Time, birth, double bills

Sometimes the links between the films we’ve put together in a double feature are hard to see. Aside from both films being recent releases and coming from the same distributor, the similarities can be difficult to spot. Maybe it’s tonal, perhaps it’s just a question of matched quality? Tonight’s double feature, Locke (2013) and Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) is one that seems, on first glance, to be haphazard. ‘What do weary vampires have to do with impending fatherhood?’, I hear you ask. Well, there might be something…


As Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) drives along what is either the M4, M40 or M1 (his job is in Birmingham and he’s on his way to London, but he seems to be putting on a Welsh accent?) leaving his wife, sons and impending concrete pour behind, he contemplates fatherhood. From the imaginary conversations he has with his own father inside the car, to the distant conversations he has over the phone with his living sons, and finally, to the anticipated conversations he will have with his newborn child when he gets to London, Ivan Locke is trapped in a confluence of time of past, present and future.

Though Jim Jarmusch’s hipster vampire flick is not quite so concerned with fatherhood, I would argue that it is very much preoccupied with the live passage of time. For beings who have lived through centuries of so-called humanity, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) have become apathetic. Adam is a recluse whose creativity persists despite his reluctance to support it in any embodied kind of way, and Eve, though the stronger of the two, is also weary of engaging with the human world; the pair don’t even dare take human victims for fear of ingesting contaminated blood. For them, time is not so much a trajectory as it is an endurance. Its infinite nature reflects their own. They represent, through their immortality, past, present and future at once.


In addition to time, both films are concerned with birth: Locke explicitly and Only Lovers metaphorically. While Locke is on his way to a birth, all the while birthing himself; from his demons, his past life, his worldly constraints, and the not-yet-set-in-cement person he sees himself as, Adam and Eve have and will again give life (through a sort of death, but leading to immortality) to others; they are the proverbial beginning and end of humanity.

So while the two films screening tonight don’t share a filmmaker, writer, actor or actress in common, they do share something. Their reflection over time, humanity and what restrains us in our search for something better is certainly shared. The best thing about a double bill at the Astor is that the links are often different for all of us. The best way, then, to work out what the films mean to you, is to come along and see them side by side. Sometimes a pairing can offer a new lens through which to see something you already think you know.

Written by Tara Judah for The Astor Theatre

Locke and Only Lovers Left Alive screen as a double bill on Wednesday November 5 at 7.30pm

They Live: John Carpenter Shows Us The World As It Really Is

UnknownAn out-of-work drifter (professional wrestling legend ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper) wanders into Los Angeles, looking for work and a place to stay. An idealistic individual, he believes that America is the land of opportunity, so long as you work hard, remain patient and follow the rules. However, our drifter is about to have his illusions shattered, as he soon discovers the glamorous facade of the privileged society we inhabit is a smokescreen concealing a nightmarish landscape of thought control and rigid conformity.

Inspired by a short story from Ray Faraday Nelson, titled Eight O’Clock in the Morning (1963), writer-director John Carpenter’s They Live (1988) is one of my favourite motion pictures. Admittedly, it’s a pretty big deal to me that ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper appears as the central character of the piece. You see, I grew up watching ‘Hot Rod’ during his prime years as a wrestling star, and as far as I’m concerned, one couldn’t have found a better actor to portray the lead in They Live. Indeed, it would have been a totally different film without Piper. All of those hilarious one-liners that you hear from Piper? Many of those were ad-libbed by ‘Hot Rod’ himself. Apart from his prowess inside the squared circle, Piper was a flamboyant character whose pre-match interviews often contained stinging insults aimed at whomever his opponent was to be on the night. An incredibly gifted speaker, Piper’s verbal barbs at his foes were never scripted, and his talk show segment, Piper’s Pit, became the stuff of legend. Suitably impressed by the ultra-charismatic Piper’s work in the realm of professional wrestling, Carpenter offered the Canadian-born ‘Hot Scot’ the leading role in They Live. Carpenter couldn’t have made a better choice.

