New Screen News at 50

My father was in the Victorian town of Dunnolly recently, and found a second-hand shop to browse. It had a decent collection of film memorabilia, and so he picked me up a copy of an old movie magazine called New Screen News, whose ancient copyright I am no doubt about to infringe upon with gusto.

I noticed the edition was dated 11 September 1964, and we were only weeks away from the issue’s 50th anniversary. And who can resist a nice, round 50th? Nobody, that’s who. So, for the hell of it, I decided to scan the whole thing in so you could read what every other film fan in Australia was reading exactly fifty years ago today.

A few notes:

  • What was the film Kim Novak and Marcello Mastroianni were going to star in together? Whatever it was, it never eventuated. Or if it did, it starred two other actors. I can’t find anything in either filmography that might have starred the other, so perhaps the project was abandoned. The closest I can find is Godard’s Contempt: Godard initially wanted Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak, and producer Carlo Ponti wanted Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. But Contempt, which ultimately starred none of the above, was released a year before this magazine even came out.
  • How the hell have I missed What a Way To Go! advertised on the back? That cast! That director/producer/writers/choreographer!
  • To Mrs R Denny of Childers, Queensland (whom I did make a very mild attempt to track down): the word you were looking for was “Chase”. So close!
  • Yul Brynner’s fan letter!
  • Bridget Bardot’s comeback to that cop!
  • The Battle of the Beards!

Screen News 19640911 - 01 Continue reading

Crowdfund This!

You have too much money. Don’t deny it. And funding for the arts is paltry, given those of us in the arts believe it should be roughly 1000% of the country’s GDP. You read that right. So help put things in their proper place by donating to these projects.

As You Like It

As You Like It (Spark Theatre Company)

One of my favourite things in the world is to talk Shakespeare with Perri Cummings. Some people can discuss the themes and dialogue and all that stuff and leave you nodding in agreement. Perri talks about Shakespeare in a way that has the effect of Henry V’s St Crispin’s Day speech: you end every conversation filled with adrenaline and excitement, ready to follow her into battle. I’m stupidly excited to see her new theatre company put on As You Like It, because if it’s even half as exciting as Perri talking about Shakespeare, it’s going to be more exciting than any other production. Plus my dad’s in it. There’s only five days left, and they’re just over halfway to their goal, so please kick in something right now.

Click here to donate to As You Like It

Dream Date

Dream Date (Scott Swan)

I got to know Scott as a listener, hearing him bounce off Drew McWeeny in the film Motion/Captured Podcast. The two of them co-wrote Cigarette Burns and Pro-Life, both directed by the legendary John Carpenter, and Swan has written and directed horror/crime projects Maskhead and Big Junior. He’s now raising money for his next film, Dream Date, and I really want to see what he comes up with, so follow the link and contribute.

Click here to donate to Dream Date

A Life Unexpected

A Life Unexpected (Sally McLean)

My friend Sally has been working on this documentary about the legendary Franz Stampfl for a while, and it’s grown in leaps and bounds. They’ve filmed all across the world, and count Ethan Hawke amongst their supporters. They need a bit more to get over the finish line (UNINTENDED PUN), so be part of it. Donations are 100% tax deductable for those in Australia, so really you’re just making the government donate to the film. That’s how it works, isn’t it?

Click here to donate to A Life Unexpected

Top Ten Proposed Release Dates of 2014

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I know people get upset at “best of” lists being published halfway through the year, but with so much great stuff out there, it’s impossible not to channel your excitement into rigidly-defined rankings.

For all the grief given to Hollywood studios, they’ve come out with some really exciting release dates recently, and as an ardent film fan, I cannot contain my happiness any longer!

(I’ve not included titles as Untitled Cameron Crowe Project 2015, Untitled Warren Beatty Project 2015 or Untitled Woody Allen Project 2015, for two reasons: one, there’s so much information about those films out there already – ie: who’s directing them – that it feels like I’ve already seen them; and two, it’s hard to get excited about anything that’s only a year away.)

So here is my top ten list of upcoming studio release dates!

