondays for something a little more upbeat, something fun and perhaps farcical to make Mondays a day to look forward to instead of dreaded.

Noting like the combination of Billy Wilder and Jack Lemmon to lighten the mood, sit back, sip some champagne perhaps and enjoy Lemmon and MacLaine in The Apartment and follow it up with the wonderful any day of the week Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.

Tight Arse Tuesdays is a Perth tradition if not the rest of Australia and is a great night for all those couples looking for a cheap date. Something for him, something for her and maybe some free pizza thrown in (whilst stocks last.)

I may be thinking with my financial brain here but is there a bigger girlie movie than Pretty Woman? Perhaps putting baby in the corner but I'm not sure. Julia and Richard, yuk to both of them, Jason Alexander is great in it though! And after sitting through Pretty Woman the guy deserves some good old fashioned man time, Scorsese's finest and bloodiest (?) Goodfellas.

Monster Movie Wednesday may well turn in to Disaster Movie Wednesday as there is a finite demand for nothing but Godzilla movies but the suggestion was made and Leah said she'd definitely want to go to there (as Liz Lemon might say,) free dinosaur origami with every ticket purchased.

Mega Shark is a truly laughable movie, totally undeserving of cinematic play but can you imagine seeing the plane getting eaten by a shark on a giant screen. Cool. And Leah loves Godzilla, I don't know why.

Punky Brewsterdactyl

Cult Thursday is the place to come for your fix of all the hippest flicks, the skinniest black ties, the most spoons to throw and all those movies that I generally like to blog about (spoons only available during screenings of The Room.) I read Cult Thursday and think Tofurkey, perhaps a name change might be needed?

Alex Cox and Gregg Araki, like two peas in a pod. Repo Man is beyond awesome and heavily influenced Araki who then influenced Cox with his own pieces of wonder such as The Doom Generation. I wanted to have a Ben Wheatley double feature but I've reviewed both of his films recently (here and here) so that can wait for a later week in my cinemas existence.

Sci-Friday I couldn't resist, you can use it, I know it's probably the best pun ever (thank you Archer.) Aside from Alex at Film Forager I'm not sure who else would turn up to watch classic sci-fi but I intend to mix and match, one vintage, one modern every week. Sci-Friday is sponsored by Elizabeth's Bookshop Fremantle, providing awesome vintage science fiction for as little as $1.

Anytime you pass up the opportunity to use the incredible artwork from Metropolis you're passing up looking at something wonderful. How amazing would it be to see this at the cinema? And to follow up with the finest piece of science fiction cinema in recent memory, Moon, which I'm certain Hels at a whole load of blah will agree with me on.

Matinee Saturday a last minute cheat because I realised I'd neglected an entire revenue stream, the kids. Specialising in great movies for all the family but probably not Disney as it will cost a lot! Free activity bags and 'Let's Make Movies' workshops for the kids whilst the adults get drunk in the bar.

Family films aren't all animated, I really loved Shorts, it was so silly and so much fun and featured the line "your canyon needs more doom." I know I said no Disney but I almost picked Brave Little Toaster in the last blogathon because it holds such fond memories for me, it finally gets it's turn. And shout out to the blogger who created this fun re-imagining of the poster - El Guapon and La Flaca.

Film Noir Saturday Night was going to be classic cinema night but again my own particular interests take more importance here. A style and mood of film making more impressive than any other providing hundreds of incredible films largely forgotten and influencing countless modern films. Spotlights on full, providing ample shadows to hide in with your dames.

Something old, something new perhaps. One of my favourites of the genre combining everything that is great of the classic period, The Maltese Falcon. Bogie, Lorre, Greenstreet, to see the three of them on the big screen where they belong, what a rush. Directed by John Huston and written by pulp writer extraordinaire Dashiell Hammett, the only thing that comes close is the pairing of Wilder and Chandler on Double Indemnity. Paired with a riotous blast of a movie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, in which even Val Kilmer is great. So much fun paying homage and taking off all the classic noir cliche's but still remaining very much it's own wonderful movie.

Sunday Session is another Perth tradition, this chilled out cinema version will be bringing all you laid back cinema goers the very best in World Cinema with the bar open from midday, cheesy chips optional.

An incredibly tough choice for opening weekend of the Sunday Session, but in the end I plumped for combining two of my absolute favourite films of all time. Godard's incredible debut A Bout De Souffle is super cool thanks to Seberg and Belmondo. Then Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's Last Life In The Universe is just so melancholy and beautiful and touching, a perfect Sunday night movie.

That was fun, can I count on wonderful readers to keep my business alive or is my schedule not up your alley? Don't forget to blah below.

Friday, July 29, 2011

5 Yakuza Movies for Custard (a blahblahblahgay list)

So, Custard of frontroomcinema fame asks and Custard gets! My review of Outrage prompted a question on what Yakuza movies to watch and this happened in my head. Go blahblahblahhead.

5 Yakuza Movies to Watch Before Autoreiji

1. Yojimbo (1961) Akira Kuroswa

No list of Yakuza movies would be complete without a Kurosawa/Mifune film and this one is fantastic. I see no need to tell you about the wonder of Kurosawa.

A ronin without a name plays two warring crime lords off against each other in a small town in need of protection and then stuff happens but I don't want to give spoilers.

A beautiful looking film heavily influenced by hard boiled film noir and westerns and was notably remade as the Clint Eastwood classic A Fistful of Dollars.

2. Tokyo Drifter (1966) Seijun Suzuki

Seijun Suzuki was the significant director in the 'Romantic Gangster Films' movement in the 1960's. Tired of the formulaic plots and he began to portray the yakuza and their code of conduct as similar in world outlook to the salaryman working for the good of the country. In Suzuki's films, the yakuza consume each other in bizarre rituals; attempts to gain total power or climb the ranks of hitmen.

A gang tries to recruit a ronin, he refuses and assassins are sent for him, crosses and double-crosses abound.

The film seems to delight in its mayhem and is highly stylised in its violence, bringing to mind 60's European cinema.

3. Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973) Kinji Fukasaku

Groundbreaking ultra-violent, documentary style film set in post war Hiroshima from the director of Battle Royale as part of the 1970's move towards brutal realism in yakuza films.

