Showing posts with label Red Hill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Red Hill. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Red Hill

The Western is brought back to exhilarating life by debut feature filmmaker Patrick Hughes. Lifting a few pages from the Coen Bros’ No Country for Old Men, as well as a wink to Sergio Leone, Hughes has executed a stylish modern Western, which doles out a dose of fun alongside all the bloodshed.

When police officer Shane Cooper (True Blood's Ryan Kwanten) relocates with his pregnant wife Alice (Claire van der Boom) to the small town of Red Hill for some quiet country life, well, this is a Western, so we all know that's not going to happen. Indeed on his very first shift, Shane barely gets through copping flack from is new boss Old Bill (Steve Bisley), before the proverbial scheisse hits the ceiling fan and Shane gets to learn country law the hard way. The daring jailbreak of erstwhile Red Hill resident Jimmy Conway (Tommy Lewis) has the entire town spooked, and for good reason; Conway's out for blood and there's seemingly no stopping him.

As the writer, producer, director and editor, you've got to be impressed by Hughes' tenacity (and versatility!) in bringing this story to the screen. His revisioning of generic conventions for the modern day are handled with a tongue-in-cheek humour that sees Shane forced to ride, awkwardly, out on horseback. So too is Hughes unafraid to play up to the Western, with wonderfully hammy hero shots of Conway's brutal antics. For the most part the performances also manage to walk this line, with Bisley at his grisly best, Kwanten proving himself an impressive lead and the wryly-reflexive casting of Lewis harking back to The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith.

Unfortunately, a few confounding edits, a slight inconsistency in tone, and a frankly ridiculous 'mysterious beast' subplot do manage to distract from Red Hill's manifold strengths. It may be enough to pull you out of the film, but then again, at 96 minutes, Hughes is careful not to overstay his welcome. Red Hill might be a bit of a mixed bag, but as a striking introduction to Patrick Hughes and a big screen Ryan Kwanten, it’s certainly an exciting new frontier for Australian cinema.

Published on Concrete Playground
Red Hill is in Australian cinemas now

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Preview: Sydney Film Festival

Miranda Otto in South Solitary

The Sydney Film Festival has been officially unleashed. That means it’ll soon be time to once again take up residence in the State Theatre, to brave the cold and the inevitable rain to catch a glimpse of red carpet glitterati, to marvel at the packed lunches brought by the blue-rinse set and, of course, to try and cram in as many handpicked cinematic gems as your budget/boss/bum numbness will allow.

Mecca for Sydney cinephiles, this year’s festival is stacked with over 150 films from 47 countries. It’s most exciting to see opening night honours return to an Australian film with the world premiere of South Solitary. Shirley Barrett’s period drama stars father/daughter duo Barry and Miranda Otto, playing an uncle and niece who move out onto a remote island. Other anticipated local titles include the western Red Hill, with its buzz from the Berlinale, Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton in the Indian adoption story The Waiting City and The Tree, a French-Australian film (starring the gorgeous Charlotte Gainsbourg) that will be fresh from closing night prestige at Cannes.

Now in its third year, the festival’s official competition will see 12 films vying for the increasingly illustrious Blue Pavlova, as well as a tidy $60,000 prize money. In the running to be the most, "courageous, audacious and cutting edge" are such titles as Michael Winterbottom’s divisive The Killer Inside Me, the singular Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime and Chris Morris’s absolutely outrageous-looking jihadist comedy Four Lions. Prizes are also up for grabs for documentaries and short films, each with an impressive lineup of contestants. Locally anticipated is the Australian doco Cane Toads: The Conquest, which is shot in glorious 3D.

Once again, the festival has divided the program into experiential sections: Make Me Laugh, Fire Me Up, Freak Me Out, Love Me, Push Me to the Edge and Take Me on a Journey. These may or may prove helpful to audiences trying to wade through the hefty program, but in amongst it all are some fascinating films. There’s the truly sublime-looking I am Love (no guesses for the category), the impossibly endearing Babies, the controversial Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, Stellan Skarsgård in the Norwegian crime comedy A Somewhat Gentle Man and an out-of-this-world documentary, Space Tourists.

It goes without saying that there are many, many more titles besides, including a vampire retrospective, kids films, restored classics and Sounds on Screen. So to make the most of all the films, talks and visiting luminaries, Sydneysiders should bookmark the festival website, download the iPhone app or seek out a hard copy to pour over, highlighter in hand, old school.

Sydney Film Festival: June 2-14 2010

Published on Concrete Playground

Friday, February 5, 2010

Teaser: Red Hill




This teaser has been doing the rounds, but after watching it earlier in the week, the experience is still with me, so I had to share.

Red Hill (not to be confused with Beneath Hill 60 - what's with hills in Australian cinema this year?) has been selected to screen in the Panorama section of the Berlinale, to which I say a hearty congratulations, quickly followed by, "Bitte! Bitte! Darf ich mitkommen?!"

The synopsis reads:

When a young police officer, Constable Shane Cooper, relocates to the small town of Red Hill with his pregnant wife, he does so in the hope of living a quiet and peaceful family life. But when news of a prison break in the city sends the local law enforcement officers – under veteran officer Old Bill – into a panic, Shane’s first day on duty quickly turns into a nightmare.
The escaped prisoner is Jimmy Conway, a convicted murderer serving life behind bars. He returns to the isolated outpost seeking revenge. Now caught in the middle of what quickly becomes a horrifying blood bath, Shane will be forced to take the law into his own hands if he is to survive.
Australian director Patrick Hughes’ feature film debut is a taut thriller, told as a modern day Western. Set against the spectacular backdrop of high-country Australia, the story unfolds with explosive and chilling violence over the course of a single day.

But I say we got all this and more from the teaser, nicht wahr?


Australian release date: 2 December 2010

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