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Samantha Strauss gets her Hollywood break with John Madden movie

Samantha Strauss.

Samantha Strauss met with executives at Fox Searchlight during what she describes as a “water bottle” tour of Los Angeles in January last year.

That visit has paid off handsomely as the Dance Academy creator has been commissioned to script a movie about Joan Quigley, the San Francisco astrologer who became a confidante to First Lady Nancy Reagan and President Ronald Reagan.

John Madden will direct President’s Astrologer, produced by Damian Jones for Fox Searchlight, one of the Fox units which will soon be folded into the Walt Disney Co. as part of a $US71.3 billion deal with Rupert Murdoch’s company.

Fox Searchlight execs had read a sample of Strauss’ work on The End, See-Saw Films’ 10-part drama co-commissioned by Foxtel and Sky UK. They thought the tone was perfect for Madden’s film, which will relate how Nancy Reagan secretly hired Quigley as the White House
See full article at IF.com.au »

Noni Hazlehurst, Claudia Karvan and Stephen Curry star in ‘June Again’

Claudia Karvan, Noni Hazlehurst and Stephen Curry. (Photo credit: Andreas Bommert)

Writer-director Jj Winlove could not have wished for a better cast for his debut feature June Again.

Now shooting in Sydney, the comedy-drama stars Noni Hazlehurst as June, a woman who experiences a medical miracle, after which she has only a few days to bring together her estranged children, save the family’s wallpaper business and rekindle an old flame.

Claudia Karvan and Stephen Curry are playing her children in the movie produced by Jamie Hilton, Michael Pontin, Drew Bailey and Isabel Stanfield for See Pictures.

The Wellington-born Winlove wrote the screenplay in 2017, aiming to appeal to older cinemagoers. His La-based agent, Verve’s Parker Davis, and his manager Scott Carr shopped the project and Hilton pounced.

He wrote several more drafts until the producers started the casting process via casting director Kirsty McGregor. The three leads all sparked
See full article at IF.com.au »

Sbs orders ‘Hungry Ghosts,’ revives ‘Mastermind’ and uncovers family secrets

The Hunt

A thriller which centres on three generations of Vietnamese Australian families as they cope with the aftermath of war, a revival of the quiz Mastermind and documentaries which uncover family secrets and medical myths will screen on Sbs next year.

Among other shows unveiled at the broadcaster’s Upfronts are four “Slow Summer” documentaries in the vein of The Ghan, the third and final season of Matchbox PicturesThe Family Law and a doc which posits that Christianity in Australia is in crisis.

Kurt Fearnley, Scott Cam, Casey Donovan and Rodger Corser are the first names confirmed for the 10th edition of Warner Bros. International Television Production Australia’s (Wbitpa) Who Do You Think You Are?

Sbs director of TV and online content Marshall Heald said: “At Sbs we tell stories and show people on screen that you don’t see anywhere else, giving a voice to communities that would otherwise go unheard.
See full article at IF.com.au »

Cinema Pioneers celebrate ‘Ladies in Black’ as Sony plots overseas release

Sue Milliken and Bruce Beresford (centre) with the cast of ‘Ladies in Black.’

Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black has grossed $11.4 million in seven weeks, encouraging Sony Pictures, which acquired the worldwide rights, to start devising plans to release the comedy-drama in offshore markets.

“The film was always required to establish itself here first before leveraging that success internationally,” Sony Pictures Releasing executive VP Stephen Basil-Jones tells If.

Produced by Sue Milliken and Allanah Zitserman, the 1959-set film is heading for $13 million here and in New Zealand is about to surpass $NZ1 million, which Basil-Jones rates as a superb result, particularly considering Oz films often struggle when they cross the ditch.

In Los Angeles last week he discussed with his colleagues rolling out the film, which stars Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Ryan Corr, Alison McGirr, Noni Hazlehurst and Vincent Perez, in the UK and North America. Also he
See full article at IF.com.au »

Joel Edgerton and Simon Baker make history with Aacta nominations

Nicole Kidman and Joel Edgerton on the set of ‘Boy Erased.’

Joel Edgerton and Simon Baker have scored nominations in the feature film direction and acting categories for Boy Erased and Breath, the first time that’s happened in the same year in AFI | Aacta history.

Edgerton and Baker will compete for four prizes at this year’s awards which will be handed out at an industry luncheon on December 3 and at the ceremony on December 5. Both titles have been nominated for best film and Edgerton and Baker are also in the running for best supporting actor and adapted screenplay.

In total 19 features received nominations, with five vying for best film: Boy Erased, Breath, Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling’s Cargo, Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black and Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country.

