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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: JUNE 2000

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

29/6/00

I've seen Rachael Griffiths interviewed in various places and it struck me how little I knew about her previously. I am a portrait artist and, in fact, was a finalist in this year's Archibald prize with a portrait of Ken Done. After reading your ARTICLE, I thought she would make a wonderful subject for next year.
By the way, I have taken quite a detour around your site on my way to this email and think its great - I have to wait for things to get to video these days and so really appreciate the reviews about some of the older movies as well - well done!

Melissa Beowulf

I'd like to make a comment of the film Down to You. I think your reviewer is a guy. Anyway this is from a girl's point of view.
It was a great movie and I think that it is more suited for the female viewers. Yes it was a typical romance movie where girl meets boy etc. but this had little twists at the start and through it when something happened. eg. When Al (Freddie Prinz Jnr) was in the coffee shop at the start of the film and also with Imagine (Julia Stiles) when she came back from
France.
I've seen movies with both Freddie Prinz Jnr in (She's All That) and Julia Stiles in (Ten Things I Hate About You) and I think that they're top actors.
I'd give the movie 7 out of 10.

PS: I also think that Freddie is so cute, but hey, don't all the girls.
Lauren Bray, Sydney

Dear Urban Cinefile,
I am asking if you are planning on reviewing the Japanese animation festival which will be screening at the Dendy cinemas in Sydney as part of the Olympic Arts Festival. Among the films will be Hiyao Miyazaki's brilliant PRINCESS MONONOKE. I would love to see you review this masterpiece of animation.

Andrew Kieswetter, Adelaide

Ed: We ran a news story on this last week and will be endeavouring to review Princess Mononoke – among others.

WOODY NEWS
Dear Urban Cinefile,
I am hoping you can tell me when the Woody Allen films Sweet and Lowdown and Small Time Crooks are likely to be shown in Australia. I check your Upcoming Films list regularly, but see no sign of them. Will we ever see them??? Any light you can shed on this matter would be appreciated.
Regards,

Graham Catt

Louise replies: Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown (starring Sean Penn, Anthony LaPaglia and Uma Thurman) is scheduled for release on July 13. No news on Small Time Crooks, I'm afraid.

15/6/00

HEAD ON PLEASE
I am looking for the video Head On with Alex Dimitriades. Can you tell me where I can get that video because I checked in Canada, USA, no one had that movie. I saw your webpage which talks about that movie.
Thanks for your info,
Hoang Nguyen, Montreal, Canada

Ed: Joanne Azzopardi of Southern Star (the film's sales company) suggests you try Head On's American distributor, Strand Releasing, contactable by Fax 1 310 395 2502 or Tel 1 310 395 5002.

THE OUT OF TOWNERS
I was about to join the Urban Cinefile Movie Club as I enjoy reading the reviews and the movie information. But guess what - it seems I don’t live in Australia; I have to live in OTHER, because I don’t live in a capital city and there is no other option but OTHER. I know we poor suffering folk out in the bush have to put up with substandard services from health to highways, but please can you put in a selection that at least says regional Australia, or Queensland or whatever. I feel I’m being grouped with all sorts of undesirables and illegal aliens. At least the boat people get to go on TV. (You even give the Yanks a place.)

I know this may seem petty, but it is important that the big cities realise that people live in areas more than 100 km from a parliament house. For the record, I live in Townsville in NQ, along with another 100,000 or so people.
Hope you can change the Movie Club login.
On the good side, I saw Gladiators yesterday, loved it and loved your review. Se we do have movies up here.
Regards,
John Welch, Townsville

Ed: Fair point - we'll get onto it.

