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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR : Jul 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

15/7/99
RE: A BOUQUET
Hello,
Just wanted to congratulate you on having the best movie web page I have ever seen!

There are a few things that make me go to my local internet cafe and log-on each week to Urban Cinefile: I particularly like that you don't rate films 1-5 stars and that you have the smarts to rate your reviews "favourable" "mixed" etc. I am impressed that you don't have your reviewers hold back when they don't like something; or alternatively let them be a little gushy when they do.

And last but most important to me, as the mother of a 6 y.o. I am grateful that you have someone who actually has a child doing the kids movie reviews (my 6 y.o. is only allowed to see things as recommended by David Edwards' 4 y.o.). [There is nothing worse than having a 50 year old man with no kids saying that even the best kids movie is boring.]

All of your reviewers seem to be intelligent and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to cinema past and present; which is refreshing.

I only have one problem with your site; that is that I am now having to seriously consider outlaying a huge sum of $$$ to get my own computer at home so that I can log on every single day! Darn!
Well, thanks again.
Kind regards,

Michelle Kelly

Andrew L. Urban replies: Thank you for that big, well written and detailed rap! You made our day. And David Edwards’ little girl, Gaby, has her first fan letter!

RE: PASSION
I saw Passion last night and was really disappointed. I must admit I went under sufferance, as this was yet another Classical musician biography, and after Shine and the one about the nutty cellist I'd had enough anyway. But I like Richard Roxburgh (though he looks like Danny Kaye all through Passion, I kept waiting for him to sing Hans Christian Andersen) and I always go to Aussie movies. But what a bore it was; thankfully there were the flogging scenes (though how it got an R I don't know) but it was really painful to watch. And as you both said in your reviews, it is such a tiny piece of his life and doesn't explain a lot. I'd love to know how he coped with his mother's death and it amazes me he got married, and why did he go to the US when the movie has him idealizing Australia. Who knows? The costumes were excellent, and it did look good though.
David Berg, Canterbury, NSW

RE: ROBERT ALTMAN RETRO
While the touring Stanley Kubrick retrospective is great, I would LOVE to see a touring Robert Altman retro. Hopefully, if that ever happens, the people involved will include Brewster McCloud, a movie I've never seen but would like to.
Andrew Kieswetter, Adelaide

Ed: Let’s hope we don’t have to wait ‘till Altman dies!
We haven’t seen it either, but Dave Kehr of The Chicago Reader says: One of Robert Altman's most charming exercises in cabaret humor and off-the-cuff modernism. Bud Cort is Brewster, a sullen sprite who lives in the basement of the Houston Astrodome, where he is constructing a pair of mechanical bird wings with the help of guardian angel Sally Kellerman. It's loose and simpleminded in a generally pleasing way, though the Felliniesque ending seems a bit of a betrayal. With the then-nascent Altman stock company in force: Michael Murphy, Shelley Duvall, Rene Auberjonois, and John Shuck (1970).

8/7/99
Quite a few people were outraged by the fact that Paul Byrnes was chosen by the SMH to review the Sydney Film Festival this year. His first review, after the opening weekend, did not even carry a label announcing that he was the former director of 10 years standing - it was seemingly an attempt at passing itself off as an objective report.

No mention was made either of the fact that his wife/ partner (whatever) Mary Dickie is on the festival board. What hat was he wearing when he wrote the review - former festival director, or objective Sydney Morning Herald scribe? And while Garry Maddox resigned his position on the festival board so he could not be accused of conflict of interest when writing about the event - an entirely proper course of action - one could also ask if he is not somewhat close to the festival as far as the needs of an outside viewpoint are concerned?

Why wasn't the Herald's perfectly capable and experienced film reviewer Sandra Hall asked to cover the festival?