The five titles competing for the new category of best indie film budgeted under $2 million are the Jacobson brothers’ Sibling Rivalry,
See full article at IF.com.au »

Bo Report: Soft launch for ‘First Man’ while ‘In Like Flynn’ misfires

‘In Like Flynn.’

Universal’s First Man has an Academy Award-winning director in La La Land’s Damien Chazelle, an Oscar-lauded writer in Spotlight’s Josh Singer and stars two-time Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling.

But that combination did not catapult the Neil Armstrong biopic to great heights in Australia, the Us or 20 other markets last weekend.

Meanwhile Sony’s Venom easily retained the top spot while Fox’s Bad Times at the El Royale opened better here than in the Us, which isn’t saying much, and Umbrella Entertainment’s Errol Flynn biopic In Like Flynn flopped.

Directed by Russell Mulcahy and starring Thomas Cocquerel as the Tasmanian-born Flynn alongside Corey Large, William Moseley, Clive Standen, Callan Mulvey, Isabel Lucas and David Wenham, the action-adventure took just $22,000 from limited sessions on 69 screens and $38,000 including previews.

The MA15+ rating caused by the violent opening sequence in Papua New Guinea, which is at odds with the rollicking,
See full article at IF.com.au »

Bo Report: ‘Venom’ defies the critics while ‘Ladies in Black’ stays strong

Venom’ (Photo credit: Ctmg)

The critics hated Venom, blasted by Rolling Stone’s Pete Travers as a “puddle of simplistic, sanitized PG-13 drivel” and the worst Marvel film of the year, and by The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw as clumsy, monolithic and fantastically boring.

Audiences must be watching a different movie as the Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man spin-off starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed smashed October opening weekend records worldwide last weekend.

Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black clearly is benefiting from repeat business in its third weekend while Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga advanced to $128,000 including festival screenings after taking $16,000 in its second weekend on 10 screens.

Paramount released Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups direct to home entertainment in the Us but gave it a theatrical run here as an alternate content release.

Transmission’s The Seagull didn’t fly while of the limited releases Madman Entertainment’s American Animals
See full article at IF.com.au »

Bo Report: Family, kids’ films rule while ‘Ladies in Black’ enchants audiences

Ladies in Black.’

While children’s and family titles understandably are dominating ticket sales during the school vacation, Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black looked smart in its second weekend.

Universal’s comedy Night School opened reasonably well considering the African-American cast led by Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish aren’t big stars here, while Sony’s Ice Age adventure Alpha was frozen out by the competition despite glowing reviews.

Palace’s French drama Custody fared best among the limited releases while Transmission’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot and Icon’s feature doc McKellen: Playing the Part had modest debuts.

Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga began a platform release at nine screens, posting solid figures at the Cinema Nova, Hayden Orpheum and Luna Leederville. (See separate story).

The top 20 titles raked in $15.8 million from Thursday through Monday, up 16 per cent on the same frame last week,
See full article at IF.com.au »

Frances O’Connor, Harriet Walter to star in Foxtel drama ‘The End’

Frances O’Connor.

Frances O’Connor and Harriet Walter will star in The End, a 10-part drama co-commissioned by Foxtel and Sky UK.

As first reported by If, See-Saw Films will produce the series created and written by Samantha Strauss, with shooting starting next month on the Gold Coast, supported by Screen Queensland.

The set-up director is the Us-based Aussie Jessica M. Thompson, who made her feature directing debut with The Light of the Moon, which had its world premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival in 2017, where it won the audience award for best narrative feature and was acquired by Amazon Video Direct. Jonathan Brough (Rosehaven) will also direct.

Produced by Louise Smith and Carol Hughes, the series will air on Foxtel’s rebranded Fox Showcase, Sky Atlantic and streaming service Now TV in the UK and Ireland next year. Endeavor is handling the rights in the rest of the world.
See full article at IF.com.au »

Bo Report: ‘Ladies in Black’ works its charms as Johnny English strikes again

Ladies in Black.’

Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black opened impressively in Australian cinemas last weekend, considering that the primary target audience – mature cinemagoers – don’t normally rush out to see films in the first weekend.

Benefiting from glowing reviews and copious publicity, the 1959-set comedy-drama starring Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Ryan Corr, Alison McGirr, Noni Hazlehurst and Vincent Perez, looks set for a long run.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Sony release did not open at No. 1. That honour went to Universal’s spy comedy Johnny English Strikes Again, seven years after the release of Johnny English Reborn.

Dark comedy/fantasy The House with a Clock in Its Walls opened in top spot in the Us but under-performed here while Warner Bros’ animated adventure Smallfoot began reasonably well, positioned to cash in on the school vacation.

