- Eversmile New Jersey -
- My Left Foot -
- The Crucible -
- The Last of the Mohicans -
- The Ballad of Jack and Rose - (this one is just to clear the house in case any one is still around)

See you there!

PS--My ex-housemate took away his projector so we'll have to watch these on a small television screen.

PPS--My small television screen just crapped itself and died, so we'll have to watch these on my even smaller computer monitor, only my graphics card isn't working right now so the image will be a bit stretched and warped. You'll get used to it eventually, thanks to our good friend perceptual consistency.

Time to get personal.

I'd like to take some time off talking about movies and start talking a little bit about my job - the movies. I can't talk about my job too often to people because it turns out that not many people really care all that much about movies. I've seen people roll their eyes at me when I tell them what I do, other people say "oh, the movies, huh? Must be good money in that!" Well, no, there isn't, but there is a lot of sentimentality for my work, if I cared any less about film I would have left a long time ago.

I have been given the immense responsibility to make sure certain blockbuster events have their exposure to many locations all around Queensland (basically I despatch boxes of 35mm film and/or hard drives to cinemas). The distributers I work with are "clients", but they really function more like my bosses, as they are the ones ultimately responsible for my paycheck. This week I was responsible for the third installment of the TWILIGHT saga, "ECLIPSE", and although I will never see this movie in my life (the only exception is if it gets a Rifftrax commentary) I can say I have had a kind of connection with this movie, a bonding, in a special sort of way.

Each movie title I deal with, there is always a kind of bonding with it. I make sure I am aware of what the film I'm dealing with is about - and I don't really have to - and take special care of the distribution, because I do care, even if I don't care about the movie. Some films I am extremely glad to have had a relationship with, particularly some Universal titles like A SERIOUS MAN or CORALINE, two films that constantly give me despatch troubles to this day, but they are truly worth the effort for they are excellent films. I regret that INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS has fallen flat, because that film was great too. But even films like BABY MAMA, THE MUMMY III and MAMMA MIA! (all of which were being screened at different places at the same time) are memories that have shaped my journey. That's more than I can say about some of my favourite films of all time.

Up until now with TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE - where every cinema wanted to marathon the first two prequels on the opening night causing one of the most busiest and emotional weeks in my life -, a film distributed by Hoyts (who I started working for only this year), I would have to say the two other biggest ordeals of this job were involving Twentieth Century-Fox, namely AUSTRALIA and AVATAR. Other than having to send out ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at least thrice a year, these two films have had the biggest impact on me (the result of big-shot directors making last-minute adjustments), and I haven't even seen AUSTRALIA. But perhaps I am fortunate enough to start this job when I did (I started in July 2008), hearing stories about what the guy before me had to go through with the STAR WARS movies (Episodes I, 2 and 3), and TITANIC as well.

I can't say my clients are wholly dependent on me to make sure their blockbusters or whatever film of the week gets its complete exposure; if I were to quit on the spot then someone else will easily replace me. But responsibility is responsibility, and although times get stressful, thinking about how big a role I have in looking after an entire state of a country makes it all worth while. Just don't talk to me about the fucking A-TEAM. Just...don't.


(This post will remain pictureless)


I have recently been going on an Alfred Hitchcock-spree, not so much "getting into" his movies but more like "catching up". I've already seen PSYCHO and I think enough has been said about that movie by others so I will not go into length about it right now. I recently caught up with ROPE, which I consider more of an experiment rather than a film, however I still enjoyed it and not much needs to be said other than appreciating it for its technical feats (and follies) --NOTE: between writing the first draft of this post and now I also saw THE BIRDS and it was fantastic, but will require its own posting after this-- The film I will be discussing here is VERTIGO, but first I must express my feelings towards Hitchcock in general.


I am not a Hitchcock fan. The closest I can get to love the majority of his work is if I loved to hate them (THE BIRDS and ROPE excluded). The reasons why will be discussed using VERTIGO as the prime example, but the fact remains is that Hitchcock is a lasting influence for film-makers and story tellers to this day, if not then he is an influence of the influences. I can understand this, although I'm a fan of Orson Welles and he is considered influential to Hitchcock (compare TOUCH OF EVIL where Janet Leigh gets into trouble at an out-of-way motel with PSYCHO where Janet Leigh gets into trouble at an out-of-way motel). Hitchcock did things differently and told stories in new and exciting ways, in doing so creating everlasting conventions which have stuck with the modern film-makers of our time. Very often you find people making films refering to a scene as a "Hitchcock moment" or talking about "what Hitchcock would do", so where else is a better place to look for the leading moments of cinema than from the leader himself? This is when I decided to watch VERTIGO.


