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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


AUSTRALIAN BONANZA
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 language).

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 mystery thriller.

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

Philippe Petit


Crooked Business


The View From Greenhaven


Whatever Happened to Brenda Hean


Lionel


Burn After Reading


Young @ Heart







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