Why I Adore… Neighbours

 

By Scott Jordan Harris

When I was eight years old, my teacher set our class a task: for the next week we would work on a project about the place we would most like to live. We could choose anywhere, in Britain or abroad, in fantasy or reality, provided we could explain why we wanted to live there and draw maps and pictures to illustrate our ideas. Our homework for the night was to decide where that place would be.

My classmates immediately adopted the exaggerated expressions of children who want to show they are thinking hard. Some started talking about their ideas. I didn’t do either. I didn’t need to show that I was doing any thinking because I didn’t have any thinking to do and I didn’t want to talk about my idea in case someone stole it.

I had instantly known my answer, which was quite clearly the best answer anyone could possibly give to the question of where they would most like to live. It was an antipodean paradise populated by charming and eccentric people with amusing accents, who would take me in if I fell on difficulties; invite me to swim in their backyard pools; and treat me to milkshakes at their coffee shop. It was a suburban Shangri-La.

I went home and announced my plan to my parents, who told me not to be so silly; that I was going to embarrass both myself and them; and to change the focus of my project immediately. And so I wrote instead about wanting to live in a medieval castle to which I had made special architectural adaptations that would allow roller-coasters to run through its walls and helicopters to land on top of its turrets.

My project was judged the best in the class. But my victory gave me no joy. To me, it was as hollow as the chocolate Easter egg I was presented as a prize. I didn’t want to live in a 10th Century castle-cum-20th Century theme park. I wanted to live on Ramsay Street. I still do.

For Brits, each episode of Neighbours is an escape to an improbable place where it is actually possible to have barbecues. Nobody in Britain has ever had a barbecue. We all try to have them but none of us ever succeeds.

Ramsay Street, in Erinsborough, is of course where the neighbours in Neighbours reside. And I adore Neighbours in more ways than anyone with a shred of shame would admit and anyone but an autistic savant could enumerate. Many in my country feel the same. In Britain, I suspect, the Ramsay Street sign is a more iconic image of Australia than the Sydney Opera House.

The fact every British person knows about Neighbours, though none of us has much evidence to back it up, is that the program is more popular here than it is in its homeland. To us, it is obvious why this should be. Firstly, the great works of art are seldom appreciated in their own time in their own countries. Secondly, so much of what attracts the British to Neighbours is what attracts the British to Australia.

It is impossible for someone who lives under the leaking, lead-coloured skies of the UK to express to an Australian how marvellous it is to spend half an hour a day watching the happy inhabitants of a sunny suburb in which rain is rare and icicles are completely unknown.

For Brits, each episode of Neighbours is an escape to an improbable place where it is actually possible to have barbecues. Nobody in Britain has ever had a barbecue. We all try to have them but none of us ever succeeds. Each year, August appears and some optimistic instinct suggests to us that we should hold one. And so we set the date, buy in burgers and beer, and make sure we have enough garden furniture to accommodate everyone we’ve invited.

Then the chosen day comes, the sky splits open and month’s worth of rain falls in half an hour. If our guests haven’t already arrived, we call them to cancel. If they have, we cook all the food indoors and eat it sitting round the kitchen table while telling ourselves, and each other, that “It’s just as good this way.”

But on Ramsay Street there are barbecues aplenty. No event is too small, and no achievement too large, that the residents of Ramsay Street won’t celebrate it with a barbecue.

Jubilees aside, the only reason Brits talk to our neighbours is to threaten them with antisocial behaviour orders. But, on Ramsay Street, community is everything.

If you live on Ramsay Street, you throw several barbecues a month. And, what’s more, you invite everyone who lives on Ramsay Street to them: your ex-girlfriend and the bloke she cheated on you with; the professional rival who’s trying to drive you out of business; and everyone from the family that’s been feuding with yours for generations. All the locals are welcome at an Erinsborough barbecue. After all, everybody needs good neighbours.

Blues skies and barbecues. 2007 Neighbours cast.

The same is true at weddings and funerals. You have only to have lived opposite someone on Ramsay Street for a week and they’ll invite you to their wedding. The beloved relatives who lived with them for ten years won’t fly back from Tasmania for it, and no friends from outside Erinsborough will be invited, but everyone on Ramsay Street will be there.

This incomparable community is another reason I adore Neighbours. In Britain, most people have only seen their neighbours three times since 1977: once for an insufferable street party to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and then again in 2002 and 2012 for the Golden and Diamond equivalents. Jubilees aside, the only reason Brits talk to our neighbours is to threaten them with antisocial behaviour orders.

But, on Ramsay Street, community is everything. Every problem, from Susan Kennedy’s multiple sclerosis to Harold Bishop’s predilection for playing his tuba too loudly, can be solved by popping next door for a chat and a cup of restorative tea.

Egomaniacal overlord Paul Robinson lives just next door…

And Erinsbourough, unlike England, has no class system. The Ramsay Street cul-de-sac is practically a Communist state. For years Paul Robinson—the egomaniacal overlord of the Lassiter’s complex, who seems to have sufficient funds and influence to either buy out or scare off any business smaller than Microsoft— has lived just yards away from builders, students and mechanics.

Of course, a reason for this is that there are so few habitable properties in the area. Newcomers to Neighbours who watched an episode that recently aired in the UK would have learned that the dastardly Troy, biological father of young Callum, had just purchased No. 32, meaning that he now lives next door to Callum and his adoptive father, the loveable Toadfish.

From this, they might deduce that Ramsay Street has at least 31 other properties. They would be wrong. There are only half a dozen properties on the street in which anyone is able to live. The rest of the houses, though mysteriously well-maintained, are completely uninhabited and have been since 1985. No one, under any circumstances, could possibly live in any of them.

But this is seldom an issue. Dozens of people are capable of living in each of the few Ramsay Street properties that are available for occupants, sleeping in unseen bedrooms that must be the size of army barracks. And no one who lives on Ramsay Street ever wants to live alone or simply with their own family. Indeed, when half a family moves away, the local custom is for the other half to remain in Erinsborough and move in with the family next door.

Like a true zealot, deaf to criticism of his faith, I accept all these absurdities about Neighbours without them making the slightest dent in my devotion to it. Because, in a sense, I grew up on Ramsay Street.

Neighbours was first shown in Britain when I was three and I began absorbing it as the adults around me watched. Later, I became a full-time fan. That my parents allowed this was a miracle made possible by the times at which Neighbours was broadcast and the channel on which it was broadcast.

