Return to Oz: A History of Australian Cinema (1990-present)

underdog's picture

by Roderick Heath 

Continued from Part Two (1969-1989)


Part Three: 1990-Present

1. Independent's Day: The Reign of Quirk

Australian cinema in the past twenty years has often looked like a manifestation of a culture constantly trying to second-guess itself. Faced with a narrowed era of multiplexes and blockbusters, moviemaking in Oz has failed, in spite of the occasional spotlights falling upon it, to gain even the kind of effective niche that British or French films had managed to carve in the modern cineaste panorama, and the fact domestic audience could rarely be counted upon to give necessary support stirred the question as to whether that support ought to be given automatically or first earned.

On top of this, the always problematic issue of how and what films to sell to the public has become all the more confusing, leading to fractious partisan battles of rhetoric. In the early 2000s, Ray Lawrence's Lantana was seen as a nuanced, grown-up alternative to a small avalanche of modest TV-derived comedies and in-your-face provocation; by the decade's end, further attempts to make grown-up, sober-minded dramas were being blamed in media critiques for dampening the industry's ever-ailing chances in being "depressing."

In the 1990s and the new century, actors and technicians often trained by government-fostered schools gained much respect and increasing employment overseas, and many have repeated the old pattern of talents establishing themselves at home and then heading overseas, perhaps returning if their gambits failed, to confront an ever more competitive field of up-and-comers: in short, the infrastructure to produce people who could make movies set up in '70s had produced strong results, but had finally failed to build a vital local film culture. Meanwhile Hollywood companies set up studios to produce movies more cheaply, with Warner Bros. building a complex near Brisbane and then Fox in the heart of Sydney, giving local technicians and actors easy employment in large-budget productions. Often, this had siphoning effect of local effort and expertise, although it could, more subtly, have done much to promote some of that talent: certainly a strange hybrid like Baz Luhrmann's large-budget, big-hype Australia (2008) could not have been imagined without this cross-pollinating effect.

Little FishAesthetically speaking, too, modern Australian cinema had atomized, as producers searched for sure things, for next big things, for artful movies that have popular appeal, for themes that connected to the zeitgeist, often to arrive belated and bedeviled, without anything like the assurance of the '70s. Attempts to make movies about things that encompassed average suburban existence, petty crime, drug use, gay life, family life, survival, wandering, working and having fun, in a usually, resolutely, contemporary context, became the new norm, but also presented fresh clichés and fads.

Take, for instance, 2005's Little Fish and Candy, two decent movies, were both about the impact of drug addiction and demimonde squalor, only ten years too late for the grunge chic craze in independent cinema. The stars of those films, Cate Blanchett in the first case, Heath Ledger in the second, had both been to Hollywood to further their careers and used their clout to help get them made. Meanwhile, the cycles of Australian film's booms and busts have, rather than stabilizing, only sped up.

In the early 1990s, that new philosophy in film production and distribution, independent film, became a variety of secular religion with temples at Sundance and Tribeca and Toronto—especially in Australia, where almost all filmmaking was, to a certain extent, independent. And, indeed, Aussie talent began to contribute to that growing ethos. In any event, some brightening of the pall that descended on the industry was detectable at the turn of the '90s, with a handful of mild box-office surprises popping up like Nadia Tass's The Big Steal (1990), John Ruane's Death in Brunswick (1991), and critical darlings including Jocelyn Moorhouse's Proof (1991), and Leo Berkeley's Holidays on the River Yarra (1991)—the latter two of which screened at Cannes. This disparate selection of movies could nonetheless be defined by their distinctly shrunken horizons, all set in inner urban areas and focusing on hard-luck protagonists in the contemporary environment, drab and ordinary.

ProofOf those films, the artiest by far was Proof, a film with a unique if odd idea revolving around a blind man (Hugo Weaving), obsessed with photography in his attempts to substantiate his existence, and his two companions: a cool housekeeper and potential lover (Genevieve Picot), and a young man he befriends (Russell Crowe). The film was acclaimed at Cannes, and director and writer Moorhouse became a figure to watch in parlaying a small budget into a significant success, and also was the key early movie of two of the most successful Australian actors of recent years, Weaving (1960- ), with his slippery sensuality, and Crowe (1964- ), the gruffly charismatic future Oscar-winner.

Crowe had made his feature debut in Stephen Wallace's Blood Oath (a.k.a. Prisoners of the Sun), released the same year, an attempt to explore the anger of Australians towards the Japanese for poor treatment and homicides inflicted on their captured servicemen in WWII, a touchy subject for both countries and awkwardly handled here. Death in Brunswick was a black comedy about a loser chef (Sam Neill) whose involvement with an accidental killing and a younger waitress revives his sense of purpose, and it perhaps most clearly defined a new variety of "quirky" comedy, riddled with flailing fish out water, naïve fools of fortune, dippy fantasists and willful individualists, which would provide some even bigger successes in the near future.

