Why are Australian films so generally uninteresting?

I should clarify:

It’s a fairly well known meme in Australia that the movies we’ve been making since the early '90s are generally not that interesting to Australian audiences. Obviously there are numerous exceptions to this and I’m not saying all Australian movies are uninteresting crap. But rather a lot of them are. We just don’t seem to make consistently “interesting” movies the way the US or the UK does, for example- at least IMHO.

I realise our movie industry is a lot smaller and there isn’t the financial backing to make lots of movies every year, but generally when I see a new Australian film coming out, I groan inwardly, knowing it’s almost certainly going to be some sort of “slice of life” film that people outside Melbourne can’t relate to, a film version of a TV comedy series, something about the challenges faced by members of Ethnic Group X in some way, or generally stuff that has a surprisingly limited (IMHO) mass-market appeal.

I’m still trying to work out if it’s partly cultural cringe or whether there really is a problem with the film industry here- perhaps trying not to end up making Crocodile Dundee IV: Crocodile Harder is causing some sort of film-making conservatism?


Maybe it’s a case of brain drain? All the talented Australian film makers move to Hollywood sooner or later.

Australian movies don’t really have a domestic audience, either.

There are a few reasons for it, but primary amongst them is budget. No Australian filmmaker is going to get domestic funding for a blockbuster, and the few who aren’t getting investors looking for a money laundering vehicle or a tax loss rely on the Film Commissions for funding. The commissions only approve movies their members like the sound of, and are typically packed with arts luvvies who have a spectacularly conforming groupthink.

And, of course, the people whose films get made become industry figures, who then sit on the film commissions, and the cycle repeats, one ring of the vortex closer to the plug hole.

I’m not a huge fan of film in general, and not a particular fan of Australian cinema. That being said, I can only think of a few Aussie movies and they’re not particularly horrible.

Off the top of my head: Mad Max (brilliant concept, awful storyline and acting, lots of explosions and car chases), its sequels (awful all round), Romper Stomper (hard to watch but undeniably powerful, and without the unrealistic feelgoody factor that American History X had), Crocodile Dundee I-IV (awful, but oddly tough to turn off), Priscilla, Queen of the Desert* (brilliant), Breaker Morant (never seen it, heard it’s good) and… well, that’s it really.

Considering that for every good movie that comes out of Hollywood I can name a dozen which were dreck, that’s not bad. I suppose I wouldn’t hear of really shitty Aussie films, though.

*Not sure that this actually qualifies as Australian.

Small population that can’t support too many good films, plus a proportionately fewer truly talented film makers? And the ones who are really good often head to Hollywood?

RAZORBACK!! First Australian film I ever saw. Definitely MUCH better when shrooming.
In fact, I am convinced that the scriptwriter, director, producer and intended audience must have been ALL hopped up on something. :stuck_out_tongue:

“Yahoo Serious Film Festival”? I know those words, but that sign makes no sense.
-Lisa Simpson

Any country that can produce something like “The Odd Angry Shot” gets a pass from me.

You forgot some important films in your list) The Man From Snowy River, Muriel’s Wedding, Strictly Ballroom, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Rabbit-Proof Fence.

The first movie wasn’t bad at all, and there’s not a fourth one.

I think too often our films are self-consciously “Australian”, making them feel inauthentic and rather stiff. Occasionally there’ll be a film like The Castle, Two Hands or Wolf Creek where Australian culture is a more organic element to the story, but those cases are rare. More often, Aussie films feel cynically by-the-numbers (usually featuring a colourful cast of rural eccentrics), probably in the hopes that a formulaic Aussie comedy will be safe enough to make back its money.

I’m interested to see how well Bran Nue Dae does. Frankly, it looks terrible.

I think BigNik makes some valid points.

If you have a look at the films you mentioned RNATB, you’ll note they were all made quite some time ago. The Mad Max films are, IMHO, an outstanding example of the sort of films we don’t make anymore*, but that’s the problem- they’re not getting made here anymore.

