15 posts categorized "Australian Cinema"

October 17, 2023

STRANGE BEHAVIOR — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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ColeSmithey.com"Dead Kids" was the original title for director Michael Laughlin's '80s new wave inspired homage to '50s era B-Movie horror flicks.

New Zealand stands in for a small Illinois town where a demented, and deceased, college psychology professor is performing experiments on local high school kids that lead to an epidemic of knife inflicted murders.

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The town's sheriff (Michael Murphy) has more than his family at stake to solve the mystery and stop the horror.

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"Strange Behavior" is a crucial link between slasher films like "Halloween" and later "who-drank-the-kool-aid" teen thrillers.

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Here is a campy B-horror movie with some very funny moments.

Ozploitation lives!

Rated R. 99 mins.

3 Stars SHOCKTOBER!

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon

April 08, 2017

WAKE IN FRIGHT — CLASSIC FILM PICK

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ColeSmithey.comTed Kotcheff’s “Wake In Fright” is an unsettling, if perverse, psychological thriller unlike any other film ever made. It captures the complete mental breakdown of a character in surreal yet viscerally physical terms, while encompassing economic conditions, prejudices, and the ruthless mindset of men in Australia's lawless Outback environment.

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You might detect a tinge of anti-alcohol propaganda at the core of the narrative’s existential crisis in this unpredictable adaptation of Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel. Nicholas Roeg’s Cinema is the closest thing you compare to Kotcheff’s fraught social study of Australia in the late ‘50s. Desolation of the human soul comes complete with senseless killing of kangaroos.

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Gary Bond’s John Grant character is a grade school teacher chomping at the bit to escape his Government-delegated job in the remote town of Tiboonda. School is out for Christmas. A reunion with his girlfriend in Sydney promises a return to civilization.

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The problem is that our unreliable protagonist gets sidetracked during a night of drinking and gambling in a mining town populated with reprobates. Grant imagines winning enough money gambling to pay off the education bond that has him teaching in the middle of nowhere. No such luck. Grant’s poor choice leads him on a bitter path toward many more decisions he soon comes to regret.

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John Grant becomes a refugee in his own country, surrounded by alcohol-fueled maniacs who usher him down a spiral of destruction. “Wake In Fright” is a masterpiece of energized social satire. The team of kangaroo hunters who take Grant along for the ride represent the same patriarchy that carry on constant wars and shove guns in civilians’ faces just to see how they handle fear. “Wake In Fright” can be taken as a command or a condition. Either way, this classic picture will make you squirm in fear.

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Ted Kotcheff led a varied career that spanned four decades and many genres and styles. "Fun With Dick and Jane" (1977), "Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe" (1978), "North Dallas Forty" (1979), and "Weekend at Bernies" (1989) were each box office hits. Although "Wake In Fright" died at the box office, it is a truly staggering film that represents an artistic pinnacle for Ted Kotcheff. You can see why it's his favorite of all of his films; this one is special. 

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Rated R. 108 mins.

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March 14, 2011

WALKABOUT — THE CRITERION COLLECTION

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ColeSmithey.comAfter sharing directing duties with Donald Cammell in 1970, on the groundbreaking experimental film "Performance" (starring Mick Jagger), Nicolas Roeg began an exceptionally fruitful career as a filmmaker with a singularly unique approach to cinematic storytelling.

Based loosely on a novel by James Vance Marshall, Roeg's first solo effort is a complex treatise on ecology, racism, and a culture clash between primitive man and his industrially-bound white neighbors.

Screen Shot 2022-04-17 at 2.43.43 PM

Roeg employs an unsettling sonic landscape of radio-wave aural stimulus to underscore the harsh juxtaposition between modern technology and the sounds of the natural world. Noisy transistor radio squeals and beeps screech in a harmonic disruption to the sounds of birds and buzzing insects.

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A wealthy Australian businessman takes his 14-year-old daughter and six-year-old son into the parched Outback for a picnic. The children are dressed in their private school uniforms. The superficially successful father drives the siblings in his black Volkswagen bug until it runs out of gas in the desert. As the lanky daughter sets food out on a scarf, a portable radio provides a pop music soundtrack. Her six-year-old brother plays on a cluster of rocks. After viewing them through binoculars, the father takes out a pistol and fires on his offspring. They flee. He sets the car on fire and blows out his brains. Thus begins our desperate tale of familial survival. 

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The freshly minted refugee siblings begin a journey for subsistence that mirrors the "walkabout" tradition of a 16-year-old Aborigine boy they meet along the way. He lives alone, off of the land, just as his tribal ancestors have done for thousands of years. He will rescue the boy and girl from a terrible fate. The favor will not be returned. Quite the opposite.

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The camera's frame of reference also provides a hallucinatory vantage point. A brick wall that covers the entire screen can obscure a busy street or reveal a wide-open desert terrain. Roeg’s carefully planned use of juxtaposition flavors every scene. Memories flash in still frames to form a fragmented collage structure. Time can stop. Transparent camels from the past walk across the desert, their depleted carcasses are there too.

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The long-limbed Aborigine boy (David Gulpilil) wears only a small loincloth. The pubescent girl wears a short gray skirt and a white schoolgirl blouse. The native boy’s skin is dark and yet immune to the unrelenting sun, while the Caucasian girl’s pale flesh burns and blisters. The sexual tension that enflames between them is diffused by their inability to communicate through language. He speaks from the heart in his native tongue. She speaks in a British accent that stresses strict codes of behavior she has learned by rote in private schools. Her younger brother carries two spears that he uses to kill the lizards, kangaroo, and buffalo, which he learns to cook. The pair adapt well under their black guide’s assistance.

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"Walkabout" is a poetic film that incorporates a collective subconscious of humanitarian values. It reveals those mores being broken just as politicians, corporations, and local exploiters of every stripe smash them daily in every corner of the globe. This haunting film is a tragedy regarding imperialism, capitalism, and racism. You won’t forget “Walkabout.” See it on a big screen.

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Rated R. 95 mins. 

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“

Cozy Cole

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