VERTIGO contains everything I love and hate about Hitchcock. VERTIGO was apparently Hitchcock's "personal masterpiece", the one he self-indulged in the most out of all his films, the one he had to struggle with the most to get made. All the greats have them: Miyazaki has PRINCESS MONONOKE, Kubrick has EYES WIDE SHUT, Welles has CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, Hanake has TIME OF THE WOLF, Kurasawa has RAN and Werner Herzog has just about every film he's ever made. These are the films that are the most difficult to sit through but the most revealing of its creator; and the most rewarding to the creator's ardent fans. You only really watch them in order to understand your heroes on a more personal level, like they are opening up their deepest secrets and fears just for you, but you have to prove your worth by actually making it to the end of the film first (not as easy as it sounds), then you can start appreciating the depth of what you just saw. Research is an important factor in understanding these types of movies, it's equally important to have seen the entire body of work from the director, or as much as you possibly can. Naturally, I dived right into VERTIGO without doing any of this, so my review will be biased towards the more "casual viewer" mentality.


VERTIGO suffers from an ailment in film-maiking I call the "Hitchcock Stale". Many horror movies and, oddly enough, comic-book adaptations suffer from this. It's not to say Hitchcock invented it, but Hitchcock truly defines it and mastered it as his trademark. The "Hitchcock Stale" is made up of a combination of many symptoms, mainly to do with the director's total demand for complete control. Firstly, Hitchcock commisions a script to be written, commonly adapted from a book - sometimes the book is commissioned by Hitchcock - and adapted by a rotation of screenwriters. Once the script is approved by Hitchcock then he will never deviate from it. These scripts, by the way, are written more like shot-lists; basically the movie is already made before it is even filmed. It is frustrating for me when I can clearly notice a film-maker unable to "let go", the ones who suffer the most are the actors. The actors are not given any breathing room to give life to their characters. The spoken lines are flatly delivered, the movements are mechanical. I don't think it should be required of me to pay extra attention to a casual mundane conversation when it reveals required exposition. It's hard enough in an Orson Welles movie where he constantly provides visual distractions during an important complex conversation, Hitchcock on the other hand is boring me to sleep.

Another symptom of "Hitchcock Stale" is almost metaphorically egregious in VERTIGO. The protagonist's acrophobia - irrational fear of heights - seems to reflect Hitchcock's irrational fear of shooting on location. I wouldn't be surprised if all the outside scenes were shot by second-unit. A particular moment of conspicuous staleness is a scene with James Stewart and Kim Novac supposedly on a bay of rocks by the ocean, but obviously super-imposed over a pre-photographed movie behind them (including complimentary fake wind generated by off-screen fan). Hitchcock believes that close-ups must be shot with studio lighting, however I'm too distracted by the studio lighting on the actors mis-matching with the natural lighting of the outside location (a common problem that is noticeable on compositing special effects to this day). I'm guessing Hitchcock wanted to time a specific tidal-crash to a specific point of the conversation, but really, who cares?


Despite its staleness, there are parts of VERTIGO I found extremely impressive, and I see in these parts where the Hitchcock inspiration comes from. Perhaps Hitchcock's inability to "let go" comes from the great ideas he has to tell a story. I think the parts that shine the most in VERTIGO are the parts where Hitchcock puts faith in his collaborators. After a particularly long and boring expositional conversation (where I mentioned I nearly fell asleep) there is an extremely long set of scenes - almost like a slowed down montage - that eliminates dialogue altogether. It is here when the music of Bernard Hermann does the talking and I was able to become emersed in the world of the film. I don't know whether it's true or not that Hitchcock snatched Hermann from seeing CITIZEN KANE, but he certainly saw the benefits of putting more trust in the composer than anyone else (Bernard Hermann was even given credit as "sound adviser" on THE BIRDS, which was a scoreless movie save for the synthesised bird sounds).