For me, no performance Russell Crowe or Guy Pearce  will ever give in Hollywood could equal the power and prestige of their appearances in Neighbours.

Although I would never normally have been allowed to watch a soap opera, my mother believed that nothing that was shown by the venerable BBC, and certainly nothing that was shown immediately after the afternoon news and then repeated immediately before the evening news, could possibly be a bad influence.

And so I grew up knowing that, whatever historians may tell us, the most important wedding of the 1980s wasn’t that of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, but of Scott Robinson and Charlene Mitchell. As a child, I shared the terror of Scott’s little sister, Lucy, when she was trapped down a drain for days.

The most important wedding of the 1980s – Charlene and Scott.

As a teenager, I disliked Drew Kirk, who attracted the dual attentions of the comely Libby Kennedy and the exquisite Steph Scully, because I was in love with both women. And, as an adult, I understood Joe Mangel’s decision to put his son’s need for a father ahead of his own desire for romance.

In love with ‘the comely Libby Kennedy’ (Kym Valentine).

I’m now a professional film critic but, for me, no performance Russell Crowe or Guy Pearce  will ever give in Hollywood could equal the power and prestige of their appearances in Neighbours. And, in my mind, no amount of number one singles will ever make the music careers of Kylie Minogue and Holly Valance anything but footnotes to their time in Erinsborough.

For a while, in my teens and early twenties, I was ashamed of this. But I long ago abandoned the lies the self-loathing soap opera addict routinely tells. I no longer pretend, when Neighbours comes up in conversation, that I just happened to catch the episode in question but that “I haven’t actually watched it since Helen Daniels died.”

I adore Neighbours and I always shall. Some people are gripped, several times a day, by the sudden horror that one day they will die and the world will carry on without them. I am often overwhelmed by a far worse fear: that one day Neighbours will end and I’ll be expected to get through the afternoons without it. I don’t dwell on this for long, though. It’s too awful to contemplate.

About Scott Jordan Harris: Scott is an English film critic and sportswriter, who is on Twitter as @ScottFilmCritic. Formerly editor of The Spectator‘s arts blog, he is a culture blogger for the London Telegraph; a contributor to BBC Radio’s The Film Programme; and UK correspondent for Roger Ebert. He has contributed to more than a dozen books about film and edited two: World Film Locations: New York and World Film Locations: New Orleans. His greatest ambition remains to live in No. 32 Ramsay Street, in a house-share with Libby Kennedy and Steph Scully.

Read Previous ‘Why I Adore’ Posts:

Paul Anthony Nelson (the ‘Why I Adore’ godfather and founder) introduces the concept, and rhapsodises about Mad Max. AFI Membership Administrator Lia McCrae-Moore revisits the lyrical beauty of One Night the Moon and Clem Bastow reminisces about a childhood spent watching the television show Round the Twist. Or you can read Anthony Morris flirting with disaster in his adoration of Romper Stomper, Annie Stevens going bridal with Muriel’s Wedding, or Popzilla bowing down before the altar of literary screen adaptations. More recently, Lia McCrae-Moore showers affection on SBS’s high-octane police thriller, East West 101, Rochelle Simienowicz delves deeply into the ground-breaking television series, Love My Way, and Simon Elschlepp discovers a fondness for stylish and audacious futuristic noir, Dark City. Thomas Caldwell rhapsodises about Richard Lowenstein’s anarchic and playful 1986 film Dogs in Space, John Bailey remembers a strange fascination with Big Brother Up Late, Hila Shachar explains why Cate Shortland’s Somersault moves her so. Briony Kidd explains why she loves to be horrified by the Australian classic Picnic at Hanging Rock, Glenn Dunks reveals himself to be a Kidmaniac in his celebration of Nicole Kidman, and most recently David Evan Giles explains how Bliss changed his view of Australia.

Contribute: We’re currently looking for more ‘Why I Adore’ articles devoted to Australian film and television. Send a one paragraph summary to editor[at] afi.org.au and we’ll get back to you with more details.

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Why I Adore… Bliss

By David Evan Giles

When I read the May edition of Why I Adore –  Briony Kidd’s article about Picnic At Hanging Rock (dir. Peter Weir, 1975), it reminded me that Picnic At Hanging Rock was one of the two films that fundamentally changed my mind about Australia. I’d happily wax lyrical about Picnic for another thousand words, but I am going to focus on the other film that grabbed my imagination and gave me a shake. Bliss (dir. Ray Lawrence, 1985) was the other film that rocked my world and rattled loose some ugly, ingrown preconceptions about this country. I want to tell you all about the extraordinary “Bliss effect”, but it will help if I set the scene a little first.

Growing up in London, before Picnic At Hanging Rock came along, all I knew of Oz was based on Rolf Harris on the BBC and the tricky presence of my Australian stepmother. (I don’t mean that Nerelle herself was tricky.  My mother’s early loathing of Nerelle was, on the other hand, pretty spectacularly tricky. Some divorced parents try to be civilized but my mother was made of altogether more incandescent stuff and so she ground her teeth at the sound of a wobble board  – and please didgeridon’t. You get the picture.)

While other boys were learning about soccer teams and the cool makes of car, I was glued to the Saturday afternoon movie, learning by heart the credits as they rolled past on everything from Randolph Scott Westerns to black and white stories of British wartime pluck. One of those films selected apparently at random by the lonely programmer deep in the bowels of BBC Television Centre was Smiley (dir. Anthony Kimmins, 1956), about a kid in the Outback having some very simple, innocent adventures. It is far from a classic, but there was something about Smiley that touched a nerve.  There was space and freedom and an echoing emptiness under vast, limitless skies. Nothing like the life I led in West London. That film made the first crack in my Pommy prejudice.

My ignorant prejudice against Australia as narrow or somehow in the shadow of the Mother Country or, perish the thought, a poor cousin of California, all of those illusions were swept away.

Then, a few years later came Picnic At Hanging Rock. While Briony Kidd’s essay explored the horror genre aspects of Picnic, my friends at University and I were overwhelmed by the sense of loss the film captured so powerfully. The film touched that sense in all of us – we were there at the very beginning of our adult lives, falling as helplessly in love as only the naive and unwounded can, and Miranda walked into our imaginations and vanished, leaving not a footprint behind for us to follow. We yearned and pined en masse. Being privately educated British boys, we felt for Dominic Guard in his feeble scrabbling amongst the rocks even as his incompetence embarrassed us. He did not belong there and neither did we – but then I secretly wanted to discover my inner John Jarratt, the man with hair on his chest and some survival skills who had a much better chance of finding those lost girls. More than anything, I wanted to escape the narrow skies and narrower conventions of the cloisters where I grew up.

