Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Hacksaw Ridge – **(*)

Posted: March 14, 2017 in 2016, Action, Australia, War, WW2, XX1/2

A member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (some kind of evangelical group) enlists to help out in World War II, but refuses to carry a gun as he refuses to kill anybody. He enlists as a medic as he wants to save lives, but he needs to go through a training in which shooting a riffle is part of the program. It’s a tough training and he nearly doesn’t make it to the battle fields, but when he does, he’s heralded by his bravery. Because it’s possible to help, save and serve in war times without killing.

This Mel Gibson movie starts off slowly, but is quite powerful in the second half, during the actual taking of Hackswaw Ridge on Okinawa Island near Japan. It’s an interesting story regardless if you think it’s extremely silly or incredibly brave to enlist for war and refuse to  use a weapon . It’s based on a true story. But it’s of course a fictionalized version of it. To learn more about the real Desmond Doss, check this history vs hollywood site. But do it after you’ve experienced the movie.

Some critics call it christian propaganda. Just because the main character acts out of faith, prays and carries a bible with him. But Mel Gibson (a notorious catholic) never glorifies the religion conviction. He just shows a man who is very firm in his principles. Which again can be interpreted as silly or brave. But at least it isn’t negative.

The action is hardcore though. Limbs fly around. Some scenes can be considered horror. So it isn’t for the weak at heart. Nor is it for people who think Andrew Garfield is an overrated actor. In fact, the whole cast are just okay performers. There’s not one performance that sticks. But it’s a good war movie. A tad too long maybe.  But worth watching.


There are quite a lot of things that annoy a bit in this Australian blockbuster. But there are far more elements that make this a great movie experience though.

The best is the performance of the most charming child actor in movie history! Sunny Pawar is the star of the movie even though he’s not really featured in the trailer! He’s the young Indian kid who, for the first half hour steals the show. His character is a petite five year old kid who gets separated from his family after falling asleep in a train that takes him away more than 1500 miles from his village. Months after arriving in the hustle and bustle of Calcutta he ends up in an orphanage and ultimately ends up being adopted by a couple from Tasmania.

Then the second half starts and the young adorable Indian kid has become someone who looks like Dev Patel with long hair. That is because Dev Patel plays the part wearing long hair. That transition is one of the annoying parts. You want to see Farhan Akhtar or so, not the annoying guy from the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. 

The adopted kid has become a man who, after a suggestion from a new friend, decides to use Google Earth to locate the train station from where he stepped on the train that took him away from his family. A journey, which is only half as interesting as the first part of the movie.

First half: **** Second half: **

But that Sunny Pawar kid! Amazing! To use a one of Trump’s most favorite words. It’s 2017 after all. The career of that child will be huge/tremendous/terrific.

Tanna – ***

Posted: August 29, 2016 in 2015, Australia, Drama, Romance, XXX

“Avoid spending 3000 euro to visit Vanuatu and buy yourself a 10 euro cinema ticket!”

It’s great advice from a local movie critic.

Tanna is an island of Vanuatu, an island group in the Pacific Ocean not so far from Fiji. Its people are known as the ‘happiest on earth’, but this movie shows a different aspect. Back in the late eighties there were still some rival tribes killing each other, while on the rest of the island christian villages tried to convert locals and colonizers started to build resorts. The story of Tanna is set in that period.

A young woman, Wawa, is secretly in love with Dain, the grandson of the Yakel Chief. They already plan a future together, but Wawa is promised to a rival tribe in order to remain the peace on the island. Something Dain cannot accept…

The movie is advertised as an exotic romantic drama, but it’s really more of a fictional documentary about the customs of a native tribe that needs to come to terms with a changing world. The cinematography is beautiful. The jungle actually looks like a jungle because it’s filmed on location and not created on a computer. This is a great plus. The acting is done by the local tribe members, who have no experience at all and just act really natural. (Some of the cast have appeared in reality tv shows that bring people from the west to survive in tribal life across the world) But they are a charming bunch of people and their natural beauty and honesty is moving. The big star of the movie is the young Marceline Rofit (who plays Selin, Wawa’s younger sister). Her captivating smile is the kind you find on tourist brochures luring westerners to visit the islands. There’s a little bit of voyeurism though, but it’s not patronizing. There’s some humor as well and it makes you realize that it’s a tough call to adapt to a new world and hold on to the past.

Saving for a plane ticket to Vanuatu though…

Back in 1982 Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson starred in a political drama set in 1965’s Indonesia. She works at the British embassy and he’s a rookie foreign correspondent from Sydney. They meet, fall in love and have an adventurous affair in a poor country on the brink of a civil war.

