Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bruce Beresford

I know who Bruce Beresford is. I saw his name just the other day, I think while researching David Williamson.

Beresford directed the Barry McKenzie movies. He directed Don's Party, Breaker Morant, and Driving Miss Daisy. And he also directed a lot of other stuff that I'll be learning about today.

I'll start with my beloved Lord Wiki, and then move onto my beloved IMDb.

Baby Bruce was born in Sydney on 16 August 1940. He grew up in Toongabbie. That place will probably have a special place in my memory for now on. A few weeks ago, Matt named some places in Sydney. Toongabbie was one of them, and I said I had never heard of it before. That annoyed me a bit because it sort of seemed like an important place. A few days later, I started rereading The Fatal Shore. I found Toongabbie was mentioned. That's not weird at all. What's weird is I had (the first time I read the book) circled the name. I have no idea why. I circled nothing else in the book. I did underline a bunch of stuff, but that was facts...information. I have no idea why I had circled Toongabbie.

Anyway, I just thought that was interesting.

Back to Beresford. He attended a boys school in Parramatta called The King's School. I think Parramatta is near Toongabbie. I'm looking at Google Maps. Yeah. Toongabbie is tiny bit west of Parramatta.

Lord Wiki doesn't have much to say about Beresford.

Let's see....He went to the University of Sydney.

In his early twenties, Beresford tried to get work in the UK, but that didn't work out. There were union issues. He went to Nigeria for two years to do an editing job.

If I'm reading this right, he's been married three times. He has a daughter with his first wife named Trilby Beresford. She's done some acting, and other film work.

Beresford is good friends with Barry Humphries. I wonder if this friendship happened before or during the Barry McKenzie project.

Well, I'm going to move on to IMDb now. I'm going to skip over the short film things he did here and there. I'll start with the first full-length project he worked on. That was The Adventures of Barry McKenzie in 1972. He co-wrote it, directed it, and also briefly acted in it. He appeared as Man in Pub. The trivia page says that Beresford is the man in the pub who gets McKenzie to try a local drop.

Here's a trailer for the movie.

Two years after the first Barry McKenzie movie, there was a sequel. This was called Barry McKenzie Holds His Own. Again, Beresford directed, co-wrote, and appeared in the movie. This time, however, he was also one of the producers. Well, actually Beresford didn't appear in the movie. He was heard. He provided the voice for a character named Four Eyes Fenton.

Here's the trailer for the film.

In 1975, Beresford co-wrote and directed another film featuring Barry Humphries. This was called Side by Side. I can't find much about it, so for now, we'll just move along.

In 1976, Beresford directed the movie I talked about a few days ago. Don's Party. Beresford won an AFI award for that.

In 1978, he directed a movie called The Getting of Wisdom. The title sounds very familar to me. I'm wondering if I've encountered it before. Maggie Kirpatrick is in it. Maybe I saw it when I wrote about her. It's based on an Australian novel by Henry Handel Richardson...who was really Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson. Lord Wiki says it's about a girl who is sent to a boarding school where most of the girls are wealthier than her. It's about her struggle to deal with the boarding school life. It actually sounds really good to me. I'll have to look out for it.

Here's a scene from the movie. It involves young teens telling gruesome childbirth stories. I thought I might be jumping to conclusions a bit, but I sensed some lesbian overtones in the scene. It's just the way Laura keeps looking at that other woman. But the Australian Screen website agrees with me. They say the lesbian stuff was hinted at in the novel, but in the movie it's a bit more obvious. It's kind of the opposite of Fried Green Tomatoes. From what I remember, the lesbian bit was in the book, but much less so in the movie.

In 1978, Beresford did a crime thriller called Money Makers. It was based on a novel by a guy named Devon Minchin. Bud Tingwell was in it. I wrote about him several months ago. The trivia page says that Devon Minchin was a security industry guru. His novel was based on real robberies that had occurred.

Here's the trailer. I'm not at all a fan of heist films. The only one I liked was Jumper, but that's because it had cool supernatural stuff. It really wasn't a heist film, but it did have some bank robbery stuff in it.

Yikes. That trailer is a bit gross...painful. I don't like things about hurt toes. I keep hurting my own damn toes.

