Tuesday 9 February 2010

Today, everyone is an Aborigine

Birch Carroll and Coyle cinemas couldn't even spell the name of the film on the tickets correctly, nevertheless, the film adaptation of 1990 musical Bran Nue Dae, released two weeks ago, is a spectacular, engaging and moving piece of performance cinema.

The story, set and filmed in Perth and Broome Western Australia, and almost everywhere in between, tells the story of a rebellious teenage Aborigine lad who escapes from a Catholic mission.
If you want a feel-good movie with wonderful non-cringe musical numbers, that does an even better job than Priscilla Queen off the Dessert, then you'll be laughing and feeling for a culture in ways you never dreamt with Bran Nue Dae.
The Aussie casting is superb with Geoffrey Rush, Magda Szubanski, Jessica Mauboy, Ernie Dingo, Tom Budge, Deborah Mailman and Missy Higgins. Even band leader Dan Sultan, as a former Cairns State High lad, does a fine job.

Mauboy and Higgins had their film debuts, along with 15-year-old Broome local, Rocky McKenzie, who plays the lead character Willie with charismatic fervour. In a striking resemblance to the story, McKenzie says he was going to attend a Catholic boarding school in Perth.

"Yeah, I got a couple of scholarships, but, I didn’t really wanna...." Rocky McKenzie says, who has praised working alongside Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush and a raft of experienced actors.

"They didn’t really show us off, I would say. So that was kind of them. A lot of us non-actors kind of saw them as mentors."

Bran Nue Dae, which features 21 songs, made the lineup for last month's Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

Both Margaret and David from ABC's At the Movies awarded four stars. "The word that you think of when you come out is exuberance. It really is a fun ride to the cinema, and it just adds to the amount of indigenous cinema that's coming lately," Margaret Pomeranz says.

There are some stunning moving moments that depict a culture in trouble and the bridges between white and coloured Australia often in a confronted, yet in a warm, enlightening and funny way. It's hard not to be moved by Rachel Perkins' screen adaption. You'll even get to see the Frank Djirrimbilpilwuy's Yolngu gang perform Zorba the Greek, who became famous on the net a couple of years ago.

All those Avatar movie-goers, should do a stock take and reward themselves with this rich cultural experience from our own back yard.


Vyv Wong (via Facebook) said...

I loved that movie! It was just hilarious!!!!

Jamie and co said...

Fabtastic movie like mike i recomend it to everyone...... go with an open mind........

KFC said...

The live stage show was also brilliant when it came to Cairns several years ago - probably better than the fillum because of the response of the locals in the audience! There must be something in the water up there in Broome. I've been a fan of the Pigram bros since their 'Scrap Metal' Days.

Aaron T said...

highly recomend this movie I never saw the stage version, but this was so much fun. really cheered me up!

Brand Nue Anger said...

ABSOLUTE WORST FILM I'VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME. Not since I nearly walked out of the film Norbit have I come this close again to leaving. And for the same reasons. What a wasted opportunity to find some real beauty in Aboriginal culture that all Australians can be proud of, including 'Aborigines.'

It kinda had a few moments, I was only interested in seeing how Missy Higgins could act - actutally not disappointed, apart from her choice of doing THIS movie - but my overwhelming feeling was - What was the point!?
Why did it have to be set in the 60's? Why not now? As if to fool us into thinking, 'well things must be better now..' What part of what culture was it actually depicting and hoping to represent?
This film angered me SO much, there was nothing innocently light hearted or uplifting about it!
If white Australians, or indeed anyone not Aboriginal, are guilty of stereotyping Aborigines as drunk, lazy, poor, disrespectful to women, violent then this film actually has Aboriginal characters proudly depicting themselves with all these prejudices. As if to say, hey you are all correct, we are like that and we are proud of it! I don't believe that.
The cloak of just being a musical or 'light hearted' seems to shirk away from the responsibility of trying to make an accurate film about everyday Aboriginal people.

What strange character lines.. Why show an Aboriginal woman being proud and loud as a promiscuous woman, when the only other woman is shown as ironically a devout Christian who has had two sons out of wedlock, who sacrifices everything for her aboriginal son, but dumps her white kid with her German priest lover, who dumped him somewhere in Germany.. Jesus What was the point. Is it only 'Christianity' that can save a person? I had to laugh at how totally convoluted the storylines were and that I had wasted money to see this film.

Outlaw Nue Dae said...

I agree with Bran New Anger, this movie was hideous. It's amazing that any Australian movies get made - they are always depressing, manipulative, and distort our history and culture. Instead of working thru the script properly, producers get money from the government and rush this trash into production.

No wonder all our best actors are working anywhere but here.

This is all the result of having government involved with art.