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The Government Inspector (2005 TV Movie)
8 January 2008
Mere words fall short in being able to adequately convey my response to this docu-drama - only seen for the first time in Australia a couple of nights ago. By now we all have access to the truth of what happened following 9-11, but this film gives insight into the machinations of both government and the role the media played, and still play to this day, in 'informing' the public.

This film belongs to Mark Rylance. His portrayal of Dr David Kelly is both realistic and poignant, and he never misses a beat. We see a sensitive man being served up as a fall guy, and we also see his recognition of the truth of what is happening to him as it's happening. Whilst I knew the outcome before seeing the film, watching him choose the place where he eventually takes his own life is at once painful and even shocking.

Great stuff!
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Wolf Creek (2005)
No wurries!
17 November 2007
Since a friend of mine and her husband were murdered by a couple of thrill killers in northern Queensland in the 70's, I'd resisted seeing this film until yesterday, and then only watched it to see what all the fuss was about, rather than for any enjoyment. 'Wolf Creek' is not exactly an experience to be enjoyed - it's dark and elusive and frightening, and it's been made to scare the viewer, to leave you feeling out of control, just as the 3 young travellers must have felt. Whilst there were signatures of the Ivan Milat killings throughout this film, it is chiefly a work of fiction. This film is best viewed with little prior information, since ignorance of plot outcomes heightens the scare-factor.

For me, the slow and leisurely beginning to this film was necessary, firstly to introduce us to the 3 young people on an adventure of a lifetime - we had to know them and like them, and perhaps even identify with them - and secondly, to lull us into a sense of safety and security, as a sharp contrast to the events of the last half of the film. The scenery is exquisite, in particular the aerial shots of the meteor crater at Wolfe Creek. This creates a sense of openness and beauty, in contrast to the dark and claustrophobic environment of the disused mine (called 'Navitalim', Ivan Milat spelled backwards - cheeky!) the lair of Mick, the bad guy.

John Jarratt's Mick pervades the whole of the last half of the movie. Even when not in shot he's in your mind. I got the impression that Jarratt really enjoyed creating Mick. Jarratt has been around for a long time, so his skills at portraying larrikins are well known in this country. Heck - John Jarratt IS the definitive Aussie larrikin, so being Mick was possibly not a huge stretch for him. I was more impressed by Cassandra McGrath as Liz (she played Miranda in 'Sea Change'), and I'm continually surprised we don't see more of her in other film & TV projects.

If you're looking for a conventional slasher movie, then this will not appeal, since any horror is implied rather than in your face. If you're a sensitive soul, it'll scare the pants off you. This is a genuine attempt by Greg McLean to make an artistic piece, thus the nature of the first half of the film. To his credit, McLean also constructs this movie for us to experience the horror along with the protagonists, rather than having taken the easy way out and thrown together a voyeuristic slasher flick.

This is not a predictable formula movie, and for that I'm relieved. See it if you dare!
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Rain Shadow (2007)
'McLeod's Daughters' meets Wandin Valley
10 October 2007
I may be jumping in here, having only seen the first episode, but even at this early stage, my most overwhelming response is one of disappointment. I really, really wanted to like this series, having grown up in a remote and perpetually dry farming area, but no matter how much I try, I can't.

Firstly, the concept of a young and eager vet from the city moving to a rural region in the grip of a long dry to assist the resident (female, middle-aged, complex, crusty) vet - played by Rachel Ward - is a worthy one, but somehow it just isn't enough. It feels clichéd and corny, and as I watched, I couldn't help but think that the vet from 'A Country Practice' was almost more believable!!! Having said that, I feel that Rachel Ward holds this whole thing together. She's a trooper of many years, and the camera loves her.

My real problem with this is the way the locals are portrayed, with names like Fred and Harry (although Shane Withington as Harry looks the real deal!)and most of the men wearing Akubras or a cheaper version of it. For the 1997-ish film 'Road To Nhill' the writer spent a number of months living in the area about which she later wrote, so her perspective was an informed one. In 'Rain Shadow' the locals - so far at least - are treated as one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. Strange as this may seem to city dwellers, country folk are quite complex, and their lives and choices can provide great stories for astute and observant writers.

I hope my pessimism about this series will prove to be unfounded.
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Proof (2004–2005)
Good escapist stuff
7 September 2007
Perhaps I'm the only person who actually loves this series (we're only just seeing it in Australia). It's shown in the Friday night crime spot, and manages to block the world out for the 90 minutes it runs. The plots are layered and complicated, if not occasionally improbable, and you have to pay attention or you can get lost. The cast of Finbar Lynch, Orla Brady, Stanley Townshend - and many more - are excellent, the scripts tight and sometimes funny, often shocking. Best of all, the filmmakers make a genuine attempt to create a gritty urban landscape of Dublin, where the series is set.

Stories centre around corruption in high places, and the attempts made by journalists Lynch and Brady to expose the bad guys. They're often unsuccessful, which is one of the reasons I enjoy this show. The bad guys frequently do win, and there's little the good guys can do about it.

One of the many reasons I'm enjoying 'Proof' is that the viewer is treated with respect and with none of the patronising explanations of the plot by characters which seems to be part and parcel of many mainstream US mystery/drama/cop shows.
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A Song Will Rise
22 May 2007
Watching this program recently on DVD reminded me that Peter, Paul & Mary had been almost solely responsible for the development of my social conscience. Often labeled 'too commercial' or having 'sold out' or 'too earnest, too serious', this program reminded me of why it was I saved my meagre student funds to attend their live performances 3 times during the 1960's. They were earnest then, and they're still earnest, and the world needs them now as much - even more - than we needed them in the 60's.

This program skillfully covers their 43 year (as of 2004) career, and gives some insight into why it is they 'worked' so well together. Their performances were always polished and well rehearsed, and as a huge fan of theirs as a young adult, I appreciated this effort as much as I appreciated their philosophy. They're now much older, their voices have changed noticeably, but their passion remains. I for one hope they keep singing well into their old age.

This film will be enjoyed by not only their many followers and admirers, but also by anyone interested in the alternative music of social conscience which arose in the early 1960's. The career of P,P&M could very well be a soundtrack to modern US history.
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