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sagiXsagi

Good ozzie films retrospective review from a greek cinephile

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!!!!!!!!!!THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Over the years I have come to know oz through this forum initially, then from films. Last months I watched several  more ozzie films, and wow they were ALL are amazing. Well I know how to chose films to watch, I have established a system many years ago, so I am sure I have seen some of the best , quality shit,  yet all of them have very good atmosphere that shouts oz, which relates to both competent location shoots and what appears as pretty  realistic casting / acting and fantastic scenography. Or its just me and as I am getting old  and the good on-location cinematography amazes me even if the film is duller or even cliched for most people  - yet ozzie films have a certain power in them, and dull would never be a way I would describe the best of the best of ozzie cinema.  On the contrary. Bold, intense, powerful would be the words I would use. 

 

So you got Rolf De Heer, the more films I see of him the more I am impressed.. Well its a sad reality that no more people know this mans work, the numbers in imdb are devastating, but at least the dude seems to have been widely recognized as a pioneer by the film award circuit and film academia people.  Thats really something in this weird world we live in. 

 

I have seen the following De Heer films, in the order I watched them: Bad Boy Bubby,  Alexadra's project, The king is dead!,  The tracker, 10 canoes. I mean come on!! Easily, he enters my short list of favourite directors that include Cronenberg, Almodovar, Solondz, Aronofski..  Each of these films is from very good to excellent to masterpiece on its own, but the films bare no resemblance with each other, both in content , genre, style, approach... But all of them are unique and original in some way and reveal a great artist that judging by the imdb numbers, is not really appreciated in Australia either.. 

 

As a major horror film fan I have of course seen 'Wolf creek' 1+2, which I found very good, and specially the 2nd part, hillarious in its more dark comedy horror piece.  Also watched the wolf creek series which had also very good cinematograhy but didnt match up to the films IMO . I am sure I have seen several other ozzie thrillers / horror, some of the nature/survival kind, I remember a couple but not the names..  The depiction of life in the outback or the bush , at least in the films I saw, was gripping and very realistic. Good cinematography obviouly plays a role. 

 

Then of course you have Peter Weir, with many famous films - perhaps the most famous ozzie director with both quality and commercial films. I am sure there are interesting films of his I havent seen. But 'Dead poets society' and  'Truman show' are pretty fucking famous. 

 

I could not do a review of australian cinema without mentioning the little known horror/comedy social satire masterpiece "Body Melt", which is one of my earliest encounters with ozzie culture. I love this b-movie, almost a curiocity if you search about the artist/director Philip Brophy. Which makes Body melt make even more sense. 

 

I also saw 'Rabbit proof fence' the other day - again a fine combo of fine on location cinematography and realistic approach to a controversial subject matter. One of several films of the new wave of ozzie cinema that dealt with the dark heart of australias past. 

 

And then you got 'Wake in fright', which I watched yesterday. Wow. This was done from a canadian director, yet some might argue this is the most ozzie film of them all. This is one of the most extraordinary films I have every seen. You wouldnt expect me to say this for a 1971 film. During the years I have seen many if not the majority of the most extraordinary films covering a range of themes , genres and tones, but especially focusing on the extreme, violent, weird, darkly comedic, surrealist. This film is classed as a psychological  thriller, but its actually a pretty straight forward drama. Well yeah its a thriller, or at least it looks as if it is, but even then its not thriller-like in the sense you would expect in a 70s film.  Its more drama than thriller. What makes it excel is again the combination of the excellent scenography and on location cinematogrpahy with the bravery and determination of  the director and actors to take it to the level they took it. 

 

Wake in fright, is exceptional in that it has several interpretations/ readings/levels. In that sense its a multigenre film, a thriller, a drama and a surrealist comedy, all at once. Sure, I must have a warped sense of humour to call this a dark comedy, but this amazing film geniously uses the isolation of the outback and the excellent tailored chacters of the mine town to drive our protagonist out of his comfort zone and along  with him, us the viewers. I dont want to say more for fear of spoiling the amazing experience that this film is for those who havent seen it. I for one think  this is so close to a masterpiece, that given the time it was filmed, it deserves the hype.. Its not unknown, but its not really known. 

 

At the end,  this film is exceptional in that it divides, it provokes, and tells a pretty fucking awesome story while showcasing a piece of australia and mankind not often shown . It is also a film about alcohol. Never again have I seen a story dealing with alcohol overdose so realistically. Everything is amazing on all levels, and for me this film is the hype and maybe 100% times more. Deserves all the hype and then more. Understandably underrated, this is one of the best fucking films I have ever seen. And i have seen many "quality" films. 

 

I want to also mini-review  "The tracker" by Rolf De heer which I mentioned earlier. This one is different and unique in that it had a soundtrack written for the film and each scene,  De heer writting himself the lyrics and a singer of aboriginal descent singing.  Also  De Heer played alot with the narrating mediums in this film.  He uses narration, then he uses the songs to imply characters traits, then he uses the songs to  imply what the characters might be feeling. He also uses painting stills done for the film. Then this musical-approach more or less stops..  and like any Rolf De Heer film , you wouldnt guess where it is going, plot-twist or ending wise.. except if you already know him from Bad Boy Bubby. 

 

Before I end it, it, I know you people might suggest The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith + Walkabout which I havent seen yeah, but they're on my list.. Will definately see them.  Also found 'They're a weird mob'  but the lack of subtitles makes me hesitant.

 

Here I should mention that when I first watched Body Melt, in 2002, from a VHS I bought in Berlin, Germany, a Dutch produced release of the film,  I had a really hard time to understand what the hill-billies were saying in that hillarious scene.  I mean, I got the central point, but hey - subtitles help us who dont speak english as our first. And then again there are so different accents.. There are some scottish films that you cant understand shit without subtitles. 

 

So yeah, thats it, if you want ,  suggest ozzie films for me and non ozzies who are interested in good quality ozzie cinema,  Please, if you propose a film or several, say a few words about each and why we should check it out, without spoilers.

 

Or, okey, just give us your list, mate. 

Edited by sagiXsagi

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Contentious due to being focused on skinheads , but puts the Aus spin on it

 

Stretches the tales a bit, but captures a period uniquely Aus. 

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Snowtown is a good film. Based on a series of murders in south Australia. I won’t say much except that i believe it is worthy of a watch. 
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Thanks all for recommendations, I am watching several ozzie films these days, including some of those you suggested (I watched two hands , f.e.) 

 

Snowtown was suggested some years ago in a thread here about the most disturbing films of all time. I watched it back then. It deserves the hype, so be warned. 

 

keep the (goof film)  recommendations coming !  thanks a lot! 

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I am reading that the film Sunstruck was made in response to the bleaker contemporaries (walkabout, wake in fright) . What's your take on it?? 

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