Casting decisions aside, They Live really speaks to me with its indictments of mindless consumerism, draconian conformism and brutal authoritarianism, all the while lamenting the demise of individualism in modern society. Granted, it’s also a work of science fiction, but the messages in the film are wholly applicable to the real world. The concrete jungle presented in They Live is littered with countless billboards, signs and posters, seemingly innocuous commercials for consumer products, but when stripped of their glossy facade, each insidious advertisement reveals a stern message, printed in severe black text, demanding that we humans obey, consume, and don’t demonstrate independent thought. Piper’s lone drifter character is understandably astonished when he makes this discovery (exactly how he manages this, I’ll leave it to the film to reveal), as he soon realises it’s all part of a global conspiracy, designed to keep “regular people” subdued and subservient to an exclusive worldwide corporate elite.

Much like the world we inhabit, really.

UnknownPiper’s working-class character (never named in the story, but listed in the closing credits as “Nada” and often called “John Nada” by fans of the movie, so let’s go with that) at the outset of They Live is like so many of us: the hard-working individual who believes that there is room for everyone to prosper, so long as each of us has faith in the system and follows the straight and narrow. By contrast, Frank (played by Carpenter regular Keith David) is already jaded and embittered when we first encounter him, a construction worker and family man who has really been screwed over by the capitalist machine. However, despite his dissatisfaction with the capitalist system, Frank expresses his reservations, to say the least, when the post-disillusionment Nada tries to show him the world as it really is. Frank represents another mindset common in our society, that of the individual who knows the system is designed to marginalise the many for the benefit of the few, but is hesitant to take action against the puppetmasters who comprise the corporate elite. Frank is frustrated, yet feels powerless and unable to fight the system, and understandably doesn’t want to be associated with Nada at this point, as the drifter has, owing to a violent rampage inside a city bank, attracted unfavourable attention from the police department, themselves subservient, unquestioning foot soldiers of the so-called ruling class.

imagesAs you might guess, the masters of this global conspiracy as portrayed in They Live are not regular people. Again, as to exactly what they are and how they are discovered by Nada, I shall leave for the film to reveal. One of my favourite scenes in the film takes place inside a newsagency, where Nada is alarmed by the presence of a seemingly normal human whose true appearance is apparent to no one else. Take note of the book with its orange cover on the bookstand next to John Nada in the picture below. Nada, now blessed with an extra-sensory perception of his own, is able to see the world as it really is, as opposed to the world as many of us think it is.

imagesCarpenter’s They Live, much like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, 1978) and numerous other motion pictures from the sci-fi genre, rouses profound feelings of paranoia, making us consider that maybe not only are we not alone in this universe, we aren’t even alone on our own planet. Perhaps the invaders are here already, living among us, controlling us without our knowledge. Such fantastic notions aside, They Live, again, similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Stepford Wives (1975, 2004), deals with the loss of our humanity, the idea of people losing their souls, their uniqueness, as they succumb to the rigidly conformist principles preached by society. Granted, the film is entirely unsubtle in its approach, and detractors might consider it redundant in the sense that it underscores the flagrantly obvious, but if the societal woes highlighted in the film are so apparent in the everyday world, why is it that so many people fail to see the world as it really is? Perhaps this accounts for the lack of subtlety exhibited by the film. Sometimes, you really do need to spell it out in bold capital letters.


Carpenter’s They Live is a relatively obscure work in the history of science fiction cinema, and most unjustly so. Released to American cinemas during the final days of the Reagan administration (the film itself critical of Reaganism), just four days before the November 1988 presidential election, They Live topped the United States’ box office in its opening weekend, before experiencing a rapid decline in audience attendance. However, the film has become a firm cult favourite, and now twenty-five years after it first reached the cinema, They Live is ripe for discovery from a new audience. A blissfully entertaining blend of science fiction, action and social commentary, boasting a tremendous sense of humour, much of it originating from Piper’s hysterical one-liners, They Live is recommended most highly to fans of sci-fi and socially-aware cinema. Featuring a supporting cast including George ‘Buck’ Flower, Meg Foster and Raymond St. Jacques as The Street Preacher, Carpenter’s They Live is a motion picture that – its more fantastic elements aside – shows us the world as it really is. It’s a film that has become terrifyingly relevant, moreso than ever before, to our commercially-saturated, non-thinking society since its release one-quarter century ago. So if you think you see the world as it really is, John Carpenter’s They Live will give you cause to reconsider.