And then came Bliss. While Picnic At Hanging Rock is artfully crafted, perhaps helped by the fact that it sits so comfortably in its Gothic horror genre, Bliss, adapted from the novel by Peter Carey, is an exploration of ideas. Despite its three AFI Awards and 10 more AFI nominations, and the close encounter with the Palme d’Or at Cannes, for me it stumbles as often as it succeeds. Its changes in tone and its uneasy shifts between the naturalistic and the surreal make it seem a little awkward. And yet, as I watched it again just last week, the ideas it explores are as affecting today as they were 27 years ago.  Perhaps it doesn’t matter that it is so strange, flipping between the madness of Buñuel and the mundane tedium of the suburbs. Perhaps it is not important that it never settles into a rhythm or a style, or that the cast’s performances swerve between gentle humanity and broad pantomime. Its most recognisable narrative through-line is an improbable love story between a disillusioned advertising executive, Harry Joy (Barry Otto), and a call girl, Honey Barbara (Helen Jones). It doesn’t seem to matter that this comfortable narrative is at odds with the film’s political ambition to expose Western materialism as a sham that causes deceit and suffering, misery and death (or near-death in Harry’s case). In spite of being jarring and genre-crossing, somehow Bliss just works.

There are reasons why this movie works and they cannot be just personal to me. After all, the film was showered with prizes so I am not alone in loving it. What first struck me was how bold it was, technically and artistically. When Harry ‘dies’, the crane shot as he floats above his own body went a very, very long way up – an image so strong that it caused me to hire the DOP on a project years later. When Harry’s wife, played with merciless self-mockery by Lynette Curran, is unfaithful to him while he is lying in bed recovering from open heart surgery, he smells sex on her – and live sardines fall out of her knickers onto the floor of the ward. Apart from the fact that a shot like that would probably not be possible today without losing the Humane Society’s stamp of approval, when I first saw it, I laughed out loud and was awe-struck by the boldness of the idea. My reaction was to think, “If these people have that kind of creativity and ‘bugger what you think of us’ attitude, I want to know more about this culture”. My ignorant prejudice against Australia as narrow or somehow in the shadow of the Mother Country or, perish the thought, a poor cousin of California, all of those illusions were swept away. The whole film was original and bold and, above all, unapologetic.

The American poster for ‘Bliss’ takes a different tone.

Bliss had another effect. Having grown up in England during the height of the industrial chaos of constant strikes and power blackouts, I had developed a leaning towards conservatism. (I know, I know, I could lose my AACTA membership for saying such a thing – but there is a happy ending!) There is a scene in which a disillusioned corporate executive drunkenly reveals to Harry that his company has a ‘cancer map’ – a map showing where all the cancers are concentrated and which industries are in those areas as the probable causes of those cancers. He unfolds a map of NSW marked with cancer clusters and explains that the whole Western world is built on things that cause cancer. That single scene changed how I saw the world. It doesn’t matter that it may be an exaggeration – what matters is that it made sense and matched what I was reading in the newspapers. When lead in petrol was shown to be causing brain damage in children, the oil companies did not go into overdrive to remove the lead – they went into overdrive to delay having to do anything about it. Bliss’s cancer map was telling the truth. I started going green from that moment on.

Ray Lawrence showed such a flash of genius in casting Barry [Otto] for the role and gave him all the support he needed to let him be the heart of the film.

Because this frequently manic film has a split personality, it moves from the frenetic to the serene. After being stuck in a hotel room for days, claustrophobic, chaotic and airless, and then a mental hospital, Harry ends up in a rainforest. Again, this lad from Notting Hill was blown away by the very possibility that you could do such a thing. In England, we had The Good Life on the BBC, where two nice people turn their suburban garden into a self-sufficient mini-farm. It was a warm and funny sitcom – but it was clearly never going to be practical and it didn’t stop them breathing the polluted city air. In Australia, according to Bliss, you could get into your car and drive to a real rainforest.  Just like that. That was very definitely not part of the British experience and it fed the desire to come and be a part of the film culture in Oz.

But more than anything else, what held the film together, and made it make sense, was the humanity of Harry, played by Barry Otto. There is such a fluid quality about Barry’s movements, in how he wears his clothes, and a lyricism in his speech, that all seems to communicate a freedom in his thinking. Ray Lawrence showed such a flash of genius in casting Barry for the role and gave him all the support he needed to let him be the heart of the film. Before Bliss, I had seen Australian actors being bold and strong and stolid. Harry was the first character I had ever come across who was confused and questioning and obviously needing to be brave to ask those questions – the sort of questioning that is more typical of European cinema that deals in shades and colours instead of black and white, yes and no.

Honey Barbara (Helen Jones) and Harry Joy (Barry Otto).

So why do I adore Bliss? I have a list of ‘top ten’ films that stretches to nine pages of A4, but in that list there are relatively few movies that, on their own, have presented an idea so potently that they have prised away a prejudice and opened my eyes to new ways of seeing the world. Kandahar (dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 2001) did it. The Circle (dir. Jafar Panahi, 2000) did it. Dead Man Walking (dir. Tim Robbins, 1995) and American History X (dir Tony Kaye, 1998) did it. And Bliss did it in spades.

‘Waiting for the Turning of the Earth’

On a very personal note, I have to close by telling you a small story – and it’s all about hope and tenacity making your dreams become realities. I saw Picnic At Hanging Rock when I was about 20. I saw Bliss when I was about 26. I immigrated to Australia when I was 28. Over the years, I wrote and produced a couple of features and then went into a long mixture of script development hell and personal development purgatory. When I was 49, I was given a grant by Screen NSW to emerge as a Writer-Director and I finally got to direct Anne Louise Lambert  – Miranda from Picnic At Hanging Rock – and Barry Otto together in a short film called Waiting For The Turning Of The Earth, for which I was honoured and deeply touched to receive an AACTA nomination. This was a dream come true for me and a validation of the choices I had made that had led me to that moment. And another reason why I adore Bliss.

