FINALLY, I can share the news that Jez Conolly and I are in the final stages of a book for Auteur Publishing’s Constellations science fiction imprint on John Frankenheimer’s much-underrated masterpiece, SECONDS, from 1966.
We’ve been at it across the past 12 months, working away quietly under wraps. But, the manuscript has now been sent to our publisher, John Atkinson. This thing is real!
I can’t thank Jez enough for (a) asking me to be his co-author and (b) providing such beautiful writing to encourage me (hopefully) to be better. I would dare to even call the experience ‘transformative’.
I’m so looking forward to giving SECONDS the attention this magnificent film deserves. It is really something very, very special, which our book is attempting to fully capture for the first time in long-form print.
Thank you, too, to Salome Jens, who is resplendent in the role of Nora Marcus, and who kindly agreed to be interviewed as part of our research.
POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
I’m heading to LA in the first two weeks of May! Why?
Because I am researching my book on BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and, like Indiana Jones, I’m on a hunt for the Ark and whatever else I can uncover about this beautiful, important film.
Given this is a business trip, I’m open to any other cinema/film opportunities that might come my way. Stories? Interviews? Other potential jobs? Martinis at Musso & Frank’s? Hit me up with your requests.
I’m already looking forward to catching up with Mark Shostrom, Scott Essman, Tom Blunt, Sam Irvin, my LA housemate Louise Heseltine and the ghost of Ms Elsa Lanchester…
Over the holiday break, while Plato’s Cave was on hiatus, I was asked by my good friend, Sally Christie, to join her and another good friend, Lee Gambin, (and his stunning dog, Buddy) on her special summer show on Triple R, Caught in a Celluloid Jam.
Sally used Caught in a Celluloid Jam as a forum to present some of her favourite topics/genres of cinema. The episode in which Lee and I participated focused specifically on satanic cinema. And what a hoot it was! I strongly suggest you take a listen and hear us rabbit on about approximately 20 films of the devilish kind.
But something else happened over summer… Plato’s Cave has changed!
Now under the name Primal Screen at 7pm Mondays on Triple R, Plato’s Cave gets a same-same-but-different reworking, which includes a new lineup of weekly co-hosts: Paul Anthony Nelson, Sally Christie and Flick Ford.
Old faithfuls, Cerise Howard and myself, will be making the occasional appearance as guests but, in 2020, everything’s getting a makeover, including the show intro, which sounds something like this…
It is with great pleasure that I’ll be joining Stephanie Van Schilt (pictured right) as a mentor of burgeoning female voices in film criticism as part of the Critics Lab at the upcoming Melbourne Women in Film Festival (20th to 23rd February 2020).
Looking forward to learning a thing or two myself from some fresh, fertile filmic minds (mmmmmmmmmm… brains…)
Want to know more about this year’s MWFF program?
The final Plato’s Cave show on Triple R for 2019 heard Paul Anthony Nelson, Flick Ford and Thomas Caldwell pay tribute to the cinema of the twenty-tens with their 10 favourite films from the last 10 years.
Fellow spelunker Sally Christie and I were not on-air for this salubrious occasion; however, we still submitted our lists for the tally, which our co-hosts then ably presented in our absence.
Here’s what I chose (in alphabetical order)…
Profoundly original science fiction that rivals Close Encounters in the immensity of its concept and its cinematic clout. Big, beautiful, moving, important. And it even creates its own language.
Released on the cusp of 2009/2010, this deserves inclusion on the ‘best film’ lists of both decades. At once horrifying and hilarious, with an unforgettable psychopath and an equally unforgettable dance sequence. And it even creates its own language.
The action film you get when you’re not getting an action film. Brilliant in its infuriatingly protracted moments of silence (and long, lingering looks), punctuated with explosive scenes of violence. Also features the best opening sequence of the decade.
DUKE OF BURGUNDY (2014)
Writer-director Peter Strickland’s genius climaxes in this velvety, ’70s Euro dive into butterflies, lesbianism and dom-sub fantasy. Super seductive, visually sumptuous and strikingly unique.
Utterly audacious in its depiction of sexual fetishism. It’s still hard to believe Paul Verhoeven and his team ‘got away with’ this film. But we’re oh-so lucky they did. All hail Isabelle Huppert – the most fearless actor on the planet!
GET OUT (2017)
Proof that horror is still one of the most important film genres. A game-changer in social commentary that had something new to say about liberalism and race relations. For that it deserves inclusion.
LA LA LAND (2016)
The revival of the musical? Maybe not, but still proof that cynicism in a cynical age can be powerfully undermined, screen magic is still possible and there’s nothing better than a love story well-told.
