0 Comment(s) 05/20/2016 Films | News

Should you ever require an Oscar winner to compile cheat notes for a play, might we point you towards Geoffrey Rush, an actor who can make you rethink everyone from the Bard to the breast-beating Greeks, and who can still sound enthusiastic about his earliest stage turns in Waiting for Godot (opposite his then flatmate, Mel Gibson) and Juno and the Paycock.

The Australian actor is, accordingly, full of questions about Ireland’s centenary celebrations: “The thing that astonishes me about the O’Casey plays is the timeframe between the events and the writing,” he gushes. “It’s almost like reportage.”

The youngest of an elite group to have managed the great acting treble – having lifted the Oscar, the Emmy and the Tony – Rush is now such a familiar screen presence, one can easily forget that he was a “latecomer” to the movieverse.

A theatre veteran who trained at Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane and L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, Rush had tread many’s a board before his big screen debut. He was 44 and the movie was Shine, the 1996 biopic of the pianist David Helfgott, and the first performance to win the Academy Award, Bafta, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Movie Award and Screen Actors Guild Award.

“When I started out the subsidised theatre scene was taking off,” he recalls. “The film industry was still very small. It simply didn’t occur to me that I had a future there. But after years of doing eight plays a year, it was time for a change.”

Oscar nods

Rush has certainly made up for lost time with three additional Oscar nods for roles in Shakespeare in Love, Quills and The King’s Speech. Not to mention such box office stormers as Finding Nemo, Minions and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. He’s worked with Spielberg on Munich and the Coen Brothers on Intolerable Cruelty.

“I often get the squint,” he laughs. “‘It’s that guy. What’s he in again?’ Or, when I do get asked for an autograph – or more often a selfie nowadays – it’ll be dad telling their kids: ‘Look, it’s Capt. Barbossa from the Pirate movies’. And the kids have no idea what he’s talking about.”

Rush has also essayed the Marquis de Sade (Quills) and Peter Sellers (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers), a role he regards, perhaps surprisingly, as his darkest: “I almost scared myself. There’s something about all of Sellers’s contradictions that remains very unsettling.”

Next year, he’ll be squabbling once again with Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, but for the moment he has returned to his theatrical roots, sort of, with The Daughter, a reworking of Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, by Simon Stone.

“Simon is the enfant terrible, if you like, of Australian theatre,” says Rush. “About six or seven years ago, he was just out of drama school and he put on a version of Chekhov’s first play , Platanov. And it was classical and faithful. But entirely fresh and electrifying. I saw his Thyestes by Seneca. Nobody wants to see Seneca. It’s box-office poison. But it was mind-blowing. Then I saw his Wild Duck. So when the film version came up, I said, ‘I’ll play the duck if you want me to’.”

The Daughter, as befits its source, makes for properly searing family drama. Henry (Rush) has invited his estranged son Christian (Paul Schneider) to attend his marriage to a much younger woman (Anna Torv). The aloof patriarch’s closure of the local mill has already created much ill-feeling. And that’s before Christian reveals a certain family secret.

Old enough

“I’m now in the market for patriarch roles,” Rush says. “I used to be Lear’s Fool; now I’m Lear. But this was otherwise a very different role for me. It was very muted and introspective. My agent was surprised. Which I think was a compliment.”

Next month, Rush will be rather less muted as Ra, the Sun God, in Gods of Egypt. The CG bonanza was much-maligned on its US release earlier this year.

“Let’s be honest: it bombed,” he says. “But I really admired the director, Alex Proyas, who took on the film after his adaptation of Paradise Lost fell through. And I loved that it was completely original. You can’t say that about many films nowadays.”

The Daughter opens on May 27th.


0 Comment(s) 05/05/2016 Films | News

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne will be celebrating the extraordinary animated collaboration of two-time Archibald Prize winner Del Kathryn Barton and acclaimed filmmaker Brendan Fletcher with a new exhibition, “Del Kathryn Barton: The Nightingale and the Rose,” which opens June 21 and runs through September 18, 2016.

The exhibit in ACMI’s Gallery 2 will feature original artworks, hand-crafted paper props, photos of the animation production process and behind-the-scenes interviews with the creative team — as well as a space to watch the film in its entirety.

