Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Zac Efron to visit Australia for World Premiere


Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling and Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Scott Hicks have all confirmed to visit Melbourne and Sydney in April in support of their new romantic drama THE LUCKY ONE.

Melbourne will host the World Premiere of the film which will be followed by a Sydney Premiere shortly after.
Based on Nicholas Sparks’ bestseller The Lucky One, Zac Efron (“17 Again,” “Charlie St. Cloud”) stars alongside Taylor Schilling (upcoming “Argo”) and Blythe Danner (“Meet the Parents” franchise) in this romantic drama directed by Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Scott Hicks (“Shine,” “No Reservations”).
U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Efron) returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive—a photograph he found of a woman he doesn’t even know. Learning her name is Beth (Schilling) and where she lives, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm.
Hicks directs from a screenplay by Will Fetters (“Remember Me”), adapted from the Nicholas Sparks novel The Lucky One. The producers are Denise Di Novi, who previously produced film adaptations of the Nicholas Sparks novels “A Walk To Remember,” “Nights In Rodanthe” and “Message in a Bottle,” and Kevin McCormick (“Arthur”). Ravi Mehta, Alison Greenspan and Bruce Berman serve as executive producers, and Kerry Heysen is co-producer.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Di Novi Pictures production, a Scott Hicks film, “The Lucky One.” The film will be released by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close ★ ★ ★ ★1/2


Watch the trailer for EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE and it will tug at your heart.  Do I really need to put myself through this, you may think?  If I am already crying in the trailer, how will I handle 129 minutes of emotional rekindling of a tragedy that is burnt into all of our hearts?
Was it tough and do you really need to watch another film about the 9/11 tragedy?  Yes and absolutely yes.   And it wasn’t just me crying—you could hear the sniffs and nose-blowing across the theatre.  But at the end of this film, there is an uplifting, fulfilling pay-off which is worthy of the tears you will shed.
EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE follows Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a very unusual, eccentric boy, possibly a mild Asperger sufferer, on a quest to find a lock for a key he has found in his Father’s cupboard.  His Father (Tom Hanks) died tragically a year before in one of the 9/11 Twin Towers.
Since then, his Mother (Sandra Bullock), enduring her own grief, appears to have distanced herself from him with his only remaining emotional attachment now being with his Grandmother, (Zoe Caldwell).  After 9/11, his grandmother has also taken in a “Renter” (Max Von Sydow), a mysterious man who doesn’t speak.
Oskar is no ordinary child—and neither is Thomas Horn who plays him; his performance is achingly brilliant.  In fact, he is no ordinary human being, as he sets out to discover the message he thinks his Father left him through the key. He desperately believes, that in pursuing the location of the lock, he will extend his time with his Father.  Through flashbacks, we see that his Father has always gently encouraged him to face his fears through games they called Reconnaissance Expeditions.  And Oskar is a child with many fears, including speaking to people.
For an eleven year old to find a random lock in New York City, with the only clue being the word “Black” written on the key’s envelope, would be a true miracle.  And we all want him to have his miracle.  On his journey he meets an eclectic assortment of people and befriends the speechless Renter, who also conceals secrets of his own.
The film is based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s acclaimed novel.  Academy Award® nominee Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot,” “The Reader,” “The Hours”) directed “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” from a screenplay by Academy Award® winner Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump,” “The Insider”), and was produced by Scott Rudin (“No Country for Old Men,” “The Social Network,” “True Grit”). So there is a pedigree of excellence attached, which shines clearly through in every scene.  The film also stars Viola Davis (“Doubt”), John Goodman, and Jeffrey Wright in small but very powerful roles.
Many will say of EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE, that they don’t need reminding of 9/11.  The beauty of this film is that even though the tragedy hovers over everything, the movie is firmly about Oskar and the overcoming of his fears.  In the end, you will be laughing and cheering and I promise you won’t leave the cinema devastated but instead uplifted. 
This core of the movie is not the 9/11 devastation but the wonderful things that came from it; the coming together of people, the winning against all odds, and the humanity that sprang from disaster.  Oskar’s journey is as much about the complex stages of grief and the journey it requires of us to survive, as it is about solving a mystery.
            A movie has done its job when the tendrils of emotion weave their magic around you whilst you are watching and then linger afterwards challenging you to analyse your feelings.  There is magic here and it is not Loud, but brings you masterfully Close to all things good about being human.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Introducing Rooftop Movies

A pop-up Summer oasis in the heart of the Perth CBD

Perth cinema-lovers will soon have the opportunity to take movie viewing to new heights with the opening of Rooftop Movies in Northbridge on Wednesday 29 February.

