Well… how do you know?
I received the latest Gleebooks Gleaner yesterday, and saw thatÂ the lastÂ of my trio of classic favourite films was finally available on DVD. Mind you, there’s classics and there’s classics. Ask me to sit down and watch Casablanca with you, or The Third Man or… I’ll not refuse and I’ll enjoy myself.
Ask me what will immediately drag me back to the period that I first became really aware of bigger social issues and more interesting music and that there was more to what people did and liked – and what I could do and like – and I’ll name you three films; Repo Man, Liquid Sky and Dogs in Space. Not that I was ever a heroin addict (or even really used anything more than alcohol). Nor did I have any real desire to rebel against anything or go off and live in a squat or a commune or run away from home.
All three films were ones that I saw soon after moving to Sydney and tangentially touching the inner city art and music scene that James was more of a part of. While I’ve had Repo Man for a while now, and Liquid Sky for a few months, it was only today that I finally got the chance to see my favourite of the lot after so many years.
I’ve had the soundtrack for ages and it’s always a pick-me-up; watching it in context was an interesting experience. I think that this movie was the first one I saw that used music as an integral part of the story (god, that sounds like
Jane Campion Jan Chapman in those crappy cinema ads), and re-watching it just reinforced that memory of understanding that music can drive a story equally as well as dialogue or acting.
Basically, each track on the soundtrack is prefixed with dialogue followed by the entire piece of music. In the movie, the dialogue may be nowhere near the music and you only hear snippetsÂ of tracks in the mix, in general, soÂ I kept hearing dialogue on-screen and then hearing the following soundtrack music in my head, or hearing the music on-screen and replaying the preceding soundtrack dialogue in my head. I’ll have to watch it again to try and get used to what’s supposed to be where. It was disconcerting to realise that I had a different rhythm to theÂ overall story in my head, than existed on screen, because I was expecting plot points in places other than they were.
I was a bit bemused in that the DVD is a 2-disc set, with 3 commentary track, two theatrical trailers, featurettes etc., but no subtitles. Then I realised how much cross-dialogue there is and how complicated each scene is and realised that subtitles would probably be of little use. I’ll have to watch it again to also see what I missed hearing properly this time.
Michael Hutchence isn’t a great actor – not even really a good actor. But that’s all right; the character isn’t one that needs great acting. All he has to do is be a spaced out musician junkie that grunts and grimaces and sings and makes out with Saskia Post and Deanna Bond. Probably much like any indie musician from the period, anyway.
Saskia and Deanna have more to their characters and do more with them, as does Nique Needles, and I liked the side story of the one serious student Luchio, trying to work when the rest are partying. There’s all sorts of cute and now nostalgic (in a bad way) references to Australian politics andÂ society and there are character portraits that are still prevalent, like the earnest political types from the Green Left Weekly (or wherever) who have to button-hole you and tell you why you should come and march with them next Wednesday morning down George Street.
It’s not a big movie; it doesn’t go anywhere or tell you anything you didn’t know before. It doesn’t change the world and I don’t even think it’s an effective message against the drugs and party lifestyle that lead to Anna’s death (and not mean to be, anyway). That outcome is tragic and pathetic and emotionally exquisite, but it’s not not judgemental.
What this movie is, is a wonderful tone piece that just evokes a specific time and setting in my mind. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but a classic nonetheless.