AFI NOMINATION BEST EDITINGDAY & NIGHT USA
124 min, No rating, Color
Pauline Kael. NY.
This great Australian film was taken from Thomas Keneally's novel, which is like Nat Turner's story as a lusty ironist-an Irish Nabokov, perhaps-might have written it. The director, Fred Schepisi, dramatizes the inability of the displaced Europeans at the turn of the century (scrabbling tightwads who got where they are by self-denial) to understand the aborigines who live in the remnants of a tribal society with an elaborate structure of claims: men are obliged to give a share of their earnings to their kin, even if their kin are drunken and diseased and want the money only to go on a binge. And men offer their wives to visiting kin as a form of hospitality. To the whites, giving money away is unfathomable laxity, and since the black women are so easily available the white men treat the aboriginal settlements as brothels. Jimmie Blacksmith is a product of one of these visits to a tin shanty: a half-caste who is taught by a Methodist minister, he grows up determined to escape the debased existence of aborigines in their hovels by working hard, buying land, and, as the minister's wife has advised him, marrying a nice white girl off a farm, so his children will be only a quarter black and the next generation scarcely black at all. The film is the grotesque, explosive comedy-tragedy of what happens to this young man; trying to improve himself, he's like a hair-raisingly foolish cross between Jude the Obscure and Gunga Din. When he rebels, it isn't out of conscious militancy or a demand for political justice, it's out of helplessness and frustration. It's as if he had let his unconscious take over. He says he has declared war, but he doesn't wage war directly against the men; he attacks the men's most prized possessions-their robust, well-fed women, their pink-and-white children. With Tommy Lewis as Jimmie, and Freddy Reynolds as laughing Mort, his aborigine half-brother, a loyal, easygoing bum in ragged tweeds who makes us understand what the Europeans have destroyed. This is a large-scale film-a visually impassioned epic.
Wednesday, June 4, 1986
Produced by Christine Suli. Brian Kavanagh. Directed by Kavanagh.
Cannes — Although the stage origins of Michael Gun's screenplay of "Departure" are fairly obvious, it doesn't detract from the basic plot of a scandal in high places revealed after a lapse of many years. It's an intriguing situation, somewhat verbose in its development, but strong on characterization. B.o. prospects outside Australia are problematical, partly due to the absence of names in the cast.Filmed on location in Hobart, capital of Tasmania, the central characters are a retired diplomat (Michael Duffield) and his wife, played by Patricia Kennedy. Having returned to their native Australia on retirement, they both get itchy feet and pack up to return to Rome, where he had served as ambassador. Their final weekend is to be spent with their son (Serge Lazareff) an aspiring politician, and their best friend (June Jago).The serene atmosphere is shattered when they are told the press has got hold of the details of a scandal in which the diplomat was involved way, way back, which ended in the death of a young girl, an incident which was hushed up by the authorities. There is mounting tension as the son fears his political ambitions are threatened, while the friend feels she has been betrayed.Brian Kavanagh's authorative direction succeeds in glossing over the stage origins of the subject,though there are hints in a measure of padding as when father and son go to a football game, and when the whole family visits a theater. Bob Kohler's color camera handsomely captures some of the scenic attractions of the location, and other credits are up to par.Good all-round performances by the four principals are a positive feature, with a standout job by Patricia Kennedy as the formidable and domineering wife and mother. Michael Duffield changes from smug contentment to serious concern when the scandal breaks, and Serge Lazareff, not playing a likable character, is forced to denounce his own father to save his own political skin. June Jago, the family's longtime friend, believes herself to have been shamed by the revelation, making the break with an emotional outburst. Lesser parts are adequately filled. — Myro.
AFI NOMINATION BEST EDITING
ODD ANGRY SHOT
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Based on William Nagle's acclaimed novel and faithfully adaptated to the screen by Tom Jeffrey in 1979, The Odd Angry Shot is a lively, humorous and heroic rites-of-passage story that follows a band of average Aussie blokes coping with the ups and downs of their tour of duty in Vietnam. They don't know why they're fighting an American war. It examines the mateship and camaraderie of Australian men through the dangers of combat and, playing like an Aussie version of M*A*S*H (also just released on DVD), it takes a typically jocular look at serious issues, with that sarcastic, sardonic, "she'll be right mate" Aussie wit never far away.
When it first screened in Melbourne in 1979, The Odd Angry Shot made an immediate impact. It opened to mixed reviews, and the public did not know what to make of what purported to be a serious war drama starring King of Television and all-round clown Graham Kennedy. More controversially, Sir Charles Court (then Premier of WA) canned a scheduled screening of the film for Prince Charles on his official visit to Perth, citing the film's offensive nudity and language. Now, as this seminal Aussie film comes to DVD, one can't help but wonder about its topical tagline: "The Australian look at an American experience." Very poignant.