March 5, 2015

Vale – Daniel von Bargen

Filed under: Obituary — Rodney Twelftree @ 9:54 am
Daniel von Bargen - 1950-2015

Daniel von Bargen – 1950-2015

Character actor Daniel von Bargen, best known for his work in Sienfeld and Malcolm In The Middle, has passed away.

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March 4, 2015

Movie Review – Big Hero 6

Filed under: Movie Review,Walt Disney Collection — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Big-Hero-6-Review-Logo

- Summary -

Director :  Don Hall + Chris Williams
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, TJ Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Genesis Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell, Daniel Henney, Alan Tudyk, Stan Lee, Katie Lowes.
Approx Running Time :   102 Minutes
Synopsis:  The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.
What we think : A dynamite animated film that delivers heart, soul and pizazz. It may not be the best film of 2014, but damn if it isn’t one of the best animated films of the year.

Cuddly all over.

It must be tough for animation film-makers to come up with new stuff all the time. Pixar’s launch back with Toy Story has given us all manner of plot devices – talking toys, cars, animals, etc – that you’d expect the genre well to have run dry. Dreamworks, BlueSky (a subsidiary of Fox) and Disney all have their fingers in the animation pie to such a degree, the market is flooded by films of quality so variable it’s become hit-and-miss to stumble across a good one amidst the average. 2014’s glut of films saw gems like The Lego Movie, valiant efforts like The Boxtrolls, and utter rubbish like The Nut Job. Disney’s Big Hero 6, a film based on the comic book series of the same name, came out of the studio’s purchase of the Marvel brand, the comic book behemoth having the rights for the concept buried among their better known titles. In a sliding scale of brilliant to rubbish, Big Hero 6 sneaks well into the “brilliant” zone, and stays there; a pleasant mix of heart, soul, action and adventure.

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March 2, 2015

Movie Review – Penguins Of Madagascar

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Penguins-Of-Madagascar-Review-Logo

- Summary -

Director :  Eric Darnell + Simon J Smith
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast : Voices of Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, Peter Stormare, Werner Herzog, Danny Jacobs, Andy Richter.
Approx Running Time :  90 Minutes
Synopsis:  Four penguins work with a secret organization known as North Wind to defeat the nefarious plans of evil octopus Dave.
What we think :  Okay, I’ll admit, I busted a gut watching this. I laughed my ass off. It’s as silly a film as you can get, with its anthropomorphized animalia doing their usual schtick involving pop-culture references (which will date the film hugely in decades to come) and eye-bleeding animation of a standard so good it’s crazy, but Penguins Of Madagascar made me guffaw and clutch at my sides with glee. It’s a giddy, fun feature for the whole flippin’ family.

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This film in one word? Zany.

Yeah, back when Madagascar came out, I was convinced they’d make a feature on that film’s stand-out supporting characters, the Penguins. Three films later, plus a cartoon series, and finally our favorite animated penguin troupe has been given their own feature film to star in. Aimed squarely at the youngsters, with one eye on keeping adults entertained as well, Penguins Of Madagascar is a flat-out riot of pratfalls, animation and jokes, albeit at the expense of character or story.

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February 28, 2015

Vale – Leonard Nimoy

Filed under: Obituary — Rodney Twelftree @ 8:15 am
Leonard Nimoy - 1931-2015

Leonard Nimoy – 1931-2015

It’s hard to sum up the impact Leonard Nimoy had on popular culture. The man most famous for portraying the “logical” Vulcan, Spock, who joins Captain Kirk on the Enterprise voyaging across the Galaxy, in the Star Trek franchise, has passed away. And frankly, the world will miss him dearly.

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February 27, 2015

Movie Review – As Above, So Below

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

As-Above-So-Below-Review-Logo

- Summary -

Director :  John Erick Dowdle
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :   Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, Francois Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar, Cosme Castro, Roger Van Hool, Olivia Csiky Trnka.
Approx Running Time :   93 Minutes
Synopsis:   When a team of explorers ventures into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead.
What we think : Typically frantic “found footage” film delivers minor scares, certainly not at the level of Dowdle’s previous film, Quarantine. A silly premise with a low-budget vibe and a wrapper of French trashiness, As Above, So Below will elicit some thrills from scare-hunters, but everyone else will either spot the plot coming, or switch it off early when stupidity rules the day.

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Nobody likes being underground.