Spanning a period of ten years it follows the tribulations of a minor street thug through the futility of the yakuza lifestyle of constant power struggles and feuds.

Bleak, violent and chaotic this one has been called The Japanese Godfather and is a MUST WATCH. Also called The Yakuza Papers.

4. The Yakuza (1975) Sydney Pollack

Written by Paul Schrader and Robert Towne, directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Mitchum. The Yakuza is a study of a culture clash, Eastern philosophy vs a modernised West and features an intelligent plot for an American actioner of the 70's.

A retired American detective is called to Japan to help an old friend resolve a business conflict with the yakuza and rescue the daughter they've taken hostage.

A fun inclusion, strangely this is the one I think of when I think of yakuza movies despite it being an American movie starring Robert Mitchum that I wasn't overly thrilled with when I first saw it.

5. Sonatine (1993) Takeshi Kitano

Takeshi Kitano almost single handedly revived the yakuza genre in the 1990's with a series of stylised minimalist movies, with Sonatine perhaps his best despite the beauty of Hana-bi.

A world-weary yakuza in Tokyo is assigned to take his clan to Okinawa to help settle a dispute between two factions. Over time, it becomes clear he's been set up, sent to Okinawa so that others can take over his lucrative territory. As his clan dwindles, he plans a revenge.

Sonatine draws the viewer in from the beginning, evokes the whole range of emotions, and whilst its characters are yakuza, it's by no means merely a yakuza film, it's so much more.

There you have it Custard and friends. 5 yakuza movies you should see instead of Autoreiji. Let me know what you think in the blahs.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

RPIFF: Autoreiji a.k.a. Outrage (2010)

And so the Revelation International Film Festival was brought to an an end with the most high profile film of the fortnight. International superstar 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano directing and starring in his first Yakuza movie in ten years, Autoreiji.

There is nothing new on show here. This is a Yakuza movie filled with double crossings, violent deaths, torture, honour and well that's about it. It merely updates the story and in Kitano's trademark way shows the Yakuza for what they are without dressing them up in glamour like an American movie might.

At times the plot is labyrinthine in it's crosses and double crosses and triple crosses and it is hard to keep track but in essence you can summarise the film as follows: Yakuza chairman plays power games with his underlings, playing them all off against each other in an effort to kill the strongest and most powerful and thus stop from getting killed in a power struggle. Beat Takeshi is Otomo, an old school yakuza who is lead around by the nose doing everyone's bidding whilst trying to keep one step ahead of being the next head on the chopping block.

Kitano makes beautiful films with violent content and this is no different, it's not as beautiful as some (see Hana-Bi and Sonatine) but it sure is violent in parts. The meandering plot doubles as a device to show Otomo killing in interesting ways, you may have heard of the dental office scene but there are a few others that are equally violent but not gruesome. None of which I will spoil for you by telling you about here.

It is a film littered with humour, some obvious visual jokes; some of them coming from the characters and I feel (as I often do with subtitled films) that some of the humour may have come from misunderstanding a foreign culture. But overall you feel nothing for a bunch of caricatures being used as a metaphor about the loss of honour in the Yakuza as they chase money and even the loss of tradition in Japanese culture.

I can't really recommend this movie too much, it's not bad as far as Yakuza movies go if you want some violence but if you were going to watch a Japanese movie or a Kitano movie you should probably watch something better.

So it ended on a down-ish note for me but The Revelation Perth International Film Festival was a great experience. I've never been part of something like a film festival before, never had a chance to see so many great films in the cinema and the hard work that went in to getting to the cinema to see 6 films in such a short space of time was completely worth it. I hope that these movies get worldwide cinematic releases, they deserve to be seen a lot more than most films that I see advertised but even if they don't I can safely say that the exhilaration of seeing something incredible in a cinematic environment is alive and well in this film lover and I appreciate the hard work that went on to bring such a great event to this backwater city of Perth.

Hopefully I don't have to wait a whole year until the next RPIFF to see something else as fresh and interesting and challenging and powerful as I have done these past two weeks.

Share the blah good readers, anyone else feel this way? Anyone love Outrage?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RPIFF: Submarine (2010)

I was very much looking forward to this one, Richard Ayoade from The IT Crowd writing and directing a movie, it could only be a disastrous letdown. Or brilliant. Having already read the thoughts of a lot of my favourite bloggers on Submarine I was thinking I might be disappointed. Alex at Film Forager called it (and i paraphrase) "cute but too hip" and Bonjour Tristesse called it "a decent first effort." Whereas Fandango Groover gave it his Movie of the Month award in March and Blondoner in her own unique way called it a piece of brilliant, genius.

It is a cute film, it's incredibly easy to watch at the most basic level of enjoying film and yet has all kinds of extra added depth for those open to a bit more, laughs in abundance and a pretty standard genre storyline.

Craig Roberts is Oliver Tate, our lead and narrator for the duration. But he's not really our narrator, he's narrating his life, creating his own magic and attributing more importance to himself than is necessary. He's a real teenage boy in this instance. What he narrates is his first steps in to teenage love, the possible break up of his parents marriage and his attempts at espionage.

The movie is packed with strong performances all round, I particularly liked seeing Dave's Coaches Dave and Gwen from Gavin & Stacy appear, but then they would because this is a Welsh movie. On a serious note Paddy Considine is excellent in his comic turn as spiritualist nut case neighbour with a mullet Graham and Yasmin Paige as Oliver's love interest is sufficiently adorable, especially in her red coat. Sally Hawkins is her usual subtle self as Oliver's dissatisfied mother but I just can't help but think of her as super chav Samantha in Mike Leigh's All or Nothing no matter what role she takes so I may not be the best judge on this one.

Oliver's adventures are largely enjoyable and Ayoade clearly had a very strong vision for the film which he pulls off with flying colours. The movie looks great. Lots of really nice composition and his use of colour (none more obvious than the red coat) is impressive. The use of different film stock is another trick used to great effect. All of it tying nicely together to create the feeling that Ayoade knows exactly what he's doing.

