January 26, 2007
Happy Australia Day! - Part II
So, today is January 26, which means it's Australia Day down here the Great Southern Land (lol), which in turn means it's a public holiday. Alas, I have to work later but I'm getting super excellent pay so it's alright, and after that I have a BBQ to attend, so it shall be fun. To celebrate I shall be doing multiple posts about Australia (cause, we're awesome). The first is already posted below this, and for Part II I thought I'd look forward to some of the films that will be hitting my shores in the next year. Whether they make it anywhere else outside of the film festivals of the world I can't predict for ya. Considering how good 2006 was for Australian film was, 2007 actually looks like it could be even better. See, 2004 was just the calm before the storm. 2004 is, infamously I reckon, the single worst year for Australian films since the New Wave of the '70s. But 2005 was an improvement and 2005 was pretty great (there should be two Aussie films in my top 10, which is good news compared to one last year)
As you'll be able to notice, directors can have it tough in Australia. While there are some like Rolf de Heer who crank out films often, there are some who have to wait many many years in order to be able to make one, even if their previous one was a success. That's just the nature of our industry.
8 - A film that is actually a whole bunch of short films (like Coffee and Cigarettes I presume). It's not Australian, but one of the segments is. The Water Diary is by Jane Campion and features Justine Clarke, Chris Haywood, Russell Dykstra and Genevieve Lemon. Not really sure what any of it's about though.
$9.99 - This sounds ambitious! Animator Tatia Rosenthal is expanding into feature films with this film about the residents of a Sydney apartment complex trying to find meaning in their lives. It is done in the stop motion form of animation and features the voices (I assume) of Joel Edgerton, Claudia Karvan, Barry Otto, Ben Mendelsohn, Leeanna Walsman, Tom Budge and Sam Johnson. Crazy.
Bastard Boys - Actually a TV movie, but Australians take their TV movies seriously because they have a better chance of being seen this way than in cinemas. This one follows the 1997 Docklands riot saga. The ads look like it could be very good. It stars Anthony Hayes and Colin Friels.
Burke & Wills - Not a film about the Australian adventurers, but a small independent black and white drama about the strange new bond formed between two housemates. Sounds... intriguing.
Clubland - THIS I'm excited for. Director Cherie Nowlan's last cinematic feature was 10 years ago with the pre-fame Cate Blanchett film Thank God He Met Lizzie. She has since been making lots of popular and well-regarded TV Movies such as Marking Time, Small Claims and directing some of The Secret Life of Us. Clubland is set in the world of RSL clubs and the people who populate them. Or something like that. It stars Brenda Blethyn as, I think, a stand up comedienne as well as well-known Rebecca Gibney, Russell Dykstra and Frankie J Holdon. It's a coming-of-age tale apparently, something Australia does a lot, and I think this time it's around young actress Emma Booth. Clubland was just purchased at Sundance for $5mil (the highest amount) to Warner Independent.
Crocodile Dreaming - A short directed by Darlene Johnson that stars father and son duo David and Jamie Gulpilil.
December Boys - Ron Hardy's film of Michael Noonan's novel, this is the first film to star Daniel Radcliffe since Harry Potter. It also stars Teresa Palmer, Christian Byers and Victoria Hill (all of whom have impressed me immensely this past year). It also has Suzie Wilks which I find quite hilarious.
Disgrace - The newest film from director Steve Jacobs (his last film was 2001's La Spagnola) sounds like it could be a doozy. It stars only John Malkovich at this stage (even though he embarassed himself last year), but it's set in South Africa during Apartheid (a popular subject lately). It sounds ambitious, which I like. Will probably move to 2008.
Dr Plonk - Rolf de Heer continues to crank out the films (2006's Ten Canoes, 2004's The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, 2003's Alexandra's Project, 2002's The Tracker) and he takes another step towards becoming the most fascinating auteur out there. After the all-indiginous language Ten Canoes, Dr Plonk follows a scientist in 1907 who predicts the world will end in 101 years if something isn't done. It is done in the tradition of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton - and that includes being black and white and silent. How about THAT?! Crazy. Could be fascinating, but will probably have to wait until 2008 to see it.
Gone - A UK and Australian co-production for which there are already posters for in cinemas! Wow. It's getting advertising. CRAZY. The story follows two British travellers in the Australian outback (no, this isn't another Joanne Lees tale) who get involved with a mysterious American. Hmm. Interestingly, it's co-directed by John Landis and co-written by Cate Blanchett's husband Andrew Upton. What an odd combination. Although this IMDb forum entry explains a lot.
Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger - Debut film by Cathy Randall, and boy has she got a coup! This tale of a 13-year-old girl's attempts to fit into the posh new private school has landed the acting talents of none other than Toni Collette! Add to that fellow Oscar-nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes, Essie Davis, Christian Byers (who charmed me to no end in Opal Dream) and Russell Dykstra, this could be a big hit with audiences and critics alike.
Home Song Stories - I was a fan of writer/director Tony Ayres' first feature, the 2002 film Walking on Water (more for the performances by Maria Theodorakis and Vince Colosimo than anything else), and so this one piques my interest. It stars Joan Chen (yeah, Joan Chen!) as a woman who falls for an illegal immigrant. It's apparently based partly on the real life of the director. Should be interesting.
The Jammed - Directorial debut for Dee McLachlan revolves around human traffiking in Australia. It's an ensemble thriller and features most notably Emma Lung (I'm so glad she's "on the cusp" as they say, just waiting for that one role. Love her), Saskia Burmeister and Andrew Gilbert. This one has immediately piqued my interest. Australia does these sort of multi-thread films quite well (of course, when movies like Lantana come out people actually say they're copying Magnolia and they do it with a straight face. Unbelievable.)
