Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vente du siècle!


JB HiFi has once again restored my faith in quality bargain sales.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Les Quatre Cents Coups (or The 400 Blows), I embarked upon a hunt to find my own copy of this momentous cinematic artwork.

The uni library has a few yellowed books but no copies of the movie to hire. But why hire when you can own?

Expecting a challenge, I was blown away by the sale at JB, stocking not just a copy of the winning 1959 film for Best Director at Cannes, but a 4 DVD set showcasing the 'Adventures of Antoine Doinel'!

Sacré bleu!

The lowdown:

Françious Truffaut, cinematic genius considered to be soley responsible for the New Wave era of french cinema, created a fictional character by the name of Antoine Doinel.

Between 1959 and 1979, Truffaut created five films following the mischievous Doinel as he matures through a life that closely follows the directors own, leading one to believe that the films are more of an autobiographical series.

All five Doinel films star the lively Jean-Pierre Léaud who formed a close friendship with the director.

Their similar appearances are striking, with Truffaut and Léaud only appearing face to face onscreen in La Nuit Americaine (1973) despite numerous cameos of the director in earlier productions.


Over the 20 year span, audiences have watched Jean- Pierre Léaud grow into a livelier, resilient Antoine, alter-ego of the director, making this DVD set an amazing addition to any collection.

The set contains;

The 400 Blows (or Le Quatre Cents Coups), 1959
The Brats (or Les Mistons), 1957 - short film, 18minutes
Antoine and Collette (or Antoine et Collette), 1962 - short film, 29minutes
Stolen Kisses (or Baisers volés), 1968
Bed & Board (or Domicile Conjugal), 1970
Love On The Run (or L'amour en fuite), 1979

Plus all the original theatrical trailers, filmography and a 10 page booklet.
I paid $37 for this incredible set - that's about 6bucks for each masterpiece!

Find yours at either JB HiFi or by logging onto www.umbrellaent.com.au and clicking on the World Cinema tab.


Saturday, September 19, 2009



I'm one of those people who actively avoids watching trailers to a movie.

Sure, they're a good resource for answering the age old question "What's it about?" but there's other ways to understand a synopsis without having the excitement blown for you in the space of 80 seconds.

Trailers seem to be a miniature movie in themselves and because of this, I believe they show waaaay too much.

This is why I flat out refuse to watch any trailers for Tim Burtons latest adaption 'Alice In Wonderland', set to hit Oz in 2010.

Amongst other exciting installments heralding a new decade, this visual feast is one of the most anticipated.

Featuring Burton's signature style of jaw dropping cinematography and animation, the film stars Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway, aswell as Aussie actress Mia Wasikowska playing Alice. Basically, it's a winner.

In light of its impending release, I've steered clear of YouTube, IMDB and Google images, determined not to have the novelty and surprise spoiled from overexposure.

Instead, I've spent the past week reacquainting myself with the filmography of the wired-haired wonder himself, Tim Burton, and even read through two great books on the side.

Anyone who's ever loved the classics like Edward Scissorhands and the Nightmare Before Christmas, would get a giddy little thrill from discovering the ideas behind their symbolisms.

I highly suggest either 'Burton On Burton', edited by Mark Salisbury and 'The Films of Tim Burton' by Alison McMahan as they're both a fantastic insight into each film from conception to creation.

Indulging in my Burton Bonanza, this week I watched;

Batman Returns
Big Fish
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Corpse Bride
Edward Scissorhands
Mars Attacks!
Nightmare Before Christmas
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

You'll notice I omitted Batman Forever. This was merely only produced by Burton, who admits he had very little to do with its creation as he was busy filming Ed Wood at the time.

If you get through all of these and you're still craving a Burton fix, I’d be a bit concerned. Still, be sure to hit up Ed Wood, Planet of the Apes, Sleepy Hollow, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Burton's infamous short film, Vincent.


Burton has come a long way from drawing cute animals like Disney's 'Fox and the Hound' by forging his own distinct, enviable style into the hearts of millions.

So on yer bike!

Pop down to your nearest Blockbuster and ask for Burton!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

Annoying spell check's at a computer near you!

*The following review contains many spoilers!*

The highly anticipated new installment from Quentin Tarantino has finally hit Australia, and folks, this is one movie you have got to go see on the big screen so don’t read any further until you have!

