Monthly Archives: January 2016

They Left Too Soon….

I’m posting this impromptu blog about the recent deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Some debate has been sparked about reactions to celebrity deaths. I’m aware this is not the kind of topic I usually write about. Regardless, I want to address the impact both Rickman and Bowie had on the arts.¬†

Last week was a very unpleasant week for the world and the arts, as we lost pop legend David Bowie and acting giant Alan Rickman, both aged 69 and both died from cancer. Obviously, this is a ridiculously young age to go and not the most pleasant of exits. Neither had announced their cancer battles either, preferring to fight the disease in private while continuing to make their art.

Bowie of course was the pinnacle of musical success. His career, especially in the 1970s, was considered innovative. His talent was obvious. He wasn’t one of the artists like we have today who sang generic tunes written by multitudes of other people. He could play instruments. He could write songs alone. We’re unlikely to see a musician do what he did again. There’s really no point in harping on about his career and what he accomplished. We all know it. And it’s actually not where I really discovered him either.

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Oh yeah ūüôā

Yes, like a vast majority of 80s and 90s children, I knew Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King from the 1986 film Labyrinth directed by the legendary Jim Henson.
I watched Labyrinth¬†so much in primary school. This was the movie the teachers would always play when it rained, or the day before the holidays started, or on the coach to school camp. Sadly though the school’s VHS copy seemed to pause at one particular moment. Every time, without fail, the tape would go haywire. So it took a few goes before I finally saw the ending. And while this may have been the early days of the internet and spoiler alerts, it didn’t stop my friend from ruining the end for me. Grrr.
It’s not the most flawless of movies. There’s definitely a dated quality to¬†Labyrinth¬†now. But I still really enjoy it. It’s undeniably charming, it’s wildly creative, visually interesting and Jim Henson’s magic reigns supreme.
Bowie wrote the songs for the movie, and they’re all wonderful. My favourite is the ungodly catchy Magic Dance. That song refuses to leave my head when I hear it. Not that I’m complaining. It’s a good song ūüôā

Above everything else, Jareth is a fun villain, no less because of who’s playing him. Though I’m also prepared to bet he’s memorable because that infamous costume taught us more about the male anatomy than our young minds ever wanted to know.

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That thing should have been censored

Alan Rickman gave us so many excellent performances it’s hard to know where to begin. He was the hilariously charistmatic terrorist Hans Gruber in¬†Die Hard, one of my favourite movies to watch at Christmas time (shut up, it counts!). He shone in¬†Sense and Sensibility. And of course, he was Severus Snape.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (yes, it’s PHILOSOPHER’S Stone, it always will be philosopher’s stone and if anyone tries to ‘correct’ me, you are WRONG and should be introduced to a Blast-Ended Skrewt!) came out when I was five years old. I could already read fluently by that point and I was the perfect age to read the books. I’m a proud and unashamed Potterhead in every sense of the word. I’m so grateful to be part of the Potter generation. And we’re all so thankful to J.K Rowling for giving us the world of Harry Potter, and giving us a character like Snape.
Could the Harry Potter films have ever asked for better casting? Rickman was everything Snape should be. He was a vindictive bully, he was intimidating, but he was still sympathetic, incredibly funny and played the Pensieve scenes in Deathly Hallows Part 2 to absolute perfection.

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I may be a robot but this scene nearly destroyed me

I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. The same goes for his other characters. Whether he was playing a cold-hearted villain or an amiable office worker in¬†Love Actually, Alan Rickman made every role his own. And even though he was known for being the antagonist, according to every report he was the exact opposite when the cameras weren’t rolling. By all accounts, he was the most kind-hearted and generous of people you could ever wish to meet. It just goes to show how the actors who play the best villains are often the nicest people in real life.

always

The loss of such talent is completely heartbreaking. Sadly, there’s been a number of self-righteous keyboard warriors in cyberspace who feel the need to discourage people from paying tribute to the deceased.¬†You didn’t know them personally!¬†they howl.¬†Where were you when they were still alive?

