The Age from Melbourne, Victoria on May 11, 2000 · Page 23
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The Age from Melbourne, Victoria · Page 23

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Melbourne, Victoria
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Thursday, May 11, 2000
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Page 23
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TODAY.REVIEW 5 THE AGE THURSDAY MAY 11, 2000 Amusements, 0t!tuc: !, J Vl""WJHUMIMWUUUllVil So Short cuts Lawrie Zion scream in !4 A reelv vou could DFHm Musk of the Heart (PG) General release Review -Adrian Martin CISC - SS5 (NSjLJfN p3 ' ; " " I HAVE a weakness for films about heroic teachers fighting miserable school conditions and taking on an impossible task: to initiate a bunch of alienated, poor, violent kids into the divine mysteries of higher mathematics (Stand and Deliver) or literature (Dangerous Minds). In Music of the Heart, Roberta Guaspari (Meryl Streep), takes her 50 violins to the underprivileged children of Harlem. As with all films of this type, the action resembles that of a sports story: it's a matter of training, discipline, extra rehearsals and finally the "big game" which is, here, the end-of-year concert and ultimately (when Roberta's courses are threatened with extinction) a fund-raiser at Carnegie Hall. Roberta is quite a coach. While the teachers around her are bound by protocol, caution and politically correct attitudes, Roberta just barges in. With her students, she is demanding, bullying and merciless. But she is also totally committed and generous, so they all love her. As in Erin Brockovlch, the heroine's romantic and family activities suffer because of her obsessive devotion to a "cause". Streep brings much vitality and charm to this role. But she is a terribly ostentatious performer: it is seemingly impossible for her to listen to another actor without meaningfully rolling her eyeballs, fidgeting and heaving a sigh. This film boasts some clumsy, point-making dialogue worthy of David Williamson. At one point, an angry, black mother yanks her child out of the class and confronts Roberta: "My kid ain't gonna play no music by dead white males. Can you name me one black classical composer?' Vitality and charm: Meryl Streep gives a "terribly ostentatious" performance as a do-goodlng violinist. able horror dramas as Last House on the Left (1972) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977) films that he today calls "cries of rage". For almost 30 years, all the way to this year's Scream 3, Craven has found himself a prisoner of the "low" genres and he has made no secret of his desire to be accorded respectability and legitimacy as a "real" artist, beyond the cultish acclaim granted by his legion of loyal fans. Music of the Heart tells a heartwarming, true-life story in an efficiently corny way. But Craven tries just a little too hard to live up to the standards of what he calls "non-genre" cinema safe, middlebrow and sentimental. It's surely about time for another cry of rage from this talented and troubled soul. V4 . B concession to the vast pop traditions outside Roberta's classroom in a rather awful moment during the Carnegie Hall concert that features a famous "fiddle" player wearing a cute hat. The rest of the movie exhibits a manic devotion to high culture its institutions, values and stars that can only be described as obsequious. All this is directly relevant to Craven and his evolution as a film maker. Craven began as a professor of literature before letting his hair down with such gruesome, remark- painting and literature have a tough time keeping out all troublesome traces of 20th-century popular culture. They are, at heart, fantasies about a "high" culture frozen in aspic, relevant to all peoples at all times. . Music of the Heart makes one tiny Rave? Not over this Moody blues fail to ignite the Light H : 1 Naturally, she is easily talked out of her ideological prejudice. This is, in fact, a telling vignette, in ways that may have 1 escaped the consciousness of director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street). Many films about the greatness of the "canon of Western art" in music, Unfortunately, Smith's idea of how to make a tough, hip, streetwise film seems to boil doWn to having every character behave with relentless "attitude" striking poses, snarling, talking dirty "and waving guns. Attempts at multicultural humor especially the glimpses of the jolly philosopher Phil (Ghandi Macintyre) in his kebab shop ,are excruciating- i For about the first, two minutes, Sample People looks promising, with I 1 1 CAN Russell Crowe carry a major Hollywood movie? The question that just days ago was on everyone's lips now seems strangely dated in the light of last weekend's box office figures in Australia and the United States. With an opening three-day haul of $US34,819,017 ($A59,663,594) in the US, Gladiatorhas enjoyed the strongest Stateside debut of the year. And its Australian bow of just under $6 million was even more impressive if you abide by the industry maxim that $1 million at our box office is comparable with $10 million in the US. Crowe will return to Ecuador next week where he will complete work on Proof of Life, starring alongside Meg Ryan. In July and August, he will return to the recording studio to cut another album with his band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, after which he will star in Jodie Foster's Flora Plum. Speaking about the prospect of working with Foster in Sydney last Thursday, Crowe said: "I think Jodie's a magnificent woman and a very gifted actress. And I'm very much looking forward to being directed by her. In the very first conversation we had