With the inaugural Fringe World Festival drawn to a close on the weekend, organizers Artrage are perched to unleash this new project which will run until late April 2012.  A partnership between Artrage and City of Perth Parking sees Rooftop Movies located on the roof of the Roe Street Car Park in Northbridge.  Seven stories up, it will provide for panoramic views of the Perth city skyline and will comfortably seat 250 patrons screening films every night of the week.

“This is an exciting new cinema experience for Perth and, considering we have some of the best summer nights in Australia, it’s long overdue,” says Artrage director Marcus Canning.

“This rooftop is one of Perth’s best kept secrets. Artrage used this space ten years ago for a festival performance work and we’ve always wanted to set up the space for a cinema. We’ll be decking it out like a Summer oasis,” Canning says.

In keeping with the kitsch ambience of Fringe World’s Treasury Building on St George’s Terrace, the entire rooftop will be covered with faux lawn and scattered with palm trees. There will be a sea of black and white striped deck chairs and hundreds pink flamingos as well as a vintage caravan projection booth. The cinema screen itself will be attached to a double sea container.

“The Roe Street Car Park has pedestrian access straight off James Street at the Piazza and two elevators going straight up to the roof, one of which will be dedicated to Rooftop Movies audiences. It also has vehicle access straight off Roe Street so people can drive in, park their cars for the night, pop out for a bite to eat on James Street and take the elevator to the roof to catch a film,” Canning says.

The film program includes classic and cult movies, recent releases as well nightly pre and post screening entertainments, including ongoing weekly special events:

Bulmers Belly Laugh Wednesdays

Featuring live comedy pre and post feature film

Friday & Saturday Double Features

A specially programmed duo of films over the weekend nights

Stella Summer Classics

Featuring live Jazz pre and post feature film to screening a cinema classic.  All films screen one night only and a taste of the first months program includes: Casablanca, Dr Strangelove, The Big Lebowski, Sin City, Spirited Away and Revenge of the Nerds.

The partnership with City of Perth Parking allows patrons to combine the cost of parking and the cost of the movie into one ticket price.

Tickets are $10 (film only) or $18 including parking within the Roe Street complex.

Tickets for Friday & Saturday Double Features are $15 (film only) or $23 inclusive of parking.

Booking fees apply.

The pilot program kicks off with a special VIP Opening Night on Wednesday 29 February.

For more information on the program head to http://www.rooftopmovies.com.au.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

KOKO a Winner!

RED DOG star KOKO wins prestigious Golden Collar Award in Los Angeles

KOKO, the canine star of hit film RED DOG, has been awarded Best Dog in a Foreign Film at the Golden Collar Awards in Los Angeles on Monday 13 February 2012 (Pacific Time).

RED DOG Producer Nelson Woss said that the win was a remarkable achievement. "This win has cemented KOKO’s status as cinema’s top dog. I am very proud that KOKO has finally won an acting award, which recognises his terrific performance and contribution to the film," Mr Woss said.

KOKO’s win follows on from the RED DOG team's recent success including taking home Best Film at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards and Best Feature Film at the Inside

Film (IF) Awards. Audiences around the world are falling in love with KOKO and RED DOG.

The film has screened at many international film festivals, including Berlin, Busan and Dallas and took out the US$100,000 grand prize at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis.

RED DOG writer Daniel Taplitz accepted the Award on KOKO’s behalf and KOKO’s acceptance speech was screened at the ceremony. KOKO’s acceptance speech is available to view on YouTube: You Tube Video

In Australia, RED DOG is the 8th highest grossing Australian film of all time at the box office and the biggest selling Australian DVD of all time.

