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Film (25)

The Runaways

“Can you sing?”

“I won a talent contest lip-syncing to David Bowie.”

Long before Simon Fuller harnesses the girl power of the Spice Girls, Riot Grrrl guitar feminism and Linda Perry penned songs for every female pop singer on the planet, Kim Fowley wrangled the raw desire of a gaggle of teenage musicians to create the seminal girl group The Runaways.

Being the 1970s, this is a glam but gloomy tale of the twisted world of Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning), the teen crooner of the iconic "Cherry Bomb".  This is Dakota’s all-grown-up movie. She nails the role as a drugged-out underage sex kitten, so it is no surprise at times she looks a touch like Lindsay Lohan after a night out.

Everywhere you turn, the media has Kristen Stewart’s long face staring out at you. It’s hard to see her as anyone but her Twilight character Bella Swan. At time, it felt like Kristen was channelling Shane from The L Word more than Joan Jett.

What makes this movie so watchable is the story mix: part of coming of age, part biopic of the birth of a music legend. It has all the elements of the fabled of rock and roll rites of passage: hitting the road in a beat up car, no cash, seedy hotel rooms, roadies and a fist full of drugs and alcohol. Through the 70s grainy style cinematography you are transported back to a time when glam rock and punk crashed to earth.

LA svengali band manager/producer Kim Fowley, a played with a delusional drug haze so thick you could snort it by Michael Shannon, should not be left near children. In that, this is a sad tale of how dysfunctional family life is a gateway to a wasted adulthood. After initial fame and a mind blowing tour of Japan the band imploded, leaving Currie to fall into a spiral of drug addiction whilst Joan went on to create The Blackhearts and hits such as “Crimson and Clover” and "I Love Rock 'N' Roll". Bassist Micki Steele joined The Bangles in the early 1980s and went on to huge success with songs "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Eternal Flame".

The supporting cast is a powerful ensemble of hot young actresses. Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat strangely doesn’t say a word unlike firecracker Scout Taylor-Compton, who lets fly with a great verbal assault as the band disintegrates. Rock and roll royalty Riley Keough and former wild child Tatum O’Neill form the eroding Currie family, and if life imitates art (or vice versa) these actresses don’t have to reach very far to understand the fucked-up-family syndrome.

OK, so don’t take the kiddie fans of Dakota and Kristen to this unless they need a life lesson in pitfalls of seeking fame. You’ll leave wishing you could live a little larger and love rock ‘n roll all over again with all the trash-bags sex and sin that is so alluring.

As Fowley says... “You’re a singer, that’s what you do – sing and strut around in your underwear.”


S&TC 2 Premiere

Sex & The City 2 slammed onto the world stage last night at Radio City Music Hall, and of course, was there to capture the action! Our team got front and center for Liza's arrival, and you can see the glam - she is such a legend!

Ross Matthews from the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, also had the honour of being knighted as the "male Carrie Bradshaw" by SJP herself! check out the video below... more photos from the premiere will be in our photo galleries!


Twilight to get it's Gay on

Openly gay director Bill Condon is on the shortlist to direct the newest installment of the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn. Breaking Dawn is the fourth book in Stephanie Meyer’s  Twilight series. Each Twilight film has had a different director, Catherine Hardwicke, Chris Weitz and David Slade respectively.

Condon has directed gay hits such as “Dreamgirls” and “Kinsey.” He also directed “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh” which scared the heck out of me when I was 11. Yes, I did say Candyman in the mirror, in the dark three times. Spoiler alert: I lived the tell the tale.

Other directors on the shortlist are Stephen Daldry (who also directed some great gay movies, The Hours and Billy Elliot), Sofia Coppola and Gus Van Sant. Condon has some touch competition, but the word is that he is the closest to sealing the deal. Maybe the next Twilight film will have appeal for LGBT youth as well as fans of emo teen vamp wannabees. We live in hope.


A Single Man

This movie I walked in with no expectations, having never heard of the book and only having a slight interest in all things Tom Ford.