Madman Entertainment launched Ben Lawrence’s feature documentary Ghosthunter, which won the $10,000 Documentary
See full article at IF.com.au »

Alison McGirr embodies female desire in ‘Ladies in Black’

Alison McGirr and Rachael Taylor in ‘Ladies in Black’ (Photo: Lisa Tomasetti).

Alison McGirr plays a discontented Sydney department store worker whose marriage has gone stale in Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black.

Although the comedy-drama is set in 1959, the actress believes it has a lot to say to contemporary audiences.

Adapted by Beresford and producer Sue Milliken from the late Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel ‘The Women in Black’, the plot follows Angourie Rice as Lisa, a shy 16-year-old who takes a holiday job in the department store.

Lisa meets a group of women known as the “ladies in black” and becomes a catalyst who changes their lives in the film which Sony is launching on 300 screens on September 20 .

McGirr’s character Patty is often troubled and irritable due to a disconnect with her hard-working and repressed husband Frank (Luke Pegler).

“Patty’s relationship has gone a bit stale
See full article at IF.com.au »

Bruce Beresford’s ‘Ladies in Black’ is dressed for success

Ladies in Black.’

As momentum builds for the September 20 launch of Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black, the distributor and exhibitors are increasingly confident of a sizable opening weekend and a long run sustained by word-of-mouth and repeat business.

Sony Pictures Releasing will launch the 1959-set comedy-drama starring Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Ryan Corr, Alison McGirr, Noni Hazlehurst and Vincent Perez on 300 screens.

No one will be watching the opening weekend and the ensuing business more closely than the team at Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, which snapped up global distribution rights last year.

“We aim to establish the film as a major success, which will make the rest of the world sit up and take notice,” Sony Releasing MD Stephen Basil-Jones tells If.

A Q&A screening with Beresford at the Hayden Orpheum on Tuesday night and a preview at the Randwick Ritz on Wednesday night are sold out.
See full article at IF.com.au »

First International Trailer for Oz Ensemble Comedy 'Ladies in Black'

"You're a clever girl - that's the most wonderful thing in all creation." Sony Australia has debuted the first official trailer for an ensemble comedy titled Ladies in Black, adapted from the popular book The Women in Black by Madeleine St John. The film is the latest directed by award-winning Aussie filmmaker Bruce Beresford, and it's an "alluring and tender-hearted comedy drama about the lives of a group of department store employees in 1959 Sydney." The film's cast includes Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Ryan Corr, Vincent Perez, Alison McGirr, Susie Porter, Shane Jacobson, and Noni Hazlehurst. This looks like a spunky, entertaining film about Australian women learning to stand up for themselves and be strong & independent. Watch out. Here's the first Australian trailer (+ poster) for Bruce Beresford's Ladies in Black, direct from YouTube: Ladies in Black is set in Sydney, Australia in the summer of 1959, against the backdrop
See full article at FirstShowing.net »

Noni Hazelhurst, Christos Tsiolkas headline the 2016 Screen Futures Summit

Noni Hazlehurst.

Noni Hazlehurst will lead a session on power and influence in the media at the 2016 Screen Futures Summit, presented by The Australian Teachers of Media (Atom) and Acmi.

Taking place in Melbourne from June 30-July 3, the summit will run for three days across Acmi and Rmit with over 100 sessions..

Christos Tsiolkas will be joined by producer Tony Ayres to discuss their upcoming TV adaptation of Tsiolkas' novel Barracuda, and Eva Orner will participate in a Q&A via satellite with human rights advocate Julian Burnside after a screening of her documentary Chasing Asylum.

The team from The Family Law.will participate in a Q&A, as will the makers of Logie-winning teen drama Ready for This.

Industry leaders Sue Maslin, David Vadiveloo, Julie Kalceff, Rosie Lourde and Rebecca Mostyn will discuss diversity on screen, and Warwick Thornton will be joined by Philip Batty, Neil Turner and Curtis Taylor
See full article at IF.com.au »

A Place to Call Home delivers for Foxtel

The premiere of season 3 of A Place to Call Home on Foxtel's SoHo has attracted a a consolidated cumulative audience of 500,000 viewers.

According to OzTam figures, that ranks as the third most watched drama series in subscription TV history, trailing Game of Thrones and Wentworth.

The Sunday September 27 broadcast of A Place to Call Home scored. an overnight consolidated audience of 255,000, the most watched program ever on SoHo and the fourth most popular series on pay TV this year behind Game of Thrones, Selling Houses Australia and The Flash.

The figures vindicate the decision by Foxtel executive director of television Brian Walsh to commission two series of the Seven Productions show created by Bevan Lee after the Seven Network elected not to renew it..

