Saturday, January 30, 2010

Law Abiding Citizen

When the scriptwriters sat down to make this revenge blockbuster, could they have known that the hard-hitting dialogue and plot twists would in fact appear on screen more laughable than dynamic?

The plot is explained with so much detail in the trailer, there is little left to surprise you in the film:

Blaming the scriptwriters solely isn’t fair. As the film’s tagline says: The System Must Pay; the director, the producers, the actors (some were also producers). If none of them could foresee that lines like, ‘It’s gonna be biblical’ and, ‘Isolated from the liver of a Caribbean Puffer Fish’ were going to cause laughter not suspense in their audience, and plot twists such as Clyde’s (Gerard Bulter, 300, The Ugly Truth) hidden past with the CIA (not a spoiler - it’s in the trailer), are so ridiculous that the film is more farce than thriller, then as the film’s message states- none are blameless.

The plot is overly complex, yet completely devoid of originality. With hints of gore, the most shocking thing about the de-limbing of one of the characters (who gets cut up into 25 pieces) is that his assailant (who is determined he die in the most painful drawn-out way) cuts his toes off after having first sawn off his leg (you don’t actually see any of this on screen). There is something just a little illogical about that, even for a deranged vigilante. Is the murderer really trying to rub salt into the wound by showing the victim what nasty things he can do with his already amputated leg? There are no more nerve attachments - it is a bloody waste of time and on the torture stakes is a pretty poor performance from someone supposedly CIA trained.


Go to Trespass to read the full review

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Road

image1 image2

Cormac McCarthy’s highly acclaimed 2006 book about a father and son in a post-apocalyptic world has been brought to the screen by Australian director, John Hillcoat (The Proposition). He has taken the harsh sparseness and nightmarish world of the novel and created a cinematic vision.

To describe The Road as bleak is an understatement, the world inhabited by the Man (Viggo Mortensen, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises) and Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Romulus, My Father) is a hideous, twisted and distorted place, where the remaining humans are divided into the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’ with most in the latter camp. Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe has created a look to this reality that is devoid of colour, using instead many shades of grey which feel cold and oppressive.

image1 image2

Following the Man and Boy as they try and reach the coast, the film establishes the everyday fight for survival. Getting food, when all the crops are gone and the animals dead, dodging gangs of survivors, whose methods may include cannibalism. The heart of the story is the connection between the father and son.

Adapted by Joe Penhall, the film has embellished some aspects of the book and censored others. With many long descriptive sections in the book, the film fills these gaps in action with flashbacks showing the Man’s wife, the Boy’s mother (Charlize Theron, Monster, In the Valley of Elah). However when it comes to some of the more horrific parts of the book, these have been watered down for the film, which never ramps up the complete destruction of civilisation to the same level imagined by McCarthy.

Read the full review at Trespass

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

26 Australians in Film

To celebrate Australia Day, Trespass' cover feature this week is a list of 26 Australians working in the film industry. Focusing on young Australian actors and the often unsung superstars that work behind the camera, both in Australia and internationally.

I picked eight actors under 30, including Kodi Smit-McPhee, Maeve Dermody and Mia Wasikowska, and eighteen talented Australians that work behind the camera, featuring impressive cinematographers like Greig Fraser and Bonnie Elliott, and inspiring directors such as Warwick Thornton and Khoa Do.

See the full list at Trespass

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Prophet: Trespass Giveaway

Directed by Jacques Audiard (Read My Lips, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) A Prophet (Un Prophète) tells the story of Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) who is condemned to 6 yrs in jail. He is young, illiterate and vulnerable. Part Arab, part Corsican, Malik is taken under the wing of the leader of the Corsican gang, César Luciani (Niels Arestrup). Following Malik’s transformation as he learns the criminal ropes, the film explores themes of power and morality, looking at the lengths to which people will go to survive.

image1 & 2

A Prophet was chosen as one of Trespass' most anticipated films of 2010 and they are currently running a giveaway for double in-season passes. Head over to the magazine to find out more.

Friday, January 22, 2010


image 1 image 2

Daybreakers opens in 2019 to a world largely populated by vampires, with the remaining humans making up about 5%. Ten years prior, a mysterious virus, thought to have started from a bat bite, turned those infected into vampires, the healthy having to decide whether to be converted or stay as human prey. With the current food supply (humans) ever dwindling, more and more vampires in desperation turn to cannibalism, which causes them to become ‘subsiders’ - grotesque bastardisations of the vampire form. The whole population’s fate lies in the hands of vampire haematologist, Ed Dalton (Ethan Hawke, Before Sunrise, Gattaca) who is tasked with finding a blood substitute. But when he discovers something even better, with the help of his human buddies, Audrey (Claudia Karvan, Love My Way, $9.99) and Elvis (Willem Dafoe, Shadow of the Vampire, Antichrist), the nasty head of the human farming corporation (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park, The Piano) tries to silence his findings.

