Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Worse Addictions: Episode 4

Hello my friends, obviously I've been somewhat tardy with my posting for the past couple of weeks. The podcast if taking up vast amounts of my time as is various freelance gigs I've been able to pick up. Below is the overview for EPISODE 4 of WORSE ADDICTIONS in which we review Disgrace and begin our exploration of Michael Mann in the new Body Of Lies feature. Please remember to subscribe via iTunes, and do feel free to email your feedback and thoughts to worseaddictions@gmail.com

"Despite the editor's failure to bring the power cord for his laptop the Worse Addictions team were able to record episode 4 of the show with the help of a super speedy second half. Alex Parker and Matt Riviera returned to the studio – much to the relief of Scott Henderson and Josh Wheatley – in time to review the new Australian film DISGRACE, directed by Steve Jacobs and starring John Malkovich. The guys (and gal) open the show by talking about Alex's recommendation for film viewing in hospital and Josh's latest DVD purchases. They also introduce our new trailer competition, the Can't Say No feature where one of the team challenges someone to watch a unseen film before the next episode and finally we kick start our Body Of Lies feature on Michael Mann. Hope you enjoy the show folks and please come back next week when we review Transformers 2."


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trailer for The Warriors Way

I don't normally post trailers but this one was an absolute must see. It came via 24FPS and looks like an unendorsed promo release of the English language samurai western (most samurai films are actually westerns but this one is actually set in the Wild West). The film is directed by Sngmoo Lee and stars Korean actor Dung-Kun Jang as the retired 'World's Greatest Swordsman Ever'. And Jang is not the only talent we should mention with Kate Bosworth, Geoffrey Rush and Danny Huston (hamming it up in all the right ways) providing some serious star power to the cast. Quite frankly this looks incredible, drawing on several genres and influences like Hard Boiled, The Crow (think the strobing shootout), Yojimbo, A Fistful Of Dollars and anything involving bullet time bad-assery. Watch it below or click here.

Type rest of the post here


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

SFF review: Burma VJ

Director: Anders Østergaard
Country: Denmark

"Those who are not afraid come to the front” – unknown protester

“All social changes come from the passions of individuals.” After nearly a decade of pessimistic ‘we’re all doomed’ documentaries of despair things might be changing for the better. Whilst many of the features at the 56th Sydney Film Festival have shown a distinct pattern of fatalistic discourse, this comment by a subject in Louie Psihoyos’ The Cove reflects the optimistic hope evident in many of the documentary films showing this year.

In Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country it is more than simply the passion of one person, but the bravery of a group of undercover journalists who operate at all times under the threat of permanent incarceration or worse. They are all members of the Democratic Voice of Burma based in Rangoon where they do everything they can to capture footage of the country’s military dictatorship’s activities and smuggling their elicit goods to a headquarters in Norway. These are video journalists as freedom fighters, where high street camcorders replace rocket launchers and “stories are silent.”

Director Anders Østergaard cuts together footage of the 2007 rebellion led by Burma’s 400,000 Buddhist monks along with the dramatic recreations of DVB journalist Joshua’s (alias) experience hold up in Thailand at the time of the almost-revolution and whose role was to managed the flow of information to the outside world. It’s a problematic decision but for the most part you take Joshua at his word as he tells his comrades story.

What plays out in the film’s grainy home video footage is some of the most incredible scenes of revolt and repression ever captured charting it from beginning to end. The last time the people of Burma rose up against the military in 1988 some 3,000 people were killed in the streets and the film is soaked in fear and tension for the intrepid reporters. Aside the bravery of the reporters who must dodge secret police hiding in the crowds, the monks who march on the capital in their thousands and the student activists who march despite fear the military will fire on them, there is something heartbreakingly inspirational about the intangibles caught on camera here.

The DVB remind us of the role of good journalism in exposing atrocities (and believe me, you will see tragedy) and the truth behind the oppression of a people, with the simultaneous realism how negligent our own media has proved in recent times. Burma VJ is nail-bitingly tense, utterly engrossing and incredible galvanising. More than simply documenting this event the film offers hope in the indomitable nature of the human spirit that refuses to go quietly into the night no matter the consequences.


