Monthly Archives: October 2009

Mary And Max

Summary: A tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals: Mary, a lonely, eight-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max, a forty-four-year old, severely obese man living in New York.

Year: 2009

Australian Cinema Release Date: 9th April 2009

Australian DVD Release Date: October 2009

Country: Australia

Director: Adam Elliot

Screenwriter: Adam Elliot

Cast: Eric Bana (Damien (voice)), Toni Collette (Mary Daisy Dinkle (voice)), Renee Geyer (Vera (voice)), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Max Jerry Horovitz (voice)), Barry Humphries (Narrator (voice)), Michael Ienna (Lincoln (voice)), Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum (Homeless Man (voice)), Bethany Whitmore (Young Mary (voice)),

Runtime: 92 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR MARY AND MAX REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Way back in 2004 Adam Elliot won an Oscar for his short-animation ‘Harvie Krumpet’, so it is scary at just how far the marvelous ‘Mary And Max’ will go. ‘Mary And Max’ is one of the finest animation films to ever surface and leaves the critically acclaimed ‘Persepolis’ for dead.

Young Mary Daisy Dinkle (voiced by Bethany Whitmore) is a lonely young girl that has no friends, parents who don’t pay her enough attention and a poo-coloured birthmark on her forehead that results in her constantly getting teased. While her mother shoplifts in a Post Office one day, Mary decides to flick through a New York phone book to find someone she can write to in a bid to discover whether ‘American babies come from the same place as Australian babies… out of a beer glass’. She chooses Max Jerry Horovitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a man who is just as depressed as her, but is constantly startled by the questions she asks. Over time they both get older. Adult Mary (Toni Collette) goes to uni, marries Damian (Eric Bana) while Max continues to suffer and realises that he suffers from Aspergers Syndrome and battles with his obesity

What Adam Elliot has managed to create here is an absolute masterpiece of a film. This is no Pixar animation, it delves into some very dark areas of human life but always manages to have a laugh at hand that will actually get audience members to chuckle. The story holds up so well that you can only imagine just how well this film will do overseas. It will become an absolute smash hit amongst European cinemagoers and may even be the film that attracts Australian film goers back to actually paying to see an Australian film.

Elliot is a visionary director and he manages to capture shots that would normally be impossible in animated films. The scenery and Elliot’s eye-for-detail leave the audience in awe and even those who would normally avoid animated films will see the true beauty in ‘Mary And Max’.

Some may be surprised at the caliber of actors that Elliot has managed to get involved with ‘Mary And Max’. Certainly you wouldn’t normally expect for someone like Philip Seymour Hoffman to voice a character in an Australian animated film but it’s not hard to see that Hoffman would have read this script and fell in love with it straight away. The story found here has produced one of the best scripts that an actor could ever have fall into their laps.

Films as brilliant as ‘Mary And Max’ don’t come along very often. If I had to grade it out of ten I would give it one hundred.

 

Stars(5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(5)

 

IMDB Rating:  Mary and Max (2009) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Mary And Max reviews: This Mary And Max review first appeared in Buzz Magazine – October 2009.

Trailer:

Star Trek

 

Summary: The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father’s legacy with Commander Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful, time-traveling Romulan creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time.

Year: 2009

Australian Cinema Release Date: 7th May 2009

Australian DVD Release Date: October 2009

Country: United States, Germany

Director: J.J. Abrams

Screenwriter: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Gene Roddenberry (television series)

Cast: Rico E. Anderson (Captain Kelley Bogel), Eric Bana (Nero), Jimmy Bennett (Young James T. Kirk), Ben Binswagner (Admiral James Komack), John Cho (Sulu), Clifton Collins Jnr. (Ayel), Ben Cross (Sarek), Spencer Daniels (Johnny), Calvin Dean (Security Officer Daniels), Tony Elias (Officer Pitts), Amanda Foreman (Hannity), Bruce Greenwood (Pike), Tony Guma (Lew The Bartender), Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk), Brad William Henke (Uncle Frank), Jacob Kogan (Young Spock), Jennifer Morrison (Winona Kirk), Leonard Nemoy (Spock Prime), Rachel Nichols (Gaila), Jim Nieb (Sal), Simon Pegg (Scotty), Tyler Perry (Admiral Richard Barnett), Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Jonny Rees (Chief Engineer Olson), Winona Ryder (Amanda Grayson), Zoe Saldana (Ulhara), Faran Tahir (Captain Robau), Karl Urban (Bones), Jenna Vaughn (Baby Spock), Anton Yelchin (Chekov)

Runtime: 127 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR STAR TREK REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Despite the fact I’m a huge sci-fi fan I’ve never really been able to get into ‘Star Trek’ so it was with much trepidation that I went to see the new film. But I need not have worried as once again J.J. Abrams shows that he can make anything a great watch, and this time he makes ‘Star Trek’ accessible to those who have never seen one of the films or TV Shows… no mean feat.

