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AICN-Downunder: 9 Songs; Kingdom of Heaven; Jewboy; Macbeth; Doctor Who; Revenge of the Sith

Father Geek here with Latauro's regular weekly report from Downunder...

Uncommon beauty is commonly overlooked.


I have a vague policy on not reporting on TV-related stuff. This is more of a cinema-based column, designed to draw the attention of Aussies, Kiwis and "Others" to locally-made films, as well as big budget films released (or not, as the case may sometimes be) down here.

When it comes to "Doctor Who", though, I break the rules. Here's "The Ferret":

Long-time Doctor Who fan, first-time traveler. Er.

Doctor Who is thankfully coming to Australia's ABC (their BBC equivalent) sometime in May, and tease us as they will with short trailers these last few weeks, they just won't give us an air-date.

However, after a little bit of URL-fiddling with their online TV guide that normally only lets you see one day ahead, I can proudly, exclusively and very excitedly announce that all us poor souls in Australia - especially Brits like me that left the motherland for this sunnier country at the exact wrong moment - that the first episode of new series of Doctor Who will air at 7:30pm on Saturday the 21st March.

Link to the programme and air-date details are here: and the rest of the days naturally inferior viewing is here:

Nice to see they've billed it as "must-see TV" (and I'm sure it is) and I hope they don't butcher it the same way they did with Christopher Eccleston's and Russell T Davis' "The Second Coming" last Sunday - which was probably only shown to raise awareness of the new Doctor Who lead - cutting it's running time from 144 minutes to 110! if you use this, call me The Ferret!

I will. I will indeed.


As reported on this site this week past, STAR WARS - EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH has received an M rating in Australia, which is equivalent to PG13 in the US. To correct the eagre scooper's claim, those of you under the age of 15 still can see the film, and you don't even need a guardian to buy you a ticket. You will need a guardian, however, if you wish to pick up some booze and cigs afterwards.

* Australian site Moviehole was, to my knowledge, the first to report on two new additions to the cast of Geoffrey Wright's "Macbeth" knockoff, M. Lachy Hulme (MATRIX REVOLUTIONS) and Victoria Hill (SIAM SUNSET) have jumped on board alongside lead Sam Worthington (DIRTY DEEDS, SOMERSAULT). Hulme will play Macduff and Hill will play Lady Macbeth. The film, which will soon begin its Melbourne shoot, will apparently stick to the iambic pentameter Shakespeare was so fond of, and not resort to some half-arsed trochaic triameter.

* Remember that BLACK SHEEP film I mentioned last week? You have to check this out: It's Weta Workshop's predproduction designs for the film, and they're both funny and disturbing in equal parts. Click on the link, it's an absolute pisser. Oh, and last week I apparently last week I said it was four million people versus four million sheep. That should be FORTY million sheep. That should raise the steaks! (If you want to use that as a tagline, Jonathon, you're more than welcome.)



Thanks in part to its successful entry into Cannes, Tony Krawtiz's Australian short JEWBOY has sold its worldwide rights to Fortissimo Films, so you may see it in your various territories yet.


It's nice to the GUIDE take out top spot. I may not have flipped out over the film, I may have been just a little disappointed by it, but I still wish it every success, and I'm glad to see Australian filmgoers have knocked it up to number one. So long, flabby Vin Diesel substitute!







John C. Reilly reprises his role as "actor" in a new film, National Geographic makes the mistake of hiring the Ephrons to make a documentary about Afghanistan, Orlando Bloom liberates Jerusalem once and for all, Germany explores its Nazi past just in time for Mother's Day, Kevin Bacon doesn't mind doing for the kids, and oh my God the pain the pain the pain of it all.








If you're a regular reader of AICN-D, you might recall the furore over 9 SONGS, the English film containing unsimulated sex. It was initially refused classification, but won an R18+ rating on appeal. I didn't hide my opinion on the matter; I was all for the film's release. Well, it comes out next week, and my review is below. So, was it worth all the trouble? Was it worth classification? I can answer that now: yes. Whether the film is good or bad isn't the issue; it's about freedom of speech and censorship. Whether the film is good or bad *is* an issue if you're thinking of seeing it, so for a discussion about that, scroll ever downwards (although you might want to take a gander at the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN review first).


I saw KINGDOM OF HEAVEN on Tuesday. Tuesday was an interesting day. Not only were neck pains preventing me from turning my head too far in either direction, but I also came down with a head cold. The head cold coincided with the latest in a series of fairly severe headaches I've been having, and that wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that during all this I got food poisoning. I guess you could say it wasn't the greatest birthday ever.

It's a miracle, then, that I can still remember the fifteen hours I spent in a cinema before all of the above happened. I can tell you now that KINGDOM OF HEAVEN pretty much lives up to GLADIATOR, and that only helps you out if you know what I thought of GLADIATOR. So here it is. Like many, I thought GLADIATOR had an interesting first half and a meandering second half. I've spoken before about my opinion on the film's writer, John Logan, and his middle-of-the-road scripts. He runs hot and cold in equal measure (his worst moment was STAR TREK: NEMESIS, his best was THE AVIATOR), but after KINGDOM I'm wondering if we should be so ready to forgive Ridley.

