Innuendo – the bad twin. Twice the value!

David Black reviews Saara Lamberg’s feature debut, “Innuendo” and opening night.

Movie premieres can be quite a glamorous affair, but when the movie is an Australian, indie arthouse movie, like “Innuendo”, things can be very strange indeed!  I must say that this is the first film I’ve been to where I was handed a pencil and paper so that I could draw the naked models onstage!  I apologise that I forgot to take a pic of that to share.

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Andy Hazel (Thomas), Saara Lamberg (Writer Director Producer, Tuuli/Suvi), Brendan Bacon (Ben)

The movie premiered at Melbourne’s beautiful Cinema Nova, in Carlton, to a full house.  Saara made it a fascinating event with life models on stage, prizes and a Q&A at the end.  This was a magical night and I am glad to share my impressions of the movie with you.

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Saara Lamberg’s first feature movie, Innuendo, is described on IMDB as follows:
When a mysterious young woman starts a new life as an art model, will her demons leave her alone or finally reveal the naked truth?
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I consider this to be a very important piece of Aussie cinema, and this will become apparent as you read my review.

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Innuendo is written, directed and produced by Saara, who also stars in it.  It was partly shot in her country of birth, Finland, which gives the movie a very interesting contrast of European arthouse styling by the Finnish director of photography- Eero Vihavainen, and a very classic Aussie feel by the Australian dop – Michael Liparota.  The shift between both works well due to our main character’s childhood being in Finland while the drama unfolding is in Australia.  The Euro style enhances that dream like quality to the flashbacks.

The overall vibe is reminiscent of many of the legendary 1970’s indie classics from downunder, such as Picnic at Hanging Rock, Sunday Too Far Away, Walkabout and The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith.  This makes Innuendo a vital link between the present school of film makers and the greats from the heyday of the Aussie indie movie industry.

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Sometimes its the small things that just blow me away.  That little bit of extra care which might not be immediately noticed, but has a major effect on the audience.  In this case, its the mood shots between the main action.  These could simply be a bug crawling up a long blade of grass with the sound of a diggeridoo or jews harp in the background, or a slow pan of the detail in a sculpture against the over reverbed thud of industrial machinery.  Saara has carefuly chosen these images in conjunction with with the editor Adam Ghiggino and composer Charly Harrison.

She also hasn’t been afraid to push the bar and explore taboo subjects. The IMDB description talks of “female inner demons,” and vital to understanding these is the exploration adolescent sexuality and experiences.  I don’t believe that the story would make sense without these, yet, so many of today’s’ local film makers would not have the intestinal fortitude to touch on this area.

The characters are all quite off beat, yet at the same time, believable.  Brendan Bacon does a brilliant job as Ben, a bogan artist with an open mind.  His performance stands out because bogan and open minded aren’t usually something that fit into the same sentence.

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Saara plays the roles of the twin sisters Tuuli and Suvi.  She brings a certain something to this that I can’t quite put into words.  How do you describe someone who is able to draw you in without words during scenes that can often be quite moody and contemplative?  It’s not an easy skill to engage the audience when things are dark and silent, but she keeps you there, locked in and afraid to look away in case you miss that vital cue.

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Aside from the main characters, there’s a who’s who of local indie actors that you see in many of the Australian features that are coming out now, such as Naomi Lisner, who plays Sally the art teacher.  She can be seen in the upcoming films, Hannah and Tracy.

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Naomi Lisner

All up, the movie is riveting, offbeat and has a fantastic twist at the end that you just don’t see coming.  It does get a bit slow in places, although that pacing is pretty much in line with the Aussie indie movies of the 70’s.  I would recommend this to adults only, but not so much due to the nudity as for the psychological themes.  If you collect Indie Aussie movies, or are starting a collection, then you will have to have this one.  It’s Saara’s debut as a feature director and you can see that she is going to become a big name.

Acting – 8
Cinematography – 7
Plot/ Screenplay – 8
Setting/ Theme – 8
Buyability – 8
Recyclability – 10

You can still see Innuendo at Cinema Nova on Tues 24th and Wed 25th October http://www.cinemanova.com.au/films/innuendo

Links:      Facebook  IMDB

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Marital Problems – Bros Before Hoes??

David Black reviews the Aussie indie movie, “Marital Problems”

 

I’ve just finished watching a quirky, Aussie indie movie called “Marital Problems.”  The description on the IMDB is “On the eve of his eviction, Ian’s home becomes invaded by Clarke, an unscrupulous gardener who recounts the events of his failed marriage in attempt to bring closure to Ian’s prior engagement that failed to go the distance.”