THE RUSSELL LETTERS - 4
DEBBIE & RUSSELL - THE LAST EPISODE

With regard to my previous letter, it was not my intention to start an international debate; but since I did, I respectfully beg a "Last Word". For the record, I have never met, worked with, interviewed or partied with Russell Crowe. For that matter, I don't personally know anyone who has. The impression (image) I have of him is based solely, like the rest of the general public, on what I see and read in his movies and interviews. When he snubs interviewers we lose a chance to learn about someone who is probably very interesting. Interviews are just part of his "acting job" and like every other job there are things we do that we don't really like. It doesn't mean we're changing our persona - just doing our job. I would like to say I agree with Terri that it is unfortunate that we don't get to see the complete press release. I do not, however, agree that all journalists/hounds?? should receive a jail sentence. Talk about narrow-minded! I think it's time to change your subscriptions. Even the venerable Urban Cinefile states that they have a right to edit (size, I hope, not content at least in my case it remained untouched, thanks). As far as Russell's humor, I have read things he has said and I agree it is definitely Australian. That doesn't mean we don't get it. Sarcasm is Sarcasm anywhere.

As for the "A star is born not made" - what do you call his trainers, dietitians, hairdressers, dialect coaches, agents, etc. He may have been born with it, but has had help along the way. Lastly, my G'Day Mates was an effort at communication, lighten up! With regard to the "bashing", I was talking about interviewers (hounds??) not actors or crew. I had just read two interviews where I felt he did not give the interviewer a chance. In these instances, I don't think it was humor taken out of context.

As for the "Hollywood Heavyweights", his career has certainly been helped by the "Powers That Be" and vice versa. Like Sarcasm, Hollywood is Hollywood. I don't think we have to worry about RC going that route and good for him. In conclusion, who knows maybe in a few years he will actually look like Jeffrey Wigand and no one will give a shit about interviewing him. Oh the irony! (Sorry, dry American wit). p.s. to ed. Wouldn't it be great if we could all have the "Jack Shit" theory in the big cosmic picture.
Thanks for the insight!
Deborah Doyle, New York, NY (definitely not Hollywood)

Ed: Amen.

MISSION FLACCID
Congratulations on your fine site - not only the best in Oz, but right up there with any film site on the 'net. But my good man, in regards to MI:2 did we see the same movie? It SUCKED! The action scenes were jammed somewhere between the average episode of Water Rats and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and Tom Cruise's attempts at chop socky were straight out of Walker:Texas Ranger. At least Chuck Norris is pushing 60, what's the Cruiser's excuse? The script reeked of being done on the fly, and has a rather nasty attitude towards women. John Woo is a master filmmaker - just don't show anybody this film when saying this. All those bloody pidgeons made me think Bill Lawry had a hand in the action scenes.

The performances are OK; Cruise lacks the sheer superhuman presence of Arnie, or the everyman toughness of Bruce Willis or Harrison Ford to make a truly credible action man, but damn he gives it a go. Too bad he chose David Spade's haircut from Just Shoot Me. Dougray Scott was pretty menacing though -inadvertently his absence form X-Men will make Hugh Jackman the next Aussie superstar. Dickie Roxburgh was borderline parody as the Seeouth Afreekan henchman-auditioning for Oliver Stone's next The Hansie Cronje Story no doubt.

Anyway, what does it matter what I say? It's making a squillion and poor old Tom's got a wife and kids to feed. But I do wonder what evil forces are at work when a classic like The Iron Giant dies the death of a septic old dog and this creatively crippled, flaccid studio spawn prospers.
Anyways that's my whinge. Otherwise I love your site.
Best
Andrew Thorn

LIBERTY HEIGHTS
Hi, I am trying to find out if the movie Liberty Heights has been in cinemas in Australia yet? It was released in the US late November 1999 and is directed by Barry Levinson. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Fiona Darlington

Louise replies: Liberty Heights, starring Adrien Brody, Ben Foster, Orlando Jones, Bebe Neuwirth has not as yet been released in Australia, but is on the Roadshow slate for release. No date has as yet been set, but looks likely for 2001.

