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The Dish delivers the way some of Michael Crichton's best novels do : Take a true story and build fiction around it so you can entertain the reader/viewer with technical accuracy and focus on the fictional characters, and the role they play. And boy, does The Dish entertain.
First credit must go to Rob Sitch's absolutely brilliant direction. On one hand it comes as no surprise that part of the old "D-Generation" line-up (Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy) wrote a comedy full of sharp wit in the tradition of the infamous "Late Show" that ran on the ABC (Ch 2) in 1992-1993. Glen's (Tom Long) question "Who's the guy ?", when Al (Patrick Warburton) volunteers his admiration for Neil Armstrong and that he'll be walking on the moon is on a par with the Late Show "It's academic" 1993 sketch where the Santo/Rob/Tom Ivanhoe College team is faced with the challenge : "How much change do you receive from 7 Dollars if you purchase 7 items at 98 Cents each ?" - Rob's answer " What are the items ? " is unforgettable.
That same team performed at its best yet when The Dish's script was written. The Dish is also quite unique as a movie that can be watched over and over again without the need to skip many parts of the story. This could mainly be attributed to the story's characters, and how we are compelled to care about each and every one of them, no matter how insignificant they might seem.
The core of The Dish revolves around Neil Armstrong's first historic steps on the Moon at 12:56 PM, Monday 21 July 1969 AEST. When 600 Million people (1/5th of mankind at that time) tuned in and witnessed the TV pictures from the Eagle Lunar Module, 3 tracking stations were receiving these signals simultaneously. They were CSIRO's Parkes Radio Telescope, Honeysuckle Creek tracking Station near Canberra and NASA's Goldstone station in California. During the first 9 minutes of the broadcast, NASA alternated between these 3 stations. When they switched to the Parkes pictures, they were of such superior quality that NASA remained with them for the rest of the 2 1/2 hour Moonwalk. Of course the audience knows the good outcome to the events, so the writers can fully focus on the fictional part of the story and remind us how human nature can marvel by putting a man on the moon and safely return him home.
The Dish is so refreshing because it doesn't need to resort to adult themes, violence or excessive profanity to flag your attention to the townfolk of Parkes, their involvement in the mission and how they are "over the moon" about it.
The film accurately portrays the spirit of Aussie people in 1969. I found the camerawork simply stunning at times, capturing the beauty of Parkes : the dusty road to the Telescope, the farmer with dog and sheep, the (empty) Fuel station and Parkes' sleepy shops. The wonderful soundtrack attends to the "missing pieces" with songs like "Good morning Star shine" and "Come on". Dramatization is resourcefully completed by Edmund Choi's composition and direction of The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (under Jane Kennedy's guidance).
The Dish succeeds in a non-pretentious and honest way to convey its great emotion and charm to the viewer. Working Dog excelled itself and surely must face great difficulty to surpass this masterpiece. "Frontline" and "The Castle" were very clever indeed, but The Dish is perceived by me as the best Australian Movie ever made, a priceless moment in Aussie Cine history.
Charles "Bud" Tingwell's cameo appearance as the Priest is the icing on the cake. The amount of research to realize the Dish must have been extensive, to adhere for example to the 2.2825 GHz Apollo 11 frequency, the solid minus 90 dBM signals etc. in the script.
It is worthwhile to note that NASA delayed the Parkes pictures by 6 seconds before its worldwide broadcast, in the event of an accident. Australian viewers saw mankind's giant leap 6.3 seconds earlier than the rest of the world !! (A 300 mS delay for the INTELSAT satellite link from Sydney,Australia to Houston,USA was incurred).
I still watch The Dish regularly and the movie, if nothing, conveys greater emotion than it first did. Highly recommended : great acting across the entire cast, almost flawless camerawork, fantastic soundtrack, fast paced yet non-engaging script, witty comedy. A treat for the whole family. 9.5 out of 10 !!!
As with all "true story" movies, I have no idea how much of this is
true - particularly in relation to the crises just before the actual
moonwalk. But frankly, I don't care, because "The Dish" as a movie is a
Being heavily promoted as "from the makers of 'The Castle' " may get a few extra punters in the door - particularly here in Australia where the exploits of the Working Dog team are rightly well known and loved; but those expecting "The Castle 2" will be in for a surprise.
But a pleasant one. This film is much more ambitious, much larger in scope. As is to be expected, the writing here is very sharp - a likeable group of characters are defined very well very quickly, the simple plot flows smoothly, and there is a constant stream of funny (and some downright hilarious) moments. Much of the humour is distinctly Aussie, and much of it arises from the culture clash between the locals and the visiting Americans. Yet despite this, the film does not stoop to the level of "Ocker cliché" which plagues several other Australian films. There is a core of simple humanity here which makes it very engaging. It is for this reason also that I think the film will play very well in other countries.