Written by Mark Vanselow for The Astor Theatre. 

They Live screens Sunday September 1st at 7pm in a double bill with David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. 

It’s a bird… It’s a plane…

We are very pleased, thanks to ASC, to share the sentiments of their very first store employee, Dom Harman. Here’s what he had to say about the man of steel:

imagesIn his book about the film They Live (1988), author Jonathan Lethem talks of preserving sequences of film history making a case for when the main character puts on a pair of glasses in that film for the first time. Well, allow me to take a page from my favourite author and offer up an argument for my 6 or so minutes of film that I love, this one involves a character taking his glasses off. It starts with Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane walking across a helicopter platform, it ends with her fainting in that same place, what happens between is pure cinema magic. I speak of the helicopter sequence in Superman The Movie (1978).

imagesPerhaps it was Director Richard Donner and Editor Stuart Baird’s prior film The Omen (1976) that helped them bring this sequence together, because it starts out with pure suspense. John Williams’ score hits the sharp notes to let us know danger is afoot. We’re scared and Kidder does a great job at selling that fear. Of course, you’re watching a Superman film so you know what’s coming as she dangles from the helicopter, holding on for dear life. Doesn’t make it less suspenseful though. Her shoe drops and our hero Clark Kent finds it, looks up and, without hesitation, knows what he needs to do. Here again, Williams really shines as the hero theme starts to rumble in low. We get humour as the telephone box proves to be an entirely inappropriate spot to change. Cut back to Lois, her hands are slipping and then back to Clark, ripping his shirt open to reveal the S shield just as Williams score hits the right notes.

Then, Lois slips, that’s okay, there’s someone to catch you. “Easy Miss, I’ve got you,” that line said with such earnestness damn near sums up the portrayal of Superman by Christopher Reeve, when he says he’s got her, we believe him. We only see Superman. Then, more suspense highlighted again by the sharp sting of the score, the helicopter is coming down too, that’s okay Superman will catch it. The crowd goes wild, not just on the screen but in the theatre…well, my own personal theatre. Direction, editing, music, acting. They all combine to make us not only believe a man can fly, they mesh together perfectly in a single sequence to make us believe in Superman.

Written by Dom Harman for the Astor Theatre on behalf of All Star Comics.


Always Die Hard

Nicholas Waxman reflects on what Die Hard (1988) means to him…

I was only 6 months old when Die Hard blasted onto movie screens around the world and raised the bar to an unreachable height for all action movies to come. Die Hard is arguably the best action film ever made, it is most certainly the greatest Hollywood has ever attempted, and is definitely my favorite. You can separate Die Hard from the rest of the franchise (as most would with others quadrilogies such as the Alien, Indiana Jones and Rambo films) because Die Hard was the first off the rank and its success led producers to the next three films. The quality and success of the rest of the series is separate from our first outing with John McClane.

UnknownSo, forget Die Harder (1992 – even though it was cool), remove Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995 – regardless of how awesome it was) from your mind and shatter the memory of Die Hard 4.0 / Live Free or Die Hard (2007) because it was more a John McClane film that a Die Hard film anyway. We are talking about the brilliance of Die Hard.

The title, how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that decision. The title of the book that the film is based on Nothing Lasts Forever (1979, Roderick Thorp) would have been an awful movie title and the franchise would surely have failed (Nothing Lasts Forever 2: Nothing Lasts Forever’er ?) But to take a gamble on a title like Die Hard, feels to me a similar decision to Snakes on a Plane; but this was well before action movies were self aware enough to know that Die Hard, although an awesomely cool title, is ridiculous! You can’t ‘die hard’ – or soft for that matter – but it utilized a noun and an adjective to get our blood pumping (it may also be used as an adverb in this case).