Another “found footage” film, another “documentary being made” premise that turns into a horror story of middling proportions. As Above, So Below, director John Erick Dowdle’s latest film to delve into the dark corners of our nightmares, sees us descend into the bowels of the Parisian catacombs, in search for some mysterious “philospher’s stone”, a literal alchemists Holy Grail, a material said to transmute substances into gold and, in some legends, provide eternal life. Like many films of its ilk, As Above has a fairly interesting, salivatory premise, and a foundation that piqued my interest, but the generic cliches of the genre folded this thing up faster than a house of cards. It’s amazing how much human stupidity ruins the best laid plans, and the bumbling crew of this film’s story inhabit the very poster imagery of human stupidity. As Above, So Below attempts to offer something fresh to the genre, I think, but ultimately, it comes up short. Minor scares and inane acting leave this film one best left in the deep, dark corners, undiscovered.

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February 26, 2015

The Ferncast – Episode #1: Oscars Wrap, Marvel’s Explosion, and DC’s Upcoming films

Filed under: Ferncast — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Ferncast-2015-Episode-1

Welcome to the first episode of The Ferncast – our official Podcast! – and in it, we take a look at the Oscars of 2015, Marvel’s re-acquisition of Spider-Man into the fold, and other news that’s been around a while.

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February 25, 2015

Movie Review – Moulin Rouge!

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Moulin-Rouge!-Review-Logo

- Summary -

Director :  Bazz Luhrmann
Year Of Release :   2001
Principal Cast :  Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, Richard Roxburgh, John Leguizamo, Jacek Koman, Caroline O’Connor, Garry McDonald, Keith Robinson, Natalie Mendoza, David Wenham, Peter Whitford.
Approx Running Time :  128 Minutes
Synopsis:   In Bohemian Paris, a young writer arrives at the famed bordello, the Moulin Rouge, to write a new musical for the leading lady, Satine, which whom he falls in love.
What we think :   Astonishingly mounted and produced musical film is mind-blowing in almost every area. A blistering soundtrack and musical score accompanies overly melodramatic plotting and angst-ridden performances from all involved, a theatrical production brought to the screen with thunderous potency and evocative, memorable visuals. Not for the faint of heart, and definitely for those who love theatricality over realism, Moulin Rouge! is one of my all-time favorite films ever. So expect the score to be high.

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Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

A defining Australian success story, Moulin Rouge! marked the third feature film from acclaimed local stage director Bazz Luhrmann, after Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet. In an era where the film musical no longer existed outside of the Disney studios, Moulin Rouge! not only resurrected the genre, it defined it for an entire generation. No longer restricted by stagey, technologically limited film-making such as that which existed during the musical’s heyday in the 50’s and 60’s, all of Luhrmann’s considerably on-point visual themes and cinematic tricks came to play on what would become the most talked about film of 2001. Garnering both acclaim and a degree of criticism, particularly for its editing (more on this later), Moulin Rouge! famously saw Bazz miss out on a Best Director nomination at that year’s Oscars, whilst the film would be nommed for Best Picture, and would go on to win for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design (a bittersweet moment, Bazz’s wife, Catherine Martin, scored gongs in both categories!). Whether it’s a good film, or a great film, remains a debatable argument we could ramble about for days, but as a film experience there’s no denying Moulin Rouge! is one of a kind.

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February 24, 2015

Movie Review – Foxcatcher

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Foxcatcher-Review-Logo-v2

- Summary -

Director :  Bennett Miller
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast : Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Vanessa Redgrave, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Anthony Michael Hall, Guy Boyd, Brett Rice.
Approx Running Time :   134 Minutes
Synopsis: The heir to the duPont family fortune hires a down-on-his-luck former Olympic wrestler to train potential Olympians to compete on a private team.
What we think :  Coolly directed by Miller, and led by three convincing performances, Foxcatcher is top-notch filmmaking. An undercurrent of tension, of confrontation and of expectation unmet, enthrall and strip bare the compelling true story of relationships gone wrong. This isn’t so much a sport movie as it is a human tragedy, the kind you can’t stop watching no matter how horrible the wreck will be. A worthy contender for a top 10 film of 2014.

So that’s what wrestling does to a man.