In 1980, Beresford did Breaker Morant. I think this was his big break. Well, that's kind of a pun, I suppose. Bud Tingwell was in this film as well. I had THOUGHT Mel Gibson was in it, but it turns out I was wrong. Oops.

Oh! On the trivia page, there's a really awesome and eerie story. It's a spoiler for the film though, so I probably shouldn't share it. Just go to the page, if you're interested.

Lord Wiki says the movie is about three army officers who are on trial for murder. He also says it's considered to be an anti-war film.

I'm watching the end because I don't mind doing so. I watch movies out of order all the time.

I hope I'm not horrible in saying it involves capital punishment. Well, I figure those of you who care about the movie have probably already seen it anyway. Anyway, I just finished reading Tim Flannery's The Birth of Sydney. Like most books about Australia history, it talks about hangings and torture. There's some dark stuff there. It makes me glad to know that Australia is one of the countries in the world that has done away with capital punishment. According to Nationmaster, they ended all that in 1985. The UK ended theirs in 1998. Those two countries have definitely changed for the better.

Breaker Morant was nominated for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. It lost to Ordinary People.

It did win several AFI awards, including best director for Beresford, and best picture.

In 1981, Beresford directed Puberty Blues. I've heard of that. I still need to read the book. While I'm here, let me check to see if they have it at Powells....

No, not really. They have an audio version. I'm not really into that, and especially not when it costs over fifty dollars.

Puberty Blues is a teen surf type thing. Lord Wiki says it's about two thirteen-year-old girls who try to join a surfing gang. Well, in the book they're just thirteen. They changed their ages for the movie, made them sixteen. Lord Wiki says that was done because of fears of censorship. I can understand that.

Here's the trailer.

I can't believe my little nieces are going to be teenage girls someday. Scary, but a little exciting....I suppose. It's crazy to think that by the end of THIS decade, Jack will be almost FINISHED with his teenage years. He'll be eighteen!

In 1983, Beresford made an American movie. This was Tender Mercies. It was about an alcoholic country singer played by Robert Duvall.

It was filmed in Texas...about an hour south-east of us.

Beresford was nominated for an Oscar for best directing. He lost to James Brooks for Terms of Endearment.

Here's a short trailer. It's so corny.

Here's a scene from the movie. The southern accents are cute. The little boy in the film ended up becoming an anti-gun control Christian musician.

In 1985, Beresford made King David, starring Richard Gere. I guess it was a religious type thing. Lord Wiki says the film had many Biblical inaccuracies. Well, the Bible itself is full of inaccuracies, so who are they to talk!

In 1986, Beresford did an Australian movie about an Aboriginal family. The Fringe Dwellers. It sounds familar. I wonder if I've written about it before.

Beresford wrote the screenplay with one of his wives.

Ernie Dingo was in it. I probably came across the movie when I wrote about him.

The movie won a best screenplay award from AFI. Lord Wiki says though that the movie had more international success than Australian success.

Beresford also did an American movie in 1986. This was Crimes of the Heart with Diane Keaton, Sissy Spacek, and Jessica Lange. Tess Harper was in it as well. She was one of the stars of Tender Mercies. I suppose Beresford enjoyed working with her. This movie was filmed in North Carolina. I had a dream about North Carolina a few nights ago, and I also dreamed about a college friend who was from there. I have no idea why. It was pretty random. In the dream, my whole family was thinking about moving there.

The movie Crimes of the Heart is based on a play written by Beth Henley. Lord Wiki says the play won a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award.

The movie version was nominated for a Golden Globe, but it lost to Hannah and Her Sisters. I've seen that. I think I liked it. Both movies seem to be great showcases for female talent.

Beresford reunited again with Tess Harper for Her Alibi. This also starred Tom Selleck. It was a romantic crime comedy. It's about a writer of bad novels who decides to be an alibi for a woman accused of murder.

Here's a scene from the movie. It's a little bit funny. I chuckled. That's a big bug!

1989 was also the year that Beresford made Driving Miss Daisy. From what I remember, that won an Oscar for best picture. The movie stars Jessica Tandy as an elderly Jewish woman. The movie is about her relationship with her African-American chauffeur. He's played by Morgan Freeman.