In rebuttal, I give you my friend and fellow actor Sam’s views on the matter:

One of the (mixed?) blessings of social media is the chance for people to share their sentiments outside of the realm of private conversation. But there seems, for some reason, to be a reactionary response to people expressing grief when famous artists shuffle (or, in recent cases, plummet before their time) off the old mortal coil.
The premise of ‘you didn’t know them personally, so why mourn publicly’ seems to be a moral stance, as if it’s somehow undignified or sycophantic to do so. It’s disrespectful to their ‘actual’ family is also a phrase I’ve heard lately.
I really think people who feel that way are missing a vital point. Great art is meant to be shared, becomes public domain at the express intent of the artist and is one of the great things that makes life worth living. No one who mourns the loss of an artist, unless they actually knew them privately, is mourning the loss of person they claim to have known. They are mourning the loss of an ARTIST and should be encouraged to do so! When ambassadors of great art leave us, we feel loss. That’s a good thing, surely?It means their work is done! They may not have known us, but, as artists, we sure as anything knew them. Bowie may have been your Goblin King or showed you how being different was beautiful, Rickman may have shown you more succinctly than anyone else what losing a loved one feels like when he ‘haunted’ Juliet Stevenson and so on. These artistic turns may have had more impact on us than anything else, for all I know!
So mourn them. I reckon it’s pretty warranted. And if people say you’ve no right to, tell them, in your best Alan Rickman voice, to ‘get knotted’!

We mourn the loss of talent. We celebrate the achievements of these men. We get inspired, we long to have the impact they had. We strive to have their passion and dedication. We want to have the same fearlessness they had in the pursuit of creativity.

This is what the arts can do for people. Bowie and Rickman had visions. They had creativity. They had integrity in life and in their work. It never seemed like they craved the spotlight or awards. They just wanted to change the world through the most accessible means possible. Art.
If nothing else, Bowie and Rickman were examples of true artistry. No pretense, no childish attempts to grab the spotlight, just two very talented people who wanted to say something to the world in their own unique way.  We remember what they gave us, we thank them for the gift they left to the world and learn from what they taught us.

Thankyou David Bowie and Alan Rickman for everything you gave us. You will be sadly missed and never forgotten as long as the art form lives.

Now if everyone could form a protective circle around all remaining British talent, that would be great.

Top 10 Touching Simpsons Moments Part 2

5. Lisa’s Wedding (Season 6, Episode 19)

lisa'swedding

How could I not put this entire episode up? I can’t pick just one moment from¬†Lisa’s Wedding.¬†They’d take up half the list.
Lisa runs into a fortune teller at a medieval fair who tells her the tale of her apparent first love. In 2010, Lisa becomes engaged to the charming Hugh Parkfield. Hugh tries to fit in with the Simpson family but is continually injured, annoyed and genuinely frightened by them. However, once Lisa discovers Hugh plans to move back to London, essentially cutting Lisa off from her family, she is completely outraged and calls off the wedding.
Everything about this episode is done perfectly. The framing device of a fortune teller,¬†The Simpsons’¬†version of what the future might look like (they got Skype somewhat right!), Maggie being a talented singer and chatterbox that we still never hear talk. Every reveal of what happened to the characters is a riot, particularly the revelation that Martin Prince has become the Phantom of the Opera. Hugh, voiced by acting legend Mandy Patinkin, is a very enjoyable character. Granted, he isn’t the nicest guy, but you really sympathise with his reactions to the Simpson family and he has some good lines here and there. It’s an extremely funny episode because of the subject matter and the choices they make in telling this story.
However, what makes this episode stand out as one of¬†The Simpsons’¬†finest is Lisa’s fierce loyalty to her family, and how she would never abandon them no matter how much irritation they cause her. The scene between her and Homer is absolutely stunning and heartfelt. But the line that sums up Lisa best in this episode is an exchange between her and Hugh.

Hugh: But Lisa, you’re better than this place. You’re like a flower that grew out of a pot of dirt.
Lisa: That’s a horrible thing to say!
Hugh: Oh come on. You complain about them more than anyone.
Lisa: Maybe, but I still love them. And I don’t think you understand that.¬†

Any way you slice it,¬†Lisa’s Wedding¬†is one of the most emotional and memorable episodes ever and more than earns its place on the list.

