The Plague is coming…

Next Wednesday… PLAGUE is coming to the Astor.

A small group of survivors seek shelter from an infection that has spread among mankind. Evie, after becoming separated from her husband John, attempts to convince her group to stay and wait for his return. When another survivor named Charlie appears, his elusive past reveals a terror as frightening as the infected who pursue them.

It’s a special invite only event, BUT, the good people who are staging the screening are giving tickets to a limited number of lucky people who register through their website! For more info and to do that, head on over to plaguefilm.com

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Plague screens Wednesday October 29th 7.30pm

 

 

MSO at the Astor

The folks over at the MSO are launching their 2015 season in style! Celebrating the magical connection between music and film, the MSO will be performing popular film scores at the Astor on Tuesday October 14.

The performance on Tuesday will include works by Albinoni, Beethoven, Jonny Greenwood, Strauss and Nigel Westlake. It also kick starts their sort of scavenger hunt through the city of Melbourne where the MSO will be found and experienced in unexpected locations… like the Astor!

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As part of all this musical madness, they’ll be giving away a golden ticket. We don’t know where it is or when it will appear but if you fancy yourself a sleuth and want to keep up to date with their clues, follow them on Twitter and like them on FaceBook.

2015 tickets for the MSO will be go sale from Thursday October 23 and more info can be found at mso.com.au

As for the performance at the Astor – live music in a building designed by an acoustic engineer? Listening to the greats in your favourite movie theatre? Being a part of something special and it’s free? Sounds too good to be true, right?

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BUT IT IS TRUE! The MSO are coming, they will perform and it will be free. BUT, because of this, we have to tell you right now that there are only 1000 seats (“only”). That means QUEUE EARLY FOLKS.

Doors open 6.30pm Tuesday for a 7.30pm start. Queues start as soon as the most enthusiastic of you appear. Please queue carefully as we are at the corner of a major intersection and you never know about the weather so be prepared. Other than that, we’ll see you Tuesday, yeah?

Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen. It’s not going to happen.

Before Iggy Azalea was getting Fancy with Charli XCX, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) was cruising around LA with Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash), trying to be more of a do-gooder type by making over her adorably clueless new best friend, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy). Of course, finding someone more clueless than she is to worship her was far more of a challenge than Cher had bargained for.

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Sure she’s a little distracted by things like the mall and being popular, but so long as she can argue her way to good grades, Cher doesn’t see why her step-brother Josh (Paul Rudd) should be so super critical of her all the time – or why she failed her driving test, and what’s wrong with being a virgin anyway? High school boys are so immature.

So okay, I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all but I don’t get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair (eww!) and cover it up with a backwards cap and like, we’re expected to swoon? I don’t think so. You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet.

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It’s a totally quotable movie, and it completely revived Jane Austen for teenagers in the ’90s. Now I don’t want to say anything way harsh, or diss Iggy Azalea – exactly, but when it comes to being adorably clueless, Amy Heckerling’s privileged party girl clad head to toe in designer threads is totally like Ren & Stimpy – they’re way existential.

And when you’re done getting existential we’ll have a bit of a recess – time enough to get yourself some kind of herbal refreshment. And even though we actually do have tea, but we also have coke and stuff. Even though this is not America.

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After your break, we move schools to join Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) as she befriends unpopular but awesome best buds Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese). Soon after, however, she encounters the school’s Queen Bee Regina George (Rachel McAdams) and is invited to sit with The Plastics – Regina George, Gretchen Weiners (Lacey Chabert) and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried). From here it’s all about who can be the biggest – and most clever – bitch of all. Jungle like behaviour and savage competition ensues.

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But it’s not a Wednesday, so don’t wear pink. YOU KNOW THE RULES. No really, this is important:

You can’t wear a tank top two days in a row.

And you can only wear your hair in a ponytail once a week.

Oh, and we only wear jeans or track pants on Fridays.

Leave the real world and enter girl world. It is SO FETCH.