The current “Big Aussie Film” being promoted is Bran Nue Day, which stars Geoffrey Rush, Missy Higgins, and various local celebrities that no-one outside Australia is likely to be overly familiar with. It’s based on a muscial play set in a rural Western Australia and, according to Wiki,“tells stories and of [sic] issues relating to Indigenous Australians”. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but let’s face it, it’s not going to be in the same league as Mad Max or Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert.

I just can’t help but feel that film-makers here are missing the point or are mis-judging their audiences. Also, what Lobot said.

Yes, I know they’re making a fourth film here either now or in the very near future

OK, I think we need to organise you a quick course.

We’re going to start you off with a Nick Giannopoulos double feature - the Wog Boy (apparently soon to spawn a sequel) and the Wannabes, and then round things off with Boytown.

Day 2 of the “Worst of Oz” festival will start off with Strange Bedfellows, to whet your appetite before we move on to Footy Legends and The Bank.

To wrap up, we’re going to make you watch The Proposition twice, just to show you exactly what happens when you make a movie with no conceivable audience. The first time you can go into it expecting a slow, Swedish-style piece and be gobsmacked by the level of explicit violence. The second time you’ll be told to expect a gory, action-packed film and be bored to tears and leave half an hour in.

Of course, these are only movies from the last ten years. The 1990s section will see everyone strapped to chairs with eye braces a la a Clockwork Orange.

This isn’t to say that no good movie has come out over that time - there have been a small handful of very good movies such as Dirty Deeds and Japanese Story, but they’ve been very much on the outlying fringe.

And none of them have been comedies.

Even though I only rented Love Serenade to see Miranda Otto naked, I watched the whole film.

I haven’t seen it, but my impression is that The Bank was well-regarded.

That doesn’t mean anyone besides Margaret & David actually saw it at the cinema, though. :wink:

I dunno. I have a pretty good impression of Australian film. Then again, maybe we only get to see some of your best stuff. I don’t know.

Gallipoli, Breaker Morant, The Road Warrior, The Year My Voice Broke, Flirting, Strictly Ballroom, The Proposition, Sirens, Danny Deckchair, The Dish, Shine, Wolf Creek, The Castle, The Nugget

That’s a pretty good lineup.

Too true. :smiley:

But actually, that raises another point: how often are Aussie films “epic” enough to warrant a trip to Hoyts? The only thing that tips the balance is a sense of backing one of our own, AFAICT. Otherwise, they’d all be cases of “I’ll wait for the DVD”.

I didn’t forget them - they’re the only ones I know. Well, I’ve heard of Rabbit-Proof Fence, but only because it was tangientally discussed in a GD thread today.

My mistake on CD. For some reason I thought there were three in the first bunch, plus the one in LA.


Oh most certainly, and entirely, this.

I have several friends who are trying to get somewhere in the movie industry, and the best they can do for a first film is a self-funded horror, because they’re cheap, easy to write, and have lots of (cult) audience-appeal.

But none of them actually wanted to make a horror at all. It was just the easiest way to get some kind of foot in the door.

I wish my friends were the Spierig brothers. I bet they wish so too. But they aren’t, and they remain in their constant struggle to get anything they have made to be seen by anyone influential.

That’s an excellent point and I think the answer is “Not Often”. Australia was the most recent exception to this, of course, as was Kokoda (which ironically I haven’t seen because everyone I know who has was either disappointed by or hated the film), but yeah, otherwise generally you can wait for the DVD and not miss much IMHO.

I don’t think anyone seriously expects every Australian film to be in the same league as The Godfather Part II or Star Wars, but there’s no reason we couldn’t make quirky, accessible, actually funny comedies like Galaxy Quest or a fun Action-Adventure film like one of the Indiana Jones movies or something that’s not gritty, edgy, self-consciously Australian, or aimed at the turtleneck-and-latte crowd.