Showing all posts tagged: video

Amelie was a KGB spy says filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet

22 March 2023

Twenty-one years after he made Amélie, full title The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain, starring Audrey Tautou, the film’s director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has revealed Amélie was actually a KGB spy. He makes the startling admission in a short film, Amelie: the Real Story, which uses scenes from the original 2001 made feature. A master of cunning, our Amélie, but we all knew that.

Did no one ever wonder how a young waitress afforded such sophisticated decoration for a flat in Montmartre, one of Paris’ most expensive districts?

You know, I did wonder, because I wanted to live in apartment exactly like Amélie’s.


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The story of the invention of Tetris, a film by Jon S Baird

18 March 2023

There’s a few tech origin-story films around that the moment. The Playlist is about the founding of music streaming service Spotify, while BlackBerry backgrounds the invention of one of the first smartphones, being, obviously, the BlackBerry.

But here’s the one we’ve been waiting for… Tetris, trailer, the story behind the still popular video game’s creation, directed by Scottish filmmaker Jon S. Baird. Nikita Efremov portrays Alexey Pajitnov, the Soviet-born American computer engineer who devised Tetris in 1984, with Taron Egerton as Dutch entrepreneur Henk Rogers, who sought a distribution deal for the game.

It’s all high drama, these start-up stories. So much for plodding away quietly in a suburban garage, bringing the next big thing into being.


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Trailer for Class of ’07, by Kacie Anning, with Emily Browning

11 March 2023

A ten year high school reunion goes horribly awry, after a tidal wave transforms the venue into an island, leaving old students of an all-girls school stranded. Will the former school-mates co-operate, or will tensions and rivalries from their school days resurface and overwhelm them?

Emily Browning and Caitlin Stasey, star in the Amazon Prime produced Australian TV series, Class of ’07, trailer, created and directed by Kacie Anning, which goes to air on Friday 17 March 2023.


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State of the (Writing) Nation 2023 presented by Jennifer Down

5 March 2023

The annual State of the (Writing) Nation address was presented on Wednesday 1 March 2023, in conjunction with Writers Victoria and the Wheeler Centre, by Melbourne based Australian author Jennifer Down.

In short, the state of the Australian writing nation is not good. Down, winner of the 2022 Miles Franklin literary award, tells us we “live in a country that does not value the arts”, and “a place where very few people care about books”. Down’s speech is well worth listening to in full.


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Wellmania, a food blogger gets fit fast, a Netflix TV series

5 March 2023

Food blogger Liv Healy (Celeste Barber), takes to Sydney’s Bondi Beach on a fitness bender, to ready herself for a role as a judge on a prestigious American cooking show, in Wellmania, trailer.

The eight part Netflix produced TV series is based on Wellmania: Misadventures in the Search for Wellness, a novel written by Australian journalist and speech writer Brigid Delaney, who co-wrote the screenplay with Sydney based author and broadcaster Benjamin Law.

Wellmania goes to air on Wednesday 29 March 2023.


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What if 2001: A Space Odyssey was directed by George Lucas?

4 February 2023

Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey is remixed with George Lucas’ 1977 space opera Star Wars, by YouTuber Poakwoods, and this is the result.

Truly awesome.

Also, it seems hard to believe from the third decade of the twenty-first century that less than ten years separate 2001: A Space Odyssey and the first Star Wars film.


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Simone Young, Knowing the Score, a film by Janine Hosking

30 January 2023

Conductors are synonymous with classical music performances, yet at the first recital I went to, a show by the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) in 2009, at the Sydney Opera House, no conductor was present. Instead, ACO artistic director, and lead violin player, Richard Tognetti, led proceedings.

To many people though, a conductor is something of a mystery. Why does there need to be someone waving a stick, called a baton, at the orchestra? Do the musicians not know what to do? Did they not practice the pieces prior to the show? The ACO manages without a conductor, why then can’t anyone else? And how on earth can performers at a distance from the conductor even discern the many, swift, and seemingly all too subtle, baton gestures?

Further, why are conductors accorded a special status? Why are they treated to a separate round of applause, upon making a separate entrance to the auditorium, after the musicians have already assembled on stage? That conductors effectively only came into being about two hundred years ago, only adds to the enigma. Prior to 1820, orchestras were similar to the ACO, and directed themselves. It was only as orchestras grew in size though, did the need for a separate person to lead the musicians manifest itself.

