7:00 PM, 23rd August, 2014
In 1977 Robyn Davidson set out walking alone across the desert from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean with just her dog and four camels. A photographer from “National Geographic” documented the journey which was eventually published first as an article in the magazine and then in a book by Davidson. Tracks is the long-awaited film adaptation of her story.
Davidson (Wasikowska) is a prickly, self-possessed individual, more comfortable in the company of animals (even if they’re cranky camels) than people. She is determined to accomplish her self-imposed mission, even if it means living on a camel farm for months learning the ropes, training her animals on her own and even putting up with the sporadic presence of photographer Rick (Driver).
Mia Wasikowska carries the film in a gruelling performance, often as the only person on screen for long silent periods. She manages to effectively convey the physical and psychological toll the punishing journey takes, without over-dramatising and chewing up what little scenery there is. “Girls” star Driver is surprisingly charming as the overly-enthusiastic photographer and thorn in Davidson’s side. This is a superb Australian film about a fascinating woman featuring some of our most isolated territory – a must-see for lovers of beautiful cinematography of Australian desertscapes. Be sure to stay for the credits to see some of the original photos of the real Davidson on her journey.
9:03 PM, 23rd August, 2014
This is the third (and best) instalment in the amiably tangled adventures of Xavier (Duris). You might recall that the first, The Spanish Apartment (2002) was set in Barcelona; the sequel, Russian Dolls (2004), largely in St. Petersburg; this one, given its title, is of course set mainly – in New York (specifically, Chinatown).
Each title in the series gives some clue as to what the film is about (although the meaning of The Spanish Apartment only makes sense in French). A Chinese puzzle is brain-breakingly complicated, and after all that’s happened so far, that’s what Xavier’s life has become. He and Wendy (Reilly) have divorced; she’s found someone else and moved to New York, and he follows (not on a foolish quest to win her back, but so that he can be near his kids). He stays a while with two lesbian friends, finds a lowly job, moves into his own flat and his own sham green-card marriage – then finds that Martine (Tautou), his original sweetheart from the first film, is in New York too. Martine is a delight: she has mellowed over time, and I think Tautou has as well – if you ever found her too archly lovable in the past, she’s genuinely lovable now.
Don’t worry if you haven’t seen, or don’t remember everything, from the earlier films. Who could remember it all? It doesn’t matter which you see first: any one of the three films is enough to get you hooked.