Steven Vidler

Steven Vidler

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The Home Song Stories Review


Extraordinary
The Home Song Stories is Tony Ayres' divulgence of the most traumatizing, deeply personal events of his childhood. It's not often that a director summons the courage to bare his soul, but in Ayres' case, Stories isn't so much a film for self-expression as it is an experiment to better understand his late, manic-depressive mother. Whether you walk out of the theater hating, loving, or sympathizing for the director's mother, Stories succeeds in enabling you to see through the eyes of an angry, confused little boy -- who continues to exist in Ayres today with a broken heart.

Stories centers on Rose (Joan Chen), a Chinese nightclub singer struggling to raise two children in '70s Australia. A needy woman who demands constant attention, she goes through men like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. Rejection is completely unacceptable: Dump Rose and she'll attempt suicide, only to be discovered unconscious by her daughter and son.

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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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Steven Vidler

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