MED231 Australian Cinema
Critical Review and Bibliography
By Danielle Marwick
Dr Garry Gillard
DIRECTOR: CHERIE NOWLAN
PRODUCER: ROSEMARY BLIGHT
WRITER: KEITH THOMPSON
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: SCOTT GARVIE
CINEMATOGRAPHER/DOP: MARK WAREHAM, ACS
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: JESSIE MAGNUM
PRODUCTION MANAGER: LORELLE ADAMSON
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: NELL HANSON
ART DIRECTOR: CHARLIE REVAI
SET DIRECTOR: RICHIE DEHNE
COSTUME DESIGNER: EMILY SERESIN
KEY HAIR/MAKEUP: CHIARA TRIPODI
EDITOR: SCOTT GRAY
ORIGINAL MUSIC/COMPOSER: MARTIN ARMIGER
CASTING: NIKKI BARRETT
Jean: BRENDA BLETHYN
Tim: KHAN CHITTENDEN
Mark: RICHARD WILSON
Jill: EMMA BOOTH
Kelly: KATIE WALL
Lana: REBECCA GIBNEY
John: FRANKIE J. HOLDEN
Ronnie Stubbs: PHILIP QUAST
Shane: RUSSELL DYKSTRA
OTHER FILM INFORMATION:
TAGLINES: The only remedy for love is to love more. In this house, letting go is never easy.
YEAR OF PRODUCTION: 2007
DVD RELEASE DATE: 12th February 2008
CLASSIFICATION: Rated Australia M. (Moderate sex scenes, moderate coarse language).
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes
DISTRIBUTORS: Palace Films - Australia
PRODUCTION COMPANYÕS: R.B. Films
OPENING WEEK $AUD: 89,342
TOTAL GROSS $AUD: 1,351,125
DVD RELEASE DATE: 12th February 2008
WORLD PREMIERE AT THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
USA: 21 JANUARY 2007 SUNDANCE FILM FEST.
FRANCE: 16 MAY 2007 CANNES FILM MARKET
UK: 11 JULY 2007 CAMBRIDGE FILM FEST.
AUSTRALIA: 28 JUNE 2007
USA: 4 JULY 2007 (LIMITED)
USA: 3 AUGUST 2007
UK: 21 SEPTEMBER 2007
AFI Award: Best Supporting Actress
FCCA AWARD: Best Actress – Supporting Role
AFI NOMIATIONS: - Best Cinematography:
- Best Costume Design:
- Best Direction:
- Best Editing:
- Best Lead Actress:
- Best Production Design:
- Best Screenplay:
- Best Sound:
- Best Supporting Actor:
Frankie J. Holden
- Best Supporting Actor:
ASSG NOMINATION: - Best Achievement in Sound for Film Sound Design:
Feature Film Soundtrack of the Year
Awgie NOMINATION: - Feature Film – Original:
FCCA NOMIATION: - Best Actor – Supporting Role:
IF NOMINATION: - Best Actress:
- Best Production Design:
- Best Sound:
FILMÕS ONLINE PRESENCE IN WEB LITERATURE
Clubland has an average online presence, although comprehensive enough to find substantial websites that direct you to the film. When doing a broad title search for the film, the first website that appears is the official website, then it becomes a search game there on. There are pages for the imdb.com, Australian Screen and abc at the movies, however this is the extent of the search findings.
The search results were unsatisfactory for Clubland, however when searching for the film by itÕs other name Introducing the Dwights which was the American title, the results are more impressive. There are far more findings when searching for the American title than the Australian title and interestingly when doing a search for the American title far more pages come up for the Australian title then in the search for Clubland.
INTERVIEWS WITH FILMMAKERS
Cherie Nowlan (Director);Keith Thompson (Writer) &Brenda Bleythn (Lead Actress)
Interviewed by Margaret Pomeranz
At the Movies Margaret and David
27 June 2007
Khan Chittenden (Lead Actor) & Richard Wilson (Supporting Actor)
Interviewed by Sean Lynch
28 June 2007
Interviewed by Luke Buckmaster
In Film Australia
Interviewed by Andrew L. Urban
On-Line & Podcast
28 June 2007
Interviewed by Annette Dasey
29 January 2008
At the Movies Margaret and David
27 June 2007
The Sydney Morning Herald
Paul Byrnes, reviewer
June 23, 2007
M/C Reviews – Culture and the Media
20 June 2007
Two Flat Whites
9th December 2007
Jake Wilson, Reviewer
June 28, 2007
Mark Beirne & Kerry Bashford
28 June 2007
The Film Pie
28 June 2007
CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE FILM
The film is focused on two points of view from the same family. A mother and her desire to revive her comedy career whilst working in a canteen and raising her two sons. The eldest son Mark has cerebral palsy and is completely reliant on the love and help of his mother and brother. And the younger son Tim is growing up and showing signs that he is ready to move on. Jean the mother becomes almost obsessive about her need for her son to stay at home and she is faced with having to let him go, whilst she is coming to terms with the fate of her comedy career.