The writers and directors of this cocktail of science-fiction and horror are Australian brothers, Peter and Michael Spierig. The Queensland based twin’s first dip in the horror pool was their cult hit Undead (2003), which involved meteorites and zombies. This low budget horror flick got them noticed and they were able to quit their day jobs making TV commercials. With a bigger budget and bigger stars, the boys are back with a vampire tale that’s a bit schlock horror and a touch of neo-noir. Bringing American actors to fill in the big parts to guarantee funding and distribution, Daybreakers seems to hark back to Australian genre films of the 1970s.

"We set out to give everything that genre fans want from a vampire movie, but serve it up in a way they’ve never seen before" Peter Spierig

The Spierig Brothers’ aim with this film is to mix social commentary and fun. Pushing the themes of resource exploitation and social hierarchy, the film is much more successful at the fun part. Creating vampires that are for all intents and purposes human - they are neither particularly attractive nor powerful - the world continues almost as it did before the virus. Vampires line up to get their coffees (with 20% blood) on the way to work, they continue their same jobs and live in the suburbs. The practicalities of a society suddenly transformed into immortal blood-suckers are very lightly touched on with supposedly poignant scenes of ‘child’ vampires.

Full review at Onya Magazine

Monday, January 18, 2010


image1 Freeman/Damon image2 Mandela/Pienaar

Rarely has a film been more concerned with presenting visual binary opposites than the Clint Eastwood directed Invictus. From the opening shots onwards, the audience is continually beaten over the head with the black and white dichotomy of South Africa. In fairness, it would be hard to tell the story of modern South Africa and not have the issue of skin colour at the forefront; however the approach taken by Eastwood leaves no scope for audience knowledge. Invictus is a film about South Africa but made with very American sensibilities, a combination which lacks subtlety.

Taking John Carlin’s book, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, and turning it into a film which explores the relationship between Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman, Se7en, Million Dollar Baby) and the South African rugby captain, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon, The Bourne Trilogy, The Informant!), seems to have Oscar-bait written all over it. Mandela’s struggle to unite South Africa, using the 1995 Rugby World Cup his country was hosting, is rousing and inspiring stuff; especially considering the mantle he used to bring his people together, the Springboks, was one of the most public embodiments of Apartheid for black South Africans.

In a role that he seems born to play, Morgan Freeman does a great job as Nelson Mandela. He has his voice and physical stance down to a tee, not to mention the gravitas both men seem to share. Matt Damon is perhaps a little less successful in the accent stakes, but his commitment to the role is evident in his rugby player shaped physic. What the film lacks is certainly not good actors. The problem is all the little choices that have been made regarding shot angles and soundtrack, and this seems to fall on the head of the usually impressive Eastwood (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Changeling).

Full review at Trespass

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Most Anticipated Films of 2010

There is a lot to be excited about this year in film; epics focused on ancient mythology and apocalyptic battles between archangels, screen adaptations of some of our favourite books, plus new movies from respected directors like Martin Scorsese and Paul Greengrass.

For Trespass' cover story this week I ask some Trespassees to gaze into the future and pick their 3 most anticipated 2010 film releases.

Here are my picks;

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call- New Orleans

image1 image2

Director: Werner Herzog
Writer: William M. Finkelstein
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes, Michael Shannon, Xzibit
Australian Release Date: Unconfirmed

Terence McDonagh (Nicholas Cage) is a cop in post-Katrina New Orleans, trying to solve the murder of 5 African immigrants, the twist- he has some pretty bad character traits including serious gambling and drug addictions. Based very loosely on the much praised 1992 film, Bad Lieutenant which starred Harvey Keital in the title role, this 2010 reimagining looks completely over the top. Main drawcard- Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World), a man who it appears will try anything filmic once, remaining completely non-genre specific. With Nicholas Cage channelling full ‘Nicholas Cage’ madness and eccentricities accompanied by a no holds-barred script, this film is either going to be cinematic genius or absolutely awful.

image1 image 2


Director: Spencer Susser
Writer: Spencer Susser, David Michôd
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Rainn Wilson, Devin Brochu
Australian Release Date: Unconfirmed

TJ (Devin Brochu), a lonely 13 yr old, is befriended by the disturbed Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who acts as both his mentor and tormentor. Getting attention last year for his short film
I love Sarah-Jane, which was filmed in Australia and featured Mia Wasikowska, Hesher is Susser’s debut feature length film and is set to premiere at Sundance this year. With the increasingly brilliant Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin, Brick, (500) Days of Summer) topping the casting, it is hard not to be excited about this indie flick.

image 1&2

Fish Tank

Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing
Australian Release Date: 25/03/10

Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a troubled 15 yr old, excluded from school, her life is set to change when her mum (Kierston Wareing) brings her new man (Michael Fassbender, Hunger, Inglourious Basterds) home. Academy Award winner Andrea Arnold (Best Short Film 2005) is definitely a director to watch. Her jaw-dropping debut feature Red Road won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2006. Fish Tank also won the Jury Prize at Cannes 2009- co-incidence, I don’t think so. I can’t wait to see this film which promises to be both confronting and thoughtful.

