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AICN-Downunder: The Extended Two Towers; Take Away; Deathlok; Cabin Fever; Ken Park; Mandalay; Anaconda 2; Ten Canoes

Father Geek here with our regular weekly report from Downunder, annnnnnnnnnd it showcases a DAMN DETAILED insider's "1st" look at the EXTENDED DVD of LOTR... THE TWO TOWERS, but beware... there are huge spoilers in that part of this edition of our report... HUGE!!! Soooooo you MAY NOT want to read that section (well marked) of this week's informative column...

Three hundred men’s lives I have walked this earth and now I have no time.


Okay, I’ve never really been to a film festival before. Not a real one. And when I was asked what I’d be seeing at the Melbourne International Film Festival, I mumbled an answer and pretended to be interested in nearby posters advertising tennis players in underwear.

The fact is that aside from time constraints (at most points during the week I’m quadruple booked, including now when I should be getting my requisite four hours of sleep per night), cash flow is a bit of an issue. I’ve got debts to pay back, and until we get to “Buffy” Season Seven on DVD, there’s always going to be something to spend money on. So, with the exception of the bits of festival news provided lovingly in each week’s AICN-D report, I avoided all I could of the film festival. I even refused to look at the film listings. If I didn’t know what was playing, how could I be missing it?

Then, for reasons which are quite complicated and not really interesting, I found myself checking to see what was playing on a specific date. Opening that guide was like opening Pandora’s Box. Before I knew what had happened, my diary was filled to the brim with entries.

So, over the next few weeks you can expect to see an influx of reviews. I’ll be racing away from appointments and commitments in order to catch screenings of MAY, SYMPATHY FOR MR VENGEANCE, INFERNAL AFFAIRS, SHAOLIN SOCCER, and RESURRECTION OF THE MATCH GIRL. If you’re in Melbourne, I suggest you do the same.

Speaking of reviews, if you scroll down (or, rather, carefully read all the items I spent ages preparing) you’ll find what I believe is the "FIRST" ever review of THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS – SPECIAL EXTENDED EDITION.



* Rolf de Heer will next direct TEN CANOES, an Aboriginal-themed feature filmed in the Yolngu language. The film will star David Gulpilil (WALKABOUT, RABBIT PROOF FENCE, de Heer’s THE TRACKER)

* Brisbane-based special effects company Photon vfx has won the contract for ANACONDA 2: THE BLACK ORCHID. The film (which AICN-D was the first to tell you about – we’re still proud of that one) will lens in Fiji this month.

* In an effort to release one film a week, Marvel Studios have signed up Kiwi director Lee Tamahori to direct the adaptation of comic DEATHLOK. The comic follows an army colonel who is turned into a cyborg against his will. In Earth-shattering news, Avi Arad will produce.

* Nicole Kidman has been forced to withdraw from Lars Von Trier’s MANDALAY due to scheduling issues. Planned as the second part of a trilogy (which began with DOGVILLE, in which Kidman played a woman called Grace), the film will continue without her. MANDALAY will shoot with a different actress in the role of Grace, and the third film will shoot with a new actress again.

* Further to our speculation over where in Australia the RED DWARF movie will shoot, it looks like AICN-D home Melbourne might be the ticket. Doug Naylor, who visited Melbourne in March, has been working with Film Victoria in the scouting of locations.

* Heheheheh. Underground screenings of KEN PARK are continuing to play across the country. The film is being downloaded from the net, burned to CD or DVD, and then projected. In an impressive marriage of technology and resistance-style rebellion, audiences are told about the film by email and text messages. It is fairly safe to say that more people have seen this film than would have if it had not been banned. Power to the people!



Three Australian feature films have been selected to play at the prestigious festival, including Gregor Jordan’s NED KELLY, Rolf de Heer’s ALEXANDRA’S PROJECT, and Tony McNamara’s THE RAGE IN PLACID LAKE. PLACID is the only one of those film that hasn’t yet been released in Australia.


Lat was annoyed that during his two-years of living on the Gold Coast he had the opportunity to attend this convention twice and was out of the state on both occasions. Nonetheless, this year will no doubt feature many of the advance-advance screenings that it is known for. The Australian Film Commission will this year push for Australian films to feature more prominently than ever at the convention this August. Good for them.


I shouldn’t really give preference in mentioning one film over the others, but given the cult-status-before-we’ve-seen-it that UNDEAD has attained, I thought the loose rule needed bending. If you want to see the film that all are raving about, head over to MIFF on Friday July 26 or Saturday August 9. You might also want to catch Gregor Jordan’s controversial BUFFALO SOLDIERS, which will be the closing night film.


A special event at this year’s MIFF will be this panel exploring the banning of KEN PARK, as well as the broader issue of censorship in Australia. On the panel will be critic David Stratton and MIFF director James Hewison.