The cast is also very impressive, from the habitually sound Sam Neill, who projects an immense dignity, and Patrick Warburton as the pressured NASA official sent to oversee the operation, right down to the Mayor's son, reeling off technical details of the spacecraft to his bemused dad. It is a credit to the cast, and to Rob Sitch as a director that I was rarely aware that I was watching a film, I was simply drawn into the experience.
Those, like me, who wanted to be an Astronaut when they were little, and maintained an interest in the space program, will enjoy seeing the famous footage again in a new light. Those looking for a comedy will find many laughs herein. Those curious to understand the nature of being Australian will find some clues. And those just looking for a film to make them feel good could do much much worse. In short, "The Dish" is one of those rare movies which will appeal to pretty much everyone. I can't really think of any serious criticisms, and left the cinema feeling... well, "nice". I have no doubt it will play well in Australia, but I also hope it does well overseas too, in the US and elsewhere. I'd recommend it to everyone I know, and everyone else.
When this one comes out on DVD I'll be getting a copy, and it'll be going straight to the pool room!
At a time when the comedy genre is saturated with the crude, lewd and
unsophisticated toilet humour of the U.S ('See Spot Run', 'The Animal', 'Say
It Isn't So'), it's encouraging to watch a film that really makes you laugh
out loud without wanting to cringe at the same time. Like it's antipodean
predecessor 'Priscilla...', 'The Dish' takes the best aspects of Australian
culture and the Aussie persona and uses them to create the finest comedy of
the year so far. Much of the humour is brutally honest, delivered in the
kind of relaxed, conversational style which has become an Aussie trademark.
Paired with a homegrown cast (headed by a wonderfully understated Sam Neill)
and filmed on location at the satellite receiver station in South Australia,
the film feels refreshingly natural and unconstructed.
This sense of cultural identity gives 'The Dish' a surprising depth for such an uncomplicated film. Rather than resorting to the contrived, exaggerated Australian image of Paul Hogan, it revels in its roots without a hint of self-consciousness or compromise. Such an intense warmth towards its small-town location and everyman characters is shown that it is impossible not to share it, and from that grows a wonderful sense of intimacy. Despite the global importance of Apollo 11's mission, a real sense of the importance of it to the community and the individuals therein is present throughout. An American film may have made this subservient to the moon landings - here, the two are intertwined on an equal footing, and you care equally about each.
And in that lies the secret of why 'The Dish' is such a damn good film. It's not the well-paced, extremely funny and well-delivered script, nor the quality of the acting, nor the great location or period soundtrack. It's because the film has a real sense of soul. It makes you want to care about it and it's characters. In mainstream film, that's a rare achievement indeed. Let's hope the Farrelly brothers are watching...
"The Dish" is a real crowd pleaser, which surpassed my initial expectations.
I guess you could say that it falls into that little genre of world cinema
known as the "regional comedy." Such examples might include "Cinema
Paradiso" or "The Full Monty." It looks, quite lovingly, at the lives of
several characters and their environment, providing subtle humour and a
healthy dose of sentiment as well. What makes this film particularly
interesting is its take on the first moon landing of Neil Armstrong and Buzz
Aldrin in 1969. While usually covered in an American jingoistic mode of
filmmaking, "The Dish" offers a fresh, outside perspective. How did the
world view it? How were Americans viewed? The detached perspective of the
Australians is the source of much humour within the film, culminating in a
few scenes where the responsibility of providing a relay signal from Apollo
11 to Houston is placed fully upon the small band of dish operators in rural
Australia. Perhaps the most profound thing about this film is that it is
largely based on a true story.
With an all-round solid cast, led by Sam Neill and Tom Long.
Once and a while a true surprise comes along. A film that is pleasantly
surprising and enjoyable. Well, that's what "The Dish" is. It never
takes itself too serious and never takes itself too lightly. It is just
It is centered around the true story of the largest satellite dish in the world, found in the middle of a sheep paddock in Australia. The dish, at one time, broadcast the Apollo 11 moon landing to the world, and this is the story of the problems the men who ran the dish went through.
Sam Neill and Patrick Warburton lead the group of four that manage the dish; the characters are all nice and pleasant and likable. No one is unlikable in this film.
Sam Neill is a great actor; I've liked him in films since "Dead Calm," but my real respect for his performances rose after he brought Dr. Allen Grant to life in "Jurassic Park."
Patrick Warburton, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated comedic actors in Hollywood. He always gets throwaway roles ("MIIB," "Big Trouble,"=etc...), but in this film he gets a leading role (sorta) and handles it excellently. He proves he really can act--serious or comedic--in films.