RED DOG will be released in UK cinemas on 24 February 2012 and in the USA later this year.

For More Info on Koko and RED DOG visit:  

Golden Collar Awards: dognewsdaily.com

RED DOG Australia: reddogmovie.com

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How they made CHRONICLE



CHRONICLE was one of those rare film experiences where you attend the preview expecting very little.  Then scene by scene, as the story unfolds, you realise you couldn’t be more wrong and this is something fresh and new.  By the end, you are leaning to your partner and saying, “Wow—that was fantastic.”
We left the screening with the children very excited and buzzing about the story and the incredible action and stunts we had witnessed.  The stunts and enhancements were seamless.  The best fun of it was finding yourself almost believing you were witnessing a reality.
Of course, it wasn’t real, and as I was so impressed by the delivery of this story, I thought you may enjoy peeking behind the scenes and discovering how they actually made CHRONICLE.
If possible go see the film first and then come back and read the technical stuff here.  I don’t think you want to know how they did it before.  Much better whilst watching, to instead ponder: did they really hire actors who could fly.


Most of CHRONICLE is told through the point of view of Andrew (DANE DEHAAN), a troubled but creative young man with a keen visual eye and a high-quality HD camera.  “So, CHRONICLE is not really a conventional ‘found footage’ feature,” says Director and co-writer Josh Trank, referring to the often grainy-looking “shaky-cam” movies.  “Instead, we wanted a very controlled, thoughtful looking movie, seen through the eyes of a talented young man.  There’s an intelligence behind the way Andrew operates his camera and captures increasingly incredible events.”
Andrew’s newfound telekinetic abilities add an unexpected dimension to his camera operating skills, which give CHRONICLE a one-of-a-kind look and texture.  “Andrew begins operating his camera telekinetically, which opens up his entire world,” Trank explains.  “His camera is, in a way, attached to his brain, and he’s able to make it float, fly and capture action in a unique way.  Halfway through the film, you realize you’re watching something you’ve never seen before, and then in the last 15 minutes, it just becomes insane.  It’s constantly evolving, from the intimate and grounded to the epic and unexpected.”
Andrew evolves from teenage insecurity to full-blown narcissism in a way that could happen to anyone facing his extraordinary circumstances.  Says DeHaan, of portraying Andrew: “When you’re given the ultimate power, and if you’re experiencing something that nobody has ever experienced, there’s a certain God complex that comes of that.”


To convey Andrew’s perspective, the camera operator’s team had to “unlearn” their carefully honed skills. Jensen often worked over DeHaan’s shoulder to create the illusion that the character is recording his experiences, when in fact a team of seasoned professionals was operating the equipment.
Trank gave Jensen and his team free rein to conceive new ideas, new rigs and mounts, and to create ingenious ways to suspend the camera to obtain the “telekinetic” hand-held style.  The result is impressive: graceful and subtle camerawork that conveys the character’s powers.  “Josh was so specific that he graphed each camera movement,” says Jensen.  “By the end of the film, the camera is flying around through the streets of Seattle (where the story is set).  The camera has amazing freedom and flexibility that mirrors the growing strengths and powers our protagonists have developed through the story.”


In much of the movie Andrew is only “felt” as the unseen figure behind the lens, so it was critical to cast the role with an actor with a strong enough presence to register even when not in view. DeHaan, a noted theater actor, had the requisite chops to bring the pivotal role to life.  “Dane is also a very naturalistic actor, which was important because we wanted the character and his actions to feel real,” says Adam Schroeder (Producer).
“I really got excited about CHRONICLE because it just feels so new and different,” says DeHaan.  “It’s believable, even though by the third act it’s depicting some pretty incredible things.”
The two other members of the newly empowered high school trio are Andrew’s cousin, Matt (Alex Russell), and campus king Steve (Michael B. Jordan).  As the story opens, Matt is a cynical, know-it-all, too-cool-to-care teen.  But like his two new cohorts, Matt and Steve undergo radical changes after an encounter with a mysterious force. 
Australian actor Alex Russell reflects on playing the all-American high schooler: “What grabbed me about the project was that the concept is so surreal; it’s about teens with superpowers but at the same time it’s so ingrained with reality.  Matt couldn’t be more unlike Andrew and Steve – they would never have become friends under ‘normal’ circumstances – but they become incredibly tight through their shared experience.”
Michael B. Jordan, who was a series regular on the acclaimed “Friday Night Lights” and has a co-starring role in George Lucas’ historical epic “Red Tails,” portrays Steve, who, says the actor, “is everything a teen would want to be.  He’s the most popular student, a top athlete, and is not far from becoming school president.  He comes into Andrew’s life like a guardian angel, pulling him into the school’s social scene, and Andrew starts to feel good about himself.” 