The other point of view is from Tim, who with his brotherÕs disability has been made the man of the house since the divorce of his parents and his father moving out. Tim meets a girl whilst working one day and becomes interested in taking it further. TimÕs point of view shows the perspective of young love and the decisions he is faced with to keep a girlfriend and his mother happy. This is not easy for Tim a 21 year-old shy and tentative guy who finds himself completely out of his comfort zone. Tim is faced with a hard decision, which will he choose, a girl he is falling in love with and wants to spend the rest of his life with or his mother who has been his whole life until now.
SYNOPSIS AND COMMENTARY
Clubland starts by introducing the main actress Jean (Brenda Bleythn) in her everyday life as a single mother canteen worker by day and a comedienne on the way to reviving her career by night. Her two sons are the centre of her life, and play an integral part in her getting her career back on track, or so Jean thinks. Mark (Richard Wilson) the eldest has cerebral palsy and is reliant on his mothers care and Tim (Khan Chittenden) is a removalist by day and drives Jean to her shows of an evening. The shows are held in local Leagues clubs around Sydney that are made up of blue-collar workers that frequent the clubs for local entertainment. Jean is an overtly extraverted performer that migrated to Australia from England when she met her country-singing lover who she married and had a family with. John (Frankie J. Holden) had a hit song in the 1975 for three weeks and is now living in a one bedroom flat working as a security guard at Coles as he tries to revive his entertainment career by doing cover albums of his favourite country artists.
Tim is a shy and timid 21 year-old virgin living at home that has only had one girlfriend. The relationship went terribly wrong as his mother interfered and put an end to it. Tim meets two girls Jill (Emma Booth) and Kelly (Katie Wall) on a removalist job that brings out his introverted self. Jill is a pretty young girl that knows what she wants and how to get it. So when Tim happens to be high on her agenda Jill makes it pretty clear where things are headed between the two of them. Tim knowing how his mum reacted to the last relationship he is hesitant to tell his mum when he meets Jill. Jill is unaware of the relationship Tim has with his over bearing mother and when Tim doesnÕt explain the situation Jill becomes frustrated and suspicious that Tim is hiding something.
The awkwardness of TimÕs shy and reserved actions are intensified around Jill and at times it is evident that he is left feeling quite embarrassed and unsure of himself. As Jill and Tim start to date and get to know each other it is evident Tim is uncertain of how to act around Jill and what to say, his conversation skills lessen, he becomes clumsy over his words and what he wants to say clearly does not come out, this in turn makes him look very nervous to Jill. As Jill tries to find out more about Tim and his family, Tim becomes even more reserved about his family and seems embarrassed to tell Jill that his parents are entertainers. TimÕs naivety of how to be with a girl is paramount when Jill starts to question Tim regarding whether they should continue to see each other.
Jean is made aware that Tim is up to something when Mark is unable to keep information from his mother about TimÕs goings on. Mark becomes stressed and Jean realises that if she wants to find out what Tim is up to then the best person to get the information from is Mark.
Jean sees that Mark also has a girlfriend and is upset even more now as it looks like both her boys are moving on without her. JeanÕs relationships seem to be holding her back and as sure as she seems about herself it seems that she is unable to help her relationships.
As Tim and JillÕs relationship grows, Jill is upfront with Tim in terms of sexual exploration and again Tim is unsure of how to react or answer. The more time they spend together doesnÕt seem to help TimÕs confidence grow and at times he only becomes more awkward than usual. With his mother constantly at the heart of his worries and his inexperience with girls it becomes seemingly harder for the two to keep dating. JillÕs suspicions grow when Tim is hesitant in the bedroom and refuses to stay the night. Unfortunately Jill isnÕt his only problem here, as Jean has now found out about the relationship and starts to make it harder for Tim to see Jill.
TimÕs sexual inexperience does not help his relationship with Jill, although he starts to realise that his mother canÕt run his life anymore. He realises if he is going to get what he wants, which is Jill, he has to stand up to Jean. TimÕs stance only intensifies JeanÕs unhappiness and again as Marks girlfriend rings, Jean realises she is losing her boys and doesnÕt know how to cope with it.
Tim finally brings Jill around to meet Jean and Jill is made to feel out of place in JeanÕs presence. Jean does not go out of her way to make her feel welcome; she addresses Jill as Samantha, TimÕs ex-girlfriend. The next meeting they have Jean upsets Jill enough to leave Tim. Jean starts to loose control after a few drinks and starts to take it out on Jill. After Tim stands up to Jean, she kicks the boys out of the house and starts to spiral downwards.