This ‘Star Trek’ goes right back to the beginning as we see the birth of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) as the Star Fleet battles against a ruthless enemy, Nero (Eric Bana). While Kirk travels through troubled teenage years Nero continues on a mission of revenge.  This continues as Kirk is introduced to Spock (Zachary Quinto), Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and even though most of them don’t know what to make of him they are forced to trust him hen Nero comes across technology that allows him to destroy planets one by one.

Taking ‘Star Trek’ right back to the beginning is perhaps one of the smartest things J.J Abrams could do. By doing this even people who know nothing about the ‘Star Trek’ universe can get into the story and this could in turn breathe new life into the franchise. And while this seems to have ruffled a few feathers with older ‘Star Trek’ fans it works remarkably well in my eyes.

Story wise, like any Abrams film (and even Kurtzman scripts) ‘Star Trek’ works as it gives great emotional access to it’s characters while mixing drama with all the elements of a true big-budget action blockbuster. Characters like Kirk and Spock become well-rounded characters that genuinely draw emotion out of the audience… now how many sci-fi films can you say that about. The only weakness that can leave you a little disappointed is the fact that even though Bana is brilliant as Nero he just doesn’t get the screen time (or lines) that an actor of this caliber warrants. It does seem a waste of his talents.

If you are afraid of the ‘Star Trek’ brand don’t be… Abrams has done a wonderful job separating this from the past films and TV shows and you can watch this as an action sci-fi film that stands on it’s own two feet. This is a new beginning for ‘Star Trek’… a film that will keep any cinema lover in awe… and on the edge of their seat. This is ‘Star Trek’ for the new generation

 

Helium Review:

‘Star Wars’ fans don’t be too worried… you aren’t alone. See only a few years ago it was ‘Star Trek’ fans who heard that news that J.J. Abrams was going to bring life back into a franchise that was supposedly ‘stale’. The good news for ‘Star Wars’ fans is that Abrams didn’t exactly do some a bad job on ‘Star Trek’.

The best thing about Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ was he made it accessible for people that had never watched any of the previous films or television shows…. not only did Abrams breathe new life into the series but he also opened it up for a new legion of fans.

Abrams makes sure that ‘Star Trek’ goes right back to the beginning so far back that the audience actually sees the birth of James T Kirk (Chris Pine – Rise Of The Guardians, People Like Us) as the Star Fleet battles against a ruthless enemy, Nero (Eric Bana – Deadfall, Hanna).

While Kirk travels through is troubled teenage years (with a little bit of difficulty) Nero continues on a mission of revenge. This continues as Kirk is introduced to Spock (Zachary Quinto – Periods, Dog Eat Dog), Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban – Dredd, Priest), Hikaru Sulu (John Cho – Identity Thief, Total Recall), Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana – The Words, Colombiana) and Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin – The Pirates! Band Of Misfits, Fright Night) and even though most of them don’t know what to make of him they are forced to trust him when Nero comes across technology that allows him to destroy every planet one-by-one.

Many may have scoffed when they heard that Abrams was going to tackle ‘Star Trek’, it was like people had forgotten that he is no slouch when it comes to science-fiction… anybody remember ‘Cloverfield’ or even some of the better elements of ‘Lost’? Like he does whenever he tackles a project he takes the basic story and turns it into an action blockbuster.

Together with Alan Kurtzman (who also proved he can be creative with science-fiction with ‘Transformers’ and ‘The Island’) Abrams remembered to infuse some drama and suspense into ‘Star Trek’ but more importantly he turns characters like Kirk and Spock into well rounded three-dimensional characters… something that a lot of science-fiction writers and directors seem to forget to do.

It also seems like Abrams got the casting right with ‘Star Trek’. Chris Pine used the role of Kirk to reinvent his career and it certainly seemed to impress producers as not long later he was playing Captain America firstly in his own film and then in ‘The Avengers’. In fact the whole cast step up and while Simon Pegg gets to show off some style without going into full comedy mode, but you do have to feel sorry for Eric Bana, while he puts in a good effort he just isn’t given the screen time or lines to show what he is truly capable of. An actor of his calibre was simply wasted in the role of Nemo.

