THE INVISIBLE WOMAN

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Ralph Fiennes

Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander, Joanna Scanlan, John Kavanagh, Michelle Fairley, Tom Burke, Perdita Weeks, Joseph Paxton.

A tale of two women?

Based on the 1990 biographical book written by Claire Tomalin, The Invisible Woman tells the little known story of a torrid but clandestine affair that the celebrated author Charles Dickens had with a much younger aspiring actress in the 1850s. Dickens was then one of the most famous writers in the world, recognised wherever he went, and treated almost like a Victorian era rock star. He was also married and was the father of ten children. Given the frigid morality of the era, and his reputation, Dickens tried to keep the 12 year relationship a secret, hence the title. But given that Dickens supposedly burnt most of his correspondence there is little substantial evidence to support much of the speculation in the film.

The screenplay has been written by Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame, Brick Lane, etc). The film opens in 1883, when the adult Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones) is working as a teacher at a boys’ school in Margate, and is rehearsing her drama students in a production of The Frozen Deep, a play written by Dickens in collaboration with fellow author Wilkie Collins (Tom Hollander). This evokes unsettling memories for Nelly as she recalls her affair with Dickens, a romance that supposedly informed some of his famous works, Great Expectations in particular. Dickens is thought to have based many of his female characters on Ternan.

The film unfolds largely in a series of flashbacks that take us back in time to 1857, when Dickens (played by Ralph Fiennes) was at the peak of his popularity. At a performance at London’s Haymarket Theatre, Dickens initially met the Ternan sisters, who were aspiring actresses. The youngest was Nelly (Jones), and she was immediately star struck by the charismatic Dickens. The attraction was obvious, and although Nelly’s mother Frances (Kristin Scott Thomas) seemed disapproving on the surface she seemed to tacitly encourage the affair. Dickens had grown bored with his wife who lacked his vitality and energy, and took advantage of the naive young Nelly and her obsession. Nelly was passionate about the arts and literature, and her keen intellect also attracted Dickens. But his insistence on keeping the affair a secret for fear of scandal took its toll. Nelly couldn’t really handle his emotional cruelty, but nonetheless, the affair continued until his death.

Despite the intriguing nature of the story, The Invisible Woman turns out to be a rather dull and plodding period piece and a bleak tale of a tragic romance. The Invisible Woman makes for a surprisingly passionless romance and dreary drama that will not appeal to a broad audience. This story about the secret love affair between Dickens and Ternan was previously told in the 2002 BBC docudrama Dickens, and in  Dickens’ Secret Lover, a 2008 documentary made for British television, with David Haig as the famous author.

The film has been directed by Fiennes himself, who made his debut as a director with Coriolanus, a rather full blooded take on one of Shakespeare’s lesser known works. But here his direction is less robust and surprisingly restrained, but it seems to suit the material and the restrictive nature of its Victorian era setting. He does capture that frigid morality of the time, and the film bristles with a subtle eroticism. But he also keeps us at an emotional distance.

As an actor of great range himself, Fiennes seems to know how to draw solid performances from his cast. He taps into Dickens’ complex and flawed personality and explores the dichotomy of the character, delivering a rather unflattering portrait of the artist as a selfish and egotistical genius who thrived on public adulation.

Jones (from Chalet Girl, etc) is a revelation as the naive young Nelly, the shadowy woman in Dickens’ life, who grows in strength and maturity as the film progresses. She delivers a strong and nuanced performance as a vulnerable young woman coming into her own in society, and it is a gut wrenching and moving performance. Ironically, Jones previously worked with Fiennes on the drama Cemetery Junction, in which he played her father.

Thomas (who previously appeared opposite Fiennes in the multi-Oscar winning romantic drama The English Patient), is normally a strong and compelling actress who always delivers strong and credible performances, but here she is given little to do in a largely one dimensional role. Joanna Scanlan (Notes On A Scandal, etc) is effective, moving and sympathetic as Dickens’ long suffering wife, who is treated rather appallingly by the author. Dickens eventually divorced her in 1858. And Hollander (from Pirates Of The Caribbean, etc) brings a welcome touch of humour that lightens the dark nature of the drama.