About David Evans Giles: David moved from Notting Hill in London to Australia in 1988. After writing and producing a TV series broadcast on Channel 9 (Your Home, one of the first home renovation shows), he teamed up with another writer to create what became Paradise Road, raising a major proportion of the finance for what was then the largest budget in Australian film history. Paradise Road starred Oscar nominees Glenn Close and Pauline Collins and Oscar winner Frances McDormand, and helped to launch Cate Blanchett’s feature career. David co-wrote and produced another feature film, Under The Lighthouse Dancing, starring AFI Award-winning actors, Naomi Watts, Jack Thompson and Jacqueline Mackenzie. The 23 minute short film Waiting For The Turning of the Earth is intended to launch his professional career directing drama. The film was made possible by a grant from Screen New South Wales under the Emerging Filmmakers Fund scheme and since receiving the nomination for an AACTA Award has been selected for film festivals around Australia and the USA. He is currently working on two feature films, The Human Condition, about how cancer is experienced in different parts of the world, and The Falling, a thriller.

Read Previous ‘Why I Adore’ Posts:

Paul Anthony Nelson (the ‘Why I Adore’ godfather and founder) introduces the concept, and rhapsodises about Mad Max. AFI Membership Administrator Lia McCrae-Moore revisits the lyrical beauty of One Night the Moon and Clem Bastow reminisces about a childhood spent watching the television show Round the Twist. Or you can read Anthony Morris flirting with disaster in his adoration of Romper Stomper, Annie Stevens going bridal with Muriel’s Wedding, or Popzilla bowing down before the altar of literary screen adaptations. More recently, Lia McCrae-Moore showers affection on SBS’s high-octane police thriller, East West 101, Rochelle Simienowicz delves deeply into the ground-breaking television series, Love My Way, and Simon Elschlepp discovers a fondness for stylish and audacious futuristic noir, Dark City.  Thomas Caldwell rhapsodises about Richard Lowenstein’s anarchic and playful 1986 film Dogs in Space, John Bailey remembers a strange fascination with Big Brother Up Late, Hila Shachar explains why Cate Shortland’s Somersault moves her so, Briony Kidd explains why she loves to be horrified by the Australian classic Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Glenn Dunks reveals himself to be a Kidmaniac in his celebration of Nicole Kidman.

Contribute: We’re currently looking for more ’Why I Adore’ articles devoted to Australian film and television. Send a one paragraph summary to editor[at] afi.org.au and we’ll get back to you with more details.

Why I Adore… Nicole Kidman

By Glenn Dunks

Kidmaniac
Kid●may●nee●ack
noun
1.
A person who has a great craving or enthusiasm for the work of Australian actress Nicole Kidman: “Glenn is such a Kidmaniac. He sees all of her work and thinks she should have won at least three Academy Awards by now.

You won’t find the above in the Oxford English Dictionary any time soon, but trust me when I tell you that we’re out there. You may not want to acknowledge us, but we’re there just waiting for you to admit “Yeah, I actually did like Australia,” which is when we’ll make our move and give you a detailed rundown of why Nicole Kidman is “the greatest actor of her generation.”

Those are actually words that I have found myself uttering a lot these days. As Kidman charges through 2012 like a bull in a china shop, her presence in the culture known as pop has reached fever pitch. Last month’s 65th annual Cannes Film Festival saw two Kidman performances – one of which sent Twitter into a yellow frenzy, if you know what I mean – and with several high profile titles within the next couple of years, she is very much “BACK!” on the public radar after years of being punished and shunned by people who have no idea how the movie industry works. (She had Botox you say? It’s as if she’s trying to remain young so she can keep working and not retire before the age of 40!)

Kidman loves burrowing into a character that counteracts social expectations of what a woman should be, and she does so with external strength, dignity and poise.

“But really?” I hear you say. “The best actor of her generation?” Why yes, she most certainly is. And not just because she has the resumé to back up such a statement. No, but because she represents everything that any actor, male or female, should endeavour to be. You just try convincing yourself that your favourite actor could ever go from winning an Academy Award for playing Virginia Woolf in a British period weepie one day, to filming a brutal three-hour Lars von Trier drama set on a barren stage in Denmark, where the actors have to pick fruit from invisible trees. Just try. Still, if you need me to go into further detail then I shall, but only because you asked so politely. No need to get all pissy about it!

Sorry, that article just makes me laugh.

Where does one exactly begin when discussing Nicole? There’s kitsch value to be found in watching the plump-faced, frizzy-haired young Nicole star in Brian Trenchard-Smith’s somewhat-camp classic, BMX Bandits (home of the best sound effects editing in an Australian film ever, fact!). But I’m sure she’d scrunch her face up in horror if anybody ever suggested it.. The Nicole we all know really started on the small screen – an arena she has returned to this year with Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012) to positive reviews – where she received praise and accolades for work on Vietman (1987) and Ken Cameron’s Bangkok Hilton (1989), movies she still discusses in international interviews to this day. Of course, those works and others like them are hard to come by on DVD, which means that sadly few people have seen them.

If her early TV work, coupled with a tenacious starring role at just 18 years of age in Philip Noyce’s at-sea thriller, Dead Calm (1989), had suggested great talent as a dramatic actress, then her role in the film industry satire Emerald City (1988) and as an almost-mean girl in Flirting (1991) announced she also had a deft hand at comedy. Emerald City, for which Kidman was nominated for an AFI Award as Best Supporting Actress, features dialogue about the state of the industry and the plight of actors that perfectly mirrors Kidman’s own outlook. Just watch this video from the 50 second mark and try not to see the parallels.

As boarding school queen bee Nicola in Flirting, Kidman eschews the character’s potential to be little more than a hurdle for the lead characters (Noah Taylor and Thandie Newton) to overcome in their quest for love. Her icy – that descriptor began early in her career, it’s fair to say – performance is filled with delightfully comical vocal deliveries and mannerisms. Her superior, almost regal, posture featured here would go on to become a mainstay of her more cold-hearted characters (see Marisa Coulter in The Golden Compass (2007) and Margot in Margot at the Wedding (2007)).

Her work in Flirting is even more impressive than that of Emerald City. With a deep-felt monologue towards the film’s end instantly adding layers of pathos to Kidman’s performance, Flirting becomes a great early example of what Kidman would go on to perfect. She is stunning at playing women (or, in this case, a girl) who grapple with the balance of the internal and the external, not succumbing to the role that society expects.

