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AICN Downunder: NOVA; Ned Kelly; Tarzan; Superman; King Kong; Anymore; Salem's Lot; Tongan Ninja; The Locals

Father Geek here with the #2 column from our new Writer/Editor for our AICN Downunder report each week, Latauro. He's getting the hang of it with even more info this time out... (By the way he can't do this alone... he needs your input) Want to help him out? Just send him your inside info, scripts, press passes and screeners, set visit invites, and festival passes. He'll see to it that we hear about it, annnnnd then we'll let the world know about your project, start the buzzzz, contact Latauro now!

Here he is with this week's report...

Welcome to my own second edition of the AICN-Downunder report. I wasn’t sure whether to give you new material or just do a "Best Of...", but too much cool stuff is happening in our neck of the woods, so here ’tis...


Autumn has finally come to Melbourne, a fact reflected by our typically erratic weather (Wednesday was a total fire ban day, with bush fires, top soil dust clouds, and temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius; Thursday seemed like northern monsoon season). Meanwhile, the trend of too-many-films-coming-out-each-week-no-time-to-see-them-all is continuing to have a draining effect on my account balance.(HOW 'BOUT SOME "FREE" PASSES, OR SCREENERS FOR THIS NEW PRESS GUY)

Thanks to all the people who have written in with scoops and info. I had a few inquiries regarding the part New Zealand will play in this column. I should have mentioned last week that the Downunder report will be as much about our Kiwi cousins to the East as it is about Australia.

The New Zealand film industry is experiencing an upsurge at the moment with Hollywood production THE LAST SAMURAI, as well as local product WHALE RIDER (which is getting many positive reviews on the international festival circuit). I, myself, continue to support the New Zealand film industry by watching the Extended Edition of FELLOWSHIP over and over again. Also, I think I’m in love with Phillipa Boyens. (Fun fact: if 2002 taught us anything, it’s that if Christopher Lee ever calls you ‘old friend’, head for the godamn hills. He’s after you. Thanks to Peter Jackson and George Lucas for pointing that out.)

Speaking of the isles, I’ve acquired a contact in New Zealand who has dropped a fairly BIG bombshell in my inbox... a scoop which leads today’s news...


*Peter Jackson will direct KING KONG for Universal, from a script by Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens. Yes, this is has been refuted by many places, not least of which is this one here. Recently, Harry reported that Wingnut Films are working on a BIG film that is *not* KING KONG. It was that report which gave me a great deal of skepticism when I first received the scoop... but I checked the source out. He says that unless there’s a change at Wingnut in the short-term, they are making KING KONG. And they’re going to offically announce it in the next few months.

HARRY HERE: I asked Peter about this and he said that it wasn't true. That all that he, Fran and Phillipa are working on are pick-up scenes for RETURN OF THE KING and writing their next project titled "Bar -" and then he stopped and said, "Almost gave it away".

*More on New Zealand... THE LOCALS, a low-budget ghost movie is currently in post-production. Directed by Greg Page (who is not the Greg Page from The Wiggles, but rather the director of many a video clip, including a few for D4, the New Zealand group mentioned by Father Geek in this column last week... coincidence? You be the judge!), the film will be released in New Zealand later this year.

*Also in NZ is a zero-budget martial arts comedy called TONGAN NINJA, which has theatrical distribution in Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, and will be released in the US on DVD later this year.

- Okay, back to Australia now...

*Damien Richardson (THE HARD WORD), Daniela Farinacci (LANTANA) and Kestie Morassi (DIRTY DEEDS) join the cast of JOSH JARMAN, starring Marcus Graham (MULHOLLAND DRIVE) in the title role. As we reported last week, the film is written and directed by Pip Mushin (best known to Aussie audiences as Stuart the cameraman in the brilliant current affairs satire “Frontline”).

*If, like me, you’re brimming over with jealousy that Harry Knowles (one of them Yankee fellas) has seen UNDEAD, a reportedly kickarse Australian zombie film, before we’ve heard diddley-squat about it, you’ll be happy to know that the film has secured an Australian release. No info yet on the specific date, but we’ll actually get to see it. Which is good.

*Australian actress Rebecca Gibney (“Hallifax FP”, “Stingers”, and practically every other series ever made in Australia) has joined the cast of SALEM’S LOT, currently shooting in Melbourne.