Honourable mentions: Scouting Book for Boys, Never Let Me Go, Kick-Ass, Inception and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Go to Trespass to see the full article

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Up in the Air


It feels a bit like media hype has taken what is a good film from director Jason Reitman (Thank your for Smoking, Juno) and turned it into a great one. Looking at the 6 Golden Globe nominations certainly gives the impression that this will be one of the best films you’ll see in 2010. Up in the Air is funny and emotive, cleverly playing with the movie formula we know so well - RomCom. An enjoyable cinema experience, the film ultimately falls in the gap between good and filmic brilliance.

Starring George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, whose job it is to travel America firing people. Ryan is a man who delights in frequent flyer programs and complete isolation from familial ties (in fact just about any land based ties). His highly-controlled existence is brought into question when he meets two very different women; Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick, Twilight, New Moon) is a bright young thing who works for the same company as Ryan and wants to revolutionise their business practices, and Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Orphan) a beautiful, successful businesswoman who appears to be a mirror image of Ryan, just with more humanity.

image1 image2

Taking the topical issue of company restructures and redundancies, Reitman has gone a step further into America’s economic recession and hired people who had recently lost their jobs to play some of the film’s firees. How, as an audience member, you could know some of the extras were chosen for their real-life understanding of being made redundant had you not been told, and if it makes a difference to the film experience, is questionable - but it sure does make a good story.

Read the full review at Trespass

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Psycho turns the big 5-0


Alfred Hitchcock’s horror masterpiece is 50 this year and Sydney sure knows how to mark a milestone. The Opera House is hosting an amazing tribute to Psycho and the two men who made it great, celebrating the collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock, master of suspense, and Bernard Herrmann, one of cinema’s greatest composers.

On the 5th January in the Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall, the digitally projected film will be accompanied by a live soundtrack from the specially assembled all-strings Sydney Lyric Orchestra. Featuring the Principal Violinist for the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Adrian Keating.

Not simply a film experience, this performance recognises the importance of musical scores to give films added dimensions, proved by the remarkable Psycho; “the sound of Bernard Herrmann’s music with its piercing strings underlying every jab of violence really is one-of-a-kind and well ahead of its era, and truly creates the excitement, tension and fear” Conductor-Nic Buc.

This is a unique opportunity to not only see but also hear this 1960 classic as never before.

Never one to miss a chance to make a list or pay respect to filmic brilliance, here is Trespass’ Psycho Memorial List, in homage to the film which switched most sensible people to glass shower doors.

Top 5 Films with a Twist
(don’t worry we won’t spoil the endings…)

5. The Crying Game (1992)

Though it has been spoofed often, director Neil Jordan should take theses pale imitations as the highest form of flattery. By imploring film reviewers and cinema patrons not to reveal the twist- film distributors, Miramax ran an ad campaign that has gone down in marketing history.


4. Fight Club (1999)

The first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club. So we’re keeping our lips sealed about this Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter film that proves sometimes the film version is better than the book.

3. Oldboy (2003)

This Korean flick was part of a trilogy of films made by Chan-wook Park. With an ending that is more disturbing than the scene where star, Min-sik Choi eats a live octopus, Oldboy is high on shock value in what is a very violent and twisted look at revenge.

2. Usual Suspects (1995)

Bryan Singer could dine out on this film for the rest of his life. Starring Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne and a beautiful mumbling performance from Benicio Del Toro this film is an impressive reworking of the classic who-dunnit.

1. Don’t Look Now (1973)

This beautiful film from Nicolas Roeg is a chilling look at loss and grief. Starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, the film was adapted from a short story by Daphne Du Maurier (of The Birds and Rebecca fame - which were turned into classic Hitchcock films). The ending is something you will never ever, not in your wildest dreams see coming (unless you’ve read the book and that’s cheating).


Posted on Trespass on 03/01/2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Trespass' Top 3 films of 2009

I asked Trespassees to list their Top 3 Films of 2009. Here are my picks,

3. Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, USA)

Rachel Getting Married is a lovely homage to the dysfunctional nature of families everywhere. Playing out over a weekend of wedding celebrations, a family desperately struggles to paper of the cracks- none able to forgive or forget past grievances. Demme’s respect for his characters and use of eclectic music and design has beautifully combined to create a film which I found charmingly funny and devastatingly sad.


2. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, Sweden)

This Swedish film is like no other vampire flick of recent times, with striking wintry landscapes and unglorified violence (for the most part) it exudes loneliness and isolation. I went into the cinema knowing absolutely nothing about this film and left completely gobsmacked. With perhaps the best pool scene ever conceived, Let the Right One In is like a fable for bullies- eventually you’ll meet someone stronger, bigger or just plain scarier!


1. The Class/Entre Les Murs (Laurent Cantet, France)

Based on the writings of former teacher François Bégaudeau, who plays a version of himself, this French film highlights the delicate balance of power that exist in every classroom. With issues of race, culture and bureacracy ever ready to boil over, the film explores its characters without favouritism- leaving me both hugely frustrated but also sympathetic to their actions. Probably not great viewing for would-be teachers!


click here to see all the picks at Trespass