The movie is based on a play by Alfred Uhry. It deals with issues of getting old; and it deals with racism.

Lord Wiki says it was one of those films in which the movie won best picture, but the director didn't even receive a nomination. In other words, Beresford was totally snubbed. It's also the last movie to win an Oscar for best picture that was rated PG. I guess all later winners were rated R.

The movie was filmed in Georgia. I lived there. Actually, I lived there during the time the movie was made. I don't remember any of it. I mean I remember the movie, but I don't remember hearing that it was being filmed there.

Here's the trailer. I like Morgan Freeman. Wow. Some of that trailer made me cry a little bit. It looks like a really good movie. The part that got to me was at 1:13. I have no idea why.

I'm done with the 1980's movies. I'm going to take a break and come back for the 1990's and 2000's. From what I can see though, it looks like the 80's was Beresford's big decade. I don't see anything that recognizable from the 1990's. But that might be due to my own ignorance.

All right. I'm back. That ended up being a very short break.

In 1990, Beresford directed Mr. Johnson. It's about Nigeria. I think many people right now (including myself) can't think of Nigeria without thinking about people who are willing to blow up their private parts.

Pierce Bronsan is in that movie. I might be the only person in the world who doesn't mind that guy's singing.

The movie is about a black man who feels torn between two cultures....British and Native-African. It sounds a bit like Bennelong. The movie is based on a novel written by an Irish guy.

In 1991, Beresford did Black Robe. I thought I knew of that, but I think I was thinking of The Name of the Rose. They're both stories about priests, I think. Although I guess I probably HAVE heard of Black Robe. Otherwise, how would I know it had something in common with The Name of the Rose?

The movie is based on a novel by Brian Moore. It's about French Priests doing mission work in what was known to be New France. Lord Wiki says this was the area of North America colonized by the French.

The trivia page says the film was filmed in sequence. That's interesting. On this message board, people list other movies filmed in sequence. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but they name Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone and Dead Poet's Society. I expect doing it this way makes the story feel more real to the actors.

The trivia page also saws there were accusations of racism coming from Native Americans. Apparently, the movie contains some vivid torture scenes. The author of the book, the movie is based on, says he did extensive research on the subject, and the torture was actually toned DOWN for the movie and book. Interesting.

Beresford was nominated for an AFI award. He lost to Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom.

He did win a Genie Award. I'm not sure I've heard of that before. Oh. Okay. It's a Canadian thing.

Here's a trailer for the movie.

In 1993, Beresford made Rich in Love. That sounds kind of familar to me. It's based on a novel by Josephine Humphreys. Maybe I read it? Who knows. I've read a lot of stuff. I can't always remember what I've read and what I haven't read. The movie itself doesn't look familar to me. Ethan Hawke and Albert Finney are in it.

Here's a scene from the movie. Kyle MacLachlan is in it too.

In 1994, Beresford did a comedy called A Good Man in Africa. I don't remember that movie either. John Lithgow and Sean Connery were in it; also the black man from Mr. Robinson.

Lord Wiki says it's a comedy with some serious overtones. It's about a diplomat who is sent to a corrupt country in west Africa.

Also in 1994, Beresford made Silent Fall. It's a crime drama about an Autistic child who witnesses a crime. Oh! He sees his parents being murdered. That's not good. This movie, like A Good Man in Africa, featured John Lithgow. I like him. He was funny in Third Rock From the Sun.

Richard Dreyfuss plays a therapist who tries to get information from the child. Speaking of therapists, I learned something very disturbing the other day. I was looking up Mel Levine because I wanted to write something about him on my homeschooling blog. I remember liking his views of Aspergers and Autism.. Anyway, I googled him and learned he has been accused of child molestation! Apparently, he acted inappropriately when doing medical exams on children. Many families have come forward, so I'm doubting it's a false accusation.

It's shocking and sad. I don't know if any of you know of his work. He wrote a book called A Mind at a Time. From what I remember, it's about how children all learn differently, and how our schools need to respect that.