The movie has a slow start, I was hoping that this wouldn't be a movie you would see in some cheap second hand theatre that only plays ABC type movies but I now see that was needed to capture the reality of the storyline.

Once momentum picked up this movie had me hooked, not only were there moments of light heartiness, passion and a need most gay men want to feel in life, A sense of belonging and a need to be wanted. I left feeling this is a movie everyone should see, just to experience life through this characters eyes. Tom Ford has done a sensational job bringing this to screen the use of coloring throughout gave an extra dimension to the story.

Colin Firth was exceptional in this role, Julianne Moore stunning and Nicholas Hoult to die for.

I give this 4 out of 5


Bran Nue Day

This joyous celebration of love and discovery, Bran Nue Dae brings the best of Australia’s young Indigenous talent to the screen.  In his performing début, Rocky McKenzie is young Willie, a God and mother fearing fella in the pearling port of Broome.  Its 1969, Willie is smitten with his girl Rosie (Jessica Mauboy) but the summer is closing and Willie’s return to a religious boarding school in Perth looms like doomsday.

Handsome love rival Lester (played by swooning real life musician and Deadly Award winner Dan Sultan) rocks and rolls his way into Rosie’s heart with all the smooth moves of a more experienced player. Poor Willie appears to be punching above his weight dreaming of a life with the beautiful song bird Rosie.

At the purgatory confines of school Willie struggles with his longing for Rosie and embark on an AWOL 2,500 kilometer road trip back home that becomes a comical caravan of catastrophes. Geoffrey Rush is evil as the obsessively flawed Father Benedictus perfectly counterbalanced by Ernie Dingo’s laid back Uncle Tadpole.

The burning red sand of the outback is a home to the delectable desert sex-pots  Roxanne (Deborah Mailman) and Roadhouse Betty (Magda Szubanski ), who try their flirty best to turn the red dust into red-light  along the road to Broome.  

Watching this adaptation of Jimmy Chi groundbreaking 1990 stage musical, you can’t help but draw similarities with other feel good Aussie Musicals. Bran Nue Dae splices into its bubble gum musical veneer a lesson about discrimination and subjugation, just as Priscilla Queen of the Desert bitch slapped homophobia and Strictly Ballroom taught us to love the underdog.

Bangarra’s Stephen Page delivers dance sequences that show his acclaimed talent in fusing traditional aboriginal dance and contemporary style to colourfully support the original stage play music by Knuckles.

A true celebration of Australian’s entertainers, director Rachel Perkins took risks in bringing so many untested acting talents to the screen. Pop princesses Missy Higgins and Jessica Mauboy bring such natural joy to the film you want to reach out and hug them.  All the actors tested their chops, singing the political but wickedly funny songs.  At times the acting is a touch ham, but hello! It’s a musical!

In cinemas nationally from January 14 2010


SAG Nominess Announced

The nominees for the 2010 Sag Awards were announced this morning at a press conference in Los Angeles by Chris O'Donnell and Michelle Monaghan. The Sag Awards Ceremony will air live in the USA on Saturday, January. 23, 2010.

The SAG nominees are:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Jeff Bridges, 'Crazy Heart'
George Clooney, 'Up In The Air'
Colin Firth, 'A Single Man'
Morgan Freeman, 'Invictus'
Jeremy Renner, 'The Hurt Locker'

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Sandra Bullock, 'The Blind Side'
Helen Mirren, 'The Last Station'
Carey Mulligan, 'An Education'
Gabourey Sidibe, 'Precious: Based On The Novel 'Push' By Sapphire'
Meryl Streep 'Julie & Julia'

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Matt Damon, 'Invictus'
Woody Harrelson, 'The Messenger'
Christopher Plummer, 'The Last Station'
Stanley Tucci, 'The Lovely Bones'
Christoph Waltz, 'Inglourious Basterds'