Produced by Aquarius Films, The Nightingale and the Rose features the voices of some of Australia’s best known actors, including Mia Wasikowska, David Wenham and Geoffrey Rush, as well as a score by singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko. It won Best Australian Short Film at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2015 and was nominated for the Crystal Bear at Berlin the same year.

Adapted from Oscar Wilde’s classic story, the 14-minute short blends Barton’s distinctive painting, papercraft, stop-motion and digital effects and manipulation (produced with some help from Method Studios) to explore the tragic fairytale story of the Nightingale, who gives up her life so that the Student can offer a red rose to the girl he admires, only for her to spurn his gift and cause him to swear off love completely.

“From the making of my paintings and drawings for the [Art&Australia] book project, to a three year (and often agonising) marathon making the animation, the Nightingale experience has been an extraordinary and multifaceted creative journey,” says Barton. “I feel so blessed to have shared the challenges of this journey with so many talented collaborators and to have created relationships that will no doubt enable many more film projects. I am truly in love with this exciting, exacting medium!”


0 Comment(s) 05/05/2016 Films | News

Top notch actor? $10 million. Visual effects team? $25 million Shooting in 3D? $15 million. Creating a film that brings viewers into another world? Not exactly priceless.

Over the past 10 years, movies have become more expensive than ever before, with the priciest one, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, costing Disney $300 million to produce in 2007. That’s almost $40 million more than the runner up 2012′s John Carter, a $264 million flop also by Disney. The slew of superhero and fantasy films that follow in our list of Most Expensive Movies Ever Made all cost upwards of $200 million to produce.

Our list is based only production costs—not marketing and other post-production expenses—and was sourced, unadjusted for inflation, from IMDB.

Had inflation been counted for, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End would have still been the most expensive film, costing an adjusted $341 million. Post inflation, 20th Century Fox’s 1997’s Titanic would have rounded out at $296.4 million to rank second. While the studio was originally concerned about its $200 million budget, the James Cameron film has grossed over $2.1 billion worldwide—and earned millions more on home video. Cleopatra, which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, infamously almost caused 20th Century Fox to go into bankruptcy at its 1963 price tag of $31 million.In 2016, it would have cost a steep $241 million—eye-watering but not implausible in Hollywood today.


0 Comment(s) 04/27/2016 Films | News

Although the fifth movie of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has already completed filming last year, a three-week extension of the production was held in Vancouver, Canada beginning on March 24, which was possibly meant to tie loose ends and plug all the loopholes in the overall filming.

It was an added cost on the part of Disney Pictures as reports have it that Pirates of the Caribbean 5 is unofficially gunning to be the most expensive movie that was produced in history. Unconfirmed reports place the movie budget to have gone past $500 million and it looks to balloon some more before its May 26, 2017 release date to global theaters.

However, reports later came out to confirm that the extended shooting in Vancouver, Canada was not meant to re-shoot some of the scenes of the film but actually it was made to accommodate the entry of Beatle’s great Sir Paul McCartney into the franchise in a cameo role most likely.

It was meant to be a quiet involvement for the iconic musician in the movie and the production team was trying their best to contain it but the information apparently found its way online and also in the media.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer along with Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg were actually the ones who called on the filming extension to add an extra big set-piece scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales built around Paul McCartney, reports Deadline.

Everybody seems to be mum on what role will McCartney be playing in the film but what seems confirmed is that the previous reports of a re-shoot are just cover for the filming of the extra scene.

McCartney actually has a long list of movie credits to his name but his participation in it was mostly in coming up with the musical scores for those films. In fact, the Beatles won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for the movie Let It Be and McCartney’s memorable acting happened when he played as himself in A Hard Day’s Night shown in 1964 and Help in 1965, both movies of which had their counterpart Beatles’ songs.

Corrective production work

Early last month, the reports of the three-week filming extension of Pirates of the Caribbean 5 in Vancouver was believed to be just corrective production work while the movie was already being edited in post-production.

Critics believe that the additional sequences shall also be shot to add the final touch to the movie.