DINOSAUR
Thank you all for a great site. Its my favorite web stop and a weekly Wednesday ritual.
Thank you also for the tickets to Dinosaur. It was a great film and Pam's talk was really interesting. I had just returned from an LA meeting with the Secret Lab, who are going to be doing the CG work on an upcoming feature film 'Down and Under' to be shot...you guessed it...here. It was to happen in July, but due to actor illness, will now start up next year, though Secret Lab and the Animatronics crew are powering ahead with development.
It's reassuring to know that even as CG just gets better and better, there is still a big need for Animatronics and puppeteers, and on this project we will all be working very closely to try and replicate nature. Quite a challenge.
Keep up the great work
cheers
Laurie Faen

Hi Andrew and all the crew at Urban Cinefile,
I was one of the lucky winners of the tickets to the screening of Dinosaur last night. What a fun film it was, and I would like to thank you for presenting it. (Producer)Pam [Marsden]'s talk afterwards was almost as good as the movie - wish she had answered those budget questions!! Her reluctance only raises the chance of mis-information and speculation; but she certainly answered some questions that my friend and I had. Amazing that although there was no collaboration there were all the similarities between Dinosaur and (the BBC series and upcoming DVD)Walking with Dinosaurs.
Again congratulations to Pam on a great family film, and to Urban Cinefile for presenting it. Thanks for a great night.
Megan Gardiner

8/6/2000

THE RUSSELL LETTERS - 3
BELL TOLLS FOR RUSSELL
HMMMM…. Have to admit that if Debbie’s insights weren’t so narrowminded and infuriating they may have actually been amusing.

Just to add an Australian angle to the whole ‘Russell Crowe interview’ debate, did anyone stop to think that perhaps the "I don’t give a shit" attitude is not an image at all? Why is it that Americans seem so hell-bent on ‘creating’ an image for every person who enters Hollywood? Perhaps they are putting them into categories for ease of reporting? Or are they just so damn busy doing lunches to stop and realise that there are some people out there who do what they do because it’s who they are not because they are trying to be what the Hollywood heavyweights expect and often create.

Isn’t the popular saying a star is born… not made??

And come on, don’t even start with sympathy for the media. Oh, those poor interviewers being ‘berated’ by the nasty Australian. I would have thought this would be a nice break from their usual routine of tainting the news, twisting people’s words around and figuring out how taking statements out of context will sell their magazines faster. ‘Just doing their job’ as Debbie mentioned. Yes, the poor media. How dare there actually be someone real who doesn’t care what they think. Gosh, having a popular actor snub them could actually diminish the control and power they have over the majority of the ‘elite group’ of actors. How terrible for them… I’m sorry to say it, but with the exception of this site (suck, suck) I don’t know of any media hound/journalist who deserves anything less than a jail sentence!

Either way, I think RC offers a refreshing change from the usual Hollywood suck ups (not that he would care) and his sense of humour is really quite typically Australian. I think Deborah should perhaps keep her mocking confined ONLY to Californian’s and lay off with the patronising G’days. Otherwise she herself could come up against some dry Australian wit.
Michelle Bell, Queensland

FRUSTRATED RE FANTASIA
I get rather frustrated with reviews of children's works and in particular animated works by most reviewers. Often the children's works are given far too much slack, because not much is expected of a work for children and the reviewers a) don't remember what it was like to be a child and b) aren't taking this field of creation seriously enough.

Fantasia 2000 is not meant to be strictly a children's work (at least I hope not). Yet it is getting better reviews than it deserves from many quarters because of lowered expectations, the use of classical music, and a general ignorance of animation techniques and their skillful application.

Placing the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" section from the original film with these newer works just highlights for those who understand the art form, how poorly executed the rest of the film is. Where are the moving shadows? And moving light for that matter? How about careful use of simultaneous motion sequences? What about watching for twos (too much symmetry for ease's sake)?

I am so glad that your reviewer, Leo Cameron, also pointed out the annoying filler sequences with *gasp* famous people, who do little to add to the music or the imagery of the film, or its enjoyment. Fantasia 2000 does have its moments, but is no where near the standard of the original, as one might hope or expect.
Kind regards,
Katherine Phelps

Ed: It wasn't just Leo: in my own review I call the Guest Spots 'clunky'. And the thrust of your letter about reviewing children's work is valid: we should consider what one veteran teacher once said to me, that she always taught as if two thirds of her class were smarter than she.

