Two limited release movies not to miss

On Body And Soul

Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi is a bold and unique filmmaker who doesn’t play by any of the usual rules. Her first film in nearly 20 years is about two people who share the same dream about deers in a snowy forest (huh, how is that possible?) It’s also a tender love story set in an abattoir (really!?) Though maybe a slaughterhouse is the logical location – if you’re trying to convey something profound about mankind’s connection with nature and the existence of the soul. But it also means that the normal disclaimer, “No animals were harmed during the making of…” has been replaced by… Well, I won’t spell it out, but will issue a warning: There’s one short scene looking directly into the wide terrified eyes of a cow after its been shackled and bolted into place when the poor creature surely knows its about to die that is one of the most harrowing things I’ve ever seen at the cinema.

Fortunately Enyedi is an expert an switching from the blackest of horror to comedy and back again in the blink of an eye. For this slaughterhouse keeps a bovine aphrodisiac, and one of its employees has been stupid enough to steal some of it – presumably for their own for use. The lazy cop (who always leaves his investigative visits with a bag full of choice prime-cuts) suggests the company hire a psychologist (a hilariously unprofessionally dressed and buxom Réka Tenki) to help find the culprit. She asks the workers about their dreams and questions like ”How old were you when you first ejaculated?” Errr… I don’t think I want that on my HR file, thanks all the same!

It’s during those sessions that we find out Endre (Géza Morcsányi), a middle aged and grizzled manager with a useless withered arm has exactly the same dreams as Maria (Alexandra Borbély), the company’s newly hired and painfully shy quality controller. She’s both beautiful and strange – probably border-line autistic, and her co-workers mock her behind her back. She’s also a stickler for obeying rules, so she grades all the beef as sub-standard, something Endre has to fix. Then the narrative switch gears and languorously explores the lives of these two damaged souls and their odd mystical bond. Nothing is predictable about the way their relationship pans out, and Enyedi keeps both her nicest surprise and also the film’s tensest, most confronting scene right until the end. By then you’ll be both thoroughly charmed by this strangely disturbing story and its ethereal, poetic visuals. But also a little spooked by its breathtaking audacity. CTC from May 10 at Dendy Newtown, Opera Quays and Palace Chauvel only.  ★★★★1/2

Midnight Oil: 1984

The promised “Access All Areas” backstage pass to Midnight Oils’ concerts in the mid-eighties doesn’t really deliver any secrets – this tight, all-so-professional band with a politician as frontman has always been pretty good at staying on script. This feels like the official version, and the script is guarded too. But while Ray Argall’s doco is hardly a tell-all memoir of the Oil’s wild tempestuous heyday, its superb concert footage more than makes up for any deficiencies. The raw power of this band at maximum ampage performing in packed smoky auditoriums must have been incredible to experience, and its heaving, sweat soaked mosh pits clearly a thrilling (and dangerous) place to be. Argal’s camera captures it all magnificently, and unlike the recent Gurrumul doco, there no shortage of rip-roaring concert footage and stirring music in this film. The mostly young male audiences were clearly in awe of Peter Garrett, the gangly mad singer who twirled and thrashed about on stage like a demented store mannequin on meth. At least when he wasn’t admonishing them for aggressive behaviour. “Settle down boys, settle…” Then he sounded like a headmaster. Or a politician… 

Which is where the film does get really intriguing – and the background footage of the campaign trail is both curious and fascinating. What an innocent and strange time 1984 looks now. Garret made his first tilt at Canberra that year standing as a senator for the Nuclear Disarmament Party. It was pretty obvious the band and management weren’t totally on board – no one knew what it would mean to a group then on the edge of international success, or to the nation, to have a rock star in parliament. Not good, probably… Outside the band not everyone wished him well either, certainly not the Democrats (a precursor to the Greens) whose votes he was nicking, or the Labor Party then led by Bob Hawke who were terrified of losing the youth vote. When he just missed out on a NSW quota, everybody breathed a sigh of relief. All major parties had preferenced against him, including the ALP. Yeah, well… Labor forgave him later. And didn’t that work out well! M from May 10 for a limited season. Inner west venues include Palace Norton Street, Palace Central, Burwood and Dendy Newtown. ★★★★

Reviews – Russell Edwards