There have been a lot of comparisons thrown around for this film; Rushmore, Juno, 500 Days of Summer to name a few but I just don't see them myself. Sure there are times when the construction of some scenes is reminiscent of Wes Anderson and it's about young love but I see no reason to compare it to those movies. At times it felt more like Amelie with the magical narration and the breaking of the fourth wall and the very obvious influence of the French New Wave is right there for everybody to see.

Overall it's a good piece of cinema, enjoyable but not brilliant, if it had been brilliant more of it would have stayed with me. This is just another quirky coming of age comic drama, notable for the fact that it has come from a clearly talented first time director and from England not America. It's a shame it wasn't a total disaster really but I guess not everything can be so black and white.

Blah me people.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

RPIFF: Small Town Murder Songs (2010)

There seemed to be some hype surrounding this one, with the screening actually listed as SOLD OUT the day before and my friend Kate choosing this as the one she must see from the entire festival lineup. And so we saw Ed Gass-Donnelly's Small Town Murder Songs with high expectations, comparisons to the early work of the brothers Coen ringing in our ears.

I will start by going on record with the biggest problem I had with the film; it's runtime of 75 minutes. For me this is not a feature film but when you factor in the small detail that the credits may as well have rolled at 69 minutes and the white on black title cards at the beginning of the movie and you have what is basically a long TV show without the ads.

That aside this small, beautifully shot film is about redemption and centres on the murder of a young woman and the local sheriff's investigation of it in a small religious town in Canada.

It really is a beautifully shot film, the long slow takes of the scenery and small town life are given a haunting quality by the not exactly subtle soundtrack, and it's lucky that they are so nice to look at as they provide the bulk of the imagery, padding out the runtime of the film. I'm all for this kind of attention to beauty, film as art etc. but I feel that with Small Town Murder Songs it is largely there to make up for the lack of plot. Sure there are many films that look this beautiful with less plot and many pretty movies with more storylines than needed and both work fine but in this instance it just sits in the uncomfortable middle ground leaving you feeling unfulfilled.

At least two scenes are played in slow motion, almost choreographed to music, bringing to mind that Tears For Fears moment in Donnie Darko or that Mad World song from Donnie Darko. This also feels like an attempt to use style as a disguise for substance.

Seems like I didn't like this movie much. But it was quite good so I will attempt to finish with something else positive. Peter Stormare was superb and initially unrecognisable in the role of Walter, the Sheriff struggling to redeem himself for his violent past, bringing to mind Nick Nolte in Addiction and John Turturro in Fear X with a powerful performance. It is a shame that he was letdown by the occasional use of cliche in the actions of other characters. This certainly was no Coen Brothers movie.

So it didn't live up to the hype or expectation but it was worth the 75 minutes just to watch Peter Stormare and wonder at the beautiful cinematography.

Coming to the end of the Revelation Perth International Film Festival reviews here at blahblahblahgay, only 2 left. How's it been for you so far? Leave me some blah below.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blahblahblahplugs: The Bloody Bay Movie Project

The Bloody Bay Movie Project is something that's close to my heart and so I thought I would throw it a little blahblahblahplug.

Writer, producer, director, editor extraordinaire Simon Bonner has written a fun and vital piece of the current handheld horror oeuvre and is writing a blog about his experiences trying to get the movie produced. He's also looking for funding.

Simon is currently based in the Caribbean paradise of Trinidad & Tobago and this is the setting for Bloody Bay. Having read an early draft of the script myself I can tell you that the film follows a British honeymooning couple on the trip of a lifetime that suddenly goes horribly wrong. The script blends the local folklore of Papa Bois, Soucouyant and Lusca with recent iconic sci-fi/horror films such as Cloverfield, Monsters and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus.

Personally I'm not a fan of these kinds of movies but I read the script and loved it, if there's one thing Simon knows it's how to use a strong structure to hang an entertaining concept on and this has both.

I've worked closely with him in the past on micro budget pictures and there's nobody I would rather work with when things are tight. That's why I currently have my hand up for directing this film. I did say it was close to my heart.

So if you're looking for an interesting blog about the hoops a young indie film maker has to jump through head over to If you're interested in giving him money to help head over to If you just want more information than I can provide head over to

The Week In Movies 18/7/11 - 24/7/11

A heavy week at the Revelation Perth International Film Festival has seen me watch 8 films, 5 of them at the cinema with full reviews (including those yet to come) so this should be a pretty quick roundup.

It seems like forever ago that we sat down to watch Marathon Man only to find out that the disc was faulty and watched Nic Cage winning an Oscar for drinking his life away in Leaving Las Vegas. It's been so long since he actually acted that it surprises people when I talk about how good Nic Cage is in this and that the Oscar was actually deserved. This is one of those films you shouldn't watch too often; it's terribly depressing, but fantastic. Once every few years however you should remind yourself how wonderful this Mike Figgis film is. Elizabeth Shue as the prostitute on her way to redemption probably gives her career best performance and Julian Sands makes a fun cameo not to forget Danny Huston's blink and you miss it film debut as a bartender but primarily this is all about the subtleties of Nic Cage. Yeah that is what I said.

A few months back we watched the lots of fun but flawed, Carla Gugino starring, Sebastian Gutierrez directed Elektra Luxx about the personal life of a porn star and her group of friends and then we found out there was a film about these characters already, Women in Trouble. So for a bit of light entertainment we settled in. These are not ground breaking movies, there's nothing new or particularly special about them but they're fun all the same with some enjoyable moments and good dialogue from characters you don't usually see in films. Infact one of my favourite characters of recent times, somebody who I could probably watch quite a lot more of, came from these movies; Adrianne Palicki as failing pornstar Holly Rocket. Adrianne Palicki is an extremely beautiful woman and she hardly ever wears much in the way of clothing but her character is so totally clueless and adorable it hardly matters. If you want to look below the surface of these films there's probably even a message and moral somewhere.

