Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bran Nue Dae (2009)

With this review You are introduced to another contributor and a very good friend of mine Reg. I won't go into what a hell of a nice guy he is, since I'll leave you to discover that on your own. I will however talk about why I asked him to write for Unseen Films.

Reg is a hell of a writer. He writes regularly on music on his blog and he waxes poetically about music and uses it as a springboard for discussions of other subjects. Its like listening to the best disc jockey in the world talk about the music you love, or want to love or will love as soon as you find the music he's talking about. He truly kicks it into high gear when he does it as part of his trips to The Pelican Club, a feature where he does extended posts that are like being in a small club and enjoying an evening of music. (I'm trying to convince him to do a film version here at Unseen Films)

Reg has an encyclopedic knowledge of film. If you can get him talking about film he will amaze you with all that he knows. I'm still trying to figure out where he's picked it all up since he is not a typical film geek with his head buried in films and film books. The information kind of just spills out out of him. He has a great love of classic films, as well as a passion for science fiction. Since he lives in Australia he has wicked knowledge of classic films from the UK. He's pointed me toward any number of really great films that I simply never knew about because of my limitations here in the United States. Actually Reg knows a hell of a lot about just about any type of film out there. He's also a blast to go to the movies with. A few years back he and I went to see The Host at the New York Film Festival and we had a great time not only watching the movie but watching the audience.

Reg and I have been trying to get him on the blog for a while now but he's been having really wicked computer problems that have prevented him from posting directly to the blog. He's in the process of getting the problem solved, which I'm hoping will bring about a more rapid flood of pieces. Until then Reg has sent me his review of Bran Nue Dae which I've posted below. This is a film that he has been talking about from the instant I mentioned this blog to him. Its a film that he really wanted to write about but was prevented from doing so because of the computer problems. (I don't know about you but based upon what he says the mere thought of Geoffrey Rush channeling Dr Strangelove puts this on my list of must see films.)

And with out further adieu I now give you the first, of what I am hoping will be a steady stream of reviews here at Unseen Films from the ever wonderful (in a manly sort of a way) Reg.

How can you define a musical which in its' first ten minutes features an old school church spiritual and a rockabilly song about the benefits of condoms?

That sums up this film really because it is trying to be two things and it fails in at least one attempt.

The plot is simple. Willy is a young aborigine running away from his boarding school in Perth and trying to get home to the girl he loves in Broome.. Along the way he gathers together a group of fellow travellers, all of whom learn something and...Oh never mind. It doesn't really matter.

This is a film that works best when it forgets that it's a musical, even during the musical numbers. When it tries to be a musical, it is embarrassing. When it relaxes and just tries to be a road movie, it is delightful.

Overall, its flaws, Geoffry Rush's Dr Strangelovesque accent, Magda Subanski's being in the film for no good reason and a fairly muddled knowledge of religious practices, (the services Willy's mother attends are clearly Baptist and yet she has sent him off to a Catholic boarding school in hopes that he'll become a priest,) and the moments when the director remembers that this is based on a stage musical, are out-weighed by the moments of joy brought on by a brilliant cast, (Ernie Dingo and Deborah Mailman are deserving of singling out here, both playing characters who could be tragic victim stereotypes, but both playing with such gusto that the comfortable white liberal viewer is forced to question their own assumptions,) and a great sound track.

I walked away from this film smiling, which I believe was the intent of the people who made it.

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