Archive | July, 2012

The beginning of the warm days: GLARE

24 Jul

Getting very excited about new productions! Been going through my older films as well as footage from things that never came about. Feeling very ready for new ventures at the moment.

I think perhaps it’s the weather. This week the sun was out and I could feel a renewed energy in everyone around me. I saw the first flower on a jasmine bush, which proves spring is just around the corner.

Here is a short short film I did in January, back when it was hot and clammy. Looking forward to those days again!

Would love to hear any thoughts!

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Aussie Film Week: THE KING IS DEAD and NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

23 Jul

So you may have noticed that for about a month now Lisa has been a lone blogger (ha). That’s because I’ve been insanely busy working as a Production Manager on a short film. It’s about a Melbourne Taxi Driver and called ‘By The Minute’. It was a very interesting and sometimes (especially at 4am) a very hard experience. But it has definitely inspired me to go back to short film making! I have written a script for a short called ‘Motel’ which I plan to shoot over the summer- very exciting!! I’ll keep updates on the process.

After the shoot was finished all I wanted to do was sleep, go to work and watch movies. Which is exactly what I’ve been doing! This week I saw two new Australian films, which isn’t a very common occurrence (they are usually few and far between). The first I saw with my friend Joe was the new feature from Rolf de Heer (The Tracker, Bad Boy Bubby…). I really enjoyed the majority of the film. It’s about a couple who moves into a new house to find that they have drug dealing, robbing, all night partying neighbours next door. What I liked about this film was the relationship of the couple. They are very straight-laced and pride themselves on being intelligent and ‘open-minded’. Two things that work against them in this scenario. They begin that reason will not work in their favour and the only way to change things is to force the neighbours out. Their means of doing this goes from ridiculous to down-right scary when they eventually decide to break into the neighbours house.

I have a great love for films that switch genre halfway through. This film plods slowly along as a comedy and then turns on it’s head and almost becomes a thriller. What really annoyed me though is when the thriller element is undercut and they try and turn it back into a comedy. Things have become violent and creepy and the comedy just feels forced and brutal. The other thing that annoyed me was that god damn horn music. Stop with the horns!!!

Not Suitable For Children surprised me. To be honest I didn’t really want to see it. I hated the poster so much I thought the film would probably be just as stupid and the trailer made Ryan Kwantan look like a dumb-arse. But I had a few hours to kill after work and it slotted in perfectly so I decided to give it a go. And it was great! Really fun and a bit silly and Ryan Kwantan turns out to be a babe after all. Plus Sarah Snook is a real Emma Stone lookalike- and I love Emma Stone! I liked that they didn’t try and make the end perfectly neat but you still left the film with a little smile. I think perhaps (finally) Australia has made a really good little romcom. First one since Paperback Hero (best!) in 1999.

 

PUBERTY BLUES (take two)

19 Jul

We’ve all read the book and seen the 80’s adaptation (and if you haven’t- WHY??). For many of us it was entangled in our own coming of age,  it was definitely much more informative than sex ed class.

I was very very shocked to see that Channel Ten are rebooting this Australian Classic. It could go terribly wrong but the casting looks great and the material is so good, maybe just maybe this might be something awesome. Maybe.

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed.

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The Amazing Spiderman: Unnecessary Remake or Better Than The Original

11 Jul

Well being a massive fan of the original, not the 2 sequels but the original 2002 Spiderman, I went to see the reboot ‘The Amazing Spiderman’. First off I want to point out that ‘The Amazing Spiderman” is a reboot not a prequel like some including Emma Stone have been saying. ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ is in fact another version of events for how Spiderman became Spiderman. Now why we need a new origin story just 10 years after the old one, is a question that has caused much debate.

With a budget of 230 million, perhaps other stories that have had less exposure that 3 films could be put on the screen. In fact given that amount of money 10 films could have been made. But putting that aside, if I hadn’t seen the original Spider man less that 10 years ago I would have little to critique about this excellent film. If Hollywood had of waited just another 10 years I wouldn’t be forced to make constant comparisons but unfortunately given the timing it’s impossible not to.

