My Visit to the Dockland Studios Melbourne.

Before I started at Melbourne Uni I had begun studying a Bachelor of Creative Art Industries at Victoria University. Why I never completed this degree could be put down to many factors (including seeing fights and cars getting stolen on my walk to uni), but mostly it just wasn’t the course or university for me.

Whilst I was there, one of my classes was based on the idea that there was no future within the Arts Industry, with the premiss being that we should all drop out of university now and start looking for a full time jobs.

One day however this class had a field trip, which in my mind almost made up for the other 11 weeks of pointless dribble, it was an excursion to the Dockland Studios Melbourne. They had just began filming the Commonwealth Games Commentary and we were allowed to view the set. We also went into the main studio which although it looked like a massive generic shed it gave me an incredible insight into film creation- For instance this very same plain dark shed had been transformed into a swap for Ghost Rider, the inside of a house in Don’t be Afraid of the Dark (which had just finished filming) and the inside of a ship for The Pacific.

Continue reading

Chopper – A Review

Director –  Andrew Dominik

Cast – Eric Bana, Vince Colosimo, Simon Lyndon.

Released – 2000

I went into this film knowing very little about Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, but I already didn’t like him. I really don’t like the idea that someone in my country can go from hit man to media personality in a matter of years.

The film really confirmed my feelings. It is based on his best selling book “From the Inside”, the first of many books by Read, this particular one was written whist serving time in Prison.

A positive for the film is that at least it appears to be an honest portrayal, which is at least refreshing to see in an era of glitz and glamour. Something I just don’t understand is that, in the film Chopper brags about the torture he has inflicted and claims to have killed 19 people, so if this is true (as it claims to be) then how is this man out of jail? And why is he a celebrity?

THE FILM - Ignoring how much I dislike Mark read, Eric Bana’s portrayal of his is exceptional. It is both sympathetic and psychotic. It seems obvious that Read (in this portrayal) is suffering from some sort of mental disorder, resulting in constant episodes of paranoid violence followed by unremitting remorse.

Chopper Trailer

It is hard to judge a film, when it is based on such a morally questionable character. To put it frankly he comes across as a complete douche. – I find it hard that he ever had a girlfriend to beat up!

Chopper acted as if he had some sort of supreme right to kill and hurt drug dealers, a complex which is only extended further when he becomes a Police informant.

After doing an interview in the film, it is stated that he was not paid for the interview, because that particular news station does not pay criminals, which got me thinking- can criminals make money from their crimes? And if so, did Chopper get paid royalties for the film?

Whilst I tried to find these answers, the issue is pretty complex and after googling my heart out I became side tracked and ended up on Mark Reads website, he states that Victoria and New South Wales introduced the “Chopper Read amendments…These “do-as-we-like” governments have approved new legislation to stop criminals from earning royalties from books and movies about their offenses”. – http://www.chopperread.com

Although the publicity Choppers first book and film received may no have given his money directly, they paved the way for his future success as an author, with now over 14 books to his name including a Children book, he is also an established painter and has a range of memorabilia – Proving that crime can pay (even if it isn’t directly)

  • Side Note – Read was recently declined a working with children’s permit (what a shock)

 

Mental – A Film To Look Out For

Director –  P. J Hogan (from Muriel’s wedding)

Cast –  Toni Collete, Deborah Mailman, Rebecca Gibney, Anthony LaPaglia

Release date – October 4, 2012

Mental – trailer

This film looks painfully Australian, so I thought it would be worth putting in here!

It’s based on Hogans personal experiences as a child and is rumoured to be one of the biggest Australian hits for 2012. Hogan has recently described the film  as “The sound of Music on acid”.

The film follows a family, whose mother (Gibney) has a mental break down and  is institutionalised  (strong connections to the mother in Muriels wedding), The father (LaPaglia) is willing to do anything to avoid a scandal, insisting that she is on a holiday in Wollongong.

Left on his own, he struggles to look after his out of control family, consisting of 6 daughters. This all changes when he picks up hitchhiker Shaz (Collette), who can be seen as the saviour for the family, changing their outlook in an aggressive boganish kind of way, but which seems overall successful.

If you would like an insight into the film, Toni Colletes character Shaz is on twitter – https://twitter.com/shazismental

A walk down memory lane

I thought I would take some time to look at the development of the Australian Film industry. I found most of my information in a Film.org.aureally informative essay by Darren Archer – Australian Film Industry.

Through out every few decades the industry has changed, so I’m going to take you through this:

In the years leading up to the First World War Australia was one of the biggest filmmaking countries in the world, with 51 films created in 1911 (such an amount has not been made in one year since). Australia also has the credit of creating the first ever feature film, what film that is has been disputed, although it is generally agreed to be  The Story of the Kelly Gang  (1906).

