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Return to Eden (1986)
Australia's answer to "Dallas".
Like the US show from which I suspect this was blatantly copied, this was one show where the bad guys where much more interesting, believable, and let's face it, much more fun than the good guys. The main protagonists are all fabulously tanned, wealthy and good looking (Rebecca Gilling, Megan Williams and Peta Topanno were absolutely STUNNING in those days), and bore about as much semblance to reality as JR Ewing did, too. Daniel Abineri was a wonderful villain; Peta mad a good counterfoil to him; and Rebecca - well, she was just overwhelmed by sugar and spice.
Still, in its time it was fun to watch, with devilish plots and counter plots, with inscrutable villains and squeaky clean hero's. If it came on again I would certainly move heaven and earth to watch it; but this time i suspect that I would laugh a heck of a lot louder whilst doing so.
Hell Has Harbour Views (2005)
Do lawyers REALLY only think of sex, booze, sex, long lunches, sex, and cheating?
According to this very funny and very black comedy, that is indeed all that they do. With a cast containing more stars than Sagittarius, this movie seemed destined to succeed, and indeed it does.
I see that sometimes people agonizes over the question "why is a movie funny?" (or not funny). Well, I don't know the answer either, but one thing that seems to contribute here, is that every one of the stellar cast members seems to be enjoying him or herself here. Steve Bisley in particular is the most animated I have ever seen him to be.
Lisa McCune is indeed a very beautiful woman, and this is the first I have seen of her that allows that to come through. Coles commercials and policewoman's uniforms have truly done nothing for her. Freya Stafford always looks great, but she seems to have been given (or chosen!) more opportunities to show herself off.
The storyline is black, black, black. Our hero works in a very high powered law firm, beset by both internal and external problems. All of the clichés about lawyers come into play. He is buffeted by forces way outside his control, and tries to do the "right thing". Often his choices are only between overwhelming evils. It is surely not a spoiler to say that ultimately he finds a truly creative way to succeed.
The takes where he talks directly to the camera, a la Bruce Willis in "Moonlighting", are very well done, and not overdone. And the opulent settings in downtown Sydney add much to the mood of the movie.
The ending left little room for a sequel or a series. Nevertheless, I hope and pray that there will be one.
If you are a lawyer, I suspect that you won't find this too funny, and if you are forced to sit through this, you may well cringe the entire movie. If you are anyone else, I suspect that you, like me, will find this movie to be ROFL funny.
Just because it's foreign and arty doesn't mean it's good!
What an appalling piece of rubbish!!! Who ARE all these people who blubber on about how good this is? Yes, it's "arty"; and yes, it's "foreign", but .... that's not enough. The plot is boring and disjointed, like a reality show but not so slickly made.
The people are intrinsically uninteresting; but as characters they don't have enough depth to feel empathy for them. If they are based on real people then I feel very, very sorry for them.
The violence (and some of it is very violent) seems quite ostentatious and gratuitous. It's like the producer has visions of being Quenton Tarantino. Not that I think very much of him, either.
And oh yes: if I had neighbours like these, I'd move!
Surprisingly good acting and a scary story.
Lorraine is suffering from depression and is given a new anti-depressant, which works OK. But then she "thinks" she's become addicted to it, so she stops, and experiences some terrible side-effects. But are they from the drug, are they from stopping the drug, or are they from her depression? And now she is in a dreadful quandary. To stop taking the drug, or to continue? And what does the drug manufacturer really know of these things? As in so many British shows, this movie seems a lot more "dirty" than what would a Hollywood version. It seems that British TV uniformly would have us believe that life in Britain is much more gross than a similar life elsewhere. Although having said that, the acting was first rate, despite the no-name cast. In fact I thought Christine Tremarco did such a good job that I was unable to manufacture any interest at all for the other characters, sad though most of them were.
I ended up feeling a lot of sympathy for Lorraine's character, as she struggled valiantly and to a large extent hopelessly against forces so much greater than her. The most powerful of these of course was her terrible illness.
I wonder how people who suffer like Lorraine would react to this movie. I suspect that they would strongly relate to her, but would they watch or would they not be able to bear to?
Footballers' Wives (2002)
Tania (of the players) : "They are the studs, we are the slags".
Yes, Tania, that is indeed what we think. And in all honesty could you blame us? American women in soapies generally look like Barbie dolls; but yes, you and your fellow tarts (men AND women) do indeed look, talk and behave like slags. I had the misfortune of sitting through about half an hour of this crap, and didn't have the stomach for any more.
One reviewer here in Sydney commented on the amount of leopardskin in this show; and indeed he is right. But I was more taken by the long plastic fingernails. And then there were the women ...
