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Spring 1997
(Filed September, 1997)
Things I Hate About The Movies
Reviews this issue include:

Conspiracy Theory (1)
Face/Off (1)
Addicted to Love (1)
Absolute Power (1)
Con Air (1)
Career Girls (1)
Dream with the Fishes (1)
(1) (2)
Austin Powers (1)
Men in Black (1) (2)
Two Days in the Valley (1)
Ulee's Gold (1), (2)
The Game (1), (2)
My Best Friend's Wedding (1)
Speed 2: Cruise Control (1)
Ever since my mother dragged me into Sydney to see Rock Hudson-Doris Day movies when I was exceedingly young, I've liked the cinema. To an extent, the history of my movie-going is the history of me.

Like seeing This Island Earth with my Uncle Roy at the Fairfield cinema, and being scared not by the mutant but also by the skeletal outlines of the heroes as they stood in the recompression tubes. Or watching From Russia With Love and Goldfinger at the El Rancho Drive-In at Fairfield -- the drive-in sequence in John Sayle's Lone Star brought it all back to me.

Saturday matinees at the Regal Theatre in Liverpool played all the MGM Elvis movies (the only good ones had Ann-Margret in them), all four of Dean Martin's Matt Helm movies, endless technicolour westerns and Valley of Gwangi with Ray Harryhausen's fabulous stop-motion dinosaur as it's lassooed by cowboys in a lost Mexican valley.

there's more, see the review index

The Regal was also the place where I first slapped on Brut to make myself smell older and snuck into an R rated double feature - Boxcar Bertha starring Barbara Hershey and David Carradine and Slaughter starring Jim Brown and a topless Stella Stevens.

The Star Theatre at Bondi Junction was where someone at Hoyts decided to turn it into a horror movie-only venue so that teenagers like me could travel 40 kilometres from the western suburbs to watch back-to-back Hammer horror film double features until midnight. Vampire Lovers and Lust for a Vampire were my favourites.

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I remember being the only person under 18 at the Australian Premiere of Flesh Gordon at the Academy Twin Cinema in Paddington. They gave out free posters with the original George Barr artwork. Wish I still had it.

How could I forget midnight features at the Valhalla in Sydney? While waiting to see Robot Monster and Glenn or Glenda? some guy puked in the front row centre seat, so the entire audience formed a perfect semicircle of empty seats around the site of the toxic spill. Somehow, this drunken regurgitation enhanced the movie experience.

But increasingly, there are things about the cinema experience that piss me.

Perhaps incipient curmudgeonliness is to blame, but I think not. Change isn't bad. Change for the sake of change or for the sake of maximum profit for minimum effort, is.

Transport Accident Commission commercials at the cinema. Maybe people overseas and interstate don't get these but in Victoria, the TAC's graphic and horrible car-crash shock ads have always been controversial. Now they have insinuated themselves on the big screen. Why do I object? The road toll is coming down. Maybe people need shock tactics to pay attention. They do more harm than good, et cetera. Three solid reasons: I don't drive; I can't channel surf the movie screen to avoid it, and the ads for bland middle of the road radio stations are bad enough without seeing some snoozing motorist drive a car full of his missus and munchkins into a deep billabong.

The price of cokes, popcorn and ice creams at the movies. One choc-top, a medium coke (no ice) and a small popcorn costs as more than a good Vietnamese meal in the Pho Saigon on Swanston Street.

My tip to the wise is this: Movie Enhancement Therapy.

Village at Crown have the right idea with their $25 per seat wine and munchies cinema seats. (Of course, everything else at the Crown Complex is anathema to any thinking primate.) There's nothing like bottle of good beer. I watched The Rock on the big screen with a can of Asahi beer and it was an ineffably pleasant experience in spite of the presence of Nicholas Cage. Watching Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery while quaffing a Cooper's Red Label is eminently civilized.