A question I'm sure many subscribers would like to see from a critique of Gayle Lake's first year as festival director is: how did the festival under her direction stand up next to Byrnes'? Since the answer from most subscribers I spoke to was, "a whole lot better!", is it not strange that the most widely read weekday paper among festival-goers was unable to answer - or even frame - that question? Is it not a disturbing sign of the lack of diversity in our arts commentary in this country, and of a small-town parochialism unbecoming of the Olympics city, that such a dodgy state of affairs situation should be allowed to pass with no public comment?
Yours,

(name & address supplied)

Ed: We have invited Paul McGeough, the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, to respond. See REPLY

Hi Andrew,
On the net at last. Okay, the surf has been up for the past couple of years & the lad needed time out from the computer screen. Enjoying the Urban Cinefile.
Regards

Phil Avalon, Sydney

RE: GOODBYE LOVER
Crissa-Jean Chappell, in her review of Goodbye Lover, is under the impression that one of the screenwriters, Joel Cohen, is in fact Joel Coen, brother of Ethan. She is incorrect. Note the spelling for starters. You would hope that a reviewer would check her facts before writing a review.
Blair Mahoney, Melbourne

Ed: Thanks for that - I should have picked that up myself.

Hi Guys,
Would you consider starting up a section for readers reviews? I think that it is great that you have 3 of you reviewing films and it allows for a good cross-section but it would also be good to have readers write a few lines on films as well. Amazon.com do this in their CD section and I find it pretty useful.

The reason that this springs to mind is my vastly different views on The Spy who Shagged Me from all of your reviewers. For me this was one of the most anticipated sequels ever ... and the biggest disappointment. Not only did I find it a lame re-hash of the original which looked like it had been constructed by Studio Analysts and written by Studio Executives but the rest of the full-house audience that I was with thought so too. There was barely a chuckle through the entire film, much less the belly laughs of the original. I think it's a con. Anyway, give this idea a thought.
Best,

Michael Bourchier

Ed:Yes, a good idea. We are (and have been) considering ways to do this, and we are hoping for an answer shortly. Stay tuned

RE AFI SCREENINGS
August is the month where we do not schedule any social events because it is the screening of the AFI feature film entries of the year. I am an AFI member and my partner and I prepare ourselves for 3 weeks of movie indulgence!!! What a feast. This is always something to look forward to in the year, apart from summer!!!!!!
Belinda Marshall

Ed: We are preparing a special promotion with the AFI for new members. If you are interested in joining the AFI (membership is $45 a year and entitles you to movie ticket discounts as well as admission to the screenings of all Australian films entered for the awards) REGISTER HERE. Write 'AFI membership' in the Subject field and include your postal address.

1/7/99
RE THE SUNRISE MOVIE IDEA PITCHING COMPETITION
Look, have I got this right? You want us to slave over a keyboard, come up with a fabulous idea, give it to a complete stranger in the hope that they will convince some minor wannabee in the lowest echelons of the advertising, oops film industry, that this idea might be worth stealing. And then... wait for it... we poor suckers have to cough up $25 *each* as bribe money to even get our hard work *that* far! Only one thing I can't figure out! It's late June and April Fool's day has long passed. Look, if you do manage to find someone who's prepared to hand over 25 bucks, could you let them know I have this fabulous Harbour Bridge that I'm (reluctantly) prepared to sell!

Stephen James Charman

Ed: For comment, we’ve passed your letter on to the creator and director of the Sunrise pitching event, Shani Dowling. She says:

"There is no doubt that films are about fantasy. If this offer seems like a fantasy too good to be true then it’s time to broaden our minds, look past ‘the bribe’ and ‘the paranoia’ (neither gets your film made) and believe in our dreams – of fantastic films. Scripts are slaving over a keyboard, yes, a true endurance test, and your film concept will probably not be sold to your best friend. So yes, a complete stranger. But of course, we only deal with the top professionals in the film business. As for the $25 fee, it’s to cover some of the costs involved. Don't forget the Harbour bridge idea! You've now put that idea out freely on Urban Cinefile for the world to see - you're already taking risks - terrific! Sunrise is serious about the development of new film concepts, and is working with the very people in the industry who can make it happen."

RE NOTTING HILL
This film was great because of the writing of the characters but can someone please tell me why so many filmmakers feel the need to conform to the ridiculous Hollywood classical endings. What a shame the ending ruined my experience of the film.
Thanks,

Leanne Scrivener, Melbourne

RE MR NICE GUY
David Edwards complains in his review of Mr Nice Guy that a Queensland numberplate is seen in what is supposed to be Melbourne. Has he not heard of the Pacific Highway, which facilitates this apparent anomaly???
Steve Lead, Sydney

David Edwards replies: I wouldn't have had such a problem with it except the Qld license plate was on what was supposed to be a Council garbage truck!

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