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Two Hands Review


Excellent
Writer/director Gregor Jordan's Two Hands is a brilliant little film; what we Aussies might call a "ripper." Preceding the more sophisticated Aussie thriller Chopper by just a year, it announced the beginning of the Australian film industry's obsession with crime. Not quite as stylish as Dirty Deeds or as hilarious as Gettin' Square, Two Hands deals well in both these traits, adding to the mix grit, suspense, and true romance.

Jimmy (Heath Ledger) works as a doorman at a strip club in the infamous Kings Cross area of Sydney. "The Cross" is the kind of place where trouble of the criminal kind is perfectly unavoidable, and Jimmy has trouble avoiding it. When asked by crime kingpin Pando (Bryan Brown) to deliver $10,000 to a unit in Bondi, Jimmy sees himself moving up in the world. When he loses the money on a disappointingly unromantic errand and it is stolen by a pair of Dickensian street kids, Jimmy knows he is a dead man. His only chance is to hook up with his dead brother's ex-gang and rob a bank to make the money back. As Pando's goons, including Acko (David Field) and Wally (Tom Long), hunt Jimmy down, the film races tensely to a climax that will decide his fate.

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The Rage in Placid Lake Review


Excellent
Placid Lake (Ben Lee) is a (regrettably named) young man who has just graduated from preparatory school and thoroughly embarrassed his self-seeking hippie parents, Doug (Garry McDonald) and Sylvia Lake (Miranda Richardson), his tyrannical classmates and hypocritical teachers. Convinced that he can only find himself in the wilds of Montana (he lives in Australia), Placid makes a schmaltzy student film (Life is Super Dooper) about the awe-inspiring atmosphere of friendliness at his school and it nets him a coveted $10,000 prize check. With the money, he can now leave the small world he's always known and venture to exciting, foreign locales. Unfortunately, there is a rage inside Placid Lake - a rage that compels him to recreate his award winning film for its debut screening. The Life is Super Dooper shown at the awards ceremony is a B&W expose consisting of hidden camera footage of classmates beating each other up, teachers cursing about their charges, and Placid's parent's internal strife over his mother's lesbian affair. The audience is shocked, and Placid winds up flying off the roof of the school. Lying in a full body cast for months, Placid emerges with a plan for the ultimate act of rebellion: being normal.

The Rage in Placid Lake is writer/director Tony McNamara's debut film and it's both a wildly entertaining and heartfelt film. McNamara comes from a theatre background and we hear it in the clever and witty dialogue. While the film is not fast paced, it moves along congenially and never pauses long enough to become bogged down in the sentimentality that smoothes out its rougher edges -- it's a poignant film with a young, brash attitude.

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