8:00 PM, 6th May, 2005
Sometimes, many of the films nominated in any one year at the Australian Film Institute Awards have a similar subject matter. For example, in 2002, there was an indigenous theme running through (the year of Rabbit-Proof Fence, amongst others). Last year could have been designated "The Year of Society's Fringe Dwellers", with The Finished People, The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, Tom White and this film, Somersault.
Somersault tells the story of Heidi (Cornish, who you may recognise from TV's "Wildside" and "Life Support"), a young girl who, after being thrown out of home, ventures to Jindabyne to try and pick up the pieces of her life. She meets Joe (Worthington - Gettin' Square, Bootmen) and their affair has lifechanging repercussions for both of them.
Somersault won every AFI award it was eligible for in 2004 - a record 13! Much has been said about Cornish's excellent performance, but Worthington's is equally as impressive, and both could use their accomplishment as a calling card for future success. It also boasts many great supporting performances - this is the best in a long career for Lynette Curran, and Erik Thomson proves that there is more to him than just a soapie star. Aussie film-making is not as dire as it seems, with movies like this!
10:00 PM, 6th May, 2005
Romper Stomper depicts the tale of a group of Melbourne Nazi skinheads who live in an abandoned warehouse and beat up on Asian immigrants. They are led by Hando (Crowe), a charismatic intelligent leader who demands total loyalty from his gang. Problems arise however when the Vietnamese decide to stand up for themselves and launch their own vicious assault. Not only that, but one of the gang, Davey (Pollock), has fallen in love with Hando's ex-girlfriend, Gabe (McKenzie).
Romper Stomper is a powerful movie. There is very little sermonising about right and wrong, but rather a passive view of the destructive tale being told. The film has been dismissed by some as being too sympathetic towards the skinheads, showing that they are human beings who have their own motivations, desires and tragedies; however I believe that's the strength of the movie. There are also the themes of loyalty, love and friendship at play here, so the movie is packed with things to think about. And you always know it is a thought-provoking film worth seeing if people's opinions are generally polarised about it. It's also a good opportunity to see a brilliant performance by Russell Crowe, before he became big in Hollywood.