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A very warm and lovely film set in the beautiful countryside of New South Wales, Australia. Sometimes a film has such a simple message to convey that it doesn't need a multi-million dollar budget to get it across. This is the attraction of Spider And Rose - the Australians have such a knack at making films that are honest and ordinary but the result is spectacular in its simplicity. Two people from different worlds come together and touch each others lives - the message is clear, the result uplifting and you'll be glad you invested the time to watch. Maybe there's a bit of Rose in all of us - for me, I hope I find out before it's too late! PS - if this film doesn't give you the desire to hit the road one day - watch it again!
Whenever I hear the name Ruth Cracknell, I always remember her silly antics
as Maggie Beare' in the famous Australian TV comedy Mother and Son'. So I
looked forward to watching Cracknell at work in Spider and Rose'. While
this film might not be the greatest film that Australia has ever produced,
it has an enigma' that made me want to watch more and more. If you are an
aussie looking to have a good laugh one night, than you have to watch this
classic comedy about putting up with youthful enthusiasm' and/or old
Spider and Rose is a road-trip' movie about the attitudes and experiences of two very different people who find themselves in many situations beyond their control. Rose Dougherty is crotchety old woman who is going back home to Coonabarabran, to celebrate her birthday. To get there she has to ride with resentful ambulance driver, Brad 'Spider' McCall. It is Spider's last day as an ambo, and he is in a hurry to get Rose home, so he can get back and have his farewell party of a lifetime'. Along the way the two get to know and respect each other and have an adventure neither could have expected.
What a genius of an actress Ruth Cracknell was. I know that she could do justice to so many roles, but when it came to comedy she was the best in the business. In Spider and Rose, Cracknell plays a silly old woman who is at the crossroads of life. I felt that her character partly embraced that of Maggie Beare', a character that many Australians loved. This role also called for Ruth to be open to many different experiences, with some even surprising a movie-goer like me. Then there is the special chemistry that Cracknell shares with acting new-comer, Simon Bossell. He played the smart ass Spider' beautifully. The relationship that Bossell and Cracknell share within the script of Spider and Rose' is a highlight of the movie for me. Bossell has also appeared in the Aussie movie Better than Sex'.
Other stars in Spider and Rose' include Max Cullen, who is the sly but kind Bee Keeper Jack. Cullen is another known actor in Australia, with his other acting roles being such as the new Aussie movie The nugget' and Kiss or Kill'. Cullen and Cracknell also shared a quite unique chemistry onscreen in this movie. Another character that took me by surprise is that of Robert (Lewis Fitz-Gerald). I feel the name of his character to be a little too coincidental to that of the son in Mother and Son', as Maggie has child that is named Robbie'. The character in this movie is like his TV counterpart, in that he does not want any of the responsibility in looking after his own flesh and blood'. There is one other character I enjoyed immensely, that of the Semi-Trailer driver (Bruce Venables). While he only had a very small part, it made me laugh a lot.
The director and writer of Spider and Rose' was Bill Bennett. Bill wrote a most entertaining of scripts, with the one liners' and sarcastic comments being a highlight for mine. I also like how he wrote the characters of Spider and Rose, as how they treat each other being an important ingredient as to how we feel about them. Bill also used some interesting camera shots in this movie. Many of the driving shots are complete 360 degree shots, which I believe are saying that this is a ride which is out of control. There are many unique shots of the signs to Coonabarabran, which shows the audience that this is a terribly long trip that Spider and Rose have to go on. Bennett striked it lucky' in 2002, when he did the Australian movie, The nugget', a film which I looked forward to seeing.
So in closing this is a movie I enjoyed a lot, with its funny characters and humorous script. It has also taught me how difficult it must be when someone grows old. Rose's comments to spider `what do you do, when your mind wants to dance, but your body wants to die?' He replies `Dance Rose!'. What I feel this movie is trying to say about old age, is that it should not be a hindrance, but something to be looked up to and celebrated. As of this year my Grandfather is heading into his 90's, and to say that it has been a struggle for our family as to know what to do with him is an understatement, but I am glad we have continued to see him regularly. The young members of every family need to cherish the times with their elders, because when they are gone they will miss them for alongtime to come.