 

 

Clueless screens with Mean Girls in a Thrifty Thursday double bill on Thursday October 2nd at 7.30pm. All tickets $13

Pencak Silat Martial Arts

Brace yourselves. On Sunday October 5th there’s going to be a quite literally kick-arse event taking place at the Avondale Heights Stadium in Melbourne.

It’s recently been brought to our attention by the Australian Pencak Silat Federation that the Australian Pencak Silat Championships take place not long after our big screen double bill showcasing precisely that style of Indonesian Martial Arts.

Next Thursday (September 25th) we’ve got a double bill of The Raid (Redemption) (2012) + The Raid 2: Berandal (2014) scheduled, sure to blow your mind with its superbly choreographed fight scenes. If you’ve seen either of these films before then you’ll know what we mean – some pretty astonishing moves. Well, this mesmerising stuff takes place in Melbourne too and the Aus Pencak Silat Fed are still accepting late entrants to the tournament – and it’s open to all styles of martial arts – so if you’re interested in trying your hand (or foot) at this artistic athleticism, then you really ought to hop to it!

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The championships are being held on Sunday the 5th of October,
at Avondale Heights Stadium,
68-89 Military Rd, Avondale Heights, 3034
Tickets are $15 and it commences at 9am, with an opening ceremony, some Silat demonstrations, and fights following.

This tournament is the Australian National Championships, with victorious combatants  selected in the Australian Pencak Silat Team, to contend at the World Championships in Thailand, January 2015.

Anyone wishing to purchase tickets, or find out more about the Tournament-  or even if you just want to find a school in Melbourne where you can learn Silat – then you can contact the federation via email: apsf[at]silataustralia[dot]com[dot]au or check them out on Facebook.

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If you’re not sure what it’s all about then come along to our Raid double bill and see Pencak Silat in action for yourself! It’s pretty impressive stuff.

The Raid (Redemption) + The Raid 2: Berandal screens as a double bill on Thursday September 25th 7.30pm. All tickets $13

Lucy CGIs her way towards 100%

It is a popular notion that humans utilise only ten per cent of their brain capacity, a notion that according to modern neuroscience seems to be more urban myth than scientific fact. But let us suppose it were true. One then wonders what might be possible if humans could tap into the remaining ninety per cent of their cerebral potential. This is the premise for Luc Besson’s latest motion picture Lucy (2014), a rambunctious blend of science-fiction and action from the director of The Professional (Leon, 1994), The Fifth Element (1997), Angel-A (2005) and The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (2010).

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Without divulging too many particulars of the plot, the story concerns a woman named Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) who, due to being contaminated by a powerful narcotic stimulant, acquires the ability to access an ever-increasing amount of her mind. The potentialities of tapping into the supposedly unused ninety per cent of cerebral matter are foreshadowed in a series of speeches from neuroscientist Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman). Lucy launches a one-woman assault on the drug traffickers responsible for her unstable condition, as she becomes ‘superhuman’ in her mental abilities, blessed with powers such as telekinesis (the ability to move objects without contacting them physically – the same talent exhibited by Sissy Spacek in the 1976 film Carrie) and extra sensory perception (also know as the sixth sense).

Although it makes for a dazzling sci-fi action spectacle, one flaw with Lucy is that due to the increasingly invincible state of its eponymous character, suspense and drama are quickly deflated, as Lucy’s nogoodnik adversaries go from being genuinely menacing to comically pathetic – and a heroine is only as good as her opponents. Another liability is Besson’s over-reliance on computer-generated imagery (CGI). One may argue in favour of such cinematic technology when it’s in service of the story or no other options are available, but here it just feels like overkill. Also, CGI, more often than not, has a tendency to look somewhat inauthentic. Nowhere in Lucy is this more apparent than the appearance of the title character’s namesake, the simian creature believed by evolutionary scientists to be humankind’s original ancestor (if you want to see what such a being should look like, I refer you to the cave dwellers in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey).