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10. Untitled Female Spiderverse Film (TBA 2017)

With barely five Spider-man films under their belts, Sony has decided to make a film featuring a female hero from the Spidey universe, the only one they have the rights to. I feel that putting “Female” in the title is basically giving the game away – why not just publish the script online now, Sony?!? – but the “Spiderverse” is fine given we already know what Sony can and can’t make. The only question now is: when are we getting the sequel?

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9. Untitled Marvel Film (05/04/2018)

Marvel has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to staking out release dates ahead of time, and the casual way that they’ve cornered the early May dates – remember, the above is American date formatting! – is further proof of that. Keep it up, Marvel!

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8. Untitled Marvel Film (07/6/2018)

That said, this is potentially more exciting than the last one. Mostly because it comes out two months later, which is enough to get any good comic book fan sweaty with anticipation!

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7. Untitled Fox Superhero Film (07/13/2018)

A surprise entry from Fox, who have both the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises to their name. Unless this film is actually about some sort of superhero fox. Maybe they’re trying to channel the success of Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy? It’s exciting not to know!

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6. Untitled DC Film (07/27/2018)

The strongest indication that Warner Bros is about to take Marvel on at their own game is the claiming of this date. 2018 seems like a long way away, but it could be longer. Still, this is an exciting date for all involved.

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5. Untitled Marvel Film (11/02/2018)

Marvel does it yet again with one of their strongest entries yet. It’s difficult to not be impressed by “11/02/2018”, given a November release is largely outside the norm for this Summer-friendly studio. Always taking narrative risks, is Marvel.

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4. Untitled DC Film (06/14/2019)

Warners has a DC film coming out in April, but this is the one I’m really looking forward to. I know I’m going to be sitting in that April film in five years time secretly wishing I was in the June film. Bring it on, DC!

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3. Untitled DC Film (04/03/2020)

On the other hand, I might be sitting in the June 2019 film wishing I was in the April 2020 film! This 2020 release date is particularly exciting. We’ve waited a long time to see a cohesive DC universe up on screen, and I assume this is what we’re getting in six years’ time or maybe not it’s impossible to tell in 2014, which is the stupid boring year I’m writing this in.

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2. Untitled Marvel Film (05/03/2019)

Ah, you didn’t expect this, did you? A 2019 film trumping a 2020 film! It’s the Marvel brand that makes this such an exciting prospect. Marvel has built up a lot of good will over the years, and so I was mightily impressed by the way they were able to say they have a film coming out in May of 2019. Which leaves us with… (drumroll)

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1. Untitled DC Film (06/19/2020)

Surprisingly, DC takes out the top spot! There must be sighs of relief echoing around the Warners lot at the moment, as they finally beat Marvel with a release date nearly six years off! It’s fine work from DC, which has finally got its act together when it comes to naming dates that are a long way in the future. Warners, you’re free to use this tagline: “Foresight is 2020!”

Do you agree? Disagree? Comment below on which untitled release date has captured your imagination!

Robot Wins Oklahoma Primary

Lucas and Murray

Timothy Ray Murray (left, human) and Congressman Frank D Lucas (right, robot)

“It is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a lookalike. Lucas’ look-alike was depicted as sentenced on a white stage in southern Ukraine on or about Jan. 11, 2011. On television they were depicted as being executed by the hanging about the neck until death on a white stage and in front of witnesses. Other now current Members of Congress have shared those facts on television also. We know that it is possible to use look alike artificial or manmade replacements, however Rep. Lucas was not eligible to serve as a Congressional Member after that time.”

That’s the Tea Party candidate for Oklahoma’s 3rd congressional district Timothy Ray Murray, who lost his primary challenge to incumbent congressman Frank Lucas.

Murray will be challenging the results of the primary based on his claim that Lucas is actually a robot, and that the real Lucas was executed in Ukraine by the “World Court”.

Lucas clarified that he has never been to Ukraine, and I was inclined to side with him until he made that statement. Whether he’s been to Ukraine isn’t really the part of the accusation that’s piqued everyone’s interest, so why deny that bizarrely specific element unless the rest is real? What’s wrong, Lucas? Is your CPU malfunctioning?

Mr Murray received only 5.2% of the vote, which isn’t much until you consider that three thousand four hundred and forty-two legally-functioning adults thought he was worthy of a vote.

