8:00 PM, 5th March, 2004
Japanese Story is definitely worth a look; apart from the 10 AFI Award nominations it received, it is a work of Australian art at a time when the industry is in danger.
Sandy (a remarkably different Toni Collette from the one in Muriel's Wedding), works for a geological company. When a Japanese businessman wants to come and look at a mine in the desert, none of Sandy's co-workers can be his guide, so Sandy grudgingly goes. From their first meeting, the feisty Australian woman and the rigid Japanese man are awkward and mutually disrespectful. As Sandy drives Hiromitsu through the breathtaking Pilbaras in WA, they are forced to open up and both see that there is more to the other than meets the eye. The film is described as 'filled with wry humour', but take some tissues.
9:00 PM, 5th March, 2004
Placid Lake's (Lee) parents sent him to kindergarten in a dress to expose himself and other students to a broader view of sexuality (or, more likely, because they're self-absorbed hippies with no idea of reality). He's got the snot beaten out of him every day at school since. The one high point in his life is his friendship with the tough-and-tender Gemma (Byrne), who has her own set of disastrous parental expectations to deal with. After a fall from the school roof, Placid begins to change, in all the ways that his parents will fear the most...
Part teenage angst movie, part cultural satire, with a dialogue-driven style inspired by the films of Billy Wilder, The Rage in Placid Lake manages to be both witty and insightful, with a solid bunch of performers backing Ben Lee in his debut as the possibly-too-smart-for-his-own-good Placid. And hey, if you find Ben Lee to be a smug git (and I know there's people out there who do), you might want to come along to see him get thumped a bit. Otherwise, you can enjoy a clever flick with a few insights about contemporary Australian life.