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Penelope Cruz, 'Nine'
Vera Farmiga, 'Up In The Air'
Anna Kendrick, 'Up In The Air'
Diane Kruger, 'Inglourious Basterds'
Mo'Nique, 'Precious: Based On The Novel 'Push' By Sapphire'

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
'An Education'
'The Hurt Locker'
'Inglourious Basterds'
'Precious: Based On The Novel 'Push' By Sapphire'

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
'The Closer'
'The Good Wife'
'Mad Men'
'True Blood'

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
'30 Rock'
'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
'Modern Family'
'The Office'

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Simon Baker, 'The Mentalist'
Bryan Cranston, 'Breaking Bad'
Michael C. Hall, 'Dexter'
Jon Hamm, 'Mad Men'
Hugh Laurie, 'House'

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actress in a Drama Series
Patricia Arquette, 'Medium'
Glenn Close, 'Damages'
Mariska Hargitay, 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'
Holly Hunter, 'Saving Grace'
Julianna Margulies, 'The Good Wife'
Kyra Sedgwick, 'The Closer'

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, '30 Rock'
Steve Carell, 'The Office'
Larry David, 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
Tony Shalhoub, 'Monk'
Charlie Sheen, 'Two and a Half Men'

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actress in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate, 'Samantha Who?'
Toni Collette, 'The United States of Tara'
Edie Falco, 'Nurse Jackie'
Tina Fey, '30 Rock'
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, 'The New Adventures of Old Christine'

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Kevin Bacon, 'Taking Chance'
Cuba Gooding, Jr., 'Gifted Hands'
Jeremy Irons, 'Georgia O'Keefe'
Kevin Kline, 'Great Performances: Cyrano de Bergerac'
Tom Wilkinson, 'A Number'

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actress in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Joan Allen, 'Georgia O'Keefe'
Drew Barrymore, 'Grey Gardens'
Ruby Dee, 'America'
Jessica Lange, 'Grey Gardens'
Sigourney Weaver, 'Prayers for Bobby'


Precious: not for the feint hearted

Heading off to see a movie starring Mariah Carey and produced by Oprah Winfrey , I was expecting guest appearances by Hello Kitty and to walk away with a car or holiday gift from the Queen of giving. I was wrong. There is no fairy tale ending here.  “Precious” is a warts and all adaption of the novel “Push” by lesbian poet Sapphire.

Lee Daniels, director of Oscar winner "Monster's Ball," tells a harrowing tale of brutal, sadistic abuse in the slums of Harlem in 1987. This is not a pretty film. Mo'Nique plays a loathsome matriarch filled with sloth in a dilapidated world of missing morals and hope. In her acting début, Gabourey Sidibe portrays her abused daughter, Claireece “Precious” Jones.  As a ghetto teenager, she is starved of love and affection. Filled with self loathing, stuck in an absolutely appalling life, her only relief is to daydream.

Daniels once again demonstrates his unique skill in left of field casting and squeezing outstanding performances from his actors. Precious is offered hope and comfort by concerned, but not that likeable social worker (Carey) and a caring nurse’s aide (Lenny Kravitz) who shows her unconditional kindness. Paula Pattern (Déjà Vu, Swing Vote) is the teacher who pushes precious to stop her self-loathing and break the binds of illiteracy.

“Precious” premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and the 2009 Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews and oodles of awards have followed. This story of physical and mental abuse, the helplessness of the lives of black Americans living in a perpetual cycle of welfare poverty open’s the audience’s eyes to the sorry state of the disadvantages in America.  I came away feeling drained from traipsing through the lower depths of human behaviour rather than uplifted by the theme of self improvement.  This is a thinking movie and not suitable for a date night out!


Editors Note: Precious is in Cinemas in Australia February 2010.