During this early film making period sound was not a factor and by removing language barriers it allowed  Australian films to be seen globally. “According to Australian film historians Ina Bertrand and William Routt, no English-speaking film industry outside of Hollywood was as ready to go global as the Australian film industry. Unfortunately Australian companies failed to seize the opportunity”.

In Contrast to the American ‘Golden years’ of the 1920’s – 40’s, the Australian film industry did not see the same success, things only worsened in the 50’s and 60’s as the arrival of television ending the cinemas monopoly on film viewing, with “only a handful of films [being] made during the entire 20-year period, and from 1959 until 1966 no films were made at all”.

1970s and 80’s saw the revival of the Australian film industry, with the Whitlam government setting up the Australian Film Commission and the Australian Film and Television School (now AFTRS) in the early 1970’s. This period saw the beginning creating our national stereotype in film, as for a film to receive funding they must contribute to the national identity.

The most recent stage has been referred to as the mature phase, beginning in early 1990’s – 2010, This period saw the removal of the masculine lead, with films such as Strictly Ballroom and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert leading the way. During this period an average of 27 films have been made per year.

This time period was also helped by the Australian exchange rate, it became cheaper to film in Australia than in America or the UK, however recent economic growth in Australia (in comparison to other economies who had suffered from recession) has made Australia an expensive option, the impact of our global dollar strength is yet to be fully realised, however a decrease in Australia film, both local and international films filmed in Australia is inevitable.

The Sapphires – A Review

Director – Wayne Blair.

Cast – Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell.

Released - 2012.

The film follows four aboriginal girls journey from outback Australia to centre stage during the Vietnam war, the film script is based on the musical of the same name by Tony Briggs (one of the original members sons).

I felt like the story developed too quickly in the film, allowing only a short period for character development, with the girls back stories randomly placed in sections to fill in the gaps for the audience. The some of the relationships created in the film suffer from the same issues.

The Sapphires – Trailer

The bulk of the film is highly enjoyable, however I wish that it  didn’t take itself quite so serious in some parts

Whilst I wouldn’t call the film is not a roller coaster of emotions, it did appear to be unfortunately a yoyo, jumping from extreme moments game changing moments back to trivial conversations, without taking time to in-between.  It is this lack of consistency which really hurt its development. At some points  it appeared that any situation could be solved with song, while others escalate to violence without warning. This may have worked for the stage musical, however it didn’t transfer well into film.

Chris O’Dowd really makes the film, he is hilarious and really brings a special dynamic to the film, his character Dave seems genuine though out the film (even when he is overwhelmingly selfish). He really is the force behind the story, with some perfect comedic moments placed throughout.

Continue reading

Muriel’s Wedding – A Review

Director – P.J Hogan

Cast – Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Bill Hunter

Released - 1994

A classic Aussie film, but I’m not sure why.

Its obvious that the film has aged quite a lot since its realise in 1994, but more surprisingly was how dark the story  really is, it should almost be classed as a drama, with Muriel’s situation often being so depressing that you cant help to laugh, both at the situation itself and Muriel’s way of handling it. The father of the film is instantly dislikable, he believes the family is bringing him down, although if you were left to support all your middle aged children, while they were living at home it would properly bring you down too, however his constant put downs of the family is a consistent driver in the film, with him never taking responsibility. Muriel’s mother is clearly mentally unwell and is struggling throughout the film, her husband leaving her is her breaking point.

Muriel’s Wedding – Trailer

*Spoiler* – After the mum has committed suicide there is no remorse from the family, Muriel uses it as a wake up call, feeling like the money she took lead to her mums death (and in one sense it did) but I don’t think anyone in the film really acknowledges how neglected their mother was.

Rachel Griffiths character Rhonda, as eccentric as she is, is the only person who gives Muriel unwavering support. That is until she realises that Muriel has taken her on a ride, lying at every step of their friendship. Rhonda is still able to take Muriel back at the end of the film, maybe just because her other point ion was to be looked after by her mother, whilst listening to irritating people tell irritating stories.

This film really reaches out to the people who just never quite fitted in, giving hope that there is a place for them within society, they might just have to go on a messy ride to get there.

According to IMDB this film made over 57,000,000 worldwide, which is incredible as it had the budget of only 3,000,000. A theory behind its instant success is due to the fact that it was released shortly after Strictly Ballroom and Pricilla Queen of the Desert –  “Australia seems to be cornering the market for odd but delightful comedies laced with substance and romance. The latest, Muriel’s Wedding, is another bright, occasionally brilliant example” – Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle.