Principal photography has commenced on Better Man, the highly anticipated musical feature film based on the life of Robbie Williams, with Australian filmmaker Michael Gracey at the helm. Gracey’s debut film, The Greatest Showman, is one of cinema’s most successful live-action musicals with over $435M at the global box office.
The project marks Williams’ feature film debut as he stars as himself alongside rising star from the UK, Jonno Davies (Hunters, Kingsman: The Secret Service), who plays Robbie Williams throughout his younger adult life, with British stage and screen veterans Steve Pemberton (Inside No. 9, Killing Eve) and Alison Steadman (The Kings Man, Roald & Beatrix: The Tail of the Curious Mouse). The film’s Australian cast includes Damon Herriman (Judy & Punch, The Tourist), Kate Mulvany (Hunters, Elvis) and Anthony Hayes (War Machine, The Light Between Oceans).
Currently filming in Melbourne, Australia, Better Man is an introspective look at the rise, fall and resurrection of UK superstar Robbie Williams, one of the bestselling artists of all time. From his humble upbringing in Stoke-On-Trent, England, Williams was catapulted to fame in the early nineties at the tender age of fifteen, as a founding member of the era’s biggest British boy band. The singer found further success as a solo artist, with 11 out of 12 of his studio albums charting number one in the UK.
Better Man aims to give audiences a powerful and unique insight into how Williams sees himself and the demons he has battled both on and off stage. Gracey will bring light to the incredible highs and lows of a rock star’s journey by satirizing moments inspired by the artist’s life story. The fantastical musical will be filled with reimagined versions of Williams’ hit music, dancing, and spectacular sets melded with stunning visual effects created by the award-winning team at Weta FX.
International sales is being handled by Rocket Science. Roadshow Films will manage distribution in Australia and New Zealand.
Gracey is represented by CAA, Partizan, and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman, LLP. Williams is represented by CAA and ie:music ltd. Davies is represented by Denton Brierley, The Gersh Agency, Alan Siegel Entertainment and attorney Lucy Popkin.
Disney+ has released the trailer, key art, and images for “Rise,” based on the triumphant real-life story about the remarkable family that gave the world the first trio of brothers to become NBA champions in the history of the league – Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Laker Kostas Antetokounmpo, and their younger brother Alex. The film will debut June 24 exclusively on Disney+.
Audiences have never seen a story like that of the Antetokounmpos. After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okeniyi and Yetide Badaki, respectively) struggled to survive and provide for their five children, while living under the daily threat of deportation. With their oldest son still in Nigeria with relatives, the couple were desperate to obtain Greek citizenship but found themselves undermined by a system that blocked them at every turn. When they weren’t selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens with the rest of the family, the brothers – Giannis (Uche Agada) and Thanasis (Ral Agada) – would play basketball with a local youth team. Latecomers to the sport, they discovered their great abilities on the basketball court and worked hard to become world class athletes, along with brother, Kostas (Jaden Osimuwa). With the help of an agent, Giannis entered the NBA Draft in 2013 in a long shot prospect that would change not only his life but the life of his entire family. And last season, Giannis and Thanasis helped bring the Milwaukee Bucks their first championship ring in 50 years, while Kostas played for the previous season champs, the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Rise” stars Dayo Okeniyi, Yetide Badaki, Manish Dayal, Taylor Nichols, introducing Ral Agada and introducing Uche Agada. The film was directed by Akin Omotoso (“Vaya”), written by Arash Amel (“A Private War”) and produced by Bernie Goldmann (“300”). Giannis Antetokounmpo and Douglas S. Jones served as the executive producers.
Stan today announced that Tudor drama Becoming Elizabeth will premiere Sunday 12 June, same day as the U.S, only on Stan. Starring Alicia von Rittberg (Fury, Charité) as ayoung Elizabeth Tudor, Becoming Elizabeth explores the fascinating, untold story of the early life of England’s most iconic Queen.
Long before she ascended the throne, young Elizabeth Tudor (Alicia von Rittberg) was an orphaned teenager who became embroiled in the political and sexual politics of the English court. The death of King Henry VIII sees his nine-year-old son Edward (Oliver Zetterström, The Midnight Gang, The Romanoffs), take the throne and sets into motion a dangerous scramble for power when Elizabeth, Edward and their sister Mary (Romola Garai, The Hour, The Miniaturist) find themselves pawns in a game between the great families of England and the powers of Europe who vie for control of the country.