True crime is always vastly more thrilling than fictional crime. Okay there’s exceptions to that statement, but I’m not far from the truth here. Foxcatcher is a true crime story, a “Can you believe this” tale involving money, the love of money, and wrestling. If Foxcatcher were a completely fictional story, you’d think it pretty mediocre by Hollywood standards. Thankfully, Foxcatcher is outstanding, led by a trio of terrific performances, including a particularly effective one from Steve Carell. It centers around two wrestling champions, played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, who are seconded to John E duPont’s “Foxcatcher Farm” to train athletes to become Olympic level wrestlers. Tatum and Ruffalo are low-key and excellent in their respective roles, with Tatum especially reining in his usual glint-in-the-eye deadpan comedy schtick to provide the film’s core emotional arc.

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February 23, 2015

The 87th Academy Awards – Our Thoughts

Filed under: Awards Season,Opinion,The Oscars — Rodney Twelftree @ 6:56 pm

Our-Thoughts-Logo

So, what happened with Neil Patrick Harris? A guy who usually nails a hosting job had a really, really off night at this years Oscars. Every joke (bar one) felt flat, every moment (bar one) felt contrived and forced, from an actor who is typically a breeze to watch glide through a performance. My huge expectations for Harris’ work went unfulfilled: I thought the “what’s in the box” gag that ran through the show was actually awful, and one of the worst I’ve seen to date in any Oscars ceremony. Its payoff lacked edge, and there was a perfunctorily swift conclusion that told me somebody backstage had said “wrap this thing up Harris, it’s dying a slow death on Twitter”. Indeed, my Twitter feed was flooded with people flat-out annoyed by it.

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The 87th Academy Awards – The Winners Announced!!

Filed under: Awards Season,The Oscars — Rodney Twelftree @ 11:00 am

Winners-Announced-Logo

Good morning all! Welcome to our official Winners Announcement post for the 87th Academy Awards. Below you’ll find a list of the categories for which somebody, or an honored few, will receive the film industry’s highest honor. As each award is given, we’ll update this post to reflect the most current information. Please refresh this post accordingly throughout the day (Monday afternoon, Monday 23rd, Australian time).

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The 87th Academy Awards – Our Predictions

Filed under: Awards Season,The Oscars — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Our-Predictions-Logo

Well, we’re here again folks. That time of the year when Hollywood gets around its own for a bout of back slapping and hand shaking, most of which is so incestuous it makes incest look sexy. I jest, not really.

With The official Oscar ceremony barely 24 hours away, I’ve rummaged through my expectations and beliefs and come up with a selection of choices for the films I think will take home the gongs. No doubt I’ll be wrong, because I usually am, but I like to think my logic is soundly impaired to the point of being accurate in reverse. I’ve made my picks in all but five of the categories (Foreign Language Film, Feature Documentary, Short Documentary, Animated Short and Live Action Short I have seen none, so can’t make a call on them), so read on and see if my choices match yours!!

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February 22, 2015

Movie Review – Theory Of Everything, The (2014)

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

The-Theory-Of-Everything-Review-Logo

- Summary -

Director :  James Marsh
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Maxine Peake, Charlie Cox, Harry Lloyd, Emily Watson, Guy Oliver-Watts, Simon McBurney, Abigail Cruttenden, Charlotte Hope, David Thewlis, Christian McKay, Enzo Cilenti.
Approx Running Time :  123 Minutes
Synopsis:  The biography of Professor Stephen Hawking, as he comes to terms with the gradual disintegration of his body through motor neurone disease.
What we think :  Charming, delightful, moving. All words you could use to describe The Theory Of Everything. Also, heartbreaking and uplifting. Hawking’s life is told in fascinating style, with a superb Eddie Redmayne doing a marvelous job essaying the great professor.

Travel into Infinity.

It would seem that 2014 became the year two English intellectual legends went head to head – Alan Turing, father of modern computer science, led the charge in The Imitation Game, while Stephen Hawking, the legendary cosmologist and theoretical physicist backed it up in The Theory of Everything, two biographical films about people the human race is better for having had amidst us, and two films nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The Theory Of Everything has the distinct advantage, however, in that Stephen Hawking is (currently) very much alive, making his stamp on human knowledge and the pop-culture zeitgeist all that much larger now than even twenty years ago.

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February 21, 2015

Movie Review – Selma

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

Selma-Review-Logo

- Summary -

Director :   Ava DuVernay
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Common, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Touissant, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr, Alessando Nivola, Niecy Nash, Giovanni Ribisi, Keith Stanfield, Andre Holland, Tessa Thompson, Nigel Thatch, Michael Sheen, Dylan Baker, Michael Papajohn.
Approx Running Time :  127 Minutes
Synopsis:   The story of Martin Luther King and the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in the name of voting rights during the 1960’s.
What we think :   Oscar-bait film is given more heft due to real-world racial events in America, not in 1965, but in 2014 – Ferguson’s racial uprising, as well as the New York City police killing of an unarmed black man on a street corner provide a unique parallel to Selma’s undercurrent of tension between blacks and whites.