Consider her role as Becca in Rabbit Hole (2010), another perfect example of this very issue. Kidman loves burrowing into a character that counteracts social expectations of what a woman should be, and she does so with external strength, dignity and poise. Even if she secretly wants to shed this skin and show to the world that she is as vulnerable as the next person, her characters choose to expose their feelings in private. In Flirting it is only Thandie Newton’s Thandiwe Adjewa who knows the true secret behind her character. In Rabbit Hole it’s a devastating breakdown on the side of the road as she witnesses the teenage boy (a superb Miles Teller) who was responsible for her four-year-old’s death heading off to his senior prom, something she will never see her own child do.

As her characters struggle to act publicly in ways that people expect her to – girly and frilly, highly strung, emotional, on the verge of a crying meltdown – so too does Kidman. So frequently described as “cold” and “icy” by detractors because she all but refuses to adhere to Hollywood standards of what an A-lister should be like. She has admitted to taking on roles dictated by her stardom that she found little artistic merit to, but no other actor of Kidman’s stature has such an impressive ratio of daring, auteur-driven films to multiplex fare. When she should have been making a sequel to her Sandra Bullock witchy romcom Practical Magic (1998), she was working with Stanley Kubrick on Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Her reluctance to discuss her family life, her willingness to dive headfirst into the creative abyss with directors she respects despite the high risk of failure (Steven Shainberg’s Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006) for instance), a public image of shy awkwardness, and a healthy dose of localised Tall Poppy Syndrome make her an ‘unlovable’ person and, as sad as it may be, likeability is something which lot of mainstream audiences think makes for a great actor.

In quick succession Kidman demonstrated her gift for dark humour, literary romance, sexual devilishness, coquettish delight and femme fatale sizzle.

Kidman didn’t always possess the chilly and calculated persona perceived by so many today. With the release of Dead Calm in 1989 came international exposure and the promise of a Hollywood career. Her marriage to Days of Thunder (1990) and Far and Away (1992) co-star, Tom Cruise, resulted in her career being put on the backburner. She worked – semi-arthouse Billy Bathgate (1991), domestic thriller Malice (1993), superhero flick Batman Forever (1995), the sort of roles people expect from an emerging young star – but the uneasily pigeonholed actress was finding her American work was not rising to the standard set by her Australian work.

It was in 1995 that saw Kidman’s career took its greatest leap forward. By being cast in Gus van Sant’s cruelly satirical To Die For as power-hungry Suzanne Stone Maretto, Kidman finally unleashed the creative energy that had been sidelined by marriage and family. It’s a fiercely devoted performance by Kidman, and one that 18 years has failed to diminish. Openly sexual, villainous and morally unhinged, the role seemed to have clicked something within Kidman. Her desire to emerge out of the shadow of her movie-star husband and away from her role as glorified Hollywood arm-candy, to work with directors for whom the auteur theory was seemingly devised became more and more obvious. She won her first Golden Globe Award for her portrayal in To Die For and her first real taste of artistic integrity on a grand scale.

With the creative cobwebs well and truly blown away thanks to that guffaw-inducing dark comedy, Kidman immediately embarked upon a sort of global whistlestop tour of famous auteurs that continues to this very day. Porcelain-fine in Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady (1996) as, yet again, a woman confined by society’s expectations; eyes so piercing as Tom Cruise’s brittly domestic wife on the periphery of Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999); an all-singing all-dancing dying courtesan in Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece Moulin Rouge! (2001); the tormented, yet simplistically hopeful, mobster daughter of Lars von Trier’s Dogville (2004); a widow confronted with reincarnation in Jonathan Glazer’s Birth (2005); the unflinchingly dry and toxic Margot in Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding (2007). The list goes on: Sydney Pollack (The Interpreter, 2005), John Cameron Mitchell (Rabbit Hole), Lee Daniels (The Paperboy, 2012)… even some of her disasters were taken upon good faith in directors like Oliver Hirschbiegel (The Invasion, 2007), Nora Ephron (Bewitched, 2005), and The Stepford Wives (Frank Oz, 2004). She was even set to work with famed Chinese director, Wong Kar-wai on a remake of The Lady from Shanghai, just one of many long-gestating projects of Kidman’s that never got off the ground.

Kidman will no doubt continue to suffer a career that compares eerily well with those of the golden era like, for instance, Katherine Hepburn, who was once denounced as “box office poison”. Her continued perseverance with the weird and the wonderful of cinema will surely continue to confuse as many as it awes…

These roles, complex and layered each, are all starkly different and brilliant. In quick succession Kidman demonstrated her gift for dark humour, literary romance, sexual devilishness, coquettish delight and femme fatale sizzle. Still, by 2000 she’d still not quite become a name among the greats. Cue 2001 and what can surely be described as one of the greatest ever coming out parties of all time. Descending the ceiling of Baz Luhrmann’s glitter-bombed, hyperactive, modernised rethink of the classic Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris, didn’t just bring with it a worldwide star, but a performance that deserves to rank as one of the most definitively cinematic ever given. As Satine, the lovestruck courtesan emerging in jewels to “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, Kidman helped usher in a new dawn for movie musicals and in a double-whammy alongside Alejando Amenábar’s haunted house tale The Others proved that 2001 – not to mention the press revolving around her divorce and those infamous “I can wear heels now!” comments – was The Year of Nicole. She’d successfully blended the art with the mainstream and it was glorious. An Academy Award soon followed for The Hours, although it’s telling that she finally won for a performance that was very good, yes, but hardly the sort of artistic stretch that had come before and after.

Kidman’s penchant for taking roles that sit outside the preconceived box of what an “American Sweetheart” should take, proved the public love affair with this goofy, lanky, somewhat exotic beauty was short-lived. Misjudged romcoms and a bombastic epic, Cold Mountain (2004), brought about a swift end to Kidman’s reign as Hollywood’s highest paid and most sympathetic star. Still, arguably her two greatest achievements followed in arguably her two most difficult films.

As muse to Danish provocateur Lars von Trier, she took to the cinematic stage of Dogville (2004) less than 24 hours after accepting her Oscar. Von Trier calls upon Kidman to be the victim of horrible crimes and, by film’s end, make a devastating moral decision, which is hardly the stuff of megastars. Playing Grace, she of whispery voice and persona as fragile as vintage lace, Kidman is truly astonishing. It is quite literally a performance the likes of which we have never seen before. It’s just not the thing for actors of Kidman’s stature to do, not now, not ever. Contrary to what Heidi Klum has to say, fashion isn’t the only arena where “one day you’re in, the next day you’re out” is true. For decades actors, especially women, have been forced to navigate the whims of public discourse and the idea that one failure can send you back to the dole queue.

