Assignment Two
Critical Review and Bibliography
The Final Winter
(Jane Forrest and Brian Andrews 2007)

Student’s Name:                   Tristan Ward
Tutor’s Name:                      Dr Garry Gillard
Unit Code:                            MCC 231 Australian Cinema
Due Date:                             18/04/08

Part One: Film Information

Cast

Matt Nable                  Grub Henderson
Matt Johns                  Jack Cooper
John Jarratt                  Murray Perry
Conrad Coleby            Billy Webster
Raelee Hill                   Emma Henderson
Kate Mulvany                         Kate
Michelle Langstone     Mia Henderson
Nathaniel Dean            Trent Henderson

Crew
The following Information is taken from the Official The Final Winter web site, (http://www.thefinalwinter.com/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/)
Directors                               
Jane Forrest
Jane completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communications at University of Technology Sydney in 1995. She then worked at the New South Wales Film & Television Office, overseeing their financing projects. Jane then moved to the freelance film world working mainly as a Production Co-ordinator from 2000, on Australian and International productions such as Garage Days, Farscape, Little Fish, and Ghost Rider.

Brian Andrews
Brian is an experienced film editor, graphic designer and a talented songwriter/musician. Brian played basketball for the Sydney Kings and the Townsville Suns in the National Basketball League before obtaining a diploma in audio engineering and taking a job as the audiovisual technician at the Brisbane Convention Centre. Brian, along with Anthony has been running a successful design multi media business for the past seven years.

Producers
Anthony Coffey
Anthony played rugby league for Manly in Sydney and Carlisle in the United Kingdom. After working in management for an international hospitality company leading up to and during the Sydney Olympics, Anthony established Hurricane Media. This is a successful multi media business that has been operating for the past seven years, working closely with Brian. The Final Winter is his first experience in feature film production.

Michelle Russell
Michelle graduated from the University of Technology, Sydney in 1993 having completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. Since then she has worked freelance in the film and television industry, Production Managing on films such as "Mullet", "The Rage In Placid Lake", "Garage Days", "Farscape - The Peacekeeper Wars" and "Little Fish". She has also Line-Produced "Man-Thing" (Marvel Comics), "Stepfather of the Bride" and most recently "Romulus, My Father" (still to be released).

Director of Photography
Ian Jones ACS
Ian Jones has worked extensively in Australia and Internationally and is highly regarded for his stylish cinematography. His credits include films such as "Bad Boy Bubby", "Alexandra's Project", "Tracker" and "Human Touch". He was 2nd unit DP on "Rabbit Proof Fence", "Clear & Present Danger" and "Babe, Pig in the City". Ian currently has AFI nominations for his work on the television series "Remote Area Nurse" and for the acclaimed feature "10 Canoes".

The Editor
Matthew Villa
Matthew has had a long association with the Australian Film Industry during which time he has worked both as an assistant and VFX Editor on such productions as "Babe", "Babe -  Pig in the City", "Dark City", "Moulin Rouge", "MI:2", "I, Robot" and "King Kong". He recently finished working on the new animated feature "Happy Feet" before joining the crew on "The Last Winter".

Production Designer
Murray Picknett -Production Designer
Murray Picknett has a design career that started at the BBC and followed on at the ABC, where he designed tele-features and mini-series including the landmark "Blue Murder". He has been the Production Designer on many feature films, most recently working on the Project Greenlight thriller "Solo". His major credits include "Black & White", "Risk" and the tap dancing steel worker film, "Bootmen" for which he won the AFI Award for Best Production Design in 2000. The year prior to that he won the same accolade for the period feature "Passion" about the composer Percy Granger.
Costume Designer
Emily Seresin - Costume Designer
Emily Seresin's costume design credits include "The Night We Called It A Day", "Somersault", "Danny Deckchair", "The Monkey's Mask", "Two Hands", "Strange Planet" and "Praise".  In 2005 Emily designed the costumes for Cate Shortland's "The Silence" and the feature films "48 Shades" and "Middle of Nowhere". Her most recent work was on Cherie Nowlan's latest feature "Clubland".
Realse Date of Production
The film The Final Winter was released was the 6th of September 2007. The DVD release was the 14th of February 2008.
Production Budget and Box office for opening week
The films budget was rased to $1.4 million and in its opening week made $170,540 and was the tenth top grossing film in Australia for the week starting the 6th of September through to the 12th of September 2007.

