Chris Haywood

Chris Haywood

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The Boys Are Back Review


OK
Since it's based on true events (from the life of journalist Simon Carr), this story is rather un-cinematic, lacking a driving narrative. But it's a telling exploration of relationships, relying on a superb cast to keep us engaged.

Sports writer Joe (Owen) is left in a daze when his wife Katy (Fraser) dies suddenly, leaving him to care for 6-year-old Artie (McAnulty). Since he has spent much of Artie's life travelling with his job, they have a lot of bonding to do, so they head out on a road trip. Then Joe's 14-year-old son Harry (MacKay) arrives from England to get to know his dad. With their unconventional family arrangement, these three cause a bit of concern with Joe's in-laws (Blake and Haywood) and a neighbour (Booth).

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Jindabyne Review


Excellent
Although the odor of buried sin and some vast, encroaching punishment hangs over most every frame of Jindabyne, this is hardly a religious film in the traditional manner. After a disturbing crime, church and an old family Christian tradition hold no succor. There seems to be only the wild vastness of Australia's New South Wales, a landscape more comfortable with the rawer, less enfeebled spirituality of the few, benighted aborigines still living in the area. Given the ardor with which some of the characters pursue a form of redemption, one can only hope that there's a god of sorts out there in the land's soaring endlessness paying attention -- and maybe even granting absolution.

Intelligently adapted by screenwriter Beatrix Christian from Raymond Carver's short story "So Much Water So Close to Home," Jindabyne is about the things people do to remember that they're alive, and the things they want to forget that make them feel dead. Set in the titular small village (a sign on the road identifies it as "a tidy town") Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne play Claire and Stewart Kane, a couple with troubles surrounded by friends and coworkers with plenty of their own. Everyone works the small-time kind of jobs you can find in a town the size of Jindabyne, Claire clerking at a drugstore and Stewart (a former auto racing star) running a gas station. There's darkness in the Kanes' past, like the year and a half when Claire lived elsewhere after the birth of their son Tom (played with heartbreaking sincerity by Sean Rees-Wemyss), never explained. A couple they're friends with has troubles, too: a dead daughter and now the unexpected stewardship of their goddaughter, Caylin-Calandria (Eva Lazzaro), a haunted and troublemaking 10-year-old who seems to have a death wish.

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The Coca-Cola Kid Review


OK
Deep in the Culture Club era and far away down under, Dusan Makavejev took us on one of his most mainstream productions with this story of Eric Roberts as an Atlanta Coke executive who comes to Australia to sell more product. There he discovers a town that doesn't drink Coke at all -- because a local business-/mad-man is bottling his own soft drinks, loved by the locals. What follows is a bizarre tale of sexual ambivalence, oddball family relations, and a Cola war the likes of which the world has never seen. The first half is far better than the resolution, which eventually meanders off to the point of silliness.

Subterano Review


Terrible
You can dress Tasma Walton up in a leather body suit, but that won't make her Carrie-Anne Moss. And you can put a ridiculous VR plot into Subterano, but that sure as hell won't make it The Matrix.

Esben Storm puts this VR-becomes-just-R thriller in the menacing environment of an Aussie parking garage, with (yipes!) some menacing children's toys (somehow escaped from the game universe) chasing a bunch of modern-day role-playing gamers around the ramps. Of course, CGI toys costs money, so often the robots are real kiddie toys: remote-control cars, plastic spheres strung on wire, or bouncy balls simply tossed at the cast. Maybe these are those mini-RC cars that those spam messages tell me are all the rage!

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Quigley Down Under Review


Excellent
I don't know when the law was passed, but action movies are now required to have at least half of their content full of revved up, gravity defying, John Woo influenced kung fu acrobatics. Even classic literature is veering in that direction; witness (in my case, with a pained look) the preview for The Musketeer. It's only a matter of time before Helena Bonham Carter and Ian Holm start running on treetops, bellowing lines from King Lear. Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing that, come to think of it.

With such a glut of over-choreographed action flicks, maybe that's why I was so excited to watch Quigley Down Under, the 1990 cowboy flick starring Tom Selleck and Laura San Giacomo. Directed by Lonesome Dove's Simon Wincer, it's a simple, very entertaining tale. Within the movie's first five minutes, there's a fistfight and everyone adheres to the laws of gravity. That's a good sign.

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The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky Review


Unbearable
In 1916, acclaimed Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky had a mental breakdown, which he recorded in a series of four notebooks over a seven-week period. Director Paul Cox uses excerpts from these journals as a basis for The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky (also known as just Nijinsky), a film that explores the dancer's descent into madness using images seen from Nijinsky's viewpoint. The film deals, in part, with the beauty and tragedy of decay. It is quite terrible.

Viewers suffer through a 92-minute montage of clich├ęd images -- fields of wheat, diaphanous skirts, birds in flight -- as narrator Derek Jacobi reads from Nijinsky's diaries. As one might imagine, insane ramblings make for poor monologue. Evidence such insight as: "I am feeling in the flesh, and not intellect in the flesh... Beauty cannot be discussed; beauty cannot be criticized. I love beauty because I feel it." After an hour or so, you'll want to scratch at your own skin for diversion.

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