Posts Tagged ‘Australian cinema’

Mad Max: Fury Road

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

tn_furyroadSPOILER WARNING. I mean, I can’t stop you from reading this, but I’m not being careful about spoilers because for crying out loud see this movie IMMEDIATELY. Quit your job if necessary.

Usually if you’re still watching a movie for the first time, it’s kinda premature to start thinking “this is a masterpiece.” Not so with MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. It’s part 4 in an old series, but it truly feels like an entirely new type of movie. It is thrilling, explosive, inventive action at its most pure and relentless, yet it manages to weave a moving and powerful story around and within and through the hundreds of spectacular stunts. As he has in each successive MAD MAX movie, director George Miller re-invents his post-poxyclipstic world with even more ornate detail and flair than before, unfolding a fantasy world as teeming with weird characters and happenings as the whole HOBBIT trilogy without ever dumping a bunch of exposition on us. He explains what we need to know economically, mostly visually, and leaves the rest for us to daydream about.

This is a movie that will transform people’s brains. It just might be the most elaborate action movie ever made, both in the complexity of the stunt sequences and in the meticulous design of the people and things in it. Now the cars aren’t just cool and beat up, they’re built from unlikely combinations of multiple vehicles piled on top of each other, covered in spikes, flame throwers, animal skulls and creepy doll heads, with weapons hidden inside and out and half naked goons climbing all over them firing guns and throwing spears and bombs. Steering wheels are removable, heavily decorated and carry some sort of religious significance. One character pulls his off and holds it aloft during a chase to show that he’s ready to die. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mad Max

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

tn_madmaxMAD MAX is a unique specimen even compared to the other MAD MAX movies. Every time I revisit it if it’s been several years I think Oh yeah, I forgot it was like this. Max Rockatansky – who has a last name, you notice – is not a nameless drifter or a mythical hero yet, he’s maybe a supercop at best. At worst he’s just a dude. He can laugh and go on picnics and has a wife and kid. He does wear a cool leather jacket and sunglasses, but this seems to be the police uniform in this near future. The other patrolmen wear it too, they just don’t look as good in it.

It is not post-apocalyptic (or post-poxy-clipsic?). I guess we could say it’s antebellum. The sign is crooked at the Halls of Justice and the highways are dominated by giggling, sweaty, gibberish-ranting lunatics like The Nightrider (Vince Gil, the Australian actor, not the American country singer) and The Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne, also in FURY ROAD). They’re like DEATH WISH creeps on wheels, hateful, punkish bullies who live to scare and violate random innocents on or along the roads.

The other police can’t keep up with the cop-killing Nightrider. It’s Max, sitting patiently on the side of the road ahead, who comes in for the close. Since the Rider and his girlfriend end up in a fatal, explosive crash, the Toecutter blames Max and comes after him for revenge. So, if you thought Nightrider was a real charmer and wondered who else he was close with, Toecutter is the answer. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Babadook

Friday, April 17th, 2015

tn_babadookBABADOOK, BABADOOK, BABADOOK. Man, that’s all anybody talks about ever since this movie played the A, B or C Film Festival last year. At first I just ignored it, ’cause I thought it was some Howard Stern thing. But when I found out it was an Australian horror movie I knew that aligned with my interests.

It’s immediately captivating. It has a stylish look, kinetic editing and interesting faces on its two primary characters, the lonely widow Amelia (Essie Davis, who of course played Maggie in both MATRIX sequels [okay honestly I don’t remember who that character is]) and her weird little son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who’s about 7 years-old but is introduced testing powerful catapults and dart guns and talking about bashing a monster’s head in with a rock.

There’s some Sam Raimi-esque flourishes here and there, and it’s easy to picture a cutesy horror comedy where the kid goes Ash, saves Mom from a monster with home-made weapons and traps, furrows his brow and says some one-liner, charming the socks off the midnight film festival crowds and twentysomething writers for movie websights. And I would’ve been okay with that if it was done well, but I like that writer/director Jennifer Kent (you know, “Lab Lady” from BABE: PIG IN THE CITY) chose a less obvious path. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Rover

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

tn_roverYou know what I realized? I don’t love minimalism. I don’t hate it either, and I think it’s funny to watch normal people get upset and confused by one of these slow, quiet, ambiguous takes on what usually would be genre material. It’s not for everybody. But some of these things are real artful, and when they’re really rolling the relative lack of movie artifice helps get a potent atmosphere and tone and feel going like nothing else. But to be honest at the end when they wrap up they don’t usually feel like a full experience to me. They’re not usually my favorites, or things I’d want to watch again. But as far as they go, THE ROVER is a real good one.

I don’t mean to diminish it. I liked it and I’m pretty sure some of you will love it. I just thought it would be better to start on that thought than to end on it. And also I want to warn you not to watch this late at night after work like I did. It is fair for filmatists to expect full day time awakeness levels from their viewers, and writer/director David Michod here has earned it ’cause he’s the guy that did ANIMAL KINGDOM. (A co-story credit goes to Joel Edgerton, although he’s not in the movie as an actor.)