I liked the editing of VERTIGO. There is a particular moment when James Stewart is following a car that seems to drive endlessly down-hill, which we can see is an editing trick that cuts out any flat-road or up-hill driving, but also an editing effect which expertly inserts the protagonist's distorted perspective into the viewer. Another distorting effect on the viewer is when it gives an "ending" about half-way through the film, and then provides a coda which seems to keep going and going, then you realise after thirty minutes or so that maybe there is more to the story, and you have to kind of re-position yourself to get back into the movie again. Unless that's just me, I don't know.


(more to come)


More often than you think. The story imposes itself as a challenge for the viewer to deconstruct, constantly alienating while manipulating them simultaneously. The film is drawn into its own self-awareness, as if giving criticism of the story within the story itself.

Of the two characters interchangebly called "Peter and Paul", "Tom and Jerry" or "Beavis and Butt-Head" (I can't remember who's called what), I will refer to them as "the tall one" and "the fat one" based on Haneke's own explanation that they are modelled off a stereotypical clown duo.


The opening titles at the very beginning contains a visceral moment of immediate alienation. The family are enjoying a road game of "Guess the Opera" when all of a sudden Haneke deploys non-diegetic music with no warning whatsoever. It is a very loud, brutal and dissonant type of art/noise-thrash (by New York art/jazz musician John Zorn) purely designed to shock and put you into discomfort. Even for a lover of abrasive noise music like myself, it's the juxtaposition of the sound against the smiling, loving faces of the family that conveys the sense of bother.

The brilliance of this moment is only realised much later in the film; the scene when the boy escapes to their neighbour's house to hide. The tall one chases after him and plays a sort of "Hide and Seek" game in the house. Here he puts on a CD and once again it is John Zorn, only this time it's diegetic. The first logical question to ask is "where did this CD come from?" Certainly a burgeois household of this sort wouldn't have anything of such taste in their collection? It's not impossible, but it is extremely out of character. The answer might be that the tall one (who has by now physically looked past the fourth wall and spoken words to the viewer) must have brought the CD with him. One could even say that Haneke passed it over from behind the camera while we were looking somewhere else. Thinking back to the opening title sequence, and even the ending credits, perhaps the tall one has some control over the film's output from behind the fourth wall the whole time?


FUNNY GAMES is so full of blatant narrative conventions it almost feels like Haneke's great big inside joke. I won't be able to discuss all of them here, but there are a few subtle examples that stick out in my mind more than any others.

Firstly there is the boat's knife.

Although it has already been established that the boy has borrowed a knife and taken it to the boat, Haneke wanted us to make sure we notice that knife by giving it its own insert-shot. In fictional analysis this is referred to as "Chekhov's Gun" (Chekhov says that if you introduce a rifle in the first chapter it must absolutely go off in the second or third chapter, otherwise don't introduce it at all). If it's not obvious enough that we see the knife, when the rope pulls it in the boat we get an exaggerated whooshing sound which indicates about the same amount of power as Xena: Warrior Princess waving around her broad-sword. The knife turns out to be a Red Herring (when "Chekhov's Gun" turns out to be completely useless) but we do see the real gun at another point in the movie.

So anyway, why does the dog bark so much at these two guys?

We saw it just earlier when it was much more playful and obedient. It doesn't seem like the vicious protective type, but then it goes berserk as soon as--oh.. oh right, they're the bad guys.

Then there's the golf ball.

The same could be said about the eggs, but what does the golf ball represent? It seems to come off as being significant as it makes pivitol appearances in the story. Is it a symbol of anxiety? The every-day noose around the neck one is trying to escape from in this sport, or rather luxury, designed for the upper-middle class? But really, I think it's just a McGuffin. It pretends to signify something important but its only use is to say "here I am! Time to move the plot forward." It's a kind of device that stares at you directly, and silently, so in reality it's not directly criticising you, it makes you resort to criticising yourself.

The golf ball is one of many psychological effects this movie has on the viewer. My favourite scene is also the most difficult scene for me to sit through. It is when the fat one is innocently asking for some eggs on behalf of the neighbour. Although the characters are polite and well adjusted, there is an incredible tension building increasingly as the scene goes on, and it's always there no matter how many times I watch it. You know the plot of the film - two intruders enter a family's vacation house and terrorise them until they are all slaughtered by the morning - so the eggs scene is the obvious build-up before the terror; we only came to see this movie for the terror. But the scene, it is drawn out for an excruciatingly long time, in my head I'm screaming "TAKE ME TO THE VIOLENCE ALREADY!!!" It is here when Haneke shows you who you really are. He says so himself in an interview:

Basically, you have the option to sit there and take it, or just walk away.

