TL;DR – This is a delightful documentary exploring a world that hits a deep nostalgic note for me.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Disclosure – I watched this on ABC IView
Chopsticks Or Fork? Review –
Tonight I was looking for something to watch as I ate my dinner, and in a world of streaming where you have so much choice, it is almost paralysing at times just to pick one thing. But as I sat there with all those windows open, there was this moment when a documentary series about rural Chinese restaurants in Australia appeared, and it intrigued me. Now that I have watched every episode, I can tell you that this was the right choice.
So to set the scene, the premise of this show is that presenter Jennifer Wong and the crew, including director Lin Jie Kong, travel to rural towns in Australia to look at the Chinese Restaurants that take up a focal point in these communities. Here we get a show that is a part travel show, part food exploration, and part look at the intersections of culture these restaurants make. We get these stories and more as we meet six different families from restaurants across Australia from The New Bo Wa in Moree, Raymond’s at Malua Bay, Oriental Palace in Hervey Bay, Pagoda Chinese Restaurant in Atherton, Gawler Palace & Happy Garden in Darwin.
TL;DR – This is a show with a lot of potential that would have worked a lot better had it not stumbled in critical places.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this series.
Pacific Rim: The Black Review –
When you hear that there will be an American Animation TV Series, done in the style of a Japanese Anime, based in the Pacific Rim universe, and then set in Australia, well, that is an exciting combination if I have ever heard it. Good or bad, you want to see how it works. With that in mind, let’s dive into this fascinating if flawed world.
So to set the scene, we open in the days after chaos erupts across Australia as rifts open up the centre of the continent. After a valiant fight, it becomes clear that Australia is lost, and the call to evacuate is put out. Everyone had five days to reach Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, or Sydney. While trying to help with the evacuation, one Jager team stays back to stop the Kaijus because their children had yet to leave. They tried to get to the evac point, but they were too late. Instead, they took the group of civilians back to their home base Shadow Basin which was also destroyed. The parents left everyone behind in an oasis and leave to go to the coast to get help. Five years later, Hayley (Gideon Adlon) and Taylor (Calum Worthy) have a fractured relationship as their parents never returned. However, one day Hayley fell down a metal hole and discovers that not all of Shadow Basin was destroyed, with the Atlas Destroyer Jaeger and its AI Loa (Erica Lindbeck) still there. But that discovery becomes a beacon for all the danger in the world. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
TL;DR – A challenging and confronting film exploring a part of Australia’s history that we don’t like to talk about.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid to see this film.
High Ground Review –
When I was growing up, every year at school we looked at the explorers that charted the coast, then the first fleet, finally the early penal colonies, and then we skip forward to Federation. At no time did we talk about the people who lived in the land before the colonists arrived, nor did we explore what happened to them as colonisation swept across the nation. The period known as the Frontier Wars was a bloody conflict about removing people from their land. In today’s review, we look at a film that explores this part of Australia’s history and all the ugliness that comes with it.
So to set the scene, in 1919 in Arnhem Land Australia, Gutjuk (Guruwuk Mununggurr) is being taught the dances of his people by his uncle Baywara (Mark Garrawurra) when they stumble across two men fleeing from troopers. They were accused of killing a cow, and they are allowed to stay the night, but then they must move on. However, before than can happen, the troopers arrive at the camp, but with a plan to discuss things peacefully. They were to move in as a group and announce their arrival. They brought the local priest Braddock (Ryan Corr) to help translate and if all went wrong the commander of the troop Travis (Simon Baker) was on the high ground overlooking the settlement and could fire down if needed. Well, that was the plan, but as Travis watches the group splits up, chooses to sneak up on the group, and ignore his command that only Travis can fire first. It is a recipe for disaster, and disaster is what occurs.
It was a fantastic year for Australian Cinema, with each film I saw knocking it out of the park. There were intimate documentaries, films that held up a mirror to society, and those that brought the action to a new level.
This list will be looking more at the locally made Australian productions/co-productions and not just films filmed in Australia.
So without further ado, these are the best of Australian Cinema in 2020. Be warned that there will be some big spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banner to go to the full reviews.
When you have worked a long time in retail, it is difficult to ‘get into the Christmas Spirit’. Which does sort of extend into those classic Christmas films. But enough time has passed to dive back in maybe, and well where best to start is the new Christmas film on Stan.
So to set the scene, we open in a hospital as a man is brought in for surgery. We find out that he is a prisoner and that he is considered dangerous. A little time later, Daryl (Daniel Henshall) tricks the local hospital Santa (Alirio Zavarce) and escapes just before the illusive Dingo (Sullivan Stapleton) arrived to kill him. Running in the Santa’s truck, he crashes into the farm of Hazel (Tatiana Goode), Tom (Eadan McGuinness), and Daisy (Lena Nankivell). He pretends to be Santa to Tom and Daisy, in the attempt to find his ‘sack’ (full of stolen money) that is buried on the farm somewhere.
