COUN­TRY LIFE LINES

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film -

Ev­ery­body Has a Plan (To­dos ten­emos un plan)

(MA15+) ★★★ ✩ Limited re­lease from Thurs­day

De­spi­ca­ble Me 2

National re­lease

AUS­TRALIA’S in­dige­nous film­mak­ers con­tinue to make an im­pres­sion in film and tele­vi­sion, and Ca­tri­ona McKen­zie’s Satel­lite Boy is the lat­est ex­am­ple. Rem­i­nis­cent in some ways of the ground­break­ing Walk­a­bout (1971), made in Aus­tralia by Bri­ton Ni­co­las Roeg, McKen­zie’s heart­felt drama fo­cuses on Pete (Cameron Wal­laby), a boy of about 12, who has been left in the care of his grand­fa­ther, Jaga­marra (David Gulpilil), while his mother is away, ap­par­ently tak­ing a course in hos­pi­tal­ity in the near­est large town. That’s some dis­tance away be­cause the set­ting is the vast­ness of the Kim­ber­ley and it’s from this vast­ness that the old man and the boy emerge as if from the land it­self in the film’s un­for­get­table open­ing shot, an im­age re­peated in re­verse at the end.

The pres­ence of Gulpilil, who was 16 when he played the lead in Roeg’s film and who now sports a fine head of white hair and an aura of calm wis­dom, con­firms McKen­zie’s main theme — the im­por­tance of coun­try, of land, to the Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple. Jaga­marra at­tempts to in­stil in his grand­son not just a love of coun­try but the im­por­tance of coun­try to him as a hu­man be­ing — but the boy is too young, too im­ma­ture, to lis­ten se­ri­ously to the old man. He has his own dreams, which in­volve es­tab­lish­ing a restau­rant when his mother re­turns — if she re­turns, and Jaga­marra is pretty cer­tain she won’t. Mean­while the old man and the boy live in makeshift con­di­tions in a long-aban­doned drive-in cin­ema in the mid­dle of nowhere, its screen in tat­ters, its pro­jec­tion room filled with the de­tri­tus of a once pop­u­lar source of en­ter­tain­ment.

Even this rudi­men­tary ac­com­mo­da­tion proves ten­u­ous when a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a min­ing com­pany ar­rives with an or­der to clear the area, which is to be de­vel­oped as a stor­age fa­cil­ity. De­ter­mined to fight what he sees as an un­just de­ci­sion, Pete — brush­ing aside his grand­fa­ther’s ob­jec­tions — de­cides to set off on his bike to the head­quar­ters of the com­pany to plead his case. He’s ac­com­pa­nied by his tearaway friend, Kal­main (Joseph Ped­ley), who has been in trou­ble with the po­lice, and soon the pair, spooked by a po­lice pres­ence on the road, aban­don their bikes and head across coun­try on an im­promptu walk­a­bout. This is the heart of the film as Pete is able to use the teach­ings of his grand­fa­ther, teach­ings he has never be­fore taken very se­ri­ously, to sur­vive in the bar­ren wastes of the desert.

Ge­of­frey Simpson’s mag­nif­i­cent

(PG) ★★★

photo- gra­phy vividly cap­tures the vast land­scapes of the Kim­ber­ley and the Bun­gle Bun­gles and the crea­tures that in­habit this ex­tra­or­di­nary land. The beauty of the film, though im­pres­sive, never over­shad­ows the harsh­ness of life in this part of Aus­tralia. Gulpilil ra­di­ates an aura of quiet au­thor­ity, and the boys — nei­ther of whom had any act­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore this — are en­gag­ingly nat­u­ral per­form­ers.