Trank’s vision for CHRONICLE was meticulously chronicled prior to the start of production.  Trank created pre-visualizations for every visual effect and camera angle, and wrote a detailed “Director’s Statement” outlining his plans, themes, and methodology.  Given the challenging nature of seamlessly marrying live action, stunts, visual effects and special effects, the pre-viz was a valuable guide for Trank’s department heads.
Trank’s mandate was to always keep it real.  “What’s different about this show is that it’s really a personal story; we get to know the kids especially well.” says Robert Habros, one of the film’s visual effects supervisors. “We want the audience to be living in Andrew’s experience and not thinking about how the kids are flying. The visual effects work had to disappear within the story, characters and emotions.”  


            The film’s flying sequences were extremely challenging and came to life through not only visual effects wizardry, but through the magic of innovative rigs designed by Simon Hansen, a noted visual effects supervisor who in the past worked closely with acclaimed filmmaker Neill Blomkamp.  Hansen invented techniques and rigs that created, says Trank, “flying like you’ve really never seen in a movie before.  It is really the most realistic flying I’ve ever seen.”
Hansen designed a circular rig that would simulate the freedom of skydiving and allow for all sorts of interactive lighting and elaborate flying moves, like corkscrews and somersaults.  The filmmakers wanted the characters to look like they were having the time of their lives flying.
The actors underwent extensive training to prepare them for the rig. “From the very beginning Josh wanted to do as much as possible in camera, live, and with the actors doing their own stunts,” says executive producer James Dodson.  “We had to effortlessly combine these fantastic live-action effects, which are actually happening, with additional enhancements that Simon created digitally.  I think that some of the shots we see in this movie have never been experienced, thanks to that invisible integration.”
The meticulous preparation, innovative flying rigs and intricate camerawork were critical for the film’s epic third act – a super-powered battle above the streets (and Space Needle) of Seattle.  The sequence features not only flight, but cars rocketing into the air, a bus smashing into the side of a building, and a city under siege.  Notably, Andrew’s ever-present camera, now destroyed, has been replaced by a plethora of recording devices capturing the battle, including telephone cameras, security cameras, automated bank teller cameras, and police dashboard cameras.  


It’s a high-intensity climax, leading to an emotional resolution.  But what about the beginning – where did these powers come from?  Trank and Landis keep it fairly mysterious, but production designer Stephen Altman enjoyed creating the location where it all happens – a craggy hole in the ground, in which rests a chamber containing a massive crystalline rock structure that emits wispy clouds of light.

Altman confesses that the creation of this unknown “matter” was a highlight for him.  “It’s unlike anything I’ve designed before and I hope like nothing anyone else has seen.  Josh (Trank)’s vision of the matter was that it was not of this earth.  We don’t know if it’s animal, vegetable, or mineral.  Perhaps it’s a combination of all three.  To design the structure, we referenced geology, biology, and organic and inorganic matter.”
            That set and what happens afterward will raise numerous questions for audiences – and that is exactly what the filmmakers wanted.  Says Max Landis: “Josh and I know what happened in that cave.  But in the movie it’s never meant to be explained.”