When it came to ‘Star Trek’ Abrams really opened up the franchise to a whole new generation (pun intended) and as a blockbuster it works amazingly well. If ‘Star Trek’ is anything to go by then maybe ‘Star Wars’ is in safe hands after all.

Buzz Magazine Review:

J.J. Abrams once again shows that he can make anything a great watch, and this time he makes ‘Star Trek’ accessible to those who have never seen one of the films or TV Shows… no mean feat.

This ‘Star Trek’ goes right back to the beginning as we see the birth of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) as the Star Fleet battles against a ruthless enemy, Nero (Eric Bana). While Kirk travels through troubled teenage years Nero continues on a mission of revenge.  This continues as Kirk is introduced to Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the Enterprise crew, although they don’t trust him. Will they trust him when they really need to?

Story wise, like any Abrams film ‘Star Trek’ works as it gives great emotional access to it’s characters while mixing drama with all the elements of a true big-budget action blockbuster. Characters like Kirk and Spock become well-rounded characters that genuinely draw emotion out of the audience… now how many sci-fi films can you say that about. The only weakness that can leave you a little disappointed is the fact that even though Bana is brilliant as Nero he just doesn’t get the screen time (or lines) that an actor of this caliber warrants. It does seem a waste of his talents.

This is a new beginning for ‘Star Trek’… a film that will keep any cinema lover in awe… and on the edge of their seat. This is ‘Star Trek’ for the new generation.

 

Stars(4)

 

 

 

Adam Ross:

Firstly, let me get my Star Trek credentials out of the way. I have never been invested in any incarnations of this franchise. I have only ever watched a handful of episodes of Next Generation and have seen one of the feature films (Star Trek 2: the Wrath of Khan), but I have seen the porn spoof Sex Trek: the Next Penetration if that counts for anything. So it pleases me to report that the new film from Director J.J. Abrams pulled me (a newbie) in like a Romulan tractor beam.

The film starts off with a with a hair-raising space battle and never loses momentum. It is immediately clear: this film has an epic scale.More surprising is the almost instant inclusion of heartfelt emotion. This is a movie that doesn’t sacrifice character for action.

Rebooting the franchise for a new generation has given Abrams’ the chance to populate his film with an exceptional cast. The two brightest lights are Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. Their natural chemistry injects the film with real heart, the rarest quality in the modern blockbuster. The rest of the cast is decorated with stars: Eric Bana, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and Karl Urban. Like all good team-based films, each member gets their chance to shine.  Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci keep the film moving at a fast pace and manage to establish real motivations for their characters. Their script is so good I almost forgive them for Transformers. Nah, those films are unforgivable.

As good as the cast is, the greatest aspect of this film is not its human element, but its representation of space. The visual effects are staggering, enveloping the audience in the vastness of the film’s universe. Abrams manages to achieve more with this one film than George-nobody-likes-me-Lucas could with his entire ‘Prequel Trilogy’. Disregard any prejudice you may have for the ‘Trek’ and jump on board, you will not regret it.

 

Stars(4)

 

 

Luke Marten:

 I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant about J.J. Abrams reboot of this franchise as i am a fairly hardcore Trekkie having watched all seasons of the tv shows and the previous films and have a big opinion on what a Star Trek film should be. Now that this is the highest grossing Star Trek film by a big margin, obviously it’s a big crowd pleaser, not like the previous installment Nemesis.

Straight away this film grabs the attention with an opening scene featuring a ship in peril and the birth of Kirk in space, without bringing a groan to the audience with once again, a time travel story. Nero (Bana), an angry Romulan from the distant future comes back through time to prevent the destruction of his homeworld. Upon arrival, he immediately destroys the ship containing Kirk’s parents, his father sacrificing himself to save his just born son. With this setup, Abrams has licence to give this Star Trek universe an alternate future to the one already established, thereby not completely trashing the memory of Gene Roddenberry’s vision. This Trek is darker, grittier, more intense and more action based.

The recasting of the original crew is inspired, especially Zachary Quinto as Spock. Chris Pine does an excellent job playing a different kind of Kirk. All major original cast have their moments to shine in this film Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, McCoy and Scotty.