TL;DR – There are moments when this film comes together. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Romance on the Menu Review –
Do long lost relatives ever give you a call to adventure in their wills, no you neither? Well, it does seem to be a ubiquitous plot point in films. Today we explore a movie that as fate would have it has that very set up, that takes our protagonist from the hustle and bustle of New York to the calm of Australia.
So to set the scene, Caroline (Cindy Busby) works as a professional chef running a kitchen of a fine dining restaurant. The one day she took off they had a food critic come and blast the food, so she spends all her time trying to make up for that. Caroline does not have any time for love because she is too busy. However, out of the blue, Caroline receives a letter from Australia, her late aunt had left Caroline her old café in Lemon Myrtle Cove. When Caroline arrives to look over the café to get it ready to sell, she makes a fool of herself in front of Simon Cook (Tim Ross) who is both her landlord and also the cook of The Seagull Café, and yes our love interest. Well, Caroline’s plan of finishing the sale as quickly as possible is put in jeopardy when no one will renovate the café to let her sell it, so she has to take drastic measures to keep to her timeline.
Growing up in Australia, even if you might not know who Slim Dusty is or even if just the name rings a bell, you will still know a bunch of his songs, even if it is only through osmosis. Songs like A Pub With No Beer and Duncan sit in the pantheon of Australian music, and you probably started humming at least one of those tunes to yourself just with the mere mention of the name. However, I must confess that I didn’t really know much about his life beyond those touchstone moments and even less about Joy McKean, the I in Slim and I and the main focus of the documentary.
The documentary follows a (mostly) chronological look at the lives of Joy McKean and Slim Dusty’s from their start in music through to today. We get to see them go on these gigantic Australia wide tours, raise a family on the road, and also write at least two albums a year which might be the most bonkers part of the entire process. Indeed, over their 50-year love story, they wrote at least 107 albums which is frankly ridiculous. They show this story with a mix of interviews with both Slim and Joy’s family but also with key members of Australia’s Country Music scene like Keith Urban, Missy Higgins and Kasey Chambers. As well as this, we get archive footage going back to the 60s, both professionally shot and also just from home cameras. There is such a varied amount of footage that someone had to be well ahead of the curve in adopting that technology and preserving it all these years.
It was an amazing year for Australian Cinema, with each film I saw knocking it out of the park. There were intimate documentaries, films that held up a mirror to society, and those that brought the action to a new level. In this list, we will be looking more at the locally made Australian productions/co-productions and not films filmed in Australia.
So without further ado, these are the best of Australian Cinema in 2019. Be warned that there will be some big spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banner to go to the full reviews.
TL;DR – The Australian Dream is a film that I think every Australian should watch because it holds up a mirror to Australian society and we need to be ready for what it shows.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
I thought when I sat down to see The
Australian Dream that I was ready for what I was going to see. I was a
fool. This might be the most important film I have seen all year because it
shines the light on an episode that many in Australia feel more than content to
sweep under the rug because to do otherwise would mean confronting our history,
our way of life, and our commitment to all Australians.
At its core The Australian Dream
tells the story of Adam Goodes former Australian of the Year and one of the best
Australian Rules Footballers (AFL) to have ever played the game. It is the
story of his life, the highs and the lows. However, it is something more than
that, it is using the biography to focus in on a problem Australia has had for
the last two-hundred odd years and that is how it has dealt with its Indigenous
people and well there is a reason that Indigenous Australians call Australia
Day, Invasion Day.
TL;DR – Continues one of the
best Aussie pilots I have seen in a while by taking everything up a notch.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Last week I kind of stumbled upon a new gem in Australian TV with the show Les Norton that immediately stamped its presence in the media landscape. It was brash, it was funny, it also was a little absurd at times all while a friendly narrator (Angus Sampson) told us how bad poor old Les (Alexander Bertrand) was doing. However, getting out of the gate is one thing, but can you keep running the race, well that is a different question that we will try to find the answer today as we politely ignore why a horse racing metaphor is an apt description.
So to set the scene, in last week’s You Wouldn’t Be Dead For Quids, Les inadvertently helped cover up the murder of a local brothel madam Doreen Bognor (Rebel Wilson) by filling up a foundation at a new handball court for his boss Price Galese (David Wenham). All well and good, well sorry no, just one small problem, local muscle and slightly off quilter bodyguard Eddie Salita (Justin Rosniak) accidentally dropped his boss’ keys, for his expensive car, in the concrete with all that incriminating evidence. Well at least nothing else can go wrong, but wait what is that strapped to the engine of Price’s car. From here we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there may be [SPOILERS] ahead.