20/12/98 Re "Oziwood"
I read Hunter Cordaiy's article on Oziwood with great interest, and I have to say I disagree with
almost everything he has to say. He laments the fact that "...what we get out of two
Star Wars features is a trained workforce of Star Wars film technicians who do not own or
profit from the production. No royalties flow into our local banks from Star
Wars...", and this of course is correct, but why should we expect Australian's to
receive royalties from an entirely American financed and produced production? If George
Lucas didn't bring Star Wars II and III to Moore Park, Australia wouldn't receive ANY
income or, maybe more importantly, training and experience, from the films whatsoever, so
obviously the "industry" comes out ahead. The Fox studios in Sydney are a major,
multi-million dollar facility built with the sole intent of attracting the big-budget film
productions to our shores. In complaining about a possible scenario where "...local
productions might be locked out...", Mr Cordaiy seems to believe that Mr Murdoch (and
the generous NSW tax-payers...) built the Moore Park studios for their benefit - he (and
we) hasn't. It would be nice to think that comparatively tiny budgeted Australian films
might get a look-in, but the reality is you can't build such an expensive complex and
expect local productions to put you into the black. So where will the poor, little Aussie
film producers go to get their film's made? The same facilities and personnel they've
always relied on - only now the production talent will be better trained and will be able
to make films more efficiently.
As an over-worked Australian taxpayer (and I'd like to say a big hello to
Mr Packer...), I've always had a quiet chuckle at people saying we have a film
"industry". Sure, we make some great films (and some stinkers...) but to use the
word "industry" implies that Australian production turns, at the very least, a
quiet profit. I can't think of any other "industry" that turns to government for
handouts more than film production. From training at AFTRS, right though to the striking
of prints and distribution, the Australian taxpayer is there more often then not handing
out cash in varying degrees... and so we should. Australia doesn't have the population
base for a self-funding, profitable film industry, but the benefits of Australian film
production on a worldwide stage are enormous.
Now that we have facilities like the Fox Studios, and the
well-established Warner's studios in Queensland, maybe it's time the taxpayers got a
little relief from the "industry". Who knows, it might one day be possible to
keep the future Peter Wiers, PJ Hogans, Bruce Beresfords, et al, where they belong - in
Thank you Andrew and all concerned for your ever growing web page. My family and I
love going to the movies but in the past we've been suckered into seeing movies that are
either not what they promise or worse still totally unsuitable for the kids. Your
professional reviewers have certainly come to the rescue, after reading their comments any
doubt is gone. I love the fact that you very much promote Australian content and of course
I love your competitions.
All the very best for the festive season to you all, your work is very much apreciated.
Riverton, Western Australia 6148
I would like to express my disappointment in some of the reviews recently
done by Paul Fischer. I was incredulous after having read his opinion on A Bug's Life and
on The Governess, especially because in the past I have always found his comments to be
insightful. Surely, he could come up with a better summation for The Governess than
"it stinks". He complains of stereo-types and of the film not knowing what it's
about, and yet he presumes to know? It seems he has attempted to enforce his own external
framework on the film and failed in the process, and blamed the film for his own failure.
Even more than this however, I was shocked when I read his review of A
Bug's Life, firstly, in suggesting that there was an ant war between Disney and
Dreamworks, he conveniently forgot to mention that Antz was started later than A Bug's
life, but rushed for an early release. So if A Bug's Life was "unashamedly taken from
The Magnificent Seven", the question arises of where exactly do you think Antz came
from? It is after all just a less visually enchanting, less involving version of A Bug's
Life, with ants that look like ET, and voices that overpower their characters due to their
I would also like to draw his attention to the fact that this Dreamworks
copy - catting of Disney is a pattern, consider for example the following films:
- Armageddon is scheduled for release and Dreamworks rushes the release of a replica Deep
Impact just prior;
- Toy Story is released and a few years later Dreamworks releases Small Soldiers;
- Doctor Dolittle is released, and Dreamworks decides to release Paulie; and finally
- A Bug's Life is in production, and Dreamworks begins production on Antz, rushing its
release before A Bug's Life.
However, all comparing aside, A Bug's Life is a visual masterpiece with
animation that appears to transcend it's own genre. In this film, the humour is present in
every minute detail, and it is in these details that the film finds its resonance. The
personality and originality is found in every character, and this originality is also
found in the script and direction, which are, for want of a better word, flawless - and
create a film that is truly exciting to watch. Each character in this film is truly unique
and reach new depths in the portrayal of animated characters. The script and direction are
no longer accompanied by the animation stereotypes of other animated features, and in this
manner it can no longer be viewed merely as 'a good cartoon', or 'a good family film', but
transcends this pigeon-holing, to be an incredible achievement in its own right. It's
greatest strength lies in the achievement at every level of film making, It is through
this film and through Mulan that Disney has re-established itself as the master of
animation, not only through technical superiority, but through their ability to tell
stories, and it is this aspect that cannot be matched and any imitation remains
insignificant when compared with Disney's mastery.