there was a connection, and I'm interested to see how that partnership will evolve in film. The role I'm playing in Flora Plum is a beast in a freak show, which I think js appropriate." UNAIDED by swords or sandals, the new Australian release Looking for Alibrandi took in just less than $1.25 million over the Thursday to Sunday period, with a very healthy per screen average of just over $7200. CROWE'S LA Confidential co-star Guy Pearce is finding himself increasingly in demand. The Melbourne-based actor is scheduled to commence work this weekend on Michael Petroni's Till Human Voices Wake Us, after which he will star alongside Jim Cavaziel in an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Crista. Australians will next get the chance to see Pearce in the legal drama Rules of Engagement, which opens on August 10. ALSO figuring prominently in casting news has been Cate Blanchett. Screen . International has reported that Blanchett is in talks to star in Heaven, the first of a planned trilogy of films based on screenplays by the late Polish film maker Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz. Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer will be on the other side of the , camera. DIRECTOR Gillian Armstrong was awarded an - honorary doctorate from the University of New South Wales on Tuesday. She was honored for her contribution to the Australian film industry: 20 years of film making amounting to 20 short films, 9 documentaries and 8 features, and involvement in the production of another seven films. Dr Armstrong had previously been awarded an honorary doctorate from Swinburne. VINCENT GIARRUSSO, whose debut feature Mallboy will screen in Director's Fortnight at this year's Cannes Film Festival, has begun work on his second film. Screen International reports from Cannes that Orange will be a love story set amid feuding families in a bustling wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Melbourne. Producer Fiona Eagger is quoted as saying that the film will play like The Godfather meets Saturday Night Fever via Carmen Miranda. Tony Ayres is the script editor but no casting details have been announced. WITH shooting for the second Star Wars prequel due to commence at Sydney's Fox Studios soon, it has been confirmed that the lead role of the adolescent Anakin Skywalker has gone to a 19-year-old Canadian, Hayden Christensen. AN AUSTRALIAN comedy called Better Than Sex will have its world premiere at next month's 2000 Sydney Film Festival. First-time director Jonathan Teplitzky worked with actors David Wenham and Susie Porter on a story about a one-night stand that goes wrong for all the right reasons. Better Titan Sex is distributed by Newvision Film Distributors. Details of the opening night film for this year's Melbourne International Film Festival (which kicks off on July 20) will be released at the end of June. with canvassing most of the urban ills of our time (drugs, crime, alienation, child abuse, police brutality), Bolotin tries to include various pop fads as well as in the unintentionally hilarious moment when Lynn (Sara Gilbert) yells, "Let's go global!' installing her comrades at an Internet terminal. Bolotin takes a rock video approach to film making. Each scene has a primary "mood" panic, melancholy or dread which is heavily laid on via - angst: Not what they seem. lighting and music. A flashback to the death of the father of Lester (Usher Raymond) is especially overwrought. And the supposed "mysticism" contained in the figure of Ziggy (Robert Ri'chard) a wall-artist who longs to be a cross between Michaelangelo and Basquiat provides an easy cop-out from all the burning problems that the movie raises. H PHILOSOPHY-71 ta ofWIsdom. The need for serf I sample Garish: Joel Edgerton, left, with Ben Mendelsohn -and Paula Arundell. unbearable duo who talk like wannabe "gangstas". A drug-trip-cum-orgy scene in a cemetery is an all-time lowpoint. The most familiar performers come off worst of all. Kylie Minogue as Jess (TT's "property") is meant to be variously mean, sexy and tenacious, but she projects less psychological depth than Jessica Rabbit. Ben Mendelsohn as the predatory, bisexual John mincing and whining his way through the entire movie is an embarrassment to himself and to the audience. D Cecilia (Sophie Guillemin). and the obvious. L'Ennui, however, enacts its own subject: it is caught in Its own loop of repetitions, and can't break free of them. Berling and Guillemin give strong performances in a work that Is little more than a plausible replication of obsessive behavior. L'Ennui suffers by comparison with a work like Romance, which reflects on and represents sex and desire, compulsion and dissociation, but does so much more thoughtfully and confrontipgly. V4 ' SI industry some eye-catching design and cinematography. A couple of the young performers (Joel Edgerton, Paula Arundel!) have real presence. And for Australian pop music buffs, the modern versions of classics by Russell Morris and Sherbet are easy on the ear. The script, however, is abominable. Once the narrative structure is set up, the plot goes absolutely nowhere. Instead, we kill precious time with Joey (Justin Rosniak) and Gus (Matthew Wilkinson), an to break through her monumental Impassivity. Then Martin begins to suspect that she has another lover: he becomes frantic, following her, calling her, interrogating her. Placid and imperturbable as ever, she deflects his questions. L'Ennui, adapted by Cedrlc Kahn from a story by Alberto Moravia, is a story of obsession, compulsion and repetition. Martin's story is predictable; the course of his relationship with Ceftilia seems Inevitable. But that shouldn't mean that the film Itself has the same sense of familiar