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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: MAR 99

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. We’d like to hear your movie related stories, anecdotes and – of course – your opinions. Drop us a line to editor@urbancinefile.com.au

11/4/99

Dear Andrew,
I have just caught up with your latest venture with YAHOO and thought more congratulations should be delivered to you and your team. You are certainly at the forefront of this new medium.
Warm Regards,
Natalie Miller, Sharmill Films, Melbourne

NASTY, BRUTAL … & I LOVED IT
I don't know whether I'm going nuts but Payback is nasty, brutal and morally reprehensible - and I loved it from beginning to end. Even though I agreed more with Paul's rave than either Andrew’s or Louise’s, Urban Cinefile’s spread of opinion represented the film far more accurately than any of the US reviews I read on the net after returning from the screening last Monday (which were mostly clueless in extremis - an empty exercise in comparing the film to the John Boorman version of the story - as if this wasn't an obvious attempt at something different). Most reviewers, including yourselves, however, have missed the influences of blaxploitation (it reminded me of a white Shaft) and Hong Kong exploitation thrillers, with a dash of Mickey Spillane (Kiss Me Deadly?) thrown in. Also little commented upon anywhere has been the way the production design and costumes are such a skillful blend of one third 1990s to two thirds 60s and 70s (loved those CLUNKY phones!), or the total brilliance of the casting right down to the smallest role. William Devane - give that guy an Oscar. And the best tough guy dialogue in years . "If you don't understand something, get rid of it'." And "Go boil an egg," (hard-boiled, I presume).
Cheers,
Waldo Lydeker

SHAKESPEARE WITH RESERVATIONS
Thank God for Andrew Urban having some reservations about Shakespeare in Love, after all the other reviewers' and viewers' opinions of almost universal praise. I didn't think only Geoffrey Rush's character was overdone, I thought the whole film was frantic. All that rushing about. The script was well-written, certainly, but terribly obvious. I don't think obvious equates with witty. A "nice" movie to make people in the audience who aren't nearly as clever as they think they are feel well-educated and perceptive. I really hated this film.
This is a wonderful film site and I enjoy your opinions. As long I can get Andrew Urban's views, in particular, I will always retain confidence in your guidance.
Many thanks
Chris Ryan

DATE WITH LULU
Hi - not so long ago I noted on your March screenings page that 'Lulu on the Bridge' was scheduled to open on 5 March. Now the listing has disappeared - what's happening with this film? Is it still going to be released in Australia?
Many thanks,

Bruce Copland, Vic
Louise says: Release date has changed to sometime in April 99

WHERE IS THE CASTLE?
I was just wondering whether the Castle had screeneed in the States or if at least there are videos for sale somewhere in the world in the American VHS-NTSC format.
Thanks..
Jo Bunting
Paul Fischer says: The Castle is scheduled for US release in May through Miramax.

A FRIEND SPILLS THE BEANS
Hot on the heels of winning the ‘Fabo’ prize in the Valentine's Day competition, I'm inspired to extend my writing career in the direction of gossip columnist. The facts are that Darren Ashton, runner-up at Tropfest 99 with his short film The Extra, is a friend from way back, and when he claims that The Extra is his first foray into the short film genre, he is hiding a glorious history.
'Dazza' made his first short, Cave Scabs (on Super-8), when he was still at school. In it a group of friends dressed in inverted woolen car-seat covers and ugh boots ape about on a pile of rocks somewhere outside his hometown of Griffith (If you look closely you can see their school uniforms underneath). Cave Scabs is so compelling that I can't remember what happens in the end, but people die, clubbed mercilessly with rocks, or the found detritus of gum trees, or some such exotica.
Later, at Mitchell CAE, 'The D.A.' (aka Drastic Action) made the short, Wok Kitchen, with The Extra co-star, Mick Connolly. In this culinary coup a tin garbage can lid is transformed into a wok. At the time it was thought to be an entirely new form, combining kitchen craft, shed wizardry, and cheap special effects - but it didn't take off.
An Ashton retrospective would not be complete without mention of The Day of the Killer Cicadas. It would more aptly have been named '2.5 Seconds of Aimlessly Animated Cicada Shells', but that could have impaired its commercial viability.
Ashton has come a long way since his early 'experimental' work, but let's face it, there was a long way to go.
John Merkel

Ed: Thanks for the goss on your mate; in view of all that, suggest you sign up world rights to The Extra before Miramax calls Dazza! Take Wok Kitchen rights as well, just in case….