When I went to school, there was much made of how much "better" British drama was than anything else. Gee, if only those people were sitting next to me now.
What rubbish. I won't sit through any more of this garbage again.
Le petit poucet (2001)
Just because it's French doesn't mean it's good
A totally silly movie that seems to have no idea what is its target audience. It's too violent for a kid's movie, and too stupid to be an adult one. Yes, the painted backdrops are fantastic, but that's about really all that this movie has going for it.
The ogre in his Hannibal Lector mask is an insult to viewers in this high-tech age. The little ogresses are hilarious, and I'm sure that that was unintentional.
I'm trying to watch as many "foreign" (non-Hollywood, I guess) films as I can these days, to try to get some variety of film-making styles. Many are good. This one was not.
The Brush-Off (2004)
"It's an action comedy drama murder mystery (acdmm), Sam"
This, the second of the Murray Whelan acdmms, follows the same successful formula as the first. Murray Whelan is an untidy but lovable guy, who stumbles his way through the world trying to serve his masters and love his son, with mixed success. About half way through the movie my wife made the very perceptive comment that everyone so far was playing an idiot; and in a perverse way, that's what makes the humour, even though we wouldn't normally laugh at an idiot per se.
The plot is about art fraud. Not that that is relevant to anything, other than it allows Bruce Spence to play either a gay or merely very foppish role, which he clearly does with great relish.
This is the sort of movie that experienced actors such as Spence, Steve Bisley, Mick Malloy and John Clarke can play in their sleep, and possibly do. It'll never be considered a classic movie, but then again, there is no expectation that it would be. One of the secrets of Paul Hogan's success was that he didn't flood our TV screens with his show, and this movie is equally coy. It's only the second Murray Whelan this year, and one every six months does indeed seem to be the right amount. This would never form the basis of a weekly comedy show, and wisely, it is apparently not going to become such. Many of the gags are telegraphed well in advance (eg, the characters that Murray meets in the elevator), as in often the case with John Clarke, but that doesn't take away from their punch.
Sam Neill is listed as director, and he did a good job. I would have liked to have seen him in the movie as well. And by the way, the acdmm quote in the Summary above is from the TV station promo when John C and Sam N were discussing what these movies would be.
In summary, a good movie to see and enjoy once, delivering exactly what it promised.
Det forbudte landshold (2003)
Interesting doco, probably "important", but not much of a film..
This short documentary is about what is undoubtedly the worst mix of politics and sport. Tibet wants to play an international soccer match. They find an opponent in the shape of Denmark. Why Denmark? We're not told.
But China doesn't want there to be Tibetan soccer team on the grounds that "Tibet is part of China", and tries to exert political and economical pressure on Denmark by the crudest possible method: threatens exports from Denmark. And the Tibetans live in exile in India, so they have to deal with the Indian government, which is understandably nervous about irritating China.
A fascinating look at the politics, geography, economics and demographics of three countries: Tibet, India and Denmark. And you thought staging a backyard football game was tricky!!!!
The Alice (2004)
Slightly strange comedy / drama set in the Oz outback.
Beautifully filmed in what looks like the real Alice Springs, the use of colour and light is quite exquisite and, in my opinion, the high point of the film. In fact I would go so far as to say that I believe that even Claude Monet would have pursed his lips in approval at some of the takes.
Four groups of individuals are going to meet in Alice Springs. Some are going there for the eclipse, some other reasons, some passing through, some are going home. But all of them are going to interact with each other in a "six degrees of separation" kind of way. And when the eclipse is over, not all of them will live to see the Sun emerge from behind the moon....
Bit of a bizarre movie, this one. Has a bit of a Peter Wier feel to it when, in fact, the production crew seem to be only the Nine Network regulars who are behind "McLeod's Daughters".
The story is slightly improbable, in fact somewhat fantastic in some places. The characters are reasonably believable, only slightly exaggerated. But as an entertaining two house of adventure in the outback, it seems to work fine.
Saints and Soldiers (2003)
Beautifully made piece of rubbish.
Magnificent cinematography, special effects, costumes, attention to detail - everything. The forest scenes are truly beautiful. The snow and cold are magnificently done. The acting, such as it is, is OK. All is comparable, if not even perhaps better, than even "Private Ryan".
Everything is perfect. Until to you come to the storyline, which somehow seems more important, don't you think? A tragic return to the "We are all good guys, they are all bad guys" mentality.
I'd hoped that this sort of mentality had died in the 1960s, with things like the dreadful "Combat". Regrettably, it seems that it hasn't. Even John Wayne in "Longest Day" had more credibility than this.