Australia

Fred Schepisi – The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)

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One of the wonders that a good movie can sometimes achieve is to take us entirely outside the framework of the society to which it will eventually be shown. Fred Schepisi’s “The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith,” an Australian film about a half-aborigine who goes on a savage murder spree against whites, is a movie like that. Its story is told entirely in the moral terms of the raw Australian outback of about 1900, and the racial attitudes in the movie are firmly drawn from that period. Read More »

Kieran Darcy-Smith – Wish You Were Here (2012)

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Four friends lose themselves in a carefree South-East Asian holiday. Only three come back. Dave and Alice return home to their young family desperate for answers about Jeremy’s mysterious disappearance. When Alice’s sister Steph returns not long after, a nasty secret is revealed about the night her boyfriend went missing. But it is only the first of many. Who amongst them knows what happened on that fateful night when they were dancing under a full moon in Cambodia? Read More »

Ben Young – Hounds of Love (2016)

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Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted from a suburban street by a disturbed couple. As she observes the dynamic between her captors she quickly realises she must drive a wedge between them if she is to survive. Read More »

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. Read More »

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. Read More »

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. Read More »

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. Read More »