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CACTUS: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
John (Travis McMahon) kidnaps a young man one night in Sydney and bundles him into his car for a long drive into the outback. The prisoner, Eli (David Lyons), is frightened but confused why he is being kidnapped - and by whom. The long drive pits the men against each other, but it also forces them into an uneasy bond as John reluctantly reveals his compelling motivation for taking on this job. A single unintended event leads to the unraveling of John's delivery plan and thrusts the two men into a vortex of tragic consequences.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Beginning with a no-nonsense sequence that sidesteps pleasantries, preliminaries or establishing scenes, Jasmine Yuen Carrucan's debut feature thrusts us into a dramatic scenario in which the language of cinema does all the talking. Dialogue is sparse, but communication is endless. It's an impressive debut with a robust backbone; it's a holistic, single minded screenplay with a well defined trajectory and something to say about humanity - and it's a positive, in a perverted kind of way.

The film is flawed in parts, sagging about the hour mark and with minor mistakes and some lack of experience, but they are not flaws that bite into the film's overall success - even though the screenplay doesn't stack up to probing logical analysis. It has great 'feel'. Travis McMahon makes a good fist of the determined kidnapper, whose single minded objective is to earn the money for reasons best left for you to discover in the way the filmmakers intended. David Lyons, in a physically demanding role as the victim, makes a great impression as an actor capable of complexity and sudden shifts in mood.

Excellent cameos from Bryan Brown as the country cop who plays a crucial role in the plot, despite miniscule screen time, and Shane Jacobson as a truckie with an equally small but important role. Both characters are ripped out of Aussie outback imagery in every sense, and add layers to the economical yet powerful drama Carrucan has fashioned out of a simple idea.

Nerida Tyson-Chew again delivers a terrific score, one that sidles up beautifully to the film's tone and emotional landscape, always inventive without being obtrusive. Speaking of music, the film makes good use of Cindy Walker's philosophical oldie, Don't Catch Your Chickens Before They Hatch, not to mention the wicked use of The Wiggles' Hot Potato, played very loud as a form of mild torture.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the title, cactus is the Australian slang for being up shit creek without a paddle.

DVD special features include cast and crew interviews and deleted scenes.

Published September 17, 2008

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

CACTUS: DVD (M)
(Aust, 2008)

CAST: Travis McMahon, David Lyons, Bryan Brown, Shane Jacobson, Daniel Krige, Celia Ireland, Zoe Tuckwell-Smith, Elspeth Baird

PRODUCER: Paul Sullivan

DIRECTOR: Jasmine Yuen Carrucan

SCRIPT: Jasmine Yuen Carrucan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Florian Emmerich

EDITOR: Mark Perry

MUSIC: Nerida Tyson-Chew

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Aaron Crothers

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 1, 2008

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast and crew interview and Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes [English subtitles]

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: September 17, 2008







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