The Venice Film Festival began with sharks, tai chi and 9/11.
Even if it seemed the strangest piece of programming, the inclusion of the Australian-Singapore co-production Bait 3D in the hallowed high art Venice Film Festival program beggared belief once it unspoiled to a sparsely crowded room of critics on Tuesday evening. Neither funny nor terrifying, it was essentially a lifeboat drama where the cast, stuck in a flooded supermarket following a tsunami and being circled by a great white shark, really only talk, bond, deal with personal issues and generally overact.
With some of Australia’s rising talent on screen, Kimble Rendall’s film (pictured) is aiming for the youth audience with a bunch of Aussie actors who’ve made it overseas. The Twilight Saga Eclipse’s Xavier Samuel is the lead; Sharni Vinson is feisty, though sports an American accent (from her time working on US projects including 2010’s Step Up 3D) as does Nip/Tuck’s Julian McMahon, the bad guy-seeking-redemption of the piece. And then there’s another feisty Home and Away hottie, Phoebe Tonkin, as well as Lincoln Lewis, her co-star in Tomorrow, When the War Began, a more successful Paramount movie. The poor Singaporean and Chinese actors, Adrian Pang and Yuwu Qi (respectively), bite the dust in heroic fashion, fulfilling the genre conceit of sacrificing coloured people.
[ Related: Venice Film Festival preview ]
A witch-hunt. Justice. A conspiracy. An easy way out. Guilty as charged. Innocent till proven… The watershed decision made by Lance Armstrong last Friday, when he decided to not contest the charges against him has been called all these things. In short a bunch of mixed messages. And until the truth is laid to bare, cold comfort for the wider public who deserve to see the truth, writes Anthony Tan.
WADA chief John Fahey last Friday told the ABC the stripping of Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour titles is now a matter for the UCI. The same day Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA, told VeloNation because the charges were not contested, “what automatically goes into place will be a lifetime ban from any participation from any sport which recognises the WADA Code and disqualification from all results, including any Tour de France victories, any other victories and placings beginning August 1st 1998 to the present.”
Fahey also said: “I think all sports lovers would have liked to have seen what the substance was in the evidence. That will not happen.”
However Tygart insisted there is “absolutely” no impediment to releasing their dossier compiled on Armstrong’s alleged doping transgressions, pending resolution of two of his associates involved in the same conspiracy who have opted for arbitration, namely Johan Bruyneel and Pedro Celaya, team manager and doctor at RadioShack-Nissan-Trek. (In July USADA confirmed doctors Luis Garcia del Moral and Michele Ferrari, and trainer Jose ‘Pepe’ Martí accepted, or more accurately did not contest, the lifetime bans imposed on them.)
I'm hardly going out on a limb when I say Joaquim Rodriguez isn't the best rider in the world against the clock, but I do wonder whether too much is being made of that weakness in this year's race.
The Vuelta a España is light on time trialling kilometres this year and will see its first and only individual time trial come in Stage 11, a 39.4km run from Cambados to Pontevedra.
For Rodriguez, this will be his queen stage. It is a discipline that has single-handedly ended his hopes of winning more Grand Tours than I'm sure he would care remember.
This year's Giro d'Italia will be freshest in most people's mind, Purito finished 47 seconds behind Canadian Ryder Hesjedal to see the maglia rosa slip off his back by the merest of margins, 16 seconds.
Sean Penn is set to make a new film starring his acting inspiration, Robert De Niro.
Sean Penn to film crazy, funny movies
There was a period when Sean Penn couldn’t find the right acting roles and his first film as a director, 1991’s The Indian Runner, shone so fiercely that it appeared his future looked to be behind the camera. But since the mid 1990s the complex American artist has proven himself the actor of his generation – think Dead Man Walking, The Thin Red Line, Mystic River, 21 Grams, and Milk – while his intermittent filmmaking hasn’t kept pace. Penn’s fourth and most recent film as director, Into the Wild, came out in 2007, but now it appears that he has two directorial efforts close to happening in consecutive years.
The first is The Comedian, the story of an ageing, minor comic mainly known for his vituperative insults who finds himself undertaking community service after hitting a heckler with his microphone. Penn’s leading man will be Robert De Niro, who continues to work non-stop but has found time for some more challenging parts in recent years – see Stone and Being Flynn – amidst the Focker flicks and various action movie mentor roles. Opposite De Niro will be Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig, who is looking to get away from her neurotic, comic screen persona.
If there is a God and that God has an interest in American politics then Republicans, apparently so entwined with the Christian God, will be hoping this week is not a message from the heavens.