Paul Fischer replies:
Clearly you have some issues with my reviews, and I concede that my impression of Bug's
Life differs from most, but film criticism is a subjective art form. Some of your
comparisons don't quite ring true, and may I point out that there are no similarities
between Dolittle and Paulie, the latter of which will not be released here till January,
quite a few months apart. As far as Antz/Bugs Life is concerned, it is well known in
industry circles that these two companies specifically competed on this genre, and I felt
Antz was more script-oriented. However, I do admit I was a bit harsh on the poor Bugs, but
still feel that in many ways, it was inferior to Antz.
As for The Governess, on this I am NOT alone.
The majority of reviews were negative, and I assure you, I am very familiar with the
material. OK, my last line seemed simplistic, bit that's hardly the basis of my review,
and may I point out, I admire many of the film's technical qualities, but as narrative,
script and character-driven cinema, I felt it was trite and uninteresting.
We can't all agree on everything, and
occasionally, I'm the only one who likes something [What Dreams May Come, comes to mind].
Hopefully, you'll find some of my other reviews more to your liking.
First of all congratulations on your win in the Internet awards. A job
well done. I am a volunteer projectionist/manager at the Woomera Theatre in South
Australia, a small outback non-profit concern. Your site assists me greatly when it comes
time for movie selections with your excellent reviews and coverage of all the current
My query is regarding the current reviews listing. Checking through
todays newspaper it appears there are some movies not listed that are currently playing in
Australia at this time eg; Legionnaire, Soldier. I was just wondering if the site has been
updated this week at all or is this still in progress. I would like to get all the reviews
possible before I book the movies for January. Thanks
Woomera Theatre Group, SA
There were no media previews held for these films. There was one preview for Legionnaire,
and that was the night before it opened, which is past our deadline. However, we have
since reviewed LEGIONNAIRE.
Thankyou for sending me off to see the Babe premiere.. it was a wondrous
occassion even though the film itself was a tad disapointing.
I've just recently discovered this site and I think it's great,
especially as I won tickets to see Occasional Coarse Language which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I am trying to find out if the movie Nil by Mouth was released onto video as I missed it
when it was screening. Where can I find out which titles are on video and which video
store might actually have them? I find it so hard to find any art-house or foreign film
videos. I'm also trying to find a video of the film Western.
Louise replies: Nil By Mouth will be released
on video on February 16 (by Columbia TriStar); Western will be out through 21st
Century Pictures on April 28. Both should be available at major video chains like
Blockbuster, VideoEzy and Civic.
If Homegrown is as ordinary as your reviews make out (unlike many of the
US reviews, who also refer to the characters as stooges) it’s a pity, because if
it’s based on the novel by T.C.Boyle "Budding Prospects" they've missed out
badly. It’s a greatly amusing book. However, despite the characters and plot being
pretty much identical, I can't find any info that it is based on the book (Boyle also
wrote Road to Wellville, another great book ruined in film). Do you know?
PS Love your site
Andrew replies: We found no reference to the
book in the credits.
Andrew, I don't think I have ever e-mailed the staff at Urban Cinefile,
and thought it's better late than never. First of all, your site is most definitely the
best film entertainment site for Australians on the internet. It's different from the
others and also has competitions. It's like a whole film newspaper only on the internet,
its great! I am kind of a net friend with Luke Buckmaster, one of your teen writers, a
good reviewer. I am a huge fan (of Luc Besson) - I consider myself one of the biggest in
Australia - so I was so thrilled I was shaking when I found out that
Atlantis was coming to the big screen. I am planning to see it on opening night at the
Astor (even though I've seen it before on video - got it from England/France). I was even
more ecstatic when I realised that Leon (The Professional) was being shown as well at the
Astor this Saturday, although I'm 15 and not happy about that. Obviously it's R, and
although I have seen it over 20 times, I'm not sure they would still let me in. Anyway,
great site, great everything, and I'm pleased you enjoyed Atlantis, it truly is an amazing
feature. All I'm waiting for now is Leon : Version Integrale to come out here in Australia
(hopefully in 3 years, so then I can see it). yours sincerely,
PS: If you had a competition, anything to do with Luc Besson - I'd have to make sure I won
it :) - well done, and good luck in the future.