Just walk away...


(more to come)


A few years back I watched a Korean movie called The Tale of the Two Sisters. I found the actresses who play the "two sisters" cute looking, like I do with most Koreans, so I thought I'd check it out for cuteness sake. It was pretty good, but spoiled with a cliché ending that ripped off another movie that begins with "F" and ends with "ight Club". Unlike that other particular movie, the ending of Two Sisters didn't manage to invoke a second viewing, so I left it at that.

Last year, a film was released called The Uninvited, and it was an American remake of Two Sisters. My first thought was "oh jeez" but then I noticed one of the actresses was Emily Browning, who previously made it big in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events; which I haven't seen but I often noted the remarkable cuteness of Browning. In The Uninvited she's now a semi-grown up young woman but still retains the baby-cuteness that draws me in to the places I often forbid myself to go (I'm talking about bad movies *er-her-hem*).

A pre-warning: I'm not going to be posting pictures in this one. Due to technical difficulties it is too much effort, so just go on imdb and see the pictures there for reference.

I watched The Uninvited recently, and it was pretty bad by the standards of a critical thinker like me. To briefly point out the things that turned me off: It was really awkward to sit through. Even if it is your intention to make a scene awkward, it doesn't make it any easier to watch, so I'd make sure to handle awkwardness with a deep purpose and to a total effect (I had the same problem with Where the Wild Things Are even though it was an exercise in eye-guaging beauty). It has one long drawn out scene with a therapist, which turns me off instantly. I consider the process of making a film itself as a form of therapy, so it's redundant (not an enhancement) to add a therapy session in the story. There was Internet-searching as plot development. No amount of horror in movies will reach the amount of horror that is the Internet, not to mention it was handled a bit sloppily. To a seasoned horror-movie watcher this film's "scary" moments are pretty tame, and they didn't add much to the story, they seemed just slapped in as some kind of unexplained supernatural existence for the sake of shock value. The twist ending was an anticlimax, which I don't think was intentional.

This movie was worth sitting through, in the end. It was saved by the sublime beauty of Emily Browning. If ever the film were to veer off into awkwardness and drawling plot development, my eyes can wonder and absorb the unending aesthetic overload of Browning's presence; since fortunately for me, she is the film's centre. Whether or not she was capable of carrying the film on her shoulders I couldn't care less, I was too busy getting lost in her hazel eyes, her perfect lips, the contours of her cheeks, the softness, the perfection. She is the highest achievement in beauty, she is Beethoven's 9th, she is Pachelbel's "Canon in D Major" sung by the voices of the Angels in Heaven. In every scene I'd fall in love, then fall in love with falling in love, then fall in love with falling in metalove, then fall in metalove with falling in metalove. You get the picture. I need a girlfriend, I know.

Emily Browning is an Australian actress. If you've lived in Australia then you'd notice she is undeniably Australian looking, some might say she's a "bloody fine sheila" (other acceptable mysoginistic Aussie white trash terms might be "hot chicky-babe" or "you-little-beauty"). It's hard to get past the opening scene where she's kissing some surfer dude at a party (the kind where little kids get naughty), but he dies (whoops! Spoiler) so I got over it eventually. The original Korean version didn't have any love interest, which is probably what ended up bothering me about it. The older sister, played by Arielle Kebbel, was also nice looking, but she had this "Maggie Gylenhaal from Donnie Darko" party-gal feel which didn't interest me very much. There was plenty of eye-candy to be had with bathing suits and a bit of (body double?) underwear nudity, oh yeah and that dress with maximum "whoah-mama" cleavage.

In conclusion, the faults of the film were of no faults of the actors, they did the best they could with what they had. The story and the scenes were not completely thought through, there are better ways to convey the feelings of dominance or fear in characters, there are better ways to convey a sense of unease in a viewer, it doesn't have to result and resort to awkwardness; unless the story truly calls for it. But I pose the question: Can bad films be saved by beauty? My answer is that it makes it easier to stomach, like a spoonful of sugar to make the pain more swollowable.