56th Sydney Film Festival runs until 14 June


Worse Addictions: Episode 2

So the second episode of WORSE ADDICTIONS has been posted online. It was a pretty crazy production and editing job as we've all been super busy with the Sydney Film Festival, but I think we made some progress from the first episode and we certainly had some good discussions about the three films we reviewed: BRONSON, VAN DIEMEN'S LAND and 500 DAYS OF SUMMER. I'm trying to knock together some written review to post here at the blog. My favourite film so far has been documentary The Cove, which I can't recommend highly even and rambled about a little too much during the episode. Anyways, go check it out, download it, subscribe to iTunes – all the links should be working.

Also, Matt Riviera is running a critic poll of the films showing at the festival on his blog Last Night With Riviera in which I am taking part. Swing by there to see what have been mine and a number of other critics favourite films so far.

The Sydney Film Festival ends 14 June, so hurry over to the website to book your tickets now.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Film review: Terminator Salvation

Director: McG
Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood
Country: USA

"So that's what death tastes like." – Marcus Wright

It was hard to imagine a more meaningless addition to a cinematic franchise after Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans. Kudos then to McG and the ‘creative’ team behind Terminator Salvation for such a valiant effort: not only have they managed to neuter a once genuinely terrifying vision of the apocalypse, but they have done so in a way that inspires little more than apathy for all involved. In fact, if this John Connor is the man they’ve been crooning about for 25 years then frankly we’ve been conned because apparently he couldn’t inspire so much as a story in a room full of writers.

Traditionally this is the point at the reviewer gets into some synopsis of the film, which is all well and good, but there are some many holes perforating John Brancato and Michael Ferris’ (the geniuses behind Catwoman and The Net) script it would take a thesis to explain it all. Not that they haven’t tried, starting off the film with exposition in title cards, forging on with voice-over narration and rubber stamped with dialogue straight out of daytime soap territory.

For your benefit: a man on death row, Marcus Wright (Aussie Worthington), signs his body over to Cyberdyne to for scientific research in the year 2003. Fast-forward to 2018, a computer defence network Skynet (develop by Cyberdyne) has become self aware and nuked humankind almost to extinction. The resistance leader is a man named John Connor (Bale, scowling/growling/dreadful) and he is trying to find another man called Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) who he will eventually send back in time to protect/shag his mother so that he can be his dad. All the while there are machines that take the form of planes, motorbikes, water snakes and terminators (pretty much anything you can welt a machine gun to) working hard to eliminate humans. Oh yeah, turns out Wright is a machine who thinks he’s a man and may be the resistance’s only hope, or something metaphorical, sorta.

The resulting film takes itself so seriously it is left utterly lifeless and is so devoid of likeable characters that any supposed tension is striped from the relentless action sequences. Not only that but everything is derivative of/ripped off Every Other Post Apocalypse War Movie Ever right down a pointless mute child called Star; it may as well be one of those genre parodies, which works because they aren’t funny either.

Asking lofty questions like “doesn’t everyone deserve a second shot” while single-handedly sending girl power back to the 50s (tough as nails female fighter falls instantly in love with Wright, Connor’s wife is a pregnant doctor) Terminator Salvation fails to accomplish anything other than blowing shit up bigger than ever before and more frequently. If this is the best of humanity has to offer then perhaps it isn’t worth saving after all.


Terminator Salvation is released nationally in Australia 4 June, but only go if you can't get tickets for the Sydney Film Festival, actually I wouldn't bother going at all...


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Australia Film Podcast: Worse Addictions

Hello friends, the past week has been a fairly insane time for me as I've been educating myself on audio editing and familiarising myself with a new website backend AND preparing myself for the Sydney Film Festival. Anyway, the result is that I have launched a new film podcast with the help of a few friends, it's called WORSE ADDICTIONS and if you click the name through to the site you'll be able to download our first episode previewing the 56th Sydney Film Festival. The site is still a work in progress as are my hosting skills. We'll be recording new episodes during the festival and on a weekly basis from here on out. Please leave feedback in the Worse Addictions 'episodes' comments section, we'd love to hear what you think.