Instead of going back to Australia, which would entail more cost, the production team decided to do it instead in nearby Canada.

Reports early last month said that Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush will be leading the other cast members who will do filming in Vancouver, Canada under the helming of Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg.

But Canadian fans were disappointed to learn eventually that filming was done in an indoor studio and not in public.

Way over the budget

Sometime in May 2015, four months before the movie wrapped up filming, Pirates of the Caribbean 5 was already US$70 million over its US$250 million budget, which only means that after four months of production, the movie could have actually doubled its given budget.

With the additional three-week filming in Vancouver, it is possible that the movie’s budget could already hit more than $500 million, making it the most expensive movie of all time.

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0 Comment(s) 04/25/2016 Films | Reviews

One of the main strengths of debutant Simon Stone’s The Daughter is its heavily atmospheric sense of place. Swapping Henrik Ibsen’s 19th century Oslo setting from The Wild Duck (on which this is loosely based) to a rural logging town in contemporary Australia, underpins the timeless nature of these events that could easily be transposed anywhere, anytime.

A deceptively gentle opening conceals the drama’s operatic destination. A hunter (Rush) in his 60s fires a rifle and clips the wings of a duck. Another man of a similar age, Walter (Neill), takes that duck and nurses it back to health. What then follows is a story that details the ways in which the families of these two patriarchs are inextricably linked.

‘The Hunter’ is Henry, a man of some stature, whose family has been employing the small community for a century at their logging factory – although we witness this era come to an end as the plant is forced to close.

Walter, on the other hand, has done time for embezzling company funds. His son, Oliver (Leslie), works at the hunter’s plant. Both Walter and his son live together with his son’s wife (Otto) and their teenage daughter, Hedvig (Young).

The narrative wheels are set in motion when the hunter’s son, Christian (Schneider), returns home from the US, after many years, for the occasion of his father’s imminent marriage to a much younger woman. For Christian, whose mother killed herself and whose own wife is now leaving him, this marriage conjures conflicted feelings.

When he’s reunited with Oliver, his close childhood friend, he’s welcomed into that man’s family with open arms. However, confronted by the warmth and love in Walter and Oliver’s family, which so sharply contrasts with his own, Christian’s jealousy unleashes a long-guarded secret which promptly starts to unravel both families with tragic consequences.

Asides from the country of origin and the casting of Geoffrey Rush, there is a tonal resemblance to 2001’s Lantana. The photography is similarly stylised: quietly assured without ever being showy. There is no homicide, however, as this is a drama of a more ordinary nature, albeit heightened.

The universality of themes related to familial dysfunction, and the betrayal of trust, work both for and against The Daughter.

Although immediately engaging, the pitfalls of employing well-worn themes, without (presumably) an author’s grounding in personal, first-hand experience is that they form a breeding ground for tired tropes and generic dialogue.

This is true here during several scenes of familial conflict in which lines such as “You never understood me” or “Please, it’s not what you think!” are used with such frequency that Stone’s melodrama veers perilously close to soap opera. Fortunately for Stone, for the most part, his well-chosen cast can conceal inadequate writing with knockout performances.

Scenes with less obvious agendas, for example between Hedvig and her father, are charming in their playfulness, while others, overly concerned with reaching a predetermined plot point, come at the cost of their believability. Portions of dialogue are rendered awkward and forced.

Nevertheless, the actors are usually up to the challenge of nailing the emotional truth of their predicament so that Stone’s intentions are made clear, even if his execution is sometimes muddled.


0 Comment(s) 04/23/2016 Films | Videos

In the last days of a dying logging town Christian (Paul Schneider) returns to his family home for his father Henry’s (Geoffrey Rush) wedding to the much younger Anna (Anna Torv). While home, Christian reconnects with his childhood friend Oliver (Ewen Leslie), who has stayed in town working at Henry’s timber mill and is now out of a job.

As Christian gets to know Oliver’s wife Charlotte (Miranda Otto), daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young) and father Walter (Sam Neill), he discovers a secret that could tear Oliver’s family apart. As he tries to right the wrongs of the past, his actions threaten to shatter the lives of those he left behind years before.

