Today – Thursday June 11 – I started doing radio film news and updates on 2NSB, fm99.3, the community radio station in Chatswood, on Sydney’s north shore. If you are in the listening zone on Sydney’s north shore, most thursdays you can hear me at about 8.10am. Today I discussed the top box office films in Australia – Terminator Salvation at number 1, followed by Night at the Museum 2, I Love You Man, State of Play, Angels and Demons, and Star Trek – and then surprisingly Samson and Delilah, in 7th place with a total box office of $1,721,406 as of 8th June – and playing in 38 cinemas with a screen average of $10,118, amongst the highest. This small and rather bleak Australian film about Aboriginal kids in remote Australia won the “Camera D’Or” at the recent Cannes Film Festival for director Warwick Thornton. It is being marketed superbly (with a slowly expanding release pattern and word of mouth) and gaining a significant audience for what is, after all, a very small film. It is being heralded as a part of a new age for Australian film: some reviewers are probably way over the top in their praise, but there is no doubt that Samson and Delilah is an important Australian film event this year.
I also discussed today’s film releases – the most interesting one being The Merchant of Venice, directed by Michael Radford and starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Josepth Fiennes. Based on William Shakespeare’s controversial (for its antisemitism) play, this film actually opened in the USA in late December 2004 – that’s right 2004. It has taken four and a half years to arrive on Australian shores. Now that is an impressive time lag. Review of the film to come.
I also reported on an unusual film fact: It is a frequently told story that when Ava Gardner was in Melbourne filming the movie version of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (released in 1959), she said that Melbourne was “the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.” Here’s the thing: she never said it. Neil Jillett actually made it up, when he was a Melbourne-based reporter writing for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald. Jillet wrote about this in 1982. Gardner never denied making the statement, and it has passed into film (and Melbourne) folklore.