10. Predestination – dir. The Spierig Brothers – 2014
The finest performance from any actor in an Australian film
in the 2010’s comes from Sarah Snook in the Spierig Brothers sci-fi flick, Predestination. Look, if you haven’t
seen Predestination, then don’t read
any further, just go and watch it, it’s best not knowing anything. But, if you
have seen it, you’ll know that Snook simply astounds as Jane, a person looking
for the man who ruined their life. She’s joined by Ethan Hawke, who plays a
barkeep who listens to Jane’s story, and possibly could provide her with the
avenue of tracking down that man. Taut science-fiction this immersive comes
along so rarely, that when it does it needs to be cherished and admired with
all its perfection. This is a film that doesn’t falter on repeat viewings
It’s with great thanks to soda_jerk that Terror Nullius exists to remind us that
Australia does have a culture, and it’s a culture that deserves a solid tear
down and a reckoning like no other. This raucous and ruthless film is at once a
celebration of Australian cinema, but also a rampantly left-leaning takedown of
all that is wrong in Australia. This is delicious stuff, exceptional with its
genius, stunning with the way comedy is employed, and just about one of the
great Australian films ever.
Meal Tickets is
the kind of film that is a ‘slap down’ film. Meaning, it’s the kind of film
that when you find out that someone hasn’t seen it, you rush off to find your
copy of it, and ‘slap it down’ on the nearest table and demand they watch it
there and then. Filmed over ten years, Mat de Koning’s film tells the story of
local Perth band, the Screwtop Detonators, and their bid to make it big around
the world. I’ve seen Meal Tickets
more than a few times, and the brilliance of how Mat manages to immerse you in
the friends and family of the band is stunning – so much so that on my fourth viewing,
you can’t help but feel part of the family. This is Australia’s Dig!, an essential documentary about the
rise and fall of a band, and all the troubles that come with it.
7. Sherpa – dir. Jennifer Peedom – 2015
Looking at Sherpa
through the perspective of the closure of climbing Uluru, one can’t help but
cringe at how privileged and obnoxious people can be about wanting to climb things.
Jennifer Peedom’s essential documentary takes a look at the horrific events
that took place on Mt Everest as predominantly white climbers fought with
Sherpas over being able to reach the summit. Peedom’s camera is observational,
always watching, leaving the judging up to the viewer, and in turn, the
climbers and those who facilitate the climb are given enough rope to hang
themselves on. Disturbing, unsettling, powerful, and important viewing, this is
one of the great modern documentaries.
Pawno is one heck
of a film. A script by Damian Hill delivers distinctly Australian quotable
lines like ‘it’s a c*nt of a world, and a world full of c*nts’. A core
performance from Damian Hill cements the emotional core of the film, with tangential
characters who come into the Pawn shop that his character works at all having
their own emotional truths to live with. Empathetic direction from Paul Ireland
helps make this one of the finest modern Australian films around. Everything
about Pawno makes for comfortable,
easy viewing, with it being the filmic version of the laid back Aussie way of
life. Top shelf material.
Alena Lodkina’s Strange
Colours feels like a film solely crafted for me. It’s a quiet,
contemplative film, full of unsaid truths and monologues of silence. Kate Cheel
gives one of the finest performances of the decade, with Justin Courtin
carrying a very Damian Hill-esque vibe to his performance. Everything is
understated, which may admittedly make for difficult viewing for some viewers,
but for me, Strange Colours packs an
emotional punch like no other.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road – dir. George Miller – 2015
Do I need to say anything further to what has already been
said about George Miller’s explosive six time Oscar winning flick, Mad Max: Fury Road? I mean, it’s full of
high octane, frenetic action that’ll leave you slackjawed and overwhelmed in
all the right ways. Sure, the plot might appear slight, but Miller knows that
that framework allows him to make one heck of a feminist film. If you haven’t
seen Mad Max: Fury Road, then what
are you doing with your life? If you’ve seen it already, then why aren’t you
watching it again? This film is a miracle. It shouldn’t exist. But it does, and
for that, we need to be thankful.
‘There’s three sides to every story. There’s my side, your
side, and the truth.’ So says Tas Pappas as Eddie Martin’s masterpiece of a
documentary opens. All This Mayhem is
about the rise and the devastating fall of the Pappas brothers – two of
Australia’s greatest raw talents when it comes to skateboarding. In the
nineties, they reached peaks that no other Aussie skateboarder was reaching,
and in the ever competitive world of extreme sports, they battled Tony Hawk,
drugs, alcohol, and a lot more in a bid to stay on top. At once, this is a
story about two brothers finding their way through fame, and at the same time,
it’s about the difficulties of success. Tas Pappas’ life story is one you won’t
want to miss, and he makes sure that you’ll be entertained and engaged all
along the way.
2. Charlie’s Country – dir. Rolf de Heer – 2013
Rolf de Heer is the best Australian director around, and Charlie’s Country is, simply put, his finest film. It’s also David Gulpilil’s finest work, as he takes on the titular role of Charlie, an Indigenous bloke who is angry at the ways that white folks have impacted Indigenous Australia, taking away tradition and their livelihood and replacing them with booze and nonsense. This is not an easy film to sit through, and while I struggle to apply the label of ‘important film’, I can’t help but do so for this one. Yes, this is an important film, and it’s one that every Australian should watch.
And, if Charlie’s
Country needs to be watched by all Australians, then that label applies
even more so for Warwick Thornton’s masterpiece, Sweet Country. I’ve long championed this film, and I stand by my
reasoning that it’s one of the truly great Australian films ever. What Warwick
Thornton has created is a document of the brutal history that Indigenous
Australians have lived with for generation upon generation. It’s a wound that
refuses to heal. Given this is Thornton’s second film, I can only imagine what
brilliance he has to come.
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