1.25.2013

5 Of The Best: Australian Films

Today is Australia Day to some and Invasion Day to others, but no matter which side of the fence you sit on I'm sure that everybody can at least agree that Australia has released it's fair share of awesome cinema. Being Australian myself I may be a bit biased but fuck it I don't care. Whether you're celebrating Australia Day or not here is a selection of 5 Aussie films I personally think everybody should see.

MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981)

"In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits"

It goes without saying that you should probably watch the first MAD MAX before you dive into this sequel, although it's not strictly necessary. THE ROAD WARRIOR took everything good from the original movie and made it bigger, better and more badass. It has been placed on countless 'best of' lists and launched the career of Mel Gibson. It also helped shape post-apocalyptic cinema and it contains possibly the best road battle / chase sequence you will ever see.



ROMPER STOMPER (1992)

"A group of skinheads become alarmed at the way their neighbourhood is changing"

Controversial upon its release (and still to this day) prominent Aussie film critic David Stratton offered his opinion that all prints of ROMPER STOMPER should be burned. Its racist themes and brilliant performance by Russell Crowe have not lost their potency over the years and this movie still remains extremely brutal and powerful. Easily one of my favorite movies ever.
Note: Watching a bunch of neonazis bashing 'gook' and telling them to get out of their country probably isn't the best way to celebrate Australia Day, nevertheless it is an amazing movie.




PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (1975)

"A story about the disappearance of several Appleyard College students, and a teacher, from Hanging Rock"

A haunting mystery, PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK is arguably Australia's first real international film. Based upon the novel of the same name a lot of people mistakenly believe it to be based on true events and theories abound to this day about these disappearances and whether or not they actually happened. The real kicker to this film is that it is a mystery which remains unsolved. The film also showcases some brilliant cinematography and a surreal, ethereal atmosphere.



WAKE IN FRIGHT (1971)

"Wake in Fright is the story of John Grant, a bonded teacher who arrives in the rough outback mining town of Bundanyabba, planning to stay overnight before catching the plane to Sydney. But, as his one night stretches to five, he plunges headlong toward his own destruction. When the alcohol-induced mist lifts, the educated John Grant is no more. Instead there is a self-loathing man in a desolate wasteland, dirty, red-eyed, sitting against a tree and looking at a rifle with one bullet left... "

WAKE IN FRIGHT was thought lost until after a 10 year search a print was found in a shipping container in Pittsburgh, PA of all places. The containers were marked 'For Destruction' and if another day had gone by they would have been incinerated. Painstakingly restored the film was only just released on dvd and Blu-ray in 2009 and is possibly (in my humble opinion) the greatest Australian film ever made. It is also one of only two films to be screened twice at the Cannes Film Festival. Definitely a must-see in my books.



GHOSTS... OF THE CIVIL DEAD (1988)

"Prison gangs clash in a high-tech security jail where there are no rules"

Directed by John Hillcoat and written by Nick Cave (the same pair responsible for THE PROPOSITION - another brilliant Aussie movie I would have loved to fit on this list) GHOSTS... OF THE CIVIL DEAD is a claustrophobic and uneasy film set in a violent, futuristic prison. A unique movie which features graphic violence and a great soundtrack by Nick Cave, Mick Harvey and Blixa Bargeld.

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