EDITORIAL – 16/9/2008: GREAT WEEK: TRUE STORIES, GREAT AUSSIE MOVIES (WHAT CRISIS?)
In a week rich with true stories, Man On Wire stands out, coincidentally
retracing events that took place around the same time as Brenda Hean’s
disappearance – the subject of an Australian doco also opening (see below). Man
On Wire is the story of the famed French high wire artist Philippe Petit, who
balanced his way across the rope above the Sydney Harbour Bridge one year
(1973), and New York’s World Trade Centre the next.
I had the pleasure of having dinner with Philippe on his arrival in Sydney to
promote the film (after interviewing him on stage at the Cremorne Orpheum
following the Sunday premiere). He proved to be as entertaining and interesting
a human being as he appears to be in this marvellous film.
At dinner (where he sampled some good Coonawarra reds) he entertained us with
table magic (coins, rope, glasses of water, etc) and his enthusiasm and love of
life infected all of us at the table. He had already spent an hour on stage,
revealing himself to be a multifaceted artist – not a label he would apply to
himself, and not a label that really describes him. But he’s probably
indescribable in short form.
Man on Wire Reviews
Four – yes 4 - new Australian films opening this week, and I recommend all of
them. Gee it’s great to be able to say that. No qualifiers about budgets or ‘for
an Australian film’.
Crooked Business is a crime caper with a cheeky style and great entertainment
value, showing the power of a good story well told with lots of colourful
characters from the underworld (avoid it only if you take offence to coarse
The View from Greenhaven is another good story well told, this time with
characters from any Australian neighbourhood – or seaside village. It will
resonate with many audiences with its accurate observations and make you laugh.
Whatever Happened to Brenda Hean? Good question; this acerbic doco poses the
question and chases down every clue in the 30 year old mystery about the middle
aged lady from Hobart who was going to Canberra to try and stop Lake Pedder
being flooded for a hydro electric dam. She and her pilot disappeared mid
flight. The story is rich in politics and personalities, and the film, which
paints a shocking portrait of violence and political corruption, plays like a
The fourth Australian film - Lionelout this week is a documentary about Lionel Rose, who
set Australian patriotism on fire in 1968 when at 19 he defeated Japanese boxer
Fighting Harada for the world championship belt. The doco is a terrific snapshot
of Lionel then – and now, as he looks back. There’s more to it than just the
boxing, and it reminds us of the sort of nation we are – or perhaps were.
Indeed, it’s a pretty good week for new movies all round: Burn After Reading is
the Coen brothers on fire with a mission to entertain. It’s a smart and funny
satire wrapped in a thriller with adultery and murder thrown in – but all with
great style and fun.
The week’s fourth doco, Young @ Heart, will be responsible for a shortage of
tissues as it wrings out your collective hearts – while also filling them with
the sunshine of sheer joy. The choir has been going for a while and their
average age is 81 – but it’s likely to stay at 81, because that’s the sort of
choir it is. It’s for seniors; and before you go skipping off with disdain
hanging off your face, ask someone who has seen it what they thought and felt.
It’s fitting, perhaps, that one of the best weeks for new films follows one of
the worst for the global economy. Like those poor folks during the depression
who crowded into the cinemas to take a break from the bad news, we can too.
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Man on Wire
The View From Greenhaven
Whatever Happened to Brenda Hean
Burn After Reading
Young @ Heart