Tag Archives: Australia

Japanese clock melted by nuclear bomb. (Photo)

“Japanese clock melted by WWII nuclear bomb. On display in the War Memorial museum, Canberra, Australia. The hands apparently show the time of the explosion. The infocard described the glass face as being melted by the blast (you can see it dripping at the bottom), and said the clock was found near the centre of the explosion.”

— By James from Sydney, Australia (Japanese clock melted by WWII nuclear bomb) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A quick review of “Wolf Creek 2” (2013)

Is “Wolf  Creek 2” (2013) a well made film?  Yes.  It’s exceptionally well made.  Would  I recommend it?  I’m not sure.

I’d rate it a perfect 10.  Its technical expertise in undeniable.  The cast is roundly excellent.  John Jarratt is absolutely perfect in the role he seems born for.  He’s so effectively menacing as this film’s serial killer that I think I’d find it unnerving even meeting the actor in real life.  The only other actor I think I can say that about is Ted Levine, who so indelibly portrayed Buffalo Bill in “Silence of the Lambs” (1991).

Ryan Corr is damn perfect, as are the actors in smaller roles.  I think Shannon Ashlyn portrays terror better than any other actress I’ve seen.  She isn’t just a horror movie “scream queen;” her performance was so skilled that she rises above such a trite label.  (And I’ve seen a lot of horror movies, people.)

It’s extremely well directed.  The conclusion of an action sequence involving a truck must have looked downright stupid on the page, but damn if Greg McLean doesn’t make it plausible and shocking.

The entire movie is gorgeously shot.  It was enough to make me want to visit Australia … if the story didn’t make want to stay the hell away from Australia.

I just get the impression that some movie studio planned to produce a generic, derivative slasher movie … but just inexplicably employed the best creative talent available for all aspects of its creation.

Now, about my reluctance to recommend this …  Please understand that this film is incredibly dark, even by horror movie standards.  At times it was just too much for me.  I actually stopped playing this on Netflix several times to “take a break with something lighter” by watching “The Walking Dead.”  Yes, you read that right.

The story depicted is just brutal.  There are very few movies that are too dark for me … I think I could count them on one hand.  (And one was 2005’s original “Wolf Creek.”)  And this film is just so masterfully made that its victims seem like real people suffering — something at which the “Saw” films and various other slasher movies rarely succeeded.

I honestly think it might have been so “good” that it went past the point of entertaining me.  Can I honestly recommend a movie that I felt the need to switch off?

You make your own call.  Again — this is exceedingly dark material, even by horror movie standards.  But if you think you’re up to it, watch it.


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A short review of “These Final Hours” (2013)

“These Final Hours” (2013) is an unflinching Australian end-of-the-world movie that views humanity’s last 12 hours through the eyes a flawed, desperate everyman.  It’s outstanding; I’d give it a 9 out of 10.

This movie pulls off a pretty neat trick — it effectively portrays a global catastrophe with zero special effects until its closing set-piece.  (And these visual effects work quite nicely for a low-budget film.)  A meteor has struck the northern Atlantic, and a resultant wave of destruction is enveloping the earth.  Its progress is documented in real time by a sad ham radio operator, wonderfully performed by David Field.

What we see is gut-wrenching.  Some people turn suicidal, a few turn homicidal.  People drink, use drugs and have sex, either privately or not.  Some are depressed, some are too drug-affected to care, and others are in shock.  The rare, vain efforts to survive include the laughable (a tin foil-covered house) to the sadly insufficient (a stocked bunker that nevertheless isn’t deep enough).  One reaction is befuddling; we see a street barricaded with metal shopping carts with a sign cursing at passersby.  This is a fatalistic story premise in which every character on screen is doomed to die within hours.

We follow the surprisingly touching character arc for our troubled everyman.  He’s played by perfectly by Nathan Phillips.  The young Angourie Rice is just as good as an incongruously self-controlled little girl who winds up his charge after being separated from her father.  The cast is uniformly excellent.  Hearing Kathryn Beck wail that she doesn’t want to die is heartbreaking.

For me, there were only a few flaws here.  The pacing seemed … off somehow.  This movie slowed toward the end, the nearer disaster approached.  Phillips’ protagonist seemed thinly scripted for much of the first hour.  He seems like a generic guy, who plans to get drunk before the end of the world, which makes him much like nearly everyone else we see in this movie.  Yes, he intervenes heroically when he first encounters the little girl, but we expect every movie protagonist to do that.

With that said, however, every character did seem “real” to me, thanks to terrific naturalistic dialogue, written by Zak Hilditch.  (He’s also the director.)  It made the drama hit home.

Thanks to blog correspondent Len Ornstein for recommending this movie!  I recommend it too.