After months in Lockdown, I made it back to the Classic cinema to see The Dry. If we are serious (given coronavirus) about supporting our own Aussie films, this is the perfect place to start, and the perfect film to begin with. Beautifully filmed, well acted by Eric Bana and overall a real crowd-pleaser. While I’ve never read the novel the adaptation is based on, I was suitably intrigued by the mystery presented here, although not every plot twist (particularly towards the end) worked for me. I really wanted The Dry to be an instant Aussie classic like Mystery Road, a film so clever I immediately saw it again two weeks later and brought the DVD. While The Dry doesn’t come close to the brilliance of Mystery Road, it hits enough home runs to satisfy the viewer, and after not stepping a foot inside a cinema for almost a year, that’s enough for me! This is a well made thriller ⭐️⭐️⭐️
BEHIND HER EYES – I binge-watched this TV series based on the novel of the same name on Netflix. What you need to know is it’s well-acted and directed, always totally engrossing and darn-right bloody whacky at the same time. It deals with that old marriage breaker, infidelity. When will married couples in movies realise that not staying monogamous is dangerous?… and someone is probably going to end up dead in a well, particularly if it’s the “man” that strays! So guys, keep it in your trousers, alright! Certainly, our leading man, Tom Bateman, doesn’t keep his lunch locked down…and that’s when all the astral-travelling stuff starts to fly. To say more will give away the crazy plot-line, which is half the fun of watching the series. Behind Her Eyes is a wild and suspenseful ride, as long as you run with the twists of the unbelievable plot. Special mention to Irish actress Eve Hewson (the daughter of Bono from U2) who really convinces in the tricky role of the snobby but downtrodden wife, Adele. She hits all the right notes. To wrap up, Behind Her Eyes is a well crafted English thriller. You’ll probably have an out-of-body experience after watching it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me!” Hmm? Who sang that? Sex/Life on Netflix is a series worth bingeing on. But make sure you’ve got your hand firmly in your popcorn 🍿 before you press play, and be ready for some serious dirty talk …and full frontal nudity. If you are easily offended, yes I’m talkin’ to you Karen 😬 maybe forget this one and watch Frozen instead ☝️ The storyline has been told a million times before ‘small-town girl comes to the big city and falls in love.’ But what makes Sex/Life exciting is it goes to places “Fifty Shades” promised to go but fell horribly short. Is it a great cinematic experience? Probably not! Sure, the acting is…well, so so! And the lead female character is selfish and self-obsessed (you might call her a bitch with kids … and heart ❤️ ) But those naughty sex scenes pack a punch and were fun to watch on my 55” TV 📺 And they come thick and fast! And often 🥵 Do I recommend it as essential viewing? Hell Yeah! If you loved Sex in the City you’ll enjoy this! Back to the song by Salt and Pepper btw🎵 “Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be! Let’s talk about sex!” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Just heard the best dialogue written in a film for ages. I’m watching ‘Jolt’ on Amazon Prime with Kate Beckinsale. She walks into an electrical/tech store and asks who’s in charge. A couple young guys turn around, mid 20’s, one says, “I’m the manager.”
Then she says, “If you’re the manager then you are the last person I want to talk to. I need somebody who knows what they’re doing. “ Boom! Boom! It just works on so many levels, doesn’t it? I wish I’d written it actually. For that reason alone, I’m plugging the movie. I’m halfway through it and so far I’m enjoying it. Kate is also pretty bloody funny! ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Late last night I watched Charlie’s Country on ABC iView. David Gulpilil was extraordinarily good in the lead role of Charlie, and his expressive face subtle and often moving. Directed by Rolf De Heer with a confident rhythm, that invites us into Charlie’s world not as trespassers but as a friend, it successfully held my attention for most of it running time. This is the third film by Rolf De Heer that stars Gulpilil. The others being The Tracker and Ten Canoes (which won Uncertain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival 2006). I am a big fan of De Heer and Gulpilil, and I’d highly recommend watching all three films if you can. It will remind you that Australia really exists outside of the big cites, and that the outback is a very special place. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
RIP – David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu AM (c.1953 – 29 November 2021), known professionally as David Gulpilil and for a period after his death, for cultural reasons, as David Dalaithngu
I’ve got to plug this incredible Aussie film The Furnace which is a contender of an ACCTA Award this year. It really took me by surprise, and on a journey into the outback, flies and all🪰 A brilliant cops and robbers period piece set in the “Wild Wild West of Oz.” Probably the best movie I’ve seen since Mystery Road! Definitely the best movie I’ve seen so far this year. Reminded me of how much I loved westerns as a kid! Stunning locations, always involving, a piece of our forgotten history…and a film that manages to be also culturally diverse. If you see it doing the rounds buy a ticket. It’s “5-star” movie making for sure! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Val, showing on Amazon Prime, stands for Val Kilmer, the “Iceman” from Top Gun with Tom Cruise. “You can be my wingman any time.” Kilmer is a Hollywood movie star, singer, theatre actor, writer and cinematographer. This documentary photographed by Kilmer from childhood and beyond is a moving tribute to his life and artistry and is compelling viewing. While I’ve never been a big fan, the intimate nature of this documentary and Kilmer’s commitment to acting shown here, certainly makes me want to revisit his work, from Batman to The Doors, through to Tombstone, and the Island of Dr Moreau…shot in Australia with Marlon Brando. Stripped of the ability to act in later life due to throat cancer, Kilmer has embarked on a journey of self-reflection and continues to this day to be creative in any capacity he can. This film which is narrated by his son, feels part of his rehabilitation. I think Val’s idol writer Mark Twain, who he played on stage until cancer rudely interrupted the run, probably sums everything up nicely when he said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Val is certainly pausing and looking back with this documentary. He’s walking naked and exposed with his head held high supported with love by his children, happy he never once in all his years on earth followed the crowd in Hollywood or New Mexico, where he now resides. A thoughtful well made documentary about a sensitive and at times difficult actor. Highly recommended ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I actually watched the original 1975 version of The Stepford Wives last night with Katherine Ross! Remember her? I watched it at 4am, lockdown life! 