The movie poster itself looks pretty mainstream, but this film is so off the wall that neither the poster nor the description really do this movie justice.  At times, it reminds me of “Alice in Wonderland” in the way that we meet some crazy characters along the way who end up giving us deep insights into life.  All the while, most of this occurs within the most Australian of settings where 3 guys sit around drinking beer and talking crap.

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Callum Gault as Ian.  Photo by Lone Viking

Our main character, Ian, is played by Callum Gault.  Callum has been acting since his school days and it shows.  He brings a gritty realism to this role of a man who is tired and broken, and just trying to understand.  He does a fantastic job of keeping it believable when the situations are often absurd.

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Nick Capper as Clarke.  Photo by Lone Viking

Nick Capper plays the role of Clarke, our “unscrupulous gardener”.  Nick has an extensive history in stand-up comedy and been in quite a few TV series, such as “Bruce” and “Phrankurtville.”  There are times when he has you roaring with laughter and other times that you just cringe.   Callum and Nick make a great team and the synergy shows more as the film progresses.

Neil Goldsmith plays the handyman, McManus.  He is more of the straight guy, or at least as straight as you can be in such a strange movie.  Without Neil’s performance, the sheer craziness of Ian and Clarke might have become a bit too far fetched.  Neil manages to pull off the role of being the average Aussie bloke convincingly when the situations are far from being normal.  He even manages that when his own actions are a bit on the crazy side.

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Of course, there can be no movie about marital problems without the female love interest.  Completing our four main cast is Aleis Duffy.  Prior to this, she appeared in the TV comedy, “Henry Haus.”  Her performances in both productions show her to be versatile and I’ll be looking out for her in any future shows she is in.  For now, I can’t say any more about her in this role without giving away important elements of the story line.

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Aleis Duffy.  Photo by Lone Viking

One thing that struck me with this movie was the amazing choices of colour palette for different scenes.  I realise that colourists don’t usually get a look in when it comes to reviews but this really did stand out and enhance the feel of the movie greatly.  This was the work of the DOP, Mark Kenfield.  I’m not sure if he also chose some of the cutaway shots, but these were also well done.  When moving from one main scene to another, the choice of little scenes, such as rain drops hitting puddles, or fast moving city scapes at night, really give this movie its own unique feel.

Another thing, that might go unnoticed by many, are the cameos within the movie by the crew.  The director, Dia Taylor appears as an animal shelter employee.  The producer and screenwriter, Julian Barbor (also known as Jay Edward), is there as a writer.  And in vibe with the strangeness of the story, Jay told me that what he was writing in the scene, is the actual scene you are watching.

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All up, the movie will appeal to those who love strange Aussie independent movies.  I’m more a lover of Ozploitation, horror and sci fi, so it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.  It was worth breaking myself out of my comfort zone to watch this though.  Partly because I recognised so many friends in it, but mainly because it has pathos, deep insights on life and strong characters.

Marital Problems will be showing next at the 18th Melbourne Undeground Film Festival, October 28 – November 23 2017 http://www.muff.com.au/

And is currently doing the film festival circuit.  More details can be found on their official facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/MaritalProblemsMovie/

Mad, bad and the jokes are from dad (if your dad is gay)!

David Black reviews Fags In The Fast Lane

Fags in the Fastlane is a the leader in the current renaissance of Ozploitation movies.  Its’ recent debut at Melbourne’s grand old Astor theatre was packed to the rafters, with the crowd queuing up past the shopping block to get in.  I was there, and when people were leaving at the end of the night, they were excitedly babbling on about the film like chipmunks on speed.

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The official description of FITF is as follows:

“When Beau and his herculean sidekick set off to avenge a spree of violent attacks on his fellow gays, he is waylaid on a vital mission for his beloved mama, Kitten when her GILF bordello is robbed by the giantess leader of a grotesque burlesque show. With the help of a lethal cross dressing Persian Princess and a Bollywood eunuch assassin, this unlikely team of avengers set off to retrieve the lost booty in a full-throttle, rock n roll feast of camp destruction and dangerous dance numbers.
Will they be able to recover Kitten’s beloved jewels and magical golden phallus? They’d better!”

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This is Josh (Sinbad) Collins debut as a director for a feature film, and it’s a beauty.  If you are looking for over the top characters, strange gangs battling it out and lots of bad taste action, then this is it.  The stylised opening reminds me of the intro to Ed Woods’ “Glen or Glenda,” after the Bela Lugosi monologue.

