One of the joys of Netflix is their vast library of international films that get no theatrical distribution in America. Seraphic Secret goes through periods of screening, including but not limited to, South Korean, British, Chinese, Scandinavian, Japanese, Bollywood, and most recently, Australian movies.
Aussie films have a peculiar charm that will have you calling your friends mate, and, if you are so inclined, hoisting endless glasses of beer. You will also feel compelled to have a cuppa, cup of tea. But do not, I repeat, do not under any circumstances enter an Australian bakery and order a golliwog.
Another charm of Australian cinema is the, um, Yiddish.
Yup, a common exclamation in Australia is (according to subtitles) “Oi”, equivalent to, “Hey!”, but which, to this Jewish screenwriter, sounds remarkably like “Oy”, shorthand for “Woe is me.”
Loopy linguistics aside, here are three films from Down Under that are outstanding and available via Netflix streaming.
Swerve (2011). This is a taut thriller that brings together classic noir ingredients — in the vast Australian outback. Jason Clarke does a wonderful turn as a corrupt local cop in a town called, get this, Neverest. Emma Booth delivers a scorching performance as the femme fatale who casts her spell over unsuspecting motorist and too honest Iraq war vet, David Lyons. Screenwriters are fond of joking that the only elements you need for a plot is a girl with a gun and a suitcase full of drug money. This film proves the truth of that Hollywood wisdom.
Tracks (2013). In 1977, Robyn Davidson, an emotionally damaged woman, trekked for nine months across 1,600 miles of the Australian outback with four camels and one dog. Mia Wasikowska turns in a beautifully modulated performance as Davidson. Adam Driver is the photographer who publicizes Davidson’s trek in the pages of National Geographic. At the same time Driver serves as a love interest. But can Davidson truly love anyone? We try and tease out this mysterious young woman’s motivation for her almost suicidal adventure. But in the end, her desire for solitude remains a mystery — which is oddly satisfying.
These Final Hours (2013). This is a deeply touching film about the end of the world. But like all good films the subtext is the real story. And this low budget thriller explores the unlikely relationship between a selfish, substance-abusing lout, and a scared little girl who’s looking for her father. This film is testament that a tight script and fine acting are far more important than special effects. Endings are difficult with most any film, but especially with end-of-the-world stories. “These Final Hours” manages to pull off a resolution that is honest and organic to the narrative — and fearfully unexpected.