4.  After the prom (The Way We Was, Season 2 Episode 12)

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The family’s beloved TV blows up, so they pass the time by telling the story of how Homer and Marge met.
Homer and Marge met in high school, where Homer pretended to be in need of Marge’s tutoring in order to get to know her. Once Marge discovered the deception, she went to the prom with resident genius Artie Ziff. However, after the festivities Artie wouldn’t take no for an answer, leading Marge to realise who she should have chosen as her date. What follows is a simple scene of beautiful romance.

Marge: Why so glum?
Homer:¬†I’ve got a problem. As soon as you stop this car, I’m going to hug you. And kiss you. And then I’ll never be able to let you go. (Cut to the present) And I never have.

3. Do It For Her (And Maggie Makes Three, Season 6 Episode 13)

do it for her

Wondering why there are no photos of Maggie in the family albums, Marge and Homer tell the story of Maggie’s birth.
Homer quit his hated job at the power plant to take up his dream role of working at the local bowling alley. However, while ‘celebrating’ their new life, Marge became pregnant with Maggie, forcing Homer to return to the plant. As punishment for quitting in the first place, Mr Burns installed a demotivational plaque at Homer’s workstation reading¬†DON’T FORGET: YOU’RE HERE FOREVER.
However, when Maggie was born, Homer was enraptured by his daughter. It’s revealed that he has all her photos at work, strategically placed¬†over the plaque so it reads DO IT FOR HER.
This is definitely one of the most famous moments in the entire series and for good reason. For all Homer’s flaws and stupidity, he truly has a lot of kindness in his heart. This is also an episode which shows real life struggles. Having to support a family. Making sacrifices for the good of those around you. Sometimes you have to work a job you don’t like because it’s the only option. There’s no rosy ending here. Homer has to live with the situation, but still finds the motivation and joy to keep going in his daughter. Definitely worthy for the third spot on the list.

2. Lisa and Bart Montage (Lisa on Ice, Season 6 Episode 8)

lisa on ice

Lisa discovers she is failing gym class at school. Desperate to avoid failing, she tries her hardest at junior sports. She discovers a natural talent for ice hockey and quickly becomes the star player of the Kwik-E-Mart Gougers. However, Bart is the star player on the opposing team, the Mighty Pigs. Homer’s favouritism and overall idiocy pins the two siblings against each other until they have to face off in the final game.
Of course this episode is hilarious. Homer is at his douchebag finest, there’s the iconic fist fight between Bart and Lisa and Ralph Wiggum’s unforgettable quip (Me fail English? That’s un-possible).¬†There’s plenty more jokes I could mention, but that’s not why we love this episode. We love it because of the ending.
After spending the entire episode at odds, Bart and Lisa come to the final, deciding shot of the game. The entire crowd is screaming for blood. But then, Bart and Lisa begin to remember all the times they shared when they were little. They both step aside and the match is declared a draw.
Again, this is why we love this show. We can laugh at and relate to it. Bart and Lisa may be very different people, but they are siblings first and foremost and share a very fierce bond. The scenarios shown in the montage are all very simple and sweet, and it’s all done through music and visuals. In the end, they make the big choice and decide their relationship is more important that who wins. It’s a case of blood being thicker than water, or rather, a petty sports match.
Of course, the hilarity with the ending is how the town riots over a mere children’s hockey game but again, that shows the maturity and love between Bart and Lisa, and gave us the moment which still tugs at the heartstrings.

Before I unveil the top pick, here are a few honourable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Maude Flanders’ Death (Alone Again, Natura-Diddly S11 Ep14)
maude

Homer’s Note to Lisa (HOMR, S12 Ep9)
HOMR

Lisa and Bleeding Gums Murphy (‘Round Springfield, S6 Ep22)
'Round_Springfield_121

1. Night Sky (Mother Simpson, Season 7 Episode 8)

mother simpson

Homer’s long presumed-dead mother Mona returns to Springfield after being on the run for many years. In the 60s, Mona was part of a hippie group which destroyed Mr Burns’ germ warfare lab. Mona was the only one to be identified as a suspect and was subsequently forced into hiding to protect her family. The whole family and especially Homer embraces Mona with open arms. But when Mr Burns discovers Mona’s whereabouts, she’s once again forced to the underground.
As if I even need to go into much detail. This moment is so famous it’s still talked about. Homer’s goodbye to his mother is nothing short of iconic, and the dialogue is some of¬†The Simpsons’¬†finest writing.