 Because of the urgency placed on the mission to stop Nero in this film, there is a big rushed action feel. The big themes of Roddenberry’s Trek: Equality, Ethics, Evolution of Humanity, a character’s growth to be more human is completely missing from this film. It is just a big entertaining action explosion fest with the original crew characters thrown together on the same ship. It is missing all the elements that make Star Trek the important vision of the future that it is. An entertaining thrill ride it is, and a sequel is now inevitable, but it’s not the same Trek that Roddenberry strived for. While you go to see a movie primarily to be entertained, Star Trek should always make you think about what could be, and what humanity can achieve if it work’s together. I don’t think I want the direction of this new franchise to exclude this.

 Otherwise, anybody not seeing this just cause it’s Star Trek are missing out on a great film. It has a great plot, great characters and is thoroughly enjoyable to everyone as it doesn’t get bogged down in any technical jargon that would alienate the anti-scifi people. And you don’t need to know anything about any previous Trek as it is a reboot.

Stars(4)

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(4)

 

IMDB Rating:  Star Trek (2009) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Star Trek reviews: The Buzz Magazine Star Trek review first appeared in Buzz Magazine – October 2009.

Trailer:

Angels & Demons

Summary: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon works to solve a murder and prevent a terrorist act against the Vatican.

Year: 2009

Australian Cinema Release Date: 14th May 2009

Australian DVD Release Date: October 2009

Country: United States, Italy

Director: Ron Howard

Screenwriter: David Koepp, Akiva Goldsman, Dan Brown (novel)

Cast: Victor Alfieri (Lieutenant Valenti), Franklin Amobi (Cardinal Lamasse), Carmen Argenziano (Father Silvano Bentivoglio), Elya Baskin (Cardinal Petrov), Gino Conforti (Cardinal Pugini), Pierfrancesco Favino (Inspector Olivetti), Marc Fiorini (Cardinal Baggia), Jonas Fisch (Adrian Bachman), Steve Franken (Cardinal Colbert), Cosimo Fusco (Father Simeon), Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Rance Howard (Cardinal Beck), Thure Lindhardt (Chartrand), Curt Lowens (Cardinal Ebner), Ewan McGregor (Camerlengo Patrick McKenna), Thomas Morris (Urs Weber), Armin Mueller-Stahl (Cardinal Strauss), Howard Mungo (Cardinal Yoruba), Xavier J. Nathan (Philippe), David Pasquesi (Claudio Vincenzi), Stellan Skarsgard (Commander Richter), Bob Yerkes (Cardinal Guidera), Ayelet Zurer (Vittoria Vetra)

Runtime: 138 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR ANGELS & DEMONS REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

Despite generating far less hype than it’s predecessor ‘Angels & Demons’ is actually a far superior to ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and shows that when given enough time Director, Ron Howard can create a wonderful film based on Dan Brown’s work.

Despite the novel ‘Angels And Demons’ being set before ‘The Da Vinci Code’ the film actually takes place after the initial story and this time finds Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) summoned to Vatican City by Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) who has proxy-control of the Catholic Church after the death of the current Pope. Once at the Vatican McKenna tells Langdon that the Vatican is under a terrorist threat from an old enemy… The Illuminati.

My biggest criticism of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ was that the end result suffered from the fact that the production of the film was rushed in order to release it while the novel’s popularity was still at its peak. Luckily this isn’t the case with ‘Angels & Demons’. The experienced screen writing team of David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman have managed to turn the novel into a smart thriller that does actually keep the audience guessing and at times on the edge of their seats.

‘Angels And Demons’ does have a few ‘James Bond-how-could-you-possibly-manage-to-do-that?’ but overall works well. It leaves you constantly guessing (and more importantly actually caring) what happens next, is well written and beautifully captured. Easily better than ‘The Da Vinci Code’.

 

Stars(3)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3)

 

IMDB Rating:  Angels & Demons (2009) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Angels & Demons reviews: This Angels & Demons review first appeared in Buzz Magazine – October 2009.

Trailer:

Disgrace

Summary: After having an affair with a student, a Cape Town professor moves to the Eastern Cape, where he gets caught up in a mess of post-apartheid politics.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 18th June 2009

Australian DVD Release Date: October 2009

Country: Australia, South Africa

Director: Steve Jacobs

Screenwriter: Anna Marie Monticelli, J.M. Coetzee (novel)

