Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Critical Week: A family affair

It's been a rather thin week for screenings, or maybe I'm just out of the loop because I've been pre-occupied with organising the Critics' Circle Film Awards. The biggest movie I saw was The Odyssey, the French biopic about Jacques Cousteau starring Lambert Wilson, Pierre Niney and Audrey Tautou. It's beautifully filmed and acted, but lacks narrative coherence. The others were independent British oddities: Mindhorn is a somewhat uneven pastiche thriller about an actor asked to re-inhabit his 1980s TV cop character to solve a real murder. It has a terrific cast including Julian Barratt, Russell Tovey, Steve Coogan and Kenneth Branagh. And Spaceship is a swirly arthouse drama about a teen who may have been abducted by aliens, although the plot never quite makes any sense. And then there was a four-hour thriller released next week on DVD in the UK...

Deep Water
dir Shawn Seet
scr Kym Goldsworthy
with Noah Taylor, Yael Stone, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Craig McLachlan, Danielle Cormack, Ben Oxenbould
16/Aus SBS 3h40 ***.
This four-part Australian TV series may feel somewhat melodramatic, but it taps into some darkly relevant themes. When a Muslim man is found murdered in his flat overlooking Bondi Beach, detective Tori (Orange Is the New Black's Yael Stone) and her partner Nick (Noah Taylor) begin to discover inexplicable links to a series of unsolved murders from the late 1980s. But these were hate crimes involving gay victims, and the officials simply turned a blind eye at the time. The show is assembled with a soapy emotional flair that kind of ignores authenticity in lieu of flashy plot points, hot potato themes and shifty suspects. This makes it feel like a rather standard television procedural, complete with far too many characters to keep straight and lots of shocking revelations. But the underlying issues are solidly engaging, touching on things in society that perhaps haven't improved as much as we'd like to think they have in the past 25 years. And it's strikingly well shot, with engaging performances from the skilled cast.

This coming week we have screenings of another rather thin, offbeat collection of movies, including the British boxing drama Jawbone, Cristian Mungiu's award-winning Graduation and the doc All This Panic.

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