One thing that is so nice about "The Dish" is that it doesn't try to really prove anything extremely memorable. It's not trying to be the next big hit. It sticks to the facts while presenting some great actors and a twist of humor. And because of this, it is, possibly, one of the most pleasant film experiences I've had in recent years. Sometimes it's nice to sit back, relax and just watch a movie.
Most of us who were over 5 years old at the time, remember where they were
when Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. This monumentally emotional
moment for mankind, albeit thoroughly superfluous scientific achievement,
the background for this beautifully constructed film.
The thing that makes this film so special is the fact that there isn't a character that appears on screen that you don't care about, regardless how small the role. That takes true writing and directing talent!
The entire small town of Parks, New South Wales, Australia is all atwitter, because their radio observatory dish has been chosen to be NASA's official link to the Apollo 11 mission in the southern hemisphere. The mayor's wife comments, while serving her joint of lamb, that man being moments away from landing on the moon makes their problems seem mundane... That's the beauty of the film, you care so much about these people; their problems are anything but mundane - you cheer-on the techno-nerd asking the town beauty to go out with him; you ache inside because the head of the observatory lost his wife a year ago and she can't be there to revel in his glory; you love the fact that the out-of-place NASA official is the only one who realizes that all the mayor's rebellious teenage daughter really needs to chill-out is an ounce of respect.
This is the best kind of feel-good film. An absolute jewel that you'll want to watch more than just once.
With "The Dish" & their previous effort "The Castle", the Working Dog crew
show their innate ability to tell a great story.
The direction, cinematography, the music & the acting are all A+ quality, but for mine that is not the strength of "The Dish". The main strength of this film is it's story, a beautifully told, heartwarming story about one of the most memorable moments in history & the role a small town in middle-of-nowhere Australia & its citizens played in this event.
For those who see "The Dish" on DVD, check out the directors commentary with Rob Sitch. In this commentary, Sitch shows himself to be a very thoughtful & intelligent director, which may surprise those who see him as the big mouth from "The Panel"
This film was extremely hard for me to get into, but once I got interested,
I couldn't turn away. The performances were great the story was pleasantly
refreshing. After I had seen the small town Irish comedy WAKING NED DEVINE,
I was in the mood for feel-good comedies. THE DISH was the next best thing.
But, as it turns out, I liked THE DISH far better.
It is a small town comedy set in a rural Australian town during the days preceeding the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, it brought everyone on the Earth together. This film gives an idea as to what it must have been like to see that experience.
The film was a greatly pleasant movie and I was totally delighted to have a film as heartwarming and truly great as this. Sam Neill (JURASSIC PARK) and Patrick Warburton (SCREAM 3, BIG TROUBLE) who I feel are both very good actors take the leading roles of this delightful movie experience. Surely a film that you will want to watch over and over again. I recommend OCTOBER SKY and WAKING NED DEVINE.
THE DISH: 5/5.
"The Dish" tells of a small group of people who operated a giant radio telescope in Parkes, NSW, Australia which captured the weak signals from the Apollo 11 1969 lunar landing and moon walk with its behemoth parabolic reflector. A light hearted and fun romp involving the scientists and the townsfolk, all buoyed by pride over their big dish and involvement with the historical NASA mission, "The Dish" relies heavily on the viewers sense of awe and nostalgia as the "...Giant leap for mankind" is taken. A easy-going and somewhat austere film which manages a subtle and lovely sense of humor and heart, "The Dish" will have broad appeal but should play best with those who remember July 20, 1969. (B)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Parkes, New South Wales, Australia, became famous for its gigantic
satellite dish in the middle of a sheep paddock. This dish was
instrumental for communicating with the men of Apollo 11's mission to
the moon. Neil Armstrong and his colleagues are about to land on the
moon and suddenly the Australian tracking station loses contact with
them. How could the people of the world react if they can't see the men
taking steps on the lunar surface? It's something that the technicians
in Australia will have to deal with to relay the images of man's first
walk on the moon.
"The Dish", directed with folksy charm by Rob Sitch, shows how the people in Parkes, a remote spot, a simple dot in the map, rally for the biggest event in their lives. They are proud of being at the center of such a historical moment. At the same time we are taken behind the scenes to see what is really going on. Cliff Buxton, and his team are dealt a blow when they lose the signal to Apollo 11. Instead of panicking, Buxton decides not to tell Houston about the problem they are experiencing.
Luckily, everything turns out all right.
Sam Neill, makes an impression as Cliff Buxton. Patrick Warburton is equally good playing the NASA representative, Al Burnett. The Australian cast is wonderful in the way they capture the small time atmosphere in their moment where they are at the center of the world's attention.
"The Dish" is an enjoyable comedy.
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