If Kidman were doing this sort of bravely unflinching work in films with no artistic merit and made by filmmakers with no vision then I’m sure I wouldn’t be talking about her the way I am now, but the fact of the matter is that when many other so-called great actors are out there taking work with little element of risk (ahem, Meryl Streep), Kidman has been stepping out of the comfort zone for nearly two decades now and she reached the apex (for me, anyway) one year later with the haunting, honey-lit identity horror of Jonathan Glazer’s Birth (2005). Sumptuously made – Alexandre Desplat’s score is perhaps the greatest in several decades – this Kubrickian adult fairy tale about a widow and the boy who claims to be her reincarnated husband is not only Kidman’s finest work to date, but a truly awe-inspiring achievement. To try and find a single scene with as much intensity and heart-breaking, gut-wrenching power as the single-shot opera sequence is to embark on a foolhardy mission. That single close-up of Nicole’s Anna, as she quietly contemplates the very real possibilities that have been laid before her, is like witnessing a cinematic miracle.

While it seemed everybody was turning their back on Kidman, we Kidmaniacs remained steadfastly devoted. A powerhouse performance in Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding, a deliciously evil turn in Chris Weitz’s The Golden Compass and a dreamily nostalgic turn as a glamourous Italian movie star in Rob Marshall’s Nine kept the flame burning. The new decade has brought about a newfound appreciation that has seen many come back around to my side. Oscar-nominated for Rabbit Hole, and working with such diverse and exciting directors as Lee Daniels (The Paperboy), Chan-wook Park (Stoker) and Jonathan Teplitzky (The Railway Man, her first local production since Luhrmann’s Australia (2008)).

Kidman will no doubt continue to suffer a career that compares eerily well with those of the golden era like, for instance, Katherine Hepburn, who was once denounced as “box office poison”. Her continued perseverance with the weird and the wonderful of cinema will surely continue to confuse as many as it awes and, to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Part of the reason why I adore her so much is that she is so unafraid to go where others wouldn’t. If everybody suddenly became a Kidmaniac like me in the blink of an eye then it would mean she had become conventional and who wants that?

About Glenn Dunks: Growing up in Geelong, to the west of Melbourne, his love of cinema began young and remembers Dick Tracy in 1990 as his first time in a movie theatre. He began writing first at his blog, Stale Popcorn, and eventually for websites Trespass Magazine and as the film editor for Onya Magazine, a web zine dedicated exclusively to Australian content. His writing has appeared in The Big Issue, Encore, The Melbourne International Film Festival, and he has been heard on JOY 94.9FM. Apart from Kidmania, Glenn has a passion for Australian, queer and New York cinema.

Read Previous ‘Why I Adore’ Posts:

Paul Anthony Nelson (the ‘Why I Adore’ godfather and founder) introduces the concept, and rhapsodises about Mad Max. AFI Membership Administrator Lia McCrae-Moore revisits the lyrical beauty of One Night the Moon and Clem Bastow reminisces about a childhood spent watching the television show Round the Twist. Or you can read Anthony Morris flirting with disaster in his adoration of Romper Stomper, Annie Stevens going bridal with Muriel’s Wedding, or Popzilla bowing down before the altar of literary screen adaptations. More recently, Lia McCrae-Moore showers affection on SBS’s high-octane police thriller, East West 101, Rochelle Simienowicz delves deeply into the ground-breaking television series, Love My Way, and Simon Elschlepp discovers a fondness for stylish and audacious futuristic noir, Dark City.  Thomas Caldwell rhapsodises about Richard Lowenstein’s anarchic and playful 1986 film Dogs in Space, John Bailey remembers a strange fascination with Big Brother Up Late, Hila Shachar explains why Cate Shortland’s Somersault moves her so, and most recently Briony Kidd explains why she loves to be horrified by the Australian classic Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Contribute: We’re currently looking for more ’Why I Adore’ articles devoted to Australian film and television. Send a one paragraph summary to editor[at] afi.org.au and we’ll get back to you with more details.

Why I Adore…The Horror of Picnic at Hanging Rock

by Briony Kidd 

I’ve always been interested in ghost stories and the macabre, but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I began to identify as a horror fan. If you’d asked me earlier, at film school, I would have said I was into directors such as Jane Campion, Hal Hartley and Jim Jarmusch. Big genre names like Carpenter, Craven and Hooper were barely a blip on my cinematic radar. It surprises me now to recall that I didn’t attempt anything in horror back then (although in retrospect, my pretentious first-year film, about a woman who has a nightmare about a wolf, was hinting in that direction).

I wonder how much that stems from a subconscious understanding that horror was a masculine form of expression. Certainly, I was seemingly incapable of recognising that Jane Campion’s The Piano, a film that I admired greatly, could be traced directly back to the Gothic tradition from which so much of the genre is descended.

Perhaps for the same reason, I’d never thought of Picnic at Hanging Rock, with its girls in pretty dresses and largely feminine perspective, as a horror film. It was, however, a film I knew had deeply affected me.

I would’ve been about eight when I first saw it and I remember debriefing about it with my sisters and cousins, with that gossipy blend of fear and prurience that might have marked playground discussions about Freddy Krueger’s latest antics. We wondered, Joan Lindsay’s ploy having worked, if it had really happened, and the wondering made it all the more seductive.

I still recall the feeling it evoked in me, and shadows of that initial effect linger when I watch the film today. It’s something visceral, as much a product of the juxtaposition of music and moments of awkward emotion— a scream, a look or a physical gesture— as to do with the story itself (although something similar is achieved through dialogue, with phrases like ‘red cloud’ and ‘in her drawers’ creating an image in the mind’s eye).

The overall effect is difficult to define but I’ll give it a go. It’s a film that evokes a sense of mystery and dread but also a compelling spiritualism. This is most obviously embodied in the subplot incident of Albert being visited by his sister Sara in a dream, his bedroom ‘bright as day’ and smelling of pansies. Why include this hint of a ghost story, or astral projection? It’s off-topic. Sara’s death has nothing to do with the rock directly. I think it’s important because it reinforces the idea of spiritual connections—between people and between people and places—that are beyond life and death. The film suggests connections to Aboriginal mythology in its depiction of the rock as a place of immense power. It explores the White Australian experience of existing on an ancient land while having limited understanding of it, and the potential for that to be both marvellous and terrifying.

