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The Second-To-Last AICN-Downunder Of 2006!!

I'm speaking clear penguin! AICN-DOWNUNDER Greetings, and welcome to another installment of Latauro plugs his sho-- er, AICN-Downunder. Very little to report at the moment, and I'll be putting my end of year wrap-up together soon (in the usual AICN-Downunder Annual) so I won't do that here. Hm. That leaves me very little to do. Anyone here from the internet? Tough crowd. (Don't forget Lat's hosting his own TV show! Go to to see the most recent episodes, including an interview with Dr George Miller!) NEWS Not much news at the moment, which is why I deliberately put a mistake in the last column so I'd have something to write about this week. Okay, so I was pretty sure that NZ had the same ratings system at us, and it was 2am when I saw "BLACK SHEEP has been given an R13 rating", and morphed the 3 into an 8 in my mind. The "good news" I proclaimed last column about BLACK SHEEP being restricted to those over eighteen? Not true, which is why it's good that I was speaking such utter nonsense. Thank you to the film's director Jonathan King, Black Magic's Mark Wilcox, and, well, most of the population of New Zealand for writing in and correcting me. On another note, I was emailed the link to the trailer, which kicks all the arse I was hoping to. If you haven't seen it go to the BLACK SHEEP website. I'll try not to spoil my favourite moment, which is actually a tagline read my Mr Voice. Speaking of Black Magic, the site's posted a couple of stills from 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, the vampire flick currently shooting in New Zealand. They're not the most groundbreaking things in the world, but I thought they were cool and worth checking out. Only 'cos it's the silly season (what does that term even mean?) do I bother mentioning this, but the "Fresh Prince" has sent in a piece that appeared in The Telegraph over in England. Apparently, Australian actor Alan Dale (known best for his roles on "24", "West Wing" and as the rich grandfather in "The OC") is up for a role in THE DARK KNIGHT. They don't know, however, which role Dale will be playing. My money's on Harley Quinn, but we'll apparently find out in March when the full cast is revealed. BOX OFFICE Two Brits sandwiching a collection of fake animals. Sounds like a burger you'd get at... actually, I might abandon this joke. I don't think it's going anywhere special. 1. CASINO ROYALE 2. ERAGON 3. CHARLOTTE'S WEB 4. OPEN SEASON 5. BORAT RELEASED THESE PAST TWO WEEKS< Martin Scorsese's next film gets its initial Chinese-based run, a CGI film tries to capture the realism of clay figures, a French sex comedy reminds me of the words of Matt Groening, and Pedro Almodovar becomes a "bloody VOLVER helmer". CONFESSION OF PAIN FLUSHED AWAY THE VALET VOLVER REVIEWS Let's call these mini-reviews, which is a cutesy way of saying "Lat is overworked and can't be arsed writing lengthy critiques".

HAPPY FEET A fun animated film that isn't a complete carbon copy of all the other animal adventure films we're sick of seeing the trailers for. An important (yet strangely subversive) message about acceptance and the rejection of dogma (but not religion, hence the final shot!) that should be shown to all children.

DREAMGIRLS What utter crap. No, I'm not joking. This isn't one of those saying-the-opposite joke reviews where I make my point by pretending to make the opposite point. I really, really don't like this film. And I can't believe that other people do. I know this has been appearing on a lot of Best Of lists and this is going to be a minority opinion, but the three people I saw it with all felt the same way. And it's not even like I'm biased against musicals. Matter of fact, musicals are my favourite genre. Most people have a problem with the artifice of musicals; I love them because I feel they strip away artifice to produce something that is purely cinematic. While the cinematography, the score, the editing is usually there to create a heightened sense of reality, it's the actors who typically try to pull it in the other direction by to bring things back to reality with naturalistic dialogue and performances. When you see a musical and actors burst into song and dance, it's the closest you'll see to actors becoming as stylised as the other film elements. In that sense, I consider musicals to be one of the purest forms of cinema. If anything, I'm biased towards musicals, rather than against them. There are two kinds of musicals. One kind is the one where all the singing takes place in a diagetic construct, be it in a recording studio, on a stage, or during any kind of in-film "performance". The other is a type of fantasy, where people burst into song at any conceivable moment, and there's no explanation as to where the music is coming from. This is the more common one. DREAMGIRLS begins as one, and then -- far too late into its running time -- it suddenly switches gears and everybody starts singing off-stage. It's a bit jarring, not least of all because the song they're singing is so overwrought and poorly-written. My jaw was hanging open during this sequence, and I began looking around the room to make sure everyone else was watching the same film I was. I couldn't believe it. In place of dramatic tension in DREAMGIRLS is a checklist of "moments" they need to have in order to tell the epic, twenty year-long story they're going for. It ends up feeling more like a compilation edited together as a late night TV filler programme than an actual narrative. Yes, Eddie Murphy's pretty good (though tremendously overrated in this film; is everyone so desperate to get him back from all those crap family comedies that they're willing to praise him for a fairly standard performance in an Oscar-buzzy film?) and the girl whose name I don't know that everybody keeps going on about is also quite good, but that's about it. For a film about music... scratch that, for a musical about musicals, this film had no right having such poor music throughout. Like I said, I know I'm in the minority here. You're probably going to see this film and disagree entirely with me. Or, you've already seen it, and you're going to flame me for not "getting" it. The thing is, I get it. I just don't like it. (Post script note: If you do end up seeing it, make sure you stay for the end credits for one of the most ludicrous montages I've ever seen. Mr Condon, you may as well have had a subtitle that read "For Your Consideration" underneath. Utterly preposterous.)

BLOOD DIAMOND This is a pretty good film that went for too long and I wasn't overly wild about it. You know the standard Ed Zwick character that we all make fun of? The white man there to save the ethnic majority? It ain't DiCaprio. His character actually works really well in the film. It's Jennifer Connolly. She's the wild card here, and could be removed pretty seamlessly from the proceedings. This is a damn sight better than Zwick's THE LAST SAMURAI, and worth seeing if you want to be reminded of just how frigging good DiCaprio can be, but nothing I'd break my neck over rushing out to see. NEXT WEEK - The Wayans Brothers will adapt the LONE WOLF AND CUB films into a sequel to LITTLE MAN - Val Kilmer is finally confirmed for the REAL GENIUS sequel, entitled THE CHRIS KNIGHT RETURNS - Movement on INDIANA JONES IV becomes so slow that copies of THE LAST CRUSADE begin disappearing. Peace out, Latauro

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