Knowing the Score, trailer, a documentary about the life and work of Australian conductor Simone Young, may answer some of these questions. While early conductors were the subject of derision, particularly from musicians who felt they served no real purpose, Young has also encountered her share of naysayers. Despite this, Young, presently chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is regarded as one of the world’s leading orchestral conductors.

Knowing the Score, directed by Australian documentary maker Janine Hosking, opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday 16 February 2023. The world premiere takes place at the Ritz Cinema in Randwick, Sydney, on Sunday 5 February 2023, and features a Q&A session with Young following the screening.


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The Whale, a film by American director Darren Aronofsky

18 January 2023

The finer production details of a film are usually something I don’t pay much attention to. I’m primarily interested in the story, and the way it is told. Having said that, I don’t mind filmmakers talking about, say, visual effects, if it’s being discussed incidentally. Otherwise, that sort of thing is what film awards are for. But when a filmmaker talks about nothing other than production techniques, and little of the story, it makes me wonder. Do they really have nothing else to say about their work?

So far though, I cannot say I’ve heard a single word about the filming of The Whale, trailer, by American director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan). What has caught my eye though, are the stills of Charlie, the morbidly obese protagonist, a British teacher, portrayed by Canadian-American actor Brendan Fraser. At first I thought his appearance was the product of the post production unit, and the efforts of a skilled visual effects team.

But I was wrong. Fraser’s look is quite real, or somewhat so. For the role of Charlie, who weighs over two hundred and seventy kilograms, Fraser was required to put on a considerable amount of weight. This surely cannot be as easy as it might sound. Ten to twenty kilograms maybe, depending on an actor’s stature, but more has to be a challenge, and possibly even a health risk. Never let it be said that acting is an occupation merely requiring a practitioner to feign certain emotions.

In the end, Fraser did not gain sufficient weight, and was required to wear a fat suit, an under garment often used by actors — sometimes controversially — to alter the appearance of their weight. But the suit worn by Fraser was itself heavy. By adding dried beans and marbles to the outfit, its weight was said to have been over one hundred and thirty kilograms. The idea here, I imagine, was to make Fraser feel as heavy as he looked, for the sake of authenticity.

While his appearance, and efforts to put on weight, have attracted some criticism, early reviews of Fraser’s portrayal of Charlie have been generally positive to date. The Whale opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday, 2 February 2023, with the Australian premiere taking place at the Westpac OpenAir cinema, located at Mrs Macquaries Point, in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden, on the evening of Sunday, 22 January 2023.


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Richard Bell, You Can Go Now, a film by Larissa Behrendt

16 January 2023

You may not have heard of Indigenous Australian artist and activist Richard Bell, but he has been at the forefront of political activism for over fifty years. Describing himself as an activist masquerading as an artist, Bell has spent fifty years fighting for Aboriginal rights and self determination, through his art and protest.

One of his best known works, an installation titled Embassy, was inspired by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy protest, which was first established on the lawns outside Australia’s parliament building in 1972. Bell’s installation has been presented in Australia, and cities across the world, including Jakarta, New York, Moscow, and Jerusalem.

Bell’s life and work is now the subject of a documentary, You Can Go Now, trailer, directed by Australian academic, Indigenous advocate, and author, Larissa Behrendt. Behrendt’s most recent novel, After Story, published in 2021, was longlisted in the 2022 Miles Franklin literary award.

You Can Go Now opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday 26 January 2023. Bell and Behrendt will also be participating in Q&A preview screenings at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Dendy Cinema, Newtown, on Tuesday 24 January, and the National Film and Sound Archive, in Canberra, on Wednesday 25 January.


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Trailer for The Lying Life of Adults TV series

10 January 2023

The Netflix produced adaptation of Italian author’s Elena Ferrante’s 2019 coming-of-age novel The Lying Life of Adults, about a teenage girl named Giovanna, living in Naples, is now streaming.

Giovanna’s pretty face is changing, turning ugly, at least so her father thinks. Giovanna, he says, looks more like her Aunt Vittoria every day. But can it be true? Is she really changing? Is she turning into her Aunt Vittoria, a woman she hardly knows but whom her mother and father clearly despise? Surely there is a mirror somewhere in which she can see herself as she truly is.

Giovanna is searching for her reflection in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and Naples of the depths, a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves from one to the other in search of the truth, but neither city seems to offer answers or escape.