Hello -
Time flies, but Fistful of Flies is just now is playing in Los Angeles and I must say I liked it rather more than you did. Working in
child protective services for many years, I often wished we had movies like this to help explain some of the context in which the abuse we deal with comes from. The only serious flaw I found in the movie was the fact that the Aboriginal doctor didn't report the abuse of the child at the first viewing. Don't they have what we call "mandated reporting laws" in Australia?
Take care,
Walter Lippmann

4/3/99

Dear Editor
Having enjoyed reading your site for some time now, I was disappointed to read your feature Without a Gender Agenda? in the 25 February edition.

Your article seemed to suggest that the "said female journalist" should not have pursued a line of questioning based on an analysis of the film in the light of "feminist credentials". You seem to argue that this particular film should be exempt from a particular type of scrutiny - that of the feminist perspective.

You comment on the book’s chequered career and the controversy that surrounded it and note that in some ways the film is subject to similar issues but I can’t see why the controversial history of the book and film should deter anyone from analysing the material in the way they find most meaningful.

Surely as filmgoers, we should encourage a range of comment about film from as many perspectives as possible. We celebrate variety in our film watching when we choose to be challenged by the work of different filmmakers and when we watch films from varied traditions. Isn’t this desire to listen to many voices one of factors that will draw viewers to a film such as Lolita. Shouldn’t we welcome a similar variety in film analysis?

I am interested in many aspects of film such as stylistic, technical and ethical issues. I read widely and am happy to consider many perspectives including those of feminist writers. I would not like to lose these voices because a particular film is somehow deemed exempt from their scrutiny.

Finally I hope the "said female journalist" is not deterred by your reference to a more "illustrious writer." I’m interested in Erica Jong’s views but I hope I continue to have the opportunity to enjoy the individual insights of other writers.
Yours sincerely
Susan Cullen, ACT

Ed replies:
Thank you for your thoughtful and elegant letter. It is the weakness of my writing that has led you to the wrong conclusions about my arguments. It’s not so much a question of Lolita being ‘exempt’ from scrutiny from a feminist perspective, but of the scrutiny in question being contrived and hollow posturing. For example, to suggest that the film portrays Humbert – the man - as the only one to suffer is patently absurd. And to question why the story is told from his point of view is a bit silly; that’s not a genuine gender issue. If Nabokov had written the novel from Lolita’s point of view, then the film would have reflected that. In short, Lolita is not about male power, but male weakness. Just look at the guys! So in short, I’m suggesting that analysis of the film should be meaningful and genuine.

See Andrew L. Urban’s extensive reality check on some of the charges against the film in FEATURES

And ADD your own comment (please remember to put your full name and location)

4/3/99
Which of you liked The Faculty more & which liked Urban Legend - and it looks like you all liked Halloween H20. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer was a horrible flick. But the Urban Legend script was no better. I had nothing against the actors who are better screamers than Neve Campbell in Scream 1 & 2.
Here's my list of what are the best & worst, with my grade for each film:

1997:
Scream B
The Relic B
Mimic B+
I Know What You Did Last Summer B-

1998:
Scream 2 B-
Deep Rising C+
Phantoms C
Species 2 C+
Halloween H20 B+
Vampires C-
I Still Know ..... C-
Psycho (1998) B-

So far 99:
Bride Of Chucky B
Urban Legend C
The Faculty B

Brendan Day

Anyone care to COMMENT?

4/3/99:Venice Film Festival
What is the name of the movie that premiered at the Venice Film Festival this year that was written / produced by a Macedonian or Serbian? Thanks in advance.
Robyn Lui-Bright

Contributor David Edwards replies:
The film you are referring to may well be Emir Kusturica's Black Cat White Cat, opening nationally April 1, 1999.

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