Category: Film and TV Articles

 

They say that the lights never go out in Hollywood. Well if they aren’t fully out at the moment then they are certainly very, very dim. As the Covid-19 virus goes on its deadly wave right across the planet Hollywood and the world’s film industry has become one of its biggest victims.

Right now as i write this this most of the world’s cinemas are in darkness – the projectors have stopped and the doors are closed. In Thailand cinemas are closed until April 1st while in America the cinemas are closed indefinitely. In Australia the cinema chains desperately tried to keep the doors open, but finally the week came where only one new film opened in cinemas and as people had started to fear going out in public the film was playing to empty cinemas. When you consider that film was The Current War starring the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon and Tom Holland the fact it wasn’t drawing an audience just went to show how afraid people really were. Luckily the nation’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the decision for the cinema bosses when he included cinemas in the list of non-essential services that had to close as the nation went into a Stage One lockdown.

For the rest of the world the first inkling that Covid-19 was going to hit the cinema industry hard was when Sony Pictures made the announcement that they were postponing the release date of the latest Bond film No Time To Die. Sony, it seemed made the right call especially after we all saw the hit that the much-hyped Bloodshot starring Vin Diesel took upon its released. Its studio decided to brave the Covid affected cinema numbers and released the film amidst the chaos – the result was taking just nine million dollars at the box office in its first week of release in the USA. Desperate not to see the same fate happen to Diesel’s other blockbuster – Fast & Furious 9 – its studio decided to push its release back to 2021.

Some companies decided to get creative. Realising that they were going to have a captive housebound audience for potentially the next few months Universal Pictures have decided to chance its arm and in some territories has released potential blockbusters The Invisible Man and Trolls World Tour onto streaming services. It now seems likely that Disney will do the same with the eagerly anticipated Pixar animation Onward.

While the release dates of some of the year’s biggest films seem to be moving around like chess pieces on a board it leaves us with one big question – if Thailand’s cinemas do re-open on April 1st what do audiences have to look forward to? While films such as Daniel Radcliffe’s all action affair Guns Akimbo and new horror film Fantasy Island are slated for release not long after the doors open for several months audiences will have to watch locally made films and smaller international films while Hollywood prepares to re-launch itself with their all-conquering blockbusters. That is not necessarily a bad thing though as it means for awhile locally made films will have very little competition at the box-office for awhile.

Of course box office aside Covid-19 has also had catastrophic affect on the people of Hollywood and film industries right around the world. At the moment every major studio in America has shutdown production meaning that hundreds of thousands of people are currently out of work – many not knowing when those studio doors will open again.

The human side of Covid-19 in Hollywood became even more apparent when two of its biggest stars tested positive to the deadly virus. In Australia working on a new movie about the life of Elvis Presley Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson contracted the virus resulting in Australia’s Nine Network television network having to place some of their on-air talent in isolation after they had come in contact with the pair. It was later proven that Nine’s head Entertainment Reporter Richard Wilkins had actually contracted Covid-19 after interviewing Wilson.

The next Hollywood celebrity to test positive to Covid-19 was Thor: Ragnarok and Star Trek Beyond star Idris Elba and only a few hours ago it was confirmed that former Hollywood producer and convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein has tested positive to the virus in prison.

Globally nobody has been able to safely predict when the Covid-19 crisis might be over but the one thing we do know is it is going to take a long time for Hollywood to recover from cinema’s darkest days.

 

I have always found that pop culture and music go hand-in-hand despite people denying that is the case. Funnily enough a lot of my childhood memories revolve around the two together. Memories of sitting in my Dad’s car while he introduced me to the likes of Pink Floyd, Meatloaf and Alice Cooper are just as vivid as racing to get up of a morning so I could get my fix of Defenders On The Earth on television before I went to school.

Likewise at school I would sit with my friends at recess and trade my Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cards alongside my KISS cards. And of course that was another battle that my parents had everyday – bribing me with such cards in order to get me to wear my school uniform to school rather than my KISS or ABBA shirts.

Yes music and pop culture do work in hand-in-hand and it is for that reason that more music fans should be excited about Supanova, the pop culture convention that is happening at The Melbourne Showgrounds this weekend. It may surprise some to know that you will see just as many people there wearing Anthrax and Metallica T-Shirts as you will donning gear from Marvel or DC, largely due to the fact that this can be an absolute treasure trove if you a serious music lover.