DIGISPAA Film Finalists Announced

The Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) is proud to announce the finalists for the 2009 DigiSPAA Feature Film Competition sponsored by Movie Network Channels:

  • Braille, produced by Luke Graham (Newtown, NSW)
  • Family Demons, produced by Sue Brown (Brompton, SA)
  • Girl Clock, produced and directed by Jennifer Ussi (Woolloongabba, QLD)
  • Missing Water, produced and directed by Khoa Do (Drummoyne, NSW)

“This year’s competition received 20 privately financed micro budget feature films which, given the difficult economic conditions experienced over the last year, is a credit to the resilience of up-coming film producers from Australia and New Zealand” says Antony I. Ginnane, SPAA president and co-founder of DigiSPAA.

"The future of the feature film industry in Australia will remain secure as long as this level of drive, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial talent continues to emerge" Ginnane adds.

“I was extremely impressed with the quality, diversity and the amazing talent from the 2009 DigiSPAA entrants. Each one of the finalists represents a distinct genre, romantic comedy, horror thriller, crime and serious drama. It is gratifying to see filmmakers producing such good work outside of the normal funding process,” says Daniel Scharf, DigiSPAA Co-ordinator and judge.

Braille, produced by Luke Graham and directed by Matthew Chuang, is essentially a heist film, about three young thieves who have a chance encounter with an elderly blind thief who tells them of a blood diamond he hid in his prison cell.  Based loosely on the French New Wave film Le Cercle Rouge, Braille embodies themes of honour, loyalty and tragedy.

Produced by Sue Brown and directed by Ursula Dabrowsky, Family Demons, is a psychological horror film about an abused teenage girl who murders her alcoholic mother and thereafter is haunted by her mother’s vengeful spirit.

Family Demons had its World Premiere at ‘A Night of Horror International Film Festival’ in Sydney in April 2009, and has also previewed at the ‘Bram Stoker International Film Festival’ in UK in October 2009.

Girl Clock, produced and directed by Jennifer Ussi, is a heart-warming, coming-of-(middle)age comedy, which follows the journey of three women in their 40’s who take on the might of Mother Nature with hilarious results.  A sneak preview of the film screened at the Dungog Film Festival in May 2009, receiving an overwhelming response. A preview will screen at the Gold Coast Film Fantastic Festival in November 2009 and as part of the La Femme Festival in Los Angeles in October 2009.

Missing Water, produced and directed by Khoa Do, follows the journey of four refugees fleeing Vietnam in 1980.  Both innovative and daring, Missing Water is the first feature film made in Australia with an entire cast of Vietnamese-Australians. The film’s release in 2010 is timely, coinciding with the 35th anniversary of the arrival of the first Vietnamese refugees in Australia.

The finalists will be screened at this year’s SPAA Fringe conference on 16 and 17 October at Foxtel Television Centre, North Ryde, and judged by an expert industry panel including Antony I. Ginnane, President of SPAA and IFM World Releasing Inc.; Geoff Brown, Executive Director SPAA; Daniel Scharf, Producer of Geoffrey Wright's AFI Award-winning Romper Stomper; Colleen Meldrum, Program Director, Movie Network Channels and Stacey Edmonds, Producer/Director of I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer.

The Grand Prize winner will be announced at the annual SPAA Conference on 20 November. The winner receives the 2009 SPAARTAN Award and $15,000 cash, $20,000 worth of post-production, a guaranteed screening of their film on the Movie Extra channel, plus a return airfare and free registration to the prestigious CineMart International Film Festival Rotterdam.

DigiSPAA is a creative project of the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) an industry body that represents Australian independent film and television producers on all issues affecting the business and creative aspects of screen production.


I Really Hate My Job

Have you ever been stuck in a rut watching your dreams evaporate? 

Trudged through a menial job far too long, telling yourself your luck is going to turn? 

I Really Hate My Job is Australia screen writer Jennifer Higgie’s comic tale of five women working in the claustrophobic confines of a Soho basement cafe. Inside this wasteland for creativity, frustrations are vented, wine aided ideologies extolled and petty arguments are played out as each person tries to console themselves that working here in “this place” is a justifiable means to their artistic ends. 
What they do achieve is a sense of female camaraderie and a sounding board for their crazy dreams and neurotic philosophies.

