When an airplane dips, it’s the worst kind of fear. Your insides turn to glass. You feel the people around you like they were lead pellets. Their fear threatens to shatter you. Trapped in mid-air, you will the next second not to happen. Hate comes easily, because everyone seems to be certain of the crash. Doom spreads from every desperate glance. There’s death in every whimper. You try to be brave. There isn’t anyone who can help. Fear bristles and bears its fangs, caught in your head. The wait is awful. It’s like waiting for execution. Until the plane steadies; grants you a reprieve. In the movie Animal Kingdom, the anti-heroes can’t escape their fear any more than air passengers. They’re both locked into catastrophe.
Australian movies are full of camp: the vulgar shriek of real life. The cast of most Australian movies wouldn’t get work playing gargoyles in America…and yet, in the movies of P.J. Hogan, Baz Luhrmann, et al, aesthetic ruin is celebrated, even beloved. The comb-over, that three-legged dog of a hair-style, is to Australian movies what a baseball cap is to America; it tells the viewer: here’s life, beat up…and yet, weirdly, resplendent. In Australian movies, men and women are festooned with flagrant collapse. They dress like they are trying to confuse satellites. They advertise imperfection. As the latest in this long and bumpy line, the new movie Mary and Max proves that even Australian animation is besotted with grotesques.
Young love is like dying: a total, blissful, elegiac sense of the world. Youth itself is a finite state; unlike adulthood, which drones on and on. Youth – like pop music – is emphatically present. It crackles: “Now”. And that boldness of feeling floods young love. To be in love at sixteen is to be awash with feeling: filling up and up and up. Again, it makes for that death connection: the tsunami-life, where living surges so fast that death seems like the only possible corollary. Shakespeare didn’t kill off Romeo and Juliet because he set out to write a tragedy; he killed them because young love can only die…or else it cools… or else you grow up. Josh Beattie’s short, To Claire; From Sonny, is a small masterpiece on the subject.
Heart of Darkness doesn’t work with women. Oh sure, there are women who find the themes interesting, but the story is a very male myth. On the one hand you’ve got Colonel Kurtz, the guy who’s “Faced the Ultimate Evil”; on the other hand, Marlow, the man The Man has sent to kill Kurtz. An 800lb gorilla and a bad-ass; these are not characters whom girls take an interest in. In The Proposition it’s Danny Huston who plays the Kurtz-role. Guy Pearce is Marlow. Ray Winstone is the East India Company/The Man. It’s set in 19th century Australia instead of Africa. But the heart is the same, whether it’s the heart of the jungle or the bush.
Jindabyne is a film about division, redemption and how completely uninteresting serial killers are. As someone who generally likes human-beings (and who has absolutely no interest in those who set-up their book deals on the basis of doing away with people) I loved it.