Set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, we follow the story of various characters, some Jewish, some just plain angry, seeking their own personal revenge upon Nazi troops - the word ‘story’ being the operative word here. Viewers will discover that the film has been divided into chapters, with the first of these even stating “Once Upon A Time…”.
At this moment, we are reminded this is merely a story of fictional characters set loose in a real moment of history, where anything can happen.

With QT being the puppet master, prepare to be shocked/satisfied with exaggerated violence and black humour, such as a scene opening with an ECU of a scalping. I havn’t flinched so much since I watched Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou.
Yes, it’s violent. But it’s a revenge story, set in WW2, created by Tarantino. That’s a winning combination. But as QT once famously said, “You don’t go see a Tarantino movie and not expect to see violence, alright? That’s like going to a Metallica concert and asking the fuckers to turn the music down!"

But these aren’t cheap shots designed to just make you gasp or repel. They strike in the midst of calm - emphasizing on the war’s sudden brutality that was always lurking beneath the surface. Additionally, it demonstrated the sacrifices and devotion the characters lived and died by.

It’s messy and bloody but the story is tight, succinct and superbly cast. Christoph Waltz and Mélanie Laurent are fine actors, their deceptively cool demeanors designed to shock and taunt, while mainstream celebrity appearances from Mike Myers and Brad Pitt, surprisingly, don’t deter the focus as one may expect, but rather, bring characters to life by injecting the film with a refreshing bout of humour, with Pitt managing to grab most of the laughs - particularly when expressing his dislike towards fighting in basements.

Reflecting the various cultures effected by the war, the film contains multilingual dialogue, ranging from English to subtitled French and German (and a fourth if you want to count Pitt's delightfully tragic Italian. “Bonjourno…?”).

If you’re quick, you’ll also discover QT has paid homage to various cinematic styles and references that provides a fresh, kooky new way of telling a story based on a familiar issue.
On-screen animation of names and freeze frames echo gritty 60’s television programs while the score of Leonie-esque spaghetti western music playing upon the “Bear Jew”s’ arrival gives a nauseating expectation of gore. QT has fine tuned our sense of hearing - not even Bob Dylan was safe.

Using these graphics can be distracting as they noticeably ‘pull’ viewers out of the world their watching. QT indulges in not only directing his crew, but audiences aswell. Occasionally, there’ll be arrows, circles and names scribbled on the screen. At one point, we’re even given a brief history lesson on the flammable qualities of celluloid film by the narrative voice of Samuel L. Jackson.

Again, this all aids to building the suspense for the anticipated “Operation Kino” against Nazi troops while highlighting the fictional qualities of the film. Peeking glances at a blueprint reminds you it’s just a construction.

Direct references include mention of 1929 silent film, Pitz Palü plus an assortment of movie posters adorning the cinema walls such as La Assassin Habite au 21. More pronounced references are exemplified in German director G.W Pabsts’ appearance in the form of a guessing game, or the Max Linder film festival and how Private Zoller “always preferred him over Chaplin.”

However, staying true to the stylistic path he forged for himself, Tarantino mirrors the techniques of his own works. Admittedly written around the time of Kill Bill, the similarities are expectedly uncanny, displaying QT’s love for double agents (another being scandalous Mata Hari, whose name adorns another game card).

Like Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds actively avoids having a protagonist, displaying how a single story can have several prime characters.

Keep your eyes peeled for the Mexican Standoff while you’re at it - that’s where several characters are aiming weapons at each other at the same time. Pulp Fiction’s was in the diner with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, aswell as Resevoir Dogs climatic ending. Heck, even True Romance had one!

And while on the topic of QT style, be prepared for shell shock. Clocking in at nearly 3 hours, this genius always knows how to keep a story progressing without ever being predictable, and he will play with your expectations along the way.

The very notion of watching a frightening mass murder in a cinema (with Shosanna's face that seemed eerily familiar to a cackling Carrie), while being in a cinema, made the horrific ordeal seem as realistic as much as it was extravagant, setting his film apart from any WW2 movie you’ve ever grabbed onto with all your wiener schnitzel lickin’ fingers.

This may just be one of the finest films for ‘09. I’ll bet my sauerkraut sandwich on it.

Rating: 5/5


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