Additional key players in the relentless quest for power include King Henry’s widow, Catherine Parr (Jessica Raine, The Informer, Patrick Melrose), Thomas Seymour (Tom Cullen, Weekend, Black Mirror), the new King’s uncle, who quickly marries the widowed Catherine but soon takes an interest in the teenage Elizabeth and Duke of Somerset (John Heffernan, The Pursuit of Love, The Crown), who loses no time in claiming the position of Lord Protector for himself when the old King dies.
The upcoming drama series also stars Jamie Blackley (Greed, The Last Kingdom), Alexandra Gilbreath (Tulip Fever, RSC’s Provoked Wife), Jamie Parker (1917, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child), Leo Bill (Rare Beasts, In Fabric), Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones, The Last of Us), Ekow Quartey (This Way Up, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe), Alex Macqueen (Sally4Ever, Peaky Blinders) and Olivier Huband (I Hate Suzie, A Discovery of Witches).
Becoming Elizabeth is created and written by award-winning playwright and television screenwriter Anya Reiss (Spur of the Moment,The Acid Test) who also serves as executive producer with The Forge’s George Ormond (National Treasure, Great Expectations) and George Faber (Shameless, The White Queen) with Lisa Osborne (Little Dorrit, Man in an Orange Shirt) producing.
The brand new season of Becoming Elizabeth premieres 12 June, same day as the U.S and only on Stan.
Today, Disney+ announced FX’s “Pistol,” the limited series about the legendary Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, directed by Academy Award®-winner Danny Boyle, will premiere Tuesday, May 31 exclusively on Disney+ in Australia, under the Star banner. The premiere will feature all six episodes.
Based on Jones’ 2017 memoir Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, “Pistol” was created and written by Craig Pearce and will be executive produced by Boyle, Pearce, Tracey Seaward, Gail Lyon, Anita Camarata, Steve Jones, Paul Lee, Hope Hartman and wiip. The series is produced by FX Productions.
“Pistol” is a six-episode limited series about a rock and roll revolution. The furious, raging storm at the centre of this revolution are the Sex Pistols – and at the centre of this series is Sex Pistols’ founding member and guitarist, Steve Jones. Jones’ hilarious, emotional and at times heart-breaking journey guides us through a kaleidoscopic telling of three of the most epic, chaotic and mucus-spattered years in the history of music. Based on Jones’ memoir Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, this is the story of a band of spotty, noisy, working-class kids with “no future,” who shook the boring, corrupt Establishment to its core, threatened to bring down the government and changed music and culture forever.
“Pistol” stars Australian actor Toby Wallace as Steve Jones, Jacob Slater as Paul Cook, Anson Boon as John Lydon, Christian Lees as Glen Matlock, Louis Partridge as Sid Vicious, Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde, Talulah Riley as Vivienne Westwood, Maisie Williams as punk icon Jordan, Emma Appleton as Nancy Spungen and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Malcolm McLaren.
Robust parental controls ensure that Disney+ remains a suitable viewing experience for everyone in the family. Subscribers can set access limits on mature content and create PIN-protected profiles alongside the already existing Kids Profiles to give parents and guardians peace of mind.
From Oscar-nominated visionary filmmaker Baz Luhrmann comes Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “Elvis”, starring Austin Butler and Oscar winner Tom Hanks.
The film explores the life and music of Elvis Presley (Butler), seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks). The story delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Central to that journey is one of the most significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge).
Starring alongside Hanks and Butler, award-winning theatre actress Helen Thomson (“Top of the Lake: China Girl”, “Rake”) plays Elvis’s mother, Gladys, Richard Roxburgh (“Moulin Rouge!” “Breath”, “Hacksaw Ridge”) portrays Elvis’s father, Vernon, and DeJonge (“The Visit”, “Stray Dolls”) plays Priscilla. Luke Bracey (“Hacksaw Ridge”, “Point Break”) plays Jerry Schilling, Natasha Bassett (“Hail, Caesar!”) plays Dixie Locke, David Wenham (“The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, “Lion”, “300”) plays Hank Snow, Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”, “The High Note”) plays B.B. King, Xavier Samuel (“Adore”, “Love & Friendship”, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”) plays Scotty Moore, and Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”) plays Jimmie Rodgers Snow.
