Cinema Roundup: March 6th

Cinema roundup March 6th

Australia’s film industry was barely decades old and largely unremarkable when a new generation of film-makers emerged in the 1970s, “The Aussie New Wave”.

Films like Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and Long Weekend were unmistakeably Australian, exploring the legacy of the country’s colonial past. A common theme of the white man being overcome by a landscape he’s unsuited for binds the various films of the movement and forms the basis of Ted Kotcheff’s 1971 gem Wake in Fright, rereleased at the Irish Film Institute this week.
The film languished in obscurity for decades before finding a new appreciative audience thanks to a BluRay release a couple of years back. It’s the story of a young teacher from Sydney who completes his post in a tiny outback village and plans to return to the city where his fiancé awaits. Everything goes pear-shaped, however, when he finds himself stuck in a small town after missing his connecting train. Initially dismissive of the rugged locals and their “primitive” lifestyle, over the course of a weekend filled with boozing, gambling and kangaroo hunting, our protagonist embraces his inner savage, regressing to an almost Neanderthal state. The legendary British actor Donald Pleasence steals the show as the town’s resident alcoholic doctor.
Wes Anderson makes the sort of films I usually don’t care for but his latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is an absolute joy. Paying homage to the classic comedies of the 1930s and 40s, it’s an action packed, insanely fast paced romp, featuring a career best performance from Ralph Fiennes, who shows a surprising gift for comic timing. Anderson’s film looks incredible, thanks to its stunning set design and art direction, but unlike his previous films it’s an easy movie to embrace, lacking in pretension.
300: Rise of an Empire is the sequel to the awful 2006 comic book adaptation and manages to outdo its predecessor in the bad taste stakes. In 2014, the film’s aesthetic looks all too dated, resembling a promo for an upcoming Six Nations match.
The Stag is a new Irish comedy that stands out among its peers by avoiding the mean spirited approach favoured by so many modern comedies. Unfortunately it’s not remotely funny and the humour feels dated and contrived.
Picture caption: Movie of the Week, 1971’s Wake in Fright
By Eric Hillis