the benefit of Romper Stomper was its unflinching view of the gang as a lifestyle, rather than some poorly made morality tale. we know, hopefully, going in that Neo-Nazis are bad. making a whole film where someone is reformed and we all get to cry because of his poor choices can be a good idea, if its not all predictable and full of cliches and melodrama. although Romper doesn’t really tackle this as an issue, it shows it in a more realistic, less melodramatic light. it has a plot (a tragic love story, sorta), but thats not really necessary—if anything, the plot should’ve been sacked. the performance by Russel Crowe as Hando was brilliant, but he’s not just a nut-case. he’s a charismatic, preaching leader who acts like a vicious father-figure to his gang. he’s brutal ,but at times can show lots of sympathy to his little group. he’s got some of the same characteristics as a facist leader like Hilter or Mussolini—very imposing and aggresive, and very able to get people behind him. he also tells them what he knows they want to hear. in spite of the “Love” story the film uses, i think its more about the gang itself, rather than some kind of lesson about Neo-nazis and thier politics or how to deal with them in our society. it never really adresses “why” they’re in the gang. and if i’m wrong and that is what the films about, then its telling us the best way to deal with them is through violence, since that’s how they lose in the film. as i’ve gotten older, Romper Stomper is less exciting and more, as Musycks said, one dimenional, but i still get something out of it. i certainly enjoy it more thant AH X.
Nobody has mentioned Lantana, one of the best Aussie films I have seen to date.It starts out as a murder mystery, and finishes as much more .Director Ray Lawrence challenges the viewer by leaving us to work out just about everything, starting with the identity of the murder victim seen at the start and then the murderer.Lantana proliferates in Australia with attractive orange and yellow blossoms and a complex warren of interconnected roots. The complexity of the film on the level of its underground relationships is contrasted to its explicit moral values of openness and honesty, so the metaphor works well.The film is superbly directed and acted with a terrific musical score, and it is disturbing that it has seemingly vanished without trace.
I have had the fortune of living in Australia while studying film as a post grad. I am particularly fond of the the 70s art films of australia: The last wave, PALM BEACH, yakity yack.
The Castle will always be an all time favorite! i have never laughed so hard in my life.
Also though, the new australian films are very strong… catapillar wish, somersault, 2:37… I am a die hard australian film fan! it is a big shame that i am in toronto
I’m actually doing a month of Australian films on my site, from Mad Dog Morgan, Stunt Rock, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Backlash, Grievous Bodily Harm, Stone, etc., as a way to force myself to finally organize the 90 minute interview I did with Rolf De Heer. You can listen to it here, http://www.regrettablesincerity.com/?page_id=846 , but I warn you that it is pretty dense, and probably some familiarity with his films would help.
too much rubbish on the boards, this is a worthwhile topic so bump
Just saw Wake in Fright which was excellent. I’m in Sydney so this is my chance to see Australian film.
I also liked Mary and Max and really hope that gets a US release. I saw Beautiful Kate which had some good points
but was a little too unsubtle for me, but based on a Newton Thornburg story – made me happy
since Cutter and Bone was such a great book.
Samson and Delilah was fantastic, that is another one I really really hope gets good worldwide distribution.
That is a must see. I like Ten Canoes too. Did not like Pure SHit, too tedious, imo.
High Tide I liked.
It’s interesting how many big Australian actors there are but how few good films the country has made. No, I don’t like Peter Weir (although his Australian films are better than his later Hollywood output – which is mostly abysmal although I think my favorite film by him is Fearless). I can’t stand Jane Campion films (although maybe she’s a Kiwi?). And then I won’t even get into P.J. Hogan or Baz Luhrmann (interestingly enough, it seems like many of my least favorite directors are Australian). Or Philip Noyce who probably could have become a much better director but chose to make terrible mainstream Hollywood thrillers instead (I like Rabbit-Proof Fence and Dead Calm but they bookend Sliver, The Bone Collector and two horrible Tom Clancy adaptations). Lantana was an okay Short Cuts rip-off but was too serious and tried too hard to tie together its story ends.
There is a documentary that came out last year called Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation which discusses several Australian films (most of which supposedly came out in the 70’s). I would love to explore more of Australian cinema, all I’ve seen is Picnic at Hanging Rock and the Mad Max trilogy.
