Friday, August 28, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (and other Sundance delights)

EVERY Sundance tends to have a breakout film, one that's on everybody's lips, one that often provokes a bidding war among studio execs. This year's was the delightful ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL.

Bizarrely, the film gained little traction at the US office, despite all that festival hoopla around it. Perhaps it will do better in other territories and enjoy a second life on VOD. Either way, I highly recommend it, as noted in the trailer here.

This year's Sundance, back in snowy January, was a curiously mixed affair, with highlights and not-so delights vying for screen time. A selection of links feature below to some of the stories published, prior to us having to zoom off to the 65th Berlinale for an altogether different prospect: the premiere of a documentary short we had just completed in the nick of time for the festival's 2015 programme. But more of that later.

You can read my review of ME AND EARL for The Guardian here.

You can watch my Sundance TV report for ABC News here.

You can read my news reports for The Sydney Morning Herald here and here.


Jake Gyllenhaal talks NIGHTCRAWLER

A TAUGHT, TENSE thriller, set amidst the dark societal ravines of Los Angeles, Dan Gilroy's superb NIGHTCRAWLER should have delivered far more awards heat that it did. 

Despite the oversight, it's a riot to revisit on VOD, with Jake Gyllenhaal delivering a typically wired performance as the TV reporter from hell. Rene Russo matches him every step of the way, too, making this a very fine late-night indulgence. No wonder Gyllenhaal had a hard time shaking this off. He is mesmerizing on screen.

You can read my cover story on the film for The Sydney Morning Herald here.

You can also read my interview with the star for Time Out here.


Live Q&A events: Spandau Ballet – Soul Boys of the Western World

ALTHOUGH it hasn't quite reached audiences as hoped, the Spandau Ballet documentary SOUL BOYS OF THE WESTERN WORLD paints a vivid picture of a band on the rise (and fall, and rise), during a particularly pivotal era of British history.

Having met the band at Cannes – where we were treated to a glorious, impromptu version of David Bowie's Starman – I had the pleasure of hosting a very lively live Q&A event with the entire band whilst back in Sydney. The subject of old gripes inevitably surfaced (with some good humour), while the room saw close to 1,000 hysterical women and their patient partners pack it to the rafters. It was a small miracle the band got out of there alive. Great fun, it was, too.

(You can view the whole album of photos from the event via Facebook here.)



Kriv Stenders talks KILL ME THREE TIMES

AUSTRALIAN filmmaker Kriv Stenders is back after the success of RED DOG with a shrewdly placed push for the US market, via the Tarantino-esque comedy-thriller KILL ME THREE TIMES.

While the film, which premiered at last year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), may not have set the box office alight quite as the team had hoped, it still offers plenty of mischief up its sleeve – with some seriously saucy content to boot.

You can watch my TV report from Toronto for ABC News here.

You can read my interview with Stenders for The Hollywood Reporter here.

You can also read my overview of Australia at Toronto here.
(Note: I am not responsible for the headline!)

First broadcast by ABC News (Australia).

First published by The Hollywood Reporter.

First published by The Sydney Morning Herald.


Catherine Deneuve wows all at Venice

INTERVIEWING French screen legend Catherine Deneuve is a thrill, even for the most jaded of journalists. Her reputation, as an ice queen, precedes her, of course. But my experience with her at Venice was anything but.

Perhaps my line of enquiry helped, who knows – but I was intrigued as to why she was still regularly making films, when she clearly did not have to. Evidently, she still loves the business of acting. 

You can read excerpts from our interview in this piece for The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Deneuve still smokes, too (a lot!), which I found endearing. And I may have been got the vaguest whiff of a wink, after she asked where I was from, before she had to leave. "You remind me of my ex-husband," she said, smiling. "And that's a good thing!"

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald.


Spike Lee talks DO THE RIGHT THING at 25

WHILE filming in New York, we had the pleasure of meeting acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee at his production company headquarters in Brooklyn. 

Giving generously of his time, the director sat down with us to share thoughts and reflections of a remarkable career on screen, behind the camera and in the classroom.

The piece was pegged to the 25th anniversary of the seminal DO THE RIGHT THING, as timely now as it was then. 

You can view the BBC piece here.

Video journalist: Rubika Shah. Interviewer/Producer: Ed Gibbs.

First broadcast and published by BBC News (Worldwide).

Gore Vidal: The man behind the intellectual legend

GORE VIDAL was one of the intellectual greats of the 20th Century, whose writing influenced politics, literature and the culture wars.

An award-winning documentary on the liberal thinker's life, GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA, was released at select cinemas in the US last year.

Over five years, director Nicholas Wrathall gained unprecedented access to Vidal, his extensive archives and his close friends and colleagues.

In this piece for the BBC, Wrathall described how over five years he watched Vidal – who died in 2012 aged 86 – come to terms with his own mortality.

You can view the BBC piece here.

Video journalist: Rubika Shah. Interviewer/Producer: Ed Gibbs

First broadcast and published by BBC News (Worldwide)


Danny Boyle talks Shuffle in London's East End

DESPITE his Oscar-winning success – and his well-earned graduation to national treasure with his work for the 2012 Olympics – filmmaker Danny Boyle still calls Mile End, in London's East End, home. 

While making pre-festival arrangements for his now annual shindig of film and music in Mile End's sprawling cemetery and surrounds, the eclectic director discussed with me his thoughts on Shuffle, filmmaking today and much more in this piece for The Financial Times, which you can read here.

The festival itself was a huge success. I also had the pleasure of hosting him live on stage (as pictured below) for a lively Q&A for his marvellous apocalyptic thriller 28 DAYS LATER. (Other photos from the event can be viewed via Facebook here.)

First published by The Financial Times.


50 Years of David Bowie: blockbuster exhibition heads to Australia

MARKING a remarkable half-century in music, David Bowie – or rather, London's Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum – has been busily celebrating around the world, with the touring exhibition David Bowie is. 

The V&A show, which broke box-attendance records during its opening in London in early 2013 – when Bowie himself re-emerged from a 10-year hiatus with the surprise release The Next Day – has since toured the world, criss-crossing the globe to rave notices everywhere. 

The man's relationship with Australia – where he shot two of his most famous landmark music videos – had been bizarrely overlooked until very recently. But more of that later. 

You can read this special piece, announcing the Australian show, here.

First published in The Guardian.


Mel Gibson honoured at 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

DESPITE being described by some as toxic property in Hollywood, troubled star Mel Gibson was greeted with open arms by the organizers of the much-loved Karlovy Vary Festival, honoured for his substantial work in film (on both sides of the camera).

Away from the headlines, his body of work remains an impressive and varied collection, all the more worth revisiting, given his relative absence from cinema in recent years.

My encounter with the man was initially scheduled as a one-on-one in-depth interview, before being drastically reduced (at very short notice) to a far briefer conversation en route to his lifetime achievement award. 

You can read highlights of our all-too brief interview here.

Inevitably, he didn't appear to be particularly thrilled to be speaking with the press – but he fulfilled his duties, with calm, measured responses, but with a whiff of emotion never far from his demeanour. As the crowd inside gave him a standing ovation, I couldn't help but wonder at how one of the world's biggest movie stars had become almost invisible to filmgoers outside of this warm event. 

First published by SBS (Australia)