Die Hard is the kind of title that gets every testosterone-fuelled human on this planet lining up at the cinemas, but as we know now, the producers weren’t so sure about that.
 Die Hard was saved, on my count, at least 12 times from doom.
The film was originally going to be Commando 2, with Schwarzenegger taking the lead and ruining it for everyone – can you imagine Arnold as John McClane saying “Now I know what a TV dinner feels like”, “Son of a bitch! Fist with your toes”,  not to mention “Yippie-Ki-Yay Mother F*&^%$#!”. 
Happily and luckily the film was saved from Arnold, but that wasn’t the end of potential doom. After Mr. Schwarzenegger turned it down Stalone was asked, he declined; then Burt Reynolds (what?!), and after he said thanks but no thanks Richard Gere was asked (which is madness, absolute madness); after Gere rejected the idea Harrison Ford was considered; before finally resting on the brilliant Bruce, Mel Gibson was asked to take the plunge. That Mel Gibson was asked is somewhat ironic because if Mel had done the film then Bruce Willis probably would not have had his John McClane cameo in Loaded Weapon (1993), a piss-take of Mel Gibson’s star vehicle Lethal Weapon (1987).

images1Bruce Willis seems like an obvious choice now of course, because he was brilliant, but he wasn’t even included on the original posters because the producers feared all those Willis-haters out there wouldn’t come and see it. But, the posters as we know were changed after its initial success.
 The film is cast almost perfectly (which makes it that much better) with strong actors taking up small and large roles; Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber in his first feature (although he was in BBC R&J as Tybalt –very funny). Alan Rickman is a joy onscreen; a smarmy, sarcastic thief with sharp edges and a smooth, deep voice. He is pathetic and strong, happy to use violence and negotiation to get his way. What a villain! He is the strongest performer after Willis in this film – if not equally strong.
 Bonnie Bedelia is gorgeous and funny as Holly Gennaro (McClane’s estranged wife), her emotional range in this film is extensive considering her brief screen-time and she hits her marks with aplomb. I was always very sad to miss out on seeing her development over the series. Gennaro was a great character. 
William Atherton as Richard Thornburg the TV journalist is either done very well or quite poorly; he is over the top and incredibly unlikable; the man is a leech, which means job well done for Mr. Atherton.
The prize for best ensemble character must go to Harry Ellis, played by Hart Bochner. Ellis is a deluded fool with a cocaine problem, he is a patronizing tool who gets his comeuppance, not what he deserves, but it is satisfying in the moment.
 There are many more strong performances in the film including Reginald VelJohnson as the very funny, tortured cop with a heart of gold and John McClane’s only friend on the outside.

But what’s fun about that! Lets talk about the massive acting fails! 
Paul Gleason and Robert Davi are by far the worst thing about this film. Paul Gleason is DPC Dwayne T. Robinson, and all the acting classes in the world couldn’t save this guy from being an archetypal idiot. He yells, he screams, he has no time for courtesy until the FBI arrive, he doesn’t listen and he assumes the worst always. He is an idiot and if he had been mastered by the right man (or woman), this could have been a great character piece, like many of the others throughout the film (Argyle for instance).
 The worst performance in this movie though is Robert Davi as FBI agent Big Johnson. It is bad, it is bad, it is bad. The actor is over-confident with his comedy style dialogue and he underplays the mass murder he is potentially party to. It is a small role and made all the smaller for lack of a decent actor. I am glad FBI Agent Johnson is dead.
 That might have been a tad too rough, but when all the other actors are pulling their weight it’s hard to ignore the bad apples. 
It takes a tribe to raise a child and the same can be said for making a movie, John McTiernan directs this awesome movie, he is famous for directing bloody, action blockbusters and this is the greatest of his many greats.