Now on to the Don Roos movie The Other Woman, a film which has also been known as Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, hence the two very different posters used, and starring Natalie Portman. I'm a fan of the movies of Don Roos. I saw The Opposite of Sex before any Woody Allen movie so the gimmick with Wednesday Addams breaking the fourth wall was an exciting new cinematic tool for me. Most people didn't enjoy Bounce if I remember correctly but I did and not just because of my guilty pleasure of watching Ben Affleck movies, and Happy Endings was a good, fun, low budget piece of cinema. None of the films are made in a similar style but there's some kind of charm that unites them which must be brought to them by the director. There's nothing particularly new about The Other Woman, we've all seen step-mothers trying to be liked by the child and hated by the ex-wife before but it does have a strong performance from Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow is her usual flawless self in this minor post-Friends role. Enjoyable but nothing amazing, but it has stayed with me all week.

I've already reviewed Charlie Casanova and Vacation! from The RPIFF but seen and with reviews forthcoming are Submarine, Small Town Murder Songs and Autoreiji.

A busy week, how bout you? Do you remember when Nic Cage wasn't a joke? As always I'd love to know what blah is filling your movie minds.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

RPIFF: Vacation! (2010)

Zach Clark's follow up to his 2009 indie hit Modern Love Is Automatic was my must watch pick of the fortnight, to the extent of going to the cinema alone because everyone else was busy. I used to go to the cinema alone quite a lot, back when my enthusiasm for all forms of movie was fresh and needed to be fed constantly. I saw Independence Day three times at the cinema. Alone. It hardly happens any more, only in special circumstances. It's an odd feeling but one worth while in the case of some potentially great piece of cinema. You wouldn't find me going along to Transformers 3 with nobody for company (or at all actually, my feelings towards Bay are on record.) For Vacation! I was happy to make the exception.

The official blurb from the film makers made this sound very appealing to me: When four college friends reunite for a girls' week at the beach, it's all bikinis, piña coladas and dance parties at first. But the fun soon fades away... Sugar's got a thing for Dee-dee. Dee-dee's got a thing for a girl who's got a boyfriend. Donna's never made out with a girl, or done anything fun at all, ever. Lorelei's looking for some cheap thrills to help get over her ex. After procuring a psychotropic drug from a sketchy surfer dude, the girls take a very strange trip into the abyss. And that's when everything gets totally fucked. Bummer.

Zach Clark has been involved in mumblecore, a film making scene I am still yet to watch a movie from but the kind of realism that rocks my cinematic world if reports are true. I haven't even seen Modern Love Is Automatic so unlike all of the other reviews of this that I have read I cannot compare. What I can do is tell you that this is a movie of two halves. With a truly surreal intermission.

So there's four girls on holiday. All of them attractive in one way or another, spending most of their time in bikinis and getting drunk. They pass the time casually, not much happens. End of first half. They take some kind of drug (I assume to be acid,) they share the surreal nightmare trip. Something bad happens, one of them will not be going home, ever, they react to it in varying ways.

I couldn't help but enjoy the movie, they looked like they enjoyed themselves making it and that sense of fun comes across when watching. The dialogue is so real as we are treated to awkward conversations between people who have not much in common except shared college experiences and wonderfully natural lines such as "oh my god, I bought wigs," "fantastic, tell me more," "they're blonde" which made me giggle at the audacity of the film maker. The uncomfortable silences between the girls are even more realistic and true, it is these gaps in dialogue that accentuate what the movie is; a fun yet uncomfortable film about people and the way they relate to each other.

The cinematography from Daryl Pitman is superb, not just for a low budget film but for a film full stop, he uses vivid colours, a locked camera and a clean crisp use of light to highlight the overall feel of fresh playfulness and a tension that's slow to build to barely a simmer.

The music and sound design has gotten a lot of play, and rightly so, it is sufficiently hip when required and noticeably helps add to the sense of impending dread after one of the girls remarks that "things are only going to get worse."

Whilst the idea of four lesbian/bi-sexual girls drinking and having fun would ordinarily play in to male fantasies without even trying, I left Vacation! massively impressed with Zach Clark's direction and his restraint. The film studies concept of the camera gaze as male is largely thrown out of the window here as at no point did I get the sense that any of the proceedings were being eroticised, or the characters shown in an overtly sexual manner. Even the brief nudity and sexual behaviour is filmed so matter of factly that claims of misogyny would be flimsy at best.

Overall this is no Gregg Arraki, there's less plot, but it is a fun and impressive piece of low budget independent non-genre film making worth watching.

This is another one that's going to split audiences, plenty of people have disliked this movie, leave me some blah and let me know how you feel about it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

RPIFF: Charlie Casanova (2010)

Blahblahblahgay's second outing at the Revelation Perth International Film Festival is another British movie, this time from Ireland/EIRE/Republic of Ireland, whatever your preference for the name of this country, it's the one that includes drinking capital of the world Dublin.

This is the directorial debut of Terry McMahon, who according to imdb (and this is my favourite anecdote of the day) was Bad SWAT Cop #1 in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. And he was in attendance for the screening, introducing his film and staying for a Q & A afterwards, which unfortunately I couldn't stay for (work is demanding.) His introduction featured him stating that at least half of the audience would hate the film and could they please stay afterwards to tell him why.

And he was totally accurate, this is an awkward film, very difficult to enjoy in the traditional sense and once more difficult to categorise. It's part psychotic breakdown, part political dissection, part kitchen sink domestic drama, part offensive (a large part at that,) part nightmare.

Charlie Casanova, played by Emmet Scanlan in a career making performance, is an extremely charismatic yet supremely unlikable person. He defines himself as a member of the middle class, with flash cars, flash suits, an IQ of 187 (maybe my IQ isn't high enough but I don't know what this number actually means, what is the difference between 187 and 170?) a seemingly close group of friends and a loving wife. Yet he is bored with his life and proposes a game involving playing cards quite similar to that proposed in the Luke Rhinehart novel The Dice Man - ask the cards a question with a yes or no answer, the card you turn over is either a yes or a no. Most of the questions asked seem to involve illegal acts and sexual behaviour.

The journey Charlie takes is occasionally slow moving but largely a difficult watch because his behaviour is so often completely abhorrent. What makes it watchable and in it's own way enjoyable is the incredibly powerful performance from Scanlan and the mostly tight direction from McMahon. He shoves the camera in the characters faces, you feel claustrophobic more often than not, you even (and maybe this is just me) find yourself identifying with the lunatic on screen before realising that his words are just an excuse for his behaviour, this I am pretty sure was intended by McMahon.

