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On Wednesday night the ABC screened the first episode of Hollowmen, the new series from the Working Dog team. Directed by Rob Sitch and written by Sitch, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner (but seemingly no Jane Kennedy?). Hopefully their previous production, Thank God You’re Here, is over with, because Hollowmen shows where the teams’ real strengths lie. The most obvious thing to say is that they’re now doing to politics what they did to current affairs programs with Frontline.
Before I spoil it for you, you can watch the entire episode for free here at the ABC website. (Update: Unfortunately you can only watch the latest episode from the ABC site. You could probably find a torrent for earlier episodes if you search on Google, but that would be wrong.)
I’m currently reading David Stratton’s autobiography, “I Peed on Fellini”. His life doesn’t really seem that exciting (apparently on the advice of friends, he took out most of the sex. I’m not sure whether I should be annoyed or grateful) and his descriptions of his interactions with the great directors of previous eras, beyond the titular incident, haven’t yet gone passed the depth of “I met Godard, we talked briefly”, which is a real shame. What’s the opinion of Stratton as to how the personalities of the directors he met affected the films they made? It would have been nice to know.
What is interesting is seeing the growth of the Sydney Film Festival, which he directed for 17 years, and his fights against censorship. Before his protests censorship was simply seen as the norm in Australia, and the changes he brought about helped get Australia out of the middle-ages mentality it was in. Previously, festival audiences weren’t even informed that cuts had been made, something that sounds completely ridiculous now.
Check out this story from the book that highlights just how silly the censors were (and probably still are) about screening Luchino Visconti’s film “Sandra” to the censorship board:
Although I hadn’t seen Sandra I knew its content and I was rather nervous because I hadn’t included in the synopsis, which I was obliged to send to the censors’ office prior to the screening, the fact that incest was involved. At the climax of the film, a brother and sister (played by Claudia Cardinale and Jean Sorel) engaged in discreet sex (just off-screen) on a woollen rug in front of a blazing fire in a sequence well in keeping with Visconti’s operatic modern take on Greek mythology. How would Prowse and his colleagues react to the incest scene, even though it was very tactfully presented? I soon found out. After the screening, Prowse took me to one side ‘You film festival people are a strange lot,’ he said. ‘You like films no-one else can understand. Didn’t you find that confusing? I thought, at the beginning, they were brother and sister.’ The film was passed, without cuts.
Whenever I hear about an Australian film, there’s a part of me that has already decided that it probably isn’t any good. I know I’m not alone in this, but where does this cultural cringe arise?
Perhaps it’s all in the accent. Since we’re so used to hearing American accents as the norm in films, hearing one of our own on the big screen feels unnatural. It goes further than the accent, however, and can be virtually anything that is uniquely Australian that sets off the cringe. Perhaps the pervasiveness of Hollywood has skewed our perspective about what is “real” in a cinema. A movie is set in its own world of make-believe, and when an Australian begins talking with an accent we recognize from reality, the make believe and real worlds clash and it just doesn’t seem right, and then we’re cringing.
Or are the films themselves to blame? It’s seems like this debate has been going on since the beginning of time. Why can’t our films compete with Hollywood? Is it the Governments fault for not funding the right movies, or our own fault for just making garbage?
The film critic Ray Carney has a great website with over 100 pages of emails around replies about Cassavetes, film and art. He just started updating the site after a long enforced hiatus, but he’s back now and he makes you think.
Check this quote out: (more…)
Behind all that weirdness there’s a really perceptive guy. Pay special attention about four minutes in.
Below is a post made on the myspace blog of a guy in a University class of mine, after a discussion I had with him and a couple of others, most of whom were on his side. Following that is the response I made. It’s all pretty funny.
I’m sorry that I’m not continuing on with my all-time top five, but there is a new issue that must be addressed!
Today I met a force darker than the devil. Darker than the Sith and sure as shit blacker than Walt Disney and Charlton Heston’s COLD DEAD HEARTS COMBINED!His name… well, I didn’t bother to ask. Put simply – he’s a fucking douche.
As I sat in Performing for Screen with my group I overheard a conversation going on behind me. A conversation about Australian cinema. An issue all my readers, and indeed all my friends know I’m quite outspoken about.
The conversation was between some guy – the douche – and Piotr Wasilewski, one of my partners in crime.