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57 reviews in total 
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Gandhi (1982)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Solid Biopic, 12 October 2010

GANDHI certainly did very well. It seems to have won almost every conceivable award. Ben Kingsley does a remarkable job of inhabiting such an inspiring historical character. You'll find you could return to the film on his performance alone.

The scenes in South Africa are particularly enthralling. GANDHI has a movie of different styles: documentary, luscious travelogue, and old style drama. The parts with the western media seem oddly reminiscent to the equivalent scenes in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.

And yet, this isn't a perfect film. It feels incomplete somehow. Perhaps the divisiveness of the caste-system in bringing about unity could have been presented a bit more forcefully and the expense of the sectarian Hindu/Muslim divide.

Yet perhaps the biggest criticism must concern itself with the simple dramatic setbacks of the film. As Quentin Crisp - "though, very cleverly, the narrative begins with his assassination, we are not continuously drawn forward at an ever-increasing pace throughout the rest of the picture towards this climax. We do not know why he was killed, we were never made aware of what specific danger he was in nor from what quarter disaster would spring."

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
suitable for Sunday matinée TV viewing perhaps, 16 June 2009

Not a particularly imaginative sequel, but perhaps lightning could never strike twice. It was nice to hear the same musical cues. Tommy Tricker isn't as engaging as portrayed in the first film. Polly Mereweather's vocals sound manifestly dubbed, and her Kiwi(?) accent doesn't jell right with her Australian(?) accented brother. Nit picking of course - but the acting is quite wooden. Where's the charm of the original? I suppose the real purpose of this film was to update the original for a new generation of kids rather than a sequel per se, but perhaps six isn't a significant gap (most prescient now in the IT age - Typical Kid: "Stamps?"). At a shorter running time than TOMMY TRICKER, they should perhaps have created a few more sub-plots and some real presence of tension/or race against the clock scenario.

10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Very entertaining, 20 June 2006

This periodic reality series - screening on Network Seven - chronicles the work of Australia's Customs and Quarantine personnel in intercepting suspicious persons or goods entering through Australia's airports.

Filmed largely at Sydney Airport, each show presents a motley crew of suspicious or randomly-selected persons being subjected to an elaborative and thorough screening process. Some are puzzled, others violently indignant: some are well presented, others conspicuously disheveled and inarticulate. We see all kinds of cases: those who have innocently omitted to make certain declarations, those making attempts at mass drug imports, or visitors on 'Tourist Visas' in reality seeking to enter the country for the purposes of work.

Whether BORDER SECURITY contributes to the Australian public's fear of foreigners, or panders to stereotyped views of the typical immigrant, the viewer will have to decide for themselves. The show itself is both entertaining and informative, and portrays those devoted to protecting our borders as being very thorough, and diligently aware of the nefarious tricks incoming passengers play. (The show certainly makes you wonder how much went undetected in the days before narcotic residue machines though!)

Smiley (1956)
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Nice Little Film: lovely afternoon spent, 16 January 2006

I was greatly entranced by this little film.

It chronicles the misadventures of a likable outback boy, Smiley, who has his heart set upon a bike. He undertakes to do chores for various townspeople - the publican, the reverend, and the obliging policeman - to raise money, but is constantly set back (he has to pay for a damaged bike, and broken windows). I must disagree with the other reviewer, however, and say that apart, from Smiley, his mates, and the laconic Chips Raffetry, I did not find the Australian accent pronounced at all. Indeed, the film featured many adults attempting to bring across that pseudo-English accent that characterized the cultural cringe before the New Wave of Australian cinema in the 1970s.

I was surprised that this was a 20th Century Fox co-production, but maybe that accounts for why SMILEY looks like it was made for a generic international children's market - why there is a map of America in the classroom of an outback school, why a laconic Smiley calls 'yabbys' crayfish, and why opium is the choice of smuggled goods in the outback etc It is indeed a simple story, but offers lovely scenery and a generally capturing performance of the title role in particular. It is politically incorrect if not downright patronizing to Aboriginals and seems to push religious devotion somewhat quite constantly (quoting scripture, praying etc), but it is generally a product of its time.