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On a related note, I recall a television interview with Star Wars creator George Lucas, where he responded to the critics of his heavy dependence upon computer-generated special effects for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), with a condescending “Duh, movies aren’t real!” Well, “Duh!” right back at you, Mister Lucas – no kidding movies “aren’t real”, but they’re at least meant to appear authentic; otherwise, nobody would care about silly little things such as appropriate period detail and thespians remaining in character. Yes, we know that a man can’t fly, but we don’t want to see the wires that allow Superman to remain airborne. And this is the problem with films such as Lucy. As impressive as the special effects might be, it’s all too obvious that they are special effects. Those viewers who were fortunate enough to experience Luc Besson’s marine life documentary Atlantis (1991) this past week at the Astor know that the French filmmaker requires little if any hi-tech trickery to astound his audience. So the CGI overload presented in Lucy is somewhat puzzling to say the least. Ultimately, it distracts rather than engages.

Still, despite its numerous flaws and excesses, Lucy does manage to keep us guessing as to what might become of its heroine once she connects to 100 per cent of her mind’s abilities (inter-titles appear at various points in the picture to inform us of the percentage of Lucy’s accessed brain capacity), so it does retain at least some sliver of intrigue. For those viewers who typically enjoy Luc Besson’s directorial output, Lucy is a worthy of at least a once-around. Even though its premise is scientifically suspect, this is a science fiction picture (you will need to accept it on its own terms) and it does raise some interesting ideas as to what human beings might be capable of realising as the species evolves over the next several thousand years – unless, of course, we outsmart ourselves and wipe humankind from the face of the planet.

Written by Mark Vanselow for the Astor Theatre

Lucy screens on Sunday September 14 at 4pm.

007 Festival – 4K Digital remasters

This one has been a long time in the pipeline. It’s probably close to two years since we first heard that the James Bond titles would be getting the 4K treatment. Digitally remastered DCPs – when done well – can look glorious (not ‘better’ than film – they’re different formats and not truly comparable – but spectacular in their own way). Having made room on a couple of calendars to date, the DCPs will finally be ready for us to unveil onscreen this year, starting on October 18th with the very first and second 007 titles: Dr No (1962) and From Russia With Love (1963).

Beginning with Sean Connery and making our way forwards with George Lazenby and Roger Moore, our 007 Festival brings a popular character back to the big screen where he belongs. According to our calendar (which will be hitting the streets next week!) Sean Connery is the Bond we love best. Who’s your favourite Bond? And what about Bond villains? Does 7’2″ with steel teeth impress you or are you more interested in plots focused on world domination? There’s plenty of nefarious types to choose from and yes, the series does come with a large dose of sexism delivered through dialogue, narrative and lack of agency. In typical Bond style the women are showcased as beautiful but aren’t given all that much to do besides.

In terms of further exploring the world of 007 we’ve got you covered there too – the Sunday before our 007 Festival begins we’ll be screening a documentary that delves into the world of villains, beauties and a British guy who values being suave above all else. It’s called Everything or Nothing (2012) and it screens Sunday October 12th at 4.30pm. 

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Full listings and details will soon be up on our website but until then, here’s the line up for our 007 Festival:

Bond 1Saturday October 18th 7.30pm
Dr No [1962] (PG) + From Russia With Love [1963] (PG)
Sean Connery, the Bond we love the best, investigates strange occurrences in Jamaica and overcomes the evil Dr. No, who of course has a serious plot to rule the world. After intermission, pitted against a blonde Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya with a dagger in her shoe, Connery returns. Plenty of suspense and action, and one of the longest, most exciting fight scenes ever staged.

Bond 2Saturday October 25th 7.30pm
Goldfinger [1964] (PG) + Thunderball [1965] (PG)
Full of ingenious gadgets and nefarious villains, with a hair-raising climax inside Fort Knox. After intermission there are plenty of gimmicks and Academy Award winning special effects as the world is threatened with destruction, set in the Caribbean.

