By Luke Buckmaster on Aug 29, 2012 in Reviews | 0 Comments
When you remember it, and it certainly lingers large in the memory, the stretchy shit-eating smile of local actor/comedian Angus Sampson (pictured above, left) seems unrealistically large, as if it extends further than the borders of his face and leaves the rest of his body lingering limply below like the legs of a ventriloquist’s puppet.
Despite a relatively ubiquitous career over several years, mostly comprised of bit parts, Sampson still has the aura of a fresh-faced future gun biding his time before a lucky break sends his stock up from a likeable industry figure to Rolodex A-grader.
He “broke in” by joking about Maggi noodles on the teev with the jive of an intellectually disabled MSG addict and starred in 2005?s klutzy ‘strayian comedy You and Your Stupid Mate. That’s a movie generally spoken about — by the small number of people who saw it — with either Voldermortian hushed tones or boisterous bursts of condescension, though it’s fair to say few if any of its sins stuck to its stars. Interesting to note how they decided to market it on DVD, with a beach-set Australiana cover featuring an image Sampson’s head significantly smaller than the size of Rachel Hunter’s right breast. Read the rest
By David O'Connell on Jun 3, 2012 in Reviews | 0 Comments
Though the execution lacks polish and a sense of creating a daringly original perspective, the central themes of director Belinda Chayko’s Lou resolutely come to the fore. This is the story of an 11 year old entangled in trying domestic circumstances in rural New South Wales. Lou (Lily Bell-Tindley), stuck with two younger siblings and a troubled young mother, Rhia (Emily Barclay), who is struggling to make ends meet, seems to be drifting through life, the departure of her father creating a troubling and hurtful absence that remains a bone of contention between the two. Read the rest
By Luke Buckmaster on May 19, 2012 in Features | 0 Comments
Few films that deal with the pain and suffering from the loss of a loved one are as bold and innovative as Burning Man, a scorching new Australian drama from writer/director/producer Jonathan Teplitzky (now available on DVD). His third and by far best feature film (Teplitzky also directed Better Than Sex and Gettin’ Square), Burning Man follows the whirlwind life of a pugnacious English chef living in Bondi Beach. The film begins by portraying Tom (Matthew Goode) as a hedonistic pratt but he is gradually humanised by Teplitzky as we learn, through a swirling non-linear narrative, that he is recovering from the death of his wife. Luke Buckmaster discovered during a candid interview with Teplitzky shortly before the film’s release (it is now playing in select cinemas and should be chalked down as a must-see) that the story was partly autobiographical. Read the rest
By Luke Buckmaster on May 19, 2012 in Reviews | 0 Comments
Three months after major up and coming talent Tanja Liedtke was appointed artistic director of the Sydney Dance Comedy – a holy grail of arts gigs – fate dealt a cruel hand and she died after being hit by a garbage truck in August 2007.
Life in Movement, directed by debut documentarians Sophie Hyde and Bryan Mason (who were close friends of Liedtke) captures efforts from colleagues and close ones 18 months later to expose the world to her revered work via an international tour of her productions.
The wounds were obviously still open when filming. Interviewees accidentally alternate between past and present tenses when describing Liedtke and the late artist herself appears regularly in footage captured not long before she died, which adds a ghostly veneer to the film. Read the rest
By David O'Connell on Apr 30, 2012 in Reviews | 0 Comments
Tom Jeffrey’s film, based on the memoirs of William Nagle, to some extent comes across as an Australian flavoured, poor man’s version of Catch 22 or Robert Altman’s M.A.S.H (1970). Although primarily concerned with depicting the seriousness of young soldiers being tossed into a warzone, scenes of bawdy irreverence provide a welcome counterbalance, with the men using frivolity as a psychological defence against the implications of their presence in Vietnam.
The film, though its edge has been dulled by time, is notable for the strength of its cast. Graham Kennedy is excellent as Harry, the grizzled veteran, quick to proffer a sobering observation or two on the harsh realities of the group’s 12 month stint in ‘Specialist Services’. Offering able support is a trio of recognisable larrikins: the ever dependable John Hargreaves as Bung, Graeme Blundell as Dawson and Bryan Brown as Rogers. Then there’s a very young John Jarratt as Bill, whose going away party opens the film and around whose experiences the film is shaped.
Each actor is able exploit the screenplay’s shortcomings, for although it’s devoid of detailed characterisation, important personal moments bleed through to give the narrative some much needed depth: there’s Harry’s dissolving marriage which became the motivation for his decision to first join the military; the tragic death of Bung’s wife and daughter back home in a car wreck, and the abandonment of Bill by his girlfriend who had proclaimed undying loyalty to him before he left home. Read the rest
By David O'Connell on Mar 5, 2012 in Reviews | 0 Comments
Superficially, Dean Craig’s screenplay for A Few Best Men seems like a lazy re-tread of the formula he used for his best known work, the inexplicably successful British comedy Death at a Funeral (2007). Firstly a thin scenario is established using minimal justification for another extravagant family gathering. This time there’s no deceased at the centre of it all, but then is a wedding really that much different? After injecting a stranger into the mix (it was the vertically challenged Peter Dinklage in Death at a Funeral) it’s then time for audiences to sit back and watch with their sides securely stapled as round after round of calamity ensues thanks to various illicit substances, feeble misunderstandings, contrived pratfalls and the absurdist antics of various eccentric or intoxicated characters. Throw in a sexed-up barnyard animal or two and you’ve got a sure-fire formula for box-office success.
Craig’s screenplay so closely follows the template of Death of a Funeral that it appears to be moving forward on rails, offering very minor variations on a theme as it does so. Director Stephan Elliot, no stranger to divisive and extravagant comedies, even imports Kris Marshall from the earlier film. He’s Tom, one of the moronic best men of David (Aussie Xavier Samuel, sporting a fine English accent) whose whirlwind holiday romance with Australian girl Mia (Laura Brent) sees him heading for the altar in double quick time in Sydney’s Blue Mountains. Simultaneously he must work hard to impress his forbidding future father-in-law, Jim Ramme (Jonathan Biggins), a wealthy politician very closely linked to a sheep in his campaigning. Read the rest
By David O'Connell on Dec 30, 2011 in Reviews | 0 Comments
In 2009, despite serious misgivings, filmmaker Tony Krawitz decided to venture onto Palm Island, off the Queensland coast, with a mission – to reverse a coin of common perception; to tell the lesser known side of a tragic story that began on November 19, 2004. On an ordinary day, a drunken Aboriginal man, Cameron Doomadgee, was arrested for a minor infraction by towering white police officer Christopher Hurley, referred to by the locals as “the tall man”. Some 45 minutes later Doomadgee was dead in the local police station. Read the rest
By Luke Buckmaster on Dec 30, 2011 in Reviews | 0 Comments
It’s obvious from the opening scenes of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead that wet around the ears documentarian Joe Cross never went to film school, never debated the merits of gonzo, expository or observational approaches to documentary. Cross is the antithesis of a filmmaking expert, an inexperience he spins into a virtue as the audience watch him, a true blue Aussie bloke, drive across America, juice ever in hand, not to make great art per se but to better his health and inspire the people he meets to do the same.
The film details Cross’ physical and geographic journey as he slims down from 140 kilos using a juice only fasting diet that lasts for 60 days. It’s sprinkled with short animated clips extolling the importance of good diet and exercise. Read the rest