Walsh said: .We are knocked out by this outstanding result. It is a timely reminder that Australians love great Australian story telling and quality drama which is well conceived,
See full article at IF.com.au »

Blanchett Superb in Compelling - But Less-Than-Unbiased - Drama About Truth (or Lack Thereof) in Reporting

'Truth' movie: Cate Blanchett as Mary Mapes. 'Truth' movie: Gripping and well-acted drama can't hide '60 Minutes' producer Mary Mapes' role in the 'devolution of TV journalism' The devolution of TV journalism into partisan point-scoring and sophistic bloviating was in full stride by the time 60 Minutes ran its 2004 story claiming that then-President George W. Bush avoided serving in Vietnam by finagling a cush gig in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968. The segment's discrediting merely provided increased momentum, even though its primary assertion that Bush never fulfilled his military service contract has yet to be wholly debunked. The story (and the careers of its authors) crumbled when the conservative blogosphere was able to cast considerable doubt on the authenticity of a handful of memos from which 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes and her team came to their “September Surprise” conclusion – one that might have permanently tipped the scales of a
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Vale Chris Thomson

Chris Thomson, one of the founding directors of the burgeoning New Zealand film and television industry in the 1960s, died in Sydney after a sudden stroke on July 1. He was 70.

Born in Wellington, Thomson directed the first ever drama to air on New Zealand television, A Game for 5 Players, followed by the series The Alpha Plan.

After relocating to the UK in the early 1970s, he worked as a director with the BBC before returning to Australia to direct acclaimed miniseries 1915, Waterfront and The Last Bastion and the feature films The Empty Beach, The Perfectionist and The Delinquents.

He also directed the first ever episode of A Country Practice in 1981. During his long career he worked closely with some of Australia.s finest performers and crew including Jack Thompson, Jacki Weaver, Bryan Brown, Greta Scacchi, Bill Hunter, Sigrid Thornton, Kylie Minogue, Ray Barrett, Andrew McFarlane, Bill Kerr, Lorraine Bayly, Noni Hazlehurst,
See full article at IF.com.au »

Oz critics salute The Babadook

After tying for best film with The Water Diviner at the Aacta Awards, Jennifer Kent.s The Babadook has won the major prizes at the Australian Film Critics Association annual film and writing awards.

The horror movie took the awards for best film, director, lead actress Essie Davis and supporting actor Noah Wiseman.

Emulating his Aacta Award, David Gulpilil was named best actor for Charlie.s Country. Sarah Snook (who was recognised as best actress for Predestination at the AACTAs) was the surprise winner for best supporting actress for These Final Hours.

Gulpilil and Rolf de Heer collected the original screenplay award and Charlie.s Country.s Ian Jones was feted as best DoP. Gulpilil received his best actor statue on Friday evening from Aaron Pedersen (last year's Afca best actor winner for Mystery Road) during the BlakNite event at Treasury Gardens. He dedicated the award to .the spirit of the country and his family.
See full article at IF.com.au »

'The Mule' Clip Featuring Leigh Whannell | Exclusive

'The Mule' Clip Featuring Leigh Whannell | Exclusive
Leigh Whannell reunites with his Insidious co-star Angus Sampson both in front of and behind the camera for the new thriller The Mule, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD this week from XLRator Media. Whannell and Sampson will return as Specs and Tucker in the highly-anticipated Insidious Chapter 3 this summer, but you can check out Leigh in a much different role as Gavin Ellis in our exclusive clip from The Mule.

The plot is inspired by true events, set in 1983, following a naive man with lethal narcotics hidden in his stomach, who is detained by Australian Federal Police. Alone and afraid, The Mule (Angus Sampson) makes a desperate choice; to defy his bodily functions and withhold the evidence...literally. And by doing so becomes a "human time-bomb," dragging cops, criminals, lawyers and his mother into his impossible escapade. This scene shows one of the very angry men the mule's friend Gavin encounters on his perilous journey,
See full article at MovieWeb »

The Mule Movie Review

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The Mule Movie Review
Title: The Mule XLrator Media Director: Tony Mahony, Angus Sampson Writers: Jaime Browne, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell Cast: Hugo Weaving, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Ewen Leslie, Georgina Haig, Noni Hazlehurst, and John Noble Running time: 103 min, Unrated (Violence, language) In Theaters, VOD And iTUNES: November 21, 2014 Based on true events. In 1983 a naive man named Ray Jenkins (Angus Sampson) who still lives at home with his parents, travels to Thailand with his soccer team. Ray’s friend Gavin (Leigh Whannell) whom is in a bit of trouble with drug dealer Pat Shepherd (John Noble), convinces Ray to take the task of swallowing 20 condoms filled with heroin and [ Read More ]

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