Mystery Road (2013)

Australia / 121 minutes / color / Bunya, Mystery Road, Screen Australia, ABC Dir & Scr & Cine: Ivan Sen Pr: David Jowsey Cast: Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving, Ryan Kwanten, Jack Thompson, Tony Barry, Robert Mammone, Tasma Walton, Damian Walshe-Howling, David Field, Bruce Spence, Jack Charles, Tricia Whitton, Siobhan Binge, Daniel Roberts, Samara Weaving, Zoe Carides, Roy Billing, Jarrah Louise Bundle, Lillian Crombie, Angela Swan, Geoff Potter, Hayden Spencer.

A splendid reminder that the spirit of dark rural noir is alive and well in Australia.

Detective Jay Swan (Pedersen), recently returned to his small hometown in Queensland, picks up the case of a young indigenous girl, Julie Mason (uncredited), found murdered by Massacre Creek on the outskirts of town. Facing resistance from the indigenous community because he’s seen as having sold out to their daily persecutors, the cops, and from the white community, where racism is to a greater or lesser extent rife, Jay slowly unfolds a criminal ring involving cocaine, teenage prostitution and the murders of far more than just a single girl.

Aaron Pedersen as Jay.

Hugo Weaving as Johnno.

Worse for him, it seems that some in the police department, including the senior undercover cop we know only as Johnno (Hugo Weaving) and even the sergeant (Barry) who runs the department, may be in on the scheme.

And there’s worse still: some evidence could indicate that Continue reading

Jasper Jones (2017)

Australia / 108 minutes / color / Bunya, Porchlight, Screen Australia, ScreenWest, LotteryWest, Screen NSW, South West Development Commission Dir: Rachel Perkins Pr: Vincent Sheehan, David Jowsey Scr: Shaun Grant, Craig Silvey Story: Jasper Jones (2009) by Craig Silvey Cine: Mark Wareham Cast: Levi Miller, Aaron McGrath, Angourie Rice, Kevin Long, Toni Collette, Dan Wyllie, Hugo Weaving, Matt Nable, Myles Pollard, Susan Prior, Ferdinand Hoang, Gabrielle Chan, Nandalie Campbell Killick.

An evocative coming-of-age story replete with elements that bring it close to noirishness, underpinned by a commentary on the unescapable presence of racism in 1960s Australia even as people of good will were trying to build bridges rather than burn them. The movie’s based on a highly acclaimed novel by Craig Silvey, who co-scripted.

Levi Miller as Charlie Bucktin.

Bookish adolescent Charlie Bucktin (Miller) is an outsider in undistinguished small town Corrigan. His best friends are likewise outsiders: Jeffrey Lu (Long), the rather pompous son of Vietnamese immigrants An (Hoang) and Kim (Chan); and Jasper Jones (McGrath), a somewhat older local boy who’s blamed—not always without good reason—for all the neighborhood’s petty crime because he’s the mixed-race son of an alcoholic (white) father, his (Aboriginal) mother having died in a car crash during Jasper’s infancy.

One night Jasper urgently persuades Charlie to sneak out of his home to help him. Jasper has found the battered body of Laura Wishart (Killick), elder daughter of a highly respected local family, hanging from a tree in a nearby wood. Convinced he’ll be blamed for her murder, Jasper Continue reading