Somehow the adaptation, based on the trailer at least, is different to how I saw the story when I read it, while a teaser, released in March 2022, only briefly outlined the TV series to follow.

But yeah, so what.


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Emily, a biopic film about Emily Bronte, by Frances O’Connor

10 January 2023

Although regarded as one of the greatest English language books, Wuthering Heights, the haunting 1847 novel of British writer Emily Brontë, was met with a mixed reception when published under Brontë’s non de plume, Ellis Bell. Critics hailed Brontë’s story of star crossed lovers Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw — her only published novel — as original, imaginative, and intriguing, but were shocked by the book’s depictions of violence, domestic abuse, sexual passion, and its host of narcissistic characters.

Brontë’s novel later went on to spawn numerous film, stage, and television adaptations, along with British musician Kate Bush’s 1978 single of the same name, which it could be argued is perhaps the most memorable interpretation of the Gothic fiction classic.

Despite Brontë’s literary prominence, little is known about her personal life. She was said to be reserved and shy, possibly explaining the lack of detailed writing about her. This dearth of knowledge was one of the challenges facing British born Australian actor and writer, turned filmmaker Frances O’Connor, during the production of her debut feature, Emily, trailer, leaving O’Connor to speculate about the finer details of Brontë’s life.

While Emily explores Brontë’s relationship with her famous sisters Charlotte, and Anne, and the writing of Wuthering Heights, it also portrays an apparent, doomed, love affair between Brontë and William Weightman, a local member of the clergy. While there is no evidence of any romance between Brontë and Weightman in reality, O’Connor makes the tantalising suggestion the supposed affair inspired the characters of Heathcliff and Catherine, and possibly Wuthering Heights itself.

Emily opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday 12 January 2023, though if you are in Sydney, and move quickly, you may be able to score tickets to a preview screening at the Westpac OpenAir cinema, on the shore of Sydney harbour tomorrow evening, Wednesday 11 January 2023.


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Tar, Aftersun, win in National Society of Film Critics 2022 awards

8 January 2023

Tár (trailer), starring Cate Blanchett, The Banshees of Inisherin (trailer), directed by Martin McDonagh, and Aftersun, written and directed by Charlotte Wells, have featured prominently in the 2022 awards of the National Society of Film Critics. Based on their trailers, they all look like winners to me.


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The Playlist, a Netflix series about the founding of Spotify

2 January 2023

The Social Network, the 2010 dramatization of the creation of Facebook, directed by American filmmaker David Fincher, was one of my favourite films of that year, even though I may not be the biggest fan of the Facebook itself. But the audacity, the arrogance, the energy, the self-belief, and the growing realisation Mark Zuckerberg (as portrayed in deadpan fashion by Jesse Eisenberg) was onto something, was infectious.

The Playlist, trailer, a Netflix produced docu-drama dramatization about the founding of music streaming service Spotify, released in October 2022, is another start-up show I’m looking forward to seeing, as the Spotify story has some similarities to Facebook.

In 2006, Spotify co-founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, set about building the “best music player in the world”. One that was both free to use, and legal. To succeed they said, “we just need to get hold of the music rights.” What could be simpler? But, the rest — as they say — is history.

Led by Daniel Ek, a group of passionate young entrepreneurs come together in what seems to be the impossible task to change the music industry — and the world. They set out to create a legal streaming service for music.


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Winona, a 2019 film by Alexander Voulgaris

27 December 2022
Winona, film by Alexander Voulgaris, still

Four young women spend a day on a secluded Mediterranean beach with a dog. The friends swim, sing, and talk about film, particularly the work of Steven Spielberg, and Woody Allen.

They also ponder a solitary house on the hill — Alfred Hitchcock anyone? — above the bay, and speculate throughout the day as to who the occupant, or occupants, are.

A couple sitting in a likewise solitary car, parked nearby, also pique their curiosity. The four may not have a plan, their antics and conversation are spontaneous, but the visit to the beach has purpose.

Made in 2019, Winona, trailer, is the fifth feature of Greek filmmaker and musician Alexander Voulgaris, who’s also known as The Boy. I saw this on film streaming platform Kanopy the other day.

If you’re looking for mainly independently produced films, then Kanopy is the place for you. There’s a veritable mixed bag of titles on offer, including one or two blockbusters, but there’s some great stuff to be found lurking in the Kanopy catalogue.