Homer: At least this time I’m awake for your goodbye.
Mona: Oh Homer. Remember, whatever happens, you have a mother, and she’s truly proud of you.
Homer: Don’t forget me!
Mona: Don’t worry Homer. You’ll always be a part of me. (Hits head) D’OH!

Glenn Close is of course perfect as the guest star, and it’s fun to finally learn a few secrets, such as where Lisa’s intelligence comes from. But that final shot of Homer staring at the sky is seared into our memories. Even the production team decided no promotions should be played over those credits because the moment was so touching. This was absolutely the right choice.
For all these reasons and more, the ending of Mother Simpson earns the top spot.

Next Week: Is RENT a masterpiece?

Top 10 Touching Simpsons Moments Part 1

Since 1989, The Simpsons have been making us laugh and redefining comedy and satire. But as we all know, the earlier seasons not only gave us sheer hilarity and biting social commentary, it also ¬†gave us some of the most heartfelt and tear-jerking moments in television. And I’m going to bring out the tissues while counting them down today (actually, it’s very unlikely I’ll get teary since I’m a total robot when it comes to crying in movies and TV shows. Just ask my boyfriend).
The only rule for this list is I have to have seen the episode in it’s entirety for the moment to qualify. Obviously there’s spoilers for the two of you out there who’ve never seen the show, but I’m going to assume if you’re reading this, you’ve seen the show too many times to count. Anyhow, prepare yourself to cry all over again, as we count down the Top Ten Touching Simpsons Moments.

10. Homer sells his ride on the Duff Blimp (Lisa the Beauty Queen, Season 4 Episode 4)

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In this classic from Season 4, Lisa becomes highly insecure about her looks after an unflattering caricature. Homer, eager to prove to Lisa how beautiful she is, decides to enter her in the Little Miss Springfield beauty pageant. However, he can’t afford it, so he¬†sells¬†his winning ticket for a ride on the Duff Blimp.
The scene where Homer looks in his wallet and sees a picture of Lisa beside the ticket is one of the most lovely images in¬†The Simpsons¬†history. He chooses his daughter’s happiness over something material that meant the world to him.
Homer gets criticised both on and off screen for being a bad father. But this is one of many shining examples of Homer showing how loving he truly is. It’s summed up beautifully at the end.

Lisa: Do you remember why you entered me in that pageant?
Homer: I don’t know. Was I drunk?
Lisa: Possibly. But the point is you wanted me to feel better about myself. And I do.
Homer: Will you remember this the next time I wreck your life?
Lisa: It’s a deal

It’s certainly not a moment we’re likely to forget anytime soon.

9. “You are Lisa Simpson” (Lisa’s Substitute, Season 2 Episode 19)

you are lisa simpson

I’ve put this one pretty low on the list since I talked about it on my Top Ten Episodes¬†blog, but it¬†really is a gem in the show’s history. The scene where Lisa says goodbye to Mr Bergstrom, the only person to ever truly understand and encourage her is genuinely heartbreaking. She feels that her life will have no meaning without his validation. But Mr Bergstrom says¬†“When you feel like you’re alone, and there’s no-one you can rely on, this is all you need to know,”

You are Lisa Simpson.
We all know Lisa is one of the best characters on the show but this was the first time she’d been given the assurance that she is enough.
Every time the episode plays, there’s not a dry eye in the house. Except me. Because I’m a robot.

8. “Daddy” (Lisa’s First Word, Season 4 Episode 2)

maggie's first word

Bemoaning Maggie’s inability to talk, Marge decides to tell the story of Lisa’s first word. It turns out Bart had a serious case of jealousy when Lisa was born, but this changed when Lisa’s first word is “Bart”.
There’s a number of classic moments in this episode. America winning the Olympics, the gymnast landing on a broken leg, Bart staying at the Flanders’ house, then trying various schemes to get rid of Lisa. Personally my favourite is the terrifying clown bed Homer builds to please Bart. ¬†But as great as the episode is, that’s not why we remember it. See, both Bart and Lisa called their father ‘Homer’ as infants, something which always bothered him. But in the last few seconds,¬†Maggie is the one to finally call Homer what he always wanted: Daddy. It’s simultaneously heartfelt and infuriatingly sad, since Homer never hears it.
But maybe in the end that’s what makes it so memorable. We keep coming back to the episode hoping it will have a different outcome. It never changes but still gives us a moment we will never forget.