Cast: Paula Arundell (Dr. Farodia Rassool), Natalie Becker (Soraya), Terence Bridgett (Sidney), Amy Brittow (Desiree Issacs), Isabella de Viliers (Mrs. Cundell), David Dennis (Mr. Isaacs), Buyami Duma (Pollux), Eriq Ebouaney (Petrus), Antoinette Engel (Melanie Issacs),Antonio Fisher (Sidney),  Jessica Haines (Lucy Lurie), Anne Looby (Rosalind), John Malcovich (Professor David Lurie), Cindy Mkaza(Mrs. Mbeti), Denise Newman (Mrs. Isaacs), Fiona Press (Bev Shaw), Barry Quin (Desmond Swarts), Monroe Reimers (Hakim), Michael Richard (Bill Shaw), David Ritchie (Manas Mathbane), Ian Roberts (Ettinger), Ntobeko Rwanda (Orator), Eve Szapira (Mrs. Cundell), Charles Tertiens (Ryan)

Runtime: 119 mins

Classification: M

 

OUR DISGRACE REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

It’s a major scoop to get an actor with the skills of John Malkovich to star in an Australian funded film, it’s an added bonus that the film turns out as good as ‘Disgrace’ has.

Based on JM Coetzee’s novel ‘Disgrace’ tells the story of Cape Town university lecturer, David Lurie (John Malkovich). who has a sexual relationship with one of his students. David is forced to resign and decides to head to his daughter Lucy’s (Jessica Haines) farm. In the middle of post-apartheid South Africa she is trying to farm-share with a South African native, Petrus (Eriq Ebouaney), a man who David straight away doesn’t trust. Lucy and David’s relationship is strained, can they rely on each other when they really need to.

Australian director, Steve Jacobs does an amazing job on a film that can be confronting and awkward for the audience to the watch. He does an amazing job in protecting the audience from some of the more violent scenes but not losing any of the emotion generated from these events… a lot of directors wouldn’t have the skill to pull such an amazing feat off.

As you would expect Malkovich is at the top of his game and manages to make what most people would consider an ‘unlikeable’ character one where you are actually concerned what happens him. He is well supported by Jessica Haines who plays an extremely difficult role to perfection.

‘Disrace’ may not be a comfortable watch but it is well worth the effort.

Stars(4)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(4)

 

IMDB Rating:  Disgrace (2008) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Disgrace reviews: This Disgrace review first appeared in Buzz Magazine – October 2009.

Trailer:

Victor Stranges

When you listen to Victor Stranges’s brilliant new album ‘Hello Me To You’ you get the feeling that he is what is best described as ‘musically educated’ so it’s hardly surprising when I ask him who his influences are he answers ‘Any writer that has added to the richness of the popular song form is what is most exciting about music to me. People like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Brian Wilson, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Larry Norman and Ray Davies. I know some of these writers have been thrashed on radio and various media over the years but they have truly made a difference in my opinion.’

Aside from this wonderful release Victor also plays live with Victor Stranges & The Methinks, so what does he play and who are The Methinks? ‘I play a few instruments. I have played drums for many years and I play rhythm/lead guitar (main emphasis on rhythm!). In the last 2 or 3 years I have taught myself piano and I have found it useful for writing too. I also play bass. The band is a four piece, made up of Darren Aquilina on drums, Alex Reoch on bass, Matt Swanton on keyboards/backing vocals/guitar and myself on guitar and lead vocals. The band is a live project but will possibly record together in the near future. ‘

With such an interesting name I couldn’t help but ask where the name The Methinks came from. ‘I’d like to have an interesting story about the origins of our name but methinks it just popped in my head. The band has had a couple of incarnations over the years. We were a three piece in the late 1990s and we called it a day in about 2002 when we released our first album, Heading Back To You. The new line up occurred in 2008 when I was recording a new album at my home studio. I figured I wanted to play these songs live so I contacted Matt who played with me in a retro rock ‘n’ roll band a couple of years earlier. It sort of developed from there. Matt co wrote one track on the album and played on one or two tracks. I met Alex through a Melband ad and we had a lot of musical common ground. He is English so we loved the same bands like The Smiths, Pretenders, a lot of unknown U.K. bands from the late 1970s. Darren was the last piece. I hadn’t seen him for a few years but I twisted his arm and he was back in.

There is no way I could put Victor’s beautiful sound into words so I let him describe his sound. ‘We are a rock band with some heavy leanings towards a late 1970s/early 1980s sound. Lots of classic guitar sounds, piano, organs and the occasional cheesy synth. We love to use harmonies where we can. I grew up eating the Elvis Costello Singing Dictionary (both volumes) for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I suppose we invest a lot of emotion in the songs whether they are slow or fast.

If you want to check out where Victor Stranges & The Methinks are playing next so you can grab a copy of this great album, make sure you check out www.myspace.com/victorstranges.

***This Victor Stranges interview first appeared in Buzz Magazine October 2009***