This is McKen­zie’s first fea­ture film but she has worked ex­ten­sively in tele­vi­sion drama; her feel­ing for land­scape and tra­di­tion emerges strongly and her han­dling of the ac­tors is ex­cel­lent. In­deed, so much of the film is im­pres­sive that it’s a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing when the nar­ra­tive be­comes more con­ven­tional in the later stages, with the in­tro­duc­tion of Pete’s flighty mother (Ro­hanna An­gus) and Kal­main’s ac­qui­si­tion of a gun. But for the most part Satel­lite Boy is a fine ad­di­tion to the grow­ing list of im­pres­sive in­dige­nous films be­ing pro­duced in this coun­try. EV­ERY­BODY Has a Plan is also a de­but fea­ture film from a fe­male di­rec­tor. Ana Piter­barg is one of a grow­ing num­ber of women di­rec­tors work­ing in Ar­gentina, and her film is set partly in Buenos Aires and partly on an is­land in the delta of a large river. It’s a thriller of sorts, about twin broth­ers, Agustin, a city doc­tor, and Pe­dro, who lives on the is­land, pro­duces honey and is in­volved in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties with Adrian (Daniel Fanego), a man the broth­ers have known since they grew up in this iso­lated spot. The twins are played by Viggo Mortensen, who speaks flu­ent Span­ish in the part; Mortensen lived in Ar­gentina as a youth, hence his abil­ity to speak the lan­guage.

Agustin has moved away from the back­wa­ter where he grew up and has carved a suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional life in the city with his wife, Clau­dia (Soledad Vil­lamil) — but it’s clear he’s deeply un­happy and he re­acts badly to Clau­dia’s at­tempts to adopt a baby, so badly that she de­cides to leave him. It’s at this mo­ment that Pe­dro, who is se­ri­ously ill and who has just been party to a mur­der com­mit­ted by Adrian, chooses to visit his brother for the first time in a long while.

With­out wish­ing to give away too much of the plot, the story kicks in when Agustin takes the place of Pe­dro with the in­ten­tion of start­ing a new, un­fet­tered life, un­aware of the crime in which his brother has par­tic­i­pated. This is a well-worn plot de­vice: An­to­nioni’s The Pas­sen­ger had Jack Ni­chol­son as­sume the role of an­other man and Gra­ham Greene wrote the story for Ken An­nakin’s Across the Bridge, in which the same sort of thing oc­curs. In this case, Agustin as Pe­dro finds his plans for liv­ing the quiet life, and ro­manc­ing a sweet lo­cal girl, Rosa (Sofia Gala Castiglione), are threat­ened by hos­tile lo­cals, sus­pi­cious po­lice and, ul­ti­mately, the de­ranged and danger­ous Adrian.

As the film pro­ceeds it be­comes more schematic — and vi­o­lent — but for the most part it’s a com­pe­tent thriller with psy­cho­log­i­cal over­tones, and it of­fers Mortensen the op­por­tu­nity, which he seizes, to play two very dif­fer­ent roles. The river set­ting is well evoked and Adrian, a Bi­ble-spout­ing fa­natic with a sadis­tic streak, is a for­mi­da­ble vil­lain, even though his mo­ti­va­tions are on the murky side, a crit­i­cism that could also be lev­elled at some of the film’s other char­ac­ters. DE­SPI­CA­BLE Me 2 is the sec­ond in the French­pro­duced fran­chise of an­i­mated films about Gru, an arch vil­lain turned good guy, won­der­fully voiced with a strong mid­dleEuro­pean ac­cent by Steve Carell. As­sisted by his ‘‘ min­ions’’ (lit­tle yel­low crea­tures with funny eyes) and egged on by the three lit­tle girls he adopted in the first film, Gru ac­cepts an as­sign­ment to work with AVL (Anti-Vil­lain League) to frus­trate the evil plans of a sin­is­ter chef who has de­vised a poi­son that will turn vic­tims pur­ple and vi­cious. Gru teams with AVL agent Wilde (Kristen Wiig) for this as­sign­ment, and the re­sult is an ami­able, well de­signed an­i­mated fea­ture that should ap­peal to au­di­ences young and old (the young won’t get many of the jokes and even the old may won­der at the ref­er­ence to Car­men Mi­randa, ex­otic star of mu­si­cals of the 1940s). Chris Re­naud and Pierre Cof­fin di­rected.

Boy; De­spi­ca­ble Me 2, Satel­lite

David Gulpilil, left, and Cameron Wal­laby in

a scene from

be­low

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