EXTRAS: None AT just 53 minutes, Kanyini is a modest and unassuming film, yet it is elegant and beautiful to watch. It is remarkable for its depth of Aboriginal history and belief told so succinctly and with such clarity, and for the depth of generosity and warmth displayed by its charismatic narrator and subject, Bob Randall. Randall, a respected Aboriginal elder, was born at Middleton Pond in the Central Desert region of the Northern Territory and is listed as one of the traditional owners of Uluru. Kanyini is the Pitjantjatjara word for connectedness, between a person and four concepts: belief system, spirituality, land and family. Randall asserts that what is perhaps the oldest culture in the world ( here in the time of Caesar, Jesus Christ and Cleopatra) was systematically stripped of each of the Kanyini elements by government policy, so that a once proud, independent and healthy culture has been left racked by abuse and poverty. Randall was a child of the stolen generations, yet despite his obvious suffering is surprisingly optimistic. Key elements are his musings on what directions to take to assist Aborigines and the attitude to the land that was passed down to him as a child: not to take more than you need, not to destroy. Randall coproduced Kanyini with Melanie Hogan, who also wrote and directed. Arresting cinematography by Martin Lee and Denson Baker is supplemented by engaging archival footage. Kanyini should be essential viewing for every Australian.
Sharon Fowler Kanyini ( PG) Roadshow ( feature runs 53 minutes) $ 39.95 WATCHING Volver , I couldn’t escape a vision of director Pedro Almodovar as a boy, fascinated by his aunties and other women in his life, compelled by their rich, gossipy lives. Volver is almost unbearably feminine as it investigates the lives of a family of women living in present- day Madrid. There are just two men in the story, the highly sexed Paco ( Antonio de la Torre) and a rather disembodied restaurant owner. But what women Almodovar creates. Penelope Cruz gives the performance of her career as hardworking Raimunda. Her heavily featured cleavage and all those expressed Spanish emotions and reactions make her a delight to watch. Raimunda is married to Paco and they have a teenage daughter, Paula ( Yohana Cobo). The sexually frustrated Paco, who we see masturbating in bed beside Raimunda when she turns down his advances, turns his attention to the willowy Paula. One night when drunk he throws himself on top of her. She fights back with the only weapon that comes to hand, a gigantic kitchen knife, and stabs him to death. To protect her daughter, Raimunda takes responsibility, temporarily storing the body in the freezer at a restaurant she has commandeered to make a few euros. There is also a confusing plot about the ghostly return of Raimunda’s mother ( Carmen Maura) and another about a family friend who is dying of cancer. Beneath the plots beats Almodovar’s true purpose: revealing the tenderness, the intrigues and the special ties only women can know.
Ian Cuthbertson EXTRAS: Interviews, trailers Volver ( M) Magna Pacific ( feature runs 121 minutes) Rental ( available July 4) ‘‘ JESUS pissed off a lot of people, you know. Will you stop turning the water into wine, I’m trying to take a shower.’’ It’s jokes such as these, delivered in Boston comedian Steven Wright’s trademark deadpan baritone, that have earned him a reputation as king of the one- liners. The closest thing we have locally is probably Elliot Goblet, the similarly deadpan alter ego of Melbourne comic Jack Levi. I find Goblet funnier and I think that’s because of the localisation, the tenor of the comedy and familiarity of the references. Still, Wright has his moments: ‘‘ The universe is expanding. That should help ease the traffic.’’ ‘‘ Imagine Pulitzer prize fighting.’’ Pause. ‘‘ See two writers beating the shit out of each other.’’ ‘‘ Imagine how weird phones would look if your mouth was nowhere near your ears.’’ But just when it looks like he’s going to keep delivering these little self- contained gems all night, he changes the pace almost imperceptibly by launching into a prolonged series of them about a former girlfriend, which is the first time we get anywhere near the typical inter- connected routine comics generally do. Short attention span? Maybe. ‘‘ The reason I’m so laid- back is because in high school I smoked a lot of Ritalin.’’ When Wright is on, his material has terrific authority. ‘‘ My nephew has HDADD. High definition attention deficit disorder. He can barely pay attention, but when he does it’s unbelievably clear.’’ Steven Wright: When the Leaves Blow Away ( M) Umbrella ( feature runs 75 minutes) $ 24.95
Ian Cuthbertson EXTRAS: Additional performance; short film