Friday, January 17, 2014

A Couple of Unexpected Movie Pleasures

I parodied the movie poster for it last year about this time, but what do you know?  I said at the time that the previews suggested that it would be "a great action movie, if you are a Hollyweird gun control hypocrite" but it was on Netflix, and I needed something to watch while treadmilling -- and you know, it really was a great action movie!  It was funny in places, with some occasionally fun dialog, and yet it raised some serious issues about how the money of the narcoterrorists corrupts people.  It of course had gobs of guns in it, and the gun nut of the film helps to save the day because he runs a museum on the edge of town.  One serious error: at one point the sheriff asks to see someone's gun permit -- but Arizona no longer requires a permit to carry concealed, and has never required a permit to carry openly.

Quite a bit more startling of a film is Tomorrow, When The War Began (2010).  According to Wikipedia, it is based on a novel of that name by John Marsden.  Others have noticed that it has more than a slight resemblance to Red Dawn (1984).  Yes, right down to where the teenagers go to find their parents!  But I loved Red Dawn.  And I loved this film, too.  The essential plot is a bunch of Australian small town kids go on a weekend camping trip (with rifles), interrupted by a startling number of military aircraft flights -- and when they return, everyone in town is missing.  Something bad has happened.  But what?

If you saw Red Dawn, you will not have any trouble figuring out generally what is going to happen.  But it is still pretty impressive to watch, and some of the action sequences with the garbage truck are still worth watching.  (Action sequence with a garbage truck?  No, really.)

What really shocked me about the film was the tremendously squeaky clean characters.  There are only two of the teenage characters who wouldn't win awards for best teenagers imaginable -- and one of them has a number of redeeming qualities.  Even the least wonderful of the characters, the pothead who still hasn't figured out what happened because he's too loaded, is clearly portrayed as so focused on his drug habit that he is somewhat contemptible.

My question for any of you Australians out there: are small town Australian kids even slightly like this?  This is a collection that would seem plausible in 1950s or early 1960s America -- and utterly unbelievable today.  Is Australia really that far behind the moral degradation and cultural collapse curve?  It seems so unlikely that any part of the world that speaks English hasn't been utterly degraded by our entertainment industry.  On the other hand, I recall a conversation with an Australian couple some months ago on the Oregon coast who were pretty emphatic that one of their grave concerns was the Americanization of their culture.  If Australia really has managed to avoid this destruction, it makes Australia seem like a place worth immigrating to, especially as this country destroys itself.


TheDyslexicDog said...

The ‘cleanness’ of the TWTWB movie is due partly to the source material – subsequent instalments in the series are a lot grittier but the first book, which the movie is based on, is pretty wholesome – but mostly due to the filmmakers depicting the setting as a glossy, postcard perfect of what it is in the novels. The books rarely capture the reality of life in an occupied country – and I’m not even sure if they’re trying to – but they do get the Australian landscape and rural communities and the experiences of the children who grew up in them in ways that I suspect the filmmakers thought weren’t Hollywood enough.

Mauser said...

Asking for a gun permit is just Hollywood projection on other states being like California.

Billy Oblivion said...

I'm not Australian, but I lived in Alice Springs for 2 years (basically 2011 and 2012) before coming back to America. Alice is a bit different because there's about 4-500 American Families in a small (by American standards) town.

We also traveled a bit while we lived there (Darwin, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cannes, Sydney), so while I'm not the expert on it, I had my head up and looking.

It is possible to find a small group of young kids *anywhere* that are squeaky clean, but from what I saw the Australians are at least as far down that road as we are. They tended to have more european attitudes towards sex and marriage, there is a lot more government dole/welfare. Attitudes towards "soft" drugs are pretty much like here, and GOD those people can drink.

In dress most are at least as slovenly as Americans (in the outback this is at least in part because life is hard and water is precious).

I didn't see that they were any more religious, or that they took it as seriously. Religion there seemed to be as much social as about God.

Billy Oblivion said...

Oh, it's a great place to go visit if you can spare a month (it's a HUGE country).

New Zealand is even better--the people were nicer and the scenery was INCREDIBLE.

David Olsen said...

In the U.S., to find a squeaky clean group of young kids, try a homeschooled Girl Scout troop. My daughter's troop is pretty impressive for general happiness and overall behavior.

Previous troop we were in was pretty good, but had some discipline issues in meetings - noise, running around and such. These things do not happen in the home schooled group.