There is a scene in which Casanova tries some impromptu standup in a working class club, ripping the patrons apart with some very well observed humour before being dragged out of the bar. This scene feels like the one that the movie was written around, it's the strongest in it's content and the way that it was filmed and really pushes the movie forward in to the final act and the (at this point) slightly confusing ending.

At times it is a little difficult to understand some of the dialogue; as I have found from my personal experience of the Irish accent, sometimes they speak too fast for me to catch every word, other times the choice of slang is too confusing. But this doesn't actually detract from the film in any way. It may even add to the flavour, the realism of the piece.

The final 2 scenes are fantastic and have you leaving the film on a high note; Charlie is on a roof, talking to a camcorder, wild eyed and frantically spouting his political ideals, urging the masses to take some responsibility for their lives, defending his actions, an incredible piece of cinema to end with. And then there's a piece of broken domesticity, a beautiful piece of art that the camera holds on until we fade to back, nothing happens but you can't tear your eyes from it, mesmerising.

I would definitely recommend watching this film if you are partial to watching great acting performances in difficult films. It's certainly not for everyone but it is worth your time.

Anyone else seen this one? It's been at quite a few festivals so far, I'd love to hear from somebody who didn't like it. Leave me some blah and get the dialogue going.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Week In Movies 11/7/11 - 17/7/11

This week I once more found some time for movies. Which is GREAT! As I love movies. You may have noticed that I have also not turned a movie off recently. This is a by-product of not having much time, I'm less likely to take a chance on something I think has the potential to be a bit meh. It does not mean I have more patience however as aside from my trip to the RPIFF I only saw 2 films that I had never seen before. When in need of easy viewing I go the films I know best (and haven't seen a billion times or recently.)

New viewings first this week, Gene Hackman in Night Moves is an enjoyable film with many great things going for it overshadowed by so many plot holes and a lack of explanation that it's hard to say whether it is actually any good. Just as in Altman's The Long Goodbye the hard boiled gumshoe character is brought in to the 1970's and shown as a bumbling, weak fool who stumbles around getting lucky as evidence literally falls in to his lap; the same is true of Gene Hackman in Night Moves but with less charisma and likability than Elliot Gould as Philip Marlowe. A Lot of the dialogue was fun as the supporting cast take turns to mock the "hero" and a young Melanie Griffiths is naked quite a lot for no discernible reason other than to get a young girl to take her clothes off onscreen, neither of these facts can make up for the unexplainable plot or the fact that to get the story moving we're suddenly transported to a boat, at sea, in the middle of the night so that a naked Melanie Griffiths can swim in to a crashed plane and discover somebody who looks like Michael Myers on board.

And then comes The Man On The Eiffel Tower, a quite poor piece of cinema all round. Based on the Simenon novels, this is an Inspector Maigret investigation in to a serial killer. Aside from the fun aspect of seeing Burgess Meredith as Jack Lemon's dad in Grumpier Old Men and then going back 50 years to see him running around post-war Paris this one has to be for die hard fans of Maigret only. The original director was replaced and Burgess Meredith and Charles Laughton took turns to direct it, there are some pretty poor performances (especially from Meredith) and there's an interminable chase scene up the Eiffel Tower as we wait for the death of the antagonist which was foreshadowed halfway through the movie, by him asking "have you ever wondered what it would be like to fall off of the Eiffel Tower?"

Repeat viewings this week for Grumpier Old Men, the sequel to Grumpy Old Men has almost the same laugh content as the original but features a lot more of Burgess Meredith as the very old father of Jack Lemon who still has raging hormones. Just as enjoyable as the first film and the outtakes at the end are worth the price of admission alone. However I'm thinking that it was The Odd Couple 2 that was the funniest of all the Lemon/Matthau movies from the mid 90's so I'm going to try tracking that down.

Keven Smith's fourth feature, Dogma, was the first one I saw at the cinema and I've loved it ever since. It's a very funny self aware movie with excellent performances from the ensemble cast, most notably Alan Rickman as the Metatron. It represents a growth in the work of Smith as a writer/director, it retains some of that immature humour that Smith fans (including myself) love but adds some solid story and plot, looking at the films he has made since Dogma I would suggest that this was his high point and despite how much I enjoyed Clerks 2 and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back neither of them are the complete film that Dogma is.

Final rewatching is technically not a film but it is feature length TV and was written/directed by the second most famous film maker in the world Quentin Tarantino. Grave Danger. Having been looking forward to this episode for 5 seasons of rewatching CSI as I fall asleep when we finally got to it we actually wanted more. That speaks volumes for the quality of QT's story and direction. If you're not a fan of CSI you may still enjoy this episode, it's got quite a few of the Tarantino trademarks: the main characters reference old TV shows and change their speech patterns, close ups on feet and somebody is buried alive. I think Tarantino must have been a fan already as he puts the words of the fans in to the mouths of the characters at times and he probably understood the nature of each character more than most of the shows writers. I'm no longer a massive Tarantino fan but if there was ever any doubt as to his talent I think the dramatic increase in the quality of this show would prove otherwise.

And following up from my review this week, some more words about Ben Wheatley's Kill List to quickly wrap this up. It's so nice to leave a cinema knowing you've just thoroughly enjoyed something. It gave me a buzz the whole of the next day, whilst film has become something of a time filler or something to relax with, it is moments like this that remind me why it is that I loved film in the first place. If you get a chance to see this movie, do. For those in the UK it has a release date set of 2 September. Here's hoping the rest of the screenings will encourage that same feeling. Charlie Casanova tonight, will hopefully have a review for you by Wednesday.

You know the drill, leave me some blah, it's good to feel loved, especially when half my hits have been for a picture of Emma Thompson in Harry Potter this week!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

blahblahblah Goes To Acting School: Meryl Streep Was She Robbed or Is She Marissa Tomei?

This months LAMB acting school takes a look at the career of Meryl Streep. Unlike last months piece on Willem Dafoe I'm pretty sure that the outcome is not going to be "is a bit creepy."

