Classic Aussie Films: Streaming Favourites
Stay in and catch up on these classic Aussie movies..
ODDBALL (Netflix): In a Victorian seaside town lives a Maremma sheepdog named Oddball, who is a local nuisance trained to protect the dwindling population of fairy penguins from marauding foxes. Stuart Donald's film is sweet but full of genuine emotional stakes for the dog's nine-year-old trainer Olivia (Coco Jack Gillies), who has a mother (Sarah Snook) with an American boyfriend (Alan Tudyk) and a reassuring granddad named Swampy Marsh (Shane Jacobson).
PAPER PLANES (Netflix): Filmmaker Robert Connolly brought all the insight and skill he'd applied to adult fare such as The Bank and Balibo to this bright, pleasing adventure about an 1 1-yearold boy (Ed Oxenbould) whose paper-plane skills take him from the outback to Tokyo. There's fun, a focus on creativity, an acknowledgment of personal duress and supporting roles for Sam Worthington and Deborah Mailman.
STORM BOY (Amazon): Henri Safran's much-loved original 1976 adaptation of Colin Thiele's novel about a boy (Greg Rowe) living in isolation with his father (Peter Cummins) who raises a wounded pelican that won't leave him is a coming-of-age classic. Shot with a vivid feel forthe landscape, and spotlighting a memorable supporting turn from David Gulpilil, it shows how you have to let go of what you love.
DEATH IN BRUNSWICK (SBS On Demand): This black comedy from 1990 set in Melbourne's innernorthern suburbs has a terrific double act: Sam Neill as in-over-his-head chef Carl and John Clarke as his laconic gravedigger mate Dave. The latter comes to the former's aid when Carl's bumbling romantic interest in barmaid Sophie (Zoe Carides) leads to an inadvertent death and a gang war. It's offbeat, macabre and deceptively funny.
DON'S PARTY (Amazon Prime Video): Set on election night in 1969, when Gough Whitlam's Labor Party would fall short, Bruce Beresford's 1976 film of David Williamson's play has a crackling, sardonic wit, still timely social issues and a cast - including John Hargreaves , Ray Barrett, Jeanie Drynan and Graham Kennedy - that lifts the dialogue out of the stage setting.
THE SAPPHIRES (Netflix): A feel-good movie that at its best feels really good. Wayne Blair's mash-up of Indigenous pride, classic 1960 s soul and R&B, and family bonds humour has Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, MirandaTapsell and Shari Sebbens as the girl group of your dreams and Irish actor Chris O'Dowd as the promoter who takes them into a warzone.
MYSTERY ROAD (Stan ): A slow-burn murder mystery where everyone feels accused in deeply vulnerable ways, Ivan Sen's taut contemporary western introduced Aaron Pedersen's Detective Jay Swan, an outsiderto his Indigenous brethren and the white community in an outback town where a young woman has been murdered. Historic enmity and contemporary crimes intertwine, with a stacked supporting cast and high-calibre climax.
SON OF A GUN (Netflix): Australian director Julius Avery, who graduated to Hollywood with the 2018 World War II horror film Overlord, announced himself with this slick, enjoyable debut. A heist thriller and romantic triangle, it features Brenton Thwaites as young prison inmate who falls underthe influence of Ewan McGregor's gang boss inside and Alicia Vikander's courier once he's outside. It's familiarturf, expertly revisited.
THE SQUARE (Stan): Directed by Nash Edgerton and written by his brother and co-star Joel and Matthew Dabner, this updated noir unfolds in a readily familiar middle Australia . Barbecues and carols by candlelight frame a married building contractor (David Roberts) and his ambitious secret lover (Claire van der Boom) plotting to rip off her criminal boyfriend. The web of intrigue and corruption is compelling and everyday.
ALI'S WEDDING (SBS on Demand): The romantic comedy got a joyous 21st century update with this madcap but heartfelt story set in Melbourne's Muslim community, where devoted young dreamer Ali (cowriter and the story's real-life inspiration Osamah Sami) fakes a medical degree to please his cleric father (Don Hany) and falls in love with the wrong woman (Helana Sawires). Circumstances run haywire, but the humanity shines through.
THE CASTLE (Stan): "Tell him he's dreamin"; "Dale dug a hole"; "This is going straight to the pool room"; "It's justice, it's law, it's the vibe". Is there anyone who hasn't seen this low-budget 1997 hit about the Kerrigan family fighting to keep their home? If you haven't , enjoy, if you have you can watch it again. The Working Dog team's movie holds up just fine .
MURIEL'S WEDDING (Stan): Writer and director P.J. Hogan turned the romantic comedy inside out with this tale of the titular eccentric loner (Toni Collette) who overcomes her dismissive family and lousy friends with the aid of a new comrade (Rachel Griffiths ) and the music of Abba. The tone can swing from the vibrant and excitable to the grim and defeated - it's that range that makes Muriel's deliverance so satisfying.
TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG (Stan): The traditional values of the historic drama - august tone, period finery , grand myths - never stand a chance in Justin Kurzel's highwire retelling of Ned Kelly's calamitous life. A radicalised Irish child in a British outpost where authority is just a perverted policeman, the grown Ned (George MacKay) overflows with psycho-sexual energy as the images grow increasingly bold and unmoored.
STRANGERLAND (SBS on Demand): Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes star in this slow-burn thriller, playing a married couple new to an outback town whose teenage daughter and younger son disappear just before a dust storm descends. Kim Farrant's movie dissects the family flaws that we use to hold us together, with an uneasy tension that comes from unexpected means.
ROMPER STOMPER (Stan): There's barely a wasted shot in Geoffrey Wright's 1992 classic about the self-immolation of a violent, racist Melbourne skinhead pack led by Russell Crowe's fearsome Hando. The movie straps you in and speaks to the comfort of extremism and the volatility of desire, with a brutal B-movie morality and moments of tortured clarity.
HOLDING THE MAN (Stan): Neil Armfield's screen adaptation of Timothy Conigrave's posthumous memoir about growing up gay in the 1970s and then living, loving, and ultimately dying in the early, unknown years of HIV is full of tenderness between Tim (Ryan Corr) and John (Craig Stott) and a brisk, conversational tone that allows for a welcome frankness when it comes to both sex and AIDS. The sense of loss is palpable.
LION (SBS on Demand): A story so far-fetched it can only be based on true events, Garth Davis' movie is about how lives are made and remade, and that at some point we have to take stock of who we believe we are. Played by a selection of fine actors, culminating in Dev Patel as a young man, Saroo Brierley goes from central India to Hobart, where Nicole Kidman and David Wenham play his adopted parents. Rediscovering his earlier life is undeniably cathartic.
SHINE (Amazon): Noah Taylor and Geoffrey Rush provide deeply complementary halves in their portrayals of David Helfgott, a gifted classical pianist from Adelaide whose rise to fame was derailed by mental illness and poor care. Under the direction of Scott Hicks, his return to playing and discovery of affection is inspirational but never crudely earned.
BREAKER MORANT (Amazon): In Bruce Beresford's 1980 masterpiece, a trio of Australian soldiers - played by Edward Woodward, Bryan Brown and Lewis Fitz-Gerald - are court-martialled by the British army for war crimes against civilians. Summary justice, colonial servitude and the ravages of war are all examined in a courtroom drama where the evidence unfolds in flashback . The final scene is unforgettable.
MY BRILLIANT CAREER (SBS on Demand): Underpinned by a magnetic lead performance by Judy Davis, Gillian Armstrong's 1979 debut feature hasn't lost a speck of cultural relevance or unbound insight. Davis' Sybylla Melvyn comes of age at the close of the 19th century, despairing of the few choices allowed her, and this period drama has a romantic thrill (hello Sam Neill) that never forgets the curses and contradictions an independent woman faces.
SWEET COUNTRY (SBS on Demand): It may be just three years old, but Warwick Thornton's compelling and assured second film , where dispossession begins with land and ends with humanity itself, reveals the Northern Territory of the 1920s where there is no escape for the Indigenous population. When Sam (Hamilton Morris) kills in self-defence , he's pursued by Bryan Brown's constable and historic inevitability. It's a tragic, unsparing work.
CARGO (Netflix ): This pandemic has zombies. A sparse and inexplicable experience set in outback South Australia, this horror film with many distinct horrors follows a couple, Andy and Kay (Martin Freeman and Susie Porter), fleeing chaos and hoping to safeguard their baby daughter. It's a distinctly Australian take on the walking dead, complete with a striking vision of Indigenous reconciliation, that's meticulously made.
THE ROVER (Stan): In an Australia left as the mere remnants of a country by economic and social crashes, a loner named Eric (Guy Pearce) pursues a criminal gang across the outback to recover his car, taking their youngest member, Reynolds (Robert Pattinson), hostage. David Michod's successor to Animal Kingdom is sparse and ruminative, with tortured monologues and eruptions of violence. There will be blood.
I AM MOTHER (Netflix ): Inside a bunker after an apocalyptic event, a young woman, Daughter (Clara Rugaard), who has been raised from an embryo by the robotic Mother (voiced by Rose Byrne), learns about the outside world when she encounters a human survivor, Woman (Hilary Swank). The trio's cat and mouse dynamic is science-fiction's technological terror writ large, and swiftly effective.
The Age Digital Edition
Down about being couchbound ? Perk up with these classic Aussie films, writes CRAIG MATHIESON.
This article is from the April 5, 2020 issue of The Age Digital Edition.
To subscribe, visit theage.digitaleditions.com.au.
A couple Craig missed that we like..
The Devil's Playground
My Brilliant Career
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
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