There are some really cool elements in this eighties semi-classic. It helps when you see this while visiting Indonesia (pleading guilty here). You get to learn ’something’ about the turbulent history of this fascinating country and there are all kind of references to its culture. It starts with a scene in which the famous shadow playing puppet theatre is explained. It refers to the way the then president had to find a balance between the right and the left in his country, between rich and poor and (to a lesser extent) between Muslims and non Muslims. It also refers to the relationship between the main characters who are pushed to meet each other by an odd storyteller/puppet player.

The latter is a small cameraman with a distinct look and way of talking. The character is played by a woman (Linda Hunt, who won an Oscar for the part), but in all fairness, the performance is silly and absurd. The storytelling element adds a little bit to the mystical atmosphere, but it could have easily been done by an Indonesian character.

Weaver and Gibson however are a treat to look at. Their chemistry is excellent! They should make another movie together soon! Another year of living dangerously…

Mad Max: Fury Road truly is an experience not to be missed. Sure, it’s an apocalyptic science fiction movie – not exactly something to look forward to –  with a simplistic escape story, little dialogue and a lot of sand dust, but more important: it’s a non stop action movie that never ever bores. There is that one second between a breeder and a war boy where you think ‘oh no, they are not going to add romance!’, but by the thought of ‘romance’ you’re already absorbed into another great action sequence.

The action is impeccable and original. Some army generals should consult George Miller for some new attack strategies. The directing by Miller is excellent. The cinematography and editing as well. Even the soundtrack is a blast. Literally. Escorting the attack, a war vehicle is composed of young slaves beating drums and a guitarist playing heavy riffs in front of it. There’s one scene in which that vehicle is attacked, that makes you want to watch this movie in 3D. In fact, maybe this movie is worth the extra cost for the 3D experience. The whole movie looks like a long Slipknot videoclip.

If you have no idea what breeders and war boys look like, just check the trailer to get an impression. The blockbuster has little to do with the trilogy from the early 80’s with Mel Gibson. In fact, the main character isn’t so much Mad Max (Tom Hardy) but Furiosa (Charlize Theron). She’s liberating a few women from an evil lord who controls the water in a desert landscape and tries to get them to her oasis birthplace. The acting and the story lines are minimal, so don’t expect anything amazing there, but if you want non stop action without boring character development scenes or unfunny comical breaks, than this is the best you’ll get!

P.N.G. Style – ***

Posted: December 9, 2014 in 2010, Adventure, Australia, Documentary, XXX

Australian adventurer David Fedele went on a three-month journey to the (most likely) least explored country in the world: Papua New Guinea. His footage was edited in a nice travelog to give the viewer an escapism experience that doesn’t show the bad, violent reputation of the country, nor the polished tourist brochure version, but the reality.

It’s an incredibly well-balanced and positive tale of a guy who just observes, interacts with respect and shares his experiences without being cocky at all. Sure, it’s filmed with a small camera and it’s not a real documentary, but it was selected to be shown in several festivals around the world, so it’s worthy of an entry on here.

You can watch it here: P.N.G. Style from David Fedele on Vimeo.

Tracks – *(*)

Posted: December 3, 2014 in 2013, Adventure, Australia, Drama, X1/2

A woman decides to walk across the Australian dessert from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean with a dog and four dromedaries. Her father did a similar thing in the Kalahari dessert and since she’s an orphan and doesn’t have that many friends, maybe this is what she just has to do. Before embarking on her journey she works for several months at two camel farms and by chance she meets a photojournalist who agrees to help her during the trip.

This all happened in the seventies. National Geographic put her on the cover of their magazine. And so forty years later, someone thought it was a good idea to make a movie about it. If people went to see Into The Wild and made it quite successful, maybe they wanted to watch this character leave society behind and face nature on her own.

Unfortunately nothing really happens during her trip. Sure, she gets attacked by wild camels. Some disrespectful tourists take pictures of her. She loses her compass and encounters aboriginals. There’s no drama, no excitement, no real enthusiasm, no humor, no action, no horror. There’s just vast landscapes of desolate areas with an actress, so convincingly uninteresting, that if you start watching the movie being tired, you’ll fall asleep within half an hour. The best performance comes from the large male dromedary who at one time in his career was the voice of Wookie in Star Wars. A kangaroo gets shot, a hare gets grilled on the fire, the dog dies… But I guess no animal got harmed during the shooting of the picture. The soundtrack is really good though!