Jill puts an ultimatum to Tim after the fight that itÕs either her or Jean, so they leave and go to the only other place they have their dadÕs. JeanÕs insecurities and problems come crashing to a head when she finally gets an audition to get her comedy career back on track. In JeanÕs eyes this is the biggest opportunity of her life since the boys have been born, although it doesnÕt go as planned and fails miserably.
This spirals Jean to the brink and she starts drinking excessively and closes herself off to everyone. JeanÕs relationships all come to a head and she is forced to face where her life is going and how she is going to cope with her boys growing up and moving on. This spiral of JeanÕs forces Tim to stand up to his mother and put it all on the table and finally Jean accepts that Tim and Jill are together.
Jean finally understands where life is realistically for her when she drops the shield and starts to let her family in. Clubland is a wonderful family melodrama/comedy/coming of age story that touches you from all different angles. The characters create a sense of realism touching on issues almost every family go through. Clubland is a great Australian film.
CRITICAL UPTAKE OF THE FILM
Clubland (aka Intoducing the Dwights) reviews are tremendously positive. The target audience for the film is older and younger which helps appeal to a wider audience. The film is supported amongst the critics and said to be an important piece of Australian film literature. The film encourages a positive progression in the way sex and intimacy should be tackled in Australian films. Sex isnÕt easy to portray on the screen in a sexy inexperienced way and Chittenden and Booth managed to perform the scenes in a comfortable realistic manner and the rawness of the characters allows the sex scenes to be genuine and not embarrassing. It was also said that the story of the mother and son administered realism and just because a mother should let go doesnÕt mean it is going to be easy. Overall Clubland was a huge success for Australian film and the box office is evidence of this, total gross $AUD 1,351,125.
PRODUCTION OF CLUBLAND
Please see the Production notes that give a comprehensive breakdown of how the crew developed the film at the website provided – PRODUCTION NOTES
SUBSEQUENT AND PRIOR WORK OF CREW AND CAST
CHERIE NOWLAN - DIRECTOR
Cherie Nowlan has been a director since 1995 when she produced her first short movie ŌLucindaĶ. From there Nowlan has one other film to her directors resume which is Thank God He Met Lizzie in 1997 which was credited with an AFI Award to Cate Blanchett for Best Performance by and Actress in a Supporting Role and an FCCA Award also given to Cate for Best Supporting Actor – Female.
More recently Cherie has worked as director on a telemovie Small Claims: White Wedding in 2005; a TV series The Alice in 2005; Small Claims telemovie in 2004; Marking Time a 2 part mini-series in 2003 which Nowlan won an AFI for Best Director; 2 Episodes of The Secret Life of Us in 2002; and a short movie Lucinda in 1995.
ROSEMARY BLIGHT – PRODUCER
Rosemary Blight is a well-known producer in the Australian Film Industry in Cinema and television. Rosemary is currently working in post-production as executive producer in two films, Scorched & Elise.
Blight has most recently work as a producer on The Eternity Man 2008; Lockie Leonard for TV in 2007; Stepfather of the Bride for TV 2006; Small Claims: The Reunion for TV 2006; Small Claims: White Wedding for TV in 2005; Small Claims TV 2004; Go Big TV 2004; as a consulting producer in Teesh and Trude 2002; TV series Love is a Four-Letter Word in 2001; Fresh Air 1999; In the Winter Dark 1998; Mary 1994; as a video producer for Jason Donovan: Greatest Video Hits in 1991.
MARK WAREHAM ACS - CINEMATOGRAPHY/DOP
Mark Wareham is currently in post-production as director of photography on TV series Scorched. In 1999 Wareham won an Award of Distinction from the Australian Cinematographers Society for 13 Gantry Row. Wareham has worked as a director of photography since 1996 and most recently completing The View from Greenhaven 2008; The Eternity Man 2008; Joanne Lees; Murder in the Outback 2007; Boytown 2006; Answered by Fire TV mini-series 2006; Small Claims: The Reunion for TV 2006; Little Oberon TV 2005; Small Claims: White Wedding for TV in 2005; The Extra 2005; Big Reef TV 2004; Go Big TV 2004; D.C.Sniper: 23 Days of Fear TV 2003; The Postcard Bandit TV 2003; Evil Never Dies TV 2003; BlackJack TV 2003; Murder in Greenwich TV 2002; Flatland TV 2002; BeastMaster TV 1999; First Daughter TV 1999; Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde TV 1999; Mumbo Jumbo TV 1999; Tales of the South Seas TV 1998; 13 Gantry Row 1998; Murder Call TV 1997; The Wayne Manifesto TV 1996.