Part three of a franchise, part two of a franchise, part one of let’s-hope-it-stops-here, plus two more examples of the formula at work.

Annnnd the winners be....


Lat quickly corrects himself and asserts that BAD EGGS is actually coming out *this* week (rather than last), Lawrence Fishburne takes full advantage of the career boost THE MATRIX gave him, Charlie Kaufman tries to make an ‘Unauthorised Autobiography’ weird, Edward Burns tries to convince us he’s a lead actor, and the makers of Spinal Tap turn their attentions to folk music.

Here they are...


We’ll start with the one you’re all hanging out for. I should pause to introduce you to AICN-D’s most valuable spy, Johnny Bartlett. Though I wish it were me reviewing this DVD, I’ve learnt to be patient. Johnny delivers a teaser of what to expect in the new scenes, and follows up with a brief piece on Eli Roth’s CABIN FEVER.


Johnny Bartlett here, taking a break from the 9 to 5 (got me a total of 217 thats more than Shipman!) to bring you a look at the Exended Edition of The Two Towers. You know that feeling when theres a movie you fuckin' love and youve seen it over and over, only after a while you start thinking Wouldnt it be cool if this time there was something different in there, just to surprise me? Or perhaps thats just me. Anyway, Im inclined to think Peter Jackson understands this well: like last years extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers: Extended Edition is a treasure trove for fans of the film - there's so much new stuff spread throughout that it really is like revisiting a beloved classic and finding it to be twice the experience you remembered. I wont bother reviewing the movie we heard it all late last year, right? but at 3 and 3/4 hours, The Two Towers now has an epic running time to match its scope, so if ya hated it last time, you'll hate it even more now. Effects in the added scenes are of equal quality to those of the theatrical footage (and I caught this one in a crew screening a few weeks back, so is was based on seeing it on the big screen) despite many of these shots having been completed just for the DVD. Your arse'll be so numb youll think it up and died on ya and your bladder filled to bursting, but if you loved The Two Towers, youll also be oblivious to the pain and grinning like an idiot. Spoilers? Fuck, yeah:

SPOILERS BEGIN......................................................






OK... You asked for it!

From memory, here are the major additions:

- Extended opening, in which the hobbits scale a cliff face using the rope Galadriel gave Sam, including a better build-up to the arrival of Gollum.

- More friction between the Uruk-Hai and the Orcs as they transport Merry and Pippin back to Isengard, which better sets up the fight over food that takes place later.

- More scenes of Saruman breeding his army, creating better pacing as the invasion of Rohan begins

- Terrific scene in which Eomer finds the body of Theodred, Theodens son.

- Additional scenes with Merry and Pippin, including extensions to existing Treebeard scenes and the Ent Draught sequence, in which the hobbits grow. In another scene, Treebeards soporific poetry works its magic.

- Theodreds funeral scene, with Eowyn singing a lament.

- A wonderful introduction to Aragorns horse Brego, who we learn was Theodreds horse. Aragorn requests Brego be set free, which places his later rescue in better context.

- Additional scenes between Eowyn and Aragorn, including one in which he attempts to eat a bowl of evil-looking stew.

- More scenes between Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, which expand upon the films politics (including the union between the two towers Gandalf scene from the trailer, though that line is missing from what I can remember).

- More of Sarumans musings, setting up themes that will be explored in The Return of the King.

- Flashback to the circumstances surrounding Boromir being sent to Rivendell for the Council of Elrond, taking place during the re-taking of Osgiliath by the Gondorian army. This sequence briefly introduces John Noble as Denethor, a major character in The Return of the King. I was worried this sequence would seem like an indulgence, but its difficult to imagine the film without it; not only is the character of Faramir, much maligned by fans of the book, given added depth, so too is Boromir enriched by this addition.

- Just before the Ents storming of Isengard, the Huorns mobilise and leave to attend to business elsewhere; they reappear at Helms Deep to kill the Uruk-Hai as they flee.

- New ending, with Merry and Pippin finding a larder at Isengard, including two barrels of pipe-weed; a hilarious scene in which Gimli and Legolas compare their scores after the battle of Helms Deep; Frodo, Sam and Gollum are shown the way out of Osgiliath by Faramir, who threatens Gollum; theres even a brief moment in which Sam and Gollum appear to make peace.

- Along with all these major additions, many more scenes are subtly extended to give more information or reinforce themes already present.

SPOILERS END.........................................................

In all, its as much a treat for fans of The Two Towers as last years extended edition was to those of The Fellowship of the Ring if not more so, and despite the number of times Ive seen The Two Towers, I cant wait to see the Extended Edition again.


