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Movies, TV & Music

Metro No. 196

Independent, outspoken and often polemical, Metro features writing by some of the region's foremost academics and critics, providing readers with comprehensive coverage of Australian, New Zealand, Asian, and Pacific screen industries. Combining a wide range of topics and disciplines, Metro offers a unique blend of in-depth scholarship and popular writing, perfectly capturing key trends and developments in screen culture.

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4 Issues

in this issue

11 min.
welcome to ugly country nostalgia and nationalism in stephan elliott’s swinging safari

You’ve probably been to a dinner party where – after a few too many chardonnays or lagers – the conversation degenerates into an avalanche of ‘remember when’s. Described by The Sopranos’ Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) as the ‘lowest form of conversation’, these discussions balance on a knife edge of warm nostalgia and barely concealed bitterness. An anecdote about a family outing turned disastrous is one-half ripper yarn, one-half implicit criticism of your parents’ responsibility (or lack thereof). Stephan Elliott’s Swinging Safari (2018) is that dinner party writ large as a raucous, often-crude comedy. It’s an ode to 1970s Australiana thickly slathered with signifiers of the era: platform shoes and fondue parties, Mr. Squiggle and Number 96, lava lamps and lamingtons. In many respects, the film is a loving portrait of its…

10 min.
musical chairs perspective and ‘heavy’ humour in ben elton’s three summers

About one-third of the way into Three Summers (Ben Elton, 2017), there’s a sex scene. It involves a theremin, a fiddle, a crowd of bemused onlookers and, at least in literal terms, no actual sex. The encounter primarily involves Keevey (Rebecca Breeds) and Roland (Robert Sheehan), two very different musicians who – in the classic way of a romantic comedy – have been fighting their attraction to each other. Keevey is wearing step-dancing shoes and tapping out a beat as she plays traditional folk music on the violin. Most of her life has been spent on the road accompanying her father’s Irish band. Roland, conversely, is as pretentious as a musician can get. He has classical musical training in more conventional instruments but has instead opted to focus all his…

10 min.
ties that bind kriv stenders’ australia day and the problems of patriotism

Within the opening seconds of Australia Day (Kriv Stenders, 2017), we’re off and running. The film cuts between separate pairs of feet pounding the pavement, the thudding score driving us forward with them. As the faces of our three protagonists are revealed, desperation writ plainly across them, we become locked into their breathless beats for the remainder of the film, with little chance to exhale. The three paths we follow are those of April (Miah Madden), a fourteen-year-old Aboriginal Australian fleeing from domestic violence and a police chase that left her sister dead; Lan (Jenny Wu), a Chinese woman whose broken English prevents her from communicating the terror from which she is escaping, but who is adamant that the police won’t help; and Sami (Elias Anton), a second-generation Iranian-Australian accused…

9 min.
sense and serendipity david wenham’s ellipsis

‘For the last fifteen years, I have been a frustrated director in an actor’s body.’ When David Wenham made this declaration during a Q&A at the 2017 Melbourne International Film Festival, he had been acting for exactly thirty years. Starting out with bit parts in local television treasures like Sons and Daughters and A Country Practice, he soon became a familiar face for Australian audiences. Though he never made the permanent transition to Hollywood, he did have his fifteen minutes of international fame when he landed the role of Faramir in two of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films (2002’s The Two Towers and 2003’s The Return of the King). And he’s not done yet. After three decades, Wenham’s career as an actor is still booming; in the past two…

10 min.
stealing time fatherhood, the ‘third space’ and sam voutas’ king of peking

In the last century, movement across national and cultural lines has led to an increasing intertwining of cultural narratives. Within the arts industries, these layered, multicultural experiences prompt the question: where does one draw the line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation? Or perhaps: how do we tell another’s story? Can we create cross-cultural art that is both nuanced and sensitive – and what would that art look like? For the majority of the twentieth century, our cultural myths and narratives were told by an elite few, and this lack of diversity in the screen industries led to drastically skewed narratives. In terms of the representation of East Asians within Hollywood, acts of yellowface, racial stereotypes and whitewashing were often perpetrated, and still persist today. Mickey Rooney’s now-infamous Mr Yunioshi in…

12 min.
the pain of purity   abuse and collusion in vivian qu’s angels wear white

‘I don’t want to be reborn as a woman. Not all over again.’ In Angels Wear White (2017), by Chinese writer/director Vivian Qu, receptionist Lily (Peng Jing) says this line between gasping sobs, keeling over in obvious agony. She is in a dingy hotel room after having her hymen surgically reconstructed; the pain that rips through her body is not just physical. A woman is taught that the biologically female body will tear at the point of first penetration – that the sharp pain of ‘virginity loss’ is a rite of passage, an inevitable part of sex. A woman is also taught that it is her responsibility to keep her virginity – and her vagina, if she has one – cloistered until marriage. This unmarried woman’s mutilated body is her throbbing…