I still think he has good ideas, but I'd rather not get such ideas from someone who abuses children. The situation REALLY confirms my belief that parents need to be careful with who works with their children. Even parenting/education gurus can be child-molesters! My feeling is do not trust ANY adult who is insistent that they be alone with your child...teachers, tutors, doctors, dentists, psychologists, ministers, etc.

Anyway, back to the movie. Lord Wiki says the therapist in the movie is controversial. The child's sister becomes suspicious of him, and learns he has some dark stuff in his past. It's not molestation though.

I'm really not big on the whole therapy thing. I know it works for some people. And that's fine. It seems though that every time I have a problem, someone suggests I see a therapist. I did almost get Jack a therapist when he his fear of wasps was so severe he didn't want to go outside. We ended up skipping it, and he overcame it on his own. I don't know how many times people suggested that Tim and I got marital therapy. We never did. Our marriage is great right now. I almost went to see a therapist in 2008 because I was not a happy camper. I never did. I'm fine now. I also overcame an eating disorder without the help of a therapist.

I'm not trying to brag....well, maybe a little. I just think people can usually overcome stuff without the need of professional outside help. I think often it's simply a matter of finding a friend who's willing to listen to you cry and moan. It also helps to remember that human life has its ups and downs.

Psychologists and psychiatrists do not offer any magical solution. They're just human. And sometimes....well, the scary thing is...sometimes, they're BAD humans.

I'd love to think that all therapists are like Dr. Paul Weston, but some of them are more like Hannibal Lector.

Back to the wasp thing though....When we were at a homeschooling conference (which is full of all kinds of alternative people) we decided to try this acupressure thing called EFT. This woman did these weird tapping things, and it was supposed to relieve Jack of his fear. I think that's about the time his fear ended. I'm not sure if I'm a believer in such therapies. It could have been a coincidence. But I try to keep an open-mind. Anyway, this therapy was quick and free. Plus, there's DIY info on the Internet. I tried it a few times. I can't say I remember getting any miraculous results. Maybe one day I'll try it again.

Here's the trailer for Silent Fall. It looks pretty good.

In 1996, Beresford did a movie with Sharon Stone. This was Last Dance. It's sounds fairly good. It's about a young lawyer who is defending a woman on death row. The two of them become friends. I like the premise, at least. Lord Wiki says the crime was done when she was a teen on drugs. The lawyer tries to present the case that she's a changed woman.

I guess this movie sort of goes along with Breaker with the subject of capital punishment.

In 1997, Beresford did a World War II movie called Paradise Road. Cate Blanchett was in it. It's about women in a Japanese prison camp. They use music to help overcome their adversity.

The trivia page says it's based on a true story.

In 1999, Beresford made a movie about Sydney! It was called Sydney: A Story of a City. Lord Wiki has some information about it. It was an IMAX movie, later released on DVD. It sounds like it might be like the NYC movie, Across the Sea of Time.

Also, in 1999, Beresford made Double Jeopardy. I think I saw parts of that. It's with Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones.

Here's the trailer. Hey! That's Liz from Nip/Tuck! Personally, the movie doesn't look all that interesting to me. The premise is a man frames his wife for his murder. He's not really dead though. While in prison, the framed Ashley Judd gets advice from Nip/Tuck Liz. She says there's this legal thing called double jeopardy. You can't be put on trial for the same crime twice. So Ashley Judd should go and now kill her husband for real. I think that's a bit ridiculous. I understand wanting to fight the husband...get his deception to be revealed. But why kill him? Then you'd just be sinking to his level of evil. Anyway, Lord Wiki says that Alan Dershowotiz says it's all bullshit. Double jeopardy pertains to the exact SAME crime. The faked murder of the husband and the REAL murder of the same man would equal two different crimes.

In 2001, Beresford made Bride of the Wind. Jonathan Pryce was in that. He was the scary guy from Something Wicked this Way Comes. Bride of the Wind is a biographical romantic music type movie.

Here's the trailer. It looks romantic, but a little confusing.

In 2002, Beresford made another movie with Pierce Bronsan. This was Evelyn. I don't think I've ever heard of it. It sounds like a sad story. A man's wife walks out on him and his children. He struggles financially. The courts remove the children from his home. They're sent to an orphanage where they do not live happy lives.

