Posts Tagged ‘Australian Arthouse’

Long Weekend (1975) BFI player

Dir: Colin Eggleston | Writer: Everett De Roche  | Cast: Briony Behets, John Hargreaves | Horror | 97′

Long Weekend literally shouts 1978 in a garish aesthetic, tinkly soundtrack and flared trousered kind of way. But it could also be classed as an Avantgarde eco-thriller. Not up there with Wake in Fright but thrilling as Australian cult horror films go (and kangaroo kills are also included, not to mention glorious seascapes).

It sees a miserably unhappy couple head off for a doomed few days on the beach – or at least that’s the plan. Early on in the journey they hit a kangaroo who is dazed by the headlights, and this roadkill seems like a metaphor for the death of their love life. As they venture deeper and deeper into the outback, a supernatural element rears its head through strange exotic sounds in the forest. Come morning though things are looking more positive and they manage a pre-breakfast kiss on the idyllic seashore.

But the primeval forces of Nature are not far away (thanks to an eerie soundscape and a repetitive Hammond organ chord motif, set to vibrato). It feels like Nature will get them in the end, if they continue to catch fish, use insecticide and shoot every bird in sight – and these events are over-laden with symbolism, signalling  the impending doom. And to be fair, Peter gets his just desserts – he’s a pretty base individual who doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for his gorgeous girlfriend (a dazzling Briony Behets), or the local flora and fauna, which he destroys with alarming frequency (even by 1970s standards). Peter’s a latent misogynist (a brash John Hargreaves) and Marcia’s dislike of camping and loss of sex drive makes things unfeasible, particularly as she is depressed and mourning an unwanted abortion. They finally decide to hit the road after he gets bitten by a possum. But things go from bad to worse, and their conversation is scintillating: “You should have married your mother!” –  she says. He replie”but you’ve got better tits”.  Fun doesn’t even begin to cover to it!. MT



Snowtown (2011) **** LFF 2011

Dir: Justin Kurzel | Cast: Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall | Score: Jed Kurzel | 120mins Australia

Serial killer John Bunting is currently serving 11 life sentences for crimes that took place in Snowtown near Adelaide during the late nineties.  This haunting and at times unwatchable film grips with a palpable sense of foreboding made all the more sinister by Jed Kurzel’s menacing soundtrack that heightens the tension throughout with pavlovian effect. The story plays out through the eyes of Jamie (Lucas Pittaway)  He’s a sensitive teenager living with his single mum and brothers in a poor community riddled with crime, violence and suspicion and makes ideal prey for Bunting.  James longs for a better life but is drawn to the controlling but charismatic father figure of Bunting.


Daniel Henshall, brilliantly cast here as Bunting, is a highly manipulative sociopath masquerading as a self-styled vigilante.  Mixing freely in this sad town of social misfits from paedophiles to the mentally ill,  he gains the support of Jamie by purporting to stand up for him.  Other locals are gradually coralled into this social circle and take part in the killings believing that they are justified in ridding society of its evil elements. Bunting’s real agenda is to control and steal their benefits. This sinister feature is a remarkable directorial debut for Justin Kurzel and one of the most disturbing and shocking films of 2011. MT

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