I wouldn't say I'm much of a Streep fan to be honest and I don't think I've seen half of her 68 film credits (as per imdb) but I just read that she has been nominated for an Academy award 16 times, which is astonishing, but only won twice.

It's hard to be taken seriously as a female actor in Hollywood, this much I think we can all agree on. The paucity of quality roles written for women means that you pretty much have to be a woman in a lead role in a serious movie and you'll get an Oscar nomination. Even taking that fact in to account, for Meryl Streep to be nominated 16 times is still great going. Not many people put in performance after performance of a high calibre. Some people even say that she's the greatest living and working female actor.

So let's just assume she is, for the sake of this article, and assess why she didn't win a clean sweep of the Oscars. Was she robbed or has she mainly been Marissa Tomei?

1979 Best Supporting Actress The Deer Hunter
Lost to Maggie Smith in Neil Simon's California Suite
Neil Simon movies were a big deal but this one didn't really win any awards apart from for Maggie Smith's performance as Diana Barrie which also won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. The Deer Hunter being the movie that won best picture and best direction that year also provided acting nominations for De Niro and Walken. People loved Streep's performance and there's no doubt that it is one that has survived in the minds of movie viewers longer than the other nominees so without having seen Maggie Smith in California Suite I call robbed!

In 1980 she won for Kramer vs Kramer, a movie that won 4 out of the 6 major awards and even managed to get an 8 year old boy an Oscar nomination.

1982 Best Actress The French Lieutenant's Woman
Lost to Katharine Hepburn who won her final Oscar, 48 years after her first one, in On Golden Pond
How can I possibly say she was robbed this time? It was Katharine Hepburn! Not some fly by night youngster putting in a one-off performance in a supposedly important film. Also this was the only major nomination for French Lieutenant's Woman and was obviously one of those filler nominations I mentioned before. Marissa Tomei

1983 was the second and last (so far) win for Ms Streep as she starred in Sophie's Choice, flying in the face of my previous statement, hers was the only major nomination for this film about holocaust survivors.

1984 Best Actress Silkwood
Lost to Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment
Terms of Endearment was one of those rare movies made for women to let them cry and laugh about being women. That's the impression I get, kind of Beaches but with quality. Silkwood was the Erin Brokovich of it's day and we all remember what happened to Julia Roberts career after that movie, we have to live with it every day. Shirley Maclaine had previously been nominated without a win 5 times so clearly this was politics and Meryl Streep was robbed!

1986 Best Actress Out of Africa
Lost to 8th time lucky Geraldine Page in The Trip to the Bountiful
This seems like one of those American films that is really only meant for Americans winning an Oscar for an old actress just before their death to me. Out of Africa was the big picture winner this year and whilst Robert Redford didn't even get nominated for his role Streep more than deserved it. Robbed, yet again.

1988 Best Actress Ironweed
Lost to Cher of all people in Moonstruck
OK so I think I'd be the first person to raise their hand and say "hey I've never heard of this Ironweed movie" even so the fact that they gave Cher an Oscar amazes me. Meryl Streep was definitely robbed.

1989 Best Actress Evil Angels/A Cry In The Dark
Lost to Jodie Foster in The Accused
I'm pretty certain this is the movie where Jodie Foster gets raped on a pinball machine. In a case that shares the sentiments behind slutwalk - a woman does not deserve to get raped because she acts provocatively. But for me that's no match for Meryl Streep crying out that "a dingo, a dingo stole her baby," in the dramatic true story of blahblahblah in Evil Angels. Robbed.

1991 Best Actress Postcards From The Edge
Lost to the incredible Kathy Bates in Misery
This was a Terms of Endearment type role for Streep, a role that shouldn't have had a nomination and was never going to win, it was a semi-comedic performance about mothers and daughters versus a multi-layered nutcase. But then Julia Roberts was nominated for being a hooker so anything goes. Marissa Tomei

1996 Best Actress The Bridges of Madison County
Lost to Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking
I'm not saying it wasn't deserved but Dead Man Walking was a very dull movie. I remember watching it on VHS and wondering what the fuss was about. Bridges of Madison County on the other hand just sounds dull. I can't really judge here apart from go on record and say Emma Thompson should have won for Sense and Sensibility cos she's just so lovely. Marissa Tomei

1999 Best Actress One True Thing
Lost to Weepy McPaltrow in Shakespeare in Love
If ever there was a case of Marissa Tomei it is this one. Sure it sounds like one of those important movies with a role for a strong female actor but jeez it sounds dull too. In the year when Cate Blanchett was robbed for her performance in Elizabeth I'd be surprised if this nominee got a vote. Marissa Tomei.

2000 Best Actress Music of the Heart
Lost to Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry
Wow this one sounds awful, directed by Wes Craven and c0-starring Gloria Estefan! For me that's enough to Marissa Tomei this movie but you can also add the "important movie about real life struggle" tag to it to make doubly sure. Boys Don't Cry was a worthy winner for sure, Hillary Swank was very good and even my hardened heart enjoyed the film for what it was BUT Annette Benning deserved in more for being in the film I enjoyed the most. Marissa Tomei

2003 Best Supporting Actress Adaptation.
Lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago
Ummmmmmmmm. Even taking our biased Meryl Streep glasses off here there's no way in hell that she should have lost to Catherine Zeta-Jones. Julianne Moore in The Hours perhaps but not the absurd CZJ. I've narrowed it down to a few possibilities: The Academy were surprised that she could actually act at all, the power of the Douglas dynasty bought the vote for her or Adaptation being a Charlie Kaufman script was just too weird for anyone to vote for. Robbed!

2007 Best Actress The Devil Wears Prada
Lost to Helen Mirren in The Queen
Well nobody was going to beat The Queen in 2007 and especially not some fluffy chicklit movie. Helen Mirren can't have been pushed close by a movie that had Adrien Grenier in it. Marissa Tomei

2009 Best Actress Doubt
Lost to Kate Winslet in The Reader
She had to win one eventually. Another long term loser finally getting an Oscar for what was probably not their best performance. Whereas Meryl Streep was superb in a movie filled with superb performances. This screams robbed to me.