“I will NEVER use Artificial Intelligence look-alike to voice what the Representative’s Office is doing nor own a robot look-alike.”

Did Irvine Welsh Predict Jimmy Savile?


Nobody else seems to have noted this coincidence, so allow me to be the first*.

The latest revelation in the ongoing, vomit-inducing Jimmy Savile case is that unfathomably disgusting man used his position as a volunteer at a hospital to sexually abuse corpses.

Take a moment to bid farewell to your appetite, for it’s never coming back.

As with the other accusations of rape, paedophilia and general abuse, nobody said anything because Savile was a beloved television entertainer and national treasure, despite having modelled his look on what can only be described as “police sketch of suspected molester”.

When this news broke the other day, the first thing I thought of was Irvine Welsh’s 1996 novel Ecstasy.

In the book, beloved television entertainer and national treasure Freddy Royle – who hosts a make-a-wish-come-true show called From Fred With Love – is revealed to be a sexually-hyperactive pervert attracted to just about everyone and everything.

Freddy volunteers at a local hospital, where he uses his access and fame to get alone time in the morgue, enabling him to get his kicks sexually abusing corpses. The hospital trustees know all about it, but turn a blind eye due to the millions of pounds that Royle’s charity work brings in.

I don’t know whether it’s a coincidence or not – the similarities between From Fred With Love and Savile’s own Jim’ll Fix It are incredibly striking – but I could believe it either way. I could believe that Welsh heard rumours and wove those rumours into his fiction all the way back in the mid-1990s. On the other hand, life constantly imitates life, and there have certainly been more improbable flukes than this in the past.

Don’t bother hiring the film to see all this; for some reason, the 2011 adaptation omits this, the most interesting part of the book. So you’ll have to either read the book or trust me.


* Technically, lots of people appear to have noticed it. Years ago. Here’s the London Evening Standard’s October 2012 article about it. But the details about volunteering at the hospital and interfering with the corpses is new, and pretty specific.

The Bob Carr Diaries

Bob Carr


The announcement of Bob Carr’s forthcoming book has caused a stir in the press, due to his unguarded diary entries of his time as Australia’s Foreign Minister. Today, even more entries have been revealed exclusively to me thanks to reasons, and they provide a staggering and in no way made-up insight into the mind of Robert John Tiberius Hercules Yaweh Carr.

27 February 2012: A successful morning. I am personally responsible for a ceasefire in a troubled central African state, I’ve smoothed over diplomatic tensions in the Baltic states, and have successfully averted a ground war between the United States and Iran. Now deciding what to have for breakfast.

1 March 2012: The PM has asked if I’d like to become Foreign Minister.

19 September 2012: Started chatting to the UN about Australia gaining a seat on the Security Council. It got a little awkward: Ban Ki-moon wants me to personally hold the seat. “Ban,” I said, “I would under normal circumstances consider this generous and belated offer, but it might create a conflict of interest. Tell you what, if you give it to Australia, I promise to be here as often as I can.” Ban’s obviously disappointed, but agrees to my terms. I have more energy than sixteen gladiators.

7 January 2013: Considering creating everlasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Might have to wait a week, as I’m a bit tired: only have the strength of seven gladiators today. Luckily, they each have the strength or two normal gladiators, so I’m really at fourteen.

11 May 2013: Introduced a resolution to the UN calling for better resolution of Wagnerian operas on international flights. Upscaled HD at the very least. My interminable flight was long, so I translated Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer into Flemish to pass the time. Was going to translate it into Portuguese, but I so loathe the appearance of being a populist.

26 June 2013: Bored. Have read everything in house/world. Decided to switch Prime Ministers. Instructed Julia to step down, told Kevin he could have another turn. Gazed into fireplace, sipped brandy.

30 June 2013: Had a quiet word with Kevin, during which he complained about the true power players who control Australia. He grumbled about Murdoch, Rio Tinto, the banks. Didn’t mention me by name, assume he’s just being polite. I tried to cheer him up by quoting Richard II at him. He looked at me blankly, so I tried Henry V. Still nothing. Did it in Mandarin, then cycled through all of pop culture until I hit upon an episode of Mother and Son he’d once seen. If this general ignorance continues, I’ll have to resort to communicating to people through original, clearly-understandable conversation. Perish the thought! as Thomas Morell penned in Handel’s 1748 oratorio Joshua.

