Ned Kelly Rides Again

In 2011, Justin Kurzel, an Australian director, first attracted attention for his feature film debut, The Smalltown Murders, which was based on the crimes of serial killer John Bunting in South Australia. For his follow-up film, he went to Scotland and made a savage, stylized interpretation of MacBeth (2015) starring Michael Fassbinder, which was nominated for the Palme d’Oro at the Cannes Film Festival. Then Kurzel graduated to the major leagues for Assassin’s Creed (2016), a big budget fantasy adventure filmed in Malta, Spain and the UK and based on the popular video game series. The critics savaged it, moviegoers were indifferent, and it was considered one of the biggest bombs of 2016. After that, Kurzel returned to his homeland and decided to focus on a folk hero who is still a polarizing figure in his country’s history – Ned Kelly. The subsequent film, True History of the Kelly Gang (2019), is a visually dynamic and emotionally chaotic biopic which might be the most unusual interpretation yet of Australia’s infamous outlaw.   Continue reading

Any Port in a Storm

sailor from Gibraltar (fra) posterAlong with his film adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark (1969), Tony Richardson’s The Sailor from Gibraltar (1967) is probably the most obscure and rarely seen film from the director’s middle period, a time when he was floundering and unable to match the earlier critical and commercial success of his 1963 Tom Jones adaptation. There are many reasons for that, of course, and Richardson would probably admit it was one of his biggest disasters, if not the biggest. It also wasn’t intended for the average moviegoer and was much more attuned to art house cinema patrons with its enigmatic story based on the novel Le marin de Gibraltar by Marguerite Duras, whose screenplay for Hiroshima, Mon Amour received an Oscar® nomination in 1961 (even though the film was released in 1959). To date, The Sailor from Gibraltar is still missing in action with no legal DVD or Blu-Ray release available. Continue reading