Also in the cast, Dacre Montgomery (“Stranger Things”, “The Broken Heart Gallery”) plays TV director Steve Binder, alongside Australian actors Leon Ford (“Gallipoli”, “The Pacific”) as Tom Diskin, Kate Mulvany (“The Great Gatsby”, “Hunters”) as Marion Keisker, Gareth Davies (“Peter Rabbit”, “Hunters”) as Bones Howe, Charles Grounds (“Crazy Rich Asians”, “Camp”) as Billy Smith, Josh McConville (“Fantasy Island”) as Sam Phillips, and Adam Dunn (“Home and Away”) as Bill Black.
To play additional iconic musical artists in the film, Luhrmann cast singer/songwriter Yola as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, model Alton Mason as Little Richard, Austin, Texas native Gary Clark Jr. as Arthur Crudup, and artist Shonka Dukureh as Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton.
Oscar nominee Luhrmann (“The Great Gatsby”, “Moulin Rouge!”) directed from a screenplay by Baz Luhrmann & Sam Bromell and Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce and Jeremy Doner, story by Baz Luhrmann and Jeremy Doner. The film’s producers are Luhrmann, Oscar winner Catherine Martin (“The Great Gatsby”, “Moulin Rouge!”), Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick and Schuyler Weiss. Courtenay Valenti and Kevin McCormick executive produced.
The director’s behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Mandy Walker (“Mulan”, “Australia”), Oscar-winning production designer and costume designer Catherine Martin (“The Great Gatsby”, “Moulin Rouge!”), production designer Karen Murphy (“A Star Is Born”), editors Matt Villa (“The Great Gatsby”, “Australia”) and Jonathan Redmond (“The Great Gatsby”), Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Thomas Wood (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), music supervisor Anton Monsted (“Australia”, “Moulin Rouge!”) and composer Elliott Wheeler (“The Get Down”).
Summary: A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams.
Cinema Release Dates: 13th January 2022 (Australia), 19th November 2021 (UK), 19th November 2021 (USA)
VOD Release Dates: 19th November 2021 (USA)
Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Screenwriter: Zach Baylin
Cast: Susie Abromeit (Robin Finn), Mikayla Lashae Bartholomew (Tunde Prince), Andy Bean (Laird Stabler), Katrina Begin (Anne (WTA CEO)), Jon Bernthal (Rick Macci), Vivienne Bersin (Stacey), Judith Chapman (Nancy Reagan), Kaitlyn Christian (Shaun Stafford), Layla Crawford (Lydrea Prince), Josiah Cross (TD), Chase Del Rey (Pete Sampras), Kevin Dunn (Vic Braden), Aunjanue Ellis (Oracene ‘Brandy’ Williams), Eman Esfandi (Barry), Tony Goldwyn (Paul Cohen), Brad Greenguist (Bud Collins), Chet Grissom (Matthew Titone), Andy Hoff (Stacey’s Dad – Trevor), Daniele Lawson (Isha Price), Dylan McDermott (George Macarthur), Erika Ringor (Ms. Strickland), Saniyya Sidney (Venus Williams), Demi Singleton (Serena Williams), Will Smith (Richard Williams), Rich Sommer (Patrick Dougherty), Craig Tate (Bells), Jessica Wacnik (Jennifer Capriati), Gjee Wade II (Og), Christopher Wallinger (John McEnroe), Marcela Zacarias (Arantxa Sanchez Vicario)
Running Time: 144 mins
Classification: M (Australia), 12A (UK), PG-13 (USA)
OUR KING RICHARD REVIEWS
David Griffiths’ King Richard Review:
One of the reasons that sports biopics often fail is because it is often obvious that the filmmakers behind the film were so in love with their subject that the view that they present in the film is that the sports’ star is a hero that had no weaknesses or faults. Or if they do they are what drove them to success.
Brand new biopic King Richard doesn’t do that though. Here director, Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters & Men), tells the story of one of US sports most recognisable cult heroes – yet he is someone that never took the court himself. The second thing that Green does is that he puts the story out on the table and then allows the audience to make up their own mind about whether the person in question is a hero or villain.
The person at hand is Richard Williams (Will Smith – Bad Boys) the father of tennis greats Venus (Saniyya Sidney – Fences) and Serena Williams (Demi Singleton – Goldie). The film chronicles on Richard had a plan for his daughters before they were even born but how he and his wife, Oracene Williams (Aunjanue Ellis – Ray), worked hard to teach their daughters all the ins and outs of tennis despite the obstacles the neighbourhood placed in their way.