KEITH THOMPSON – WRITER
Keith Thompson has been a writer since first starting on Matlock Police in 1975. Thompson won an Australian WritersÕ Guild Award in 2004 for Small Claims telemovie the award was shared with Kaye Bendle. Most recently and for the last twenty-five years Thompson has worked on the following as a Writer on Lockie Leonard TV in 2007; Battle of Long Tan TV 2006; Small Claims: The Reunion TV 2006; Small Claims: White Wedding TV in 2005; Small Claims TV 2004; Fireflies TV 2004; White Collar Blue for TV 2003; Sheena for TV 2000; Halifax f.p: Swimming with Sharks TV 1999; Wildside for TV 1997; Heartbreak High TV 1994; Seven Deadly Sins TV mini-series 1993; Police Rescue TV 1992; Bachelor Girl 1988; Barracuda 1988; Five Mile Creek TV 1983.
BRENDA BLETHYN - LEAD ACTRESS
Brenda Blethyn has been in the film industry for over twenty year and has achieved 12 awards, 21 nominations and 2 Oscar Nominations in that time. Blethyn is currently in production in King of the Pipers 2008; pre-production in Non One Gets Off in This Town 2008; and post-production in The Calling 2008. Blethyn has notably been in over 60 productions in her career taking home a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.
A few of BlethynÕs other film work has been Atonement 2007; Pride and Prejudice 2005; PoohÕs Heffalump Movie 2005; On a Clear Day 2005; A Way of Life 2004; Beyond the Sea 2004; Piccadilly Jim 2004; Blizzard 2003; The Sleeping Dictionary 2003; Plots with a View 2002; The Wild Thornberrys Movie 2002; Sonny 2002; Pumpkin 2002; On the Nose 2001; Lovely and Amazing 2001; Daddy and Them 2001; The Yellow Bird 2001; Yes You Can 2001; Saving Grace 2000; Music from Another Room 1998; Little Voice 1998; In the Winter Dark 1998; Night Train 1998; GirlsÕ Night 1998; Secrets and Lies 1996; A River Runs Through it 1992; and The Witches 1990.
KHAN CHITTENDEN – LEAD ACTOR
Khan Chittenden is relatively new in the film industry having come from television. Chittenden is currently in post-production on How to Change in 9 Weeks 2008. Chittenden has also been involved in Endless Bummer 2008; West 2007; Wobbegong 2006; and Caterpillar Wish 2006.
CLUBLAND AS A COMEDY/DRAMA AUSTRALIAN FILM
Clubland is recognisable in Australian film as Comedy and can also be classified as a drama. ŌThe comedy film is perhaps the most difficult type to write about:Éit is also one of the least singular or uniformed formsÉ.it is rarely found alone, but almost always in combination with another genreĶ (Gillard, 87). The film is removed slightly from other Australian films that have gone before it in this category for example Muriels Wedding and Priscilla Queen of the Desert and The Castle, as it tackles issues honestly without over exaggerating the comedy or the drama.
The film deals with its stories in a different path, it always seems to keep a ÔrealÕ feel to the film and never strays over too far into the comedy stream. The mix of comedy and drama give the film a sense of Australiana and the characters a sense of realism. Brenda BlethynÕs character is a stand up comedienne and even when she is not on the stage she uses her wit and comical wizardry to survive in life and in a sense hides behind it. However this is a clear guard that Jean uses as a defence to protect herself and therefore it takes something away from the comedy line.
I would classify this film as a dramatic comedy as it is not reliant on the jokes of the comedy, but is dependent on the heart of the story, a mother coming to terms with her sons moving on and the story of the sons coming of age. I would also argue the comedy assists the drama and not vice-versa. As funny as the comedy is in the film, the story would not survive without the storyline and the dramatic intrigue that is created throughout the film.
Clubland is noticeably a Drama film as the stories related to the film relate to the daily life of the Maitland family. There are highs and lows, insecurities and problems arise as a family comes to terms with moving on to the next chapter in their lives.
The plot is careful not to digress from the heart of the story and producer Rosemary Blight says about the film ŌIt had heart and characters with life and emotional layers. I like making films that traverse dark emotional places but I wanted to make a film that delivered something back to the audience with joy. At the end of Clubland you come out feeling good.Ķ (Blight, 2007).
Cinematic Intelligence Agency, http://thecia.com.au/reviews/c/clubland.shtml, (Accessed 7/04/08)
Clubland, http://clublandthefilm.com, (Accessed 10/04/08)
Gillard, Garry 2007, Ten Types of Australian Film.
In Film Australia, http://www.infilm.com.au/features/cherienowlan.html (Accessed 1/04/08)
International Movie Database (IMDb), http://www.imdb.com,(Accessed 8/04/08).
Movie Marshal, http://www.moviemarshal.com.au, (Accessed 4/04/08).
Warner Independent Pictures, http://wip.warnerbros.com/introducingthedwights/, (Accessed 5/04/08)