Weir’s weird trilogy before he went Hollywood and sold out-
The Cars That Ate Paris
Picnic At Hanging rock
The Last Wave
The Empty Beach
Watch “The Combination” – it’s a super good and controversial film from Australia!
I wrote about it on my blog: http://the-new-outlet.blogspot.com/2009/06/combination-controversy.html
Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout is now my favourite Australian film.
@Debbie Ann- were did you exactly see Wake in Fright? That’s an Australian film I want to see.
Plenty of great films mentioned already, particularly the classics like Walkabout and Picnic At Hanging Rock.
The Long Weekend I quite enjoyed, which is a 70s Aussie horror that’s a bit different in feel to what I’d normally watch.
Of the past twenty years there’s been some great little films like;
Chopper (Bana’s best)
Rabbit-Proof Fence (shocking subject)
Ten Canoes (absolutely gorgeous)
Shine (great Geoffrey Rush role and brilliant final third)
The Dish (wonderful little film)
Strictly Ballroom (far better than the Romeo & Juliet rubbish)
Lantana (like shifting 70s Hollywood to Australia)
The Proposition (great visuals and shoot out)
Kenny (by far the funniest Australian film I’ve seen)
Of those, Kenny is definitely one to catch if you haven’t seen it. It’s the tried and tested mockumentary format, however there are so many great lines in there mixed with a narrative that’s handled every so well without verging into sentimentality. A true meditation on the life of the working man in contemporary society.
On the issue of Romper Stomper and American History X, has anyone seen The Believer? I thought that’s the best film based around the subject of neo-Nazi gang culture and has a great central performance from Ryan Gosling. It’s a film that rarely gets mentioned yet it’s a brilliant little character driven film.
Picnic At Hanging Rock, Walkabout, Man Who Fell To Earth (Is this Australian?), The Last Wave. Has Anybody seen Wake In Fright? Ive been trying so hard to find it.
@Evan Calderara- I’m not sure if Wake in Fright is going to be shown outside of Australia. I am actually waiting for it to be re-released in my city. The only place that I know Wake in Fright is going to be shown is in Sydney.
Hate to sound like a broken record, but “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and “Walkabout” are my favorite Aussie films. If you are a Hugo Weaving fan, check out “Proof” and “The Interview”.
The melodramatic love triangle subplot ruined “Romper Stomper” for me. That film stands up because of Russell Crowe’s performance and the strange, meandering, familial portrayal of gang life.
And Geoffrey Rush is brilliant in “Shine”
Here’s a link to a review and a short discussion about Wake in Fright.
The Castle for sure
Priscilla: Queen of the Desert!
I don’t know if anyone has mention…" Celia "….and " The Plumber “…..also” Rogue"…and " Long Weekend " first version.." The Wave " ……" My Brilliant Career " " Evil Angels " " Lantana " " The Ruins"…so many
R.Stomper is best understood as an extreme allegory for racial and cultural change. Hando is the extreme personification of white Australia, desperately trying to hang on to the ‘old ways’. It was made at a time when Asians were migrating to this country in droves. As far as not providing insight into these type of gangs, it’s true, but it does show how weak people can be easily manipulated by charismatic and ruthless figures, and it explores this idea without being too obvious ala American History X.
As for the others mentioned, Chopper is quite good, yes, Kenny was ok, but confused the format a little. It couldn’t decide whether it was trying to be a mock documentary or a standard narrative film. Wake In Fright is definitely worth a look, and is almost like a Hitchcock film directed in the outback, but like Walkabout it was directed by a foreigner. Bad Boy Buddy is interesting. It’s almost reminiscent of Lars Von Trier late 90’s/early 00’s work.
Regardless, Australia movies are generally quite poor imo. We have decent actors and good technicians, but our directors tend to lack vision. It’s a cultural problem. Australians are not really encouraged to be artistic. Art is for ‘wankers’, you see. And it’s difficult to make a film dealing with Australian culture that is one 1)interesting and 2)strong enough to provoke debate. We are not a self critical country, so these kind of movies don’t really fly like they do in other countries.