And yet, the Aboriginal tracker who appears in one scene barely registers, showing no more likelihood of knowing what the hell is going on than any other man in the search party. This detail, insignificant as it seems, hints that the colonial experience depicted is only a wrapping for the deeper intent of the story, being an exploration of female sexuality and identity.

Is Picnic at Hanging Rock then an example of what is some are these days calling ‘female response horror’?

Okay, the film’s director and screenwriter are both male, but the story’s originator (Joan Lindsay) is not. There’s a tradition of female authors using horror to express their most intimate fears, going back to Mary Shelley and later embodied by the likes of Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson. Is Joan Lindsay (and Weir, continuing what she started) part of that continuum?

I’d be interested to know if there’s been much written about either the book or film from a feminist perspective, and there’s still a lot I don’t know about it all—what Joan Lindsay’s life was like, what drew Weir to the material. But for the moment, I’m more interested in where it sits within the frame of genre.

The film is a whirlpool of emotions both primal and complex. It explores sexuality, repression, love, romance, guilt, shame and obsession, using the setting of a girls’ school in 1900 as a sort of laboratory for psychological observation. In this sense it’s a horror as you might so describe Persona — that of the human psyche stripped bare.

The menacing and mysterious Rock

And yet, with its ‘true story’ conceit, slowly building to a horrifying reveal (at the midpoint rather than at the end) and heavy reliance on music, it’s also a horror film in the more literal sense, and we can see how films like Wolf Creek and Lake Mungo have carried on in its ‘metaphysical Australian Gothic’ footsteps.

On still another level, it establishes a sense of its own mythology (as was Lindsay’s intention), so that we feel it’s part of a larger truth. It cleverly evokes a nostalgia that lets us view the story through a lens of memory, so that we almost feel that it’s something we ourselves have experienced and now recall, ‘a dream within a dream’.

All these elements add up to one of the most accomplished examples of psychological horror you’re ever likely to see.

It’s particularly impressive that the lack of ‘answers’ to the mystery depicted doesn’t at all diminish the film’s effect. The Blair Witch Project, another successful horror film in the Picnic tradition, shows that that’s a strategy that still works. Audiences don’t feel cheated if there’s enough else to think about; they feel exhilarated.

But Picnic at Hanging Rock has long since attained the status of a worthy cultural landmark, a shining beacon of the golden age of Australian cinema. Partly for this reason, the image many people have of it is as a period piece with girls floating around in white dresses, all old-fashioned and chocolate-boxy, and basically irrelevant.

I contend that actually watching the film, as opposed to catching glimpses of Miranda’s retreating back in jingoistic montages or in government funding body brochures, puts pay to that view.

What I most love about the film is its stylistic boldness. It’s not a timid film, and it’s not particularly tasteful.

‘Tastefulness’ I define as that constraint which holds artists back, having a sense of what is required, the right gesture at the right time; a sense of nuance and maturity and delicacy. I don’t believe in it, hence my attraction to horror.

Interestingly enough, the psychological horror film, of all horror subgenres, is the one that is supposedly subtle. It’s also the genre that I’m most particularly drawn to. At this point I may be in danger of falling into a rhetorical wormhole of some kind but bear with me.

I think Picnic at Hanging Rock proves that psychological horror has no greater obligation to subtlety than any other kind of horror. It involves less blood and gore—but its ideas, and the impact of them, must be just as shocking. This can’t be achieved without taking artistic risks, and lots of them.

Consider the almost ham-fisted cutting back and forward between a shot of a white swan and a shot of Miranda. That’s symbolism of course, an ‘art-house’ technique. But consider: Michael is cracking up. He’s obsessed with Miranda, he’s fractured by his experience on the rock. He’s having flashes of remembering a girl he only ever saw once in his life and he thinks she’s like a swan. He doesn’t just think once that she’s like a swan, he’s bloody obsessed with it.

‘What some would call profound I say is verging on cheesy…’

What some would call profound I say is verging on cheesy… but I like it. It’s the sort of thing that works in a horror film to show that a character is losing their mind. You can’t be in any doubt about such things you can’t afford to wonder, “Well, is this character happy or sad or what?” You must know what they’re thinking, and if they happen to be thinking something weird and nutty, Well, you know what? I’m just going to show it (so thought Mr Weir).

Neither does the film hold back camera-wise, with its dreamy soft focus, its use of slow motion and and randomly inserted close-ups of wildlife. The cinematography is extraordinarily beautiful, channeling Frederick McCubbin one minute and Monet the next, but doesn’t turn its nose up at a zoom when the mood strikes, and why not?

Musically it’s similarly unrestrained, with its potent blend of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, Georg Zamfir’s panpipes, and original score by Bruce Smeaton—most memorably a fugue-like piano piece resplendent with Mellotron ‘choir,’ highlighting the ascent. It’s a glorious mash-up, and it’s intense.

The music drives the story, as with any successful horror film, and it drives the story into places neither the viewer nor characters themselves understand at all. The score knows things we don’t know; things that we probably shouldn’t want to know about, but that compel and fascinate us.

And what about that hysterical scream, accompanied by a zoom, when ‘the little dumpy one’ realises that her friends Miranda, Irma and Marion are going to keep walking up and up to the top of the rock and they’re not going to turn back, no matter how much she whines or pleads? Like zombies in reverse, the girls leave Edith relentlessly, embracing their deaths (their ‘doom’) with inhuman resolve.

That’s the moment when the film fully reveals itself, and it’s as thrilling as anything in Night of the Living Dead.

Like all great filmmakers, Weir understands the potency of the human face on screen. He calls it “the great invention of cinema, greater than sound or colour, 3D or CGI.”

I would extrapolate from this to say that fear evoked merely through violence or gore will never match the shock of a character’s realisation (and ours, through them) that everything they thought they knew has been overturned.

Nothing matches our horror at seeing reflected back at us what we innately know; that we will never truly understand.