Sir Scott is as great as painting a palette as he is at being unable to spot a bad script. And if you think that sentence didn't make sense, I got more like that one. My first big problem? How thoroughly un-epic the latest spate of epics have been. A friend pointed this out to me after GLADIATOR. While I thought Ridley's direction had itself felt epic and grand, there was still something missing, and I couldn't put my finger on it. It was noted that the film took place over a few months, max. What happened to BEN HUR and THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and the years upon years that these stories span? Hell, TROY already had the seven years built into its story, and yet the writers still opted to cramming it down into a few weeks. For some reason, modern epics choose a shorter time span and the stories suffer. If only they chose a shorter running time, the audience wouldn't have to suffer.

Really. This film could have been an hour shorter and not lost anything, much like the overrated BLACK HAWK DOWN. Not to say it's a bad film. There's nothing specifically wrong with it, other than there's nothing particularly original or engaging about the story. The film - in addition to Ridley's comments in the press - suggests that he just wanted to direct some sword scenes and some sieges and cool shit like that. Those scenes are, mostly, very cool. There's some great direction, beautiful cinematography, phenomenal set design and flawless CGI. The whole exercise, however, feels far too hollow, and the story lacks any sort of originality.

The biggest problem with the film seems to be the clunky way it seems to push the oh-so-modern Christians and Jews and Muslims should all live together in harmony. That's not a bad message in and of itself, but the script really could have found a better way to say it that, oh, I don't know, putting those words in the mouths of our main characters! Sheesh!

Orlando Bloom is fairly good in the lead role. There's nothing specifically wrong with his acting, but he lacks a certain amount of screen presence. It's not something he can really do much about, other than always ensure he has a Mortensen or Depp to play off. It's nice to see Eva Green getting more work, although her role is rather thankless. Jeremy Irons is usually better than this, here living up to the moniker bestowed upon him by Chris Rock at the Oscars this year.

The only thing I can really recommend about this film is the battle scenes. I know a lot of people go to these things purely for those, and so they might be satisfied with it. For the rest of you, stay home and dust off the special edition of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.


Matt is in the Antarctic as part of his work, and reflects upon his relationship with free-spirited 21-year-old Lisa. We don't know how long it's been since they broke up, but it's obviously weighing heavily on his mind. He doesn't linger on the cute or even significant moments of the relationship; only on the moments that stick out his mind. Mostly, sex and concerts.

It's a clever conceit, and works really well. I was surprised, watching it, that no one had really captured the essence of memories on film. ETERNAL SUNSHINE came close, but the surrealism of it (Carrey playing himself as a five-year-old, teenager, etc) made it into something different. There's no real plot to speak of, and not even a terrible amount of character development. It really is just a collection of memories, and works as an aesthetic, almost experimental film, rather than a straight narrative. I'd say it has more in common with films like ELEPHANT or RUSSIAN ARK than IRREVERSIBLE or ANATOMY OF HELL.

It's a good thing, then, that the film doesn't outstay its welcome. It runs for about seventy minutes, which feels like the perfect time. There's no vain attempt to fill out the running time (like, say, a thirty second title card devoted to the assistant best boy, a la WALKING TALL). It's nice to see a film taking the length of time it needs, and that time being unashamedly short.

The live performances are really well captured. Of course, all they did was stand in the crowd with DV cameras, but it's a much more honest depiction of live performances than the usual close ups and "on stage" stuff we usually get. The bands themselves work on many levels: aside from the fact that it's always great to see the Dandy Warhols, the Von Bondies, Franz Ferdinand and the like, they seem like the perfect bands with which to capture that "here and now" feeling. Years later, we'll look back at this film and marvel at what great music we had in 2004 (thankfully forgetting all the shite music we have, which is the point to carefully choosing the more interesting acts out there. The music does serve a point, though. With the possible exception of smells, music evokes memories more potently than anything else, and every musical recollection he has leads directly into a recollection of his relationship with Lisa.

Those recollections almost exclusively revolve around sex. It's hard to describe here - which, I suppose, is a credit to Winterbottom's masterful use of his medium - but it works. If you think back to someone you had a particularly intense physical relationship with, those moments seem to be the ones you remember. Intense sex. Strange things she'd say. Arguments that didn't seem to be about anything. Little snippets here and there that stick out in your memory. That's all you're given in our protagonists' relationship, and that's all that's needed. There's no cute story about how they got together, no tragic reason why they fell apart, no last minute dash to the airport. It's just a collection of memories of what we know to be a very real relationship; we know because we're shown the actual, genuine intimacy they shared, and the film is better for it.


- Bernie Mac to star as Benjamin P. Ghandi in the New York-set remake of Richard Attenborough's film, entitled GHAN'S THE MAN!

- Michael Keaton uses a crystal ball and a ouija board to find a high-profile Australian director who's willing to cast him in something in WHITE NOYCE

- Michael Winterbottom will direct and star as Henry II in his beastiality-themed follow-up to NINE SONGS, entitled A LION IN WINTERBOTTOM

Peace out,


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