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Woulda made a great Michael Jackson song.

Selma’s existence would seem, to the outsider, to be Oprah Winfrey’s mission in life to snag herself an Oscar. After The Butler failed to garner the big gongs in 2013, 2014’s “Black Message Movie”, Selma, based on the march of black protesters to gain the right to vote, is purpose built for critical acclaim. Trouble with films designed as Oscar bait is that often they fail to do justice to the story they’re trying to tell purely because they’re trying too hard. Winfrey’s producer role in Selma could be seen as another hit at Oscar (she won’t win it, because there are other films around in 2014 that far outstrip Selma’s grand plans for racial equality) but does that make the film less worthy as a work of art? Selma’s timing couldn’t be more perfect. 2014 was a horrible year for race relations in America. The uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer – who would go without charge or trial, sparking outrage by sectors of the community – and the captured-on-camera death of an unarmed black man on the streets of New York City, by a white police officer, for an offense so unremarkable it’s outrageous with its indifference, catapulted the gap between white America and black America firmly into the world spotlight. For a country led by a black president, the irony wasn’t lost on many. Selma, another in a long line of racially charged cinema outings over the last decade, is perhaps a victim of its own timing more than anything the film-makers do right or wrong. The problems Selma has aren’t so much creative, rather they’re indifference considering the status of American blacks today.

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February 20, 2015

Should The Oscars Be Considered The Pinnacle Of Film?

Filed under: Awards Season,Opinion,The Oscars — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:00 pm

Pinnacle-Of-Film-v2

Each year, comedians snark at the outmoded nature of the Academy Awards – the longest running film awards in America, if not the world. Out of date, antiquated, irrelevant: what exactly do the Academy Awards stand for? At one point, they represented the best of the best, the ultimate achievement in film, at least by Hollywood’s standards. However, as the film industry has become more globalized, and Hollywood films vie for the dollars of those produced in other countries, are the Academy Awards now just another in the endless stream of meaningless awards given out during a few months of each year? It seems every man and his dog gives out awards – newspapers, media commentators, the various guilds and associations to which multiple film industries depend, and on whom the most money is spent. Why, then, when the pool of award tributes is so diluted with “neverheardof’em’s” and “wannabes”, do we still consider the Oscars to be the top of the heap?

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Movie Review – Imitation Game, The

Filed under: Movie Review — Rodney Twelftree @ 12:01 am

The-Imitation-Game-Review-Logo

- Summary -

Director :  Morten Tyldum
Year Of Release :   2014
Principal Cast :  Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Rory Kinnear, Alex Lawther, Jack Bannon, Tuppence Middleton, Steven Waddington.
Approx Running Time :   114 Minutes
Synopsis:   The story of Alan Turning, the man who cracked the Nazi Enigma code.
What we think :  Irrespective of the film’s quality, I’ll always remember it for being able to finally type the name “Tuppence Middleton” into my cast credits at the top. The Imitiation Game is a solidly mounted, well acted, prestige biopic offering a glimpse into the life of a man who, in many respects, saved countless lives and turned the tide of World War II, and yet remained largely a forgotten figure in its context. While the film never flexes its considerable historical muscle to the fullest, it serves its purpose and delivers a nice interlude about an aspect of the war I don’t think is remembered enough.

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When in doubt, fudge the truth.

The last time the story of the Enigma problem crossed the big screen, it was Dougray Scott’s enigmatic (pun intended) Enigma, and Jonathan Mostow’s blockbusting submarine thriller U571, doing the heavy lifting. While U571 was a fabrication in every way, and Enigma’s fictional characters undertake actual historical dramatizations, it’s taken until The Imitation Game for the story of Allan Turing, here played by Benedict Cumberbatch, to be brought to life in any populist manner. The Imitation Game is a biopic replete with a terrific cast, high production values, and a really great story, and anyone with even a passing interest in history is advised to give this one a go. Told through a three-pronged narrative, The Imitation Game tries to detail the complexity of Turing’s life, as the father of theoretical computer science, and it mostly succeeds – if by intent one could consider it a success.

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