END

[Images kindly sourced with permission from the National Film & Sound Archive]

About Briony Kidd:  Growing up in Tasmania, and graduating from the VCA Film School in Melbourne, her most recent film, The Room at the Top of the Stairs, is a Gothic melodrama, described by Fangoria as “a haunting, poetic tale [that] absolutely sticks in your bones.” It has screened in numerous film festivals around the world, including as a semi-finalist at Moondance and the Canberra Short Film Festival and an Honourable Mention in the Best Director category at the Vancouver Viscera Film Festival. In 2012, with Rebecca Thomson, Briony founded the Stranger With My Face Horror Film Festival in Hobart. Briony has several feature film projects in development as a writer/director, including a psychological ghost story called Salt of the Earth and a ‘giallo’ style horror film.

http://strangerwithmyface.com/ | http://www.thetopofthestairs.com/| https://twitter.com/#!/BrionyKidd

Read Previous ‘Why I Adore’ Posts:

Paul Anthony Nelson (the ‘Why I Adore’ godfather and founder) introduces the concept, and rhapsodises about Mad Max. AFI Membership Administrator Lia McCrae-Moore revisits the lyrical beauty of One Night the Moon and Clem Bastow reminisces about a childhood spent watching the television show Round the Twist. Or you can read Anthony Morris flirting with disaster in his adoration of Romper Stomper, Annie Stevens going bridal with Muriel’s Wedding, or Popzilla bowing down before the altar of literary screen adaptations. Most recently, Lia McCrae-Moore showers affection on SBS’s high-octane police thriller, East West 101, Rochelle Simienowicz delves deeply into the ground-breaking television series, Love My Way, and Simon Elschlepp discovers a fondness for stylish and audacious futuristic noir, Dark City.  Thomas Caldwell rhapsodises about Richard Lowenstein’s anarchic and playful 1986 film Dogs in Space, John Bailey remembers a strange fascination with Big Brother Up Lateand most recently Hila Shachar explains why Cate Shortland’s Somersault moves her so.

Contribute: We’re currently looking for more ’Why I Adore’ articles devoted to Australian film and television. Send a one paragraph summary to editor[at] afi.org.au and we’ll get back to you with more details.


Why I Adore: Round the Twist

By Clem Bastow

There’s no surer way to guarantee your rapid plunge into irrelevance than lamenting the lot of “kids these days”. Their music is too loud, or too stupid; they have no manners; they take too many drugs; and their hair colour is weird and unnatural. “Kids” took plenty of drugs in the 1960s, hair colours were weirder in the ’90s, and music has been loud and stupid since Prokofiev wrote Dance of the Knights. In other words, I’d sooner commit hara kiri via rocking chair than turn into an old fogey.

However, whenever I take a casual stroll across the TV networks during the children’s television hours, I am struck by one particular thought: it’s a shame that kids these days don’t get to grow up with Round the Twist (1989-2000). That sense of slowly creeping fogeyism sparks up whenever I think of Paul Jennings and Esben Storm’s show, unquestionably one of the best children’s television shows Australia has produced. In fact, I would go so far as to say one of the best television shows Australia has produced, period.

It’s funny the way Round the Twist will weave its way back into my life. For a time, there was a Twitter game we (read: I) whiled away the hours with. It entailed, simply, writing “You now have the Round the Twist theme song in your head” and watching the outraged @-replies come flooding in.

Round the Twist Series 2

Round the Twist: Series 2

At other times, it’s been as fleeting and simple as someone saying “You two are on washing-up duty for the next 25 years!” or finishing a sentence with “…Without my pants.” Some days it’s wishing that I had a magical ability to pass on injuries to others by playing The Wild Colonial Boy on an enchanted gum leaf.

Most recently, it was upon hearing the sad news that the show’s co-creator and producer (and star, as Mr Snapper) Esben Storm had died at the age of 60. Mr Snapper was always the archetypal school principal. I can recall many classmates bellowing “SNAPPER’S COMING!” when a teacher’s footsteps stalked the hallway outside the classroom.

Round the Twist occupies a strange place in the subconscious of a generation (or so) of Australians; it didn’t necessarily enter the vernacular in the same way that, say The Simpsons did, and yet there it is, always hiding in the backs of our minds, a televisual folklore. A holiday pilgrimage to “the lighthouse” seems to be a recurring theme among many of my peers.

I think what made it – and keeps it – so compelling and watchable was that unlike most children’s shows, which feature plenty of mugging asides and bright colours, Round the Twist was bawdy, natural and, most important of all, not afraid of melancholy.

The episode Nails, from the second season remains one of the finest filmic depictions of young love. In it, Linda falls for the new boy at school, the mysterious Andrew, who lives on an island with his single dad. It turns out Andrew’s mum was a mermaid, and soon Andrew will return to the sea to live with her in a bittersweet shared custody arrangement.

It’s a testament to the delicacy of Jennings and Storm’s writing that the episode manages to pack more genuine emotion – without ever resorting to sentimentality or mawkishness – into its half hour than most romantic comedies can manage over the course of an hour or more. (In between Linda and Andrew’s lovely interactions, it goes without saying, Nails is also hilarious.)

There are, of course, plenty of good children’s TV shows being made these days. Many of the US efforts, particularly Wizards Of Waverly Place and iCarly, are cut from the same cloth as classic TV comedies like I Love Lucy and TheRound the Twist DVD cover Nanny. But there’s something about Round the Twist’s first two seasons (the “post-Jennings” years were less remarkable) that feels like it was a one-off; as though some special alchemy of cast, crew, time and place came together for a few brief moments to create a perfect series. It’s the same magic that permeates more recent short-lived shows like Freaks & Geeks and Party Down.

It would be easy to say “there’ll never be another show like it”, but that would be to lose faith in the possibility that kids these days may be lucky enough to be treated to their own TV show with the enduring importance of a show like Round the Twist.

Until that day, however, I’ll never forget the time when we “pissed on the cold ear”.

About the Author:
Clem Bastow is a Melbourne writer. She is the Music Editor of The Big Issue and Senior Contributor at Inpress, and also writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and Sunday Age. Catherine Deveny called her “one of the most dynamic, innovative and talented young writers and communicators we have in Australia”; Brian McFadden called her “some journalist”. After a decade of dedicated service to the music criticism business, she has also branched out into TV and film criticism at The Vine. In her spare time she spends too much money making costumes to wear to pop culture conventions.

Extra Links for Round the Twist:

Round the Twist on Wikipedia
Round the Twist on Australian Screen
Buy the series – available from the ABC Shop
Read the AFI’s tribute to the late Esben Storm here.

Read Previous ‘Why I Adore’ Posts:

Paul Anthony Nelson (the ‘Why I Adore’ godfather and founder) introduces the concept, and rhapsodises about Mad Max. AFI Membership Administrator Lia McCrae-Moore revisits the lyrical beauty of One Night the Moon.

Contribute:

We’re currently looking for more ‘Why I Adore’ articles devoted to Australian film and television. Send a one paragraph summary to editor[at] afi.org.au and we’ll get back to you with more details.