Juggernaut (1974)
12 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
An enjoyable watch, 1 January 2006

It is New Years' Eve and six bombs are found on-board passenger cruiser BRITTANIC, below and above sea level. The anonymous perpetrator demands 500,000 pounds (a suspiciously low sum even in 1974.) Facing choppy seas and 'force 8 winds,' the crew are unable to unload passengers into life-rafts or rescue vessels, and so a team of bomb-disposal experts are flown in.

JUGGERNAUT is a well-paced film and can boast an all-star cast. Richard Harris plays the chief expert as a world-weary drinker who been in the job too long and faced imminent death so many times that he has lost all pretence for morality. David Hemmings has a smaller role as his assistant. A younger - but still grey haired - Anthony Hopkins heads the landside manhunt for the bomber. Ian Holm puts in a lovely performance as the compassionate head of the shipping company, who insists upon paying the ransom, even as the hard-on-terrorists British government threatens to withdraw its generous tax subsidies. Michael Hordern has a cameo, as too does Julian Glover. Rounding off the cast is an understated Roy Kinnear who plays the bumbling cruise director, offering hapless pleasantries to the passengers as well as falling short of a comfort after the bombs presence on board are revealed.

This is a very British film - these is little swearing, no resolute American hero, sandwiches are the meal of choice -offered to the bomb experts and the passengers - who are told relatively early of the threat - take the news with surprising grace, the British upper-lip prevailing over the typical Hollywood hysterier or sentimentality

8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
An engrossing mini-series on the violent labour disputes of 1920s Australia, 21 December 2005

Set in late 1920s Melbourne, WATERFRONT begins with the Waterside Workers' Union refusing to abide by the award-conditions handed down with the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The waterfronts of Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne are effectively shut down. Nationalist Party Prime Minister, Stanley Bruce, authorizes legislation permitting the employment of non-union labour on the wharves and the shipping bosses respond by hiring newly arrived Italian immigrants desperate for work. These 'scabs' face expected bitter resentment by the Union as well as shameful and overt racial intimidation and abuse.

The ruse of 'free labourers' ultimately works in all the capital cities but Melbourne, where the Union executive is strong and determined. Not only are the bosses determined to ride the storm out, but the union comes under increasing hostility from other sections of the community - the strike's consequences extend into neighbouring industries which, starved of raw materials and export passages, are forced to make redundancies. WATERFRONT portrays the eviction, poverty, and racism with deft sensitivity, never retreating into gross caricatures.

While the State Labor Government, with a paper-thin majority, is put in the unenviable position of having to support the unions - its political base - it must find a seemingly illusive solution to a problem that is crippling the state. The Victorian Opposition plans to introduce a motion of no-confidence in the government, and courts the patrician Governor-General, who ultimately dismisses the incumbent government.

Jack Thompson turns in a lovely performance as Max Woodbury, an apolitical, but happy go-lucky minor Union official, who has the leadership thrust upon him after the deaths of circuit-breaker Sam (Syd Barrett) and principled, but naive socialist (Chris Haywood). Greta Scacchi plays the beautiful Anna Chieri, the resourceful daughter of a political professor who has recently escaped from Mussolini's Italy. Her father is killed in a bungled attempt at scaring-off Woodbury, into whose arms she walls when she seeks out her father's murderers.

There are some strong female roles here as wives of the strikers who ultimately come to value 'people over principles.' This is a splendidly photographed piece, with great attention to period authenticity. The entrenched racism the Italians experience is portrayed in a realistic and often brutal way. This is Old Australia where beer is drunken with steak-and-eggs or mixed-grill, everything is closed on Sunday (to the amazement of even continental Catholics!) and the billy-clubs have never been shinier. To its credit, the filmmaker's never imposes a simple solution on the crisis, and while broadly pro-Union, never paint the shipping bosses as irredeemably, rabid, capitalist machine-men.

It is difficult to maintain unquestioned sympathy and respect with the union's position, when many of its members being painted (probably very truthfully) as sexist bigots. WATERFRONT could very easily have been condense into an enjoyable movie, or perhaps even expanded into a full-blown series that expanded into Australian life during the 1920s more generally. At 300 minutes, WATERFRONT might be a little bit too long. The Third Act romance between Thompson and Scacchi seems a hackneyed plot device, although the two perform their parts exceptionally.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Great Potential Unrealized, 27 July 2005

This was quite an inventive and fresh take on Australian television's variety-skit format.