SO Film Light It Up (M) General release Review Adrian Martin THE premise for Light It Up is a game mixture of Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and The Breakfast Club (1985). A group of teens lock themselves in their New York school, holding Officer Jackson (Forest Whitaker) as hostage after a violent incident in which he accidentally shot himself. Outside the school there are protests, news crews, police squads and students who claim to know the whole truth of what happened. Inside, the six desperadoes alternate between fear and lucidity chilling out enough in the nonviolent periods to probe each other's Teen hopes and dreams. As can be expected, none of these kids are really what they at first seem to. be. The teen stereotypes princess, home boy, slut, cool dude fall away and fragile connections are made across social divisions. - The concept could have worked, but writer-director Craig Bolotin (making his first film since Tlxat Night in 1993) never finds the right tone. Not content The course Is offered for the interest and enjoyment of thoughtful men and women who seek an understanding of the nature of human existence and the world in which we lire. The lectures show how great philosophic ideas of the past and present may be put to practical use in daily life. The lectures, which include the opportunity for discussion, are given on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (7pm to 9.15pm approx) and Saturday morning 10am to 12.15pm approx) and you may vary your day of attendance each week. MELBOURNE - beginning on 22, 23, 24, 25 and 27 May, 2000. WEEK WEEKS: WEEK and The fee is $150 for adults: $100 for students. Enrol now bv phone or from 6.30pm on your first evening of attendance or from 9.30am on Saturday at the School of . Philosophy. CROYDON - Monday and Thursday evenings, beginning 22 May and 25 May. GEEIONG - Wednesday evenings only, beginning 24 May. , Telephone enquiries) S818 0804. A IMffmflpgMriiMfMff flffttowrffrtlA It StiourfblflKnlcStlMir. Umha. , . kbooliinthctimliiSnlnrr.SHfrme. '; simply WEEK 1: knowledge. WEEK 2: awareness of reason. WEEK 4: place WEEK I: emotional 6: WEEK 7: unchanging WEEK I: The true WEEKIi Discursive WEEKlOi of the WEEK confines CROYDON Sample People (MA) General release Review Adrian Martin IT has not been a great year, so far, for Australian cinema. In one sense, the appearance of Sample People sets a welcome benchmark: local production cannot possibly sink any lower than this. Twenty-seven-year-old Clinton Smith's debut effort is a garish attempt to tap into the energy and style of the "rave" scene. It uses the Short Cuts formula of intercutting between various characters and storylines that finally merge perhaps the single greatest cliche of contemporary "independent" film making. The film presents a panorama of youthful types: the lovestruck, the ambitious, the oppressed and the doped. They all circulate around a few streets of Adelaide made (not too successfully) to pass as inner-city Sydney. Connecting the characters, ultimately, is a rave event and a listless Tarantino-style intrigue involving a mean criminal, TT (David Field). Study in sexual fixation; ho hum O Film L'Ennui(R) Lumlere Review Phillppa Hawker AT THE centre of L'Ennui Is a mystery, a denial, a deflection, an enigma: a woman who won't explain herself. Cecilia (Sophie Guillemin) is a ripe, creamy, Impassive 17-year-old who becomes the lover of Martin (Charles Berling), a philosophy teacher who finds himself at an impasse, professionally and emotionally. He meets Cecilia as the result of a chance encounter: she was the mistress and model for a painter who has become obsessed with her and who died while they were having sex. Martin Is intrigued by the story and Observing nr ourselves what Is true and what is raise. Discovering our own Inner resources. Increasing The active and the contemplative facets of Philosophy. Bry,mlndamlrutui.Whataml?TfKsovefelgnpowcT Negative thinking, tension and stressThe limits we upon ourselves; likes and dislikes, habitual responses. The refinement of mind and the expansion of the realm. Beauty and the reflection of tana beauty. The three primary qualities of the universe. Recognislng.1 observing these qualities at play. Enigmatic situation: Martin (Charles Berling) with the impassive TheI1ll)osophyofUruty,Discrimliutionber'eenthe and the cverchanging forms of mind and body. The power of observation. Overcoming sclf-forgettlng. use of the Intellect and the mind. DUsoMng negatht emotions and feelings. Enjoying life. mind and the imaginary 'me. The power ofthtintellect.Watchingthe movements mlnd.The unity of all things. Service to all mankind. lit Habitual thinking, letting go of what you think and being whit you are. Words and deeds lUumuuted by reason 12: Evommt as 1 human being. Stepping out of the realises that Cecilia )s now available for him. Soon she comes to his apartment every day, for brisk, no-strings-attached sex. But no conversation. ' , Her body is available to him, but. not her thoughts, opinions, or memories nothing that Martin can ask or say will provoke much beyond "I don't know" or "I didn't notice" or "I can't remember''. At first, he is half-contemptuous ; of her, a little ashamed of an incident in which he orders her around; soon his life . revolves around their .couplings and his Increasingly desperate attempts of habit. Becoming what we truly irc.'Know Thyself. BEQINNMO 22, 23, 24, 2S and 27 MAY, 2000 SCHOOLofPHlLOSOPHY(MElouN) inc. Regn. No.: A0023067N , MEUMUMII -Latham House, 234 Swanston Street comeffcif little Bouttce Street ' - Wyreena Community Centre, 13-23 Hull Rd. OIELOTM Dalgety House, 1 Malop Street j NAA BS1

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