A summer of Australian films

Having been an avid film watcher from birth, once I started uni, I got involved with people who either didn’t like movies, or only liked rubbish movies. I fell into a big black movieless hole and I’ve spent a few years now trying to dig my way out. I find myself in the hypocritical position of proselytising for the Australian film, whilst having seen not nearly enough of them.

So. Geneva, summer, 2018. An education in Australian films. Bring it on.

(The numbers indicate the random order in which I am watching these…..)

#27 Babyteeth –  I was lucky to see this in the Zurich Film Festival on the weekend. The audience loved it. More here.

#26 Three Blind Mice – An astonishing movie, which may be the best Australian movie yet made. Praised overseas. And yet it is almost unknown in Australia where it played for three Friday nights at a cinema in Sydney. More here.

#25 The Castle – The much loved film about being Australian. More here.

#24 Muriel’s Wedding – If I hated it, it was only because I felt I was supposed to love it. More here.

#23 Somersault – Another of those Oz movies that takes new actors and gives them wonderful roles to play. More here.

#22 Mystery Road – Same year as The Great Gatsby….and I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s the more successful outcome. More here.

#21 The Great Gatsby – Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. More here.

#20 Neighbours – Not a movie, but a never-ending saga. Apparently one I should not have snubbed. More here.

#19 Tracks – The perfect way to see the outback. More here.

#18 The Rover – Australia’s simply the perfect place to set this genre. More here.

#17 Ten Thousand – this is where great film makers start…and some of them win and some of them lose. I hope this one is just the beginning. More here.

#16 Candy – Luke Davies’ book, beautifully transported to the screen. More here.

#15 The Slap – A series, not a film, and of course, that makes perfect sense given the structure of the book. Now that I think of it, maybe he wrote it with TV in mind? Anyway, a few comments here.

#14 Bitter and Twisted – What a fabulous effort from a 24 year old with no money. I’ve gone on and on about Weekes and this movie here.

#13 Emerald City – in a word, a bomb. More here.

#12 Two Hands Another movie that nails the feeling of the Cross in that seedy period. Hilarious, unnerving, shouldn’t be missed. More here.

#11 Little Fishes If you’ve been anywhere near the drug scene in Australia, this will ring utterly true for you. More here.

#10 Felony The critics were unsure, but I beg to differ. More here.

#9 Jindabyne Altman did it first. But maybe Ray Lawrence does it better. More here.

# 8 Noise Wonderful movie, Saville nails it in his debut feature film with an assured touch and a great cast. More here.

#7 Snowtown Hard not to think of The Boys. Hard to accept that maybe it does an even better job. Both movies are incredible. More here.

#6 Hercules Returns is wonderfully silly, a perfect Australian comedy of a type. More here.

#5 Kenny. Out-offices The Office. More here.

#4 Spotswood
A charming suburban Australian story starring some of the biggest names in films: Australians Mendelsohn, Crowe and Collette, backed up by Anthony Hopkins who’d just made Silence of the Lambs. Could a movie be a greater contrast? Maybe it was therapy for him. More here.

#3 Bad Boy Bubby
I’ve written a long post about this astonishing movie directed by de Heer and starring Nicholas Hope here. It includes the text of pre-internet interviews with both the director and the star.

#2 Wildside 1997-99
Not a movie, but a TV series set in seamy, seedy inner Sydney. Following the police and a sometimes friendly, sometimes not, crisis centre, it portrays in the most unglamorous way, those whose lives take place in this area. I’m full of admiration, having now watched thirteen (of many) episodes made, for the way they’ve managed never to take a single shot of Sydney that looks anything other than filthy and alienating, an ugly as sin proverbial concrete jungle. It’s really true, it is like this, even though the harbour and the overly rich people who live on it are so close that one can see these two parallel universes actually sharing territory. And since there is coke to be acquired and hookers to hire, there are, then, some grounds for interaction. The acting is splendid, the characters get under your skin. There are so many reasons to see this five star quintessentially Australian show.

Coincidentally, episode 13 is about the relationship of two Indigenous teenagers, they are in trouble, she’s pregnant, it’s all terribly moving and a nice juxtaposition to the very rural Beneath Clouds.

The music is haunting. I’ve finally looked up the composer, Peter Best. He’s an Adelaide boy – why should that not surprise me – and he’s done a lot of amazing work in Australian cinema. So much so that his wiki page doesn’t even need to mention Wildside!

#1 Beneath Clouds 2002
People take the place of actors and their real lives are even sadder than their on screen personas. Damien Pitt died in a car crash in 2009, never having made another movie. Dannielle Hall, despite winning a Best New Talent award at the Berlin Film Festival and receiving other accolades was never offered another script. She became a bookkeeper and was pregnant at age 21 when interviewed in 2005. The moral of the back story? You have to be on the inside. Unless you are Ivan Sen, the director of Beneath Clouds. He has managed to make a career out of being on the outer. But for each Sen, how many Halls and Pitts are there?

It’s a wonderful movie, a perfect slice of rural Australia with a harrowingly sad, but still sweet, story on the top.

You can see this on youtube at the moment. I’m all for buying films, but there doesn’t seem to be a way of buying this, so youtube comes to the rescue, as it sometimes does.