We are going to bury the lede here to focus first on Australian filmmakers in general. Going all the way back to the Australian New Wave of the 1970s — which includes such notables as Peter Weir, George Miller, Bruce Beresford, Gillian Armstrong, Phillip Noyce, etc. — these “blokes and Sheilas” have been noted for their cutting-edge approach to storytelling and visual presentation.
From Walkabout, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Money Movers (geeze, how come this film isn’t available on DVD and/or Blu-ray) and Mad Max to the likes of Aussie filmmaker Russell Mulcahy’s Razorback, P.J. Hogan’s Muriel’s Wedding and Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek one can find example after example … it’s a long list that could easily fill up this week’s edition of the report.
Throw in The Lighthorsemen (Bruce Beresford … and not available domestically), the late Richard Franklin’s 1981 thriller, Road Games (starring two American actors … but Aussie nonetheless) and Sean Byrne’s 2009 horror gem The Love Ones, and you can see how quickly you can get lost in the great outback.
So with this “beaut” of an intro we can now get to the real thrust of this piece. There is yet another “Down Under” film gem on its way to the domestic home entertainment market place on Aug. 2 that you will want to take note of. This would be Aussie writer/director Joseph Sims-Dennett's Observance, which will be available as both DVD and Blu-ray product offerings from Artsploitation Films.
The story, which is deliberately obtuse (so as to keep you guessing), has Parker (Lindsay Farris — who also starred in Sims-Dennett's 2011 film, Bad Behaviour) landing a short term gig as a “peeper” (private detective), whose job it is to keep track of a woman by the name of Tenneal (Stephanie King — making her feature film debut).
Parker’s son has recently died, his marriage is on the rocks and his finances (from the medical bills) are overwhelming … so he is open to just about anything that can take some of the load off. And that’s what he’s got, a nasty little job that has him locked away in a dingy apartment literally spying on the woman across the way. It’s a stink hole (you’ll feel in need of a shower after this one) and the job is voyeuristic and more than over-the-line creepy.
Despite watching her (complete with camera and telephoto lens) for hours on end, he knows very little about her. His employer tells him not to worry about it … and then extends the gig and throws in even more money (so why ask too many questions).
Slowly Parker’s claustrophobic little world starts to unravel. The apartment (stink hole), the job and his unrelenting depression all combine for a steady descent into madness … but is it all planned, or is it just the circumstances of the assignment! And who is Tenneal?
Circle Aug. 2 on your viewing calendar … Observance on DVD and Blu-ray is a must.