Father Geek here with the week-ending report from Australia-New Zealand... our effort to keep you up-to-date on what is going on in that magical filmland far, far away in our future... 1st I've got this bit that came direct to Geek Headquarters here in Austin, Texas that may disturb some of you blokes downunder...
just a quick note that might be of interest to some - ken park , which was scheduled to be screened at the Sydney Film Festival on the 17th of June, has been banned, refused classifacation and refused a special exemption for a festival audience. the fact that the film has screened at festivals around the world and is in commercial release in Spain, Russia, Denmark and other European countries (and is expected to be released in the US later this year) makes this decision fucking ludicrous. anyone who gives a good god damn about the right to call ken park a work of visionary genius and/or the last flaccid hurrah by a dirty old man can email the Hon. Daryl Williams AM, QC, MP at daryl.williams.MP@aph.gov.au ,or the Hon. Robert John Debus, MP at firstname.lastname@example.org to party for our right to...see a film that won't plague society like syphillus? or whatever...
Soooooooo what do you think of that? Now, ol'Father Geek will turn you over to our regular regional editor Latauro ...
This week's report is a bit sparse, due to Lat living it up for a week on the Apple Isle (Tasmania for those of you in other parts of the world -- that southern island we keep telling you is actually New Zealand). So, while Lat traverses the snowy peaks of Mount Wellington, here is your regular weekly dose of...
Films are notoriously difficult to put together. Despite the fact that about half-a-dozen get released a week (and there are even more that don't), there are so many elements that have to come together, it's amazing the things get made at all.
But they do get made. Lots get made. Some good, some bad. Some brilliant, some terrible. The abject disappointment film-lovers experienced when it became clear Terry Gilliam's THE MAN WHO SHOT DON QUIXOTE was not going to continue filming after production shut down was wide-spread. But some good has come out of it. A terrific documentary called LOST IN LA MANCHA has been doing the festival circuit, and will soon be released in Australia.
I ( Latauro the Mighty) managed to get my hands on a preview copy, and forced myself to view it. Why forced? I know how it ends, and I felt it might have been too depressing an experience. Two things helped to get me into it: the fact that Gilliam is currently shooting BROTHERS GRIMM (definitely in my top ten most anticipated), and the fact that he's about to buy back the rights to QUIXOTE with an aim to shoot after GRIMM wraps.
There's a review later in the column, after the regular items. Enjoy.
* Some of my lowly Kiwi spies have informed me that Viggo Mortensen made up in Aragorn's scruffy unkept beard filmed a scene a few days ago with Hugo/Elrond aka Mr. Smith for THE RETURN OF THE KING. It was a scene where Elrond comes into Aragorn's tent wearing a hooded cape that kept his face hidden in darkness. Jackson shot the scene a dozen times at least. In this scene Hugo slowly and with a certain amount of drama removes the hood from his face to seriously talk with Viggo. Due to various reasons Hugo kept blowing his lines, so Peter shot it over and over. Finally the Director called for the insurance, or Champagne shot, and they ran thru it all for one final take with Elrond stepping into the scene face hidden from the view of all in attendance, buuuuuut this time when he slowly exposes his face he had on a pair of his patented "Mr. Smith" sunglasses and says something along the line of, "Join with the MATRIX, Mr. Aragorn" in his best deadpan delivery. Mr. Jackson then called for the scene wrap.
* Emma Harrison (she of notorious local soap NEIGHBOURS) has been cast in Robert Altman’s new one, THE COMPANY. The film, which also stars Neve Campbell and Malcolm McDowell, focuses on life in the demanding ballet world. Harrison recently completed work on the Coen Brothers’ INTOLERABLE CRUELTY.
* Kiwi director Lee Tamahori will next direct RISK ADDICTION. The film was originally slated to be a sequel to BASIC INSTINCT, but never transpired (partly due to every single male actor in the world turning it down). The script will undergo a slight rewrite in order to accommodate new characters.
* RIVER ROAD, a sky-high-budgeted US feature, was expected to film in Australia in 2004. Due to funding difficulties, producers have had to cancel the shoot. No word yet on whether it will shoot elsewhere or even elsewhen.
AWARDS AND FESTIVALS
AUSTRALIAN FILM INSTITUTE AWARDS
The entry deadlines for the AFI awards are fast closing. If you’ve got work that’s worth entering...
