Australia. My country lives in its hulking shadow and it fills us Kiwi’s with a disproportionate amount of resentment. I’ve never been, so I can’t pass judgement, but I just about murdered the dozen or so people overseas who took my accent to be Aussie. That said, I must confess I just bought a six pack of VB. Only ‘cause it was on special though.
That just about sums up the Kiwi/Aussie relationship, we love to hate them, but when it comes to the crunch we get all ANZAC and go to war together. Brothers-in-arms and all that. They’re okay really aye? Anyway, this post is meant to be about cinema, something I think the Aussies have been doing better than us lately.
By pure happenstance I stumbled across Three Blind Mice, an Australian picture directed by bad-boy Matthew Newton (familiar to Kiwi audiences as ‘Mr Asia’ in the most recent series of Underbelly). The film sounded like an Australian version of The Last Detail, a picture I’m greatly fond of. It follows three young Navy men the night before they were to be shipped to the Gulf. Cue revelry and regret as the trio come to terms with their past actions and their future horizons.
It’s an indie film and one that doesn’t aim beyond its means. Newton does a great job performance wise (he’s largely got a great cast to thank for that) and to my great joy allows scenes to play out casually. Despite the impending time-pressure of the gents’ departure some conversations last minutes longer than they would in any conventional film and yet Three Blind Mice still manages to cram a heap of stuff into 100 minutes.
I’m into films that take place over a short time span. Even better when it’s just the course of a night like Linklater’s Before Sunrise, Paul Thomas Andersons Magnolia or Mike Nichols’ Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf. These movies are massively eventful, packed full of great dialogue and work as a well rounded whole due to the arc of their timeframe. Three Blind Mice is in the same vein. It’s full of quiet, sometimes painful revelations that add layers to the storyline in the most simple way. The end result is the feeling that we’ve survived the night ourselves and taken an equally emotional journey.
As one review of Three Blind Mice states “This is the kind of Australian cinema we should get excited about.” Well in my opinion this is the type of cinema we should be excited about full stop. These things must be dead easy to fund and there must be screeds of young filmmakers who could make films like this in a cinch if they were given half a chance. I know I always say it but we need to derail mainstream cinema because it is killing the small films like this one. Three Blind Mice is a rare picture; realistic, funny, well acted, and with something meaningful to say.