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Home International CinemaAustralian Cinema ‘Rogue’ Movie + ‘Arn: The Knight Templar’ Controversy & ‘Body Snatchers’ Remake

‘Rogue’ Movie + ‘Arn: The Knight Templar’ Controversy & ‘Body Snatchers’ Remake

Rogue movie Michael VartanRogue movie: Crocodile horror thriller stars Michael Vartan.

‘Rogue’ movie opens in Darwin: Killer crocodile tale reportedly the most expensive Australian horror movie ever

Rogue, the story of an American travel writer (Michael Vartan) who finds a killer crocodile in Australia’s Northern Territory, has been hailed as the most expensive Australian horror movie ever: A$26 million. Melbourne’s The Age reports that the Greg McLean-directed Rogue premiered in Darwin last night, Aug. 11, “with tourism bosses predicting its killer croc star would attract visitors to the Northern Territory rather than frighten them off.”

The Age explains that when McLean’s debut feature Wolf Creek was released in 2005, “the British media claimed it would do for Australia’s outback what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean. But backpacker visitors to Australia increased by 9 per cent in the year after the film was released.”

‘Rogue’ movie cast

Besides Michael Vartan, Greg McLean’s Rogue movie features Radha Mitchell, Sam Worthington, Celia Ireland, Stephen Curry, John Jarratt, Heather Mitchell, and Mia Wasikowska. Also written by McLean, the film has been nominated in the Best Original Screenplay category for this year’s Australian Writers’ Guild Awards, the Awgies. Update: Rogue also received one AFI Award (Australian Film Institute Award) nomination, for Best Visual Effects.

Now, can you see Rogue‘s killer crocodile in the poster on the right?

Michael Vartan movies

Among the French-born, American-raised Michael Vartan’s movies are Beeban Kidron’s To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995), with Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo; Raja Gosnell’s Never Been Kissed (1999), with Drew Barrymore and David Arquette; John Schlesinger’s The Next Best Thing (2000), with Madonna and Benjamin Bratt; Steven Feder’s It Had to Be You (2000), with Natasha Henstridge; Mark Romanek’s One Hour Photo (2002), with Robin Williams and Connie Nielsen; and Robert Luketic’s Monster-in-Law (2005), with Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez.

Michael Vartan in Rogue movie photo: Roadshow Entertainment.

Arn the Knight Templar series and movies Joakim NätterqvistArn: The Knight Templar with Joakim Nätterqvist.

‘Arn: The Knight Templar’ series and two-part feature face budgetary woes

The Knight Templars are at it again. First, the brouhaha was about heresy (remember that Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code was banned in several countries); now it’s about the more mundane matter of money – or lack thereof. Exit Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou; enter Arn Magnusson, the Swedish Christian Crusader of Arn: the Knight Templar.

Budgeted at more than US$30 million, Arn: the Knight Templar / Arn: Tempelriddaren is reportedly the most expensive movie ever made in Scandinavia. The European mega-production became mired in controversy after Aug. 13, when Swedish public broadcaster SVT announced that it was withdrawing its support from the project, which is currently in the editing phase.

As reported by Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Gunnar Carlsson, SVT’s head of Drama, wrote in an official statement published in the Swedish media: “Unfortunately, SF [Svensk Filmindustri] has not been able to deliver the contents according to the original contract. In addition, the filmed material doesn’t have the quality that we were expecting. Therefore, we are forced to put at end to our collaboration with SF.”

Arn: the Knight Templar‘s financing came from Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, British, and German partners, but Sweden’s Svensk Filmindustri is the film’s chief producer.

‘Arn: The Knight Templar’ international cast

Directed by Danish filmmaker Peter Flinth and adapted for the screen by Hans Gunnarsson, Arn: the Knight Templar is based on bestselling novelist Jan Guillou’s trilogy about the (fictional) mid-12th century Swedish crusader Arn Magnusson (newcomer Joakim Nätterqvist), a monk-to-be who is sent to the Holy Land to fight the Saracens.

Arn: the Knight Templar is supposed to be screened in two parts. Later on, the feature will be reformatted as a mini-series for Swedish television. The film’s international cast includes Stellan Skarsgård, Vincent Perez, Simon Callow, Sofia Helin, Michael Nyqvist, Mirja Turestedt, Morgan Alling, Sven-Bertil Taube, Stellan’s son Gustaf Skarsgård, Nicholas Boulton, Alex Wyndham, and veteran Bibi Andersson (Wild Strawberries, Persona).

TV 4 comes to the rescue

October 2013 update: TV4, owned by The Bonnier Group (which also owns Svensk Filmindustri), came to the rescue of the beleaguered Arn: The Knight Templar. The two-part film had part one released on Christmas Day 2007, and part two, Arn: The Kingdom at Road’s End / Arn: Riket vid vägens slut, in August 2008. In six episodes, the TV mini-series Arn: The Knight Templar was aired on Swedish television in March 2010.

According to figures found on the website The Numbers, Arn: The Knight Templar grossed $14.9 million, while Arn: The Kingdom at Road’s End took in $6.99 million. Note: The Numbers doesn’t specify the source(s) for those figures.

Joakim Nätterqvist Arn: The Knight Templar photo: Svensk Filmindustri.

‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ Remakes

Dennis Lim discusses the many remakes of Don Siegel’s 1956 classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers in the New York Times:

“The fourth version, called The Invasion and opening Friday, appears to adhere to the outline while adding a few bells and whistles. (The film has not yet been screened for the press.) Starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (best known for the 2005 Hitler biopic Downfall), the film would seem to have an abundance of current qualms to exploit, from new pandemics and terror threats to extreme makeovers and genetic engineering.

“Still, it would be quite a feat if the new Invasion musters even a fraction of the original’s ambiguous power. One of the most closely analyzed genre movies of all time, the Siegel version has inspired both conservative and liberal readings. While the film is an unmistakable portrait of individualism under siege, the nature of that threat has been open to interpretation.”

Actually, just about any work can inspire different interpretations – from ideologues of the right, the left, the center, the way out there. I can’t see how Invasion of the Body Snatchers could have been an exception. Even Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves has been read as an ode to a person’s inalienable right to property.

“If anyone truly wants to know what was intended as the inner meaning of Invasion of the Body-Snatchers he should ask the auteur of the novel on which it was based, and neither the director Don Siegel nor the screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring was that man. When Jack Finney, the author of The Body Snatchers [1955], was asked that question, he told us: ‘Oh, I don’t know. I was just trying to entertain people.’” The “us” here are Finney’s son and daughter, Ken and Marguerite, who last year sent the quoted text to the New York Times.

In any case, it’s hardly as if human-looking pods are a thing of the paranoid 1950s (or of our own even more paranoid era). Has there ever been a time when the vast majority of humankind was anything but unthinking, unfeeling, walking, talking pods?

And by the way, I just saw Kevin McCarthy (he of “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next! You’re next!”) in the 2006 release Loving Annabelle. (Shortly, I’ll be posting a review of this intelligent, touching drama.) In the film, McCarthy, 92 or whereabouts but looking about two decades younger, has several good moments as a quirky Catholic priest.

Perhaps the real McCarthy is like the character he played in the 1960 Twilight Zone episode “Long Live Walter Jameson” – the poor guy who, as a result of some twilight-zoneish spook or other, was destined to live on forever.

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