This week's readings | Australasian crime films


Two Hands (Gregor Jordan, 1999)
Dirty Deeds (David Caesar, 2002)
Idiot Box (David Caesar, 1996)
The Bank (Robert Connolly, 2001)
The Interview (Craig Monahan, 1998)
The Monkey's Mask (Samantha Lang, 2000)

Main screening

The Hard Word (Scott Roberts, 2002)

The structure I'll use is that provided by Steve Neale in the reading for this week (which I use in this week's chapter), referring to his tripartite division of contemporary crime films into three principal sub-genres:
  1. the detective film (and investigative thriller)
  2. the gangster film
  3. the suspense thriller
However, in the presentation, I'll begin with the criminal (or gangster).

The criminal (the gangster film)

Bryan Brown has often played a criminal (although he was a policeman in Dead Heart [Nicholas Parsons, 1996]). In Money Movers (Bruce Beresford, 1979), for example, he is one of a group of men working for a security company who attempt to do an inside job and steal $20 million from a payroll counting office. Brown's character is shot near the end of the story. In Two Hands he is the boss of a small criminal gang operating out of an office in King's Cross, Sydney. But he also a devoted father. 1. Scrabble scene. Note the decor, the costumes, the use of language. [clip "scrabble" 13.17 - 16.53]
2. Origami scene. Note the contrast between Pando (Bryan Brown)'s relationship with his son (and cf. similar in Dirty Deeds) and that with his colleagues. Note also his and his wife's clothing. [clip "origami" 49.39 - 50.47]
3. HOTRadio: the radio station would have given them the $10000 Jimmy needs, but they run the truck off the road. This joke is perpetrated despite the fact that the other guy's brother has just been shot dead by the police. Then we continue on to the next joke: the kid playing with the loaded gun shoots a hole in the ceiling. Note the mixture: dramatic/comic. [clip "HOTradio" 1.14.40 - 1.16.53] Bryan Brown has moved up somewhat in terms of power and prestige. But his character is still a family man with a sense of humour (and questionable taste). We also see Sal learning about Australia from Tony: what language do they speak over there? Do they look like Mexicans? [clip "pool" 7.30 - 10.25] Continuing the theme of the division of the criminal into personal and "professional", in this film we have two young guys who try to rob a bank because they have seen it on the idiot box (TV), and think they can do it better. But they run into some real pros. This is the final scene. (Graeme Blundell [Alvin Purple] is one of the detectives. David Wenham is the bank teller!) Kev (Ben Mendelsohn) and Mick (Jeremy Sims) are about to rob a bank - something they've never done before - when the real pros (including Andrew S. Gilbert) burst in. Mick and Lani and Lani's brother are able to get away; but Mick has a different scenario in mind. Kev wants a big finish; so does David Caesar. Mick stays with the man he loves: two sociopaths together. [clip "robbery" 1.12.57 - 1.17.48] White collar bank robbery now. But which gang are the real criminals this time: the "robber", or the bank itself? David Wenham plays a man with a brilliant mathematical mind who has a life-long grudge against the bank. He plans to destroy it. But our sympathies are with him. The film did quite well - because everyone hates banks! But the real star of this unusual film is the computer graphics (not CGI - graphs and Mandelbrot Set fractal images). Personally, I thought the titles were the best part of the film - but I wanted to give you one example of an attempt to show white collar crime. [clip "graph" 1.28.29 - 1.30.16]

The investigator (the detective film, and investigative thriller)

In this scene Eddie (Hugo Weaving) turns the situation around. He has previously confessed to several murders; now he says he was making it up for the benefit of the investigator, Tony Martin. Weaving is the star of the film, but it would be nothing without the fine performance of Martin. Note the apparatus of the investigation; the emotional involvement of the investigator; the set, the noir style, darkness, moral ambivalence: this is one of the dark films of the late 1990s. I suppose the obvious mainstream comparison is one with The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995). [clip "turn" 1.12.46 - 1.18.36]

In this scene Jill (Susie Porter), the investigator, gets the confession from the murderer, Nick (Marton Czokas). They discuss their mutual love for Nick's wife, Diana (Kelly McGillis). Diana's character is typical of the spider women of the 1940s American noir films. Note the apparatus of the investigation (another tape recorder); the emotional involvement of the investigator (again), and the risks taken by her. [clip "confession" 1.15.32 - 1.17.45]

The victim (suspense thriller)

We'll see this later in the unit. no suitable short example Many of you have seen Kiss or Kill in the unit MED116 Intro to Screen Studies.
Further examples (not shown): and see the list of Australasian crime films.

Blue Murder (Michael Jenkins, 1995) (TV)
Dead Heart (Nicholas Parsons, 1996)
Deadly (Esben Storm, 1992)
Envy (Julie Money, 1999)
Georgia (Ben Lewin, 1989)
Redball (Jon Hewitt, 1999)
Shame (Steve Jodrell, 1988)
Stone (Sandy Harbutt, 1974)

Blood Money (Chris Fitchett, 1980)
Gettin' Square (Jonathan Teplitzky, 2003)
Romper Stomper (Geoffrey Wright, 1992)
Risk (Alan White, 2000)

Day of the Panther (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1988)
Dead-End Drive In (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1986)
Silent Partner (Alkinos Tsilimidos, 2001)
Turkey Shoot (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1982)

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