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Red Dog (2011)
A True Aussie Classic
A beautiful film shot in one of Australia's most iconic locations that reconstructs a true tale of an Australian larrikan in the manner that these stories are meant to be told, serious, but with a nudge & a wink. It was refreshing that the Director (Kriv Stenders) & the human actors never tried to upstage the true star of the movie Red Dog (Koko), letting him become the focus of the story.
It is important that Australian cinema continues to look at the 1,000's of little stories that make us what we are, the stories of towns & people that are often overlooked in our desire to be recognized overseas. Movies like Red Dog are a window to our soul.
Also, an Australian film without the painful slow pace & without the obligatory close up shot of something totally unrelated to the movie ... refreshing!
The 4400 (2004)
What A Load Of Rubbish
I only managed to watch the first 30mins of the first episode of this drivel, before I turned it off. Yes, I know I stand to be accused of not letting the characters & the plot-lines build, but come on people, I've seen Guthy-Renker infomericials with better narratives than this tosh.
In the 30mins that I managed to watch, they managed to cram nearly every sappy cliché' ever written into the storyline. It almost seemed that the writers were having a cliché' competition, after spending a bonding weekend at a Hollywood cliché' convention!!! If you've seen any of the 5 seasons of 24, or the 3 seasons of Lost, the characters are all there, just rehashed & regurgitated back onto our screens as 'must see' TV.
BLAH!!!! At least the wonderful Jacqueline McKenzie has been able to keep bread on her table by participating in this drivel & has been able to do some serious acting on the side (Opal Dream & Peaches) with the money she has made here.
If you are craving for decent sci-fi TV, the current series of Dr Who is miles ahead to this rubbish!
Battle of the Bulge (1965)
Time marches on
It is so hard to review this movie sitting here in 2006, 41yrs after the initial release.
Why? When 'Battle Of The Bulge' was released it was only 21 yrs after the actual event, so what amazes me me is why the Warner Bros. tried to dress this movie up as an historical re-creation? The location, the equipment & the actual events of the campaign were, & still are, held up for ridicule. Can you imagine the outcry if Britain treated the Fauklands campaign with the same disdain or if American cinematographers set The Gulf War (versions 1 & 2) in Canada & told their audience 'oh this is what Iraq looks like!' There would be righteous indignation & it would be laughed out of the cinema's.
And why, to date this movie is still considered a 'war classic'? What was the mind-set of theatre patrons in the 60's? This movie is total rubbish, if you enjoy crap & want to waste 167 minutes of your life go ahead & enjoy. Me, I'll stick to Cross Of Iron, The Longest Day or Downfall.
The F.J. Holden (1977)
It Ain't No American Graffiti
If people are looking for a 'road movie' in the slick US style of American Graffiti, The FJ Holden will not be your cup of tea. For all intents & purposes The FJ Holden is a road movie, however this time it is set in the late 70's in Bankstown, NSW. Bankstown at the time was basically a working class suburb,with the majority of the population coming from public housing estates. It would be of no surprise then that the kids from such an area, were basically poor, both in material goods & education. Young teenage men only had limited social outlets, their cars & their girlfriends & this is the films focus. There is no great outpouring of verbal dialogue in the film, for if it did, the whole movie, as a period piece, would have looked contrived. Take the movie for what it is, a general view of suburban life as seen by a young man struggling to come to grips with his first faltering steps to manhood. It's not pretty, but as a cinematic history of life in the the 70's, it is unrivalled. Michael Thornhill is to be congratulated in his attempts to capture a snapshot of Australian youth in the suburbs.
Pay It Forward (2000)
Easy Paced Tear Jerker
Having read the cover of the DVD before I purchased it, I was knew I was in for no real surprises, it is an easy paced (some might say slow) tear jerker. Kevin Spacey was terrific, Haley Joel Osment was good, Helen Hunt... well ... she acted to her abilities. I thought James Caviezel gave a great performance & it was a shame that the plot didn't allow him the scope to give the film an extra dimension. Mimi Leder keeps the film very low key, which in a way allows all the characters to develop through the film, but has the problem of slowing the pacing of the film. I suppose there is always a trade off! The ending was not surprising if you follow the plot development & illicited the emotional response that Leder was working to. I did find the closing scenes very reminisce of 'Field Of Dreams', hey but if it works, use it! This isn't a great film. but a good work never the less & if you are looking for a film of hope & redemption you won't be disappointed.
Nowhere to Hide (1987)
My one line summary of compelling was done tongue in cheek. The only compelling aspect of this movie was waiting for it to get better! Which it doesn't. Unfortunately this movie set low standards, then failed to achieve them. The concept is poor, the acting poor, the directing poor. Watch it at your peril.
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)
A tale of courage well told
I approached this film with a bit of trepidation, considering the hype of the films release. I'm a bit scepitcal of films that deal with issues of a political nature. Sometimes the reviews can be coloured by the reviewers leanings, especially when dealing with such a 'hot' political issue as the Stolen Generations. I needn't have worried, this is a beautiful film. Noyce had the problem of presenting the story without going over the top with sentimentality. His biggest coup was selecting 3 unknown aboriginal girls to play the leads. Coming from the 'bush' these girls approached their work in a way that , I believe, could not be achieved using city based kids, e.g. the subtle use of hand signals instead of words & the ease of using traditional language. Also Noyce was able to avoid the traditional Aussie film cliche, gratuitous shots of kangaroos & emus.
The film score using Peter Gabriel was an interesting choice. Gabriel gives the film the quality that is sometimes lacking in many Australian films. Although I suspect Gabriel got his inspiration from Robbie Robertsons' - 'Music For The Native American' album, which I personally love.
So if you want to watch a movie which is thought provoking, beautifully shot, well acted & avoids most Aussie cliches, give Rabbit-Proof Fence a viewing ..... you won't be disappointed.
Stewardess School (1986)
I unfortunately seen this film at 1am on free to air TV whilst at work, so I didn't have the opportunity to change channels. The film is that bad that the local station placed it's community service announcements, instead of paid advertising in the commercial gaps! Honestly, this movie is crap. If you enjoy a bit of a tit flick (my workmates certainly did!), crude sexual references & stereotyping of the worst kind, this film is for you. For me however, I did not see any redeeming features at all (although the community service announcements were informative) & considered the whole film a waste of time.
Risque ...... but bloody funny!
Bored, nothing to do, love a laugh, well this could be the perfect gap filler. Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human (MHOTEH) could have quickly degenerated into the usual 'tit flick', but thanks to some very clever writing & the superb narration of David Hyde-Pierce this movie is lifted above others of its genre. I won't spoil MHOTEH by commenting on various scenes, however, the birth scene is not to be missed. Reality TV, who needs it!. A word of warning though, there is some very strong language & some very visual sex scenes, so discretion is required for younger viewers.