The US has the Deep South. We have Deep South Australia.
The US has the hillbilly. We have the ocker.
We even name our scary films after places in South Australia – or make the fictionalized ones feel too real – remember Wolf Creek?
Well, welcome to Snowtown.
And while it is a very different film to anything made by Disney, I wonder – does Snowtown have a lot more in common with Pirates Of The Caribbean – On Stranger Tides than is immediately obvious?
When you compare this apple with this orange, they could make a great double feature. First, see Snowtown – which is about a modern pirate who buried ‘treasure’ in barrels in an abandoned bank vault – then see Pirates 4 and cheer yourself up setting sail on the high seas with another bunch of much more fun reprobates headed up by a pirate who seeks the ‘treasure’ that is known as the Fountain Of Youth.
Here are some similarities and differences to illustrate why they could play as a double feature.
SIMILARITY – very weird things happen on the high seas in On Stranger Tides. Very weird things happen in Snowtown.
DIFFERENCE – the character of John Bunting required the actor to gain weight. The character of Jack Sparrow did not require Johnny Depp to gain weight – but he appears to have anyway (he did in The Tourist too).
SIMILARITY – both films screened at this year’s Cannes film festival.
DIFFERENCE – Pirates 4 is loaded with Oscar winners and nominees – Geoffrey Rush, Hans Zimmer, Rob Marshall, Penelope Cruz, Johnny Depp, etc. Snowtown has two lead characters played by newbies in their first feature films – Daniel Henshall and Lucas Pittaway and is directed by Justin Kurzel – it’s his debut feature too. Lucas bears an uncanny accidental resemblance to Heath Ledger.
SIMILARITY – a major character Barbossa played by Geoffrey Rush has a wooden leg. All the characters in Snowtown have splinters in their souls.
DIFFERENCE – Pirates 4 is in 3D. You wouldn’t want to see Snowtown in 3D.
SIMILARITY – both films have barrels in them.
DIFFERENCE – one film can be seen by kids all over the world and has a ride at Disneyland. The other film is not for kids and anyone trying to turn it into a theme park ride would end up in jail for a long time.
SIMILARITY – both films are stories about scurvy suspects headed up by relatively insane captains who encourage others to engage in illegal activity in the pursuit of a somewhat questionable higher ideal.
DIFFERENCE – Depp has signed on for Pirates 5. There’s no sign of Snowtown 2 but if there is they might call it Snowtown 2 – In Stranger Towns and set it somewhere else in South Australia.
SIMILARITY – both are in Australian cinemas from May 19.
DIFFERENCE – Snowtown is gritty realism based on a gruesome true story whereas Pirates 4 is played out like a screwball comedy full of slapstick and stunt violence. The villains are dastardly, some of the damsels are in real distress and the tomboys can kick butt with the best of the boys.
As well as the Oscar-winning talent both in front of and behind the cameras, mention must be made of some superb supporting cast in Pirates 4. Ian McShane (Blackbeard) who’s a favourite actor of mine and sublime in every role he tackles. But talk about channelling the true spirit of a King prone to excess – check out actor Richard Griffiths! He’s a lovable pig of man as much the original Pigsy was lovable in the TV series Monkey Magic.
It’s also terrific to see Judi Dench in a very small but sexy role as the sprightly society cougar still keen for a bit of slap and tickle – no matter how it lands in her lap. And look who’s been taking acting lessons? Keefy Richards won’t win awards for playing Captain Teague but he sure is holding his own in scenes with Johnny Depp now.
And in Snowtown – wait til you see the transformation of blokey actor Richard Green into a decrepit chain-smoking skinny old tranny called Barry. I thought he was an actual tranny – not an actor. That’s some extraordinary characterization of sublimated masculinity.
In both films, it’s interesting to see how a man with an idea – no matter how skewed – combined with the ability to act upon that idea – no matter how corruptly – can lead many horses to water and even make them drink. Jack Sparrow and John Bunting do have this powerful ability in common.
I caught up with the cast and director of Snowtown as well as Geoffrey Rush for Pirates 4. To see all these interviews along with some great behind the scenes footage check out Movie Juice on STARPICS channel 415 at 6pm Monday night (as well as 8pm on STARPICS 2 and both channels have their own HD channel with Dolby 5.1 surround sound).
In the meantime here’s a preview of my chat with Geoffrey Rush and a bit of the Snowtown interviews with some footage from the film’s trailer.
(If you listen closely you can hear the cameraman quietly laughing during my G Rush interview.)