The film is beautifully crafted and Fiennes’ attention to period detail is also excellent. His top notch production crew have achieved a sense of authenticity. Maria Djurkovic’s production design captures the look and feel of the drawing rooms of the upper classes in Victorian London, while Michael O’Connor’s costumes are vibrant and colourful, a nice contrast to the dour and bleak story. The film has been gorgeously shot by ace cinematographer Rob Hardy (Broken, Boy A, etc), who uses natural lighting where possible for the interior scenes. The super opening shot of a woman striding across a white, pristine beach evokes memories of The Piano.

There have also been quite a few films exploring the doomed relationship between an artist and a younger woman cum muse (Manhattan, Moulin Rouge, etc). While this period drama about this little known aspect of Dickens’ life carried great expectations it ultimately fails to deliver.

★★☆

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I LUV U BUT… season 2 interview with Fadia Aboud

by GREG KING

Ground-breaking web series, I LUV U BUT… is launching its second season online at www.iluvubut.tv with the first of ten episodes dropping on Tuesday 6 May, 2014.

Heartfelt and humorous, I LUV U BUT… follows the lives of Mouna and Sam, a young Arab-Australian husband and wife who are both gay but living in a marriage of convenience. Due to the traditions of their Lebanese heritage, coming out as gay to their parents, siblings and extended family, is simply not an option. Thus, they live a lie but they live life to the fullest!

The first season attracted fans worldwide, reaching out to LGBTIQ communities across the globe especially in countries where homosexuality is illegal.

Season one of I LUV U BUT… was nominated for Most Engaging YouTube Channel in Lebanon’s Social Media Awards in 2013, and achieved high viewership in other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Shot on location around Sydney’s Inner West and western suburbs, the second season of I LUV U BUT… explores themes ranging from family pressure to have children, safe sex, and rebound relationships, to orgy etiquette, homophobia, gay stereotyping, open relationships and the damaging power of gossip.

Writer/director, Fadia Abboud said, “I wanted to make season two of I LUV U BUT… because so many people enjoyed season one, it reflected a subculture that is rarely seen and often misunderstood.”

Fans will be delighted to learn that all the stars of season one are returning, including leads Abbey Aziz as Mouna, George El Hindi as Sam, Alissar Gazal as Mouna’s mother and Rose Souaid as Sam’s mother. Season two can also boast special guest appearances from renowned performer Paul Capsis and well-known figures on Sydney’s gay scene, Rhys Bobridge and Neil Singleton.

Paul Capsis praised the webseries, saying “It’s about time we had honest storytelling that truly reflects who we really are in Australia and doesn’t perpetuate a fantasy… also, it’s hilarious!”

Produced by Megan McMurchy and written by Fadia Abboud and Peter Polites, I LUV U BUT… is a Suitcase Films production funded by Screen Australia under its Multi-Platform Drama Production initiative, with additional funding provided by Information and Cultural Exchange Inc. (ICE) and Club Arak.

For his Movies At Dusk program on 3WBC 94.1FM, Greg spoke to writer and producer Fadia Aboud about what we can expect from season 2 of the webseries I Luv U But..

https://flic.kr/p/n5wvrD

to hear the interview click on the link below

http://www.mediafire.com/listen/tny888gx558focu/190404_002.MP3

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THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2: RISE OF ELECTRO

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Marc Webb

Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Marton Csokas, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Chris Cooper, Denis Leary, Colm Feore, Stan Lee, Max Charles, Sarah Gadon, B J Novak.

Sony’s reboot of the Spiderman franchise a couple of years ago essentially gave us a rather redundant reminder of the superhero’s backstory, again telling us how a mild mannered teenager was bitten by a radioactive spider and given superpowers. But with the superb Sam Raimi trilogy still fresh in our minds, this decision got this reboot off to a shaky start. Raimi’s Spiderman series set the standard for comic book adaptations, and was only recently bettered by Marvel’s excellent Avengers movie.

