music friday: spotify wrapped
losing it at the movies: blume in love (paul mazursky, 1973)

sweet country (warwick thornton, 2017)

This is the thirteenth film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2021-22", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 7th annual challenge, and my third time participating (my first year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", and last year's at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21"). Week 13 is called "Meat Pie Western Week":

You've heard of the spaghetti Western, now get ready for its Australian cousin: the meat pie Western. Essentially just Western films made in Australia, typically set within the Australian Outback, the meat pie Western offers up some similar themes of isolation and colonialism as your standard American made fare. Dig in!

This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen Meat Pie Western film.

Meat Pie Westerns. Can't say I'd heard of the genre before. Turns out, including Sweet Country, I've seen seven Meat Pie Westerns. That's misleading ... four of them are Mad Max movies, which I don't think of as Westerns, Meat Pie or anything else. (The Nightingale was a popular choice for this challenge, and it's a very good movie.) Sweet Country feels like a Western, with its vast landscapes and people riding horses. The presence of Aboriginal characters offers a different subtext than we usually get in American Westerns, adding race and class to the mix. I imagine it plays much differently in Australia.

I recognized two actors. Sam Neill is like the quintessential Australian, except he was born in Northern Ireland and moved to New Zealand as a kid. Bryan Brown is that Australian. The two are apparently good friends ... both are in their 70s now, and still looking good. I forget what movie it was, but there was a film with Brown where he seemed to have his shirt off all of the time, which led to my wife and I calling him Bryan "Beefcake" Brown ever since. He was 70 when he made Sweet Country, and sure enough, he's still taking his shirt off ... he's still got the beef. Hamilton Morris is the lead, an Aboriginal farm worker who kills a white man in self-defense. He lends gravitas to a movie that is pretty full of that kind of seriousness, and it's amazing that this was his only acting job beyond a couple of episodes of a TV series. Natassia Gorey Furber, who plays the farm worker's wife, was also making her debut, and she is heartbreaking.

Director Warwick Thornton is new to me. He has worked as a cinematographer (he fills that function here, as well), and the movie is gorgeous. Sweet Country is solid and easy to recommend, although Jennifer Kent's The Nightingale remains my favorite Meat Pie (I'm not counting Mad Max movies).


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