June 15, 2011
TONIGHT some lucky Sydneysiders will see Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton not so much chide each other but prod their way through Films That Divide Us at the Sydney Film Festival.
The talk, which is this year’s Ian McPherson Memorial Lecture and celebrates the duo’s 25-year partnership as hosts of SBS’s The Movie Show and ABC television’s At the Movies, is booked out but is likely to be filmed and repackaged for screening on ABC2. Pomeranz tells Reel Time she still cannot believe she and Stratton have managed a quarter of a century on TV (although their official anniversary isn’t until October). “The great thing is David and I have such great affection and fondness for one another and I don’t think we could have lasted so long if we didn’t,” she says. Much has been made of their antagonism concerning certain films, but their views align broadly on about 70 per cent of the films they review. But, Pomeranz adds, they’re not similar people. “I’m chaotic, he’s anal; he’s measured, I’m volatile; I’m a girl, he’s a boy,” she says, laughing. That means they can both like films but for different reasons: Stratton more likely for its composition and manufacture, Pomeranz for its writing or screenplay. Their Sydney Film Festival session will cover five films about which the duo remain quite clearly split. Fans of the show could likely pick a couple of them instantly, particularly as they are relatively contemporary films. “They’re certainly across genres,” Pomeranz hints. (Reel Time will tweet them via @michaelbodey tonight.) Their collaboration began over a disagreement when Pomeranz dismissed the 1985 film based on the Peter Corris novel The Empty Beach. She was Stratton’s producer at the time and his kind assessment of that film “opened my brain to looking at film in a generous way, not just dismissing them”, Pomeranz says. It took some time for Pomeranz to feel comfortable opining next to the former Sydney Film Festival director but, being a “television person”, she felt having different opinions on film was not a bad thing for a TV audience. “What’s incredible about David is his generosity about film,” she says of Stratton, who is also a long-time film reviewer for The Australian. “All he wants to do in life is inspire a love of cinema in other people.”
AFTER a couple of poor openings last week for Australian films Here I Am and Cane Toads: The Conquest, there was some joy at the box office for the Australian-British co-production Oranges and Sunshine. The new film, produced by The King’s Speech’s Oscar winner See-Saw Films, stars Emily Watson, David Wenham and Hugo Weaving. It opened with a very strong $891,000 through the weekend, bringing its first week’s gross to $940,000 and, by the time you read this, beyond $1 million. Already that makes it the second highest grossing Australian film of the year behind Sanctum, which earned $1.5m in its first week and $3.8m in total. Oranges and Sunshine’s screen average was a very healthy $9000.
AND, for what it’s worth, The Hangover Part II outperformed the first film’s lifetime box-office earnings after two weeks on screen. The comedy – starring Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis – is already the highest grossing MA15+ rated film here and has flown beyond $26m in total box-office take. So far it is the highest grossing film of the year in the US with $US215m.
WHILE Julia Leigh’s Cannes Palme d’Or contender Sleeping Beauty has polarised Sydney Film Festival audiences ahead of its June 23 national release, the release date of a film based on one of Leigh’s two novels, The Hunter, has been confirmed. The psychological thriller, set in Tasmania’s wilds, has a stunning cast led by Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Frances O’Connor and including Jacek Koman, Dan Wyllie, John Brumpton, Sullivan Stapleton and Morgana Davies. Local distributor Madman Entertainment has pencilled in an October release for Daniel Nettheim’s film. The timing could be ripe, as it emerges during a possible upswing for Australian film, with the tempting Red Dog, Eye of the Storm and The Cup all due for release between August and October.
QUIET Australian actor Jason Clarke has nabbed one of the final key roles in Baz Luhrmann’s feature adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald classic The Great Gatsby. Clarke, who performed in much local TV, including Home & Away and Stingers, before picking up a lead role in the US series Brotherhood and The Chicago Code, will play George Wilson, Myrtle’s husband. He joins Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby; Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, the narrator; Carey Mulligan as Gatsby’s love, Daisy Buchanan, Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan; and Isla Fisher as Myrtle. Clarke recently finished production on the film The Wettest County in the World, expat John Hillcoat’s ensemble period drama that also stars Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, and he has completed The Fields, the crime movie starring Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.