The Amazing Spiderman 2: Rise Of Electro has been written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who have been responsible for the reboot of the Star Trek franchise for J J Abrams and they are also behind the reboot of television series Hawaii Five-O. The pair have written the film in conjunction with Jeff Parker and James Vanderbilt, their colleagues on tv series like Alias, Lost and Fringe, etc, who also wrote the first film in this series. The film is littered with lots of Spiderman lore, which fans will undoubtedly recognise, and there are numerous narrative threads here that seem to be paving the way for the arrival of a villain-centric spinoff film featuring The Sinister Six.

Although the film is subtitled Rise Of Electro, there are three villains here, who are deftly interlaced into the script. However, the backstory of a couple of them seems rushed, and there is a sense that the filmmakers are in a hurry to set the scene for installment three of the rebooted Spiderman series. Thus The Amazing Spiderman 2 seems more like a cynical exercise in franchise building rather than a stand-alone movie.

The Amazing Spiderman reboot briefly glossed over the backstory of Parker’s parents (played by Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz), but here the film opens with a more detail backstory that reveals what befell them. Peter is dealing with a lot of unresolved father issues here, which gives him a common bond with his childhood friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), who returns following the death of his father (Chris Cooper), the founder of Oscorp, a powerful conglomerate. But Harry suffers from the same genetic disorder that killed his father. He believes that the only thing that can reverse the effects of the disease and save his life is a sample of Spiderman’s blood. But when Spiderman refuses because of the unknown risks, young Harry takes it upon himself to experiment with his father’s supposedly lost research, which has devastating consequences. Harry is transformed into the supervillain known as The Green Goblin. And fans of the comic book series knows how the bitter rivalry between Spiderman and Osborn ends badly.

As Electro Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained, etc) is almost unrecogniseable beneath layers of makeup. Foxx plays Max Dillon, a nondescript electrical engineer whom no-one seems to notice or remember. Given a comb-over and prominent front teeth, Dillon is a nerdish type. During a high speed chase through New York, Spiderman saves Dillon from being crushed by an out of control car. Dillon works at Oscorp, and one evening while trying to repair a damaged cable in a laboratory he falls into a tank full of electric eels, who continually bite him. Initially thought to be dead, Dillon eventually recovers but finds himself gifted with the power of harnessing electricity and able to tap into the power grid of the city. Dillon is a huge fan of Spiderman at the start so we needed more of a motivation to explain why he suddenly hates Spiderman and sets out to destroy him. This is one of the weaker elements of Electro’s characterisation that doesn’t quite work.

The third villain is the heavily tattooed Russian gangster Aleksei Sytsevick, who eventually becomes Rhino, another of Spiderman’s nemesis, although Paul Giamatti seems to be slumming it in a small role here. However, it is likely that his role will be beefed up in Spiderman 3.

Peter Parker is wrestling with both the guilt and responsibility of having superpowers, and knowing that when he fights crime, saves the city from destruction or rescues people from danger he often does so at great cost and sometimes even hurts the one he loves in the process. This conflict between power and responsibility seems to drive many comic book superhero adaptations in the 21st century as they deal with increasingly darker themes in a morally conflicted world.

Parker is also conflicted over his on-again-off-again relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), whose police captain father died during the first film. Peter keeps seeing visions of Captain Stacy, which seems an ominous portent of things to come. For her part though Gwen is offered a scholarship to Oxford in England.

Director Marc Webb returns to helm this sequel, and what a great name for a director of Spiderman films. One of my colleagues joked that he must have got the gig purely on his name alone! Webb is better known for the quirky (500) Days Of Summer, which was also one of the smartest romantic comedies of recent years, rather than big budget special effects driven action films. It was a bit surprising when the powers behind the Marvel franchise charged him with rebooting the franchise. And with the first film his direction was a bit tentative, and lacked the panache and flair that Raimi, a true fan of the material, brought to the series with his Spiderman trilogy. But here Webb seems to have more confidence with the material and his direction is a lot more assured. There is also a good deal more humour in this film that adds to the comic book flavour of the material.