0 Comment(s) 04/11/2016 Films | News

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales already wrapped up its production in Australia last July. But Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush are expected to reshoot and film additional sequences in Vancouver.

Vancouver Sun confirmed that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will work under the production title Herschel Additional Photography. Depp and his wife Amber Heard were also spotted publicly after dining at Tojo’s, a Japanese restaurant in Vancouver on Thursday night [April 5]. As reported, the filming is said to have started on March 24 and will continue until April 13.

According to Vancity Buzz, Paul McCartney is also in Vancouver to join the company of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. It was reported earlier that the former Beatles member will have a major extra scene. His character, though, remains unnamed as of this stage.

The movie, fifth installment in the franchise, is reportedly the last. The movie has gone through a few challenges including some production delays, injury to its star, and cost overruns.

The movie had an initial budget of $250 million but racked up a $320 million bill after Depp accidentally injured his hand on set in Queensland’s Gold Coast last March. Because of his injury, production stopped for four weeks.

Furthermore, Depp was involved in illegally importing their two Yorkshire Terriers, Pistol and Boo, by private jet into Australia. There were claims that the actor was in hot water with the Australian authorities. The country has some regulations to prevent diseases such as rabies spreading to its shores.

Meanwhile, filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in Vancouver will reportedly take place at Seaspan’s shipyards in North Vancouver. The filming will be in an indoor setting as most of the scenes will be taken inside the Block Assembly Shop building, where the set of the pirate ship has been built. An insider also said that the body of vessels are fitted and welded inside the facility.


0 Comment(s) 04/06/2016 Films | Reviews

We can all agree that when it comes to comedy, Australian filmmakers get it wrong more often than right, bringing on more bouts of cultural cringe than chants at a cricket game. But when it comes to drama, it’s a different story.

Hot off the heels of a strong year for the local film industry with the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Dressmaker, comes The Daughter, a moody and intense story with powerhouse performances from Ewen Leslie, Geoffrey Rush, Miranda Otto, Sam Neill and newcomer Odessa Young.

The Daughter is a family drama set against the backdrop of a small town whose fortunes revolve around the just-closed timber mill owned by Henry Neilson (Rush). Henry’s estranged son, Christian (American actor Paul Schneider, Parks and Recreation), has come home after more than a decade away to be the best man at his father’s wedding to a much-younger housekeeper (Anna Torv).

Christian’s return, as is often the case with a prodigal son, serves as a catalyst for long-buried family secrets to be unearthed.

The Daughter is an impressive debut feature from director Simon Stone. At 31 years old, Stone has been called the “wunderkind” of Australian theatre, having previously been the resident director for Belvoir. He’s also mounted several productions since 2007 that have won him acclaim and a Helpmann Award for Best Play.

So it’s wonderful to see Stone apply his talents to a different medium. The source material for The Daughter isn’t new to Stone — it’s based on Henrik Ibsen play The Wild Duck, which Stone previously adapted for the stage in 2011 but the film is a significant departure from the Norwegian playwright’s words.

Modernised, The Daughter has a beautiful naturalism that is surprising for a first time director, especially one with a theatre background. The film is also imbued with a sense of disciplined drama when it could’ve easily gone for melodrama. It recalls Ray Lawrence movies such as Lantana and Jindabyne in that respect.

But it’s the performances that give The Daughter gravitas. While the ensemble cast is wonderful, Leslie is particularly brilliant as Oliver, best mate to Christian and father of Hedvig, the titular daughter.

Leslie is able to take his character from a content everyman who’s come to terms with his squandered youth and opportunities to a broken shell with authenticity and empathy. Leslie is one of the most underrated Australian actors with the general public. He’s worked prolifically across film, television and theatre and has a knack for choosing interesting roles with nuance – if you haven’t seen him in Dead Europe, you should.

But it’s Young’s luminous face that will haunt you days after walking out of the cinema. The Daughter is Young’s second film but audiences may recognise her from TV stints on Wonderland and Tricky Business. The teenager’s turn in The Daughter will, justifiably, earn her plaudits — she is able to convey her character’s innocence and complexity with a single look. Young is a star to watch.

The Daughter is in Aussie cinemas now.