High Ground – Movie Review

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

High Ground. Image Credit Madman Films.

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.

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Penguin Bloom – Movie Review

TL;DR – A beautifully charming film that will make you feel a lot of emotions    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Penguin Bloom. Image Credit: Roadshow Films.

Penguin Bloom Review

You may have many fears, some might be more obvious like spiders or heights, but others are deeper down like what if you were in a crash and became paralysed. This fear is at the heart of the film we are looking at today as we see the aftereffects of this profound change.

So to set the scene, we open with Noah Bloom (Griffin Murray-Johnston) giving a rundown of his life. It is full of living on the beach, going for a surf, and making honey as a family. However, on a fateful trip to Thailand, Sam Bloom (Naomi Watts), her husband Cameron (Andrew Lincoln), and their three kids Noah, Rueben (Felix Cameron), and Oli (Abe Clifford-Barr) were climbing up to the top of a building to get a look of the view. However, when Sam leans on a fence, some rotten wood gives way, and she falls over the edge to the concrete below. Back at home, Sam is trying to adjust to her life in a wheelchair, but as Noah is down the beach, he finds a magpie chick that had fallen out of a nest who they take home and call Penguin.

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Occupation: Rainfall – Movie Review

TL;DR – A sequel that improves on the first in every way, full of action, and a ride from the start till finish

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Occupation: Rainfall. Image Credit: Monster Films.

Occupation: Rainfall Review

A couple of years ago, I got to see this little Australian Science Fiction which was punching far above its weight. It was a movie filmed on a minuscule budget that did more with that budget than those with a much larger purse. It was a good representation of an alien invasion film, and full of some great action set pieces. So it was great to see that it was getting a sequel, and I am glad to say it improves on the first film in every way.       

In the years since the first film Occupation, the resistance movement has fought from the hillside towns and villages down to Sydney’s heart. It is a war of attrition and small hit-and-run operations, trying to take the city back one small section at a time. For Matt Simmons (Dan Ewing), this is a battle of zero compromises because it is a fight for their lives. But for Amelia Chambers (Jet Tranter), she is trying to find a diplomatic answer or try to find a cooperative way to work with the other subjugated aliens. However, when Wing Commander Hayes (Daniel Gillies) calls a retreat, and all hope seems lost, a rumour about a new weapon called Rainfall starts to spread. Rainfall could be their one hope, or humanities final downfall.

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Awards – The of Best of Australian Cinema in 2020

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.  

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The Dry – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that captivates you in the first frame and never lets you go throughout the runtime.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

The Dry. Image Credit: Roadshow Films.

The Dry Review

The murder-mystery who-done-it genre is one that can captivate me as we see the mystery unfold or frustrate me as the film throws in silly narrative choices to pad out the run time. Today we get to look at a movie that does the first as it brings you into this world and does not let you go until the end.

So to set the scene, we open with long pans over a dry and parched landscape full of dust and brown. When in the background we can hear a baby crying, we see it in its crib, but something is amiss and as the camera pans out there is blood everywhere. A couple of weeks later we are in Melbourne where we discover there has been a murder-suicide with a father killing his wife and son but leaving the baby behind. Aaron Falk (Eric Bana) is now an investigator for the Federal Police, but he grew up in the town and knew the husband Luke (Martin Dingle Wall) as they were childhood friends. A letter compels him to return for the funeral, but coming back to town is harder for Aaron because of his past and the suspicious death of one of his friends that caused him and his family to flee all those years ago.   

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True History of the Kelly Gang – Movie Review

TL;DR – A visually stunning film that unfortunately left me feeling hollow at the

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Warning – Contains significant strobe lighting

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Awards

Nominated: Best Australian Film

True History of the Kelly Gang. Image Credit: Stan.

True History of the Kelly Gang Review

Well, there are many aspects of Australian life I just don’t get, and one of those is the veneration of Ned Kelly. But then it does have the distinction of being the subject of the first feature film ever made. Today we look at a movie that explores the life of Ned Kelly, the true story of the bushranger … well maybe not the whole truth …or even a little bit of it.

So to set the scene, in 1867 Australia, and a young Ned Kelly (Orlando Schwerdt) is trying to find his place in a rural world with no education and a mother Ellen (Essie Davis) with an ‘interesting’ view of raising children. She sells the boy to  Harry Power (Russell Crowe) a bushranger who introduces the boy to the violent world, including shooting Sergeant O’Neill (Charlie Hunnam) a member of the constabulary. After spending time in jail and away from his family Ned (George MacKay) returns home and gets brought back into the world he once escaped.

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A Sunburnt Christmas – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that walks the line between charming and serious like a professional.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Awards

Nominated: Best Australian Film & Most Fun.

A Sunburnt Christmas. Image Credit: Stan.

A Sunburnt Christmas Review

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.

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Marital Problems – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film full of awful people being awful to each other   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Marital Problems. Image Credit: Reel Merit Films.

Marital Problems Review

Some films have a very grand scope darting from place to place, or even planet to planet. Then there is those film that are more intimate, sometimes staying in the same location for the entire runtime. Both of these approaches can work for your narrative if you structure them well. Today we look at a film that follows the later, in a world that may not be what it first seems.

So to set the scene, we open in on Ian (Callum Gault) as he lies in bed nursing one hell of a hangover when a bang on the front door wakes him from his stupor. At the front door, is McManus (Neil Goldsmith) a handyman who is here to fix the place up for the landlord Devon (Jonathan Hearns). Why is the home being fixed up, well, Ian has not been playing the rent, and he is about to get kicked out. It is at this moment of despair when an agent of chaos appears in the form of Clarke (Nick Capper).

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Dirt Music – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film with an interesting cast and set up, filled with gorgeous scenery, that unfortunately grinds to a halt in the third act and never recovers.     

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Dirt Music. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Dirt Music Review

When you are Tim Winton one of Australia’s most prolific and awarded writers, it stands to reason that your work is going to be adapted quite often, and we have numerous film and tv series to back that up. Two years ago, we reviewed the latest adaption from Tim Winton’s work with Breath, and today we get to look at another of his novels with Dirt Music

So to set the scene, we open in on the small fishing town of White Point on the West Australian coast. We see a woman called Georgie (Kelly Macdonald) with a drink in her hand standing on the balcony of a plush house up behind the dunes. She hears a dog barking, so goes down to the beach to explore, which is where she finds a dog tied to an empty boat trailer. After accidentally letting the dog go free she decides to go for a swim in the middle of the night, as one does apparently, and while diving in the waves, she comes across the boat’s owner Lu Fox (Garrett Hedlund) coming back with a boat full of poached lobsters. The same lobsters Georgie’s partner Jim (David Wenham) catches for a living.

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Romance on the Menu – Movie Review

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. Image Credit: Netflix.

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.     

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