A quick mention should go to Eli Roths horror flick Cabin Fever, which screened in Wellington on Friday night as part of the New Zealand Film Festival with Roth in attendance to deliver a hilarious combination of Q & A and stand-up routine afterwards. Cringe-inducing, hair-raising splatter delivered with style, this is a crowd-pleaser, big-time and Roth takes it to a few places you cant believe hes willing to go: guys'll never feel up a chick again without sneaking a peek first, and girls'll find shaving their legs that much scarier. Roth is clearly one sick motherfucker, and he's loving every minute of it. So did last night's audience. Theres hope for splatter yet.

Speaking of which, Latauro, crime aint paying if I aint slaying and duty calls. Johnny Bartlett out.

Thanks, Johnny. What say we print the "first" review of RETURN OF THE KING? Up for it?


I’m about to move into a house with two friends, and a constant topic of conversation is, “Who gets the master bedroom?”. We then discussed what the non-financial penalties would be for the lucky one who eventually got the big room. When we went and saw TERMINATOR 3 a week or so back, the trailer for a new Australian film called TAKE AWAY came on. At the end, one of the two leaned over to me and said, “I just figured out what the penalty should be.” I appreciated the sentiment, but I didn’t think any room we could find would be big enough to justify having to sit through that film.

So the other day I get an invite to a press screening of TAKE AWAY, and I hesitated. Did I really want to give up two hours of my life for a film I would surely despise? Yes. Hell, yes. See, you’ve probably noticed that my reviews, of late, have been overwhelmingly positive. The last negative review I wrote was for MATRIX RELOADED, and I personally think I went way too easy on it. And that’s what sealed the deal; I wanted to write a negative review, I wanted to really take the pleasure of getting stuck into shite-in-celluloid-form shit, really prove my credibility by, y’know, not liking something.

Unfortunately, this is a pretty good film. It’s not brilliant, mind you. I think BAD EGGS is the superior film here (and I’m sorry I had to make the comparison, but there should have been more than a week between release dates), but this is far better than I expected it to be.

The story follows Tony (Vince Colosimo) and Trevor (Stephen Curry), two blokes who run fish’n’chip shops a few doors down from one another. The two are constantly trading barbs, and clearly have a bad-blood history. Things change when a multi-national fast food outlet opens next door (a not-at-all-disguised chain called ‘Burgies’), and the two realise that unless they team up and fight this thing, they’ll both soon be out of business.

From the inspired and unexpected opening prologue (featuring actor/comedians Francis Greenslade and Nicholas Bell), the film provides many unexpected laughs right through to the final set-piece. It may have been my low exceptions, but I laughed out loud at many moments over the film.

Though I enjoyed this film a lot (thanks in no small part to the transcendently gorgeous Rose Byrne), I’m not going to tell you to rush out and see it at the cinema. There’s nothing overly cinematic about it – possibly due to director Mark Gracie’s background in television. It is, however, a film that should enjoy a healthy life on video and DVD.

Still don’t know if it qualifies me for the bedroom, though.


When you’re dealing with a book as left-field as Chuck Barris’ Unauthorised Autobiography and it’s adapted by the oddest writer working today, you need to have some sort of style as a director. You need to know what you’re doing. There are gimmicks you just can’t resort to, because you can’t just turn a script loose and hope the best, same as you can’t direct a bad script into a good movie (Ridley Scott, please take note of the latter).

A lot of criticism has been leveled at George Clooney for aping Soderbergh’s style, and I gotta ask: has anybody seen a Steven Soderbergh film? Soderbergh is my favourite director, and I’ve been over his films with a fine tooth comb. I can spot his thumbprints a mile off. Clooney’s directing style is his own; his camera positions, the grading of images... we’ve seen these elements before, but it’s the way he pushes them, the way he combines them into a whole that’s unique. The telephone call that Chuck Barris makes when he finds out he’s got a greenlight for “The Dating Game” – that scene is totally owned by Clooney. The way he incorporates Drew Barrymore’s character into the shot just floored me. It’s the style that the film deserved.

Though the directing enhanced what was a very funny and unexpected script, there is one problem I had with it that no touch of style could overcome. As a story, it’s missing the through-way link that pushes it from beginning to end. It’s too plot-oriented to be a life story, and too ambling to be a complete thing. It’s a minor complaint, but one that might not have existed had it been adapted by someone other than Kaufman. Though Kaufman is hands-down my favourite writer working in cinema, structure is not his strong suit (as he mentioned in ADAPTATION).

I’m aware this review seems a little sleep-deprived; it’s because we caught a late viewing of the film (forcing us to miss the MIFF screening of UNDEAD... it’s okay, there’s another one in a week or two), and I’m about three weeks beyond the last good night of rest I had. But before my head hits the table... Lat like... Lat recommends... zzzzzzzz....


- Willem Dafoe signs on for AUTO FOCUS 2: OUT OF FOCUS.

- Brittany Murphy to play a happy-go-lucky anti-abortion activist in LAND ON YOUR FOETUS.

- “Buffy” writer David Fury forms production company with musician Dani Filth, but the two are yet to think of a clever name for the business.

Peace out,


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