I have picked up some absolute gems at the various stalls there over the years. From signed music merchandise through to hard to find KISS comics – even some horror film soundtracks that I thought were long gone as they were no longer listed items in any stores. Add to that some of the music documentaries I have picked up there on DVD over the years and it is easy to see why the event is becoming more and more popular with music fans.

This year it seems even the organisers of Supanova have picked up on the fact that the event is fast becoming a music and pop culture crossover because one of the biggest stars attending the event this year – is none other than James Marsters.

Many of you will remembers Marsters as the Billy Idol inspired vampire Spike in the hit television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a role he later reprised in the spin-off series Angel. Since then he has had major roles in shows such as Torchwood, Smallville and The Runaways.

What a lot of people may not know though is that Marsters well and truly has a musical side as well. A lot of Buffy fans were blown away by Marsters’ vocals on ‘Rest In Peace’ – one of his tracks from the music episode Once More With Feeling. The hard rock tracks saw Marsters in full flight and it was little wonder that he was such a natural when you realise that outside of acting he had also been a musician his entire life.

He had started his musical career doing covers of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Neil Young in LA clubs before going on to form his first band. In 2003 he formed the band Ghost of the Robot who released a few singles, while many Buffy fans noted that some of the tracks were written about the characters they had come to know and love. The band disbanded in 2004 and Marsters continued with his solo career until Ghost of the Robot again reformed in 2010. Since then they have released a number of EPs while Marsters has toured around the world with his solo career appearing at a number of festivals and special events.

And that is where Supanova have jumped on board. Not only will fans have the opportunity to see Marsters host and number of Q&As this weekend and of course be signing a tonne of autographs, he will also be doing some special musical performances at the event as well. Yes, Supanova have realised just how many music fans attend the event and are now catering to them as well with concerts.

So if you are a music fan and you haven’t already got something planned this weekend then perhaps it is time to wander down to the Showgrounds and check out Supanova. You never know what kind of musical treasure you are going to pick up at one of the stalls… and you will have a chance to check out James Marsters belt out a couple of tunes as well.

 

The red carpets have been rolled away and the gowns are back on their hangers. The Academy Awards are won and done for another year, and while film journalists right around the world have dissected and discussed every winner, every nomination there is something that has become crystal clear in the wash up, this year might be the year where the Oscars finally see a change occur that is long overdue.

On the surface it appears that change may have already occurred, but has it? Read most of the headlines the morning after this year’s Oscars and they all labelled the fact that South Korean film Parasite won Best Picture as the dawn of a new time in Hollywood, a time when films from right around the world now have more than a slight chance of walking away with the top Oscars on Academy Awards night.

But is that really the case? Let’s call it for what it is – the Oscars for a long time now have been a celebration of American films, not a celebration for international films like many would have believed. Yes there has been a Best Foreign Language section for awhile now but that always felt like a token award because if you really scratched under the surface you would find that filmmakers had to hurdle over each other to even earn a nomination. That award is now known as the Best International Feature Film Award which does make more sense given that even films from English speaking countries outside of America could also be nominated in the category, but that still doesn’t fix the biggest problem of all with the category.

Isn’t the fact that there is even a Best International Feature Film Award part of the problem? After all the Academy Awards are supposed to be a celebration of film – yet the mere fact that there is a Best International category means there is an instant separation from the American films also in the running for awards. That divide becomes even wider when you realise that in order for a film to be considered in the Best International Feature Film Award that film has to be submitted by the country where it originated. That’s right if a country like Thailand makes two great movies in one year – tough luck only one can be selected. America on the other hand can have as many films nominated as they wish.

When you consider the great films that have come out of countries like France and Germany over the years that ‘one film submission’ rule seems like a joke, but perhaps the biggest losers because of the rule this year were Thailand and Australia.

Thailand’s submission to the category this year was Sitisiri Mongolsiri’s Krasue: Inhuman Kiss while Australia’s submission was Buoyancy a film shot in Thailand with all the actors coming from Cambodia and Thailand. Neither film ended up making the short list of nominations for the actual Best International Award, but it is here where the murkiness of the Award are exposed.

To receive its submission Buoyancy defeated The Nightingale, there is nothing wrong with that but when you look at how both films were received by other Award ceremonies and by critics you see just how unfair it was that both films couldn’t be in the running for the major award.

Buoyancy explores the human rights issue of young Cambodians being forced to work as slaves in the Thai fishing industry which meant it was a powerful film that received a lot of praise. The film won awards at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Awards (AACTA) as well as earning awards in Mumbai, Berlin and Oslo. On the other hand The Nightingale looked at the harshness of living in colonial Tasmania including the brutal murders of the local Aboriginal people. Like Buoyancy it also received a lot of five star reviews and found itself winning a plethora of awards including six AACTAs and eight Australian Film Critics Association Awards. There is little argument that both were great films and should have equally had the right to be nominated for Best International Film yet somehow weren’t.