It's based on a true story. I think there's many true stories out there of parents who had their children taken from the government. It's DISGUSTING...and even more disgusting with the irony that children who DESPERATELY need to be taken from their families remain there.

Here's the trailer. It's sad, but very uplifting.

In 2003, Beresford made an American TV movie called And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself. It's about a Mexican revolutionary (played by Antonio Banderas). who invites movie producers to help him finance his war...AND make movies about him. Is it a true story? It kind of sounds like a comedy. IMDb says it's a drama. And from what I see on the trivia page, it seems to be true. Wow.

Here's the trailer. It looks at least a little funny.

In 2006, Beresford made a thriller about a cult. I'd probably like that. I like cult stuff. The movie was called Orpheus, and it was a TV movie. I don't see much out there about it. Does it sound familar to anyone?

Also in 2006, Beresford teamed up with Morgan Freeman again for The Contract. It's a crime thriller, also starring John Cusack. A man tries to bring an assassin to justice. It sounds like something Tim and my dad would like. I wonder if either of them has seen it.

Oh! The trivia page says Beresford wrote an autobiography. In the book, he talks about the movie, and basically says it was a pain in the ass to make. The producers ended up shutting down the film, and Beresford had to use his own money to complete it.

Here's the trailer. Interesting. It looks like the bad and good guy bond. Maybe. I like those complex relationships.

Beresford's last released film was about China. Mao's Last Dancer. It's based on a true story. A child is taken from a Chinese village and put into the world of ballet. He ends up in Texas and falls in love.

Here's the trailer.

The dancing is impressive.

Beresford has some upcoming projects. I'm not going to go over much of them...except for those that look interesting. I might come across information in interviews, or whatever. I might mention these future projects then.

I will mention that he's going to be directing A Woman of No Importance. It's based on an Oscar Wilde play. That's interesting to me, because Amanda Seyfried is going to be in it. I love her in Mamma Mia.

I'm going to take a break, then come back, and look at other stuff.

Okay. I'm back. I did some math with Jack, and then the Wii fit. That was fun.

Beresford has his own website. The guy has three agents. One in Los Angeles, one in Sydney, and one in London. Is that typical to have multiple agents like that?

This page lists some operas he's done. I guess he directed them.

He has some writing on his site. Here's his view of American opera.

He says American opera has been overshadowed by American musicals.

He also says that the amount of talent in American opera can be credited to the the Russian Tsar and the pogroms. Russian Jews were forced to flee to America. I guess some of them had musical talent.

Beresford tries to define the difference between a musical and opera. He says a musical has spoken dialogue. An opera does not. I don't think it necessarily has to have opera-type voices.

I think the stuff made by Tim Rice and Andrew Loyd Weber would count as opera....Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor. Although since those guys are British, their stuff wouldn't count as American opera.

I'm not too interested in this, so I'm kind of skimming. I want to see if I know of any American operas he mentions. He says Dead Man Walking counts.

In this piece, Beresford compares directing for film and stage.

He says some stage directors show snobbery towards film directors. They think film directing is more about technical stuff, and has little to do with working with actors. Stage depends more on the performance by the actor. Filmmakers can use lighting, camera angles, and other fun stuff to manipulate the audience.

This all gives me insight into questions I've had about filmmaking. I've never understood fully what role the director has. That's sad because I did a semester of filmmaking. Beresford talks about a director who lets the cameraman decide on the angles. Beresford disagrees with this approach. He says, This is like owning a Ferrari but never learning to drive. The angle chosen, the size of the lens, even the aperture setting are all tools a director must command, must thoroughly understand, to be able to direct his actors effectively.

The problem is, if he controls all this, will the cinematographer have any fun? Is Beresford a control freak? I did volunteer work at our synagogue with a guy like this. I signed up to be on a committee for Tot Shabbat. It was a program for parents and young children. I imagined we would all share ideas and work together. Well, the guy in charge pretty much wanted to do everything, or at least decide everything. We were more like his puppets. I can't work with someone like that.

I'm not saying Beresford is definitely a control freak. But from what I'm reading here, he seems to want to make most of the decisions. Although I haven't seen any accounts yet of people disliking him. He's probably decent.