7. Bike Ride (Duffless, Season 4 Episode 16)

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Homer is arrested for a DUI and Marge persuades him to give up beer for a month. Homer faces terrible temptations and attends Alcoholic Anonymous meetings only to be kicked out, but manages to keep his promise to remain sober.
Of course, there’s a very funny side plot involving Lisa testing and unknowing Bart’s intelligence against a hamster, but the heart of¬†Duffless¬†is the relationship between Homer and Marge. At the end of the episode, Homer eagerly rushes back to Moe’s, ignoring Marge’s request for a bike ride. However, once he sees what his alcoholic friends have been reduced to, he decides to join Marge for a bike ride after all.

This moment gets overlooked a lot, but it’s a very beautiful scene. No words necessary, just a really lovely example of Homer putting his wife first, and it leads to one of the most romantic moments in¬†The Simpsons.

6. Bart’s Breakdown (Bart Gets an F, Season 2 Episode 1)

bart gets an f

I’ll admit it’s not my favourite episode, but it’s still one I have a lot of respect for. Bart, having failed too many times, is told he may have to repeat Year 4 (4th grade for any American readers). He studies insanely hard to the point of practically torturing himself, and even appeals to God for a blizzard so he has one more day to study. But despite everything, he doesn’t appear to pass his exam.
Bart’s resulting devastation is probably the saddest thing you’ll ever see on¬†The Simpsons.¬†He truly works his hardest and still doesn’t succeed (I’m aware there’s a happy ending, but let’s leave that for now). This is a very hard lesson to learn and there is zero sugar coating of it here. It’s not heightened, it’s not surreal. It’s a tough slice of reality. We see the struggle Bart goes through, we feel the bitter disappointment of failure despite his efforts and we rejoice at his eventual triumph. 33 million viewers went through it for the first time on October 11th, 1990. As of 2016,¬†Bart Gets an F¬†remains the highest rated episode of¬†The Simpsons.

Halfway through the list with plenty more tear-jerking moments to come!

Next Week: Part 2!

The Dressmaker: Everything Wrong with Australian Films

The Dressmaker¬†is one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had in the cinema.¬†¬†It’s rare that a movie makes me this fundamentally outraged. It may be a critical and financial success but for me,¬†The Dressmaker¬†is an example of everything wrong with the Australian film industry. I know I’m in a minority here. I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this. And that’s fine, everyone likes different things. It’s not about whether you like or dislike a movie/TV show/anything. What matters is how well you can explain your reasons.

Based on the popular 2000 novel by Rosalie Ham,¬†The Dressmaker tells the story of Tilly Dunnage, a talented dressmaker who returns to her childhood town to care for her mentally unstable mother. However, at the age of 10, Tilly was accused of murdering a local boy and was sent away. For some reason, Tilly can’t remember anything about the alleged incident and seeks both answers and revenge.
It’s one of the most successful Australian films. But that does not a good movie make. At least for my taste. It’s not like there’s an abundance of Australian films to begin with, and even less that are actually good. The only Australian films I like are¬†The Castle, The Black Balloon, Gallipoli¬†and¬†Strictly Ballroom. Harsh? Maybe, but I can’t force myself to like something, and as a critic, I certainly can’t overlook such glaring flaws.

Rest assured, I am going to add as many spoilers as humanly possible. Fair warning to those who want to see it. And if you think the movie is a masterpiece, I advise you to stop reading. I don’t want to ruin anything for you. Also, I’m going on record here by saying I have not read the original novel. I didn’t even know it was a novel. It’s quite rare for me to see a movie without having read the book, but here we are. Frankly, I’m going to make sure I¬†don’t¬†read the book. That’s how much I disliked the movie.
I could write an essay here, but to spare my sanity and yours, here’s 4 reasons why I don’t like¬†The Dressmaker.

checklist

Hollywood has checklists for cliches. I can have them too.