If you dig a little deeper the whole divide between how American cinema and International films at the Oscars became even wider. If Parasite was in the end considered such a great film by the Academy then how come none of its cast found themselves nominated for Best Actor or Best Actress? That point was also not lost on fans of the film Buoyancy who wondered why actors Sarm Heng and Thailand’s Thanawut Kasro didn’t receive nominations despite being praised world-wide for their intense roles in the film.

The host of popular film podcast The Popcorn Conspiracy Kyle McGrath recently talked about Kasro’s Oscar snub and said. “When you look at the performances in Buoyancy and you take the performance of Thanawut Kasro in the role of a Supporting Actor he was miles ahead of where Brad Pitt was in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. That is not to say that Brad Pitt didn’t deserve it but if I was going to pick between those two actors who gave the better performance it would have been Thanawut Kasro over Brad Pitt, but with the way it works at the moment perhaps it needs a little bit more work on how the voting system works.”

Will that voting system ever change? I guess the best answer to give to that question is – perhaps. Certainly Parasite doing so well may open up more opportunities for Asian cinema right around the world. Even in the past few months it has been interesting to see how many cinema lovers around the world have been eagerly anticipating the release of The Cave (another film that Thanawut Kasro appears in), but for international films to finally receive the recognition that they deserve it is time for the Oscars to place all films on a level playing field no matter what country they come from rather than it just be a celebration of American cinema like it is now.

Well we’ve seen the worst… now here the best. Dave G takes a look at what his favourite films were for 2019.

  1. The Nightingale

Few films could match the power of The Nightingale this year. While described as a thriller Jennifer Kent’s film could easily been described as a Gothic horror. Brilliantly capturing the harshness of early Tasmanian settlement the film and allowing Sam Claflin to shine in the role of one the screen’s worst villains. The film shone as did its amazing star Aisling Franciosi.

  1. Ford vs Ferrari

In an era when films around fast cars usually involve epic stunts and a cast full of muscle Ford vs Ferrari did things a little differently. While the heart of the story revolved around the Shelby racing team having two of the greatest character actors of our era, Matt Damon and Christian Bale, acting opposite each other made it an audience’s delight and has rocketed it into Oscar contention.

  1. Joker

What is it about playing the Joker that seems to make an actor lift their performance? After great performances in the role by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger here Joaquin Phoenix stepped into this origins story and suddenly DC Comics had an Oscar worthy film on its hands… cop that Marvel.

  1. Buoyancy

From first time feature director Rodd Rathjen Buoyancy explored the practice of human slavery in a brutal way. Shot almost entirely on the water in Thailand with a very under-experienced leading man this film should have been talked about more often during the awards season. Rathjen is a filmmaker to watch in the future.

  1. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

When Quentin Tarantino makes a film these days it is not just a release it is a cinematic event. Once again Once Upon A Time In Hollywood showed what a serious filmmaker Tarantino can be as he creatively tells a story around the notorious serial killer Charles Manson. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt relished on a script that some thought was a little too talky.

  1. Midsommar

While I wasn’t a fan of Hereditary Midsommar is the film that has really shown me that Ari Aster is a filmmaker that really knows how to hit his mark. Thought-provoking, creative and gruesome, what else do you want from a modern day horror film?

  1. Sorry We Missed You

Nobody makes movies that critique modern day society the same way Ken Loach does. Once again Sorry We Missed You exposes what hundreds of thousands of families go through each day in a way that seems like a time capsule that can make you cry.

  1. A Bigger Jail

Brand new film from Australian director/screenwriter Matthew Victor Pastor telling the parallel story of a man living in a cuckhold relationship and a man who has recently been released from prison trying to fit into society. This is the film that should make Pastor a household name in Australian filmmaking circles.

  1. Blinded By The Light

An amazing film that mixed drama and comedy as it told the story of a young refugee coming to grips with living in Thatcher’s England. Uses the music of Bruce Springsteen as a back-drop this is one of the big surprises of 2019 and shows that Viveik Kalra is a young actor to watch.

  1. Galveston

Melanie Laurent continues to show that she is a filmmaker on the rise with the gritty crime drama Galveston. There is no way to pick where there movie is headed and it is only made better by a script that allows Ben Foster and Elle Fanning to put on two of the best acting performances of the year.