The writing team is also superb and you can tell when the dialogue starts that this is not just a shoot-em-up pointless action, but there is heart, comedy and pain in this movie. Jeb Stuart (The Fugitive, 1993) and Steven E. de Souza (48 Hrs, 1982) re-wrote Roderick Thorp’s novel into a smorgasbord of gripping dialogue and iconic one-liners. 
Die Hard inserts itself easily and quickly into pop culture as “Yippie-Ki-Yay Mother F*&^%$#!” quickly became the [potentially] greatest overloaded, self referential, sarcastic remark in film history and will echo ever in eternity through universities and wherever more than 10 boys [or girls] drink beer. The Simpsons, Friends, The Sopranos, How I Met Your Mother, as well as countless movies and other TV shows have borrowed the premise, quotes and title for their own storytelling. 
Die Hard is a film yet to be rivaled and it stands alone as the best action movie of all time. I would like for Hollywood to come up with a better one, but I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon.
 Die Hard is a must-see movie event, this is not for DVD consumption and The Astor is the only place to see it, on the BIG SCREEN.
 I absolutely love it.

Written by Nicholas Waxman for the Astor Theatre. 

Die Hard screens this Wednesday before the latest, somewhat more dire instalment in the franchise, A Good Day To Die Hard. Wicked Wednesday – All tickets $10

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Three very enthusiastic reviews from Melbourne based film critics Gerard Elson, Paul Nelson, and Tara Judah. Each of these reviews originally appeared in an edition of our E-newsletter and are republished here with permission from the authors.

“It’s not easy having a good time. Even smiling makes my face ache.” So laments Dr Frank-N-Furter—‘A Scientist’—in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Frank’s words might best be applied to New Year’s Eve; that last, desperate glom to reclaim the year that was in the name of fun and ring in a new annum with a grin. Drinks flow freely. Music blares. But it’s not easy having a good time when we know that, come tomorrow, it’s all certain to make our heads ache…

An occasion to give yourself over to absolute pleasure: with a deviant mob of fellow mascara-smeared miscreants. For like a bodacious bod in a lace-up corset, barely contained by The Astor’s super-sized screen will be the cult movie: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The path it’s strutted to cult glory is the stuff of legend: the dismal first showings, the mystified critics, the evasion by the general public… followed some two years later by the mounting momentum of participatory “midnight movie” screenings, in which the audience were invited—nay, expected! —to kick up their high heels and join in the revelry with the sex-fired space bacchants on-screen. Thirty-five years later and Rocky Horror still stands, hand on hip, legs fishnetted and lipsticked lips puckered, as the longest running film in cinema history. 20th Century Fox have never yet lapsed the film’s initial release. Hell, if it ain’t broke…

And Rocky Horror ain’t broke. Far from it. It’s every bit as subversive, all-embracing and resplendently demented as it must have seemed in 1975. And the songs, from the manic dance hall rock ‘n’ roll of ‘The Time Warp’ to the insouciant swagger of ‘Sweet Transvestite’ (Tim Curry here is no less than iconic), still inspire open-lunged sing-along abandon.

So this New Year’s Eve, let The Astor take you on a strange journey with The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Don’t just watch it. Be it.

Reviewed by Gerard Elson (@gerardelson)

From the 20th Century Fox fanfare performed in Richard Hartley’s soon-to-be-unmistakable piano style; followed by Patricia Quinn’s cherry red lips flying at you, you know you’re in for something different. Even after three and a half decades, it feels like a marvellous psychotropic trip to another world. It’s movie geek phantasmagoria, an impassioned plea for tolerance, and a raucous celebration of letting one’s freak flag fly all rolled into one. Ladies and Gentlemen: there is only one Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) are all-American kids who spring a flat tyre on a rainy night, sending them scurrying to the nearest house for a phone. Unfortunately (or most fortunately), the nearest house is a gothic castle, playing host to a shindig for “Transylvanians”, thrown by cross-dressing mad scientist Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), and catered by all-too-intimate brother/sister servant pair Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien, also the co-writer/lyricist) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn). Despite Brad and Janet’s fearful trepidation, Frank is delighted to host them, as he’s about to unveil his latest feat of genius. See, he’s been making a man… with blond hair and a tan…

Directed and co-adapted by Australian Jim Sharman, the film is a pure, unhinged, hedonistic blast, inspired by sci-fi B-pictures and Busby Berkeley musicals, bursting with insanely catchy songs and endlessly quotable dialogue. The uniformly terrific cast (most reprising the roles they originated on stage) surrender to the material with wonderful reckless abandon, but nobody makes as seismic an impression as Curry, whose booming voice, sly charisma and dramatic physicality command every scene he’s even peripherally involved in.