Determined on his mission though Richard keeps working as hard as he can to see the goals achieved even if it at times means clashing with the girl’s early coaches, including Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal – The Walking Dead).
While it may not seem so to the average cinema goer Green overcomes a lot of obstacles to make this film work. Despite the fact that we all know where the Williams sisters end up with their careers Green and his screenwriter, Zach Baylin (Come As You Are), still make the film suspenseful as Richard first of all tries to help the girls escape their environment and catch the attention of the some of the world’s best coaches. That is no mean feat, but it is something that Green manages to do well throughout the film.
The second major obstacle that the film overcomes is that society has mixed opinions on Richard Williams. While some see him as a sporting hero who helped his daughters overcome massive odds other see him an overbearing parent who was working towards his own goals and dreams and used his daughters to get there. To Green’s credit this film shows both sides of that argument, in a really natural way, and lets the audience make up their own minds on whether they think Richard was in the right or the wrong.
Green also makes this film very accessible for those that may not know a thing about tennis. In a way this is not a sporting story but a story of a family determined to work hard to make a better life for themselves. A lot of the more touching moments throughout this film happen away from the court – whether it be scenes between Richard and Oracene or moments between father and daughter, all of these scenes work throughout the film without it ever becoming something cheesy that Hallmark would like.
The film itself also brings out the best in its actors. Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton are young stars on the rise while the seasoned actors here come to the fore. Will Smith plays the often unsure yet determined Richard Williams so well that he deserves to come into Awards contention. You literally forget that you are watching Will Smith in this film and there are times throughout this film where you swear by Smith’s facial expression that he is even trying to ‘think’ like Williams.
Also bringing his A-Game to the table here is Jon Bernthal who over the past few years has shown Hollywood just what a versatile actor he really is. It seems no matter what role Bernthal finds himself playing he falls into character with ease and here we see him rise to the occasion with many of more tense scenes playing out between himself and Will Smith. The result is cinematic gold.
King Richard is one of the most intriguing sports films that I have watched over the past few years. As director Green makes a well known story suspenseful and dramatic and Will Smith delivers one of the best performances of his career.
Set in the Wild West early days of the Internet, “Pam & Tommy” is based on the incredible true story of the Pamela Anderson (Lily James, “Yesterday”) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan, “The Falcon & the Winter Soldier”) sex tape. Stolen from the couple’s home by a disgruntled contractor (Seth Rogen, “Long Shot”), the video went from underground bootleg-VHS curiosity to full-blown global sensation when it hit the Web in 1997. A love story, crime caper and cautionary tale rolled into one, the eight-part original limited series explores the intersection of privacy, technology and celebrity, tracing the origins of our current Reality TV Era to a stolen tape seen by millions but meant to have an audience of just two.
“Pam & Tommy” is executive produced by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver and Alex McAtee at Point Grey, and Megan Ellison, Sue Naegle and Ali Krug at Annapurna. The series is written by executive producers Rob Siegel and DV DeVincentis, and directed by executive producer Craig Gillespie. Dylan Sellers, Dave Franco, Chip Vucelich and Sarah Gubbins also serve as executive producers.
Robust parental controls ensure that Disney+ remains a suitable viewing experience for everyone in the family. Subscribers can set access limits on mature content and create PIN protected profiles, alongside the already existing Kid Profiles, to give parents and guardians peace of mind.
Summary: When Patrizia Reggiani, an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel their legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately…murder.