1. It’s miserable and unpleasant

What could be more uplifting than a false accusation of murder, rape, infidelity, abuse and revenge?
As I said, it’s a revenge film (poorly executed, but I’ll get to that later). The problem is that it’s in the guise of a comedy, and there is little comedy in this. This is a thoroughly unpleasant, depressing, mean-spirited movie.
From the minute Tilly enters, she’s hated by the town, and it seems like that was the case her whole life. Her mother isn’t exactly a bundle of joy either.¬†Tilly was subjected to terrible bullying as a child from both school and adults alike. She was sent away, she’s treated with suspicion and nobody is interested in her side of the story. And just when it seems like something nice might FINALLY happen to our main character, the movie douses it with petrol and sets it alight while cackling madly. She just never gets a break. It’s exhausting, depressing and downright nasty. The movie was hell bent on making Tilly suffer as much as possible.
To give a better idea of what I’m talking about, ¬†let’s look at another “classic” Australian film.¬†Muriel’s Wedding.

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Take off the rose tinted glasses for a minute and hear me out.

Muriel’s Wedding¬†is touted as a ‘feel-good’ movie.

How?!?

When, at any point in the movie, is this a ‘feel-good’ flick? Point to me that moment. Is it when Muriel is arrested on a false accusation someone made out of spite? Is it when she steals money from her family and goes on holiday to Bali? Then runs away? When her ‘friends’ disown her? How about her abusive father telling his family they’re all useless? Oh, I know. It must be when her best friend gets cancer and loses the ability to walk. Or when her dad has an affair and drives their browbeaten mother to suicide!
You beginning to see what I mean here? Adding all this violence (physical, emotional etc) is not going to make us feel more sympathy for the main character. Especially if, like¬†Muriel’s Wedding, the main character is a pretty horrible person herself. Muriel lies, steals, manipulates and abandons people just to get what she wants. Sure, she’s horribly abused by people but that doesn’t give her the right to behave the way she does. There’s far better ways of dealing with things like this.
So right from the outset, we have a movie that delights in suffering, for the pleasure of the audience and other characters. That’s such a great foundation to lay a film on.

 

2. It makes no sense

What was the focus of this movie? What was the driving point? The love story? The truth about this murder? Revenge? Dressmaking? Small towns? The relationship between Tilly and her mother? How much I’m supposed to hate these characters?
Why can’t Tilly remember what really happened when Stewart Pettyman died? Who forgets the circumstances of a death which you’re accused of being responsible for?!?!?
How had Stewart Pettyman’s mother never heard that Tilly was supposedly the one who killed her son???? If the town is so malicious, why is Tilly’s mother Molly still there? And that deus ex machina plot point about Teddy’s mentally unstable brother somehow being a witness to the death but nobody ever mentioned it? He never said anything? And once he is revealed as an eyewitness and the other witness was lying, they do precisely NOTHING with this information. They don’t tell anyone, it’s never resolved, she’s never exonerated, nothing. Just a completely stupid sex scene. There was also no reason to kill off Teddy. Or Tilly’s mother for that matter. It was just more ways to ensure Tilly was downtrodden even further.
By the way, if Teddy was so smart, who jumps into a silo after a delivery? Stupid thing to do.
Whoever wrote this needs a high five. In the face. With a crowbar.

3. The characters are terrible

It’s bad enough that the story is sheer misery. They didn’t need to go so far as to make characters with no personality outside of being the worst human beings in the world. This was a who’s who of great Australian talent and none were utilised to their full potential.
With the exception of Tilly (mainly due to Kate Winslet’s performance), I hated these characters. They had little to no redeeming qualities and other than that were cliched as hell.
You have Gertrude Pratt, the town’s ugly duckling who is in love with someone who’s way out of her league. Sheesh, haven’t seen that in a zillion other movies and TV shows.