So let the comparisons begin. Andrew Garfield was an unexpected choice but I am in love, the description hot nerd, suits this guy down to the ground and he has a cheeky smile to die for. Before this film I thought the pairing of him and Emma Stone in real life was a little odd and frankly that she could do better but now I am completely on board, in fact I’m even a little jealous. As Peter Parker he is dripping with charisma and bring a sense of pathos and recklessness to the role that the previous Spiderman lacked.

While the pairing of Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire was sexy and deliciously cheesy, the relationship between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone feels like a deeper connection particularly as the script smartly did away with all that secret identity crap which got super irritating in the original Spiderman films. This was a masterful in my opinion because given the spate of comic films, the secret identity dilemma has been done to dead and as a reason to keep couples apart really lacks power.

The obstacle keeping love birds apart in this film feels much more real and properly heart breaking rather than just an irritating plot device. Also adding to this the appeal of Gwen Stacy, a character with obvious smarts and guts plus a love of incredibly sexy socks, its seems that Spiderman has traded up from that dumb actress Mary Jane Watson. As other critics have noted it is really the acting and chemistry between these two stars that powers this film and makes it a really enjoyable experience.

Where this film is decidedly lacking is in a real nemesis, perhaps because in the journey of becoming Spiderman, Peter Parker’s biggest enemy is really himself. Angry about his father then about his transformation and then about the death of his beloved uncle Ben, Parker is a adolescent hurricane of destruction. If this had been given a bit more emphasis like the  inner turmoil of  ‘Batman Begins’ it would have better stood it apart from the original Spiderman. I do think this is what the writers were trying to do but i don’t think they went far enough.

As it stands Spiderman spends the film either chasing after the nameless thief who killed his uncle or Curt Connor’s The Lizard who seems too intellectually stupid and emotionally weak to really be a threat. Also his similarity to Godzilla really didn’t help in a film that already had more comparisons than it could handle.  A crush and destroy villain is very limited story wise and I found myself growing quite bored of his Lizard ways.In comparison Doctor Octopus from ‘Spiderman 2’ was a much more formidable opponent.

Overall I would say that this film is better than the original in many ways but also an unnecessary remake. If only those money grubbing movies execs had waited, they would have had a sure fire winner on their hands. But because they didn’t one can’t help but feel like they are rehashing.

The Fairytale Adaptation: Once Upon A Time, Snow White and the Huntsman and Beastly!

9 Jul

The fairytale adaptation is box office bread and butter, the copyright is free, everyone knows the story and add a touch of reinvention and you’ve got a sure fire hit. ‘Shrek anyone?’ But as the newest crop of fairy tales show, getting it right takes a little more skill that one might originally think.

Firstly lets start with the best and brightest, ‘Once Upon A Time’. Premiering in September of 2011, ‘Once Upon A Time’ was one of 2012 ratings season’s big draws. From the creators of Lost Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, ‘Once Upon A Time’ tells of a terrible curse that takes away the happy endings and traps all our fairytale heroes the town of Storybrook, a magical cage from which they can never leave. But before the spell was cast by the evil Queen, Snow White and Prince Charming sent their only daughter Emma across the worlds in a magical wardrobe, believing in the prediction that on her 28th year she would return to Storybrook and break the curse.

I have to admit, I didn’t get into ‘Once Upon A Time’ at first. I watched the first 2 episodes, essentially the pilot and concept and back-story was so complicated and the characters so simply drawn that I gave up. The biggest problem with this show is that it’s so high-concept  it takes too much time explaining everything beginning and fun of the fairy tales takes a couple of episodes to materialize.

But after a good friend recommended I stick with the show I decided to give it another go and boy was I pleased I did. Once the massive back story of the pilot was over, ‘Once Upon A Time’ was free to indulge in the details and it was in that, that it shined. Tackling and reinventing a different fairytale every week, Once Upon A Time weaves a beautiful web interlinking characters and stories seamlessly within the tales of Snow White, Red Hiding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast, just to name a few.

The reinventions are fresh and new and no mythical story is off limits, fantastically the show doesn’t just stick to the classics weaving more modern stories like ‘Alice In Wonderland’ and ‘The Lion, The Witch and Wardrobe’, in as well. The storytelling possibilities are endless. Essentially ‘Once Upon A Time’ does for fairy tales what ‘Glee’ does for pop music.