*Naomi Watts (MULHOLLAND DRIVE, THE RING) is in negotiations to star alongside Mark Ruffalo (THE LAST CASTLE), Laura Dern (JURASSIC PARK) and Peter Krause (“Six Feet Under”) in the indie film ANYMORE, to be directed by John Curran (PRAISE). The film is based on two short stories by Andres Dubus (IN THE BEDROOM) and has been adapted by Larry Gross (PROZAC NATION). Production is due to begin on April 6 in Vancouver.

*Joel Edgerton (STAR WARS: EPISODE II – ATTACK OF THE CLONES, NED KELLY) has reportedly auditioned for the role of a Kryptonian villain in the new SUPERMAN films (presumably in either the second and/or the third films, going by Moriarty’s script reviews). The project, which has jettisoned Brett Ratner, is yet to cast an actual Superman. Meanwhile, Edgerton is preparing for some brief work in STAR WARS EPISODE III, reprising his character of Owen Lars.

*Travis Fimmel, a 22-year-old former Melbourne model, will play Tarzan in a new TV series for Warner Bros. In the series, Tarzan returns from the jungle to New York. His uncle is the head of Greystoke Enterprises. Jane will be a gritty New York detective. Fimmel will be the 48th actor to play Tarzan (the coolest of which has to be Johnny Weissmuller, who, we should point out, was an Olympic diving champion when he was cast). The series screens in the US in October, and will be seen in Australia in 2004.

*There’s a controversy brewing over NED KELLY. The Office of Film and Literature Classification (the Australian version of the MPAA) has given the film a rating of MA15+ (the Australian version of R), and the producers are "cracking their narnies" (the Australian version of being particularly incensed about something). The film makers claim they went to great lengths to make sure the film was appropriate for an M rating, but the classification board’s concerns lay in the shooting death of a policeman, the implied suicide of two characters, and the killing of a Kelly Gang member. The film, directed by Gregor Jordan (TWO HANDS, BUFFALO SOLDIERS) and starring Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush, focuses on Australian folk hero Kelly. Given that the history behind Kelly is taught in many Australian schools, an MA rating will mean that schools will be unable to take students to the film. The film will premiere in Melbourne on Saturday, in Sydney on Tuesday, and will open across Australia on Thursday.


The Oscars are only days away, and as actors worry about how they will be perceived during a time of war, many of us ponder the outcome of this Monday’s 4-hour escapist ceremony; will Polanski walk home with a statuette, or walk home to face statutory charges? Will Diane Lane beat Salma Hayak for Best Actress (chuckle now, but there have been bigger upsets in the past...) ? Will Dirk Beliën and Anja Daelemans defy expectations and beat Philippe Orreindy and Thomas Gaudin for Best Live Action Short?

Whatever happens, we’re crossing finger and toes for all Aussies and Kiwis up for the golden man... (Including AFTRS film makers Steven Pasvolsky and Joe Weatherstone who are up for Best Live Action Short with INJA (DOG). Good luck, guys.)

Don’t forget there are other awards ceremonies and festivals around, events that are designed to bring out the as-yet unknown filmmakers of tomorrow. Who will be the next Paul WS Anderson? The next Raja Gosnell? Well, thankfully not Ben Gibbs, an Australian filmmaker whose short film NOVA is about to make its way onto the festival track. The film, about the last days after a disastrous explosion of the sun, is looking quite impressive (heheheh). Currently, Ben is trying to raise budgets for two feature scripts.

We’ll keep you posted as to his progress.


They just keep makin’ the frigging things. How is it possible to make films faster than it takes to watch them? How do they do that? DAREDEVIL opened in Australia on Thursday, and my one-word review is ‘cool’. Also opening is DOG SOLDIERS, which I actually have on tape, and would give you my thoughts on it were it not on bloody NTSC (will find a player soon... very soon...). Here are the flicks opening this week downunder:


  • - Nicole Kidman to remake FIRST WIVES CLUB with Mimi Rogers
  • - Special report from the set of the new “Movie Show” film BALLISTIC: STRATTON VS POMERANZ
  • - Australia unveils new tourism promotion for Tasmania: ‘No, it’s actually New Zealand!’

That’s it for now. Peace out.

- Latauro

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