There are some great special effects and digital effects which are seamlessly incorporated into the live action. The highlight is the fight between Electro and Spiderman in Times Square, the glittering, neon-lit heart of New York where Electro can feed off the pulsing electricity that feeds this vibrant hub.

Webb’s strength though lies in exploring the personal elements of the story, especially the troubled relationship between Peter and Gwen. Garfield and Stone are a couple in real life, and they bring a real chemistry to their shared scenes. Some of their shared exchanges seem improvised as well, adding a certain freshness and honesty to those scenes that tease out their troubled relationship. For many fans though Toby McGuire is the ultimate Spiderman. Garfield does have a youthful exuberance that suits the part though and he handles the physical demands of the role well.

DeHaan (from The Place Beyond The Pines, etc) makes the most of the role previously played by James Franco in the Raimi series, and he makes for a more twisted, complex and vengeful Osborn/Green Goblin. Marton Csokas plays a sadistic doctor in a mental institution, but his camp performance and strange accent reminded me more of Peter Sellers playing Dr Strangelove than anything else.

The ensemble supporting cast includes some big names, although they are given little to do. Oscar winner Sally Field again plays Peter’s loving and sympathetic Aunt Mary, but she spends most of her time worrying about why her laundry keeps turning our red and blue. There is one touching exchange between the pair though when she reveals why she is reluctant to talk about what happened to Peter’s parents for fear that she will drive him away. Oscar winner Cooper is wasted in a small role as Osborn senior. Felicity Jones (currently playing Charles Dickens’ secret younger lover in The Invisible Woman) is wasted in a small and thankless role as Harry’s pretty assistant Felicia.

But at 145 minutes, this Spiderman seems a little overlong. There are a couple of moments about ten minutes before the credits roll that would have provided a perfect ending for the film and set up expectations for the inevitable sequel. But the producers have obviously decided to give audiences more bang for their buck and have added an over the top action sequence involving the villain Rhino that will obviously be expanded in the next film.

★★★☆

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ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Stars: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, John Hurt.

Jim Jarmusch is one of the darlings of the American independent film scene, but he is also something of an acquired taste. His films are often existential in nature and explore loners and outcasts struggling to find their place in the world. His latest film is sure to please aficionados of his minimalist style. However, it unlikely to win over new converts.

Only Lovers Left Alive offers an unconventional take on the mythology of vampires familiar to audiences through a series of horror films. But this is a far cry from the twee romance of Twilight, those old Dracula films starring Bela Lugosi, the camp horror of those Hammer horror films starring Christopher Lee, or even Interview With A Vampire. It has taken Jarmusch seven years to bring his unusual take on the vampire tale to the screen especially after his American investors dropped out.

The central characters here are Adam and Eve, a couple of sybaritic cultured centuries old vampires who seem to be irrelevant in this contemporary world. Their choice of names is deliberately Biblical. Adam (Tom Hiddleston, best known for his role as Loki in the Thor franchise) has been married to Eve (Tilda Swinton) for a couple of centuries, but they now live apart. While he lives in Detroit she lives in Tangiers. They have evolved to a level where they no longer need to kill for sustenance. However, because human blood has become contaminated they need more sophisticated methods of drinking the vital blood that keeps them alive.

Adam is a depressed and reclusive rock musician, who lives in a crumbling Detroit, and is gripped by a sense of malaise. Like a junkie, Adam gets his vital blood supply from the accommodating doctor Watson (Jeffrey Wright). Adam refers to the humans as zombies because they are slowly destroying the earth. Adam has grown cynical and worries about the future. His only real companion is Ian (Anton Yelchin), a “zombie” who regularly brings him supplies, including classic guitars. He has recently brought Adam a wooden bullet which he plans to use to kill himself as an escape from this decaying and not too friendly environment.