  1. Mid 90s

Jonah Hill makes his feature film directional debut with a film that Larry Clarke would have been happy with. Edgy and really captures the 90s… certainly show that Hill maybe someone to watch as a filmmaker in the future.

  1. The Public

Largely overlooked in Australia The Public saw one of the best acting/directing performances from recent years with Emilio Estevez delivering pure perfection. The films biting commentary on homelessness certainly made its audience sit up and take notice.

  1. Jo Jo Rabbit

You can’t do a comedy film about the Hitler Youth, right? Wrong. Director Taika Waititi returns to form with a film that will make you laugh and then make you cry. Sam Rockwell once again steals the show.

  1. Hotel Mumbai

Another Australian film that is perhaps unlucky not to be higher up on my list. Heart-breaking and acting packed the film captures one of India’s darkest days with an amazing acting performance from Dev Patel.

  1. A Good Woman Is Hard To Find

Great British crime thriller from director Abner Pastoll. Very reminiscent of the gangster fills of the 1980s. Has cult film written all over it and has a brilliant performance from Sarah Bolger who deserves to be a star.

  1. Marriage Story

Brilliant Netflix drama about a couple going through a divorce. Brilliant screenplay and brilliant performances by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Could it be enough to get Driver an Oscar nomination?

  1. Instant Family

One of the very few comedies to be released this year that actually had heart. Instant Family knew when to be funny and knew when to be touching.

  1. Ben Is Back

Perhaps one of the most underrated films of 2019. Ben Is Back is everything that you don’t normally expect from a Julia Roberts film – gritty and totally engrossing.

  1. The Dead Don’t Die

This film may have divided audiences but at the end of the day you had to remember that it was a film from the legendary Jim Jamusch. With that in mind the film delivered everything it should – quirky humour and unexpected turns.

  1. The Kindergarten Teacher

One of the most intriguing films of 2019. What seemed to be a heartfelt film about a teacher trying to help a gifted student had twists and turns that nobody saw coming.

  1. John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

Not only one of the action films of the year but one of the best action films ever made. Amazing stunts and brilliant fight sequences… surely there are no action film fans out there that didn’t love this?

  1. Defend, Protect, Conserve

One of the most important doccos made this year. Captures what really happens when Sea Shepherd goes up against the Japanese whaling fleet which made for a really interesting viewing.

  1. A Dog’s Journey

Probably one of the biggest surprises for me in 2019. This looked like it was going to be light and fluffy but instead ended up being a film with grit that explored tough topics such as family separation. If you haven’t seen it, go out and grab yourself a copy.

  1. The Guilty

The Guilty is easily one of the best foreign language films of the year. Claustrophobic and suspenseful this is another of this year’s must see films.

  1. Yesterday

Danny Boyle once again at his creative best. Funny in parts, thought provoking in others, plus who would have known that Ed Sheeran would steal the limelight the way he did?

It is that time of the year when we reflect on what was good and what was bad in 2019. We start with the worst films of 2019.

  1. Black Christmas

The first dud from the Blumhouse house of horror. Black Christmas tried to be political with the gender game but ended up being so offense even the female audience found it deplorable.

  1. Little

This alleged comedy starring Regina Hall took the old ‘older person becomes younger self to learn a lesson’ Hollywood trope and completely killed it…unfunny in every sense.

  1. After

Based on a hit novel doesn’t necessarily mean success and that was certainly the case for the teenage romance After. Good girl meets bad guy with a reputation but with zero chemistry on screen and a story so transparent anybody could see through it, this was a real stinker.

  1. Gemini Man

Will Smith and director Ang Lee teamed up with what should have been one of the action films of the decade. But the new crystal clear technology only damaged an already flawed film.

  1. Dora And The Lost City Of Gold

You can argue this was a film for kids and shouldn’t be rated so harshly. But even kids struggled with a film that made its lead character seem childish instead of the hero that she should have been.

  1. What Men Want

A switch on the classic Mel Gibson film What Women Want. Re-make, re-boot… whatever this one was unfunny and missed its mark.

  1. Us

Once again Jordan Peele tried to be a little bit different with his horror film and once again it is left floundering with anything but a smart horror.

  1. Poms

Another ill-fated comedy, this time starring Diane Keaton who tries to introduce a cheerleading team to her local retirement home. While the film tries to expose some of the downsides of retirement villages it completely misses its mark and become a nothing film.

  1. It: Chapter Two

Early on it promised to be a hard-edged horror film but then it just fell away to be an ordinary horror film that seemed to mirror the first film.