Channel Seven should be proud of the steps it took in the right direction: a very commendable step.

Unfortunately, HAMISH AND ANDY just didn't produce the desired ratings and only lasted a handful of episodes. In any event, the network soon acquired 'DESPERATIVE HOUSEWIVES' as well as 24, so all was well. Together with 'CNNN/The Chaser Decides' and 'Big Bite,' we genuinely had a funny ride of Australian TV-comedy for a few months there.

One hopes that Hamish and Andy - two generally promising talents, together not unlike a more free-flowing Rove McManus - as well as the hysterical Chris Lilley, won't have disappeared for long.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A revisionist reading of one of Australia's more unsavoury bushrangers: A Minor Screen Gem, 24 May 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Once again, Dennis Hopper gives an over-the-top performance as Daniel Morgan, the infamous outlaw of the the 1860s. MAD DOG (as the film was also known) is highly evocative of the colonial era: frontier lands with few townships but individual homesteads, extreme parochialism and an uneasy relationship between free settlers and ex-convicts.

The dirge begins on the NSW Goldfields where our Irish protagonist falls out with his fellow diggers and seeks company with the out-cast Chinese instead. Whilst smoking opium in a Joss House, a group of aggrieved and racist miners beset Morgan and his compatriots; burning the house to the ground. Morgan runs to the bush and becomes a highwayman: eventually being sentenced to the gaols. As the magistrate reveals, severe sentences are necessary to build the colony's roads.

In gaol, Morgan is brutalized and maltreated by both guards and fellow prisoners. Upon his release, he finds himself in old ways and later makes an aboriginal companion. The duo continue to harass (mostly) the squatters and large-lot landowners along the Riverina in New South Wales and Victoria. Morgan is eventually shot and killed by a loose coalition of police officers and privateers.

The authorities generally are portrayed as equally corrupt and invidious as Morgan. The bulk of the police-force, for instance, are recently released prisoners or prison-wardens looking for easy money. The Governor of Victoria (played deliciously by Frank Thring) subscribes to the belief that a mastermind criminal like Morgan must have "the physical attributes of a gorilla" and a "throw-back to primitive man" - forgetting his own monolithic presence and bulging forehead.

Australia is presented as the penal colony it really was: "a melting pot of racial, social, and economic tensions" - and so film is quite a macarabe and episodic one. While evocative of the mood, a far amount of artistic license has been taken in the history. Surprisingly absent from MAD DOG MORGAN are accounts of sadist and barbaric acts committed by Morgan, including the ungentlemenly murder of two policemen shot in the back.

Looking back, MAD DOG MORGAN contains a guest-list of Australian actors which now can be somewhat distracting (Yes, that is Alf Stewart from "HOME AND AWAY" as the Scottish Telegraphist.)

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Often quoted, never boring, poignant and HILARIOUS!, 5 April 2004

THE SIMPSONS is one of the funniest TV shows ever produced. Dismissive of the parameters of the filmed medium, the makers of this cartoon have allowed this series to lampoon modern life (particularly American) through a demonstrated capability to employ nearly all forms of humor: parody, slap-stick, wordplay, vaudeville, puns and given the variety of some plot scenarios, even surrealism.

Some have even gone so far as to say that the Simpsons inform us as much about the human condition as Plato, Aristotle or Kant. Superficially, the show revolves around the high-jinks of a drunken father (Homer), his moralizing house-wife (Marge), their delinquent son (Bart), intellectually inquisitive daughter (Lisa), and perennial silent infant (Maggie). There is a large cast of ensemble characters satirizing just about possibly imaginable sociological form.

The first few years were certainly quite Christian in content with Ten Commandment-type dilemmas posed and resolved usually quite haplessly by the Simpson family. The portrayal of life as a series of binary conventions lasted under make the third or fourth year when the show became openly and hilarious satirical. Here is where the show took off for the brilliance of the Simpsons lies in its openness to attack everyone: ordinary folk (the Simpsons), the two-sides to the well-respected Religious (the Flanders and Lovejoys), the corrupt and scheming politicians and company directors (Quimby, Burns), actors and entertainers (the Schwarzenegger analogue, McBain), and perverse and alarmist Newshound corporations (Kent Brockman) amongst many, many others.