As the Republican Party prepared to open the doors to its 2012 convention, the week-long hoopla that officially launches its Presidential campaign, along came Hurricane Isaac which blew its way across Haiti (19 dead) and barreled toward Tampa, on Florida’s West coast, hosting the knees-up.
Isaac took a turn to the left and is now heading toward New Orleans, the city that suffered so much in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. That hurricane underwrote itself as a major failure of George W. Bush’s presidency. Mitt Romney, who so desperately wants to be President, will be hoping Isaac is neither a metaphor nor messenger.
The convention, no matter how Isaac affects it (events were cancelled on Monday), is Mitt Romney’s big opportunity to sell himself to American voters. In making his speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for Presidency, Romney has to connect with the American people, be Presidential, and not come across as a robot.
Less funds won't stop the cult event from doing its thing.
The Sydney Underground Film Festival (SUFF) is a little bit more underground than it planned to be this year, given the loss of a key backer (Marrickville Council in the inner West suburb of Sydney, pulled its sponsorship this year).
Instead, the running costs will be covered solely by its box office takings. Making up the $1,000 shortfall shouldn’t be a problem; the program this year contains the type of films that made it popular amongst its loyal, mostly inner-city audience as well as some slightly more mainstream though no less challenging works.
The event opens with the Australian premiere of Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (pictured), the big screen debut of American television comedians, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. The surreal, almost non-linear narrative and eccentric cameos from the likes of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly suggests that all boxes are ticked in terms of the festival keeping its cult credibility.
Wayne Swan and Joe Hockey sure are a couple of twits. The Treasurer and his Shadow in opposition spent the morning slinging insults at each other in less than 140 characters.
Wayne Swan and Joe Hockey sure are a couple of twits.
The Treasurer and his Shadow in opposition spent the morning slinging insults at each other in less than 140 characters.
Swan launched the first barb, latching onto a suggestion from former Prime Minister John Howard (published in the Financial Review this morning) that the economy is doing better than most.
The Australian comedy has had sharply differing critical reactions.
P.J. Hogan’s Australian comedy Mental was the closing night attraction at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Judging by two of the first reviews, one wonders if there were two versions.
The film, which Universal will release on October 4, stars Toni Collette as a knife-wielding hippie hitchhiker who becomes a life-changing nanny to the five daughters of a dysfunctional family.
Variety’s Richard Kuipers branded it as a “mediocre return to grotesque Australian suburban comedy” by the writer-director of Muriel’s Wedding. Sounding a touch elitist, Kuipers opined the film delivers “enough lowbrow laughs to scrape by as a crowd-pleaser for undiscriminating” audiences, but he judged much of humour is driven by a “savage near-hatred of everything suburban.”
Lance Armstrong is done fighting.
He will no longer challenge drug charges brought against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency, refusing the option to defend himself in public or private arbitration. Said Armstrong on Friday: "There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough'. For me, that time is now."
USADA said it will hit Armstrong with a lifetime ban on Friday. Assuming there is no further resistance from the International Cycling Union (UCI) or the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), which runs the Tour de France, he will be stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles.
It brings to an end a saga that has been running, on and off, for around 12 years.
Bodacious news as Bill & Ted 3 gets the green light.
"Party on, dudes!"
We begin with important news: Bill & Ted 3 is happening. Cue air guitar. It’s over two decades since the good hearted stupidity and heavy metal bromance of Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) and Bill S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winters) resulted in 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the 1991 sequel Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, but the planets have finally aligned for a third installment. Reeves and Winter are both keen to explore middle age life with their characters, and the former recently explained to GQ magazine that the story had the duo, who comprise the band Wyld Stallyns, being, “crushed by the responsibility of having to write the greatest song ever written and to change the world. And they haven’t done it.” Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) will direct.
Some talented child actors struggle to transition into more mature roles, but that’s not a problem for the gifted Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. Having revealed a precocious talent with Atonement, Ronan’s teenage years saw her working with Peter Weir (The Way Back), Joe Wright (Hanna, right) and Peter Jackson (The Lovely Bones). Now the 18-year-old, who plays the lead in The Host, a science-fiction romance adapted from a novel by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer via Andrew Niccol (Gattaca), will play the younger member alongside Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans) of a mother and daughter team of vampires in Byzantium, director Neil Jordan’s first dalliance with the undead since 1994’s Interview with the Vampire. After that Ronan will play the ill-fated title role in Mary Queen of Scots, portraying the 16th century claimant to the English throne who was ultimately executed by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth.
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