The following was from a interview John Jarratt had with the Courier Mail the day the film was released.
"The fact that The Final Winter has an ultra-low budget of about $1.4 million didn't daunt me at all because what drew me to the film, what always draws me to a film, is a really good script. The script, the script and the script – that's what it's all about. It doesn't matter what the subject is. As for the budget, well that's what we have to contend with all the time in Aussie films. I've cut my teeth on that." John Jarratt 2007
http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22260617-5003420,00.html

The following web sites contain reviews and interviews with the cast and crew about the film The Final Winter.
http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s2004682.htm

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22260617-5003420,00.html

http://www.thefinalwinter.com/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/

http://www.empireonline.com.au/news/story.asp?NID=1000002087

http://www.smh.com.au/news/film/face-value-proves-its-worth/2007/12/30/1198949671808.html

http://www.yourmovies.com.au/movies/index.cfm?action=movie_info&title_id=33970

http://au.movies.yahoo.com/The+Final+Winter/movie/19776/

http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/the-final-winter/2007/09/06/1188783399660.html

http://www.smh.com.au/news/film/league-up-in-lights/2007/06/23/1182019432385.html

http://www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/the-final-winter/2007/09/06/1188783369231.html

http://reviews.media-culture.org.au/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=2211

http://thecia.com.au/reviews/f/final-winter.shtml

http://www.webwombat.com.au/entertainment/movies/final-winter.htm

As you can see these are only a small number of web sites with the most relevant information. The presence this film has on the net is one of the best I’ve seen for an Australian film. This is due to the fact that the film is released under Paramount Pictures Australia

Part Two: Critical Review of Film and its Literature

The Final Winter looks at what is known as the heyday of rugby league in New South Wales. The story centres on Grub Henderson, a hard man of the game, his team’s enforcer. The film begins with a must win match for Grub's team, the Newtown Jets. During the game there is a personal battle between Grub and his brother who play on opposite teams. Throughout the opening game Grub is reminded by his coach to keep a cool head and forget his brother and focus on wining. Then in the final moments Grub elbows his brother in the head and as a result loses the match for his team and is placed on report. This incident creates a distance between his relationship with his coach who is already under fire from the team's new manager, who has the future of the game in his mind and not the livelihood of the players. We then watch as the days count down to the next game, one week. As the days go by we follow the daily life of Grub who is a tradesman as well as a sportsman. We also see Grub's family slowly start to distance itself from him. His wife slowly starts to fall out of love with her husband and his daughters hardly recognise Grub as their father. Grub seems to spend more time at the pub than at home. Grub is also reminded by his coach that he may have played his last game of the season if not his career. This just makes Grub more agitated and distant from his wife and children. Meanwhile Grub's brother is looking at what his future holds and his wife is pressuring him to go back to the Newtown Jets. The manager and his wife then manipulate him in to resigning from the club. Finally Grub begins to understand that he needs his brother's help and asks him to speak up for him at the disciplinary hearing so that he can play one last match. We then come to the climax of the film when Grub faces the disciplinary board and finally his brother speaks up for Grub and is let off. Grub then decides after being dropped by his club for next year's season, due to the manager, and finally listening to his wife, that this will be his final winter.

The film shows us the past history of the game of rugby league and the games move into the commercial world and away from the community. It also shows us the differences in how the players of the past lived compared to now. This can mainly be seen in the scenes where Grub has to go to work the day after his match at the crack of dawn, something modern players wouldn’t have to deal with. The film also shows a scene where at half time in the sheds some players are having a smoke - something that is unheard of in the modern game of league. The film explores the past violence of the sport and its move toward legitimacy. A part of the film that was looked at, but not in any real depth, is the relationship Grub had with his father: we are only given insights but no real look. One of the more interesting parts I found in this film is the way it showed male relationships. Not much is said between the male cast unless it has to be said or is just a side chat - the emotions of the male characters are left hidden internally. However slowly we start to see bits of it. Another major subplot of the film is the pub culture in Australia. We are introduced to this in a flashback when Grub's father takes him to the pub under age something not unheard of back in the early 1980s. The film also has a lot of references to past players who are also given minor roles in the film. A great example of this is in the boardroom scene: former Newtown Jets player and NSW origin coach Tommy Raudonikis makes a cameo.

