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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Based on a true story, The Dish chronicles a giant satellite dish located in a sheep paddock in Parkes, Australia that assisted in transmitting communications and television signal broadcasts between Apollo 11 and NASA in the summer of 1969. The dish is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and was the only dish in 1969 powerful enough to capture the live camera broadcasts from the historic landing on the moon on July 20, 1969. Running the dish are four quirky characters: Cliff Burton (Sam Neill), the dish's supervisor who smokes too much and pines over his dead wife; Mitch (Kevin Harrington), the nerdy dish technician in love with the local town girl; Glen (Tom Long), the "chip-on-his-shoulder" dish operator who spends most of the film whining; and Al Burnett (Patrick Warburton), the stuffy NASA agent who wears thick glasses and carries the nurturing tone of Barbara Walters. These four knuckleheads, during Apollo's flight, overcome such obstacles as political ass-kissing, power outages, puppy love, gale force winds, and ridiculous moment-of-purpose speeches in order to not look like a bunch of Australian outback hicks working in the middle of a sheep paddock.
Continue reading: The Dish Review
In the film, that younger girl (Claudia Karvan), Watts, and Alice Garner, play a trio of Aussies looking for love in all the wrong places, natch, and three guys who we know will eventually be the recipients of that love. The focus is on the ladies though, thanks to their extreme neuroses. Watts is still nursing a years-old breakup, Karvan is of course trapped in an unhealthy relationship with Agent Smith. The guys have problems of their own, and before the year which Strange Planet follows is up, well, they'll all be resolved.
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The small-town-of-eccentrics genre is usually hit-or-miss -- or more frequently both hit and miss in the same picture. But just as frequently these movies are such a gas it's easy to forgive their foibles.
Such is the case with "The Dish," a tongue-in-cheek Aussie comedy about a real-life hamlet called Parkes and how it was put on the map in 1969 when the giant satellite dish located in a sheep pasture just outside of town became the Southern Hemisphere's relay station for the Apollo 11 moon landing.
The whole town is, of course, abuzz with excitement and nervous about putting its best foot forward when they hear that the prime minister and the American ambassador will be paying a visit. But most of the action takes place out at the dish, where a micromanaging NASA wonk (Patrick Warburton) with a narrow view of horseplay and an even narrower tie is hovering over the scientific trio that run the joint: the recently widowed and quietly reflective project director (Sam Neill), the smart-aleck technician (Kevin Harrington) and the sarcasm-impaired, nervous nerd mathematician (Tom Long).
Continue reading: The Dish Review