            In addition to the groundbreaking visual effects, rigs, and stunt work, CHRONICLE features some impressive special effects, including using compressed gas to flip two 1,000-pound vehicles thirty feet into the air, and then have them land and be destroyed. Another scene that many will assume to be CGI but was actually captured in-camera depicts Andrew gently raising his arm and telekinetically crushing a car, which implodes and collapses within itself.  The car imploded on cue, thanks to 20,000 pounds of hydraulic pumps sucking in on actual metal and creating an unforgettable twisting, wrenching metallic sound.
            Squashing cars just by thinking about it.  Flying. Wielding enough strength to level a city.  Who wouldn’t want to obtain these kinds of powers?   Who wouldn’t want to do the impossible?  What would you do, asks CHRONICLE, if you were Andrew, Matt or Steve?
            What are you capable of?


            JOSH TRANK (Director, Story) has been a film professional since age 14, when he began working as an editor for public access stations in Los Angeles. After graduating from high school, he was a post-production assistant in several L.A.-area post production facilities.  A few years later Josh made “Stabbing at Leia’s”, an internet phenomenon with over 10 million views online. He then made, with Robert Siegel, the critically acclaimed independent feature Big Fan.
            MAX LANDIS (Screenplay, Story by), 26, has been writing habitually since age 15. He has completed over sixty feature scripts. Max briefly attended the University of Miami. CHRONICLE marked the beginning of a year-long streak of selling spec scripts and pitches that hasn't ended yet.  The first half of the streak was commemorated by Max being featured on the cover of Script magazine.  He has many projects in various stages of development at the industry’s top studios and production companies.  In the future, he hopes to direct. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chronicle ★ ★ ★ ★1/2

Release Dates:  Australia 2nd Feb   USA:  3rd Feb    UK: 1st Feb   Other Countries

Super powers meet super filmmakers 

Teen angst is a commonly explored theme in film.  Those tricky years are fraught with sexual, emotional and self-worth issues.  Over the past year, a few films of this ilk spring to mind, Gus Van Sant’s RESTLESS, SUBMARINE, and NEVER LET ME GO.  In general, they remain flawed and tedious, suffering from slow pacing and long scenes of distance staring.  Often I think, “These characters are brats and need a good walloping and so does the Director’’.
In CHRONICLE, first time feature film director, Josh Trank, and his co-writer, Max Landis (son of Director John Landis) explore the teenage condition but with a fun and visually exciting twist. 
Using the hand-held camera point of view (think CLOVERFIELD), via the main character Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), we follow him and his friends Matt Garetty (Alex Russell), and Steve Montgomery’s (Michael B. Jordan) after they happen upon an alien object in the woods.  Cutting from the discovery scene, the next shot is of them developing telekinetic powers and from here the film, literally takes off.
Their powers grow the more they use them and pretty soon they move on from suspending Lego blocks in the air to moving cars, eventually developing powers which would find them starring in any Superhero film.
Part of the fun of CHRONICLE is the camcorder view, as Andrew meticulously records their experience.  It’s the boys’ natural behaviour towards the camera that provides refreshing humour as they record their initially playful and exuberant reactions to their growing powers.
Trank comments, “We live in a world where you can film anything you want to, at any time.”  Producer Adam Schroeder adds, “There is an emerging aesthetic from this generation.  Josh’s work in CHRONICLE is the next step in that kind of storytelling.  We’ve seen movies that have made extensive use of someone’s point of view and hand-held cameras, but never in the way we use the camera here. It’s more than a device to tell a story; it’s a character, or an extension of our lead character.” 
The film works well for more reasons than the very cool special effects and nifty camera work. Beneath the action, Andrew’s emotional turmoil in dealing with his dying Mother and alcoholic abusive Father provide a depth to the characters, these types of movies tend to gloss over in favour of action. 
A loner, Andrew is the brunt of bullying and unacceptance by his peers, his emotional fragility never far from the surface.  Thus his need to record his life and this experience is a credible set up for the film’s chronicling premise. In other teenage angst films this character would end up slamming doors and shouting.  Throw super powers on super hormones and let’s make that slamming buildings and creating storms.
CHRONICLE is clever, witty and the most fun you will have at the cinema watching teenagers discover themselves.  Reportedly budgeted at $15 million to make and with the tagline “What are you capable of?”, it really begs the question; if these young filmmakers can deliver such good entertainment as CHRONICLE, of what are they capable in the future?  That’s almost as exciting for film fans as discovering you can fly.