Be warned: 'Snowtown' is not for the faint of heart, but for those with stomachs strong enough to handle a deep dive into one of the most gruesome and publicised strings of murders in Australia's history, there is plenty here to love. Daniel Henshall ('Acute Misfortune') is bone chilling as the charismatic John Bunting, who infiltrated the mind of 16-year-old protagonist Jamie (Lucas Pittaway), leading him to violence and extreme cruelty. Adelaide's darkest chapter has been done complete, unflinching justice, just don't be surprised if you need to stare at pictures of puppies for hours afterwards.
I loved reading 'A Long Way Home', the autobiography from Saroo Brierley, although I was skeptical when envisioning what it would look like translated to the screen. The story follows Saroo (Dev Patel 'Slumdog Millionaire', and Sunny Pawar as a young Saroo) who gets lost on the streets of Calcutta thousands of kilometres from home, and 25 years after surviving his ordeals and being adopted by an Australian couple, he decides to search for his lost family via the means of Google Earth. It's a fascinating story but has all the ingredients of an "Oscar-bait" type film, hence my fear when 'Lion' was announced. Well, contrary to my hesitations, this film is a wonderful and deeply moving adaption. It's not easy to elicit emotion by filming your protagonist searching through Google Earth, which is essentially what the book is about, but in his debut feature, director Garth Davis treats the source material with grace and heart, being careful never to force the drama on the audience. The result is a thoughtful and uplifting tale about a journey of discovery, filled with emotion and determination. Aided by a strong cast including Rooney Mara ('Carol'
), Nicole Kidman ('Bombshell'
) and David Denham ('300'), 'Lion' is a bona fide tearjerker not to be missed.READ OUR REVIEW
Directed by John Hillcoat and written by Bad Seeds frontman Nick Cave, who also composed the hypnotic score with collaborator Warren Ellis, 'The Proposition' subverts the conventions of the American Western and transports them to the Australian frontier. Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce, 'Bloodshot'
) is one of three outlaw brothers who terrorise the outback and try to steer clear of local lawman Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone, cast against type as a vulnerable man). When Winstone captures Pearce and his simple younger brother Mikey (Richard Wilson), he offers Charlie a chance to win amnesty if he tracks down and murders the clan's oldest brother, philosophical madman Arthur (Danny Huston). The movie spends a lot of time with Stanley and his melancholy wife (Emily Watson) as they attempt to lead a civilised lifestyle on the edge of the outback. John Hurt also pops up as a wily bounty hunter prone to critiquing Charles Darwin. With the gothic mood of Cormac McCarthy's 'Blood Meridian', the film features hauntingly beautiful scenes interspersed with tough-talking quasi-biblical characters exploding into brutal violence. Too many Westerns are wishy-washy or nostalgic. This is an ugly movie about some ugly people (who occasionally say poetic things).
'LOOKING FOR ALABRANDI'
Australian films are hard enough to come by. Good
Australian films are even harder. And iconic
Australian films are decades apart. Harder still are teen films or films that don't feature a bloody dog. When I was in high school, we had to study Melina Marchetta's novel 'Looking For Alibrandi', and better still it was 2000 - the year the feature film came out. Score! Teen angst, cultural identity crisis, first love, first grief, second love, and a father you never knew all wrapped up in a package with a Silverchair and Killing Heidi soundtrack and one of the most amazing covers of U2's 'With or Without You' ever
. An Australian coming-of-age flick, completely iconic and no dog!
CHARLIE DAVID PAGE
'JUDY & PUNCH'
This is fresh and original as an Australian film I've seen since 'The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert'. Putting a twist on the puppets, this is an Aussie fairytale that crash-landed into a black comedy. With Mia Wasikowska leading a strong female cast and directed by newcomer Mirrah Foulkes, this has a tonne of important messages wrapped up in its enjoyable storyline - girl power, persecution, domestic violence - but it's so much fun that it never feels weighed down by these elements. This film got rave reviews at last year's Sydney Film Festival, but only received a tiny theatrical release, so now's your opportunity to check out an exciting new kind of Australian film - and it also looks a (couple of dozen) million bucks.READ OUR REVIEW
CHRIS DOS SANTOS
"Welcome to my kitchen sink, this is where I stop and think." 'Goddess' may not be one of the best musicals out there, but to have a fun original musical that's Australian is very exciting. Elspeth's (Laura Michelle Kelly) husband James (Ronan Keating) leaves her with their young twins for work, and she sets up a webcam to stay in contact with him. However, while she thinks her little kitchen tunes are just going to him, she is broadcasting to the entire world - not only fun songs, but the drama of her life. This, of course, goes viral and catches the attention of marketing giant Cassandra Wolfe (Magda Szubanski) who wants to use her fame to promote a new laptop for women. The film is incredibly cheesy and melodramatic and makes for an enjoyable Australian film. What works is the musical numbers; they are really creative and even with a smaller budget feel big and grand. The songs themselves are really catchy thanks to lead Laura Michelle Kelly, who has a lot of theatre experience both on the West End and Broadway. With Mother's Day this weekend, 'Goddess' is the perfect film to enjoy with mum.READ OUR REVIEW
'THE AUSTRALIAN DREAM'
'The Australian Dream' is a movie that needs to be watched by everyone in this country. Scratch that - everyone, everywhere. With broad brushstrokes, it points out and demonstrates the casual racism in this country, whilst also displaying the past and present hurt of First Nation people. It details the journey of indigenous AFL player Adam Goodes and his brave call to oppose those who racially vilified him. This film plays an important role in education and dialogue starting. It is a presentation of a voice that is still unheard, and in itself acts as a tool of communication for the change that still needs to take place. As a Dunghutti woman, this film still gives me goosebumps, makes me emotional, and makes me cheer for the hearts of those that have come before me and will come to be. This land is, was and always will be Aboriginal land - so let this documentary enamour you with insight.READ OUR REVIEW
When I recently revisited Chris Noonan's 'Babe', I hadn't seen it in 20 years. I'd studied it at school, and that's usually the best way to have a film leave a bad taste in your mouth. So it was a great surprise (or maybe it wasn't, since the film was very much hidden in my muscle memory) that 'Babe' is kinda a near-perfect film. It's pastoral, rhapsodic, gorgeous, heartfelt, melancholy, hilarious and incredibly stirring, a feel-good classic that actually earns its right to be feel-good by leading its protagonist through a difficult journey of understanding and self-realisation. It also has barely aged a day, thanks to a great mix of digital and practical effects and the timeless quality of its production design, and by the time it reaches its final sublime, indescribable five minutes, culminating in one of the greatest final lines in film history, I was up on my feet and sobbing and cheering. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards, and is probably one of the best films this country has ever produced.
'MAD MAX: FURY ROAD'
'Mad Max: Fury Road' is one of those films that proves Australia can handle and can make a global blockbuster. It was a return to form for the 'Mad Max' series, and renewed interest in a franchise that was stuck in the 80s in the most spectacular way possible.
The sheer scale and grandeur of this film is something to behold. There is almost something operatic about it, especially the car chase scenes in the desert. The message of environmentalism is clear as well, a very important message at the time and a perfect backdrop. It's gritty, it's fun, it's loud, and it's one hell of a ride!
READ OUR REVIEW
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