‘Once Upon A Time’ characters are complex and flawed in their imagining and really allow us to see how our favorite fairytale characters might fair in the modern world. Snow White is pure and good but can be tempted by love, Rumpelstiltskin evil and conniving but still has a heart. And what is really special about ‘Once Upon A Time’ is it’s ability to allow each character to participate and interact with every fairytale not just their own. Its like the ‘The Avengers’ only better written.

While difficult to process at first ‘Once Upon A Time’, is what every fairytale adaptation should be, fresh, deep and magical. It is my new bench mark by which all other adaptations should be measured.

So with that in mind lets move on to the movie of the moment ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’. First off a little tidbit, apparently Tom Hardy was originally asked to star as the Huntsman but turned it down. So sad, maybe if he was cast the sexual tension that was so desperately needed in this film, would of occurred, I mean, I would of been mesmerized at the very least, god Tom Hardy is hot.

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ is a visually beautiful film. The brilliant color of the good magic measured against the bleak darkness of the black magic is truly stunning. The scenes in the fairy lands personify this and really do make the film almost worth seeing despite it’s other faults.

Unfortunately what this film really suffers from is an average script combined with really bad acting. Charlize Theron’s evil queen is ridiculously over the top and in no way humorous and Kirsten Stewart’s annoying breathlessness ruins yet another film. All that girl seem to know how to do is struggle for air. Also I don’t believe her as a leader, the weakness with which she plays the character, makes it hard to fathom and all I can picture is Bella from Twilight. Awkwardly delivered her battle cry speech made me tired, particularly as she seems to be hiccuping all the way through it. So with the female leads letting this film down does the fabulously yummy Chris Hemsworth save it?

Well ladies all I can say is, he tried. His character was perhaps the most well rounded and best acted but his lack of passion for Stewart made his character seem a little one dimensional. Not that I blame him, yuck. The kiss that wakes up the princess seems a little forced and one can’t help but wonder why he bothered, he didn’t seem that into her, and to kiss a dead girl you really have to be in it.

And this is what really ruined this film for me, the lack of romance. A dark reinvention is great but romance is what the original is all about, if you get rid of that you lose the heart of the story. I left this film feeling depressed, disappointed and missing ‘Once Upon A Time’, I want my Prince Charming back.

Now the final adaptation and the least successful at least in the opinion of the critics is 2011’s ‘Beastly’. Strangely enough the film did make a profit raking in 28 million for 17 million dollar budget. ‘Beastly’ is of course a retelling of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Kyle played by Alex Pettyfer is the most popular guy in school with a hot body and great hair (I’ve seen better). He believes thanks in large part to his rich anchorman father that looks are what matter in life and he deserves the best thanks to his Adonis physique (again I’ve seen better).

But unfortunately Kyle makes the mistake of pissing off the school goth and possible witch Kendra, played by the hardly ugly Mary Kate Olsen. In return for his public humiliation Kendra casts a spell on Kyle to make him the very thing he hates ‘Ugly’ and if within a year he can’t find someone to love him he will stay that way forever. In walks Lindy played by Vanessa Hudgens a good girl from the wrong side of the tracks and Kyle falls in love but how could she ever love him back, he’s just too damn ugly. The problem with this adaptation is it’s a shallow one, in fact I think Disney’s Beauty and the Beast had more depth and I know the cartoon beast was hotter. They could have done so much more with ‘ugly’ in a modern context but instead they chose to stick with the extremely obvious.

While Kyle tries to get Lindy to love him, one can’t help but feel that pursuing a women for your own ends is a little self serving and the goal of being pretty again is pretty lame. If he had ultimately decided to sacrifice his chance to be beautiful again in order to help her, then he perhaps would have been more heroic. Also in this day and age keeping a women prisoner, even if she doesn’t know it just doesn’t sit right. Ultimately the story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ needs a massive re-imagining to work for a modern and largely feminist audience and this remake was simply too close to the original.

So there you have it, not as easy as it seems. In fact I would argue that adapting a fairytale for the modern audience is one of the toughest adaptations you can do, after all we all know the story of Snow White just as well if not better than we know ‘Harry Potter’ and we all want it done right. So bring on season 2 of ‘Once Upon A Time’.