Colin Eggleston – Long Weekend (1978)

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Now this is want you call a man vs. nature film! And a real merciless one too! This low-budget, under-appreciated (if forgotten) Australian gem is far from your typical excursion into horror with a melodramatic backdrop involving the couples’ martial problems, but the way the insightful story folds out you can’t deny that this isn’t one horrifying exercise when nature finally unleashes its devastating power with such an claustrophobic strangle hold. You might think the idea in this particular sub-genre would be hokey and overall, a campy b-grade animal feature, but here that’s not the case because there’s nothing cheap about the story and thrills, as it goes for some old fashion spookiness and slow grinding suspense, where we are asked to think about the couples’ careless actions towards nature and the environmental message. There’s a little bit more going on in the film’s material and visuals then you might think and it does play on your mind with it’s disorientating atmosphere. Continue reading

John Duigan – The Year My Voice Broke (1987)

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Danny Embling (Noah Taylor) must face the bittersweet aches and sometimes harsh consequences of growing up when his childhood love (Loene Carmen) falls for a troubled older boy (Ben Mendelsohn) and the three whirl amidst the excitement and confusion of their own budding sexuality. Set in 1952, in a small rural town in the Australian outback, this poignant coming-of-age film beautifully captures the exquisite torture of adolescent longing and alienation. Continue reading

Peter Weir – Picnic at Hanging Rock [Director’s Cut] (1975)

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Desire as persistent and intense as the sunshine on a bright summer day is what teases out madness in Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. The objects, or goals, of these desires are disparate, though they all spiral out following the 1900 disappearance of three young women and a teacher from the Appleyard School during a trip to the small titular ridge on St. Valentine’s Day. The vanishing of these women is central to the plot, but Weir’s film is never as fascinated with the reasons for this absence as it is with the characters left in its inexplicable wake. Cliff Green’s script, adapted from Joan Lindsay’s novel of the same name, never goes about teasing what could have happened to these women at Hanging Rock, instead focusing on the wild cupidity that erupts in the surrounding community in reaction to the mystery. Continue reading

Jane Campion – An Exercise in Discipline – Peel (1982)

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Review (Geraldine Bloustien, ‘Jane Campion: memory, motif and music’. Continuum)
Peel explores the dynamics of family relationships and the way patterns of power can be
learnt and repeated. It also says a great deal about our need for daydreams and fantasies.
The film opens with a juxtaposed, almost cacophonous mixture of sounds and visual images –
the noise of the radio being switched from station to station, the flash of cars on the
roadway, the white lines on the road and the thump of what we discover is an orange
being thrown against the front windscreen of the car, like a ball. In contrast to this
nerve-jangling montage, the graphics after the large and forceful title – PEEL – present
us with a diagram connecting the words ‘sister’, ‘brother’ and ‘son’ in a triangle and
we are informed, again through the written text, that the film explores ‘an exercise in
discipline’ and that this is a ‘real story’ of ‘a real family’. In other words, it would
seem at first sight that we are being asked to regard this film as a scientific study, a
documentary exploring anthropological patterns of kinship, perhaps. However, the
contrast between the opening montage of subjective images with the more formal graphics
already alerts us to the tension in the car and that all may not be as it seems. Continue reading

David Bradbury – My Asian Heart (2009)

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Despite today’s cynical and fast world turnaround of images and headlines where traditional photojournalism has become swamped by a torrent of lifestyle reporting and celebrity paparazzi photography, there are some who still care. Classic photojournalism is still alive, though struggling, amongst a new generation of photographers. Philip Blenkinsop is one of them. He documents conflict, war, life and death in all its forms throughout Asia. Continue reading

Lukas Schrank – Nowhere Line: Voices from Manus Island (2015)

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Nowhere Line: Voices from Manus Island is an animated short film, which tells the stories of two men, currently detained in Australia’s notorious Manus Island Offshore Processing Centre. In October 2014, director Lukas Schrank made phone contact with the men who were able to tell their stories from within the compound. Their interviews offer a chilling insight into the reality of life for the 2000 people currently being held in Australia’s offshore detention centres Their stories are the voice of the film, guiding the animation through the backstreets of Jakarta, across the sea and deep into the fenced facility of the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre Continue reading

Ubu films – Ubu Films – Sydney Underground Movies 1965-1970 [Volume 1 & 2]

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UBU Films was a Sydney-based independent film-making co-operative which operated from 1965 to around 1970. Its members produced many of the most important experimental and underground films made in Australia in the Sixties. Ubu was also a pioneer of psychedelic lightshows in Australia, and during the late Sixties the UBU collective was Sydney’s leading lighting provider for dances, discos and other special events.

Formed by Albie Thoms, David Perry, Aggy Read and John Clark at Sydney University in 1965, UBU FILMS was Australia’s first group dedicated to making, exhibiting and distributing experimental films. Although these four are considered the key members, the UBU circle took in many young film-makers who were to become very prominent in later years including Matt Carroll, Peter Weir, Phillip Noyce and Bruce Beresford. Continue reading