Chris Asimos stars as the cocky, cockslinger, Sir Beauregard Esquire, or Beau.  His partner, Lump, played by Matt Jones is reminiscent of Roger Ward’s “Chief Guard Ritter” from the 1982 Ozploitation classic, Turkey Shoot.   The two are hilarious as they make a high camp superhero duo that romp through one over the top scene after another, delivering the cheesiest lines imaginable as they get up to all sorts of “wanky panky.”  Sasha Cuha makes the transition from theatre to his first feature film seamlessly and plays Salome.  Along with Oliver Bell as squirt, they complete our band of heroes as they fight their way through numerous crazy adventures to recover Kitten’s lost fortune, and of course, the golden cock!

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Kitten Natividad plays Kitten, the cockslingers’ mother.  She reminded me a bit of Mother Firefly from The Devils Rejects.  Kitten herself is a veteran of B grade films, having starred in many Russ Meyer movies and she gives Fags InThe Fastlane a real life tie-in to the very genre it pays homage to.

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Stuart Simpson is the cinematographer and you can see his stamp all over this with some of the genre stylisations.  The miniatures used throughout are the work of Josh Collins and Tor Hellender. Both work well together to give a bit of a Thunderbirds feel to many outlandish scenes.  Some of the humour comes from using models and dolls where they actually aren’t needed at all.  I’m not going to spoil that for you but will just leave that as something to look out for.

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The sound track often has a rocky, late 60’s vibe complete with Hammond organ riffs. It enhances some of the psychedelic, trippy, wtf scenes, such as the weird clay animation swamp scene with ultra violet lighting.  All up, this is a fairly hard and fast paced movie with so much going on that it definitely took me a second watch for some of the major parts of the story to sink in.  Come to think if it, I might need to watch this a third time too, but will wait for my heart rate to slow back down to normal first.

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There’s a little bit of everything in this movie, from song and dance scenes, to fight scenes, sex and gore, animations, crazy gadgets, ingenious traps, weird drugs, third world pornographers, freak show mutants, monsters, disco freaks, Sci-fi guns ….. and more, all brought together with relentless dad joke type innuendo.  That is, if your dad is gay.

To quote another famous Aussie icon, who happens to be gay …. “Do yourself a favour” and go out and see this one.

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Link – https://www.fagsinthefastlane.com/

This one aint for pussies!

David Black reviews Cat Sick Blues

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There’s a deeply disturbing Ozploitation obsession about the grief of losing a cat.  The IMDB description for Daniel Armstrong’s upcoming release, “Tarnation”, starts as follows, “When Oscar is fired, and her boyfriend walks out (taking the cat), she heads to a remote cabin in the woods……”  Stuart Simpson’s “Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla” is a crazed descent into madness after an ice cream vendor accidentally runs over his cat and loses the plot.  Dave Jackson takes this to a whole new level of insanity with “Cat Sick Blues.”

This is one truly disturbing movie.  It will certainly have you thinking twice about feeling sorry for socially awkward geeks.  In fact, Matthew C Vaughan’s portrayal of Ted, the cat mourning geek, makes Norman Bates seem somehow comforting to be around.  He is calculating, unfeeling and sexually depraved.

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Shian Denovan plays Claire, your pretty girl next door type.  She makes a decent contrast to the sick characters she encounters, as well as a nice victim.  No one likes to see bad things happen to good people but she seems far too trusting and that gets the tension going.

Dave Jackson hasn’t given any of the usual cue’s when something nasty is about to happen though.  You just have no idea when the screen is going to be splattered red.  Usually, when a scene is building towards something horrific, the music starts to get weird, the lighting and colour palette becomes sickly, there might be quick cuts or stylisations and the framing of the shots might have the bad guy uncomfortably squeezed into them and even looming menacingly.  Nope.  In this, shit just happens.  And lots of it too!

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Dave does have your scenes where the music gets sinister and the shots are uncomfortable, but they seem to be there for pacing and sometimes for mood.

One of the big stars of this movie is the prop maker, Dieter Barry.  The decapitated heads were spot on likenesses.  There are other things that I would like to mention too, but can’t because I just don’t like to give any spoilers in a movie review.  What I can say is that some props are on the insane side of things.  You wouldn’t even find them at the most underground fetish shop.

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I’m a great lover of Ozploitation movies and this one brings us into the contemporary, internet age.  Youtubing, viral videos and sex tapes are a key part of this.  Life, when broadcast online becomes devoid of meaning and just another form of entertainment, where the viewer no longer sees the victim as a human being.  From this angle, Cat Sick Blues becomes a commentary on life in the cyber age.

The film builds in pace and depravity, becoming more surreal.  For those that collect Ozploitation movies, this is a must for the collection.

Cat Sick Blues – http://monsterpictures.com.au/shop/cat-sick-blues-dvd/