The Simpsons, while not consistently delivering the charm and irreverence of its mid-years, is still a wonderfully delightful show. Some have advanced that the tri-partite of The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy has offered an incisive critique of Western civilization without leaving any stone unturned. Whatever the reality, these and other imitators (even filmed media) owes a considerable debt to the trailblazing Simpsons.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Absurdly politically incorrect, but a gem, 23 December 2003

Bazza doesn't care much for `shirtlifters' or `pie-eaters', `ratbags' or `poofter liberators,' he disdains `ikey-mo style b***ards' and `abos.' This movie belongs within the Ockerish period of the Australian Cinematic Revival and one likes it despite of or possibly because of its genre defying.

The film starts aboard a 'Frog Air' flight to Paris presumably straight after the events of the first movie, 'THE ADVENTURES OF BARRY McKENZIE' (though the last scene of that movie had announcements by the captain suggesting the plane was far into its journey and already over Eastern Europe and the décor decidingly Qantas), where Transylvanian Nationals (one with an improbable German accent) mistake Aunty Edna for Queen Elizabeth II. After a series of mishaps, they finally succeed in kidnapping her and thus later in England Operation 'Gladioli' is developed to rescue her. The movie involves a few music-hall type numbers and much beer guzzling.

The sequel is more or less the same as its predecessor thought the mood seems more cynical and abusing. There are still acute cultural comparisons which cannot help but attract laughs: when shown Parisian landmarks Bazza simply observes `Why don't they knock 'em down and put in some garages, drive-in opera houses and bottle-shops?' Bazza and his piss-pot mates spill Fosters into the Sein, behave most irreverently and consistently deliver culturally-divisive one-line quips, but the charm of the original Bazza (who said `sport' are the end of almost every sentence) seems to have dissipated.

Bazza is a big-L Liberal*, albeit rough-around-the-edges, who is ultimately suspicious of trade-union 'whingers' and student protestor types (his middle name 'MENZIES' after all). He acerbically observes that Australians now have `culture coming out of their arses' and that 'arty-farty' types are getting much favour in his homeland. Bazza represents the fundamental dichotomy of conservative Australian: he prefers `decent church-going people' but despises his brother Kev the `Rev', he revels in seeing strippers and burlesque (as long as the objects are "dagoes" not clean cut Aussie sheilas) but procrastinates committing intimacy, despises government hand-outs but openly takes a free-trip home. Bazza is also the archetypical Australian `pom-basher' who likes to think that there were no convicts on his family's side and that Australia is the best little place in the world, no risk.

For Bazza's arch-nemesis, Humphries has created the most reprehensible character: a Continental Communist Vampire, Count Eric von Plasma (Donald Pleasance in a wonderful and largely forgotten role) who much like General Ripper in Dr. Strangelove is seen by Bazza to be draining the free-world's of its 'vital fluids' (literally). The film features parts by Clive James, Don Spencer and Barry Humphries in four roles. The movie is an improvement, if only technically, over the original but critics of the first won't be enticed back. It has more of a narrative flow than the original which was far more episodic.

The Original Documentary that was included on my DVD copy had beeped out all references to homosexuality in the `Christ and the Orgasm' segment of the movie. I suspect we Australians NEEDED to make and screen these movies if only to erode our prudish and stiff white-collar leanings. Humphries points out that at the time of production Australia still had a de-facto White Australia policy: so the almost cartoon-like characterisation of other races (a group of Indian-Europeans including a snake-charmer and a Turkish carpet salesmen who jump straight into the Unemployment office after being smuggled into England) may psychologically have drawn our unreasonableness to ourselves. For this and other reasons, I was never afraid to laugh at 'HOLDS HIS OWN.

The protagonist of this film yields not the 'bush' romanticism of CROCODILE DUNDEE but a brash two-dimensional Sydneysider with a lot of similes to make and a lot of beer to drink. Criticism is foreshadowed within the movie by a cornered Von Plasma who taunts the Australian Rescue Contingent that they will end up making `B-Grade yokel movies'

* The Liberal Party in Australia is somewhat of a misdominor: it is actually the conservative party. It has been in power in several forms for over 70% of Australia's Federal History.

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