Comments - Poker Online Indonesia - Poker Online Asia

Thanks For sharing!!


this history is very intersting for me, thankyou great information - cara membuat facebook baru

miami escort Hot Miami

miami escort Hot Miami Escorts is a leading escort agency. We work with the area's most exclusive ladies. They can be booked for an evening or an extended amount of time (2-14 days). We have a large variety of ladies including blondes, brunettes, ebony, asian, busty and more. Call us Today! Please visit site: ...

eating to prevent control and

eating to prevent control and reverse diabetes This site is a leading resource for information about the Matt Traverso Reverse Your Diabetes Today PDF book and complete diabetes treatment system that teaches you how to reverse diabetes by eliminating the acids that are destroying your pancreas, blocking your insulin receptors, and wreaking all-out warfare on your body... ...

text your ex back review Michael Fiore Text Your Ex Back 2.0 System Launches ! What's new in Michael Fiore's Text Your Ex Back 2.0 System? The original Text Your Ex Back PDF and download has been highly successful at helping couples reunite after a breakup. The new Text Your Ex Back 2.0 system makes vast improvements on the previous version and contains many more text examples and clearer instruction on the logistics of texting your ex after a breakup. click this youtube url: ...

Great Film Thankyou

thankyou for the article about the film is very interesting. Hope you can continue to review many movies anymore. kata kata mutiara cinta

If you are shifting soon we

If you are shifting soon we suggest you to seek the services of the best expert moving companies in Victoria. Movemystuff can be a better choice for all your shifting and packaging projects. To know more about the services provided by Movemystuff, please contact us.

Alfamart official partner merchandise FIFA piala dunia Brazil 2014, Agen Texas Poker Online Indonesia Terpercaya, Agen Texas Poker Online Indonesia Terpercaya
Dirosie Blog, Unit Link Terbaik di Indonesia Commonwealth Life Investra Link

  • If you are shifting soon we

    If you are shifting soon we suggest you to seek the services of the best expert moving companies in Victoria. Movemystuff can be a better choice for all your shifting and packaging projects. To know more about the services provided by Movemystuff, please contact us.

    Alfamart official partner merchandise FIFA piala dunia Brazil 2014, Agen Texas Poker Online Indonesia Terpercaya, Agen Texas Poker Online Indonesia Terpercaya
    Dirosie Blog, Unit Link Terbaik di Indonesia Commonwealth Life Investra Link

  • Thanks for sharing

    Hi there. I really appreciate the points you made. I don't think I've actually thought about it in that way. I can really appreciate how you approached the subject matter and what you said really gave me a new perspective. Thanks for taking the time to write this all out.
    Your opinion this blog:
    Kandang Ayam
    Ikan Patin
    Klasifikasi Kelinci
    Klasifikasi Ikan Kakap
    Ikan Koi
    Ikan Louhan
    Ternak Hewan
    Merawat Burung Kenari

    the girlfriend system review

    the girlfriend system review Please feel free to explore the rest of this Girlfriend Activation System review and buyer's guide to learn more about the program or click here to go directly to the official website and watch Christian Hudson's video that explains how to get a girlfriend who will give herself to you completely even if you're bald, fat, ugly, or dead-ass broke.... ....

    I always love to see

    I always love to see Australian cinema because the most of Australian cinema are big action cinema for that i love to see Australian cinema. I got the cinema news from this site and feel happy for that. Casino Software Text Your Wife Into Bed: Michael Fiore Reveals The "Weird Texting Technique" That Ramps Up Your Wife Or Girlfriend's Libido, Awakens Her Inner Sex Goddess, And Sends Her Into A Sexy "Fantasy" She'll Thank You For. please click this website: ...

    For men, the hair growth

    For men, the hair growth product works by stopping the effect of DHT, a substance that impedes hair growth. For women, a concoction of nutrients helps to combat women's hair loss patterns.

    Fantasy" She'll Thank You

    There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job! Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.
    Agen Bola Promo 100% SBOBET IBCBET Casino Poker Tangkas Online

    Duetamimi Kayacyemuby Soiplequieple teewlyfoode

    CeawgataNax - uggs Sverige
    Learcetelry - Look Here
    ditnerlatoeno Text Your Ex Back version 2.0 now available! Click here to visit the official Michael Fiore Text Your Ex Back website to purchase and download the PDF and gain access to the all new private member's area... Please visit website: ...

    * You can comment on articles

    * Private messaging to others in the GreenCine community -- and more features coming soon!

    * Keep apprised of happenings in the world of films festivals, independent, international, cult, classic, horror movies and more!

    * As a free registered member, you can upgrade your account to a rental subscription -- or if you want a rental subscription right away, click here.