Midnight Oil: 1984 (M) Ray Argall’s absorbing documentary Midnight Oil: 1984 focuses on the year when the Oils did a national tour with their new album, Red Sails in the Sunset, and lead singer Peter Garrett ran for the federal Senate on behalf of the newborn (and now dead) Nuclear Disarmament Party. When the band embarked on the 1984 tour, Argall tagged along with the idea of turning the road trip into a documentary. Three decades later, that has happened and the result is remarkable. The second half of the movie focuses on Garrett’s Senate bid and how he tried to juggle politics and rock ’n’ roll. He grows into the new role. The focus on one year, 1984, is a powerful reminder that history isn’t just what I learned (and liked) at school: the Romans and Greeks, the First Fleet, the wars and so on. It is also what happened last week, last month, last year, last decade. This is first and foremost a documentary about a rock band. Oils fans will not be disappointed. The footage of them preparing and then performing their hits is arresting. Argall does take events past 1984 as well, so that by the end we know how everything turned out. For now, that is, as there could be more to come. Tully (M) Marlo is about to give birth for the third time, and she isn’t coping very well. She lives in the outer suburbs of New York with her husband, Drew, who is always busy and not much help, and she already has her hands full with Sarah, who has reached that awkward age, and Jonah, who is probably autistic (the word isn’t used). Few films have depicted the challenges of motherhood quite so uncompromisingly. Drew isn’t making that much money, yet Marlo, a cynic and realist at heart, is loath to accept an offer of financial help from her much more prosperous brother Craig. Ultimately, though, the offer of a “night nanny” proves too enticing to knock back, and so enter Tully, a hyper-efficient 20-something who is there to help. Tully moves in and sets about caring for both the infant and Marlo. She cleans up the place, bakes cakes, dispenses youthful wisdom; nothing is a bother for her. To Marlo she’s a marvel, almost too good to be true. And as written by Diablo Cody and played by Mackenzie Davis, she’s a breath of fresh air because, unlike Marlo, she can cope with anything and everything. This is a dramatic comedy in which the humour emerges from the situations in which the characters find themselves. All this is very elegantly packaged, and director Jason Reitman confirms his expertise at bringing to the screen stories about husbands and wives, parents and children, and free spirits such as Tully.
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