(read the rest of this shit…)

Wolf Creek 2

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

tn_wolfcreek2Man, I waited so long for WOLF CREEK 2 that I gave up on it happening like three different times. Back in 2005 director Greg Mclean said “You call that a debut? This is a debut!” with his deeply Australian outback slasher. It was kinda controversial at the time. I remember a Seattle Times critic walked out. Ebert was really offended by it. All my buddies except the two I saw it with said it sucked. It was labelled a new low in “torture porn” by non-horror fans who still review every new horror movie or worse, “nu-horror” by horror fans who hate most new horror movies. But I thought it was really well done, masterful tension and outstanding (sometimes darkly humorous) villain performance by John Jarrat (DARK AGE), very effective use of wide open nature as a source of terror, plus a little bit of precious George Miller blood pumping through the veins of the chase scenes. One over-explanatory scene and an abrupt ending couldn’t kill it for me.

Mclean’s followup was ROGUE, a really good giant croc movie somewhat buried in the U.S. when it came straight to video from Dimension Extreme. But then financing problems, the death of a close collaborator and who knows what else kept slowing down the return to the giant crater where a guy stalks people. So I’m happy to report that even with all that anticipation this is a very good sequel. It’s a smart escalation, more action packed, faster paced, cleverly structured. The only big repeated error is another “That’s it, huh?” ending. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dead in 3 Days (plus bonus mini-review: Lost Things)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

DEAD IN 3 DAYS is Austrian young people horror from 2006. The box art for the American release of it from Dimension Extreme makes a big deal about how a group of teens all get the same text message saying they’ll be dead in 3 days, so I thought maybe it was gonna be influenced by the Japanese phone related pictures such as THE RING and ONE MISSED CALL. Instead it’s a very solid whodunit slasher with alot of subtle distinctness in the ways it handles material that seems generic on the surface.

I don’t know if this is on purpose, but the basic themes are set up in a meta kind of way in the opening, because of the way it resembles the opening of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The hands of an unseen man are building something sinister in a dark basement… but no, it turns out he’s not making a bladed glove or anything. He’s hanging himself.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Dangerous Game

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Here’s another one that doesn’t really fit the slasher definition I was looking for, but it’s such a better version of kind of the same premise as HIDE AND GO SHRIEK that I welcome it. This one is Australian, the directical debut of Stephen Hopkins, whose second and third films were A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD and PREDATOR 2.

A group of Australian teens – handsome guy with convertible, girlfriend, new wave nerd, girl named Ziggy he has a crush on – plan to hang out after school. But first they have a conflict with Officer Murphy (Steven Grives), a local cop who has it out for the kid with the car. He hates him so much he shifts his car into neutral and rolls it into a no parking zone just to give him a ticket.
(read the rest of this shit…)

The Loved Ones

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

tn_lovedonesTHE LOVED ONES is a 2009 Australian horror picture about five teenagers on the night of the End of School Dance. Brent (Xavier Samuel) is a broody long-haired dude haunted by a recent personal tragedy. He goes for a walk before the dance and disappears, his mom and girlfriend figure something bad happened to him and try to find him. Only we know that a local psycho (John Brumpton) hit him over the head and brought him home for his daughter Lola (Robin McLeavy), who had asked Brent to the dance and been turned down.

This is yet another twist on the TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE setup: once again a victim (this time male) wakes up to find himself a forced participant in a demented parody of a traditional family dinner. Instead of force-feeding him human meat they give him what you could reasonably assume was roadkill of some kind. In this one there’s a prom theme, so he’s been put into a tux and there’s a disco ball. (read the rest of this shit…)

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
tn_crocdundee3
chapter 1

2001posterreleased April 20th, 2001

This is gonna surprise the shit out of you when I tell you this, but CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES is what they call a fish-out-of-water comedy. The fish is Crocodile Dundee, the water is Australia, the place outside of the water is Los Angeles. Actually Dundee might be more of an amphibian, he’s somewhat familiar with L.A. and is able to show his son and his pal around and teach them some things about the urban American way of life. But also he’s from the outback or whatever so he has lots of misunderstandings that lead to clotheslining people or stabbing things like they do constantly in Australia.
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Red Hill

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

tn_redhill“Alice, have you seen my gun? I thought I packed it with the photos.”

That’s the first line in RED HILL. It describes kind of a random, odd occurrence, but it also tells us alot. Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten) is a cop, he’s just moved, his gun is as important to him as his family memories– or he thought it was, but then he misplaced it. Now he’s looking for it because shit, he has to get to his first day of work here in the small town of Red Hill and he’s gonna look like an idiot if he shows up with no gun.

(read the rest of this shit…)