When I went and saw Kick Ass, thanks to the highly esteemed recommendation from a friend - whose opinion I trust - it was unfortunate that I was gritting my teeth through the whole film and could only breathe a sigh of relief when the credits rolled so I could get the hell out (I only sat through the whole movie to give it the benefit of the doubt, thanks to the "friend"). My thoughts while watching it were "what the heck are they doing? How can our society take such backwards strides into its own depravity?! Do these people know what they are?" and I realise it is because I have already previously seen Funny Games - multiple times - and Kick Ass seems to obvliviously commit every sin that Haneke has been criticising all these years, not to mention other master film makers like Sergio Leone, Kubrick, Orson Welles, Scorcese and even Tarantino. These sins include - glorifying violence for the sake of being so bloody it loses any effect, which includes the act of drawing out the violence for an extremely long time, being unaware that the viewer is an accomplice to the acts of violence this is also a very sadistic thing to do. There is no build up to the violence, the violence doesn't happen in quick bursts. I figured it was universally known that violence in cinema is about an emotional response, therefore it must be over almost just as it started, so that the pain of the act lingers as we have to think about it. If the violence is drawn out then the effect is quickly drained and all we are left to think about is what kind of make-up job did the actor(s) have to get to make it look like they're so bruised and bloody. Kick Ass has its few moments of genuine shock value, but they amount to nothing if the rest of the film is just some escapist teenage high school drama. Its overuse of campy indie-music soundtrack and lazy voice-over narrative doesn't help the film either.

I propose a thought experiment. The premise is this: What would a comic-book superhero movie be like if it was made by Michael Haneke? Now there is already a superhero deconstructionist story in Watchmen, yet I think Zack Snyder's film also suffers from the same sins as Kick Ass; explicit on-screen gore, choreographed fight scenes, over-indulgence in music choices which only devalues the intensity of the story and the power of music itself. Watchmen was a good effort, I particularly loved the opening sequences, but it suffered from style-over-substance which could not keep up with how well written the graphic novel is. I propose a different kind of superhero movie, and this is it how it might turn out:

All of a sudden, brutal acts of violence are cropping up around the city against criminals, who are all usually killed in some horribly painful way and left with a note signed by the mysterious masked vigilante. There is one criminal who survives but is in a critical state and remains in hospital. The masked vigilante's identity is never revealed throughout the movie, but we have our suspicions on an ensemble of cast memebers who are effected by the events. Is it the nurse who watches over the hospitalised criminal (who also takes martial arts classes for necessary self defense)? Is it the police man (or woman?) who is working on the case to find the masked vigilante, and who is also trained in martial arts? Is it the journalist who is covering the story? The vigilante is covered in the media in negative bias, but we learn the public have a secret yearning for a "hero" and lap up all the sensationalisation in the news. After some brutal confrontation, the next note left by the "hero" is leeked to the newspapers and published in full. It says that the next criminal to be caught will face a public execution. Tensions rise in the air, but finally a gang of twenty or so criminals plan a mass escapade of crime. The hospitalised criminal eventually dies and his daughter is now orphaned, she starts taking martial arts classes and the first thing she is taught is that the art of fighting is to "fight without fighting". That night the large gang of criminals go on a spree and sure enough our "hero" shows up and displays an inhuman fighting power - twisting the words "fighting without fighting" to a dark interpretation being more like a one-sided slaughterfest. None of the violence is explicitly shown on screen which only makes it more visceral (except maybe an arm break). Naturally the music will only be diegetic, else none at all - long moments of stark silence to represent the tension of piling guilt. The next morning will reveal the shocking climax, all criminals in the gang are hanging by their necks in the area for all the public to witness in horror. Following this is a public outcry through the media leading to the politicians announcing a decree of vengeance against the "masked villian who has overstepped the line of vigilanteism". Finally, the costume is burned in small fire in the outskirts of the city, the shadowy stranger walks away in the night, never to be known. Oh yeah, and the children will cry at some point.


I know I have left previous posts unfinished. The truth is I have prematurely reached catharsis a lot earlier than I originally planned the post-length to be. If anyone reading this wants me to finish them then just say so, otherwise I will go on assuming that I am only writing these for my own self-fulfillment; however shallow that fulfilling may be.