The Gold Coast Film Fantastic, Australia (GCFF)

GCFF

The Gold Coast Film Fantastic opened with a bang (and then some) at Australia Fair Birch Caroll & Coyle cinema's tonight with everyone from Oscar winning special effects whiz John Cox to on-screen (and possibly real life) serial-killer John Jarratt walking the red carpet.

In other highly amusing news I met a young, up and coming Australia actor who just happens to be called James Dean! And he's an actor! And young! Geddit? Sigh. Well, I found it humorous... especially whilst trying to interview him a Marilyn Monroe impersonator was lurking in the background. Eerie.

Anyway, the GCFF is a great local initiative for movie makers and film lovers alike. Festival director Casey Marshall Siemer and co. showcase a selection of Australian films amongst the international offerings and organise the filmmakers to meet with distributors and industry insiders during the event. For cinephiles however, the GCFF is a superb way to see a huge variety of films weeks, even months, before they're released in Oz cinemas.

But with more than 21 films and 7 free outdoor screenings across three days, it's easy to get lost amongst the sheer volume of movies at this year's GCFF. From documentaries and animated films, to romantic comedies and horror, there's something for the cinephile in all of us. Here's my guide to some of the festival highlights:

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
Taking out the audience award at this year's Toronto Film Festival, this is an inspirational look at two of New Zealand's national treasures whose radical protest songs have been entertaining the world for nearly 30-years.

The Accidental Husband
Uma Thurman lowers her Samurai sword for a romantic comedy co-starring Colin Firth and Grey's Anatomy fan favourite Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

ZombielandLovers of horror and comedy can hang on to to the Halloween spirit with this mash-up of the two genres. After smashing the US box-office, Zombieland has been getting rave reviews overseas and stars Woody Harrelson, Bill Murray, Abigail Breslin and rising star Jesse Eisenberg.

Sky Crawlers
Nominated for the best animated feature film at the up and coming Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Sky Crawlers is the latest from Mamoru Oshii, director of anime classic Ghost in the Shell. A slow-paced mystery, the animation is incredible with some of the best flight fight sequences ever created.

Prime Mover
Possibly the first love triangle to involve a man, woman and a truck, Prime Mover is the latest from Australian writer/director David Caesar.

BronsonOne of the most talked about drama's of the year, Bronson explores the bare knuckled reality of real life criminal Charles Bronson who has spent the last 30-years in solitary confinement for crimes committed in jail including murder and taking hostages. Oh, it also stars a beefed-up Tom Hardy (above) in his breakout roll.

The Coolangatta Gold This year's race may be over, but relive the excitement with the 1984 film that made the iconic ironman race famous.

I.C.U
From Gold Coast director Aash Aaron, this edge-of-your-seat offering follows three teens in a Surfers Paradise high rise who play a game of cat and mouse with a serial killer.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
This is one for the kids and kids at heart Inspired by a children's book, the film focuses on a town where food falls from the sky thanks to the invention of a young, wacky scientist. Though I rolled my eyes at the trailer, a four star review from Empire has sparked my interest.

P.S. And I bring you another trailer fresh off the inter-web from another movie on 5 horror movies I must see in 2015 list; Date Night! Yes, the Steve Carrell, Tina Fey led comedy with possibly the best supporting cast ever - Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Leighton Meester, Ray Liotta, Common, Kristen Wiig and more. Oh, did I mention Mark Wahlberg? Did I mention he's shirtless in the trailer? HELL YES! Watch and drool. Thoughts? The trailer looks like its been put together a bit tackily but there appears to be some good moments. We'll have to wait another six months to see the actual movie though. Sigh.

2015-04-03
Take The Matrix and 28 Days Later and you've got Daybreakers!

Daybreakers

Its only been out for 6 hours and I'm already sick to death of hearing about The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to actually be alive and old enough to experience a full-blown movie phenomenon as I missed the boat with Star Wars and Indiana Jones. At least I understood the frenzy behind The Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter movies and didn't want to light myself on fire every time it came on the news. But this... this has got even the most hardcore fan inside of me screaming "that's freakin' enough Twihards, settle the frak down!"

Sigh. At least the guys over at Film Drunk feel my pain and have put together a brilliant piece on the absurdness of Twilight fans and their signs at the New Moon premiere. I strongly recommend you read the whole thing in its entirety here. Otherwise, the best bits are below:

"I’m only picking a few of my favorites, but clearly this represented a cross section of America’s finest. Like this guy. He likes America, sleeveless shirts, and vampires that sparkle. I think that was a Bob Seger song. Or this girl, the one behind the girl in the front. She wants to be “a stupid lamb.” Or possibly a stupid lamp, it isn’t entirely clear. Regardless, it’s good to have ambitions. Then there’s these girls,who support the Cullen diet, while standing behind a lady who doesn’t seem to support any diets. Diversity is beautiful. Meanwhile, the girl in the front right is enjoying her one day of the month outside. Anyway, I just thought you guys should enjoy some of these photos, because a lot of good cats went hungry for this."

Well said.

