Sirens (1993)

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Director: John Duigan

Stars: Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Sam Neill, Elle Macpherson, Portia de Rossi, Kate Fischer, Ben Mendelsohn

First viewing, via SBS on Demand

Timing’s a funny thing. I’ve gotten into the habit of planning my line-ups for Down Under Flix a couple of months in advance, and John Duigan’s Sirens (1993) has been on the itinerary for a while now. Little did I anticipate that the same week I watched Sirens, star Kate Fischer would be thrust somewhat dramatically (and invasively) back into the media spotlight. Consequently, more people have probably read about, thought about, and googled Sirens in the last week than in the last decade.

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Dead Heart (1996)

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Director: Nick Parsons

Stars: Bryan Brown, Ernie Dingo, Aaron Pedersen, Angie Milliken

Second viewing, via VHS

I first watched Dead Heart back in 2000, as part of a course at university. In recent days I’ve been thinking back on all the other Australian films I studied at university (in a degree comprising various screen and literature courses, including one specifically on Australian cinema, there were quite a few) and pondering where those films have landed, culturally speaking, in subsequent years. Wake in Fright, which we watched on a scratchy, dog-eared print, has enjoyed a critical and cultural resurgence in recent years and is soon to be adapted for television by the director of Red Dog. Other films, such as A Sunday Too Far Away and Two Hands, have sort of plateaued, remaining constant in their standing. And others like Dead Heart, then only a few years old, have faded from the spotlight and aren’t really part of the cultural conversation. In this particular case, it’s a shame, because Dead Heart is an excellent flick.

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News Roundup October 2016

A roundup of classic films and catalogue titles currently in the news.

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In celebration of Baz Luhrmann’s birthday last month, pop culture site Wikia posted a pair of articles on the Luhrmannator. See Jamie Freedman’s take on Luhrmann’s directorial style and preoccupations, then read Drew Dietsch’s take on the director’s Red Curtain trilogy, aka Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge.

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Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns (2000)

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Director: John Tatoulis

Stars: Lakis Lazopoulos, Zoe Carides, John Bluthal, Claudia Buttazoni

First viewing, via DVD

Contemporary Australia is a multicultural nation. While local films tend to be Anglo-Australian or Indigenous in their preoccupations, a number of films do reflect this multiculturalism. There are films depicting both the migration experience (see, for example, They’re a Weird Mob and Floating Life), the experience of growing up in migrant families (e.g. Head On and Looking for Alibrandi), and the collision of cultures (the recent Down Under). Moreover,  many comedies have milked the ethnic Australian experience for laughs (Alex and Eve, The Wog Boy, Pizza). Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns is another addition to this list.

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Les Patterson Saves the World (1987)

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Director: George Miller

Stars: Barry Humphries, Pamela Stephenson, Andrew Clarke, Hugh Keays-Byrne

First viewing, via SBS on Demand

Down Under Flix will be taking a break for the rest of September, and will resume business in early October. Since the website kicked off with a broad, crude, deliberately cringe-worthy Australian comedy, there’s a nice symmetry in ending this first “season” with another flick of this ilk: 1987’s Les Patterson Saves the World, directed by George Miller of The Man from Snowy River fame (not George Miller of Mad Max and Babe fame).

For those unfamiliar with the character Les Patterson, conceived and performed by Barry Humphries, David Stratton provides an apt thumbnail: “a kind of latter-day Toby Belch, a larger-than-life caricature of a nouveau-rich bon vivant – belching, farting, womanising and chundering his way through life with scant regard for the sensibilities of others” (The Avocado Plantation, pp. 306–307). Miller’s film brought Humphries’ lecherous, vulgar, perpetually intoxicated elder statesman – whom he’d been performing on stage and television for over a decade – to the silver screen.

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News Roundup September 2016

A roundup of classic films and catalogue titles currently in the news

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As mentioned in our recent review of Starstruck, Australia has produced an eclectic assortment of musicals. One of the most curious is Oz, Chris Lofven’s 1976 film relocating the plot and action of The Wizard of Oz to an outback setting.

At some point Down Under Flix will take a look at Oz, but until then check out the recent review by Drew Dietsch published at Wikia.

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Liquid Bridge (2003)

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Director: Phillip Avalon

Stars: Ryan Kwanten, Simone Kessell, Jeremy Sims

First viewing, via DVD

Most of what I know about surfing I learned from watching Point Break. And given that surfing is maybe only the eleventh most interesting thing about that delightful film, it’s safe to assume I know very little about surfing. But director Phillip Avalon is well versed in the art and sport of surfing. Liquid Bridge is the former professional surfer turned filmmaker’s feature directing debut, though he’d accumulated a solid number of credits as producer, writer and actor over the years. Fittingly, Avalon’s first major project working in all three of those capacities was another surf-centric flick, 1977’s Summer City, co-starring Mel Gibson and John Jarratt.

In Liquid Bridge, protagonist Nick (Ryan Kwanten) works at his father’s garage and dreams of being a professional surfer like his dad (Tony Bonner), whose pro career was cut tragically short by an accident. He joins his recently widowed friend Dane (Jarrod Dean) on the pro circuit, but when Dane dies of an overdose and drugs are found among their possessions, Nick is wrongly accused of smuggling and put on trial.

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