She gets the cliche of having a makeover, suddenly becomes the belle of the ball, is immediately engaged to him and with no transition whatsoever, becomes a complete and utter stuck up maniac. She had no transition and the flimsiest of excuses for existing in the first place.
Then you have the great Barry Otto as the loathsome chemist. He’s cruel to Tilly as a child and behaves in a downright sadistic manner while Molly dies in pain from a stroke. ¬†And technically, Tilly is responsible for him drowning. Great. We’re supposed to think she’s innocent and mistreated but there you go. There’s no reason for this chemist to exist apart from being another despicable character.
Hugo Weaving is having a lot of fun as the cross dressing sergeant, but what cop could be bribed with a damn feather boa to reveal secret witness statements???
Evan Pettyman is probably the character I despised the most in the entire mess however. Shane Bourne gives a good performance but this character was just so thoroughly unlikeable he was DOA. This is a man who sleeps with every woman he sees, while drugging his wife Marigold and raping her while she’s unconscious. He’s also suddenly revealed as Tilly’s father. Ugh.
Of course, Marigold eventually discovers her husband’s affairs thanks to Tilly. What follows is a horrifying scene where she slices his Achilles’ tendons with a butcher knife and leaves him to bleed to death. This disturbing act is portrayed as both triumphant and somewhat comedic. And I am absolutely not ok with that.
Both genders were given a disservice here. The men were cheating scumbags and the women were gold-digging harpies. Teddy was the only character with a likeable personality but let’s face it, he was just eye candy and because they killed him off, anything remotely pleasant vanished from the movie.

4. There’s no message or reason for it to exist

As I said before, this is an incredibly dark movie. And on the surface, that’s fine.¬†There’s nothing wrong with dark themes. Australian theatre is full of them.¬†Look at¬†The Boys¬†by Gordon Graham. If you don’t know, it’s a highly fictionalised play about the brutal 1986 murder of Sydney nurse Anita Cobby.¬†The Boys¬†is hard hitting, raw and violent, but it’s all done through the writing and characters. No crime is committed on stage. But the reason¬†The Boys¬†works is because there is a definite message. It’s anti-violence, and explores the reasons behind crimes and mob mentality. Because the play is told through the eyes of the women (the mother and girlfriends of the boys), the audience is pulled into the drama and urgency, leaving with deep questions about violence and the cause of anger and hate.¬†Blackrock,¬†also about the real life murder of teenager Leigh Leigh, ponders the responsibility of a community and the reactions to a crime.¬†Radiance¬†talks about rejection, history and family. Look at international works such as Spring Awakening. That deals with rape, homosexuality, abortion, death, suicide, teenage self-discovery, sado-masochism and all to show the consequences of improper communication and not being honest with teens about sex.¬†None of these plays, and a list of others, are sunshine and roses. But again, the darkness has purpose. The violence and confronting themes are to make a point. To say something worthwhile.¬†The Dressmaker¬†does not do this. There was no message here. No attempt to make this a better world. The movie is essentially saying that revenge is the way to handle things. That murder and arson are completely justified if you feel so inclined. That is where I draw the line.
Allow me to use a line from Batman Begins.

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Because Batman is awesome

“Justice is about harmony. Revenge is about making yourself feel better,”

Tilly’s revenge solved nothing. It just created a whole world of anger and suffering. Like the movie did to me!

I know a lot of people like this movie but I’m sorry. I just think it’s horrendous. As an artist, I am mortified that this is the calibre of films Australia continues to produce.
The reason films like¬†Gallipoli, The Castle¬†and¬†The Black Balloon are good films is because they’re about real people and real issues. The Kerrigans in¬†The Castle are a loving family, though slightly off-beat, and they’re fighting for their home.¬†Gallipoli¬†shows the tragedy of WWI by making us connect to these characters as real humans.¬†The Black Balloon touches on the rarely explored issue of mental disabilities and the effects on people.
Instead of being an interesting story of discovering the truth and righting what is wrong,¬†The Dressmaker¬†just shows that violence is justified if people wrong you. The characters are stereotypes and like I said, it’s surprisingly unfocused and mean spirited. I give the actors credit for their performances but it felt like their talent was going to waste.
This could have been a good movie. This could have been a unique and touching film about a young woman reconnecting with her mother after a troubled childhood. But it was a bloody mess.

This is what’s wrong with Australian film. There are few outlets for artists to utilise their abilities effectively. There’s very little funding or resources and as a result, our film industry is almost non-existent, and the quality of movies are nowhere near the quality they could be. Most movies are stereotypes, unsavoury and not very well written. But because they’re Australian, we’re expected to love them no matter their flaws.

The Australian film industry deserves so much more. But as long as the funding is locked away and talented filmmakers are denied resources in favour of movies like The Dressmaker, it will continue to suffer.