The way the movie meshes live-action sequences with documentary-style interviews (usually featuring actors playing real-life characters; though not always) is rather inspired, and the fact that Morgan has gambled on such a perilous visualization for the film – this whole ‘fake backdrop’ trend – deserves credit alon
Ben Mendelsohn, Victoria Hill, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell
It may be the diet coke of cinematic history lessons – less kick and taste than the others, and at best, good without being great – but even with its uneven balance of sight and sound (a mix that usually had to blend effectively to get an audience), “Hunt Angels” still gets the job done.
There are films for the common everyday filmgoer, and then there are films for the common everyday film nut. This is one of those films. It’s a must-see for anyone who has an interest in Australian cinema, because it effectively tells the story of how our film industry came together. Sure, it’s a skimming look at it, but it’s still an effectual look all the same – and yeah, it probably will leave you wanting more at the end.
Would you believe that there was a time in the ‘30s when U.S studios dictated what was shown in Australian multiplex cinemas? Would you believe that it was actually rather difficult to get an Aussie film off the ground? And how’s this – crooks actually use to finance half the movies made here, and there.
Yeah, funny how things haven’t changed over the course of history.
‘Angels’ encompasses one of those stories that you probably wouldn’t find in the back of Leonard Maltin’s movie encyclopaedia or see on The Biography Channel – and because of that, it plays fresh and rather compellingly. It tells of ambitious Rupert Kathner (Mendelsohn), a shoddy film producer wannabe, who turns up in glittery Sydney with a plan to take over the movie screen. With aid from Alma Brooks (Hill), Kathner embarked on a movie-making spree that took on the Hollywood barons, a corrupt police Commissioner and the cultural cringe all in their passionate pursuit to make Australian films. On the run from police across thousands of miles, they would stop at almost nothing to get their films made.
The always-solid Ben Mendelsohn makes a grand return to the big screen as Kathner, and is a fine-fit for the shonky but determined filmmaker’s trousers. Possibly better, is rising starlet Victoria Hill (“Macbeth”, “BoyTown”) who gives a multi-layered performance as siren Brooks. Hill has that perfect ‘golden era look’ that suits the film to a tee.
What also should’ve been a highlight of the movie though is the look of the thing – the backdrop is completely hand-coloured 2-D animation – but unfortunately, it isn’t. Whether it’s because we’ve been spoilt by Robert Rodriguez’s amazing “Sin City” or simply because the filmmakers couldn’t come up with enough cash to see the idea through, the film’s backgrounds look a little shabby – and in turn, they distract rather than attract. A bit clunky.
A lot of imagination has gone into the film though – the way the movie meshes live-action sequences with documentary-style interviews (usually featuring actors playing real-life characters; though not always) is rather inspired, and the fact that Morgan has gambled on such a perilous visualization for the film – this whole ‘fake backdrop’ trend – deserves credit alone.
Reviewer : Clint Morris