Byron Dandy

IMDb member since January 2002
    Lifetime Total
    5+
    IMDb Member
    19 years

Reviews

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!
(2008)

This documentary is just pure entertainment!
I won't be arty with this review. This film is an absolute ripper - a super fast paced documentary on the many genre films Australia produced in the 1970s & 80s that were in many cases commercially successful but critically smashed by 'respectable' reviewers at the time. I saw this last night at a premiere AFI Awards screening here in Melbourne and was blown away.

There are so many good stories, amazing revelations and choice excerpts from literally dozens and dozens of outrageous Oz flicks here that if you are expecting a slow, monotonous talking heads-type doco that kills a few minutes in your evening, you will be happily mistaken.

Stunt man deaths, John Holmes, fights with the Australian censor, copycat Italian film rip offs, sex, blood, martial arts fights on Uluru/Ayers Rock, Mad Max, Turkey Shoot, Dennis Hopper going nuts, incredible car fetishistic filming, classic Oz Rock songs on the soundtrack (AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Masters Apprentices et al), great Tarantino quotes & so much more - it's absolutely all there.

With docos starting to become more popular with cinema goers, I really hope that this film gets tons of bottoms on seats - I fully applaud the the amount of time the filmmakers must have have spent travelling acrosss three continents to get these interviews as well as the copyright nightmares of needing to clear so many films. Wow.

My only (minor) criticism is that the film is so continually fast paced it just needs a little breathing room sometimes to let you take it all in and have a break. The film is very much at you all the time.

As you can tell, I loved it and I reckon that even if you have never seen a single one of the source films, you are guaranteed to enjoy this wild ride into the commercial Oz film scene of a few decades back when this country actually had a varied and vibrant film industry.

A brief side note - I think Tarantino is claiming credit for coining the collective term 'Ozploitation' used to describe these films. Interesting...

A Little Trip to Heaven
(2005)

This should have been better than it was...
I really love Icelandic cinema and all those stories which have an inherent ancient Nordic mysticism or spiritualism about them. I knew nothing about this film prior to viewing it at the Melbourne Film Festival except that it was Icelandic. Having visited there and been totally captured by the stark beauty of the country I was really looking forward to anything that was served up.

However I was really disappointed when I found it was for all intents and purposes an American film shot in Iceland. I'm a fan of Forest Whittaker but in this film he is totally miscast. And what was he trying to achieve with the inconsistent accent? He stood out too much and just did not fit the character of an insurance investigator. Julia Stiles character was half way to trailer trash and frankly, she just looked too good throughout. Perfect complexion, glowing skin color, simply too healthy - it didn't fit the role. The ending was also way too manufactured so as to keep commercial audiences happy. She's a single mother with a "son" who needs money to survive - let's make sure she gets it even if we have to totally change the lead character's actions to ensure it happens.

One thing I will say in its favor is that the car crash stunt towards the end of the film is absolutely fantastic - that really came from nowhere. Very impressed with the genuine level of danger involved - it looked very hairy to perform.

However overall, a disappointing storyline with few engaging characters and a poorly cast lead sinks this film for me.

Gabrielle
(2005)

To misquote a Beatles lyric, "a turgid time is guaranteed for most".
It's really interesting to read all the gushing reviews of the film on this board. Interesting in that my experience watching this film last week at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) was completely the opposite. I haven't read the Joseph Conrad original so perhaps I needed to do so, to better appreciate the story.

Of the 18 films I've seen at the festival so far, I found this film to be the least personally engaging and most frustrating. Uninvolving story and unlikable lead characters coupled with a tedious pace completely annoyed me. A passionless marriage and the consequences of a single action were also clearly not enough to keep many from walking out of my session. My feeling was that the film would never have been included in the festival if not for the clout of Huppert and the fact that it was French. I found her performance irritating and lifeless - perhaps that was the point and I didn't appreciate it enough. I felt occasional moments of 'Last Year At Marienbad' when watching except that I really enjoyed that film unlike this one. If this had been an Australian made film, the knives would surely have been out, for "wasting tax payers money" etc in the press. Interesting to note in the now completed 2006 Sydney Film Festival that it ranked 25th with the audience vote in a field of 25 world cinema features screened. So clearly others have shared my pain.

Preserving the Wasa
(1966)

Film of the re-floating and the subsequent salvage operation of the Swedish warship Wasa which sank in Stockholm Harbour in 1628 and was not located until 1956.
Documentary film made in 1966 by the UK Shell Film Unit which has as its main theme, that of marine archeology. The delicate timbers of the ship posed a problem when returned to the surface as the salvage team feared they would disintegrate once the moisture evaporated. A solution was devised after some research to use a petroleum based product, polyethylene glycol to penetrate the cells of the timber. It was interesting to see how Shell's public relations side of the group could seize on a subject of public interest at the time and present it on film, with the underlying fact that part of the story was the help which Shell provided in the continued restoration of the ship with the use of one of its petroleum based products.

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