Cinema Release Dates: 1st January 2022 (Australia), 26th November 2021 (UK), 24th November 2021 (USA)
VOD Release Dates: TBA
Country: USA, Canada
Director: Ridley Scott
Screenwriter: Becky Johnston, Roberto Bentivegna
Cast: Florence Andrews (Jenny Gucci), Antonello Annunziata (Karl Lagerfield), Miloud Mourad Benamara (Omar), Philippe Boa (Bobby Short), Andrea Piedimonte Bodini (Ivano Savioni), Gaetano Bruno (Franco), Reeve Carney (Tom Ford), Camille Cotton (Paolo Franchi), Adam Driver (Maurizio Gucci), Ira Fronten (Maybeline), Madalina Ghenea (Sophia Loren), Salma Hayek (Pina Auriemma), Jack Huston (Domenico De Sole), Jeremy Irons (Rodolfo Gucci), Youssef Kerkour (Nemir Kirdar), Lady Gaga (Patrizia Reggiani), Mauro Lamantia (Max), Jared Leto (Paolo Gucci), Clelia Rossi Marcelli (Alessandra (teenager)), Alexia Murray (Silvana Reggiani), Mehdi Nebbou (Said), Al Pacino (Aldo Gucci), Martino Palmisano (Richard Avedon), Edouard Philipponnat (Walter), Vincent Riotta (Fernando Reggiani), Nicole Bani Sarkute (Alessandra (3 years old)), Vincenzo Tanassi (Benedetto Ceraulo), Catherine Walker (Anna Wintour), Mia McGovern Zaini (Alessandra (9 years old))
Running Time: 158 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia), 15 (UK), R (USA)
OUR HOUSE OF GUCCI REVIEWS
David Griffiths’ House Of Gucci Review:
Gucci! I might not be a fashion expert… okay my wardrobe is mainly made up of jeans and band T-Shirts… but even I was counting down the days until I could check out The House Of Gucci. I have always found the history of fashion houses and the creative artists that live and work within them fascinating. Over the years I’ve read books and watched countless documentaries to fuel that curiosity and now director Ridley Scott (Prometheus) was going to be playing out one of the greatest sagas to hit a fashion house out on the big screen… how could I not be excited?
The story that Scott chronicles is that of Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver – Paterson). The son of one of the more reclusive Guccis, Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons – The Lion King), originally Maurizio had very little to do with the fashion side of the Gucci family. That side of things was left to his uncle, Aldo (Al Pacino – The Godfather), who operated the business in such a way that it was known for its classic chic when it came to bags and luggage.
But that all changed when Maurizio met Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born) whom he immediately fell in love with. Scared of what the relationship would mean for Maurizio his father severed ties with him and soon Maurizio found himself closer to Rodolfo and his hapless dreamer cousin, Paolo (Jared Leto – Suicide Squad). The result was Patrizia urging Maurizio to become more involved with the fashion side of the business and to help turn it around after advice she has received from a clairvoyant named Pina (Salma Hayek – Savages).
As I watched this film play out on the big screen I realised that the story itself is very Shakesperian. The story itself has similarities to Macbeth and as a director Scott enhances that even more by allowing the film to play out it lavish homes and locations and focussing more on dialogue rather than on action and suspense. There are times in this film when Patrizia rants like Lady Macbeth and the suspense that does rear its head throughout the film comes from the characterisation – in particular who is going to act in what way when certain events happen. To be honest there is probably more suspense in this film for those that don’t know the story of Maurzio Gucci. Because I had previously watched a documentary on his life I often knew what was going to happen next, but that certainly wouldn’t be the case for someone that doesn’t know the story because Scott road-signs nothing.
For years I have heard about various Governments in Europe wanting to use cinema as a way to lure tourists to their countries. For the most part the films that have done it have felt forced whereas the way Scott has shot House of Gucci is purely natural yet it had me wanting to visit some of the beautiful gardens and narrow Italian laneways it is set in due to the way they appear on the screen.
Despite some strange casting decisions the performances of the cast here are exceptional. Lady Gaga should well and truly be in contention for an Oscar for her portrayal of Patrizia, while Adam Driver is natural and at times deliberately cold as Maurizio. In real life Maurizio was awkward and rarely showed emotion and that is something that Driver portrays well on the screen here. The strangest casting choice was perhaps Leto as the aloof and simple Paolo. Leto is unrecognisable in the role and once again takes character acting to the next level, hopefully his name is also mentioned once or twice during awards season.
Perhaps the only real weakness of House Of Gucci is a finale that seems a little rushed. I can’t say too much about it because I would be heading into spoiler territory, but the film builds to a climatic event but then just seems to sadly falls away afterwards and the fallout of the event is not explored in the way that it could have been. Still that is a small gripe for a film that mostly holds its drama throughout its expanded runtime.
House Of Gucci is a sensational drama. Scott highlights the Shakesperian nature of the story and delivers some powerful scenes that are further enhanced by a cast that are on the top of their game. Then there is also an awesome 70s and 80s soundtrack that captures the mood of the time perfectly well.
Summary: Chopper tells the intense story of Mark “Chopper” Read, a legendary criminal who wrote his autobiography while serving a jail sentence in prison. His book, “From the Inside”, upon which the film is based, was a best-seller.
Year: 2000 (re-release 2021)
Cinema Release Dates: 3rd August 2000 (Australia) (re-release 2021), 24th November 2000 (UK)
VOD Release Dates: Available in all regions.