But don't bother slouching in with your knuckles on the ground, drool dangling from your lower lip and a couple of tubes of Victoria Bitter in your kick. Cheap beer's for the peasants who go to the football to share their rhinovirii with the other spectators. What you want is a bottle of Dogbolter, or Redback or a resealable bottle of Grolsch or if you're touched by the Gods and can find it, some Samuel Adams.

Anyone who thinks that Jim Carrey is now one hundredth of a percent as funny as he was on In Living Color should be struck off your Christmas card list and immediately recommended for remedial psychotherapy. Put them in the same padded pastel hued fun-room as anybody who tells you they enjoyed Bean.

The big cinema chains are putting up screens all over the western suburbs of Melbourne these days. Eight or ten screen complexes. Within eight kilometres of where I am - excluding the CBD, there are going to be eighty or ninety new screens within the next two years. All of them mainstream. Let's split the diff and say 85 screens. Chances are that they're all going to be showing the same eight or ten movies. Blockbuster action flicks, romantic comedies, kiddie films and whatever was big at the last movie awards.

What we need is some encore cinemas. The Astor does well and the Westgarth, while it has diluted the old Valhalla spirit, isn't always objectionable. But up in Sydney they have three or four times as many screens showing old movies. What I'd personally love to see is a smallish old cinema that specialises in film noir. At last count there are a few hundred films that could be considered noir, from The Big Sleep to The Last Seduction. You wouldn't have to repeat the program for years at one double-feature per week.

People who go to movies with their brain habitually turned off. You know who I mean. The ones who say that a movie is bad and when you ask them why, come out with things like "It just is" usually preceded by "I dunno…". (But look on the bright side; these same cretins will probably die of some minor ailment because of their inability to describe basic symptoms to a doctor.)

The dearth of double features. I want more cinemas, especially the big chains, to show some double features! Match the films up. La Jetee with 12 Monkeys, Yojimbo with Last Man Standing (hey, I'm a big Bruce Willis fan), The Seven Samurai with The Magnificent Seven and Battle Beyond the Stars. Seeing modern films and the Japanese samurai epics that inspired them would be a kick for any thinking moviegoer. Show all four Dean Martin Matt Helm movies in an all night session, screen Our Man Flint and In Like Flint together in a triple feature with Austin Powers or play the Star Wars Trilogy backwards so that Luke Skywalker ends up as gormless and ignorant as the audience.

My movie recommendations for the moment.

Career Girls - Mike Leigh 's latest flick. Two women who flatted together during their University days get together six years later in London. It doesn't sound like much, but for sheer humanity and keenness of perception, you can't go past this one. It's funny and poignant and incredibly perceptive. No name actors, just a fabulous script that plays against the viewer's expectations in subtle but profound ways and actors who manage to bring out the heroic qualities of the ordinary person's ability to endure.

Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery - Mike Myers' homage to 1960s spy flicks. The soundtrack's groovy, the set designs perfect and the corny jokes and visual gags play with film-making as if it were a teenage fad-toy. Film mucked around with as if the medium was a hula-hoop, a frisbee, a Rubik's cube or a tamagotchi. Oh, yeah, and it has Liz Hurley in it for adolescents to tumesce over. Personally, I liked Mimi Rogers better…


Last Man Standing - Bruce Willis as the samurai … sorry, gunman, who comes in to a border town owned by two rival bootlegging operations in the 20s and plays both sides against each other. Walter Hill's the scriptwriter/director, Ry Cooder did the soundtrack and it's an action flick of the purest kind without the gloss of a Jerry Bruckheimer or Joel Silver production. You can almost feel the dust on your teeth.

The Streetfighter Series - 1970s Sonny Chiba karate epics. He plays Terry Suguri, mercenary streetfighter who goes up against the Yakuza, terrorists and whoever else is mean and menaces pretty Japanese women. The four movies are on sell-through but some video shops are stocking them.

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Terry Frost
Terry Frost's opinions are his own and in no way should be construed as the opinions of the editor, the publishers or other contributors. Agree with or berate him by e-mail.
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: 29-Aug-97 : Last updated: 7-Sep-97: Last tested: : Last compiled: 08-Aug-2014

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