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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: DEC 98

Letters to the Editor are welcome; they can be on any relevant subject (relevant meaning relevant to this zine) and preferably no more than 350 words. Please include your name and city where you live. The Editor has the right to edit. Wed like to hear your movie related stories, anecdotes and of course your opinions. Drop us a line to editor@urbancinefile.com.au

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 Australia.
Adam Paull
Pyrmont, Sydney

19/12/98
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. Thank uou.
Keith Golphin
Riverton, Western Australia 6148

Letters 10/12/98

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 recogniseability.

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.
Zoey Martin
Sydney

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 movies.

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
Mick Howles
Projection Manger
Woomera Theatre Group, SA

Andrew replies:
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.
Kenton Baines
Sydney

Letters 10/12/98

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.
Cheers Robyn,
Hawthorn-Vic

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) its a pity, because if its based on the novel by T.C.Boyle "Budding Prospects" they've missed out badly. Its 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?
David Berg
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,
Tony Curnow
Melbourne
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.

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