Anthony 'Swoff' Swofford: A flashlight was a moonbeam. A pen was an ink stick. My mouth was a cum receptacle. A bed was a rack. A wall was a bulkhead. A shirt was a blouse. A tie was still a tie, and a belt a belt. But many other things would never be the same."Jarhead"
I had very little poker to play over the weekend, but had plenty of good movies to watch so it was a bit of a trade off in that respect. It was probably for the better, as the little poker I did play saw me on the wrong end of too many hands. I think it was on no less than 5 occasions where an opponent flopped their hand and let me draw to a lesser one, and I was not able to throw away what I had that lead to the demise. I had the sucker end of the straight twice, and I knew it both times but I was up against small stacks so I made the crying call every time. Or is that just me trying to justify it? Anyways…
Over the weekend I managed to see Jarhead, Kenny, Super Troopers and The Butterfly Effect – the first two for the first time.
Jarhead was good, but really it didn't seem to go anywhere, and then all of a sudden it was over. Well, not all of a sudden because it did go on for a bit, but it just seemed to hit the two hour mark and then roll credits.
Kenny is an Australian movie that I am sure hardly any of the readers here have heard of. It is a mockumentary following the life of Kenny, who works for Splashdown, a company that supplies removable toilets for outdoor events and the like. It's touching in moments, funny in others and has a gentle pace that suits it's desired audience.
It's always a welcomed relief when an Australian movie comes out that is good to watch. It is sort of a weird situation here in the Australian film industry. Hardly any movies get made without Government funding, and the criteria for such a movie is restrictive. What this ends up with is comedies about the "Aussie Battler", which are usually funny but only to Australians, or female character explorations which are loved by the critics but nobody goes to watch.
The Aussie Battler movies get a fair amount of criticism, basically because they all seem very similar, but in the end they get a laugh and that is about all you can expect. The artsy end of our film spectrum is a bit of a joke really. It is funny when people in this so called industry keep lobbying the government for more money to make films in this country, when the films they approve to make hardly ever turn a profit. So keep throwing more money into this pieces of crap that nobody besides the writer/director can understand or be bothered to watch.
The sad thing is if they bothered to produce movies that would suit the public, they might actually turn into self funded organisations. The success of one film would pay the way for the next one, and so on. You could almost call it a business in that way.
That is not to say that talent does not exist on this little island called Australia. We have it, it just gets ignored mostly.
One of the funniest Australian movies of all time came out a few years ago in a straight to video fashion. It was called "Ned" and was genuinely funny from start to 10 minutes before the finish – which was a shame, but it seemed like it just did not know how to finish up the story.
"Ned" could be seen as another typical Aussie Battler movie, but it wasn't. It was a fake history of Ned Kelly and was beautifully presented but it never received a theatrical release. I think I have a good reason why – it had one of the worst test screenings ever. I know this from first hand experience, but it shouldn't have been this way. It was testing in the city at a fairly trendy type of place frequented by night clubbers and people in general that probably had no idea that Ned Kelly even existed. To put it another way, the movie was pitched to the exact opposite audience that would pay to watch it. And what happened? It had a terrible screening in which only two people laughed. And I picked up the DVD for $8. Hey, good for me, but just goes to show the downfalls of this Australian film industry.
It is frustrating that profitable movies are not made here. And when something original and interesting like "Saw" comes along, the boys were (rightly) advised to take their idea overseas and didn't even bother trying to get it made here. Who could blame them? That movie would never have been made here and certainly wouldn't have got the attention it did if it was.
We had a season of "Project Greenlight" out here, but this has a terrible habit of turning out movies that the public hates anyway. The winner of season one in Australia was a movie called "Solo", which after doing a little research I found out came out 3 or 4 months ago. I never heard a thing about it and while trying to find what kind of business it did I am drawing a blank so you can guess how that went.
What is worse is that we have a thriving television industry built on mediocrity, with some of the worst talent ever put on display and yet they keep getting paid. At least the axe falls quickly on the majority of these shows, and I am talking about the comedies more so than the dramas, but yet the same people playing the same characters telling the same jokes get put back into action time and time again. You really get the feeling that there is no alternatives out there some times. Currently the front runner is "The Wedge", with the worst use of a laugh track in history. I can not believe this is being allowed to continue, it really is a shame.
Is that enough of a little rant for today?