Film review – Red Hill (2010)

5 December 2010
Red Hill: Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten)

Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten)

Starting a new job is always tough but on his first day on the local force in a small country town, police officer Shane Cooper (Ryan Kwanten) has to contend with his hostile boss Old Bill (Steve Bisley) and the imminent arrival of a very angry and very well armed escaped convict.

Red Hill is an Australian action indebted to the films of spaghetti western maestro Sergio Leone and writer/director Patrick Hughes has done a marvellous job adapting the iconography of the western to a rural Australian setting. Casting The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith lead actor Tom E. Lewis as the avenging outlaw is an interesting choice that allows Hughes to touch on issues concerning crimes against Indigenous people.

Tonally Red Hill sometimes slips awkwardly between gritty revenge thriller and something a little more self-consciously comedic with one unnecessary element that appears late in the film feeling very out of place. While the early action scenes are extremely tense and exciting, Red Hill does eventually become a slightly generic series of scenes featuring people getting blown away. Nevertheless, this is a fun film that introduces Hughes as a director to look out for.

Listen to Thomas Caldwell’s interview with writer/director Patrick Hughes.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 368, 2010

© Thomas Caldwell, 2010

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Film review – Bastardy (2008)

15 June 2009
Jack Charles

Jack Charles

The Indigenous Australian actor Jack Charles, the subject of the documentary Bastardy, is a remarkable man. He founded the first Aboriginal theatre company in the 1960s and has worked prolifically in Australian theatre and television plus having significant roles in the films The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Bedevil (1993) and Blackfellas (1993). He’s an articulate, intelligent and compassionate man who can also sing beautifully as well as act and is something of a part-time philosopher. He’s also homeless, a long-term heroin user and house burglar. Filmmaker Amiel Courtin-Wilson followed Jack for seven years and the result is this extraordinary film.

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