In other vampire news, the poster art for Daybreakers hit the net today and it looks siiiiiiick. And how's the quote from Variety; "Take The Matrix and 28 Days Later and you've got Daybreakers". That's a bloody brilliant line about the film and the poster art looks very slick. Very awesome. Very promising and hopefully a far cry from the romantic notion of vampires, I want to see more bloodsuckers darn it. Daybreakers is an Australian film shot in Queensland earlier this year on a budget of $25 million and stars Ethan Hawke, William Dafoe, Isabel Lucas and Sam Neil. Set in the not too distant future (2019 to be exact), a plague has turned most humans in to vampires who are now faced with a dwindling blood supply. Shot by the Spierig Brothers, I really hope this is a successful attempt by them to cross over in to Hollywood mainstream. If the trailer is anything to go by...

The Mystery Machete

Scooby Doo

Why do zombies make everything cooler? I mean, seriously, first we had the fabulous Jeffrey Thomas’ zombified version of classic Disney princesses and now Scooby Doo has been given an undead remake. Travis Pitt has come up with this post-zombie apocalypse version of the Scooby gang, complete with a bloody and bad-ass version of Velma. Hot damn! Gone is the orange turtleneck and shy demeanour, she rocks that machete. Scooby has also made a vast improvement from the Scooby-snack addict to fierce hell hound.

I dig the fact Velma, along with Scooby, is the only member of the gang to survive the zombie (and possibly vampire) apocalypse as she would use her smarts to adapt to the situation. And like all internet crazes, you can now buy this as t-shirt here. Woo.

Zombieland, way funner than its cousin Disney

Zombieland

While everyone is busy throwing their panties, sharpening their fangs and causing a ruckus about New Moon, there’s another monster movie worthy of your affection. Thankfully this one doesn’t focus on the sex appeal of an ethnic temptation werewolf and a broody vampire, but rather a zombie apocalypse.

Ahhh, zombies, though they might be an excellent source or eye-gouging, flesh-tearing horror, Shaun Of The Dead taught us the undead can also be bloody funny (pun intended). But like Paris Hilton and a recording studio, horror and comedy can be toxic mix unless executed properly. Zombieland follows a rag-tag group who are trying to survive in a world overrun by zombies. There’s the central character Columbus, played by Jesse Eisenberg in another amicable turn after Adventureland, Whicta (Emma Stone), Tallahasse (Woody Harrelson) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). While everyone cast is decent, Harrelson owns this movie as the Twinkie-addicted, bad ass that kills zombies with literally everything from a chainsaw to a banjo. Eisenberg’s wry, Michael Cera-esque comedic timing hits all the right spots and along with Harrelson, they make a highly watchable onscreen duo. There’s also an unforgettable cameo from Bill Murray, of which I can’t go in to too much detail without spoiling, but lets just say he’s awesome.

You’ll be laughing from the opening credits onwards and there’s plenty of gore here to satisfy horror fans and aficionados of the zombie sub genre. Director Ruben Fleischer has mad a slick and stylish film, utilising slow motion for some of the chase and attack scenes with impressive results. When Eisenberg explains the rules for surviving Zombieland (“the first rule of zombieland: cardio. When the zombie outbreak first hit, the first to go, for obvious reasons... were the fatties”) the rule appears in text on screen at some of the most unexpected moments, but rather than annoy it adds to what is a ridiculously hilarious ride. With a hasty running time, Zombieland is some of the most fun I’ve had in a cinema this year and I can’t fault it.

Exclusive on the new James Cameron project: Sanctum

Sanctum

Hollywood heavyweight James Cameron's 3D underwater epic Sanctum starts filming on the Gold Coast this Friday with local and international film crews busy making final preparations. I had the chance to speak with the director, local Alister Grierson, and location manager Chris Strewe, who shared some juicy, exclusive details. Work has already begun at Warner Roadshow Studios with sets being built in Sound Stage 2 and 8, and crews preparing to film underwater scenes in the studio's $2.1 million water tank. Construction is also under way at a private residence on Bonogin Road, Mudgeeraba where some of the opening scenes will be shot in a semi-tropical rainforest.

Cameron, known for his blockbusters Titanic, Aliens, Terminator 2, Judgment Day and the upcoming Avatar, is serving as executive producer alongside Grierson, from Burleigh Heads, as director. Sanctum will be the first 3D underwater action-adventure-fiction film ever and is being made on a budget of $30 million, relatively small for Cameron spawn.

Grierson remained tightlipped about which Australian A-list celebrities will feature in the film, and said fans will have to wait for the official casting announcement in a few weeks. Just quietly, my bet is on Sam Worrington as he was around recently for the Inside Film awards and lord knows he's on team Cameron. Sanctum follows a father and his teenage son as they navigate a treacherous cave-diving exploration gone wrong.

The underwater cave is being constructed in Warner Roadshow Studios outdoor water tank, where majority of the filming will take place. Cameron will arrive on the Gold Coast to work on the project early next year once he finishes the press tour for Avatar. The crew behind the film will be taking a break over Christmas then continuing filming until mid-March.