The Joanne Lees Story - A TV movie about the night Joanne Lees and her boyfriend Peter Falconio got pulled over by a mysterious man and subsequently put into hell. The man (Bradley John Murdoch) has since been trialed and sent to jail for murdering Falconio and depriving Joanne Lees of her liberty (we have silly names for that stuff). This tale was used has part of the inspiration behind 2005's Wolf Creek. It stars Joanne Froggatt as the British Lees and features Bryan Brown as someone called "Rex Wild". No cast members have been identified as playing Peter Falconio or Bradley Murdoch, which is strange. Read more about Joanne Lees here.
The King - Another TV movie, this one is a biopic about what many consider the greatest television personality and comedian to ever come out of Australia, Graham Kennedy. It stars Stephen Curry as "The King" himself and, hilariously, Temptation quiz show winner Stephen Hall as Bert Newton. They do look scarily like their personas, so that's a good thing. Also in the cast for this Foxtel movie are Steve Bisley, Garry McDonald, Shaun Micallef, Angus Sampson (who will also be apart of Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are also in 2007), Beau Brady, Cathy Godbold and Jane Allsop. Australia doesn't really produce many biopics, and I've never known why. I mean, clearly they're a profitable genre and people would go see them. This being a tv movie (and a cable one at that) is going to be extremely underviewed, but I suppose we'll manage.
The Long Road to Heaven - Okay, this isn't an Australian film. It's actually (I believe) an Indonesian film, but it's about a day that many Australians feel strongly about. Reported for all of about 5 seconds elsewhere, on October 12 2002 at around 11pm on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, two explosions detonated threw two popular nightclubs. Over 200 people died, nearly 100 of which were young Australians (comparatively to population, that's nearly as bad as the deathtoll from 9/11). This film tells the story of the bombers and the people at the clubs. There was always talk about an Australian film being made about it, but it appears that this one will be the first.
Noise - Small feature getting quite a bit of attention at this early stage as it's screened at Sundance and is from the distributors of Kenny hoping they can find another runaway hit. "The American audience seemed to take a while adapting to the deep Australian brogue, and a little while longer to get inside the bone dry humour, but the second half felt warm and connected to the foyer was full of people in puffy jackets exclaiming the power of the film," Noise director Matthew Saville.
The Plex - A comedy about a young cinema worker who gets unjustly fired and decides to get revenge on his former boss. The only name I recognise amongst the cast is Steve Bastoni.
Razzle Dazzle: A Journey Into Dance - I think this is a musical comedy in the same vein as Strictly Ballroom, but not entirely sure. It's set in the world of competitive dance (i think) and is a mockumentary (i think). I do know it features Kerry Armstrong, Tara Morice, Nadine Garner, Paul Mercurio, Roy Billing, Steve Le Marquand and even Barry Crocker! Could be fun.
Rogue - The follow up to Greg McLean's very successful Wolf Creek, Rogue is much less of the "torture porn" variety, and more of a standard thriller, but still with enough horror elements to keep us happy. It revolves around an American journalist (Michael Vartan) travelling through the Australian north with a group of others (including Radha Mitchell, Sam Worthington, Heather Mitchell (ASHKA!!!!!!!), Steve Curry, Mia Wasikowska and, "Mick Taylor" himself, John Jarratt. Really looking forward to this, so let's hope the Weinstein's don't fuck us over with this.
Romulus, My Father - The directorial debut of well-known Aussie actor Richard Roxburgh (The Duke in Moulin Rouge!) stars Eric Bana and Franka Potente (Yeah, that's got you interested hasn't it?!) as a couple in the country and the unbreakable bond that forms between father and son. Sounds treacly, but I trust the talent involved. Could be one of the year's best!
September - A racial drama set in 1968 about two 15-year-old boys, one white, one black. Features Tara Morice and Mia Wasikowska in supporting roles. Not much else known though.
Storm Warning - Another horror title, this time Urban Legend director Jamie Blanks has returned to Australia. This film has a rich couple getting stranded in a swamp with a bunch of nasty nutters. It's "from the makers of Wolf Creek" and seems like it could be a small effective horror title.
Ten Empty - Anthony Hayes moves from acting (he won the AFI Best Supporting Actor prize two years in a row for Look Both Ways and Suburban Mayhem) to directing (he's directed two short films prior) with this film about a family reunion between a young man and his family. Stars Jack Thompson, Tom Budge, Brendan Cowell and others. We'll see how Hayes goes behind the camera.
Unfinished Sky - William McInnes stars as an outback farmer who allows a young Afghani brothel-escapee (Monic Hendrickx) to stay with him. Also features David Field and Roy Billing. This is the latest film from Peter Duncan, who had previously made Passion, Hell Has Harbour Views (what a great title btw), A Little Bit of Soul and the downright bonkers Children of the Revolution. This sounds like it could be really great.
West - Two cousins fall in love... omglol. No, they do, but not with each other. Stars Nathan Phillips, Khan Chittenden, David Field and Anthony Hayes.
That's all that I can be bothered finding on IMDb. And considering a lot of these will probably be pushed to 2008 it was probably pointless to do that. Oh well, have a good day you Australians. Eat some lamb, apparently.
Everyone else out there, go watch an Australian film of some variety. We've made some good ones in the last one hundred years. You know it. Why not Look Both Ways which is full of life and love despite being about death and mortality. Or take a look back through the wild days of the '90s when the hot streak was Strictly Ballroom, Prescilla, The Piano, Muriel's Wedding and Shine (along with many others, but those were the one's that cause US eyes). Or go back further to stuff like Picnic at Hanging Rock, Storm Boy, Mad Max or The Last Wave. There's plenty out there, and I'm sure y'all have a personal fave. Go watch it. We rock.