Director: Andrew Dominik
Screenwriter: Andrew Dominik
Cast: Eric Bana (Chopper), Fred Barker (Gov. Beasley), Kate Beahan (Tanya), Caleb Cluff (Detective Creswell), Vince Colosimo (Neville Bartos), Annalise Emtsis (Shazzy), David Field (Keithy George), Kenny Graham (Keith Read), Peter Hardy (Detective Cooney), Hilton Henderson (Detective Wyatt), Sam Houli (Robbo), Flectcher Humphreys (Bucky), Serge Liistro (Sammy the Turk), Simon Lyndon (Jimmy Loughnan), Brian Mannix (Ian James), David Ross Paterson (Morris Jeffrey), Robert Rabiah (Nick), Johnnie Targhan (Paul – Bouncer), Marcus Taylor (Marcus), Gary Waddell (Kevin Darcy), Skye Wansey (Mandy), Dan Wyllie (Bluey), Bill Young (Detective Downie)
Running Time: 94 mins
Classification: R (Australia), 18 (UK), R (USA)
OUR CHOPPER REVIEWS
David Griffiths’ Chopper Review:
I am always skeptical when I see that an anniversary special of a film is being released into cinemas. Sure on DVD or Blu-Ray I am normally one of the first in line to grab one – but the difference is on physical media you normally find the release comes with ‘special’ bonuses – things like director’s commentary etc. Whereas a cinema release is normally a quick cash grab for the studio once more because unless they decide to make it a director’s cut I am watching the same film that I watched twenty years ago, just most likely eating a different choc-top… actually come to think about they haven’t changed much in the last 20 years either.
I approached the 20th-anniversary release of Chopper the same way but I told myself it would still be an enjoyable cinema experience because this wasn’t a film that I have gone back to explore a lot over the years. But I have to admit that my skepticism was completely incorrect because this was one anniversary edition where the filmmaker and studio have created something special for the audience.
Before the film itself starts you get a fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary. Not only do you get to see the cast and director, Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly), going through all the motions of putting the film together but you get to see the moment that Dominik and lead actor Eric Bana (Troy) went to stay with the real Mark ‘Chopper’ Reid for a few days to talk about the film and to allow Bana to study the man that he was going to play. Not only is it a fascinating, don’t-look-away-from-the-screen, moment but it also puts to rest the rumour that Reid hated Bana playing the part and didn’t want to have anything to do with the film.
In Chopper Bana plays Reid, a notorious Australian criminal whose exploits became very public after he wrote a series of books chronicling his journey amongst Melbourne’s underworld. The film shows the ups and downs of his prison friendships with Jimmy (Simon Lyndon – Caught Inside) and Bluey (Dan Wyllie – The Hunter). The film also chronicles his prison war with Keithy George (David Field – Two Hands) and shows how is paranoia when released fractures his relationships with friends and partners and leads to another feud with Neville Bartos (Vince Colosimo – The Wog Boy).
Watching Chopper again reminded me what a special film this was. Not only did it bring the story of one of Australia’s most notorious criminals to the big screen but it launched the careers of Australian director Andrew Dominik and it was the launching pad of Eric Bana from funny television comedian to serious cinema leading man. In the lead-up to this film many people thought Bana would never pull off the role, some even wondered whether or not his inclusion in the film meant that it would be a comedy. The question was how could the man who had made the character of Pouiter an Australian comedy icon now take the lead role in a hard-hitting crime thriller.
That question was pretty quickly answered when people watched the film for the first time. Like myself, they were blown away by the performance of a comedian that had been keeping his serious side hidden for years. In a lot of ways, Bana is the highlight of Chopper because despite the stigma around the film Chopper isn’t exactly the cinematic masterpiece that many say it is.
I still find Chopper a great watch but when people say “that is a film that shows what life in Prentridge” was really like I know that simply means that they have never seen a film like Everynight, Everynight that leaves Chopper in its wake. I also don’t think Chopper matches the power of Aussie crime thrillers like Two Hands and Acolytes, but still like I said it is an enjoyable watch but it is a film that always leaves me wanting to know about Reid because it feels like it just skims the surface of what was one very interesting life. Re-watching Chopper is never a bad idea and if you are a fan of the film then watching the 20th anniversary is a must. The footage of seeing Bana, Dominick and Reid together is priceless, especially given that Reid sadly passed away a few years ago, and it makes the viewer watch the film in a whole new light.