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Movies, TV & Music

Metro No. 199

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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Australian Teachers of Media Incorporated
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4 Issues

in this issue

12 min.
the pelican brief the shallow reflections of shawn seet’s storm boy

Colin Thiele’s 1963 novella Storm Boy was meant for children first and foremost, and the same can be said about Henri Safran’s beloved 1976 film adaptation, scripted primarily by Sonia Borg. But the story told in both is part of the larger body of white Australia’s mythology. Unlike many such myths, this one concerns a hero at home in the landscape – specifically, the landscape of the Coorong, the long stretch of saltwater lagoons running parallel to the coastline in the eastern part of South Australia. In a shack between the Coorong and the sea lives an eccentric beachcomber nicknamed Hide-Away Tom (played by character actor Peter Cummins in Safran’s film), who has retreated from civilisation following the death of his wife. But the real escape is accomplished by his young…

13 min.
dark dresses, problematic pleasures mobility and nostalgia in bruce beresford’s ladies in black

Black absorbs meaning the way it absorbs light. In clothing, it’s the colour of authority and sophistication, secrecy and simplicity, grief and lust. It can be both bold and sober, making its wearers stand out glamorously or blend in discreetly. In Bruce Beresford’s 2018 comedy-drama Ladies in Black, set in Sydney during the summer of 1959–1960, the titular characters are not merry widows or Gothic femmes fatales, but shop assistants at the fictional upscale department store Goode’s. While their work attire is designed to make them appear alike, this film is interested in the particularities of women’s identities and desires. Curiously, though, the charm of this deliberately quaint film depends on the smoothing away of rough edges. Ladies in Black raises social tensions – class inequality, sex-based double standards and suspicion…

11 min.
paint and suffering the delicate art of acute misfortune

‘I think something I am coming to realise as a journalist is that, when you write about other people, you hurt them in some way,’ Erik Jensen tells me. He says this knowing that I’m going to be writing about him. Despite his statement, he is generous in his responses and surprisingly forthcoming. No sound bites here. I suppose, given the reason we’re speaking, he’d be a hypocrite otherwise. Our interview takes place in the week or so following the world premiere of Acute Misfortune (Thomas M Wright) at the 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival. In the little time that has passed, the film has already been getting good buzz1 – and, when the festival is over, it will go on to win The Age Critics’ Award for best Australian feature…

11 min.
on song navigating the past in ben hackworth’s celeste

Memories of happiness lost haunt the script of Brisbane-based writer/director Ben Hackworth’s sophomore feature, Celeste (2018) – both on the page and between the lines during its writing process. Radha Mitchell stars as the eponymous opera singer, who gave it all up for love just as her career was reaching its high notes. Retiring to a crumbling but fecund and fanciful retreat in Far North Queensland, she finds herself, years later, all but alone after her husband’s death a decade earlier, hitting the bottle hard and dreaming of a comeback. This unfortunate event is clouded in half-glimpsed mystery, teased out in flashback and connected to her estranged stepson Jack, played by Kai Lewins as a teen and by In Like Flynn (Russell Mulcahy, 2018) lead Thomas Cocquerel as an adult. With…

11 min.
redemption,restoration,reclamation benjamin gilmour on jirga

In Jirga (Benjamin Gilmour, 2018), an Australian undertakes a perilous journey to return to the site of an Afghan firefight from three years earlier. Mike (Sam Smith) makes the difficult trip not out of professional duty, however, but out of personal need. Haunted by his past deeds – specifically, the accidental killing of an unarmed civilian during an evening raid of a village – the ex-soldier is driven to atone for his actions. When he presents himself before the court of tribal elders that gives the feature its name, he risks his life, should the jirga deem an-eye-for-an-eye retribution the appropriate course of action. In charting Mike’s trek through often difficult, sometimes surprisingly beautiful Afghan terrain – from Kabul to Kandahar and beyond – as well as the emotional journey that…

11 min.
different ball game damian callinan on sport, community and the merger

After years of being brought to life as part of Damian Callinan’s live stage show, the fictional town of Bodgy Creek has hit the big screen in Mark Grentell’s The Merger (2018). In the tradition of The Castle (Rob Sitch, 1997), the film is iconically Australian but carries a broader message. With the rural town devastated by the closure of its main employer, a timber mill, the local football club is facing the choice between a merger or extinction. Enter past club champion turned community outcast Troy Carrington (Callinan). It was Troy’s environmental protesting that led to the closure of the mill, so he suggests recruiting refugees from the local resettlement program to help bolster player numbers and draw extra funding to help save the club. I speak to Callinan about The…