Just when you want to hate Lars Von Trier, he comes up with this apocalyptic masterstroke. Impressively vivid and spine-tingling, brought to life by stratospheric performances from Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017)
A valentine to mid-20th century American popular culture that bursts with sweetness, despite its flagrant sexuality. Finally, a heroine that does not need saving, a beast that is brutally sexy, and a film that is truly beautiful.
Damien La La Land Chazelle’s second inclusion on my list, a high voltage ride into jazz drumming and bullying that plays like an action film. Tense, tight and punchy. Gets my vote for the best finale of the decade.
On 2nd December, on Plato’s Cave on Triple R – a show in which I’m lucky to be involved – we counted down our collective Top 10 films of 2019, the criteria being that any film nominated had to be in general release in Australia for that given year (i.e. no festival exclusives, etc.).
Interestingly, no film received a unanimous vote from the five co-hosts on Plato’s Cave; however two films received four votes each: THE CLOCK and PARASITE. Both of these films also appear on my individual list.
So what other films did I choose? Detailed below are my Top 10 Films of 2019 (up to December releases), listed in alphabetical order (much to the chagrin of my co-host, Paul Anthony Nelson) who really wanted ranked lists to break ties. Apologies, Paul, my brain would have exploded…
A bonafide marvel of documentary filmmaking and archival assemblage that pitch-perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the Moon landing event, without the need for narration or unnecessary exposition. Weep-worthy.
Electrically charged South Korean slow-burner, stunningly directed by Lee Chang-dong that, despite its two-and-a-half hour running time, holds you transfixed until its devastating final moments. Taps into a deep vein of inherent evilness.
24 hours of timepiece footage, in real time, from 100 years of cinema around the world screened in ACMI’s gallery space – what’s not to love? Both a wondrous celebration of screen art and a cunning play on our temporal existence. An experience to lose yourself in.
Comedian-musician-poet and now filmmaker, Bo Burnham, jumps out of the gates with this unassuming little stunner that magically captures the awkwardness of being a girl and being 13. Massive props to Elsie Fisher who is the heart of the film.
A gritty and rollicking Danish thriller, ostensibly taking place in the one room, proves that all you need is a good story and solid performers to make a truly excellent film. Essential viewing for all wannabe filmmakers (and lovers of Nordic Noir).
Just when you thought you knew what to expect from a Martin Scorsese gangster film, this one comes along. Proof of Scorsese’s genius (if there was ever a doubt), as well as his command over tone and performance. Joe Pesci steals the show.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER THREE – PARABELLUM
The most fun to be had in a cinema in 2019! John Wick’s filmic legacy just gets richer, more visceral and more beautiful. Takes fight sequences to even higher balletic standards, and turns horses and books into weaponry. Amazing.
Balls-to-the-wall ballsiness – how this film managed to get made, we’ll never know. But we should be grateful because we need. All hail Todd Phillips!
Actor Jonah Hill’s writing and directing debut is really something else. A skateboarding ride back into the 1990s, with a killer soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and magnificent performances from predominantly non-actors that will have you crying with both laughter and pathos.
Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho returns to South Korea (yay!) to deliver this incredible, incendiary comment on class division. Lots of Bong-at-his-best moments – beautifully directed ensemble cast, delicate balance of humour and drama, and a conclusion that will leave you reeling.
As the festive season descends, I feel it necessary to warn people that I’m locking myself in the ‘laboratory’ for a period of time while I work on a ‘secret’ writing project that needs to be hatched before the end of January.
This means my social life will be significantly curbed, except for the occasional seasonal gathering and media screening. After all, I don’t want to be a complete Xmas Grinch!
To my friends, please understand that my refusal of any social shenanigans is simply because, if I don’t be careful, I will go INSANE. And, I also risk being lynched by Jez Conolly, who is a very scary man indeed.
Looking forward to birthing this baby and announcing it to the world. Much love in classic cinema and writing…
Directed by Clive Donner, WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT? is a rollicking, swinging ’60s slapstick jive with an awe-inspiring ensemble cast of Peter O’Toole, Peter Sellars, Paula Prentiss, Capucine, Romy Schneider, Woody Allen and Ursula Andress.
Get your Bacharach on!
I’m going to be appearing on a panel at Fangoria x Monster Fest 2019, which means I get to hang out with some of my favourite people (Sally Christie, John Harrison & Michael Helms) and discuss how we stumbled into the film criticism and film programming business, and the realities of our ‘glamorous’ lifestyle.
Come along and hang with us – it’s free!