Eve, who is a good deal older and more worldly than Adam, has a passion for culture, literature, art and history, and she lives in the more exotic city of Tangiers. Eve only emerges from her humble house at night time to savour the city’s delights and cafes and get her regular supply of blood from her supplier and only real companion, a desiccated playwright Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who drops hints about how he supplied the likes of Shakespeare with some of his great dramas.

Growing bored with life, Eve comes to Detroit to visit Adam, and they drive around and reminisce about the past. Everything goes smoothly until the arrival of her immature and impulsive younger sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska, recently seen in Tracks, etc), from Los Angeles. She still has the old insatiable thirsts, and her presence upsets the delicate balance that Adam has established. He and Eve soon head back to Tangiers.

Although the central characters are a couple of centuries old vampires, Only Lovers Left Alive is a far cry from the usual vampire fare, and it certainly has more lofty aims than the vapid Twilight franchise. It deals with themes or immortality, literature, family, relationships and is full of Jarmusch’s usual signature touches. While it is more literary and discerning in its ambition, Only Lovers Left Alive stakes its claim to be considered one of the dullest vampire movies ever made. It lacks bite, pardon the pun, and does not follow the usual formula of the vampire flick.

Only Lovers Left Alive is set in a crumbling vision of a not too distant Detroit, a former industrial city, where human greed and climate change has taken its toll on the world as we know it. An air of melancholy and nostalgia hangs over the film, and the sensual gloomy cinematography of French cinematographer Yorick Le Saux (the visually gorgeous but dull I Am Love, Arbitrage, etc) suits Jarmusch’s almost poetic style. But it is also dark and brooding and at times it was hard on the eyes. Jarmusch’s vision of a decaying Detroit is evocative and reflects the films key themes.

Hiddleston and Swinton deliver smooth performances. Hiddleston exudes a rather cool demeanour here and brings a smoldering sensuality to his performance as the jaded, dissolute rock star. The likes of Bowie, Jagger and Iggy Pop are obvious influences on his look and swaggering mannerisms. Throughout her career, Swinton has managed to play many indelible and memorable characters and deliver solid performances, even in sub-standard fare. Here in particular she brings an elegant grace to her performance as Eve. Wasikowska, who seems to be in just about every other movie at the moment, makes the most of her small role. And Hurt brings his usual world weary quality to his performance in a small role.

Only Lovers Left Alive is Jarmusch’s first foray into the horror genre, and is not entirely successful. It is more an exercise in style over substance and will not appeal to everybody. The film is shaped by his usual distant and aloof directorial style, his droll sense of humour, his visual flourishes, and his meditative and elusive approach to narrative conventions.

Music has often played a vital part in Jarmusch’s films, and here the soundtrack is packed with some eclectic choices. Jarmusch’s own band SQURL has composed the haunting score. There are also lots of clever literary and musical references littered throughout the script that many will feel that the film is self indulgent and far too clever for its own good. Jarmusch’s direction is unhurried, and many may indeed find the languorous pacing a tad tedious. At 122 minutes the film seems to drag.

★☆

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THE CROSSING

by GREG KING

Documentary

Director: Julian Harvey

The Crossing

On his Movies At Dusk program, Greg spoke to Clark Carter and director Julian Harvey about The Crossing. To hear the interview, click on the link below:

http://www.mediafire.com/listen/odijma9q4ii5bv6/190404_001.MP3

In 2005 two young Australian adventurers set out to cross Victoria Island, a largely uninhabited and unexplored area north of Canada, near the Arctic Circle. Their journey forms the basis of this fascinating documentary.