Bond 3

Saturday November 1st 7.30pm
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service [1969] (PG)
Lazenby, as the first non-Connery Bond, battles Blofeld amidst incredible action sequences, and a plot with a novel twist. The requisite components persist: nefarious villain, beautiful women and scenery, and great action sequences, but this Bond film is set apart by its maturity and emotional depth of characterization.

Bond 4Saturday November 8th 7.30pm
The Spy Who Loved Me [1977] (PG) + For Your Eyes Only [1981] (M)
In this lavish adventure 007 joins forces with a seductive Russian agent to quash arch villain Stromberg’s plans for world destruction. Nobody does it better, indeed. After intermission, bereft of the space age gadgetry, cartoon villains and female mannequins, we have the Bond film that has created the most debate among 007 fans.

Bond 5Saturday November 15th 7.30pm
Octopussy [1983] (PG) + A View to Kill [1985] (M)
When a “00” agent is found holding a Faberge egg, the British are suspicious and send James Bond to investigate. 007 discovers a connection between the priceless egg, an elaborate smuggling operation and a plot by a renegade Soviet general to instigate World War Three. After intermission, it’s Moore’s final appearance as 007, but hardly the strongest of the Bond series. An investigation of a horse-racing scam leads 007 to a mad industrialist who plans to create a worldwide microchip monopoly by destroying California’s Silicon Valley.

All films presented in brand new, remastered 4K DCP format.

Missed it at MIFF – catch it at the Astor

Every year we take a gander at some of the titles screening during MIFF (sadly we can’t get along to all of them – there are just too many!) and this year we’ve been programming while the festival was going which made it that little bit harder to see enough before we chose titles to hit our own very big screen. We know many of the films do get a release and working out which ones will be best BIG, shining on our glorious SuperScreen (across 19m and up 9m), is always both a joy and a challenge.

grandmaster001-thumb-630xauto-35213Add to that a schedule already jam-packed with so many great retrospective titles across cult and classic cinema and the space certainly is limited! But the ones that we can tell you about, for now, are: The Grandmaster, screening Wednesday October 8th, The Immigrant, screening Sunday October 19th, Locke screening Wednesday November 5th and Two Days, One Night screening Sunday December 14th. We’ll admit that there’s a bit of a wait for some of those but we know it’ll be worth it because each of those films will look incredible up on our SuperScreen.

snowpiercer-1We’ve also made sure you’ll get a chance to see and hear Snowpiercer as large and loud as it ought to be experienced (what a wild ride that’s going to be!) so we’ve programmed it twice – Friday September 12th in a double bill with Under the Skin and again on Wednesday October 22nd in a double bill with The Matrix. Don’t say we never give you anything ;)

medium_emma_smokingWe’re also bringing Palo Alto – Gia Coppola’s stunning adaptation of James Franco’s not so wonderful short story collection – because it simply has to have the big screen treatment: the cinematography is every bit as breathtaking here as it is in her aunt Sophia’s films. What an insanely talented family those Coppolas are. Plus, Luc Besson’s latest, crazy blockbuster Lucy is another that we are pleased to announce. How could you possibly imagine what it would be like to use 100% of your brain capacity anywhere other than in the opulent surrounds of the Astor?

5703_TPT_00043R_720For festival lovers who missed it earlier this year there’s the Swedish/Croatian screen adaptation of The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, screening Sunday October 12th. AND, we are definitely screening the comic book adaptation that has become a recent hit sensation, Guardians of the Galaxy, set for Thursday September 11th – that’s soon!

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-second-movie-trailerThat’s a lot of great cinema coming to our SuperScreen and we haven’t even started telling you about the incredible rep content we have in store! Keep an eye on our social media this week as we slowly unveil some of the brilliant things our next calendar is truly bursting with. It’s going to be another three months of stupendous good fun so grab your diary and start making some serious time for the Astor experience.

Written by Tara Judah for The Astor Theatre.