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Filmmaker Mark Hartley explores Australia's hidden genre in this documentary that casually casts aside "official" film history to celebrate the demented genius of director Brian Trenchard-Smith, and the exciting wave of little-known but supremely entertaining films that entertained adventurous Australian filmgoers throughout the 1970s and '80s. Every film student worth his or her weight in celluloid has seen Breaker Morant and Picnic at Hanging Rock, but what about the lesser-known gems that didn't make the film-school textbooks? In his forward to Tim Lucas' book Mario Bava - All the Colors of the Dark, director Martin Scorsese states, "We have to keep resisting the idea of official film history, a stately procession of 'important works' that leaves some of the most exciting films and filmmakers tucked away in the shadows." In this documentary, director Hartley explores the films forgotten by "official film history" with the comprehensive eye of a true film buff. As a child watching such films as Snapshot and The Man from Hong Kong, Hartley immediately recognized how wildly disparate they were in tone and execution from the films that comprised Australia's traditional film library. Appearing like American genre films that just happened to be shot in Australia and cast with Australian actors, these so-called "Ozploitation" flicks flourished in the wake of relaxed censorship laws down under. Yet despite constant chatter about the "new wave" of Australian cinema, financially successful films like The Man from Hong Kong and Patrick that were popular both at home and abroad were never mentioned, sneeringly dismissed as "genre" films rather than Australian films. Perhaps in the wake of such successful Australian films as Wolf Creek and Undead -- and looking ahead to such films as the slasher shocker Storm Warning and the eagerly anticipated remake of Long Weekend -- curious filmgoers are finally prepared to discover what they've been missing all these years. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide
Loosely based on the 1958 comedy The Reluctant Debutante starring Sandra Dee, the family-friendly comedy What a Girl Wants features popular Nickelodeon teen star Amanda Bynes in her first feature-starring performance after her debut in Big Fat Liar. She plays teenager Daphne Reynolds, who lives in New York City with her musician mother, Libby (Kelly Preston). After she turns 17, Daphne is undecided about her future, so she takes off by herself to London in search of her father. She immediately meets cute musician Ian (Oliver James) before sneaking in to her father's estate to surprise him. He turns out to be Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), a fabulously wealthy aristocrat who doesn't even know that she exists. He had met her mother in Morocco and the two were married in a tribal ceremony. Upon their return to England, she left him and went back to the U.S. without ever revealing that she was pregnant. The uptight Henry is already flustered by his campaign for election, advised by doting aide Alistair Payne (Jonathan Pryce). His no-nonsense fiancÃ©e, Glynnis (Anna Chancellor), and her bratty daughter, Clarissa (Christina Cole), are threatened by Daphne's presence, thinking that she will hurt Henry's political aspirations by causing a scandal. However, the family matriarch (Eileen Atkins) takes a liking to her and she soon finds herself trying to liven things up at several stuffy aristocratic parties. Meanwhile, the evil Glynnis and Clarissa conspire against her by trying to sabotage her appearance, leading up to the conclusion at Daphne's very own coming-out party. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide
Just as many American studio-era directors found acclaim abroad that was denied them in their home country, by 1980 Akira Kurosawa's reputation outside Japan exceeded his esteem at home. As uncompromising as ever, he found considerable difficulty securing backing for his ambitious projects. Unsure he would be able to film it, the director, an aspiring artist before he entered filmmaking, converted Kagemusha into a series of paintings, and it was partly on the basis of these that he won the financial support of longtime admirers Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. Set in the 16th century, when powerful warlords competed for control of Japan, it offers an examination of the nature of political power and the slipperiness of identity. For some time, Shingen Takeda Tatsuya Nakadai has been able to stay removed from the heat of battle by using his brother Nobukado Tsutomu Yamazaki as a double. As the film opens, Nobukado offers another option, having discovered a condemned thief (also played by Tatsuya Nakadai) bearing an uncanny resemblance to the warlord. After he insists on witnessing the fall of an enemy in person, Shingen falls victim to a sniper's bullet, forcing his advisers to present the thief as the fallen warrior. At first awkward in his new position and plagued by dreams in which the spirit of his double confronts him, he slowly grows into the role even as his enemies begin to advance on his kingdom. The winner of the Palm D'Or at Cannes, Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior has also been released as The Double. ~ Keith Phipps, All Movie Guide