Having recently graduated from university, Clark Carter wanted to have an adventure and “be irresponsible for a while.” He and Chris Bray set out on an adventure to traverse this incredible lost world that very few people knew existed. The appeal of this adventure lay in the fact that parts of Victoria Island had never been explored before. Carter and Bray set out to become the first people to walk across Victoria Island, traversing some 1000 kms of intimidating landscapes, tundra and flat, inhospitable terrain. It was to be a boy’s road trip, albeit without a road or a car, but the pair were gripped by a sense of enthusiasm and the sense of adventure. They would endure harsh, largely unknown conditions and experience 24 hours of sunlight every day. Given the season they estimated they would have an eight week window of opportunity to complete their mission.

They set out to build a homemade kayak that would carry their equipment and which they would use to haul their equipment across the unforgiving terrain. But the pair were a little naive, and underestimated just about everything about their trip – how much it cost, how long it would take to prepare. And they certainly underestimated the conditions of Victoria Island. Their progress was much slower and harder than they envisaged, and after a gruelling 51 days the pair finally threw in the towel.

But despite being disappointed and having to admit failure, Victoria Island continued to exert a fascination for the boys, and eventually they decided to give it another try. By 2008 they were much better organised and prepared for the expedition and were aware of what conditions to expect. They carried nearly half a ton of equipment with them this time. On the second adventure they fared much better, eventually overcoming lots of obstacles before completing their epic trek in 128 days. But at times they admitted to a sense of frustration and again came close to admitting defeat.

Carter and Bay captured their epic journeys on camera in this revealing and inspiring film. The Crossing is certainly beautiful to look at as the boys have captured some stunning landscapes and vistas.

Initially the pair never thought of turning their raw footage into a feature film about their adventures. But they had captured some 100 hours of footage, which  had to be edited down to the 85 minutes we see on screen. The task of shaping the footage fell to first time director Julian Harvey, a producer and editor on television travel show Getaway, who had  previously worked with Carter on the low budget sci-fi thrillers Zero Hour and The Tunnel. Harvey worked with editor Mike Connerty, with whom had had previously worked on tv series Getaway to fashion the material.

The Crossing is a fascinating documentary and an inspiring tale of endurance, overcoming adversity, friendship and youthful enthusiasm.

★★★☆

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THE GOOD THE BAD THE UGLY FILM SHOW PODCAST EPISODE #76

The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show

This week on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Adam, Dave, Nick and Greg take a look at new release films ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Rise Of Electro’, ‘The Invisible Woman’, ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’, ‘Chinese Puzzle,’ ‘The Other Woman,’ ‘The Crossing,’ ‘Like Father Like Son’ and ‘Canopy’. This episode also features interviews with Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield and Jamie Foxx.

Also make sure you listen for your chance to win a double pass to see The Crossing thanks to Umbrella Entertainment.

To listen to the show you can download it for free from our Podcast Channel – Listen/Download here

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David Michod’s The Rover to premiere at Cannes

by GREG KING

David Michod’s new film The Rover has been invited to Premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It will be presented in the Official Selection: Out of Competition.

Writer and Director David Michôd will now join a long line of filmmakers who first screened at the Cannes Film Festival in this category.
Michod is best known for writing and directing the critically acclaimed Animal Kingdom.  He will be in attendance at the film’s international debut. He will be joined by leading man Guy Pearce (Animal Kingdom, Prometheus and Lawless) and co-star Robert Pattinson (Water for Elephants, Cosmopolis and Bel Ami).
It has also recently been announced Michod will write and direct the forthcoming production The Operators which will be produced by and star Brad Pitt.
Roadshow Films Managing Director, Joel Pearlman said “David Michod has created an extraordinary film. We congratulate him, the producers, cast and crew on this incredible achievement. Cannes remains the leading light among film festivals and this is a well deserved honour for The Rover.”

To coincide with this announcement Roadshow Films have released an Australian exclusive film poster.

You can find a PDF and JPEG version via the following link: http://www.vrls.com/dropbox/publicity/The%20Rover%20Australian%20Exclusive%20Film%20Poster.zip
The Rover will be released in Australia on the 12th of June 2014 by Roadshow Films.

