Showing posts from November, 2010

Leslie Nielsen 1926-2010

"Because like you the Krell forgot one deadly danger..."

"You irresponsible bastard."

"The other two pilots are just fine, and are at the controls flying the plane, free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment."


This Island Rod is, as some may have noticed, on hiatus. I give my warmest thanks to the loyal readers and commenters who have made this more than an echo chamber for my own musings.
Roderick Heath

South Solitary (2010)

Shirley Barrett’s debut feature, 1996’s Love Serenade, won the Cannes Camera d’Or prize that year, and established her as an interesting if still developing talent. That film was an oddball, blackly humorous small town sex-farce with a darkly sensual mythological twist, and wasn’t a total success, but it was engaging and curiously memorable. Barrett’s career since had realised only one film, the little-seen and generally dismissed showbiz satire Walk the Talk (2000), but she’s emerged again this year with South Solitary, a comedy-drama set on a remote island off the coast of South Australia, in 1927. Barrett uses the star of Love Serenade, Miranda Otto, as her muse again here, playing Meredith Appleton, a woman in her mid-‘30s who travels to the titular island in the company of her punctilious uncle George Wadsworth (Barry Otto, Miranda’s real-life father). He’s a veteran lighthouse keeper who’s been placed in charge of the lighthouse on South Solitary to get the notoriously unreliabl…

Animal Kingdom (2010)

Having received a record number of AFI Award nominations, therefore standing at the apex of an unexpectedly strong year for Aussie film, and even garnering some Oscar buzz, David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom lays claim to being a must-see cinema event of 2010. That claim is baseless. Animal Kingdom is derivative, obvious, dingy, and soporific, attempting to dress its gratuitous filching from better movies, one-note, poorly detailed characters, and increasingly senseless story development and character actions, with endlessly portentous pseudo-ambient music and faux-meaningful voiceover reflections. With reasonable confidence, Animal Kingdom offers, in its first scene, the casually tragi-comic spectacle of teenaged protagonist Joshua “J” Cody (James Frecheville) calmly awaiting and greeting the arrival of paramedics to attend to his mother, who’s just OD’d, whilst a TV game show blares away in the corner, paid fleeting attention by J as awaits fate.

The subsequent film, however, plays out a…

When Worlds Collide (1951)

Bringing about the end of the world on a ‘50s B-movie budget was always going to be a difficult proposition. George Pal, the former Puppetoons wiz who had moved into feature film production with the successful, if not exactly stellar, Destination Moon in 1950, decided to make his next film an adaptation of Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie’s novel about the end days of Planet Earth, about to become a minor roadblock in the path of roving star Bellus and its orbiting planet Zyra. Pal’s rigorous production methods squeezed the potential out of every limited dollar, chiefly by relying on the promise of spectacle and special effects rather than stars to sell When Worlds Collide, and in spite of that low budget, it’s always tantalising to me how much of a charge, a sense of eventfulness, that Pal was able to imbue his films with. There’s a lot of tackiness, too, which is part of their pleasure. When Worlds Collide is the defining example of the science fiction disaster movie, with only the lik…