There is no argument that this is a 100% chick flick, with an all female international ensemble cast. Shirley Henderson from Trainspotting is brilliant as an on the edge of neurosis kitchen hand and unpublished author tormented by a communist lovelorn dishwasher. Sarcastic waitress and aspiring actress Abi, played by Neve Campbell, is facing a black hole of financial and career gloom. Tonight she just really doesn’t care anymore, much to the chagrin of the passive/aggressive café manger Madonna (Anna Maxwell Martin of BBC’s Bleak House). 

Ever upbeat art student Suzie (Romanian actress Alexandra Maria Lara) has great comic timing and drifts through her shift spending more time offering word of wisdom than table service. She is the optimistic glue for this fractured group of women. 

For a low budget film, the acting and writing are stand outs with the complex characters played out at a pace that keeps you involved. If you like films that are dialog based and give you the experience of seeing a play, then I Really Hate My Job is a great pick. 

Dendy Newtown from July 2.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Wolverine is Hugh Jackman’s second foray into mainstream film production and with a cinema full of celebrity movie buffs (Margaret and David were in the front row!) It felt like everyone was interested in the result.  

The movie traces Wolverine’s life from the childhood awakening of his powers in the 1850’s & his life from war to war alongside his brother Creed (Sabertooth, played by US born Liev Schreiber). The relationship becomes more uneasy as Creed’s blood lust becomes more obvious. This finally causes Logan to split from an elite squad of Mutants recruited by the military – moving to a quieter life in the Canadian Rockies with his girlfriend played by Lynn Collins.

Skipping part of the story as it would give too much away… Wolverine agrees to be injected with Adamantium to gain revenge … and through several plot twists ends up at a laboratory where mutants are being used – ending up with more spectacular fighting & introduction briefly towards the end of a key character from the X-men movies.  

We see few other of the future X men characters, most just briefly as children; apart from Wolverine, Sabretooth and Cyclops (played by NIDA graduate & Sydney born Tim Pocock – Previously more familiar as a Tenor in The Australian Opera). I suspect they are holding back on these characters for future “X Men Origins”.

There are plenty of new characters though, including Bolt, with power over electricity (pardon the pun!) played by Dominic Monaghan (Merry from LOTR); Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) with control of playing cards and some crazy trick with a stick; and Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) with a nifty flick of the sword wrist (and who turns up later as XI, but played by Scott Adkins).

A criticism is lack of clarity in just some of the landscape shots (a waterfall fly by looks distinctly fuzzy), but this is not the case in the action shots, maybe this is just a grading issue with one part.  The action sequences however are excellent,  & some details are better than the original X men films such as Wolverine’s blades & the way they emerge from his hands. How this occurs is shown & also the original form they took before Adamantium merged with his skeleton.

We also of course get just as much detail of Hugh’s muscular body that he has worked so hard to harden up! According to interviews he was eating massive amounts from before dawn (mostly chicken apparently); as well as working out 6 days a week, listening to hard rock music and yelling like wolverine while doing it. I really have to speak to my trainer…. I knew I was doing something wrong!

Oddly, again there is a nod to Star Wars (as there was in Star Trek) – the goading of Luke by The Emperor in Return of the Jedi immediately came to mind during one piece of dialogue.

Overall this is a solid start to a franchise and worth going to see, even if just for the action sequences. The 100+ years of war sequences are sped through during credits & What thereafter starts slowly builds to an exciting last half, perhaps dulled a little as we know that the two main leads appear in the chronologically later X men movies, although their interactions are more important than that one issue. The formation of Wolverine’s character is very well handled by Hugh and bodes well for future films.

By the way, don’t stand up as soon as the credits start…. and stay to the end of them – there are two last bits that you’d miss if you weren’t a movie reviewer; and finally the best line of the movie…..“Ooh, Shiny!”

Release date in Australia 30th April 2009 – limited release on 28th.
Directed by Gavin Hood (previous work: Rendition in 2007)      

Full cast and credits:



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