Somebody mentioned Not Quite HOllywood earlier. I must that i found that documentary to be a piece of revisionist propaganda. The uncritical acceptance of this film astonishes me. It was both a marketing ploy for the company’s upcoming dvd series—so called ‘ozploitation’—and a quasi-political stab at the ‘elites’ that make shit films that nobody wants to watch and attempts to link the current crop of directors in Australia to the ‘greats’ of the past, proving once and for all that Aussies are really great at making genre films but the country is too snobby to realise it.
nice try guys.
I love " Wake in Fright " and Australia is so beautiful….I have never been there, but I will someday…
There is a movie lost in my childhood memories: HIGH TIDE. I am unable to forget the face of a beautiful woman named Judy Davis. But I only watched the beginning.
And a co-production that will always be in my heart: BABE.
I am an American who has been living in Australia for a year (Perth), and I agree with you, Australian films need to be more featured on The Auteurs. One of the things I have found, however, is that a lot of Australians don’t attend Australian film. Even fairly high-profile Australian films play only at art-house cinemas with a few screenings a week, and the American blockbusters dominate the major cinemas like Hoyts and Greater Union. I have talked to many Australians about this and found that the general perception by most Australians of their own film culture is negative. I think that Mad Max and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert are worthy enough, but they hardly represent Australian film. I find this very sad, seeing that Walkabout, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Ten Canoes, The Black Balloon, and the more recent Samson and Delilah are fantastic films that all cinephiles should see. Most Australians I talk to have not seen any of those films.
In America Bahz Lurhman films are really the only ones that make it over the Pacific unfortunately, and I can’t stand him. I think a lot of Australians find their own films insignificant because of this, and just don’t bother. If I had to theorize more on why Australians don’t go to their own films, it is that it has to do with the fact that I think a lot of Australians are afraid of their own country. The Outback is probably the deadliest place on Earth, and many Australian films don’t shy away from that inherent fear of the land that white Australians have never really gotten over. I generally think Australians want to escape more, whereas most Australian film tends to turn its lens toward what Australians either fear, or would rather not think about. Most of the subject matter I see in Australian film is very serious. Also, a LOT of the day-to-day imagery in Australia is American. There is, I feel, a general solidarity between Australian people, and Australia can tout virtues of loyalty and “mate-ship”, but because film is a medium based in image, and the lack of ubiquitous Australian imagery beyond Kangroos, Uluru and the Outback, Aboriginals, etc., Australians are led to American film because it is supported by the general imagery around them in advertising and so on, and it provides an escape from the aforementioned fear of the land and also general Australian suburban life as depicted in My Year Without Sex and so on.
I think also that a lot of things that are uniquely Australian are not even known to be Australian. Most people I know in America think that Geoffrey Rush and Cate Blanchette are English, that Peter Weir is American, and so on. As I have been reading on this board, many people are mistaking Heavenly Creatures and LOTR for Australian. It is my hope that Crocodile Dundee and Steve Erwin will stop defining Australians for most the world soon, and films like Ten Canoes can play at more international venues that Cannes.
I just found Ten Canoes on The Auteurs, by the way.
So far, I haven’t seen many Australian films, but one I really enjoyed is Neil Armfield’s “CANDY”. The acting was pretty awesome, and the story did get me (on an emotional level).
“he Outback is probably the deadliest place on Earth, and many Australian films don’t shy away from that inherent fear of the land that white Australians have never really gotten over. I generally think Australians want to escape more, whereas most Australian film tends to turn its lens toward what Australians either fear, or would rather not think about. Most of the subject matter I see in Australian film is very serious. Also, a LOT of the day-to-day imagery in Australia is American.”
They do ‘fear’ their own country, but perhaps not in the way that you are suggesting. Australians misunderstand their own culture. Most of what they are told is either lies or relics from an older, less ‘sophisticated’ time. The anxieties arise from this uncertainty. the uncertainty of moving towards a future that is disconnected from our largely mythic past. Australian films only partially address these concerns.
If the outback does represent Australia, it’s a metaphor for emptiness, and cultural absence.
there are so many amazing australian films. especially coming from sydney, there is a huge amount of underground talent that will never be properly considered. much like everywhere really