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Trailer for Triangle of Sadness, a film by Ruben Ostlund

23 December 2022

Triangle of Sadness, trailer, the latest feature from Swedish filmmaker Ruben Őstlund, he of Force Majeure fame, looks like a lot of fun. Sort of.

A group of rich and powerful people set sail on a yacht under the command of the captain (Woody Harrelson). It’s all plain sailing until a storm hits, and then things get messy, really messy. Passengers vomit en masse, toilets block and overflow, and then some of those aboard end up marooned on a desert island. A kind of Gilligan’s Island, but on steroids maybe.

Late South African actor Charlbi Dean stars as Yaya, an Instagram influencer, who has been given free passage in exchange for promoting the vessel. She’s accompanied by her boyfriend Carl (Harris Dickinson), a fashion model. For those who can stomach tossing seas, Triangle of Sadness can be seen in Australian cinemas from Monday 26 December 2022.


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Black hole stars, a weird cosmic entity and Soundgarden song

18 December 2022

Black hole stars, sometimes called quasi-stars, were a hypothetical star that may have existed in the earliest days of the universe, up to about half a billion years after the Big Bang.

They were larger — far larger — than any star known to be present in the universe today, and were capable of outshining entire galaxies. And, as the name suggests, they were part black hole. We know some stars become black holes at the end of their lives, but for the two to somehow co-exist, star and black hole, without one destroying the other? How can such a thing even happen?

In 1927, British-Indian scientist J. B. S. Haldane, in an essay titled “Possible Worlds” wrote the oft quoted sentence: “now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” It was Haldane’s way of saying we’re unlikely to ever make sense of the universe, no matter how much we learn about it. Black hole stars, in their bizarre weirdness, only add to the wonder.

And, as a bonus, American rock/grunge act Soundgarden’s 1994 track, Black Hole Sun, written by the late Chris Cornell, takes on a whole (er, no pun intended) new meaning in this context.


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Barbie by Greta Gerwig, a very 2001: A Space Odyssey trailer

18 December 2022

What prompts you to see a movie? An interest in the story? Because you liked the book and are hoping against hope the film adaptation is going to be ok? Maybe you’re a fan of the director, or one of the lead actors? But what about the trailer? Would viewing a trailer — in isolation, without knowing anything about the film — be enough to inspire you to watch a given title?

The teaser/trailer for Barbie, the latest feature from American filmmaker Greta Gerwig, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, might just the trailer that does it for me…


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The Lost King, a film about finding Richard III, by Stephen Frears

10 December 2022

The Lost King, trailer, tells the story — in its own way — of British writer Philippa Langley, and her relentless work to find the body of English King, Richard III, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field, in the English county of Leicestershire, in 1485.

There’s some serious British talent involved here. Veteran filmmaker Stephen Frears — whose previous work includes My Beautiful Laundrette, The Queen, Tamara Drewe (where I saw him speak at a screening thereof in Sydney in 2011), and Philomena — directs.

Steve Coogan, who also co-wrote the screenplay, portrays Langley’s husband, John, while Langley herself is played by Sally Hawkins. Hawkins has to be one of the most prolific actors around. Her career started in 1999 with a role as an extra in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and since then she has been in Cassandra’s Dream, An Education, Never Let Me Go, Made in Dagenham, Submarine, Blue Jasmine, The Shape of Water, and Spencer. To name but a few.

The Lost King opens in Australian cinemas on Monday 26 December 2022.


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For a hard boiled brew try deep fried coffee beans

3 December 2022

Instead of roasting some coffee beans, the more usual process for preparing beans for brewing, British coffee connoisseur James Hoffmann decided to deep fry a batch.

Like Hoffmann, I was unsure why anyone would actually, or ever want to, deep dry coffee beans, but his experiment is purely in the name of curiosity. After the beans have been fried, Hoffmann prepared two brews to sample. One by filter, the other by shot. All very interesting I’m sure, but I might stick to drinking roasted bean coffee…



Sydney act 1300 wins Triple J/RAGE music video of 2022

28 November 2022

And before another Ausmusic month, and November for that matter, falls behind us… Western Sydney based Korean rap act 1300 have won the music video of the year for 2022, with their clip Oldboy in the 2022 J Awards. The video was directed by long-time collaborator Raghav Rampal.


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