3 July 2013: Considering switching Prime Ministers again. Not sure who to give it to. Would do it myself, but I’m vastly overqualified. Also, if I choose to make Australia a republic, I’d like to be free to be King. Or President. Not sure which it’ll be, still working on the constitution. Wondering if writing it Sumerian was the wisest choice. Only language I could think of that Turnbull wouldn’t be able to read.

13 July 2013: Redrew border between Palestine and Israel. For diplomatic reasons, will run it past both country’s governments before I enforce it.

28 July 2013: Complained about upgrade to first class. Managed to get another upgrade on top of that. Am now pilot.

6 August 2013: Was asked to perform a toast for the new Croatian ambassador to the UN. Had to think on my feet, so quickly performed all the best bits from the Ring Cycle. Five-and-a-half hours later, we toasted and the champagne was warm. Pathetic.

12 August 2013: Henry Kissinger offered to let me have a go on a war simulator he had the Pentagon develop in the 1970s. Very exciting. The computer interface was a bit dated, but I managed to drop bombs on some small villages. Didn’t get to finish my turn though, as some diplomats rushed in with reports of mysterious explosions across Cambodia. I tried not to make a fuss, but have written a strongly-worded letter to Mr Kissinger about Cheney’s go being five minutes longer than mine.

5 September 2013: At G20 in St Petersburg, sitting with Barack Obama, Vladmir Putin, David Cameron, Xi Jinping, Angela Merkel, et al. It is impossible to understate what an impossibly humbling experience it is for them, being here with me.

6 September 2013: Forgot about international date line and tedious election. Midway through my speech on Australia’s steadfast consistency, Labor got voted out and I was suddenly removed as Foreign Minister. In a final act of humiliation, I had to put my phone on speaker and hold it up to the mic so Julie Bishop could finish the speech. I was right in the middle of quoting pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus the Obscure in Ancient Greek, a quote Julie refused to complete, instead ending on some silly ABBA lyrics. I smell Christopher Pyne’s influence.

7 September 2013: Christopher Pyne’s influence turned out to be the smell of steamed whitefish. I use my last favour from Putin to have the chef deported back to Syria. No easy feat as she was born in Moscow.

8 September 2013: On the flight home, wrote a letter of sincere admiration and thanks, outlining what an honour it was to serve alongside the sharpest mind of this or any generation. Left it in my jacket pocket to discover later.

9 April 2014: Was duty-bound to inform my successor about the publication of my memoirs. Ms Bishop informed me that it could damage our relationship with foreign powers. I scoffed at this concept. “More damaging than our secret funding of Indonesian rebel militia? More damaging than when we signed a secret treaty with Russia in order to ‘hedge our bets’? More damaging than when Tony Abbott accidentally punched New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to death, and he and Joe Hockey were forced to animate his corpse during a wacky weekend at the 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting? Ms Bishop, if I’m in any way damaging to Australian national security, then our top secret nuclear missile defence network code isn’t 51-A-999-314-QB.”

Night Terrace


I often lament the lost art of audio plays. My favourite piece of art ever is the original radio series of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and I’ve listened to it more times than I can count. There was something about the way it was put together — a combination of witty dialogue, amazing SF concepts, and sound effects that forced you to imagine vistas that no television of film budget could ever hope to achieve — that made it such addictive listening.

So I was pretty excited when the guys behind the fantastic podcast Splendid Chaps (John Richards, Ben McKenzie, Petra Elliott and David Ashton) asked me to join them in creating an audio science fiction comedy series. The result is Night Terrace, and I’m amazed at how well it’s coming together. It’s one thing to come up with big ideas; it’s another to work with people who have a detailed, achievable road map on how to make those ideas happen.

A project this big requires money, and crowdfunding is the way of the future. And also the present. We are Kickstarting Night Terrace, and the group has come up with a bunch of really enticing rewards. Our donors will not just throwing money into a void; they’ll be getting actual, tangible rewards. And I wouldn’t be pushing this unless I knew it was going to be great.

So head on over to the Kickstarter page to discover what Night Terrace is about, who’s behind it, and help get it off the ground!