  1. Godzilla: King Of Monsters

After the original film and Kong proved to be interesting this one just seemed to fall apart and become boring battle sequence after battle sequence with an out of the ordinary storyline that was nearly laughable.

 

Our resident film guru Kyle McGrath takes a look at the Top Five Tom Hanks movies.

5. The Money Pit
After proving himself as a leading man in the raunchy comedy Bachelor Party Tom Hanks found success again in the much more family friendly film The Money Pit. This was the first film of his I ever saw and one that was a favourite at my house growing up. The Money Pit marks not only the very first collaboration between Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg but also marks a time in Hanks’ career after he had made the successful leap from tv to movies but before making the leap from comedy to drama, not to say he didn’t always have it in him already to do so. The story of a young couple trying to renovate their dream house only to find that everything that can go wrong, does go wrong is a movie which has inspired countless other films since and having recently rewatched it still holds up as a great family film today.
4. The Ladykillers
Despite being made way back in 2004 this is still one of Tom Hanks’ latest comedy roles and what I personally consider to be one of the Coen Brothers’ most underrated features. The black comedy “The Ladykillers” was heavily criticised I remember upon release for I guess the perceived blasphemy of being a reimagining of the 1955 Alec Guinness/Peter Sellers original. With Hanks starring as the eccentric southern professor who, with his crew of misfits, plots to rob a casino under the nose of an elderly landlady the film features a cast of colourful characters, an amazing soundtrack and of course the Coen’s devilish dark humour.
3. Toy Story 2
Although I was quite young when the original Toy Story movie came out I can remember how much I loved it and even back then I knew my enjoyment of the story of Woody & Buzz and their friendship was largely thanks to the performances of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. At the time I would have been happy with just a simple follow up but Pixar managed to really knock it out of the park with their very first sequel. Toy Story 2 is a movie which I’ve grown to appreciate more as I’ve grown older and been able to appreciate the way the filmmakers were able to tell a story which worked on one level for children but on a completely different level for adults at the same time. While it’s a fun adventure film for the kids adults can see that Woody’s journey in this film is really about a character who must face his own form of mortality in the sad reality that, one way or another, his owner Andy at some point won’t want to play with him any more. He eventually accepts this and understands that the important thing in life is to enjoy the time he has left. It’s a very strong message for an animated film about talking toys and one which was handled with such subtlety that if anything it made me feel that Toy Story 3 in comparison was somewhat emotionally manipulative and redundant.
2. Forrest Gump
Possibly his most memorable role and one which won him his second leading man academy award in as many years. Forrest Gump is the story of a man who from the offset of his life looked to be somebody who the more heartless amongst us might describe as “one of gods mistakes”. Fueled by chance, his own perseverance and willpower the film shows the inspirational story of what an amazing life this person leads despite having all the wrong cards at the beginning. While Forrest’s ability to stumble into and inspire every other historical figure from Elvis to the guy who created the “have a nice day” smiley face symbol might seem a little silly the film is a wonderful tale which of course isn’t based on any true story and never makes itself out to be so it’s free to take us on whatever wild ride it wishes. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking Forrest Gump teaches us the importance of loyalty, devotion, love and to never give up hope.
1. The Green Mile
And now for something completely different. Something you may have noticed is that the rankings of these films is based on not just how much I appreciate the movie but also on the emotional impact the film had had on me. In that regard few films have effected me as much as The Green Mile, director Frank Darabont’s second adaptation of a Stephen King novel and follow up to The Shawshank Redemption. Tom Hanks plays senior prison guard on death row who befriends a gentle giant with incredible abilities named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan in the role of his life) who has been sentenced to death for the alleged murder of two young children. Arguably the best adaptation of any of Stephen King’s stories this film is one of the most powerfully moving films you’re ever likely to experience and a “horror” story of a different type. A tale of the unspeakable evils which human beings can inflict on each other every single day the film raises the terrifying idea that this world being such as it is really does not deserve miracles.

 

We have been lucky to see some amazing documentaries about famous actors over the past twelve months. There were the sensational I Am Heath Ledger and I Am Paul Walker now comes McKellen: Playing The Part, a documentary that celebrates the life and career of Sir Ian McKellen.

Know to modern day audiences for his portrayal of Magneto in the X-Men franchise and for his legendary role as Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit films a documentary about this amazing man’s life is a must see.

Opening in cinemas on the 4th October we are giving you the chance to win tickets to see McKellen: Playing The Part thanks to Icon. Simply go to our Facebook page, like the page and private message telling us what is your favourite Ian McKellen role and why.