Film review – Stone Bros. (2009)

24 September 2009
Charlie (Leon Burchill) and Eddie (Luke Carroll)

Charlie (Leon Burchill) and Eddie (Luke Carroll)

You can’t help but want to like Stone Bros. Not only is it another contemporary Indigenous Australian film, in a strong year for Australian cinema that has already brought us Samson and Delilah, but it does what Australian films often do best, which is to take a conventional genre and give it a distinctively Australian twist. In the case of Stone Bros. the genre of choice is the pot hazed comedy sub-genre that is the stoner film. Unfortunately, despite all its best intentions, this film by writer/director Richard Frankland (Harry’s War) never really works.

The Indigenous pot-heads who feature are Eddie (Luke Carroll from The Tender Hook and Subdivision) and Charlie (newcomer Leon Burchill). Eddie is the slightly more serious one and sets off on a road trip from Perth to Kalgoorlie after feeling compelled to return a rock containing spiritual significance to his uncle. Charlie goes along for the ride compelled by the desire to smoke the 187 spliffs that he has rolled beforehand. Carroll is terrific as Eddie and shows all the signs of an actor with a promising future. Burchill is incredibly charismatic as Charlie and he is able to bring the screen to life with simply a smile. However, overall the acting and the dialogue in Stone Bros. just feel way too much like they belong in community theatre rather than in a feature film.

TH&B__0956.jpg_cmyk_scaledSimilar to the other recent Australian road-trip film Charlie & Boots, most of Stone Bros. simply consists of a series of somewhat random encounters with various other characters that they meet on the road and a few truly random situations such as a wedding ceremony that a guest is trying to blow up and a possessed dog. While not all the scenarios in the film work, many of them are offbeat enough to be genuinely funny. It could be regarded as an Indigenous Australian version of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle but with a lot more moralising and fewer laughs.

© Thomas Caldwell, 2009

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Film as Text: Ten Canoes

3 June 2009

[UPDATE: 14 June 2010 – This article is now available online in full here.]

Yolngu storytelling in Ten Canoes

NOTE: This article discusses the theatrical version of Ten Canoes containing Yolngu language with English subtitles and English narration by David Gulpilil.

Group%20Canoes%203567 smallTen Canoes is an extraordinarily unique film about the Indigenous Australian Yolngu people, who live in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Under the combined direction of acclaimed Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer (The Tracker, Bad Boy Bubby) and Peter Djigirr, a local man from the Arafura Swamp region where the film was shot, Ten Canoes combines Yolngu storytelling traditions with a Western approach to narrative cinema. It is not so much the story itself that is of interest in Ten Canoes but the way the story is presented. While conventional filmic techniques are used to indicate different time periods and the division between subjective occurrences and objective occurrences, the way these boundaries are collapsed and the way the story is layered reflects the importance of storytelling to the Yolngu people. As the unseen Storyteller (David Gulpilil) tells us, ‘It’s not a story like your story, but it’s a good story’.

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Shedding Light Film Festival

1 March 2002

Interview with Bridget Ikin

Bridget Ikin is an independent film producer who became involved in the Shedding Light Film festival while she was the General Manager at SBS Independent. As part of Adelaide Festival 2002, Shedding Light is a program of 5 Australian feature films and 5 international feature films. Shedding Light also features the Casting Shadows program, which is 5 collections of Indigenous short films, and the F5 program which is a series of forums and master classes with the filmmakers, including Rolf de Heer (Bad Boy Bubby, Dance Me To My Song), and special guests such as Rachel Perkins (Radiance, One Night The Moon) and Scott Hicks (Shine, Hearts In Atlantis).

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