One of the first films (and the only Hollywood studio film) to be adopted by the original NYC “midnight movie” crowd of the mid-1970s, Rocky Horror’s celebration of sexual freedom and kinky joie de vivre continues to resonate powerfully with audiences today, as well as its then-unique references to genre movies past, now de rigueur. Give yourself over to absolute pleasure – see it!

Reviewed by Paul Nelson (@mrpaulnelson)

Pull up your fishnets and tighten your corsets: it’s time to do the Time Warp again! This Friday we take you back to 1975 with one of the original five films responsible for the “Midnight Movie” phenomenon: that’s right folks, returning to Melbourne’s glorious Astor Theatre is writer/actor Richard O’Brien and director Jim Sharman’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Adapted for the screen from O’Brien’s original stage musical: The Rocky Horror Show (1973), the film version attracted such an immense cult audience that the stage-show has since been, almost endlessly, revived – and not just in the UK. Exceeding by far the meagre expectations O’Brien had of his warped, B-grade, trans-sexually charged sci-fi musical mayhem, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is said to hold the record for the longest running theatrical release in film history. Still showing in quality theatres around the world, Rocky Horror has never been withdrawn from its original release, putting it at a now thirty-seven year run – and counting!

When “Brad Majors – A Hero” (Barry Bostwick) and “Janet Weiss – A Heroine” (Susan Sarandon) – a cute couple and straight squares – break down on a cold, wet November’s eve, they have no choice but to head to a nearby castle in search of a phone to call for help. But the unwitting couple stumble upon the residence of “Dr Frank-N-Furter – A Scientist” (Tim Curry) who appears to be hosting an Annual Transylvanian Convention, at which he is unveiling his latest “creation”: Rocky Horror (a “real, live” man). With some of the most sensational musical numbers ever to exist, including; “Sweet Transvestite”, “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” and, of course, “The Time Warp”; The Rocky Horror Picture Show is not just a film- it’s an experience, which is why audiences have been donning the get-up to attend screenings wherever they can for what’s now three and a half decades.

With costumes, cast, music and mise-en-scene that many probably really would die for, Friday night’s screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a must attend event for anyone who hasn’t seen it – and also for anyone who has. Tim Curry in fishnets, heels, red lippy and a corset? Yes please!

Reviewed by Tara Judah (@midnightmovies)

Two-Lane Blacktop & Zabriskie Point

Tonight’s double bill is an existential journey through the screen – our regular E-news reviewer and passionate film aficionado Mark Vanselow gives us the low-down:
Forty years ago, audiences might not have known what to make of Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). It is an altogether different type of road movie, an automobile film for the arthouse set. Two-Lane Blacktop has a mesmerising slow burn quality, little action and little story. Automobile buff, The Driver (James Taylor) accompanied by The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson) races against GTO (Warren Oates) across the United Sates as they compete for the ultimate prize: pink slips (legal ownership of the other’s vehicle). For those of you who have seen it once, Monte Hellman’s cult favourite improves the second time you see it. Two-Lane Blacktop is presented in a Brand New 35mm Print, on the big screen—experience it the way it was intended for audiences!
Another film ahead of its time was Zabriskie Point (1970) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. An outsider’s view of America (Antonioni was an Italian native), Zabriskie Point is an effective critique of crass commercialism and unchallenged bourgeois values. Anyone who questions mindless consumerism will probably relate to this film—it has its share of cryptic symbolism, but its social commentary still shines through. Those who don’t question the excesses of capitalism probably need to see this film more desperately than those who already “get it”. It is also an amazing film to see on the big screen: Antonioni really has created some memorable visuals here.