The film is directed by two newcomers Jane Forrest and Brian Andrews. Although Jane Forrest had done short films as well as had experience with working in the film industry for a number of years this film was both hers and Brian’s first feature film. It was also Matt Nable’s first screenplay having originally written it as a book in 1995. Matt Nable, as well as Matt Johns, make there acting debuts in this film. Both had never acted before and received acting training before shooting the film. Although this film is full of firsts for key members of the production, they do manage to surround themselves with talent. In the acting department we see well rounded actors such as John Jarratt and Nathaniel Dean and actress Raelee Hill. All of whom have had past success both in Film and television.  In the behind-the-camera work  we see first time producer Anthony Coffey - and Michelle Russell, who has worked on a number of films, most recently the AFI film of the year Romulus, My Father. As the director of photography they have Ian Jones who has worked both in Australia and overseas with film like Bad Boy Bubby and more recently Ten Canoes. Matthew Villa as editor has worked on films such as King Kong, MI:2, Babe and more recently Happy Feet.  As you can see from this list the film surrounds itself with the best Australia has to offer in each department.

The film had a small budget, raised by the crew privately and then taken up by Paramount Pictures Australia for release. The film however - despite its huge critical success and great reviews as well as its marketing of the release during the NRL finals series - in the end did not get a wide audience. The film did poorly in the cinemas with not much of a crowd coming out to see the film. This is a common problem with Australian films, great cast, crew and story but no one wants to pay to see it at the cinema. The film will most likely have better success as a DVD release, however this to remains to be seen as the figures for DVD sales for this film are not yet available. This stands the same with other highly acclaimed Australian films, where their biggest problem is that no-one in Australia will go to the cinema to see one but rather wait for it to come out on DVD or even television. And unfortunately this is where Australian film has stayed for a number of years with a few exceptions such as Crocodile Dundee which did in fact do better in the USA then here in Australia. The idea of releasing the film during the NRL finals series and the inclusion of Matt Johns as a main cast member was a smart idea and gave the film some free press on The NRL Footy Show. This however did not in the long run help the film's cause.     

 This movie would and could fit in to two main types of Australian films. The first and most obvious is as a sports film, a few other examples of Australian sports films are Footy Legends and The Dismissal. The second type of Australian film is a melodrama. I would class the film as a sports melodrama. This due to the fact that melodrama is “ a kind of super-genre” (Gillard 2008 pp.49). Gillard states that melodrama “is a term which has been used in the film industry since the beginnings, and applied to a wide varity of types of film”. And due to fact that no one states sports films as a type of Australian film even though this one has clear showings of one. Australian films tends to lean more towards the melodrama type. This due to the fact most Australian films centre around families or relationships between different characters. The film could also be seen as a biopic for the sport of rugby league. Even though the film is based on a fictional character the movies states “the era he played in was not”. All of this makes the film a sports melodrama.

Bibliography

Bordwell, David and Thompson, Kristin (2004) Film Art: An Introduction - 7th edition, New York, McGraw-Hill Companies.

Gillard, Garry (2008) Ten Types of Australian Film, Murdoch University.

http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/

http://www.abc.net.au/atthemovies/txt/s2004682.htm

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22260617-5003420,00.html

http://www.thefinalwinter.com/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/

http://www.empireonline.com.au/news/story.asp?NID=1000002087

http://www.smh.com.au/news/film/face-value-proves-its-worth/2007/12/30/1198949671808.html

http://www.yourmovies.com.au/movies/index.cfm?action=movie_info&title_id=33970

http://au.movies.yahoo.com/The+Final+Winter/movie/19776/

http://www.smh.com.au/news/film-reviews/the-final-winter/2007/09/06/1188783399660.html

http://www.smh.com.au/news/film/league-up-in-lights/2007/06/23/1182019432385.html

http://www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/the-final-winter/2007/09/06/1188783369231.html

http://reviews.media-culture.org.au/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=2211

http://thecia.com.au/reviews/f/final-winter.shtml

http://www.webwombat.com.au/entertainment/movies/final-winter.htm