The Closing Dates Are...
- Documentary: Wednesday, 11th of June
- Short Fiction and Short Animation: Wednesday, 11th of June
- Feature Film: Monday, 23rd of June
- Television: Friday, 1st of August
RELOADED made over three times as much as its nearest rival, whilst newcomers BASIC and OLD SCHOOL made minor dents. WHALE RIDER continued to hang on in the top five (even after X2 dropped out), but will most likely skip down a few spots by next week.
The Top Five Are...
- 1. MATRIX RELOADED
- 2. PHONE BOOTH
- 3. OLD SCHOOL
- 4. BASIC
- 5. WHALE RIDER
RELEASED THIS WEEK
Keanu Reeves’ understudy goes franchise-happy, Spike Lee goes nuts with crackers, Heath Ledger puts his hand up for the weekly adaptation of A. E. W. Mason’s novel, the Culkins go indie, a group of neighbours intertwine, and Billy Bob Thornton plays against type as trailer trash.
Annnnnd Here They Are...
- 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS
- THE 25TH HOUR
- THE FOUR FEATHERS
- IGBY GOES DOWN
- SAFETY OF OBJECTS
- WAKING UP IN RENO
THE WINDMILLS OF REALITY FIGHT BACK!
LOST IN LA MANCHA
THE WINDMILLS OF REALITY FIGHT BACK! LOST IN LA MANCHA
The art of documentary making is obscenely underrated. I personally balked at the idea of making one in a doco class once, and went for the chicken-out route of the mockumentary. I’m sorry I did that, because there is a skill to documentaries that few possess.
The first thing that grabbed me about it was the Gilliam animation-style segment about Gilliam’s previous films. It’s a superb stroke that is not only informative, but secures you in the knowledge that these people understand Gilliam. They understand his Python days right through to his iconic filmmaking phase (one I hope we will be in for a while to come). It’s a comforting moment that gives you an affinity with the filmmakers, who, bucking against the current fashion of the Nick Broomfields and the Michael Moores, never appear on-camera.
Gilliam himself is presented as the tragic figure, and the parallels with Don Quixote de La Mancha are consistently apparent. Production Designer Benjamin Fernandez even makes the comparison at one point. It’s an analogy made with every close up of Gilliam; even when he is good-natured, we still see the frantic desperation in his eyes.
There’s a childlike wonder about Gilliam. His absolute delight while watching the giants’ screen-test is inspiring, and his joke about the trailer’s ‘coming soon’ tagline is telling and poignant.
Prepare to fall in love with Jean Rochefort. After watching him for a moment, it’s obvious was everyone said about him. They really couldn’t replace him when he dropped out because of health reasons; he was the only Don Quixote, full stop. His screen tests are heartbreakingly because they are so perfect.
There’s a sense of relief when Johnny Depp shows up. Gilliam is clearly relieved, and Depp’s suggestions for character and dialogue are good. They’re clever. Gilliam’s relaxed, and with his presence it truly begins to feel like a movie.
For a doco to have such clearly-defined villains is almost an homage to the unmade film. The financiers have no concept of film production, and watching the 1st AD’s pass-blocking of their uninformed suggestions strikes in two different ways. There’s a feeling of helplessness as you realise the real bosses of the project are lumbering idiots, and yet a satisfaction when you see the 1st AD protecting Gilliam from these idiotic suggestions.
The shot of the investors approaching the set has such an obvious parallel to the shots of the unwieldy giants from the screen test, I laughed out loud.
But when the 1st AD announced he’s leaving, that’s it. He’s been the one holding it together from the beginning, and we’re reminded of Gilliam’s earlier comment (‘if he leaves, I may as well’). The scene following his resignation shows Gilliam watching rushes. His eyes no longer have the excited wonder they did in earlier rushes screenings; he has a sadness, and at that moment you know that HE knows it’s over.
It’s a terrific documentary, and it’s masterfully constructed. However, I’d feel a lot happier if I were watching it as a special feature on the DON QUIXOTE DVD. Hopefully, within five years, we’ll all be.
- Adam Shankman signs on to direct THE RETURN OF WHALE RIDER
- Toni Collette will receive $5million for MURIEL’S WEDDING TOO: MURIEL’S DIVORCE
- George Miller will develop the MAD MAX spinoff CRAZY CHRISTINE for Halle Berry