Apocalypse Now: Redux

Arguably no other film in history (with exception of John Huston’s The African Queen, 1951) has had a more infamous production than Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979). The film suffered enormous set-backs, disasters, financial woes and scheduling issues that plagued the film’s production; the lead star was replaced three weeks into production, then the replacement suffered an almost-fatal heart attack, another star showed up on set unorganised and not prepared to take the director’s orders, sets were hit and practically destroyed by a mass hurricane, crew members got sick and began to go mad, the director went over budget due to elaborate, larger than life sequences, and had to dig into his own pocket and even mortgage his own house and belongings to complete the film. One by one, disaster after disaster, the film  higher and higher into debt and further and further over schedule. With an original shooting schedule of six weeks that turned into a grueling sixteen month shoot – amounting to an un-matched six million feet of footage that made editing near impossible- it’s no wonder that the media labelled the film ‘Apocalypse When?’ “We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane” is how Coppola put it. But what it amounted to was one of the greatest milestones, and arguably the greatest war film in cinema history.

This epic Vietnam war film tells the story of US Captain Benjamin Willard who is sent on a mission to assassinate renegade Green Beret Colonel Walter E. Kurtz who has formed a sadistic cult of local tribes people on a remote island in Cambodia and declared himself a God. Willard sets out down a dangerous river on a journey that will leave him and his short-lived comrades never the same again. As Willard’s passage unravels he learns the true meaning of war, and finds out who he truly is. A young and fit Martin Sheen stars as Willard while an aging and over-weight Marlon Brando plays Colonel Kurtz. The film features an array of brilliant big-name talents in supporting roles including Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper with Laurence Fishburne and Harrison Ford in one of their earliest film roles.

Three years after production had begun, Apocalypse Now opened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979 to a standing ovation and prolonged applause, before becoming the winner of the festival’s coveted Palme d’Or award. When the film opened in theatres later that year, it earned approximately US $150 million at the box-office worldwide, and became the US’s third highest grossing film of the year. The film was nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium and Best Picture. Out of the 8 nominations the film walked away with 2 Oscars one for legendary Vittoria Storaro’s brilliant Cinematography and one for Best Sound.

However, it was in 2001 that Coppola released Apocalypse Now: Redux, an all new re-cut and extended (by approximately 50 minutes) version of the movie. As legend goes, Coppola was watching television late at night sometime in the late 1990s when Apocalypse Now came on. He, for the first time in years, watched the film and came to the conclusion that it was “tame” in comparison to the day’s standards – A thought that eventually lead to this re-imagining of his original masterpiece, which was placed at #28 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 greatest films of all time and which now sits at #31 on IMDB’s list of Top 250 best films.

Running at just under 3 and a half hours (but don’t worry you’ll get an intermission,) Apocalypse Now: Redux is considered the definitive version of the film and we are proud to present this masterpiece of filmmaking on an amazing, original 35mm Technicolor dye-transfer print – the way it was meant to be seen. If you are a fan of the film, but have never seen it on the big screen, take it from me, you have never fully experienced the film. From the opening sequence of whirring helicopters and exploding napalm, to the spooky carnivalesque battle camp scene, right to the powerful and sadistic Kurtz Compound sequence at the end of the film, your eyes will be glued to the screen. You will be absolutely blown away by the film’s pristine image, a clarity brought through in what amounts to a highly stylised, surrealistic and saturated Technicolor experience. The film has a large screen space in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio and an amazing DTS digital soundtrack, which both amount to a film experience like no other, putting you right in the centre of the action. Coppola once said, “My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam,” and after you walk out of the theatre you will feel like you were there. This is definitely one film you will want to see from the very front row, and one film experience you do not want to miss. And the only place you can see it is at the Astor Theatre.
Written by our E-news reviewer Dave Lee for The Astor Theatre.

Apocalypse Now: Redux screens at The Astor Theatre on Thursday August 25th 2011, 7.30pm.

For more information, visit our website.