1/6/2000

THE RUSSELL LETTERS - 1
DEBBIE DOES RUSSELL

While perusing the web for local New York theater times for Gladiator, I somehow ended up in your domain. First off, I would like to say I find this an exceptionally well done and informative site. I would, however, like to make an observation on your Russell Crowe Gladiator interview. I did get a chance to see Gladiator (I finally found the theater times) and I was impressed with Mr. Crowe's fine performance which he has also shown in other films. I realize he is a god down there, but with the exception of ravenous World Federation Wrestling fans here, the rest of us are getting tired of his "I don't give a shit" image.

He is entering an elite group of actors now and it is time to rise above it. That doesn't mean he has to change. It just means stop bashing everyone else. Rise above it! With the exception of your interview, almost every interview of his I have read makes him come off as rude not "focused". Berating interviewers who are just trying to do their job makes him an "asshole" in my book and I am definitely not meek nor a "Hollywood" type.

It's possible to be tough, funny and articulate without being a bully. As far as his retaining the character of Maximus; I rather doubt with such a high budget that the producers and directors would reduce this hero to boffing strangers from the crowd. Besides, I'm sure they were more concerned with the ratings due to the beheadings, immolation, crucifixions and other just plain gladiator fun without adding sex.

Besides, look at Dreamworks' last all guy epic Saving Private Ryan. Do you think they were trying to change Tom Hanks' character. The soldier who led his warriors into battle and only wanted to return to his wife (sounds familiar). You didn't see him screwing around. Lastly, I wish RC would leave the mocking of Californians (grannola heads) to us "Nuh Yawkers". G'Day mates!
Deborah Doyle, New York

THE RUSSELL LETTERS - 2
HANG ON, DEBORAH, READ HIS LIPS
Deborah should read the complete transcripts from Russell's press conferences and she will see that he is indeed a charming and witty man. Russell's dry, often sarcastic humor doesn't hold up well to others' interpretation, especially when taken out of context. Hence the reputation with some of the press.

Russell has never (to quote Deborah) "bashed" anyone as far as I know. In fact he is always very generous and supportive of his fellow actors. Reports from various film sets around the world always mention his kindness to the cast and crew. He is one of the finest actors of his generation, taking his work quite seriously. And he doesn't suffer fools lightly. These are all the things that make him interesting. He still hasn't gone "Hollywood" and I for one, hope he never does.
Terri De Salvo, San Francisco

Ed: Now that American readers have put the two sides of the story, I'd like to add a note: I was the first journalist to ever interview Russell (on the set of his first film, The Crossing), and have reported on him ever since. I've never mixed with him socially (except for a kerbside chat in Los Angeles) but we have a good professional relationship. On the set of The Sum of Us, he invited me to continue an interview in a studio-built bedroom where he was stuffing socks down his pants as part of his character, seconds before walking on camera. It was all done for laughs. Terri is spot on about Russell's dry humour and how that is misinterpreted. While Deborah is right that Russell's image is at times "I don't give a shit" that might spring from Russell knowing that the acting job means "jack shit" in the big scheme of things in the world (to use his own expression). And that's what's so refreshing about him. As he said to me in one interview, "the producers get the mouth… but I don't know a director who wouldn't work with me again."

PARADISO AT LAST
I have noticed on your site that the British film Guest House Paradiso is listed for release on 20th July 2000. Are you able to confirm if this is indeed definite? Do you know if it will be released in the mainstream cinemas all around Australia? I recall it was originally listed for release in Australia on 23rd March 2000, and was released for video rental in the UK this week. Thank you for your assistance.
Chrissie Macdonald

Louise replies: 2/6/00 - Guest House Paradiso release date has moved. It has now moved from August 3 to July 27 (as at 28/6/00). No news as yet on how wide the release will be.

TARKOVSKY?
Great site! I hope you can answer my query or point me in the right direction...I'm looking for films by Andrei Tarkovsky on video in Australia...do you know if they have ever been released here for home viewing?
Jason DiRosso

Ed replies: No idea. Does anyone out there know? Maybe his last two films, The Sacrifice (1986) and Nostalgia (1983) were?

SWEET & LOWDOWN?
Just curious, any word on when Sweet and Lowdown might be coming this way? I thought with the Oscar nomination, it would at least raise some interest...
Shana Hills

Louise replies: The September 7, 2000 release date has changed to July 13.

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