CMRS gives Spider and Rose': 4 (Very Good Film)
I think being an Australian would be a lot harder if it weren't for people like Ruth Cracknell. & it is interesting how much of her iconic work dealt with people who aren't spoken of much in polite society - the old. (see *Mother and Son*) This movie is another charming example, & it makes me crack up each time I see it. Sure, the 'street lingo' is out of date and the references to other bits of nineties culture won't stick to people who weren't there, but that is no reason for it to be kept out of the way like so many other Australian films. Because it IS very funny, and strange enough for some, the young still relate to the old these days.
"Spider and Rose" dates from 1994, the last year in which the Australian
film industry was in anything approaching good health (or in which it
as though it might have been in something approaching good health). Watch
now and you will immediately sense what's been missing in subsequent
productions. For all its weaknesses "Spider and Rose" is, at least, a real
movie. It LOOKS like a real movie. Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie has
off a miracle in making rural Australian landscapes look good on film,
without making them look false; ironically, seven years later, he would
later pull of the even greater miracle of making New Zealand landscapes
bad (AND false, in "The Fellowship of the Rings"). Bennett directs with
brisk-but-not-too-brisk confidence, without allowing the pointless camera
gimmicks he's sometimes unable to resist spoil everything, as he would do
three years later with "Kiss or Kill". (Okay, the rapid 180-degree
we get when Spider first meets Rose DOES ruin that scene completely, but
that's just the one scene; perhaps it would have died anyway.)
There are other weaknesses (not once but twice do we get that old chestnut in which someone vehemently declares that he will never, ever, under any circumstances, do X, just before we cut to him doing X; I have now seen this done in movies 683 times, usually with the same sloppiness and pointlessness with which it's done here); but in the end, what makes the movie worthwhile, what makes it satisfying, is that it manages to be continually surprising without once being arbitrary. The "wacky" things that happen to the characters are all justified. Stranger still: Bennett keeps undermining his characters with one-liners (Spider especially; less so Rose; still less so Jack, who seems to CONSIST of one-liners), yet they end up feeling perfectly real.
This film is a gem. Not much of a gem - the common kind of chalcedony, perhaps - but enough of a gem to be worth taking some trouble to find.
Zapping away late at night, I catched that movie just as it was
I was intrigued by the nightmare-like shot of the woman besides the dead man on the side of the street. That was certainly the purpose of said shot, and in a way, the whole movie is trying to avoid us from loosing interest... which isn't a good sign, generally.
Funnily enough, there are still just about enough qualities that made me stick to it.
As was very well described in a previous comment, the film has a good cinematography, and you realize how poorly filmed about 80% of what you see when you turn on TV is...
Then, the story manages to stay touching, and full of surprises, again well stated in that other comment.
I almost wished someone had helped the director to lift his film above the thin line he was very close to be crossing. It's so hard to combine comedy, grotesque, horror, and whatever else he tried to put in that movie (I'm typing this while it's running, I left the TV on... just to tell that I was more curious to know what I had found than to really watch all the way...).
SO: it's not a success, but, to me, it came just at the right time to show me that a failure by people who where SOMEHOW inspired and had a certain know-how in making movies can be a relief - after watching TV for hours. Reminding one that TV mostly just PRETENDS to show you nice pictures. But when you see REAL cinematography, REAL story-telling with pictures, you snap out of your mind-nap. You look up, and you start using your mind again.
Just one humble testimony... obviously not aiming for any objectivity.
If you like movies a lot... if certain movies have played an important part in your life... then maybe you shouldn't miss this one!
...It's ending as I finish, I glanced from time to time. It gets better and better as it goes. Better than I expected.
I love this movie. I must have seen it three times already and tonight when I watched it again, it impressed me all over again. Yes, I agree with what has been said before about Ruth Cracknell, she was unmatched, and I have not seen a lot of her work. But the thing about Australian films that always draws me in is the crispness and sparkle that is missing in other countries' offerings. I don't know what it is - maybe the diminished ozone layer? Anyway to me, this is a joy, a feast of one liners, a corny story with an unusual ending - I thought it would end differently - some great panoramic filming and great characters. What more is there? OK, it's not Shakespeare, Pinter or Mike Leigh, but it is entertainment and for me, it's timeless.
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