😷 The film has actually held up quite well as a suspense thriller, even the Hammer Horror moments at the end I quite enjoyed! Written during the rise of feminism, the novel by Ira Levin (who wrote Rosemary’s Baby) had possibly a stronger anti-feminist view point than the film. Or is it really about the abuse of power and anti-rich old men? Anyway, what really struck me, was how little things have changed since the 70’s, particularly when it comes to consumerism. Which is one of the major themes running through the film. Strangely, we could shift the whole premise of a patriarchal society and the mysterious “Men’s Association” mentioned in the storyline to Canberra’s Parliament House today, and all the film’s themes of compliant domesticity and sexual harassment would play out perfectly! Even ScoMo’s wife Jenny would fit easily into the story, playing the character Carol Van Saint, a casserole baking reformed alcoholic, brilliantly played by Nanette Newman in the film, who unexpectedly “malfunctions” after being felt-up in the backyard by her horny husband and has to be led away. “I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe.” I thoroughly enjoyed watching The Stepford Wives again during lockdown life. And it’s chilling to see its themes still playing out in modern Australia on the TV news. PS. I should add I’m a fan of Ira Levin and have read many of his novels and plays, sadly he’s passed on! Gone but not forgotten by me! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Being in lockdown is good for at least streaming so here are a few recommendations.
1. First up is Clickbait an Aussie/American production shot in Melbourne masquerading as Oakland USA. Created by Tony Ayers ( Stateless) and Christian White it is an excellent thriller that will keep you guessing right until the end. I enjoyed every thrilling minute and couldn’t wait to fire up my computer!
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- The Newsreader – 2. This six-part Australian series is simply superb filmmaking and writing. Set in 1980s with tremendous performances from everyone involved, and more than a few plot surprises. Sam Reid stars as the young TV reporter who falls in love with a neurotic TV anchor played brilliantly by Anna Torv. Toss in solid set design and attention to the period and you have the best show on TV. Well done ABC
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The Voyeurs on Netflix is a shameless rip off of Hitchcock’s Rear Window which never quite lives up to the classic thriller it tries desperately to copy. That said, it does deviate from the plot of Rear Window halfway through adding random twists and turns that never really convince. Still, it’s fun and sexy, if a little illogical!
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Back to the Rafters on Amazon Prime is the same sentimental family drama we loved on TV only with a bigger budget and stunning photography. No one here is trying to reinvent the wheel, and that’s okay. It’s well-acted, well-paced, and is a warm and fuzzy way to kill a few hours in lockdown. I liked it!
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CONCERT REVIEW – I am a fan and have been for years, but I didn’t like Madonna’s concert Madam X streaming now on Paramount +. I disliked it mainly because it’s a “Debbie Downer” as far as concerts go, and by the time it was over I was confused by what Madonna was trying to say about love and violence. I also struggled with her recent body modifications, which left her unflattering outfits looking like they had been cut and stitched together by a blind man. Once a great creative force, a button pusher, and a risk-taker, Madonna appears to have lost her way with Madam X. She beckons fans to wake up and be more like her and, “disturb the peace.” But her fans, a mix of all ages and gender, are there for her musical hits and possibly to dance, and activism seems more than likely the last thing on their minds. The crowd in the theatre on the night looked like they’d be more at home sipping a gin and tonic after the show rather than starting a riot or overturning the government. There was a strange moment in the middle of the concert where she called for a chair and sat in the audience and had a rather bizarre chat about not much. I had by then given up on the Madam X journey and longed to be watching her Rebel Heart Tour instead. A concert I really enjoyed. That said, the stage and visuals were spectacular, the theatrics interesting and overall well executed. The choreography was uninspired but that may have to do with injuries Madonna suffered during the 75 show run. The concert for me only came alive when she performed older hits like Human Nature, Frozen and Like a Prayer. Perhaps a greatest hits tour is what is needed next? I don’t think Madonna is done just yet, but I do hope she puts Madam X in the closet, locks the door and throws away the key. I’ll let Madonna end this review, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what it’s like to have Mozart coming out of your pussy! I am one classy broad!” ⭐️⭐️
REVIEW – Last Night in Soho. Where do I start? It’s hard to stop thinking about this sexy acid trip of a film superbly directed by Edgar Wright. I loved the production design and the dazzling camera work. The acting all round was strong, particularly from old-timers Terence Stamp and Diana Rigg. The recreation of Soho in London in the swinging sixties literally blew my mind. In fact, I’d say it’s the most inventive film I’ve seen in years. I was fully invested in the lead character’s journey and loved how the film made you feel like you were there in her bedroom, viewing the drama (and there’s an awful lot of drama) with her! The strategically placed nods to famous thriller directors like Hitchcock, Lynch, Cronenberg and Argento made me giggle and certainly added to my enjoyment. The sound design and pop music soundtrack is a total frigging blast, and transports you back in time to the 60s, which of course is its intention. The carefully choreographed crowd scenes of busy London left me breathless. This is a masterclass in modern filmmaking, that’s set back in 1965. The year Sean Connery made Thunderball. I doubt I’ll see a better film in the next 5 years.
Go see it if you love psychological thrillers, and long for cinema that stirs your imagination, and where no one is dressed in superhero tights. I reckon Last Night in Soho is a 5-star experience ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️