2010 Best Actress Julie & Julia
Lost to Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
21 years after her first Oscar nomination and still going strong, losing to Sandra Bullock in this "important" movie must've hurt though. I thought Julie & Julia was a lovely movie, thoroughly enjoyable but Meryl Streep as Julia Childs was the standout performance of the year without a shadow of a doubt. I'm a fan of Sandra Bullock and she deserves more serious roles but this was an unjustified Oscar win for her. Robbed!

Final Score: Robbed 8 vs Marissa Tomei 6

Looks like she's largely been overlooked for her talents by The Academy but perhaps it is punishment for all those times she's received unwarranted nominations. Sure judging an actors talent based on the preference of a bunch of old rich white men isn't exactly accurate but I had some fun writing this anyway. I haven't been a fan until recently but researching this article I think I've found a whole new respect for somebody who has been a hugely talented female actor and continues to grow in her craft. She can play funny, she can play it straight, for a while her speciality seemed to be wronged women in real life stories that probably should've just been TV movies and recently she was seen in bed with Alec Baldwin and (apart from Steve Martin) made an enjoyable film about older people finding love.

Coming soon as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, in which she will most undoubtedly be truly remarkable and then opposite Tommy Lee Jones in an old married couple drama, Great Hope Springs, of which I know little apart from Steve Carrell is also on board. There's clearly a lot left of Meryl Streep's career for us to enjoy.

agree? disagree? totally blahzay on the matter? leave me some blah below why don't you.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

RPIFF: Kill List (2011)

Welcome to the first blablahblahgay review from the Revelation Perth International Film Festival. 11pm is a ridiculous time to start watching a movie for me. Back when I was 16 you'd find me and my friend Owen wandering the dangerous streets of Stevenage waiting for the late night showing of whatever terrible movie we'd decided to see that weekend but now I can't remember the last time I was awake at 11pm let alone settling down to watch a film.

As already mentioned this week Kill List is Ben Wheatley's second film, following up the fantastic Down Terrace (reviewed recently here on blahblahblahgay,) with another piece of great cinema that highlights his maturing as a storyteller and growth as a film maker. This film is an enigma, it's difficult to categorise; for Ben Wheatley, genres are simply a guide, he lets his films go wherever they need to ignoring conventions and disregarding cliche. What starts out as a kitchen sink drama moves in to hitman territory quite quickly before evolving in to a serious what the fuck ending filled with mysticism and gore.

Jay is a former hitman, retired after he screwed up a previous job in Kiev (this fact pops up quite a bit throughout but is never explained) and living with his ex-Swedish military wife, Shel, in suburban England. The couple are broke and the wife, who subtly dominates the relationship, is pressuring him to go back to work. His former partner Gal (on orders from Shel) offers another job, killing 3 people, and Jay, reluctant at first, agrees.

What ensues is a mysterious journey focusing on the psychological changes in Jay and Gal, punctuated with gore filled scenes and a never ceasing increase in the nameless, shapeless dread that permeates the film. With an ending you know the less about the better before seeing.

It seems to be a major advertising point so I'm not spoiling anything here but the ending is truly horrifying, not in a modern torture porn way or in a lets make use of really loud noises to make you jump way but in a truly psychologically challenging manner. You may watch this film or hear about some of the violence contained within and think me crazy but Ben Wheatley makes very subtle movies and this mind-bending finale borders on ambiguous, there is blood and there is gore and there are shocking realisations but that all takes a back seat to the psychological study of the man. Not to mention trying to piece together exactly what the ending means.

At 2am I was thinking about this movie, all the way home we were trying to understand what happened, neither of us could actually state with 100% confidence what the ending was about. This is a film that not only deserves a second viewing but may need one so you can divorce yourself from the WTF factor and piece together the puzzle. Because hints are left throughout, religious undertones, a sigil carved in to the back of a mirror, victims happy to die, repeated requests for Jay to wake up, dead animals left in their garden, what are the red herrings and what is the explanation? You may even be watching again and again to clarify your own thoughts and you will be thoroughly entertained every time I'm sure.

At times this is a funny movie, with the comedy taken from the human interaction, not from the violence like some other movies. At other times it's deeply unsettling, the use of sound really helping to increase the tension; using strings and whistles, moans and backwards played speech and even the moments of silence to ratchet things up step by step. But mainly this movie is enjoyable as a fantastically well crafted film that utilises the handheld camera aesthetic to it's full claustrophobic best to unsettle before unleashing an ending that will impact on your daily life for weeks to come. Guaranteed.

Well that's a departure for blahblahblahgay. Anyone else seen this yet? I'd love to get some other opinions, leave some blah below. Next up Charlie Casanova.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Revelation Perth International Film Festival

It seems strange to me that I hadn't really heard of this event before. It's one of the problems with Perth I think, if you're not listening to local pop radio or reading the free music press you have no idea what's going on around the city.

The RPIFF has being going in one form or another since 1990. It's current format includes music, visual art, shorts, documentaries as well as feature films. Their website blurb states

Revelation was (and still is) concerned with the conservative nature of film distribution and exhibition practice in Australia. It has always sought to deliberately challenge current marketplace modes and biases through unusual and contextualised screening concepts, focused curation and active interaction with industry guilds, independent curators, the academic community and other Arts related activity and practitioners. The event has also always maintained a playful approach to both its programming and audience. Areas of pop and youth culture have always figured heavily in Revelation programs alongside some of the most individual and acclaimed works from the local and international scene. Whatever your taste though, Revelation seeks to challenge audiences and the industry itself with vibrant, individual, unusual, passionate and committed works.

As you can see they like to use their own name quite a lot in their blurb. But on a serious note it's a worthy mission statement.

My interest in the festival is the feature films as I have never really felt the need to watch short films or documentaries in cinemas. There's something about watching "real people" in movies or on TV that makes me very uncomfortable. I've never been able to put my finger on it but it's something I might have to look in to at some point. Needless to say that when the news has eyewitness accounts from passersby I tend to switch channels.