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Charlie’s Country to screen at Cannes.

by Greg KING

Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country has been chosen Official Selection for Un Certain Regard Cannes Film Festival

Starring the legendary David Gulpilil (above), Charlie’s Country has been selected to screen in Un Certain Regard at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in May. Also starring Peter Djigirr (Ten Canoes actor and co-director), Luke Ford (The Black Balloon) and Gary Sweet (The Tracker), Charlie’s Country was filmed on location in the Northern Territory and will be released in Australia in July 2014 by Entertainment One.
Charlie’s Country is De Heer’s fourth film to premiere in Official Selection at Cannes. His first two features to screen at Cannes – The Quiet Room (1996) and Dance Me To My Song (1998), both screened In Competition. In 2006 Ten Canoes screened in Un Certain Regard and was awarded the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize.
Written by Rolf de Heer and David Gulpilil as a collaborative project, Charlie’s Country stars Gulpilil as “blackfella” Charlie, who is getting older, and is out of sorts. The government’s intervention is making life more difficult on his remote community, what with the proper policing of “whitefella laws” that don’t generally make much sense, and Charlie’s kin seeming more interested in going along with things than doing anything about it. So Charlie takes off, to live the old way, but in doing so sets off a chain of events in his life that has him return to his community chastened, and somewhat the wiser.
Speaking about the film’s selection award winning director/writer/producer Rolf de Heer said “This recognition from Cannes is very significant for the possibilities of the film in the marketplace. I am so pleased for David, for all his effort to be rewarded and for the chances of his best role now being seen not just at Cannes, but around the world”.
Charlie’s Country could be considered the completion of a trilogy of films for Rolf de Heer with his friend of 14 years, David Gulpilil. They first met in 2000 when Rolf cast David in the lead role in The Tracker, set in the early days of European colonisation of Australia, which screened In Competition at the Venice Film Festival and was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Valladolid Film Festival.
The pair next worked together with the community near David’s traditional homeland, Ramingining, Arnhem Land, in creating Ten Canoes. The ‘story within a story’ was set in a time long before the arrival of colonial invaders and was the first film to be shot entirely in Australian Aboriginal languages, with Gulpilil performing an off-screen role as the storyteller. Ten Canoes was written by de Heer in consultation with the people of Ramingining, and directed by de Heer and Peter Djigirr who shared the 2006 AFI Best Director Award. After receiving the Cannes Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize, Ten Canoes was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to become an Australian Box Office success and win the Best Film award at all three of Australia’s national film awards, the AFIs, IF Awards and FCCA Awards.
Charlie’s Country is the 14th feature film directed by Rolf de Heer and 2014 marks thirty years since the 1984 release of his first feature film, Tail Of A Tiger. Films by de Heer have been selected to screen In Competition multiple times at the world’s leading festivals, Cannes, Berlin, Venice and Toronto. He has worked with, among many others, legendary musician Miles Davis (Dingo), Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss in The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, internationally renowned circus street performer Mr Spin, and a live jaguar in the jungles of French Guiana.
For Charlie’s Country Rolf de Heer brought together long-time collaborators including Director of Photography Ian Jones ACS, Production and Costume Designer Beverley Freeman, Film Editor Tania Nehme, Sound Designers James Currie and Tom Heuzenroeder and Composer Graham Tardif.
Charlie’s Country was produced by Nils Erik Nielsen, Peter Djigirr and Rolf de Heer, Line Produced by Julie Byrne with Executive Producers Domenico Procacci, Bryce Menzies, Sue Murray, Troy Lum and Peter McMahon. Associate Producer is Frances Djulibing.
Charlie’s Country is a co-production between Vertigo Productions and Bula’Bula Arts Aboriginal Corporation. The film is presented by Screen Australia and Domenico Procacci and produced in association with the South Australian Film Corporation, Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Adelaide Film Festival.

CHARLIE’S COUNTRY will be released nationally in Australia in July 2014 by Entertainment One.

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