I like Beresford here. He's brave enough to criticize classic literature. I guess there were plans to make a movie based on a William Faulkner book. He didn't like the script, so he decided to read the novel. He says, I assure them I know how venerated Faulkner is, I know he won the Nobel prize for literature but I still think his prose is tortured and find this story padded with irrelevancies. Yeah. I find some prose to be torture. I can relate to that. I'm sure many people find MY prose to be torture. Hopefully, they just stop reading. I'd hate to think I'm making anyone suffer....EXCEPT my family. I think they should read at least a LITTLE of my stuff. Hell, I do stuff for them that's not my first choice of activity. What Tim and my dad do is skim through and read the personal stuff. I thought that was funny because I'm pretty sure some people read the blog for the Aussie content. I'm guessing they skim past all my personal stuff. I should probably just label the paragraphs for people so they know what to skip.

There's a good airline story here. Beresford says he saw a deal for flights. 40 pounds. I'm not sure what that would be in dollars.

This converter site said it's around $64....American. I'll be nice and check Australian too. In Australia, it would be close to $70.

Anyway, there were hidden fees. Oh, well it kind of sounds like it was Beresford's fault...well, his mistake. He was supposed to print out his own boarding passes at home. He didn't. The airport charged him forty dollars to do that. But I'm sure there were other hidden fees as well.

He says when they did the security scan, they found Vegemite in his bag. The security people thought it might be dangerous. I kind of agree!!!

Beresford speaks out against Cuba. He says people, that he knows, praise it for their free medical service. He says, I find it difficult to endorse a system with one political party, gaoled opposition leaders and dissidents, no freedom of travel for its citizens, persecution of homosexuals, internet restricted to those approved by the party, no free trade unions and a censored press. He wonders if people be willing to take all that in return for free medical care?

I wouldn't. I want both. I'm very greedy that way.

In this piece, Beresford trashes The Dark Knight. I have to admit...I'm with him on that one. Heath Ledger was great, and I'm not just saying that because he's dead. He was a good actor. But I didn't like the movie. It was too dark and depressing for me. I like the more cheerful super hero Spiderman. And I like the Batman with Michael Keaton.

He complains again about hidden costs. And he complains about his GPS system. This guy kind of reminds me of Tim.

Beresford is disturbed by the news of a newspaper shutting down it's paper version. They're going to only have an online version. I prefer reading my news online. I find newspapers to be annoying. They're so big when you unfold them. Oh. I don't know. We all have our own personal taste. My parents still get a traditional newspaper. I sometimes read it at their house. And sometimes I'll read the free newspapers when provided by a hotel.

Here's something fascinating. Beresford talks about how actors have so much influence on movies. He says there's about a dozen of them who are very eagerly sought after by producers. If these actors are not in a movie, it's very hard for a movie to get financed. That's creepy. It makes sense to me, but I'd imagine there's more than twelve. Maybe Beresford is exaggerating. If not, who are the twelve actors?

No, no. It has to be more than twelve.

I like to read Beresford's stuff. It's interesting, although a little harsh sometimes. He seems like a bit of a grump. But I think that's just his style of writing.

His movies seem decent. Maybe one day he can make my Maconochie movie. I think he'd do a good job with it. I mean not that it's REALLY my movie. I didn't write a screenplay for it, or anything. I think the story would work better with him rather than Weir or Luhrmann. That's the only Australian filmmakers I can think of off the top of my head. Well, there's that guy who did Muriel's Wedding. I forgot his name. But no. I think Beresford would be better for the job.

NOW....who could we get to star in it? I'd definitely have some of the vampires in True Blood. They're awesome. Johnny Depp would do well as Maconochie...or maybe Hugh Jackman. We definitely need some Australians. Ah! Guy Pearce. He'd work well.

The other movie I want is one about Bennelong point. It would be one of those movies where the movie switches back and forth between two stories. One would be about Bennelong, and the other would be about Jorn Utzon. The problem is I wanted it to end with Utzon finally coming to see his creation. He's dead so that can't happen. The guy has ruined my movie. I have no idea how else to end it. Oh! I could pull a Charlie Kaufman and put myself in the story. It could end with Tim, Jack, and I wandering around the Opera House mourning over our first lost camera.

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