My initial picks (before factoring the need to go to work instead of the cinema) were:
A little Australian film titled LBF (on the website but it's full name is Life Between Fucks,)
Irish crime drama Charlie Casanova,
Ben Wheatley's followup to Down Terrace, Kill List,
the new (and I'm very excited about this) film from Takeshi Kitano AutoReiji,
Philip K. Dick adaptation Radio Free Albemuth,
Coenesque American Indie Small Town Murder Songs,
debut directorial effort from The I.T. Crowd's Moz, Submarine,
possible mumblecore film from Zach Clark, Vacation!
Paddy Considine's Tyrannosaur has been highly praised.

However with scheduling conflicts and financial requirements it looks like I may be bringing you news from just a few of them. This Friday Kill List plays at 11pm, which is about 2 hours after my preferred bedtime these days but after Down Terrace I'm willing to go to great lengths for a Ben Wheatley film. Charlie Casanova plays Monday and I have my fingers crossed I can get across the city in time. Vacation! plays next Friday, Small Town Murder Songs Saturday and Autoreiji closes the festival for me next Sunday.

Seeing 5 films at the cinema in a week is pretty big for me these days, I may be a little out of practice but I did get quite used to seeing three films in one day a little while ago so I shall do my best.

Do I actually have any Perth readers yet? Anyone heard of this festival before and making a trip to Perth for it? Is there anything I've missed that you would recommend? Leave me a blah why don't you.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Week In Movies 4/7/11 - 10/7/11

OK. Lets knock this one out. I need to go to work. Dammit! What did I watch this week? A lot considering how busy things are.

Two films from the previously viewed archives, The Mighty Ducks or The Mighty Ducks Are The Champions or Champions The Mighty Ducks, whatever they are calling where you are or on whichever format it's released on, it's that Emilio Estevez movie about ice hockey playing kids. Disney really did change it's name a few times too. I think I've watched three copies of it in my life and each of them have had a different title. I used to love this movie, watched it all the time as a kid. How excited I got when Pacey scored the winning goal (do they still call them goals in ice hockey?) And it hasn't aged too badly either, it's not quite as ridiculous as some kids movies are when you grow up. It relies on cliches and stereotypes to tell it's story and there's a meaningless romance for The Breakfast Clubber but it's great fun and includes a poop joke for the kids.

Grumpy Old Men, it's a movie that surely wouldn't get made in Hollywood these days but what can you say about the quality of Jack Lemon and Walther Matthau that could dispute the fact that they deserved to be making this movie? Their rapport and comic timing leaves me chuckling away at the slightest little things that ordinarily wouldn't even be funny or worse an obvious cliche. I shall watch the sequel this week as I remember it being funnier.

Three old movies that I watched for the first time, Dark Blue starring Kurt Russell and Ving Rhames was written by David Ayer (Street Kings, training Day, S.W.A.T - yeah even the cops dial 911, that guy) based on a story by the godfather of crime fiction James Ellroy. Ellroy has his own unique style of writing, most of his work is set in L.A. of the 50's and 60's and I think his voice suits that time, when people were called hopheads or whatever yet this film was set in 1991 (I think) and whilst the dialogue is modernised a little it just didn't sit right. Other than that it was an OK movie apart from Scott Speedman who has a face I hate looking at, whenever I notice him in a movie i groan because he bugs me for some reason. It was a little slow, a little obvious but did have some good work from Madeye Moody and a pretty cool scene set during the Rodney King riots.

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger continued my catching up with recent Woody Allen movies that I had never even heard of. Set in London, something I usually enjoy seeing but then almost instantly grow to hate as the cliches and fictions increase, and starring an American, an Australian, a Welshman and that girl from Slumdog Millionaire the premise of two married couples struggling with their relationships sounded like pretty common Allen fare and it pretty much was. I was mostly bored and occasionally enraged at how Allen imprinted his idea of New York lifestyle on to Londoners and generally I just didn't care about any of it. Lucy Punch was particularly grating but then that was because she was completely and totally accurate in her portrayal of English girls. I still haven't seen Vicky Christina Barcelona, I always meant to. Soon perhaps. It's amazing how Woody Allen has people lining up to invest in his films when it seems like there's a 1 in 4 chance of breaking even. He does make a lot of stuff that goes ignored doesn't he.

And there was Basic Instinct. I managed to go the last 20 years without seeing this iconic film, it just never really appealed for whatever reason, perhaps the constant talk of the leg crossing scene made me just go blah at it. But the research of the (fingers crossed) upcoming noirathon led me to think it might be worth a shot even if it doesn't make the list of modern noir films. Paul Verhoeven, famed for his bloody violence certainly didn't miss a chance to include it in this one. It's quite a bit more subtle than Starship Troopers for example. But really it's quite a sexy movie. I was surprised at myself. The overly absurd filmic ideal of passionate orgasmic sex is a real turn off but it is the performance of Sharon Stone primarily, less so Michael Douglas (even though he is excellent in the role,) that brings sex to the film. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the movie actually, the best bit is that it doesn't pretend to be something that it's not, a staple of all Verhoeven movies. An enjoyable thriller packed with sexual tension, I wouldn't say amazing but I'd swing to a 7 out of 10 if pushed and recommend a viewing if you haven't already seen it. Oh yeah, the leg crossing scene, what the hell was the big deal? It's like that moment in Dirty Dancing when Swayze says "nobody puts baby in the corner" you hear so much about it and it's just some tiny thing that barely registers.

And now the new release, blockbuster, first time viewing of X-Men: First Class. I would invite you to read Alex over at Film Forager as her review says so much more about my feelings for this particular film than I have time for right now. We seem to be in the minority too. The gushing that occurred in the blogosphere when this was released was overwhelming, I thought I actually really wanted to watch this film but I am so glad I paid no money for this piece of dull action cinema.
Key points:
Yes it was better than X3 and Wolverine but that doesn't mean it's good.
I got tired of seeing James MacAvoy touch his head when he was using his powers after the first time let alone EVERY SINGLE TIME.
These characters all seemed to be towards the low end of the mutant spectrum, silly powers etc.
Kevin Bacon? Really?
The entire movie was a series of plot points with no story telling. I think I was 80 minutes in and still waiting for the scene setting to stop so we could get on with the movie.

OK enough for today, leave some blahs below, until next time movie watchers.